Thursday, September 30, 2021

September 30, 1973, The Last Game at the Pre-Renovation Yankee Stadium

September 30, 1973: The last game is played at Yankee Stadium before its renovation. The Yankees lose 8-5 to the Detroit Tigers.

The renovation was necessary, not because the Mets were talking about how much better Shea Stadium was, but because there were actual structural issues. The institution of Bat Day led to kids sitting in the upper deck, banging their bats on the floor, weakening the stadium structure.

So Mayor John Lindsay negotiated a deal in which the Department of Parks of the City of New York, which already owned Shea, bought both Yankee Stadium and the land on which it sat -- previously owned by separate entities -- and would renovate it, to reopen in time for the 1976 season. The Yankees would play the 1974 and '75 seasons at Shea.

This also forced the football Giants out of Yankee Stadium after 2 games, a 34-14 win over the Houston Oilers on September 16, and a 23-23 tie with the Philadelphia Eagles on September 23. The rest of their home schedule for 1973, and all of it for 1974, would be played 70 miles to the northeast, at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.

Lindsay, angry that the Giants had already negotiated a deal to build a stadium in the Meadowlands of New Jersey, in time for the 1976 season, denied them the use of Shea, so they had to look elsewhere. So they made the deal to play '73 and '74 at the Yale Bowl. Lindsay's successor, Abe Beame, had no such grudge, and allowed the Giants to play the 1975 season at Shea -- meaning that it was hosting both of New York's MLB teams and both of its NFL teams at the same time.

(In other words: In 1975, the New York Tri-State Area had 8 teams playing in 3 buildings: Shea Stadium had the Yankees, the Mets, the Giants and the Jets; Madison Square Garden had the Knicks and the Rangers; and the Nassau Coliseum had the Nets and the Islanders. In 2021, with the Devils making it 9 teams, they are playing in 7 separate buildings.)

In order to avoid the kind of damage that fans had done to other ballparks in their recent closures, the Monuments were removed from center field, and the Plaques from the wall, before the game.

Duane "Duke" Sims, catching in the last game at the pre-renovation Stadium instead of Thurman Munson, hits the last home run, off Fred Holdsworth in the 7th inning. But Lindy McDaniel, in relief of Fritz Peterson, implodes in the 8th inning, allowing 6 runs, making a winning pitcher of John Hiller.

The last play is 1st baseman Mike Hegan hitting a fly ball to, appropriately, center field, once patrolled by Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. This one is caught by the Tigers' Mickey Stanley.

Attendance: 32,238, in a Stadium whose capacity was then listed as 65,010.

For all the greats who had played in Yankee Stadium, the only future Hall-of-Famer who played in this game was the Tigers' Al Kaline.

After the game, Yankee manager Ralph Houk resigns, tired of the meddling of the team's 1st-year owner, George Steinbrenner. George finds it difficult finding a replacement, as he tries to hire Dick Williams, who had quit as manager of the World Champion Oakland Athletics. A's owner Charlie Finley contended that Williams couldn't manage anywhere else as long as his contract with him was running. So George hired former Pittsburgh Pirate manager Bill Virdon. Houk was signed to manage the Tigers.

The next day, the renovation began. Claire Ruth, the Babe's widow, was given home plate. Eleanor Gehrig, Lou's widow, was given the 1st base that was used in the last game.

The 1923-73 version of Yankee Stadium saw 27 Pennants and 20 World Championships in 51 seasons. (The 1st 2 Yankee Pennants, 1921 and '22, came at the Polo Grounds.) It also hosted 3 NFL Championship Games in the pre-Super Bowl era: 1956, when the Giants beat the Chicago Bears; 1958, when the Giants lost to the Baltimore Colts in an overtime classic that has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Played"; and 1962, when the Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers.

It also hosted the Army-Navy Game in 1930 and '31; and 22 Army-Notre Dame games, including 1928, when Knute Rockne told his team to "Win one for the Gipper," and they did; and 1946, when both teams came in undefeated, and left that way, a "Game of the Century" that didn't live up to the hype, ending 0-0. And it hosted a long run of boxing champions, from Jack Dempsey to Floyd Patterson, including Joe Louis' 1938 knockout of Max Schmeling.

Remaining with the team until 1980, shortstop Fred Stanley was the last Yankee who had played a home game at the pre-renovation Stadium, although center fielder Bobby Murcer would be traded away and reacquired, playing his last game on June 11, 1983, nearly 10 years later.


September 30, 1973 was a Sunday. Other Major League Baseball games played on this day:

* The New York Mets split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won the opener 1-0, with Rick Reuschel and Bob Locker combining for an 8-hit shutout. In the nightcap, Jerry Koosman was backed by 3 hits from Rusty Staub, 2 each by Wayne Garrett and Felix Millan, and a home run by Cleon Jones, as the Mets won 9-2.

The regular season should have been over, but the National League Eastern Division race was a wild one that no one seemed to want to win. The Mets ended the day 1 game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, a game and a half ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3 ahead of the Montreal Expos, and 4 ahead of the Cubs -- who finished closer to the Mets this time than they had in their in famous 1969 "September Swoon."

But because of rainouts, the race still wasn't decided. The Cards had completed their schedule, but the Mets had 2 games left to play, the Pirates won. It was still possible for any of the 3 to win the Division.

* Because the Cardinals had beaten the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-1 at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

* And the Pirates had beaten the Expos, 10-2 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The next day, the Pirates would play a rainout makeup against the San Diego Padres at home, while the Mets would stay at Wrigley and play another doubleheader with the Cubs.

The Mets won the opener, 6-4, and clinched the Division. Until the 1986 Pennant, this would remain their only clincher on the road. (The 1969 and 1986 Division titles, the 1969 and 1973 Pennants, and the 1969 World Series win would all occur at Shea.) They beat the Cubs, and barely beat the rain, which canceled the nightcap, which was now unnecessary. It was made more so when the Pirates lost 4-3 to the Padres.

* Elsewhere on September 30, the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-3 at Atlanta Stadium. (It was renamed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium the next season.) Hank Aaron got 3 hits, but none of them was a home run, so he finished the season with 713 career home runs. It would be a long off-season before he got the chance to break the career record then held by Babe Ruth. He hit Number 714 on April 4 in Cincinnati, and then Number 715 on April 8 at home to Los Angeles.

* The Boston Red Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-2 at Fenway Park in Boston.

* The San Francisco Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

* The California Angels beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0 at Anaheim Stadium (now Angel Stadium). Frank Tanana pitched a 2-hit shutout, outdueling Bert Blyleven.

* The Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals, 3-0 at Arlington Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas. Pete Broberg allowed 7 hits, but kept the shutout.

* And the Chicago White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics, 1-0 at the Oakland Coliseum. The ChiSox won it in the top of the 10th, on a bases-loaded walk drawn by shortstop Russell "Bucky" Dent, who would later write his name in Yankee history. Speaking of which: Reggie Jackson did not play for the A's, but Catfish Hunter started, and did not get the decision. The A's would go on to beat the Mets in the World Series.

And there were NFL games played on the day:

* The New York Giants lost to the Cleveland Browns, 13-10 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The New York Jets lost to the Buffalo Bills, 9-7. It was the Bills' 1st game at their new stadium, south of the city, in suburban Orchard Park, New York. Originally known as Rich Stadium, for the Rich family of meat-product producers, O.J. Simpson and his teammates beat the Jets, 9-7.

The stadium will be renamed Ralph Wilson Stadium for the team's founding owner in 1998, and, in 2015, was renamed New Era Field, as naming rights were bought by the New Era sports cap company. But New Era asked to be let out of the agreement earlier this year. It was renamed Highmark Stadium this year.

* The Washington Redskins beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 28-7 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

* The Baltimore Colts beat the New Orleans Saints, 13-10 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

* The Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots, 44-23 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

* The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Houston Oilers, 36-7 at the Astrodome in Houston.

* The Dallas Cowboys beat the football version of the St. Louis Cardinals, 45-10 at Texas Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas.

* The Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers, 11-3 at Metropolitan Stadium in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota.

* The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders, 16-3 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

* The Chicago Bears beat the Denver Broncos, 33-14 at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

* The Cincinnati Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers, 20-13 at San Diego Stadium.

* The Los Angeles Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers, 40-20 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

* The next day, on Monday Night Football, the Detroit Lions beat the Atlanta Falcons, 31-6 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

Wild Card Race, Among Other Things, Tightening

Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight, if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks, you'd have a diamond.
-- Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), Ferris Bueller's Day Off

The Yankees went into last night's game with the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in great shape. If Gerrit Cole had pitched like he usually does, it would have put the Yankees inches away from clinching the American League Wild Card race.

But, as Joe Garagiola put it, "Baseball is a funny game." Cole allowed 5 runs in 6 innings. He did strike out 6 batters, to give him 243 on the season. This means that, unless you starts on Sunday (3 days' rest not a good idea), he has finished the regular season with, in addition to a 16-8 record, the 2nd-highest strikeout total in Yankee history, behind the 248 of Ron Guidry in 1978.

The Yankees bailed him out, though. They trailed 4-0 after 4 innings and 5-2 after 5. But they tied the game 5-5 in the 7th. But Clay Holmes, who has been pretty good so far, served up a home run to Bo Bichette to give the Jays a 6-5 win.

So here's how things stand: The Yankees hold the lead by 1 game, over the Boston Red Sox; the Seattle Mariners are half a game behind, and the Jays a half-game behind that. The race is tightening.

Tonight, Corey Kluber starts the finale of the Jays series, against Robbie Ray, one of the favorites for the AL Cy Young Award. The Red Sox finish their series with the Baltimore Orioles, and the O's gave us a huge help by beating the Sox on Monday. The Mariners are not scheduled to play.

Then, tomorrow, the last series of the regular season begins. The Yankees play at home to the Tampa Bay Rays, who clinched the best record in the AL last night, and might not seem to have anything to play for, but would love to knock the Yankees down, if only for spite. That's the kind of organization they are.

And if we can't count on Cole to pitch well -- and he wouldn't be available, anyway -- well, and they said in Star Wars, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

The Red Sox play away to the Washington Nationals, a team they should be able to handle. The Jays host the O's, giving them the easiest remaining schedule of the 4. And the Mariners play at home to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Mariners' finale won't be until 9:10 PM Pacific Time, so we might not know for sure where the Yankees stand even at midnight.

September 30, 1996: Arsène-al

September 30, 1996, 25 years ago: His contract with Japanese soccer team Nagoya Grampus Eight having run out, Arsène Wenger is free to manage another team, and he officially takes charge as manager of Arsenal Football Club of North London.

Wenger wasn't much of a player, winning Ligue 1 as a defensive midfielder at his hometown club, Racing Club Strasbourg Alsace (usually just listed as "Strasbourg"), in 1979. But as manager of AS Monaco, which is in the French league even though Monaco is a separate (but tiny) country, he won Ligue 1 in 1988 and the national cup, the Coupe de France, in 1991. He led Nagoya to Japan's national cup, the Emperor's Cup, in 1995.

Just short of his 47th birthday, and already successful as a manager, he seemed like a good choice for The Arsenal, who had won 6 trophies from 1987 to 1994, but had struggled in the Premier League, finishing 10th in 1993, 4th in 1994, 12th in 1995, and 5th in 1996.

But, at the time, it was rare for a manager not from the British Isles to manage in England. One newspaper printed the headline, "ARSENE WHO?" No less a personage than Arsenal's captain, centreback Tony Adams, asked, "What does this Frenchman know about English football?"

Wenger knew enough to know that Adams had recently made a public admission of being a recovering alcoholic. He straightened out the team's diet (including no booze the night before a game) and exercise program.

He also brought in several European players, including fellow Frenchmen Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Nicolas Anelka, and Dutchman Marc Overmars. Together with already-present Dutch star Dennis Bergkamp, and the club's English core of Adams, David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown, David Platt, Ray Parlour and the legendary striker Ian Wright, in 1996-97, he finished his 1st season in charge in 3rd place. In 1998, he won the Premier League and the FA Cup, a.k.a. "doing The Double."

He finished runner-up in both in 1999, and Anelka, only 19 years old, thought his performances demanded a big raise, or a sale to a bigger club. Wenger sold him to Real Madrid, and used half the profits to build a new training ground, and the other half to buy young French winger Thierry Henry, whom he converted into a striker, who broke Wright's club record for career goals.

Wenger would also sign a great pair of wingers in Sweden's Freddie Ljungberg (in 1998) and France's Robert Pires (in 2000), develop great young defenders in Ashley Cole and Kolo Toure, and make the stunning acquisition (in 2001) of English centreback Sol Campbell, who had been captain of Arsenal's North London arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

Wenger finished 2nd and lost the UEFA Cup Final in 2000, finished 2nd and lost the FA Cup Final in 2001, won The Double again in 2002, finished 2nd and won another FA Cup in 2003, and, in the 2003-04 season, did something that had not been done since the League had only a 22-game season: He went unbeaten. As the broadcaster Jon Champion (appropriately named for the occasion) said after it was achieved: "Played 38, won 26, drawn 12, lost exactly none!" He would win another FA Cup in 2005, and reach the Final of the UEFA Champions League in 2006.

But the Arsenal Stadium, nicknamed Highbury after its neighborhood, only seated 38,000, and its east and west stands had been built in the 1930s. A modern stadium was needed if Arsenal was to compete, but paying for it meant that transactions needed to be made, perhaps sacrificing trophies for expediency.

The new Emirates Stadium opened in 2006, and here's what happened: Arsenal lost the League Cup Final in 2007, finished 2nd in the League in 2008, reached the Semifinals of the Champion League and the FA Cup in 2009, lost the League Cup Final in 2011, just barely scraped into Champions League qualification in 2012 and 2013, were struck by several injuries in just about every season, and had to sell several players because of financial concerns: Vieira in 2005, Pires in 2006, Henry in 2007, Manuel Almunia and Gilberto Silva in 2008, Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor in 2009, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in 2011, and Robin van Persie in 2012.

But Wenger built another great team: Signing Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky in 2006, Bacary Sagna in 2007, Aaron Ramsey in 2008, Laurent Koscielny in 2010, Per Mertesacker and Héctor Bellerín in 2011, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla in 2012, Mesut Özil and Nacho Monreal in 2013, Alexis
Sánchez in 2014, Petr Čech in 2015, Mohamed Elneny in this year's January transfer window, and Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi in 2016. The result has been continuous Champions League knockout round qualification, and the FA Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Wenger is known for his clichés, which seem a little grammatically odd when they move from his French mind to his English words: A player who is good, "He has the quality"; if he's smart, "He has the mental strength"; if he's unsure of himself, "He lacks the confidence"; and dropping the qualifier "a little bit" into phrases, i.e., "He lacked a little bit the confidence." He doesn't like it when opposing players foul his, but when one of his players is charged, he tells the media, "I did not see it."

Whereas some managers want to win in the worst way, Wenger wanted to win in the best way. He is a remarkable man, an idealist in a cynical age. I hope he will not turn out to be the last such idealist.

He left Arsenal at the end of the 2017-18 season, after 22 years in charge, 3 League titles, 7 FA Cups, the new stadium, and with a world-class setup in place. His critics are glad he is gone, but the next manager, Unai Emery, squandered what Wenger left him. One of Wenger's former Captains, Mikel Arteta, has picked up the pieces.


September 30, 1861, 160 years ago: William Mills Wrigley Jr. is born in Philadelphia. His father sold soap, but he didn't want to sell soap. In 1891, at 29, with $32 (about $994 in today's money), he moved to Chicago, and sold... soap. He managed to get his hands on some baking powder, and found it sold better than soap. In 1893, he began giving his customers 2 packages of chewing gum for each can of powder, and found that this was more popular still. Thus was born the Wrigley chewing gum empire.

By 1916, he was fabulously wealthy, and bought part-ownership of the Chicago Cubs. As the other part-owners' businesses failed, he bought them out, and by 1925, he was sole owner. That same year, for the Cubs' top farm team, the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, he built a stadium that was a near-duplicate for Cubs Park. He named it Wrigley Field. He soon renamed Cubs Park "Wrigley Field" -- so L.A. had a Wrigley Field before Chicago had one, even though the Chicago park was older.

He developed Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of L.A., as a resort and a nature preserve. For a while, the Cubs had their Spring Training there. In 1924, he built the Wrigley Building, on North Michigan Avenue, overlooking the Chicago River. In 1931, he built the Wrigley Mansion and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, leading him to move the Cubs' Spring Training to Phoenix. The Cubs have trained in the Phoenix area ever since, and William Wrigley is thus the founding father of Spring Training in Arizona, a.k.a. the Cactus League.

But he didn't enjoy his Mansion long, dying in 1932 at age 70. Under his ownership, the Cubs won Pennants in 1918 and 1929, but no World Series. His son, Philip K. Wrigley, owned the gum company and the Cubs until his death in 1977. His son, William Wrigley III, sold the Cubs to the Tribune Company in 1981. His son, William Wrigley Jr. II, a.k.a. Bill Wrigley, about to turn 56, is executive chairman of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, but is retired as CEO. The family no longer owns any piece of the Cubs.

September 30, 1921, 100 years ago: Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer is born in Glasgow, Scotland. A magnificent redhead, Deborah Kerr starred in From Here to Eternity, The King and I, An Affair to Remember, and many other classic films. She lived until 2007.

September 30, 1922: The University of Alabama defeats Marion Military Institute of Marion, Alabama, in football, 110-0. It is the highest point total, and the highest margin of victory, in the long and glorious history of Crimson Tide football.

Also on this day, the Yankees clinch their 2nd American League Pennant, and their 2nd straight. They beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1 at Fenway Park, to eliminate the St. Louis Browns, who probably had their best team ever, a more talented one than the 1944 team that won the only Browns Pennant.

September 30, 1945: Hank Greenberg, recently discharged from the U.S. Army, hits a grand slam off Nelson Potter in the top of the 9th inning, and gives the Detroit Tigers a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman's Park, clinching the American League Pennant, which the Browns had won the previous season, for the only time in their history.

September 30, 1946, 75 years ago: Bernardus Adriaan Hulshoff is born in Deventer, Netherlands. We know him as Barry Hulshoff. Playing for Amsterdam soccer team AFC Ajax, the centreback won 7 national league (Eredivisie) titles, 4 national cups (KNVB Beker), and 3 straight European Cups (the tournament now known as the UEFA Champions League), in 1971, '72 and '73.

Despite his playing pedigree, he only played 14 times for the Netherlands national team, and never made their World Cup squad. He later managed Ajax and several teams in the Netherlands and Belgium, and died this past February 16.

September 30, 1947: Game 1 of the World Series. The Brooklyn Dodgers have won the Pennant, and, all together, Jackie Robinson and his 24 white teammates, stand on the 3rd-base line at Yankee Stadium, hearing the National Anthem.

Jackie would write in his memoir I Never Had It Made that this was the highlight of his career: It was not only that he had played in the white major leagues, but that he had been accepted by his teammates, and, together, they had succeeded. They were the National League Champions.

But they still had a World Series to play, in front of 73,365 people -- over twice the capacity of Ebbets Field. Dodger Captain Pee Wee Reese scores all the way from 2nd base on a wild pitch by rookie starter Frank "Spec" Shea in the 7th inning. But that's the only real highlight for the Dodgers, as the Yankees batter 21-year-old 21-game winner Ralph Branca for 5 runs in the 5th, and go on to win 5-3.

Also on this day, Mark Feld (no middle name) is born in Stoke Newington, East London. We knew him as Marc Bolan, lead singer of the "glam rock" band T. Rex. His songs "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" and "20th Century Boy" became classics in the early 1970s. I still don't know what "Well, you're built like a car, you got a hubcap-diamond-star halo" means, but it sounds like a cool thing to say to a girl.

He was killed in a car crash in Barnes, Southwest London in 1977. He had never learned to drive, and the Mini 1275GT was driven by his girlfriend, American soul singer Gloria Jones, the mother of his son Rolan Bolan. Earlier this year, long overdue, he was posthumously elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the 2006 British TV series Life On Mars, Sam Tyler (Jon Simm), a present-day cop in Manchester, England somehow sent back to 1973, meets Bolan (William Matheson) at a music club. Forgetting that Bolan wasn't the driver, he warns Bolan, "Drive carefully, especially in Minis."

In the U.S. version that aired in the 2008-09 season, Sam (here, a New York cop played by Irish actor Jason O'Mara) meets Jim Croce (Don Puglisi), and, knowing that he'll be killed in a plane crash within weeks, warns him about small planes, while "Get It On" by T. Rex plays.

September 30, 1950: As they had 28 years to the day earlier, the Yankees clinch the Pennant at Fenway Park, beating the Red Sox 6-5. Yogi Berra hits a home run, and Tommy Byrne outpitches Mel Parnell. 

September 30, 1951, 70 years ago: After being 13 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers on August 11, the New York Giants think they have the Pennant won, as they beat the Boston Braves 3-2 at Braves Field in Boston. The hero, with a home run, is 3rd baseman Bobby Thomson.

But the Dodgers, having blown that huge lead, aren't done yet. At Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Jackie Robinson makes a sensational catch at 2nd base in the bottom of the 12th inning, then hits a home run in the top of the 14th, and the Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-8. There will be a best-2-out-of-3 Playoff for the National League Pennant, starting the next day.

A coin is tossed to determine home-field advantage. The Dodgers win the toss -- and elect to host Game 1 at Ebbets Field, thus letting the Giants host Games 2 and 3 at the Polo Grounds. This will turn out to be one of the greatest blunders in the history of baseball.

In the meantime, the American League Champions, the Yankees, wait to see whom they will face in the World Series. Mickey Mantle, the Yankees' rookie right fielder their center fielder in waiting, asks his teammates who he should root for. He's told it should be the Giants, since Ebbets Field seats only 31,000 people, while the Polo Grounds seats 56,000, and the gate receipts, and thus the winners' share, will be much bigger if the Giants win.

Johnny Sain is the winning pitcher. The Yankees gave up Lew Burdette to get Sain from the Boston Braves. Burdette would help the Braves, by then in Milwaukee, drive the Yankees crazy in the 1957 and '58 Series. But Sain helped the Yankees big-time, so it was an even trade.

September 30, 1956: The Brooklyn Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-6 at Ebbets Field, and clinch the National League Pennant. Duke Snider and Sandy Amoros each hit 2 home runs. Jackie Robinson adds 1, Vern Law is knocked out of the box in the 1st inning, and Don Newcombe gets the win.

As it turns out, Jackie's home run is the last he will hit, and this is the last Pennant won by a National League team in New York City for 13 years.

Also on this day, Mickey Mantle finishes a season in which he batted .353, hit 52 home runs, and had 130 RBIs. He led both Leagues in all 3 categories, and that hasn't happened since. He was the 2nd Yankee, after Gehrig, to win the Triple Crown. None has done it since. Babe Ruth didn't do it. Nor did Joe DiMaggio, nor Reggie Jackson, nor Don Mattingly, nor Derek Jeter, nor Alex Rodriguez.

Also on this day, the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-4 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Wayne Belardi hits a home run, and Billy Hoeft wins his 20th game of the season.

The losing pitcher is Bob Feller, who falls to 0-4 on the season, and 266-162 for his career, with 2,581 strikeouts, despite missing nearly 4 full seasons due to military service. Nearly 38, this is the last major league appearance for perhaps the best pitcher of his generation. It is interesting that it happens on the 29th Anniversary of Walter Johnson's last appearance.


September 30, 1964: The Philadelphia Phillies complete what remains the most stunning regular-season collapse in Major League Baseball history, losing their 10th straight game, losing 8-5 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium (formerly Sportsman's Park) in St. Louis. Tim McCarver hits a home run for the Cards, while Alex Johnson hits one for the Phils.

Ironically, the winning pitcher for the Cards is Curt Simmons, whose drafting into the Korean War in 1950 cost him the chance to pitch for the Phils in their last World Series to this point, in 1950.

Going into the games of September 21, the Phillies led the National League by 6 1/2 games. Now, they are 2 1/2 behind the Cardinals, while the Cincinnati Reds are 1 game back. The Phils have 2 games left, the Cards 3, the Reds 4. The Phils could still win the Pennant if they win their last 2 games, although a 3-way tie for the Pennant is still possible.

Also on this day, Monica Anna Maria Bellucci is born in Città di Castello, Umbria, in Central Italy. One of the most beautiful actresses of her generation, in 2015 she played Lucia Sciarra in the James Bond film Spectre, making her, at 51, the oldest "Bond Girl" ever. She still has the face and the body for it.

September 30, 1966: The Yankees lose 6-5 to the Chicago White Sox in 11 innings at Comiskey Park. In the 9th inning, Roger Maris pinch-hits for Dooley Womack -- yes, the Dooley Womack -- and hits a home run. But a single by Johnny Romano drives in Wayne Causey, and makes a 20-game loser out of Mel Stottlemyre.

This drops the Yankees' record to 68-89, and assures that they will finish in 10th place in the single-division American League. This is the 1st time in 54 years that the Yankees have finished in last place. They have only done so once more, in 1990.

After the season, the final insult of the Webb-Topping regime -- they sold their last shares to CBS soon after -- was delivered, trading Roger even-up to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charlie Smith. And if you're asking, "Who?" I'm answering, "Exactly."

September 30, 1972: The Mets lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-0 at Three Rivers Stadium. Roberto Clemente hits a double off Jon Matlack, for his 3,000th career hit. A quote, which may be apocryphal given what happened 3 months later, suggests Roberto's determination: "I have to get that hit this year. I might die."

September 30, 1973: The last game is played at Yankee Stadium before its renovation. The Yankees lose 8-5 to the Detroit Tigers. Duke Sims hits the last home run, but Lindy McDaniel implodes in the 8th inning, allowing 6 runs, making a winning pitcher of John Hiller. The last play is Mike Hegan hitting a fly ball to, appropriately, center field, once patrolled by Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, this ball caught by Mickey Stanley. Attendance: 32,238, in a Stadium whose capacity was then listed as 65,010.

Lasting until 1980, Fred Stanley was the last remaining Yankee who had played a home game at the pre-renovation Stadium, although Bobby Murcer had been traded away and reacquired, and played his last game on June 11, 1983, nearly 10 years later.

After the game, manager Ralph Houk resigns, tired of the meddling of the team's 1st-year owner, George Steinbrenner. The next day, the renovation begins. Claire Ruth, the Babe's widow, receives home plate. Eleanor Gehrig, Lou's widow, receives the 1st base that was used in the last game. The Yankees will play the 1974 and '75 seasons at Shea Stadium, and Yankee Stadium will reopen on April 15, 1976, and will remain open until September 21, 2008.

The 1923-73 version of The Stadium saw 27 Pennants and 20 World Championships in 51 seasons -- the 1st 2 Yankee Pennants coming at the Polo Grounds. The 1976-2008 version saw 10 Pennants and 6 World Championships in 33 seasons.

Also on this day, the Buffalo Bills play their 1st game at their new stadium, south of the city, in suburban Orchard Park, New York. Originally known as Rich Stadium, for the Rich family of meat-product producers, O.J. Simpson and his teammates beat the Jets, 9-7.

The stadium will be renamed Ralph Wilson Stadium for the team's founding owner in 1998, and, in 2015, was renamed New Era Field, as naming rights were bought by the New Era sports cap company. But New Era asked to be let out of the agreement earlier this year, and, this year, the stadium was renamed Highmark Stadium. The Bills' new owners are looking to build a new stadium.

September 30, 1978: Ed Figueroa becomes the 1st pitcher born in Puerto Rico to win 20 games in a season, pitching a 5-hit shutout. The Yankees knock Cleveland starter Mike Paxton out of the box before he can get an out, and Rick Wise pitches the rest of the way, with Reggie Jackson homering off him in the 5th inning. (Mr. October was pretty good in September, too.) Given the boost, Figgy cruises to a 7-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.

The next day is the last day of the regular season. All the Yankees need to do is beat the Indians again, or have the Boston Red Sox lose to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, and the Yankees will win their 3rd straight American League Eastern Division title.

They didn't get the win, and they didn't get the Boston loss. It would go to a Playoff at Fenway. Well, we know how that story ends, don't we?

Figueroa was just short of his 30th birthday. In a major league career that lasted from 1974 to 1981, and also included playing for the California Angels, the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, he went 80-67. He had almost pulled off the feat in his 1st season with the Yankees, 1976, going 19-10 but he did help the Yankees win the Pennant. In 1977, he went 16-11, helping the Yankees win the World Series. He finished the 1978 season 20-9, going 13-2 down the stretch, and a World Champion again.

Injuries struck him, and he was traded. As he did with the '77 Yanks, he helped Billy Martin reach the Playoffs with the '81 A's, but injury prevented him from pitching in the AL Championship Series -- against the Yankees, who won.

Today, almost 73, he owns a pair of restaurants, one in Old San Juan, and one near San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. He remains the only Puerto Rican-born pitcher to win 20 games in a season. That's got less to do with Puerto Ricans than with the major leagues' switch from the 4-man rotation common in his time to the 5-man rotation in the early 1990s.

September 30, 1979: The Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2 at Busch Memorial Stadium. This is the last game for Lou Brock, who goes 0-for-4 to end his career with 3,023 hits and, then a major league record and still a National League record, 938 stolen bases. The Cardinals retire his Number 20.

It is also the last game for Ed Kranepool, the last original Met from 1962. He pinch-hits for pitcher John Pacella in the top of the 7th, and doubles off Bob Forsch. It is the 1,418th hit of his career, which will remain a Met record until surpassed by David Wright. He remains the Mets' all-time leader in games played with 1,853, and in at-bats with 5,436. He hit .261 lifetime, with an OPS+ of 98, and 118 home runs.

The commercial he did for Gillette Foamy was correct: From 1962 to 1970, he batted .227. From 1971 to 1977, he batted .283. Whether he actually shaved every other inning after that, only he knows. He did make the All-Star Team in 1965, and won the World Series with the Mets in 1969 and the Pennant in 1973.

Also on this day, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Chicago Cubs, 5-3 at Three Rivers Stadium, and clinch the NL East title. Willie Stargell, the "Pops" of this "Family," hits a home run to back the pitching of Bruce Kison.

That night, NBC airs a baseball-themed TV movie, The Kid from Left Field, a remake of a 1953 film. Gary Coleman, of the same network's Diff'rent Strokes, plays the son of a former major leaguer now down on his luck, making ends meet as a food vendor for the San Diego Padres, played by Robert Guillaume, of the ABC sitcom Benson. The film also stars Gary Collins, Ed McMahon, Tricia O'Neal, and Tab Hunter, who had been the star of the film version of the musical Damn Yankees.

The 1953 original starred Billy Chapin and Dan Dailey in the Coleman and Guillaume roles, respectively.

Also on this day, Justin Smith (no middle name) is born in Jefferson City, Missouri. A defensive end, he made 5 Pro Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. He helped the 49ers win the 2012 NFC Championship, although they lost Super Bowl XLVII. He is about to become eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


September 30, 1981, 40 years ago: The Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2. It is the last game at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. Pete Mackanin hits a home run for the Twins, but Clint Hurdle of the Royals hits the last home run. The next season, the Twins will move to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.

Also on this day, Dominique Helena Moceanu is born in Los Angeles. She was a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team that won the all-around Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

September 30, 1988: The Yankees are eliminated from the American League Eastern Division race, losing to the Detroit Tigers, 6-2 at Tiger Stadium. They finish only 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, but in 5th place behind the Sox, the Tigers, the Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays.

September 30, 1989: The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3 at the new SkyDome in Toronto, and clinch the AL East title. The O's, who had lost 107 games the season before, had a remarkable rebound season under their former star player, now manager, Frank Robinson.

They had to sweep the Jays 3 straight in Toronto on the final weekend to win the Division, just as the Yankees had to do in 1985 at the Jays' previous home, Exhibition Stadium. The pattern held, as the O's won the Friday night game. Unfortunately, the pattern held for the rest of the series as well, as the Jays won the Saturday afternoon game before losing the Sunday afternoon game.

This was the last NBC Game of the Week. Aside from a few postseason games from 1995 to 1999, and the 1996 and 1998 All-Star Games, NBC has never televised baseball again.

Also on this day, Neil Young is the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. The Toronto native wears 2 Toronto Maple Leafs patches on his jeans, and sings his 1972 anti-drug song "The Needle and the Damage Done" and his current hit, "Rockin' in the Free World."


September 30, 1990: The Chicago White Sox play the last game at Comiskey Park, closing the 81st and final season of what is, for the moment, Major League Baseball's longest-lasting stadium. Having opened in 1910, it is the last remaining ballpark in which Cy Young pitched. Ironically, the final opponent is the newest team in the American League, the Seattle Mariners.

Longtime coach Minnie Miñoso presents the final lineup card. Mayor Richard M. Daley, son of the longtime Mayor Richard J. Daley, and a lifelong resident of the Bridgeport neighborhood in which Comiskey was built, throws out the ceremonial first ball. (When the new ballpark opens, the first ball will be thrown out by the outgoing Governor, Jim Thompson, who got the bill providing for its construction through the Illinois legislature, thus saving the team from being moved to Tampa Bay.)

The ChiSox trail 1-0 in the bottom of the 6th, but Lance Johnson leads off with a triple, is singled home by rookie sensation Frank Thomas, and Thomas is tripled home by Dan Pasqua, once a highly-touted Yankee prospect who didn't pan out.

That's it for the scoring, as Jack McDowell goes 8 innings, and Bobby Thigpen finishes it off with his 57th save of the season, a new major league record. The last play is Harold Reynolds grounding to 2nd, with Scott Fletcher throwing to 1st, to Steve "Psycho" Lyons, in as a defensive replacement for Thomas. The Pale Hose defeat the M's 2-1.

To a full house of 42,849, organist Nancy Faust plays one last rendition of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" -- to the season (in which the White Sox made a gallant but short run at the AL Western Division title), to the ballpark, and to the fans, who will, with the team, move across the street into the new Comiskey Park the next year. It is now Guaranteed Rate Field.

September 30, 1994: The film The Scout premieres. Albert Brooks plays a scout that the Yankees banish to the Mexican League after one of his signings goes bust. He finds a hotshot pitcher played by Brendan Fraser, who comes with his own problems.

This film is totally fiction, and it's a comedy. Judged on that basis, it's okay. The old Yankee Stadium looks great. And George Steinbrenner does all right playing himself. But if you're looking for Yankee glory, well, look elsewhere.

20th Century Fox scheduled it for release just as the 1994 MLB Playoffs were supposed to begin, but then came the strike. Despite the success of Ken Burns' nostalgia-tugging Baseball documentary
miniseries on PBS, nobody was interested in spending $4.00 to watch a baseball movie. It would have been better if they had held the film back until the following Summer.

September 30, 1995: The FleetCenter opens in Boston, right behind the Boston Garden. The new home of the NBA's Celtics and the NHL's Bruins is now named the TD Garden.

September 30, 1999: The San Francisco Giants, who nearly moved because Candlestick Park was so bad, to Toronto for 1976 and to Tampa Bay for 1993, finally play their last game at the big wind tunnel. They lose to their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, 9-4. Marvin Bernard homers for the Giants, but Raul Mondesi of the Dodgers hits the last home run, making a winner of Jeff Williams over Shawn Estes.

The Giants will move into what is now named Oracle Park. The difference? Besides the location, the transport access, the sight lines, and the atmosphere (both literal and figurative) all being far better? In 40 seasons at The 'Stick, the Giants made 5 postseasons, winning 2 Pennants, and no World Series. In their 1st 21 seasons at The Phone Booth, they've made 7 postseasons, winning 3 Pennants, and taking the World Series all 3 times.

September 30, 2007: One of the darkest days in Mets history. This is the game that got Tom Glavine branded "The Manchurian Brave" by Met fans.

Having led the NL East by 7 games with 17 to go, the Mets have collapsed, but they go into the regular-season finale, against the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium, needing a win or a Philadelphia Phillies loss to clinch their 2nd straight NL East title, and a win or a Colorado Rockies loss to at least win the 1 Wild Card available at the time.

Glavine starts. He walks Hanley Ramirez. He gets Dan Uggla to ground into a force play at 2nd base. So far, not terrible. But the roof caves in. He gives up a single to Jeremy Hermida. He gives up a single to Miguel Cabrera, scoring Ramirez. He gives up a double to Cody Ross, and when the ball comes back to him in the infield, he tries to throw Ross out at 3rd, and makes a bad throw, and Ross becomes the 3rd run of the at-bat.

He allows a single to Mike Jacobs. He walks Matt Treanor. He gives up a single to future Met Alejandro de Aza, loading the bases. He faces the opposing starting pitcher, Dontrelle Willis, and hits him, forcing Jacobs in. Manager Willie Randolph has seen enough, and removes him with the score 5-0. He'd faced all 9 batters in the Marlin starting lineup, and had gotten exactly 1 of them out.

Jorge Sosa is the new pitcher, and he strikes Ramirez out. But he allows a double to Uggla, who drives in Treanor and de Aza, both of whose runs are charged to Glavine. When he finally gets Hermida to ground to 1st, it is Marlins 7, Mets 0.

By the time the game mercifully ends, the Mets have used 8 pitchers, and lost 8-1. The Phillies beat the Nationals, 6-1 at Citizens Bank Park, and win a Playoff berth and the Division for the 1st time in 14 years. And the Rockies complete their own amazing surge, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3 at Coors Field. It's not enough to win them the NL West, but it's enough to get them a tie with the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card berth, instead of it going to the Mets.

"I'm not devastated," Glavine says after the game. "I'm disappointed, but devastation is for much greater things in life." Feeling pretty devastated themselves, Met fans never forgive him for this, and he never pitches for them again. He is released, and returns to Atlanta for a final season.

One of the pitchers the Mets used was former Yankee star Orlando Hernández, who pitches the 3rd inning, allowing 2 long fly outs, a triple to Willis, and then a foul pop to end the threat. It turns out to be the last MLB appearance of El Duque's career.

Also on this day, the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0 at Minute Maid Park. It is the last game for future Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio, who goes 1-for-4.

All the way across the country from Shea, Met legend Mike Piazza plays his last game on this day. He leads off the bottom of the 9th for the Oakland Athletics, who are tied with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the Oakland Coliseum. He singles, and is replaced by pinch-runner Shannon Stewart. Marco Scutaro bunts Stewart over to 2nd. Jack Hannahan singles to load the bases with nobody out. Kurt Suzuki singles to give the A's a 3-2 win. So Piazza is far luckier on this day than his old team is.

September 30, 2016: The Golden 1 Center opens in downtown Sacramento, built to save the NBA's Sacramento Kings from moving. They almost moved to Anaheim in 2012 and Seattle in 2013, before the deal to build this new arena, to replace the Sleep Train (formerly ARCO) Arena, was done in 2014.

Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Bob Short for Moving the Washington Senators to Texas

September 30, 1971, 50 years ago: The last Washington Senators game is played, against the Yankees at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Team owner Bob Short, having already moved the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960, has announced he's moving the Senators to the Dallas area, to become the Texas Rangers. He complains about the low attendance, despite having the highest ticket prices in the American League, and no subway access to RFK Stadium. (Washington's Metro would not open until 1976.)
A rare vertical sports fan banner, reading "SHORT STINKS."
It was still considered bad form to say that someone "sucks."

Frank Howard, the Senators' most popular player in their 2nd go-around of 1961-71, hits the last home run. Dick Bosman starts, and stands to be the winning pitcher as the Senators lead 7-5 with 1 out left in the 9th. All he has to do is get Bobby Murcer out.

But he can't, through no fault of his own. Angry fans from the "crowd" of 14,461 people storm the field. The umpires cannot restore order, and they forfeit the game to the Yankees.
Only 2 AL games have been forfeited since, both promotions that turned into fiascos: The Cleveland Indians' Ten-Cent Beer Night in 1974, and the Chicago White Sox' Disco Demolition Night in 1979. Outfielder Rusty Torres, who turned 23 on the day of the last Senators game, was also in uniform on each of those occasions.

There are 18 players from this game still alive. From the Yankees: Torres, Roy White, John Ellis, Ron Hansen, Frank Baker, Mike Kekich, Jack Aker and Felipe Alou. From the Senators: Howard, Bosman, Elliott Maddox, Toby Harrah, Jack Billings, Jeff Burroughs, Del Unser, Tom Ragland, Horacio Piña and Tom McCraw.

The next April, Bosman also starts the team's 1st game as the Rangers. Major League Baseball will not return to the Nation's Capital, except for the occasional preseason exhibition game, until the 2005 season.

While RFK Stadium would host exhibition games, there would not be another Major League Baseball game played in Washington, D.C. until April 14, 2005. Formerly the Montreal Expos, the Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3. In addition to George W. Bush upholding the tradition of the President of the United States throwing out a ceremonial first ball, Frank Howard was also invited to do so.


Moving the Senators was a bad thing to do, right? And if it was, then Short is the one mainly to blame for it, right?

Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Bob Short for Moving the Washington Senators to Texas

5. His Move of the Lakers. In 1960, Short owned the Minneapolis Lakers, and moved them to Los Angeles. Nobody tried to stop him then. And, given the other MLB moves of the last few years, he thought no one would stop him this time, either. And he was right.

4. Dallas. If you were going to move an MLB team, the Dallas-Forth Worth "Metroplex" was a good choice. Charlie Finley already thought so in 1962, when he wanted to move the Kansas City Athletics there. The city didn't have a proper ballpark at the time, and he wasn't willing to play in the Cotton Bowl with Polo Grounds-like or L.A. Coliseum-like dimensions until a new ballpark was ready.

According to the 1970 Census, Dallas had 844,401 people, a 24 percent jump over 1960. This has since grown to 1.3 million, with a metropolitan area of a whopping 7.6 million, trailing only New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston.
Dallas, circa 1980, around the time J.R. Ewing got shot

And, as seen in the TV show Dallas, the city was rich, and getting richer. It wasn't just the oil industry. It was banking. It was insurance. It was transportation: Both Greyhound buses and American Airlines were headquartered in Dallas. Their airport covers more land than the island of Manhattan, and is a major hub.

The Cowboys were already showing that Dallas worked for the NFL. It would take some time for basketball and hockey to work there. But if the NFL would work there, so could MLB. As it turned out, it took a while for the Metroplex to take to the Rangers. The loyalty was deep among those who had it, but not especially wide.

3. The Baltimore Orioles. When the St. Louis Browns arrived as the Orioles in 1954, they were a minor threat to the Senators. They took Baltimore and its suburbs away from the Senators' "market." But when they got good in the early 1960s, they began to siphon off those areas of Maryland closer to Washington. The 1971 season was the 3rd straight, and the 4th in the last 6, in which the Orioles won the Pennant. For many Maryland fans, it wasn't much more difficult to go a little further to see a winning team than to stay close to see a losing team.

It eventually worked the other way around: In the 1990s, Orioles owner Peter Angelos consistently opposed D.C. getting a new team, saying that it would cost the Orioles a quarter of their fan base.  Was he right? Maybe.
This map certainly suggests so.

On the other hand, the Orioles were due to lose fans anyway, since a lot of them weren't really Oriole fans, just Cal Ripken fans. And the team began losing. Their Playoff berths in 2012 and 2014, years in which the Nationals also made it, helped.

It's been Angelos' mismanagement more than the arrival of the Nationals that has cost the O's fans. The 1960s O's hurt the Senators much more than the 2010s Nats have hurt the O's.

2. The District of Columbia. Unlike Dallas, Washington, at the time, was a one-industry town. The federal government. Many of the people living there had come from other places, and kept their old loyalties. So even when they did go to Griffith Stadium, and later to RFK Stadium, they were rooting for their original home teams.
The only ones who were converted to Senators fans were the ones whose closest MLB team was a long way away -- and if they were fans of one of the storied minor-league teams (say, the Birmingham Barons or the San Antonio Missions), they still kept their old loyalties.

And the people who did live there? They weren't exactly well-enough-off to buy season tickets. Both Griffith Stadium (which was replaced by the hospital of Howard University) and RFK Stadium were in poor black neighborhoods. It was the same problem that the Dodgers face with the neighborhoods around Ebbets Field: The locals couldn't afford to get in on a regular basis.

In addition, access was bad. It wasn't until 1976 that a subway system, the Metro, opened, providing easy access to RFK Stadium. So unless you had a car, getting there wasn't easy.

All of which managed to, however inadvertently, turn away lots of...

1. Washington Fans. It was another case of loyalty being deep where it was, but not very wide. The few who showed up for that last game cared a lot. But most fans didn't.

In the 60 years of the "Old Senators," 1901 to 1960, after which they became the Minnesota Twins, only once did they draw more than 1 million fans. It was 1946, the 1st full year after the end of World War II, when the soldiers came back. It was also a year after the Senators had their last real Pennant race, falling just short of the Detroit Tigers for the 1945 American League Pennant. They drew 1,027,216.

But they went 76-78 in 1946, and fell to 64-90 in 1947, dropping to 850,758 fans. They never even topped that many again until their 1st season in Minnesota.

And when the "New Senators" arrived in 1961, they didn't have good attendance, either, even with the novelty of a new stadium starting in 1962. Their only winning season was in 1969, 86-76. As a result, 1970 was their peak attendance year, 824,789, the 3rd-highest in Washington baseball history to that point. But the team fell 70-92, and 63-96 in 1971, collapsing in attendance to 655,156.

Even afterward, President Richard Nixon, a big baseball fan but a bigger football fan, who had worked in the city since beginning his 1st term in Congress in 1947, understood that the Senators would never be the biggest team in town: "All anybody cares about in Washington is the Redskins. Nobody gives a damn about the Kennedy Center or the National Gallery of Art."

As Horace Stoneham put it in 1957, when asked what the move of the New York Giants to San Francisco would do to kids in New York, "I feel bad about the kids, but I haven't seen too many of their fathers lately." In 1971, Bob Short could have said the same thing.

VERDICT: Not Guilty. The success of the Nationals at the box office since their arrival in 2005, and their success on the field since their 1st trip to the postseason in 2012, doesn't change things. Short may have played his hand badly, but he played the hand he was dealt. Washington, D.C. was not a city capable of supporting Major League Baseball in 1971.

As for who is to blame for D.C. taking until 2005 to get a replacement team, that's a separate debate.

September 30, 1971: The Washington Senators' Riotous Farewell

September 30, 1971, 50 years ago: The last Washington Senators game is played, against the Yankees at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Team owner Bob Short, having already moved the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960, has announced he's moving the Senators to the Dallas area, to become the Texas Rangers. He complains about the low attendance, despite having the highest ticket prices in the American League, and no subway access to RFK Stadium. (Washington's Metro would not open until 1976.)
A rare vertical sports fan banner, reading "SHORT STINKS."
It was still considered bad form to say that someone "sucks."

Frank Howard, the Senators' most popular player in their 2nd go-around of 1961-71, hits the last home run. Dick Bosman starts, and stands to be the winning pitcher as the Senators lead 7-5 with 1 out left in the 9th. All he has to do is get Bobby Murcer out.

But he can't, through no fault of his own. Angry fans from the "crowd" of 14,461 people storm the field. The umpires cannot restore order, and they forfeit the game to the Yankees.
Only 2 AL games have been forfeited since, both promotions that turned into fiascos: The Cleveland Indians' Ten-Cent Beer Night in 1974, and the Chicago White Sox' Disco Demolition Night in 1979. Outfielder Rusty Torres, who turned 23 on the day of the last Senators game, was also in uniform on each of those occasions.

There are 18 players from this game still alive. From the Yankees: Torres, Roy White, John Ellis, Ron Hansen, Frank Baker, Mike Kekich, Jack Aker and Felipe Alou. From the Senators: Howard, Bosman, Elliott Maddox, Toby Harrah, Jack Billings, Jeff Burroughs, Del Unser, Tom Ragland, Horacio Piña and Tom McCraw.

The next April, Bosman also starts the team's 1st game as the Rangers. Major League Baseball will not return to the Nation's Capital, except for the occasional preseason exhibition game, until the 2005 season.

While RFK Stadium would host exhibition games, there would not be another Major League Baseball game played in Washington, D.C. until April 14, 2005. Formerly the Montreal Expos, the Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3. In addition to George W. Bush upholding the tradition of the President of the United States throwing out a ceremonial first ball, Frank Howard was also invited to do so.


September 30, 1971 was a Thursday. Other MLB games on this day:

* The New York Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1 at Shea Stadium. Tom Seaver gots the win, his 20th of the season, and went on to win his 2nd Cy Young Award. A young right fielder named Ken Singleton, who had grown up in New York as a Met fan, hit 2 home runs. But he will become better known for playing for the Baltimore Orioles, and then for broadcasting for the Yankees.

No one knows it at the time, but this is the last game the Mets will play with Gil Hodges as their manager. At the end of Spring Training in 1972, he suffers a heart attack and dies, not quite 48 years old.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Manny Sanguillen hit a home run, and Roberto Clemente went 1-for-4. 

* The Chicago Cubs beat the Montreal Expos, 5-3 at Jarry Park in Montreal.

* The Atlanta Braves beat the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2 at Atlanta Stadium. (It was renamed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1974.) Hank Aaron did not play for the Braves in this game. The Reds also held Johnny Bench out. Pete Rose went 1-for-4.

* The Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

* The California Angels beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-2 at Metropolitan Stadium in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota.

* The San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 5-1, at what was then named San Diego Stadium. They clinched the National League Western Division title on this last day. This would be their only postseason berth between 1962 and 1987.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Houston Astros, 2-1 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

* The Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers had already completed their 162-game schedules.

* While the game in Washington was played, at nearby Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox were rained out. As all 4 Division races, including the American League Eastern Division race won by the O's, had been decided, the game was not rescheduled.

* The Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics were rained out at the Oakland Coliseum. As all 4 Division races, including the American League Western Division race won by the A's, had been decided, the game was not rescheduled. The O's beat the A's for the AL Pennant, the Pirates beat the Giants for the NL Pennant, and the Pirates beat the Orioles to win the World Series.

Scores On This Historic Day: September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth Hits His 60th Home Run

September 30, 1927: George Herman "Babe" Ruth hits a drive down the right field line at Yankee Stadium, off Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators. It is his 60th home run of the season, breaking the record of 59 that he set in 1921. The Yankees win the game 4-2. Herb Pennock is the winning pitcher, in relief of George Pipgras.

If you've ever seen film footage purporting to be from this game, it's not: There were no cameras, not even the newsreels. (Which does seem to be odd, given the potential, and realized, historic nature of the game.) If you've ever heard an alleged radio broadcast of it, that's also fake, a recreation: The Yankees didn't broadcast their games until 1939.

When the Sultan of Swat gets back to the dugout, he says, "Sixty! Count 'em, sixty! Let's see some other son of a bitch match that!"

Not until 1961 -- would another player match it. Roger Maris, also a lefthanded-hitting right fielder for the Yankees, did, and surpassed it, 34 years and 1 day later. Much is made of the small crowd when Maris hit Number 61, but when Ruth hit Number 60, only 8,000 showed up on a Saturday afternoon. It should be noted though that, in each case, the Yankees had already wrapped up the American League Pennant.

This game is notable for another reason: It was the last major league playing appearance for Walter Johnson, the Senators pitcher who would, like Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson, be 1 of the 1st 5 players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Oddly, he did not appear as a pitcher, although he could have, had the Senators tied it and sent it to the bottom of the 9th: The Big Train pinch-hit for Zachary. He flied out, with some appropriateness, to Ruth, and it was the final out of the game.
Babe Ruth, baseball's greatest player;
and Walter Johnson, perhaps baseball's greatest pitcher.

No, I don't know why the Great Bambino and the Big Train are holding roosters in that photo. But they seemed to be friends. That was not the case between Ruth and Cobb, although they came around later. Cobb and Johnson were great admirers of one another.

I once saw a photo of Cobb, in street clothes, talking with Mathewson in the Giants' dugout in the 1911 World Series. Later, they served in the same Army unit in World War I. Despite a professional rivalry, Cobb and Wagner were friends. I know nothing of the relationships, if any, between Ruth and Mathewson, Ruth and Wagner, or Wagner and Mathewson.

I do know that, when the 1st Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in 1939, Mathewson was already dead, and Cobb was delayed and didn't make it to the ceremony on time, but Ruth, Johnson and Wagner had no issue with posing together, or with anyone else, in the group photo.


September 30, 1927 was a Friday. There were no football games played on the day, hockey was out of season, and the NBA wasn't founded yet. There were other Major League Baseball games played:

* The Brooklyn Dodgers (or the Robins, as they were known from 1914 to 1931, in honor of manager Wilbert Robinson) beat the New York Giants, 10-5 at Ebbets Field.

* The Boston Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 12-2 at Braves Field in Boston.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1 at Redland Field in Cincinnati. (It was renamed Crosley Field in 1934.) The Pirates had already clinched the National League Pennant, and would face the Yankees in the World Series.

* The Chicago White Sox sweep a doubleheader from the Detroit Tigers at Comiskey Park. They win the opener, 5-4 in 13 innings. They win the nightcap, 4-1.

* A doubleheader is split at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The Cleveland Indians win the 1st game, 5-4. The St. Louis Browns win the 2nd game, 9-4.

* The Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Athletics were supposed to play at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. According to, it was "Postponed by agreement." No reason is given there. The next day, October 1, they played a doubleheader. The A's swept, 10-2 and 3-2.

* The Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals also didn't play on the day, possibly because, while the Cardinals were the more successful team -- in this season, they were the defending World Champions -- they were the tenants at Sportsman's Park, and the Browns were the landlords and had first choice of scheduling.

Since the Browns did play there that day, the Cards' absence from the day's results was not due to rain. Nor did they play on September 28 or 29, or on October 1. They closed out their schedule against the Cubs on October 2, at Sportsman's Park, and lost 6-4.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Yankee Fans, Enjoy the Chaos

Today, various ESPN personalities have called the American League Wild Card race "chaos." I am enjoying the chaos.

The Yankees have now won 7 in a row, largely on the shoulders of Giancarlo Stanton. They beat the Toronto Blue Jays, who are also in this race. The Boston Red Sox, who are also in this race, should have beaten the Baltimore Orioles last night, but didn't. The Seattle Mariners, who went into last night just barely still in the race, and haven't made the Playoffs in 20 years, are now in better shape. Only 2 of the 4 can make it.

Jameson Taillon started for the Yankees, and had just gotten a strikeout for the 1st out of the bottom of the 3rd inning. The game was tied 1-1, partly thanks to a home run by Aaron Judge. He was in decent shape. And he left game, apparently due to injury. And the Yankees were facing the Jays' ace, Hyun Jin Ryu. It looked bad. Michael King came in to relieve, and allowed a run to make it 2-1 Jays after 4.

But Gio Urshela singled with 1 out in the 5th. DJ LeMahieu drew a walk. Anthony Rizzo singled Urshela home, and LeMahieu to 3rd. Ryu was taken out. Judge got LeMahieu home on a sacrifice fly. It was 3-2 Yankees.

Trying to hang onto a 3-2 lead would have left me feeling very nervous. But with 1 out in the 7th, LeMahieu singled. Judge walked. And Trevor Richards decided to throw Stanton a low pitch. Paul O'Neill, on YES, was right: Stanton scooped it, and sent it into the 2nd deck in left field. 6-2 Yankees.

Urshela tacked on a solo homer in the 9th, to make it 7-2, making this game not nearly as close 

That was the final. King didn't pitch great, but he was given the win. Clay Holmes, Chad Green, Luis Severino and Wandy Peralta each pitched an inning. Except for 2 walks by Holmes, none allowed a baserunner.

The Yankees have 5 games left. Their magic number to clinch a Playoff berth is 3.

Gerrit Cole goes tonight, against Jose Berrios.

September 29, 1946: The Rams Debut & Desegregate the NFL

Kenny Washington

September 29, 1946, 75 years ago: The Rams, who played in Cleveland from 1936 to 1945, play their 1st home game in Los Angeles, making them the city's 1st real major league sports team. (Previous pro football teams had "Los Angeles" as their name, but their leagues could hardly be called "major.") The defending NFL Champions lose to the Philadelphia Eagles, 25-14.

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

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

Washington played 3 seasons in the NFL before knee injuries forced him to retire at age 30. He worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, and when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, he became a scout for them. His son Kenny Jr. played in their farm system. But Kenny Sr. battled ill health, and died in 1971, only 52 years old. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, UCLA retired his Number 13, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission inducted him into the stadium's Court of Honor.

Strode only played the one season with the Rams, then went to Canada, helping the Calgary Stampeders win their 1st Grey Cup in 1948. He became a professional wrestler and an actor, notable for his role as the Ethiopian gladiator Draba in the 1960 film Spartacus. He seemed to specialize in Westerns, and his last role, filmed just prior to his death in 1994, showed him as an old man watching Sharon Stone walk into town in The Quick and the Dead.

Motley and Willis, both Ohio natives, helped the Browns dominate the AAFC winning its title all 4 years, before coming into the NFL and winning their title in 1950, beating the Rams in a classic NFL Championship Game. (By that point, both Washington and Strode were out of football.) Motley, who had played at the University of Nevada, where his Number 41 was retired, remained with the Browns until 1953, and last played with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955. With the Browns, he wore 76 and then 36. He was frustrated by his attempts to gain a coaching job, and worked in various capacities.
Marion Motley

Willis had his Number 99 retired by Ohio State, whom he'd helped win the 1942 National Championship. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He also remained with the Browns through 1953, usually wearing Number 30. He worked with the City of Cleveland Department of Recreation.
Bill Willis

He and Motley were both elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Paul Zimmerman, the Sports Illustrated pro football expert known as Dr. Z, called Motley the greatest player he'd ever seen. Motley died in 1999. Willis, the last survivor of the 4, lived until 2007.

Also on this day, the Yankees close out a lackluster regular season with the sweep of a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Athletics, 6-0 and 2-1 at Shibe Park. Joe DiMaggio goes 1-for-7 across the 2 games.

These are the last games for Ed Barrow as general manager: Every bit as unhappy as recently resigned manager Joe McCarthy was with the new ownership of Del Webb, Dan Topping and Larry MacPhail, he resigns as GM on December 31.

Other MLB scores on this day:

* The Brooklyn Dodgers lose to the Boston Braves, 4-0 at Ebbets Field. Mort Cooper pitches a 4-hit shutout.

* The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-3 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. This Cardinal loss, combined with the Dodgers' loss, forces the 1st-ever official Playoff for either major league's Pennant. The Cardinals will sweep the best-2-out-of-3 series.

* The New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-1 at the Polo Grounds.

* The Washington Senators beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-0 at Fenway Park in Boston. Ray Scarborough allowed 7 hits, including a single by Ted Williams, but kept the shutout. Nevertheless, the Sox had run away with the American League Pennant, and faced the Cardinals in the World Series.

* The Cincinnati Reds swept a doubleheader from the Pittsburgh Pirates, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The Reds won the opener 1-0, as Johnny Vander Meer pitches a shutout, but, unlike those famed back-to-back games in 1938, it is not also a no-hitter: He allows 6 hits. The Reds won the nightcap 3-2.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers, 4-1 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. (It was renamed Tiger Stadium in 1961.)

* And the St. Louis Browns beat the Chicago White Sox, 8-7 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

In the NFL, in addition to the Rams losing to the Eagles:

* The Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers played to a tie, 14-14 at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

* The Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers, 30-7 at Green Bay City Stadium, the predecessor to Lambeau Field.

(The following day, the Chicago Cardinals beat the Detroit Lions, 34-14 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The day after that, the New York Giants beat a team named, believe it or not, the Boston Yanks, 17-0 at Braves Field in Boston.)


September 29, 1621, 400 years ago: What we now call "The First Thanksgiving" is held at Plymouth, Massachusetts, about 40 miles southeast of present-day Boston. Attending the feast were 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe.

The foods served that day included items we would now recognize as traditional in Thanksgiving dinners: Turkey, berries, fruit, and various squashes, including pumpkins. Also served at that meal were some items which would not become traditional to Thanksgiving, but would become traditional to what would become known as New England. These included fish, lobster and clams.

Since no game that would later be called "football" was brought over by the Pilgrims, it's unlikely that such a game was played at Plymouth Plantation that day. There may have been games of some kind, but not football.

September 29, 1891, 130 years ago: A statue of Diana, the Roman goddess of the Moon and hunting, equivalent in Greek mythology to Artemis, is placed atop the 485-foot tower at Madison Square Garden, at 26th Street and Madison Avenue, overlooking Madison Square itself.

The building, the 2nd to bear the name after the 1879 version, was designed by renowned architect Stanford White, who put his penthouse apartment atop the tower, and commissioned the statue on top of that. The 18-foot-high statue, topping a complex that also includes an 8,000-seat arena, a 1,500-seat concert hall, and a 1,200-seat theater, was sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and shows Diana pulling back her bowstring, ready to fire an arrow. It also acts as a weather vane.
The tower of the 2nd Garden, topped by the Diana statue

White and Saint-Gaudens decide that it's too big, and Saint-Gaudens replaces it in 1893 with a 13-foot version. The original was given to the World's Columbia Exposition in Chicago, the World's Fair designed to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World (in 1492, so it was a year late). That statue was lost in a fire the next year.

Both statues are nudes, and the era's critics and self-appointed moral arbiters hated them. In particular, a critic from Philadelphia ripped the original in a newspaper. Ironically, when the 2nd Garden was torn down in 1925 to make way for the New York Life Building, the 2nd Diana was donated to... the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes, the building whose steps Sylvester Stallone ran up in the Rocky movies. It's still there.

Neither White nor Saint-Gaudens lived to see the demolition of their work. White was murdered in 1906, in the rooftop theater he'd built, by Harry Thaw, who found out that White had seduced his wife, actress Evelyn Nesbit -- before she and Thaw had ever even met. White was 52 years old, would probably have died soon anyway (an autopsy showed liver and kidney disease), and one of the worst-kept secrets in New York was that he was a molester, at least of teenage girls and possibly of boys as well. After 2 mistrials, Thaw was found not guilty by reason of insanity. And Saint-Gaudens died of cancer a year after Thaw, just 59.

Boxing promoter George "Tex" Rickard built the 3rd Madison Square Garden at 50th Street and 8th Avenue in 1925. It became what the Madison Square Garden Corporation now claims the current building is, "The World's Most Famous Arena," but, unlike its 1891-1925 predecessor, it was not an architectural marvel. The current Garden, at 32nd Street and 7th Avenue, opened on February 11, 1968, so it's now past its 50th Anniversary.

September 29, 1901, 120 years ago: Verne Clark Lewellen is born in Lincoln, Nebraska. The 2-way back won 3 straight NFL Championships for the Green Bay Packers, in 1929, 1930 and 1931.

Green Bay is in Brown County, Wisconsin. He and teammate LaVern "Lavvie" Dilweg were both practicing attorneys. In 1928, they ran against each other for Brown County District Attorney, and Lewellen won. He was re-elected in 1930, but defeated in 1932. Dilweg would later be elected to Congress in 1942, but was defeated in 1944. After their defeats, neither ever ran for public office again.
Dilweg died in 1968, Lewellen in 1980. Both are in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, but neither is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Both should be, but the Hall voters have given short shrift to the League's pioneer players.

Also on this day, Enrico Fermi (no middle name) is born in Rome. In 1939, already Italy's greatest physicist, he came to America to work on the Manhattan Project, to build the atomic bomb before Nazi Germany could. On December 2, 1942, in a laboratory underneath Stagg Field, the football stadium at the University of Chicago, he conducted the 1st self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

He died of cancer in 1954, having lived to see his work turned into a usable bomb, World War II ended because of it, the Cold War started because of it, the development of the hydrogen bomb, and the Soviet Union obtaining both the uranium and the hydrogen version.

September 29, 1921, 100 years ago: The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-1 at Forbes Field. Making his major league debut for the Pirates is Hazen Shirley Cuyler. With a name like that, the 23-year-old Michigan native needs a nickname, so they play off his surname and call him "Kiki" Cuyler. Batting 4th and playing right field, he goes 0-for-4.

He got better. He batted .321 for his career, and led the National League in stolen bases 4 times. He helped the Pirates win the 1925 World Series and the 1927 NL Pennant; then helped the Chicago Cubs win the Pennant in 1932. In 1934, he was named to the All-Star Game. He died of a heart attack in 1950, only 51 years old, and was later elected to the Hall of Fame.

September 29, 1931, 90 years ago: Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg is born in Malmö, Sweden. After appearing in silly science fiction films, such as Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Anita Ekberg moved to Italy, and starred in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, each making the other a legend. She died in 2015.

September 29, 1941, 80 years ago: Joe Louis defends the Heavyweight Championship of the World at the Polo Grounds in New York. He knocks Lou Nova out in the 6th round.

Also on this day, Richard Benjamin Reese is born outside Toledo in Leipsic, Ohio. A 1st baseman, he was with the Minnesota Twins when they won the 1965 American League Pennant, and the 1969 and '70 AL Western Division titles. He played for them when the Twins lost the 1967 Pennant-deciding finale to the Boston Red Sox, and in Catfish Hunter's perfect game for the Oakland Athletics in 1968. He is still alive.

Also on this day, Nazi troops kill 33,771 Jews in a ravine outside Kiev, Ukraine. It becomes known as the Babi Yar Massacre. Over the course of World War II, up to 150,000 people -- Jews and others -- would be killed by the Nazis at Babi Yar.

September 29, 1951, 70 years ago: Duke University defeats the University of Pittsburgh, 19-14 at Pitt Stadium. NBC broadcasts the game. It is the 1st nationwide television broadcast of a live sporting event. No broadcast survives.  Four days later, NBC will do the same of the deciding game of the Dodger-Giant playoff.

Also on this day, Thomas W. Cahill dies in South Orange, Essex County, New Jersey at age 86. He founded the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of American soccer, in 1913, and became the national team's 1st head coach in 1986.


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

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

Game 1 was played at the Polo Grounds in New York. The game was tied 2-2 in the top of the 8th, but the Indians got Larry Doby on 2nd base and Al Rosen on 1st with nobody out. Giant manager Leo Durocher pulled starting pitcher Sal Maglie, and brought in Don Liddle, a lefthander, to face the lefty slugger Vic Wertz, and only Wertz.

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

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

Willie has said many times that he was already thinking of the throw back to the infield, hoping to hold Doby to only 3rd base. With his back to the ball all the way, he caught the ball over his head, stopped, pivoted, and threw the ball back to the infield. Doby did get only to 3rd.

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

Durocher yanked Liddle, and brought in Marv Grissom. Upon reaching the Giant dugout, Liddle told his teammates, "Well, I got my man." Yeah, Don. You got him. As Jim Bouton, then a 15-year-old Giant fan who'd recently moved from Rochelle Park, Bergen County, New Jersey to the Chicago suburb of Chicago Heights, Illinois, would later say, "Yeah, surrrre!"

Grissom walked Dale Mitchell to load the bases with only 1 out. But he struck out Dave Pope, and got Jim Hegan to fly out, to end the threat. When the Giants got back to the dugout, they told Willie what a hard catch it was. He said, "You kiddin'? I had that one all the way."

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

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

Willie is 90 years old. He is the last living player from this game, 67 years later.


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

There are 6 men still alive who played in this game. For the Giants, Mays and Ray Crone. For the Pirates, Bill Mazeroski, Dick Groat, Bob Skinner and Frank Thomas. (That's the Big Donkey, not the later Big Hurt.)

As for the Dodgers: Their last game as a Brooklyn team is also on this day, and it is a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Ed Bouchee homers for the Phils, and Seth Morehead outpitches Roger Craig.

Since moving to the site in 1890, including replacing the original stadium that burned down in 1911, the Giants had won 15 National League Pennants, and won the World Series 5 times: In 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954.

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

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

The last pitch by a Brooklyn Dodger is thrown by an erratic (so far) reliever from Brooklyn, Sandy Koufax. The last Brooklyn play is left fielder Bob Kennedy flying to center fielder Richie Ashburn. Koufax, Roger Craig and Joe Pignatano, all Dodgers, are the last surviving players from this game.

It is also, though no one foresees the Winter's tragedy, the last game for Roy Campanella, and his last at-bat is also a fly to Ashburn. With both teams well out of the race, only 9,886 attend the Brooklyn Dodgers' semi-official funeral.

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

The stadium was renamed Lambeau Field after team founder Earl "Curly" Lambeau died in 1965. By that point, capacity was be 50,861. That's how many people attended the 1967 NFL Championship Game on New Year's Eve, known as the Ice Bowl: Despite a gametime temperature of -15 degrees Fahrenheit, without the wind chill factor, there wasn't an empty seat in the house. The capacity became 55,000 by 1970, 58,000 by 1990, 60,000 by 1995, 70,000 by 2005, and is now 81,411.

Since moving to Lambeau Field in 1957, the Packers have made the Playoffs 27 times, won 14 Division titles, reached the NFL (1957-69) or NFC (1970-2016) Championship Game 13 times (including last season), won 8, reached 5 Super Bowls, and won 4 of them: I, II, XXXI and XLV -- meaning they have been World Champions for the seasons of 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1996 and 2010.

Lambeau Field is the oldest active stadium in the NFL. The Chicago Bears' Soldier Field went up in 2002, replacing the same of the same name on the same site that went up in 1924, although the Bears have only played on the site since 1970.

Also on this day, Mark L. Attanasio is born in The Bronx, and grows up just across the Hudson River, in Tenafly, Bergen County, New Jersey. (I can find no record of what the L stands for.) Since 2005, he has been the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. They have now made the Playoffs more times in 15 seasons as they did under their previous owners, the Selig family, in 35 seasons: 4-2.

September 29, 1961, 60 years ago: Julia Eileen Gillard is born in Barry, Wales. As a child, she suffered from bronchial pneumonia, making the United Kingdom not an ideal climate for her. Her parents were advised to take her someplace drier. In 1966, they settled in Adelaide, in the State of South Australia.

In 1998, she was elected to Australia's Parliament. From June 24, 2010 to June 27, 2013, she was her country's Prime Minister -- its 1st woman to hold the post. For reasons beyond her control, she had to lead a minority government, and couldn't hold it together, and retired from politics before the 2013 election, which her party lost.

She is now a visiting professor at the University of Adelaide, and a nonresident senior fellow at America's Brookings Institution. She is a supporter of the Australian rules football team, the Western Bulldogs; and the rugby league team, the Melbourne Storm.

September 29, 1963: The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 at Sportsman's Park, in the regular season finale. Dal Maxvill doubles home the winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning.
It is the last game for retiring Cardinal legend Stan Musial, and his Number 6 is retired. In the bottom of the 6th, the 42-year-old Stan the Man singles Curt Flood home. It is the 3,630th hit of his career, a National League record. In one of the neatest coincidences in sports history, he got exactly 1,815 hits in home games, and 1,815 hits in away games.

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

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

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

September 29, 1975: Casey Stengel dies of cancer in his adopted hometown of Glendale, California, in the Los Angeles suburbs. "The Ol' Perfesser" was 85. He first wore a major league uniform in 1912, and last in 1965. In between, in those 54 seasons, as a player and a manager, he had been a part of 14 Pennant winners and 9 World Championships. He had last appeared in a major league ballpark on June 28, for the Mets' Old-Timers Day. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Well, God is certainly getting an earful tonight."

September 29, 1981, 40 years ago: Bill Shankly dies of a heart attack in Liverpool at age 68. As a player, the Scotsman was a good defender, helping Lancashire club Preston North End win the 1938 FA Cup. But, like contemporaries Matt Busby and Stan Cullis, also good players at the time, he truly made his mark as a manager.

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

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

September 29, 1991, 30 years ago: The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins, 2-1 at the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre). But the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-4 at Milwaukee County Stadium. This clinches the AL West for the Twins, making the last-place team of 1990 the 1st "worst-to-first" team in baseball history

If the Jays felt good about beating the Twins tonight, that went away quickly, as the Twins beat them in the AL Championship Series. 

September 29, 1994: Seinfeld airs the episode "The Big Salad." It parodies the O.J. Simpson case, then ongoing. The writers substituted a baseball star (Steve Gendason, played by Dean Hello) for the football legend, a caddy for the ex-wife, a golf tee for the bloody glove, Kramer (Michael Richards) for Al Cowlings, and the Palisades Interstate Parkway for the San Diego Freeway.

Also on this day, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane is born in Washington, Warren County, New Jersey. She took the stage name Halsey, after seeing it on a street sign in Brooklyn, and realizing that it's an anagram of "Ashley." Since releasing her 1st album, Badlands, in 2015, she has gotten bigger and bigger.

September 29, 1996, 25 years ago: At the Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1. The lone O's run comes on a home run by center fielder Brady Anderson, his 50th of the season.

In 14 other major league seasons, he never topped 24, and only twice topped 18. He hit 210 home runs in those 15 seasons, so 23.8 percent of his homers were hit in this season alone. He finished the season with 110 RBIs. His next-highest seasonal total was 81.

He was never caught using steroids. He was, however, a 3-time All-Star, so it's not like he was a bad player. And Oriole Park at Camden Yards has a close right-field fence. But this season, a Playoff season for the O's, was very suspicious. 


September 29, 2000: The Yankees lose to the Orioles 13-2 at Camden Yards, but the Red Sox lose to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-6, so the Yanks back into the AL East title. This was in a stretch where the Yankees lost 13 out of 16, including Game 1 of the ALDS, and many of us, myself included, were afraid they would blow the Division title.

Also on this day, the Xcel Energy Center opens in St. Paul, Minnesota, on the site of the old St. Paul Civic Center. It is home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild, and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx used it as their home court while the Target Center underwent Summer renovations in 2017, much as the New York Liberty had to play at the Prudential Center while Madison Square Garden did the same.

Also on this day, the film Remember the Titans premieres. Denzel Washington plays Herman Boone, football coach at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. (Thomas Chambliss Williams had been superintendent of the city's public schools.)

In 1971, Alexandria consolidated its 3 high schools: The centrally-located Williams became the only high school, and George Washington and Francis C. Hammond (the latter named for a local Korean War hero) were converted into middle schools. Contrary to the film, though, all 3 were integrated when Williams opened in 1965 -- as were all of their opponents. A new, larger building for Williams opened in 2007, and the school seen in the film was demolished.

The film correctly shows that Williams went 13-0 and won the State Championship, but it suggests that several of Williams' 1971 games were close. Most games were blowout wins. And the car accident that paralyzed linebacker Gerry Bertier occurred after the season, not between the Semifinal and the Final. So the film didn't even remember the Titans with full accuracy.

September 29, 2001, 20 years ago: Saturday Night Live premieres its 27th season, on time, despite the 9/11 attacks having taken place just 18 days before. The show begins with Mayor Rudy Giuliani introducing Paul Simon, born in Newark but raised in Queens, and a longtime friend of SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, singing his 1969 hit "The Boxer" with New York policemen and firemen on the stage.

Then Giuliani tells Michaels it's okay to begin the show. Michaels, not wanting to seem insensitive, asks, "Can we be funny?" The audience laughs lightly. Giuliani: "Why start now?" The audience cracks up, followed by Rudy yelling the tagline, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!" (In the 1st season, 1975-76, the title was just Saturday Night, now Saturday Night Live, and they never changed the line.)

The host is Reese Witherspoon, and the musical guest is Alicia Keys, who sings "Fallin'" -- the Number 1 song in the country when the World Trade Center fell. If anyone connected with the show made the connection between the title and the attack, they didn't think it worth dropping the song.

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