Today's the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's dramatic home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. Arash Markazi has an excellent oral history of the events leading up to Gibson's pinch-hit theatrics that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 victory and spurred them to a five-game upset of the A's.
I've always thought Bill Mazeroski's home run was the greatest in baseball history -- after all, it remains the only walk-off home run to win Game 7 of the World Series. How can you get bigger than that?
Then I heard Rany Jazayerli and Joe Sheehan talking postseason walk-offs on their latest podcast and Rany made an interesting point: There have been 46 walk-off home runs in postseason history but only three came when trailing: Gibson, Joe Carter's home run to win the 1993 World Series and Lenny Dykstrak's home run for the Mets in Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS.
But Gibson's home run has another added layer over those two: His came with two outs, Carter and Dykstra hit theirs with one out. So Gibson's homer is the only two-out, come-from-behind walk-off home run in postseason history. (Bobby Thomson's home run for the Giants in 1951 was hit in a regular-season tiebreaker and also came with one out.)
So, I think that ratchets up Gibson's home run a couple spots on my list. But does a Game 1 home run trump Game 7? What do you think? Or are you still partial to Thomson or Carter?
I think I might be inclined to put Gibson No. 1, factoring in the score, the outs, his injury and the pitcher (Dennis Eckersley). My new top five:
5. Kirby Puckett/Carlton Fisk/David Ortiz/Chris Chambliss/Ozzie Smith/David Freese
By the way, the only players with two postseason walk-off home runs are Ortiz and Bernie Williams.