My Top Ten Baseball Moments

 Copyright © 2002 by Tony Medley

 Folks, I know politically correct crap when I see it; I don’t need to smell it.  And baseball’s recently announced top 10 moments is at the top of the list.  Following are some of those moments that are not in the top thousand of baseball’s top moments: 

 1. Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s record

 2. Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s lifetime home run record

 3. Ted Williams hitting .400 (how about Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby, each of whom did it 3 times, or Nap Lajoie or George Sisler or Bill Terry?  Why Williams?)

 4. Mark McGuire’s 62nd home run

 5. Pete Rose breaking Ty Cobb’s hit record

 These aren’t moments, except, maybe, for Williams who is mentioned, I guess, because he played that last day and got six hits.  A “moment” is a “brief interval of time.”  In this context, it’s one play, something memorable that happened in an instant.  It’s not the end of a streak like Ripken, or a lifetime record like Aaron and Rose, all of which, incidentally, when they occurred, were inevitable.

 McGuire hit his home run with a golf ball-like souped-up baseball and steroids.  Does anybody really believe that he could have hit 60 home runs using the same ball Ruth and Maris hit and without drugs?  Would a guy like Sammy Sosa (who hit 60 home runs 3 seasons in a row with this super-juiced ball) hit even 50 home runs one time using that ball?  McGuire hit it early in September with several weeks left in the season.  Maris hit his 61st in his last game of the season (as did Ruth hit his 60th).  If you want moments that were not inevitable, those were moments.

 Here are my top 10 “moments.” 

  1. Bobby Thomson’s 1951 home run in the bottom of the 9th inning of the third and final playoff game with the Dodgers leading 4-2 (nothing is close to this as the best moment ever).

  2. Babe Ruth’s “called shot” in ’32 (was it or wasn’t it?  Whatever, it has engendered controversy ever since).

  3. Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in the first game of the ‘88 World Series with a man on first and the Dodgers trailing by one run, limping off the bench to pinch hit in the bottom of the 9th, barely able to walk.

  4.Willie Mays’ catch off Vic Wertz in the 8th inning of the first game of the ’54 Series

  5.Fred Merkle failing to run to second and getting forced after Johnny Evers wrestled a ball from Iron Man Joe McGinnity and tagging the bag in 1908

  6. Grover Cleveland Alexander striking out Tony Lazzerri with the bases full in the seventh inning of the seventh game of the ’26 Series.

  7.Billy Martin’s diving, stumbling catch of Jackie Robinson’s popup with two out in the 7th inning of the 7th game of the ’52 series with the bases loaded and the entire Yankee infield scratching their noses as Dodgers were scrambling around the bases

  8. Mickey Owen dropping Hugh Casey’s third strike on Tommy Henrich with the Dodgers leading 4-3 with two out and nobody on in the 9th inning of the 4th game of the 1941 Series at Ebbets Field; the Yankees came back to score 4 runs and win the game 7-4.

  9. Enos Slaughter scoring from first on a single to win the ’46 Series over the Boston Red Sox in the seventh game.

 10. Bill Wamsganss’ unassisted triple play against Clarence Mitchell of the Dodgers in the 5th game of the 1920 World Series (later in the same game Elmer Smith hit the first Grand Slam home run in World Series history)

 If I’m not limited to ten, two more that could have been included:

    1. Bill Mazeroski’s home run winning the 1960 World Series for the Pirates (“They broke all the records, but we won the Series,” said center fielder Gino Cimoli.).  But to be truthful the biggest hit of that game was catcher Hal Smith’s 3-run home run in the bottom of the 8th that gave Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead.  Without that home run, the Yankees win.

  2. Chicago Cub center fielder Hack Wilson losing a fly ball in the sun as Philadelphia scored 10 runs in the seventh inning to overcome an 8-0 Cub lead in the ’29 Series.

 I have always felt that Carlton Fisk’s 12th inning home run in the 6th game of the ’75 Series was overrated as a great moment.  The clutch hit in that game was Bernie Carbo’s two-out pinch-hit 3 run home run in the bottom of the 8th to tie it up.  Without Carbo the Reds win in 9.  The Red Sox don’t necessarily lose if Fisk doesn’t hit his. This is considered a “great moment” because it was on TV and because of the shot from the camera in the left field scoreboard that showed Fisk as he watched the ball sail over the fence.  Incidentally, I’m sure nobody cares, but at the beginning of the top of the 8th in that game a friend called me and asked me what was going to happen.  I replied, “Bernie Carbo’s going to hit a pinch hit 3 run home run in the bottom of the 8th to tie it up.”

 Only one of these made baseball’s list.  But, then, I'm a fan who loves the game. As an aside, I wrote this in 15 minutes off the top of my head without reference to anything.  Could “baseball” have done that?