Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 1: The Babe's Called Shot, DiMaggio Day, Dick Sisler, Maris 61, Ichiro 258, the 1st World Series Game, and the Browns' Only Pennant

October 1, 1932: Did he or didn’t he? He may not have pointed to center field in Game 3 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs and said, “I’m gonna hit the ball THERE.” But the film certainly shows him pointing at pitcher Charlie Root.  It looks like he’s sending SOME sort of message.  On the next pitch, boom.  Message received.  So, by my definition, yeah, Babe Ruth called his shot.
The last living player from either team was Charlie Devens, Yankee pitcher 1932-34, died August 13, 2003, at age 93. The last to have actually played in the game was Frank Crosetti, Yankee shortstop 1932-48, and coach 1949-68, died February 11, 2002, at age 91.
Also on this day, Joe DiMaggio makes his professional debut. Like Mickey Mantle, who would succeed him as the Yankees’ center fielder, it was as a shortstop. Also like Mantle, his time at shortstop doesn’t last long. A few weeks short of his 18th birthday, DiMag has been put into the lineup for the last game of the season for his hometown club, the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. A year later, he will become the best pro ballplayer west of St. Louis. Maybe the best one east of it, too.

October 1, 1866: A crowd of 30,000 people, believed to be the largest in baseball history to that point, watches a game between the host Athletics (no connection to the American League team founded in 1901) and the Atlantics of Brooklyn, considered the best team in the country at the time. The A’s score 2 runs in the 1st inning, but the crowd rushes the field, and the game is called when they won’t get off.

October 1, 1903: The first World Series game is played, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston. Deacon Phillippe of the Pittsburgh Pirates outpitches Cy Young of the Boston Pilgrims. Jimmy Sebring of the proto-Red Sox hits the first World Series home run, but the Pirates win, 7-3.
Northeastern University’s Cabot Gym is now on the site, and a statue of Young stands at the approximate location of the pitcher’s mound.

October 1, 1919: Game 1 of the World Series, at Redland Field (later renamed Crosley Field) in Cincinnati. The starter for the Chicago White Sox is knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte. The 1st batter for the Cincinnati Reds is Morrie Rath. Cicotte, not known as a dirty pitcher, but who had taken $10,000 (about $137,000 in today's money) from gamblers the night before, hits Rath with a pitch. This is the signal to the gamblers that the fix to which they'd agreed is still on.

In the bottom of the 4th, the game is tied 1-1. So far, nothing to suggest to the unaware spectator that anything is amiss. But then Cicotte melts down, and allows 5 runs. The Reds win, 9-1, and the "upset" is on.
October 1, 1921: Ray Schalk of the Chicago White Sox does something no catcher had ever done before, nor has since: He makes a putout at every base at least once in a game. The White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-5.
October 1, 1924, 90 years ago: Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell from playing in the World Series, after O’Connell confesses that he tried to bribe Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand to “go easy” in the season-ending series between the teams.
O’Connell also implicates 3 future Hall-of-Famers on his own team: Frankie Frisch, George “Highpockets” Kelly and Ross Youngs. Landis finds no evidence against them, and they are cleared to play. O’Connell, just 23 and with only 2 years of major league play under his belt, never plays professional ball again, and dies in 1976.
October 1, 1933: Babe Ruth pitches for the last time, in order to draw a big crowd in the finale of a season in which the Yankees did not win.  It doesn’t work: Only 25,000 fans come out.
The Babe goes the distance against his former team, the Red Sox. He gives up 5 runs on 12 hits and 3 walks, with no strikeouts… But the Yankees win, 6-5. Ruth also hits his 34th home run of the season, the 686th of his career, and retires with a career record of 94-46.

October 1, 1944, 70 years ago: The St. Louis Browns clinch the American League Pennant. It is their first. They are the last of Major League Baseball's "Original 16" teams (a term not used back then) to do so. They will not win another until 1966, by which point they are the Baltimore Orioles.

There will not be another team winning their 1st Pennant until September 23, 1957, when the Milwaukee Braves do it -- or, if you don't count moved teams, until October 6, 1969, when the Mets pull off their "Miracle."

All the 1944 Browns are dead now. The last survivor was 2nd baseman Don Gutteridge -- who, ironically, started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He lived until 2008, age 96. There are now 22 surviving men who had ever played for the St. Louis Browns:

Chuck Stevens, 1st base, 1941-48 (but away in the War in '44); Tom Jordan, catcher, 1 game in 1948; Ned Garver, pitcher, 1948-52; George Elder, left field, 1949; Al Naples, shortstop, 2 games in 1949; Dick Starr (no, not a porno actor), pitcher, 1949-51; Roy Sievers, center field, 1949-53; Ed Mickelson, 1st base, 5 games in 1950; Don Johnson (no, not the "Miami Vice" actor), pitcher, 1950-51; Bud Thomas, shortstop, 1951; Frank Saucier, outfield, 18 games in 1951 and so lightly regarded that he was the player that Eddie Gaedel pinch-hit for; Billy DeMars, shortstop, 1951-52 (better known as a big-league coach); Joe DeMaestri, infield, 1952; Jim Rivera, outfield, 1952 (later the right fielder on the 1959 "Go-Go White Sox"); Tom Wright, left field, 1952; Jay Porter, catcher, 1952; Hal Hudson, pitcher, 3 games in 1952; Johnny Hetki, pitcher, 3 games in 1952; Johnny Groth, center field, 1953; Billy Hunter, shortstop, 1953; Neil Berry, infield, 1953; and Don Larsen, pitcher, 1953.

Starr and Johnson had previously been Yankees; DeMaestri, Hunter, and of course Larsen would become Yankees.


October 1, 1946: For the 1st time in major league history, a playoff series to determine a League's Pennant is played, between the St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals took the 1st game, 4-2, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, as Howie Pollet holds the Dodgers to 2 hits, a homer and an RBI-single by Howie Schultz.

October 1, 1949: Joe DiMaggio Day at Yankee Stadium. The Yankee Clipper wasn't retiring, but he'd had an inspirational season, and, with Joe's family in the stands because the Red Sox were in town, including Joe's brother, Boston center fielder Dominic, they chose this day to honor him. "I'd like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee," Joe says.

The Yankees need to win this game to make the next day, the last game of the season, the title decider. The Red Sox take a 4-0 lead, but the Yankees come back, and Johnny Lindell hits a home run in the 8th inning, to give the Yankees the 5-4 win.

October 1, 1950: Dick Sisler hits a home run in the top of the 10th inning at Ebbets Field, and the Phillies beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-1, to clinch the National League Pennant. It is the only Pennant the Phils would win in a 65-year stretch from 1915 to 1980.
Still alive from this game, 64 years later: For the Phillies, 2 reserves, Ralph “Putsy” Caballero, and Jackie Mayo, who was a defensive replacement for Sisler in the bottom of the 10th; for the Dodgers, Don Newcombe (who gave up Sisler’s homer) and Tommy “Buckshot” Brown. George "Shotgun" Shuba, on the Dodger roster but not getting into this game, died over this past weekend.
This is the last major league game as a manager for Burt Shotton of the Dodgers. Also today, the Philadelphia Athletics complete a massively disappointing 102-loss season by beating the Washington Senators, 5-3 at Shibe Park.
It is the last game for manager Connie Mack: Approaching his 88th birthday, his sons Earle, Roy and Connie Jr. gang up on him and force him to finally retire as manager — something he, as also the owner, did not want to do.  Before the A’s move to Kansas City, the Phillies, new owners of the ballpark, will rename it Connie Mack Stadium, and will erect a statue of him outside.
Shotton and Mack were the last managers to wear street clothes. Although no edict specifically mandates a skipper must wear a uniform, there is now a rule that states that a person not wearing a uniform, except medical personnel, isn’t allowed on the field of play during a game.

There are 23 former Philadelphia Athletics still alive, including 9 who played for Mack: Carl Miles, pitcher, 2 games in 1940; Fred Caligiuri, pitcher, 1941-42; Larry Eschen, shortstop, 12 games in 1942; George Yankowski, catcher, 6 games in 1942 plus another brief callup with the 1949 Chicago White Sox; Carl Scheib, pitcher, 1943-47; Bill Mills, catcher, 5 games in 1944; Dick Adams, 1st base, 1947; Billy DeMars, infield, 18 games in 1948; Bobby Shantz, pitcher, 1949-54 (1952 AL Most Valuable Player, later a Yankee).

Living players from the A's in their post-Mack Philadelphia seasons: Ed Samcoff, 1st base, 4 games in 1951; Len Matarazzo, pitcher, 1 game in 1952; Everett "Skeeter" Kell, 2nd base, 1952 (brother of the late Hall-of-Famer George Kell, who started on the A's); Eddie Robinson, 1st base, 1953 (an All-Star that year, later a Yankee); Neal Watlington, catcher, 1953; Tommy Giordano, 2nd base, 11 games in 1953; Bill Harrington, pitcher, 1 game in 1953 (called back up for the A's in Kansas City in '55 and '56); Joe DeMaestri, infield, 1953-54 (later a Yankee); Bill Wilson, center field, 1954; Jim Robertson, catcher, 1954 (plus a brief callup for the A's the next year in K.C.); Art Ditmar, pitcher, 1954 (stayed a few years with them in K.C., traded to the Yankees, ended back in K.C.); Ozzie Van Brabant, pitcher, 9 games in 1954 (plus 2 more for in K.C. in '55); Bill Oster, pitcher, 8 games in 1954; and Hal Raether, pitcher, 1 game in 1954 (plus 1 more with K.C. in '57).
Miles, 96, is the oldest; Oster, 81, is the youngest. DeMars and DeMaestri are also 2 of the surviving Browns.
October 1, 1961: Roger Maris makes it 61 in ’61.  He hits the record-breaking home run off Tracy Stallard.
Still alive from this game, 53 years later: For the Yankees, Yogi Berra, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Hector Lopez, Jack Reed and Luis Arroyo. Whitey Ford and and Ralph Terry are still alive, but did not play in this game. For the Red Sox: Stallard, Chuck Schilling (no relation to Curt), Frank Malzone (a Bronx native), Don Gile, Russ Nixon, and rookie left fielder Carl Yastrzemski.
Also on this day, after providing a venue for the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels from 1925 through 1957 and the major league expansion team with the same name this season, the West Coast version of Wrigley Field hosts its last professional baseball game. The Halos are defeated by the Tribe 8-5 in front of 9,868 fans. Wrigley West will be torn down in five years to make room for an eventual public playground and senior center.
October 1, 1964, 40 years ago: The Red Sox beat the Indians, 4-2, in front of only 306 fans, the smallest in Fenway Park history.
October 1, 1967: A much happier day at Fenway. Carl Yastrzemski gets 4 hits, including a game-tying single in the bottom of the 6th, and cements the Triple Crown — a feat that will not be achieved for another 45 years. Jim Lonborg pitches a complete game, and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, to eliminate the Twins from the AL race on the final day of a season with a rare 4-team race. The White Sox had been eliminated 2 days earlier.
But the Pennant is not yet clinched. If the Detroit Tigers can sweep a doubleheader with the California Angels, they would forge a tie with the Red Sox-Twins winner, and force a 1-game Playoff the next day.
In those pre-Internet days, CBS managed to link up their Detroit station, WWJ, and their Boston station, WHDH (850, once again the Sox station but with call letters WEEI), so that people in the Boston area could listen the the nightcap in Detroit. The Angels won, and the Sox had their 1st Pennant in 21 years, only their 2nd in 49 years — a Pennant whose theme song was the Broadway hit “The Impossible Dream.”

Still alive from this game, 47 years later: From the Sox: Yaz, Lonborg, 2nd baseman Mike Andrews, shortstop Rico Petrocelli, 3rd baseman Dalton Jones, center fielder Reggie Smith, right fielder Ken Harrelson, right fielder Jose Tartabull (Danny's father pinch-ran for the Hawk and took his place in the field), and pinch-hitter Norm Siebern (a former Yankee); from the Twins, 2nd baseman Rod Carew (that season's AL Rookie of the Year), right fielder Tony Oliva, replacement shortstop Jackie Hernandez, replacement left fielder Rich Rollins, replacement catcher Russ Nixon (who played for Boston in the Maris 61 game), pinch-hitter and usual starting 3rd baseman Rich Rollins, pinch-hitter Frank Kostro (usually an infielder), and pitchers Dean Chance, Al Worthington and Jim "Mudcat" Grant.
Sox 1st baseman George Scott, 2nd baseman Jerry Adair (whom Andrews replaced late in the game), and catchers Russ Gibson and Elston Howard (the Yankee Legend, playing out the string, took over late in the game for Gibson) have died. So has Tony Conigliaro, the slugging local-boy right fielder who, of course, missed the last quarter of the season after being beaned. Twins 1st baseman Harmon Killebrew, starting shortstop Zoilo Versalles, 3rd baseman Cesar Tovar, starting left fielder Bob Allison, center fielder Ted Uhlaender, starting catcher Jerry Zimmerman and relief pitcher Jim Roland have died.
October 1, 1970: Twenty years to the day after the greatest day in Phillies history thus far (and it would remain such for another 10 years), perhaps the darkest day in Phillies history takes place — and this was in a win.
The Phils play the final game at Connie Mack Stadium, formerly Shibe Park, and the irony of playing the Montreal Expos, a team that only began in 1969, at a stadium the opened in 1909 is felt.
The game goes to 10 innings, and Oscar Gamble singles home Tim McCarver with the winning run, as the Phils win, 2-1.  Before McCarver can cross the plate, fans are already storming the field, and they tear the stadium apart.
The next year, Veterans Stadium opened, and a fire gutted what remained of the old park.  It was finally torn down in 1976.
October 1, 1973: Only 1,913 fans come out to Wrigley Field, under threat of rain with the Cubs far out of the race, to see a doubleheader that had to be made up due to an earlier rainout. The Mets beat the Cubs in the opener, 6-4, and win the National League East, their 2nd 1st-place finish.
The Division Title that no one seemed to want to win has been won with an 82-79 record — still the worst 1st place finish ever in a season of at least 115 games. When the rain comes after the opener, the umpires call off the now completely meaningless 2nd game.
The Mets were 52-63 on August 14, but won 30 out of 44 down the stretch, including 18 of their last 22.

Back in New York, the day after the last game at the pre-renovation original Yankee Stadium -- an 8-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers, with Yankee manager Ralph Houk resigning -- the renovation of The Stadium begins, with Mayor John Lindsay, who had brokered the deal to get it done and keep the Yankees in The City, gets into a bulldozer, and ceremonially scoops out a piece of right field.

Claire Ruth was given home plate. Eleanor Gehrig was given 1st base. Some time later, Joe DiMaggio, in town to film commercials for the Bowery Savings Bank, would pose for a few pictures amid the renovation work. They should have given him a small section of center field sod. Mickey Mantle? The whirpool, since his injuries caused him to spend so much time in it.
October 1, 1974, 40 years ago today: Needing to win both of their last 2 games of the regular season against the Milwaukee Brewers, and for the Orioles to lose at least 1 of their last 2 games against the Tigers -- or to split their own and hope the O's lost both -- the Yankees go into County Stadium without their marquee player, Bobby Murcer, who had injured his hand breaking up a fight between Rick Dempsey and Bill Sudakis.

Despite a strong pitching performance by George "Doc" Medich, and 2 hits each by Roy White, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss and Sandy Alomar Sr., it was not to be. Medich, still pitching in the bottom of the 10th, allows a leadoff double to Jack Lind. John Vuckovich sacrifices him over to 3rd. Don Money is walked intentionally to set up the double play, and then Medich unintentionally walks Sixto Lezcano. George "Boomer" Scott, in between tours of duty with the Red Sox, singles Lind home, and the Brewers win, 3-2.

The Orioles beat the Tigers 7-6 in Detroit, and wrap up the AL East title with a game to spare. This was the 1st time the Yankees had gotten close to the postseason in 10 years, but it was not to be.

On this same day, at the Astrodome, Mike Marshall establishes the major league mark for the most appearances by a pitcher when he throws two innings in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over Houston.
With his 106 appearances, the right-handed reliever appears in 65 percent of the games that his team played this season. He goes 15-12, with a 2.42 ERA and 21 saves (actually 10 less than he had the year before), and becomes the 1st reliever in either League to receive the Cy Young Award.

In 1979, pitching for the Twins, Marshall would appear in 90 games, giving him the record for most games pitched in a season in each League.

October 1, 1978: A Yankee win or a Red Sox loss would give the Yankees the AL East title for the 3rd straight season. But the Yankees get beat 9-2 at home by the Cleveland Indians. The winning pitcher is Rick Waits, feeding into a myth that grew out of the fits the Kansas City Royals game the Yankees in the 1976 and '77 ALCS: "The Yankees can't beat lefthanded pitchers."

At Fenway, the auxiliary scoreboard over the center-field bleacher triangle shows the score, and adds, "THANK YOU RICK WAITS." The Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 on a Luis Tiant shutout, and, as Red Sox broadcaster Dick Stockton says, "We go to tomorrow! We got to tomorrow!"

It didn't seem possible in June, July and August that the Yankees would still be eligible to play a 163rd game. It didn't seem possible for the last 3 weeks that the Red Sox would still be. Now, after the Sox blew a 14-game gap over the Yankees on July 20, and the Yankees blew a 3 1/2-game gap over the Sox on September 16, they will play a 163rd game against each other at Fenway.

Also on this day, pitching for the San Diego Padres, Gaylord Perry strikes out Joe Simpson of the Dodgers for his 3,000th career strikeout. He is the 3rd pitcher to reach the milestone, following Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson. He wins the NL Cy Young Award. Having won it with the Indians in 1972, he becomes the 1st pitcher to win it in each League.

October 1, 1984, 30 years ago today: Bowie Kuhn, the biggest knucklehead ever to be Commissioner of Baseball, officially hands the job over to Peter Ueberroth, famed for his production of the recent Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Kuhn may have been a lawyer, but he sure didn't seem smart enough to get into law school. In contrast, while I didn't always agree with Ueberroth, he was far more sensible. One of the 1st big things he does is reinstate Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, whom Kuhn had suspended from official activities indefinitely because they were working for casinos in Atlantic City -- even though they were specifically kept off the gambling floors by management.

Also on this day, Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston dies from heart trouble in Oxford, Ohio. He was 72. He had managed the Dodgers to 7 Pennants and 3 World Championships, including their only Brooklyn title in 1955. The Dodgers retired his Number 24.

Also on this day, Matthew Thomas Cain is born in Dothan, Alabama. A 3-time All-Star, he's won 2 World Series with the Giants, and pitched a perfect game against the Astros on June 13, 2012, the 1st one ever pitched in the long, bicoastal history of the Giant franchise.

October 1, 2004, 10 years ago today: Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners grounds a single up the middle, and collects his 258th hit of the season.  The record had belonged to George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns since 1920 — 84 years.

If there was anyone left who still doubted whether Ichiro was a bona fide Hall-of-Famer in the making (and I was a doubter), they now believe it.

October 1, 2006: After leading the AL Central by 10 games on August 7, the Detroit Tigers lose 31 of their last 50, including their last 5 in a row, the last being the blowing of a 6-0 lead over a terrible Kansas City Royals team to lose 10-8 in 12 innings. The Tigers thus blow the Division Title to the Twins, one of the great choke jobs of recent times.

They do get the Wild Card, however, and shock the Yankees in the Division Series, while the Twins get surprised by the A’s, and then the Tigers sweep the A’s to win the Pennant anyway. Never has a team looked so bad down the stretch and still managed to reach the World Series — not even the 1949 or 2000 Yankees.

The 2006 season is also the first one ever, except for the strike-shortened seasons of 1981, ’94 and '95, in which there were no 20-game-winning pitchers in either League. Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees and Johan Santana of the Twins each win 19, while no National League hurler wins more than 16 — 6 of them win that many.

The Twins have another honor (that does them little good after their ALDS loss), as Twin Cities native Joe Mauer becomes the 1st catcher to win an AL batting title, and the 1st catcher to lead both leagues in batting average, with .347, ahead of NL batting champion Freddie Sanchez of the Pittsburgh Pirates with .344.

October 1, 2007: Needing a Playoff for the Playoffs, the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the 13th inning, 9-8. Jamey Carroll hits a sacrifice fly, and Matt Holliday scores on a disputed play at the plate.

The Padres have not reached the Playoffs since, and this play burns their fans up. The Rockies closed the regular season (and this game counts as such, as it’s officially not a postseason game) winning 14 of their last 15.

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