The greatest moments in World Series history

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

October 19th, 2020

As we wait for the 2020 World Series to begin, it’s a good time to look back at the most memorable moments in the history of the Fall Classic. Here are the top five single-game performances by position players.

5. Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run (Game 1, 1988)

Kirk Gibson recorded just one at-bat in the 1988 World Series due to injury, but it was anything but forgettable.

Gibson was summoned to pinch hit in Game 1 as his Dodgers were down 4-3 to the A’s with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. He worked the count to 3-2 against future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley before parking a hanging slider out in the right field bleachers and inspiring one of the game’s all-time great calls.

L.A. would go on to beat Oakland in five games to capture their most recent World Series title to date.

4. Willie Mays’ over-the-shoulder catch (Game 1, 1954) 

Simply known as "The Catch," Willie Mays’ famous outfield grab remains one of the World Series’ all-time greatest moments.

The opening game of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians was tied 2-2 in the eighth inning when Tribe slugger Vic Wertz came to bat with two men on. He got a hold of a pitch from Don Liddle and drove it to the deepest part of the Polo Grounds, which measured 483 feet from home plate.

Fortunately for the Giants, Mays reacted quickly and chased after the deep fly ball, eventually snaring it on a dead run just before the warning track. New York would go on to win Game 1 en route to a series sweep.

3. Joe Carter’s walk-off homer (Game 6, 1993)

The champagne was on ice when the Blue Jays, up three games to two in the 1993 World Series against the Phillies, held a four-run lead late in Game 6. But Toronto coughed up the advantage and found themselves down 6-5 in the last of the ninth with Philadelphia closer Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams on for the save.

However, the Blue Jays were not done yet. Outfielder Joe Carter would step to the plate with two men on and a chance to be a hero, and he delivered in dramatic fashion.

2. Luis Gonzalez’s game-winning single (Game 7, 2001)

Yankee fans had to feel confident with a 2-1 lead in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and incomparable closer Mariano Rivera in to tally the final six outs. The Diamondbacks went quietly in the eighth and were still down by a run going into the final frame.

But Rivera would surrender a single and commit an uncharacteristic throwing error to put two runners on in the ninth. One out later, Rivera allowed Tony Womack to plate a game-tying double, then hit Craig Counsell with a pitch to load the bases.

That set the stage for Luis Gonzalez, who delivered the game-winning single with a bloop hit over Derek Jeter to give the Diamondbacks their only World Series title to date.

1. Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run (Game 7, 1960)

Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski was never considered a power hitter (138 homers over 17 seasons), but he delivered perhaps the most clutch home run in the history of baseball in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

Pittsburgh nearly had the Fall Classic won, but the Yankees plated two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the deciding game at nine runs apiece. Mazeroski, who hit the go-ahead home run in Game 4 of the 1960 World Series, led off the bottom of the ninth and promptly homered off Ralph Terry to give Pittsburgh a series-clinching walk-off victory.