The 1972 MLB Playoffs Were A Dandy!

The 70’s were a very interesting decade for baseball and one could argue that it was the start of the modern era. Yes, the first playoff series started in 1969 and the Houston Astros used Astroturf starting in the 1966 season but artificial turf became more of the norm in this decade along with cookie cutter stadiums.

Free agency begins later in this decade along with the designated hitter. More expansion teams are brought into the mix as well, more and more teams start to use colorful, interesting uniforms (including the Chicago White Sox wearing shorts in the 1976 season) This was the first decade in which playoffs take place every single season in the decade.

Now, from the season’s first playoff series in 1969 through 1971 the championship series in each the American League and National League were kind of duds as most of them were sweeps with only the National League Championship series in 1971 going 4 games instead of three. It was in 1972 where the playoffs start really hitting their stride and become interesting.

These playoffs are interesting and really all non-World Series playoff series have an air of mystery too them as it doesn’t feel like a lot of other playoff series are entrenched in memories in the same way that the World Championship series is. There are a handful of moments that I can think of, like the Marlins and Cubs infamous game 6 in 2003 or the 16 inning game 6 of the 1986 series between the Mets and Astros, but most of the time these playoffs that aren’t on the grandest of stage do seem to get lost in history a little bit.

But 1972 the baseball was really good. It was also an odd season as for the first time ever there was a strike (another symbol of modern baseball I suppose) but the playoffs themselves featured three out of a possible three series in which all series went the distance. Both Championship Series went 5 games. The World Series went 7. 10 of the 17 games were 1 run games. Both game 5’s and the deciding game 7 of the World Series were 1 run game. Game 5 of the NLCS was tied on a Johnny Bench homer and won on a walk off wild pitch (I assume this is the only series that’s ended on a walk off wild pitch however I’m not certain on this) It was also Roberto Clemente’s final game before his tragic passing in the offseason (his final plate appearance was an intentional walk he took in the top of the 8th inning)

The World Series kick started the Oakland A’s dynasty in the early 70’s (they won three straight World Series and made the playoffs 5 years in a row) For some reason this Oakland A’s team feels like one of the more underrated dynasties in American sports history. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t alive during this time but I feel they are overshadowed by the Cincinnati Reds (AKA the Big Red Machine) even though the Reds won just 2 championships in the decade and even the Oakland Raiders, who weren’t as successful championship wise, from shortly after feel like a more famous sports team. While the Athletics did have Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter…along with great players like Sal Bando, Vida Blue or Dave Campaneris…they always seemed more famous for their owner wanting to stick it to the Yankees with encouraging facial hair and white shoes.

Oakland A's memorabilia

The only thing that holds the 1972 playoffs back in my eyes, is the fact that Reggie Jackson was injured during the ALCS and didn’t play in the World Series (a great player being left out of any situation sucks even though Oakland still managed to win it all) and I think it would have been more fitting if the Baltimore Orioles competed in the series as opposed to the Detroit Tigers. While the Tigers were a few years removed from their own championship, the Orioles had their own run of being great during this time when they won 3 straight pennants and a championship. Their inclusion in this playoffs would have made for a great tournament of what would have been arguably the best teams of the early 70’s (Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s)

But overall, the baseball on the field in the 1972 postseason is very worth revisiting.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share on Social Media