Throughout baseball history, great players have produced great moments in dramatic games, and Hall of Fame members are no exception, providing numerous memorable moments in a winner-take-all contests of the Fall Classic. Here are ten moments (all by future Hall of Famers) to chew on, in chronological order:
Walter Johnson, 1924
In one of the most exciting games in World Series history, Johnson emerged from the bullpen in the ninth inning of a 3-3 tie, after throwing a complete game just two days earlier. He pitched four innings, fanning five and pitching out of trouble in the ninth, 10th and 11th frames. Johnson’s Senators won 4-3 in the bottom of the 12th after Giants’ catcher Hank Gowdy dropped a foul fly, giving Muddy Ruel new life to double and set up Earl McNeely’s RBI-single. The “Big Train” had hurled the last four innings to get the win, shutting down New York on just three hits. It was to be Washington’s only World Series title.
Pete Alexander, 1926
In a scene later immortalized in the movie The Winning Team (starring Ronald Reagan), Alexander entered the game in the last of the seventh inning, striking out Yankee second baseman Tony Lazzeri with the bases full to preserve the Cardinals’ 3-2 lead. Despite having hurled a complete game victory the previous day, the veteran right-hander proceeded to shut out the Yankees in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing only one walk (to Babe Ruth who was thrown out stealing to end the series) and saving the first World Series title in franchise history.
Dizzy Dean, 1934
The Cardinals blasted Detroit 11-0, scoring seven runs in the third inning, in a game that saw commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis remove Cardinals’ left fielder Joe Medwick from the game for his own protection after Detroit fans pelted him with debris. Tiger faithful had taken umbrage with Medwick’s hard slide into third base in the sixth. The ruckus failed to bother Dean, who did more than handcuff the Tigers on six hits and no walks, as he also produced two doubles, scored the game’s first run and drove in a run. It was the crowning achievement of Dean’s amazing 1934 season, when he won 30 games and the Most Valuable Player Award.
Enos Slaughter, 1946
With the Red Sox and Cardinals deadlocked 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Slaughter led off with a single and was still resting there two outs later. When Harry Walker lined a hit into the left-center field gap, Slaughter put it into high gear, scoring the go-ahead run just before shortstop Johnny Pesky’s throw arrived at home. The Boston shortstop had hesitated just slightly upon receiving the ball from the outfield, which allowed the hustling Slaughter to make his “Mad Dash” with what was ultimately the series-winning tally.
Yogi Berra, 1956
The Yankee catcher had one of the best days of his many post-season appearances, hitting two home runs, scoring three runs and driving in four, as the Yankees prevailed 9-0 and avenged their loss to the Dodgers in the World Series the year before. The mitt Berra wore during that Series is in the Hall of Fame collection.
Bill Mazeroski, 1960
Trailing 7-4 in the eighth inning, the Pirates scored five times to snatch a 9-7 lead. After the Yankees tallied two in the top of the ninth to tie the game on Yogi Berra’s homer, the stage was set for Mazeroski. Facing Ralph Terry to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Mazeroski hit the second pitch over the ivy-covered left field wall at Forbes Field, winning the game and the series for Pittsburgh, 10-9. Mazeroski’s helmet, which he waved in his hand as he rounded the bases, is in the Hall of Fame collection.
Sandy Koufax, 1965
Koufax pitched the Dodgers to a 2-0 victory, retiring 20 of the last 23 Minnesota batters he faced. The Dodger left-hander went the distance, allowing just three hits and fanning ten batters for his second victory of the Fall Classic. Koufax’ ERA for the series was 0.38 with 29 strikeouts in two complete games.
Bob Gibson, 1967
Gibson figured heavily in his second Game Seven win (also having triumphed against the Yankees in 1964). The gritty hurler allowed just three hits and struck out ten batters as St. Louis defeated the Red Sox, 7-2. World Series Most Valuable Player Gibson did more than use his legendary right-arm, he also hit a solo home run to help his cause.
Willie Stargell, 1979
The Pirates were an improbable champion, rallying from a three games to one deficit to spoil the Orioles’ bid. As he had been all season, Stargell was clutch for the Pirates, blasting a home run, two doubles and a single as the Pirates won Game Seven, 4-1. His two-run homer in the sixth inning erased Baltimore’s 1-0 lead. “Pops” hit .400 with four homers in the series to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
George Brett, 1985
Brett became the third future Hall of Famer to collect four hits in a Game Seven, joining Max Carey (1925) and Willie Stargell (1979). In vanquishing the Cardinals, Brett was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base as the Royals won Game Seven, 11-0.
Jack Morris, 1991
Most people think this game got Morris into the Hall of Fame. If so, why not? It’s most likely the most clutch performance in postseason history: a ten-inning shutout where Morris refused to allow the Braves to beat his Twins. It’s one of the greatest games in baseball history.
Randy Johnson, 2001
In a bizarre and dramatic World Series held only a month after the tragedy of 9/11, Johnson emerged as the star. After winning two games he started, Johnson came out of the bullpen in the eighth inning of Game Seven to wriggle out of a jam. He pitched a perfect ninth to keep his team within a run. The Diamondbacks rallied off Mariano Rivera for two runs in the bottom of the ninth and Big Unit got his third victory of the Fall Classic, the first pitcher in 32 years to do that.