CHICAGO -- It should come as no surprise, but Commissioner Bud Selig is bullish about the White Sox-Astros World Series, the first such matchup between the clubs in Major League Baseball history.
The last time the White Sox were in the World Series, Ike was president and the U.S. hadn't put a man in space. The last time the Astros were in the World Series was, ah, never.
"As I was coming into the ballpark, I heard one fan say: 'I never thought I'd see this day,'" Selig said to a small group of reporters at U.S. Cellular Field just before the start of Saturday night's Game 1. "I grew up 90 miles from here. I can understand his sentiments completely."
Selig was born, raised and still hails from Milwaukee, Chicago's sister city 90 miles north and also on the banks of Lake Michigan. He was instrumental in bringing MLB back to Milwaukee after the Braves moved to Atlanta in time for the 1966 season.
Selig lured the White Sox to old County Stadium for single games in 1967 and 1968. He almost purchased the team from John Allen and moved it to Milwaukee.
"We came close," he said. "I can tell you this: If it had happened, my life would've been totally different. We got the Seattle Pilots instead."
Selig headed a group of local businessmen that purchased the moribund Pilots after a Seattle bankruptcy court gave them permission to leave for Milwaukee, where they were rechristened the Brewers only days before the start of the 1970 season. Selig became acting Commissioner in 1992 and his family continued to own and operate the Brewers until it was sold to Mark Attanascio earlier this year.
The Brewers went to the World Series once, in 1982, when they lost to the Cardinals in seven games. The Braves beat the Yankees for the World Series title in 1957 and lost to the Yankees in 1958. The White Sox lost to the Dodgers in 1959. And the Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945, when they lost to the Tigers.
Selig said the Astros-White Sox matchup is "a manifestation of our new [playoff] system."
In 1994, MLB went to a three-division format with a Wild Card berth in both leagues. This season, the White Sox won the American League Central with a 99-63, the best record in the AL, and would've won the pennant even under the system that was in place in 1959, when the first-place teams from both leagues battled in the World Series.
But the Astros, who won 89 games and the National League Wild Card berth for the second consecutive season, finished 11 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central and wouldn't have made the playoffs in either of the two pre-1994 formats.
"We have two news teams -- one that hasn't won a World Series in 88 years and the other that's never been in one," Selig said. "And that's a good thing."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.