What are the strangest things to happen during the MLB World Series?
October 23, 2019 7:58PM
Since the first MLB World Series in 1903, dozens of strange, notable, or downright bizarre moments have occurred during the Fall Classic. Here are a few of the most unusual:
- A guy parachuted onto the field. In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, then-37-year-old Michael Sergio decided to show his allegiance to the New York Mets by parachuting onto the field. Ron Darling gave him a high five, but Sergio was found guilty of criminal trespassing and sentenced to 500 hours of community service.
"I thought it was him," Sergio's neighbor Katie Grant told The Daily News at the time. "Not that he's a nut or anything, he's just an adventurous person."
In 2016, Sergio discussed his misadventure with Newsday.
"My initial desire was to land around home plate," he said. "[The umpire] wasn't moving. I didn't want to spook [pitcher Bobby] Ojeda. Every thought I had was how could I do this but yet be as unimpactful as possible? I had my gold Mets banner on me, I'm going to go in there and I’m going to cheer this team on.’"
Police eventually took him to the 111th Precinct in Queens.
"Every cop in Queens was coming down and I was signing autographs. It was actually a terrific situation."
- An earthquake paused the World Series for 10 days. On Oct. 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco just before the first pitch of Game 3 between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. The quake was responsible (link opens a PDF) for as many as 67 deaths and over 3,700 injuries, but experts believe that the sporting event saved lives; because of the World Series, traffic in San Francisco was unusually light for rush hour.
"I just got through running a sprint in center field and was starting to walk back to right field. It sounded like one of those F-15s overhead—just a big, humongous roar," Giants first baseman Will Clark told The San Francisco Chronicle. "I looked up and the stadium was swaying back and forth. It was very violent."
The World Series resumed on Oct. 27, with a pregame ceremony dedicated to the people who lost their lives in Loma Prieta. The Athletics swept the Series in four games.
"The earthquake had an impact on how venues looked at emergency preparedness," Jorge Costa, who was the Giants vice president of operations and security, said. "Now you have exercises and run through scenarios. None of that used to happen before, and now it’s a staple. It changed how you prepare for big events, and it came out of that night."
- Pitcher Rollie Fingers tricked Johnny Bench into striking out. Unlike the previous two entries on this list, this is a pure baseball move: In Game 3 of the 1972 World Series, Oakland Athletics pitcher Rollie Fingers struck out Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench...but he wasn’t exactly upfront about it.
A's manager Dick Williams called for a mound visit, then told Fingers to fake an intentional walk to Bench.
"Throw a strike," Williams reportedly told Fingers. "But don't throw a fastball because he is a fastball hitter."
Fingers questioned the move, but followed his manager’s orders.
"I threw probably the best slider I'd ever thrown in my life," he said of the pitch that struck out Bench. "When I see Johnny Bench, I never mention it. But he usually brings it up and says, 'That was the most embarrassing moment of my life.'"
After the 2016 season, Major League Baseball changed the intentional walk rule. Pitchers no longer need to throw four pitches to walk a batter—they can simply tell the umpire that to put the batter on base—so we’ll probably never see a moment like that again.
- A manager's son was almost run over at home plate. In 2002, the San Francisco Giants faced the Anaheim Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels) in a memorable Fall Classic. The Angels ultimately prevailed, taking home their first World Series championship.
The strangest moment of the series occurred in Game 5. Giants manager Dusty Baker had used his influence to get a bat boy position for his 3-year-old son, Darren. Bat boys are usually much older—for good reason. During a chaotic play in the bottom of the 7th, Darren toddled to the plate to grab a discarded bat, but the play was still active, and Giants player J.T. Snow was flying toward home plate.
Thinking quickly, Snow reached down and scooped up Darren, saving him from a possible injury.
Darren, by the way, is now an accomplished baseball player in his own right. In 2017, he was drafted in the 27th round out of Jesuit High School in Sacramento, but he opted to play in college rather than rush (back) into the MLB.
- A Cubs fan tried to bring a goat into Wrigley Field, starting one of the most famous "curses" in all of sports. During Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, Chicago tavern owner William “Billy Goat" Sianis was prevented from entering Wrigley Field. The reason: He was trying to enter the ballpark with a goat named Murphy.
"You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again," Sianis reportedly said.
For decades, Cubs fans obsessed over the "curse of the billy goat," which seemed to manifest in strange ways (notably, the Cubs lost their 2015 postseason bid thanks in large part to the performance of New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy—who was not, in fact, a goat). Chicago’s North Siders seemed destined to lose forever until they finally broke the "curse" in 2016.
Those are just some of the strangest events, but this isn’t an exhaustive list; in baseball, just about anything can happen.