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World Series: A series of baseball games played in the fall of each year between the pennant winners of the major leagues to decide the professional championship of the U.S. – Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

So there was this American couple eating breakfast at a small café in Quebec City, Canada, when a man and woman came in and sat at the table beside them.

Making conversation and trying to be friendly, the American couple offered that they were from South Dakota. The other couple was Canadian, from Kingsport, Novia Scotia.

After the usual pleasantries, the Americans wondered if the Canadians had ever been to South Dakota, and if not, suggested that they might enjoy Mount Rushmore, also known as the Shrine of Democracy.

“Oh, Americans always think that the founding of their country was a global event,” the woman sniffed. “The shot heard round the world, and all that. It really wasn’t, you know. There is more to the world than America.”


Now, after all these years, I more clearly understood what “ugly American” meant, a term made famous by the 1958 novel of the same name. The book’s central thread was that the U.S. diplomatic corps, and by extension American tourists, is insensitive to the customs of other nations and offends those inhabitants by their boorish behavior.

I’ll admit I speak very little French, the dominant language of Quebec, but does trying to promote South Dakota suggest that I am “insensitive” to Canada or that “hypersensitivity” abroad is alive and well?

This unhappy experience came back to me as the World Series gets under way. The term “World Series” also irritates some non-Americans.  Oh the insensitivity of it all, referring to a championship series between the National and American leagues as a “world series.”

Actually, back in 1903 when the first series was played, it was a “world series” in the sense that these were the only professional baseball leagues and they were both in the U.S. Baseball is an American game, even if Abner Doubleday didn’t actually invent it.  Some have speculated that the term “World Series” came about because the New York World, a prominent newspaper of that era, sponsored it. This was never confirmed, and a better explanation is that the term was used in early reportage of professional baseball championships, even before 1903, and eventually became accepted.

America need not apologize. Sit back and enjoy this year’s October Classic. And remember, the Little League World Series frequently has been won by non-American teams. No complaints about the name have been recorded.

Oct. 28, 2015