1972 World Series
|Dates:||October 14 – 22|
|MVP:||Gene Tenace (Oakland)|
|TV announcers:||Curt Gowdy, Al Michaels (Games 1–2, 6–7), Monte Moore (Games 3–5) and Tony Kubek|
|Radio announcers:||Jim Simpson, Monte Moore (Games 1–2, 6–7) and Al Michaels (Games 3–5)|
|Umpires:||Chris Pelekoudas (NL), Jim Honochick (AL), Mel Steiner (NL), Frank Umont (AL), Bob Engel (NL), Bill Haller (AL)|
|Hall of Famers:||Athletics : Dick Williams (mgr.), Reggie Jackson (dnp), Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers.
Reds: Sparky Anderson (mgr.), Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Pérez.
|ALCS:||Oakland A's over Detroit Tigers (3–2)|
|NLCS:||Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates (3–2)|
The 1972 World Series matched the American League champion Oakland Athletics against the National League champion Cincinnati Reds, with the Athletics winning in seven games. These two teams would meet again in the fall classic 18 years later in 1990. Their managers would meet again in the fall classic a dozen years later in 1984, managing different teams and swapping leagues.
The A's won the American League West division by 5 1⁄2 games over the Chicago White Sox, then defeated the Detroit Tigers three games to two in the American League Championship Series. The Cincinnati Reds won the National League West division by 10 1⁄2 games over both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros. The Reds defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates three games to two in the National League Championship Series, marking the first year in which an LCS series in either league went the full five games since divisional play was introduced in 1969. The Reds, who won one fewer game than the Pirates during the regular season, became the first team in MLB history to reach the World Series without having the best record in its respective league. In each of the first six League Championship Series, the team with the better record advanced to the World Series.
This was Cincinnati's second trip to the World Series in three years. It was Oakland's first-ever trip to the Series, and the first for the franchise since 1931 when the team was located in Philadelphia.
This turned out to be a matchup of the two premier MLB dynasties of the 1970s, with the Reds winning two World Series in four WS appearances, while the A's would win three-straight (1972-74). Iconoclastic club owner Charlie Finley's "Swingin' A's" featured day-glo uniforms, lots of facial hair, colorful nicknames, and explosive personalities, while "The Big Red Machine" were a more traditional franchise with a more traditional look—and an everyday lineup with multiple future Hall of Famers as well as all-time hits king, Pete Rose. The Series was dubbed "The Hairs vs. the Squares."
Oakland played the Series without its star outfielder Reggie Jackson, who was injured (pulled hamstring) stealing home in the final game of the ALCS against Detroit. Left-handed relief reliever Darold Knowles was also missing, breaking his thumb on September 27, less than three weeks before the Series opener.
With Jackson out, the Athletics were decided underdogs. George Hendrick was inserted into center field for Jackson. And while Hendrick only went 2-for-15 (.133 avg.), unheralded catcher Gene Tenace stepped up. Tenace had a poor regular season, hitting only .225 with five home runs. He was even worse in the AL Championship series against Detroit, going 1 for 17 (.059), although his one hit drove in the go-ahead run in Game 5. In the World Series however, Tenace was spectacular, hitting four home runs equaling the World Series mark set by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Bauer. He also had nine RBI in the Series—no other Oakland player had more than one. Tenace was voted World Series MVP.
By contrast, the stellar Oakland pitching kept the middle of the Reds lineup quiet for most of the series. Johnny Bench (.270 avg., 40 HR, 125 RBI, NL MVP), Tony Pérez (.283 avg., 21 HR, 90 RBI), and Denis Menke (9 HR, 50 RBI), combined for only two homers and five RBI the entire Series.
The teams were fairly equal statistically, each club totaling 46 hits with the same .209 batting average (the combined batting averages were the lowest recorded in all World Series played up to that year). The Reds out-scored the A's, 21–16, but lost each of their four games by a single run. Six of the seven games in the series were decided by one run, marking perhaps the most closely contested World Series in MLB history.
|1||October 14||Oakland A's – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2||Riverfront Stadium||2:18||52,918|
|2||October 15||Oakland A's – 2, Cincinnati Reds – 1||Riverfront Stadium||2:26||53,224|
|3||October 18†||Cincinnati Reds – 1, Oakland A's – 0||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||2:24||49,410|
|4||October 19||Cincinnati Reds – 2, Oakland A's – 3||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||2:06||49,410|
|5||October 20||Cincinnati Reds – 5, Oakland A's – 4||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||2:26||49,410|
|6||October 21||Oakland A's – 1, Cincinnati Reds – 8||Riverfront Stadium||2:21||52,737|
|7||October 22||Oakland A's – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2||Riverfront Stadium||2:50||56,040|
†: postponed from October 17 due to rain
|WP: Ken Holtzman (1–0) LP: Gary Nolan (0–1) Sv: Vida Blue (1)
OAK: Gene Tenace 2 (2)
The Series opened in unexpected fashion as unheralded catcher Gene Tenace of the A's hit a home run in each of his first two at-bats, leading Oakland. Tenace was the first player ever to homer in his two initial Series plate appearances, a feat later matched by Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves in 1996.
|WP: Catfish Hunter (1–0) LP: Ross Grimsley (0–1) Sv: Rollie Fingers (1)
OAK: Joe Rudi (1)
Jackie Robinson, the first black major-league player of the modern era, made his final public appearance in Cincinnati before Game 2 (he would die nine days later). In a brief speech, he expressed his desire to see a black manager of a Major League Baseball team, a color barrier that had not yet been broken. That honor would eventually go to a former Reds great, Frank Robinson, when he was hired to manage the Cleveland Indians in 1975.
The Game 2 hero would be A's left fielder Joe Rudi, who smacked a home run and added a sparkling, game-saving catch up against the wall in the ninth inning on a ball hit by Denis Menke. Catfish Hunter pitched eight strong innings, consistently wiggling out of trouble, and also added an RBI single in the second off Ross Grimsley. The Reds' failure to produce in the clutch was as much the story as Rudi's heroics as Cincinnati had leadoff baserunners in five innings but only scored a run in the ninth.
In the ninth, Tony Pérez led off with a base hit before Rudi's catch of Menke's drive for the first out. Oakland first baseman Mike Hegan then made another great defensive play when César Gerónimo, the next Reds hitter, lined a shot that appeared headed down the line for extra bases. Hegan dove for the ball, knocked it down, and dove for the bag, barely beating Geronimo. Pérez took second and scored on a Hal McRae single through the middle. Rollie Fingers then relieved Hunter and induced pinch hitter Julián Javier to pop out to Hegan in foul territory to end the game. The World Series home loss was Reds' seventh-straight, which included three in the 1961 World Series against the New York Yankees (at Crosley Field) and two in the 1970 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
|WP: Jack Billingham (1–0) LP: Blue Moon Odom (0–1) Sv: Clay Carroll (1)|
Reds starter Jack Billingham was brilliant, holding the A's to three hits in eight innings. The Reds pushed across the game's only run in the seventh when César Gerónimo singled home Tony Pérez. Pérez scored despite slipping on the damp grass as he was rounding third; it had rained heavily in Oakland the day, postponing Game 3 by a day. Oakland second baseman Dick Green was apparently unaware that Perez had slipped; otherwise, it appeared Green may have had a play at the plate. Clay Carroll pitched the ninth for the save.
A rare trick play occurred in the eighth inning. The Reds had Joe Morgan on third and Bobby Tolan on first base with Rollie Fingers pitching to NL MVP Johnny Bench. Fingers pitched carefully to Bench before Tolan stole second base on ball three. After the stolen base, with the count 3–2 on Bench, A's manager Dick Williams visited the mound. After a long discussion, he motioned for an intentional walk to Bench. A's catcher Gene Tenace stood to catch ball four, but at the last second returned to his crouch as Fingers delivered a strike on the outside corner. Bench watched the pitch go by for strike three.
|WP: Rollie Fingers (1–0) LP: Clay Carroll (0–1)
OAK: Gene Tenace (3)
Probably the one game that swung the entire series, and it was Gene Tenace and Oakland non-starters who came through in the ninth inning to rally the Athletics to victory.
Oakland left-handed starting pitcher Ken Holtzman shut out the Reds on four hits through seven innings and had a 1–0 lead behind Tenace's third homer of the series. With two outs in the eighth inning and Dave Concepción on second base, A's manager Dick Williams brought in left-hander Vida Blue to face left-handed hitters Joe Morgan and Bobby Tolan. But Blue walked Morgan and allowed a clutch two-run double to Tolan, giving Cincinnati the lead as the Reds seemed poised to tie the series at 2 games apiece.
In the bottom of the ninth, however, with one out, the A's strung together four consecutive hits to score two runs. Pinch hitter Gonzalo Marquez singled, Tenace followed with a single, Don Mincher followed with another pinch-hit single scoring pinch-runner Allan Lewis to tie the game before a third pinch-hitter, Angel Mangual, singled off Clay Carroll to score Tenace with the game-winner to put Oakland up three games to one. It was the first time that a team collected three pinch hits in the same World Series inning.
|WP: Ross Grimsley (1–1) LP: Rollie Fingers (1–1) Sv: Jack Billingham (1)
CIN: Pete Rose (1), Denis Menke (1)
OAK: Gene Tenace (4)
Up three games to one and with ace Catfish Hunter on the mound, the A's looked to close out Cincinnati. But the Reds got a home run by Pete Rose to lead off the game and Rose also drove in the game-winner in the ninth. The dramatic game ended when Joe Morgan threw out the potential game-tying run at the plate as the Reds staved off elimination.
Trailing 1–0 in the second, Gene Tenace hit his fourth home run of the series, a three-run shot, to put Oakland up by two. The Reds cut the lead to 3–2 in the fourth on a solo homer by Denis Menke. Angel Mangual came through with another pinch RBI single in the A's half of the fourth to make it 4–2.
With two outs in the fifth, Joe Morgan walked. With a 3–2 count on Bobby Tolan, Morgan broke for second and was able to score when Tolan lined a base hit into right-center field. The speedy Morgan and Tolan collaborated once again to tie the game in the eighth. Morgan again walked and stole second and Tolan brought him in with a single.
In the ninth, Rose singled in the go-ahead run. The Reds preserved the lead when, with one out and runners on first and third, Bert Campaneris hit a foul pop on the first-base side that first baseman Tony Pérez appeared to call. Second baseman Morgan raced over, waved Perez off, caught the ball, and fired home to nail pinch runner Blue Moon Odom, who had tagged from third.
The Friday afternoon contest was the last non-weekend World Series day game. The three games in Oakland were all scheduled to be played at night, but Game 3 was rained out, forcing Game 5 to be played on a Friday, originally scheduled as a travel day. The game was played in the afternoon (1 p.m. PDT) to allow ample time for the teams to travel to Cincinnati for Game 6 the next day.
|WP: Ross Grimsley (2–1) LP: Vida Blue (0–1) Sv: Tom Hall (1)
CIN: Johnny Bench (1)
Back at the friendly confines of Riverfront Stadium, the Reds tied the series at 3 games apiece with an 8–1 rout. Johnny Bench, who had no homers or RBI in the series to that point, broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with a solo homer off starter Vida Blue. The A's fought back on a Dick Green RBI double in their half of the fifth, but from then on it was all Reds. Dave Concepción had a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Tony Pérez an RBI single in the sixth (his first RBI of the Series). The Reds then broke it open with a five-run seventh an RBI single by Joe Morgan and a pair of two-run singles by Bobby Tolan and César Gerónimo.
|WP: Catfish Hunter (2–0) LP: Pedro Borbón (0–1) Sv: Rollie Fingers (2)|
Oakland scored an unearned run in the first inning off Jack Billingham when Reds center fielder Bobby Tolan misplayed a fly ball. The Reds tied the game in the fifth on Hal McRae's sacrifice fly. However, McRae was pinch hitting for Billingham who had allowed no earned runs in 13 2⁄3 innings against the A's. His replacement in the sixth inning, Pedro Borbón, allowed the two deciding runs on RBI doubles by Tenace and Bando. The Reds closed to within 3–2 in the eighth, but A's closer Rollie Fingers shut down the Reds in the ninth.
The World Series victory for the Oakland A's was the first for the franchise since the days of Connie Mack when the team was in Philadelphia and had won in 1930. The victory ensured manager Dick Williams' return for another year. It was the Athletics' sixth World Series title. This is the last time to date that an American League team has won a World Series Game 7 on the road.
|Total attendance: 363,149 Average attendance: 51,878
Winning player's share: $20,705 Losing player's share: $15,080
Radio and television
- This was Al Michaels' first World Series as a play-by-play man; he was then a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, Major League Baseball and NBC had a policy (which ended in 1977) in which announcers from the participating World Series teams were allowed to commentate on the national television and radio broadcasts. Michaels would not call another World Series until 1979, after he had joined ABC Sports.
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- 1972 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1972 World Series at Baseball Almanac
- 1972 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- The 1972 Post-Season Games (box scores and play-by-play) at Retrosheet
- History of the World Series - 1972 at The SportingNews. Archived from the original on 2008.
- 1972 NLCS | Game 5 at MLB.com
- Mustaches All the Way at SI.com
- The 1972 Oakland Athletics at baseballlibrary.com
- The 1972 Cincinnati Reds at baseballlibrary.com
- Reds History at redshistory.com
- Joe Rudi's game-saving Game 2 catch