As the late Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen might say: How about that?
A Brewers-Rangers matchup in the World Series would make rare history. Call it a fluke, a statistical oddity, a freak of nature, whatever you want. Call it strange, maybe even unbelievable. But since 1920, only once have two teams squared off in the Fall Classic, each one seeking a first World Championship.
The Brewers began as the Seattle Pilots in 1969, then moved to Milwaukee the following season and became the Brewers. The Brewers, aka Harvey’s Wallbangers, won the American League pennant in 1982 but lost a seven-game series to the Cardinals. They moved to the National League in 1998, but haven’t been back to the Series since 1982.
The Rangers began as the second rendition of the Washington Senators in 1961 (the original Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins). They moved to Texas in 1972, and made their first World Series appearance last year, losing in five games to the Giants.
The last matchup between teams seeking their first championship occurred 31 years ago, when the Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals in six games for the first title in the 97 year history of the franchise. The Phillies were led by Series MVP Mike Schmidt, who homered twice and batted .381, and left-hander Steve Carlton who won a pair of games, including the clincher.
Up to that point, the Phillies had played in two World Series — losing to the Red Sox in 1915 and being swept by the Yankees in 1950.
The Royals were playing in their first World Series after knocking off the Yankees in three straight, highlighted by George Brett’s game-winning, three-run homer against Goose Gossage in the clincher.
In 1920, the Cleveland Indians won their first World Series, beating the Brooklyn Dodgers, five games to two. Brooklyn had played in one previous Series, losing to the Red Sox in 1916.
The highlights of the 1920 World Series came in the fourth game, which the Indians won, 8-1. But that wasn’t the story. In that game, Cleveland’s second baseman, Bill Wambsganss pulled off the only unassisted triple play in post-season history. That same day, the Indians Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam ever in the World Series.
The third instance of two teams seeking their first World Championship occurred way back in 1909, when the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in seven games. The storyline that year was the matchup between Pittsburgh’s shortstop Hone Wagner and Detroit outfielder Ty Cobb. Wagner won that duel, batting .333 with six stolen bases, while Cobb managed to his just .231 with two steals.
In every other World Series played in the past 102 years, at least one of the combatants was a previous World Champion.