A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 05, 2004
Subway Series (Subway World Series)
When the New York Yankees play the New York Giants, or the Brooklyn Dodgers, or now the New York Mets in a baseball World Series, it's called a "Subway Series."

The first three Giants-Yankees matchups were in 1921, 1922, and 1923. However, in 1921 an 1922, the teams played in the same stadium at the Polo Grounds. The series was nicknamed the "Battle of Coogan's Bluff." The 1923 matchup was called an "all-New York World Series."

"Subway Series" was used at the 1934 all-star game that featured many Giant and Yankee players. However, the New York teams did not both make it to the World Series that year. The first "Subway Series" was actually the fourth, in 1936.

"The Brooklyns wouldn't be ahead of the Giants in the Subway series had they played much of the inept and wooden game they played yesterday" was printed in the New York (NY) Herald on September 11, 1921. This was a National League series -- not a World Series with an American League opponent (New York Yankees). "Had the Giants come through in the National, interest in the series would be great only in the East where 'Subway Series' between the two Manhattan teams are convenient, if nothing else" was printed in the St. Louis (MO) Star on October 3, 1927. "This just about ruins the chances of a subway series that many had figured on in New York" was printed in the Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette on September 3, 1928. "Scribes with the Giants began to talk of a 'Subway World Series'" was printed in the St. Louis (MO) Star on September 3, 1928.

The subway fare used to be a nickel from 1904 to 1948. "And if they do so, what Bill Corum calls a 'five cent world series' may come to pass" was printed in the El Paso (TX) Herald, on August 11, 1927. Bill Corum (1895-1958) was a sportswriter for the New York (NY) Evening Journal. "'Nickel Series.' Most New Yorkers would rather have all the games of the 1927 world series within a nickel's ride of their homes" was printed in the Atlanta (GA) Constitution on August 14, 1927. "Speculation over another 'nickel world series' concerns not whether the Giants will be able to beat the Cardinals but whether the Yankees will be able to stave off the Athletics" was printed in the Evansville (IL) Press on August 9, 1928. "The New York sportswriters wanted a five-cent series and they are getting it" was printed in the Denver (CO) Post on October 8, 1928.

Since 1997, the term "Subway Series" has also applied to interleague play by the New York Yankees and New York Mets during the regular season. However, the blog Uncle Mike's Musings: A Yankees Blog and More insists that "Subway Series" is strictly for a World Series, and that interleague play during the regular season is a "City Series."

When the New York Giants played the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (they would be called the "Trolley Dodgers" in 1895) for the 1889 World Series, there was no subway. The New York City subway opened in 1904. Some have dubbed the 1889 World Series the "Trolley Series." This is a confusing name, however, because the 1944 World Series between the St. Louis Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals is usually known as the "Trolley Series."


Wikipedia: Subway Series
The Subway Series is a series of Major League Baseball (MLB) rivalry games played between teams based in New York City; every historic and current venue for such games has been accessible via the New York City Subway, hence the name of the series.

The term's historic usage has been in reference to World Series games played exclusively between the city's teams. The New York Yankees have appeared in all Subway Series games as they have been the only American League (AL) team based in the city, and have compiled an 11–3 all-time series record in the 14 championship Subway Series.

Since 1997, the term Subway Series has been applied to interleague play during the regular season between the Yankees and New York City's National League (NL) team: the New York Mets. The Mets and Yankees also played each other in the 2000 World Series.

Chronicling America
11 September 1921, New York (NY) Herald, "First Inning Rally Gives Close Game to Giants" by William B. Hanna, sec. 4, pg. 1, col. 7:
The Brooklyns wouldn't be ahead of the Giants in the Subway series had they played much of the inept and wooden game they played yesterday.

11 August 1927, El Paso (TX) Herald, "Gotham Hopes at Stake as Giants Play at Home" by Frank Getty (UP), pg. 7, col. 1:
And if they do so, what Bill Corum calls a "five cent world series" may come to pass.

14 August 1927, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, "Hornsby Puts His Team Up With Leaders" by Frank Getty, pg. B3, col. 6:
"Nickel Series."
Most New Yorkers would rather have all the games of the 1927 world series within a nickel's ride of their homes.

3 October 1927, St. Louis (MO) Star, "Gould's Gossip," pg. 18, col. 7:
Had the Giants come through in the National, interest in the series would be great only in the East where "Subway Series" between the two Manhattan teams are convenient, if nothing else.

9 August 1928, Evansville (IL) Press, "New York Giants Given Rest" by United Press, pg. 8, col. 1:
Speculation over another "nickel world series" concerns not whether the Giants will be able to beat the Cardinals but whether the Yankees will be able to stave off the Athletics.

3 September 1928, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, "Sports Of All Sorts" by Regis M. Welsh, pg. 15, col. 1:
This just about ruins the chances of a subway series that many had figured on in New York.

3 September 1928, St. Louis (MO) Star, "Gould's Gossip," pg. 4, col. 7:
Scribes with the Giants began to talk of a "Subway World Series."

20 September 1928, Daily News (New York, NY), pg. 36, col. 1:
Polo Grounds Team Hope To Play in Subway Series
By FRANK WALLACE.
The 5-cent subway series will be up to the voters again today.

25 September 1928, Stamford (CT) Advocate, "Giants Have Opportunity Today To Cut Into Lead of Cards, Can They Do It?" by Davis J. Walsh, pg. 14, col. 1:
I feel that I am violating no confidence in saying that it looks like New York in the American League. The other half of the proposed subway series may or may not be closer to its goal line by tonight but no one can say that their chances are only nominal.

27 September 1928, The Border Cities Star (Windsor, ON), pg. 2, col. 8:
FIRST CLIMAX HAS ARRIVED
Yanks and Giants On Way to "Subway Series"
By FRANK GETTY
United Press Sports Editor
(Pg. 4, col. 3 -- ed.)
SUBWAY SERIES
The chances of the New York Giants turning October's big baseball show into another "subway series" are something more than mathematical, however.

October 8, 1928, Denver (CO) Post, "Cardinals Are Leading Yanks in Hitting Fouls -- That's All" by Les Conklin (International News Service), pg. 12, col. 5:
The New York sportswriters wanted a five-cent series and they are getting it. Five errors yesterday. That's 5 and 10-cent baseball in any many's league.

8 October 1928, Greensboro (NC) Daily Record, "All Over But Shouting Now! Five And Ten Cent Series" (International News Service), pg. 10, cols. 7-8:
The New York sportswriters wanted a five-cent series and they are getting it. Five errors yesterday. That's five and ten-cent baseball in any many's league.

8 April 1929, News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), 'New Yorkers Looking Forward To Another Nickel Yank-Giant Series" by Frank Getty (UP), pg. 9, col. 1:
Nickel Series.
New York fans are looking forward to another of those "five cent world series" which occurred in 1921, 1922, and 1923, taking their name from the fact that it cost but a nickel to get to the ball game no matter which team was "at home," since the Yankees and Giants were engaged.

Uncle Mike's Musings: A Yankees Blog and More
Friday, April 1, 2016
How to Go to a Mets Game -- 2016 Edition
(...)
Yes, "City Series." It's only a "Subway Series" if it's a World Series. Nobody called it a "Subway Series" when the New York Giants played the Brooklyn Dodgers in a regular-season game up until 1957. Nor did they call it a "Subway Series" when they played each other in the 1951 National League Playoff.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Monday, July 05, 2004 • Permalink