Thursday, September 18, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The St. Louis Cardinals stole three bases in the 1964 Fall Classic. But none were by Lou Brock. The fleet-footed outfielder made his presence felt in other ways with his speed. Yet he failed to pilfer a single base. Even his own catcher did the trick!

Brock singled in the bottom of the first inning of game one, at home. Then he went from first to third on a single. A fly ball to Mickey Mantle in right by Ken Boyer scored him. Well, that's gotta be some speed right there, right? That put St. Louis up 1-0, but they would finish game one without a single stolen base.

Worse, still, it was Kenny's younger brother Clete with a one-out single in the top of the second for New York. The Yankees, having taken the lead on a two-run home run by Tommy Tresh earlier that inning, were looking for more. So with one on, one out, and New York up 2-1, Clete made a break towards second and was save. It proved to be a crucial play, as the next batter was Whitey Ford. The Chairman Of The Board could only single, but with Boyer on second rather than first, New York was up, 3-1. The Cardinals rallied to win, 9-5, but where were their stolen bases in this game? There were none!

The bad news in game two was St. Louis lost. The worse news was they again failed to steal a base. The good news was, New York failed to make a swipe! Dick Groat, not very fast, hit a ball past Hector Lopez (inserted for The Mick) in the bottom of the ninth to end up on third. The triple helped St. Louis score a run in that inning. But New York won this won easily, 8-3. It was off to New York for games three, four and five.

In game three, it was Dick Groat with another extra-base hit, a double that was stranded in the top of the sixth. However, he was stranded. In the next inning, it was Dal Maxvill with a leadoff double. A bunt moved him to third, but Dal stayed there. St. Louis scored a run when Tim McCarver hit a single to right, made it second as it got by Mantle. He then scored on a single by Curt Simmons the pitcher, which deflected of Clete Boyer's glove at third. That was the Cardinals speed at work. No stolen bases. New York was held to just five hits and no stolen bases. But Mickey Mantle, who also had a double earlier, blasted a tremendous home run in the bottom of the ninth to win it for his team, 2-1.

In game four, St. Louis and New York both got only six hits. In the bottom of the first, it was Phil Linz with a leadoff double to right that was just fair. But foolishly, Phil tried to steal third. McCarver, behind the dish, had him right where he wanted him and fired 'er to Ken Boyer. Linz started back to second, a dead duck. But Boyer slipped and his throw went into centre. A Bobby Richardson double made it 1-0, New York. Roger Maris hit a single. When Mantle followed with a single to right, it was 2-0. Mike Shannon bobbled it and The Mick turned on the jets. Shannon nailed him at second. New York did not attempt to steal any more bases, but Mantle was caught off guard in the bottom of the second. On second after Roger Craig (who came into relieve starter Ray Sadecki) walked him and Elston Howard, Mickey went too far of a lead off the bag. Craig caught him there. St. Louis didn't do much on the basepaths. No stolen bases, doubles or triples. But a Ken Boyer grand slam in the top of the sixth erased a 3-0 Yankee lead and made the Cards 4-3 winners.

Game five was tied at two after nine inning. St. Louis got a stolen base in the top of the tenth. And it helped win the game. Bill White had walked to start the inning. Then Boyer beat out a ball hit to right that no one tried to field. White started towards third as Dick Groat batted. It was too late a break and he headed back to second. That convinced Elston Howard, the Yankee catcher, what to do. He fired towards second, not realizing it had all been a fake. As soon as Elston threw towards the bag at second, White turned on the jets and made it towards third. It was scored a steal. A three-run home run by Tim McCarver won the game for St. Louis, 5-2. The Cardinals had their first stolen base, and it was a dandly, and at such a crucial time.

But in game six back in St. Louis, it was the Yankees that absolutely unloaded on the Cardinals. The game was actually close for a while. A potential New York uprising was foiled in the top of the first. With one out, Bobby Richardson continued his assault on St. Louis pitching (he would finish this Fall Classic with thirteen hits) singled. But Curt Simmons, back for another fine start, fanned both Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

Simmons carried a 1-0 lead into the top of the 5th. But there, it was Tommy Tresh with a ground-rule double to left. A single by Jim Bouton tied the game. Simmons then gave up back-to-back home runs to Maris and Mantle in the next inning. When Joe Pepitone hit a grand slam in the top of the eighth, this thing was going to a seventh and deciding game. St. Louis did not get any stolen bases, but Lou Brock hit a double. Lou was stranded.

In game seven, two stolen bases may have been the crucial play.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, with St. Louis up 1-0, it was Tim McCarver on third and Mike Shannon on first. Then came a play I love to watch! Shannon broke towards second. When Elston Howard threw there, McCarver broke for home! Timmy beat the throw! Shannon was also save! A double steal! Shannon then trotted home on a single to right by Dal Maxvill!

Brock didn't steal a base in this game, obviously. But he belted reliever Al Downing's first pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning to deep right-centre for a home run. Two more runs scored on a single, a double, a groundout and a sac fly. Man, were the Cards ever scoring in every was possible here! It was also now 6-0 after five.

But Bob Gibson was tiring. And in the top of the sixth, it was Bobby Richardson beating out a roller to second. When Maris singled and Mantle went yard, the lead was cut in half, 6-3.

St. Louis got a little bit more breathing room in the bottom of the seventh as Ken Boyer hit his second home run of the series. But an attempt for more offence in the top of the ninth failed as McCarver tried to score from third on a infield grounder to Clete Boyer at third. There was only one out. The inning ended without a run touching home for St. Louis. And while it was a four-run lead now, Clete hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth to cut it to 7-4. When Phil Linz hit another solo home run with two outs, the lead was down to two, 7-5. Gibby finally got Richardson to end it.

The St. Louis Cardinals may have only stolen three bases, but all three led to the Cards getting a big inning in two crucial games. Speed was returning to the game, and where better to showcase it then in the Fall Classic?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Lou Brock was not on the Cardinals when the 1964 season started.

St. Louis looked to have little hope of making it to the Fall Classic that year as they were on a five-game losing streak in early June. Something changed for the better on June 15th, the day they lost 9-3 to Houston (Houston Colts, btw!). They traded Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz to Chicago for Lou Brock.

We have the advantage of hindsight in knowing this ended up being a steal for St. Louis. Brock stole many-a-base, right? But at the time Broglio had been pretty good. He won a league-leading 21 games for St. Louis in 1960 and posted an ERA of 2.74 ERA. After going just 9-12 the next season, Ernie turned it around. He was 12-9 in 19621, but his ERA was 3.00. The next year, he brought the ERA down under 3 at 2.99 and went 18-8.

So the guy is 21-9 for a W% of .700 and then three years later he's 18-8 for a .692 W%. Also, remember, in those years, Bob Gibson was sort of in Sandy Koufax's boat: he was getting there, but not quite there, yet!

Gibson went 3-5 as a rookie in 1959 and then was 3-6 in 1960. '61 saw the right-hander go 13-12 with an ERA of 3.24. The next year, Gibby was 15-13 with a 2.85 ERA. Finally, in 1963, he matched Broglio with 18 wins. His ERA was forty points higher, however. 3.39.

Broglio was struggling in 1964 for St. Louis, though. Despite a fine ERA at 3.50, his W-L record was just 3-5. So St. Louis decided to unload him for the speedster. He and Clemens (not Roger Clemens, remember) did little the rest of way in 1964. And then they both did even less the rest of their careers.

Shantz ended up joining the Phillies, who the Cardinals had to later catch to win the flag. All Bobby did was go 1-1 with Philly, post a 2.25 ERA in 14 games (32 IP), and end up winning his eighth straight gold glove award. He retired after 1964.

So Brock was out to make it a steal. Well, he ended up stealing 43 bases in 1964, which did not lead the league. But his 18 times caught stealing did lead the league.

So how did our boy do in the Fall Classic that year? He ended up hitting .300. But he did have some games where you didn't notice him.

However, in game one, New York sure took notice of the fleet-footed leftfielder. The Yankees watched helplessly as Brock scored the first run of the game, and later collected two RBIs to help power the Cardinals to a 9-5 win. But he also had to watch helplessly as Tom Tresh smacked a two-run home run over his head. That longball erased the 1-0 Cardinal lead Brock had provided by touching home in the bottom of the first.

Brock knocked in another run in game two, but it was too late. The Yankees had scored four times against the great Bob Gibson and by the time Brock did the trick, it was the eighth inning and Gibby had been removed for a pinch hitter. Brock's RBI made it a little closer, 4-2, New York. The top of the ninth saw Phil Linz blast a solo home run over Brock's head to restore the three-run bulge. The Bronx Bombers really went away after that and won, 8-3. It was on the Bronx for games three, four and five.

Brock did nothing in game three, and his 0-4 performance brought his batting average to .154. Worse, still, St. Louis lost the game 2-1, and also trailed 2-1 in the series.

Brock had another frustrating game in the fourth tilt. St. Louis had to rally from 3-0 down to win the game 4-3. But Brock went 0-4 and fanned against Ralph Terry in the top of the eighth. St. Louis had tied the Fall Classic, but they needed Lou to do the trick if they were going to pull this thing out!

In game five, Brock did deliver. His single in the top of the fifth scored Bob Gibson. Then, he singled in the top of the seventh. That's as far as he got, however. St. Louis needed ten innings to win this game, 5-2. It was "Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie" for game six.

There, Brock and his mates looked to settle this thing once and for all. But New York, which had given St. Louis all they could handle from the get-go of this series, erupted for another 8-3 win. Brock did go 3-4, raising his average up to .269. But, get this, none of his hits got him an RBI. And, he failed to touch home!

So in game seven, he smacked a home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. St. Louis was up 6-0 by the end of that frame. Mickey Mantle's three-run home run in the top of the sixth soared over Brock's head in left, and cut the lead in half.

Ken Boyer went yard himself as St. Louis had some breathing room again in the bottom of the seventh, 7-3. St. Louis then got runners to second and third with only one in the next inning, as Bob Gibson held the fort. Any more offence did not seem necessary. A fielder's choice by Gibson and a lineout by Curt Flood meant that Brock did not get to bat that inning. Even so, it was 7-3 St. Louis still!

But Ken Boyer's younger brother Clete went yard over Brock's head in left in the ninth. The Yankees were back to within three runs, but down to their last two outs. When Gibson fanned pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard, the Cards seemed safe. But then Phil Linz hit a ball to left that Brock looked like he'd have a chance on. A leap at the last minute...and the ball went over his glove and into the stands. That home run made it a 7-5 game. Gibson retired Bobby Richardson to end that. It had been seven long, tough, games. But it was in the Cards for St. Louis to win.

Lou Brock had started the 1964 season on a team that had never won the World Series since 1908 (and still haven't). He ended up on the team that had won it more than any other National League team. And while this performance was not quite MVP worthy (Bob Gibson actually got it), St. Louis had look back to June 15th of that season, when they were 28-31. They made the trade for one of the greatest leadoff hitters ever. The deal was a risk, as both Broglio and Shantz had proven to be very good pitchers. But Brock was someone who could take over the game with the wheels (and occasional power). With speed returning to the game, his hitting and daring base running were in need by St. Louis many a time in the Fall Classic. And Brock would get better and better with his World Series performances. But that's for another blog!

Monday, September 15, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Dick Groat and Bob Skinner faced the New York Yankees in the 1960 and 1964 Fall Classic. In '60, they were on the Pittsburgh Pirates. In '64 they were teammates on the St. Louis Cardinals.

Groat went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored in game 1 of the 1960 World Series. Also in that game, Skinner went 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Bob also added a stolen base that led to him touching home. Their efforts were rewarded as the Pirates took game one, 6-4. Neither would be as affective again in this Fall Classic. Skinner himself was replaced in left field with Gino Cimoli in the top of the eighth.

Cimoli played the entire second game, and Groat managed just one hit. The Yankees pounded the Pirates into oblivion in this contest, led by Mickey Mantle's two home runs. The final score was 16-3.

The 1960 World Series, which had started in Pittsburgh, now moved to New York. It was more of the same in game three for the Pirates. Another blowout, 10-0 for New York. Groat, facing Whitey Ford, went hitless in four trips to the plate. Skinner watched this one from the clubhouse, and probably thought it would all be over in two more games.

But Pittsburgh took game four, 3-2. The only problem was that Groat was again 0-4 and Skinner took it all in from the dugout.

In game five, the Pirates plundered the Yankees 5-2, behind a fine pitching effort of Harvey Haddix. Groat got his first hit since game one, but it was just that. In going 1-4, he scored a run. But how about our boy Skinner? Nothing doing, is all I can write.

Groat was back in game six back in the state of Pennsylvania. But Whitey Ford started this one, and threw another shutout. And for the third time in this 1960 Fall Classic, it was a Yankee rout. 12-0. Groat picked up another hit, but it took him another four tries. Skinner took it in for the fifth straight game.

Skinner was finally back in the winner-take-all game seven. He walked and scored on Rocky Nelson's home run in the bottom of the first. Pittsburgh went up 4-0 in this game, then fell behind 7-4 by the end of seven and a half.

Groat, though, singled in the bottom of the eighth off Bobby Shantz. Then Skinner moved him and Bill Virdon up with a bunt. The Pirates used that to eventually take the lead. While the Yankees came back to tie it in the top of the ninth, it was Pittsburgh with the 1960 World Series crown as Bill Mazeroski hit a dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Pittsburgh had a 10-9, game seven win.

So in 1964, it was Groat and Skinner looking to help another team beat New York.

Groat started game one, against Whitey Ford, in St. Louis. This time, Groat's team managed to beat Ford, 9-5. Groat had a hit and a walk. Neither figured into the scoring. Skinner sat it out.

In game two, St. Louis lost 8-3. Groat again had a hit and a walk. This time, however, he scored a run. Skinner got into the game as a pinch hitter. He matched Groat's production by getting a single. But he was stranded.

In game three in New York, Skinner was almost the hero.

Dick Groat, meanwhile, got a hit. It was a double against New York's Jim Bouton. The Cardinals seemed destined to break a 1-1 deadlock at this point as the loaded the bases. However, they failed to score. In the top of the ninth, with Tim McCarver on second and Carl Warwick on first, Bob Skinner went up to bat for pitcher Curt Simmons, who had more than done his job in this game. It was still tied at one. Skinner got the pitch he wanted, a fastball up in the strike zone. He hammered it to deep centre. Roger Maris went all the way to the warning track before he finally got to this one. So close. Mickey Mantle won the game in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off home run off Barney Schultz.

Groat got one hit in game four. It did not result in St. Louis scoring. However, he reached on an error in the top of the sixth inning. Then, he scored a run on Ken Boyer grand slam home run. That turned a 3-0 Yankee lead into a 4-3 Cardinal advantage. St. Louis ended up winning the game by that score. Skinner did not get to the plate or the field in this contest.

In game five, Skinner watched as Bob Gibson stuck out thirteen Yankees. But the contest was tied at two at the end of nine. In the top of the tenth, Bill White walked and Ken Boyer beat out a bunt. It was Groat to the plate, and his job was the same as Boyer's: Eliminate the double play!

He tried to bunt, but missed. White, running on the play to third, made a fake back to second. But when Yankee catcher Elston Howard threw to second to nail him, White turned on the jets and made it to third. The play was crucial, as Groat ended up forcing Boyer at second. When Tim McCarver ripped a three-run home run to right, St. Louis had what they needed to win, 5-2.

So, it was New York with their backs to the wall in game six, back in St. Louis. Dick Groat had a tough time against Jim Bouton, failing to get a hit in four trips to the plate.  Curt Simmons kept St. Louis in the game, as he had in game three. The game not only tied, but again tied at one. But when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle went downtown off Simmons in the top of the sixth inning, St. Louis needed some runs. An Elston Howard single in the top of the eighth made it 4-1, New York. Then it was New York's turn to get a grand slam, this time off the bat of Joe Pepitone. 8-1, Yankees. St. Louis managed to get one run back in the bottom of the eighth as Bill White grounded out. But Dick Groat ended up being the last out of that inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, St. Louis again had a mild uprising. With one out, Mike Shannon hit a single. Then Jerry Buckek, who had entered the game a defensive replacement, singled. Bob Humphreys had held New York scoreless in the ninth, but now his spot was up. So Bob Skinner batted for him. The Cardinals had finally found a way to get rid of Jim Bouton. New York then went to the bullpen and brought in Steve Hamilton to face Skinner. Hamilton, an ex-basketball player, was a lefty at 6'6, two inches taller than Skinner.

And he came through! Singling to centre, Shannon scored to make it 8-3. There were two runners on and only one out. But Curt Flood hit into a game-ending double play. This Fall Classic was going to the seventh game, just like in 1960.

In game seven, there was not going to be any pinch hitting by St. Louis, with Bob Gibson back on the hill. Bobby was sitting 'er out!

Groat came up to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Cards up 4-0. His ground ball out made it 5-0. St. Louis, as it turned out, needed still another run. Tim McCarver flew out to Mantle in right, but Ken Boyer scored from third after the catch. 6-0.

New York was not done as Mickey Mantle hit a three-run home run in the top of the sixth. That seemed to wake up the Yankees, as they started to make better contact.

A home run by Ken Boyer in the bottom of the seventh put St. Louis up by four runs, 7-3. But Gibson tired and allowed a dinger by Ken's younger brother Clete in the top of the ninth. Another home run by Phil Linz made it 7-5 before Bob finally got the last out.

Both Groat and Skinner were going to be almost afterthoughts on a team that had Roberto Clemente, Bill Virdon, Dick Stuart, Bill Mazeroski, Bob Friend, Vernon Law, Harvey Haddix and Elroy Face.

And there was no chance that anyone would think of them on a team with Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Ken Boyer, Bill White, Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson, Curt Simmons, Ray Sadecki. The Pirates of 1960 and the Cardinals of 1964 might have won it all without Dick Groat and Bob Skinner.

But let's look at their stats in 1960 and 1964. Groat won the batting title in '60 with a .325 average. He also led Pittsburgh with a .371 on-base percentage. Skinner was no slough, either. All he did was knock in 86 runs (second on the team behind Clemente's 94) hit .273 (and post a .340 OBP). He even played in the all-star game.

In '64 it was Dick Groat with 70 RBIs despite only hitting one home run. And he batted .292. Skinner hit about what he did in '60, .271. But even as a reserve, he had to take a backseat to Charlie James and Carl Warwick, who both played in 88 games. Skinner appeared in just 55 games.

So while both Groat and Skinner were perhaps overlooked, they sure made things a little easier for two teams that to beat a great Yankee team in the fall.

More from Dick Groat

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Three of the first four batters Sandy Koufax faced in his first ever game were Hall Of Famers.

The lefty came into game one of the 1959 Fall Classic with his Los Angeles Dodgers down 11-0. The game was already over. The Chicago White Sox and their fans were enjoying this blowout immensely! Sandy did his best to try and give Los Angeles some hope. However, it seemed like a case of, "Good luck there, pal", as the Sox had routed Roger Craig, Chuck Churm before Clem Labine got some assemblence of order by getting the last three Chicago batters out in the fourth. Labine left the game for a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth, however. Los Angeles was running out of pitchers for this game. Of the 35 games that Sandy Koufax had pitched that year, 23 were starts. So this must have felt like an odd assignment. Not helping matters was the fact that Koufax had only pitched only six times in Los Angeles' last twenty-five games.

Sandy took the hill in the bottom of the fifth. And behind by eleven runs, he had to do something to stop the bleeding! Jim Rivera, not in the Hall Of Fame, was the first batter to face him. Sandy got him to fly out to Norm Larker in right. Early Wynn became the first Hall Of Famer for Sandy. Who would have thought that it was one great pitcher, on his way to Cooperstown, batting against someone else who would also be there?

But Sandy fanned him, for the second out of the inning. When Luis Aparicio lined out to left, Sandy was 2-2 in facing immortals in this affair.

Nellie Fox led of the bottom of the sixth for Chicago. And Koufax got him to line out to left, as well. That's three straight Hall Of Famers! Sandy wasn't done yet. He retired Jim Landis on a grounder to shorts. When Ted Kluszewski also grounded out, but to second, the inning was over. Koufax had retired the first six batters to face him.

Koufax left the game in the top of the seventh as Ron Fairly pinch hit for him. Los Angeles held Chicago to just one more hit and no runs the rest of the way, but the Dodgers never touched home at all in this game. So it was no big deal.

But it must have been to Sandy. Los Angeles had sort of given up on him in September of 1959, despite the fact that he fanned 18 batters on August 31st of that year. In the two starts surrounding that, he fanned 23 batters in only 19 innings. His record was 8-5 and his ERA was 3.68 after those three gems. Yet Los Angeles was in a pennant drive and didn't seem to think they needed him. They did in game one of that year's Fall Classic, however. And Los Angeles would need him again before the World Series was over.

Sandy took the hill in game five, as the Dodgers came back and won games two, three and four. Sandy did more than enough to close it out, as he allowed just one earned run over seven innings of work. When the game was over, however, that run proved to be the only time that someone touched home. Sandy had to settle on a fine, five-hit loss. Aparicio and Fox went 3-7 in the game, and Early Wynn did not pitch.

The Dodgers also had some Hall Of Famers on the field. In addition to Koufax, you had Don Drysdale, another pitcher. Then you had Duke Snider, the outfielder. But only Snider had it wrapped up at that point. Drysdale was coming along. Sandy was not getting the outings, but was sure proving he was capable.

With a sixteen strikeout performance earlier in the season, to go along with his eighteen K game in August, Sandy Koufax was beginning to serve notice. He finished the year with only a 8-6 record (and 0-1 in the World Series) and a 4.05 ERA. But with 173 K's that year in only 153 1/3 innings pitched, plus two fine performances in the battle for world supremency in baseball, he was turning into a dandy Sandy!

World Series: Did You Know?

The Yankees and Cardinals had two Hall of Famers apiece in the 1964 World Series. A pitcher, and a positioned hitter.

St. Louis started the year with only one, Bob Gibson. The pitcher was a few years away from cementing his place in Cooperstown. Lou Brock was not acquired until the season was about half way old.

New York had two men who were already in, no matter what would happen the rest of their careers. Mickey Mantle, who owned almost every World Series record you could shake a stick at. That is, as a batter. Whitey Ford, the Yankee hurler, owns many Fall Classic records himself.

But Ford, who started the first game, was not on his game. His arm had been injured late in the season and he was pitching with his heart and little else. The Cardinals scored the first run of the 1964 Fall Classic off him. Game one was at home and St. Louis got the crowd into it early. After Mantle and New York were retired in the top of the first, Brock scored the game's first run on a sac fly to Mantle in right. The Yankees came right back with three runs of their own in the top of the second, with Ford himself driving in the third.

Whitey Ford took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but his arm began to fail him. With one out, Mike Shannon belted a towering two-run home run to left to tie the game. When Tim McCarver followed with a double between Mantle and Roger Maris, Whitey was gone from the mound forever in the Fall Classic. St. Louis went on to win the game, 9-5. Mantle did get two hits in a losing efforts, but Brock matched him with two hits himself. Plus, he got two RBIs.

In game two, Bob Gibson took the hill for the first time in his career. He started out fast, but St. Louis' offence seemed to stall as Brock went 0-4. Gibson seemed to have Mantle's number, as he held him to without a hit. Mickey, however, opened the top of the sixth with a walk. Gibby, having fanned him twice, hit Joe Pepitone with one out. Tom Tresh hit a bouncer that made into left to Brock, and New York was ahead 2-1 at this point. The Yankees smothered Gibson the next inning, scoring twice more. Mantle got an RBI on an infield out. He got another on a sharp double in the top of the ninth off Barney Schultz. New York had this game, going away, 8-3. The Mick sure silenced the St. Louis fans with two runs and two RBIs.

And in game three in New York, Mantle hit a dramatic game-winning, walk-off home run. Lou Brock was again held to no hits. The game was tied at one going into the bottom of the ninth. But Mantle hit Schultz's first pitch to deep right for a home run that won the game.

In game four, Mantle drove in Bobby Richardson with a single to right off Ray Sadecki to make it 2-0, New York. Maris, on first, made it to third and Mantle tried for second. This, all because of right fielder Mike Shannon bobbling the ball. Mickey was out at second. Maris trotted home with New York's third run on a single by Howard. Mickey made another mistake as he was picked off second base in the bottom of the third. He walked again in the bottom of the eighth. St. Louis won the game on a grand slam by Ken Boyer in the top of the sixth innig, the only runs the Cards would score as it erased a 3-0 deficit. And with the 4-3, the 1964 Fall Classic was tied. Brock was again held scoreless.

Bob Gibson returned to the hill in game five, with the Series' lead on the line. He was awesome. Gibby fanned thirteen Yankees, gave up just six hits, and only two walks. Mantle was one of them. Lou Brock came through with a single to score Bob Gibson with the first run of the game in the top of the fifth. He finished the game with two hits. Mantle had none, but reached on an error and scored a run in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees, down two runs, tied the game. But Tim McCarver untied with a three-run home run in the top of the tenth, and Gibson had his first World Series win.

In game six in St. Louis, it was Lou Brock with three hits. But he somehow failed to drive in a run, or even score one. Mantle, meanwhile, came to the dish in the top of the sixth. His pal, Roger Maris, had just gone yard to put New York up 2-1. On cue, The Mick went yard, too. In the top of the eighth, Mantle scored one of the five Yankee runs after walking intentionally. New York won 8-3 to send it to the limit.

Bob Gibson was back for game seven. He was trying to put New York away for good. The Cardinals did all they could top help him. They scored three times in the bottom of the fourth, and then Lou Brock belted Al Downing's first offering to right-centre for a solo home run the next frame, starting another three-run uprising. With a 6-0 lead, Gibby seemed to have this one. But Mantle hit a three-run home run to cut the lead in half. Brock did nothing else the rest of the game and neither did Mantle, but all St. Louis could get after that was one run. Meanwhile, Gibby was nailed for a home run by Clete Boyer on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the ninth, just two outs away from victory. Then, only one out away from it all, Phil Linz hit a solo blast of his own to left, which Brock tried his best to catch! It was only 7-5, now! Gibson got it together and retired Bobby Richardson (who had eight hits off him this Fall Classic) on a pop-up to end it.

For Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, the 1964 World Series was a last hurrah. They never returned to the Fall Classic. They left behind plenty of records. Mickey has the most home runs in a World Series career with 18. Ford has the record for most wins, lifetime, with 10.

For Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, it was just the beginning of their World Series exploits. Gibson set several pitching records of his own, including the most strikeouts in one game. Brock is tied for most World Series hits in one Series with 13, and in also tied for most career stolen bases with 14. He also twice stole seven bases in one World Series, which is also a record.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Both Roger Craig and Sandy Koufax of the 1959 Dodgers missed out on leading the league in two important categories! They also both pitched in game one, an 11-0 loss! For good measure, they each started a game at home as Los Angeles battled Chicago in a very entertaining Fall Classic that year.

Sam Jones of the San Francisco Giants led the National League with an ERA of 2.83. But it was Craig posting a 2.01. Alas, he had tossed just 153 innings that year. Not enough for the requirements. Actually, since the Dodgers played 156 games, he needed three more innings pitched. The interesting thing is, Craig's ERA was less than Amercian League leader Hoyt Wilhelm's 2.19! So Craig was that close to leading all pitchers that year.

Sandy Koufax fanned 173 batters that season in 153 1/3 innings pitched. The K's alone were good enough for third in the National League in 1959. But he also averaged 10.2 K's per 9 innings. That would have led not only the NL, (teammate Don Drysdale averaged about 8 to top the Senior Circuit), but also the majors, as Herb Score led the AL in that department with 8.2

So Craig started game one of the 1959 World Series against the Chicago White Sox. It was over almost as soon as it had began. The White Sox scored twice of Craig in the bottom of the first, then scored seven more runs in the bottom of the third. Craig gave up five of them.

Koufax took over in the bottom of the fifth. By then, it was 11-0, Chicago. Sandy pitched well, getting the side in order in his two innings of work. And his replacement, Johhny Kippstein, also tossed two shutout innings. So the White Sox did not score a run in their last four innings. But it was, of course, too late. Chicago shutout Los Angeles for all nine innings of this game and won, 11-0.

After Los Angeles took the next two games, they were in a situation where if Craig and Koufax could come through, this Fall Classic would suddenly be over. The World Series had shifted to the west coast for games three, four and five. Some pitching here would insure that it would not return to Chicago!

Roger took the hill in game four, which was huge. He carried a 4-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning, and looked in complete control. But three singles and a home run by Sherman Lollar tied the game. Craig got Billy Goodman on a K, but now the Dodgers needed some offence again.

They got it, in the form of one run. And Los Angeles held on to win, 5-4. But the run scored in the bottom of the eighth, and by then it was Larry Sherry pitching for the Dodgers. Craig was left with the no decision. But with the win, it was Los Angeles up on Chicago, three games to one in the 1959 World Series.

Koufax pitched better in his first start than Craig did in either of his, but came away even worse. Sandy went seven strong innings. He gave up just five hits, one walk and fanned six. In the top of the fourth with runners on the corners and no outs, Sandy induced Sherman Lollar to hit into a double play. Nellie Fox, on third, scored on the play. It proved to be the only run despite a performance from Sandy and a two-inning shutout, hitless relief stint from Stan Williams. Bob Shaw, who gave up nine hits for Chicago, got the shutout with some help of his own from Dick Donovan. Chicago was heading home down three games to two.

Los Angeles wrapped it up in the Windy City by taking game six, 9-3.

Sandy Koufax and Roger Craig are unlikely to be remembered as contributors to the Los Angeles triumph of 1959. For Craig, it was his third World Series appearance. But for Koufax it was his first. Both would go on to pitch more in the Fall Classic. Sandy in 1963, 1965 and 1966. Craig helped St. Louis win in 1964. Maybe Los Angeles could have won without them, but they both got valuable experience out of this.

And with Craig's fine ERA and Sandy's unprecedented strikeouts per nine innings mark, the Dodgers had the two best in both those areas, even if they were not the recognized leaders in either! Both also showcased some tremendous pitching in Craig's first six innings of his second start and in Koufax's two outings!

World Series: Did You Know?

Julian Javier, one of the St. Louis Cardinals "other" stars of 1964, missed almost all of the Fall Classic that year with a hip injury.

Having also suffered from a sore back that year, he was only able to make a sole appearance in game one. The Cards did not need him again, I guess.

Having hit 12 home runs and knocked in 65 runs must have been encouraging. But his batting average was just .241, and that may have contributed to him being used so little, as well. The previous year, 1963, Javier had been an all-star and hit .265. His position at second base was taken by Dal Maxvill, who could play both short and second. But Maxill had only played 37 games that season. Dick Groat, one amazing player, was at short.

Javier's moment came in the bottom of the sixth inning of game one. St. Louis opposed the New York Yankees in that classic 1964 World Series. Down 4-2 against Whitey Ford, the Cardinals fought back that inning.

Ken Boyer got it going with a single. Elston Howard then could not get a hold of one of Ford's pitches and the speedy Ken motored into second. Ford did manage to fan Bill White for the first out, but it proved to be the last batter Ford got out. Mike Shannon launched a mammoth home run to left, which hit the "B" of the Budweiser signs. That tied the game, 4-4. St. Louis was not done as Tim McCarver hit a double between Roger Maris in centre and Mickey Mantle in right.

Al Downing took over for Ford and and got Charlie James, the pinch hitter, to pop out to Bobby Richardson at second. The Cardinals sent up another pinch hitter, Carl Warwick (batting for pitcher Ray Sadecki) to try his luck against the hard-throwing Yankee lefty. He managed to get a ball that just squeaked by Phil Linz, the shortstop, for a single that scored McCarver. That made it 5-4, St. Louis. Warwick very alertly took second on the throw home. Enter Julian Javier to pinch run for Warwick at second.

Curt Flood then sent a fly ball to left. Tom Tresh seemed to lose track of the ball. He would later say he lost it in the sun. At the last minute he turned to try and find it, but the ball hit the wall and bounced far enough away from him that Javier was able to score. Flood took third but would ultimately stranded as Lou Brock grounded out. St. Louis, though had a valuable insurance run and now led, 6-4.

Javier took second. The Yankees got a single and a walk to put the tying run at first before the side was retired in the top of the seventh. New York just kept coming at you. They never quit. Julian did not make a fielding play. The way New York was hitting the ball, he might not wanted one!

The Cardinals were retired in order by Downing in the bottom of the frame, and New York looked to tie it in the top of the eighth. With one out, Johnny Blanchard, who made almost a career out of pinch hitting heroics for New York in the regular season and postseason, batted for Downing and hit a double. Mike Hegan then joined Julian Javier in pinch running duties and came in to run for Blanchard. And like Javier again, Hegan soon scored.

Linz grounded out to Boyer at third. But Bobby Richardson, who made it a habit of hitting well in the postseason, singled to score Hegan. The lead was cut to one, 6-5. The Yankees, with some momentum, then got a single by Roger Maris. The hit was to Javier at second. Javier managed to keep it from going to the outfield, but could not stop Richardson from making it to third. Now, the tying run was ninety feet away, the go-ahead run was on first, and The Mick was at the dish!

Barney Schultz, who took over for Sadecki after his removal for a pinch hitter earlier, needed to get 'em out. Mantle send one to Julian, who threw Mickey out at first.

Mike Shannon started the bottom of the eighth for the Cardinals by making it to first on an error by Ken Boyer's younger brother Clete. Rollie Sheldon, one of the fine New York relievers, then threw a passed ball. A walk to McCarver put two on with nobody out. But manager Johnny Keane let Schultz bat for himself and Barney lined the ball back to Sheldon. Rollie not only caught it, he then whirled and fired to Joe Pepitone at first to complete a double play. McCarver had taken off and was in no position to scamper back to first in time. Shannon was still at second.

Javier was scheduled to bat next, but Bob Skinner hit for him. The Yankees decided to walk him intentionally. New York then brought in Pete Mikkelsen to pitch. But St. Louis sent Jerry Buchek to run for Skinner.

Curt Flood, the centerfielder, singled to left to score McCarver. When Lou Brock went the other way on a double to left, Buchek and Flood both scored to make it 9-5, Cardinals. That would be the final score.

St. Louis went on to win the World Series of 1964 in seven games. Julian Javier did not make it into another game. You never know if you are going to get another chance to play in the Fall Classic as a player, but Javier made it back to the Fall Classic in 1967, 1968 and again in 1972. They say there's nothing as sweet as the first time, but you do want to be there on the field when you win it all, right? Sometimes the first time can be bittersweet, too!

Monday, September 1, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The White Sox of 1917 were not only no-hit in back-to-back games, they also got a no-hitter for! And Eddie Cicotte who threw it (and then helped throw the 1919 World Series), was also the losing pitcher in one of the games where Chicago was shutout in back-to-back games!

Cicotte was one of the best pitchers in baseball at the time. In 1917, two years prior to the fixed Fall Classic, he led the American League in wins with 28 and in ERA, 1.53!

But his grand moment on that honest 1917 season was his very first start on April 14. There, facing the St. Louis Browns on the road, Eddie had "it" on the mound! His teammates also were doing the job. Except for Buck Weaver and Chick Gandil (Weaver admitted he attended two such meetings where the fix of the 1919 World Series was planned, but took no money. Gandil was the ringleader in the arrangement) every White Sox got a hit. But Joe Jackson got just one hit!

But Cicotte could not have cared at what Jackson (or anyone else) was doing at this point. Backed by eleven runs on ten hits, Eddie was on cruise control. Better still, Chicago scored a run in the top of the first. It was all Eddie would need, but the Sox added seven more in the top of the second! So very early on the only question that remained was whether Eddie Cicotte would get the shutout and no-hitter.

Got it, he did, although he walked three batters and Chick Gandil made the only error for Chicago. But the Browns made five. Cicotte also hit a batter on the day where he faced just 31 batters.

Cicotte though, took a 1-0 loss to the very same Browns on May 5th. This time, it was St. Louis with the no-hitter. But Eddie, who allowed just five hits and one unearned run, faced just 30 batters in this game. Interesting to note, it was also a road game. Three members of the suspected or proven fixers contributed to the five Chicago walks on this day. Jackson and Cicotte had two and Swede Risberg had the other one. The Browns made two more errors in this game, and it was Swede Risberg (a proven fixer) with Chicago's only miscue. Cicotte's record was 2-2 at this point. But he went 26-10 the rest of the season.

Eddie Cicotte would add a two-hitter against New York on May 13th and then a one-hitter against Washington on July 17th. His no-hitter was no fluke, as you can see.

But how about the Fall Classic in 1917?

He got the start in the opening tilt against the New York Giants. And he got the win, too!

The White Sox got only seven hits, and none were by Shoeless Joe or Buck Weaver. Weaver also made the White Sox only error in the game. It did not figure into the scoring. Nor did the Giants only miscue of the opening act. But Cicotte limited New York to just one run. That, coupled with the Sox's two runs, was enough for Eddie's first postseason win!

In game three, with Chicago looking to go up 3-0 in the best-of-seven affair, it was up to Eddie to deliver. He fired a fine eighth-hitter, and New York only scored twice in the entire game. But Chicago made three errors in the game (one by Cicotte) and collected only five hits themselves. Joe Jackson was again held hitless!

Still another hitless game by Jackson and another shutout by New York in game four and the 1917 World Series was all square at two!

Cicotte was then needed in game five, as White Sox starter Reb Russell was knocked out in the top of the first, failing to retire a single batter. A run was already in by the time Eddie made it to the mound. Another would score before Cicotte got 'em out of there.

The Giants eventually stretched their lead to 4-1 before Chicago rallied. However, before the winning run was scored Eddie Cicotte was out of the game. He was relieved by Lefty Williams, who like Cicotte was another proven fixer in the debacle two years later. Williams gave up a run in his only inning of work. The winning run was scored in the bottom of the eighth. Red Faber would be the winning pitcher in this game. Shoeless Joe got three hits this time around. The Chicago White Sox would go on to win this series in six games.

The White Sox did not quite give it their all in the 1919 World Series. Even two years earlier, they seemed to be unable to play to their potential in select times in the regular season and post-season. But Cicotte, with his no-hitter in his first regular season start, and fine effort in his first World Series start, was able to lift Chicago when they needed it the most!

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.