Best game ever? Don’t rank it, just enjoy it

Cubs

Was Cubs-Indians Game 7 the best game ever? Not so fast.

I do feel sometimes we tend to rush to judgement and instant gratification. For example, ESPN is already calling Game 7 the greatest game ever.

For Cub fans maybe.

But we need to bottle it for a bit, savor it, then enjoy it like a fine wine.

There have been plenty of great games throughout the last dozen decades of baseball history.

After all, there have been six walk-off Game 7 wins in baseball history alone, going back to 1912 and the Red Sox beating Christy Mathewson in extra innings all the way to Luis Gonzalez besting the great Mariano Rivera and the Yankees in 2001.

The Bill Mazeroski home run in 1960 that gave the Pirates an improbable World Series win was unforgettable. Amazingly, not a single batter struck out in that contest.

Some other great games that weren’t necessarily Series clinchers include Pudge Fisk and the Red Sox in 1975, the Mets and Bill Buckner in 1986, Kirby Puckett and the Twins in 1991, and David Freese and the Cardinals beating the Rangers in 2011.

And don’t forget Don Larsen’s perfect game vs. Brooklyn in 1956. Only time it’s ever happened in a World Series.

Even though they weren’t true post-season games, Bobby Thomson’s home run against the Dodgers that helped the Giants win the pennant in 1951, and Bucky Dent’s Fenway blast that lifted the Yankees over the Red Sox in 1978 were certainly dramatic.

Maddon’s questionable moves

Congrats to the Cubs and their fans. Maybe it’s me, but Joe Maddon did all he could to hand the Series to the Tribe — from his needless use of Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 to lifting Kyle Hendricks early in Game 7 to the 3-2 safety squeeze in the ninth inning that backfired

The Cubs ultimately prevailed because they were the better team with superior talent, but the better manager, Terry Francona, was in the Cleveland dugout in this World Series.

They call it over-managing. In business terms, micro management. It’s the Whitey Herzog syndrome, in honor of the Kansas City manager, who made some questionable moves against the Yankees in the ALCS back in the 70s.

It will never be the same

Well now that the Cubs have won and broken the 108-year jinx things are bound to be different. There’s already talk of the next baseball dynasty.

However, consider this. After the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, they became just another successful franchise, lost in the shuffle of successful teams.

Just like the Sox, the Cubs have lost their lovable loser mojo.

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Indians-Cubs would be dream Series matchup: Somebody’s got to win and get off the schneid

The Chicago Cubs aren’t the only MLB team with a long World Series drought. The Cleveland Indians, who captured the American League pennant, haven’t won a World Series since 1948.

Although the Tribe’s streak pales in comparison to the Cubbies, who haven’t won since 1908, it’s still the second longest championship drought in baseball history.

Baseball fans across America are praying for a Cleveland-Chicago World Series, since once of those two franchises will finally get off the schneid.

When the Indians last won in 1948, Harry S. Truman was POTUS, Gentleman’s Agreement starring Gregory Peck won the Oscar for Best Picture, and pacifist leader Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

That year Cleveland defeated the Red Sox in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park to determine to AL pennant winner. The Indians then went on to beat the Boston Braves in six games in the first World Series to be televised nationwide. Outfielder Larry Doby hit .318 to pace the Tribe, while Bob Lemon won both of his starts, including the Game 6 clincher.

The Indians won AL pennants in 1954, 1995 and 1997, but lost the World Series both times.

You have to go back 108 years to find the last time the Cubs won a World Series. In 1908, when Chicago beat the Detroit Tigers in five games for its second straight title. The Peerless Leader, Frank Chance, managed the Cubs that season and also led all batters with a .421 average. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and Orval Overall each won a pair of games.

The Cubs last visit to the World Series came in 1945, 71 years ago, when they lost to the Tigers in seven games. Chicago also advanced to the Fall Classic in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, and 1938, only to lose each time.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, currently battling the Cubs in the NLCS, also have a long championship drought. LA last appeared in the World Series in 1988, when they beat the Oakland A’s in five games.

In their first three decades in Los Angeles, the transplanted Brooklynites went to the World Series nine times, winning five. But it’s been 28 years since the Dodgers’ last title.

SportsLifer Flashback: The 1908 Cubs


They coulda been World Series heroes

In the last inning of the 2014 World Series and his team trailing by a run, Royals left-fielder Alex Gordon singled and raced all the way to third on an error by Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco. In an alternate universe Gordon might have attempted to score and propelled the Kansas City to a win. But he stopped at third, the next batter Salvatore Perez popped out to end the game, and San Francisco won its third World Series in five years.

If Gordon had run and scored, he coulda been a hero. One of many guys who could have been World Series heroes, if only things had played out differently.

Maybe there’s a coulda been hero in this year’s World Series. Here’s the past list of guys who didn’t quite make it, dating back to 1912:

2011 – Josh Hamilton – His two-run homer in the top of the 10th in Game 6 appeared to seal the deal for the first championship for the Texas Rangers. However St. Louis rallied to tie the game, then won it 10-9 in the 11th on a home run by David Reese. The Cardinals then won Game 7 easily to take the crown.

2001 – Alfonso Soriano – His eighth inning home run against Curt Schilling gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead and within grasp of their fourth straight championship. But Arizona scratched out a pair of runs against closer Mariano Rivera to pull out a 3-2 win and their first and only championship.

1997 – Tony Fernandez – They’d have built a statue of this guy in downtown Cleveland if only things hard turned out differently in Game 7. Fernadnez hit a two-run single in the third inning that held up until the last of the ninth. The Marlins rallied against Jose Mesa to tie the game, then won it 3-2 in the 11th on Edgar Renteria’s single. The Indians have not won a World Series since 1948.

1986 – Dave Henderson – Hendu was going to be an all-time rock star in New England. His home run in the top of the 10th put the Red Sox on the brink of their first championship in 68 years, since 1918. However the Mets rallied to win Game 6 6-5 in 10 innings as Mookie Wilson’s grounder eluded first baseman Bill Buckner, and then took Game 7 and the title two nights later.

1976 – Thurman Munson – The Yankee captain hit .529, the highest batting average ever for a player on a losing team. However, the Reds, sparked by Johnny Bench, swept the Yankees in four straight games. Less than three years later, after winning World Series in 1977 and 1978, Munson was killed in a plane crash.

1960 – Whitey Ford – He pitched a shutout in Game 3 and another in Game 6. Too bad, this was the year that Bill Mazeroski hit the most dramatic of home runs and the Pirates beat the Yankees 10-9 in Game 7 to win the World Series. Ford continued his shutout string the next year, breaking Babe Ruth’s record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in a World Series and won the MVP.

1953 – Carl Furillo – He rallied Brooklyn with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to tie the score 3-3 in Game 6. However, Yankee second baseman Billy Martin, who had 12 hits and 8 RBIs while batting .500 in the series, knocked in Hank Bauer from second base with the game-winning run in the ninth inning to give the Bombers 4-3 win and a record fifth straight World Championship

1946 – Dominic DiMaggio – Joe’s little brother hit a two-run double in the eighth inning that pulled the Red Sox even with the Cardinals in Game 7. However DiMaggio injured his hamstring rounding first, and was replaced in center field by Leon Culberson. It was Culberson’s weak relay to Johnny Pesky in the bottom of the inning that led to Enos Slaughter scoring the decisive run in a 4-3 victory.

1919 – Dickey Kerr – With eight of his teammates, the infamous Black Sox, attempting to throw the Series, left-hander starts and wins two games. Kerr pitches a shutout in Game 3 and wins 5-4 in a 10-innings in Game 6. However Cincinnati takes the Series in eight games.

1912 – Fred Merkle – The goat of the 1908 NL pennant race for the New York Giants was almost a hero. Fred Merkle singled in the go-ahead in the decisive Game 8 (one game ended in a tie). With the great Christy Mathewson on the mound, the Giants appeared to have the title well in hand. But Giants center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball to start the home half of the 10th, and Larry Gardner later hit a deep sacrifice fly, scoring Steve Yerkes with the winning run.


Ahead of MadBum, Matty tops the list of great pitching performances in World Series history

Madison Bumgarner, aka Bum, rang up one of the great World Series performances of all time when he led the San Francisco Giants past the Kansas City Royals. Great stuff, but MadBum and all the rest take a back seat to the New York Giants right-hander and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who pitched three complete game shutouts to lead his team to a five-game win over the Philadelphia A’s in the second World Series ever in 1905.

Matty, pictured above, threw a four-hitter in Game 1 as the Giants won 3-0. He followed that up with another four-hitter in a 9-0 New York win in Game 3. And he closed the deal two days later at the Polo Grounds, allowing just five hits as the Giants won 2-0. All five games in the 1905 Series ended up in shutouts – Chief Bender for the A’s in Game 2 and Joe McGinnity for the Giants in Game 4.

Mathewson’s 1905 WS line was 27 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, 18 strikeouts and one walk. He even had a couple of base hits. For his career Mathewson won 373 games, nearly twice as many as he lost, with a lifetime 2.13 ERA. He set modern National League records for wins in a career, wins in a season (37) and consecutive 20-win seasons (12), records that still stand today.

Mathewson was nicknamed Big Six when sportswriter Sam Crane compared him to New York City’s Big Six Fire Company, “the fastest to put out the fire.” Matty served in France in World War I where he was a captain in the Army’s Chemical Warfare Division. While there, Mathewson was exposed to mustard gas during a training exercise. He suffered from tuberculosis the rest of his life, and died in 1925 as the World Series was being played.

It’s tough to top Matty’s World Series heroics in 1905, but here are 10 who made history in their own rite, in chronological order.

2014: Madison Bumgarner evoked memories of immortal and fellow Giant Matthewson as he almost single-handedly silenced the Royals. MadBum, shown at left, stopped the red-hot Royals and their eight-game playoff win streak in the opener, and then pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5 for his second win. With the season on the line in Game 7, he threw five innings of two-hit ball to earn the save in a 3-2 Series clinching win. Overall MadBum allowed nine hits and one run in 21 innings, an 0.43 ERA.

1991: Jack Morris was at his absolute best in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Refusing to come out of the game, the Minnesota Twins finally rewarded his efforts when Gene Larkin’s 10th-inning, walk-off single game the Twins a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. In outdueling John Smoltz of the Braves, Morris allowed seven hits over 10 innings and struck out eight. Morris won Game 1 of the Series and had a no-decision in Game 4. He was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in the Series.

1988: Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers maintained his late-season roll with two stellar performances in the World Series. After setting a new record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings in September, Hershiser shut out the heavily-favored Oakland A’s 6-0 in Game 2, then won the Game 5 clincher 5-2 with another complete game. His totals – 2-0 record, 18 innings pitched, 7 hits, 17 strikeouts, and 3-for-3 at the plate.

1968: The St. Louis Cardinals were big favorites, and when Bob Gibson struck out 17 Tiger batters and beat Detroit 31-game winner Denny McLain things didn’t look good. Mickey Lolich to the rescue. The portly southpaw beat the Cardinals 8-1 in Game 2 and hit a home run as well. With the Tigers down three games to one, he won Game 5, 5-3. Finally, pitching on just two days rest, Lolich won his third game of the World Series, outlasting Gibson and the Cards 4-1 in the Game 7 clincher.

1967: The 1967 World Series belonged to St. Louis Cardinals righthander Bob Gibson who doused the Impossible Dreamers, the Boston Red Sox. Gibson was 3-0 with 26 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in three complete game showings. He won Game 1, 2-1, and pitched a five-hit shutout to take Game 4. After the Red Sox rallied to tie the Series, Gibson homered in a 7-2 win in the Game 7 Cards wrap.

1963: During a five-year stretch in the early and mid 60s, Sandy Koufax was as dominant as any pitcher has ever been. And the Los Angeles Dodger left-hander, pictured right, dominated the Yankees in 1963, setting a WS strikeout record with 15 Ks to win Game 1, and completing the sweep with a 2-1 victory and eight strikeouts in Game 4.

1957: Yankee castoff Lew Burdette returned to haunt the Bronx Bombers in the 1957 World Series. The Milwaukee Braves right-hander won Game 2 and then proceeded to shut out the Yankees in Game 5. With the Series on the line, Burdette threw another shutout in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, winning 5-0. Overall, Burdette was 3-0 and allowed just two runs in 27 innings for 0.67 ERA.

1933: The last time Washington was in the World Series, the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. New York’s screwball artist Carl Hubbell won the opener 4-2, striking out 10. In Game 4, Hubbell went all the way allowing eight hits as the Giants won, 2-1 in 11 innings. Although Hubbell gave up three runs in the two games, none of them were earned. His ERA in 20 innings was 0.00.

1926: Grover Cleveland Alexander won 373 games in his career, tying Christy Mathewson for the most all-time in the National League. And he was nearly as good as Matty in the 1926 World Series. Pitching for the Cardinals, Old Pete beat the New York Yankees in Game 2, and when he threw another complete game to win Game 6, 10-2, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer probably figured he was done for the Series. Not so fast. With the Cardinals in front 3-2, two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning of Gam 7, Alexander was called on to face Tony Lazzeri. After a loud foul down the left-field line at Yankee Stadium, Alexander struck out Lazzeri. He threw hitless ball the rest of the way, saving the Cardinals first World Championship.

1921: New York Yankee right-hander Waite Hoyt matched the mighty Matty in the first subway Series, with all games played at the Polo Grounds. He pitched 27 innings against the cross Harlem River Giants, and had a 0.00 ERA. Hoyt pitched a five-hit 3-0 shutout in Game 1 in the Yankees first World Series game ever. He allowed a pair of unearned runs in in Game 5 and won again, 4-2. In the finale, Game 8, Hoyt, pictured at left, gave up an unearned run on an error by shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh in the top of the first and then blanked the Giants the rest of the way. However the Yankees couldn’t score and lost both the game, 1-0, and the Series, five games to three.

Honorable mention

2001: Randy Johnson, Kurt Schilling, two-headed monster, combined to win all four games, three by the Big Unit, as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven games.

1960: Whitey Ford, the winningest pitcher in World Series history with 10, hurled complete game shutouts in Games 2 and 6 and was well on his way to breaking Babe Ruth’s record for consecutive scoreless innings.

1956: Don Larsen. The Yankee righty pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, nuff said. Larsen got bombed in Game 2, but so what. He’s a perfect fit.

1946: Crafty Cardinal lefty Harry Breechen won three games in this Series, including a relief effort in Game 7 to edge the Red Sox. The Cat finished 3-0 with an 0.45 ERA

1912: Smokey Joe Wood, won three games, including the clincher. The Red Sox flame thrower was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA


Red Sox — Cardinals: Been there, done that

The Red Sox and Cardinals will be meeting for the fourth time in the World Series, all since 1946. Only Yankees-Dodgers (11), Yankees-Giants (7) and Yankees-Cardinals (5) have been more common World Series opponents. Yankees-Braves, A’s-Giants and Tigers-Cubs have also had four World Series matchups.

The Cardinals went the seven-game limit to beat the Red Sox in 1946 and 1967. And in 2004, Boston ended a legendary 86-year title drought in emphatic fashion, sweeping St. Louis in four straight.

Here are highlights from each of those previous World Series matchups:

1946 World Series
While the Red Sox easily copped the American League pennant, St. Louis and the Brooklyn Dodgers wound up tied for first place in the National League. The Cards then swept the Dodgers in a best-of-three playoff to advance to the World Series for the fourth time in five years.

The Red Sox, in the post-season for the first time in 28 years, won the opener in St. Louis on a 10th inning home run by Rudy York. The teams alternated wins over the next four games, and the Series headed west to St. Louis with Boston up 3-2, needing just one win for the championship.

They didn’t get it. Southpaw Harry “The Cat” Breechen stopped the Red Sox 4-1 in Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all finale.

Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning of Game 7, Boston’s Dom DiMaggio doubled in a pair of runs to tie the score, but injured his leg and had to leave the game. He was replaced by Leon Culberson in center field.

St. Louis outfielder Enos Slaughter, above, led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and then scored all the way from first with two outs in what was generously ruled a double by Harry “The Hat” Walker. Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky was slow getting the relay home, and his delay helped give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. The loss of DiMaggio in center (an excellent fielder as befits his name) also contributed to the play.

The first two Boston batters singled in the night but Breechen, pitching in relief on just one day’s rest,  was able to get the next three outs to earn his third win of the World Series. Breechen pitched two complete games and allowed the Red Sox just one run.

It was the only post-season matchup for two all-time greats, Stan Musial of the Cardinals and Boston’s Ted Williams. Musial hit just .222 in the Series, while Williams was held to a .200 batting average.

1967 World Series
It was the year of the “Impossible Dream” in New England. The Red Sox, who finished ninth the previous year, held off the Tigers, Twins and White Sox in a taut, four-team AL pennant race that wasn’t decided until the final day of the season.

Cardinals right-hander Bob Gibson, right, was at this dominant best in this Series with three complete game victories and a World Series MVP. Gibson won Game 1, 2-1, with 10 strikeouts and followed that up with a 6-0 shutout in Game 4 that gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead.

The Red Sox rallied to win Games 5 and 6 and force a dream seventh game showdown between Gibson and Boston’s ace Jim Lonborg. And once again Gibson prevailed, hurling a three-hitter, striking out 10, and even hitting a home run in a 7-2 Cardinals win.

Lonborg, pitching on just two days rest, simply ran out of gas. He had pitched a complete game win against Minnesota on the last day of the regular season to lead Boston to the AL pennant. Then in the World Series he won Game 2, 5-0,  with a one-hitter — retiring the first 22 batters he faced —  and Game 5, 3-1, with a three-hitter.

Lou Brock led the Cardinals attack with seven stolen bases and a .414 batting average, while Roger Maris hit .385 with a Series-leading seven RBIs. Carl Yastrzemski, who won the AL Triple Crown, hit .400 with three home runs for Boston.

2004 World Series
The Red Sox broke the 86-year-old Curse of the Bambino, sweeping the Cardinals to win their first World Series since 1918. Boston won the AL pennant by rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat their nemesis, the New York Yankees, in the ALCS.

The Cardinals, who won a major league high 105 games in the regular season, stopped the Houston Astros in seven games in the NLCS.

Boston was making its first World Series appearance since 1986; St. Louis since 1987.

After winning an 11-9 slugfest in the opener Red Sox pitchers allowed only three runs in the final three games — starts by Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe in the clincher.

Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez batted .412 with a home run and four RBIs to win World Series MVP honors. Larry Walker hit .357 and hit the only two home runs the Cardinals managed.

1946 World Series

1967 World Series

2004 World Series


Top 10: World Series Game 6

Cardinals mob David Freese after his 11th inning home run against the Rangers forced a Game 7.

Was it the greatest game ever? The best World Series game? The top post-season game in history.

Time will be the judge, but the Cardinals never-say-die 10-9 win that denied the Rangers their first World Championship joins a long list of great World Series Game 6 contests.

St. Louis became the first team in post-season history to overcome two-run deficits in the ninth and 10th inning to win. David Freese, who won the game with a home run in the 11th after his two-out, two-strike, two-run triple tied the game in the ninth, became the first player in post-season history to hit a pair of tying or winning hits in the ninth inning or later.

Meanwhile, twice Texas was within a strike of a championship, and lost. The Rangers appeared to have victory in their grasp when Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer in the top of the 10th, and lost.

And the headlines quickly changed from “My Gosh, Josh” to “Deep Freese.”

Some are already calling it the best World Series game in history. And it may well be.

But there have been plenty of great World Series Game 6 contests. Before the Cardinals’ heroics, this would be the SportsLifer Top 10:

1975 — Red Sox 7, Reds 6, 12 innings, Fenway Park, Boston
Following three days of rain in New England, the World Series resumed with Cincinnati holding a 3-2 lead  in games. The Reds took a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning before Boston pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo hit a two-out, three-run homer to tie the score. Dwight Evans saved the day for the Red Sox with a great catch on Joe Morgan’s bid for a game-winning hit in the 11th. Then Boston’s Carlton Fisk, right,  wishing the ball fair, homered off the left-field foul pole leading off the 12th to send Boston into delirium.

1993 — Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6, Skydome, Toronto
Phillies closer Mitch Williams was brought in to protect a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but walked leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson and surrendered a one-out single to Paul Molitor. On a 2-2 count, Toronto’s Joe Carter sent a home run over the left field fence to give the Blue Jays the 8-6 win and their second consecutive World Championship. Carter joined Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski as the only players to end World Series with walk-off home runs.

1986 — Mets 6, Red Sox 5, 11 innings, Shea Stadium, New York
The Red Sox were one out (and later one strike) away from winning their first World Series since 1918 before the Mets rallied. Singles by Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight produced a run, then Bob Stanley unleashed a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Mookie Wilson then tapped a little dribbler down the first base line that went through the legs of Bill Buckner as Knight raced home with the winning run.

1991 — Twins 4, Braves 3, 11 innings, the Metrodome, Minneapolis
The Twins and Braves entered the bottom of the 11th inning tied at 3-3. Minnesota center-fielder Kirby Puckett, left, who earlier in the game made a great catch to rob Atlanta’s Ron Gant, crushed a 2-1 liner over the  left-center field wall to send the Series to a seventh game. The image of Puckett rounding the bases, arms raised in triumph, was punctuated by CBS broadcaster Jack Buck saying “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” The Twins then won Game 7, 1-0, in 10 innings behind Jack Morris.

1953 Yankees 4, Dodgers 3,  Yankee Stadium, New York
Yankee second baseman Billy Martin, who had 12 hits and 8 RBIs while batting .500 in the series, knocked in Hank Bauer from second base with the game-winning run in the ninth inning to give the Bombers a record fifth straight World Championship. Brooklyn had rallied to tie the score in the top of the ninth on a two-run home run by Carl Furillo

2002 — Angels 6, Giants 5, Edison Field, Anaheim
Trailing 5-0 in the seventh inning, the Angels drew closer on Scott Spiezio’s three-run homer. Darin Erstad homered to lead off the eighth, then Troy Glaus belted a two-run double to give the Angels the win. Anaheim would go on to win Game 7, 4-1, for their only World Championship, denying the Giants their first title since moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958

1935 Tigers 4, Cubs 3, Navin Field, Detroit
With the score tied 3-3, the Cubs stranded Stan Hack on third base with nobody out in the top of the ninth. Detroit catcher Mickey Cochrane led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and scored the winning run two outs later on Goose Goslin’s base hit to right field. Detroit won its first World Series, while the Cubs continued their championship drought, which has now reached 104 years.

1977 — Yankees 8, Dodgers 4, Yankee Stadium, New York
The legend of Mr. October was born on a cool night in the Bronx. New York’s Reggie Jackson, below, joined Babe Ruth as the only players to hit three home runs in a World Series game in leading the Yankees to their first title in 15 years. Jackson hit a record five home runs, including four in his final four at bats, to earn World Series MVP honors.

1985 — Royals 2, Cardinals 1,  Royals Stadium, Kansas City
Down 1-0 and three outs from elimination, the Royals get a break when umpire Don Denkinger called  Jorge Orta safe on a disputed play at first base. After a single by Steve Balboni and a sacrifice, pinch-hitter Dan Iorg knocked in the tying and winning runs to force a Game 7. The Royals win 11-0 to win the Show Me State World Series and their only World Championship.

1958 — Yankees 4, Braves 3, 10 innings, County Stadium, Milwaukee
The Yankees, who trailed the Series 3-1 at one point, won Game 5 to send the festivities back to Milwaukee. A home run by Gil McDougald and run scoring single by Bill Skowron gave the Yankees a two-run lead in the top of the 10th, but Hank Aaron pulled the Braves within a run with an RBI single. With the potential tying and winning runs on base, Frank Torre lined out to McDougald at second base.

Honorable Mention
1992 – Blue Jays 4, Braves 3, 11 innings, Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta
Dave Winfield’s two-run doubles gives Toronto its first World Championship.

1971 — Orioles 3, Pirates 2, 10 innings, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore
Brooks Robinson’s sacrifice fly plates Frank Robinson with the winning run.

1956 — Dodgers 1, Yankees 0, 10 innings, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn
The Dodgers Clem Labine and Yankees Bob Turley traded zeroes into extra innings before Jackie Robinson’s single over the head of New York left-fielder Enos Slaughter drove in Jim Gilliam.

1945 — Cubs 8, Tigers 7, 12 innings, Wrigley Field, Chicago
Stan Hack’s double drives home the winning run in the last World Series game the Cubs have won.


7 Up: There’s Nothing Like Game 7

Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre homers in Game Five win over St. Louis.

(This is a blog I first posted on October 25, 2008, during the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and the Rays. Philadelphia won that Series in five games. Here, three years later, on the eve of a sixth game between the Cardinals and the Rangers, we’re still hoping for a Game Seven.)

We need a seven-game World Series. This year.

There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. One game. Winner take all.

Throughout baseball history, there have been 35 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903.

The last seven-game series in 2002 saw the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.

The previous year, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera  in the bottom of the ninth.

Since 1987, the only other seven-game series occurred in 1991 when the Twins beat the Braves, and 1997 when the Marlins beat the Indians, both in walk-off extra inning games.

Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning for the Twins win. Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave Florida a 3-2 win and the championship.

Walk-Off Wins

There have been a total of six walk-off wins in Game Seven overall. The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912  when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win.

Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.

And in 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won seven seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967 and 1982), a record. Not surprisingly, the Yankees have played in the most, winning five out of eleven.

The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns. St. Louis Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, above right, pitched in three seventh games in four seasons, beating the Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967 before losing to the Tigers in 1968.

The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).

Other Game Seven facts and figures that may interest only me:

  • A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 35.
  • Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
  • Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Dodgers and then the Braves.
  • All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
  • The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
  • The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series, 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game Seven.
  • There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the biggest gap in baseball history.
  • The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game Sevens, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.