Wednesday, August 20, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Miracle Mets of 1969 got exactly six hits in each of the first three games. They had to make do with so little. Entering the Fall Classic that year, they were the decided underdogs against the Baltimore Orioles. And just to make things a little more difficult, it was the O's with the home-field advantage!

Game one in Baltimore matched Tom Seaver of the New York Mets against Oriole starter Mike Cuellar. If Seaver couldn't do it for New York, who could? But, in less than a New York minute, the Mets were down.

Cuellar got the Mets out in the top of the first, giving up just one hit. In the bottom of the frame, the Orioles also got a hit, but it was a home run by Don Buford! In the top of the fourth, it was Donn Clendenon who stroked the Mets' second hit, a double. But New York failed to score and still trailed 1-0. Baltimore then put the game out of reach by scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame. Cuellar himself got an RBI single. Buford followed that by driving in his second run, as well. It was 4-0, Baltimore!

In the top of the seventh, it was New York's turn to bang out some hits. Clendenon got his second hit of the game. Another single and a walk loaded the bases with just one out. But all New York could get out of this was one run on a sac fly by Al Weiss. The shutout was broken, but the Mets would not score again. They collected two more hits, and even got the tying run to the dish in the top of the ninth. But New York ultimately lost this game, 4-1.

In game two, it was Jerry Koosman of the Mets who opposed Dave McNally of the O's on the hill. This time, it was New York that scored first. In the top of the fourth, it was Clendenon again with a hit and this one was a home run to make it 1-0, Mets. New York had two hits at this point.

The Mets had to wait until the top of the seventh for their third hit of the game. It was a double, but it was also stranded. In the bottom of the seventh, it was Baltimore's turn to score. That tied the game at one. The Orioles needed just two hits to score the run. But it proved to be the Orioles only two hits of the game. And also, it was Baltimore's only run of game two.

The Mets, seizing the pitching advantage, then got three straight two-out singles in the top of the ninth. It was Al Weiss that got the third single, and the RBI. 2-1, New York. Koosman made it an interesting bottom of the ninth with two walks, but Canadian Ron Taylor got the last out and the 1969 World Series was tied heading to New York.

In game three, the Mets faced a legend in pitcher Jim Palmer. On the hill for New York? Rookie Gary Gentry, 13-12 in 1969 and eventually 46-49 for his career. Can you say, mismatch?

But Tommie Agee got the Mets off on the right foot as he hit a home run off Palmer in the bottom of the first. Tom would be heard from a lot more before this game was over. But it would be his glove that did a lot of talking.

Gentry himself then drove in both Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson (who had singled) with a double in the bottom of the second. The Miracle Mets were sure making due with so little hits. It was 3-0, New York after two!

Palmer made sure the Mets felt his wrath in the bottom of the third by getting them 1-2-3. In the top of the fourth, it looked like Baltimore was in for a big inning. With one out, it was Frank Robinson with a single and then Boog Powell with one of his own. Brooks Robinson fanned, but Elrod Hendricks launched one to centre that looked like it would score two. Tommie Agee, in centre, robbed Elrod of two RBIs with a running catch on the warning track.

The Mets, though, continued to fail against Palmer. Although they had put a runner on in the third, fourth and fifth inning against Palmer (via the walk), Jim was stranding them, and giving Baltimore a chance to tie it. The O's, it should be noted, put two on in the top of the sixth inning, but would also strand them.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, New York's Ken Boswell led off with the Mets' fourth hit, a single. With one out, Jerry Grote came through with a double to left to score him. Palmer stopped the bleeding from there by fanning the next two batters. But now, New York had some breathing room, ahead 4-0.

Elrod Hendricks made some solid contact for Baltimore to lead of the top of the seventh. He sent a drive to right-centre, where Agee made the catch again. This one was not so hard, but Gentry was running out of gas, as it turns out. That fly ball was the telling sign. Deron Johnson flied out to Agee as well. But that was the last batter Gentry would retire. He walked not one, not two, but three straight batters! That was enough for manager Gil Hodges. On to the hill trotted another right-hander, who was a legend like Palmer. Nolan Ryan!

Odd spot for him. In relief? Eh?

In any event, Paul Blair sent a well-hit ball to right-centre. But Agee was there for his third putout of the inning. But this one was his best of the inning, and better then the catch he made of Hendricks in the fourth. It was a diving catch that saved three runs. The best play by Tommie in the game, despite also hitting that home run back in the first. Tommie had given the Mets one run on the scoreboard and saved five!

Jim Palmer, meanwhile, was done for the game. He had been removed for pinch hitter Dave May in that inning where Agee had made the three putouts. It seemed like a good move for the Orioles, for May had been the first of three straight batters to walk against Gentry. Plus it took Gentry out of the game. But now, Palmer was out of the game for Baltimore and Nolan Ryan was in for New York. The pitching edge had to go to the Mets here!

But Dave Leonhard held the Mets hitless in the bottom of the seventh. They could only get a runner to second on a walk and a sac bunt. Ryan got Baltimore 1-2-3 in the top of the eight.

New York got another hit in the bottom of the eighth inning when Ed Kranepool hit a solo home run of his own, just like Agee had in the first. It was the Mets' sixth and final hit of the game. Too bad New York could not have had a runner on when they were leaving the park here. That's what happens when you only get six hits! But with a 5-0 lead, no one on the New York Mets was complaining at this point, I'm sure!

However, Baltimore, who had just three hits of their own going into the top of the ninth, was not done putting some fear into New York. They, too, did not need many hits to get 'er going. Ryan got the first two batters out on fly balls hit to right fielder Art Shamsky. Baltimore had evidently learned to stop hitting them anywhere near centerfield. But there was two outs. Unexpectedly, Ryan came undone as the Orioles coaxed two walks of him around a single. Ryan managed to fan Paul Blair to end the game.

The Mets went on to win game four 2-1 and game five 5-3. The 1969 World Series would belong to New York! Only in game four did the Mets manage to reach double figures in hits, and even then they needed ten innings to do that. The 1969 New York Mets, with 100 wins to their name, might not have seemed like a team needing a miracle to win. Or even seem like a longshot pick. But with only six hits in each of the first three games, they were put to the test early by Baltimore. But the Mets managed to use some of their smarts, wits, walks, long balls and pitching to overcome that. I guess, with such little output off the bats, New York did need a few miracles that Fall Classic!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Yankees were held to six or less hits in games three, four and five of the 1964 World Series. All three games were at home. They wasted two fine pitching efforts in the process! The St. Louis Cardinals pitchers took advantage of Yankees Stadium being a pitcher's ballpark. Their pitching seemed to click in a New York minute in the Bronx! The World Series was tied at one going there. Someone had to be ahead in it by the end of game five.

In game three of the '64 Fall Classic, Curt Simmons of the Cardinals and Jim Bouton really kept the batter's quiet. The Yankees scored first in the bottom of the second on a single by Elston Howard and a two-out double by Clete Boyer. Simmons settled down after that. Bobby Richardson hit a single in the sixth and then Mickey Mantle hit a two-out double, but Curt held the fort there and everywhere!

Bouton, meanwhile, looked like he was about to lose the game on more than a few occasions. He gave up a hit and a walk himself in the top of the second. The Cardinals, behind 1-0, tied it in the fifth inning. Tim McCarver singled past first basemen Joe Pepitone, who was playing way off the bag, and still could not get to it! The ball then got by Mickey Mantle, who was playing rightfield, with Roger Maris in centre. McCarver ended up on second. Curt Simmons, who was doing it all on this day, then came to the dish. Simmons, who batted and threw left, went the other way. The ball deflected off third baseman Clete Boyer's glove and got away from him. McCarver motored home. The game was tied at one.

The Cardinals also threatened in the top of the sixth and again in the top of the ninth, but were unable to get anyone home. Although the Cards themselves were held to just six hits, they also were issued three walks. New York didn't help their own cause as well, and they made two errors in the game.

In the bottom of the ninth, it was time for Mantle to win the game. His walk-off home run off Barney Schultz was just the Yankees' fifth hit of the afternoon, but it gave the Bronx Bombers the win, 2-1. They were also up two games to one in the 1964 World Series.

In game four, the Yankees lashed out against St. Louis starter Ray Sadecki, who had won game one for the Cards. He made it to the sixth inning in the opening tilt. But here, he was gone after just 1/3 of an inning. Phil Linz hit a double to start the game for New York. Then Phil made it to third on Ken Boyer's throwing error when he was trapped on a pickoff play. Bobby Richardson hit a double to send Linz home. 1-0, New York. Roger Maris hit a soft single to right, Richardson holding at third. Mantle, batting right-handed against Sadecki, also went to right on a single, scoring Richardson. Mickey tried for second when Mike Shannon bobbled the ball. Shannon threw The Mick out at second, but it was 2-0 now and Ray was gone from the game. Maris was on third. When Elston Howard greeted new pitcher Roger Craig with a single to centre, it was 3-0 Yankees. That was five hits, right there!

Craig seemed to settle down, getting the next two men out, then fanning the side in the second. The Cardinals went quietly in the first two innings against Yankee starter Al Downing. In the top of the third, they got a walk from Dal Maxvill and a single from Curt Flood (and failed to score), but went down 1-2-3 in the first, second, fourth and fifth against Downing, who seemed to have the Cardinals number with his lightning-quick fastball and great curveball!

The Yankees didn't seem to be worried about Craig. In the bottom of the third, they coaxed two walks off him, but Roger then picked Mantle off second base to end the inning. In the next frame, New York got another walk, and Clete Boyer added a single. There was only one out. But Craig fanned the next two batters. When he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth, he had fanned eight batters in 4 2/3 inning. Roger Craig had also held the Yankees scoreless!

But it was St. Louis that was scoreless in the game and behind 3-0 in the top of the sixth. Carl Warwick led off with a pinch-hit single. Flood then got his second hit of the game, but Lou Brock went out on a fly ball to Roger Maris in centre. When Dick Groat hit a roller to Bobby Richardson at second, it looked like an inning-ending double play. Richardson seemed to have problems extracting the ball from his glove, and threw wide of second, Phil Linz also being dumped by a Flood slide. The bases were loaded and there was one out.

Ken Boyer took an outside slider for ball one from Downing, then hammered a changeup just fair in left for a grand slam. That turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead for St. Louis. The Cards were held to just two more hits by Downing, Pete Mikkelsen and Ralph Terry the rest of the way. But New York, with five hits after just one inning, were held to just the Boyer single the rest of the way by Roger Craig and Ron Taylor. Taylor threw four innings of scoreless, no-hit ball. Ron also allowed just one walk. The series was tied at two.

Bob Gibson then took over from there in game five. He needed no relief pitching. The game was scoreless into the top of the fifth. Then, with one out, Gibson himself got a single that landed just in from of shortstop Phil Linz, charging into the outfield, and leftfielder Tommy Tresh. Tresh made a desperate dive for it at the last minute, but came up empty. Curt Flood send a roller to Bobby Richardson at second. This was another double play ball. And with one out, this should have been the end of the inning. But the ball took a bad hop at the end, and jumped up and hit Richardson on the wrists. Both runners were safe!

Lou Brock then singled home Gibson and Flood made it to third. 1-0, St. Louis. Bill White then sent another roller to Richardson. This time, Bobby had no trouble with it. Getting it off in plenty of time to Linz at second, New York looked destined to get out of this mess down only one run. Linz, in a hurry, threw it in the dirt to Joe Pepitone at first. Pepi, a little two carefree at times, nonetheless made an acrobatic scoop of it! New York thought the inning was over. But Al Smith, the first base umpire, called White safe as Flood scored. 2-0, St. Louis.

Gibson, with the lead, had survived a scare in the second as the Yankees loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. But entering the bottom of the ninth inning, and still ahead 2-0, he took a four-hitter with him. Mickey Mantle started the inning by sending a ground ball to Dick Groat. And Groat made a critical error, just as Richardson had earlier in the afternoon and in game four. Elston Howard fanned. But when Pepitone, who got the Yankees' fourth hit off Gibby back in the seventh, smashed a liner off Gibson's leg, trouble brewed! Bob Gibson, who was such an athlete that he once played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters, charged after the ball, and made a basketball-like play to nip Pepitione at first. Sort of like a fadeaway jumper, only it was almost an underhanded throw to first. Al Smith called Joe out at first on the play. Pepitone, Yogi Berra (now managing the Yankees) and first-base coach Jim Gleeson all were furious! Watching the play on the World Series highlight film, I have to say it appears that Pepitone made it to the bag at the same time that Gibson's throw did. Pepitone later said he heard Bill White (playing first for St. Louis) make the catch after he touched the bag with his foot. In any event, the call stood. New York, with just four hits now in 8 2/3 innings, were down to their last out!

But Tommy Tresh then hit a dramatic, game-tying home run. Obviously, Bob Gibson's big play had saved St. Louis from losing the game, 3-2. Now it was 2-2, as this amazing game headed to extra innings. The Cardinals then pounced on the situation!

Pete Mikklesen, who had pitched well the day before, had come in to pitch the top of the eighth for New York. After Hal Reniff had come in to pitch after hard-luck starter Mel Stottlemyre (who allowed zero earned runs in seven innings of work) had been removed for a pinch-hitter. Reniff got the first batter out but proceeded to give up two straight hits. Mikklesen, like a superman, came in and got the next five batters out. That was another reason this game was going past the ninth!

Bill White led off with a walk. Ken Boyer tried to bunt them over. He got it off to the right side of the infield. Both Mikkelsen and Joe Pepitone weren't on the same page here. Both of them decided that the other person should field it, while they had a race towards first base. Alas, that is useless if neither of you has the ball! Boyer was credited with a single.  Dick Groat came to bat, and his assignment was much the same as Boyer: 1) Keep the rally going and 2) Prevent the Yankees from turning two!

So on a bunt attempt, Mikkelsen threw one of his patented sinker balls. The Cardinals had been having problems with that all day from Stottlemyre and now Mikkelsen. Sure enough, Dick missed it. Bill White had taken off towards third, too! Elston Howard noticed this, and Bill knew he would not make it to third. White started back to second. Howard took immediate action on this and threw to shortstop Linz, covering ready at second. Bill then reversed things and sprinted towards third. Linz got the ball and fired towards Clete Boyer at third, but the throw was late. White had a stolen base! But Groat, now swinging away, grounded to Clete Boyer at third. Bill White had to hold there. Clete tossed to second, and his older brother was out on the force. Now, New York could get out of this if they could turn a double play. Let's face it, they weren;t about to fail to turn two if they got another chance, right? But Tim McCarver had no intentions of hitting into one. Timmy got ahead in the count 3-1. Tim fouled off a fastball, and that ran the count full. But when Mikkelsen tried to throw him another fastball, McCarver was ready and waiting! It was also right where Tim wanted it. He hammered it over the head of Mantle in right, and the ball dropped in to the seats for a tie-breaking three-run home run! St. Louis led 5-2, and needed just three more outs to go ahead three games to two in the 1964 World Series!

Bob Gibson, now working on a five-hitter, got pinch-hitter Mike Hegan to fan to start the bottom of the tenth. It was his thirteenth strikeout, just two shy of Sandy Koufax's record of fifteen set in game one of the 1963 World Series. Phil Linz popped to Ken Boyer at third. Bobby Richardson (2-4 off Gibson in this game so far) stroked a clean single to centre, as this game continued. Roger Maris was the batter. This was going to be no easy out. Gibby needed to get him out. If Bob Gibson didn't, he would have to face Mickey Mantle. And The Mick, in the on-deck circle, represented the tying run!

Gibson threw Roger a pitch that moved in on his hands. Maris lifted a pop fly to third. But the ball was in foul territory and looked like it was going end up in the stands. That would give Roger another chance at Bob Gibson. The ball was just past the Cards' dugout in left. Ken Boyer, playing third base like his brother, raced over to get it. He reached towards the railing, reaching in as far as he could. And Kenny made a great catch on ball that looked like it was going to hit National League President Warren Giles! St. Louis had the game 5-2, and also were up three games to two in this classic!

St. Louis went on to win the 1964 Fall Classic in seven games. It was not easy from here, either. Their pitching seemed to fall apart. They lost 8-3 in game six and had to hold off a tremendous Yankee onslaught in game seven. The 7-5 finale was not Gibson's finest performance of the World Series that year, but it did give St. Louis the World Series.

But games three, four and five, all at Yankee Stadium, were the crucial ones in this World Series, now approaching it's half-century mark. It was enemy territory for this Cardinal club, and many a pitcher had become rattled. New York, as you can see, also got some good pitching in those three games. And that forced the Cards' pitchers to match that. They did. It would help give St. Louis the confidence they needed, and it also propelled them to victory over tremendous opposition!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Jim Burton pitched for a Joe Morgan in the minors. Pitching for the Boston Red Sox in the 1975 World Series, he faced another Joe Morgan. One of those classic lefty-versus-lefty matchups we all love in the Fall Classic!

Stuck in the minors that magical year of 1975, Burton went 8-2 in 12 starts for Pawtucket, the Red Sox's AAA team. Managed by Joe Morgan, Burton was pitching extremely well. And with a 1.53 ERA, the parent club took notice. He was called up and made his MLB debut on June 10, 1975. He was still only 25 years old.

But what a year he turned in for the Red Sox. Burton went only 1-2, with only 1 save in 29 games (4 starts). However, he posted a 2.89 ERA and also 6 holds. The lefty was needed!

Boston would face the favoured Cincinnati Reds. While Boston took game one, 6-0, the Reds won game two, 3-2. Game three was over in Cincy.

The Reds had no intention of letting Boston take the series lead. The jumped on Boston starter Rick Wise. With one out in the bottom of the fourth, it was 4-1, Cincinnati! Pete Rose had finished off Wise with a triple. Jim Burton came in.

The first batter was Ken Griffey. Burton walked him. The Red Sox needed a double play. But guess who came up to the dish for the Reds? Why, Joe Morgan, of course. It was a good at-bat, as both pitcher and batter waged a tough war.

Burton got Morgan to swing and miss for strike one. Then Jim threw two straight balls. After getting another strike on a miss by Joe, Burton missed again. So with a full count, Joe Morgan sent a fly to centre that was caught. But the fly was deep enough to score rose. Griffey, on first, then stole second when Burton missed for ball one to Tony Perez. Burton's night was over. He departed with the Reds up 5-1. Boston rallied to tie it before losing.

In a winner-take-all game seven, the two teams fought hard and long into the night. The Fall Classic was tied at three in games. Game seven was also tied at three. Burton came on to pitch the ninth.

The first batter to face him was Griffey. And Griffey coaxed another walk from Jim on a 3-2 pitch. On the first pitch to Cesar Geronimo, the Red batter executed a perfect bunt to third. That moved the go-ahead runner into second with just one out. Dan Driessen batted for pitcher Clay Carroll. Again, it took just one pitch to retire the batter by Burton. But it was a ground out. Again, the runner advanced. But there was now two outs.

Pete Rose was in the on-deck circle. As he watched Driessen get retired, he turned to Joe Morgan, who was entering the on-deck circle. "If I don't get it done," he said, "You do!"

Rose and Burton had quite a struggle. Burton fell behind 2-0, got a strike when Pete missed. Then he missed for ball three. But a strike again on a Rose miss, and Burton was one pitch away from getting out of this. But he missed for ball four. It was up to Joe Morgan.

Burton had no intentions of walking him, too. Johnny Bench was next. Bench batted right and Morgan hit left. He missed for ball one, but then got Morgan to swing and miss on the next two pitches. 1-2. Burton was again, just a strike away from ending this. He threw Morgan a tough slider, low and away. And it broke late. But Morgan, doing a fabulous job of protecting the plate, got the last 1/3 of the bat on it. The blooper landed just in front of the Red Sox infielders and an on-rushing Fred Lynn, the centrefielder. The Reds had the lead, 4-3. Burton was done for the night.

Cincinatti went on to win the game 4-3, and the 1975 World Series, four games to three.

Jim Burton never made it back to the World Series. In fact, apart from a 2/3 inning appearance on the hill for Boston in 1977, this was it for his MLB career.

That's what the game of baseball can be like in the postseason. Morgan, went on to play in the World Series the next year, and eventually wound up in baseball's Hall Of Fame. Burton, as mentioned, was not so lucky despite his pretty good performance in '75. He had a good enough year to belong there in the seventh game. Morgan deserved to be there too. Yet, look at where the baseball gods took them: In separate directions after 1975!

You never know, of course, at the time. There can be many more moments like this, or it can be your only moment, be it as a batter or hitter. Still, that's the sort of thing that makes baseball the great sport it is. Pitcher vs. batter, where a hit or an out can make all the difference in the world. Whether your at the game or at home watching it on television, you are always glued to the action in these moments! The 1975 World Series had several of them. And hey, Jim Burton went from the minors under Joe Morgan, to facing Joe Morgan in game seven in the ninth inning! You couldn't ask for much more!

Monday, August 11, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Allie Reynolds got a save and a win in his last two Fall Classic appearances. They were also in back-to-back games in the 1953 World Series. And they were the last two games of the 1953 Fall Classic.

Reynolds actually started game one of the Fall Classic that year. Pitching for the New York Yankees against their rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers, he left with a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning. Brooklyn tied it, and New York then blew it wide open. The 9-5 win got the Yankees off on the right foot.

But going into game five, the Fall Classic of '53 was tied at two. So it was a crucial one. Who better to turn the ball over to than someone with six career wins in the World Series? Reynolds was a little slow getting into this one, through no fault of his own!

The Yankees entered the bottom of the ninth ahead 11-6 in a slugfest at old Ebbets field. The Dodgers needed this one, for games six and seven would be over at Yankee Stadium. But five runs in one inning against the Bronx Bombers is asking for a lot!

But Jim Gilliam, surprising everyone, led off the bottom of the frame with a home run. It only counted for one run, of course, but it was evidence that Brooklyn would not go down without a fight!

Pee Wee Reese was then retired by Bob Kuzava, who was pitching in relief of starter Jim McDonald. But when Duke Snider singled, that was the end of the night for Bob. Worse still, the fleet and dangerous Jackie Robinson was next! The call to the 'pen went to Reynolds!

Reynolds came in. One on, one out. He got Jackie to ground into a game-ending double play! Although, it would not be a save by today's rules, Reynolds would get credited with one right there. He had done just what the Yankees had needed.

But in game six at home, Allie did something the Yankees didn't need!

New York was ahead 3-1 after seven, so manager Casey Stengel went to Reynolds. Allie was looking for another save. The eighth inning went according to plan. The Dodgers managed just a single by Robinson. As Reynolds trotted back out to the hill in the top of the ninth, New York was but three outs away from the 1953 World Series. It would also be their fifth straight title!

Gil Hodges flied out. Duke Snider walked. Carl Furillo then stunned the Yankee faithful by hitting a game-tying two-run home run to right! Reynolds fanned the next two batters, but did Brooklyn ever have life. That is, until the game went into the bottom of the ninth!

Clem Labine had to take his turn to hold the Yankees in check. But Hank Bauer led off with a walk. Yogi Berra then lined out to right. Mickey Mantle, two home runs and seven RBIs to his name so far in this series, showed his speed with an infield single.

Mantle's pal Billy Martin was next. He singled right back through the box. Bauer turned on the jets and raced home from second. The Yankees had the 1953 World Series!

Reynolds had failed to get the win in game one. He had also blown the save in this game. But with a save in game five and a win here in game six, Allie had cemented his place as one of the all-time best World Series pitchers. His win was his seventh, which tied him with Red Ruffling for first in that all-important lifetime category.

Whitey Ford would go on to win ten Fall Classic games to set the all-time record. Reynolds and Ruffling would soon have to settle for a three-way tie with Bob Gibson for second place. But, that's not bad company, now is it?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Gene Woodling and Granny Hamner each hit exactly .429 in the 1950 Fall Classic. And each went 6-14, so they tied for the lead in batting average for that year's World Series. Despite the four game sweep by the Yankees of the Phillies, not all was clear-cut.

Woodling, who batted leadoff for New York, drew a walk as the very first batter in game one. Philly pitcher Jim Konstanty allowed Gene to reach third and another runner to reach first. But that's where Big Jim got out of the inning without a run allowed. For Thanks to another Woodling walk in the third inning, New York loaded the bases! But just went it seemed like they were about to blow the cover off the lid, New York stranded three more runners.

The Yankees scored the only run of the game in the fourth, but Woodling did not figure into it at all. But in the top of the seventh, he singled. Again, New York stranded two runners. But New York won the game 1-0 and Hamner failed in all three trips to the plate.

In game two, Woodling led off the game with a single. Yogi Berra also added a single. New York continued to waste these efforts, as the inning ended in a 0-0 deadlock.

In the second inning, both Gene and Granny came up with big hits. New York got a single by Jerry Coleman and a walk by starting pitcher Allie Reynolds. Gene Woodling hit a clutch single to score Coleman and put New York up 1-0.

In the bottom of the frame, the Phillies threatened to tie it. With one out, Hamner hit a triple. Philadelphia needed just a hit or sac fly and this game was guaranteed a tie. Neither happened as a grounder made two outs. A fly ball off the bat of Mike Goliat ended the inning.

In the top of the fourth, with New York still up 1-0, Hank Bauer popped out to Hamner at short. But Coleman smashed a double and Reynolds drew a walk. The stage was set for another Woodling delivery. It never happened as he hit a foul fly to left that was caught. The Yankees were then retired as Phil Rizzuto lined out to right.

Hamner, for his part, didn't reach the dish in that inning until there was two down and nobody on. But he coaxed a walk from Reynolds. Then, he stole second. But that's all Philly got that inning. However, the Phillies did tie the game the next inning.

It was in the bottom of the ninth that Philadelphia almost won it. And it was our boy with a one-out double that did the honours! Dick Whitman was sent up to bat for Ken Silvestri. New York put him on first intentionally. But Goliat ended the inning by hitting into a double play! The Phillies would pay dearly for that missed opportunity as Joe DiMaggio hit a home run in the top of the tenth inning off Robin Roberts to win the game for New York.

It was off to the Big, Bad, Bronx for the next two games. Philly lost them both. Woodling was not in the lineup for game three, however.

Hamner got a single in the top of the second. He then made it to third on another single. But Philadelphia couldn't get him or anyone else home that inning.

The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the third. Jerry Coleman cashed in Phil Rizzuto with a single. I guess Woodling was not needed! But what the Phillies needed was some offence, now!

The got it in the top of the sixth as Dick Sisler's single tied it. Hamner was the next batter, but watched helplessly as Dick was picked off first! So Granny had to wait until the next inning to bat. When that rolled around, he came through with a single.

Seminick then hit a sac bunt of Ed Lopat to move him into scoring position. When Goliat followed with a single, it was Philadelphia up, 2-1! I guess things had worked out fine for Hamner. What about Woodling? Would he ever get into the game? Time was running out for him and New York.

In the bottom of the eighth, New York not only tied things up, but they loaded the bases. Before that Gene batted for Lopat and was retired.

Then, with two outs, Hamner made an error on a Bobby Brown grounder that allowed the tying run to score. Jim Konstanty, brought in to put out the first, managed to retire Johnny Mize to prevent any further damage. Woodling would stay in the game as he went out to play left field.

But Hamner came through with a double to lead off the top of the ninth. As was the case in game two, a two-bagger by Granny had the potential to win the game. Again, though, Philly blew this one!

Hamner made it to third on a sac bunt. When Goliat was walked intentionally, runners were on the corners with just one out. Philadelphia sent up Dick Whitman to pinch hit again, this time for Konstanty. He hit a grounder to first that Hamner tried to score on. But he was cut down at the dish. Then, with runners on first and second and two out, Eddie Waitkus flied out to right.

The first two Yankee batters were retired in the bottom of the ninth. There was still Woodling. Gene kept the inning alive with a single. When Phil Rizzuto followed with a single of his own, the winning run was on second. Jerry Coleman, continued to come up big as he hit the third straight single of the inning. Woodling trotted home from second and New York won the game 3-2, and led the 1950 Fall Classic, three games to zero.

In game four, Gene Woodling was back in the starting lineup. Back in left and batting leadoff. And he made an immediate impact.

He started things by reaching on an error. Then, Yogi Berra scored him with a single. A wild pitch moved Yogi to third. When DiMaggio followed with a double, it was 2-0, New York. They were just getting started, however.

Hamner, for his part, got a single in the top of the fourth off Whitey Ford. That put runners on the corners with only one out. But The Chairman Of The Board, who was making his first World Series start, got out of the inning via a double play. Andy Seminick hit a grounder to first, where Johnny Mize mad the putout. The Big Cat then fired home to nail Del Ennis, trying to score from third!

Woodling got a single in the bottom of the bottom of the fifth, but was stranded. But New York scored three more times the next inning off Jim Konstanty. The game looked hopelessly over for Philadelphia, with Ford fanning Hamner to start a 1-2-3 seventh.

Woodling continued the onslaught in the bottom of the seventh. He rapped at one-out single off Konstanty. But he got too greedy and tried to steal second. He was a dead duck.

The defiant Phillies came up to bat, behind still by five, in the top of the ninth. Willie Jones led off with a single. Del Ennis was hit by a pitch. But Ford, looking for the shutout, got Dick Sisler to force Ennis at second. Hamner batted for the last time in the 1950 Fall Classic and Whitey fanned him again. Seminick batted again and lofted one to Woodling in left. It should have been the last out. New York should have won, 5-0.

But Woodling made an error on the fly, and the shutout was lost. Actually, two runs scored for Philly, who still had life. Just to leave no doubt about that, Goliat followed with a single. Allie Reynolds was brought in to relieve Ford, who had been cruely robbed of a blanking. Thus are the breaks of the World Series.

Reynolds though, had no intention of letting the Phillies win this game. He fanned pinch-hitter Stan Lopata, and the game was won by New York, 5-2. That completed a four-game sweep!

Despite that, this Fall Classic was close. Every game was one that you would not bet the farm on the winner. In Woodling and Hamner, it was sort of fitting that each batted the same, for their efforts led to many of those close moments being decided or almost decided. While Jerry Coleman won the MVP of the World Series and Jim Konstanty was the MVP of the National League that year, the efforts of Gene and Granny provided some tremendous excitement!

Monday, August 4, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Shoeless Joe Jackson scored the first run in the 1919 World Series. He was also the last out!

The person who is synonymous with "fixed", "thrown", and tainted Fall Classic of 1919 is quite a story. I can't honestly say I believe he wasn't giving it his all. Even in the games the White Sox lost, he seemed to perform very well.

So in game one of the 1919 World Series, it was the favoured Chicago White Sox getting crushed, 9-1 by the underdog Cincinnati Reds. Chicago did not seem to give much of an effort. Joe reached on an error in the top of the second inning, going all the way to second. It was a routine infield grounder. When Happy Felsch got a sac bunt, Jackson was on third with less than two outs! Chick Gandil's single scored Joe. The White Sox, with this run, tied the game at one. But the Reds scored eight more times to win a laugher!

In game two, Jackson batted in the second again. Again, he was leading off. This time he hit a double. Felsch hit another sac bunt. So here again, was Jackson on third with less than two outs. But this time, Chicago did not get him home.

In the top of the second, Jackson singled Buck Weaver to second. There wasn't a man out yet, and another Felsch bunt, saw Weaver make it to third and Jackson to second. Weaver was out at home trying to score on an infield out. Shoeless Joe was on third. But he stayed there as the third out was made.

After fanning in his next plate appearance, Jackson got his third hit of the game. It was the eighth inning, but two were out when Joe got a single. Jackson actually made it to scoring position for the third time in the game as a throwing error moved him up a bag. However, that's where he was when the inning ended. The White Sox, despite ten hits, lost the game 4-2.

In game three at home, Jackson singled to lead off the second inning. This time, he scored on a Chick Gandil single. But in his next plate appearance, Jackson was out on an attempted bunt.

The White Sox added another run and led  2-0 as Jackson got a single to lead off the sixth inning. But he was caught stealing. The last batter of the game was Buck Weaver, who batted in front of Joe. Weaver grounded out. Jackson had gone 5-7 in the last two games.

Shoeless Joe Jackson hit a double in the bottom of the second. Another sac by Felsch and two more walks loaded the bases. But again, the inning would end with Jackson but a single away from immortality!

In the next inning, Jackson batted with a runner on second and two outs. Joe should have been the third out of the inning, but he reached on another throwing error by the Reds. But Felsch grounded out, leaving runners on the corners.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jackson grounded out. In the bottom of the eighth, he fanned. The White Sox lost the game, 2-0. Chicago now trailed the best-of-nine, 3-1.

Shoeless Joe came up in the bottom of the first with two runners on and popped out. In the fourth inning, he grounded out. He grounded out again in the bottom of the seventh. Finally, he grounded out for a third time in the bottom of the ninth.

Jackson ended the game 0-4. But, to be honest with you, it was the Reds' pitcher Hod Eller who finished with a fine three-hitter. One of the more forgotten pitchers of his time, he was a tough nut to crack on the mound. Given how good of stuff he had on this day, it seems like Joe and his mates were doomed!

Now down four games to one, Shoeless Joe and his mates seemed doomed. Games six and seven (if necessary) would be in Cincinnati.

Jackson was retired in the top of the first. He went down again on a foul pop to the catcher in the fourth. The Reds charged in front 4-0 by the bottom of the frame. Chicago was looking down and out.

After the White Sox finally tallied a run in the top of the fifth, Jackson cashed in Buck Weaver with a single in the sixth. Jackson scored Chicago's third run himself. By the end of the inning, it was all tied at four!

Jackson walked in the top of the eighth, and another walk to Gandil moved him into scoring position. Chicago could not get it done here, however.

A single by Jackson on a bunt moved Buck Weaver to third in the top of the ninth. With one out, Chick Gandil cashed in Weaver with a single. Jackson took second, but was erased as Swede Risberg lined into a double-play. Chicago held on for the win, however, 5-4. Game seven was necessary, after all!

Shoeless Joe Jackson got and RBI single in the top of the first inning, and a single by Felsch moved him to second. Two on with two outs. Felsch was then forced at second. Jackson got another RBI on a single when he connected in the third to score Shano Collins. Happy Felsch then forced Jackson at second. But Chicago was up 2-0.

The White Sox put two men on for Jackson in the top of the fifth on a single and an error. Joe himself reached on an error, loading the bases for Felsch. Felsch singled to score two more and make it 4-0, Chicago. Jackson made it to third but was stranded for the third time in the game. Joe had one more at-bat and grouned out. Chicago won 4-1.

The White Sox faced Hod Eller again in game eight, but were only down four games to three. But Joe popped out to short in the bottom of the first. There were runners on second and third and only one out at the time. Neither runner would score. Chicago was behind 4-0 already.

Another run by the Reds in the top of the second made it 5-0. Again Chicago put two men on in the bottom of the frame. Again there was only one out. Again, the White Sox would strand them. This time, it was Bill James (pitching in relief of starter / thrower Lefty Williams) that was the second out and Nemo Leibold who were the last two outs of the inning. Neither of them were in on the fix. But Chicago's chances of winning this thing had begun to slip away.

Finally, Chicago had a scoreless pitching performance in an inning, the third. In the bottom of the inning, Shoeless Joe Jackson hit a home run. It was his first and only longball in the 1919 World Series. It was his only postseason home run. It was also the only home run of the 1919 Fall Classic by either team. The problem for the Sox was, it came with the bases empty. So it was still Cincy sitting pretty, 5-1.

But the Reds had no intention of letting Chicago get any closer. They got that run back in the top of the fifth and touched home three more times the next frame. It was 9-1, Cincinnati. That happened to be the final score of game one, by the way.

Buck Weaver singled to begin the bottom of the frame. Shoeless gave it quite a ride, but it was only a long, loud out. Felsch also flied out, but it was not as far as Joe hit it. Gandil then also flied out.

With runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the seventh, Bill Rariden singled to left. The Reds runner scored when Jackson's throw from left was too late. But because both runners were off on the crack of the bat, it must have been a tough play for Jackson. Not helping matters was that the runner on second, Edd Roush, was hardly slow. In 1919, Edd was third in the National League in triples. Then, in 1924, he hit 21 to lead the NL. The year before, he cracked out 41 doubles to pace the senior circuit. He was no slow-poke.

But, in any event, it was 10-1 Cincinnati. Chicago tried to come back in the bottom of the frame. Leibold flied out, but it was also a long, loud out. Eddie Collins had better luck and got a single. Buck Weaver then hit a double to right, but Collins only made it to third.

It was Jackson's time to hit a double of his own. But it was hit a little better than Weaver's, so both runners scored. 10-3. But Happy Felsch, as usual with Jackson on base, popped out. That was the second out. Chick Gandil then must have surprised everyone, including himself, by hitting a triple to score Jackson.

The inning then appeared to be over as Swede Risberg hit a fly ball to short centre. But Edd Roush, the speedster, made a crucial mistake and dropped it. Gandil scored and it was 10-5, Cincinnati. Ray Schalk then grounded out to end the inning. Chicago had scored four times but now were just three outs away from losing the 1919 World Series!

Roy Wilkinson, who had allowed two runs to score in three innings, stopped the Reds cold in the top of the ninth. Chicago came up one last time in the bottom of the frame.

Eddie Murphy (not the actor) batter for Wilkinson and was hit by Hod Eller. Leibold was retired on a long fly to centre. But Eddie Collins hit a single to move Murphy to second. Weaver also hit the ball well like Leibold, but again, it was a long, loud out. Murphy took third. Shoeless Joe batted. Collins stole second. Two men in scoring position, two outs.

Jackson grounded to second. Morrie Rath scooped it up and threw to first for the out. The Reds had the game 10-5, and the Fall Classic, five games to three.

Shoeless Joe Jackson ended the 1919 World Series 12-32, with five runs scored (tops on Chicago), six runs driven in (tops on Chicago, who had only seventeen RBIs total), three doubles (second on Chicago behind Buck Weaver) and a walk.

It is hard to say for sure what Jackson's intentions were. While he did fail in several clutch situation in the 1919 World Series, he also came through in many as well. His two best games, in terms of hard hits, were games' two, four and eight, all of which Chicago lost intentionally. He had three hits in game two, for good measure. And there, he was stranded in scoring position three times! Granted, he didn't start getting the RBIs until game six. But if you go 5-7 over two games (two and three) and end up with no RBIs, then it's more your teammates fault then yours. Also, getting one of the three hits in game four and again being stranded on second, you really have to wonder.

Wonder, many baseball fans have, for nearly 100 years!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Bob Gibson gave up the last postseason hit of Mickey Mantle's and Eddie Mathews career.

The two greats, born just a week apart (October 13th and 20th of 1931) had some interesting things in common. In addition to their birth year, they were both from the south west. Mantle from Oklahoma and Mathews from Texas. They both hit over 500 home runs. They faced off against each other in back-to-back Fall Classics in 1957-58. They both retired in 1968. They both faced Bob Gibson in games where the right-hander fanned thirteen or more batters.

Oh, as mentioned, they both got their last World Series hits off Bob Gibson. But Gibby won both of those games, too!

The Mick was having no luck in the "H" department against Hoot in the 1964 World Series. The Cards took game one, and Gibby took the hill in game two at home. Bob Gibson fanned Mickey the first time he faced him. Mantle then took strike three in the fourth. In the sixth inning, however, Mickey drew a walk and eventually scored the winning run. Gibby was out of the game by the ninth inning and didn't face Mantle again in the game, which New York won.

In game five of that Series in the Big, Bad, Bronx, Gibson fanned thirteen batters. The Mick drew a walk in his first plate appearance in the bottom of the second. A hit batter and an intentional walk and the bases were loaded with just one out. But Bob Gibson fanned Clete Boyer and Mel Stottlemyre to get out of that jam. Mantle swung and missed on a Gibby fastball in the bottom of the fourth. Hoot got The Commerce Comet again on a K in the sixth.

But Mantle made it to first on an error in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees, behind 2-0, tied the game on a two-run home run by Tommy Tresh that inning. The Cards managed to win it in the tenth.

In game seven back in St. Louis, Bob Gibson started out on the right foot by fanning Mantle in the top of the second. However, it was not an easy inning as New York loaded the bases before Gibson K'd Stottlemyre. Gibson retired Mantle on a comebacker in the top of the fourth. St. Louis took advantage of the situation by scoring three times of Stottlemyre in the bottom of the fourth and three more times off Al Downing in the bottom of the fifth. With a six-run lead, Gibby must have felt home-free!

The Yankees, however, got three of their own in the top of the sixth. Bobby Richardson hit an infield single to start the inning. Roger Maris hit a bouncer that made it through the infield minefield. Mantle hit an outside Gibson offering over Lou Brock's head in left. The ball made it to the seats and it was 6-3, St. Louis. The Mick also hit the ball hard to left in his next plate appearance in the seventh, but he got a little under it and Brock caught this one. Aided by a Ken Boyer solo shot in the bottom of the seventh, Gibson was leading 7-3 going into the top of the ninth. Solo home runs by Clete Boyer and Phil Linz made it 7-5 before Gibson got the last out. He managed not to face Mantle again. St. Louis had the 1964 World Series in seven games.

The Mick played his last season in 1968 and watched as Detroit, with Eddie Mathews, clinch the pennant. But Mathews was only a reserve on that team. For a while, he got a first-hand look at a Gibson masterpiece in game one. Eddie hadn't played in a Fall Classic game in ten years. Sure had missed a lot, eh?

Bob fanned seventeen batters in the game. Mathews pinch hit for Don Wert in the top of the eighth with Detroit behind the eight ball, 4-0. Gibson got Eddie to whiff. It was strikeout number fourteen for Bob Gibson in the game. He fanned the side in the ninth.

With St. Louis leading two games to one, Bob Gibson took the hill in game four in Detroit. Eddie Mathews was a bit of a surprise starter at third base. He batted in the seventh slot. It would prove to be Eddie's last game.

Detroit was losing 2-0 in the bottom of the second. Willie Horton led off with a walk. Then, with one out, it was Mathews with a single. But Gibson got the next two batters out, and the Tigers' one chance to tie this game had been stifled.

St. Louis kept adding to the lead, and Gibson finally gave up a run. Jim Northrup went yard on a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth, but St. Louis was up, 6-1. Eddie Mathews was the next batter and Bob Gibson got him to ground out.

In the bottom of the seventh, with Detroit still trailing 6-1, Mathews came to the plate for the last time in his major league career. There was one out and nobody on. Gibson, perhaps thinking back to the days of Eddie on the Braves, walked him. That might not have been a good move if it Bob was actually facing the Milwaukee team. Hank Aaron batted next, you see!

But Bob Gibson got Bill Freehan, the catcher, to fan. Tommy Matchick batted for Fred Lasher, the pitcher. Gibby got him on a fly ball to Curt Flood in centre. St. Louis would scored four more runs to the Tigers' zero the rest of the game.

It looked like Mathews would get one last plate appearance in this game. The Tigers had a runner on with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Northrup grounded into a game-ending double play. Mathews ended the game standing in the on-deck circle. St. Louis won it 10-1. They were up three games to one in the 1968 Fall Classic.

Mathews did not get into the remaining three games, even as a defensive replacement. Amazingly enough, the pitching of Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain brought Detroit three straight wins to steal the World Series.

Bob Gibson had also played in his last World Series in 1968. But it had been quite a run for him, as he won three games in the 1967 Fall Classic, as well. And having to face aging, but still effective, stars like Mantle and Mathews certainly cemented his reputation as a big-game pitcher, especially in the World Series.

Monday, July 21, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

When the Boston Red Sox broke The Curse Of The Bambino, the last out wore Ruth's number!

Boston went into the 2004 World Series after coming back from three games to zero in the ALCS against the Yankees. But in the Fall Classic, there was still the matter of the St. Louis Cardinals. No one would remember the comeback unless Boston won it all!

Now for the batter in question. It's Edgar Renteria. But Edgar was hardly a pushover for Boston in that tilt. In fact, even when all the other players would fail on the Cardinals, it was Edgar that seemed to come through.

In game one, Renteria made his presence felt. St. Louis fell behind early, but by the fourth they were back in the game. They trailed 7-2 going in to the inning, but right there in Boston, reality seemed to strike the Sox! #3 was still around Boston, even after 1918. Only he was on the other team!

Renteria walked with two down, but three runs in to make it a 7-5 ballgame. Larry Walker followed with a single and the tying run was now on first. Bronson Arroyo got Boston out of that sticky situation with no further damage.

But in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals would not be denied. With two down, a man on, and St. Louis still trailing 7-5, it was Edgar with a double to close the gap to a run. When Larry Walker followed with a double of his own, the game was tied! What a comeback! Right there in Boston. You know, where they are used to coming so close yet coming up short at this point?

But in the bottom of the seventh, Boston struck back with two runs of their own in this slugfest. Surely now it was over, right?

Again, Edgar would have something to say about that. In the top of the eighth with two on and one out, our boy was at the plate. He singled to left. Manny Ramirez, the Boston left fielder made an error that allowed a runner to score. When Manny made another error on Walker's fly, the game was tied again, 9-9!

The Red Sox would ultimately win the game in the bottom of the frame on a two-run home run by Mark Bellhorn. But what a wild opening act!

With the Red Sox up 6-1 in game two, Edgar led off the top of the eighth against Mike Timlin and drew a walk. With one out, Albert Pujols singled Renteria to third. A fly ball cashed him in. It was 6-2 Boston. That was all for St. Louis, however.

In game three, with Boston ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the third, Jeff Suppan, the starter, surprised everyone by hitting a leadoff single. Edgar Renteria hit a double. The go-ahead run was in scoring position against Pedro Martinez, no less! But Walker hit into a double-play, with Suppan erased at home. Pujols grounded out.

But where Renteria was needed was in the top of the ninth. Leading off with St. Louis trailing 4-0, he fanned. However, it was Larry Walker going yard next. Had Renteria been on base, the lead would have been cut in half with nobody out. Instead, it was 4-1, Boston and one out. When the next two men went down, St. Louis had lost again and trailed three games to none in the 2004 Fall Classic.

In game four, Boston shot out of the gate an lead 3-0 early. In the bottom of the fifth, with one out, Edgar hit a double. A wild pitch moved him to third. St. Louis ultimately stranded him there. The chances were slipping away for the Cards to make a Series out of this!

With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Renteria singled with two down. But the next batter, John Mabry fanned to end the inning. Boston still led, 3-0.

In the bottom of the eighth, Reggie Sanders drew a walk for St. Louis with one out. Sanders, the speedster, swiped second for good measure. But Hector Luna fanned and Larry Walker popped to short. Boston was three outs away from their first World Series triumph since 1918.

The Cards had held the Red Sox scoreless since the top of the third. But with no runs themselves in the game through eighth, St. Louis were looking at a three-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth.

But Pujols led off with a single. Scott Rolen flied out to right. Jim Edmonds fanned. Renteria was the batter. On the first pitch to him by Boston reliever Keith Foulke, Pujols took advantage of a free pass and took second without any Red Sox trying to do a thing about it.

But on the next pitch, Edgar Renteria hit a comebacker that Foulke fielder and tossed to first for the final out of the 2004 World Series. Boston had finally done it!

Renteria, #3 on St. Louis represented a lot for Boston. In addition to being the same number of Babe Ruth, he was also on the very team that beat Boston in 1946 and 1967. St. Louis would also face Boston in the 2013 World Series. This was the right team for Boston to end the curse against.

The Boston Red Sox had been oh-so-close so many times before. They lost seven game World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and finally, 1986. This was them finally getting it done. And hearing the name Babe Ruth over and over again had to make the stigma that much more painful. But when Renteria was retired at first, Red Sox fans could say, "Oh, Ruth? He wore #3. He once played for Boston. Renteria? Oh, he wore #3, was the last out when we finally got the job done back in '04!"

A fitting end to the Red Sox most memorable triumph to date!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The 2005 Fall Classic was the first to involved the White Sox that didn't have at least two shutouts!

Having been involved in two in their first World Series in 1906, then having two straight against them in 1917, things sure got interesting on this team. No one suspects Chicago of throwing the 1917 World Series, but to be no-hit in back-to-back days in the regular season and then blanked in back-to-back games in the Fall Classic is interesting. Obviously, the 1919 World Series was not on the level, but in addition to another back-to-back blanking, the Sox got a shutout in the game that proceeded that. In 1959, Chicago again lost, but both victories by them were shutouts.

So along came 2005 against the Houston Astros. Chicago hadn't been in a World Series since 1959. Hadn't won one since 1917. Their wait, at this point (88 years) was actually longer than the other Sox's 86 years!

So Chicago took the opener, 5-3 at home. But the shutout was broken early. Chicago scored in the bottom of the first on a Jermaine Dye solo home run, but Houston was back in the top of the second. Mike Lamb went yard on a solo flight of his own. Chicago came back with two more runs in the bottom of the inning against Roger Clemens to take a 3-1 lead. Houston tied it in the top of the third. Chicago tallied once in the bottom of the fourth and again in the bottom of the eighth. Houston was shutout the rest of the way.

Game two was even further away from a shutout. Chicago won this one, and it was even closer, 7-6. But Houston wasted no time in getting going. Morgan Ensberg hit a solo home run for Houston in the top of the second to break the ice. But when the White Sox scored twice on a single and fly ball in the bottom of the frame, the floodgates had only started to open. The game actually ended in dramatic fashion as Scott Podsednik hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. It, too, was a solo blast.

Houston, now at home, scored first in game three, but ultimately lost the game. Lance Berkman singled home the game's first run in the bottom of the first. Houston actually led 4-0 after four, and looked poised to get back into the 2005 Fall Classic right there. But a home run (you guessed it, solo) by Joe Crede put Chicago on the board in the top of the fifth. The White Sox scored four more times to actually take the lead. Houston didn't go away quietly. A clutch double by Jason Lane in the bottom of the eighth inning put tied the game. Then, the Astros had several chances to win it as the game went into the late stages and eventually extras, but could not get it done. Instead, it was Chicago with two touches of home in the top of the 14th inning. Chicago had to hold Houston off in the bottom of the frame, and it wasn't easy as Houston got runners to the corners before the third out.

So Chicago was now up 3-0 in the Fall Classic, but all the games had been close. In game four, it was Freddy Garcia going for Chicago and Brandon Backe for Houston. And for a while, it looked liked they'd both pitch shutouts!

The game was scoreless through seven, but in the top of the eighth, Freddy Garcia was removed for a pinch-hitter. And that batter, Willie Harris, singled. A bunt got him into scoring position with one out. Carl Everette also pinch hit, but could only ground out. Harris was now on third, but there was two outs. Jermaine Dye was the hitter. On a 1-1 pitch, he singled to centre to score Harris. Finally, a "1" on the scoreboard. Could Chicago make it count?

Cliff Politte came on to pitch, but it was a rough ride in the bottom of the eighth. Craig Biggio grounded out, but the Politte hit a batter. Then, to complicate matters, Politte threw a wild pitch. The tying run was at second with less than two outs. Chicago decided to walk Lance Berkman intentionally. Morgan Ensberg flied out and neither runner advanced. That marked the end of the game for Politte. Neal Cotts jogged in from the 'pen. Jose Vizcaino pinch hit. But Cotts got him to ground out. Chicago was three outs away from a long-awaited World Series. They were also three outs away from a shutout.

Chicago tried to get some more offence in the top of the ninth. A leadoff double was sadly stranded. It was up to the courageous Chicago bullpen to nail this thing down!

Bobby Jenks, a rookie pitcher with only six saves in the regular season but four more here in the postseason, was on the hill.

Houston did not quit. Jason Lane hit a leadoff single. Brad Ausmus, the catcher, sacrificed him to second. A single would break the shutout and tie the game. Chris Burke was sent up to pinch hit. On a 2-2 pitch, Jenks got him to pop to third. Two down and a runner on second! One more out to go for Chicago!

Orlando Palmeiro was sent to bat for relief pitcher Brad Lidge, who had given up the long run of the game. Lidge was out of there with three K's in only two innings. When Palmerio was retired on a ground ball to short, Chicago had the 2005 World Series in a sweep!

Chicago didn't exactly race through Houston. The Astros had battled hard. But it seemed that Chicago got the pitching when they needed it the most. Down the stretch in late innings, into extras. Here, they needed a shutout and got one. It must have seemed like a nice way to end eighty-eight long years of frustration. Shutouts hadn't helped Chicago one was or another in that stretch, but one shutout here did just fine! It put the icing on the cake!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Chicago White Sox got a shutout of their own in the 1919 World Series. I guess they were due by game three, right? I mean, didn't anybody care on that team, on that Fall "Classic"?

The White Sox may have given the Fall Classic of that year to the Cincinatti Reds, but not all the players were dishonest. And actually, not all the games were thrown. It helped in game three that Dickie Kerr, not Claude Williams or Eddie Cicotte, was pitching this crucial tilt. Williams and Cicotte were clearly in on the fix, but Kerr was not. The White Sox were down 2-0 after two games. It was going to be best-of-nine, but to fall behind 3-0 would have meant Chicago needed to go 5-1 in the rest of this tainted Series to pull it off. You think the odds are against Cincy or Chicago at this point? I wonder what people who had gambled on Chicago winning were thinking at this point?

So Kerr took the hill in game three. But Ray Fisher was going for Cincinnati and was no slouch. 14-5 with a 2.17 ERA for the Reds in 1919, he was looking to put Chicago down again!

So Kerr had a 1-2-3 top of the first for Chicago, but Fisher had a 1-2-3 of his own in the bottom of the frame. Kerr allowed a single in the top of the second, but got out of there with the shutout intact. Fisher was not so lucky in the bottom of the inning.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, with three hits in game two, led off with a single here. But this time, Chicago did not strand him. Joe, who scored a run in game one, but had been stranded three times in game two (twice at third and once at second) would get around! Happy Felsch hit a comebacker to Fisher, but his throw to second was wild. Jackson made it all the way to third and Felsch pulled up at second. Chick Gandil, one of the main men in the scandal, then stroked a single to left, which scored Jackson. Felsch roared in behind him for good measure. On the throw home to try and nail Felsch, Gandil made it to second. 2-0, Chicago. They then looked like they were ready for more, only the guys trying screwed up badly.

Swede Risberg, the fourth straight suspected or proven fixer of the inning for Chicago, drew a walk. With two on and nobody out, plus two runs already in, things must have been looking up for Chicago. But it was not to be!

Ray Schalk, who had been mad at his teammates efforts, forced Gandil at third as Fisher got the throw on the money this time. Dickie Kerr then hit it to his mound adversary, who again made the play at third. Did Chicago suspect Fisher of throwing the game? He had already made three fielding plays in the inning. Odd for a pitcher. Nemo Leibold grounded out to third and the inning was over.

Kerr returned to his duties with a slim lead in the top of the third. With one out, Ray Fisher showed him how a pitcher hits by reaching first on a single hit right back to Kerr. But Dickie settled down and got the next two batters out.

Chicago went looking for more in the bottom of the third. Eddie Collins started it with a single. Then it was time for Buck Weaver with one of his own. Weaver was one of two suspected (but not proven) fixers, the other being Shoeless Joe. Speaking of which, guess who was now at the dish with two on and nobody out?

Jackson tried to bunt, but all he could do was pop to third. And then Felsch, perhaps resorting back to his throwing the Series ways, hit into an inning-ending double play!

Heinie Groh got Cincinatti out on the right foot by drawing Kerr's first walk of the afternoon in the fourth. Edd Roush grounded out, with Groh making it to second. But then Pat Duncan hit a line drive that Swede Risberg made the catch on. Roush had taken off, and Swede threw to second for the putout and the double-play!

Gandil also went back to his losing ways with a groundout to start the bottom of the frame. But Risberg, seemingly doing it all, hit a triple! When Schalk got a hit on a bunt (Fisher perhaps not getting to it?), Swede scored to make it a 3-0 lead. Schalk though, tried to steal and was gunned out. Kerr ended the inning by grounding out.

In the top of the fifth, it was Larry Koft getting a single for the Reds. But the next three Cincinatti batters failed to get the ball out of the infield, and the inning was over.

But Fisher stayed right in there by getting all three batters in the bottom of the frame to ground out. The last two batters were retired when Ray made the play to first. So much for any strategy that Chicago may have had with that, eh?

Kerr got two of the three batters to ground out in the top of the sixth. Jake Daubert, the second batter, lined out to Jackson.

Joe himself started the bottom of the sixth inning by hitting a single. But with Felsch up to the dish, Jackson's wheels let him down. As with Ray Schalk earlier, Joe tried for a steal of second and was thrown out. Felsch drew a walk. But then Felsch himself was gunned out at second. Chicago was now 0-3 in steal attempts for the game. And it wasn't just the suspected or proven fixers getting nailed. Gandil fanned and a potentially huge inning was over without a batter reaching second base!

Dickie Kerr got Edd Roush to pop out to Chick Gandil at first in the top of the seventh. Pat Duncan fanned for the second out. Larry Koft flied out to Nemo Leibold in right.

Ray Fisher was finding his range however. Risberg grounded out to third, as did Schalk. When Kerr himself grounded out to second, the bottom of the seventh inning was over.

But Kerr still had it! Greasy Neale went down on strike three. It was Dickie's third of the day! Billy Rariden grounded out. Sherry Magee batted for Fisher and was out on a fly to Leibold.

Dolph Luque came in to pitch for Cincinatti in the bottom of the ninth. Leibold fanned. Collins grounded to first and Luque made the putout himself after taking the throw from Jake Daubert. Buck Weaver, hitting with Jackson right behind him, grounded out to end that.

Rath grounded out as Cincinatti came to the plate one last time. Daubert fanned for Kerr's fourth K in 8 2/3 innings. Now, all that separated Chicago from their first win in the 1919 World Series was Heinie Groh. He hit a grounder to Buck Weaver at third and the Reds were done. Chicago had it, 3-0. Dickie Kerr had a shutout!

The White Sox may not have given it all the got in the 1919 World Series, and even here in game three Chicago made some dumb mistakes. But with Kerr pitching so well and Jackson and Gandil providing some clutch hits, they at least avoided the sweep!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tony Cloninger: The Pitcher's Grand Day At The Dish

...But not quite so grand on the hill. You do get a little back on what you dish out, right?

So pitcher Madison Bumgarner slammed his second grand slam on the season, becoming the first pitcher since Tony Cloninger to do that. Cloninger has Madison beaten on that one, however. His came a lot quicker!

Taking the hill for the Atlanta Braves on July 3, 1966, Tony was just a game over .500 (8-7). But his hitting on this day was outstanding! Basically, he did enough to earn his ninth win on the season. Who would have thought his hitting was miles ahead of his pitching on this day? Not that his pitching was that bad!

The San Francisco Giants found out that there was more to Cloninger than his bat. Joe Gibbon started the game for the Giants, but it was apparent from the get-go that the Braves were a little too strong.

Gibbon managed to get two outs with just one man on in the top of the first. The second out was that of the great home run hitter Hank Aaron, who hit into a force play at second. So Gibby had nothing to worry about as far as the long ball went, right? Wrong. Rico Carty then singled. Joe Torre followed that with a three-run home run, which put Atlanta ahead to stay.

Gibbon, shaken, gave up two more singles before departing. Both of these runners would also score via the home run. But it would come from an unlikely source. Bob Briddy walked the next batter and it was bases loaded. There were two outs and Tony Cloninger, the pitcher, was the next hitter.

And Tony surprised everyone by hitting a grand slam. That made the the score 7-0 for the Braves. Felipe Alou, who started the inning with an out, ended it by being retired again. But Atlanta didn't need anything more from him. They would sure get more, though.

Carty blasted a home run in the top of the second, as the game was hopelessly lost by the Giants, now. But Atlanta kept coming at them at full speed!

In the top of the fourth, with another run in, it was Ray Sadecki who was now on the hill for the Giants. The former Cardinal, who started games one and four of the 1964 World Series, soon loaded the bases. Cloninger to the dish again. Cloninger out of the park again! 13-0, Atlanta! No mercy!

San Fran actually managed to score a run in the bottom of the frame. In the top of the fifth inning, a guy you'd expect to go deep, did just that for Atlanta. Funny, at this point, Tony Cloninger had more two more home runs in this game by himself, then Hank Aaron and Willie Mays did! And they were both grand slams! What was going on?

Aaron brought back some semblance of order by hitting a home run to make it a 14-1 Atlanta lead. But neither Cloninger nor Atlanta was done in the scoring department. San Francisco also had some long ball magic up their sleeve!

In the bottom of the frame, up stepped the shaken Sadecki, who must have felt worse then he did in game four of the 1964 World Series. There, he got just one batter out and gave up four hits and three runs. His team managed to come back and win that game, but there would be no comeback here.

In any event though, he smacked a home run of his own in the bottom of the fifth. The trouble was, it was leading off the inning, so it was a solo job. 14-2. One run back. But guess who knocked in the Braves' fifteenth run of the game?

Cloninger came up in the top of the eighth inning with shortstop Woody Woodward on second. Believe me, San Francisco wasn't knocking on wood. Cloninger was back up to the dish. So scared was Sadecki that he threw a wild pitch. Cloninger, with one out, singled Woody home to make it 15-2. That's nine RBIs on the day for Cloninger! Oh, and two grand slams, don't forget!

But Tom Haller went yard for the Giants in the bottom of the frame. However, once again it was leading off the inning, so only one run scored. Cloninger had now allowed two home runs and hit two grand slams himself!

Atlanta scored twice more off Ray Sadecki in the top of the ninth to make it a 17-3 final. Cloninger never got back to the plate. Not that he needed to! He ended the day 3-5. But Tony sure had helped his own cause, right?

Two grand slams and nine RBIs by a pitcher in the same game. 48 years later, what Madison did might end up being the closest we ever get to seeing it again!

World Series: Did You Know?

Ken Boyer drove in the first and last run for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1964 World Series. Kenny was the MVP of the National League that season, not to mention the national league leader in RBIs! He had his ups and downs in the World Series, but when the Cards needed him the most, he seemed to deliver. The New York Yankees had Boyer's younger brother Clete. But Clete was more of a fielder than a hitter. So in the Fall Classic of 1964, Ken would have to upstage his brother's amazing glove hands!

In game one, against Whitey Ford, the Cardinals wasted no time. Curt Flood led off the bottom of the first by grounding out. But Lou Brock, who the Cards had acquired earlier that season from the Cubs, singled. When Dick Groat followed with a single, the speedy Brock was now on third. It's the Boy(er)'s time to shine!

Ken sent a fly to right that Mickey Mantle caught. Brock tagged and scored. St. Louis had that all-important first run. The Yankees would erase it quickly and actually took a 4-2 lead at one point. So things didn't exactly go smoothly for the Cards, even in a game they would eventually win by four runs.

Boyer added a single in the bottom of the sixth. A one-out home run by Mike Shannon tied the game. When Tim McCarver followed with a double to right, Ford was gone from the game. The Cardinals won the game 9-5. Boyer and his 'mates had sent a message to the Yankees: Let's see what you got?

But New York more than answered the bell the rest of the Series. Ken seemed mired in a dreadful slump. He failed to get a hit in the next two games, and New York won them both. Game two was 8-3 and game three was 2-1. That meant the Yankees were up in games, 2-1, as well!

In game four, the Bronx Bombers charged out of the gate, taking a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Boyer and his mates struggled mightily against Al Downing on this day, getting just a hit and a walk through five innings.

In the top of the sixth inning, Carl Warwick batted for pitcher Roger Craig and got a single. Flood also singled, but Brock flew out. When Groat sent a roller towards Bobby Richardson at second, it looked like the end of a promising inning. Richardson had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, and threw wide to Phil Linz, the shortstop covering second base. The bases were loaded with one out. On a 1-0 pitch from Downing, Boyer swatted a changeup into the left field stands for a grand slam. But it was fair by only about five or six feet. St. Louis had the lead, 4-3, and they would win the game by that score. The Series was even.

But that would prove to be Ken's only hit of game four. That made Ken's production 2-15 through four games.

In game five, Kenny's problems continued as he failed to get a hit until the game went to extra innings. The score was tied 2-2. Trying to bunt with Bill White aboard and no outs in the top of the tenth, Ken beat it out. But then Dick Groat erased him at second with a force. Fortunately, Tim McCarver hit a three-run home run off Pete Mikkelsen to win the game for St. Louis. It also put the Cards back out in front in the Fall Classic, three games to two.

In game six, the Yankees sent Jim Bouton to the hill. Although he won game three, the Cardinals had him on the ropes this time around, all game long. Alas, St. Louis could not get the man home when they really needed it. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle went back-to-back to turn a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 Yankee lead. All in a New York minute! Then five more runs in the top of the eighth salted away a 8-3 Yankee win. Ken Boyer was 0-4. New York had tied the 1964 World Series again. It was on to the winner-take-all game seven.

And Ken Boyer came through. Times three!

His single in the bottom of the fourth started a three-run rally. His double the next frame helped St. Louis score three more times. The Yankees' though, had plenty of bite left in them. In the top of the sixth, it was time for New York to put a "3" on the scoreboard! And it was against Bob Gibson, no less.

Bobby Richardson hit a roller to Ken Boyer at third. Kenny's throw was too late. A Maris single and a Mantle home run and it was suddenly only 6-3, St. Louis. Gibson looked like he was starting to tire. Gibby was pitching on only two day's rest! The Yankees kept hitting the ball hard on him the rest of the game, too! Can't count on the Yankees to roll over and die in game seven.

So Boyer was needed again in the bottom of the seventh. He put St. Louis up by four runs with a solo home run off Steve Hamilton. 7-3, St. Louis! The Cardinals needed this one, too!

Ahead by four, and needing just three more outs to win, Hoot started to falter. Gibson got Tom Tresh on strikes to start the top of the ninth, but then Clete showed his brother that he had the big stick, too! Taking Gibson out of the park on a solo job of his own, it was now 7-4. Bob Gibson fanned pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard, but Phil Linz got into the home run trot, for good measure! Phil's solo shot made it 7-5, St. Louis. See how important Ken's home run back a few innings was?

Bob Gibson settled down and got Bobby Richardson to pop out and end a very entertaining 1964 Fall Classic.

Ken would never be this good again. After the 1965 season, he was traded to the New York Mets. From there, Boyer landed in Chicago (AL) and Los Angeles before his career ended in 1969. So his heroics here would be his only World Series exposure. But the Cards' 1964 triumph, now approaching fifty years on this October, would not have been delivered without him.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Urban Shocker, one of baseball's saddest stories, did not get to pitch in the 1927 World Series for the Yankees. It didn't seem to matter, as New York needed just four games to take the Fall Classic from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Shocker had always been good for the Yankees. Amazingly enough, in between his Yankee stints (1916-17, 1925-1928) he pitched for the St. Louis Browns. All he did was win pretty much every time he took the mound. Pitching for the Browns in 1921, he even led the league in wins with 27. That was rare for a Brown hurler. But Urban was one of those rare pitchers that didn't need a good team behind him to win. Too bad, in baseball's greatest time of the year, for it's greatest (to that point) team ever seen, Urban wasn't allowed to pitch. Given his track record, one wonders!

He never had a losing season, going 12-12 in 1925, on a sub .500 season for the Yankees. His World Series moment arrived in 1926 as he took the loss in game two to the St. Louis Cardinals. Urban got into game six and allowed a pair of unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning. New York lost in seven games. But New York has a habit of bouncing back from heartbreaking (see 1960) World Series losses with both barrels the next season!

But in 1927, Urban himself seemed prime to lead the Yankees back to the promised land. Waite Hoyt ended up leading the New York starting pitchers in wins (22), W% (.759) and ERA (2.63). But Shocker was right there with 18 wins, a .750 winning percentage, and 2.84 ERA.

The 1927 World Series looked like a mismatch on paper. The Yankees had the pitching outside Hoyt and Shocker. Plus they had the hitting outside of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Up and down the lineup, there was hitting. Up and down the hurlers, there was pitching. Pittsburgh, winners of the first World Series in 1903, and as recently as 1925, must have realized this was one Fall Classic they were thoroughly over-matched in.

But in game one on the road, the Yankees seemed to be unable to shake the Pirates. Oh, New York would score a run, or three, but Pittsburgh would come right back. The teams traded single tallies in the first and fifth, plus Pittsburgh scored a run to New York's zero in the eighth. The moment of truth came in the third, as the Yankees touched home three times to the Pirates' one. That helped make the final score, 5-4, Bronx Bombers. But it was Pittsburgh with nine hits to New York's six. Hoyt was the winner. But he must have hardly been impressed. The Big Ace looked like a fourth starter. Urban Shocker would have been a better choice, right?

The Yankees, too, must not have been impressed with Hoyt's performance. They sent George Pipgras to the hill to start game two. He looked more like a fourth starter in the regular season (10-3, but with a 4.11 ERA). Were the Yankees sending a message to Hoyt? "Here, watch as we send a pitcher out that will do better than you!" But it looked like Shocker was coming in. Manager Miller Huggins informed Urban that when George was out, he was in! It should have been in no time, given what New York saw of Hoyt in game one and George from April to September!

And, as in game one, it was the Pirates that notched a single tally in the bottom of the first. Well, well...well! This time, the Yankees failed to score in their half. Alas, as in game one, the Yankees tallied three times in the top of the third. Unlike game one, the Pirates failed to score in the bottom of the frame. It was 3-1, Yankees.

Pipgras gave up a single in the bottom of the second, a single in the bottom of the third. In the fourth, it was Pie Traynor with a double. But George got the Yankees out of these problems without a single tally by Pittsburgh. A 1-2-3 fifth inning gave George a much needed boost of confidence. In the sixth, he allowed Paul Waner to single with one out. But again, no damage done.

The Yankees seemed to struggle against Vic Aldridge all game long, save for two innings. With a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth, it was time for the third inning all over again. New York scored three times again to put this game out of reach. But this time, Ruth and Gehrig didn't contribute. Actually, in the third Ruth hit a sac fly and Gehrig doubled. So I had better mention that both contributed to the three runs. Here, they were the last two outs of the inning, and nothing more. But with a 6-1 lead, the two legends of the game were not needed any more.

However, Paul Waner drove in his brother Lloyd with a sac fly of his own in the bottom of the inning. Shocker's time to show soon? No, as Pipgras got out of the inning and then retired Pittsburgh 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. With a 6-2 win, New York was up two games to none in the 1927 World Series. They promply won the next two games at home to complete the sweep. Urban Shocker had his first World Series ring.

But, he had not pitched. And his health was failing. Heart trouble forced him to sleep standing up, although it was one of baseball's best kept secret. He lost weight in the offseason. But he returned to pitch one more game the following season, before his career came to a close. Later, on September 9th, 1928, Urban Shocker passed away at the age of 37.

The Yankees have had their share of tragedies over the years. From Urban Shocker to Lou Gehrig to Thurman Munson. Unlike those two, Shocker is not remembered very well. Even in one of his finest seasons, he was not around on the hill when the Yankees put the finishing touches on one of their finest seasons ever. That's probably got a lot to do with it. You need to be there when you put the icing on the cake.

But Urban was there with them in the regular season. Who knows what it would have meant for him to be on the hill with one of the greatest teams of all time behind him in October? We'll never know.

Friday, July 11, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Dizzy Dean's last Fall Classic start was not with the St. Louis Cardinals. He had one last start with the Chicago Cubs in 1938. For a while, he looked like the Dean of old. And it was against the Yankees, no less. Then reality set in.

Diz, one of baseball's finest pitchers of the 1930s, was hurt in the 1937 All-Star game. From here, he just wasn't the same old Dizzy. His finished that season with a record of only 13-10. Traded to Chicago, he went only 7-1. But that was in only 13 games (10 starts). Plus, Diz posted an ERA of 1.81. The Cubs needed him, as it turns out. They won the pennant in dramatic fashion against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dean was on his way to another Fall Classic, and the Cubs were looking for their first win since 1908. Thirty years!

The Yankees looked too strong. In game one, it was the Bronx Bombers that came out on top, 3-1. But, although a close game, New York had 12 hits. Chicago was going to have to find a way to stop their big bats. So they sent Dizzy to the hill in game two.

Although 28, Dean was something of a veteran at this point. The Cubs were no doubt hoping that would give them some sort of an edge in the second tilt. And through seven innings, Dizzy Dean sure did!

The Cubs, at home, got a run in the bottom of the first. Stan Hack, one of the best leadoff hitters of his time, got it all going with a single off  Yankee starter Lefty Gomez. Following a strikeout and another single, the swift Hack was on third with less than two outs. Joe Marty got 'em home with a sac fly.

The Yankees were quick to come back, however. Joe DiMaggio led off the top of the second with a single. When Lou Gehrig walked, reality was setting in, soon enough. Dizzy had never seen such an offensive arsenal before.

He settled down and got the next two batters out. But when Joe Gordon hit a double, the two Hall Of Famers crossed home. Just like that, New York was ahead, 2-1.

In the bottom of the third, the Cubs went on the attack again. And once again, it was Stan Hack that ignited the offence. Leading off with a single, he was sending a message that Chicago also had some big guns!

Billy Herman followed with a single of his own to send Hack to second. A sac bunt moved both runners over. Joe Marty was back at the dish. As he had in the bottom of the first, Joe got Hack home. But this time, he got a double, meaning that Herman also crossed the plate. It was 3-2, Chicago. The Cubs even got another runner on before Gomez got out of there. But Dizzy was rolling back the clock on this day. Back to the glory days of him with the St. Louis Cardinals.

A Gehrig single in the top of the fourth was erased by a double-play. Dizzy Dean then got New York 1-2-3 in the next inning. Gomez also held on though, and the score did not change.

Dean had another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth, but Gomez allowed only one Cub to reach via an error. In the top of the seventh, Dizzy got DiMaggio, Gehrig and Bill Dickey out in order. Three Hall Of Famers retired by a Hall Of Famer!

Dean himself then got into the act on offence. He led off the bottom of the frame with a single. Hack swung and missed for strike three this time. Billy Herman looked at strike three. Dean was then picked off first, ending the inning.

In the top of the eighth, George Selkirk, the Canadian, singled. Gordon forced George at second, so Dean and his mates were five outs away from leveling the 1938 Fall Classic. Pinch hitter Myril Hoag was sent to the dish to bat for Gomez. Dizzy Dean got him to force Gordon at second. Dean seemed safe.

But Frank Crosetti, the Crow, launched a home run to left. Just like that, the Bronx Bombers had the lead again for the first time since top of the second, 4-3. New York would not look back, this time.

Johnny Murphy, the Yankees relief ace, retired Chicago in order in the bottom of the inning.

The top of the ninth saw Tommy Henrich lead off with a single. DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper himself, ended Dean's day with a home run of his own to make it 6-3. Larry French took over for Dean and got Chicago out of there. The Cubs actually put two runners on in the bottom of the ninth. Stan Hack, always dangerous and representing the tying run, lined out to end it.

Dean had his last World Series start go into the record book as having allowed six earned runs in only eight innings pitched. A tough way to lose, nonetheless, as he and the Cubs were so close!

It's always fun to see someone recapture his old glory. Just last week, I saw Roger Federer, the great tennis player, get his greatness back and come so close to another huge win. But it was not to be.

Dean was sort of in the same boat here. Up against his toughest challenge yet in the Fall Classic, and past his prime, he sure had the Yankees going through 7 2/3 innings. Dizzy may have been eccentric, arrogant, and many other things. But one thing Dizzy Dean was, above all else, was a character. Being with the Cubs that year must have made them think they were going to win the pennant, from day one. And having Dizzy there in October must have convinced them that the mighty Yankees could be brought down. Yeah, it may have been all a bluff on the Cubs' and Dizzy's part. But what a bluff it was!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

All three of the of the Chicago White Sox hits in game five of the 1919 World Series were from suspected or proven fixers!

It was a close game, that Chicago lost 2-0. Amazing to think, the last three guys you'd think would have stopped the no-hit bid by Cincinnati, did just that! The guys not trying to lose couldn't do much right this game!

Eddie Cicotte was also trying to lose and was the Chicago White Sox starting pitcher. Jimmy Ring started for the Cincinnati Reds. But Cicotte seemed to also be trying, at least for a while. The first batter Cicotte faced (and the first batter of the game) hit a single, but a double-play ended that. A 1-2-3 second seemed to settle Eddie down. How about his 'mates? The dishonest ones?

They went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first. But Shoeless Joe hit a double to lead off the bottom of the second and went to third on Happy Felsch's sac bunt. Chicago did not get Joe home, but did everything except that! Two walks (including one to Swede Risberg, another fixer) loaded the bases. But nothing got home!

Cicotte made sure Chicago lost this one by making two errors in the top of the fifth as Cincy broke open a scoreless game. With two runs, the Reds had more than they would need. Jimmy Ring was working on a one-hitter at this point.

Cicotte had a 1-2-3 sixth, but Ring did not have it so easy. Joe Jackson grounded out, but Felsch gave it a ride to left before he was retired. But then Chick Gandil, in on it, singled. Risberg was out on a fly.

In the top of the seventh, Eddie had another 1-2-3 inning. Ring, for his half, hit the leadoff batter Ray Schalk. Schalk was not in on the fix, watched from first as the next three men went down.

In the eighth, the Reds got a one out single by catcher Ivey Wingo. Wingo had been gunned down earlier by his counterpart behind the dish, Schalk, on an attempted steal earlier in the game. Jimmy Ring, Eddie Cicotte's counterpart on the mound, hit a comebacker. Cicotte grabbed it, tossed to shortstop Risberg at second for the force. Swede then tossed it over to Gandil at first to complete the twin killing. The three fixers sure made an honest effort there! But what hadn't happened was a score or two by Chicago!

Buck Weaver popped out to start the bottom of the eighth and then Jackson fanned. I thought these guys were trying! Felsch singled, though, to keep the inning alive. Gandil fanned to end it.

Cicotte had a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth to finish with a fine five-hitter. Except for his own self-induced stupidity in the top of the fifth inning, he had been flawless. And with a 4-1 win in game seven, he would even win a game in this tainted Fall Classic. Eddie may have been feeling some remorse at this point.

The White Sox got another baserunner on in the bottom of the ninth as Schalk walked again. But they failed to score and did not get a hit in their last at-bats. Cincinnati had won game five of the 1919 World Series, 2-0.

The Chicago White Sox team had come out flat on this day, namely on offence. And yes, the game was thrown. But there is something to be said when your pitcher produces a fine effort (even if it wasn't his best effort, intentionally) and the guys who provide the offence aren't there, you deserve to lose. There will be debate until the end of time as to Shoeless Joe Jackson's involvement (personally, with three hits in game two, a hit in this game, plus two more in game eighth, it's reasonable to think he was trying in the games the Sox lost) and Buck Weaver's as well. With the six other players involved, there is little doubt. But here in this game five, it's something else. The White Sox, as a team, should have pointed to everyone on the field and laid the blame on a total lack of team effort!