Baseball's Best Underdog Success Stories of All Time

Chris Stephens

Everyone loves a good underdog story.

From Rudy Ruettiger to the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, people love to root for the underdogs.

Major League Baseball has had its fair share of underdogs in its history, both individual players and teams.

Here's a look at some of the best underdog success stories in MLB history.

10. Jim Morris

Jim Morris' story was chronicled in the movie, The Rookie.

Originally a draft pick of the Brewers in 1983, Morris never made it past the Single-A level in baseball.

Accepting his fate, Morris became a high-school teacher Big Lake, Texas, also becoming the school's baseball coach.

It was there in 1999 that Morris made a promise to his team that if they won the district championship, he would try out for an MLB team.

After winning the title, Morris kept his end of the bargain and tried out for Tampa Bay.

Morris worked his way up through the minors that year and got called up when the rosters expanded in September.

He made five appearances that year and 16 more the next year before being released.

While his MLB career was short, Morris showed that you're never too old to follow your dreams.

9. Tommy John

Tommy John's name is now infamous with the surgery that many pitchers get during the course of their careers.

After being the guinea pig for the brand-new procedure, John went on to win 164 more games to finish his career with 288 wins.

The fact that John came back from the cutting-edge surgery is amazing within itself. But the fact that he was able to have a good career afterwards made it an even better story.

It's just a shame he isn't in the Hall of Fame. If not for his stats, then how he helped pave the way for players in today's game.

8. 2006 St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals had no business winning the World Series in 2006.

Only five games over .500 at the end of the regular season, the Cardinals got hot at the right time.

The Cardinals lost 10 of their last 14 games to close the regular season, edging Houston by 1.5 games.

Albert Pujols (.331) was the only player who hit over .300, while he and Scott Rolen were the only players with more than 20 home runs.

Pitching-wise, all but one starter (Chris Carpenter) had an ERA over 4.00.

However, once it got to the playoffs, the Cardinals were all business, winning three of four over the Padres in the divisional round, before winning the NLCS over the Mets in seven games.

A five-game masterpiece over the Tigers in the World Series sealed the deal for the Cardinals.

7. 1991 World Series

By all accounts, the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves had no business meeting in the 1991 World Series.

Both teams finished last in their division the year before.

However, both got hot in 1991 and stayed that way, pulling off worst-to-firsts in the same year.

Minnesota had an easier path to the World Series, defeating the Blue Jays in five games of the ALCS.

The Braves had a tough go of it against the Pirates, as the series went seven games.

Ultimately, the Braves won Game 7, 4-0.

In the World Series, the Twins and Braves engaged in one of the best World Series ever to be played. Not to mention that their Game 7 was perhaps the best Game 7 in history.

Jack Morris went 10 innings, as the Twins scored a run in the bottom of the 10th to win the game, 1-0.

It was truly a classic World Series between teams nobody thought would get there.

6. Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott was born without a right hand, but that didn't stop him from achieving his dream of playing in the big leagues.

What Abbott would do is rest his glove on his right forearm and deliver the ball. He would then slip his left hand in the glove in time to field the ball.

While multiple teams tried to exploit this throughout his career by bunting to him, Abbott had none of it and threw runners out easily.

He finished his career with 87 wins, but showed that even with a disability, you can still chase your dream.

5. John Hiller

For John Hiller, three is not his favorite number.

On Jan. 11, 1971, Hiller suffered three heart attacks.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Eighteen months later, Hiller was back on the mound after a long recovery, winning 64 games over the next nine years. Most of those wins came as a reliever.

In total, Hiller made 390 appearances after the heart attacks.

To make it through that and come back better than ever is the classic underdog case. Everything was against him, but Hiller pushed through and had a decent MLB career afterwards.

4. 1906 Chicago White Sox

The 1906 Chicago White Sox had seven home a team.

Yet, they still won the World Series.

The White Sox got it done with pitching as Frank Smith had the highest ERA of the six starters with a 3.39 mark.

Four pitchers won at least 17 games and two had ERA's below 1.88.

The White Sox should have never been on the same field with the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, but they showed the old adage that good pitching beats good hitting.

3. Mike Piazza

The only reason the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Mike Piazza in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft, was that it was a favor from manager Tommy Lasorda.

Lasorda is Piazza's godfather and Mike's father asked him to draft him as a favor.

What came next was the career of one of the best-hitting catchers in history.

While multiple critics will criticize his lack of defense behind the plate, it's hard to argue Piazza doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

He became a 12-time all star and 10-time silver slugger.

Not bad for a guy who was drafted as a favor.

2. 2004 Boston Red Sox

Let's set the situation.

The Boston Red Sox are down three games to none to the New York Yankees, having lost Game 3, 19-8.

With Mariano Rivera on to pick up the save, the Red Sox pulled off one of the greatest feats in postseason history.

In the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Millar walked and was replaced by Dave Roberts as a pinch runner. Roberts stole second and scored on Bill Mueller's single to tie the game at four and send it into extra innings.

The Red Sox got a walk-off home run from David Ortiz to send the series to a Game 5.

Boston did it again in Game 5, tying the game in the bottom of the eighth before winning in 14 innings.

Then came Curt Schilling's bloody sock in Game 6 and the 10-3 rout in Game 7, and the Red Sox were on to the World Series, where they swept the St. Louis Cardinals.

There's no way the Red Sox should have gotten back in the series with the Yankees.

However, the Curse of the Bambino was finally lifted for all of Red Sox Nation.

1. 1969 New York Mets

In only their eighth season of existence, the New York Mets defied the odds and won the 1969 World Series.

In their previous seven seasons the Mets never finished higher than seventh in the 10-team National League.

The 1966 season was different, as baseball ushered in the divisional era.

New York finished the season 100-62, defeating the Braves in the inaugural league championship series.

Then, the Mets went on to upset the Orioles in five games in the World Series, outscoring the Orioles 15-10 in the series.

For a team that had a franchise-high 16-games under .500 record record the year before, 1966 was truly a remarkable season by the Mets.


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