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100 Years Of The World Series

October 22, 2003|Houston Mitchell

ON DEFENSE

A selection of great plays in World Series history:

* Bill Wambsganss, 1920, Game 5, Cleveland vs. Brooklyn

In the top of the fifth with runners on first and second, Indian second baseman Wambsganss snared Clarence Mitchell's line drive, touched second base to retire Pete Kilduff and tagged Otto Miller coming over from first, thereby recording the only unassisted triple play in Series history.

* 1947, Game 6, Brooklyn vs. New York Yankees, Al Gionfriddo's game-saving catch.

The Dodgers led, 8-5, with two on and two out, when Joe DiMaggio hammered the first pitch he saw to deep left. Gionfriddo, who had just come into the game for defensive purposes, raced toward the bullpen railing, turned, leaped, stuck out his glove and caught the ball, just to the left of the 415-foot marker. As he neared second base, DiMaggio shook his head and kicked at the dirt.

* 1954, Game 1, New York Giants vs. Cleveland, Willie Mays' over-the shoulder catch

Mays ran full speed to the ball and caught it over his shoulder, in perhaps the best-remembered fielding play in baseball history. The catch came in the eighth inning and kept the score tied at 2-2. The Giants won it, 5-2, in 10 innings and went on to sweep the Series.

* 1955, Game 7, Brooklyn vs. New York Yankees, Sandy Amoros' catch.

Going into the bottom of the sixth at Yankee Stadium, the Dodgers had a 2-0 lead. With two on and no outs, the Dodger outfielders were pulled around toward right against the left-handed Yogi Berra. But Berra reached for an outside pitch and drove it down the left-field line. Amoros raced toward the line, and, barely five feet from the left-field stands, stretched out his gloved right hand and snagged the ball, then threw to Pee Wee Reese, who doubled the runner off first. The Dodgers went on to win their first World Series title.

* Tommie Agee, 1969, Game 3, New York Mets vs. Baltimore

Agee made two catches that probably saved five runs. First, he dashed into left-center in the fourth inning and stuck out his glove, catching the ball backhanded in the webbing to rob Elrod Hendricks with runners at the corners and two out. In the seventh, he made a sliding catch in right-center to rob Paul Blair with two out. The Mets won the game, 5-0.

* Ron Swoboda, 1969, Game 4, Mets vs. Baltimore

The Orioles had tied the score at 1-1 in the ninth and would have taken the lead except for right fielder Swoboda's out-of-nowhere diving catch on Brooks Robinson's drive to right-center. The Mets won in the 10th inning.

* Brooks Robinson, 1970, Baltimore vs. Cincinnati

In the middle of his run of 16 consecutive gold gloves, Robinson cemented his reputation as one of baseball's greats by dismantling the Reds with his glove. Cincinnati catcher Johnny Bench, himself a future Hall of Famer, summed it up best after the Series was over: "I will become a left-handed hitter to keep the ball away from that guy."

* Graig Nettles, 1978, Game 3, New York Yankees vs. Dodgers

Most Dodger fans will tell you that Nettles single-handedly cost the Dodgers the 1978 World Series title. A third baseman, Nettles made several stellar defensive plays as New York scored a pivotal 5-1 victory in Game 3. Nettles made four dazzling stops at third, preventing at least seven Dodger runs from scoring.

-- Houston Mitchell

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