In our community, we have a very active and enthusiastic sports interest group. Headed up by a retired New York City schoolteacher, who is also the world’s biggest Giants fan, we’ve been fortunate enough to have visits from Fergie Jenkins, Josh Hamilton, Matt Williams, John D’Acquisto, Hall of Fame Baseball Executive Roland Hemond and dozens of other sports luminaries. Each Spring, as our homage to Spring Training and the new baseball season, we host a baseball panel discussion on a particular topic. In the past, we’ve reviewed the “Golden Age of Baseball” (the 50’s & 60’s), debated the Hall of Fame, previewed the upcoming season, rated the top ten players at each position, reviewed the ten greatest teams of all time, discussed All-Star teams by decade and reviewed the worst trades in history. So, for 2019, the topic was the 15 greatest moments in World Series history.
We chose that title to focus on great moments that led to a team winning the championship. That doesn’t mean “most memorable” or “most dramatic”, it means something great accomplished by an individual or team in their pursuit of excellence. So, you won’t be hearing about Bill Buckner’s error or Don Denkinger’s blown call or Mickey Owen’s passed ball. You also won’t be hearing about Carlton Fisk’s HR because the Red Sox didn’t win the 1975 Series.
The four of us voted to come up with the final 15 and there’s no doubt that some of you will feel an obvious choice was left out. That’s part of the fun of a baseball discussion. We also decided not to rank them from 1-to-15 because no two fans would ever agree on the proper order. Instead we presented them in chronological order and let the attendees decide how they compare.
Earlier this week in front of an enthusiastic audience, the panel presented their picks…
> 1905 – The Giants defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 4 games to 1 in a Series that featured one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history. Christy Mathewson pitched three shutouts in the span of six days allowing only 14 hits in 27 innings. He struck out 18 and walked only 1 after going 31-9 during the regular season.
> 1932 – The final appearance in the Fall Classic for the Yankee dynasty and Babe Ruth. The Yanks were in six World Series during the 1920’s and Ruth was still a superstar in ’32 at age 37. They defeated the Cubs in a four-game sweep that included Ruth’s famous and controversial “called shot”.
> 1954 – The Indians won a record 111 games to capture the AL pennant and were heavily favored over the New York Giants. That was all forgotten, as the Giants swept the Tribe in four games highlighted by Willie Mays’ historic catch in game 1.
> 1955 – The first championship for the “bums” of Brooklyn, as they won a dramatic 7-game series against the Yankees. The Dodgers Johnny Podres pitched a shutout in game 7 to clinch the title.
> 1956 – Another classic 7-game series between the Yankees & Dodgers and the Bronx Bombers came out on top. The famous moment is when Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the 5th game.
> 1960 – The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 in seven games but the Bucs prevailed when Bill Mazeroski hit that walk-off HR.
> 1965 – The Dodgers beat the Twins in seven games and Sandy Koufax won game 2, game 5 and game 7 (a 2-0 shutout on two days rest).
> 1970 – Possibly the only World Series decided by defense as Brooks Robinson put on a clinic around the 3rd base bag to lead the Orioles to a 4 games-to-1 game victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
> 1977 – The Yankees finished off a 6-game victory over the Dodgers with Reggie Jackson’s three HR game…and each Homer was hit off the first pitch.
> 1988 – The underdog Dodgers used Kirk Gibson’s walk-off HR in game 1 as the catalyst for a five-game series win over the Athletics.
> 1991 – Imagine a seven game Fall Classic where five of the games were decided by one run and three of them went into extra innings? Jack Morris and the Twins prevailed over the Atlanta Braves.
> 2001 – In the wake of 9/11, the Yankees & D’Backs captured the attention of the country with a dramatic seven game series that ended with Luis Gonzalez getting a base hit off Hall-of-Fame Closer Mariano Rivera.
> 2004 – The Red Sox finally ended the “Curse of the Bambino” by sweeping the Cardinals.
> 2014 – Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of Mathewson with a performance for the ages. He won games 1 & 5 and then saved game 7 against the Royals.
> 2016 – Another curse died as the Cubs topped the Indians in seven games of a most memorable series.
Did we miss one of your favorites?