The 10 greatest World Series games

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
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There have been 626 World Series games, from Deacon Phillippe battling Cy Young at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds on Oct. 1, 1903, to Doug Fister facing Madison Bumgarner on a postcard evening in San Francisco.

Whitey Ford has started the most games for a pitcher -- 22. Good luck breaking that mark. The oldest pitcher to start was Jack Quinn, 46 years and 103 days old when he took the hill for the Philadelphia A’s in Game 4 in 1929. (That turned out to be one of the more famous games in World Series history when the A’s scored 10 runs in the seventh inning to beat the Cubs 10-8.) The youngest pitcher to start was Bullet Joe Bush of the 1913 A’s, at 20 years and 316 days, 40 days younger than Fernando Valenzuela for the 1981 Dodgers. Bumgarner was the fifth-youngest to start when he threw eight shutout innings for the Giants in Game 4 in 2010.

That was a memorable game, but it doesn’t come close to cracking this list: my 10 greatest World Series games.

[+] EnlargeKirk Gibson
AP Photo/Rusty KennedyKirk Gibson rounds the bases after hitting a game-winning home run to beat the A's in the first game of the 1988 World Series.
10. Game 1, 1988: Dodgers 5, A’s 4
Most people would rate this one higher, and there’s no doubt Kirk Gibson’s home run ranks as one of the most stirring moments in World Series history. But it’s more great moment than great game other than that home run, and I also downgrade since it was Game 1.

9. Game 4, 1993: Blue Jays 15, Phillies 14
We all remember Joe Carter’s home run to win the series in Game 6, but this game was arguably the craziest, wackiest game in World Series history as the teams combined for a record 29 runs and record-tying 32 hits. Behind Lenny Dykstra’s two home runs, the Phillies led 14-9 entering the top of the eighth. Larry Andersen was replaced with one out after a single, walk and double. Enter Mitch Williams, after which the Jays went single, walk, strikeout, single and, finally, a two-run triple by Devon White. And now you know why Phillies fans knew what was coming when Williams entered to protect another lead in Game 6.

8. Game 7, 1924: Senators 4, Giants 3 (12 innings)
OK, nobody reading this blog was at this game, but it has a pretty good backstory besides the Senators winning in 12 innings. Legendary Walter Johnson had finally reached his first World Series at age 36, but had lost his two starts. The Senators tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the eighth and Johnson entered in relief in the ninth.

He escaped a one-out, runner-on-third jam that inning. In the 10th, he walked the leadoff hitter but induced a double play. He worked around a leadoff single in the 11th and again in the 12th. Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, the Senators pushed across the winning run. Muddy Ruel doubled after his foul popup was dropped and Earl McNeely doubled him home. Johnson had his win.

7. Game 6, 1956: Yankees 2, Dodgers 0
Sometimes the big moment defines the game more than the game itself. Like Gibson’s home run, this one is about the moment: Don Larsen getting that 27th out in a row.

6. Game 6, 1975: Red Sox 7, Reds 6 (12 innings)
Three days of rain helped build tension for this classic from Fenway. The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first on Fred Lynn’s three-run homer, but the Reds surged to a 6-3 lead. Bernie Carbo’s two-out, pinch-hit, three-run homer in the eighth tied it. The Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth but failed to score when George Foster caught Lynn’s shallow hit to left and gunned down Denny Doyle at the plate. In the 11th, Dwight Evans made a spectacular catch of Joe Morgan’s drive to right and doubled Ken Griffey Sr. off the first. Finally, Carlton Fisk famously waved the ball fair in the 12th.

The only problem here: The Reds won Game 7.

5. Game 6, 2011: Cardinals 10, Rangers 9 (11 innings)
It’s hard to argue against the action in this one: The game featured six lead changes and five ties. The Cardinals were one strike from elimination in the ninth when David Freese tripled just over the head of Nelson Cruz to score two runs to tie the game. Josh Hamilton blasted a two-run homer in the 10th, but the Cardinals tied it up again. Finally, Freese homered to win it. Dramatic and unbelievable, absolutely, but the game did feature five errors and 12 walks, so it wasn’t necessarily the most artfully played game.

4. Game 6, 1986: Mets 6, Red Sox 5 (10 innings)
All these years later, it’s still a shocking ending.

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3. Game 7, 1991: Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings)
Anybody who thinks a low-scoring baseball game is boring has never watched this one. Beyond the Jack Morris masterpiece, it was the clinching game of a drama-filled World Series that saw five one-run games (three in extra innings), with four won in walk-off fashion.

2. Game 7, 2001: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2
Maybe I’m biased since I was at this one, but this one combines the stunning ending of 1986 along with the drama of earlier games like 1991 plus a Roger Clemens-Curt Schilling pitching matchup and a rally against the greatest relief pitcher of all time and the defeat of the three-time defending champs.

1. Game 7, 1960: Pirates 10, Yankees 9
David slays Goliath in the greatest game ever played.

David Schoenfield | email

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