In both the 2-1 victory for the Texas Rangers over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series at Busch Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 20 and the 3-2 win for the team from Missouri on Wednesday in Game 1, there were some very unlikely heroes.
Allen Craig grabbed the headlines in that first contest with his pinch-hit, go-ahead single in the 6th inning to give his team a win, and Ian Kinsler came through in the clutch during the 9th inning of his club’s victory to splash his name across newspapers nationwide.
This isn’t the first time someone other than the superstars of teams have been the catalysts for victories in World Series play. In fact, it’s probably happened more often than most people would think. It also won’t be the last time. Some player many have heard little about is bound to come through with that one amazing play, that one fantastic hit, that will turn the tide in one of these title games ahead and in contests in future championship series.
Listed below are three players who have made a name for themselves on the grandest stage in Major League Baseball–the World Series–when prior to their spectacular performances, they were either not well-known, or at least not well-known for what they ended up doing:
The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals were a very powerful team. They finished with the best record in the majors that year at 106-48, and their lineup consisted of great players like Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion, Harry Walker, Terry Moore, Walker Cooper, and Stan Musial. However, it was the less-well-known Whitey Kurowski who was the hero of that 1942 World Series with a 9th-inning home run; helping the Cardinals to a 4-1 series victory over the New York Yankees. Sadly, for Kurowski, he was also the goat the following year, allowing the Bronx Bombers’ Johnny Lindell to knock the ball out of his glove when he slid into third base. That mistake allowed the key run to score in the key game that helped the Yankees to a 4-1 series win of their own.
I won’t kid anyone and say Mazeroski wasn’t a great player, but he was mainly known for his glove. He was definitely before my time, but from what I’ve read he was a defensive specialist; the Pittsburgh Pirates’ second-baseman winning eight Gold Glove awards over his career. However, it wasn’t with the leather that “Maz” etched his name into the history books, but with the lumber. In the 1960 World Series, the diminutive West Virginian hit one of the greatest home runs in the history of baseball, winning the title for the Pirates with one smack of his bat.
There are many who follow baseball even today who don’t know who Craig Counsell is or was. I mean that sincerely. I’ve talked to many baseball fans who simply don’t have a clue who the guy is, which should tell you how unlikely a hero he had to have been for the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series. While it was shortstop Edgar Renteria who hit the series-winning, 11th-inning single in Game 7, it was Counsell who drove in the tying run in the bottom of the 9th-inning of that contest that gave Renteria the chance to be the hero two innings later. Oh, and just who scored on Edgar’s single? That’s right, the Marlins’ second-baseman, Counsell.
More from Yahoo! Contributor Network:
Could the Miami Marlins Land Free Agent Catch Like Albert Pujols?
Are the St. Louis Cardinals a Team of Destiny After 18th NL Pennant
Tigers Finish Off Yankees Before Heading to Texas for ALCS
Don’t Count the St. Louis Cardinals Out yet Against the Philadelphia Phillies
All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com, and Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has rooted for all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.