Yahoo Contributor Network
This article was created on the Yahoo Contributor Network, where users like you are published on Yahoo every day. Learn more »Yahoo Contributor Network
Top 10 postseason walk-off home runs
The thrill of winning a championship or playoff series brings players, teams, and their fans a sense of joy that few other moments in sports can duplicate. To win the game or series with a walk-off home run makes the excitement unbeatable. Here are my top ten postseason walk-off home runs.
With the score tied at 6, Chicago White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik led off the bottom of the ninth by hitting a 2-1 pitch over the centerfield fence to defeat the Houston Astros 7-6. Podsednik had not hit a home run all season in 507 at bats. The New York Mets' Robin Ventra's shot officially counted as a single because he did not round the bases, but in our hearts, he hit a 15th-inning walk-off grand slam to send the NLCS back to Atlanta for Game 6. Derek Jeter's October 31-turned-November 1, 2001, walk-off home run just after midnight tied the series at two games apiece and earned Jeter the nickname "Mr. November" in the first-ever Major League action to occur in November.
In a series of baseball's fiercest rivalry, New York Yankees' third baseman Aaron Boone led off the bottom of the 11th by slamming Tim Wakefield's(notes) first-pitch knuckle ball over the fence down the left-field line. With that shot, the Yankees won the game 6-5 and the series 4-3. They denied the Boston Red Sox their first World Series appearance since 1986. The Red Sox would get revenge the next season by winning four straight after losing the first three against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
#9 - Steve Garvey, 1984 NLCS Game 4
To the detriment of all Chicago Cubs fans, San Diego Padres first baseman Steve Garvey hammered one over the right-centerfield fence to cap a 4-for-5, 5 RBI night and send the best-of-five series to a decisive Game 5. Garvey saved the series for the Padres, who won Game 5 to advance to the World Series and deny the Cubs' bid in their first postseason appearance since 1945.
#8 - Ozzie Smith, 1985 NLCS Game 5
Switch-hitting shortstop Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals had not hit a home run batting left handed in well over 3000 at bats in his entire career. However, with a 1-2 count, Smith made history and gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the first ever best-of-seven NLCS. The Cardinals then won Game 6 in Los Angeles on another ninth-inning home run from slugger Jack Clark. The Cardinals lost the World Series to the Kansas City Royals in seven games following a very controversial call in Game 6.
#7 - Chris Chambliss, 1976 ALCS Game 5
With the score tied at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth of the decisive Game 5, Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss blasted Kansas City Royals pitcher Mark Littell's first pitch into the Yankee bullpen. The walk-off home run sent the Yankees to their first World Series since 1964. So many fans rushed onto the field in celebration that Chambliss did not even touch home plate. He rounded third and dashed straight for the clubhouse to avoid the massive crowd. Chambliss later said that he went back out after the crowd finally left and put his foot into the empty hole where home plate used to sit.
#6 - Kirby Puckett, 1991 World Series Game 6
As part of one of the best World Series ever, Game 6 between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves had its share of thrills. In the bottom of the 11th, Twins centerfielder Kirby Puckett blasted a 2-1 offering from the Braves' Charlie Leibrandt over the left center field fence to tie the series at 3-3 and force Game 7. To make this walk-off home run even more amazing, Puckett earlier made an incredible leaping catch in the eighth to stop a potential Braves rally before it started. He also had three total hits and drove in three of the Twins' four runs. Puckett left baseball and then this world far too early.
#5 - Carlton Fisk, 1975 World Series Game 6
Arguably the best single game ever played, Game 6 went well into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk sent 1-0 pitch from Cincinnati Reds pitcher Pat Darcy high over the Big Green Monster at Fenway Park. The left field camera caught Fisk jumping down the first base line and waiving the ball fair. The ball hit the screen for a walk-off home run that tied the Series at three games apiece. The Reds won Game 7 the next night to break the Red Sox's bid the end their World Series victory drought.
#4 - Kirk Gibson, 1988 World Series Game 1
In 1988, Los Angeles Dodger left fielder Kirk Gibson won the National League MVP but injured himself in the NLCS. He came up as a pinch hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. With two injured legs, Gibson hobbled to the plate and took two very sad-looking swings against Oakland A's closer Dennis Eckersley. Gibson fouled off some pitches and ran the count full. He then hit a 3-2 backdoor slider over the right field fence for a game-winning two-run home run. His fist pump as he rounded the bases remains a highlight still today. Gibson did not play in any other game in that series, but the Dodgers won it in five games.
#3 - Bobby Thomson, 1951 National League Playoff, Game 3
In Game 3 of a best-of-three playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, the Giants' Bobby Thomson hit the infamous Shot Heard Round the World to put the Giants in the World Series. Thomson hit the Dodgers' Ralph Branca's pitch into the left field stands to cap a comeback from twelve games behind late in the season. Announcer Russ Hodges' cry of "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" remains one of the most famous calls in baseball history.
#2 - Joe Carter, 1993 World Series Game 6
Many will argue putting Thompson's home run third behind this one, but Toronto Blue Jay Joe Carter's walk-off won the 1993 World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies. With his team down 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Carter became only the second player ever to end the World Series with a walk-off home run. He sent a Mitch Williams 2-2 slider over the left field fence at then-named Sky dome to give Toronto its second consecutive World Series championship.
#1 - Bill Mazeroski, 1960 World Series Game 7
In the three Yankee wins in this series, the Yankees scored 38 runs. In Game 7, the Yankees had just scored two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 9-9. Pittsburgh Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth with the first-ever World Series-ending walk-off home run to give the Pirates the trophy. Mazeroski - known more for his glove than bat - averaged only eight home runs per year, but this one became a legend.
Baseball Reference, individual game pages (linked above), baseball-reference.com.
Baseball Almanac, The Shot Heard Round the World Box Score, baseball-almanac.com.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. He currently coaches Little League in Florida. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly baseball radio call-in show.
More from this contributor:
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.