The Biggest Comebacks in MLB History

Baseball is truly a staple sport in America that has captured imaginations for more than a century.

The sport requires from players not only incredible skill, focus and precision but also mental strength. Since crucial and game-changing plays often happen in split-seconds, having doubts or second-guessing your instincts is simply not an option. That’s what makes the game so interesting. With a margin of error so small, it’s not surprising that there have been some fascinating baseball comebacks where teams managed to turn the game around in a seemingly impossible fashion. To illustrate this, let’s review the games fans debate as the biggest comeback in MLB history.

Seattle Mariners vs Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field – August 5, 2001

It’s been almost two decades since the now-legendary game between the Seattle Mariners and the Cleveland Indians but those who have seen the game will probably remember it for the rest of their lives as it is widely considered to be the biggest comeback in MLB history.

At one point, the game seemed just about over with the Mariners holding a comfortable 12-run advantage in the 7th inning, but that wasn’t what was in store that night. Leading 14-2, the Mariners were ready to start celebrating and the Indians were just about ready to concede defeat as well, benching Ellis Burks, Travis Fryman and Roberto Alomar, three of their starters.

However, Cleveland’s bench players had other plans in mind and started the biggest MLB comeback ever witnessed. First, Russel Branyan executed a flawless solo shot. Then, Jolbert Cabrera, another substitute, added two more runs and the game was suddenly starting to resemble a competition.

Before the Mariners could even figure out what happened, the Indians started gaining momentum and behind heroic efforts from both the supporting players as well as stars such as Jim Thome, Cleveland managed to squeeze out an against-all-odds win at 15-14.

What makes this comeback even more impressive is that the Mariners were the best team in the Major Leagues, so stealing such a win against one of the better teams of the decade was an incredible feat on its own, not to mention it being the largest comeback in MLB history as well as the largest deficit overcome in MLB.

Dodgers vs Phillies at Dodgers Stadium – August 21, 1990

Choosing the biggest baseball comeback isn’t easy as the long history of the sport has seen quite a few incredible comebacks. However, the 1990 game between the Dodgers and the Phillies deserves a place on this list.

The score was 11-1 in the top of the 8th inning in favor of Los Angeles and the result was clear to everyone, including the announcers and the home fans, who were already starting to celebrate.

The Dodgers had already cleared their bench with the only remaining starter being Mike Sharpeson. The rally started with two Phillies runs in the 8th inning. Then, in the 9th, the Phillies continued chipping away at the deficit until a two-run double by Dale Murphy suddenly made it a game at 11-8. Next, John Kruk came to the plate and managed to make the even the score. Martinez scored another double, and suddenly, the Phillies found themselves on top against all odds.

To this day, the game is often considered the biggest comeback in MLB history in the 9th inning and is noted by many as one of the most bizarre and unexplainable comebacks ever to be witnessed.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs at Three Rivers Stadium – April 21, 1991

The last game on our list is another classic from the early nineties that can compete for the title of the biggest comeback in all baseball history. This game stands as yet another reminder that predicting outcomes in baseball can sometimes be outright impossible. In this game, Pittsburgh not only managed to close out the game in their favor but actually managed to erase a five-run deficit two times.

First, they trailed 7-2 before managing to equal the score with four runs in the bottom of the 8th and one run in the 9th. The game went to extra innings where they suffered another 5-0 run by the Cubs in the 11th and fell behind 12-7. At that point, the legendary announcer Harry Caray pronounced the game to be over but the Pirates had other things in mind.

Having already come back from such a deficit once, the Pirates managed to create one of MLB’s biggest comeback hallmarks, coming out on top 13-12 with six runs in the bottom of the 11th and creating an upset that hasn’t been repeated since.


Choosing the biggest comeback in MLB history is a tough task, but all of the above games can make a strong case for the title. However, even if you don’t agree with the selections of biggest baseball comebacks above, we can all agree on one thing – games like these are what make baseball one of the greatest sports of all-time and why millions of people fill the stadiums and huddle in front of their TV sets to watch the drama unfold.

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