1951 Giant-Dodger Playoff Game Tops in SABR Poll

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in the 1976 Baseball Research Journal


In January 1976 the members of the Society for American Baseball Research were asked to select the five outstanding games of the last 100 years in order of rank. A sample listing of 17 games was provided with the invitation to write in others which might be preferred. The members did write in others, as a total of 45 different games were named on the returned ballots. However, about one-half of that number received only 1 vote. Not that they weren’t outstanding games, but in a total of 108 ballots returned, the real favorites showed up pretty quickly.

The Society selected as the Number 1 game of the last 100 years the Giant-Dodger 1951 playoff game where Bobby Thomson hit the come-from-behind home run. Based on five points for a first-place vote, four for second, etc., that game received 318-1/2 points. In second place was the Don Larsen perfect World Series game with 250’/2, followed by the Toney-Vaughn double no-hit game with 136 points. (The ½ point comes from a tie for fifth place.)

There followed in pretty close order the Brooklyn-Boston 26-inning 1-1 tie game in 1920, the Bill Mazeroski Series-winning homer in 1960, the Harvey Haddix 12-inning perfect game, and the 1934 All-Star game featuring the Carl Hubbell strikeout feat and the AL comeback. In 8th place was the sixth game of the 1975 World Series featuring Carlton Fisk’s 12th inning homer. Some of the communications media have referred to this game as the greatest ever. Is it just because it is of most recent memory? Or will it stand up under the test of history? SABR balloteers, with their 100-year perspective, apparently were not swept off their feet. They gave the Fisk-homer game 67½ points to 318½ for the Thomson-homer game.

Where did the 1908 Giant-Cub play-off game wind up? In 11th place, with 41 votes. Apparently the voters did not feel the game itself was that exciting.

Here is a list of the top 26 games in the SABR poll.

Rank

 

  Points

1

Oct. 3, 1951 – Bobby Thomson hits 3-run homer in 9th

  318½

 

inning of final playoff game with Dodgers to give

 

 

Giants 5-4 win and pennant.

 

2

Oct. 8, 1956 – Don Larsen hurls perfect World Series

  250½

 

game against Dodgers, winning for Yankees 2-0.

 

3

May 2, 1917 – Fred Toney of Reds and Jim Vaughn of

  136

 

Cubs work double 9-inning no-hitter won by Reds in

 

 

10th 1-0 on Jim Thorpe’s RBI.

 

4

May 1, 1920 – Joe Oeschger of Braves and Leon Cadore

  127½

 

of Dodgers pitch 26-inning 1-1 tie game.

 

5

Oct. 13, 1960 – Bill Mazeroski hits 9th inning, Series-

  120’/2

 

winning homer to give Pirates win over Yankees.

 

6

May 26, 1959 – Harvey Haddix pitches 12 perfect in-

  110

 

nings but loses to Braves 1-0 in 13th.

 

7

July 10, 1934- In All-Star game, Carl Hubbell fans

  102

 

Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin in succes-

 

 

sion, but AL comes back to win.

 

8

Oct. 21, 1975 – Reds use 8 pitchers in 6th game of

  67½

 

Series, but Red Sox win on Canton Fisk homer in

 

 

12th, 7-6.

 

9

Oct. 12, 1929 – Athletics, trailing Cubs 8-0 in 4th game

  62’/2

 

of Series, score 10 runs in 7th to win 10-8.

 

10

Oct. 2, 1908 – Cleveland edges White Sox 1-0 as Addie

  51½

 

Joss pitches perfect game while Ed Walsh fans 1 5.

 

11

Oct. 8, 1908 – Cubs win NL pennant when M. Brown

  41

 

beats Mathewson of Giants 4-2 in playoff of disputed

 

 

game.

 

12

Oct. 10, 1920 – Indians beat Dodgers 8-1 in Series

  35

 

game which saw Bill Wambsganss perform unassisted

 

 

triple play, Elmer Smith hit first Series grand slam,

 

 

and Jim Bagby hit first Series homer for hurler.

 

13

Sept. 28, 1938 – Cubs take over NL lead by beating

  32

 

Pirates 6-5 on Gabby Hartnett’s homer in dusk.

 

14

July 8, 1941 – With AL trailing 5-4 in All-Star game,

  17½

 

Ted Williams hits 3-run homer to win in 9th 7-5.

 

Tl5

Aug. 17, 1882- Providence beats Detroit 1-0 in 18

  14

 

innings when Charles Radbourn, playing LF, hits

 

 

homer. Monte Ward pitches distance for win.

 

T15

Oct. 10, 1924 – The Senators win their only cham-

  14

 

pionship by beating the Giants 4-3 in 12 innings. The

 

 

winning run scores when ball bounces over Fred

 

 

Lindstrom’s head. Walter Johnson wins in relief.

 

T15

July 2, 1963 – Juan Marichalbeats Warren Spahn 1-0

  14

 

in 16 innings on homer by Willie Mays.

 

18

Oct. 4, 1948 – Cleveland beats Boston in the AL

  12½

 

playoff 8-3 thanks to pitching of Gene Bearden

 

 

and hitting of Lou Boudreau.

 

19

Oct. 10, 1904 – Red Sox clinch pennant on last day of

  12

 

season as Jack Chesbro of New York uncorks a wild

 

 

pitch in 9th, allowing runner to score.

 

20

Oct. 1, 1950 – In final game of season, Phils take pen-

  9

 

nant by beating Dodgers 4-1 on Dick Sisler’s homer

 

 

in 10th.

 

 

 

 

21

Sept. 30, 1951 – Jackie Robinson hits homer in 14th

  8

 

inning to give the Dodgers a 9-8 win over Phils and a

 

 

tie with Giants in NL race.

 

22

Oct. 16, 1912 – Fred Snodgrass drops an easy fly ball

  7

 

in the 10th inning that permits Red Sox to score 2

 

 

runs and win Series from the Giants.

 

23

Oct. 2, 1968 – Bob Gibson of the Cardinals sets a new

  6½

 

Series record by fanning 17 Tigers.

 

T24

June 12, 1880 – John Richmond of Worcester pitches

  5

 

the first perfect game in history, blanking Cleveland

 

 

1-0.

 

T24

June 15, 1938- Johnny Vander Meer hurls his 2nd

  5

 

consecutive no-hit game, beating Brooklyn 6-0.

 

T24

Apr. 15, 1947 – Jackie Robinson makes his major

  5

 

league debut with Dodgers.

 

 

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