41. New York Yankees: 4 Philadelphia Phillies: 2 (2009)
Iconic Moment: Damon takes third base in Game 4
The Phillies beat the Yankees two-of-three in interleague. The two met again in the 2009 World Series. Cliff Lee proved unbeatable for the Phillies, but the rest of the staff could not keep the Yankees down. New York led the series 2-1. With the score tied 4-4 in the ninth inning of Game 5, Johnny Damon delivered a two-out single. Then, Damon stole second. The Phillies had shifted their defense over with Mark Teixeira at the plate leaving third base undefended. As a result, the alert Damon took third on the same play. The so-called “mad dash” unnerved reliever Brad Lidge, who surrendered three runs in the inning. The Phillies fell behind the Bronx Bombers 3-games-to-1. In Game 5, Chase Utley tied Reggie Jackson’s record with his fifth home run in a single series and Philadelphia forced a Game 6 behind Lee. The Yankees won the sixth game 7-3 to capture their 27th title. Series MVP Hideki Matsui hit .615 with three homers and eight RBI.
Hall of Famers: Yankees: Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon (?), Alex Rodriguez (?), Mariano Rivera, C.C. Sabathia (?)
Phillies: Ryan Howard (?), Chase Utley (?), Jimmy Rollins (?), Pedro Martinez
42. New York Mets: 4 Baltimore Orioles: 1 (1969)
Iconic Moments: Agee’s catches and the shoe polish incident
The 1969 Mets won 100 games, but were decided underdogs to the 109-win Orioles in the World Series. Despite the 100-win season, few outside of New York believed in the Mets. They shocked the world with a five game series victory over the Orioles. Baltimore won the first game and then the Mets pitching and defense took over. In Game 2, Jerry Koosman handcuffed the O’s and actually had a no-hitter into the seventh. Tommy Agee took over Game 3 with a home run and two catches saving five runs. Nolan Ryan earned the save courtesy Agee’s play. Tom Seaver won Game 4, which witnessed a frustrated Earl Weaver’s ejection. Baltimore could not buy a break. In Game 5, O’s starter Dave McNally appeared to have hit Cleon Jones in the foot. The ball rolled to the Mets’ dugout and New York manager Gil Hodges brought the ball to the umpire and showed him the shoe polish. Jones was awarded first base and the Mets won 5-3.
Hall of Famers: Mets: Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver
Orioles: Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson
43. New York Yankees: 4 Los Angeles Dodgers: 2 (1977)
Iconic Moments: Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie!
Howard Cosell summed up the Yankees 1977 season when he peered outside Yankee Stadium and saw a fire, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” Yankee owner George Steinbrenner signed Reggie Jackson to a big free agent contract without consulting manager Billy Martin. The skipper resented not being in the loop and took it out on Jackson. The newest Yankee added to the tension when he declared himself “the straw that stirs the drink.” In the same interview, he insulted captain Thurman Munson. After a season of discord, the team won the pennant and World Series. They downed the Dodgers in six games with Reggie emerging as MVP. In Game 5, he homered in his last at bat. In Game 6, he hit three homers on three pitches. Babe Ruth hit three in a series game twice and Albert Pujols matched the feat in 2011. However, neither Ruth nor Pujols hit four straight nor did they hit three consecutive pitches for home runs. It remains the greatest performance in World Series history.
Hall of Famers: Yankees: Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson
Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton
44. New York Yankees: 4 Los Angeles Dodgers: 2 (1978)
Iconic Moments: Welch vs. Reggie, Reggie’s hip, Nettles‘ glove
The Yankees and Dodgers returned to the World Series for a rematch in 1978. The Dodgers took the first two games of the series, but New York rallied for four straight victories and another title. The 1978 Fall Classic featured several key moments. In Game 2, Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda summoned rookie Bob Welch out of the bullpen to face Reggie Jackson. Welch blew away Jackson to end the game. In Game 3, Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles saved seven runs with his glove. Had Nettles not made those plays, the Dodgers take a 3-0 series lead. In the pivotal fourth game, Dodger Bill Russell intentionally muffed a liner so he could initiate a double play. On the relay to first, Jackson threw his hip into the ball’s path leading to a Yankee run. In 2011, Jackson admitted he purposely stood in the ball’s path. The play sparked the Yankees to an extra inning victory. After a 12-2 win in Game 5, Reggie earned his revenge with a dramatic two-run homer off the rookie to cap New York‘s championship.
Hall of Famers: Yankees: Goose Gossage, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Bob Lemon
Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton
45. Los Angeles Dodgers: 4 Oakland Athletics: 1 (1988)
Iconic Moment: Gibson imitates Roy Hobbs
Few gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a chance against the Oakland Athletics. NL MVP Kirk Gibson injured himself in the Dodgers’ NLCS victory against the Mets. Throughout the series, other key players fell to injury. Despite this, they managed a dramatic upset. Oakland led Game 1 by a run in the ninth. Hall of Fame relief ace Dennis Eckersley walked light hitting Mike Davis bringing pinch hitter Kirk Gibson to the plate. Gibson could barely walk and could not get around on the fastball. For whatever reason, Eck threw Gibson a slider and the MVP flicked it into the stands with his wrists. Four years earlier, Hollywood released The Natural starring Robert Redford. The movie culminates with an injured Roy Hobbs (Redford) hitting a dramatic homer. Hollywood scripted Game 1 of the 1988 World Series before it happened. The Dodgers won Game 2 behind Orel Hershiser, but Mark McGwire hit his own walk off to cut the Dodgers series lead to 2-1. The Dodgers won the next two games, with Hershiser capturing Game 5.
Hall of Famers: Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton
A’s: Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire (?), Dennis Eckersley
46. St. Louis Cardinals: 4 Boston Red Sox: 3 (1967)
Iconic Moment: Lonborg vs. Gibson
Bob Gibson defeated the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series. He added to his postseason credentials with three complete game wins in 1967. The series went the distance while Gibson and Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg each going 2-0. The two finally hooked up in Game 7. Lonborg only had two-days rest and it showed. The Cardinals won 7-2 clinching their second title of the decade.
Hall of Famers: Cardinals: Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson
Red Sox: Dick Williams, Carl Yastrzemski
47. Boston Red Sox: 5 Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 (1903)
Iconic Moment: Boston’s Royal Rooters
At its inception, the World Series was a best-of-nine affair. The Fall Classic’s first incarnation featured the Red Sox (called the Americans or the Pilgrims) and Pirates. The Sox won a wild eight game series that proved extremely popular with fans. Boston’s “Royal Rooters”, a precursor to Red Sox nation, made itself a factor by distracting Pirate players, particularly Honus Wagner, with its rendition of “Tessie.” The rooters even traveled to Pittsburgh to annoy Pirate players and fans alike. The Red Sox fell behind 3-1 in the series, but roared back to win. Wagner hit .222.
Hall of Famers: Red Sox: Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
Pirates: Fred Clarke, Honus Wagner
48. Cincinnati Reds: 4 Detroit Tigers: 3 (1940)
Iconic Moment: Bobo’s shutout for his dad
The Tigers won four pennants in 12 seasons from 1934-1945. In 1940, Bobo Newsom emerged the big story. Newsom was one of the game’s great characters, or annoyances depending on the point of view. His father died following Newsom’s Game 1 victory. The right-hander dedicated Game 5 to his dad and shutout the Reds 8-0. He returned to pitch Game 7, but was bested 2-1 by Paul Derringer.
Hall of Famers: Reds: Bill McKechnie, Ernie Lombardi
Tigers: Earl Averill, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg
49. Detroit Tigers: 4 Chicago Cubs: 3 (1945)
Iconic Moment: The Curse of the Billy Goat
The Cubs had not won a World Series since defeating the Tigers in 1907 and 1908. The two teams met again with Detroit winning in 1935. Ten years later, Detroit and Chicago faced each other for the fourth time. Detroit experienced a big lift when Hank Greenberg returned from World War II to pace the Tiger attack. The slugger hit two homers, drove in seven and scored seven times. Some observers considered this Fall Classic to be the worst ever played. The war depleted the majors of talent and it showed on the field. Before Game 4, an idiot tavern owner named Billy Sianis tried to bring his pet goat to the game. Cubs’ officials turned him and his obnoxious guest to leave. Sianis then cursed the Cubs. To date, this remains the Cubs last appearance in the World Series.
Hall of Famers: Tigers: Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser
50. Los Angeles Dodgers: 4 New York Yankees: 2 (1981)
Iconic Moment: Lasorda’s mound visit
The Yankees downed the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. In 1981, it appeared New York would roll the Dodgers once more. Los Angeles fell behind 2-0 in the series heading back to Dodger Stadium. In Game 3, the home team put three on the board. The Bronx Bombers replied with two in the second and two more in the third for a 4-3 lead. Tommy Lasorda visited the mound and told his rookie superstar Fernando Valenzuela that if he could hold him, the team would come back. Valenzuela asked Lasorda if he was sure and went back to work. Valenzuela held New York and Ron Cey blasted a two-run shot to give the Dodgers the victory. Los Angeles went on to win four straight to finally beat Steinbrenner’s Yankees. After the defeat, Steinbrenner blew up the team and they did not appear in the postseason again until 1995.
Hall of Famers: Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda
Yankees: Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield