Six in the City: Where will this one rank?
Yankees, Phillies can join elite Fall Classic company
NEW YORK -- It has been six years since Major League Baseball fans have enjoyed a Game 6 in a World Series -- the longest such drought in the history of the Fall Classic. There will be one tonight, with the Phillies and Yankees taking on each other at Yankee Stadium starting at 7:57 ET, with New York holding a 3-2 Series lead.
Some of the World Series' biggest moments and most treasured memories have occurred in Game 6s. Which are the best? Carlton Fisk's home run in 1975? Bill Buckner's error in 1986? Joe Carter's Series-winning walk-off homer in 1993? Here are some to consider:
2002: Angels 6, Giants 5
The Giants have not won a World Series since moving to San Francisco in the winter of 1957-58, three years removed from their 1954 championship. The 2002 Series is the one they can say they should have taken -- and the one in which the Rally Monkey became a cause celebre.
The Giants were ahead, 5-0, with one out in the bottom of the seventh, eight outs away from celebrating. Then came the turning point. Manager Dusty Baker pulled starting pitcher Russ Ortiz for setup man Felix Rodriguez after back-to-back singles. Baker gave Ortiz the game ball as he sent him back to the dugout.
The Rally Monkey appeared on the Angel Stadium scoreboard during the pitching change, and the fans went crazy. So did Scott Spiezio, their first baseman. He finished a long at-bat with a three-run home run, making it 5-3. In the eighth, Darin Erstad pulled the Angels within one with a leadoff homer. After two singles, Baker brought in closer Robb Nen to pitch to Troy Glaus. Glaus' double drove in the tying and winning runs. Troy Percival retired the Giants in order in the ninth, striking out two to close out the Anaheim victory that tied the Series.
The Angels won the championship the following night with a 4-1 victory behind a strong outing by rookie right-hander John Lackey.
1996: Yankees 3, Braves 2
The Yankees were in the World Series for the first time since 1981 and were pursuing their first title since 1978. They promptly lost the first two games -- at home. Jim Leyritz hit his famous three-run homer off Mark Wohlers as New York came back from a 6-0 deficit to win Game 4 in Atlanta and tie the Series.
Andy Pettitte -- tonight's Yankees starter -- pitched a masterpiece opposite John Smoltz to win Game 5, 1-0, and the Yankees, along with their rookie shortstop, Derek Jeter, returned to Yankee Stadium on the precipice of ending their championship drought. But they had to face Greg Maddux, who was at the peak of his 355-win career. The Yankees countered with veteran left-hander Jimmy Key.
In the third inning, Paul O'Neill doubled. One out later, Joe Girardi -- now one win from becoming the ninth man to manage the Yankees to a world championship -- drove a ball deep into the gap. The catcher raced around the bases and slid into third base with a triple, and the Stadium rocked.
Jeter singled home Girardi and later scored for a 3-0 lead. The Yankees held on to win, but not before things got dicey in the ninth. Closer John Wetteland gave up a run and the Braves had the tying and go-ahead runners on base before Wetteland got Mark Lemke to hit a foul pop to third baseman Charlie Hayes for the final out. It was Wetteland's fourth save of the Series.
1995: Braves 1, Indians 0
The Braves were four seasons into their string of 14 consecutive playoff appearances and had gone to the World Series in 1991 and 1992, only to lose to the Twins and Blue Jays.
Atlanta had a chance to clinch in Game 5, but came up short in a 5-4 loss at Cleveland. Tom Glavine started Game 6 and was outstanding, throwing eight shutout innings while allowing only one hit. But the Braves couldn't get anything across against Indians starter Dennis Martinez and a cadre of relievers.
That was until David Justice homered off Jim Poole in the sixth inning. Glavine and Wohlers made the run stand. They say pitching wins championships, but this was the only one for Atlanta despite such a long run of brilliant starting pitching and postseason appearances.
1993: Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6
Only one player had ended a World Series with a home run: Bill Mazeroski, whose walk-off for the Pirates beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 Series. Toronto's Joe Carter joined him, taking Phillies closer Mitch Williams -- currently an MLB Network analyst -- deep on a 2-2 count with Philadelphia ahead, 6-5, and a pair of future Hall of Famers on base: Rickey Henderson on second and Paul Molitor on first.
"I actually dreamed of that moment many times," Carter has said. "I dreamed of that moment when I was a little kid. I'd be sitting at my father's garage and daydreaming about that moment. I even wrote it down a few times: 'My dream is to hit a home run to win the World Series.'"
1991: Twins 4, Braves 3
This was the Kirby Puckett Game. In the top of the third inning, the Twins center fielder leaped high against the 13-foot Plexiglas fence at the Metrodome to rob Ron Gant of an extra-base hit and prevent a run from scoring. Then in the bottom of the 11th, with the score tied at 3-3, Braves manager Bobby Cox put Charlie Leibrandt on the mound to face Puckett.
Puckett took the first three pitches for a 2-1 count, then smashed the next pitch into the left-center-field seats for a walk-off homer that forced Game 7. It prompted Jack Buck's call of "And we'll see you tomorrow night!" -- and it led to a Twins title.
1986: Mets 6, Red Sox 5
Now known simply as "Game 6," Boston took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th inning when Dave Henderson homered and Marty Barrett singled in Wade Boggs. The time had finally arrived for the Red Sox. They got to the bottom of the inning and stood just one out away from their first World Series title since 1918. Then the Curse of the Bambino reared its ugly head.
New York rallied to tie the score, and then with Ray Knight on second, Mookie Wilson hit a slow roller to first baseman Bill Buckner. It rolled under Buckner's glove and into immortality as Knight came home to score the winning run.
Vin Scully's play-by-play call went like this: "So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, 3-2 to Mookie Wilson. Little roller up along first ... behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!"
The Red Sox had another chance in Game 7 but the Mets knocked around starter Bruce Hurst and three relievers in the sixth and seventh innings and won, 8-5, for their second World Series championship -- 17 years after that of the Miracle Mets.
1985: Royals 2, Cardinals 1
It was the bottom of the ninth and the Cardinals were up, 1-0, and on the brink of their second title in four seasons. Manager Whitey Herzog summoned reliever Todd Worrell to pitch the ninth. Jorge Orta batted first for the Royals and bounced a grounder to Jack Clark at first base. Clark tossed to Worrell, who was covering first and tagged the bag ahead of Orta. But umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe.
To this day, it remains perhaps the most-invoked example of a wrong call by an umpire, especially because of what happened next. The Royals scored two in that inning to win, then blew out the Cardinals, 11-0, in Game 7 to complete a comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the I-70 Series.
1980: Phillies 4, Royals 1
The Phillies may be vying for a second straight championship, but consider their history prior to 1980. They joined the National League as the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883 and had a record of 17-81. Things never got much better than that -- nothing more than two quick World Series losses in 1915 and 1950 -- until 1976-78, when they won three straight NL East titles. But they lost in the NLCS each time.
Led by lefty Steve Carlton and slugger Mike Schmidt and buoyed by the enthusiasm of Tug McGraw, the Phillies made it to the World Series in 1980.
In Game 6, with the Phillies one victory from their first World Series title ever, Schmidt drove in two runs with a third-inning single and the Phillies added runs in the fifth and sixth for a 4-0 lead. But it wouldn't be so easy to secure a world championship.
McGraw, seven years removed from his "You Gotta Believe" campaign with the 1973 NL-champion Mets, relieved Carlton with two on and none out in the eighth. McGraw got an out and then issued a walk to load the bases. The Royals got a run on a sacrifice fly, and George Brett -- the AL MVP who had hit .390 during the regular season -- reached on an infield grounder, loading the bases again. But McGraw escaped, getting Hal McRae to ground out to second baseman Frank White.
The drama heightened further. Kansas City loaded the bases again in the ninth, and again with one out. What followed were two of the biggest plays in Phillies history.
The first was on White's high foul between home and first base. Catcher Bob Boone and first baseman Pete Rose converged near the dugout. As Boone closed his mitt on the ball, it popped out -- and dropped right into the glove of Rose, who reflexively leaned forward to catch the ball about thigh-high.
With one out to go, McGraw struck out the next batter, Willie Wilson, and leaped in the air, his arms stretched skyward, making for a picture that will live forever in Phillies history.
1977: Yankees 8, Dodgers 4
The greatest individual performance in World Series Game 6 history happened at Yankee Stadium, when Reggie Jackson homered three times -- on consecutive pitches. Jackson hit a two-run homer in the fourth on the first pitch of the at-bat from starter Burt Hooton, then another two-run shot off of reliever Elias Sosa, and then, defying belief, a solo shot in the eighth off of knuckleballer Charlie Hough -- amid chants of "REG-GIE! REG-GIE! REG-GIE!"
1975: Red Sox 7, Reds 6
This game is remembered for one of the most-replayed highlight clips in World Series history -- the sight of Carlton Fisk joyously jumping up the first-base line, waving his arms and willing his fly ball to left field to stay inside the foul pole for a walk-off homer in the 12th inning at Fenway Park. The ball barely stayed fair and ended a game for the ages that included Bernie Carbo's pinch-hit three-run homer off Will McEnaney that tied the score in the eighth inning.
"It's funny," Fisk said later. "Some people remember that a lot more than I do. I remember certain parts of it, and if everybody who mentioned that to me had been to the game who said they were at the game, there'd be 800,000 people at that game, I think."
1953: Yankees 4, Dodgers 3
Dem Bums of Brooklyn had just tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth on Carl Furillo's two-run homer off Yankees reliever Allie Reynolds. It honestly looked as if the Dodgers would win a World Series -- and against the Yankees, no less, who had beaten them four times since 1941. But wait.
Billy Martin had 12 hits in that seemingly annual Subway Series, and that included a walk-off hit in the ninth. With Clem Labine pitching for Brooklyn, Hank Bauer led off with a walk, Yogi Berra lined out to right, and Mickey Mantle singled Bauer over to second. That brought up Martin, who sent a single to center to score Bauer and give the Yankees their fifth consecutive title -- still the longest streak in MLB history.
1945: Cubs 8, Tigers 7
This marks the last World Series game the Cubs won. In the bottom of the 12th, Stan Hack doubled off Dizzy Trout to score pinch-runner Bill Schuster.
1935: Tigers 4, Cubs 3
This was pioneering broadcaster Red Barber's first World Series. In Game 6, Detroit held a 3-2 Series lead and was looking to clinch at home over Chicago. Barber's words were nearly as important as what he was describing as an age of baseball over the airwaves was taking root. Here's Barber's call:
"Now two out for Detroit in the last half of the ninth. The ballgame is tied up at 3 and 3. The batter is Goose Goslin. Two men out. Fans are just about to go mad. They hardly know what they're cheering for, what they're saying, but there's just a tremendous babble. Every mouth is open, and every throat is working. And out comes noise of some sort.
"The left-field bleachers, just a bedlam of sound, in motion as the people are standing up and moving. French gets all set, Cochrane leads on second, two away, the pitch, Goslin swings, IT'S A SHARP HIT, into short right-center field, Cochrane rounds third, comes into the plate, here comes the throw, IT'S THE WORLD SERIES! Cochrane scores! Cochrane scores! Goose Goslin grounds a short single to right-center field, scoring Cochrane, after two were out in the last half of the ninth. The Detroit Tigers are champions of the world! We'll let you listen to this crowd for just a minute.
"Well, the sounds of spectators, they've broken down the wire, they are coming out onto the playing field and there's no way to stop them. They are all over the diamond! Just a blaze of moving humanity in all varied colors of autumn. And the Detroit Tigers are champions of the world. The first world's championship that has ever come to the city of Detroit. Goose Goslin with manager Mike Cochrane on second base and two out in the last half of the ninth, singled a clean sharp drive to right-center field, a line drive hit, and Cochrane came dashing madly for the plate, and the players are literally swarmed. And so Detroit wins, 4 to 3, it's the World Series and the championship of the world."
1934: Cardinals 4, Tigers 3
This was a spirited series, with tempers flaring once it got to the seventh game. The largest of the seven crowds -- 44,551 -- showed up for the sixth, when the series moved to Navin Field in Detroit. The Dean brothers, Dizzy and Paul, combined for all four victories in this Series, and it was Paul who won Game 6, beating Schoolboy Rowe.
St. Louis held a 3-1 lead before the Tigers tied it by manufacturing a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, one on an error by Dean. Then Dean helped his own cause in the seventh by driving in what proved to be the winning run, hitting a single that followed Leo Durocher's double.
1923: Yankees 6, Giants 4
This year's Yankees are trying to pull off the same trick that the 1923 Bronx Bombers did: Win it all in the first year playing in a new Yankee Stadium. On the road for Game 6 -- across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds -- Babe Ruth hit a solo homer, his third of the Series, and the Yankees erupted for five runs in the top of the eighth to win it behind Herb Pennock and clinch their first championship.
1903: Boston Americans 6, Pirates 3
It was Pittsburgh, representing the old guard (National League), against Boston, from the new rule (American League), in the first World Series. The Pirates had won three of the first four games. But Boston rallied back in the best-of-nine series, and the Americans (now the Red Sox) won Game 6 to tie it at three games apiece. Boston's Bill Dinneen earned his second complete-game victory of the Series, allowing three runs in the seventh and nothing else.
Now it is time for the first World Series Game 6 since 2003, when the Marlins' Josh Beckett tagged out Jorge Posada on a comebacker to finish off a 2-0 win at Yankee Stadium. Will this one extend the 2009 Series, or will the Yankees triumph in front of their home crowd?
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.