With all the negativity about the election, it was so much more fun to watch the World Series. Truly the greatest Series ever. In my book, the Chicago Cubs’ winning the World Series is the greatest baseball miracle ever. It joins my previous top 10 greatest moments in baseball:
1. Babe Ruth and Murderers’ Row
The 1927 Yankees were one of the greatest teams ever. It was also Babe Ruth’s best season. He hit 60 home runs that year. He reached his peak that season as the Yankees won 110 games out of 154. Although Ruth’s 714 home runs put him in third on the list of total home runs, we should remember that he only had 8,399 at bats. That means his AB/HR ratio 11.76.
Hank Aaron had 755 home runs, but with 12,364 at bats. His AB/HR ratio was 16.38. Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs with 9,847 at bats. With performance enhancing drugs, Barry Bonds is closer to Ruth than Hank Aaron with an AB/HR ratio of 12.92, but not he is not Babe.
2. Babe Ruth’s Called Shot
In game 3 of the 1932 World Series, the Great Bambino called his shot at the top fifth inning and hit his most famous home run.
3. The “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig Retires
The 1939 Yankees were among the best teams ever. It was the first time the Yankees won the World Series for the fourth year in a row. Along with the 1927 and 1998 Yankees, the 1939 teams are the only teams to end the season with over a .700 winning percentage.
It will always be remembered when Lou Gehrig ended his career after 2,130 consecutive games. It was on July 4, that Gehrig said, “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.” After Gehrig’s speech, they retired his number. The first time this ever happened in baseball.
4. Joe DiMaggio vs. Ted Williams
The 1941 season produced two miracles. Ted Williams became the last player to hit over .400 — it’ll be at least another 75, if not 750, before the fete is repeated. The other great miracle was Joe DiMaggio’s the record-breaking 56-game hitting streak.
5. Jackie Robinson
In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. He was a six-time All-Star. In 1997, every team in baseball retired his number (42) to honor his achievement.
6. Roger Maris hits 61 home runs
The 1961 Yankees had two contenders trying to break Babe Ruth’s 1927 regular season record: Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. In the last game of the first 162-game season, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run. A huge, still under-appreciated achievement.
7. Sandy Koufax Sits Out the 1965 World Series Opener for Yom Kippur
In the 1960s, Sandy Koufax was the greatest pitcher in baseball. He won three Cy Young Awards, in 1963, 1965, and 1966. In 1965, Sandy Koufax had 382 strikeouts. Except Nolan Ryan in 1973 (383 strike outs), no player since the 19th century had more K’s than Koufax. It was that same year that Koufax sat out of Game 1 of the 1965 World Series. The Dodgers lost the first game, but ended up winning the World Series in seven games — and Koufax was of course the Series MVP. As for game one, Rabbi Moshe Feller called Koufax’s “the greatest act of dedication to our Jewish values that had even been done publicly.”
The 1998 season had three miracles. Although Cal Ripkin beat Lou Gehrig’s record in 1995, it was during the 1998 season that Ripkin ended his streak of 2,632 games. Mark McGuire (70) and Sammy Sosa (66) beat Roger Maris’s single season home run record. It was exciting while it lasted — only later did it emerge that McGuire and Sosa cheated. Meanwhile, the mighty Yankees won 114 regular season games in 1998 and won a record 125 games overall.
The 2001 season was overshadowed by 9/11. President George W. Bush was the first president to threw a ceremonial first pitch in the World Series since Eisenhower. In game 3 at Yankee Stadium, Bush threw a fast ball from the pitcher’s mound. The crowd at Yankee Stadium roared as they chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” That season as well, the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season and an enhanced Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs. Say what you will, it was quite a feat, requiring as it did incredible discipline at the plate as more often than not he was always pitched around.
10. The Curse Ends
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918. The Curse of the Bambino saw the Red Sox lose the series in some miraculous defeats. The most tragic included 1975 when they lost the series in the 7th game. They were winning the game 3-0 only to lose the game 4-3 in the final inning. There was 1986 when the ball went through bill Buckner’s legs, allowing the Mets to score the winning run.
In 2004, Boston beat the Yankees in the ALCS in seven games after the Yankees won the first three games. No team had worse drought except one.
Baseball has many other memorable events. When we think of all of them, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will compare favorably to any of them.
The Chicago Cubs won this year in seven games. They won in the 10th inning. After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Ben Stein once said about the movie Ferris Bueller:
“I think when John Hughes wrote, produced and directed Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he was writing about a human need as basic as the human need that Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence: the need to be free, and to pursue happiness. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — very basic stuff. And I don’t know that there’s ever been a happier movie. It’s a movie that you cannot watch without feeling really, really great.”
It’s hard not to feel the same after watching Wednesday’s Game 7. To witness such a miracle can only leave one optimistic about the future and full of confidence that anything is possible.
Noted Cubs fan and former Republican George Will once quipped, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”