Originally created 11/05/01

Game 7: Every fan's dream



PHOENIX -- Life doesn't get much better than this: World Series, Game 7, Clemens vs. Schilling.

By the third inning Saturday night, fans already were thinking ahead. This is what Little Leaguers dream about, one game for the championship of baseball. Every little play magnified into history.

Think about the great moments of Game 7s past: Bill Mazeroski's homer in 1960, Jack Morris' 10-inning shutout in 1991, Joe Morgan's bloop ninth-inning single against Jim Burton in 1975.

"I think the fans will get a treat," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully, it lives up to what it is supposed to live up to."

Arizona's Curt Schilling, set to start on three days' rest for the second time in the Series, has a good sense of baseball history. He knows what it means.

"This might be like being in the essay finals against Hemingway, or a paint-off against Picasso," he said. "It's Roger Clemens. It's Roger Clemens and the Yankees, Game 7. Everybody that's ever played this sport at any level has had a Wiffle ball in their hand at some point and said, it's the seventh game of the World Series and you're either pitching or hitting. How cool is that?"

Game 7s have produced classics and clinkers. Few wax poetic over the drama of Kansas City's 11-0 rout of St. Louis in 1985 - when Bret Saberhagen pitched for the Royals against John Tudor, the last Game 7 started by two 20-game winners before Sunday.

What was the best Game 7 ever?

It's hard to top 1960, a Series much like this one. Pittsburgh took a 4-0 lead in the first two innings at Forbes Field, fell behind 7-4 when the Yankees scored one in the fifth, four in the sixth and two in the eighth, then scored five in the bottom of the eighth to take a 9-7 lead. New York tied it in the top of the ninth and Mazeroski homered off Ralph Terry for a 10-9 win.

"Every day of my life, I think about that home run," said Mazeroski, inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer. "Wouldn't you?"

Before that, the best was 1912, when the Boston Red Sox began a run of four Series titles. Actually, it was Game 8, since the teams tied 6-6 in Game 2.

The New York Giants took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th inning and were one out from winning when Fred Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball in center field. Tris Speaker's single tied the score and Larry Gardner's sacrifice fly won it 3-2.

The Giants had another crushing loss in 1924 against the Washington Senators. Earl McNeely's grounder bounced over rookie third baseman Freddie Lindstrom's head to bring home Muddy Ruel with the winning run in the 12th inning, giving Washington a 4-3 victory.

The last Game 7, in 1997, also turned on an error.

Tony Fernandez's two-run single off Al Leiter gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead over Florida, but Bobby Bonilla hit a leadoff homer against Jaret Wright in the seventh, and the Marlins tied it in the ninth against Jose Mesa when Moises Alou and Charles Johnson singled, and Craig Counsell - a member of these Diamondbacks - hit a sacrifice fly.

Fernandez misplayed Counsell's bouncer to second in the 11th, setting up Edgar Renteria's winning single off Charles Nagy.

"This," Renteria said, "is the greatest thing in life."

The 1962 Series - the last Game 7 win by the Yankees - ended on a great defensive play. Terry took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth at San Francisco. With a runner on second and two outs, Willie McCovey hit a liner that second baseman Bobby Richardson grabbed.

"I was looking at this as a chance to redeem myself," Terry said. "Otherwise, I might have been remembered as one of the great losers of all time."

In 1991, a night after Kirby Puckett's 11th-inning homer tied the Series, Morris started for the third time in the Series and held off Atlanta until pinch-hitter Gene Larkin's winning single scored Dan Gladden in the 10th.

Morris got out of two-on jams in the third, fifth and eighth innings, then retired the side in order in the ninth and 10th as the Metrodome crowed roared at headache-inducing levels.

"It was a classic in every aspect," Morris said. "You dream of it, but you think of it as only a dream."

Mets fans are fond of 1986, when New York overcame a 3-0 deficit and rode home runs by Ray Knight and Darryl Strawberry for an 8-5 victory over the Red Sox.

For Boston, 1946 was just as frustrating. With the score 3-all in the eighth, Enos Slaughter scored from first on Harry Walker's double as shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated with his relay after receiving the throw from outfielder Leon Culberson.

"The '48-49-50-51 teams should have won pennants," said Pesky, who maintains he didn't hesitate. "It was heartbreaking and I still think about that. And when people say, 'Well, the same old Red Sox,' it disturbs me."

And in 1975, the night after Carlton Fisk's famous home run in Game 6, Morgan got the go-ahead hit off Burton - who never pitched in the major leagues again - and Will McEnaney retired the Red Sox in order in the bottom half.

Brooklyn fans will forever remember Johnny Podres' 2-0 win over in 1955 over the Yankees, who beat the Dodgers in the Series in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953.

Sandy Koufax pitched a shutout on two days' rest in 1965 to beat Minnesota's Jim Kaat 2-0, and Lew Burdette pitched a shutout on two days' rest in 1957 to lead the Milwaukee Braves over the Yankees' Don Larsen 5-0.

The strangest ending to Game 7 may have been in 1926, when Babe Ruth was thrown out trying to steal second base for the final out as the Cardinals beat the Yankees 3-2.