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Baseball Background

In America’s favorite pastime, the game of baseball, there is one major goal
each year for every team in the league, and that is to win the World series. For
nearly one hundred years, two teams each year have competed in a best of seven
series with the champion of the American League and the champion of the National
League representing their respective leagues. The New York Yankees have won the
most titles by far, with twenty-five championships, and the St. Louis Cardinals
have the second-most with ten. Many teams have never won the World Series, and
with the small income and coverage of some teams, they may never win a series.

From 1901 to 1902, the American and National leagues were staged in war, and
there was no World Series. The American League was still very young, and many
felt that they could not compete with the powerful teams of the National League.

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However, a national championship was not far away. When the Boston Pilgrims of
the American League accepted a challenge from owner Barney Dreyfuss of the
National League Pittsburgh Pirates, the modern World Series was born ( Total
World Series-Boston 1). The Pirates entered the 1903 series heavily favored to
win even with injuries to the ace of the pitching staff, Sam Leever and also to
Honus Wagner. The Pirates had also lost pitcher Ed Doheny to mental illness. In
game one of the series, Cy Young took the mound for the Pilgrims, but was
stunned in the first inning as the Pirates scored four runs and went on to take
a 1-0 series lead. In the game, the Pirates’ Jimmy Sebring hit the first home
run in World Series history (Total World Series-Boston 2). After taking a
commanding 3-1 series lead, the tide began to turn on the Pirates. The Pilgrims
won the next two games, and in game seven, Bill Dinneen held the Pirates to four
hits as he shut them out for the second time in the series, giving the Boston
Pilgrims the first ever World Series Championship. The World Series continued to
grow popular for the next several years, until 1919, when members of the Chicago
White Sox were rumored to have thrown the Series. In the bottom of the first
inning of game one against the Cincinnati Reds, White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte
hit the first batter to face him, a prearranged signal to gamblers that “the
fix was on” — that the Sox would throw the Series (Total World Series-White
1). There were eight members of the Chicago White Sox that were in on the fix,
including Cicotte and outfielder ?Shoeless’ Joe Jackson. The White Sox lost
the first two games of the series, thanks in large part to the two starting
pitchers who were in on the fix. However, in game three, the White Sox’ Dickie
Kerr, who was not in on the fix, pitched a three-hit shutout to get the Sox back
to within one game. After game three, the players who were in on the fix managed
to play poorly enough to lose the Series, and the Cincinnati Reds took home
their tainted title. In 1927, the New York Yankees won the World Series over the
Pittsburgh Pirates with perhaps the best lineup ever to take the field. With 110
regular season victories and a 19 game margin over second-place Philadelphia,
the Yankees led the American League in nearly every offensive category. Three
Yankees–Earle Combs, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth–hit over .350, and divided
among them league crowns in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs (Ruth’s
60), RBI’s, and slugging average. The Yankees not only hit: their pitching
staff boasted the league’s lowest earned run average ( Total World Series –
New 1). The Yankees swept the Pirates out of the series for the first American
League sweep in a World Series and many still consider them to be the best team
ever. The “Miracle Mets” of 1969 proved that magic could happen in the World
Series as they took home the World Series title with a very young, upstart team.

The heavy- hitting, slick- fielding Orioles, who also boasted the majors’ top
pitching staff, entered the Series clear favorites against the New York Mets.

But the “Miracle Mets”, after losing the opener, polished off Baltimore with
four straight wins (Total World Series-Make 1). The National League team with
the most World Series titles- The St. Louis Cardinals- won their most recent
Series in 1982 by beating the Milwaukee Brewers in seven


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