5. Game 1, 1988 (Kirk Gibson Game – Dodgers 5, A’s 4)
Kirk Gibson hit the most improbable home run of World Series history in 1988. Coming off an MVP season, Gibson led the Dodgers through a tough NLCS match-up with the Mets, but he wasn’t able to start in the World Series against Oakland, having injured both legs in the previous series while also suffering from a stomach virus. He watched helplessly from the bench until the end of the game.
A 2-0 first inning lead for the Dodgers was erased almost immediately by a grand slam by Jose Canseco in the top of the second. That was it for scoring until the Dodgers’ last licks, minus a string of sixth inning singles that cut the Athletics lead to 4-3. Gibson was sent up as a pinch hitter with a man on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Facing the fierce closer Dennis Eckersley, Gibson appeared to be in pain during every swing. At one point, a grounder that rolled just foul showed how much Gibson was hurting, as he limped towards first base before realizing it was out of play. Then, after working the count to 3-2, he launched the next offering into the right field seats, winning the game for the Dodgers, 5-4. His triumphant hobble around the bases has become well known to baseball fans everywhere – a surreal moment that was stranger than fiction. Gibson wasn’t able to play in the rest of the series, but the Dodgers went on to take it in five games.
6. Game 7, 1991 (Twins 1, Braves 0 in 10 inn.)
This game was highlighted by one of the most brilliant pitching performances in World Series history by Twins starter Jack Morris, who had also pitched masterfully in Games 1 and 4 of the Series. Morris was lights out and fought with his manager to stay in the game all the way through the tenth inning, and for good reason. He shut down Atlanta all night, even recording a 1-2-3 inning in the tenth.
There were various scoring threats throughout the game, but the closest came in the top of the eighth, when Lonnie Smith reached first with none out for the Braves. Next up, Terry Pendleton hit a double to left-center with a hit and run play on, but Smith stopped on the way to second, apparently losing track of the ball. As a result, he only made it to third when he should have scored easily. Even with no outs, he never made it to the plate. The Twins broke the defensive stalemate in the bottom of the tenth, when Tom Kelly called on the obscure Gene Larkin to pinch hit with the bases loaded and one out. Larkin delivered, driving a pitch to left field for the game-winning hit, making for an amazing ending to what is widely thought to be greatest World Series of all time.