AFTER FOUR-SLICE toasters, the ShamWow and the concept of Happy Hour, man's greatest gift to his fellow man is the ultimate Game 7.

When a World Series, Stanley Cup finals or NBA Finals reaches the last game of its series, role players can become heroes and legends are cemented. With Detroit and Pittsburgh needing a Game 7 tonight to decide who gets to dance with Lord Stanley, here are seven unforgettable Game 7s:

1926 World Series. The Cardinals edged out the Yankees, 3-2, when Babe Ruth ended the series by getting thrown out trying to steal second. It's been widely written that Lou Gehrig was batting. Actually, Bob Meusel was at the plate. Still, Ruth can't get thrown out there.

1942 Stanley Cup. Detroit coach Jack Adams' meltdown following a Game 4 loss was the catalyst to the Red Wings gagging a 3-0 series lead. Toronto completed the comeback with a 3-1 win at home.

1950 Stanley Cup. Pete Babando scored in the second overtime as Detroit won the championship without Gordie Howe, who was knocked out of the series in Game 1 after violently crashing into the boards.

1960 World Series. The Pirates finished off the upset of the powerful Yankees when Bill Mazeroski homered in the bottom of the ninth. Pittsburgh won the championship despite being outscored 55-27 in the series.

1970 NBA Finals. Injured league MVP Willis Reed hobbled onto the court long enough to score four points and provide plenty of inspiration as the Knicks dumped the Lakers, 113-99.

1987 Stanley Cup. The upstart Flyers, the only current Philadelphia franchise to make an ultimate Game 7 appearance, actually led 1-0 off an early Murray Craven goal. The mighty Oilers, led by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jari Kurri, were too much and won 3-1.

1991 World Series. Gene Larkin's 10th inning single for Minnesota ended arguably the most thrilling series ever. Five of the games between the Twins and Braves were decided by one run; three were walk-off wins and Jack Morris pitched all 10 innings of Game 7 for Minnesota.

Got any additions? Bill Russell in 1957? Jacques Lemaire in 1971? Luis Gonzalez in 2001? *

- Ed Barkowitz

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