It was the night of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens. In his first game at Yankee Stadium since he tried to kill Don Zimmer, Pedro gets the hell booed out of him – and that’s a lot of hell. But the Sox take a 4-0 lead over the Yankees in the 4th, before Joe Torre lifts Clemens and brings in Mike Mussina. Making the first relief appearance of his career, Mussina stops the bleeding.
Jason Giambi hits 2 home runs to make it 4-2 in the 7th, but David Ortiz – not for the first time, and certainly not for the last (cough-steroids-cough) – hurts the Yankees by blasting a home run off David Wells. It’s 5-2 Yankees, and although I’m not much of a lip-reader, Wells appears to be yelling, “Fuuuuuuuuck!”
Pedro gets the first out in the bottom of the 8th, but then… Derek Jeter doubles. Then Bernie Williams singles, scoring Jeter to make it 5-3. Pedro is over the 100-pitch mark. From pitches 1 through 99, he throws like Sandy Koufax; from pitch 100 onward, he throws like Sandy Duncan. Red Sox manager Grady Little goes to the mound to remove Pedro…
No! He leaves him in! We've got him! We've got the headhunting son of a bitch!
Hideki Matsui hits a ground-rule double down the right-field line, moving Bernie to third. Well, now, for sure, Little has to pull Pedro. No, he stays in the dugout. He’s sticking with Pedro come hell, high water, mystique or aura.
Jorge Posada, the man that Pedro the Punk threatened with a fastball to the head in Game 3, hits a looper into short center, scoring the tying runs.
Just 5 outs from the Pennant, and the greatest victory the Red Sox would have since, oh, 1918, they have choked again.
Mariano Rivera pitches the 9th, 10th and 11th for the Yankees. He pitches the top of the 11th pretty much on courage alone. The Yankees need to win it in the bottom of the 11th, because the bullpen situation doesn’t look good.
Tim Wakefield, the knuckleballer who won Games 1 and 4 of this series, is on the mound. Leading off the inning is Aaron Boone, the Yankee 3rd baseman.
You know where I was at this moment? I was going from place to place watching the game, and I decided to get on the Subway and head up to The Stadium. Win or lose, I felt I had to be there. But the Subway was crawling, seeming to take forever. I forgot that it was after midnight. Frustrated, I
got off at the 50th Street station of the A train.
Next thing I know, I’m standing in front of 220 West 48th Street, the Longacre Theatre. Do you know who built (in 1912) and owned this theater? Harry Frazee. The very man who broke up the Red Sox and sold off so many of their players to the Yankees, including Babe Ruth. What a place to be standing in as the Yankees and Red Sox battled for the Pennant.
In 1935, Clifford Odets’ play Waiting for Lefty debuted at the Longacre. Sox fans were still waiting for Alan Embree, the lefty that Little refused to bring in for Pedro.
It was 12:16 AM, actually October 17, 2003, but since the game started on the 16th, it goes down in history as October 16.
I had my headphones on, and on WCBS 880, I heard Charley Steiner say this:
There’s a fly ball, deep to left! It’s on its way! There it goes! And the Yankees are going to the World Series! Aaron Boone has hit a home run! The Yankees go to the World Series for the 39th time in their remarkable history! Aaron Boone down the left field line, they are waiting for him at home plate, and now he dives into the scrum! The Yankees win it, 6-5!
Together, Steiner and John Sterling yell Sterling’s tagline: “Ballgame over! American League Championship Series over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!” Steiner: “I’ve always wanted to say that!”
By the time I finally got home at around 2 in the morning, my hair was soaked with sweat, my eyes were aching from being up too late, my voice was shot from screaming, my hands throbbed from shaking and high-fiving, my legs and feet throbbed from all the walking.
I’ve never felt better in my life.
Boone joined Tommy Henrich (1949 World Series vs. Brooklyn Dodgers), Mickey Mantle (1964 WS vs. St. Louis Cardinals), Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS vs. Kansas City Royals), Jim Leyritz (1995 AL Division Series vs. Seattle Mariners) and Bernie Williams (Game 1 of ALCS in both 1996 and 1999) as Yankees who have hit walkoff home runs in postseason play.
And he joined Enos Slaughter (1946 Cardinals), Lou Boudreau (1948 Cleveland Indians), Bob Gibson (1967 Cardinals), Joe Morgan (1975 Cincinnati Reds), and, collectively, the 1978 Yankees (especially Bucky Dent) and the 1986 Mets as Red Sox postseason tormentors.
Jeter said, “We’ve got some ghosts in this Stadium.”
Fortunately, they made the trip across the street.
Clemens, Wells, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre walk out to the Babe Ruth Monument, and offer the Big Fella some champagne. Clemens slaps the plaque on the tablet, and says, “He’s smiling! He’s smiling! He’s smiling, Mel!”
Grady Little was not smiling. He was fired as Sox manager within days.
The next day’s Daily News headline read, “THE CURSE LIVES.” For the Sox… once again, it was “Wait Till Next Year.”
No, no. Really. They meant it this time.
Has it really been 10 years? Wow. Only 1 player is still with the Yankees: Derek Jeter. Still with the Red Sox: Only David Ortiz.
Boone got hurt in the off-season, leading the Yankees to trade for Alex Rodriguez. Injuries and a heart ailment ended his career after the 2009 regular season, after which he was an analyst on Fox’ postseason broadcasts as the Yankees won their first Pennant since his walkoff. He now works for ESPN.
A descendant of early American hero Daniel Boone, he is the grandson of 1950s major leaguer Ray Boone, the son of 1970s Phillies catcher Bob Boone, the brother of 1990s-2000s big-leaguer Bret Boone, the husband of Playboy’s Miss October 1998 Laura Cover), and the father of 2 children, neither of whom is anywhere near old enough to make the Boones MLB’s first 4-generation family. The David Bells — Gus, Buddy and David — didn’t beat them to being the first 3-generation, but 4-generation is still up in the air.
A lot can change in ten years. We now have a black President, Twitter, YouTube, the Kardashians on TV, Snooki, NCIS, Castle, and Kevin Youkilis has become a Red Sock and a Yankee.
And we have seen the Red Sox win 2 World Series, breaking the Curse of the Bambino — and we have seen them exposed as dirty rotten cheaters, and continue to lie about it, meaning we can no longer chant, “NINE-teen-EIGHT-teen! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap),” but we can still write 1918*.
October 16, 1861: At the Atlantic Grounds on Bedford‚ Long Island (now part of Brooklyn)‚ a crowd of 8‚000 see the host Atlantics score a record 26 runs in the 2nd inning to whip the Manhattan-based Mutuals‚ 52-27 in 6 innings. Because the 3rd game in the series will not be played‚ the Atlantics retain the "whip-pennant" for 1861.
Flying such a flag over your ground the season after winning a championship is the origin of the word "Pennant." It originated a few years earlier. No, baseball (still all-amateur at this point -- at least, officially) did not stop for the American Civil War. On the contrary: Soldiers, North and South, got exposed to the game in the East, and took it home with them, helping to spread the game. It had already been first referred to as "the national pastime" in 1856, but the Civil War made that term a lot more practical.
October 16, 1888: Eugene O'Neill is born in Manhattan. As far as I know, the great playwright had nothing to do with sports, although many a sporting event has seen like a Long Day's Journey Into Night. And Yankee Legend Mariano Rivera, Arsenal Legend Dennis Bergkamp, basketball legend George Gervin, pretty much any hockey player, and singer Jerry Butler would be interested in his play titled The Iceman Cometh.
October 16, 1900: Leon Allen Goslin is born in Salem, New Jersey. A .316 lifetime hitter, “Goose” is the only native of South Jersey to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He played in the World Series for the Washington Senators in 1933 and for the Detroit Tigers in 1934 and 1935, the last of these being his only World Championship. He and Tiger teammates Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer became known as the “G-Men” in those early days of the FBI. His bottom-of-the-9th single scored Mickey Cochrane to win Game 6 and the Series in ’35, for the Tigers’ first World Championship.
October 16, 1909: Rookie Charles “Babe” Adams comes through with a 6-hit shutout as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-0. It is his 3rd complete-game World Series victory and gives the Pirates their first World Championship.
He is the only rookie in the 20th Century to win a Game 7 in the World Series. The next to do it will be John Lackey of the Angels in 2002. (Frank "Spec" Shea in 1947 and Mel Stottlemyre in 1964 would be rookies starting Game 7s for the Yankees, but Mel would lose, and while the Yankees did win in '47, Shea would not be the winning pitcher. Billy Martin was planning on using Ron Guidry had the 1977 Series gone to a Game 7.)
The Pirates and Tigers combine for 34 errors‚ with Detroit contributing 19. Both of these figures remain World Series records. In the battle between the two best players in baseball, Pittsburgh's Honus Wanger excels much more than Detroit's Ty Cobb. Adams would be the only Pirate player still on the team when they won their next Pennant and Series, in 1925. By the time the Tigers won another Pennant, in 1934, none would be left.
The last survivors of this World Series? For the Pirates, pitcher Albert "Lefty" Leifield, who lived until 1970; for the Tigers, left fielder Davy Jones, who lived until 1972 -- beating out, by just 2 days, shortstop Owen "Donie" Bush. Ironically, Bush would be the manager of the next Pirate title team, and the namesake of the ballpark in his hometown of Indianapolis, home of one of the great teams of Triple-A ball, the Indianapolis Indians, whom he would serve as manager for many years.
October 16, 1912: Game 8 of the World Series. Game 2 had been called due to darkness while tied – no lights at ballparks in those days – so this will decide it. Christy Mathewson squares off against Hugh Bedient in quest of his first win of the Series.
Matty takes a 1-0 lead into the 7th‚ but with one out‚ Boston manager Jake Stahl hits a pop-up to short left field. The ball drops among Art Fletcher‚ Josh Devore‚ and Fred Snodgrass. Heinie Wagner walks‚ and with 2 outs‚ pinch hitter Olaf Henriksen doubles home the tying run. Smoky Joe Wood relieves Bedient‚ and the 2 aces match zeroes until Red Murray doubles and Fred Merkle singles in the 10th to give New York a 2-1 lead. It looks like the Giants will win the Series.
But in the last of the 10th‚ pinch hitter Clyde Engle lifts a can of corn to center fielder Snodgrass‚ and, in his own words, “Well, I dropped the darn thing.” Engle reaches 2nd base on the error.
In the next at-bat, Snodgrass makes a great catch of a long drive by Harry Hooper. If only Snodgrass had made an ordinary catch of Engle’s popup, and let Hooper’s drive drop for a hit, the final score would have been exactly the same, but the perception of how the teams got there would have been totally different, and Snodgrass wouldn’t have gone down in history as the man who made “The $30,000 Muff,” a figure equivalent to the difference between the totals of the winning and losing teams’ shares. (About $700,000 in today's money.)
To be fair, though, Snodgrass wasn’t a bad ballplayer at all, and dealt with it far better than teammate Merkle did with his “boner” that helped to cost the Giants the 1908 Pennant. As it is, Merkle has, for the moment, the RBI that will win the World Series, and stands to have been completely redeemed.
But Mathewson, for a decade the very definition of a control pitcher, walks Steve Yerkes, bringing up Tris Speaker. The all-time leader in victories by a National League pitcher, with 373, faces the all-time leader in doubles, with 792, a true classic confrontation.
"Matty" gets "Spoke" to pop a high foul along the first-base line. Catcher John Meyers -- a member of the Cahuilla Indian tribe and thus nicknamed "Chief" -- chases it‚ but it drops a few feet from Merkle‚ who could have taken it easily. Much more so than the 1908 “boner,” this is something for which to fairly criticize Merkle.
Reprieved‚ Speaker didn’t need a written invitation to put his .345 lifetime batting average to work. He singles in the tying run and sends Yerkes to third. After Duffy Lewis is walked intentionally‚ third baseman Larry Gardner hits a long sacrifice fly to a retreating Devore that scores Yerkes with the winning run.
Just as in the playoff necessitated by the Merkle’s Boner game in 1908, Mathewson, often hailed as the greatest pitcher of all time (especially back then), did not get the job done.
The Red Sox win the World Series in their first season in Fenway Park. By the time Fenway has hosted 7 seasons, the Sox will have won 4 World Championships there, plus the first-ever World Series from when they were playing at the Huntington Avenue Grounds. In their next 85 seasons at Fenway, the Sox will win a grand total of no World Series.
Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Fred Snodgrass for the New York Giants Losing the 1912 World Series
5. The Coin Toss. The Series was only supposed to go 7 games. But when Game 2 was called due to darkness and went into the books as tie, and the Series was tied 3-3-1 after 7, Game 8 hadn't been planned. So to decide home-field advantage, instead of saying, "We're already in Boston, let's just hold it here," a coin was flipped to decide it. The Red Sox won the toss, and chose to stay put at Fenway. Had the Giants won, and chosen to go down to New York and play Game 8 in front of a friendly, deeply passionate New York crowd at the Polo Grounds, who knows?
4. Tris Speaker. The Grey Eagle was now seriously challenging Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner for the title of best player in baseball. He batted .383 for the season -- an OPS+ of a whopping 188 -- and batted .300 for this Series. He was key in the deciding Game 8.
3. Fred Merkle and Chief Meyers. If either of them had caught Speaker's popup, the Giants might have held on to win. In fact, you can make a better case for Merkle being a "bonehead" on October 16, 1912 than you can for him being such on September 23, 1908. Ordinarily, both he and the Chief were very smart players, but they both blew it big-time on this one.
2. Christy Mathewson. Even 100 years later, it seems like sacrilege to blame "The Christian Gentleman" for this loss, but, just as in the Merkle playoff 4 years earlier, if he had pitched like Christy Mathewson, the Giants would have won both games.
1. The Red Sox were better. True, the Giants won 103 games and were defending NL Champions, but the Sox won 105 -- a record for Boston baseball that has never been matched. And the Sox did win 3 of the first 4 decisions in the Series. While the Giants won the Pennant again in 1913 and again in 1917, the Sox would win the World Series again in 1915, 1916 and 1918 -- the Giants wouldn't win another until 1921.
The last survivors of this Series were: For the Red Sox, Wood, who lived on until 1985, at the age of 95; and, for the Giants, Hall of Fame lefthander Richard "Rube" Marquard, who lived on until 1980, at the age of 93.
Snodgrass was a standup guy about it all for the last 62 years of his life, becoming a banker in Oxnard, California, and later being elected the city's Mayor. He died on April 5, 1974, at the age of 86.
October 16, 1917: With the U.S. role in World War I well underway, the day after the Chicago White Sox beat the Giants in the World Series, they play an exhibition game for 600 soldiers at Garden City‚ Long Island. The Sox win‚ 6-4.
October 16, 1921: In defiance of a ban on World Series participants playing post-season exhibitions‚ launched by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Yankees Babe Ruth‚ Bob Meusel‚ and pitcher Bill Piercy launch a barnstorming tour in Buffalo. Five days later‚ they cut it short in Scranton. In the meantime, Ruth openly challenges Landis to act. The Judge does‚ fining the players their World Series shares -- $3‚362.26, or $46,589.85 in today's money -- and suspending them until May 20 of the 1922 season.
October 16, 1940: David Albert DeBusschere is born in Detroit. He pitched in 2 seasons for the Chicago White Sox, but he was also a basketball star in his home town, first for the University of Detroit, then for the Pistons, where, briefly, he became the youngest head coach in NBA history, at 24.
For a long time, Madison Square Garden would host NBA doubleheaders, with the Knicks playing the nightcap but not the opener. When the new Garden opened on February 14, 1968, Dave DeBusschere, playing for the Pistons, scored the new building’s first basket.
The Knicks traded Walt Bellamy to the Pistons to get DeBusschere, already with a reputation as one of the league’s best defensive players. He led the defense that helped the Knicks win the NBA Championship in 1970 and 1973. He later served as head coach and general manager of the Knicks, and his Number 22 has been retired. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.
My generation knows DeBusschere best as the Knick GM who won the first pick in the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery in 1985, selecting Patrick Ewing. Sadly, the great Double D suffered a heart attack and died in 2003, age 63.
Also on this day, Leonard Barrie Corbin is born in Lamesa, Texas. Better known as Barry Corbin, he’s best known for playing Maurice Minnifield, boss of Cicely, Alaska, on the 1990s CBS series Northern Exposure. He also played a basketball coach on the WB drama One Tree Hill, and, like his fellow Northern Exposure stars John Corbett and John Cullum, is also renowned for his commercial voiceover work.
October 16, 1941: James Timothy McCarver is born in Memphis -- but, like James Paul McCartney, born 8 months later, is best known by his middle name. He played from 1959 to 1980, and is the only baseball player to be thrown out of major league games in 4 different decades.
But he was also the catcher on the 1964 and ’67 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, and Steve Carlton’s “personal catcher” on the Philadelphia Phillies – he had also caught Carlton on the ’67 Cards. Although he did not play in the 1980 postseason, and in fact served as a Phils broadcaster during the NLCS, he received a World Series ring when the Phils won. But he is best known as a broadcaster, for the Mets and several networks. He’s also written several books about baseball.
The weird thing about McCarver is that the ballpark in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, which served as the home of a series of Memphis teams from 1968 to 1999, was renamed Tim McCarver Stadium while he was not only still alive, but still active in baseball. It has since been replaced by a more modern facility, and was demolished in 2005. Like Helen Hayes with the first Broadway theater named for her, McCarver has outlived the "playhouse" named for him. No wonder that, when he recorded Tim McCarver Sings Songs from the Great American Songbook in 2009, one of the songs he chose was the one that Joe Raposo wrote about Ebbets Field for Frank Sinatra: “There Used to Be a Ballpark.”
October 16, 1946: Suzanne Marie Mahoney is born in San Bruno, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. We know her as Suzanne Somers. She starred in 2 ABC sitcoms, playing Chrissie Snow on Three’s Company in the 1970s and Carol Lambert on Step By Step in the 1990s.
Despite being 67 years old and having survived breast cancer, she remains in the phenomenal shape that has allowed her to write several fitness books, make her own exercise videos, and serve as the spokeswoman for the Thighmaster.
October 16, 1948: Leo David Mazzone is born in Keyser, West Virginia. He was the longtime pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, and TV cameras frequently showed him rocking back and forth on the dugout bench, which drove Brave-haters crazy.
He was their pitching coach from 1979 to 1990, and they reached the postseason just once. But from 1991 to 2005, they made the postseason every year – except, of course, for 1994, when there was no postseason. In 2006, he was hired as the pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles, and after two years of being unable to repeat his Atlanta magic, he was fired. He now works as a baseball analyst for Fox.
October 16, 1950: Branch Rickey's contract as president, and de facto general manager, of the Brooklyn Dodgers expires. He is still owner of one-quarter of the franchise. With the death of quarter-owner John L. Smith, another quarter-owner, Walter O'Malley, buys Smith's share from his heirs, making him the largest owner: O'Malley 50 percent, Rickey 25 percent, and James and Dearie Mulvey 25 percent. Dearie was the daughter of Steve McKeever, who with his brother Ed ran the construction company that helped former sole owner Charlie Ebbets build Ebbets Field in 1912-13; James was her husband.
O'Malley knew he could dominate the Mulveys, and did so until he bought them out in 1975. But he and Rickey were both very strong personalities, with little in common except cheapness, the Republican Party, and the belief that they always had to be right. O'Malley hated everything about Rickey, including his favorite player, Jackie Robinson, and his favorite broadcaster, Red Barber; and would force Rickey, Robinson and Barber out of the organization -- all before moving the team, meaning he was a dirty bastard even if the team were still in Brooklyn to this day.
O'Malley offered to buy Rickey's quarter-share of the club. Seeing no reason to hold onto it, Rickey decided to comply. However, in a final act of spite, Rickey instead offered the club percentage to a friend for a million dollars. His chances at complete franchise control at risk, O'Malley was forced to offer more money, and Rickey finally sold his portion for $1,050,000 -- just under $10 million in today's money. (In the era of free agency and big TV packages, in spite of its recent financial troubles, basketball legend Magic Johnson bought the Dodger franchise for $1.4 billion last year.)
After leaving the Dodgers, Rickey was offered the position of general manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Health problems forced him to retire in 1955, but his contributions would help lead to a World Championship for Pittsburgh in 1960. He died in 1965.
October 16, 1953, 60 years ago: Al Sobotka is born. You probably won’t recognize his name unless you’re from Michigan, or maybe Windsor, Ontario. But he is the building operations manager for 2 Detroit arenas, the Joe Louis Arena and the older, adjacent Cobo Hall.
In this role, he is also the zamboni driver for the hockey team that plays at JLA, the Detroit Red Wings. He’s also the guy who picks up any octopus that’s thrown onto the ice, and if the Wings are winning, he’ll twirl the octopus around over his head. The Wings have won 4 Stanley Cups while he’s been an employee, and he’s gotten a ring for each of them.
October 16, 1956: Jules Rimet dies, 2 days after his 83rd birthday. He was the longtime president of FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, the world’s governing body for soccer. (The name comes from a shortening of “association football” to “assoc.”) He was the founder of the World Cup, whose championship trophy is named for him.
October 16, 1957: Hall-of-Fame slugger Hank Greenberg is fired by the owners of the Cleveland Indians. Greenberg‚ one of the architects of the strong Cleveland teams of the early 1950s‚ will be replaced by Frank "Trader" Lane‚ but will continue as a minority shareholder in the team until Bill Veeck, who had hired him for the Indians in 1948, hires him for the front office of the Chicago White Sox when he buys them in 1959. Lane’s hiring will be a disastrous one for the Indians.
October 16, 1958: Timothy Francis Robbins is born in West Covina, California, outside Los Angeles. The actor-director is best known for playing Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh in Bull Durham, where he met Susan Sarandon, who became his life-partner for the next 21 years. Unfortunately, like his former better half, he’s a hardcore Mets and Rangers fan. Go ahead, Tim, blow out those 55 candles. Just blow ‘em out. Don’t think, Meat, just blow.
October 16, 1959: Brian David Harper is born in San Pedro, California. He was the catcher for the Minnesota Twins on their 1991 World Championship team. He is now the hitting instructor for the Chicago Cubs' Class AAA team, the Des Moines-based Iowa Cubs.
October 16, 1962: Game 7 of the World Series at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Tony Kubek, who missed much of the season due to military service, grounds into a double play in the 5th inning, but a run scores on the play.
The score remains Yankees 1, Giants 0 in the bottom of the 9th. With 2 outs and Matty Alou on first‚ Willie Mays rips a double to right off Ralph Terry‚ but great fielding by Roger Maris keeps Alou from scoring.
The Yankees now have a choice to make: Have the righthanded Terry, who gave up Bill Mazeroski’s Series-winning homer in Game 7 in 1960, pitch to the next batter, the dangerous lefthander Willie McCovey; or walk him to load the bases and set up the Series-clinching out at any base, and pitch to the equally dangerous but righthanded Orlando Cepeda. Between them, they would hit 900 home runs in the major leagues. It’s like choosing between the guillotine and the hangman’s noose.
They decide to pitch to McCovey. “Stretch” hits a screaming liner toward right field‚ but second baseman Bobby Richardson takes one step to his left and snares it. Ballgame over, Yankees win, theeee Yankees win. Barely. It is the first World Series Game 7 that ends 1-0. There has since been only one more, in 1991, and that one went 10 innings.
It is the Yankees’ 20th World Championship, their second in a row. Terry, who had also won 23 regular season games, Game 5 of the Series, and soon the Cy Young Award, is awarded the Series MVP award. He is fully redeemed for having given up the Series-winning home run to Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates 2 years earlier. However, the Yankees will not win another World Series for 15 years. The Giants? They would have to wait another 27 years just to get into another Series, and won't win one until 2010.
Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, a Giants fan living in nearby Santa Rosa, soon draws a cartoon having Charlie Brown yell to the heavens, “Why couldn’t McCovey’s drive have been just three feet higher?” McCovey did his job, and the Giants took the Series to the last out of the last game. They just got beat by a team that was a little bit better.
Still alive from this Series, 51 years ago, are Yankees Terry, Richardson, Kubek, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Jim Coates, Bud Daley, and Hector Lopez; and Giants McCovey, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Felipe Alou, Billy Pierce, Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bolin, Ernie Bowman, Jim Davenport, Stu Miller, Billy O'Dell, John Orsino, and, oddly, a man who'd been a Yankee World Series hero, Don Larsen.
Also on this day, Manute Bol is born in Turalei, in what is now the Republic of South Sudan. The son of a Dinka tribal chief, he was 7-foot-6, and until Georghe Mursean, also a Washington Bullet, he was probably the tallest player in NBA history. He is the only player ever to block more shots than he made. He played for the Bullets, the Golden State Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers (where, naturally, he wore Number 76) and the Miami Heat. On both the Bullets and, previously, for the minor-league Rhode Island Gulls, his teammate was Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, at 5-foot-3 the shortest player in NBA history.
After working in public relations for Ethiopian Airlines, and with African refugee groups, he was badly hurt in a car crash in 2004, and died of kidney failure in 2010. He was just 47.
October 16, 1968: American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, teammates at San Jose State University and the Gold and Bronze Medal winners, respectively, in the 200 meters, are kicked off the U.S. Olympic track team for their Black Power salute on the medal stand in Mexico City.
Also on this day, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Ellis Kinder dies during open-heart surgery, probably complicated by heavy drinking all through his adult life. Kinder was one of the heroes of Boston’s 1948 and 1949 Pennant runs, though both fell short. Yet despite not becoming a big-league regular until he was 31, he won 102 games and saved 102 others in his career. Had he come along 40 years later, in the era of bullpen specialists and rehab, he might have been one of the best relief pitchers ever. He was only 54.
October 16, 1969: Yes, it happened. Was it actually a “miracle”? Not really, the Mets unquestionably outplayed the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. That’s what happens when you peak in the first at-bat of the Series (Don Buford’s leadoff home run) and then presume that the Series is going to be a cakewalk: You get frosted.
In Game 5, with the Orioles leading 3-0 in the bottom of the 6th, Cleon Jones‚ the only Met to have hit .300 – in fact, his .340 remained a Met single-season record until John Olerud’s .359 in 1998 – is hit on the foot with a pitch, much like the unrelated Nippy Jones of the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series. And, like Nippy, Cleon proves he was hit by showing the umpire a shoe-polish stain on the ball. He is awarded first base, and then Donn Clendenon hits a home run to make it 3-2 Baltimore. Al Weis ties it up in the 7th, and in the 8th, Ron Swoboda doubles, and the O’s uncharacteristically make 2 errors, leading to Mets 5, Orioles 3.
Jerry Koosman goes the distance. Just as the 1999 film Frequency used the ’69 World Series as a major plot point, connecting the past with that film’s present, so, too, does the final out link the Mets' 2 and, so far, only World Championships. The last Oriole batter is second baseman Dave Johnson. Or, as he was sometimes known, Davey Johnson. And 17 years before he manages the Mets to the 2nd title, he flies to left, where Cleon Jones is under it, and, at 3:17 PM, that’s the Mets' 1st title.
As Curt Gowdy said on NBC, “There’s a fly ball to left, waiting is Jones, he’s under it, the Mets are the World Champions! Jerry Koosman is being mobbed! Look at this scene!”
Thousands upon thousands of fans ran onto the field and took whatever souvenirs they could find, a repeat of the September 24 Division clincher and the October 6 Pennant clincher, and then some.
Like the New England Patriots against the St. Louis Rams in their first Super Bowl win, or the Giants against the Patriots 7 years later, the '69 Mets acted as if there was no pressure, as if the pressure was all on the other guys. It really wasn’t. The Mets had fun. And their fans had fun. It was fun they did not expect to have. And sometimes, that’s the best kind of fun of all.
And that’s why the win was not just glorious, but, to use the cliché, Amazin’.
But I still hate the Mets.
October 16, 1973, 40 years ago: The Oakland Athletics win Game 3 of the World Series, 3-2 in 11 innings over the New York Mets. Bert Campaneris gets the winning RBI. In the bottom of the 10th, Willie Mays pinch-hits for A's pitcher Paul Lindblad, and grounds to short, where Bud Harrelson turns a force play. It is Mays' last major league appearance.
In a private clubhouse meeting‚ Dick Williams tells A's players he will resign after the Series, win or lose. He has had it with the meddling of team owner Charlie Finley.
October 16, 1974: A’s pitcher Ken Holtzman‚ who due to the designated hitter hadn't come to bat all season‚ belts a 3rd-inning home run, and gets the win with Rollie Fingers in relief. Oakland scores 4 in the 6th to wrap up Game 4, 5-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It will be 34 years before another pitcher homers in a World Series game.
October 16, 1976: In Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees, Dan Driessen, batting fifth for the Cincinnati Reds, becomes the first National League player to be used as a designated hitter. The DH was not employed prior to this year's Fall Classic, although the concept had been adopted and used in the American League since 1973. The Reds win, and will go on to sweep the Series.
October 16, 1977: The Dodgers stay alive in the World Series with a 10-4 victory in Game 5. Yeager and Reggie Smith homer as Don Sutton pitches a complete game. Reggie Jackson, who homered in Game 4, does so again in Game 5.
October 16, 1978: As the World Series heads west to Los Angeles for Game 6, Dan Dailey dies at age 62. He starred in two baseball movies, playing Hall-of-Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean in The Pride of St. Louis, and a peanut vendor turned baseball dad in the original version of The Kid From Left Field.
October 16, 1980: Suzanne Brigit Bird is born in Syosset, Long Island, New York. Sue Bird is one of the premier female basketball players of all time. She led the University of Connecticut to the 2000 and 2002 National Championships, going 114-4 there. She led the Seattle Storm to the 2004 WNBA Championship, and was a member of the 2004 and 2008 U.S. teams that won Olympic Gold Medals.
Her father is originally from Russia -- the family name had been Boorda -- and she played professionally there, for the women's basketball team at the multi-sport club Spartak Moscow, before returning to the Storm.
October 16, 1981: Anthony Reyes is born. He won Game 1 of the 2006 World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals, but has been injured for much of his career and hasn't appeared in the major leagues since 2009. Having been released by the Cleveland Indians organization in 2011, it looks like his career is over.
October 16, 1983: Eddie Murray slams a pair of home runs and Scott McGregor pitches a 5-hitter, as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-0 at Veterans Stadium, and win the World Series 4-1. Baltimore catcher Rick Dempsey‚ who hit .385 with 4 doubles and a home run‚ is the Series MVP.
The Orioles win their 3rd World Series, marking a unique double: Edward Bennett Williams, famed trial lawyer, majority owner of the Orioles, and minority owner and former majority owner of the Washington Redskins, becomes the only man ever to be an owner of the current World Series and Super Bowl champions at the same time. (NFL rules prohibit a majority owner from being a majority owner in another sport, so he sold some of his stake in the Redskins to Jack Kent Cooke, former owner Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, builder of the Forum arena outside L.A., and the last owner of the minor-league baseball team that gave its name to an NHL powerhouse, the Toronto Maple Leafs.)
This caps a period where they have finished 1st 8 times in 18 years, and have at least been competitive almost continuously since 1960. But, due to their core players getting old and later mismanagement by owner Peter Angelos, they have not played a World Series game since.
The last out is a line shot to shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., son and namesake of the longtime 3rd base coach. He will play another 18 seasons, but never appear in another World Series.
October 16, 1985: Baseball gets its first intrastate World Series since 1974‚ as the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals win their respective Pennants. Kansas City beats the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 in Game 7, to cap a comeback from a 3-games-to-1 deficit. While in Los Angeles‚ Jack Clark drills a 3-run home run deep into the left field pavilion, off Tom Niedenfuer with 2 outs in the top of the 9th and first base open to give the Cardinals a 7-5 victory over the Dodgers, and a 4-2 series win.
October 16, 1995: The Yankees sign former Met superstar pitcher Dwight Gooden‚ who has been on suspension for violation of his substance abuse program. George Steinbrenner likes comeback stories, redemption stories. This one works out for the Yankees, and for Doctor K, at least for 1996.
October 16, 1996: Eighty-four people are killed and more than 180 injured as 47,000 soccer fans attempt to squeeze into the 36,000-seat Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.
October 16, 1999: Jean Shepherd dies at age 78. The author and former late-night talk-show host on New York radio station WOR, best known today as the writer and narrator of the film A Christmas Story, was born in Chicago and grew up in nearby Hammond, Indiana.
He was a tremendous Chicago White Sox fan, and hosted the team’s 1987 video history. He said, “If I was a colonel in some awful war, and there was a pillbox that had to be taken, and it looked like a suicide mission, I’d look out at my men and say, ‘Are there any White Sox fans here? Follow me!’ And those White Sox fans would join me, and we’d take that pillbox! Because White Sox fans are special.”
Well, Met fans are special. In fact, as my sister would say, they’re “especially special.” But tonight, Game 4 of the NLCS, they have reason to be happy. The Mets trip the Braves‚ 3-2‚ to stay alive. John Olerud drives home all 3 New York runs with a solo homer in the 6th inning‚ and a 2-run single off John Rocker in the 8th. Rick Reed shuts out Atlanta over the first 7 innings on a single hit.
Shortly before this series, Rocker, sticking his nose in the Mets-Braves “rivalry,” says, “I hate the Mets. I hate their fans. How many times do you have to beat a team to make their fans shut up?” The lunkheaded redneck had a point, but we still don’t know the answer. After this game, interviewed in the locker room, Rocker flaps his gums again: “I would say the majority of Met fans aren’t even humans. They’re more like... Neanderthals.” I've said as much, but to John "Off His" Rocker, we can only say that it takes one to know one.
Yankees Fans have considerably less reason to be happy tonight, after what happened in the afternoon. The Red Sox roll over the Yankees‚ 13-1 at Fenway Park‚ behind the pitching of Pedro Martinez. Nomar Garciaparra gets 4 hits for Boston‚ while John Valentin drives home 5 runs. Garciaparra‚ Valentin‚ and Brian Daubach all homer for the Sox. New York now leads the ALCS‚ 2-games-to-1.
Pedro outpitches Roger Clemens, and Sox fans, still thinking of him as a traitor, give him the worst ripping any player has ever received at Fenway Park. One fan holds up a sign: “Roger, thanks for the memories, especially this one.” After he leaves the game, a chant goes up: “Where is Roger?” After a few rounds of this, a counter-chant goes up: “In the shower!” But, as Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy would write afterwards, the Sox fans who showed up seemed to think the point of coming was to stick it to Clemens, and it wasn’t: The point was to beat the Yankees. The Sox beat the Yanks on this day, but that’s the only game they win in the series; it turns out to be the only game the Yankees lose in the entire postseason.
October 16, 2000: The Mets defeat the Cardinals‚ 7-0 at Shea Stadium behind Mike Hampton‚ to win their 1st pennant since 1986. Hampton takes NLCS MVP honors with his 16 scoreless innings and 2 victories. Todd Zeile drives home 3 runs with a bases loaded double for New York.
It is the Mets' 4th Pennant, following 1969, 1973 and 1986. They're still waiting for their 5th.
October 16, 2004: The Yankees maul the Red Sox‚ 19-8 at Fenway Park‚ to take a commanding 3-games-to-0 lead in the ALCS. The 19 runs remain an LCS record. Hideki Matsui leads the way for New York with 5 hits‚ 5 RBI‚ and 5 runs scored. Alex Rodriguez also score 5 for the Yankees. Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams each have 4 hits. Matsui hits a pair of HRs‚ and Rodriguez and Sheffield connect once each for the Yanks. Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon homer for Boston.
The Yankees could have wrapped it up the next day with a 4th win in an ALCS. It took them another 5 years to get it.
October 16, 2005: The White Sox clinch their first Pennant in 46 years – the first Pennant for either Chicago team since the ChiSox clinched that day, September 22, 1959 – as they defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim‚ 6-3‚ behind Jose Contreras. Joe Crede homers and drives in 3 runs for Chicago, and Paul Konerko is named MVP of the ALCS.
October 16, 2010: The Texas Rangers record the first Playoff win at home in the 50-year history of the franchise, when they take Game 2 of the ALDS, defeating the Yankees, 7-2 . The Rangers Ballpark victory ends a 10-game postseason losing streak against New York, that includes yesterday's heartbreaking loss in which Texas had an early 5-0 lead over the Bronx Bombers.
If only the Yankees had won this Game 2, it might have stopped the Rangers from winning the 2010 and 2011 Pennants. Oh well.