Rudi's catch saved a world title for the A's and helped kick start a dynasty
There are plays that win games. There are plays that get you remembered. But there aren't many plays that can help a team start a dynasty. The number one clutch play in Oakland A's history happened 40 years ago in a stadium that no longer exists.
The player who made the catch was one of the three key components of the team: Joe Rudi. Along with Bert "Campy" Campanaris and Reggie Jackson, Rudi was a cog in the A's engine. A solid two-way player, Rudi was often overshadowed by Jackson, Campanaris and team captain Sal Bando.
But Rudi had come in to his own by 1972, with a career-high 182 hits that season. With the A's leading the series 1-0 in Game 2, Rudi's home run had helped Oakland to a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Tony Perez singled and Catfish Hunter faced Denis Menke.
Menke hits a smash to the left-field wall that would be at least extra bases and probably score Perez. Instead, Rudi made a leaping, wall defying catch that would retire Menke and force Perez back to first. The amazing catch wound up being the difference in Oakland's 2-1 victory.
Forty years later, it is still one of the most iconic plays in World Series history.
Without that catch, the Reds likely tie the series and considering how Cincinnati came back down 0-2 anyway, likely the series. Instead, the catch gave the A's enough of a cushion to win the title in seven games and kick start the most unheralded dynasty in the history of Major League baseball.