When your baseball fanatic friend rambled with you about a walk-off in the game they watched last night; it might puzzle you big time. Or, if you simply want to find out “What is a walk-off in baseball?”, here’s the answer:
At the end of a baseball game, the walk-off happens when the home team scores the final go-ahead run in the bottom of the last inning, which can be the ninth or the extra ones. In most cases, baseball walk offs are the result of home runs and singles. It can also result from an error, a hit, a walk with the bases loaded, etc.
What is a Walk-Off in Baseball – The Origin of the Term “Walk-Off”
Pitcher Dennis Eckersley coined this term when he described the deep ending home runs that a pitcher did not have to look at before walking off. The first reference of this term appeared in Gennet News Service as they quote Dennis Eckersky’s words after a game in 1988.
Since he first used it as a “walk-off piece”, the term later evolved to describe when the baseball game ends and the losing team just “walks off” the field. As it initially just to imply the dejected and defeated walk of the pitcher when losing is obvious, it eventually became a widespread phenomenon.
Types of Walk-Off Baseball
Baseball walk offs occur when a run is scored in the bottom of the ninth or in the extra innings, which gives the home team the lead. Most walk-offs are from a hit, which can be a single or a walk off home run.
With a walk-off result from a home run, the runner does not have to be on base when scoring the winning run. Meanwhile, there is no requirement for the runner to be on base for any walks off that are not from a home run.
Regarding other types of walk-off wins, we have walk-off hits, which can be the result of any kind of hit, as long as it drives in the winning run of the home team. Other types of walk-offs also include walk-off hit by pitch, which is when the batter is struck by a pitch from the pitcher.
A walk-off wild pitch happens as the pitcher is charged against due to a too-high, too-short, or too-wide throw from the home plate that the catcher cannot control with usual effort. There are also walk-offs due to reach-on-error, steal of home, passed ball, and more.
What is a Walk-Off Grand Slam
A walk-off grand slam brings the win for the home team, which has a run hit with three bases loaded by the baserunners. This means that the team scores four runs, which is the highest score a team can achieve in one play.
According to stathead, there are up to 250 walk-offs counted as grand slams from 1916 to now during MLB. For your information, the recent walk-off grand slam was for the Seattle Mariners, which was scored by their second baseman – Shed Long Jr.
Does a Walk-Off End the Games Right Away
Yes, it does. When a walk-off is hit, the baseball game ends right away without considering any other factor in the game. Even though the official rule of baseball does not use the term “walk-off”, it gives a description of what designs the game-ending run.
According to the rule book, the game will end immediately right when the winning run is recorded. In this case, runners cannot overlap or be called out by the referee. If two runners are being called out and the hit happens, it will end the inning right away despite the game-winning run still ongoing.
Furthermore, once the walk-off moment happens, all runs afterward are not counted. Hence, games that end on a walk-off are called one-run baseball games.
Greatest MLB Walk-Offs Home Runs in History
Carlton Fisk – 1975 World Series walk off: This was one of the most famous moments in MLB history, in which Carlton Fish hit a home run and ended Game 6 for the Red Sox.
This moment is so memorable because Fisk was waving the ball fair, then it hit the left-field pole. The slow-motion record of this moment makes it special for the spectators in the stadium and the audiences watching at home. Furthermore, it marked the end of an incredible and competitive World Series baseball game in history.
Kirk Gibson – 1988 World Series walk off: In October 1988, Mike Davis drew a walk to set up the pinch-hit and two-run home run of Kirk Gibson. It is a dramatic moment in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 1. And the walk off baseball team in this historic game is the Dodgers.
Bobby Thomson – 1951 NL Playoff: In the first two games between the Dodger and The Giants, Thomson hit a two-run home run. Then, in Game 3, Dodgers relied on Branca for the final two-outs, then he faced Thomson-the batter of the Giants. With one swing, he ended the game with what’s later called “Shot heard ‘round the world” home run.
Joe Carter – 1993 World Series: In Game 6 between the Blue Jays and the Phillies, on a 2-2 pitch, the ball was sent into Carter’s wheelhouse by Williams – the pitcher of the Phillies. Then, Carter ran over the left-field wall, scoring a walk-off dinger.
Bill Mazeroski – 1960 World Series: This moment went down as the most legendary game-ending home run ever, not just for the Pittsburgh Pirates but in baseball history. Bill Mazeroski is considered one of the best defensive 2nd basemen. Watch the home run here:
Now, you have the answer you need to the question, “What is a walk-off in baseball?”. Hopefully, you have fun finding out the definition and origin of the term and knowing more about many historical moments in baseball. Visit our site to read more interesting facts, and any question is welcomed here!
Five years as a baseball player, my training approaches with this game give me the motivation to inspire and support young players more. Like all sports, we should start with the desire to have fun and maintain our resilience to strive better at any competition. But, of course, some of us want to have some fun and train for better health. It does not matter what your initial purpose is; I believe that most people ever holding on to the baseball bat will fall in love with the games as I do.