Pujols puts himself firmly among Series elite
Albert joins Reggie, the Babe and Larsen in annals of the game
ARLINGTON -- "Legends are Born in October" is Major League Baseball's theme for this postseason, and another legend was born Saturday night in Texas, as Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols recorded one of the greatest performances in World Series history in a 16-7 victory over the Rangers in Game 3 of the World Series.
There have been great moments, like Kirk Gibson's homer to win the 1988 World Series, or Willie Mays' miraculous catch and throw in 1954. There have been series-long feats like Christy Mathewson's three shutouts in six days in 1905. But we're talking one full World Series game, one chapter that survives the test of time.
Here are some of the greatest performances since the Fall Classic was first played in 1903:
Don Larsen, 1956: The only perfect game in World Series history was thrown by the Yankees right-hander in Game 6 against the Dodgers. "Everything that Yogi [Berra] called for," Larsen said, "I threw it pretty close to where he wanted it." It remained the only no-hitter of any kind in the postseason until last year, when Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Albert Pujols, 2011: Just when a four-inning hitting streak seemed like it would be Pujols' memorable feat as the Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead, the superstar stepped up one last time in the ninth inning and launched his third homer of the game. The three blasts came off Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darren Oliver, three relievers. Pujols went 5-for-6 with a Fall Classic-record 14 total bases.
Bob Gibson, 1968: A five-hit shutout in Game 1 of the Fall Classic was impressive on its own, but the Cardinals' fearsome ace struck out a World Series-record 17 batters. He began by whiffing Dick McAuliffe and Al Kaline in the first inning, struck out the side in the second and never slowed down in a 4-0 victory.
Babe Ruth, 1926: The Cardinals also were involved in the first three-homer World Series game. The Bambino pulled off the trick in Game 4 in front of more than 38,000 fans at Sportsman's Park, allowing the Bombers to tie the series at two games apiece with a 10-5 victory. The legend goes that Ruth had promised to hit a homer for an ill boy named Johnny Sylvester, whose father had contacted the Yankees to ask for an autographed ball. And legend also has it that one of the homers went through a car dealership's window outside the stadium.
Reggie Jackson, 1977: Game 6 was the defining moment in pinstripes for Jackson, whose dramatic performance won over the fans and helped to earn him the suitable nickname, "Mr. October." Jackson walked his first time up against Burt Hooton, then homered off him in the fourth. The second shot came off Elias Sosa in the fifth. Yankee Stadium erupted in chants of "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" as Jackson hit his third homer in as many pitches off Charlie Hough in the eighth, a 450-foot blast as the Bombers clinched the World Series title with an 8-4 victory.
Babe Ruth, 1928: This was the sequel for the Sultan of Swat, as the Cardinals were again involved in a three-homer World Series game. This feat came in Game 4 of a Yankees sweep. Ruth homered off starter Bill Sherdel in the fourth and the seventh, and then added one for good measure in the eighth off reliever Grover Cleveland Alexander in a 7-3 victory.
Paul Molitor, 1982: Although they would lose the series in seven, the Brewers opened the Fall Classic in grand style with a 10-0 rout at Busch Stadium. The future Hall of Famer was the one who got it started on the right note, going 5-for-6 at the top of the order for Harvey's Wallbangers. All five hits were singles, and Molitor scored once and drove in a pair. Some say you should make Molitor and Robin Yount 1A and 1B in this one, because Yount was 4-for-6. That's 9-for-12 atop the order in one game.
Duke Snider, 1952: Was he the best center fielder in New York that year? Some would say it was Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle, but the Duke of Flatbush put up hard evidence in the World Series. In front of 70,536 at Yankee Stadium for Game 5, he added an exclamation mark. Snider hit a two-run home run in the fifth, singled home Billy Cox to tie the game in the seventh, and doubled home Cox in the 11th with the winning run. The Yankees would, however, win in seven games.
"Those guys are great players, and to do it on this level and this stage is amazing," Pujols said. "But at the same time, I didn't walk into the ballpark today thinking I was going to have a night like this. I walked in with the attitude that I have to do whatever I can to help the ballclub win. ... This is pretty special."