Saturday, January 14, 2012

Things to Know About Walk-Off Home Runs in Baseball

Walk-off home runs, also known as game-winning home runs, are a dramatic way to end a baseball game in an instant. They occur with some frequency throughout the regular season but often provide memorable moments in postseason play.
A walk-off home run is simply a home run that ends the game. It can only be hit by the home team in the bottom of the 9th inning or the bottom of later innings, as the home team always bats last. A walk-off home run is so called because all the players walk off the field rather than continuing to play.
Origin of the Term
The origin of the term 'walk-off home run' is comparatively recent, coming into vogue only in the 1990s. The first recorded use of the term was reported in the "San Francisco Chronicle" in 1998 and credited to pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who was famous for his idiosyncratic and colorful baseball vocabulary.
A Memorable Walk-off
Eckersley, who was pitching for the Oakland A's at the time, coined the phrase before the end of the 1988 season, which saw him give up a walk-off homer to pinch hitter Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of the World Series. The Dodgers went on to win the series in seven games.
Other Walk-offs
Any hit that drives in the game-ending run can be termed a "walk-off hit." In fact, you don't even need a hit to score the game-ending run, so there have also been walk-off wild pitches, walk-off walks, walk-off hit-by-pitches, walk-off reach-by-errors and walk-off balks or "balk-offs." Most of these game-ending non-hits occur when the bases are loaded.

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