October 1, 1921, 90 years ago today: The New York Yankees sweep a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Athletics at the Polo Grounds -- before there was a Yankee Stadium. The first game is a 5-3 win that clinches the Yankees' 1st Pennant. The second game was a 7-6 Yankee win in 11 innings. Pitching the last 4 innings and winning for the Yankees... Babe Ruth.
I don't have footage of this game. I do have footage of another of note on this day.
October 1, 1961, 50 years ago today: The Yankees defeat the Boston Red Sox, 1-0. The Yankees had long since clinched the Pennant, and the Red Sox were terrible, so this game was meaningless. Or was it?
Here's how Phil Rizzuto called the only run of the game on WCBS radio. Go to it, Scooter:
Here comes Roger Maris, they're standing up, waiting to see if Roger is going to hit Number 61. Here's the windup, the pitch to Roger, way outside, ball one. And the fans are starting to boo. Low, ball two, that one was in the dirt. And the boos get louder. Two balls, no strikes on Roger Maris. Here's the windup, fastball, hit deep to right! This could be it! Way back there! Holy cow, he did it! Sixty-one for Maris! And look at the fight for that ball out there! Holy cow, what a shot! Another standing ovation for Roger Maris, and they're still fighting for that ball out there, climbing over each other's back. One of the greatest sights I've ever seen here at Yankee Stadium."
Here’s a neat trivia question: Who played right field for the Yankees the day Roger Maris hit his 61st home run?
No, not Maris himself. He was playing center field, in place of the injured Mickey Mantle. Johnny Blanchard started the game in right field, before moving behind the plate in relief of Elston Howard; Hector Lopez, who had taken Yogi Berra’s place in left field, moved to right, and Jack Reed moved to left, taking Howard’s place in the batting order.
Of the players who appeared in this game for the Yankees, 50 years ago, the following 8 players are still alive: Yogi, Lopez, Reed, Bill “Moose” Skowron, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Bob Hale (relieving Moose at 1st base and appearing in his final major league game), and Luis Arroyo. Whitey Ford is still alive, but did not appear in the game.
For the Red Sox, there are 7 still living: Tracy Stallard, who gave up the home run but otherwise pitched well, Carl Yastrzemski (the Southampton, Long Island native was in the 1st of 23 seasons of a Hall of Fame career), Frank Malzone (a Bronx native), Chuck Schilling (a Brooklyn native and no relation to Curt), future big-league manager Russ Nixon, Don Gile, and Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, who, 2 years earlier, became the 1st black player on the Sox, the last team to integrate, but who proved so inept on the field that he was cut by the Mets after the 1963 season and never played in the majors again. Seriously, how bad do you have to be to get cut by a 111-loss team, when you’re only 30? Actually, Green had his best season in 1961, batting .260 with 12 doubles.
In 1998, Mark McGwire would hit 70 and Sammy Sosa hit 66. In 1999, McGwire hit 65 and Sosa hit 63. In 2001, Barry Bonds hit 73 and Sosa hit 64.
But who's kidding who? Those guys used steroids. If I'm wrong, they can sue me, and testify under oath that they didn't.
Oh, wait, Bonds already did testify, and as a result was convicted of obstruction of justice. And McGwire has since confessed.
The real single-season home run record is still Roger Maris: 61 in '61. And it was accomplished 50 years ago today.
Oh, another big thing that happened on October 1, 1961, 50 years ago today: RCA Records released "Can't Help Falling In Love" by a singer you might have heard of, named Elvis Presley.
This isn't about the Yankees, but it's worth mentioning:
October 1, 1950: Dick Sisler hits a home run in the top of the 10th inning at Ebbets Field, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-1, to clinch the National League Pennant. It is the only Pennant the Phils would win in a 75-year stretch from 1915 to 1980.
Still alive from this game, 61 years later: For the Phillies, 3 reserves, Stan Lopata, Ralph "Putsy" Caballero, and Jackie Mayo, who was a defensive replacement for Sisler in the bottom of the 10th; for the Dodgers, Don Newcombe (who gave up Sisler's homer) and Tommy Brown.
Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers was stopped after an inning and a half, with the game tied, 1-1. It is supposed to resume tonight, in about an hour -- weather permitting. It may not.
Time for Commissioner Bud Selig to make a choice: The best interests of baseball, or Rupert Murdoch's dirty Fox TV money.