A World Series history lesson

So, now that you've caught Rays fever, a quick question: Is this your first World Series? Don't worry, we have you covered with a quick primer on the history of the Fall Classic. Now you can sound smart when you're watching the game with friends by saying something like, "We need someone to go Reggie, Reggie, Reggie on these guys!'' Or, "Someone needs to step up like Jack Morris.'' Or, "This World Series is better than '75!'' So brush up, and for the rest of you, here's a fun trip down memory lane of the World Series.

Five greatest homers

Bill Mazeroski

The Pirates second baseman broke a 9-9 tie in the bottom of the ninth in 1960 to beat the Yankees in what remains the only Game 7 walkoff homer in Series history.

Kirk Gibson

The Dodgers outfielder wasn't even supposed to play because of a bad knee. After hearing announcers say he wasn't available, an angry Gibson hobbled to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and cracked a two-run, winning homer in his only at-bat of the 1988 World Series. That propelled the Dodgers to a five-game victory over the heavily favored A's.

Carlton Fisk

The Red Sox catcher ended, perhaps, the greatest World Series game ever when he homered in the bottom of the 12th off the foul pole next to the Green Monster at Fenway Park in 1975. The Red Sox would lose to the Reds in Game 7, but many believe Fisk's homer and this World Series sparked a renewed interest in baseball.

Joe Carter

The Blue Jays slugger hit a walkoff three-run homer in Game 6 to give Toronto the 1993 Series victory over the Phillies. Along with Maz's homer in 1960, it was the only walkoff World Series winner in history.

Babe Ruth

Legend has it that the mighty Babe pointed to centerfield in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field and "called his shot.'' On the next pitch, Ruth blasted a mammoth shot to dead center that some estimate traveled 490 feet. Whether or not he called it will never be known for sure, but it was Ruth's final World Series hit.

Our five most memorable World Series moments

Reggie Jackson

The controversial Jackson hit three homers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series to give the Yankees the Series victory over the Dodgers.

Bill Buckner

The poor Red Sox first baseman was blamed when the winning run scored on a two-out grounder in the bottom of the 10th of Game 6 in 1986. The Sox went on to lose Game 7 to the Mets, as well.

Kirk Gibson

Can't you still just hear Jack Buck saying, "I don't believe what I just saw'' after Gibson's Game 1 homer in 1988?

Carlton Fisk

Can't you still just see Fisk waving and pleading the ball to stay fair in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series?

Luis Gonzalez

A local shoutout. The Tampa native won the 2001 World Series with a bloop single off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Five greatest World Series

Twins vs. Braves, 1991

Four of these games were won in the winner's final at-bat. Five games were decided by one run. Three went to extra innings, including Minnesota's victories in Game 6 (Kirby Puckett's 11th-inning homer) and Game 7 (a 1-0 classic). Diamondbacks vs. Yankees, 2001

Just six weeks after the 9/11 attacks, New York used its Yankees for a few moments of relief from the pain and sorrow. The Yankees won two games in extra innings after tying in the ninth with two-run homers. The D'backs went on to win Game 7 by scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth against the practically unhittable Mariano Rivera.

Red Sox vs. Reds, 1975

The series that featured Fisk's memorable homer in an incredible back-and-forth Game 6. In Game 7, the Reds overcame a 3-0 deficit and won the first of two straight world titles.

Mets vs. Red Sox, 1986

One out from elimination, the Mets rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 10th of Game 6 (thanks, in part, to Bill Buckner's infamous error) then overcame a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 to extend Boston's curse and win the World Series. Senators vs. Giants, 1924

Four games were decided by a mere run, including extra-inning games in 6 and 7. The Senators won both Games 6 (2-1) and 7 (4-3 in 12 innings).

Five greatest catches

Willie Mays

In Game 1 of the '54 Series, Cleveland's Vic Wertz hit a wicked liner to dead center with two on and one out of a tie game in the eighth inning. Mays sprinted back and made an unbelievable over-the-shoulder catch to save two runs and the game, which the Giants went on to win, as well as the Series.

Al Gionfriddo

In Game 6 of the 1947 Series, the Yankees trailed 8-5 in the sixth and had two on and two out when the legendary Joe DiMaggio blasted a shot to the 415-foot marker, where the Brooklyn Dodgers' Gionfriddo reached over the fence for the catch. In one of baseball's classic snapshots, the normally reserved DiMaggio kicked the dirt in his frustration.

Sandy Amoros

In the sixth inning of Game 7 in 1955, the Dodgers clung to a 2-0 lead when Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, with two on and no outs, lifted a fly toward the leftfield corner. Amoros sprinted and made a stabbing catch before avoiding crashing into the wall. The catch enabled the Dodgers to double off Gil McDougald at first, and the Dodgers held on for their first and only championship in Brooklyn.

Billy Martin

Not all catches are leaps against the wall or dives in the outfield. Take Game 7 of the 1952 World Series when the Yankees held a 4-2 lead over the Dodgers in the seventh. Brooklyn loaded the bases with two outs when Jackie Robinson lifted a popup in the infield. The wind turned the ball into a butterfly and Yankees infielders froze until Martin came in from second base and made a shoestring catch to save three runs, the game and the Series.

Ron Swoboda

With the Mets up a run in the ninth inning of Game 4, the Orioles had runners on first and third when Brooks Robinson hit a sinking liner to right. Swoboda, never known for his defense, made an incredible diving catch. The Orioles tied the score on the play, but that's the only run they got and the Mets won in the 10th inning. They took Game 5 to win the Series.

Five greatest pitching performances

Don Larsen

You can't get better than what the Yankees pitcher did in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. He faced 27 Dodgers and retired all 27 for the only the perfect game in World Series history.

Jack Morris

Talk about clutch. The Twins righty pitched 10 scoreless innings in the seventh game of the 1991 World Series and they took the game and the Series with a 1-0 victory at Minnesota's Metrodome.

Christy Mathewson

You have to go back to 1905, but the New York Giants pitcher had what must be considered the greatest pitching World Series ever. He started three games in six days and never allowed a runner to reach third base as he recorded three shutouts in the Giants' five-game victory against the Philadelphia A's.

Josh Beckett

In 2003, the Marlins upset the Yankees on Beckett's amazing performance in Game 6. He scattered five hits and stuck out nine and, most impressive of all, went the distance in a 2-0 shutout at hostile Yankee Stadium.

Randy Johnson

Facing elimination in 2001, the Diamondbacks' big lefty struck out seven and allowed two runs over six innings as the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees. He wasn't done. Coming back the next day after throwing 104 pitches, Johnson retired all four batters he faced in relief in Game 7 and earned the win — his third of the series — in Arizona's thrilling victory.

Five best World Series teams

1927 New York Yankees

Widely considered the greatest team with the greatest lineup ever assembled. The Murderer's Row featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, as well as Hall of Famers Earle Combs and Tony Lazzeri. In a four-game sweep of the Pirates, the Yankees trailed after only two innings.

1976 Cincinnati Reds

They didn't lose a postseason game (outscoring the Yankees 22-8 in the World Series) and featured Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, plus another who could easily be in the Hall of Fame — Pete Rose.

2004 Red Sox

Boston scored at least one run in the first inning of all four games and never trailed in the Series. In fact, of the 28 innings played against the Cardinals, the Red Sox had the lead after 27 of them.

1989 Oakland A's

The mighty A's, led by sluggers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, outscored the Giants 32-14 in the Series and never trailed at any point in the four-game sweep. This Series is best remembered for the earthquake that delayed it for 10 days.

1963 Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitching is what gets the Dodgers on this list. Behind Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres, the Dodgers allowed the Yankees a total of four runs in the Series. Four! Needless to say, it was a Dodgers sweep.

A World Series history lesson 10/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 2:43pm]

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