Weather’s impact on the World Series in recent history
Guest post by Paul Dorian
The World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros began on Tuesday night in Houston, Texas, but weather was not a factor. The Astros stadium known as Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof and it was closed last night for Game 1 which was won by the Nationals with a 5-4 score. The World Series will shift to Washington, D.C. on Friday night for Game 3 and then Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) are scheduled for Saturday night and Sunday night respectively. From this vantage point, it appears the weather will be decent for Game 3 on Friday night with cool and dry conditions, but then rain could become a factor this weekend for Games 4 and/or 5. It does not appear that any of these three scheduled games in Washington, D.C. will be played under truly cold conditions as any significant cold air outbreak for the Mid-Atlantic region should hold off until later next week – perhaps in time for Halloween Day. Weather has indeed had a big impact on some World Series games in recent history in terms of both cold and precipitation.
Notable World Series where weather played an important role
1997 Cleveland Indians vs Florida Marlins; 1979 Baltimore Orioles vs Pittsburgh Pirates
In terms of the coldest World Series games ever – and the records are sketchy pre-1970’s as Major League Baseball did not track weather records – the most memorable game was probably Game 4 of the 1997 World Series in Cleveland, Ohio between the Indians and the Florida (now Miami) Marlins. The first two games of that World Series were played in Miami, Florida where temperatures were in the high 80’s. The games then shifted to Cleveland for Games 3, 4 and 5 and the weather was dramatically different than in Florida. Indeed, the first-pitch temperature for Game 4 on October 22nd, 1997 was 38 degrees along with a wind chill in the teens. Snow flurries fell throughout the game and ice patches actually formed on the infield. The Florida Marlins eventually won the 1997 World Series with an extra-inning Game 7 victory played in balmy Miami, Florida.
The second coldest game in recent history was the first game of the 1979 World Series in Baltimore, Maryland between the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates on October 10th, 1979 with first-pitch temperatures right around the 40 degree mark along with a steady, chilly rainfall which no doubt factored into the six total errors, three committed by each team. In fact, Game 1 was originally scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th, but was postponed due to a wintry mix of rain and snow. Back in those days, the World Series began earlier in the month of October compared to today, but that didn’t prevent very cold weather from impacting the beginning of this particular series. The Pirates ended up winning the 1979 World Series in 7 games by winning three games in a row after trailing in the series by three games to one.
2017 Houston Astros vs Los Angeles Dodgers
One final note, the hottest World Series game of recent history took place just a couple of years ago in 2017. In that World Series, Game 1 between the Houston Astros and LA Dodgers had a game-time temperature of 103 degrees played in LA’s Dodgers Stadium. While the Dodgers won the first game of the 2017 World Series, Houston ended up winning the championship in seven games.
2008 Philadelphia Phillies vs Tampa Bay Rays
Perhaps the most memorable World Series game in recent history with respect to overall weather conditions was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. That game began on October 27th in 2008 with 50 degree temperatures and rain falling and it was suspended in the 6th inning as the rain simply became too heavy to continue play – the only World Series game ever suspended. The game could not be resumed on the next day as a powerful early season nor’easter continued to pound away on the Philadelphia metro region with a cold, steady rain and even several inches of snow fell in nearby Bucks County in southeastern Pennsylvania. Finally, two days after the game began, Game 5 resumed on a cold night in Philly with first-pitch temperatures at 44 degrees along with a gusty northwest wind and the Phillies went on to clinch their second World Series title ever.
Rain threat this weekend in Washington, D.C.
Low pressure is likely to develop over the Lower Mississippi River Valley on Saturday and then track northeastward into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes later in the weekend. This low will bring a warm frontal system into the Mid-Atlantic region late Saturday and then a cold front on Sunday. The setup is likely to result in some rainfall from later Saturday into at least part of the day on Sunday and it could be a nuisance to deal with for Games 4 on Saturday night and/or Game 5 on Sunday night. The best case scenario and one that is feasible is that the rain from the warm front pushes to the north and west of D.C. by the time Game 4 begins on Saturday night and that the cold front sweeps through the metro region before Game 5 on Sunday night (to be played if necessary).
World Series history in Washington, D.C.
The last time a World Series was played in Washington, D.C. was in 1933 when the Washington Senators of the American League played the New York Giants of the National League. The Giants won the Series in 5 games behind pitching ace and future Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell. The Senators were the surprise team of 1933, breaking a seven-year monopoly on the AL title jointly held by the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics from 1926 to 1932.
Prior to 1933, the Washington Senators made it to the World Series in 1924 and beat the same New York Giants in 7 games. The Washington Senators championship team of 1924 was led on offense by future Hall of Famers Goose Goslin and Sam Rice and in the pitching department by an aging Walter Johnson – also a future Hall of Famer and considered one of the best pitchers of all-time. The 1924 championship was the only World Series triumph for the Senators franchise during their 60-year tenure in Washington and it didn’t come easily and perhaps required some divine intervention.
In Game 7, the Senators trailed the Giants 3-1 in the eighth inning when Bucky Harris hit a routine ground ball to third which hit a pebble and took a bad hop over Giants third baseman Freddie Lindstrom. Two runners scored on the play tying the score at three. In the ninth inning with the game tied, 3–3, Harris brought in the aging Walter Johnson to pitch on just one day of rest – he had been the losing pitcher in Game 5. Johnson held the Giants scoreless into extra innings. In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Muddy Ruel hit a high foul ball near home plate. The Giants’ catcher, Hank Gowdy, dropped his protective face mask to field the ball but, failing to toss the mask aside, stumbled over it and dropped the ball, thus giving Ruel another chance to bat. On the next pitch Ruel hit a double and, then proceeded to score the winning run when Earl McNeely hit a ground ball that took another bad hop over Lindstrom’s head. (Credit Wikipedia).
Meteorologist Paul Dorian