Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy Aaron Boone Day!

What were you doing, and where were you doing it, 12 years ago today, October 16, 2003?

It was the night of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens. In his first game at Yankee Stadium since he tried to kill Don Zimmer, Pedro gets the hell booed out of him – and that's a lot of hell. But the Sox take a 4-0 lead over the Yankees in the 4th, before Joe Torre lifts Clemens and brings in Mike Mussina. Making the first relief appearance of his career, Mussina stops the bleeding.

Jason Giambi hits 2 home runs to make it 4-2 in the 7th, but David Ortiz – not for the first time, and certainly not for the last (cough-steroids-cough) – hurts the Yankees by blasting a home run off David Wells. It's 5-2 Red Sox, and although I'm not much of a lip-reader, Wells appears to be yelling, "Fuuuuuuuuck!"

Pedro gets the first out in the bottom of the 8th, but then… Derek Jeter doubles. Then Bernie Williams singles, scoring Jeter to make it 5-3. Pedro is over the 100-pitch mark. From pitches 1 through 99, he throws like Sandy Koufax; from pitch 100 onward, he throws like Sandy Duncan. Red Sox manager Grady Little goes to the mound to remove Pedro…

No! He leaves him in! We've got him! We've got the headhunting son of a bitch!

Hideki Matsui hits a ground-rule double down the right-field line, moving Bernie to third. Well, now, for sure, Little has to pull Pedro. No, he stays in the dugout. He's sticking with Pedro come hell, high water, mystique or aura.

Jorge Posada hits a looper into short center, scoring the tying runs. I'm so glad it was Jorge, the man that Pedro the Punk threatened with a fastball to the head in Game 3.

Just 5 outs from the Pennant, and the greatest victory the Red Sox would have since, oh, 1918, they have choked yet again.

Mariano Rivera pitches the 9th, 10th and 11th for the Yankees. He pitches the top of the 11th pretty much on courage alone. The Yankees need to win it in the bottom of the 11th, because the bullpen situation doesn't look good.

Tim Wakefield, the knuckleballer who won Games 1 and 4 of this series, is on the mound. Leading off the inning is Aaron Boone, the Yankee 3rd baseman.

You know where I was at this moment? I was going from place to place watching the game, and I decided to get on the Subway and head up to The Stadium. Win or lose, I felt I had to be there. But the Subway was crawling, seeming to take forever. I forgot that it was after midnight. Frustrated, I
got off at the 50th Street station of the A train.

Next thing I know, I'm standing in front of 220 West 48th Street, the Longacre Theatre. Do you know who built (in 1912) and owned this theater? Harry Frazee. The very man who broke up the Red Sox and sold off so many of their players to the Yankees, including Babe Ruth. What a place to be standing in as the Yankees and Red Sox battled for the Pennant.

In 1935, Clifford Odets' play Waiting for Lefty debuted at the Longacre. Sox fans were still waiting for Alan Embree, the lefty that Little refused to bring in for Pedro.

It was 12:16 AM, actually October 17, 2003, but since the game started on the 16th, it goes down in history as October 16.

I had my headphones on, and on WCBS 880, I heard Charley Steiner say this:

There's a fly ball, deep to left! It's on its way! There it goes! And the Yankees are going to the World Series! Aaron Boone has hit a home run! The Yankees go to the World Series for the 39th time in their remarkable history! Aaron Boone down the left field line, they are waiting for him at home plate, and now he dives into the scrum! The Yankees win it, 6-5!

Together, Steiner and John Sterling yell Sterling's tagline: "Ballgame over! American League Championship Series over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!" Steiner: "I've always wanted to say that!"

The Longacre is at the northern end of Times Square. It sounded like a million car horns went off at once. People poured out of the restaurants and bars in the Square. People were slapping each other on the back, giving high five after high five.

By the time I finally got home at around 2 in the morning, my hair was soaked with sweat, my eyes were aching from being up too late, my voice was shot from screaming, my hands throbbed from shaking and high-fiving, my legs and feet throbbed from all the walking.

I've never felt better in my life.

Boone joined Tommy Henrich (1949 World Series vs. Brooklyn Dodgers), Mickey Mantle (1964 WS vs. St. Louis Cardinals), Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS vs. Kansas City Royals), Jim Leyritz (1995 AL Division Series vs. Seattle Mariners), Bernie Williams (Game 1 of ALCS in both 1996 and 1999), Chad Curtis (1999 WS), Alfonso Soriano (2001 ALCS) and Jeter (2001 WS) as Yankees who have hit walkoff home runs in postseason play. (It's since been done by Mark Teixeira, 2009 ALDS; and Raul Ibanez, 2012 ALDS.)

And he joined Enos Slaughter (1946 Cardinals), Lou Boudreau (1948 Cleveland Indians), Bob Gibson (1967 Cardinals), Joe Morgan (1975 Cincinnati Reds), and, collectively, the 1978 Yankees (especially Bucky Dent) and the 1986 Mets as Red Sox postseason tormentors.

Jeter said, "We've got some ghosts in this Stadium.”

In 2009, it sure looked like they'd made the trip across the street. Now, I'm not so sure.

Clemens, Wells, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre walk out to the Babe Ruth Monument, and offer the Big Fella some champagne. Clemens slaps the plaque on the tablet, and says, "He's smiling! He's smiling! He's smiling, Mel!"

Grady Little was not smiling. He was fired as Sox manager within days.

The next day's Daily News headline read, "THE CURSE LIVES." For the Sox… once again, it was "Wait Till Next Year."

No, no. Really. They meant it this time.

Has it really been 12 years? Wow. Only 1 player is still with the Red Sox: Ortiz. With Jeter's retirement, no Yankees are left.

Boone got hurt in the off-season, leading the Yankees to trade for Alex Rodriguez. Injuries and a heart ailment ended his career after the 2009 regular season, after which he was an analyst on Fox' postseason broadcasts as the Yankees won their 1st Pennant since his walkoff. He now works for ESPN.

A descendant of early American hero Daniel Boone, he is the grandson of 1950s major leaguer Ray Boone, the son of 1970s Phillies catcher Bob Boone, the brother of 1990s-2000s big-leaguer Bret Boone, the husband of Playboy's Miss October 1998 Laura Cover), and the father of 2 children, neither of whom is anywhere near old enough to make the Boones MLB's 1st 4-generation family. The David Bells -- Gus, Buddy and David -- didn't beat them to being the 1st 3-generation, but 4-generation is still up in the air.

A lot can change in 12 years.  We now have a black President, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snooki, NCISCastle, and the Kardashians on TV. Bruce Jenner has become a woman, and Kevin Youkilis has become a Red Sock and a Yankee.

And we have seen the Red Sox win 3 World Series, breaking the Curse of the Bambino — and we have seen them exposed as dirty rotten cheaters, and continue to lie about it, meaning we can no longer chant, "NINE-teen-EIGHT-teen! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)."

But we can still write "1918*."


October 16, 1861: At the Atlantic Grounds on Bedford‚ Long Island (now part of Brooklyn)‚ a crowd of 8‚000 sees the host Atlantics score a record 26 runs in the 2nd inning to whip the Manhattan-based Mutuals‚ 52-27 in 6 innings. Because the 3rd game in the series will not be played‚ the Atlantics retain the "whip-pennant" for 1861.

Flying such a flag over your ground the season after winning a championship is the origin of the word "Pennant." It originated a few years earlier.

No, baseball (still all-amateur at this point -- at least, officially) did not stop for the American Civil War. On the contrary: Soldiers, North and South, got exposed to the game in the East, and took it home with them, helping to spread the game. It had already been first referred to as "the national pastime" as early as in 1856, but the Civil War made that term a lot more practical.

October 16, 1875, 140 years ago: Brigham Young University is founded in Provo, Utah. Coach LaVell Edwards would turn the Mormon school into a football powerhouse, dominating the Western Athletic Conference in the 1970s and '80s, with quarterbacks like Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer, and Brigham's descendant Steve Young. They moved into the Mountain West Conference in 1999, and have been an independent in 2011.

October 16, 1888: Eugene Gladstone O'Neill is born in Manhattan. As far as I know, the great playwright had nothing to do with sports, although many a sporting event has seen like a Long Day's Journey Into Night. And Yankee Legend Mariano Rivera, Arsenal Legend Dennis Bergkamp, basketball legend George Gervin, pretty much any hockey player, and singer Jerry Butler would be interested in his play titled The Iceman Cometh.


October 16, 1900: Leon Allen Goslin is born in Salem, New Jersey. A .316 lifetime hitter, “Goose” is the only native of South Jersey to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Mike Trout of Millville is off to a great start, but he's got a long way to go.)

He played in the World Series for the Washington Senators in 1933 and for the Detroit Tigers in 1934 and 1935, the last of these being his only World Championship. He and Tiger teammates Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer became known as the “G-Men” in those early days of the FBI. His bottom-of-the-9th single scored Mickey Cochrane to win Game 6 and the Series in ’35, for the Tigers’ 1st World Championship.

October 16, 1909: Rookie Charles “Babe” Adams comes through with a 6-hit shutout as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-0. It is his 3rd complete-game World Series victory, and gives the Pirates their 1st World Series win -- if not, technically, their 1st World Championship. (Since there was no World Series in 1901 and 1902, and the NL was widely considered the better League, the Bucs could claim "world championships" for those seasons, the way the New York Giants always did for 1904.)

The Pirates and Tigers combine for 34 errors‚ with Detroit contributing 19. Both of these figures remain World Series records. In the battle between the 2 best players in baseball, Pittsburgh's Honus Wanger excels much more than Detroit's Ty Cobb. Adams would be the only Pirate player still on the team when they won their next Pennant and Series, in 1925, 16 years later.  By the time the Tigers won another Pennant, in 1934, 25 years later, none would be left.

Adams was the only rookie in the 20th Century to win a Game 7 in the World Series. The next to do it was John Lackey of the Anaheim Angels in 2002. (Frank "Spec" Shea in 1947 and Mel Stottlemyre in 1964 would be rookies starting Game 7s for the Yankees, but Mel would lose, and while the Yankees did win in '47, Shea would not be the winning pitcher. Billy Martin was planning on using Ron Guidry had the 1977 Series gone to a Game 7.)

The last survivors of this World Series? For the Pirates, pitcher Albert "Lefty" Leifield, who lived until 1970; for the Tigers, left fielder Davy Jones, who lived until 1972 -- beating out, by just 2 days, shortstop Owen "Donie" Bush. Ironically, Bush would be the manager of the next Pirate title team. He was also the namesake of the ballpark in his hometown of Indianapolis, home of one of the great teams of Triple-A ball, the Indianapolis Indians, whom he would serve as manager for many years.


October 16, 1912: Game 8 of the World Series. Game 2 had been called due to darkness while tied – no lights at ballparks in those days – so this will decide it. The greatest pitcher the game had yet seen, Christy Mathewson, hero of the 1905 Series, squares off against Hugh Bedient in quest of his 1st win of this Series.

Matty takes a 1-0 lead into the 7th‚ but with 1 out‚ Boston manager Jake Stahl hits a pop-up to short left field. The ball drops among Art Fletcher‚ Josh Devore‚ and Fred Snodgrass. Heinie Wagner walks‚ and with 2 outs‚ pinch hitter Olaf Henriksen doubles home the tying run. Smoky Joe Wood relieves Bedient‚ and the 2 aces match zeroes until Red Murray doubles and Fred Merkle singles in the 10th to give New York a 2-1 lead. It looks like the Giants will win the Series.

But in the last of the 10th‚ pinch hitter Clyde Engle lifts a can of corn to center fielder Snodgrass‚ who, in his own words, says, “Well, I dropped the darn thing.” Engle reaches 2nd base on the error.
In the next at-bat, Snodgrass makes a great catch of a long drive by Harry Hooper.

If only Snodgrass had made an ordinary catch of Engle’s popup, and let Hooper’s drive drop for a hit, the final score would have been exactly the same, but the perception of how the teams got there would have been totally different, and Snodgrass wouldn’t have gone down in history as the man who made “The $30,000 Muff,” a figure equivalent to the difference between the totals of the winning and losing teams’ shares. (About $720,000 in today's money.)

To be fair, though, Snodgrass wasn’t a bad ballplayer at all, and dealt with it far better than teammate Merkle did with his “boner” that helped to cost the Giants the 1908 Pennant. As it is, Merkle has, for the moment, the RBI that will win the World Series, and stands to have been completely redeemed.

But Mathewson, for a decade the very definition of a control pitcher, walks Steve Yerkes, bringing up Tris Speaker. The all-time leader in victories by a National League pitcher, with 373, faces the all-time leader in doubles, with 792, a true classic confrontation.

"Matty" gets "Spoke" to pop a high foul along the first-base line. Catcher John Meyers -- a member of the Cahuilla Indian tribe and thus nicknamed "Chief" -- chases it‚ but it drops a few feet from Merkle‚ who could have taken it easily. Much more so than the 1908 “boner,” this is something for which to fairly criticize Merkle.

Reprieved‚ Speaker didn’t need a written invitation to put his .345 lifetime batting average to work. He singles in the tying run and sends Yerkes to 3rd. After Duffy Lewis is walked intentionally‚ 3rd baseman Larry Gardner hits a long sacrifice fly to a retreating Devore that scores Yerkes with the winning run.

Just as in the playoff necessitated by the Merkle’s Boner game in 1908, Mathewson, often hailed as the greatest pitcher of all time (especially back then), did not get the job done.

The Red Sox win the World Series in their 1st season in Fenway Park. By the time Fenway has hosted 7 seasons, the Sox will have won 4 World Championships there, plus the 1st-ever World Series from when they were playing at the Huntington Avenue Grounds. In their next 85 seasons at Fenway, the Sox will win a grand total of no World Series.

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Fred Snodgrass for the New York Giants Losing the 1912 World Series

5. The Coin Toss. The Series was only supposed to go 7 games. But when Game 2 was called due to darkness and went into the books as tie, and the Series was tied 3-3-1 after 7, Game 8 hadn't been planned for. So to decide home-field advantage, instead of saying, "We're already in Boston, let's just hold it here," a coin was flipped to decide it.

The Red Sox won the toss, and chose to stay put at Fenway. Had the Giants won, and chosen to go down to New York and play Game 8 in front of a friendly, deeply passionate New York crowd at the Polo Grounds, who knows what would have happened?

4. Tris Speaker. The Grey Eagle was now seriously challenging Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner for the title of best player in baseball. He batted .383 for the season -- an OPS+ of a whopping 188 -- and batted .300 for this Series. He was key in the deciding Game 8.

3. Fred Merkle and Chief Meyers. If either of them had caught Speaker's popup, the Giants might have held on to win. In fact, you can make a better case for Merkle being a "bonehead" on October 16, 1912 than you can for him being such on September 23, 1908. Ordinarily, both he and the Chief were very smart players, but they both blew it big-time on this one.

2. Christy Mathewson.  Even 102 years later, it seems like sacrilege to blame "The Christian Gentleman" for this loss, but, just as in the Merkle playoff 4 years earlier, if he had pitched like Christy Mathewson, the Giants would have won both games.

1. The Red Sox Were Better. True, the Giants won 103 games and were defending NL Champions, but the Sox won 105 -- a record for Boston baseball that has been matched (by the 1946 Sox), but never beaten. And the Sox did win 3 of the first 4 decisions in the Series. While the Giants won the Pennant again in 1913 and again in 1917, the Sox would win the World Series again in 1915, 1916 and 1918 -- the Giants wouldn't win another until 1921.

Snodgrass was a standup guy about it all for the last 62 years of his life, becoming a banker in Oxnard, California, and later being elected the city's Mayor. He died on April 5, 1974, at the age of 86.

The last survivors of this Series were: For the Red Sox, Wood, who lived on until 1985, at the age of 95; and, for the Giants, Hall of Fame lefthander Richard "Rube" Marquard, who lived on until 1980, at the age of  93.


October 16, 1913: Ralph Rose dies of typhoid fever in San Francisco. He won the Gold Medal in the shot put at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, in 1908 in London, and in 1912 in Stockholm. But in those days before antibiotics, he was doomed at age 28.

October 16, 1917: With the U.S. role in World War I well underway, the day after the Chicago White Sox beat the Giants in the World Series, they play an exhibition game for 600 soldiers at Garden City‚ Long Island. The Sox win‚ 6-4.

October 16, 1921: In defiance of a ban by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis on World Series participants playing postseason exhibitions‚ Yankees Babe Ruth‚ Bob Meusel and pitcher Bill Piercy launch a barnstorming tour in Buffalo. Five days later‚ they cut it short in Scranton. In the meantime, Ruth openly challenges Landis to act.

The Judge does act‚ fining the players their World Series shares -- $3‚362.26, or $44,694.58 in today's money -- and suspending them until May 20 of the 1922 season.

Also on this day, Matthew Daniel Batts is born in San Antonio. A catcher, Matt Batts was with the Red Sox when they had their 1948 and '49 end-of-season disappointments. He later ran a printing company and ran baseball clinics at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he died in 2013.


October 16, 1940, 75 years ago: David Albert DeBusschere is born in Detroit. He pitched for the Chicago White Sox in the 1962 and '63 seasons, but he was also a basketball star in his home town, first for the University of Detroit, then for the Pistons, where he became the youngest head coach in NBA history, at 24, from 1964 to 1967.

He is one of only 12 athletes to have played in both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, or its predecessor the Basketball Association of America. The others are, in reverse chronological order: Mark HendricksonDanny AingeGene ConleyRon ReedDick GroatSteve HamiltonCotton NashFrank BaumholtzDick RickettsHowie Schultz, and Chuck Connors.

For a long time, Madison Square Garden would host NBA doubleheaders, with the Knicks playing the nightcap but not the opener. When the new Garden opened on February 14, 1968, Dave DeBusschere, playing for the Pistons, scored the new building’s 1st basket.

The Knicks traded Walt Bellamy to the Pistons to get DeBusschere, already with a reputation as one of the league’s best defensive players. He led the defense that helped the Knicks win the NBA Championship in 1970 and 1973. He later served as head coach and general manager of the Knicks, and his Number 22 has been retired. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

My generation knows DeBusschere best as the Knick GM who won the 1st pick in the 1st-ever NBA Draft Lottery in 1985, selecting Patrick Ewing. Sadly, the great Double D suffered a heart attack and died in 2003, age 63.

Also on this day, Leonard Barrie Corbin is born in Lamesa, Texas. Better known as Barry Corbin, he’s best known for playing Maurice Minnifield, boss of Cicely, Alaska, on the 1990s CBS series Northern Exposure. He also played a basketball coach on the WB drama One Tree Hill, and, like his fellow Northern Exposure stars John Corbett and John Cullum, is also renowned for his commercial voiceover work.

October 16, 1941: James Timothy McCarver is born in Memphis -- but, like James Paul McCartney Jr., born 8 months later, this James is best known by his middle name. He played from 1959 to 1980, and is the only baseball player to be thrown out of major league games in 4 different decades.

But he was also the catcher on the 1964 and ’67 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, and Steve Carlton’s “personal catcher” on the Philadelphia Phillies – he had also caught Carlton on the ’67 Cards. Although he did not play in the 1980 postseason, and in fact served as a Phils broadcaster during the NLCS, he received a World Series ring when the Phils won.

But he is best known as a broadcaster, for the Mets and several networks, and has been elected to the broadcasters' wing of the Hall of Fame. He’s also written several books about baseball.

The weird thing about McCarver is that the ballpark in his hometown, which served as the home of a series of Memphis teams from 1968 to 1999, was renamed Tim McCarver Stadium in 1978, while he was not only still alive, but still active in baseball. It has since been replaced by a more modern facility, and was demolished in 2005. Like Helen Hayes with the 1st Broadway theater named for her, McCarver has outlived the "playhouse" named for him.

No wonder that, when James Timothy McCarver joined James Paul McCartney Jr. as a recording artist, and recorded Tim McCarver Sings Songs from the Great American Songbook in 2009, one of the songs he chose was the one that Joe Raposo wrote about Ebbets Field for Frank Sinatra: “There Used to Be a Ballpark.”

October 16, 1944: Kaizer Motaung is born in the Orlando East section of Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. At the age of 16, he was signed as a forward to Orlando Pirates Football Club, the most popular soccer team in his country. At this time, soccer was seen as the sport of the oppressed black majority, while cricket and rugby were the sports of the minority white government.

He came to America to play for the Atlanta Chiefs, and helped them win the 1968 North American Soccer League title. When he returned to South Africa in 1970, he founded a new team in Johannesburg, named for himself and his American team: Kaizer Chiefs.

In spite of African tribal leaders traditionally being called "chiefs" by Europeans, the team's logo, like that of its Atlanta predecessor, shows a Native American in a feathered headdress. The Chiefs and Pirates have the most spirited rivalry in African soccer (with the exception of Cairo, Egypt giants Al-Ahly and Zamalek), and their stadiums are just 4.6 miles apart. Along with Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza, Kaizer founded South Africa's current top league, the South African Premier League.

With Kaizer still being involved with the club as executive chairman to this day, and his son Bobby Motaung as vice-chairman, it has won 13 League titles, including the last completed season's; 15 national cups, most recently in 2014; and the 2001 African Cup Winners' Cup. The club is the most popular sports team in the country (ahead of the national rugby team, the Springboks, and the national cricket team), and it is remarked that, with their traveling fans, they never truly play an away game.

October 16, 1946: Gordie Howe makes his NHL debut. Wearing Number 15 instead of the familiar 9 he will start wearing the next season, the 18-year-old right wing scores against Turk Broda, and the Detroit Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-3 tie at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit.

The goal will be the 1st of 786 that the man who becomes known as Mr. Hockey will score for the Wings, going on to win 4 Stanley Cups and becoming the greatest player the game has ever known, and I don't want to hear about no Number 99: Gordie's better.

Also on this day, Suzanne Marie Mahoney is born in San Bruno, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. We know her as Suzanne Somers. She starred in 2 ABC sitcoms, playing Chrissie Snow on Three’s Company in the 1970s and Carol Lambert on Step By Step in the 1990s.

Despite being 69 years old and having survived breast cancer, she remains in the phenomenal shape that has allowed her to write several fitness books, make her own exercise videos, and serve as the spokeswoman for the Thighmaster. Which, I suppose, gives her a tangential relationship to sports.

October 16, 1948: Leo David Mazzone is born in Keyser, West Virginia. He was the longtime pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, and TV cameras frequently showed him rocking back and forth on the dugout bench, which drove Brave-haters crazy.

He was their pitching coach from 1979 to 1990, and they reached the postseason just once. But from 1991 to 2005, they made the postseason every year – except, of course, for 1994, when there was no postseason. In 2006, he was hired as the pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles, and after two years of being unable to repeat his Atlanta magic, he was fired. He now works as a baseball analyst for Fox.


October 16, 1950: Branch Rickey's contract as president, and de facto general manager, of the Brooklyn Dodgers expires. He is still owner of one-quarter of the franchise. With the death of quarter-owner John L. Smith, another quarter-owner, Walter O'Malley, buys Smith's share from his heirs, making him the largest owner: O'Malley 50 percent, Rickey 25 percent, and James and Dearie Mulvey each having 12.5 percent. Dearie was the daughter of Steve McKeever, who with his brother Ed ran the construction company that helped former sole owner Charlie Ebbets build Ebbets Field in 1912-13; James was her husband.

O'Malley knew he could dominate the Mulveys, and did so until he bought them out in 1975. But he and Rickey were both very strong personalities, with little in common except cheapness, the Republican Party, and the belief that they always had to be right. O'Malley hated everything about Rickey, including his favorite player, Jackie Robinson, and his favorite broadcaster, Red Barber; and would force Rickey, Robinson and Barber out of the organization -- all before moving the team, meaning he would have been a dirty bastard even if the team were still in Brooklyn to this day.

O'Malley offered to buy Rickey's quarter-share of the club. Seeing no reason to hold onto it, Rickey decided to comply. However, in a final act of spite, Rickey instead offered his percentage of the club to a friend for a million dollars. His chances at complete franchise control at risk, O'Malley was forced to offer more money, and Rickey finally sold his portion for $1,050,000 -- about $10.3 million in today's money. (In the era of free agency and big TV packages, basketball legend Magic Johnson bought the Dodger franchise for $1.4 billion in 2012.)

Rickey's son, Branch Rickey Jr. -- known as "Twig," but never to his face, or to his father's -- was already the Dodgers' farm director. After leaving the Dodgers, Branch Sr. was offered the position of general manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He took it, and took Branch Jr. with him to direct their farm systems. Health problems forced Branch Sr. to retire in 1955, but his contributions, and those of Branch Jr., would help lead to a World Championship for Pittsburgh in 1960.

Oddly, Branch Jr., who had diabetes, died first, in 1961; Branch Sr. died in 1965. Branch Jr.'s son, Branch III, now 70, is the president of the Pacific Coast League, having also worked in the Pirates' organization, and also in that of the Cincinnati Reds (which makes sense, since Branch Sr. was from Ohio).

October 16, 1953: Al Sobotka is born. You probably won’t recognize his name unless you’re from Michigan, or maybe Windsor, Ontario. But he is the building operations manager for 2 Detroit arenas: The Joe Louis Arena and the older, adjacent Cobo Hall.

In this role, he is also the zamboni driver for the hockey team that plays at JLA, the Detroit Red Wings. He’s also the guy who picks up any octopus that’s thrown onto the ice, and if the Wings are winning, he’ll twirl the octopus around over his head. The Wings have won 4 Stanley Cups while he’s been an employee, and they gave him a ring for each of them.

Also on this day, Paulo Roberto Falcão is born in Abelardo Luz, Santa Catarina, Brazil. A midfielder known by just his last name, he led Porto Alegre club Internacional to League titles in 1975, '76 and '79; and AS Roma to the Coppa Italia in 1981 and '84 and the League title in 1983. He also played for Brazil in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. 

He briefly managed the Brazil and Japan national teams, now manages Sport Club do Recife in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Colombian footballer Radamel García named his son Radamel Falcao (with no accent mark over the 2nd A) in tribute, and the latter is now one of the biggest stars in the game.

October 16, 1956: Jules Rimet dies, 2 days after his 83rd birthday. He was the longtime president of FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, the world’s governing body for soccer. (The name "soccer" comes from a shortening of “association football” to “assoc.”) He was the founder of the World Cup, whose championship trophy is named for him.

Also on this day, Timothy Francis Robbins is born in the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina, California, and grows up in New York. Despite all his work, he is still best known for playing Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh, a minor-league pitcher with a million-dollar arm and a 5-cent head, in the film Bull Durham.

On the set, he met Susan Sarandon, who grew up in Edison, New Jersey. They were together for 21 years, although they never got married. They are both fans of the New York Mets and Rangers. Well, nobody's perfect.

October 16, 1957: Hall-of-Fame slugger Hank Greenberg is fired by the owners of the Cleveland Indians. Greenberg‚ one of the architects of the strong Cleveland teams of the early 1950s‚ will be replaced by Frank "Trader" Lane‚ but will continue as a minority shareholder in the team until Bill Veeck, who had hired him for the Indians in 1948, hires him for the front office of the Chicago White Sox when he buys them in 1959. Lane’s hiring will be a disastrous one for the Indians.

October 16, 1958: Timothy Francis Robbins is born in West Covina, California, outside Los Angeles. The actor-director is best known for playing Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh in Bull Durham, where he met Susan Sarandon, who became his life-partner for the next 21 years. Unfortunately, like his former better half, he’s a hardcore Mets and Rangers fan.

Go ahead, Tim, blow out those 56 candles. Just blow ‘em out. Don’t think, Meat, just blow.

October 16, 1959: Brian David Harper is born in San Pedro, California. He was the catcher for the Minnesota Twins on their 1991 World Championship team. He is now the hitting instructor for the Chicago Cubs' Class AAA team, the Des Moines-based Iowa Cubs. His son Brett got as far as AAA ball in the Mets' system.


October 16, 1962: Game 7 of the World Series at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Tony Kubek, who missed much of the season due to military service, grounds into a double play in the 5th inning, but a run scores on the play.

The score remains Yankees 1, Giants 0 in the bottom of the 9th. With 2 outs and Matty Alou on 1st‚ Willie Mays rips a double to right off Ralph Terry‚ but great fielding by Roger Maris keeps Alou from scoring.

The Yankees now have a choice to make: Have the righthanded Terry, who gave up Bill Mazeroski’s Series-winning homer in Game 7 in 1960, pitch to the next batter, the dangerous lefthander Willie McCovey; or walk him to load the bases and set up the Series-clinching out at any base, and pitch to the equally dangerous but righthanded Orlando Cepeda. Between them, they would hit 900 home runs in the major leagues (McCovey 521, Cepeda 379). Both were already All-Stars, and both had been Rookie of the Year (Cepeda in 1958, McCovey in '59). It’s like choosing between the guillotine and the hangman’s noose.

Oddly, despite all the talk about whether to pitch to McCovey or Cepeda, removing the tiring Terry for a relief pitcher seems never to have been discussed.

They decide to pitch to McCovey. “Stretch” hits a screaming liner toward right field‚ but 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson takes one step to his left and snares it. Ballgame over, Yankees win, theeee Yankees win. Barely. It is the first World Series Game 7 that ends 1-0. There has since been only one more, in 1991, and that one went 10 innings.

It is the Yankees' 20th World Championship, their 2nd in a row. Terry, who had also won 23 regular season games, Game 5 of the Series, and soon the Cy Young Award, is awarded the Series MVP award. He is fully redeemed for having given up the Series-winning home run to Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates 2 years earlier.

However, the Yankees will not win another World Series for 15 years. The Giants? They would have to wait another 27 years just to get into another Series, and won't win one until 2010.

Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, a Giants fan living in nearby Santa Rosa, soon draws a cartoon having Charlie Brown yell to the heavens, "Why couldn't McCovey's drive have been just three feet higher?" McCovey did his job, and the Giants took the Series to the last out of the last game. They just got beat by a team that was a little bit better.

Still alive from the 1962 World Champion Yankees, 53 years ago, are 9 players: Terry, Richardson, Kubek, Whitey Ford, Jim Coates, Bud Daley, and Hector Lopez; plus Joe Pepitone and Jim Bouton, who never got into any of the Series games. Yogi Berra, of course, just died.

Surviving from the Giants are 12 plyaers: McCovey, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Felipe Alou, Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bolin, Ernie Bowman, Jim Davenport, Billy O'Dell, John Orsino, and, oddly, a man who'd been a Yankee World Series hero, Don Larsen. Billy Pierce and Stu Miller, both pitchers for the '62 Giants, died this year.

Also on this day, Manute Bol is born in Turalei, in what is now the Republic of South Sudan. The son of a Dinka tribal chief, he was 7-foot-6, and until Georghe Mursean, also a Washington Bullet, he was probably the tallest player in NBA history. He remains the only player ever to block more shots than he made.

He played for the Bullets, the Golden State Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers (where, naturally, he wore Number 76) and the Miami Heat. On both the Bullets and, previously, for the minor-league Rhode Island Gulls, his teammate was Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, at 5-foot-3 the shortest player in NBA history.

After working in public relations for Ethiopian Airlines, and with African refugee groups, he was badly hurt in a car crash in 2004, and died of kidney failure in 2010. He was just 47.


October 16, 1963: Two newly-moved NBA teams play their 1st games in their new cities. The Syracuse Nationals, having ended the era of small-town NBA teams that also included Rochester and Fort Wayne as recently as 1957, they take the place of the Philadelphia Warriors, who moved to San Francisco (and adopted their current name, the Golden State Warriors, in 1971), and become the Philadelphia 76ers. With 26 points from Hal Greer, they beat the Detroit Pistons, 117-115 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

The Baltimore Bullets, who took up the name of the 1946-54 Charm City franchise after 2 seasons as the Chicago Packers and Chicago Zephyrs expansion franchise, aren't so lucky: Walt Bellamy scores 32 points and Terry Dischinger 26, but the Boston Celtics beat them 109-95 at the Baltimore Civic Center (which still stands, now named the Royal Farms Arena).

October 16, 1964: The Indians' Board of Directors, after deliberating for four hours, decide to keep the team in the Forest City after exploring options to possibly shift the franchise to Seattle, Oakland, or Dallas.

I don't know about those choices. Seattle had the 17,000-seat Sick's Stadium, which was eventually expanded to 25,000 seats, and was hardly major league quality even then. Arlington, Texas was about to build the 10,000-seat Turnpike Stadium outside Dallas, which eventually became the 43,000-seat Arlington Stadium. But where would they play in the meantime? In 1962, Charlie Finley considered moving the Kansas City Athletics to Dallas and playing in the Cotton Bowl, but that's a football stadium, and either left or right field would have had a ridiculously close fence.

Oakland? The Coliseum was still 2 years away, and old Emeryville Park had already been demolished. Where were they going to play until the Coliseum opened? Would the Giants have given them permission to groundshare at Candlestick Park in the interim? Going from Cleveland Municipal Stadium to Candlestick would have been like going from a lion's den to a snake pit: Not a significant improvement. Finley would move the A's to Oakland in 1968, by which point the Raiders had already played 2 seasons there.

The Tribe signs a 10-year lease to use Cleveland Stadium at a reduced rent, which includes an escape clause for the city and the club after any season. Despite the threat of having to move due to poor finances hanging over them through the 1960s, the '70s and the '80s, it would take until 1994 for them to move into a modern, suitable ballpark. And it would be in Cleveland.

October 16, 1965, 50 years ago: Byron Thomas Tolbert is born in Long Beach, California. A member of Arizona's 1st Final Four team in 1988, the power forward played 7 seasons in the NBA. Tom now hosts a sports-talk show on San Francisco's KNBR, and is an announcer for ABC's NBA coverage.


October 16, 1968: The Milwaukee Bucks make their NBA debut. They play the team that will become their arch-rivals, the Chicago Bulls, and lose 89-84 at the Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center Arena, a.k.a. The MECCA (now the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena). But that's not the biggest sports story of the day.

Also on this day, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Ellis Kinder dies during open-heart surgery, probably complicated by heavy drinking all through his adult life. Kinder was one of the heroes of Boston’s 1948 and 1949 Pennant runs, though both fell short.

Yet despite not becoming a big-league regular until he was 31, he won 102 games and saved 102 others in his career. Had he come along 40 years later, in the era of bullpen specialists and rehab, he might have been one of the best relief pitchers ever.  He was only 54. But that's not the biggest sports story of the day.

The biggest sports, the biggest news, story of the day happens at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, teammates at San Jose State University, win the Gold and Bronze Medals, respectively, in the 200 meters. Smith sets a world record, winning the race in 19.83 seconds, the 1st time 20 seconds had been beaten in the race. Peter Norman of Australia won the Silver Medal.

But when they take the podium to receive their medals, all 3 -- including Norman, a critic of the infamous White Australia Policy, accepting Smith and Carlos' request -- are wearing pins of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. Smith and Carlos remove their shoes, revealing not bare feet as is usually remembered, but black socks.

Smith, born in Texas on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and raised in Central California, wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos, a black Cuban from Harlem who was a year minus 1 day younger (born June 5, 1945), had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue-collar workers in the U.S., in the US and wore a necklace of beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage." Meaning the sea voyage taking slaves from Africa to America. 

They had intended to wear black gloves on each hand, but Carlos forgot his pair. Norman suggested that Smith give Carlos his left glove, and that's why Smith raised his right fist in "the Black Power Salute" as "The Star-Spangled Banner" started playing, while Carlos raised his left, which was not the usual salute. Both bowed their heads.
The U.S. Olympic Committee kicked Smith and Carlos off the Olympic team immediately. Both received condemnation from the white U.S. media and death threats from anonymous sources.

This was just 9 days after Jose Feliciano's performance of the National Anthem during the World Series -- unlike "The Silent Gesture," a totally unintentional conterversy. It was 7 weeks after the riot at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, 4 months after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, 6 months after that of Martin Luther King, 15 months after the race riots in Newark and Detroit, 16 months after the one in Boston's Roxbury.

It was a little over 2 years after Chicago's West Side and Cleveland's East Side had been hit by riots,  3 years after Bloody Sunday in Selma and the Watts riot in Los Angeles, 4 years after race riots in Harlem and North Philadelphia and the murders of 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi, and 5 years after Dr. King's "I have a dream speech" and "Letter from Birmingham Jail," the assassinations of John Kennedy and Megar Evers, George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, and Birmingham's police dogs, water cannons and church bombing.

At the time, no white person was willing to stand up and say that Smith and Carlos had a point. Today, nearly everyone is willing to admit that. In 2005, San Jose State dedicated a statue of the medal podium, with an empty space where Norman would have stood, so that anyone who wants to can stand with Smith and Carlos in a personal re-enactment.

Smith would play as a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, teach at Oberlin College (which had been the 1st integrated college in America), and accept a peace offering from the USOC, a coaching position the U.S. track team at the 1995 Indoor World Championships. Carlos would also play as an NFL receiver, with the Philadelphia Eagles, be accepted as part of the organizing committee for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and become a high school track coach.
Smith and Carlos at the 2013 ESPY Awards,
receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

Smith is now 71. Carlos is 70. both have become paid public speakers regarding their stories. Norman died in 2006, and Smith and Carlos traveled all the way to Melbourne for his funeral, and served as the front pallbearers. David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter, a.k.a. Lord Burghley, Gold Medal winner in the 1928 Olympics' 400-meter hurdle race, and presenter of the medals to Smith, Norman and Carlos, died in 1981. John Dominis, who took the famous photo, lived until 2013. He had served in World War II, and for Life magazine, took photos of the Korean War, 6 Olympiads and President Kennedy's 1963 West Berlin speech.


October 16, 1969: Yes, the Miracle on 126th Street really happened. Was it actually a “miracle”? Not really: The Mets unquestionably outplayed the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. That’s what happens when you peak in the 1st at-bat of the Series (Don Buford’s leadoff home run) and then presume that the Series is going to be a cakewalk: You get frosted.

In Game 5, the Orioles lead 3-0 in the bottom of the 6th, thanks to the pitching and home run of Dave McNally, and it looks like the Series is going back to Baltimore for at least a Game 6.

Cleon Jones‚ the only Met to have hit .300 that season – in fact, his .340 remained a Met single-season record until John Olerud’s .359 in 1998 – is hit on the foot with a pitch, much like the unrelated Nippy Jones of the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series. And, like Nippy, Cleon proves he was hit by showing the umpire a shoe-polish stain on the ball.

He is awarded 1st base, and then Donn Clendenon hits a home run to close the Mets to within 3-2 Baltimore. Al Weis ties it up with a homer in the 7th, and in the 8th, Ron Swoboda doubles, and the O’s uncharacteristically make 2 errors, leading to Mets 5, Orioles 3.

Jerry Koosman goes the distance. Just as the 2000 film Frequency used the ’69 World Series as a major plot point, connecting the past with that film’s present, so, too, does the final out link the Mets' 2 and, so far, only World Championships. The last Oriole batter is 2nd baseman Dave Johnson. Or, as he was sometimes known, Davey Johnson. And, 17 years before he manages the Mets to the 2nd title, he flies to left, where Cleon Jones is under it, and, at 3:17 PM, that’s the Mets' 1st title.

As Curt Gowdy said on NBC, “There’s a fly ball to left, waiting is Jones, he’s under it, the Mets are the World Champions! Jerry Koosman is being mobbed! Look at this scene!”

Thousands upon thousands of fans ran onto the field and took whatever souvenirs they could find, a repeat of the September 24 Division clincher and the October 6 Pennant clincher, and then some.

Like the New England Patriots against the St. Louis Rams in their 1st Super Bowl win, or the Giants against the Patriots 7 years later, the '69 Mets acted as if there was no pressure, as if the pressure was all on the other guys. It really wasn’t on the Mets. They had fun. And their fans had fun. It was fun they did not expect to have. And sometimes, that’s the best kind of fun of all.

And that’s why the win was not just glorious, but, to use the cliché, Amazin’. It was also the last Major League Baseball game played before I was born, exactly 9 weeks later. So I was born with both the Mets and the Jets as defending World Champions.

But I still hate the Mets. But that's not why. I hate them because I'm a Yankee Fan.

The '69 Mets have been lucky, in that, 46 years later, 21 of their players are still alive; Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Ed Charles, Wayne Garrett, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Art Shamsky, Jerry Grote, Al Weis, Ken Boswell, Ron Taylor, Bobby Pfeil, J.C. Martin, Duffy Dyer, Rod Gaspar, Jim McAndrew and Jack DiLauro. Coach Joe Pignatano is also still alive.

General manager Johnny Murphy died of a heart attack just 3 months later. Manager Gil Hodges died of a heart attack on the eve of the 1972 season, owner Joan Payson of natural causes in 1975, Danny Frisella in a dune buggy accident while still an active player on New Year's Day 1977, coach Rube Walker of lung cancer in 1992, Cal Koonce of lymphoma in 1993, Tommie Agee of a heart attack in 2001, Tug McGraw of brain cancer in 2004. Donn Clendenon of leukemia in 2005, Don Cardwell of Pick's disease in 2008, coach Eddie Yost of heart disease in 2012, and coach Yogi Berra of old age just last month.

Only Taylor, with the '64 Cardinals, had won a Series before. None of the others would again, although Harrelson would be the 3rd base coach on the Mets' '86 titlists, and thus the only man in a Met uniform for both. (Johnson would be the manager, and Seaver would be in the opposite dugout, running out the string with the Red Sox.) The last one still active in the major leagues would be Ryan in 1993.


October 16, 1970: Mehmet Yüksel is born in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. We know him as Mehmet Scholl. He was a star soccer midfielder of Turkish descent in Germany when Mesut Özil was just a small child.

He left hometown club Kalrsruher SC to play for the biggest club in the country, Bayern Munich. With former teammates Oliver Kahn and Bastian Schwiensteiger, he shares the record for most Bundesliga titles won, 8 (in his case: 1994, '97, '99, 2000, '01, '03, '05 and '06). He won 5 German Cups (DFP-Pokal), including League and Cup "Doubles" in 2000 and '03. He won 5 League Cups (DFB-Ligapokal), making for a domestic "Treble" in 2000.

He was a member of the Bayern teams that won the UEFA Cup in 1996 and the UEFA Champions League in 2001, and the Germany team that won Euro 2006. He later managed Bayern's reserves, and is now a studio analyst on German television.

October 16, 1972: Kordell Stewart (no middle name) is born in New Orleans. The quarterback's touchdown pass on the final play of a 1994 game gave Colorado a win known as The Miracle In Michigan. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they used him as a backup to Neil O'Donnell, a running back, a receiver and a kick returner. Or, as was said at the time, a quarterback/running back/receiver/kick returner, earning him the nickname Slash.

The Steelers won the 1995 AFC Championship, and he played in Super Bowl XXX as a rookie. Had coach Bill Cowher started him at quarterback, instead of O'Donnell, who gave the game away with 2 key interceptions, the Steelers might have beaten the Dallas Cowboys. He was given the starting job for the 1997 season, and he got the Steelers into the AFC Championship Game. He got them back into it in 2001, but after a loss of effectiveness the next season, the Steelers let him go.

He would play for the Chicago Bears in 2003, and the Baltimore Ravens in 2004 and '05, but was cut by both. He later worked as a sideline reporter and a sports-talk host on an Atlanta radio station. Only Steve Young, with 43, is a quarterback with more NFL rushing touchdowns than his 36.

Also on this day, Darius Kasparaitis is born in Elektrėnai, Lithuania. Probably the greatest hockey player in that former Soviet "republic"'s history, the defenseman with the name that sounds like a dreaded disease played for Dinamo Moscow, the New York Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Colorado Avalanche, the New York Rangers and SKA St. Petersburg.

In the wake of the Soviet Union's breakup, he won a Gold Medal with the "Commonwealth of Independent States" team (a.k.a. "The Unified Team") at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. He was an NHL rookie on the Islander team that won the Patrick Division Playoff Championship in 1993, but struggled to reach Playoff heights thereafter. In 15 NHL seasons, he scored just 27 goals with 136 assists, and racked up 1,379 penalty minutes.

He now runs a real estate company, diving his time between Miami and Stockholm. I hope he's in Miami during the winter and Stockholm during the summer, and not the other way around!

October 16, 1973: The Oakland Athletics win Game 3 of the World Series, 3-2 in 11 innings over the New York Mets. Bert Campaneris gets the winning RBI.

In the bottom of the 10th, Willie Mays pinch-hits for A's pitcher Paul Lindblad, and grounds to short, where Bud Harrelson turns a force play. It is Mays' last major league appearance.

In a private clubhouse meeting‚ Dick Williams tells A's players he will resign after the Series, win or lose. He has had it with the meddling of team owner Charlie Finley. Alvin Dark will succeed Williams.

October 16, 1974: A’s pitcher Ken Holtzman‚ who, due to the designated hitter, hadn't come to bat all season‚ belts a 3rd-inning home run, and gets the win, with Rollie Fingers in relief. Oakland scores 4 in the 6th to wrap up Game 4, 5-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Oakland Coliseum. It will be 34 years before another pitcher homers in a World Series game.

Also on this day, Paul Tesuhiko Kariya is born in Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the few players of Asian descent ever to play in the NHL, he led the University of Maine to the 1993 National Championship, and won the Hobey Baker Award for national player of the year, "the Hockey Heisman."

He won a Gold Medal with Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and led the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Ducks to the 2003 Western Conference Championship. In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Devils' Scott Stevens gave him The Cold Shoulder, knocking him out. He returned 5 minutes later, scored a goal, and provided 2 assists to force a Game 7, which the Devils won.

Kariya had been the Ducks' Captain since 1996, but they let him go. He went on to play for the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, finishing his career with 407 goals and 587 assists, for a total of 989 points, just short of 1,000. A 7-time All-Star, he won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1996 and '97. He is eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but is not yet in.

October 16, 1975, 40 years ago: Game 5 of the World Series at Riverfront Stadium. Cincinnati Reds 1st baseman Tony Pérez had no hits in the Series up to this point, but hits 2 home runs and drives in 4 runs off Boston Red Sox starter Reggie ClevelandDon Gullett pitches 8 strong innings and wins with relief help from Rawly Eastwick in the 9th, and the Reds win, 6-2.

The Reds now lead 3 games to 2 as the Series heads back to Boston. But for 3 days -- October 18, 19 and 20 -- rain will postpone Game 6. When it finally begins at Fenway Park on the night of October 21, it becomes one of the epic games in baseball history.

October 16, 1976: Game 1 of the World Series -- the Yankees' 1st Series game in 12 years and 1 day. The game is played at Riverfront Stadium, home of the defending World Champions, the Cincinnati Reds. Although the Yankees have played away games against the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals (including in this year's ALCS) on artificial turf, this is the 1st time they have done so in the World Series.

Dan Driessen, batting 5th for the Cincinnati Reds, becomes the 1st National League player to be used as a designated hitter. The DH was not employed prior to this year's Fall Classic, although the concept had been adopted and used in the American League since 1973. Joe Morgan hits a home run, Don Gullett outpitches Doyle Alexander, and the Reds win, 5-1. They will go on to sweep the Series.

October 16, 1977: The Dodgers stay alive in the World Series with a 10-4 victory in Game 5. Steve Yeager and Reggie Smith homer as Don Sutton pitches a complete game. Reggie Jackson, who homered in Game 4, does so again in Game 5.

Also on this day, Cal Hubbard dies of lung cancer in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was just short of turning 77. He was a 2-way lineman, and at 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds, he was enormous for his era. He won NFL Championships with the Giants in 1927 and the Green Bay Packers in 1929, '30 and '31. He was a 4-time Pro Bowler, and was elected to the NFL's 1920s All-Decade, 50th Anniversary and 75th Anniversary All-Time Teams, and to the Louisiana, Missouri, College Football, Pro Football and Green Bay Packers Halls of Fame.

As if that wasn't accomplishment enough for one man, he was also an American League umpire from 1936, the year he retired from playing football, until a hunting accident damaged his right eye in 1951. He officiated at 4 World Series and 4 All-Star Games, and at his size, few players were willing to argue with him.

After his accident, the AL made him their supervisor of umpires, a post he held until retiring in 1969. It was his idea for the game to go from having 3 umpires on the field to 4 in the regular season (1 at each base) and 6 in the postseason (adding 1 to each foul line).

He lived long enough to become only the 5th umpire elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and is the only man in the Halls of Fame of both Baseball and Pro Football -- not counting broadcasters.

October 16, 1978: As the World Series heads west to Los Angeles for Game 6, Dan Dailey dies at age 62, from complications from hip replacement surgery. He starred in 2 baseball movies, playing Hall-of-Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean in The Pride of St. Louis, and a peanut vendor turned "baseball dad" in the original version of The Kid From Left Field. Both films were directed by Harmon Jones.


October 16, 1980: Suzanne Brigit Bird is born in Syosset, Long Island, New York. Sue Bird is one of the premier female basketball players of all time. She led the University of Connecticut to the 2000 and 2002 National Championships, going 114-4 there. She led the Seattle Storm to the 2004 WNBA Championship, and was a member of the 2004 and 2008 U.S. teams that won Olympic Gold Medals.

Her father is originally from Russia -- the family name had been Boorda -- and she played professionally there, for the women's basketball team at the multi-sport club Spartak Moscow, before returning to the Storm.

October 16, 1983: Eddie Murray slams a pair of home runs and Scott McGregor pitches a 5-hitter, as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-0 at Veterans Stadium, and win the World Series 4-1. Baltimore catcher Rick Dempsey‚ who hit .385 with 4 doubles and a home run‚ is the Series MVP.

The Orioles win their 3rd World Series, marking a unique double: Edward Bennett Williams, famed trial lawyer, majority owner of the Orioles, and minority owner and former majority owner of the Washington Redskins, becomes the only man ever to be an owner of the current World Series and Super Bowl champions at the same time.

NFL rules prohibit a majority owner from being a majority owner in another sport, so before buying the Orioles, Williams sold some of his stake in the Redskins to Jack Kent Cooke, former owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, builder of the Forum arena outside L.A., and the last owner of the minor-league baseball team that gave its name to an NHL powerhouse, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This caps a period where they have finished 1st 8 times in 18 years, and have at least been competitive almost continuously since 1960. But, due to their core players getting old and later mismanagement by owner Peter Angelos, they have not played a World Series game since.

The last out is a line shot to shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., son and namesake of the Orioles' longtime 3rd base coach. He will play another 18 seasons, but never appear in another World Series.

Also on this day, Kelso dies at age 26. A grandson of 1943 Triple Crown winner Count Fleet, he was eligible to run in the Triple Crown races in 1960, but did not do so. But from ages 3 to 8 (8 is not old for a horse, but it's old for a horse to be racing), he won many big races, including 5 straight Jockey Club Gold Cups from 1960 to 1964 and 3 straight Woodward Stakes from 1961 to 1963.

He won the Daily Racing Form Horse of the Year award 5 times. No other horse has even won it 4 times. He was retired in 1966, having won just under $2 million, a record that would stand until 1979. He died just 1 day after being paraded around the track at Belmont Park, prior to the running of the race that was his trademark, the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Perhaps it was too much for him.

Horse racing writer Joe Hirsch wrote, "Once upon a time there was a horse named Kelso. But only once."

October 16, 1985, 30 years ago: Baseball gets its 1st intrastate World Series since 1974‚ as the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals win their respective Pennants. Kansas City beats the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 in Game 7, to cap a comeback from a 3-games-to-1 deficit.

While in Los Angeles‚ Jack Clark drills a 3-run home run deep into the left field pavilion, off Tom Niedenfuer with 2 outs in the top of the 9th and first base open to give the Cardinals a 7-5 victory over the Dodgers, and a 4-2 series win.

October 16, 1988: Game 2 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. Don Baylor becomes the 1st player to participate in 3 consecutive World Series for 3 different teams, when he pinch-hits in the 8th inning of the A's 6-0 loss to L.A. The 39 year-old veteran played with the Pennant-winning Red Sox in 1986 and the World Champion Twins in 1987. He also reached the postseason with the California Angels in 1979 and 1982.

Also on this day, Mesut Özil is born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. A grandson of Turkish immigrants, the midfielder began his professional soccer career with hometown club Schalke, and moved to Werder Bremen, whom he helped to the 2009 DFB-Pokal (German Cup). He moved on to Spain's Real Madrid, winning the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) in 2011 and La Liga in 2012.

In 2013, he was purchased by North London's Arsenal. In his 1st 2 seasons with them, he has gotten them to the FA Cup both times. In 2014, he helped Germany win the World Cup. He might just be the best player in the world -- once you disqualify players who dive (and thus cheat), that is.


October 16, 1992: Bryce Aron Max Harper is born in Las Vegas. Who is he? "That's a clown question, bro." The right fielder was the 1st pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. Within 21 months, he had debuted with the Washington Nationals. Just 3 months after that, he was playing in his 1st All-Star Game. Just 3 months after that, he had helped the Nats win their 1st National League Eastern Division title and reach their 1st postseason (unless you count 1981 as the Montreal Expos). Just a month after that, he was named NL Rookie of the Year.

He would help get the Nats to the Division title again in 2014, and in the season that just concluded, he put up monster stats: A .330 batting average; leading both Leagues with a .460 on-base percentage, a .649 slugging percentage, a 1.109 OPS and a 195 OPS+; and leading the NHL with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He had 99 RBIs, and having under 100 despite 42 home runs says more about the Nats' 2nd-half collapse in 2015, allowing the Mets to win the NL East, than it does about his ability.

Lots of people don't like him, because he's rude and arrogant. Well, if you had a .289 career batting average, a 143 OPS+, 528 hits, 97 home runs and 248 RBIs before your 23rd birthday, you might be arrogant, too. Along with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he is generally regarded as 1 of the top 2 players in baseball today. And he's just turned 23.

October 16, 1995, 20 years ago: The Yankees sign former Met superstar pitcher Dwight Gooden‚ who has been on suspension for violation of his substance abuse program. George Steinbrenner likes comeback stories, redemption stories. This one works out for the Yankees, and for Doctor K, at least for 1996.

October 16, 1996: A crowd of 47,000 people attempts to squeeze into the 36,000-seat Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, for a 1998 World Cup qualifying match between Guatemala and Costa Rica. As many as 84 people are killed, and 180 injured. Álvaro Arzú, President of Guatemala, orders that the match be postponed.

Built in 1948, Estadio Flores still stands, and remains home to the national team and local club Municipal. Its capacity is now listed at 29,950, and is rigidly enforced. Arzú, who had previously been Mayor of Guatemala City, is its Mayor again. 

October 16, 1999: Jean Shepherd dies at age 78. The author and former late-night talk-show host on New York radio station WOR, best known today as the writer and narrator of the film A Christmas Story, was born in Chicago and grew up in nearby Hammond, Indiana.

He was a tremendous Chicago White Sox fan, and hosted the team’s 1987 video history. In it, he spoke poetically of his love for the city, the team, its then-home of Comiskey Park, and of his favorite player of all time, 1950s ChiSox sparkplug Nellie Fox.

"If I was a colonel in some awful war," he said in that video, "and there was an enemy pillbox that had to be taken, and it looked like a suicide mission, I’d look out at my men and say, 'Are there any White Sox fans here? Follow me!' And those White Sox fans would follow me, and we’d take that pillbox! Because White Sox fans are special."

Well, Met fans are special. In fact, as my sister would say, they’re "especially special." But tonight, in Game 4 of the NLCS, they have reason to be happy. Trailing 3 games to none, the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves‚ 3-2 at Shea Stadium‚ to stay alive. John Olerud drives home all 3 New York runs with a solo homer in the 6th inning‚ and a 2-run single off John Rocker in the 8th. Rick Reed shuts jtlanta out over the 1st 7 innings on a single hit.

Shortly before this series, Rocker, sticking his nose in the Mets-Braves "rivalry," said, "I hate the Mets. I hate their fans. How many times do you have to beat a team to make their fans shut up?" The lunkheaded redneck had a point, but we still don’t know the answer.

After this game, hearing the reception Met fans gave him as he headed back to the dugout after being pulled off the mound by manager Bobby Cox, rocker is interviewed in the locker room, and flaps his gums again: "I would say the majority of Met fans aren’t even humans. They’re more like... Neanderthals." I've said as much, but to John "Off His" Rocker, we can only say that it takes one to know one.

Yankees Fans have considerably less reason to be happy tonight, after what happened in the afternoon. The Red Sox roll over the Yankees‚ 13-1 at Fenway Park‚ behind the pitching of Pedro Martinez. Nomar Garciaparra gets 4 hits for Boston‚ while John Valentin drives home 5 runs. Garciaparra‚ Valentin‚ and Brian Daubach all homer for the Sox. New York now leads the ALCS‚ 2 games to 1.

Pedro outpitches Roger Clemens, and Sox fans, still thinking of him as a traitor, give him the worst ripping any player has ever received at Fenway Park. One fan holds up a sign: “Roger, thanks for the memories, especially this one.” After he leaves the game, a chant goes up: “Where is Roger?” After a few rounds of this, a counter-chant goes up: “In the shower!”

But, as Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy would write afterwards, the Sox fans who showed up seemed to think that the point of coming was to stick it to Clemens, and it wasn’t: The point was to beat the Yankees. The Sox did beat the Yanks on this day, but that’s the only game they win in the series; it turns out to be the only game the Yankees lose in the entire postseason, the last game that they would lose in the 20th Century. Not until April 5, 2000 would they lose another game that counts.

(Wanting to stick it to Clemens first and beat the Yankees second? Met fans would make that same mistake after the 2000 World Series, all the way up to a 2002 Interleague matchup, although, unlike the Sox, they did win the series.)


October 16, 2000: The Mets defeat the Cardinals‚ 7-0 at Shea Stadium behind Mike Hampton‚ to win their 1st pennant since 1986. Hampton takes NLCS MVP honors with his 16 scoreless innings and 2 victories. Todd Zeile drives home 3 runs with a bases loaded double.

It is the Mets' 4th Pennant, following 1969, 1973 and 1986. They're still waiting for their 5th.

October 16, 2004: The Yankees maul the Red Sox‚ 19-8 at Fenway Park‚ to take a commanding 3-games-to-none lead in the ALCS. The 19 runs remain an LCS record. Hideki Matsui leads the way for New York with 5 hits‚ including 2 home runs, 5 RBI‚ and 5 runs scored. Alex Rodriguez also scores 5 for the Yankees. Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams each have 4 hits. Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield also homer for the Yanks, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon for the Sox.

The Yankees could have wrapped it up the next day with a 4th win in an ALCS. It took them another 5 years to get it, on October 25, 2009.

October 16, 2005, 10 years ago: The White Sox clinch their 1st Pennant in 46 years – the 1st Pennant for either Chicago team since the ChiSox clinched on September 22, 1959 – as they defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim‚ 6-3‚ behind Jose Contreras. Joe Crede homers and drives in 3 runs for Chicago, and Paul Konerko is named MVP of the ALCS.

October 16, 2006: Game 5 of the NLCS. Albert Pujols hitting a home run for the Cardinals is no surprise. Chris Duncan, son of Cardinal pitching coach Dave Duncan, hitting one is. The Cards win, 4-2, and head back to New York needing 1 win for the Pennant.

The losing pitcher for the Mets is John Maine, which was a surprise at the time, since he'd pitched so well late in the season, but is no longer a surprise in retrospect. The winning pitcher for the Cardinals is Jeff Weaver, which is not merely a surprise, it's a shock. Don't ever get me started on Jeff Bleeping Weaver.

October 16, 2008: Behind 7-0 in the bottom of 7th, the Red Sox score 8 runs in the last 3 frames to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the ALCS at Fenway Park, 8-7. Boston's comeback victory is the biggest postseason rally since the 1929 A's tallied 10 times in the 7th inning to wipe out an 8-run deficit against the Cubs in their 10-8 victory in Game 4 of the World Series.

When this happened, I was sure the experienced Sox would complete yet another comeback, this time from 3 games to 1 down, and win the Pennant. I was sure they were cheating, too, or that the umpires, controlled by the MLB offices and the Fox network, were being told to favor the Sox, so that there would be bigger ratings for New England vs. Philadelphia than there would be for Philly vs. Tampa Bay.

And, sure enough, the Sox did win Game 6 in St. Petersburg, and lead Game 7 1-0 in the bottom of the 4th, before the Rays finally realized that they were the home team and fought back. I guess you can't cheat your way to winning them all.

October 16, 2009: Game 1 of the ALCS. It's been 5 years since the Yankees got this far, and with a new vibe brought by manager Joe Girardi, a revived Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, and new acquisitions Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees are more ready to rumble than at any time since the Aaron Boone Game, 6 years to the day earlier.

CC nearly goes the distance, holding the Angels to 4 hits. Singles in the 1st inning by Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, an Angel error, a sacrifice fly by A-Rod and a single by Matsui give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, and that's all they need, as they go on to a 4-1 victory. Even sweeter: It's against John Lackey, who'd driven them crazy in the 2002 and '05 ALDS. He would do it to them again for the Red Sox years later, though.

October 16, 2010: The Texas Rangers record the 1st Playoff win at home in the 50-year history of the franchise, when they take Game 2 of the ALDS, defeating the Yankees, 7-2. The Rangers Ballpark (now Globe Life Ballpark) victory ends a 10-game postseason losing streak against New York, that includes yesterday's heartbreaking loss in which Texas had an early 5-0 lead over the Bronx Bombers.

If only the Yankees had won this Game 2, it might have stopped the Rangers from winning the 2010 and 2011 Pennants. Oh well.

October 16, 2013: Bill Sharman dies from complications from a stroke, at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Redondo Beach. He was 87.

William Walton Sharman was born in Abilene, Texas, and grew up in Porterville, Central California. Bill Walton, the Redhead Deadhead, may not have been the best basketball player named William Walton.

Bill Sharman served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although called up in 1951, he was not put into a game. On September 27, the entire Dodger bench, Sharman included, was thrown out of the game for arguing with the umpire -- making Sharman, to this day, the only MLB player thrown out of a game but never appearing in one.

He found better luck a guard for the Boston Celtics, and the best shooter of his era. He won 4 NBA Championships with them: 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1961. He then coached the Utah Stars to the 1971 ABA Championship, and the Los Angeles Lakers to the 1972 NBA Championship, including a 33-game winning streak that remains a North American major league sports record. Apparently, he knew so well how to defend Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West that he knew how to coach them to avoid those traps.

(For those of you who are British "football" fans: That's not 33 straight games undefeated, that's 33 straight games won. For context, when Arsenal went 49 straight undefeated in League play, there were 13 draws, plus defeats in other competitions.)

Sharman and Alex Hannum were the only coaches to win titles in the NBA and the ABA. Sharman, John Wooden, Tommy Heinsohn and Lenny Wilkens are the only people elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and again as a coach.

The Celtics retired his Number 21, and in 1996 he was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players. He remains the only man to be legitimately a legend for both of the top 2 franchises in NBA history, the Celtics and the Lakers. (Shaquille O'Neal played for both teams, but was well past it by the time he became a Celtic.)

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