2011 World Series: The 10 Greatest Game 7s in Fall Classic History

Chuck PlattCorrespondent IIOctober 28, 2011

2011 World Series: The 10 Greatest Game 7s in Fall Classic History

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    The Cardinals' dramatic Game 6 win forced a Game 7 for the 2011 World Series.

    The Fall Classic has gone seven 32 times, a relatively high number considering the Rangers and Cardinals played in the 107th World Series.

    The World Series hasn't had a Game 7 since 2002, when the Angels topped the Giants in Anaheim.

    Not all seventh games are created equal.

    While it's tough to call any Game 7 anti-climatic, some Game 7s are obviously better than others.

    This list ranks the best of the bunch, the top 10 Game 7s in World Series history.

    If last night's thriller is any indication, tonight's Game 7 may end up having a place on this list.

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Honorable Mention

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    1952 (Yankees vs. Dodgers)

    The New York Yankees successfully defended their 1951 World Series title with a tight 4-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

    Both teams scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. The Yankees tacked on an additional run in both the sixth and seventh.

    In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out. Yankees' manager, Casey Stengal, summoned Bob Kuzava, who induced a pop-up to third from Duke Snider for out two.

    Next up was Jackie Robinson. Robinson hit a weak pop-up in front of the mound. Kuzava freezes, looking around at his infielders, and second baseman Billy Martin comes out of nowhere and makes a shoe-string catch to save a run and get the Yankees out of the inning.

10. 1926 (Cardinals vs. Yankees)

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    If the Yankees hadn't gone on to win three more World Series with Babe Ruth, the Bambino might be most remembered for his boneheaded play that ended the 1926 World Series.

    A duel between two future Hall of Fame aces had lived up to the hype—Waite Hoyt had gone six for the Yanks, giving up three runs, all, however were unearned. On the other side, Jesse Haines went 6.2 for St. Louis and allowed two runs.

    With the Cardinals still leading 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Ruth drew a dramatic two-out walk on a full count off of another Hall of Famer, Pete Alexander.

    On first with clean-up hitter Bob Meusal at the plate, Ruth tried to steal second on Alexander's first pitch to Meusal.

    Ruth was out by "a good 10 feet" on a bullet from Cardinals' catcher Bob O'Farrell to second baseman Rogers Hornsby.  

9. 1962 (Yankees vs. Giants)

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    Two years after giving up Bill Mazeroski's historic home run, the Yankees' Ralph Terry got his moment in the sun, pitching a complete game shutout in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series.

    The Giants' Jack Sanford went seven strong, surrendering the game's only run on a Tony Kubek double play in the fifth that scored Bill Skowron.

    Terry gave up four hits while walking none and striking out four. 

    The heart of the Giants' lineup made things interesting in the ninth. Matty Alou led off with a bunt single and then Terry struck out the next two batters. 

    With two down, Willie Mays hit a long fly ball to the right field corner. Right fielder Roger Maris expertly played the wall at Candlestick. Respecting Maris' strong arm, Alou pulled up at third.

    With runners at the corners, Willie McCovey came to the plate. Terry threw a tight fastball to McCovey, who hit a sinking line drive right at second baseman Bobby Richardson, who gloved the ball for the winning out.

    It was back-to-back Series wins for New York; they wouldn't return to the Fall Classic until 1977.

    San Francisco, meanwhile, wouldn't play in another World Series until 1989s fabled "Earthquake Series."

8. 1946 (Cardinals vs. Red Sox)

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    Tied 3-3 with two outs in the eighth inning, Enos Slaughter drew a walk, bringing Harry Walker to the plate.

    Red Sox starting center fielder, Dom DiMaggio, had come up limping in the top of the inning following his two-RBI single, and Leon Culberson had taken his place in the field.

    With the count two-and-one, St. Louis put on a hit-and-run. Walker hit a short liner to left center, fielded by Culberson. Culberson bobbled the ball slightly before gunning it in to his cutoff man, shortstop Johnny Pesky.

    Pesky took Culberson's throw as Slaughter ran through a stop sign from his third base coach, Mike Gonzalez.

    Pesky was slow turning toward the plate and his throw was weak. Slaughter scored on a spectacular play known simply as "Slaughter's Mad Dash."

    Pesky appears to check Walker at first before throwing home.

    Did Pesky not think Slaughter would go home? Was his weak throw the result of being stunned to see exactly that happening?

    The Red Sox would lose another three World Series' in seven games—including the ’67 Series to the Cards—before breaking through in 2004 against, who else, St. Louis.

7. 1997 (Marlins vs. Indians)

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    The Florida Marlins set a record by winning the World Series in only their fifth year of existence. (This mark was broken in 2001 by the Arizona Diamondbacks.)

    The Marlins were also the first wild card team to win the Series.

    Florida got to the Indians' closer Jose Mesa in the ninth on a sac fly by Craig Counsell, scoring Moises Alou from third.

    The game went to extra innings. In the 11th, Edgar Renteria hit a bases-loaded single just up over the glove of pitcher Charles Nagy into center, plating Counsell for the Series-winning run. 

6. 1924 (Senators vs. Giants)

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    This Game 7 must have been a true dandy.

    The Washington Senators won the 1924 World Series, the city's first and only title, on a 12th-inning, walk-off double in Game 7 at Griffith Stadium.

    The Senators were down 3-1 in the eighth and rallied to tie the game, 3-3.

    Walter Johnson came in to pitch for Washington in the ninth and went the rest of the way.

    In the 12th inning, with two on and one out, Senators' center fielder Earl McNeely hit a double to left, scoring catcher Muddy Ruel from second base. 

5. 1965 (Dodgers vs. Twins)

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    Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale famously showed up to Metropolitan Stadium not sure which of them would start Game 7.

    Dodgers' manager Walt Alston took his lefty, Koufax, on two days' rest while a fully-rested Drysdale was ready to come on in relief.

    The Twins sent Jim Kaat to the mound. He too was pitching on only two days' rest.

    Kaat got into trouble in the fourth. Lou Johnson hit a solo shot off of the left field foul pole. Ron Fairly doubled and Wes Parker drove him in with a single.

    They proved to be the game's only runs and Twins manager, Sam Mele, pulled Kaat, who had failed to record an out in the fourth.

    Koufax chugged ahead. His curveball was coming off flat, so he pitched almost exclusively with his fastball for most of the game.

    The Twins only threat came in the fifth with two on a one out, however Koufax induced a pair of grounders to get of the inning unscathed. 

    The Twins managed a lone hit the rest of the way, a ninth-inning single, as Koufax finished what he started, tossing a complete game shutout, his second of the Series, on three hits and 10 strikeouts.

    It was the Dodgers second title in three years. They returned to the Series the following fall and were swept by the Orioles. They wouldn't return to the Series until 1974 and wouldn't win again until 1981.

    The Twins wouldn't return to the Series until their 1987 seven-game win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

4. 1912 (Red Sox vs. Giants)

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    This Game 7 was actually a Game 8.

    Game 2 had been called on account of darkness tied 6-6 after 11 innings. The Red Sox remained up 1-0 and an additional game was tacked on.

    Game 8 was tied 1-1 after nine. Christy Mathewson, the Giants' starter, was still going strong.

    In extra frames, New York struck first, on an RBI single by first baseman Fred Merkle.

    Down by a run in the bottom half of the inning, Tris Speaker came to the plate with runners at the corners and two down. Speaker hit a pop-up into foul territory in front of his own dugout. This should have been the third out and the winning play for the Giants, however the ball dropped and Speaker and the Red Sox had new life.

    Speaker hit a single scoring Clyde Engle, who, batting for Wood, had led off the inning reaching on a error.

    With the score tied at 2-2, Mathewson intentionally walked Duffy Lewis to setup the force at every base. Next up was third baseman Larry Gardner.

    Gardner hit a fly ball to Josh Devore in right. Steve Yerkes was able to tag and score, winning the Series for the Red Sox.

3. 2001 (Diamondbacks vs. Yankees)

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    In an epic conclusion to what is unquestionably the greatest Series to date, the Arizona Diamondbacks scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth against Mariano Rivera to win the 2001 World Series.

    0:28 - Mark Grace leads off with a single to center field. (David Dellucci put in as pinch runner.)

    2:04 - Damian Miller drops a bunt, fielded by Rivera, who attempts a throw to Jeter to get the out at second, however the balls sails wide into center field.

    3:48 - Jay Bell (hitting for Randy Johnson) hits a bunt back to Rivera, who goes to Scott Brosius at third to force out Dellucci. Miller to second, Bell reaches first on fielder's choice.

    4:37 - Midre Cummings comes in for Miller at second.

    6:20 - Tony Womack hits a double down the right field line. Cummings comes around, scoring the tying run, as Bell goes to third.

    8:06 - Rivera plunks Craig Counsell, loading the bases.

    9:45 - Gonzalez hits a blooper into shallow center, scoring Bell to win the game.

2. 1991 (Twins vs. Braves)

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    The 1991 World Series is arguably the greatest World Series ever. Five games were decided by one run. Four games were decided in the last at-bat. Three games went to extra innings.

    The finale to this series was a masterpiece in and of itself.

    Turning in a legendary performance, longtime Detroit Tiger Jack Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout in Game 7, giving up seven hits, walking two and striking out eight on 126 pitches.

    Morris went on to win the World Series MVP.

    On the other side, John Smoltz pitched 7.1 shutout innings for Atlanta, allowing six hits and a walk and striking out four.

    The scoreless tie persisted until the bottom of the 10th. With one out and the bases loaded, Twins' manager Tom Kelly sent injured utility man Gene Larkin to the plate for Jarvis Brown, who had pinch run for Chili Davis in the ninth.

    Larkin took the first pitch he saw deep to left center, scoring Dan Gladden for the game's only run and the Series win. 

1. 1960 (Pirates vs. Yankees)

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    There are better World Series, however there is no Game 7 better than Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

    Bill Mazeroski's ninth inning blast off of Ralph Terry is one of the most famous moments in baseball history, however there's more to this memorable game than just that magical moment.

    Whitey Ford had pitched a shutout the day before, forcing Game 7.

    Despite being played in Pittsburgh, the Yankees, as they had for the whole series, remained heavy favorites entering Game 7.

    The game itself was a back and forth affair. The Pirates began the scoring with a pair of runs in the first and second innings. The Yankees clawed back and went ahead, 5-4, after a four-run sixth.

    New York padded their lead with two more in the eighth, making it 7-4 as Pittsburgh came to bat in the bottom half of the inning.

    With two down and the score 7-5, Roberto Clemente strode in to the box to face the Yankees' Jim Coates. Coates was up on Clemente one-and-two—a strike away from sending the Yankees to the ninth with a two-run lead—when Clemente reached on a Baltimore Chop toward first base that neither Coates nor first baseman Bill Skowrun could make a play on.

    Clemente had plated the Pirates sixth run with his single. Next up was utility man Hal Smith. Again a strike away from getting out of the inning, Smith dramatically took Coates' 2-2 pitch over the left field wall, giving Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead.

    After a five-run eighth, Smith looked to be the hero with his clutch home run heading to the ninth. The Yankees, however, rallied off of Harvey Haddix. Mickey Mantle made it a one-run game with an RBI single and Yogi Berra tied it up with an RBI ground-out to first.

    So much for Pittsburgh having all of the momentum!

    Ralph Terry had gotten the last out of the eighth and returned to the mound for the bottom of the ninth. Mazerowski led off the inning. Maz took ball one. History happened on the next pitch.

    The Pirates were outscored in the series 55-27.

    Mazerowski's hit was the first walk-off homer in Series history—Joe Carter's Game 6 homer in 1993 is the only other one since.