The World Series heads into November for the second year in a row. You surely remember last year’s, I’d think.
Having back-to-back seven-game World Series hasn’t happened too often in the 114-year history of the Fall Classic. (That’s 1903-2017, and that covers 113 World Series because there weren’t any in 1904 and 1994.)
Before this year, it had been 15 years since back-to-back Game 7’s in a World Series, the ninth-inning comeback in Game 7 in 2001 by the Diamondbacks followed by Dusty Baker’s Giants blowing an eighth-inning lead in Game 6 in 2002, forcing a Game 7 where the winning pitcher was John Lackey, then an Angels rookie.
Here are all the occasions where the World Series went to the limit at least two years in a row. (This, of course, doesn’t count the three World Series, 1919-21, that were best-of-nine; all three went to Game 7, but none of those “Game 7” games were decisive.)
1924: Washington Senators 4, New York Giants 3
1925: Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Washington Senators 3
1926: St. Louis Cardinals 4, New York Yankees 3
These include some of the most memorable games in World Series history. In Game 7 in 1924, the Senators scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game. Walter Johnson, the future Hall of Famer, threw four scoreless innings in relief two days after his Game 5 start. In the 12th, Giants catcher Hank Gowdy tripped over his mask and dropped a foul popup. The hitter, Muddy Ruel, doubled and scored the winning run when a ball took a bad hop over the head of Giants third baseman Freddie Lindstrom.
There is actually some film of that game, including the winning run scoring (at about 3:00 in):
In 1925, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth off Johnson to win Game 7. They became the first team to come back from a three games to one deficit.
The end of the 1926 World Series was weird. With the Yankees trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Babe Ruth walked with two out. Inexplicably, Ruth tried to steal second and was thrown out by Bob O’Farrell, ending the game and the Series.
1945: Detroit Tigers 4, Chicago Cubs 3
1946: St. Louis Cardinals 4, Boston Red Sox 3
1947: New York Yankees 4, Brooklyn Dodgers 3
About 1945, you probably don’t want or need to hear more. In Game 7 in 1946, Enos Slaughter led off the bottom of the eighth in a 3-3 tie with a single. Two outs later, Harry Walker hit a ball to right field, and yes, again there’s video:
That’s the famous “Pesky held the ball!” play, and you can clearly see Johnny Pesky, the relay man, hesitate before he throws home and Slaughter is safe. That was the game-winning, and Series-winning, run.
1955: Brooklyn Dodgers 4, New York Yankees 3
1956: New York Yankees 4, Brooklyn Dodgers 3
1957: Milwaukee Braves 4, New York Yankees 3
1958: New York Yankees 4, Milwaukee Braves 3
First the Yankees and Dodgers, then the Yankees and Braves, swapped 4-3 World Series wins. The 1956 Series included Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5.
In 1958, it looked like the Braves were going to win back-to-back Series, but the Yankees became the second team to come back from a three games to one deficit.
1964: St. Louis Cardinals 4, New York Yankees 3
1965: Los Angeles Dodgers 4, Minnesota Twins 3
The Dodgers hope to replicate the success of their 1965 counterparts, who got three shutout wins in that Series, two thrown by Sandy Koufax. Koufax threw a three-hit shutout in Game 7, which you can watch here (the call is by Vin Scully for NBC):
1967: St. Louis Cardinals 4, Boston Red Sox 3
1968: Detroit Tigers 4, St. Louis Cardinals 3
The Tigers came back from a three games to one deficit, with lefthander Mickey Lolich throwing three complete-game wins. 27 innings, five earned runs allowed, 21 strikeouts. Imagine that happening today.
Here’s the full ninth inning of 1968 Game 7, called in part by Harry Caray. MLB should do this now, bring in local announcers to help call World Series games.
1971: Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Baltimore Orioles 3
1972: Oakland Athletics 4, Cincinnati Reds 3
1973: Oakland Athletics 4, New York Mets 3
The Pirates won their first World Series since 1960 when Steve Blass, who would leave baseball three years later because he could no longer throw strikes, threw a four-hit masterpiece in Game 7.
The A’s came back from a 3-2 deficit to the Mets in 1973 to win the World Series. Like this year’s Dodgers, the A’s had both Game 6 and Game 7 at home.
1985: Kansas City Royals 4, St. Louis Cardinals 3
1986: New York Mets 4, Boston Red Sox 3
1987: Minnesota Twins 4, St. Louis Cardinals 3
In both 1985 and 1986, the most memorable game was Game 6. The famous Don Denkinger wrong call at first base got a Royals rally going in the ninth inning for a game-winner, then K.C. won Game 7 11-0. Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is, of course, one of the most famous games in baseball history. The Red Sox had a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth in Game 7, then gave up eight runs to the Mets. In 1987, the home team won all seven games.
2001: Arizona Diamondbacks 4, New York Yankees 3
2002: Anaheim Angels 4, San Francisco Giants 3
Here’s the full Game 7 from 2001, where Mariano Rivera blew a save. At the time he had converted 25 consecutive postseason save opportunities without blowing one.
Many of the previous Game 7’s have been games for the ages, including last year’s Cubs/Indians finale. We’ve already had some incredible games in this year’s World Series. What excitement will the Dodgers and Astros have for us tonight?
Whatever happens, it will break a tie. All time, home teams are dead even in MLB winner-take-all games, 54-54. In a World Series, though, that’s a bit different: road teams have won 52.4 percent of Game 7s. Including last year, of course. Here’s a bit more on that:
This is the 38th winner-take-all World Series Game 7, and here's how unpredictable these things are. In the previous 37 contests, visiting teams hold a 19-18 advantage. Home teams won nine straight World Series Game 7s from 1982-2011 before the 2014 Royals lost to the Giants in Kansas City, and last year's Indians lost to the Cubs in Cleveland.
Enjoy tonight’s game. It very well could be a classic.