On September 30, with a dramatic walk-off home run by catcher Cal Raleigh, the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years. Raleigh’s heroics ended the longest active playoff drought in the four major North American sports. The Mariner’s magical run ultimately ended in the American League Division Series against the eventual World Series champions, the Houston Astros. The series they played against the Astros included a Game three that lasted six hours and went 18 innings.
On October second, St. Louis Cardinals legends Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright exited their final regular season game as a trio. 2022 was Pujols’ last year in the majors, having played since 2001. Pujols is a guaranteed lock in for the National Baseball Hall of Fame when he is first eligible to be elected in 2027. Molina also hung up his cleats for the last time, having played catcher for the Cardinals since 2004. This season, catcher Molina and pitcher Wainwright broke the major league records for most starts and most wins by a battery, with 328 and 213 respectively. Said Molina after the game, “[It was a] great emotional day for me, just to walk with [Pujols and Wainwright]. It was a great moment for baseball.”
On October fourth, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge broke fellow Yankee Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League record of 61 home runs in a single regular season. Maris’ son was in attendance to witness the historic milestone in Arlington, Texas. Judge’s home run is not the major league record, however. The major league record is 73, set by former San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds. Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa collectively take up the first six spots on the single-season home run leaderboard, but have had their legacies tarnished by use of performance-enhancing drugs, and are seen by some as not the “true” home run kings. Said Judge of his take on the controversy, “73 is the record in my book. No matter what people want to say about that era of baseball, for me, they went out there and hit 73 [home runs] and 70 [home runs], and that, to me, is what the record is.”
On November fifth, the Houston Astros won the World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Houston’s World Series appearance was their fourth in the last six years, while Philadelphia was making their first play-off appearance since 2011, and their first World Series appearance since 2009. Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña took home the World Series Most Valuable Player award, going 10-for-25 with two doubles and a home run. The manager of the Astros, 73-year-old “Dusty” Baker, finally won a World Series as a manager, becoming just the seventh person to win the Fall Classic as both a player and as a manager.