Baseball'S Best Moments In Baseball, Top 10 Iconic Moments In Baseball History

October 3, 1947: Most of the 74,065 fans at Yankee Stadium were there to see the Bronx Bombers, who were at that point leading the Dodgers three games to two in the World Series, clinch another title. But a defensive replacement named Al Gionfriddo gets in the way: With Brooklyn leading, 8-5, in the bottom of the sixth inning and two runners on base, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio smashes the first pitch he sees into the sky. Gionfriddo races toward the bullpen railing, loses his cap, turns, leaps, and makes the catch just to the left of the 415-foot marker in front of a low metal gate. Nearing second base, Joltin’ Joe shakes his head and kicks the dirt in frustration as he gets robbed of a game-tying homer. “It’s one of the few times Dimaggio showed emotion on the baseball field,” says Harvey Frommer, author of Remembering Fenway Park and The New York Yankee Encyclopedia.

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47. Mr. October
October 18, 1977: “Any moment that can create a nickname is amazing,” says Richard Puerzer, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. It was during Game 6 of the 1977 World Series that Reggie Jackson got his. In the fourth inning, Jackson hit the first pitch he saw from Dodgers starter Burt Hooten into the right field seats. In the fifth, Jackson lined reliever Elias Sosa’s first offering to about the same spot. And in the eighth, Jackson smacked Charlie Hough’s first pitch, a knuckleball, 475 feet into dead center field.


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46. Babe Ruth”s First Home Run
May 6, 1915: A raw but talented young pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, slugs a home run off of the New York Yankees’ Jack Warhop in New York’s Polo Grounds—the first home run of Ruth’s major-league career, and the first of 714 for the player who would revolutionize and dominate baseball for the next 20 years. “When Ruth hit 54 home runs in 1920, every other player in the American League combined hit only 315,” says Joseph Wallace, author of Grand Old Game and The Baseball Anthology. “Just a few years later, everyone was hitting home runs—the Babe had ushered in the Lively Ball era.” As the great sportswriter Damon Runyan put it after the game, “He is now quite a demon pitcher and a demon hitter when he connects.”


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45. Lightning Strikes Forbes Field
August 6, 1909: Giants outfielder “Red” John Murray makes one of the most spectacular catches in baseball history, as if it were written in a movie script. The Giants and Pirates are tied, 2-2, and the midafternoon sky at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh is pitch-black and filled with ominous storm clouds. Tommy Leach of the Bucs cracks the ball into the dark outfield, and as soon as the shadowy Murray leaps up to grab it with one hand, a flash of lightning illuminates the sky. “It’s the most famous catch in the early years of baseball and for good reason,” says John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball. “You can’t cue up lightning unless you’re directing The Natural!”

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44. Barry Bonds” 73rd Home Run
October 7, 2001: Babe Ruth held the single-season home run record for 34 years, Roger Maris for 37. It’s been 11 years since Barry Bonds hit No. 73, off Dennis Stringer, on Oct. 7, 2001, and with the collapse of the steroid era, it doesn’t look as if anyone will threaten Bonds’ record any time soon—except maybe the MLB’s rules committee, with one of those dreaded asterisks.“I was with the Fightin’ Fish in Atlanta on the last day of our 2001 season,” says MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar. “We had a chance to catch it on highlights after we finished our game. It was pretty amazing. He made the game look like PlayStation.”And while it’s hard to remember, Bonds won the first three of his record seven National League MVP awards before the rumblings of steroid use had reached a roar. No less than Bill James, the king of baseball’s statistical class, has said that Bonds will go down as one of the five greatest ballplayers of all time.

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43. Jeter Flips a Miracle
Oct. 13, 2001: Already down two games to the Oakland Athletics in the AL Divisional Series, Yankees captain Derek Jeter makes one of the most athletic plays of his career to propel his team to a game (and series) victory. In the bottom of the 10th, Jeremy Giambi of the A’s strokes a two-out single, followed by a line drive from Terrence Long. As the slow-footed Giambi lumbers around the bases, Jeter vacates his shortstop position and runs to the first base line, snaring a throw from outfielder Shane Spencer and making a backhand flip to home plate, barely nailing Giambi. “You”re out to win. Baseball, board games. I hate to lose,” Jeter told Harvey Frommer, author of The New York Yankee Encyclopedia, about the Miracle Flip.

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42. John Ward Gets Heroic
October 25, 1889: Giants shortstop John Ward becomes the original Mr. October with his heroics in Game 6 of the 1889 World Series between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Bridegrooms. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, nobody on base, and a full count on Ward, the Giants are about to fall behind 4 to 2 in the series. But Ward singles to right off Adonis Terry, steals second on Terry’s first pitch to Roger Connor and then third on the next pitch. After scoring the tying run, Ward wins the game in the eleventh with a walk-off single. “Ward singlehandedly snatches victory from the jaws of defeat,” says John Thorn, baseball”s official historian, “and I don’t think there had ever been anything like it before.”

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41. The Ryan Express Pitches No-No Number 7
May 1, 1991: At Arlington Stadium, the legendary but badly banged-up Nolan Ryan, age 44, takes the mound for the Texas Rangers against Toronto. After holding the Blue Jays hitless for the first eight and two-thirds innings, Ryan has only Roberto Alamar standing in the way of an unprecedented seventh no-no. With the count at 2-2, Ryan’s final pitch starts to the plate and explodes at 93 miles per hour as Alomar swings and misses. Bedlam is on parade at Arlington. Ryan’s teammates surge out on the field, lifting him onto their shoulders. “My teammates were excited for me and involved in it,” the righty told Harvey Frommer, author of Ryan’s biography Throwing Heat, “and the fans rallied.”

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40. Cy Young”s Last Inning
September 22, 1911: Cy Young wins the 511th and final game of his extraordinary pitching career, which began in 1890. Many baseball records are likely to be broken someday, but Young’s, for most career victories, will last forever. Year after year, Young started more than 40 games, while today’s pitchers rarely start much over 30. Then he would almost always pitch a complete game, gaining either a win or loss nearly every time out. (His seasons boasted records like 27-22, 36-12, and 33-10.) “A pitcher today could average 20 wins a year for 25 years,” says Joseph Wallace, author of Grand Old Game and The Baseball Anthology, “and still have to find 12 extra wins to break the record.”

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39. Bunning Hurls a Perfect Game on Father”s Day
June 21, 1964: In the first game of a Father’s Day doubleheader at Shea Stadium, Jim Bunning of the National League-leading Phillies pitches a perfect game, defeating the 10th-place New York Mets. It’s only the fifth perfect game in baseball history, and the ace righthander needs just 90 pitches to complete the game. With the 27-up, 27-down victory, Bunning becomes the first player to hurl a no-hitter in both leagues. (He also blanked the Red Sox in 1958 while pitching for the Detroit Tigers.) “What a day for the daddy of seven children who experienced a career game that Father’s Day,” says Harvey Frommer, author of Remembering Fenway Park and The New York Yankee Encyclopedia.

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38. Harvey Haddix”s Perfect Game
May 26, 1959: Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix pitched the greatest game of all time—and lost. Haddix threw 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves, only to see his team fail to score. In the bottom of the twelfth the Braves’ Felix Mantilla reached on an error by third baseman Don Hoak, ending the perfect game. Three batters later, first baseman Joe Adcock drove in Mantilla with his team’s only hit — a home run to deep center field that was later ruled a double. “Considering that this has never been repeated,” says Richard Puerzer, member of the Society for American Baseball Research, “it is an amazing event.”

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37. Jackie Mitchell”s Debut
April 2, 1931: Seventeen-year-old Jackie Mitchell, a pitcher for the minor-league Chattanooga Lookouts, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a total of seven pitches in an exhibition game. “What made the event noteworthy is that Mitchell was a girl playing on a man’s team,” says Joseph Wallace, author of Diamond Ruby, a novel inspired by Jackie Mitchell”s story, “a widely publicized feat that came to an end just a few days later when Mitchell—and all women—were banned from playing on men’s professional teams.”

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36. The Amazin” Mets
October 16th, 1969: Led by a stalwart pitching performance by Jerry Koosman and timely hitting by Donn Clendenon and others, the New York Mets complete their miracle and defeat the powerful Baltimore Orioles, 5-3, in a World-Series-clinching Game 5. “The victory gave the Mets one of the more improbable world championships of all time,” says Joseph Wallace, author of Grand Old Game and The Baseball Anthology. “Under the steady leadership of manager Gil Hodges, the team—a laughingstock since their arrival in 1962—captured the imaginations of fans nationwide.”

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35. Snodgrass Makes a Muff
October 16, 1912: In the eighth game of the World Series, the New York Giants have a 3-2 lead going into the 10th inning. Boston’s Clyde Engle lofts an easy fly ball in the direction of Giants outfielder Fred Snodgrass, who proceeds to drop it. On the very next play, Snodgrass redeems himself, outrunning a harder hit ball by Harry Hooper and making an unbelievable catch. But Engle scores the tying run and the Sox end up winning the Series. “The catch is completely obliterated by the muff,” says John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, “which illustrates the sad truth in baseball and life that the bad sometimes outweighs the good.”

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34. Jim Edmonds” Diving Catch
June 10, 1997: Jim Edmunds cemented his reputation as a top-notch defensive centerfielder with this gem of a catch against the Kansas City Royals’ David Howard. There were two men on base in the fifth inning of a tie game, so the Angels centerfielder was playing shallow when Howard launched a line drive directly over his head. Edmunds wheeled and ran straight back. Nearing the warning traffic, he extended fully and caught the ball just a few feet from the wall.“That made Willie Mays’ play look routine,” veteran ump Dave Phillips told the Kansas City Star. The difference, of course, is Mays’ was the deciding point in a World Series. Edmunds’ catch was, alas, an amazing play in Kansas City, which hasn’t seen a game of relevance since the 1980s. (Sorry—we still love your barbeque, KC.)

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33. Cal Ripken Jr.”s Final All-Star Game
July 10, 2001: In addition to being baseball’s all-time Iron Man, Cal Ripken could rise to the occasion. Case in point: he homered in the game he matched Lou Gehrig’s 2,131-consecutive-games-played record, and again the next day when he broke it. So it was no surprise that he would deliver a great moment in his final All-Star Game in 2001.Ripken, a landslide selection to start at third base for the American League, came to the plate in the third inning to the theme from the movie, “The Natural.” He received a warm ovation, so affectionate and long that he had to step out of the batter’s box and acknowledge it.When he steps back in, Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park delivers the first pitch…and Ripken sends it over the fence in left field. He becomes the oldest player (40 years, 10 months, 16 days) to hit a home run in the All-Star Game, eclipsing Stan Musial, and is named the Game’s MVP for a record second time.“As far as special moments go, it doesn’t get any better than that,” says fellow all-star and 2001 retiree Tony Gwynn.

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32. Hank Aaron”s 715th Home Run
April 8, 1974: Withstanding a relentless torrent of racial abuse and even threats on his life, Henry Aaron hit the 715th home run of his career. In doing so, he broke the record of 714 held for nearly 40 years by Babe Ruth. “It was the most familiar and beloved of all sports records,” says Joseph Wallace, author of Grand Old Game and The Baseball Anthology, “and one that Aaron broke in the 21st season of a career characterized by grace and steady, fine play.” He never approached Babe Ruth’s mark of 60 homers in a season, but blasted more than 30 a spectacular 15 times. Hammerin’ Hank would finish his career in 1976, with 755 homers.

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31. Fisk”s Force of Will
October 21, 1975: In the twelfth inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Boston catcher Carlton Fisk led off by sending Reds pitcher Pat Darcy’s second offering deep to left. There was no question the ball would leave the yard, only on which side of the foul pole. Fisk took three sidestepping leaps toward first base, all the while waving his arms, as if trying to force the ball to stay fair. On the fourth leap, he thrust his fists into the air. “The visual is key there,” said Richard Puerzer, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. “The camera angle that they had showing him waving it fair was something that they didn’t usually have.”

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30. Gaedel Delivers in a Pinch
August 19, 1951: Bill Veeck, the St. Louis Browns owner and baseball’s greatest promoter, created one of the game’s iconic images when he signed 3-foot-7-inch Eddie Gaedel to a contract and sent him to bat as a pinch hitter. “The picture itself is so hilarious,” says Neil Lanctot, author of three books on baseball, including Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella. “Gaedel looks like he’s really ready to hit.” Gaedel, whose strike zone measured all of one-and-a-half feet, walked on four pitches and twice tipped his cap to the crowd before being lifted for a pinch runner.

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29. Buckner Makes a Blunder
October 25, 1986: Baseball has plenty of heroes, but Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s failure to field a routine ground ball in the 1986 World Series unfortunately makes him the one of the game’s all-time goats. With a comfortable 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6 (and a series lead of 3-2), Boston allows the Mets to tie it up. Mookie Wilson’s ground ball to first looks like the game will go to the 11th, but Buckner (playing on bad ankles) lets the ball roll between his legs as the winning run scores. It not only propels the Mets to an improbable Game 6 victory, but opens the door for them to win the Series in seven. “It’s a shame that Buckner, who was a very fine player for many years,” says John Thorn, the MLB’s official historian, “is now remembered for one play.”

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28. Luis Gonzalez”s World Series Walkoff
November 4, 2001: Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez hit 57 home runs in 2001, but it was a blooped single behind second base that went down as his most important hit of a memorable year. The single, off Yankees close extraordinaire Mariano Rivera, drove in the winning run in Game 7 of the ‘01 World Series, among the most dramatic Series ever.With three games in New York just 7 weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the Series pitted the explosive Yankee offense against Arizona pitchers Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. The two starters combined for a 1.40 ERA and all four wins, including three by Johnson.But the final act belonged to Gonzalez.”He told me later that was like an out-of-body experience,” former Diamondbacks GM Joe Garagiola Jr. told the Denver Post. “It was just like he dreamed as a little boy in Tampa—except he was supposed to be winning the game for the Yankees.”

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27. Satchel Paige”s Big-League Debut
July 9, 1948: Forty-two-year-old Satchel Paige makes his first appearance in the major leagues—a relief stint with the Cleveland Indians. “While Jackie Robinson had broken the color line the year before, Paige represented something else: a Hall-of-Fame-quality pitcher denied his chance on baseball’s biggest stage until the very end of his career,” says Joseph Wallace, author of Grand Old Game and The Baseball Anthology. At least Paige—who was inducted into the Hall in 1971—got to pitch in the majors; other great Negro League players, including Josh Gibson and Ray Oscar Charleston, never had the chance.

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26. Seaver”s Strong Finish
April 22, 1970: Mets’ righty Tom Seaver got off to a rocky start by his standards, allowing a run on two hits through the first five innings against the San Diego Padres. With two down in the sixth, he finally found his rhythm. Seaver struck out the final 10 batters he faced. “It’s not just that he did it, but that he did it to finish a game when you’d think he would be getting tired,” said Richard Puerzer, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. “He went through the lineup more than once and struck out every single person.” Seaver finished the game with 19 strikeouts.

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25. Cadore and Oeschger Go the Distance
May 1, 1920: The Brooklyn Robins scored a run in the fifth inning, and the Boston Braves matched it in the sixth. Twenty scoreless innings later, the game was called due to darkness—a relief to Brooklyn’s Leon Cadore and Boston’s Joe Oeschger, both of whom pitched the entire 26 innings. “That’s a game that’ll never be broken,” says Neil Lanctot, author of three books on baseball, including Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella. “ developed a sore arm from that performance and was never the same pitcher.” Remarkably, the whole affair—nearly three full games—was over in three hours and 50 minutes.

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24. The Atlantics Come Back
June 14, 1870: The Brooklyn Atlantics pull off the impossible when the team roars back against the Cincinatti Redstockings in extra innings. When the Reds score two runs in the top of the 11th inning, it appears victory is theirs. But Brooklyn scores three in the bottom frame thanks to a disputed play in which a ball that’s hit to right field rolls into the roped-in crowd. Fans may or may not interfere with Reds right fielder Cal McVey while Brooklyn scores the winning run, ending an epic, 84-game winning streak and cementing the Atlantics as the National League’s new behemoth. “It is the greatest game ever played,” says John Thorn, the MLB’s official historian, “because up until that point, the Reds hadn’t been defeated in more than two years.”

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23. Rick Monday Saves the American Flag
April 25, 1976: Rick Monday was a US Marine for 6 years, which made him uniquely qualified to be patrolling center field for the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on April 25, 1976.Monday noticed two protesters in left-centerfield, preparing to burn the American flag. He swooped over and snatched the flag from them.”I was angry when I saw them start to do something to the flag, and I”m glad that I happened to be geographically close enough to do something about it,” Monday told the Washington Post.Later in 1976, Dodgers exec Al Campanis gave the flag to Monday. He still has it—as well as a place as a real American hero.”I know the people were very pleased to see Monday take the flag away from those guys,” Manny Mota, who played with Monday, told the Post. “I know Rick has done a lot of good things as a player and as a person. But what he did for his country, he will be remembered for the rest of his life as an American hero.”

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22. Duffy Takes a Leap of Faith
August 6, 1897: Hugh Duffy of the Boston Beaneaters made the greatest catch anyone had ever seen in the (then relatively short) history of baseball. Baltimore pitcher Joe Corbett hit a surprising line drive to left field, and Duffy, playing in, immediately set back and leapt into the air, snagging the ball over his shoulder with his bare hand. He then made a perfect throw home, nipping Baltimore’s Joe Quinn, who tried to score from second on a sacrifice fly. “Everyone comments on how great Willie Mays’ catch was, but people have forgotten all about Duffy, who made an incredibly similar play,” says John Thorn, MLB’s official historian.

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21. Bucky Bleeping Dent
October 2, 1978: The Yankees and Red Sox both finished the season 99-63, and the American League East came down to a one-game playoff. Boston held a 2-0 lead heading into the seventh inning when, with two men on, light-hitting Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent smacked a Mike Torrez pitch over Fenway’s Green Monster. “Baseball is very democratic,” says Richard Puerzer, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.” It allows for superstars to do a whole lot, but it also allows for guys like Bucky Dent to do something.” The Yankees took a 3-2 lead, ultimately winning the game, 5-4. They went on to win the World Series over the Dodgers in six games.

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