WHEN rookie newsmagazine TIME covered its first World Series
in 1923, the N.Y. Yankees faced the N.Y. Giants. Babe Ruth and Casey Stengel headlined the lineups, there were no radio or TV broadcasts, and the series was heralded as the first ever to exceed $1,000,000 in total receipts! Lots about baseball has changed since then, but the sport remains America's national pastime, its players the stuff of legend. Here are some highlights from our coverage of baseball's greatest moments.
More interesting than the standing of any one team at this time of year are the muscles, eyes, tempers and agilities of certain famed players. For, though there are over 500 able individuals enrolled in the two leagues, there is actually only a handful for whom the grand army of snobbish rooters has eyes, for whom hats are thrown, bottles broken, hosannas raised.
Mar. 30, 1925
Now, with the score tied, Babe Ruth ... arrived at the plate with three big bats over his shoulder. The first ball was a strike. The crowd squealed happily. Fat and cocky, Ruth faced the grandstand and held up one finger. After throwing two balls. Pitcher Root got over another strike. This time the players in the Cubs' dugout peered and chuckled. Still cocky, Ruth held up two fingers....
From World Series
Oct. 10, 1932
One of the sights of baseball is watching DiMaggio take a practiced look at a ball heading his way, turn, and without a backward look glide to the spot where the ball is coming down, swing around casually and let the ball fall into his glove. Like all champions, he makes it look too easy.
From The Big Guy
Oct. 4, 1948
Two Giants were on base—the tying runs. Bobby Thomson, the potential winning run, was due to bat. With a gesture that Durocher would have disdained a year ago, he patted Thomson on the back. 'Boy,' said Leo in fervent, fatherly tones, 'if you ever hit one, hit one now.' Thomson did, high, wide & handsome. His home run, plunk into the left-field stands, won the game and the pennant.
From Durocher's Boys
Oct. 15, 1951
Mickey Mantle set a muscular chain reaction in motion. Starting in the ankles, rippling through knees, hips, torso, broad shoulders and 17-in. bull neck, he brought his bat around in a perfect arc to meet the ball with a sharp crack.
From Young Man on Olympus
Jun. 15, 1953
For the first eight innings of the series, the Giants had a hard time hanging on. Then wonderful Willie Mays raced almost back to the Harlem River to pull down a long fly with his back to home plate and save the ball game.
From Waiting for Dusty
Oct. 11, 1954
Larsen pitched. Mitchell checked his swing, watched the third strike whiz by. The crowd let out its breath and roared. Yogi Berra leaped into Larsen's arms. Don Larsen had pitched the first perfect major-league no-hitter in 34 years, and the first no-hitter-of any kind in World Series history.
From Decline & Fall
Oct. 22, 1956
The score was 9-9 in the last of the ninth when up came Mazeroski. The scouting reports said curve him low, but Yankee Pitcher Ralph Terry cut loose a high fastball. Out in left field, Yogi Berra dutifully ran back to the wall and watched the ball disappear over his head. Rounding second base, Mazeroski pulled off his cap, whirled his arms, bounded with glee like a kid on Christmas morning and galloped home with the winning run.
From World Series
Oct. 24, 1960
Last week it was flesh and blood, bat and ball; it was one man and the memory of another at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Barely ten minutes into his 21st major league season, Henry Louis Aaron stood at the plate with two Atlanta Brave teammates on base and a count of three balls and one strike. ... Hanging over him was Babe Ruth's most celebrated feat—714 lifetime home runs.
From "It's Almost Over With"
Apr. 15, 1974
Seventh game: Cincinnati Reds 4, Boston Red Sox 3. World Champions: Cincinnati, for the first time in 35 years....
The first five tense, volatile contests ... were merely a prelude to the final fireworks. Game six opened with the Reds one win away from the championship. When it ended at 12:33 a.m., they were still one short.
From What a Series!
Nov. 3, 1975
In one of the most remarkable performances in baseball history, Jackson blasted three consecutive home runs in the sixth and final game of the World Series, burying the Los Angeles Dodgers, tying Babe Ruth's record for the most home runs in a single World Series game and setting a new record for the number of home runs (five) hit during a series.
From Now for a Long, Hot Winter
Oct. 31, 1977
People, not numbers, play baseball, the Dodgers proved again.... The win-or-lose situation was perfectly framed, as that stubbly spirit Gibson emerged from the infirmary to take his only hack on crippled legs that said home run or nothing. On a 3-and- 2 pitch, naturally, the Dodgers won, 5-4.
From A Series of Ultimate Fantasies
By Tom Callahan
Oct. 31, 1988
On Monday, after fans had waited 37 years, Mark McGwire hit his record-tying 61st home run of the season, and the next night he showed up for his prime-time network-television special to hit No. 62....McGwire choked during batting practice, overswinging at each pitch. His first time up he grounded out on a 3-0 pitch, the first 3-0 pitch the leader in walks had swung at all year. But his next time up he willed some lame line-drive single to jump over the wall.
From Long Live The King
By Joel Stein
Sep. 21, 1998
In their sublime run to the championship, the Sox put to rest one of baseball's most irresistible legends: that the great George Herman Ruth, a.k.a. Babe, Bambino and Sultan of Swat, had jinxed the team when the Sox sold him to the Yankees in 1920 for $100,000 so that Boston owner Harry Frazee could finance a Broadway show.
From Holy Sox
By Bill Saporito, Sean Gregory, and Jane Bachman Wulf
Nov. 8, 2004
t's just too easy to loathe Barry Bonds. As he approaches one of the most important achievements in American sport--Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 home runs--everyone knows about Bonds the boor ... But Bonds deserves a little respect. Steroids or not, he may be the best pure hitter in baseball history.
From Should You Root for Barry Bonds?
By Sean Gregory
July 05, 2007