The 2004 American League Championship Series was the first time a team rallied from being down 0-3 to win a best-of-seven series.
In fact, the Boston Red Sox were not only down 0-3 but they were three outs away from being eliminated by their arch rivals the New York Yankees.
The Red Sox tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and then won it in the bottom of the 12th thanks to David Ortiz’s home run. It was the first of four straight victories for the BoSox.
Thanks to their amazing comeback, Boston advanced to the World Series and won it. It was their first title in 87 years.
Before 1969, the American League had no playoffs. The team with the best record won the American League Pennant and went straight to the World Series.
In 1948, there was a tie between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. The Indians defeated the Red Sox in a one-game playoff to take the AL pennant and advance to the World Series.
That was about it for the AL playoffs until 1969. That year, the American League was realigned into two divisions.
The winner of the two divisions squared off in the American League Championship Series.
The first team to win the ALCS was the Baltimore Orioles. They swept the Minnesota Twins.
The O’s would go on to win the ALCS in 1970 and 1971. Then the Oakland Athletics won the next three. Therefore, the first six ALCSs were won by just two teams.
From 1969 to 1984, the ALCS was the best-of-five. The series was expanded to the best-of-seven in 1985.
The first team to win the ALCS after it became a best-of-seven series was the Kansas City Royals. They rallied to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays after being down 3-1.
In 1994, the league was reorganized into three divisions. To make the postseason qualifiers even, a wild card team was added.
The inclusion of a wild card team doesn’t fundamentally change the ALCS but it does mean that a team who didn’t win their division can play for the AL Pennant and eventually the World Series.
The ALCS uses a 2-3-2 format. The team with the best record has home field advantage. A wild card team, regardless of their win-loss record, can never have home field advantage.
The club that wins the American League Championship Series is presented with the William Harridge Trophy. The player who performs the best in the ALCS receives the Lee MacPhail Most Valuable Player Award.