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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.