It’s the two single words every sports fan, no matter what sport or team are playing at the time, want to hear: Game Seven.
The Kansas City Royals host the San Francisco Giants tonight in the final game of what has been a roller coaster 2014 Major League Baseball season. This marks the 41st time that a game seven will decide the World Series champion in what will be the final game of Bud Selig’s run as the Commissioner of baseball.
Baseball is a game that has a very rich history in American culture. There have been plenty of ups and plenty of downs in Major League Baseball’s 145 year history. Tonight will be another historic moment in a league that has had plenty of them. I took the time this morning to look back at my favorite moments in World Series history and came up with my top seven game sevens in World Series history.
7. The Florida Marlins win their first world championship on a wild walk-off (1997 Florida Marlins vs Cleveland Indians)
The 1997 Florida Marlins were a team of destiny that was bought in full by then owner Wayne Huizenga. The team had plenty of star power (Edgar Renteria, Bobby Bonnila, Moises Alou) on offense to compliment the stellar pitching in the post season of Kevin Brown and rookie Livan Hernandez. The Marlins would become the first wild-card team to win the World Series after beating the Cleveland Indians. The Marlins tied the game in the ninth inning and Renteria brought home the game winner in the 11th inning.
6. Oakland brings Bay Area first world Championship with victory over Reds (1972 Oakland Athletics vs. Cincinnati Reds)
The Oakland Athletics would pull in their first world championship since 1930, as the Philadelphia Athletics, with a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Gene Tenace and Sal Bando would deliver RBI doubles off of Reds pitcher Pedro Borbon in the sixth inning to decide the series. Rollie Fingers would shut the door for the Athletics, who would win their first of three world championships and the first for Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams.
5. Reds rebound from dramatic game six to win the world title in dramatic game seven (1975 Cincinnati Reds vs Boston Red Sox)
The Athletics would go on to win two more World Championships in ’73 and ’74. In 1975 the series was one for dramatics after Carlton Fisk’s iconic game six home run. The Boston Red Sox would jump to a 3-0 third inning lead in game seven. That would be all the run scoring the Red Sox would get as Joe Morgan would drive home Ken Griffey Sr. in the top of the ninth to seal a 4-3 victory for the Reds. Tony Perez would also hit his third home run in three games of the series for the Reds. Pete Rose was the Series MVP.
4. Mets score eight in three innings to take down already defeated Red Sox (1986 New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox)
The New York Mets received help from Bill Buckner as Mookie Wilson’s slow roller went through Buckner’s legs. Ray Knight would score the game winner of what was probably the greatest game six ever played. Bruce Hurst, the presumable MVP of the series going 2-0 coming into the seventh game, would bring a one hitter into the sixth inning when the Mets bats would come alive. Knight and Darryl Strawberry would go deep in an 8-5 win that would bring the New York Mets a second world championship in what would be one of the most dramatic World Series of all time. Knight would be named the Series MVP.
3. Jack Morris and John Smoltz pitch a classic in the Metrodome (1991 Atlanta Braves vs. Minnesota Twins)
This would go down as one of the greatest pitchers duels in World Series history. After Kirby Puckett won game six with an eleventh inning home run, Jack Morris would pitch ten shutout innings for the Twins as they would take down the Atlanta Braves 1-0 infront of over 55,000 fans in the Metrodome. After ignoring the request of Twins manager Tom Kelly, Morris would take the mound in the tenth inning to shut down the Braves offense. Braves manager Bobby Cox would intentionally walk Puckett and Ken Hrbek, to load the bases in the tenth inning to set up a series winning single by Gene Larkin. Morris would claim the MVP award after pitching a ten inning shutout which saw him throw 126 pitches.
2. “Diamondbacks Win! Diamondbacks Win!” (2001 New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks)
Roger Clemens vs. Kurt Schilling… This was the a match-up of two twenty-game winners to crown the world series champion. The Yankees were going for their fourth straight crown behind Clemens, who came into the game as the oldest pitcher to start a game seven ever (which will be broken by Giants pitcher Tim Hudson tonight). Schilling would pitch into the eighth inning when Alfanso Soriano would blast a home run to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Mariano Rivera would come into the game in the ninth inning to shut the door for the Yankees. But Arizona’s Tony Womack would double in the game tying run. With the bases loaded, Luis Gonzalez would bloop a single over the drawn in Derek Jeter that barley made it into the outfield, platting Jay Bell for the winning run in a 3-2 victory. This ended the Yankees chance of a fourth straight title and brought the Diamondbacks their first world championship within it’s fourth year of existance, making the Diamondbacks the fastest expansion team to win the World Series. This would also mark the state of Arizona’s first professional sports championship.
1. Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off homer wins Series for Pirates (1960 New York Yankees vs. Pittsburgh Pirates)
In the final postseason game at Forbes Field, the Pirates would comeback from a 7-4 eighth inning deficit to beat the New York Yankees 10-9 in a classic game seven that will go down as the greatest game seven of all time. Roberto Clemente hit a baltimore chop to cut the Yankee lead to 7-6. Hal Smith would follow that with a three-run home run off of Yankee pitcher Jim Choates to give the Pirates a 9-7 lead. The Yankees would tie the game with a series of clutch hits and very timely base running heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Bill Mazeroski would be the only batter Yankees reliever Ralph Terry would face. Mazeroski would take a 1-0 pitch and blast it over the left field wall for a historic walk-off home run and winning the 1960 World Series for the Pirates. The Yankees were stunned. They outplayed, out scored and out ran the Pirates but still came home defeated. Mickey Mantle was quoted stating that it was the most disappointing loss in his entire Hall of Fame career. For Bill Mazeroski, it was the shining moment of his career as he hit the biggest walk-off home run in Major League Baseball history.