The World Series as we know it began in 1903, when the Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 in a best-of-nine series. There were some postseason series before that, though.
From 1884-1890, the champions of the National League and American Association met for series of various lengths. Baseball-reference now has the stats from those series.
The earliest was the 1884 series between the Providence Grays and the New York Metropolitans, which was swept by Providence 3-0. Old Hoss Radbourn, fresh off a 59-12 regular season, pitched all three games for the Grays and didn’t allow a run in 22 innings. Fellow Hall of Famer Tim Keefe was on the losing side of two of those games. Jerry Denny of the Grays was the star hitter of the series, collecting the only homer.
There was also one more “Championship Series” in 1892, one year after the American Association folded. That featured the National League’s first- and second-half champions, with the Boston Beaneaters defeating the Cleveland Spiders 5-0-1. Three Hall of Famers pitched in that one, with Kid Nichols going 2-0 for Boston and Cy Young and John Clarkson both losing twice for Cleveland. Hugh Duffy, the Hall of Fame outfielder, hit .462 and drove in nine runs for the Beaneaters.
It’s worth looking at the rest if you have some time to kill.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.