Baseball’s Greatest Games
Has there ever been anything more American than the sport of baseball? Possibly apple pie, but I’ll digress. As the month of October wind’s its way to a close, so does another baseball season. Major League Baseball and A & E are looking to capitalize on this magical month with the release of Baseball’s Greatest Games, featuring 10 spectacular games from the 1960’s through the early 2000’s. There are regular season games, League Championship Series games, and, of course, World Series games. There is something in the collection for every fan. Not convinced? I think I can help change that mindset.
Let’s break the set down by the decades. First, the 1960’s.
There is one game from the 60’s represented in this set, but it’s a worthy representative of the decade. Game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees. Through the first six games, the Yankees had outscored the Pirates 46-17. Yet Pittsburgh had scratched and clawed their way to an even series. In the bottom of the ninth inning, an unlikely source of power strode to the plate. Bill Mazeroski, the light hitting second baseman of the Pirates, accomplished a feat never before or since seen in Major League Baseball. Mazeroski hit a homerun in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 to pull off an upset Series win over the Yankees.
The 70’s have two games in the set. One a slugfest in the north side of Chicago, the other a classic playoff game with an incredible finish.
First, the high scoring affair at Wrigley Field. It was a normal May spring day in Chicago in 1979, where the slumping Cubs played host to the powerful Philadelphia Phillies. When the wind blows hard out of Wrigley Field, anything can happen. The teams combined for 45 runs, with the Phillies winning 23-22. Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was voted by MLB Network as the greatest game of the last 50 years. After Boston tied the game in the 8th inning, both teams went scoreless for three and a half innings. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit a home run over the Green Monster in historic Fenway Park to send the Fenway Faithful into a state of hysterics
The 1980’s featured two tremendous playoff finishes. One ended with a surprise homerun, the other with an unfortunate blunder.
Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series pitted the Los Angeles Dodgers against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game was a pitchers duel, with neither team scoring in innings 5 through 8. With one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, light hitting shortstop Ozzie Smith hit his first career left handed homerun, sending the Cardinals to the World Series and inspiring announcer Jack Buck to make his now-famous call to St. Louis fans everywhere: “Go crazy folks. Go crazy!” Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was even more dramatic. The Boston Red Sox had not won the World Series since 1918. Heading into Game 6 against the New York Mets, the Sox were sitting pretty. They had a three games to one lead, and were up 5 runs to three heading into the bottom of the 10th inning. But the Mets hadn’t made this far on luck. New York led the Major Leagues in wins. They would never quit, which came through once again here in Game 6. With two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, Mets catcher Gary Carter got on base with a single, followed by Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight. The game was now suddenly tied at 5. When New York outfielder Mookie Wilson hit a routine groundball up the first base line, the game and the World Series appeared to be over. But nothing in baseball is routine. Red Sox first basemen Bill Buckner lowered his glove to ground level, and then inexplicably raised the glove a split second before the ball arrived. Before Buckner knew what had happened, the ball went between his legs, allowing Ray Knight to score the game-winning run from first base.
The 1990’s have three incredible games from three consecutive years in the early part of the decade.
The 1992 National League Championship Series matched the most dominant team of the first three years of the decade, the Pittsburgh Pirates, against the rising power of the Atlanta Braves, who as early as 1990 finished with the worst record in the National League. The game was dominated by pitching, with Pirates starter Doug Drabek shuting out Atlanta into the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, the Braves finally broke through, tying the game at 2-2. With two outs, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox sent rarely used pinch hitter Francisco Cabrera up to the plate. Sometimes baseball games are won more on a gut feeling than strategy. Cabrera hit a single, and for some curious reason the Braves sent Sid Bream home from second base. Bream was not the most fleet of foot player. He chugged and churned and pumped his arms, and with one incredible slide, was called safe at home to give Atlanta the win. One side note: in 1991, Sid Bream played for the team he had just help to beat, the Pirates.
The 1993 World Series featured the defending champion Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies. The two teams could not be more opposite. The Blue Jays featured the best players money could buy. The Phillies, meanwhile, were a scrappy ragtag group with a rough exterior. The money obviously paid off for the Jays, as they had taken a 3-2 lead in the Series. Toronto took an early 3-run lead, and added two more runs in the 4th and 5th innings. Things looked bleak for the Fightin’ Phills, until the 7th inning when they scored 5 runs to take the lead. The Philly faithful were hoping that a Game 7 would be imminent. In the bottom of the 9th, Toronto leftfielder Rickey Henderson led off with a walk. Paul Molitor was next up, and he hit a single. Now the stage was set for Philadelphia’s closer Mitch Williams vs. Blue Jay slugger Joe Carter. This round went to Carter, as he blasted a game and Series ending 3-run homerun to left field, in the process blowing the roof off the dome in Toronto.
Since I first mentioned three games in three consecutive years, you would be expecting a game from 1994. Well, I have thrown you all a curveball, so to speak. The third and final game from the 1990’s is actually from 1991. I just wanted to save the best for last. Game 7 of the 1991 World Series features the most thrilling pitchers duel in modern era baseball. John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings. His counterpart with the Minnesota Twins, Jack Morris, did even better, pitching a remarkable 10 shutout innings as the Twins won a thriller in 10 innings 1-0 to capture their second Series crown in 5 years.
The 2000’s include 2 games, in back-to-back years, featuring the same two teams. The 2003 ALCS Game 7 and the 2004 ALSC Game 4. Both games went extra innings, both ended on dramatic homeruns. The 2003 game ended when rarely used pinch hitter Aaron Boone led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a towering shot to left field, sending the Yankees into another World Series. In the 2004 game, the stakes were just as high. Boston was on the brink of elimination. New York had taken the first 3 games of the series. Game 4 was win or go home for the Sox. Boston was not about to go quietly. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th, Boston rallied of the games premiere closer Mariano Rivera to tie the game and send it into extra innings. In the 11th, Manny Ramirez led off with a single. And then, the hero emerged from the dugout. The man affectionately known as Big Papi strode to the plate and slammed a two run homer to right to give the Red Sox the victory. The win also propelled them to the greatest comeback in MLB playoff history, as the Red Sox would be the first team ever to be down 3 games to none and win a series. They would then go on to end the Curse of the Bambino and win their first World Series since 1918.
This is the ultimate set for any diehard baseball fan. Ten games from 5 decades, plus a bonus 11th disc, with interviews from players and coaches of all 10 games. Thanks to Major League Baseball and A & E, baseball season can last all 12 months of the year.
Baseball’s Greatest Games