Claim: Baseball's championship competition is known as the "World Series" because it was originally sponsored by the New York World newspaper.
Many believe that the name World Series is American hype or arrogance, but the truth is that the Series was named after the New York World newspaper who sponsored the title games in the early part of the century.
[Auf Der Mar, 1991]
I followed the Blue Jays through their futility and then rooted for Atlanta in the wonderful World Series (originally named, by the way, for the New York World, the newspaper that was its first sponsor).
Origins: For over a century now, baseball's annual championship, the World Series, has been an essential American ritual. The modern World Series began in 1903, when the National League's pennant-winning Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a best-of-nine playoff series against Boston, champions of the upstart American League (which had made the jump from minor league to major league just two years earlier). After a one-year interruption in
The concept of a post-season championship series evolved long before 1903, however. Teams engaged in exhibitions and unofficial regional playoffs after the
The split-season format proved unpopular and therefore didn't come off in 1893, so an entrepreneur from Pittsburgh named
Save for a brief series between the National League's pennant-winning Brooklyn Superbas and the runner-up Pittsburgh Pirates after the 1900 season (the winner receiving a silver cup donated by the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph), post-season play did not resume until the modern World Series matching American and National league champions against each other began in 1903. Somewhere along the way (the earliest citation we've found so far is from 1991), people have picked up the notion that the fall classic, baseball's World Series, is so named not because the victors are considered the world's champions, but because the contest was originally sponsored by the New York World newspaper. Perhaps this belief springs from today's hyper-commercial sporting climate, in which nearly all athletic championships and sports stadiums are named for corporate sponsors, or perhaps it springs from the incongruity of the winners of a contest featuring only teams from North America being declared "world champions," but so prevalent is this erroneous belief that it is now regularly cited as a "fact," despite a complete lack of any supporting evidence.
The New York World was established in 1860, just before the Civil War, and it fared poorly throughout the 1870s before being bought up by Joseph Pulitzer in 1883. Over the next half-century, the World was renowned for everything from its "yellow journalism" to its debut of the crossword puzzle; in 1930 it was sold and merged with the Evening Telegram to become the New York World-Telegram. The New York World never had anything to do with the World Series, however, other than being one of the many newspapers to report the results. The modern World Series (like its predecessor series waged between National League and American Association teams from 1884-1890) was so named not because of any affiliation with a corporate sponsor, but because the winner was considered the "world's
Negative evidence is easily uncovered by reading accounts of the first few World Series in the major newspapers of the era. The first several contests between the two league champions were reported under a variety of
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum concurs, a 1999 article noting of this claim that:
Auf Der Mar, Nick. "World Series Fever Offers No Relief from Agony of Stadium Envy." The [Montreal] Gazette. 30 October 1991 (p. A2). Dickey, Glenn. The History of the World Series Since 1903. New York: Stein and Day, 1984. Seymour, Harold. Baseball: The Early Years. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960. ISBN 0-19-505912-3. Sutherland, Norman. "Unhappy Start for Yankees." The [Glasgow] Herald. 20 March 1999 (p. 9). Thorn, John et al. Total Baseball. Kingston, NY: Total Sports Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-930844-01-8 (pp. 265-280). Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Q & A on the News." 29 October 1999 (p. A2).