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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Willie Stargell takes a cut during the 1979 World Series. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos)
Willie Stargell takes a cut during the 1979 World Series. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos) /

20. Game 7, October 17, 1979, Pittsburgh Pirates at Baltimore Orioles

Willie Stargell vs.  Scott McGregor. Change in Championship Probability: 29.25 percent.

The long, uphill battle waged over four days by the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates was losing stream.  Through four games of the 1979 Series, they sat on the brink of elimination, trailing three games to one and with a pitching staff that had been thoroughly taken apart by the Orioles in Games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh.

Following a travel day, the Pirates won a 7-1 Game 5 rout, then got a 4-0 Game 6 shutout from John Candelaria and Kent Tekulve in Baltimore. Now, however, they had to take down Oriole ace Scott McGregor in Game 7 … and McGregor was dealing.

Through five innings McGregor had allowed just three hits. Rich Dauer’s leadoff home run in the third gave him a one-run margin to work with.  When Dave Parker opened the sixth inning with an easy ground out, the probability of an Orioles victory hit 66 percent.

Then Bill Robinson sneaked a base hit between shortstop and third base into left field. That brought up Stargell, the team’s unquestioned leader and elder statesman. Stargell was 39 in 1979, but he was far from a symbolic leader. During the regular season he had produced 32 home runs and 82 RBIs on a .904 OPS.

He was, in other words, fit for the moment, and about to show it. Stargell lofted McGregor’s first pitch into Memorial Stadium’s right field bleachers for a two-run home run.

That 70 percent likelihood of an Orioles victory from moments ago had suddenly been converted into a  66 percent likelihood of a Pirates win.

Three innings later, that was precisely what happened, the 4-1 Pittsburgh win capping a memorable comeback.