The World Series is the culmination of the journey in MLB. After the 162-game marathon in the regular season, the top-ten teams battle it out for a shot to hoist the trophy and celebrate as champions.
Sometimes the series fades into oblivion, lost on the pages of the history books. Other times, fans are treated to a spectacle of drama and suspense. The most memorable World Series are still discussed in baseball lore for generations to follow.
In order to be considered for this list, a series must have gone the full seven games, optimizing the excitement that fans love to see. There are some memorable six-game series such as 1978, 1992, and 1996, but without the lack of a seventh game leaves them just short, unlike these ten series.
1924: New York Giants-Washington Senators
Prior to the Washington Nationals winning the World Series last November, the city had not seen a championship team since the Washington Senators claimed the title in 1924. The series provided fans with a back and forth battle as both teams split the first six games. Every game came down to the wire as well.
Aside from the Giants 6-2 win in Game 5, every game was decided by three runs or less. Four of the games were decided by one run, and the first and seventh games went 12 innings.
To add to the drama of the series, Walter Johnson, 36 at the time, pitched out of the bullpen in Game 7 to pitch the last four innings, allowing the Senators to win 4-3. That victory on two days of rest was Johnson’s only of the series despite pitching 12 innings in Game 1 and eight in Game 5, allowing eight earned runs total in the 20 innings.
This series was the first and only championship for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was a slaying of past demons. The Yankees and the Dodgers have the most history of any two teams that have met in the World Series. These franchises have met in the Fall Classic 11 times. While the other ten saw big home runs, spectacular plays, and a perfect game, it was their meeting in 1955 that was the most memorable series.
By this point, the Yankees had beaten the Dodgers in every series that they had played in. As for this series, the home team won the first six games. The Dodgers dropped the first two games, 6-5 and 4-2. They responded by winning the next three straight games at home, to be within one win of the title.
After the Yankees won game 6 at Yankee Stadium, the Dodgers sent Johnny Podres, the Game 3 winner, to the mound for Game 7. Although Podres put ten men on base, he persevered and shutout the Yankees 2-0. He was named the series MVP, going 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings.
1960: Pittsburgh Pirates-New York Yankees
The Pittsburgh Pirates had not been in a World Series since 1927 when they lost to the Murderer’s Row Yankees. As the 1960 series pitted the two in a rematch, the Pirates were able to exact their revenge.
While the Yankees lost, second baseman Bobby Richardson won series MVP. In the Yankees three wins, they won 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. Despite these dominating wins, the Pirates managed to win games 6-4, 3-2, and 5-2. This set up a game that would be edged into baseball lore.
The Yankees fell behind 4-0, but they battled back to take leads of 5-4 and 7-4. In the bottom of the 8th, the Pirates went ahead 9-7, but Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra toed the game at nine in the top of the ninth inning. Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off home run, the only Game 7 walk-off home run.
The 1972 World Series often gets lost in the shuffle because both teams enjoyed prolonged stretches of success in the 1970s. As a result, the drama of this series is often overlooked. The A’s won their first of three-consecutive championships in this series. Additionally, the Reds won their second of four pennants in the decade, and they would later win back-to-back titles.
It is hard to find a series more tightly contested than this one. Five games were won by the visiting team. The games were low scoring and six out of the seven were determined by one run. While the Reds averaged 4.36 runs per game in 1972, the A’s pitching staff held them to 3.0 runs per game in the series despite an eight-run output in Game 6.
Future Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers did their part on the mound. Hunter went 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings. He also recorded eight outs out of the bullpen in Game 7 to earn the win. Despite taking a loss in Game 5, Fingers pitched in six of the games. He struck out more batters than he let on base and had a 1.74 ERA. Gene Tenace was named series MVP after he recorded eight hits, four of which were home runs. He hit .348 with a .913 slugging percentage for the series.
1975: Cincinnati Reds-Boston Red Sox
The 1975 World Series pitted the Big Red Machine Reds and the Red Sox against each other. One one side, the Reds were looking to win a championship after losing to the Orioles in 1970 and the A’s in 1972. Meanwhile, the Red Sox were looking for their first championship since 1918.
Games 2, 3, and 4 were all decided by one run. The drama began to build when Game 6 was rained out three days in a row. That allowed Luis Tiant, who threw a complete game shutout in Game 1 to start the game.
Game 6 is arguably the best World Series game ever played. It featured clutch hits, spectacular plays, and legendary moments. The historical backdrop of Fenway Park further enhanced the moment. The game ended on a walk-off home run by Carlton Fisk, who was caught waving the ball fair as it sailed down the line and struck the foul pole. Despite the momentum swinging in favor of the Red Sox after that victory, they failed to hold on to a 3-0 lead in Game 7 in a 4-3 loss.
1986: New York Mets-Boston Red Sox
Both the Mets and Red Sox endured epic league championship series in order to reach the World Series in 1986. By this point, the Red Sox had gone 68 years without winning a World Series and were looking to exorcise their demons. They won the first two games at Shea Stadium in differing ways. Game 1 saw Bruce Hurst shut the Mets down with eight scoreless innings as Boston won 1-0. Game 2 was more lopsided as Boston totaled 18 hits with seven batters having multi-hit games, and won 9-3.
The Mets rebounded to win Games 3 and 4 in Boston, but went back to New York down three games to two. Game 6 is forever edged in baseball lore. The Red Sox take a one-run lead in the seventh inning, but the Mets tie the game in the eighth inning.
The game went to extra innings where the Red Sox went ahead by two runs on a Dave Henderson home run. It appeared that the Mets were going to go quietly in the bottom of the tenth, and the Red Sox were going to reclaim glory. Instead, the Mets staged a miraculous comeback when down to their last strike. After three singles, a wild pitch, and the infamous Bill Buckner error, the Mets merged victorious. They would overcome a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 to win the series.
The main story line surrounding this series was that both teams involved had gone from last place in 1990 to the World Series in 1991. The home team won every game of this series and there was plenty of heroics throughout.
Five out of the seven games were decided by one run, and three of them required extra innings. The Twins trailed in Game 6, but Kirby Puckett made a leaping catch at the wall to keep the game close and then hit a won the game with a home run in the 11th inning.
Game 7 featured dominant pitching. Jack Morris started for the Twins against John Smoltz, who grew up idolizing Morris. Both pitchers traded scoreless innings throughout the game. Both teams had their opportunities, but no one could push a run across. Morris continued to shut out the Braves into the tenth inning, allowing for Gene Larkin to win the game and the series in the bottom of the tenth. After his ten-inning shutout, Morris was named MVP.
2001: Arizona Diamondbacks-New York Yankees
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, the Yankees and Diamondbacks gave baseball fans a moment to escape the fear-stricken reality of America at that time. The 2001 World Series contained drama, heroics, and hysteria.
The home team won every game, four games were decided by one run, and three games were won in the last at bat with two extra-inning games. President George Bush threw out the first pitch in Game 3 and inspired hope to the people of New York with a perfect strike from the mound.
The Yankees hit game-tying two-run home runs with two outs in the ninth inning in both Games 4 and 5. They won both of those games in extra innings with Derek Jeter hitting the home run that earned him the nickname, Mr. November. The series went down to the last inning of Game 7 when the Diamondbacks staged a comeback against Mariano Rivera, who had not blown a postseason save since 1997 at that point. The series ended with Luis Gonzalez singling up the middle to bring in the game winning run, and give the Diamondbacks a World Series championship four years after becoming a franchise.
One of the best World Series in recent memory, the 2011 series saw two vastly different franchises squaring off with each other. The Cardinals have the most championships of any NL team, but they needed a miraculous run in September to sneak into the postseason. As for the Rangers, they have never won a championship, but they won the AL West by ten games en route to their second consecutive AL pennant.
The series was a back and forth affair. Games 1 and 2 were both one-run games and split. In Game 3, Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as (at the time) the only players with a three-home-run game in the World Series. Despite the blowout loss, the Rangers recovered to win Games 4 and 5, only needing one win heading back to St. Louis.
Eventually, he Rangers found themselves one strike away from winning the World Series in Game 6 before David Freese’s triple tied the game. Josh Hamilton put the Rangers up by two runs in extra innings before Lance Berkman tied the score again with a two-RBI single. Finally, Freese, the eventual MVP, came up again, hitting a walk off home run. The Cardinals would win the World Series, erasing an early 2-0 deficit to win 6-2.
The 2016 World Series is the most historically significant series ever played. The Cubs had not won in 108 years while the Indians had gone 68.
Games 3, 5, and 7 were decided by one run. However, the other four games had an average margin of victory of 5.25 runs. What dominated this series was the story lines. In addition to the title droughts, the Cubs overcame a 3-1 deficit in the series. That was the first comeback of that kind since 1985.
The series concluded one of the most memorable Game 7s in history. The culmination of the historical significance produced a tense setting with pensive faces in the dugouts and the stands. Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run, and the Cubs built a 5-1 lead. The Indians inched back when the Cubs let up a two-run wild pitch. They extended their lead to 6-3.
The Indians scored three in the eighth inning, including a dramatic game-tying home run by Rajai Davis. After the game went to extra innings, a rain delay occurred. Once the weather cleared up, the Cubs scored two runs to take a 8-6 lead. The Indians rallied in the bottom of the tenth, cutting the score to 8-7, but the Cubs prevailed.
The World Series has produced a great share of exciting moments going back to its inception in 1903. Every series is the culmination of a journey for the two teams participating. As they fight to get past each other for the coveted title, legendary moments emerge.
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