The World Series is underway, with Major League Baseball and its fans hoping it will last a little longer than last fall, when the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers. Seven of the last nine World Series have been over in four or five games, and baseball’s showcase has generally lacked the kind of drama we saw in 2011, when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in a seven-game thriller.
Yet even in the lopsided matchups, the World Series usually leaves something memorable for the winter ahead, and for many years to come. We asked several current major leaguers what they remember most from the World Series they watched growing up.
DAVID WRIGHT, 3B, Mets: “The one that sticks out in my mind, and granted I was 17 years old, is the Subway Series in 2000. I was a Norfolk Tide fan — the Mets had their Triple-A team there — and I thought it was cool that I could go and take a picture with a player, get a player’s autograph, and you turn on the TV the next week and he’s playing for the Mets. So I followed the Mets and rooted for the Mets for that reason. I remember more the trash talking than anything else, because I grew up with the Uptons (B.J. and Justin), and they were Yankee fans, or at least their dad was. He was a coach, and I remember talking trash with him while we were hitting together.”
PHIL HUGHES, P, Yankees: “My dad grew up in Rhode Island, so I was a Red Sox fan. In 2003, I wasn’t drafted yet and I had a job at Baskin-Robbins in Tustin, Calif. I had to work the night of Game 7 of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox, and my mom called and said, ‘Some guy named Boone did something, and they’re all jumping around.’ I was like, ‘Arrrgh!’ Then in 2004, I was drafted by the Yankees. I was home after short-season rookie ball, watching the Red Sox in the World Series with my dad, and I still remember the ground ball back to the pitcher for the last out, and how my dad was a lot more excited than I was. It’s funny, you think about it now and it doesn’t matter, but I almost felt like there was a camera on me, so I couldn’t be that excited. A year before, I was devastated. But that’s life. Things change. As long as I’m an employee of an ice cream shop, it’s okay to root for the Red Sox. But not when I’m an employee of the Yankees.”
JOEY VOTTO, 1B, Reds: “I'm a Cincinnati Red and I'm going to be a Cincinnati Red for my career, unless something unforeseen happens. But I'm from Toronto and they still have a little piece of my heart, because they're like my first love. Everyone has their first love and they were the World Series champions, back-to-back, in 1992 and 1993, wearing those cool uniforms with that cool team. So I have some fondness for them.”
C.C. SABATHIA, P, Yankees: “A lot of people I grew up with were Giants fans, but I was an A’s fan. I just liked those players. It was a big deal when they played in the ’89 World Series. Everybody had the split hats with the A’s on one side and the Giants on the other. I remember Kirk Gibson’s home run against the A’s in ’88, because I was watching with my grandfather, but I can’t tell you I have any memories of the ’89 World Series. I do remember I was watching on TV when the earthquake hit, though. I remember seeing the families on the field, out there walking around. We were fine. It shook a little bit, but nothing bad.”
MARK TEIXEIRA, 1B, Yankees: “I’m from Maryland, but I was only three when the Orioles won in 1983. My very first World Series memory was the Bill Buckner game in ’86. I was six years old and had just started watching baseball consistently, and I was actually rooting for the Mets. That team was fun to watch — (Darryl) Strawberry and (Dwight) Gooden and Howard Johnson, those guys were fun. And some of my other memories, growing up with TBS when the Braves were in it in ’91 and ’92, that was two years of heartache, but it was fun. I remember the Kent Hrbek play in ’91 — Ron Gant stepped on first base and Hrbek just threw him off. Talk about needing replay!”
MIKE TROUT, OF, Angels: “I was a big Chase Utley fan, and Jimmy Rollins. They played as a team, they had a great bullpen. It was like, if the Phillies had a lead in the seventh, it was almost game over. A couple of my buddies and I went up and tailgated when they won in Game 5 in 2008. We brought a little TV and watched the game in the parking lot. Went all the way down to City Hall with all the fans and stuff. It was crazy. The city went nuts.”
JAMES SHIELDS, P, Royals: “I always rooted for the Dodgers because that’s where I grew up, about 20 minutes from Dodger Stadium in Valencia. I remember ’88 pretty clearly. I loved baseball growing up, watched the World Series every year, and I stayed up for the Gibson home run. It was just amazing, when you hear the stories behind it, to see how it all transpired. It just showed a lot of guts and heart. I have a lot of respect for Kirk Gibson doing what he did. To hear him telling Tommy Lasorda how he wants an at-bat — he couldn’t even walk out of the dugout, let alone hit a home run! It’s a pretty special moment, for sure.”
ALFONSO SORIANO, OF, Yankees: “I didn’t really watch the World Series, but I always knew my mom was a big fan of Reggie Jackson. When he used to play with the Yankees and hit a lot of homers, my mom was a big fan. She would tell me about him hitting home runs in the World Series.”
By Tyler Kepner