This Date in Columbia History: Gene Larkin Drives Home the Winning Run in the 1991 World Series
October 27, 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves.
Regarded as one of the best World Series in baseball history and one of the most memorable games in World Series history, Game 7 on October 27, 1991 featured a game-winning base hit from one of Columbia's own, Gene Larkin.
Minnesota's Jack Morris and Atlanta's John Smoltz started on the mound and dueled brilliantly over the first seven innings as the game remained scoreless until the bottom of the 10th inning.
In the 10th, The Twins loaded the bases with one out against Atlanta reliever Alejandro Pena. After Jarvis Brown had pinch run for Chili Davis earlier in the game, Twins manager Tom Kelly sent up Larkin to hit for Brown.
"I can tell you how I felt going to the batter's box," Larkin said to Baseball Digest in 2002. "I was very nervous. My knees were kind of shaking. I remember saying to myself, 'Hit the first strike.' I didn't want the umpire to dictate whether it was a strike or not."
Larkin did hit the first strike. The sweet-swinging left-handed hitter drove the first pitch from Pena the other way into left center field, over the heads of the drawn-in outfielders. The Metrodome crowd went beserk and the Twins won the final game of an epic World Series.
A Long Island native, Larkin graduated from Columbia in 1984. In 40 games that season, he batted .429, belted 19 home runs, drove in 62 runs and netted 133 total bases. The American College Baseball Coaches Association voted him first team All-America.
Larkin was drafted in the 20th round by the Twins that year. He never hit below .302 in three minor league seasons, and played seven years in the majors with the Twins. He earned two World Series rings, in 1987 and that magical season in 1991.