Until the formation of the American Association in 1882 as a second major league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (1871–1875) and then the National League (founded 1876) represented the top level of organized baseball in the United States. All championships were awarded to the team with the best record at the end of the season, without a postseason series being played. From 1884 to 1890, the National League and the American Association faced each other in a series of games at the end of the season to determine an overall champion. These series were disorganized in comparison to the modern World Series, with the terms arranged through negotiation of the owners of the championship teams beforehand. The number of games played ranged from as few as three in 1884 (Providence defeated New York three games to zero), to a high of fifteen in 1887 (Detroit beat St. Louis ten games to five). Both the 1885 and 1890 Series ended in ties, each team having won three games with one tie game.
The series was promoted and referred to as "The Championship of the United States", "World's Championship Series", or "World's Series" for short. In his book Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, Simon Winchester mentions in passing that the World Series was named for the New York World newspaper, but this view is disputed.
The 19th-century competitions are, however, not officially recognized as part of World Series history by Major League Baseball, as it considers 19th-century baseball to be a prologue to the modern baseball era. Until about 1960, some sources treated the 19th-century Series on an equal basis with the post-19th-century series. After about 1930, however, many authorities list the start of the World Series in 1903 and discuss the earlier contests separately. (For example, the 1929 World Almanac and Book of Facts lists "Baseball's World Championships 1884–1928" in a single table, but the 1943 edition lists "Baseball World Championships 1903–1942".)
Following the collapse of the American Association after the 1891 season, the National League was again the only major league. The league championship was awarded in 1892 by a playoff between half-season champions. This scheme was abandoned after one season. Beginning in 1893—and continuing until divisional play was introduced in 1969—the pennant was awarded to the first-place club in the standings at the end of the season. For four seasons, 1894–1897, the league champions played the runners-up in the post season championship series called the Temple Cup. A second attempt at this format was the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup series, which was played only once, in 1900.
In 1901, the American League was formed as a second major league. No championship series were played in 1901 or 1902 as the National and American Leagues fought each other for business supremacy (in 1902, the top teams instead opted to compete in a football championship).
After two years of bitter competition and player raiding (in 1902, the AL and NL champions even went so far as to challenge each other to a tournament in football after the end of the baseball season), the National and American Leagues made peace and, as part of the accord, several pairs of teams squared off for interleague exhibition games after the 1903 season. These series were arranged by the participating clubs, as the 1880s World's Series matches had been. One of them matched the two pennant winners, Pittsburg Pirates of the NL and Boston Americans (later known as the Red Sox) of the AL; that one is known as the 1903 World Series. It had been arranged well in advance by the two owners, as both teams were league leaders by large margins. Boston upset Pittsburg by five games to three, winning with pitching depth behind Cy Young and Bill Dinneen and with the support of the band of Royal Rooters. The Series brought much civic pride to Boston and proved the new American League could beat the Nationals.
The 1904 Series, if it had been held, would have been between the AL's Boston Americans (Boston Red Sox) and the NL's New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants). At that point there was no governing body for the World Series nor any requirement that a Series be played. Thus the Giants' owner, John T. Brush, refused to allow his team to participate in such an event, citing the "inferiority" of the upstart American League. John McGraw, the Giants' manager, even went so far as to say that his Giants were already "world champions" since they were the champions of the "only real major league". At the time of the announcement, their new cross-town rivals, the New York Highlanders (now the New York Yankees), were leading the AL, and the prospect of facing the Highlanders did not please Giants management. Boston won on the last day of the season, and the leagues had previously agreed to hold a World's Championship Series in 1904, but it was not binding, and Brush stuck to his original decision. In addition to political reasons, Brush also factually cited the lack of rules under which money would be split, where games would be played, and how they would be operated and staffed.
During the winter of 1904–1905, however, feeling the sting of press criticism, Brush had a change of heart and proposed what came to be known as the "Brush Rules", under which the series were played subsequently. One rule was that player shares would come from a portion of the gate receipts for the first four games only. This was to discourage teams from "fixing" early games in order to prolong the series and make more money. Receipts for later games would be split among the two clubs and the National Commission, the governing body for the sport, which was able to cover much of its annual operating expense from World Series revenue. Most importantly, the now-official and compulsory World's Series matches were operated strictly by the National Commission itself, not by the participating clubs.
With the new rules in place and the National Commission in control, McGraw's Giants made it to the 1905 Series, and beat the Philadelphia A's four games to one. The Series was subsequently held annually, until 1994, when it was canceled due to a players' strike.
The list of postseason rules evolved over time. In 1925, Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets persuaded others to adopt as a permanent rule the 2–3–2 pattern used in 1924. Prior to 1924, the pattern had been to alternate by game or to make another arrangement convenient to both clubs. The 2–3–2 pattern has been used ever since save for the 1943 and 1945 World Series, which followed a 3–4 pattern due to World War II travel restrictions; in 1944, the normal pattern was followed because both teams were based in the same home stadium.
Gambling and game-fixing had been a problem in professional baseball from the beginning; star pitcher Jim Devlin was banned for life in 1877, when the National League was just two years old. Baseball's gambling problems came to a head in 1919, when eight players of the Chicago White Sox were alleged to have conspired to throw the 1919 World Series.
The Sox had won the Series in 1917 and were heavy favorites to beat the Cincinnati Reds in 1919, but first baseman Chick Gandil had other plans. Gandil, in collaboration with gambler Joseph "Sport" Sullivan, approached his teammates and got six of them to agree to throw the Series: starting pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, shortstop Swede Risberg, left fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson, center fielder Happy Felsch, and utility infielder Fred McMullin. Third baseman Buck Weaver knew of the fix but declined to participate, hitting .324 for the series from 11 hits and committing no errors in the field. The Sox, who were promised $100,000 for cooperating, proceeded to lose the Series in eight games, pitching poorly, hitting poorly and making many errors. Though he took the money, Jackson insisted to his death that he played to the best of his ability in the series (he was the best hitter in the series, including having hit the series' only home run, but had markedly worse numbers in the games the White Sox lost).
During the Series, writer and humorist Ring Lardner had facetiously called the event the "World's Serious". The Series turned out to indeed have serious consequences for the sport. After rumors circulated for nearly a year, the players were suspended in September 1920.
The "Black Sox" were acquitted in a criminal conspiracy trial. However, baseball in the meantime had established the office of Commissioner in an effort to protect the game's integrity, and the first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned all of the players involved, including Weaver, for life. The White Sox would not win a World Series again until 2005.
The events of the 1919 Series, segueing into the "live ball" era, marked a point in time of change of the fortunes of several teams. The two most prolific World Series winners to date, the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals, did not win their first championship until the 1920s; and three of the teams that were highly successful prior to 1920 (the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs) went the rest of the 20th century without another World Series win. The Red Sox and White Sox finally won again in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The Cubs had to wait over a century (until the 2016 season) for their next trophy. They did not appear in the Fall Classic from 1945 until 2016, the longest drought of any MLB club.
The New York Yankees purchased Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox after the 1919 season, appeared in their first World Series two years later in 1921, and became frequent participants thereafter. Over a period of 45 years from 1920 to 1964, the Yankees played in 29 World Series championships, winning 20. The team's dynasty reached its apex between 1947 and 1964, when the Yankees reached the World Series 15 times in eighteen years, helped by an agreement with the Kansas City Athletics (after that team moved from Philadelphia during 1954–1955 offseason) whereby the teams made several deals advantageous to the Yankees (until ended by new Athletics' owner Charles O. Finley). During that span, the Yankees played in all World Series except 1948, 1954, and 1959, winning ten. From 1949 to 1953, the Yankees won the World Series five years in a row; from 1936–1939 the Yankees won four World Series Championships in a row. There are only two other occasions when a team has won at least three consecutive World Series: 1972 to 1974 by the Oakland Athletics, and 1998 to 2000 by the New York Yankees.
In an 18-year span from 1947 to 1964, except for 1948 and 1959, the World Series was played in New York City, featuring at least one of the three teams located in New York at the time. The Dodgers and Giants moved to California after the 1957 season, leaving the Yankees as the lone team in the city until the Mets were enfranchised in 1962. During this period, other than 1948, 1954, and 1959, the Yankees represented the American League in the World Series.
In the years 1947, 1949, 1951–1953, and 1955–1956, both teams in the World Series were from New York, with the Yankees playing against either the Dodgers or Giants.
In 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants took their long-time rivalry to the west coast, moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, bringing Major League Baseball west of St. Louis and Kansas City.
The Dodgers were the first of the two clubs to contest a World Series on the west coast, defeating the Chicago White Sox in 1959. The 1962 Giants made the first California World Series appearance of that franchise, losing to the Yankees. The Dodgers made three World Series appearances in the 1960s: a 1963 win over the Yankees, a 1965 win over the Minnesota Twins and a 1966 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
In 1968, the Kansas City Athletics relocated to Oakland and the following year 1969, the National League granted a franchise to San Diego as the San Diego Padres. The A's became a powerful dynasty, winning three consecutive World Series from 1972–1974. In 1974, the A's played the Dodgers in the first all-California World Series. The Padres have two World Series appearances (a 1984 loss to the Detroit Tigers, and a 1998 loss to the New York Yankees).
The Dodgers won two more World Series in the 1980s (1981, 1988). The A's again went to three straight world series, from 1988–1990, winning once. 1988 and 1989 were all-California series as the A's lost to the Dodgers and beat the Giants, respectively. The Giants have been in four World Series' in the new millennium, losing in 2002 to the Anaheim Angels (the most-recent all-California series), and winning in 2010 (Rangers), 2012 (Tigers), and 2014 (Royals).
Prior to 1969, the National League and the American League each crowned its champion (the "pennant winner") based on the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season.
A structured playoff series began in 1969, when both the National and American Leagues were reorganized into two divisions each, East and West. The two division winners within each league played each other in a best-of-five League Championship Series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven.
The National League Championship Series (NLCS) and American League Championship Series (ALCS), since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2–3–2 format: Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home-field advantage, and Games 3, 4 and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not.
MLB night games started being held in 1935 by the Cincinnati Reds, but the World Series remained a strictly daytime event for years thereafter. In the final game of the 1949 World Series, a Series game was finished under lights for the first time. The first scheduled night World Series game was Game 4 of the 1971 World Series at Three Rivers Stadium. Afterward, World Series games were frequently scheduled at night, when television audiences were larger. Game 6 of the 1987 World Series was the last World Series game played in the daytime, indoors at the Metrodome in Minnesota. (The last World Series played outdoors during the day was the final game of the 1984 series in Detroit's Tiger Stadium.)
During this seven-year period, only three teams won the World Series: the Oakland Athletics from 1972 to 1974, Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976, and New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978. This is the only time in World Series history in which three teams have won consecutive series in succession. This period was book-ended by World Championships for the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 1971 and 1979.
However, the Baltimore Orioles made three consecutive World Series appearances: 1969 (losing to the "amazing" eight-year-old franchise New York Mets), 1970 (beating the Reds in their first World Series appearance of the decade), and 1971 (losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well their 1979 appearance, when they again lost to the Pirates), and the Los Angeles Dodgers' back-to-back World Series appearances in 1977 and 1978 (both losses to the New York Yankees), as well in 1974 losing against the cross-state rival Oakland Athletics.
Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is regarded by most as one of the greatest World Series games ever played. It found the Boston Red Sox winning in the 12th inning in Fenway Park, defeating the Cincinnati Reds to force a seventh and deciding game. The game is best remembered for its exciting lead changes, nail-biting turns of events, and a game-winning walk-off home run by Carlton Fisk, resulting in a 7–6 Red Sox victory.
The National and American Leagues operated under essentially identical rules until 1973, when the American League adopted the designated hitter (DH) rule, allowing its teams to use another hitter to bat in place of the (usually) weak-hitting pitcher. The National League did not adopt the DH rule. This presented a problem for the World Series, whose two contestants would now be playing their regular-season games under different rules. From 1973 to 1975, the World Series did not include a DH. Starting in 1976, the World Series allowed for the use of a DH in even-numbered years only. (The Cincinnati Reds swept the 1976 Series in four games, using the same nine-man lineup in each contest. Dan Driessen was the Reds' DH during the series, thereby becoming the National League's first designated hitter.) Finally, in 1986, baseball adopted the current rule in which the DH is used for World Series games played in the AL champion's park but not the NL champion's. Thus, the DH rule's use or non-use can affect the performance of the home team.
The 1984 Detroit Tigers gained distinction as just the third team in major league history (after the 1927 New York Yankees and 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers) to lead a season wire-to-wire, from opening day through their World Series victory. In the process, Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson became the first manager to win a World Series title in both leagues, having previously won in 1975 and 1976 with the Cincinnati Reds.
The 1988 World Series is remembered for the iconic home run by the Los Angeles Dodgers' Kirk Gibson with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers were huge underdogs against the 104-win Oakland Athletics, who had swept the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Baseball's top relief pitcher, Dennis Eckersley, closed out all four games in the ALCS, and he appeared ready to do the same in Game 1 against a Dodgers team trailing 4-3 in the ninth. After getting the first two outs, Eckersley walked Mike Davis of the Dodgers, who were playing without Gibson, their best position player and the NL MVP. Gibson had injured himself in the NLCS and was expected to miss the entire World Series. Yet, despite not being able to walk without a noticeable limp, Gibson surprised all in attendance at Dodger Stadium (and all watching on TV) by pinch-hitting. After two quick strikes and then working the count full, Gibson hit a home run to right, inspiring iconic pronouncements by two legendary broadcasters calling the game, Vin Scully (on TV) and Jack Buck (on radio). On NBC, as Gibson limped around the bases, Scully famously exclaimed, "the impossible has happened!" and on radio, Buck equally famously exclaimed, "I don't believe what I just saw!" Gibson's home run set the tone for the series, as the Dodgers went on to beat the A's 4 games to 1. The severity of Gibson's injury prevented him from playing in any of the remaining games.
When the 1989 World Series began, it was notable chiefly for being the first ever World Series matchup between the two San Francisco Bay Area teams, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. Oakland won the first two games at home, and the two teams crossed the bridge to San Francisco to play Game 3 on Tuesday, October 17. ABC's broadcast of Game 3 began at 5 pm local time, approximately 30 minutes before the first pitch was scheduled. At 5:04, while broadcasters Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were narrating highlights and the teams were warming up, the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred (having a surface-wave magnitude of 7.1 with an epicenter ten miles (16 km) northeast of Santa Cruz, California). The earthquake caused substantial property and economic damage in the Bay Area and killed 63 people. Television viewers saw the video signal deteriorate and heard Michaels say "I'll tell you what, we're having an earth--" before the feed from Candlestick Park was lost. Fans filing into the stadium saw Candlestick sway visibly during the quake. Television coverage later resumed, using backup generators, with Michaels becoming a news reporter on the unfolding disaster. Approximately 30 minutes after the earthquake, Commissioner Fay Vincent ordered the game to be postponed. Fans, workers, and the teams evacuated a blacked out (although still sunlit) Candlestick. Game 3 was finally played on October 27, and Oakland won that day and the next to complete a four-game sweep.
World Series games were contested outside of the United States for the first time in 1992, with the Toronto Blue Jays defeating the Atlanta Braves in six games. The World Series returned to Canada in 1993, with the Blue Jays victorious again, this time against the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. No other Series has featured a team from outside of the United States. Toronto is the only expansion team to win successive World Series titles. The 1993 World Series was also notable for being only the second championship concluded by a home run and the first concluded by a come-from-behind homer, after Joe Carter's three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning sealed an 8–6 Toronto win in Game 6. The first Series to end with a homer was the 1960 World Series, when Bill Mazeroski hit a ninth-inning solo shot in Game 7 to win the championship for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1994, each league was restructured into three divisions, with the three division winners and the newly introduced wild card winner advancing to a best-of-five playoff round (the "division series"), the National League Division Series (NLDS) and American League Division Series (ALDS). The team with the best league record is matched against the wild card team, unless they are in the same division, in which case, the team with the second-best record plays against the wild card winner. The remaining two division winners are pitted against each other. The winners of the series in the first round advance to the best-of-seven NLCS and ALCS. Due to a players' strike, however, the NLDS and ALDS were not played until 1995. Beginning in 1998, home field advantage was given to the team with the better regular season record, with the exception that the Wild Card team cannot get home-field advantage.
After the boycott of 1904, the World Series was played every year until 1994 despite World War I, the global influenza pandemic of 1918–1919, the Great Depression of the 1930s, America's involvement in World War II, and even an earthquake in the host cities of the 1989 World Series. A breakdown in collective bargaining led to a strike in August 1994 and the eventual cancellation of the rest of the season, including the playoffs.
As the labor talks began, baseball franchise owners demanded a salary cap in order to limit payrolls, the elimination of salary arbitration, and the right to retain free agent players by matching a competitor's best offer. The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) refused to agree to limit payrolls, noting that the responsibility for high payrolls lay with those owners who were voluntarily offering contracts. One difficulty in reaching a settlement was the absence of a commissioner. When Fay Vincent was forced to resign in 1992, owners did not replace him, electing instead to make Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig acting commissioner. Thus the commissioner, responsible for ensuring the integrity and protecting the welfare of the game, was an interested party rather than a neutral arbiter, and baseball headed into the 1994 work stoppage without an independent commissioner for the first time since the office was founded in 1920.
The previous collective bargaining agreement expired on December 31, 1993, and baseball began the 1994 season without a new agreement. Owners and players negotiated as the season progressed, but owners refused to give up the idea of a salary cap and players refused to accept one. On August 12, 1994, the players went on strike. After a month passed with no progress in the labor talks, Selig canceled the rest of the 1994 season and the postseason on September 14. The World Series was not played for the first time in 90 years. The Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals, were the best team in baseball at the time of the stoppage, with a record of 74–40 (since their founding in 1969, the Expos/Nationals have never played in a World Series.)
The labor dispute lasted into the spring of 1995, with owners beginning spring training with replacement players. However, the MLBPA returned to work on April 2, 1995 after a federal judge, future U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, ruled that the owners had engaged in unfair labor practices. The season started on April 25 and the 1995 World Series was played as scheduled, with Atlanta beating Cleveland four games to two.
The 2001 World Series was the first World Series to end in November, due to the week-long delay in the regular season after the September 11 attacks. Game 4 had begun on Oct. 31 but went into extra innings and ended early on the morning of Nov. 1, the first time the Series had been played in November. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter won the game with a 12th inning walk-off home run and was dubbed "Mr. November" by elements of the media – echoing the media's designation of Reggie Jackson as "Mr. October" for his slugging achievements during the 1977 World Series.
With the 2006 World Series victory by the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa became the second manager to a win a World Series in both the American and National Leagues.
Prior to 2003, home-field advantage in the World Series alternated from year to year between the NL and AL. After the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Game ended in a tie, MLB decided to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the All-Star Game. Originally implemented as a two-year trial from 2003 to 2004, the practice was extended.
The American League had won every All-Star Game since this change until 2010 and thus enjoyed home-field advantage from 2002, when it also had home-field advantage based on the alternating schedule, through 2009. From 2003 to 2010, the AL and NL had each won the World Series four times, but none of them had gone the full seven games. Since then, the 2011, 2014, and 2016 World Series have gone the full seven games.
This rule is subject to debate, with various writers feeling that home-field advantage should be decided based on the regular season records of the participants, not on an exhibition game played several months earlier. Some writers especially questioned the integrity of this rule after the 2014 All-Star Game, when St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright suggested that he intentionally gave Derek Jeter some easy pitches to hit in the New York Yankees' shortstop's final All-Star appearance before he retired at the end of that season.
As Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe wrote in July 2015 about the rule:
"So now we have a game that's not real baseball determining which league hosts Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 in the World Series. It's not a game if pitchers throw one inning. It's not a game if managers try to get everyone on a bloated roster into the game. It's not a game if every franchise, no matter how wretched, has to put a player on the team ... If the game is going to count, tell the managers to channel their inner Connie Mack and go for it."
However, within the last seven seasons, home-field advantage, in terms of deciding World Series games, has not necessarily worked for teams of said games. Since 2014, the home team has not won the deciding game of a World Series.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014 while failing to qualify to play in the postseason in the intervening seasons.
The Texas Rangers were twice only one strike away from winning their first World Series title in 2011, but the St. Louis Cardinals scored late twice in Game 6 to force a Game 7.
The Kansas City Royals reached the World Series in 2014, which was their first appearance in the postseason since winning the series in 1985. At the time, it was the longest postseason drought in baseball. They lost in 7 games to the Giants. The following season, the Royals finished with the American League's best record, and won a second consecutive American League pennant. They defeated the New York Mets in the World Series 4-1, capturing their first title in 30 years.
In 2016, the Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year long drought without a World Series title by defeating the Cleveland Indians, rallying from a 3–1 Series deficit in the process. That extended Cleveland's World Series title drought to 68 years and counting -- the Indians last won the Series in 1948 -- now the longest title drought in the majors.
Beginning in 2017, home field advantage in the World Series will be awarded to the league champion team with the better regular season win-loss record.Notes
American League (AL) teams have won 64 of the 112 World Series played (57%). The New York Yankees have won 27 titles, accounting for 24% of all series played and 42% of the wins by American League teams. The St. Louis Cardinals have won 11 World Series, accounting for 10% of all series played and 23% of the 48 National League victories. At least one New York team has been in 54 World Series (48%) of Series played. When the first modern World Series was played in 1903, there were eight teams in each league. These 16 franchises, all of which are still in existence, have each won at least two World Series titles.
The number of teams was unchanged until 1961, with fourteen "expansion teams" joining MLB since then. Twelve have played in a World Series (the Mariners and Expos/Nationals being the two exceptions). The expansion teams have won ten of the 22 Series (45%) in which they have played, which is 9% of all 112 series played since 1903. In 2015, the first World Series featuring only expansion teams was played between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets.
This information is up to date through the present time:
- Since their first championship in 1923, the New York Yankees have won two or more World Series titles in every decade except the 1980s, when they won none. Additionally, they have won at least one American League pennant in every decade since the 1920s. (They have yet to win a pennant or Series in the 2010s.) The Yankees are the only team in either League to win more than three series in a row, winning in four consecutive seasons from 1936 to 1939, and a still MLB record five consecutive seasons from 1949 to 1953.
- The New York Giants' four World Series appearances from 1921 to 1924 are the most consecutive appearances for any National League franchise. The Yankees are the only American League franchise to appear in four or more consecutive World Series.
- The 1907–1908 Cubs, 1921–1922 Giants and the 1975–1976 Reds are the only National League teams to win back-to-back World Series.
- The 1907–1909 Detroit Tigers and the 1911–1913 New York Giants are the only teams to lose three consecutive World Series.
- The Chicago Cubs hold the record for the longest World Series championship drought of all time, with no titles between 1908 and 2016 (108 years). They also hold the longest ever pennant drought of all time, which stretched from 1945 to 2016. Their pennant drought ended with a 4-2 series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS. With the Cubs' subsequent victory in the 2016 World Series, the longest World Series championship drought belongs to the Cleveland Indians, who have not won a World Series since 1948. The Indians' drought is the second longest championship drought among all four major professional sports leagues in North America (MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL); only the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, who last won a league championship in 1947, have a longer championship drought. The team with the longest active pennant drought among AL teams that have played in a World Series at least once is the Baltimore Orioles, who have not reached a World Series since winning their last title in 1983. The team with the longest active pennant drought among NL teams that have played in a World Series at least once is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have not reached a World Series since winning their last title in 1979. This also means that the Pirates hold the second longest active World Series title drought among all teams that have at least one Series and longest championship drought among NL teams that have won a Series.
- Twenty-two of the 28 teams to play in the World Series have won it at least once. The only exceptions are: Houston Astros (formerly Colt .45s, enfranchised in 1962), Milwaukee Brewers (formerly Seattle Pilots, 1969), San Diego Padres (1969), Colorado Rockies (1993), Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays, 1998), and Texas Rangers (formerly Washington Senators, 1961). The Padres and Rangers have both lost two World Series; the remaining teams have all lost their only Series appearance. As of the present, all teams with three or more World Series appearances have won the World Series at least once.
- Two teams have never played in the World Series: the National League's Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos, established in 1969), and the American League's Seattle Mariners (established in 1977). Both franchises have participated in post-season play and competed in a League Championship Series at least once, but neither team has any League Championship Series victories.
- The Red Sox have the most World Series titles before their first World Series loss, winning the championship in their first five appearances—1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918—before losing in the next series they played, in 1946. The only other teams who have more than one Series victory before their first Series loss are the Cleveland Indians (in 1920 and 1948), the Toronto Blue Jays (in 1992 and 1993), and the Miami Marlins (in 1997 and 2003 as the Florida Marlins). The Blue Jays and the Marlins have never lost a World Series.
- The American League's Toronto Blue Jays (1992 and 1993) and National League's Miami Marlins (1997 and 2003 as the Florida Marlins) hold the record for most appearances in a Series without ever losing a Series. Two other franchises have won their lone appearance: the National League's Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) and American League's Los Angeles Angels (2002).
- The Pirates, Reds, Red Sox, and Giants are tied with the longest active streak of World Series victories (three) since the last time they lost a series. After losing the 1927 series to the Yankees, the Pirates have emerged victorious in the next three series in which they played (1960, 1971, and 1979). The Reds last series loss prior to their current active streak of three titles (1975, 1976, and 1990) was in 1972. The Red Sox are the American League leaders in this category with three consecutive titles (2004, 2007, and 2013) since their last series loss (1986). The Giants lost in 2002 before winning the next three they appeared in (2010, 2012, and 2014).
- The Yankees have the most World Series victories (eight) between World Series losses. After losing the 1926 World Series to the Cardinals, the Yankees won their next eight appearances in the series (1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1941) before losing in 1942 to the Cardinals again. After this loss, the Yankees went on to win their next seven Series appearances (1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1953) before their next Series loss in 1955 to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals are the National League leader in this category, with four titles (1944, 1946, 1964, and 1967) between series losses in 1943 and 1968.
- The Cubs and Dodgers are tied at seven apiece for most World Series losses between World Series victories. The Dodgers lost their first seven appearances in the Fall Classics (1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953) before winning their first title in 1955. The Cubs' situation was the opposite: between winning their last two titles (in 1908 and 2016), they lost the World Series in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945. The Cleveland Indians have four World Series losses (1954, 1995, 1997, and 2016) since their last crown in 1948, more than any other team in the American League.
- The longest duration without repeat World Series champions is sixteen years, dating back to the 2000 New York Yankees. The previous record of fourteen years (in between the 1978 New York Yankees' win and the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays' win) was broken when the San Francisco Giants, who won the 2014 World Series, did not qualify for the postseason in 2015.
- The longest sequence of World Series in which each Series was won by a different franchise is 10, from 1978 (Yankees) through 1987 (Minnesota Twins). This streak was broken when the Dodgers, which had won in 1981, won in 1988.
- Game 7 was won by the home team in the 9 World Series between 1980 and 2013 that went to seven games (the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals, 1985 Kansas City Royals, 1986 New York Mets, 1987 and 1991 Minnesota Twins, 1997 Florida Marlins, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, 2002 Anaheim Angels, and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals) before the Giants won game 7 on the road in 2014. This trend reverses the previous historical trend in which Game 7 had been most often won by the road team, in 1979, 1975, 1972, 1971, 1968, 1967, 1965, and 1962. During the 1960s and 1970s, the home team had won Game 7 only in 1960, 1964, and 1973. Since 2003, when home field advantage started to be awarded to the team representing the league that won the All-Star game, the first Series that reached Game 7 was in 2011. The greatest comebacks in World Series history were in 1968, when the Detroit Tigers came back from a 3–1 game disadvantage to win Game 5 after being behind by 3 runs, before winning games 6 and 7 on the road at St. Louis, and 2016, when the Chicago Cubs scored three runs to win Game 5 and won the last two games in Cleveland.
- The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers are the last team to win a World Series after losing the first two games on the road (against New York). The recent tendency of a team winning the first two games at home and then winning the Series suggests the theoretical advantage to gaining home-field advantage (and the first two games at home) by winning the All-Star Game.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates won all five of their World Series championships in seven games.
- The Minnesota Twins/Washington Senators won all three of their World Series championships in seven games.
- There have been 19 World Series four-game (4–0) sweeps, the most recent of which occurred in 2012. Nine different teams have swept a World Series at least once, the Yankees having done so most often (8 times). The Red Sox, Reds, and Giants have all done it twice. The Braves, Orioles, White Sox, Dodgers, and Athletics have each swept one Series. Six of these teams (all but the Orioles, Red Sox and White Sox) have also been swept 0–4 in at least one World Series. The Red Sox' two World Series sweeps are the most of any team that has never been swept in one. The Reds and Yankees are the only teams to have swept each other (The Yankees swept the Reds in 1939, while the Reds swept the Yankees in 1976). The Giants are the only team to record World Series sweeps in two different cities: New York (1954) and San Francisco (2012). The 1999 Yankees are the last team to date, and the only one since 1966, to sweep a World Series it began on the road (as well as the last American League champion to date to win a World Series it began on the road). The 1963 Dodgers are the last National League team to date to sweep a World Series it began on the road.
- The Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, and Yankees are the only teams to be swept in two World Series. The Athletics and Yankees are the only two of these with at least one World Series sweep to their credit, the other two being among nine teams overall that have never swept a World Series, but have been swept in one (the Tigers, Astros, Indians, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, and Rockies being the others).
- The Cubs in 1907 and the Giants in 1922 won 4 games to 0, but each of those Series' included a tied game and are not considered to be true sweeps. In 1907, the first game was the tie and the Cubs won four straight after that. In 1922, Game 2 was the tie.
- The Cincinnati Reds were the only National League team to sweep any World Series between 1963 and 2012, sweeping their last two series appearances to date in 1976 and 1990. When added to their Game 7 victory in 1975, this means that the Reds have won their last 9 consecutive World Series games, making this the current longest winning streak in terms of consecutive World Series games won.
- Nine World Series have ended with "walk-off" hits, i.e., that game and the Series ended when the home team won with a base hit in the bottom of the ninth or in extra innings: 1924*, 1929, 1935, 1953, 1960*, 1991*, 1993, 1997*, and 2001*. Five of these (marked with a *) were in a deciding Game 7. In addition, the deciding Game 8 (one game had ended in a tie) of the 1912 World Series ended in a walk-off sacrifice fly. Two men have ended a World Series with a walk-off home run: Bill Mazeroski in 1960 and Joe Carter in 1993. Mazeroski's was a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 to win a championship for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Carter's was a three-run shot in Game 6 that won a championship for the Toronto Blue Jays.
- There has been one World Series that ended on a runner caught stealing, on a play that involved three future Hall of Famers. In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees tried to steal second base with two outs and his team trailing the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2. Ruth was thrown out by Cardinals catcher Bob O'Farrell after Bob Meusel swung at and missed a pitch from Grover Cleveland Alexander. St. Louis second baseman Rogers Hornsby applied the tag on Ruth, who in his career was successful on 51% of his stolen base attempts. Ruth, Alexander and Hornsby were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- One World Series game has ended with a pick-off of a runner. Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals was picked off of first base in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series by Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. The score was 4-2 and rookie Wong was a pinch runner.
- The Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays are the first teams to have an elimination game (or any game) be suspended because of weather, and not have it cancelled. Game 5 (in Philadelphia) was suspended on Monday, October 27, 2008 with a 2–2 score, and resumed in the bottom of the sixth on Wednesday, October 29. The Phillies went on to win the game and clinch the series.
- Both of the Minnesota Twins' World Series titles since relocating to the Twin Cities from Washington, D.C. (where they were the first Washington Senators) were in 7 game series where all games were won by the home team. The Twins accomplished this in 1987, when the Twins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, then 4 years later in 1991, when the Twins defeated the Atlanta Braves. The Twins victories in both series were in games 1, 2, 6, and 7, while their National League opponents won games 3, 4, and 5. This same scenario also occurred in 2001, when the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees.
- Also of note when it comes to the three series where every game was won by the home team, a pitcher was MVP. In the 1987 World Series, Frank Viola was the MVP having pitched games 1, 4, and 7, and finishing with a 2–1 record. In 1991, Jack Morris achieved the same feat pitching games 1, 4, and 7 with a 2–0 record and a no decision in game 4, and winning MVP honors. However, Morris's MVP came on the heels of pitching 10 shutout innings in game 7. Finally, in 2001, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson took MVP honors by being the reason the Arizona Diamondbacks were in position to win the series.
- The Boston Red Sox have lost 4 World Series, all in 7 games. (1946, 1967, 1975, & 1986)
- Four World Series ended with teams clinching the championship in the final game of the series which was not a game 7 and went into extra innings. The title was won this way in 1939, 1992, 2012, and 2015, with the road team winning each time.
- The home team has not won a deciding game of a World Series since 2013, and has not done so in four of the last six seasons.
When two teams share the same state or metropolitan area, fans often develop strong loyalties to one and antipathies towards the other, sometimes building on already-existing rivalries between cities or neighborhoods. Before the introduction of interleague play in 1997, the only opportunity for two teams playing in the same area but in different leagues to face each other in official competition would have been in a World Series.
The first city to host an entire World Series was Chicago in 1906, when the Chicago White Sox beat the Chicago Cubs in six games.
Fourteen "Subway Series" have been played entirely within New York City, all including the American League's New York Yankees. Thirteen of them matched the Yankees with either the New York Giants or the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League. The initial instances occurred in 1921 and 1922, when the Giants beat the Yankees in consecutive World Series that were not technically "subway series" since the teams shared the Polo Grounds as their home ballpark. The Yankees finally beat the Giants the following year, their first in their brand-new Yankee Stadium, and won the two teams' three subsequent Fall Classic match-ups in 1936, 1937 and 1951. The Yankees faced Brooklyn seven times in October, winning their first five meetings in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953, before losing to the Dodgers in 1955, Brooklyn's sole World Championship. The last Subway Series involving the original New York ballclubs came in 1956, when the Yankees again beat the Dodgers. The trio was separated in 1958 when the Dodgers and Giants moved to California (although the Yankees subsequently met and beat the now-San Francisco Giants in 1962, and played the now-Los Angeles Dodgers four times, losing to them in a four-game sweep in 1963, beating them back-to-back in 1977 and 1978 and losing to them in 1981). An all-New York Series did not recur until 2000, when the Yankees defeated the New York Mets in five games.
The last World Series played entirely in one ballpark was the 1944 "Streetcar Series" between the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns. The Cardinals won in six games, all held in their shared home, Sportsman's Park.
The 1989 World Series, sometimes called the "Bay Bridge Series" or the "BART Series" (after the connecting transit line), featured the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, teams that play just across San Francisco Bay from each other. The series is most remembered for the major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area just before game 3 was scheduled to begin. The quake caused significant damage to both communities and severed the Bay Bridge that connects them, forcing the postponement of the series. Play resumed ten days later, and the A's swept the Giants in four games (the earthquake disruption of the Series almost completely overshadowed the fact that the 1989 Series represented a resumption after many decades of the October rivalry between the Giants and the A's dating back to the early years of the 20th Century, when the then-New York Giants had defeated the then-Philadelphia Athletics in 1905, and had lost to them in 1911 and again in 1913).
The historic rivalry between Northern and Southern California added to the interest in the Oakland Athletics-Los Angeles Dodgers series in 1974 and 1988 and in the San Francisco Giants' series against the then-Anaheim Angels in 2002.
Other than the St. Louis World Series of 1944, the only postseason tournament held entirely within Missouri was the I-70 Series in 1985 (named for the Interstate Highway connecting the two cities) between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals, who won at home in the seventh game.
Going into the 2017 season, there has never been an in-state World Series between the teams in Ohio (Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds), Florida (Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins), Texas (Texas Rangers and Houston Astros – who now both play in the American League since the Astros changed leagues in 2013, making any future joint World Series appearance an impossibility unless one of the teams switches leagues), or Pennsylvania (the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates have been traditional National League rivals going back to the late 19th Century). Neither the Phillies nor the Pirates ever faced the Athletics in October during the latter team's tenure in Philadelphia, through 1954. The Boston Red Sox never similarly faced the Braves while the latter team played in Boston through 1952. There also was never an all-Canada World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the former Montreal Expos, who never won a National League pennant when they played in that Canadian city from 1969 through 2004. The Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005 – raising the possibility of a potential future "I-95 World Series" between the National League team and the AL's Baltimore Orioles, who play just 50 miles to the north of Washington. Finally, the Los Angeles and/or Anaheim Angels have never faced off in October against either the Dodgers or against the San Diego Padres for bragging rights in Southern California, although all three of those teams have appeared in the World Series at various times.
- The Braves are the only team to have both won and lost a World Series in three different home cities (Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta).
- The Athletics have had three different home cities (Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Oakland), but have appeared in the World Series (both winning and losing) while based in only two of them (Philadelphia and Oakland).
- Three other teams have both won and lost the Fall Classic in two different home cities: The Dodgers (Brooklyn and Los Angeles), the Giants (New York and San Francisco), and the Twins (the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C., as the first Senators).
- The Orioles are the only other team to have played in the World Series in two different home cities (Baltimore and St. Louis, as the Browns), but all three of their titles (and three of their four losses) have come while based in Baltimore.
At the time the first modern World Series began in 1903, each league had eight clubs, all of which survive today (although sometimes in a different city or with a new nickname), comprising the "original sixteen".
- Every original team has won at least two World Series titles. The Philadelphia Phillies (National League) were the last of the original teams to win their first Series, in 1980. They were also the last to win at least two, with their second Series victory in 2008. The Cubs were the first team to win the series twice, in 1907 and 1908.
- The last original American League team to win its first World Series was the Baltimore Orioles (former St. Louis Browns,originally the Milwaukee Brewers), winning in 1966. They were also the last original American League team to win their second title, doing so in 1970.
- The Orioles were also the last original team in the majors to make their first World Series appearance, as the St. Louis Browns in 1944. Although they never won another American League pennant while in St. Louis, they have won three World Series in six appearances since moving to Baltimore. The St. Louis Cardinals were the last original National League team to appear in or win a modern World Series, doing both in 1926. They have subsequently won more World Series than any other National League club: 11 championships through 2016.
- The New York Yankees have defeated all eight original NL teams in a World Series. Conversely, they have lost at least one World Series to six of the original NL teams, never losing to the Chicago Cubs or the Philadelphia Phillies. The Boston Red Sox have played at least one Series against every original National League team except the (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta) Braves, with whom they shared a home city through 1952.
- The St. Louis Cardinals are currently the only club of the National League's original eight that holds an overall Series lead over the Yankees, 3 to 2, taking that lead in 1964. The Giants won their first two Series over the Yankees (1921 and 1922), but the Yankees have faced the Giants five times since then and have won all five, taking the overall lead over the Giants in 1937. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Yankees have faced each other twice (1927 and 1960), with the Yankees winning in 1927 and the Pirates winning in 1960, making the two teams .500 against each other.
- Since the two leagues expanded beyond eight teams apiece in 1961, the American League's Cleveland Indians are the only original team that has not won a World Series against the larger field of competitors.
- The 2015 World Series was the first ever World Series to not feature any of the original sixteen teams.
- The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks won their first pennant and World Series in fewer seasons than any other expansion team (both attained in their 4th season). The 1997 World Series Champion Florida Marlins achieved these milestones in the second-fewest number of seasons (fifth season). The fastest AL expansion franchise to win a pennant was the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 (11th season) and the fastest AL expansion franchise to win a World Series was the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 (16th season).
- While the New York Mets (NL) were the first expansion team to win or appear in the World Series (doing both in 1969), the American League would have to wait until 1980 for its first expansion-team World Series appearance, and until 1985 for its first expansion-team win. Both were by the Kansas City Royals. The AL also had two expansion teams appear in the World Series (the Milwaukee Brewers being the second, in 1982) before the National League's second expansion team to appear—the San Diego Padres in 1984.
- 12 expansion teams have now played in at least one Series. Until 2015, all World Series matchups featured at least one of the 16 teams established by 1903. As of the end of the 2014 edition, expansion teams were 9–12 in the World Series, with three teams (the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins) each winning two. The Kansas City Royals, the then-Anaheim Angels and the Arizona Diamondbacks had each won one Series by the end of the 2014 season. With the New York Mets defeating the Chicago Cubs in a four-game sweep in the 2015 National League Championship Series and the Kansas City Royals defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in six games in the 2015 American League Championship Series, the 2015 World Series became the first ever World Series matchup in which both teams were expansion teams, where the Mets (whose first season occurred in 1962) faced off against the Kansas City Royals (whose first season occurred in 1969), with the Royals winning in five games.
- Six expansion teams have appeared in the World Series without ever winning a championship: twice for the Texas Rangers (formerly the second Washington Senators) and San Diego Padres, and once each for the Houston Astros (formerly Colt .45s), Milwaukee Brewers (formerly Seattle Pilots), Colorado Rockies, and Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays).
- Two expansion teams have not yet won a league pennant (and therefore also have not appeared in a World Series): the American League's Seattle Mariners and the National League's Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos). Both teams have competed in postseason play and appeared in their respective League Championship Series at least once, but have no League Championship Series victories.
- The Toronto Blue Jays (1992 and 1993), Miami Marlins (1997 and 2003 as the Florida Marlins), Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) and Los Angeles Angels (2002) have never lost a World Series appearance.
- The team with the better regular season winning percentage has won the World Series 53 times, or 48.62% (53 of 109) of the time. Three World Series featured teams with identical records (1949, 1958, 2013).
- The Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian team ever to win a pennant or a World Series, doing both twice, in 1992 and 1993.
- The Chicago Cubs are the only team with a World Series title that have never clinched one at home.
- Three series have matched up the previous two World Champions, with the New York Yankees winning all three. The 1928 World Series was contested by the 1926 champion Cardinals and 1927 champion Yankees; the Yankees won the series 4-0. In 1943, the 1941 champion Yankees met the 1942 champion Cardinals, which the Yankees won 4-1. In the 1958 World Series, the 1956 champion Yankees faced the 1957 champion Milwaukee Braves; the Yankees won this series 4-3. The 2012 National League Championship Series also matched up the previous two World Champions: the 2010 champion Giants and the 2011 champion Cardinals; the Giants won this series 4-3.
- As of the present, there are two World Series that cannot have a rematch, the 1982 World Series between the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals and AL champion Milwaukee Brewers and the 2005 World Series between the AL champion Chicago White Sox and NL champion Houston Astros. The Brewers, who were inaugurated by the American League as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and relocated to Milwaukee in 1970, were moved to the NL starting in 1998. The Astros, who were inaugurated by the National League in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45s and adopted their current name in 1965, were moved to the AL starting in 2013. Therefore, the latest postseason round where the Brewers could face the Cardinals today would be in the National League Championship Series (which has occurred once, in 2011) while the latest postseason round where the Astros could face the White Sox today would be in the American League Championship Series (has never occurred). This makes the Brewers the only team in MLB to have played in both the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series.
- The 2015 World Series game 1 between the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals was the longest game 1 in history at 5 hours and 9 minutes.
- Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees holds the record for most World Series championships by a player with 10. Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees is second with 9.
- Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel are tied for the most World Series titles by a manager with 7 apiece, all 14 of them with the Yankees. Connie Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics to 5 World Series crowns.
- The all-time World Series single-game attendance record is 92,706, set in Game 5 of the 1959 World Series at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the temporary home of the Los Angeles Dodgers until Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. The Chicago White Sox defeated the Dodgers 1-0 in the record-setting game. Games 3 and 4 of that series also drew crowds in excess of 92,000.
When the World Series was first broadcast on television in 1947, it was only televised to a few surrounding areas via coaxial inter-connected stations: New York City; Philadelphia; Schenectady/Albany, New York; Washington, D.C. and surrounding suburbs/environs. In 1948, games in Boston were only seen in the Northeast. Meanwhile, games in Cleveland were only seen in the Midwest and Pittsburgh. The games were open to all channels with a network affiliation. In all, the 1948 World Series was televised to fans in seven Midwestern cities: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Toledo. By 1949, World Series games could now be seen east of the Mississippi River. The games were open to all channels with a network affiliation. By 1950, World Series games could be seen in most of the country, but not all. 1951 marked the first time that the World Series was televised coast to coast. Meanwhile, 1955 marked the first time that the World Series was televised in color.
^ *: Not currently broadcasting Major League Baseball.
^ **: Per the current broadcast agreement, the World Series will be televised by Fox through 2021.
^ ***: Gillette, which sponsored World Series telecasts exclusively from roughly 1947 to 1965 (prior to 1966, the Series announcers were chosen by the Gillette Company along with the Commissioner of Baseball and NBC), paid for airtime on DuMont's owned-and-operated Pittsburgh affiliate, WDTV (now KDKA-TV) to air the World Series. In the meantime, Gillette also bought airtime on ABC, CBS, and NBC. More to the point, in some cities, the World Series was broadcast on three different stations at once.
^ ****: NBC was originally scheduled to televise the entire 1995 World Series; however, due to the cancellation of the 1994 Series (which had been slated for ABC, who last televised a World Series in 1989), coverage ended up being split between the two networks. Game 5 is, to date, the last Major League Baseball game to be telecast by ABC (had there been a Game 7, ABC would've televised it). This was the only World Series to be produced under the "Baseball Network" umbrella (a revenue sharing joint venture between Major League Baseball, ABC, and NBC). In July 1995, both networks announced that they would be pulling out of what was supposed to be a six-year-long venture. NBC would next cover the 1997 (NBC's first entirely since 1988) and 1999 World Series over the course of a five-year-long contract, in which Fox would cover the World Series in even numbered years (1996, 1998, and 2000).
Despite its name, the World Series remains solely the championship of the major-league baseball teams in the United States and Canada, although MLB, its players, and North American media sometimes informally refer to World Series winners as "world champions of baseball".
The United States, Canada, and Mexico (Liga Méxicana de Béisbol, established 1925) were the only professional baseball countries until a few decades into the 20th century. The first Japanese professional baseball efforts began in 1920. The current Japanese leagues date from the late 1940s (after World War II). Various Latin American leagues also formed around that time.
By the 1990s, baseball was played at a highly skilled level in many countries. Reaching North America's high-salary major leagues is the goal of many of the best players around the world, which gives a strong international flavor to the Series. Many talented players from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim, and elsewhere now play in the majors. One notable exception is Cuban citizens, because of the political tensions between the US and Cuba since 1959 (yet a number of Cuba's finest ballplayers have still managed to defect to the United States over the past half-century to play in the American professional leagues). Japanese professional players also have a difficult time coming to the North American leagues. They become free agents only after nine years playing service in the NPB, although their Japanese teams may at any time "post" them for bids from MLB teams, which commonly happens at the player's request.
Several tournaments feature teams composed only of players from one country, similar to national teams in other sports. The World Baseball Classic, sponsored by Major League Baseball and sanctioned by the sport's world governing body, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), uses a format similar to the FIFA World Cup to promote competition between nations every four years. The WBSC has since added the Premier12, a tournament also involving national teams; the first event was held in 2015, and is planned to be held every four years (in the middle of the World Baseball Classic cycle). The World Baseball Classic is held in March and the Premier12 is held in November, allowing both events to feature top-level players from all nations. The predecessor to the WBSC as the sport's international governing body, the International Baseball Federation, also sponsored a Baseball World Cup to crown a world champion. However, because the World Cup was held during the Northern Hemisphere summer, during the playing season of almost all top-level leagues, its teams did not feature the best talent from each nation. As a result, baseball fans paid little or no attention to the World Cup and generally disregarded its results. The Caribbean Series features competition among the league champions from Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela but unlike the FIFA Club World Cup, there is no club competition that features champions from all professional leagues across the world.