Remember all the uproar from baseball purists who were distraught over the announcement that Major League Baseball would begin inter-league play in 1997?
Talk of sacred baseball records of players like Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio, Aaron, and Williams, players who only played games against teams in their own leagues until the World Series was played was debated furiously by baseball fans of all ages. You either loved the idea of the Mets and Yankees playing in an old school subway series, or you thought it appalling.
There were plenty of old school fans simply didn't want baseball to go the way of football, who's teams play a rotating schedule of regular season games, facing teams from both the AFC and the NFC,or basketball, and hockey, who's teams play one another every year.
Well baseball fans gave a raising, thunderous applause to baseball and inter-league play fourteen years ago, as over 7 million fans went through big league turnstiles that summer of 1997, and in 13 years of inter-league baseball, over 160,000 million baseball fans have watched games between the American and National league games, including a record 8.9 million fans in 2008.
As a Detroit Tiger fan I thought the idea of inter-league play was great, after all, why should I have to sit through another Tigers-Rangers, or Tigers-Mariners series, bring on the Braves, the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Mets, the Dodgers.
Give me the Tigers traveling to Busch Stadium, site of their great comeback victory over the Cardinals to win the 1968 World Series, or the pure baseball fan excitement of watching the historical National League teams come and play at famed Tiger Stadium, where only the Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and Padres had entered, during world Series play.
The Tigers were not very good in the mid 1990's when inter-league games began, in fact, they were in the midst of 13 straight losing seasons, from 1993-2005, but since 1997, the Tigers actually play well in inter-league play, bringing a 123-106 record as they travel this weekend to visit Chavez Ravine and the L.A. Dodgers.
As Tiger fans, and fans of all American League teams will proudly tell you, the Junior Circuit has the edge in victories over the Senior Circuit in inter-league play, winning 9 of the 13 years the two leagues have squared off, including the past six years, with the A.L. winning 1,673 games to the N.L.'s 1,534 wins. Only one A.L. team has won fewer than 100 games, the Baltimore Orioles, who have 99 victories since 1997. On the N.L. side, nine teams have fewer than 100 wins during the annual get together, with the Pirates, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Rockies, Dodgers, Phillies, and Padres all under 100 wins.
The team with the most inter-league wins.?
The World Champion New York Yankees, who have won 133 games, followed by the Minnesota Twins at 132. The Florida Marlins have won the most games for the N.L., winning 120 games against the A.L.
The team with the fewest wins.?
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who are 71-110 in inter-league play.
So sit back and enjoy this first weekend of the A.L. and N.L. battling it out, and if your in a big league city, please, attend a game, you never know what will happen...just ask David Cone, who threw a perfect game against the Montreal Expos at Yankee Stadium on July 18th, 1999, on Don Larsen Day.