Monday, October 6, 2014

World Series Weather -- But Not Yet the World Series

"World Series meant you had to wear a sweater. We used to call it World Series Weather."

Billy Crystal said that. He was talking about the days when the World Series would be played in the 1st week of August, back when men were men, and Giants roamed the earth, and said earth was in Upper Manhattan, and the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, and the Yankees won the Pennant nearly every year, and while many people thought that disgusting, nobody found it surprising.

Last night, I had to take out the recycling. I was wearing a T-shirt. Thin, short sleeves.

And it was freezing out there!

For the New York teams, baseball season is over. Football season is well underway. (Yesterday, the Giants beat the Atlanta Falcons, while the Jets made fools of themselves against the San Diego Chargers. In other words, for both teams, the usual.) Hockey season starts this week. Basketball, late in the month.

So it is time to put away the short-sleeved shirts, and breakout the long-sleeved shirts, and the sweaters, and the light jackets.

It's World Series weather -- if you're over the age of 50, and can remember when the Series ended by the middle of October, before the expansion to a 162-game schedule and 3 rounds of postseason play.

Yesterday, in the American League Division Series, the Baltimore Orioles completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, and the Kansas City Royals completed a sweep of the Choking Angels of Anaheim, who had the best record in baseball but lost to the AL's 2nd Wild Card team.

Today will be Game 3 of each National League Division Series: The San Francisco Giants can put away the Washington Nationals, while the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers will look to break a 1-1 deadlock.

My nieces are 7 years old, and I've begun to teach them not just the love of the Yankees, but the specifics. Like who the big names have been, what they did, and why those guys are so important. It's easy, even today, for kids to like Babe Ruth. Ashley likes Mickey Mantle. Rachel seems to have developed an affinity for Whitey Ford. Maybe she just likes the name, but when she's a little older, she'll understand why it's a good thing that she already had a healthy respect for 1 of the 2 best pitchers in Yankee history. (Mariano Rivera being the other -- and it's hard to say which was better, or more significant, so let's just say the best starter and the best reliever in Yankee history.)

When my grandfather was 7 years old, the World Series ended on October 11.

When my other grandfather was 7, October 13.

When both of my grandmothers were 7, it ended on October 10.

When my father was 7, October 7.

When my mother was 7, the World Series ended on October 2.

When I was 7, it ended on October 18.

When my sister (Ashley & Rachel's mother) was 7, October 17.

They are now 7. Barring a postponement, this year's World Series will begin on October 21, and if it goes to a Game 7, that will be on October 29.

Most likely, we're going to need more than sweaters by then.


October 6, 1845: The 1st recorded baseball game using Alexander Cartwright's rules, the basis for the game we have today, is played between members of the Knickerbocker Club, of which he is a member. As we would say today, an intrasquad game. In a way, this could mean that October 6 is baseball's birthday.

Only 14 players participate as Duncan Curry's team defeats Cartwright's team 11-8, in a shortened game of only 3 innings.The Knickerbocker Club will play at least 14 recorded games during the fall of 1845.

October 6, 1868: In a match that decides the Championship of amateur baseball for the year, the Atlantics of Brooklyn pound the Unions of Morrisania (now part of The Bronx)‚ 24-8‚ at Morrisania. The Atlantics win the best-2-out-of-3 from the defending Champions.

October 6, 1880: The Cincinnati Red Stockings refuse to accede to the restrictions approved by the NL 2 days earlier: No alcohol sold at games, and no games on Sundays. They are thrown out of the NL. This leads directly to a new club in Cincinnati that founds the American Association, nicknamed "The Beer and Whiskey League." They will also sell tickets for 25 cents, half the cost of NL games.

October 6, 1882: In the 1st postseason matchup between AA and NL Champions -- nobody is calling it "the World Series" or even "the World's Series" -- the AA Champion Cincinnati Red Stockings shut out the NL Champion Chicago White Stockings (forerunners of the Cubs) 4-0 behind Will White.

The next day, Chicago returns the favor by blanking Cincinnati 2-0. At this point Cincinnati‚ under pressure from the AA‚ reluctantly cancels the exhibition series to avoid expulsion from the league. So, with the NL still the unquestioned superior league, the White Stockings are the unofficial World Champions, for the 3rd year in a row.

October 6, 1886: After pitching 3 1-hitters and 4 2-hitters earlier in the season‚ 20-year-old lefthander Matt Kilroy finally gets a no-hitter‚ beating the Pittsburgh Alleghenys 6-0. Pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, who are in last place in the AA, "Matches" still manages a won-lost record of 29-32.

Kilroy was still officially a rookie in 1886. He struck out 513 batters, still a record for a pitcher. It should be noted that the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate was 50 feet, not reaching 60 feet, 6 inches until 1893. By that point, he was already in decline, and was not with the Orioles when they joined the NL in 1892 and won Pennants in 1894, '95, '96 and nearly again in '97. He won 141 games against 136 losses, mostly for bad teams, and was never a serious candidate for the Hall of Fame.

A Philadelphia native, he died there in 1940, age 74, and is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery at the city's northern edge, as are Connie Mack, 1910s Red Sox star Steve Yerkes, 1970s Mayor Frank Rizzo and Olympic rowing champion John B. Kelly Sr. (father of Olympic rowing champ Jack Kelly and actress-princess Grace Kelly).

The Alleghenys will join the NL in 1887, and the franchise officially traces its birth to that season, not its actual debut with the founding of the AA in 1882. In 1890, with the game in flux because of the establishment of the Players' League, the Alleghenys sign 2nd baseman Lou Bierbauer of the AA's Philadelphia Athletics (not the later AL team). That Athletics publicly claim the move was "piratical." The Pittsburgh club just goes with this, renaming themselves the Pirates for the 1891 season, and claims that the Athletics did not reserve him, making him a free agent and fair game to sign. An arbitrator agreed.

That was the last season of the AA, and the Orioles joined the NL at that time, as did the Reds, and the St. Louis team that would become the Cardinals.


October 6, 1904: The Pirates beat the Cardinals 10-1. In spite of the loss, the Cards' Jack Taylor hurls his 39th consecutive complete game of the season, still a major league record under the 60 & 6 distance. His streak started on April 15th and totals 352 innings pitched.

October 6, 1906: Not one of the best-known games between the teams now known as the Yankees and the Red Sox, due to the passage of over a century, but it deserves to be mentioned. The New York Highlanders beat the Boston Americans 5-4 at Hilltop Park, behind the pitching of Long Tom Hughes.

But Charles Sylvester "Chick" Stahl, the 33-year-old center fielder and manager for Boston, hits a 2-run homer off Hughes in the top of the 8th. It's not enough, but it does turn out to be the last at-bat of his career. He remains the most notable player to hit a home run in his last major league at-bat, until another Red Sox star does it in 1960: Ted Williams.

The 1907 season will be the 1st one for the club under the Red Sox name. But Stahl will not be there. Not as a player (he had already announced his retirement), and not as manager. Back in his native Indiana, where he was conducting spring training, he committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid on March 28.

A star of the Boston club's 1903 and '04 Pennant winners, he was despondent about something, and told his teammates, "Boys, I just couldn't help it. It drove me to it." No one has been able to determine what he was talking about, although it was known that he had cheated on his wife Julia, and it has been retroactively suggested that he was dealing with mental illness. It has also been suggested that he was depressed about having to dismiss his predecessor and ex-teammate, future Hall-of-Famer Jimmy Collins.

A year and a half later, on November 15, 1908, Julia died, too, under circumstances that have never been explained.

Although Jake Stahl was also a prominent Red Sock of the pre-Curse of the Bambino years, he and Chick were not related.

October 6, 1909: Christy Mathewson pitched for the Yankees? Not officially. The Highlanders and Tigers play a postseason benefit game for Sam Crane, a sportswriter and former big-league 2nd baseman who had recently recovered from a severe illness, and had been unable to pay his medical bills.

Mathewson pitched for the Yankees, while his former Giant teammate Iron Joe McGinnity came out of retirement to pitch for the Tigers. This was likely arranged by Hughie Jennings, the Tiger manager, who was a teammate of Giant manager John McGraw on the 1890s Orioles. Jennings, for the last time in a brilliant baseball career, played shortstop, a position at which he was so good that he might have gotten into the Hall of Fame had he never managed a game. (He had just clinched the Tigers' 3rd straight Pennant, and probably viewed this as not just a good deed for an old friend, but as a good warmup for the World Series.) Oddly, I can't find a result for this game anywhere.

Crane's playing career ended in 1890, when he was arrested after having an affair with the wife of a fruit dealer and stealing $1,500 from the husband -- about $40,000 in today's money. But he became a better writer than a player, and lived until 1925, age 71.

Oddly, a few years later, there would be another infielder named Sam Crane whose amorous difficulties got him in even hotter water. This one was a shortstop who played for 4 teams, including the Brooklyn Dodgers, from 1914 to 1922. "Red" Crane (he was a redhead, and the accusations against him do not include Communism) was convicted of the jealous murder of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend on August 3, 1929, and was sentenced to 18 to 36 years in prison. He proved to be a model prisoner. His former manager Connie Mack argued for his parole for 15 years, and he finally got it in 1944, and he lived in comparative tranquility until 1955.


October 6, 1911: Cy Young appears in his last major league game, starting for the Boston Rustlers (forerunners of the Braves, named for their owner, William H. Russell). It doesn't go so well. The Brooklyn Superbas (forerunners of the Dodgers) win, 13-3. The old Cyclone goes 6 1/3 innings, giving up 11 hits. Here are the results of his last 8 at-bats: Triple, 4 straight singles, 3 straight doubles.

Young retired at age 44, with all-time records for wins (511), losses (316), appearances by a pitcher (906), innings pitched (7,356), batters faced (29,565), starts (815), complete games (749), hits allowed (7,092), runs allowed (3,167), earned runs allowed (2,147), and strikeouts (2,803). His records for appearances, runs (but not earned runs) and strikeouts have been broken. The rest still stand, 103 years later. His ERA+ was 138, and his WHIP was 1.130, so he wasn't just lasting a long time amassing some big stats, as has been leveled against more recent pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton: He was great even by the standards of his own time.

Five hundred and eleven wins. The next-closest pitcher is Walter Johnson, with 417 -- 94 less. The winningest living pitcher is Greg Maddux with 355. The winningest active pitcher is Tim Hudson with 214. So unless there's a change in baseball as radical as that of the Dead Ball Era to the Lively Ball Era in 1920, after Young retired, 511 wins, and his other still-standing records, are as safe as a record can be.

Young, who lived until 1955, age 87, was interviewed in 1945 by Chicago Daily News sports editor John P. Carmichael for his anthology My Greatest Day In Baseball. His choice was his 1904 perfect game for the Boston Americans (Red Sox). He added, "In my last game, I was beaten 1-0 by a kid named Grover Cleveland Alexander." Alexander was a rookie in 1911, but if he did beat Cy Young 1-0 that season, it wasn't Young's last game.

October 6, 1912: In Cincinnati‚ Pirates right fielder Owen "Chief" Wilson hits a 9th inning 3-run triple off the Reds' Frank Gregory, but, in trying to stretch it into a home run, he is nipped at the plate. The Pirates roll‚ 16-6. It is his 36th triple of the season, a still-standing record.

On the same day, the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3. Cubs 3rd baseman Heinie Zimmerman, goes 0-for-3, and has had just 2 hits in the last week. But he holds on to win the Triple Crown‚ leading by one in HRs and RBI. Or so it was then thought: Years later‚ a recount of the totals will drop Zim from 103 RBIs to 99‚ and cost him the Triple Crown.

October 6, 1919: Game 5 of the World Series, following a Sunday rainout. Reds pitcher Hod Eller pitches a 3-hit shutout against the Chicago White Sox. In the 2nd and 3rd innings, he strikes out 6 players in a row: Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Ray Schalk, opposing pitcher Lefty Williams, Nemo Leibold and Eddie Collins. In addition, the Reds score 4 runs in the 6th on, among other things, bad throws by Shoeless Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch. Schalk gets thrown out of the game arguing a safe call on a slide into the plate by the Reds' Heinie Groh.

The Reds win, 5-0, and go up 4 games to 1 in this best-5-out-of-9 Series. One more win, and the Reds take the title.

Jackson, Felsch, Gandil, Risberg and Williams will later be found to be on the take. Eddie Cicotte did not appear in the game. Fred McMullin, usually a backup, did not appear, and of course Buck Weaver ended up being suspended for not reporting the fix, not because he was part of it (he wasn't). So of the 7 players in on it, 5 appeared, and all had something to do with the defeat.

October 6, 1920: Hal Chase and the aforementioned Heinie Zimmerman are indicted on bribery charges, as an aftermath of the investigation into the previous year's World Series. New York Giants manager John McGraw would end up testifying that he released them after the 1919 season for throwing games, and for trying (apparently, without success) to entice Fred Toney, Rube Benton and Benny Kauff to join them.

Zimmerman denies the charges. Chase ignores them. Both will be banned for life from baseball by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis when he becomes Commissioner.

Game 2 of the World Series is played on the same day as the indictment. Wheeler Johnston pinch-hits for the Cleveland Indians in the 9th inning. His brother Jimmy Johnston is playing 3rd base for the Brooklyn Robins (forerunners of the Dodgers). They thus become the first brothers to take opposite sides in a World Series. The Robins win, 3-0, on a shutout by spitballer Burleigh Grimes, and tie the Series 1-1. But this will be the high point of World Series play for the Brooklyn franchise until 1947.

October 6, 1923: In a regular-season game, Ernie Padgett of the Boston Braves, in only his 2nd major-league appearance, pulls off an unassisted triple play in a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies. It is the 1st such play in NL history.

Born in Philadelphia in 1899, the infielder would only last 5 seasons in the majors, and died in 1957 in East Orange, New Jersey.

October 6, 1926: Game 4 of the World Series, at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. Someone got a message to Babe Ruth, asking him to hit a home run for a sick kid in a hospital.

He hit one. And another. And another. It was the 1st time a player had hit 3 home runs in a World Series game. The Yankees win, 10-5, and tie up the Series with the Cardinals.

The boy’s name was Johnny Sylvester. He got well, later met the Babe, and lived to be 74.
In legend, the boy was dying, and the Babe visited him in the hospital, and promised him he’d hit a home run for him, and ended up hitting 3, and, hearing the game on the radio, instantly began to get well. The truth is great enough, is Ruthian enough.

October 6, 1933: Game 4 of the World Series. Carl Hubbell of the Giants outduels Monte Weaver of the Washington Senators, winning 2-1 in 11 innings. The winning run is scored when Blondy Ryan singles home Travis Jackson, who led off with a surprise bunt and was then sacrificed to 2nd. The Senators' Heinie Manush is thrown out of the game by umpire Charlie Moran, for pulling on his bow tie during an argument.

October 6, 1934, 80 years ago: The Tigers defeat the Cardinals, 10-4 at Navin Field in Detroit (later renamed Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium). Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean – or Jerome Herman “Dizzy” Dean, depending on which story Ol’ Diz liked to tell on any given day – inexplicably runs onto the field when player-manager Frankie Frisch calls for a pinch-runner, and is hit in the head by a throw. He is taken to a hospital, examined, and released.

He tells the press, apparently without realizing what he’s saying, “They examined my head, and they didn’t find anything.” A newspaper says the next day, “X-rays of Dean’s head show nothing.” Dean will have the last laugh, though.

October 6, 1936: The New York Yankees defeat the New York Giants in Game 6 of the World Series, 13-5 at the Polo Grounds, and clinch their 5th World Championship. It remains the most runs scored by a team in a Series-clinching game.

At this point, the following teams have won 5 World Series: The Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Athletics. (The A’s wouldn’t win another until 1972, by which point they were in Oakland. The Red Sox have never won another. Not without cheating, anyway.)

By beating the Giants, who have 4, the Yankees move ahead of the Giants into first place in New York, and they have never relinquished it. Now, they are tied with the Sox and A’s for 1st among all teams. They have never been 2nd again. Nor will they be.

October 6, 1937: Game 1 of the World Series. Hubbell isn't so lucky this time: The Yankees torch him, and 2 other pitchers, for 7 runs in the top of the 6th at the Polo Grounds: 5 singles, 3 walks and 2 errors. Lefty Gomez pitches superbly, and the Yankees beat the Giants 8-1. The Giants never recovered in the Series, and wouldn't win another Pennant for 14 years.

October 6, 1938: The Yankees defeat the Cubs, 6-3 at Wrigley Field, and take a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series. Dean, now with the Cubs following an arm injury that will ultimately end his meteoric career at age 31, takes a 3-2 lead into the 8th inning, but Frank Crosetti’s homer gives the Yanks a lead they will not relinquish. Joe DiMaggio added a homer in the 8th.

The winning pitcher is Gomez, making him 6-0 in World Series play. Although he appears in 3 more Series with the Yankees, this will be his last Series decision. But although Whitey Ford with 10 and Bob Gibson with 7 will win more Series games, Gomez has the best winning percentage in Series history to this day.

October 6, 1941: The Yankees beat the Dodgers, 4-1, and win their 9th World Series, clinching in 5 games at Ebbets Field. The Brooklyn Eagle’s headline reads, “WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR.” A catchphrase is coined.

It will take another 14 years, and several agonizing close calls including 4 more World Series losses, all to the Yankees, before “Next Year” finally arrives for Brooklyn. In an unfortunate twist, the Brooklyn Eagle went out of business, publishing its last edition on January 29, 1955 -- just 9 months and change before Dem Bums finally dooed it.

This is the last Major League Baseball game before World War II, although some players, including Detroit Tiger Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg, are already in the U.S. armed forces. Not until April 1946 will baseball again be played without players missing due to military service.

This is also the first Yankees-Dodgers World Series. There have now been 11: Seven all-New York “Subway Series,” four Coast-to-Coast N.Y./L.A. series. There hasn’t been one in 33 years, and as long as Don Mattingly — a.k.a. Donnie Regular Season Baseball — is managing the Dodgers, there will never be a 12th.

October 6, 1943: Robert Cooper, father of Cardinal pitcher Mort Cooper and their catcher Walker Cooper, dies. A telegram reaches Yankee Stadium to inform the brothers before Game 2 of the World Series. But they play on: Walker goes 1-for-3 at the bat, and Mort and pitches the Cards to a 4-3 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Mort leaves for home, Independence, Missouri (outside Kansas City), after the game. (He wouldn't have been asked to start again until at least Game 5, anyway.) The Yankees win the next 3 games to take the Series, at which point Walker goes home, too.

October 6, 1944, 70 years ago: Game 3 of the World Series. Five singles and a wild pitch by the Cardinals' Fred Schmidt give the Browns 4 runs in the 3rd inning. With Jack Kramer (no relation to the tennis great of the same name) striking out 10 Redbirds, the Browns win 6-2, and take a 2-games-to-1 lead.

This is the all-time high-water mark for the St. Louis Browns: Not until 1966, as the Baltimore Orioles, would they ever win 3 games in a World Series, much less 4.


October 6, 1945: Game 4 of the World Series is held at Wrigley Field. William “Billy Goat” Sianis is the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, across from Chicago Stadium, home of the NHL’s Blackhawks and the Midwest’s premier boxing venue. He has a goat as his bar’s mascot, and he buys two tickets to this game, one for himself and one for the goat.

At the time, there is no rule against this. But fans around him complain to the ushers that the goat smells bad, and Sianis and his goat are kicked out of the ballpark.

A Greek immigrant and a superstitious man, Sianis puts a curse on the Cubs. The Tigers win the game, 4-1, all their runs coming in the 4th inning, after Sianis and the goat are kicked out. The Tigers win the Series in 7, and afterward, Sianis sends a telegram to Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley, asking, “Who stinks now?”

In 1963, Sianis would move his bar, a precursor to today’s sports bars, to its current location on Michigan Avenue, just north of the Loop, near the Tribune Tower and the Sun-Times Building, making it a popular watering hole for journalists. He died in 1970, about a year after the Cubs’ 1969 September Swoon.

His nephew Sam Sianis has run the place ever since, and when William Wrigley Jr. sold the Cubs to the Tribune Company in 1981, he offered to lift the Curse of the Billy Goat. A number of times, Cub management has allowed Sam to take his bar’s current mascot onto the field in an attempt to lift the Curse. It hasn’t worked: Apparently, Billy’s curse is stronger even than his own flesh and blood. The Cubs haven’t been back to the World Series in 68 years — over two-thirds of a century without a Pennant, by far MLB’s record. (The next-longest drought: The crosstown Chicago White Sox going 46 years without one, 1959 to 2005.)

Is the goat the reason? Well, let’s put it this way: In 1945, the Cubs had already not been World Champions for 37 years, and had already had a number of weird things happen to them in Series play, including a 10-run inning by the A’s in 1929, Babe Ruth’s alleged “called shot” in 1932, and Stan Hack leading off the 9th with a triple with what would be the tying run and then getting stranded there to lose Game 6 and the Series to the Tigers in 1935. The goat curse doesn’t explain any of that.

So what’s the real reason the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in 106 years now? Your guess is as good as mine.

Left fielder Andy Pafko, later one of the Dodgers’ “Boys of Summer,” died last year on October 8. So, 69 years later, shortstop Lennie Merullo, 97 years old, is the only living man to have played for the Chicago Cubs in a World Series.


October 6, 1946: Game 1 of the World Series. The Cardinals' Whitey Kurowski is awarded home plate on a controversial obstruction call after he gets tangled up with Red Sox 3rd baseman Pinky Higgins, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning. The Red Sox tie the game in the 9th when a seemingly easy grounder takes a freak bounce, and goes through the legs of Marty Marion, the Cardinals' All-Star shortstop, a man known as The Octopus for snaring so many grounders it seems like he has 8 hands. Rudy York homers off Howie Pollet in the top of the 10th, and the Sox win 3-2.

It looks bad for Marion, but he will not be the shortstop anyone remembers from this Series. Indeed, a case can be made that both he and Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky belong in the Hall of Fame.

October 6, 1947: Game 7 of the World Series, the Yanks and Dem Bums at Yankee Stadium. The Dodgers threaten in the top of the 9th, but catcher Bruce Edwards grounds into a double play -- shortstop Phil "the Scooter" Rizzuto to 2nd baseman George "Snuffy" Stirnweiss to 1st baseman George McQuinn -- which clinches the 5-2 win for the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. It is the Yankees’ 11th World Championship. The next-closest team is the just-dethroned Cardinals with 6.

This was the 1st World Series on television, on NBC, although it wasn’t the 1st baseball games on coast-to-coast TV. That wouldn’t happen until the 1951 Giants-Dodgers Playoff. President Harry Truman had received the 1st TV set to be installed in the White House the previous day (and had delivered the 1st televised State of the Union Address the preceding January 6); though a big baseball fan, he admitted his skipped the last innings.

This was also the first integrated World Series, with Jackie Robinson playing for the Dodgers. However, it was Italians who were the major figures in the Series: Yogi Berra for hitting the first pinch-hit home run in Series history in Game 3, Cookie Lavagetto for breaking up Floyd Bevens’ no-hitter with one out to go in Game 4, Joe DiMaggio for coming through for the Yankees again with a homer in Game 5, Al Gionfriddo for robbing DiMaggio with a spectacular catch in Game 6, and Rizzuto for starting the game-ending twin killing in Game 7.

An interesting note is that, while Bevens, Lavagetto and Gionfriddo were the biggest heroes of in this Series, and all played in Game 7, none of them would ever play another major league game. Yogi and Dodger Ralph Branca are the only surviving players from the rosters in this game, 67 years later.

October 6, 1948: Game 1 of the World Series. For the 1st time in a career that dates back 12 years (but included nearly 4 years missed due to World War II), Bob Feller is pitching in the Fall Classic, pitching for the Indians against Johnny Sain of the Boston Braves at Braves Field.

As could be guessed with such great starting pitchers, the game was scoreless in the bottom of the 8th. But Feller walked catcher Bill Salkeld, and manager Billy Southworth (who was managing in his 4th World Series, having taken the Cardinals there 3 times) pinch-ran Phil Masi, also a catcher, for him. Mike McCormick bunted him over to 2nd, and Feller walked Eddie Stanky intentionally to set up a double play. Southworth sent in another pinch-runner, Sibby Sisti.

Then Feller tried to pick Masi off 2nd, and Lou Boudreau, the Cleveland shortstop and manager, appeared to tag him out. But umpire Bill Stewart called him safe. Tommy Holmes singled Masi home, and the Braves won 1-0.

The next day, the picture taken by an Associated Press photographer showed that Masi was out. Now, there's no guarantee that the Braves wouldn't have won the game anyway -- after all, it was still scoreless at the time. But there was quite a to-do about the play and Stewart's call. It would probably be remembered much more, along the lines of the Don Denkinger play in the 1985 World Series, if the Braves had gone on to win the Series, but they didn't.

Masi was actually a pretty good player, a good-fielding catcher who batted a decent .264 and made 4 All-Star Games. He died on May 29, 1990 at the age of 74. Upon his death, his will revealed that he knew he really was out on the pick-off play.

This game was the last time the Boston Braves led a World Series. In October 2014, 66 years after this game and 61 1/2 years after they moved to Milwaukee, there are 14 living former Boston Braves. Shortstop Alvin Dark, outfielder Clint Conatser and pitcher Johnny Antonelli played on their 1948 Pennant winners. The others are: Outfielders Eddie Carnett, Bob Addis and Luis Olmo; catcher Del Crandall and pitcher Gene Conley, who would still be with them when they won their Milwaukee Pennants of 1957 and '58; catcher Mike Sandlock; and pitchers Harry MacPherson, Hal Schacker, Dick Manville, Bert Thiel and Virgil Jester.

October 6, 1949: Game 2 of the World Series. After yesterday's 1-0 duel between Allie Reynolds of the Yankees and Don Newcombe of the Dodgers, Preacher Roe pitches a shutout and wins 1-0, to tie up the Series. But the Dodgers won't win another Series game for 3 years.

October 6, 1950: Game 3 of the World Series. The Phillies lead the Yankees 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th, but Ken Heintzelman ran out of gas and control, and walked the bases loaded. Jim Konstanty came in, and got Bobby Brown to ground to short, but Granny Hamner misplayed it, and the game was tied. The Yankees loaded the bases again in the bottom of the 9th, and Jerry Coleman singled home the winning run, 3-2.

The Phils had now played 3 games in this Series, and each of them by 1 run. Rotten luck, to be sure, but a champion finds a way to win those games. The Yankees did.

October 6, 1951: The World Series returns to the Polo Grounds for the 1st time in 14 years. In the bottom of the 5th, Rizzuto tries to turn a double play, but Stanky, the former Dodger and Braves playing his last games before retiring, kicks the ball out of the Scooter's glove. This opens the door to a 5-run inning, highlighted by Whitey Lockman's 2-run homer. The Giants win 6-2, and take a 2-games-to-1 lead in the Series. The Miracle of Coogan's Bluff continues... but it stops the next day.

October 6, 1957: Game 4 of the World Series. Eddie Matthews becomes the 1st National Leaguer to hit what we would now call a “walkoff” home run in a World Series game, and the 1st player in either League to do it in extra innings, hitting one out of Yankee pitcher Bob Grim in the bottom of the 10th, to give the Milwaukee Braves a 7-5 win, and even the World Series at 2 games apiece.

This was the Shoe Polish Game, in which Braves pinch-hitter Vernal Leroy “Nippy” Jones claimed to have been hit on the foot by a Tommy Byrne pitch, and a smudge of polish on the ball revealed him to be telling the truth, leading to a Brave run.

Nippy, who had been sent up to pinch-hit for Warren Spahn, was replaced by pinch-runner Felix Mantilla, who was sacrificed to 2nd by Red Schoendienst, and then came Mathews’ blast.

Like Jones, Schoendienst had played on the 1946 World Champion Cardinals. Mantilla, later an original 1962 Met, should not be confused with Felix Millan, also a Met 2nd baseman and a member of their 1973 Pennant winners.

Another World Series shoe-polish incident would occur in favor of the Mets in 1969, with Cleon Jones – although they are not related, as Nippy was white and Cleon is black. Cleon's hit-by-pitch was also followed by a home run, by Donn Clendenon, although it was the 6th inning, and the Mets had yet to take the lead -- but they did.

Players from this game who are still alive, 57 years later: From the Braves, Schoendienst, Mantilla, Hank Aaron and the aforementioned Del Crandall; from the Yankees: Berra, Tony Kubek and Bobby Shantz. Whitey Ford is still alive, but did not appear in this game. Braves 1st baseman Frank Torre, Yankee 2nd baseman Jerry Coleman and Yankee infielder Jerry Lumpe died this year.

October 6, 1959: A crowd of 92,706, still the largest ever for a baseball game that counts, plows into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Game 5 of the World Series. Dick Donovan shuts out the Dodgers, and Sherm Lollar grounds into a double play that forces home a run, and the White Sox win, 1-0, with Bob Shaw outdueling Sandy Koufax (not yet a star). This will remain the last World Series game won by a Chicago team for 46 years.

Players from this game who are still alive, 55 years later: From the Dodgers: Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, Joe Pignatano, Wally Moon, Don Demeter, Ron Fairly, Chuck Essegian and Stan Williams (Don Zimmer died earlier this year); from the White Sox: Luis Aparicio, Jim Landis, Jim Rivera, Billy Pierce and Jim McAnany.

Also on this day, Dennis Ray Boyd is born. The Red Sox pitcher will be nicknamed “Oil Can,” because that’s what people in his native Meridian, Mississippi called a can of beer. Despite helping them to the 1986 World Series, Boyd will be remembered for his eccentricities more than his pitching.

He recently wrote a memoir detailing his drug use during his career, and played Satchel Paige in 42, the movie about Jackie Robinson -- a nod to his father, Willie Boyd, who pitched in the Negro Leagues.


October 6, 1960: Game 2 of the World Series. The Pirates' Game 1 victory seems like a lifetime ago as the Yankees pound them 16-3. Mickey Mantle hits 2 home runs, and a 7-run 6th inning knocks the Bucs off.

The pattern for the Series is set: The Yankees win their games in blowouts, the Pirates win their games close, but they count just the same.

October 6, 1963: The Dodgers complete a 4-game sweep over the Yankees at Dodger Stadium. Sandy Koufax, who won Game 1, wins Game 4 as well. The Yankees had come into this 1st West Coast version of Yankees vs. Dodgers having won 104 games, but would not win another until next April.

October 6, 1965: Game 1 of the World Series at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota — the 1st World Series game ever played in that State. Koufax, being Jewish, does not pitch today, because it is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. So he is pushed back to Game 2, and Don Drysdale is started. No problem, right? Big D is also a future Hall-of-Famer, right?

Not today: Don Mincher and soon-to-be AL MVP Zoilo Versalles (who hit only 2 homers in the regular season, and got the MVP for his contact hitting, speed and defense) hit home runs off Drysdale, and when manager Walter Alston comes to take him out in the 3rd inning, Drysdale says to him, “I bet you wish I was Jewish, too!”

Jim “Mudcat” Grant allows only one hit, a home run by Ron Fairly, and the Twins, in the 1st World Series game in their history (unless you count their Washington Senators days, in which case it’s their first in 32 years), win 8-2.

To make matters worse for the Dodgers, Koufax loses Game 2 as well. The Dodgers will come back, 
though, and win the Series in 7 games. The Twins will not get this close to a World Championship again for another 22 years.

October 6, 1966: Game 2 of the World Series. Dodger outfielder Willie Davis, having trouble seeing a white baseball against the smog-gray L.A. sky, commits three errors in one inning, enabling the Baltimore Orioles to win 6-0, and take both World Series games at Dodger Stadium, and head back to Memorial Stadium with a 2-0 lead. Jim Palmer outduels Koufax, who struggles with the Oriole bats, Davis’ fielding, and the pain in his elbow.

No one knows it yet, but this is the last major league game for Koufax. He is not yet 31, while Palmer is just 20. This could be called a “generational hinge” game.

On this same day, LSD is declared illegal throughout the United States.

Also on this day, Niall John Quinn is born in Dublin, Ireland. Most Americans don’t know who he is. He was a soccer forward played on Arsenal’s 1987 League Cup-winning team, and, phased out in favor of Alan Smith, was a reserve on their 1989 League Championship team.

He moved on to Manchester City, where he became a star, and even performed admirably in an emergency stint it goal. But on their 1992 preseason tour in Italy, he got in an altercation with teammate Steve McMahon, who had been on the other side when Arsenal beat Liverpool in the season finale that decided that League title. McMahon looked like a fool that night, signaling to his teammates that there would be just 1 minute of injury time, when there turned out to be 2, with Michael Thomas scoring the winning goal in said 92nd minute. But Quinn didn’t play in that game.
After their fight on that preseason tour, Quinn pulled off his T-shirt, stained with McMahon’s blood, so he wouldn’t be denied entry into a dance club, danced his arse off (as they’d say in the British Isles), and, seen wearing only a pair of cutoff jeans by a Man City fan who was in the club, heard that fan sing, to the tune of “The Stars and Stripes Forever,”…

Niall Quinn’s disco pants are the best!
They go up from his arse to his chest!
They are better than Adam and the Ants!
Niall Quinn’s disco pants!

Quinn, who has called it “the song that will follow me to the end of my career,” admits that he no longer has those pants. However, they can’t possibly fail to be better than Adam and the Ants. They sucked.

Quinn finished his playing career for Sunderland A.F.C., saying, "I learned my trade at Arsenal, became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin. I love Sunderland." He then went into management, eventually buying a part-ownership of the Sunderland team and being made its chairman. He has since sold his stake in the team, and has returned to color commentary on soccer games (or, should I say, “colour commentary on football matches”), having replaced the controversially fired former Aston Villa and Everton star Andy Gray as the main partner for England's top announcer, Martin Tyler.

In 2006, Sunderland, then in English football’s 2nd division, were playing away at Cardiff City, along with Swansea City one of two teams from Wales in the 92-team English Football League. Sunderland won, and Quinn got on the plane that was to take him, the players, and a few fans back to Sunderland. Already, there was a problem, as Cardiff’s airport wasn’t willing to take them. They had to go 40 miles across a bay to Bristol, England. Recognized by some fans, who’d already had a few drinks that night, they started singing “Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants.” At the top of their lungs.

A few of the other passengers complained, and the pilot had 80 people thrown off the plane. The airline, EasyJet, told them they could have seats on the first plane out the next morning, at no extra charge — but wouldn’t give them a place to spend the night. They were really in a bind.

Quinn pulled out the club checkbook – since it’s Britain, I should say “chequebook” – and hired taxis. He paid 8,000 pounds, about $15,000 at the time, to take them up Britain’s M5 Motorway, from Bristol in the southwest of England to Sunderland in the northeast — about 300 miles, or roughly the distance from New York to Portland, Maine. Or from Philadelphia to Boston.

This would have been chump change for a big club like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United (or, now, Manchester City). But for Sunderland, it was a pretty penny. Sunderland fans – a.k.a. “Mackems” – have never forgotten this act of generosity, and adapted the song, including taking a pot-shot at Freddy Shepherd, then owner of their arch-rivals, Newcastle United, a.k.a. the Magpies or Mags (and since replacing him with Mike Ashley, current Newcastle owner):

Niall Quinn’s taxi cabs are the best!
So go shove it up your arse, EasyJet!
Fat Freddy/Fat Ashley wouldn’t do it for the Mags!
Niall Quinn’s taxi cabs!

I don’t like Sunderland, but, using the U.K. vernacular, Niall Quinn is a top man.


October 6, 1968: Game 4 of the World Series. Bob Gibson of the Cardinals earns his 7th straight Series win: After losing Game 2 to the Yankees in 1964, he then won Games 5 and 7, and Games 1, 4 and 7 in 1967, before his 17-strikeout masterwork in this year's Game 1, and now this. He has lived up to the hype of his 1.12 ERA regular season.

Denny McLain of the Tigers, however, has not lived up to the hype of his 31-6 season, having now been beaten by Gibson twice. Lou Brock misses the cycle by a single, ad his stolen base gives him 7 in the 1st 4 games. The Cardinals win 10-1, and need 1 more win to wrap up the Series. If they can't do it in Game 5 in Detroit tomorrow, Games 6 and 7 will be at home in St. Louis.

Before the game, Detroit's own (well, Motown Records' own, since he's actually from Washington, D.C.) Marvin Gaye sings the "The Star-Spangled Banner." An overtly sexy black man singing the National Anthem? In 1968, the year of Martin Luther King's assassination and the accompanying race riots? The man who chose Detroit's anthem singers must have had some real guts.

The man chosen to choose the anthem singers for the Tiger Stadium games had guts, all right. He was a World War II Marine. True, he never saw combat, but still a Marine. He was also an ordained minister. And a published songwriter. And a Tiger broadcaster, so he was qualified on any level to choose the Tigers' anthem singers. He was Ernie Harwell.

Marvin sings it straight, gets a nice hand, and no one seems to object. That will not be the case with tomorrow's singer. When Marvin, in the midst of an ill-fated comeback, sings the Anthem before the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, it will be a very different performance.

October 6, 1969: Tommie Agee, Ken Boswell and Wayne Garrett all hit home runs, leading the Mets to defeat the Atlanta Braves, 7-4 at Shea Stadium, and sweep the 1st-ever National League Championship Series. As they did after the NL Eastern Division clincher on September 24, the Met fans storm the field.

It is the 1st Pennant won by a New York team in 5 years. A long time by New York standards. But for Met fans, the children of a “shotgun wedding” between 2 groups of fans who once hated each other, to use the late scientist and former Giant fan Stephen Jay Gould’s phrase, “with that love that only hate can understand,” it is the 1st Pennant in either 13 years (Dodgers) or 15 years (Giants).

After 7 bad years, 5 of them absolutely horrible, in Year 8 the Mets have won the Pennant. It is the fastest any team has reached the World Series since the early days of the competition. It will be 1980 – or 1973, if you count the Mets’ 2nd Pennant – before a team other than one of the “Original 16” reaches the World Series again.

The 1st-ever American League Championship Series also ends in a sweep today. Paul Blair gets 5 hits and Don Buford 4, as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Minnesota Twins 11-2 at Metropolitan Stadium. The Series is set: The heavily-favored 109-win Orioles will face the surprising 100-win "Miracle Mets."


October 6, 1973: Game 1 of the NLCS. Both the Mets and the Reds have something to prove: The Mets, that their 1969 "Miracle" wasn't a fluke; and the Reds, that they could win the big one, after losing the World Series in 1970 and '72.

Tom Seaver goes the distance for the Mets -- perhaps manager Yogi Berra left him in for too long. Johnny Bench takes him deep for a walkoff home run, and the Reds win 2-1. The big hits of this series have begun -- and they won't all be with the bats.

October 6, 1977: Game 2 of the ALCS. After being embarrassed by Paul Splittorff yesterday, the Yankees need a big-game pitcher. For the 1st time, Ron Guidry proves to be one, scattering 3 hits as the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2. The series is even as it heads to Kansas City.

October 6, 1978: Game 3 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. The winner will take a 2-1 lead in the series. George Brett of the Royals hits 3 home runs off Catfish Hunter, still the only 3-homer performance in LCS play in either league.

But in the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees trailing 5-4, Thurman Munson steps up against Royals reliever Doug Bird, and crushes a pitch 470 feet to left-center field. On ABC, Howard Cosell, who admired Munson a lot, laughs: “Ho-ho! The damaged man!”

Goose Gossage finishes it off for Catfish, and the Yankees win, 6-5. Reggie Jackson had also homered, his 2nd of this series, after taking KC closer Al “the Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky deep in Game 1 at Royals Stadium.

This is what I love most about Munson: At the moment when the Yankees most needed him to hit a home run, the banged-up Captain hit the longest home run of his career. Appropriately, it went into Monument Park. At this point, the only players honored there were the big 4: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle – along with owner Jacob Ruppert, general manager Ed Barrow, managers Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel, and the plaque honoring the Mass delivered by Pope Paul VI.

The next plaque to be dedicated would be the one for the Mass delivered by Pope John Paul II, but the next one for a Yankee would be, sadly, for Munson himself.

October 6, 1979: Game 4 of the ALCS. Pat Kelly hits a home run and drives in 3, Scott McGregor pitches a shutout, and the Orioles beat the California Angels 8-0 to take the Pennant. It is Baltimore's 5th flag in the last 14 seasons, but their 1st in 8.

The Angels' 1st trip to the postseason, after 19 years of trying, is a disappointment, although their Don Baylor will edge the O's Ken Singleton (now a Yankee broadcaster) for the AL Most Valuable Player award.

October 6, 1980: Having lost 3 straight to the Dodgers, the Houston Astros must now play them in a one-game Playoff to decide the NL West title, and at Dodger Stadium, no less.

No problem: Art Howe drives in 4 runs (which is more than the Astro 2nd baseman ever did for the Mets as their manager), and Joe Niekro knuckleballs his way to his 20th win of the season, and the Astros win, 7-1. In what is unofficially the 1st postseason game in their 19-year history, they officially advance to the Playoffs for the first time.

October 6, 1981: Game 1 of the AL Division Series, forced by the strike season's split-season format. Billy Martin, now managing the Oakland Athletics, becomes the 1st manager to take 4 franchises into the postseason: 1969 Twins, 1972 Tigers, 1976 & '77 Yankees, '81 A's. They are facing the Royals, in Kansas City, and due to his exile there from the Yankees in 1957 and his 1976 and '77 Playoff battles against them, he hates Kansas City, and, more than usual, wants to win there.

No problem: Mike Norris tosses a 6-hit shutout, and the A's win 4-0, their 1st win in a postseason game in 7 years.

On the same day, Game 1 of the NL Division Series is played. Alan Ashby, a light-hitting catcher, hits a walkoff home run to give the Astros another big win over the Dodgers, 3-1.

The pitcher was Dave Stewart. Both he and the Dodgers would have more luck as the postseason went on, first together, then apart.

October 6, 1982: Reggie Jackson may now be back on the West Coast, and no longer wearing Pinstripes, but he's still Mr. October. He hits a home run, and the Angels beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2. The Halos are now 1 win away from their 1st Pennant in 22 seasons of trying.

October 6, 1983: Orioles rookie Mike Boddicker ties the LCS record with 14 strikeouts in a 4-0 shutout of the White Sox. The ALCS is tied 1-1.

October 6, 1984, 30 years ago: A dark day in the long, gray history of the Chicago Cubs, 39 years to the day after the Day of the Goat. Leading the NLCS 2 games to 1, needing only 1 more win to take their first Pennant since 1945, they are tied with the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the 9th at Jack Murphy Stadium. But closer Lee Smith gives up an opposite-field homer to former Dodger “hero” Steve Garvey, and the Padres win, 7-5, to tie up the series.

Fans of lots of teams hated Garvey, due to his smugness and, as it turned out, his hypocrisy. But I think Cub fans hate him even more than Philadelphia and Cincinnati fans do. Certainly, they hate him more than Yankee Fans do – and that’s a lot.

October 6, 1985: With the Yankees having been eliminated from the AL East race the day before, manager Billy Martin sends 46-year-old knuckleballer Phil Niekro (Joe's brother) out to pitch an otherwise meaningless game at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. He allows only 4 hits, becoming the oldest pitcher ever to pitch a complete-game shutout – top that, Nolan Ryan! The Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 8-0, and Niekro has his 300th career win.

The Yankees will release him after the season, despite his having won 16 games for them at age 45 and again at 46. He will pitch 2 more seasons, with his home-State Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays, and 1 more game with his original team, the Braves – he is the last active player who had played for the Braves in Milwaukee – reaching 318 wins for his Hall of Fame career.

That makes him 16th on the all-time list, but among pitchers who’d spent most of their careers in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, only his ex-Brave teammate Warren Spahn, and the still-active Ryan, Steve Carlton and Don Sutton had more wins before him. He has since also been passed by Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.

With Joe having won 221, the Niekro brothers are the winningest brother combination in MLB history, with 539 wins between them. Phil also struck out 3,342 batters, then 8th all-time and now 11th. In 1973, he pitched the 1st no-hitter in Atlanta history. It took 5 tries before he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame.


October 6, 1991: The final game is played at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The Orioles lose to the Tigers, 7-3. Afterward, while the music from Field of Dreams plays, Brooks Robinson trots back out to his old position of 3rd base, followed by Frank Robinson into right field, Jim Palmer to the pitcher’s mound, and so on, until Cal Ripken goes to shortstop as the last player, and Earl Weaver gives one last lineup card (no doubt with little room on it) to an umpire.

This ceremony paves the way for many ballpark closing ceremonies since, including the farewell to the old Yankee Stadium (which, neatly, was against the Orioles). The Orioles moved into Oriole Park at Camden Yards the following April, and the NFL’s Ravens played their first 2 seasons (1996-97) at Memorial before moving into their own stadium at Camden Yards. Memorial Stadium, built in 1954, is demolished in 2002.

The same day that Memorial Stadium hosted its last baseball game, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia hosts an interesting and troubled one. With a policeman watching his every move from the Met dugout, and the fear of being arrested at any moment due to rape allegations (which were later proven false), David Cone ties a National League mark for strikeouts as he fans 19 Phillies, en route to a 7-0 victory in the season’s finale.

In spite of the charges against him having come to nothing, the Mets let him get away in the off-season, and, except for a brief comeback in 2003, he never pitched for them again. He did, however pitch for another New York team, and far more successfully than he ever did for the Mets.
That 1991 season remains the last one in which the Mets finished with a better record than the Yankees.  It also remains the last one in which the Mets finished with better attendance than the Yankees.

October 6, 1995: Game 3 of the ALDS, the 1st postseason game ever played in Seattle. Bernie Williams becomes the 1st player to hit a home run from each side of the plate in a postseason game. But Randy Johnson shuts the Yankees down, and the Seattle Mariners win 7-4, for their 1st-ever postseason victory.

Also played today is Game 3 of the NL Division Series. The Colorado Rockies win a postseason game for the 1st time, defeating the Braves 7-5 in 10 innings at Coors Field, to stave off elimination.

October 6, 2001: Another farewell in Baltimore. At Camden Yards, in front of a full house including Orioles notables both Robinsons, Palmer and Weaver, as well as Commissioner Bud Selig and former President Bill Clinton, Cal Ripken plays his 3,001st and final game. After a hitless night for the 41-year-old, the final out of the 5-1 loss to Red Sox is made as Cal watches from the on deck circle.

In Seattle, with their 116th win, the Mariners tie the 1906 Cubs as the winningest team in major league history. Bret Boone’s 37th home run of the season and the shutout pitching of 5 Seattle pitchers prove to be the difference in the 1-0 historic win over the Texas Rangers. But the Yankees will prove to the M’s that 116 don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ring.

At Shea Stadium, with his 151st career pinch hit, Lenny Harris breaks the major league mark established by Manny Mota. Coming off the Met bench to bat for Rey Ordonez, he lines a 1-2 pitch off Expo starter Carl Pavano for a single to become the career leader in pinch hits.

October 6, 2003: Game 5 of the ALDS. The Red Sox beat the A's 5-4, and complete the overcoming of a 2-games-to-none deficit to win. They will face the Yankees in the ALCS.

October 6, 2006: After failing to advance past the 1st round of the AL Playoffs in their previous 5 postseason appearances, the Oakland Athletics beat the much-favored Minnesota Twins, 8-3, to complete a 3-game ALDS sweep. The victory, which was the team’s 10th opportunity to win a clinching game, puts Oakland in ALCS for the 1st time since 1992.

This remains the only postseason series ever won by a team with Billy Beane as its general manager. He's been the A's GM for 19 seasons, and has never won a Pennant -- indeed, has never won an ALCS game. Explain to me again how Beane is a “genius”?

October 6, 2007: The Bug Game! Has it really been 7 years? In Game 2 of the ALDS at Jacobs Field, the Indians score the tying run on a wild pitch thrown by a bug-covered Joba Chamberlain. A rare infestation of Lake Erie Midges, which appeared en masse in the 8th inning, impacts the rookie Yankees reliever, who suffers his 1st blown save of the season.

We may never know why Joe Torre didn’t tell the umpires, “Stop play until the bugs are gone, or I’m pulling my team off the field and taking my chances with the Commissioner’s office!” Would John McGraw have put up with that kind of shit? Would Leo Durocher? Would Casey Stengel? Would Earl Weaver? Would Billy Martin? Would they hell! But Torre did.

The Yankees lost the game, 2-1, as several players — not just Alex Rodriguez — seemed to forget how to hit. So it wasn’t just the bugs.

Also played today is Game 3 of the NLDS. With their 17th win in 18 games, the Rockies beat the Phillies at Coors Field, 2-1, completing a 3-game sweep to advance to their 1st-ever NLCS. The Wild Card team will have to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, the NL Western Division Champions, to win the Pennant and earn a trip to the World Series.

Among all the disappointments in Phillies history, this one is usually given a pass. The Phils had come from 7 games back with 17 to go, and even entered the last day of the regular season not even assured of a Wild Card berth, but won the NL East. It was a thrilling season that marked the beginning of the greatest period in club history.

October 6, 2009: With one out in the bottom of the 12th inning in the AL Central tiebreaker, the Twins beat the Tigers, 6-5, when Alexi Casilla’s single plates Carlos Gomez from 2nd base with the winning run.

The Metrodome victory finishes an amazing comeback by Minnesota, going 17-4 in the final month to close a 7-game deficit, and completes a colossal collapse for the Tigers, who become the 1st team in big league history to surrender a 3-game lead with only 4 contests to play. This, just 3 years after the Tigers blew a 15 1/2-game AL Central lead over the Twins, the biggest Division (or pre-1969 League) choke ever.  Of course, the Tigers won the Wild Card and ended up beating the A’s, who’d beaten the Twins, for the Pennant. And, while they won the Pennant in 2006 and 2012, they've won just 1 World Series game in 30 years. They've now made the Playoffs in each of the last 4 seasons (2011-14), but haven't won a World Series game in that stretch.

Some people have taken to calling the post-2000 Yankees "the Atlanta Braves of the American League." Maybe they should take a closer look at the Tigers.

The result of this game -- which, for statistical purposes, is still counted as part of the regular season -- also mean that Twins catcher Joe Mauer wins his 3rd batting title, becoming the 1st player to accomplish the feat in consecutive seasons since Nomar Garciaparra lead the AL in 1999-2000. His .365 mark establishes a major league record for the highest batting average by a backstop.

October 6, 2010: At Citizens Bank Park, Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay throws the 2nd no-hitter in postseason history, and becomes the 1st NL hurler to do it, when he beats the Reds, 4-0, in Game 1 of the NLDS. He had also thrown a no-hitter in the regular season.

October 6, 2012: The 1st-ever win-or-go-home Wild Card Playoff games are played in each League. In the AL, Orioles eliminate the 2-time defending League Champion Texas Rangers, 5-1. The victory sends the surprising Baltimore team into the Playoffs for the first time in 15 years, a best-3-out-of-5 ALDS against the Yankees.

But the NL play-in game is a riot -- almost literally. The visiting Cardinals beat the Braves 6-3, in a game that will be best remembered for a disputed infield fly rule call in the 8th inning. The irate Turner Field fans show their displeasure with the umpires' decision on what appears to be a key Redbird error on a dropped pop fly in the outfield by littering the playing field with debris, causing a 19-minute delay while the ground crew cleans up the assorted trash.

It is the 1st such reaction by baseball fans since Red Sox fans hurled garbage onto the field during Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS, when the Yankees, aided by some umpiring mistakes, turned a 3-2 9th inning lead into a 9-2 win.

No comments: