Among the Cubs’ best 2016 offseason signings was a 35-year-old middle infielder/outfielder with a lifetime batting average of .266. Ben Zobrist just knows how to win. Even without gaudy numbers, most people agree that Chicago is a “team” because of players like Zobrist. One fact demonstrates his importance: When Chicago made the World Series, it put the Illinois native in the select company of those who played in the Fall Classic in both leagues.
In 2008, Zobrist played for Tampa Bay when they lost to the Phillies. In 2015, he participated in the Kansas City Royals’ World Championship team. Then, a 2016 World Series ring gave Ben the trifecta. While quite a few MLB players compete in the World Series in both the Junior and Senior circuits, a few stand out given their contributions. These are the five other MLB players who won the World Series in both leagues.
1. Paul O’Neill, Cincinnati Reds/New York Yankees
Paul O’Neill played in a whopping 19 postseason games between the Reds and Yankees. Five years after joining Cincinnati, the team that drafted him in the fourth round of the 1981 MLB Draft, O’Neill played in the NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He went on to compete in the World Series against Oakland. Faring better in the WLCS, he batted .471 with a homer and four RBIs. Against the A’s, O’Neill had but one hit and batted .083.
He had a lot of time to redeem himself. With the New York Yankees, O’Neill played in six World Series against the Diamondbacks, Mets, Atlanta (twice), and San Diego. In 109 plate appearances, O’Neill batted .261 with 24 hits and 16 walks. The lanky outfielder did not hit a home run in the World Series, but he has five sparkly championship rings that speak to his credit.
2. Roger Maris, New York Yankees/St. Louis Cardinals
Everyone knows about Roger Maris’s exploits with the New York Yankees; in five successive years (from 1960 through 1964), he played in the World Series for the Bombers, hitting five homers with 10 RBIs. The former two-time MVP collected two rings with New York. In 1966, the Yankees traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played for two years, never hitting as many as 10 home runs in a season.
Nonetheless, at the age of 32, Maris served as a valuable addition to the Cardinals. He plated in two consecutive World Series for the Redbirds. In the 1967 World Series, against Boston, Roger batted .385 with one home run. Less successful in ’68, he batted .158 against Detroit. Maris did add another ring (for the ’67 series) to his collection.
3. Kirk Gibson, Detroit Tigers/Los Angeles Dodgers
Every baseball fan who has seen a part of a highlight reel commercial can see Kirk Gibson, limping around the bases, pumping his arm after hitting a home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 Series against the A’s. Gibson made the most of it as his only at-bat in that series. A former Michigan State two-way star (football and baseball), he played for his hometown Detroit Tigers (he was a No. 1 pick in the 1978 draft) in the 1984 World Series against the San Diego Padres.
Gibson continued his MVP season into the championship, batting .333 with two homers and seven RBIs as he collected his first ring at age 27. In 1988, Gibson signed with the Dodgers as a free agent. He played in the 1988 series after an MVP season. After injuring both legs in the NLCS against the Mets, the Dodgers relegated him to a pinch hit role, but he made it count with a legendary walk-off home run (see video above).
4. Bert Blyleven, Minnesota Twins/Pittsburgh Pirates
At the ripe age of 19, Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven pitched two innings for the Twins against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970 ALCS. It proved to be a warmup for what was to come, as the “Frying Dutchman” later took the mound for the Pirates and Twins in the World Series.
In 1979, Blyleven pitched two games, winning one, against the Baltimore Orioles. Eight years later, returning to the team that drafted him in the third round of the 1969 MLB Draft, he pitched in two World Series games as the Twins defeated the Cardinals. Blyleven pitched for three more years, ending his career with the Angels. His two World Series rings are just one part of his HOF career, which included 287 wins and 3.710 strikeouts.
5. Curt Schilling, Philadelphia Phillies/Boston Red Sox
Two words: bloody sock. While everyone in baseball recalls Curt Schilling‘s bloody sock performance in Game 6 of the ALCS, few know that the big right-hander pitched in two other World Series before he helped the Boston Red Sox beat its World Series curse. In 1993, Schilling started for the Phillies when they lost to the Blue Jays in the World Series. Curt was 1-1 in the series, which featured Joe Carter’s famous walk off home run.
After being traded to Arizona in a four-for-one deal, Schilling got his first of three rings with the Diamondbacks, when he and Hall of Famer Randy Johnson pitched spectacularly against the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. After signing as a free agent with the Red Sox in 2007, Schilling pitched in the 2004 and 2007 World Series, going 2-2 as the Sox beat the Cardinals and the Rockies for the title. That second World Series, in 2007, ended up being his last year in the majors.