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50 Greatest Moments in World Series History

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2017

50 Greatest Moments in World Series History

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    MLB fans across the world have been waiting the 108th edition of the World Series, and it is finally upon us, featuring the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers.

    Since 1903, the Fall Classic has provided baseball with a thrilling final series to determine the best in Major League Baseball.

    History has often shown us that it's not always the best team that wins, but the hottest. The 1914 Boston Braves can certainly shine as an example of that fact.

    The World Series has also provided a bevy of memories for fans to store away and cherish. Both good and bad, these memories have always provided much debate as to which is the greatest of all.

    While we await the beginning of the 2012 World Series on Wednesday night, we will take a look at 50 of the greatest plays in World Series history.

Honorable Mention: 1989 World Series: Loma Prieta Earthquake

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    We would be remiss if we didn't look back at the events that unfolded on Oct. 17, 1989.

    Just minutes before the start of Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, an earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the Bay Area.

    Game 3 suddenly became an afterthought and was suspended for 10 days.

Honorable Mention: Babe Ruth Ends 1926 World Series with Attempted Steal

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    50. 1909 World Series: Babe Adams

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      49. 2002 World Series: Anaheim Angels Complete Comeback for First-Ever Title

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        48. 1962 World Series: Willie McCovey's Screaming Line Drive Ends Giants Quest

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        47. 2001 World Series: Scott Brosius Blast in Ninth Gives Yankees Life

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          46. 2001 World Series: Derek Jeter Earns New Moniker

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            Prior to Scott Brosius' memorable two-run blast in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees, shortstop Derek Jeter provided a memorable blast of his own.

            His home run in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 4 didn't just win the game for the Yankees, it forever earned Jeter the nickname Mr. November.

          45. 1929 World Series: Athletics' Stirring Comeback in Game 4

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            The Chicago Cubs have had to endure a 104-year drought, failing to win a World Series title since 1908.

            The 1929 World Series provided a perfect example as to why many fans believe the Cubs are cursed.

            Enjoying an 8-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Game 4 certainly seemed to be in hand, giving the Cubs the chance to tie the series at two games apiece.

            That's when the "Mack Attack" struck.

            Connie Mack's A's rallied for a 10-run seventh inning, aided by a crucial error committed by Cubs center fielder Hack Wilson, giving the A's an improbable 10-8 victory.

            The A's finished the Cubs off two days later, extending the Cubs' misery.

          44. 1957 World Series: Lew Burdette's Three Wins Deliver Title to Milwaukee

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            In 1957, the Milwaukee Braves took on the defending champion New York Yankees. For the Braves, it was only their third appearance in the Fall Classic.

            Starting pitcher Lew Burdette made sure it was one of their most memorable.

            With the series tied at three games apiece, the Braves turned to Burdette in Game 7. Burdett had already delivered two victories and was pitching on just two days' rest.

            Burdette tossed a masterpiece, firing a seven-hit shutout to defeat the Bronx Bombers and give the Braves their second World Series championship in franchise history.

          43. 1935 World Series: Goose Goslin Delivers in Walk-off Fashion

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          42. 1975 World Series: Dwight Evans Makes Miraculous Catch to Extend Game 6

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            41. 1947 World Series: Cookie Lavagetto Breaks Up No-Hitter and Wins Game 4

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            40. 1905 World Series: Christy Mathewson Delivers Pure Dominance

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              39. 1968 Detroit Tigers: Mickey Lolich Saves the Best for Last

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                The 1968 Detroit Tigers reached the World Series on the strength of a 31-win season from starter Denny McLain. No pitcher has reached that mark since.

                However, it was fellow rotation mate Mickey Lolich who delivered most when it counted.

                Lolich, 17-9 with a 3.19 ERA during the regular season, gave the Tigers a complete-game victory in Game 2, tying the series at one game apiece.

                Lolich then left the best for last.

                With the Tigers trailing the series three games to one, Lolich came through in Game 5 once again. Lolich's second complete-game performance helped the Tigers stave off elimination as they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3.

                After McLain forced a seventh and deciding game with a complete-game win in Game 6, Tigers manager Mayo Smith once again gave the ball to Lolich, this time on just two days' rest.

                Facing the mighty Bob Gibson, Lolich outshined the future Hall of Fame pitcher, throwing a complete-game five-hitter to complete the Tigers comeback and their first World Series victory since 1945.

              38. 1963 World Series: Sandy Koufax Establishes New Record of Dominance

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                On Oct. 2, 1963, the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series. The Dodgers sent ace Sandy Koufax to the mound at Yankee Stadium.

                Koufax showed dominant stuff from the start. While he gave up two runs on six hits, he struck out 15 Yankees that afternoon, establishing a new World Series mark for strikeouts in one game.

              37. 1968 World Series: Bob Gibson Bests Sandy Koufax

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                Five years prior to the 1968 World Series, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax established a new record by striking out 15 Yankees in Game 1 of the 1963 Fall Classic.

                St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson then set out on a mission of his own.

                Pitching in Game 1 against the Detroit Tigers, Gibson was on top of his game. By the time he was done, Gibson had thrown a five-hit shutout, striking out 17 Tigers in the process to eclipse Koufax's old mark.

              36. 1941 World Series: Mickey Owen Passed Ball Keeps Dodgers Winless in Series

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                35. 1949 World Series: Tommy Henrich Comes Up Clutch

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                  34. 1920 World Series: A Rare Feat and First in Postseason History

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                    The 1920 World Series matched the Cleveland Indians up against the Brooklyn Robins.

                    Game 5 of the series saw two World Series' firsts—Indians outfielder Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam in a World Series, and Tribe pitcher Jim Bigby registered the first home run ever hit by a pitcher, a three-run blast in the third inning.

                    It was after that things got really interesting, however.

                    The Robins had put runners on first and second with no one out. Robins hitter Clarence Mitchell hit a screaming line drive, but right at Indians second baseman Bill Wambsganss. Wambsganss stepped on second base to retire Pete Kilduff, then tagged out Otto Miller who was running from first base to complete the first and only unassisted triple play in World Series history.

                  33. 2004 World Series: An 86-Year Curse Is Finally Exorcised

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                    32. 1912 World Series: The Infamous Snodgrass Muff

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                      31. 1924 World Series: Legendary Pitcher Walter Johnson Finally Gets His Ring

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                        In 1924, Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson once again put together a terrific season, posting a 23-7 record with a 2.72 ERA.

                        This time, however, the 36-year-old Johnson was finally headed to the World Series.

                        It took 18 years, but Johnson finally got there. Johnson, however, was treated rudely in his Fall Classic debut, losing both Games 1 and 5.

                        With the series knotted at three games apiece, Johnson was given another chance.

                        With the Senators and New York Giants tied at 3-3 in Game 7, Johnson came on relief in the ninth inning. This time, Johnson delivered, allowing no runs on just three hits in four innings. His Senators would finally score in the bottom of the 12th inning on an Earl McNeely double, giving Johnson and the Senators their first and only World Series title.

                      30. 1957 World Series: Eddie Mathews Delivers in Game 4 for Braves

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                      29. 1932 World Series: Did Babe Ruth Call It or Didn't He?

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                        28. 1985 World Series: Don Denkinger Blown Call

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                          27. 1980 World Series: Phillies Phinally Phind Way to Win

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                            Sorry about the headline, I got a little crazy there.

                            Nonetheless, in 1980 the Philadelphia Phillies finally exorcised some demons of their own.

                            Throughout their history, the Phillies had never been able to call themselves champions.

                            But after reliever Tug McGraw struck out Kansas City Royals hitter Willie Wilson with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning in Game 6, the Phillies could finally add the word 'champion' to their resume.

                          26. 2005 World Series: Scott Who?

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                            In 2005, the Chicago White Sox reached the World Series for the first time in 46 years, and they acted like they had been there recently with an easy Game 1 victory over the Houston Astros.

                            Game 2 proved to be much more of a challenge.

                            With the score knotted at 6-6, the White Sox came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning at U.S. Cellular Field.

                            With Astros closer Brad Lidge on the mound with one out, left fielder Scott Podsednik came to the plate. Podsednik had not homered in the entire 2005 season covering 507 at-bats.

                            That changed with one swing. Game over, White Sox up two games to none.

                          25. 2009 World Series: Hideki Matsui Powers Yankees to 27th World Championship

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                            In 2009, the New York Yankees were back in the World Series for the first time since 2003, facing the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.

                            The Yankees took a three games to two lead and were looking to close things out at Yankee Stadium in Game 6.

                            Designated hitter Hideki Matsui closed it out almost on his own.

                            Matsui opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with a mammoth two-run shot off Phillies starter Pedro Martinez. Matsui would inflict further damage in third, producing a two-run single off Martinez to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

                            Matsui struck out again in the fifth, doubling to right field off reliever J.A. Happ to drive in two more runs, effectively putting the game away for the Yankees.

                            Matsui tied a World Series record for most RBI in a single World Series game (Bobby Richardson, 1960).

                            It turned out to be the final game of Matsui's Yankee career—he signed with the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason.

                          24. 1955 World Series: Sandy Amoros Preserves First-Ever Win for Dodgers

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                          23. 1965 World Series: Sandy Koufax Delivers Once Again

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                          22. 1946 World Series: Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash for Home Sinks Red Sox

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                          21. 2003 World Series: Alex Gonzalez Ties Series in Walk-off Fashion

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                            There isn't much that's more thrilling in baseball than an extra-inning World Series game.

                            Walk-off home runs to end those games are even more so.

                            The Florida Marlins were trailing the New York Yankees two games to one in the 2003 World Series.

                            The Yankees tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth inning courtesy of a two-run triple by pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra.

                            The game dragged on into the 12th inning. With Yankees reliever Jeff Weaver working his second inning in relief, shortstop Alex Gonzalez strode to the plate to start the bottom of the 12th.

                            On a 3-2 pitch, Gonzalez ended the four hour, three minute game with a towering blast, giving the Marlins a 4-3 victory and tying the series at two games apiece.

                          20. 1995 World Series: Tom Glavine Delivers a Championship to Atlanta

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                            In 1995, the Atlanta Braves were making their third World Series appearance in five seasons, having lost in 1991 and 1992 to the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays.

                            This time, they were facing the powerful Cleveland Indians.

                            They took a three games to two lead heading into Game 6 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Manager Bobby Cox handed the ball to Tom Glavine, who had picked up the win in Game 2.

                          19. 1969 World Series: Gil Hodges Uses Shoe Polish to Deliver Title

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                            18. 1970 World Series: Brooks Robinson's Amazing Defensive Work

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                            17. 1997 World Series: Edgar Renteria Brings Joy to South Florida

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                            16. 2001 World Series: Luis Gonzalez Delivers Joy for Another Expansion Team

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                              15. 1984 World Series: Kirk Gibson Delivers His First Fall Classic Bomb

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                                The Detroit Tigers were leading the San Diego Padres three games to one heading into Game 5 of the 1984 World Series.

                                Nursing a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tigers put two runners on base against reliever Rich Gossage.

                                After a ground-out moved the runners to second and third, Gossage elected to pitch to center fielder Kirk Gibson rather than issuing him an intentional walk. Gossage could have set up a force at any base, but in the past he had owned Gibson.

                                His decision proved to the wrong one. Gibson drilled a three-run home run into the right field seats, giving the Tigers an insurmountable 8-4 lead on their way to winning the World Series in five games.

                              14. 1975 World Series: Bernie Carbo Delivers Pinch-Hit Magic

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                              13. 2011 World Series: Albert Pujols Joins Exclusive List

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                                In the 2011 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers had split the first two games at Busch Stadium.

                                Returning to Rangers Ballpark for Game 3, the Rangers were looking to use their home-field advantage to their advantage.

                                Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols used it to his instead.

                                Pujols smashed three home runs on his way to a 5-for-6 night with six RBI as the Cardinals crushed the Rangers 16-7.

                                For Pujols, it was a record-tying night in three ways—his three home runs tied Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson for the most in a single World Series game, his four hits in four consecutive innings tied a record, and his six RBI matched the record held by Bobby Richardson and Hideki Matsui.

                              12. 1996 World Series: Jim Leyritz Delivers Comeback Magic in Game 3

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                                11. 1991 World Series: Jack Morris Delivers 10-Inning Masterpiece

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                                  10. 2011 World Series: David Freese Delivers Game 6 Magic

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                                    Game 6 of the 2011 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers was a wild and wooly affair. David Freese's two-out, two-run triple in the ninth inning tied the game 7-7.

                                    The 10th inning featured even more intense action, as Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton struck for a two-run home run off Cardinals closer Jason Motte to give the Rangers a 9-7 lead.

                                    However, in the bottom of the 10th the Cardinals again struck back with Ryan Theriot producing a run-scoring groundout and Daniel Descalso tying the game once again with a run-scoring single.

                                    The Rangers were held scoreless in the top of the 11th, and their manager Ron Washington inserted reliever Mark Lowe for the bottom of the frame.

                                    Freese stepped in against Lowe. After working the count full, Freese crushed a solo shot over the center field fence to give the Cardinals a walk-off 10-9 win and send the series to a seventh and deciding game.

                                  9. 1988 World Series: A Hobbling Kirk Gibson Delivers Pinch-Hit Magic

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                                    The 1988 World Series pitted the underdog Los Angeles Dodgers against the heavily favored Oakland Athletics.

                                    Game 1, however, was a tight affair. The A's held a slim 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, and closer Dennis Eckersley was on the hill.

                                    Eckersley quickly got the first two outs, then allowed a walk to Mike Davis.

                                    Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda called upon a hobbling Kirk Gibson to pinch hit for pitcher Alejandro Pena. Gibson's knees were pretty well shot, and prior to the game he could barely even walk.

                                    But for one shining moment, Gibson's injury woes were a thing of the past, and his one and only at-bat of the World Series propelled the Dodgers to an improbable five-game series win.

                                  8. 1991 World Series: And We'll See You Tomorrow Night!

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                                    Those were the words of immortal play-by-play man Jack Buck in describing the magic that occurred in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves.

                                    Center fielder Kirby Puckett strode to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning with the game locked in a 3-3 tie. The Twins were facing elimination down three games to two, and some magic was needed to give the Twins just one more chance.

                                    Puckett provided that magic.

                                  7. 1977 World Series: Reggie Jackson Becomes Mr. October

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                                  6. 1993 World Series: Joe Carter Delivers Second Walk-Off to Win a Series

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                                    5. 1954 World Series: Willie Mays' Catch in Game 1

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                                      The New York Giants entered the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians as heavy underdogs. The Indians won an astounding 111 games on their way to the American League pennant.

                                      However, Giants center fielder Willie Mays took the wind out of the sails of the Indians offense with one incredible catch.

                                      His over-the-shoulder catch in a full stride off the bat of Vic Wertz has become well-known as one of the most celebrated catches in postseason history.

                                      The Giants would sweep the Indians in four games.

                                    4. 1986 World Series: An Error That Became Known in Infamy

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                                    3. 1975 World Series: Carlton Fisk Waves a Home Run Fair?

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                                      Well, no, that's not quite what happened. No man possesses those kind of powers.

                                      But Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk was certainly hoping his shot in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was in fact a fair ball.

                                      It was, bouncing off the foul pole to give the Red Sox a thrilling 6-5 victory in a game that MLB Network called the greatest postseason game ever played.

                                    2. 1956 World Series: Perfection for Larsen in Game 5

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                                      There is nothing quite like watching a perfect game in Major League Baseball. In fact, it's only happened 23 times.

                                      And only once in World Series play.

                                      In Game 5 of the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers, Yankees starting pitcher Don Larsen was attempting to bounce back from a horrible effort in Game 2. Larsen gave up four runs on just one hit and four walks in 1.2 innings, so redemption was on is mind at the start of Game 5.

                                      Redemption wasn't the only thing Larsen delivered on that day.

                                    1. 1960 World Series: Bill Mazeroski Delivers Only Game 7 Walk-Off Home Run Ever

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                                      Game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates could not have possibly delivered more in the way of back-and-forth craziness.

                                      The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game at 9-9.

                                      In the bottom of the ninth, Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski came to the plate to face reliever Ralph Terry.

                                      Mazeroski took Terry's second pitch and launched it into the left field seats at Forbes Field, launching the local fans into a frenzy as the Pirates won the game 10-9 and the city's first World Series triumph in 35 years.

                                      It was the first and only walk-off home run ever hit in a seventh and deciding game of any World Series in MLB history.


                                      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.

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