Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pedro Martinez Is a Psychopath; David Ortiz, a Sociopath

There are two kinds of folks who sit around, thinking about how to kill people: Psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better. Who am I? I'm Rick Castle.
-- Nathan Fillion, in the opening narration to the 2nd and 3rd seasons of the ABC drama Castle

Once, just for my own edification, I opened a dictionary, and looked up the definitions of "psychopath" and "sociopath."

Without getting technical, here's the difference that dictionary gave me:

* A psychopath is someone wants what he wants, and goes after it without thinking about it. He cannot help himself. It does not occur to him that society considers his actions unfair, insane, or evil. He has lost his conscience. He is within society, but lives apart from it. He is asocial and amoral.

* A sociopath is someone wants what he wants, but does put thought into going after it. If he considers that the odds are against him, he can stop, or he can find ways of evening the odds. It does
occur to him that society considers his actions unfair, insane, or evil. But he does not care. He has chosen to throw away his conscience. He despises the society that stands in his way, but can still work within it, often seeming to be normal, even charming. sometimes even doing the right thing, if he thinks it will benefit him. This is a facade, because he wants pleasures, and has no qualms about inflicting pain to achieve them, may even enjoy it. He is anti-social and immoral.

Having observed the Boston Red Sox since their 1998 revival that coincided with the arrival of Pedro Martinez, including their glory days that began in 2003 with the arrival of David Ortiz, I -- trained as an observer of baseball, but not a licensed practitioner of psychology or psychiatry -- have made the following diagnoses:

* Pedro Martinez is a psychopath. He doesn't get that he is wrong. He's probably been told, but he still went on acting like he always has.

* David Ortiz is a sociopath. He knows that what he did was wrong, but he not only still does it, he still denies that he's ever done it.

We ended Pedro's career, in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. Big Papi plays his final game against us tonight.

Best way to pay tribute to him? When he is introduced, everyone should stand up, and turn their backs on him, and remain silent.

He deserves worse. But it would be a unique response in sports history, one that would never be forgotten.


September 29, 1829: The Metropolitan Police Service is founded in London. They are often known as simply The Met. Since they were established by a bill written by Sir Robert Peel, then Home Secretary, and later Prime Minister (1834-35 and 1841-46), his nickname "Bobby" becomes theirs. Eventually, all British policemen get nicknamed "Bobbies."

They also get nicknamed "The Old Bill," for a policeman who figured in a cartoon regularly printed in a late Victorian Era magazine. This is the nickname, sometimes shortened to just "The Bill," preferred by English soccer hooligans, who tend to verbally abuse them -- from a distance, of course. The antipathy is very much mutual.

However, "Scotland Yard" refers to not the policemen, or even the department, but their London headquarters. It would be like calling the New York Police Department "One Police Plaza" or "1PP."

September 29, 1894: The National League season ends, and the Baltimore Orioles have won their 1st Pennant, finishing 3 games ahead of the New York Giants, and 8 games over the 3-time defending Champions, the Boston Beaneaters (forerunners of the Atlanta Braves).

But Boston center fielder Hugh Duffy has one of the best seasons in baseball history, batting .440 (122 years later, still a single-season major league record), hitting 18 home runs, and 145 RBIs, leading the NL in all 3 categories, thus giving him the Triple Crown.

September 29, 1901: Verne Clark Lewellen is born in Lincoln, Nebraska. The 2-way back won 3 straight NFL Championships for the Green Bay Packers, in 1929, 1930 and 1931.

Green Bay is in Brown County, Wisconsin. He and teammate LaVern Dilweg were both practicing attorneys. In 1928, they ran against each other for Brown County District Attorney, and Lewellen won. He was re-elected in 1930, but defeated in 1932. Dilweg would later be elected to Congress in 1942, but was defeated in 1944. After their defeats, neither ever ran for public office again.

Dilweg died in 1968, Lewellen in 1980. Both are in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, but neither is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Both should be, but the Hall voters have given short shrift to the League's pioneer players.

September 29, 1907: Orvon Grover Autry is born in Tioga, Texas, and grows up in Ravia, Oklahoma. He got his 1st job working at a telegraph at a radio station, and the station manager heard him singing, and gave him a show. Encouraged by no less an Oklahoma entertainer than Will Rogers, by 1929 he was "Gene Autry," and a national radio and records star. His film career as "The Singing Cowboy" began in 1934, and in 1950 he became one of the earliest television stars.

By that point, he had become owner of the Golden West Network, including radio stations KSFO in San Francisco, KMPC in Los Angeles, and KOGO in San Diego. It also included Los Angeles' Channel 5, KTLA. He had also became a part-owner of the Pacific Coast League's Hollywood Stars, who were forced out of town by the move of the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1957-58. But the arrival of the New York Giants in San Francisco at the same time led him to buy the broadcast rights to their games, and they were on KSFO through the 1978 season. (They have been on KNBR since then.)

In 1960, the American League established an expansion team in L.A. Gene, going back to his roots, wanted to buy the radio broadcast rights. But MLB officials were so impressed with his approach, they offered to sell him the team. He owned it for the rest of his life, even though this created a conflict of interest in owning the station that broadcast the Giants' games.

The team was named after the former PCL team that had been the Stars' rivals, the Los Angeles Angels. They played at the L.A. version of Wrigley Field in 1961, then began sharing the new Dodger Stadium in 1962. Tired of Walter O'Malley treating him like crap (It wasn't personal: O'Malley treated everyone like crap), Gene made a deal with the suburban City of Anaheim, and built Anaheim Stadium for the 1966. He renamed the team the California Angels.

He wasn't afraid to spend money, if he thought it would bring results. When free agency arrived after the 1976 season, and the team had not yet made the Playoffs in 16 seasons, he opened the vault and signed Joe Rudi and Bobby Grich. He later signed future Hall-of-Famers Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Don Sutton and Bert Blyleven.

But while they won AL Western Division titles in 1979, 1982 and 1986, they couldn't win a Pennant. Indeed, their losses -- not just on the field, but 6 active Angels died of various causes between 1965 and 1989 -- led to talk of "The Curse of the Cowboy," though it's hard to imagine what Gene could have done to bring it on.

In 1995, battling lymphoma, he sold a quarter share of the team to Anaheim's biggest employer, the Walt Disney Company, with a provision that the rest would go to them after his death. That came on October 2, 1998, just after his 91st birthday -- and on his wife Jackie's 57th birthday.

In 2002, by then known as the Anaheim Angels, in their 42nd season, they broke the curses: They won their 1st postseason series, their 1st Pennant, and their 1st World Series. They became known as the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim in 2005, after Disney sold the team to Arte Moreno.

The Angels have retired Number 26 for him, as the "26th Man" with a 25-man roster, and dedicated a statue of him outside what's now named Angel Stadium of Anaheim. He is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he should be. His widow, Jackie Autry, served as President of the American League from 2000 to 2015.

September 29, 1913: Silvio Piola is born in Robbio, Lombardy, Italy. A striker, he starred for Italian soccer teams Pro Vercelli and Novara of Piedmont, Lazio of Rome, and both major Turin clubs, Torino and Juventus,

He was not selected for the Italy team that won the World Cup on home soil in 1934, but he was for 1938 in France, and scored 2 goals in the Final against Hungary to help the Azzurri repeat. To this day, only Giuseppe Meazza and Gigi Riva have scored more goals for the Italian national team. He died in 1996, at the age of 83. Stadiums in the cities of Novara and Vercelli are named after him.

September 29, 1915: Frederick Page -- no middle name -- is born in Port Arthur, now part of Thunder Bay, Ontario. As president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, the tours he led stoked the love of the sport in Europe. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993, and died in 1997.


September 29, 1932: Game 2 of the World Series. The Chicago Cubs take a 1-0 in the 1st inning, but the Yankees score 2 in the bottom half, and Lefty Gomez handles the Cubs the rest of the way. The Yankees win, 5-2, and take a 2 games to 0 lead as the Series heads out to Chicago.

September 29, 1937: Ray Ewry dies on Long Island at age 63. He was America's 1st great Olympic medalwinner, albeit in standing jumps, events that are no longer contested. He won 8 Gold Medals: The standing long, high and triple jumps at Paris in 1900; all 3 again at St. Louis in 1904; and the long and high jumps at London in 1908.

September 29, 1942: David Wilcox (no middle name) is born in Ontario, Oregon, and grows up in nearby Vale. A linebacker, Dave Wilcox was a 7-time Pro Bowler for the San Francisco 49ers, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He is still alive. He, his brother Johnny, and his sons Justin and Josh all played at the University of Oregon.

UPDATE: On January 14, 2017, Justin Wilcox was named head coach at the University of California.

September 29, 1943: Wolfgang Overath is born in Siegburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. A midfielder for FC Köln, he helped them win the 1st Bundesliga title in 1964, and the DFB-Pokal (Germany's version of the FA Cup) in 1968 and 1977.

He competed for Germany in 3 World Cups, losing to England in the 1966 Final, finishing 3rd in 1970, and winning it on home soil in 1974. He is still alive.

September 29, 1946, 70 years ago: The Rams, who played in Cleveland from 1936 to 1945, play their 1st home game in Los Angeles, making them the city's 1st real major league sports team. (Previous pro football teams had "Los Angeles" as their name, but their leagues could hardly be called "major.") The defending NFL Champions lose to the Philadelphia Eagles, 25-14.

This game is even more significant than L.A.'s debut on the major league stage, because it is the NFL debut for halfback Kenny Washington and end Woody Strode, both of whom had played for UCLA at the Rams' new home, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They became the 1st black players in the NFL in 13 years, ending the color bar.

Marion Motley and Bill Willis of the Cleveland Browns were doing the same in the All-America Football Conference that Autumn, so pro football had "four Jackie Robinsons," a few months before baseball had one. (Robinson had also played football at UCLA, and ran in the same backfield as Washington in 1939 and '40.)


September 29, 1954: Willie Mays makes the most famous defensive play in the history of sports, remembered as simply The Catch -- Capital T, Capital C.

It was Game 1 of the World Series. The New York Giants had won the National League Pennant, beating out their crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cleveland Indians had won the American League Pennant, winning League record 111 games to beat out the Yankees, who had won the last 5 World Series. Indeed, the last 8 AL Pennants had been won by the Indians (1948 & '54) and the Yankees (1947, '49, '50, '51, '52 & '53).

Game 1 was played at the Polo Grounds in New York. The game was tied 2-2 in the top of the 8th, but the Indians got Larry Doby on 2nd base and Al Rosen on 1st with nobody out.

Giant manager Leo Durocher pulled starting pitcher Sal Maglie, and brought in Don Liddle, a lefthander, to face the lefty slugger Vic Wertz, and only Wertz. Somehow, this got into Joe Torre's head (despite being a native of Brooklyn, Torre says he grew up as a Giants fan) and into Joe Girardi's binder (Girardi wasn't even born for another 10 years).

Liddle pitched, and Wertz swung, and drove the ball out to center field. The Polo Grounds was shaped more like a football stadium, so its foul poles were incredibly close: 279 feet to left field and 257 to right. In addition, the upper deck overhung the field a little, so the distances were actually even closer. But if you didn't pull the ball, it was going to stay in play. Most of the center field fence was 425 feet from home plate. A recess in center field, leading to a blockhouse that served as both teams' clubhouses -- why they were in center field, instead of under the stands, connected to the dugouts, is a mystery a long-dead architect will have to answer -- was 483 feet away.

Mays, at this point in his career, was already a big star. Just 23 years old, he had won that season's NL batting title. He had been NL Rookie of the Year in 1951, but had missed most of the 1952 season and all of 1953 serving in the U.S. Army, having been drafted into service in the Korean War. He had become known for playing stickball in the streets of Harlem with local boys in the morning, and then going off to the Polo Grounds to play real baseball in the afternoon. This raised his profile, and made him an accessible figure to City kids. His cap flying off as he ran around the bases, his defensive wizardry, and his yelling of, "Say hey!" endeared him to Giant fans.

While he made the "basket catch" nationally popular, he didn't invent it. In fact, he wasn't even the 1st Giant to use it, as 3rd baseman Bill Rigney, who would succeed Durocher as manager in 1956, was using it in the 1940s.

Even so, the days when the Giants were the team in New York sports were long gone, this week's events notwithstanding. At this moment, Mays was, in the public consciousness, where Babe Ruth was in May 1920, where Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were in May 1941, where Mickey Mantle was in May 1956, where Reggie Jackson was in September 1977, where Roger Clemens was in April 1986, where Derek Jeter was in September 1996, where David Ortiz was in September 2004: A star, well-known and popular, but not yet a legend.

Mays ran back to try to catch the ball. In mid-stride, he thumped his fist into his mitt. His teammates, who had seen this gesture before, knew that this meant that he thought he would catch it. But most fans, who didn't watch him every day, didn't know this. Watching on television (NBC, Channel 4 in New York), they figured the ball would go over his head, scoring Doby and Rosen, and that Wertz, not exactly fleet of foot, had a chance at a triple, or even an inside-the-park home run.

Willie has said many times that he was already thinking of the throw back to the infield, hoping to hold Doby to only 3rd base.

With his back to the ball all the way, he caught the ball over his head, stopped, pivoted, and threw the ball back to the infield. Doby did get only to 3rd.

The announcers were Jack Brickhouse, who normally did the home games for both of Chicago's teams, the Cubs and the White Sox, but was the lead announcer for NBC in this Series; and Russ Hodges, the usual Giants announcer, made nationally famous 3 years earlier when Bobby Thomson's home run made him yell, "The Giants win the Pennant!" over and over again.

Brickhouse: "There's a long drive, way back in center field, way back, back, it is... Oh, what a catch by Mays! The runner on second, Doby, is able to tag and go to third. Willie Mays just brought this crowd to its feet with a catch which must have been an optical illusion to a lot of people. Boy! See where that 483-foot mark is in center field? The ball itself... Russ, you know this ballpark better than anyone else I know. Had to go about 460, didn't it?"

Hodges: "It certainly did, and I don't know how Willie did it, but he's been doing it all year."

It has been argued by many, including Bob Feller, the pitching legend sitting on the Indians' bench that day, that the reason so much is made of this catch is that it was in New York, it was in the World Series, and it was on television. "It was far from the best catch I've ever seen," Feller said. Mays himself would say he'd made better catches. But none more consequential.

Durocher yanked Liddle, and brought in Marv Grissom. Upon reaching the Giant dugout, Liddle told his teammates, "Well, I got my man."

Yeah, Don. You got him. As Jim Bouton, then a 15-year-old Giant fan who'd recently moved from Rochelle Park, Bergen County, New Jersey to the Chicago suburb of Chicago Heights, Illinois, would later say, "Yeah, surrrre!"

Grissom walked Dale Mitchell to load the bases with only 1 out. But he struck out Dave Pope, and got Jim Hegan to fly out, to end the threat.

When the Giants got back to the dugout, they told Willie what a hard catch it was. He said, "You kiddin'? I had that one all the way."

The game went to extra innings. Future Hall-of-Famer Bob Lemon went the distance for the Tribe, but in the bottom of the 10th, he walked Mays, who stole 2nd. Then he intentionally walked Hank Thompson to set up an inning-ending double play. It didn't happen: Durocher sent Dusty Rhodes up to pinch-hit for left fielder Monte Irvin, and Rhodes hit the ball down the right-field line. It just sort of squeaked into the stands.

On the film, it looks a little like a fan reached out, and it bounced off his hand. A proto-Jeffrey Maier? To this day, no one has seriously argued that the call should be overturned.

The game was over: Giants 5, Indians 2. The Indians, heavily favored to win the Series, never recovered, and the Giants swept. The Series ended on October 2, tied with 1932 for the 2nd-earliest end to a World Series. (In 1918, the season was shortened due to World War I, and ended on September 11.)

Mays is the only Giant player still alive from this game, 60 years later. Still alive from the Indians: Rosen and his usual backup, a pinch-runner in this game, Rudy Regalado.

Victor Woodrow Wertz, a native of Reading, Pennsylvania, was a right fielder and 1st baseman. He made his name with the Detroit Tigers, hit 266 home runs in his career, had 5 100-plus RBI seasons, and made 4 All-Star Teams. He went 4-for-5 with 2 RBIs in this game. He should be remembered as more than a man who hit a 460-foot (or so) drive that was caught, while another guy in the same game hit a 260-foot drive that won the game as a home run. He died in 1983, aged only 58.

Willie Howard Mays Jr., a native of Fairfield, Alabama, outside Birmingham, became one of baseball's greatest legends. He hit 660 home runs, collected 3,283 hits, made 24 All-Star Games (there were 2 every season from 1959 to 1962), won a Gold Glove the 1st 12 seasons it was given out (1957 to 1968), won the 1954 and 1965 NL Most Valuable Player awards, and played on 4 Pennant winners -- but 1954 would be his only title.

The Giants, with whom he moved to San Francisco in 1958, retired his Number 24, dedicated a statue to him outside AT&T Park, and made its official address 24 Willie Mays Plaza. He played with the Giants until 1972, when he was traded to the Mets, going back to New York at age 41. He retired in 1973, and the Mets have rarely given out Number 24 since.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility, 1979. In 1999, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, and The Sporting News put him at Number 2 on its list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players -- 2nd only to the long-dead Babe Ruth, so Willie was tops among living players. No player has since come along to suggest otherwise -- not later Giant Barry Bonds, not Derek Jeter. Willie is 85 years old.


September 29, 1955: Game 2 of the World Series. Tommy Byrne goes the distance and singles in a run, as the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-2. The Yankees have a 2-games-to-0 lead as the Series goes to Brooklyn. Dem Bums is in deep trouble.

September 29, 1956, 60 years ago: Carol Ann Blazejowski is born in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, and grows up in neighboring Cranford. "The Blaze" is on the short list for the title of greatest female basketball player ever. In 1978, playing for Montclair State College, she set a Madison Square Garden (old or new) record for points in a college game, by a person of either gender, with 52 against Queens College. That season, she was awarded the 1st Wade Trophy for women's player of the year.

(The pro record for points at the old Garden was 73 by Wilt Chamberlain, breaking the famous record of 71 by Elgin Baylor; at the new one, 61 by Kobe Bryant; by any Knick, 60 by Bernard King. Remember: For Wilt, Elgin and Blaze, there was no 3-point field goal.)

She was too young to play on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, and the boycott kept her out of the 1980 Olympics. When the Women's Pro Basketball League was formed in 1980, she was signed by the New Jersey Gems, and was, at $50,000, the league's highest-paid player. It lasted just the 1 season, and she never played again.

She then worked in the NBA's front office, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994, and when the NBA created the WNBA in 1997, she was named general manager of the New York Liberty. She now works for her alma mater, since renamed Montclair State University.

September 29, 1957: The Giants play their last game at the Polo Grounds, their owner Horace Stoneham having already announced that they're moving to San Francisco. Unlike the Brooklyn Dodgers, who played their last home game at Ebbets Field 5 days earlier, they have a farewell ceremony, including Blanche McGraw, widow of longtime manager John, who said that the move would have broken his heart.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, unable to even score off the Dodgers on Tuesday night, beat the Giants on Sunday afternoon, 9-1. The crowd is a pathetically small 11,606, and storms the field after the game. At one point, they gather at the center field blockhouse that included both teams' locker room, chanting for Mays, "We want Willie!" And, to the tune of "Good Night, Ladies," they sing, "We want Stoneham! We want Stoneham! We want Stoneham, with a rope around his neck!"

Stoneham had already said that the fans had no one to blame but themselves, as they hadn't shown up in sufficient numbers, borne out by the small crowd at the finale: "I feel bad for the kids, but I haven't seen too many of their fathers lately."

As for the Dodgers: Their last game as a Brooklyn team is a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Ed Bouchee homers for the Phils, and Seth Morehead outpitches Roger Craig. The last pitch by a Brooklyn Dodger is thrown by an erratic (so far) reliever from Brooklyn, Sandy Koufax. The last Brooklyn play is left fielder Bob Kennedy flying to center fielder Richie Ashburn. It is also, though no one foresees the Winter's tragedy, the last game for Roy Campanella, and his last at-bat is also a fly to Ashburn. With both teams well out of the race, only 9,886 attend the Brooklyn Dodgers' semi-official funeral.

That is not the case at the 1st game at the new City Stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as the Packers move out of the old one, which was too small, and 32,132 see them beat their arch-rivals, the Chicago Bears, 21-17.

The stadium will be renamed Lambeau Field after team founder Earl "Curly" Lambeau dies in 1965. By that point, capacity will be 50,861. It will be 55,000 by 1970, 58,000 by 1990, 60,000 by 1995, 70,000 by 2005, and is now 81,411.

Also on this day, Mark L. Attanasio is born in The Bronx, and grows up just across the Hudson River, in Tenafly, Bergen County, New Jersey. (I can find no record of what the L stands for.) Since 2005, he has been the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. They have now made the Playoffs as many times in 12 seasons as they did under their previous owners, the Selig family, in 35 seasons: 2.

September 29, 1959: Game 2 of the National League Playoff, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Like in 1946, but not 1951, the Dodgers make sure the Playoff series doesn't go to a Game 3. They score 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to send the game to extra innings. With 2 outs in the 12th, Gil Hodges draws a walk, Joe Pignatano singles, and Carl Furillo singles home Hodges with the Pennant-winning run, 6-5.

The Dodgers had won the 1st Pennant by any team west of St. Louis. The City of Milwaukee has had just 1 Pennant winner in the 56 years since, the 1982 Brewers; and the Braves wouldn't win another Pennant for 32 years, and by that point they were in their 26th season in Atlanta.

September 29, 1963: The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 at Sportsman's Park, in the regular season finale. Dal Maxvill doubles home the winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning.

It is the last game for retiring Cardinal legend Stan Musial, and his Number 6 is retired. In the bottom of the 6th, the 42-year-old Stan the Man singles Curt Flood home. It is the 3,630th hit of his career, a National League record. In one of the neatest coincidences in sports history, he got exactly 1,815 hits in home games, and 1,815 hits in away games.

The single goes between 1st and 2nd base, past the Reds' diving 2nd baseman, soon to be named NL Rookie of the Year, and just 5 months old when Stan made his major league debut on September 17, 1941, 22 years and 12 days earlier. His name is Pete Rose. In 1981, Pete will surpass Stan as the NL's all-time hit leader. In 1985, he will surpass Ty Cobb as the major leagues' all-time hit leader. In 1989... um, let's move on.

Also on this day, David John Andreychuk is born in Hamilton, Ontario. A left wing, he starred for the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs, before 3 disappointing seasons (1996-99) with the Devils. In 2004, at age 40, he finally reached his 1st Stanley Cup Finals, and captained the Tampa Bay Lightning to their 1st Cup win.

He retired with 640 goals, including 274 on power plays, a record that not even Wayne Gretky can match. He now works in the Lightning's front office, and is a member of the Sabres' team hall of fame, but not yet the Hockey Hall of Fame. What are they waiting for?

UPDATE: Apparently, they were waiting for 2017, as he has now been elected.

September 29, 1964: The Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 at Sportsman's Park. It is the 9th of the 10 straight games the Phils will lose in their epic late-season collapse.

It is also the last game for Philadelphia-area native Bobby Shantz, the former Philadelphia Athletics pitcher who won the 1952 American League Most Valuable Player, and helped the Yankees win the 1958 World Series. He gets 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, but has to be relieved. "The Little Lefty" (5-foot-6, 140 pounds) had just turned 39, does not pitch in the last 3 games of the season, and finishes 119-99 for his career.


September 29, 1975: Casey Stengel dies of cancer in his adopted hometown of Glendale, California, in the Los Angeles suburbs. "The Ol' Perfesser" was 85.

He first wore a major league uniform in 1912, and last in 1965. In between, in those 54 seasons, as a player and a manager, he had been a part of 14 Pennant winners and 9 World Championships. He had last appeared in a major league ballpark on June 28, for the Mets' Old-Timers Day.

Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Well, God is certainly getting an earful tonight."

September 29, 1976, 40 years ago: Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko is born in Dvirkivschyna, Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union. The striker led Dynamo Kyiv to the Ukrainian Premier League title in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999; and to the Ukrainian Cup in 1996, 1998 and 1999 (all 3 of them League and Cup "Doubles").

He moved on to AC Milan, winning the Coppa Italia and the Champions League in 2003, and Serie A (Italy's national league) in 2004, also winning the Ballon d'Or as world player of the year. At West London club Chelsea, he won the FA Cup and the League Cup in 2007, known as the "Cup Double."

This past June, he was appointed manager of the Ukraine national team, and is regarded as the country's greatest player ever. He is married to Polish-American model Kristen Pazik. They met at a party held by the Giorgio Armani company, and speak Italian to each other. They have 4 sons.

September 29, 1977: Billy Joel releases his album The Stranger, including the title track, "Just the Way You Are," "Only the Good Die Young," "She's Always a Woman," and perhaps his best (if not his most-played) song, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," a.k.a. "The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie." Or "Brender 'n' Eddie." It is one of the greatest albums in history.

This album wouldn't seem to have anything to do with sports, but the cover does show a pair of boxing gloves hanging from a nail on the wall. Billy was an amateur boxer, but discovered that music did less damage to his face.

On the same day, at Madison Square Garden, a building Billy owns as much as Willis Reed or Mark Messier ever would, Muhammad Ali barely hangs onto the Heavyweight Championship of the World, needing to win the 15th and final round to win by a close decision.


September 29, 1981: Bill Shankly dies of a heart attack in Liverpool at age 68. As a player, the Scotsman was a good defender, helping Lancashire club Preston North End win the 1938 FA Cup. But, like contemporaries Matt Busby and Stan Cullis, also good players at the time, he truly made his mark as a manager.

He became manager of Liverpool Football Club in 1959, and got them promoted to the Football League Division One in 1962, and they have never left. He led them to League titles in 1964, 1966 and 1973; the 1965 and 1974 FA Cups; and the 1973 UEFA Cup. His last match before retiring was the 1974 Charity Shield, England's annual season-opening match between the previous season's winners of the League and the Cup. Liverpool beat Leeds United, but the match was marred by a fight between Liverpool's Kevin Keegan and Leeds' Billy Bremner.

Although his assistant-turned-successor Bob Paisley led Liverpool to more glories, "Shanks" is still the most beloved figure in the club's history. A statue of him now stands outside the stadium, Anfield, which also has an entrance known as the Shankly Gates.

September 29, 1983: The San Francisco Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds, 11-7 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Johnny Bench comes off, well, the bench, pinch-hits for pitcher Ted Power, and singles to left off Mark Calvert, driving in 2 runs. Gary Redus is sent in to pinch-run for him, and that's the end of Bench's playing career.

September 29, 1984: Per Mertesacker (no middle name) is born in Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany. The 6-foot-6 centreback starred for hometown club Hannover 96, then won the 2009 DFB-Pokal at Werder Bremen, before moving to North London's Arsenal in 2011.

Arsenal fans -- fans of "The Gunners" are known as "Gooners" -- immediately embraced the man they called, in a nod to Roald Dahl's novel, the BFG. In the novel, it stands for "Big Friendly Giant"; to Gooners, it stands for "Big Fucking German." He has led the club to the 2014 and 2015 FA Cups, and is now the club's Captain. He also won the World Cup with Germany in 2014.

September 29, 1988: Kevin Wayne Durant is born in Washington, D.C. A 6-time All-Star, he's already played in an NBA Finals for the Oklahoma City Thunder (2012) and won an NBA MVP award (2014). He now plays for the Golden State Warriors.

September 29, 1989: August Anheuser Busch Jr. dies of pneumonia in his native St. Louis. "Gussie" was 90. The chairman of Anheuser-Busch brewing had owned the St. Louis Cardinals since 1953, overseeing 6 National League Pennants and 3 World Series wins, and building the 1966 version of Busch Stadium.

Although he let personal feelings get in the way sometimes, as with Curt Flood and Harry Caray in 1969, and Steve Carlton in 1971, his word was good. When Roger Maris told him after the 1967 World Series win that he wanted to retire, Gussie asked him to play 1 more season, in exchange for an Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship. Roger helped the Cards win another Pennant, and Gussie gave the Maris family a distributorship in Gainesville, Florida, which they held on to well after Roger's death.

Gussie is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but, for all his flaws, he was that rare team owner who was beloved by both is players and the local fans. The Cards' board of directors retired Number 85 for him on his 85th birthday (reasoning that the number would never be chosen by a player anyway).


September 29, 2000: The Xcel Energy Center opens in St. Paul, Minnesota, on the site of the old St. Paul Civic Center. It is home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild, and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx will use it as their home court while the Target Center undergoes Summer renovations in 2017, much as the New York Liberty had to play at the Prudential Center while Madison Square Garden did the same.

September 29, 2003: The new Soldier Field opens in Chicago, on the site of the old one. Only the south gate and the columns on each side remain from the original 1924 structure. The Chicago Bears lose to their arch-rivals, the Green Bay Packers, 38-23.

September 29, 2004: Although the announcement that the Montreal Expos were moving to Washington, D.C. to become the Washington Nationals next season was not a surprise, the timing of it was: On the morning of the Expos' last home game ever, during the season finale into a French-Canadian wake.

The Expos go down quietly, losing 9-1 to, of all teams, the Florida Marlins, the team that Expos owner Jeffrey Loria was allowed to buy, and giving the Expos back to Major League Baseball, having stripped the franchise of pretty much its entire front office, and even its broadcast team, including Hall-of-Famer Dave Van Horne.

To make matters worse still, the winning pitcher for the Marlins was an Ex-Expo, Carl Pavano. The last Expos play was Terrmel Sledge, batting against Rudy Seanez, popping up to 3rd baseman Mike Mordecai. A crowd of 31,395 came to say Au revoir.

Although the Olympic Stadium has since held preseason games, involving Canada's remaining MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays, and both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics have struggled in their bids to keep their fans and build new ballparks to replace inadequate stadiums, it is unlikely that a new team -- expansion or moved -- will be placed in Montreal until the City, or the Province of Quebec, is will to spend the money to build a new ballpark there. And that's not going to happen anytime soon.

September 29, 2007: Basketball star LeBron James hosts the Season 33 premiere of Saturday Night Live. Kanye West is the musical guest.

September 29, 2015: The Los Angeles Dodgers win their 3rd straight National League Western Division title, and away to their arch-rivals, no less. Clayton Kershaw pitches a 1-hit, 13-strikeout, 1-walk shutout, and the Giants beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-0 at AT&T Park. However, the Dodgers still have Don Mattingly as manager. The Curse of Donnie Baseball will strike again.

On this same day, across the Bay, the Oakland Athletics announce the hiring of Dr. Justine Siegal, to pitch batting practice for their off-season Instructional League team, in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Arizona. This makes her the 1st female coach to be hired by a Major League Baseball team. This is the closest any woman has ever gotten to a major league roster.

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