Ross Bernstein's World Series Winners: What It Takes To Claim Baseball's Ultimate Prize is a must-read for any baseball enthusiast.
With a foreword written by Paul Molitor, Bernstein's work features interviews with more than 100 MLB players, managers and coaches to deliver their stories of glory, which range from the 1954 New York Giants to the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
Bernstein—a best-selling author who has appeared on CNN, CBS and ESPN as well as on the covers of The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and New York Times—splits his phenomenal piece into seven different chapters, which detail each aspect of a title-winning season.
With interviews from guys like Al Kaline, Joe Girardi, David Freese, Cole Hamels, Ozzie Guillen, Randy Johnson, Jim Kaat and many others, you will not be disappointed after reading what each one of these brilliant baseball minds had to say about reaching baseball's ultimate pinnacle.
I have selected one of many memorable quotes from each chapter in hopes that you'll heed my advice and check out this great read.
Here are seven memorable quotes from World Series Winners:
From chapter one, page 11, here is David Freese's account of winning his first World Series title:
I've had plenty of days of my life where I thought I wouldn't be even close to being a big-leaguer. I'm here because of everybody around me. They've put so much trust in me to accomplish not only baseball but just stuff in life, and to do this is—I'm just full of joy, finally... I've tried to soak in this whole postseason as much as I can because you never know if it's your last attempt at a title. You know, it's going to take me a little bit, I think, to realize what we've accomplished. And the funny thing is, if we go down tonight and we're NL champs, we still did a ton that nobody thought we could accomplish. And then just to win it is an incredible feeling. — David Freese, 3B, Cardinals, 2011
Freese was an enormous piece to the Cardinals offense during the postseason, as he hit .397 with five homers and 21 RBI, which is now a MLB postseason record.
After 11 solid seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs switched sides to the Yankees, where he played the hot corner from 1993-1997. Here's what Boggs had to say about the 1996 Yankees squad that won it all:
The chemistry and camaraderie that we had was phenomenal. We would go out to dinner together on the road and have 22 guys at the dinner table. That kind of stuff doesn't usually happen on teams, in any sport. That was really unique. Usually you have a lot of guys doing their own thing and going their own separate ways, but not this team. We liked each other, and we enjoyed each other's company. That's rare. It was special because that chemistry off the field translated to on the field. That had a lot to do with our success that season, no question. We also had a lot of veterans on this team, and they really wanted to win, which was a big part of it. We didn't have a lot of guys who had won a championship before. Paul O'Neill had won one with Cincinnati and Jimmy Key had won one with Toronto, but that was about it—so the guys were hungry to get that ring. That attitude became infectious. New York was starving for a championship, too. They hadn't won a World Series since 1978. We were feeling that pressure from not only the organization but from the fans. They were expecting us to come through for them. The electricity in the stands that year was unbelievable. We heard the message loud and clear. Another thing that I would say was significant was the fact that we were very professional in the way we handled ourselves that year. It was all business. We didn't do a lot of celebrating or anything like that. Sure, we had moments, but we really didn't whoop it up until after the first round of the playoffs. We left off some steam at that point, because I think we all knew that we were on the verge of something special. We didn't get too ahead of ourselves, though, because we knew that we still had some unfinished business to take care of. When Atlanta came in and won Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, we didn't panic. We just hung in there and kept doing the things that had gotten us to that point. Needless to say, we didn't lose another game. — Wade Boggs, 3B, Yankees, 1996
Boggs brought a grittiness to the Yanks squad and hit .311 and scored 80 runs for New York in '96 when he won his first and only World Series title.
Dickie Noles was a reliever for the Philadelphia Phillies for the first three years of his career, sporting a 3.89 ERA and six saves in 1980, when Philly won the title. Here's his words on what got that club going:
I would say it was after we lost a couple of big games out in San Francisco. Our general manager, Paul Owens, really let us have it after that, and it was clearly a defining moment for our ball club. He really challenged us to play better and to play more as a team. We went something like 25-7 the rest of the way and rode that momentum all the way through the playoffs. Paul's outburst was just the wake-up call that we needed at the time. He was the architect on that team and a highly regarded person in our organization. We had a lot of respect for him. — Dickie Noles, P, Phillies, 1980
I really appreciated reading this quote, in particular, because I love hearing stories about what drives clubs to win. Clearly it was the Phillies GM Paul Owens who woke the team up back in 1980.
Despite sporting a career .478 win percentage as a manager of the Minnesota Twins for 16 seasons (via baseball-reference.com), Tom Kelly managed two squads to World Series titles and was named AL Manager of the Year in 1991.
This is what his former reliever, George Frazier, had to say about the skipper:
T.K. [Tom Kelly] was a great guy. He was a quiet leader who managed the game on gut instinct. When T.K. took over, he was a young guy. In fact, he wasn't much older than I was at the time. So it was almost like he was one of the guys. One of the most interesting things about him was the fact that he hated team meetings. He had one at the beginning of the year, to lay down our goals, and then one at the end of the year to say thanks. That was it with him. He didn't say a lot, but when he spoke—it was meaningful. I will never forget the analogy he used to use with us. He would say, 'There's 25 of you guys rowing this boat, and if one of you guys drops your oar we're going to sink. Every single one of you is going to help float this river for 162 games. So don't be the guy who drops your oar.' The guys really respected him, and they played hard for him. That's why we were able to have so much success up there. He was the guy steering that boat, and we all just rowed along with him—right to the World Series title. — George Frazier, P, Twins, 1987
You've got to appreciate a great baseball analogy and this is just one of many in the game. T.K. knew how to keep his guys together, as Frazier shows us above.
There are so many different emotions and events that come with winning a World Series championship, including parades, trips to the White House and appearances on television.
Here is Chris Coste's favorite moment from the Philadelphia Phillies' 2008 title:
The parade in Philly was something I will never forget. It was insane. It was supposed to take about two hours down Broad Street, but it ended up lasting about five hours. They were expecting about a million fans, but two million showed up. It was mind-boggling seeing the amount of emotion from the fans. It was nonstop adrenaline and excitement and positive emotion when we would drive through the crowd and raise that Commissioner's Trophy. It was like winning the World Series all over again, seeing the expressions on all of those fans' faces. Honestly, I was more mentally exhausted after the parade than I was after winning the series. Imagine your most heightened emotions for nearly five hours. I was spent. What an amazing celebration, just incredible. — Chris Coste, C, Phillies, 2008.
Ticker-tape parades are fun for fans—just imagine how it feels being a player up on the float, knowing you're a world champion!
Here's Milt May's explanation of his game-winning pinch-hit single that tied the 1971 World Series at two games apiece:
I was in the bullpen, and they called to tell me to come down and get ready to hit. I used a 35-ounce bat, and I can remember picking it up and it felt too light because of the adrenaline. I grabbed one of Willie Stargell's bats, which was an ounce heavier and maybe a half-inch longer, and I actually used Willie's bat because mine felt so light. All of a sudden before the first pitch I was concerned about being too jumpy up there. It was a ball and I took it. After the first pitch I calmed down, and the next pitch I got the hit on. — Milt May, C, Pirates, 1971
Milt May played in just 49 games for the Pirates in 1971 and had 35 hits that season. I thought it was such a great story to hear him get such a big hit after hardly seeing any playing time. That was his only hit of that postseason, but boy, was it big.
I thought this was just a feel-good quote in general. Whether it's sports or any other obstacle, Jerry Koosman's statement, "anything is possible in this country" is a credit to both the U.S. and his positive attitude. Take a look for yourself:
For me it was that you can dream big. I was born and reared on a farm in western Minnesota and dreamed of winning the World Series as a kid. So to see that come true it's almost overwhelming. If I would have told somebody that I was going to win the World Series in New York City when I was a kid, they probably would have laughed. I did it, though, proving that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and work hard. It doesn't matter where you come from or how you are raised. Anything is possible in this country. Anything. — Jerry Koosman, P, Mets, 1969
Koosman was phenomenal for the Mets in '69, posting a 17-9 record with a 2.28 ERA.
Again, I encourage everyone to check out Ross Bernstein's World Series Winners: What It Takes To Claim Baseball's Ultimate Prize.
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