Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 1 Baseball Memories

Getting closer. At least I'm in the right month now.

October 1, 1932: Did he or didn’t he? He may not have pointed to center field in Game 3 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs and said, “I’m gonna hit the ball THERE.” But the film certainly shows him pointing at pitcher Charlie Root.  It looks like he’s sending SOME sort of message.  On the next pitch, boom.  Message received.  So, by my definition, yeah, Babe Ruth called his shot.
 
The last living player from either team was Charlie Devens, Yankee pitcher 1932-34, died August 13, 2003, at age 93.  The last to have actually played in the game was Frank Crosetti, Yankee shortstop 1932-48, and coach 1949-68, died February 11, 2002, at age 91.
Also on this day, Joe DiMaggio makes his professional debut.  Like Mickey Mantle, who would succeed him as the Yankees’ center fielder, it was as a shortstop.  Also like Mantle, it doesn’t last long.  A few weeks short of his 18th birthday, DiMag has been put into the lineup for the last game of the season for his hometown club, the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.  A year later, he will become the best pro ballplayer west of St. Louis.  Maybe the best east of it, too.
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October 1, 1866: A crowd of 30,000 people, believed to be the largest in baseball history to that point, watches a game between the host Athletics (no connection to the American League team founded in 1901) and the Atlantics of Brooklyn, considered the best team in the country at the time. The A’s score 2 runs in the 1st inning, but the crowd rushes the field, and the game is called when they won’t get off.
 
October 1, 1903: The first World Series game is played, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston.  Deacon Phillippe of the Pittsburgh Pirates outpitches Cy Young of the Boston Pilgrims.  Jimmy Sebring of the proto-Red Sox hits the first World Series home run, but the Pirates win, 7-3.
Northeastern University’s Cabot Gym is now on the site, and a statue of Young stands at the approximate location of the pitcher’s mound.
 
October 1, 1921: Ray Schalk of the Chicago White Sox does something no catcher had ever done before, nor has since: He makes a putout at every base at least once in a game.  The White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-5.
 
October 1, 1924: Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell from playing in the World Series, after O’Connell confesses that he tried to bribe Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand to “go easy” in the season-ending series between the teams.
O’Connell also implicates 3 future Hall-of-Famers on his own team: Frankie Frisch, George “Highpockets” Kelly and Ross Youngs.  Landis finds no evidence against them, and they are cleared to play.  O’Connell, just 23 and with only 2 years of major league play under his belt, never plays professional ball again, and dies in 1976.
October 1, 1933, 80 years ago: Babe Ruth pitches for the last time, in order to draw a big crowd in the finale of a season in which the Yankees did not win.  It doesn’t work, only 25,000 fans come out.
The Babe goes the distance against the Red Sox.  He gives up 5 runs on 12 hits and 3 walks, with no strikeouts…  But the Yankees win, 6-5.  Ruth also hits his 34th home run of the season, the 686th of his career, and retires with a career record of 94-46.
 
October 1, 1944: The St. Louis Browns clinch the American League Pennant.  It is their first.  They are the last of Major League Baseball’s “Original 16” teams (a term not used back then) to do so.  They will not win another until 1966, by which point they are the Baltimore Orioles.
There will not be another team winning their first Pennant until 1957, when the Milwaukee Braves do it – or, if you don’t count moved teams, until 1969, when the Mets pull off their “Miracle.”
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October 1, 1949: Joe DiMaggio Day at Yankee Stadium.  ”I’d like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.” The Yankees needed to win this game to make the next day, the last game of the season, the title decider.  The Red Sox took a 4-0 lead, but the Yankees came back, and Johnny Lindell hit a home run in the 8th inning to give the Yankees the 5-4 win.
 
October 1, 1950: Dick Sisler hits a home run in the top of the 10th inning at Ebbets Field, and the 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, 63 years later: For the Phillies, 2 reserves, 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 “Buckshot” Brown.  Stan Lopata, a backup catcher for the Phils who played in the game, died this past June 15.
This is the last major league game as a manager for Burt Shotton of the Dodgers.  Also today, the Philadelphia Athletics complete a massively disappointing 102-loss season by beating the Washington Senators, 5-3 at Shibe Park.
It is the last game for manager Connie Mack: Approaching his 88th birthday, his sons Earle, Roy and Connie Jr. gang up on him and force him to finally retire as manager — something he, as also the owner, did not want to do.  Before the A’s move to Kansas City, the Phillies, new owners of the ballpark, will rename it Connie Mack Stadium, and will erect a statue of him outside.
Shotton and Mack were the last managers to wear street clothes. Although no edict specifically mandates a skipper must wear a uniform, there is now a rule that states that a person not wearing a uniform, except medical personnel, isn’t allowed on the field of play during a game.
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October 1, 1961: Roger Maris makes it 61 in ’61.  He hit the record-breaking home run off Tracy Stallard.
Still alive from this game, 52 years later: For the Yankees, Yogi Berra, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Hector Lopez, Jack Reed and Luis Arroyo.  Whitey Ford, Bob Turley and Ralph Terry are still alive, but did not play in this game.  Bob Hale, who pinch-hit and played 1st base in his last major league appearance, died last year.  For the Red Sox: Stallard, Chuck Schilling (no relation to Curt), Frank Malzone (a Bronx native), Don Gile, Russ Nixon, and rookie left fielder Carl Yastrzemski.
Also on this day, after providing a venue for the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels from 1925 through 1957 and the major league expansion team with the same name this season, the West Coast version of Wrigley Field hosts its last professional baseball game. The Halos are defeated by the Tribe 8-5 in front of 9,868 fans.  Wrigley West will be torn down in five years to make room for an eventual public playground and senior center.
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October 1, 1964: The Red Sox beat the Indians, 4-2, in front of only 306 fans, the smallest in Fenway Park history.
October 1, 1967: A much happier day at Fenway.  Carl Yastrzemski gets 4 hits, including a game-tying single in the bottom of the 6th, and cements the Triple Crown — a feat that will not be achieved for another 45 years.  Jim Lonborg pitches a complete game, and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, to eliminate the Twins from the American League race on the final day of a season with a rare 4-team race.  The Chicago White Sox had been eliminated 2 days earlier.
But the Pennant is not clinched.  If the Detroit Tigers can sweep a doubleheader with the California Angels, they would forge a tie with the Red Sox-Twins winner, and force a one-game Playoff the next day.
In those pre-Internet days, CBS managed to link up their Detroit station, WWJ, and their Boston station, WHDH (850, once again the Sox station but with call letters WEEI), so that people in the Boston area could listen the the nightcap in Detroit.  The Angels won, and the Sox had their first Pennant in 21 years, only their 2nd in 49 years — a Pennant whose theme song was the Broadway hit “The Impossible Dream.”
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October 1, 1970: Twenty years to the day after the greatest day in Phillies history thus far (and it would remain such for another 10 years), perhaps the darkest day in Phillies history takes place — and this was in a win.
The Phils play the final game at Connie Mack Stadium, formerly Shibe Park, and the irony of playing the Montreal Expos, a team that only began in 1969, at a stadium the opened in 1909 is felt.
The game goes to 10 innings, and Oscar Gamble singles home Tim McCarver with the winning run, as the Phils win, 2-1.  Before McCarver can cross the plate, fans are already storming the field, and they tear the stadium apart.
The next year, Veterans Stadium opened, and a fire gutted what remained of the old park.  It was finally torn down in 1976.
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October 1, 1973, 40 years ago: Only 1,913 fans come out to Wrigley Field, under threat of rain with the Cubs far out of the race, to see a doubleheader that had to be made up due to earlier rain.  The Mets beat the Cubs in the opener, 6-4, and win the National League East, their 2nd 1st-place finish.
The Division Title that no one seemed to want to win has been won with an 82-79 record — still the worst 1st place finish ever in a season of at least 115 games.  When the rain comes, the umpires call off the now completely meaningless 2nd game.
The Mets were 52-63 on August 14, but won 30 out of 44 down the stretch, including 18 of their last 22.
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October 1, 1974: At the Astrodome, Mike Marshall establishes the major league mark for the most appearances by a pitcher when he throws two innings in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over Houston.
With his 106 appearances, the right-handed reliever appears in 65 percent of the games that his team played this season.  He goes 15-12, with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves (actually 10 less than he had the year before), becomes the first reliever in either League to receive the Cy Young Award.
In 1979, pitching for the Minnesota Twins, Marshall would appear in 90 games, giving the record for most games pitched in a season in both Leagues.
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October 1, 2004: Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners grounds a single up the middle, and collects his 258th hit of the season.  The record had belonged to George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns since 1920 — 84 years.
If there was anyone left who still doubted whether Ichiro was a bona fide Hall-of-Famer in the making (and I was a doubter), they now believe it.
October 1, 2006: After leading the AL Central by 10 games on August 7, the Detroit Tigers lose 31 of their last 50, including their last 5 in a row, the last being the blowing of a 6-0 lead over a terrible Kansas City Royals team to lose 10-8 in 12 innings.  The Tigers thus blow the Division Title to the Minnesota Twins, one of the great choke jobs of recent times.
They do get the Wild Card, however, and shock the Yankees in the Division Series, while the Twins get surprised by the A’s, and then the Tigers sweep the A’s to win the Pennant anyway.  Never has a team looked so bad down the stretch and still managed to reach the World Series — not even the 1949 or 2000 Yankees.
The 2006 season is also the first one ever, except for the strike-shortened seasons of 1981, ’94 and ’95, in which there were no 20-game-winning pitchers in either League.  Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees and Johan Santana of the Twins each win 19, while no National League hurler wins more than 16 — 6 of them win that many.
The Twins have another honor (that does them little good after their ALDS loss), as Twin Cities native Joe Mauer becomes the first catcher to win an AL batting title, and the first catcher to lead both leagues in batting average, with .347, ahead of NL batting champion Freddie Sanchez of the Pittsburgh Pirates with .344.
October 1, 2007: Needing a Playoff for the Playoffs, the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the 13th inning, 9-8.  Jamey Carroll hits a sacrifice fly, and Matt Holliday scores on a disputed play at the plate.  The Padres have not reached the Playoffs since, and this play burns their fans up.  The Rockies close the regular season (and this game counts as such, as it’s officially not a postseason game) winning 14 of their last 15.

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