Playing in Game 7, now that's cool

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter (R) talks to pitching coach Dave Duncan during...

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter (R) talks to pitching coach Dave Duncan during the second inning in Game 7 in St. Louis, (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

Bob Elliott, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

ST. LOUIS - Leaving a post-game reception after Game 7 of the 1987 World Series I spotted then St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog talking to people wearing cardinal blazers.

Obviously well wishers.

The Minnesota Twins had knocked off the Cards 4-2 in the deciding game.

After waiting a few of minutes to congratulate Herzog on his season, the manager came over and said ... “can you imagine that? The guy just said to me ‘tough year, Whitey, like two years ago, tough year.’ ”

In 1985, the Cards were victim to a bad call by first base umpire Don Denkinger as lead-off man Jorge Orta reached first. First baseman Jack Clark misplayed a pop as the Kansas City Royals rallied to win Game 6 on Dane Iorg’s single.

The next the night, the Royals dismantled the Cards 11-0.

“How many teams at the start of spring training would like to play in Game friggin’ 7 of the World friggin’ Series?” Herzog asked. “I’ll take my chances getting to Game friggin’ 7 every year.”

Well, the Texas Rangers and the Cards played Game friggin’ 7 Friday night. 

Best game ever

John Thorn, major league baseball’s official historian, puts Game 6 in the top five ever ... along with:

1960, Game 7: Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski homers off New York Yankees’ Ralph Terry leading off the bottom of the ninth for the first walk-off homer and a 10-9 win. “That game had flaws, bad fielding plus the pitching,” said Thorn. Jim Coates failed to cover first on a Roberto Clemente grounder before Hal Smith hit a three-run homer in the eighth. “I don’t think Casey Stengel was at the top of his game. The Yankees outscored the Pirates (55-27) and lost.” 

1912, Game 8: Boston Red Sox starter Smokey Joe Wood won Games 1 and 4, but allowed six in the first inning of Game 7 to the New York Giants. “In Game 8 — earlier they had a tie — Boston started rookie Hugh Bedient against Christy Mathewson. Bedient pitched seven and they brought in Wood in a 1-1 game. Wood gave up a run in the 10th and Boston scored two in the bottom half, so Wood finished the season 37-6. “Fred Snodgrass dropped a ball in centre,” Thorn said, “much like David Freese did.”

1924, Game 7: Washington Senators’ Walter Johnson lost Game 1 and Game  5 against the Giants, after compiling a 23-7 won-loss record. “Johnson comes in, it’s 3-3 in the ninth and pitches four scoreless. That was the pebble game, the ball hit a pebble, bouncing over the head of third baseman of Freddie Lindstrom. I wish I’d seen that game.”   

1947, Game 4: Yankees’ Bill Bevens took a no-hit bit into the bottom of the ninth despite walking 10 Brooklyn Dodgers. “Cookie Lavagetto doubles off the fence for a two-run double,” Thorn said. “Lavagetto and Bevens never played again after that year.”

My choice: And to be the greatest game ever you have to be a Game 7 to qualify: Jack Morris’ 10 scoreless for the Minnesota Twins blanking the Atlanta Braves in 1991. Next, Luis Gonzalez single over a drawn-in infield off Mariano Rivera to give the Arizona Diamondbacks the 2001 Series over the Yanks; Edgar Renteria singling in the 11th to give the 1997 Florida Marlins a win over the Cleveland Indians. Willie Stargell homering in Game 6 as the ‘We Are Family’ Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles in 1979 and Mazeroski hitting the walkoff in 1960 (listening on my transistor radio tucked inside my shirt pocket, ear piece covered by my left hand, I thrust my right hand in the air, saying “YES!). Mrs Lake: “Elliott! Detention.”

Game 6

Now, if you want to talk about a list of games with terms of description like breathtaking, amazing, unbelievable, dramatic, memorable madness, fabulous or in the words of the late Cards announcer Jack Buck “I don’t believe what I just saw” ... well, that was Game 6 won by Freese’s walk-off homer. The Cards scoring in the ninth, 10th and 11th, the Rangers blowing saves in ninth and 10th a strike away from their first World Series in franchise history. The site WhoWins.com, points out of 41 home teams trailing by three runs after seven in a best-of-seven post-season series, 40 lost (the 2008 Red Sox rallied against Tampa Bay in the ALCS). This game rivalled Arizona being a strike away from winning when Tino Martinez hit a two-out homer in the ninth and Derek Jeter did the same in the 10th.  

So close

Clubhouse attendants covered the lockers in the Rangers clubhouse to protect clothes and uniform from the champagne showers in the ninth inning. Then after Freese’s two-run, two-strike triple tore everything down and removed the champagne. After Josh Hamilton’s two-run homer in the 10th they put it all up again, only to rip it down when the Cards tied the store ... Said Rangers GM Jon Daniels “I went into the laundry room to compose myself for a second after the game ... there were the champagne bottles.” So near and yet so far. 


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