Ranking all 36 World Series Game 7s

"Hey," my editors asked, "what about ranking all the World Series Game 7s?"

"All 36?"

"Well, only if you want to."

So here they are. I've divided the games into Classics, Good Games, Forgettables and Blowouts. I've listed 23 of the 36 in the first two categories. Let's hope Wednesday's game falls into one of those categories. I have a feeling it will.


1. 1960: Pirates 10, Yankees 9

In my mind, the greatest baseball game ever played: a wild back-and-forth affair that Bill Mazeroski won with the only Game 7 walk-off in World Series history to give the underdog Pirates the win over the mighty Bronx Bombers. Here's a longer post about the game I wrote in 2010.

2. 1991: Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings)

Jack Morris' 10-inning masterpiece capped what many consider the most exciting World Series ever played -- three games went extra innings, four were walk-off wins and five were decided in a team's final at-bat. Morris' performance grows more heroic by the year: Since his 10-inning shutout there have been only eight complete games thrown in the World Series. My favorite anecdote about the game, as Tom Verducci wrote in Sports Illustrated in 2003:

Now, with the World Series on the line, Kelly was testing Morris again. He seemed to be saying somebody else would pitch the 10th inning. The pitching coach grabbed Kelly by the arm and said, "TK, he said he's fine."

Kelly turned. He looked Morris in the eye.

"I can pitch," Morris said.

Kelly paused, then said, "Oh, hell. It's only a game."

3. 2001: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2

The Yankees were going for their fourth World Series title in a row. The Diamondbacks had thoroughly dominated them, only to see the Yankees mount two stunning ninth-inning comebacks and extra-inning wins. The game featured four likely future Hall of Fame pitchers: Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens started, Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera factored in the decision. The Diamondbacks rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth off the invincible Rivera, winning on Luis Gonzalez's walk-off single.

4. 1924: Senators 4, Giants 3 (12 innings)

The longest Game 7 was an exciting finish to another tightly fought World Series as four games were decided by one run. Senators legend Walter Johnson, finally in his first World Series, had lost his two starts, but he entered in relief in the ninth inning after Washington had scored twice in the eighth and pitched four scoreless innings and watched as Washington won it in the bottom of the 12th, with the help of a dropped foul pop fly and bad-hop game-winning hit.

5. 1955: Dodgers 2, Yankees 0

Five times the Dodgers and Yankees had met in the World Series, five times the Yankees had won. Johnny Podres had just turned 23 a few days earlier but the left-hander pitched the game of his life, scattering eight hits at Yankee Stadium in a shutout. Podres got a big lift from left fielder Sandy Amoros, who had just entered the game for defense in the sixth inning and made a spectacular running catch in left field on Yogi Berra's drive, turning a double play with two runners on base. Podres struck out Hank Bauer with two on in the eighth and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. The Bums had finally won.

6. 1975: Reds 4, Red Sox 3

People forget about this one because of Game 6 -- Carlton Fisk's home run -- but the Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead, Tony Perez hit a two-run homer in the sixth off of a Bill Lee blooper, the Reds tied it on Pete Rose's two-out single in the seventh and scored the winner on Joe Morgan's two-out single in the ninth off an obscure rookie reliever named Jim Burton. The Big Red Machine finally won its title.

7. 1997: Marlins 3, Indians 2 (11 innings)

The Indians had their first World Series title since 1948 in their grasp, leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth. But Jose Mesa couldn't hold the lead -- sorry for the memory, Indians fans -- and then Tony Fernandez let a ground ball go through his legs in the 11th and Edgar Renteria drove in the winning run with two outs. The winning pitcher for you trivia buffs? Jay Powell.

8. 1912: Red Sox 3, Giants 2 (10 innings)

Due to an earlier tie, this was technically Game 8. The Red Sox won a coin flip to host the game, but rumors of game-fixing and some sort of strike by Red Sox fans led to the game being played before only a half-full Fenway Park. Anyway, the Giants scored a run in the top of the 10th but Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson couldn't finish it off as Fred Snodgrass dropped a fly ball to start the inning (although he redeemed himself on the next batter with an excellent running catch). But Mathewson walked a batter and then he, catcher Chief Meyers and first baseman Fred Merkle let a foul pop drop. Tris Speaker then singled and a fly ball won the game.

9. 1962: Yankees 1, Giants 0

Ralph Terry, who had served up Mazeroski's home run in 1960, took the shutout into the bottom of the ninth. Matty Alou led off with a bunt single but Terry struck out Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller. Willie Mays then doubled down the right-field line, Roger Maris making a great play to hold Matty at third. That brought up the fearsome slugger Willie McCovey. The Yankees elected to pitch to McCovey instead of Orlando Cepeda. On the second pitch, he drilled a line drive ... right to second baseman Bobby Richardson.

10. 1965: Dodgers 2, Twins 0

Sandy Koufax on two days' rest: Three hits, three walks, 10 strikeouts, 132 pitches.

11. 1952: Yankees 4, Dodgers 2

Both teams scored in the fourth and fifth innings. The Yankees scored in the top of the sixth on Mickey Mantle's home run and then again in the seventh on Mantle's two-out RBI single. In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out. Duke Snider popped out to third. Jackie Robinson hit a little popup behind the pitcher's mound that second baseman Billy Martin made a great, last-second play on to snag. Bob Kuzava slammed the door in the eighth and ninth. Wait 'til next year.

12. 1926: Cardinals 3, Yankees 2

This is for the memorable relief appearance of Hall of Famer Pete Alexander. He had won Game 6 and, known to enjoy a drink or three, was reportedly a little hungover and sleeping off the game in the bullpen when summoned in the seventh inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Tony Lazzeri just missed a grand slam on a long foul, but ol' Pete (he was 39 and looked older) came back and struck him out. The game then ended when Babe Ruth tried to steal second base with two outs but was gunned down.

13. 1946: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 3

The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth to tie the score, but then Johnny Pesky hesitated -- or didn't hesitate -- on a relay throw in the bottom of the eighth as the Cardinals scored the go-ahead run.


14. 1925: Pirates 9, Senators 7

This game was delayed by rain and then basically played in a steady downpour and fog -- the worst conditions ever for a World Series game. Senators manager Bucky Harris left Walter Johnson in to give up 15 hits and nine runs, including three in the bottom of the eighth, that gave Pittsburgh the win. Good game, horrific conditions.

15. 1968: Tigers 4, Cardinals 1

Bob Gibson had posted a 1.12 ERA in the Year of the Pitcher and already had two wins in the Series. Mickey Lolich started for the Tigers on two days of rest, going for his third win of the Series. It was tied 0-0 in the top of the seventh when the Tigers got two singles with two outs and Jim Northrup drove a ball to center. Gold Glover Curt Flood initially took a step in and the ball went over his head for a two-run triple. Lolich would go the distance to get his third complete game.

16. 1986: Mets 8, Red Sox 5

Similar to 1975, this one isn't remembered because of the more memorable Game 6, but a rainout helped build tension and the Red Sox had an early 3-0 lead before the Mets tied it with three runs in the sixth. John McNamara brought in Calvin Schiraldi in the seventh and Ray Knight greeted him with a home run. The Mets scored twice more, the Red Sox made it 6-5 in the eighth, but the Mets tacked on two more runs and then Jesse Orosco celebrated.

17. 1940: Reds 2, Tigers 1

The Reds won the final two games at home, taking this one with two runs in the seventh as Paul Derringer outdueled Bobo Newsom.

18. 1958: Yankees 6, Braves 2

Lew Burdette had defeated the Yankees three times the year before and he started this game on two days' rest. The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth. Burdette retired the first two batters in the inning, but then Yogi Berra doubled, Elston Howard singled him home and Bill Skowron hit a three-run homer. Bob Turley -- who had pitched a shutout in Game 5 and saved Game 6 -- pitched the final 6.1 innings for the Yankees.

19. 1987: Twins 4, Cardinals 2

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the second, but Frank Viola settled down. The Twins tied it in the fifth, but had the potential go-ahead run thrown out at the plate. Greg Gagne's two-out infield single gave the Twins a 3-2 lead in the sixth, an insurance run scored in the eighth and Jeff Reardon closed it out.

20. 1982: Cardinals 6, Brewers 3

This one may have been different if Brewers relief ace Rollie Fingers hadn't been injured; the Cardinals overcame a 3-1 deficit by scoring three runs in the sixth and two in the eighth.

21. 1972: A's 3, Reds 2

This was a close series -- although it's never remembered as a great one. Six games were decided by one run, but the scores were 3-2, 2-1, 1-0, 3-2, 5-4 and 3-2, so the games weren't necessarily action-packed. The A's broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth when then-unknown backup Gene Tenace hit a go-ahead double (he also hit four home runs in earlier games).

22. 1979: Pirates 4, Orioles 1

The last team to win a Game 7 on the road -- the Pirates won Games 6 and 7 in Baltimore -- the Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the sixth on Willie Stargell's two-run homer and scored twice more in the ninth. Pirates relievers Don Robinson, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve combined for five one-hit innings.

(On second thought, I may have underrated this game. After reading this piece by Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs on the highest-leverage moments in baseball history, I missed a key play. When the score was still 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Jackson walked Lee May and Al Bumbry with one out. Chuck Tanner called in Tekulve. A groundout moved the runners up. Tanner than elected to intentionally walk Ken Singleton to pitch to Eddie Murray (who hit .154 in the series). We tend to remember the big hits in World Series play but not the big outs. Murray flew out to Dave Parker in deep right field and then the Pirates added on their insurance runs.)

23. 1971: Pirates 2, Orioles 1

Like 1979, the Pirates won this clincher in Baltimore. Steve Blass went all the way, allowing only a run in the eighth as he pitched a four-hit complete game.


24. 1931: Cardinals 4, Athletics 2

The Cardinals led 4-0 after three innings. The A's scored twice with two outs in the ninth, but Bill Hallahan replaced Burleigh Grimes with two runners on and got Max Bishop to fly out to end the game.

25. 1964: Cardinals 7, Yankees 5

Bob Gibson and Mel Stottlemyre both started on two days' rest, but Stottlemyre got knocked out in the fifth and the Cardinals led 6-0 after five. Gibson staggered to the finish line, giving up two home runs in the ninth, but he finished it off.

26. 2011: Cardinals 6, Rangers 2

It was going to be impossible to match the Game 6 all-timer. The Cardinals broke open a 3-2 game with two runs in the fifth on three walks and two hit batters. Ugh. Chris Carpenter got the win on three days of rest.

27. 1957: Braves 5, Yankees 0

The game may have been forgettable but Lew Burdette's performance wasn't: Starting on two days' rest over Warren Spahn, who was out with the flu, Burdette spun his second straight shutout while winning his third game of the Series.

28. 1947: Yankees 5, Dodgers 2

Dodgers pitchers walked seven batters while Joe Page pitched five innings of one-hit relief for the Yankees.

29. 1967: Cardinals 7, Red Sox 2

Bob Gibson went for the Cardinals while Dick Williams went with Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg on two days' rest, pitching at Fenway. He left Lonborg in to give up 10 hits and seven runs in six innings, however, while Gibson spun a three-hitter, fanned 10 and even hit a home run in a pretty good day at the park.

30. 2002: Angels 4, Giants 1

Garret Anderson's three-run double in the third off Livan Hernandez gave the Angels their 4-1 lead, rookie John Lackey went five innings and Brendan Donnelly, Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival shut down Barry Bonds & Co. the rest of the way.

31. 1973: A's 5, Mets 2

The A's hadn't homered in the series until Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson hit two-run shots in the third inning off Jon Matlack. Ken Holtzman got the win and Rollie Fingers pitched 3.1 innings in relief.


32. 1985: Royals 11, Cardinals 0

Bret Saberhagen tossed the five-hit shutout while Whitey Herzog, Joaquin Andujar and John Tudor lost their cool. But it's all Don Denkinger's fault (get over it, Cardinals fans).

33. 1956: Yankees 9, Dodgers 0

Yogi Berra hit two-run homers off Don Newcombe in the first and third innings and Johnny Kucks went the distance, tossing a three-hitter.

34. 1934: Cardinals 11, Tigers 0

St. Louis scored seven runs in the third inning off four Detroit pitchers. Later, after Joe Medwick slid hard into Detroit third baseman Marv Owen, Tigers fans littered the field with garbage and bottles, forcing Medwick to leave the game. Dizzy Dean went on to pitch a shutout.

35. 1945: Tigers 9, Cubs 3

Hank Borowy had started Game 5 and won Game 6 in relief, but had nothing when he started Game 7 and the Tigers scored five runs in the top of the first. The Cubs haven't been back to the World Series since.

36. 1909: Pirates 8, Tigers 0

Rookie Babe Adams won his third game in the Series with the shutout, sending Ty Cobb home without a title for the third year in a row. He never got back.