Top 10 Greatest September Moments in Baseball History


September baseball and the height of the pennant races have given us some of the greatest moments in baseball history.

As records fall and teams either secure their spot in the postseason or choke down the stretch, some of the most memorable moments in the history of the sport take place.

So here is a look at the 10 greatest moments in September baseball history, 10 moments that will forever go down in baseball lore.

10. Mariano Rivera Breaks Career Saves Mark

Date: September 19, 2011

Former Padres great Trevor Hoffman closed out his career with 10 saves as a member of the Brewers in 2010, ending his 18 seasons in the league with 601 saves.

Yankees great Mariano Rivera entered the 2011 season with 559 career saves, and with Hoffman retired, he was 42 saves away from the all-time mark.

He went on to save 44 games during the 2011 season, with the record breaker coming against the Twins in a 6-4 victory on September 19.

9. Pete Rose Breaks All-Time Hits Record

Date: September 11, 1985

While his legacy will forever be tarnished as a result of him betting on baseball and subsequently being banned from the sport, that had no effect on his play on the field, where he put together one of the greatest careers of all time.

In his second-to-last season in the majors, while serving as the player/manager of the Reds, Rose broke one of baseball’s longest-standing records when he recorded his 4,192nd career hit with a single off of Padres pitcher Eric Snow.

It was later revealed that two of Cobb’s hits had been counted twice, so Rose had actually broken the record on September 8 against the Cubs. But for all intents and purposes, and in terms of celebrating the moment, it was his hit on September 11 that was honored.

8. Ted Williams Homers in Final Plate Appearance of His Career

Date: September 28, 1960

Ted Williams put together one of the finest careers in baseball history, ending his 21 years in the league as arguably the greatest hitter of all time.

The 1960 season was the last of his career, and even as a 41-year-old, he put together a .316 BA, 29 HR, 72 RBI season over 310 at-bats.

In the final game of the season, facing the Baltimore Orioles, Williams came up against Jack Fisher in what would be the final at-bat of his career and launched a game-tying home run to deep center field.

It was the perfect end to one of the greatest careers in the history of the game, and him rounding third base is one of the indelible images of his career.

7. Gabby Hartnett Hits ‘Homer in the Gloamin”

Date: September 28, 1938

With the Pirates and Cubs battling for the National League crown, the two teams met for a three-game series with six games to play late in the 1938 season with the Pirates clinging to a 1.5-game lead.

The Cubs took the first game of the series to pull within half a game, setting up an exciting second game that could move the Cubs into first place.

With the score knotted at 5-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the umpires determined that the game would be stopped due to darkness at the end of the inning; Wrigley Field did not have lights at the time.

With two outs and an 0-2 count, Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett launched a ball through the darkness and into the left-center field bleachers. The Cubs would sweep the series and clinch the pennant three days later.

6. Jim Abbott Throws No-Hitter

Date: September 4, 1993

Few sports stories are as uplifting as that of Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand yet still went on to be a first-round pick out of the University of Michigan and enjoyed a 10-year big league career.

He had an up-and-down career and finished with a record of 87-108 with a 4.25 ERA while pitching for the Angels, Yankees, White Sox and Brewers. But there’s no question that the marquee moment of his career came with the Yankees.

On September 4, 1993, Abbott squared off against an Indians lineup that featured the likes of Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle and youngsters Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome.

He pitched the game of his career, no-hitting their potent lineup as he struck out three and walked five, accomplishing the feat in 119 pitches.

Without question, it goes down as one of the most inspirational moments in baseball history.

5. Cal Ripken Jr. Becomes Baseball’s Iron Man

Date: September 6, 1995

Despite greats such as Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson suiting up for the Orioles throughout the years, among many others, there is no doubt that the most revered player in Baltimore baseball history is Cal Ripken Jr.

One of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game, Ripken is best known for setting the consecutive-games-played mark, and the day he passed Lou Gehrig with game No. 2,131 was a spectacle.

With the president on hand and a big ceremony to honor the significant achievement, Ripken sent the Baltimore crowd into a frenzy when he took a 3-0 meatball from Angels starter Shawn Boskie out to left field, going back-to-back with Bobby Bonilla in the process.

When the game was official following the fifth inning, the numbers on the warehouse across the street changed to 2,131, and he was given a 22-minute standing ovation during which ESPN did not go to commercial at any time as he completed his memorable lap of the field.

4. Ted Williams Plays in Season-Ending Doubleheader, Earns .400 Average

Date: September 28, 1941

The last time anyone hit .400 in a season was when the great Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, and he closed out the season like a true ballplayer when he opted to play instead of sit out and assure he wouldn’t slip below .400.

The Red Sox closed out their season with a doubleheader against the Philadelphia A’s, and Williams entered the game hitting .39955 on the season, which would have been rounded up to an even .400.

Offered the chance to sit out, Williams said he didn’t deserve the honor if he didn’t play, and he trotted onto the field and went 6-for-8 over the two games to end the year with a .406 average.

It really puts into perspective what Jose Reyes did last season when he singled in his first at-bat of the final game and then sat out to assure he’d win the batting title.

3. Mike Piazza Hits Game-Winning Home Run First Game Back After 9/11

Date: September 21, 2001

For a country that was shook to its core by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a return to playing baseball in New York meant a temporary escape from what had happened for the city’s people. And for the entire country, it was another step toward normalcy that everyone desperately needed.

On September 21, 2001, the Mets took on the Braves in the first baseball game played in New York since the attacks. Emotions ran high in the stadium, as a pregame ceremony honored those who lost their lives in the city where it all went down.

Each team scored a run in the fourth inning, and the Braves took the lead in the top of the eighth as it looked like the Mets homecoming would be spoiled.

Instead, in a moment that seemed too perfect to be true, the Mets reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the eighth when Mike Piazza hit a two-run home run off of reliever Steve Karsay, and the Mets would come away with a 3-2 victory that meant much more than a notch in the win column.

2. Mark McGwire Hits No. 62

Date: September 8, 1998

While steroids have tainted the accomplishments of juiced-up sluggers like Mark McGwire, there is no denying that the 1998 home run race not only captivated the nation but was exactly what baseball needed to fully bounce back from the 1994 strike.

When all was said and done, both McGwire (70 HR) and Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa (66 HR) broke Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs that had stood since 1961.

The record-breaking blow for McGwire, who was first to break the record, came on September 8, when Big Mac lined a Steve Trachsel offering just over the fence in left field at Busch Stadium.

His record would stand just three seasons before Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, and while he has yet to gain entry to the Hall of Fame due to his steroid use, you have to admit that his record-breaking home run was one of the most exciting baseball moments in the past 20 years.

1. Game 162

Date: September 28, 2011

The final day of last season will go down as the most exciting day in baseball history, as two teams clinched a playoff spot in the span of 129 minutes. Pages and pages could be written about what went down on that day, but here is a quick summary via Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci.

With the Braves two outs from victory, Chase Utley of Philadelphia tied the game in Atlanta with a sacrifice fly against Craig Kimbrel, the baby-faced rookie closer for the Braves who was pitching with the earnestness of youth, but more obviously with the toll of overuse and stress from a grueling stretch run. Red-cheeked and flustered, he invited pity more than scorn.

Nothing would be the same in the next 129 minutes. Fortunes were reversed. Reputations were made and destroyed. Careers were altered.

10:23 p.m.: Evan Longoria hits a three-run homer to bring Tampa Bay to within 7-6 of the Yankees.

10:26: St. Louis completes an 8-0 trouncing of Houston and repairs to clubhouse televisions to watch the Braves.

10:47: Dan Johnson, hitting .108—a number (without the decimal) considered sacred in many Eastern religions but an outright travesty in baseball—hits a game-tying home run for the Rays when they are down to their last strike.

10:58: The Red Sox resume their game in Baltimore after a long rain delay, a delay that now makes sense as the baseball gods setting this game aside for a bit—like allowing the dough to sit before baking—so that the Boston and Tampa Bay games could crescendo minutes apart.

11:28: Hunter Pence of Philadelphia, with the ugliest of swings producing the ugliest of hits, squibs a broken-bat single to put the Phillies ahead of the Braves 4-3 in the 13th inning.

11:40: Freddie Freeman of Atlanta grounds into a double play, ending the game and eliminating the Braves.

11:59: Nolan Reimold of Baltimore, with the Orioles down to their last strike, ties the game with a ground-rule double off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon.

12:02: Robert Andino wins the game for Baltimore with a single. The Red Sox, as it turns out, have three minutes to live.

12:05: Longoria hits a home run off Scott Proctor to win the game for Tampa Bay.

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