The regular-season rules of Major League Baseball are all in effect for all games contested during the World Series. However, there is one important exception--the designated hitter rule. How the DH rule was to be applied took some doing to finally figure out. The rules that govern home field and the actual format of the Series have also been tweaked over the years.
Before the advent of the designated hitter in 1973, which only the American League adopted, there was no problem at all when the two teams from different leagues met in the World Series. The rules of the game were the same for both leagues. However, in 1973, the American League's use of a batter hitting in the place of the pitcher caused some problems, since the National League had adamantly refused to use the DH.
At first, the designated hitter was abolished for World Series play to appease the National League. This changed in 1976 when the designated hitter was allowed in even-numbered years--Dan Driessen of the Cincinnati Reds became the first DH for a National League team. The World Series continued having a designated hitter in every game in an even-numbered year until 1986.
In 1986, the decision was made to allow the DH, but only in the home park of the American League contestant. No designated hitter would be used in the National League park. This rule eventually became part of interleague play and also stands for the All-Star Game, which rotates from National to American League venues each year. Rule 6.10 in the MLB rulebook states now that the designated hitter will be used in the World Series according to the rules of the league the home team belongs to.
The home team in the World Series used to be determined simply be alternating each year between the leagues. This was changed in 2003, after a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game made the Commissioner's Office want to attach more importance to the game. The home field for the Series now goes to the league that wins the All-Star Game. The first two games are played in the All-Star Game winning league's park, with the next three in the loser's. The final two, if necessary, go back to the winner's stadium.
The first World Series, played in 1903 between the Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates, was a best five-out-of-nine affair. This became a best of seven series for all those thereafter until 1919, when baseball changed back to a five-of-nine format once more. This lasted for three seasons, but was finally scrapped for good in 1922, with all subsequent World Series being a best of seven.
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