Oct 25, 2022 - Sports

World Series preview: Philadelphia vs. Houston, a brief history

Photo illustration of Mike Schmidt, Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Nolan Ryan with multicolored lines surrounding them

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated, Dick Raphael/NBAE, Focus on Sport, and Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The 2022 World Series will be just the third postseason series between major sports teams from Philadelphia and Houston — and the first in over 40 years.

Looking back: Their first two playoff meetings couldn't happen today due to changes in leagues and conferences.

1977 NBA Eastern Conference Finals (76ers beat Rockets, 4-2): Yes, Houston (along with San Antonio) was once an Eastern Conference team, while Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee were in the West.

  • Julius Erving starred in this series, getting the best of future teammate Moses Malone and the Rockets.
  • The 76ers ultimately fell to Bill Walton's Trail Blazers in the NBA Finals, 4-2.

1980 MLB NLCS (Phillies beat Astros, 3-2): This was one of the most dramatic playoff series in MLB history, with four of the five games going to extras. Philly won Games 4 and 5 in the Astrodome, both in 10 innings.

  • In 1980, the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers and Flyers all made the championship round — but only the Phillies won it all.
  • The Astros moved to the AL in 2013 to balance the leagues with three divisions of five teams each.

Between the lines ... Houston (fifth-largest metro area in the U.S.) and Philadelphia (seventh-largest) are similar in size, but Philly has enjoyed far more sports success, historically speaking.

  • That's largely due to its teams simply being around longer. The Philadelphia Athletics, for example, won five World Series (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930) before the Astros were even founded (1962).
  • Houston also doesn't have an NHL team, making it the largest U.S. market without a complete set of teams in the Big Four sports leagues.

Shoutout to Axios Sports reader Richard Rothschild for inspiring this story.

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