Field during game 3 of 1906 World Series

Ranking the World Series

As part of my baseball research I am going through every single World Series game by game and play by play. When there’s footage available I’m watching the footage and am watching games when possible. Up to this point I have done the first 50 World Series. There’s no much video available until the 40’s and even then it’s mostly news reels that were sent to the troops involved in World War II. The only full game I have found is on YouTube from the 1952 World Series. I have watched Game 7 of this series multiple times. There’s a game 6 posted as well as of this but I have not viewed that game.

What I’ve been doing with each game is I take tabs on how each player played and am making a list of players who “stood out” or “stand out players” and keeping track of how many times a player has stood out through different series. It’s fun because it has given me access to players who I hadn’t heard of before or given me an appreciation for certain players I didn’t have before as it has required me to dig into what their career was like on some level. If there’s any interest in me sharing that list in some capacity I’ll certainly do so.

In this post however I’m going to rank the first 50 World Series. I’ll do so again when I hit 100 and then one more time when I catch up to current day. I’ll do something for the playoffs too once we get to that point as well. I think I want to rank all playoff series in order while still keeping a separate article available for the World Series but if there’s a way that one would rather see this done please do let me know. I rank the series based upon how exciting each game was, the storylines leading up to and during the series, how many great player where playing in the series and how many special moments there are in the series.

In each series I’ve also named an MVP which is especially fun seeing as there won’t be a World Series MVP until 1955. Even when that happens I will still name an MVP and see how it compares to the one actually named. Once expanded postseason play begins, which isn’t until 1969 I plan to name playoff MVPs and maybe even individual series MVPs as well.

Anyways, it’s time to rank some World Series.

50. 1907-Chicago Cubs vs Detroit Tigers

The Cubs won this series 4-0-1 (yes, there was a tie which is a thing that happened before there were lights.) The tie was in the first game of the series so it looked very possible that this could have been a series but the dominant Chicago Cubs, coming off their frustrating 1906 loss, decided that they weren’t going to let that happen again and won the next three games. Detroit scored 3 runs in the tie and the rest of the way matched that total.

MY SERIES MVP: Harry Steinfeldt

49. 1928-St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Yankees

The Yankees won this series 4-0. They had a lot of not so competitive World Series in the 20’s and especially the 30’s. This one was a rematch of the 1926 World Series, which is actually a really good one and one of my favorites. This one wasn’t. The Yankees outscored the Cardinals by 17 runs and they won every game by at least 3 runs. There just weren’t really any big moments to get too invested it.

MY SERIES MVP: Lou Gehrig

48. 1938-Chicago Cubs vs New York Yankees

Again the Yankees beat up on a National League team. They won this series 4-0 as well. I put it just ahead of the previous series because the Yankees only outscored the Cubs 22-9 and there was even a 2 run game. There was a Cubs vs Yankees World Series where Babe Ruth supposedly called his shot. This series didn’t even have a Babe Ruth.

MY SERIES MVP: Frank Crosetti

47. 1939-Cincinnati Reds vs New York Yankees

Remember when I said that the Yankees had some not competitive World Series in this era? This was one of those. They won the series 4-0. They outscored the Reds by 12 runs however game 1 was solid and the clincher went to extras so that’s kind of fun.

MY SERIES MVP: Charlie Keller

46. 1905-Philadelphia Athletics vs New York Giants

Both of these teams still exist. Neither of them in these cities (in fact at the time of this writing it’s been announced the Athletics are moving again. Fun!) The Giants won this series 4-1 which means no sweep and there wasn’t even a tie! This series was also interesting as every single game was a shut out. This series was also kind of dull because every single game had a shut out. Christy Mathewson had three of them. That’ll never happen again.

MY SERIES MVP: Christy Mathewson

45. 1927-New York Yankees vs Pittsburgh Pirates

There are a lot of people who will say the 1927 Yankees are the best team ever. The team they beat in the World Series was the Pittsburgh Pirates. They beat them 4-0. They outscored the Pirates by 13 runs but games 1 and 4 were competitive. Game 4 ended on a walk off wild pitch and that’s weird and the combination of ending on a weird play and the participation of such a famous club at least keeps you from being the worst series ever.

MY SERIES MVP: Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth 1921
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

44. 1937-New York Yankees vs New York Giants

The first series on this list featuring an all New York match up and if that’s not something that interests you then you are going to hate early 20th century baseball. The Yankees took this series 4-1 but while it wasn’t a sweep only 1 game in this series was really competitive and that was game 5 of the series, so at least it was the clincher.

MY SERIES MVP: Tony Lazzeri

43. 1932-New York Yankees vs Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs actually made a decent amount of World Series in the early 20th century and it seems that typically that was a sign that the series was probably going to suck. Or maybe it was just the presence of the Yankees. In my reading of past Chicago Cubs teams even they felt they never had a shot in this series and that was because of pitching. Well, they were right. The Yankees scored 37 runs and outscored the cubs by 18. They won this series 4-0 and I they only reason it’s not lower on the list was because of the offense put forth by the Yankees and this is the series with the supposed Babe Ruth “called shot” I’m pretty certain he didn’t call his shot but it’s fun lore and if you want to believe in it I don’t care. I’m still mourning the loss by my favorite baseball team

MY SERIES MVP: Lou Gehrig

42. 1908-Chicago Cubs vs Detroit Tigers

The Cubs are involved in yet another unexciting World Series but this time it’s because they completely outmatch the Tigers for the second year in a row. This time the Tigers did win a game but that was it. The Cubs won the series 4-1. Game 1 was exciting as the Cubs scored 5 runs in a come back effort and the last two games of the series had tension. Also the Cubs were the first ever back to back champions so there was some intrigue with that as well. As an aside the 1908 season was probably more famous for both the AL and NL pennant race than the actual series (aside from the fact that this was the Cubs last championship for 108 years)

MY SERIES MVP: Orval Overall

41. 1910-Chicago Cubs vs Philadelphia A’s

This could have been a great match up as it’s kind of a team of the mid to late 00s in the Cubs vs the Athletics, who were a strong team in the late 00s to early 10s but the A’s won this fairly easily. They took the series 4-1 and outscored the Cubs by 20. With that said there were 2 games close that the A’s pulled away from late and there was a walk off win for the Cubs only win so it was a more interesting series than it would appear at first.

MY SERIES MVP: Eddie Collins

40. 1919-Chicago White Sox vs Cincinnati Reds

Probably the most infamous World Series ever due to it being the one at the center of the Black Sox Scandal. This is a tough series to rank as it’s unclear how much of what you see is “legit” but with a final series score of 5-3 (it was a best of 9 series) it’s not completely clear if it would be deserving of being so low on the list. The Reds did outscore the White Sox by 20 runs but 5 games of this series had final scores that fell within 3 runs or less. The Reds winning was also a big upset…it’s just….obviously this series is tainted.

MY SERIES MVP: Hod Eller

39. 1914-Boston Braves vs Philadelphia Athletics

This is the only season in which the Braves won a championship in Boston and it was an upset. The Braves won the series 4-0 vs a heavily favored A’s team. The Braves were in last place in July of the 1914 season and ended up roaring back to take the pennant. In lore they’re called the Miracle Braves. The series itself was ok aside from the sweep but I think the story of the Braves and their upset is way more interesting than the series itself however after a blow out win for Boston in game 1 the last 3 were all hotly contested with the Braves needing a run in the 9th of game 2 to win 1-0 and extras to win game 3.

MY SERIES MVP: Hank Gowdy

38. 1936-New York Yankees vs New York Giants

This is the first time the Yankees made the World Series without Babe Ruth and while they won it 4-2 there were two massive blowouts that kind of were a buzzkill (the Yankees won games 18-4 and 13-5.) There were a couple of close games as well so it wasn’t a complete stinker of a series but with no real moments aside from this being the first of Joe DiMaggio’s 9 rings it feels kind of hollow as a series. Plus the guy I selected as MVP had a negative career WAR, which is kind of weird.

MY SERIES MVP: Jake Powell

37. 1951-New York Yankees vs New York Giants

Like I’ve said before in the first 50 World Series there are a lot of match ups between the Yankees and some other New York team (we haven’t even gotten to all the Yankees vs Dodgers World Series. This season is probably more famous for it’s NL pennant race than the actual World Series. Remember the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World and the announcer screaming about the Giants winning the pennant? Well that’s from this Giants team as they beat the Dodgers in a best of 3 tie breaker playoff to make this series. The Giants road that momentum and even took a 2-1 game series lead vs a Yankees team that was going for a 3rd straight championship but they ran out of steam as the Yankees won 3 straight. Most of the games in this series weren’t very close however, even with the series going 6. There were a lot of 4 runs or greater wins and it just didn’t live up to the drama of the NL race.

MY SERIES MVP: Eddie Lopat

36. 1920-Cleveland Indians vs Brooklyn Robins

This was another best of 9 series so the Indians won the series 5-2. I don’t like the best of 9 and I’m glad they steered clear of it. A 4-2 series lead seems tough to come back from but I think of how boring a 4-1 lead or even worse a 4-0 lead would be as you are essentially playing multiple games in a playoff series that seem point less. I think in the annals of time these teams just seem kind of forgettable. 3 Hall of Famers on each teams feels like very few for a championship team from the early 20th century (they’ve had a lot of time to be voted in) a a good chunk of games had 3 run leads or more, which wouldn’t seem like that much except this is the dead ball era. There was an unassisted triple play in this series, taking place in game 5 by Bill Wambsganss so there was at least an interesting moment.

MY SERIES MVP: Stan Coveleski

35. 1930-Philadelphia Athletics vs St. Louis Cardinals

The biggest intrigue here is the Athletics going for their second championship in a row. The Athletics of the late 20’s seem to get lost in the midst of the Yankees dynasty but they also had some good teams. They won this series 4-2. The series also featured a 2-0 comeback as after Philadelphia took a 2-0 series lead the Cardinals did storm back and game 5 was very good considering the circumstances, a great pitcher’s dual between Lefty Grove and Burleigh Grimes ending with a 2 run homer from Jimmy Foxx in the top of the 9th. But really this was the only game in the series that stands as classic and it ended in a 7-1 victory for the Athletics in game 6.

MY SERIES MVP: George Earnshaw

34. 1944-St. Louis Browns vs St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Browns are probably the worst baseball franchise ever (I’m talking pre-Baltimore.) They barely had any winning season let alone coming anywhere close to a pennant. When World War 2 hit a lot of teams sent players to fight in the war which left a pretty watered down league. The Browns really didn’t so they didn’t exactly climb to the level of their competition. The competition fell to their level. It just so happened that their only appearance in the series also happened to be vs. the way more successful National League team who shared not just a city but the same ball park with them. The series itself isn’t bad. The first two games are 1 run ball games (one going to extras) and the underdog Browns even held a 2-1 lead but the Cardinals won the last three games of the series (including 2 final games that were both 2 run ball games) and won the championship. I just can’t help but feel the watered down nature of baseball at the time hurt this series place in history. The St. Louis Browns don’t even have a single hall of famer who played in this series, which is very rare for a series almost 80 years old. I did pick a Brown as the series MVP however despite the loss as George McQuinn was by far the best overall player in the series and I’m happy he got to win one later in his career with the Yankees.

MY SERIES MVP: George McQuinn

33. 1929-Philadelphia Athletics vs Chicago Cubs

The 1929 Athletics are a very underrated ballclub and are completely overshadowed by the 1927 Yankees as far as great teams go. I would love to see a series between the 2 but the Athletics didn’t get to play the Yankees. Instead they played the Cubs and they beat them 4-1 but that doesn’t reflect the nature of this series. The Athletics jumped to a 2-0 series lead after a 3-1 win in Chicago and then a blowout 9-3 win as well. The Cubs took one in Philly and with a chance to tie the series up 8-0 in the 7th inning the A’s scored 10 in the Bottom of the 7th to get a huge 3-1 lead. In the final game the Cubs again held a 2-0 lead into the 9th when the Athletics scored 3 runs to take the championship. This series could have been classic but the Cubs kind of messed that up but the 10 run bottom of the 7th has to be one of the most shocking things in post season history.

MY SERIES MVP: Lefty Grove

32. 1934-Detroit Tigers vs St. Louis Cardinals

This was a 7 game series with the amount of blowouts (including an 11-0 game that was over by the 7th inning in game 7) kind of overcoming anything to make this one a classic. The most interesting aspect of this series, however, would be the Cardinals winning games 6 and 7 in Detroit to win the series. Home teams actually only won 2 games in total in this series. This was also a championship won by the Cardinals “Gashouse Gang” with the most famous moment probably being in game 7 when Ducky Medwick slides hard into third base causing a brew haha which led to fans throwing bottles and garbage at him and Medwich being forcibly removed from the game by the commissioner. This also was a poorly defended game as there was a total of 27 errors committed between the two teams. I like clean baseball.

MY SERIES MVP: Dizzy Dean

31. 1917-Chicago White Sox vs New York Giants

The White Sox of this era were very good and got marred by the 1919 controversy but this title in 1917 was well earned. Aside from game 2 of this series where the White Sox led by 5 after 4 every game was tight until the end. Game 1 was a 1 run game. Game 3 was a 2-0 game. Game 4 was tight until the Giants pulled away in the 7th. Game 5 was tied until the 8th inning and the deciding game was a 2 run win for the White Sox. It’s a series that’s often not thought of as World War 1 was going on at the time and what happened in 1919 really messed up the White Sox legacy but it’s not a bad series at all. It’s also the last time the White Sox won a championship until 2005. I also gave the series MVP to the losing team which is weird after I hyped up how good the White Sox were. Oh well.

MY SERIES MVP: Dave Robertson

30. 1943-New York Yankees vs St. Louis Cardinals

Another series during the back drop of the War. It was a rematch of the previous season and it’s the first series with footage one can watch on Youtube. Unfortunately some big stars missed this one due to military service so Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing and Enos Slaughter, while all members of the team don’t participate. The Yankees won this 4-1 but all the games were close with only one game being more than 3 runs and even that was due to a 5 run inning late in the ball game.

MY SERIES MVP: Bill Dickey

29. 1933-New York Giants vs Washington Senators

This series is a rematch from the 1924 classic between the two ball clubs. It’s the last time there’d be a World Series game in Washington until 2019. The Giants won this 4-1 but the biggest takeaway from this series is the last two games of the series. Game 1 was a pretty good 4-2 ball game but the next three were not. Games 4 and 5, both in Washington were won by the Giants in 11 then 10 innings so there was definitely a lot of tension late in the series even if the Giants won the majority of the game.

MY SERIES MVP: Mel Ott

28. 1931-Philadelphia Athletics vs St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals won this series 4-3 despite being outscored by the Athletics. What struck me the most is it felt like the Cardinals did score a lot of their runs on bloopers and wild pitches. And even with a game 7 score of 4-2 it did enter the 9th as as 4-0 ball game. Overall most of the games just had a spread that kept big, tense moments from really taking center stage even though the series went 7. Most games entered the 9th inning with 3, 4 or 5 run leads and the games just feel decided at that point plus when you consider how the Cardinals won it doesn’t exactly seem like the team that deserved to win won.

MY SERIES MVP: Pepper Martin

27. 1950-Philadelphia Phillies vs New York Yankees

This might be my favorite sweep of all the World Series. First of all you had the upstart Whiz Kids going again the New York Yankees (who were going for their 2nd straight title and this ended up being number 2 of 5 straight) so there was an interesting storyline. The Phillies had never won a World Series and it was only their second ever appearance in one, which is pretty crazy considering that this is an old National League ball club. The first three games were 1 run games, with game 2 going to extras and while game 3 the Yankees led 5-0 late the Phillies got the tying run to the plate.

MY SERIES MVP: Joe DiMaggio

26. 1945-Detroit Tigers vs Chicago Cubs

This is another World Series played in the backdrop of the War and while there’s not a lot of hall of fame talent (only Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser made it) one could make arguments for Phil Cavarretta, Claude Passeau and Stan Hack for the Cubs. This is also the last time the Cubs made the World Series until 2016. The majority of the games were wide margins but game 3 did feature a 1 hitter by Passeau and game 6 was a classic ball game featuring an 9th inning 4 run comeback by the Tigers and a walk off win by the Cubs. It’s a game that moves the series up the list for me.

MY SERIES MVP: Hank Greenberg

25. 1916-Boston Red Sox vs Brooklyn Robins

This series has some fun stuff. While the Red Sox won the series 4-1 the first three games were spectacular. Game 1 ended 6-5 when a furious 9th inning rally by Brooklyn almost brought a 6-1 game even. Game 2 was a 14 inning pitchers dual where Babe Ruth went 14 innings for the 2-1 win and game 3 was a 4-3 win for Brooklyn where the last 2 innings were scoreless, stressful baseball. Unfortunately, the last two weren’t as contested and the series didn’t go deep but this series is cool just for the Babe Ruth going 14 innings tidbit.

MY SERIES MVP: Ernie Shore

24. 1949-New York Yankees vs Brooklyn Dodgers

This one is in the middle of 7 series between these two teams from 1941 to 1956. The rivalry really gets ramped up in the 50’s and I’m not even sure Lakers vs Celtics of the 80’s holds a candle to the battles that these two had. This one isn’t one of the better ones as the Yankees won this series 4-1 but it does start their run of 5 straight championships. The first 2 games of this series the teams traded 1-0 wins. The Yankees then won tight games 3-4 before taking game 5 fairly easily.

MY SERIES MVP: Bobby Brown

23. 1940-Detroit Tigers vs Cincinnati Reds

The previous time the Reds had won the World Series it had felt tainted as it was the 1919 series vs the White Sox. The Reds win the series 4-3 and it’s another odd one where the Tigers actually outscore the Reds by 6 runs. Not too many great games in this one as only game 2 and game 7 are probably the only games I’d say were good but a good game 7 will always improve how a series is viewed. It was also interesting as the Reds trailed in the series 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 but were able to win big games and able to bring home their first title not tainted by scandal (even though 1919 wasn’t their fault)

MY SERIES MVP: Jimmy Ripple

22. 1915-Boston Red Sox vs Philadelphia Phillies

Before the Phillies finally won 1 in 1980 (they only have 2, the other in 2008) they had made 2 World Series. The previously mentioned one in 1950 and this one. They ran into the buzzsaw that was the 1910’s Boston Red Sox. Boston had won championships in 1912, this one, 1916 and 1918 (and with the Braves winning in 1914 the city of Boston was the city of baseball champions in this decade until they sold some baseball player no one had ever heard of. Baby Ruth or something?) But, while they did win this series 4-1 the games were close. The Phillies had the biggest blow out of the series with a 3-1 win in game 1. Game 2, 3, 4 and 5 were all 1 run wins for the Red Sox. Turns out the Phillies didn’t make the World Series often in the first half of the century but when they did they sure were good at losing by 1 run.

MY SERIES MVP: Rube Foster

21. 1918-Boston Red Sox vs Chicago Cubs

This is the last time the Red Sox won a championship until 2004 however as I mentioned before it was their 4th of the decade. Kind of weird to dominate a decade then not win again for 80 plus years. This series was played with World War 1 in the back drop and very poorly attended. The Red Sox ended up winning this series 4-2 but all were very close with the biggest blowout being a 3 run win in game 5 that only became 3 runs in the 8th. Babe Ruth won 2 games this series as a pitcher including a 1-0 complete game shut out (have I mentioned he was a very good pitcher ) Ruth played one more year in Boston, got sold to the Yankees and, I don’t know, completely changed the history of baseball.

MY SERIES MVP: Carl Mays

Credit: Library of Congress

20. 1922 New York Yankees vs New York Giants

I’m going to be candid and I did some of these over a year ago so the fact that I have this series high is somewhat confusing to me. The Giants won this series 4-0-1 and I think the ultimate reason I did this is it’s kind of a part of my bigger narrative of they Yankees trying to get over the hump and finally beat the more established Giants and it fits that and remember that storylines matter when it comes to my rankings. As for as the series go, it’s got some good games for being a sweep. Game 1 was a 3-2 win for the Giants in which they come back in the 8th to win. Game 2 is a tie and those are fun right? (again a Giants comeback though) Game 3 was a boring 3-0 win but Game 4 was a 4-3 ball game and the clincher again involved a comeback win for the Giants when they scored 3 runs in the 8th. The storyline also seems to be the fact that the Yankees got leads but couldn’t beat these guys.

MY SERIES MVP: Irish Meusel

19. 1941-Brooklyn Dodgers vs New York Yankees

The first of many battles between these two franchises and it served as kind of a prologue to what would come 10-15 years later. Both ball clubs were very good as they had won 100 games that season (yeah I’m finally listing records for teams to help build the series. I probably should have done that earlier but the good new is I have almost 100 more of these to go! Again it was kind of a short series with the Yankees winning 4-1 but each game was close and there was a fairly big infamous moment in game 4 of this thing. Games 1, 2 and 3 were all 1 run ball games and in game 4, with the Dodgers on the brink of tying this series up in the 9th inning with 2 outs Mickey Owen drops a third strike. The runner is safe, the Yankees score 4 runs and win the game. The final game of the series was another close one, though this one was 2 runs.

MY SERIES MVP: Joe Gordon

18. 1942-St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Yankees

I put this here I think just because it was refreshing to see the Yankees not only lose one, but lose one in 5 games. But that doesn’t make any sense because I am a Cubs fan and therefore dislike the Cardinals. Game 1 was a 7-4 game but at one point it was 7-0 Yankees. In the bottom of the 9th the Cardinals cut it to 7-4 and had Stan Musial at the plate with the chance to complete an epic comeback. They don’t but it marked things to come. Game 2 featured a Yankees 3 run come back to tie in the 8th however they lost the game the next inning. Game 3 was a tight 2-0 contest that was 1-0 until the 9th. Game 4 was tied at 6 following a 5 run come back for the Yankees but they ended up losing anyways and the series clincher was again done with 2 late inning runs for the Cardinals. This series did pack a lot of excitement into these 5 games.

MY SERIES MVP: Johnny Beasley

17. 1948-Cleveland Indians vs Boston Braves

Sorry Cleveland fans, this is the last time your team won a championship as they won the series 4-2. This is also the last time the Braves won a pennant while in Boston. There’s a lot I like about this series. I have a fascination with the Boston Braves and that’s mostly because I live in Boston at the time of this writing. The Braves have mostly faded from memory of the city but every once in a while you are reminded of their presence, mostly if you visit Boston University and hang around what is currently known as Nickerson Field as that’s where the Braves ball park once was and it was at this ball park the series was actually clinched. Satchel Paige pitched for the Indians and he’s definitely one of my favorite figures of the past and I have a strange attachment to the city of Cleveland for baseball considering it’s the location in which I visited my first ever Major League game and it’s the location in which my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. As for this series, it opened with a fantastic pitcher’s dual between Bob Feller (who is from Iowa, as am I so another attachment I have to this series) and Johnny Sain (a saying during this year was “Spahn and Sain pray for rain) in reference to the Boston Braves pitching duo. Spahn was Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn in this.) The Braves won this game 1-0. Game 3 was a 2 run affair, game 4 was a 1 run game where Boston scored the winning run late. Game 5 was a 6 run ball game but only because of a 6 run rally by Boston in the 7th and the clincher was a 1 run battle as well.

MY SERIES MVP: Gene Bearden

16. 1935-Detroit Tigers vs Chicago Cubs

This is the first time the Detroit Tigers had ever won a World Series and part of that was because the Chicago Cubs had beat them in 1907 and 1908. The Tigers beat the Cubs 4-2 in this one. Games 1 and 2 weren’t remarkable (though game 1 was a 3-0 shut out which is enjoyable to a certain kind of fan) but game 3 was an 11 inning classic (if you ignore the 5 errors between the 2 clubs), game 4 was a 1 run tense battle, game 5 was a 2 run victory for the Cubs but not with out stress as the tying run reached base and the series ended on a walk off hit by Goose Goslin. The Tigers had some star power as well with Mickey Cochrane, Goose Goslin and Hank Greenberg (they also had Charlie Gehringer as a Hall of Famer but I think the previous mentioned names are just more well known) the Cubs also had players like Gabby Hartnett and Stan Hack along with other Hall of Fame players Billy Herman, Chuck Klein and Freddie Lindstrom, so this series wasn’t lacking for talent at all. Also, at 100-54, this is probably one of the best Chicago Cubs teams ever but since they didn’t win it all they probably get lost in time.

MY SERIES MVP: Charlie Gehringer

15. 1921-New York Yankees vs New York Giants

This is the first ever appearance in a series by the New York Yankees. It was also one of the few series that took place in the same stadium as both teams were occupied the Polo Grounds (the Cardinals/Browns was also like this as both teams played at Sportsman’s Park) This was the first time in three straight years that the two teams would match up with the Giants taking this one 5-3 (it was one of those weird best of 9 series) It was tabbed as a small ball vs home run ball series as Ruth, in his second year with the Yankees had 59 homers, which was a record at the time beating the previous held record of 54 home runs also held by Ruth. Also of note, Frank “Home Run” Baker was on this Yankees team as well. He was the previous Home Run king and at one time led the AL in home runs with…12. Look at all the power in this line up! (Just to show how different the game was before Ruth came along, the may nicknamed “Home Run” for hitting so many, didn’t even have 100 in his career) This series was more interesting to me because of the three year story arch in which it took Ruth three seasons to bring home a championship to the Yankees and how this season kind of was the beginning of creating what the Yankees ended up being. The series itself as intrigue as opposed to the individual games as the Yankees got out to a 2-0 then 3-2 series lead and there are multiple instances within this series where the Yankees get the lead and can’t hold on so if one wants to form the narrative of the “Yankees don’t know how to win yet” they probably could have. This series also came close to having a game 9, which never happened, as the clincher was a 1-0 win for the Giants in which the winning run came in the top of the first.

MY SERIES MVP: Irish Meusel

14. 1911-Philadelphia Athletics vs New York Giants

This was a rematch of that 1905 series and it’s kind of interesting that these two also participated in a World Series many, many years later when they both played in the Bay Area (though, at least in modern day, Philly and New York definitely have their own rivalry and I wouldn’t be surprised if even over 100 years ago that rivalry existed in sport) This series featured a 1 run game in game 1, a 2 run game in game 2, extra innings in game 3 and 5 with a 2 run ball game (a 2 run comeback as well) sandwiched in game 4. We were on our way to a classic when the Athletics ended it with an 11 run blow out in game 6. If it ended in the same way the first 5 went and went 7 this probably is much higher on the list but still some good, tense ballgames throughout this series.

MY SERIES MVP: Frank Baker

13. 1903-Boston Americans vs Pittsburgh Pirates

The biggest trivia factoid around this series is the fact that it’s the first ever World Series played. The Boston Americans (now the Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Pirates) It was a best of 9 series and the first game was played in Boston. The Pirates jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before Boston stormed back to win the final 4 games (Pittsburgh blew a 3-1 lead) and win the first ever World Series. The games weren’t exactly classics but it’s the first and winning 4 straight to come from behind in a series isn’t nothing. This series also featured a lead off inside-the-park home run, something that didn’t happen again until 2015, so that’s kind of fun (though most homers at the time were of the inside-the-park variety. After this series there wasn’t one played in 1904 but after that it was played every year until the strike year in 1994.

MY SERIES MVP: Bill Dineen

12. 1913-New York Giants vs Philadelphia Athletics

It was a 4-1 series win for the Athletics and maybe on paper doesn’t seem that spectacular however this series did feature one of my favorite defensive performances ever by Hooks Wiltse. Also, looking through every game in this series a Hall of Famer was named player of the game by me in every game of this series meaning the best players played at their best which is always fun. With that said every game of this series was competitive, aside from game 3 of this series which was a 8-3 blow out so which means most of this series downfall comes from the fact that it was very short but I do remember enjoying reading the play by play to this series when I went through it.

MY SERIES MVP: Frank Baker

11. 1946-St. Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox.

The Cardinals bested the Boston Red Sox 4-3 in this series. This was the great Ted Williams only pennant win and unfortunately he didn’t play great in this series and thus never to get a championship win. It was a series that was back and forth until the Cardinals won 2 straight to win it all. Game 1 was an extra inning classic with the Red Sox tying the game in the 9th then winning in the 10th. Games 2 and 3 the teams exchanged shut out victories with a 3-0 and 4-0 nothing final. Game 4 was a blow out. Game 5 was a 6-3 final disguised as a blowout and game 6 was a 4-1 that never got overly interesting but game 7 had one of the more infamous endings in World Series history when Enos Slaughter ran from first base in the 8th inning of a tied game and would have been thrown out but Red Sox short stop Johnny Pesky hesitated when he saw Slaughter run home and the run scored. The game ended and the Red Sox couldn’t win their first championship since losing Babe Ruth. Dom DiMaggio did tie the game in the top of the 8th which is too bad because he’s definitely overshadowed by his brother Joe but he was a solid ballplayer himself.

MY SERIES MVP: Harry Brecheen

10. 1923-New York Yankees vs New York Giants

This was the third straight match up between these two teams but this time the Yankees pull out the victory and ultimately it’s their first of 27 championships. This kind continued the 3 year narrative that either I am overexaggerating or actually did exist with Ruth trying to bring the title to the Yankees vs the Giants and with games that the Yankees seem to blow vs the Giants. Game 1 was like that as the Yankees led 3-0 early and the Giants came back to take the lead. Yanks came back but the Giants ended up winning game 1 with a 9th inning run and it seemed like a replay of the previous 2 years was at hand. Yankees won game 2 then lost a 1-0 game 3 but the next 2 games they won fairly easily (though they did see an 8-0 lead cut in half before winning game 4) and in game 6 the Yankees performed a comeback of their own as down 4-1 late they scored 5 runs in the 8th on the road to win the championship for the first time ever.

MY SERIES MVP: Babe Ruth

9. 1906-Chicago White Sox vs Chicago Cubs

Field during game 3 of 1906 World Series
Credit: guano, Flickr

The 1906 Cubs are according to record the best baseball team to play in the World Series era. They’re final record was 116-36. This is the only match up between both Chicago clubs in the series as both teams had massive championship droughts before finally winning one in the 2000’s. The Cubs were very highly favored but after game 1 when the White Sox won 2-1 it looked like they would have their hands full. The Cubs won easily in game 2 to tie the series but were shut out in game. They returned the favor with a 1-0 shut out in game 4 but that was the last win in the series for the Cubbies as they dropped a high scoring 2 run ball game in game 5 then the clincher, a 5 run blowout that was over by the 2nd innings. This was a massive upset and even in 1906 was a nice lesson on what this game was capable of. One does have to wonder if it helped motivate the Cubs to win in 07 and 08.

MY SERIES MVP: Jiggs Donahue

8. 1909-Detroit Tigers vs Pittsburgh Pirates

The Tigers are in the series for the third straight year. The first 2 against the Cubs they were hardly competitive but this was the closest Ty Cobb ever came to capturing a title but the 110 win Pirates were just good enough as they won 4-3. This was also the first series to go to a winner take all game. This series didn’t have the closest played games as only 1 game finished with a 1 run score but this series had a few home runs (which weren’t the most common in the era), Ty Cobb stole home at one point, a couple of shut outs and two of the best players of all time competed in this series in Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb. While the deciding game 7 was a dud it was still the first ever that decided a series and the first ever thing is always cool.

MY SERIES MVP: Tommy Leach

7. 1952-New York Yankees vs Brooklyn Dodgers

One of the many battles between these two clubs in the 50’s and it went all 7 with the Yankees winning their 4th straight championship 4-3. The Dodgers took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 and 3-2 but could never put this Yankee team away. Games 2 and 3 were played within 2 run margins but the highlights of this series are games 5 and 6. Game 5 was an extra inning battle that saw the Dodgers give away a 4-0 lead but come back from 5-4 down to win in extra innings. The Yankees came back from 1-0 down in the 7th inning to win the game 3-2. Game 7, which can be viewed on youtube. The announcers for this ballgame will have you believe this was the greatest series you have ever seen. I’m sure part of that was selling the series but as you can see, since I rate it 7th (and that’s just out of the first 50) I don’t think it’s the greatest. Game 7 was a solid game but I wouldn’t call it a classic by any means (though better than a lot of game 7 duds we’ve seen so far.) As an aside, however, this series has one of the better on field celebrations that have been seen in World Series history as most celebrations up to this point mostly happen in the clubhouse. I plan on writing an analysis of World Series celebrations over the years but what was cool about this one was that it seemed to be celebratory of relief pitcher Bob Kuzava shutting the Dodgers down more than it was about celebrating the championship and that just seemed unique.

MY SERIES MVP: Mickey Mantle

6. 1953-New York Yankees vs Brooklyn Dodgers

This was yet another rematch between these two teams. I liked this series better than the previous mostly because of the fight put forth by the Dodgers in this one. Yes the Yankees won 4-2 but each game featured some back and forth and even when there was a decent amount of distance between the two teams there was still a sense that a comeback would take place. Game 1 featured a 5 run comeback for the Dodgers (even though they eventually lost by 4.) Game 2 had a comeback from each team before the Yankees ultimately won. The Dodgers then came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the series but not without winning dramatically with a late tie breaking homer by Roy Campanella in game 3. Game 4 looked like a blowout on paper but when it was 7-3 the Yankees could have had the tying run up at the plate were it not for Billy Martin getting thrown out at the plate. In game 5 the Yankees at one point held a 10-1 lead but the Dodgers only lost 11-7 and game 6 was an absolute classic won by a walk off single by Billy Martin only after a dramatic 2 run homer in the top of the 9th by Carl Furillo to tie it. This championship gave the Yankees a 5th straight title (something that it’s hard to see happening again, especially as more and more teams make the playoffs)

MY SERIES MVP: Billy Martin

5. 1947-New York Yankees vs Brooklyn Dodgers

Obviously this series didn’t happen in the 50’s but it’s definitely part of the saga of series played between these two teams. Yes the two teams met in 1941 but this series really seemed to mark the beginning of what I think may be the greatest championship rivalry in sports. This series was also a 7 game classic with the winner being the New York Yankees (as it often was) 4-3. A decent game 1 and a blow out of game 2 started this series as each team took a game. Game 3 was classic in which the Dodgers were down 2-1 entering the bottom of the 9th and left with a victory. After the Yankees took a tight game 5 at Ebbets field the Series turned to Yankee Stadium where it would have seemed likely that the Yanks would put it away in 9. The Dodgers were able to steal game 6 but not game 7 and the Yankees won the championship. I think this series was less dramatic than the previous one but it was a better 7 game series than the previously mentioned 7 game series between the 2 clubs and it was for this reason it just gets the nod over the ’53 series in my eyes.

MY SERIES MVP: Billy Johnson

4. 1925-Washington Senators vs Pittsburgh Pirates

The Washington Senators were trying for back to back championships in this one however the Pirates won this World Series 4-3 but also this is the first time a team came back from 3-1 down in a 7 game series to win a World Series. Three of the games were 1 run ball games. Game 5 was 1 run entering the 8th inning and game 7 featured an exciting 3 run bottom of the 8th inning for a come from behind victory for the Pirates. This was after the Senators had taken a 4-0 lead to start the game. Walter Johnson was the starter for the Senators in this game meaning a 4 run lead wasn’t enough in the deciding game of a World Series, one of the rare blemishes for a great pitcher. This series was also close in terms of runs scored for the series as Washington scored just 1 run more than the Pirates giving even more evidence as to how closely contested this series was.

MY SERIES MVP: Max Carey

3. 1926-St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Yankees

This is a very good World Series. For starters this is the first time a team from St. Louis won a title but adding to that I really enjoyed the story of Grover Pete Alexander coming out of the bullpen to win the series. This series also ended with Babe Ruth being thrown out at the plate to end the series and that’s something that it’s hard to imagine you’d ever see again. Babe Ruth had a three home run game in series 4 as well so there’s a lot happening. Add an extra inning game 5 and a 2-1 game to start the series and there was just a lot happening in this thing. It’s definitely one of my favorite series and I do believe that if anyone has the chance to read the play by play to any of these series (the 1926, 1912 or 1924 it is absolutely recommended to do so.

MY SERIES MVP: Grover Cleveland Alexander

2. 1912-Boston Red Sox vs New York Giants

For starters this was a series between two 100 win teams. They’re also cities that are geographical rivals between New York and Boston so there’s already a built in intrigue here. The Red Sox beat the Giants 4-3 in 8 games as game 2 ended in a tie (which also happened when both teams scored in the 10th inning) Games 1, 3 ,5 and 8 were all 1 run ball games. Game 4 was a 1 run game going into the 9th inning and the deciding game had an infamous finish and also had a team come back from 1 run down in extra innings to walk it off and win the World Series. This is also another series where I give the MVP to a member of the losing team.

MY SERIES MVP: Buck Herzog

1. 1924-New York Giants vs Washington Senators

The series started off with a 12 inning classic in which both teams scored in the final inning (however it was New York 2 times and Washington once. Game 2 featured a 9th inning come back and a 3 run comeback over all but a walk off winner for the Senators. Game 3 was a 2 run winner for the Giants however the tying run was at second with an out to go for the Senators as there were bases loaded and 1 out. Games 5 and 6 were normal, relaxing wins for the Giants however game 6 was a tense nailbiter as Washington had to hold a 2-1 lead for the final 4 innings of the ball game. Game 7 was an all time classic as the Senators as Washington trailed by 2 runs entering the bottom of the 8th. They then walked off the game in the bottom of the 12th to win the city’s only championship until 2019, a drought that included 3 franchises (there was a gap between teams in DC for quite some time as well but without this dramatic winner the city wouldn’t have had a champion until then) There’s also footage of the final play of the series which you can view here

Goose Goslin sliding into third during a 1925 game
Credit: Library of Congress, Flickr

MY SERIES MVP: Goose Goslin

 

 

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