The date was October 27th and the situation was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series with the Phillies ahead of Tampa Bay 3 games to 1 and looking to wrap things up in their home stadium. Meanwhile, low pressure was intensifying along the Mid-Atlantic coast at the same time cold air was advancing towards the east coast from central Canada. A chilly rain actually began by the start of the game and it became so heavy by the bottom of the 6th inning that the game was suspended until weather conditions permitted. No way could the game be played on the next day as the cold rain continued and, in fact, enough cold air moved in to cause a changeover to snow in Bucks County where a few inches accumulated. By the next day, October 29th, the weather dried out enough for a resumption of action, but cold air was now firmly entrenched in the region and temperatures were in the 40’s with a strong northwest wind blowing for the remaining few innings of Game 5 when the Phillies wrapped up the championship.
While Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was indeed cold, the distinction for the official coldest World Series game (at least in recent history) goes to Game 4 of the 1997 Series between Cleveland and Florida. [MLB did not actually track weather records for the World Series until the 1970’s so it is certainly possible that there were colder games prior to this decade]. In Game 4 of the 1997 World Series there was a winter-chill with temperatures in the 30’s throughout the game, wind chills in the teens, and snow flurries that actually helped to cause some ice patches on the infield. Interestingly, the first two games of the 1997 World Series were played in Miami where temperatures were close to 90 degrees.
The weather has indeed played an important role in many World Series games; especially, in the last 40 years or so since the season has been extended to the end of October by additional playoff games. Back in the days when Bill Mazeroski hit a game winning home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the Fall Classic was played in early-to-mid October. Now these games easily extend to the end of October and, in some cases, to early November. As a result, cold weather can certainly come into play more often than in years past; especially, in the northern cities.
This year’s World Series begins on Wednesday night in St. Louis or San Francisco (depending on the winner of tonight’s Game 7). It is certain that Games 3, 4 and 5 will be played in a northern city, Detroit, Michigan, and cold weather could very well play a role. If the World Series does go the full 7 games, it would end on Thursday, November 1st (weather permitting of course).