Perhaps the most cathartic play in all of baseball is the game-winning walk-off home run. By definition, its prerequisite of the hitter’s team being either tied or behind before the act only adds to the magnitude of its heroism and favorable appraisal in terms of its importance.
Unlike a play at the plate, there is no doubt about the game’s outcome once the ball leaves the yard. The walk-off round-tripper is the ultimate omega; its result is absolute.
With jubilant teammates locking arms at home plate in delicious anticipation of one’s arrival, the deafening pandemonium of a partisan crowd, and the vanquished opponents dejectedly scurrying off the field, touching them all after clearing the wall is every baseball lover’s definitive dream.
However, in the 106 years and 602 games of World Series baseball, only 14 men can lay claim to having accomplished such a feat on the grandest of stages.
Wednesday’s opening game between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers will mark the latest edition of the Fall Classic, the culmination of our national pastime’s expedition from spring to autumn—and our annual renewal of the search for the next Hercules in cleats.
While we await the first pitch, I think it would be appropriate to review the ten greatest walk-off home runs in World Series history.
And as fans around the globe tune in from Montreal to Manila, perhaps we will be treated to yet another display of postseason theater at its best this year.
It’s just a matter of who will be courageous enough—or lucky—to accept the next piece of baseball immortality.