Gonzalez's name etched in playoffs lore

Gonzalez's name etched in playoffs lore

BOSTON -- The first time Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez went to the postseason, the Venezuelan native enjoyed a Carlton Fisk-like moment.

Gonzalez attached his name to a rare list of players who ended a World Series game with a walk-off home run.

With the Marlins in 2003, Gonzalez changed momentum in Game 4 by lacing a home run just over the low wall near the left-field foul pole in Miami. The laser drive off Jeff Weaver to lead off the 12th inning lifted the Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the Yankees.

The World Series-tying shot was a turning point as the Marlins claimed the Fall Classic in six games.

In the postseason for the second time in his career, Gonzalez has secured the Red Sox's shortstop position. There is a twist of irony in the American League Division Series as Gonzalez on Friday night faced Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, Jeff's younger brother.

Gonzalez's walk-off six years ago is one of 14 in the World Series, with the last coming in 2005, when Scott Podsednik of the White Sox went deep off Houston's Brad Lidge to end Game 2.

The lone World Series walk-off in Red Sox history also is one of the most famous home runs in the history of the game.

Who hasn't seen replays of Fisk leaping, waving and seemingly willing his long drive to stay fair to end Game 6 of the 1975 Series at Fenway Park. Fisk's drive came off Pat Darcy, and at the time it was the sixth walk-off in World Series history.

Like Gonzalez, Fisk's blast led off the 12th inning.

WORLD SERIES WALK-OFFS
Alex Gonzalez is just one of 14 players to hit a walk-off homer in World Series history.
Year Player Club Opponent
1949 Tommy Henrich N.Y. Yankees Dodgers
1954 Dusty Rhodes N.Y. Giants Indians
1957 Eddie Mathews Milwaukee Braves Yankees
1960 Bill Mazeroski Pirates Yankees
1964 Mickey Mantle Yankees Cardinals
1975 Carlton Fisk Red Sox Reds
1988 Kirk Gibson Dodgers A's
1988 Mark McGwire A's Dodgers
1991 Kirby Puckett Twins Braves
1993 Joe Carter Blue Jays Phillies
1999 Chad Curtis Yankees Braves
2001 Derek Jeter Yankees Arizona
2003 Alex Gonzalez Marlins Yankees
2005 Scott Podsednik White Sox Astros

While Gonzalez shares the distinction of Fisk in ending a World Series game with a home run, in terms of notoriety, the two blasts are viewed in different stratospheres.

Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, also on the 2003 Marlins, feels Gonzalez's heroic hit is one of the most under-stated home runs in history?

"Absolutely," Lowell said. "If he does that for the Red Sox beating the Yankees, or the Red Sox beating the Cubs in the World Series, it would be one of the greatest home runs in the history of the game.

"But, we were kind of backs-against-the-wall in that whole market thing the whole postseason. That's just the way it is. But it was big. It made the Series, 2-2. It changed everything."

Lowell, the Red Sox's World Series MVP in 2007, also celebrated a significant home run in the 2003 playoffs. In Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Lowell delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 11th inning to lift the Marlins to a 9-8 win.

Gonzalez, who still has a home in Miami, has his historic baseball. He also said people in South Florida still talk to him about the walk-off.

"Everybody I know talks about it," said Gonzalez, who was dealt to Boston from the Reds in mid-August. "You had millions of people watching. To hit a World Series home run against the Yankees, we tied the Series. For me, it was one of the great feelings I've had my whole career."

Known more for his glove than bat, Gonzalez was 5-for-53 in the 2003 playoffs before homering off Weaver. Since rejoining the Red Sox -- he also was in Boston in 2006 -- Gonzalez batted .284 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 44 games.

In his 11th season, Gonzalez has 114 career home runs, but none bigger than his World Series shot.

"People in Miami, my friends, they still say, 'Thanks for the World Series home run.' It's still big," Gonzalez said. "I just saw it the other day on TV. Timing is big. I'll always remember that. That home run. It's something very special to me."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.