Jack Morris hurled 10 innings of shutout ball to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
There’s an old adage that says pitching wins championships. Throughout the long history of baseball, that’s certainly proven correct.
And the best pitching generally wins out in championship situations, where 23 World Series have been decided by shutouts in the final game.
Put another way, more than one out of five World Championships has been decided by shutout, including six 1-0 games and seven 2-0 contests.
The very first World Series in 1903 finished in a shutout as the Boston Americans, behind Bill Dineen, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0.
The New York Giants won their first World Series via shutout, when legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson blanked the A’s for the third time in the 1905 World Series.
The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series by shutout as Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in 1907. The Cubs repeated the feat in 1908 and haven’t won since.
Hall of Famers like Mathewson, Brown, Stan Coveleski of the Indians, Dizzy Dean, right, of the Cardinals and Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers all pitched Series-clinching shutouts.
Johnny Podres gave Brooklyn its first and only World Championship when he blanked the Yankees 2-0 in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series. Two years later, Lew Burdette gave Milwaukee its only title, stopping the Yankees 5-0 in the Bronx.
In the only decisive game to go into extra innings scoreless, the Jack Morris pitched the Minnesota Twins to a World Championship with a 1-0, 10-inning win against the Atlanta Braves in 1991.
Recently, both the Boston Red Sox in 2004 behind Kevin Lowe and the Chicago White Sox in 2005 behind Freddy Garcia ended near-century long title droughts with shutout wins to complete four-game sweeps.
Ironically, the New York Yankees have only four Series-clinching shutout wins amongst their record 27 World Championships — Spud Chandler in 1943, Johnny Kucks in 1956, Ralph Terry in 1962 and Andy Pettitte in 1998.
Here are the highlights:
1903 — Red Sox 3, Pirates 0, Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, Boston
Boston win Series, 5-3
Bill Dineen pitched his second shutout and earned his third victory as the Boston Americans won the final four games to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series ever played. Hall of Famer Cy Young won the other two games for Boston. With great pitching dominating the play, hitters obviously had a rough time at the plate. Boston batted .252 while Pittsburgh, despite the presence of National League batting champion Honus Wagner, hit .237.
1905 — New York Giants 2, Philadelphia A’s 0, Polo Grounds, New York
Giants win Series 4-1
New York’s Hall of Fame right-hander Christy Mathewson capped off perhaps the best remarkable pitching performance in World Series history when he shut out the Athletics for the third time to give the Giants their first championship. Mathewson pitched three shutouts and permitted only 14 hits in the span of six days. All five games were shutouts — New York’s Joe McGinnity and Philadelphia’s Chief Bender threw the others. A’s manager Connie Mack later said: “(Christy) Mathewson was the greatest pitcher who ever lived. He had knowledge, judgment, perfect control and form. It was wonderful to watch him pitch when he wasn’t pitching against you.”
1907 — Cubs 2, Tigers 0, Bennett Park, Detroit
Cubs win series, 4-0, one tie
Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown threw a seven-hitter to clinch a 2-0 triumph and a Cubs sweep of the Series (there was one tie game). The Cubs dominated the contest and made amends for their Series loss to the crosstown rival White Sox the previous year.
1908 — Cubs 2, Tigers 0, Bennett Park, Detroit
Cubs win series, 4-1
This time the Cubs’ Orval Overall pitched the clincher, allowing only three hits and striking out 10 batters to give Chicago back-to-back World Championships (they haven’t won since). Only 6,210 fans witnessed the finale in Detroit, the smallest crowd in Series history.
1909 — Pirates 8, Tigers 0, Bennett Park, Detroit
Pirates win series, 4-3
Pittsburgh’s Babe Adams won this third game of the Series and pitched his third six-hitter to lead the Pirates to victory in Game 7. Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner of Pittsburgh hit .333, with seven RBIs and six stolen bases. Appearing in what would be his last Series (although he would be an active player through 1928), Cobb batted only .231 but led Detroit with six RBIs.
1920 — Indians 3, Robins 0, Dunn Field, Cleveland
Cleveland win series, 5-2
Cleveland won its first World Series when Stan Coveleski pitched his third five-hitter of the Series and earned his third win, beating Brooklyn’s Burleigh Grimes. Indians pitchers held the Robins to just two runs in the final 43 innings of the Series.
1921 — Giants 1, Yankees 0 Polo Grounds, New York
Giants win series, 5-3
The Giants won the first Subway Series when Art Nehf held off Waite Hoyt and the Yankees 1-0 in a classic pitchers duel. Giants shortstop Dave Bancroft scored a first inning run which held up.
1934 — Cardinals 11, Tigers 0, Navin Field, Detroit
Cards win series, 4-3
The Cardinals exploded for seven runs in the third inning and rolled to an 11-0 victory over the Tigers behind Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean. Dizzy and brother Paul combined for 49 wins in the regular season (31 by Dizzy) and all four St. Louis victories in the World Series. In Game 7, a hard slide by the Cardinals Joe Medwick momentarily injured Tigers third baseman Marv Owen and incensed Detroit fans who threw empty bottles, fruit and other debris onto the field. In an effort to avoid a possible riot, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis stepped in and removed Medwick from the game.
1943 — Yankees 2, Cardinals 0, Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis
Yanks win series, 4-1
St. Louis collected 10 hits against Yankee ace Spud Chandler but was unable to score on any of them. The Bombers needed only a two-run homer from Bill Dickey in the sixth that sealed a 2-0 triumph and avenged a loss to the Cardinals the previous year. The win gave Yankee manager Joe McCarthy had his seventh (and final) World Series Championship.
1955 — Dodgers 2, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium, New York
Dodgers win series, 4-3
Next year finally arrived in Brooklyn as young southpaw Johnny Podres pitched the Dodgers to a 2-0 win over the hated Yankees and their first World Championship. Podres, who surrendered eight hits and two walks, was helped by a spectacular catch by Sandy Amoros who somehow managed to snare Yogi Berra’s long drive down the left field line and turn it into a double play in the sixth inning. Gil Hodges knocked in both runs for the Dodgers, who had lost seven previous times in the World Series; five times to the Yankees. The Dodgers would play two more seasons in Brooklyn before moving west to Los Angeles.
1956 — Yankees 9, Dodgers 0, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn
Yankees win series, 4-3
The Yankees got their revenge when sophomore Johnny Kucks pitched a three-hitter, outdueling Dodgers ace Don Newcombe, a 27-game winner in the regular season, in the seventh and deciding game. Yogi Berra hit a pair of two-run homers, Elston Howard a solo shot and Moose Skowron a grand slam to account for all the Yankee runs. The final three games of the Series were shutouts, as Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 and Brooklyn’s Clem Labine outlasted Bob Turley 1-0 in 10 innings in Game Six.
1957 — Braves 5, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium, New York
Braves win series, 4-3
For the third straight year the World Series went seven games, and for the third straight year the championship was decided by a shutout. This time Milwaukee’s Lew Burdette stifled the Yankees for this third complete game victory and second shutout of the Series. Hank Aaron led the Braves with three home runs, seven RBIs and a .393 average.
1962 — Yankees 1, Giants 0, Candlestick Park, San Francisco
Yankees win series, 4-3
Yankee hurler Ralph Terry, who gave up the deciding home run to Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski in 1960, pitched a complete game, four-hitter to beat the Giants 1-0. With runners on second and third and two outs in the ninth, San Francisco slugger hit a vicious line drive that second baseman Bobby Richardson snared to end the Series. New York scored its only run in the fifth inning when Tony Kubek’s double play grounder plated Moose Skowron.
1965 — Dodgers 2, Twins 0, Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota
Dodgers win series, 4-3
Pitching on two days rest, Los Angeles ace Sandy Koufax, left tamed Minnesota on three hits and struck out 10 Twins in a complete game shutout. The Dodgers scored their only runs in the fourth inning on a home run by Lou Johnson and a run scoring single by Wes Parker as they won the World Series for the second time in three years.
1966 — Orioles 1, Dodgers 0, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore
Orioles sweep, 4-0
Dave McNally pitched Baltimore’s third straight shutout as the Orioles limited the Dodgers to just two runs and a .142 batting average in the four-game sweep. Frank Robinson’s fourth-inning home run off Don Drysdale provided the only scoring. The Dodgers failed to score a single run over the final 33 1/3 innings of the Series.
1983 — Orioles 5, Phillies 0, Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia
O’s win series, 4-1
Scott McGregor pitched a five-hitter and Eddie Murray knocked in three runs with a pair of homers to lead the Orioles to a World Series title in Game 5. Baltimore pitching limited Philadelphia slugger Mike Schmidt to just one hit in 20 at bats.
1985 — Royals 11, Cardinals 0, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
Royals win series, 4-3
Proud papa Bret Saberhagen, who became a father the day before, pitched a five-hit shutout as the Royals overcame a 3-1 deficit against their cross-state rivals to win the final three games and their first World Series. George Brett went four-for-five to lead the Kansas City onslaught.
1991 — Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings), Metrodome, Minnesota
Minnesota wins series, 4-3
Twins right-hander Jack Morris pitched 10 shutout innings as Minnesota won its second World Championship in five years, beating John Smoltz and the upstart Braves 1-0. Morris outlasted Atlanta’s John Smoltz, who pitched seven shutout innings before being lifted in the eighth. Minnesota’s Dan Gladden led off the 10th inning with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on a pinch-hit single by Gene Larkin. A Twin Cities sportswriter wrote that on that night, “[Morris] could have outlasted Methuselah.”
1995 — Braves 1, Indians 0, Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta
Braves win series 4-2
Tom Glavine, right, and Mark Wohlers combined on a one-hitter and David Justice knocked in the only run with a home run in the sixth inning as the Braves won their third World Series title (first in Atlanta).
1998 — Yankees 3, Padres 0, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Yankees sweep series
Andy Pettitte pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and Mariano Rivera recorded the last four outs as the Yankees capped a dominant season with their 24th World Championship.
2003 — Marlins 2, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium, New York
Marlins win series, 4-2
Josh Beckett, starting on three days rest for the first time in his young career, dominated the Yankees with a complete-game, five-hit shutout. His rival, Andy Pettitte, who had won 11 consecutive games following Yankees losses, gave New York a valiant effort, holding the Marlins to two runs (one earned) over seven innings.
2004 — Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0, Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Red Sox sweep series, 4-0
Boston’s Derek Lowe allowed only three hits over seven masterful innings and Keith Foulke finished up as Boston won its first World Series in 86 years. Johnny Damon gave Boston the only run it would need when he led off the game with a home run. Previously Lowe beat the Yankees in Game 7 as the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the ALCS.
2005 — White Sox 1, Astros 0, Minute Maid Park, Houston
White Sox sweep series
Freddy Garcia pitched seven innings of four-hit ball and Bobby Jenks got the save as the White Sox completed a sweep of the Astros and won their first World Championship in 88 years. Chicago scored the only run of the game in the eighth inning off Houston closer Brad Lidge on a two-out single up the middle by Series MVP Jermaine Dye.
A huge crowd stormed the Polo Grounds in Manhattan and witnessed baseball history in the Cubs-Giants playoff game on October 8, 1908.
So, what were you doing in 1908? Unless you’re a centenarian you weren’t doing anything, but the Chicago Cubs were on their way to their second straight World Series title in 1908. They haven’t won one since.
You remember 1908. Theodore Roosevelt is President. Mother’s Day is celebrated for the first time. The average cost of a home is $4,500; of a gallon of milk is 38 cents, a stamp is 4 cents. And the average salary for a major league baseball player is $2,500.
In sports, Penn and LSU share the college football championship; there is no BCS. The Montreal Wanderers win the Stanley Cup; James Braid takes the British Open; and Stone Street wins the Kentucky Derby. In the Olympics in London, Italian Dorando Pietri staggers at the end of the Marathon and is assisted across the finish line by officials. Johnny Hayes of the USA is later declared the winner.
In 1908, the Cubs edged out the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates to win a tight, controversial pennant race which hinged on the so-called Fred Merkle boner in late September. The Giants and the Cubs were tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning at New York’s Polo Grounds. With two outs, the rookie Merkle was on first base and Moose McCormick on third when Giants shortstop Al Bridwell singled to center.
Thinking the game was won, and with a crowd of happy fans swarming the infield, Merkle bypassed second base and made for the New York clubhouse. But Chicago second baseman Johnny Evers got the attention of the umpire who, after seeing Evers tag second base with a ball declared Merkle forced out at second, nullifying the winning run.
This ignited a storm of protests, counter-protests, and league hearings. Finally, National League president Harry Pulliam ruled that the game would be replayed after the season if it proved to have a bearing on the pennant race.
It did. New York and Chicago finished in a tie, which was broken when Chicago’s Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, left, defeated Christy Mathewson 4-2 in the make-up game. Matty won 37 games that year, but couldn’t win this one. The Cubs finished with a 99-55 record, one game up on the Giants and Pirates, both at 98-56.
In the American League, a four-team race came down to the wire, with Detroit (90-63) finally slipping past Cleveland (90-64) by .004 percentage points, the smallest margin of victory in AL or NL history. Chicago finished 1 1/2 games back and St. Louis faded late to end up 6 1/2 behind.
For the second straight year, the Cubs won the World Series over the Tigers, this time 4 games to 1. Cubs batters hit .293 off Tigers pitching, while Brown’s 0.00 ERA in 11 innings paced the Chicago staff to a 2.60 ERA. Ty Cobb, the AL batting champion, hit .368 with four RBI and a pair of stolen bases in a losing effort. Cobb, perhaps the greatest hitter in baseball history, never won a World Series.
The Cubs won National League pennants in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945, but lost the World Series each time. They haven’t been back since. And they haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
Fred “Firpo” Marberry helped the Washington Senators to their only World Championship in 1924.
He’s one of baseball’s original saviors, a man ahead of his time, long forgotten in the roll call of baseball history.
He’s Frederick Marberry, known to his contemporaries as Firpo. He was a bullpen specialist before relievers became vogue, a fireman on call long before the save was recognized as an official statistic.
Marberry pitched for the Senators, Tigers and Giants from 1923 through 1936, and led the major league in saves five times with Washington. He’s the only pitcher in history to accomplish that feat. As the first prominent reliever, Firpo has been retroactively credited as the first pitcher to record 20 saves in a season, the first to earn 100 career saves, the first to make 50 relief appearances in a season or 300 in a career. Firpo held the career saves record from 1926 to 1946 before it was broken by Johnny Murphy of the Yankees.
Only Dan Quisenberry of the Royals matched Firpo, leading the American League in saves five times in the 1980s. Four-time league leaders include Lee Smith with multiple teams, Bruce Sutter of the Cardinals, Murphy, and Hall of Famers Ed Walsh of the White Sox and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown of the Cubs. Hall of Famers such as Kid Nichols, Cy Young, Joe McGinnity, Christy Mathewson, Lefty Grove, Dizzy Dean and Carl Hubbell also earned single season save honors.
According to baseball statistician Bill James, Marberry was the second best pitcher in the majors from 1924-1934, behind only Grove. He started 187 games in his career, posting a 94-52 record; overall he compiled a 148-88 record, a .648 winning percentage, 101 saves and a 3.63 ERA. Despite starting only 34 percent of his games through his 14-year career, he won 19 games in 1929; he won 16 games twice and 15 games two other times.
In 1924, Firpo recorded his first save title with 15. That October, he helped guide the Senators to their only World Series championship with an effective relief stint in Game Seven against the New York Giants, finishing with a 1.12 ERA in four games.
Marberry recorded 15 saves again in 1925 as the Senators won their second straight American League pennant.. He won his third straight saves title with 22 in 1926, a record that stood until the Yankees’ Joe Page had 27 saves in 1949.
In 1929, after two subpar seasons, Firpo came back to again lead the American League and the majors with 11 saves, while also winning a career-high 19 games to finish fourth in the A.L.
Marberry was employed primarily as a starter in 1930 and 1931, and posted an overall record of 31-9 for with the Senators. In 1931, showcasing his talents as both a starter (25 starts), and a reliever (20 appearances), he posted a 16-4 record with a 3.45 ERA. While he picked up 11 complete games and one shutout as a starter, he also had seven saves, and finished 13th in MVP voting (Grove won the award).
In 1932, Firpo led the majors in saves for the fifth and last time with 13, before being traded to the Tigers. He finished his career with the Giants in 1936.