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Biggest Comeback Wins in Major League Baseball History

If we had to define baseball in one sentence, we would go with this Yogi Berra classic: “It’s not over until it’s over!

Besides, the great Yogi knew what he was talking about since the Mets, which he led in 1973, came back from a deficit of 9 and a half games in the middle of the season to finally win the championship of their division in the very last game of the season.

On this occasion, Berra said this famous phrase, and although he referred to the then ongoing season, many ball lovers also apply it when it comes to games. Because you may lose 72-2 in the bottom of the ninth, as long as you have one out left, you have a mathematical chance of coming back and winning.

It’s beautiful, huh? It also means there’s still hope when it looks like you’ll be losing your MLB odds stake.

Not that much, after all. Because according to baseball historian David W. Smith, out of 73 seasons studied, only 213 teams in 44,537 attempts managed to win even though they were down at least 4 runs after the eighth inning. That’s a 0.5% success rate, which is higher than my 6/49 odds of winning (1 in 14 million), but still, it’s a risky bet.

A Spectacular Comeback

Oddly, Major League Baseball does not keep official statistics on this subject. In any case, we couldn’t find them. Still, an extensive search using state-of-the-art technological tools (Google) tells us that the Philadelphia A’s came back from behind by 11 points in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians on June 15, 1925. They won the game 17-15 while trailing it 15-4.

For the most dramatic ninth-inning comeback, you have to go back to the Detroit Tigers’ American League opener against Milwaukee on April 24, 1901, when they came from behind 4-13 in the ninth, to win 14-13.

The Funniest Comeback

But the funniest comeback is undoubtedly the one the Phillies made against the Pirates in Philadelphia on June 8, 1989.

This comeback win forced the former Pittsburgh player and game commentator Jim Rooker to walk the 400 km between the two cities.

After the Pirates scored 10 runs in the top of the first inning, Rooker said on the radio that he was committed to walking back to Pittsburgh if the team lost the game. And that’s what happened, as the Phillies eventually won 15-11.

Rooker kept his word a few months later as he covered the distance between the two towns on foot.

Other Notable Comebacks

The Seattle Mariners Come on August 5, 2001

On August 5, 2001, the Seattle Mariners trailed 14-2; however, they won 15-14.

The Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel indicated it was impossible for the team to rally after four regulars were left out of their starting lineup in the nationally televised opener. However, the Mariners ignored the signals and won 116 games in a 162-game season.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Cleveland scored three runs, four in the eighth, and five more in the ninth inning, with two outs. At 14-14, Omar Vizquel hit a triple, forcing extra innings.

The comeback victory was completed in the 11th inning with a single left by Jolbert Cabrera with one out and Kenny Lofton coming from second to score.  

Tigers Comeback on June 18, 1911

Won 16-15 despite a 13-1 trailing score against the Chicago White Sox on June 18, 1911.

Even though the Tigers won 42 comeback games in 1911, it still doesn’t explain the unlikely occurrence of a team overturning a 12-run deficit. A large part of the reason for this was the presence of Ty Cobb.

With the Tigers trailing 13-1, they scored four runs in the fifth, three in the sixth, and then two in the seventh to gain the lead, which ultimately went to the White Sox, who led 15-8. Although the visiting team continued to hit in the eighth and ninth inning, they could only score five runs each. 

A throw to the first baseman was ill-advised, allowing Cobb to reach on an infield single, and the errant throw allowed Davy Jones and Donie Bush to score, tying the game at 15.

Sam Crawford doubled the score in the following play to bring Cobb to the second position. It was the 28th game in a career-long 40-game hitting streak for the Georgia Peach — 5 for 6, 5 RBIs, 3 runs.

There you have it, the biggest comebacks in the history of MLB; we hope you enjoyed your read!