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Bob Lutz: Being thankful, for we get a Game 7

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Bob Lutz
November 01, 2017 - 11:50 am
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We get a World Series Game 7 tonight and that should make us thankful.

This will be, after all, only the 39th Game 7 in World Series history and just the 26th in my lifetime.

Wow, I’ve been alive for two-thirds of the Game 7s in World Series history? Makes me feel old. Thank goodness I look so young.

Anyway, Game 7s are like an unexpected present that shows up under the Christmas tree. They’re always highly anticipated, but you never really know what you’re going to get.

Judging from the high drama of the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros so far, we should expect a big payoff.

Regardless of what happens tonight, though, this World Series will go down as one of the best. It’s had everything.

It’s made me proud to be a baseball fan and I’ll be sad when Game 7 ends, bringing an end to baseball season. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February, though.

Just last year there was a World Series Game 7 and it didn't disappoint as the Chicago Cubs beat Cleveland, 8-7. If you’re going to have a Game 7, you might as well have a one-run game that’s in doubt until the final pitch.

Here are my most memorable World Series Game 7s – sorry, just can’t go with the Cubs -- and all had some close- or at least squint-your-eyes moments.

 

1960: Pirates 10, Yankees 9 – I was in Kindergarten at the time and I vaguely remember watching Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run, the only Game 7 walk-off homer in World Series history, win it for the Bucs. Why wasn’t I in school? In those days, after all, World Series games were played during the day. But I’ve never had a really good answer to the school question. Perhaps I faked being sick. Don’t tell anyone, but I did that occasionally as a grade-school kid and could always get my mother to buy my story. It was usually a stomach ache because how do you prove someone doesn’t have a stomach ache? I just know I saw Mazeroski’s homer. At least I think I know. I’m pretty sure. Mayyyyy-be?

 

1991: Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings) – It’s impossible to exaggerate the performance of Twins pitcher Jack Morris. He went all 10 innings, nearly fighting his manager, Tom Kelly, to go out for the bottom of the 10th. The Game 7 theatrics matched the rest of the Series, in which three games went extra innings, four were walk-off wins and five were decided in a team’s final at-bat.

 

2001: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2 – America had just gone through the horror of 9/11, putting most Americans into the awkward position of rooting for the Yankees. In the end, though, it was a base hit by Luis Gonzalez off legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera that capped a two-run, ninth-inning rally and gave the D-Backs the win. New York’s bid for a fourth consecutive World Series title came up just short.

 

1975: Reds 4, Red Sox 3 – A magical Game 6, highlighted by a legendary Carlton Fisk home run, makes this one easy to forget. But the Reds rallied from a 3-0 deficit and scored the go-ahead run on a Joe Morgan two-out single in the ninth.

 

1997: Marlins 3, Indians 2 (11 innings) – My son, Jeff, had only recently betrayed me by dropping his St. Louis Cardinals allegiance and becoming a Cleveland fan. To this day, I don’t understand and have stopped trying. But his pain was palpable when Jose Mesa failed to hold a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth. A Tony Fernandez error led to an Edgar Renteria game-winning hit for the Marlins. The Indians still have not won a World Series since 1948. The Cardinals, by the way, have won five in my lifetime.

 

1962: Yankees 1, Giants 0 – This World Series became personal for me after I got to meet Ralph Terry, the winning pitcher. Terry, who for many years has lived in Larned, was the pitcher who gave up Mazeroski’s Game 7-winning home run in 1960. If anyone was deserving of vindication, it was Terry. And he was spectacular in this Game 7, giving up only four hits without a walk. The Giants did threaten in the ninth, getting runners to second and third with two outs. But Terry retired fearsome slugger Willie McCovey on a screaming line drive to second baseman Bobby Richardson.

 

1965: Dodgers 2, Twins 0 – I’m fortunate to have seen Sandy Koufax pitch in person. This is one I saw on television, though, but it didn’t lessen the tension. Koufax struck out 10 while allowing three hits and throwing 132 pitches.

 

1968: Tigers 4, Cardinals 1 – I remember sitting on our couch, as a 13-year-old with a rumbling stomach as the game went to the seventh inning tied 0-0. Bob Gibson, my man, was locked into a duel with the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich. Until he wasn’t. In the seventh, Norm Cash and Willie Horton singled with two outs. Then Jim Northrup hit a shot to center field. No worries, Curt Flood was out there and Flood caught everything. Except . . . not this time. He took a step in before trying to recover. Too late. The ball got over Flood’s head and two runs scored. Two painful runs. After being 2-0 in World Series wins (1964, 1967) I was subjected to the raw pain of losing.

 

1982: Cardinals 6, Brewers 3 – It was 14 years until the Cardinals got to another World Series. By that time, I was married and my wife and I were expecting our first child. Admission: I missed a couple of Lamaze classes during the ’82 World Series. But, hey, what are you gonna do? St. Louis was down 3-1, but rallied for three runs in the sixth and two in the eighth. There was a celebration.

 

1986: Mets 8, Red Sox 5 – There was only a Game 7 because of Bill Buckner’s fielding gaffe in Game 6. And the Red Sox could not recover, despite building an early 3-0 lead. It might have been the first and only time I’ve felt bad for Boston.​


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