Ten Best World Series Of All-Time
Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic isn’t always a classic. Sometimes it’s four games to zero laugher that has sports fans searching the dial for football highlights.
But there has also been some pretty great World Series in the 100 plus year history of baseball’s postseason showdown. We rank the ten best Word Series of all-time below.
Number 10: 1993 Toronto Blue Jays over Philadelphia Phillies
In the 1993 World Series the Toronto Blue Jays attempted to become the first team to repeat as champions since the 1977/1978 Yankees. Toronto had a stacked lineup, featuring future Hall of Famers Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar and Ricky Henderson. The opposing Philadelphia Phillies’ were no slouches in the offense department either, with “Macho Row” sluggers Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Pete Incaviglia, Dave Hollins and Lenny Dykstra all coming off career years.
The series started off as high scoring as everyone predicted, with Toronto taking a 3-to-1 series lead after a thrilling seesaw 15-14 victory in game four. Game five saw Curt Schilling, in what was one of the first of his many big time post season performances, shutting out the Jays 2-0 and sending the series back to SkyDome.
That set the stage for one for most dramatic moments in baseball history. With his team trailing 6 to 5 in the bottom of the ninth Blue Jay outfielder Joe Carter came to the plate with two runners on against Phillies closer Mitch Williams, who had already blown three saves during the postseason. Carter blasted a Williams fastball over the left field wall, joining Bill Mazeroski as the only player to hit a walk off World Series winning home run.
1993 World Series MVP: Paul Molitor
Number 9: 1912 Boston Red Sox over New York Giants
How close was the 1912 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants? So close that they needed an eighth game to decide it.
In 1912, MLB was still decades away from ballparks with lights and night baseball. So when game two of the 1912 series went to extra innings the dwindling daylight put its completion in jeopardy. The Giants almost beat the creeping dark by jumping to a 6-5 lead in the top of the 10th. But the Red Sox’s were able to strike back with one in the bottom of the inning and in the 11th the game was stopped.
But instead of the continuing game two the next day, MLB made the controversial decision to count it as an officially played tie and move on to a new game three.
Beyond this historical oddity the ‘12 World Series was a hard fought one, with four of its games decided by one run. In the decisive eighth game the Giants, behind Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson, again took a one run game into the bottom of the tenth.
Leading off the inning, Red Sox pinch hitter Clyde Engle’s routine fly ball was dropped by Giant center fielder Fred Snodgrass. Later in the inning Mathewson, catcher Chief Meyers and first baseman Fred Merkel allowed an easy foul pop up to drop between them because they all thought the other had it. These blunders proved too much, and the Red Sox prevailed with a 3 to 2 victory. Snodgrass’s error became known as the “$30,000 muff,” because that was the difference between that year’s winners and losers World Series share.
Number 8: 1956 New York Yankees over Brooklyn Dodgers
The 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers was a rematch of of the Dodgers’ victory in the 1955 World Series, also considered a classic.
In fact going into the ‘56 season the New York City rivals had met in five of the past eight World Series, with the Yankees winning four. The Bronx Bombers would do it again in 1956, but not before some pretty historic dramatics.
The ‘56 World Series was one of the more star-filled October matchups there’s ever been with a Yankee roster peppered with legends like Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford and a Dodger team lead by Hall of Famers Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale and Pee-Wee Reese.
But it was a lesser star who stole the show. In game five, with the series tied up at two games apiece, Yankee hurler Don Larsen threw the first and only perfect game in World Series history. The pitching was almost as good in Game 6, in which the Dodgers knotted things up again with a 1-0 victory in ten.
Game seven was actually a bit of a laugher, as the Yankees chased incumbent National League MVP and Cy Young winner Don Newcombe early on their way to a 9 to 0 victory. But thanks to Larson, the ‘56 Series was still one for the ages.
With the Dodgers and New York Giants soon headed to the West Coast, the 1956 World Series also marked the last time teams for the same city would meet in the Fall Classic until the Mets and Yankees played in 2000.
1956 World Series MVP: Don Larson
Number 7: 1972 Oakland A’s Over Cincinnati Reds
The 1972 World Series matched up the two dominant teams of the 70s, the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland A’s.
The A’s, who were lead by Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter, had finally made the Fall Classic after coming short the previous few years despite good regular seasons. Cincinnati, who featured Big Red Machine mainstays Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan had been reached the World Series and lost to the Orioles in 1970. Both teams were young and hungry and the series was as close as can be, with six of the seven games decided by one run.
Oakland took the first two games at Cincinnati’s Riverfront stadium. But the Reds fought back in Oakland, winning two out of three and starving off Game 5 elimination 5-4 by beating Fingers with a run in the eighth and a one in the ninth.
After a Cincinnati blowout in game six, Oakland prevailed 3 to 2 in game seven. The series was notable for the play of A’s backup catcher and first baseman Gene Tenace, who slugged four home runs in the first five games of the 1972 World Series after only hitting five the entire regular season. It was also the first of three straight Fall Classic victories for the A’s. The Reds would get their turn a little later, winning back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.
1975 World Series MVP: Gene Tenace
Number 6: 1986 New York Mets Over Boston Red Sox
The stars aligned for Major League Baseball in 1986 when the big market star-studded New York Mets faced off against the big market star-studded Boston Red Sox in a World Series that would produce one notorious plays in baseball history.
Led by Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter and Ron Darling, the Mets had won a whopping 108 regular season games. The Sox had some serious talent too, including Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and Dwight Evans. But it was still a big surprise when Boston won the first two games of the series on the road.
The Mets came storming back in games 3 and 4, thanks to timely home runs from Lenny Dykstra and Carter. Then Bruce Hurst bested Mets ace Gooden in game five, putting the Red Sox back in the lead and setting up one of the most famous baseball games ever played.
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth inning of game six the Mets were able to scrape together two runs despite twice being one strike away from World Series defeat. With the game now tied and a runner on second base, Mets center fielder Mookie Wilson worked a full count before grounding a slow roller that managed to go right between Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. The error that will forever live in infamy allowed the winning run to score.
The Red Sox did have a chance to redeem themselves and restore the legacy of Buckner, a near Hall of Fame player, in game 7. But it wasn’t to be. New York prevailed in the deciding game 8 to 5 with all the Mets runs coming in the last three innings.
1986 World Series MVP: Ray Knight
Number 5: 1946 St. Louis Cardinals over Boston Red Sox
Baserunning has long been an underrated part of baseball. Sure, players are celebrated for steals, but there’s no stat that really quantifies the equally essential ability for a base runner to take an extra base on a batted ball. In the 1946 World Series that skill made all the difference.
With World War 2 finally over, the ‘46 Fall Classic between the St Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox featured inner-ring Hall of Fame sluggers Stan Musial and Ted Williams, both of whom had been out of action while serving in the military the year before.
But save St. Louis’s 12 run explosion in Game 4 the series was a low scoring affair that had left the teams deadlocked after six games.
The score was tied at three in the bottom of the eighth inning of game seven when Cardinal outfielder Enos Slaughter led off with a single. Two outs later he was still on first base. With the count 2-1 to outfielder Harry Walker, Slaughter took off on a hit and run and Walker hit what would typically be a single to left center. Slaughter, with his head start, was almost at third base when the relay throw came into Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky in short left field. Everybody, including Pesky, figured Slaughter would hold up at third. But he didn’t, instead ignoring the stop sign from his third base coach and turning for home. Pesky was so surprised by Slaughter’s aggressiveness that he paused for a moment. That was enough for Slaughter to beat Pesky’s offline throw to the plate. Slaughter’s “mad dash” ended up being the series winning run.
Number 4: 2011 St. Louis Cardinals over Texas Rangers
Thanks to an improbable late season run, the St. Louis Cardinals grabbed the last playoff spot on the last regular season day of 2011, despite a rather pedestrian 86-76 record.
Led by Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals continued their hot play in the NLDS and NLCS and reached the World Series against the Texas Rangers, who had been runner ups in the 2010 Fall Classic.
After the teams split the first two games in one-run pitchers’ duels, Pujols seemingly busted the series open with a three home run performance in the Cardinals’ 16-7 game three victory. But the Rangers fought back with 2 straight wins, pushing the Cardinals to a the brink of game six elimination.
And what a game it was. The team’s see-sawed one run leads until the top of the seventh inning when the Rangers scored three runs and grabbed a 7-4 lead.
The Cardinals plated one run in the eighth, and then scored two runs with two out in the ninth, thanks to a David Freese triple. A Josh Hamilton two run bomb put Texas back up by two in the top of the tenth, but the Cardinals tied it up again with a two spot, going down to their last strike for the second straight inning. An walk off solo shot by Freese, who went on to a record 21 RBIs in the postseason, won the game for the Redbirds in the bottom of the 11th.
Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen kept the game seven drama to a minimum with a strong performances, and the Cardinals’ 6-2 victory clinched their National League record 11th World series title.
2011 World Series MVP: David Freese
Number 3: 1975 Cincinnati Reds Over Boston Red Sox
Cincinnati looked unstoppable coming into the 1975 World Series. Led by Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, the “Big Red Machine” had blasted through the National League, winning 108 games and sweeping the Pirates in the NLCS.
If they could beat the Red Sox they would surely go down as one of the greatest teams in National League history. Yes, the same Red Sox who hadn’t won a World Series since 1918, the year before they notoriously sold star Babe Ruth to their rival New York Yankees.
After five hard fought games, the Reds had grabbed a 3 to 2 lead. Then came three days of rain, which not only killed the Reds’ momentum but allowed the Red Sox to reset their pitching staff so that their best two pitchers, Luis Tiant and Bill Lee, would pitch the final two games.
Game six lasted 11 innings and is considered by many to be the greatest game in baseball history. The contest ended with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk’s walk off solo homer over the Green Monster, which the Hall of Famer famously “waved fair” as he leapt his way toward first base.
While Game Seven lacked that type of signature moment, it was another barn-burner, with a bloop single by Joe Morgan in the top of the ninth being the difference in a 4 to 3 Reds’ road win.
It would be the first of back-to-back World Series wins for the Reds, and Red Sox fans were left wondering if they really were cursed by the ghost of the Bambino.
1975 World Series MVP: Pete Rose
Number 2: 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks over New York Yankees
The 2001 World Series pitted the New Yankees, who were going for a record 27th World Series title, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were making their first appearance in the Fall Classic.
But while the Diamondbacks were no match for the Yankees when it came to pedigree, they had an ace in hole. Or rather two aces in the form of hurlers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Behind the fireballing twosome, the Diamondbacks won the first two games of the series with the Yankees only managing to muster a total of one run .
But a team that had won four of the five previous World Series and three in a row wasn’t going to give up so easily. October mainstays Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Scott Brosius had key hits as the Yankees prevailed in three straight one run games to grab the series lead. But the Yankees had to contend with Schilling and Johnson again in games six and seven. Johnson did his part his part first, shutting out the Bronx Bombers in a 15 to 0 blowout.
Game seven saw Schilling, pitching on three days rest, go up against Roger Clemens, who at 39 was the oldest ever World Series starter. The game was the pitching duel everyone anticipated and the Yankees had a 2 to 1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Yankee closer Mariano Rivera was on the mound, having already struck out the side in the eighth to lower his legendary postseason ERA to 0.70.
But the greatest big game relief pitcher of all-time faltered that night and Luis Gonzalez’s humpback line drive of a single past a drawn in infield gave the D-Backs a 3-to-2 walkoff World Series win. Amazingly Johnson had pitched the top of the ninth inning after starting the night before. So he got the win and finished the 2001 World Series with a 3-0 record.
2001 World Series MVP: Randy Johnson.
Number 1: 1991 Minnesota Twins Over Atlanta Braves
The 1991 World Series started out as a matchup of two teams who had won their pennants despite having finished last in their division the year before and ended as one of the greatest World Series ever played.
Lead by Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and league MVP Terry Pendleton, the Braves had just begun their amazing run of 14 straight division titles. The Twins were more of a flash-in-the-pan, but with red light players such as Jack Morris, Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek they were certainly up to the October challenge.
The seven-game series featured five-one run and three extra inning games. The home team won every time, no big surprise with the Twins playing in the notorious Metrodome, which got so loud during postseason play that it became known as the “Thunderdome.”
With the Twins trailing three games to two, game six of the World Series belonged to Puckett, who won it with a walk off homer in the bottom of the 11th and had had an RBI hit and an incredible leaping catch against the wall earlier in the game. Then game seven was Jack Morris time, as the veteran pitched all ten innings of the Twins 1-0 victory, which ended with Gene Larkin’s bases loaded single over a drawn-in outfield.
The tough loss was a harbinger for things to come for the Braves; during their 14 years of regular season dominance Atlanta emerged with only one World Series title.
1991 World Series MVP: Jack Morris