A game beloved by millions, especially in North America, baseball has shaped the hearts and minds of generations of sports fans. Millions of Americans start their day by checking major league baseball odds to discover what teams have the best chances of winning upcoming matchups.
Even though every game in baseball has the potential to produce thrilling moments, certain incidents are remembered for years to come. Those triumphs and defeats live in the minds of baseball fans around the world.
Narrowing down the greatest moments in baseball history to five is not easy, as there are so many spectacular hits, inspirational underdog stories, and dominating team successes we have left out.
Below are the five moments that stand out as benchmarks in the storied history of America’s favorite pastime.
1. Pete Rose hits number 4192
One of the most historic days in baseball occurred on September 11th, 1985, when Pete Rose broke a record that had stood for 57 years. He completed his 4192nd hit in Major League Baseball, passing the great Ty Cobb, who had set the record in 1928.
Anyone who is a fan of baseball and was lucky enough to watch the game in person or on television will never forget the scenes. Not only did Peter Rose and his Cincinnati teammates celebrate the hit, but even players and coaches from the San Diego Padres were coming to congratulate Rose on his achievement.
There are few scenes in baseball where the love of the game transcends rivalries and the desire to win a game. That was one of those moments, where everyone in the crowd and on the field came together to celebrate one of the all-time greats.
2. Jackie Robinson signs in the MLB
Most of the great baseball moments revolve around a player achieving a landmark, or a team accomplishing a goal at the end of the season. When it comes to Jackie Robinson, being in Major League Baseball was an accomplishment in itself.
Robinson signed for the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 1947, becoming the first black man to play in the majors. His signing is one of those moments that changed the course of baseball history in the United States, while paving the way for other black players to pursue their love and passion for the sport, in the hopes that they could also make it to the MLB.
Circumstances were not always pleasant for Robinson, as he was met with significant negativity from the baseball world. Fans and opposing teams never missed a chance to harass and belittle him, but Robinson stood tall and let his talent shine.
He went on to win Rookie of the Year in 1947 and eventually received an induction into the Hall of Fame in 1962.
3. Lou Gehrig retires
Long-time baseball fans may not have been alive to watch Lou Gehrig play the game, but they have watched enough highlight reels and read enough articles to understand the man’s greatness. Gehrig was one of the best to ever play the sport, excelling for the New York Yankees.
When he announced his retirement in 1939 on the 4th of July, Gehrig stunned the entire country. People now refer to his retirement speech as the Gettysburg address of baseball, given the magnitude of the moment.
Gehrig announced he was quitting baseball because he was suffering from ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was so well-liked and admired that ALS is now referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Despite already experiencing difficulties due to ALS, Gehrig did not let his illness consume his love for the sport. During his farewell address, Gehrig spoke about his love of baseball, stating he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth because he got to make a career of his true passion.
4. Hank Aaron passes Babe Ruth
One of the most important events in baseball history took place in 1974 when Hank Aaron surpassed the great Babe Ruth as the record holder for the most home runs in Major League Baseball.
Ruth is still regarded as one of the greatest ever to play the game, as he accomplished incredible feats when the game was a lot more challenging for hitters. Home runs were not as commonplace as they are in the modern game, which is why Aaron passing Ruth was such a landmark moment.
Fans were beginning to realize that a new wave of baseball players had the quality and longevity to surpass many records that were previously seen as unattainable.
Despite the raft of quality entering the sport in the subsequent decades, Aaron’s record of 755 home runs stood from 1974 to 2007. Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants eventually overtook this mark, taking his own place in baseball folklore.
5. Derek Jeter inspires the Yankees
A remarkable Major League Baseball moment occurred in 2001 when Derek Jeter sparked his team to a gritty victory. The Yankees were leading 1-0 in the American League Division Series against the Athletics.
However, Jeremy Giambi was about to tie up the game for the Athletics, before Jeter raced towards first base, grabbed the ball, and tossed it to the Yankees catcher. The umpire felt that Giambi was not safe, which meant the Yankees held onto their 1-0 lead and went on to win the game.
The New York Yankees eventually took the series against the Athletics before winning the World Series. A single moment of quality running and throwing from Jeter helped his team to glory.
When will the next greatest moment occur?
Baseball fans reminiscing about the greatest moments in the sport’s history may be wondering when they might next witness history. Each season of Major League Baseball brings thrills, spills, and exhilarating action, as the best in the game aim to win the World Series.
The Atlanta Braves claimed the honor in 2021, but a host of other teams will be licking their wounds and preparing for their chance at revenge. Baseball fans will be counting down the days to the new season while revisiting the most glorious moments of yesteryear.
Between touching moments, gravity-defying catches, ruthless hitting, and otherworldly pitching, baseball never fails to live up to the hype. The five moments mentioned above are a testament to this great sport.