In the 1956 World Series, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. A perfect game is when a pitcher retires all the opposing team’s batters with no one reaching base. There have been only 23 perfect games in major league baseball history. (x/AP)

What most Washington baseball fans know about the World Series is that the Nationals are not playing in it this year.

The World Series, however, has been a big part of the American sports scene for more than 100 years. Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros are playing in this year's Fall Classic, I thought we should look back on World Series history.

The National League started playing professional baseball in 1876, while the American League began in 1901. The two leagues were separate. National League teams did not play American League teams, although the two leagues competed for players and fans.

In 1903, the Pittsburgh Pirates were leading the National League while the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox) were dominating the American League. Barney Dreyfuss, the owner of the Pirates, had an idea.

He wrote Henry Killea, the owner of the Americans, proposing a "World Series" and saying, "It is my belief that if our clubs played a series on a best-of-nine basis, we would create great interest in baseball, in our leagues and in our players."

Dreyfuss was right. The World Series was a big hit. More than 16,000 fans (a big crowd in the early 1900s) packed the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston for the first game. Some of the early contests were so crowded that fans stood in the outfield to watch.

The Americans beat the Pirates, 5-3 (fives games to three), with Boston's star pitcher, Cy Young, leading the way. That's the same Cy Young whose name is on the annual major league pitching award.

The leagues did not play a World Series in 1904 because the New York Giants won the National League and the Giants owner, John Brush, and manager, John McGraw, did not like the American League president.

The Giants agreed to play in 1905, but Brush insisted that the series be limited to no more than seven games. The World Series has remained best-of-seven except in 1919 to 1921, when it was best-of-nine.

The World Series is always exciting — 38 of the winners have needed the full seven games to earn the championship — but here are some highlights through the years.

●1905: The Giants win the series, 4-1, with Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson pitching a record three shutouts.

●1924: The Washington Senators beat the Giants, 4-3. It is the first (and last) World Series win for a Washington team.

●1956: Don Larsen pitches a perfect game to win the fifth game and to help the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven.

●1989: A huge earthquake strikes at the beginning of the third game. The series between the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants is delayed 10 days.

●2016: The Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, in the seventh game to win their first World Series in 108 seasons.

So watch the 2017 World Series. It's bound to make history.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 22 kids sports books, including nine baseball books.