Thursday, April 24, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Sandy Amoros was a defensive replacement in game 7 of the 1955 World Series. The Brooklyn / New York matchup that year was very exciting, down-to-the-wire. Every player was important. Even the substitutes were needed. The Dodgers and Yankees had some mighty fine reserves that year.

But Amoros was actually a regular that season. He played 102 games in left. But there was someone else who was a clutch performer that had the chance to be the hero with a catch in left. But fate intervened!

Yes, Sandy's amazing catch could have been done by Jim Gilliam, who was always underrated. Gilliam, of course, drew two bases walks in his World Series career. He was also on the best team Jackie Robinson ever played for. The type of player who you don't read about, but can always be counted on. That's what Brooklyn needed in 1955!

But Jim Gilliam started game 7 of the 1955 World Series in left field. In 1953, he was a second basemen. In '55, Jim played 99 games at second, but only 40 in leftfield. It must have felt a little odd to see him out in left. And left in Yankee Stadium was very tricky. That's what made this game seven all-the-more tough for the Dodgers.

So it didn't look like Amoros was going to be needed in the finale. Gilliam did the job, and so did the pitching! The Dodgers were still looking for that elusive World Series title. Don Zimmer started the game at second. And the Dodgers got starting pitcher Johnny Podres two runs, which he made stand up. But in the top of the 6th, George Shuba pinch hit for Zimmer. When the bottom of the frame rolled along, it was Sandy Amoros in left, and Gilliam  back at second base. Back where Jim belongs! You could say he had played that position 100 times that year. Well, almost!

In any event, New York put the first two men on. Then Yogi Berra, who always came through in the clutch for the Yankees, lofted a fly towards left. Amoros, who caught right-handed, ran to the foul line and snared it! Then, Sandy alertly fired it back to the infield. Gil McDougald, taking off from the bag, was doubled off first base. The play essentially killed the Yankee rally that inning.

Amoros even got to bat in the 9th. The score was still only 2-0, Brooklyn. With one out and one on, Sandy drew a walk. But this rally would also die. Bob Turley, the Yankee pitcher, got Johnny Podres out on a fly to center. Gilliam, with a chance to put this game away, ripped a Turley offering to right. But Hank Bauer made the catch. The Dodgers would be forced to make due with just the two runs.

Podres though, was also money on this day. He retired New York 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th to bring the Dodgers their first World Series crown.

Gil Hodges had driven in both of Brooklyn's runs earlier in the game. Podres (as well as Yankee Whitey Ford), had won two games in the 1955 Fall Classic. There were other heroics as well. But none of them will ever top Amoros' catch. Brooklyn got "The Big Play" from the bench! And that, help propel the Dodgers to where they had never been before!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Emery And Lindback: Why No One Should Take Them Lightly!

So, I figure Montreal and New York are getting that feeling. The home-free feeling.

Steve Mason is out for the Philadelphia Flyers and Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning (all 6'7 of him) is also on the sidelines. For how long? No one knows for sure. But fans of the Montreal Canadians (Tampa Bay's opponent) and the New York Rangers (Philadelphia's opponent) must be thinking about round two already.

Before you get there, you must get past your first round opponent.

And, neither team has ruled out the possibility of Bishop and Mason returning. What about Ray Emery and Anders Lindback? Are they easy pickings?

On the surface, Lindback should be no problem for the Habs: 8-12-2, 2.90, .891 this season. Not the second coming of Ken Dryden 1971, says I. But it's often, "What have you done for me lately" in hockey that matters the most.

Linback has actually been quite hot recently, if you take a closer look. Last 5 games? Okay, we have a loss to Buffalo where he didn't play good. His next game was a loss to Pittsburgh in overtime, allowing four goals. But only one of them was scored even strength, and it was against the Pens. So...

And then he came in relief against Toronto and slammed the door shut in a shared shutout with Big Ben. That happened to be the game that put Bishop on the shelf. But Anders stopped all 25 shots against. Against Philadelphia on April 10th, he stopped 34 of 36 shots for his second straight win. Then, he blanked Alexander Ovechkin and his mates for a 3-1-1 finish. Yeah, he's playing well right now. Add to that the Lightning home-ice advantage, and Montreal better think twice before looking too far ahead to round two.

Emery has been there before, unlike Lindback (Anders has played just 13 minutes of a game back in 2011). He took Ottawa to the finals in 2007. After an off-season the next year, he joined the Flyers. While an injury cut his season short, it was Philly that made it all the way to the finals in 2010. From there on in, he came back from that injury and has posted some impressive winning numbers. Last year, in 21 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Ray won 17, lost only 1 and posted a .922 S%. The Hawks won it all.

So that's three times he's been a part of a team that made it through at least three rounds. He did not play at all in the playoffs last season, but got a much deserved ring. Razor came down to earth this year, going just 9-12-4, 2.96, .903

The thing about Ray is, he's a great character. Ever seen one of his goalie fights? The stuff of legend! And character is the thing that is on trial in the Stanley Cup playoffs, more than anything. Ray Emery also brings experience to this situation. More than the Flyers would have with a healthy Steve Mason. Mason has little playoff experience. His last playoff was for Columbus back in 2009. And all it produced was 0-4, 4.27, .878! Is five years of zero playoff experience going to make him ready for the playoffs. Yes, that 33-18-7, 2.50, .917 looks good. But this is the playoffs, a whole new ballgame! And it's against the Rangers, who are no pushovers! So in a situation like this, I'd still want to use Emery, at least in some games. Even a healthy Mason, you tell me: Is he going to have his hands full?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The 1917 Chicago White Sox won the World Series, but were no-hit in back-to-back days in the regular season! Then, they were shutout in back-to-back games in the Fall Classic! In order to win, you have to overcome obstacles.

The no-hitters were not in back-to-back games, however. But it seems odd that it was done by the same team, and it was against the same team. The team that no-hit the White Sox? The St. Louis Browns!

The first no-hitter was on May 5th. But Chicago got a fine 5-hitter from Eddie Cicotte, who was one of the eight White Sox players banned for life after throwing the 1919 World Series.

Cicotte even walked twice to help his own cause. The other White Sox player to walk twice in the game was the most famous member of the 1919 team to get kicked out of baseball, Shoeless Joe Jackson. But the only other White Sox player to reach via the walk was Swede Risberg. He too, was one of the eight Black Sox. Risberg also made the White Sox only error of the game. St. Louis made two.

The pitcher who tossed this masterpierce was Ernie Koob. Despite this, he finished the 1917 season with a record of just 6 wins and 14 losses. When he left the majors after the 1919 (All signs pointing to that season, eh?) Koob's lifetime W-L record was just 23-31. However, against the Sox, he overcame those five walks and two errors to win the game, 1-0.

The next day was a doubleheader between the same teams. In the opener, it was the White Sox taking an 8-4 loss. They picked up eight hits. In the second game, it was the White Sox going down 3-0. Chicago picked up zero hits.

It was Bob Groom who did the honours for the Browns this time around. Groom would also finish his career with a losing record (119-150). And yes, he also has two "O's" in his last name. In 1917, like Koob, Groom would post a losing record 8-19. The 19 losses would lead the AL.

Groom was better than Koob in his no-hitter. The White Sox collected just three walks. Jackson, Risberg and Nemo Leibold each walked once. Buck Weaver, again part of the eighth Black Sox, was hit by a pitch from Groom. There were no errors in this game.

Cicotte atoned for his loss by winning game one of the 1917 Fall Classic against the New York Giants, 2-1. But it was another classic pitching duel that he would be involved in. Each team got 7 hits. Slim Sallee took the hard-luck loss.

In game two, it was Red Faber who fired a fine 8-hitter and won, 7-2 to put Chicago up 2-0. Then, Chicago went into a hitting slump at the wrong time.

Cicotte took the hill again in game three. But instead of putting Chicago up 3-0, he took the loss. That was because his own team couldn't get a run for him!

It was Rube Benton who went all the way for the Giants. And he tamed the White Sox on a five-hitter. The White Sox collected no walks off him. Cicotte wasn't too bad. But Chicago made three errors to New York's two. Chicago lost a close one, 2-0. Both runs scored in the bottom of the fourth and were earned. New York collected eight hits.

Faber returned to the hill for Chicago in game four, looking for another win. But like Cicotte, he could not. Again the White Sox were blanked. This time, they managed to get seven hits, but Chicago took a decisive 5-0 loss. Their big gun, Shoeless Joe Jackson, could do little. He was hitless in four trips to the plate. Eddie Collins got the only walk off a masterful Ferdie Schupp.

The NL leader in W% in 1917 (.750 after going 21-6), Schupp fanned 7 and faced just 33 batters. Only Shano Collins and Ray Schalk managed to get more than one hit. The Giants made only one error in the game. Chicago did not commit one. The Giants got ten hits this time.

But Chicago took game five, 8-5 to take a 3-2 lead in the 1917 World Series. And when Faber tossed a splended 6-hitter in a 4-2 triumph in game six, the White Sox were champions!

Chicago may not have always had the most honest players on the team around this time, but they sure knew how to come back from being no-hit in the regular season and shutout in the postseason. Do it to them once, fine. Do it to them twice back-to-back, and Chicago would fine a way to wake up!

World Series: Did You Know?

Ralph Miller was the first player born on February 29th to play in the Fall Classic.

Called up from the minors in July, he only got into 9 games for the Washington Senators in 1924. But this was one year the Sens were not last in the Amercian League. But they were still first in war and first in peace. The right time for Miller time was 1924! The New York Giants could not have cared that they were up against a team that had a player born on a leap year

But he didn't do much in the 9 games as he batted .133 with 0 RBIs. He would do only a little better in that year's Fall Classic.

Miller's first game was game 3. Roger Peckinpaugh was out of the game game in the bottom of the third. But the Senators were behind 2-0. Miller took over at shortstop.

With one out, Hack Wilson hit into a double play that Miller helped turn. Alas, a run scored and it was now 3-0 for the Giants at home. What could Ralph do about it?

Well, he got Washington on the board. In the top of the 4th with the bases loaded and just one out, Miller sent a fly to left that scored Sam Rice. The Sens scored another run on a walk with the bases loaded again that inning. It was still 3-2, New York, but Washington was back in the game.

Miller added a single in the 6th, and then walked in the 8th. Washington trailed 5-2 by the time Miller walked. They did manage to score a run to cut it to 5-3. With two down, Miller was on third and Mule Shirley was on first. But Nemo Leibold grounded out to end the inning.

The Senators got the run back in the bottom of the frame. But Washington scored another run and had the bases loaded with just one out in the top of the 9th. And guess who was up?

Miller popped out to third. And when Muddy Ruel grounded into a force at third, Washington had lost the game.

Game four saw Miller play the whole game at third base. But he was about to embark on an 0-4 afternoon.

Batting in the 8th spot, Miller came up to the plate in the top of the second. Miller grounded out to leave two runners on in the second. With one out in the fourth, he flied out with a man on second. He was the last out in a 1-2-3 6th. In the bottom of the 7th, Ralph made an error. His final plate appearance was a pop out. But Washington won the game, 7-4. The Fall Classic was a classic alright. It was tied two games apiece.

In game five, it was Miller time at third and again batting in the eight spot. The Senators needed this game, or they would have to win games six and seven at home. It was also Walter Johnson on the hill here, so he would likely not get another start. Again, that's why this game was so important.

In the top of the second with the game scoreless, Miller was the last out as he grounded to second. This left two men on. But in the top of the fourth with two outs, Ralph came through. His single tied the game. However, he got too aggressive on the base paths. When he tried for second on the hit, Miller ended up being the dead duck!

New York took the lead again with two runs off The Big Train in the bottom of the fifth. Amazingly enough, Walter Johnson gave up the two on a home run by opposing pitcher Jack Bentley. It just wasn't his day!

In the top of the 7th, it was Muddy Ruel who walked. Ralph was up representing the tying run. All he could do was ground out, but it did move Ruel to second. Johnson batted for himself and flied out. Another walk, this time to Earl McNeely, got the tying run to first. But the Senators could do nothing more that inning.

Washington got one run back in the top of the 8th as Goose Goslin hit a home run of his own. The next batter, Joe Judge singled. A ground out moved him to second. An single and this thing would be tied. But Washington failed to do so.

In the bottom of the frame, New York lit up Johnson for three more runs to put this game out of reach. Nemo Leibold batted for Miller and flew out to center in the 9th. Washington was shutout in that inning. The Giants were one win away from the 1924 World Series Championship. But that win never came!

Miller did not play in game six, which Washington won 2-1. In game six, the score was tied at three after eight. Ralph came in to the game a defensive replacement in the top of the 9th. Amazingly enough, there was also a new pitcher for this inning: Walter Johnson!

Miller made the innings first putout on a pop fly to third. He also threw out Irish Meusel at first to end the inning. But the Giants had runners on second and third before out number three!

It was then Washington's turn to try and win it. Washington had runners on first and third with just one out. A single, or a deep fly would win the game and the first championship for the Senators. Miller was the batter. Art Nehf was replaced on the mound by Hugh McQuillan. Amazingly enough, he did exactly what was needed. Miller hit into a double play. Clutch pitching!

Miller batted in the bottom of the 12th and was retired. But this proved to be the only out the Giants got. Washington won in dramatic fashion, although, it was New York that somehow made two errors in the inning. It was Earl McNeely with the walk-off single!

So Miller did little.He hit just .182, 2 RBIs, 2 hits and 1 walk. Game seven of the 1924 World Series would prove to be Miller's last at the MLB level. But he got a ring. Tthe Washington Senators finally get it done, as well.

And yes, 1924 was also a leap year. That's all the Sens needed to win it all. Leap year player, leap year Fall Classic!

Friday, April 11, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The San Francisco Giants almost came back from 8-0 down in game four of the 1989 World Series. But they couldn't quite do it.

San Fran, you see, was simply over-matched. It had been a bad year for baseball. Pete Rose was kicked out of baseball, the commissioner who passed the sentence on him died. Billy Martin was killed in a car accident in December.

But there was the matter of the World Series. It seemed almost like a formality. The Oakland A's got by the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, losing just game three. They looked unstoppable. The first three games of the 1989 Fall Classic proved that. It was almost too easy.

Game 4 saw Oakland surge ahead early. Ricky Henderson led off the game with a long ball. In the top of the 2nd, it was A's starter Mike Moore somehow getting two RBIs with a double. Henderson singled for another run. 4-0, Oakland. Three more runs in the top of the 5th made it 7-0. A Carney Lansford double in the top of the 6th inning made it 8-0 for the A's.

San Francisco had scored seven runs in game three, but many (if not all) of them were meaningless. Here, they'd need at least nine runs somehow.

Kevin Mitchell got two for the Giants with a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 6th. The A's were blanked in the top of the 7th, with Moore removed for a pinch hitter.

But Gene Nelson came in for Oakland and seemed poised to end all this nonsense. Alas, Gene walked the first batter of the inning. And then another 2-run home run, this time by Greg Litton, and the lead was finally in half. 8-4. The Giants had no intention of stopping there. You see, their backs were still firmly against the wall!

With one out and Rick Honeycutt now pitching, future Jay Candy Maldonado hit a clutch, pinch-hit triple. Bret Butler doubled home the Candy Man to make it 8-5. Robby Thompson was sent up to pinch-hit. And he too, came through! A single to center scored Butler, and the Giants were within two runs. And the tying run was at the dish!

The rally died right there, as the next two batters were retired. But at least, this game was now a close one. However, Oakland wasn't done swinging their sticks at Candlestick Park on this day!

The A's loaded the bases up against Steve Bedrosian in the top of the 8th. When catcher Terry Steinbach walked, Oakland could breath a little easier, 9-6.

Todd Burns, who had put out the fire in the bottom of the 7th for Oakland, had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th. Bedrosian did likewise to the A's in the top of the 9th. And when Dennis Eckersley came in and had a 1-2-3 (typical) 9th for Oakland, the Athletics were the World Series Champions for 1989.

It had been a sweep, and only this game was close. And only for the first inning and the bottom of the 7th on. But The Quake was the real story. 25 years later, when I think about the 1989 World Series, it's always the false start to game 3. But San Francisco, with their rally in the 6th and 7th inning of game four, gave their fans something else to think about other than that. At least for the time being!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Dodgers were shutout for the first thirteen innings of the 1959 World Series.

Early Wynn of the American League Champion Chicago White Sox was simply on his game in the opening act between Chicago and LA. The Dodgers just didn't seem to have a chance. Game two was also bad for a while. Sometimes, good pitching shutouts good hitting!

Charlie Neal hit a one-out single for Los Angeles in the top of the first. He stole second. A walk put two men on with two out. But the Dodgers could not score. The White Sox sure did: They touched home twice in the bottom of the frame!

And they needed only the first tally. Wynn had a 1-2-3 2nd and 3rd. Roger Craig, shaken up in the first for the Dodgers, also had a 1-2-3 2nd inning. But in the third, he was driven out on a 2-run home run by Ted Kluszewksi. It was 4-0, Chicago. Before the inning was over, the White Sox scored five more times. This game was all in the bag, now!

Wynn gave up a pair of singles in the top of the fourth. Neither of them scored. Chicago sure scored in the bottom of the frame, as Ted Kluszewksi again went yard. And again, it was for two runs. It was now 11-0, Chicago. Mercifully, the White Sox did not touch home again.

Wynn, though, had a 1-2-3 5th with two K's. In the 6th, it was Charlie Neal with another single, but that's all she wrote for Los Angeles in that inning. Maury Wills connected for a 2-out single in the top of the 7th. He did not steal second. Ron Fairly pinch hit for Sandy Koufax (who tossed 2 perfect innings in relief) and grounded out to Kluszewski at first. Wynn stepped on first for the putout.

Jim Gilliam led off the 8th inning for the Dodgers and got a single. It was the sixth hit off Wynn. Al Lopez, the White Sox manager, decided to remove Early. Gerry Staley came in to pitch and was about to make Lopez look like a genuis. Neal hit into a double play and Wally Moon hit a comebacker that Staley fielded and fired to first to retire the side.

Staley fanned Don Demeter to start the 9th. Then the Dodgers looked like they'd finally score. Norm Larker hit a single and Gil Hodges followed suit. Los Angeles was up to 8 hits, which isn't bad when you consider Chicago had 11. But the different was the White Sox had 11 runs by the end of the game. The Dodgers hits went for naught!

Johnny Roseboro hit into a force play at second, Larker now on third with two outs. The game ended as Carl Furillo batted for Maury Wills and flied out. The game went into the record books as an 11-0 win by Chicago.

Game 2 did not seem to start out any better for the Dodgers. Chicago was still scoring and Los Angeles was still looking for a single run, or something positive!

In the top of the first inning of game two, the Dodgers seemed to wake up with two outs. Warren Moon singled, and stole second. Duke Snider followed with a single of his own to move Moon to third. Alas, both runners were stranded.

With Luis Aparicio on third and Jim Landis on first in the bottom of the frame, Chicago was at it again. Actually, I should say, Ted Kluszewski was at it again. He grounded out, but that scored the speedy Aparicio to make it 1-0, Chicago. It would soon be 2-0 as Sherman Lollar followed with a single to score Landis from second. Al Smith reached on an error by Wills the shortstop, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Johnny Podres got Bubba Phillips to ground to third for the force out.

With two out in the top of the second, it was like the top of the first all over again. Two outs, and then, two singles. Wills singled and Podres helped out his own cause by connecting. The speedy Wills made it to third. Gilliam fouled out to Kluszewksi at first. Once again, ninety feet from immortality, and no dice!

The White Sox also got two men on in the bottom of the frame, but could not get anyone in. Bob Shaw, the Chicago starter, had a 1-2-3 top of the third. Podres settled down and retired the side in the bottom of the third on just a walk.

Shaw allowed a single by Roseboro with two outs in the top of the fourth, but that's all Los Angeles got. Shaw himself then got a single in the bottom of the inning, but that was all Chicago got.

In the top of the 5th, Podres flew out to start. Then, Jim Gilliam grounded out. The shutout streak had reached 13 2/3 innings. But Charlie Neal went yard on a solo blast to end that.

The Dodgers ended up winning game 2 of the 1959 World Series 4-3. They then took three of the next four games to win it all. But throughout the Fall Classic of that year, runs weren't easy to come by for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were twice shutout. And for a while, I'm sure more than a few of the Dodgers' players and fans were chiming in with, "When are we going to score one crummy run?"

Patience can be rewarded. Even in baseball. Even in the World Series.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The San Francisco Giants, despite being swept and routed in the 1989 World Series, had their moments. One was the dramatic last inning of game 3. That was the first World Series game played after The Quake.

Oakland had won game 1 of the 1989 Fall Classic 5-0. Dave Stewart tossed the shutout for Oakland. Game 2 was tied at 1 after 3 1/2 innings. The Athletics used a four run uprising in the bottom of the fourth to win the game, 5-1.

Game 3 was delayed 10 days because an Earthquake on October 17th. But when play resumed at Candlestick Park, so did the rout.

Actually, game 3 was only 4-3 after 4, but then it was time for another four runs by Oakland. It was in the top of the fifth that the A's started flexing their muscles. There would be more to come. Both Jose Canseco and Dave Henderson hit shots that found the seats in that inning. The A's didn't stop there. They followed up their four-run fifth with another tally in the sixth via a Carney Lansford home run. It was 9-4 for Oakland. And they still weren't through.

Lansford knocked in another run on a hit in the top of the 8th. And error on the play plated still another. Two more runs by Oakland and it was now a 13-3 rout.

Dave Stewart, who had pitched seven fine innings, was pinch-hit for in that fateful 8th inning. Rick Honeycutt took over in the 8th and stopped the Giants on just one hit. In the 9th, it was Gene Nelson that took over. That's where things got a little interesting! Turns out those four runs scored in the 8th meant a lot, after all!

Ken Oberkfell led off with a walk and Kirt Manwaring hit a one-out double. Bill Bath was sent up to pinch-hit. It was his first World Series plate appearance. Bath surprised everyone with a 3-run, pinch-hit blast. It was the first time someone had a hit a pinch-hit long ball in their first ever World Series plate appearance. San Fran was not done yet, either. Candy Maldonado went down on strikes to put Oakland an out away from going up 3-0 in the 1989 Fall Classic. But Donell Nixon singled. Todd Burns came in to relieve Nelson. Greg Litton doubled him home to make it 13-7, Oakland. Will Clark walked before Burns finally got Oakland out of their when he retired Kevin Mitchell on a fly to deep left.

The A's went on to sweep San Francisco in the 1989 World Series. But Bath, who had not hit a home run since 1986, did something to distract from the rout and the tragedy of the quake.

World Series: Did You Know?

Ken and Clete Boyer had something to do with the first and last runs scored by their teams in five of the seven games of the 1964 World Series. They would either score the run, or knock it in! Ken was the elder statesman of the two, and part of the National League winning St. Louis Cardinals. He was also the MVP of the regular season that year. Clete was a little in shadow of not only his older brother, but of many of the Yankees. Ken was the better hitter and Clete was the better fielder. Ken had five years on Clete. But their performances in this World Series seemed to narrow all of those gaps.

Ken got the Cardinals on the board first in game one. Facing Whitey Ford of the Yankees, he flied out to Mickey Mantle in the bottom of the first. There was only one out with runners on the corners. Mickey was actually playing right field, as his knees were not 100%. Roger Maris was in centerfield. Lou Brock tagged on scored.  Ford fanned Bill White to get out of there without further damage.

Clete did not drive in or score the first Yankee run. Tom Tresh hit a 2-run shot in the top of the second to put the New York Yankees up, 2-1. But Clete did do something that inning. Clete singled off Ray Sadecki and scored on a Ford single. 3-1, Yankees.

Ken walked in his next at-bat in the bottom of the third. In the sixth, he led off with a single. He scored on Mike Shannon's towering 2-run home run. That tied the score at 4. The Cardinals would add two more to take the lead for good. St. Louis went on to win the game, 9-5.

Curt Flood drove in Mike Shannon with the first run of game two. That was on a groundout in the bottom of the third inning. But in the top of the 4th, it was Clete Boyer with an RBI on a sacrifice fly of his own. In Clete's last plate appearance, he walked intentionally by Bob Gibson. Ken did not get a hit or a walk. New York leveled the 1964 Fall Classic with an 8-3 win.

In game 3 in New York, Clete doubled home Elston Howard in the bottom of the second off Curt Simmons. Simmons himself tied the game with an RBI of his own in the top of the 5th. Clete didn't do much the rest of the way and Ken was held hitless for the second consecutive game. Thanks to a dramatic walk-off home run by Mickey Mantle in the bottom of the 9th, New York took this thriller, 2-1.

The next game saw the Yankees sail out to an early 3-0 lead with Bobby Richardson, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard knocking in the runs in the bottom of the first. That was enough to knock out starter Ray Sadecki with just one out. In came Roger Craig, who more than got the job done. He and Ron Taylor combined to toss 8 2/3 shutout innings from there. A grand slam by Ken Boyer in the top of the 6th turned that 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 St. Louis lead. That was all the scoring in the game. Clete managed to get the last hit for the Yankees.

The next two games the Boyer brothers did not do much. But in game 7 at St. Louis, it was Ken Boyer with a double and a run scored in the bottom of the 5th. The Cardinals raced out to a 6-0 lead by the end of that inning. But Mickey Mantle hit a 3-run home run off Bob Gibson in the top of the 6th to cut that in half. That's where things started to get really interesting.

Ken hit a solo home run off Steve Hamilton in the bottom of the 7th. That seemed to put the game out of reach. It was the last run the Cardinals would score. But clearly, they weren't going to need more with Bob Gibson out there, right. A nice comfortable, four-run lead.

Actually, St. Louis got runners to second and third in the bottom of the 8th with just one out. But they failed to score. Gibson went out to the hill in the top of the 9th with St. Louis still up, 7-3. Bob needed just three more outs to put the Yankees away in the 1964 Fall Classic.

Tom Tresh went down on strikeout. But Clete Boyer rifled a solo home run of his own. That made it 7-4. Gibson fanned pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard, but then gave up another solo shot to Phil Linz. Now it was 7-5, Cards. Gibby had to dig deep and get Bobby Richardson, with thirteen hits in this World Series, to pop up and end it.

The Boyer brothers had been clutch for some, but not all, of the games in the 1964 World Series. They got the ball rolling on the offence. They overcame leads. The Boyers got their teams back in it. The made the 1964 World Series worth watching!

Monday, April 7, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Game 5 of the 1908 World Series was the first that neither team made an error! It was Detroit against Chicago, and the Cubs would prevail in a gem of a pitcher's duel.

The fielding of Tinker to Evers to Chance didn't turn two in this game. But there was two double plays against Chicago, who had 10 hits and only 2 runs. But Detroit could not get a runner home. Which is a shame. For as you will see, the Tigers brought their gloves with them, not their bats!

The Cubs, the visitors in this game, got on the board first. Three straight singles scored a man. Actually, it was Frank Chance's single that scored Johnny Evers. They could do more than just field, right?

How about  the Tigers? They did have Ty Cobb, right? Cobb hit .368 in this Fall Classic, but didn't manage to get one here.

In the famous bottom of the first, Orval Overall did something that has never been accomplished before or since. The Cubbies' pitcher fanned four batters. But with two on and only one out, Orval fanned Cobb. Claude Rossman then fanned for out number three. However, Overall had put too much into this pitch, and catcher Johnny Kling couldn't keep the ball in front of him. So the wild pitch loaded the bases with two outs. The kind of situation that makes the World Series so much fun to watch. Germany Schaefer fanned to end the inning. What a start by Overall! 4 K's in the bottom of the first!

Bill Donovan, who got a rough greeting by Chicago in the top of the first, then settled down for the next three innings. 1-2-3 went Chicago.

The fourth inning was an interesting one. In the top of the frame, the Cubs got a walk, but it was erased when the runner, Harry Steinfeldt, was caught stealing. In the bottom of the inning, it was the Tigers that coaxed a walk from Overall. Germany Schaefer, the clown of his day, also tried for second on a stolen base attempt. He, too, was out.

The fifth inning involved a double by both teams. With one out in the top of the 5th, Kling walked and Overall bunted him to second. Another walk followed. Johnny Evers doubled Kling home. It was 2-0, Chicago.

In the bottom of the frame, Detroit got a single and a double to put the tying run at second with only one out. Overall got Charley O'Leary out on a fly. Sam Crawford then became Overall's 9th strikeout victim of the game. Orval must have looked like the Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson of his day.

Overall got Schaefer in the 6th for his 10th K, and he continued his mastery of the Tigers. Meanwhile, his teammates continued to get several glorious chances to put this one away.

In the top of the 7th inning, it was Orval helping out his own cause with a single. But then he hurt the cause when he was hit on a single by Jimmy Sheckard. The batter is out automatically under those circumstances. The Cubs continued on self-destruction mode in this inning when Donovan picked off Sheckard.

In the top of the 8th, it was Evers that started things out with a single. With one out, Chance singled. First and third with just one out. Steinfeldt fanned for the second out. As this was happening, Chance headed towards second on a delayed double steal. Boss Schmidt seemed to fall for it and gunned the ball to second. Schaefer, at second, got the ball. He noticed Evers going home. And Germany fired a perfect strike to home to nail Johnny. Even the clowns can make the big plays at World Series time. It was still a 2-0 game that could go either way.

I've been writing so much about Evers and Chance. Well what about Tinker? He was 0-3 going into the top of the 9th, but a single with just one out gave Chicago ten hits. Kling grounded to third, where Tiger third sacker Bill Coughlin picked it up and whipped it over to first. Claude Rossman caught the ball at first and Kling was out. Tinker tried to go to third and Rossman fired a strike to Coughlin. Tinker was out number three. Ten hits for the Cubs and just two runs.

Good thing Overall finished with a three-hit shutout. He retired the last twelve batters to face him. Orval even got the last five batters to ground out, meaning the fielders were fast at work. But it was a grand effort on both team's part, as some daring baserunning meant errors were inevitable. But at the end of the day, a "0" showed up under the "E" in the scorebooks. Baseball of this era was a game of singles and speed, with gloves still very primitive. Not everyone was serious (Schaefer come to mind?) about glovework, but this game is one I would have loved to see!

Monday, March 31, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Ken and Clete Boyer both got their first RBIs of the 1964 World Series with the sacrifice fly. They both got their last RBI on the long ball! Two brothers, doing the same thing first time and last! The same opening and closing act! Another reason that the 1964 World Series was so exciting and so memorable, 50 years later. To the old baseballs fans (and to ones like me, not alive yet!), St. Louis and New York put on quite a show. The two brothers at the hot corner were quite a nice touch!

Ken actually batted first in game one, despite it being played at home. Ken was considered to be the better hitter, and batted in the cleanup position. Clete was the better fielder.

The Yankees went down quickly in the top of the first against starter Ray Sadecki. Phil Linz grounded out. Bobby Richardson popped up. Roger Maris walked, but Mickey Mantle flied out to Mike Shannon in rightfielder.

The guys to Mike Shannon then started things for St. Louis in the bottom of the frame. Whitey Ford, the all-time World Series leader in wins with 10, wasn't quite on his game here. But he did get Curt Flood, the centerfielder, to ground out. Lou Brock singled. Dick Groat followed suite, Brock going to third. Ken Boyer was up at the dish. He sent a fly to right. Mantle (playing right because of his knees) made the catch, but Brock tagged and scored.

The Yankees actually came right back in this game in the top of the 2nd. Elston Howard singled. Tom Tresh then belted a 2-run home run, and the Yankees took a 2-1 lead. Just like that, eh? This was New York, again, so it was never easy!

And Clete Boyer helped continue to made it that way. After Joe Pepitone grounded out, Clete singled. With Ford at the plate, Clete showed his wheels and stole second. That was crucial, for Ford singled to right. Boyer scored and it was 3-1, Yankees. Linz walked. Richardson singled, but Ford was out as he tried to score the Yankees' fourth run. The inning finally ended when Sadecki got Maris on a K. But three runs and five hits was one tough inning for any pitcher!

Ken watched as St. Louis cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the 2nd. The next inning, he walked. But St. Louis failed to score.

Clete had an interesting game from there. He grounded out in the top of the fourth. But New York ended up getting that fourth run after all! In the top of the 5th, Tresh doubled home Mantle, who had singled. 4-2. The next inning, Boyer was out on a fly to deep center.

In the bottom of the frame, it was the older brother that helped the Cardinals get it all together. He singled to lead things off. He made it to second as Bill White batted, but not on a steal. Elston Howard let a ball get past him and was charged with a passed ball. Mike Shannon hit a tremendous home run to left. This thing seemed to go a mile! It kept going until it hit the Budweiser sign. And it hit the "B", which was fitting since it tied the score and started the Cards be-lieving! Ford was done for the day as Tim McCarver hit a double. St. Louis scored twice more to take a 6-4 lead.

Ken fanned in the bottom of the 7th against Al Downing, who had come in to replace Ford. Clete grounded out in the top of the 8th, but the Yankees got a run back. It was the Yankees' run.

With Rollie Sheldon now pitching for the Yankees, Clete made an error on a grounder off Shannon. The Cardinals pounced on that miscue and scored three runs that inning to put the game out of reach. Ken was the last batter of the inning and game for St. Louis. He popped out to Clete. The Cardinals would win it, 9-5.

In game 2, the Yankees were again behind 1-0, but this time it was the top of the fourth when they came back. They only scored one run. But guess who drove it in?

Clete had grounded out in the top of the 3rd against Bob Gibson, who was starting his first World Series game. In the top of the 4th, with runners on second and third and only one out, Gibby walked Tresh intentionally. It seemed like a smart move. Clete Boyer was considered a weak hitter. Tresh? Ever so dangerous in this Fall Classic. Clete flied out to Flood in center. But the drive was deep enough to score the tying run. Another Boyer SF, but this time from Clete! The Yankees won this game 8-3, but both brothers failed to get a hit! That would not be the case as this thing went the distance.

In game 7 in St. Louis, with the Cards up 6-3 but Bob Gibson tiring, Ken helped seal the deal. Facing Steve Hamilton with two down (both via the strikeout), Ken got a hold of one, and sent it to the seats in left. 7-3, Cards. It was Ken Boyer's last plate appearance in the 1964 World Series. For all time, as it turns out. But the elder Boyer had hit 2 home runs in the this Fall Classic, one of them a grand slam.

In the top of the 9th, with the score still 7-3, St. Louis, a tired Gibson needed to put the Yankees to rest for good here. Tresh was still looking dangerous and led things off. But Gibby fanned him. Clete, though, proved to be no easy push over. He rocketed a Gibson pitch to left. It found the seats. One out later, it was Phil Linz who went yard as well. It was suddenly only 7-5, St. Louis. Gibson got Bobby Richardson to pop up to end it.

The Boyer brother may not have been as big a story as Bob Gibson, Mickey Mantle, or Whitey Ford. But their contributions to the 1964 World Series should not be forgotten. Each started this thing with some tame hitting to get runners home. But their last at bats were long, loud and legendary! It's that old saying: It runs in the family!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Sandy Koufax did not permit the opposition an RBI for the first 16 2/3 innings he tossed.

Taking the hill for the first time in game 1 of the 1959 World Series, it was already a lost cause. It was the bottom of the 5th inning, and the Chicago White Sox had a lead of 11-0! The Los Angeles Dodgers needed something to build on for game 2. Koufax helped them do that.

Koufax got Jim Rivera to fly out to right. Then is was K time for Koufax. Facing Early Wynn, who was working on the shutout for Chicago, Sandy fanned his mound opponent. The inning ended with Luis Aparicio lining out to left.

In the bottom of the 6th, Sandy got Nellie Fox out on a fly to left. The Jim Landis grounded out to short. Ted Kluszewksi also grounded out, but to second. Koufax was through for the day, but it was a good outing. 2IP, 2K, 0R, 0H.

So in game five of the 1959 World Series, it was time for Koufax to get his first World Series start. Sandy was ever so dandy here in front of a huge crowd at Los Angeles. A crowd numbering 92, 706! And with the Dodgers up in the 1959 World Series three games to one, who better to start then the man that would be on the mound when you needed him the most?

Looking to bring the Fall Classic crown to the west coast for the first time ever, Koufax got Aparicio to fan, Fox to pop out and then Landis went down on strikes. That was one quick top of the first.

Koufax had another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second. It was in the top of the third inning where Sandy ran into some problems.

Bubba Phillips led off with a single. Koufax then got Jim McAnany to pop out. Bob Shaw, Koufax's mound opponent on the day, laid down a bunt. Aparicio singled to left, Phillips made it to third, but when Luis tried for second on the play, he was caught in a rundown and tagged out.

Fox led off the top of the 4th with a single to right. Landis then singled to right, and Fox made it to third. Sherman Lollar was up with the potential for an RBI. But he grounded into a double play. Fox did score on the play, but no RBI. Kluszewski ended the inning by flying out to deep center.

Koufax then K'd Smith to start the 5th and then Phillips was out on a ground ball to short. McAnany walked, but Shaw went down on strikes.

Aparicio got a single to lead of the top of the 6th, but he would prove to be the last baserunner off Koufax in this game. Fox was out on a fly to center. Landis fanned. Lollard grounded into a force at second.

In the 7th inning, Sandy got Chicago 1-2-3. Kluszewski, suddenly not looking so dangerous, flew out. Smith then fanned. Phillips flew out to center. Koufax was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the frame. Los Angeles lost this game to cut their lead to three games to two. But a win in game six brought LA their first World Series crown. Sandy Koufax did not pitch in game six. But in nine innings pitched, he had surrendered just 5 hits and just one run. No RBIs.

So four years and a lot of progress later, it was Sandy on the hill in game one of the 1963 World Series. The New York Yankees were the lucky team that got to face the red hot lefty.

Koufax K'd the side in the first. In the second he fanned both Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to make it five straight K's to start the game. Elston Howard stopped the bleeding by popping out to the catcher.

In the third inning, Koufax fanned Joe Pepitone to make it 6 out of 7 batters whiffed. Clete Boyer and Whitey Ford didn't strike out, but both failed to get the ball out of the infield.

In the fourth inning, Koufax was back in K mode! Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson and Tommy Tresh all fanned, just like they had in the top of the first inning! Sandy was averaging more than two (9) K's per inning (4) through four innings pitched!

Mickey Mantle made it double digits for K's by Sandy went he went down on strikes to start the 5th. Roger Maris popped out. The Yankees still hadn't gotten the ball out of the infield. But that was about to change.

Howard singled to right. Pepitone lashed a single to right, as well. Clete Boyer hit one that looked like it would make it out of the infield. A nice play by Dick Tracewski stopped the ball from going too far. And for a while, it looked like Dick would snare it cleanly. However, he sort of dived too far, and the ball bounced off his wrist. By keeping the ball in front of him, he stopped the Yankees from scoring on the play.

It was ruled a hit. You blink three times and the Yankees go from being no-hit to having three hits and the bases loaded. New York then sent Hector Lopez up to bat for Ford. The Yankees were losing 5-0, but here was a chance to cut into the lead a little! Koufax still had some magic up his sleeve, however, and fanned Hector.

Sandy then got Kubek to pop out to start the bottom of the 6th. But Richardson and Tresh walked. And Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were next. Only one out. But Sandy Koufax, bringing it when he had to, got them both to pop out. It was still 5-0, LA through 6 innings.

Koufax then got Elston Howard on strikes to start the 7th inning. Joe Pepitone popped up back to Johnny Roseboro behind the plate. Clete Boyer popped out to Maury Wills at short.

Phil Linz batted for Stan Williams in the bottom of the 8th and struck out. Tony Kubek hit the ball on the ground to deep short, and made it to first. Richardson fanned again. But Tom Tresh desposited a Koufax offering to deep left. When the ball landed fair in the stands, Koufax had lost the shutout, and Tresh had 2 RBIs. And Sandy's streak of not permitting an RBI ended at 16 2/3 innings. The Dodgers went on to win the game, 5-2.

Sandy had pitched in his first three World Series games, and given up just 3 runs at this point. With each World Series start, he was getting better and better. He might give up more hits, and perhaps a run or two would score. But the feeling had been established with his outing in game 1 of the 1963 World Series: When Koufax was on, you simply didn't have a chance!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Jim Gilliam, like Jim Palmer, drew two bases loaded walks in his career. But they were not in the same game.

Gilliam, a key member of the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers (not to mention Rookie Of The Year), was back in the World Series for a second time in 1955. He, like rest of the Brooklyn team, were still looking for that elusive first Fall Classic triumph.

Gilliam hit only .249 in the regular season, but was ready for the New York Yankees that fall.

But Whitey Ford stopped Jim and his mates cold in game one. Gilliam managed just one hit in five at-bats. Brooklyn lost, 6-5. Another loss in game two put the Dodgers in further trouble. But Gilliam drove in Brooklyn's second and final run of the game.

In game, it was the Dodgers that took something away from the Yankees. Their pride! In the bottom of the second inning with the score tied at 2, Brooklyn's awesome offence started to kick into high gear. This had a deflating effect on the opposition, as you might expect.

With one out, Jackie Robinson hit a single. Then Sandy Amoros was hit by a pitch. Johnny Podres, who would pitch a fine game for the Dodgers, laid down a perfect bunt. Not only did it get both baserunners over, but Podres made it to first! Gilliam was the batter. When he coaxed a walk off Bob Turley, it was Brooklyn ahead for good. The Dodgers weren't about to stop there. When Pee Wee Reese drew another walk off new pitcher Tom Morgan, Brooklyn had some more breathing room.

Gilliam singled and scored Brooklyn's fifth run in the bottom of the bottom of the fourth. The Dodgers scored again that inning and twice more for good measure. With their 8-3 win, Brooklyn was right back in the 1955 Fall Classic.

Gilliam also helped the Dodgers win game four to tie the Series. He scored Brooklyn's first run in the bottom of the third. Then he walked and scored on Duke Snider's three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. Jim ended the game with two hits and a walk.

After getting a hit and walk in game five, Gilliam did the same in games six and seven to help Brooklyn win it's first World Series. Jim certainly helped. 7 hits, 8 walks and 3 RBIs from the leadoff spot. He batted .292 in the 1955 Fall Classic.

In 1966, it was Gilliam on the Los Angeles Dodgers, having moved from Brooklyn to LA in 1958. The Dodgers won the World Series in 1959, 1963 and 1965, with Jim around for the ride.

So in '66, Los Angeles was looking for it's fourth World Series triumph. But Gilliam hit just .217 in 88 games. The Baltimore Orioles were looking for their first World Series win, period.

Los Angeles got things off on the wrong foot as starter Don Drysdale gave up back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning of game one. The long balls were by Frank and Brooks Robinson. Frank's came with a man on, so it was quickly 3-0 Baltimore.

The O's scored again in the top of the second to make it 4-0. In the bottom of the frame, LA got a run back as Jim Lefebvre hit a home run of his own. The Dodgers looked like they'd get more that inning and claw their way back. Wes Parker hit a ground-rule double to right. Jim Gilliam walked. There was nobody out and the tying run was at the plate. But Dave McNally, the only pitcher (along with Bob Gibson) to hit two home runs in the World Series, got the next three batters out.

The Dodgers would not be denied in the bottom of the third. Joe Moeller, who came in to pitch after Drysdale was removed for a pinch hitter, retired Baltimore in order in the top of the third to keep the score 4-1. The Dodgers came up to bat in the bottom of the frame and looked poised to tie it.

Lou Johnson, Tommy Davis and Lefebvre all walked with one out. That was the end of the night for McNally, who walked five batters in 3 1/3 innings pitched. Moe Drabowsky was brought in. Jim Gilliam was back to the plate. When Gilliams walked (again), Los Angeles had cut the Orioles' lead in half, 4-2.

The problem is, the Dodgers never got another run in that game. And despite their seven walks, LA only managed three hits total in the contest. Drabowsky fanned eleven Dodgers, giving up just a hit and two walks in six and two-thirds' innings of relief work.

And, as it turns out, the Dodgers never touched home again. Jim Palmer pitched in game two, as the two men who drew two bases loaded walks in the World Series faced off. But Palmer shutout Gilliam at the plate and the Dodgers overall. Los Angeles dropped game 2, despite Sandy Koufax pitching it, 6-0. When the Orioles took games three and four, both times by the score of 1-0, Baltimore had the sweep.

Game two of the 1966 Fall Classic proved to be Jim Gilliam's last game, as the Dodgers would release him at the end of October. He had been one of the last links to the glory years in Brooklyn.

Jim Gilliam might never have been a great player. But with his speed, clutch hits, keen eye at the plate (taking pitches for Maury Wills to steal on) and superb defence at second and third base, he helped the Dodgers time and time again. It could be argued that Brooklyn and Los Angeles would have reached all those World Series without him. However, there is no doubt the Dodgers would have been hard pressed to replace Jim with someone else so reliable.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Billy Pierce was only 14-15 for the 1959 Chicago White Sox. He did not get a start in the World Series that year. He did, however, appear in three games. The Los Angeles has two pretty good lefties named Podres and Koufax to shell out. Chicago should have used their only one a little more!

I've always thought Pierce, who finished his career with a 211-169 and a 3.27 ERA, should be in the Hall Of Fame. And you have to wonder if a start or two in the 1959 Fall Classic would have made a difference. Chicago lost, four games to two.

But Pierce did not appear until game four. And even there, it looked like it was far too late.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, leading two games to one, dispatched Early Wynn early with a four run uprising in the bottom of the third. Turk Lown finally got Chicago out of there. But those four runs for the LA and zero for Chicago made it look all over. Norm Cash batted for Lown in the top of the 4th and Roger Craig fanned him.

So Pierce was on the hill in the bottom of the frame. The first batter he faced was pitcher Craig. Roger and out, to right. Jim Gilliam grounded out to Luis Aparicio at short. Charlie Neal made it a 1-2-3 inning when he grounded out to second sacker Nellie Fox.

Craig retired the White Sox in order in the top of the 5th, as he continued to pitch well. Pierce matched that when he got Warren Moon to fan. Then Carl Furillo, an old relic from the Brooklyn years, pinch-hit for Norm Larker. Pierce made him a strikeout victim. The inning ended when Gil Hodges flied out to left.

It looked like Chicago might finally get on the board against Craig in the 6th. Ted Kluszewski hit a single to start things. With two away, Al Smith walked. But Jim Rivera ended the inning by popping out to second.

Then Jimmy had to extricate himself from some danger in the bottom of the inning. Don Demeter got on with a walk to lead things off. Johnny Roseboro put down a bunt, that Pierce could not handle it. The error made it first and second with nobody out. Maury Wills flew out, but Craig got both runners to scoring position with a bunt. Gilliam popped out to end the inning.

Earl Torgeson batted for Pierce in the top of the 7th and was out on a groundball. But if you can believe it, the White Sox tallied four runs of Craig in the inning to tie it. Pierce's hard work paid off. Alas, the Dodgers won the game with a run in the bottom of the 8th on a Gil Hodges' long ball. Los Angeles was now one win away from a World Series crown!

Game five of the 1959 Fall Classic was one fine pitching duel between Chicago's Bob Shaw and Los Angeles' Sandy Koufax. The White Sox scored the game's only run in the top of the 4th. And even there, it was on a double play.

Neither starter finished the game, however. Koufax was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning, despite having allowed Chicago only five hits and one run. Shaw was removed in the bottom of the 8th with runners on second and third and only one out. That was because of an interesting scenario.

Don Demeter was slated to bat. The Dodgers, needing a run, sent up pinch hitter Ron Fairly, a left-hander. But Chicago countered that by bringing in Billy Pierce, who was also a lefthander! Chicago then made another change. Rip Repulski, a right-hander, came in to bat for Fairly. Pierce threw four pitches. All balls. All intentional.

Dick Donovan, who had pitched well for Chicago in game three, came in. He got out the final five Dodger batters. The White Sox had managed to survive, 1-0. The Series would head back to The Windy City.

Game six was back in Chicago, but it was Los Angeles that surged ahead early. Duke Snider hit a 2-run home run in the top of the second to put the Dodgers' up, 2-0. Then, six more runs against Wynn and Donovan in the top of the fourth made it, 8-0.

The White Sox got three runs back in the bottom of the frame. Ted Kluszewski, continuing his onslaught of Dodger pitching, hit a three-run home run off Johnny Podres. That knocked LA's lefthander out of the game in favour of Larry Sherry.

Pierce would finally get into the game in the top of the 8th. It was still 8-3, Los Angeles. So it was too late.

Wills was out on a ground ball to Klu at first. Larry Sherry, who just stopped the White Sox cold on this day, connected on a single. Gilliam lined out, but Neal singled to right. Sherry stopped at second. Pierce fanned Warren Moon.

Ray Moore replaced Pierce in the top of the 9th. The very first batter he faced, Chuck Essegian, went yard. That made it 9-3, Chicago. That was also the final score.

Billy Pierce had pitched 3 games and tossed 4 innings. The Dodgers did not score against him. LA manged just 2 hits and 2 walks of Pierce. But Early Wynn started 3 games, Bob Shaw 2 and Dick Donovan 1.

Sometimes, even a great pitcher like Pierce has to play fourth fiddle to guys.

Monday, March 24, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Mickey Mantle only got one hit off Bob Gibson in the 1964 World Series. But it was a big hit.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat Mantle's Yankees 9-5 in game one of the 1964 Fall Classic. So things looked good for the Cards in game two. Their prized possession was on the hill, looking for the kill. The Yankees needed this game, or would have to go home down two games to zero.

After walking Phil Linz to open the game, Gibby fanned Bobby Richardson, Roger Maris and Mantle to get out of the inning. The Cardinals then scored off rookie Mel Stottlemyre in the bottom of the third.

In the top of the fourth, Gibby again fanned Mantle (leading off the inning), who didn't get the bat off his shoulders. But New York, down a run, found a way to score here. A pair of doubles, with Elston Howard only making it to third on the second, put two men in scoring position. A walk to Tom Tresh and a sacrifice fly by Clete Boyer tied the game.

Mantle again led off an inning. In the top of the sixth, The Mick coaxed a walk off Gibson. Howard was out on a scorcher to second. Joe Pepitone was hit by a Gibby pitch. At least, that's what umpire Bill McKinkey said. The St. Louis brass and players didn't think so. But a single by Tresh to left scored Mantle. New York took the lead, 2-1.

In the top of the 7th, it was Bob Gibson who came undone. Linz singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on Richardson's broken bat single to centre. Maris singled Richardson to third. Mantle grounded out, but that scored Richardson to make it 4-1, Yankees. That's all the Bronx Bombers would need in this game.

The Yankees unloaded on Barney Schultz in the top of the 9th. The Cardinals had scored in the bottom of the 8th to make it a 4-2 ballgame, but New York put this one out of reach here. Linz homered. Maris singled, Mantle doubled him home. Howard walked. Pepitone singled and Tresh flied out. It was 8-2, Bronx Bombers. St. Louis scored a meaningless  run in the bottom of the 9th. Bob Gibson had lost his first World Series start.

In his next start, in game four with the Fall Classic tied at two, Gibson was much better. But he would need 10 innings to get the job done.

In the bottom of the second, Mantle led off with a walk. Howard was hit by a pitch. A Joe Pepitone groundout moved 'em both to scoring position. Gibson was forced to walk Tresh intentionally. But with the bases now loaded and only one out, Gibby bore down and fanned Boyer and Stottlemyre (also pitching a great game and also getting out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the 1st) to end the threat.

Bobby and Mel then settled things down and got 'em 1-2-3 in the top and bottom of the third and fourth inning. Gibson fanned Mantle who was again leading off, in the bottom of the fourth.

St. Louis broke the scoreless deadlock in the top of the 5th, with Bob Gibson himself scoring the game's first run. And in the bottom of the 6th, Hoot again got Mantle on a K.

Stottlemyre though, stayed right with Gibson outside of the 5th inning, however. When he left after 7, those two runs (only one of which was unearned) were the only runs that the Cardinals got off him. Hal Reniff ran into some trouble in the top of the 8th, putting two on with just one out. Pete Mikklesen came in and got the next two men out. Then he added a 1-2-3 9th to keep the Yankees in this game.

Mickey Mantle led off the bottom of the 9th. He sent a routine ground ball to Dick Groat at second. Groat had robbed Roger Maris of a single in game four. But here, he made a costly error. Elston Howard fanned. Joe Pepitone hit a line shot that smashed off Gibson and went towards third base. Gibby pounced on the ball and tossed to first. Pepitone was called out, but it looked too close for that call to me. Manager Yogi Berra, first base coach Jim Gleeson and Pepitone went ballistic over the call. But it stood. Tom Tresh then tied the game up with a dramatic 2-run home run. Alas, the Yankees lost the game in the 10th inning. Bob Gibson finished the game with 13 strikeouts, two shy of Sandy Koufax's record 15 in game one of the 1963 World Series. Gibby would better that with 17 in game 1 of the 1968 World Series.

In game 7, Mantle led off the fourth against Gibson and fanned for the 5th time against him this Series. The Yankees actually went on to load the bases with two out, but Bob Gibson fanned Mel Stottlemyre.

Mantle led off the fourth and could only ground out. St. Louis then jumped on Stottlemyre for three runs in the fourth. Al Downing came in the bottom of the 5th, but couldn't stop the bleeding. The Cardinals scored three more times to make it 6-0. The end seemed near for New York.

Gibson, though, was tiring. And he escaped any damage himself again in the top of the 5th. Mike Shannon robbed Phil Linz of a hit when he snagged a sinking liner in right. Mike fired to second to double off Tom Tresh. The Yankees, down only 3-0 at that time, might have gotten a run or two (perhaps even three) if not for that play.

But Mickey Mantle was about to make sure the Yankees got three runs in the top of the 6th.

Bobby Richardson beat out a slow roller to third. Roger Maris singled to right on a bouncing ball. Two on, nobody out. Nowhere to put The Mick. Gibson tried to get one on the outside edge of the plate. But Mickey, batting left-handed, blasted the ball over Lou Brock's head in left for a 3-run shot. The lead was suddenly only 6-3.

Rollie Sheldon, now pitching for the Yankees, had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 6th. Gibson got the first two men in the top of the 7th. Then things got tough. Richardson connected solidly on a single to centre. Roger Maris then really got a hold of one and sent it to right. But it was where Mike Shannon could catch it.

Clete Boyer's older brother Ken went yard for the Cardinals in the bottom of the frame off Steve Hamilton. That made it 7-3. Mantle led of the top of the 8th. He connected again, but cold only fly out to Curt Flood in centre. Hamilton and Mikklesen held St. Louis at bay in the bottom of the 8th.

In the top of the 9th, with one out, it was Clete's turn to join his brother in the long ball action. After pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard fanned, Phil Linz hit the ball where Shannon could not catch it. Actually, Linz hit it where Flood and Brock could not catch it. It was over Brock's head in left. Lou tried to snare it, but came up short by about three and a half feet. It was now only 7-5 St. Louis. Bobby Richardson was at the dish, with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to follow.

Bob Gibson managed to get him to pop up and end a very exciting 1964 World Series. And while Gibson had managed to hold Mickey Mantle to 1-9 (.111 average) the Yankee star had done quite a lot against him. Despite the five strikeouts, Mantle had walked twice and reached on an error. Mickey also had three runs scored and four RBIs. Plus, he had his 18th and final Fall Classic long ball. Mantle had gone out with a bang against one of the all-time greats in the World Series!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Johnny Podres won the first regular season game for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also the first World Series game, too!

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the Dodgers were blown out 8-0 in their first game out west against St. Francisco in 1958, but Podres was there on the mound next. It was up to him to stop the bleeding. The Giants were in for a long game.

Podres had "it" on this day, and so did the Dodgers. Duke Snider went yard. Pee Wee Reese was 2-4 and scored twice. It seemed like the Dodgers were back in Brooklyn and back to their winning ways. But what about the lefty that led the NL in ERA in 1957?

Well, he went out and had a fine first inning, issuing just one walk. Then a fine second by Podres, sans a walk and the shutout continued. But how about Johnny in the third inning? It was a 1-2-3 inning. And he K'd the side.

The Dodgers were up 2-0 by the bottom of the second, and had all the runs they needed. But they were not done. Podres, though allowed a hit in the bottom of the 4th. But the Giants did not score. When Los Angeles did score in the top of the 5th, it was already 5-0, Dodgers. Podres added another two K's to the game.

In the bottom of the sixth, it was The Say Hey Kid himself that got the San Fran on the board. But Willie Mays was out when he tried for second after hitting a single. The Giants needed a lot more than one run, you see. The Giants cut the margin to 7-1. But the way Podres was pitching, the lead was insurmountable.

Podres kept right on going. Still another two K's in the bottom of the 7th. Then a 1-2-3, 8th.

The Giants got a single on in the 9th, but it was erased via a double-play. Podres got the next batter out, and the game went into the record books as a 13-1 Dodger win. Podres finished with a 5-hitter and 11 strikeouts. I'm sure the Dodgers were hoping for more outing like that from him and another lefty they had.

But it didn't quite work out that way. Podres finished 1958 with a 13-15 record and a 3.72 ERA. Worst still, Sandy Koufax was making a push for the top spot on the Dodger's list of southpaws. Sandy went 11-11 with a 4.48 ERA, but allowed just 7.5 hits per 9 innings. He also fanned 7.4 batters per 9. Both marks were second in the NL.

Podres came back nicely the next year. He went 14-9, but his ERA was up to 4.11. The Dodgers won the pennant that season in the playoffs with a 2-0 sweep of Milwaukee. However, in the World Series opener, Los Angeles lost 11-0. Podres would need a win in game 2. Would Chicago score wild at Comiskey Park again?

In the bottom of the first, it was Ted Kluszewski with another RBI. That gave him six RBIs so far in the 1959 World Series. We are at this point through one game and one inning of the next game. Sherman Lollar, who had an RBI of his own in game 1, got another one here. Lollar scored Jim Landis with a single. These three guys would make it real tough for Los Angeles in the 1959 World Series. Along with some of the other White Sox too, might I add.

Bob Shaw, on the mound for Chicago, continued the shutout of Los Angeles. But he allowed two hits in the first and two more in the second. If you can believe it, the Dodgers failed to score.

The White Sox also got two men on in the bottom of the second, but not before Johnny Podres retired the first two batters. And Podres stopped 'em here with a K of Lollar.

Shaw had a 1-2-3 3th and gave up just a single hit to the Dodgers in the 4th. It did not lead to any scoring. Podres had some similar troubles of his own as a runner reached in the 3rd. Bob Shaw himself got a single off Podres the next inning but was stranded.

The Dodgers scored in the 5th on a Charlie Neal home run. But, alas, it came with bases empty. It was still 2-1, Chicago. Podres though, settled down even more than he had the last two innings. In the bottom of the 5th, he got Klu, Landis and Lollar in order. Believe me, the way the 1959 World Series was going, that was no easy task!

Shaw had a 1-2-3 top of the 6th, and Podres stranded a double in the bottom of the frame. But in the top of the 7th, Los Angeles again got into the long ball act.

Shaw retired the first two men, but then Podres was out of the game. Chuck Essegian batted for the pitcher. And did he ever come through! He went out of the park. Tie game! Jim Gilliam, another great from back in Brooklyn, drew a walk. When Charlie Neal hit his second home run of the game, Los Angeles had Chicago doubled up, 4-2.

That was it for Shaw, too. So now both pitchers were out of the game. They had each pitched well, just had one bad inning. And Los Angeles needed that fourth run. In the top of the 8th against reliever Larry Sherry, Chicago pushed across a run, with Lollar then out and home trying to tie it. The White Sox were retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th.

Podres finished with a 5-hitter, 2 (earned) runs, 3 walks, and 3 K's for the win. Sherry gave up 3 hits and one (earned) run for the save. It wasn't a great outing for either, but their fine efforts squared things up.

Podres had another clutch World Series win for the Dodgers. And when Los Angeles took three of the next four games, the World Series Championship came to the west coast for the first time ever!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Los Angeles Dodgers were shutout in their first regular season game, and their first World Series game.

After moving away from Brooklyn after the 1957 season, Los Angeles got a rude greeting to the west coast by the other team that left New York in '57. The Giants, now in San Francisco, weren't about to let the Dodgers make a claim to: How The West Was Won In Baseball!

On the opening day in 1958, Don Drysdale got the nod to the hill for Los Angeles. This actually was a road game in a very small stadium. The Giants played in Seals Stadium. And less than 24,000 took this one in. Was the west lost right off the bat?

Well, for two innings, Big Don kept 'em from losing. But the Giants touched home twice in the bottom of the third inning to make it 2-0. In the fourth, it was the Giants with four more to finish of Drysdale. Don Bessent came in, but it was too late. San Francisco scored twice more. 8-0 would be the final score.

The Dodgers scored 13 times the next game to San Fran's 1, but overall it was a tough uphill battle in 1958. Los Angeles finished 71-83. Sandy Koufax showed some potential. But only he and Stan Williams had a .500 or better record among the starting pitchers.

So in 1959, the Dodgers improved and got back to "like old times in Brooklyn." They ended the season tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for first. They swept them (what a relief that must have been from 1951) and headed to Chicago for the World Series.

But the Chicago White Sox were ever ruder than the Giants on opening day in 1958.

Chicago, playing at home, and playing in their first World Series in 40 years, wasted no time in going on the attack. In the bottom of the first, Ted Kluszewski and Sherman Lollar each knocked in a run to make it 2-0, White Sox. Roger Craig, who usually pitched well in the World Series, then got his behind handed to him in the bottom of the third.

First, it was Jim Landis knocking in a run with a single to make it 3-0. The Kluszewski went out of the park to make it 5-0. Chuck Churn came in, but the White Sox weren't even close to finished! They scored four more runs that inning to make it 9-0. The very next inning, it was Landis again with a single to lead things off. Then, it was Kluszewski again going out of the park for two more runs. That made it 11-0, Chicago.

Clem Labine came in. He, Koufax and Johnny Klippstein held the White Sox at bay for the next five innings. Chicago managed just one hit. But it was far too late. The Dodgers could do nothing with Early Wynn. While Craig was enjoying an early shower, it was Wynn who picked up his first World Series win with a fine 6-hitter over 7 innings. Gerry Staley came in and tossed two more shutout innings to complete the zeros on the scoreboard.

So, it was a rough time for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first meeting against another National League team. And it was also a frustrating time in their first ever Fall Classic game. But the Dodgers were no strangers to overcoming adversary. Roy Campanella was paralysed in a car accident in January of 1958. Don Newcombe started out slowly that year and was traded. Pee Wee Reese retired. But to succeed in sports and in life, you have to overcome obstacles.

The Dodgers did more than that. This version of the Dodgers won the west over with World Series wins in 1959, 1963 and 1965 with Koufax and Drysdale doing the job again and again.

But still, the Dodgers had to learn that, if you are going to win, you need to touch home. Even with great pitching, if you don't score, you don't win.

Friday, March 21, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Whitey Ford and Johnny Podres each won two games in the 1955 World Series.

Yes, these two had come a long was from my last post about them in the 1953 World Series. Actually, neither of them got to pitch in '54, because neither of their teams made it to the Fall Classic that year. But in '55 the Yankees and Dodgers were back, and Brooklyn still hadn't won a World Series!

Ford didn't look so tough in the opening game. Carl Furillo led off the top of the second by taking him out of the park. A triple by Jackie Robinson and a single by Don Zimmer made it 2-0, Brooklyn!

The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the frame on a two-run home run by Elston Howard. But another Brooklyn home run, this time by Duke Snider in the top of the third and the Dodgers were back up, 3-2. How did the Yankees come back?

Well, Ford walked in the bottom of the third inning. He later scored on a double-play to tie it. But the Yankees would need more. Much more. Even at home, the ballpark wasn't small enough for all the power that the Dodgers seemed to have on this day!

Enter Joe Collins.

In the bottom of the 4th, he put the Yankees ahead in this game by going yard. In the top of the 7th, Joe put New York ahead by three runs with a two-run shot! The Yankees needed all those runs, as it turns out.

The Dodgers scored twice more in the top of the eighth. One of the runs scored on that clip I'm sure many of you have seen 1,000 times. You know, Robinson stealing home and Yogi Berra losing it? For my money, Jackie beat the tag by Yogi. But it was the Yankees that beat the Dodgers, 6-5. Ford was the winner.

The Yankees also won game 2, to got up 2-0 on Brooklyn. Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) would be played in Ebbets Field. The Dodgers needed game three!

Enter Johnny Podres.

Roy Campanella put Brooklyn up 1-0 with a two-run dinger in the bottom of the first inning. Then, for one inning, Podres looked shaky. It was Mickey Mantle, who had a knack for going yard in the Fall Classic, that put New York on the board with one in the top of the second. Another run by the Yankees tied the game at 2.

If you can believe it, the tie didn't last. In the bottom of the second, the Dodgers again scored twice, and this time the Yankees would not recover. Indeed, still another two runs in the bottom of the fourth made it 6-2, Brooklyn, and Podres was in fine form.

The Yankees finally scored again in the top of the 7th, but again it was Brooklyn who answered back in the bottom of the inning. And again with two runs. Brooklyn won, 8-3. They were right back in the 1955 World Series. And Johnny Podres had his first World Series win. And it wouldn't be his last!

Brooklyn, buoyed by the big win at home, promptly won the next two games at home for good measure. Suddenly, the Dodgers were just a win away from it all!

But back came the Yankees. Behind Whitey.

It was one of Ford's best efforts in the World Series. Certainly not his best, as he tossed a pair of 2-hitters in his long illustrious Fall Classic career. But in game 6 of the 1955 World Series, The Chairman Of The Board sent the 1955 World Series to a seventh and deciding game with a masterpiece!

The Yankees scored five times in the bottom of the first inning. Ford had just come off a 1-2-3 performance in the top of the frame. The Dodgers scored a single run in the top of the 4th. Ford ended the game with four walks. But Brooklyn got only four hits and just that one run. Whitey added 8 K's for good measure. The home team had now won the first six games of this Fall Classic. This was the left-hander's first World Series with two wins. Alas, the Dodgers were about to have a left-hander win two games in one World Series for the first time, as well.

Game seven was quite a pitcher's duel. Tommy Byrne, the Yankees' pitcher, really gave New York a good enough effort to bring home another Fall Classic crown. But it was not to be.

With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third, New York had Phil Rizzuto on second and Billy Martin on first with two outs. The next batter, Gil McDougald, got a single. But the ball hit Rizzuto, meaning he was out!

The Dodgers took advantage of that situation by scoring in the top of the fourth. Gil Hodges scored Roy Campanella with a single. The Yankees got things off on the right track in the bottom of the frame as Yogi Berra led off with a double. But Yogi was stranded!

Byrne and Podres each had a 1-2-3 5th, but the Dodgers went back on the attack in the top of the 6th. They just found a way on this day!

A single by Pee Wee Reese. Then an error on a sac bunt from Duke Snider by the usually sure-handed Bill Skowron. Two on, nobody out. Campy bunted them both into scoring position. Furillo was walked intentionally. Bob Grim came in to pitch. Hodges was again clutch as he scored Reese with a fly to center. 2-0, Brooklyn! Grim allowed a wild pitch and a walk, but got out of the inning without another run scoring. He and Bob Turley would shutout the Dodgers for the rest of the game. When the game was over, Brooklyn had a grand total of five hits. That certainly doesn't seem like enough for beat the great New York Yankees, does it?

The Yankees got Billy Martin to second and McDougald to first in the bottom of the 6th. Gil reached on a bunt single. Berra, who batted left-handed, went the other way. It looked like at least a ground-rule double. But Sandy Amoros, racing at full speed, speared the ball along the foul line! A great catch. McDougald was doubled off on the relay to first. When Hank Bauer grounded out, a potentially huge New York rally had been snuffed out!

The Yankees were not done. In the bottom of the 8th, they got runners on the corners with just one out. Again the batter was Berra. Again, he flied out, but this time to right. Bauer fanned. The Yankees had eight hits in the game at this point. And no runs.

In the bottom of the 9th, with the Dodgers still up 2-0, Skowron grounded back to Podres. Bob Cerv was out on a fly to left. And when Elston Howard grounded out to Reese at short, the Dodgers were finally World Series Champions!

It had been a great Fall Classic in 1955. An amazing steal of home by Robinson, Snider's four home runs, Amoros' catch. Collins with two clutch round-trippers in a losing effort. The Yankees also got a .417 average by Berra, and a Series-leading .420 performance from Bauer.

But, when I think of the 1955 World Series, it's always two of the best clutch pitchers that come to mind. Johnny Podres (who wound up with the MVP) and Whitey Ford.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Bob Gibson's Fall Classic exploits went beyond his pitching! He was a clutch pitcher, and could even be clutch hitter, too! In the three World Series St. Louis was in during the 1960s (1964, 1967, and 1968) Gibson was always ready to take the call on the hill or at the dish!

In Bob Gibson's first World Series start, it wasn't quite good enough, although he pitched a fine game. And what about his hitting? Let's put it this way, Gibby did a lot on the mound and at the plate. St. Louis had taken game 1, 9-5 over New York. Gibby had a bit of the pressure off him. But, you know, Bob Gibson liked pressure. So I am sure his approach here was no different than it would have been had it been game 7. And Gibson would be on this hill in game 7 of the 1964 World Series.

His first appearance at the dish was in the bottom of the 3rd in a 0-0 deadlock. Another situation Gibson liked, no doubt! The St. Louis right-hander was up against Mel Stottlemyre. And it was Mel who broke first. The Yankees' had sent to the mound a rookie pitcher. It showed, here.

With runners on first and second and nobody out, it was time for Gibby to get those runners over. He laid down a fine bunt, and catcher Elston Howard could only go to first. When Curt Flood grounded out, the Cards had drawn first blood.

After the Yankees tied it in the top of the 4th, Gibson came back to the plate in the bottom of the 5th. This would be his first Fall Classic at bat. True to his flair for the dramatic, Gibby came through with a single. But St. Louis failed to score. The Yankees, no strangers to taking advantage of wildness, would score next as it turned out. In the top of the 6th, a walk, a hit batter, and a Tom Tresh single broke the tie. 2-1, New York.

Then, in the 7th, it was Bob Gibson who really came unravelled. A single by Phil Linz. A wild pitch. A single by Bobby Richardson. It was 3-1, Bronx Bombers. And they weren't through. Roger Maris singled Richardson to third. There was nobody out and the Yankees were up by two run. Mickey Mantle, who scored the go-ahead run for the Yankees in the 6th, hit a ground ball to second. Dal Maxvill, the Cardinals second basemen, could only go to first. That made it 4-1, Yankees. Gibson was out of there after 8 innings. The Cardinals lost, 8-3. Gibson took the loss.

It was another Gibson / Stottlemyre duel in game 5, with the World Series tied at two. Gibson was much better this time around. But so was Stottlemyre. Gibby was on his way to 13 K's, but Mel K'd the side in the top of the first.

Stottlemyre also fanned Gibson in the top of the second. In the 5th, Mel started by fanning Maxvill. Gibson though, hit a lob over short, that dropped in just in front of both Tresh in left, and a charging Linz at short. This single would help trigger a 2-run uprising that Bob needed. Stottlemyre got into the act himself in the bottom of the frame, however. He lashed a 2-out single of his mound opponent. No runs scored, alas.

With one out in the top of the 7th, it was time for Gibby at the dish again. But, once again, Gibson fanned. It was Mel's 6th and final strikeout of the afternoon. St, Louis managed to get two on, but both runners were stranded.

Hal Reniff pitched the top of the 8th for New York and ran into some trouble. Pete Mikkelsen came in and got the Yankees out of a 2 on, 1 out, situation. Then, in the top of the 9th, Pete fanned Gibson. The Yankees needed that kind of pitching to keep them in this game, for a dramatic 2-run home run by Tresh tied things in the bottom of the frame.

Tim McCarver, Gibson's battery mate, then untied it with a 3-run dinger to right in the top of the 10th. And Gibson got through the bottom of the frame without a single Yankee tally. 5-2, St. Louis in the game, 3-2 Cardinals in the 1964 Fall Classic!

The Yankees won game six to send it to the limit. Gibson and Stottlemyre, part 3 would decide it. For 3 1/2 innings it was scoreless. Gibson popped out in the bottom of the third. But the next inning, St. Louis scored three times in the bottom of the 4th. Gibson did nothing in his plate appearance. He popped up to Joe Pepitone at first.

The Cardinals kept the ball rolling in the bottom of the 5th, as they nailed reliever Al Downing for three more runs. Meanwhile, Gibson was pitching out of some jams and getting some nice fielding behind him. But he must have been tiring, pitching on only three day's rest. But he was ahead, 6-0 with only four more innings to go. When would the fatigue show up?

It showed in the top of the 6th. Before Gibby could get one out, the Yankees got three runs on two singles and an opposite-field home run by the incandescent Mantle. Suddenly, it was only 6-3, St. Louis.

Gibson flew out against Rollie Sheldon in the bottom of the frame. The good news was Gibson got through the top of the 7th by allowing the Yankees only one hit. But the outs were getting longer and louder.

Ken Boyer hit his second home run of the 1964 World Series in the bottom of the 7th inning to make it 7-3. With a little more breathing room, Gibson got 'em 1-2-3 in the top of the 8th.

Gibby though, had a chance for the real dagger in the Bronx's hearts in the bottom of the 8th. St. Louis got runners to second and third with only one out. Bob could only hit a grounder to Ken's younger brother Clete at third. Tim McCarver had started towards home and Boyer had him in a rundown. McCarver was out. And with runners only on 1st and 2nd, Curt Flood lined out to Boyer. A potentially huge inning had just been wasted.

And, seeing that this was against the Yankees, you just knew they'd make St. Louis pay.

With one out in the top of the 9th, the defiant Yankees caught fire. Clete Boyer, having thwarted the Cardinals' rally half an inning ago, started a Yankee uprising. The hard way. The hard hit ball way. By going yard. After Gibson fanned Johnny Blanchard, it was time for Linz to go yard as well. Uh-oh, only 7-5 for the Cards. Gibson induced Bobby Richardson (with 13 hits this series) to pop up and end it!

It was ironic that, three years later, Gibson's first at bat was not too unlike his last. In the 1967 World Series, St. Louis faced the Boston Red Sox, playing in their first Fall Classic in 21 years. Ironically, it had been the Cardinals who beat them in 1946. Gibson was needed this time to pitch and hit St. Louis to another Fall Classic triumph.

He didn't quite deliver in game 1. Gibby came up in the top of the second with the bases loaded and only one out. Gibson proceeded to hit into a inning-ending double play.

The teams traded runs the next inning. Roger Maris, now a Card, drove in a run in the top of the frame. But, in the bottom of the inning, the Red Sox tied it. Of all people to tie it! It was Bob Gibson's mound adversary, young Jose Santiago, that took Gibson deep and over the Green Monster in left. 1-1.

Gibson, I think, liked this: tied and having the pressure on himself!

But what he didn't like was fanning in the top of the 4th. Bob also flew out in the top of the 6th as the game remained in a 1-1 deadlock.

His adversary from 1964, Maris, must have pleased Gibson somewhat. Another clutch RBI from him put the Cardinals back out in front, 2-1. Pitching-wise didn't seem to be a problem at this time. But Gibson's attempt to sac bunt in the top of the 9th only resulted in a pop up foul out to first. St. Louis did eventually get runners to second and third, but they were both stranded.

Bob Gibson would survive a walk in the bottom of the 9th to win game one of the 1967 World Series, 2-1. A fine 6-hitter. But Gibson had no hits himself.

In game four, Bob Gibson found his club up two games to one. A chance to put the Red Sox on the brink of defeat. It would be either three games to one or a two-two Fall Classic after this game. It was a home game, with game five in St. Louis as well. Big game. But Big Game Gibson was more than up to task here!

The Cards scored four times in the first inning to get rid of Santiago early here. But Bob ended the inning by flying out to Carl Yastrzemski, who had gotten the Red Sox first hit off Hoot in the top of the frame.

Two more runs in the bottom of the third made it 6-0, St. Louis. Gibson again ended the inning with a flyball out, this time to center.

The Red Sox pitchers seemed to settle down after that, but Bob Gibson was making that look like a mere formality. And in the bottom of the 6th, with St. Louis still up 6-0, Gibby drew a walk. But Lou Brock forced him. A steal of second followed, but Lou would be stranded right there.

In the bottom of the 8th, Gibson faced someone who's younger brother knew a thing or two about hitting, Ken Brett. With Maxvill on first and two outs, Bob again ended the inning by forcing him at second. I guess Ken was determined to prove that Bob Gibson was no George Brett this game when it came to batting.

Gibson though, was a little bit of Cy Young when it came to pitching in this game. Or maybe Walter Johnson. Johnson had 110 shutouts in his day. On this day, Bob Gibson would finish with a 5-hit shutout.

In game 7 at Fenway, it was a battle between two starters who had each won two games in the '67 Fall Classic. Bob Gibson and Jim Lonborg. But it turned out to be all Gibson. And Gibson really brought his bat here!

It was scoreless after two, but then St. Louis got to Lonborg. They had scored one run off him in 20 innings. In the top of the third, they scored twice. But Gibson could only line out to third.

Lonnie and Gibby got 'em 1-2-3 in the 4th, but St. Louis was back at it in the 5th. And guess who got the ball rolling on another 2-run uprising. Yep, Gibson. With one out, the right-hander made it 3-0 Cards with a long home run to left center, landing in the seats where the Green Monster meets the stands. Maris, again helping his one-time adversary, drove in the fourth Cardinal run with a sac fly.

Gibson surrendered a run in the bottom of the frame, but a 3-run home run by Julian Javier in the 6th made it 7-1, St. Louis. At this point, Bobby and his mates could taste the champagne. Dick Williams, the Red Sox manager had said his lineup would be, "Lonborg and champagne." Well, he did get the champagne part right! Gibby would bat one out later and ground out to third. But with a six run cushion, it hardly mattered.

The Red Sox got one run back in the bottom of the 8th, and Bob helped them get it by throwing a wild pitch and a walk that inning. In the top of the 9th, Gibson batted for the last time as he led off the inning. He fanned, but the next three batters sure didn't. In fact, they all reached! Somehow, the Cardinals failed to get any more runs. Again, it was Ken Brett doing some nice work, retiring McCarver to end that.

Gibson gave up a leadoff single to Yaz in the bottom of the 9th. But it was only the third hit by the Red Sox. And it proved to be their last hit. Ken "Hawk" Harrelson hit into a double play. When George Scott fanned on a huge, sweeping curveball, the Cardinals were World Series champions for 1967.

Gibby and his mates had one last World Series in them the next year. This time, it was Detroit's turn to face the wrath of Bob. Game one sufficed.

Okay, forget about the 17 K's and the complete game shutout, did Gibby do much at the plate?

With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third, Bob and his mates needed to take a bite out of the Tigers and pitcher Denny McLain. McLain, who didn't pitch too badly, ran into Gibson the batter in this inning!

After Dal Maxville led off the inning with a walk, up came Gibson. McLain's first pitch was a high ball. But Gibby got the man to second with a fine bunt. McLain, though, took Brock's comebacker and caught Max in a rundown between second and third. Brock stole second and went to third on throwing error by Bill Freehan. The Cardinals failed to score. But they scored three times in the bottom of the 4th. And that would be more than enough for Gibby.

In the 7th inning with Denny in the shower, Gibson popped out for the second out. Lou Brock didn't pop out. He went yard to make it 4-0, St. Louis. That would be the final score.

It was game four of the 1968 World Series where Bob Gibson really showed all that he could do. The Tigers scored twice in the first, Brock with another long ball. That would be all Gibson needed.

McLain, shaken, had a 1-2-3 second. Gibson could only ground out. But St. Louis got rid of McLain in the third with two more runs. 4-0, St. Louis!

And then, in the 4th inning, Gibson went yard to lead things off. That blast inspired the Cards to score again that inning. 6-0, St. Louis. A home run by Jim Northrup got one run back for the Tigers. But it would prove to be the only time the Bengals touched home.

In the top of the 6th, Gibson grounded out. But in his next at bat in the top of the 8th inning, Hoot drew a bases loaded walk to plate the 7th Cardinal run. Gibson then scored behind two other runners when Brock hit a double. It was 10-1, St. Louis. That was the final score. Gibby was in the on-deck circle when the Cardinals were retired in the 9th. But Bob Gibson finished with 10 K's and just 5 hits allowed. Plus, he was 2-3 at the dish with two runs scored, two RBIs and a home run. Once again, Bobby beat Denny!

The Tigers had taken a 3-1 Series lead, but Detroit clawed back to win the next two games. As had it been in '67, game 7 was between the two, two-game winners: Gibson and Mickey Lolich!

And Lolich, like Lonborg, was starting on only two days rest. This game was a home game for the Cardinals. You had to figure with a well-rested Gibson, home field advantage, that St. Louis had a big edge.

Gibson batted first in the bottom of the third, but could only ground out. At this point, he already had 5
strikeouts. And Gibby would retire the first 10 batters to face him. Gibby was off to a fast start! Lolich, though, got 'em 1-2-3 in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th inning.

Gibson came up with a runner on and two down in the bottom of the 5th. But popped out to end the inning. In the top of the 7th, the Tigers plated three runners. That must have surprised everyone.

Gibby, in his last ever World Series at bat, fanned against Lolich in the bottom of the 8th. Gibby was then nicked for another run in the top of the 9th. That made it 4-0, Detroit. A Mike Shannon home run in the bottom of the frame broke up Lolich's shutout bid, but that was all St. Louis got. The Tigers became just the 3rd team in MLB history to rally from three games to one down to win a best-of-seven World Series.

Gibson would never play again in the World Series. And for all that hitting, his lifetime batting average was just .143 in the Fall Classic. Yet two of those hits were long balls. And most of those hits were clutch. Combine that with outstanding pitching when the Cards were on the table, and Bob Gibson will forever be The Man when you need a pitcher to do it all in the Fall Classic!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Federer: A Look At His 2013/14 Performance After Five Tournaments

Roger Federer.

To me, the greatest tennis player ever.

But I knew I'd see the day where he declined. 2010 was only one slam. 2011 was no slams. 2012 was still only one slam. Last year was none. Frankly, I'm not sure he'll ever win another.

Last year started out like where 2012 left off. He made it to the semi-finals of the Australian Open again, but lost to Andy Murray. And from there, he was a near-miss in several tournaments. But Federer's back flared up soon after. Despite his win at Gary Weber, Roger struggled the rest of the season.

But a pretty good fall saw Roger reach the semis or better of his last three tournaments of 2013. Federer failed to win any of the three, but only because of players named Nadal, Djokovic and Del Potro. No shame there.

This year. New coach. New racquet. New Back. And maybe...


After reaching the finals in Brisbane to start the year, Federer reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, only to have his nemesis Rafael Nadal beat him, again. Well, that dropped the "Never To Be Failed To Mentioned Head To Head" record of Roger to 10-23 against Rafael. But what no one seemed to talk about was it brought Federer's streak of consecutive Australian Open semis to eleven! Novak Djokovic, who like Federer has won four Australian Opens, lost in the quarter-finals. So Federer has got a huge edge over both his rivals there.

So, I figured, okay, that will be the highlight of what could be a long year for Roger Federer. He won his only Davis Cup match against 268th ranked Ilija Bozoljac. But Bozoljac didn't look like a bozo in his loss. The first two sets were close, and then Federer's experience took over in the third.

Then came Dubai, where I figured Federer would lose. Well, it was the Roger Federer of old. Here in Dubai, Federer was looking to buy a few more years of tennis greatness. With back-to-back wins over both Djokovic and Tomas Berdych (who had beaten him the year before), Roger had his first title of the year. His first (and only) title of 2013 came in June!

Here's a stat I find interesting. That is, the definitive proof of Federer's return to glory this year.

# of wins over Top 10 players, all of 2013: 4

# of wins over Top 10 players, so far in 2014: 4

And how about a side-by-side comparison of The First Five?


Tournament 2013 2014
Brisbane DNP F
Australia SF SF
Davis Cup (Jan) DNP 1-0
Rotterdam QF DNP
Dubai SF W
Indian Wells QF F
Miami DNP ???
Madrid R16 Not Held Yet
Events Entered 5 5
Matches Played 19 22
Overall (W-L) 14-5 19-3
W % 0.737 0.864
Titles Won 0 1
Finals Or Better Reached 0 3
SF " " " 2 4
QF " " " 4 4