Years ending in 5 have history of excitement on diamond
By Mark Newman
Get ready, because years ending in a 5 have been especially significant in baseball. The last three have brought long-awaited breakthroughs to Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City. Dem Bums and the Tigers finally did it. Carlton Fisk waved it fair. Cal Ripken Jr. broke an unbreakable record. Christy Mathewson and Sandy Koufax threw big shutouts, Cy Young invented the changeup and it was the beginning and the end for Babe Ruth.
With 2015 upon us, let's take a decade-by-decade look back:
In a city with two monumental World Series championship droughts, a parade finally comes to Chicago. It happens on the South Side, as Mark Buehrle, Series MVP Jermaine Dye and the White Sox sweep Houston to win it all for the first time in 88 years.
Atlanta went to five World Series in the '90s, and this marks the city's lone pro sports title to date. The Braves are led by a rookie named Chipper Jones, and they clinch against Cleveland in six as David Justice's homer provides the only scoring behind Series MVP Tom Glavine in Game 6. Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played, and keeps going until 2,632.
The 2014 Royals just missed in their bid to remove this club's distinction as the only World Series champions in franchise history. The '85 Royals beat the Cardinals in seven during the I-70 Series, probably remembered as much for a controversial call at first base in Game 6 as Kansas City's title.
There is no breakthrough this year, much to Red Sox fans' chagrin, as Cincinnati's Big Red Machine wins its first of back-to-back titles. Yet this series is remembered mainly for what happens in Game 6, as Fisk waves a homer fair at Fenway Park on one magical night.
The home team wins every game of the World Series ... until Game 7. That's when the great Koufax takes over, hurling a three-hit shutout for the Dodgers in a 2-0 win at Minnesota. The start of the season is just as majestic as the finish, as the Astrodome opens in Houston on April 9.
This is the breakthrough of the Golden Age in baseball, as "Dem Bums" finally beat the Yankees and win the first Brooklyn Dodgers crown. It is an era when at least one, if not both, World Series participants hail from New York, and the Dodgers had lost to the Yankees in '41, '47, '49, '52 and '53. Johnny Podres throws two complete games, including the Game 7 clincher.
It is the last time the Cubs so much as appear in a World Series, and they lose this one in seven to Detroit. While the world had changed greatly in the past 10 years -- this is the last wartime Series -- not much has changed on the field because ...
The Tigers beat the Cubs, starting a trend in years ending in 5. It is a breakthrough for Detroit, which had lost the World Series three straight years (1907-09) in the Ty Cobb era. Ruth is released by the Yankees, signs on with the Boston Braves, clubs his last three homers on May 25 and leaves baseball five days later.
Just when it looked like Walter Johnson would win his third game of the World Series and give the Washington Senators a repeat title, Pittsburgh rallies for two runs off him in the seventh and three more in the eighth, stealing the championship. It also is the year of Ruth's "stomach ache," meaning only 25 homers in 98 games.
Speaking of The Bambino, this marks the postseason debut for the young Boston Americans pitcher. He makes just one appearance, as a pinch-hitter in Game 1. Boston beats the Phillies in five.
Notable for the New York Giants agreeing to play the American League champion after refusing to do so a year earlier ... and for Mathewson's three shutouts to win the World Series for them. It remains one of the classic individual performances in postseason history.
A Babe is born -- Ruth, on Feb. 2. Young goes 35-10 for his best winning percentage (.778) while also adding a "slowball" (today's "changeup") to reduce stress on his arm. Young wins three games for the Cleveland Spiders against the Baltimore Orioles as they take the five-game Temple Cup, a precursor to the World Series.
The Giants' John Montgomery Ward, freshly graduated from Columbia Law School, joins with several teammates to form the Brotherhood of Professional Base-ball Players. It is the first union in professional sports history. The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York aboard the French ship ISERE.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.