Selig was referring to the Giants' sweep of the Indians in 1954, when New York and the Polo Grounds were still called home. Like this year, the Giants went into that postseason as decided underdogs against a Cleveland team that won 111 games.
Game 1 at the Polo Grounds -- the one in which Willie Mays made his famous over-the-head catch fading toward the right-center-field bleachers off a drive by Vic Wertz -- was won when Rhodes hit a three-run, pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the 10th. In Game 2, Rhodes hit another pinch-hit shot that helped decide the game.
The little-known Rhodes had the two homers and seven RBIs in the short Series.
"I'm a student of history," Selig said. "Those who know me well know that events like these mean a lot to me. I congratulate the Rangers, as well, for having a wonderful and successful year."
Selig was still beaming about the Giants-Rangers matchup as Texas ascended to the World Series for the first time. Two of the three games had the top attendance in the 16-year-old ballpark. The Giants hadn't played in the World Series since 2002, when they lost in seven games to the Angels. It was their fourth World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958 and 18th overall in the history of the franchise.
"When you think of everything that's happened this year, particularly with the economy, I couldn't be more grateful," Selig said. "It's been a great year. And in the past few days, people have really grasped on to the kind of extraordinary competitive balance we have. It's never been so good. I've known it for some time, but people are really realizing it now. It's been a great season."
Since the Yankees won their third consecutive title in 2000, no team has repeated as champion. Nine teams have won the last 10 championships with only the Red Sox winning twice in 2004 and '07.
Like the Rangers, in recent years the Rays (2008), Rockies (2007), Astros (2005), Angels (2002) and D-backs (2001) also made their maiden voyages into the Fall Classic.
"We've never had competitive balance like this. This is the best," Selig said. "If our job is to provide hope and faith to as many fans as possible, this has been an extraordinary period -- a terrific season, a wonderful year."