The One-Hit Wonders of the World Series

Millions have fantasized about being the hero of the World Series, like stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run. Here are some players who did just that—even though the rest of their professional baseball careers were otherwise unremarkable.

Baseball in the Infield

• The 2016 World Series will go down in history as the one that broke the Chicago Cubs’ century-long championship drought. The team they faced: the Cleveland Indians, who inherited the Cubs’ status as team that’s gone the longest without a World Series win. But after Game 1 of the 2016 World Series, it looked like it might be Cleveland’s year. They beat the Cubs 2-0, with all points coming from two solo home runs by catcher Roberto Pérez. He came through when it mattered, because In 184 at-bats in the regular season, Pérez hit a dismal .183.

• Rick Dempsey was never a star. Literally—the catcher played 24 seasons in the Major Leagues and was never named an All-Star, on account of his lifetime .233 average. The 1983 season was an average one for Dempsey—he hit .231 for the Baltimore Orioles, which includes 16 doubles and four home runs. His team made it all the way to the World Series, however, which is when Dempsey shined brightly—he hit .385 in the October Classic, matching his season total of doubles (four), and hitting a home run. The Orioles won it all, and Dempsey was named World Series MVP.

• Gene Tenace wasn’t even a full-time player for the 1972 Oakland Athletics. He played in about half of the team’s regular season games, amassing a not-that-impressive 51 hits and .225 batting average. In the American League Championship Series against Detroit, Tenace did even worse, snagging just one hit in 17 at-bats (an average of .059). He came out of nowhere to lead the team to a championship. Tenace batted at .348 with four home runs—and was the World Series MVP.

• Billy Hatcher was a journeyman outfielder who played for seven teams in 12 seasons (1984–1995). His best season came for Houston in 1987—he had a 16-game hitting streak, stole 53 bases, and hit .296. (He was also suspended 10 games after he was caught illegally corking his bat.) Hatcher’s overall best moment definitely came in the 1990 World Series. With the Oakland Athletics widely expected to cruise to a victory, the Cincinnati Reds swept the series in four games—in large part thanks to Hatcher. He racked up an average of .750—a World Series record. He also set records for most doubles in a four-game sweep (four) and consecutive hits (seven).