Everyone wants to be able to perform well at important moments, especially in the world of sports, where both team and individual efforts are necessary for success. A person who does well for the team is praised for his or her contributions. But when the team suffers a loss, especially at a key point in the season, one person is often blamed for it even though the team is just as responsible.
This work considers baseball players whose careers have been defined and misrepresented by one moment in which they botched a play, costing their teams an important victory (often a pennant or World Series win), and ever since have taken most of the blame for the team's breakdown.
It covers Fred Merkle, whose controversial failure to tag second base after a game-winning single lost the pennant for the Giants in 1908; Fred Snodgrass whose dropped fly ball contributed to the Red Sox's second championship in the 1912 series; Mickey Owen, whose passed ball resulted in the Dodgers losing Game 4 of the 1941 World Series to the Yankees; Ralph Branca, who delivered one of the most talked about home runs in history to Bobby Thomson in the 1951 NLCS; Mike Torrez, whose home run pitch to Bucky Dent was the final, improbable event in the Sox' great collapse of '78; Tom Niedenfuer, whose blown save in the 1985 NLCS cost the Dodgers the pennant; Donnie Moore, the California Angels pitcher remembered for giving up a home run in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS; Bill Buckner, whose E-3 caused him to be blamed for the Red Sox's World Series loss in 1986; and Mitch Williams, blamed for his three-run home run pitch to Joe Carter in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series that lost the world championship for the Phillies.