Game 7 of the World Series. For the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, it all comes down to tonight’s game. It is the ultimate drama. A close game can become an instant classic. A hero can be crowned and entered into lore. A goat can be remembered forever for all the wrong reasons. One fan base will cheer with delirious glee, while another will always ask what if. Since the World Series has been a seven-game affair, the championship was decided in a winner-take-all game 41 times, the last being the thriller in 2014, where “The Legend Of MadBum” was born. When a seven-month season comes down to one nine-inning game, some classic stuff tends to happen.
Here are my Top Five World Series Game 7’s:
1. 1960: Pirates 10, Yankees 9
This game is the gold standard of World Series Game 7’s. The New York Yankees dominated the series across the board, yet the Pirates hung in all series along. In a back-and-forth slugfest, the Yankees had a 7-4 lead entering the bottom of the eighth. The Pirates scored five and took a 9-7 lead. The Yankees tied it in the ninth on a single by Mickey Mantle and a Yogi Berra ground out. That set the stage for Bill Mazeroski’s defining moment, a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth that remains the only Game 7 decided on a walk-off home run.
2. 1991: Twins 1, Braves 0
This classic World Series ended with one of the greatest pitching duels of all time, with Jack Morris and John Smoltz going pitch for pitch, and leaving everything on the mound. Both teams escaped in the eighth inning, stranding runners on third base. Morris got the Braves out in the 10th, and Dan Gladden doubled to lead off the bottom of the 10th off Alejandro Pena. He went to third on a bunt, and after two intentional walks, Gene Larkin hit a single to end the series and give the Twins their second championship in four years.
3. 2001: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2
It was just a couple of months after the attacks of 9/11, and because the season was delayed, it was the first World Series played in November. New York seemed to be the team of destiny, and with Mariano Rivera, the best closer of all-time, on the mound with a 2-1 lead in the ninth, it seemed certain. But then Mark Grace singled, Rivera made an error, and Tony Womack hit an RBI double. Luis Gonzalez hit a jam-shot blooper over shortstop for the game-winner, and Arizona shocked the baseball world for its first title.
4. 1924: Senators 4, Giants 3 (12 innings)
A tremendous game that’s mostly forgotten because it was “pre-television,” but the purists always bring this game up. Washington won its first World Series thanks to two bad-hop grounders to third base, one of which came with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth that allowed the Senators to tie the game at 3-3. The second one came in the 12th, when Earl McNeely hit a ground back to third that hopped over Freddie Lindstrom, scoring Muddy Ruel with the game winner. Walter Johnson was the winning pitcher. Thirteen future Hall of Famers played in the series.
5. 1962: Yankees 1, Giants 0
There wasn’t even a RBI in this one, as the only run in the first 1-0 Game 7 scored in the fifth inning when Moose Skowron scored on a Tony Kubek double play. But the game was still highly dramatic as the Giants rallied in the ninth. After a bunt single by Matty Alou and two strikeouts, Willie Mays hit a double, putting Alou on third. Willie McCovey then hit a bullet right at Yankees shortstop Bill Richardson to end the series. A couple of feet higher, or to the left or right, and Mays would have scored, and the Giants would have won.