The 25 most decisive plays in World Series history

Oct 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) and right fielder Brett Phillips (14) celebrate Phillips hitting the game winning two run walk off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in game four of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) and right fielder Brett Phillips (14) celebrate Phillips hitting the game winning two run walk off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in game four of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bucky Harris during the seventh game of the 1924 World Series. (Photo by Credit: APA/Getty Images)
Bucky Harris during the seventh game of the 1924 World Series. (Photo by Credit: APA/Getty Images) /

7. Game 7, October 10, 1924. New York Giants at Washington Senators

Bucky Harris vs. Virgil Barnes. Change in Championship Probability: 35.2 percent

The previously cited huge plays by Hugh McQuillen and Earl McNeely (entries 24 and 12) would have meant little to the outcome of the 1924 Series had not Bucky Harris already come through at the Series’ most meaningful moment.

Harris was the 27-year-old first-year manager of the Senators, and he doubled as the team’s second baseman. A competent but not great batsman, Harris would go on to a Hall of Fame managerial career that would see him compile more than 2,000 victories with the Senators,  Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox  and Tigers.

In 1924, though, Harris was a rookie manager whose lineup featured a light-hitting second baseman – himself. Still, he was enjoying a good World Series that would see him bat .333 with seven RBIs.

The Senators faced desperate times entering the bottom of the eighth inning that October day, and they needed a break.  Trailing 3-1, Nemo Leibold had pinch hit a one-out double, and Muddy Ruel singled him to third base before pinch hitter Bennie Tate walked.

With the bases loaded, Earl McNeely failed to produce, lifting only a pop fly to very short left. With two out, that left the issue up to Harris.

He stood in against Virgil Barnes, the Giants’ starter and a 16-game winner for John McGraw during the regular season. Harris had been the only Senator to handle Barnes that afternoon, homering for his team’s only run and then singling.

What happened in that bases loaded, two out situation eerily presaged McNeely’s decisive lucky bounce of four innings later. Harris bounced Barnes’ first pitch for what looked like a routine third out to Lindstrom at third. But the ball appeared to hit a pebble just before the Giants fielder reached for it, caroming over his head and skipping into left field for a bad hop single as Leibold and Ruel scored the game’s tying runs.

For such a thing to happen once was freakish divine intervention. For it to happen twice in four innings could only mean the Senators were destined to win…which on McNeely’s bad hopper four innings later they did.