Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy Jim Leyritz Day!

October 23, 1996: Game 4 of the World Series. The Braves rock Yankee starter Kenny Rogers and lead 6-0 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. They close to within 6-3, but in the top of the 8th, they are 4 outs away from being down 3 games to 1 in the Series, their great season coming to a very disappointing close.

But they get two runners on, and backup catcher Jim Leyritz comes to bat against Braves closer Mark Wohlers. Wohlers throws pitches at 98 and 99 miles per hour, and Leyritz manages to foul them off. Then Wohlers dials it down a little, throwing an 86-mile-per-hour slider. Leyritz, a postseason hero for the Yankees a year earlier with his 15th-inning walkoff homer in the Division Series against Seattle, knocks it over the left-field fence to tie the game.

The Yankees load the bases in the 10th, and third baseman Wade Boggs, whom Torre had benched in favor of Charlie Hayes due to his usual magnificent hitting having failed him, is sent up to pinch-hit. Boggs draws one of the most important walks in baseball history, and it’s 7-6 Yanks. An error makes the final score 8-6 Yanks.

Not since the 1929 Cubs had a team blown a 6-run lead in a Series game. The Yankees were in serious trouble, but now the Series is tied, and anything can happen. In this 1996 season, lots of anythings have already happened for the Yankees.

The Yankees traded him in 1997. He helped the San Diego Padres reach the World Series in 1998 -- against the Yankees. In 1999, the Yankees reacquired him, and he helped them with another World Series, hitting what turned out to be the last home run of the 20th Century in Game 4. This led NBC's Bob Costas to say, "You could send this guy to a resort in the spring and summer, as long as he comes back for October." His career ended in 2000 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Leyritz has had his ups and downs since. In 2006, he admitted that he'd used amphetamines while playing -- legal at the time, and not nearly as performance-enhancing as steroids. (So if you want to invalidate the Yankees' 1996 and 1999 World Championships because of this, you can't.) In 2007, he killed another driver in a drunken crash. He ended up serving 10 days in jail and a year's probation. In 2009, he was charged with domestic violence for hitting his wife, although she later dropped the charges (but also dropped him through divorce -- they had 4 children).

In 2011, he was a coach for the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League. In 2012, he worked for the Yankee front office. He now hosts a radio show in Los Angeles. He is about to turn 51 years old.

Also on October 23, 1996, former Yankee pitcher Bob Grim dies at age 66. The New York native was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1954, and won the World Series with them in 1956.


October 23, 1845: In a rematch at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey‚ the New York Club (a.k.a. the New York Nine) again beats Brooklyn‚ this time 39-17. The New York Herald publishes a box score of the game showing 12 outs for each side during the game‚ 8 players on each‚ and 3 umpires.

Neither of these clubs leave any records behind, but it is likely that this game is not considered a "New York game," as would be defined over the next few months by the Knickerbocker club.

October 23, 1869: John William Heisman is born in Cleveland. He coached several college football teams, his tenure at Georgia Tech being the best-remembered. Upon his death in 1936, the national player of the year trophy first awarded the year before was named the Heisman Memorial Trophy in his memory.

October 23, 1876: The Chicago Tribune publishes season-ending batting percentages, based on the new method of dividing number of at-bats into number of hits. Roscoe "Ross" Barnes of the Chicago White Stockings (forerunners of the Cubs) leads with a .429 average‚ thanks in part to the fair-foul rule.

The following season‚ the rule is changed so that a ball hit in fair territory and rolls foul before passing first/third base is a foul ball.

October 23, 1886: The American Association Champion St. Louis Browns win the World Championship by beating the National League Champion Chicago White Stockings, 4-3 in 10 innings. This is the beginning of the rivalry between the teams now known as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, often (but hardly universally) considered the greatest in the National League.

Pitching his 4th game in 6 days‚ John Clarkson holds St. Louis hitless for 6 innings as Chicago builds a 3-0 lead. The Browns tie the game in the 8th‚ and Curt Welch scores the "$15‚000" run on a wild pitch in the 10th. St. Louis wins the entire gate receipts from the series ($13‚920)‚ with each of 12 players getting about $580.

October 23, 1894: Raymond Bloom Bressler is born in Coder, Pennsylvania. “Rube” Bressler was a pitcher-turned-outfielder, and a member of the Cincinnati Reds team that won the 1919 World Series.

Like his teammate, future Hall-of-Famer Edd Roush, he was interviewed by Lawrence S. Ritter for his book The Glory of Their Times. And, like Roush, he insisted that the Reds would have won that Series even if the White Sox hadn’t thrown it. He had a .301 lifetime batting average and batted over .300 5 times.


October 23, 1905: Gertrude Caroline Ederle is born in Manhattan (although many reference books had said 1906). In 1924, she was part of a U.S. women’s swimming relay team that won an Olympic Gold Medal in Paris. In 1925, she swam the 21 miles from the southern tip of Manhattan Island to New Jersey's Sandy Hook in just 7 hours. She was just getting warmed up.

On August 6, 1926, she not only became the 1st woman to swim the English Channel, but broke the existing men’s record for fastest swim of it, lowering it  from 16½ to 14½ hours. Already hard of hearing, she eventually went deaf, and spent much of her life teaching deaf children to swim. She lived to be 98.

October 23, 1910: The Philadelphia Athletics win the World Series for the 1st time, defeating the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs finish a streak of 4 Pennants in 5 seasons, and the A’s have just begun an equal streak.

Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown comes back to face Jack Coombs‚ who takes a 2-1 lead into the 7th. The A's get to Brown for 5 runs and a 7-2 win. The crowd of 27‚374 at Shibe Park is the Series' largest. The A's .316 batting average is a World Series record.

For this Series‚ cork-center balls were secretly used for the first time‚ and will be used in the majors starting next year. Previously‚ rubber-center balls were used. And yet, it would be another 10 years before what we now call "The Lively Ball Era" began.

The A's already have 3rd baseman Frank Baker, shortstop Jack Barry and 2nd baseman Eddie Collins. But 1st baseman John "Stuffy" McInnis is still a year away from becoming a starter. When he does, those 4 will become known as "The $100,000 Infield." My, how quaint the figure now sounds -- about $1.8 million in today's money, combined, for those 4. Baker is also a year away from the achievement that will get him nicknamed "Home Run" Baker. Collins, Baker, pitcher Albert "Chief" Bender, and manager/part-owner Connie Mack will be elected to the Hall of Fame.

The last survivor of the Philadelphia A's teams that won the 1910, '11, '13 and '14 American League Pennants was center fielder Amos Strunk, who lived until 1979. The Phillies, discovering that he was the last living player who'd played at the first game at Shibe Park on April 12, 1909, invited him to attend the last game at what had been renamed Connie Mack Stadium on October 1, 1970. He angrily refused, even though he lived just outside Philadelphia in Drexel Hill, still angry with Mack after 60 years, and not willing to be associated with him in any way, even though Mack himself had been dead for 14 years.

October 23, 1915: Dr. William Gilbert Grace dies of a heart attack. He was 67. I don’t know much about cricket, but the native of Bristol, in England's West County, played at the top level of the sport for a record 44 seasons, from 1865 to 1908, and was regarded as the game’s first modern batsman, and by many as its greatest player ever – which certainly suggests that he was the greatest of its early years.

Although he was a practicing physician, he was usually referred to publicly by his initials, “W.G. Grace,” rather than “Dr. Grace.”

October 23, 1923: Babe Ruth makes a post-season appearance in a Giants uniform‚ as the Giants defeat the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. 9-0. Ruth hits a home run over the right-field roof at the Polo Grounds.

The game is a benefit for John B. Day, the now-destitute owner of the Giants’ franchise from their arrival in New York in 1883 until 1892. He had also run the New York Metropolitans of the 1880s' American Association -- the "original New York Mets." He died in 1925, age 77.

October 23, 1925: John William Carson is born in Corning, Iowa.  Or, as Ed McMahon would have said if he'd been in the delivery room, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!"

Host of The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992, Johnny Carson made his share of sports jokes. For example: “Well, it’s fall again, and now, we here in Los Angeles can forget about the Dodgers, and concentrate on forgetting the Rams.”

Every year, around Christmastime, Johnny would break out the ideal toy: Dickie the Stick! Dickie the Stick was a very versatile toy. One time, Johnny demonstrated that, “With Dickie the Stick, you can hit a baseball like Reggie Jackson! Or scratch like Pete Rose!”

Also on this day, Frederick Alexander Shero is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Freddie the Fog” played 145 games as a defenseman for the New York Rangers between 1947 and 1950, but is much better known as a coach. He led the Philadelphia Flyers to the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cups – the only ones that franchise has ever won. He also coached the Rangers to the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals, their only trip there between 1972 and 1994.

His philosophy of hockey was simple: “Take the shortest route to the puck, and arrive in ill humor.” Before the clinching Game 6 on May 19, 1974, he told his Flyer players, “We will win together now, and we will walk together forever.” He was right.


October 23, 1931: The Brooklyn Baseball Club of the National League announces that Wilbert Robinson has been fired as manager, and the club will be called the Robins only in the past tense. Max Carey‚ a no-nonsense sort who had been a star outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates‚ will take over next year. The team reverts to its previous name: The Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson was not yet done, though. He was named the president of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, and held that post until his death. He had been involved in professional baseball in one form or another in 50 seasons. And, not long before both men died in 1934, he made peace with his arch-rival, former friend and teammate, John McGraw.

Also on this day, James Paul David Bunning is born in Southgate, Kentucky, outside Cincinnati. He is one of the few pitchers to win at least 100 games in both Leagues, and one of the few to pitch no-hitters in both Leagues, including a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium in 1964. It was on Father’s Day, and he had 6 children. He would go on to have 9.

He served his native Kentucky in both houses of Congress, but in the last few years, the very conservative Republican was one of the Senate’s nuttier voices. Then again, pitching for the Phillies prior to 2007 (except for 1980) could do that to you. He is, however, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Phillies have retired his Number 14.

October 23, 1935: Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at a saloon in Newark, New Jersey, in what will become known as The Chophouse Massacre. As my father, a Newark native, would say, “No great loss.”

In 1998, Michael Walsh published As Time Goes By, a combination prequel and sequel to the film Casablanca, authorized by the estate of the film's writers, the twins Julius and Philip Epstein. In it, Walsh fictionalizes this shootout as being part of the reason Yitzik "Rick" Baline has to flee the United States and become saloonkeeper/casino operator "Rick Blaine."

October 23, 1939, 75 years ago: Zane Grey dies of heart failure in Altadena, California. He was 67. He had played minor-league baseball, and once he failed at that, he became a sportswriter. Eventually, he became a writer of Western novels, including Last of the Plainsmen, and was a favorite of another frustrated athlete, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. On M*A*S*H, Colonel Sherman T. Potter (played by Harry Morgan) was also a big fan of Grey's novels.


October 23, 1940: Edson Arantes do Nascimento is born in Três Corações (Three Hearts), Minas Gerais, Brazil. The most famous native of his country, we know him as Pelé. If he is not the greatest soccer player who ever lived, he is certainly the most celebrated.

He helped Brazil win the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He might have won it in 1966, too, if the Argentina players hadn't literally kicked him out of it. He led Santos, the largest club in the city of Sao Paulo, to 10 championships of the State of Sao Paulo between 1958 and 1973, 5 national tournament titles and the Copa Libertadores (the South American equivalent to the UEFA Champions League) in 1962 and 1963.

He played his final 3 seasons in America, with the New York Cosmos, playing home games at Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island in 1975, Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in 1976, and Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands of East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1977, leading them to the NASL Championship that season.

When he got the entire stadium to “Say it with me, three times: Love! Love! Love!” prior to his testimonial match on October 1, 1977 -- playing the 1st half for the Cosmos, and the 2nd half for Santos -- heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who liked to call himself “The Greatest” and generally refused to take a back seat to anyone, said, “Now I understand: He is greater than me.”

These kids today who say that Lionel Messi is the best player ever? They don't know. These kids today who say Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player ever? He's not even the best Ronaldo the game has ever seen. (Or even the 2nd-best, if you count Ronaldinho.) They don't know: Pelé is the greatest. It's why the Brazilians call him O Rei: The King.

His greatest accomplishment is that he got our nation, notorious for insularity and not caring about what goes on in the rest of the world, to care about soccer for the first time -- it only lasted for a few years, but it provided the building blocks for American soccer fandom today. American soccer fans may not owe him as much as Brazilian fans do, but we're a strong 2nd in that regard.

Also on this day, Eleanor Louise Greenwich is born in Brooklyn. With her then-husband, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich wrote "Be My Baby", "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Leader of the Pack", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", and "River Deep, Mountain High", and about a jillion other rock-and-roll classics.

In 1964 alone, 17 different songs that she and Barry wrote appeared on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100. The only songwriters, individuals or in a team, that’s ever topped that in the rock-and-roll era (1955 to the present) also did it that year: John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

She discovered Neil Diamond, and sang backing vocals on several of Diamond's hit songs. In the 1980s, her life and songs were turned into a Broadway musical titled Leader of the Pack. She died of a heart attack on August 23, 2009, age 68.


October 23, 1945: Brooklyn Dodger president Branch Rickey announces the signing of Jackie Robinson by the Dodger organization. Robinson signs a contract for 1946 for the Dodgers’ top farm team, the Montreal Royals of the International League.

Rickey also signs Negro League pitcher Johnny Wright on this day. But after playing with Montreal in 1946 -- as much to be a roommate and companion for Robinson as for any talent he might have had -- Rickey realized (as did Robinson) that, unlike Robinson, Wright did not have the temperament to make it in white pro ball.

He returned to the Negro Leagues with the Homestead Grays for 1947, retired after the 1948 season, worked in a gypsum plant, and died in 1990, at the age of 73.

October 23, 1949: Michael Walsh is born in Rochester, New York. Author of the aforementioned As Time Goes By, he is also the author of the novel And All the Saints, and several nonfiction books about music.

Sadly, he is a political conservative, having written for National Review and I used to appreciate National Review: Even though I agreed with little in its pages, it usually had good writing, reflecting the character of its co-founder and longtime editor, William F. Buckley Jr. Since WFB died, however, it's like they are no longer dedicated to truth, only to political gain.


October 23, 1962: Doug Flutie is born in Manchester, Maryland, later moving to Melbourne Beach, Florida and Natick, Massachusetts. Almost singlehandedly, he turned Boston College from a pretender to Division I-A grandeur into an Eastern football powerhouse.

Had there been a Big East Conference in 1984, BC would have won it, and even without the thrilling 47-45 day-after-Thanksgiving game in the rain which he won with a last-second pass to his college roommate Gerard Phelan, Flutie would likely have won that year’s Heisman Trophy.

But the NFL balked at him because of his height, 5-foot-9¾. The USFL’s New Jersey Generals tried him out, and then he was signed by the Chicago Bears, desperate for someone to step in for the injured Jim McMahon. His hometown New England Patriots – their 60,000-seat former home of Foxboro Stadium was used by BC for games too small for their on-campus Alumni Stadium, then half that size – also gave him a shot.

But it was in Canada where he achieved professional success, winning the Grey Cup with the Vancouver-based British Columbia Lions in 1992 and the Toronto Argonauts in 1996 and 1997. He was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player 6 times in 7 years from 1991 to 1997.

Finally, in 1998, when he was 36, the NFL could ignore him no longer, and he got the Buffalo Bills into the Playoffs. In 1999, he got the Bills into the Playoffs again, but coach Wade Phillips – who said he was acting on the orders of owner Ralph Wilson – benched him in favor of Rob Johnson for a Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans won, on the play known as the “Music City Miracle.”

The Bills have not made the Playoffs since, leading to talk of a “Flutie Curse”; indeed, the Bills are the only NFL team not to have qualified for the Playoffs in the 21st Century. However, they have not gone as far as the schedule will let them since the 1965 AFL Championship, losing the ’66 AFL Title Game and 4 AFC Title Games, so if there really is a curse on the Bills, it goes back a lot further than Flutie.

He went to the San Diego Chargers, and closed his career on January 1, 2006 with his hometown Patriots. In his first attempted kick in NFL play, Flutie executed a dropkick for a field goal, the only one in NFL play since 1941.

He is now a motivational speaker, and the drummer for the Flutie Brothers Band. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and is the only non-Canadian in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. A short stretch of road connecting the Natick Mall in his hometown of Natick and the Shoppers' World Mall in Framingham is named Flutie Pass.

October 23, 1965: Alois Terry Leiter is born in Toms River, New Jersey. Al and his brother Mark Leiter, who also became a major league pitcher, grew up in nearby Berkeley Township and attended Central Regional High School. He both began and ended his career with the Yankees, won World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993, another with the Florida Marlins in 1997, and a National League Pennant with the Mets, the team he grew up rooting for, in 2000.

He won Game 1 of the 1993 World Series and hit a double in the game. He started Games 1 and 5 in the 2000 World Series, stood to win Game 1 before the bullpen blew it, and gave it everything he had in Game 5 before the Yankees won it. He pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins in 1996, just 3 days before Dwight Gooden pitched his for the Yankees. He won 162 games in his career, despite much of his early career being riddled with injuries. He has since become a broadcaster.

Also on this day, Christopher Robison is born in Pittsburgh. Writing under the name Augusten Burroughs, he is the author of the books Running With Scissors and Dry.


October 23, 1975: Keith Adam Van Horn is born in Fullerton, Orange County, California. A 3-time Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year with the University of Utah, he played for several teams, but was generally considered to be a lazy player. He did reach the NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets in 2002 and the Dallas Mavericks in 2006.

October 23, 1976: Ryan Rodney Reynolds is born in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian actor starred in The Proposal with Sandra Bullock – ironically, as an American who marries Bullock’s Canadian character so she doesn’t get deported. Casting him as the superhero Green Lantern was a really bad idea.

As far as I know, he has nothing to do with sports. He used to be married to Scarlett Johansson, but no longer: He went from being a member of the Lucky Bastards Club to being a member of the Damn Fools Club. But he has gone back, having married Blake Lively.

October 23, 1979: At a hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota, not far from Metropolitan Stadium, then home of the Twins and the Vikings, Billy Martin is involved in a barroom altercation with Joseph Cooper‚ a marshmallow salesman from the Chicago suburbs. Cooper requires 15 stitches to close a gash in his lip. Billy’s 2nd tenure as Yankee manager soon ends.

Somehow, I think Billy, despite his small frame, got seen as a bully because Cooper has always been listed as "a marshmallow salesman." I can find no record of what happened to Cooper after his fight with Billy. He was 52 years old at the time, so, if he's still alive, he'd be 86 now -- not impossible, but unlikely.

What was Billy doing in Minnesota, anyway? He didn't live there, he wasn't managing the Twins (though he did, in the 1969 season, getting them to the AL West title before being fired due to, you guessed it, a fight), and the season was over, so the Yankees didn't have to play the Twins at that time.


October 23, 1981: Despite an uncharacteristic poor performance (9 hits‚ 7 walks), Los Angeles’ sensational Mexican rookie Fernando Valenzuela goes the distance in the Dodgers' 5-4 come-from-behind win in Game 3 of the World Series over the Yankees. The deciding run scores on a double play.

Yankee starter Dave Righetti lasts just 2 innings‚ walking 2 and allowing 5 hits‚ but it is reliever George Frazier who takes the loss. Ron Cey hits a 3-run homer for the Dodgers. Starters Valenzuela and Righetti are the 1st 2 Rookies of the Year, of any position, to oppose each other in the World Series since Willie Mays and Gil McDougald in 1951.

Also on this day, recently fired Met manager Joe Torre signs a 3-year contract to manage the Atlanta Braves. This tenure will be a bit more successful than his time in Flushing. However, after this World Series, the Yankees will not reach the Series again, and Torre will still not have reached it as either a player or a manager, until they come together 15 years later.

October 23, 1983: A suicide bomber kills 241 U.S. Marines in their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. It remains the worst 1-day loss for the U.S. armed forces since June 21, 1945, the end of the Battle of Okinawa.

Also on this day, NBC newscaster Jessica Savitch is killed in a car crash along the Delaware River in New Hope, Pennsylvania. She was 36.

October 23, 1986: Game 5 of the World Series. Bruce Hurst outduels Dwight Gooden, and the Red Sox beat the Mets, 4-2. The Series goes back to Shea, and the Sox only have to win 1 of the last 2 to win their first World Championship in 68 years. The Mets are 1 loss away from one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of baseball.


October 23, 1991: The Atlanta Braves even the Series at 2 games apiece with a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins in Game 4 at Fulton County Stadium. Journeyman catcher Jerry Willard's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th is the deciding blow. Terry Pendleton and Lonnie Smith stroke solo homers for the Braves‚ while Mike Pagliarulo does the same for the Twins.

October 23, 1993: Game 6 of the World Series, at the SkyDome in Toronto.  The Toronto Blue Jays lead the Philadelphia Phillies 3 games to 2, but trail 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th.

Mitch Williams comes in to close it out for the Phils, but allows 2 runners, before Joe Carter comes to bat. Carter would go on to hit 396 home runs in regular season play, so he was no Bucky Dent, or Bernie Carbo, or Geoff Blum. He hit more home runs than Chris Chambliss, or Bobby Thomson, or Kirk Gibson, or Carlton Fisk. So giving up a home run to him was no shame, though you don't want to lose the World Series on any pitch to any player.

Carter sends a screaming liner down the left-field line, just clearing the fence, and just fair. Home run. Toronto 8, Philadelphia 6. The Jays have won back-to-back World Championships.

Only Bill Mazeroski, who ended a World Series Game 7 with a home run in 1960, has ever hit a bigger home run than this.

Williams, a.k.a. the Wild Thing, has often been blamed for losing the Series. But it was Game 6, so if the Phils had won, they still would have had to play Game 7, on the road, against the defending World Champions. The rest of the Philly bullpen hadn't been much better in this Series. Where the Phils really lost the Series was in Game 4, when they blew a 14-9 lead at Veterans Stadium and lost 15-14. The Jays were very experienced, already accomplished, at home, and the better team.  Besides, the Phils wouldn't have gotten into the World Series without Williams.

When the Vet closed in 2003, Williams was one of the in-uniform attendees, and was cheered, rather than subjected to the well-known venom of "the Philadelphia Boo-Birds." All was forgiven.

And in the 21 years since, the Phillies have played 46 postseason games. The Jays, none. Indeed, now that the Kansas City Royals have won a Pennant, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the Playoffs in back-to-back years, not only have the Jays gone longer than any other team without winning the Pennant (unless you count the Seattle Mariners having never won one, or the Montreal Expos with the Washington Nationals), they've gone longer without making the Playoffs than any other team.


October 23, 1995: The Yankees name Bob Watson their new General Manager‚ replacing Gene Michael, who becomes Director of Scouting. Now, they just need a new manager, to replace the recently resigned Buck Showalter.

Also on this day, plans are approved for a new $320 million stadium, with a retractable roof and real grass, for the Seattle Mariners. By mid-1999, they will be out of the ugly gray Kingdome, and in the shiny new Safeco Field, and their long-term stay in the Pacific Northwest will be secure.

October 23, 1997: Rookie Livan Hernandez wins for the 2nd time as Florida holds off Cleveland for an 8-7 victory in Game 5. Down 8-4‚ the Indians fight back with 3 in the 9th, but strand the tying runner on base. Moises Alou hits a 3-run homer for Florida‚ while Sandy Alomar matches him for the Tribe.

This Series’ games in Cleveland are 3 of the 4 coldest in Series history. They are the first Series games to have been played in a snowfall since 1906. And, despite the Indians having reached the postseason in 1998, ’99, 2001 and ’07, and the Cincinnati Reds doing so in 1999 (sort of), 2010 and 2012, this Game 5 remains the last World Series game played in the State of Ohio.

October 23, 1999: The Yankees beat the Braves‚ 4-1‚ to take the opening game of the World Series. Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez holds Atlanta to 1 hit in 7 innings for the victory. The Braves' only run comes on a 4th inning homer by Chipper Jones.


October 23, 2001: Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. After 116 regular season wins, breaking the American League record and tying the major league record, the Seattle Mariners are down 3 games to 1. Their manager, former Yankee outfielder and manager Lou Piniella, has predicted, “We’re going back to Seattle for Game 6.”

Sweet Lou was a terrific player for the Yankees, and was often a good manager, but as a prophet, he was no Joe Namath or Mark Messier. More like Patrick Ewing: The prediction blows up in his face. Yankees 12, Mariners 3.

Yankee Fans, feeling every bit as arrogant as Mariner fans had all season – but unlike M’s fans, they had earned it – chant “One-sixteen! One-sixteen! One-sixteen!” And “Over-rated!” And, for the Mariners’ sensational Japanese “rookie” Ichiro Suzuki, “Sayonara!” It is the Yankees’ 38th American League Pennant, and one the City of New York really needed after the 9/11 attacks, 6 weeks earlier.

October 23, 2002: Adolph Green dies at age 87. With Betty Comden, he wrote several Broadway musicals. The songs they wrote include “New York, New York” (as in, “It’s a wonderful town” – sometimes “It’s a hell of a town”) and “Theme From New York, New York” (as in, “Start spreadin’ the news... “)

October 23, 2003: The Florida Marlins move to 1 game away from a World Championship as they defeat the Yankees‚ 6-4‚ to take a 3-games-to-2 lead in the World Series. Winning pitcher Brad Penny's 2-run single gives Florida a lead they never surrender. Jason Giambi hits a pinch-hit homer in the 9th to bring the Yankees within 2 runs‚ but Bernie Williams' attempt for a game-tying homer falls short at the warning track in center field.

The Yankees were a run away from going up 3 games to 1 last night, before Jeff Weaver screwed up. Now, the Yankees are in deep trouble.

October 23, 2004, 10 years ago: The Boston Red Sox take the opener of the World Series with an 11-9 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Mark Bellhorn's 2-run 8th inning homer is the deciding blow, as Boston bounces back after blowing an early 7-2 lead. David Ortiz also homered for the Sox‚ while Larry Walker connected for St. Louis.

Also on this day, Robert Merrill dies at age 87. The legendary Brooklyn-born opera singer had been the Yankees’ National Anthem singer in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. On Old-Timers’ Day, he would walk up to the microphone wearing Number 1½.

Also on this day, Bill Nicholson dies at age 85. No, not the 1940s and ‘50s slugging outfielder known as “Swish” for his many strikeouts. This was the longtime player and manager of the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club of North London. “Spurs” have won just 2 League Championships in their history, in 1951 with “Bill Nick” as a player and in 1961 with him as their manager.

He also managed them to the FA Cup in 1961 (making them the first English team in the 20th Century to accomplish “The Double”), 1962 and 1967; the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963, and the UEFA Cup in 1972. But he resigned early in the 1974-75 season, "burned out" (as Dick Vermeil would later say when he left the Philadelphia Eagles job) over several things, including the disgraceful behavior of Tottenham fans in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, when they lost the UEFA Cup Final to host club Feyenoord, and causing Spurs to become the 1st British club to get banned from Europe. (Much like George Steinbrenner's 1990 ban from baseball, it was permanent, but they were reinstated after 2 years.)

October 23, 2005: Scott Posednik's walkoff home run in the bottom of the 9th inning off Brad Lidge gives the Chicago White Sox a 7-6 victory over the Houston Astros, and a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series. Paul Konerko's grand slam in the 7th puts Chicago in a short-lived lead, before Morgan Ensberg hits a solo homer for Houston.

Lidge had already given up a game-losing homer to Albert Pujols in the NLCS before the Astros won the Pennant in the next game. Lidge would recover -- but not with the Astros.

October 23, 2006: Extending his scoreless streak to 24 1/3 postseason innings, dating back to 2003 with the Twins, Kenny Rogers blanks the Cardinals for 8 innings, when the Tigers win 3-1, to even the World Series at a game apiece. The "Gambler's" recent play-off success comes under suspicion as TV cameras spot an unknown dark spot on the right-hander's pitching hand in the 1st inning, which he claims to be only mud.

October 23, 2013: Game 1 of the World Series. Having rallied their city following the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April, much as the Yankees did for New York after the 9/11 attack in 2001, the "Boston Strong" Red Sox beat the Cardinals 8-1.

David Ortiz, the big fat lying cheating steroid user, hits yet another postseason home run. But a more obvious cheat is that of Sox starter Jon Lester, who was caught with a foreign substance on his glove. He claimed it was rosin, which is legal, and the Cards chose not to press the matter. But this is a New England sports team, so are you going to believe them?

This was the Sox' 9th straight win in World Series play. The record is 14, set by the Yankees from  1996 to 2000. The Yankees had also won 12 straight from 1927 to 1932 (before losing in Game 1 in 1936), and 10 straight from 1937 to 1941. The Cincinnati Reds won 9 straight from 1975 to 1990, and haven't appeared in the Series again, so, technically, their streak is still intact.

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