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Who pitched the greatest World Series game of all time?

Sep 3, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT

jack morris-thumb-250x375-4861

Graham Womack of Baseball: Past and Present looks at the all-time greatest World Series pitching performances. And while Jack Morris and Don Larsen get most of the press when it comes to the top of such performances, there’s one guy whose Fall Classic outing has been overlooked. I have blanked out the identifying details:

[The player] set a World Series record that still stands when he went 14 innings for the [Team] in Game 2 on [Date]. He even drove in one of [Team’s] runs . . .

The guy got the win and allowed one run on six hits in those fourteen innings. Which, no, isn’t a perfect game and no, wasn’t a Game 7 win. But as far as game score goes, it was the best.

I’m not a believer that game score is any sort of be-all, end-all. A perfect game is, well, perfect. But this is one performance that I’m shocked to have never heard about. Especially considering who the pitcher was.

  1. spyder9669 - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Babe Ruth

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 3, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      I love how on the linked story, the photo is of Ruth with teammate Ernie Shore (and 2 other gents). The story of how they wound up with the first MLB combined no-hitter is one of my favorites.

  2. gosport474 - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Only the greatest player ever.

    • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      What, we’re not talking about Jeter, are we? :)

      Speaking of, are the Yankees, to overdue all of this even more, going to give him an inning on the mound?

    • 78mu - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      Hard to argue he’s not the greatest player ever since he could hit and pitch. He won close to 100 games and had a career ERA+ of 122.

  3. sdelmonte - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Yeah, that was my guess, since the man was known to be able to hit as well.

  4. max - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    It was me.

  5. beefytrout - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Nice to see Derek Holland so high on that list. Best baseball game I’ve ever been to.

  6. SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Beyond Ruth, there’s great games in modern times that blow Morris out of the water.

    Gibby, Game 1, 1968, 93 game score. Koufax, 88 in both Games 5 and 7 of 1965. Big Unit, Game 2, 2001, 91.

  7. 18thstreet - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    When I was a kid, baseball records were always described as being modern era records — i.e., past 1900, as I understood it. The idea being that you couldn’t really compare the sport they played in 1880 with the sport I was watching. If it were up to me, we’d all add another layer to that division: post-integration. And if that’s too politically charged, maybe we can just say “… of the last 50 years.” There’s always so many deadball pitchers on these lists. Pedro Martinez would have had a ERA of 0.10 playing with that ball.

    • simon94022 - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      I don’t think integration had the huge impact on the level of play that people often assume. Even without segregation, there would have been no more than a handful of African American players in the major leagues before World War I due to larger socio-economic and geographic factors. It’s really only in the 1930s and 1940s that you had large numbers of major league able players barred from the game.

      The 1950s and 1960s saw a huge influx of very talented black athletes, which obviously raised the general quality of play. But very few of them were pitchers, Bob Gibson being the outstanding exception.

      • 78mu - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        But it would have been nice to have seen what Gibson, Paige or the other greats of the Negro League could have done in the majors. It may have set off a rush to sign more players from the NL and inched society for the better.

        Of course having players like Mays and Aaron play on minor league teams in the south didn’t hasten the end of Jim Crow. Even though Bull Connor was the radio announcer in Birmingham when Willie Mays played there it didn’t make him sympathetic to the Freedom Riders.

  8. cubbynaz - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    I’d be curious to know how many pitches he threw, given today’s pitch counts.

    • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:29 PM

      At 3 pitches per batter, on average, with fewer Ks, they’re still at 150. At 3.5, they’re at 175.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      Ruth issued only 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. My guess is there were plenty of one- and two-pitch at bats.

      The 1916 Dodgers (er, Robins) had 355 walks and 550 strikeouts. Last year’s Dodgers walked 476 times and struck out 1146 times. I wonder how many of the old-timers’ complete games were roughly 110 pitches. There’s so many more strikeouts now than there were just 20 years ago. Players go deeper in the plate appearance now. I wouldn’t assume Ruth threw 200 pitches or anything.

  9. SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Per the story, note that in 1915, the HR record had been bumped to 24. That’s why I call 1910-20 the semi-deadball era. Rules changes plus a new ball in that decade had partially livened it up.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      The whole Brooklyn team hit 28 homers that year. Four NL teams hit even fewer than that.

      There were 3.56 runs scored per game in 1916. That’s the 5th lowest in baseball history.

      • SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        True for that year. That said, overall, home runs, and somewhat scoring in general, picked up during the 1910s vs the “aughts.” The 1910 adoption of the cork-centered ball was a big reason why, along with a rule change two years earlier. I noted that in a blog post arguing these are reasons why Walter Johnson is better than Cy Young.

  10. thomas844 - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Many Giants fans say that Justin Verlander’s pitching performance in the 2012 Series was the greatest thing they have seen.

    • normcash - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      LOL…good one!

  11. genericcommenter - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Is there a link to actually see the ranked list?

  12. tearlw - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Larsen. By a lot.

    The 1956 Dodgers won 93 games. Their lineup that day:
    Gilliam 2b
    Reese ss
    Snider cf
    Robinson 3b
    Hodges 1b
    Amoros lf
    Furillo rf
    Campanella c
    Maglie p

    • normcash - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      I agree…and there was only one outstanding play made behind Larsen—a fine
      running catch in left center by Mantle….

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 3, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Um, kinda sorta. Let’s not forget Jackie Robinson leading off the 2nd inning, hitting a scorcher at 3B Andy Carey who had it deflect off him, and by extraordinary chance, right to SS Gil McDougald, who fired it to first in time. A slightly different bounce and few would remember Don Larsen or that amazing day.

    • 78mu - Sep 3, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      If Larsen’s wasn’t the best pitched nine inning game you would have to question the methodology. I mean, what more could a guy do.

  13. iranuke - Sep 3, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    If Babe Ruth were playing right now, he would still be a pitcher and no one would ever suggest that they move him to the outfield.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 3, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      I wonder. It’s a cool question. I wish that a guy like Jayson Stark would ask every GM about it.

  14. greymares - Sep 3, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Nobody dislikes the Yankees more than me but hands down its Larsen !

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  16. hieronymous27 - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    No argument regarding Ruth, Larsen, Morris, et al, but an argument could be made that Mickey Lolich had one of the best World Series performances in the 3 games he pitched. Lolich was a .110 lifetime hitter but hit a home run in his first world series at bat to win game 2 of the 1968 World Series (after the Tigers were humiliated by Bob Gibson in game 1). In game 5, after allowing 3 runs in the first inning Lolich pitched scoreless ball for the next 8 innings of that game. In the 7th inning, with the Tigers down by 1 run and one out and no one on Lolich hit (okay he actually blooped) a single to right to start a rally which led the Tigers to win the game 5 – 3. In game 7, pitching on 2 days rest, Lolich pitched 9 innings, allowed only 1 run and was the winning pitcher. Lolich finished the Series with a 1.67 ERA and was 3 for 12 at the plate (.250). Not too shabby.

  17. campcouch - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    I love that pic. It’s like he’s winding up to knock a beer bottle off of a fence post!

  18. SocraticGadfly - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    This all said, I’m surprised that such a baseball writing expert as Craig, who’s been doing this for some time, had never heard about this game by Ruth before.

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