Every MLB Team's Most Legendary Postseason Home Run

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2021

Every MLB Team's Most Legendary Postseason Home Run

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    Legends are born in October.

    That was Major League Baseball's tagline for the postseason for several years, and it has proved to be true time and time again.

    There are several ways a player can become a legend during the playoffs, but none shines through quite like a memorable home run.

    Ahead, we've selected the most legendary postseason home run for each MLB team, and while some answers are easy like Kirk Gibson's hobbled walk-off for the Los Angeles Dodgers or Bill Mazeroski's Game 7 walk-off for the Pittsburgh Pirates, others took a bit more digging or a difficult decision between two worthy candidates.

    In the end, this was largely subjective, but the impact each home run had on the game, the series and the postseason as a whole was all part of the selection process. 

    Enjoy!

AL East

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    Carlton Fisk
    Carlton FiskBettmann/Getty Images

    Baltimore Orioles: John Lowenstein (1979 ALCS, Game 1)

    The 1979 Orioles won 102 games with Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton and Gary Roenicke leading the way offensively, but it was part-time outfielder John Lowenstein who delivered the big blow in Game 1 of the ALCS against the California Angels.

    Pinch-hitting for shortstop Mark Belanger in the bottom of the 10th inning, he delivered a walk-off, three-run home run off John Montague, who was in his third inning pitching in relief of Nolan Ryan. The Orioles won the series 3-1 but lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.

           

    Boston Red Sox: Carlton Fisk (1975 World Series, Game 6)

    The walk-off home run that David Ortiz hit in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS certainly deserves a mention here, but few moments in baseball history are more memorable than Carlton Fisk waving his walk-off home run down the left-field line fair to force Game 7 in the 1975 World Series.

    A back-and-forth contest that saw Red Sox pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo launch a game-tying homer in the bottom of the eighth to force extra innings, Game 6 has its place among the greatest games in MLB history.

                

    New York Yankees: Aaron Boone (2003 ALCS, Game 7)

    Only six times in MLB history has a pennant been won with one swing of the bat, and two of those belong to the Yankees with Chris Chambliss (1976) and Aaron Boone (2003).

    Trailing 5-2 in the decisive Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the Yankees rallied for three runs in the eighth inning off Pedro Martinez. Aaron Boone entered the game as a pinch-runner for Ruben Sierra during that inning, and he stepped to the plate for his first at-bat to lead off the 11th. He turned on the first pitch he saw from knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and that was that.

          

    Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Brosseau (2020 ALDS, Game 5)

    The most legendary home run in Tampa Bay Rays history belongs to Evan Longoria during the epic Game 162 in 2011, but that was a regular-season blast, so it's not eligible for inclusion here.

    Instead, we turn to last year's ALDS and an unlikely hero in Mike Brosseau. A .333/.383/.738 hitter against left-handed pitching during the regular season, the former undrafted free agent singled off Zack Britton as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and then launched the go-ahead homer off flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman in the eighth.

          

    Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter (1993 World Series, Game 6)

    "Touch 'em all, Joe!" exclaimed Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek. "You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life."

    Indeed, few have hit a bigger home run than the walk-off shot that Carter delivered off Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams to end the 1993 World Series. With the Phillies leading 6-5 in the ninth and Game 7 looming, Rickey Henderson led off the ninth with a walk, Paul Molitor singled with one out, and Carter ended things with a three-run blast.

AL Central

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    Kirby Puckett
    Kirby PuckettJIM MONE/Associated Press

    Chicago White Sox: Scott Podsednik (2005 World Series, Game 2)

    Arguably the two most memorable home runs in White Sox history occurred in the same game during their run to a World Series title in 2005.

    Trailing 4-2 in the seventh inning of Game 2, Paul Konerko hit a grand slam to give the South Siders the lead, but the Astros answered back with two runs in the top of the ninth. Then, after hitting zero home runs in 568 plate appearances during the regular season, speedy Scott Podsednik walked it off against Brad Lidge.

         

    Cleveland Guardians: Rajai Davis (2016 World Series, Game 7)

    Shoutout to Tony Fernandez for his decisive solo home run in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1997 ALCS to send Cleveland to the World Series, but that one wasn't nearly as dramatic or memorable as the one Rajai Davis hit off Chicago Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.

    After throwing 42 pitches in Game 5 and another 20 in Game 6, Chapman was called on again to protect a 6-3 lead with a runner on and two outs in the eighth inning of Game 7. He immediately allowed an RBI double to Brandon Guyer, then served up a game-tying homer to Davis. A well-timed rain delay might have been all that kept Cleveland from riding the momentum of that home run to a World Series title.

         

    Detroit Tigers: Magglio Ordonez (2006 ALCS, Game 4)

    After beating the Yankees in four games in the ALDS, the Tigers swept the Oakland Athletics in a four-game steamrolling in the ALCS. Despite the dominance they showed in clinching a spot in the World Series, the way they went about clinching was not without dramatics.

    The Athletics led 3-2 going into the sixth inning of Game 4, but Magglio Ordonez tied things up with a solo shot off Oakland starter Dan Haren. Clinging to life, the A's called on closer Huston Street with two outs in the seventh inning. He kept the score knotted at 3-3 until there were two on and two out in the ninth when Ordonez drilled his 28th pitch of the night for a three-run, walk-off, pennant-clinching homer.

         

    Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon (2015 World Series, Game 1)

    From Mike Moustakas in Game 1 and Eric Hosmer in Game 2 of the ALDS to Alex Gordon in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Royals had no shortage of dramatic, game-winning home runs during their World Series run in 2014. 

    However, the biggest blast came in 2015 off the bat of Gordon in Game 1 of the World Series, when he hit a game-tying solo shot off New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia. The Royals were down to their final two outs but went on to win the game in the 14th inning, setting the tone for the entire series.

         

    Minnesota Twins: Kirby Puckett (1991 World Series, Game 6)

    Jack Morris authored the greatest pitching performance in postseason history with a 10-inning shutout of the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the World Series, but it took a walk-off homer from Kirby Puckett the night before for them to get there.

    After robbing Ron Gant of extra bases with a spectacular leaping catch in center field earlier in the game, Puckett delivered the biggest highlight of his career with the game-winning bomb leading off the bottom of the 11th against Charlie Leibrandt.

AL West

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    Nelson Cruz
    Nelson CruzMark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Houston Astros: Jose Altuve (2019 ALCS, Game 6)

    It was a tough call between Jose Altuve's homer to send the Astros to the World Series in 2019 or Chris Burke's game-winner in the 18th inning of Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS in what is tied for the longest game in postseason history.

    The drama leading up to Altuve's blast made it the choice. The Astros only needed to hit in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a game-tying, two-run homer from DJ LeMahieu in the top of the ninth off closer Roberto Osuna. Altuve answered with the walk-off and took home ALCS MVP.

         

    Los Angeles Angels: Scott Spiezio (2002 World Series, Game 6)

    With a 16-4 offensive explosion in Game 5, the Giants took a 3-2 series lead in the 2002 World Series. They were firmly in control of Game 6 with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning when Russ Ortiz ran into trouble for the first time.

    After giving up a pair of one-out singles, the Giants starter was lifted for reliever Felix Rodriguez, and Angels first baseman Scott Spiezio greeted him with a three-run blast. That long ball turned the tides, and the Angels took the lead the following inning before eventually winning the title.

        

    Oakland Athletics: Mark McGwire (1988 World Series, Game 3)

    The 1988 World Series will forever be remembered for Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1, but that wasn't the only walk-off blast in that series.

    Slugger Mark McGwire homered off Jay Howell in the bottom of the ninth in Game 3 to break a 1-1 tie and keep the A's from falling behind 3-0 in the series. They ultimately lost the next two games, and the McGwire homer is largely lost to history, but it's still the only World Series in MLB history with a pair of walk-off homers.

         

    Seattle Mariners: Edgar Martinez (1995 ALDS, Game 4)

    Edgar Martinez authored the greatest moment in Mariners franchise history with "The Double" in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS, and his go-ahead grand slam off Yankees closer John Wetteland in Game 4 helped pave the way for that decisive game.

    Martinez also started the scoring for Seattle in the third inning with a three-run homer off starter Scott Kamieniecki, closing the deficit to 5-3, and he finished 3-for-4 with seven RBI in an 11-8 victory.

         

    Texas Rangers: Nelson Cruz (2011 ALCS, Game 2)

    There has been just one walk-off grand slam in MLB postseason history, and it came off the bat of Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz in Game 2 of the 2011 ALCS.

    After a scoreless ninth and 10th from Tigers closer Jose Valverde, right-hander Ryan Perry took the ball for the bottom of the 11th inning. He allowed three straight singles to Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli before Cruz made history with a bases-clearing blast. Cruz finished 8-for-22 with two doubles, six home runs and 13 RBI in six games to win ALCS MVP.

NL East

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    Jayson Werth
    Jayson WerthG Fiume/Getty Images

    Atlanta Braves: David Justice (1995 World Series, Game 6)

    Despite winning 14 straight division titles, the Braves have just one World Series title to show for their impressive run of success. It came in 1995 against a Cleveland team with one of the most potent offenses in MLB history.

    Hall of Famer Tom Glavine blanked that vaunted lineup for eight innings in the title-clinching Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, and the Braves scored their lone run of the game in the bottom of the sixth when David Justice led off the inning with a solo home run.

         

    Miami Marlins: Alex Gonzalez (2003 World Series, Game 4)

    There have been just 16 walk-off home runs in World Series history, and it's an eclectic mix of all-time greats and role players who delivered when it mattered most. Alex Gonzalez falls into that latter category with 9.4 WAR over a 16-year MLB career, but he had the big hit in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series.

    After Marlins closer Ugueth Urbina coughed up a two-run lead in the ninth inning, the game stretched all the way to the 12th before Gonzalez homered off Jeff Weaver to lead off the inning and join the exclusive Fall Classic walk-off club.

          

    New York Mets: Todd Pratt (1999 NLDS, Game 4)

    With Mike Piazza battling a thumb injury in late September, veteran backup Todd Pratt was thrust into an expanded role behind the plate for the Mets during their 1999 postseason run.

    The 32-year-old hit just three home runs in 160 plate appearances during the regular season, making his series-clinching long ball in Game 4 of the NLDS that year all the more unlikely. After going 0-for-7 to start the series, he took Matt Mantei deep with one out in the bottom of the 10th to send the Mets to an NLCS matchup with the Braves.

        

    Philadelphia Phillies: Matt Stairs (2008 NLCS, Game 4)

    There is a very real chance the ball that Matt Stairs hit off Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton in the 2008 NLCS still hasn't landed.

    The burly 40-year-old stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Game 4 in what would be his only at-bat of the NLCS, and he promptly broke a 5-5 tie with a towering two-run blast. The Phillies won the game 7-5, won the series the following night, and went on to claim a World Series title.

          

    Washington Nationals: Jayson Werth (2012 NLDS, Game 4)

    He may not have fully lived up to his seven-year, $126 million contract, but outfielder Jayson Werth still provided plenty of memorable moments during his time with the Nationals. None was bigger than his walk-off shot in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS.

    With the Nats facing elimination, Werth led off the bottom of the ninth against Lance Lynn out of the Cardinals bullpen with the game tied 1-1. An epic 13-pitch at-bat ensued, and Werth came out on top, smacking a line-drive home run to left field to force a Game 5. The Nationals ultimately lost the series, but it was a memorable homer nonetheless.

NL Central

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    Bill Mazeroski
    Bill MazeroskiHARRY HARRIS/Associated Press

    Chicago Cubs: Miguel Montero (2016 NLCS, Game 1)

    It was tempting to go with the David Ross homer off Andrew Miller in Game 7 of the World Series in the final at-bat of his career, but in terms of sheer emotion, it's tough to top the pinch-hit grand slam that Miguel Montero hit in Game 1 of the NLCS.

    "I have seen a lot of important games at Wrigley Field and a lot of big home runs there. That home run, without question, caused the loudest roar I have ever heard at Wrigley Field," wrote Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue. "The sound was heard many blocks away, reported by friends of mine. Yes, it was louder than the cheer when the Cubs won the NLCS in Game 6, because that victory had been anticipated for a few innings. But the roar on Miggy's slam was an immediate explosion of sound, very loud sound."

        

    Cincinnati Reds: Tony Perez (1975, World Series, Game 7)

    Fresh off a game many consider to be the greatest ever played that ended with Carlton Fisk's entry on this list, the Red Sox and Reds squared off for a decisive Game 7 in the 1975 World Series.

    The Red Sox started the scoring with three runs in the third inning, but Hall of Famer Tony Perez turned the tides with a two-run shot off Bill Lee in the top of the sixth. An RBI single from Pete Rose the following inning knotted things up, and Joe Morgan delivered the game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth.

        

    Milwaukee Brewers: Brandon Woodruff (2018 NLCS, Game 1)

    This one was unlikely as postseason home runs get. With the Brewers deploying a committee approach to pitching in Game 1 of their NLCS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, rookie Brandon Woodruff entered in the third inning following two innings from Gio Gonzalez.

    Not only did the 25-year-old strike out four over two perfect innings, but he also belted a solo home run off Clayton Kershaw to lead off the bottom of the third inning. The Brewers scored another run in the inning, and Woodruff walked away with the win.

          

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Bill Mazeroski (1960 World Series, Game 7)

    This is the GOAT postseason home run, plain and simple. A walk-off blast to win Game 7 of the World Series has only happened once in baseball history, and until it happens again, this one owns the top spot.

    In a thrilling back-and-forth game that saw 10 runs scored after the seventh inning, the Yankees plated two runs in the top of the ninth on an RBI single from Mickey Mantle and an RBI groundout from Yogi Berra to tie things up at 9-9. Mazeroski led off the bottom of the inning and homered on the second pitch he saw from Ralph Terry to forever etch his name in baseball lore.

         

    St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese (2011 World Series, Game 6)

    The Cardinals were one strike away from losing the 2011 World Series when David Freese lined a game-tying, two-run triple over the head of Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz to send Game 6 to extra innings. That alone would have been enough to ensure the Cardinals third baseman never needed to pay for a beer in the city of St. Louis again, but he wasn't finished.

    After each team scored two runs in the 10th inning, Jake Westbrook tossed a scoreless top of the 11th. Freese stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 11th and ended things with a walk-off homer off reliever Mark Lowe. The Cardinals went on to win Game 7, with Freese contributing a two-run double to the cause.

NL West

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    Travis Ishikawa
    Travis IshikawaIcon Sports Wire/Getty Images

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Erubiel Durazo (2001 NLCS, Game 5)

    One of the best pinch-hitters in baseball in 2001, slugger Erubiel Durazo went 11-for-45 with five home runs and 13 RBI coming cold off the bench during the regular season.

    The D-backs called on their bench weapon with a runner on first and two out in the fifth inning against Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, and he delivered with a two-run blast to put Arizona up for good. The Braves cut the deficit to 3-2, but Byung-Hyun Kim slammed the door with two scoreless innings, and Arizona advanced on to the World Series.

          

    Colorado Rockies: Matt Holliday (2007 NLCS, Game 4)

    The Rockies went 13-1 to close out the 2007 regular season, beat the San Diego Padres in Game 163 to clinch a playoff berth, then swept their way through the NLDS and NLCS to reach the World Series for the first and only team in franchise history.

    In the pennant-clinching Game 4 of the NLCS, Matt Holliday delivered the crushing three-run blow in the bottom of the fourth inning. That home run put the Rockies up 6-1 and chased D-backs starter Micah Owings from the game. Arizona narrowed the gap to 6-4, making that homer the game-winner.

          

    Los Angeles Dodgers: Kirk Gibson (1988 World Series, Game 1)

    There were a few no-brainers that could be penciled into a spot on this list long before any real research began, and this was undoubtedly one of them.

    The sight of Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases and pumping his fist after he delivered a pinch-hit, walk-off home run against Oakland Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is one of baseball's truly indelible moments.

              

    San Diego Padres: Steve Garvey (1984 NLCS, Game 4)

    Despite spending just five seasons with the San Diego Padres, first baseman Steve Garvey has his No. 6 retired by the franchise. His exploits during the 1984 postseason are a big reason why.

    Trailing the Cubs 2-1 in what was still a best-of-five NLCS, the Padres built a 5-3 lead through seven innings in Game 4. The Cubs plated two runs off Hall of Famer Goose Gossage in the top of the eighth, and things remained knotted up until the bottom of the ninth when Garvey took another Hall of Famer in Lee Smith deep for the walk-off win. The Padres completed the comeback in Game 5, and Garvey won NLCS MVP honors by going 8-for-20 with a double, a home run and seven RBI in the series.

          

    San Francisco Giants: Travis Ishikawa (2014 NLCS, Game 5)

    From Marco Scutaro to Cody Ross to Conor Gillaspie, the San Francisco Giants had no shortage of unlikely heroes during their run of "Even-Year Magic" in the 2010s.

    With a chance to punch their ticket to the World Series in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, it was Travis Ishikawa's turn to play the role of hero. After Mike Morse hit a game-tying, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the eight, Ishikawa hit the walk-off, series-clinching, three-run blast off Michael Wacha in the bottom of the ninth.

             

    All stats and game recaps courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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