Sunday, October 4, 2015

October 4, 1955: This IS Next Year!

October 4, 1955, 60 years ago today: For the 1st time, the Brooklyn Dodgers win a World Series. They had been 0-7 in the competition, 0-5 of that against the Yankees.

This time, Dem Bums dooed it, and against the Yanks, at Yankee Stadium, to boot.

After losing the World Series to Boston in 1916, to Cleveland in 1920, and to the Yankees in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953; blowing Playoffs for the National League Pennant to St. Louis in 1946 and to the New York Giants in 1951; and blowing Pennants on the last weekend of the season to St. Louis in 1942 and Philadelphia in 1950, the Dodgers had finally won their 1st undisputed World Championship in 55 years, since they finished the 1900 season as National League Champions, with no postseason series available.

But in 1955, it all seemed to come together. True, the Dodgers had traded away 2 of the beloved players who would later be known, in the title of the book that Roger Kahn wrote in remembrance of his days covering them for the New York Herald Tribune, as "The Boys of Summer": Pitcher Elwyn "Preacher" Roe and 3rd baseman Billy Cox.

The team was in transition: Jackie Robinson was still a factor, but his replacements had arrived in Jim "Junior" Gilliam and Don Zimmer. Ralph Branca, the goat of the 1951 Playoff, had retired, but the Dodgers still had Don Newcombe and Carl Erskine, and they were joined by a hotshot lefty named Johnny Podres. The Dodgers won their first 13 games of the '55 season, and finished 13 games ahead of the preseason favorites, the Milwaukee Braves.

But the Yankees took the first 2 games of the World Series, despite Robinson's steal of home plate in Game 1. But the Dodgers took the next 3 at Ebbets Field. Then the Yankees tied it up. In fact, the home team won each of the first 6 home games. Bad news for the Dodgers, since Game 7 would be at Yankee Stadium. A team with the kind of luck they'd had didn't need no bad omens.

The Boys of Summer were getting old. The younger Dodgers didn't quite seem ready. The team was in transition, and it did seem like it had been a seamless one; but for veterans like shortstop Pee Wee Reese, 1st baseman Gil Hodges, center fielder Duke Snider and catcher Roy Campanella — along with Robinson, all but Hodges are in the Hall of Fame, and he damn well should be -- it seemed like it was now or never.


This is what the world was like on October 4, 1955:

There were 16 teams in Major League Baseball, 3 of them in New York City (the Yankees in The Bronx, the Dodgers in Brooklyn, and the Giants in Manhattan), none of them south of the Potomac and Ohio Rivers, and none of them west of the Mississippi River (except the St. Louis Cardinals, just barely). The NFL had gotten to the Pacific Coast, but MLB, the NBA and the NHL hadn't.

Baseball was integrated, but the initial process was still underway. The Philadelphia Phillies, the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox had still not integrated, and the Yankees had done so only that season, with Elston Howard. All 16 current big-league ballparks now had lights, except for Wrigley Field in Chicago. But none had artificial turf, nor a dome, retractable or otherwise. Wrigley and Boston's Fenway Park were the only ballparks in use in 1955 that are still in use in 2015.

Cy Young, Honus Wagner and Connie Mack were all still alive, although each would die within the next 6 months. Al Kaline and Brooks Robinson had just completed their rookie seasons. Willie McCovey, Phil Niekro, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Stargell and Pete Rose were in high school. Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton were 10 years old. Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers were 9. Nolan Ryan was 8. Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk were 7. Mike Schmidt had just turned 6. Dave Winfield had just turned 4. George Brett was 2.

My father was 12, and attending Broadway Junior High School in Newark. My mother was 8, and attending Elliott Street School, a short walk away. Current Met manager Terry Collins was 6. And current Dodger manager Don Mattingly and current Yankee manager Joe Girardi weren't born yet.

The Dodgers and the Yankees were attempting to dethrone the Giants as World Champions of baseball. The World Champions in the other sports were the Cleveland Browns in football, the Syracuse Nationals in basketball, and the Detroit Red Wings in hockey. A few days earlier, at Yankee Stadium, Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano had come from behind to knock out Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore.

Chelsea, of West London, had won its 1st Football League title, making Ted Drake, former striker for Arsenal of North London, the 1st man to win the title as both a non-managing player and a non-playing manager. Chelsea wouldn't win the title again for 50 years. Newcastle United had won the FA Cup for the 3rd time in 5 years. They haven't won it since. The 1st European Cup had just begun, to be won by Real Madrid. The tournament would be renamed the UEFA Champions League in 1992.

The Olympic Games have since been held in America 5 times; 3 times each in Italy, Japan and Canada; twice each in Australia, Austria, France and Russia; and once each in Mexico, Germany, Bosnia, Korea, Spain, Norway, Greece and China. The World Cup has since been held in Mexico twice, Germany twice, and once each in America, England, Sweden, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Italy, France, Japan, Korea, South Africa and Brazil.

There were 48 States in the Union, and 22 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. There hadn't been a Civil Rights Act since 1875. There was Social Security, but no Medicare or Medicaid. There was no Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA or Title IX. The ideas that abortion and same-sex marriage would eventually be legal throughout the nation were absurd -- but so was the idea that corporations were "people" and entitled to the legal protections thereof.

The President of the United States was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Vice President was Richard Nixon. Harry Truman, his wife Bess, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge's widow Grace, and Woodrow Wilson's widow Edith were all still alive.

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were in the U.S. Senate. Jimmy Carter was running the family peanut business in Georgia. Ronald Reagan was starring in the Western film Tennessee's Partner -- no word on whether having Rhonda Fleming as his guest star made his wife, then still acting under the name Nancy Davis, jealous. George H.W. Bush was in the oil business in Texas. His son George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were 9 years old. Barack Obama wasn't born yet.

The Governor of the State of New York was Averell Harriman, the Mayor of the City of New York was Robert F. Wagner Jr., and the Governor of New Jersey was Robert B. Meyner. The current holders of those offices? Respectively, they are Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and Chris Christie, and none of them had been born yet.

There were still surviving veterans of the Indian Wars. Just 44 days earlier, Albert Woolson, the last living veteran of the American Civil War, a 106-year-old former drummer boy from Minnesota, would live for another 10 months. Samuel J. Seymour, age 95, the last surviving witness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, lived another 6 months.

No Nobel Peace Prize would be awarded that year. The Prime Minister of Great Britain was Anthony Eden, and of Canada, Louis St. Laurent. The monarch of both nations was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed -- but she was only 29 years old. The Pope was Pius XII. The current Pope, Francis, was then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a 19-year-old university student in his native Argentina, studying food science rather than theology.

There have since been 11 Presidents of the United States, 11 Prime Ministers of Britain (12, if you count each of the nonconsecutive tenures of Harold Wilson), and 7 Popes.

Major novels of 1955 included Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, The Quiet American by Graham Greene, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, No Time for Sergeants by Mac Hyman, Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor, The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberly, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson, and Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk.

The plays Bus Stop by William Inge, Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams premiered. James Baldwin published Notes of a Native Son, and Walter Lord the definitive book about the RMS Titanic, A Night to Remember. On October 7, 3 days after the World Series, Allen Ginsberg would introduce his poem Howl at the Six Gallery in San Francisco.

J.R.R. Tolkein concluded his Lord of the Rings trilogy by publishing The Return of the King. C.S. Lewis published The Magician's Nephew. Ian Fleming published the James Bond novel Moonraker. (In the book, the title vehicle was an experimental jet plane. The 1979 film made it a space shuttle.) Gene Roddenberry was working for the Los Angeles Police Department, and had begun selling scripts that became television episodes. George Lucas was 11 years old, Stephen Spielberg and Stephen King were 8, George R.R. Martin was 7, and J.K. Rowling wasn't born yet.

George Reeves was starring in The Adventures of Superman. The last live-action Batman had been Robert Lowery in a 1949 film serial. There had not yet been a live-action Wonder Woman. Barry Nelson had recently become the 1st live-action James Bond, as the U.S. anthology series Climax! had Americanized Fleming's debut for the character, Casino Royale. The characters of Spider-Man and The Doctor (Doctor Who) had not yet been created.

A film version of the Broadway musical Oklahoma! premiered 9 days after the World Series ended. And 16 days after that, Rebel Without a Cause premiered -- but its star, James Dean, had died in a car crash in California, at age 24, on the off-day between Games 2 and 3 of the World Series.

The Mickey Mouse Club had debuted the day before, running at the same time as Game 6 of the World Series. So had Captain Kangaroo, airing that morning. The anthology series (those were big at the time, as they were cheaper to produce) Alfred Hitchcock Presents, hosted by the creepy (in more ways than one) director himself, had premiered a day before that; The Honeymooners (previously a sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show), the day before that, on the day of Game 3; Cheyenne, 11 days before that; Gunsmoke, 10 days before that; and The Lawrence Welk Show, 2 months before that.

The Number 1 song in America was "The Yellow Rose of Texas," sung by a vocal group and backed by an orchestra conducted by the man whose name would go on the record, Mitch Miller. He was the head of A&R (Artists & Repertoire) at Columbia Records, and was quite pleased when "his" recording dethroned the 1st rock and roll record to hit Number 1 on Billboard magazine's popular music charts, "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets.

Miller, who would later host the variety series Sing Along with Mitch, and lived to be 98 years old, said, "The reason kids like rock and roll is because their parents don't." He had it completely backwards: The reason parents didn't like rock and roll was because, for the 1st time ever, a form of music was being marketed directly at people between the ages of 13 and 19 -- the word "teenager" had begun appearing in public use in 1944 -- and the kids were no longer automatically spending their quarters to buy the same records as their parents.

Sure, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney and Patti Page were all at their commercial peak, and some of their sales came from kids. But, by October 4, 1955, contrary to what you may have seen in the film Back to the Future (whose "past" events took place from November 5 to 12, 1955), the music world had already heard Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" and Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame," and Little Richard's "Tutti-Frutti" was released a few days later.

Elvis Presley had gotten to be pretty big in the South, but it would be another few months before he would break nationally with "Heartbreak Hotel." Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and James Brown would hit it big the next year; and Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Sam Cooke the year after that.

And taking it all in were Dion DiMucci and Tina Turner, both then 15 years old; John Lennon, about to turn 15; Robert Zimmerman, the future Bob Dylan, 14; Paul Simon, about to turn 14; Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Jerry Garcia, 13; Jimi Hendrix, Harry Chapin, Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger, 12; Jim Morrison and Diana Ross, 11; Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend, 10; Cher(ilyn Sarkisian) and Barry Gibb, 9; Reginald Dwight, the future Elton John, and Marvin Aday, the future Meat Loaf, 8; Robert Plant, 7; and Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen, 6.

Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $8.84 would buy now. A U.S. postage stamp cost 3 cents, and a New York Subway ride 15 cents. The average price of a gallon of gas was 26 cents, a cup of coffee was 31 cents, a meal at the newly-franchised McDonald's (cheeseburger, fries, shake) was 59 cents, a movie ticket was 58 cents, a new car about $1,500, and a new house $10,950. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed that day at 458.85.

The tallest building in the world was the Empire State Building in New York. Telephone numbers were still based on "exchanges," based on the letters on a rotary dial. So a number that, today, would be (718) 293-6000 (this is the number for the Yankees' ticket office, so I’m not hurting anyone's privacy), would have been CYpress 3-6000. There were no ZIP Codes, either. They ended up being based on the old system: The old New York Daily News Building, at 220 East 42nd Street, was "New York 17, NY"; it became "New York, NY 10017."

There were no photocopiers or video game systems. A computer could take up the entire side of a building. The Internet? No such thing. Steve Jobs was born on February 24 of that year, Tim Berners-Lee on June 8, and Bill Gates on October 28.

Diners Club had introduced the credit card, but American Express had not yet popularized it. There were no automatic teller machines. A majority of American homes did not yet have air conditioning. Most of the places that did were either bars or movie theaters.

There were artificial kidneys, but no artificial hearts. Transplanting a kidney was possible, but not a heart, lung or liver. There was no birth control pill, but there was no Viagra, either. Insects, dogs and apes had been launched into space, but no object had yet been put into orbit.

In the late Summer and early Autumn of 1955, Argetine dictator Juan Peron was overthrown. Hurricane Hilda killed 200 people in Mexico. ITV became Britain's 1st commercial television network. And the last Allied troops left Austria.

In America, President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while on vacation in Denver, where his wife Mamie was from and her family still lived. Hurricane Gladys pounded the Gulf Coast of Texas. This was on top of Hurricane Diane hitting the Northeast a few weeks earlier, destroying several of the Delaware River bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Actor-singers Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds married. The pioneering computer ENIAC was deactivated. And an all-white jury in Mississippi acquits the defendants in the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Wallace Stevens, and Carmen Miranda, and Clark Griffith -- Hall of Fame pitcher with the Chicago Cubs, 1st manager to win the American League Pennant with the 1901 Chicago White Sox, 1st manager of the New York Yankees, and owner of the Washington Senators and namesake of their stadium -- died. Gwen Ifill, and Yo-Yo Ma, and Robin Yount were born. And, on the very day of Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, so were Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Lary Sorenson and umpire Gary Cederstrom.

That's what the world was like on October 4, 1955, when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.


Johnny Podres was the choice for starting pitcher of Dodger manager Walter Alston, having won Game 3. Yankee manager Casey Stengel, with ace Whitey Ford having pitched brilliantly in Game 6, had to go with Tommy Byrne, a lefty who was occasionally wild, but had come up big for Stengel in several big games.

The Dodgers scored a run in the 4th and another in the 6th, to take a 2-0 lead. But the Yankees got 2 men on in the bottom of the 6th. And Yogi Berra, as much a "Mr. October" as the Yankees have ever had, was coming up. Yogi had delighted in hitting Series homers off the Dodgers, and would again. To hell with the lefty-on-lefty matchup: Yogi had no fear. And, despite usually being a pull hitter, Yogi hooked the ball down the left-field line, into the corner.

Left field had long been a troublesome position for the Dodgers. Gene Hermanski. Cal Abrams. George "Shotgun" Shuba and Andy Pafko had played it well, but, for whatever reasons, none of them seemed to stick, although Shuba was still on the roster. (In fact, he became the last surviving Dodger from this game.) Now Zimmer was the usual left fielder, though he was a natural infielder.

But Alston had pinch-hit Gilliam for Zimmer, and put Gilliam in at 2nd, replacing the righty-throwing Zimmer in left with lefty-throwing Sandy Amoros, a Cuban whose English was halting but whose play, on this day, changed baseball history.

A righthanded fielder, like Zimmer, never could have caught this ball, no matter how fast he was. But Amoros was fast and lefthanded, and he stuck out his right hand and caught the ball. Then he wheeled it back to the infield. Reese relayed it to Hodges, and Gil McDougald was unable to get back to 1st base in time. Double play end of threat. Just 9 outs to go.

At the time, Doris Kearns was a 12-year-old girl living in Rockville Centre, Long Island, 18 miles east of Ebbets Field. Nearly 40 years later, interviewed for Ken Burns' Baseball miniseries, award-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin would cite Amoros' robbery of Berra and the ensuing rally-killing double play as a sign that the Dodgers would win. "There's always these omens in baseball," she said. Translation: If the Dodgers could get Yogi out in a key situation, then that was it: The Yankees' luck had run out, and they would not threaten again.

Bottom of the 9th. Two out. Podres has pitched a stomach-churning game: Eight hits, but no runs. The last batter is Elston Howard. Six months earlier, Howard had become the 1st black man to play in a regular-season game for the Yankees, and was now the left fielder and Yogi's backup at catcher. In 1959, they would switch positions, and Ellie would become one of the game's best catchers. In 1955, he was a 26-year-old "rookie," having played in the Negro Leagues for a while.

Howard grounded to short. It was so appropriate that it went to Harold Henry Reese, the Dodgers' Captain and senior player. Pee Wee threw it to Gil Hodges, and Hodges, perhaps the best-fielding 1st baseman of his era, had to trap it on the ground to keep it from being an error and bringing the tying run to the plate. But he got it.

Ballgame over. World Series over. With Red Barber having been chased out of Brooklyn by team owner Walter O'Malley after the 1953 season, it was Vin Scully who got to make the announcement over the airwaves: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the World Champions of baseball."

Simple, and correct, with no embellishments or histrionics. Not exactly how Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto or John Sterling would have described it.

It had been 55 years — or 52 years if you count only from the first World Series forward. All the near-misses, all the heartbreak, all the taunts from fans of the Giants and the Yankees? Those things no longer mattered.

"Please don't interrupt," Shirley Povich wrote for the next day's Washington Post, "because you haven't heard this one before: The Brooklyn Dodgers are World Champions of baseball." (Povich wrote for the Post from 1924, when Walter Johnson finally pitched them to the World Series, until his death in 1998. His son is the TV journalist Maury Povich.)

And they did it at Yankee Stadium, no less. They never clinched a World Championship at Ebbets Field — although the Yankees had, in '41, '49 and '52, and would again in '56. Not until '63 would the Dodger franchise clinch a World Series win on what was then their home field.

The party in Brooklyn was the biggest since V-J Day ended World War II 10 years earlier, and hasn't been matched since. Scully told the story for Ken Burns' Baseball: "When we were riding through Manhattan, it was fall. Football was in the air. We came out the other end of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and it was New Orleans chaos!"

No more "Wait 'Til Next Year," as the Brooklyn Eagle -- which had, sadly, gone out of business a few months too soon to report on the Dodgers' title -- had first blared in a headline after the 1941 Series. This was Next Year. So said the back page of the next day's New York Daily News

The front page of the next day's Daily News was even more demonstrative: "WHO'S A BUM!" Willard Mullin, who had drawn the "Dodger Bum" cartoon character, drew him again, a big nearly-toothless smile, for that front page, consisting only of that headline and that drawing.
It would remain the most famous New York headline ever, for 20 years, until the Daily News did "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD" on October 30, 1975. The New York Post tried to top that with "HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR" on on April 15, 1983, but who's kidding who?

That was the front page. The back page had "THIS IS NEXT YEAR!"

Two personnel notes should be made. One is that Mickey Mantle was injured and unable to play in Game 7 for the Yankees. Does that mean the one and only World Series won by the Brooklyn Dodgers should have an asterisk? No: There's no guarantee that Mickey would have made the difference, even though he had hit the Dodgers hard in the '52 and '53 Series, and would again in '56. Although he was one of the true Mr. Octobers, he didn't always have a good Series, and in fact went only 2-for-10 in the 3 Series games he did get into in '55, even if one of those hits was a homer off Podres in Game 3.

The other personnel note is that Jackie Robinson was not put into the lineup in Game 7. The noblest character in the history of baseball was deemed unworthy of this moment by his manager. Alston was not a Jackie Robinson fan. Neither was owner O'Malley. But on the highlight film, you can see Number 42 running onto the field. After all he'd been through, at 36 he still had enough energy to be one of the first men into the celebratory pile, if not enough energy to persuade his manager to put him into the lineup. But can we really argue with the decision? After all, it worked.

There are still 5 living members of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers: Carl Erskine, Roger Craig, Ed Roebuck, and 2 lefthanded pitchers worth mentioning.

One was a chunky guy from outside Philadelphia who had starred for the Dodgers' Triple-A farm team, the Montreal Royals, but his entire big-league career consisted of 4 games for Brooklyn in both the '54 and '55 seasons, then 18 more the next season for the Kansas City Athletics. Despite his pitching for that team, he never got on the Kansas City/Bronx shuttle. Maybe it was because, in '56, he got into a fight with Yankee 2nd baseman Billy Martin.

In the middle of the '55 season, he was told by Dodger general manager Emil "Buzzie" Bavasi that he was being sent back down to Montreal. He objected. Bavasi said, "If not you, who should we send down?" The portly portsider said to send down the other lefty, because he had no control. Bavasi told him that the other lefty couldn't be sent down, because he was a "bonus baby," and under the rules of the time, he had to stay on the major league roster for 2 full seasons, no matter what -- a rule designed to discourage teams from just throwing big (for the time) sums of money at prospects.

The bonus baby was a local boy, a Brooklyn kid who had made his major league debut that season, appearing in 12 games, nothing remarkable yet. He wanted to be an architect, and had so studied at the University of Cincinnati. He also preferred basketball to baseball.

The fat lefty insisted that he was a better pitcher than the bonus baby -- and, 60 years later, he still insists that, at the time, he was better.

Eventually, the bonus baby would get his pitching straightened out, and become one of the very best men ever to mount a pitcher's mound. His name was Sandy Koufax.

The hefty lefty? His name was Tommy Lasorda. In 1977, he and his former antagonist Billy were shaking hands in World Series pregame ceremonies, as fellow, mutually-admiring, Pennant-winning Italian-American managers.

Ironically, it was Lasorda's Dodgers who went back to his old stomping grounds of Montreal and ended the one and only postseason run ever made by the Royals' National League successors, the Expos.

There are 5 living members of the 1955 New York Yankees. Now that Yogi Berra has died, Bob Cerv is the last man alive who played in Game 7, on either side. Also on the roster were Ford, Don Larsen (still a year away from his moment in time), Irv Noren and Tom Carroll (a Queens native who was a defensive replacement in 2 games and only played 64 games in the majors, kept on the roster because he was a bonus baby).

October 4, 1955, 3:43 PM Brooklyn Standard Time. Dem Bums had finally dooed it. Here's how the newsreels covered it.

Two years later, it would all be over. And only one man had imagined such a blasphemy.  Unfortunately, the blasphemer was the caretaker of the faith, Walter Francis O'Malley.

In 1962, the Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York — that was the original corporate name of the team we know as the Mets — did something that had previously been done only by hatred of the Yankees: They united the fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the fans of the New York Giants. Until 1996, including even the Yankees' quasi-dynasty of 1976-81, the Mets were New York's most popular team.

That is no longer the case, and a person would have to be at least 65 years old to have any memory of the previous National League teams of New York; more like 70 to remember such events as the '55 win and Willie Mays' catch in '54, nearly 75 to accurately remember Bobby Thomson's homer in '51, at least 75 to remember Jackie Robinson's debut season in '47, about 80 to remember the '41 season that began the Dodgers' renaissance, and at least 85 to remember the Giant teams that won 3 Pennants in the 1930s.

Long time passing.

Oh, if you ever wanted to know what a Brooklyn Dodgers World Series ring looks like, take a look.


October 4, 1822: Rutherford Birchard Hayes is born in Delaware, Ohio, outside Columbus. In 1876, as Governor of Ohio, a former Congressman and a Union General in the American Civil War, he was elected President under dubious circumstances. But his actual time in office was blameless, and many people credit him with restoring the credibility of the Presidency after the scandals of Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant (who was personally honest, but made poor choices in friends appointees).

As far as I know, Hayes had nothing to do with baseball, although his time in office, including the 1877, 1878, 1879 and 1880 seasons, was a time of big growth for the game.

October 4, 1867: At Brooklyn's Satellite Grounds‚ two black teams play a match called "the championship of colored clubs" by the Daily Union newspaper. The Philadelphia Excelsiors outscore the Brooklyn Uniques‚ 37-24‚ in a game called after 7 innings on account of darkness.

October 4, 1876: The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas opens in College Station. In 1963, they made their nickname their official name: Texas A&M University. The "Aggies" have long had stories programs in baseball and football, producing Heisman Trophy winners John David Crow and Johnny Manziel, and producing such baseball greats as Rip Collins, Wally Moon and Chuck Konblauch.

October 4, 1880: At a special National League meeting in Rochester‚ the League prohibits its members from renting their grounds for use on Sundays and from selling alcoholic beverages on the premises. These rules are aimed at the Cincinnati club‚ which has sold beer and rented out the park to amateur teams for Sundays.

This led directly to the formation, with the Cincinnati Reds as founding member, of the American Association in 1882. They became known as the Beer and Whiskey League.

Also on this day, Alfred Damon Runyon is born in Manhattan, Kansas. But it would be Manhattan Island in New York City where he would make his name -- but first, he dropped his first name. Damon Runyon became an icon, associated with the more raffish side of New York, full of gamblers, con men, cops on the take, men on the make.

His stories would be adapted for the film Little Miss Marker and the musical Guys and Dolls. Even today, 69 years after his death, when you call someone or something "Runyonesque," people know exactly what you're talking about.

October 4, 1892: Amos Rusie of the New York Giants pitches 2 complete-game victories over the Washington Nationals (no connection to the current NL team with the name) at the Polo Grounds‚ winning 6-4 and 9-5.

The next season, the pitching distance will be extended from 50 feet to 60 feet, 6 inches, making achievements in pitching durability a lot harder. Many star pitchers of the time will never be the same, although Rusie will remain successful through the rest of the 1890s. However, it is the speedy pitching of Rusie, the Indiana native known as "the Hoosier Thunderbolt," that lead the NL to believe that a longer pitching distance would be safer for hitters.

October 4, 1895, 120 years ago: The 1st U.S. Open golf tournament is held, at the Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. Horace Rawlins, a 21-year-old Englishman, won it.

Jordan Speith won this year's tournament, at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington. Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for the most U.S. Open victories, with 4 each. Hale Irwin was the oldest winner, at 45 in 1990The youngest winner was John McDermott, in 1911: He would still be a teenager for a few more weeks. With the death this year of Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer, in 1960, is the earliest surviving former winner. The 2016 tournament will be held from June 16 to 19, at Oakmont Country Club, outside Pittsburgh.

Also on this day, Joseph Frank Keaton is born in Piqua, Kansas. He didn't grow up in any one place, as his parents were traveling vaudeville performers. A fall at the age of 18 months led a friend of the family to say, "That was a real buster!" The friend was Harry Houdini, and the boy was Buster Keaton for the rest of his life.

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle gave him his start in silent films, and he built a career as perhaps the greatest silent comedian after Charlie Chaplin. Orson Welles called his 1926 Civil War film The General "perhaps the greatest film ever made."

He developed a drinking problem, but recovered from it, and made the transition to talking pictures. Among his last roles were as a time traveler on a 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone, and in the 1963 cast-of-thousands comedy epic It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.


October 4, 1905: Just one point apart in the batting race on the final day of the season, Cincinnati Reds center fielder Cy Seymour and Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner played against each other in a doubleheader. Seymour entered the last day with a league-leading .365 average, and Wagner was in 2nd place, batting .364. A very good day at the plate for Honus combined with a poor one for Cy would have reversed their positions.

Seymour had 4 hits in 7 attempts to end up with the NL batting title (.377), while Wagner collected 2-for-7 to end up in 2nd place (.363). Don’t weep for Honus, though: He won 8 batting titles.
A newspaper account of the day stated "…10,000 were more interested in the batting achievements of Wagner and Seymour than the games…cheer upon cheers greeted the mighty batsmen upon each appearance at the plate…"

October 4, 1906: The Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-0, and notch their 116th win of the season. It remains a major league record, although it was tied in 2001 by the Seattle Mariners. But the Cubs’ winning percentage of .763 remains a record for either of the current major leagues. Both the 1906 Cubs and the 2001 M’s found out that it doesn’t mean a whole lot if you don’t win the World Series.


October 4, 1910: Frank Peter Joseph Crosetti is born in San Francisco. "The Crow" played for the Yankees from 1932 to 1948, and coached for them from 1949 to 1968. No other uniformed man has been a part of as much baseball title-winning as he has: 23 Pennants and 17 World Championships. (That's 8 Pennants and 7 World Championships as a player, 15 Pennants and 10 World Championships as Yankee 3rd base coach.) He was also a 2-time All-Star

The shortstop was a good fielder, but not much of a hitter, batting .245 lifetime. He did hit a home run off Dizzy Dean, who was running out the string with the Cubs, in Game 2 of the 1938 World Series. He was also the last survivor of the Yankees' 1936 World Series win.

In 1969, wanting to be closer to home on the Pacific Coast -- he'd moved to Stockton, California -- he accepted the 3rd base coach's job with the expansion Seattle Pilots, who included former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton. Frankie didn't think much of Jim, and the feeling was mutual. A segment in Bouton's book Ball Four suggests that Crosetti holds the record for "slaps on the ass" given by 3rd base coaches to home run hitters rounding the bases. It's estimated that he waved 16,000 runners home.

When the Pilots moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers in 1970, Crosetti didn't go with them, coaching with the Minnesota Twins in 1970 and '71, before finally calling it quits. He and the Yankees had a bit of a strained relationship: He never returned to Old-Timers' Day, usually saying he didn't want to fly across the country; and he was the only member of the 1932 Yankees to publicly say that he thought Babe Ruth did not "call his shot" in that year's World Series. He was not the last survivor of the '32 Yanks, though: He died in 2002, and pitcher Charlie Devens outlived him by a year.

October 4, 1913: Washington Senators manager Clark Griffith uses 8 pitchers — unheard-of in that era — in an end-of-season farce game with the Boston Red Sox‚ including 5 in the 9th inning. At age 43‚ the former Chicago Cubs hurler pitches an inning himself. Coach John Ryan‚ also 43‚ catches. Griffith also plays right field, where he plays one off his head and misplays Hal Janvrin‘s liner into an inside-the-park homer.

On the other end of the scale‚ 17-year-old Merito Acosta, a white Cuban who was one of the 1st Hispanic players in the American major leagues, plays left field alongside Walter Johnson in center field. Johnson then comes in for the 8th inning to lob pitches to 2 hitters. Both batters‚ Clyde Engel and Steve Yerkes, lace hits to send Johnson back to center. Then‚ in relief‚ Nats catcher Eddie Ainsmith‚ in his only major league pitching appearance‚ gives up 2 triples to allow the baserunners to score.

The Sox score in the 9th on Hal Janvrin‘s 2nd inside-the-park homer of the game. Joe Gideon‚ in his only pitching appearance, retires the last 2 batters as Washington wins‚ 10-9‚ beating Fred Anderson who goes the distance.

The 2 runs "allowed" by the Big Train will have historical repercussions: His ERA for the season goes from 1.09 to 1.14‚ and Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968 will put Johnson’s ERA in 2nd place on the all-time list (in the post-1893 60-feet-6-inches era, anyway). The 8 pitchers sets a ML record that won’t be matched until the Dodgers do it on September 25‚ 1946.

October 4, 1918: At 7:36 PM, the T.A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant, making munitions for the U.S. effort in World War I, explodes on Cheesequake Creek in the Morgan section of Sayreville, Middlesex County, New Jersey. The fires started could be seen for miles, including across the Arthur Kill in Staten Island. Over 300 buildings were destroyed -- including the company's records, so it's not known for sure how many people died, but the number is believed to be over 100.

I've lived my whole life in Middlesex County, and this is the greatest tragedy ever to befall Central Jersey. Today, the Morgan Marina and a housing development are on the site. It's a gated community, so it might be difficult to visit.  

October 4, 1922: Game 1 of the World Series. The Yankees lead the Giants 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th, but the Giants rally off Bullet Joe Bush, and make a 3-1 winner out of Rosy Ryan.

October 4, 1923: John Charles Carter is born in Wilmette, Illinois. We knew him as Charlton Heston -- and as historical figures Moses, Marc Antony (in 3 different films), John the Baptist, El Cid, Michelangelo, King Henry VIII, Cardinal Richelieu, William Clark (of Lewis & Clark), Andrew Jackson (in 2 films), General Henry Hooker, Buffalo Bill Cody and General Charles "Chinese" Gordon; and fictional characters Judah Ben-Hur, Peer Gynt and Robert Neville.

He played Ron Catlan, an aging quarterback, in the 1969 film Number One. In 2010, with the demolition of the original Yankee Stadium complete, I knew -- especially in a city still hurting from the 9/11 attacks -- it would have been wrong, but I wanted to yell his line as Colonel George Taylor, at the end of Planet of the Apes: "Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We really, finally did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

Heston was dedicated to civil rights, even attending the March On Washington in 1963. But he was a conservative on other issues, and proudly delivered the National Rifle Association's catchphrase when he spoke at its conventions: "The only way you're going to get my gun is to pry it from my cold, dead hands!" His hands, and the rest of him, became cold and dead in 2008. The status of his gun collection is unknown, but it likely left to family members.

October 4, 1924: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st ever to be played in the Nation's Capital. President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge attend. She loves baseball, he doesn't.

Walter Johnson, of course, starts for the Washington Senators. But the postseason experience of the New York Giants, who've won their 4th straight Pennant, shows as they tie the game in the 9th and win it in the 12th, 4-3.

October 4, 1928: Game 1 of the World Series. Bob Meusel hits a home run to make a winner out of Waite Hoyt, and the Yankees beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-1.


October 4, 1934: Robert Lee Huff is born in Edna Gas, West Virginia -- a company town, I'm presuming. I can find no record of why he was called Sam. He starred at linebacker for West Virginia University, and along with basketball star Jerry West still ranks as 1 of their 2 greatest athletes. He was a regular All-American and an Academic All-American.

He was a 5-time All-Pro with the New York Giants, the cornerstone of the 1st great NFL defense of the 2-platoon era. He helped the Giants reach 6 NFL Championship Games, although they only won the 1st, in 1956. In 1960, CBS News' The Twentieth Century did a feature on him, "The Violent World of Sam Huff," a precursor to NFL Films in that, for the 1st time, non-players got to hear what playing football really sounds like. To put it another way: He was Lawrence Taylor (without the sex and drug scandals) before Lawrence Taylor was even born.

In 1964, he was traded to the Washington Redskins, and has been with them ever since, first as a linebacker, then an assistant coach, and then as a broadcaster, teaming with ex-teammate Sonny Jurgensen until Sam retired in 2012. He was named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the New York Giants Ring of Honor and the Washington Redskins' Ring of Fame.

October 4, 1935, 80 years ago: Game 3 of the World Series is a wild one. Chicago Cubs manager Charlie Grimm and 2 of his players, 3rd baseman Woody English and outfielder Tuck Stainback, are thrown out of the game for bench-jockeying. Coach Del Baker of the Detroit Tigers is also thrown out, for arguing a pickoff play at 3rd base. That’s 4 uniformed men thrown out of 1 World Series game — and none was actually playing in the game!

The game goes to 11 innings, and is won 6-5 by the Tigers, on Jo-Jo White’s single scoring Marv Owen.

October 4, 1936: Game 4 of the World Series. Carl Hubbell was in the middle of a 24-game regular season winning streak, and Time magazine called this Series "a personal struggle between Hubbell and Gehrig."

Well, Hubbell had won Game 1, but Lou Gehrig homers off him in this Game 4, and the Yankees win, 5-2. Monte Pearson is the winning pitcher, and now the Yankees are 1 win away from taking the Series.

Also on this day, London's police and anti-fascist demonstrators clash with members of the British Union of Fascists in the East End. It was known as the Battle of Cable Street, and it was Britain's 1st message that it would not put up with far-right tyranny. Sadly, in 1938, its government did. Thankfully, in 1939, it stopped.

October 4, 1937: The St. Louis Cardinals trade shortstop Leo Durocher to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Johnny Cooney‚ Joe Stripp‚ Jim Bucher‚ and Roy Henshaw. Durocher, first as shortstop, then as manager, will become the face of the Dodgers for the next 10 years. Then, he will jump to the New York Giants, and become the face that Dodger fans love to hate.

October 4, 1939: Game 1 of the World Series. Red Ruffing of the Yankees and Paul Derringer of the Reds are tied 1-1 at Yankee Stadium, going into the bottom of the 9th. Charlie Keller triples with 1 out. Reds manager Bill McKechnie orders Joe DiMaggio intentionally walked to set up the double play.

But that brings up Bill Dickey, not merely the de facto Yankee Captain in the wake of Lou Gehrig's forced retirement, but the best-hitting catcher who has ever lived. (Shut up, Met fans, Mike Piazza couldn't carry his jock.) Dickey singles Keller home, and the Yankees win, 2-1. McKechnie's move essentially decides the Series.


October 4, 1940, 75 years ago: Victor Edward Hadfield is born in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, Ontario. Vic was born 1 day after his future New York Ranger linemate, Jean Ratelle. Together with Rod Gilbert, they formed the GAG Line (Goal-a-Game), reaching the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals.

Vic scored 323 goals in an NHL career that lasted from 1961 to 1976. He has not yet joined his linemates Gilbert and Ratelle in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but a 2009 book named him Number 20 on a list of 100 Ranger Greats. He now runs a golf driving range. His Number 11 was retired by the Rangers, but for Mark Messier, not for him.

October 4, 1941: In the 7th inning of a scoreless tie‚ Yankees pitcher Marius Russo bats against Dodger pitcher Fred Fitzsimmons, and launches a line drive off Fat Freddie’s kneecap. The ball caroms to shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who throws him out to end the inning. The Yankees score 2 in the 8th off reliever Hugh Casey to win 2-1.

On the official World Series highlight film, Fitzsimmons is shown limping off the field, but it’s not clear how bad the injury is. It turns out that the kneecap is broken. Once an All-Star for the Giants, who seemed to specialize in beating the Dodgers, he had crossed town to be welcomed by the Flatbush Faithful, and they wouldn’t have won the 1941 Pennant without him. But, at age 41, he will pitch in just 1 game in 1942, before accepting his injury and retiring to the coaching ranks and running a Brooklyn bowling alley that was popular with Dodger fans for many years.

Also on this day, 2 very different American writers are born. Roy Alton Blount Jr. is born in Indianapolis, and grows up in Decatur, Georgia. Essentially a humorist, he is tied to sports as a result of his first book, a look at the 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers, a team on the verge of a dynasty, but not quite there: About Three Bricks Shy of a Load.

On the same day, Howard Allen Frances O'Brien is born in New Orleans. Her mother named her Howard after her husband. After she got married, she began using the name Anne Rice, and her books have been published under that name.

She is known for her Vampire Chronicles, featuring the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt. She is a New Orleans Saints fan, and gave an interview to NFL Films in which she discusses the legend that the Saints are cursed because the Superdome was built over a cemetery.

October 4, 1942: Game 4 of the World Series. Charlie Keller homers, but the Cardinals continue to surprise the Yankees in The Bronx, winning 9-6. The Cards can wrap up the Series tomorrow.

October 4, 1944: The 1st all-St. Louis World Series (and the only one, as it turned out) opens with the Browns‚ as the official visiting team (both teams play at Sportsman’s Park)‚ beating the Cardinals 2-1 on George McQuinn‘s homer. Denny Galehouse is the winning pitcher, while Mort Cooper loses despite allowing just 2 hits.

It is the 1st Series in which all the games are played west of the Mississippi River. There will not be another until 1965, and not another until 1974. The Series is dubbed the Streetcar Series (as opposed to a Subway Series), and is played with no days off.

On the same day, Alfred E. Smith dies of a heart attack -- some would say a broken heart, as his wife had died a few months earlier. He was 70. Governor of New York from 1919 to 1921, and again from 1923 to 1929, he threw out the ceremonial first ball before the 1st game at the original Yankee Stadium in 1923.

He ran for President in 1924, and was nominated by the Democratic Party in 1928, but his Catholicism, his opposition to Prohibition, and the general prosperity under Republican leadership meant he was doomed to lose big to Herbert Hoover. He ran again in 1932, but lost to the man who succeeded him as Governor, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The 2 men, once allies, became bitter rivals. Al went on to run the company that built the Empire State Building, and the film of the dedication ceremony shows Governor Roosevelt enjoying the festivities, but ex-Governor Smith looks like he'd like to jump off.

Today, FDR is remembered as the man who saved the country in the 1930s, and the world in the 1940s. Al Smith is remembered as... the namesake of the Al Smith Dinner, a charity fundraiser run by the Archdiocese of New York every October. In Presidential election years, the nominees of both major parties are invited, and to miss attending is a major faux pas. 

On the same day, Anthony La Russa Jr. is born in Tampa. Tony was an inconsequential infielder in the major leagues from 1963 to 1973, but became a very consequential manager. From 1979 to 2011, he won 2,728 games, 15 Division titles (1983 with the Chicago White Sox; 1988, '89, '90 and '92 with the Oakland Athletics, all in the AL West; 1996, 2000, '01, '02, '04, '05, '06, '09, '13 and '14 with the St. Louis Cardinals, all in the NL Central), 6 Pennants (3 in each League), and 3 World Series (1989 with the A's, 2006 and 2011 with the Cards, making him only the 2nd manager after Sparky Anderson to win them in both Leagues.

Unfortunately, his legacy may be a negative one. Not only did he pioneer the use of computers to study baseball statistics, thus leading to constant pitching changes, but he also pioneered, through Dennis Eckersley, using your closer for just the 9th inning.

He is now an executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is in the Hall of Fame, and the Cardinals have retired his Number 10 and elected him to their team Hall of Fame. 

October 4, 1945, 70 years ago: Jugoslovensko sportsko društvo Partizan, commonly abbreviated as JSD Partizan, is founded in Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, now the capital of Serbia. It runs several sports teams, the best-known of which is the soccer team known to most of the world as Partizan Belgrade. Their rivalry with cross-town Red Star is one of the most vicious on the planet.

October 4, 1946: Susan Abigail Tomalin is born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City, and grows up in nearby Edison, New Jersey. We know her as Susan Sarandon. Her ex-husband Chris Sarandon, ex-partner Louis Malle, ex-partner Franco Amurri, ex-partner Tim Robbins (with whom she hooked up on the set of the baseball-themed film Bull Durham), daughter Eva Amurri and son Jack Henry Robbins are all either actors or directors (or both). Another son, Miles, has yet to enter the family business.

I used to love Susan Sarandon. She was, like me, a baseball fan from Central Jersey. And she was a redhead, which I liked. And she was a bombshell -- at 69, she still looks great. But she's a Mets and Rangers fan. That's a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play right there.

But, like Annie Savoy, her character in Bull Durham, she still believes in the Church of Baseball. Then again... "Makin' love is like hittin' a baseball: You just gotta relax and concentrate." Relax and concentrate? That's contradictory!

She won an Oscar for playing Sister Helen Prejean, the real-life nun and anti-death penalty activist in Dead Man Walking. Susan Sarandon winning an Oscar is not a shock. Susan Sarandon playing a nun? That is a shock! That's like casting Harvey Fierstein to play JFK!

October 4, 1947: Game 5 of the World Series. It was said of Dodger pitcher Rex Barney that he would be the best pitcher in the world if the plate were high and outside. On this day, he walks 9 Yankees in less than 5 innings -- 1 more than Bill Bevens in 9 innings the day before -- and a Joe DiMaggio homer in the 5th makes the difference, as the Yankees win, 2-1. They can wrap it up tomorrow.

October 4, 1948: In a 1-game playoff for the AL Pennant at Fenway Park‚ the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 8-3, behind 30-year-old rookie knuckleballer Gene Bearden, who wins his 20th game. It was the year of a lifetime for Bearden: He had never been that good before, and he never would be again.

Red Sox manager Joe McCarthy, who had won so much with the Yankees, ignores the well-rested rotation pitchers Ellis Kinder and Mel Parnell to go with journeyman Denny Galehouse, who was 8-7. It wasn’t a totally crazy pick: Galehouse had helped the St. Louis Browns win the 1944 Pennant.

But with the score 1-1 in the 4th‚ Ken Keltner hits a 3-run home run over the left-field fence. Indians shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau gets 4 hits‚ including a pair of homers‚ and finishes the year with just 9 strikeouts.

Who is still alive from this game, 67 years later? For the Indians, no one: Allie Clark, a South Amboy, New Jersey native whom the Yankees had traded with Joe Gordon to get Allie Reynolds, was the last survivor, dying in 2012. For the Red Sox, only Bobby Doerr and Tom Wright.

That same day, in St. Louis‚ Taylor Spink‚ publisher of The Sporting News, writes in a Baltimore newspaper that Baltimore will have an AL team within two years: "You can put a clothespin in this: Baltimore will be in the American League‚ if not next year‚ then surely in 1950."

In spite of his deep knowledge of the way the game had been working, including no franchises moving to a different city since 1902, he turned out to be off by only 4 years. It was his hometown Browns who became the new major-league version of the Baltimore Orioles, following previous major- and minor-league teams with those names. Spink and the NL’s Cardinals were tight, and he didn’t particularly care whether the Browns moved.

On this same day, Lewis Robert "Hack" Wilson was discovered unconscious after a fall in his Baltimore home. He was suffering from pneumonia and internal hemorrhaging, brought on by years of serious alcohol abuse, and died on November 23. He was only 48 years old.

A star slugger with the Chicago Cubs, in 1930 he had set the National League record of 56 home runs, and the major league record that still stands of 191 runs batted in. He led the NL in home runs 4 times. He had won Pennants with the New York Giants in 1923 and '24, and with the Cubs in 1929. His lifetime batting average was .307. But he couldn't run or field. It was said that he was "shaped like a beer barrel, and not unfamiliar with its contents." He last played in the majors at age 34, with 244 home runs. He should have had a lot more.

He was once the highest-paid player in the NL, with only Babe Ruth in the AL making more money. But because of his drinking and his final illness, he died without a penny to his name. His son Robert refused to claim the body. Ford Frick, then President of the NL, covered the funeral expenses.

Between his fall and his death, he gave an interview to CBS radio, which was reprinted in the newspapers after his death. Charlie Grimm, the Cubs' manager at the time, posted a framed excerpt from that interview in the Cub clubhouse. It is still there:

Talent isn't enough. You need common sense and good advice. If anyone tries to tell you different, tell them the story of Hack Wilson... Kids in and out of baseball who think because they have talent, they have the world by the tail. It isn't so. Kids, don't be too big to accept advice. Don't let what happened to me happen to you.


October 4, 1950: With his ace Robin Roberts exhausted, and his Number 2 starter Curt Simmons having been drafted into the Korean War, Philadelphia Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer rolls the dice and starts Jim Konstanty in Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees at Shibe Park. It’s not quite the gamble that it seems: Konstanty, about to become the first relief pitcher ever to be named his league’s Most Valuable Player, had pitched long relief during the season, including one game where he went 9 innings.

The gamble nearly paid off, as Konstanty pitched 8 innings, allowing only 1 run (on a double by Bobby Brown and 2 sacrifice flies) on 4 hits and 4 walks. But Vic Raschi of the Yankees was even better, tossing a shutout with 2 hits and 1 walk, and the Yankees win, 1-0.

The next day, Sawyer starts Roberts on 3 days’ rest, and he, too, is magnificent in defeat. The Phils lose the first 3 games of the Series, all by 1 run.

October 4, 1951: The Giants have no time to really celebrate their amazing Pennant won the day before, as the World Series gets underway. But momentum is on their side. Monte Irvin steals home in the 1st inning (and, unlike Jackie Robinson 4 years later, the film definitively shows that he was safe) and collects 4 hits. The Giants defeat Allie Reynolds and the Yankees 5-1, with Dave Koslo going all the way at Yankee Stadium.

With Don Mueller missing the World Series due to the ankle he broke in the climactic inning the day before‚ homer hero Bobby Thomson switches to 3rd base, and the Giants field the 1st all-black outfield in a World Series: Irvin in left, Rookie of the Year Willie Mays in center, and Hank Thompson in right.

Thompson and Irvin had been the 1st black players for the Giants, both debuting on July 8, 1949: Thompson as a starter, Irvin as a pinch-hitter.

October 4, 1952: Game 4 of the World Series. Allie Reynolds pitches a 4-hit shutout, to top Joe Black, who also allows just 4 hits. Johnny Mize, just 3 months short of his 40th birthday, hits a home run. The Yankees win, 2-0, and tie up the Series.

October 4, 1953: Game 5 of the World Series at Ebbets Field. Mickey Mantle hits a 3rd inning grand slam off Russ Meyer in the 3rd inning‚ and the Yanks hold on to win 11-7 in a game that features 25 hits and 47 total bases.

October 4, 1955, 60 years ago: On the day that Brooklyn wins the World Series, Jorge Alberto Francisco Valdano Castellanos is born in Las Parejas, Argentina. A forward in soccer, he won his homeland's league with Newell's Old Boys of Rosario in 1974, and moved on to Spain in 1979. After 5 seasons with Real Zaragoza, Spain's premiere club, Real Madrid signed him. They won the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League) in 1985 and 1986, and La Liga in 1986 and 1987. In 1986, he scored a goal in Argentina's win in the World Cup Final. Later, he managed Real Madrid to the 1995 La Liga title.

He is one of those people who believes that the main purpose of sport is not to win, but to play well. In May 2007, he was quoted in Marca, Spain's biggest football-themed newspaper, saying that soccer (or "football") was headed for a bad place. In particular, he cited the UEFA Champions League Semifinal between English clubs Chelsea and Liverpool, both known for roughhouse tactics and "diving" in the penalty area to falsely win a penalty kick. He was particularly prophetic in mentioning Didier Drogba, the big forward from the Ivory Coast who became one of the biggest winners, but also one of the biggest cheats, in the game:

Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: Very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct. But, a short pass? Noooo. A feint? Noooo. A change of pace? Noooo. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don't be ridiculous. None of that. The extreme control and seriousness with which both teams played the (UEFA Champions League)  semi-final neutralised any creative licence, any moments of exquisite skill.
If Didier Drogba was the best player in the first match, it was purely because he was the one who ran the fastest, jumped the highest and crashed into people the hardest. Such extreme intensity wipes away talent, even leaving a player of Joe Cole's class disoriented. If football is going the way Chelsea and Liverpool are taking it, we had better be ready to wave goodbye to any expression of the cleverness and talent we have enjoyed for a century.
Valdano was Real Madrid's general manager when the club, over his objections, hired Jose Mourinho, manager of that Chelsea team, as its field manager. In 2011, he said, basically, either he goes or I go. Not long thereafter, they were both out of a job. Valdano hasn't worked in football since.

October 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the world's 1st artificial satellite. This terrifies Americans into thinking, not so much that the Communists are ahead of us in any prestigious "space race," but that, soon, they will be able to attack us from space. Well, it's been 58 years, and they've never attacked us from anywhere. (Spy-on-spy crime excepted, of course.)

The Space Age has begun. Particularly related to this is satellite technology that allows us to see sporting events from anywhere in the world. Today, if you so chose, you could have watched Arsenal vs. Manchester United or Liverpool vs. neighboring Everton in English soccer, Paris Saint-Germain vs. Olympique de Marseille in France, Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid in Spain, and the Grand National Final in "Australian rules" football.

Also on this day, Leave It to Beaver premieres on ABC. Somebody once pointed out that the show was a lot less naive than it first appeared, and that the worries of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers, mirrored those of the times; that the show premiered on the day Sputnik 1 was launched, and aired its last episode on June 20, 1963, right after President John F. Kennedy stared down George Wallace over integration at the University of Alabama and proposed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, 2 months before Martin Luther King spoke at the March On Washington, and 5 months before Kennedy was assassinated.

Also on this day, William Mark Fagerbakke is born in Fontana, California. After appearing as assistant coach Michael "Dauber" Dybinski on the football-themed ABC sitcom Coach, he appeared on How I Met Your Mother as Marvin Eriksen, Marshall's father. Actually, he's best known by millions of kids (and stoners) who know his voice, but not his face: He plays Patrick Star on SpongeBob SquarePants.

October 4, 1958: Game 3 of the World Series. Not for the 1st time, Don Larsen comes through for the Yankees with a shutout when they need a win badly. He allows 6 hits, and a Hank Bauer home run gives him a 4-0 victory over the Milwaukee Braves. The Yankees now trail the Series 2 games to 1.

October 4, 1959: Game 3 of the World Series is played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in front of a record crowd of 92,394. It is the 1st World Series game played in Los Angeles, in the State of California, indeed anywhere west of St. Louis. The Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-1.


October 4, 1961: Game 1 of the World Series. Whitey Ford continues his shutout streak, Elston Howard and Bill "Moose" Skowron hit home runs, and the Yankees beat the Cincinnati Reds, 2-0.

October 4, 1962: Game 1 of the World Series is played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the first World Series game played in Northern California. The Yankees beat the Giants, 6-2. Whitey Ford is the winning pitcher for a record 10th time in Series play, but it will be for the last time, and his record scoreless inning streak of 33 2/3 innings is stopped.

October 4, 1963: A.C. Green Jr. is born in Portland, Oregon. Like his father, his initials are just that, and don't stand for anything. A 1990 NBA All-Star, the forward won NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 and 1988, played for the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, and came back to the Lakers to win another title in 2000. His streak of 1,192 consecutive games played, from November 19, 1986 to April 18, 2001, is easily the longest in NBA history.

October 4, 1964: The Phillies bomb the Reds 10-0. In those pre-Internet, pre-satellite TV days, the 2 teams then join forces, and sit in the visitors’ clubhouse at Crosley Field, listening to a radio (appropriately, since longtime Reds owner Powel Crosley made his fortune selling radios), hoping that the Cardinals lose to the Mets at Sportsman's Park (since renamed Busch Stadium, the 1st of 3 to have now had that name), which would force a 3-way tie for the Pennant.

The Mets take a 3-2 lead into the 5th inning‚ but St. Louis scores 3 runs to regain the lead. The Mets score once more, but the Cardinals complete their scoring with 3 in the 8th, to win 11-5. Bob Gibson wins in relief.

For St. Louis‚ it is their 1st Pennant since 1946. For Cincinnati, it is a crushing defeat, as they wanted to win for their manager, Fred Hutchinson, who was dying of cancer. For Philadelphia, it is even more devastating: The Phils had led by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play, but went on a 10-game losing streak to blow it. The Phillie Phlop would define the franchise for a generation — even fans who lived long enough to see the titles of 1980 and 2008 remain scarred by it.

October 4, 1965, 50 years ago: For the 1st time, a Pope delivers a Mass in the Western Hemisphere. Pope Paul VI does so at Yankee Stadium in New York. A crowd of 90,000 attends. It is the only sellout at Yankee Stadium all year long.

I looked it up: No, the Yankees couldn’t sell The Stadium out that season. Not on Opening Day, not on Old-Timers’ Day, not even in the preceding month on the first Mickey Mantle Day. Nor could the NFL’s Giants sell The Stadium out in 1965.

On the same trip, the Pope addresses the United Nations. The theme of both of his speeches is peace: "No more war, never again war. Peace, it is peace that must guide the destinies of people and of all mankind."

The New York branch of the Catholic advocacy group the Knights of Columbus dedicates a plaque in honor of the event, which is hung on the center field wall at The Stadium. It is moved to Monument Park in 1976, and to the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, along with plaques for later Masses delivered by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. While Pope Francis came to New York late last month, and delivered Mass at Madison Square Garden (as John Paul II did in 1979, and also at both ballparks), the Yankees still playing home games made a Mass at the new Yankee Stadium logistically impossible.

In 1972, Paul Owens was hired as Phillies general manager. The man who built the Phils' quasi-dynasty of 1976-1983, including their 1980 World Championship and their 1983 Pennant (the latter of which he managed) was nicknamed "The Pope," not just because his name was Paul, but because he looked a bit like Pope Paul VI.

On this same day, George Michael Ward Jr. is born in Lowell, Massachusetts. "Irish Micky Ward" won some minor titles in the light welterweight division, and is known for his 3 fights with Arturo "Thunder" Gatti, the 1st at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, the last 2 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, a frequent venue for both fighters. Ward only won the 1st, which was named Fight of the Year by The Ring magazine for 2002; the 3rd, Ward's last professional fight, was named Fight of the Year for 2003.

He now manages a gym in his native Lowell. Boston native Mark Wahlberg played him in the 2010 film The Fighter.

October 4, 1969: The first League Championship Series games are played in Atlanta and Baltimore. The Mets survive homers by Hank Aaron and Tony Gonzalez off Tom Seaver, and score 5 runs off Phil Niekro in the 8th to coast home 9-5. Paul Blair‘s 12th-inning squeeze bunt gives the Orioles a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.


October 4, 1970: Janis Joplin dies of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles. She was only 27. Just 16 days earlier, Jimi Hendrix had died of a heroin overdose in London. He was 27. Asked about it, she said, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors, heard about Hendrix' death, and started asking people, "Do you believe in omens?" (In spite of what Doris Kearns Goodwin said, I can find no evidence that Morrison was interested in baseball, although he did attend UCLA Film School at the time John Wooden began winning basketball's National Championship at UCLA.) After Joplin died, Morrison would tell friends, "Believe it or not, you're drinking with number three."

Actually, he was wrong: He was in line to be number four. Alan Wilson, the lead singer of Canned Heat, wasn't as big a star, but he and his band had played at Woodstock. He had died of a barbiturate overdose on September 3. "Blind Owl" was, you guessed it, 27. On July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison died of a drug-and-booze-fueled heart attack. He was 27.

October 4, 1972: Ted Williams manages a major league game for the last time, as the Texas Rangers lose to the Kansas City Royals 4-0. Although he will be a spring training instructor for the Red Sox until age and infirmity makes this impossible, the Splendid Splinter will never be involved in regular-season baseball again.

It is also the last game as Royals manager for Bob Lemon, and the last game played at K.C.’s Municipal Stadium. Previously known as Muehlebach Field, Ruppert Stadium and Blues Stadium, it opened as a minor league park in 1923, and hosted several minor-league and Negro League Pennants, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the 1966 and '69 AFL Championships and Super Bowl IV while playing there. But, seating just 35,000 for baseball and 47,000 for football, it is too small. Arrowhead Stadium had already opened and the Chiefs had moved in; Royals Stadium, now Kauffman Stadium, opened the following spring. Municipal Stadium was demolished in 1976. 

Lemon, who will join Williams in the Baseball Hall of Fame by being elected in 1976 (for his pitching with the Indians), will be replaced by Jack McKeon. Williams will be replaced by Whitey Herzog. In 1975, McKeon will be replaced as Royals manager by Herzog, who will lose 3 straight ALCS to the Yankees, managed by the man who replaced McKeon as Rangers manager, Billy Martin. Herzog would finally win 3 Pennants and a World Series with the Cardinals in the 1980s.

Also on this day, Kurt Vincent Thomas is born in Dallas. The basketball forward was the 1995 NCAA scoring leader and its rebounding leader, with Texas Christian University. He also played on both sides of the nasty New York Knicks/Miami Heat rivalry of the late 1990s, playing in the Game 5 brawl in their 1997 Playoff series, but was with the Dallas Mavericks and thus not involved in the Game 4 brawl in their 1998 Playoff series.

He came to the Knicks, and was a member of their 1999 Eastern Conference Champions. He should not be confused with the German composer or the American gymnast-turned-"actor" of the same name.

October 4, 1975, 40 years ago: Game 1 is played in both Leagues' Championship Series. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-3 at Riverfront Stadium, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 7-1 at Fenway Park. The winning pitchers are Don Gullett and Luis Tiant.

But it is a sad day in baseball. Indeed, it is a sad week. Just 5 days after the death of Casey Stengel, Joan Whitney Payson, founding owner of the Mets, dies in New York, at the age of 72. This was the worst thing that could happen to the team, as her daughter, Lorinda de Roulet, inherited the team, and let team president M. Donald Grant run it into the ground.

Mrs. Payson, a member of the old-money Whitney family (you may have visited the museum they founded), and a breeder of champion horses, was a member of the New York Giants' board of directors. With Grant acting as her proxy, she was the only boardmember to vote against them moving to San Francisco in 1957. So it made her the ideal person for the group trying to establish a new National League team in New York, led by high-profile lawyer William A. Shea, to approach to be the majority owner -- the first woman in such a role in baseball history who did not inherit the team from someone else.

It was her idea to hire former Yankee manager Casey Stengel as the Mets' 1st manager. It was also her idea to trade for Willie Mays in 1972, bringing the Giants' legend back to New York. These were great moves in terms of public relations. In terms of on-the-field success, not so much. It was also her idea that no Met should ever again wear Mays' Number 24; with a few brief exceptions, this edict has held, although it hasn't been officially retired.

Grant was already doing pretty much as he pleased as Mrs. Payson became old and ill, breaking up the team that won the 1969 World Series and the 1973 Pennant. He had already traded away Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones and Tug McGraw. After her death, he would trade away Rusty Staub, Jerry Koosman, and, most infamously, Tom Seaver. Shea Stadium's attendance dwindled so much, the Flushing Meadow amphitheatre became known as Grant's Tomb.

Finally, Mrs. de Roulet had enough, and fired Grant. In 1980, she sold the team to Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon, who rebuilt the team in to the one that won the 1986 World Series. In 1981, they established the New York Mets Hall of Fame. Mrs. Payson and original manager Casey Stengel were the first inductees.

In 2003, Bob Murphy, original Met broadcaster, retired. A ceremony was held at the last home game of the season. Mrs. Payson's name was cheered, and huge ovations went up for Seaver and members of the '86 Mets. Only 2 of the guests were booed: Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Mrs. de Roulet (who is still alive today). I was sitting close to see the look on her face. She still didn't understand why Met fans hated her. It was because she cared so little about the team. Her mother, the original "Lady Met," was loved because she cared so much.

October 4, 1976: Alicia Silverstone (no middle name) is born in San Francisco, and grows up in nearby Hillsborough, California. She once played a Batgirl, but that had nothing to do with baseball. Her best-known film is titled Clueless, but it had nothing to do with the managing style of Joe Girardi.

October 4, 1978: Kyle Matthew Lohse (pronounced "Lowsh," rhymes with "gauche") is born in Chico, California. He, current Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury, and former Yankee Joba Chamberlain are the only 3 non-Hispanic players of Native American ancestry currently active in the major leagues.

This past June 15, pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers, he beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, making him the 14th pitcher to have beaten all 30 MLB franchises. He closes the 2015 season with a career record of 147-141, including 16-3 with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, leading the NL with an .842 winning percentage.

He reached the postseason with the Minnesota Twins in 2002, '03, '04 and '06; the Phillies in 2007; and the Cardinals in 2011 (winning the World Series) and '12. At 37, he shows no signs of being willing to retire; though, having gone 5-13 with a 5.85 ERA this season, perhaps he should consider it.


October 4, 1980: Mike Schmidt‘s 2-run home run in the top of the 11th inning gives the Phillies a 6-4 win over the Montreal Expos‚ clinching the NL East title.

The home run is Schmidt’s 48th of the season‚ breaking Eddie Mathews‘s single-season record for 3rd basemen set in 1953. Alex Rodriguez would break that record, and Ryan Howard would break Schmidt’s franchise record for homers in a season.

On the same day, the Yankees clinch their 4th AL East title in 5 seasons‚ beating Detroit 5-2 in the 1st game of a doubleheader. Reggie Jackson hits his 41st home run of the season, and will share the AL home run crown with Milwaukee’s Ben Oglivie.

In a 17-1 rout of the Twins‚ Kansas City’s Willie Wilson becomes the 1st major league player ever to be credited with 700 at-bats in one season. Wilson will post 705 at bats‚ which remains the highest in the 20th Century. He also sets the AL record for singles in a season with 184‚ eclipsing the mark Sam Rice set in 1925.

Wilson also becomes only the 2nd player in history to collect 100 hits from each side of the plate‚ matching the feat accomplished by Garry Templeton the year before. The loss ends Minnesota’s club-record 12-game winning streak.

The Los Angeles Dodgers break a 1-1 tie on a 4th inning home run from Steve Garvey to beat the Houston Astros 2-1. Jerry Reuss outpitches Nolan Ryan. Houston now leads by 1 game with 1 to play.

LaMarr Hoyt pitches the Chicago White Sox to a win over the California Angels‚ 4-2 at Comiskey Park. But the big attraction is DH Minnie Minoso‚ 57 (or 54‚ as was later found out). Facing Frank Tanana for the 2nd time in 5 years‚ Minnie goes 0-for-2. His appearance‚ thanks to Bill Veeck‚ puts him in with Nick Altrock as a 5-decade man in the major leagues. His next appearance will be for the 1993 St. Paul Saints, run by Bill's son, Mike Veeck.

Also on this day, Tomáš Rosický is born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Known as "Little Mozart" the attacking midfielder starred for hometown club Sparta Prague, helping them win their League title in 1999 and 2000.

He moved on to German club Borussia Dortmund, leading them to the Bundesliga title in 2002. Playing for the Czech Republic, he scored 2 goals in a game against the U.S. at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

He was then sold to North London club Arsenal, upholding the tradition of great "Gunners" Number 7s as Joe Hulme, Freddie Cox, George Armstrong, Liam Brady, David Rocastle, David Platt and Robert Pires. For years, he struggled with injury, including missing big chunks of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. He scored a goal to give Arsenal a 1-0 win over North London arch-rivals Tottenham in a 2013 game, and helped them win the 2014 and 2015 FA Cups. He did not play in today's 3-0 win over Manchester United.

October 4, 1981: The Mets fire manager Joe Torre and his entire coaching staff. You can’t win without the horses, and, at the time, the Mets did not have the horses.

Also on this day, Freddie Lindstrom dies in Chicago, shortly before his 76th birthday. As a Giants rookie in 1924, a grounder by Earl McNeely hit a pebble and soared over his head, making him an unfair goat in the Washington Senators' 4-3 12th inning victory in Game 7 of the World Series.

Lindstrom made up for it, though, batting .311 in a 13-season career that would see him elected to the Hall of Fame. He won another Pennant with the 1935 Chicago Cubs. Ironically, the Chicago native grew up a White Sox fan. He later managed in the minor leagues, coached the baseball team at Northwestern University in Evanston, and became the postmaster in that town just north of Chicago.

His son Chuck Lindstrom played only 1 major league game, on September 28, 1958, an end-of-season meaningless game for the White Sox. Meaningless for everyone but him, through: He made 2 plate appearances, an RBI triple, and a walk and a run. Now 79 years old, and a former college baseball head coach like his father, he still holds the records (though unofficial, due to inadequate at bats over a career) for the highest slugging percentage (3.000) and OPS (4.000) in major league history over an entire career. Along with John Paciorek, who went 3-for-3 in an end-of-season game for the 1963 Houston Colt .45's (Astros) he has the distinction of having had one of the best one-game careers in the history of baseball.

October 4, 1982: Anthony Keith Gwynn Jr. is born in Long Beach, California, and grows up in the San Diego suburb of Poway. The son of San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn, he debuted as an outfielder with the 2006 Milwaukee Brewers. He played for the Padres, Dodgers and Phillies, and is now in the Washington Nationals' minor-league system. His lifetime batting average is .238, well short of his dad's, but he did play in the postseason with the Brewers in 2008.

October 4, 1983: Kurt Kiyoshi Suzuki is born in Wailuki, Hawaii. A catcher with the Minnesota Twins, he reached the postseason with the 2012 Nationals.

October 4, 1985, 30 years ago: The Mets beat the Montreal Expos 9-4, but it's no use, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-2, and are now 2 games up in the National League East with 3 to play.

The Yankees begin their biggest regular-season series in 5 years, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. If they can sweep this 3-game series against the Blue Jays, they will win the American League East; if they lose any, it's over.

Jimmy Key, later a Yankee star that many fans have forgotten, starts for the Jays. Ed Whitson, a pitcher many Yankee Fans would like to forget, starts for the Yanks. Neither figures in the decision, and the Jays lead 3-2 going into the 9th inning.

But Butch Wynegar ties it with a 9th inning home run off Toronto closer Tom Henke, a.k.a. "The Exterminator." It sails over the right field fence and bouncing on the artificial turf of the football field past the pathetic little high school-style scoreboard the Big X had. Watching on WPIX-Channel 11, I let out a scream that can be heard all the way in Toronto.

A Bobby Meacham single, a Rickey Henderson walk, and an error with Don Mattingly up gives the Yankees a 4-3 win. Rod Scurry is the winning pitcher for the Yankees.

"The Butch Wynegar Game" is set up to be one of my favorite games ever -- if, that is, the Yankees can win the next 2.

October 4, 1986: On the next-to-last day of the season‚ Dave Righetti saves both ends of the Yankees‘ doubleheader sweep of the Red Sox, 5-3 and 3-1, to give him a major league record 46 saves. Bruce Sutter and Dan Quisenberry had shared the record with 45.

The record is now 62 by Francisco Rodriguez in 2008. For a lefthander, it’s 53 by Randy Myers in 1993, and for a Yankee it’s 53 by Mariano Rivera in 2004.

October 4, 1987: On the last day of the regular season‚ Detroit beats 2nd-place Toronto 1-0 at Tiger Stadium to win the AL East title. The Tigers were one game behind the Blue Jays entering their 3-game season-ending showdown‚ and won each game by a single run (4-3‚ 3-2‚ and 1-0). Frank Tanana outduels Jimmy Key in the finale‚ and Larry Herndon‘s 2nd-inning home run provides the game’s only run.

The Jays had been up by 4 with 7 to go, and blew it. This collapse, on top of their choke in the 1985 ALCS, gives them the nickname "Blow Jays," and they will take until 1992 to get rid of it.

Also on this day, Charlie Hough of the Texas Rangers makes his 40th start of the season. No pitcher has been allowed to accomplish this since, not even a knuckleballer like Hough. The Rangers lose to the Seattle Mariners, 7-4 at Arlington Stadium.

October 4, 1988: Game 1 of the NLCS. Finally, after 31 seasons, the half (I'm being charitable here) of New York that wanted revenge on the O'Malley family for moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles has its chance.

The Dodgers lead the Mets 2-0 going into the 9th inning. But rookie Gregg Jefferies leads off with a single, advances to 2nd on a groundout, and Darryl Strawberry doubles off Orel Hershiser to score him.

Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda brings in closer Jay Howell, who walks Kevin McReynolds, strikes out Howard Johnson, and gives up a game-tying single to Gary Carter. McReynolds also tries to score, and knocks the ball away from Mike Scioscia to score the winning run. Mets 3, Dodgers 2.

After the game, David Cone, in a postseason diary he's been hired to write for the New York Daily News, unfavorably compares Howell to both Met closer Randy Myers and high school pitchers. The Dodgers get mad when they see it the next day... and Cone is the Mets' starter for Game 2.

Also on this day, Derrick Martell Rose is born in Chicago. He's played with his hometown Bulls since 2008, the 1st pick in that year's NBA Draft, and was NBA Most Valuable Player in 2011. That season, he got the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals for the 1st time since 1998 -- the 1st time without Michael Jordan since 1975.

But D-Rose has he's been plagued by injury ever since, and it's questionable whether he will play in the 2015-16 season at all.

October 4, 1989: Secretariat dies of laminitis at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. The greatest racehorse of all time, winner of the 1973 Triple Crown, was 19.

On the same day, Dakota Mayi Johnson is born in Austin, Texas. Granddaughter of Tippi Hedren, and daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, she recently starred in a film about a woman who accepts a masochistic relationship. I think it was titled Fifty Shades of Ivy: A Cub Fan's Lament.


October 4, 1991: The expansion San Jose Sharks play their 1st regular-season game, the 1st by a NHL team from the San Francisco Bay Area since April 4, 1976 (a 5-2 win by the Oakland-based California Golden Seals over the Los Angeles Kings).

California native Craig Cox scores the franchise's 1st regulation goal, but they lose to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3 at the Pacific Coliseum.

October 4, 1995, 20 years ago: Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium. It begins at 8:06 PM with Phil Rizzuto throwing out a ceremonial first ball. It includes home runs by Ken Griffey Jr. and Vince Coleman for the Seattle Mariners, and, for the Yankees, Ruben Sierra, Don Mattingly (ABC announcer Gary Thorne: "Aw, hang onto the roof! Goodbye, home run!"), Paul O'Neill and, at 1:22 AM, in the bottom of the 15th inning, through the rain, Jim Leyritz. Yankees 7, Mariners 5.

It is the first postseason walkoff at Yankee Stadium since Chris Chambliss, 19 years earlier. The Yankees lead the M’s 2 games to 0, and need just 1 win in Seattle to take the series. But they won’t get it.

October 4, 1999: The Mets whitewash the Reds‚ 5-0‚ to become the NL’s wild card team. Al Leiter hurls a complete game 2-hitter for the win. Rey Ordonez plays his 100th consecutive errorless game, a record for shortstops.


October 4, 2001: Rickey Henderson hits a home run for the San Diego Padres, allowing him to score his 2,246th career run, passing Ty Cobb as baseball’s all-time leader. The Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-3 at Jack Murphy Stadium.

On the same day, Tim Raines Sr. plays left field for the Baltimore Orioles, while Tim Raines Jr. plays center field for them. It is only the 2nd time, and there has never been a 3rd, that a father and son have played in the same major league game. The first was Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. in 1990. The Orioles lost to the Red Sox, 5-4 at Camden Yards.

October 4, 2002: The Yankees blow a 6-1 lead as the Angels bounce back for a 9-6 victory, and a 2 games to 1 lead in their Division Series. Tim Salmon and Adam Kennedy homer for Anaheim, and Francisco Rodriguez again gets the win in relief.

October 4, 2003: For the 1st time in 95 years, the Chicago Cubs win a postseason series. They beat the Atlanta Braves 5-1 at Turner Field, and win their NL Division Series in 5 games.

On the same day, at Pro Player (now Sun Life) Stadium in the Miami suburbs, Jeff Conine fields Jeffrey Hammonds' single, and throws to Ivan Rodriguez, who survives a collision with J.T. Snow, for the final out of the Florida Marlins' 7-6 win over the San Francisco Giants, winning their Division Series in 4 games.

The Red Sox beat the A’s, 3-1, on Trot Nixon’s walkoff homer in the 11th inning at Fenway Park. This forces a 5th game in their ALCS.

October 4, 2010: The Mets fire field manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya. Firing Minaya was something they should have done at least 2 years earlier.

October 4, 2012: At the conclusion of their worst season in 47 years, the Red Sox fire Bobby Valentine as manager. He had restored his reputation by managing in Japan, but had ruined it again with the Red Sox.  Somehow, I don’t think he’ll ever get hired to manage another team… at least, not on this continent.

October 4, 2014: The longest game in postseason history by time, 6 hours and 23 minutes, is Game 2 of the NLDS between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. It also ties the record for longest game by innings, as Brandon Belt hits a home run in the top of the 18th, giving the Giants a 2-1 victory.

Also on this day, Fyodor Cherenkov dies in Moscow, as a result of complications from a head injury sustained in a fall. He was only 55 years old. The midfielder had helped Moscow soccer team Spartak win the Soviet Top League in 1979, 1987 and 1989, and the Russian Premier League in 1993 and the Russian Cup in 1994. "Fedya" was named Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1983 and 1989. He was coaching the Spartak youth teams at the time of his death.

Because of the decline of Soviet football from its 1960s heights (winning the 1st European Championship in 1960 and finishing 3rd at the 1966 World Cup), Cherenkov never played in a World Cup. But English fans noticed him because he led Spartak to defeat Arsenal at Highbury in 1982 and Aston Villa at Villa Park in 1983, both in UEFA Cup matches.

In his book Spartak: A History of the People's Team in the Workers' State, Robert Edelman described him as "the longest-serving and most beloved of all Spartakovsky":

Navigating between midfield and forward, he played with an originality and eccentricity that endeared him to the public. Cherenkov was an enigmatic and fragile personality whose capacity for unexpected improvisation fit the Spartak image of the player as romantic artist. A true original, he was the embodiment of what many of Spartak's male Moscow supporters liked to believe about themselves. Lacking great speed but quick on his feet, small of stature but possessed of great guile, Cherenkov seemed to practice a new kind of masculinity, that of the urban trickster. By the time his Spartak career was over, he was the leading point producer (goal plus pass) in the team's history.

Michael Yokhin, a Russian who writes on soccer for ESPN, eulogized him on their web page:

Fyodor Cherenkov was the ultimate Russian legend, the most idolized player of all time, and the greatest artist imaginable. He was a ray of light in a ruthless and cynical world, a source of pure joy, and a reminder how people should behave. His death at the age of 55 is a great loss.

Cherenkov was loved by everyone, which is surprising, considering he was a Spartak Moscow hero. They are the most popular team in Russia, and thus, naturally, one of the most hated.

Usually, their players are loathed by Dynamo Kiev, CSKA (Moscow) and Zenit (St. Petersburg) fans, but not Cherenkov. He was universally admired, and Spartak away games were celebrated all over the country as people just wanted to go and watch him play.

statue of Cherenkov has been erected at the team's newly opened Otkrytie Stadium, and one of its stands bears his name.


Rebecca Davis said...

Hi! What a nice surprise to see the Blind Owl, Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, mentioned on a sports blog! He was a baseball fan as well as a musical genius - thanks for remembering him along with the other rockers you mentioned. You can read a bit about his sports interests at the family tribute website,, and for the full bio you can always check out my site at Thanks again and as they always said in Canned Heat, don't forget to boogie!!!

Unknown said...

Great blog a lot of research and interesting commentary. (For the record, the front page Daily News drawing of the bum that appeared the day after the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series was not by Willard Mullin - the cartoonist was Leo O'Mealia.)