Sully Baseball’s obsession with the last pitch of the World Series continues.
Throwing the clinching pitch of the World Series would be the career highlight for anyone’s career. But how many World Series were ended by an All Time Great pitcher?
So today’s obsessive list is Hall of Famers who threw the clinching pitch of the World Series.
Now let me set the one ground rule: They have to be in the Hall of Fame RIGHT NOW.
Yes I know Mariano Rivera will be a Hall of Famer eventually, but the key word is “eventually.” And if I am still writing this blog 6 years after he retires, I promise to update this list.
Same goes if Jonathan Papelbon, Bobby Jenks, Josh Beckett, Adam Wainwright or Brad Lidge wind up having Hall of Fame careers.
So here we go… another list.
Some were complete game masterpieces by aces.
Some were slam the door 9th by closers.
And you’ll even see a legendary starter come out of the pen for one of the great moments in World Series History.
CURRENT HALL OF FAME PITCHERS WHO CLINCHED A WORLD SERIES
CHRISTY MATHEWSON, New York Giants – 1905 World Series
Matty threw a complete game 5 hit shutout with no walks to out pitch Chief Bender and beat the Philadelphia Athletics 2-0 in the Polo Grounds and win the World Series 4-1.
He got Athletics third baseman Lave Cross to ground out to third to end the game.
MORDECAI “THREE FINGER” BROWN, Chicago Cubs – 1907 World Series
“Three Finger” outpitched George Mullin with a complete game 7 hit shutout to finish off the Tigers in Detroit 2-0 and win the Series 4-0 with 1 tie.
Brown struck out Ty Cobb to lead off the 9th and with a runner on first and 2 outs, pinch hitter Boss Schmidt popped up to future Hall of Famer Joe Tinker to give the World Series to the Cubs. (That looks strange even typing it!)
CHIEF BENDER, Philadelphia Athletics – 1911 World Series
Bender took the hill for the 6th game after the Giants held off elimination in Game 5. The Giants scored in the first when right fielder Danny Murphy dropped Red Murray’s pop fly.
It was a short lived lead. The Athletics scored three runs on a Jack Barry bunt. Giants catcher Chief Meyers threw the ball into right field, allowing two runs to score. Then right fielder Red Murray threw the ball away allowing Barry to score on his own bunt play. That broke the Giants back and the Athletics cruised to a 13-2 win.
In the 9th, Art Wilson grounded out to third base and Bender and company won the World Series.
EDDIE PLANK, Philadelphia Athletics – 1913 World Series
It was Athletics-Giants again two years later and the Athletics prevailed again, this time in 5 games on the road in the Polo Grounds.
Future Hall of Famer Eddie Plank out pitched Christy Mathewson 3-1 with a complete game 2 hitter.
Giants second baeman Laughing Larry Doyle flew out to right fielder Honest Eddie Murphy (not the actor) to end the Series.
Man nicknames were cooler then!!!
RED FABER, Chicago White Sox – 1917 World Series
The White Sox took care of the Giants in 6 games… AGAIN winning in front of a disappointed crowd in the Polo Grounds. Faber won his third game of the series with a complete game 6 hitter.
Pinch hitter Lew McCarty grounded out to Eddie Collins who threw to Chick Gandil for the World Series clinching run.
2 years later Gandil would be one of the White Sox who conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. Surely an ace pitcher like Red Faber would have been included with the 8 Men Out… but he had the flu and was left off of the playoff roster.
If he was healthy, he may have gone along with the conspiracy. Instead he was ill, innocent and unlike Shoeless Joe Jackson, is in the Hall of Fame.
STAN COVELESKI, Cleveland Indians – 1920 World Series
The Indians won the first of their two World Series titles behind Stan Coveleski’s 3 wins in the 5-2 series win over the Brooklyn Robins. (It was best of 9 from 1919-1921.)
Brooklyn only put two runners in scoring position and Coveleski scattered 5 hits and walked nobody.
Big Ed Konetchy grounded out to short to clinch the only World Series the Indians have ever won at home.
GROVER CLEVELAND ALEXANDER, St. Louis Cardinals – 1926 World Series
It remains one of the greatest and most dramatic relief pitcher performances in baseball history. Just 1 day after throwing a complete game victory in Game 6, Grover Cleveland Alexander was hungover in the bullpen while future Hall of Famer Jesse Haines fell into trouble against the heavily favored Yankees.
Up by 1 in the 7th inning, Haines loaded the bases with 2 out and Tony Lazzeri was due up. Cleveland was summoned out of the bullpen and struck out Lazzeri. After a 1-2-3 8th inning, Old Pete walked Babe Ruth with two outs.
Slugger Bob Meusel was at the plate representing the World Series winning run, but Babe Ruth inexplicably tried to steal second. He was caught and Alexander got the dramatic save and the Cardinals won their first ever World Series title.
WAITE HOYT, New York Yankees – 1928 World Series
Revenge for the Yankees against the Cardinals and Grover Cleveland Alexander came two seasons later. The Yankees pounded Alexander as a starter in Game 2 and as a reliever in Game 4 as they swept their second straight World Series.
Hoyt went the distance in the 7-3 win in St. Louis, a game that saw Babe Ruth homer three times.
Frankie Frisch flew out to Ruth to clinch it.
HERB PENNOCK, New York Yankees – 1932 World Series
The ace of the original Yankee World Champion was slowing down in 1932… but he still had enough in the tank to become a solid piece of the bullpen during the Yankees 4 game sweep of the Cubs. He saved Game 3, the game where Babe Ruth supposedly called his shot.
In Game 4, the Cubs tied the score in the 6th off of Wilcy Moore. The Yankees scored 4 in the 7th to take the lead for good.
In the 9th, Pennock got Riggs “Old Hoss” Stephenson to fly out to Yankee right fielder Ben Chapman to finish the series… the last one Babe Ruth would ever play in.
DIZZY DEAN, St. Louis Cardinals – 1934 World Series
The 1934 World Series was a knock down drag out fight until Game 7. Then it became the Dizzy Dean show as he threw a complete game victory in Detroit and the Cardinals wiped out the Tigers 11-0. Even Dean went 2-5 with a double and an RBI single.
In the 9th inning, Dean got Marv Owen to ground out to Leo Durocher who flipped to Frankie Frisch for the force out at second, clinching the World Series.
LEFTY GOMEZ, New York Yankees – 1937 World Series
Gomez threw a complete game victory in the Polo Grounds as the Yankees took out the Giants in 5 games. Gomez himself drove in the go ahead run in the 5th inning and the Lou Gehrig added an insurance run.
In the 9th inning, The Gause Ghost, Jo-Jo Moore, grounded to Gehrig and flipped to Gomez covering first base to finish off the series.
RED RUFFING, New York Yankees – 1938 World Series
The Yankees won their third straight World Series with a sweep against the Cubs. The finale in Yankee Stadium saw Red Ruffing go the distance in an 8-3 game that was a lot closer than the score would indicate.
A 2 run shot by Cubs catcher Ken O’Dea pulled the Cubs to within 1 in the 8th inning. But the Yankees unloaded on the Cubs bullpen, scoring 4 in the 8th.
Future Hall of Famer Billy Herman hit a grounder back to the mound with 2 outs in the 9th. Ruffing tossed to Gehrig for the final out of the Series. It would be Gehrig’s last World Series.
HAL NEWHOUSER, Detroit Tigers – 1945 World Series.
After the Cubs forced a seventh game with a dramatic extra inning Game 6 victory, the Tigers turned to Newhouser, who was bombed in game 1 and won Game 5. Detroit scored 5 runs in the top of the first and it was all Newhouser would need.
Don Johnson grounded to shortstop Skeeter Webb who tossed it to Eddie Mayo at second to clinch the World Series.
To date, it was the last World Series appearance by the Cubs.
SANDY KOUFAX, Los Angeles Dodgers – 1963 World Series and 1965 World Series
Sandy Koufax made his transformation from very good pitcher with control issues to one of the greatest of all time with his World Series dominance in the 1960s. In Game 1 of the World Series, he shut down the mighty Yankees letting up only a home run to Tom Tresh, striking out 15 in the process.
He topped that in the Game 4 clincher in Los Angeles against Whitey Ford. Mickey Mantle hit a solo shot off of Koufax in the 7th but that was it as Koufax let up only 6 hits and walked none over 9.
With two outs and two on in the 9th, Koufax got Hector Lopez to ground out to Maury Wills who threw to former Yankee Moose Skowron to end the Series. (A movie note… this was the series that R. P. McMurphy wanted to watch with the boys in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.)
Two years later, Koufax took the ball on 2 days rest (!!) and threw a complete game shutout against a hard hitting Twins team that scored 5 or more runs in their previous three home games.
Koufax faced Bob Allison representing the tying run with two outs in the 9th. Instead of turning to Don Drysdale or Ron Perranoski, Walter Alston stuck with Koufax, who struck out Allison to clinch the World Series.
BOB GIBSON, St. Louis Cardinals – 1964 World Series and 1967 World Series
Gibson and the Cardinals locked horns with the Yankees, who won the last pennant of their great run. Gibson looked like he was going to cruise to a Game 7 victory with a 6-0 lead until Mickey Mantle hit a three run homer in the sixth. Gibson limped into the 9th with a 7-3 lead but let up homers to Clete Boyer and Phil Linz to cut the lead to two.
With two outs, Bobby Richardson popped up to second baseman Dal Maxvill to end the series and the Yankee dynasty.
Three years later, Gibson came back from a broken leg to shut down the Red Sox and their Impossible Dream pennant of 1967. With the series tied at 3 in Fenway Park, Gibson not only threw his third complete game victory of the Series, but homered off of Boston ace Jim Lonborg for good measure.
With two outs and nobody on, Gibson struck out George Scott to end the World Series and the Red Sox hopes.
ROLLIE FINGERS, Oakland A’s – 1972 World Series and 1974 World Series
The most dominating bullpen force of the 1970s clinched his first World Series in a back and forth game between the Swinging A’s and the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati. One future Hall of Famer, Catfish Hunter, came out of the pen in the fifth to relieve Blue Moon Odom.
In the 8th, Fingers came into a 3-1 game with runners on second and third and nobody out. He made it out of the inning with a 3-2 lead. In the 9th, Fingers had two outs and one on and faced Pete Rose. A home run would give the World Series to the Reds. Instead Fingers got Rose to fly out to Joe Rudi and the Bay Area had its first World Series Champion.
Two years later, the A’s were on the verge of their third straight title. Fingers came into the 8th inning of Game 5 against the Dodgers with a 3-2 lead and made it to the 9th with the lead intact, thanks in part to a base running mistake by Bill Buckner. With two outs and nobody on in the 9th, Fingers got pinch hitter Von Joshua to hit back to the mound. Fingers flipped the ball to Gene Tenace at first to clinch the A’s third straight series. Fingers was elected MVP for the Series.
GOOSE GOSSAGE, New York Yankees – 1978 World Series
Gossage finished off the Yankees amazing comeback 1978 season with a two inning save in Dodger Stadium to clinch a second straight title for New York. (Of course Gossage wasn’t part of the 1977 squad… he was brought in to be the new closer because evidently Sparky Lyle’s Cy Young Award winning season wasn’t good enough.)
Gossage relieved Catfish Hunter with 1 on and nobody out in the 8th. He enduced a double play by Bill Russell to get out of the small jam.
In the bottom of the 9th, Gossage got two quick outs before getting Ron Cey to hit a foul pop to Thurman Munson to end the World Series.
BRUCE SUTTER, St. Louis Cardinals – 1982 World Series
The former Cy Young Award winner for the Cubs found a new home in St. Louis, grew a cool beard and found himself on a pennant winner. In a wild back and forth series with the Brewers, Milwaukee had the lead in the 7th game. But without Rollie Fingers, the Brew Crew couldn’t hold onto the lead.
Meanwhile the Cardinals had THEIR Hall of Fame closer healthy. Protecting a 1 run lead, he retired two future Hall of Famers in Paul Molitor and Robin Yount and All Star Cecil Cooper. With some insurance in the 9th, Sutter got two quick outs before striking out Gorman Thomas to clinch his lone World Series title.
DENNIS ECKERSLEY, Oakland A’s – 1989 World Series
A year removed from their shocking loss to the Dodgers (and Eckersley serving up Kirk Gibson’s homer) the A’s and Eck seemed poised to finish off their opponents in 1989. The Loma Prieta Earthquake postponed Game 3 for a week, but when play resumed, the A’s were unstoppable.
The Giants fell behind 8-0 in Game 4 but fought back to make it a 2 run game. Eckersley came into the 9th with a 3 run lead and got two quick outs. He got speedy Brett Butler to ground to Tony Phillips and covered first himself to put the “Bay Bridge Series” out of its misery.
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