20 MLB Moments That Gave Us Goosebumps
Photo Credit: ESPN
Major League Baseball has given us some truly amazing moments through the years, from legendary home runs to heart-warming moments and everything in between.
Every so often, a truly iconic moment comes along—a moment that literally gives fans chills, and will continue to do so no matter how many times they see it.
So here is a look at 20 MLB moments that gave us goosebumps, and while they may not all invoke that response, you will be hard pressed not to react that way to at least a handful of these legendary moments.
20. Willie Mays' Catch
Photo Credit: Photoshelter blog
Game 1 of the 1954 World Series ended with a walk-off, pinch-hit, three-run home run, and that still only ranks as the second-best moment of that game thanks to Willie Mays.
With the game tied at 2-2 heading into the eighth inning, the Indians put runners on first and second to lead things off bringing first baseman Vic Wertz to the plate.
Wertz hit a two-run triple in the first inning to give the Indians their first two runs, and he put a drive into a ball to deep center field that looked like it would add to his RBI total.
Instead, Giants center fielder Willie Mays ran the ball down on a dead sprint, catching it over his shoulder for one of the greatest defensive plays in baseball history and a moment that has gone down simply as "The Catch."
19. Aaron Boone's Home Run
Photo Credit: MLB Blogs Network
With Pedro Martinez pitching great for the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS, the Yankees trailed 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Martinez took the mound in the eighth despite a high pitch count after assuring manager Grady Little that he still had something left.
After getting the first out of the inning, Martinez gave up a double to Derek Jeter, followed by an RBI single to Bernie Williams. That drew Little to the mound, but to the surprise of everyone, he left Martinez in.
Pedro then promptly gave up a double to Hideki Matsui and was finally chased after a two-run double Jorge Posada, with the score now 5-5.
It would remain 5-5 until the bottom of the 11th, as the Red Sox sent Tim Wakefield out for his second inning of relief.
Leading off for the Yankees was Aaron Boone, who had entered the game as pinch-runner in the eighth inning. He hit the first pitch he saw from Wakefield over the left-field wall to send the Yankees to the World Series.
18. Josh Hamilton Home Run Derby Performance
Photo Credit: DTD Sports Blog
Let me preface this one by saying that, in looking for a video clip of Hamilton's 2008 Home Run Derby performance I wound up watching the entire 6:45 minute video of all 28 of his first-round home runs not once, but twice.
The story of Hamilton's journey to big league stardom is a well-known one by now, as drug problems derailed the career of the former No. 1 overall pick to the point that it looked as though he'd never reach the majors.
He did though, and this was his moment of redemption, showing on a national stage that he had finally reached his potential and put his troubled past behind him.
A 28 home run round in the derby would have been a historic moment for anyone, but the fact that it came from Hamilton made the story that much better.
17. Jim Abbott Throws No-Hitter
Photo Credit: NY Daily News
Few sports stories are as uplifting as that of Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand yet still went on to be a first-round pick out of the University of Michigan and enjoyed a 10-year big league career.
He had an up-and-down career and finished with a career record of 87-108 with a 4.25 ERA in pitching for the Angels, Yankees, White Sox and Brewers.
While he had some terrific seasons early in his career with the Angels, including an 18-win year in 1991 that earned him a third place finish in Cy Young voting, the marquee moment of his career came with the Yankees.
On September 4th, 1993, he fired a no-hitter against an Indians team that featured the likes of Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle and a young Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, in what goes down as one of the most inspirational moments in sports history.
16. Babe Ruth's Called Shot
The Yankees have hit some of the most memorable home runs in baseball history, but there is none more talked about nor more revered than Babe Ruth's infamous called shot against the Cubs in the 1932 World Series.
What is fact and what is fiction about the events that transpired that day may never be known, but that only makes the legend that much more intriguing.
As it goes, the Cubs players and fans had been heckling Ruth all game, and he had been giving it right back rather than just ignoring them. Batting in the fifth inning against Cubs ace Charlie Root, Ruth took a first-pitch strike.
He is then said to have pointed to either Root, or the right-center bleachers. After taking three straight pitches, and pointing after each one, he then crushed a 2-2 offering to the same area in the right-center field bleachers where he was supposedly pointing.
Whether or not it is all true we may never know, but it is one of the stories that makes baseball great, and goes down as one of the most legendary moments in sports history.
15. Red Sox Finally Break Curse
Photo Credit: Boston.com
Entering the 2004 season, it had been 86 years since the Red Sox had last won a World Series as the "Curse of the Bambino" looked to be alive and strong.
Trailing the rival Yankees 0-3 in the best-of-seven ALCS, it looked like the Red Sox were on their way to coming up short once again.
Instead, they pulled off one of the most unlikely comebacks in professional sports history to take four straight and advance to the World Series, where they swept the Cardinals.
From the heroics of David Ortiz to the Dave Roberts steal and on to Curt Schilling's bloody sock, the postseason run was chock full of memorable moments, as 86 years of futility were erased in a matter of eight games.
14. Mark McGwire Hits No. 62
Photo Credit: Stroh's Shorts
While steroids have tainted the accomplishments of juiced-up sluggers like Mark McGwire, there is no denying that the 1998 home run race not only captivated the nation but was exactly what baseball needed to fully bounce back from the 1994 strike.
When all was said and done, both McGwire (70 HR) and Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa (66 HR) had both broken Roger Maris' single-season record of 61 home runs that had stood since 1961.
The record-breaking blow for McGwire came on September 8th, when Big Mac squeaked a Steve Trachsel offering just over the fence in left field.
His record would stand just three seasons before Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, and while he has yet to gain entry to the Hall of Fame due to his steroid use, you have to admit that his record-breaking home run was as exciting a baseball moment as there has been in the past 20 years.
13. Hank Aaron Breaks Home Run Record
Photo Credit: Encyclopedia of Alabama
After hitting 40 home runs during the 1973 season, Hank Aaron entered the 1974 season with 713 career long balls, just two short of passing Babe Ruth for the all-time mark.
Aaron turned 40 years old in 1974, as he was entering his 21st big-league season and putting the finishing touches on his Hall of Fame career. After hitting a home run on Opening Day, Aaron could very well have begun to press with all of the attention across the country and slumped with the game's most historic record set to fall.
However, it took him just two more games to pass Ruth, when he connected off of Dodgers starter Al Downing in the bottom of the fourth inning on April 8th, 1974, becoming the Home Run King and cementing his place in baseball history.
The image of fans running the bases alongside him is an iconic one, and in the eyes of many baseball purists Aaron is still baseball's home run king.
12. The Earthquake Series
Photo Credit: Total Pro Sports
With the Oakland A's taking on the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 World Series, it was quickly billed as the "Battle of the Bay." However, the Series would have a significantly different nickname after Game 3.
With Game 3 scheduled to start at 5:15 PM on October 17th, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck at 5:04 PM in San Francisco, with the stadium already filled with thousands of people.
Because of how close it was to the start of the game, this became the first earthquake ever televised on live television, and because so many people were watching the game, only 42 people died when the freeways collapsed from the quake.
There was a 10-day layoff between games, and the A's went on to win the series in four games, but the earthquake will forever be what fans remember about the 1989 World Series.
11. Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World"
Photo Credit: Sun Times
After trailing the Dodgers by as many as 13.5 games, the Giants closed out the 1951 season by winning 37 of their final 44 games to pull into a tie with the Dodgers and force a three-game playoff for the NL pennant.
The teams split the first two games, with Thomson hitting a two-run home run in Game 1 off of Ralph Branca that proved to be the difference in that game.
Don Newcombe started Game 3 for the Dodgers, and he gave up just one run through eight innings as the Dodgers led 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Newcombe gave up back-to-back singles to open the ninth and, after getting a flyout, an RBI double by Whitey Lockman chased him from the game.
The Dodgers turned to Branca to get the final two outs, and the first batter he faced was Thomson. With an 0-1 count, Thomson turned on a pitch and with one swing gave the Giants the NL pennant.
The home run would come to be known as the "Shot Heard 'Round The World," and Russ Hodges' call of the game and his repeating of "The Giants win the pennant!" is one of the most widely recognized calls in baseball history, and one that gives me goosebumps every time.
10. USA Chant Breaks out in Philadelphia Following Osama Bin Laden's Death
Photo Credit: CNN
Ranking right up there with Mike Piazza's home run on the first game back after the 9/11 tragedy, the stadium-wide chant of "U-S-A" at Citizen's Bank Park following the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death on May 1, 2011, was patriotism and sports combined at its finest.
The moment had to be an incredibly confusing one for the players on the field at the time, and you can see the puzzled look on their faces at times while the chant is going on.
It was a perfect example of just how quickly news spreads in the digital age, and one of the truly memorable MLB moments that didn't actually take place on the field.
9. Joe Carter's Home Run
Photo Credit: The Sports Riot
With the Blue Jays up 3-2 in the 1993 World Series, the Jays held a 5-1 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning with starter Dave Stewart pitching well.
However, Stewart led off the inning with a walk and a single, and a three-run Lenny Dykstra home run promptly chased him from the game. The Phillies would go on to score two more runs before the Jays got out of the seventh, and they held that 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Phillies turned to closer Mitch Williams in the ninth. Williams had 43 saves during the regular season, but he was not known as "Wild Thing" for nothing, and he walked the first batter of the inning in Rickey Henderson.
After getting a flyout, Williams then surrendered a single to Paul Molitor. That brought up Joe Carter, and he hit a 2-2 pitch to deep left field, just clearing the wall to give the Jays the win and the series.
"Touch 'em all, Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!" - Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek
8. Bobby Murcer Walk-off on Day of Thurman Munson's Funeral
Photo Credit: Complex Sports
The untimely death of Yankees catcher Thurman Munson on August 2nd, 1979, shook the baseball world, and hit the Yankees especially hard as they lost their team captain.
His best friend and teammate Bobby Murcer gave the eulogy at his funeral, which was in Ohio, before flying back to New York to take on the Orioles that night.
Despite manager Billy Martin suggesting he sit the game out, Murcer insisted on playing and he went on to honor his teammate with the most memorable game of his career.
Trailing 4-0 in the seventh inning, Murcer cut the Yankees' deficit to one with a three-run home run before delivering a two-run, walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
7. Carlton Fisk's Home Run
Photo Credit: masslive.com
On the brink of elimination down 3-2 to the Reds in the 1975 World Series, the Red Sox scored three runs on a Bernie Carbo pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 6-6, and that remained the score until the bottom of the 12th inning.
After throwing two perfect innings of relief, the Reds' Pat Darcy took the mound for his third inning of work in the 12th, and first up for the Red Sox was cleanup hitter Carlton Fisk.
After taking the first pitch he saw for a ball, Fisk lined a ball deep down the left-field line that had the distance but looked as though it may drift foul.
With Fisk waving his arms in an attempt to coax it fair, in what has become an iconic baseball moment, the ball kicked off the left-field foul pole for a home run.
The Red Sox would go on to lose Game 7, but the home run has gone down as one of the best in baseball history.
6. Ted Williams at the 1999 MLB All-Star Game
The 1999 All-Star Game featured the league's unveiling of the All-Century team as Fenway Park was packed with some of the biggest stars in the history of baseball that night.
Chief among that group was Boston icon Ted Williams, who was encircled at the mound on his way to throw out the first pitch by both All-Star rosters, as the players wanted a chance to shake the hand of the man known as the greatest hitter of all time.
Professional athletes are so revered that when we see them reduced to the level of fan, it is a remarkable moment and one that does not happen very often.
The game went on to be a memorable one as well, with Pedro Martinez tying a record with five consecutive strikeouts in front of the home crowd, but it was Williams in the pregame who stole the show.
5. Cal Ripken Jr. Becomes Baseball's "Iron Man"
Photo Credit: makefive.com
Despite greats such as Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson suiting up for the Orioles through the years, among many others, there is no doubt that the most revered player in Baltimore baseball history is Cal Ripken Jr.
One of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game, Ripken is best known for setting the consecutive-games-played mark, and the day he passed Lou Gehrig with game No. 2,131 was already a spectacle.
The day was September 6th, 1995, and, with the president on hand and a big ceremony to honor the significant achievement, Ripken sent the Baltimore crowd into a frenzy when he took a 3-0 meatball from Angels starter Shawn Boskie out to left field, going back-to-back with Bobby Bonilla in the process.
When the game was official following the fifth inning, the numbers on the warehouse across the street changed to 2,131 and he was given a 22-minute standing ovation during which ESPN did not go to commercial at any time, as he completed his memorable lap of the field.
4. Mike Piazza's Game-Winning Home Run on First Game Following 9/11
Photo Credit: Big Apple Mets Talk
For a country that was shook to its core by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a return to playing baseball in New York meant a temporary escape from what had happened for the city's people, and for the entire country it was another step toward normalcy that everyone desperately needed.
On September 21st, 2001, the Mets took on the Braves in the first baseball game played in New York since the attacks. Emotions ran high in the stadium, as a pregame ceremony honored those who lost their lives in the city where it all went down.
Each team scored a run in the fourth inning, and the Braves took the lead in the top of the eighth, as it looked like the Mets homecoming would be spoiled. However, in a moment that seemed too perfect to be true, the Mets reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the eighth when Mike Piazza hit a two-run home run off of reliever Steve Karsay, and the Mets would come away with a 3-2 victory that meant much more than a notch in the win column.
3. Kirk Gibson's Home Run
Photo Credit: LA Times
With the Athletics leading 4-3 entering the ninth inning of the first game of the 1988 World Series, they turned to their all-world closer Dennis Eckersley, who had an AL-best 45 saves and finished second in AL Cy Young voting, to slam the door in the ninth inning.
After getting two quick outs, Eck' walked pinch-hitter Mike Davis, and the Dodgers turned to Kirk Gibson to pinch-hit for the pitcher's spot. With two bad knees, Gibson hobbled up to the plate as the Dodgers' last chance. After fouling off a number of pitches, he managed to work a full count.
According to Gibson, Dodgers scout Mel Didier had told him that Eckersley throws a backdoor slider nearly exclusively when he has a 3-2 count. Gibson got the pitch he was looking for and hit it into the right-field bleachers, setting the tone for the rest of the series, which the Dodgers would win in five games.
The footage of Gibson hobbling around the bases and pumping his fist is baseball legend, and Jack Buck's call of, "I don't believe what I just saw!" is as much a part of history as the home run itself.
2. Jackie Robinson Breaks Color Barrier
Photo Credit: myhero.com
April 15th, 1947, the Boston Braves took on the Brooklyn Dodgers with the Dodgers using a three-run bottom of the seventh to pull out a 5-3 victory.
Few people will remember who played the Dodgers that day, or even who won the game. Instead it will be forever remembered as the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball.
It was a long overdue milestone, and Robinson was the perfect man for such an undertaking, as he kept composed and professional through what was one of the toughest obstacles any professional athlete has ever faced.
For fans in attendance that day or even listening to the radio, the outcome of that game was insignificant. Instead they had to have known they were witnessing something profoundly significant. And when he took the field for the first time it transcended Robinson and the Dodgers and impacted the sport itself.
1. Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech
Photo Credit: ESPN
The greatest first baseman in the history of baseball, Lou Gehrig, teamed with Babe Ruth to win seven AL pennants and six World Series titles over a 13-year span.
As fantastic as his career numbers are, as he has a stat line of .340 BA, 493 HR, 1,995 RBI, which speaks for itself, they would have been even better had he not been forced to retire prematurely.
Diagnosed with ALS, which has become commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," he was given three years to live and forced to retire at the age of 36 in 1939.
He retired on June 21st of that season, and July 4th was named "Lou Gehrig Day," where he would be properly honored for his achievements. The ceremony concluded with Gehrig addressing the fans, and while it was a simple speech, it goes down as one of the most iconic moments in sports history.
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth...So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you."
— Lou Gehrig (full speech here)
Just reading it gives me goosebumps.