It’s World Series time – so I thought I would ask my own personal baseball freak expert, Brad Mangin, about curating a little online gallery featuring the ten best World Series photos to have ever been taken.
Brad is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance sports photographer who specializes in shooting baseball. His two main clients are Sports Illustrated and Major League Baseball, and he has what I believe to be the largest online stock photo archive from a single photographer — 44,000 images and counting — most of them baseball.
There are a lot of baseball freaks and geeks in this world, but Brad is probably the biggest. For example, he has memorized the names of the winning and losing teams from every World Series since it started, including the final score, and who the pitchers were.
His home is a baseball museum. Walls covered floor to ceiling with photos, shelves packed solid with memorabilia, and the floor of his home office even has a real full-size stadium-quality batting circle.
Starting tomorrow, Brad will be shooting his 11th World Series in a row.
He loves baseball photography just as much as he loves the game itself, and treats those who photograph the game as if they were rock stars. Each year, he brings a baseball to the World Series to get signed. Not by the players, but by the photographers at the game.
The 10 Greatest World Series Photos of All Time
by Brad Mangin
There have been so many great Series moments since it all began in 1903. I have read many books on the subject and seen so many highlights over the years I can recite them in my sleep. OK, I am a freak. This was a perfect assignment for me.
For a picture to make it into my top ten list it had to have many special qualities. Besides being a great photograph it had to tell a story about the game or the Series itself. It also helped if it depicted one of the great moments in Series history. The best pictures have become iconic over the years and stand the test of time. Eventually they become the only image people think about when that historical moment is written about.
10. Joe Carter’s Home run to win the 1993 World Series
Pitcher Mitch Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies walks off the field as Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays dances his way around the bases after hitting the Series-winning home run in Game Six of the 1993 World Series at the Skydome on October 23,1993 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays won the game 8-6, winning the Series 4-2. Photo by Ron Vesely
This picture captures the story on the 1993 Series in one frame and does it beautifully. Toronto’s Joe Carter is caught dancing around the bases after his walk-off home run beat the Phillies and won the Series for his club in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 6. Phillies lefty Mitch Williams walks dejectedly off the mound in the foreground. This picture does a great job of illustrating one of the greatest moments in Series history.
Bottom Line: In one simple frame this picture shows the winner and loser in an easy-to-read frame. No caption is necessary.
9. Greg Olson is upended at home plate in the 1991 World Series
Atlanta Braves catcher Greg Olson is upended at home plate after tagging out Minnesota Twins Dan Gladden during the 1991 World Series at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN on October 19, 1991. Photo by Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
This is a picture that you just keep looking at, over and over. The 1991 World Series between the Braves and Twins was a great one that went the full 7 games, and this is the photograph that remains in everyone’s mind from that Series. I remember watching this on television and thinking how great that picture must be. It is not very often you get a catcher upside-down at home plate, with the ball and his face visible. It is especially rare to get a moment like this without cutting the feet off. Having base runner Dan Gladden kneeling on home plate staring is disbelief after being tagged out is icing on the cake. Many photographers captured this moment from many different angles, but this version from Sports Illustrated’s Richard Mackson has stood the test of time.
Bottom Line: The elevated position makes for a clean background that makes the unique action pop off the page.
8. Willie Mays argues at home plate in 1973 World Series
New York Mets Willie Mays argues with umpire Augie Donatelli after teammate Bud Harrelson was thrown out at home plate vs Oakland Athletics Ray Fosse in Game 2 of the 1973 World Series in Oakland, CA on October14, 1973. Photo by Jerry Cooke/ Sports Illustrated/ Getty Images
The 1973 World Series was the first one I watched on television. I was 8-years-old and watched every pitch described by Curt Gowdy on NBC. This picture of Willie Mays on his knees begging legendary umpire Augie Donatelli to change his call in extra innings of Game 2 brings back a childhood memory I will never forget. I was old enough to understand the greatness of Mays, and I knew this was the end of his career. After Mets base runner Bud Harrelson was tagged out at home plate by A’s catcher Ray Fosse on a very controversial play, on-deck hitter Mays went nuts screaming at Donatelli. Television replays were inconclusive as it was hard to tell if Fosse’s glove brushed Harrelson as he went by the A’s catcher. Seeing Mays on the ground in the dirt begging was a poignant moment for me, and Sports Illustrated’s Jerry Cooke did a wonderful job of nailing this moment from the inside first base spot at the Oakland Coliseum.
Bottom Line: The great symmetry of the composition, combined with the expression on May’s face to go along with the helmet flying in the air all adds up to make this a winner.
7. Jackie Robinson steals home in the 1955 World Series
Dodgers baserunner Jackie Robinson steals home against the New York Yankees as Yogi Berra applies tag in Game 1 of the World Series in the Bronx, NY on September 28, 1955. Photo by Mark Kauffman/Sports Illustrated
1955 was the year the “Wait Till Next Year” Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. When you think about this historic Series, you think of Dodgers base runner Jackie Robinson showing his daring skills by stealing home plate in a controversial call that is still challenged to this day by Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.
I have seen the video replay over and over and it is still hard to see if Jackie was safe or out. The only thing I definitely know about this play is it made a great picture that was captured so beautifully by Mark Kauffman of Sports Illustrated. One thing that makes this image so special to me is the fact that it is one of the first great telephoto pictures made with a long lens from the field level. Until this time most of the baseball pictures shot during the regular season and World Series with long lenses were made from overhead baskets with Big Bertha cameras.
Bottom Line: The great peak action and expression on Jackie’s face, combined with the unique (for the time) low to the ground angle make this picture special.
6. Kirk Gibson hits game-winning home run in 1988 World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers batter Kirk Gibson celebrates after hitting the game-winning home run against Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA on October 15, 1988. AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy
This picture documents one of those “I remember where I was when this happened” moments. Kirk Gibson’s game winning walk-off piece off A’s star closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history. I remember watching this game on television with my father in the family room of our Fremont, CA home in the Bay Area. What a moment it was- and since I was not an A’s fan I was not upset by Gibson’s heroics. The great Associated Press staffer Rusty Kennedy from Philadelphia was positioned in the outside first base photo well at Dodger Stadium and nailed the victorious Gibson as he limped up the first base line (with manual focus) with his fist in the air. Kennedy had a long and distinguished career with the AP, and I am guessing this image has been seen by more people than any other image he put on the wire.
Bottom Line: The great expression on Gibson’s face, along with the clean background caused by using a long lens during this dramatic moment make this historical image easy to admire.
5. Don Larsen pitches perfect game in 1956 World Series
Don Larsen of the New York Yankees throws a pitch in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the 1956 World Series on October 8, 1956 against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium in New York, New York. Larsen pitched the first perfect game in World Series history as the Yankees beat the Dodgers, 2-0. UPI Photo
This picture of Yankees pitcher Don Larsen delivering a pitch in the 9th inning of his Perfect Game against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series at Yankee Stadium is one of those magical pictures that has survived the test of time to be the one image that always shows up when people talk about this historic occasion. Unfortunately all we know about the origins of this picture is that it was shot by a UPI photographer. I have never seen a photo credit with this image. All I know is that this UPI shooter had the smarts to line up Larsen and the scoreboard in right-center field to tell the story of this game. This picture set a new standard for telling the story of a big pitching event and is emulated to this day every time a pitcher has a no-hitter or a perfect game going late in the ballgame.
Bottom Line: The perfect composition of combining the action in the foreground with the scoreboard in the background make this picture perfect. The elevated shooting position makes the content of this picture fill the frame perfectly.
4. Willie Mays makes great catch in 1954 World Series
Willie Mays makes his famous catch off the bat of Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series on September 29, 1954 at the Polo Grounds in New York. New York Giants went on to sweep the Cleveland Indians in four games. Photo by Frank Hurley/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
The Willie Mays catch of the long drive off the bat of Cleveland’s Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series at the Polo grounds in New York has been seen millions of times on television and newsreels over the past 56 years, but no single photograph does a better job of documenting this amazing feat than this frame shot by a New York Daily News photographer Frank Hurley.
Hurley shot this picture with a Hulcher 70mm SLR sequence camera, which was originally designed and built to photograph missile launches. The camera was loaded with one-hundred-foot rolls of film and outfitted with a 600mm lens. Hurley was a pioneer who helped adapt this camera for shooting sports by working with the camera’s inventor, Charles Hulcher. There are many versions of this picture, but this is the one that has stood the test of time and has the best quality. It is a beautiful photograph that has so many story-telling elements. From the crowd reaction to the 483-foot marker in center field to the monuments this picture gives you a great sense of place. We can see how far the ball was hit and what the old Polo Grounds looked like in great detail. The timing in impeccable and the moment is preserved in time forever.
Bottom Line: The peak moment of Mays isolated against the dark background make this image pop. Adding all the faces from the fans and the great light make this an unforgettable photograph.
3. Pirates fans cheer during 1960 World Series
University of Pittsburgh students cheer wildly from atop Cathedral of Learning on school’s campus as they look down on Forbes Field where the Pittsburgh Pirates win their first World Series in 35 years against the New York Yankees on October 13, 1960. Photo by George Silk//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Now we are getting to the best of the best. Holy cow do I love this picture. One of these days I need to come up with enough cash to get a signed print for my gallery. The Pittsburgh Pirates dramatic 7-game World Series upset victory over the New York Yankees was one of the best-photographed Series of the old-school days. This picture by Life magazine’s George Silk is the best picture ever made showing fans watching a sporting event. Realizing that the fans are cheering during one of the most famous World Series games ever sends this picture over the top. Being the photographer assigned to shoot fan features is never much fun. Everyone wants to shoot the ball game, myself included. However, this picture just goes to show that it really is possible to pull off something special. No one has ever done it better than George Silk.
Bottom Line: This is such a great moment. The beauty of the composition and the warm feeling you get from looking at this picture make it spectacular.
2. Bill Mazeroski’s home run wins 1960 World Series
Pittsburgh Pirates batter Bill Mazeroski hits a game-winning home run in the 9th inning to win Game 7 and the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, PA on October 13, 1060. Photo by Marvin E. Newman/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
I love this picture so much I have a print of it signed by Marvin E. Newman hanging in my personal photo gallery. What Newman did to document this historic moment is truly amazing. There were not many photo positions at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field during the 1960 World Series. Newman positioned himself on the stands a few rows up from the field and had the smarts to shoot this picture wide and do the best job of anyone in the park to document the most famous home run in World Series history.
Bill Mazeroski hit the only Game 7 walk-off home run to win a World Series and this picture tells the story. Showing the swing with the ball in the sky, along with the scoreboard in the background with the line score and the classic Longines clock freezes this moment in time. This is the first famous home run to be documented this way and set a standard for many of us photographers in the future. It was this picture that inspired me to shoot many of the historic homers off the bat of Barry Bonds with a wider lens to show the ballpark with the scoreboard, etc. in the background. What Newman did on this October day in Pittsburgh was set the standard for a new generation of photographers.
Bottom Line: The perfect timing, great perspective and wide view giving us a sense of place make this picture a masterpiece.
1. Carlton Fisk waves game-winning home run fair in 1975 World Series
Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox hits a game-winning home run and waves at the ball to keep it fair in the 12th inning of game six against the Cincinnati Reds as Reds pitcher Pat Darcy watches during the 1975 World Series at Fenway Park on October 21, 1975 in Boston, Massachusetts. AP Photo/Harry Cabluck
Mention the name Carlton Fisk and one thing comes to every baseball fans mind: his home run in the 1975 World Series. Everyone remembers this dramatic blast in the bottom of the 12 inning of Game 6 to beat the Reds. What many people seem to forget is the Reds came back to win Game 7 and the Series the next night. However, the vision that everyone has of this moment is not the mighty swing by Fisk, it is of him dancing down the first base line trying to wave the hooking drive fair as it soared left towards the foul pole. The only photographer to get this picture was Harry Cabluck of the Associated Press.
This is another one of those moments that you remember for the rest of your life and I will never forget watching this game with my dad as I ways laying on green shag-carpeted living room floor in front of the fireplace on a school night. Cabluck has an entire sequence of Fisk going up the line, but this is my favorite frame. If this were to happen today there would be many photographers positioned in the outfield with auto-focus digital cameras making crystal-clear pictures of Fisk dancing up the line at 10-frames-per-second. However, on this October night at Fenway Park there was only one photographer smart enough to be in a special position, all by himself, in left field. That photographer was Harry Cabluck, and without Cabluck’s skill, timing and willingness to be in a different spot there would not be any photographs to document this event so well. This is a fantastic picture that was not made by any other photographer.
Bottom Line: This picture has it all: a great moment punctuated by a great face, great body language and dramatic light shot from a unique perspective.
Brad Mangin is a freelance sports photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last year, Brad shared with us an amazing tutorial – How To Photograph Baseball which is required reading for photographers who want to take better photos of baseball games at all levels.