Why Is the World Series Called the World Series If Only American Teams Play?

World Series of Baseball

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Major League Baseball is the professional baseball organization in the USA and is made up of two leagues, the American League and the National League. The World Series is the annual championship played between the winner of each league.

The American League

Before we go into any great detail about the origin of the title 'World Series', we’ll first look at the different baseball leagues within the United States to get a better understanding of how their system works. The American League is comprised of three divisions, each representing a different geographical area:

The American League West is made up of:

  • Houston Astros
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • Oakland Athletics
  • Texas Rangers
  • Seattle Mariners

The American League Central is made up of:

  • Chicago White Sox
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Cleveland Indians

The American League East is made up of:

  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox
  • New York Yankees
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Tampa Bay Rays

The National League

Like the American League, the National League comprises of three divisions, each representing a different geographical area:

The National League West is made up of:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Colorado Rockies
  • San Francisco Giants
  • San DIego Padres
  • Los Angeles Dodgers

The National League Central is made up of:

  • Cincinnati Reds
  • St Louis Cardinals
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Chicago Cubs

The National League East is made up of:

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Cincinnati Red Stockings
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Washington Nationals
  • New York Mets
  • Miami Marlins

As you can see, both teams contain only teams from the USA (and one from Canada), so why is it called the 'World' Series and where does this name come from?

The Origin of the Name 'the World Series'

For many years, it was believed that the name came from the fact that the original series was sponsored by the New York World Telegram newspaper, thus becoming known as the ‘World’s Series’. However, popular as this explanation may be, it’s not actually true and although the newspaper did report the results of the games, it had nothing to do with the naming of the competition.

The real reason behind the name is thanks to Barney Dreyfuss who was the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1903, he wrote to the owner of the Boston Red Sox challenging them to a ‘World’s Championship Series’. The Pirates were the best team in the National League and the Red Sox were the best in the American League.

The games went ahead and Boston won the series five games to three. Over time, the 'World’s Championship Series' name has been shortened to the World Series and has been played every year apart from 1904 and 1994.

Are the Winners of the World Series the World Champions of Baseball?

Many Americans consider the World Series as being the world championship of baseball. They base this on the fact that generally the world’s best baseball players play in Major League baseball. This makes it the strongest league in the world consisting of players from over 20 countries.

However, the winners of the World Series aren’t in any way world champions as this title is reserved for the winners of the World Baseball Classic, which is an international tournament started in 2006. The winning teams of the competitions so far are as follows:

  • 2006 - Japan
  • 2009 - Japan
  • 2013 - Dominican Republic

The World Series may only be a North American event but there is no doubt that it is the world’s premier baseball event. Whilst it may not feature teams from across the globe, it does feature many international players. For these reasons, we can justify the World Series as its name.