© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/24/05 9:39 PM ET

Series program remains hot seller

Annual covers not just teams, but baseball's entire year

HOUSTON -- Over the decades, the official World Series program has become a coveted keepsake for fans of the two teams competing in the Fall Classic.

The program, published by Major League Baseball Properties -- also the publisher of the official All-Star Game and League Championship Series programs -- recruits the best baseball has to offer, from writers to photographers to illustrators who contribute to the World Series publication.

Baseball writers and broadcast personalities from around the country are asked to submit articles that summarize the year by not only examining the teams, but also the personalities that were the fabric of the past season.

From the earliest days of the series through the early 1960's, the program would focus on the two pennant winners and, depending on the city you were in, the articles in the program would reflect on the home team and the city they played for.

The annual has changed with the times. Consider that the 1959 program, which was the last time the White Sox were in the Series (vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers), was about 64 pages; the 2005 edition is 208 pages, covering everything that was baseball this season.

Bob Costas profiles four current pitchers: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez that the longtime broadcaster and host of the HBO Sports series "Costas Now" believes rank with all-time greats like Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan.

The program has an in-depth year in review highlighting a list of moments and accomplishments from 2005 and a photo gallery from team and Major League Baseball photographers showing players such as Derek Jeter, Chone Figgins and Scott Podsednik at their best.

Johnny Damon, who was one of the key players in the Boston Red Sox championship drive in 2004, gets personal in a in-depth Q&A that will give baseball fans a deeper insight into what one of baseball's free spirits is all about.

Baseball is a game that also embraces its past, and this year a host of stories in the program celebrate the great teams and personalities throughout baseball history.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Brooklyn Dodgers' first and only World Championship. Author Eric Enders recounts that magical year in which legends like Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella finally brought a title to the famed New York Borough. Roger Kahn, the author of the acclaimed book "The Boys of Summer" also contributes an essay examining what the championship meant to Brooklyn.

The program also devotes a section to World Series memories. From Enos Slaughter's mad dash to home in 1946 to Carlton Fisk and Kirk Gibson's legendary home runs, the section gives a year-by-year breakdown of every Series played.

Other features include a rarely seen look at the daily life of a Major League umpire, an article on five players who overcame sickness or injury to shine in October and a preview of what to look for next spring when the countries of the world host the first ever World Baseball Classic.

The process of putting together a game program begins long before the playoffs do. Just after the All-Star break, the MLB Properties staff begins choosing and assigning stories for the League Championship Series and World Series programs. The bulk of the national section -- that is, the non-team specific stories -- is finished by the conclusion of the regular season.

Every team that is in contention submits local sections that appear in the middle of the program, and the final deadlines fall long before any playoff series have been decided. When the Division Series is finished, the local sections from the four winning teams are bound into the LCS program. When the next round is complete, the local sections are rushed into the World Series game program.

This year's program was huge hit Saturday night in Chicago when it hit the souvenir stands at U.S. Cellular Field for Game 1 of the series.

"Saturday was the single-biggest program sales night for any Major League Baseball premiere event, All-Star Game or World Series," said Donald Hintze, vice president of publishing for Major League Baseball, who oversees all the various programs published each year.

The World Series game program costs $15 and is available at the MLB.com Shop ($15.99), and at both U.S. Cellular Field and Minute Made Park, as well as various newsstands around the country.

Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.