Network anoints '75 Series epic as top game

Network anoints '75 Series epic as top game

Network anoints '75 Series epic as top game
Gerald Ford was in the White House, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was on the radio, NASA's Viking 1 was on its way toward Mars, and Saigon and Joe Frazier had both just fallen after famously long fights in Southeast Asia.

On that night of Oct. 21, 1975, and into the wee hours of the 22nd, much of America was watching the most unbelievable Major League Baseball game they'd ever seen.

Pete Rose led off the top of the 11th inning for Cincinnati. Carlton Fisk was behind the plate for Boston. It was Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park, the score was tied at 6, and as he stepped into the batter's box, Charlie Hustle said to Pudge: "Man, isn't this the most exciting game you ever played in?"

According to MLB Network, it is the greatest game of the past 50 years. It will air the three-hour finale of the MLB's 20 Greatest Games series at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, fully exploring a classic that featured five Hall of Famers, 13 All-Stars and, finally, the 12th-inning homer waved fair by Fisk.

"I was telling the truth, I was having fun," Rose said recently of his question for Fisk. "I mean, win, lose or draw -- man, I was happy to play in this game. Let me tell you something, man, I played 3,500 games and that's the most exciting game I ever played in."

Rose, Bernie Carbo, Dwight Evans, Pat Darcy and Denny Doyle are featured in interviews throughout the Network's series finale. Hall of Famer and former Reds catcher Johnny Bench and 1975 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year Fred Lynn join MLB Network's Bob Costas and Tom Verducci in-studio to discuss the game. You can watch Bench and Lynn discuss the significance of Game 6 to each club, the groundbreaking use of pitchers, Lynn's dangerous crash into the outfield wall that led to today's padding, key longballs by Carbo and Cesar Geronimo, and the legacy 36 years later.

"You could make a case for a number of different games, but we decided on this one at No. 1 not only because it had such a dramatic ending in a classic setting like Fenway Park, but because there were so many ins and outs within the game itself, so many potential turning points, so many nuances," Costas said. "In the series itself -- although this is the most famous game from the series -- five of the seven games were decided by one run. . . . It was actually a significant game in television history, too, because of the rating it got and the way it was produced and directed. It had everything. And that's why it emerged as No. 1."

Of course, the Big Red Machine emerged at No. 1 in the subsequent Game 7, a validation for Sparky Anderson's vaunted club, which had lost twice in the Fall Classic during the 1970s.

"After the game ... Sparky is down there, he's all worried," Rose remembered, "and I said, 'But Sparky, don't worry about it, man. Did you see how they reacted to that home run? We got them right where we want them, don't worry about it.' He said, 'You guys are the Big Red Machine, you never won nothing.' I said, 'Just relax, take it easy, just go get in a good night's sleep, come back tomorrow.' And we went and got a good night's sleep, came back tomorrow and won the World Series."

Fisk did not participate in the Network's special tribute to the Hall of Famer's most famous achievement as a player. Lynn remembered it well.

"It was euphoric obviously in the clubhouse, but all that allows us to do is play Game 7, so we have to regroup as well," he said. "I didn't know the ramifications of that game and that series until later in my career. Again, I was a rookie -- these are all new experiences for me and I was taking it for granted that we would be back again. Turned out this was my first and only World Series, so now I really look back on it fondly. I think we did some really good things, both teams. We put baseball back on the map in the forefront with the NBC production and all the things that happened there. It was just a great experience and I'm glad I was a part of it."

MLB Network began its countdown of MLB's 20 Greatest Games in January. The list features nine World Series games, six League Championship Series games, two League Division Series games, two Division tiebreakers and one regular season game.

Episodes throughout the series featured interviews with guests including Jack Morris, John Smoltz, Bill Buckner, Andy Van Slyke, Darryl Strawberry, Aaron Boone, Pedro Martinez, Joe Torre, Kirk Gibson, Bucky Dent, Joe Carter and David Cone. A one-hour recap show of MLB's 20 Greatest Games will air at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, prior to the series finale.

"Everybody in America saw that game," Bench said, "and all of the sudden baseball was great again."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. You also can leave comments on his MLB.com Blogs Central community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.