Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 3, 1915: The Last Game of New Jersey's Home Baseball Team

Ordinarily, I would begin an October 3 post by saying, "Happy Thomson-Winfield Day!" But this is a milestone anniversary, and, for those of us who live in New Jersey, it's a very important one.

October 3, 1915, 100 years ago today: For the last time, a team officially calling New Jersey home plays a Major League Baseball game. Two, in fact: The Newark Peppers play a doubleheader against the Baltimore Terrapins at Harrison Park, losing the opener 9-5, and winning the nightcap 6-0, behind the shutout pitching of Ed Reulbach, for his 20th win of the season. The ballpark seated 21,000, but no attendance figure is listed in the box score.

The team played in the Federal League: In 1914 as the Indianapolis Hoosiers, winning the Pennant; and in 1915 in Newark. Actually, in Harrison, across the Passaic River from downtown Newark. Harrison Park was bounded by Middlesex Street [now Angelo Cifelli Drive] (north, third base); South 3rd Street (east, left field); Burlington Avenue (south, right field); and South 2nd Street (west, first base). There were (and are) railroad yards skirting the southeast corner of the property. Oil tanks were visible behind the right-center field seating, adjacent to the rail yards. The site is roughly across the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) tracks from current soccer stadium Red Bull Arena.

The Peppers were managed by Hall-of-Famer Bill McKechnie, and featured Hall-of-Fame outfielder Edd Roush, plus utilityman/wisenheimer Germany Schaefer and pitchers Reulbach and George Mullin. They finished 80-72, only good enough for 5th in the League. The League folded after the season.

Aside from 14 "home games" played by the Brooklyn Dodgers at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1956 and 1957, and despite the bipartisan efforts of Governors William Cahill (Republican, 1970-74), Brendan Byrne (Democrat, 1974-82) and Tom Kean (Republican 1982-90) to get a ballpark built at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, the State of New Jersey has never hosted another Major League Baseball game.

It is currently home to 6 minor-league teams (the New Jersey Jackals in Montclair, the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, the Trenton Thunder, the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Camden Riversharks, and the Sussex County Miners, successors to the New Jersey Cardinals and the Sussex Skyhawks), and has recently been home to 2 others (the now-defunct Newark Bears and Atlantic City Surf), but no major league teams.

With the Yankees, the Mets and the Phillies all having opened new ballparks within the last 12 seasons, and the Oakland Athletics' options (should they decide they can't get a new ballpark in Oakland) not including a return to the Philadelphia area such as South Jersey (the Phils would put the kibosh on that anyway), it doesn't look like New Jersey will be getting a major league team anytime soon.

The baseball establishment of the time -- the American League and the National League -- did not recognize the Feds as "major league" then. However, every authority since the first "baseball encyclopedia" came out in 1951 has done so, and now MLB, the Elias Sports Bureau,, everybody includes FL stats with AL and NL stats.

October 3, 1915 was the final day of Federal League action (not that anyone knew so at the time), and, in addition to the Newark-Baltimore doubleheader, the St. Louis Terriers beat the Kansas City Packers 6-2, and the Chicago Whales beat the Pittsburgh Rebels 3-2.

The Whales win the Pennant when the Terriers' 2 remaining rainouts are not made up. St. Louis may have been robbed. This is not the most notorious moment of the Chicago-St. Louis baseball rivalry -- in large part because it has been all but forgotten.

There is no one alive today who remembers the Federal League. But the League does have one lasting legacy. In 1914, Chicago Whales owner Charles Weeghman, a pioneer in what we would now call fast food restaurants, built a ballpark on the North Side, naming it Weeghman Park for himself. When the FL folded, the owners of the National League's Chicago Cubs offered to sell him their team. "Lucky Charlie" accepted, and moved the Cubs from West Side Park into Weeghman Park. Within a few years, his luck ran out, and he sold the team, and the ballpark became Cubs Park. Chewing gum boss William Wrigley Jr. bought the team next, and in 1926 double-decked the stadium and renamed it Wrigley Field. And Wrigley Field it remains, still hosting Major League Baseball after 102 seasons.


October 3, 1838: Chief Black Hawk dies of a brief illness near Fort Mason, Iowa. He was 71 years old. He was born Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak in what's now Rock Island, Illinois, in the Quad Cities, which straddle the Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa, about halfway between Chicago to the east and Des Moines to the west.

Black Hawk fought with the British against the Americans in the War of 1812, and fought against U.S. troops again in 1832, in Illinois and Wiscoinsn, in what became known as the Black Hawk War. He was captured, and imprisoned for a short time. In his last years, he worked to reconcile his people with his former enemies.

What does he have to do with sports? He was the namesake of the hockey team, whose name was usually written as "Chicago Black Hawks," until 1986, when someone found the team's original charter, and found that it was written as "Chicago Blackhawks," and so it has officially been registered with the NHL ever since.

From the beginning of the franchise in 1926, the Hawks have used an Indian head, a left-facing profile with 4 feathers, as their logo. However, most depictions of Black Hawk show him with a Mohawk or similar hairstyle, even though the Mohawk tribe lived hundreds of miles to the east, in New York State.

October 3, 1897: Adrian Constantine Anson of the Chicago Colts (forerunners of the Cubs) hits 2 home runs against Willie Sudhoff of the St. Louis Browns (forerunners of the Cardinals) at Robison Field in St. Louis. The Colts win, 7-1.

Hitting a home run is a lot harder in this period than it would become, and hitting 2 in 1 game is rare. But "Cap" Anson, the Colts' 1st baseman and manager, is 45 years old. For over 100 years, he will rank as the oldest man ever to hit a home run in the major leagues, until surpassed by Julio Franco in 2006.

It is the last game that Cap will ever play, after 22 major league seasons (27 if you count the National Association of 1871-75). He retires -- counting his NA stats -- with a .334 lifetime batting average, an OPS+ of 142, 3,435 hits (then a record), 97 home runs (not a record but great for the era), and 2,075 RBIs (then a record).

However, today, he is best remembered as the man whose refusal to play against black players led baseball to draw the color line in the 1880s. And, judging by his memoir, he wasn't too fond of Catholics, Jews and Native Americans, either. A great player, but a skunk.


October 3, 1900: The Dodgers, then known as the Superbas, beat the Boston Braves at the South End Grounds to win the NL Pennant — and, with the setup then in place, the unofficial World Championship of baseball. They would not win another for 55 years, but, then, it would be official.

The last surviving player from that Dodger team was pitcher Harry Howell, soon to be an original 1903 New York Highlander (Yankee), who lived on until 1956, aged 79.

October 3, 1904: Christy Mathewson sets an NL record by striking out 16 batters, and the Giants beat the Cardinals 3-1.

October 3, 1909: The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-1 at South Side Park in Chicago. The Tigers have already clinched their 3rd straight Pennant, and extend what was then the American League record with their 98th win of the season.

But the game is hardly meaningless, as Ty Cobb finishes the season with .377, 9 home runs (all inside-the-park) and 107 runs batted in, making him the 1st player in either League to win the Triple Crown.

October 3, 1919: Rookie lefthander Dickie Kerr pitches a 3-hit shutout, Shoeless Joe Jackson gets 2 hits, and Chick Gandil gets 2 RBIs. The Chicago White Sox win Game 3 of the World Series, 3-0 over the Cincinnati Reds, and close the Reds' lead to 2 games to 1. Jackson and Gandil were in on the fix, but Kerr was not.

Adolfo "Dolf" Luque, the Reds' Cuban pitcher, pitches in relief, and thus becomes the first Latin American player to appear in a World Series game. He pitched a scoreless 8th inning.


October 3, 1923: Babe Ruth, playing for the New York Giants? Impossible. John McGraw allowing it? Implausible. And yet, it happened.

On this date, a benefit game was held at the Polo Grounds, for 2 destitute men who had been at the founding of the Giants, as the New York Gothams, in 1883: Original owner John B. Day, a tobacco magnate who had lost his fortune in the Players' League war of 1890; and original manager Jim Mutrie, who gave the team its permanent name in 1886, when he referred to his players as, "my big boys, my giants."

Ruth and McGraw swallowed their differences, despite being about to have their teams play each other in the World Series for the 3rd straight season. Ruth's Yankee teammates Aaron Ward and Elmer Smith also suited up for the Giants. The opponents were the champions of the International League, the Baltimore Orioles -- as it happens, Ruth's 1st professional team (So shouldn't he have played for them?) and the namesake of the team for whom McGraw played and made his reputation as a rough but smart baseball man. Ruth was 1 of 4 Giants who hit home runs, in his case a 5th-inning blast that soared over the right-field roof, as the Giants won, 9-3.

It's not clear how much money was raised. Day, already ill with cancer, died a little over a year later, in early 1925. Mutrie lasted until 1938.

October 3, 1925, 90 years ago: Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, plays its 1st football game, against McMurry University at the Panhandle South Plains Fair. Tech's Elston Archibald attempts a game-winning 20-yard field goal. It appears to be good. But the referee rules that the clock had run out before the snap, and the scoreless tie is final. It was later reported that the ref made the call as revenge for not being named Tech's 1st head coach, a job given instead to Ewing Freeland.

At the time, Tech's teams were called the Matadors. It would later be changed to the Red Raiders, with a mascot called the Masked Raider, riding a horse and dressed like a red version of Zorro.

Also on this day, Christopher Francis Haughey (pronounced "HOY") is born in Astoria, Queens, New York City. A pitcher, Chris debuted on his 18th birthday, a September call-up necessitated by World War II, in 1943. He pitched 7 innings of relief for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field, and, well, pitched like a teenager: 5 hits, 10 walks, 6 runs (but only 3 earned). The Reds won, 6-1.

"Bud" Haughey never appeared in the major leagues again, and I have no record of what he did after this, although he is still alive. A 3rd baseman also making his debut for the Dodgers that day, however, did, although we remember him as a 1st baseman: Gil Hodges.


October 3, 1931: Glenn Henry Hall is born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Georges Vezina, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur are all contenders for the title of "greatest goaltender in hockey history," but only Glenn Hall is known as "Mr. Goalie."

Because of the expansion of the schedule, which ran from 50 games at the start of Hall's career in 1951 to 70 at the end of it in 1971, people were amazed at how many games Brodeur could play: At least 67 games in 13 separate seasons, topping out at 78 out of 82 in 2006-07.

From October 6, 1955 (60 years ago this Tuesday) until November 7, 1962, a period stretching 7 years and 502 games, Glenn Hall never missed a single game. Never missed a single minute. And he played without the padding of today's goalies. Without even a mask. In a league that had Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe and Frank Mahovlich. (He was a teammate of Bobby Hull for most of his career, so he was spared that famed 118-miles-an-hour slapshot.) A back injury finally ended his run. To put that streak in perspective: When it began, few people outside the American South had ever heard of Elvis Presley; when it ended, the Beatles and Bob Dylan had released their first albums (although America didn't yet know about the Beatles).

He won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1956. He won the Vezina Trophy as most valuable goalie in 1963, 1967 and 1969. He won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961. He appeared in 13 All-Star Games. In 1968, he helped the expansion St. Louis Blues reach the Stanley Cup Finals, and despite their getting swept by the Montreal Canadiens, he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Playoffs. He got the Blues into the Finals again in 1969 and 1970, but were swept for a 2nd and a 3rd time. Hall was the goalie that Bobby Orr beat with his Flying Goal to win the 1970 Cup for the Bruins.

Hall had his Number 1 retired by the Blackhawks, was elected to the Hall of Fame, and won another Cup as goaltender coach of the Calgary Flames in 1989, having coached Mike Vernon. This means he's unofficially connected with Vernon's other Cup, with the 1997 Detroit Red Wings, the team with whom Hall began his career. In 1998, The Hockey News released a list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. Hall came in at Number 16, trailing only Sawchuk and Plante among goalies. (Roy and Brodeur were still active.) He is still alive, and living on a farm in Alberta.

October 3, 1936: Game 3 of the World Series. Lou Gehrig homers of Freddie Fitzsimmons in the 2nd inning, and Frank Crosetti singles off his glove in the 8th, to drive in Jake Powell, and the Yankees beat the Giants, 2-1, and take the same lead in the Series.

If Fitzsimmons thought that was an unlucky break against the Yankees in Game 3 of a World Series, he hadn't seen anything yet. 1941 was coming. But, by that point, Fat Freddie would be wearing the uniform of the team he had so often shut down, the Brooklyn Dodgers.

October 3, 1937: Hank Greenberg drives in the game's only run in the 1st inning, and Jake Wade throws a 1-hitter, as the Tigers beat the Indians 1-0 at Navin Field. This is the last game played there under that name: Before the 1938 season begins, it will be renamed Briggs Stadium, and will be fully enclosed, giving it the look that will be familiar to baseball fans through 1999. In 1961, it is renamed Tiger Stadium.

Johnny Allen entered the game 15-0 for the Indians. He ends it 15-1. It is still the highest winning percentage for a pitcher with at least 13 decisions, .938 -- Tom Zachary went 12-0 for the 1929 Yankees -- until Elroy Face of Pittsburgh tops it in 1959, going 18-1, .947.


October 3, 1940, 75 years ago: Joseph Gilbert Yvon Jean Ratelle is born in Lac-Saint-Jean, in the Laurentian Highlands of Quebec. From 1961 to 1975, the New York Rangers had their difficulties, but they certainly didn't "suck," and Jean Ratelle was a big reason why.

The center of the classy "GAG Line," which stood for "Goal a Game," he was flanked by Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield, and together they, defenseman Brad Park, and goalie Eddie Giacomin revived the franchise until they became an NHL powerhouse. But the closest they ever got to the Stanley Cup was in 1972, when they lost in the Finals to the Boston Bruins. Shortly thereafter, he was a member of the Team Canada that beat the Soviet Union in the "Summit Series."

On November 11, 1975, 40 years ago next month, the most famous trade in hockey history -- surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988 -- sent Ratelle, Park and Joe Zanussi to the Bruins for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais. That's 3 Hall-of-Famers and 2 other All-Stars in a single trade. Players and fans on both sides were furious, but it ended up revitalizing the careers of everyone involved. Ratelle and Park helped the Bruins reach the Finals in 1977 and 1978, losing to Montreal.

He retied in 1981, with 491 goals and 776 assists. Goal a game? His 1,267 points came in 1,281 games, so he averaged almost a point a game all by himself. He won 2 Lady Byng Trophies, he's in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Russ Cohen's 2009 book 100 Ranger Greats: Superstars, Unsung Heroes and Colorful Characters named him Number 7 among the team's greatest players. Yet the Rangers have not retired his Number 19. He is still alive, and they retired 9 for a lesser player, Adam Graves, and have gone back to the 1950s to retire 9 also for Andy Bathgate and 3 for Harry Howell, so why not 19?

Also on this day, Alan Earle O'Day is born in Los Angeles. He wrote several hit songs, including "The Drum" for Bobby Sherman, "Train of Thought" for Cher, and a Number 1 hit, "Angie Baby" for Helen Reddy. In 1977, he had a Number 1 hit under his own name, "Undercover Angel." In the 1990s, a new generation discovered his music when he wrote all the songs for the TV cartoon Muppet Babies.

He died in 2013, and now, he knows for sure what he wrote in 1974, in a song that launched a comeback for the Righteous Brothers:

If you believe in forever
then life is just a one-night stand.
If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven
well, you know they got a hell of a band.

October 3, 1941: Ernest Evans is born in Spring Gully, South Carolina, and grows up in Philadelphia. Because he did a great impression of rock and roll pioneer Fats Domino, and was fat himself, his friends nicknamed him Chubby Checker.

In 1960, he covered Hank Ballard's song "The Twist," and, thanks to his appearance on the Philadelphia-based ABC show American Bandstand, the song hit Number 1. He recorded several other songs based on The Twist and other dances, and "The Twist" actually hit Number 1 again in 1962 -- the only song in the Rock and Roll Era (1955 to the present) to hit Number 1, drop off the chart completely, and return to the top spot. He's also credited with being the 1st rock singer to get grownups to dance along with teenagers' records, thus helping make rock respectable. (Though some would say that's a bad thing -- and some of those who would say that are rock fans!)

What does he have to do with sports? His daughter, Mistie Bass, plays for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury. Both Ken Burns' Baseball and Billy Crystal's 61* included "The Twist" in telling their stories about the 1961 Yankees and the Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris home run record chase. I have taken to calling Carlton Fisk's waving as his home run headed for the foul pole in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series "The Fenway Twist."

October 3, 1942: Game 3 of the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Yankees 2-0, with Ernie White pitching a 6-hit shutout.

October 3, 1946: The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 8-4 at Ebbets Field, and sweep the Playoff for the Pennant, 2 games to none. This is the 1st time the Dodgers have lost a Playoff for the Pennant. It will not be the last.

October 3, 1947: The Yankees' Floyd "Bill" Bevens takes a no-hitter into the bottom of the 9th in Game 4 of the World Series. He gets to within 1 out of the 1st World Series (and thus the 1st postseason) no-hitter ever. But 10 walks put him in danger, and Harry "Cookie" Lavagetto pinch-hits a double-off the right-field wall at Ebbets Field, and the Dodgers win, 3-2.

Instead of the Yankees being up 3 games to 1, the Series is now tied. This becomes known as The Cookie Game.

Two days later, Al Gionfriddo will rob Joe DiMaggio with an amazing catch to preserve the Dodgers’ lead in Game 6, but the Yankees win the Series in Game 7. By a weird twist of fate, neither Bevens, nor Lavagetto, nor Gionfriddo will ever play again.

Who is still alive from this Series, 68 years later? For the Yankees, now that Yogi Berra has died, only Bobby Brown. For the Dodgers, only Ralph Branca. (Last year, I said that Duke Snider was the last survivor, and Gene Hermanski was the last survivor of the Dodgers who actually played in this Series. Error, me.)

I can find no explanation of why Floyd Clifford Bevens (1916-1991) was called "Bill." Nor can I find one for why Harry Arthur Lavagetto (1912-1990) was called "Cookie."


October 3, 1951: Bobby Thomson hits a home run that wins the National League Pennant for the New York Giants, 5-4 over the Brooklyn Dodgers, at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.
Notice that Jackie Robinson is making sure that Thomson touches home plate.
Was he thinking of the Fred Merkle incident on the same site in 1908?

Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.
-- Red Smith, in the next day's New York Herald Tribune. If Red wasn't the greatest sportswriter ever, this paragraph certainly shows why he's a contender for the title.

Thomson died on August 16, 2010, at age 86. The home run ended the most amazing Pennant race that New York City, perhaps any city, has ever seen.

The pitcher who gave up the home run, Ralph Branca, is now 88, and recently wrote a memoir, A Moment In Time. In spite of the scorn he’s received for giving up that home run, he admits he’s had a pretty good life.

For this worldwide coverage, it was called "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," after the description in poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson of the musket shot that began the War of the American Revolution on the Lexington Green, outside Boston, in 1775.

Round the world? It was beamed around the U.S.A. in the first nationally-televised (NBC) broadcast of any non-World Series game, and the Armed Forces Radio Network played it for every U.S. military base. Including in London.

The writer George Plimpton claimed to have heard it while studying at England's Cambridge University. Including in Korea, where a war was raging that would soon claim as draftees Willie Mays, the Giant batter who was on deck, and Don Newcombe, the Dodger pitcher who’d nearly won the game before being relieved. (Yankees Whitey Ford, Jerry Coleman and Billy Martin would also serve in that war.) This was reflected in an episode of the TV show M*A*S*H.

There are 4 men who played in that game, 64 years ago today, who are still alive: Giants Willie Mays and Monte Irvin, and Dodgers Branca and Newcombe (whom Branca relieved). Also still alive from the Dodgers' roster are Carl Erskine, Tommy Brown and Wayne Terwilliger. Rocky Bridges, who was on the Dodgers' roster, died this past January 27.

The same day that Thomson hit that homer, 1,200 miles to the northwest, David Mark Winfield was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dave Winfield would star for the San Diego Padres and the Yankees, help the Pinstripes to a Pennant in 1981 but infamously go just 1-for-22 in the World Series, fall short with the Yanks in the Division races of 1985, '86, '87 and '88; lead George Steinbrenner to (unfairly) tag him as "Mr. May," hire a criminal to dig up dirt on him, and finally exile him to the California Angels; finally win a World Series as he got the game-winning hit for the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6 in 1992, collect his 3,000th career hit with his hometown Minnesota Twins, and retire with the Pennant-winning Cleveland Indians of 1995.

His Number 31 was retired by the Padres, but while the Yankees gave him a Dave Winfield Day following his Hall of Fame election in 2001, he has not yet received a Plaque in Monument Park, and his Number 31 has been worn by some rather mediocre Yankees, including Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens, Steve Karsay, Aaron Small (he of the 10-0 record in 2005 but 0-1 in the ALDS and was soon rightfully gone from the majors), and the 2nd, unwanted coming of Javier Vazquez.

But it has also been worn by some good players; all of these were former or future All-Stars, regardless of what they did as Yankees: Bob Wickman, Frank Tanana, Lance Johnson, Ian Kennedy, the execrable Vazquez, Rafael Soriano, current wearer and future Hall-of-Famer Ichiro Suzuki, and a man who should one day join Big Dave and Ichiro in the Hall of Fame, Tim Raines, a contributor to the 1996 and 1998 World Champions. Now, it belongs to rookie sensation Greg Bird.

So why hasn't Dave gotten his number retired and his Plaque? Could there still be a grudge held by George Steinbrenner’s children, after all this time?


October 3, 1952: Game 3 of the World Series. Yogi Berra and Johnny Mize hit home runs, but Preacher Roe is otherwise masterful, and Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese execute a double steal that results in a passed ball by Yogi and the winning run. The Dodgers win, 5-3, and lead the Series, 2-1.

October 3, 1953: Game 4 of the World Series. Duke Snider hits a home run off Whitey Ford in the 1st inning, and the Dodgers even the Series by beating the Yankees, 7-3.

Also on this day, the Canadian Arena Company buys the entire Quebec Senior Hockey League, and converts it to a professional minor league. The CAC also owns the Montreal Canadiens, and this allows them to call up the best player in the QSHL, Jean Beliveau of the Quebec Aces. Beliveau hadn't want to officially turn pro, despite brief callups with the Canadiens in the 1950-51 and 1952-53 seasons, but now, he had no choice.

For the next 18 seasons, Beliveau was one of the best and classiest players in hockey, winning 10 Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, scoring 507 goals, and leading the Hockey Hall of Fame to waive its eligibilty requirement to elect him just 1 year after his retirement. Until his death a year ago, he was a Canadiens "Ambassadeur," representing the club at many functions. He participated in ceremonies honoring the club's 75th Anniversary in 1985 (it actually should have been in 1984), the closing of the Montreal Forum and the opening of the Bell Centre in 1996, Maurice Richard's funeral in 2000, and the team's 100th Anniversary in 2009.

October 3, 1954: Dennis Lee Eckersley is born in Oakland. In 1977, he pitched a no-hitter for the Indians. In 1978, he won 20 games for the Red Sox -- although he got beat by the Yankee bats and Ron Guidry in the 3rd game of the "Boston Massacre" series that September. In 1984, in a very fateful trade, the Red Sox sent him and Mike Brumley to the Cubs for Bill Buckner. Eck helped the Cubs win the NL East that year, but pitched poorly in the Playoffs. (And if you don't know what Buckner did with the Red Sox, you're either too young, or you're reading the wrong blog.)

By this point, his drinking was getting the better of him. He dried out, and in 1987, he was traded to his hometown team, the Oakland Athletics. Tony LaRussa converted him into a reliever, and he became the 1st 9th-inning-only closer specialist, helping the A's win 4 AL West titles in 5 years, including 3 straight Pennants and the 1989 World Series. However, he gave up a game-winning homer to Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series -- and used the occasion to coin the term "walk-off home run."

In 1992, he was given the AL's Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards. He helped the Cardinals win the NL Central in 1996, and in 1998 returned to the Red Sox and helped them win the AL Wild Card. He retired with 197 wins and 390 saves -- factoring into 587 wins by his team, a figure topped in all of baseball history by only Mariano Rivera. (Mo saved 652 and won 82, for a total of 734. Cy Young won 511 and saved 17, totaling 528.)

In 1999, shortly after he retired, he was ranked Number 98 on The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players -- probably shortchanging him a bit. He was also elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Red Sox' Hall of Fame, and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. The A's retired his Number 43.

October 3, 1955, 60 years ago: Captain Kangaroo premieres on CBS, and runs early in the morning for 29 years. On the same day, The Mickey Mouse Club premieres on ABC, although I doubt that very many kids were watching it that afternoon, especially in the New York Tri-State Area. Because Game 6 of the World Series, a Subway Series, is being broadcast on NBC at the same time.

At Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Bombers score 5 runs in the 1st inning, including 3 on a Moose Skowron home run. Whitey Ford holds the Dodgers off, and the Yankees win 5-1, tying the Series up.

The home team has won every game in the Series. Good news for the Yankees, as Game 7 will be played tomorrow in The Bronx. The Dodgers are 0-7 in World Series play, including 0-5 against the Yankees.

Yes, we know what happened in Game 7. But they didn't know. There was a lot of drama.

On the same day, James Alfred Joyce III is born in Toledo. No, he's not related to James Joyce the writer. This Jim Joyce has been an MLB umpire since 1989, first in the AL, then in both Leagues after the 2000 consolidation.

He's officiated at 3 All-Star Games, 10 Division Series, 4 LCS, and 3 World Series: 1999, 2001 and 2013. But he's best known for a call he blew, on June 2, 2010, a grounder to 1st base that he incorrectly called safe, ruining a perfect game and a no-hitter for Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga on what would have been the last out.

He's been an umpire for 2 no-hitters that were finished: Carlos Zambrano's in 2008, and Dallas Braden's perfect game a few days before the Galarraga incident. He later -- correctly -- called interference on Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox, leading crew chief Dana DeMuth to allow the winning run to score for the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series.

October 3, 1956: Game 1 of the World Series. As defending World Champions, the Brooklyn Dodgers no longer fear the Yankees, or think anything that can go wrong, will. Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin both hit home runs, but so do Gil Hodges and Jackie Robinson -- the last home run that Robinson will ever hit. The Dodgers win, 6-3.

October 3, 1957: Game 2 of the World Series. Johnny Logan, the Milwaukee Braves' shortstop -- a man who was once told that something that appeared in a newspaper was a typographical error, and his instinct made him say, "The hell it was, it was a clean base hit!" -- hits a home run, and the Braves have their 1st-ever World Series game win, 4-2 over the Yankees, tying the Series.


October 3, 1962: The Giants beat the Dodgers in a Playoff for the National League Pennant again — this time on the West Coast, and at the Dodgers' home. At Dodger Stadium, San Francisco wins the rubber game, beating Los Angeles, 6-4 as Don Larsen (yes, the hero of 1956 bedevils the Dodgers again) gets the win in relief of Juan Marichal. This is the 3rd and last time the Dodgers have lost a Playoff for the Pennant, all on October 3. They did, however, win one in 1959, against the Milwaukee Braves, but that was on a September 29.

Thanks to the extended season, Maury Wills sets a major league record for the most games played in a season, appearing in 165 games. This was the year he stole 104 bases, setting a new major league record. However, like Roger Maris' 61 home runs the season before, he didn't break the old record in 154 games, so his achievement and Ty Cobb's 96 steals in 1915 were listed as separate records. As with Babe Ruth's 60 homers in 1927 and Maris' 61 in '61, there was never actually an asterisk in the
record book.

October 3, 1963: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees don't fare much better against 1955 nemesis Johnny Podres than they did against Sandy Koufax in Game 1. Former Yankee Bill "Moose" Skowron hits a home run against them, off Al Downing, and the Dodgers win, 4-1.

The Dodgers have now taken 2 games at Yankee Stadium. The Series goes to Los Angeles, and the Yankees haven't faced Don Drysdale yet. And they'll face Koufax again in Game 4. 
October 3, 1964: The Yankees score 5 runs in the 8th inning, and beat the Indians 8-3 at Yankee Stadium, finally clinching a hard-won AL Pennant, their hardest since 1949, with just 1 game to spare. Bobby Richardson, Elston Howard and Joe Pepitone have RBI singles in the inning, and Mickey Mantle draws a bases-loaded walk. Pete Mikkelsen is the winner, in relief of Al Downing. The Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Athletics 7-0, but it does them no good, as they are eliminated.

At Sportsman's Park, the Mets shock the Cardinals, 15-5, preventing them from clinching the NL Pennant. But the Cubs beat the Giants 10-7 at Candlestick Park, eliminating the Giants from the race, and rendering impossible what had until then been possible: A 4-way tie for the flag.

Now, the Cards and the idle Reds are tied for 1st, with the idle Phillies 1 game back. The Giants are 2 back, the Milwaukee Braves 5 back. The Phillies and Reds face each other in Cincinnati tomorrow. If the Cards win, they win the Pennant no matter what happens at Crosley Field. If the Cards lose and the Reds win, the Reds win the Pennant. If the Cards lose and the Phils win, there's a 3-way tie for the Pennant that the Phils thought they had won on September 20, when they were up by 6 1/2 with 12 games to go, before their epic 10-game losing streak.

This is the craziest NL race since the 3-way New York/Chicago/Pittsburgh struggle of 1908, making the 1951 and '62 Giant-Dodger races look tame by comparison.

Also on this day, Clive Owen (no middle name) is born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England. He's starred in the films Gosford Park, King Arthur, Closer, Sin City and Children of Men. But he reached his peak in Shoot 'Em Up. Indeed, he made all other men look small, by pleasuring Monica Bellucci and shooting several bad guys. At the same time. Sports? He's never been a professional athlete, but he supports Liverpool Football Club, rather than hometown side Coventry City F.C.

October 3, 1965, 50 years ago: Victor Pellot, better known by his nom de horsehide Vic Power, 1st baseman for the Los Angeles Angels, hits an RBI single against the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, but the Angels lose, 5-2.

Power retires after the game, with a .284 lifetime batting average. It makes him the last active player who had played for the Philadelphia Athletics. He had once been considered to be the 1st black player for the Yankees, but his "hot-dog" fielding and dating of white women angered the Yankee brass, and they traded him to the A's. He starred with them after their move to Kansas City, and with the Cleveland Indians, before wrapping it up with the Angels. He returned to Puerto Rico, built a youth baseball program there, and died in 2005, age 78.

October 3, 1966: Darrin Glen Fletcher is born in the Chicago suburb (or should that be "Cuburb"?) of Elmhurst, Illinois. The son of major leaguer Tom Fletcher, he never played for the Cubs, but he did play for the Dodgers, Phillies, Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays. He caught Tommy Greene's no-hitter for the Phillies in 1991, and was a member of the 1994 Expo team that got screwed by the strike. He's broadcast for the Jays, and his son Casey is a highly-regarded prospect at Darrin's alma mater, the University of Illinois.

October 3, 1968: Mickey Lolich picks a great time to hit what turns out to be the only home run of his career. The Detroit Tiger pitcher hits it off Nelson Briles, to aid his own cause, as the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-1 at Busch Stadium, and tie up the World Series at 1 game apiece.

October 3, 1969: Gwen Renée Stefani is born in Fullerton, Orange County, California, and grows up in neighboring Anaheim. Like the Angels have been for much of their history, she described her band No Doubt as "just a bunch of losers from Anaheim." Well, she ain't no loser, and she ain't no hollaback girl, either. 


October 3, 1970: Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles becomes the 1st pitcher to hit a home run in a League Championship Series game. The Cuban lefty's 4th-inning grand slam proves to be the difference in the Orioles' 10-6 Game 1 victory over the Twins.

October 3, 1971: Wilfredo Cordero Nieva is born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. A multi-position player, the man usually known as Wil Cordero was a teammate of Fletcher's on those ill-fated 1994 Expos. He did reach the postseason with the 1999 Indians, and closed his career as an original member of the Washington Nationals in 2005. He is now a coach.

October 3, 1972: Roberto Clemente plays in his 2,433rd career game, breaking the Pittsburgh Pirates' team record set by Honus Wagner. In the 9th inning, he replaces left fielder Gene Clines, as Vic Davalillo moves from right field to left field to open up Clemente’s usual position, and doesn’t come to bat. The Pirates win, 6-2. But it turns out to be Clemente’s last regular season game. He had gotten his 3,000th and final hit on September 30.

On this same day, Roric Harrison of the Orioles hits a home run in the 2nd game of a doubleheader with the Indians, and wins 4-3. It is the last home run hit by an American League pitcher until June 30, 1997, when Bobby Witt of the Texas Rangers will do it in an Interleague game. (The most recent was Nathan Karns of the Tampa Bay Rays, this past July 21.)

October 3, 1973: Neve Adrienne Campbell is born in Guelph, Ontario. She rose to fame as Julia Salinger on Party of Five, and to the stratosphere as Sidney Prescott in the Scream films. She's recently been on Grey's Anatomy and Mad Men, and is scheduled to appear on House of Cards.

Also on this day, Lena Headey (no middle name) is born in Hamilton, Bermuda. Most of us first knew about her as Queen Gorgo in 300, but she plays a very different queen, Cersei Lannister, on Game of Thrones.

October 3, 1974: The Cleveland Indians hire Frank Robinson, currently playing for them, as the 1st black manager in Major League Baseball. It has been almost 2 years since a dying Jackie Robinson, making his final appearance at a ballpark during the World Series, announced to the crowd he wanted to see a black manager. Frank, no relation, said his only regret was that Jackie didn’t live to see the day.

Indians manager Ted Bonda knew that, racial history aside, Frank was qualified for the job: He had already been the Captain of the Baltimore Orioles teams that had won 4 Pennants between 1966 and 1971, and that he had already been considered for 2 different managerial posts. One was the Yankees': After George Steinbrenner was unable, for complicated legal reasons, to hire Dick Williams to replace Ralph Houk, he was convinced by team president Gabe Paul to consider Robinson, who was then playing for the Angels, but their owner Gene Autry wouldn't let him go.

Now, Frank was playing for the Indians, and Bonda knew that if he didn’t hire him as manager, somebody else might. So he did the right thing for history, as well as the right thing for his team. He signed Frank at a salary of $175,000 to do both jobs -- $846,000 in today's money.

As it turned out, Frank wasn’t nearly as good a manager as he was a player. He would manage the Indians, the Giants (making him the 1st black manager in each League), the Orioles and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise, managing them during their move. Only once, in a career that lasted from 1975 to 2006, did he take a team into a genuine Pennant race, the 1989 Orioles missing the AL East title by 2 games. But he still deserved the chance.

October 3, 1976: Hank Aaron plays his last game. In his last at-bat, playing for the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium, where he had previously played for the Milwaukee Braves, he singles off Dave Roberts of the Tigers — the same pitcher who, for the Houston Astros, had given up his 712th and 713th career home runs. But the Tigers win the game, 5-2.

Hank retires with 3,771 hits and 2,174 runs scored, both 2nd at the time only to Ty Cobb, a .305 batting average, a 155 OPS+, and with these all-time records: 755 home runs, 2,297 RBIs, 6,856 total bases, and 1,477 extra-base hits (624 doubles, 98 triples and 755 homers). Only the home run record has been broken, and that dubiously.

On the same day, On the last day of the season, the Kansas City Royals’ George Brett and Hal McRae and the Twins’ Rod Carew are separated by .001 for the AL batting title -- and their teams are playing each other. Brett, who goes 3-for-4, edges his Royals teammate for the crown with the deciding hit, an inside-the-park home run, a line drive that outfielder Steve Brye misplayed, leading McRae to believe the lack of effort was intentional and racist. The final totals: Brett .333, McRae .332, Carew .331.

October 3, 1978: Game 1 of the ALCS at Royals Stadium in Kansas City. (Now Kauffman Stadium.) The Royals have added former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Al Hrabosky, a.k.a. the Mad Hungarian, a blazing lefty with a wild man act that many find intimidating (and others find annoying). They and their fans think he will make the difference so that they can finally win the Pennant, even if they have to face the Yankees in the Playoffs for the 3rd year in a row -- which they do.

But the Yankees score 3 runs on Dennis Leonard, a Brooklyn native who'd given them fits in the 1976 and '77 ALCS. They're up 4-1 with 2 out in the top of the 8th, and manager Whitey Herzog gets Hrabosky up. Even Phil Rizzuto, broadcasting the game on WPIX-Channel 11, buys into the Hrabosky hype: Seeing him warm up, he says, "Uh-oh, the Mad Hungarian!"

When Lou Piniella singles, sending sending Mickey Rivers to 2nd, the White Rat, knowing the next 5 batters are lefties -- Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Roy White (a switch-hitter but weaker on the right side) and Brian Doyle -- brings Hrabosky in.

The Yankees' struggles against Paul Splittorff and Larry Gura in those last 2 ALCS gave rise to the famous but erroneous notion that, "The Yankees can't hit lefthanded pitchers, especially in the postseason." (They'd won 21 World Series by this point, so they must have scored off some lefties.) This was especially pointed out the year before, when Reggie couldn't touch Splittorff, and then-manager Billy Martin held him out of Game 5 until Herzog brought in the righthanded Doug Bird to relieve in the 8th, and then sent Reggie in to pinch-hit, working an RBI single.

Hrabosky does his thing, then gets on the mound, and pitches to Reggie. The ball leaves his bat in Kansas City, and lands in St. Louis. Rizzuto says, "Oh, that's gone! That is gone! Holy cow!" Reggie is, after all, Mr. October.

The Yankees win, 7-1. Having gained at least a split in K.C., they won the Pennant in New York, and won the World Series. Hrabosky was never the same pitcher: The Royals gave him 1 more year, and then traded him to Atlanta, and then they won the Pennant, with new reliever Dan Quisenberry; while Hrabosky threw his last big-league pitch at age 33. Today, he's a Cardinal broadcaster, and if you remember him as a player, as I do, well, you're old, too.

Also on this day, Alexander Belov dies of cardiac cancer in Leningrad, Soviet Union (St. Petersburg, Russia). He was only 26. A center at Spartak Leningrad, he scored the controversial basket that won the Gold Medal for the Soviet team in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, ending the U.S. team's 63-game Olympic winning streak. (Let the record show that he benefited from the unfairly-awarded extra 3 seconds, but did not cause any unfairness himself.)

October 3, 1979: Game 1 of the ALCS. The 1st postseason game in the 19-year history of the team then known as the California Angels doesn't end well for them. They led the Orioles 2-0 in the bottom of the 3rd and blew it. It was 3-3 and went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, John Lowenstein hit a 3-run homer, and the O's won 6-3.


October 3, 1980: Anquan Kenmile Boldin is born in Pahokee, Florida, outside Palm Beach. The receiver played in Super Bowl XLIII with the Arizona Cardinals, and won Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens. A 3-time Pro Bowler with 952 catches and 12,518 receiving yards to his credit, he now plays for the team he beat to win a ring, the San Francisco 49ers. No hard feelings, apparently.

October 3, 1981: The Brewers and Expos clinch their 1st-ever postseason appearances. Milwaukee beats Detroit 2-1 at Milwaukee County Stadium to wrap up the 2nd-half title in the AL East, while Montreal edges the Mets 5-4 at Shea Stadium to win the NL East's 2nd playoff spot.

For the 1st time ever, a postseason game will be played outside the U.S. For the 1st time since 1959, a 163rd game will be played in Milwaukee.

Also on this day, Zlatan Ibrahimović (no middle name) is born in Malmö, Sweden to a Muslim Bosniak father and a Croatian Catholic mother. Judging by his attitude, though Zlatan (usually called by just his first name, sometimes "Ibra") is "a self-made man who worships his creator."

In terms of trophies won, the striker is one of the most successful soccer players of his generation. With Ajax Amsterdam, he won 2 League titles. With Juventus of Turin, Italy, he won 2 League titles, though both were revoked due to a scandal. (He had nothing to do with it, but he did benefit from it.) With another Italian club, Internazionale Milano, he won 3 League titles. With Barcelona, he won another League title. With Inter's rivals A.C. Milan, he won another League title. And with his current club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), he's won the last 3 League titles, and also the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue, the 1st-ever French domestic Treble. So that's 12 League titles in a span of 15 seasons.

But while his undeniable talent, even at age 34, is the reason teams keep acquiring him, there's a reason why teams keep letting him go, and it's not because they need the money. (The clubs involved are all among the wealthiest in the world.) And it's not because he misses 5 shots for every goal he scores. It's because he's a first-class jerk. He's known to have purposely injured 6 different teammates in training, and 5 opponents in games. He got into a shouting match with Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and threw a box across the room. He constantly berates referees, and has especially criticized those in France.

This past March, he called France "this shit country." At this point, only PSG fans and the kind of fanboys who follow a player from team to team (you know, the kind who were Cleveland Cavaliers fans until 2010, then Miami Heat fans until 2014, now Cavs fans again, all because of LeBron James), still like him. Even Swedes don't like him much, and it's not because he's a Yugoslav: The national team has won nothing with him, getting no closer than the Round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup. While they qualified for Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 mainly because of his goals, they didn't even make the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. This led to his fanboys to say, "It won't be a World Cup without Zlatan." Tell that to the Spanish (2010) and the Germans (2014).

October 3, 1982: On the last day of the regular season, the Brewers celebrate their AL East title-clinching victory -- their 1st-ever postseason berth in a full 162-game season -- at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, after beating the Orioles, 10-2, to edge the O's by 1 game in the final standings. Robin Yount hits 2 home runs and a triple, and former Dodger ace Don Sutton is the winning pitcher.

The O's had been 4 games down with 5 to play, and had won 4 straight, including 3 over the Brewers, to forge a tie after 161 games, but the Brewers did their jobs. This turns out to be the only full-season Division title the Brew Crew ever won in the AL. (They have since won one in the NL.)

The 51,642 hometown fans, although disappointed by the results, stay after the game, and give retiring manager Earl Weaver a heartfelt, tremendous 45-minute series of ovations for his 15-year tenure as the Birds' skipper. He would, however, return in 1985 and ’86, but it would not be the same.

October 3, 1983: Frederico Chaves Guedes is born in Téofilo Otoni, Minas Gerais, Brazil. In the tradition of Brazilian soccer, he is known by a short nickname, in his case a shortening of his first name: Fred.

The striker starred with América Mineiro and Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte, won back-to-back French titles with Olymique Lyonnais in 2006 and '07, and has played for Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense since 2009, winning the League in 2012. He's also helped Brazil win the 2007 Copa America and the 2013 Confederations Cup, although he's 0-for-2 in World Cups, getting knocked out in the 2006 Quarterfinals and the 2014 Semifinals (the latter on home soil), and wasn't even picked for Brazil in 2010.

There are at least 2 other Brazilian footballers who have played under the name "Fred." One, Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva, has starred in the U.S. for D.C. United, and is now with the Philadelphia Union. The other, Frederico Rodrigues Santos, stars for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.

October 3, 1985, 30 years ago: The Mets lose to the Cardinals, 4-3 at Busch Memorial Stadium.  Keith Hernandez goes 5-for-5 with 2 RBIs against his former team, but it's not enough, as Danny Cox and the St. Louis bullpen outpitch Rick Aguilera and Roger McDowell. This puts the Cards up by 2 games in the NL East with 3 to play.

It does not look good for the Mets, who had hung with the Cards all season long. Essentially, this game decided the Division, and possibly also the Pennant.

Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the Brewers 3-0 at Yankee Stadium, while the Toronto Blue Jays lose to the Tigers 2-0. The Yankees are still alive in AL East race as they head to Toronto for a deciding series, 3 games back. They must sweep all 3 games to force a Playoff; if the Jays win any of them, they win their 1st Division title.

October 3, 1986: Vince DiMaggio dies of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 74. The eldest of 9 siblings, and 3 to reach the majors, he wasn't as good as his brothers Joe and Dom turned out to be, but he had a good career, winning the 1939 NL Pennant (opposing Joe in the World Series) and the 1940 World Series with the Reds, and being named to 2 All-Star Games with the Pirates.

Allegedly, Joe didn't speak to Vince for many years, due to a perceived slight. Vince once said, "If I could hit like Joe, and he could talk like me, we'd make a hell of a guy."

On the same day, Jackson Arley Martínez Valencia is born in Quibdó, Colombia. The soccer striker is usually known as Jackson Martínez, but is not related to baseball legend Reginald Martinez Jackson. 

He won a Colombian league title with Independiente Medellin in 2009, and a Portuguese league title with Porto in 2012. He now plays for Atlético de Madrid, and many fans of North London club Arsenal were incensed that, having no striker better than France's Olivier Giroud, their club didn't pursue Martinez. Giroud is far better than Martinez, who's 4 days younger than Giroud and far less accomplished, at both the club and the international level.


October 3, 1990, 25 years ago: George Brett strikes again. He pinch-hits a 5th-inning RBI sacrifice fly, and then singles in the 7th inning, to end the season with the batting title with a .329 batting average. Having already won in ’76 as stated earlier, and having batted .390 in 1980 to forge the highest single-full-season batting average any player has had since 1941, he is the only player to win batting crowns in 3 different decades.

Also on this day, Stefano Casiraghi is killed in a speedboat race off the coast of Monaco. He was only 30 years old. He had first gained famed as a businessman, but, a year before his death, won the World Championship of offshore speedboat racing, in Atlantic City New Jersey. He leaves behind a wife, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and 3 children: Son Andrea, now 31, a teacher and charity fundraiser; daughter Charlotte, 29, a magazine editor and competitive equestrienne; and son Pierre, 28, now involved in his father's former business ventures.

October 3, 1993: Despite winning 103 games, the Giants are eliminated from the NL West race when the Dodgers derail their Division dreams, 12-1 at Dodger Stadium. (Not that this counts as the Dodgers' revenge for October 3, 1951, or even October 3, 1962.) Catcher Mike Piazza, who will be named the NL’s Rookie of the Year, hits 2 home runs in the game.

The Braves, who will be moved over to the NL East the next season, win 104 games to complete an amazing comeback, having been 10 games back on July 22 and 7 1/2 games back on August 22, before winning 22 of their last 27.

The Giants won 103 games, and still didn’t make the postseason. (The record is 104, for the 1942 Dodgers, as the Cardinals won 106.) Since the Wild Card began the next season (well, the one after, due to the Strike of ’94), the most games any team has won without officially making the Playoffs is 96, the 1999 Cincinnati Reds. (They lost a play-in game with the Mets, but that is officially counted as a regular season game.)

On the same day, the Indians play their last game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, with Mel Harder, who won the 1st game there in 1932, throwing out a ceremonial last pitch. No such luck for the Tribe this time, as they lose 4-0 to the Chicago White Sox.

And the last game is played at Arlington Stadium, with Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers and George Brett of the Royals, both retiring, exchanging the lineup cards. Again, the visiting team spoils the fun, the Royals winning 4-1. So, if you're either George Brett or a Giants fan (except this year), October 3 is a good day.

October 3, 1995, 20 years ago: Former football star, sportscaster and actor O.J. Simpson is found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. A little more than a year later, in a civil suit, a jury will find him liable for their deaths.

On the same day, Tony Pena homers to left field in the 13th inning, to give the Indians a 5-4 win over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Jacobs Field. It is Cleveland's 1st postseason game victory since 1948 -- 47 years.

Of more interest to Yankee Fans, after 14 seasons, Don Mattingly finally plays in a postseason game.
The Yankees win, 9-6, in front of a rapturous crowd of 57,178, the largest paid attendance in the 33-season history of the post-renovation original Yankee Stadium. David Cone gives up 2 home runs to Ken Griffey Jr., but is backed up by home runs by Wade Boggs and Ruben Sierra. Mattingly goes 2-for-4 with an RBI.

October 3, 1997: The Carolina Hurricanes play their 1st home game after moving from Hartford, the 1st NHL game played in the Carolinas. They lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

They will play 2 seasons in Greensboro before moving to Raleigh and the arena now known as the PNC Arena. As, essentially, a lame-duck team, crowds at the 21,000-seat Coliseum are sparse: A photo shown in Sports Illustrated showed a fan holding up a sign saying "Great seats available -- heck, great sections available."

October 3, 1999: In the final regular-season sporting event ever to be played at the Astrodome, Mike Hampton of the Astros raises his record to a whopping 22-4, as the ‘Stros beat the Dodgers, 9-4. The victory clinches the NL Central Division title, as the Astros finish 1 game ahead of the Reds.

October 3, 2000: St. Louis rookie starter Rick Ankiel sets a modern day major league record by uncorking 5 wild pitches in the 3rd inning of Game 1 of the NLDS at Busch Memorial Stadium. He joins Bert Cunningham of the Buffalo Bisons, who accomplished the same feat in the 1st inning in an 1890 Players League contest. Despite the embarrassing display, the Cardinals still defeat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5.

Ankiel was a great pitching prospect, but, soon, his pitching days will be over.  He will, however, be converted into an outfielder. Hey, it worked for the Cardinals when they did it for Stan Musial 60 years earlier.

Despite injuries that will force him to miss 2002, '03, most of '04, '05, '06, and most of '07, Ankiel will still be playing in the major leagues in 2013. In 2008, he bats .264, hits 25 homers and has 71 RBIs. He only pitches 11 games after his 2000 postseason nightmare, but finishes with a .240 lifetime batting average (not bad at all for someone who started as a pitcher). Although he was injured when the Cards lost the World Series in 2004 and won it in 2006, he reached the postseason again with the Cards in '09 and the Braves the next season.

October 3, 2001: Barry Bonds walks 3 times, breaking Babe Ruth’s major league record of 170 bases on balls, established in 1923. Astros’ reliever Nelson Cruz gives up the historic walk in the 6th, and the Giants left fielder will finish the season with 177 walks.

October 3, 2002: Bruce Paltrow dies of cancer in Rome. He was only 58 years old. One of the top TV producers of the 1970s and '80s, he created and produced the greatest TV show ever made about sports, The White Shadow, about a white coach of a mostly-black high school basketball team in Los Angeles. He also produced St. Elsewhere, set in a Boston hospital.

He leaves behind his wife, actress Blythe Danner; his daughter, actress Gwyneth Paltrow; and his son, director Jake Paltrow.

October 3, 2004: The last day of baseball's regular season is a sad one, and not just for the 22 teams that didn't make the Playoffs. For 2 reasons: One planned, one not.

The unplanned reason: Blue Jays television announcer John Cerutti is found dead in his SkyDome hotel room. The death of the 44-year old Albany native, who had pitched for the Jays and the Tigers, is due to a heart condition.

He pitched his way to a career record of 49-43, was the winning pitcher in the 1st game at the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) in 1989, and pitched for the Jays in that season's ALCS.

The planned reason: At the site of the franchise’s 1st regular season game in 1969, the Montreal Expos, who are scheduled to move to Washington, D.C. next season, play the last game in their 36-year history, losing to the Mets at Shea Stadium, 8-1. A crowd of 33,569 attends the memorial service, but most are rooting for the Mets.

The Expos' last starting lineup: Brad Wilkerson, 1B; Jamey Carroll, 2B; Val Pascucci, RF; Terreml Sledge, LF; Ryan Church, CF; Einar Diaz, C; Brendan Harris, 3B; Josh Labandeira, SS; and John Patterson, P. Patterson is the losing pitcher, while Tom Glavine wins it.

David Wright and Todd Zeile hit home runs for the Mets. The last play in Expo history is a groundout to 2nd base, Kazuo Matsui to 1st baseman Mike Piazza, induced by reliever Bartolome Fortunato. That last Expo batter is a defensive replacement in center field, who will go on to join the Mets and make Shea history in another way, with his glove: Endy Chavez.

October 3, 2006: Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria fires his manager, even though he would go on to win NL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi. He hired Braves 3rd base coach Fredi Gonzalez.

October 3, 2012: The greatest moment in Washington Nationals “Racing Presidents” history. After getting off to a slow start in the regular-season finale against Philadelphia, Teddy Roosevelt finally beats George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Tom Jefferson to the finish line, winning the race for 1st time since it made its debut at RFK Stadium in 2006. The victory, the mascot’s first in over 500 tries, is assured when a green furry creature, who bears a striking resemblance to a phony Phillie Phanatic, waylays the other 3 Presidential contenders in right field.

On the same day, in other dubious baseball action, Ranger center fielder Josh Hamilton’s 4th inning-error opens the floodgates that allow the A’s to erase a 5-run deficit when they score 6 times, en route to their 12-5 victory at the Oakland Coliseum.

The A’s had been 13 games out of 1st place in the AL West on June 30, and 6 games out on August 25. But their hot streak and the Rangers’ nosedive leaves the A’s as Division Champions, and puts the Rangers into the new 1-game AL Wild Card contest, against the Orioles. This comes after the Rangers’ pathetic performance in the 2010 World Series and their embarrassing chokejob in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. They do not yet have the choke reputation of, say, the Red Sox, the Cubs, or the Indians — but they should.

In positive baseball news, Miguel Cabrera clinches the AL Triple Crown, becoming the 1st player to do so since 1967 when Carl Yastzemski accomplished the feat with Boston. The Tigers 3rd baseman and eventual MVP leads the circuit with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.

October 3, 2013: Sergei Belov dies of heart disease in Perm, Russia. He was 69. A shooting guard at CSKA Moscow (the Red Army team), he was the star of the Soviet basketball team that won the 1972 Olympic Gold Medal. He was not related to Alexander Belov, who scored the winning basket.

In 1980, he closed his playing career, and was invited to light the Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in Moscow. In 1991, FIBA, the governing body for international basketball, named him Europe's greatest player ever. In 1992, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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