Wednesday, December 17, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Charlie Keller became the first rookie to hit two home runs in one game. Back in 1939, in game three of the Yankees' four game sweep of Cincinnati.

Even in a sweep, there is often problems for the winning side. A narrow 2-1 win by New York in game featured a triple and a run scored for Charlie. But this thing was too close for comfort. Game two ended four to zero for New York, but oddly enough, three of the four runs scored in the bottom of the third. It Keller with a double to score a run. And when Bill Dickey hit a single later, Charlie was brought home.

But it's game three we are talking about here, eh? And our boy wasn't about to let the hometown Reds make any game of this. With one on and one out in the top of the first, Keller took the crowd out of the equation with a two-run home run. That put New York up 2-0. The Bronx Bombers weren't about to stop there, either! Cincinatti, though, had some moments to put some doubt into this one.

The Reds actually got a run back in the bottom of the frame, then really got the crowd going with two more in the bottom of the second. 3-2, Cincy. Things were looking all red! But Keller and his mates weren't about to go quietly. The top of the second saw a home run, not by Keller but by The Yankee Clipper himself, Joe DiMaggio. But guess who drew a walk earlier? Charlie Keller! Just like that, this see-saw affair had the Yankees ahead to stay. But it was Charlie who applied the finishing touches!

Frank Crosetti grounded out to start the top of the fifth for New York. But then Red Rolfe got a single. In to the batter's box stepped Charlie Keller. And for the third straight plate appearance of this game, he scored a run. Well, of course he did, because he also knocked in a run. With a home run, too! It was 6-3, New York, and this thing was getting ugly.

A home run later that inning by DiMaggio pretty much added an exclamation mark on a dandy of a day. But Charlie had put New York ahead, scored the tying run, and added two deadly insurance runs on this day. All this as a rookie. He had made quite an impression on his teammates and the Cincinatti Reds. A win in game four ended this thing almost in heartbeat.

The New York Yankees of the time were that good. It was past the Ruth and Gehrig days at this point, but the Bombers continued to find a way to win. New guys would come in, like DiMaggio in '36, and Keller in '39, and next thing you know, it was October. It was just like that for New York. The regular season, then the postseason. A rookie meant a lot of growing up in a very short time. The Yankees had to be ready in the Fall Classic. Keller in '39, was just that. Ready for the big blow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Dave Winfield got the Jays last hit off John Smoltz in games two and five of the 1992 Fall Classic. The visiting Toronto team had put Winfield in the lineup in right, despite no DH. The Atlanta Braves had waited one year to avenge their 1991 World Series loss, and had a bright, young pitching staff that included a right-hander with some good stuff, but who sometimes got a little wild. It was a little different for Dave Winfield.

Winfield, who'd waited a long time (11 seasons) to get back to the Fall Classic after 1981, had seen his Toronto team lose the opener, 3-1 to Tom Glavine. Things didn't get any better in game two, as John Smoltz made Winfield one of the five K's he got in the first two innings. The Atlanta team must have thought it would be another victory with that kind of start from their ace rightly!

Dave grounded out in the top of the fourth, that sent Roberto Alomar to third with two outs. But when Alomar tried to score on a pitch that Smoltz threw into the dirt, Robbie was out. The Jays didn't think it was the right call and replays showed Alomar was save at home.

Toronto, down 1-0 at that top, fell further behind in the bottom of the frame. A walk to Pat Borders, a single by Manny Lee and a single by pitcher David Cone made it a 2-1 ballgame in the top of the fifth. A chopped by Devon White squared things.

Atlanta though, got the lead back in the bottom of the frame. Actually, they tallied twice to chase Cone. Winfield gave it a ride the next time out, but it was an out to centre. But in the top of the eighth, with the Jays down two runs still, it was a single by Winfield to left that scored Alomar this time. It cut the lead to 4-3 and Toronto went on to win the game, 5-4.

Toronto came back home and won games three and four. With another game at home, the Jays looked poised to wrap this thing up. But Smoltz was back on the hill for Atlanta.

It was an odd game for him. At times, he looked like he had it all, and then the next inning it seemed to unravel. He got the Jays 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first. Better still, Atlanta had scored the first run. In the bottom of the second, Smoltz got Winfield to fly out, but then seemed to come undone as John Olerud singled, Cany Maldonado walked. A K of Kelly Gruber for the second out was followed by a booming double to left by Pat Borders. The game was tied.

In the bottom of the third, Alomar drew a one-out walk. But Smoltz, get this, needed just two pitches to get Joe Carter out. Two down. Then, John needed just two more pitches to get Winfield to force Alomar at second.

The Atlanta Braves regained the lead on a Dave Justice solo home run in the top of the fourth, but Toronto came right back at them in the bottom of the frame. Just like in the bottom of the second, it was Olerud with a single, Maldonado with a walk, and Borders with a hit to tie it. 2-2, after four.

Atlanta turned one the jets in the top of the frame. A single by Otis Nixon, started a rally. All of this with two outs. Nixon stole second, and Deion Sanders drove him home to make it 3-2, Atlanta. A double, an intentional walk and a grand slam by Lonnie Smith made it a 7-2 Atlanta lead. Smoltz finally had a nice cushion to work with.

He went back to the hill in the bottom of the frame with renewed energy. He got Alomar and Carter out on fly balls. But Winfield then stroked a single to centre. Olerud then gave Smoltz all he could handle before finally flying out to left. A 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth seemed to permanently restore Smoltz's stuff.

But he was now up to 109 pitches. And when the first batter of the bottom of the seventh, Manny Lee, walked, John Smoltz was through for the night. But Atlanta had forced a game six, as they went on to win, 7-2.

Smotlz wasn't quite in his prime yet, as both game two and five of this series seemed to show his wildness. But he'd gone 15-12 with an ERA of 2.85. And he'd pitched well for the most part in his two Fall Classic starts. At just 25, it was obvious this pitcher had a bright future. Winfield, a spry 41 years young at the time, was a little past it, but had driven in 108 runs that year.

Smoltz would pitch again in the World Series. Winfield, though, would not. He was left off Cleveland's 1995 post-season roster, in a move that seemed so cruel.

The Fall Classic is full of stories of players just getting started, saying "Hi" to the baseball world, like John Smoltz. But it can also have players saying "Goodbye" as part of their "Last Hurrahs" in baseball. The World Series, which seems like the grandest stage in baseball, is an event for young boys and old men, on and off the diamond.

Friday, December 12, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Sandy Koufax actually had the highest ERA of any Dodger pitcher in the 1963 Fall Classic. But wait a minute, wasn't he their best pitcher that World Series? Of course he was. But Johnny Podres and Don Drysdale were good, too, you know. Also pretty good, was Los Angeles' relief ace!

Sandy was just dandy in the opening act. The Dodgers took on the New York Yankees right there in New York in the first game, but Koufax didn't let the bats, aura or anything else about The Bronx Bombers get to him. Ahead 5-0, early, he didn't allow a hit until the bottom of the fifth. Not until there were two down in the bottom of the eight did New York finally get two runs on a two-run home run by Tommy Tresh. But that was all the great Yankees could get. Sandy had his ERA at 2.00, but along with that, he also had a win and 15 strikeouts.

Johnny Podres took the hill in game two and the Dodgers stakes him to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first. The Dodgers were blanked themselves for the next two inning before former Yankee Moose Skowron went yard on a solo job to make it 3-0. Podres did his part to keep New York out of the equation with some crafty stuff. A fourth run in the top of the eighth made it 4-0 and the only question left was could Podres get the shutout. Seems so odd that Koufax was sooooo good in the opening tilt, and Podres was closing in on a shutout in the next game.

Mickey Mantle came to the dish. The Mick had been hitting it hard against Podres all game long, but with nothing to show for it. Here, again, he hit it well. But it was just a long, loud out to left. But Hector Lopez, who had lashed a double off Podres earlier, did it again here. It was time for Podres to hit the shower.

Enter Ron Perranoski. You see, with guys like Koufax, Drysdale and Podres, too, Ron isn't exactly a household name. But the lefty relief ace had gone 16-3 with 21 saves and low era of 1.67.

But Elston Howard greeted him by going the other way on a single to right. Lopez trotted home, and it was a 4-1 ballgame. Joe Pepitone was the next hitter, a left-hander and more to Perranoski's liking. Pepi would not have liked the results, as he hit into a force at second. When Clete Boyer fanned, this thing was in the books. Perranoski was credited with a save (not by today's standards) and Podres got the win and an ERA of 1.08. Hey! That's less than Sandy's!

Don Drysdale was the next pitcher for Los Angels as the teams headed west. The Dodgers looked for the sweep and Drysdale got them one step closer to that with a 1-0 win over young Jim Bouton. It was a well-pitched game, as the two teams combined for just seven hits. But Drysdale gave up just three. Two of them were to Tony Kubek and another to Mickey Mantle on a bunt that popped up and made it to centre. Bouton threw a wild pitch in the first, and the Dodgers took advantage of that and a bad hop on a grounder to Bobby Richardson at second to score the game's only run. In the bottom of the second, Bouton threw another wild pitch, and the Dodgers threatened to score, but didn't. Drysdale had gotten out of a bases loaded jam of his own in the top of the frame.

Bouton seemed to settle down after that. Drysdale did, too. But it was the Yankees who needed some nice defence to stop Los Angeles from there. The Dodgers had runners on second and third in bottom of the second. A grounder to first got the second out, and when Dick Tracewski tried to score on that, the Yankees got him at home. But that was it for Bouton. Removed for a pinch hitter, he was done, but had kept New York in this thing. Hal Reniff gave up a leadoff walk to Jim Gilliam in the bottom of the eighth. Gilliam made it to second on a grounder. But when he foolishly tried to steal third, catcher Elston Howard nailed him. Tommy Davis took a rip at Reniff's pitch with two strikes on him and misses.

New York almost took advantage of all this in the top of the ninth. Mickey Mantle and Tommy Tresh were retired, but Pepitone got a hold of one and sent one that looked like it was out of here. Ron Fairly made the catch on the warning track. Drysdale had the shutout and Los Angels was up three games to none in the 1963 Fall Classic.

Koufax was back to put the Yankees away in game four. But Whitey Ford was on the hill to oppose him. Frank Howard got a single off him in the bottom of the second. Then the Yankees got a double play to end the inning. Howard then hit a home run in his next plate appearance in the bottom of the fifth. Other then that, Ford had a no-hitter. Maury Wills had walked to start this game, but was also erased via the double play.

Koufax, though, seemed even better as he retired the first ten batters. Not quite getting the K's. But getting the men out. Bobby Richardson hit a double in the top of the fourth, but was stranded. So he had to make Howard's home run stand up. He did just that, but Mantle hit a four-bagger of his own to tie it in the top of the seventh.

The Dodgers got it back on an odd play in the bottom of the frame. Jim Gilliam hit a grounder to third that Clete Boyer made a nice stop on. But the white shirts in the background made Joe Pepitone lose vision of the ball in flight. The missed throw resulted in Gilliam ending up on third. Willie Davis hit a sac fly to Mickey in centre to score him. Ford retired Tommy Davis on a grounder. Howard hit one towards first, and Pepi made the play this time as Ford covered first. But it was Los Angeles 2, New York 1.

Phil Linz batted for Ford in the top of the eighth and delivered a single with one out. But Tony Kubek hit into an inning-ending double play. Hal Reniff came in again and got the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame. Sandy needed three more outs, but New York wasn't about to go down without a fight.

Bobby Richardson, who had failed to get one hit in game one off Koufax, got his second hit of the game to leadd things off. Koufax got Tom Tresh and Mantle on K's, but then Elston Howard sent a roller towards Maury Wills at short. Marty for the short peg at second...Tracewski drops the ball! Ow! That's a killer, perhaps. Sandy had to get Hector Lopez to ground out to end that. The Dodgers had the sweep and Koufax had lowered his ERA to 1.50 from 2.00.

But alas, Drysdale's was 0.00, Perranoski's was 0.00 and Podres' was 1.08. See? Sandy was fourth on the team in earned run average in the 1963 Fall Classic. But that didn't exactly stop Sandy from helping Los Angeles sweep the Yankees and picking up the MVP!

Sandy Koufax, fourth on the Dodgers in ERA in the 1963 World Series. You can look it up!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Kirk Gibson, too, all had one home run each in the 1988 Fall Classic. Only problem is, for each, their long ball represented their only hit. Well, some guys need four hits to get four bags in one game, while others need only one swing and whole lotta K's in between! I mentioned in an earlier post about Canseco and McGwire only having one hit. Funny, we talk about Gibson, and his home run is also his hit of the 1988 World Series, too! But each, has something magic about it.

The 1988 World Series between the favoured Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers got underway in game one, and Canseco had to try and get away from a Tim Belcher offering. This was not the way he wanted his fist Fall Classic plate appearance to go. He couldn't get out of the line of fire here in the top of the first and was on first the painful way. The A's had runners on first and second because of this. The hometown Dodgers were being beaten by the small ball early. Oakland actually loaded the bases when McGwire drew a walk, but did not get a man home.

The home team got two in on a Mickey Hatcher two-run blast in the bottom of the frame. But the A's loaded 'em again in the top of the second. This time, were they going to leave a man or three on? No way, Jose! Canseco crushed it to dead centre off the NBC centerfield camera and it was 4-2, Oakland. Who would have thought that this was to be his only hit of the 1988 Fall Classic.

But he and McGwire were shut down the rest of the way. However, it wasn't as if A's starter, Dave Stewart wasn't doing much the same on the Dodgers' hitters. They, too, got little after their home run. But Mike Scioscia did drive home a single tally in the bottom of the frame to make it a one run game, 4-3. Stewart left after eight with a fine six-hitter.

Dennis Eckersley came in to mop up. I mean, the guy had done that in all four games of the ALCS and earned a save each time. This guy, you just went up there with a little bat and a prayer. Dennis, you see, didn't give you much to hit and didn't walk too many batters. In 72 2/3 regular season innings, he permitted just 52 hits (5 home runs) and 11 walks. It just seemed so futile.

Scioscia popped out to short to stop the bottom of the ninth for the Dodgers. The Jeff Hamilton watched helplessly as Eckersley put strike three past him on the outer edge.

Los Angeles was down to their last out, and sent up Mike Davis as a pinch hitter. Actually, this looked like a bad move. Davis was left-handed, but had hit just .196 that season. He just wasn't the guy to help in this situation, But amazingly enough, after taking a strike, The Eck, misses the next four pitches and Davis was on. The Dodgers were still alive. The next batter was another pinch hitter.

And it was Kirk Gibson.

Injured and not exactly expected to play, he'd had this knack for coming through all season, Hey, if it's going to go down to the wire, why not?

He fouled off an Eckersley offering. Then another, and it was 0-2. He fouled off a third pitch to stay alive, but when Eckersley missed with his next pitch, Davis stole second without a throw. It was 1-2 on Gibson, but Dennis needed just one more pitch to put him away, Eckersley then missed with the next two pitches and the count was full.

At this point, Dennis must have decided that Kirk was not going down on a fastball. So he decided to go with a different pitch, a slider. The only problem is, the break was early. The ball caught too much of the plate, and Kirk was there to greet it with his big stick.

Launching the ball over the wall in right, the clutch Dodger had turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 Dodger win with one flick of the lumber! An iconic blast, with an equally amazing play-by-play call on television and radio. Around the bases, Kirk must have felt like someone who walked on to a stage all his. But it was a moment he'd share with his Dodger mates and fans forever.

The Los Angeles Dodgers needed no such miracles in game two, as their ace right-hander, Orel Hershiser went into his mode that had seen him throw 67 straight scoreless innings, counting game one of the NLCS. Shutting down the A's on just three hits (and even getting three hits himself!) Bulldog did the trick. Los Angeles won game two, 6-0 and moved to Oakland to get it done!

Game three went down to the wire like game one. This one was a pitching duel that saw both teams scratch out single tallies through eight and a half innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Oakland had Canseco and McGwire due up. Canseco hadn't had a hit since game one, of course, and Mark was stuck on zero hits so far.

The Dodgers sent up Jay Howell. Jay had just come back from a suspension and was taking the hill for the first time and facing a slugger who'd gone yard in his first at-bat of this Fall Classic. But Jay dug down deep and kept Jose off guard, getting him to pop out. But in to the box stepped, Mark McGwire.

Jay missed on his first pitch, but then McGwire could only foul off the next two pitches. Extra innings loomed. But, like with Gibson, McGwire's presence overwhelmed the pitcher. Jay threw ball two, and couldn't seem to put McGwire away as he fouled off the next three pitches. When Howell tried again to put Mark away with the next pitcher, the Big Guy took him out of the park to left. The A's had won, 2-1.

Canseco and McGwire did not get another hit in the 1988 Fall Classic. Gibson did not get another plate appearance. But the three, with their only hits of the Series, provided some memories to make the 1988 Fall Classic, though short, one for the ages!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Golden Era Ballot: My Favourite Moments Of The Men On It

So the Veteran's Committee is soon going to vote on who will make the Hall Of Fame. This years candidates are many that I have written about before, or peak my interest.

Dick Allen

Dick was somewhat of a malcontent, a player who did not all get along with other players, his manager, or anyone else around. He was also a member of the ill-fated 1964 Philadelphia Phillies. It was next year that his antics aledgedly got Frank Thomas (no relation to The Big Hurt) traded. For that, he was booed by his hometown fans, yet Allen hit a memorable home run to silence them. Well, for the moment.

On July 8th, 1965, the Phillies took on San Francisco at home in a double-header. In the opener, it was Allen and his 'mates on the wrong side of a 10-2 loss. Dick went 0-4 and K'd twice. But in the nightcap, Allen came to the dish in the bottom of the first with John Briggs, Cookie Rojas and Johnny Callison on and nobody out. Dickie hit a tape measure blast that might still be travelling it was hit so high and hard. The ovation was deafening, and the grand slam was needed. For, later in the game, solo home runs by Willie Mays and Willie McCovey made it a close finish. Philly won, 4-2.

Ken Boyer

Kenny also hit a memorable grand slam, but it was in the World Series of '64. Kenny's St. Louis Cardinals came back from 6 1/2 games back to win the pennant. There was only 13 games to play. The Phillies also had a lead of 6 1/2 with 12 to play over Cincinnati, who were also ahead of the Cards.

In the 1964 World Series, Ken was 1-13 and the Phillies were behind 3-0 in game four. Their opponents, the New York Yankees, also led the Fall Classic, two games to none. A win here, and it would be a tremendous uphill climb back. Boyer's grand slam in the top of the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium gave St. Louis a 4-3 lead. They held on for the win, then took two of the next three games for a Fall Classic triumph.

But it was in game seven when Ken did something amazing. Actually, he was part of something amazing. Having singled and scored, doubled and scored earlier, Kenny was having quite a game. So were the Cardinals. Up 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Kenny added to that with a home run. But in the top of the ninth, Kenny's younger brother Clete also went yard, and they became the only brothers to hit home runs in the same series game! It was a nice end to a season where Boyer had been MVP of the National League and led in RBIs.

Gil Hodges

Gil had several great World Series performances for Brooklyn in the 1950s, but also failed to get a hit in the 1952 affair. In 1956, he had 8 RBIs in only seven games. His home run in game four of the 1959 World Series won the game for the Dodgers, 5-4. Only, they were now the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But it was as manager of the 1969 New York Mets where he did something very smart. The Mets were ahead of the Baltimore Orioles, three games to one. But they trailed game five, 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Cleon Jones of the Mets said he had been in the foot by a pitch, but umpire Lou DiMuro disagreed. Hodges then had an idea. Not, "If the shoe fits," but rather, he showed the umpire some shoe polish on the ball. Ah! That got Jones to first. When Don Clendenon followed with a home run, the Mets were back in business. Al Weiss tied it the next inning with a solo home run. Two more runs in the bottom of the eighth brought New York a World Championship!

Jim Kaat

Jim Kaat actually pitched for the original Washington Senators in 1959, before they moved to Minnesota. He pitched forever, won 16 Gold Gloves, 283 games, and even hit a respectable 16 home runs. Kaat: The pitcher who could do it all, forever!

It would be difficult to single out one moment from a career that lasted a quarter of a century. But how about his pitching in the 1965 World Series. In game two, he won 5-1. Oh, he beat Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax. In the bottom of the eighth, with Sandy out of the game, he knocked in two runs with single. Minnesota won, 5-1. But Kaat lost games five and seven to Koufax. His World Series ring would have to wait until 1982.

Minnie Minosa

You know? This guy never quite left the game. I should tell you something about him. In 2003, he appeared in game for the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. He drew a walk. Age? 83!

Tony Oliva

Oliva was a teammate of Kaat's on the 1965 Twins. His birth name, by the way, is actually Pedro Oliva. He used his older brother's passport to come from his native Cuba to United States. When he signed on to the Twins, they had no idea how great he'd turn out.

Consider this:

3 Batting Titles

4 times leading the league in doubles

5 times leading the league in hits

1 Gold Glove (1966)

1964 Rookie Of The Year

Oliva, hit a home run in the top of the sixth inning of game four of the 1965 World Series. It was off the other great Dodger pitcher, Don Drysdale. That cut the Los Angeles' lead to 3-2. But a four-run uprising in the bottom of the sixth ended Minny's hopes.

But when I think of Tony-O, I think of a very special home run he hit. It was the first of it's kind.

On opening day of 1973, it was Oliva Twins vs. Catfish Hunter's Oakland A's. In the top of the first with run in, Tony took Hunter out of the park with Rod Carew on to make it 3-0. But the home run itself was something special. It was the first by a Designated Hitter.

Billy Pierce

Pierce is another lefty like Kaat. But what an ERA in 1955, 1.97. Prior to Herb Score's arrival in 1955, Pierce had led the American League in K/9 in 1953 and 1954. He also lead the league in complete games from 1956 to 1958. He played on two pennant winners. One in each league. Chicago, 1959 for the junior circuit and San Francisco for the National League in '62.

For me, it's the '62 Fall Classic. Amazingly enough, Pierce did not get any starts or decisions (despite three appearances) in '59. In 1962 vs. the New York Yankees, he took the hill in game three with the Series tied 1-1. He pitched so well. But a sequence in the bottom of the seventh led to the end.

Battling the Yankees Bill Stafford in a scoreless duel, Pierce came undone. First, it was AL Rookie Of The Year Tom Tresh with a single. Then, AL MVP Mickey Mantle singled to left. Both runners then advanced an extra base on an error on the play. When Roger Maris got a single to right, it was 2-0. Pierce was removed for Don Larsen. Maris then scored himself on a fielder's choice as the Giants failed to turn two. It proved to be crucial, as San Francisco scored twice in the top of the ninth, only to lose, 3-2.

But in game six, back in San Francisco, Billy was matched against Whitey Ford, who had won the opener and gotten a no-decision in game four. Ford had a nice 10-6 lifetime record in the Fall Classic. But Pierce was out to extend this thing to a seventh game.

And he did just that. Ford was battered and knocked out of the game after 4 2/3 innings. He had allowed five earned runs. His bullpen stopped the Giants the rest of the way, but it was too late. A Maris home run in the top of the fifth and a Tony Kubek single in the top of the eighth (with the Giants up 5-1 at the time) was all the mighty Yankees could muster. Pierce not only won the game (But New York won 1-0 in game 7, alas) but Whitey Ford had lost! Whitey, amazingly enough would lose his next three Fall Classic starts for good measure, never again getting another World Series win!

Luis Tiant

Tiant is one of my favourites who I never got to see. But in 1968, he won 21 games and posted a 1.60 ERA to lead the American League. Some (Not me, as proven by a posting I did a few years back) say he was actually better than Denny McLain, who won 31 games that year, but posted a higher ERA (1.96) on a pennant-winning team. His Cleveland team won 86 games that year compared to (McLain's) Detroit Tigers winning 103.

After stumbling back after that, he joined the Boston Red Sox in 1971. Tiant only won 1 game that year (1-7, was his record), but came back the next year to win 15 and lead the league again in ERA. And again it was less than 2 (1.91).

In 1975, Tiant was only 18-14, and his ERA was over 4. But he nonetheless started game one of the American League Championship Series vs. the three-time defending champion Oakland A's. All Tiant did was toss a three-hitter and give up just one run. He got the win, and the Red Sox won the next two games for good measure, and the sweep!

So then, Tiant went out to the mound in game one of that year's World Series vs. the great Cincinnati Reds. Cincy was, The Big Red Machine at this point. All Tiant did was go out and shut them out, 6-0. But the game was close and Luis had to be good, as Don Gullett matched zeros with him until the bottom of the seventh. Their, Tiant himself got things going with a single. He ended the inning by popping out to first. But the Red Sox scored all six of their runs in that frame. Tiant had become the first pitched since game seven of the 1971 Fall Classic to go the distance! Tiant added a win in game four on 163 pitches. He even started game six (That's the game that ends with the Carlton Fisk home run) and held Cincinatti at bay until he tired in the fifth.

Maury Wills

Wills sort of pioneered the stolen base back to the Ty Cobb Era in baseball. But the truth is, it was Luis Aparicio who brought the stolen base back. But Willis ran with it. In 1959, he played in only 83 games in the season and stole only 7 bases. But in the World Series, against Billy Pierce, Luis Aparicio and the Chicago White Sox, he helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win it all. He even matched Aparicio in the stolen base category with one each!

Beginning in 1960, Wills led the league in stolen bases six times. It was in 1962 that he stole 104 basesb (breaking Ty Cobb's record of 96, set in 1915) and was only thrown out 13 times. He stole 94 more in 1965. His thefts earned him the MVP in 1962. He was also tough to catch, as Maury was in the top ten in stolen base percentage from 1960 to 1965, and again in 1967 and 1968. He added defence to his arsenal, as he won gold gloves 1961 and 1962 at shortstop.

His lifetime batting average was .281, although his On-Base Percentage is surprising low, only .330. But Aparicio's is only .327. so he's got some company.

But for me, it's game 2 of the 1963 World Series that shows you Maury Wills. The Dodgers, behind Koufax, had won game one over the New York Yankees, 5-2. Wills led off game 2 with a single. But Al Downing, the Yankee (lefty) starter, made a great pickoff move towards first after Wills took off too soon. Pepitone, perhaps disbeliving the speed of the man at short, fired the ball as fast as he could, but his throw was a little too high and Wills reached. Wills eventually scored the game's first run, and Los Angeles did not relinquish the lead. The Dodgers only stole two bases the whole World Series, but their speed and pitching allowed them to sweep the mighty Yankees!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Boyer Brothers made a surprise visit to the show, "What's My Line?" After game 4 of the 1964 Fall Classic. The brothers had a World Series where they did everything else, so why not? That St. Louis vs. New York World Series of that season was a classic. Clete at Ken starred at third for each team.

Clete stroked the last hit by the Yankees in that game. It came off Roger Craig, who Ken was nice enough to mention got the win (in relief of starter Ray Sadecki). The Yankees had taken an early 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth. Clete singled Joe Pepitone to second, after Pepi had walked. But Craig fanned Al Downing and Phil Linz to end that. The Cardinals needed a grand slam in the top of the sixth to erase that lead. St. Louis went on to win the game 4-3 and knot things at two games apiece.

But it was in game seven where they combined to do some damage. Ken hit a double and scored the Cardinals' sixth run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. But a three-run home run by Mickey Mantle the next inning cut the St. Louis lead to 6-3. The Cardinal starter, Bob Gibson, was tiring. Ken was needed again to stop the Yankees, who had started the three run rally when Boyer could not get to Bobby Richardson's slow roller.

Steve Hamilton, on to pitch for New York, fanned two straight batters and had Kenny in his sites to K the side. But Ken stopped that, and the Yankees momentum with a home run. As Ken approached third, it was Clete that banged his shoulder in approval. But Clete and his mates had a few surprises up their sleeve. Gibson was up 7-3 after eight, but the Yankees did not go down without a fight in the top of the ninth.

Gibson fanned Tom Tresh to get things going. He was one strike away from doing the same to Boyer, but it was actually a full count. Bob, tiring since so early in this contest, did not want to start walking batters. Clete got a pitch to his liking, and blasted it over the wall for a home run of his own. Ken game his younger brother a playful nudge of his own as Clete passed him. It was 7-4, but New York had more.

Gibby got pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard out on another K, but Phil Linz, stepped in. And he had no intentions of letting Gibson off easily. He'd hit the ball well off Gibson in game two, getting two hits. He'd also added a home run off Barney Schultz, later. Gibson slammed the door on Phil, Clete and the rest of New York in game five. But here, in game seven, Linz had singled and been robbed of a hit when Mike Shannon snared his sinking liner in the top of the fifth. Shannon had then doubled up Tresh at second.

But Linz launched the ball to left, like Clete had two batters earlier. Like Ken had in the seventh. Like Mantle had, going the other way, in the sixth. Lou Brock, in left, desperately made a leap, but to no avail. This one was in the seats and New York was down 7-5. Gibson had to get Richardson, who had eight hits off him, to end this. Bob Gibson got him to pop out to end it.

It had been a great World Series. Yet, one thing both teams had was a third basemen who faced his brother at that position. Ken was the better hitter, though Clete certainly got some timely hits. Ken struggled for a while, but with two key home runs, he helped make the difference in game four and seven. Clete was the better fielder, although Ken made some fine plays, too. Each would never make it back to the Fall Classic, but had provided some unforgettable moments. So when they appeared on "What's My Line?", it was another of those moments!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Ed Sprague Jr. is the only player to win it all at the Collegiate, Olympic and MLB level!

Sprague, whose father, Ed Sprague Jr. was a pitched in the bigs from 1968 to 1976, went to Stanford University in the late 80s and helped them win back-to-back World Series in 1987 and '88. And it was in 1988 that he helped United States win gold at the Olympics with a 5-3 win over Japan. The good year of Sprague continued when the Toronto Blue Jays took him in the amateur draft.

He did not make the club until 1991. And even then, it was for only 61 games. But Ed hit .275, which showed some promise. 1992 was a step back, as got into only 22 games and batted just .234. The Jays, who used him at third. first, catcher and DH, kept him on the postseason roster.

Sprague might have also been given some consideration for stating some games in the postseason. The regular third basemen, Kelly Gruber (who's position Sprague played in college), was in slump that stretched from game 3 of the ALCS to game 3 of the Fall Classic. Also, John Olerud, hit just .222 that year vs. left-handed starters.

Sprague got a hit of Dennis Eckersley in game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Then, The Eck fanned him in his only other plate appearance of the ALCS, in game 5.

The World Series seemed to be more of the same. The Jays were up against an Atlanta Braves team that had the pitching and hitting you need to make you some stiff competition. Sprague did not get into game 1. Nor did John Olerud, as Joe Carter played first. No DH, you see. Dave Winfield, who occupied that position for most of the season, was in rightfield. Atlanta welcomed Toronto to A Brave New World and beat them, 3-1.

Sprague and Olerud did play in game 2. And in the top of the ninth inning, Eddie came to bat as a pinch hitter for pitcher Duane Ward. Pat Borders had lined out to start this fateful inning, which Toronto trailed 4-3. Derek Bell, batting for Manny Lee, coaxed a walk from Jeff Reardon. But Jeff had come in to pitch the eighth inning, with the Blue Jays threatening to tie it. He fanned Gruber to end that. Jeff, though, was one of those one-and-done closers of that (and to this day) time. Coming in early is usually a mistake.

One that Sprague exposed with a home run on the very first pitch of his very first Fall Classic plate appearance. 5-4, Toronto. That was the final score. Sprague had become (one of) the most unlikeliest of World Series heroes.

Sprague would see more action, again pinch-hitting in game 3. The Jays had tied the game in their home half of the eighth inning. It had been a wild, first World Series game ever on Canadian Soil. Devon White and Otis Nixon, the Braves' centerfielder, had both made great catches.

But Kelly Gruber's home run in the bottom of the eighth had squared this thing, and you kinda got the feeling the Jays were the team of destiny here. They were, indeed!

Roberto Alomar, quite so far in the World Series, led off with a single. The Braves removed starter, Steve Avery and brought in Mark Wohlers. Alomar didn't care who was pitching. He stole second. Carter was walked intentionally. Winfield laid down a bunt. Mike Stanton came in to set up a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup with Olerud. But Sprague trotted out to bat and Stanton walked him intentionally. Candy Maldonado's dramatic single scored Alomar with the winning run.

In game five, with Toronto up three games to one, the Braves took a 7-2 lead behind started John Smoltz. But it was one of those games where he had trouble finding the plate. And, up to four walks and up to 114 pitches, he was removed in the top of the seventh, leaving with no outs and a runner on first. Mike Stanton came in to get the Braves out of the inning. He did just that.

But in the eighth, it was Carter with a leadoff single and a stolen base. Winfield, who had singled his previous time up, fanned. Sprague was sent up to bat for Olerud again. This time, all he could do was fly out. Carter made it to third after tagging up. But Maldonado ended the inning by grounding out to third.

Sprague stayed in the game at first. and Atlanta threatened in the top of the ninth.. Todd Stottlemyre pitched the inning. He got just one batter out before Mark Lemke singled to centre. When Otis Nixon and Deion Sanders followed with singles of their own, the Braves had the bases loaded. Terry Pendleton was the batter and Toronto needed a double play. He sent a fly to left that Maldonaldo made the catch on. But when Lemke hesitated before heading home with hopes of an eighth run, The Candy Man nailed him at the dish on a nice throw. Sprague never touched the ball. Toronto went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame as the Braves forced a game six. So Eddie did not do a thing outside of pinch-hit and go to first with a glove. Toronto won game six in extras, 4-3. Eddie did not get into the game.

Sprague stayed with the Jays through 1998, and picked up another ring as a regular in 1993. But by winning a World Series in 1993, he had a nice "Big Three" in terms of winning it all.

Monday, November 24, 2014

World Series: Did You Know

Gene Tenace participated in the Fall Classic in 1972, 1982, and 1992. Oh, he was also there in 1973, 1974 and 1993!

Tenace was one of those World Series surprises that year of '72. With the Oakland A's, and up against a great Cincinnati Reds' team, he provided the boast they needed. The teams were pretty evenly matched, but Cincy had made it to the Fall Classic two years earlier and were looking for their first triumph since 1940. They might have got it, if not for Tenace.

Having played in just 82 games in '72 and hitting just 5 round-trippers, what went down in the Fall Classic was a shocker. Especially when Gene hit just .059 in the American League Championship Series vs. Baltimore.

Gene went out to the World Series, played all seven games at catcher, and hit, hit hit. Home run, home run, home run! He connected for two in the first game, another in the third, and still another in the fifth game. The Oakland A's were up three games to one when Tenace got his fourth. The Reds would rally and take this game and game six, but Oakland ultimatly triumphed in game seven. For his efforts, which included a .348 batting average, Gene was named World Series MVP.

He did not, however, have things his way in the 1973 and '74 Fall Classics. Gene hit poorly. The Athletics, nonetheless, won both years. They made it back to the ALCS in 1975, but were swept by the Boston Red Sox. Tenace played to the end of 1976 with Oakland before being dealt to San Diego.

But in 1982, he was back in the Fall Classic with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Athletics made it back to the postseason in 1981 without him, but here, Gene was trying to prove he could get it done with any team.

He didn't do much in the World Series. He only played in five games, got no hits, and only reached base once. But again, it was his team that came through in seven. This would prove to be his last World Series as a player. But ten years later he was back in October's Classic.

He was the bench coach of the Toronto Blue Jays, who were still seeking their first World Series win. He even had gotten some managerial experience at the big league level the previous year, 1991. Cito Gaston had a herniated disc and missed 33 games. Tenace went 19-14 during the span. Cito returned, but the Jays lost the ALCS to Minnesota. But in 1992, Toronto beat Gene's old team, the Oakland A's, in six games to advance to the World Series. But Gene got ejected in game five!

There were no ejections of Tenace or any of the Jays' coaches in the World Series. The Jays got several key moves from Gaston and co. to win it all against Atlanta in six games.

Gene Tenace ended up with six World Series rings to his name. It's about being in the right place at the right time, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale lost their first start in the 1965 Fall Classic. Good thing Claude Osteen was there for the win in game three! The Minnesota Twins, egged on by their home fans, must have felt on top of the world for a while. But at the end of it all, it was Koufax and Drysdale's Dodgers on top!

Koufax, was off for Yom Kippur for game one and Don Drysdale took the hill. But Don didn't have it on this day. The score was tied at 1 in the bottom of the third when the wheels really came off the chariot.

Frank Quilici started things with a double. Mudcat Grant, the opposing pitcher, made it on an error. It was back to the top of the order, and Zoilo Versalles blasted a three-run home run to make it 4-1 for the Twins. That was all they would need. Three more runs scored before Don departed. The final score was 8-2 and a reporter jokingly told manager Walter Alston that he'd wished that Drydale was Jewish, too!

But the Dodgers had Koufax for game two, right? Nothing to worry about, right?

For a while, yes!

Koufax got 'em 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first. Then, a 1-2-3 second was puctuated by a pair of K's. In the third, Koufax did walk a batter. Quilici made it to first. But then was caught stealing second. Neither of the other two batters, including pitcher Jim Kaat (one fine hitter, too) had a chance to reach first, as Koufax got two more K's. Sandy was off to a fine start in this one!

Reality time came in the fourth inning. It started out innocently enough as Koufax fanned Versalles. But then Joe Nossek broke up the no-hit bid (Hey! Sandy always seemed to be on the verge of these everytime he pitched, right?) with a single. Tony Oliva then became Sandy's sixth strikeout victim of the day. Harmon Killebrew then got the Twins second hit of the inning and game. Two on, two out. Koufax had to dig deep! He did just that to get Earl Battey. Whew! But Minny had some life in the bats after all against Koufax! A lot of life!

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Don Mincher got Minnesota's third hit of the day. But Koufax got out of that inning without allowing another baserunner, And Mincher did not get to second. By fanning both Bob Allison and Jim Kaat, Sandy Koufax was up to eight strikeouts in only five innings!

But the Twins took control in the bottom of the sixth. Versalles reached on an error by Jim Lefebvre. Nossek bunted back to Koufax and Versalles was now on third with only one out. Koufax was not about to walk a batter intentionally. It was Oliva, the left-hander. But Sandy gave up a double to him and the Twins had broken the ice. When Killebrew followed with a single to left, it was 2-0, Minny. Battey then singled Killebrew to second. Koufax fanned Bob Allison and got Mincher on a grounder, but the damage had been done!

In the top of the seventh, Los Angeles got a run back to cut it to 2-1. They had runners on second and third with only one out. A base hit here and it's 3-2, Los Angeles. But Sandy Koufax was the next scheduled batter. So the Dodgers sent up, of all people, the very player who had pitched game one, Don Drysdale. Don was a good hitting pitcher, you see. Just like the pitcher he was facing, Kaat.

But Kaat got Drysdale on strikes. And when Maury Wills flied out to short centre, the inning was over.

The Twins salted this one away with three more runs to the Dodgers' zero the rest of the game. Kaat himself drove in two. With that, it was a 5-1 final. Minnesota was up two games to none.

But Claude Osteen won game three for Los Angeles, 5-0. Koufax and Drysdale came back to win their next starts. When Osteen lost game six to Mudcat Grant, it was on to a deciding game. There, Koufax won 2-0 over Kaat, to win the 1965 Fall Classic for Los Angeles.

Even the best of pitchers, like Koufax and Drysdale, lose games. Even in World Series time. The Fall Classic is about overcoming obstacles. The Dodgers sure seemed on the ropes are two games in '65. But with the third starter coming through, and Koufax and Drysdale redeeming themselves, the Dodgers managed to comeback from that!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Fresh off losing in seven to the Dean brothers in 1934, the Tigers had to overcome another fine pitching performance to win the next Fall Classic.

Lon Warneke, although on the Cubs' six game yielding, won both his starts. And his ERA? An outstanding 0.54!

He had been 20-13 in '35 for Chicago, but posted an ERA over 3, 3.06. When the Cubs had last appeared in the World Series in 1932, his ERA was a league-leading 2.37. But Chicago was swept in that one. Lon would win the Cubs' two games in '35.

He started game one, and got Chicago off on the right foot by blanking Detroit, 3-0. It was a splendid game, as Lon allowed just four hits and four walks. The only downside to the shutout is he only fanned one batter.

But Chicago was crushed 8-3 in game two, as reality set in. In game three, Warneke came into the relive Bill Lee, who was in a real jam. Alas, he could not get the Cubs out of it.

The Cubs led the game 3-1 in the top of the eighth, and were just five outs away from winning. But with only one out, Goose Goslin singled home two runs to tie the game. Exit, Bill Lee (Sr.)!Warneke game in.

Pete Fox singled Goslin to second. When Billy Rogell got another hit off Lon, Detroit had the lead. Rogell then tried of second with Fox on third, he was trapped in a rundown. But while all this was going on, Fox trotted on home from third two put Detroit up two runs, 5-3. That run by Fox was the only one Warneke gave up in the 1935 World Series!

Warneke settled down and got 'em 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to give Chicago a chance to tie it. They did just that, but Warneke was pinch-hit for, of course. They got the winning run as far as first with one out, but only the tying run was to score on the second out, a fly ball.

The Tigers eventually won this in the top of the 11th, and took a 2-1 Series lead. The Cubs were retired in order in the bottom of the frame.

Chicago again gave it quite an effort in game four, which was crucial. But again, they came up short by a run, 2-1. Having lost two straight at home, game five was the last one they'd see at home as Chicago would have to try and win the World Series at home.

And Lon came through in masterful fashion in game five! For a while, he was working on a one-hitter. He got 'em 1-2-3 in the second and third. Detroit got two hits but no runs in the top of the fourth. And by this point, it was 2-0 Chicago on a two-run home run by Chuck Klein. Warneke pitched two more 1-2-3 innings before leaving for Lee in the top of the seventh. Lee faltered a bit, giving up a run in the top of the ninth. But he got the save and Chicago had already plated a third runner in the bottom of the seventh on a double by Babe Herman. For the second time in this Series, the Cubs got nothing but zeros off Lon Warneke in his start.

Detroit went on to win the 1934 Fall Classic in Detroit, back at home. Warneke did not get into the game. And, although with Chicago in 1945, he did not pitch for them in the Fall Classic that year. His game five performance turned out to be the last game he pitched in the World Series.

The Cubs had to deal with losing the World Series for many years after 1908 (To date, the last time they won the Fall Classic) to 1945. Thereafter, they have never managed to return to the October Classic. But a performance like from Warneke, no doubt helped ease the pain somewhat.

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Dean Brothers sealed the deal in the 1934 Fall Classic, winning two games apiece!

The brothers, who seemed to exemplify the Gashouse Gang that was the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1930s, were poised to deliver in the World Series that year. And the poor Detroit Tigers were the victims of each, times two!

It was Dizzy that carried a 30-7 record into this one. And he was also on the hill in game one. Dizzy delivered!

He allowed a run in the bottom of the third in Detroit. But by then, it was 3-0, Tigers. Detroit tacked on another in the bottom of the sixth, but now things really looked hopeless, as it was 8-1 at the time for the Cards. Dean allowed another meaningless run in the bottom of the eighth, but St. Louis won this thing in a laugher, 8-3.

Detroit, however, took game two in the bottom of the twelfth, just to let Dizzy and his brother Paul know it was going to be a long Fall Classic. But, things only ended up working out for the better as a result.

To begin with, Paul took the hill in game three back at home. And he did he ever come through!

Paul carried a 4-0 lead into the top of the ninth, as the Tigers were handcuffed by his brilliant pitching. The only question remaining was whether or not he would really trump his brother and get a shutout.

After allowing a leadoff single, things settled down for Dean and he got the next two batters out. One more out and...


Hank Greenberg cracked a triple to spoil the shutout. However, Dean wasn't in a giving mood this day. When he retired Goose Goslin for the final out, the Cardinals had a 4-1 win and a 2-1 lead in the 1934 World Series.

Game four saw Detroit explode for a 10-4 win, as that forced the enigmatic Dizzy back to the hill in game five in St. Louis with the series tied at two. This time the Cardinals ace lost the game 3-1. The Tigers were heading home just a win away from taking this. But the Deans had other ideas.

Paul stopped them in game six, but it sure wasn't easy. First, a 1-0 lead was erased. As was a 3-1 lead lost with the Tigers tallying two in the bottom of the sixth. Paul Dean himself put the Cardinals up for good with a single in the top of the seventh. Detroit got the tying run to third in the bottom of the frame, and two more runners on the next inning. Some superb clutch pitching ending that. The Cardinals themselves got two runners on in the top of the ninth, but failed to give Paulie some breathing room. No matter: 1-2-3 went Detroit in the bottom of the ninth! Series tied at three! On to a winner-take-all game seven.

Enter Dizzy.

Exit Detroit's chances.

A seven run outburst by St. Louis in the top of the third opened this thing up. Dizzy got in on the act, two different times in the same inning. He doubled and scored the game's first run. Later, Dizzy singled home another run. In doing so, he ended up with more runs scored and RBIs this game then the entire Detroit team! Dean was on his way to a shutout, you see!

Detroit scored twice more in the top of the sixth to make it a 9-0 game. The inning was highlighted by Detroit's Marv Owen getting spiked by the St. Louis' Joe Medwick. The Tigers' fans were not amused at the rout or the sight of one of their own getting it. They threw everything they could find (especially tomatoes) at Joe, and he was removed from the game for his own safety. The Cards were undaunted in their assault, and added two more to make the final, 11-0.

Dizzy had gone 2-1, and Paul even better, 2-0. The 1934 World Series would not have been won by the Cardinals without them. Brother acts in sports are always a fun story. Or in the case of tennis' Williams, sister acts. Hockey had the Espositos. The Dean's, however, were something else for the St. Louis faithful. There have been better brother acts in baseball. On the mound, Phil and Joe Niekro come to mind. But the Dean brothers never had a dull moment, and helped make this 1934 Cardinal team, one for the ages!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Dale Mitchell, who was the last out of Don Larsen's perfect game, was also the last out of the 1954 Fall Classic.

So two famous last outs, all rolled into one pretty good player. Dale batted .312 lifetime.

Mitchell, who was also on the 1948 Cleveland Indians for good measure, ended up playing in thirteen World Series games, so of course he was going to have some back luck along the way.

In 1948, the Indians needed no such luck. Nor did it appear they needed any in 1954. Cleveland came into the Fall Classic against the New York Giants with a record of 111 wins and only 43 losses. Mitchell was not even in the starting lineup that World Series. But he came into the game as a pinch hitter under the most bizzare of circumstances.

So, Willie Mays makes "The Catch" of Vic Wertz, right? You've seen that. Larry Doby, on second, advanced to third for Cleveland, who also had Al Rosen on first, who singled. One out, runners on the corners.

Hank Majeski came in to bat for Dave Philley. But the Giants had seen enough from pitcher Don Liddle, who gave up the long fly from Wertz. Marv Grissom came into to pitch for the Giants. Liddle did not leave quietly. He turned to Grissom and said, "Well, I got my man."

Well, he sure did. The score was tied at two when all this amazing stuff was happening! But now Grissom would have to get his man, Majeski. But Majeski would not hit. Dale Mitchell came into bat. Mitchell coaxed a walk from Grissom. So the bases were loaded despite "The Catch".

The Indians went to the well for another pinch hitter, Dave Pope, but Grissom fanned him. Jim Hegan was then retired and the threat was stuffed. Willie Mays' catch, however, was the only thing we should be talking about in that game, right? The Giants took this thing in extras, 5-2.

Further amazing was the fact that Mitchell batted only twice more in this Fall Classic. In game three hit batted by was retired with the Indians trailing 6-1. Cleveland managed to score that inning but lost the game 6-2. With that, New York was up three games to 0 and looking for the sweep.

They got it in game four, as they stormed out to a 7-0 lead. Majeski, of all people, got Cleveland back in this thing somewhat with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. The Indians scored again in the bottom of the seventh and even got had a man on third before the Giants got out of there.

So, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Giants still up 7-4, it was up to Mitchell to keep the ball rolling on a comeback attempt. With Steve Dente on first and two outs, Mitchell stepped into the dish for Dave Pope. He popped out to third and the Giants were World Series champions in a most surprising of sweeps.

Dale Mitchell was with Cleveland in 1956, when Brooklyn purchased his contract July 29th. He only played 19 games for Brooklyn and batted .292.

He was on the roster for the postseason. Brookly took game one and Mitchell sat and waited. In game two, Brooklyn was behind 6-1 in the bottom of the second when he batted for pitcher Ed Roebuck. He failed to deliver, but Brooklyn tied the game that inning. And they went on to win, 13-8.

The Dodgers lost game three and Mitchell warmed the bench some more. In game four, he batted for Roebuck again, but again failed to deliver as Brooklyn lost again, 6-2.

And of course on to game five. Well, Don Larsen was pitching a perfect game, and up to 92 pitches after retiring 26 straight batters. Now, as Dale batted for Sal Maglie, just one more out to go.

Ball one was outside.

Larsen got a called strike.

Mitchell swung and misses the next pitch. 1-2. One more pitch...

Mitchell fouled it off.

But when Larsen's next pitch was called a strike on the outside corner, the only perfect game (or no-hitter for that matter) had been thrown. Mitchell had one more plate appearance left in him. And Brooklyn had one more win left in them.

The Dodgers took game six, 1-0 in 10 innings. But in game seven, it was all New York.

The Yankees took an early 5-0 lead off Don Newcombe. Another Don, Bessent, relieved. He held the Yankees scoreless in his three inning relief stint. But Brooklyn still trailed 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth and Bessent was the first scheduled batter there. Mitchell batted for him and grounded out. The next two men were also retired.

The Yankees went on to win the game, 9-0 and wrap up the World Series. Dale Mitchell had also played his last game.

World Series are sometimes remembered for one play, like a Mays' catch. Or one game with a majestic performance, like Don Larsen's perfect game. Dale Mitchell made the last out to ensure Willie Mays' catch jump started the Giants on a sweep. And he made the last out in Don Larsen's perfect game to make it official. The Fall Classic can be good and bad timing. Sadly for Mitchell, it was a batter in the right place and right time. It was only the result that wasn't what he was hoping for!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

In his three game sevens pitched, Bob Gibson had his "worst" start in terms of runs allowed. He did, however pitch well in each. At least, when he had too!

Staked, by his St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-0 lead after five innings in game seven of the 1964 World Series, Gibby was looking home free. But the opposition was the New York Yankees. The home town fans would not be in for any smooth sailing!

Bobby Richardson, leading off the top of the sixth, singled on a slow roller to third. Roger Maris followed with a single and Mickey Mantle was next. Gibson had help The Mick to no hits in the '64 Fall Classic. But this time, Mickey went deep to left for three runs. It was his 18th and last World Series home run.

The Yankees hit the ball hard off Gibson in the next inning as Richardson got his thirteenth hit with two down. Maris was back at the dish and Mantle was back in the on-deck circle. Gibson had to get him. Maris hit it well, but right to Mike Shannon in right. St. Louis then got a little more breathing room as Ken Boyer hit a solo home run in the bottom of the frame to extend the lead to four runs.

Gibson got through the top of the eight without much trouble. Mantle was the only Yankee to get it out of the infield. The Cardinals looked poised for more runs in the bottom of the frame, but came up empty. Gibson then gave up solo home runs to Clete Boyer and Phil Linz in the top of the ninth. The lead was down to 7-5. Gibby got Richardson to pop out to end it.

Gibson and St. Louis faced the Boston Red Sox in 1967. Gibby won games one and four to put St. Louis up three games to one. But the Red Sox charged back and forced a game seven at home. Gibson took the hill.

The Red Sox got a run in the bottom of the first of a scoreless deadlock, but Gibby got out of the that without a run tallied. And through four innings, settled down on a no-hitter. And also a nice lead he helped provide!

The Cardinals scored twice in the top of the third to take a 2-0 lead. After failing to get a run the next inning, St. Louis needed more breathing room. Here comes Gibson the batter!

He hit a home run and the lead was now three. The Cards kept the rally going and crossed the plate again before the third out was recorded. But in the bottom of the frame, Gibby lost the no-hitter and shutout.

George Scott got a hold of one of Gibson's offerings and smashed a triple to centre. A throwing error by Julian Javier on the play scored him. 4-1, Cardinals. But St. Louis had no intention of losing this thing. Gibson got the next three batters out to keep the lead. And when Javier hit a three-run home run in the top of the fifth, the countdown was on.

Gibson, showing what he had learned from the last time he was up six runs in a game seven, didn't let up. Could the Red Sox do anything to Hoot?

Not in the bottom of the frame as they went 1-2-3. Carl Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk. But Bob Gibson got Ken (Hawk) Harrelson to force him at second for the first out. Then he retired the next two batters.

St. Louis went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh and eighth, but the Red Sox were not done. Rico Petrocelli led off the bottom of the eighth with a double. A wild pitch to Elston Howard moved Rico to third with no outs. Dalton Jones came in to bat for Ellie, during the plate appearance, as the Red Sox needed everything they could muster at this point. Jones walked and things looked promising.

Norm Siebern, like Howard and Gibson's teammate Roger Maris, an ex-Yankee, batted for the pitcher. Gibson got him to force Jones at second. This was crucial. Although Petrocelli scored on the play, Boston's chances of a big inning took a step backwards. Gibson could afford to allow the Sox a run at this point, leading 7-1. But he didn't want them to get to 7-5 or even 7-4 like in '64!

Joe Foy also hit into a force, as did Mike Andrews. Gibson was out of his most difficult ordeal of the afternoon. St. Louis looked more than poised for a big inning with the bases filled and only one out in the top of the ninth, but could not score.

Gibson face Yaz again, and Carl lined a single to right. It was the Red Sox's third hit of the game. It was also their last. Harrelson hit into a double play and Scott fanned. Gibson and the Cardinals were champions again, and again in seven games.

The same scenario presented itself the next year as it was the Detroit Tigers turn. Wins by Gibson in games one and four again put St. Louis up three games to one. But again, the opposition came back.

In game seven, Gibson started strong. He retired the first ten batters to face him. His mound opponent, Mickey Lolich, looked tired and beaten, but kept getting out of trouble. Lolich then began to look like Gibson out there.

Gibson was undaunted, and had a 1-2-3 fifth and sixth. In the top of the seventh, the great Gibson finally faltered.

With two down, Norm Cash and Willie Horton singled. Jim Northrup then hit a ball that centerfielder Curt Flood misjudged and it got behind him for a triple. 2-0, Tigers. When Bill Freehan followed with a double, it was 3-0.

The Cardinals got a man on in the bottom of the frame on an error, but did not score. Gibson had a 1-2-3 top of the eight. But time was running out on St. Louis. They coaxed a walk off Lolich in the bottom of the eighth, but again failed to score. Gibson batted for himself in that inning and fanned, meaning he'd be back for the top of the ninth. It might have been a bad move.

With one out, Horton singled. Northrup followed with one of his own. Bill Freehan was retired. But Don Wert singled to make it 4-0. The Tigers were three outs away from a World Championship.

St. Louis finally managed to pry a run off Lolich via a Mike Shannon home run in the bottom of the ninth, but that was it. The Cardinals and Gibson had lost, 4-1.

A tough was to end it for Bob Gibson. But in game one of '68, he'd fanned 17 Tigers in a shutout. Game four saw the Tigers score just once off him. 1967 saw Gibson win 2-1 in game one in a pitcher's duel. Game four was a majestic 6-0 win for him. 1964 saw him lose 8-3 (but Bob only pitched eight innings and only allowed four runs) in game 2 and win 5-2 in game five. That game saw him fan 13 and allow no earned runs.

Gibson, the competitor, may have had some problems in game seven. But the greats handle adversary the way you and I handle a cold. We fight through it. Gibson faced several tough tests in every World Series starts of his, but handled them like a fighter. And while game seven is a challenge to anyone who participates in them, Gibson met it head on. No quarter asked or given!

The Leafs Goaltending: Maybe Leaf Things Well Enough Alone!

So, Toronto has a goaltending controversy? Really? When?

I thought I saw this all last year. Did you? You nod in agreement. Okay. Randy Carlyle said it was okay. Is is okay if I vent my two cents? This is my blog and Carlyle says it's okay! Alright!

James Reimer. Hey, didn't he start last year pretty well? Yes. How about this year? More of the same, says I. Can he sustain it? Well, that has yet to be determined. Oh yeah, get to, "The Other Guy!" Last year, it was Reimer.

This year, it's Jonathan Bernier. So he starts the season in goal. Carey Price shows him what a real number one goalie should be like in the season opener. In the next game against Pittsburgh, Bernier gets left out to dry and gives it his all. But of the 41 shots against, he can only stop 36. Uh-oh. Everything was settled, set in stone and right for the season. Time for plan "B". Goalie" B". Or is it now goalie "A"? See, this is how and why this thing is so confusing and engaging. Oh, and also because it's Toronto, you see. I sense a cure for 1967 coming here. Really!

Well, maybe not, but Optimus Reimer sure has Leaf Nation believing. And for good reason. The Leafs played like beleafers out there against New York when he started in front of the twine. An injury that forced his removal, oddly, seemed to overshadow the fact that he'd played well, and so had Toronto. A nice six-goal explosion helps, too!

And then a nice OT win, which Reimer almost lost with a delay of game penalty late. Granted, he lost to Detroit. But when Bernier struggled again, against Boston, Carlyle was forced to admit the situation was far from okay. And then, he was forced to admit that Reimer was a little better than okay! Joking aside, somehow, Reimer seems right at home here in Toronto, doesn't he? They throw you under the carpet, then reach over to dust the floor, and notice there's some hidden treasure underneath.

That came in the form of a great win over Chicago. Reimer, what can I say? To say he stole the game, no, that's not enough. It was one of those games. The games that, even if you really believe in Toronto, a loss had to seem the most likely scenario for this team. Toronto hung on well for two. Game tied, Leafs take the lead in the third. Of course, here's where Chicago takes off. Alas, here's where Reimer stole it! Outshot 23-7, Toronto looked like a bunch of minor league rejects in the third. Reimer, though, looked like the reincarnation of Curtis Joseph with his sprawling, last minute grasp. Everyone was looking at the stubborn red light. What, there just had to be a malfunction. That would explain it all!

Out off all that, the Leafs held on to win somehow. Reimer, allowed those two goals on powerplay. Hmmm, I blame not the goalie, but rather the infractions on those two.

So, of course, that just added fuel to the fire. The fire of "Who's In Goal?" That, has gained in recent weeks as the most famous routine since Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" The Leafs headed out west to take on Arizona (or Phoneix, if you haven't started watching hockey this year) and Colorado. Bernier looked primed to start against the 'Yotes, but Carlyle decided against it. Reimer played. The Leafs started slow, Reimer gave up some early ones. And he got better as the game went on. Toronto, however, could not pull this thing off, ending up 3-2. Carlyle did the right thing after, placing the blame on the Leafs slow start. Obvious, but it had to be addressed.

And that problem carried over to the next game. A slow start, a rebound, and a 3-2 lead by the opposition, The Leafs pulled Jonathan for the extra attacker late and tied it. Then they survived an OT which featured a lot of three on three action due to some offsetting minors and other extracurricular activity. Toronto survived that, but Bernier went 0-3 in the shootout!

Now, Carlyle gave Bernier another chance at redemption against the Rangers. It was a narrow 5-4 win this time. Leafs played better, but seemed to be in a mode of not holding on to leads and letting New York back in it. They managed to pull it out in overtime, which was good. Bernier played better than the four goals allowed, but what about Ottawa on Sunday?

It was back to Reimer.

Again, the Leafs played a game of too-close-for-comfort. They came out on top 5-3. But the next game would be a real test. It was against Boston.

Toronto stormed out, however, and surged ahead with four second period goals to Boston's one. That turned a 1-0 lead into a 5-1 lead. The Bruins might have had ideas of a comeback (as if they haven't before, right?) but a sixth Toronto goal stopped that. Bernier didn't have too busy a night. He faced only 26 shots and turned away all but one.

The win is one to ponder for Toronto. They controlled the action against one of the league's better teams. Bernier had a rare easy night, by this team's standards. Phil Kessel and his mates had a strong game at both ends as Toronto was three for four on the powerplay and killed off all of Boston's powerplays. This has been Toronto's real problem this season.

Funny, though, look what happens with a better effort up front? And hey, did you see Reimer and Kessel smiling on the bench? Kessel didn't get the hattrick. Reimer didn't get the start. But when things are clicking, it's all smiles, right?

Bernier's numbers are a little off from last year. His save percentage was .917 this year compared to .923 and .922 the two previous years. Most expect him to come around. At least those numbers. Amazingly enough, for all his greatness last year, his goals-against average was 2.68. This year, it's actually also down, to 2.57. But that's what you wanted to see, right?

Reimer, remember, got off to a hot start last year, then lost his confidence. But, being such a high-class individual, he handled it well. His decision to withdrew his trade request looks to have paid dividens for Toronto. Right now, his save percentage of .925 is higher than in any previous season. I actually expect him to get a lot of playing time with those numbers. Reimer has a higher GAA than Bernier, but his W-L-T record is 4-2-0 and Bernier's is 5-3-2. So it's pretty even.

The real controversial issue here is the men in front of these two goalies. Sometimes, it's easy to have confidence when you know you are going to play. Even there, though, do you want to face such an onslaught. The Leafs have some great offence, truth be told. But Toronto has problems on defence, and Carlyle has some difficult decisions to make in regards to his 'tenders. For instance, he started Bernier against Pittsburgh earlier this season, instead of Reimer, who has a far better record. The Leafs next game, coincidently, is against the Pens. The Leafs will need all the offence and defence they can muster. And in goal you have to expect another 30 + shots. Always amazes me that Bernier and Reimer go in net, knowing what they are up against. If the Leafs could fix that problem, then we wouldn't be here talking about goaltending. At least, not as much.

Monday, November 10, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Bobby Richardson made the last putout in 1962. Then he popped out to end it in 1964! He always seemed to do something of note in the Fall Classic. It was Bobby's time to shine! It was a rematch of the 1951 World Series, The Mick and The Say Hey Kid again. But this this was a coast-to-coast affair. New York, in fact, was going to start things in San Fran, and end things there, too!

After two great World Series performances in 1960 and 1961 (.367 and .361), Bobby fell off in '62 with only a .148 batting average. He managed to collect two hits and two runs scored in game five. But in game seven, he made two nice plays to help the New York Yankees win it.

He walked twice in the game, which was pretty rare for him. But in the ninth inning, with New York clinging to a one-run lead (1-0), Bobby came through with the glove!

Matty Alou stepped in to pinch hit for pitcher Billy O'Dell, who had just tossed two fine scoreless innings of relief. O'Dell also did not allow a hit. But Ralph Terry, you see, was working on a two-hitter!

Alou got the third hit of the game for San Francisco. Terry settled down and put the Giants on edge by fanning the next two batters. But Willie Mays stroked a double to right. Tie game?

Alou rounded third and maybe had thoughts of home. But here's where Richardson comes to the rescue!

Roger Maris, playing right, got to it quickly. Bobby, the second basemen, ran out to short right to take the throw. Maris hit Richardson with a nice peg and Bobby gunned the thing home. Alou held. But now, the tying run was ninety feet away and the winning run was at second. A base hit here, and this thing is all over!

The other Willie, McCovey, stepped in. Terry's first pitch was fouled off to right. Maris gave chase, but this thing ended up in the stands. The next pitch was rocketed towards right-center. Here's where Richardson was positioned. Bobby caught the thing, and this exciting World Series was over.

Two years later, it was another exciting affair. The Yankees though, were ageing and injured. Richardson collected thirteen hits, including eight of St. Louis' star pitcher, Bob Gibson.

And Gibby (who just celebrated his 79th birthday yesterday!) was there on the hill in game seven as the Cards built a 6-0 lead after five innings.

In the top of the sixth, Richardson led off by beating a slow roller towards third. Maris followed with a single. When Mantle took Gibson out of the park on an 0-1 pitch, the lead was sliced in half. Gibson suddenly seemed a little less than invincible. Manager Johhny Keane decided to leave him in the game. But Gibson, who had started game five, was tired.

Richardson connected for another hit with two down in the top of the seventh. Roger Maris connected well on the next pitch, but it was a liner for an inning-ending out. The Cardinals, added a run in the bottom of the frame on a solo blast by Ken Boyer.

The Yankees, however, were fighting this thing to the end. With one out in the top of the ninth, and St. Louis still up 7-3, New York caught fire. Or they caught up to some of Bob Gibson's bad pitches.

Clete Boyer, not to be outdone by his brother, hit a payoff pitch into left for a home run of his own. It was now 7-4, St. Louis. Under today's scheme of things, we'd see the closer in at this point. But this was 1964 and no one came on for Gibson!

But Phil Linz hit the Yankees second home run of the inning and third of the game, as Gibson was just one out away from putting this thing on ice. But now, with the score 7-5, he'd have to face Bobby Richardson.

Gibson missed for ball one, then got a strike. But on the next pitch, Bobby popped out to second, ending a very, very exciting World Series that didn't seem to know where to stop.

For Bobby Richardson, it was his last Fall Classic. It was also his third seventh game, having gone to seven in '60 for good measure(He also was on the Yankees in '57 and '58 when it went seven, but never got off the bench past game five of either clashes!).

On a team that had Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Ellie Howard and Yogi Berra, Richardson was low on the totem pole of dangerous hitters. In fact, I believe he might have been the hitter that garnered the least attention. But at the end of '62 and '64, here's Bobby!