When the Cavaliers shocked the Warriors to win the NBA Championship last month, Cleveland ended a string of 52 years without a championship, dating back to the Browns winning the NFL title against the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in 1964.
So now Minnesota – make that the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul – has the longest championship drought in North America professional sports.
Minnesota’s dry spell extends nearly 25 years, all the way back to October 27, 1991. That night the Twins behind Jack Morris beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in 10 innings to win Game 7 of the World Series. Kirby Puckett and his teammates had plenty to celebrate.
But since then, not a single Minnesota team – Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves or Wild – has even made it to a championship series.
Washington, D.C. is next on the list. The last championship for teams that represent our nation’s capital came in early 1992, when the Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl.
Ironically, the original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961. Washington hasn’t had a team in the World Series since 1933.
Toronto won its last championship in 1993 when the Blue Jays won the World Series on a dramatic, ninth inning home run by Joe Carter.
Houston last won a title in 1995 when the Rockets took the NBA crown. And Atlanta beat the Cleveland Indians later that year to win the World Series.
Like Cleveland, all the cities mentioned about have teams in at least three of the four major pro sports, baseball, football, basketball and hockey.
For cities that don’t have either basketball or hockey franchises, San Diego and Cincinnati have suffered the most. The Chargers last won a championship in 1963, when they humbled the Boston Patriots 51-10 for the AFL crown. The Cincinnati Reds last won the World Series in 1990, sweeping the Oakland A’s.
Nobody wants to be on this list, but Minnesota now tops the charts.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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, pictured left..
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.
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, pictured right.
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.
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.