What are the Best World Series You Remember?

Celebration on the mound as the Miracle Mets win the World Series.

I have five World Series that I have loved for many years. Without question, number one for me was 1969 when the New York Mets captured the championship by beating the highly favored Baltimore Orioles in five games. The Miracle Mets came out of nowhere, after having never finished higher than ninth in the National League during their history, to capture the newly created National League East title. George Burns playing God in the film said that the last miracle he performed was allowing the Mets to win the World Series. Yeah, pretty much true it seems to me. They were no slouches that year, although they had been every year up until that time; they won 100 games and lost only 62 in 1969. Then they dispatched the National League West division winner, the Atlanta Braves, 3 games to none. With Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and not much else they overcame the Orioles with its all stars led by Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and my personal favorite Boog Powell. But I remember clearly the hitting of the Mets’ Donn Clendenon, and the diving catch of Ron Swoboda. It was a great series and I loved watching the Mets take the victory.

It’s really hard not to love these guys, celebrating the World Series victory.

For number two, I also loved the 1985 World Series when the Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. I have long been a Cardinals fan, and it was hard for me to enjoy this series, but I also enjoyed the Royals. When in college in the 1970s I had gone to several games in Kansas City and was impressed with the Royals and their gang of players. George Brett was superb, a Hall of Famer, but Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, and others were outstanding and quite admirable. I admired them as a scrappy team that had what it took to succeed. The Cardinals were the odds on favorite for this World Series, having ploughed through the National League with a 101-61 record, but they ran into a buzz saw when they encountered their cross-state opponents. George Brett, who had led the Royals attack with a .370 series average—just three percentage points ahead of Willie Wilson—summed up everything about the victory with an insightful comment. As the bubbly flowed in the victory party following game seven Brett came aside to describe what it meant to him to win the 1985 World Series. He shouted above the celebratory clamor taking place behind him, “I know, I know, people were saying, ‘God, we’ve got this damn all-Missouri World Series. Who cares?’ Well, do you think I wanted to be drafted by Kansas City, this little town in Missouri? I’m from L.A. and I wanted to play for the Dodgers. But I’ll tell you something: I’m proud, very proud, to be a Kansas City Royal.” Brett then laughed a big belly laugh and added, “And you know what it is we did, don’t you? We showed’em.”

Kirby Puckett, God rest his soul, celebrating the championship over the Atlanta Braves in 1991.

For number three, let me offer the 1991 series between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins. It was just the beginning of a dynasty in Atlanta, and it foreshadowed the remainder of the decade and the Braves place as they came up just one game short in this World Series. Both the Twins and the Braves had finished last in their respective divisions in 1990, but they emerged in 1991 to take top honors in both leagues. Worst to first, baby! Then they played a stunning seven game series, three of the games requiring extra innings and four of them were one run games. I couldn’t get enough of it. Add to that the fact that I adored Kirby Puckett, the Twins’ franchise player. He looked nothing like an athlete, but he could really play, leading an unlikely collection of players to the heights of baseball success. When I learned later about his illnesses, and his demons, I felt for him. I still mourn his premature death in 2006 at only 45 years. I wish he were still with us.

The Angels waited a long time to celebrate a World Series victory. I wish the cowboy had still been around to enjoy it.

In the fourth slot, I would put the 2002 World Series between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants. I liked both teams that year for different reasons. I was, and I still am, a Barry Bonds fan. He was a superb player and regardless of demeanor, steroid use, or anything else, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. That he never got a World Series ring is quite sad for such a stellar player with such longevity. The Angels were also a favorite of mine, from the time when Gene Autry owned the team and tried so desperately to win a championship. Though Autry was gone by 2002, this one was for the cowboy. He deserved it.

Charlie Finley cheering on the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

Finally, the Oakland A’s victory over the Cincinnati Reds in 1972 was also a favorite for me. I really enjoyed the A’s in the 1970s, and even co-wrote a book about its owner, Charlie Finley, and that first World Series victory was so sweet for the team after more than three decades of mediocrity and two franchise shifts from its glory days in Philadelphia. The likes of Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, and a host of other players made this a legendary team. They took on the Reds, not quite the “Big Red Machine” of later years, but still with the impressive Pete Rose, Johnny Bench. Toney Perez, and Joe Morgan. Gene Tenace stole the show with four home runs for the A’s and the men in green and gold took the series 4-3. It was a great time. I still remember watching at the end of the series as Charlie Finley climbed up on the roof of the A’s dugout after that seventh game victory, pulled up his wife, and began kissing her on national TV. Dick Williams, the A’s manager, did the same with his wife.

These are my favorites. What about other ones? I’d like to hear from you.

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5 Responses to What are the Best World Series You Remember?

  1. Bill Anderson says:

    We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed … etc. … and that the 1975 World Series is the best World Series. Ever.


  2. Doug says:

    I’ve slipped as a baseball fan, but the ’79 World Series with the “We Are Family” Pirates coming back from 3-1 down and winning Game 7 in Baltimore still sticks in my memory.

    [Unless you count the 2003 Series that the Cubs should have been in!]

    Roger, I am bit surprised by your stated admiration for Barry Bonds – in my view, he has soiled any of his accomplishments on the field by his obvious use of performance-enhancing drugs (let alone his general churlishness and disdain for the fans and the media). How is that not considered cheating?


    • launiusr says:

      Doug, thanks much for your comments. I also enjoyed the 1979 World Series between the Pirates and the Orioles, and also the 1971 series between the same two teams. As to my support for Barry Bonds, yes he can be prickly. But he was also hounded and I think there is appropriate reason for his prickliness. He’s also a far cry from the most prickly player that ever walked. Let me give a few others: Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio, Roger Maris, and I could go on and on. I am reminded of that supposedly golden boy, Mickey Mantle, who got away will all kinds of stuff because he was nice to a few key journalists and could really be prickly otherwise. None of them were tarnished by that prickliness, although I think they probably should be. I could go on and on.

      As to cheating, let me ask the question, what constitutes cheating? Does the taking of “greenies,” which were the drugs of choice for players in the 1950s-1970s, constitute cheating? Does the wearing of body armor, which lots of hitters have worn and therefore had no fear of crowding the plate constitute cheating? Does the injection of you name it that is not illegal constitute cheating? That line seems to be bright in the context of Barry Bonds but not so much in other cases. That’s what I’m talking about here. Then there is the question of who is really at fault in the steroid scandal. It wasn’t a couple of bad apples engaged in this, educated assessments suggest that something in the neighborhood of half of those in the major leagues had used these drugs at least once. If this was something that was so bad, and I agree it was, then what was the responsibility of the owners and the MLB leadership to stop it? They did nothing, watching previously banjo hitters bulk up and pound the fences as never before it history. Yet, the code of silence on clubhouse stuff persisted. But it wasn’t a secret about the widespread use of steroids in the game as many investigators have acknowledged. Barry Bonds was one of the last guys to get involved in it, that is if he did anything at all, and while I hate to use the excuse that never worked with my parents–“but everyone else is doing it–that was the case and by all accounts watching that McGuire/Sosa home run race in 1998 really torqued him. I can’t blame him. Bonds was the premier player in the game, no question, and to see all this happening around him would upset me as well were I in his position. But if he “cheated,” where do we draw the line? I think virtually all of the power hitters of the last couple of decades are tainted as well. Are we going to punish everyone? I’d be surprised if that happened. So why do we punish Bonds? Now, I will be need to reassess some of these comments in light of the Bonds conviction concerning perjury. I haven’t read the details on this yet, and I’ll see where I am once I do that, but as I see it at this point I think the fact that Bonds is treated differently and more harshly comes because of two reasons, his legendary prickliness and his race. Yes, I do believe there is racism involved in piling on Bonds as well.


  3. Doug says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response (as always), Roger.

    I just don’t see speed or equipment issues as being in the same category as steroids or HGH that make you physically bigger, strong and faster than other humans.

    I would suggest that none of the obvious candidates – Bonds, Clemens, Manny R., Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa – belong in the Hall of Fame, certainly not before the chains are loosened on Pete Rose. )And that all of their home run totals deserve an asterisk – poor Hank Aaron!)

    Yes, baseball management completely blew it – I regard Bud Selig as one of the worst pro sports commissioners of my lifetime – but that doesn’t make it OK to do something you know is subverting the fairness of the game.

    I also think it is a stretch to attribute any of this to racism toward Bonds. For him to claim he did not know what was being put into his body – the source of all his wealth and ego – nor acknowledge any of the obvious physical signs of outsize growth is beyond the credulity that any critic should have to maintain.

    PS – My wife just realized that she lived briefly in the same dormitory at ASU as Bonds, and recalls he was a jerk even then!


    • launiusr says:

      I’m with you on a lot of this. I dont think these guys should go into the Hall, either. But there are a lot of people that are already there that don’t deserve it either. I don’t want to push the racism issue too far, but the question I keep asking myself would Bonds have received the same treatment from the media had he been white? I tend to think not, but we can debate that another time. Anyway, I truly appreciate your perspective on this. And yes, I concede he is often a jerk, and apparently has been one for a long time. I do find it fascinating that all of moralizing about the steroid era stops with the players and not with the MLB establishment, including the owners. I am just flabbergasted by that. Bill Veeck was right, we know that baseball is the greatest game ever devised because try as they might the owners haven’t figured out a way to kill it.


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