Editor’s note: The following list has been compiled to the best of our knowledge of these players’ affiliation as Latter-day Saints at some point in their career or during their lives.
For many, fall is a time for visiting pumpkin patches, sipping hot cocoa, and pulling sweaters out of the closet. But for American baseball fans, it also means the return of the World Series.
First played in 1903, the World Series, also known as the Fall Classic, features the winners of the American League and the National League vying for the championship of Major League Baseball. Latter-day Saints are no strangers to the World Series, as several members have taken part in the contest over the decades. Here’s our list of 17 Latter-day Saints who have played in the World Series, including one currently playing in the 2022 Fall Classic. Let us know of any we may have missed!
Spencer Adams, Second Base
Spencer Adams holds the distinction of being the first Latter-day Saint to play in the World Series. Born in Layton, Utah, Adams first played in the major leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1923. After spending a year in the minor leagues, Adams was back in the majors in 1925, this time for the Washington Senators. Despite Washington’s reputation for being “first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League,” the Senators won the pennant that year, and went to the World Series against Adams’s old team, the Pirates. Adams appeared in two games of the Series, getting one plate appearance in which he ground out to first base. Ultimately, the Senators lost the Series in seven games. Adams made it back to the World Series in 1926, the very next year, this time with the New York Yankees and his teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. While Adams appeared in two games in this Series, he never got a chance to bat, and was again on the losing side, this time to the St. Louis Cardinals. After playing one more year in the major leagues as a member of the St. Louis Browns, Adams returned to the minor leagues before retiring from baseball in 1931 and returning to Utah. He passed away in 1970 after working for the Utah State Highway Department.
Vern Law, Pitcher
Vern Law was born in Meridian, Idaho. Law played his entire major-league career for the Pittsburgh Pirates, from 1950 to 1967, although he missed the ’52 and ’53 seasons due to military service. The highlight of Law’s career came in 1960, when he not only won the Cy Young Award, which at that time was given to the best pitcher in both Major Leagues, but also played in the World Series against the New York Yankees, the most dominant team of that era. Law was the starting pitcher in Games 1, 4, and 7 of the series, all three of which the Pirates won on their way to a seven-game victory over the Yankees. After his playing career was over, Law briefly served as a pitching coach for the Pirates, and later as an assistant coach at Brigham Young University.
Ken Hunt, Pitcher
Ken Hunt only played one season in the major leagues, but he made it count. In 1961, Hunt started 22 games for the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the first major leaguer from Brigham Young University. Hunt and the Reds won the National League Pennant in 1961, securing a spot in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Hunt did not see any playing time until the final game of the Series, when he was put in to pitch the top of the ninth inning. By that time, the Yankees had already taken an 8-run lead, but Hunt held New York scoreless in his one inning of work, allowing only one baserunner (a walk to Roger Maris, who famously hit 61 home runs and won the Most Valuable Player award that season), and striking out All-Star, Elston Howard. The Reds were unable to mount a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, and the Yankees won the game and the championship. Despite being named the Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News, Hunt never pitched in the majors again. He returned to BYU, where he earned his degree, then went on to teach English and successfully coach high school basketball and baseball in Morgan, Utah for 20 years. Hunt was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, and passed away in 2008.
Harmon Killebrew, First Base
Despite earning the nickname “The Killer” due to his prodigious hitting capabilities, Harmon Killebrew was known for his quiet, kind demeanor. He was baptized a member of the Church during his baseball career, and he spent his most prominent baseball years on the roster of the Minnesota Twins, primarily playing first base. An 11-time All-Star and recipient of the 1969 Most Valuable Player Award, Killebrew reached the World Series in 1965. During that series, he appeared in all seven games, hitting a home run in Game 4, but his team ultimately lost the championship to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only 11 players have hit more home runs than Killebrew’s 573 total. Killebrew was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. He passed away in 2011.
Dane Iorg, Outfield
After playing college baseball for Brigham Young University, Dane Iorg spent 10 years in the major leagues, playing for Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City, and San Diego. He played in two World Series: for the Cardinals in 1982 and for the Royals in 1985. During the 1982 series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Iorg appeared in five of the seven games, hitting an impressive .529 average and scoring four runs, greatly contributing to his team’s victory. Iorg likewise played well in the 1985 series, batting .500 in two of the seven games, and defeating his former team, the Cardinals. With two World Series Championships, Iorg became the first member of the Church with multiple World Series rings.
Jack Morris, Pitcher
Jack Morris played for the Brigham Young University baseball team (where, incidentally, he was coached by Vern Law, see above) before embarking on his Hall of Fame career, primarily with the Detroit Tigers. Morris reached the 1984 World Series with the Tigers, where he pitched in Games 1 and 4, winning both. Morris and the Tigers defeated the Padres in five games, earning Morris his first World Series ring. In 1991, Morris left the Tigers for the Minnesota Twins. The move proved fortuitous, as the Twins reached the World Series that year. Morris was key to the Twins’ victory over the Atlanta Braves, starting Games 1, 4, and 7, and giving up only three total runs. Morris’s performance in the 1991 Fall Classic earned him the award for the Most Valuable Player in that series. However, Morris wasn’t done with the World Series just yet. In 1992, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and defeated the Braves for the second year in a row, earning his third World Series championship, the most of any Latter-day Saint. Morris retired following the 1994 season and was later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
Bruce Hurst, Pitcher
A native of St. George, Utah, Bruce Hurst attended Dixie State, which later named its baseball field after him. Hurst reached the height of his baseball career in the 1986 World Series, pitching for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Mets. In that series, Hurst started Games 1, 5, and 7, giving up only five runs over the course of those three games. He was widely considered the presumptive recipient of the World Series Most Valuable Player Award until the Mets’ improbable comeback and ultimate victory. The honor of World Series MVP instead went to the next entry on our list.
Ray Knight, Third Base
Ray Knight was traded to the Mets in 1984, after previously playing for Houston and Cincinnati. One of two members of the Church to play in the 1986 World Series, Ray Knight’s excellent performance earned him World Series Most Valuable Player honors. Over the course of the series, Knight hit for a .391 average, with four runs scored, five runs batted in, a home run, and a double. Knight may be most remembered for scoring the winning run in the Mets’ miraculous comeback in Game 6, which saved the series for New York. After his playing career, Knight served as the manager for the Cincinnati Reds during the 1996 and 1997 seasons, and also worked as a commentator for ESPN and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
Dennis Eckersley, Pitcher
Dennis Eckersley is one of the best-known relief pitchers in baseball history. His accolades include a Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award (both rare achievements for a relief pitcher) in 1992, and being named to six All-Star teams. Over a career that spanned 24 seasons, Eckersley played for five teams and appeared in three separate World Series, all for the Oakland A’s. His first World Series appearance was in 1988, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.
Eckersley and the A’s were back in the World Series again in 1989, this time playing against their rivals across the bay, the San Francisco Giants. Eckersley pitched very well in that series, not giving up a single run in either of his two appearances. Oakland won the series against the Giants in four straight games, a series sweep. Eckersley made one more World Series appearance in 1990, for the third year in a row, against the Cincinnati Reds. This time the A’s were the team to be swept, losing to the Reds in four games. Eckersley was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, and he ranks seventh on the All-Time Saves list.
Kelly Downs, Pitcher
Pitching against Dennis Eckersley in the 1989 World Series was Kelly Downs of the San Francisco Giants. A native of Ogden, Utah, the 1989 World Series was Downs’s only World Series appearance, pitching in three of the four games. The series is perhaps most remembered for being disrupted by the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989. Fans had already arrived at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park for Game 3 of the series when the earthquake hit. Downs later appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, carrying his nephew in his arms, in the aftermath of the earthquake. After the series resumed 10 days later, Downs and the Giants ultimately lost to the A’s.
Wally Joyner, First Base
Wally Joyner was a third-round draft pick out of Brigham Young University in 1983. Joyner had a breakout rookie year in 1986 playing for the California Angels, when he finished second in voting for the Rookie of the Year Award, was named an All-Star, and tied for first place in that year’s Home Run Derby. After several years playing for the Angels and the Kansas City Royals, Joyner joined the San Diego Padres in 1996. Two years later, he and the Padres appeared in the 1998 World Series, playing against the New York Yankees. Joyner drew three walks in 11 plate appearances while playing in three games of the series. However, he was unable to record a hit. The Padres were no match for the powerful Yankees, who had won a then-record 114 games that season, losing the series in four straight games. Movie-lovers may recognize Joyner from his cameo appearances in The Singles Ward and The R.M.
Jaret Wright, Pitcher
Passed over by his hometown Angels and drafted by the Cleveland Indians, Anaheim native Jaret Wright played in the 1997 World Series against the Florida Marlins at the end of his rookie year. Wright started in Game 4, giving up three runs in six innings and helping earn the win for Cleveland. Wright next took the mound in the decisive Game 7. Wright pitched very well into the seventh inning of that game, giving up only one run and striking out seven batters. Unfortunately for Wright, the Cleveland offense was only able to score two runs, and Florida managed to take the lead after Wright was removed from the game. Florida won the game and the series. Although Wright never made it to another World Series, he continued to pitch in the majors for another 10 seasons.
Jeff Kent, Second Base
Despite playing for six different teams over his 17-year career, Jeff Kent is probably best known for his six seasons playing for the San Francisco Giants. A five-time All-Star and winner of the 2000 Most Valuable Player Award, Kent’s sole World Series appearance came in 2002 with the Giants, playing the in-state rival Anaheim Angels. Kent played in all seven games of that series, hitting three home runs and amassing seven runs batted in. Despite his best efforts, the Angels defeated the Giants, four games to three. Over the course of his career, Kent hit 377 home runs, and he holds the record for most home runs hit by a second baseman.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Outfield
During his 11-year career, Ellsbury played on both sides of the storied Red Sox–Yankees rivalry. A two-time World Series champion, Ellsbury appeared in the World Series in both his first and last years in Boston. During the 2007 World Series, Ellsbury played in every game and gave an outstanding performance, hitting a .438 average, scoring four runs, and collecting six runs batted in. He also became the first rookie to hit two doubles in the same inning of a World Series game. The Red Sox defeated the Colorado Rockies in four games to win Ellsbury’s first World Series ring.
Ellsbury’s second trip to the Fall Classic came in 2013 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He again played in every game of the series, which the Red Sox won, four games to two, for Ellsbury’s second championship. Known for his speed, Ellsbury led the league in stolen bases twice, swiping 70 bags in 2009, and 52 in 2013. Ellsbury’s best offensive season came in 2011, when he hit 32 home runs, won a Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove Award, and finished second in the Most Valuable Player Award voting.
Doug Fister, Pitcher
After competing at Fresno State, Doug Fister played for six different major league teams during his career, but made his most lasting mark with the Detroit Tigers. In 2012, Fister and the Tigers faced the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Fister was the starting pitcher in Game Two, and pitched very well, giving up only four hits, one walk, and one run in six innings of work. Despite his effort, the Tigers offense was unable to score a single run against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants’ bullpen, and the Tigers lost the game 2-0. Fister did not get a chance to pitch again, as the Giants won the Series in four straight games. Upon his retirement in 2019, his agent described him as “a very family-oriented guy” who was eager to spend more time with his wife and two daughters.
Jeremy Guthrie, Starting Pitcher
After taking time out from his baseball career to serve a two-year mission to Spain, Jeremy Guthrie was drafted out of Stanford University in the 2002 Amateur Draft. Guthrie pitched for Cleveland, Baltimore, and Colorado before finally making his first and only World Series appearance with the Kansas City Royals in 2014. Guthrie appeared in two games in that series and was credited with the win in Game 3. However, the San Francisco Giants proved too much for the Royals, winning the overall series, four games to three. After the completion of his playing career, Guthrie was called to serve as the president of the Texas Houston South Mission, serving with his family from 2018 to 2021.
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Bryce Harper, Outfield
Bryce Harper’s Philadelphia Phillies are currently battling against the Houston Astros in the 2022 Fall Classic. Harper is one of the most prominent and talented players in baseball today, having won the Most Valuable Player Award in 2015 and in 2021, and the Rookie of the Year Award in 2012. He has also been named to seven All-Star Teams.
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