Wednesday, October 7, 2015
October 7 Baseball Anniversaries
What does the man who might have been America's greatest writer, and practically the inventor of the detective story and horror fiction, have to do with sports? Not much. At the time he died, baseball was still a new game and not nationally known, although Americans were already turning to it and away from cricket. Boxing and horse racing were popular but not exactly at the level they would reach later in the 19th Century. Soccer and rugby were in their infancy, and Americans hadn't yet noticed them anyway. And American football, basketball, hockey and, in its modern form, tennis had not yet been invented.
However, he had lived in both The Bronx and Boston, so he might have understood the New York-New England, and particularly the Yankees-Red Sox, rivalry were he to see American life today. And, certainly, he would have understood the horror stories that come with teams like the Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills, and others.
Finally, his death and burial in Baltimore led to the city's new football team, established in 1996, being named after his most famous poem: The Baltimore Ravens. His grave is just 1 mile from M&T Bank Stadium.
October 7, 1871: The Great Chicago Fire breaks out at 10:00 in the evening. As the Rockford baseball club travels toward Chicago the next day‚ they see the glow of the fire‚ turn around and return home. Chicago loses its ballpark and all equipment in the fire. The White Stockings are leading in the National Association Pennant race, and must defeat the Troy Haymakers (representing the Albany region) in their remaining 3 games to clinch.
October 7, 1885, 130 years ago: The Providence Grays sweep a doubleheader from the Buffalo Bisons, 4-0 and 6-1 at Olympic Park in Buffalo. Fred Shaw wins both games for the Grays, pitching a no-hitter in the opener.
These are the last 2 games ever played by these franchises, who are both struggling for cash. Only 12 fans pay admission, as Buffalo, as it so often is, turns out to be cold in October. Not twelve thousand, not twelve hundred, but twelve.
Never again has a major league baseball team played in the State of Rhode Island. And, unless you count the Federal League of 1914-15, never again has a major league baseball team represented Buffalo, or any other city in the State of New York, other than the City of New York.
Although Buffalo has an NFL team and an NHL team, and it has an in-city population of 258,000 that isn’t that much less than those of St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, its metropolitan area population of 1,134,000 ranks it 49th among American metro areas. The current smallest area with an MLB team, Milwaukee, has nearly twice as many: A little over 2 million. If you count Canadian cities, Buffalo drops to 56th.
Providence? It has 178,000 people, and while its metro count of 1,604,000 isn’t that far behind Milwaukee, it’s usually included within Boston’s area. Providence is, for this reason, the home of Boston’s Triple-A baseball (well, Pawtucket is) and hockey teams, and the NFL team is actually slightly closer to Kennedy Plaza in Providence than to Downtown Crossing in Boston.
But Providence ain’t getting another MLB team, and Buffalo will never get any closer than it did in 1991, when it was one of 5 finalists for the 2 that began play in 1993.
October 7, 1899: The Brooklyn Superbas clobber their arch-rivals, the New York Giants, 13-2 at home at Washington Park, to win the NL Pennant, and thus the unofficial World Championship of baseball.
The last surviving 1899 Superba was shortstop Bill Dahlen, who ended up crossing the City and winning the 1905 World Series with the New York Giants, and living until 1950.
October 7, 1901: François Xavier Boucher is born in Ottawa, Ontario. Known as Frank or Raffles, he is, aside from Lester Patrick, the greatest figure in New York Rangers history. And, if you're under the age of 80, chances are, you've never heard of him.
The center debuted in the NHL with the Ottawa Sentors in 1922, alongside his brother, Georges "Buck" Boucher. After 4 seasons with the Vancouver Maroons, Patrick, the 1st head coach and general manager of the Rangers, made him an original member of the team. Centering "The A-Line" (named for the Subway line that went past the old Madison Square Garden -- and, as it turned out, the new one as well), later renamed the "Bread Line" during the Great Depression, he was flanked by brothers Bill and Bun Cook. They helped the Rangers reach the 1928, 1929, 1932, 1933 and 1937 Stanley Cup Finals, winning in 1928 and 1933.
Lady Byng, wife of the Governor-General of Canada, donated a trophy to be awarded to "the most gentlemanly player" in the NHL. Boucher won it 7 times in 8 years, so Lady Byng let him keep the trophy, and donated another one. (Eventually, a new trophy would be given out each season.)
In 1939, Patrick stayed on as GM, but stepped aside as coach, and named Boucher. In his 1st season, 1939-40, the Rangers won the Cup again. Indeed, not until 1994 would they win the Stanley Cup without Frank Boucher being directly involved. He got them into the Playoffs in each of his 1st 3 seasons, but World War II took many of the better players. The manpower shortage got so bad that Boucher came out of retirement and played in 15 games in 1944. He resigned in 1949, having made the Playoffs again the year before, and coached them again in the 1953-54 season.
Both Frank and Buck Boucher are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Rangers have retired his uniform number -- but for another player: 7 is retired for Rod Gilbert. In 1974, he wrote When the Rangers Were Young. He died in 1977. In 1998, The Hockey News ranked him Number 61 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. In 2009, the book 100 Ranger Greats listed him as Number 9 on their list.
October 7, 1902: Perhaps the first all-star game in North American sports is played at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh — the Pirates’ current stadium, PNC Park, is built roughly on the site. Sam Leever and the Pirates, including the great Honus Wagner, beat a team of American League all-stars‚ with Cy Young of the Boston Americans (Red Sox) as the losing pitcher, 4-3.
October 7, 1904: Jack Chesbro pitches the New York Highlanders to a 3-2 win over the Boston Americans (Red Sox) for his 41st victory of the season — a record under the post-1893 pitching distance of 60 feet 6 inches that ain’t never gonna be broken unless there’s a major change in the way pitching is done.
The win gives New York a half-game lead over Boston. But the season will not end well for the Highlanders in general and Chesbro in particular.
October 7, 1908: The New York Giants complete a 3-game sweep away to the Boston Doves (forerunners of the Braves, and named for their owner, the brothers George and John Dovey), winning the finale‚ 7-2.
The National League season ends with the Giants and the Chicago Cubs each having a record of 98-55‚ and the Pirates 98-56, half a game back. The September 23 game between the Giants and the Cubs, declared a tie after Fred Merkle's "Boner" cost the Giants the winning run, will be held tomorrow at the Polo Grounds.
Just up the block from the Polo Grounds, but at the other end of the competitive spectrum, the Highlanders close out the season losing 1-0 in 11 innings to young budding star Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators. It is the 103rd loss of the season for the Yankees-to-be, and it remains a club record.
October 7, 1911: With just 1‚000 fans on hand at the Polo Grounds‚ and with the Pennant already clinched, Giant manager John McGraw finally listens to the appeals of Charles Victor “Victory” Faust, who’d told McGraw that a fortune teller in his home town of Marion, Kansas had told him that if he pitched for the Giants, they’d win the Pennant.
Faust was kept on the roster all season, as a good-luck charm. Now, 2 days short of his 31st birthday, he is sent to the mound in the 9th inning against the Boston Rustlers (the Doves having been renamed for new owner, William H. Russell)‚ allowing a hit and a run in a 5-2 loss. Faust also hits‚ circling the bases for a score as the Rustlers, in on the joke, deliberately throw wildly.
Faust will reprise his act on October 12, in the regular season finale against Brooklyn: He allows a hit in his 1 inning; is hit by a pitch and then steals 2nd base and 3rd base‚ and scores on a grounder. In both cases, it was the 9th inning of games that the Giants were already losing.
In the next few weeks, William H. Russell will die. The team is purchased by James Gaffney, an officer in New York’s Tammany Hall political organization. They are known as “Braves,” and the Boston team is so named.
The team carries the name to this day, although they are now in Atlanta. Braves Field is built in 1915, and one of the bordering streets is still named Gaffney Street. Boston University’s Nickerson Field complex was built on the site, with the right-field pavilion of Braves Field still standing as the home stand. An NFL team named the Boston Braves will also play there, changing its name, to avoid confusion, to the Redskins. They will move to Washington in 1937.
As for Charlie Faust, you may be thinking that he's the Rudy Roettiger of baseball. No, he wasn't: Rudy, at least, was good at football in high school. Faust was nothing but a joke. The laughter stopped: McGraw and Giants owner John T. Brush did not invite him to spring training in 1912, and his baseball career was over.
He told anyone who would listen that it wasn't, and in 1913, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, and then to another in Steilacoom, Washington, where he died of tuberculosis in 1915.
October 7, 1914: The Indianapolis Hoosiers defeat the St. Louis Terriers, 4-0 at Federal League Park in Indianapolis, and win the 1st Federal League Pennant. However, their 4-2 win over the Terriers the next day will turn out to be the last Major League Baseball game ever played in the State of Indiana to this day -- if, that is, you consider the FL to have been a "major league." (MLB did not then, but it does now.) Financial losses lead them to be moved to Harrison, New Jersey, where they will become the Newark Peppers.
On the same day, at Fenway Park, the Senators and Red Sox wind up the season in a meaningless game. Washington manager Clark Griffith, age 45, makes his final mound appearance‚ while Boston's star center fielder Tris Speaker does the only pitching of his career‚ giving up a run in an inning. Babe Ruth‚ in relief of starter Hugh Bedient‚ pitches 3 innings for Boston. The Senators win, 11-4.
October 7, 1918: Robert Gustave “Bun” Troy‚ born in Bad Wurzach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany‚ who pitched in (and lost) 1 game for the 1912 Detroit Tigers, fighting for his new country against his old one in World War I, is killed in battle in Meuse‚ France.
He was a Sergeant in the Army's 80th Infantry Division, a.k.a. the Blue Ridge Division. There is no mention of this single-day Tiger's service, in baseball or in the Army, at Comerica Park.
October 7, 1919: Game 6 of the World Series. The Chicago White Sox, down 4 games to 1 in this best-5-out-of-9 Series, must win 4 straight to win. Swede Risberg makes 2 errors, Happy Felsch 1, holding up their end of their corrupt bargain.
But Shoeless Joe Jackson, on the take, and Buck Weaver, who refused to take part in the fix, combine for 7 hits; and Dickie Kerr, who had won Game 3, wins again, as the White Sox top the Cincinnati Reds 4-0.
October 7, 1921: Game 3 of the World Series. Being down 2 games to 0 isn't nearly as bad in a best-5-out-of-9 series (the last time the World Series has had this format) as it would be in a best-4-out-of-7 (which it has been ever since). The Giants set Series records for runs and hits (20), without a single home run (manager John McGraw must have loved that), and beat the Yankees 13-5.
Over the 1st 20 1/2 innings of this Series, the Yankees outscored the Giants 10-0. Over the last 51 1/2 innings, the Giants would outscore the Yankees 31-10.
October 7, 1922: With the questionable calling of Game 2 due to "darkness" in mind, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis insists that Game 4 be played, despite a heavy rain. Again, one big inning, a 4-run 4th off Yankee pitcher Carl Mays, is enough for Hugh McQuillan of the Giants to squeeze out a 4-3 win. Aaron Ward's 2nd homer of the Series is all the long-ball clout the Yankees will display.
Mays' brief collapse today‚ coupled with his 2 losses in the 1921 Series‚ and with the 1919 Series still fresh in fans' memories, leads to rumors that he took money to throw the games. The accusations will persist for decades. As with the claim that his pitch that killed Ray Chapman of Cleveland in 1920 was on purpose, Mays goes to his grave in 1971 insisting that it wasn't true.
Also on this day, Ohio Stadium opens in Columbus. Ohio State University had outgrown Ohio Field, but people laughed when they built a 66,210-seat stadium. They got over 71,000 fans for the opening game, a 5-0 win over Ohio Wesleyan.
Officially, the seating capacity of what ABC Sports college football master Keith Jackson labeled "The Big Horseshoe on the Olentangy" is now 104,944, but they've topped out at 108,610, in last year's 42-28 win over arch-rival Michigan.
UPDATE: They've now topped that, getting 108,975 against Michigan State on November 21, 2015, but they lost, 17-14.
October 7, 1925, 90 years ago: Christy Mathewson dies of tuberculosis at the health-spa town of Saranac Lake‚ New York‚ at the age of 45. At the time of his death, the Giant pitching legend was part owner and president of the Boston Braves.
Later in the day, as word reaches Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, the flag is lowered to half-staff, and will remain so there and at Griffith Stadium in opposing Washington for the remainder of the Series. Commissioner Landis orders that black armbands be applied to both teams' uniforms, even though Mathewson had never been involved with either the Pirates or the Senators.
October 7, 1926: Game 5 of the World Series. Due to the passage of time, this is one of the forgotten classics of baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals lead the Yankees 2-1 in the top of the 9th inning at Sportsman's Park. But Lou Gehrig doubles, Tony Lazzeri bunts him over to 3rd and reaches base anyway, and Ben Paschal singles him home to tie the game.
The Cards get out of it without further damage, but in the 10th, Mark Koenig hits a leadoff single, and advances to 2nd on Bill Sherdel's wild pitch. Babe Ruth draws a walk, Meusel bunts the runners over, and Lazzeri hits a sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 3-2 win. Both Sherdel and the Yankees' Herb Pennock went the distance.
The Yankees now lead 3 games to 2, and have to win just 1 of the last 2 at Yankee Stadium to take the title. They will not win again until April.
October 7, 1927: Game 3 of the World Series. The 60‚695 on hand at Yankee Stadium see the Yankees’ Herb Pennock take an 8-0 lead and a perfect game into the 8th against the Pirates. He retires Glenn Wright‚ the 22nd straight batter‚ but Harold “Pie” Traynor, the Bucs’ Hall of Fame 3rd baseman, breaks the spell with a single‚ and Clyde Barnhart doubles him home. Pennock settles for a 3-hit 8-1 victory.
October 7, 1928: Game 3 of the World Series. Lou Gehrig hits 2 home runs to make a winner out of Tom Zachary, and the Yankees beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-3 at Sportsman's Park. They can complete the sweep tomorrow.
October 7, 1931: Game 5 of the World Series. Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack, who surprised everyone in 1929 by starting veteran Howard Ehmke in the Series opener, tries the ploy against the St. Louis Cardinals with former Yankee Waite Hoyt. Pitching in his 7th Series, Hoyt falls victim to Pepper Martin, who homers and drives in 4 runs with 3 hits. Hallahan wins for the Cards 5-1.
Also on this day, Lowell Fitzsimmons is born in Hannibal, Missouri, hometown of the real-life Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, and of the fictional characters he created such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, as well as the fictional M*A*S*H commanding officer, Colonel Sherman T. Potter. "Cotton" Fitzsimmons -- when your real name is Lowell and you have no middle name, it helps to have a nickname -- was, as songwriter-actor Kris Kristofferson would say, "a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction."
He played basketball at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and coached 2 seasons at Kansas State, before going to the pros. He was named head coach of the Phoenix Suns in just their 2nd season, 1970, and got them to the Playoffs. He got the Atlanta Hawks into the Playoffs in 1973, the Kansas City Kings in 4 times between 1979 and 1984, the San Antonio Spurs in in 1985 and '86, and the Suns 4 straight times from 1989 to 1992, and 1 more time in his 3rd stint in Phoenix in 1996.
He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1979 (with Kansas City) and 1989 (with Phoenix). Overall, he won 832 games as an NBA head coach, 341 of them with the Suns, who hung a banner with the number 832 on it, standing in for a retired uniform number. In 8th place on the all-time wins list when he retired, he still ranks 10th.
He is a member of the Suns' Ring of Honor and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, and on the NBA's 50th Anniversary in 1996, he was named to its 10 Greatest Coaches. Alas, he has not yet been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He died of the combined effects of lung cancer and several strokes, in 2004, age 72.
Also on this day, Thomas Edison Lewis -- Thomas Alva Edison died the same year -- is born in Greenville, Alabama. Not Greenbow: Forrest Gump was also a football star at the University of Alabama, but his story and his hometown are fictional. Tommy Lewis was real.
A fullback, he scored 2 touchdowns in the Crimson Tide's win over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl. His last game was the 1954 Cotton Bowl, and he scored a touchdown to give 'Bama a 6-0 lead. But in the 2nd quarter, Rick halfback Dickey Moegle scored on a 79-yard touchdown run, and, unlike Alabama, they successfully kicked the extra point.
Later in the quarter, Moegle took off from his own 5-yard line, and sped down the sideline in front of the Alabama bench. He was going to score a touchdown, but Lewis ran onto the field -- he didn't even have his helmet on at the time -- and tackled him at the Alabama 42-yard line. This was interference -- not to mention 12 men on the field -- and Lewis knew it, thinking that Alabama would be penalized only 5 yards for, as the rule book calls it, "illegal participation."
Referee Cliff Shaw wouldn't have it: He invoked "the palpably unfair act," which accounts for situations when a flagrant rule violation prevents a player from scoring by awarding the score anyway. (This is the equivalent of a "professional foul" in other forms of football. I don't know what it would be in rugby or its close cousin, Australian rules football. But in soccer, it is cause for a straight red card, the fouling playing getting thrown out of the game; if it happens in the penalty area, a penalty kick is awarded.) Shaw ruled that Moegle would have scored, and awarded Rice a touchdown.
It remains one of the most shocking plays in football history. At the time, the only more famous play in college football history was probably the wrong-way run by California's Roy Riegels that resulted in a safety that gave Georgia Tech a win in the 1929 Rose Bowl. Someone looked "Wrong Way" Riegels up, hoping for a quote by a man who might understand. Riegels did, indeed, watch the '54 Cotton Bowl on TV, and said Lewis "must feel like a sap." (After all, it was still only 7-6 Rice at the time. Even at 14-6, the game would still have been winnable for Alabama.)
Lewis apologized to Moegle as the teams left the field for halftime. Moegle would score a 3rd touchdown, and teammate Buddy Grantham would add another, and Rice won, 28-6. All told, Moegle rushed for an astounding 265 yards, a Cotton Bowl record for the next 54 years -- 208 of them on his 3 touchdown runs.
But both players became celebrities as a result, partly due to the game being on television, and TV having become almost universal by 1954. CBS was the broadcaster, and another CBS figure, Ed Sullivan, invited them onto his variety show. Ed asked Lewis what he was thinking when he saw the chance to make the illegal tackle. He said, "Mr. Sullivan, I guess I was just so full of 'Bama."
Lewis was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals, but didn't make the team. He played for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League in 1956 and '57 -- appropriate, since Canadian-style football has 12-a-side to begin with! He later coached a minor-league team in Alabama, and died a year ago, at the age of 83.
Moegle would later change the spelling of his name so that it matched the pronunciation, and tended to drop the juvenile-sounding Y, so that he's usually now called "Dick Maegle." He had a longer career, playing as a defensive back in the NFL from 1955 to 1961, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers, and closed his career with his home-State Dallas Cowboys (before they got good). He was elected to the College Football and Texas Sports Halls of Fame. He is still alive, age 81.
Cliff Shaw was rated as the top referee in the Southwest Conference every season from 1951 until his retirement in 1966, and later served as an executive at a dairy in Little Rock, Arkansas. He lived until 1998, age 91.
October 7, 1933: Prior to Game 5 of the World Series‚ at Griffith Stadium in Washington, flags are lowered to half-staff to honor William L. Veeck‚ president of the Chicago Cubs, who died suddenly. He is not well remembered with the passage of more than 80 years, but his son, Bill Veeck, already working in the Cubs’ front office by 1933, will become one of baseball’s most remarkable men.
In the meantime, the Series comes to a close when Mel Ott homers in the top of the 10th inning for a 4-3 Giants victory. Adolfo “Dolf” Luque, Cuban but light-skinned enough to play in the majors of the time, gets the win in relief. The Giants are World Champs for the 4th time, tying the Yankees and the Philadelphia Athletics for the most all-time.
This remains, 82 years later, the last World Series game played by a Washington team, let alone in the District of Columbia. Ya think the Nationals now wish they’d let Stephen Strasburg pitch just 1 inning in the 2012 NL Division Series? One very particular inning?
The last surviving member of the 1933 Giants was left fielder Joseph "Jo-Jo" Moore, who lived until 2001.
October 7, 1935, 80 years ago: Game 6 of the World Series, at Navin Field (later renamed Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium) in Detroit. Stan Hack of the Cubs leads off the top of the 9th inning with a triple, but his teammates can't bring him home. In the bottom of the 9th, Goose Goslin singles home his catcher and manager, Mickey Cochrane, to win 4-3, giving Detroit its 1st World Championship in any sport.
This will quickly be followed by the Lions winning the 1935 NFL Championship, the Red Wings winning the 1936 and 1937 Stanley Cups, and Alabama-born, Detroit-raised boxer Joe Louis winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1937.
The last survivor of the 1935 Tigers was Elden Auker, a submarine-style pitcher, who lived until 2006, enabling him to write the last baseball memoir of the period, Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms; and to give interviews to Major League Baseball Productions that were used for the 1999 Major League Baseball All-Century Team broadcast, The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players special the same year, the 2001 special honoring the 100th Anniversary of the American League, and various YES Network Yankeeography installments.
October 7, 1937: Game 2 of the World Series. As in Game 1, the Giants score in the 1st inning, and not again in the game. Red Ruffing not only outpitched rookie Cliff Melton, but singled home the go-ahead run in the 5th inning, on the way to an 8-1 Yankee victory.
October 7, 1939: Game 3 of the World Series. Charlie Keller would have been the Most Valuable Player of this Series had there been such an award at the time. He hits 2 home runs, Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey also go deep, and the Yankees beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-3, behind the pitching of Bump Hadley. They can complete the sweep tomorrow.
Also on this day, Bill Snyder -- apparently, his full name, not "William," and no middle name -- is born in St. Joseph, Missouri. In 1989, after 27 seasons as a high school head coach and a college assistant, at North Texas and Iowa, he was handed the head coaching reins at Kansas State University, one of the sorriest programs in college ball: All-time, in 93 season, they were 299-510 (.370), with the most losses of any Division I-A program. When he arrived, they hadn't won a game in 3 years.
By 1991, he had gotten them to a winning record. In 1993, he got them to the Copper Bowl, their 2nd bowl game, and their 1st bowl win. They went to bowls for 11 straight seasons, winning 6. In 1998, he got them to an 11-0 start and a Number 1 ranking, before they dropped their last 2 games.
He retired after the 2005 season, and KSU Stadium was renamed Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. He returned to the post in 2009, and is still there, at the age of 76. His record is 190-95-1 (a devilish winning percentage of .666), he's won 4 Division titles, 2 overall Big 12 Conference Championships (2003 and 2012), and was named Coach of the Year twice (1998 and 2011). He was just inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Also on this day, John Eugene O'Donoghue is born in Kansas City, Missouri. The pitcher was an All-Star in 1965, because every team needed at least 1 and he was the best there was on the Kansas City Athletics that year. That was the highlight of his career. He managed to save 6 games for the expansion 1969 Seattle Pilots, made the move to Milwaukee to become the Brewers, and finished up with the 1971 Montreal Expos.
He is still alive. His son, also named John O'Donoghue, pitched 11 games in the majors, all for the 1993 Baltimore Orioles.
October 7, 1940, 75 years ago: Game 6 of the World Series. Bucky Walters pitches a 5-hit shutout at Crosley Field, and becomes the 1st pitcher in 14 years to hit a Series home run. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Tigers 4-0.
October 7, 1943: Game 3 of the World Series. Bloomfield, New Jersey native Hank Borowy pitches the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Cardinals at Sportsman's Park, and the Yankees take a 2 games to 1 lead. It is the 1st time as a World Series hero for Borowy. It will not be the last -- but it will be the last as a Yankee.
Also on this day, José Rosario Domec Cardenal is born in Matanzas, Cuba. Among the last of the Cuban baseball players to reach the major leagues before Fidel Castro cut off the supply, he played the outfield for 18 seasons, batting .275 and hitting 138 home runs. He had his best years with the Cubs, and spent late 1979 and early 1980 with the Mets. He didn't play in his 1st postseason game until he was 35, with the 1978 Phillies, and closed his career against the Phillies with the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series.
He went into coaching, and was Joe Torre's 1st base coach with the Cardinals and then the Yankees, winning World Series rings in 1996, 1998 and 1999. His most recent job in the majors was in the Washington Nationals' front office in 2009.
October 7, 1944: Pete van Wieren is born in Rochester, New York. He broadcast Atlanta Braves games from 1976 to 2008, and also did games of Atlanta's other teams: The NFL's Falcons, the NBA's Hawks and the NHL's Flames before their move to Calgary. The Braves elected him to their team Hall of Fame, and he died in 2014.
October 7, 1945, 70 years ago: Charles Richard Bates is born in McArthur, Ohio. Dick Bates was a pitcher in the minor leagues from 1964 to 1970. He made his only big-league appearance with the Seattle Pilots (making him a bullpen mate of the aforementioned John O'Donoghue) on April 27, 1969, pitching an inning and 2/3rds and allowing 5 runs. He pitched 3 games in Triple-A ball in 1970, and was released, throwing his last professional pitch at age 25. He now runs a country club in the Phoenix area.
October 7, 1947: A day after the Yankees won the World Series, Del Webb and Dan Topping buy out the shares of the team's other part-owner, Larry MacPhail, who was also the club's general manager. MacPhail had ruined the postgame party the night before with a drunken tirade.
Although he had brought lights and local radio broadcasts to baseball, built a winner in Cincinnati, saved the Brooklyn Dodgers from bankruptcy and built them into a winner, and gave the Yankees their 1st organizational steps forward since Yankee Stadium opened, he never worked in baseball again, because of his erratic behavior. As was said of the Roaring Redhead, "With no drinks, he was beautiful. With one drink, he was brilliant. With two drinks, he was impossible. And he rarely stopped with two."
And he would die before his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But his son Lee and grandson Andy would become prominent baseball executives, with Lee joining Larry as the only father and son ever both elected to the Hall.
October 7, 1949: Game 3 of the World Series. Ralph Branca pitches pretty well for the Dodgers, until the 9th inning. With the score tied 1-1, Johnny Mize hits a 2-run pinch-hit single, and Jerry Coleman drives in another run. The Dodgers get homers from Roy Campanella and Luis Olmo in the bottom of the 9th, but both were solo jobs, and the Yankees win 4-3, to take a 2 games to 1 lead in the Series.
October 7, 1950: Game 4 of the World Series. Rookie lefthander Eddie Ford, with 9th inning help from Allie Reynolds, beats the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2, as the Yankees complete the sweep. Coleman wins the Babe Ruth Award as the Series Most Valuable Player.
Ford and the Phillies’ center fielder Richie Ashburn both have very light blond hair that gets them nicknamed “Whitey.” In Ashburn’s case, even that was a shortening, of “The White Mouse.” Ford will be drafted into the Army and spend the 1951 and ’52 seasons in the Korean War, but when he comes back in ’53, he will be at the top of his game, and he will be “Whitey” from then on.
In contrast, most Phillies fans did not yet know Ashburn as “Whitey,” but his friends did. The nickname became more familiar as he became a broadcaster, with partner Harry Kalas calling him “Whitey” and referring to him, when he’s not there, as “His Whiteness.”
The Phils are nicknamed “the Whiz Kids” because they have the youngest average age of any Pennant-winner ever, 23. Ashburn would later say that they figured they had enough time to win a few more Pennants.
But mismanagement, and the success of the team the Phils edged to win the Pennant, the Brooklyn Dodgers, meant that, by the time the Phils did win another Pennant, Ashburn was in the booth, and the Phils’ biggest stars would be men who were small children in 1950: 9-year-old Pete Rose, 6-year-old Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw, 2-year-old Mike Schmidt, and a child who would not be born until a few weeks after the 1950 World Series, Greg Luzinski.
With the recent death of Yogi Berra, there are 3 players from the 1950 Yankees' World Series roster who are still alive: Ford, catcher Charlie Silvera, and 3rd baseman Bobby Brown.
October 7, 1952: In the decisive Game 7, the Yankees beat the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, 4-2, to win their 4th consecutive World Championship, their 15th overall, and their 1st without Joe DiMaggio in 20 years. The Dodgers still haven’t won a World Series — the idea that “Next Year” will come is getting more and more frustrating.
This game was highlighted by the Dodgers loading the bases in the bottom of the 7th. Yankee manager Casey Stengel had already used each of his “Big Three”: Vic Raschi, Eddie Lopat, and now Allie Reynolds. He calls on the lefty reliever who had closed out the previous year’s Series, Bob Kuzava.
He gets Jackie Robinson to pop the ball up, but the late afternoon sun is peeking through the decks of Ebbets Field, and nobody sees the ball! Nobody except 2nd baseman Billy Martin, who dashes in, and catches the ball at his knee to end the threat.
It was the first time Billy would ruin Dodger hopes. The last time he did so, it would be as a manager, and the Dodgers would represent Los Angeles.
Gil Hodges finishes the Fall Classic hitless in 21 at-bats, which had prompted some Brooklyn fans, some fellow Catholics, some not, to gather at local churches asking for divine help for their beloved 1st baseman. Fortunately, Dodger owner Walter O’Malley, mean old man that he is, is not George Steinbrenner, and doesn’t do what George did to Dave Winfield following his 1-for-21 performance in the ’81 Series against the L.A. edition of the Dodgers: Call him “Mr. May,” in comparison to “Mr. October,” Reggie Jackson.
There are 3 surviving 1952 Yankees: Kuzava, the aforementioned Silvera, and Irv Noren. Ford, as I said in the 1950 entry, was not on the roster in this season, as he was serving in the Korean War.
Also on this day, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is born in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia). Russia's virtual dictator since 1999 has some connections to sports: He is a judo master, a skier, a badminton player, a cyclist and a fisherman.
He also fancies himself a hockey player, having played in a benefit game, scoring several goals that the goalie didn't exactly try to stop (and God, whom Putin does not believe exists, help any opponent who checked him into the boards). He was instrumental in helping Russia get soccer's 2018 World Cup. (Bribery?) He is a fan of his hometown soccer team, Zenit St. Petersburg, often called the most racist club in the world.
October 7, 1956: Game 4 of the World Series. Mickey Mantle and Hank Bauer back Tom Sturdivant's complete game with home runs, and the Yankees tie the Series up, 6-2. The stage is set for one of the most amazing games in baseball history tomorrow.
Also on this day, Brian Louis Allen Sutter is born in Viking, Alberta, the 2nd-oldest of 7 brothers who played professional hockey. Only the oldest brother, Gary, did not make it to the NHL, mainly because he wanted to try something else. Duane and Brent would be the only ones to win the Stanley Cup, as part of the early 1980s Islander dynasty.
Brian reached the NHL first, scoring 303 goals in 12 seasons. When he retired in 1988, the St. Louis Blues, for whom he played for his entire career, not only retired his Number 11 (making him the only Sutter brother so honored to date), but named him head coach.
In 1991, he won the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year. He coached the Boston Bruins to the 1993 Adams Division regular-season title, and also coached the Calgary Flames. But, as a coach or a player, the closest he ever got to the Cup was the 1986 Campbell (Western) Conference Finals. He is now coaching in the minor leagues. His son Shaun Sutter is now assistant general manager of the junior Red Deer Rebels.
October 7, 1957: Lew Burdette beats the Yankees in Game 5, his 2nd win of the Series, a brilliant 1-0 shutout to give the Milwaukee Braves a 3-2 Series lead.
The day gets worse for New York baseball, as the Los Angeles City Council approves the Chavez Ravine site for Dodger Stadium by a vote of 10 to 4. The Giants had already announced their move to San Francisco, and now the Dodgers’ move was inevitable. It was announced the next day. Apparently, finally winning the World Series in 1955 and another Pennant in 1956 couldn’t save them.
Also on this day, Jayne Torvill (no middle name) is born in Nottingham, England. With Christopher Dean, she won the Gold Medal in ice dancing at the 1984 Winter Olympics. They both got married to other skaters, but not to each other, but you wouldn't know that by watching them: Their routine, to the tune of Maurice Ravel's Bolero, was too hot for 1980s prime-time TV.
October 7, 1961: Game 3 of the World Series at Crosley Field, the 1st Series game in Cincinnati in 21 years. The Yankees trail the Reds 2-1 going into the 8th inning, but home runs by Johnny Blanchard and Roger Maris (not officially counted as his 62nd of the season) off Reds starter Bob Purkey give the Yanks a 3-2 win, and a 2 games to 1 lead in the Series.
Most of NBC's World Series footage from 1947 to 1974 has been lost. Somehow, the 9th inning of this game has survived. Note that Mel Allen gives a recap of the scoring as Maris steps up to bat, since instant replay was still 2 years away from being invented. (CBS would debut it at the 1963 Army-Navy Game.)
At about the 6:15 mark, you can see the Reds' bullpen in foul territory, and the famous "incline" in Crosley's deep left field. You'll also notice that the Reds fans gave a nice hand to Maris as he trotted around the bases, even though he hit the home run that may have just beaten them -- a better reception than he got for some of his Yankee Stadium homers that year. They still, however, cheered when Purkey struck out the next batter, Mickey Mantle. And Mel's broadcast partner, Joe Garagiola, was Yogi Berra's across-the-street neighbor growing up in St. Louis, and has insight into him as he bats.
Also on this day, Anthony Joseph Sparano III is born in West Haven, Connecticut. His name confused people familiar with the fictional Tony Soprano. He is one of many NFL coaches who has proved successful as an assistant, but not as a head man: He got the Miami Dolphins to the 2008 AFC East title, but had a losing record after that. He was offensive coordinator for the Jets in 2012, closed out the 2014 season as interim head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and has since crossed the Bay, where he is now tight ends coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
October 7, 1962: Game 3 of the World Series. The Yankees score 3 runs in the 7th off Billy Pierce, but the Giants nearly come back in the 9th. Bill Stafford holds them off, and gets the complete-game victory, 3-2.
October 7, 1964: Game 1 of the World Series. Whitey Ford develops a problem with his elbow, and has to leave the game in the 6th inning, after giving up a home run to Mike Shannon and a double to Tim McCarver. Before Al Downing can finish the inning, the Cardinals have scored 4 runs, and win the game 9-5.
Whitey had appeared in 22 Series games, winning 10 and losing 8, all records that still stand. But he would never appear in another: His injury kept him out of the rest of the '64 Series, and the Yankees didn't make it back until 1976.
Whitey Ford has never gotten the credit he deserves -- not during his career, when he was always overshadowed by Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Roger Maris; and not in the nearly half-century since his retirement. Fans under the age of 55 have never seen him pitch, except in Old-Timers' Games. Fans whose memories begin with the Torre/Jeter/Rivera era haven't even seen him do that.
They don't get just how good he was, just how important he was. So who is the greatest pitcher in Yankee history: Whitey Ford, or Mariano Rivera? It's a tough call. For those of you who aren't old enough to have seen Whitey pitch (and I'm not), think about this: The very fact that there I'm putting into question that a Yankee pitcher might have been better, or more valuable, than the shining Mariano Rivera should tell you just what a gem Whitey Ford was. And, since he's still alive, is. Presuming he lives another 2 weeks, he'll be 87 years old. And, with Yogi's death, he is arguably (with Rivera, Derek Jeter and Reggie Jackson also in the discussion) the greatest living Yankee.
Also on this day, Paul Andrew Stewart is born in Manchester, England. A midfielder, he starred for Lancashire side Blackpool, spent a season at hometown club Manchester City, and scored in the 1991 FA Cup Final for Tottenham Hotspur -- the last major trophy that "Spurs" have won. He also played for Liverpool and Sunderland, making him one of the few players to play in a Manchester Derby (City vs. United), a North London Derby (Arsenal vs. Tottenham), a Merseyside Derby (Liverpool vs. Everton) and a North-East Derby (Newcastle United vs. Sunderland).
October 7, 1965, 50 years ago: Game 2 of the World Series. Having Don Drysdale lose to the Minnesota Twins the day before, because Sandy Koufax wouldn't pitch on Yom Kippur, the Los Angeles Dodgers need Koufax to pitch well today. But Jim Kaat pitches even better, and helps his own cause with 2 RBIs, as the Twins beat the Dodgers 5-1 at Metropolitan Stadium. The Bums are in a big hole as they head back to L.A.
October 7, 1968: Mickey Lolich saves the Tigers‚ winning Game 5 of the World Series, 5-3 over the Cardinals, with an unlikely assist from Lou Brock. On 2nd base in the 5th‚ Brock, normally one of the game’s greatest baserunners, tries to score standing up on Julian Javier’s single, and is gunned down by Willie Horton’s throw from left field. Al Kaline’s bases-loaded single off Joe Hoerner in the 7th scores 2 for the winning margin. The Tigers stay alive, but still need to win Games 6 and 7 — in St. Louis, with Bob Gibson the potential Game 7 starter.
The bigger story, at least in the short term, is Puerto Rican-born, New York-raised singer and acoustic guitar wizard Jose Feliciano’s modern rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Born blind, Feliciano comes onto the field wearing sunglasses and being guided by a dog — both of which are considered threatening by many in-person and TV viewers. He does no vocal hysterics like some more recent singers we could mention; he just sings the National Anthem of the country he loves, of which he is a full citizen as all Puerto Rico natives are, and which gave him the chance to become rich and famous. He simply does it a little differently, in his own style which he calls “Latin jazz.”
In this time of the Vietnam War, race riots, assassinations and political unrest — Richard Nixon is about to be elected President in a squeaker because too many Democrats turned off by the war and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy stay home and don’t vote for longtime liberal hero Hubert Humphrey — the reaction to Feliciano’s rendition is muted in the Tiger Stadium stands, and furious on telephones, talk radio and newspapers. His career stalls for 2 years, until the release of his Christmas song “Feliz Navidad.”
Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell, himself a published songwriter, authorized by the office of Commissioner William D. "Spike" Eckert to select Detroit’s Anthem singers for the Series, defended his choice.
Ironically, the man he’d selected for Game 4 was Marvin Gaye, a superstar of Detroit’s Motown Records. Gaye sang it straight, and very nicely. In 1983, at the NBA All-Star Game, Gaye, in the midst of a big comeback that would tragically end with his death the next year, sang the Anthem gospel-style. The times had changed: His version was greeted with thunderous cheers and applause.
“Mr. Ernie” had introduced Feliciano to his wife, Susan, who grew up in Detroit. In 2010, Harwell died, and a memorial service was held at Detroit’s Comerica Park. Feliciano was invited to sing the Anthem at this service, and was wildly cheered afterward. His version was also included on The Tenth Inning, Ken Burns’ 2010 sequel to his 1994 miniseries Baseball. Listen and judge for yourself. (As I pointed out, NBC no longer has color videotape of most of the World Series prior to 1975.)
October 7, 1969: The Cardinals trade Curt Flood, Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner and Tim McCarver to the Phillies in exchange for Richie Allen, Jerry Johnson and Cookie Rojas.
Essentially, this was a "my headache for your headache" trade. Flood and McCarver had been complaining about how they were being treated by Cardinal owner Gussie Busch. And Allen was a lightning rod, who stayed out late, arrived to games late, drank too much, bet on horse races, and (however unintentionally) stirred up the racial resentments of "the City of Brotherly Love." He had also begun to insist upon being called "Dick," saying that "Richie," was "a little boy's name." On this, Phillies broadcaster and center field legend Richie Ashburn (who usually preferred "Rich" or, like Ford, "Whitey") backed him up.
As could be expected, Allen, who so badly wanted out of Philadelphia, was involved in a trade that also became controversial — except, ironically, his part in it wasn’t the controversial part. He reported to St. Louis without controversy, has a good 1970 season for the Cards, and, on his return to Philadelphia with his new team, is cheered, and hits a home run.
Flood, like Allen believing Philly to be a racist city (with some reason), refuses to report to the Phillies. The Cardinals will send Willie Montanez and a minor leaguer to complete the trade, but Flood’s courageous challenge to the reserve clause will have a dramatic impact on the game.
The Phillies will eventually get Allen back, and, having been transplanted across town to Veterans Stadium, will faced cheers as in 1964 instead of boos as in 1965 to 1969, and will help the Phils win the NL Eastern Division title in 1976. These days, he works in the Phils' front office, has beaten his drinking problem, and whenever he's introduced at Citizens Bank Park, he is thoroughly cheered.
October 7, 1972: The NHL's 2 new expansion teams, the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Flames, play their 1st regular-season games, against each other at the Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 30 miles east of Midtown Manhattan.
Original Captain Ed Westfall scores the Islanders' 1st goal, and Morris Stefaniw scores the 1st for the Flames, who win, 3-2. The Isles' 1st season will be very rough, giving no indication as to the consistent excellence they will produce from 1975 to 1987, and the 4 straight Stanley Cups they will win from 1980 to 1983.
October 7, 1973: Nélson de Jesus da Silva is born in Irará, Bahia, Brazil. Like Edvaldo Alves de Santa Rosa, who starred as a forward for Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo and helped Brazil win the 1958 World Cup, he is known by the nickname Dida. This one, however, is a goalkeeper.
He helped Belo Horizonte club Cruzeiro win the Copa do Brazil in 1996 and the Copa Libertadores, South America's version of the UEFA Champions League, in 1997. He moved on to São Paulo club Corinthians, and helped them win the Brazilian league in 1999 and the Copa do Brasil in 2002. Also in 2002, he was the starting goalie for his country as it won the World Cup. He also helped them win the Confederations Cup in 1997 and 2005, and the Copa América in 1999.
He moved on to one of the titans of Europe, A.C. Milan, winning the Champions League and the Coppa Italia in 2003, Serie A in 2004. and another Champions League in 2007. Now back in Brazil, he plays for Internacional in Porto Alegre, winning the Campeonato Gaúcho (state championship) the last 2 seasons.
He is not the only soccer legend born in this day. Sami Tuomas Hyypiä is born in Porvoo, Finland. He is easily the greatest player his country has ever produced, helping the now-defunct club MyPa to win the Finnish Cup in 1992 and 1995, before being signed by Dutch club Willem II Tilburg and then England's Liverpool.
With the Merseyside club, he won a unique Cup Treble: The FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup (now known as the Europa League) in 2001. He helped them win another League Cup in 2003, another FA Cup in 2006 (their last major trophy to date), and, as Liverpool fans will never stop reminding us, the Champions League in 2005, beating Dida's A.C. Milan. (Milan got their revenge on Liverpool in the 2007 Final, though.)
He last played in 2011 for German club Bayer Leverkusen, and now manages Swiss side F.C. Zurich.
October 7, 1975, 40 years ago: Both League's Championship Series end in sweeps. In the afternoon, Rick Wise of the Red Sox shuts down the Oakland Athletics, Carl Yastrzemski makes 2 great defensive plays, and the Sox win, 5-3 at the Oakland Coliseum, ending the A's dynasty. It is the 1st American League Pennant for the Sox in 8 years, since the "Impossible Dream" of 1967. Only Yaz and Rico Petrocelli remain from that team.j
That night, at Three Rivers Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds score twice in the top of the 10th inning, and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3, to take their 3rd National League Pennant in the last 6 years.
The Reds will be seeking their 1st World Championship in 35 years; the Red Sox, their 1st in 57. The Ohio Valley vs. New England, the Big Red Machine vs. the Olde Towne Teame, both loaded with characters, both having waited a long time. Something's got to give.
October 7, 1976: The Cleveland Barons play their 1st NHL game, after 7 seasons as a Bay Area team, known first as the Oakland Seals and then as the California Golden Seals. A team named the Cleveland Barons had played in the American Hockey League from 1929 to 1973, from 1937 onward at the old Cleveland Arena, and won 9 Calder Cups. In the 1950s, they challenged the NHL for the right to play their champions for the Stanley Cup, remembering that the Cup was once a challenge trophy, but were turned down.
The major-league edition of the Barons opens at the Coliseum in the Cleveland suburb of Richfield, and plays the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-2 tie. But they will be so cash-poor that they missed paying their players twice, and only a loan from the League kept them afloat. After 2 awful seasons, the NHL allows them to merge with another bankrupt team, the Minnesota North Stars, continuing under the North Stars name.
Despite the opening of what is now the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland in 1994, the NHL has never returned to Northern Ohio, and wouldn't return to Ohio at all until 2000 (see below). A minor-league team would revive the Barons name in 2001, playing at "The Q," but failed, and moved in 2006.
Also on this day, Charles Woodson (no middle name) is born in Fremont, Ohio. Despite being named Ohio's Mr. Football at Ross High School in 1994, he rejected Ohio State to play for Michigan. In 1997, the free safety led the Wolverines to the National Championship, and became the 1st purely defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.
An 8-time Pro Bowler, he helped get the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII, and the Green Bay Packers to win Super Bowl XLV. He is the only player in NFL history to have career totals of at least 50 interceptions and 20 sacks. He was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Now back with the Raiders, he is the only remaining Heisman winner from the 20th Century still active. (The next-earliest is 2002 winner Carson Palmer.)
Also on this day, Gilberto Aparecido da Silva is born in Lagoa da Prata, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The midfielder starred in his homeland before being signed by North London club Arsenal. He helped them win the 2003 FA Cup, win the Premier League with its only modern unbeaten season in 2004, and another FA Cup in 2005, before falling in the Champions League Final in 2006.
He moved on to Athens club Panathinaikos, winning Greece's Super League and Cup (Double) in 2010. He returned to Brazil and helped "hometown" club Atlético Mineiro win the state championship and the Copa Liberatores in 2013. For his country, he won the World Cup in 2002, the Confederations Cup in 2005 and 2009, and the Copa América in 2007. He retired after the 2013 Copa Libertadores.
October 7, 1977: First 1950, then 1969, now 1977: October 7 is not a good day for baseball in the City of Brotherly Love.
It starts out as a good one: The 63,719 fans at Veterans Stadium are so loud, they force Dodger pitcher Burt Hooton to load the bases in the 2nd inning, and then walk 2 runs home. The Phils, who won 101 games (a team record not broken until 2011), look like they’re going to win this game, and will need just one more win for their 1st Pennant in 27 years, since the 1950 Whiz Kids.
But in the top of the 9th, trailing 5-3 and down to their last out, the Dodgers benefit from a sickening turn of events. Pinch hitter Vic Davalillo, a 41-year-old Venezuelan outfielder who has already retired from baseball once, shows enough guts to lay down a drag bunt, at his age, with 2 strikes, and he beats it out.
Another again Latin pinch hitter, 39-year-old Dominican Manny Mota, hits a long drive to left field. Ordinarily, Phils manager Danny Ozark would have sent Jerry Martin out to left for defensive purposes, in place of the powerful but defensively suspect Greg Luzinski. This time, he didn’t, and the Bull can only trap the ball against the fence. (In fairness, I’ve seen the play several times, and I don’t think Martin would have caught it, either, especially since he was a bit shorter than the Bull.) Luzinski throws back to the infield, but Phils 2nd baseman Ted Sizemore mishandles it, Mota goes to 3rd, and Davalillo scores. It’s 5-4 Phils, with 2 out.
Then comes one of the most brutal umpiring screwups ever. Remember, the Dodgers are still down to their last out. Davey Lopes’ grounder hits a seam in the artificial turf, and caroms off Mike Schmidt’s knee to Larry Bowa‚ and the shortstop’s throw is incorrectly ruled late. Instead of the game being over in Philly’s favor, Mota scores the tying run. The Dodgers go on to win, 6-5, and win the Pennant the next day.
In Philadelphia, the game is known as Black Friday. The umpire whose call killed the Phils? Bruce Froemming. He had already cost Milt Pappas a perfect game with a bogus ball four call in 1972 (though Pappas kept the no-hitter), and will go on to umpire for a record 37 years, with his swan song being the 2007 AL Division Series between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians, when he, as crew chief, refused to stop the game until the Lake Erie Midges left.
October 7, 1978: The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals for the 3rd straight year, and win their 3rd straight Pennant, their 32nd overall. Roy White, in his 14th season with the Yankees, hits a tiebreaking homer in the 6th. Graig Nettles homers and makes a sensational play at 3rd, and Ron Guidry wins for the 26th time in his remarkable season.
The NL Pennant is also decided today, and, yet again, the Phillies can't catch a break. In Game 4 of the NLCS, Ron Cey scores in the 10th inning on Bill Russell's 2-out game winning single, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 victory, and their 2nd consecutive Pennant. Cey, who walked after the first 2 batters were retired, advanced into scoring position when Garry Maddox misplayed Dusty Baker's fly ball in center field.
How odd is this? Maddox was so good in center field that he was nicknamed the Secretary of Defense. Ralph Kiner, the Pirate slugger turned Met broadcaster, said, "Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox." But on this occasion, Maddox blows it. He will, however, catch the final out of the NLCS in 1980, when the Phillies finally win the Pennant after 30 years.
October 7, 1981: For the 1st time, an MLB postseason game is played outside the United States. The Montreal Expos defeat the Phillies 3-1 in Game 1 of the strike-forced National League Eastern Division Series at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
October 7, 1982: Jermain Colin Defoe is born in Beckton, East London. Despite being just 5-foot-7 1/2, the striker became a legend at Tottenham -- or, rather, what passed for a "legend" among Spurs fans.
He first starred for East London club West Ham United, before moving to Spurs, the other club in North London. He was sold to Portsmouth, managed by former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp, in 2008. But because he'd played for Spurs in their 3rd Round FA Cup match, he was "cup-tied," and couldn't play for "Pompey" in the FA Cup... which they won, the club's only major trophy since the 1950 League title. Meanwhile, Spurs won the League Cup, their last trophy of any significance (which isn't much), and he wasn't there for it!
Desperate for cash after Redknapp left them -- ironically, for Spurs -- heavily in debt, Pompey sold him back to Spurs, where he remained until 2014. An ill-fated season in North America with Toronto F.C. followed, and now he's back in England with Sunderland. He's played 55 times for England, scoring 19 goals.
Despite his long service in the game, he's never won a trophy, coming the closest with Portsmouth in 2008 (ineligible for their FA Cup) and Tottenham in 2009 (their defense of the League Cup ending in defeat of the Final). He did reach the Quarterfinals of the 2011 Champions League with Tottenham, but that's hardly a trophy. He's certainly unlikely to get anything with Sunderland this season, seeing as how they're in danger of relegation and just changed managers for the 374th time in the last 20 seasons. (That's an exaggeration, but it sure seems like that many.)
October 7, 1984: Game 5 of the NLCS. Winner takes the Pennant. The San Diego Padres are in their 16th season, and have never won one. The Cubs haven't won one in 39 years. Something has to give at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium.
The Cubs lead 3-0 going into the bottom of the 6th, but the Padres score 2 runs. Eventual NL Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe begins the bottom of the 7th by walking Carmelo Martinez. Garry Templeton bunts him over to 2nd. The batter is Tim Flannery, a good-field-no-hit 2nd baseman, pinch-hitting for pitcher Craig Lefferts (and not much of an upgrade at the plate). He hits a dribbler to 1st, and Leon Durham lets it go through his legs -- much as the man he replaced as Cub 1st baseman, Bill Buckner, will do in the World Series 2 years later. Martinez scores the tying run.
Then the Padres pile it on. Alan Wiggins singles. Tony Gwynn doubles Flannery home with the go-ahead run. Wiggins also scores on the play. And last night's Padre hero, Steve Garvey, singles home Gwynn. The score is 6-3, and it stays that way.
Of note for Yankee Fans: There were 3 members of their 1981 Pennant-winners on the Padres: Graig Nettles, Goose Gossage, and outfielder Bobby Brown (no connection to the earlier Yankee 3rd baseman of the same name).
For Padre fans, it is their 1st Pennant, and the biggest moment in San Diego sports since the Chargers won the 1963 AFL Championship. For Cub fans, it is a bigger heartbreak than 1969. In 1969, it took them an entire month to melt down; in 1984, it takes less than 24 hours. (They hadn't seen nothin' yet: In 2003, it would take them 15 minutes.)
On this same day, there is big football news. Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears breaks Jim Brown's career rushing record of 12,312 yards. The Bears beat the New Orleans Saints 20-7 at Soldier Field. Payton would eventually be surpassed by Emmitt Smith, who still holds the record.
October 7, 1985, 30 years ago: Evan Michael Longoria is born in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, California. Not to be confused with actress Eva Longoria, and you shouldn't tell the 3rd baseman that he throws like a girl.
He was AL Rookie of the Year in 2008, helping the Tampa Bay Rays win their 1st Pennant. He's a 3-time All-Star, a 2-time Gold Glove winner, and a 4-time postseason participant (2008, '10, '11 & '13). He is the Rays' all-time leader in home runs (203) and RBIs (703).
October 7, 1988: Diego da Silva Costa is born in Lagarto, Sergipe, Brazil. The forward for West London club Chelsea might just be the dirtiest player in soccer today. He has just served a 3-match suspension for several disgusting acts, all within a couple of minutes, in Chelsea's match with Arsenal. He has been cited for violent conduct and diving many times. In other words, he fits in perfectly with Chelsea, a despicable club in many ways.
But he wins. With Spanish club Atlético Madrid, he won Spain's Copa del Rey in 2013, and its La Liga in 2014, also reaching the Final of the Champions League. Chelsea then bought him, and, last season, won both the League and the League Cup.
Still, both his face and his style of play are as ugly as sin. He's so ugly (How ugly is he?) that people have speculated that he might be considerably older than 27.
October 7, 1991: Leo Durocher dies at his home in Palm Springs, California. He was 86. As a player, the shortstop had won the World Series with the Yankees in 1928 and the Cardinals' "Gashouse Gang" in 1934. As a manager, he won Pennants with the Dodgers in 1941 and the Giants in 1951 and 1954, winning the 1954 World Series as well.
His shift from Flatbush to Washington Heights in 1948 made him the most hated opponent in Dodger history. If you know soccer, think how Barcelona fans feel about Luis Figo, or how Tottenham fans feel about Sol Campbell.
He later managed the Cubs during their 1969 "September Swoon," and his managing career came to an end with the 1973 Astros. He was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994.
He was played by Christopher Meloni in 42, the 2013 film about Jackie Robinson. Despite the film being sanitized as far as profanity (but not racial slurs) was concerned, it showed Leo's personal life to be a mess. How he and Branch Rickey, baseball's premier moralist, general manager of the 1930s Cardinals and president of the 1940s Dodgers, ever got along, I'll never know.
He believed "Nice guys finish last," and used that as the title for his 1975 memoir. There are many examples of this belief being wrong, including Robinson.
October 7, 1992: The Tampa Bay Lightning play their 1st game, at home at the Expo Hall of the Florida State Fairgrounds. Chris Kontos scored not only the club's 1st goal, but a hat trick, as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3.
The Bolts, who beat the Miami-based Florida Panthers to the ice by a year, became popular enough that they easily outgrew the 10,425-seat Expo Hall, and played the 1993-94 season at the ThunderDome, now Tropicana Field. In its hockey setup, they set an NHL record (since totally blown away by Winter Classics and other outdoor games) of 27,227 fans.
They moved into what's now named the Amalie Arena in 1996, and, ironically considering how hot Florida gets and how hockey is played on ice, doing much better at the box office than MLB's Rays and the NFL's Buccaneers. And that was before they reached the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals (but after they won the Cup in 2004).
October 7, 1995, 20 years ago: Game 4 of the ALDS. The Yankees can win the series over the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome tonight. But Edgar Martinez has other ideas. He breaks an 8th-inning tie with a grand slam, and the Mariners go on to win 11-10, forcing a Game 5.
The Yankees had now blown a 2-games-to-none lead, and I was thinking, "Uh-oh... " I had little confidence that they would win Game 5. They led in it, late, but...
October 7, 1998: Game 2 of the ALDS. In the top of the 12th inning, Travis Fryman bunts for the Cleveland Indians. Yankee 1st baseman Tino Martinez fields it, and throws to 2nd baseman Chuck Knoblauch covering 1st. Except the ball hits Fryman in the back, and he reaches base safetly. That would have been bad enough.
Except Knoblauch argues that Fryman ran out of the baseline -- which he had. But the ball is still loose and in play, and Enrique Wilson (later a Yankee), even though he stumbles approaching the plate, scores the go-ahead run. The Indians score 2 more runs in the inning, and win 4-1.
I had gotten up to get a drink, and missed what became known as "the Blauch-head Play." Had I seen it as it happened, I would have gone straight to Newark Airport, where the Yankees would have been heading to fly to Cleveland for the next 3 games, and beaten Knoblauch to a pulp with my bare hands.
Right, I think somebody would have stopped me. But I sure wanted to! He had put the Yankees' magnificent season in jeopardy.
October 7, 2000: Game 3 of the NLDS. Benny Agbayani’s 13th inning home run ends the longest LDS game ever played, 5 hours and 22 minutes. The dramatic round-tripper by the Mets outfielder, who (like a previous Met, Sid Fernandez) wears Number 50 because he's from Hawaii, the 50th State, gives the Mets a 3-2 victory, and a 2-games-to-1 series advantage over the San Francisco Giants.
On the same day, the Columbus Blue Jackets bring the NHL back to Ohio after 22 years, and give the State capital its 1st-ever major league team, unless you count MLS' Crew, or the Columbus Bullies who won the only titles of the 1940-41 American Football League.
Like the Tampa Bay Lightning, their 1st game is at home against Chicago. Unlike the Bolts, they lose, as the Blackhawks win, 5-3 at Nationwide Arena, still their home. Their 1st goal is scored by Bruce Gardiner.
October 7, 2001: On the last day of the regular season -- delayed a week, due to the 9/11 attacks -- Rickey Henderson, now with the Padres, bloops a double down the right-field line off John Thomson of the Colorado Rockies. It is the 3,000th hit of his career.
Tony Gwynn, who is playing in his last game, meets him at home plate, 2 members of the 3,000 Hit Club together. Gwynn retires with a .338 lifetime batting average, the highest of any player who debuted after the 1939 season. It is also the highest of any black man, whether American or Hispanic.
Also on this day, Barry Bonds extends his major league record for home runs in season to 73*, as he drives a 3-2 1st-inning knuckleball off Dodger Dennis Spriner over the right field fence. The blast also secures two more major league records * for the Giants’ left fielder, as he surpasses Babe Ruth (1920, .847) with a .863* season slugging percentage, and bests Mark McGwire (1998, one homer every 7.27 AB * ) by homering in every 6.52 at-bats *.
October 7, 2003: The Marlins defeat the Cubs‚ 9-8‚ on Mike Lowell's pinch-hit homer in the 11th inning. The Cubs had tied the game at 8-8 on Sammy Sosa's 2-out‚ 2-run homer in the bottom half of the 9th to send the game into extra innings. The two teams combine to hit 7 HRs to set an NLCS record.
October 7, 2004: The Atlanta Braves even their NLDS against the Houston Astros with a 4-2 win in 11 innings. Rafael Furcal wins it with a walkoff home run.
October 7, 2006: The Mets defeat Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, 9-5, to complete a 3-game sweep in the NLDS. For their fans, the Mets finally get revenge on the evil O'Malleys, even though that family hasn't owned the L.A. Bums since 1997.
The Mets haven’t won a postseason series since. Since beating the A’s in the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers have not won a Pennant.
On the same day, the Tigers beat the Yankees 8-3, to win their Division series, 3 games to 1. Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe homer for the Tigers. Just 3 years after setting an AL record with 119 losses in a season, the Tigers will be playing for the Pennant.
The Yankees had played so well all year long, but in this series, they couldn't hit sand if they fell off a freakin' camel. Hideki Matsui batted only .250, Johnny Damon .235, Robinson Cano .133, Jason Giambi .125, Gary Sheffield .083 (1-for-12), and Alex Rodriguez .071 (1-for-14). A-Rod had been hitting so poorly that manager Joe Torre bats him 8th today. With a few exceptions, every Yankee Fan I know thinks it was totally deserved. Notably, this is the last game Sheffield ever played for the Yankees.
October 7, 2010: With only 17 instances of a manager being tossed in the history of MLB postseason play, 2 such occurrences happen on the same day, when the Rays' Joe Maddon and the Twins' Ron Gardenhire are ejected from different ALDS games.
The Tampa Bay skipper gets the heave-ho in the 5th frame in a game against Texas, for arguing a check-swing with home plate umpire Jim Wolf. The Rangers beat the Rays 6-0. The Minnesota pilot suffers the same fate with Hunter Wendelstedt, for arguing balls and strikes in the 7th inning in the contest against the Yankees, who win 5-2.
October 7, 2013: Game 3 of the ALDS. The Red Sox, as they have been known to do, blew a lead, 3-0 in the 5th. But the Rays also blew a lead, 4-3 in the top of the 9th. The Rays have the last laugh, though: Jose Lobaton takes Koji Uehara over the center field wall in the bottom of the 9th, and the Rays win 5-4.
That is, the Rays have the last laugh for this day. They will not, however, have the last laugh for this series.
October 7, 2014: Cigar, the thoroughbred named Racehorse of the Decade for the 1990s, dies from complications from his osteoarthritis treatments at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. He was 14.
A grandson of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, he was a late bloomer, not racing at all at age 2 and not entering any of the Triple Crown races at 3. But in 1995 and 1996, at 5 and 6, he won 16 consecutive races, something not done since Citation, the 1948 Triple Crown winner, did it from 1948 to 1950. His wins included the 1995 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Pimlico Special, Woodward Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic; and the Woodward again in 1996.
He very nearly became the 1st racehorse ever to earn $10 million, a 3rd-place finish in his final race in 1996 topping him out at $9,999,815. That stood as a record until Curlin, the 2007 Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic winner, broke the $10 million barrier in 2008.