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Every MLB Team's Legendary Tearjerker Moment

Doug MeadCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2012

Every MLB Team's Legendary Tearjerker Moment

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    Major League Baseball has produced a multitude of exciting and memorable events over its over-130-year history, and many of these moments have reduced its fans to tears.

    From retirement speeches to World Series-winning plays, these events represent all that is good, and sometimes bad, about the great sport.

    Each MLB team has had their share of watershed moments, so to speak. Bleacher Report will take a look at the most memorable tearjerking moment for each team during their history.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Gonzo’s Glorious Game-Winning Hit in 2001

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    On Nov. 4, 2001, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez stepped to the plate to face all-world closer Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and one out. It was the seventh game of an epic World Series between the two teams, and it all came down to one at-bat with the score tied, 2-2.

    Gonzo, who was already the most popular player in franchise history, cemented that legacy with his bloop hit over a drawn-in infield, delivering the first-ever World Series championship in the short history of the team.

Atlanta Braves: Hammerin’ Hank’s Record-Breaking Blast

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    In early April 1974, the baseball world was lying in wait for a momentous occasion.

    Hank Aaron, the long-time Atlanta Braves slugger, was in hot pursuit of the all-time career home run record established by Babe Ruth. On April 8, 1974, in front of a sellout crowd of 53,775 fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and millions of more watching on television, Aaron delivered.

    To this day, the call made by Braves announcer Milo Hamilton is one of the most iconic in MLB history.

Baltimore Orioles: The Day That No. 2,131 Was Flashed at Camden Yards

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    When baseball went on strike in 1994 and forced the cancellation of the World Series, fans were fuming, vowing to boycott games if and when baseball returned.

    Of course it did return in late April 1995, but attendance dropped dramatically, down 20 percent from the previous year. But one man helped to restore fans’ faith in the game with his dogged pursuit of a record once thought to be untouchable—Cal Ripken Jr.

    On Sept. 6, 1995, Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking the longstanding record held by Lou Gehrig. Ripken’s chase of Gehrig’s accomplishment was a major factor in bringing excitement back to the game that had been marred by its work stoppage.

Boston Red Sox: Reverse the Curse

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    With pitcher Keith Foulke’s flip to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to end the ninth inning in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, Boston Red Sox fans were overjoyed beyond belief.

    After 86 years, they had finally seen their team win a World Series championship, ending what many believed to be a curse.

    Many elderly fans could go to their graves happy, knowing they had finally seen their local team achieve victory after years of heartache and despair.

Chicago Cubs: Steve Bartman...Nothing Else Needs to Be Said

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    For long-suffering fans of the Chicago Cubs, the incident that occurred on Oct. 14, 2003 at Wrigley Field was just another in a long line of incidents that kept their beloved Cubs from ultimate glory.

    The name of Steve Bartman will forever live in infamy on the North Side.

Chicago White Sox: Ending 88 Years of Anguish

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    Following Boston's victory in the 2004 World Series that ended an 86-year drought, the Chicago White Sox followed suit in 2005, ending an even longer drought.

    Not since 1917 had the White Sox won it all, and they hadn’t even advanced to the Fall Classic since 1959. While there wasn’t any major curse that needed to be exorcised like their brighter-hued Sox brethren the year before, the victory brought tears of joy to long-suffering fans nonetheless.

Cincinnati Reds: The Big Red Machine Finally Comes Through

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    During the early 1970s, the Cincinnati Reds were slowly building a dynasty that would become the Big Red Machine. Trips to the 1970 and 1972 World Series resulted in losses, and in 1975, they were again back at the Fall Classic, this time facing the Boston Red Sox.

    In what many believe was the greatest World Series ever played, it all came down to a deciding seventh, courtesy of a 12th-inning blast the night before by Carlton Fisk that extended the series.

    Thanks to a bloop single off the bat of Joe Morgan that scored Ken Griffey with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning, the Reds finally broke through, winning their first World Series in 35 years.

Cleveland Indians: Stirring Tribute to Bob Feller

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    On Opening Day 2011, the Cleveland Indians honored a man who had been a part of the organization for parts of nine decades and one of the greatest players in team history—Bob Feller.

    Feller, who passed away in December 2010 at the age of 92, was an ambassador for the Indians long after his playing days ended, often participating in team fantasy camps, throwing out first pitches and still pitching right up until his death.

    Feller’s widow and wife of 36 years, Anne, dropped a ball on the pitcher’s mound on that day, with the simple message, “Bobby, keep pitching. Anne.”

    It was an appropriate message for the man who threw the only Opening Day no-hitter in MLB history.

Colorado Rockies: Rocktober in the Mile High City

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    In what can only be described as improbable, the Colorado Rockies were seemingly out of the playoff race in the National League when they began play on Sunday, Sept. 16.

    However, two weeks later, the Rockies stunned the baseball world, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks on the final day of the regular season to win 13 of their final 14 games, qualifying them for a one-game play-in game with the San Diego Padres for the right to enter the postseason as the Wild Card.

    The Rockies didn’t stop there, sweeping their way all the way to the World Series before finally succumbing to the Boston Red Sox.

    Rocktober was indeed special in Denver.

Detroit Tigers: The Farewell Speech of a Legendary Voice

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    He was simply known as "The Voice of the Tigers," and that legendary voice called games in Motown for 42 seasons—Ernie Harwell.

    On Sept. 16, 2009, just two weeks after being diagnosed with incurable bile duct cancer, Harwell was treated to a special night in his honor at Comerica Park, and his farewell speech brought devoted Tigers fans who had faithfully listened to Harwell over the years to tears.

Houston Astros: Chris Burke Walkoff Homer Sends ‘Stros to St. Louis

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    On Oct. 9, 2005, it took nearly six hours to determine the outcome of an epic game between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros, a game that would become the longest game in postseason history, and the most memorable game in Astros history.

    Through a series of twists and turns, including an outstanding three-inning relief effort by Roger Clemens, Astros utility man Chris Burke launched a blast to left field in the bottom of the 18th inning to finally end the historic game, putting his Astros into the NLCS to face the St. Louis Cardinals.

    See the video of the historic shot here.

Kansas City Royals: Bret Saberhagen Leads Royals to First and Only Championship

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    In the 1980, the Kansas City Royals made it to their first World Series, only to be thwarted in their efforts by the Philadelphia Phillies, who captured their first-ever championship in the team's 98-year history.

    Five years later, the Royals were back again, this time facing the St. Louis Cardinals, and all signs pointed to another quick exit, as the Cards held a commanding 3-1 series lead.

    However, the Royals roared back to tie the series, and in epic fashion, Royals starting pitcher Bret Saberhagen whirled a gem in Game 7, throwing a five-hit, complete-game shutout to give Kansas City its first and only World Series championship.

Los Angeles Angels: The Passing of a Promising Prospect

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    In the early morning hours of April 9, 2009, a young man's life was taken away in tragic fashion, and the Los Angeles Angels and their fans were stunned.

    Nick Adenhart, who had just made his season debut hours earlier against the Oakland Athletics with six innings of shutout ball, died at the hands of drunk driver, killing Adenhart and two of his friends.

    A promising career cut down before it even started.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Gimpy Guy Gibson Goes Yard

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have certainly had their share of memorable moments in franchise history, but one day in 1988 may have topped them all.

    In Game 1 of the 1988 World Series against the heavily favored Oakland Athletics, the Dodgers were down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs and a runner on second, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda called upon Kirk Gibson to pinch-hit for Alejandro Pena.

    No one expected Gibson to even play at all after having injured both of his legs in the NLCS. But play he did, if only for one historic at-bat.

Miami Marlins: The First Was the Sweetest

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    In 1997, the Florida Marlins, who had yet to even finish above .500 in its previous four seasons, put it all together in one special season.

    Making the postseason as the lone Wild Card, the Marlins roared through the playoffs, defeating the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves to capture the NL pennant.

    In a thrilling seven-game series with the Cleveland Indians, the Marlins became the first team in major league history to win the World Series as a Wild Card.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Retirement of a Legend

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    It was 18 years ago on Saturday that legendary Milwaukee Brewers shortstop/center fielder Robin Yount suddenly announced his retirement from the game at the age of 38.

    Yount, who had played 20 seasons for the Brewers, was a two-time American League MVP and led the Brewers to their first-ever World Series berth in 1982, his first MVP season.

Minnesota Twins: Second World Series Win Even Sweeter Than the First

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    The Minnesota Twins engaged the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 World Series in what ESPN called the greatest World Series of all time.

    In all, five of the games were decided by a single run, four games decided in the final at-bat and three games went into extra innings. And in an epic Game 7, a pinch-hitter delivered the game-winner in dramatic fashion over a drawn-in outfield, the only run in support of Jack Morris, who pitched what many consider to be the greatest Game 7 pitching performance of all time.

New York Mets: Shocking and Improbable Comeback Victory

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    The 1986 New York Mets were down to their last out in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6 of the World Series. Boston Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst was already being touted as the MVP of the series, as catcher Gary Carter strode to the plate to face Calvin Schiraldi.

    What happened in the next few minutes became one of the improbable and stunning comebacks in the history of Major League Baseball, reducing Mets fans to blubbering idiots as what was thought to be a devastating loss was turned into an impossible victory.

New York Yankees: The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

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    When the baseball world learned that legendary first baseman Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS just two weeks after he benched himself to end his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played, everyone was stunned.

    On July 4, 1939, the New York Yankees honored Gehrig, and his speech that day brought tears to the eyes of everyone who listened.

Oakland Athletics: Loma Prieta Earthquake

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    There have been some great moments in Oakland Athletics history, but one event that was broadcast live on television in 1989 was by far the most unforgettable in franchise history.

    On Oct. 17, 1989, moments before the start of Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Athletics, a massive earthquake that measured 6.9 on the Richter scale shook the Bay Area, killing 63 people, wounding another 3,700 and forcing the postponement of the World Series for 10 days.

    Both ABC Sports and ESPN essentially became the news gatherers at the time, as both Al Michaels and Bob Ley gave chilling accounts of what happened on that fateful day.

Philadelphia Phillies: Phils Phinally Phind Victory

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    Pardon the "Ph" pun, but I just couldn't help myself.

    After 98 years, and oftentimes being the brunt of jokes as the perennial cellar-dweller of the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies finally put it all together, defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games to capture the 1980 World Series and the first championship in franchise history.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Tragic Death of a Legend

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    On Sept. 30, 1972, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente collected his 3,000th hit, doubling off New York Mets pitcher Jon Matlack. It would be the last hit of his career.

    Three months later, Clemente died in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico, attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.

San Diego Padres: An Epic Milestone for the Team's Greatest Player

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    On Aug. 6,1999, San Diego Padres right fielder Tony Gwynn singled in the first inning off Montreal Expos pitcher Dan Smith.

    It was the 3,000th hit of Gwynn's fabulous career, a career in which he captured eight batting titles and finished with only one season under .300—his rookie season.

    Gwynn was indeed special, and for Padres fans, unforgettable as well.

San Francisco Giants: Loma Prieta Earthquake

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    As mentioned earlier in the Oakland Athletics slide, Oct. 17, 1989 was a day equally as emotional for the San Francisco Giants.

    At home in Candlestick Park, and ready to stem the tide that had the A's up in the series 2-0, the Giants were ready to take the field with determination and grit, only to have a harsh dose of reality hit right at home.

Seattle Mariners: Glory in First Playoff Appearance

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    It took until their 19th season for the Seattle Mariners to get to the postseason, helped along by an epic collapse by the California Angels.

    The Mariners made the most of their first-ever postseason appearance, as Edgar Martinez's double scored both Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr., sending the Mariners to the ALCS.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Last Day of a Legend

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    On Sept. 29, 1963, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial strode to the plate for the final time in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at a sold-out Busch Stadium.

    In classic style, Musial singled past a diving Reds rookie second baseman by the name of Pete Rose, driving in Curt Flood with the first run of the game. It was Musial's 3,630th hit, and he finished his career the same way he started in 1941—with a run-scoring single.

Tampa Bay Rays: Walkoff Homer to Win Wild Card in Dramatic Fashion

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    Sept. 28, 2011 was one of the most dramatic days in the history of Major League Baseball, with a multitude of games that determined final postseason berths and positioning, and the Tampa Bay Rays put the finished touches on an incredible comeback to end that fateful day.

    With a 7-0 deficit headed into the bottom of the eighth inning, it certainly appeared that the Rays had made a valiant effort to come back in the month of September to catch the Boston Red Sox in the race for the Wild Card, only to come up just short.

    But wait!

    With a six-run eighth inning that included a three-run blast by Evan Longoria, the Rays were suddenly back in it. One inning later, pinch-hitter Dan Johnson tied it with a solo shot to right field, and the Rays were back in business.

    In the bottom of the 12th, Longoria again delivered, this time with a solo shot landing just beyond the left field fence, lifting the Rays to the most improbable of wins and a postseason berth.

Texas Rangers: Ending 49 Years of Heartache

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    On Oct. 22, 2010, Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz struck out New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for the final out in the ninth inning, giving the Rangers a 6-1 victory and the team's first-ever American League pennant.

    Since starting as the Washington Senators in 1961, the Rangers had only been to the playoffs three times in their 49-year history, winning only one game in the process.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Winner, and Still World Champions...

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    "Touch 'em all, Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!"

    Those were the words uttered by Toronto Blue Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek, after Joe Carter's three-run homer into the left field bleachers lifted the Blue Jays to an 8-6 victory and their second of back-to-back World Series championships.

    It was only the second home run ever hit to end a World Series in MLB history.

Washington Nationals: All-Star Game North of the Border

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    On July 13, 1982, the MLB All-Star Game was played outside of the United States for the first time in history—Olympic Stadium in Montreal would host the game that would see 18 future Hall of Fame players.

    For the Expos, five players were represented—Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Steve Rogers and Al Oliver.

    Carter, Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Ozzie Smith, Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, George Brett, Robin Yount, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield and Carl Yastrzemski were there to represent their teams, and all would eventually make it to Cooperstown.

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