World Series Game 7 is the ultimate sports showdown. It’s the climax of an intense, six-month drama, and it is not infrequently spiced with moments where the outcome hinges literally on one play.
That fact makes the history of those decisive moments spectacular in itself. We are discussing here instances where the fate of the championship swung.
In eight of the 10 instances detailed below, that was the case. The team benefitting from the pivotal play went on to claim the trophy, either at that instant or soon afterward.
But fate is not always kind. In two of these 10 most decisive moments, fate later turned away from its favored child and anointed a different champion.
The standard of measurement is Win Probability Added, a relatively new statistic that calculates the extent to which the play in question influenced the game’s outcome.
Two Game 7s are represented twice on this list, and they are considered by historians to have been two of the most monumental games ever played. Those two were the seventh games of the Series of 1924 and 1960.
Here are the 10 most decisive moments from the history of World Series Game 7
t-9. Hugh McQuillen, 1924 New York Giants. The climactic game of the 1924 World Series between the Washington Senators and New York Giants is a candidate for greatest game ever played. Not only were the stakes (a world championship) at the highest possible level, but the game wound through 12 innings and featured two of the most memorable plays in baseball history.
This particular decisive moment unfolds in the bottom of the ninth inning at Griffith Stadium. The Nationals have rallied late to cement a 3-3 tie (more on that in a bit) and now stand poised to claim the championship. With one out, Nats first baseman Joe judge has singled and advanced all the way to third when Giants shortstop Travis Jackson fumbled away a potential force at second.
With the Series winning run 90 feet from home and just one out, Giants manager John McGraw summoned Hugh McQuillen, normally a starter, in from the bullpen to face Ralph Miller. McQuillen had gone 14-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 24 starts that season, but he’d made just four relief appearances.
But with the Series on the line, McQuillen induced a ground ball from Miller to Jackson, who flipped to Frank Frisch at second and then on to first for a game-saving double play. The Giants would not be finished off in the regulation nine innings. McQuillen Win Probability Added: 33 percent.
t-9. Howie Kendrick, 2019 Washington Nationals. The American League champion Houston Astros led the Nationals 2-0 through six innings of Game Seven of the 2019 World Series. Astros starter Zack Greinke had held Washington to just one hit when he retired Adam Eaton to open the seventh.
But then Anthony Rendon touched Greinke for a home run, and when Juan Soto walked Astros manager A.J. Hinch summoned Will Harris to face the next batter, Kendrick.
Harris’ first pitch was a strike, and his second, a cutter, dived toward the low outside corner of the strike zone. Kendrick reached out and sent the ball arcing toward the right field foul pole. When it clanged off that pole, he had a two-run game-tying and momentum-turning home run.
The Nats added three more late runs and won the game 6-2, claiming the Series. Kendrick Win Probability Added: 33 percent.