It’s October and baseball fans are set for the Fall Classic. The World Series is the main event in what many consider to be the best sports month of the year. The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are taking part in the 110th World Series in history. As that series gets heated up, let’s take a look back at the 10 most exciting World Series in history.
10) New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox, 1986
The Boston Red Sox were seen as heavy underdogs going into the 1986 World Series. While their 95 wins were impressive, the Mets had won 108 and finished atop their division by 21 1/2 games.
However the Red Sox stunned the Mets by taking the first two games at Shea Stadium. First, Bruce Hurst shut out the Mets in Game 1, allowing only four hits over eight innings.
The Mets sent young phenom Dwight Gooden to the mound for Game 2, but the Red Sox lit him up in a 9-3 win.
New York rebounded on the road, taking Games 3 and 4 in Boston by convincing scores of 7-1 and 6-2. The Mets were back on track and expected to go back to Queens with a chance to win the World Series.
However the Red Sox got to Gooden once again in Game 5, scoring four runs on nine hits off him in four-plus innings. They held on for a 4-2 win and had a chance to win their first World Series in 68 years and break the Curse of the Bambino.
They appeared to have it wrapped up, in one of the best games in World Series history. Scoring two runs in the 10th inning, the Red Sox led 5-3, three outs away. Manager John McNamara then took tremendous heat for leaving Bill Buckner, who was battling ankle injuries, in at first base. He also left in Calvin Schiraldi to pitch for an unusual third inning of work.
Schiraldi got two quick fly balls, putting Boston one out away. Then it all unravelled. Gary Carter singled, rookie pinch-hitter Kevin Mitchell singled, then Ray Knight singled to score Carter and bring Mitchell to third. Schiraldi was pulled, but the damage was done. A wild pitch by Bob Stanley allowed the tying run to score and moved Knight into scoring position. Mookie Wilson then hit a ground ball along first that infamously went through Buckner’s legs, giving the Mets the win.
The Red Sox were shellshocked, yet jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 7 only to lose 8-5. They would have to wait another 18 years to break the curse.
9) Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1946
Forty years before the 1986 classic, the Red Sox had a chance to break the curse before it really even was seen as one.
The series started out with a 3-2 Boston victory in 10 innings, before the Cardinals got the split at home with a 3-0 win in Game 2. The Red Sox then took two of three at Fenway Park, to put themselves within one win of their first World Series in 27 years, (see, not much of a curse yet, right?)
The Cardinals shut down the Sox in Game 6 with a 4-1 victory. The series’ best was saved for last.
After the Cardinals brought a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning, Boston tied the game when Dom DiMaggio hit a two-run double. The bottom of the eighth saw one of the gutsiest plays ever in baseball. Enos Slaughter shockingly scored from first base in what is called the Mad Dash. On what looked to be a simple base hit to left-centre field, the ball came back to cut-off man Johnny Pesky. As Pesky turned, he saw Slaughter rounding third and heading for home. Pesky had a mental lapse, throwing late to home and Slaughter was safe, giving St. Louis the series-winning run.
8) Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Yankees, 1955
You could make the argument for any of the Yankees/Dodgers World Series deserving a spot on the list. This World Series meant a lot, because after four losses in eight years to the Bronx Bombers in the Fall Classic, the Brooklyn Dodgers finally pulled through, winning the 1955 World Series in seven games.
It’s the only season the Dodgers won a World Series in Brooklyn and it gave the legendary Jackie Robinson a well deserved ring. Unfortunately Robinson did not see the field in this series, being on the tail-end of his career.
The home teams won the first six games of the series, with the Yankees taking the first two in the Bronx, before the Dodgers took three in Brooklyn. The Yankees forced a Game 7 with a 5-1 win in Game 6.
Johnny Podres shut out the Yankees with a 2-0 victory, earning the Series MVP Award. He pitched two complete games, with an ERA of 1.00.
7) Washington Senators vs. New York Giants, 1924
Four of the series’ seven games were decided by one run, including the last two, in a dramatic series win for the Washington Senators.
The Giants won Game 1 in 12 innings by a score of 4-3, but Washington rebounded with a 4-3 win of their own in Game 2 on a walk-off double.
The Giants then took two of the next three at home, putting themselves in position to win the World Series in the nation’s capital.
Bucky Harris’s two-run single in the fifth inning was all the scoring Washington needed in a 2-1 win in Game 6.
Game 7 provided more drama, as the Senators were down 3-1 in the eighth inning. The Sens managed to load the bases with two outs and manager/player Bucky Harris played hero once again. He hit a nasty hopper to third, which wasn’t fielded, allowing the tying run to score from second.
The game would go on to be the longest Game 7 in World Series history, going 12 innings. Again, the Senators got a good bounce when Earl McNeely’s bouncing ball found its way past third baseman Fred Lindstrom. Muddy Ruel scored the winning run on the play.
6) Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1979
The Pirates overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Baltimore Orioles back in 1979. Willie Stargell became the oldest World Series MVP at 39 years old and it capped an amazing era for the Pirates.
The Pirates got the split in Baltimore to open the series but dropped Games 3 and 4 at home, facing elimination at home in Game 5. Baltimore would score only two runs for the rest of the series, as the Pirates pitching rotation of Bert Blyleven, John Candeleria and Grant Jackson dominated.
Willie Stargell was the Game 7 hero, hitting four of five with two doubles and the series winning home run in the sixth inning, a two-run shot off of Scott McGregor.
5) St. Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers, 2011
Game 6 is what everyone remembers from this series.
The Cardinals and Rangers split the first two at Busch Stadium, before the Rangers took two of three in Arlington to head to within one game of their first World Series.
They got as close as one strike, twice. Up 7-5 in the final inning, David Freese hit a fly ball deep to right. It was just out of the reach of Nelson Cruz, which allowed Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman to score and tie the game at seven.
Josh Hamilton put the Rangers back on top in the tenth, smashing a two-run blast.
The Cardinals rallied in the tenth, again going down to their last strike. This time it was Lance Berkman, down to one strike, with his team trailing 9-8, before his single brought in Jon Jay to score to tie the game.
Hometown hero David Freese came to bat to lead off the bottom of the 11th, and on a full count launched the game-winning home run to centre field to force a Game 7.
The Rangers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 7, but couldn’t hold off the surging Cards, who took the game 6-2.
4) Boston Red Sox vs. Cincinnati Reds, 1975
More dramatics coming in Game 6, as Carlton Fisk was the hero of the game. Unfortunately, the Red Sox couldn’t build off of that and lost Game 7 to continue the curse.
Incredibly, five of the series’ seven games were decided by one run. The Red Sox took the opener 6-0, but the Reds rebounded with a 3-2 win in Game 2.
The Reds then won a thriller in Game 3, by a score of 6-5 in 10 innings. The Reds blew a 5-1 lead, but Joe Morgan drove in the winning run with the bases loaded in the 10th.
A five-run fourth inning gave Boston a 5-4 win in Game 4, but the Reds put them on the brink with a 6-2 win in Game 5.
Game 6 provided plenty of drama. The Sox were down 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth, but former Reds draft pick Bernie Carbo tied the game with a three-run blast to centre field.
The game saw plenty of chances for either team to win, but finally in the bottom of the 12th, Carlton Fisk hit a towering shot to left, waived at the ball to stay fair, and it did. The Sox forced Game 7 and the left field foul pole at Fenway is now known as Fisk’s pole.
Game 7 brought more drama. The Sox went out to an early 3-0 lead, but the Reds tied it at three when Pete Rose drove in Ken Griffey Sr. on a single in the seventh. In the ninth, the Reds took the lead when Joe Morgan hit a bloop single to drive in Griffey again. The Reds retired the Sox in the ninth with three straight outs, ending one of the best series in history.
3) Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Yankees, 1960
The 1960 World Series had to be included based on its ending alone. How often do you see a World Series won on a walkoff home run, much less in a Game 7?
Only one other game in the series was decided by one run, a 3-2 win by Pittsburgh in Game 4. The Pirates went back home up 3-2 and a chance to win the World Series but the Yankees forced a Game 7 with a 12-0 win in Game 6.
Game 7 was the series’ best, with many swings in momentum. The Pirates jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Yankees stormed back for seven unanswered runs, taking a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth. The Pirates chipped away and were down by one run after a Roberto Clemente chopper. Hal Smith followed with a three-run shot to give the Pirates a 9-7 lead going into the ninth.
The Yankees responded again. Yogi Berra’s ground ball tied the game at nine, heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Bill Mazeroski led off the inning and hit the second pitch he saw. The ball sailed over the left-field wall giving the Pirates the World Series. In no way should the Pirates have won the series, as they were outscored 55-27 over seven games, but they somehow got it done.
2) Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves, 1991
Some would argue this should be no.1 and it’s not a bad argument to make. Four games in this series were decided in the final inning, including three in extra innings. There was no going to bed early in this series. You had to suffer the next morning in order to enjoy it in full.
The Twins’ 5-2 win in Game 1 was their only win that came easy.
Scott Leius hit the game-winning home run in the eighth inning of Game 2, putting the Twins up 2-0 heading to Atlanta. It proved to be a homer’s series as the Braves won all three in Atlanta.
It began with a 12th inning walk-off in Game 3, when Mark Lemke hit a walk-off single. The Braves had blown a 4-1 lead in that game, but got the first of four games decided in the final inning.
The dramatics continued in Game 4, as the Braves went into the bottom of the ninth tied at two. Lemke again came up big with a triple, setting up a sac-fly for the winner. Shane Mack hit a fly ball, but the throw beat Lemke to the plate. Lemke perfectly executed a hook slide to avoid the tag, winning Game 4 for the Braves.
Game 5 was no contest, with Atlanta winning 14-5. The Twins desperately needed some magic at home and they got it.
Game 6 headed into extra innings tied at three, Kirby Puckett would face Charlie Liebrandt. Puckett worked the count to 2-1, before launching the game-winner to the left-centre field bleachers. Announcer Jack Buck famously said, “And, we’ll see you, tomorrow night!”
More drama was on the way. Game 7 went a full nine innings with no runs, with neither team really threatening. Jack Morris pitched arguably the best game in World Series history, pitching 10 innings of shutout baseball.
The Twins came out in the 10th with a chance to win it. Dan Gladden got on base and two intentional walks loaded the bases. Gene Larkin hit a fly ball over the outfield, who was playing shallow and the Twins took home the World Series, capping off an epic series with a 1-0 win.
1) Arizona Diamondbacks vs. New York Yankees, 2001
No World Series in the history of baseball was more important than this one, and it delivered.
Against the backdrop of 9/11, the attention turned to the city of New York, and the Yankees run to the Fall Classic was a great distraction for the Empire State.
America’s pastime needed to deliver and it did.
The World Series didn’t begin until October 27th, due to the 9/11 attacks temporarily delaying the season.
The Diamondbacks were looking for their first World Series, while the Yankees were trying for a 27th and a fourth straight. Arizona took the first two at home, before the Yankees rebounded at home with three straight one-run victories.
After a 2-1 win in Game 3, the Yankees trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the ninth in Game 4. Tino Martinez hit a two-run shot off of D-Backs closer Byung-Hyun Kim to tie the game.
In the tenth, Derek Jeter added to his legend, hitting a walk-off home run, and earned himself the nickname of “Mr. November”.
Kim blew another save in Game 5, when Scott Brosius hit a two-run shot to tie the game at two. In the 12th, the Yankees again got the win when Alfonso Soriano drove in the winning run.
After a 15-2 blowout win by Arizona in Game 6, the stage was set for Game 7.
Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead solo blast in the top of the eighth to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. New York seemed to be on its way to winning the series with the seemingly invincible Mariano Rivera up for the save.
The most thrilling ninth inning took place. Mark Grace began with a single and advanced to second on an errant throw by Rivera off a bunt, which resulted in two men on with no outs. The next sacrifice bunt didn’t work, with Grace being thrown out at third. Tony Womack delivered on a 2-2 pitch, lining a double down the right field line to bring in the tying run and put the winning run 90 feet from the plate.
Rivera then hit Greg Counsell with a pitch, loading the bases with one out. Off a 0-1 pitch, Luis Gonzalez floated a hit towards second, going over the outstretched arm of Derek Jeter who was playing shallow, along with the rest of the infield. Jay Bell scored and Arizona had its first professional sports championship. It capped the greatest World Series in a year when the country needed one most.