"And we'll see you tomorrow night!"
I'm no big fan of Joe Buck, but this line, delivered as David Freese hit his walkoff home run in Thursday night's World Series Game 6, was a touching tribute to his dad, who uttered the same words when the Twins' Kirby Puckett hit a similar 11th inning walkoff in Game 6 in 1991, 20 years and one day before Thursday's heroics in St. Louis.
You've heard all the superlatives about Game 6: first time a team has been within one strike of a Series win two different times and lost; first time a team has scored in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th inning of a Series game; first time a player has had a game-tying hit in the bottom of the ninth and a game-winning hit in extra innings in a Series game. There's more, but those are the top highlights.
So where does this game stand in an all-time ranking of greatest World Series games? If that game had been a Game 7, there's no doubt it would be at the top, trumping even Game 7 in 1960. Here's my personal Top 10, ranked from 10th to first; vote in the poll to pick your personal best.
No. 10: 1991 World Series, Game 6: This is the game where Jack Buck exclaimed "And we'll see you tomorrow night!" In addition to Puckett's extra-inning heroics, the Twins' bullpen held the Braves scoreless for the last four innings of the game, allowing just three singles, two of which were erased by double plays.
No. 9: 2001 World Series, Game 7: The Diamondbacks had come back from a three games to two deficit to tie the series with a 15-2 crushing of the Yankees in Game 6. But they trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 against a closer -- Mariano Rivera -- who, even ten years before he broke the save record, was acknowledged as the game's best. And even after Rivera made a throwing error on a bunt attempt, he recorded an out; the tying and winning runs were on base with New York two outs from victory. Rivera gave up a game-tying double and then hit Craig Counsell before Luis Gonzalez's bouncer up the middle won it for Arizona. This game also featured shutdown relief in the late innings by Randy Johnson, just one day after he threw seven solid innings in Game 6.
No. 8: 1912 World Series, Game 8: Yes, I said "Game 8" -- in 1912, Game 2 was tied 6-6 after 11 innings when it was called for darkness in that pre-lights era. The Red Sox and Giants went on to split the other six games and had to play an eighth and deciding game. The game went into extra innings tied; the Giants scored in the top of the 10th to take a 2-1 lead. Clyde Engle led off the bottom of the inning with what appeared to be a routine fly to center field, but Fred Snodgrass dropped it; Engle reached second. Christy Mathewson retired the next hitter, but a walk and a single tied the game. An intentional pass was issued to set up a force at every base; Boston won the game and series on a sacrifice fly.
No. 7: 1924 World Series, Game 7: The Giants led the game 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, but with the bases loaded and two out, Bucky Harris' ground ball took a bad hop over third baseman Freddie Lindstrom's head, scoring two runs and tying the game. The Giants got the winning run to scoring position in the ninth and 11th innings, but could not score. In the 12th with one out, Muddy Ruel hit a foul popup that was dropped; he redeemed himself with a double. After an error put a runner at first base with Ruel holding second, Earl McNeely hit another ball at Lindstrom -- which took another bad hop into left field, winning the game and Series for the Senators. That and the 1912 game were the only extra-inning winner-take-all games in the World Series, until...
No. 6: 1991 World Series, Game 7: The Senators franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961; 30 years later, the team played two of the most excruciatingly exciting World Series games on consecutive nights. It's the only Series I'm honoring here with a pair of games. This one featured a 10-inning shutout thrown by Minnesota's Jack Morris while the Twins were leaving 12 men on base, finally scoring the game-winner on Gene Larkin's bases-loaded single with one out in the bottom of the 10th.
No. 5: 1962 World Series, Game 7: The Giants and Yankees had to wait out several days of rain in San Francisco before playing Game 6, which the Giants won to tie the series. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out and Tony Kubek hit into a double play, scoring Moose Skowron. In the bottom of the ninth, Matty Alou led off with a bunt single, but Ralph Terry struck out the next two hitters, bringing up Willie Mays, who doubled -- but Alou held at third. The Yankees chose to pitch to Willie McCovey rather than put him on base and bring up Orlando Cepeda; McCovey hit a screaming line drive that would have won the game, but Bobby Richardson snagged it. That led to two famous Peanuts cartoons, the only time creator Charles Schulz (a huge Giants fan) ever referred to current events in the history of the strip.
No. 4: 1975 World Series, Game 6: Even if you are too young to have watched this game, you have likely seen Carlton Fisk's walkoff home run in the 12th inning of this game and his excited reaction. But the game would never have even gotten that far if not for Bernie Carbo hitting a three-run, pinch-hit home run to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. Like this year's Series, Game 6 in '75 was pushed back by rain.
No. 3: 1986 World Series, Game 6: As in Thursday night's game, the visiting team, the Red Sox, took a two-run lead in an extra inning. The first two Mets were easy outs in the bottom of the 10th, then three singles off Calvin Schiraldi made it 5-4, bringing in Bob Stanley, who got Boston within one strike of victory before uncorking a wild pitch that tied it. Stanley got the Red Sox within a strike of the 11th inning before the famous ground ball that went between Bill Buckner's legs, prompting Vin Scully's excited TV call, "Behind the bag! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!"
No. 2: 2011 World Series, Game 6: You just saw it. 'Nuff said, except there's plenty more almost everywhere on Baseball Nation.
No. 1: 1960 World Series, Game 7: This game had everything. The three games the Yankees had won before Game 7 were by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0. Meanwhile, the Pirates won their three 6-4, 3-2 and 5-2. Game 7 see-sawed; Pittsburgh led 4-0 after two innings, but coughed that up and trailed 7-4 going into the bottom of the eighth, when they scored five runs, capped by a three-run pinch-hit home run by Hal Smith. Their 9-7 lead lasted about five minutes; the Yankees scored a pair off two Pirates pitchers. All that did was set up the most memorable home run in World Series history, Bill Mazeroski's walkoff, the only walkoff homer in a World Series Game 7.
So which one do you think is the greatest? Vote in our poll, and if you have another choice, leave it in the comments.
A final thought... will what we see tonight top last night? It won't be easy, but it happened 20 years ago. It could happen again. That's why we all love baseball so much.