5 of Baseball's Most Dramatic Upsets


1960 World Series, Pirates over Yankees

Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates waves his hand as he walks across home plate to score the winning run of the 1969 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates waves his hand as he walks across home plate to score the winning run of the 1969 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Bruce Bennett Studio/Getty Images

No team has dominated American sports quite like the Yankees. Throughout the team's history, the Yankees have hoisted 27 World Series trophies -- far more than any other. 1960 marked the beginning of a golden era of Yankee baseball, as the team featured Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra, three of the best players in Major League Baseball history. By almost any measure, the Pittsburgh Pirates were an inferior team. Their pitching was inconsistent, and although the Pirates' lineup included batting title winners Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente in their prime, they couldn't quite match the Yankees' firepower.

The box score at the end of the series even seemed to suggest that the Yankees were the superior team -- New York scored more total runs and racked up more total hits than Pittsburgh, and they still managed to lose. Those numbers were skewed by the fact that the Yankees dominated the three games that they won, winning by a combined score of 38-3, while keeping the games they lost very close.

Apparently nobody told the Pirates that they didn't stand a chance against the formidable Yankees. Despite getting blown out in the second and third games of the series, the Pirates hung around, getting strong pitching from Harvey Haddix and Vern Law in the next two games. Game 7 of the 1960 World Series is generally considered one of the most memorable games in baseball history. The back-and-forth game went down to the wire, with each team taking the lead in the 8th and 9th innings. Then, in the bottom of the 9th, Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history -- one of the most unforgettable home runs ever [source: Schoenfield].

Author's Note: 5 of Baseball's Most Dramatic Upsets

Although I grew up in a part of the country that doesn't have its own Major League Baseball team, I've always been a big baseball fan. I always tend to root for the underdog, so this topic was a fun one for me. Of the five upsets listed here, the Netherlands victory over the Dominican Republic strikes me as the most surprising, and it goes to show that any team, no matter who they are and how well known they are, can beat any other.

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  • Associated Press. "Netherlands stuns Dominican Republic again, advances with 11th-inning rally." March 10, 2010. (July 29, 2010) http://sports.espn.go.com/extra/baseball/wbbc/recap?gameId=290310118
  • Curry, Jack. "Netherlands Sends Dominicans to an Improbable Exit in W.B.C." The New York Times. March 10, 2009. (July 29, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/sports/baseball/11sanjuan.html?_r=2
  • ESPN.com. "2004 MLB Payrolls." April 8, 2004. (July 29, 2012) http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1778397
  • MLB.com. "Koosman, Miracle Mets complete upset over mighty Orioles." Oct. 16, 1969. (July 29, 2012) http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/baseballs_best/mlb_bb_gamepage.jsp?story_page=bb_69ws_gm5_balnym
  • Schoenfield, David. "The greatest game ever played." ESPN.com. Oct. 13, 2010. (July 29, 2012) http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs/2010/columns/story?id=5676003
  • Silver, Nate. "Baseball's Biggest Chokes." Sports Illustrated. Oct. 1, 2007. (July 29, 2012) http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/baseball/mlb/10/01/bp.collapses/index.html
  • Sports Illustrated. "Greatest Upsets In Sports History: NY Mets beat Baltimore Orioles." (July 29, 2012) http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0802/biggest.upsets/content.15.html
  • Weinberg, Rick. "Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit HR wins World Series game." ESPN.com. (July 29, 2012) http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/espn25/story?page=moments/3
  • Wulf, Steve. "Destiny's Boys: L.A. miraculously beat Oakland in the World Series." Sports Illustrated. Oct. 31, 1988. (July 29, 2012) http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/features/1998/wsarchive/1988.html


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