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|Dates:||October 14–October 22|
|MVP:||Gene Tenace (Oakland)|
|TV announcers:||Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, Al Michaels (Games 1–2, 6–7), Monte Moore (Games 3–5)|
|Radio announcers:||Jim Simpson, Monte Moore (Games 1–2, 6–7), Al Michaels (Games 3–5)|
|Umpires:||Chris Pelekoudas (NL), Jim Honochick (AL), Mel Steiner (NL), Frank Umont (AL), Bob Engel (NL), Bill Haller (AL)|
|Future Hall of Famers:|| Athletics: Dick Williams (mgr.), Reggie Jackson (dnp), Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers.|
Reds: Sparky Anderson (mgr.), Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Pérez.
|ALCS:||Oakland Athletics over Detroit Tigers (3–2)|
|NLCS:||Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates (3–2)|
| World Series
The 1972 World Series matched the American League champion Oakland Athletics against the National League champion Cincinnati Reds, with the A's winning in seven games. Interestingly, these two teams would meet again in the Fall Classic 18 years later.
The Athletics won the American League West division by 5 ½ games over the Chicago White Sox then defeated the Detroit Tigers, three games to two, in the American League Championship Series. The Cincinnati Reds won the National League West division by 10 ½ games over both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, then defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, three games to two, in the National League Championship Series. In doing so, the Reds, who won one fewer game than the Pirates during the regular season, became the first team in MLB history to reach the World Series without having the best record in its league. This had become a possibility when divisional play was introduced in 1969, but in each of the first six League Championship Series, the team with the better record still won and advanced to the World Series.
This was the Reds' second trip to the Series in three years. It was the Oakland Athletics' first trip to the Series, and the first for the Athletics franchise since their Philadelphia days (1931).
The Athletics prevailed in this matchup of what were to become the two premier Major League Baseball dynasties of the 1970s. Iconoclastic club owner Charlie Finley's "Swingin' A's" featured day-glo uniforms, lots of facial hair, colorful nicknames, and explosive personalities, while "The Big Red Machine" were a more traditional franchise with a more traditional look—and an everyday lineup packed full of future Hall of Famers. The Series was dubbed "The Hairs vs. the Squares".
After a 40-year absence and two franchise relocations, the A's had finally made it back to the Series. They would play the Series without their star right fielder Reggie Jackson, who was injured (pulled hamstring) stealing home in the final game of the season against Detroit. Darold Knowles was also missing. He broke his thumb during a game played on September 27, 1972—less than three weeks before the Series opener.
With Jackson out, Gene Tenace—who had hit five home runs during the entire 1972 season—would fill-in admirably socking four home runs equaling the World Series mark set by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Tenace also had nine RBI in the Series—no other Oakland player had more than one. He was voted winner of the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
In contrast, the Reds' big boppers, Johnny Bench (.270 avg., 40 HR, 125 RBI, NL MVP), Tony Pérez (.283 avg., 21 HR, 90 RBI), and Denis Menke (9 HR, 50 RBI), combined for only two homers and five RBI the entire Series.
The teams were fairly equal statistically, each club totaling 46 hits with the same .209 batting average. The Reds out-scored the A’s, 21–16, but lost each of their four games by a single run.
|1||Oakland Athletics – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2||October 14||Riverfront Stadium||52,918|
|2||Oakland Athletics – 2, Cincinnati Reds – 1||October 15||Riverfront Stadium||53,224|
|3||Cincinnati Reds – 1, Oakland Athletics – 0||October 18||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,410|
|4||Cincinnati Reds – 2, Oakland Athletics – 3||October 19||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,410|
|5||Cincinnati Reds – 5, Oakland Athletics – 4||October 20||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,410|
|6||Oakland Athletics – 1, Cincinnati Reds – 8||October 21||Riverfront Stadium||52,737|
|7||Oakland Athletics – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2||October 22||Riverfront Stadium||56,040|
HRs: OAK – Gene Tenace 2 (2)
The Series opened in unexpected fashion, as unheralded catcher Gene Tenace of the A's hit home runs in his first two at-bats, leading Oakland to a Game 1 victory. Tenace was the first player ever to homer in his two initial Series plate appearances, a feat later matched by Andruw Jones of the Braves in 1996.
HRs: OAK – Joe Rudi (1)
Jackie Robinson, the first black big-league player of the modern era, made his final public appearance in Cincinnati before Game 2. In a brief speech, he expressed his desire to see a black manager of a Major League Baseball team, a color barrier that had not yet been broken.
A's left fielder Joe Rudi was the Game 2 hero with a home run and a spectacular game-saving ninth-inning catch made while sprawled up against the left field wall. Rudi's game-saving circus catch in Game 2 (which he later attributed to one-on-one discussions with Joe DiMaggio on the art of tracking fly balls) made the highlight reels, and became the most memorable single image of the Series.
The Reds tried to rally in the ninth off Rollie Fingers when Tony Pérez led off with a base hit. Denis Menke then hit the drive that Rudi made the abovementioned spectacular catch on and nearly doubled Perez off first. A's first baseman Mike Hegan then made another great defensive play when César Gerónimo, the next Reds hitter, lined a shot that appeared headed down the line for extra bases. Hegan dove for the ball, knocked it down, and dove for the bag, barely beating Geronimo. Pérez took second and scored on a Hal McRae single, and that was all the Reds would get. The Reds were now in trouble, down 2–0 in games with the Series moving to Oakland.
Reds starter Jack Billingham was brilliant, holding the A's to three hits in eight innings. The Reds pushed across the game's only run in the seventh when César Gerónimo singled home Tony Pérez. Pérez scored despite slipping on the damp grass as he was rounding third; it had rained in Oakland the day before. On the play, Oakland second baseman Dick Green was apparently unaware that Perez had slipped; otherwise, he had a play on him at the plate. Clay Carroll pitched the ninth for the save.
A rare trick play occurred in the eighth inning with Joe Morgan on third and Bobby Tolan on second with one out and Rollie Fingers pitching. NL MVP Johnny Bench batted with a 3–2 count, when Dick Williams visited the mound then motioned for an intentional walk. Catcher Gene Tenace stood to catch ball four, but at the last minute returned to his crouch as Fingers delivered a strike on the outside corner. A surprised Bench watched the pitch go by for strike three.
HRs: OAK – Gene Tenace (3)
A's starter Ken Holtzman shut out the Reds on four hits through seven innings and had a 1–0 lead courtesy of Gene Tenace's third homer of the series. With two outs in the eighth and Dave Concepción on second, A's manager Dick Williams brought in left-hander Vida Blue to face left-handed hitters Joe Morgan and Bobby Tolan. The strategy seemed to backfire as Blue walked Morgan and allowed a two-run double to Tolan, giving the Reds the lead. Williams then surprisingly left Blue in the game to pitch to powerful right-handed hitting Johnny Bench, but Bench flied out to end the threat.
Williams wasn't through spinning his magic. In the bottom of the ninth with one out, he sent Gonzalo Marquez to pinch-hit and Marquez singled. Tenace followed with a single, then veteran Don Mincher, another pinch-hitter, singled pinch-runner Allan Lewis home to tie the game. Finally, Angel Mangual, yet another pinch-hitter, singled off Clay Carroll to score Tenace and win a pivotal game in the Series for the A's.
HRs: CIN – Pete Rose (1), Denis Menke (1) OAK – Gene Tenace (4)
With Catfish Hunter on the mound, the A's looked to be sitting pretty. But, the Reds began to claw back, beginning with a leadoff homer by Pete Rose. The A's came back in the second on Gene Tenace's fourth homer of the series, a three-run shot.
Using their team speed, the Reds mounted their comeback in the fifth. With two outs, Joe Morgan walked. With a 3–2 count on Bobby Tolan, Morgan broke for second and was able to score when Tolan lined a base hit to right. The speedy Morgan and Tolan collaborated once again to tie the game in the eighth. Morgan again walked and stole second and Tolan batted him in once again.
In the ninth, leadoff hero Rose knocked in the go-ahead run with a single. The Reds preserved the lead in the ninth when, with one out and runners on first and third, Bert Campaneris hit a foul pop on the first-base side that first baseman Tony Perez appeared to have. Second baseman Morgan waved him off, however, caught the ball, and fired home to nail pinch runner Blue Moon Odom, who had tagged at third. With a nail-biter, the Reds staved off a World Series defeat—for now.
The Friday afternoon contest was the last non-weekend World Series day game. The three games in Oakland were all scheduled to be played at night, but Game 3 was rained out, forcing Game 5 to be played on a Friday, originally scheduled as a travel day. The game was played in the afternoon to allow for the three-hour time change between the cities.
HRs: CIN – Johnny Bench (1)
Back at the friendly confines of Riverfront Stadium, the Reds tied the series at 3–3 with an 8–1 rout. Johnny Bench, who had no homers or RBI in the series to that point, broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with a solo homer off starter Vida Blue. The A's fought back on a Dick Green RBI double in their half of the fifth, but from then on it was all Reds. Dave Concepción had a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Tony Pérez an RBI single in the sixth (his first RBI of the Series). The Reds then broke it open with a five-run seventh an RBI single by Joe Morgan and a pair of two-run singles by Bobby Tolan and César Gerónimo.
Gene Tenace would also shine in Game 7, going two for three with two runs batted in including a game-tying double in the sixth inning, ultimately scoring the winning run on Sal Bando’s game-winning two-bagger. The Reds had battled back from a three-to-one deficit but the offense sputtered in front of the home crowd at Riverfront Stadium, in Game 7 against starter Blue Moon Odom and the star-laden relief corps of Catfish, Holtzman, and Fingers. The 3–2 victory for the Oakland Athletics was the first for the franchise since the Connie Mack days of 1930 and ensured Dick Williams' return for another year.
The A's opened the scoring in Game 7 with an unearned run in the first inning. Cincy tied things up in the fifth on Hal McRae's sacrifice fly. But the very next inning, Tenace and Sal Bando each stroked RBI doubles to give Oakland a 3–1 edge. The Reds made it 3–2 in the eighth, but A's reliever Rollie Fingers shut the door in the ninth. The Athletics franchise had its sixth World Series title, and the city of Oakland had its first world championship in any sport. Tenace, an utterly unexpected hero, was named MVP with nine RBIs, a Series record-tying four home runs and a Series-record slugging percentage.
The Series win saved the Athletics from becoming the first team to lose a World Series after winning the first two game on the road, and the fourth to lose a World Series after leading three games to one.
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Total attendance: 363,149 Average attendance: 51,878</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Winning player’s share: $20,705 Losing player’s share: $15,080</td></tr>
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 1 - Oakland Athletics vs. Cincinnati Reds. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 2 - Oakland Athletics vs. Cincinnati Reds. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 3 - Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland Athletics. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 4 - Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland Athletics. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 5 - Cincinnati Reds vs. Oakland Athletics. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 6 - Oakland Athletics vs. Cincinnati Reds. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1972 World Series Game 7 - Oakland Athletics vs. Cincinnati Reds. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 340–344)
- Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2188. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.
- Forman, Sean L.. 1972 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
- 1972 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- 1972 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1972 NLCS | Game 5 at MLB.com
- 1972 World Series at Baseball-Almanac.com
- Mustaches All the Way at SI.com
- History of the World Series – 1972 at SportingNews.com
- 1972 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- The 1972 Oakland Athletics at baseballlibrary.com
- The 1972 Cincinnati Reds at baseballlibrary.com
- Reds History at redshistory.com
- Joe Rudi's game-saving Game 2 catch