Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Years Since the Roid Sox Ruined Mickey Mantle's Birthday

October 20, 1931: Mickey Charles Mantle is born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, and grows up in nearby Commerce. Wasn't nothing to do there, back then, but work in the mines, and until you were old enough, play football and baseball. Mickey played baseball, and the rest is history.

October 20, 2004, 10 years ago: The Red Sox ruin the anniversary of Mickey's birth. Unlike the 2003-13 Red Sox, Mickey didn't need no steroids. The chemicals he ingested were, most definitely, not performance-enhancing.

Having dropped 3 straight to the Sox to force a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees tried to invoke luck against the Red Sox one more time. They had the hero of 1978, Bucky Dent, throw out the ceremonial first ball to the luckiest man alive, Yogi Berra.

It was the last pitch any Yankee Fan felt good about. Manager Joe Torre started Kevin Brown. What was he thinking? That Brown was a big-game pitcher? That he'd helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series in 1997 and the San Diego Padres a Pennant in 1998? That was 7 and 6 years earlier. Brown had still not fully recovered from breaking his hand by punching the dugout wall in September. He was pitching on just 3 days' rest, and had been knocked out of the box in the 3rd inning of Game 3, a game the Yankees won anyway, 19-8. He had nothing, and Torre, a former catcher who'd been in Major League Baseball, by that point, for 44 years, should have known that

What were his other options? Jon Lieber had started the day before, Mike Mussina 2 days before, and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez 3 days before -- giving them 0, 1 and 2 days' rest, respectively. Javier Vazquez had pitched 4 innings in Game 3, giving him 3 days' rest. Esteban Loaiza, who'd won the Cy Young Award with the Chicago White Sox the year before, had fallen apart that season, making him available in the first place, and had pitched the last 4 innings in the 14-inning loss in Game 5, 2 days earlier. Unless Torre wanted to take a chance on a too-soon El Duque or Loaiza, his choices were limited to "Brownout" and "Home Run Javy."

The Red Sox led 6-0 after 2, and Torre had burned both of his available starters. He ended up pitching Loaiza anyway, for 3 innings. It was 8-1 after 4.

This was not the kind of loss that crushes you because you had it won at the end, and blew it. We got beat early. And we had to stick it out, all 9 innings, and hear those Red Sox fans give us the business in our house for, as it turned out, 3 hours and 31 minutes. Never mind what the clock said: This was the longest game in Yankee history.

From the 1st inning onward, we knew the Red Sox were going to win the game. We knew it, and their fans knew it. There was nothing that could be done.

Or... was there? In the bottom of the 7th, with the game still 8-1 Boston, manager Terry Francona brought Pedro Martinez in to pitch. No one expected the "Who's Your Daddy?" chant to affect the Fenway Punk. But we were the one team that had his number.

Hideki Matsui led off with a double. Bernie Williams doubled him home. 8-2. Jorge Posada grounded out, getting Bernie to 3rd. Kenny Lofton singled home Bernie. 8-3. With John Olerud up, Lofton stole 2nd. A 4th run was in scoring position.

For one brief shining moment, the thought crossed my mind: You don't suppose... the Red Sox could blow this? Forget 1949, 1978, 1986, or even last year (2003), blowing this one would be as bad as all the others put together!

Pedro buckled down, and struck Olerud out, and got Miguel Cairo to fly to right. The inning ended, 8-3 to Boston, and the Sox tacked on additional runs in the 8th and the 9th. 10-3 was the final.

It was 12:01 AM, October 21, when Ruben Sierra grounded to 2nd for the final out. So not only had the Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino, they had ruined the birthdays of both Mickey Mantle (dead since 1995) and Whitey Ford (then, as now, still alive).

Finally, after losing the Pennant to the Yankees on the final day in 1949, blowing the Division title to the Yankees in 1977 and 1978, losing the ALCS to the Yankees in 1999, and the shock of 2003, the Red Sox and their fans had their revenge over the Yankees. "We danced on their lawn" became a common saying in New England.

But, as 2 of The Boston Globe's biggest columnists pointed out, the job wasn't done.

Bob Ryan: "Let's get this out of the way right now. The question is asked, 'If the Red Sox lose the World Series, would it be enough to have beaten the Yankees?' The answer is, 'No!'"

Dan Shaughnessy, who popularized the phrase: "The Curse of the Bambino isn't 'The Red Sox can't beat the Yankees.' The Curse of the Bambino is 'The Red Sox can't win the World Series.' The Red Sox lost the World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986, and those didn't have anything to do with the Yankees."

The Sox had also blown a Pennant in 1948, messed up a potential Division title in 1972, blown another Division title in 1974, looked like idiots in the ALCS in 1988, did the same thing in 1990, and looked like idiots in the ALDS in 1995. None of those had anything to do with the Yankees, either.

At the time, it was easy to be big about it, and say to the Sox, now calling themselves "The Idiots," "Good luck in the Series. You earned it."

On July 30, 2009, it was revealed that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, the 2 biggest reasons the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, had failed steroid tests. They hadn't earned thing.

Ortiz was still there when they won it all again in 2013.

Those 3 titles are fake, and they goddamned well know it. 1918 * Forever.

They would say the Yankees "cheated" to win their titles. Really? The evidence against the 1996-2003 Yankees is incredibly flimsy. The evidence against the 2003-2013 Red Sox is overwhelming.

The baseball media, of course, will never give the Yankees the same benefit of the doubt that they give the Red Sox.

Well, to hell with them. The world knows the truth, whether they accept it or not.


October 20, 1803: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, making possible the major-league cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Denver. If you count cities that have major-league teams in other sports but not baseball, add to the list New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

October 20, 1910: The Philadelphia Athletics dispose of Chicago Cub starter Ed Reulbach in 2 innings‚ then pin the loss on reliever Harry McIntire‚ who lasts a third of a inning. A's pitcher Jack Coombs coasts on 1 day's rest‚ 12-5‚ and helps himself with 3 hits.

Cub manager/1st baseman Frank Chance becomes the 1st player ejected from a World Series game when umpire Tom Connolly chases him for protesting a Danny Murphy home run drive against a sign over the right field bleachers. Chance opines too loudly that it should be a ground-rule double.

October 20, 1927: Joyce Diane Bauer is born in Manhattan, and grows up in Far Rockaway, Queens. We knew her as famed psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers. She appeared on The $64,000 Question in 1955, and won the eponymous top prize (worth about $568,000 in 2014 money). Her subject was boxing, and it led to her becoming the 1st female commentator for a televised prizefight, the middleweight championship fight on CBS on September 23, 1957, in which Carmen Basilio took the title from Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium.

In 1958, she became the 1st advice columnist to have her own TV show. In 1981, she played herself as a guest on “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party” on Saturday Night Live, with Eddie Murphy playing “The Godfather of Soul and Hot Tub Man Number 1, James Brown!” Great sketch. Dr. Brothers died last year, at age 85.

October 20, 1932: Roosevelt Brown is born in Charlottesville, Virginia. The greatest offensive tackle of his time, he anchored the New York Giants line that reached 6 NFL Championship Games in 8 years, including the 1956 World Championship.

Although his Number 79 has not been retired by the Giants, he is a member of their Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him Number 57 on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Still the greatest offensive lineman in the history of New York Tri-State Area football, he died in 2004.

Also on this day, William Christopher is born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. Best known for playing Lieutenant, later Captain, John Patrick Francis Mulcahy, S.J, on M*A*S*H, he says he has often been asked near his Southern California home, “Father Mulcahy, say a prayer for the Dodgers.” “I suppose I should actually say one for the Angels,” he says, “but I do root for the Dodgers.”

In a 1st-season episode, the officers are listening to Armed Forces Radio for the Army-Navy football game, when Mulcahy walks in with his Notre Dame pennant. He’s told Notre Dame, America’s unofficial Catholic university due to its legendary football program, isn’t playing today. “Then what’s all the commotion?”

In another early episode, he is playing in a pickup game in camp, wearing a helmet that’s Notre Dame gold, but anachronistically has a two-bar facemask. Hawkeye asks him how the game’s going. He says, “Protestants 7, Catholics 3, but we’ll get ‘em!”

Mulcahy was also a big boxing fan, having coached boxing at the CYO in his native Philadelphia, and would minister to a former boxing champion who ended up dying at the 4077th while on a tour for the troops. But Christopher admitted knowing nothing about boxing.

Mulcahy also had “my sister the Sister,” who took the nom de nun of Sister Angelica, who first played and then coached basketball at her all-girls’ high school in Philly.

In 1975, Christopher played an Army doctor on Good Times -- an inside joke on CBS' part, I suppose. He later teamed up with castmate Jamie Farr in a stage version of The Odd Couple -- I'm presuming Christopher played Felix and Farr played Oscar -- and with Farr and Loretta Swit on Diagnosis Murder and Lois & Clark. He has again played priests on Heaven Sent, Mad About You, and, in 2013, Days of Our Lives.

October 20, 1937: Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez is born in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic. Known for his high leg-kick during his windup, he won more games in the 1960s than any other pitcher, and until Dennis Martinez surpassed him, his 243 career wins were the most of any Hispanic pitcher.

He helped the San Francisco Giants to the 1962 National League Pennant and the 1971 NL Western Divison title, although they fell just short a few other times while he was there. They have retired his Number 27, and dedicated a statue to him outside AT&T Park. He was the 1st Dominican player, and the 1st Hispanic pitcher (aside from Negro League star Martin DiHigo, who was not strictly a pitcher), elected to the Hall of Fame.

Sadly, like the other serious contender for the title of the greatest Hispanic pitcher, Pedro Martinez, he is best known for a moment of violence, hitting Dodger catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat in a tight Pennant-race game in 1965. Unlike Pedro, however, this was out of character for Marichal, and Roseboro not only accepted his apology, but, after Marichal failed to be elected to the Hall in his 1st 4 years of eligibility, Roseboro spoke up on his behalf, and he was elected on the 5th try.

He went on to become a broadcaster for a Spanish-language network in the Caribbean, and called games in the 1990 World Series, including the 2 won by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo, who not only wore Number 27 in tribute to Marichal, but at the time was married to Marichal’s daughter Rosie, who can be seen on the official highlight film, yelling from the stands, “Let’s go, Rijo!”


October 20, 1951: Drake University of Des Moines, Iowa plays football against Oklahoma A&M – the name will be changed to Oklahoma State in 1958 – at Lewis Field in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Drake quarterback Johnny Bright, one of the first black players to receive serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy, is assaulted by white A&M defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith. “Unnecessary roughness”? Three times in the first 7 minutes of the game, Smith knocked Bright unconscious, the last time breaking his jaw.

A&M won the game, 27-14, Drake’s 1st loss of the season. Photographs of what becomes known as "the Johnny Bright Incident," by Don Ultang and John Robinson, were featured on the front page of the next day’s Des Moines Register, and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Neither his school nor the Missouri Valley Conference disciplined Smith, nor did the Conference discipline the school or any of its coaches, in any way. As a result, Drake left the league in protest. So did Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, also integrated by that point. The NCAA issued new rules about blocking and tackling, and mandated better head protection, including facemasks for helmets.

Bright recovered, and finished 5th in the Heisman balloting, which was won by Dick Kazmaier of Princeton, who will likely remain the last Ivy Leaguer to win it. (Ed Marinaro of Cornell, in 1971, was the last one to even come close. He later played a cop on Hill Street Blues.)

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Bright didn't want to play there -- not because he thought Philadelphia was a racist city (long before Dick Allen and Curt Flood thought so, they had already racially abused Jackie Robinson there), but because he knew there were a lot of Southern players in the NFL. He would play in Canada and receive many honors (or, as they would spell it, “honours”) there, including 3 straight Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos.

When he retired in 1964, he was the CFL’s all-time leading rusher, with 10,909 yards, a total then surpassed in the NFL only by Jim Brown, but Brown’s amazing 5.2 yards per carry, often cited as a reason why he's the game's greatest ever player, never mind running back, is actually surpassed by Bright, with 5.5, making him North America’s all-time leader in that stat at the time. Only 2 CFL players have passed him in rushing yardage since.

He is a member of the Eskimos’ Wall of Honour, and the College Football and Canadian Football Halls of Fame. Drake retired his Number 43 (he wore 24 with the Esks) and named the field at Drake Stadium after him. After serving as a teacher and principal at an Edmonton high school, he died in 1983 from complications from surgery. Ernie Davis of Syracuse became the 1st black Heisman winner in 1961.

October 20, 1953: Keith Barlow Hernandez is born in San Francisco. Elaine: “Who does this guy think he is?” Keith: “I’m Keith Hernandez!”

He also thinks he’s the 1979 NL batting champion and co-MVP (a unique tied vote, shared with Willie Stargell), a member of World Series winners with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1986 New York Mets, and one of the best-fielding 1st basemen ever.

These days, he thinks he’s a broadcaster with the Mets. He also thinks he’s really smart, which he is, but he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Although his acquisition made the Mets a contender and then a champion again after some very dark years, they have strangely not retired his Number 17. Nor has he been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

October 20, 1955: Aaron Pryor (no middle name) is born in Cincinnati. The former junior middleweight champion of the world overcame drug abuse, and is now an ordained minister and an anti-drug counselor. His sons Aaron Jr. and Stephan have also become professional boxers.

October 20, 1959: Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith makes a public statement that he will not move the team. As Congressman Joe Wilson would say, 50 years later, to a better man than either of them, “YOU LIE!”


October 20, 1960: Ralph Houk, former Yankee catcher, former Yankee coach, and manager of the 1957 International League Champion Denver Bears, is officially named manager of the Yankees. He will lead them to the next 3 AL Pennants and the next 2 World Championships.

As callous as the Yankees seemed in firing Casey Stengel, they had to make Houk their manager.  With 2 new expansion teams coming into the American League for the 1961 season, and 2 more into the National League in 1962, and with plenty of teams changing managers during the course of a season, Houk would have been hired by somebody, so the Yankees needed to promote him in order to keep him. It was a matter of "Use it or lose it."

The results spoke for themselves -- until the farm system ran dry.

October 20, 1961: Ian James Rush is born in St. Asaph, Wales. He was a superstar in the English soccer league, leading Liverpool to 6 League titles. He scored more goals in FA Cup play than any player in the 20th Century, shares with 1966 World Cup hero Geoff Hurst the record for most goals scored in League Cup play, and is the all-time leading goalscorer in Merseyside derbies (Liverpool vs. Everton). After a brief spell managing Chester City, which had been his 1st pro club as a player, he became a pundit for Sky Sports. He is now a club ambassador for Liverpool. With 346 goals, he is their all-time leading scorer.

There was a daunting statistic that Liverpool had never lost a game in which Rush scored. That stat held until the 1987 League Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium, when he scored, and then London-based Arsenal came back with 2 goals by Charlie Nicholas to win, 2-1.

Rush had a difficult 2-year spell with Juventus in the Italian league, before returning to Liverpool.  Not the 1st British player to be a bust in Italy, nor the last, he was asked if the language barrier would be a problem. He denied it: "I don't even speak English that well." (The Welsh do have their own separate language, but Rush can be understood in English, unlike later Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, whose Scouse accent is so thick he needs a translator.)

October 20, 1965: Just 1 year after he helped the Cardinals win the World Series and was named NL Most Valuable Player, team Captain Ken Boyer is traded to the Mets, for pitcher Al Jackson and 3rd baseman Charlie Smith.

Jackson had been one of the few respectable players in the Mets’ early years, while Smith is best known for getting traded by the Cardinals just one year later, even-up, for Roger Maris. An insult to Maris.

October 20, 1967: Having just moved the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland, owner Charlie Finley names Bob Kennedy as their 1st manager. He does not, however, try to trade for Yankee 3rd baseman John Kennedy. Nor does he try to hire Hockey Hall-of-Famer Ted Kennedy as a consultant.

October 20, 1969: Juan Alberto Gonzalez Vazquez is born. Known as Juan Gonzalez, the All-Star right fielder for the Texas Rangers hit 434 home runs in his career, won AL MVP awards in 1996 and 1998, and scared the hell out of us Yankee Fans by nearly ruining the 1996 season with his 3 home runs in the 1st 2 games of the ALDS.

But injuries ruined his career, leading him to being traded repeatedly, and his nickname “Juan Gone” began to refer less to the balls he hit, and more to his propensity for being out of the lineup. He had his last productive season at 33, and he was done at 35.

Wow, he really, really fits the steroid profile. Fat chance of ever getting into the Hall of Fame, Juan.


October 20, 1971: Laura Mendez is born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We know her as Mrs. Jorge Posada.

I met her once, at a YES Network function. As in, YES, she looks just as good in person. And, YES, she's as nice as you would hope someone who looks that good is. And, YES, he ended up with her.  So here's hope for all of us.

October 20, 1973: The Sydney Opera House, Australia's most famous structure, opens. The Rolling Stones hit Number 1 on the U.S. singles charts with "Angie." The Six Million Dollar Man premieres on ABC, starring Lee Majors as astronaut-turned-bionic-federal-agent Steve Austin. (Definitely not to be confused with the Stone Cold "professional wrestler" using the same name.)

And Game 6 of the World Series is played at the Oakland Coliseum. The Mets just need to win 1 of the last 2 games against the Athletics in Oakland, and they will have their 2nd World Championship in 5 seasons -- it has been 11 years since the Yankees went all the way. And Tom Seaver, "The Franchise," is on the mound.  What can go wrong?

This can go wrong: Met manager Yogi Berra has sent Seaver out on 3 days' rest, hoping "Tom Terrific" can close out the defending World Champions on their own patch, so that no Game 7 will be necessary.

But Reggie Jackson, not yet a New York baseball legend, hits 2 doubles, scores 1 run and knocks in 2, as the A's beat the Mets 3-1. So there will be a Game 7 tomorrow.

To this day, many Met fans are angry at Yogi for starting Seaver on short rest. I'm sure some of them think of him as a Yankee and hate him for that reason alone. They shouldn't: There are only 3 living human beings who have managed the Mets to a Pennant: Bobby Valentine, Davey Johnson, and Yogi.

(I looked it up: Reggie, the defining Yankee of his generation, and Seaver, the defining Met of that generation, faced each other 43 times, the 1st in the 1973 All-Star Game, the last in a Red Sox-Angels game in 1986. I'll have a more detailed post about this in the coming days. Reggie reached base in 15 of those 43 plate appearances, including 3 home runs and 8 RBIs, but Seaver also struck him out 13 times.)

But the big story of October 20, 1973 is in Washington, and it has nothing to do with sports. The day before, in an effort to get away with whatever he did that was recorded on his Oval Office tapes, President Richard Nixon offered a compromise: He would allow Senator John Stennis to review the tapes and present Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox with summaries.

On this day, Cox publicly refuses to accept this compromise. He knows that Stennis is not only a conservative from Mississippi and a supporter of Nixon's -- he's a conservative Southern Democrat, a.k.a. a "Dixiecrat," and no friend of mainstream Democrats -- but also hard of hearing. If those tapes reveal that Nixon committed an impeachable offense, Stennis might not hear it properly. And even if he does, he might refuse to admit it to Cox.

Nixon decides that, in order to survive as President, he has to fire Cox -- whom he had never fully trusted, as Cox had been Solicitor General under President John F. Kennedy and an old friend of JFK's, and thus a partisan Democrat.

So he instructs his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, the man with the power to do it, to do it.  Richardson refuses, because he thinks it will spark a Constitutional crisis. Nixon says do it or you're fired. Richardson does the honorable thing and resigns his post.

So Nixon goes to the next man in line, Richardson's Deputy Attorney General, William Ruckelshaus.  He tells Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. He refuses. Nixon says do it or you're fired.  Ruckelshaus still refuses, but does not resign. Nixon fires him.

So with the top 2 men in the U.S. Department of Justice now gone, Nixon goes to the Number 3 man, the Solicitor General, and tells him to fire Cox. He does. 

Word quickly gets out, and the Washington press corps quickly dubs these events "The Saturday Night Massacre." People wake up the next morning to bold headlines in their Sunday papers. The Sunday morning news shows, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's Issues and Answers (the predecessor program to This Week), can talk about nothing else.

The pressure on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Nixon vastly increases. And, with the Vice Presidency vacant, as Spiro Agnew has resigned and Gerald Ford has not yet been confirmed by either house of Congress as the new VP, the next man in line is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Carl Albert of Oklahoma -- a Democrat. This would have been a political earthquake, much bigger than the end of Nixon's Presidency actually turned out to be.

Within days, Nixon realizes what a blunder he has committed, and tells the Acting Attorney General to appoint a new Special Prosecutor. That man would be Leon Jaworski. By December 6, Ford would be confirmed by both houses and sworn in as Vice President, and the danger of Nixon being impeached and removed, and replaced by a President of the other party, was gone, and things calmed down in Watergate -- for a while.

There would be ramifications, of course -- some lasting much longer than the Nixon Administration itself. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed that former Acting Attorney General to the U.S. Supreme Court, as his judicial views fit the archconservative vision that Reagan had for the country.  But his role in the Saturday Night Massacre was held against him -- although it's possible that he might have been rejected by the Senate anyway. His name was Robert Bork.


October 20, 1977: A Convair CV-300 plane carrying the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes outside Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve's sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray.

Also on board, surviving but badly hurt, were guitarists Allen Collins and Gary Rossington, bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell, drummer Artimus Pyle, backing vocalist Leslie Hawkins, road crew member Steve Lawler, band security manager Gene Odom, and road crew members Ken Peden and Marc Frank.

An engine malfunction caused the pilots to mistakenly dump the plane's extra fuel, instead of transferring it to another engine like they intended. That's right, the plane crashed because it ran out of gas. Maybe Neil Young was right after all, albeit in an incredibly different context: “Southern Man, better use your head.”

To make matters worse, in a case of "Timing is everything," just 3 days earlier, Skynyrd had released a new album, titled Street Survivors. The cover shows them standing in the middle of a fire. One of the more familiar tracks on the album is titled "That Smell." The lyrics include the words, "tomorrow might not be here for you," and, "the smell of death surrounds you."

October 20, 1980: Jose Veras is born. The pitcher was a Yankee from 2006 to 2009, but was designated for assignment before he could pitch in that great postseason. He pitched for the Tigers in the 2013 ALCS, and now pitches for the Houston Astros.

October 20, 1981: Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. A banner is hung: “Don’t the Dodgers Ever Learn?” Not yet, as Bob Watson’s 1st-inning homer and the pitching of Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage shut the Bums down, 5-3.

Also on this day, Willis Andrew McGahee III is born in Miami. The former University of Miami star has been plagued by injuries, but made 2 Pro Bowls while with the Baltimore Ravens. He is now a free agent, and may well have played his last game.

October 20, 1982: Game 7 of the World Series at Busch Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals, including birthday boy Keith Hernandez, rally for 3 runs in the 6th to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-3.

The Cardinals win their 9th World Series, a total surpassed only by the Yankees. (Since then, if you combine their Philadelphia and Oakland titles, it has been matched by the A’s, although the Cards have now made it 11.)

The Cardinals will win 2 more Pennants in the decade, and have remained more or less competitive ever since. The Brewers have never played another World Series game, and did not even play another postseason game for 26 years.

October 20, 1988: World Series MVP Orel Hershiser ends his dream season with a 5-2 four-hitter over the A's in Game 5 of the World Series. Mickey Hatcher starts the Dodger scoring with a 2-run homer in the 1st off Storm Davis‚ his 2nd homer of the Series.

The win gives the Dodgers a tremendous upset, and their 5th World Championship since moving to Los Angeles 30 years earlier, their 6th overall. But in more than a quarter of a century since, they have never won another Pennant.


October 20, 1990: The talk of an Oakland dynasty is proven premature‚ as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Athletics 2-1, to complete one of the most stunning sweeps in World Series history.

Series MVP Jose Rijo (2-0‚ 0.59 ERA) retires the last 20 batters he faces to give the Reds their first World Championship since 1976, their 5th overall. However, the Reds have not won a Pennant since – in fact, they haven’t even won an NLCS game since.

Not joining the celebration at the end is Eric Davis‚ who ruptures his kidney diving for a ball during the game, and is taken to the hospital. This is the 1st of several injuries that ended up derailing what could have been a great career, although he did play on until 2001 and hit 282 home runs. He and Rickey Henderson are the only players to hit 25 home runs and steal 80 bases in a season, and he and Barry Bonds (before the steroids) are the only players to hit 30 homers and steal 50 bases in a season. He's now a roving instructor for the Reds, and they have elected him to their Hall of Fame. One of his teammates called him "the best hitter, best runner, best outfielder, best everything I've ever seen."

That teammate was Paul O'Neill. The Reds' manager was former Yankee great Lou Piniella. An intense right fielder who came up big in big moments, O'Neill reminded me even then of a lefthanded version of Sweet Lou, and I was thrilled when the Yankees traded for him. He would go on to win 4 more World Series with the Yankees, for a total of 5.

October 20, 1992: For the 1st time, a World Series game is played outside the United States of America, as Game 3 is played at the SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre) in Toronto.

The Blue Jays take a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Candy Maldonado's bases-loaded single in the 9th inning. Duane Ward gets credit for the victory in relief of Juan Guzman‚ and Joe Carter and Kelly Gruber homer for Toronto. In the 4th inning‚ Jays center fielder Devon White's sensational catch nearly results in a triple play. Deion Sanders was ruled safe on the play‚ but replays show he should have been the 3rd out.

Braves manager Bobby Cox is ejected from the game in the 9th‚ becoming the 1st manager to be thrown out of a Series game since 1985. By starting in right field‚ Toronto's Joe Carter becomes the 1st player to start the 1st 3 games of a World Series at 3 different positions. He started Game 1 at first base and Game 2 in left field. Little did he know that a bigger distinction was yet to come: Catching the last out of the Series. And an even bigger one the following season.

October 20, 1993: Game 4 of the World Series at a rainy Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Charlie Williams becomes the 1st black man to serve as a home plate umpire in a World Series game. The Phillies blow a 14-9 lead over the Blue Jays in the 8th inning, capped by a Devon White triple (he seems to like playing on October 20), and lose 15-14, the highest-scoring game in Series history, breaking the record of a Yankees-Giants game from 1936.

If you’re a Phillies fan, this is when the Series was lost, not when Mitch Williams came in to relieve in Game 6. But then, if you’re a Phillies fan, you’ve felt much better the last few years.

October 20, 1994, 20 years ago: Burt Lancaster dies from the lingering effects of a stroke. The great actor had played football players and boxers, and might be best remembered for the title role in Jim Thorpe, All-American. But his last film was as baseball player-turned-doctor Archie “Moonlight” Graham in Field of Dreams. He was 80.

October 20, 1996: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st Series game at Yankee Stadium in 15 years. The Atlanta Braves spoil the party with a 12-1 shellacking of Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. Andruw Jones, the Braves’ 19-year-old sensation from Curacao, becomes the youngest player in Series history to hit a home run – in fact, he hits, 2, joining Gene Tenace of the '72 A's as the only 2 players ever to homer in their 1st 2 Series at-bats.

After the game, George Steinbrenner barges into manager Joe Torre’s office. George yells about how the Yankees were embarrassed -- which, if we're being honest, they were. But Torre, who formerly managed the Braves to a postseason berth, and had just been clobbered in the 1st World Series game of his life at age 56, is unfazed. He tells George that they’ll probably lose Game 2 as well. “But we’re heading down to Atlanta,” he says, “and that’s my home town, and we’ll win 3 straight there, and come back here and win it.”

Joe later says, "He looked at me like I had 2 heads." (Well, Joe's head is rather large.) George later says he thought Joe was nuts, but he appreciated the confidence. That confidence will be rewarded.

October 20, 1998: Game 3 of the World Series, in front of 64,667 at Jack Murphy – excuse me, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Having hosted Super Bowl XXXII in January, this becomes the 1st time the Super Bowl and the World Series have been played in the same stadium -- or even in the same city -- in the same calendar year. The Metrodome in Minneapolis hosted the World Series in October 1991, Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992, and the NCAA Final Four in April 1992. But no stadium has hosted a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same calendar year since, and Detroit in 2006 is the only city to do so (in stadiums built next-door to each other). In the pre-Super Bowl era, World Series and NFL Championship Games had been played in the same city in the same calendar year as follows: New York, 1936, 1938, 1956 and 1962; Detroit, 1935; and Cleveland, 1954.

The San Diego Padres take a 3-0 lead on the Yankees, but 3rd baseman Scott Brosius, having the season of his life, hits a home run to make it 3-2. In the top of the 8th, with the Yankees threatening with 2 men on, the Padres bring in their closer, Trevor Hoffman.

The Padre fans, believing him to be the world’s greatest relief pitcher, wave their white towels and cheer wildly. The words, “IT’S TREVOR TIME” appear on the scoreboard. The public-address system blasts the song “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC.

Steinbrenner, not familiar with the hard rock music of the Seventies and Eighties, tells the media, “When they played that death march, it sounded like the WWF, when the Undertaker comes in. That’s who I thought they were bringing in!”

Certainly, for NL batters that season, Hoffman might as well have been an undertaker. The whole production had become one of the most intimidating scenes in baseball.

But these are not NL batters, these are the New York Yankees, and they fear nobody. Brosius takes him over the center field wall for a 5-3 Yankee lead, soon to be a 5-4 Yankee victory. The actual best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, finishes it off, and the Yankees can wrap up the Series with a sweep tomorrow.

October 20, 1999: Calvin Griffith dies at age 87 – 40 years to the day after he announced he wouldn’t move the Washington Senators, before actually doing so a year after that. The nephew and adopted son of Hall-of-Fame pitcher and executive Clark Griffith, he inherited control of the Senators in 1955, and moved them to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.

In 1978, he told a Lions Club dinner why he took the Senators out of D.C., which was on its way to becoming a majority-black city: "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota: It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring, and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here."

Although the Twins came within 1 win of the 1965 World Championship, later decisions left the team mediocre through most of the Seventies. Griffith was so cheap and shortsighted that he was said to have engaged in one of Minnesota’s great outdoor pastimes, hunting for a type of fish known as walleyes, caught his legal limit, brought them to the supermarket, and traded them for a box of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. He sold the Twins in 1984 to Carl Pohlad, a billionaire who, ironically, turned out to be nearly as cheap as Griffith.

October 20, 2002: Francisco Rodriguez, a 20-year-old righthanded reliever from Venezuela, becomes the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game. With just 15 days of major league experience, "K-Rod" throws 37 pitches, retiring 9 consecutive batters in 3 innings, to pick up the victory when the Angels outslug the Giants in Game 2 of the Fall Classic, 11-10.

October 20, 2004, 10 years ago: Lost in the excitement of the Red Sox' revenge over the Yankees, Jim Edmonds hits a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, to give the Cardinals a 6-4 win over the Astros, and send the NLCS to a decisive Game 7.

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