The 50 Biggest Blunders in MLB History
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word blunder as “to make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance, or carelessness.”
In Major League Baseball, the phrase “momentary lapse of judgment” could also be included as a definition of the word blunder as well.
These momentary lapses of judgment, or the three words used by Merriam-Webster, could all certainly be used in describing some of the worst blunders in MLB history.
In just about every case that Bleacher Report will take a look at, the words “what was he thinking?” comes to mind. Or, in other cases, the words “omigod, did I just see that?” might be more appropriate.
Whatever the words used, here is a look at the 50 biggest blunders in MLB history, either events or specific plays that either made you throw something at the television or scream out in utter anguish.
Note: Some of the slides contain excerpts from previous articles written by myself within the last year.
50. 2002 All-Star Game Tie
The 73rd edition of the MLB All-Star Game turned out to be one of the most embarrassing moments of commissioner Bud Selig’s tenure, one that resulted in a new rule that granted home-field advantage for the World Series to the winner in future All-Star contests.
Managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly had already used all but one player when the game went into extra innings with the score tied at 7-7. After the top of the 11th inning, both managers conferred with MLB officials, and the decision was made to end the game in a tie if the National League did not score in the bottom of the inning. Of course, the NL went down in order and to the consternation of 41,871 fans in Miller Park, the game was in fact declared a tie.
49. The Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to Frank McCourt
Somehow, I think that if MLB commissioner Bud Selig had a do-over on this one, he’d take it.
When purchasing the Dodgers from NewsCorp in 2004, Frank McCourt was leveraged to the hilt in the $430 million deal, including a parcel of land on the South Boston waterfront that was later turned over to NewsCorp to help cover the acquisition debt.
Selig was fully aware that McCourt was highly leveraged, yet pushed the deal through anyway, looking to put closure on the transfer of ownership as quickly as possible. Eight years later, even Selig himself would likely regard that decision as one of the worst of his tenure.
48. 1993 World Series: Mitch Williams No Longer Owns Joe Carter
In Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Joe Carter strode to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with two men on, one man out and the Philadelphia Phillies clinging to a 6-5 lead, hoping to extend the series to a seventh and deciding game.
The Phillies had closer Mitch Williams on the mound, and Carter had never hit safely against Williams, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Um, make that 1-for-5.
47. Los Angeles Angels Sign Gary Matthews Jr. to Five-Year, $50 Million Contract
In 2006, outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. finally put together a nice season, hitting .313 with 19 HR and 79 RBI, and earning his first All-Star appearance. Apparently, the Los Angeles Angels thought that was enough to offer Matthews a fat long-term deal.
Armed with a five-year, $50 million deal, Matthews proved that he was worthy of fourth-outfielder status. That’s what he became, anyway, by the end of his third year with the Angels, who were only too happy to unload Matthews to the New York Mets and eat all but $1 million of the $23.4 million still owed to Matthews.
46. 2001 ALDS: If Only Jeremy Giambi Had Slid
Over the years, the play has become known as “The Flip.”
In a play that has been re-shown countless times in the past 10 years, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter’s flip to catcher Jorge Posada to nail Oakland A’s runner Jeremy Giambi at the plate never would have happened if Giambi had remembered one basic rule of thumb in baseball.
That basic rule of thumb? Slide when it’s a close play.
45. The Complete Mismanagement of David Clyde
He was an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher who was labeled a can't miss pitcher when the Texas Rangers drafted him out of high school in 1973.
At Westchester High School in Houston, David Clyde had pitched five no-hitters, including two perfect games. He was a phenom that attracted Rangers owner Bob Short, mainly because he was local and would sell tickets.
Part of the deal in drafting Clyde was that he was to pitch at least two major league games before being sent to the minors. Sure enough, Arlington Stadium was sold out on the night of June 27, 1973 when Clyde made his debut, with the Rangers even delaying the game against the Minnesota Twins to accommodate the crowds driving in.
Clyde threw a bit more than two starts that opening year—he stayed with the big club and started 18 games in total, going 4-8 with an unimpressive 5.01 ERA. Clyde wasn't much better the following year, and arm troubles eventually pushed him out of baseball by 1979.
A career that never got off the ground because of an owner's greed.
44. Ruben Rivera and His Ridiculous Race Around the Bases
Outfielder Ruben Rivera is most known for being the cousin of future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, but on one night in 2003, Rivera became known for something much more dubious.
In May 2003, in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Rivera, then with the San Francisco Giants, made a serious of baserunning blunder that led to announcer Jon Miller calling his gaffe "the worst base running play in the history of the game."
Just listening to Miller's call of the play itself is priceless.
43. The Pine Tar Game
On July 24, 1983, Kansas City Royals third baseman hits a two run home run in the top half of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium to give his team a 5-4 lead.
New York Yankees manager Billy Martin strides out to home plate to confer with the umpires, claiming that Brett's bat has an excessive amount of pine tar. Umpire Tim McClelland agreed, citing Rule 1.10(c) of the Major League Baseball rule book, which read that "a bat may not be covered by such a substance more than 18 inches from the tip of the handle."
The homer was taken away, and the Yankees would go on to win, 4-3.
After the Royals filed a formal protest, American League Lee MacPhail reversed the ruling, saying that the ruling on the field went against the spirit of the game, ordering the game to be resumed on Aug. 18 from the point of Brett's home run.
42. Atlanta Braves Epic Collapse
On August 23, 2011, the Atlanta Braves had the second-best record in the National League and held a 10.5 game over the St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the Wild Card, with coolstandings.com giving the Braves a 99 percent probability of making the playoffs.
By contrast, just four days later, the St. Louis Cardinals were given a 1.1 percent probability to make the playoffs, sitting just five games above .500 at the time.
So much for probabilities.
41. Terry Bevington's Managerial Blunder
While former Chicago White Sox manager Terry Bevington certainly can't be called a terrible manager based on his overall record with the Pale Hose (222-214 between 1995-1997), he managed to become hated by just about every one of his players, coaches and White Sox fans alike.
One particular memory puts Bevington on this list. During one particular game, he went out to the mound to pull one of his pitchers and promptly signaled to the bullpen for the next reliever to enter the game.
There was only one slight problem: Bevington had no one warming up in the bullpen at the time.
40. Jerry Meals' Blown Call Dooms Pirates
At the start of the day on July 26, the Pittsburgh Pirates were 53-47 and tied at the top of the NL Central Division, without a doubt the surprise of the majors after 18 consecutive losing seasons.
However, in a 19-inning struggle against the Atlanta Braves, home plate umpire Jerry Meals inexplicably called Atlanta Braves shortstop Julio Lugo safe on a play at the plate, when it clearly showed Pirates catcher Michael McKenry had applied the tag well before Lugo even made it to the plate.
Lugo even looked like he knew he was out.
The Pirates would win only 19 games the rest of the season, the air completely taken out of their sails.
39. Lonnie Smith Duped by Oldest Trick in the Book
Outfielder Lonnie Smith made a name for himself in baseball by playing on three different winning World Series teams in six years (Phillies, Cardinals, Royals), a major league record. However, in 1991, Smith made headlines again, this time for a vastly different reason.
In Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Smith, now playing for the Atlanta Braves, led off the top of the eighth inning of a scoreless tie with the Minnesota Twins, and singled sharply to right-center field.
Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton then laced a shot to the left-center gap. The ball was hit in such a way that Smith should have scored easily, however, he stumbled at second base and wound up only at third on the play.
Smith would later say that he lost the ball in the Metrodome roof, however, TV replays clearly showed that Smith appeared to be duped by Twins' second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who pretended to be catching the ball from the outfield.
Instead of a 1-0 lead for the Braves, there were men on second and third with no one out. Ron Gant then grounded out to Kent Hrbek at first, with the runners unable to advance, David Justice was intentionally walked to create a force at any base, and Sid Bream then grounded to Kent Hrbek for an inning-ending 3-2-3 double play.
The rest, as they say, is history.
38. Willie Davis' Uncharacteristic Play in Field in Game 2 of 1966 World Series
During his 18-year career, Willie Davis was an outstanding center fielder, garnering three Gold Glove Awards in three consecutive seasons (1971-1973). However, on Oct. 6, 1966, Davis did not have what would be called a good day.
In the fifth inning of Game 2 of the 1966 World Series between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, Orioles first baseman Boog Powell singled. Following a Davey Johnson foul popup, center fielder Paul Blair lifted a lazy fly ball to center. Davis lost the ball in the sun, allowing Powell to advance to third on the play and Blair reaching second on the error.
The next batter, catcher Andy Etchebarren, again lifted a fly ball to center. This time, Davis dropped it for another error, scoring Powell, and then Davis' throw to third to nail Blair was high, allowing Blair to score. Etchebarren would later score on a double by Luis Aparicio, saddling starter Sandy Koufax with three unearned runs on the three errors by Davis.
The Dodgers would go on to lose the game 6-0 in what turned out to be Koufax's final game of his career.
37. A 7-Year, $126 Million Contract Gone Bust
Following a stellar seven-year stint with the Oakland Athletics in which he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, Barry Zito decided to take his talents to the other side of the bay, signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.
There was only one minor problem—Zito's talents never actually came across the bay with him.
After five years in which he has compiled a 43-61 record and 4.55 ERA, being completely left off the roster for the 2010 postseason and becoming a really expensive cheerleader during the Giants' march to the World Series championship, Zito is still owed $46 million for the next two seasons.
36. Jose Canseco Uses His Head
To say that outfielder Jose Canseco was defensively challenged is a bit like saying that Babe Ruth was just a better than average slugger.
Anyone who uses his noggin to aid in a home run definitely deserves a spot on this list.
Video can be seen HERE.
35. Boston Red Sox GM Lou Gorman Decides That Jeff Bagwell Is Expendable
With the Boston Red Sox in the thick of a pennant race in August 1990, GM Lou Gorman made a trade to bolster his bullpen, acquiring reliever Larry Andersen in exchange for Double-A prospect first baseman Jeff Bagwell.
One can only assume that Gorman must have thought Bagwell's path to the majors with Boston was blocked by the presence of Carlos Quintana?
34. Donnie Moore's Mistake Pitch to Dave Henderson
For 13 seasons in the major leagues, four with the California Angels, reliever Donnie Moore carved out a nice niche for himself, being selected to the All-Star team once in 1985. However, Moore's career was forever defined for one pitch in 1986.
Entering the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, Moore was called on to snuff out a rally started by Don Baylor's two-run home run. Clinging to a 5-4 lead with two outs and Rich Gedman on base, Moore let a 2-2 pitch fly to batter Dave Henderson, who promptly launched it over the left field fence, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead.
While the Angels would come back in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, Moore gave up a sacrifice fly to Henderson in the 11th, giving the Red Sox a 7-6 victory.
The Angels, clearly deflated by the loss, went on to lose Games 6 and 7, giving the Red Sox the American League pennant.
33. Chicago Cubs Collapse of '69
On Aug. 19, 1969, the Chicago Cubs held an eight-game lead over the upstart New York Mets, who were finally on the winning path after seven straight losing seasons.
However, the Cubs stumbled to the finish, winning just 15 of their final 40 games, while the Mets went on a run, winning 32 of their final 43 games.
The Cubs would finish a full eight games behind the Mets, marking one of the worst collapses in major league history.
Sorry, but I'm just not prepared to blame a black cat on their demise.
32. Boston Red Sox Collapse of '11
I could certainly fill these pages with epic collapses, but last year's freefall by the Boston Red Sox certainly rates right up there as a colossal blunder.
On Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, the Sox were nine games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the race for the lone Wild Card spot in the American League.
The Sox would win only six games the rest of the way, leading to stories of beer guzzling, chicken wing-eating and other tales of woe in the Red Sox clubhouse.
31. Milton Bradley's Tirade Tears Up Knee and Dooms Padres' Postseason Hopes
On Sept. 23, 2007, with his San Diego Padres in the thick of the race for the National League Wild Card slot, Milton Bradley saw fit to attempt to go after a first-base umpire after words were exchanged. During the ensuing action, Padres manager Bud Black was trying to pull Bradley back from the umpire, and Bradley went crashing to the ground, tearing a knee ligament and putting him on the disabled list for the rest of the season.
The Padres ended up losing the race for the Wild Card in the final week of the season.
30. 10-Cent Beer Night
On June 4, 1974, the Cleveland Indians decided it would be a good idea to do a “10-Cent Beer Night” at Municipal Stadium. What they got was a horrifying scene instead.
In what should come as no surprise to anyone, the crowd became quickly inebriated, several fans strolled out onto the field either naked or mooning fans and, finally, in the ninth inning, a complete brouhaha took place, with umpire chief Nestor Chylak forfeiting the game to the Rangers after the crowd wouldn’t leave the field in a timely fashion.
29. Lou Brock Goes from Cubs to Cardinals to Hall of Fame
On June 15, 1964, Chicago Cubs GM John Holland gave his okay on a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals that sent Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Redbirds for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz.
Holland counted on the 28-year-old Broglio to deliver greatness for the Cubs. Broglio led the NL in wins in 1960 and followed up with an 18-win season in 1963, however, after the trade, Broglio won exactly seven games for the Cubs and was out of baseball in 1966.
Brock, who had shown flashes of his brilliance during his time on the North Side, blossomed into one of the most prolific base-stealers and leadoff hitters in major league history.
28. 1948 AL Playoff Game-Red Sox Manager Joe McCarthy Opts for Galehouse
On the last day of the 1948 regular season, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, while the Cleveland Indians lost to the Detroit Tigers, putting both the Red Sox and Indians at the top with identical 96-58 records. There would be a one-game playoff to decide the American League pennant, the first ever in AL history.
With the game to be played at Fenway Park, Indians player/manager Lou Boudreau elected to pitch Gene Bearden, a 19-game winner who had beaten the Sox twice during the season. Bearden however would be going on just one day's rest.
In a curious move to say the least, Sox manager Joe McCarthy elected not to pitch Mel Parnell, who was rested and had beaten the Indians three times during the season. McCarthy instead chose Denny Galehouse. It was later revealed that McCarthy liked Galehouse’s chances as a right-hander in Fenway Park, as opposed to Parnell with the short left field wall and strong Indians’ right-handed batters.
The move backfired, and the Indians scorched Galehouse for five runs in four innings, and the Indians prevailed 8-3, giving them the American League pennant for the first time since 1920, while McCarthy became public enemy No. 1 in Boston.
27. Carl Pavano's Four-Year, $40 Million Albatross of a Contract
When the New York Yankees signed pitcher Carl Pavano to a four-year deal worth $40 million in December 2004, they did so after Pavano had won 18 games along with a 3.00 ERA for the Florida Marlins the year before.
So exactly what did the Yankees get for their money? Only 26 starts in three seasons (Pavano sat out the entire 2006 season), nine wins and plenty of grumblings from Pavano's teammates about his work ethic.
26. Nyjer Morgan and His Inside-the-Park Temper Tantrum
On May 22, 2010, during an interleague game with the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan allowed an inside-the-park home run to Adam Jones due to the fact that he couldn’t control his emotions.
It is probably the only home run that was given up via an uncontrollable temper tantrum.
25. Disco Demolition Does Just That—Demolishes a Park
On July 12, 1979, between games of a doubleheader at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Mike Veeck, son of then-White Sox owner Bill Veeck, decided to be a chip off the old block—he engineered a special promotion, along with local Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, inviting fans to bring their disco records so that they could be burned in a special exhibition display in the outfield.
The White Sox expected a larger crowd, but what they got instead were over 52,000 screaming fans who were already throwing their disco records around like Frisbees before the event even got started.
Dahl proceeded to light the records on fire in the outfield at Comiskey Park, and when the explosives were triggered to blow up the records, it tore a hole in the outfield grass and started a small fire.
At that moment, viewers were horrified by seeing fans who bolted out onto the field in droves, lighting small fires of their own and creating such a frenzied havoc that umpires ruled the field unplayable for the second game of the doubleheader.
24. Cincinnati Reds Trade "Old" Frank Robinson to Baltimore Orioles
In early December 1965, the Baltimore Orioles received an early Christmas gift, courtesy of Cincinnati Reds GM Bill DeWitt.
Looking to bolster a beleaguered pitching staff, DeWitt traded 30-year-old right fielder Frank Robinson to the Orioles for Milt Pappas and two other players.
Pappas was 30-29 for the Reds in two-plus seasons, while all Robinson did was win the Triple Crown in his first year with Baltimore, leading them to their first-ever World Series championship.
DeWitt tried to defend the trade by saying that Robinson was "an old 30." Sure, Bill.
To be fair, however, DeWitt was responsible for signing and developing several of the players that would go on to become known as the "Big Red Machine" before his tenure with the Reds ended.
23. Vince Coleman Is Felled by a Tarp
No one can ever accuse former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Vince Coleman of the being the most intelligent baseball player in history, that's for sure.
From the man who thought it would be funny to throw firecrackers in the middle of a crowd of children and who injured teammate and pitcher Dwight Gooden while taking practice swings with a golf club in the clubhouse, we also have this little horrifying tidbit.
In pregame warm-ups prior to Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in 1985 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Coleman was stretching in the outfield when it started to rain. The rain triggered the mechanic tarp roller, which started to cover the infield. Coleman failed to get out of the way, and the tarp rolled right over Coleman’s leg, chipping a bone in his knee and rendering him disabled for the rest of the NLCS.
The Cardinals beat the Dodgers without Coleman, but lost to the Kansas City Royals in a thrilling seven-game World Series.
Could Coleman’s horrifying injury have been a factor in the Cardinals’ defeat? We’ll certainly never know. It was definitely horrifying for Cardinals teammates to watch it unfold—or in this case, unroll.
22. Connie Mack Decides That Shoeless Joe Jackson Isn't a Fit in Philly
Legendary Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack enjoyed a tremendous amount of success during his 50-year managerial career with the A's, winning nine pennants and five World Series championships. However, Mack also had some very lean years as well, combined with a few total failures.
One such failure was Mack's trade of young Shoeless Joe Jackson to the Cleveland Naps in 1910. Mack thought Jackson to be an attitude problem and felt he was not intelligent enough to play baseball.
Two years later, Jackson set the all-time rookie record with a .408 batting average for the Naps, and before the 1919 World Series scandal broke, Jackson was widely considered one of the best hitters in the history of the game.
21. Detroit Tigers Trade John Smoltz to Atlanta Braves
On August 12, 1987, the Detroit Tigers, in need of veteran pitching help for the pennant run, made a deal with the Atlanta Braves to acquire Doyle Alexander for young 20-year-old pitcher John Smoltz.
The trade turned out to be one of the most lopsided in baseball history. Alexander was out of baseball less than two years later, and Smoltz went on to become only the second pitcher to record a 50-save season along with a 20-win season.
Smoltz is the only pitcher in major league history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves.
20. Red Sox Manager John McNamara and His Refusal to Replace Buckner
Every major blunder/blooper list will inevitably list Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series as one of the biggest of all-time. However, it never would have happened had not Boston Red Sox manager John McNamara continued what he had been doing for most of the season.
On numerous occasions during the year, McNamara had replaced Buckner at first base with defensive replacement Dave Stapleton. Except, of course, on one fateful night.
19. 1995 California Angels...Ouch
In 1994, the California Angels named Marcel Lachemann their manager, replacing Buck Rodgers. After a strike curtailed the 1994 season, by the time baseball resumed in 1995, the Angels were on fire, at one point leading the Seattle Mariners by 11 games in August in the American League West.
However, the Angels went on a nine-game losing streak, giving up major ground to the Mariners. After righting the ship for a short period, the Angels again lost nine straight in September, squandering a six-game lead to the Mariners and ending their season after a one-game playoff won by the Mariners.
It is still considered one of the biggest collapses in MLB history, and Lachemann was largely blamed for the team's demise.
18. Larry Barnett: Catcher's Interference in Game 3 of the 1975 World Series
For Boston Red Sox fans, this may have been one of the most egregious blunders ever.
In the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds, with the score tied at 5-5, Cesar Geronimo singled off Sox reliever Jim Willoughby. Manager Sparky Anderson then sent Ed Armbrister up to pinch-hit for Rawly Eastwick.
Armbrister bunted high off the dirt in front of home plate, and then hesitated before taking off. Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk got tangled up with Armbrister on the play, then through wildly to second base, allowing Geronimo to advance to third and Armbrister to second.
A wild argument then ensued, as Sox manager Darrell Johnson came out to vehemently argue to home plate umpire Larry Barnett that Armbrister intentionally hesitated on the play, causing the bump with Fisk. Barnett disagreed, and the play was allowed.
Joe Morgan would eventually drive Geronimo home with a fly ball over a drawn-in outfield, giving the Reds a controversial 6-5 victory.
17. Tim Tschida: The Phantom Tag by Chuck Knoblauch
In the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS between the Boston Red and New York Yankees, the Sox were attempting to rally back from a 3-2 deficit when Jose Offerman singled with one out.
John Valentin then hit a ground ball to Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who reached to tag Offerman on his way to second.
Second base umpire Tim Tschida called Offerman out, even though Knoblauch didn't even come close to touching Offerman, and then flipped to first to nail Valentin for the inning-ending double play, effectively killing the rally.
The Yankees would score six runs in the top of the ninth to put the game away and seal the Red Sox fate.
Umpires will give a certain leeway in terms of plays at second on a double play, but Knoblauch wasn't even in the same area code.
16. Curt Flood's Gaffe in Game 7 of 1968 World Series
The 1968 World Series was an epic battle between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, and through the first six innings of the seventh and deciding game, neither Tigers starter Mickey Lolich or Cardinals great Bob Gibson were willing to give an inch.
However, in the top of the seventh, Gibson finally blinked. After quickly getting the first two outs of inning, Gibson gave up consecutive singles to Norm Cash and Willie Horton. Jim Northrup then hit a deep fly ball. Cardinals center fielder Curt Flood, a seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, slipped on the play and misjudged the ball as it flew over his head all the way to the wall.
Cash and Horton both scored on the play, with Northrup winding up on third with a triple. Northrup would later score, and the Cardinals would go to lose the game and the series.
15. Cincinnati Reds Trade Christy Mathewson to New York Giants
In 1900, the New York Giants purchased 19-year-old pitcher Christy Mathewson from the minor-league Norfolk Phenoms. Mathewson didn't impress, however, and the Giants sent him back to Norfolk.
The Cincinnati Reds showed interest and purchased Mathewson for themselves. However, just weeks later, they traded Mathewson to the Giants for Amos Rusie.
The trade was indeed unusual. Rusie had won 246 games during his career, but hadn't pitched in the previous two seasons. Rusie would never win a game for the Reds, retiring following the 1901 season.
Meanwhile, Mathewson would go on to win 372 games in the next 16 seasons for the Giants, making the trade one of the most lopsided in baseball history.
14. The Snodgrass Muff
The 1912 World Series was a grueling affair between the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants, a series in which seven games weren't even enough to decide the championship.
With Game 2 called after darkness and the teams tied 2-2 after 11 innings, Game 8 was played at Fenway Park to settle the epic battle. The Giants had future Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson ready, and after nine innings, the teams were tied 1-1.
The Giants scratched a run across in the top of the 10th, and the Sox would need a rally in the bottom of the frame to have a chance.
Boston manager Chick Stahl sent up Clyde Engle to pinch-hit for Smoky Joe Wood, who had come on in relief in the eighth. Engle lifted a lazy fly ball to center fielder Fred Snodgrass, who camped under it and promptly dropped it for an error.
The Sox would go on to score two unearned runs to take the victory 3-2 and become World Series champs.
13. Leon Durham Continues Cubs' Misery
In 1984, the Chicago Cubs were locked in a battle with the San Diego Padres for the right to get to their first World Series since 1945. Hope was abundant in Chicago, as the Cubs held a 3-2 lead in the decisive game of the NLCS heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Would the long-suffering Cubs fans finally experience joy?
The inning started innocently enough, with the Padres' Carmelo Martinez singling to open the inning. Shortstop Garry Templeton then sacrificed him to second.
Tim Flannery then stepped up to the plate and hit a routine grounder to first. However, Cubs first baseman Leon Durham let the ball trickle right through his legs for an error, scoring Martinez and tying the game.
Cubs starting pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, clearly rattled at that point, gave up three more hits, plating three more runs and the Cubs' hopes of reaching their first World Series in 39 years were dashed.
Durham also contributed to his ignominy by hitting only .150 during the series as well.
12. Mickey Owen Passed Ball
During the first four years of Mickey Owen’s career, he was considered an excellent defensive catcher, and in his first year with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941, Owen set a record for most errorless fielding chances by a catcher with 508 perfect attempts. But later that year, Owen made a gaffe that made it to the top of most lists regarding the biggest blunders in MLB history.
With the Dodgers trailing in the World Series two games to one to the favored New York Yankees, the Dodgers held a 4-3 lead in the top of ninth inning. With two outs, Yankees hitter Tommy Henrich swung and missed at strike three, tying the series at two games apiece.
But wait! Owen, is unable to hang onto strike three, and the ball bounds back toward toward the first base dugout. Henrich reaches first base safely, and the Dodgers, clearly rattled, allowed the Yankees to rally and score four runs to take Game 4, 7-4. The following day, the Yankees captured Game 5 to win the 1941 World Series.
11. Grady Little and His Insistence on Going with a Gassed Martinez
I can still see the image in my head. Pedro Martinez, in the dugout after pitching seven strong innings, is being congratulated by his teammates for a job well done. Martinez's night appeared to be over. Even FOX was showing images of Martinez in the dugout, and commenting on the fact that Pedro was done.
He had gone seven innings, allowed just two runs on six hits, and had thrown over 100 pitches.
What was Grady thinking?
Pedro recently commented that he was OK to pitch the eighth inning, but judging from his body language, he certainly thought his night was over.
What was Grady thinking?
10. Sure-Handed Alex Gonzalez Boots It
It's amazing to me that Steve Bartman is still being blamed for the demise of the Chicago Cubs in the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.
I'm not saying the play didn't affect the game somewhat, but how about the play two batters later?
After Marlins second baseman walked following the Bartman interference call, Ivan Rodriguez singled to drive in Juan Pierre.
Now, there's one out, with runners on first and second. Miguel Cabrera hits a tailor-made ground ball to shortstop. Alex Gonzalez has fielded that same ground ball thousands of times in his sleep during batting practice. Yet, on this night, he boots it! Instead of an inning ending double play, the bases are now loaded, and the Cubs REALLY implode.
Still think Steve Bartman is the villain?
9. Don Denkinger's Blown Call in 1985 World Series
On Oct. 26, 1985, the St. Louis Cardinals had a three games to two lead in the World Series over the Kansas City Royals, and were leading 1-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6, just three outs away from their possible 10th World Series championship.
With closer Todd Worrell on in relief, Royals hitter Jorge Orta hit a slow roller to Cards first baseman Jack Clark. Worrell raced over to cover the bag, and Clark flipped to Worrell for the first out.
But wait! First base umpire Don Denkinger calls Orta safe!
Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog charged out of the dugout to argue the call, but to no avail. The blown call led to the Royals scoring two runs on a pinch-hit single by Dane Iorg to take Game 6 3-2, and the Royals would on to win Game 7 as well for their first-ever World Series title.
8. The Strike of 1994
On Aug. 12, 1994, after MLB owners and players were unable to resolve differences that had been brewing for years, a work stoppage ensued.
Mediators tried to get the two sides talking with an aim to end the strike as quickly as possible, however, no progress was made whatsoever, and MLB acting commissioner Bud Selig was forced to cancel the rest of the season, including the World Series, on Sept. 14.
The strike lasted 232 days and officially ended on Apr. 2, 1995, with play to be resumed on Apr. 25.
The strike had a lasting effect on fans, who were absolutely outraged over the greed and petty acts of behavior displayed by both sides during the strike. As a result, attendance dropped over 20 percent from 1994 to 1995, and television ratings were significantly affected as well.
7. The Infamous "Merkle's Boner"
Fred Merkle ended up having a long career in baseball, playing 20 seasons for four teams. However in 1908, Merkle made one blunder that forever defined his career.
On Sept. 23, 1908, Merkle was the first baseman for the New York Giants, and the Giants were playing the Chicago Cubs. The two teams were at the top of the National League and were fighting for the pennant.
Merkle came to the plate with the scored tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth. With Moose McCormick on first base, Merkle singled McCormick to third. The next batter, Al Bidwell, followed with another single, scoring McCormick with the winning run.
Giants fans raced onto the field to celebrate the win, and Merkle, without touching second base, trotted back to the dugout. Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers noticed Merkle had not touched second base, retrieved the ball from the outfield, and touched second, appealing to umpire Hank O’Day who ruled Merkle out on the play. Since Merkle did not touch second, McCormick’s run was disallowed, returning the game to a tie.
The game would be suspended because the fans would not clear the field, and back then, suspended games were played all over again. The Giants and Cubs made up the suspended game at the end of the season with the Cubs winning and moving on to the World Series.
Merkle’s embarrassing moment would forever be called Merkle’s Boner.
To be fair, however, the accounts of Merkle's play are somewhat sketchy. Mike Cameron, author of the book Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle, believes that the entire play was taken out of context.
“A seed had been planted 19 days earlier, in a game between the Cubs and the Pirates," Cameron said. The Cubs had appealed a similar play, and the same darn umpire, Hank O’Day, he turned it down, on the basis that he was watching something else on the field and he did not see the play in question. But he was ready to make the call the next time, and no one on the Giants knew that.
“I think the key word in all this is context. Some people look at all this, and they just don’t understand how the game had been played up to that point. So they don’t have the context to make a judgment. It changed all that day, and Merkle had no forewarning. And then everything that ensued after that, he just paid the ultimate price."
6. The Collapse of the 1964 Phillies
In 1964, the Philadelphia Phillies, who had been mired in mediocrity for the previous five decades, were in the midst of their best season since 1950, the last year they won the National League pennant. With just 12 games to play in the season, the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Monday, Sept. 21, the Phillies lost to the Cincinnati Reds 1-0, the only run coming from a rare steal of home by Reds third baseman Chico Ruiz.
That loss started a slide for the Phillies that would see them lose 10 games in a row, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals, who clinched the pennant with the final win of the series.
It marked one of the single worst collapses by any team in major league history, forever becoming known as the “phold.”
5. Jeffrey Maier
The title pretty much says it all—12-year-old fan Jeffrey Maier certainly got more than his 10 minutes' worth of fame on Oct. 9, 1996.
With Baltimore Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco drifting back on a long fly ball off the bat of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Tarasco appeared to have a bead on it when Maier decided he wanted the ball.
He eventually got the ball alright, but the brouhaha that ensued also made Maier a household name.
4. Babe Ruth Thinks He's Ty Cobb
The 1926 World Series featured the favored New York Yankees against the St. Louis Cardinals, who were playing in their first-ever Fall Classic. In spite of their favored status, the Yankees found themselves tied with the Cards after six games.
Game 7 was a tight affair, as the Cardinals rode a three-run fourth inning and a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. After Cardinals reliever Pete Alexander retired the first two batters in the ninth, Alexander walked Babe Ruth. With Ruth on first and two out, Bob Meusel strode to the plate for the Bronx Bombers, representing the winning run.
However, Ruth decided to try and put himself into scoring position by attempting to steal second base. Ruth was thrown out by Cardinals catcher Bob O’Farrell, and the Cardinals had their first ever World Series championship.
It remains the only World Series ever to have ended on a caught stealing.
3. Jim Joyce Blows a Perfect Game
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was moments away from becoming only the 21st pitcher to ever throw a perfect game, and what would be the third perfect game in the span of less than a month, a rare feat indeed.
However, one man got in the way—first base umpire Jim Joyce.
Joyce, who later manned up and admitting blowing the call, called Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald safe on a play at first with Galarraga fielding the throw from first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
The play was eerily similar to Don Denkinger's blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, when Jorge Orta was called safe in similar fashion.
2. Little Roller Up Along First...Behind the Bag!
On Oct. 25, 1986, Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner made an error that will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of Red Sox fans.
While the Red Sox finally broke through and won the 2004 and 2007 World Series, Buckner's gaffe is till etched in lore for all to see, time and time again.
One question is still asked by many Red Sox fans. For the love of God, John McNamara, why didn't you put Dave Stapleton in the game?
Oh, that's right, we discussed that earlier in this slideshow.
1. Harry Frazee Sells Babe Ruth to New York Yankees
In 1919, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee made a transaction that forever tarnished his name and saddled the Red Sox with a supposed curse that would not be lifted until 2004.
In late December of that year, Frazee sold Red Sox star pitcher Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 plus a $300,000 loan for the mortgage on Fenway Park. While many reports at the time pointed to Frazee using the money to finance his play No, No, Nanette, those reports have since been disputed and debunked.
Whatever the reason, Frazee’s transaction turned him into an instant pariah and sparked the Curse of the Bambino, which was finally put to rest with the Red Sox World Series victory in 2004.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.