Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy 50th Birthday, El Duque!

October 11, 1965, 50 years ago: After dropping the 1st 2 games of the World Series to the Twins in Minnesota, the Dodgers have won 3 straight in Los Angeles. Sandy Koufax pitched a 4-hit shutout, and the Dodgers win 7-0.

The home team has won all 5 games. The Dodgers only have to win 1 of the last 2 in Minnesota to take the title.

Also on this day -- we think, although, for years, he said it was in 1969 -- Orlando Hernández Pedroso is born in Villa Clara, Cuba. "El Duque" (The Duke), brother of fellow pitcher and fellow Cuban escapee Livan Hernández, pitched for the 2 most demanding bosses in the Western Hemisphere: Fidel Castro and George Steinbrenner.

El Duque starred for the Cuban national team in the 1980s and '90s, including winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 1992, before defecting. In 1998, the Yankees signed him, and he became a "rookie" sensation with his high leg kick, bubbly personality and astonishing array of pitches. These factors, and the mystery surrounding his true age, led to comparisons with Negro League legend Satchel Paige.

Not until 2002 did he not pitch for a Pennant winner, helping the Yankees win the World Series in 1998 (he saved them with a dazzling performance vs. the Indians in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, then winning Game 2 of the World Series), 1999 (MVP of the ALCS and winner of Game 1 of the World Series) and 2000 (his streak of 8 straight postseason wins coming to an end in Game 3 of the World Series, still the only Series game the Mets have won since 1986), and the Pennant in 2001.

He won another World Series with the 2005 Chicago White Sox, and finished his career with the Mets in 2006 and '07. He returned to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers' Day in 2013 and '14, but not this year.

Oh yes: El Duque had a dance. David Cone won 5 World Series to El Duque's 4, but, as Luis Sojo pointed out in this 1998 Adidas commercial, he doesn't have a dance.


October 11, 1779: Kazimierz Michał Władysław Wiktor Pułaski -- Polish count, American general, friend of Benjamin Franklin, savior of George Washington's life at the Battle of Brandywine, survivor of Valley Forge, Edgar Allan Poe lookalike and all-around badasski -- is killed at the Battle of Savannah in Georgia, during the War of the American Revolution. He was 34, and has been hailed as "The Father of the American Cavalry."

Along with Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko, he is the top hero of Polish-Americans, and Pulaski Day is a holiday in many places with high concentrations of Poles, on the 1st Monday in March (near his birthday, March 6, 1745). The Pulaski Bridge connects the highly-Polish Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn with Long Island City in Queens.

Unfortunately, the better-known bridge is the Pulaski Skyway, the "Black Beast," the long, ugly iron monstrosity that connects the downtowns of Newark and Jersey City, over the New Jersey Turnpike, the Passaic River and the Hackensack River, and is currently undergoing a major renovation that requires half its lanes to be closed.

What does he have to do with sports? Nothing, as far as I can tell. But I'm a Polish-American who has made hundreds of trips under the Skyway, and a few over it, and I wanted to discuss him.

October 11, 1809: Meriwether Lewis dies of gunshot wounds to the head and stomach at Grinder's Stand, an inn on the Natchez Trace in present-day Hohenwald, Tennessee. He was 35, and there is debate as to whether the alcoholic, heavily-indebted Lewis committed suicide or -- more likely, since there were 2 wounds -- was murdered (and, if so, by whom).

With William Clark in 1804, '05 and '06, he led the Corps of Discovery, exploring the Louisiana Purchase, and becoming the 1st American citizens to reach the Pacific Ocean. The Purchase area included the following cities that now have major league sports teams: St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle and Portland.

October 11, 1856: For a game between the host Atlantics of Brooklyn and the Athletics of Philadelphia, scorecards are printed for the 1st time. The attendance was said to be 30‚000, which may have been the largest attendance for a baseball game up until that time.

I can find no definitive account of who won, but one source I have says that the Atlantics, led by the best player of the period, Dickey Pearce, were undefeated that year. Indeed, the Atlantics would remain the dominant team in the Eastern U.S. into the 1870s, until the National Association was formed and the Boston Red Stockings took the title away.

October 11, 1876: Paul Masson is born in Mostagenem, France. He won 3 Gold Medals in cycling at the 1st Olympics, in Athens, Greece in 1896. As far as I can tell, he was no relation to the winemaker of the same name.

October 11, 1897: The Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Beaneaters 9-3, to win the Temple Cup. However, the Beaneaters had already won the National League Pennant, ending the Orioles' streak of 3 straight. With the Pennant meaning more to most fans than the Cup, the crowd is so small that the Baltimore front office refuses to give the exact number to the newspapers. The Temple Cup is never competed for again, for it is seen as virtually meaningless.

October 11, 1898: The Boston Beaneaters beat the Washington Nationals 8-2 in Washington, and win their 2nd straight National League Pennant -- their 5th in the last 8 years, their 8th overall, and their 12th if you count their days as the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association.

Future Hall-of-Famers on the 1898 Beaneaters include outfielders Hugh Duffy and Billy Hamilton, 3rd baseman Jimmy Collins, pitchers Kid Nichols and Vic Willis, and manager Frank Selee.

For the team that will, by 1912, be known as the Boston Braves, this is the end of a golden age. They had finished 1st in their League 12 times in their first 28 seasons, effectively dominating professional baseball the way no team would again until the Yankees started winning Pennants in 1921. But in their last 54 seasons, they would win just 2 more Pennants.

But at least they would still exist, and still do, if not in the same city (they’re in Atlanta now). The Nationals would be contracted out of existence after the 1899 season, opening the door to a new team called the Washington Senators in the American League in 1901. Today's Washington team in the NL has no connection to the earlier one except for the name "Nationals."

The last survivor of the Beaneaters’ 1890s dynasty was Duffy, who played all 3 outfield positions, and who lived on until 1954, spending the last few years of his life still involved in Boston baseball, as an executive with the Red Sox.

October 11, 1899: Edwin Hawley Dyer is born in Morgan City, Louisiana. Like so many mediocre players -- he went 15-15 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1920s -- Eddie became a successful manager, leading the Cardinals to the 1946 World Championship, having played on their 1926 World Championship team. He was the 1st former pitcher to manage a World Series winner -- the next would be Bob Lemon of the 1978 Yankees. Dyer died in 1964.


October 11, 1913: New York Giants manager John McGraw loses his 3rd straight World Series – something that, over a century later, no other team, let alone manager, has done since, although his former Orioles teammate, Hughie Jennings, did it with the 1907-08-09 Detroit Tigers.

In Game 5‚ Christy Mathewson is good‚ but his fellow future Hall-of-Famer Eddie Plank is better: His 2-hitter wins the 3-1 finale. Plank retires the first 13 batters‚ bettering the mark of 12 set by the Cubs’ Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown on Ocotber 9‚ 1906. It is the A’s 3rd title, all in the last 4 years.

This turns out to be the last postseason appearance for Mathewson, who, at this point, is identified with the World Series as much as anyone, even though his team is only 1-for-4 in them.

The last survivor of the 1913 A's was Amos Strunk, who lived until 1979. He was also the last survivor of the A's 1910 and 1911 World Champions, and of the 1st game played at their Shibe Park, on April 12, 1909. When the Phillies were closing the park, renamed Connie Mack Stadium, in 1970, they discovered that he was the last survivor of the 1st game, 61 years earlier, and invited him. Despite living just 8 miles away in Haverford, he sent back a letter saying he wanted nothing to do with the place. He was also a member of the 1918 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

October 11, 1915, 100 years ago: Game 3 of the World Series. The largest paid attendance that baseball has yet recorded, 42,300, crams into Braves Field, which the Red Sox use for the World Series this year, and in 1916 and 1918, because it's larger than Fenway Park. (The Braves are returning the favor the Sox did for them in 1914, when they left the small, outdated South End Grounds and Braves Field wasn't ready yet.)

Duffy Lewis singles home Harry Hooper in the bottom of the 9th for a 2-1 hometown win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Dutch Leonard walks none‚ yields 3 hits‚ and sets down the last 20 Phils to face him.

October 11, 1924: Malvin Greston Whitfield is born in Bay City, Texas. A graduate of the same Ohio State track & field program that had recently produced Jesse Owens, he was unable to compete in the 1944 Olympics because they were canceled due to World War II, in which he served as one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

He won the Gold Medal in the 800 meters at the 1948 Olympics in London, and repeated in the event in 1952 in Helsinki. In 1954, he won the James E. Sullivan Award, annually given to the best amateur athlete in America. For 47 years, he worked for the State Department, running athletic clinics in Africa, before retiring. He is still alive. CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield is his daughter.

October 11, 1921: Game 6 of the World Series. Emil Meusel, brother of the Yankees' Bob and known as "Irish" even though the family is German, hits a home run for the Giants. So does Frank Synder, and the Giants beat the Yankees 8-5, and tie the Series at 3 wins apiece.

Since this is the last best-5-out-of-9 World Series, Game 7 will not decide it. But it will go a long way toward deciding it.

October 11, 1923: Game 2 of the World Series. Babe Ruth hits 2 home runs, Aaron Ward hits 1, and the Yankees tie up the Series by beating the Giants 4-2.

October 11, 1925, 90 years ago: The New York Giants football team plays its 1st game against an actual NFL team, although it’s not one that most modern fans will recognize. At the Cycledrome, a stadium built for bicycle racing (a big sport in the Roaring Twenties), they lose 14-0 to the Providence Steam Roller.

This team, officially having no S on the end, was no pushover, and deserves to be remembered today: It will win the NFL Championship in 1928 (73 years before the Patriots will win New England’s next NFL title), and host the NFL’s first night game in 1930 (5 years before Major League Baseball allows games to be played under lights), before the Great Depression puts it out of business in 1931.

Although the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Providence Bruins are at the highest minor-league levels in their respective sports, the State of Rhode Island has never had another major league sports team: The closest they’ve come since is the Patriots, who since 1971 have played in stadiums in Foxboro, Massachusetts, 10 miles from the State Line, and closer to Kennedy Square in Providence than to Downtown Crossing in Boston.

Also on this day, Elmore John Leonard Jr. is born in New Orleans, but grew up in Detroit and was a hard-core Tigers fan.  Or, perhaps I should say, “hard-boiled” instead, as he was the writer of hard-boiled fiction.

Among his works that got turned into movies are Hombre (a Paul Newman film), 3:10 to Yuma (made with Glenn Ford and Van Heflin in 1957, and Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 2007), Mr. Majestyk (starring Charles Bronson), Get Shorty (with John Travolta), Out of Sight (in which George Clooney is a thief fooling around with the cop trying to catch him, played by Jennifer Lopez), and Rum Punch (which became the Quentin Trantino film Jackie Brown starring Pam Grier). He is also responsible for the story that became the TV series Justified. He died in 2013.

October 11, 1926: Myron Nathan Ginsberg is born in Manhattan. How he became Joe Ginsberg, I don't know. He caught one of Virgil Trucks' 2 no-hitters in 1952, was a member of the Cleveland Indians' Pennant winners of 1954, and was one of the several catchers the Mets tried in their inaugural season of 1962. He died in 2012.


October 11, 1930: Reuben LaVell Edwards is born in Orem, Utah. In spite of playing football at Utah State University and getting a master's degree at the University of Utah, he coached at Brigham Young University, as an assistant starting in 1962 and then as head coach from 1972 to 2000.

He won 257 games, 19 Conference Championships (the 1st 18 in the Western Athletic Conference, the last in the Mountain West), and a dubious but official National Championship in 1984. BYU's former Cougar Stadium is named for him, and he's in the College Football Hall of Fame. His former assistants include MIke Holmgren, Brian Billick and Andy Reid.

October 11, 1934: Burleigh Grimes is released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the age of 41, he was the last remaining pitcher who had an exemption from the rule banning all doctored pitches that fell under the umbrella term "spitball." In 1935, he would go 10-5 as pitcher and manager of the Bloomington Bloomers of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (a.k.a. the Three-I League), and then hang up his spikes. He lived long enough to accept his election to the Hall of Fame.

October 11, 1937: Robert Charlton (no middle name) is born in Ashington, Northumberland, England. A cousin of Newcastle United legend Jackie Milburn, it was Manchester United that took an interest in the young forward. He became one of manager Matt Busby's "Busby Babes" that won the English Football League in 1957.

But their plane crashed in Munich, Germany after a refueling stop on the way back from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade in 1958, ending the would-be dynasty. Off the 44 people on board, 23 died. There were 17 people connected with the club on board, and 8 players died, while 2 others were so badly hurt that they never played again. Busby himself was badly hurt. Bobby survived with minor injuries, and recovered in time to play in the FA Cup Final, which a weakened United lost to Bolton Wanderers. (He had also played in the 1957 Final, losing to Aston Villa.)

By 1963, United were still not doing well in he League, but they won the FA Cup, beating Leicester City in the Final. In 1965, Bobby, Scotsman Denis Law and Northern Irishman George Best had become "United's Holy Trinity," and they won the League title. They won it again in 1967, and became the 1st English team to win the European Cup, defeating Benfica of Lisbon, Portugal in the Final. (Celtic, of Glasgow, Scotland, were the 1st British team to win it, the year before.)

He was selected for England in the 1958 World Cup, but didn't play. Many Englishmen believe that the Munich Air Disaster prevented England from winning the World Cup in 1958 and 1962, forgetting that Brazil would have wrecked them as they wrecked everybody else. Bobby did play in 1962, and in 1966 was joined by his brother Jack, who starred for Leeds United (and later famously managed the Republic of Ireland national team), and his Man United teammate Nobby Stiles. England won on home soil, with Bobby scoring twice in the Semifinal against Portugal and then winning the Final over West Germany.

Bobby won 2 Golden Balls in 1966: As outstanding player of the World Cup, and the Ballon d'Or as world player of the year. He continued to play for Man United through 1973, scoring 249 goals. His receding hairline earned him the nickname "Captain Combover," before he finally accepted reality and went fully bald. He played for England again in the 1970 World Cup, and became the national side's all-time leading scorer, a record recently broken by current Man United player (and victim of hair loss) Wayne Rooney.

He was knighted for his service to sport and country, and remains one of the most beloved figures in the history of soccer, possibly England's greatest player ever -- or, at least, one of the top two, alongside his 1966 Captain, West Ham United defender Bobby Moore. For fans not old enough to have seen 1930s Everton star Dixie Dean, or his Newcastle-starring cousin Jackie Milburn, he remains England's definitive Number 9. And, unlike many other attacking players for Man U, he was never once accused of diving to win a penalty.


October 11, 1943: The Yankees defeat the Cardinals, 2-0 at Sportsman’s Park, to take Game 5 and the World Series. It is the Yankees’ 10th World Championship. It will be 2006, and the Cardinals themselves, before another team wins a 10th World Series.

Bloomfield, New Jersey native Hank Borowy was the last surviving player from the Yankees' 1943 World Champions, living until 2004.

October 11, 1944: Michael Gary Joseph Fiore is born in Brooklyn. Mike was basically a journeyman, but on April 13, 1969, the 1st baseman hit the first home run in Kansas City Royals history, off John “Blue Moon” Odom of the Oakland Athletics – appropriately enough, the team whose move out of Kansas City had made the Royals possible. He remained in the majors until 1972.

Also on this day, Rodney William Marsh is born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. He isn't quite the soccer legend that Sir Bobby Charlton is -- few ever have been -- but he starred at forward for West London club Queens Park Rangers and for Manchester City, before coming to the U.S. to play for the North American Soccer League's Tampa Bay Rowdies. He helped QPR win their only major trophy, the 1967 League Cup, and got the Rowdies into the 1978 and '79 Soccer Bowls. He later had a media career.

October 11, 1946: In one of the rare trades that works out well for both teams, the Yankees trade Joe Gordon, Allie Clark and Ed Bockman to the Cleveland Indians for Allie Reynolds. Gordon, a future Hall-of-Famer, and Clark, a native of South Amboy, New Jersey, would help the Indians win the 1948 World Series.

Dan Daniel, the legendary sports columnist of the New York World-Telegram, will later report that Yankee GM Larry MacPhail and newly-hired manager Bucky Harris originally wanted another Cleveland pitcher, Red Embree. But, Daniel said, Joe DiMaggio advised them to take Reynolds, a part-Cherokee pitcher from Oklahoma, whose record with (perhaps appropriately) the Indians had not been good, but DiMaggio had never been able to hit him well.

The Yankee Clipper guessed well, as “the Superchief” (Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen nicknamed him that not just for his heritage but because his fastball reminded Allen of the Santa Fe Railroad’s fast Chicago-to-Los Angeles train “the Super Chief”) began a portion of his career that put him in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. Had he come along 30 years later, with his fastball and his attitude, he might have been a Hall of Fame closer.

It is around this time that, allegedly, MacPhail and Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey had been drinking (as both men liked to do -- a lot), and wrote out on a cocktail napkin an agreement to trade their biggest stars for each other, Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams.

At first glance, it looked like a great idea: DiMaggio, a righthanded hitter, hated hitting into Yankee Stadium’s left- and center-field “Death Valley,” while at Fenway Park he would have the nice close left-field wall -- whose advertisements would come down in this off-season, debuting nice and clean and green for 1947, giving rise to the nickname “the Green Monster.” While Williams, hitting to a right field that was 380 feet straightaway at Fenway, would flourish with Yankee Stadium’s right field “short porch.”

But it wouldn’t have been a good trade. DiMaggio wouldn’t have been happy in the smaller city of Boston, and he would have forced his brother Dom to move out of center field. And Williams, who had enough problems with the media in Boston, would have been scorched by the press of much bigger New York.

Neither man would have closed his career as well as he actually did: DiMaggio might have outright retired after his 1948 heel spurs (at age 34), and Williams might have said the hell with it at the end of his Korean War service in 1953 and retired (at 35).

Why did the trade not happen? Supposedly, in the morning, Yawkey sobered up and decided that Williams was more valuable than DiMaggio. (Yeah, right: Ted was a great hitter; Joe was a great hitter and a great fielder.) So he called up MacPhail and demanded a throw-in. A rookie left fielder who could also catch a little. MacPhail refused, and the deal collapsed. The rookie’s name was Larry Berra. Yes, Yogi, although the nickname he already had was not yet widely known.

October 11, 1947: Thomas M. Boswell is born in Washington, D.C. The longtime columnist for the Washington Post helped keep alive the flame of baseball fandom in the Nation’s Capital, never ceasing in his belief that the city needed to get Major League Baseball back after Bob Short moved the Senators to Texas in 1971.

He spoke nobly in Ken Burns’ Baseball miniseries about Senators legend Walter Johnson ("We live in a disposable society, but we don't dispose of Babe Ruth, we don't dispose of Walter Johnson, and we treat these men as family, and as contemporaries though they are dead."), and poignantly about the fall of Pete Rose ("We want our heroes to be good at life.")

However, his job also led him to cover the team then closest to D.C., and that was the Baltimore Orioles (which led Burns to ask him about O’s manager Earl Weaver).  Covering the Orioles allowed Boswell to become part of the propaganda machine for Cal Ripken.

His books include Why Time Begins On Opening Day, and How Life Imitates the World Series. The former book is sunny and optimistic, like Opening Day itself; the latter is more serious, suggesting the pressure that comes with October play.

October 11, 1948: At Braves Field, the Indians defeat the Braves behind “rookie” 30-year-old knuckleballer Gene Bearden, 4-3, and take Game 6 and win the World Series. It is their 2nd title, the first coming in 1920. Despite some agonizing close calls in 1952, ’54, ’59, ’95, ’97, ‘98 and 2007, and nearly 2 generations of never even being in a Pennant race from 1960 to 1993, the Indians have never won another World Series.

But at least they’re still in Cleveland, despite a number of fears of having to move in the 1960s, ’70s and ‘80s. In contrast, despite all their success in the 19th Century and winning Pennants in 1914 and 1948, this was the last late-season meaningful game the Boston franchise of the National League would ever play. The Braves would be in Milwaukee by the next time they reached the Series.

There is 1 surviving player from each of these teams, 67 years later: The Indians' Eddie Robinson and the Braves' Clint Conatser.


October 11, 1953: Gordie Howe scores a goal, assists on one by Red Kelly, and wins a fight against Fern Flaman. The Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit.

Eventually, scoring a goal, assisting on another, and getting into a fight, all in the same game, would become known as a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick." This was the 1st time Howe himself did it. But despite the longest career in NHL history, being the NHL's all-time leader in both goals and assists at his retirement (both of them, actually), and getting into quite a few fights, he only did it twice. This 1st was at the beginning of this season (it was only the Wings' 3rd game), and the other was at the end, in the last game of the regular season, also against the Leafs at the Olympia: He scored, assisted on 2 goals by Ted Lindsay, and fought Ted "Teeder" Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedys of American politics).

Like many other statistics, including such made-up ones like the triple-double in basketball, checking the history of Gordie Howe Hat Tricks is retroactive. It's been determined that the 1st one in NHL play was by Harry Cameron, a Hall-of-Famer for the Toronto St. Patricks (the team that became the Maple Leafs), on December 22, 1920 -- nearly 8 years before Howe was born.

Ironically, the all-time leader in Gordie Howe Hat Tricks is the man who is now the NHL's chief disciplinary officer: Brendan Shanahan, with 17. He starred with the New Jersey Devils, was essentially traded to the St. Louis Blues for Scott Stevens in 1991, and helped the Wings win the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002. If the Playoffs are included, then the leader is Rick Tocchet, who had 18 from 1985 to 2000.

October 11, 1955, 60 years ago: Norman Ellard Nixon is born in Macon, Georgia. The point guard was a 2-time All-Star with the Lakers, and won the 1980 and 1982 NBA Championships with them. He later became a player agent, and is now a studio analyst with Fox Sports.

He was married to actress Debbie Allen, and they both appeared, along with his Laker teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the film's hero, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, in The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. Norm's son DeVaughn Nixon is an actor.

October 11, 1956: AL President Will Harridge announces that Calvin Griffith, who has owned the Senators for a year since the death of his uncle Clark, cannot move the team to Los Angeles as he would like, unless unanimously approved by the other AL owners. It doesn't happen, and he's stuck in D.C. -- for now.

Over 20 years later, he will admit the real reason he wanted to leave Washington: Not that Griffith Stadium was too small, or that D.C. was a bad baseball market, but because it was becoming a majority-black city. That's why he eventually chose Minnesota: It was the whitest major city in America at the time.

October 10, 1960: Curtiss Glen Ford is born in Jackson, Mississippi. An outfielder, he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' 1985 and '87 Pennant winners. He recently managed a minor-league team in the St. Louis area.

October 10, 1961: Jon Steven Young is born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but grows up in the New York Tri-State Area, in Greenwich, Connecticut. A great-great-great-grandson of Mormon leader Brigham Young, Steve quarterbacked the university named for him, before being signed by the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League to one of the most ridiculous contracts ever negotiated. As punishment, he had to play for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the Express folded, and was stuck as Joe Montana's backup on the San Francisco 49ers after that.

But once Montana got hurt, he became a 2-time NFL MVP, and the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX, throwing 6 touchdown passes, a Super Bowl record even Montana couldn't touch. In all, he has 3 Super Bowl rings, though he only played in the 1. He made 7 Pro Bowls, becoming the best lefthanded quarterback ever.

The 49ers retired his Number 8, and he's in the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He now has a media career, as a studio analyst for ESPN and a talk-show host at San Francisco's KNBR radio.

October 11, 1963: Ronny Rosenthal (apparently, his full name) is born in Haifa, Israel. The soccer winger helped Maccabi Haifa win Israel's top league in 1984 and '85, Club Brugge win Belgium's in 1988, and Liverpool win England's in 1990. He was the 1st non-British player to move to a British club for a fee in excess of £1 million. 

October 11, 1964: Al Downing is cruising through the 1st 5 innings of Game 4 of the World Series, but he loads the bases in the 6th, and Ken Boyer, the Cardinal Captain and 3rd baseman who will soon be named NL MVP, hits a grand slam. The 4 runs his hit drives in are all the runs the Cards get, but that’s all they need, as they beat the Yankees 4-3, and tie up the Series at 2 games apiece.

This is not the most famous home run Downing will ever give up -- 9 1/2 years later, pitching for the Dodgers, he will give up Hank Aaron's 715 career homer -- but it is the most damaging. However, there were plenty of reasons the Cardinals ended up winning this Series, and Downing shouldn't be blamed -- at least, not more than any other Yankee. Winning is a team effort, and so is losing.

October 11, 1967: Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli hit the only back-to-back-to-back home runs in World Series history. Petrocelli adds another, and the Red Sox defeat the Cardinals, 8-4 at Fenway Park, and send the World Series to a deciding Game 7.

Cardinal manager Red Schoendienst, himself a World Series winner as a player with the Cardinals of 1946 and the Milwaukee Braves of 1957, announces his choice to pitch Game 7: Bob Gibson, on 3 days rest. Sox manager Dick Williams, knowing that his ace, Jim Lonborg, would have only 2 days rest, announces his starter to the Boston media: “Lonborg and champagne.”

Those words are put on the front page of the Boston Globe the next day, and it ticks the Cards off. And the last thing anyone wants to see in a World Series game is a ticked-off Bob Gibson.

Also on this day, former Dodger star Gil Hodges, who married a Brooklyn woman, Joan Lombardi, and stayed in the Borough after the Dodgers moved, leaves the managerial post of the Washington Senators to become the manager of the Mets. The Mets do compensate the Senators. Hodges will only manage the Mets for 4 seasons before a heart attack claims his life, but one of those seasons will be the Miracle of ’69.

This is also a huge day in the history of the National Hockey League, as five of its "Second Six" expansion teams play their 1st regular season games on this day. (The Los Angeles Kings will debut on October 14.) At the Oakland Coliseum Arena (now named the Oracle Arena), the Oakland Seals defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-1. Bill Sutherland scores the 1st Flyer goal.

This is a false dawn, as the Flyers will finish 1st in the NHL Western Division, be mostly competitive until the late 1980s, and win the 1974 and '75 Stanley Cups; while the team later known as the California Golden Seals will make the Playoffs just once before moving to become the Cleveland Browns in 1976, and in 1978 becoming the last major league sports team to date to actually fold.

At the St. Louis Arena, the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota North Stars play to a 2-2 tie. Larry Keenan scored the 1st goal for St. Louis, Bill Masterton, a longtime minor-league star finally getting his chance with expansion, scores the 1st for Minnesota. But, with no helmet and a shaved head offering no protection, later in the season, he will hit his head on the ice, and become the only player in the League's 98-year history (so far) to die as the direct result of an in-game injury. The NHL will dedicate an annual trophy for perseverance and courage in his memory.

At Pittsburgh's Civic Arena, former Ranger star Andy Bathgate scores the 1st goal in Pittsburgh Penguins history, but they lose 2-1 to the Montreal Canadiens, as Jean Beliveau scores his 400th career NHL goal.

October 11, 1968: Billy Martin, age 40, gets his 1st managing job, with the Minnesota Twins. Over a 20-year career, he will manage Minnesota, Detroit, the Yankees and Oakland into the postseason, and Texas to its highest finish until the 1996 season -- but only the Yankees will he get into the World Series, and, for all his "genius," he wins just 1 World Series.

Also on this day, the expansion Seattle Pilots hire their 1st manager, Cardinals coach Joe Schultz. His tenure with the Cardinals, owned by beer baron Gussie Busch, has already had a tremendous effect on him: According to Ball Four, former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton's diary of the 1969 season, Schultz will frequently tell his Pilots to "Go get 'em, and then go pound that Budweiser!" He forgot that he no longer had to toe the company line, now that he'd left the company. (As Leonard Nimoy would say, his language would also contain some colorful metaphors.)

Also on this day, Claude Lapointe (unusually for a French-Canadian, no middle name) is born in the Montreal suburb of Lachine, Quebec. A center, he played for the Quebec Nordiques, moved with them to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche, and won the Stanley Cup in 1996. He later played for the Islanders.

October 11, 1969: As expected, the New York Mets lose the 1st World Series game in franchise history, as Don Buford hits a leadoff home run off Met ace Tom Seaver, and the Orioles win, 4-1. Most people expected the O’s to win this game, and to win the Series. But, as it turns out, they will not win another game that counts until April 7, 1970.

Fast facts with which you can amaze your friends: The Mets have been in 4 World Series, and have never won Game 1 -- including in the Series they have ended up winning. They won Game 2 in 1969 and ’73; Game 3 in ’69, ’86 and 2000; Game 4 in ’69, ’73 and ’86; Game 5 in ’69 and ’73; Game 6 in ’86; and Game 7 in ’86. They lost Game 1 in 1969, ’73, ’86 and 2000; Game 2 in ’86 and 2000; Game 3 in ’73; Game 4 in 2000; Game 5 in ’86 and 2000; Game 6 in ’73; and Game 7 in ’73.

This is also the day on which the film Frequency begins, a sort-of time travel story involving a fireman father (Dennis Quaid) and a cop son (Jim Caviezel) who must solve a mystery across time and a ham radio set, while the Mets pursue their "Miracle."

Also on this day, the football team of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point -- usually called just "Army" plays the University of Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. It is the 22nd and last time it will be played in The House That Ruth Built. It is a mismatch: Army had given up being a big-time football program, and Notre Dame, led by local boy Joe Theismann of South River, New Jersey, had not. The Fighting Irish win, 45-0.

The matchup has been played 50 times (not every year) since 1913, and it's a mismatch, hardly worthy of the term "rivalry": Notre Dame has won it 38 times, Army only 8 (and not at all since 1958), and there have been 4 ties.

It's been played in the New York Tri-State Area 39 times. Ten of these were on the West Point campus: 1 at Michie Stadium, the Cadets'/Black Knights' home since 1924; and 9 times at their previous field, known only as "The Plain." Old Yankee Stadium hosted 22 times, Giants Stadium 3, and once each at the new Yankee Stadium (the most recent game, in 2010, a 27-3 Notre Dame win), Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium. It's been played on Notre Dame's campus in South Bend, Indiana 9 times, once at Municipal/John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, and once at Soldier Field in Chicago.


October 11, 1970: The love affair between Boston Red Sox fans and local boy Tony Conigliaro comes to an end – or, as it turned out, an interruption – as the Sox trade him to the California Angels for 2nd baseman Doug Griffin.

Despite a courageous comeback from his August 18, 1967 beaning, his eyesight had begun to deteriorate again, and he was making a nuisance of himself within the organization. There was also dissension between him and his brother and teammate, Billy Conigliaro.

The fans, knowing little about this, were shocked, but the team decided that Tony C had to go. He would be back for the Sox, twice, both times briefly: First as a player in 1975, but was released before they won the Pennant; and then as an interviewee for a broadcast position in 1982. But his playing career would end with a fizzle, and his useful life with a tragedy.

October 11, 1971: Just one year to the day after trading Tony C, the Red Sox trade his brother Billy, and the pitching hero of the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Pennant, Jim Lonborg, who hadn’t been the same since a skiing accident following that season. They are sent to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with 1st baseman George Scott.

Although Lonborg turned out to still have something left, as he went on to help the Phillies make the Playoffs 3 times, letting go of Scott turned out to be the bigger mistake, as they really could have used his bat in 1972, ’73, ’74 and ’75.

And what did the Sox get in this trade? Pitchers Marty Pattin and Lew Krausse, and outfielder Tommy Harper. Harper would be a good hitter and baserunner, but nothing Earth-shaking. Pattin would also not develop into much in Boston, although he would become a good pitcher later in Kansas City. (He also turned out to be the last member of the 1969 Seattle Pilots still active in the majors.) Krausse was pretty much finished.

By the time the Sox won the Pennant again in 1975, all 3 of them were gone, and after losing the World Series that year, the Sox would trade 1st baseman Cecil Cooper to the Brewers to get Scott back. Trading him away was a mistake, and, considering how fat Scott got and how good Cooper got, getting Scott back wasn’t a good idea, either.

October 11, 1972: The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning of the final game of the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. But Johnny Bench hits a home run off Dave Guisti, over the left-field fence to tie the game‚ over the head of the Pirates’ legendary right fielder, Roberto Clemente, who had joined the 3,000 Hit Club just 2 weeks earlier. The Reds collect 2 more singles, and Bob Moose, who had come in to relieve Guisti, throws a wild pitch, and the Reds win, 4-3.

Not since Jack Chesbro in 1904 had a wild pitch decided a Pennant, and not since Johnny Miljus in the 1927 World Series had a wild pitch ended a postseason series. By a weird coincidence, Miljus threw his wild pitch as a Pirate, and Chesbro had also pitched for them before coming to the Highlanders/Yankees.

The Reds, taking their 2nd Pennant in 3 years, would go on to lose the World Series to the Oakland A’s. The Pirates, having won their 3rd straight NL East title but having only 1 Pennant to show for it, would lose something far greater: A plane crash on New Year’s Eve would make this game the last one that Clemente would ever play.

This was also the opening night of the World Hockey Association. The 1st game is played at the Edmonton Gardens, and the Alberta Oilers -- they would switch from the Province's name to the City's the next season -- beat the Ottawa Nationals 7-4. Ron Anderson scores the team's 1st goal.

The Quebec Nordiques, trying to get good publicity, named Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice "the Rocket" Richard as head coach, but they lose their 1st game, 2-0 to the Cleveland Crusaders at the Cleveland Arena. Richard immediately quits, saying he wasn't meant to be a coach. Nords management asks him to stay on long enough to hire a replacement. They win their 2nd game, but the Rocket has had enough, and Maurice Filion is hired.

October 11, 1973: Dmitri Dell Young is born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and grows up in Oxnard, California. The slugging 1st baseman known as “Da Meathook” helped the Cardinals reach the postseason in 1996, although personal problems and diabetes led the Detroit Tigers to release him in 2006 before they could win that season’s AL Pennant.

He is now retired, and runs a charity in Southern California.  His brother Delmon Young is now with the Orioles, after having been a key cog for the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.

Also on this day Steven John Pressley in Elgin, Scotland. The centreback is one of the few players to win the Scottish soccer league with both of the mutually-loathing Glasgow giants: With Rangers in 1993 and 1994 (also the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup in 1993, making a Treble), and with Celtic in 2007 (also the Scottish Cup, making a Double). He also won the Scottish Cup with Edinburgh club Heart of Midlothian, a.k.a. Hearts, in 2006. He is now the manager of Fleetwood Town, a Lancashire club in England's 3rd division.

October 11, 1974: Billy Joel releases his album Streetlife Serenade. It's far from being his best work, but it does have 3 gems: "Streetlife Serenader," his tribute to his fellow suburban Long Island Baby Boomers; "The Entertainer," showing his disillusionment with stardom even though he's only 25 years old; and "Los Angelenos," a very nasty take on the city that made him both miserable and famous.

No wonder that, 15 years later, he included a reference to "California baseball" in "We Didn't Start the Fire," and began flipping the bird at the words in concert, inevitably getting cheers at all his concerts in New York. And Philadelphia. And Boston. (I'm presuming he didn't do that in San Francisco or San Diego, no matter how much they might hate the Dodgers.)

October 11, 1975, 40 years ago: Luis Tiant -- like El Duque a Cuban with weird mound mannerisms, and like El Duque and Satchel Paige encouraging questions about his age, apparently approaching his 35th birthday at this point -- shuts down the Big Red Machine, and drives in the 1st run (despite the designated hitter preventing him from coming to bat all season long), as the Red Sox win the opening game of the World Series, 6-0 over the Cincinnati Reds at Fenway Park. The Sox score all their runs in the 7th. One of the most talked-about World Series is underway with a surprising flourish.

Earlier that day, Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton are married in their living room in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Despite all odds – including “self-inflicted wounds,” and rooting for rivals, as Hillary grew up in the Chicago suburbs as a Cubs fan, Bill in Arkansas as a Cardinals fan – they are still together, dividing their time between Washington, D.C. and Westchester County, New York, and are now grandparents.

Later that night, Saturday Night premieres on NBC. After this 1st season, it will be renamed Saturday Night Live. The first cast, “the Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” includes John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin and Garrett Morris -- but not, as is commonly believed, Bill Murray, who replaced Chase after 1 season.

The 1st guest host is George Carlin, who begins his monologue with a whacked-out version of the Lord’s Prayer, and goes on to do his now-classic routine “Baseball and Football.” (This version is from 1990, from the State Theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey.)
Not long before Carlin died, someone took a poll to determine the greatest standup comedians of all time. Carlin came in 2nd. Coming in 1st was Richard Pryor, who, like Carlin, was at the peak of his powers in the mid-Seventies.

A month into SNL’s run, Pryor was asked to host the show. But, nervous that he would issue some four-letter words — they didn’t seem as nervous about such language coming from Carlin, creator of the bit “Seven Words You Can Never Use On Television,” none of which he used when he hosted -- the show was not quite “Live, from New York.” They used a 7-second delay, in case they had to bleep anything out. They did. Ever since, even SNL hasn’t been totally live.

October 11, 1977: The Yankees win Game 1 of the World Series in 12 innings, beating the Dodgers 4-3, as Paul Blair singles home Willie Randolph.

And, apparently, the scene shown taking place before that game in the miniseries The Bronx Is Burning actually happened: George Steinbrenner really did leave 20 tickets to be given to Joe DiMaggio at the Yankee Stadium will-call window for this game, but the tickets weren’t at the window, and there really was a brouhaha about it, before Joe and George smoothed things out, allowing Joe to throw out the first ball before Game 6.

On this same day, Ty Allen Wigginton is born in San Diego. One of several bright young stars for the New York Mets who never did quite pan out, he did at least make the AL All-Star Team as an Oriole in 2010. But the Cardinals released him before he could play with them in the 2013 World Series, and he hasn't played in the majors since. He is now the head coach at Lake Norman High Schoolin Mooresville, North Carolina.

October 11, 1978: The Dodgers go 2 games up with a 4-3 win in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. Ron Cey drives in all the Dodger runs, and Reggie Jackson does the same for the Yankees. But Bob Welch saves Burt Hooton’s win in dramatic fashion by striking out Jackson in the 9th inning.

The only teams that have ever come back from 2 games to 0 to win the Series have been the ’55 Dodgers and the '56 Yankees. The Bronx Bombers are in deep trouble, and the people who said the Dodgers would overturn the result of last year's Series are looking very smart.

They're not.

October 11, 1979: The Minnesota North Stars defeat the Hartford Whalers, 4-1 at the Metropolitan Sports Center in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. But that's not the big story. The big story is that Gordie Howe has returned to the NHL after 8 years.

While the Detroit Red Wings still held his NHL rights even though he had retired 8 years earlier, and Wings owner Bruce Norris (a real prick) swore that Gordie would never play in the NHL again, and that his sons Mark and Marty wouldn't, either, the Whalers and Red Wings reached a gentleman's agreement in which the Red Wings agreed not to reclaim him. Mark and Marty would also play for the Whalers in the NHL, who had been known as the New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association, before being let into the NHL along with the Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.

Gordie, 51, signed on for one final season, and played in all 80 games of the schedule, helping his team to make the Playoffs with 15 goals, giving him a record 801 in NHL play. One particular honor was when Howe, Phil Esposito, and Jean Ratelle were selected to the mid-season All-Star Game by coach Scotty Bowman, as a nod to their storied careers before they retired. Howe had played in 5 decades of All-Star Games, and he would skate alongside the 2nd-youngest to ever play in an All-Star Game, 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky, who would break his career goal-scoring record in 1994. As it happened, the game was played in Detroit, at the new Joe Louis Arena. The Detroit crowd gave him a standing ovation twice, lasting so long that he had to skate to the bench to stop people from cheering. He had one assist in the Wales Conference's 6–3 win.


October 11, 1980: In one of the most exciting and controversial games in postseason history‚ the Phillies tie the NLCS at 2 games apiece with a 10-inning 5-3 win over the Astros at the Astrodome.

In the 4th inning‚ Houston is deprived of an apparent triple play when the umpires rule that pitcher Vern Ruhle had trapped Garry Maddox’s soft line drive. In the 6th‚ Houston loses a run when Gary Woods leaves the base early on Luis Pujols’ would-be sacrifice fly. (Luis, a future big-league manager, is no relation to Albert Pujols.)

On this same day, the Dallas Mavericks make their NBA debut. They win, beating their fellow Texans, the San Antonio Spurs, 103-92 at Reunion Arena.

October 11, 1981: The Yankees won the 1st 2 games of their strike-forced Playoff series for the AL East title in Milwaukee. But the Brewers, playing in their 1st postseason series (and the 1st by any Milwaukee baseball team since the ’59 Braves), won the next 2 at Yankee Stadium, forcing a deciding Game 5.

This led to a postgame locker room tirade by George Steinbrenner, lambasting the players, telling them how they had let him down, and how they had let New York down. Trying to play peacemaker, Bobby Murcer said, “Now is not the time, George, now is not the time.” George insisted that it was the time, and continued to rant, until catcher Rick Cerone stood up and told The Boss, “Fuck you, George.” Stunned, George left the room.

So, on this night, back-to-back home runs by Reggie Jackson and Oscar Gamble, and a later homer by, yes, Cerone give the Yanks a 7-3 victory over the Brewers, and the series. The Yanks will move on to face the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS. The Brewers, however, will be back.

On this same day, the Playoff for the NL East is won by Steve Rogers. No, not Captain America:
This one doesn’t even work in America. Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos drives in 2 runs and shuts out the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Expos win, 3-0, in Game 5 of the series.

In 47 seasons of play, this remains the only postseason series ever won by the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise.

October 11, 1982: Terrell Raymonn Suggs is born in Minneapolis. A 6-time Pro Bowler, the linebacker is the all-time sacks leader for the Baltimore Ravens, was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, and the next season helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII. But a preseason injury has left him out for this season.

Also on this day, Jeffrey David Larish is born in Iowa City, Iowa, and grows up in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Arizona. He briefly played for the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics from 2008 to 2010.

October 11, 1985, 30 years ago: Hurricane Gloria hits the New York Tri-State Area. This was a Friday afternoon. It was supposed to hit the next morning, threatening a football game at East Brunswick High School. Instead, it soaks the Friday boys' soccer game against Sayreville, who, at that point, had never beaten us in that sport -- and the game was played anyway, and they took a 1-0 lead! That woke us up, though, and we won, 4-1.

The next day was beautiful, a perfect fall afternoon for football. But the grass at Jay Doyle Field was still soaked, so the game had to be postponed until the next day, the 1st time in our 25-year history that EBHS ever played on a Sunday. We beat highly regarded Edison, 22-14, to advance to 3-0.

This is also the date on which events in the alternate history of “Watchmen” begin. The fact that Hurricane Gloria was fading out to sea that night means that it really was raining when the Comedian was killed.

October 11, 1986: Former Detroit Tigers star Norm Cash dies when he slips off his boat on Lake Michigan, hits his head, and falls into the lake and drowns. One of the most beloved Tigers of all time, a former batting champion, a man who had slugged 377 home runs, and a member of their 1968 World Champions, he was only 51.

On the same day, Game 3 of the NLCS is played at Shea Stadium. Lenny Dykstra tees off on Dave Smith of the Astros, and becomes the 1st Met to hit a postseason walkoff home run. Mets 6, Astros 5. The Mets lead 2 games to 1.

October 11, 1987: The Dallas Cowboys break the NFL strike, while the Philadelphia Eagles remain committed to the players they've used since the regulars walked off. The Cowboys win 41-22, and Eagles coach Buddy Ryan told the media that the Cowboys were taking cheap shots against his under-experienced side. Buddy would remember.

Also on this day, Michael Alex Conley Jr. is born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where his father also named Mike Conley, was attending the University of Arkansas. Mike Sr. would win a Gold Medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Mike Jr. was a point guard at Ohio State, and has been with the Memphis Grizzlies since 2007.

On this same day, Anthony Benjamin Beltran is born in the Los Angeles suburb of Claremont, California. The right back plays for Real Salt Lake, helping them win the 2009 MLS Cup.

October 11, 1988: David Cone, not yet a Met when they won their 1986 title, comes through big-time, allowing only 5 hits in a complete-game 5-1 victory over the Dodgers, sending the NLCS to a Game 7.

On this same day, Omar Alejandro Gonzalez is born in Dallas. A centreback, he has helped the LA Galaxy (officially just the letters, no periods, not the full city name) win the MLS Cup in 2011, '12 and '14. He was a member of the U.S. team at the 2014 World Cup.


October 11, 1993: The Phillies notch their 2nd 4-3‚ 10-inning victory of the NLCS and take a 3-games-to-2 lead over the Braves. As with that earlier bit of modern-day ruffians, the '86 Mets, it is Lenny Dykstra who wins it for "Macho Row," with a home run off Mark Wohlers. Darren Daulton also knocks a round-tripper.

October 11, 1996: Game 3 of the ALCS at Camden Yards. The Orioles won Game 2 after the controversial Yankee win in Game 1, and lead 2-1 in the top of the 8th.

But Derek Jeter doubles, and is singled home by Bernie Williams to tie it. Then it gets bizarre: Tino Martinez doubles to left, sending Bernie to 3rd base. Todd Zeile -- a good hitter who had homered earlier in the game, but made more errors than any other player in the 1990s -- takes the relay throw from left field, and fakes throwing to 2nd... and drops the ball, rolling toward Cal Ripken. Bernie sees this, takes off and scores, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

This may have rattled Mike Mussina, who'd been dueling pretty well with Jimmy Key until now. He hangs a curveball to Cecil Fielder, who hangs it into the left field stands. That made it 5-2 Yankees, and that was the final score.

If Oriole fans are still bitter about the Jeffrey Maier incident in Game 1, they need to think again, and look at the Zeile play. That's where they lost this series. It also may have convinced the Oriole brass to move Ripken from short to 3rd, and get rid of Zeile, who did play another 8 years in the majors, including for both New York teams.

October 11, 1997: Game 3 of the ALCS. The Orioles waste a masterful pitching performance from Mussina, as Cleveland scores a run in the bottom of the 12th inning when Marquis Grissom steals home on a botched bunt attempt. Baltimore catcher Lenny Webster fails to chase after the ball‚ which he is sure was tipped by batter Omar Vizquel.

Mussina gives up only 3 hits and 1 run in 7 innings‚ while striking out 15 Indians, still an ALCS record. Orel Hershiser holds Baltimore scoreless through 7 innings‚ allowing only 4 hits‚ as the Indians win‚ 2-1, which is also the lead they now hold in the series.

October 11, 1998: Game 5 of the ALCS at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. The series, already full of interesting moments, is tied, and the feeling before the game was that the winner of this game would take the series.

The Yankees once again take the early lead with a 3-run 1st inning, but the Indians respond. A leadoff homer by Kenny Lofton and a sacrifice fly by Manny Ramírez (not yet using steroids, as far as we know) make it a 1-run game. Paul O’Neill singles home a run in the 2nd to make it 4–2 Yankees. Chili Davis homers in the 4th to put the Yankees ahead by 3, but Jim Thome, who always hits the Yankees well, hits his 3rd homer of the series in the bottom of the 6th to make it a 2-run game.

Chuck Knoblauch, still fighting for redemption after his Game 2 “brainlauch,” starts a key 4-6-3 double play in the 8th inning for the 2nd night in a row. David Wells, who claimed to have heard Indian fans insulting his dead mother all through the game, and the Yankee bullpen hold off any further Indians scoring, and the Yankees win 5-3. The series goes back to The Bronx, with the Bombers are 1 win away from the Pennant.

October 11, 1999: The Red Sox defeat the Indians‚ 12-8‚ to win their ALDS, 3 games to 2. Troy O'Leary's 2 homers‚ including a grand slam‚ power the Sox to the victory‚ as the outfielder drives home 7 of Boston's runs. Nomar Garciaparra draws 2 intentional walks, and, both times, O'Leary follows with a homer. Pedro Martinez picks up the win by hurling 6 hitless innings in relief of Derek Lowe.


October 11, 2000: The Yankees, who slouched into the postseason, losing 16 of their last 19 games, snap out of a 21-inning scoreless streak, scoring 7 runs in the bottom of the 8th, including a home run by Jorge Posada, and beat the Seattle Mariners 7-1, tying the ALCS at 1 game apiece. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez improves his postseason record to 7-0.

Also on this night, the expansion Minnesota Wild play their 1st home game, at the Xcel Energy Center, built on the site of the old St. Paul Civic Center. They get goals from Marian Gaborik, Darby Hendrickson and Wes Walz, but that's not enough, as the Philadelphia Flyers play them to a 3-3 tie.

October 11, 2003: Pedro Martinez commits 3 felonies: Assault with a deadly weapon on Karim Garcia, conspiracy to commit murder against Jorge Posada, and assault (and possibly attempted murder) on Don Zimmer.

In spite of this, he is not arrested. The felonies, after all, occurred at Fenway Park, not Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 3-2, with Roger Clemens outpitching Martinez, and take a 2-games-to-1 lead in the ALCS.

The New York Post, in one of the rare instances in which I agree with it, labeled Pedro the Fenway Punk. Ever since, he has been the opposing athlete I have loathed the most. Which is why my favorite home run of all time is no longer the one that Aaron Boone hit 5 days later, but the one Hideki Matsui hit off Pedro to clinch the 2009 World Series -- which turned out to be Pedro's last game in the major leagues.

On the same day, the Cubs beat the Florida Marlins 8-3 at Pro Player (Joe Robbie/Land Shark/Sun Life) Stadium, and take a 3-games-to-1 lead in the NLCS. Just 1 more win, and the Cubs will have their 1st Pennant in 58 years.

They're still looking for that 1 more NLCS win.

October 11, 2004: The Houston Astros win a postseason series for the 1st time in their 43-season history, defeating the Braves‚ 12-3‚ to take their Division Series. Carlos Beltran is the hero for Houston with 4 hits‚ including 2 HRs‚ and 5 RBIs.

October 11, 2006: Cory Lidle, newly acquired by the Yankees as pitching help for the stretch drive and the postseason, dies when his single-engine plane crashes into an Upper East Side apartment high-rise. He was 34. Killed with him is his pilot instructor, Tyler Stanger.

That night, the Mets are scheduled to open the NLCS against the Cardinals at Shea Stadium, but the rain that falls shortly after Lidle’s crash gets the game postponed. It’s just as well. This, of course, was the only season between 1988 and 2015 in which the Mets were still playing after the Yankees were eliminated.

October 11, 2009: In the final baseball game to be played at the Metrodome, the Yankees advance to the the ALCS by defeating the host Twins, 4-1. A costly 8th inning baserunning blunder by Nick Punto ends Minnesota’s hopes of a comeback. Alex Rodriguez went 5-for-11 with 2 homers and six RBIs in the 3-game Division Series sweep.

Also on this day, Jonathan Papelbon, who had never given up a run in any of his previous 26 postseason innings, allows 2 inherited runners to score in the 8th, and yields another 3 runs in the 9th, giving the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who trailed 5-1 going into the 6th inning, a 7-6 victory over the Red Sox.

The Halos’ comeback victory — or, if you prefer, the Red Sox’ characteristic choke — at Fenway completes a 3-game sweep of ALDS over a team which historically had been their nemeses, having been eliminated from the Playoffs in their past 4 post-season encounters with Boston. The Angels will now face the Yankees for the Pennant.


October 11, 2010: The San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in Game 4 of the NLDS, and win the series at Turner Field. After the last out, the Giants come onto the field and applaud Braves manager Bobby Cox, who has announced his retirement. This was his last game.

The former Yankee 3rd baseman's (1968-69) 1st game as a major league manager was also for the Braves, on April 7, 1978, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Braves were beaten by the Dodgers 13-4. Now, 32 seasons later, with the game and the world having changed so much, Cox is done.

He won 2,504 games, 15 Division titles (1985 AL East with Toronto, 1991-93 and 1995-2005 with Atlanta), 5 Pennants (1991, '92, '95, '96 and '99), and the 1999 World Series. Ironically, the Braves had to fire him in 1981 before they won a Divsion title the next year; it was in Toronto that he became a good manager. He was elected to the Hall of Fame last year, and the Braves retired his Number 6. But he was also thrown out of more games than any uniformed person in baseball history, 158 -- plus 3 in the postseason. He remains the last person ejected from a World Series game.

October 11, 2012: For the 1st time since the divisional playoffs began in 1995, all 4 series will go the distance to a Game 5. Both the Nationals and Orioles knot their respective series against the Cardinals and Yankees. Washington and Baltimore join the A's and Giants, who also forced a decisive game with victories over the Tigers and Reds in yesterday's LDS games.

The Nats win their game 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th, on a home run by Jayson Werth, one of the heroes of the 2008 title-winning Phillies. They are now 1 win away from the 1st postseason series win by any Washington team since the 1924 Senators.

Also on this day, John Junior "Champ" Summers dies of cancer in Ocala, Florida. The former outfielder, who ended his career with the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series, was 66.

Also on this day, Helmut Haller dies in his hometown of Augsburg, Germany as a result of long battles with heart trouble, Parkinson's disease and dementia. He was 73. The soccer right winger starred with hometown club BC Augsburg, before moving on to Italian sides Bologna and Turin-based Juventus, before returning to his hometown, where his former club, in financial trouble, had merged with TSV Schwaben Augsburg, to become FC Augsburg.

He helped Bologna win Serie A, the Italian national league, in 1964, and Juventus to do so in 1972 and 1973. He was a member of the German national team that finished 2nd at the World Cup in 1966 and 3rd in 1970.

Also on this day, Carroll Hoff "Beano" Cook dies at age 81 in the Pittsburgh suburb of Green Tree, Pennsylvania. You know, not to speak ill of the dead, but if your nickname is "Beano," "Carroll" doesn't sound so bad for a man. He was born in San Francisco, and lived in Boston before moving to Pittsburgh, and his new friends nicknamed him after Boston, a.k.a. "Beantown." He could have gone with "Hoff Cook."

Beano became one of the early mainstays of ESPN, nicknamed "The Pope of College Football." In spite of his degree from, and publicity work for, the University of Pittsburgh, he seemed to like Notre Dame a lot. If there's one thing for which he's remembered, it's his prediction that Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus, USA Today's high school player of the year for 1992, would win the Heisman Trophy twice. Powlus turned out to be a good college quarterback, but was never seriously considered for the Heisman. (He was signed by 3 NFL teams, never played a regular-season down for any of them, and is now the quarterbacks coach at the University of Kansas, under his former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis.)

In 1981, after Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn gave the 52 freed hostages from Iran lifetime passes to MLB games, Cook, a real football guy, said, "Haven't they suffered enough?" Not as much as football players with brain injuries, as we now know.

Also on this day, Helmet Haller dies of multiple ailments in his hometown of Augsburg, Germany. He was 73. The midfielder never won a top-flight trophy in his homeland, but won the Italian league with Bologna in 1964 and Juventus in 1972 and '73. He played for West Germany in 3 World Cups, including the loss to England in the 1966 Final.

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