While it's uncertain when the 2020 Major League Baseball season will start, when it does, plenty of memories for fan bases across the game will be made. With that in mind, it might be the appropriate time to look back at some memorable games from the past.
Here's a look at our take of the greatest games in the history of each major league franchise.
It was perhaps the most emotional World Series ever played, less than two months following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. While the baseball world might have been rooting for the New York Yankees, it was the Diamondbacks who managed to win their first World Series. That memorable game came via Luis Gonzalez's RBI single in the bottom of ninth inning for a 3-2 victory in Game 7.
Many Braves fans probably can't remember the score of this home-opening victory (7-4) over the Los Angeles Dodgers . But all who remember it in real time won't forget that night. Hank Aaron clubbed a fourth-inning shot off Al Downing for career homer No. 715 . The legendary slugger passed the great Babe Ruth as Major League Baseball's all-time home run king — a mark he held until Barry Bonds hit No. 756 in 2007.
The Orioles have won three World Series during their existence, but many believe the greatest moment and game in club history was a 4-2 home win over the California Angels near the end of the 1995 season — not necessarily for the way the game unfolded but rather for the fact star Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's long-lasting mark by playing in his 2,131st consecutive contest. Ripken did not disappoint, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Sure, there are several worthy candidates when it comes to picking the greatest game in the storied history of the Red Sox (starting with the curse-breaking 2004 World Series clincher). However, it always seems to come back to Game 6 in 1975 — what many consider to be the greatest contest in World Series history. The image of Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair for his game-winning, 12th-inning solo homer off the foul pole at the corner of the Green Monster is etched in the minds of baseball fans of all generations.
It was fitting the Cubs needed an extra inning in Game 7 to end their 108-year World Series drought. However, after Cleveland tied the game on a two-run homer from Rajai Davis off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth and an odd 17-minute rain delay after the ninth, Chicago came through when it mattered most. Albert Almora's quick-thinking tag-up from first base, Ben Zobrist's tie-breaking double, Miguel Montero's insurance RBI and Kris Bryant's field of a slow grounder all helped end decades of frustration for a title-starved fan base with an 8-7 win.
En route to winning their first World Series title since 1917 (a sweep of the Houston Astros), the most memorable game of the series, and likely in White Sox history, came via a 7-6 thriller in Chicago. After the Astros scored twice in the ninth to make it 6-6, leadoff man Scott Podsednik, who did not hit a single homer during the regular season, connected for a solo shot to right-center field off Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth to give the Sox a 7-6 win.
One day after the heartbreak of losing Game 6, 7-6, in 12 innings at Boston, the Reds showed their mettle by bouncing back in Game 7. Down 3-0 entering the sixth inning, Cincinnati scored twice and then once more in the seventh to tie the game. In the ninth, Joe Morgan's bloop single to center scored Ken Griffey with the go-ahead run and the Reds held on for a 4-3 victory and their first World Series title since 1940.
Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948, but it is tied for the greatest comeback in Major League Baseball history . That came during the 2001 season at home vs. Seattle. The Mariners led, 12-0, after three innings and 14-2 through six. Then the Indians woke up, scoring 12 times over the seventh, eighth and ninth to force extra innings. In the 11th, Jolbert Cabrera drove home Kenny Lofton with a single to give Cleveland an improbable 15-14 win.
The most memorable season in Rockies history happened to feature one of the great regular-season finales that baseball has ever seen. Colorado scored three times in the bottom of the 13th inning of its wild-card tiebreaker. It capped an improbable comeback when Matt Holliday scored on Jamey Carroll's sacrifice fly for a 9-8 victory over the San Diego Padres en route to the Rockies' only World Series appearance to date.
It's fitting that we dig deep into the annals of Tigers baseball at a time when the great Al Kaline, who passed away on April 6, was leading the way. While Kaline's bat helped Detroit rout St. Louis in Game 6 to even this series, it was teammate Mickey Lolich who pitched the Tigers to the '68 title . In Game 7, Lolich outdueled the legendary Bob Gibson (scoreless game through six innings), allowing one run while throwing a complete-game gem for a 4-1 victory at St. Louis.
Regardless of what means the Astros needed to win their first World Series title, they got it done. And the importance of winning that crazy Game 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers can't be understated. With the series tied 2-2, the Astros fell behind, 3-0, and also overcame a deficit of 7-4 and rebounded from blowing a three-run lead in the ninth by winning, 13-12, on a run-scoring single from Alex Bregman in the bottom of the 11th.
Perhaps the greatest moment in Royals history was the worst in the storied annals of the St. Louis Cardinals. First-base umpire Don Denkinger's blown safe call on Jorge Orta's grounder in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6 opened the door for Kansas City to rally for two runs and tie the series with a 2-1 victory — and ultimately go on to a Game 7 rout for its first World Series title.
Down 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants and trailing, 5-0, after 6 1/2 innings of Game 6, the Angels' World Series-title hopes were fading. Then the Rally Monkey was awakened, and the greatest 2 1/2 innings of Angels baseball took place. Scott Spiezio's three-run homer in the seventh made things interesting, and Troy Glaus' double scored two to highlight a three-run eighth and help then-Anaheim pull out a comeback 6-5 win and pave the way for a 4-1 Game 7 title victory.
Six World Series titles in Dodger history, and the last might be the most memorable, as it certainly featured one of the great World Series games. In storybook fashion, an ailing and gimpy Kirk Gibson stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, with Los Angeles trailing by a run and star Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley on the mound. In seemingly improbable fashion, Gibson belted a two-run homer, igniting a frenzy at Dodger Stadium and sending the home team to a 5-4 victory.
Just five years into their existence, the Marlins were World Series champions. However, they needed one of the most thrilling Game 7s in the history of the Fall Classic to get it done. Down 2-0 to Cleveland for most of the game, the Marlins tied it on Craig Counsell's sacrifice fly in the ninth. Counsell then scored the winning run on Edgar Renteria's memorable single in the bottom of the 11th for the 3-2 victory.
Back when they were members of the American League, the Brewers trailed the California Angels 2-0 in the best-of-five AL championship series. However, the series was in Milwaukee for the final three games, and the Brewers made the most of their home surroundings. After falling behind 3-2 in Game 5 , Cecil Cooper put Milwaukee ahead with a two-run single in the seventh inning and held on for a 4-3 win that punched the franchise's only World Series ticket.
The Twins wrapped up their second World Series title in five years thanks to veteran star hurler Jack Morris. In one of the great World Series-pitching performances of all time, Morris allowed seven hits, struck out eight and threw 122 pitches over 10 innings to outduel John Smoltz and help Minnesota to a 1-0, 10-inning victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7. Morris watched as Gene Larkin singled home Dan Gladden with the winning run.
The '69 Mets had their miracle run to the World Series, and perhaps, at least for one night, the '86 Mets needed their own type of miracle to win it all. That would be the famed Game 6, where New York rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to stun the Boston Red Sox, 6-5, and even the series . Mookie Wilson, Ray Knight, Bill Buckner — the cast of characters is unforgettable, just like the moment.
No doubt, there are certainly enough games to pick from when discussing the Yankees. The Babe calling his shot, Mr. October, Mr. November. The list goes on. But at the top must be Don Larsen's remarkable perfect game against the rival Brooklyn Dodgers during a 2-0 win at Yankee Stadium in the Fall Classic. Larsen's feat remains the only one of its kind in World Series history.
We're going all the way back to when the A's were based in Philadelphia and taking on the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Chicago had just taken Game 3 to cut the Athletics' lead to 2-1 and led 8-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. That's when the A's broke out with 10 runs, thanks to homers from Mule Haas and Al Simmons, and went on to win, 10-8. They then took home the Series title two days later.
En route to their first World Series title, the Phillies endured a roller coaster of a contest just to reach the Fall Classic. In that nerve-racking decisive Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Houston, Philadelphia erased a 5-2 hole with a five-run eighth inning. However, the Astros tied it with two runs in the bottom of that frame. It was in the 10th, though, that Garry Maddox delivered a run-scoring hit to give the Phillies an 8-7 lead they would keep.
It's been dubbed as the "Greatest Home Run Ever." If so, Bill Mazeroski's solo, walk-off against the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series came in the greatest game in Pirates history. Pittsburgh blew an early 4-0 lead and then scored five times in the eighth to go ahead 9-7...only for the Yankees to score twice in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for one of the most memorable moments in sports history.
Steve Garvey enjoyed most of his MLB success with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he will forever live in Padres lore thanks to his heroics in Game 4 of the '84 National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. With San Diego down 2-1 in the series and having just blown a two-run lead in the eighth of Game 4, Garvey belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Lee Smith for a 7-5 win to set up San Diego for a deciding Game 5 victory.
Another storied franchise — whether in New York or San Francisco — that's been part of some of the most memorable games in Major League Baseball history. However, we don't need to go back too far to find the one worthy of sitting atop the list. The decisive game of the 2014 World Series at Kansas City is one of the most competitive and well played for such a stage. It was also another opportunity for Giants ace Madison Bumgarner to shine, as he allowed two hits over five shutout innings of relief on two days' rest to earn the save in a 3-2 victory.
While the 9-1 tiebreaker victory over the California Angels gave the Mariners their first trip to the playoffs, it was the decisive, 6-5 11-inning comeback Game 5 win over the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series that gets our vote for the best in franchise history. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the 11th, Edgar Martinez's two-run double sent Seattle to its first playoff series victory and the Kingdome into a frenzy.
There have been several notable and memorable games during the long and successful history of Cardinals baseball. But even some of the old-timers can agree that it's tough to beat St. Louis' remarkable 10-9, 11-inning victory over Texas to force a Game 7 and ultimately lead to their most recent World Series title. Twice the Cardinals staved off elimination to tie the game with two runs each in the ninth and 10th innings. Then in the 11th, David Freese won the game with his solo homer to center field.
The Rays' magical 2008 season did not end with a World Series title, but they got there nonetheless. No Tampa baseball fan will forget the mob scene after the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox, 3-1, in the decisive game of the AL Championship Series. Tampa Bay had dropped the previous two games but got seven solid innings from starter Matt Garza and one-hit, shutout ball from four relievers — with ace David Price earning the four-out save in the most memorable game in club history.
It's still kind of hard to believe that the Rangers did not win the franchise's first playoff series until 2010. They clinched that triumph with a 5-1 victory at Tampa Bay. Though the margin does not necessarily scream "greatest games," it should be considered just that in Rangers lore, because they finally got the playoff monkey off their back, and Cliff Lee spun one of the best pitching performances in postseason history, allowing one run and six hits and striking out 11 without a walk in the complete-game win.
In the annals of Major League Baseball, only one player has ended a World Series with a come-from-behind home run. That guy was Joe Carter, with his famous three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth off Philadelphia closer Mitch Williams for an 8-6 victory, securing Toronto's second consecutive World Series title. Carter also joins the aforementioned Bill Mazeroski as the only players to win a World Series title for their teams with a walk-off homer.
It's still quite unfathomable that Washington recorded all four of its World Series victories on the road, but none was more impressive than its 6-2 triumph at Houston in last season's deciding seventh game. Down 2-0 entering the top of the seventh inning, a solo shot by Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick's two-run homer off the foul pole left the Nationals up 3-2. Juan Soto delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, and Washington tacked on two more runs in the ninth to claim the franchise's first title.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.