Tennessee Baseball Players Who Made a Difference in World Series Games

It took six games for the Houston Astros to finish off the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2022 World Series. Neither roster had a connection to Tennessee, although Phillies pitching coach, Caleb Cotham, is from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Here are ten special Tennesseans who played a key part in previous World Series games:

Claude Osteen

A Caney Springs product, Osteen was 15-15 during the regular season, but saved the Dodgers series in 1965 with his 4-0 shutout over Minnesota in Game 3 after Drysdale and Koufax were beaten in Games 1 and 2. He allowed only five hits in his win.

David Price

Born in Murfreesboro, Price won Games 1 and 5 2018 World Series against Dodgers. When he relieved Matt Barnes in the ninth inning of Game 3, he became the first pitcher to start World Series games no more than four days apart while also pitching in relief between those games since Jack Billingham of the Cincinnati Reds did so in the 1972 World Series. For the Series, Price allowed only three runs for a 1.98 ERA.

Jim Gilliam

Rising from the Nashville’s sandlots and the Baltimore Elite Giants, Gilliam displaced Jackie Robinson at second base with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1953, and in his first appearance in the World Series that season, he singled and later hit a home run in the Dodgers’ loss to the Yankees. Ten years later, after advancing all the way to third base on an error by New York’s Joe Pepitone in the seventh inning of Game 4, he scored on a Willie Davis sacrifice fly to give the Dodgers a 2–1 win and a Series sweep.

Jim Zapp

Born in Nashville in 1924, Zapp’s powerful swing and ability to make with contact with the ball, was instrumental in his signing with the Birmingham Black Barons. His home run in Game 3 of the playoffs against the Kansas City Monarchs was instrumental in advancing to the 1948 Negro Leagues World Series in 1948. Although his team lost to the Homestead Grays in five games, he hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game on the way to an extra-innings victory.

Johnny Beazley

A Hume-Fogg graduate, Beazley won two games as a rookie for the Cardinals in 1942 when they snapped the Yankees streak in the Series (8 Series appearances between 1927 and 1941 – 8 championships). The native Nashvillian held New York to three runs in Game 2 in a 4-3 St. Louis win, then came back in Game 5 to win, 4-2. He enlisted in the Air Force after the season and hurt his arm playing in an Army baseball game. Attempting a comeback in 1946, he was never able to regain his pitching success.

Mookie Betts

A product of Nashville’s Overton High School, Betts had three defensive gems against the Braves in the National League Championship Series to lead the Dodgers into the 2020 World Series. Facing Tampa Bay Rays, Betts scored twice and hit a home run in Game 6 to clinch the Series in a 3-1 win. Having homered in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series that secured Boston’s win over the Dodgers, Betts became the ninth player to homer in multiple World Series clinchers.

Phil Garner

Born in Jefferson City, Garner played baseball at the University of Tennessee before embarking on a professional career. As a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 National League pennant-winning team, he batted .500 in the World Series against the Orioles, and had twelve hits in twenty-four at-bats, five RBIs, and scored four runs. He returned to the World Series in 2005 as manager of the wild-card Astros who were swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games. It was Houston’s first trip to the Series.

Rick Dempsey

Known for his shenanigans during rain-delays, in 1983 Fayetteville’s Dempsey was Most Valuable Player of the World Series as the Oriole’s faced the Phillies. In the five-game Series, he posted a .385 batting average and had a .923 slugging percentage. He is one of six catchers to have won the MVP award. Catching pitcher Scott McGregor’s complete game, five-hit shutout, 5-0, Dempsey homered, doubled, and scored two runs as Baltimore clinched the Series.

Tim McCarver

With the 1964 World Series tied 2-2 against the Yankees, he hit a three-run home run in the tenth inning of Game 5 to lead the Cardinals to a 5-2 win. The Memphis Christian Brothers product was 11-for-23 (.478) with five RBI and scored four runs and tied a Series record by hitting safely in all seven games as the Cardinals won the Series.

Tommy Bridges

After winning Game 2 of the 1935 World Series by allowing only six hits in the Tigers’ 8-3 win over the Cubs, Gordonsville’s Bridges started again in Game 6. With the score knotted at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, the first batter was Stan Hack, who tripled. Bridges shut the Cubs down by striking out Bill Jurges on three pitches, getting the second out when Larry French hit a weak grounder back to the mound, and getting Augie Galan to fly out to left field. In the bottom of the inning, Goose Goslin knocked in Mickey Cochrane with two outs to win the game, 4-3. It was Detroit’s first World Series Championship.

© 2022 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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