The Subway Series is a series of Major League Baseball games played between teams based in New York City.
The term's historic usage has been in reference to World Series games played between New York teams, but since 1997 it has also been applied to interleague play during the regular season between the American League New York Yankees and National League New York Mets. Play during the regular baseball season between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, both of the National League, from their origins in the 1880s until both left the city after 1957 was not called a Subway Series. The Yankees have appeared in all modern Subway Series games as they have been the only American League team in the city. The Yankees have compiled an 11-3 mark in the fourteen modern Subway Series.
In the nineteenth century, a "world series" was occasionally held between the champions of the National League and the then-major league American Association. In 1889, such a series took place between the N.L. Champion New York Giants and the A.A. Champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms or "Trolley Dodgers." In that series, the Giants easily defeated the team from Brooklyn. The following season, however, Brooklyn withdrew from the American Association and joined the National League.
Subway Series matches in the World Series
The all-New York match-ups in World Series play have to-date been the following:
- 1889 - New York Giants (NL) defeat Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers (AA), 6 games to 3.
- 1921 - New York Giants defeat New York Yankees, 5-3.
- 1922 - New York Giants defeat New York Yankees, 4-0. (One tie)
- 1923 - New York Yankees defeat New York Giants, 4-2.
- 1936 - New York Yankees defeat New York Giants, 4-2.
- 1937 - New York Yankees defeat New York Giants, 4-1.
- 1941 - New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-1.
- 1947 - New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-3.
- 1949 - New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-1.
- 1951 - New York Yankees defeat New York Giants, 4-2.
- 1952 - New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-3.
- 1953 - New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-1.
- 1955 - Brooklyn Dodgers defeat New York Yankees, 4-3.
- 1956 - New York Yankees defeat Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-3.
- 2000 - New York Yankees defeat New York Mets, 4-1.
(Note: The 1921 World Series used a best-of-nine format.)
Historical Subway Series
By the 1920s, the New York City Subway had become an important form of public transport in the city and provided a convenient form of travel between the three city ballparks: the Polo Grounds, in upper Manhattan; Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx; and Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
Although organized games between all-stars from New York teams against all-stars from Brooklyn teams date back to the 1850s, the first actual New York - Brooklyn "World Championship Series" occurred in 1889, a full nine years before Brooklyn was incorporated into the City of New York by the Greater New York Act of 1898, when the New York Giants squared off against the Brooklyn team of the American Association. Some might argue that the 1889 series would qualify as a "Trolley Series" (being the inspiration for the Dodgers' nickname), but would not qualify as a Subway Series at all, as the first section of New York's subway did not open until 1904.
In the case of the World Series contests listed, the entire Series could be attended by using the subway. The date of the first usage of the term "Subway Series" is uncertain. The term "Nickel Series" (a nickel was the old subway fare) appeared in newspapers by 1927, and "Subway Series" appeared by 1928 . "Subway Series" was clearly already a familiar concept by 1934, as discussed in this article  about that year's All-Star Game to be held in New York, discussing the "subway series" possibility for the Giants and Yankees. (Ultimately, no New York team made it to the 1934 post-season.)
The 1921 and 1922 match-ups were in fact played in a single ballpark, as both the Giants and Yankees then played at the Polo Grounds. The venues for the 1923, 1936 and 1937 World Series, the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium, were a short walk apart across a bridge over the Harlem River. Of course, anyone in the city not living in that vicinity could have opted for the subway system.
The term was used again in 1941 when the Dodgers made their first World Series appearance since 1920. The seven matchups between the Yankees and the Dodgers between 1941 and 1956 cemented the term as being mostly associated with the New York vs. Brooklyn contests.
In addition to the five World Series played between the Yankees and Giants prior to 1940, the two teams also played exhibition series against each other from time to time. The match-ups were known as the "City Series" and were sometimes played in October while other teams played in the World Series. However, after 1940, this became difficult because the Yankees would routinely appear in the World Series. In the seventeen year span 1941 through 1957 (after which the Giants and Dodgers left New York City for California), the Yankees appeared in the World Series twelve times, failing to reach the Series only in 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948 and 1954.
Prior to the abandonment of New York by the city's two National League teams, the Yankees and Dodgers played an annual midseason exhibition game called the Mayor's Trophy Game to benefit sandlot baseball in New York City, with the proceeds raised by the Yankees going to leagues in Manhattan and the Bronx while proceeds raised by the Dodgers going to leagues on Long Island and Staten Island. The annual charity event was discontinued following the 1957 season when the Yankees became the only major league team in the city, but it was revived in 1962 when the National League returned to New York with the expansion New York Mets. After dwinding interest and public bickering between the owners of both teams, the Mayor's Trophy Game was discontinued in the late 1970s.
Modern Interleague Subway Series
When interleague play was established in 1997, the New York Yankees and New York Mets met for the first time in franchise history. NOTE: From 1999 on, the series was formatted as a three game series in each stadium.
- 1997: Yankees two out of three (June 16th-18th at Yankee Stadium)
- 1998: Yankees two out of three (June 27th-28th at Shea Stadium)
- 1999: both teams win two out of three at home (June 4th-6th, July 9th-11th)
- 2000: Yankees four out of six (June 9th-10th, July 7th-9th)
- 2001: Yankees win two out of three in both series (June 15th-17th, July 6th-8th)
- 2002: both teams win two out of three at home (June 14th-16th, June 28th-30th)
- 2003: Yankees win all six games (June 20th, 22nd, 27th-29th)
- 2004: Yankees win two of three at the Stadium, Mets sweep series at Shea (June 26th-27th, July 2nd-4th)
- 2005: both teams win two out of three on the road (May 20th-22nd, June 24th-26th)
- 2006: both teams win two out of three at home (May 19th-21st, June 30th-July 2nd)
Yankees lead 32 games to 22 over Mets.
The name "Subway Series" was commonly applied to the 2000 World Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. Though the Yankees won four games to one and celebrated their 26th championship in front of Mets fans at Shea, the Yankees outscored the Mets by only three runs, and the score of every game was decided by two runs or less.
To take the subway from Shea Stadium to Yankee Stadium, one would board the 7 train at Willets Point-Shea Stadium in the direction of Manhattan, transfer at Grand Central Station-42nd Street to a northbound 4 train, and disembark at 161st St-Yankee Stadium. Alternatively, one could stay on the 7 train one more stop until Fifth Avenue and transfer there to a northbound D train, which also makes a stop at 161st St-Yankee Stadium. More recently, play between the Yankees and Mets at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in Queens has sometimes been wittily referred to as the Triborough Bridge Series, as that bridge provides the fastest route between the two ballparks.
During the 2000 World Series, the City of New York actually decorated some of the trains that ran on the 7 line (which goes to Shea Stadium in Queens, home of the Mets) and on the 4 line (which goes to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, home of the Yankees). The 7 trains were blue and orange and featured the Mets version of the "NY" logo, and the 4 trains were white with blue pinstripes and featured the Yankees version of the "NY" logo. Also, after each game in the series the city offered free subway rides home for attendees of the game. Yankee fans displayed signs that read "Yankees in 4 and not in 7", predicting that the Yankees would easily dispatch the Mets in a Series sweep as opposed to a difficult, full-length Series. The signs had the 4 in a green cirle designating the number 4 train and the 7 in a purple circle designating the number 7 train.
Currently, there are four other metropolitan areas which have multiple teams. Los Angeles, California has the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (who are actually based in nearby Orange County, California); the Baltimore-Washington region has the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals; the Bay Area has the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics; and Chicago has the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs. Of these, only Chicago and the Bay Area have seen both their teams in the World Series in the same year. In 1906, the Cubs, who had won a record 116 games against only 36 losses, by far the best winning percentage in any baseball season, lost the Series to the White Sox. In 1989, the Athletics defeated the Giants in the Series in the aftermath of an earthquake.
St. Louis had two teams until the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Orioles. The Browns and Cardinals met in the 1944 World Series with the Cardinals emerging victorious. Boston was not as fortunate: the Red Sox never played a World Series against the old Boston Braves, although they came within a single playoff game of realizing it in 1948, and lost that playoff to the Cleveland Indians, who went on to defeat the Braves. The Braves then moved to Milwaukee before ending up in Atlanta. Likewise, Philadelphia's two teams, the Athletics and the Phillies, never met in the Series. Curiously, the four teams in Boston and Philadelphia were all strong in the early 1910s, with the Red Sox and Athletics representing the American League exclusively from 1910 through 1916. The Braves defeated the Athletics in the 1914 World Series and the Red Sox defeated the Phillies in the 1915 World Series, however, there was no intra-city combination.
The Browns-Cardinals matchup was known in some circles as the "Trolley Series", and all the games were played in the teams' shared arena, Sportsman's Park. Similarly, the 1989 Series between the Oakland and San Francisco franchises was called the "Bay Series" or "BART Series", the latter standing for both the Bay Area Rapid Transit which connects the two cities, and in honor of the recently-deceased Baseball Commissioner, Bart Giamatti. It technically could be called a "Subway Series" because of the BART, but that term was used little if at all (unfortunately, due to events during game 3, the series came to be referred to by many as the Earthquake Series). If the Cubs and the White Sox ever again face each other in the World Series, it could be labeled "The 'L' Series", although that term has not been especially used in the intra-city interleague series.