Walk-off home run
baseball, a walk-off home run is a home runthat ends the game. It must be a home run that gives the home team the lead in the bottom of the final inning of the game — either the ninth inning, or any extra inning, or any other regularly scheduled final inning. It is called a "walk-off" home run because the teams walk off the field immediately afterward. Sportscasters also use the term "walk-off hit" if a hit drives in the winning run to end the game. The terms walk-off hit by pitch, "walk-off walk" (a base on ballswith the bases loaded), and walk-off balkhave been also applied, and the latter has been dubbed a "balk-off." However, these types of walk-off plays are seen by some as cheapening the concept. Although the concept of a walk-off home run is as old as baseball, the term itself has come into wide use only since the 1990s.
History and usage of the term
The first known usage of the word in print appeared in the "
San Francisco Chronicle" on April 21, by|1988, Section D, Page 1. Chronicle writer Lowell Cohn wrote an article headlined "What the Eck?" about Oakland reliever Dennis Eckersley's unusual way of speaking: "For a translation, I go in search of Eckersley. I also want to know why he calls short home runs 'street pieces,' and home runs that come in the last at-bat of a game 'walkoff pieces'. . . ." Although the term originally was coined with a negative connotation, in reference to the pitcher (who must "walk off" the field with his head hung in shame), it has come to acquire a more celebratory connotation, for the batter who "walks off" with pride with the adulation of the home crowd). The term attained widespread use in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
As of 2006, 23 occasions in major league history, all during the regular season, a player has hit a walk-off grand slam for a 1-run victory; 14 of those occasions came with two outs. Some baseball observers call this an "ultimate grand slam". [ [http://www.wcnet.org/~dlfleitz/gs.htm Walk-Off Grand Slams ] ] [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/news/2002/05/17/ultimate_grand_slams/ CNNSI.com - Baseball - Ultimate Grand Slams - Saturday May 18, 2002 02:35 AM ] ] [http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=46190 This website] lists all "ultimate grand slams", including which occurred with two outs. Note that
Chris Hoiles' grand slam occurred with the clichésituation: two outs, full count, bottom of the ninth inning, and down by three runs.
In Japan, a walk-off home run is known as a " home run". [ [http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:UOTzyh3VIEsJ:newyork.yankees.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/nyy/news/nyy_gameday_recap.jsp%3Fymd%3D20030717%26content_id%3D431557%26vkey%3Drecap%26fext%3D.jsp%26c_id%3Dnya+Sayonara+Home+Run&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=4 403 Forbidden ] ]
Crossing home plate
A technicality of the walk-off home run is that the game is not officially over until the winning run crosses home plate (in the case of a solo walk-off home run, the batter must round all the bases). This fact almost caused a serious problem in the 1976 ALCS.
Mark Littellof the Kansas City Royalsserved up a home run ball to Chris Chamblissof the New York Yankees, who hit the home run that won the pennant. When jubilant Yankee fans ran onto the field at Yankee Stadium(the Yankees had not won the pennant in 12 years), preventing Chambliss from rounding the bases, Chambliss had to negotiate a sea of fans in order to place his foot in the area of home plate. Announcer Bill White, on WMCAradio in New York, yelled into the microphone, in a voice of disbelief, "...and the game...I THINK...is over!"
Another example is
Robin Ventura's " Grand Slam Single" in the 1999 National League Championship Series. In the bottom of the 15th inning, the New York Metstied the score against the Atlanta Bravesat 3-3. Ventura came to bat with the bases loaded, and hit a walk-off grand slam to deep right. Roger Cedeñoscored from third and John Olerudappeared to score from second, but Todd Pratt, on first base when Ventura hit the home run, went to second, then turned around and hugged Ventura, as the rest of the team piled onto the field. The official ruling was that because Ventura never advanced past first base, it was not a home run but a single, and thus only Cedeño's run counted, making the official final score 4-3.
Postseason and All-Star Game
In the charts below, home runs that ended a postseason series are denoted by the player's name in bold. Home runs in which the winning team was trailing at the time are denoted by the final score in bold.
Follow the linked year on the far left for detailed information on that series.
Regular season (selected examples)
* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/S3J3 Baseball-Reference.com Play Index] - walk-off home runs which ended a postseason series
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