Five unlikely World Series stars
Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez is one of those players that you really don't know much about unless you follow baseball closely. By the way, interesting fact: Sanchez was born with a severely pigeon-toed left foot and a club right foot, and doctors feared he might never walk. After surgery at 13 months and years of physical therapy, Sanchez eventually made his way to the majors and won the 2006 National League batting title with the Pirates. However, he is now famous for setting a pretty cool World Series record. He became the first player to double in each of his first three World Series at-bats. Here's a look back at a few regular players who became famous for their World Series performances.
Tenace turned out to have a decent 15-year career as a big-league catcher, but his moment in the spotlight came in 1972 when he took over for Dave Duncan in the playoffs as the A's starting catcher and became the first player to homer in his first two World Series at-bats. He drove in all three runs in Oakland's 3-2 victory in Game 1 and was named World Series MVP as the A's beat the Reds in seven games.
The second baseman had only 64 plate appearances in the majors when he was inserted in the starting lineup of the 1978 World Series for the Yankees after an injury to Willie Randolph. The Yankees won the series in six games as Doyle batted .438 with a double, four runs scored and two RBIs. The only reason Doyle didn't win the MVP is because another unlikely player on that star-loaded Yankees team, Bucky Dent, was named after he batted .417 with seven RBIs. Doyle would appear in only 71 more regular-season games over the next three seasons and left the game with a .161 career average.
Borders was raised in nearby Lake Wales, and the catcher was truly a major-league journeyman: He played for nine teams (including two teams twice) over 17 seasons, with a career average of .253 to go along with his 69 homers and 346 RBIs. But, over a glorious eight-day stretch in 1992, he was the best in baseball. Borders was the World Series MVP after batting .450 with a homer and three RBIs to lead the Blue Jays to the title over the Braves.
Probably the ultimate mediocre-player-turned-World-Series star. Yes, I know, Maz was a tremendous defensive player and was ultimately voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But let's face it, Mazersoki, a lifetime .260 hitter with 138 career homers, doesn't make the Hall if it had not been for hitting, arguably, the most famous home run in baseball history. His bottom-of-the-ninth homer in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series led the underdog Pirates over the mighty Yankees and made Mazeroski one of the legendary names in World Series history. And, in case you hadn't noticed, Oct. 13 was the 50th anniversary of his famous homer.
One of the most unlikely World Series winners of all time had one of the most unlikely World Series MVPs of all time. The 1969 Miracle Mets had a right-handed first baseman named Donn Clendenon, who batted only .248 for the regular season and platooned with lefty Ed Kranepool. But Clendenon ended up playing in four of the five series games in 1969 and hit solo homers in Games 2 and 4 -- both 2-1 Mets victories over the Orioles. Then he hit a two-run homer in the 5-3 Game 5 clincher. Clendenon batted .357 in the World Series with three homers, four RBIs and four runs scored.