June 19, 2024

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10 greatest moments in World Series history

Mariano Rivera
Yankees pitcher Mariano River pitched out of a jam in the 9th inning against the Red Sox, at Fenway Park in Boston, Ma. Sept. 24, 2004. ( Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News ) Yankee Red Sox

Every year during the fight over the Commissioner’s Trophy, the World Series offers the promise that it will contain some of the best World Series moments of all time.

Of course, joining a list of the greatest World Series moments ever isn’t easy. After all, there have been over 100 Fall Classics in baseball history, so the competition is fierce. 

Best World Series moments

Of course, there has been no shortage of amazing moments during the long history of the World Series. That gave us a lot of options when choosing the top World Series moments of all time. In fact, just limiting it to 10 moments was a challenge. While we admit this topic is still up for debate, here is our list of the 10 best World Series moments in baseball history.

10. David Freese saves the day (2011)

David Freese was MVP of the 2011 World Series, coming up big time after time, including twice in Game 6.

With the Rangers one out away from winning the series, Freese lashed a triple to right field to tie the game and force extra innings. He then came up in the bottom of the 11th and hit a walk-off homer to win the game and force a Game 7. The Cardinals won Game 7, which never would have happened if not for two massive hits by Freese. 

9. Reggie Jackson becomes Mr. October (1977)

Technically, this is three moments, but it was the combination of those three homers that gave Reggie Jackson the nickname of Mr. October. With the Yankees one win away from clinching the series in Game 6, Jackson homered in three consecutive at-bats.

To date, only four players have hit three home runs in a World Series game. In Jackson’s case, his homers put the Yankees over the top and won them the championship. 

8. Mariano Rivera’s blown save (2001)

Nobody will ever take away Mariano Rivera’s status as the best closer of all time. But in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, the Diamondbacks got the better of him.

The Yankees scored a run in the seventh and another in the eighth to take a 2-1 lead, giving the ball to Rivera for a two-inning save.

But after Rivera threw one scoreless inning, he failed to seal the deal in the bottom of the ninth. A couple of defensive miscues, including an error by Rivera, opened the door for the Diamondbacks. That led to Luis Gonzalez lofting a ball over the head of shortstop Derek Jeter to score the winning run, giving the Diamondbacks a walk-off win in Game 7 against the greatest closer in baseball history.

7. Willie Mays makes “The Catch” (1954)

At least one defensive play deserves to be among the greatest World Series moments of all time. Fittingly, it was Willie Mays who provided the best defensive play ever seen in the Fall Classic.

It came during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series when Mays ran a country mile to the warning track at the Polo Grounds (which was 483 feet to center field) and made an over-the-shoulder catch.

Mays and the Giants would eventually sweep the series, although his amazing catch came in the eighth inning of a tied game and could have swung the momentum of the series in a different direction if not for the catch.

6. Kirby Puckett forces Game 7 (1991)

The 1991 World Series was filled with memorable moments that helped to make it one of the best World Series ever played. But the single greatest moment came at the end of Game 6.

The Twins were facing elimination at home with the game going to extra innings. Kirby Puckett, a Minnesota sports legend outside of this moment, was oddly patient in his at-bat to lead off the bottom of the 11th.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he swung and knocked the ball over the fence in left-center field to win the game and force a Game 7, which the Twins went on to win. Upon seeing Puckett’s ball reach the stands, announcer Jack Buck simply remarked: “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.”

5. Carlton Fisk waves his homer fair (1975)

Even though the Red Sox would lose Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, they still celebrate Carlton Fisk’s heroics to win Game 6.

Facing elimination, the Red Sox needed three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game and then held their breath as the game remained tied into the 12th inning. In the bottom of the 12th, Fisk pulled a pitch off Pat Darcy and famously waved his hands in the air, hoping it would help keep the ball fair.

In the end, the ball hit the foul pole, ending one of the most compelling World Series games ever played and forcing a Game 7.

4. Kirk Gibson’s hobbled home run (1988)

Without question, Kirk Gibson’s home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is the most unlikely event on our list of the best World Series moments. Gibson had injuries to both of his legs and could barely walk to the plate to face Dennis Eckersley.

But with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Gibson was chosen to pinch-hit, representing the game-winning run. He proceeded to pull a ball over the right-field fence, allowing him to gingerly job around the bases while pumping his fists.

In the broadcast booth, the legendary Vin Scully said: “the impossible has happened.” Gibson’s homer won Game 1 of the series with the Dodgers winning the series in five games.

3. Joe Carter’s walk-off home run (1993)

While it wasn’t Game 7, Joe Carter still managed to end the 1993 World Series on a walk-off home run. The Phillies took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth, hoping to force a Game 7. But Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams couldn’t get the save.

He got one out but also walked one and gave up a single, bringing Carter to the plate as the winning run.

Carter smacked a line drive that just barely got over the wall but went far enough to end the series on a home run. As Carter galloped around the bases, Toronto radio announcer Tom Cheek exclaimed: “Touch ’em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!” making the moment iconic in baseball history.

2. Bill Buckner’s folly (1986)

For everyone but Bill Buckner and Red Sox fans, this is surely one of the top World Series moments of all time and the crux of one of the most entertaining World Series ever played.

The Red Sox were one strike away from winning the World Series on several pitches during Game 6 against the Mets. They were so close that the scoreboard at Shea Stadium accidentally flashed a congratulatory message to Boston.

But with two outs, the Mets strung together a few hits and then scored the tying run on a wild pitch with Mookie Wilson at the plate. To his credit, Wilson kept fouling off pitches to prolong the at-bat. He finally put a ball in play that Buckner let roll between his legs, allowing the game-winning run to score, forcing a Game 7 that the Mets would also go on to win in comeback fashion.

1. Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run (1960)

There’s only been one instance of a walk-off home run ending Game 7 of the World Series, which is why Bill Mazeroski’s homer to end the 1960 Fall Classic has to be at the top of the greatest World Series moments ever. Mazeroski is also an unlikely hero, as he was known more for his defense than his power as an eight-time Gold Glove winner. The setup for that moment made the home run even more dramatic.

The Pirates had scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 9-7 lead, only for the Yankees to get two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Mazeroski led off the inning and was probably just trying to get on base as the winning run. But he took the second pitch he saw off Ralph Terry and hit it over the fence at Forbes Field to give the Pirates a dramatic World Series win on their home field.