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Great World Series performances.

It's time for another World Series--a chance for another set of players to gain baseball immortality and etch their names in the sport's Book of Life. Who will be this year's big hero? The nearly 120-year history of the World Series has seen more than its share--superstars delivering in the big moments, everyday players raising their game to the rafters with a clutch hit or shutout, forgotten bench denizens cashing in on their big chance.

What are the greatest hitting and pitching performances in Series history? You'll find no agreement between the game's historians, but here's our list of the 10 greatest hitting and pitching displays, both in a single game and in a Series.

One thing you'll notice in these lists is that when the game itself changes, its heroes do. too. Gone are the days when a pitcher would throw two complete games in a Series, much less three, meaning many of the greatest pitching feats came in the World Series' earliest years. True also is that in the dead-ball era, offense was at a premium and getting three, much less four, hits in a single game was very, very difficult.

Not all the game's greatest players were World Series dominators. Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Tom Seaver, Hank Aaron, Pedro Martinez, Honus Wagner, Mordecai Brown, Stan Musial, Willie Mays and other Hall of Famers do not appear here...some were very good in the World Series, but none of them absolutely dominated in a way that would merit their inclusion.

In addition, you'll find that perhaps the greatest postseason pitcher of our time-Mariano Rivera of the Yankees--makes no appearances here, because the ace reliever did not pitch enough in one game, or even one Series, to reach the peaks of a Mathewson, Gibson, or even a Madison Bumgarner. So goes baseball!


Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1926, Game 4. He had many great games in the World Series, but this may be the top. Ruth hit three home runs, knocking in four, and also walked twice, terrorizing the Cardinals. His four runs scored remain tied for the single-game Series record.

Yogi Berra, Yankees, 1956, Game 7. The catcher Casey Stengel referred to as "my man" came up big in the clutch, smacking a pair of two-run homers, walking twice, and scoring three runs, to shut down the hated Dodgers.

Ted Kluszewski, White Sox, 1959, Game 1. The muscle-bound first sacker, in the late stages of his career, summoned up some magic, clubbing two long home runs and a single against the Dodgers and driving in five.

Rusty Staub, Mets, 1973, Game 4. Despite suffering from a separated shoulder sustained making a great catch in that year's NLCS, Staub had a great Series. He really did it all at bat this day, slugging a home run and adding three singles and a walk, knocking in five runs.

Reggie Jackson, Yankees, 1977, Game 6. "Mr. October" cemented his rep this night, slugging three mammoth home runs and driving in five runs in the deciding game of the New Yorkers' Series win over the Dodgers. He also walked and scored, tying the single-game record with four runs.

Paul Molitor, Brewers, 1982, Game 1. The Milwaukee infielder shot his way to national stardom this night, opening the Series against St. Louis with five singles in six at-bats, scoring a run and driving in two in a 10-0 plastering. With this feat, he was the first of only two players to ever notch five hits in a World Series game.

Kirby Puckett, Twins, 1991, Game 6. Talk about putting a team on your back and carrying it to victory! On this night, Puckett and the Twins forced a Game 7 against the Braves; the center fielder hit a triple and a sacrifice fly, stole a base, made a great catch against the left-center-field wall, and clubbed a walk-off homer in the 11th inning.

Lenny Dykstra, Phillies, 1993, Game 4. In a crazy World Series, this crazed center fielder fit right in with one of the Fall Classic's all-time great offensive performances. He tied the Series single-game record by scoring four runs; he slammed a pair of home runs, kicked in a double, a single and a walk, stole a base, and drove in four.

Hideki Matsui, Yankees, 2009, Game 6. In the Yankees' clincher against the Phillies, "Godzilla" contributed three hits in four at-bats: a two-run homer, a two-run single, and a two-run triple. He was the first ever to knock in six runs in a World Series contest.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 2011, Game 3. The Cardinals' first sacker this night enjoyed the greatest World Series game of our lifetimes, going 5-for-6 against Rangers pitching by pounding three massive home runs and adding two singles. He set the individual Series single-game record with 14 total bases, tied Matsui's record with six RBI, and equaled Molitor's record of five hits. Oddly, David Freese's heroics in Games 6 and 7 have already largely obscured the memory of Pujols' amazing performance.

Babe Ruth, Red Sox, 1916, Game 2. Figures that baseball's greatest-ever star would figure in Series annals as a pitcher and a hitter. Ruth, in his early days, was a superb fastball pitcher, and this day nobody could have been much better. He tossed a 14-inning complete-game win against the Dodgers--nobody else has ever pitched that many innings in a Series game--and added an RBI groundout in Boston's 2-1 victory.

Claude Passeau, Cubs, 1945, Game 3. Passeau, a sinkerball specialist, allowed a single and a walk and nothing else, shutting down the Tigers 3-0 in a masterful performance in Detroit. Passeau faced only 28 batters, notching just one strikeout, getting 11 groundball outs, and retiring the rest of the Tigers in the air.

Vic Raschi, Yankees, 1950, Game 1. Raschi went up against the Phillies' MVP, Jim Konstanty, and bested him 1-0 at Shibe Park. Raschi allowed only two singles and a walk in his shutout, fanning five and also getting one of the Yankees' five hits. He retired the final 11 Philadelphia batters in order.

Don Larsen, Yankees, 1956, Game 5. In 1954, Larsen was 3-21 for the Orioles. Two years later, he totaled an 11-5 record and won a job in New York's Series rotation. Larsen threw hard, but didn't always have command, but this day was unbeatable. He not only didn't allow a hit, he didn't walk anyone either, notching the only perfect game in World Series history. The 6-foot-4 righty fanned seven, ending with a flourish by getting Dale Mitchell looking.

Johnny Kucks, Yankees, 1956, Game 7. Two days after Larsen's feat, with the Series on the line, Kucks euthanized the Dodgers with a great sinker. He got plenty of support, winning 9-0, and gave up just three hits and three walks. Kucks got 16 of his outs on groundballs, allowing Dodgers hitters little opportunity to take advantage of the short outfield dimensions at Ebbets Field.

Ralph Terry, Yankees, 1962, Game 7. Terry, another in a long line of good, but not great, Yankees pitchers to come up big in critical situations, did it big this day. He went all the way in a 1-0 squeaker, shutting down the powerful Giants at Candlestick Park to nail down the Series. Terry gave up four hits and no walks, fanning four and edging out of a ninth-inning jam by getting Willie McCovey to line out with the tying and winning runs in scoring position.

Sandy Koufax, Dodgers, 1965, Game 7. On two days' rest, Koufax and the Dodgers clinched the Series with a tight 2-0 win over the home Twins. It was Koufax' second whitewash in four days. In the deciding game, Koufax ceded Minnesota a double, two singles, and three walks, but struck out 10 and set down 14 of the final 15 hitters. It would be his final World Series win and perhaps his greatest big-game performance of all.

Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 1968, Game 1. The Cardinals' overpowering righty fanned a record 17 Detroit Tigers, walking just one and allowing five hits in a 4-0 shutout. Gibson had already proved to be an all-time Series great in 1964 and 1967, and on this day--the cap to an amazing season in which he had a 1.12 ERA--was the greatest pitcher in the world. In the ninth inning, he had enough left to strike out the side. It is probably the greatest single-game mound performance in Series history.

Jack Morris, Twins, 1991, Game 7. Morris had several big World Series games, none more impactful than this. With the season on the line, Morris went all the way, firing 10 innings and emerging with a 1-0 win when Randy Bush singled in Dan Gladden in the bottom of the 10th. The Braves totaled seven hits and two walks off Morris, but fanned eight times. The veteran righty wormed out of an eighth-inning jam and held on for his second win of the Series, clinching the MVP trophy in the process.

Madison Bumgarner, 2014, Game 5. The Giants' big righty dominated at AT&T Park, shutting out the Royals 5-0 on four hits and no walks, fanning eight. This was just the most visible evidence that the 2014 Series belonged to Bumgarner, who also won Game 1 and saved Game 7 with five innings of two-hit, no-walk relief.

Lou Gehrig, Yankees, 1928. The "Iron Horse" helped the Yankees wipe out the N.L. champion Cardinals in four games, totaling six hits in 11 at-bats (.545) and drawing six walks. Among those six hits were four homers, and Gehrig knocked in nine runs in the Series sweep.

Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1928. For his part, Ruth hit .625 (10-for-16) in the same Series, adding three doubles and three homers. He scored nine runs in the four games, still among the highest Series totals ever. The Yankees outscored St. Louis 27-10 in the slaughter.

Billy Martin, Yankees, 19S3. The fiery second baseman made a great catch in Game 7 to end the Dodgers' final threat and help clinch the Series, but his biggest contributions were at the dish. Martin batted an even .500 in 24 at-bats, and it wasn't a cheap .500; Martin sparked the Yankees' attack with a double, two triples, two homers and eight RBI.

Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1960. The Yankees didn't win the Series and Mantle didn't even get the MVP award, losing it to teammate Bobby Richardson (.367, 12 RBI). But he was the best player in that year's Fall Classic. Mantle hit .400 in 25 at-bats and drew eight walks; when the Pirates actually pitched to him, the Mick hit three homers, drove in 11 runs--second all-time to Richardson's total--and scored eight.

Lou Brock, Cardinals, 1968. After a spectacular 1967 October performance against the Red Sox, Brock was even better in '68 in a losing effort against Detroit. The speedy, powerful left fielder was 13-for-28 (.464), rapping out three doubles, a triple and two homers, stealing seven bases and scoring six runs. A baserunning error in Game 5 is the only mark on his record in the Series.

Johnny Bench, Reds, 1976. The Big Red Machine rolled over the Yankees in four games, and Bench--regaining his touch after a rough regular season--was the main contributor. He was 8-for-15 (.533), including a double, triple and two homers. Both of his longballs came in the final contest--a solo shot in the fourth and a grand slam in the ninth.

Reggie Jackson, Yankees, 1977. Yes, Jackson hit three homers in the final game. But he was a monster the entire six-game set. Reggie was 9-for-20, a .450 mark, and scored 10 runs, setting a record (since tied) for one World Series. Jackson also was the first (of only two) to club five homers in a Series, and his 25 total bases are tied with Willie Stargell's Series mark--and Stargell had seven games to do it.

Paul Molitor, Blue Jays, 1993. In a bat-happy Series with the Phillies, Molitor in particular ran wild. Eleven years after his first World Series appearance, he batted .500 in 24 trips to the plate and scored 10 runs, tying Reggie Jackson's record. Over the six-game set, Molitor hit a pair of doubles, a pair of triples and a pair of homers, plating eight runs.

Hideki Matsui, Yankees, 2009. Acting as a DH and pinch-hitter in the six-game Series, Matsui was held to just 13 at-bats--but made the most of them, batting .615. Matsui rapped out eight hits--three of them homers--and drove in eight. Few players have done so much in so few opportunities in a World Series, and "Godzilla" was rewarded with the MVP trophy.

David Ortiz, Red Sox, 2013. "Big Papi" made mincemeat of the Cardinals' pitching staff in Boston's six-game victory, totaling 11 base hits in 16 tries. That's a .688 average, and it wasn't empty. Ortiz clubbed a couple of doubles and a couple of homers, plating six runs. He also took eight walks and scored seven times.

Christy Mathewson, Giants, 1905. If you pitched in an era when runs were scarce, balls didn't travel far, and you could save your best stuff for a jam, a pitcher could take a whole Series in his hands--if that pitcher were Christy Mathewson, who dominated the A's in that year's Fall Classic. He fired four-hit shutouts in Games 1 and 3 and clinched the five-game Series with a five-hit whitewash in the final contest. He allowed just 13 hits and one walk in his three complete games. Nobody else has ever thrown three shutout victories in a World Series.

Stan Coveleski, Indians, 1920. In a best-of-nine set, Cleveland downed the Dodgers five games to two. Coveleski, perhaps the game's foremost spitball hurler, won three of them, stifling Brooklyn 3-1 in Game 1, 5-1 in Game 4, and 3-0 in Game 7. Allowing just 15 hits and two walks in 27 innings, Coveleski totaled an 0.67 ERA. Amazingly, Brooklyn was able to win two games despite scoring only eight runs in the Series.

Waite Hoyt, Yankees, 1921. Hoyt's performance in this best-of-nine matchup is probably the greatest forgotten star turn in Series history. After firing a two-hit shutout to top the Giants 3-0 in Game 2, Hoyt won again 3-1 in Game 5. With the Yankees down four games to three, he took the hill again in Game 8. In the first, the Giants scored on an error...and that was it. Hoyt pitched the entire game but lost 1-0. For the Series, he tossed three complete games and gave up 18 hits. Neither of the runs he allowed in the Series was earned. He and Christy Mathewson are the only pitchers to have 0.00 ERAs in a Series in which they pitched three complete games.

Lew Burdette, Braves, 1957. Most expected Warren Spahn to be the Braves' big threat in the '57 Series, but it was Burdette who won a trio of complete games to carry his team over the Yankees. Burdette set down New York 4-2 in Game 2, then fired blanks at the Yanks in Games 5 (1-0) and 7 (5-0), totaling an 0.67 ERA over the three contests. In his 27 innings, he allowed 21 hits and just four walks.

Sandy Koufax, Dodgers, 1965. After missing Game 1 of the World Series in observance of Yom Kippur, Koufax more than pulled his weight the rest of the way. In Game 2 he lost 5-1, allowing two runs (just one earned) in his six innings, but roared back to blank the Twins in Game 5 (7-0) and Game 7 (2-0). In all he fashioned an 0.38 ERA in his 24 frames, striking out 29 Minnesotans and walking five.

Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 1967. It would be unthinkable to allow anyone but Gibson the chance to make three starts against the A.L. champion Red Sox. Gibson pitched and won a trio of complete games (Games 1, 4 and 7), rolling over Boston hitters, who stung him for just three runs in his 27 innings; Gibson fanned 26 in that span. He even homered in the deciding 7-2 Game 7 win.

Mickey Lolich, Tigers, 1968. As Lew Burdette did in 1957, Lolich came into the Series underrated--teammate Denny McLain had won 31 games that year--but emerged a three-game winner. In Game 2, Lolich homered in an 8-1 thrashing of the Cardinals; in Game 5 he went all the way again in a 5-3 victory; and in Game 7 he set down St. Louis 4-1 to win it all. He was good for 27 innings, three wins, one legend.

Jack Morris, Twins, 1991. While Morris was "just" 2-0 in the Series, he pitched great all three times he took the hill. He won Game 1 with some relief help, 5-2; he pitched six innings of one-run ball in Game 4; and in Game 7 went all the way for a 10-inning shutout to seal the Series. Fashioning a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings, Morris reminded old-timers of what aces used to do in October.

Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks, 2001. Big and gawky, the lefty had amazing stuff and amazing desire. He threw a shutout in Game 2 against the Yankees. He won Game 6, allowing two runs in seven innings. And the next day, with the season on the line, he came back in relief, entering down 2-1 in the eighth inning. When Arizona rallied for two in the last of the ninth to win the game and Series, Johnson went down in the history books with a 3-0 record and a 1.04 ERA in 171 innings. He struck out 19 and allowed just 12 baserunners.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants, 2014. His Game 1 performance was fine--a seven-inning, one-run win--but he was really just getting started. Bumgarner shut out the Royals on four hits in Game 5, then came back in Game 7 to bail out his club with five innings of two-hit relief. His utter dominance on the mound gave San Francisco the edge to take the Series. In his 21 innings, Bumgarner allowed only one run, nine hits and a walk. BD

Players who had some of the top single-series or single-game accomplishments in Fall Classic history


Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1928, Game 4. He helped sweep away the Cardinals with three homers and tour RBI.

Bobby Richardson, Yankees, 1960, Game 3 The New Yorkers' second sacker became, in 1960, the first player from a losing team to win the Series MVP, hitting .367. He made his biggest impact in this contest, clubbing a grand slam and knocking in six runs.

Tim Salmon, Angels, 2002, Game 2 Salmon clubbed a pair of two-run homers and two singles, and drew a walk.

Jeff Kent, Giants, 2002, Game 5. Three games later, Kent also hit a pair of two-run shots and added a double and a walk.

Pablo Sandoval, Giants, 2012, Game 1 His three homers set the tone for an eventual four-game sweep of the Tigers.

Gene Bearden, Indians, 1948, Game 3. He fired a five-hit, no-walk shutout and went 2-for-3 with a double.

Whitey Ford, Yankees, 1961, Game 1. He opened the Series by blanking the Reds on two hits, walking one and fanning five.

Don Drysdale, Dodgers, 1963, Game 3 Drysdale shut out the Yankees on three hits and a walk, whiffing nine.

Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 1964, Game 5. He went all 10 innings to beat the Yankees, ceding two unearned runs and fanning 10.

Mike Caldwell, Brewers, 1982, Game 1 Caldwell shut out the Cardinals on three hits and a walk.

Hank Gowdy, Braves, 1914. Mil .545 (6-for-11) with four extra-base hits and five walks in a four-game sweep of the A's.

Brooks Robinson, Orioles, 1970. Won Series MVP honors with sparkling defense, a .429 average and six RBI.

Willie Aikens, Royals, 1980. He batted .400 with a pair of two-homer games, taking six walks and driving in eight.

Billy Hatcher, Reds, 1990. Hatcher hit .750 (9-for-12) with four doubles in a Series sweep of Oakland.

Barry Bonds, Giants, 2002. Hitting .471 with four homers and six RBI is enough...and then there were the 13 walks.

Babe Adams, Pirates, 1909. Went 3-0, tossing three complete games, and racking up a 1.33 ERA.

Red Faber, White Sox, 1917. Pitched 27 innings in a six-game Series win. racking up a 3-1 mark with two complete games and a 2.33 ERA.

Harry Brecheen, Cardinals, 1946 Me was 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA in three games. "The Cat" fired two complete-game wins and won Game 7 in relief after blowing the save.

Darold Knowles, Athletics, 1972 Still the only pitcher to appear in every game of a seven-game (or more) World Series.

Bruce Hurst, Red Sox, 1986. He went 2-0 in three starts with a 1.96 ERA. taking Games 1 and 5 and pitching well enough to win Game 7.

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Author:Shea, Stuart
Publication:Baseball Digest
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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