Thursday, May 29, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Kurt Bevacqua was the last DH in a national league park.

The Designated Hitter, which was used in every AL ballpark starting in 1973, wasn't used in the World Series until 1976. From there, even years DH. Odd years, no DH. Every World Series game. But starting in 1986, the designated hitter was only used in Amercian League ballparks.

The San Diego Padres were looking overmatched in the 1984 World Series against a Detroit team that started out 35-5. And just to prove that they were for real, they beat the Padres 3-2 in game one of the 1984 Fall Classic. Close, but no cigar for the Padres. A loss in game 2, and it's off to Detroit for three games. But down 2-0? Game five would not be necessary, for sure.

Detroit wasted no time in getting 'er going in game 2. Picking off where they'd left off from the opening tilt, the Tigers touched home three times in the top of the second inning. Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish and Darrell Evans each got an RBI. The Tigers' DH, Johnny Grubb hit a single, but it did not fair into the scoring. Was Detroit setting the tone?

San Diego actually got one back in the bottom of the first as Greg Nettles got a sac fly to score Alan Wiggins. Bevacqua led off the second for the Padres and was retired on a ground ball to Evans at third.

Bevacqua led off the bottom of the fourth against Tigers' starter Dan Petry. This time he singled. After a strikeout and another single, Bobby Brown got the job done for San Diego. His ground out scored the Padres' DH. 3-2, Detroit. Wiggins hit another single to keep the ball rolling, but one run would be all San Diego got.

Andy Hawkins, who relieved battered starter Ed Whitson, was keeping Detroit off the scoreboard following the first. He got 'em 1-2-3 in the top of the 5th. Our boy put the icing on the cake in the bottom of the frame.

Steve Garvey led off by flying out. But Nettles walked. Then Terry Kennedy, the catcher, singled. Guess who's next?

Bevacqua stroked a three-run home run on the second pitch by Petry. It was now 5-3 San Diego! How about that? DH stood for designated hero on this day for San Diego! It was also the end of the line for Petry.

Grubb was pinch-hit for by Rusty Kuntz in the top of the 7th. He fanned. Bevacqua also batted in San Diego's half of the 7th. Now facing Bill Scherrer, Kurt hit a single. It was his last plate appearance. When the next batter hit into a double play, the inning was over and San Diego still led, 5-3.

With two outs and Kuntz in the on deck circle, Larry Herndon popped out to second. San Diego had won the game 5-3. But the Padres would lose all three games in Detroit as the Tigers won the 1984 World Series, four games to one.

Bevacqua might be best remembered as mentioned in between profanities by Tommy Lasorda during a memorable blow-up, but in Fall Classic history, he's the man in game 2 for the San Diego Padres back in 1984. The last DH in a national league park in the World Series, as well!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The 1973 World Series was the 17th one that Yogi Berra had participated in. He'd come a long way, having first appeared in 1947. 17 World Series appearances in 27 years for the guy with all the quotes. His one, "It ain't over 'till it's over," was in reference to his 1973 New York Mets, who he was managing.

Berra had quite a World Series career, be it as a player, first base coach, or manager. It all started when he hit the first-ever pinch-hit home run in the World Series back in 1947 (off Ralph Branca!). The Yankees, facing the Dodgers, went on to win the Fall Classic that year in seven games. Berra seemed to be the guy in the clutch.

Some of Berra's World Series accomplishments have been forgotten, however. One of his best Fall Classic performances came in 1955, when Yogi hit .417. The Yankees ultimatley lost the series in seven games to the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was something that had not happen to them before. It was also Yogi's first World Series defeat after six triumphs. The Dodgers got to sip champagne for the first time. It was also Yogi Berra that hit the flyball to Sandy Amoros, where the Cuban-born outfielder made a spectacular catch.

The next year, it was Berra with three home runs, ten RBIs and a .360 batting average. But no one remembers that, because the 1956 World Series is always remembered for game five, where Don Larsen threw that only perfect game (and let alone a no-hitter) in World Series history. But it was Yogi Berra that caught it. Behind the plate, he must have called (almost) all those 97 pitches of Larsen's brillantly. Larsen only went 3 and 2 on one batter!

Berra hit .320 the next year against the Braves. However, once again, the Yankees tasted the bitter pill of defeat. As before against the Dodgers in '55, it was 7 games. Yogi was good for only one home run and two RBI, however! The Yankees got revenge the new year, but Berra hit only .222!

Yogi, like many of his teammates, had an excellent Fall Classic in 1960 against the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates. The Yankees won game two, 16-3, game three, 10-0 and game six, 12-0. Yogi caught game one, but played game two in left field. In game three, he came in as a defensive replacement and went 1-1. Yogi was back behind the dish in game four, but New York lost 3-2. Yogi came in to game five to pinch-hit for Elston Howard, who was catching. In his only at-bat of the game (which was in the 8th innings), Berra grounded out against Elroy Face. He caught the top of the 9th, but the Yankees lost, 5-2 to Harvey Haddix. Yogi went 3-4 in game six with three runs scored and two RBIs.

In game seven, Yogi was in left field. The Yankees trailed 4-2 in the top of the 6th inning. But with Mickey Mantle on first and Tony Kubek on third, Yogi got his revenge against Face. Blasting a towering three-run home run to right, New York was ahead, 5-2. Then things looked better for New York in the top of the seventh. But here's what happened from there:

Ouch. That was a tough one for Yogi and many of his teammates. For his part, Yogi had a home run, eight RBIs, six runs scored and batted .318. But all that didn't seem to matter, now did it?

Getting into four of the five games of the 1961 World Series, Yogi hit .273, but hit another home run and three RBIs. The Yankees won in it this time against the Cincinatti Reds. But his, and Mantle's steady veteran prescence could not be accounted for in just stats at this point. There was more. The 1961 Yankees were one of the all-time great teams in baseball and Yogi had been on the Yankees the longest at this point. Whitey Ford joined in 1950 and Mantle the next year. And Yogi now had nine rings to his name!

And he would get enough to fill all the fingers the next year. While Yogi Berra got only two at-bats and failed to get a hit in both, New York beat San Francisco in seven games. Berra also walked twice in the 1962 World Series.

1963 saw the Yankees lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers in four straight. Berra only played in 64 games in the regular season, but hit .293. In the World Series, which was his last as a player, he only came to bat once. In the top of the 8th inning of game three, Yogi pinch-hit for Jim Bouton with one out. He connected well, but could only line out to right against Don Drysdale, who shutout New York, 1-0. A 2-1 win by Los Angeles behind the pitching of Sandy Koufax finished off the Yankees for good in game four.

Yogi took over from Ralph Houk as the Yankee manager in 1964. New York was and old team. Ford's arm hurt almost all year, Bouton's bothered him for a time. Mantle was nearing the end. Despite this, Yogi kept 'em all cool and they won the pennant. They came oh-so-close to beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, falling to Bob Gibson 7-5 in game seven. Yogi was then fired!

But he joined New York's other team, the Mets in 1965, and even ended up playing the last four games of his career there. It must have seemed like old times in a way for Yogi, as New York was managed by Casey Stengel, who the Yankees had fired after the 1960 World Series. Must have something to do with losing the World Series in seven games. Casey Stengel managed his last year in 1965, being replaced during the season. Yogi was not through, however.

In 1969, with ex-Dodger Gil Hodges managing, New York made and won the World Series over Baltimore. Yogi Berra was the first base coach, but it was not long before he was back managing in the World Series. In the meantime, Yogi could boast at being the King Of New York, no matter what team he was on!

In 1972, Hodges died shockingly in the spring. Yogi would take over. New York finished only 83-73 that year, a third place finish. The Mets dropped to 82 games won the next year, but New York managed to finish first in the National League East. They opposed the Cincinatti Reds in the NLCS that year. Cincy won 99 games. It looked more challenging than the 1969 World Series for New York. Here, once again, they were huge underdogs.

But New York won it three games to two. Next was the Oakland Athletics, who had won 94 games themselves. Once again, New York were the underdogs.

It was a great Fall Classic. Yogi's 16th and last. New York dropped a pitcher's duel in game one.

In game two, it went back in forth before New York came out on top, 10-7 in extra innings. In game three, it was the A's turn to win it in the extra frame. But New York scored three in the bottom of the first and three more in the bottom of the fourth to win it, 6-1.

Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw combined to throw a masterful 2-hitter in game five, giving New York a stunning 2-0 win and a 3 to 2 World Series lead. Now, all the Mets had to do is win one of the next two games to pull of a huge upset that would trump their improbable win four years earlier.

They didn't quite get it. Tom Seaver dropped a tough 3-1 decision in game six, as he pitched well enough to bring the championship back to New York. In game seven in Oakland, it was 5-0 Athletics in the top of the sixth, but Yogi would not let them quit.

Rusty Staub hit a double to drive home the first Met run in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, New York put two runners on, but could not get either home. Rollie Fingers got New York 1-2-3 in the top of the 8th, but New York would not go away quietly the next inning.

John Milner did what anyone should do to lead off the inning. He walked. With one out, Don Hahn got his third hit of the game. A ground out moved both of the runners to second and third. But Oakland was one out away from winning it all.

Ed Kranepool, a member of the 1969 winning team, was sent up to bat for pitcher George Stone. When he sent a roller to first, it looked like lights out. But Gene Tenace had moved from his familiar spot behind the plate to first, and perhaps that was a mistake. He made an error which allowed Milner to score. Now, with runners on the corners, the tying run was at the plate and it was back to the top of the order. Ted Martinez came in to pinch-run for Kranepool.

But Wayne Garrett popped out, and Oakland had won the 1973 Fall Classic, four games to three. A tough way to end it. New York had gone down fighting, just like the Yankees had under Berra nine years earlier.

While Yogi didn't always win in the Fall Classic, he was always in the Fall Classic, no matter what team he was on. Yogi might be remembered for his quotes, but when it came to the World Series, it was no laughing matter when he was around!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thoughts On "The Big Three" At The French Open

Is this the year Nadal finally loses it to Djokovic? Is this Federer's last kick at the can on the clay? Or does Nadal, as always, Rule At Roland?

My emotion feeling is Novak Djokovic finally pulls it of. My gut feeling is it's Rafael Nadal again. Nowhere do I feel that Federer, despite his fine play so far this year, pulls it off. At least he doesn't have to worry about Stan Wawrinka, but that applies to the other two, as well.

Nadal has an interesting draw. The ageless Tommy Haas, who's been around forever, is a possible opponent in the round of 16. I'd like to see that. But even more interesting is a possible quarter-finals match against David Ferrer, who is seeded 5th. Ferrer was beaten by Nadal last year in the finals and reached the final four back in 2012. More on him, later. Beyond that, I'm intrigued by a possible semi-finals match between Nadal and Andy Murray (seventh seed), with Wawrinka out of the equation. For Wawrinka, he has finally come down to earth. Murray got to the semi-finals back in 2011, where he lost to Nadal. Same old, same old for Nadal in the French Open. I wouldn't have it any other way. Makes for a good story.

Djokovic, who is in the other half of the draw and seeded second to someone obvious, also has an interesting draw. The match I'm looking forward to is his possible fourth round match against the thirteenth seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga, such a fighter, has an interesting history with Djokovic. They met in the 2008 Australian Open finals (their very first meeting), with Djokovic prevailing. They've had several good matches since, including the semi-finals of the 2011 Wimbledon (after Tsonga beat Federer in the quarters) and two years ago here in the French quarters. Tsonga last beat Djokovic in a slam back at the 2010 Australian Open. Beyond Tsonga, I can see a possible match in the quarter-finals this year with Canadian Milos Raonic, seeded 8th. Then, perhaps a rematch of the 2011 and 2012 semis with Roger Federer. That is, if Federer can make it.

Federer has a tough draw. It's Dmitry Tursunov in the third round round, in all likelyhood. Should Fed beat him, he would then probably face Mikhail Youzhny, who is seeded fifteenth. Right after that, just Federer's luck, his old pal Tomas Berdych. That matchup is with someone who has beaten Roger at Wimbledon in the fourth round in 2010 and the US Open fourth round back in 2012. A win here by Berdych, the 2010 semi-finalist, is very probable, given his knack for beating Fed when he shouldn't.

As for the year so far by The Big Three, certainly not what I expected. Nadal won his first title earlier this at Doha on hard court. But Tobias Kamke got a set off him in an early match and Gael Monfils got one in the finals. Nadal beat Federer at the Australian Open, only to lose to Stan Wawrinka. Nadal then won on clay in Rio de Janeiro, but almost lost in the semis. Pablo Andujar took him to 10-8 in the third set tie-breaker.

An early loss in Indian Wells was a setback, but Nadal got to the finals in Miami, only to lose to Novak. Raonic got a set off him in the quarter-finals. Then came a stunning loss on clay in Monte Carlo to David Ferrer in the quarters. He would then lose at Barcelona to Nicolas Almagro at the same stage, same surface. Raf managed to win in Madrid, but exciting newcomer Kei Nishikori got a set off him before he was forced to default in the third. In Rome, he dropped a set in three straight matches (including one to Murray, 6-1), before bowing out to Djokovic in a great finals.

Nadal has now lost three matches on clay this year, something that hasn't happened since 2004. Despite that, he's my pick to win.

Novak is my second, but the way he's playing you'd think he'd finally pull it off. Following his quarter-final loss at Australia, he lost in the semis of Dubai to a suddenly resurgent Federer. He got his revenge at the Indian Wells finals, but almost blew a 5-3 third set lead. Novak had to pull it out in the tie-breaker.

Djokovic then swept through Miami, beating Murray, Nishikori and finally Nadal without the loss of a set. He looked almost too good there! How would he fair on clay? Setback time!

He faced his old pal Federer in the semi-finals of Monte Carlo, and lost in straight sets as he sustained an injury.

But he'd be back! When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Like conquer. But in this tournament, it was Djokovic that was almost conquered. Kolschreiber got a set off him in the round of sixteen. Then Ferrer got one off him the next round. Raonic almost beat him in the semis. Finally, we had a three set classic with Novak and Rafa in the finals, with The Joker coming out on top. You wouldn't have bet the farm on who was walking out of there with the gold, however. One of those matches where it was hard to choose.

I'm choosing Djokovic to finish second this year to Nadal in Paris. But next year, watch out! Here comes the career grand slam!

How about the old man? Federer is now 32. Seems like only yesterday that he came, saw and conquered. Paris was the only Slam he hadn't won, until 2009.

A bad 2013, in particular from June to September, seemed to spell the end for him. Fed showed some signs of life in the fall, but could not capture a title. He started this year by getting to the finals in Brisbane. But a loss to Lleyton Hewitt there and a loss to Nadal in the semis at Australia served as a reminder: We can't count on Fed to win in the finals against anybody, anymore!

But a win at Dubai, beating Djokovic and Berdych, brough him his first since June of 2013.

Roger followed that by almost beating Djokovic in the finals of the Indian Wells. Looking good.

But a loss to Nishikori at Miami brought him to Earth with a thud. Federer regrouped in Monte Carlo and beat Tsonga and Djokovic, before narrowly losing to the red-hot Stan Wawrinka.

But a loss to Jeremy Chardy in the second round (after getting a bye) at Rome puts a big question mark on Roger Federer coming in to the French Open. He's a longshot. Seems so odd to say that, but such are the times in tennis. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Bucky Veil was the first relief pitcher in the Fall Classic. It was from the very first World Series. Boston vs. Pittsburgh.

After the opening tilt of the 1903 World Series went into the books with two complete games, the second one was different. Veil had only pitched twelve games that season, half the time as a starter.

But after the Pirates' Sam Leever was rocked for two runs in the bottom of the first inning, there was Veil in to try and hold the fort. It would not prove to be an easy task. After getting the first batter out in the bottom of the second, he walked the next batter. Then, he hit one! Was some early Moneyball time about to doom Buck? Fortunately, he got Jimmy Collins and Chick Stahl out to escape that.

But the next two innings were also tough. Veil allowed a single in the bottom of the third. In the fourth, he surrendered another walk, and then Collins singled with two outs. Again, he get Stahl out to end the threat. But things had looked rocky. And the worst was still to come, if you can believe it!

Bucky Freeman led off the bottom of the fifth with a single. When Freddy Parent drew Veil's third walk, things were looking hopeless. A bunt by Candy LaChance not only moved 'em both into scoring position, but Veil could not field it. The bases were loaded for Boston. Not a man out. And still 2-0 for the Americans. The wheels were ready to come off the chariot.

Hobe Ferris hit into a force at home, but the bases were still loaded. Then, it was time for some twin killing! Lou Criger hit a ground ball to second that Claude Ritchey combined with Honus Wagner to turn into an inning-ending double play. But the next inning, Veil would not be so lucky.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Patsy Dougherty hit a home run to right with one out to make it 3-0, Boston. Collins drew Veil's fourth walk. And he made 'em pay for that by swiping second. Stahn went down on strikes. Bucky Freeman popped up four to first. But the damage had been done. Actually, there was no room for error in this game, period, by Pittsburgh.

Bill Dinneen, with the shutout in his back pocket, had thrown a 1-2-3 top of the 6th. In the 7th inning, he and Veil combined to retire all six batters. Dinneen retired the side in order in the top of the 8th. Veil walked the leadoff man, Criger, to start the bottom of the frame. Dinneen got him to second with a sac bunt. Dougherty did not get this one out of the infield, but he beat out a hit to third. Criger stayed put. Collins ended that by hitting into a double play.

Ed Phelps batted for Veil in the top of the 9th and Dinneen fanned him. Ginger Beaumont popped out to Parent, in short. Parent then took Fred Clarke's roller and threw him out to make it a 3-0 final. Pittsburgh had managed a grand total of three hits this afternoon. None by Wagner.

Dinneen had gone the distance for this masterful performance. While the game was pretty much in the bag from his first pitch, the Pirates did get an pretty good performance from an unlikely source.

Bucky Veil was out of the bigs after the 1904 season (a year where there was no World Series). He never took the mound again in the 1903 Fall Classic, so this was his sole appearance. His major league career was just two short seasons. So, chalk this up an another World Series first by an obscure player!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Casey Stengel made his debut in the Fall Classic in 1916. Funny, I would have said sometime in the 1920s with the Giants. But in '16 he was on the 'Giants and the Yankees bitter rival, the Brooklyn Robins. But Stengel would not face the team he would later manage. But he would face someone who made it big in New York later.

It was actually the Boston Red Sox that opposed the Robins that World Series. And did the Red Sox ever have a pitching staff! How would the 26 year-old right fielder do?

Game one saw Ernie Shore take the hill for Boston. Shore had not thrown his famous no-hitter in relief of Babe Ruth yet (that was next season), but he was a great pitcher at the time. Having gone 19-8 in 1915 with an ERA of 1.64, his numbers had dropped at bit. Shore was only 16-10 that year, but did he bring it in the first 8 innings of this one!

In the to of the first, it was Stengel grounding out, as the Robins went down in order. Rube Marquard of Brooklyn would win 201 games in his career. But here, he struggled to keep pace with what Ernie was doing.

Marquard managed to get through the first two innings, despite facing a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the third, and with a runner 90 feet away from scoring, Duffy Lewis hit a double, as the Red Sox drew first blood.

Stengel would actually score the Robins' first run. Leading off the top of the 4th inning, he singled. When Zack Wheat hit a triple, the score was deadlocked at one. Wheat ended up being cut down trying to score on a fly ball and for a while it looked like that would be all that Brooklyn would get.

But Boston had no intention of losing this game. Harry Hooper led of the bottom of the 5th with a double to center. A bunt moved him to third. Tillie Walker's single drove home Hooper. Shore had his lead back. Brooklyn was in trouble.

Shore retired the side in the top of the 6th inning. Jake Daubert grounded out. Stengel came to bat again, and Ernie got him on a K. Wheat grounded out. Shore must not have broken a sweat that inning. In the top of the 7th, Brooklyn got a base runner, but it was quickly erased on a double play. Once again, Shore had faced three batters in the inning. Marquard would not be so lucky. He faced seven batters and three of them scored. It was 5-1, Boston. Things now looked pretty grim for Stengel and his mates.

Shore got 'em 1-2-3 again in the top of the 8th. Marquard was now out of the game, but the Sox scored another run in the bottom of the frame. Five runs up with three more outs to go. What could go wrong?

After Daubert drew a crucial leadoff walk, it was Stengel who singled him to second. After a force at third, George Cutshaw was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded with just one out. An error then scored two runs. It was 6-3 Red Sox still, but Brooklyn had found a way to score twice on just one hit!

Ivy Olson got Brooklyn's second hit of the inning and the bases were loaded again. But when Shore got Chief Meyers to pop out, the Robins were down to their last out!

Fred Merkle, who had committed a base running blunder that cost the Giants the pennant in 1908, got a walk to force home a run. Shore was removed for Carl Mays. The Sox also took out catcher Hick Cady and put in Pinch Thomas behind the plate. But when Hi Myers hit a single, the Red Sox's lead was down to just one and the bases were still loaded. Daubert grounded out to end the game.

Babe Ruth, still with the Red Sox, pitched a gem in game 2. The game went into extras and Boston took it in the bottom of the 14th. Casey Stengel did not play. Amazing to think that in 1916 The Babe was not quite The Guy With The Big Stick, and Stengel was not quite The Character. But both of them were to make this Fall Classic one for the books!

Stengel was back in right for game three, now in Brooklyn. In the bottom of the first, Casey hit a sac bunt to get the runners to second and third. An intentional walk loaded the bases, but Brooklyn could get the man home.

But in the bottom of the third, The Old Perfessor helped get it going!

Daubert singled with one out. Casey hit a single to send him to second. Cutshaw singled to left off Carl Mays. That scored Daubert with the first run of game three. Brooklyn, of course, really needed to win, being down 2-0 in this World Series.

Brooklyn would pick up another run in the bottom of the fourth. Ivy Olson bunted his way to first, then reached second via an error on the play. Another bunt, this one a sac, got Ivy to third. When Jack Coombs, that starting pitcher for the Robins, got a single, it was 2-0 Brooklyn. Coombs was pitching well too, it should be pointed out. He had a 1-2-3 top of the 5th.

Casey was unable to contribute in the bottom of the frame. He fouled out to third. Then, Brooklyn went to some Moneyball to get a run. Zack Wheat walked, and then with two outs, Mike Mowrey walked. Olson, having a great game, hit a clutch triple to score both runners and make it a 4-0 game.

In the top of the 6th, Boston finally got to Coombs. Harry Hooper hit a triple to score a man, then he scored himself on a single. 4-2, Brooklyn. A home run by Larry Gardner got the Sox to within a run. But they were unable to score another.

Stengel himself would do no more. Leading off the bottom of the 7th, he flied out to right. But with two outs in the top of the 9th, Duffy Lewis hit a fly ball that Stengel caught in right for the last out of the game. Stengel had finished the day with only one hit, but his batting average was .429 at this point! Pretty good first two World Series games for the man with all the quotes.

Despite all this, Brooklyn and Stengel's joy was short lived. The Boston Red Sox were just too strong. And it showed in game four, a crucial game. It was all Boston. Stengel did not get into the game until the bottom of the 9th.

Dutch Leonard, one of the more underrated pitchers of his generation, took a 6-2 lead into the last of the 9th for Boston. He would allow the Robins just five hits, total, in the game. With one out in the 9th, Olson drew a walk of Dutch. Meyers hit into a force. Stengel came in to pinch run. But the game ended as pinch hitter Gus Getz grounded out to third. Boston now led the best-of-seven affair, three games to one!

Brooklyn needed a win in game five, but they would not get it. Although he allowed a run in the top of the second on a wild pitch, Ernie Shore was masterful. Brooklyn would get only three hits this afternoon. Gardner tied it in the bottom of the frame on a sac fly.

Two more runs in the bottom of the third put Boston up for good. A triple by Hal Janvrin scored the last run of the 1916 World Series.

Stengel reached base on an error in the top of the first, but was stranded. He flied out in the top of the fourth as Shore got Brooklyn 1-2-3 in that inning. Another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth saw Stengel make the last out by popping out to short.

But there was Stengel stroking a single to lead off the top of the 9th, as the defiant Dodgers gave it one last try. Wheat fanned. A ground ball for out two saw Stengel advance into scoring position. But Shore got Mowrey to pop out to short and end it.

Casey Stengel's had played in his first Fall Classic. This was a pretty good time for him, despite the loss. He batted .364 and scored twice, placing him in a tie for fourth among all players in the 1916 World Series. And he'd be back. At the time, Casey must have been, just another player. But here was someone who would become one of baseball's all-time great characters. Later still, he'd become one of the all-time great managers in baseball.

Years later, his famous line "There's a time in a man's life, and I've had plenty," could be used to describe his entire baseball career, including that as a player! The World Series is always a "Time in your life" for baseball players, managers, fans, and this blogger!

Friday, May 23, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Lou Brock hit at least one home run in every World Series he played in. I guess that was one way the other team kept him off base! He was one leadoff hitter that drove in fear into the minds of Cardinals' opponents. But he could also go deep if needs be.

Facing the Yankee's Al Downing in the bottom of the 4th inning of game 7 of the 1964 World Series, St. Louis was already up 3-0. Downing had just come in to relieve Mel Stottlemyre. Brock greeted him the hard way. He belted his very first pitch to deep right center for a home run. Sparked by that, St. Louis scored twice more to make it a 6-0 game.

That home run and three runs in that inning proved crucial. The Yankees came back with three of their own in the top of the 6th inning via a Mickey Mantle home run. And New York got two more runs (via the long ball) to St. Louis' one, so this blowout turned into a nail biter! But at the end of the game, the Cardinals were World Series winners, 7-5.

Brock didn'y have to wait as long to get his first home run in his next World Series. Well, one game earlier! It was 1967, so it was a wait of three years. This time, the Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox. Brock got four hits in game one, helping St. Louis win, 2-1. But none of those hits were a home run.

After going hitless in game 2, Lou came back with two hits in game three and two more in game four! But, no long balls. St. Louis now led the 1967 Fall Classic, three games to one!

The Cards lost game five at home, so the Series would return to Boston. Worse still, Brock was held hitless again. The common denominator in both games was Jim Lonborg, who tossed a 1-hitter and a 3-hitter. But obviously, Brock would face someone else in game six.

Game six was an interesting one. Boston had to use Gary Waslewski to start. Just 2-2 in the regular season, it looked like the world's longest longshot. And early home run by Rico Petrocelli gave Boston the lead. Brock drove in the tying run and Curt Flood got an RBI of his own to put the Cards in front. Three more home runs by the Red Sox (including Petrocelli's second) gave Boston a 4-2 lead. But Gary left after 5 1/3 innings after giving up two walks in the sixth inning. John Wyatt came in for the Sox and got the next two men out.

With one out in the top of the 7th, Bob Tolan pinch-hit for Cardinal pitcher Nelson Briles (the game three winner). Tolan drew a walk. The score was still 4-2, Boston. But not for long!

Brock came up and hit a tremendous home run to knot this thing, 4-4. It was the most important home run Brock had probably ever hit to date, under the circumstances. Could St. Louis win a game where they had allowed four home runs?

Alas, it was not to be. The Red Sox came right back with four runs in the bottom of the frame to put this one away, and force a game seven. Brock failed to hit a home run, but it was St. Louis all the way, 7-2.

In the 1968 World Series, Brock made sure to go to the long ball early. This one came in the very first game.

It didn't look like it for a while, however. Denny McLain started for Detroit. Brock seemed to have his trouble with him. So did some of his teammates. Brock grounded out in the bottom of the first to start the game. The next two batters flew out.

In the bottom of the third inning, Dal Maxvill drew a leadoff walk off McLain. Bob Gibson, on his way to 17 K's, got a sac bunt to get him to second. Brock hit a ball back to McLain. Denny saw Max going to third and got him trapped in a rundown. Lou had to do something. He stole second. When the throw from catcher Bill Freehan went into centerfield, Lightning Lou was on third. But Curt Flood popped out to end that.

St. Louis finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Two walks and two singles made it 3-0, Cardinals. But Bob Gibson ended the inning by going down on strikes. Brock looked like he was not about to be part of the offence in this game.

McLain breezed through the next inning, despite Detroit commiting an error. Lou Brock could only ground out. That, however, proved to be it for Denny in this game. He hadn't pitched too badly. But Bob Gibson was simply too much for him and his teammates.

But what about Brock? Pat Dobson took over for the Tigers and pitched a scoreless sixth inning. Gibson, though, was keeping Detroit off-guard with his strikeouts. He was still working on the shutout!

Dobson then got the first two Tigers out in the bottom of the 7th. Looking at the way Bob Gibson was throwing, Lou must have known it was his last plate appearance of the afternoon, so he had to make it count. And did he ever!

Blasting a home run to deep right center, Brock had accounted for the last run of game one. Gibson took over from there, but he really had it all from the get-go. Detroit went down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth inning. In the 9th, Hoot allowed a leadoff single by Mickey Stanley, but fanned the next three batters. St. Louis had game one, four-zip!

McLain had not heard the last from Lou Brock. The team's split the next two games, so game four in Detroit was crucial. On Denny's second pitch of the contest, Brock went deep again to right center. St. Louis scored again before the inning was over. It would prove to be all Bob Gibson would need.

Gibson hit a home run of his own in this game. Brock finished with two more hits and three more runs batted in. With a 10-1 win, St. Louis looked like they had the 1968 World Series wrapped up. They could not get the bundle home, ultimately!

Detroit won game six at home, despite three more hits from Brock. In game six, McLain looked like the 31-game winner he was in the regular season. Brock could go only 1-4. And in the deciding game, Mickey Lolich of the Tigers did what no one though possible: He beat Bob Gibson in a World Series!

Brock failed to get a long ball in the last three games of the 1968 World Series. Though the Cardinals had come up empty, Brock and Gibson had been the big stars for the second straight Fall Classic. Both, of course, had hit the long ball.

Leadoff hitters are usually the least threat to go deep. Even in the age of the DH, the number nine hitter can sometimes poise a bigger threat with the long ball that the number one hitter can. Although I never liked him (save for his brief tenure with the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays) when he played, Ricky Henderson was always exciting to watch. He'd steal the base. But he could also hit the long ball with such frequency that sometimes I had to remind myself he was "just" the leadoff hitter. Lou Brock was like that. He could go deep, but not just in the postseason. And he had the flair for the dramatic with those. It would tie the game. It would give St. Louis the lead. It would be on the first or second pitch. It would start a rally. It would finish off the other team. They would even make Bob Gibson's job a little easier! The home run has always been my favourite way to watch a team score. A leadoff hitter's job is to get on base and score. Hey, why not do that with one foul (or in this case, fair) swoop? It is the World Series, you know. No use wasting time!


Enders, Eric. "The Expansion Era." 100 years of the World Series. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005. Print. pp. 160-163.

Golenbock, Peter. "1964." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print. pp. 529-539.

Halberstam, David. October 1964. New York: Villard, 1994. Print.

Major League Baseball. World Series Of 1964. Major League Baseball Productions, 1964. DVD.

Major League Baseball. World Series Of 1967. Major League Baseball Productions, 1967. DVD.

Major League Baseball. World Series Of 1968. Major League Baseball Productions, 1968. DVD.

Mantle, Mickey, and Mickey Herskowitz. "Yogi And The Last Hurrah." All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print. pp. 183-192

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. - Major League Statistics and Information Web. 23 May. 2014.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Of the Chicago White Sox ten hits in game two of the 1919 World Series, eight came via suspected or proven fixers! Ray Schalk, who did make the Hall Of Fame, got the other two. The gamblers may well have been double-crossed, this early!

It was one of those games. Cincinnati only got four hits, and made three errors to Chicago's one. But at the end of the day, the game belonged to the Reds by a score of 4-2.

With one out in the top of the first inning, Eddie Collins drew a walk of Cincy's Slim Sallee. But Buck Weaver grounded into a double play. Weaver and Shoeless Joe Jackson, although thrown out of the game after the 1920 season, gave an honest effort here!

After Cincinnati went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, up stepped Jackson to start things off in the second. And did he come through. He sent a blue darter to center field and wound up on second. Happy Felsch, a fixer, bunted Joe to third. But Chick Gandil, still another fixer, grounded out to first and Joe held at third. Swede Risberg, yet another fixer, was out on a fly to right.

Williams had another 1-2-3 inning, and Schalk was up in the top of the third. He was the first out. Lefty Williams was the next batter. Pitching well for a fixer. Or by anyone's standards. Now, as a hitter, Lefty stroked a single to center. Shano Collins lined out and Eddie Collins grounded out.

Williams the pitcher fixer, had his third straight 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the third. Then, in the top of the fourth, Weaver and Jackson showed their true worth!

Weaver singled to right, Jackson singled to left. Felsch again bunted successfully. It must have seemed like the guilty were really on their game! Gandil hit a ground ball to first, and Weaver tried to score. He was out at home. Jackson made it to third. Gandil then surprised everyone by stealing second. Risberg popped to first.

The Reds got to Williams in the bottom of the frame as they scored three times, and Chicago went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 5th. Now, it was looking all fixed! Risberg made an error with a man on in the bottom of the inning. But Williams got the Sox out of it.

Eddie Collins grounded out in the top of the sixth, but Weaver then hit a double of his own. Jackson then fanned. Was he trying? Slim Sallee then did something interesting. He balked with Felsch up. Happy actually gave this one quite a ride, but was out on a long fly to center.

Williams wasn't trying hard enough in the bottom of the frame, however. The Reds got another run off him to make it a 4-0 Cincinnati lead. The Reds then surprisingly ran themselves out of the inning when a runner was caught stealing! In the top of the 7th, Chicago came back a bit.

Gandil grounded out, but fellow fixer Risberg finally came through. He singled. Schalk came through finally, as well. He singled. The Reds then took a cue from Chicago.

Greasy Neale made an error on the throw to second and Risberg scored somehow. The play was not over. Schalk kept going. Heinie Groth, the third basemen saw what was transpiring. But an error by him, and suddenly, it was only 4-2 Cincy. Who's throwing the 1919 World Series now?

Williams also saw all this and must have felt threatened. No way could his team come back and win. So he fanned. Shano Collins flew out to center. Williams went back to pitching well and got the Reds 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 7th.

Eddie Collins flew out to start the eighth, and Buck Weaver grounded out. But just when things looked hopeless, there was the "star" of Field Of Dreams. Shoeless Joe lined it hard to first basemen Jake Daubert, who made a fine play with just one hand to knock the ball down. It was a race between Jackson and the pitcher. Joe won. Daubert threw too late, and wide. Jackson made it to second on the throw. The play was scored a single and a throwing error by the first basemen. Felsch then hit a line shot of his own to third. Heinie Groh did as Jake did and knocked the thing down. But his throw was low. Daubert made a fine play to scoop it out. Cincinnati has almost blown their own brains out here! But the Reds were out of the inning.

Williams only faced three men again in the bottom of the 8th, but this time he needed help. A fine double play erased a single. But now Chicago was only three outs away from going down two games to none!

Gandil, perhaps having a change of heart, led off with a single. Risberg was sticking to the plan and hit into a double play. Schalk would have none of it and got his second hit of the game, a single. Then it was time for another fixer to make his first appearance of the 1919 World Series. A fixer batted for another fixer. Seems sort of fitting. Fred McMullin batted for Williams and sent a ground ball to second. Fred was out at first on the throw and the Reds won game two, 4-2.

Not all of the White Sox gave an honest effort in the 1919 World Series. But they did give it one heck of a try in game two. While this game was thrown in all likelyhood, Chicago did a lot of things right. But they made sure to lose this game and four others!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Phil Linz, who replaced Tony Kubek of the Yankees for all seven games of the 1964 World Series, hit two home runs. For his career, he totalled only eleven. So he was an unlikely source of power for New York in the '64 Fall Classic. It was not enough, however, St. Louis won in seven games.

Linz failed to get a hit of any kind in game one. New York took this one on the chin, 9-5. St. Louis handed Whitey Ford the loss. Because of an arm injury, he would not appear again in the 1964 World Series. Or any further World Series.

Game two was different. Linz and his mates had the task of Bob Gibson to deal with. While Linz led off the game with a walk in the top of the first, the next four men went down on strikes. It looked like a long day for the New York Yankees.

In the top of the third inning, Linz singled with two down. Bobby Richardson followed with a double. Linz was unable to score. Gibson bore down and got Roger Maris to ground out. Better still for Gibby and his mates, they scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the frame. And that was the Yankee's other problem in this game. Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankee starter, had been in the bigs less than two months (August 12 debut) and didn't look like much of a match for Gibson.

Linz grounded out in the top of the 5th inning as Gibson had a 1-2-3 inning. But by this time, the game was tied at 1. The Yankees would break the deadlock the next inning inning. It was time for Linz to get New York going and finish off the Cards!

In the top of the 7th, Phil got another hit, a single. Gibson threw a wild pitch and Linz made it to second. When Richardson followed with a broken bat single, it was 3-1, Yankees. New York, smelling blood, were not done. Roger Maris singled. When Mickey Mantle grounded out, it was now 4-1, New York.

St. Louis managed to get one run back in the bottom of the 8th, but Linz then came up big in the top of the 9th.

Barnley Schultz, who got the save in game one, came on. Linz greeted him with a solo blast. 5-2, Yankees. Once again, New York went on the attack, sparked by Linz' big hit. Three more runs crossed the plate, and the Cardinals could answer with only a single tally of their own in the bottom of the frame. New York won the game 8-3 and squared the 1964 World Series at one win each.

In the winner-take-all game seven, Gibson was back for a complete game, but Phil Linz kept hitting the ball well. But he was up against such a great competitor, not to mention some strong fielding by St. Louis!

Linz grounded out to Ken Boyer to start the game. In his next plate appearance in the top of the third, Phil singled. Richardson then grounded into a double play and Maris just grounded out.

Linz' error in the bottom of the fourth opened the door for three Cardinal runs off Mel Stottlemyre. Linz then almost got the Yankees right back into this one.

Tom Tresh, who had one great series, led off the fourth with a walk against Gibson. Clete Boyer flew out to Curt Flood in center. Mike Hegan batted for Stottlemyre and walked. Here's where you stick it to Gibson!

Linz sent a sinking flyball to Mike Shannon in right. If this gets by him, it's a 3-2 game. But Shannon made a great catch, then doubled Tresh off second. It would prove to be a crucial play. Three more runs by St. Louis off reliever Al Downing made it 6-0 St. Louis after five inning.

But Bob Gibson might have been tiring. Or perhaps, with such a tremendous lead, giving in a bit? New York made him pay in the top of the 6th. Richardson continued his assault on him with a roller to third that Boyer was too late getting the throw to first one. Maris then got a single. The great Mantle followed that with a blast off Gibson deep to left, giving the Yankees three runs and a new lease on life. 6-3, St. Louis.

Rollie Sheldon got the Cards 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth. Dal Maxvill fanned. Gibson flied out to Tresh in left and Flood was out on a fly to Mantle in right.

In the next inning, Hector Lopez batted for Sheldon and Gibby fanned him. Linz was out on a fly to Shannon in right, this being a much easier play. Richardson got a single. Maris connected solidly, but was also retired on a fly to Shannon.

Ken Boyer hit a solo home run off Steve Hamilton in the bottom of the 7th with two down to make it 7-3, St. Louis. Gibson got through the 8th without a baserunner. Pete Mikkelsen relived Hamilton in the top of the 9th and got out of the inning without a run scored. Gibson was three outs away from bringing home the World Series rings to St. Louis. But New York would not go away!

Tresh went down on strikes, but Clete Boyer joined his older brother in the home run trot with a solo job of his own to left. That made it 7-4. That blast also gave the Yankees like and ensured that Phil Linz would get one more plate appearance. But first, Bob Gibson would have to face pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard. Gibby got him on a K and was one out away from clinching it for the Cardinals. Phil had other ideas. He blasted one to left. Brock made a jump at the wall, but could not get it as it reached the seats. 7-5, St. Louis. Finally, Richardson popped up and the Cardinals had it all!

Linz was not a great player. He had made some bad fielding decisions. Yet, with two clutch home runs in one World Series, against just eleven for his career, made him an unlikely source of power. Just starting all seven games was unexpected for him. Sometimes, when you get a chance in the Fall Classic, some good things can happen to anyone!


World Series: Did You Know?

Bob Gibson was the pitcher in game one of the 1967 World Series. Russ Gibson was the catcher in game one of the 1967 World Series. They were not the battery however. Tim McCarver caught Bob and Russ caught Jose Santiago.

It was actually quite a pitcher's duel in game one of the '67 Fall Classic between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Bob Gibson came out on top, but Jose and his mates put up quite a fight! How about Russ? Gibby seemed to have him.

The Cards charged out early in the third inning. Lou Brock singled, Curt Flood doubled. Roger Maris grounded out, Brock scoring. Santiago got out of the inning with no further damage. But now he needed two runs!

Russ Gibson led off the bottom of the frame for the Sox. Gibson got him on a strikeout. He then might have taken it a little easy, for Santiago was the next batter. Gibson delivered the pitch, and Jose Santiago hit it over the Green Monster to tie it!

St. Louis seemed destined to scored about three runs every inning after that. Yet they came away with just one, total! Julian Javier singled in the top of the fourth. Dal Maxville grounded out, Javier getting to second. Bob Gibson fanned. Lou Brock stroked a singled to left, but Javier tried to score. Carl Yastrzemski, in left for Boston, gunned him out at home. The Red Sox got a man to second in the bottom of the frame when George Scott hit a double. But Hoot get the Cards out of there.

Maris did not ground out in the top of the fifth. He singled. But the other three batters did not get one base. Roger never even made it to second. Bob Gibson settled down and got Reggie Smith to hit a fly do deep right. It stayed in the park for the first out. Russ Gibson went down on strikes again. Gibson made sure to strike out Santiago, as well.

The top of the sixth saw Mike Shannon start things off with a single. A passed ball got him into scoring position with not a man out! However, Santiago settled down, as well. Javier fanned. Dal Maxvill popped up to Gibson behind the plate. The other Gibson flied out to Yaz in left.

In the top of the seventh, it was Lou Brock again! A leadoff single started things. And then, ala Ricky Henderson years later, Brock stole second. Flood grounded out to first, with Scott making the putout unassisted. Roger Maris again grounded out. But again, Brock scored. Another RBI for Maris! More importantly, 2-1, St. Louis. Could Boston retaliate?

Scott grounded out in the bottom of the 7th. Rico Petrocelli fanned. But Smith singled this time, with Russ Gibson to follow. Manager Dick Williams sent up a pinch hitter, Norm Siebern. Gibson, no longer looking at the same surname, focused. But, Smith took off for second and Tim McCarver gunned him out!

The Sox made some switches here. John Wyatt came in to pitch, but he would not be batting 9th. Siebern went in to play right field, taking Russ Gibson's spot as the 8th hitter. Boston's 9th batter in the lineup card was interesting. Elston Howard, the old Yankee pro, came in to catch and take that spot away from the departed Santiago and the arrived Wyatt. Ken (Hawk) Harrelson (You can put it one the LINEUP CARD...YES!) would come out of right for Wyatt's spot. Wyatt was now batting in the 4th spot. Pitcher, batting in cleanup.

Wyatt didn't seem to care about all this. It had no affect on his game plan, which was hold St. Louis in check. Did he ever come through in the top of the 8th, getting the side out, 1-2-3. Javier went down on strikes.

Siebern, also didn't seem to care about his predicament. He led off the bottom of the 8th with a single. Howard, still another Red Sox in an odd spot, got the bunt down. One out and a man on second. Dick Williams had made three brilliant moves, and Boston was coming on strong in every aspect of the game!

Jerry Adair, the leadoff hitter, got the ball in the air. But it was not deep enough to get Siebern to third. When Dalton Jones popped to Maxvill in short, the promising inning was over.

But the Cardinals got a rally going in the top of the ninth! Maxvill led off with a walk. Gibson tried Howard's strategy but failed, popping out to first. Brock drew a walk. Flood flied out, but then Wyatt committed a balk against Maris. Second and third with two outs. Roger ended the drama by flying out!

Yaz flied out to his familiar spot in left to start the ninth. Joe Foy, pinch-hit for Wyatt and grounded out. But the dangerous Scott was still up. Gibson walked him and had to face another pinch hitter. It was Mike Andrews who batted for Petrocelli. He flied out to Maris in right to end the game. 2-1 was the final for St. Louis!

Gibson pitched again in game four, this time in Cardinal land. There was very little suspense in this game. St. Louis took it, 6-0. Russ Gibson did not play. Elston Howard tried his luck against Bob Gibson and came away empty in two tries. Mike Ryan relieved Ellie behind the plate. Ryan had no luck with Gibson and also went oh for two!

Howard stated game seven against Gibson. He had no luck in two tries again. In the eigth inning, with Boston trailing 7 to 1. Rico Petrocelli was on third, having hit a double. Gibby then threw a wild pitch. With no one out, Dalton Jones batted for Howard and walked. Santiago had come in to pitch after Jim Lonborg had been battered for seven earned runs. Now, he was also pinch-hit for. Siebern forced Jones, but Petrocelli scored. It was the first time in three tries against Hoot that the Sox had scored more than one run. But it was also too late! Gibson got the next two batters out of there.

Russ Gibson took over behind the plate in the top of the 9th. Moorehead came in to pitch. The first batter in the top of the 9th was, well who do you think? That's right, Bob Gibson. Russ then got a putout to his name as Bob fanned. But then Brock walked and stole second. Flood also walked. Maris drew a walk! Bases loaded and just one out!

Dan Osinski came in for Boston to pitch to the dangerous Orlando Cepeda. Cepeda popped up foul behind third. It was the shortstop Petrocelli that made the putout. So we have Brock in the Hall Of Fame, Cepeda in the Hall of Fame. Many feel that Flood and Maris should be there. Now it was time for the older brother of a Hall Of Famer to come to the mound and get that third out.

Ken Brett, George's sibling, was on the hill now for the Red Sox. Tim McCarver, catching, came to bat. Russ made sure that Brett felt okay out there. Brett was more than that. McCarver grounded out to Scott at first.

The defiant Boston Red Sox came to the plate for one last try in the bottom of the 9th. It was game over, and everyone at the park seemed to know it. Yaz, though, collected Boston's third hit of the afternoon. But Harrelson grounded into a double play. When Gibson fanned Scott with a sweeping curve, the 1967 World Series belonged to St. Louis!

The 1967 World Series was an interesting affair. Each team had a pitcher that hit a home run. Yaz and Brock were inspirational. Roger Maris had his best Fall Classic. Gibson pitched well. Gibson caught. It's quite a name in World Series history. From George Gibson stopping Ty Cobb on the base paths in 1909, to Kirk Gibson's dramatic walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley in 1988. But 1967 was the only time we had the pitcher and batter.

I always think about common names that share a big part of baseball history. And for good measure, how about the great Josh Gibson, too? A shame he never got to play in the bigs! Could you imagine a scenario of Bob Gibson, pitching to Kirk Gibson, caught by either George, Josh or Russ Gibson. I'll tell you, Gibson would prevail!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Chuck Essegian was the first player to hit two pinch-hit home runs in the World Series. They were both hit in the same World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers looked lost sometimes in the 1959 World Series. Old Chuck helped 'em find the was against Chicago!

Essegian seemed to have a knack for getting 'em right when the Dodgers needed them the most.

But the Dodgers couldn't even score a run in the first game, lost 11-0. In game 2, it took Los Angeles a while to finally score. Down 2-0 in the top of the 5th, Charlie Neal went yard on a solo shot to cut the lead in half. From there, the pitching duel between Chicago's Bob Shaw and Los Angeles' Johnny Podres resumed!

But with two outs in the top of the 7th inning, and with the Dodgers still down 2-1, Essegian finally got Los Angeles tied. Pinch-hitting for Podres, it was his turn to go yard on a solo blast. 2-2. Before the White Sox could recover from that one, it was time for anothr long ball. Jim Gilliam drew a bases on balls, Charlie Neal was again at the dish. And again, as in the 5th inning, he went deep. The two-run dinger put the Dodgers up 4-2.

As it turns out, Los Angeles need both those. In the bottom of the 8th inning, it was Ted Kluszewski of the White Sox that singled. Sherman Lollar singled. The tying run was at first and there was not a man out. Klu left for a pinch runner, Earl Torgeson. Larry Sherry, who had come in to pitch, gave up his third straight hit when Al Smith hit a double to left. Torgeson scored, but Lollar was thrown out at home. Given a bit of a reprieve, it was time for Sherry to come through and he did. Billy Goodman went down on strikes and Jim Rivera was out number three. The Dodgers still led, 4-3.

In the 9th, Sherry picked up the save by retiring Norm Cash on a groundout, Luis Aparicio on a groundout, and even Nellie Fox on one!

Essegian did not play in game three, which was the first World Series game played on the west coast. The Dodgers didn't need him, as they took it, 3-1. Essegian was nowhere to be found the next game. Los Angeles led 4-0, but the White Sox tied it in the top of the 7th. A run in the bottom of the 8th made the Dodgers the 5-4 winners. The Los Angeles Dodgers led the 1959 Fall Classic, three games to one. Game five would be at home.

Their attempt to wrap it all up in the fifth game went for not, despite a dandy performance by Sandy Koufax. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the 7th, it was Essegian who batted for Maury Wills, the shortstop. Essegian drew a walk, but was forced at second when Duke Snider hit a ground ball. Podres came in to run for Snider. Gilliam singled. Shaw, pitching again, threw a delivery that catcher Lollar could not handle. Both runners advanced on the wild pitch. Los Angeles failed to get either home as Neal flew out.

The Dodgers would ultimatley lose the game, 1-0. Now, the Fall Classic headed back to Chicago. But it was Los Angeles that jumped out early.

Snider didn't need a pinch runner this time as he blasted a two-run shot in the top of the third. With a man on, a single by Willis and a double by Podres made it 4-0 Dodgers the next inning. They were just warming up, as it turns out. Gilliam walked, Neal hit a double. 6-0, Dodgers. Wally Moon went deep. 8-0, Dodgers!

The White Sox, though, weren't exactly going home, even if they were playing at home. A three-run home run by Ted Kluszewski in the bottom of the fourth made it an 8-3 game. Podres was forced out, too early for the win. Sherry came in and did his usual work, holding Chicago at bay.

But there was the matter of the last run of the 1959 World Series. It was the top of the 9th inning. Ray Moore was on the mound and Duke Snider was all set to lead off. But The Duke was not going to bat. Chuck Essegian was. How often does a guy who is on his way to the Hall Of Fame and has a long ball to his name in the game going to be replaced?

But Essegian was about to make manager Walter Alston look like a genius. Stroking a solo homer to left, the Dodgers were up 9-3 and averaging a run scored per inning in the game. When Sherry got the last out, Los Angeles brought the World Series crown to the west coast.

Essegian was not a great player. He hit only 47 home runs in a career that lasted just six years and 404 games. And even there, his lifetime batting average was just .255. But, the Dodgers won it when there superstars came through, like Snider, Wills and Drysdale. They won it thanks to Sherry. But there is always room in the World Series for some unexpected help. Essegian is another person who you can't quite name as, "World Series" hero, but the 1959 World Series might not have been won by the Los Angeles Dodgers without him!

Monday, May 19, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Yankees actually scored more runs then the Cardinals did in the 1964 World Series. But St. Louis won it with some timely offence. New York twice scored eight runs in games where the Cards could only muster three of their own.

But when it mattered, the Bronx Bombers were out-scored.

In game one, St. Louis scored nine times to New York's five. But it was the Yankees up 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth. Whitey Ford's arm was gone, and Mike Shannon rocked him for a towering two runs blast. When Tim McCarver followed with a double, Ford left the mound. Al Downing came in. A two-out single by pinch hitter Carl Warwick (who set a World Series record with three pinch hit blows in '64) that just made it out of the infield scored another. Then a triple by Curt Flood on a ball that Tom Tresh later admitted he lost in the sun, scored the 6th run of the day by St. Louis. It was all they would need. Three more runs in the bottom of the 8th turned a 6-5 lead into a 9-5 St. Louis win.

In game two, Bob Gibson walked the first batter, then fanned the next four. But St. Louis could not seem to touch Yankee rookie Mel Stottlemyre, who surprised everyone by staying right with Gibby. With the score tied at 1 in the top of the 7th, Gibson broke. Mickey Mantle walked, Joe Pepitone was hit by a pitch with one out. The Cardinals protested that call, but to no avail. Tom Tresh's bouncing ball made it to the outfield. New York was ahead to stay. Bob really came apart at the seems in the top of the 8th. A single by Phil Linz. A wild pitch. Bobby Richardson with a broken back single to score Phil. 3-1, New York. Roger Maris got Richardson to third with another single. Mantle grounded out, scoring Richardson, 4-1. Although the Cardinals got one back in the bottom of the frame, Gibson was gone. So too, was any chance of a comeback. Phil Linz's home run in the top of the 9th started a four-run uprising by the Bronx Bombers. 8-3 was the final score.

Game three was a classic pitcher's duel between the veteran Curt Simmons and third year man Jim Bouton. Simmons gave up four hits and one run over eight innings. Bouton gave up six hits and one (unearned) run over nine innings. St. Louis had their chances to do more. Runners on the corner in the top of the second. Bases loaded in the top of the top of the sixth. But all they could get was one puny run in the top of the fifth. McCarver singled to right, just past Pepitone at first. Mantle, playing right while Maris was in center (And that was crucial, as Mickey's knees were gone at this point. As you will see later, this was a smart move on manager Yogi Berra's part) let the ball get through him for an error. As bad as Bill Buckner's years later? Seemed like it. Curt Simmons himself got a clutch two-out single that Clete Boyer at third could only get a piece of. But Clete had driven in Elston Howard earlier with a run in the bottom of the second with a double. Mickey Mantle led of the bottom of the ninth against relieve pitcher Barney Schultz. One pitch, bye-bye Mr. Rawlings! The Mick hit this one into the upper deck in right, giving the Bronx Bombers a dramatic, 2-1 win! St. Louis finished with more hits (six) than the Yankees (five), despite the loss!

The next game saw the Yankees start out red hot. St. Louis failed to get the ball out of the infield against Al Downing in the first, but New York sure did in their half. A single by Linz, a double by Richardson, a single by Maris and a single by Mantle and it's 2-0. Ray Sadecki's day was over. Roger Craig came in. Elston Howard singled and it's 3-0. Craig settled down after that, although the Yankees got a hit and three walks against him in the next 4 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, Downing had made it look almost too easy. Aside from the third inning, St. Louis went 1-2-3 all the time in the first five! In the sixth, Carl Warwick (getting his third pinch-hit) and Curt Flood singled. Lou Brock flew out. Then the inning seemed over as Dick Groat hit a roller to Bobby Richardson. Bobby had the ball stuck in his glove and couldn't seem to get the ball out in time. When he tossed to Linz at second, it was wide and the shortstop was taken out the equation anyways by Flood. Ken Boyer hit a 1-0 pitch into the left field stands for a grand slam and a 4-3 Card lead. It held up the rest of the way, despite the fact that each team had only six hits. This Fall Classic was knotted at two games apiece.

In game five, Bob Gibson seemed a whole lot better. Mel Stottlemyre seemed to add K's to his repotire. Gibby was also about strikeouts. Before the day was over, Bob would have thirteen. Stottlemyre and his New York teammates finished with nine themselves. With Gibby on first and one out, it was Flood with a bouncer that Richardson somehow muffed for an error. Brock singled him home. When Bill White sent a grounder that Richardson had no trouble with, it looked like an inning ending double play. Linz got the ball in plenty of time for the second out, but fired the ball into the dirt at first. Joe Pepitone made a nice play to scoop it out and the Yankees were out of the inning, down only one. Or were they? Al Smith, the first base umpire, called White safe. It was 2-0, St. Louis. Bob Gibson seemed in control. But when Mantle reached first on an error and Pepitone hit a grounder that hit the pitcher and went towards third, New York looked dangerous. But Bob had other ideas. He made a great play and threw out Joe at first, or at least that was the call. The Yankees were now really mad at Smith. When Tresh tied with a dramatic two-run blast to deep right-center, the play on Pepitone became a game-saver! Tim McCarver stroked a clutch 3-run home run of Pete Mikklelsen in the tenth inning to make St. Louis the winners, 5-2. 9-5 in game 1 and 5-2 here would be the only time the Cards won by more than two runs. Nevertheless, St. Louis was now up, three games to two heading home!

Alas, Gibson would be needed again, as another fine effort by Curt Simmons was wasted. Worse still, this time he even got tagged with the loss! Each team got ten hits, but Simmons looked better as Bouton was nailed for nine hits in 8 1/3 innings. Flood and Brock got back-to-back singles. And with Lou on third, White sent another roller to Bobby Richardson, who fielded it cleanly. Linz made the putout at second and fired it over to Pepitone for the putout at first. Double play, but a run scored. Simmons allowed only a single by Richardson in the first and fourth, then got 'em 1-2-3 in the second and third. In the fifth, though, Tom Tresh continued his assault on Cardinal pitching by hitting a ground-rule double to lead things off. Bouton himself scored Tom with a single. In the top of the sixth, Curt finally got Richardson out, but Bobby wasn't a home run threat. Guys like Maris and Mantle were. The M and M boys then took Simmons out of the park on consecutive pitches. Bouton had a 1-2-3 6th and 7th inning. Simmons left for a pinch hitter in the 7th. The Yankees scored five times in the top of the 8th as Pepitone hit a grand slam. Two meaningless runs off Bouton in the bottom of the 8th and 9th made the final, 8-3, just like in game two. Both teams got 10 hits.

So it was Gibson against Stottlemyre in game seventh. The Cardinals scored three off Mel in the bottom of the fourth and three more off Al Downing in the bottom of the next frame. Ken Boyer added a home run in the bottom of the seventh. But The Mick, playing in his final World Series game, took Hoot deep the other way on a three-run blast in the top of the sixth. Gibson looked like he was tired, having so few day's off. Bobby Richardson got his 13th hit of the 1964 Fall Classic in the 7th. Maris blasted it hard, but right to Shannon in right. Gibson had a 1-2-3 8th. The Cardinals got men to second and third with just one out in the bottom of the eighth, but could not get either home. New York was not done their scoring, however. After getting Tresh on strikes to start the top of the ninth, Clete Boyer got a pitch to his liking. Clete took this one out of the park, to join his brother on the day in the long ball department. Johnny Blanchard batted for Pete Mikkleson and Bob Gibson got him on his ninth and final strikeout of the game. But the Yankees were still not done. Phil Linz, who had been robbed of a hit on a sinking liner in the top of the 5th, hit a Gibson pitch where no man could catch it. Linz's home run cut the Cardinal lead to just 7-5, and the dangerous Richardson was next, Maris and Mantle to follow. End of the line for Gibby? No chance! Bob got the other Bob to pop out. With a 7-5 win in game 7, St. Louis had won the 1964 World Series!

New York had two blowouts and a one-run game. St. Louis' had three nail-biters and another game that was one run until their last at-bats. The Yankees had scored 33 runs to the Cardinals 32. But St. Louis had spread it out over seven games, while the Yankees struggled to find offence in games three, four and five. Ultimately, that, may have cost them the 1964 World Series.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Pitching for San Francisco in the 1962, Don Larsen was the winning pitcher in game four. There are several ironies. For one, it was October 8th, exactly six years after he threw the only perfect game (let alone a no-hitter) in World Series history. Two, it was against the very same team that he was on in '56, the Yankees. It was even in Yankee Stadium, the site of his 27 straight outs!

There were some of his old teammates to worry about in this game. Mickey Mantle, fresh off his MVP year. The Mick had amazingly also been MVP in 1956 (and 1957). Yogi Berra, 38, but still going strong. Elston Howard, one year away from an MVP of his own. Whitey Ford was the starting pitcher, always money in the postseason. There was Bill Skowron, who hit a grand slam in game 7 of the 1956 World Series. Bobby Richardson, who was called up briefly in 1956, was also there. Then there was the second basemen that came close to beating out the Mick for MVP honours in '62. That was Bobby Richardson. Amazingly enough, my father saw New York play a game August 8th, 1956 against the Red Sox. Ralph Terry had made his debut for the Yankees two days earlier. The Yankees would trade him to Kansas before reacquiring him in the 1959 season. Terry did not pitch this game. But still another 1956 Yankee got into this game to pitch later.

Actually, Larsen did not start this game, but a Hall Of Famer did. Juan Marichal took the hill for the Giants. However, it was Bobby Bolin on the hill in the bottom of the 6th inning when he let the Yankees claw back from 2-0 down to tie it. Don Larsen came in. The Yankees used some moneyball from their big guns to score twice. Mantle and Roger Maris walked. With two down, Skowron cashed in Mickey with a single. Maris, with two MVPs of his own, was plated when Clete Boyer singled. Two on, two out, score 2-2!

And the very first batter Donny faced? Why, the very man who caught the last pitch Larsen threw in the perfect game. Larsen finished with a strikeout. But Yogi Berra was actually only pinch-hitting here for Whitey Ford. And this was no perfect game here as Berra walked. Bases loaded and two outs. Score tied. Wow! Wish I could have been there!

Tony Kubek grounded to Orlando Cepeda at first. Cepeda tossed it to Larsen, who covered first for the putout on out number three. And the very next inning, it all came undone for New York.

The Yankees may have failed with the bases loaded and two outs, but the Giants had no intention of losing this game. Tied game here, but down 2-1 in the 1962 Fall Classic. San Fran needed some offence fast. And they got it via a rather unlikely hero.

Jim Coates came in to pitch. He had been strong in 1960 and 1961 for the Yankees, but 1962 was a disappointment. Amazingly enough, he had a two-game trial of his own with the Bronx Bombers in...1956!

Having gone 13-3 in '60 and 11-5 the next year, he looked like one of those very good spot starters / long relievers. But 1962 saw Jim go only 7-6 with a 4.44 ERA. He allowed too many hits: 119 in 117 2/3 innings pitched!

And here he was doing exactly what you should never do. Jim walked the other Jim! Davenport was on to lead it off. After a strikeout of the next batter, Matty Alou stroked a pinch-hit double. Coates was out of there. Marshall Bridges came in and walked Bob Nieman intentionally, loading the bases with only one out. But when the dangerous Harvey Kuenn was retired on a pop fly, the situation was much better. And a little dramatic, perhaps. Bases loaded, two outs, score tied. Here we go again!

The batter was Chuck Hiller. Home runs hit in 1964, 1. Home runs hit lifetime, 20. The amount that The Mick and the batter on-deck (The Say Hey Kid, who just turned 83 the other day!) hit in about half a season. A half season of an off-season!

Yet Chuck slammed it to right and out of the yard. It was suddenly 6-2, San Francisco. Willie Mays was retired, but the game seemed over. Larsen's day was over for sure. Bob Nieman had batted for Ed Bailey, who was the announced pinch hitter for Don Larsen. It had all been brilliant manoeuvring all along, right?

Billy O'Dell got the Yankees in order in the bottom of the 7th. Bridges got two strikeouts and survived a walk to Davenport in the top of the 8th. Maris popped out to the catcher, leading off the bottom of the 8th. Howard and Skowron failed to get the ball out of the infield.

Hiller expanded on his unlikely heroics in the top of the 9th. With two outs and a man on second, he beat out a single to second. Bobby Richardson made a bad throw to first that allowed Alou to score. Mays fanned. But now it was 7-2 for the Giants!

O'Dell got the first two batters out in the last of the 9th, but then New York woke up. Kubek singled. Richardson kept it going by following suit. When Rookie Of The Year Tom Tresh singled, Kubek scored. 7-3. Mickey Mantle could really help by going yard here. But it was not meant to be as he forced Tresh. The Giants had tied the 1962 Fall Classic at two wins apiece with a 7-3 win.

So Larsen got the win in this big game. It turned out to be the last game he ever pitched in the World Series. And Don had faced just two batters. Nonetheless, it was his fourth World Series game he had won, against only two losses. That was much better than his 81-91 lifetime win - loss record. But this had been a game where two unlikely heros had played a part! That's what makes the Fall Classic so magical and enduring. Everyone gets a chance to do something special. Larsen's moment had been six years prior. Hillers' was on this day! But October 8, 1962 went into the record books as a win by Larsen and a slam by Hiller!

Monday, May 12, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Chicago White Sox were blanked twice in the 1919 World Series, just like they had been two years earlier. But their efforts here were not up to par with 1917.

With 8 suspected fixers, two of them pitchers, Chicago was at at disadvantage. Trailed 2 games to 1 to the Cincinnati Reds, The Chicago bats went into quit mode.

Game four matched Eddie Cicotte (one of the 8 suspected or proven fixers) against Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Jimmy Ring. Ironically, Cicotte, who was routed from the mound in the opener pitched well. But as you will see, he lost the game for the White Sox. Intentionally. Oh, some of his teammates chipped in to. With their, lack of efforts!

Cicotte started the game looking like someone who was willing to do any and all things to win. He ended up retiring the first 9 batters he faced. Ring got through the first inning 1-2-3, but then came the second. It appeared as if Chicago was going to tie the 1919 Fall Classic and maybe even deny Jimmy Ring a World Series ring.

Shoeless Joe Jackson lashed a tremendous double to lead off the White Sox's bottom of the second. Happy Felsch then got Joe to third with a sacrifice bunt. But Chick Gandil popped out. Jackson was still on third, but there was now two outs in this scoreless deadlock!

Swede Risberg walked, however, to keep the inning alive. Then he stole second. When Ray Schalk also walked, the bases were loaded. Up came Cicotte. Ed grounded out to second. It would prove to be Chicago's best chance to win the game.

Cicotte then got through the third, giving up just one hit. Ring had an inning where the Sox got no hits, but did make some noise. With one out, Jimmy hit Eddie Collins. After Buck Weaver's groundball moved Collins to second, Jackson reached on an error. Felsch grounded out.

Cicotte had his third 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth. This sure didn't look like someone who was trying to lose. Ring though, also got 'em in order in the bottom of the frame.

And then in the top of the 5th, the wheels came off the White Sox chariot. Cicotte got the leadoff man Edd Roush out, but then Pat Duncan made it all the way to second on what was probably an intentional throwing error by Cicotte. Eddie then upped the ante!

Larry Koft singled to left. Joe Jackson got to the ball and fired a perfect throw home. Gandil would later say he told Cicotte to misplay the throw. Eddie did just that. Not only did Duncan score, but Koft was now on second. It was 1-0 for the Reds. When Greasy Neal hit a double to left, it scored Koft. 2-0, Cincy!

The next two batters grounded out, so there was no further damage. But Cicotte's two errors would prove costly.

With one out in the bottom of the frame, it was time for Cincinatti's second error of the game. But there was not two in one inning. With one out, Morrie Rath, the Reds' second basemen, did about what Cicotte did in the top of the frame. Roth threw wild to first on Nemo Leibold's grounder. The result was the same, man on second with only one out. But Collins hit into a fielder's choice and Buck Weaver grounded out.

It was Cicotte that got all three batters he faced in the top of the 6th to ground out to third, second and short. Ring though, was in fine tune in the bottom of the inning, as only Gandil managed to reach first. And it was a harmless single.

Cicotte did it again in the top of the 7th. All three men again grounded out. Jimmy hit Ray Schalk to start the bottom of the frame. Once again, he settled down and retired the other three batters. Once again, the baserunner was stranded at first.

Cincy looked liked they might get more in the top of the 8th, but with a man on and one out, it was Ring that grounded back to Eddie. Cicotte must have been trying, as Chicago did turn two to get out of there.

Amazingly enough, all four batters in the bottom of the frame were suspected or proven fixers. Weaver popped out, Jackson fanned. Felsch singled for the White Sox's third and last hit. Gandil made sure Chicago stayed off the scoreboard as he struck out.

Cicotte again got 'em 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th to finish with a 5-hitter. Despite his dishonesty, he actually gave the Sox a pretty good chance to win the game by allowing only two runs over 9. Ring walked Schalk again, but again that was the only baserunner. Cincinnati took a 3 games to 1 lead in the 1919 World Series with a 2-0 win.

Game four was also in Chicago. But it was Lefty Williams, a proven fixer starting. But for a while, it looked like he and Chicago were going for the win.

Williams walked the leadoff man in the top of the first, and a sac bunt put him in scoring position. But Williams got the next two men. In the top of the second, Williams went into Walter Johnson mode as he had a 1-2-3 inning. 2 K's and a popup to the catcher.

Hod Eller, Cincinatti's starter looked shakey. He got out of the first inning, but not before Chicago got runners on the corners with only one out. In the second, Hod looked like Johnson, too. He fanned all three batters!

For the second straight inning, the Reds failed to get the ball out of the infield against Williams in the top of the third. Williams had another 1-2-3 inning. But Hod Eller was amazing at this point. Can you believe he got the White Sox 1-2-3, and all on strikeouts for the second straight inning. Now, he was like Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. Or maybe Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson!

Swede Risberg made an error in the top of the 4th, and then a stolen base followed. But Lefty had retired the first two batters on flyballs. The fourth batter of the inning was also retired on a fly. Williams, the dishonest White Sox, was working on a no-hitter through four. The error by Risberg was probably intentional. But the game was still scoreless.

The White Sox did a little better in the bottom of the frame. Weaver and Jackson (who probably were the only two suspected fixers who actually tried in the eight games) both were retired on comebackers. Eller then fanned Felsch. Hod was hot with a 1-hitter and 7 K's through 4!

Larry Koft finally got the first hit off Williams to lead off the top of the 5th. But then he was forced at second by Greasy Neale then tried to steal second but Ray Schalk, the catcher, nailed him. Williams then got Bill Rariden to fly out.

Schalk then stoked the White Sox second hit of the game with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Williams then became Eller's 8th strikeout of the game.

The Cincinnati Reds then blew the game wide open in the top of the sixth. Eller, who was doing it all, doubled to get things started. Felsch, playing center next to Jackson, made an error (again, probably intentionally) on the throe to second. Eller took third. When Morrie Rath followed with a single to right, Cincy had drawn first blood. Rath then made it to second on a sac bunt. Williams then walked Heinie Groh to put runners on first and second and only one out. The White Sox needed a double play here. It never came. Edd Roush lashed a triple to center and two more runs scored. 3-0, Reds. Duncan flied out to Jackson in left for the second out, but Edd tagged and scored the fourth run of the inning. Koft hit a fly to Felsch to end the inning.

The bottom of the inning was another 1-2-3 inning for Eller. Williams hardly looked like a pitcher who had just had a rough inning in the top of the 7th, however. He had another 1-2-3 inning of his own. He even got his third strikeout of the game when his mound adversary whiffed.

The White Sox could do nothing in their half of the frame. Jackson grounded out. Felsch popped up to the catcher. Gandil flied to center.

Williams started the 8th by getting Rath to fly to Jackson in right. Daubert and Groh both flied out to Felsch. Williams had tossed 8 innings and given up just 4 hits. But it was not enough. Even without his best efforts, he had given the Sox a great chance to win.

When the first two Chicago batters were retired in the bottom of the 8th, Williams was replaced by pinch hitter Eddie Murphy (not to be confused with this blogger's favourite comedian actor). Murphy didn't get a laugh out of any Chicago fan when he ended the inning by fanning. Hod Eller had 9 strikeouts through 8 innings.

Erskine Mayer came in to pitch for Chicago in the top of the 9th. But he failed to stop the Reds. It was not exactly all his own undoing, however. Edd Roush sent a grounder to second. Eddie Collins (not one of the fixers) did something many of the dishonest White Sox would do: make an error at a key moment!

A walk to Pat Duncan put runners on first and second with nobody out. Koft hit a sac bunt. Greasy Neale grounded out, but it scored Roush to make it 5-0 Cincinatti. Billy Rariden ended the inning by hitting a grounder to Collins, who fielded this one without any problem and tossed to first for out number three.

Leibold and Collins were retired on grounders to start the night. Chicago just was not getting the bat on the ball the right way this day. Either that, or they were missing entirely. Just when things looked hopeless, however, Buck Weaver hit a tremendous triple to the gap in right-center. Shoeless Joe was next. He sent a ground ball to Larry Koft, who fired to first. It got Jackson out. The White Sox had been blanked for the second straight game.

But the efforts of their hitters could at this point hardly go unnoticed. Even some of the players not involved were in a bad slump. Leibold had yet to get a hit, Collins was at .111. Of the honest Sox, only Schalk
was hitting well, .308. Dickey Kerr, who won game three for Chicago, had been 0 for 3 at the plate.

The White Sox players allegedly involved, Jackson and Weaver were hitting .316 and .300, respectively. Gandil, involved for sure, was at .278 after five games. But even that was not enough to stop the embarrassment of being shutout back-to-back!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Barney Schultz posted an ERA of 18.00 in the 1964 Fall Classic. But he played a pivotal part in the St. Louis Cardinals' surprise pennant that year. Barney went 1-3 with 14 saves in the regular season. However, his ERA was a mind-blowing 1.64 in 49 1/3 innings pitched. That knuckleball of Barney's was really keeping the batters bewildered.

So he met his match in the World Series against the Yankees. Things did get off to a good start for Schultz and the Cards in game one, as it went along as smoothly as it had down the stretch for the team that year.

The New York Yankees played better than the final score would indicate. For a while, things looked almost too good for the Bronx Bombers. Whitey Ford started against Ray Sadecki. Ford came in with a World Series record of 10 wins, lifetime. Not the guy you want to face if you are the National League champions.

St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but a 2-run home run by Tom Tresh put the Yankees up 2-1 in the second. The Yankees then scored twice more to the Cardinals one through 5 innings. Ford, who was experiencing some arm trouble, looked sharp. St. Louis managed just 1 hit off Whitey from the 3rd to the 5th inning.

The Cards made their charge in the bottom of the 6th. They knocked out Ford with 3 runs, two coming via the long ball off the bat of Mike Shannon. A triple by Curt Flood (lost by Tresh in the sun) scored a run against Al Downing. It was 6-4, St. Louis with nine outs to go. Sadecki had been removed for a pinch hitter in that big 6th inning, so in came Barney.

The top of the 7th inning was not easy. Roger Maris flied out, but Mickey Mantle singled. Howard also flied out, but Tresh walked. Joe Pepitone was the only Yankee to go quietly (not that Joe ever went quietly with his antics off the field) went he went down on strikes. Downing, by contrast, had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 7th.

Then, with one out in the top of the 8th, it was Johnny Blanchard who was sent up to hit for Downing. Blanchard, who always had a knack for getting big hits in pinch-hit situations, came through with a double. Bobby Richardson, who had a knack for coming through in all World Series situations, singled to score pinch runner Mike Hegan. That cut the lead to just a single tally (6-5, St. Louis). Maris made it on an infield single. Mantle, ever so dangerous with the game on the line, grounded out to second.

St. Louis gave Schultz some breathing room as they added 3 runs to the tally in the bottom of the frame. The Yankees sort of shot themselves in the foot. The runs were charged against Rollie Sheldon and Pete Mikklesen, but it was Clete Boyer with an error and Howard with a passed ball. Schultz, for his part, did nothing to help the cause. He lined into a double play. No matter, 9-5 Cardinals.

Schultz then retired the Yankees in order in the top of  the 9th to ensure a 9-5 St. Louis win. Schultz got the save for that, but it was a bit ugly. Four hits, a walk and a run allowed in three innings.

His ERA was at 3.33 after one game. But it was on its way up, starting in game 2.

Bob Gibson, the Cardinal ace, was gone after 8 innings of game 2. He didn't pitch too badly, and even fanned 9. But 8 hits and 4 walks is far too many against a great team like New York. St. Louis could manage only 2 runs of rookie Mel Stottlemyre in that span. Barney was needed in the 9th to try and hold the score at 4-2, Yankees. This time, New York really got to him!

Schultz faced Phil Linz to lead off the 9th. Linz, playing for the injured Tony Kubek, had been enjoying a great game so far. Even the subs were getting in on the act for the Yankee offensive firepower. Phil had two hits and a walk off Gibson. Here, he took a mighty rip and deposited one of Barney's offering over Lou Brock in left for a home run. A rather rude greeting, eh? 5-2, New York. Schultz got the dangerous Richardson out on a liner to short, but Roger Maris (who had singled in his last at-bat off Bob Gibson) singled here again. Schultz was done for the day. A Mantle double off Gordon Richardson scored another run. By the time the Yankees were finally retired in the 9th, New York had upped their lead to 8-2. The Cardinals scored a meaningless run in the bottom of the frame. Game over, series tied. Game three would break the deadlock.

The third game, now in New York was a pitcher's duel between young Jim Bouton and veteran Curt Simmons. Bouton, not an author yet, seemed to be wilting under the pressure as the game move into the later stages. With the game tied at 1 in the top of the 6th inning, St. Louis loaded the bases. Bouton escaped. The Yankees did the same in the bottom of the frame, but Simmons also escaped.

In the 9th, Bouton and the Yankees appeared doomed. Tim McCarver reached on an error by Linz. Shannon got the bunt down. Carl Warwick pinch-hit for Dal Maxville and walked. Simmons' day then came to an official end as Bob Skinner was also sent up to pinch-hit. Skinner got the pitch he was looking for, a fastball, and did he ever connect! Bob sent a fly to deep right-center. In almost any other ballpark, this one's in the seats. But it's Yankee Stadium, here! Roger Maris (playing center for Mickey Mantle, who was "right" next to him) made a fine catch, but McCarver (who had also been robbed by Maris on a fly to right-center, only in game 2) tagged and made it to third. Curt Flood also connected solidly, sending a liner to right. The Mick almost missed this one. Bouton had made it out of the jam. 1-1 after 8 1/2 innings.

Schultz was called on again in the bottom of the inning. But the first batter he faced was Mantle. The Mick was not in a happy mood. But he was in a frame of mind that included the long ball! McCarver would have scored had Mantle failed on that catch. Mickey had made an error earlier in the game, leading to that run by St. Louis. The Mantle body was starting to break down, but the willpower was still there. For all you basketball fans out there, what was about to transpire was something out of Larry Bird's and Micheal Jordan's flair for the dramatic. You know, the kind that come with a promise first, 100% delivery second?

Mantle came to the batter's box and turned to Elston Howard (hitting behind Mickey), who was standing in the on-deck circle and said, "Elston, you might as well go back to the clubhouse because I'm going to hit the first pitch for a home run." Mickey did just that.

The first pitch from Barney was later described by Schultz as a "knuckler that didn't knuckle", and Mickey Mantle sent it into the upper deck in right for a dramatic walk-off home run. A 2-1 Yankee win sent poor Barney to tears in the visitor's clubhouse.

The Cardinals had come back from 6 1/2 games back with only 12 to play to take the pennant from the Philadelphia Phillies, so they were no strangers to heroics either. They proved that by winning the next two games on  dramatic round-trippers from Ken Boyer (actually a grand slam) and Tim McCarver (Mac's being in the 10th inning). Game 6 was back in St. Louis.

It looked like game three all over again, only in a different ballpark. Same two pitchers. 1-1 tie. This time, it was Mantle's buddy Roger Maris that broke the tie with a home run off Simmons in the 6th. Mantle followed that by blasting the next pitch from Curt to deep right for another long ball. 3-1 Yankees. While the Cards hit Bouton well this game, there would be no comeback.

Schultz came on to pitch in the top of the 8th. Linz was again the first batter he faced. On a half-swing, Phil poked a single to center. Barney then got the next two batters out, so maybe there he finally had regained his game one form. But then, came up Mantle again. Schultz walked him intentionally. Now Elston Howard got his chance to hit against Schultz, unlike in game three. His single scored Linz to make it 4-1, New York. That's all the Bronx Bombers would need. When Barney walked Tom Tresh, the bases were loaded. Gordon Richardson came in and Joe Pepitone equalled what Ken Boyer did in game four by clearing the bases with a four-bagger. 8-1, New York. The Yankees would go on to win 8-3, same final score as game two. But game two (and five) starter Bob Gibson edged them in the finale, 7-5. Schultz did not get to pitch in game seven.

So it had been a rough ride for Barney in the 1964 Fall Classic. Without him, St. Louis might not have made it. And he did preserve the opener. But like Gord Richardson, Schultz sort of found out that even the ageing Bronx Bombers were a force to be reckoned with. Not even the knuckleball was enough!