After the Cardinals and Red Sox took their respective Championship Series in six games, the World Series is set up to pit ace against ace in game one. With both pitching staffs set up perfectly for the beginning of the series, the Cardinals going with Adam Wainwright and the Sox going with Jon Lester, it is conceivable that we could see this same battle of aces in games one four and seven.
The 1-4-7 starter scheme is my favorite part of the playoffs. The idea of one pitcher picking up the entire 25 man roster and saying “Get on my back, we’re going to the promised land.” The 1-4-7 club is a historic handful of aces who won the World Series with little help from anyone else, searing their names in the history of the game forever.
Because both aces have a chance to join this club I wanted to document the top members of the club as it is currently constituted.
The ground rules for the club are as follows.
1. Must start exactly three games in one World Series.
Contrary to the name, the 1-4-7 club includes pitchers who pitched in 2-5-7 or any other combination of three games. 1-4-7 is the easiest way to start three games in a series, but if you want to go on two days rest then you deserve a spot.
2. Must put forth an outing deserving of a win in each game.
I’m not here to judge bad offense. If you throw nine innings without a run but your team lays an egg, you won’t be penalized.
3. Must be in the live ball era.
If you pitched in an era where pitchers threw for nine innings with a lumpy baseball you won’t make the list. The official start of the live ball era is 1920 so that will be the cutoff.
4. Must have won the series.
Simple enough, no losers in the club.
So here we go, the top members of the 1-4-7 club.
You baseball historians may be asking how a series that only went six games landed a player on this list, but Earnshaw certainly earned this spot. After being passed over for the game one start, (Can you really argue with starting Lefty Grove?) Earnshaw took the ball in game two. His nine innings of six-hit ball gave the Philadelphia A’s a two games to none lead. His next start would not come until game five. After throwing seven shutout innings, Earnshaw gave way to game four starter Lefty Grove as the game remained tied. Grove sharked a win as the A’s won on a two-run homer by Mickey Cochrane in the top of the ninth. Shockingly, Earnshaw got the ball again in game six on just one day of rest. Earnshaw threw another complete game, stifling a Cardinals lineup that featured a pair of Hall of Famers.
Series stats: 3 starts, 2 Wins, 2 complete games, 19 strikeouts, 20 baserunners, 25 innings and a 0.72 ERA.
Gibson was passed over for the start in game one after throwing two complete games in the final week of the season. When he made his series debut, Gibson was not quite himself. Despite allowing four runs over eight innings the Cardinals trailed by just two when Gibson was lifted for a reliever. The bullpen imploded in the ninth, allowing four runs and letting the Yankees get away with game two and knotting the series at one. When he emerged on three days of rest for game five, Gibson pitched his finest game of the series. He carried a lead into the ninth inning, and despite allowing a two-out two-run game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth on an 0-2 pitch Gibson managed a to go all 10 of the games innings. Tim McCarver hit a three-run homer in the top of the tenth to take the game. He topped off the series with a complete game victory in the Cardinals’ 7-5 win.
Series stats: 3 starts, 2 wins, 2 complete games, 31 strikeouts, 31 baserunners, 27 innings and a 3.00 ERA.
The pattern continues with this trooper. Ralph Terry got the ball in games 2-5-7. In game two, Terry came up short despite throwing seven strong innings allowing just two runs. In game five Terry tossed his first complete game of the series and picked up a win when the Yankees plated three runs in the bottom of the eighth and won 5-3. In the final game of the series, Terry took the bump once more. He threw a complete game shutout, baffling Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda for a 1-0 win.
Series Stats: 3 starts, 2 wins, 2 complete games, 16 strikeouts, 19 baserunners, 25 innings and a 1.80 ERA.
A Dean was the winning pitcher in each of the Cardinals’ four wins in the series, but Dizzy had a better series than his brother. Complete games in games one and seven of the series were the bookends to a Cardinals championship in seven games. His start in game five was not too shabby either. All told, only one reliever was needed in his three starts. His 1934 World Series performance was the high-point of his short but spectacular career as the Gas House Ace.
Series stats: 3 starts, 2 wins, 2 complete games, 17 strikeouts, 25 baserunners, 26 innings and a 1.73 ERA.
After waiting eight years to return to the playoffs, Schilling wanted to waste no time in solidifying his postseason legacy. Before the series even started Schilling was having one of the best postseasons of all time. He posted three complete games including one shutout in his three starts of the first 2 rounds. Schilling went in games 1-4-7. In game one, Schilling earned his only win of the series. Seven innings of one run ball was plenty to give the Diamondbacks the win as they cruised to a 9-1 victory. His second start of the series was one of the greatest World Series games ever played. Schilling put in a carbon-copy of his game one start by going seven innings and allowing one run, but closer Byung-Hyun KimTino Martinez and a walk-off homer to Derek Jeter in the tenth. After handing out a beating in game six, the Diamondbacks handed the ball to Schilling once again. He spit out yet another seven inning outing. He headed back out for the eighth inning, but things were not the same. Leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano homered to break a 1-1 tie. Randy Johnson headed in from the bullpen after Miguel Batistia recorded the second out of the inning, and he would pick up the win as the D-backs came back on Mariano Rivera, completing the most dramatic World Series of all time.
Series stats: 3 starts, 1 win, no complete games, 26 strikeouts, 14 baserunners, 21.1 innings and a 1.69 ERA.
Jack Morris is one of the most intense gamers of all time, and 1991 is at the top of his resume. In game one, Morris went seven strong innings allowing just two runs. His Twins won comfortably after knocking the Braves’ starter out of the game after just four innings. In Game four, Morris squared off in a game seven preview with John Smoltz. He was up to the task of matching the young Smoltz in this game, going six innings and allowing only one run while Smoltz went 7 and allowed 2. The game was won by the Braves on a walkoff sacrifice fly, tying the series at two. Game four was just a sample of what was to come in game seven. From the very start, the game was far from clean. Inning after inning, each team put runners on just to have them stranded. The game entered the eighth inning still tied at eight, but trouble was coming once again. The Braves led off with a single followed by a double, setting up a second-and-third nobody out jam. After drawing a ground out, manager Tom Kelly came out to visit with Jack. After the talk, Morris intentionally walked David Justice to bring up Sid Bream and induced a 3-2-3 double play to end the inning. The game went into the tenth, but Morris pitched them all. After the game-winning single by Gene Larkin Morris earned the win and the series MVP.
Series stats: 3 Starts, 2 wins, 1 complete game, 15 strikeouts, 27 baserunners, 23 innings and a 1.17 ERA.
The 1968 series was going to have a member, but it was surprising that it was Lolich. Gibson had three strong starts in this series, but the Cardinals came up short in game seven, and Lolich was stellar throughout his three starts for the Yankees. In game 2, Lolich started for the first time in the series. He stifled the Cardinals through all nine innings, helping the Tigers cruise to a 9-1 win. In game five, he put up a similar performance. After surrendering three runs in the first inning, Lolich pitched the final eight innings without surrendering a run, and earning his second win of the series. After just two days of rest Lolich took the ball in game seven against Gibson. In a shocking turn of events, Lolich out-dueled one of the best postseason pitchers of all time.
Series stats: 3 Starts, 3 wins, 3 complete games, 21 strikeouts, 26 baserunners, 27 innings and a 1.67 ERA.
Game one of the 1965 World Series fell on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, meaning Koufax would not pitch. When he finally took the ball in game two, the was out-pitched by Twins’ Jim Kaat. In game five, Koufax finally showed up in good form. Koufax tossed a complete game shutout striking out 10 and allowing just four hits. In Game seven, Koufax took the ball for a final time in the series squaring off with Kaat. Koufax went all nine once again, struck out ten once again, and won the game once again.
Series stats: 3 Starts, 2 wins, 2 complete games, 29 strikeouts, 18 baserunners, 24 innings and a 0.38 ERA.
1. Bob Gibson in the 1967 World Series
This is the pinnacle of pitching performance in the World Series. Gibson took the ball in the game one and pitched a gem. He allowed six hit and one run in a complete game at Fenway Park. His game one start was exactly what the Cardinals need in a 2-1 victory, but in game four Gibson would go above and beyond. He threw his second complete game in a row, allowed no runs and fanned six in 6-0 win. As the series was pushed to the limit, Gibson took the ball for the final game. He topped off the series with, you guessed it, another complete game. He allowed a series-high 2 runs. Gibson was the ultimate competitor in the history of the World Series, and 1967 was no exception, making him the number one member of this exclusive club.
Series stats: 3 starts, 3 wins, 3 complete games, 26 strikeouts, 19 baserunners, 27 innings and a 1.00 ERA
With two studs going in game one of this year’s series, Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester are in a position to write their names in the record books, join on of baseball’s most exclusive clubs and add their names to this list of the greatest World Series performances of all-time.