I would like to start out this morning’s article by congratulating the Houston Astros for winning one of the most memorable World Series’ in recent history. The Astros and Dodgers took baseball fans, both devoted and casual, through a ride for the ages! To those of you in Houston, and Southeast Texas for that matter, to quote the late Jack Buck “Go crazy folks, go crazy!” You’ve been through so much this year, I am so glad you have something to celebrate.
Now that the World Series has concluded, I will conclude my series of Fall Classic memories. Today I focus on individual feats.
The year was 1968, the final season where there was no League Championship Series. The Detroit Tigers finished atop the American League standings, while the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals topped the National League standings. This set up an epic seven game series in which Mickey Lolich was the winning pitcher in games 2 , 5 and on three days rest Game 7. While Lolich’s performance over the course of the series was memorable, it was Cardinals ace Bob Gibson’s performance in Game 1 that stands out.
Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals strikes out seventeen Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series.
In Game 1 Gibson pitched a complete game. He scattered five hits, allowed one walk, and struck out a World Series record seventeen batters. His record not only stands to this day but with today’s pitching relay race mentality it may never be broken.
Lets fast forward to Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. In a prior article in this series I chronicled the events of the previous evening when Kirby Puckett’s walk off home run kept the Minnesota Twins alive. It didn’t take long for history to occur again.
Minnesota Twins’ Jack Morris shuts out the Atlanta Braves for 10 innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was a pitcher’s duel between Atlanta’s John Smoltz and Minnesota’s Jack Morris. They went toe to toe for 7 1/3 innings without either pitcher allowing a run. Smoltz would exit in the seventh and Mike Stanton would finish the inning without a run being scored. Alejandro Pena would finish the game for the Braves. The game remained scoreless after nine innings, but Twins manager Tom Kelly stayed with his ace. Morris would not disappoint. Gene Larkin’s walk off single that scored Dan Gladden in the bottom of the tenth was the game’s only run earning the Twins the World Championship.
Morris would shut out the Braves for ten innings, allow seven hits, walked two, and strike out eight. This rates as one of the greatest shutouts in the history of the Fall Classic.
Next up, Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers got to the Series that year by defeating the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. The Mets had beaten the Dodgers 11 out of 12 times during the regular season. Los Angeles would face the American League Champion Oakland Athletics, the A’s had the best record in the Majors during the regular season at 104-58.
Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson rounds the bases following a pinch hit walk off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
One of the main cogs in the 1988 Dodgers lineup was Kirk Gibson. Gibson was scratched from the lineup in Game 1 due to injuries in both legs. It was a longshot for him to play at all in the World Series.
Oakland lead Game 1 by the score of 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Future Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley took the mound to pitch the ninth for the Athletics. With two out in the inning and the pitcher due up, Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda called on his injured star. What happened next is etched in World Series lore forever. Gibson would hit a two run walk off home run that had him hobbling around the Dodger Stadium basepaths! To this day the calls on both CBS (by Jack Buck) and the Dodgers Radio Network (by Vin Scully) are legendary.
Buck’s call “I don’t believe what I just saw! I don’t believe what I just saw!
Scully simply proclaimed “Its a fly ball…She is…Gone!”
Finally, this last individual achievement happened before I was born, but I would be remiss not to include it.
Yankees catcher Yogi Berra leaps into the arms of pitcher Don Larsen after he completes the only perfect game, or no hitter for that matter, in World Series history.
It was Game 5 of the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Yankees pitcher Don Larsen authored a performance not seen in the Fall Classic to date. Larsen would set down all 27 Dodgers that he faced, including 7 strike outs. The Yankees won the game by the score of 2-0. It is, to date, the only no hitter, or perfect game ever pitched in World Series history
I thoroughly enjoyed the past two weeks, and all the memories that I discussed. I know there are so many that I didn’t mention. Next year I’m sure I’ll find room for this year’s epic!
I would like to add a postscript to this article. There are 2 other memorable achievements that weren’t mentioned because they were discussed at length earlier in this series. They are Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs on three consecutive piches in 1977, and Carlton Fisk’S 12th inning walk off home run in 1975.