By Glen Sparks
Game 1 of the 2016 World Series begins tonight in Cleveland. The Indians take on the Chicago Cubs. One team will end up celebrating its first World Series title in quite awhile. The Indians last won one in 1948, the Cubs way back in 1908. Who will be the Series hero? Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo? Andrew Miller or Francisco Lindor? Stay tuned. Check out my article and slide show about some World Series immortals from the past.
The great right-hander from Factoryville, Pa., finished just 5-5 in Series play. He still posted a microscopic 0.97 ERA in 11 starts and 101 2/3 innings for the Giants. Mathewson pitched his best in 1905 against the A’s, going 3-0 over 27 scoreless innings.
The Cubs put together a dynasty of sorts in the early 1900, thanks in part to Orval Overall. The 6-foot-2 inch right-hander from California pitched in four Series. He did his finest work in 1908 against the Tigers, going 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA. Overall allowed just seven hits in 18 2/3 innings as Chicago celebrated a second straight world title..
“Home Run” Baker led the A’s to World Series titles in 1910, 1911 and 1913. He hit three home runs in the three Series and batted .409, .375, and .450, respectively.
Collins played in six World Series, four with the A’s and two with the White Sox. He batted better than .400 in three of them and stole a total of 14 bases.
Gowdy went 0-4 in the 1923 World Series for the Giants. He hit a pedestrian .259 in the 1924 Series. His big Series came in 1914 with the Boston Braves. Gowdy helped Boston to a championship over the A’s, batting .545 with a .688 on-base percentage.
The Iron Horse crushed several big hits in the 1928 World Series against the Cardinals. He batted .545 with four home runs (.706 on-base percentage and a 1.718 slugging percentage) as New York swept St. Louis. Gehrig knocked 10 home runs with 35 RBI in 119 Series at-bats.
George Leonard Roosevelt “Pepper” Martin, the “Wild Horse of the Osage,” batted .418 in Series play (55 at-bats), the top average for any player with at least 50 at-bats. The Cardinals’ third baseman and outfielder hit .500 (12-24) in the 1931 World Series against the A’s.
Ruth belted 15 home runs in the World Series. None was more famous than the one he hit in Game 3 of the 1932 Series against the Cubs. Legend says the Yankee great stepped out the batter’s box, pointed to the center-field bleachers and called his shot. We know he hit a home run to centerfield. The Babe also did some fine work on the mound. He started three World Series games for the Red Sox early in his career (1916 and 1918), going 3-0 and with a 0.87 ERA.
The Dodgers’ left-handed slugger hit 11 home runs in five Series. He belted four homers in the 1952 Fall Classic and four more in ’55, the year Brooklyn finally won it all.
The Dodgers and Giants ruled the National League for much of the 1950s. The Milwaukee Braves broke up that two-team dynasty in 1957 and ’58. Hammerin’ Hank led the way for Milwaukee. He batted .393 with three home runs and seven RBI as the Braves beat the Yankees in ‘57. Aaron hit .313 in a losing cause in the 1958 rematch.
Gibson, from Omaha, Neb., relied on a blazing fastball and wicked slider to go 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA in Series play. The right-hander threw eight complete games in his nine starts and won Game 7 starts in 1964 and 1967. Gibson struck out 17 Tigers in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series.
Mr. October won Series MVPs for the 1973 A’s and the 1977 Yankees. Jackson belted 10 homers in Series play, including three in Game 6 of the ’77 match-up against the Dodgers. He posted a .755 slugging percentage in 98 World Series at-bats.