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Ballpark history in the making: the 2020 World Series

Sportsman's Park

Tonight’s 2020 World Series game at Globe Life Field will be historic: it will be only the fourth Fall Classic where every game was played at the same ballpark—and the first played totally at a neutral site.

Pretty much nothing has worked out at Globe Life Field this season as originally planned: the 2020 season was postponed before the Texas Rangers could play an exhibition or regular-season match before a full house, and when play resumed, capacity was limited, and the Rangers were never really a factor on the field. Still, with Texas more liberal than most states when it came to capacity for outdoor events, Globe Life Field was a natural to host league championship and World Series games. So we have this year’s Tampa Bay Rays/Los Angeles Dodgers matchup.

That matchup means we have for the first time since 1944—and the fourth overall—that a single site is hosting every World Series game. In 1944 we had some unusual circumstances, with NL champions St. Louis Cardinals and AL champions St. Louis Browns facing off at their shared home ballpark, Sportsman’s Park. The Browns owned Sportsman’s Park and were a slightly better draw than the Cardinals, a situation that would change in coming years after the Cardinals were eventually sold to Gussie Busch in 1953. The Busch purchase of both the Cardinals and Sportsman’s Park led Browns owner Bill Veeck to sell the team to Baltimore interests after his own attempts to move the team were denied by fellow owners.

But before all this happened, the Browns and the Cardinals faced off in an all-Sportsman’s Park World Series. The Cardinals recorded a great 1944 season, winning 105 games behind league MVP Marty Marion, 1943 MVP Stan Musial and a solid pitching staff. The Browns won only 89 games, just a game in front of the Detroit Tigers, and were led by shortstop Vern Stephens. Very few big names were on MLB rosters. Remember, this was life during wartime, and many of the leading MLB players were serving their country during World War II. The Browns were not exactly a juggernaut; this would be the only World Series for the team in St. Louis.

In the end, the Cardinals and their superior roster prevailed over the Browns in six games, led by that solid pitching staff.

The 1921 and 1922 World Series at the Polo Grounds were a little less dramatic, as the New York Giants and the New York Yankees squared off twice before the Yanks moved across the river to Yankee Stadium. With the Yankees ending their time as a Giants tenant in the Polo Grounds, all games were played at that storied Manhattan venue. In 1921, the Giants prevailed with five wins in a best-of-nine series over a Yankees team crippled by a Babe Ruth injury. In 1922, the Giants swept the Yankees in four in John McGraw’s final World Series win.

There’s one other way the 2020 World Series could be historic: if the Rays win, Tampa Bay will be removed from the Infamous Six list of MLB teams never winning a title. That would leave five teams never to win a World Series: Seattle, Milwaukee, Colorado, San Diego and Texas.

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