Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy 80th Birthday, Don Howe and Tony Kubek

October 12, 1935, 80 years ago: Donald Howe (no middle name) is born in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. He was a talented right back, but his hometown soccer team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, a.k.a. Wolves, weren't interested in him. Their arch-rivals, West Bromwich Albion, were, and he played for them from 1952 to 1964.

He played for England in the 1958 World Cup, and moved to North London club Arsenal in 1964 -- ironically, then managed by Wolves' greatest player ever, Billy Wright. But in 1966, he broke his leg in a game, and his playing career was over at age 30.

The next season, Arsenal fired Wright and hired Bertie Mee as manager. Mee made Howe his assistant coach, and, together, they built the team that won the League and FA Cup "Double" in 1971. Howe built a tough defense, with goalkeeper Bob Wilson, right back Pat Rice, left back Bob McNab (father of actress Mercedes McNab), centrebacks Frank McLintock and Peter Simpson, and defensive midfielder Peter Storey. With the midfield also having George Graham and George Armstrong -- future Arsenal manager and reserves manager, respectively -- and a forward line of John Radford, Ray Kennedy, and the iconic long-haired Charlie George, Arsenal were a juggernaut in 1970-71.

A lot of it involved changing positions: Graham was moved from forward to midfield, Storey from right back to midfield, and McLintock, the team Captain, from midfield to central defense. McLintock, a lantern-jawed Scotsman, was the team's rock, and they followed his lead as much as Bertie's and Don's.

As he put it, "Once we were one-nothin' up, that was it. You could go get yer fish 'n' chips, yer cup o' tea, get on yer bike. Because I don't think we gave up a 1-0 lead all season." I checked: They didn't. They did, however, come from behind a few times, including in extra time in the Cup Final against Liverpool.

After that annus mirabilis, Howe's old club, West Brom, wanted him as manager. "I can't take it back," he said. "That was the time when I left when I should have stayed, because that team, the Double team, had more in them."

He was probably right: Arsenal came close to the League title again in 1972 and '73, and lost the FA Cup in the '72 Final and the '73 Semifinal. With his guidance, they could have won more trophies.

He left West Brom after 4 years to become head coach at Turkish giants Galatasaray, and then an assistant at Leeds United under his former England teammate Jimmy Armfield (not to be confused with his former England teammate and Arsenal player Jimmy Bloomfield), and then returned to Arsenal in 1977, under his former defense partner Terry Neill. They reached 4 cup finals in 3 years, but only won 1, the 1979 FA Cup.

When Neill was fired in 1983, Howe was promoted to the manager's role. "That's the time when I stayed when I should have left!" he said, making the point that he ended up using pretty much the same system that Neill had, so it wasn't really a change.

This was after several of the club's better players had been sold off, resulting in the 4th-to-7th-place side (the Football League Division One then had 22 teams) that became known as "Boring, Boring Arsenal." In 1986, despite having won 4 straight matches and not being threatened with firing, he decided he'd had enough, and resigned. From that time onward, very few managers of English clubs have left their jobs by their own choice.

He helped former Arsenal teammate Bobby Gould lead South London club Wimbledon to the 1988 FA Cup in a stunning run that ended with a grand upset of Liverpool in the Final, and assisted another former England teammate, Bobby Robson, on the England team at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, also assisting Terry Venables with England at Euro '96. He and Gould switched places to manage and assist, respectively, at West London's Queens Park Rangers, and in his last managing job he got Coventry City promoted to the Premier League in 1993.

He coached Arsenal's youth team from 1997 to 2003, and then retired for good, having sent to the big club such players as Ashley Cole and Cesc Fabregas. He taught them about defending and passing, but it's a shame he couldn't teach those 2 about loyalty. He's also been a pundit for the BBC and Channel 4, and remains one of the grand old men of the English game.

UPDATE: Don Howe died on December 23, 2015.


October 12, 1935, 80 years ago: Anthony Christopher Kubek is born in Milwaukee. The American League Rookie of the Year with the 1957 Yankees, he played shortstop in the World Series against his hometown team (not that they were there while he was growing up), the Milwaukee Braves, in his 1st 2 seasons, losing in 1957 and winning in 1958, and excelling in both Series.
In Game 7 of the 1960 Series, he was hit in the throat by a ground ball that took a bad hop off a pebble on the Forbes Field dirt. That led to a Pittsburgh Pirates rally, and the Pirates won the game on Bill Mazeroski's home run.

But in 1961, Kubek and 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson formed one of the best double-play combinations in baseball history, as the Yankees won the Series, aided by Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs. They won the Series again in 1962, although Kubek missed much of the season due to military service. They won Pennants again in 1963 and '64, but lost the Series both times. Kubek had been in the majors for 8 seasons, and had won 7 Pennants and 3 World Series.

A back injury in 1965 convinced him to retire at age 30, and he went into broadcasting, a career that would see him given the Ford Frick Award, the Baseball Hall of Fame's award for broadcasters. He worked regular-season games for NBC for 24 years, including 12 World Series, and also did games for the expansion Toronto Blue Jays. When NBC lost its TV rights after the 1989 season, he rejoined the Yankees on the Madison Square Garden Network. 

He quit broadcasting during the Strike of '94, and claims not to have even watched a game since: "I hate what the game's become: The greed, the nastiness. You can be married to baseball, give your heart to it, but when it starts taking over your soul, it's time to say, 'Whoa.'" He attended his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2009, but has never returned to Yankee Stadium, old or new. Indeed, only once has he participated in an Old-Timers' Day ceremony, in 1986, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the 1961 team -- and plugging the book he wrote with Cleveland-base sportswriter Terry Pluto, Sixty-One: The Team, the Record, the Men.


October 12, 1492: Christoffa Corombo – as he was known in his native Genoa, or Christophorus Columbus as he was known in Latin, or Cristobal Colon as his patron, Queen Isabella I of Spain, calls him -- finally gets his ships to land. He believes he has reached South Asia. He names the island on which he lands San Salvador, after Jesus. Eventually, the island will be taken over by the English, and renamed Watling Island. Today, it is a part of the Bahamas.

Eventually, the man the English-speaking world knows as Christopher Columbus will make 4 voyages west, never fully realizing he was in what became known as “the New World,” always thinking he was in Asia. But he does start the wave of European exploration that will make the Americas -- eventually named for rival Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci – possible.

Yet, considering previous voyages of the Vikings (and, some believe, the Chinese), it is disingenuous to say, “Columbus discovered America.” In fact, he never set foot on the soil of the continental U.S., coming the closest when he reached Puerto Rico.

As far as I can tell, it was Juan Ponce de Leon, who came with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, who was the first European to set foot on present-day U.S. soil, reaching Florida in 1513. (Vespucci did reach land in what’s now called South America, but not North America. The Vikings reached present-day Canada, and possibly present-day Maine.)

It’s also not true that Columbus “proved the world is round.” By 1492, most people already believed that. Even so, it would be 1522, and the conclusion of the Ferdinand Magellan expedition, before anyone sailed all the way around the world and back to his starting point, and proved through firsthand experience that the world was round.

What does this have to do with baseball? Today, there is a Triple-A minor league baseball team in Columbus, Ohio, and a Double-A team in Columbus, Georgia. And a major league team in Washington, District of Columbia. And, of course, there is a tremendous amount of talent in lands that Columbus revealed to the Old World, including the places now known as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.


October 12, 1858: John Lawrence Sullivan is born in the Roxbury section of Boston. He is considered the 1st “true” heavyweight champion of the world, reigning from 1882 to 1892, and was a great hero for America’s Irish Catholic immigrants and their children.

His personal life, however, was greatly criticized, mostly by the English Protestant establishment of the time, but who remembers them more than they remember “the Great John L.?”

October 12, 1859: The visiting Atlantics whip the Eckford Club‚ 22-12 to win the baseball championship of the year. Both clubs are based in Brooklyn. The Atlantics score 7 in the 1st inning and lead 16-4 at the end of 3. They finish the year at 11-1.

October 12, 1874: James Timothy Burke is born in St. Louis. He was a 3rd baseman, playing for the 1st American League Pennant winners, the 1901 Chicago White Sox. He then jumped back to the National League, and won another Pennant with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 1905, he closed his playing career as player-manager for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals, and he won a World Series ring as a coach with the 1932 Yankees. He lived until 1942.

October 12, 1878: Thomas Truxtun Hare is born in Philadelphia. He played guard, kicked and punted at the University of Pennsylvania, his hometown Ivy League school, and was named to the All-America team 4 times, later earning a law degree at Penn. A 2008 Sports Illustrated article awarded retroactive Heisman Trophies, and said that Truxtun Hare would win the 1900 Heisman.

He later practiced law and became a novelist, and lived until 1956. His son, Truxtun Hare Jr., was an All-American at Yale.

October 12, 1895: Sporting Life magazine notes that "there has never been a negro player in the National League. Though the colored brethren have turned out some excellent players‚ the color lines have been drawn very closely around the major body‚ and no colored man ever got into the ranks."

Black players had appeared in the American Association, a major league that played from 1882 to 1891, up until the 1887 season. But none would play in the NL until 1947.

October 12, 1896: Volatile New York Giants owner Andrew Freedman is found guilty of an April 22nd assault on baseball writer Edward Hurst. He receives a suspended sentence -- most likely, because he was rich, and the judge didn't want to put a rich man in jail.

Freedman was a piece of work. He was a director of the Interborough Rapid Transit company (IRT), which ran horse-drawn carriage lines in New York, and built the City's 1st Subway in 1904. He raced yachts. He seemed to be a respectable New York businessman. But in 1895, he bought the Giants, and became New York's 1st eccentric sports-team owner, preceding George Steinbrenner by nearly 80 years and Larry MacPhail by over 40.

But he underpaid his players, even by the standards of the day. His star pitcher Amos Rusie sat out the entire 1896 season, rather than accept a pay cut. Freedman suspected anyone who opposed him of anti-Semitism -- and was the target of some genuine anti-Jewish bigotry. Finally, in 1902, he sold the Giants to John T. Brush, and was out of baseball, and all of baseball rejoiced. He died in 1915, only 55, but worth over $4 million -- about $93 million in today's money.

October 12, 1899: The American League is founded by Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson, a Cincinnati sportswriter. It plays as a minor league in 1900, and goes all-out as a major league in 1901.


October 12, 1906: Joseph Edward Cronin is born in San Francisco. Both shortstop and manager for the Washington Senators, he led them to the 1933 AL Pennant, still the last Pennant ever won by a Washington baseball team (unless you count the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues, and even then they split their “home” games between Washington and Pittsburgh).

Senators owner Clark Griffith, himself a former pitcher good enough to make the Hall of Fame even if he hadn’t been a pioneering team owner, liked Cronin so much he let him marry his daughter Mildred. But when Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey offered the perennially broke Griffith big bucks for Cronin, he sold his son-in-law, his shortstop, and his manager off all in one fell swoop. The price: $225,000 -- just under $4 million in today's money.

Yawkey made Cronin his shortstop and manager, but ego made Cronin the manager keep Cronin the player at shortstop long after his skills had deteriorated. This caused the Red Sox to trade away the star shortstop of their Louisville farm team, Harold “Pee Wee” Reese.

True, this allowed Johnny Pesky to become an All-Star shortstop once Cronin finally accepted that he didn’t have it anymore, but it also led the greatest of all Red Sox, Ted Williams, to say that if the Sox had Phil Rizzuto at short, they would have won “all those Pennants” instead of the Yankees.

Finally, in 1946 -- a year after he finally retired as a player, which may not be a coincidence -- Cronin led the Red Sox to the Pennant, but lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, a loss often blamed on… drumroll please… shortstop Pesky “holding the ball.” Cronin only lasted another year as manager, then was “promoted” to team president. He left the team presidency in 1959 when he was offered the presidency of the American League, a post he held until 1973.

That the Red Sox became the last team to integrate is often blamed on owner Yawkey and his drinking buddy, 1950s manager Michael “Pinky” Higgins, who famously declared that there would never be a (racial slur beginning with N) on the team as long as he was the manager. And, once Yawkey fired him, the Sox then integrated. However, Yawkey hired him back, and at that point, Higgins managed more black players than his fired successor, Rudy York, or the man hired to replace York, Bucky Harris. Could it be that the real Yawkey drinking buddy/roadblock to integration was Cronin? After all, the year that the Sox integrated, with Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, was 1959, the very year Cronin left to become AL President.

Joe Cronin is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his Number 4 has been retired by the Red Sox. But if he hadn’t managed the Sox to that ’46 Pennant, I wonder if he would have deserved these honors. After all, he wasn’t a great shortstop for the same length of time that his contemporaries Rizzuto, Reese, Luke Appling, Lou Boudreau or Marty Marion were. And, as far as I can tell, he was the 1st manager ever to walk out to the mound and tell his pitcher, “Don’t give him anything good to hit – but don’t walk him.”

October 12, 1907: At Detroit’s Bennett Park, right-hander Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown throws a 2-0 shutout, beating the Tigers to capture the World Championship for the Cubs. Although Game 1 ended in a 3-3, 12-inning tie, Chicago becomes the first club to sweep a Fall Classic.

The last surviving member of the Cubs' 1907 World Champions was rookie 3rd baseman Henry "Heinie" Zimmerman, who was also the last survivor of their 1908 World Champions. He lived until 1969.

October 12, 1910: With the AL’s season ending a week earlier than the NL’s‚ the champion Philadelphia Athletics tune up with a 5-game series against an AL all-star team‚ which includes Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers‚ Tris Speaker of the Red Sox‚ Doc White and Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox‚ and Walter Johnson of the Senators.

The A’s drop 4 out of 5 to the all-stars‚ but manager/part-owner Connie Mack will later state‚ “Those games‚ more than anything else‚ put the Athletics in a condition to outclass the National League champions.” These are not baseball’s first “all-star games,” but they were very consequential as far as determining the World Champions of baseball.

October 12, 1913: Following the World Series, which his New York Giants lost to the Philadelphia Athletics, John McGraw hosts a reunion for Hughie Jennings and the old NL version of the Baltimore Orioles, 20 years after their first Pennant.

After a night of heavy drinking‚ McGraw blames his longtime friend‚ business partner and teammate Wilbert Robinson, perhaps baseball’s 1st great pitching coach, for too many coaching mistakes in the 1913 Series. “Uncle Robbie” replies that McGraw made more mistakes than anybody. McGraw fires him. Eyewitnesses say Robbie doused McGraw with a glass of beer and left.

Six days later, Robbie will begin a legendary 18 years as manager of the crosstown Brooklyn franchise‚ replacing Bill Dahlen. The team will carry the nickname Robins‚ as well as Dodgers‚ during his tenure. Robbie and Mac won’t speak to each other for 17 years, and after winning 3 straight Pennants together, McGraw will win just 1 Pennant in the next 7 years, while Robbie will win 2 -- the only Pennants the Brooklyn team will win between 1900 and 1941.

This is not the beginning of the rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers, not by a long shot. That rivalry had its beginning in rivalries between clubs of New York (Manhattan) and Brooklyn when they were separate cities prior to 1898, even going back to the days of amateur baseball in the 1850s and ’60s. And the rivalry between Manhattan and Brooklyn would have happened even if baseball had never been invented. (But what cruel person would want to live in such a world?)

But the McGraw-Robinson bustup is the beginning of a rivalry that ruined one of baseball’s great friendships, not resolved until both men were retired and near death. Still, they both ended up in the Hall of Fame -- neither lived to see the Hall’s establishment, though -- and are buried in the same Baltimore cemetery.

Somebody should write a book about it: We’ve seen books about the Giants, about the Dodgers, about the Dodger-Giant rivalry, about McGraw, and even about the old Orioles -- but the McGraw-Robinson relationship is a fascinating one. They’re like the John Adams and Thomas Jefferson of baseball: Great friends in a great cause, then a nasty split and a nastier rivalry, and the relationship was repaired and the great friendship restored toward the end.

October 12, 1916: The Red Sox defeat the Dodgers/Robins, 4-1, and win the World Series by the same margin. After winning back-to-back World Series – still the only manager in the history of Boston baseball to do so – Bill Carrigan announces his retirement. He will return to the post in 1927, but, without future Hall-of-Famers such as Speaker, Harry Hooper and, uh, Babe Ruth, he will finish at the bottom of the American League instead of the top.

The last surviving member of the 1916 Red Sox was pitcher Ernie Shore, who lived until 1980.

October 12, 1917: Roque Gastón Máspoli Arbelvide is born in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. Roque Máspoli was the goalkeeper for the Uruguay team that won the 1950 World Cup. At club level, he played for both of the arch-rival Montevideo clubs. With Nacional, he won Uruguay's league in 1934 and 1939; with Peñarol, he won titles in 1944, 1945, 1949, 1951, 1953 and 1954. He later managed Peñarol to League titles in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1986, and the Copa Libertadores, South America's "Champions League," in 1966.

In 1997, he managed the national team at age 80, making him the oldest national team manager in any country. He died in 2004.

October 12, 1918: There were 8 Major League Baseball players who died serving their country (all Americans) in World War I, and 2 of them did so on this day.

Lieutenant Alexander Thomson Burr, U.S. Army Air Service, a Chicagoan known as Tom Burr as a pitcher who played 1 game in the outfield for the Yankees in 1914 and never got to bat -- a true "Moonlight Graham" -- is killed in a plane crash, in Cazaux, France. It was an accident: Rather than being shot down, another U.S. pilot crashed into him -- what became known as "friendly fire." His plane caught fire, and crashed into a lake. It took 12 days to find his body. He wasn't quite 25 years old.

Private Harry Melville Glenn, U.S. Army Signal Corps, a Shelburn, Indiana native known in baseball as "Husky" Glenn, played a portion of the 1915 season as a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, in the middle of an 8-year run of professional play, mostly with the St. Paul Saints. He did not die in combat or in an accident: He developed pneumonia and, in those pre-antibiotic days, died in a St. Paul Hospital in October 1918. He was 28.
October 12, 1920: The Cleveland Indians win their 1st World Series, in Game 7 of the best-5-out-of-9 Series, 3-0 over Uncle Robbie’s Dodgers/Robins, as Stan Coveleski outduels fellow future Hall-of-Famer Burleigh Grimes for his 3rd win of the Series. It will be 21 years before the Dodgers get back into the Series; for the Indians, 28 years.

The last survivor of the 1920 Indians was rookie Joe Sewell, who took over at shortstop for Ray Chapman after he was killed by a pitch from Carl Mays of the Yankees on August 16. Sewell went on to a Hall of Fame career as a 3rd baseman, and ended up with the Yankees, winning another Series in 1932.

October 12, 1921: Game 7 of the World Series -- not the deciding game, as this one was best-5-out-of-9. Phil Douglas outpitches Carl Mays, and the New York Giants beat the Yankees 2-1. The Giants can wrap it up tomorrow in Game 8.

October 12, 1923: In front of the largest paying crowd in baseball history to that point, 62,430 fans are on hand at Yankee Stadium. They see Casey Stengel hit his 2nd home run of the World Series. The round-tripper proves to be the difference when Giants hurler Art Nerf outduels Yankees' starter Sam Jones in Game 3 of the Fall Classic, 1-0.

The Giants now lead 2 games to 1. They will not win another game that counts until the following April.

October 12, 1926: Mkrtych Pogosovich Simonyan is born in Armavir, in the Soviet Union. Of Armenian descent, he took the Russian name Nikita Pavlovich Simonyan. A striker, from 1949 to 1959, he starred for the most popular sports team in the USSR, Spartak Moscow. He helped them win Soviet Top League titles in 1952, 1953, 1956 and 1958, and the Soviet Cup in 1950 and 1958 (meaning they "did the Double" in 1958). He is the all-time leading scorer for the Soviet and post-Soviet Russian 1st division. He helped the USSR win the Olympic Gold Medal in 1956, and reach the Quarterfinals of the 1958 World Cup.

He didn't stop there. He managed Spartak to the Soviet Top League title in 1962 and 1969, and the Soviet Cup in 1963, 1965 and 1971. Returning to his native Armenia, he led Ararat Yerevan to the Soviet League and Cup Double in 1973. He managed the Soviet national team from 1977 to 1979.

At age 89, he is the greatest-ever athlete of Armenian descent, and the greatest living Soviet or Russian soccer player.

October 12, 1929: Game 4 of the 1929 World Series, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, remains one of the wildest in postseason history. Having started a seemingly washed-up Howard Ehmke in Game 1 and having it work, Connie Mack starts 45-year-old Jack Quinn.

This seems to work, too, until the 6th, when the Chicago Cubs start scoring. By the time they stop, they lead, 7-0. Cub manager Joe McCarthy starts Charlie Root, who would later become a victim of McCarthy’s Yankees, including Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” though this quirk of history/legend does not do Root justice, as he was a fine pitcher for many years. Root enters the bottom of the 7th with an 8-0 lead.

Then the A’s come storming back. Hack Wilson, a great slugger but not the best of outfielders even when not drunk or hungover, misjudges a fly ball from Mule Haas, and it turns into a 3-run inside-the-park home run, making the score 8-7 Cubs. One of the runners scoring on the play is Al Simmons, and the great slugger storms into the dugout, yelling, “We’re back in the game, boys!” and his momentum causes him to crash into Mack – already 67 years old, if not the elderly figure most of us imagine him to have always been. Simmons apologizes profusely, but Mack, a former big-league catcher and familiar with ballplayers crashing into him, is just as enthused and tells him, “That’s all right, Al.”

The A’s score a Series record 10 runs in the inning, and ace Lefty Grove comes in to relieve and finish the Cubs off, as 10-8 remains the final score. The A’s close down the shellshocked Cubs the next day.

Also on this day, Sanford Stadium opens in Athens, Georgia. Named for Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, an English professor and an early supporter of the school's athletic program, the University of Georgia opens it with 15-0 win over Yale in front of 30,000 fans. Since UGa had been founded by missionaries from Yale, and had also borrowed Yale's team name of Bulldogs, they were the invited guests.

Known for the hedges that surround the field, and the end zone containing the crypts for the deceased Uga the Bulldog mascots, Sanford Stadium has seen several expansions and renovations that have put its current seating capacity at 92,746. It hosted the soccer games of the 1996 Olympics, even though Athens and Atlanta, despite being in the same State, are not all that close.

With stars like Frankie Sinkwich, Charlie Trippi, Theron Sapp, Fran Tarkenton, Jake Scott, Herschel Walker, Garrison Hearst, Champ Bailey and Knowshon Moreno, the Georgia Bulldogs have won 12 Southeastern Conference Championships since moving in, as well as the 1942 and 1980 National Championships. They've also had All-Americans named Johnny Carson (not the talk show host), Randy Johnson (not the baseball pitcher) and George Patton (not the general).


October 12, 1930: Denis Joseph Germain Stanislaus Brodeur is born in Montreal. He was the goaltender for the Canada hockey team that won the Bronze Medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics. Later, he was the team photographer for the Montreal Canadiens and Expos. He is best remembered, though, as the father of Martin Brodeur. He lived until 2013.

October 12, 1938: Leo Durocher, already the Brooklyn Dodgers’ shortstop, is named their manager. He will hold the post for nearly 10 years, nearly all of them controversial.

He had previously been a virtual coach on the field for Frankie Frisch on the St. Louis Cardinals when they won their “Gashouse Gang” World Series in 1934. However, unlike Joe Cronin in Boston, Durocher would recognize that his shortstop skills were fading, and allow Pee Wee Reese, whom the Dodgers had purchased from the Red Sox, to succeed him in the field and in the lineup.

October 12, 1939: Robert Lane Miller is born in St. Louis. A pitcher, he reached the major leagues with his hometown Cardinals in 1957, but is best remembered as an original 1962 Met. He lost his 1st 12 decisions in Blue & Orange, a team record until broken by Anthony Young in 1993.

To make matters stranger, the Mets had another pitcher named Bob Miller, also a righthander, also mainly a reliever. Robert Gerald Miller was 4 years older and from the Chicago area. To make matters stranger still, they roomed together on the road! And when the phone would ring, whichever one answered would say, "Hello, Bob Miller here." (This would foreshadow a later met team that had 2 pitchers named Bobby Jones.)

Bob G. Miller's career ended with the 1962 season, and he is still alive, at age 80. Bob L. Miller would rebound, winning the World Series with the 1963 and 1965 Dodgers and the 1971 Pirates, winning another Pennant with the 1966 Dodgers, and winning Division titles with the 1969 Minnesota Twins and the 1972 Pirates, before returning to the Mets, winning another Pennant in 1973 and retiring in 1974. He finished 69-81 for his career, not bad considering some of the teams for whom he pitched, and an ERA of 3.37.

In 1976, Bob managed the Amarillo Gold Sox to the Texas League Pennant. He was named the 1st pitching coach of the Blue Jays, became a coach with the San Francisco Giants, and was killed in a car crash in Rancho Bernardo, California in 1993. He was only 54.


October 12, 1944: Frank Sinatra appears at the Paramount Theater in New York’s Times Square. A full house of 3,664 is on hand to see him. About 25,000 others, mostly teenage girls -- “bobbysoxers” in the lingo of the day -- were turned away, and vented their frustrations by smashing store windows.

It becomes known as the Columbus Day Riot, and for those Sinatra fans who grew up to have kids screaming over Elvis Presley and/or the Beatles, complaining that they never acted that way over a musical act they liked, well, guess what, old-timers, you did.

Just as One Direction ain’t no Beatles, and Justin Timberlake ain’t no Elvis, singers from Bobby Darin to Harry Connick Jr. to Sean Combs have deluded themselves into think they were "the new Sinatra," but none of them is in Sinatra’s league. The man has more charisma dead than any of them do alive.

What does this have to do with sports? Well, by itself, nothing. But Sinatra was a big sports fan. He sang “There Used to Be a Ballpark” about Ebbets Field, although he remained a Dodger fan after they moved to L.A. He was a great boxing fan who talked Life magazine into making him their official photographer for the 1971 “Super Fight” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier – and, I have to say, he knew what he was doing: He took good pictures. And on a Pittsburgh Steeler roadtrip to San Diego, the Steeler fan club known as “Franco’s Italian Army” (named after the half-black, half-Italian running back Franco Harris, as well as for the general whose "Italian Army" enabled him to win the Spanish Civil War) invited Sinatra, then living in nearby Palm Springs, and offered to make him an “Honorary General” in the Army. Although he had no connection to Pittsburgh, he posed for pictures with them and accepted a helmet with generals’ stars on it.

October 12, 1948: The Yankees hire Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel as their manager. Stengel had just managed the Oakland Oaks -- including former star big-league catcher Ernie Lombardi and a 20-year-old sparkplug local boy from West Berkeley named Billy Martin -- to the Pacific Coast League Pennant, so chances were that some big-league team would have snapped him up in the next year or two if the Yankees didn’t.

But his 2 previous big-league managing jobs, with the Dodgers (managing them in between Uncle Robbie and Leo the Lip) and the Boston Braves, were terrible. In Brooklyn in 1935, it was quipped that overconfidence might cost the Dodgers 6th place. In Boston in 1943, Casey was slightly injured when hit by a cab, and a sportswriter called the driver the man who had done the most for Boston baseball that season.

He was 58 years old in 1948, and, like Connie Mack, he always looked even older than he was. And he had a reputation as a “clown,” for such antics as tipping his cap and letting a bird fly out from under it, and protesting the weather to an umpire by walking out of the dugout with an umbrella. This was not a man who would manage “the Yankee way,” sportswriters said.

Then again, Casey really didn’t have the players in Flatbush or in Allston. Once he proved everyone wrong by winning the 1949 Pennant, he said, with a mixture of pride and humility, “I couldn’t have done it without my players.” Finally having the horses, Casey went on to manage the Yankees for 12 years, winning 10 Pennants and 7 World Series.

He then managed the Mets in their first 4 years, 1962-65, prompting Warren Spahn, running out the string with the Mets after 22 years with the Braves, to say, "I'm the only man who played for Casey both before and after he was a genius." (Yogi Berra, by then one of Casey's coaches, came out of retirement and played a few games, including behind the plate. Someone asked him if he and Spahn were the oldest "battery" -- pitcher-catcher combination -- in baseball history. Yogi told him, "I don't know if we're the oldest, but we're certainly the ugliest.")

Casey is still the most successful manager in baseball history. He was fast-tracked to election to the Hall of Fame after his retirement, the Yankees dedicated a Plaque in Monument Park to his memory, and he lived to see both the Yankees and the Mets retire his Number 37.


October 12, 1954: The American League owners approve the shift of the Philadelphia Athletics franchise to Kansas City. Roy and Earle Mack, sons of the now-senile 88-year-old Connie Mack, sell the A’s to Arnold Johnson, a Chicago-based trucking magnate, 25 years to the day after the team’s magnificent 10-run inning in the ’29 World Series.

Johnson’s bid is $3‚375‚000 -- just under $30 million in today's money -- for the team and stadium‚ Shibe Park, recently renamed Connie Mack Stadium. He says he will sell the stadium to the Phillies for $1‚675‚000, although Phils owner Bob Carpenter, a very wealthy man as a member of both the Carpenter and the duPont families, says, “I need Shibe Park like I need a hole in the head.”

One of the offers for the team is from a wealthy Texas group that proposes to move the A’s to Los Angeles, but Kansas City, long a hotbed of minor league and Negro League baseball, gets major league status for the first time since the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League in 1915 – or, if you don’t count that, since the Kansas City Cowboys of the old American Association in 1889.

The A's had won AL Pennants in 1902, 1905, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1929, 1930 and 1931. They had won the World Series in 1910, 1911, 1913, 1929 and 1930. Connie Mack had built 2 dynasties, then broke them up because he needed money. Unlike in Boston, where the Red Sox stayed and the Braves left, and St. Louis, where the Cardinals stayed and the Browns left, in Philadelphia, the more historically successful team was the one that moved. But while the A's had 9 Pennants to the Phillies' 2, and 5 titles to the Phils' none, the Phils had money, and the A's didn't, and since both teams couldn't survive in the city, the one without the money went.

October 12, 1955, 60 years ago: The St. Louis Cardinals fire manager Harry “the Hat” Walker, and replace him with former big-league pitcher Fred Hutchinson. Walker, like his brother, former Dodger slugger Fred “Dixie” Walker, was a really good hitter in his day, but he was not such a good manager. (He would, however, return to the Cards as a coach, and later manage the Pittsburgh Pirates, and would also take the Houston Astros to their first Pennant race in 1969.) But his day as a player was done.

He had used himself as a pinch-hitter in the ’55 season, but his firing means that, for the first time in the history of baseball, there are no current player-managers.

Frank Robinson (’75 & ’76 Indians), Joe Torre (’77 Mets), Don Kessinger (’79 White Sox) and Pete Rose (’85 and ’86 Reds) would briefly be player-managers, before Robinson, Torre and Rose retired as players and Kessinger was fired (and subsequently retired as a player). But, from this point forward, player-managers would be frowned upon. The last player-manager to get his team into a Pennant race was Lou Boudreau with the ’51 Red Sox. The last to win a Pennant, much less a World Series, was Boudreau with the ’48 Indians.

October 12, 1958: For the first time since the Giants moved to San Francisco, Willie Mays plays baseball in New York City.  At Yankee Stadium, 3 days after the conclusion of the World Series, the Say Hey Kid leads a team of National League All-Stars that also includes former Brooklyn Dodgers Gil Hodges and Johnny Podres, plus future Hall-of-Famers Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Richie Ashburn and Bill Mazeroski -- but not, oddly, Hank Aaron. I guess Hank, just beaten by the Yankees in Milwaukee, didn't want to go back to Yankee Stadium so soon.

They play a team of American League All-Stars captained by Mickey Mantle, including his Yankee teammates Whitey Ford and Elston Howard, and former teammate Billy Martin, plus Hall-of-Famer Nellie Fox and All-Stars Rocky Colavito (a Bronx native) and Harvey Kuenn. All of them, including Mays and Mantle, had Frank Scott as their agent.

The game was not broadcast, on either television or radio, and 21,129 fans came out -- which doesn't sound like much, especially in the 1st year with the Dodgers and Giants gone, but it was more than any of them averaged the year before, the last year with all 3 of them in New York.

And most of them were cheering for the NL team -- whether it was because they missed the Giants and Dodgers in general, or Willie in particular, or they simply hated the Yankees, or whether Yankee fans couldn't be bothered to show up for a game that didn't count for anything but filling the players' pockets, I don't know. (And that was the reason the game was played: Both Mantle and Mays were having money problems at the time.)

The NL team won, 6-2. Mays went 4-for-5. Mantle went 1-for-2 before taking himself out.


October 12, 1960: Game 6 of the World Series. Whitey Ford pitches a 7-hit shutout, and singles home the 1st run of a 12-0 Yankee rout of the Pirates at Forbes Field. There will be a Game 7 tomorrow, also in Pittsburgh.

The Yankees had won their 3 games 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0. The Pirates had won their 3 6-4, 3-2 and 5-2. It seems as though a high-scoring game favors the Yankees. And the Yankees will score 9 runs in Game 7, while the Pirates hadn't yet scored more than 5. Sounds like a Yankee title. Except...

October 12, 1961: Miguel Porlán Noguera is born in Totana, Murcia, Spain. Known as Chendo, he was the right back on 7 of Real Madrid's La Liga titles from 1986 to 1997, and the 1998 Champions League title.

October 12, 1963: At the last game featuring major leaguers to be played at the historic Polo Grounds, the Latin stars from the NL beat their AL peers, 5-2, in the 1st and only "Hispanic Major League All-Star Game."

The postseason exhibition, in which Twins 1st baseman Vic Power, a native of Puerto Rico, is honored as the number-one Latin American player during a pregame ceremony, includes future Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, and Juan Marichal.

Also on this day, Luis Andrew Polonia Almonte is born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The left fielder won a Pennant with the Oakland Athletics in 1988, before coming to the Yankees in the trade that sent Rickey Henderson back to the Yankees. He was traded to the California Angels in 1990, but was sent back to the Yankees in 1994, and then to the Atlanta Braves, where he won the 1995 World Series.

The Braves sent him to the Baltimore Orioles in 1996, but they sent him right back, and he won another Pennant, but lost the World Series to the Yankees. He played in Mexico for 2 seasons, went to the Tigers, and in 2000 finished his career with another title in his 3rd run with the Yankees. A career .293 hitter, he now runs a baseball school in the Dominican Republic.

Also on this day, Raimond Aumann (no middle name) is born in Augsburg, Germany. A goalkeeper, he won 6 Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich, a Turkish league title with Beşiktaş in 1995, and the World Cup with West Germany in 1990. He is now Bayern's fan club coordinator.

October 12, 1964: Game 5 of the World Series. The game goes to extra innings, but in the top of the 10th, Pete Mikkelsen wastes a nice Mel Stottlemyre effort, by allowing a home run... to Tim McCarver. Yes, that Tim McCarver. Bob Gibson goes all 10 innings, and the Cardinals beat the Yankees, 5-2. The Cardinals now need to win only 1 of the 2 possible games in St. Louis.

October 12, 1965, 50 years ago: Following the departure of the Braves for Atlanta, a Milwaukee-based used-car salesman founds Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, Inc., named for the former minor-league team from the city, in the hopes of attracting an expansion team or buying an existing team and moving it to the Beer City.

The salesman’s name is Allan Huber Selig Jr. Yes, Bud Selig. He bought the Seattle Pilots on the eve of the 1970 season, moved them, and renamed them the Milwaukee Brewers, and was Commissioner of Baseball from 1992 to 2014. This, after starting out as a used-car salesman. He had become rich and famous by selling cars to the Braves players, including selling rookie catcher Joe Torre his first car. Now, he is out of power, having taken baseball to new heights, but also having damaged the sport more than any other Commissioner.

Also on this day, Jean-Jacques Daingeault is born in Montreal. Usually listed as "J.J. Daigneault," the defenseman reached the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks in 1984, got to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987, won the Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, played for the Islanders in 1997-98, became an original Nashville Predator the next season, and closed his career with the Minnesota Wild in 2001. He is now an assistant coach with the Canadiens.

October 12, 1966: Wilhelmus Maria Jonk is born in Volendam, Netherlands. A midfielder, while with Ajax Amsterdam, he won the Dutch League in 1990, the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the KNVB Cup (equivalent to the FA Cup) in 1993. With PSV Eindhoven, he won the KNVB CUp in 1996 and the League in 1997.

October 12, 1967: Baseball and the Summer of Love converge on Fenway Park in Boston for Game 7 of the World Series, as a fan holds up a sign saying, "THE RED SOX ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE."

But the prediction made the day before, after a Game 6 win, by Sox manager Dick Williams, of "Lonborg and champagne," does not happen: On only 2 days' rest, Gentleman Jim has nothing, and gets shelled. Even opposing pitcher Bob Gibson, himself on only 3 days rest (and having won Game 7 in '64 on just 2) hits a home run off him. The Cardinals win, 7-2, for Gibson's 3rd win of the Series, the team’s 2nd title in 4 seasons, and their 7th World Championship.

For the Red Sox, "the Impossible Dream" came to an end a game too soon, but the season did revitalize the franchise, restoring its profitability and its place of veneration among the people of New England. They lost the World Series, but they cannot be called a failure. Without this season, the Red Sox might have ended up leaving Fenway Park, sharing a stadium out in Foxboro with the NFL's Patriots. Or owner Tom Yawkey, who really wanted out of Fenway, might have moved them out of Boston entirely.

So, even more than 2004, this is the most important season in Red Sox history. Years later, after the Red Sox failures of 1975, '78 and '86, but before the tainted triumphs of 2004, '07 and '13, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy would write that, of all Red Sox teams, this one is absolved from criticism by "Red Sox Nation" -- which, he says, essentially began that summer.

By the same -- pardon my choice of words here -- token, this was an incredibly important season in St. Louis. The holdovers from the 1964 season proved it was no fluke, and, much more so than the '64 team, the '67 team, with its mixture of white stars (Tim McCarver, Dal Maxvill and an aging but still power-hitting Roger Maris), black stars (Gibson, Lou Brock and Curt Flood) and Hispanic stars (Orlando Cepeda and Julián Javier) showed St. Louis, still thinking of itself as a Southern city, what integration could really do. Fans in Brooklyn had learned that 20 years earlier.

Yet, somehow, the 1964-68 Cards, as good as they were, have not been celebrated by Baby Boomers as much as have the 1950s and '60s Yankees, the 1950s Dodgers, the '60 and '71 Pirates, the 1962-66 Dodgers, the 1962-66 Giants, the 1966-71 Orioles, the '67 Red Sox, the '68 Tigers and the '69 Mets. Hopefully, that's mainly because St. Louis was, and is, one of baseball’s smallest markets. Still, the Cardinals were then, and are now, one of baseball’s most profitable and most admired franchises.

There are 15 surviving players from the '67 Cards, 48 years later: Gibson, Brock, Cepeda, McCarver, Maxvill, Steve Carlton, Mike Shannon, Ray Washburn, Eddie Bressoud, Phil Gagliano, Bobby Tolan, Ed Spiezio, Dick Hughes and Larry Jaster.

October 12, 1969: The Mets win a World Series game for the first time, taking Game 2 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Al Weis’ 9th-inning single breaks up a pitchers’ duel between the Mets’ Jerry Koosman (who is relieved in the bottom of the 9th by Ron Taylor) and the Orioles’ Dave McNally.

The film Frequency tells the fictional tale of an atmospheric phenomenon that allows a 1999 NYPD detective and Met fan, played by Jim Caviezel, to use his father’s old ham-radio set to talk to his father, a 1969 fireman, played by Dennis Quaid. October 12, 1969 was the day the father died in a fire, when the son was just 6, and the son is able to warn him from the future. The result is that the father, and the teenage girl he would have failed to rescue from the fire, get out alive.

But interfering with time means that, because she wasn’t preparing for her husband’s funeral, the cop’s mother, a nurse, saves the life of a serial killer who would otherwise have died, and several more women end up dying – including the mother herself, played by Elizabeth Mitchell (who, unlike Quaid, is actually younger than Caviezel).

Now, instead of having his mother but not his father from 1969 to 1999, he now has his father but not his mother from 1969 to 1989 – the father living long enough to see the son graduate from the police academy, but dying from smoking before the son makes Detective.

Using the ham radio, father and son, roughly the same age as each other, track down the killer, played by Shaun Doyle, a Canadian actor who appeared on the series Lost and Big Love, and now appears on the SyFy series Lost Girl. He was so creepy in Frequency that he really should have played the Joker in The Dark Knight, and not just to save Heath Ledger’s life. Seriously, look at his face and his hair (in the 1969 sequence) at the end of the film, and tell me he wouldn’t have made a good Joker.

The kicker is that, as a result of his 1969 confrontation with the killer, the father begins to be suspected for the killings (which do not yet include his wife) by a young cop, played by Andre Braugher, who will be the son’s mentor and boss in 1999.

The way the father gets out of this, and back on the killer’s trail, is that Game 5 of the Series is being shown on a TV behind them. Having been told what’s going to happen by his son from 30 years in the future, he tells the cop (whose nickname is Satch, after baseball legend Satchel Paige) about the Cleon Jones shoe-polish incident and the subsequent Donn Clendenon home run. When it happens, the cop realized the father really is telling the truth about these messages from his son from the future, releases him, and… well, you’ll just have to see the movie. It’s a fantastic thriller, and I highly recommend it -- even though the Mets are glorified in it.

Also on this day, with a connection to the Mets, Jose Antonio Rosario Valentin is born in Manati, Puerto Rico. The infielder last played in the majors for the Mets in 2007, and his only trip to the postseason was with the AL Central Champion White Sox in 2000. He is now the 1st base coach for the San Diego Padres.

Also on this day, Albert Dwayne Roloson is born in Simcoe, Ontario. He goes by Dwayne, while others call him Roli. The goalie debuted with the Calgary Flames in 1997, was Dominik Hasek's backup on the Buffalo Sabres team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999, was Manny Fernandez's backup on the Minnesota Wild team that reached the Western Conference Finals in 2003, and was the Edmonton Oilers' starting goalie in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.

He later played for the Islanders, and last played in the NHL in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was the last active NHL player who was older than I was.

Also on this day, Sonja Henie dies of leukemia at age 57. The 1928, 1932 and 1936 women's Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating, the Norwegian turned to acting and, while she wasn't much of an actress, she skating in most of her films, which were all profitable, making her one of the highest paid performers in Hollywood.

Although she had met Adolf Hitler before World War II and been on friendly terms with him (as well as with several other world leaders), she was not a Nazi or a fascist, and supported the Allied effort. She had affairs with Joe Louis and Tyrone Power, was linked with Liberace (probably to deflect questions about him being gay), and was married 3 times, including to Yankee co-owner Dan Topping. She had no children.


October 12, 1970: Tanyon James Sturtze is born. Not a Yankee pitcher I care to say anything else about. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts -- was he a “Manchurian Candidate” for the nearby Red Sox?

Charlie Ward Jr. (his full birth name) is also born on this day, in Thomasville, Georgia. The 1993 Heisman Trophy winner led Florida State to that season’s National Championship, but no NFL team would draft him, so he played for the NBA’s Knicks, not for the Giants or the Jets. Which is too bad, because, for a time, when the Giants had Dave Brown and Kent Graham, and the Jets had Neil O’Donnell and Bubby Brister, Ward was the best quarterback in New York. He did, however, play in the 1999 NBA Finals for the Knicks.

He is now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and the head football coach at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida, where his son Caleb plays for him.

Kirk Thomas Cameron is also born on this day, in Los Angeles. He has spent most his time since Growing Pains went off the air making Christian Fundamentalist-themed films, including the movie versions of the Left Behind fables. His sister Candace Cameron, one of the stars of Full House, is also a fundamentalist, and married hockey star Valeri Bure (who also has a famous brother, hockey legend Pavel Bure).

October 12, 1971: Anthony James Fiore is born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. Tony didn't last long as a major league pitcher, but he did reach the Playoffs with the 2002 Minnesota Twins.

At least he's still alive. That is not the case with Bronzell La James Miller, born on this day in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way, Washington. The defensive end was an original 1995 Jacksonville Jaguar, a 1998 Grey Cup winner with the Calgary Stampeders, and an actor before dying of cancer in 2013.

October 12, 1972: The Oakland Athletics defeat the Detroit Tigers, 2-1, and take the American League Pennant. The winning run is scored by Reggie Jackson on the front end of a double-steal, but Reggie tears his hamstring, and is unable to play in the World Series. He will make up for that many times, as he is the only man to win World Series MVPs with two different teams, the A’s in ’73 and the Yankees in ’77.

After the game, in spite of the joy of the Pennant, Johnny "Blue Moon" Odom and Vida Blue give new meaning to the term "the Swingin' A's" when the starting pitcher and the game's closer begin to brawl in the clubhouse. Odom, who left after 5 innings having allowed a run on 2 hits, takes exception to the universal choke sign made by Vida Blue, when the reliever used the gesture to answer his own question, "How come you starters can't finish what you begin?"

Also on this day, the New England Whalers made their debut, in the World Hockey Association. They defeated the Philadelphia Blazers 2-0 at the Boston Garden. They would win the 1st WHA title in 1973. Tired of being mistreated by their landlords, the NHL's Bruins, they would move to Hartford in 1974. In 1979, following the WHA's collapse, they were allowed into the NHL, and changed their name to the Hartford Whalers. In 1997, they moved to become the Carolina Hurricanes, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Also on this day, the Winnipeg Jets, the team that came to define the WHA in so many ways, debuted. So did the obligatory New York Tri-State Area franchise in the league, the New York Raiders. Christian Bordeleau scored 4 goals, including the club's 1st, and the Jets won, 6-4. Only 6,273 fans come out, mainly because the legal maneuvering that would allow Bobby Hull to play for the Jets had not yet been settled, and he wasn't available.

The Raiders wanted the new Nassau Coliseum, but got pushed around by the expansion Islanders. The Garden was willing to take them in, but they were low priority. Marvin Milkes, the Seattle Pilots general manager made infamous by Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, was their GM -- that should tell you what kind of organization they were. Their main radio announcer was a young John Sterling. By midseason, their ownership had bailed, the league took them over, they spent the 1973-74 season in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill as the Jersey Knights -- the only South Jersey team ever to be remotely considered "major league," and folded.

The Jets would be considerably luckier, settling the situation with Hull (the Golden Jet, for whom the team was named), reaching the 1st WHA Finals (where they lost to the Whalers), and winning the title in 1976, '78 and '79. Taken into the NHL, and stripped of their big stars (Hull played out the string in Hartford, while Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson were sold to the Rangers), they collapsed immediately, set an NHL record for longest winless streak, and became known as Lose-ipeg. They would recover somewhat, but never got close to a Stanley Cup, and became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 and the Arizona Coyotes in 2014. The Atlanta Thrashers became the new Winnipeg Jets in 2011.

October 12, 1973: Lesli Guillermo Brea is born in Berkeley, California. He briefly pitched for the Orioles in 2000 and '01.

October 12, 1974: For the first time, teams from California oppose each other in the World Series. The Oakland A’s beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 at Dodger Stadium. Reggie Jackson homers, and so does Ken Holtzman, becoming the last pitcher to hit a home run in a World Series game for 34 years.

Rollie Fingers relieves Holtzman in the 5th, and pitches all the way to the 9th, when he gives up a home run to Jimmy Wynn to get the Dodgers to within 3-2.  A’s manager Alvin Dark brings in starter Jim “Catfish” Hunter to get the last out.

October 12, 1975, 40 years ago: Game 2 of the World Series. Bill Lee takes a 2-1 lead into the 9th inning. The dream feels very close for Red Sox fans. But the Cincinnati Reds come from behind and beat Boston 3-2, and tie up the Series.

On this same day, Marion Lois Jones is born in Los Angeles. She was supposed to be one of the heroines of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and she won 3 Gold Medals in sprinting. But she was stripped of her medals after it was revealed she cheated, and lied about it under oath during the BALCO investigation, and was also guilty of check fraud. She served 6 months in prison.

She married shot-putter C.J. Hunter, split from him, and began seeing sprinter Tim Montgomery. When their son, Tim Jr., was born, I joked that he'd become the world's fastest baby. But she and Tim Sr. never got married. She later married Barbadian sprinter Obadele Thompson, and they have 2 children.

Having played on a National Championship women's basketball team at the University of North Carolina, after she got out of the joint, she signed for the WNBA's Tulsa Shock, and played for them in the 2010 and '11 seasons.

October 12, 1977: The Dodgers pounce on aching Yankee starter Catfish Hunter, and win Game 2, 6-1, and tie up the Series. Billy Martin is criticized for putting Catfish on the mound when he’d been injured and hadn’t pitched in a month, but it allowed Billy to start Mike Torrez in Game 3, rookie sensation Ron Guidry in Game 4, and Don Gullett in Game 5, all on full rest.

During the ABC broadcast, the camera on the Goodyear blimp caught the image of an abandoned school on fire, just a few blocks east of Yankee Stadium. Legend has it that ABC's Howard Cosell said, on the air, “There it is, ladies and gentlemen: The Bronx is burning.” This became the title of Jonathan Mahler’s book about life in New York City in 1977, and of the ESPN miniseries about it. Except the broadcast survives, and it proves that he didn't say it.

Also on this day, Samuel Bode Miller is born in Easton, New Hampshire. Like a typical pre-2001 New England athlete, the skier was much-hyped in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, but choked. Unlike a typical post-2001 New England athlete, Bode didn't subsequently cheat (as far as we know), and did win a Gold Medal in the "super combined" in 2010 in Vancouver. His total of 6 Olympic medals (in 2006, 2010, and 2014 in Sochi, Russia) is a record for an American skier.

October 12, 1979: The much-hyped opponents from the previous March's collegiate National Championship game make their NBA debuts. Earvin "Magic" Johnson scores 26 points, and veteran Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scores 29, and the Los Angeles Lakers need them all to defeat the San Diego Clippers, 103-102 at the San Diego Sports Arena.

Larry Bird has a quieter debut, scoring 14 points, but the Boston Celtics have an easier game, overcoming 31 points from Moses Malone and defeating the Houston Rockets 114-106 at the Boston Garden.

Also on this day, the Utah Jazz make their debut after 5 seasons without making the Playoffs as the far more sensibly-named New Orleans Jazz. It doesn't go much better, getting pounded 101-85 by the Portland Trail Blazers at the Portland Memorial Coliseum.

Coach Frank Layden will eventually right the ship in Salt Lake City, and make them a consistent Playoff team and a model franchise, though they've never won a title. He would also remark that the team, and the Minneapolis Lakers, had names that made sense in their original cities, but not anymore. He suggested that they switch names, as "Los Angeles Jazz" and "Utah Lakers" both made much more sense.


October 12, 1980: The Phillies win the Pennant with a 10-inning 8-7 win over the Astros in the deciding Game 5 at the Astrodome. Each of the last 4 games of this epic series was decided in extra innings. The Phils‚ down by 3 runs to Nolan Ryan in the 8th‚ rally to tie, and center fielder Garry Maddox makes up for his Playoff goof of 2 years earlier by doubling home the winning run and catching the final out.

Although Tug McGraw had been on the mound when the Phils clinched the Division in Montreal, and would be on the mound when they clinched the World Series at home 9 days later, he was already out of the Pennant-clincher before it ended. Dick Ruthven, the Phils’ Number 2 starter behind Steve Carlton, turned out to be the pitcher on the mound at the end. This was the Phils’ 1st Pennant in 30 years, and only the 2nd by a Philadelphia team in the last 49.

Also on this day, Ledley Brenton King is born in the Bow section of East London. For 13 seasons, he played centreback for Arsenal's North London arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, winning just one trophy, the 2008 League Cup. "Spurs" fans called Ledley, for the last few years also their Captain, "The King" and a "legend." I guess he's what passes for a legend at White Hart Lane. Arsenal fans, noting his lack of speed, called him "Leadfoot Queen." He did get selected for England at the 2010 World Cup, for all the good that did them, or him. He now works in Spurs' youth setup.

October 12, 1981: Thomas John Guiry is born in Trenton, New Jersey. He grew up in the Trenton suburb of Hamilton, and, through his acting proceeds, his parents were able to send him to the prestigious, preppy Lawrenceville School. Best known for playing Scotty Smalls, the protagonist of The Sandlot, he still acts. All together now: "Yer killin' me, Smalls."

Also on this day, Foluwashola Ameobi is born in Zaira, Nigeria. The longtime forward for soccer club Newcastle United helped them win their most recent title of any kind, the 2006 Intertoto Cup, and, though currently unsigned to any team, remains a beloved figure in the North-East of England. He played for Nigeria in the 2014 World Cup.

October 12, 1982: The Milwaukee Brewers win the 1st World Series game the franchise has ever played, clobbering the Cardinals, 10-0 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Paul Molitor sets a Series record, becoming the first player to collect 5 hits in a game. Robin Yount gets 4 hits.

October 12, 1983: Carlton Michael George Cole Okirie is born in Croydon, South London. Known professionally as Carlton Cole, the striker helped West London club Chelsea win the Premier League in 2006, but is best known for playing for East London club West Ham United. He is currently a free agent.

October 12, 1986: Game 5 of the ALCS. One loss away from elimination and trailing 5-2 entering the 9th‚ the Red Sox stage one of the most improbable comebacks in post-season history, winning 7-6 over the Angels in 11 innings.

After Don Baylor’s 9th-inning home run reduces the deficit to 5-4‚ reserve outfielder Dave Henderson slugs a 2-out‚ 2-run home run off Donnie Moore to give Boston a 6-5 lead. California ties the score with a run in the bottom of the 9th but Henderson‚ who had appeared to be the goat when he dropped Bobby Grich’s long fly ball over the fence for a home run in the 7th inning‚ delivers a sacrifice fly in the 11th for the winning run.

The Sox would win the Pennant 3 days later. Three years later, still despondent over having given up the home run that blew the Pennant for the Angels, Moore shot his wife, then himself. She lived, he didn’t. A loss in a baseball game may be a terrible disappointment, but there is a difference between disappointment, however great, and tragedy.

Henderson would also hit the home run that appeared to give the Sox Game 6 of the World Series, and their first title in 68 years. That they did not finish the job, and how they failed, has become legend. If they had, Henderson would have become a god in New England. That he is not is no fault of his.

He would later help Oakland with 3 straight Pennants, and he was invited to throw out the ceremonial first ball before Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS between the Red Sox and Angels. Unfortunately for the Sox, it didn’t work any more than the Yankees bringing out Bucky Dent to do the honors before Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS between the Yanks and the Sox.

On the same day, the Houston Astros shake off yesterday's walkoff loss to the Mets, and win 3-1, to tie up the NLCS at 2 apiece. Alan Ashby hits a home run. So does Dickie Thon, the once-promising 2nd baseman whose career nearly ended early in 1984, when he was beaned by Mike Torrez, then wih the Mets.

October 12, 1987: The Minnesota Twins defeat the Detroit Tigers, 9-5, and win their 1st Pennant in 22 years. This was a major upset, as the Twins had won just 85 games in the regular season, and many people (including myself) were picking the Tigers to win it all. We did not reckon with the power of the Metrodome. Fortunately, no one will ever have to reckon with it again.

This is the 1st Pennant ever won by a team playing its home games indoors -- the Twins’ 1965 Pennant was won while they still played outdoors, in the suburb of Bloomington, at Metropolitan Stadium.

October 12, 1988: Orel Hershiser shuts out the Mets, and the Dodgers win Game 7 and the Pennant, 6-0. New York -- the National League “half” of it, anyway, the half that should have cared about this -- finally had a chance to stick it to the evil O’Malley family, and they blew it.

The Mets, whose fans did not realize that their “dynasty” had ended without really becoming one, would not return to the NLCS for 11 years – but that’s sooner than did the Dodgers, who waited 20 years.


October 12, 1993: The Florida Panthers, representing Miami-Fort Lauderdale, make their NHL debut. Scott Mellanby scores their 1st goal, but they lose 2-1 to the Pittsbugh Penguins at Miami Arena.

October 12, 1994: Tony Adams captains the England national soccer team for the 1st time. It is the first time in 55 years – since George Male led the national side out, just prior to the breakout of World War II – that a current Arsenal player has been England Captain. (David Platt had skippered England the year before, but wouldn’t be purchased by Arsenal until the 1995-96 off-season.) England play Romania to a 1-1 draw at Wembley Stadium in London.

October 12, 1996: René Lacoste dies at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, on the west coast of France in the Pyrenees. He was 92. In his era, tennis players who weren't from Australia usually didn't make the long boat trip to play in the Australian Open. This may have cost him a Grand Slam, as he won the French Open and Wimbledon in 1925, the U.S. Open in 1926, the French and U.S. in 1927, Wimbledon in 1928, and the French in 1929.

Known as "The Crocodile" for his tenacity on he court, in 1929 he designed the Lacoste tennis shirt, with its crocodile logo. 

October 12, 1999: Wilt Chamberlain dies of heart disease at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was only 63, but had lived the lives of 10 men. If you get a chance, read his 1991 memoir Wilt: A View From Above. The entire book, not just the chapter about his encounters with women. Wilt was a fascinating guy with a lot to say, and knew how to say it.

At the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland, the NBA celebrated its 50th Anniversary by introducing its 50 Greatest Players. Well, 47 of them: Pete Maravich had already died, Jerry West was in the hospital, and the still-active Shaquille O'Neal was injured, and chose not to come. The still-active Patrick Ewing was injured, but did care enough to show up and take his ovation, which may have been exaggerated in order to send Shaq a message, as was the booing Shaq's name got.

In the locker room before the ceremony, Michael Jordan was telling anyone who would listen that he was the greatest basketball player of all time. Wilt had heard that before, and he walked over, and told Jordan the truth: "Michael, my man, when you played, they changed the rules to make it easier for you. When I played, they changed the rules to make it harder for me. And it didn't work." And Wilt walked off. Talk about "dropping the Mike."

Wilton Norman Chamberlain was the greatest basketball player who ever lived. Anybody who says it's Jordan, or LeBron James, or anyone else, doesn't know what the hell they're talking about.


October 12, 2003: Joan Kroc, former owner of the San Diego Padres (inheriting them from her husband, McDonald’s tycoon Ray Kroc) dies at age 85. She had recently been the formerly “anonymous angel” who donated a huge sum to disaster relief when floods hit the Upper Midwest.

On this same day, the best possible thing that could happen in the Yanks-Red Sox ALCS does happen: Rain. An extra 24 hours gives everyone a chance to cool off a little.

With his team having lost 3 consecutive playoff games and on the brink of elimination in the NLCS, Marlins starter Florida Josh Beckett sends the series back to Chicago when he strikes out 11 Chicago batters and gives up just 2 hits, en route to tossing a 4-0 shutout at Pro Player Stadium.

Still, the series goes back to Chicago, and the Cubs will only have to win 1 out of 2 at Wrigley Field to win their 1st Pennant since 1945. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Right?

Also on this day, Willie Shoemaker dies at age 72. Once the winningest jockey in thoroughbred history with 8,833 wins, including 4 Kentucky Derbies (including 1986 aboard Ferdinand, when he was almost 55 years old), 2 Preakness Stakes, 5 Belmont Stakes and the 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic (he was 56), he had been a quadriplegic since a 1991 crash in which he drove drunk.

"Shoe" died 4 years to the day after "The Big Dipper." A few years before Shoe's car crash, Wilt Chamberlain (7-foot-1) and Bill Shoemaker (as he preferred to be called, 4-foot-11) posed together for a print ad for American Express. My mother remarked that the height (and racial) difference meant that, despite wearing nearly identical white suits and both being perhaps the greatest performers ever in their respective sports, they didn't even look like the same species.
October 12, 2004: Game 1 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Mike Mussina takes a perfect game into the 7th inning, but falls apart. Lucky for him, the Yankees had jumped out to an 8-0 lead on the Red Sox, and hold on to win, 10-7.

This would not be the most eventful game in the series. It would only be the 6th-most eventful.

October 12, 2005, 10 years ago: In Boston, it’s Larry Barnett (1975 World Series Game 3). In St. Louis, it’s Don Denkinger (1985 World Series Game 6). In Baltimore, it’s Rich Garcia (1996 ALCS Game 1). In Atlanta, it’s Eric Gregg (1997 NLCS Game 5). In Orange County, California, the most hated of all umpires is Doug Eddings.

Game 2 of the ALCS at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The Angels are up 1 game to 0 in the ALCS. Game 2 is tied 1-1 with the White Sox batting in the bottom of the 9th and 2 out. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski faces Angels relief pitcher Kelvim Escobar, who quickly gets 2 strikes. Pierzynski swings at Escobar’s 3rd pitch, a split-fingered fastball that comes in very low. Angels catcher Josh Paul says after the game, “I caught the ball, so I thought the inning was over.”

Eddings later said the ball had not been legally caught, but he made no audible call that the ball hit the ground. Pierzynski, already having had a reputation as a rough player, takes a couple of steps toward the dugout, but then, noticing that he had not heard himself called out, turns and runs to 1st base while most of the Angels are walking off the field. He makes it to 1st safely. A pinch-runner, Pablo Ozuna, replaces Pierzynski and steals 2nd base, and scores on a base hit by 3rd baseman Joe Crede for the winning run.

The controversy surrounding the play concerns both whether Eddings’ ruling (that the ball hit the ground) was correct, and the unclear mechanic for signaling the ruling. Eddings did not indicate no-catch signals during the game. In fact, in the 2nd inning of the same game, Eddings had ruled "no catch" on a 3rd strike to Garret Anderson of the Angels, but the White Sox were not aware of the ruling until Eddings called Anderson out as he entered the dugout. At the time, professional umpiring mechanics did not dictate a specific no-catch signal or a “no catch” verbalization after an uncaught third strike. A mechanic has subsequently been added.

After the game, Eddings explained his actions: “My interpretation is that was my ‘strike three’ mechanic, when it’s a swinging strike. If you watch, that’s what I do the whole entire game… I did not say, ‘No catch.’ If you watch the play, you do watch me -- as I’m making the mechanic, I’m watching Josh Paul, and so I’m seeing what he’s going to do. I’m looking directly at him while I’m watching Josh Paul. That’s when Pierzynski ran to first base.”

Angels fans remain convinced that Eddings screwed them over and cost them a Pennant – and, since the ChiSox went on to sweep the Houston Astros in 4 straight, that Eddings also cost them the World Series. They are wrong: The video clearly shows the ball touching the ground, and Angels catcher Benjie Molina should have tried to throw Pierzynski out at 1st. He didn’t, therefore Pierzynski was entitled to the base. Eddings was right, and Pierzynski acted within the rules of the game.

And here’s the key: The series was still tied. While the next 3 games were going to be in Chicago, theoretically the Angels still had as much chance to win the Pennant as the Pale Hose did. They could have shut their traps, gotten their acts together, and gone out and won Game 3 in Chicago, taken a 2-1 lead in the series, and it would have been a very different story. Instead, like the '96 Orioles on the Jeffrey Maier play, like the ’85 Cards on the Denkinger/Jorge Orta play, and like the ’78 Dodgers on the Reggie Jackson “hip-check” play, they let the incident get into their heads. They lost 3 straight and the Pennant. They did not deserve to win that one. The White Sox, thinking clearly, did.

October 12, 2006: Game 2 of the NLCS. Carlos Delgado hits 2 home runs, but Billy Wagner implodes in he 9th inning, and the Mets fall to the Cardinals 9-6 at Shea Stadium. The series is now tied 1-1.

Met fans talk about how their starting pitching was an injury-riddled question mark going into this series, and they talk about Game 7. Funny, but they never mention what a lousy late-season and postseason reliever Wagner was. He may have cost the Astros at least the Division Series in 1997, '98, '99 and 2001, the Phillies at least a Playoff berth in 2004 and '05, and the Mets this Pennant.

October 12, 2010: Behind the complete-game effort by Cliff Lee, the Texas Rangers beat Tampa Bay, 5-1, in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field, for the 1st Playoff series victory in franchise history.

They are the last major league club to accomplish the task — unless you count the fact that the Montreal Expos, who did it in the strike-forced split-season format of 1981, still haven’t done it since they became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

The Rangers, who will take on the Yankees for the AL flag, lost their 3 previous playoff appearances with 1st-round losses to the Bronx Bombers in 1996 and 1998-99.

October 12, 2012: The biggest game in Washington baseball in 79 years is Game 5 of the NLDS at Nationals Park. The Nationals lead the Cardinals, 7-5 going into the 9th inning.
But Nats reliever Drew Storen implodes, allowing a double to Carlos Beltran, a walk to Yadier Molina, another walk to David Freese, a single to Daniel Descalso, a stolen base by Descalso, and a single to Pete Kozma. The Nats go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, and the Cards win, 9-7, and advance to the NLCS. The Nats went from having, according to, a 93 percent chance of winning the game to losing it.

Concerned about putting too much stress on his arm after coming back from Tommy John surgery at the start of the season, the Nats had shut down ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg for the season after September 7, at which point he had pitched 159 innings. I wonder what Nats management would have given to have Strasburg pitch to just 1 batter: Descalso, when there were 2 outs and the score was still 7-5. Keeping Strasburg off the postseason roster was a major blunder.

Strasburg was allowed to pitch 183 innings in 2013, but was only 8-9. This year, the Nats gave him an NL-leading 34 starts, and he pitched 214 innings; he went only 14-11, but had a 3.14 ERA, and the Nats won the NL East again. But in his 1st postseason appearance, he was taken out after 5 innings, trailing the San Francisco Giants 2-0, and the Nats lost it 3-2. Had he still been pitching in the 7th, it could have been 2-2, and then, who knows? But, in 2 postseason series, they've had Strasburg pitch a total of 5 innings, and they've lost both.ut, hey, Strasburg came back strong in 2013, didn’t he? Not really: He threw 183 innings, and had a 3.00 ERA and a 1.049 WHIP, but was only 8-9, after going 15-6 the year before.

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