Ah yes, the penultimate event in sports. The one day of the year when the terms “Clayton Kershaw” and “bullpen” are suddenly not just a possibility, but might even be an inevitability. It’s nine innings of “anything can happen”, when the intellectual fans imagination runs wild, and even the casual fans can’t overlook the intense drama that overwhelms all those who participate. Tonight, we witness the 39th time this has happened, and we take a moment to reflect on how we got here, reflecting on some of the best Game 7’s of all time….
1909: The Pittsburg Pirates Defeat the Detroit Tigers: 8-0
The World Series that will forever be remembered for two players, Pittsburg’s Honus Wagner and Detroit’s Ty Cobb was summed up with a strong pitching performance by Babe Adams, shutting out the Tigers and quieting the volatile Cobb’s bat in the first Game 7 ever played.
1926: The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the New York Yankees: 3-2
In probably the most head scratching conclusion to a deciding game ever (well, maybe the “Merkle boner”), Babe Ruth was caught stealing second base in a one run game to end the series, and hand victory to the Cardinals.
1955: The Brooklyn Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees: 2-0
“Dem Bums” finally took home their first fall classic, behind a shutout performance by Johnny Podres against a dangerous Yankees lineup. It would be the only title they would win in the stadium built in Pigtown, as they relocated to San Francisco after the 1957 World Series (which they lost in 7 to the Yankees, Jackie Robinson’s final game)
1960: The Pittsburg Pirates defeat the New York Yankees: 10-9
The Pirates were outscored, outclassed, and outplayed by most accounts, but hung tough against an incredibly tough Yankee team, and in the bottom of the 9th, Ralph Terry served a hanging breaking ball to Bill Mazeroski, and he deposited it over the wall to win the series for the Pirates. It was the first Fall Classic to ever end on a home run.
1975: The Cincinnati Reds defeat the Boston Red Sox: 4-3
Just one night after “The Greatest Game Ever Played“, the “Big Red Machine” recovered to defeat the Red Sox in Fenway Park, continuing their epic title drought.
1986: The New York Mets defeat the Boston Red Sox: 8-5
One pitch before the ball squeezed past Bill Buckner’s legs at first base, the New York Mets were one strike away from elimination. By the time the last pitch was thrown, they were world champions, sealing their legacy as the only team to be one strike from elimination, only to come back and win the series.
1991: The Minnesota Twins defeat the Atlanta Braves: 1-0
In what many have described as the greatest World Series in the modern era, the culminating game saw Jack Morris pitch a 10 inning shutout, and the only run of the game score on a single to left field in the bottom of the 10th inning. To this day, it goes down as the gold standard of pitching performances in Game 7 history.
2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the New York Yankees: 3-2
In one of the most emotionally charged series ever, the country, just weeks removed from the devastating terror attacks at the World Trade Center rallied around it’s past time, and the team that represented a city under siege. The team delivered one of the most epic performances ever, three times coming back in the 9th inning or in extras to force a final game, only to fall a blooping line drive short of taking home the title. It would be Arizona’s only title in franchise history.
2011: The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers: 6-2
This would mark the 2nd time a team would be widdled to their final strike, and roar back to win the series. What happened?: David Freese happened.
2014: The San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals: 3-2
Madison Bumgarner tore through the Royals lineup, and seemed to have the series in hand, when Alex Gordon pumped a line drive to left that was bobbled in the outfield, and left him just 90 feet from tying the game. It is one of the most mused over plays in World Series history, with many believing that Gordon could have made it home. Instead, he stopped at third base, and Salvador Perez (who would win the World Series MVP the next year) flied out to give the Giants their third title in 6 years.
2016: The Chicago Cubs defeat the Cleveland Indians: 8-7 in 10 innings.
It is this writers opinion, that the latest of the Game 7’s is also the greatest. It led off with a home run, saw two runs score on a wild pitch, the most ridiculously dramatic game tying three run homer in the 9th (off the most intimidating closer in the game) a 17 minute rain delay in the ninth inning with the score tied, and the end of a century plus title drought. It was the fifth Game 7 to go into extra innings, and the first since 1997.
2017: The Houston Astros defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers: 5-1
All of Los Angeles held their breath when Dave Roberts ran out Yu Darvish, following a disastrous game 3 outing. By the fourth inning, they had all exhaled, but not because they were relaxed. Darvish imploded, allowing 5 runs in just 1 2/3 innings (tied for shortest in his career), and the Astros held the Dodgers to just one run the rest of the game. The Astros bullpen, that had been so volatile during the rest of the series, calmed down and set the stage for Charlie Morton to throw the final pitch to Brian McCann, and the lights went out on LA’s World Series hopes.