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Podsednik joins elite company

Podsednik joins short list of walk-off heroes

CHICAGO -- Long before the term "walk-off homer" was coined, Tommy Henrich hit a fastball from Don Newcombe over the wall in the bottom of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. It was the only scoring that day as the New York Yankees took Game 1 from the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1949 World Series.

On Sunday night, Scott Podsednik became the 13th Major Leaguer since Heinrich to accomplish the feat when he took Houston closer Brad Lidge deep in the bottom of the ninth at U.S. Cellular Field to give the Chicago White Sox a 2-0 World Series lead. Until someone comes along and matches Don Larsen's 1956 World Series perfect game, it doesn't get much bigger than this in baseball's hallowed event.

"I don't think anybody in the ballpark was thinking about me hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Podsednik said.

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Walk-off homers are instant legend. Bill Mazeroski was the first person to end a World Series that way, doing it for Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the 1960 Fall Classic against the Yankees. The only other person who ended a World Series in that manner did it exactly 12 years to the day before Podsednik's feat. That was Joe Carter, finishing off the 1993 World Series for Toronto against Philadelphia at SkyDome.

The most famous walk-off did not occur in the World Series, but rather in a playoff game between the Giants and Dodgers on Oct. 3, 1951, at the Polo Grounds. Bobby Thomson's "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" off Ralph Branca in Game 3 of the National League Playoffs lifted the Giants into the World Series and led Russ Hodges to exclaim what has become one of the most famous radio calls in baseball history: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"

There have been four walk-off homers in World Series play since Carter's stunner, and here is one of the most remarkable facts of all: Roger Clemens has been a part of all of them. Clemens was on the Yankees' pitching staff when Chad Curtis hit a Game 3 walk-off homer in the 1999 World Series against Atlanta, and also when Derek Jeter did that to win Game 4 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona. Clemens started his final game as a Yankee that night in 2003 when Alex Gonzalez hit a Game 4 walk-off homer for the Florida Marlins, and the Rocket was on the Astros' staff Sunday night.

Wherever Clemens goes, walk-off homers just seem to follow. They don't have to come in the Fall Classic to drive fans absolutely mad, either. Clemens' teammate at the time, Aaron Boone, hit the Game 7 walk-off homer to crush Boston for the 2003 American League pennant. Clemens' teammate, Chris Burke, ended an 18-inning marathon with a homer just this month to eliminate Atlanta, becoming one of only six players to finish any postseason series with a home run.


World Series Walk-Off Homers
Scott Podsednik's memorable homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to win Game 2 for the White Sox was the 14th such World Series blast.
Year
Player
Team
Opp.
Gm.
Inn.
Score
1949
Tommy Henrich
NYY
BRO
1
9
1-0
1954
Dusty Rhodes
NYG
CLE
1
10
5-2
1957
Eddie Mathews
MIL
NYY
4
10
7-5
1960
Bill Mazeroski
PIT
NYY
7
9
10-9
1964
Mickey Mantle
NYY
STL
3
9
2-1
1975
Carlton Fisk
BOS
CIN
6
12
7-6
1988
Kirk Gibson
LAD
OAK
1
9
5-4
1988
Mark McGwire
OAK
LAD
3
9
2-1
1991
Kirby Puckett
MIN
ATL
6
11
4-3
1993
Joe Carter
TOR
PHI
6
9
8-6
1999
Chad Curtis
NYY
ATL
3
10
6-5
2001
Derek Jeter
NYY
ARI
4
10
4-3
2003
Alex Gonzalez
FLA
NYY
4
12
4-3
2005
Scott Podsednik
CWS
HOU
2
9
7-6

Hey, Clemens was even there as an Astro at last year's National League Championship Series when there were back-to-back walk-off jacks. This is starting to get eerie, fellow history buffs.

Who can forget Jeff Kent's homer to give Houston a 3-2 series lead in its final home game last year, only to be followed by Jim Edmonds' 11th-inning clout once that series returned to St. Louis? Clemens was there for both.

Somewhere, David Ortiz was appreciating this home run by Podsednik. It would have been easy to picture someone like Ortiz doing this; he seems to have made his living that way, most notably during that playoff run last year for Boston. But Podsednik? No one saw this one coming, and he is now a permanent part of Chicago sports lore.

Nothing can quite compare to a World Series walk-off homer. White Sox fans had not seen a World Series in their city since the year before Maz went yard, and now they have a certifiable memento no matter what happens. What makes a walk-off homer so special is that, by its very nature, it made the home team happy. There are classic home runs that have been hit on the road during World Series past, and there are classic homers like those three Reggie Jackson hit in one game that are forever remembered. But to do it at home in the bottom of the last inning: priceless.

It was the same kind of thrill that Boston fans experienced when Carlton Fisk waved his hit fair right into the left-field foul pole at Fenway Park, ending a classic Game 6 against Cincinnati 30 years ago.

It was the same kind of thrill that Los Angeles fans experienced when Kirk Gibson limped up to the plate and homered off Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. And how many people remember that Mark McGwire finished Game 3 of that Fall Classic the same way?

It was the same kind of thrill that the home fans were given by Dusty Rhodes of the New York Giants in Game 1 of the 1954 Series against the Indians; by Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves in Game 4 of the 1957 Series against the Yanks; by Mickey Mantle of the Yanks in Game 3 of the 1964 Series against the Cardinals; and by Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins in that classic 1991 Series against the Braves.

This one by Podsednik was the first walk-off homer by a White Sox player, and overall it was the 54th time in World Series history that a game did not end with an out. That Alex Gonzalez homer marked the last such occasion.

For more on the history of postseason walk-off homers, MLB.com offers ways to relive them and even own many of them. MLB.com's exclusive Digital Download Service allows fans to download those historic walk-off games such as Fisk or Gibson, and the Baseball's Best library features classic radio and/or TV broadcasts of those great moments like Maz and Carter.

Add Pods to the list.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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