A baseball “Subway Series” is when a New York National League team (such as the New York Mets, but also formerly the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants) plays the New York American League team (the New York Yankees) in the World Series. When the New York Giants played the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (they would be called the “Trolley Dodgers” in 1895) for the 1889 World Series, there was no subway. The New York City subway opened in 1904.
Some have dubbed the 1889 World Series the “Trolley Series.” This is a poor name, however, because the 1944 World Series between the St. Louis Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals is usually known as the “Trolley Series.”
Wikipedia: Subway Series
The Subway Series is a series of Major League Baseball (MLB) rivalry games played between teams based in New York City; every historic and current venue for such games has been accessible via the New York City Subway, hence the name of the series.
19th century Trolley Series
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 (and defeated) the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, also called the “Trolley Dodgers”, of the American Association. The following season, Brooklyn withdrew from the Association and joined the League, setting the stage for many future intra-city competitions.
Some might argue that the 1889 Series would qualify as a “Trolley Series”, but would not qualify as a Subway Series since New York’s subway did not open until 1904.
Wikipedia: 1889 World Series
The 1889 World Series was an end-of-the-year baseball playoff series between the National League champion New York Giants and the American Association champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms (later known as the Dodgers).
This Series was part of the pre-modern-era World Series, an annual competition between the champions of the National League and the American Association. The Giants won this best-of-11-games series, 6 games to 3. The 1889 Series was the first involving solely New York City area clubs, and was part of the continuum of a long-standing rivalry that developed between the clubs in New York, particularly the Giants and the Dodgers. Brooklyn was then a separate city from New York; Brooklyn (and the other three boroughs) would merge with New York City in 1898.
Despite this Series setback, the Brooklyn team would come back strong in 1890. The club transferred to the National League, and with the Giants suffering raids by the Players’ League, would win the league championship, the first major league club to win consecutive pennants in two different leagues.
Bleeding Yankee Blue
Sunday, May 22, 2011
HISTORY & TRADITION OF THE SUBWAY SERIES
Many New York baseball fans may be surprised to know that the “Subway Series” concept dates back to the 19th Century. The first “Subway Series” game was played in 1889 between perhaps the most heated and competitive rivalry in baseball history- The New York Giants and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (also called the “Trolley Dodgers”, and later known as the Brooklyn Dodgers). Some historians argue that it was actually a “Trolley Series”, because the actual opening of the New York subway system didn’t occur until 1904. Nonetheless, the game was played at the Polo Grounds and was won by the New York Giants, beginning a long history of rivalry and competition that makes New York the “baseball capital of the world”.
The Hardball Times
The Subway Series Prequel
MARCH 13, 2015 BY FRANK JACKSON
According to official baseball history, the first Subway Series was in 1921 when the Giants squared off against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. That is certainly true, but before the New York subway system was built, there was another crosstown postseason clash in 1889. In good conscience, you couldn’t call it a subway series because there were no subways in 1889, the year the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (n/k/a Dodgers) took on the New York Giants.
Cliff Blau said...
MARCH 14, 2015 AT 11:17 AM
You couldn’t fairly call it a crosstown series, either, since as you note, NY and Brooklyn were separate cities. You could call it a trolley series, though.
Old Baseball Photos
1944 World Series program, Browns vs Cardinals or what was known as the “Trolley Series” #StLouis
6:22 PM - 8 Apr 2016