Being a great player doesn't guarantee great success in the World Series. Ted Williams, regarded by many as the greatest hitter ever, hit just .200 in his World Series career. Ty Cobb, a .367 lifetime hitter, hit .272 in three World Series. Cy Young himself lost the first-ever World Series game. But these 10 players below were the greatest for at least a fleeting moment on the biggest stage.
27 Dodgers up, 27 Dodgers down: There have been only 17 perfect games in major-league history; it happens about once every 17,000 major-league games. To have one in a World Series, with all the pressure associated with it, is astounding. The Yankees' Larsen was 27, a journeyman already with his third team and an 11-5 record that season. He finished a career record of 81-91, which made it even more improbable. New York won the series in seven games.
Reggie Jackson was a Hall of Famer, and his reputation as Mr. October was solidified in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackson hit three home runs on three swings of the bat against three different pitchers. What people don't remember is that he had hit a home run in his final at-bat in Game 5, meaning he hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats. Nobody has ever done that before or since. The Yankees won the game 8-4, and the series.
Another improbable hero was Mazeroski, whose home run beat the Yankees in Game 7 of 1960, ending the series. The Pirates were outscored 55-27 in that World Series, having been blown out 12-0, 10-0 and 16-3 by New York. But Pittsburgh won when Mazeroski, a .260 lifetime hitter with 138 homers, launched a ninth-inning pitch over the left-field wall at Forbes Field. Mazeroski didn't even win the MVP award of the series (Bobby Richardson of the Yankees did). But without that home run, "Maz" doesn't make the Hall of Fame. It was the first series-ending home run in history.
The greatest pinch-hit home run in baseball history set the stage for a big World Series upset against the heavily favored A's, who went 104-58 that season. Both of Gibson's knees were injured, and it was his only at-bat of the World Series. He was facing Dennis Eckersley, who had 45 saves that season and was regarded as the best closer in the game. He hit a 3-2 pitch into the Dodger Stadium bleachers, then limped around the bases as the fans went wild. Broadcaster Jack Buck proclaimed, "I don't believe what I just saw!" And the Dodgers beat the A's in five games.
Larsen's perfect game tops the list, but Mathewson's performance was almost its equal. The New York Giants pitcher, a member of the original Hall of Fame class, started three games in six days against the Philadelphia A's and never allowed a runner to reach third base, throwing three complete-game shutouts. He walked one and struck out 18 in the series, which the Giants won in five games.
It was perhaps the greatest Game 7 in baseball history, and one of the greatest performances by a pitcher. A day after Kirby Puckett ended Game 6 with a home run in the 11th inning to force a seventh game, Morris, then 36, started his third game in the series and pitched 10 shutout innings against he Atlanta Braves. He was matched pitch for pitch by Atlanta's John Smoltz, but Minnesota won the series on a 10th inning single by Gene Larkin that scored Dan Gladden off reliever Alejandro Pena.
The St. Louis Cardinals' Slaughter, who had 130 RBI in 1946 for the Cardinals, is remembered the most for a base-running play. With the score 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Harry Walker hit a line-drive single to left-center and Slaughter never stopped running despite the "stop" sign from the third-base coach and scoring from first base. The Cardinals held the Red Sox in the ninth to preserve a 4-3 victory and the series.
In a 2-2 game in the top of the eighth inning and runners on first and second. Cleveland's Vic Wertz walloped a pitch to dead center in the Polo Grounds, which had the deepest center field of any stadium in major-league history. Taking off on the dead run, the New York Giants' Mays caught the ball over his shoulder, saving at least two runs. It was one of the earliest great plays for Mays, who went on to a Hall of Fame career.
The 1993 World Series looked like it was going to a Game 7 when the Blue Jays' Carter came up against Phillies closer Mitch Williams with two runs on. Carter's home run over the left-field wall at Skydome was the first World Series-ending home run since Mazeroski's homer in 1960. There hasn't been one since.
Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is considered one of the greatest ever, and Boston's Fisk ended the 12-inning game with a home run that barely stayed fair over the Green Monster in Fenway Park. The image of Fisk waving the ball fair is one of the most famous in sports history. The Reds won the next night, however, winning the series. Honorable mention:
Babe Ruth's called shot in 1932; Jim Leyritz's home run in Game 4 in 1996.