This year's Fall Classic between the Tigers and the Cardinals will inevitably serve as a platform for the stars to shine, and for the unheralded to stake their claim to history.
In 1990, Billy Hatcher rose from relative obscurity to record seven consecutive hits en route to a .750 average -- both Fall Classic records -- in leading the Reds to an improbable sweep of the heavily favored Athletics.
Who, if anyone, will deliver this October's surprise act? Perhaps Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco, who carries a staggering .471 postseason average into the World Series.
Many of us have heard of Yankees right-hander Don Larsen's no-hitter (and perfect game) against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series, but few of us recall Mets southpaw Jerry Koosman's no-hit bid against the Orioles in 1969. Koosman was the last pitcher to hurl six or more no-hit innings in the World Series.
But is Koosman's spot in the record books in jeopardy? Could Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman become the latest man to carry a no-hitter into the seventh inning? Given his performance in Game 4 of Detroit's American League Division Series against the Yankees, it's a viable possibility. The 23-year-old stud baffled the offensively stacked Bronx Bombers with five frames of perfect ball before losing his no-hit bid in the sixth inning of Detroit's series-clinching win.
Bondermania aside, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is a bona fide threat to hurl a no-no. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner didn't disappoint during the regular season, tossing three shutouts and a pair of two-hitters for the Redbirds.
Five years ago, then-Diamondback Randy Johnson became the oldest pitcher to throw a shutout, at 38 years, 1 month and 18 days, on his way to World Series co-MVP honors. This year's Fall Classic features a 41-year-old southpaw with a legitimate shot at besting Johnson's feat: Detroit's Kenny Rogers.
Rogers has been nothing short of impeccable in the postseason. After blanking the Yankees over 7 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the ALDS, the crafty off-speeder stymied the A's with 7 1/3 shutout frames in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.
Will Rogers go the distance and make World Series history? Only time will tell.
As previously mentioned, Jackson and Ruth share the single-game World Series home run record. In spite of his ailing right hamstring, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has the power to challenge that legendary mark, having delivered a pair of three-homer games in the regular season.
A simple review of the past goes a long way in understanding the future of the World Series, in which stories are told largely by the numbers. Which heroes will emerge this October? Stay tuned.