Bobby Thomson? Sorry, we've seen clips of his pennant-winning home run and, really, what's the big deal? He hit it in black and white.
Carlton Fisk? Uh-uh. His team lost that World Series.
Barry Bonds? Doesn't smile as much as Mark McGwire.
Jackie Robinson? Sure, his breaking of baseball's color barrier is an achievement seared into the hearts and minds of an entire race. But Cal Ripken Jr. made the front of a MasterCard credit card, and when you're competing against the greatest legends of the game in an election sponsored by MasterCard, what is the value of that?
On a September night in 1995, Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game for the Baltimore Orioles, breaking Lou Gehrig's record. He didn't clinch a pennant that night; the '95 Orioles finished 71-73, 15 games out of first place. He didn't do anything dramatic or spontaneous or unscripted; he simply punched the clock, same as he had day after day, season after season.
But he had the good fortune of doing it during the last decade, in prime time, during the ESPN era, with the media hyping the moment for months -- years, actually -- and whetting the appetite of a nation gone sour on its erstwhile pastime in the wake of the 1994 players strike.
It was ultimate made-for-television, pre-packaged, circle-the-calendar, feel-good event. Do you remember where you were when Ripken broke the record? Of course you do. You had it in your Day Planner months in advance.
Half the top 10 happened during the VCR era.
Six occurred during the color television era.
The remaining four break down like this:
--Two involved famous New York Yankees. Gehrig -- that was the guy who had the record before Ripken, right? DiMaggio -- didn't Paul Simon write a song about him?
--One involved the lead character in this year's most publicized sports soap opera -- Williams' frozen remains and his crazed squabbling children.
--The other changed the course of U.S. history.
The Giants evened the World Series Wednesday night, but earlier they drew the collar, going 0-for-5 on the greatest-moment poll. Thirty moments were listed on the official ballot, and the Giants had five:
--Christy Mathewson pitching three shutouts in the 1905 World Series;
--Carl Hubbell striking out Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession in the 1934 All-Star Game;
--Thomson hitting his 1951 pennant-winning home run;
--Willie Mays making his legendary Polo Grounds catch in the 1954 World Series;
--Bonds hitting his 71st home run in 2001.
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