This article is another cheat, I know it, and I apologize in advance.
The Chicago Cubs hit three home runs in World Series Game 7 in 2016. And I sat and I thought and Mike Bojanowski and I discussed this and at the end, I simply couldn’t decide between the three of them.
All three were important in their own way. Could I have put all three of them separately on this list? Sure, but that would have put two other worthy long balls off of it.
So I’m going to do this as a three-for-one. Then you can decide which one was your favorite, or the most important, or... the “greatest” of the three.
First, this game belongs on this list in and of itself. Only three other teams have hit three or more home runs in a World Series Game 7 — and one of those three ballclubs lost the game! Those three teams are:
- 1964 Yankees. Mickey Mantle, Clete Boyer and Phil Linz homered, but the Cardinals won the game 7-5 and became champions.
- 1960 Pirates. Rocky Nelson, Hal Smith and Bill Mazeroski homered in what is the only World Series Game 7 in history won with a walkoff homer. It is the only Game 7 that ranks higher on an all-time Game 7 list than the Cubs’ in 2016, in Mike’s view, and I concur.
- 1956 Yankees. The Bronx Bombers hit four homers in Game 7 in ‘56. Long balls by Elston Howard, Bill Skowron and a pair from Yogi Berra comprise the most by any team in a Game 7. It was overkill in a 9-0 win.
So the Cubs are in rare company here to begin with, and it hadn’t been done by anyone in 52 years when the Cubs had their three-homer Game 7. Let’s look at each of the homers.
Indians ace Corey Kluber was on the mound and Dexter Fowler led off the game for the Cubs.
Look closely. Rajai Davis didn’t miss catching that ball by much, though it would have been the catch of the year. If he does, the Cubs don’t have a World Series trophy from 2016.
Dexter Fowler 1st to lead off a Game 7 with a HR. #WorldSeries— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) November 3, 2016
Javier Baez had made two uncharacteristic errors early in the game, one in the first inning, the other in the third, though neither led to a Cleveland run.
He made up for those errors in a big way on the first pitch Kluber threw in the fifth [VIDEO].
That was a blast — 402 feet to the opposite field. It gave the Cubs what seemed at the time a comfortable 4-1 lead. That was also the last pitch Kluber threw. Andrew Miller relieved him and the Cubs scored another run that inning on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo.
5-1. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, you’re a Cubs fan. You knew something might. (Personally, Game 7 resolved that fear for me. It’s in the past now. I think.)
When Jon Lester entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, David Ross, his personal catcher, also entered. Everyone knew this would be Ross’ final game as a major-league baseball player. Lester had relieved Kyle Hendricks, who should have had Carlos Santana struck out and the inning ended but for this horrendous call:
Pitch 5... I mean, that’s strike three and it’s not close. But plate umpire Sam Holbrook called it ball three and Santana wound up walking.
Lester and Ross seemed like guys who could take charge of the game, but... no. Jason Kipnis dribbled a ball in front of the plate and Ross threw it away, which put runners on second and third. And then a pitch from Lester bounced in, hit Ross in the mask and went far enough for BOTH runners to score, and ghosts of a century earlier arose:
There have been two other 2-run wild pitches in World Series history.— Doug Kern (@dakern74) November 3, 2016
NYG Rube Marquard, 1911 G6
PHA Jack Coombs, 1910 G3
I suppose you could not have blamed Ross if he wanted to crawl into a hole right then and there. Biggest game of his life, last game of his life, and THAT happens?
The Cubs got out of the inning with 5-3 lead, and it didn’t take more than a few minutes for Grandpa to redeem himself [VIDEO].
I mean, come on.
Every little kid’s baseball dream is to hit a home run in Game 7 of the World Series. And then, in a player’s last game, not just that year, but EVER? And off one of the best relievers in baseball? Again, the Hollywood producer throws you out of his office if you give him a script that has this in it.
That ball, incidentally, was absolutely crushed.
David Ross! 103.9 MPH and projected at 402ft! Miller put that pitch right down the pipe pic.twitter.com/YjhFVQMuJM— Daren Willman (@darenw) November 3, 2016
Davis almost caught that one, too, as you can see in the video. Ross, meanwhile, set a record that hasn’t been broken, yet:
Oldest players to homer in #WorldSeries Game 7:— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) October 31, 2019
David Ross, 39y-228d
Willie Stargell, 39y-225d*
Roberto Clemente, 37y-060d*
Howie Kendrick, 36y-110d*
* indicates go-ahead HRhttps://t.co/1kZ9miSny2 pic.twitter.com/GxUJ9E1AgO
It wasn’t the last time Ross stepped to the plate as a big leaguer. He came to bat once more, leading off the ninth inning, and drew a walk off Cody Allen. But his last official at-bat in the big leagues goes down in the books as a home run. Not many players can say that, and certainly not in Game 7 of the World Series. And besides all of that, Ross really wasn’t a home-run hitter. He did hit 10 in 67 games in the 2016 regular season and 106 in 2,280 career at-bats, but in the 2016 postseason he went just 4-for-16, although two of those four hits were homers.
So... I can’t decide. I lean toward Ross’ blast because of how it seemed to energize everyone on the ballclub — I mean, they carried him off the field when they won. And now he’s the team’s manager, a worthy selection.
But the other two also had meaning, and if any of the three doesn’t happen, we are sitting here with a 112-year title drought. Don’t ever forget this about Game 7, either:
Dexter Fowler summed up Game 7 perfectly: "I feel like we played a whole season in one game." #CubsTalk— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) November 3, 2016
Now I’ll stand aside and let you choose the one of these three memorable Game 7 homers that you think meets the standard of “greatest.”
Who hit the "greatest" of the Cubs’ three Game 7 home runs in 2016?
This poll is closed