Yankees Top Moments: (#4) Reggie's three-homer Game 6 vs (#5) Gator fans 18

Jim McIsaac and WikiCommons

Can a trio of home runs in the world series top an 18-strikeout evening?

The Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament continues with the 1960-1979 bracket. Vote for the moment that deserves move on in the poll below.

(#4) Reggie Jackson hits three home runs in 1977 World Series, Game 6

The Yankees could have ended the 1977 World Series in five games. They had the Los Angeles Dodgers on the brink of elimination, but the Dodgers were able to win Game 5 at a score of 10-4, tagging Don Gullett for six earned runs. The Yankees came into Game 6 wanting to stop the buck right there--they had no desire to head to a decisive Game 7. Reggie Jackson made sure that that would not be a reality.

Reggie Jackson was acquired that past offseason for this exact purpose. After the Yankees were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series, George Steinbrenner wanted to add one more piece to seal the deal. Jackson was signed to a five year, $2.96 million contract ($12.1 million in today's dollars) in hopes that he could help the Yankees win a World Championship.

Jackson began his historic night in the bottom of the fourth inning; the Dodgers at that point had a 3-2 lead. On the first pitch from Burt Hooten, Jackson hit an absolute bomb to right field to put the Yankees ahead 4-3. The Yankees added to their lead to make the score 5-3, and the Dodgers had to bring in reliever Elias Sosa to fan the flames. Jackson swung at only his second pitch of the night and hit a line drive right over the porch in right field to put the Yankees up definitively at 7-3. That would have been enough to win the game and enough to seal his legacy. But that just wasn't Reggie's style. Against the knuckleballer Charlie Hough in the eighth and on just Jackson's third swing all night, he hit his third home run to dead center.

Jackson had tied Babe Ruth's World Series single-game home run record, and more importantly, he had helped the Yankees win their first World Championship since 1962. The Yankees would win again in 1978, but the Bronx would never be in a frenzy like that until 1996.

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(#5) Ron Guidry strikes out 18

Ron Guidry, or "The Lousiana Lightning," was not pegged as a starter. It did not appear as though he had much upper body strength; he had a tall and lanky frame. In his first full season with the Yankees in 1977, he proved that that was not the case. With an ERA+ of 140, ERA of 2.82, and bWAR of 4.8, Guidry proved he could be dominant in the Major Leagues. His dominance came to a head in 1978. He was an All-Star, finished second in the MVP voting, and won the AL Cy Young for good reason. With an ERA+ of 208 and a bWAR of 9.6, Guidry was completely lights out in the best season of his career.

On this particular day, though, he was especially dominant. On June 17, 1978, Guidry faced the California Angels in a regular season match-up that quickly felt like that of the postseason. Guidry actually got off to an inauspicious start, allowing a leadoff double in the first to Bobby Grich. Guidry worked out of the inning with two strikeouts, but this didn't initially look like a start where he had his best stuff. He had a strikeout in the second, and let up a pair of hits in the third even though he struck out the side. By the fourth inning, Guidry settled down, to say the least. Between the fourth and sixth, Guidry struck out eight. By this point, he had struck out 14, and the crowd was going wild. Every time Guidry reached two strikes, the crowd stood up in anticipation of another strikeout. He was able to get another four strikeouts to finish off his historic evening, but sparking the two-strike clap at Yankee Stadium was his biggest contribution to Yankee and baseball history.

Not only did Guidry strike out 18 batters in one game, but he also started a new baseball tradition, something most players never do. The act of the crowd standing up in anticipation before a third strike had never existed before that night. If you ever find yourself at a baseball game, clapping in hopes that the pitcher will record a strikeout, you can thank Ron Guidry for inspiring this exciting fan tradition.

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