To me, nothing in sports beats a great World Series.
In my 43 years, I have seen some terrific battles with memorable moments. To make this list, I considered World Series of at least six games that have occurred in my lifetime, which dates back to 1969.
Here are my top 10:
#10 – 1977: Yankees 4, Dodgers 2
During the six-game World Series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, Reggie Jackson earned his nickname Mr. October. He blasted five home runs, including three in three consecutive pitches off of three different pitchers in Game 6. The Yankees led 3-2 in the series before this one, even though Los Angeles had outscored New York 24-18 in the first five games.
#9 – 1995: Braves 4, Indians 2
Through all of their postseasons, the Atlanta Braves have only won only one World Series — in 1995 over the Cleveland Indians. Five of the six games were decided by one run. In Game 6, Tom Glavine pitched eight shutout one-hit innings. The Braves’ only run came from David Justice’s sixth-inning home run. Carlos Baerga flew out to Marquis Grissom to end it, and announcer Bob Costas summed it up: “The team of the ’90s has its world championship.”
#8 – 1991: Twins 4, Braves 3
The Minnesota Twins beat the Braves in seven games; the home team won every game. Five games were decided by one run, but Game 6 and Game 7 stand out. In Game 6, Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett made a game-saving catch in the top of the eighth and then blasted a walkoff bomb in the 11th. Game 7 was the 10-inning masterpiece from Jack Morris, which featured the Braves’ Lonnie Smith not scoring on a double.
#7 – 1986: Mets 4, Red Sox 3
This Fall Classic between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox is famous for one play. Trailing 5-3 with two outs in the 10th inning of Game 6, the Mets rallied to tie the game on three hits and a wild pitch. Mookie Wilson then hit the fateful ground ball through the legs of ailing Bill Buckner. The Mets won Games 3, 4, and 7 handily, but that ground ball became baseball legend.
#6 – 1997: Marlins 4, Indians 3
The Florida Marlins and Cleveland Indians traded wins throughout this seesaw World Series. Game 3 had the teams tied 7-7 after seven innings, but Florida won it 14-11. In Game 6, pitcher Chad Ogea drive in two of the Indians’ four runs to help his team tie the series at 3-3. The Marlins rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the seventh inning to tie up Game 7. Edgar Renteria then won it in the 11th to make the Marlins the first wild-card team to win the World Series.
#5 – 2002: Angels 4, Giants 3
After the Anaheim Angels won Game 2 11-10 to tie the World Series 1-1, the San Francisco Giants went up 3-2 and with a 5-0 lead appeared to have Game 6 won to clinch the title. The Angels broke out their rally monkey. Scott Speizio sparked the rally with a three-run shot, and the Angels eventually forced Game 7. The Angels then won their first World Series and became the first American League wild-card team to win it all.
#4 – 1996: Yankees 4, Braves 2
Nineteen-year-old Andruw Jones homered in his first two World Series at-bats, and the Braves looked to beat the New York Yankees easily in four or five games. Game 4 was the turning point. The Yankees came back from down 6-0 late to tie it on Jim Leyritz’s three-run shot and win in 10 innings. They continued on for the World Series win in six games behind Andy Pettitte’s dominant Game 5 pitching performance.
#3 – 2011: Cardinals 4, Rangers 3
The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals battled hard all Series. Albert Pujols became the third player to hit three home runs in one game (Game 3). In another classic Game 6, the Cardinals were down to their last strike in both the ninth and 10th innings. Then, announcer Joe Buck had the rare opportunity to mimic his father Jack’s call of Puckett’s 1991 blast when David Freese popped a Game 6 walkoff of his own. The Cardinals then won Game 7 handily behind Chris Carpenter to complete an amazing 2011 stretch run.
#2 – 2001: Diamondbacks 4, Yankees 3
The Yankees made two improbable comebacks against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 4 and Game 5. Tino Martinez popped a ninth-inning two-out two-run home run to send Game 4 into extra innings. Scott Brosius repeated the feat in Game 5. Derek Jeter ended Game 4 with his blast as the calendar turned to November 1 to earn the moniker “Mr. November.” Amazingly, a fan already had the sign made for just a situation. In Game 7, an extremely crucial error from Mariano Rivera set up Luis Gonzalez’s World Series-winning walkoff hit.
#1 – 1975: Reds 4, Red Sox 3
Arguably, this is the greatest World Series of all time. The Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds played seven games, featuring a very controversial bunt attempt in Game 3 and the best Game 6 ever. With Boston down 6-3 in the eighth, Bernie Carbo tied it with a three-run shot. Great defense from the Reds sent the game to the 12th, where Boston’s Carlton Fisk hit his historic “Stay Fair” home run. The Reds won it all in seven games.
We cannot say for sure if the 2012 World Series will have a legendary moment such as these, but it is highly likely, and I really hope it does.
Baseball Reference, World Series Summaries (linked above), baseball-reference.com.
Major League Baseball, Baseball Video Highlights, (linked above), mlb.mlb.com.
Youtube, 1975 World Series (Linked Above), youtube.com.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.
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2011 Post Season Most Exciting in Recent Years: Fan Reaction
Top 15 MLB Throwback Uniforms Bring Back Memories
1996 World Series: New York Yankees’ Incredible Comeback