Mazeroski. Gibson. Carter.
The mere mention of these players invokes a feeling of nostalgia, bringing fans back to the days gone by. Of course each is remembered not just for having been great baseball players, but for particular moments in time—moments that are now and will forever be etched in our minds.
Hitting a major league “homer” is every young fan’s dream. Some choose the superlative of hitting one in the World Series, propelling their team to victory. For Bill Mazeroski, Kirk Gibson, and Joe Carter, their dreams came true right before our eyes. As we look at each of the three objectively with some help from the Last Word On Sports Baseball Department, carefully consider which was most significant given the situation and the player’s career. Then take a moment to vote in our poll attached to the bottom of the article.
The Most Significant Home Run: Gibson, Mazeroski or Carter?
Kirk Gibson’s ’88 World Series Home Run
One of the most iconic images in postseason history is Kirk Gibson’s fist pump while rounding the bases in game one of the 1988 World Series.
Kirk Gibson entered game one as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning for reliever Alejandro Pena. He came to the batter’s box with a runner on first base and the Dodgers down one run with two outs. Facing Gibson was the Oakland A’s closer Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley led all of MLB with 45 saves in ’88 while finishing second in AL Cy Young voting. He logged four saves in the ’88 ALCS without allowing a run and had registered two quick outs before walking Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Dave Stewart.
Gibson, unable to start the game due to injuries in both legs, followed Stewart. Hobbling and finding it difficult to stand, he faced Eckersley. Battling back from an 0-2, he took Eckersley deep, the ball clearing the right field wall for a walk-off win. The home run would be Gibson’s lone plate appearance for the Series.
The Gibson home run changed the outlook of the ’88 World Series. After stripping a game one victory from the clutches of the A’s, the Dodgers took a resounding 2-0 series lead with a 6-0 win in game two at Dodgers Stadium. Kirk Gibson’s home run paved the way for a 4-1 World Series victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bill Mazeroski’s ’60 World Series Winner
Let’s take a step back in time, shall we? We find ourselves in old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s Game Seven of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees. The Yankees entered the series as heavy favorites to capture the title, and for good reason. They had appeared in nine of the previous eleven World Series, and won seven of them. The Pirates hadn’t been to the World Series in thirty-three years.
In the three games the Yankees won, Pittsburgh appeared thoroughly outmatched. In those three contests, New York outscored the Pirates 38-3. For the series, New York outscored, out hit, and out homered Pittsburgh. Yet the Buccos refused to go quietly. They managed to win three close, low-scoring games, forcing the series back to Pittsburgh for a final round.
That’s where we pick up the story. In the top of the ninth, the Yankees had stormed back to tie the game at nine. If Pittsburgh came away with nothing in the bottom of the inning, it would likely have lost the series. Into that setting stepped Bill Mazeroski, the Pirates great second baseman. While Maz’s glove would one day earn him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he never truly shined with the lumber. Well, except for one moment.
With the count at 1-0, Yankee pitcher Art Ditmar fired to home. Maz took one mighty swing and sent Ditmar’s pitch deep and over the left field fence of Forbes Field. The Pirates won the World Series on that swing, and Game Seven ended on a final score of 10-9.
Maz became the first player to ever win a World Series on a walk-off homer, and that home run remains the only walk-off home run hit in Game Seven of a World Series. The home run brought Pittsburgh its third World Title, and its first since 1925. It also essentially ended the career of the legendary Casey Stengel, whom the Yankees would send into retirement soon after.
Joe Carter’s ’93 World Series Walk-off Home Run
Tom Cheek, who called the game, had it right: “Touch ’em all Joe. You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.”
On the heels of wining the 1992 World Series—the first from a team not in the United States—the Toronto Blue Jays had the arduous task of proving naysayers wrong. The team posted record attendance throughout the season as Canadian fans were captivated coast to coast. The team won 95 games that year and were poised to make a strong run towards repeating. After disposing of the White Sox in six games in the ALCS, they had their chance.
In game six, with the team up three games two, they were trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Rickey Henderson walked, and Paul Molitor singled. The Phillies had the ball in the hands of their closer, Mitch Williams.
There were two balls, two strikes and one out in the ninth inning when Joe Carter stepped into the batter’s box. Everyone in Skydome was on their feet with mixed feelings of tension and excitement—not to mention the millions of fans from around Canada who were glued to their television sets. Williams delivered, and Joe Carter put a swing on and went deep to left field. Without a doubt, it remains the biggest home run in Blue Jays history and is arguably the biggest home run of all time. Only twice has a World Series been won with a walk-off homerun. Further, Joe Carter is the only person to hit a World Series winning home run with his team trailing in the ninth. On that day, Joe Carter lived the dream of every young player who has picked up a bat.