MLB: 10 Biggest Tear-Jerker Moments in Baseball History

Ben Shapiro@benshapironyc1 Analyst IIIApril 25, 2012

MLB: 10 Biggest Tear-Jerker Moments in Baseball History

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    With its storied history and over a century worth of stats, games and players, baseball has provided its fair share of emotional moments over the years. 

    There have been dramatic wins and losses, some that seemed completely improbable. There have been long-standing records that have been broken and legendary players who have departed the game in memorable fashions as well. 

    Here are some of baseball's most emotional moments. 

Ernie Harwell Says Farewell 9/16/09

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    "I'm sure there is no really perfect man, but Ernie comes as close to anyone as I've ever met. He has made me a better person, just by being around him." -Al Kaline 

    Baseball history is rich enough that even broadcasters can become links to not just a team, but the fans and the entire community as well. 

    It's one thing for a longtime member of that community to retire, it's another thing when that retirement is because of inoperable and likely fatal cancer. 

    Ernie Harwell was the voice of the Detroit Tigers. He had been broadcasting games for the team since 1960 and had been broadcasting baseball games since 1943. 

    At the age of 91, Harwell was diagnosed with inoperable and terminal cancer. When he spoke on the night of the video above, he wasn't just retiring, he was literally saying "goodbye." 

    Ernie Harwell passed away on May 4, 2010. 

Kirk Gibson's Walk-off 10/15/88

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    This moment is seared into my memory.

    At just 15 years old, I had seen my fair share of World Series moments already. However, I had never seen anything like this.

    The 1988 A's looked like a team destined for World Series glory. They had the "Bash Brothers" combo of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. They had Dave Stewart anchoring the starting rotation and Dennis Eckersley coming out of the bullpen.

    The Dodgers felt like a team that should have just been happy to even be in the World Series. They had upset a great New York Mets team in the NLCS and now they were playing without their best player, the eventual National League MVP Kirk Gibson.

    Gibson was out of action until the ninth inning, when he hit one of the most dramatic walk-off home runs in MLB History. The home run was the emotional inspiration that led the Dodgers to a World Series title and sunk the heavily favored A's. 

    There are situations when the passing of time reveals a moment to be not quite as jaw-dropping as it may have seemed when it happened. Not this moment though. Nearly 24 years later, this moment is even more amazing to watch and relive.  

The Tragic Death of Roberto Clemente 12/31/72

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    "Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth.'' -Baseball Almanac 

    Roberto Clemente wasn't just one of the greatest baseball players to ever patrol right field. He was also a dedicated humanitarian and one of the game's greatest players off the diamond. 

    Don't for one second think though that that in anyway detracts from what he did on the diamond. 

    The 1966 National League MVP, a 12-time Gold Glove winner and a 15-time All-Star. Clemente was a part of two different World Series Champion Pirates teams in 1960 and 1971. He was also the 1971 World Series MVP. 

    He finished his career with a .317 career batting average and exactly 3,000 hits. That 3,000th hit was recorded on September 30, 1972.

    On December 23, 1972 a serious earthquake struck the country of Nicaragua. Clemente, a dedicated believer in helping the less fortunate, was determined to help those plagued by this disaster. When he learned that several planes carrying relief supplies had been diverted by corrupt government officials in Nicaragua, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

    His flight, which was overloaded with relief supplies, took off from Puerto Rico on December 31, 1972 and crashed into the ocean shortly thereafter. His body was never found, but his story and life have served as an emotional inspiration ever since. 

Cal Ripken Breaks Lou Gehrig's Record 9/6/95

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    For years, Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak stood the test of time as one of baseball's most unbreakable records. 

    As it turns out it wasn't "unbreakable." 

    When Cal Ripken took the field for the Baltimore Orioles on May 30, 1982 he was just a highly-touted prospect playing shortstop. 

    By the time he took the field on September 6, 1995, he was a two-time MVP, 13-time All-Star and a legend. That's because between May 30, 1982 and September 6, 1995, in addition to all the accolades and accomplishments he had on his resume, one stood out above all others. 

    He had never missed a game.

    The night of September 6, 1995 was one in which Ripken went all out to show his appreciation for the dedicated Orioles fans who had stuck with the team through some great and not-so-great seasons. He walked around the baseball field shaking hands and reaching out to touch the fans who were cheering non-stop for their hero. It was a touching way to say "thanks" to the fans who were so appreciative of his dedication to his craft.   

    That consecutive game streak would not end on this historic night. It would continue all the way until September 20, 1998, ending at an seemingly "unbreakable" 2,632 consecutive games over the course of 17 major league seasons. 

Mayhem in Minneapolis 10/27/91

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    The 1991 World Series had already provided memorable and emotional moments before the first pitch of Game 7 had even been thrown. 

    Game 7 still managed to top them all though. 

    The game featured a legendary pitching duel between the Braves' John Smoltz and the Twins' Jack Morris. 

    Morris would pitch a full 10-inning masterpiece shutting out the Braves, and when Gene Larkin hit a walk-off single to win the game and series in the bottom of the 10th, the tears of loss in Atlanta were matched by those of joy in Minnesota. 

Fisk Wins Game 6 10/22/75

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    When one of the greatest games ever played is won with drama that exceeds everything that led up to that point, emotions are likely to be high.

    In Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Reds, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit a ball deep to left field in Fenway Park in the 12th inning; the home run wasn't just a walk-off, it was one in which Fisk seemed to almost will the ball to stay fair and in turn end the game in dramatic fashion.  

    As seen in the video above, the moment had so much gravity that it literally held the fans in place at Fenway well after Fisk's dramatic home run had ended the game.

    Game 6 of the 1975 World Series has stood the test of time in the memories of baseball and Red Sox fans in particular for years, and it seems to become more memorable even as it becomes more a part of the past.  

The Mets Win an Improbable Game 6 10/25/86

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    For long suffering Red Sox fans, the 1986 World Series offered up the highest of hopes and depths of despair. 

    It was the same for Mets fans, but the final results were much kinder to those rooting for the Mets than Boston fans. 

    Game 6 was once again the epicenter of emotion. The Red Sox were up 3-2 in the series and on the cusp of winning their first World Series in 68 years. They took a seemingly insurmountable 5-3 lead into the bottom of the 10th at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York. 

    The Red Sox even got the first two outs of the inning and were one out away from a World Series win against the heavily favored New York Mets. 

    It didn't happen though.

    A string of unfathomable hits, a wild pitch and in the end a heartbreaking error by Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner all conspired to break the hearts of Red Sox fans while sending Mets fans into hysterical celebrations. 

    Two days later, the Mets would win Game 7 but the emotions of Game 6 would provide the most vivid memories of the postseason. 

Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech 7/4/39

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    "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" -Lou Gehrig, 7/4/39

    Lou Gehrig was truly a legend.

    He was nicknamed "The Iron Horse" after appearing in a then record-setting 2,130 consecutive games from June 1, 1925 until April 30, 1939.

    Gehrig was one of the two main cogs in the Yankees' dynasty of the 1920s and 1930s. Along with Babe Ruth, he put up numbers that more than 80 years later remain eye-popping. 

    He won two MVP Awards and Gehrig ]had seasons like his 1927 one, where he hit .373 with 47 home runs, 175 runs batted in an an OPS of 1.240. Gehrig was a seemingly indestructible athlete and then, all of sudden, his abilities seemed to vanish. A slightly sub par 1938 season ran right into an inconceivable bad start to the 1939 season. 

    A victim of the disease that would end up bearing his namesake, Gehrig hastily retired and the Yankees granted him his own day to say "thanks" to the fans and for the fans in turn to say "thanks" to him.

    The emotions were raw and both the crowd and Gehrig seemed to sense that the end of not just a career but a man's life was taking place before their eyes. 

    Less than two years later, at the age of 37, Lou Gehrig would pass away. 

Aaron Boone Blasts the Yankees into the World Series 10/17/03

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    This was another example of two teams and two sets of fans who had their emotions pushed to the extreme ends of either joy or heartbreak with just one swing of the bat. 

    It was Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS—a showdown between two old rivals and two of baseball's oldest franchises. The Red Sox and Yankees were in a winner-take-all game with a trip to the World Series on the line.  Following an improbable Yankee comeback to tie the game in the eighth inning, the game was knotted at 5-5.

    Then Aaron Boone sent a towering blast into the left field stands off of Red Sox relief pitcher Tim Wakefield which gave the Yankees the win and the ticket to the World Series as well. 

    For the Yankees, it was another chapter in a thick book of joyous postseason memories. For the Red Sox, it was another chapter in a similar sized book, but this one read more like a horror story than a fairytale. 

The Death of Nick Adenhart 4/9/09

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    Nick Adenhart was a young, promising pitching prospect for the Los Angeles Angels.

    On April 8, 2009 Adenhart had started the fourth game of his major league career. Facing the Oakland A's Adenhart pitched very well. He went six innings, allowed no runs, gave up seven hits and had five strikeouts. 

    After the game, he was a passenger in a car with some friends; their car was hit by a drunk driver who had run a red light. Adenhart, at the age of only 22, was killed along with two of the passengers in the car. 

    The loss of three young people in a such tragic manner was devastating to baseball fans everywhere, but it was of course much more severe for those closest to Nick. Teammates, agents and of course, his heartbroken family. 

    Nick Adenhart, August 24, 1986 - April 9, 2009.