Baseball-Almanac.com's World Series section
Chapter 7: The 1970's
1970: Cincinnati Reds (1) vs. Baltimore Orioles (4)
After a devastating loss to the "adolescent" New York Mets in the '69 Series, the Baltimore Orioles returned to the top of the American League determined to make amends for their previous postseason failure. Their newest adversaries, the Cincinnati Reds, swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National's Championship Series under rookie manager Sparky Anderson. The soon-to-be "Big Red Machine" boasted a strong pitching rotation that featured Jim Merritt (a 20 game winner), Wayne Simpson (14-3) and Gary Nolan (18-7) as well as another standout named Pete Rose. The Orioles rotation featured Mike Cuellar, a 24-game victor and a tough line-up that included lumberjack Boog Powell and fielding wizard Brooks Robinson.
Game 1 welcomed the World Series debut of the newly christened Riverfront Stadium, which had replaced Crosley Field as the Reds' home in late June. The artificial surface and "soup bowl- surroundings" were the first of their kind to host a Fall Classic. Home-field advantage appeared to be in effect as Lee Mays came out swinging with a 2-run homer that gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead, but the Orioles came back with their own 2-run blast by Powell that was followed with home runs by Elrod Hendricks and Robinson. Baltimore emerged the 4-3 winner, but the victory was soured by a controversial call at the plate by umpire Ken Burkhart. With 1 out and 2 base runners on (Tommy Helms at 1st and Bernie Carbo at 3rd), the Reds' pinch-hitter Ty Cline popped a high tee-shot off of Jim Palmer in front of home plate, (which Burkhart promptly called a fair ball). Baltimore's catcher Ellie Hendricks snatched up the spinning duck and (after turning to 1st) spun around in an attempt to tag out Carbo who was speeding home. As Hendricks' dove toward the plate, he ran into the umpire before reaching the sliding runner. Burkhart, obviously distracted during the collision, called Carbo out on contact. Despite their arguments the verdict stood (although replays have clearly depicted the Oriole catcher tagging Carbo with an empty glove). Brooks Robinson also provided a "replay worthy" moment in the Reds' 6th after making a spectacular backhanded catch and spinning to throw out Dave May who had fired a bouncing cannonball between the fielder and the bag.
Cincinnati entered Game 2 just as they had the opener, with an early 3-0 lead. Unfortunately Baltimore also mimicked their previous days performance with a 4th-inning homer by Hendricks that lit off a 5-run rally in the 5th ending in a 6-5 triumph that put the visitors up 2 games to none. Game 3 was a highlight film for Brooks Robinson who was playing superb defense against anything the Reds sent his way. After Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan both started with consecutive hits, Robinson made a sensational, leaping grab of Tony Perez's hopper, stepped on 3rd and fired to 1st for a perfect double play. Dave McNally closed the inning by inducing Johnny Bench to fly out as Robinson traded his "golden glove" for a wooden bat. Stepping up to the plate, "Hoover" as he was called, nailed a 1st-inning double that scored Don Buford and Frank Robinson. Back on the field in the 2nd, Robinson snagged a slow Tommy Helms' grounder to throw out the sprinting 2nd baseman and in the 6th; he made a diving glove-handed catch of another Bench liner.
McNally also contributed on both sides of the ball and aided his own cause with a bases-loaded homer in the 6th off Wayne Granger. The grand slam equaled Bob Gibson's record of 2 World Series homers by a pitcher and Don Buford and Frank Robinson followed suite with homers of their own for the 9-3 victory. With their backs against the ropes, Cincinnati was on the verge of elimination. Gary Nolan was given the difficult responsibility of keeping his ball club afloat, but cracked under the pressure and was pulled after 2 2/3 innings. An injured Jim Merritt came in as relief and held the Orioles lead to 2 as the Nationals trailed 5-3 in the 8th. Lee May, well aware of the desperate situation his team faced, seized the opportunity to play hero and launched a timely 3-run homer for the 6-5, Series-extending victory. Merritt, still reeling from a sore elbow, returned in Game 5, but was unable to make it through the 2nd-inning. His teammates managed to take Cuellar for 3-runs on 4-hits in the top of the 1st, but it would be only offense generated for the rest of the contest as the Orioles pitched shutout baseball the rest of the way. In the end, it was Baltimore who prevailed with a second 9-3 decision that erased all memories of the '69 Series and returned the championship crown to the American League's clubhouse. Despite the loss, the Reds were far from finished and would return to the Fall Classic (in 2-short years) "Bigger" and better than ever.
1971: Pittsburgh Pirates (4) vs. Baltimore Orioles (3)
68 years after being crowned the first National League Champions (in 1903), the Pittsburgh Pirates returned to the top of the NL evoking memories of their former glory. Many fans still remembered Bill Mazeroski's 9th-inning blast that defeated the perennial champion New York Yankees in 1960 and now they were anxious to see Roberto Clemente win title #2. The "Buccos" had dominated the NL East (winning their division by 7 games) and went on to beat the San Francisco Giants 3-games-to-1 in the Championship Series. The Baltimore Orioles had just completed their 3rd successive AL Series sweep (over the Oakland A's) as well as their 3rd 100-win season. They also became only the 2nd club in major-league history (1920 Chicago White Sox) to feature 4 different 20-game winners in their rotation (Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson).
Pittsburgh set the pace early on in Game 1 and knocked McNally for 3 quick, 2nd-inning runs, but the Orioles ace regained his focus and held the Pirates hitless from the 3rd-inning on. Of the 3-hits he did surrender, 2 were off the bat of Roberto Clemente - a future member of the 3,000-hit club, who had emerged as one of the top players in the National League. Despite "The Great One's" best efforts, Baltimore went on for the 5-3 victory, thanks to a 3-run homer from Merv Rettenmund and solo blasts from both Frank Robinson and Don Buford. Series vet, Jim Palmer followed with an 11-3 triumph in Game 2 that tallied a staggering 14 singles. Brooks Robinson notched 3-hits and 2 walks while reaching base a record 5 consecutive times. Like Clemente in the opener, Rich Hebner accounted for all of the Pirates numbers with a 3-run homer in the 8th.
As the Series shifted to "The Steel City", the hometown Pirates took a considerable turn and showed what had made them NL champions. Steve Blass dominated the mound at Three Rivers Stadium in Game 3, tossing a 3-hitter while Bob Robertson matched his teammates numbers with a 3-run homer of his own. The final was a 5-1 victory that put manager Danny Murtaugh's team back in the race. Game 4 was the first of its kind to be played under the lights and the inaugural night game witnessed a clutch comeback by the "Buccos". Baltimore started strong with a 3-run first that ended with Pirate lefty Luke Walker hitting the showers. 21-year old Bruce Kison came in as relief and pitched 1-hit, scoreless ball for 6 1/3 innings. Milt Kay, another young thoroughbred, knocked a game winning pinch-single in the 7th as the Pirates tied it up with a 4-3 triumph.
The 5th meeting showcased even better pitching by an unlikely candidate named Nelson Briles. The Pirate novice had not seen much action during the regular season with only 14 starts and 4-complete games to his credit. Experience apparently was not a factor though as he silenced all his critics with a brilliant, 2-hit effort that ended in a 4-0 decision that put Pittsburgh in the lead. On the verge of elimination, the Orioles dug in for Game 6 and held the Pirates to a 2-2 tie through 9-innings. Sensing the desperateness of Baltimore's situation, Frank Robinson decided to end the contest himself in the 10th. First the speedy outfielder walked, then he stole 2nd on a Merv Rettenmund grounder up the middle and finally reached home on Brooks Robinson's shallow fly to center field. The "Bird's" were still alive and looking forward to a Game 7, while the "Bucs" were obviously disappointed after failing to finish them off.
Blass returned against Cuellar for the grand finale and neither blinked as Pittsburgh took its final at-bat in the 4th. To no surprise, Roberto Clemente stepped up to the plate and shattered the 0-0 tie with a tape-measure homer over the wall in left-center. Later in the 8th, Clemente's protégé, Willie Stargell crossed home on a Jose Pagan double. Baltimore appeared to position themselves for a comeback, after putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out in the last half of the inning, but only managed an RBI on a Don Buford grounder. After narrowly escaping the previous inning, Blass promised not to give the Orioles another chance. The intention would stand as the Pirate ace sat down all 3 Baltimore batters in a row. With the scoreboard reading 2-1, the Pittsburgh Pirates dethroned the defending world champions for their 4th World Series title. Clemente was undoubtedly voted the "Buccos" MVP and totaled 12-hits in 29 at-bats to finish with a .414 average. Teammate Manny Sanguillen hit .379 and infielder Bob Robertson added 2 homers and 5 RBIs.
Unfortunately the celebration in Pittsburgh would soon turn to mourning as a short 14 months later Clemente was killed in a plane crash. The nationally revered icon was on a humanitarian mission that was taking supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when the aircraft he was flying in went down off the coast of Puerto Rico. The bright black and gold banners that usually adorned the windows and streetcars of Pittsburgh (in honor of all their sports teams) were replaced by black wreaths and the #21 as the entire town remained shocked by the loss of their adopted son. It would take several years for the city's fans to recover although the pain would be numbed by the emerging Steelers dynasty of the mid-late 70's. In retrospect, it seems fitting that Clemente's own protégé, Willie Stargell, would be the one to return the Pirates franchise to their former glory a few short years later.
1972: Cincinnati Reds (3) vs. Oakland Athletics (4)
One of baseball's original dynasties, the Athletics returned to the World Series after an unwanted 41-year sabbatical. By now the franchise (like several others) had settled into sunny California and boasted a "homegrown" line-up of standout players that included Reggie Jackson (who was christened "Mr. October" because of his play in future Fall Classics) as well as a dominant pitching rotation that featured Jim "Catfish" Hunter (21 wins), John "Blue Moon" Odom and a talented left-hander named Ken Holtzman (19 wins). The A's had traveled a "not-so-long" and winding road to the top of the American League after moving to the west coast in 1968. The change of scenery did wonders for the ball club as they managed their first winning record since their Philadelphia days of 1952. The following year they finished 2nd in the AL West (thanks in part to Jackson's 47 homers) and eventually won 101-games and their division in 1971. Their National League opponents, the Reds, were no strangers to postseason play either. After losing the first Series of the decade, Cincinnati evolved into a powerhouse that would grow to become "The Big Red Machine". Things looked in the NL's favor even before the first pitch was thrown due to the absence of Jackson who had gone down with an injury in the final game of the AL playoffs.
Game 1 showcased the "hidden talents" of an unlikely hero named Gene Tenace who had hit a total of 5 homeruns during the regular season. The harmless utility infielder stepped in for the injured Jackson and hammered 2 surprise homers in his first 2 at-bats (a Series record) for all of Oakland's runs. The result was a shocking 3-2 opener that erased any doubts about the A's depth. Joe Rudi followed suite in Game 2 and contributed on both sides of the plate. After hammering a bases-empty home run in the 3rd, the outfielder came up big again with a spectacular game-clinching catch in the 9th. After entering the inning with a 2-0 lead, Oakland stumbled and allowed the Reds to reach base. Denis Menke knocked a long ball to the left-field fence, but Rudi made a wild, backhanded catch to prevent the tie. After getting last-out relief by Rollie Fingers (following an RBI to Hal McRae) "Catfish" Hunter emerged as the 2-1 victor.
Cincinnati's rotation made their presence known as Jack Billingham and Clay Carroll combined to shut out Oakland, 1-0 in Game 3. However, the scales would tip back in the Athletics favor the following day with a last-minute comeback in the bottom of the 9th. After entering their final opportunity down 2-1, the A's Gonzalo Marquez, Tenace, pinch-hitter Don Mincher and Angel Mangual all laced consecutive singles for the 3-2 victory. Game 5 spotlighted Pete Rose, who led-off the outing with a home run and then broke through the 4-4 tie in the 9th with a timely single. Menke also put one "out of the park" in their must-win 5-4 victory that kept the Reds from elimination. Still riding on the momentum of their crucial comeback, Cincinnati took command in Game 6 and ended the "1-run decision streak" that had been the signature for the Series. After Bobby Tolan and Cesar Geronimo ignited a 5-run, 7th, the Reds went on to flatten the A's with an 8-1 triumph. A few days later, Oakland returned to the hostile ground of Riverfront Stadium for Game 7 and used "every tool in the bag" to shut down "the machine" (including a rotation that shifted between Hunter, Holtzman and Fingers in relief of Odom). In the end, it was strength in numbers as the A's captured a 3-2 win and their first Series championship title since 1930.
1973: New York Mets (3) vs. Oakland Athletics (4)
The "amazin' Mets" defied all odds in 1973 and climbed to the top of the National League despite finishing just over the .500 mark. With a less-than-stellar record of 82-79, New York managed to defeat a superior Cincinnati Reds team in a tight, 5-game championship series to earn their 2nd ticket to the Fall Classic since their introduction in 1962. The defending world champion Oakland A's had also defeated "The Big Red Machine" in the previous year's Series and boasted the AL's top line-up with Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Gene Tenace and Deron Johnson. Jim "Catfish" Hunter had just finished another 20-win season with Ken Holtzman and Vida Blue in support.
Mets Manager Yogi Berra continued to test fate by starting Jon Matlack (14-16) for Game 1. It was only the 4th time in World Series history that a losing pitcher had started an opener and many fans questioned the former Yankee's judgment. Although the decision first appeared to be brilliant (as Matlack allowed only 2-unearned runs and 3-hits in 6 innings) reality finally set in and Holtzman cruised to a 2-1 opening victory. The pitcher had even added a 3rd-inning double which was made even more impressive by the fact that AL pitchers didn't bat during the '73 regular season because of the introduction of the new "designated-hitter rule".
Game 2 evolved from a mere baseball game into a marathon of mental and physical endurance as the contest set a record for the longest post-season game in history. Clocking in at 4-hours and 13 minutes, the 12-inning nail-biter witnessed the last hit of Willie Mays' 22-year major-league career, which was finishing up where it started, in New York. After the A's came back from a 6-4 deficit with 2-out in the 9th, New York regained the 7-6 lead in the 12th thanks to May's encore, but after A's Mike Andrews let John Milner's grounder skip through his legs for a 2-run error, the Mets charged forward for the 10-7 victory. The error proved very costly as the 2nd-baseman was deactivated by Charles Finley the following day. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was irritated by the unjust measure and ordered the Oakland owner to reinstate Andrews much to the delight of his teammates. As the political tension between the A's clubhouse and front office subsided, the Series moved to the "Big Apple". Oakland regained the Series lead with a 3-2 win thanks to Bert Campaneris' 11th-inning single. Tom Seaver was outstanding on the mound as well and retired 12-Mets batters in 8-innings.
Right-fielder Rusty Staub stole the spotlight in Game 4 by going 4-for-4 with 5 RBIs and a 3-run homer in the 1st. Matlack also made amends for his opening day loss while allowing 3-hits in 8-innings. The result was a 6-1, Series squaring victory that was sweetened by the return of the ousted Andrews. Unfortunately his career would end in the 8th after grounding out in his last major-league at-bat. Jerry Koosman pulled his team ahead in Game 4 after pitching a 6 1/3 innings shutout for the 2-0 victory. Now 1 game away from their 2nd world championship title, the Mets returned to Oakland determined to finish the job. Seaver and Hunter were chosen to go head-to-head in Game 6 as the "Catfish" held on to a narrow 2-0 lead after 7-innings. Reggie Jackson (who had missed the previous Series due to an injury) showed why he would become "Mr. October" and scored the A's final run in the 8th for the 3-1 win.
A rejuvenated Oakland team came out swinging in Game 7 as the A's got 2-run shots from both Campaneris and Jackson in the 3rd-inning. Series workhorse Ken Holtzman supported the home team's efforts with help from Rollie Fingers and Darold Knowles. In the end, it was a 5-2 victory and a 2nd consecutive championship crown for the defending American Leaguers. Despite the back-to-back triumph, Dick Williams remained bitter about his administrations interference (in regards to Andrews) and resigned as the A's manager shortly after the season concluded.
1974: Los Angeles Dodgers (1) vs. Oakland Athletics (4)
The Oakland A's had emerged as one of baseball premiere dynasties in the 1970's but friction between the front office and the clubhouse threatened to tear the 2x defending world champions apart. Jim (Catfish) Hunter had openly stated his desire to declare himself a free-agent unless owner Charles Finley paid him a back salary that the 4-time 20-game winner felt owed to him. Mike Andrews also announced that he was filing a libel-and-slander suit against Finley for his unjust "firing" after a costly error in the '73 Series. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had ordered the Oakland owner to reinstate the player, but the damage had already been done. To make matters worse, teammates Rollie Fingers and John "Blue Moon" Odom had been involved in a pre-Series fistfight that destroyed any camaraderie in the bullpen. Despite the political overtones, Oakland maintained its hold on the American League and prepared to meet the NL champion LA Dodgers in the first "all-West Coast Classic".
Reggie Jackson continued to earn his stripes as "Mr. October" and hammered the first homer of the Series off of Andy Messersmith at Dodger Stadium. Ken Holtzman added a 2-base hit of his own in the 5th and eventually scored on Bert Campaneris' squeeze bunt. After a devastating throwing error on Ron Cey's part in the 8th, Oakland finished the opener with a 3-2 victory. Rollie Fingers, who had been a clutch-closer in the previous Classic, continued to deliver in relief of Holtzman and yielded only 4 hits. However, Walter Alston's Dodgers came back in Game 2 for a 3-2 triumph on Joe Ferguson's 2-run homer in the 6th. The ever-resilient A's threatened to comeback in the 9th, but Los Angeles reliever Mike Marshall picked off Herb Washington at a time when Oakland's "designated runner" represented his club's potential tying run.
Hunter returned for Game 3 and stretched his Series record to 4-0 with close support from Fingers. After Oakland notched 2-unearned runs in the 3rd, the "Catfish" and "Mustache" cruised to a 4-0, Series-leading victory. Holtzman, who had defied the odds at the plate, maintained his consecutive Series hitting streak with a bases-empty homer off of his adversary (Messersmith) in the 3rd. Even more impressive was the fact that the "designated-hitter rule" had just been introduced during the regular season in '73 and the Oakland ace had made very few appearances in the batter's box. (2-years later the substitution rule would be inducted into post-season play.) The Dodgers answered back with Bill Russell's 2-run triple in the 4th, but rookie manager Alvin Dark's A's went on a 4-run "killing spree" in the 6th, as pinch-hitter Jim Holt broke through the 2-2 deadlock with a 2-run single. The result was a 5-2 victory that put the American Leaguers 1-win away from their 3rd consecutive title.
LA threw everything they had at the Athletics in Game 5 and managed to hold on for a 2-2 tie entering the bottom of the 7th. Mike Marshall (a 15-game winner who had just finished a record-breaking season in which he made 106 appearances) was sent in to close the deal, but surrendered a devastating home run to Joe Rudi. Bill Buckner attempted to get his team back on track with a valiant effort that unfortunately backfired (it was a sign of what was to come). After leading off the 8th with a single, a desperate Buckner tried to stretch the bases on a Bill North error. However, a textbook relay from Jackson-to-Dick Green-to-Sal Bando nailed the daring base runner just short of 3rd and it was all over from there. The A's emerged 3-2 victors with a "back-to-back-to-back" title that reinstated their place among baseball's elite.
1975: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. Boston Red Sox (3)
Sparky Anderson's "Big Red Machine" had once again dominated the National League, leaving no doubt that their 35-year drought was nearing an end. After steamrolling over the NL West with a 20-game lead, the Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Championship Series and won a ticket to their 7th Fall Classic. The Boston Red Sox had shocked the American League after ending the defending champion Oakland's A's 3-year reign with a sweep of their own. Game 1 featured a brilliant debut by Luis Tiant, who had led the Sox rotation during the regular season. The right-handed ace opened the tournament with a 6-0 victory and Boston looked to repeat the effort early on in Game 2. As Cincinnati entered the 9th, they were down 2-1 and running out of chances. However, as the old saying goes "it ain't over till it's over" and Dave Concepcion proved it with a 2-out, game-tying single in the 9th. After stealing 2nd, Concepcion scored on a 3-2 game-winning double by Ken Griffey which squared the Series at a game apiece.
The Reds mounted a 5-1 lead in the 3rd Game thanks to homers from Johnny Bench, Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo, but the Sox were able to tie it up with Fred Lynn's sacrifice fly in the 6th, Bernie Carbo's pinch homer in the 7th and Dwight Evans' 2-run homer in the 9th. Geronimo continued the rally with a single in the bottom of the 10th and then it happened. Once again, controversy erupted at the plate involving umpire Ken Burkhart, who was responsible for the 1970 debacle involving a "bad tag" call on the Reds' Bernie Carbo. This time however, the ruling would go in Cincinnati's favor, after pinch-hitter Ed Armbrister attempted to sacrifice in the tenth. The bouncing ball landed a few feet from home and as Boston catcher Carlton Fisk sprinted forward to retrieve it, he nearly collided with the batter who was blocking his way. Fisk managed to get to the ball, but made a wild throw past 2nd moving Geronimo to 3rd and allowing Armbrister to reach 2nd. Despite their arguments for an interference call from umpire Larry Barnett, the play stood and the Reds went on to win 6-5 on a Joe Morgan drive into deep center field. Tiant returned for his second start in Game 4 and evened it up with a 5-4 performance, but Cincinnati regained the advantage after Tony Perez (who was 0-for-15 so far) nailed Reggie Cleveland for a bases-empty homer as well as another 3-run shot. Don Gullett and Rawly Eastwick finished the job for a combined, 6-2 outing on the mound.
As the Series shifted back to Boston, it ran into a drenching New England rain that postponed the contest for an excruciating 72-hours. Despite the setback, Game 6 proved worth waiting for and has been heralded as one of the greatest games ever. Boston charged to an early 3-0 lead in the 1st when Lynn sent one into the right field seats at Fenway scoring Carl Yastrzemski and Fisk. The blast came as no surprise to Red Sox fans as the rookie had knocked 21 during the regular season while batting .331 with 105 RBIs. Tiant held the Reds for a tense 4-innings, but Griffey's 2-run triple and Bench's run-scoring single evened it up in the 5th. George Foster followed suite adding a 2-run double of his own in the 7th and Geronimo finished the rally with a lead-off blast over the wall in the 8th. Now up 6-3, "The Big Red Machine" shifted into high-gear and was 6-outs away from a World Series title. Pedro Borbon, Cincinnati's 5th pitcher started his 3rd-inning by surrendering a single to Lynn and a walk to Rico Petrocelli in the bottom of the 8th. Anticipating a disaster, Anderson called for Eastwick as Dwight Evans stepped up to the plate for the potential tying-run. The Reds' reliever came up big striking out Evans and getting Rick Burleson on a liner to shallow left, but Bernie Carbo stepped in for reliever Roger Moret and became only the 2nd man in World Series history to hit 2 pinch-homers. After Dick Drago sat down Cinci's line-up 1-2-3 to start the 9th, Boston went to work extending the Series.
First, Denny Doyle forced an opening walk. Then Yastrzemski singled him to 3rd as Will McEnaney came in to replace Eastwick. After intentionally walking Fisk to load the bases, Lynn fouled out and Doyle was caught at the plate trying to score. Finally Rico Petrocelli grounded out and the opportunity was gone. With 1 out in the 11th, Griffey was on with Joe Morgan at the plate. The All-Star infielder nailed a long drive toward the right-field seats, but Evans made a spectacular, one-handed catch and caught the Reds' base runner off of first. As the Sox took their turn, Pat Darcy (a record tying 8th pitcher) retired his side for the 2nd consecutive inning. Rick Wise (a 19-game winner) entered the 12th as both bullpens continued to empty. Boston's top winner found himself in a 2-on situation with 1 out, but managed to get Concepcion on a fly ball and Geronimo on a strikeout. Both teams were starting to show fatigue as Fisk and Darcy squared off in the bottom of the inning for another one of baseball's most photographic moments. After launching a rocket toward left-field, Fisk started to run toward 1st, but stuttered as the ball appeared to be heading foul. The Boston catcher jumped up-and-down waving his arms fair as if to "will" the ball. As it came down it glanced fair off of the foul pole for the 7-6 game-winner.
Game 7 appeared to have left off right where Game 6 had as Boston seized a 3-0 lead in the 3rd- inning. However the Reds were determined as well and nabbed a 2-run homer in the 6th off of lefthander Bill Lee. Pete Rose tied the game 3-all off a Tony Perez single and the deadlock would last until the 9th. Griffey led off with a walk and managed to reach 3rd on a sacrifice and a groundout. Jim Burton intentionally walked Rose, but Morgan knocked a clutch single up the middle for the 4-3 lead. Will McEnaney made the lead stand up with a 1-2-3, 9th and the Reds emerged as World Champions (with-or-without) a little help from "The Babe".
1976: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)
1976 witnessed the return of baseball's most successful postseason-dynasty to the Fall Classic. After a 12 year hiatus, the New York Yankees had rebuilt themselves back into the American League champions of old. After the team was purchased by a cunning-businessman named George Steinbrenner (in 1972) they filled several gaps with some shrewd trading and finished in 3rd during the '75 season. This year, former "Bronx Bomber" Billy Martin was at the helm and his crew consisted of several standouts including Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle and Jim "Catfish" Hunter (who had made good on his threat to Oakland). It seemed fitting that the perennial champions were to face the defending champions as the Cincinnati Reds returned for their 2nd consecutive Classic. Manager Sparky Anderson may not have had a ship, but he did have "The Big Red Machine" and it ran on cylinders like Tony Perez at 1st, Joe Morgan at 2nd, Pete Rose at 3rd, Dave Concepcion at shortstop and George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey on the grass. They also boasted one of the best pitching rotations in all of major-league baseball. Gary Nolan led the pitching staff with 15 victories, Pat Darcy won 14, and Fred Norman and Jack Billingham each won 12 games. Their bullpen was just as good with Don Gullett, Santo Alcala and Rawly Eastwick who each tallied 11 victories for a combined 33-12 record. The Reds had also remained one of the most consistent ball clubs in the league winning 108 games in '75, 98 in '74 and 99 in '73.
Cincinnati hosted the Series opener at Riverfront Stadium and showed their hometown fans who was in charge. Morgon launched a 1st-inning homer, Perez added 3-hits of his own and Gullett and reliever Pedro Borbon combined on a 5-hitter for the 5-1 victory. Game 2 looked much the same as Perez snuck a 2-out single in the 9th to score Griffey for the 4-3 win. Hunter had retired the Reds' first two batters, but New York shortstop Fred Stanley's throwing error on Griffey's roller put the NL champs back in business. The Yankees may have been back as well, but the dust and cobwebs were certainly showing. As the Series returned to the "not-so familiar" surroundings of Yankee Stadium (due to the 2-year long modernizing process that had sent the Yanks to Shea from '74-'76) the Reds continued to dominate the home team. Perhaps "The Babe" was displeased with his new décor as the "Big Red Machine" became the "Bronx Bombers" for a day. With the AL's designated-hitter rule being used in the Series for the first time, Dan Driessen cracked a homer and went 3-for-3 while helping the Reds to a 3rd, 6-2 victory. On the other side, shortstop Jim Mason managed the only homer for the Yankees (in his only career at-bat ever in a Series).
Now on the verge of elimination, New York was determined to extend the contest, but the visiting team had a different idea. After blasting them for 2 and 3-run homers, the defending champions cruised to another title with a 7-2 sweeping triumph. Yankees fans were devastated (after all, losing in the Bronx was unacceptable) but Steinbrenner wasn't done yet and they would have their dynasty back, eventually. Cincinnati became the first National League team to win back-to-back crowns since the New York Giants had in '21 and '22. 7 of their hitters batted above .300, led by Bench's .533 and Foster's .429. Amazingly, Anderson did not make a single change during the entire Series among his 9 regulars, forsaking the use of a pinch-hitter or a pinch-runner and never making a switch in either his batting order or fielding alignment. On the mound, his rotation boasted a combined 2.00 earned-run average and the franchise's 2-year totals consisted of 210 regular-season victories, a 6-0 record in Championship Series play, and 2 consecutive World Series triumphs. The mistaken fans at Yankees Stadium had witnessed the play of a dynasty, unfortunately though, they weren't wearing pinstripes.
1977: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After an embarrassing sweep by baseball's newest dynasty, the Cincinnati Reds, the AL champion New York Yankees returned to the Fall Classic determined to make amends for the previous year's disappointing finale. The bruised egos and mounting stress had taken its toll on the Yankees organization during the regular season as Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson erupted into a huge argument at Boston's Fenway Park for what the manager termed as "lack of hustle". The fight that followed in the dugout was caught on national-television cameras broadcasting the Saturday afternoon game and both men were blasted in the papers. Both managed to settle their differences, but the damage to their reputations had already been done. The LA Dodgers, guided by rookie Manager Tommy Lasorda, dethroned the defending champion Reds in the NL West and steamrolled over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Championship Series. Like the Yankees, Los Angeles featured a potent line-up that included Steve Garvey (33 homers), Reggie Smith (32), Ron Cey (30) and Dusty Baker (30) who set the record as the first ballclub to boast 4 players who hit 30+ homers in the same season.
As the West Coast and East Coast remained locked in a bitter 3-3 tie going into the 12th-inning of Game 1, Paul Blair checkmated the Dodgers with a clutch single that scored Willie Randolph for the opening victory. LA had revenge the following day after Cey, Smith and Steve Yeager all cracked early-inning homers off "Catfish" Hunter. Burt Hooton faired much better on the mound and tossed a 5-hitter that evened the Series with a 6-1 triumph. However, New York would jump ahead to a 3-game lead as the "Pinstripes" bested Tommy John for a 5-3 decision in the 3rd outing and lefthander Ron Guidry added a 4-2 win in the 4th.
Game 5 was certainly the most memorable in the '77 Series thanks a spectacular performance at the plate by Reggie Jackson. The Yankees newest "Bomber" was making his 18th appearance and it proved to be his greatest as he became only the 2nd player in history to smash 3 home runs in a single Series game (Babe Ruth '26 and '28). In addition, the 5 homers in one Series and 4 consecutive blasts over a 2 Series-game period was unprecedented. As Thurman Munson stood on 1st, Jackson nailed Hooton on his first pitch sending the Yanks ahead with a 4-3 lead. Later in the 5th with 2 outs and Willie Randolph on 1st, Reggie launched another rocket off of Elias Sosa that landed in the right-field seats. Finally, he electrified the home team crowd of 56,407 by leading off the 8th with the historic blast into the center-field bleachers. "Mr. October" indeed. Riding on the 5 RBIs of their slugging champion, the Yanks showed a glimpse of what was "Yankee baseball" and held on for the 8-4 victory that earned their 21st World Series title. It was the first crown for the "Bronx Bombers" since 1962.
Jackson's MVP performance against the Dodgers tallied a staggering .450 average with 5 home runs and 8 RBIs. His offense was the key to the Yankees win as their rotation (minus Torrez who finished 2-0, 2.50 ERA) lacked "the hustle" that Martin liked. Don Gullett and Hunter both went 0-1 and allowed a combined 14 earned-runs in 17 innings.
1978: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
As the World Series celebrated its 75th Anniversary, two teams that shared many chapters in its story met for a classic rematch of East vs. West. The defending champion New York Yankees had struggled for several years on the way to recapturing their 21st crown while the Los Angeles Dodgers were still stinging from the previous year's defeat. Both teams boasted strong pitching staffs, top-notch sluggers and several All-Stars in their line-ups. Many experts had predicted a close, 7-game Series that would be decided in the closing minutes, but things did not appear that way in Game 1. LA's Davey Lopez drove in 5 runs on 2 homers and Dusty Baker added his own against 20-game winner Ed Figueroa and the entire New York bullpen. Tommy John got the first Series victory of his career after tossing shutout ball for 6-innings in the 11-5 opener. The only encouraging performance from the Yanks was the familiar play of "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson, who picked up right where he had left off in '77 with a homerun and 2 singles.
Little changed the following day as the Dodger Stadium crowd was treated to it's 2nd win in a row thanks to Ron Cey, who knocked in all of LA's runs with a single in the 4th and a 3-run homer in the 6th. Rookie pitcher Bob Welch saved the 4-3 game in the 9th after Jackson took the plate with 2 men on base. As the count went to 3-2, Reggie, who had fouled off 3 2-strike pitches swung mightily at Welch's fastball and missed. Now up 2-games-to-none, the National Leaguers were thinking sweep as the contest shifted to Yankee Stadium. Game 3 promised to be a pitchers duel as both team's brought out their "big guns". Don Sutton (a 15-game winner) started for the Dodgers against Ron Guidy (25-3, 1.74 ERA, 9 shutouts) and both aces struggled despite their spectacular stats. Guidry allowed 7 walks and 8-hits while Sutton surrendered 5 runs and 9-hits in 6 1/3 innings. Roy White started the Yankees rolling with a 1st-inning homer, but Graig Nettles was the star with outstanding play in the field. With 2 out and 1 on base in the 3rd, Nettles stopped the Dodgers by throwing out Reggie Smith after making a diving stop of his bullet down the 3rd-base line. In the 5th, with base runners on 1st and 2nd and 2 out, he snagged another line-drive by Smith over the bag and held the power hitter to an infield single. On the next play, with the bases loaded, he nabbed a hard grounder by Steve Garvey and forced Smith out at 2nd. Finally in the 6th, he finished them off with another brilliant stop on a 2-out, bases-loaded shot down the line while getting another force at 2nd. In the end, LA couldn't beat the infielder and his team walked away with a 5-1 triumph.
Game 4 featured another controversial call that was becoming the norm in modern baseball. Tommy John entered the 6th protecting a 3-0 lead (thanks to Smith's 5th-inning homer), but a series of events turned the tide of the game and inevitably the Series. After White led off with a single, Thurmon Munson walked and Jackson followed with a run-scoring base hit. Lou Piniella came up next and knocked a sinking liner toward Bill Russell. As the Dodgers shortstop went to play the ball it glanced off of his glove and fell to the ground. Munson, who had hesitated in case the ball had been caught, took off for 3rd, but Russell went to 2nd attempting to catch Jackson and complete a double-play at 1st. Sensing this, the Yankee stopped midway down the base path and, with Russell's throw in flight, turned toward first baseman Steve Garvey colliding with the ball. Munson scored the Yank's 2nd run, but the Dodgers argued (to no avail) that Jackson had intentionally interfered.
New York went on to tie it up in the 8th, after Blair rounded the bases on a single, sacrifice and double by his fellow teammates. After Goose Gossage (27 saves, 2.01 ERA) retired Los Angeles (in order) in the top of the 10th, the Yankees struck for the game-winning run in the last half of the inning after Piniella scored White for the 4-3 victory. Bob Lemon, who had replaced Billy Martin in July, started Jim Beattie in Game 5 and the rookie benefited from the "Bronx Bombers" at their finest. Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers and Brian Doyle all collected 3-hits and Munson drove in 5 runs for an 18-hit, 12-2 romping that put the Yankees 1 game away from their 22nd championship.
Hunter was given the call for Game 6 and, with 2 innings of relief help from Gossage, the two emerged 7-2 winners and world champions. Dent and Doyle both repeated their 3-hit efforts with the shortstop's 3-run homer proving the deciding factor while Jackson topped it off with a 7th-inning homer off of Welch, who had fanned him in Game 2. In addition to their first back-to-back championships since '61-'62, the Yanks set another postseason record as the only title winner ever to trail before winning 6 straight.
1979: Pittsburgh Pirates (4) vs. Baltimore Orioles (3)
As the 1970's came to a close, "Pops" and his "Family" reunited for the Fall Classic and brought fun back to baseball. Willie Stargell had labored long and hard throughout the decade trying to restore a sense of enjoyment and pride that had been missing in the Pittsburgh clubhouse since the untimely death on Roberto Clemente in 1972. The fun-loving, captain/1st baseman had built a close relationship with his fellow teammates and the new "Bucco" philosophy was noticeable both on and off the field. Stargell had taken a few pointers from college football coaches (who were known as great motivators) and instituted his "Gold Star" program that awarded players with a prestigious star on their hats after a particularly good outing. At the time, the Pirates wore "Cuban-style" caps with gold bans around them and the players raced each other on the field and at the plate to see who could fill up more rows. It was a simple, almost child-like incentive, but it seemed to work as Pittsburgh captured the NL East Championship on the final day of the season.
Stargell had certainly owned his own stars as the 38 year-old veteran slugged 32 homers for "Family" patron and manager Chuck Tanner and almost single-handedly swept the Reds in the NL Series with a .455 average (2 homers, 6 RBIs). In a classic re-match of the '71 Classic, Pittsburgh and Baltimore found themselves facing each other for baseball's most prestigious title. The Orioles came out strong in Game 1 with 5 runs in the 1st-inning including a 2-run blast courtesy of Doug DeCinces. Pitcher Mike Flanagan made the numbers stand despite the best efforts of the "Bucco's" line-up. Phil Garner and Stargell (a 2-time NL home-run champion with 461 total) each collecting 2 RBIs and "The Cobra" Dave Parker finishing with 4 hits. "Pops" accounted for the game's final run with a clutch 8th-inning homer, but the "Blackbirds" held on for a 5-4 opening victory. Longtime teammate Manny Sanguillen gave Stargell and the Pirates a lift in Game 2, delivering a 9th-inning single that broke a 2-2 tie and enabled Pittsburgh to beat ace reliever Don Stanhouse. As the Series moved on to the "Steel City", home field advantage proved not to be a factor. As both teams took the field at Three Rivers Stadium, Baltimore's Kiko Garcia embarrassed the Pirates rotation in front of the home crowd. The shortstop tallied 2 singles, a double and a triple for a total of 4 RBIs. Teammate Benny Ayala shined as well and hammered a 2-run homer deep into the cheap seats as the visiting AL champions prevailed, 8-4.
Game 4 first appeared to put the Pirate's ship back on course, but pinch-hitters John Lowenstein and Terry Crowley both knocked 2-run doubles in the 8th for a miraculous 9-6 comeback. Now down 3-games-to-one, Stargell had to rally his fellow players as they prepared to go against the 1-0 Flanagan in Game 5. Newly adopted "Family" members Bill Madlock and Tim Foli both stepped up as the 3rd baseman went 4-for-4 and the former Mets shortstop drove in 3-runs for a 7-1 Baltimore setback. Bert Blyleven, arguably the greatest curveball thrower in the league, worked 4 scoreless innings of relief to seal the deal. Jim Rooker, who had won only 4 games during the regular season, was given the controversial start for Game 5 and performed beautifully with an unfamiliar 3-hitter over 5-innings. On the heels of Rooker's turnaround outing, "The Candy Man" became the obvious choice for Game 6. Despite his modest victory total (10th on Pittsburgh's rotation) John Candelaria combined with side-armed reliever Kent Tekulve to hold the Orioles to 7 meaningless hits for a 4-0 shutout. All 3 pitchers had risen to the occasion and evened the contest while earning their strips and their "stars".
Pittsburgh's Jim Bibby and Baltimore's Scott McGregor went head-to-head for the grand finale that would crown the last world champion of the 1970's. Rich Dauer was the first to score with a 3-inning homer and the numbers remained unchanged until the 6th. After striking out Parker, McGregor surrendered a single to Bill Robinson and Stargell brought them home with a spectacular "tape-measure" homer over the right-field fence. After going through 5 Oriole pitchers for 2 more runs in the 9th the Pirates cruised to a 4-1 victory and another World Series title. Pittsburgh became the 4th team in history to comeback from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 Classic and their final statistics told the tale. The "Family's" pitching staff had held the Orioles to an embarrassing 2-runs in the final 28 innings of the contest. 5 Pirates totaled 10 or more hits with Garner (who finished with a .500 average) and Stargell getting 12 each, Omar Moreno (11) and Parker and Foli (10). It was no surprise to Pittsburgh fans that "Pops" had led the way with a .400 average, 3 home runs and 7 RBIs. A few months later, the equally dominant Pittsburgh Steelers went on to win another Superbowl crowning Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as "The City of Champions". As a result, Stargell and quarterback Terry Bradshaw were both selected as the first "duel" Sportsmen of the Year in the Sports Illustrated annual.
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