The greatest baseball underdog stories
Everyone knows that even the biggest underdog always stands a chance – just look at the way the sporting world reacted to Leicester City’s meteoric rise to the top of the Premiership in the 2015-16 season. Another sport that has more than its fair share of tales of unlikely victories and dramatic turnarounds in fortune is Major League Baseball.
Of the countless tales of lucky home runs, pitching miracles and jaw-dropping results, here are four of the biggest surprises.
The Rockford Peaches, 1943
For a nation so devoted to the sport, when Major League Baseball was put on hold during the Second World War it left a huge gap in many people’s lives. So baseball promoters came up with the idea of the All American Girls’ Professional Baseball League.
One of the most notable teams to emerge in the newly-formed AAGPBL were the Rockford Peaches. Made up from a disparate group of women from many different backgrounds, the Peaches existed from 1943 until they were disbanded in 1954. Over the intervening period they won the Championship four times and their story’s even been told in the 1992 film “A League Of Their Own” starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna.
The 1991 World Series
Not one, but two, underdog teams were involved in the 1991 World Series.
The previous season both the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves had come bottom in their respective leagues but in the 1991 both underwent a dramatic transformation to compete against each other in the World Series. To get there the Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays in just five games but it took all seven for the Braves to overcome the Pittsburgh Pirates.
When they finally met it resulted in a nail-biting series that also took all seven games to reach a result with a decisive single run being scored by the Twins in the final innings of the last game to claim victory.
Boston Red Sox 2004
Everything looked lost to the Red Sox when playing the New York Yankees to qualify for a place in the 2004 World Series. But, 3-0 down and coming out of a crushing 19-8 defeat, in game four they surprised everyone.
The pivotal moment came when Dave Roberts replaced Kevin Millar as the pinch runner. He cunningly stole second base and scored a run to tie the score, forcing a deciding innings in which David Ortiz’s home run led to a fifth game. This was also tied and had to go to 14th innings before the Red Sox won.
Confidence then sky-high, they went on to win the sixth and seventh games with ease before going on to crush the St Louis Cardinals 4-0 in the World Series.
St Louis Cardinals, 2006
However the Cardinals had their own remarkable comeback only two years later. Following a dismal season in which they’d only won five games, including losing 10 of the last 14 games they had played, none of the team had very good records. Only Albert Pujols had hit over .300 and only he and Scott Rolen had scored over 20 home runs all season.
But once in the playoffs it was a different story. First they beat the San Diego Padres to reach the NLCS where they overcame the New York Jets before going on to win the World Series 4-1 against the Detroit Tigers.