As this year’s edition of the World Series gets underway, The ESPN Classic Network rebroadcast some of the Fall Classic’s best from years gone by. It got me to reminisce about some of my favorite World Series memories.
St Louis manager Tony LaRussa and Texas manager Ron Washington are preparing their respective teams for game one scheduled for Wednesday at 8:30pm. I know they are only concerned about the present, with past Series the furthest thing from their mind.
I know some old timers still marvel at Don Larson’s no hitter, while others of that generation get teary-eyed talking about the then Brooklyn Dodgers’ victory over the New York Yankees in 1955. We can also throw in the 1969 Amazin’ Mets and their improbable run. Even the Boston Red Sox have sweet dreams regarding their first World Series victory since 1918 back in 2004. Perhaps the sight of Kirk Gibson pumping his fist after belting his game winning home run in the 1988 Classic for the Los Angeles Dodgers brings a smile to your face.
I was too young to appreciate the above-referenced Series, except the Red Sox unfortunate championship. I do have a few special memories of my own. The Bill Buckner-Mookie Wilson play in the 1986 Series would have topped my list all but for one reason. I did not see it live. I was on a bus heading to an overnight security job while in college. I boarded the bus thinking that the Red Sox defeated my beloved New York Mets. I arrived at my destination and called my roommates to confirm my procrastination. I heard all of this yelling and screaming in the background and thought to myself, “What is with the celebratory atmosphere?” Then one of my fellow New Yorkers informed me that not only did the Mets come back and win the game, but they did it in dramatic fashion. If I would have seen it live, that would have been my favorite Fall Classic moment. With that being said, I will have to go with Reggie Jackson’s historic night back in 1977.
I know Jackson had to be questioning himself going into the playoffs that year whether he had made the right choice in signing with the Bronx Bombers that spring. He immediately got off to a bad start with his teammates with the “Straw that Stirs the Drink” quote. The story was released right before spring training, and he and Manager Billy Martin were engaged in a season-long feud that divided the clubhouse. He was even benched in the finale of the ALCS that year.
He did come off of the bench of that ALCS in Game 5 and delivered a crucial game-winning pinch-hit single. Perhaps that hit gave him the inspiration to provide one of the greatest moments in not only World Series history, but baseball history in general. With the Yanks needing one more victory to clinch their first World Series victory in over 17 years, Jackson left nothing to chance that evening. He smacked three home runs, with the last one being deposited 460 feet into the October sky. He earned the nickname of Mr. October that night and had a candy bar named in his honor the following spring.
I sat in my living room that night and just marveled at what this man had just accomplished. Two months prior to that night, most of New York was ready to run him out of town. Then he was branded King of New York. He joined such legends as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Sam Huff, Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Willis Reed as New York champions and heroes. I was just glad that he delivered a performance that exonerated him from all of the foolishness that went on during that campaign.
That was an evening that I will never forget. That is why the Fall Classic is so special and provides us with so many good memories. That was my favorite World Series memory. What was yours?