The first ever World Series was played between the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903. The format of the series was a best-of-nine – two more games than the current format of best-of-seven. The Pittsburgh Pirates started the 1903 World Series strong, with pitcher Deacon Phillippe helping the Pirates to a commanding 3-1 series lead by game 4. However, Phillippe’s arm became sore after the first four games (he started and finished every game he threw), and he could not out-throw Cy Young to close the series for the Pirates. The Boston Americans fought back and won the series on four straight wins in game 8.
In 1904, owner John T. Brush of the New York Giants refused to allow his team to play in the 1904 World Series. Therefore, the series was not played. Brush cited inconsistent standards for postseason play, and proposed a set of rules that would later be called the “Brush Rules.” He suggested that players’ shares of the gate receipts should come from the first four games to prevent teams from “fixing” early games to prolong the series and receive more money. Also, the National Commission would be the body responsible for governing the World Series, not the clubs themselves. These rules did not thwart the 1919 World Series “fix” however, and the Chicago Black Sox threw the World Series that year in a deal with gamblers to receive gambling profits. As a result, baseball’s first Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was instated in 1919 to protect the game’s integrity. Eight players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, were expelled from the game on a permanent basis due to their involvement in fixing the 1919 series.
The only other year a World Series was not played was after the 1994 regular season. This was due to an ongoing player strike that ended the season abruptly, a month before the Series was to be played. Critics of the strike cited several examples of other seasons during which the World Series was played despite tribulation, including two World Wars, the Great Depression and an earthquake in 1989.
In 2003, the rules allowed that the league winner of the All-Star Game would have home field advantage in the opening of the World Series. The format for home-field rotation during the series – as declared by Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets – is 2-3-2 format. The All-Star game winner plays the first two games at home, and the opposing team takes the next three in the rotation at their field. If there are more than five games played, the final two games are played at the initial venue.