Thursday, October 2, 2014

Happy Bucky Dent Day!


In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella, who builds a baseball field on his Iowa farm, and sees the 8 banned Chicago White Sox players from the 1919 World Series come back to life. James Earl Jones plays Terence Mann, a reclusive writer. (In the novel it was based on, Shoeless Joe, author W.P. Kinsella makes it the real-life writer J.D. Salinger.)

They go to Chisholm, Minnesota to meet Dr. Archibald Graham, who, under the nickname Moonlight Graham, played 1 inning in right field, without coming to bat, for the New York Giants in 1922.  But they find out he died in 1972, 16 years before the film takes place. Yet taking a walk outside his hotel, Ray meets Graham, played by Burt Lancaster.

(The book reflects the real-life truth: Graham’s single game was in 1905, he died in 1965, and they knew that before they ever set out, having read it in The Baseball Encyclopedia – the 7-pound, 2,000-plus-page record book that we used before Total Baseball and then the creation of the great website Baseball Reference.)

Ray asks Graham’s ghost if he thought it was a tragedy that he only got to be a big-league ballplayer for 5 minutes, and never got to bat. Graham tells Ray, “If I’d only gotten to be a doctor for 5 minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.”

(In real life, on June 29, 1905, Graham actually played 2 innings, the 8th and 9th, against the Dodgers at Washington Park in Brooklyn, and was on deck when the 3rd out was made in the top of the 9th, so he almost got to bat. He played in the minors from 1902 to 1908, and took his medical degree and hung out his shingle in Minnesota, although he was from North Carolina.)

Ray: “So now, I don’t know what we’re doing here.”

Terence: “Maybe it was to see if one inning could change the world.”

Ray: “You think it did?”

Terence: “It did for these people.  If he’d gotten a hit, he might’ve stuck with baseball.”

And he while he might have gone on to have a good career, and gone on to do something good after baseball, he would’t have been able to do all the good he did for the people of Chisholm.

*

October 2, 1949: The Yankees played the Boston Red Sox, in the last game of the season, and the winner was going to win the AL Pennant (in the pre-Divisional play era). The Yankees led 1-0 going into the top of the 8th, when Joe McCarthy, who’d led the Yankees to 7 World Championships but was now managing the Red Sox, sent up Tom Wright to pinch-hit for pitcher Ellis Kinder (in the pre-Designated Hitter era). This proved to be a mistake, as Mel Parnell and Tex Hughson — pretty good starting pitchers for Boston — let in 4 more runs in the bottom of the 8th. The Sox pulled 3 back in the top of the 9th, but the Yankees held on to win, 5-3.

Among the Yankees who played in that game, 64 years ago, only Yogi Berra is still alive; Jerry Coleman died earlier this year. From the Red Sox, only Wright and Hall of Fame 2nd baseman Bobby Doerr survive.

Yes, one inning can change a season.  Red Sox fans know this well:

October 2, 1972: The Sox began a 3-game series with the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium, which would decide the AL East. (Only 2 Divisions per League back then.) Whoever won 2 out of 3 would win the Division.

In the top of the 3rd, Carl Yastrzemski doubled off Mickey Lolich. Tommy Harper, who was on 3rd base, scored easily. Luis Aparicio, the legendary shortstop of the Chicago White Sox, was on 1st for the Red Sox and should have scored easily.  And yet…

If you made a list of the Top 10 players in the history of baseball known for baserunning, Aparicio might be on that list. But he tripped rounding 3rd, and had to hold there, and Yaz was thrown out trying to stretch his double to a triple. Reggie Smith then struck out to end the inning. The game was tied 1-1, but should have been at least 2-1 Red Sox. The Tigers ended up winning 4-1, and won the next night to win the Division.

Yes, one inning can change a season. Red Sox fans know this well:

October 2, 1978: The Yankees and Red Sox played that famous one-game Playoff at Fenway Park, the Boston Tie Party. When the top of the 7th began, the Sox led 2-0 and Mike Torrez was pitching a 2-hit shutout.

Think about it: Today, Torrez would probably have been told he’d pitched a great game, and let the bullpen handle it from here. Although, to be fair, Sox fans generally don’t blame Torrez for what happened next. They blame manager Don Zimmer.

But Torrez was left in. He got Graig Nettles to fly to right, but allowed singles to Chris Chambliss and Roy White. Jim Spencer pinch-hit for Brian Doyle, who was subbing at 2nd base for the injured Willie Randolph. (Fred “Chicken” Stanley took over at 2nd the rest of the way). Spencer flew to left.

And then up came Bucky Dent. You know what happened: As Yankee broadcaster Bill White said on WPIX-Channel 11: “Deep to left, Yastrzemski will… not get it! It’s a home run! A three-run home run for Bucky Dent, and now, the Yankees lead it by a score of 3-2!”

Then Torrez walked Mickey Rivers, and then Zimmer pulled him for Bob Stanley. Mick the Quick stole 2nd. Thurman Munson doubled him home, before Stanley finally ended the rally by getting Lou Piniella to fly to right. It was 4-2, and the Yanks would win, 5-4.

Yes, one inning can change a season.  Red Sox fans know this well.

Happy Bucky Dent Day!

*

October 2, 1891: For the first time, a game in what we would now call Major League Baseball is played in the State of Minnesota. I can find no reason why; it wasn't due to a team escaping a local blue law so it could play on Sunday, since the day was a Friday. It's one of the last games in the 19th Century American Association, which was considered a major league, not the 20th Century version a minor league. The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Columbus Buckeyes 5-0 at Athletic Park in Minneapolis.

October 2, 1898: Trying to escape New York City's blue laws so that they can play on a Sunday, the Brooklyn Superbas (forerunners of the Dodgers) play the Washington Nationals (not to be confused with the current team of that name) in Weehawken, New Jersey. Candy LaChance hits a home run, and Brooklyn wins, 4-3.

October 2, 1899: Rube Waddell of the Louisville Colonels sets a major league record with 14 strikeouts, beating the Chicago Orphans (not yet the Cubs, they "missed their Pop," Adrian C. "Cap" or "Pop" Anson), 6-1. Clark Griffith took the loss. Oh yeah: Waddell's 14 Ks came in only 8 innings, because the game was called due to darkness.

Griffith would become the 1st manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1901, and, with himself as staff ace, win the 1st AL Pennant. He would then become the 1st manager of the New York Highlanders (forerunners of the Yankees) in 1903, and nearly manage and pitch them to a Pennant in 1904. Waddell, already the best lefthanded pitcher in the game, starred for the Philadelphia Athletics, before Connie Mack finally got tired of his drinking and his wandering mind. He died of tuberculosis in 1914, only 37 years old.

October 2, 1903: The 1st World Series is tied at 1 game apiece, as the Boston Pilgrims beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0. Bill Dinneen pitches a shutout for the proto-Red Sox, and Patsy Dougherty hits the 1st and 2nd World Series home runs, off Pirate pitcher Sam Leever.

October 2, 1908:  In a wild 3-team American League race, every bit as tight as the 3-team race going on in the National League at the same time, the AL has perhaps its greatest pitching duel ever, between 2 future Hall-of-Famers, at League Park in Cleveland.

Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox strikes on 15 batters, which will be an AL record for 30 years. But it’s not enough, as Addie Joss of the Cleveland Indians pitches a perfect game, and the Indians win, 1-0.

And yet, neither team wins the Pennant. The Detroit Tigers do, the Indians finishing half a game behind, the White Sox 1 1/2 behind: Detroit 90-63, Cleveland 90-64, Chicago 88-64. Why wasn’t the Tigers’ missing 154th game made up? I don’t know.

It’s the 2nd of 3 straight Pennants for the Tigers. The ChiSox had won in 1901 and 1906. The Indians will not get this close to a Pennant again until they win it all in 1920. I'll get to that in a moment.

October 2, 1914, 100 years ago today: The Yankees make 5 errors, and lose to the Boston Red Sox, 11-5 at Fenway Park. The Boston pitcher, a 19-year-old rookie, also gets his 1st major league hit, a double off Yankee pitcher Leonard Leslie "King" Cole.

Cole will not be long for this world: He soon develops tuberculosis, and dies in 1916, only 29 years old. But the Sox rookie will be heard from again. His name is George Herman Ruth Jr., That's right, 100 years ago today, Babe Ruth got his 1st major league hit. There would be 2,872 others, 714 of them home runs, 659 of those for the Yankees.

October 2, 1916: The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Boston Braves, 2-0 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, as Grover Cleveland Alexander notches his 33rd win of the season, and his 16th shutout, a record. He got those 16 whitewashes, and 12 the season before, as a righthanded pitcher playing home games in Baker Bowl, whose right-field fence was only 280 feet from home plate.

October 2, 1917: Alexander wins his 30th of this season, defeating the New York Giants 8-2, also at Baker Bowl. He also hits 2 doubles. But this will be his last game in a Philadelphia uniform: Fearing that he might get drafted into World War I, and killed or incapacitated in combat, the Phils sell him to the Chicago Cubs.

Although he was not wounded in combat, the shelling damaged his hearing, and shell-shock -- which became "battle fatigue" in World War II, and today we would call it "post-traumatic stress disorder" -- caused him to develop epilepsy. It also intensified his drinking problem. In spite of his mound success, both before and after "The War to End All Wars," Alexander was a tragic figure.

October 2, 1919: Game 2 of the World Series. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2, to go up 2 games to none. Sox pitcher Lefty Williams holds the Reds scoreless for 3 innings, but in the 4th, he walks 3 batters gives up a single to Edd Roush, and then a triple to Larry Kopf.

Sox manager Kid Gleason tells owner Charlie Comiskey that he's suspicious of his players. But Comiskey has been feuding with his old friend Ban Johnson, President of the American League, with the 2 men having founded the League. So Comiskey goes to National League President John Heydler. Heydler tells Johnson about Gleason's suspicions. But Johnson does nothing about it, thinking people will see it as a vengeful act against Comiskey.

Gleason is not the only one who is suspicious: Chicago-based reporters Ring Lardner and Hugh Fullerton make note of some questionable plays. So does former Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson, covering the Series for a newspaper syndicate.

October 2, 1920: The only tripleheader ever played in the 20th Century, forced by rainouts, is played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The Cincinnati Reds win the first 2 games, 13-4 and 7-3, with the Pittsburgh Pirates avoiding the sweep in the finale, 6-0. Peter Harrison is the home plate umpire for all three games.

October 2, 1927: A benefit game is played at Shibe Park between Philadelphia's teams, to build a gymnasium at Gettysburg College, alma mater of Athletics pitcher Eddie Plank, a 300-game winner who died the year before. The Phillies score in the 2nd inning, and lead 1-0 after 6, when the umpires call the game due to rain.

October 2, 1932: The Yankees win their 12th consecutive World Series game and sweep the Fall Classic for the 3rd time, for their 4th World Championship overall. At Wrigley Field, the Bronx Bombers (the nickname has now replaced “Murderers’ Row”) bang out 19 hits as they club the Chicago Cubs, 13-6.

October 2, 1934, 80 years ago today: Earl Lawrence Wilson is born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. On July 28, 1959, he became the 2nd black player for the Red Sox, after Elijah "Pumpsie" Green. On June 26, 1962, pitching against the Los Angeles Angels, he became the 1st black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League. (Sam Jones of the Cubs had done it in the National League, 3 years earlier.) He also hit a home run off Bo Belinsky, who had pitched a no-hitter earlier in the season.

Wilson would be traded to the Detroit Tigers, and was part of a rotation that included Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich, and won the 1968 World Series. He went 121-109 over his career, remained in the Detroit area after his retirement, founded an automotive parts company, taught phys ed and coached basketball at a Florida high school, and died in 2005, at age 70.

October 2, 1936: In Game 2, the Yankees even the World Series at a game apiece by routing the Giants at the Polo Grounds, 18-4. The lopsided win is the largest margin of victory in the history of the Fall Classic, and the most runs scored by a team in Series play. Both records still stand.

The last out of the game is caught in deep center field by the Yankees’ rookie center fielder, Joe DiMaggio, and his momentum carrying him up the steps of the center-field clubhouse. He stays at the top, as a special guest of the Giants, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is helped to a special car on the field, and it drives off.

October 2, 1938: Indians fireballer Bob Feller, just 20 years old, fans 18 Tigers at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, setting a new record for strikeouts in a game. But the Tigers win, 4-1.

Twice, Hank Greenberg is a strikeout victim of Feller's. Greenberg finishes the season with 58 home runs, the 3rd time someone has come close to Babe Ruth’s record of 60 set in 1927. (Jimmie Foxx, who hit 50 this year, had hit 58 in 1932. Hack Wilson had hit 56 in 1930.) Some people argue that, due to Greenberg being Jewish, he was frequently walked (intentionally or “not”) so that he wouldn’t break the Babe’s record. Hank would go to his grave insisting that pitchers had pitched to him fairly.

*

October 2, 1947: Game 3 of the World Series. Yogi Berra hits the first pinch-hit home run in Series history. The historic homer comes off Ralph Branca in the 7th inning at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. But the Dodgers win the game anyway, 9-8, and close to within 2 games to 1.

October 2, 1953: Carl Erskine, owner of perhaps the best curveball of his generation, strikes out 14 Yankees in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, to establish a new World Series mark. The Dodger hurler’s performance bests the record of Howard Ehmke, who struck out 13 Cubs for the Philadelphia Athletics in Game 1 of 1929 Fall Classic.

Only 1 player is still alive from this game, 61 years later: Erskine himself, and Yogi Berra.

October 2, 1954, 60 years ago today: The Giants complete the World Series sweep of the Indians, when Don Liddle beats Bob Lemon, 7-4. The Tribe won an AL record 111 games, not losing 4 straight all season. Now they have.

As for the Giants, it is their 5th World Series won. They would not win another for 46 years. No one would have believed that at the time. Nor would they have believed that the Giants would leave New York just 3 years later. Nor would they have believed that center fielder Willie Mays would never win another World Series.

Four Giants are still alive from their ’54 World Series roster: Mays, left fielder Monte Irvin, shortstop Alvin Dark and pitcher Johnny Antonelli.

October 2, 1961: Coming out of retirement, former Yankee skipper Casey Stengel agrees to manage the Mets, New York’s National League expansion team.  Actually, he goofs, and says, “I’m very pleased to be managing the New York Knickerbockers.” I guess nobody told him the real name of the team — which, since it hadn’t played a game yet, was partly responsible.

*

October 2, 1963: Game 1 of the World Series. Ten years to the day after Erskine struck out 14 Yankees for the Brooklyn edition of the Dodgers, Sandy Koufax fans 15 of them for the Los Angeles version, stunning opposing pitcher Whitey Ford and 69,000 fans. He has a perfect game until the 5th inning, when Elston Howard singles.

Tom Tresh hits a 2-run homer in the 8th, but that's all the Yankees get, losing 5-2. “I understand how he won 25 games,” Yogi says after the game. “What I don’t understand is how he lost 5.”

Still alive from this game, 51 years later: From the Dodgers, Koufax, shortstop Maury Wills, right fielders Frank Howard and defensive replacement Ron Fairly, left fielder Tommy Davis and 2nd baseman Dick Tracewski; from the Yankees, pitchers Whitey Ford and Stan Williams, 1st baseman Joe Pepitone, 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek, and pinch-hitters Hector Lopez and Phil Linz. Yogi was on the roster, but did not play in the game.

October 2, 1964, 50 years ago today: The Phillies finally end their 10-game losing streak, beating the Reds 4-3 in Cincinnati, scoring all their runs in the 8th. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the Mets, 108 losses and all, manage to beat the Cardinals 1-0, on a 5-hit shutout by Al Jackson. In San Francisco, the Giants beat the Cubs 9-0.

The Cardinals lead the Reds by half a game, the Phillies by a game and a half, and the Giants by 2. The Cards have 1 game left against the apparently not-so-hopeless Mets. The Reds and Phils have 1 left, against each other. The Giants have 2 left against the Cubs. Is a 2-, 3-, or even 4-way tie for the NL Pennant possible? Yes, yes, and yes.

In the AL, the Yankees beat the Indians 5-2 at The Stadium, and eliminate the Baltimore Orioles from the race, despite the O's beating the Tigers 10-4. But the White Sox beat the Kansas City Athletics 5-4. With 2 games left, the Yanks lead the Pale Hose by 2 games. A Yankee win in either, or a ChiSox loss in either, and the Yanks win the Pennant.

October 2, 1965: Winning 14 of their last 15 games, the Dodgers clinch the Pennant on the next-to-last day of the season at Dodger Stadium. Sandy Koufax gets his 26th victory, defeating the Milwaukee Braves in the clincher, 2-1. He allows only 4 hits, while the Braves' Tony Cloninger allows just 2.

Koufax finishes with 382 strikeouts, a new major league record, breaking the record of Rube Waddell in 1904. Although Nolan Ryan will get 383 in 1973, the 382 of Koufax is still a record for NLers and lefthanders.

October 2, 1966: Koufax clinches the Pennant again, the Dodgers' 3rd in the last 4 years, working on just 2 days' rest, as the Dodgers beat the Phillies 6-3 at Connie Mack Stadium.

Koufax finishes the season 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA. Over the last 5 seasons, he has been as good a pitcher as has ever been in baseball. And he's not yet 31 years old. But what few people know is that this is his last regular-season game.

October 2, 1968: Bob Gibson establishes a new World Series mark by striking out 17 batters, as the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, 4-0 at Busch Memorial Stadium.

October 2, 1969: Only 5,473 fans attend the Seattle Pilots’ regular-season finale, as the last-place team is defeated by the Oakland Athletics 3-1, for their 98th loss of year. The AL expansion franchise attracts only 677,944 fans for the season — an average of 8,370 per game — and is bankrupt.

This turns out to be the last major league game in Seattle until April 6, 1977, as the Pilots will play in Milwaukee as the Brewers next season.

The last active Seattle Pilot was Fred Stanley. "Chicken," who played for the Yankees from 1973 to 1980, last played in the major leagues for the Oakland Athletics in 1982.

October 2, 1972: Bill Stoneman throws the 2nd of his 2 no-hitters when he holds the Mets hitless in the Expos’ 7-0 victory at Jarry Park. The Montreal All-star right-hander, who also accomplished the feat in 1969 against the Phillies in Philadelphia in just his 5th major league start, becomes the 1st major league pitcher to toss a no-hitter in Canada.

October 2, 1973: Scott David Schoeneweis is born in Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Jersey, and graduates from Lenape High School in Medford, Burlington County, New Jersey. He won a World Series with the Anaheim Angels in 2002, but he was also a member of the Met teams that collapsed in 2007 and ’08. He was released by the Red Sox in 2010 and played again.

He developed cancer, and his prescriptions included steroids. As a result, his name showed up in the Mitchell Report, although he was cleared of wrongdoing by the MLB office, and has recovered. His 577 major league appearances are the most among Jewish pitchers, and he's probably the greatest player who ever wore the Number 60 in the major leagues.

October 2, 1974, 40 years ago today: In his last National League at-bat, Henry Aaron of the Atlanta Braves homers off Rawly Eastwick for his 733rd round-tripper. It also the his 3,600th career hit. The Braves beat the Reds 13-0, at Atlanta Stadium. (It will be renamed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium the next season.)

It's Hammerin' Hank's 3,076 game for the Braves -- and his last. That 733 home runs remains a record for honest men in National League play.

Also on this day, Texas Rangers manager Billy Martin elects not to use a designated hitter, and allows starting pitcher Ferguson Jenkins to bat for himself. It works: Fergie gets a hit in the Rangers’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium.

October 2, 1975: Charlie Emig dies in Oklahoma City, at the age of 100. He was from Cincinnati and a lefthanded pitcher, who made 1 big-league appearance, for the Louisville Colonels of the NL, against the Washington Nationals (not the later NL team with the name), at Boundary Field in Washington (Griffith Stadium would be built on the site in 1911), on September 4, 1896.

He started and pitched 8 innings, and got clobbered, although it was hardly all his fault: He allowed 17 runs, but only 7 were earned. He allowed 12 hits and 7 walks, against only 1 strikeout. The Colonels lost the game, 17-3, and then completed the doubleheader sweep by losing the nightcap.

Emig never made a 2nd appearance, but it was enough. When he died, he was not only the last surviving Louisville Colonel, but also the last surviving man who had played a Major League Baseball (as we would now call it) game in the 19th Century. Until researchers found Emig in the 1990s, the last surviving 19th Century player was believed to have been Ralph Miller, who was also a pitcher from Cincinnati, and died in 1973. He is, however, still believed to be the 1st former major leaguer to live to be 100.

*

October 2, 1983: Carl Yastrzemski plays in his 3,308th and final game, 5 years to the day after popping up to end the Bucky Dent Game. Playing left field for the Red Sox, he collects a hit, the 3,419th of his career, which includes 452 home runs. Among human beings still alive in 2014, only Pete Rose, Hank Aaron and Derek Jeter have more hits.

After Boston's 3-1 victory over Cleveland, Yaz takes a lap of honor around Fenway Park, and stays to sign autographs on Yawkey Way for over an hour.

No player in the history of North American major league sports has appeared in more games without winning a World Championship. But Yaz is still one of the all-time greats, now has a statue of himself dedicated outside Fenway.

October 2, 1985: Darrell Evans becomes the first player in major league history to hit 40 home runs in a season in both Leagues. The Tigers 1st baseman, who had hit 41 with the Atlanta Braves in 1973, goes deep off Toronto Blue Jays’ hurler Dave Stieb to reach 40 on the last day of the season. He ends his career with 407 home runs.

October 2, 1986: Yankee 1st baseman Don Mattingly establishes a new team record, collecting his 232nd hit of the season, breaking the mark set in 1927 by Earle Combs. Donnie Baseball will finish the season with a league-leading 238 hits.

October 2, 1988: In St. Louis, Mets’ outfielder Kevin McReynolds establishes a major league record swiping 21 bases without being caught stealing during the season. The A’s Jimmy Sexton had set the record in with 16 stolen bases without being thrown out in 1982.

October 2, 1990: The A's beat the Angels 6-4, giving Oakland pitcher Bob Welch his 27th win of the season. No pitcher since has even won 24.

October 2, 1991: The Blue Jays clinch the American League East title, beating the Angels 6-5, in their last home game of the season. The sellout crowd of 50,324 allows them to become the first sport franchise in history to draw four million fans in one season: 4,001,527.

Yes, the Blue Jays used to sell out.  No, I’m not kidding.

October 2, 1995: In a one-game playoff for the American League West title, Seattle Mariners’ southpaw Randy Johnson throws a three-hitter and beats the Angels, 9-1. The ‘Big Unit’ finishes the season with an 18-2 record to establish a new AL mark for winning percentage by a lefthander, of .900, surpassing the record set of .893 by Ron Guidry in 1978.  (Guidry still has the mark for lefty AL pitchers winning at least 20 games.)

The Angels led the Division by 11 games on August 9, and 6 games on September 12.  But a 9-game losing streak, and a 7-game winning streak by the Mariners, doomed the Halos.

October 2, 1996: After losing badly to the Rangers in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, it looks like the Yankees are going to fall behind 2-0 -- at home. Juan Gonzalez hits his 3rd homer of the series -- a drive down the left-field line that is pulled into foul territory by a fan reaching across the foul pole. In other words, he does the exact opposite of what Jeffrey Maier does a week later. This yutz is soon caught a by Fox Sports camera, yammering on his mobile phone, about what he did and how he's on TV. I'm surprised he didn't get the crap beaten out of him, right there in the stands.

But the Yankees bounce back, tie it up, and send it to extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Charlie Hayes attempts to bunt Derek Jeter over to 3rd base (and Tim Raines to 2nd), when Ranger 3rd baseman Dean Palmer, who had homered in Game 1, threw the ball away. Yankees 5, Rangers 4.

The Rangers would not win another game that counted until April 1, 1997, and would not win another postseason game until October 6, 2010.

October 2, 1998: Gene Autry dies at age 91. The Singing Cowboy, one of the most beloved entertainers who ever lived, was also the founding owner of the team then known as the Anaheim Angels. They retired their uniform Number 26 for him, as "the 26th Man."

October 2, 2004, 10 years ago today: Jeff Kent of the Houston Astros hits 2 home runs, reaching 302 for his career, and 278 as a 2nd baseman, breaking the career record set by Ryne Sandberg.

October 2, 2005: In a recorded message shown at the start of the last regular-season game at the 1966 edition of Busch Stadium (they won the NL Central, so there will be Playoff games played there), Joe Buck, unable to be in attendance due to calling a NFL game on national television, asks the crowd to honor his late father by singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” a cappella. A stirring rendition fills the ballpark when 50,000 voices join in unison to sing the National Anthem, a fitting tribute to the late and beloved Cardinal broadcaster.

In the top of the 6th inning, Ozzie Smith emerges from the gate in right field wall in an open convertible. After touring warning track, the former Cardinal shortstop removes the digit “1″, his old uniform number, which is affixed to the outfield wall, revealing a “0,” to indicate the number regular-season games left to be played in the stadium. The Cards beat the Reds, 7-5.

October 2, 2008: In the franchise’s first postseason game, the Tampa Bay Rays defeat the visiting Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field, 6-4. Tampa Bay’s rookie third baseman, Evan Longoria, joins Gary Gaetti of the 1987 Twins in becoming only the second player to homer in his first two postseason at-bats.

October 2, 2013: The Pittsburgh Pirates beat their Ohio River arch-rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2 at PNC Park, to win the NL Wild Card Play-in game, and advance to the Playoffs proper. Russell Martin — whom Yankee GM Brian Cashman let get away, resulting in the Pinstripes struggling at the catcher position all season long — hits 2 home runs.

This is the first time the Pirates have won a postseason game in 21 years, since George Bush was President. The father, not the son. And it’s the first time they’ve advanced in the postseason since they were “Family” in 1979. The Seventies. The Carter years. The dreaded Disco Period.

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