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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Great World Series moments
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN Classic

Oct. 1, 1903: When the Boston Pilgrims of the young American League accepted a challenge from Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates, the modern World Series was born. Today in Boston, in the first inning of the first game, the Pirates jump on Cy Young, who had a 28-9 record in the regular season, for four runs, with three being unearned.

That's enough support for Pirates righthander Deacon Phillippe, who went 25-9. He strikes out 10 and wins 7-3 before some 16,000 fans. Rightfielder Jimmy Sebring leads the Pittsburgh offense with four runs batted in and hits the first ever Series homer.

The New York Times' coverage of the game is one paragraph.

The upstart Pilgrims will rebound and win the best-of-nine Series in eight games, with Bill Dineen winning three games and Young two.

Oct. 9, 1919: Amid rumors that the World Series is fixed, the Chicago White Sox lose the eighth and deciding game to Cincinnati 10-5 on the 48-year anniversary of Mrs. O'Leary's cow causing the worst fire in Chicago history. The Reds win the best-of-nine Series five games to three.

Chicago starter Lefty Williams was 23-11 during the season but had lost his first two Series starts. He doesn't last long today, removed with one out in the first after allowing two singles followed by two doubles. In 1921, Williams will be one of eight Black Sox banned from baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for throwing the Series.

The Reds score four runs in the first on the way to a 10-1 lead in Chicago. Hod Eller gains his second complete-game victory as Cincinnati wins its first Series.

Chicago's Shoeless Joe Jackson, who will be among those banned, leads all hitters (with at least eight at-bats) with a .375 batting average and his six RBI top the White Sox.

Oct. 12, 1929: No deficit is too large for the Philadelphia Athletics. Trailing the Chicago Cubs by eight runs in the seventh inning in Game 4 of the World Series, the Athletics put on a marvelous comeback.

It starts with Al Simmons leading off with a homer off Charlie Root. The next four hitters single, good for two more runs, before Root retires a batter. After another run-scoring single, Art Nehf relieves Root.

Mule Haas hits a low liner to center and, for the second time this inning, Hack Wilson loses this ball in the sun. The drive sails over his head and results in Mule kicking in with a three-run, inside-the-park homer to make it 8-7. "We're back in the game," Jimmy Dykes shouts, pounding 67-year-old manager Connie Mack on the back. The carnage continues though the Cubs use two more relievers. Jimmie Foxx's run-scoring single ties the game and Dykes' double to left drives in the final two runs.

The 10-run inning, a Series record, gives the Athletics a 10-8 victory in Philadelphia and the honor of having registered the greatest comeback in Series history.

Oct. 9, 1934: The St. Louis Cardinals have a commanding lead in Game 7 of the World Series when Ducky Medwick slides hard into third base with a triple in the sixth inning, and then kicks out with his left foot at Detroit Tigers third baseman Marvin Owen. Medwick misses his mark, but players from both teams rush to third base. The umpires separate them and restore peace.

When Medwick goes out to leftfield in the bottom of the inning, Detroit fans in the wooden bleachers pelt him with pop bottles, oranges and apples. After the attendants clear the debris, Medwick returns to his position, and the fans continue their barrage. Four times this goes on. Finally, after 20 minutes, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis orders Medwick's removal from the game, with the Cardinals leading 9-0. When Chick Fullis replaces Medwick in left, the crowd of 40,902 cheers the sub.

The Cardinals go on to win 11-0, behind Dizzy Dean's six-hitter, his second victory in the Series. His brother Daffy had won the other two games for the Cardinals.

Oct. 15, 1946: A mad dash around the bases by Enos Slaughter propels the St. Louis Cardinals to the world championship. With two outs in the home eighth inning and Game 7 tied 3-3, Slaughter is on first when Harry Walker lines the ball into left-center.

At first it doesn't appear that Slaughter will be able to score, but the Carolinian they call Country turns on the jets and never stops running. He crosses home before Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky, who gets the relay, can get the ball to the catcher. Slaughter's run gives the Cardinals a 4-3 lead and reliever Harry "The Cat" Brecheen makes it stand up.

Brecheen, who gave up a two-run double to Dom DiMaggio in the top of the eighth that tied the game, survives a first-and-third with one out scare in the ninth to record his third win in the World Series.

Slaughter modestly dismisses his heroic dash on Walker's double - not a single as it often is referred to in baseball lore. In the other locker room, Pesky takes the blame for the defeat.

"I'm the goat," he says. "I never expected he'd try to score. I couldn't hear anybody hollering at me above the noise of the crowd. I gave Slaughter at least six strides with the delay. I know I could have nailed him if I had suspected he would try for the plate."

Oct. 2, 1968: Sandy Koufax's record of 15 strikeouts in a World Series game will last exactly five years to the day. St. Louis Cardinals righthander Bob Gibson, the National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner with a 1.12 ERA, fans 17 Tigers in a five-hit, 4-0 whitewashing of Detroit in the Series opener.

Gibson gets the record in the ninth inning when he strikes out the side - Al Kaline, Norm Cash and Willie Horton.

Oct. 21, 1975: The sixth game of the World Series belongs to Carlton Fisk, but even before his at-bat in the 12th inning, there's plenty of drama. The Cincinnati Reds rally from a 3-0 deficit and are four outs away from the world championship when Boston's Bernie Carbo pinch-hits a three-run homer into Fenway Park's centerfield bleachers to tie the game 6-6 in the eighth inning.

The Red Sox have a chance to win in the ninth, but blow a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation. When Pete Rose comes to bat in the 11th, he is bubbling over with enthusiasm as he says to Fisk, "This is some kind of game, isn't it?"

The Boston catcher replies, "Some kind of game."

It gets even better. That inning, Boston's Dwight Evans robs Joe Morgan, preserving the tie with a sensational catch against the rightfield seats and starting a double play.

Leading off the bottom of the 12th, Fisk launches a long drive down the leftfield line off Pat Darcy. Worried that the ball might go foul, he furiously waves his hands for the ball to stay fair. It does, ricocheting off the foul pole. Boston's 7-6 victory evens the Series at three games apiece.

"I made sure I touched every base," Fisk says. "Even if I had to straight-arm people or knock them down, I made sure I touched every bit of white I saw out there."

Oct. 26, 1985: The Kansas City Royals aren't booing this umpire. Taking advantage of a blown call by first-base umpire Don Denkinger in the ninth inning, the Royals rally for a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 6 to even the World Series at three wins each.

St. Louis leads 1-0 in Kansas City when pinch-hitter Jorge Orta grounds to first baseman Jack Clark, who tosses to pitcher Todd Worrell, covering the bag. When Denkinger calls Orta safe, St. Louis is singing the blues.

"The whole inning was screwed up when they missed the call," says Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, who heatedly disagrees with Denkinger. "The American League umpires are prejudiced against us."

Worrell says, "Orta's foot hit my heel, and I had the ball by then. The umpire said something about how my foot came up off the base, but I'm told the TV replays showed that Orta was out by a half-step."

After Denkinger's mistake, Clark fails to catch a pop foul and the Royals go on to load the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Dane Iorg fulfills his childhood dream of winning a World Series game in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run single.

The next day, the Royals will win the Series with an 11-0 victory.

Oct. 15, 1988: It could only happen in Hollywood. Life imitates the movies (see "The Natural") when Kirk Gibson pulls a Roy Hobbs. For most of Game 1 of the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers' injured star is in the trainer's room, "sitting in a tub of ice like a broken-down racehorse," as Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray says.

It doesn't appear as if Gibson, who has a sprained ligament in his right knee and lingering soreness from a strained left hamstring, will play. Oakland relief ace Dennis Eckersley, protecting a 4-3 lead (courtesy of Jose Canseco's first career grand slam), retires the first two Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth. But Eckersley, who walked only 11 batters all season in compiling 45 saves, issues a pass to pinch-hitter Mike Davis.

Out of the dugout limps Gibson, batting for Alejandro Pena. The count runs full. Eckersley wants to throw a fastball, but acquiesces to catcher Ron Hassey, who signals for a slider. Gibson, using virtually one hand, turns on the pitch and bashes it over the rightfield wall to give the Dodgers a stunning 5-4 victory. Gibson pumps his arms rounding the bases as Dodger Stadium explodes.

The Dodgers will win the Series in five games. Gibson will not bat again.

Oct. 17, 1989: Just 15 minutes before Game 3 of the World Series between the Giants and Athletics, a massive earthquake, 6.9 on the Richter scale, strikes the San Francisco Bay area. At 5:04 p.m., Candlestick Park shakes for about 15 seconds. The earthquake cuts off power and causes concrete to fall from some sections of the upper deck. All thoughts of baseball vanish for the players and crowd of about 60,000.

"When the rumbling became more intense," says Don Robinson, the Giants' scheduled starter who is in the clubhouse when the earthquake hit, "I ran into [manager] Roger Craig's office and lay down under the doorway."

A half-hour later, Commissioner Fay Vincent postpones the game. Respectful of the disaster in the Bay area (63 will die), he refuses to speculate when or where the Series would resume. Fans and players move on to the field and head for the exits in the gathering twilight.

The Series will resume October 27, a postponement of 10 days. Oakland will win Games 3 and 4 to sweep the Series.

Oct. 27, 1991: The Twins and Braves, both of whom finished last in their divisions the previous season, put on an incredible World Series. Three game go into extra innings, something never done before. Five games, all decided by one run, go down to the winning team's last at-bat.

Tonight in Minneapolis, for the first time in 67 years, Game 7 goes into extra innings. Native son and Series MVP Jack Morris pitches 10 scoreless innings, the last after convincing his manager, Tom Kelly, to change his mind and keep him out there.

In the bottom of the tenth, Dan Gladden hustles a broken-bat fly to left-center into a double. After a sacrifice, Alejandro Pena intentionally walks the next two Twins. Then pinch-hitter Gene Larkin, batting only for the fourth time in the Series, lifts a fly to left-center over the drawn-in outfield for the game-winning single. This is only the second 1-0, Game 7 in history (Yankees over the Giants, 1962, was the other).

Oct. 23, 1993: A year ago, the World Series ended when Joe Carter caught the ball for the final out. Tonight, the World Series ends with a swing of Carter's bat.

Philadelphia leads Toronto 6-5 in Game 6 in the Skydome when Phillies closer Mitch Williams puts two runners on base with one out in the ninth inning, bringing up Carter. After the count goes to 2-2, Carter is just thinking base hit to tie the game. But when Carter, a low-ball hitter, gets a low slider, he sends it over the leftfield fence to give the defending champion Blue Jays an electrifying 8-6 victory.

"They haven't made that word up yet to describe what the feeling is," says Carter, who is the second player - Bill Mazeroski was the first - to end a World Series with a home run.

Oct. 28, 1995: Finally, Atlanta has a world champion. Behind the brilliant pitching of Tom Glavine and one swing from Dave Justice, the Braves become the first Atlanta team to win a major pro sports championship when they defeat the Cleveland Indians 1-0 in Game 6 to capture the World Series.

Before 51,875 screaming, dancing and chopping fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Glavine tommy-hawked the Indians, holding baseball's most potent lineup to just one hit - Tony Pena's soft single to center in the sixth - in eight innings. Mark Wohlers' 1-2-3 ninth secures the victory for Glavine, who is named Series MVP after his second victory over Cleveland.

A day earlier, Justice had ripped Braves fans for their lack of support. Behind the plate tonight, a fan holds a sign that reads: "Justice, hope your bat is as big as your mouth!" It is. It's prime-time Justice as the left-handed hitter homers off lefthanded reliever Jim Poole in the sixth to account for the game's only run.

When the Braves, who have been in Atlanta for 30 seasons, clinch the Series, owner Ted Turner grabs his wife Jane Fonda and gives her one huge kiss.

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