Friday, October 2, 2015

Happy Bucky Dent Day!

October 2 is not a good day in Boston Red Sox history. Especially where the New York Yankees are concerned.

But it's a good day in Yankee history. Especially when they play the Red Sox.

October 2, 1949: The Yankees play the Red Sox in the last game of the season, and the winner was going to win the AL Pennant (in the pre-Divisional play era). The Yankees lead 1-0 going into the top of the 8th, when Joe McCarthy, who’d led the Yankees to 7 World Championships but was now managing the Red Sox, sends up Tom Wright to pinch-hit for pitcher Ellis Kinder (in the pre-Designated Hitter era).

This proves to be a mistake, as Mel Parnell and Tex Hughson — pretty good starting pitchers for Boston — let in 4 more runs in the bottom of the 8th. The Sox pull 3 back in the top of the 9th, but the Yankees hold on to win, 5-3.

Among the Yankees who played in that game, 65 years ago, there are no more surviving players, as Yogi Berra was the last one. Bobby Brown is still alive, but he did not get into the game. From the Red Sox, only Wright and Hall of Fame 2nd baseman Bobby Doerr survive.

October 2, 1972: The Sox begin a 3-game series with the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium, which would decide the AL East. (Only 2 Divisions per League back then.) Whoever wins 2 out of 3 will win the Division.

In the top of the 3rd, Carl Yastrzemski doubles off Mickey Lolich. Tommy Harper, who was on 3rd base, scores easily. Luis Aparicio, the legendary shortstop of the Chicago White Sox, was on 1st for the Red Sox and should score easily.  And yet…

If you made a list of the Top 10 players in the history of baseball known for baserunning, Aparicio might be on that list. But he trips rounding 3rd, and has to hold there, and Yaz is thrown out trying to stretch his double to a triple. Reggie Smith then strikes out to end the inning. The game is tied 1-1, but should be at least 2-1 Red Sox. The Tigers end up winning 4-1, and win the next night to win the Division.

October 2, 1978: The Yankees and Red Sox play that famous one-game Playoff at Fenway Park, the Boston Tie Party. When the top of the 7th begins, the Sox lead 2-0, with Mike Torrez pitching a 2-hit shutout.

Think about it: Today, Torrez would probably have been told he’d pitched a great game, and let the bullpen handle it from here. Although, to be fair, Sox fans generally don’t blame Torrez for what happened next. They blame manager Don Zimmer.

But Torrez is left in. He gets Graig Nettles to fly to right, but allows singles to Chris Chambliss and Roy White. Jim Spencer pinch-hits for Brian Doyle, who was subbing at 2nd base for the injured Willie Randolph. (Fred “Chicken” Stanley took over at 2nd the rest of the way). Spencer flies to left.

And then up comes shortstop Russell Earl "Bucky" Dent. You know what happens: As Yankee broadcaster Bill White said on WPIX-Channel 11: “Deep to left, Yastrzemski will… not get it! It’s a home run! A three-run home run for Bucky Dent, and now, the Yankees lead it by a score of 3-2!”

Then Torrez walks Mickey Rivers, and then Zimmer pulls him for Bob Stanley. Mick the Quick steals 2nd. Thurman Munson doubles him home, before Stanley finally ends the rally by getting Lou Piniella to fly to right. It is 4-2, and the Yanks would win, 5-4.

On July 20, the Sox led the American League Eastern Division by 9 1/2 games. The Yankees were 14 games back. Now, the Sox have won 99 games, and they don't even make the Playoffs.

The Yankees? They go on to win their 22nd World Championship, all since the Sox won their last, 60 years ago.

To this day, even after their team has finally cheated its way to 3 World Series wins, October 2, 1978 still bothers Sox fans.

Let it.

As for Bucky, he is approaching his 64th birthday, and still runs his baseball school in Florida.

As for you, the Yankee Fan... Happy Bucky Dent Day!


October 2, 1452: Richard Plantagenet is born at Fotheringhay Castle in Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, England. This is also where Mary, Queen of Scots would be imprisoned and executed in 1587. It was demolished a few decades after that. The subject of this entry wouldn't fare much better than Mary and the castle.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, of the House of York, was a great horseman (thus tangentially connecting this entry to sports), a great soldier, and, as his supporters would tell us over 500 years later, a great administrator.

Unfortunately, he was also quite evil. He may have been behind the assassination of deposed King Henry VI. He may have been behind the charges that led to the execution of his older brother, George, Duke of York. And then, when his eldest brother, King Edward IV of England, died in 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector of Edward's sons, 13-year-old King Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. Instead of watching over them and the country until young Edward turned 18 and could rule in his own right, he had them imprisoned, declared illegitimate, and murdered. Thus did Gloucester become King Richard III.

This, of course, was told in William Shakespeare's play Richard III, containing the legendary opening soliloquy that begins, "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York!" and continues into a woe-is-me tirade for the man then 4th in line for the throne.

Richard was not a hunchback, as Shakespeare suggested, but when his remains were discovered Leicester in 2013, it was found that he had scoliosis, which could have provided a similar effect. Yet a body double of similar age was found, and given a contemporary-style suit of armor, for a documentary, Resurrecting Richard III, proving that his form of scoliosis would have been no impediment to riding a horse, jousting, or even combat on horseback in battle.

But on horseback in battle did Richard ride, because, after just 2 years, the people of England had had enough of him, and support surged to Henry Tudor, a Welsh-born descendant of Edward III, and Richard fell at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire on August 22, 1485.

Tudor became King Henry VII, and he married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, thus uniting the Houses of Lancaster (through himself) and York (through her), absorbing the House of Plantagenet into the House of Tudor, and ending the Wars of the Roses after 30 years. Despite this monumental achievement, Henry VII is best known today, over 500 years after his death, as the father of King Henry VIII. Oh well, it could be worse: Today, 200 years after he fell from power for the last time, Napoleon Bonaparte is remembered for his hat, being short, and as the namesake of a pastry.


October 2, 1535: French explorer Jacques Cartier -- "Jimmy Carter" in English, if you will -- discovers what will become the Island of Montreal in New France (Quebec). Thus does he make possible 52 Stanley Cup wins (24 by the Montreal Canadiens), 9 Grey Cup wins (7 by the Montreal Alouettes), the integrated baseball debut of Jackie Robinson, the 1976 Olympic Games, and the tragedy of the Montreal Expos.

October 2, 1869: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is born in Porbandar, Gujarat, India. Despite his nickname "The Mahatma" (meaning "Great Soul") also being given to the great baseball executive Branch Rickey (and I have no idea what he, a devout Methodist, thought of that), as far as I know, he had nothing to do with sports. But in 1983, an article titled "Gandhi at the Bat" was printed in The New Yorker, taking place in 1933, 50 years earlier, and featured him meeting Babe Ruth and "playing for the Yankees."

He and his friend Jawaharlal Nehru are the founding fathers of the modern Indian nation, which, despite its oppression by the British, came to love the British sports of cricket and field hockey, and now finally seems to be absorbing soccer as well.

October 2, 1890, 125 years ago: Julius Henry Marx is born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We knew him as Groucho Marx. He made 13 feature films as one of the Marx Brothers, all of them with Leonard (Chico, 1887-1961) and Arthur (Harpo, 1888-1964); 7 with brother Herbert (Zeppo, 1901-1979). Zeppo, the youngest (and also the last survivor), replaced Milton (Gummo, 1892-1977) while they were still a stage act, before they had appeared in any films.

Sports? One of their most famous films was the 1937 horse-racing picture A Day at the Races. Groucho was well-established as a Brooklyn Dodger fan. I suspect that, on occasion, he left Ebbets Field in a huff. Or even in a minute and a huff.

After Chico and Harpo essentially retired in 1949, Groucho embraced television, hosting the game show You Bet Your Life and making many appearances on The Tonight Show. It was on that show in 1957, hosted by Jack Paar, that all 5 brothers made their last public appearance together. Once Johnny Carson took over as host in 1962, he had Groucho on many times, and, as he always did, Groucho stole the show.

Groucho died on August 19, 1977, at age 86, 3 days after the much younger Elvis Presley did. I have no idea what Groucho thought of Elvis.

October 2, 1891: For the first time, a game in what we would now call Major League Baseball is played in the State of Minnesota. I can find no reason why; it wasn't due to a team escaping a local blue law so it could play on Sunday, since the day was a Friday. It's one of the last games in the 19th Century American Association, which was considered a major league, not the 20th Century version a minor league. The Milwaukee Brewers (not to be confused with the current team of that name) beat the Columbus Buckeyes 5-0 at Athletic Park in Minneapolis.

October 2, 1895, 120 years ago: William Alexander Abbott is born in Asbury Park, New Jersey. With fellow New Jersey native Lou Costello of Paterson, Bud Abbott formed one of the great comedy teams of the 1st half of the 20th Century, best known for their "Who's On First?" routine. Legend has it that Abbott was watching that very routine on TV in 1959 when he got a phone call telling him that Lou had died. Bud lived on until 1974.

October 2, 1898: Unlike the 1891 Milwaukee Brewers, the Brooklyn Superbas (forerunners of the Dodgers) did escape New York City's blue laws so that they can play on a Sunday. They play the Washington Nationals (not to be confused with the current team of that name) across the Hudson River in Weehawken, New Jersey. Candy LaChance hits a home run, and Brooklyn wins, 4-3.

October 2, 1899: Rube Waddell of the Louisville Colonels sets a major league record with 14 strikeouts, beating the Chicago Orphans (not yet the Cubs, they "missed their Pop," Adrian C. "Cap" or "Pop" Anson), 6-1. Clark Griffith took the loss. Oh yeah: Waddell's 14 Ks came in only 8 innings, because the game was called due to darkness.

Griffith would become the 1st manager of the White Sox in 1901, and, with himself as staff ace, win the 1st AL Pennant. He would then become the 1st manager of the New York Highlanders (forerunners of the Yankees) in 1903, and nearly manage and pitch them to a Pennant in 1904. Waddell, already the best lefthanded pitcher in the game, starred for the Philadelphia Athletics, before Connie Mack finally got tired of his drinking and his wandering mind. He died of tuberculosis in 1914, only 37 years old.


October 2, 1903: The 1st World Series is tied at 1 game apiece, as the Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0. Bill Dinneen pitches a shutout for the proto-Red Sox, and Patsy Dougherty hits the 1st and 2nd World Series home runs, off Pirate pitcher Sam Leever.

October 2, 1908:  In a wild 3-team American League race, every bit as tight as the 3-team race going on in the National League at the same time, the AL has perhaps its greatest pitching duel ever, between 2 future Hall-of-Famers, at League Park in Cleveland.

Big Ed Walsh of the White Sox strikes on 15 batters, which will be an AL record for 30 years. But it’s not enough, as Addie Joss, a.k.a. the Human Hairpin for his slender build and his tight pitching motion, pitches a perfect game for the Cleveland Indians, and the Indians win, 1-0.

And yet, neither team wins the Pennant. The Detroit Tigers do, the Indians finishing half a game behind, the White Sox 1 1/2 behind: Detroit 90-63, Cleveland 90-64, Chicago 88-64. Why wasn’t the Tigers’ missing 154th game made up? I don’t know: Neither The Unforgettable Season by G.H. Fleming nor Crazy '08 by Cait Murphy explains why.

It’s the 2nd of 3 straight Pennants for the Tigers. The ChiSox had won in 1901 and 1906. The Indians will not get this close to a Pennant again until they win it all in 1920. I'll get to that in a moment.

October 2, 1914: The Yankees make 5 errors, and lose to the Boston Red Sox, 11-5 at Fenway Park. The Boston pitcher, a 19-year-old rookie, also gets his 1st major league hit, a double off Yankee pitcher Leonard Leslie "King" Cole.

Cole will not be long for this world: He soon develops tuberculosis, and dies in 1916, only 29 years old. But the Sox rookie will be heard from again. His name is George Herman Ruth Jr. That's right, the Babe. There would be 2,872 others, 714 of them home runs, 659 of those for the Yankees.

October 2, 1916: The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Boston Braves, 2-0 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, as Grover Cleveland Alexander notches his 33rd win of the season, and his 16th shutout, a record. He got those 16 whitewashes, and 12 the season before, as a righthanded pitcher playing home games in Baker Bowl, whose right-field fence was only 280 feet from home plate.

October 2, 1917: Alexander wins his 30th of this season, defeating the New York Giants 8-2, also at Baker Bowl. He also hits 2 doubles. But this will be his last game in a Philadelphia uniform: Fearing that he might get drafted into World War I, and killed or incapacitated in combat, the Phils sell him to the Chicago Cubs.

Although he was not wounded in combat, the shelling damaged his hearing, and shell-shock -- which became "battle fatigue" in World War II, and today we would call it "post-traumatic stress disorder" -- caused him to develop epilepsy. It also intensified his drinking problem. In spite of his mound success, both before and after "The War to End All Wars," Alexander was a tragic figure.

October 2, 1919: Game 2 of the World Series. The Cincinnati Reds beat the White Sox 4-2, to go up 2 games to none. Sox pitcher Lefty Williams holds the Reds scoreless for 3 innings, but in the 4th, he walks 3 batters, gives up a single to Edd Roush, and then a triple to Larry Kopf.

Sox manager Kid Gleason tells owner Charlie Comiskey that he's suspicious of his players. But Comiskey has been feuding with his old friend Ban Johnson, President of the American League, with the 2 men having founded the League. So Comiskey goes to National League President John Heydler. Heydler tells Johnson about Gleason's suspicions. But Johnson does nothing about it, thinking people will see it as a vengeful act against Comiskey.

Gleason is not the only one who is suspicious: Chicago-based reporters Ring Lardner and Hugh Fullerton make note of some questionable plays. So does former Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson, covering the Series for a newspaper syndicate.


October 2, 1920: The only tripleheader ever played in the 20th Century, forced by rainouts, is played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The Cincinnati Reds win the first 2 games, 13-4 and 7-3, with the Pittsburgh Pirates avoiding the sweep in the finale, 6-0. Peter Harrison is the home plate umpire for all three games.

October 2, 1925, 90 years ago: Wren Alvin Blair is born in Lindsay, Ontario. He wasn't much of a hockey player, but as a scout for the Boston Bruins, he convinced them to sign Bobby Orr. That alone would be enough reason to remember him.

When the NHL expanded for the 1967-68 season, he became the 1st head coach and the 1st general manager of the Minnesota North Stars. He later served as GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and died in 2013.

October 2, 1926: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st ever played by the St. Louis Cardinals. Bill Sherdel allowed only 6 hits for them, but Herb Pennock allowed only 3, and the Yankees won, 2-1.

October 2, 1927: A benefit game is played at Shibe Park between Philadelphia's teams, to build a gymnasium at Gettysburg College, alma mater of Athletics pitcher Eddie Plank, a 300-game winner who died the year before. The Phillies score in the 2nd inning, and lead 1-0 after 6, when the umpires call the game due to rain.


October 2, 1932: The Yankees win their 12th consecutive World Series game and sweep the Fall Classic for the 3rd time, for their 4th World Championship overall. At Wrigley Field, the Bronx Bombers (the nickname has now replaced “Murderers’ Row”) bang out 19 hits as they club the Chicago Cubs, 13-6.

The last survivor of the 1932 Yankees was pitcher Charlie Devens, who lived until 2003 -- insisting to the end that, in Game 3, Babe Ruth did so call his shot.

Also on this day, Maurice Morning Wills is born in Washington, District of Columbia. Maury was a switch-hitting shortstop, mostly for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a 7-time All-Star who, along with his White Sox contemporaries Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, brought the stolen base back as a major baseball weapon.

In 1962, he stole 104 bases, earning himself the National League Most Valuable Player award, and breaking the established major league record of 96 set by Ty Cobb in 1915. That record would stand for 12 years. Maury helped the Dodgers win the World Series in 1959, 1963 and 1965. He also won 2 Gold Gloves, and finished his career with a .281 batting average and 586 stolen bases.

After broadcasting, and managing in Mexico, he wrote a book titled How to Steal a Pennant, claiming he could take a last-place club and turn it into champions (world, league or division, he didn't specify) in 4 years. Supposedly, the San Francisco Giants offered him their managing job, but he turned it down. (Ill feelings toward them as a result of their rivalry with the Dodgers, perhaps?)

Late in the 1980 season, by which point his son Elliott "Bump" Wills was a 2nd baseman for the Texas Rangers, the Seattle Mariners hired Maury. On May 6, 1981, they fired him, after a series of inexplicable gaffes led to a record of 26-56, a percentage of .317, a pace for 111 losses. He later said he should have taken a minor-league job in organized baseball first, something many players who'd like to manage in the majors have been reluctant to do.

As it turned out, there was an explanation for his behavior: He was an alcoholic and a cocaine addict. He eventually got treatment thanks to the woman who became his 2nd wife. He soon returned to the Dodger organization, played their 3rd base coach in the "present" sequence of the film The Sandlot, and has been a member of the Dodgers Legends Bureau (what some sports teams call a "club ambassador") and a broadcaster for a minor-league team he once managed in Fargo, North Dakota. Like Roger Maris, who grew up in Fargo, he has a museum there in his honor, even though he's far more associated with D.C. and L.A.

October 2, 1934: Earl Lawrence Wilson is born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. On July 28, 1959, he became the 2nd black player for the Red Sox, after Elijah "Pumpsie" Green. On June 26, 1962, pitching against the Los Angeles Angels, he became the 1st black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League. (Sam Jones of the Cubs had done it in the National League, in 1955.) In this game, he also hit a home run off Bo Belinsky, who had pitched a no-hitter earlier in the season.

Wilson is 1 of only 5 pitchers to toss a no-hitter and hit a home run in the same game. The others are Frank Mountain in 1884, Wes Farrell in 1931, Jim Tobin in 1944 and Rick Wise in 1971 (and he hit 2 homers).

Wilson would be traded to the Detroit Tigers, and was part of a rotation that included Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich, and won the 1968 World Series. He went 121-109 over his career, founded an automotive parts company, taught phys ed and coached basketball at a Florida high school, and died in 2005, at age 70.

October 2, 1936: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees score more runs than any team has ever scored in a Series game, and win by the largest margin in Series history, both records still standing through 2015: 18-4 over the Giants. Tony Lazzeri (only the 2nd grand slam in Series play) and Bill Dickey hit home runs, to make an easy winner out of Lefty Gomez.

On the last play, Hank Leiber hits a tremendous drive to deep center. But, this being the Polo Grounds, rookie center fielder Joe DiMaggio turns his back to the wall, and catches it just short of the steps to the center field clubhouse, his momentum taking him up the steps. This catch was further back than Willie Mays' catch 18 Fall Classics later.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the game, and after the final out, his limousine is driven onto the field to take him out, to assist with the cover of his inability to walk unaided. With Secret Service Agents surrounding him to prevent the 55,000 fans from seeing him, he is carried into the car. It drives off the field, and, as it passes the steps, on which DiMaggio still stands out of respect to the President, FDR waves his hat at him. DiMaggio tips his own cap.

Also on this day, Richard Barnett (no middle name) is born in Gary, Indiana, outside Chicago. A guard on the Tennessee State University basketball team at the same time that Wilma Rudolph was leading their "Tigerbelles" women's track team, he won a championship in the short-lived American Basketball League in 1962. They were the 1st sports team owned by George Steinbrenner, then just 31 years old.

When the ABL folded a few months later, he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and helped them reach the NBA Finals in 1963 and '65. His fallaway jump shot led Laker announcer Chick Hearn to nickname him "Fall Back Baby Barnett." The nickname followed him to the Knicks, where he became an All-Star in 1968 and an NBA Champion in 1970 and '73.

He retired after the '73 title, got a Ph.D. in education from Fordham University, and taught sports management at St. John's University until retiring in 2007. The Knicks retired his Number 12, and, due to his doctorate, he is nearly always referred to as "Dr. Dick." He is a member of the College Basketball and Tennessee Sports Halls of Fame, along with his Tennessee State coach, John McLendon.

Also on this date, Conrad William Dierking is born in Brooklyn, and grows up in Valley Stream, Long Island. Like Sandy Koufax, "Connie" was born in Brooklyn and played basketball at the University of Cincinnati. Unlike Koufax, Dierking was better at basketball than at baseball. He was a teammate of Barnett's on Steinbrenner's Cleveland Pipers.

He was a teammate of Oscar Robertson in Cincinnati, both on the UC Bearcats and on the NBA's Cincinnati Royals. He remained in the NBA until 1971, and died in 2013. His daughter Cammy Dierking is a news anchor at WKRC-Channel 12 in Cincinnati.

October 2, 1938: Indians fireballer Bob Feller, just 20 years old, fans 18 Tigers at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, setting a new record for strikeouts in a game. But the Tigers win, 4-1.

Twice, Hank Greenberg is a strikeout victim of Feller's. Greenberg finishes the season with 58 home runs, the 3rd time someone has come close to Babe Ruth’s record of 60 set in 1927. (Jimmie Foxx, who hit 50 this year, had hit 58 in 1932. Hack Wilson had hit 56 in 1930.)

Some people argue that, due to Greenberg being Jewish, he was frequently walked (intentionally or “not”) so that he wouldn’t break the Babe’s record. Hank would go to his grave maintaining his belief that pitchers had pitched to him fairly. I've seen film from this game: Feller, then wearing Number 14 rather than the 19 for which he would later become better associated, was certainly challenging the original Hammerin' Hank, throwing hard, choosing to, as they would say in Jim Bouton's Ball Four, smoke him inside.

October 2, 1939: This was the day after the regular season ended, so, if the film The Natural had been a true story, this would have been the day of the National League Playoff game between the New York Knights and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In real life, the Cincinnati Reds won the NL Pennant. The New York Giants, whose place the Knights had taken in the film's world, finished 5th, 18 1/2 games back. And the Pirates finished 6, 28 1/2 games back.


October 2, 1940, 75 years ago: The Sullivans become the 1st father and son to have both played in a World Series when Billy Sullivan is the Tigers' catcher in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The Tigers beat the Reds, 7-2.

The Detroit catcher's father, Bill Sullivan, appeared in the postseason in 1906, playing the same position for the White Sox when he went 0-for-21 in the Hitless Wonders' 6-game triumph over the Cubs.

October 2, 1941: Game 2 of the World Series. Dolph Camilli's RBI single in the 6th inning gives the Brooklyn Dodgers a 3-2 win over the Yankees, tying up the Series.

Dodger fans are confident, with the next 3 games heading to Ebbets Field. Much like Met fans will later do, they are talking about "taking over New York." But their team will not win another Series game for exactly 6 years.

October 2, 1942: Stephen Douglas Sabol is born in the Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown, New Jersey. He and his father Ed Sabol founded NFL Films, whose filming of games starting in 1962, interviews with old players and preservation of old football films made them true heroes of football without so much as playing a professional down. (Steve did play at Colorado College, not to be confused with the University of Colorado or Colorado State University.)

Steve won 35 Emmy Awards, and was admired by everyone. Without his contributions to NFL Films, there almost certainly be no Major League Baseball Productions, and thus no This Week In Baseball or anything else MLB Productions did. Nor would the NBA or the NHL have their own versions. Without NFL Films' Sadly, he died of cancer in 2012, predeceasing his father by 3 years.

October 2, 1947: Game 3 of the World Series. Yogi Berra hits the 1st pinch-hit home run in Series history. The historic homer comes off Ralph Branca in the 7th inning at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. But the Dodgers win the game anyway, 9-8, and close to within 2 games to 1.

October 2, 1948: Avery Franklin Brooks is born in Evansville, Indiana, and, like Dick Barnett, grows up across the State in Gary. He got a master's degree from Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1976, and has lived in New Jersey ever since.

Paul Robeson, who was, among other things, a Rutgers football player in the 1910s, died in 1976, and inspired Brooks to write and star in the play Paul Robeson, which had its premiere at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Brooks starred as "Hawk" -- I can find no other name for the character -- on the ABC series Spenser: For Hire and A Man Called Hawk, based on the mystery novels by Boston-based writer and baseball fan Robert B. Parker.

But because of the reach of Star Trek, he'll be best remembered as Captain Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. One of the big problems I have with Star Trek is the canon "future history" that says baseball stopped in 2042, due to a lack of popularity. Sisko almost singlehandedly revives the sport throughout the United Federation of Planets in the 2370s.

In the episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," he tells his crewmates/teammates, "There is more to baseball than physical strength. It's, uh... (thinks for a moment) it's about courage. And it's also about faith. And it is also about heart." 


October 2, 1950: The comic strip Peanuts, by Charles Schulz, is first published. The follies of Charlie Brown and his baseball team became well-known over the 50 years that the strip appeared. So did Charlie Brown (his first and last names always used, except when Peppermint Patty called him "Chuck" and Marcie called him "Charles") falling flat on his back ("WHUMP"!) when Lucy Van Pelt pulled away the football he was trying to kick, and she would come up with a new ridiculous excuse every time.

Charlie Brown's beagle, Snoopy, was his shortstop, and frequently imagined himself playing hockey and tennis, surfing ("Whenever I have a wipe out, I have to dog paddle") and ice skating (intending to go to the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France by walking there, and coming back because, "Well, there was this ocean, see... ")

October 2, 1951: Game 2 of the National League Playoff. The Dodgers bounce back in a big way, with home runs from Jackie Robinson, Gil Dodges, Andy Pafko and Rube Walker. (Home runs on the season: Hodges 40, Pafko 30, Robinson 19, Walker... 4.) Clem Labine pitches a 6-hit shutout, and the Dodgers beat the Giants 10-0 at the Polo Grounds.

The Dodgers will regret manager Charley Dressen having stuck with Labine the whole way, making it next to impossible for him to pitch in the deciding game tomorrow, also at the Polo Grounds. Instead, when Dressen needs to relieve Don Newcombe, he'll have a choice of Carl Erskine and Ralph Branca. The choice he makes turns out to be one still second-guessed today, 64 years later.

October 2, 1952: Game 2 of the World Series. Billy Martin loved playing the Dodgers. He hits a home run off Billy Loes, to back the pitching of Vic Raschi, and the Yankees tie the Series, 7-1.

October 2, 1953: Carl Erskine, owner of perhaps the best curveball of his generation, strikes out 14 Yankees in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, to establish a new World Series mark. The Dodger hurler’s performance bests the record of Howard Ehmke, who struck out 13 Cubs for the Philadelphia Athletics in Game 1 of 1929 Fall Classic. Only 1 player is still alive from this game, 62 years later: Erskine himself.

October 2, 1954: The Giants complete the World Series sweep of the Indians, when Don Liddle beats Bob Lemon, 7-4. The Tribe won an AL record 111 games, not losing 4 straight all season. Now they have.

As for the Giants, it is their 5th World Series win. They would not win another for 46 years. No one would have believed that at the time. Nor would they have believed that the Giants would leave New York just 3 years later. Nor would they have believed that center fielder Willie Mays would never win another World Series.

There are 3 Giants are still alive from their ’54 World Series roster, 61 years later: Mays, left fielder Monte Irvin, and pitcher Johnny Antonelli.

October 2, 1955, 60 years ago: Game 5 of the World Series at Ebbets Field. Despite home runs by Yogi Berra and Bob Cerv, Duke Snider hits 2 home runs, Sandy Amoros adds another, and the Dodgers beat the Yankees, 5-3. Roger Craig outpitches Bob Grim, and Clem Labine, who won Game 4, saves this game.

The Dodgers now lead the Yankees 3 games to 2. The home team has won every game in this Series. That's the good news for the Dodgers. The good news for the Yankees is that Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7 will be at Yankee Stadium.

October 2, 1957: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st involving a moved team. Jerry Coleman's squeeze bunt scores Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford outpitches Warren Spahn. The Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves, 3-1.

October 2, 1958: Game 2 of the World Series. The Braves shell Bob Turley, scoring 7 runs in the 1st inning. Even pitcher Lew Burdette, the Yankees' nemesis from last season, hits a home run, as does Bill Bruton, and the Braves win, 13-5, to take a 2 games to 0 lead.

October 2, 1959: The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS. Creator, host and main writer Rod Serling was a big sports fan, and included at least 1 baseball-themed and at least 2 boxing-themed episodes. In the 1960 episode "The Mighty Casey," filmed at the Los Angeles version of Wrigley Field, a robot pitcher is signed, in what turns out to be a vain attempt to save a fictional team called the Hoboken Zephyrs from being moved.

In the 1963 episode "On Thursday We Leave for Home," set in 1991, a rescue of a spaceship lost in 1963 is made, and one of the rescued astronauts asks, "What city are the Dodgers in now?" Correctly as it turned out, he is told, "Los Angeles."


October 2, 1961: Coming out of retirement, former Yankee skipper Casey Stengel agrees to manage the Mets, New York’s National League expansion team.  Actually, he goofs, and says, “I’m very pleased to be managing the New York Knickerbockers.” I guess nobody told him the real name of the team — which, since it hadn’t played a game yet, was partly responsible.

October 2, 1962: Game 2 of the National League Playoff. As did Game 1, Game 2 holds to the 1951 pattern. The Giants score 7 runs in the top of the 6th, but the Dodgers come right back with 7 runs in the bottom half, and win 8-7 at Dodger Stadium. The Pennant will be decided there tomorrow.

October 2, 1963: Game 1 of the World Series. Ten years to the day after Erskine struck out 14 Yankees for the Brooklyn edition of the Dodgers, Sandy Koufax fans 15 of them for the Los Angeles version, stunning opposing pitcher Whitey Ford and 69,000 fans. He has a perfect game until the 5th inning, when Elston Howard singles.

Tom Tresh hits a 2-run homer in the 8th, but that's all the Yankees get, losing 5-2. “I understand how he won 25 games,” Yogi says after the game. “What I don’t understand is how he lost 5.”

Still alive from this game, 52 years later: From the Dodgers, Koufax, the aforementioned Maury Wills, right fielders Frank Howard and defensive replacement Ron Fairly, left fielder Tommy Davis and 2nd baseman Dick Tracewski; from the Yankees, pitchers Whitey Ford and Stan Williams, 1st baseman Joe Pepitone, 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek, and pinch-hitters Hector Lopez and Phil Linz.

October 2, 1964: The Phillies finally end their 10-game losing streak, beating the Reds 4-3 in Cincinnati, scoring all their runs in the 8th. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the Mets, 108 losses and all, manage to beat the Cardinals 1-0, on a 5-hit shutout by Al Jackson. In San Francisco, the Giants beat the Cubs 9-0.

The Cardinals now lead the Reds by half a game, the Phillies by a game and a half, and the Giants by 2. The Cards have 1 game left against the apparently not-so-hopeless Mets. The Reds and Phils have 1 left, against each other. The Giants have 2 left against the Cubs. Is a 2-, 3-, or even 4-way tie for the NL Pennant possible? For the moment, the answers are yes, yes, and yes.

In the AL, the Yankees beat the Indians 5-2 at The Stadium, and eliminate the Baltimore Orioles from the race, despite the O's beating the Tigers 10-4. But the White Sox beat the Kansas City Athletics 5-4. With 2 games left, the Yanks lead the Pale Hose by 2 games. A Yankee win in either, or a ChiSox loss in either, and the Yanks win the Pennant.

October 2, 1965, 50 years ago: Winning 14 of their last 15 games, the Dodgers clinch the Pennant on the next-to-last day of the season at Dodger Stadium. Sandy Koufax gets his 26th victory, defeating the Milwaukee Braves in the clincher, 2-1. He allows only 4 hits, while the Braves' Tony Cloninger allows just 2.

Koufax finishes with 382 strikeouts, a new major league record, breaking the record of Rube Waddell in 1904. Although Nolan Ryan will get 383 in 1973, the 382 of Koufax is still a record for NLers and lefthanders.

Also on this day, “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys hits Number 1. Because the band was from Ohio, the song has become a feature of Ohio State's marching band.

October 2, 1966: Koufax clinches the Pennant again, the Dodgers' 3rd in the last 4 years, working on just 2 days' rest, as the Dodgers beat the Phillies 6-3 at Connie Mack Stadium (formerly Shibe Park).

Koufax finishes the season 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA. Over the last 5 seasons, he has been as good a pitcher as has ever been in baseball. And he's not yet 31 years old. But what few people know is that he has already decided to make this his last regular-season game.

Also on this day, the Yankees beat the White Sox 2-0, but still finish in last place -- in this case, 10th in the 10-team AL, half a game behind the 9th-place Red Sox -- for the 1st time in 54 years, since the 1912 New York Highlanders lost 102 games. They had also finished last in 1908, losing a team-record 103. Finishing 70-89, 26 1/2 games behind the Pennant-winning Orioles, this will be the Yanks' only last-place finish between 1912 and 1990.

Just 2 years earlier, the Yankees were playing Game 7 of the World Series. Sports columnist Jerry Izenberg will invoke the musical Fiddler On the Roof by asking, "I don't recall growing older. When did they?"

Also on this day, Estadio Manzanares opens in Madrid, Spain, home to soccer team Club Atlético de Madrid. In 1971, it is renamed Estadio Vicente Calderón, after the club's president. It seats 54,990. Since it opened, Atlético have won Spain's La Liga 5 times: 1970, 1973, 1977, 1996 and 2014. They have won the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) 7 times there: 1972, 1976, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 2013. They won the UEFA Europa League in 2010 and 2012.

Atlético are building the 73,729-seat Estadio Olímpico de Madrid, and plan to move in for the 2017-18 season. The Calderón will be demolished, and replaced with a waterfront park.

October 2, 1968: Bob Gibson establishes a new World Series mark by striking out 17 batters, as the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, 4-0 at Busch Memorial Stadium.

Also on this day, Jana Novotná is born in Brno, in what is now the Czech Republic. She won "ladies' singles" at Wimbledon in 1998. 

Also on this day, Glen Edwin Wesley is born in Red Deer, Alberta, about halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. A defenseman, he reached the Stanley Cup Finals with the Boston Bruins in 1988 (his rookie season) and 1990, and remained in New England to play with the Hartford Whalers until 1997, when they moved to become the Carolina Hurricanes. He reached the Finals with them in 2002, and finally won the Cup with them in 2006.

He retired in 2008, and is now a roving defense instructor in the 'Canes' organization. His brother Blake Wesley was also an NHL defenseman, and his son Josh is now playing in the 'Canes' minor-league system.

October 2, 1969: Only 5,473 fans attend the Seattle Pilots' regular-season finale at Sick's Stadium, as the last-place team is defeated by the Oakland Athletics 3-1, for their 98th loss of year. The AL expansion franchise attracts only 677,944 fans for the season — an average of 8,370 per game — and is bankrupt.

This turns out to be the last major league game in Seattle until April 6, 1977, as the Pilots will play in Milwaukee as the Brewers next season.

The last active Seattle Pilot was Fred Stanley. "Chicken," who played for the Yankees from 1973 to 1980, last played in the major leagues for the Oakland Athletics in 1982.


October 2, 1970: A plane crash outside Silver Plume, Colorado kills 31 people, including several members of the Wichita State University football team, traveling to play Utah State. Amazingly, 9 people survived the crash.

The game is canceled, and while the NCAA grants WSU a waiver to allow their freshmen to play, thus making the season's completion possible, the program never recovers, ending their football program in 1986.

Just 43 days later, another crash would kill all 75 people on board, including the entire football team of Marshall University of Huntington, West Virginia. It remains the deadliest sports-related tragedy in North American history. In 2006, the film We Are Marshall, about that crash, premiered. As yet, there is no film about the Wichita State crash the same autumn.

Also on this day, Edward Adrian Guardado is born in Stockton, California. The relief pitcher's ability to pitch with little rest earned him the nickname "Everyday Eddie." He appeared in the postseason with the Minnesota Twins in 2003 and 2008, and was a 2-time All-Star. He is now the Twins' bullpen instructor, and a member of their team Hall of Fame.

October 2, 1972: Bill Stoneman throws the 2nd of his 2 no-hitters, holding the Mets hitless in the Expos’ 7-0 victory at Jarry Park. The Montreal All-star right-hander, who also accomplished the feat in 1969 against the Phillies in Philadelphia in just his 5th major league start, becomes the 1st major league pitcher to toss a no-hitter in Canada.

Also on this day, Aaron Fitzgerald McKee is born in Philadelphia. Atlantic 10 basketball player of the year at Philly's Temple University in 1993, he was NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001, leading them to the NBA Finals. He is now an assistant coach at Temple.

October 2, 1973: Scott David Schoeneweis is born in Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Jersey, and graduates from Lenape High School in Medford, Burlington County, New Jersey. He won a World Series with the Anaheim Angels in 2002, but he was also a member of the Met teams that collapsed in 2007 and ’08. He was released by the Red Sox in 2010 and never played again.

He developed cancer, and his prescriptions included steroids. As a result, his name showed up in the Mitchell Report, although, due to the nature of his prescription, he was cleared of wrongdoing by the MLB office, and has recovered. His 577 major league appearances are the most among Jewish pitchers, and he's probably the greatest player who ever wore the Number 60 in the major leagues.

October 2, 1974: In his last National League at-bat, Henry Aaron of the Atlanta Braves homers off Rawly Eastwick, for his 733rd round-tripper. It also his 3,600th career hit. The Braves beat the Reds 13-0, at Atlanta Stadium. (It will be renamed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium the next season.)

It's Hammerin' Hank's 3,076th game for the Braves -- and his last. That 733 home runs remains a record for honest men in National League play.

Also on this day, Texas Rangers manager Billy Martin elects not to use a designated hitter, and allows starting pitcher Ferguson Jenkins to bat for himself. It works: Fergie gets a hit in the Rangers’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium.

In one of the last games Billy ever managed, he sort of did it again: On June 11, 1988, he batted pitcher Rick Rhoden 7th, as the DH, and it worked, as Rhoden had an RBI sacrifice fly in an 8-6 Yankee win over the Orioles.

October 2, 1975, 40 years ago: Charlie Emig dies in Oklahoma City, at the age of 100. He was from Cincinnati and a lefthanded pitcher, who made 1 big-league appearance, for the Louisville Colonels of the NL, against the Washington Nationals (not the later NL team with the name), at Boundary Field in Washington (Griffith Stadium would be built on the site in 1911), on September 4, 1896.

He started and pitched 8 innings, and got clobbered, although it was hardly all his fault: He allowed 17 runs, but only 7 were earned. He allowed 12 hits and 7 walks, against only 1 strikeout. The Colonels lost the game, 17-3, and then completed the doubleheader sweep by losing the nightcap.

Emig never made a 2nd appearance, but it was enough to officially get him into the books. When he died, he was not only the last surviving Louisville Colonel, but also the last surviving man who had played a Major League Baseball (as we would now call it) game in the 19th Century. Until researchers found Emig in the 1990s, the last surviving 19th Century player was believed to have been Ralph Miller, who was also a pitcher from Cincinnati, and died in 1973. Miller is, however, still believed to be the 1st former major leaguer to live to be 100.

October 2, 1977: On the last day of baseball's regular season, Dusty Baker of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a home run off J.R. Richard of the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium. This makes the Dodgers, who have already clinched the NL West, the 1st team in MLB history with 4 players hitting 30 or more home runs in a season: Baker, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Reggie Smith.

When Baker approached home plate, on-deck hitter Glenn Burke was waiting for him. Instead of offering his hand for a handshake, or holding it out to slap Baker on the back or the rear end (both common post-homer gestures), he held it high over his head. Baker reached up and slapped Burke's hand with his own. "It seemed like the thing to do," Baker said. And so, the high five was born.

But the Astros won the game, 6-3.

October 2, 1979: Pope John Paul II delivers Mass at Yankee Stadium. Later in the week, he will also do so at Shea Stadium and Madison Square Garden.


October 2, 1980: Muhammad Ali tries to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World for the 4th time. It is a mistake. He is 38 years old. He is already beginning to show signs of Parkinson's disease, from the poundings he had taken in the ring from 1975 to 1978. He hasn't fought in 2 years. He has gotten his weight down to 217 1/2 pounds, his lowest since he won the title for the 2nd time, from George Foreman in 1974; but, at the same time, he'd lost too much weight too fast, and it had drained him, much like it did for Jim Jeffries against Jackson Johnson in 1910. And he's facing Larry Holmes, who's 30, and 35-0 with 26 knockouts.

Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore had been champion boxers in their 40s, but it was a mistake for Ali to even think about getting back in the ring. It is a mismatch. After 10 rounds, Holmes had won every round, and Ali looked like, in boxing terms, a very old man. After the 10th round, Ali's trainer, Angelo Dundee, stopped the fight. It was the only time in his 61 professional fights that The Greatest neither won nor at least went the distance.

Like the rising Rocky Marciano when he inflicted a similar punishment on the aging former champion Joe Louis in 1951, Holmes was seen crying after his victory. He gained very little from the win, and may even have lost respect from many of Ali's fans. This was unfair: If there's anybody with whom they should have been angry, it should have been Ali, for even trying it.

October 2, 1981: For the 1st time ever, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider all appear together on the same TV show -- not counting All-Star Game broadcasts, of course. The 3 New York center field legends of the 1950s appear on The Warner Wolf Show on New York's WCBS-Channel 2.

October 2, 1982: Tyson Cleotis Chandler is born in Hanford, California, outside Fresno, and grows up in San Bernardino and then Compton, California. Yes, he's straight outta Compton. A 2011 NBA Champion with the Dallas Mavericks, and a 2013 All-Star with the Knicks, he now plays for the Phoenix Suns.

October 2, 1983: Carl Yastrzemski plays in his 3,308th and final game, 5 years to the day after popping up to end the Bucky Dent Game. Playing left field for the Red Sox, he collects a hit, the 3,419th of his career, which includes 452 home runs. Among human beings still alive in 2015, only Pete Rose, Hank Aaron and Derek Jeter have more hits.

After Boston's 3-1 victory over Cleveland, Yaz takes a lap of honor around Fenway Park, and stays to sign autographs on Yawkey Way for over an hour.

No player in the history of North American major league sports has appeared in more games without winning a World Championship. But Yaz is still one of the all-time greats, now has a statue of himself dedicated outside Fenway, as well as his Number 8 retired by his team, and election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

October 2, 1985, 30 years ago: The Mets' big series in St. Louis continues, and they beat the Cardinals 5-2. George Foster hits a home run off 21-game winner Joaquin Andujar, and Dwight Gooden advances to 24-4, coming within 1 game of Tom Seaver's team record of 25 wins in 1969. The Mets close to within 1 game of the Cards in the NL East, with just 4 games to play. If they can beat the Cards tomorrow night, the Division race will be tied with 3 to play.

Also on this day, Darrell Evans becomes the 1st player in major league history to hit 40 home runs in a season in both Leagues. The Tigers 1st baseman, who had hit 41 with the Braves in 1973, goes deep off Toronto Blue Jays’ hurler Dave Stieb to reach 40 on the last day of the season. He ends his career with 407 home runs.

But the Yankees can't take advantage of the Jays' defeat, losing 1-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium, a 6-hit shutout by Teddy Higuera. Randy Ready's RBI triple in the 3rd inning makes the difference. The Yankees remain 2 games behind the Jays in the AL East, with 4 to play.

Also on this day, the Galbraith family, owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1946, sells the team to Pittsburgh Associates, who are committed to keeping the team in the Steel City. Thus ends a persistent rumor that the Pirates would move, possibly to Miami.

October 2, 1986: Yankee 1st baseman Don Mattingly establishes a new team record, collecting his 232nd hit of the season, breaking the mark set in 1927 by Earle Combs. Donnie Baseball will finish the season with a league-leading 238 hits.

The Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-1 at Fenway. It's all futile, though, as the Sox have already clinched AL East title.

October 2, 1987: Philip Joseph Kessel Jr. is born in Madison, Wisconsin. The right wing survived cancer after his rookie season with the Boston Bruins in 2007, earning him the Bill Masterton Trophy "for perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." A 3-time All-Star while with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phil will begin playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins when the new NHL season starts next week.

October 2, 1988: In St. Louis, Mets’ outfielder Kevin McReynolds establishes a major league record by swiping 21 bases without being caught stealing during the season. The A’s Jimmy Sexton had set the record in with 16 stolen bases without being thrown out in 1982.


October 2, 1990: The A's beat the Angels 6-4, giving Oakland pitcher Bob Welch his 27th win of the season. No pitcher since has even won 24.

October 2, 1991: The Blue Jays clinch the AL East title, beating the Angels 6-5, in their last home game of the season. The sellout crowd of 50,324 allows them to become the first sports franchise in history to draw four million fans in one season: 4,001,527.

October 2, 1992: Mr. Baseball premieres, starring Tom Selleck as Jack Elliot, a former All-Star 1st baseman for the Yankees, who seems washed up, and the only team that will take him is in Japan. He runs afoul of the entire country, and in particular his manager -- and that's before he discovers that his new girlfriend is his manager's daughter.

Frank Thomas, the Big Hurt, has a cameo as the player whose rise leads the Yankees to release Jack, and Dennis Haysbert, who previously played Cuban slugger/voodoo priest Pedro Cerrano in Major League (and would again in a sequel), plays the only other American on the team, who helps straighten Jack out. Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brad "The Animal" Lesley, who had pitched in Japan, also plays an expat American player. He would also pitch in the film Little Big League 2 years later.

Also on this day, The Mighty Ducks premieres, starring Emilio Estevez as a lawyer busted for DUI, whose community service requires him to coach a youth hockey team. Unfortunately, this Disney movie is so successful, it inspires Disney to name they expansion team they'd gotten the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. It was a stupid name, and before the 2006-07 season, they changed it to just the Anaheim Ducks -- and won the Stanley Cup.

October 2, 1995, 20 years ago: In a one-game playoff for the AL West title, Seattle Mariners southpaw Randy Johnson throws a 3-hitter and beats the Angels, 9-1. The Big Unit finishes the season with an 18-2 record to establish a new AL mark for winning percentage by a lefthander, of .900, surpassing the record set of .893 by Ron Guidry in 1978. (Guidry still has the mark for lefty AL pitchers winning at least 20 games.)

The Angels led the Division by 11 games on August 9, and 6 games on September 12. But a 9-game losing streak, and a 7-game winning streak by the Mariners, doomed the Halos to one of the worst collapsed in major league history.

October 2, 1996: After losing badly to the Rangers in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, it looks like the Yankees are going to fall behind 2-0 -- at home. Juan Gonzalez hits his 3rd homer of the series -- a drive down the left-field line that is pulled into foul territory by a fan reaching across the foul pole. In other words, he does the exact opposite of what Jeffrey Maier does a week later. This yutz is soon caught a by Fox Sports camera, yammering on his mobile phone, about what he did and how he's on TV. I'm surprised he didn't get the crap beaten out of him, right there in the stands.

But the Yankees bounce back, tie it up, and send it to extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Charlie Hayes attempts to bunt Derek Jeter over to 3rd base (and Tim Raines to 2nd), when Ranger 3rd baseman Dean Palmer, who had homered in Game 1, throws the ball away, allowing Jeter to score the winning run. Yankees 5, Rangers 4.

The Rangers would not win another game that counted until April 1, 1997, and would not win another postseason game until October 6, 2010.

October 2, 1998: Gene Autry dies at age 91. The Singing Cowboy, one of the most beloved entertainers who ever lived, was also the founding owner of the team then known as the Anaheim Angels. They retired their uniform Number 26 for him, as "the 26th Man."

October 2, 1999: The Atlanta Thrashers play their 1st game. They host the New Jersey Devils at Philips Arena. The 1st goal in Thrasher history is scored by Kelly Buchberger, their 1st Captain a former Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers. But the Devils spoiler the lid-lifter, 4-1. Bobby Holik scores 2 goals, and tallies are added by very unlikely sources, Sergei Brylin and Polish enforcer Krzystof Oliwa.

A "thrasher" is a bird native to Georgia, not a tough guy "thrashes" people, or beats them up, although, in hockey, such confusion would be understandable. The Thrashers would win just 14 games in their 1st season. Despite a Southeast Division title in 2007, they never won a Playoff game, getting swept that season by the New York Rangers in the 1st round. That was their only trip to the Playoffs, and in 2011, beset by declining attendance, were moved to become the new Winnipeg Jets. Atlanta's 2nd venture into the NHL lasted 12 seasons, a little longer than its 1st, with the Atlanta Flames (1972-80) moving to Calgary.

Also on this day, the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 3-2 at Tropicana Field. Mariano Rivera finishes the regular season by recording his 45th save. He had allowed only 43 hits all season.


October 2, 2004: Jeff Kent of the Houston Astros hits 2 home runs, reaching 302 for his career, and 278 as a 2nd baseman, breaking the career record set by Ryne Sandberg.

October 2, 2005, 10 years ago: In a recorded message shown at the start of the last regular-season game at the 1966 edition of Busch Stadium (they won the NL Central, so there will be Playoff games played there), Joe Buck, unable to be in attendance due to calling a NFL game on national television, asks the crowd to honor his late father by singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” a cappella. A stirring rendition fills the ballpark when 50,000 voices join in unison to sing the National Anthem, a fitting tribute to the late and beloved Cardinal broadcaster.

In the top of the 6th inning, Ozzie Smith emerges from the gate in right field wall in an open convertible. After touring warning track, the former Cardinal shortstop removes the digit “1″, his old uniform number, which is affixed to the outfield wall, revealing a “0,” to indicate the number regular-season games left to be played in the stadium. The Cards beat the Reds, 7-5.

Also on this day, Mike Piazza plays his last game for the Mets. It is already rumored that the team will not offer him a new contract, so the fans have a pretty good idea that this is it. A pregame video montage of his Flushing highlights all but confirms that, and he gets a standing ovation from the Shea Stadium crowd of 47,718 (about 8,000 short of a sellout). He goes 0-for-3 before being lifted for a defensive replacement, and the Mets lose to the Colorado Rockies, 11-3.

October 2, 2008: In the franchise’s 1st postseason game, the Tampa Bay Rays (the "Devil" had been dropped before the season) defeat the visiting White Sox at Tropicana Field, 6-4. Tampa Bay’s rookie 3rd baseman, Evan Longoria, joins Gary Gaetti of the 1987 Twins in becoming only the 2nd player to homer in his 1st 2 postseason at-bats.


October 2, 2010: With 70 former players and coaches sitting on the infield clad in white Braves jerseys in attendance in front of a sell-out crowd, Atlanta honors Bobby Cox with a pregame ceremony. The longtime manager, who will remain with the team as a consultant, is given a 2010 Lexus LS460 from the team, and an 11-night cruise from his current players during the moving tribute at Turner Field. The Braves lose to the Phillies, 7-0.

Cox will be elected to the Hall of Fame, and the Braves will retire his Number 6. Counting his 1985 AL East title with the Blue Jays, he reached the postseason 15 times, winning 5 Pennants (but just missing 3 others), but only 1 World Series, in 1995.

October 2, 2013: The Pittsburgh Pirates beat their Ohio River arch-rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2 at PNC Park, to win the NL Wild Card Play-in game, and advance to the Playoffs proper. Russell Martin — whom Yankee GM Brian Cashman let get away, resulting in the Pinstripes struggling at the catcher position all season long — hits 2 home runs.

This is the 1st time the Pirates have won a postseason game in 21 years, since George Bush was President. The father, not the son. And it’s the 1st time they’ve advanced in the postseason since they were “Family” in 1979. The Seventies. The Carter years. The dreaded Disco Period.

No comments: