This Week in Baseball History: Oct. 19 – 25

In October, dreams are crushed, tensions run high and legends are born.

This past weekend, we saw a dramatic climax to a wild ALCS and NLCS. In those series, Randy Arozarena and Corey Seager immortalized themselves in their team’s lore. With the World Series starting in just a couple of days, let’s look back upon some of the most iconic moments in Mets/Red Sox/Blue Jays history.


Oct. 19, 2006 – Endy Chavez Makes “The Catch”


In 2006, Endy Chávez had a career year. Over his first five seasons, he played for four separate teams. But as a member of the New York Mets, he found regular playing time due to injuries to their outfielders Xavier Nady and Cliff Floyd. Chavez played excellent defense and hit .306/.348/.431 (101 wRC+) over 133 games with 4 HR, 42 RBI and 12 SB:3 CS for 3.0 fWAR. This may be a pretty average stat line, but this is not the main reason that he is so beloved by Mets fans. To understand why, you have to look at Game 7 of the ’06 NLCS vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.

That year, the Mets finished 97 – 65, which was tied for the best record in baseball and also their best winning percentage and first division title since 1988. They swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, setting them up for a NLCS against a Cardinals team that had one of the worst division-winning records ever (83 – 78). However, they did feature a prime Albert Pujols, who in the previous year’s NLCS had traumatized the Astros and Brad Lidge by sending a ball to the moon.

These Mets and Cardinals matched up pretty well again each other. The Mets jumped ahead first with a win in Game 1 after blanking the Cardinals, while St. Louis came back with fury to win Games 2 and 3. The Mets bats, powered by a multi-home run game by Carlos Beltran, won Game 4.


Each team won one of Games 5 and 6 by the same score (4 – 2), setting the stage for a Game 7 showdown between two teams that had not won a World Series since the ’80s.

This game was a straight-up pitcher’s duel between Jeff Suppan for the Cardinals and Oliver Perez for the Mets. Suppan struggled in the first inning, allowing the Mets to score first on a David Wright RBI single. But the Cardinals came back in the next half inning with their own rally, tying the game on a Ronnie Belliard sac bunt.

For the next couple innings, both offenses went silent, tallying a few baserunners here and there before the stout pitching snuffed out any rally. The 56,357 fans in Shea Stadium sat nervously on the edge of their seats as it seemed like whoever scored the next run would go on to win.

In the top of the sixth, Jim Edmonds worked a one-out walk, bringing Scott Rolen, arguably one of the best third baseman ever, up to the plate. Perez tried to sneak a first-pitch 91 MPH fastball past Rolen, but he turned on the pitch and slammed it to left field. Chavez, who struggled at the plate in the NLCS and hit just .185/.185/.259 over 27 ABs, showed that he did have “the strength to be there” and timed a perfect leap and snow cone grab to rob Rolen’s home run and double up Edmonds to end the inning.


An absolutely unbelievable grab. Given the circumstances, there are few postseason plays that rival this catch.

The Mets threatened a rally the very next inning, giving Chavez a bases-loaded, two-out opportunity to become an even greater hero. But Chavez unfortunately flew out to center, and both team’s bats remained quiet.

This all finally changed in the ninth inning when a 23-year-old Yadier Molina hit a towering fly ball to left. However, this one was a couple feet beyond Chavez’ reach as it cleared the wall, putting the Cards up 3 – 1.


St. Louis brought in a rookie named Adam Wainwright to close out the ninth. The young pitcher allowed three Mets, including Chavez, to reach base, bringing Beltran, one of the best postseason hitters ever, up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. An outfield single would easily bring home the speedy Chavez on second.

But Wainwright froze Beltran with an 0 – 2 curveball, crushing the Met’s hopes and sending the Cardinals to the World Series.


The Cardinals would go on to win the World Series in five games against the Detroit Tigers, and the Mets are still looking for their next championship. If the ninth inning had played out differently, Chavez’ catch would go down as arguably the best defensive play ever. Even as it currently stands, his fantastic play in left remains one of the most beloved moments in Mets history.


Oct. 21, 1975 – Carlton Fisk Waives a Home Run Fair 


Have you heard the story of the rat that forever changed baseball broadcasts?

Here it is! It just so happened to occur in No. 1 game in MLB history according to the MLB Network’s 2012 broadcast.

Carlton Fisk had a long and storied career with the Sox, both Red and White. He had almost 10,000 PAs over 24 seasons, but there is one specific at-bat in the 1975 World Series that is the biggest moment of his career.

It occurred in Game 6 against the Cincinnati Reds. This fearsome “Big Red Machine” regularly won 95+ games as a dynasty that finished first or second in the NL in every year but one during the ’70s. Their success came from a stacked lineup of Hall of Famers (Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Pérez) and MVP winners (George Foster and Pete Rose).

While the ’75 Reds were tied for the best lineup in baseball with a 111 wRC+, the Red Sox were No. 3 (106 wRC+) thanks to a couple great hitters of their own in Fisk, Carl YastrzemskiFred Lynn, and Cecil Cooper. But would this be enough to propel Boston to their championship since 1918?

Both offenses were relatively quiet in the ’75 World Series, with neither team scoring more than six runs in the first five games. In fact, Games 2, 3, and 4 were all decided by just one run. The Reds entered Game 6 leading in the series 3 to 2. To preserve their hopes and force a Game 7, the Red Sox threw out Luis Tiant, their ace who had a slightly down year in ’75 (4.02 ERA/103 ERA+).

Lynn helped out his teammate Tiant by giving the Sox an early lead thanks to a first inning three-run homer.


The “Big Red Machine” wasn’t working until the fifth inning, when they finally responded with two-run triple by Ken Griffey Sr. and a subsequent single by Bench to tie the score 3 – 3. Lynn, who collided with the wall while trying to catch Griffey’s hit, was left shaken up as he couldn’t feel anything from the waist down.


Both teams kept the pace with each other, and after the Reds tacked on three more runs in the seventh and eighth, the Red Sox responded with a three-run homer of their own in the eighth inning to keep it tied.

In the bottom of the ninth, Boston worked a bases-loaded, no-out situation, giving them a 94% win probability and a chance to force Game 7. Lynn came up to bat again and hit a first-pitch pop up down the left-field line. But Foster caught the ball and made a great throw to Bench, who applied the tag at home to double up Denny Doyle in a crucial situation.


The Reds escaped trouble, for now, sending the game into extra innings. Neither team could get a run on the board in the 10th and 11th, but the defenses continued with some sparkling plays, such as this great catch and then double play by Dwight Evans.


But the climax happened in the bottom of the 12th when Fisk led off the inning in what was still a tie game. Reds pitcher Pat Darcy threw a 1 – 0 pitch way down and out of the zone, but Fisk got the barrel of his bat on it and pulled it high down the left field foul line. As he hopped down the line, Fisk tried to will the ball fair. Maybe his efforts worked as the ball clinked off the foul pole, winning it for Boston and forcing a Game 7.


Usually, camera operators had focused on capturing the pitch rather than the players. But right before Fisk’s home run, left-field cameraman Louis Gerard had been distracted by a cat-sized rat on his leg, which prevented him following the path of the ball. Instead, Gerard focused in on Fisk as he waived the ball fair. No one had really focused in on the reactions of players before, and this moment became one that revolutionized the sports broadcast industry.


Oct. 23, 1993 – Joe Carter Walks-Off the World Series


Last week, we talked about the only Game 7 walk-off in World Series history. Here’s that other World Series walk-off (the Canadian edition).

The Blue Jays finished the 1992 season with a World Series title, their first one in the 16-year history of the young franchise. For the next season, they brought back a lot of their best hitters, such as John Olerud, Roberto Alomar, and Joe Carter. But they did make some notable changes, such as replacing one future Hall of Famer (Dave Winfield) with another (Paul Molitor), and their pitching staff saw significant upheavel. Nonetheless, this Toronto team slugged their way to another AL East title thanks to the third best wRC+ (109) in baseball.

They fought their way through a tough White Sox team to win the ALCS in six, going on to face the NL Pennant-winning Phillies. The Blue Jays exploded over the first four games, including a decisive 15 – 14 win in Game 4. This gave Toronto a 3 – 1 series lead while outscoring Philadelphia 37 – 28. But Curt Schilling took the mound for Philly in Game 5 and delivered a gem: a five-hit CGSO with 3 BB to 6 K.

In Game 6, Blue Jays bats awoke from their slumber early, recording a three-run rally in the first off Phillies starter Terry Mulholland. Meanwhile, Toronto starter Dave Stewart, who had a stretch of four straight Top-4 Cy Young finishes from ’87 to ’90, pitched like an ace over the first six innings as he gave up just one run. The Blue Jays had added on some more run support during this time, giving Stewart a 5 -1 lead and 94% win probability as he began the seventh inning.

But Philadelphia wiped out that lead almost immediately, knocking Stewart out of the game with a Lenny Dykstra three-run dinger (his fourth of the series).


The Phillies tacked on two more runs, giving them a 6 – 5 lead as they relied on their bullpen to ice the game. Roger Mason retired the Jays 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, whereas Larry Andersen worked himself in and out of trouble following a bases loaded situation in the eighth. Finally, they relied on their closer, Mitch Williams, the “Wild Thing,” to close out the game with a one-run lead.

Williams gave up a lead-off walk to the worst person possible: Rickey Henderson. He did get a pop out on a nine-pitch AB with Devon White, who had bested Williams in Game 4 by scoring a game-winning two-RBI triple. But then the red-hot Molitor hit a single to center to bring up Carter with the tying run on second and winning run on first.

The first pitch was high for ball one. Williams, whose awkward pitching motion always had him falling on his glove, settled down his nerves and forced the count to 2 – 2. With the dangerous Olerud on deck, who led the league with a .363 AVG and .473 OBP, Williams needed a big punch out here. He shook off the catcher’s sign for a slider and settled on a fastball up and away.

But he made a mistake with his execution. The pitch was low and inside, and Carter wasn’t going to miss that.


Touch ’em all, Joe, you won’t ever hit a bigger home run than that.

Despite Carter’s heroics in giving Toronto their second World Series win (.280/.250/.560 with 2 HR and 8 RBIs in 25 ABs), he didn’t win the WS MVP. That went to Molitor, who hit .500/.571/1.000 with 2 HR and 8 RBIs in 24 ABs.

In fact, both players that hit walk-off home runs to win the World Series did not win the WS MVP.


Oct. 25, 1986 – Bill Buckner Makes an Error


Almost 11 years after the Red Sox had one of the best home runs in franchise history, they suffered one of the worst moments in baseball history.

They had failed to break the Curse of the Bambino in the ’75 World Series after the Reds won the decisive Game 7. The next time they made the playoffs was 1986, when they won the AL East by 5.5 games with a 95 – 66 record. The stars of this Boston team were Roger Clemens, who won the Cy Young and MVP with a 24 win, 2.48 ERA/2.81 FIP and 0.969 WHIP season, and Wade Boggs, who won his second of four straight batting titles after hitting .357/.453/.486. The rest of the lineup contained at least league-average hitters, including the 36-year-old first baseman Bill Buckner, who struggled early on in ’86 but hit .331/.384/.529 from Aug. 15 until the end of the season.

The Red Sox fought their way through a hard ALCS against the California Angels in a full seven-game series. They were set to face the Mets in the World Series, who themselves had fought a wild NLCS against the Astros. Take a look at this cardiac-arrest inducing win probability chart from the decisive Game 6 (which went 16 innings):


Game 1 of the World Series was a 1 – 0 nail-biter as Bruce Hurst (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 8 K) out-dueled Ron Darling (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 8 K) to give the Red Sox a win. But the next three games were not really all that close as the series was tied 2 – 2 as they entered Game 5.

The Red Sox came out on top in Game 5 thanks to Hurst yet again, which pitched a 10-hit, two-run complete game to put Boston within one game of finally breaking their curse.

They jumped out to a quick lead, scoring two runs in the first two innings while Clemens silenced the Mets offense. The Mets evened the score in the fifth thanks an error by Dwight Evans. But Evans atoned for his mistake with an RBI groundout in the seventh to give the Red Sox a 3 – 2 lead.

The Mets offense finally showed some signs of life after Clemens was removed in the eighth, with Gary Carter hitting a sac fly in a bases loaded situation to tie the score yet again. But in the ninth inning, neither team scored, sending the Red Sox into another extra-innings, Game 6 battle.

Boston struck first, with Dave Henderson hitting a lead-off homer. They got one more run on a Marty Barrett RBI single, and they turned it over to Calvin Schiraldi to close out the game.

Schiraldi started out great, retiring the first two batters on outfield fly outs, giving the Red Sox a 99% chance of winning their first championship since 1918. But the Amazin’ Mets came caught on fire, recording back-to-back-to-back singles to knock in one run and make the score 5 – 4 with runners on the corners. Boston brought in Bob Stanley to face Mookie Wilson, the Mets’ speedy centerfielder.

Stanley worked the count to 2 – 2, but Wilson refused to die, fouling off two tough pitches. On the seventh pitch, Stanley missed his spot way inside, and the ball escaped the catcher and reached the backstop, which allowed the tying run to score.

The winning run was now at second base, and Wilson kept himself alive by fouling off two more pitches with a full count. Stanley delivered the 10th pitch, and Wilson finally kept the ball fair as he pulled it weakly down the first base line.

Buckner, who was playing through an injured Achilles that bothered him since ’75, failed to lower his glove enough as the ball rolled underneath it, allowing the Mets to win in dramatic fashion.


This dramatic walk-off win all but took the wind out of the Red Sox’s sails, as they blew a 3 – 0 lead in Game 7 and the Mets won their second World Series in franchise history.


Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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