Up at Bat: Vintage Programs of Memorable World Series Games
The predictions are rolling in: will it be the American League Detroit Tigers against the National League Cincinnati Reds? Or perhaps the New York Yankees vs. the Reds? In just over a week, the two leagues will face off in the 2012 Major League Baseball World Series games Wednesday, Oct. 24. The home-field advantage in the playoffs belongs to the NL, but in this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at seasons past with vintage programs that commemorate of MLB’s most historic games or feature beautiful designs.
Though pre-World Series, this 1888 scorecard for the Cincinnati BaseBall Club exemplifies advancements in printing of the post-Industrial Revolution era.
The inaugural World Series of 1903 marked the first time the American League and National League played against one other. The Boston Americans (whose official nickname “Pilgrims” was rarely used at the time) beat the Pittsburgh Pirates at Exposition Park in the nine-game series with a score of 5–0 on October 13. Today, of course, Boston is known as the Red Sox.
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The 1919 World Series pitted the Chicago White Sox against the Cincinnati Reds (with the Reds winning 5–3), but the game is most known for the Black Sox Scandal. Eight Chicago players conspired with gamblers and intentionally lost the game out of resentment towards team owner Charles Comiskey, who was known to underpay his players.
At the time, baseball players were not free agents due to the Major League Baseball reserve clause and were forced to accept whatever wages they were offered by the team owner. Once the player was signed to a team, he could not obtain a contract to play for another until his current agreement expired, or until he was traded or released from the team.
After much suspicion, a grand jury investigated rumors of the fix and two years later the eight players involved found themselves banned for life from baseball.
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While the 1929 World Series was not as record-breaking compared to more memorable games, this program issued at Chicago’s Wrigley Field features a vibrant Art Deco design. The Philadelphia Athletics beat the Chicago Cubs 4–0 in this game.
This colorful program commemorates the 1931 World Series; the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Athletics 4–3.
World War II had just ended before the World Series games of 1945 , but many American baseball players were still in active duty military service. The Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs played this series, and the Tigers won 4–3.
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This souvenir program from the 1948 World Series marks the first time the games were televised nationally. In this series, the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves 4–0. Game 4 also broke the World Series attendance record at the time, with 81,897 fans in the stands of Cleveland Stadium. In the 1995 World Series both teams (by now, the Braves had relocated to Atlanta) met for a second time, with the Braves winning once again.
Having faced off in the previous year’s World Series, the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers met again in 1956. On October 8, Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitched a perfect game 5, making it the first and only one in MLB postseason and World Series history. It was the last time Ebbets Field would see a World Series game; the Brooklyn ballpark was demolished in 1960. Game 7 marked the last time Jackie Robinson was at bat – the Dodgers Hall-of-Famer retired from baseball at the end of the season.
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This 1965 World Series program issued at Dodger Stadium features the Minnesota Twins and the L.A. Dodgers as players in the Space Race. The Dodgers won the game 4–3.
The Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants hit the field in the “Battle of the Bay” World Series games of 1989. The A’s beat the Giants 4–0; however, this World Series is also best remembered because of the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake which struck before game 4 was set to begin. It was the first time a major earthquake had been broadcast live on television. Because both teams were from the Bay Area, rush hour traffic that day was unusually light because many people headed home early or stayed at work past business hours to watch the World Series. As a result, the number of casualties and injuries was thankfully far less than what may have been.
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