The Fall Classic carries distinctive feeling with it. Whether it is the century-old traditionalism, the patriotism, or the thrill of sport, it is hard to ignore the unique excitement of a World Series game.
Perhaps it is just the coincidence with the changing weather.
The series was first played in this format 110 years ago, in 1903. The Red Sox, then called the Boston Americans, won that contest. Their star: legendary pitcher Cy Young, who had a 1.85 ERA in four appearances in the Series. He is now the namesake of the award given to the best pitchers in each of the leagues.
Boston then won four World Series Championships from 1912 to 1918. Their fortunes then changed, the city was miserable in a championship drought after the Red Sox sold the great Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
In 2004, the Red Sox were in the American League Championship Series, down three games to zero to their rival Yankees. Boston then won the next four games, including the game with Curt Shilling and his iconic bloody sock. They earned a World Series berth, and went to face the St. Louis Cardinals.
There, they finally “reversed the curse,” as they swept the Cardinals 4 games to 0, and won their first World Series Championship in 84 years.
It wasn’t the first time the teams had met in the series. In 1946, the Sox were in the series for the first time since 1918. The Series was tied 3-3, and the in the bottom of the 8th inning of game 7, the score was also knotted at 3. Enos Slaughter led off with a single. After the Cardinals accumulated two outs, Harry Walker knocked a hit to left-center, and Slaughter sprinted the bases. He made it all the way to home plate from first base, and he scored the winning run, which gave the Cardinals the Series win.
Boston would not make it to the World Series again until 1967, when again they opposed St. Louis. The Cardinals were led by starting pitcher Bob Gibson, who pitched three complete games, only allowing three runs. Lou Brock of the St. Louis stole 3 bases in game seven, and snagged 7 bags in the series, a record that stands today. The formidable Cardinals clubhouse was further bolstered by the National League MVP Orlando Cepeda and the great Roger Maris. Gibson pitched a strong 3-hit complete game to take the series in the final game. Boston continued its “cursed” years.
The Cardinals have won the second most World Series titles, with 11. The Red Sox are tied for fourth place, with 7. The Sox last appeared in the Series in 2007, and have won both of their two most recent appearances. The Cardinals also have claimed the championship in their last two berths, most recently in 2011.
Now, the clubs battle for the 2013 World Series Championship. The Cardinals have taken 2 of the 3 matchups the Series, and now Boston hopes to even that to two wins apiece.
As two of the most storied teams in baseball match up once again, we have the opportunity to witness electrifying competition. We also have the chance to witness history, and feel the magic of baseball’s greatest stage.
– Andy O’Brien, Sports Editor