Playoff baseball is a funny thing. During the 162-game regular season, there are countless pitches thrown, most of them inconsequential in the long run. But in the postseason, every pitch matters and every moment matters. With every pitch, you never know when you’re going to see one of the best MLB playoff moments or one of the best playoff games of all time.
It seems like all of the World Series winners of the past have had some defining moment during their journey. Almost every year, fans are bound to see one of the greatest MLB postseason moments they’ve ever witnessed. The challenge is separating the best from the best and picking out the best MLB playoff moments that will be remembered forever.
Best MLB Playoff moments
Granted, everybody’s personal favorite postseason moment will probably depend on what team they support. That’s why we did our best to be objective when thinking about the best playoff games and coming out with a list of the greatest MLB postseason moments of all time.
10. Carlton Fisk walk-off home run
The sight of Carlton Fisk waving his home run fair is still one of the greatest images in postseason history. The Red Sox trailed the Reds in the 1975 World Series 3-2, needing a win to stay alive. Bernie Carbo deserves some of the credit for a three-run pinch-hit home run to tie the game 6-6 in the eighth inning.
That set up Fisk to lead off the bottom of the 12th with his long fly ball nearly going foul but hitting the left-field foul pole to give the Red Sox the win. Of course, the Red Sox ruined it by losing Game 7.
9. Mariano Rivera’s blown save
Blown saves by Mariano Rivera were rare, especially in the postseason. But the Diamondbacks managed to get to him, doing so in Game 7 of the World Series no less.
Arizona was down 2-1 in the ninth inning, but Rivera gave up a hit and committed a fielding error. Tony Womack then doubled to tie the game before Rivera hit a batter to load the bases. That’s when Luis Gonzalez blooped a single just over the head of the infielders to bring home the winning run and give the Diamondbacks a championship in the most unlikely of ways in just their fourth year of existence.
8. Freese strikes twice
Technically, these are two separate moments, although in one game. With the Cardinals facing elimination in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series and down to their last out, David Freese hit a triple to right field that scored two runs to tie the game, forcing extra innings.
Two innings later, Freese hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th to win Game 6 and extend the series, which the Cardinals would eventually win after taking Game 7.
7. Kirby Puckett walk-off home run
The Twins were facing elimination in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series and found themselves in a tight game with the Braves. The game got to the bottom of the 11th tied at three. Minnesota star Kirby Puckett led off the inning and smacked the fourth pitch he saw to left-center field and over the wall.
On the broadcast, Jack Buck simply said “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.” It was a great line at one of the best MLB playoff moments.
6. Ozzie Smith walk-off home run
Ozzie Smith is universally known in the baseball community as one of the most brilliant defensive shortstops of all time.
Meanwhile, hitting for power was not a big part of his game, especially from the left side. When he stepped up to the plate in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS, the series was tied at two and the game was tied at two. More importantly, Smith had never hit a home run while batting left-handed in more than 3,000 career at-bats from that side of the plate.
But that changed in the bottom of the 9th when Smith homered off Tom Niedenfuer, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 win to take a lead in the series.
Jack Buck’s call of “Go crazy, folks, go crazy!” that accompanied Smith’s unlikely home run is one of the best MLB postseason moments for an announcer.
5. Babe Ruth calls his shot
This happened so long ago that it’s hard to know if the entire story is true or not. But as legend has it, Babe Ruth had been bickering with Cubs’ fans throughout Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.
When he came to bat in the fifth inning, he took the first strike. Then he pointed to either Charlie Root or the bleachers behind the right-center field wall. He then took three more pitches, pointing after each one and running the count to 2-2. That’s when he crushed the ball to the exact spot he was pointing, creating a legendary story in the process.
4. Kirk Gibson’s home run limp
After getting hurt in the NLCS, Kirk Gibson could barely walk and was only able to serve as a pinch-hitter in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Oakland looked poised to close out a 4-3 win with Dennis Eckersley on the mound in the bottom of the ninth. But with two outs, Eckersley hit a batter, allowing the Dodgers to send Gibson to the plate as a pinch-hitter. On a 3-2 pitch, Gibson hit a slider into the right-field bleachers, giving the Dodgers a walk-off win.
Gibson hobbled around the bases fist-pumping while Jack Buck exclaimed “I don’t believe what I just saw!” Like so many previous moments, Buck’s call helped to make this one of the greatest MLB postseason moments.
3. “The Catch”
It’s not always about walk-off home runs when it comes to the best MLB playoff moments.
Willie Mays proved that in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series with a game-saving catch. With runners on first and second in a 2-2 game and nobody out in the eighth, Vic Wertz appeared to put Cleveland ahead with a line drive to deep center field. But Mays tracked the ball down and made an over-the-shoulder catch to keep the game tied. The Giants would eventually win the game in 10 innings and sweep the series.
2. Joe Carter walk-off home run
The Blue Jays weren’t facing elimination in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, as they were up 3-2 in the series.
But they were close to having to play a Game 7, trailing 6-5 in the ninth.
With one out, Philadelphia closer Mitch Williams gave up a single to Paul Molitor, sending Joe Carter to the plate. On a 2-2 pitch, Carter launched a home run that just barely got over the wall, ending the series and giving the Blue Jays back-to-back championships. As Carter rounded the bases, Toronto announcer Tom Cheek said “Touch ’em all, Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”
1. Bill Mazeroski walk-off home run
To date, this is the only time a home run ended Game 7 of the World Series. Bill Mazeroski was known as one of the greatest defensive second basemen in baseball history.
He hit just 11 home runs during the 1960 season but led off the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series with the game tied 9-9. Ralph Terry was pitching for the Yankees but served up a 1-0 pitch that Mazeroski got a hold of and hit over the left-field wall to win the World Series for the Pirates and achieve baseball immortality with the greatest MLB postseason moment of all time.