The 1991 World Series was the eighty-ninth year overall, and eighty-eighth played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. This series gets my vote for the greatest of all time – both teams were chasing history, the games were great, and the Series bookends so well with the one four years before that.
(The 1991 World Series logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)
1991 World Series
Minnesota Twins (AL) over Atlanta Braves (NL), 4-3
Managers: Tom Kelly (Minnesota); Bobby Cox (Atlanta)
Hall of Famers
Minnesota: Jack Morris, Kirby Puckett
Atlanta: John Schuerholz (executive), Bobby Cox (manager), Tom Glavine, John Smoltz
Series MVP: Jack Morris, P (Minnesota)
1991 saw a new style of music emerge – grunge rock. Nirvana released their iconic album Nevermind, and Kurt Cobain helped kick off the naughty ’90s. R.E.M. released one of their best albums, Out of Time, featuring their hit song “Losing My Religion.” Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, the only horror film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
This year is considered the end of the Cold War. The fifteen republic that made up the Soviet Union splintered off, and Yugoslavia was about to do the same as the decade went on. The United States fought Iraq in the Gulf War, which would be America’s most recent military success to date. Whitney Houston sang a memorable national anthem at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Super Bowl. In one of the closest Super Bowls of all time, the Giants beat the Bills 20-19, with Scott Norwood narrowly missing a game-winning field goal for the Bills. Musician Ed Sheeran was born, and Dr. Seuss and Miles Davis both died.
AIDS came to the forefront in 1991 after two immense celebrities made announcements about their diagnosis, and within the same month. On November 7, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson called a press conference. In one of sports most memorable moments, Magic made the following announcement: “Because of…the HIV virus that I have attained…I will have to retire from the Lakers today…” The announcement sent shock waves through both basketball and America, and opened the doors about the health risks. Although the stigma was still there, Magic showed that HIV/AIDS can happen to anybody.
(Magic Johnson’s announcement about his HIV diagnosis. Photo courtesy of ABC News.)
On November 23, Freddie Mercury also called a conference to the British media. He announced that he had been battling AIDS for several years. The next day, Mercury died at the age of 45. Rock music had lost a legend.
On the diamond, May 1 marked a huge day. In the Bay Area, Oakland outfielder Rickey Henderson passed Hall of Famer Lou Brock with stolen base number 939. Henderson, nicknamed “The Man of Steal,” would go on to over 1,000 in his career. In his speech, he said, “Today, I am the greatest.” But another moment took top billing that day.
(Rickey Henderson passes Lou Brock for career stolen bases – number 939. Photo courtesy of http://www.360sportsblog.com)
In Arlington, 44-year-old Nolan Ryan was preparing to face the Toronto Blue Jays. Manager Bobby Valentine asked how he felt, but he said he wasn’t at his best. But the blue Jays couldn’t do anything that night. In a sixteen strikeout performance, Ryan was on his game, throwing his seventh and final career no-hitter, winning the game 3-0. Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar struck out to end the game.
(Nolan Ryan’s seventh no-hitter. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(The Texas Rangers carry Nolan Ryan off the field. Photo courtesy of http://www.thepitchingacademy.com)
The year saw six managers fired before the All-Star break, and a total of thirteen by season’s end. Seven no-hitters were thrown, including two using at least four pitchers, and Montreal’s Dennis Martinez threw a perfect game at Dodger Stadium. Andre Dawson became the second person (after Willie Mays) with 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases. Later in the year in Arlington, umpire Steve Palermo aided a woman from being mugged, but was shot and permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Two teams made a run for the pennant, both tremendously shocking.
After winning the World Series in 1987, the Minnesota Twins were in last only three years later. Many believed that Tom Kelly didn’t have it anymore. But in a shocking move, the Twins rebounded to win the division by eight games, this time going an amazing 95-67. In the AL West that year, every team in one division finished at least .500, including the last place California Angels, who went 81-81, the first time in baseball history that’s happened (it’s happened only one other time since). Kirby Puckett was his usual self, and Jack Morris came over from the Tigers to anchor the pitching staff.
The other one was more surprising. The previous season, Atlanta Braves manager Russ Nixon was fired and replaced by Bobby Cox, who had once managed the Braves and was working in the front office. John Schuerholz was relieved of his duties as GM of the Kansas City Royals in the offseason, and Ted Turner took a chance on him. Cox harnessed the left arm of Tom Glavine, who won 20 games and the Cy Young Award. John Smoltz also won 14, and Steve Avery went 18-8. Third baseman Terry Pendleton won the batting title and MVP award for the Braves. And just like the Twins, they went from last the previous season to first the next, winning the NL West by one game over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The ALCS featured the Twins against the AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays. Against conventional wisdom, Jays manager Cito Gaston started knuckleballer Tom Candiotti over established aces Juan Guzman and Jimmy Key. It would prove to be the wrong choice, as Minnesota hit Candiotti early and often, and despite a late Toronto rally, won the first game 5-4, with Jack Morris getting the win.
The Blue Jays solved the Metrodome jinx the next day, with Juan Guzman beating Kevin Tapani 5-2, evening the ALCS. To win the ALCS, Minnesota had to win at least one game on the road. They would do that and more.
Game 3 at the SkyDome saw the Blue Jays take an early 2-0 lead, including a Joe Carter homer. But the Twins got single runs in the fifth and sixth to tie the game. It would swing in the tenth inning, when Mike Pagliarulo hit a solo home run. The Twins led the series. Carter would injure his hamstring and be forced to play as DH for the last two games.
Jack Morris put the Twins on the precipice of their second pennant in five years. Kirby Puckett homered and several big hits propelled Minnesota to a 9-3 victory. Toronto was on the verge of elimination.
A three-run eighth inning, including a big hit from series MVP Kirby Puckett, clinched the pennant for Minnesota with an 8-5 victory in the fifth game.
(The Minnesota Twins win the ALCS. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
The NLCS would match the Braves and the Pirates. Opening in Three Rivers Stadium, the hometown Pirates took the first game 5-1. Doug Drabek went eight shutout innings, with Bob Walk giving up David Justice’s solo home run. Tom Glavine was the hard-luck loser, surrendering a home run to Andy Van Slyke to cap a huge day. Mark Lemke’s double in the top of the sixth inning Game 2 provided the only run, and the Braves tied the NLCS heading to Atlanta.
In Fulton County Stadium, Pittsburgh’s own twenty-game winner John Smiley was rocked for a four-run first, and John Smoltz had the first of his big game moments with a 10-3 win. The Pirates evened the series in Game 4, the only extra-inning game of the series. Atlanta scored two in the first on three singles and an error, before sloppy fielding helped the Pirates tie it after five. Mike LaValliere singled in Andy Van Slyke in the top of the tenth to give the Pirates a 3-2 win.
In Game 5, it was the Pirates’ turn to shock the Braves with a 1-0 win. A controversial play ensued when David Justice was believed to have scored, but was called out on appeal for missing third base. Jose Lind drove in the only run in the top of the fifth, and the Pirates were one win away heading home.
But the Braves wouldn’t go that easily. Steve Avery and Doug Drabek waged a pitching duel, leaving it scoreless into the top of the ninth. Ultimately, Greg Olson singled in Ron Gant to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. The Pirates put Gary Varsho on third representing the tying run, but Alejandro Pena got the Braves to a seventh game. There would be a seventh game at Three Rivers.
The Braves had a 27 inning scoreless streak going into the sixth game, and now the Pirates caught it, failing to score in each of the last 23 innings. Three first inning runs led to John Smoltz beating John Smiley. Brian Hunter homered for Atlanta, and for the first time since 1958, when they were in Milwaukee, the Braves were in the World Series. Both participants had finished last the year before, so the champion was guaranteed to be classified as “worst to first.”
(The Atlanta Braves clinch the 1991 NL pennant. Photo courtesy of mlb.com)
Game 1 opened in the Metrodome on October 19. Steve Palermo threw out the first ball. Jack Morris went for the Twins against Charlie Leibrandt for the Braves. The Twins opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Dan Gladden walked and stole second. Chuck Knoblauch, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors, drove in Gladden, although he got caught in a rundown and was tagged out to end the inning. As it turned out, Twins manager Tom Kelly had told Knoblauch to do it in order to prevent a throw to the plate. The Twins had a home run from Greg Gagne to make it 4-0 in the fifth inning, knocking Leibrandt from the game. The Twins almost had more, before Twins catcher Brian Harper lifted a fly ball to left field, with Gladden on third base and one out. Gladden tried to bowl over catcher Greg Olson, but Olson held onto the ball and the inning was over. The momentum flipped Olson over, but the inning was over as well.
(The momentum of Dan Gladden flipped Greg Olson over, but Olson held onto the ball. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
The Braves finally scored one inning later when Ron Gant drove in Jeff Treadway. But a Kent Hrbek solo home run gave the Twins an insurance run, and Atlanta was only able to get one more of their own. The opening game went to the Twins, 5-2, with Rick Aguilera picking up a four-out save.
The second game matched Hall of Famer Tom Glavine against Kevin Tapani. In this case, Tapani won the battle, despite his less-than-stellar MLB career. A fielding error led to a Chili Davis two-run homer to give Minnesota a 2-0 first inning lead. The Braves would chip away and get back in it, albeit not without controversy. After scoring a run in the second, the Braves were batting in the top of the third when Lonnie Smith reached on an error by Scott Leuis. Ron Gant ripped a single, and Smith tried for third. A wild throw allowed Smith to advance to third, but then Gant was caught in a rundown in between first and second. Heading back into first base, Gant and Hrbek became entangled with each other, and it appeared that Hrbek deliberately pulled Gant’s foot off of the bag, and tagged him out. First base umpire Drew Coble said that Gant was responsible for the confusion, and he would have tripped over the bag anyway. Fans didn’t buy it – they felt that Hrbek had gotten away with one, reminiscent of Game 7 four years earlier with the obstruction non-call.
(Kent Hrbek appears to pull Ron Gant off of first base in a controversial Game 2 play. Photo courtesy of http://www.twinkietown.com)
In any event, the Braves didn’t score and momentum was lost. They would manage to tie the game anyway in the fifth on a Rafael Belliard sacrifice fly. The score stayed the same until the bottom of the eighth inning, after Atlanta had wasted a scoring chance. People believe that Glavine got frustrated, because light-hitting Leuis came up. He smacked Glavine’s pitch for a home run, giving the Twins a shocking 3-2 lead. The lead held up, and again, the Twins were halfway home. The first two games were both good, perhaps very good. There was more to come.
Heading to Atlanta, Tom Kelly would be unable to use the designated hitter. T.K. compared it to rocket science as they headed to Game 3. The Braves needed a victory to get back in the Series, but it started off poorly. For the second straight game, David Justice misplayed a fly ball in the first inning, giving Dan Gladden a cheap triple. A sacrifice fly scored Gladden to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. This time, the Braves fought back. Belliard drove in Olson to tie the game, and Justice atoned for his mistake with Atlanta’s first home run to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. Lonnie Smith homered and the Braves added another earned run off of Minnesota’s bullpen. It was 4-1 Atlanta. But the Twins rallied back to tie the game. After Kirby Puckett homered in the top of the seventh to make it 4-2, a tiring Steve Avery was sent out to try to keep the lead. He couldn’t, and reliever Alejandro Pena allowed a game-tying two run home run to Chili Davis.
Because both teams used replacements and switches, T.K. ran out of players as the game went to extra innings. In the top of the twelfth inning, Gladden singled with one out. Mark Lemke then booted a double-play grounder, and Kent Mercker was sent in to pitch to Hrbek. Hrbek struck out, but Knoblauch stole second. They walked Puckett intentionally, and Rick Aguilera was forced to hit for himself. A former infielder, Aguilera wasn’t terrible, but flied out to center field to end the threat. Kelly had to use Aguilera, his last pitcher available. In the bottom of the twelfth, David Justice singled and stole second. With two outs, Mark Lemke came to bat, hoping to atone for his error. He sliced a single to left, and Justice went to the plate. The throw was slightly off, and Justice slid around the tag to win the game for the Braves, 5-4. In the first game in the Deep South in World Series history, Atlanta was alive under dramatic circumstances.
(David Justice scores the winning run in Game 3. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
The Braves were not going to be swept, but needed a win to keep momentum going. Jack Morris and John Smoltz faced off. Smoltz had idolized Morris as a boy in Detroit, and now was pitching against him in the Series. Minnesota scored first on a double by Mike Pagliarulo. In the third, after years of postseason frustration, league MVP Terry Pendleton tied it for Atlanta with a solo home run. In the fifth, two key plays hurt the Braves. It looked like Kirby Puckett was going to catch a lazy fly ball with nobody out. But Puckett misplayed it, and as a result, Lonnie Smith broke late from second base. Smith attempted to score, but Puckett threw home to Harper. Smith attempted to bowl over him, but Harper held onto the ball. Out at home! Pendleton was forced to hold at third.
(Despite his best efforts, Lonnie Smith is unable to jar the ball loose from Brian Harper’s glove. Photo courtesy of http://www.twinkietown.com)
On the next pitch, Morris uncorked a wild pitch. Harper retrieved it and raced to try to tag Pendleton. Out again! Just like that, Morris was off the hook. He got Justice to pop up and the inning was over.
Pagliarulo homered to give the Twins a 2-1 lead in the seventh, and the Twins were nine outs away from being up 3-1 in the Series. But Lonnie Smith rocked Carl Willis for a home run to tie the game at 2-2. The game remained tied heading into the bottom of the ninth. Mark Guthrie was on the mound for Minnesota.
After an out, Lemke tripled deep to center. The winning run was ninety feet away. Jeff Blauser was walked intentionally to set up a double play. Steve Bedrosian was brought in to try to force extra innings, as Jerry Willard came up to pinch hit. Willard lofted a fly ball to right fielder Shane Mack. Lemke tagged from third. It was thought to be deep enough to score. But Mack’s throw to Harper was actually a pretty good one. It looked like he had gotten Lemke in time…only her forgot to tag him with the ball, as is the rule. Safe at home! Despite protests, home plate umpire Terry Tata called Lemke safe, a call that was upheld on replays. The Braves had tied the Series, winning Game 4, 3-2.
(Mark Lemke scores the winning run in Game 4. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Game 5 was the only blowout of the Series. It was a rematch between Tapani and Glavine, and this time, Glavine got revenge. Justice, Smith, and Brian Hunter all homered, and the Braves scored four in the fourth and six in the seventh. The final score was 14-5 Atlanta. After falling behind in the first two games, the Braves now led the series. A banner said “Three at home, one in the Dome,” with the teams heading back to Minnesota for Game 6. Easier said than done, though. Just ask the ’87 Cardinals. They were in the same situation. If the Braves were going to do it, their destiny was in their hands.
Before Game 6, Kirby Puckett called a team meeting in the Twins’ locker room. He said, “Guys, jump on my back. I’ll carry you today.”
Keeping their three-man rotation, it would be up to Scott Erickson to keep the Twins alive. Steve Avery would go for the Braves. Atlanta put two runners on in the top of the first, but didn’t score. Puckett came through early, tripling in Chuck Knoblauch. Shane Mack broke an 0-15 slump by singling in Puckett, and after one inning, the Twins were up 2-0.
In the top of the third, Pendleton reached first base. Ron Gant came to bat, and hit a deep drive. Puckett raced back, and made a spectacular catch against the 13-foot high fiberglass in left center. He almost doubled Pendleton off base, but the latter was just able to get back. The Twins were still in the lead. Atlanta had been missing scoring chances.
(Kirby Puckett’s catch keeps the Twins in the lead in Game 6. Photo courtesy of http://www.bringmethenews.com)
The Braves finally broke through after a heads-up base running play by Rafael Belliard, whose fierce slide prevented a double play. Pendleton followed with a game-tying two run homer. On the next at-bat, it looked like Justice would give the Braves the lead with another home run, but it curved foul at the last second. Erickson bore down and retired Justice. But the Braves were back in it.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Twins re-took the lead after Gladden walked, stole second, Knoblauch singled, and Puckett hit a sacrifice fly. In the top of the seventh, the Braves loaded the bases with one out, after a wild pitch by Guthrie early in the inning. With Ron Gant at bat, Carl Willis was brought in. Gant hit a double play grounder, and they got Pendleton at second. But Gant beat the throw to first, and Lemke scored. It was 3-3. The Braves had tied it again.
Game 6 went into extra innings. Neither team did any real damage through the eighth, ninth, or tenth. In the bottom of the eleventh, Bobby Cox brought in Charlie Leibrandt to pitch to Puckett. Leibrandt had a history of choking in the World Series, and was ineffective in Game 1, and moved to the bullpen for the rest of the Series. Would he redeem himself?
Chili Davis was in the on-deck circle. Puckett told him he planned to bunt to lead off the inning. Davis responded: “Bunt my ass! Hit it out and let’s go home!” Puckett worked the count to 2-1. Leibrandt came high and away. Puckett swung, golfing a fly ball to deep left field. Twins play-by-play man John Gordon called it: “Touch ’em all, Kirby Puckett! Touch ’em all!” National announcer Jack Buck also made a legendary call – “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” There would be a seventh game in the Metrodome. And once again, Charlie Leibrandt was the goat.
(Touch ’em all, Kirby Puckett! The hero of Game 6 rounds the bases after his walk-off home run. Photo courtesy of http://www.twinkietown.com)
Oftentimes, in an epic sixth game, the seventh game is often anticlimactic, because the losing team is so demoralized from the night before that it can’t focus. This was not the case for this year’s seventh and final game. If anything, this game was better.
It would be Jack Morris against John Smoltz in the finale, a rematch of Game 4. Before the first at-bat of game one, Braves leadoff hitter Lonnie Smith shook hands with catcher Brian Harper, to make up for their collision in Game 4. It would be a sign of things to come.
Neither team had a chance until the third inning, when Gladden doubled and advanced to third on a fly ball. But in a matchup of two Hall of Famers, Smoltz struck out Puckett to end the threat. The Braves had a chance in the fifth, when Mark Lemke reached third with one out. But Morris came through as well, retiring Pendleton on a pop up and striking out Ron Gant. Inning over. No score.
It stayed scoreless into the top of the eighth inning. Here, the Braves would fall prey to a trick. Lonnie Smith was on first to lead off the inning. Manager Bobby Cox put on the hit-and-run sign, and Pendleton responded. He slammed a double into the gap in left-center field. But because of the design of the Metrodome, Smith lost his bearings for just a second. Knoblauch and Greg Gagne appeared to start a 6-4-3 double play as Smith rounded second. Smith fell for it. He hesitated, then realized the ball was in the outfield. Pendleton reached second, expecting the Braves to be in the lead. But Smith’s delay held him up at third. Pendleton to this day never really forgave or forgot it. According to Smith, he didn’t fall for the decoy, but thought the ball would be caught. I find it hard to believe. Incidentally, Smith may not have been the goat. On a 1-2 pitch, Morris jammed Pendleton and thought he had swung and missed for strike three. But again, Don Denkinger made a famous call. He ruled that Pendleton had fouled the pitch off, and after checking with Tata at third, Pendleton was granted new life. In any event, the Braves had runners at second and third with nobody out. The title was theirs for the taking.
Morris bore down and got Gant to ground out to Hrbek at first. The runners held. Tom Kelly came out to the mound. Morris was annoyed, and was prepared to argue for T.K. not to take him out. Instead, Kelly said that he wanted to walk Justice intentionally to try to set up slow-running Sid Bream. Morris walked Justice intentionally. Bases loaded, one out. Bream took a ball and two strikes, then grounded to Hrbek. Hrbek threw to Harper at home for the force, who threw back to Hrbek at first base. Double play, inning over! Morris pumped his fist, and unbelievably, the Twins were out of the inning, with still no score. Smith’s gaffe was looming large.
(Kent Hrbek starts a clutch double play in Game 7. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Smoltz was just as good as good as Morris, but after two singles in the bottom of the eighth, Cox pulled him. New pitcher Mike Stanton followed Cox’s orders and walked Puckett intentionally. Now the Twins were in the same situation the Braves were in, with Hrbek coming to bat. Stanton had pitched Hrbek well, striking him out in each of their last three head-to-head appearances. Hrbek hit a soft line drive just to the right of second base. Mark Lemke caught it and raced to second base. Another double play! It wasn’t as pretty as Minnesota’s, but it got the job done. The Braves had escaped a jam of their own.
The Braves went down in order in the ninth. In Minnesota’s half, Chili Davis led off with a single (and almost missed first base in the process). Harper attempted to bunt to sacrifice pinch runner Jarvis Brown over, and it worked. Stanton had no play, and worse, was forced to leave the game with a pulled muscle in his back. First and second, nobody out. The Braves brought in Alejandro Pena to try to keep the Twins off the board. This time, Pena came through, getting Shane Mack to hit a ground ball. Double play again!! Three double plays in two innings kept both teams in the game. But the Twins had the winning run on third. Pena walked Pagliarulo intentionally to set up the force play. Pena bore down and struck out Paul Sorrento. Game 7 was going into extra innings for the first time since 1924. And it was still 0-0 as well.
Kelly wanted to pull Morris, but Morris was adamant to stay in. And it worked, as he retired the side in order. All in all, Morris threw ten innings, 126 pitches, no runs. One writer put that “Morris could have outlasted Methuselah.”
(Jack Morris gave an amazing performance in Game 7. Photo courtesy of CBS News.)
The Twins came to bat in the bottom of the tenth. Gladden led off with a broken bat bloop single in front of left fielder Brian Hunter, which took a strange hop, and Gladden reached second. Knoblauch followed with a sacrifice bunt. The Twins had the Series-winning run at third base with one out. Puckett was walked intentionally, and although he was struggling, so was Hrbek. Bases loaded with one out. Kelly was down to a choice – did he let Jarvis Brown hit for himself, or did he pinch-hit? Brown was not known as a hitter, but Kelly had only two options left – backup catcher Junior Ortiz or utility man Gene Larkin. Despite an ailing knee, Larkin was called into pinch hit. If the game continued, Larkin could continue as the DH, and wouldn’t have to play the field.
It would only last one pitch. With the defense in, any deep fly ball would win the game. On the first pitch, Larkin swung and hit a fly ball to left field. It went over Hunter’s head. No chance. Gladden came around to score. The Twins had won the World Series, in the best of circumstances: a 1-0 seventh game victory.
(Gene Larkin delivers the Series-winning hit. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Jack Morris had the game of his life. And one of the game’s most exciting World Series came to an end. The Braves couldn’t get it done. But they would be back. Tonight was the Twins’ night. They went from worst to first. It could be done.
(The Twins celebrate their second title in five years. Photo courtesy of ESPN.)
For the second time, the home team won all seven games. The Twins were involved in both series.
For the third time, both Series participants had a losing record the previous year. All three times involved the Twins – 1965, 1987, and 1991.
The Twins won their second title in Minnesota, third overall (they won as the Washington Senators in 1924), and most recent title to date.
For the first time since 1924, a World Series seventh game went to extra innings. The most recent one involved the Washington Senators, who later became the Twins in 1961.
The Twins franchise (including their time in Washington) has not won a World Series road game since Game 1 in 1925. They are 0-14 on the road since then.
Lonnie Smith played for his fourth different team in the World Series, in twelve years. This was the only one he lost of those four.
This was the final World Series where Fay Vincent presided as commissioner. The owners gave him a “no-confidence” vote the next year, opening the door for Bug Selig. It was also the last time Jack Buck was used as lead broadcaster in a World Series.
In the twenty-five years since this series, no World Series had gotten this high of a Nielsen rating – Game 6 drew a 24 rating, and Game 7 a 32.2.
In Game 1, Commissioner Vincent’s daughter Anne was hit on the head by a Kent Hrbek foul ball.
In almost every season David Justice played, his teams made the playoffs. He would play on two title winning teams – Atlanta in 1995, and the Yankees in 2000.
Twins broadcaster John Gordon (“touch ’em all, Kirby Puckett!”) would play a version of himself in the film Little Big League, where his character Wally Holland would inform the viewers of meaningless statistics.
Kirby Puckett was forced to retire in 1995 after undergoing effects of glaucoma. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first ballot in 2001. But it later emerged that his on-field persona was not what it seemed. He was apparently indicted on assault charges, as well as lewd conduct, although he was eventually cleared. Puckett died of a massive stroke in March 2006, eight days shy of his 46th birthday. He is the second-youngest Hall of Famer to die, and the youngest in the modern era (only Lou Gehrig died at a younger age).
Jack Morris is the only person to throw ten or more shutout innings in a World Series.
For the first time since 1962, and only the second time overall, a seventh game ended with a 1-0 scoreline.
Because of all the late-game heroics, and the stories behind both teams, this gets my vote for the best World Series ever played. The Twins would contend in 1992, but fail to defend their title, then slide into a slump, and wouldn’t be back in the playoffs until 2002. They haven’t made the World Series since. The Braves began a run of fourteen consecutive division titles, and would return to the Fall Classic the next year. But a long-maligned World Series performer, and future Hall of Famer (hint: his initials are D.W.) would permanently change his image.
References and Sources
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns
Little Big League (film)
The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…Bobby Cox (ESPN Classic)
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Seventh Game (Barry Levenson)
Showtime (Jeff Pearlman)
The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Andrew Postman, Larry Stone)
Sports Illustrated. “The Rise and Fall of Kirby Puckett.” March 17, 2003.