Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 5, 1889: New York Beats Out Boston for the Pennant -- in the National League

October 5, 1889, 125 years ago: New York wins the pennant on the final day of the season, by beating the Cleveland Spiders 5-3, while Boston loses in Pittsburgh 6-1.

Yet another New York edges out Boston in baseball story.

Except this might be the first time it happened in sports, the League is the National, the New York team is the Giants, and the Boston team is the Beaneaters, who would later be renamed the Braves.

The manager is Jim Mutrie, who gave the former New York Gothams their name: Pleased about a victory in 1885, "Smilin' Jeems" called his players "my big boys, my giants."

Ironically, the man also known as "Truthful Jim" was a native of Boston (well, Chelsea, Massachusetts, anyway). Born in 1851 and raised playing cricket, he switched to baseball, played in the minors, made some smart business deals, founded the New York Metropolitans of the American Association (the "original New York Mets," if you prefer), and in 1883 bought the Troy Trojans, and moved them out of the Albany area to Manhattan.

Under the rules of the time, he was allowed to own both teams. He even built a complex of 2 baseball fields, facing each other, one for the Giants, the other for the Metropolitans, on a polo field owned by newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett. It became known as the Polo Grounds, and stood between 110th and 112th Streets, and 5th and 6th Avenues. The Giants had to move because the City decided it had to extend 111th Street through it, leading to the construction of the more familiar Polo Grounds complex at 155th Street and 8th Avenue at the other end of Harlem.

He managed the Mets to the 1884 AA Pennant, then switched to managing the Giants. He won back-to-back Pennants in 1888 and 1889, got fed up with baseball after the 1890 Players League revolt, and opened a hotel in Elmira, New York, living until 1938.

With such a big legacy, why is Mutrie not in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

His "big boys," his Giants, included 6 men who are: Pitchers Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch, catcher Buck Ewing, 1st baseman Roger Connor (baseball's all-time home run leader before Babe Ruth), outfielder "Orator Jim" O'Rourke and all-purpose man (but mainly shortstop) John Montgomery "Monte" Ward. Ironically, they also included pitcher Hank O'Day, who would be elected to the Hall as an umpire -- but is best known as the ump who ruled Fred Merkle out at 2nd base to cost the Giants a key 1908 game and, eventually, the Pennant.

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Today is also the anniversary of the Mickey Owen Game. While the men who played it, and more than a scant few of the fans who saw it live, were still alive, it was a huge story in baseball history, even though -- or maybe especially -- because both teams were from New York City.

October 5, 1941: Game 4 of the World Series at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. It made the home fans shudder. I read an interview once, with a Dodger fan, whose name I’ve forgotten, citing a far more important, and more traumatic, event that happened just 2 months later: “I was there. I remember that like I remember Pearl Harbor.”
Arnold Malcolm Owen was a 4-time National League All-Star as catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, was elected a County Sheriff, and ran the Mickey Owen Baseball School, and for the last 64 years of his life was decent enough to field questions about the one part of his life that everyone seems to remember.
The Yankees led the Dodgers 2 games to 1, but trailed the Dodgers 4-3 in the top of the 9th. There were 2 out. Reliever Hugh Casey was on the mound for the Dodgers, and Tommy Henrich came to bat for the Yankees. Casey got 2 strikes. Then he threw…

He said it was a curveball. Henrich also thought it was a curveball. But many observers, including the Yankees’ rookie shortstop, Phil Rizzuto, thought it was a spitball.

Henrich swung and missed. Strike 3. Ballgame over. Dodgers win, and the World Series is tied at 2 games apiece.

Except… Owen didn’t catch the 3rd strike! The ball tailed away from him, and he couldn’t hold onto it. It rolled all the way to the screen. Henrich saw this, and ran to 1st, and Owen didn’t even time to throw.

It is the most famous passed ball in baseball history, but if it was a spitball, which was and remains an illegal pitch anyway, then it should be the most famous wild pitch, and Casey rather than Owen should be faulted.

No matter. Casey only needed to get one more out. Even if Henrich represented the tying run and the next batter represented the winning run. Just one more out.

The batter was Joe DiMaggio. Uh-oh, you don’t give the Yankee Clipper a written invitation to keep a game alive. Especially not in 1941, when he had his 56-game hitting streak and had become the most celebrated athlete in America, ahead of Ted Williams and his .406 average, ahead of football stars Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman and Don Hutson, ahead of even heavyweight champion Joe Louis.

DiMaggio singled to left. Now the tying run was on 2nd, the potential winning run on 1st. But there were still 2 outs. If Casey could get the next batter, the game would still end, however precariously, with a Dodger victory.

The batter was Charlie Keller. At this point in his career, before a back injury curtailed it, he looked like he was headed to the Hall of Fame. And he did nothing to dispel that in this at-bat: He rocketed a Casey delivery off the right-field wall, and Henrich and DiMaggio scored.

Keller would later say, “When I got to 2nd base, you could have heard a pin drop in Ebbets Field.” The noisiest, most raucous ballpark of his time had been stunned into silence.

The Yankees scored 2 more runs in the inning, won 7-4, and won the World Series in the next day’s Game 5.

Keller would also say that, having won their first Pennant in 21 years, and having gotten past the arch-rival New York Giants to do it — the Giants’ last Pennant had been 4 years earlier and their last World Series win 8 — Dodger fans were talking about “taking over New York,” that they were now more popular than the Giants (probably true), and that soon they would beat the Yankees and were already more popular.

Sound familiar? It was just as stupid then as it has been in recent years when coming from Met fans, the children and grandchildren of the Dodger and Giant fans of the Forties and Fifties.

But don’t blame Owen for losing the ’41 Series:

* It was Dodger manager Leo Durocher who messed up the pitching rotation that had won the Pennant — he admitted it, a rare occasion when Leo the Lip didn’t blame someone else, such as an umpire or a dirty player on the other team, and didn’t try to claim credit solely for himself.

* It was Yankee pitcher Marius Russo who, the day before, had not only pitched brilliantly but hit a line drive off the knee of his opposite number, Giant pitcher and Dodger nemesis turned Dodger hero Fred Fitzsimmons, literally knocking him out of the game and the Series.

* It was Henrich who was alert enough to realize he could take 1st, and it was DiMaggio and Keller who followed it up with key hits.

* And, frankly, it was the Yankees. They were just the better team. Certainly, with many of the men on that ’41 team having played on World Championship teams of ’39, ’38, some ’37 and ’36, a few even in ’32, they were much more experienced. The Dodgers had finished 2nd in ’40 and 3rd in ’39, but before that the team hadn’t been in a Pennant race since ’24 or a World Series since ’20. Only Durocher, Joe Medwick (both ’34 Cardinals), Fitzsimmons (’33 and ’36 Giants), Billy Herman (’32, ’35 and ’38 Cubs), Johnny Allen (’32 Yankees) and a washed-up Paul Waner (’27 Pirates) had appeared in a World Series before.

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Despite America’s entry into World War II, Owen never went into the service. I wonder if some Dodger fans said, “Mickey Owen is such a bum, even the Army don’t want him!”

I wonder if a lot of the accolades that would later come the way of Roy Campanella were due to “Mickey Owen’s Muff.” That Campy might have been cheered not just for what he was, a fantastic player and a good guy, but for what he wasn’t: Owen.

It’s not fair to Owen. He was widely respected prior to the ’41 Series, and most Dodger fans didn’t go on to hate him. Certainly, he escaped the scorn that was heaped on Ralph Branca after 1951. And neither one of them got the kind of treatment that Bill Buckner got from Boston fans after 1986.
Which is a good thing. Nobody deserves that. Well, maybe not nobody… But certainly not Buckner, nor Branca, nor Owen.

Owen died on July 13, 2005, in his home town of Mount Vernon, Missouri. He was 89. Henrich died on December 1, 2009, as the last survivor of this game. He was also the last surviving person who had been a teammate of Lou Gehrig. Herman Franks, who later helped steal a Pennant from the Dodgers as a 1951 New York Giant, had died earlier in 2009 as the last surviving ’41 Dodger.

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October 5, 1888: James “Pud” Galvin of the Pittsburgh Pirates defeats the Washington Nationals (not the current team by that name), 5-1, at the Swampoodle Grounds in Washington. Union Station and the National Postal Museum would later be built on the site, just north of Capitol Hill, as the neighborhood known as Swampoodle is no more.

Galvin thus becomes the first pitcher to win 300 games in a career. His career win total eventually reached 364, including 2 no-hitters, although it should be pointed out that he retired after the 1892 season, a year before the pitching distance became standardized as 60 feet, 6 inches.
As for his potentially giggle-inducing nickname, it was said that Jim Galvin “made the hitters look like pudding.”

October 5, 1906: With the season ending, the Giants give Henry Matheson, Christy's brother, a starting chance against Boston. He promptly puts his name in the record books -- but not in a good way: He establishes a modern NL record by walking 14 Beaneaters. He also hits a batter. He goes the distance, and allows just 5 hits‚ but the Braves-to-be win 7-1.

Henry will pitch another inning next year‚ but this is his only major league decision. For many years, Christy and Henry held the record for most combined pitching wins by brothers: 373 -- Christy 373, Henry 0. The record is now held by the Niekros: Phil won 318, and Joe won 221, for a total of 539.

I was watching a Met game against the San Diego Padres on WOR (now WWOR)-Channel 9 when Gaylord Perry was pitching for them, and, along with his by-then-retired brother Jim, he had broken the Mathewson's record: Gaylord would eventually win 314, Jim 215, total 529. And Bob Murphy asked the trivia question of whose record the Perrys broke, and said, "I'll give you a hint: It wasn't Dizzy and Daffy Dean." In careers shortened by injury, Diz won 150 and Daff won only 50, for a total of 200. Most fans aren't even aware that Mathewson had a brother, so this was a great trivia question.

October 5, 1908: The Pennant race in the AL is as tight as the one in the NL, although not nearly as crazy. Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox tops the Detroit Tigers 6-1, for his 40th victory, and extends the race to the final day.

Walsh leads the league in games (66)‚ IP (464)‚ K's (269)‚ complete games (42)‚ saves (6)‚ shutouts (11)‚ and winning percentage (.727). His ERA is 1.42. Those numbers for games, innings and complete games will be untouchable until some sort of rule change kicks in. The 40 wins trail only Jack Chesbro's 41 as the most in AL history, and the 464 innings is the most ever under the 60-feet-6-inches pitching distance.

The St. Louis Browns end the Pennant hopes of the Cleveland Naps (forerunners of the Indians) with a 3-1 win the opener of two. Cleveland takes the 2nd game‚ 5-3‚ to end the season with a 90-64 record. If the Tigers win tomorrow‚ their 90-63 will top Cleveland‚ whereas if the White Sox win‚ their 89-63 record will be 4 points ahead of the Naps. But this is as close as Cleveland 2nd baseman/manager/namesake Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie will ever get to a Pennant.

October 5, 1910: Philadelphia Athletics manager/co-owner Connie Mack inserts his son Earle Mack behind the plate in a game against the New York Highlanders (forerunners of the Yankees). This is the 1st time a manager has put his son in a game as a player.

Earle‚ who hit .135 in 26 minor league games this year‚ belies that stat with a single and triple while catching Eddie Plank and Jack Coombs. The Highlanders beat the A’s 7-4, but it was hardly Earle’s fault.

Earle will mop up in late-season games next year and again in 1914‚ and serve for 25 years as his father’s coach, before moving into the front office. His brother Connie Jr. would also play for the A’s.
In 1950, Earle, Connie Jr. and their other brother Roy would finally maneuver their 88-year-old father out of the day-to-day operations of the club. No manager would again put his son into a game until 1985, when Yogi Berra played his son Dale with the Yankees. Cal Ripken Sr. would also manage Cal Jr.

October 5, 1911: The National Commission, then the governing body for baseball, sells motion picture rights to the World Series for $3‚500. When the players demand a share of it‚ the Commission cancels the deal. Yes, baseball team owners -- for it was they who controlled the Commission, like they now control the Commissioner -- were that petty.

October 5, 1912: The Highlanders play their last game under that name before officially changing their name to the Yankees, which pretty much everybody is calling them by now anyway. It is also their last game at their original home, Hilltop Park, at 165th Street and Broadway in Washington Heights, Manhattan. (The Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center is on the site now.) Their 10-year lease has run out, and they will soon sign a 10-year lease as tenants of the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

The Yankees are playing the same team against whom they played their 1st game and their 1st home game, in 1903: The Washington Senators. The Yankees win, 8-6, breaking a 10-game losing streak. They still finish last: At 50-102, their .329 winning percentage remains the lowest in club history. Hal Chase and Jack Lelivelt hit home runs. Homer Thompson, in his only major league appearance, is a defensive replacement as catcher (and, like Archie "Moonlight" Graham of the Giants 7 years earlier, doesn't get to bat). His brother Tommy Thompson is the last New York pitcher. This makes them the 1st battery of brothers in AL history.

October 5, 1918: Captain Edward Leslie Grant, U.S. Army, becomes the 1st Major League Baseball player to be killed during military service. The former Giants 3rd baseman is hit by a shell while leading the 307th Infantry to rescue the Lost Battalion, the name given to a contingent of roughly 554 soldiers of the United States 77th Division isolated by the German forces after an American attack in the Argonne Forest of France in World War I. Eddie was 35, and was buried in a military cemetery nearby in Lorraine. Although 197 men in the Lost Battalion were killed, and another 150 missing and never recovered, 194 were soon rescued.

On Memorial Day, May 29, 1921, representatives from the armed forces, baseball, and Grant's sisters of Grant unveiled a monument to him at the Polo Grounds -- on the field in center field. This was the 1st time something like this had been done in baseball, and preceded the Miller Huggins Monument, the beginning of what became the Yankees' Monument Park, by 11 years.

The monument would later be joined on the wall of the center field clubhouse by plaques in memory of Giants legends John McGraw, Christy Mathewson and Ross Youngs; football Giants Al Blozis and Jack Lummus, both of whom were killed in World War II; and Jimmy Walker, New York's raffish, corrupt 1920s Mayor who was a big sports fan and a Giants supporter.

After the baseball Giants' last game there in 1957, the plaque was pried from the monument; when the Mets debuted at the Polo Grounds in 1962, the marble slab was still in center field, but the plaque was long gone. Despite a recent claim by a former New York cop that he had it in his house in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, the real thing has never been found. The Giants, who hadn't won a World Series since moving to San Francisco, dedicated a replacement plaque at AT&T Park in 2006. They have since won 2 World Series and are in a decent position to win a 3rd, thus ending what some called "The Curse of Captain Eddie." As for the whereabouts of the other 6 Polo Grounds plaques, your guess is as good as mine.

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October 5, 1921: The Yankees play their 1st World Series game, the first one-city Series since 1906 in Chicago. Babe Ruth drives in the 1st run, Mike McNally steals home plate, and Carl Mays pitches a 5-hit shutout (4 of them by Frankie Frisch) as the Yankees beat the Giants 3-0.

It is the 1st World Series game broadcast on radio -- oddly, by a Pittsburgh station, KDKA, the 1st true American radio station. And the announcer is a Southerner, Grantland Rice, beginning a tradition of Southern broadcasters in New York that would include, among others, Mel Allen of the Yankees, Red Barber of the Dodgers, and longtime WABC and WCBS-FM disc jockey Ron Lundy.

October 5, 1922: Game 2 of the World Series. The game between the Yankees and Giants  is tied 3-3 after 10 innings, when umpire George Hildebrand calls the game due to darkness. Both teams protest, saying they can see just fine; indeed, sunset was not for another hour. A crowd of 36,514, about equally divided between the teams, is furious, and it takes a police escort to get Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis out of the park and away from the unruly mob.

That night, Judge Landis (not a nickname, he had actually been a federal Judge), in one of the few compromises he will ever make, bends over backwards to negate the public's opinion that the game might have been called to provide an extra day's gate, by donating the $120‚554 receipts to charities. Half will go to New York charities‚ and half to disabled soldiers.

October 5, 1928: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees gain a measure of revenge on Grover Cleveland Alexander and the St. Louis Cardinals for their dramatic Game 7 win 2 years earlier. In the 1st inning, Lou Gehrig hits a 3-run homer, and ends up with 6 RBIs. The Cards tie the game in the 2nd‚ but George Pipgras shuts them out on 2 hits the rest of the way. Alexander is nicked for one in the 2nd and is driven to cover by a 4-run outburst in the 3rd. The Yankees win 9-3.

October 5, 1931: Game 3 of the World Series. Burleigh Grimes of the Cardinals, the last remaining pitcher who was permitted to throw a spitball, has a no-hitter over the Philadelphia Athletics until the 8th inning, and ends up winning 5-2.

October 5, 1936: The Brooklyn Dodgers fire their manager, Casey Stengel. Grimes, who had pitched for the Dodgers and was Casey's pitching coach, is named to replace him. He will be no better, and will be replaced after 2 years by shortstop Leo Durocher. Grimes would never manage again. Stengel would.

October 5, 1938: Game 1 of the World Series. Bill Dickey ties a Series record with 4 hits, and the Yankees beat the Cubs 3-1 at Wrigley Field.

October 5, 1939: Game 2 of the World Series. Monte Pearson of the Yankees is 5 outs away from a no-hitter when Ernie Lombardi singles for the Cincinnati Reds. Pearson wins 4-0, thanks to a home run and a double by Babe Dahlgren, the 1st baseman who replaced Lou Gehrig. This turns out to be the last time Gehrig, still officially the Yankee Captain, suited up. It may have been the last time he entered Yankee Stadium.

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October 5, 1940: Game 4 of the World Series. Paul Derringer, who had lost 4 Series games for the Cardinals in 1931 and the Reds in 1939 and in Game 1 this time, finally wins one, 5-2 over the Tigers.

October 5, 1942: Game 5 of the World Series. The Cardinals win the Series, as 3rd baseman Whitey Kurowski hits a tiebreaking home run off Red Ruffing in the 9th inning, 4-2. The Cards had taken the last 3 games at Yankee Stadium after splitting the first 2 in St. Louis.

This is the only World Series the Yankees will lose between 1926 and 1955. It beings a 5-season stretch in which the Cards win 4 Pennants and 3 World Championships. The year they will miss the World Series will be 1945 — the first full season since his arrival that Stan Musial was not in Cardinal red. (He was in Navy blue instead.)

October 5, 1945: Game 3 of the World Series. Claude Passeau of the Cubs allows a single in the 2nd to Rudy York of the Tigers, but that's the only hit he allows. The Cubs beat the Tigers 3-0.

October 5, 1947: Game 6 of the World Series. The Yankees trail the Dodgers 8-5 in the bottom of the 6th, but have 2 men on. DiMaggio rips the ball deep to left-center field, but, in Yankee Stadium, that's "Death Valley." Al Gionfriddo makes a leaping catch near the bullpen gate. The Yankees can close to within 8-6, but that was it. Game 7 is tomorrow.

Gionfriddo becomes a hero, but, like Game 4 heroes Bill Bevens and Cookie Lavagetto, never plays another major league game. He played in the minors until 1953, managed in the minors until 1959, and died in 2003.
October 5, 1949: Game 1 of the World Series. Allie Reynolds of the Yankees and Don Newcombe of the Dodgers pitch a scoreless game, taking it to the bottom of the 9th.

Tommy Henrich leads that inning off for the Yankees, and shows why Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen nicknamed him “Old Reliable.” Or maybe he just liked hitting against the Dodgers. Or maybe he liked October 5 – it was, after all, the 8th anniversary of his benefit of Mickey Owen’s Muff. Henrich hits a home run into the right-field stands, and the Yankees win, 1-0.

That was pretty much the Series: Despite putting together one of the best teams in franchise history, the Dodgers couldn’t beat the Yankees, winning only Game 2 on a shutout by Preacher Roe. Henrich’s shot is the first game-ending home run in the history of postseason baseball, the first October “walkoff.”

Newcombe is the only Dodger still alive who played in this game, 65 years later. Yogi Berra is the only surviving Yankee.

On this same day, George William James is born in Holton, Kansas. He would later be known as the author of the Bill James Baseball Abstract, beginning the serious study of baseball statistics. Later still, he would join the front office of the Boston Red Sox, where he would become a cheater by association.

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October 5, 1950: Game 2 of the World Series. An exhausted Robin Roberts somehow manages to hold the Yankees to a 1-1 tie for the Phillies, into the top of the 10th inning. But DiMaggio hits a home run into the left-field stands at Shibe Park, and the Yankees win, 2-1.

The first 3 games of this Series are all close, so the Phillies did have their chances. And it should be noted that their 2nd-best pitcher, behind the future Hall-of-Famer Roberts, was Curt Simmons, and he had been drafted to serve in the Korean War. But the Yankees would sweep the Series.

Still alive from this game, 64 years later: Berra or the Yankees; for the Phillies, 2 reserves, Ralph “Putsy” Caballero, and Jackie Mayo. Whitey Ford would start and win Game 4, and is still alive, but did not appear in Game 2.

October 5, 1951: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yanks and Eddie Lopat even up the Series against the Giants by winning 3-1 over Larry Jansen. But the big story comes in the top of the 5th.

The Giants' big rookie, Willie Mays, hits a fly ball to right-center. The Yankees' big rookie, Mickey Mantle, already a big story and not yet 20 years old for another 15 days (Mays had turned 20 in May), sees DiMaggio calling for it, and stops short. But Mantle steps in a water sprinkler that had been mistakenly left open, catching his spikes and tearing his right knee.

With today's sports medicine, Mickey would have been operated on the next day, and would have been ready for Opening Day the next April. But they didn't know how to treat a torn-up knee in the Truman years, and the surgery he got is hardly good enough, and it never really heals right. This is why people say, "We never got to see Mickey Mantle on 2 good legs."

October 5, 1953: Game 6 of the World Series. Billy Martin singles up the middle in the bottom of the 9th, his record-tying 12th hit of the Series, driving in Hank Bauer with the winning run.
It is the Yankees’ 16th World Championship, and their 5th in a row.

Since then, 3 in a row has been done, but not 4, and certainly not 5. The Montreal Canadiens would soon start a streak of 5 straight Stanley Cups, but they were unable to make it 6. The Boston Celtics would later win 8 straight NBA Titles, but basketball didn’t exactly get the best athletes then.

This was the last World Series, and the last Pennant in either League, won by an all-white team. The next season, the Yanks would lose the Pennant to the well-integrated Indians, and the argument of, “Why integrate? We’re winning with what we’ve got” goes by the boards. Elston Howard becomes the 1st black man to play for the Yankees the following April, and the team wins 9 Pennants and 4 World Series in the next 10 years.

Still alive from this game, 61 years later: Yankees Berra and Ford, and Dodgers Carl Erskine and Bobby Morgan. (Newcombe was in the Army for the Korean War in 1952 and ’53, as Ford was in ’51 and ’52.)

October 5, 1957: The 1st World Series game in the State of Wisconsin is played. The Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves 12-3 at Milwaukee County Stadium in Game 3.

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October 5, 1966: In the 1st World Series game in Baltimore Orioles history, Polish-born reliever Moe Drabowsky has to bail out Dave McNally, and sets a Series record with 11 strikeouts in relief. Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson both hit 1st-inning home runs, and the Orioles beat the Dodgers, 5-2. They would go on to sweep, with McNally redeeming himself by winning the clinching game.

Still alive from this game, 48 years later: Orioles Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, John “Boog” Powell, Luis Aparicio (though better-known as a Chicago White Sock), Russ Snyder, Andy Etchebarren, and future Met manager Davey Johnson; and Dodgers Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Lou Johnson, Jim Lefebvre, Wes Parker, Ron Fairly, Joe Moeller, Jim Barbieri, and Fair Lawn, New Jersey native Ron Perranoski.

Future Hall-of-Fame pitchers Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer, both still alive, did not appear in Game 1, but would oppose each other in Game 2.

October 5, 1967: Game 2 of the World Series. Pitching on 3 days' rest in Fenway Park, Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg pitches a 1-hitter, Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski hits 2 home runs, and the Red Sox beat the Cardinals 5-0.

October 5, 1971: Game 3 of the AL Championship Series. Reggie Jackson of the Oakland Athletics makes his 1st big postseason impact, but hardly his last. He hits 2 home runs, but it's not enough, as the Orioles beat the A's 5-3, and complete a sweep. It is Baltimore's 3rd straight Pennant, and their 4th in the last 6 seasons.

October 5, 1977: Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. Dusty Baker of the Dodgers hits a grand slam. Upon returning to the dugout, he is greeted by fellow outfielder Glenn Burke, who holds his arm above his head, inviting Baker to slap hands. He does. This is believed to be the 1st "high five" in baseball history, and Burke would go to his grave contending that he invented the gesture. The Dodgers beat the Phillies 7-1.

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October 5, 1980: The Dodgers beat the Houston Astros for the 3rd day in a row, to force a 1-game playoff for the NL West title -- also at Dodger Stadium. Ron Cey hits a 2-run HR in the 8th to win the game 4-3. Los Angeles trailed Houston by 3 games with 3 games left in the season‚ and won all 3 by a single run.

October 5, 1982: The New Jersey Devils play their 1st game, a 3-3 tie against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Brendan Byrne Arena. The 1st goal is scored by team Captain Don Lever. Three days later, the Devils will get their 1st win, against, appropriately enough, the New York Rangers.

October 5, 1985: The Yankees went into a season-ending series at Exhibition Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays needing to sweep to win the AL East. A win by the Jays in any of the 3, and the Jays would win it. But after Butch Wynegar’s home run in the 9th inning won the Friday night game, it looked like the Yankees might be a team of destiny.

But it was not to be. Billy Martin, who had done one of his best managing jobs, started Joe Cowley, and he didn’t make it out of the 3rd inning, giving up home runs to Ernie Whitt, Willie Upshaw and Lloyd Moseby. (Upshaw and Moseby were good hitters, so giving up home runs to them was understandable. But Whitt was a good-field-no-hit catcher.) Getting out of the 3rd required Cowley, Bob Shirley and Rich Bordi, while getting out of the 4th required Bordi and Dennis Rasmussen. Neil Allen pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings, but it was too late.

Doyle Alexander, whom the Yankees had let go twice, pitched a complete game, allowing a double to Ken Griffey Sr., and singles to Dave Winfield (RBI), Don Mattingly, Willie Randolph and Don Baylor. No walks. Alexander was 35. Winfield's RBI was his 100th of the season, making him the 1st Yankee to score and drive in 100 runs in the same season since DiMaggio in 1942. But it was the only Yankee run of the game.

The Jays won, 5-1, and clinched their 1st-ever 1st place finish. The Yankees would win the meaningless finale the next day, for their 97th win of the season, but, with the format then in place, would miss the Playoffs —  aside from 1954, when 103 wasn’t enough to overcome Cleveland’s then-AL record of 111, their most wins in any season without making the Playoffs.

I was 15 going on 16, and I thought this was the year.  It wasn’t.  This one hurt.

October 5, 1990: Game 2 of the NLCS. Right fielder Paul O'Neill drives in both Cincinnati runs and throws out a runner at 3rd base, to spark the Reds to a 2-1 win over the Pirates‚ tying the series at one game apiece.

October 5, 1993: Bob Watson replaces Bill Wood as the general manager of the Astros, making the former Houston 1st baseman the 1st black GM in baseball history. Bill Lucas had performed many similar duties for the Braves in the late 1970s, but he never officially held the title.

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October 5, 1996: Game 4 of the AL Division Series. After dropping Game 1 to the Texas Rangers, the Yankees have taken the last 3 straight. Bernie Williams of the Yankees and Juan Gonzalez of the Rangers each hit 5 home runs in the series, tying a postseason record. Bernie hit 2 today, and Juan Gone 1, but the Yankees won, 6-4.

October 5, 1997: Game 4 of the AL Division Series. The Yankees are 5 outs away from going up 2 games to 1 on the Indians, but Mariano Rivera gives up a home run to Sandy Alomar Jr., and the Indians win, 3-2. A deciding Game 5 will be played tomorrow.

October 5, 1999: Game 1 of the ALDS. Just another day at the office for Joe Torre's Yankees. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez pitches a 2-hit shutout. Bernie Williams hits a single, a double and a homer for 6 RBIs. The Yankees beat the Rangers 8-0 at The Stadium.

October 5, 2000: Game 2 of the NLDS: The Mets even their series with the Giants at 1 game apiece by winning a 10-inning thriller‚ 5-4. Jay Payton's single drives home the winning run in the top of the 10th, after J.T. Snow's pinch-hit 3-run HR ties the game in the bottom of the 9th. Edgardo Alfonzo hit a 2-run homer in the top half of the frame. Al Leiter pitches into the 9th, and is relieved by Armando Benitez, who gives up the tying homer‚ but gets the win in relief.

October 5, 2001: At what was then known as Pacific Bell Park (now AT&T Park), Barry Bonds hits his 71st and 72nd home runs of the season, to set a new major league single-season record… which we now know is bogus. The 1st-inning homer, his 71st, is off Dodger pitcher Chan Ho Park. But the Dodgers win the game, 11-10, and, to make matters worse, both clinch the NL West and eliminate the Giants from Playoff eligibility.

Bonds will raise his total to 73*. With teammate Rich Aurilia’s 37 (as far as I know, his are legit), they set a (tainted) NL record for homers by teammates, 110. The real major league record remains 115, by Mickey Mantle (54) and Roger Maris (still the legit record of 61) in 1961.

The Seattle Mariners beat the Rangers 6-2, for their 115th win of the season, setting a new AL record. At age 38, Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest 1st-time 20-game winner in history. (Mike Mussina will break that record.)

The Montreal Expos defeat the Mets‚ 8-6‚ but the Mets' Lenny Harris ties Manny Mota's major league record with his 150th career pinch hit.

October 5, 2002: Game 4 of the AL Division Series. The Angels shock the Yankees with 8 runs in the 5th inning, and go on to a 9-5 victory. The win gives the Anaheim club its 1st postseason series victory in their 42-season history‚ 3 games to 1. They had previously lost the ALCS in 1979, 1982 and 1986, and a Playoff for the AL West in 1995.

Shawn Wooten homers for the Halos, while Jorge Posada adds a round-tripper in vain for the Bronx Bombers. Jarrod Washburn gets the victory for the Angels.

October 5, 2006: Game 2 of the NLCS. Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres, who had recently broken Lee Smith's career record of 478 saves, catches the ceremonial 1st pitch from Smith, who returns to the city (though not the stadium) where he threw his most-remembered pitch, the home run that Steve Garvey hit to win Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS. Jeff Bleeping Weaver and 4 relievers (this was a Tony LaRussa game) combine for a shutout, and the Cardinals beat the Padres, 2-0.

October 5, 2007: Game 2 of the ALDS. The Angels blow a 3-2 lead in the 5th inning, and Manny Ramirez takes a Justin Speier pitch over the Green Monster in the 10th inning, giving the Red Sox a 6-3 win.

October 5, 2011: Game 4 of the NLDS. During the 5th inning at Busch Stadium, a squirrel runs across home plate just as Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt begins to deliver a pitch to Skip Schumaker. Umpire Ángel Hernández calls the pitch a ball, much to the chagrin of the righthander and Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, who believe that "no pitch" should be called due to the distraction caused by the grey rodent, immortalized by the Redbirds fans as the "rally squirrel." NO runs as scored in the inning. The Cardinals win 5-3.

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Fernando Vargas said...
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Uncle Mike said...

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