The World Series has now been contested for well over a century, producing great moments of both triumph and defeat. There have been great accomplishments, great moments of drama and even great mistakes, all of which have created a large legacy for the event.
In baseball, there are not many more memorable moments than a big hit that wins a World Series. This has happened a few times over the years, including 1953, when the Yankees’ Billy Martin got a single through the middle of the infield to score the game winning run and give the Yankee a record fifth straight World Series win. But even more memorable than Martin’s hit have been the few World Series that have ended on a home run. In 1993, Joe Carter of the Blue Jays hit a home run off of Matt Williams of the Phillies to win a second straight series for Toronto.
Carter’s home run took place in game six, so even if he hadn’t hit it and the Blue jays lost the game, they would still have had a chance to win the series. That why another Series-winning home run, hit by Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates in 1960, was even more dramatic.
Mazeroski was enshrined in the baseball Hall Of Fame primarily because of his outstanding fielding. He was not a particularly good hitter and not known for his power. But his most famous moment in the game and one of the five most memorable moments in World Series history was a home run he hit In the seventh game of the 1960 Series. Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning by hitting a pitch thrown by Yankee Ralph Terry over the left field fence in Forbes Field in Pittsburgh to give the Pirates their first World Series win since 1925.
There have been other famous home runs in World Series play, though none of them as dramatic as Mazeroski’s. One of the most memorable was hit 15 years later, by Carloton Fisk. It ended one of the most dramatic games in Series history, game six of the 1975 Series between Boston and Cincinnati. In the fifteenth inning, Fisk hit a ball off the foul pole in left field at Fenway Park to win the game. The homer was made more memorable by the television coverage of the event, which showed Fisk gesturing wildly with his hands as if to signal to the ball to stay fair.
Despite Fisk’s home run, the Red Sox still lost the World Series the next night in game seven and would have to wait almost 30 years before they ended a championship drought which had gone back to 1918.
Two years later, there was not one but three home runs hit by one player in a World Series game. They were hit by Reggie Jackson of the Yankees which gave the team their first World Series win in 13 years. Though three home runs had been hit in a World Series game before, it had never been done as dramatically as Jackson did on a cold October night at Yankee Stadium. He hit his three home runs on just three pitches against three different Dodgers pitchers, with the last of the three being a particularly prodigious shot into center field.
There have also been some bad plays that have become well-remembered in the World Series, One of them is now so long ago that it has become buried under many layers of history. In 1912, Fred Snodgrass of the Giants dropped a ball which helped the Red Sox win a World Series. The level of culpability of Snodgrass in the play has been disputed and the Giants’ famous manager, John McGraw, never blamed him for the loss. Still, Snodgrass’ play was long noted as the deciding error in the game and the 1912 Series.
Almost seventy-five years later, another fielding mistake in a World Series would be even more memorable and would create misery for another player. Again, the play involved the Red Sox, but this time it was their player, Bill Buckner, who committed an error. In the tenth inning, he let a ground ball by Mookie Wilson of the Mets get through his legs which allowed the winning run to score.
Before Buckner’s error, there were three Mets batters who came up in the inning. The Red Sox needing just one out that would have ended the game and won their first World Series in nearly 60 years. But all three got hits before Wilson came up. Whether Buckner, with very bad legs late in his career, should have still been in the game is one question. The batter Wilson also claims he would have been safe on the play anyway. In any case, the Red Sox still had a chance to win the Series in game seven, but they lost.
The most memorabl moment in World Series play was created by a pitcher. There have been some great moments in Series history which have been the result of great pitching. As far back as 1917, Babe Ruth set a consecutive scoring streak which lasted more than forty years. Then many years later in 1963, Sandy Koufax set a Series strikeout record, which was then bettered in 1968 by another great pitcher, Bob Gibson. But In 1956, Don Larsen, who did not have a particularly memorable career, pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. He retired all 27 Brooklyn Dodgers on a Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Larsen’s achievement has never been matched and rarely approached. Though there have been many great performances and dramatic moments in the history of the event, Larsen’s achievement ranks as the most memorable moment ever in a World Series.