MLB’s Most Oddly “Even” Game

On this date (August 13) in 1910, major league baseball saw one of its most “oddly even” games ever.  It was part of a double header played in Brooklyn between the Superbas (Dodgers) and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The first game of the double tilt had been a close contest, with the Pirates emerging with a 13-inning, 3-2 victory.   The last half of the double header, however, would prove an even tighter contest – and the time used in completing game one’s 13 innings would come into play.

First, here is the line score of Game 2, August 13, 1910

Pittsburgh         0 1 1    0 5 1   0 0 0      8   13   2

Brooklyn           0 0 0   3 3 0   0 2 0      8   13   2

The two-hour and five-minute game ended in an 8-8 tie, called due to darkness.  As you look at the line score, you’ll notice it was pretty even.  Each team scored eight runs on 13 hits and each squad made two errors.  But, when it came to an “evenly” played game, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Each team recorded 27 putouts (that’s, of course, pretty much a given for a complete nine innings).  Each team, however, also recorded: 13 assists; three walks; five strikeouts; one hit batsman; and one passed ball.  Further, the hitters collected their 13 safeties apiece on an identical 38 at bats and were awarded an identical five RBI per team. In addition, the pitchers on each team not only gave up eight runs for the game, each set of hurlers gave up seven earned runs over the nine innings.   So, we end up with two teams with identical totals for: runs scored; earned runs; putouts, assists; errors; at bats; hits; runs batted in; walks; strikeouts; hit batsmen; and passed balls.

Pirates' right fielder John Owen "Chief" Wilson hit the only home run in, arguably, MLB's most evenly contested game. Wilson hold the MLB record for triples in a season (36 in 1912).

Pirates’ right fielder John Owen “Chief” Wilson hit the only home run in, arguably, MLB’s most evenly contested game. Wilson holds the MLB record for triples in a season (36 in 1912).

Each team also collected one double – and each started a future Hall of Famer in LF (Fred Clarke for the Pirates and Zack Wheat for the Superbas).  Pittsburgh, however, had three additional extra base hits (two triples and a home run), while Brooklyn’s only additional extra base hit was a triple. In addition, the Pirates had a second future HOFer in the lineup (Honus Wagner at SS). As an aside, Nap Rucker, the starting pitcher for Brooklyn ended his career with 134 wins and, of course, 134 losses.


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Joel Youngblood – A Tale of Two Cities MLB-Style

Joel Youngblood - two hits, two teams, two cities, two Hall of Fame pitchers - all in a day's work.

Joel Youngblood – two hits, two teams, two cities, two Hall of Fame pitchers – all in a day’s work.

On this day (August 4) in 1982, outfielder Joel Youngblood made MLB history by becoming the only player to collect a base hit for two different major league teams in two different cities – on the same day.

He started the day with the Mets, playing an afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Youngblood opened the game in center field, batting third in the order.  After striking out in the first inning, Youngblood drove in two runs with a single in the top of the third.

Youngblood was then replaced in centerfield by Mookie Wilson in the bottom of the fourth – told by Mets’ manager George Bamberger that he had been traded to the Expos (for a player to be named later), who were scheduled to play in Philadelphia in Philadelphia that night.  Youngblood set off for Philadelphia, where the Expos were playing that night.

Youngblood immediately set out to join his own team – catching a 6:05 flight to Philadelphia – eventually arriving at Veterans Stadium with the game in progress. To his surprise, there was an Expos uniform, with his name already sewn on the back, waiting for him.  And, the Expos wasted no time getting there newest player into the game. Manager Jim Fanning sent Youngblood into right field and the number-two spot in the batting order (replacing Jerry White) in the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, Youngblood singled in his first Expos’ at bat.

Two hits, for two different teams in two different cities in one day – an historic accomplishment.  Youngblood’s day was even more amazing when you consider the pitchers he touched for his two safeties. In Chicago, it was future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, while in Philadelphia, it was future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

Youngblood, by the way, was a true utility player, manning every position except pitcher over his 14-season MLB career (right field – 455 games; left field – 237; third base – 218, second base – 173; center field 107; first base – 7; shortstop – 3, catcher – 1). In 1,408 games, he hit .265, with 80 home runs, 422 RBI and 60 stolen bases.  He made one All Star team (in an injury-plagued and strike-shortened 1981 season, when he hit .350 in 43 games for the Mets).  He best season was 1983, when he hit .292, with 17 homers and 53 RBI in 124 games (at four positions) for the San Francisco Giants.)

Coming soon, the monthly BBRT MLB review for July.  (Been a little busy here.)

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One final note, for BBRT’s Minnesota followers; Current Twins manager Ron Gardenhire played in the August 4 game for the Mets – coming in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning – after Youngblood head already “left the building.”

Ed Linke – Getting a Head Start on his Best Season

April 15, 2006: BaseballWhen Ed “Babe” Linke took the mound for the Washington Senators on this day (July 26) in 1935, he had no idea he was soon to start a unique double play – with his head.  In the bottom of the second, with one out, Yankee lead-off hitter and left fielder Jesse Hill smashed a line drive off Linke’s forehead.  The ball hit the right-handed hurler with such force it ricocheted back to Senators’ catcher Jack Redmond, who caught it on the fly and fired to Senators’ shortstop Red Kress, catching a surprised Ben Chapman (Yankee center fielder) off the bag for a 1-2-6 double play – completed as Linke lay semi-conscious on the mound.  Linke was carried off the field on a stretcher and spent two days in the hospital before returning to the Senators – to begin the most successful pitching streak of his six-year MLB career.

At the time of the beaning – including that game – Linke’s record on the season was 3-6, with a 7.52 ERA. (He would complete his MLB career at 22-22, 5.61.) However, for the remainder of 1935, after being felled by the Hill liner, Linke went 8-1, 3.03 in 11 starts and three relief appearances.  During that time, he also threw seven of his 13 career complete games – including a ten-inning, two-run (one earned) performance against the Indians on August 18 and a twelve-inning, three-run (two earned) outing against the Tigers on September 11.

The 23-year-old Linke finished up the season 11-7, 5.01. (The following year he would go 1-5, 7.10; and would be out of the major leagues by age 27.) The knock on the noggin’ didn’t seem to hurt Linke’s batting eye either, Hitting .259 at the time of the injury, Linke finished the season at .294, with one home run and nine RBI.  Clearly, Linke got a head start on his best season on this date 79 years ago.


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T-Mobile All Star FunFest – My Volunteer Stint

Yesterday, I completed my first five-hour shift as a volunteer at the T-Mobile® All Star FanFest – a 400,000+ square foot “playground” for baseball fans; part of the Twin Cities All Star Game activities. Today, I can hardly wait to get back for my Monday and Tuesday shifts. Billed (accurately) as “the world’s largest interactive baseball them park, FanFest is open July 11-15 (9 a.m.-8 p.m.) at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  (Tickets: $30-$35.)

Plenty of shopping opportunities - but lots of give-aways and free activities.

Plenty of shopping opportunities – but lots of give-aways and free activities.

FanFest features more than three dozen attractions – and offers something for baseball fans of all ages.  There are numerous historic displays (National Baseball Hall of Fame, Negro Leagues, Women in Baseball, World Baseball Classic, Hometown (Minnesota) Heroes and more.  There are also plenty of interactive displays. Attendees can take part in clinics and test their skills at fielding, hitting, pitching and base-running. For more sedentary activity, there are trivia competitions and you can “picture” yourself on your own Topps baseball card or behind the MLB Network news desk (both for free). You can collect free autographs from past, current and future baseball stars (in my first hour, I garnered Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Fergie Jenkins and Louis Tiant).  Giveaways abound, ranging from souvenir baseballs to foam fingers to balloon hats. In addition, attendees can purchase official All Star Game souvenirs (MLB Clubhouse Store) and visit a host of dealers offering baseball memorabilia from all eras and baseball-related products of all kinds.

I’d like to share a little bit about my first day as a volunteer at FanFest.  I’ll also include a link at the end of this post that will take you (if you are interested) to the story of how I came to be an on-the-floor volunteer for this All Star event.

July 11 – My First Actual Work (fun) Day

With my Friday shift starting at noon, I decided to arrive at FanFest early (about 9:30) and take in some of the activities.  It was a wise choice.  Before I had even worked my first shift, I:

  • Had a great conversation with Jim “Mudcat” Grant (we discussed his excitement not only over winning game six of the 1965 World Series for the Twins, but hitting a home run in that game);
  • Collected autographs from Grant, Fergie Jenkins and  Louis Tiant;
  • Purchased a trio of pins from the Pin Man, who offers one of the most complete selections of baseball-themed pins I have ever seen – and at reasonable prices. (I collect pins from ball parks or baseball events I attend and was able to fill in a couple of pins from events I attended before I started the collection).
  • Visited displays focused on the Negro Leagues, Women in Baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Minnesota Baseball Heroes.

I also had one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever tasted  – a Kansas City Royal Dog (pulled pork at the bottom, a layer of spicy relish, an all-beef hot dog, three pickle slices – all topped with coleslaw – messy, but delicious).

My assignment was at the MLB Network booth.

My assignment was at the MLB Network booth.

Then it was off to my assignment (led there by self-announced Yankee fan and Zone Supervisor Jim Barletto).  My first duties were at the MLB Network exhibit, where fans (for free) could get a photo of themselves at the MLB Network news desk (by themselves or with the MLB Network’s Harold Baines or Twins’ Mascot TC the Bear.) My job was pretty simple, moving chairs behind the news desk (to accommodate different size groups – from one to four) and ensuring people exited on the correct side of the “set.”

Other volunteers at my attraction worked to bring people into the exhibit or help them into one of the many different-sized MLB Network blue blazers for their picture.  In my five- hour session, we had fans of all ages (from as young as eight days to more than 80 years) – but they all seem to have one thing in common, smiles.  Everyone was having fun.

The people watching was pretty good.  While the majority of attendees were sporting some type of baseball apparel (with just about every major league city represented), there were also those in suits and ties, dresses and heels, and even a Goth look or two. There were also lots a freshly painted faces – everything from butterflies to baseballs – foam fingers and balloon hats. Again, the visitors to  our activity still had plenty in common – baseball, a spirit of fun and anticipation over how their photo souvenirs would turn out.

I scored a few top-notch autographs

I scored a few top-notch autographs

After finishing my shift, I took another hour to tour the FanFest floor (you really need to devote several hours to truly take it all in.  I had a personal Topps baseball card made (free), as well as a Greetings from Minnesota photo (in an American League All Star Jersey with Target Field as the backdrop – also free).  That, by the way, is one of the great things about FanFest, once you get in, there are a host of free activities and giveaways.

As I said, I have two more shifts to work and plenty more to see, so I’m anxious to get back.

Now, if you are interested, here is a link to the story of how I came to be a FanFest volunteer.


Mike Lansing – Holds Yellow Jersey of MLB Cycles

On this date (June 18), 14 years ago, Colorado Rockies’ second baseman Mike Lansing earned the “Yellow Jersey” of MLB “cycles,” – complete the cycle in just four innings.

LansingLansing, hitting second in the order, hit an RBI triple to right in the first inning (getting the most difficult leg of the cycle out of the way), added a two-run home run in the bottom of the second, hit a two-run double in the bottom of the third (as the Rockies scored nine times to take a 14-1 lead), and then completed the cycle with a single to right in the fourth. Lansing then struck out in the sixth, before being pinch hit for in the eighth.  Lansing’s day?  Four-for-five, three runs, five RBI and MLB’s quickest-ever cycle, as the Rockies topper Arizona 19-2.

Drafted (in the sixth round of the MLB draft) out of Wichita State, where he was a 1989 All American, the  6’/175 lb. right-hander was primarily a second baseman in his nine- season major league career – although he also saw considerable time at third base and shortstop. He hit .275 with 14 home runs, 120 RBI and 90 stolen bases in three minor league seasons (193 games) before making the Montreal Expos roster in 1993.  In his rookie season, Lansing appeared in 141 games, going .287-3-45, with 23 steals.

Never an All Star, Lansing proved a valuable, reliable and versatile roster addition during his career (1993-2001 -Expos/Rockies/Red Sox) –finishing with a .271 average, 84 home runs, 440 RBI and 119 steals in 1,110 games. Lansing reached 20 home runs once (1997), topped 20 steals three times (1993-95-96), and hit 40 or more doubles twice (1996-97). Injuries took their toll late in his career and in his final two MLB seasons, he hit just .243.

In addition to his fastest-ever cycle, Lansing shares (with 54 others) the record for the most home runs in an inning (two). On May 7, 1997, Lansing hit a two-run and three-run homer in a 13-run sixth inning as the Expos topped the Giants 19-3 in San Francisco.

For the game, Lansing was four-for-five, with three runs and five RBI.

Joe Wilhoit – Greatest Comeback Ever?

WilhoitWichita Jobbers’ outfielder Joe Wilhoit’s professional baseball career truly appeared to be “down and out” when he beat out an infield single in the first inning of a game played on this date (June 14) in 1919.  Wilhoit, a former major leaguer who had appeared in the World Series just two years before, found himself playing in the low minor leagues (Class A) and struggling to hit his weight (the 6’ 2”, 175-pounder was hitting just .198 at the time).   Little did Wilhoit realize that his scratch hit would start a comeback that stretched all the way to the Boston Red Sox and the baseball record books.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let’s take a look at Joe Wilhoit’s baseball journey.

Wilhoit, a “plus” outfield defender got a late start on his professional career (after attending DePaul University), but seemed destined to make the most of it.  In 1916, at age 30, he was signed by the National League Boston Braves after hitting a combined .323 in three minor league seasons (394 games).

Note: Wilhoit did play semipro ball while at DePaul and “late start” may be a misnomer, as Wilhoit’s year of birth – listed as 1885 in the Baseball Encyclopedia – has been noted as being as late as 1891 in other sources.

On Opening Day 1916, Wilhoit found himself batting third and playing RF for the Boston Club – going 0-for-3, but driving in a run on a sacrifice fly as the Braves won 5-1 over Brooklyn. Major League pitching proved tough to handle for Wilhoit, who managed just four hits in 31 at bats in his first month in the big leagues.  He finished his rookie season hitting .230, with two homers, 28 RBI and 18 steals in 116 games.

The following year, Wilhoit truly “hit the road.”  He started the season with the Braves, hitting .274 in 54 games.  Then in late July, the Braves let him go (for the waiver price) to the Pirates, where he played in just nine games (getting two hits in 10 at bats), before moving on again (on August 5) in another waiver move, this time to the contending New York Giants.  Wilhoit seemed to finally find his stroke, finishing up the season by hitting .340 in 34 games (17-for-50) with the Giants.   He even got into two games in the World Series (as a pinch hitter) – lining into a double play in the eighth inning of game two and drawing a walk in the fifth inning of game six. In 1918, however, his struggles at the plate resurfaced and he got into just 64 games for the Giants, hitting .274, with no home runs and 15 RBI.

In 1919, the downward slide became steeper, as Wilhoit started the year with the Seattle Raniers of the Pacific Coast League, where he was hitting just .164 after 17 games. Next stop on the slide was Wichita of the Class A Western League, where (as noted earlier in this post) Joe’s hitting woes continued – until that June 14, 1919, infield single.

From that moment forward, Joe Wilhoit embarked on an unbelievable – and still unmatched – hitting streak.  From June 14 to August 19, Wilhoit hit in a professional baseball record 69 consecutive games.   During the streak, Wilhoit had 50 multi-hit games, compiled a .515 batting average (153 for 297), and collected 37 extra base hits (four home runs, nine triples and 24 doubles).  Wilhoit ultimately led the Western League in batting average at .422 – collecting 222 hits in 128 games.

The biggest mid-streak threat came in game 62 (the first game of an August 14 double header) at Omaha. Wilhoit was hitless after nine innings – and with the score tied 3-3 in the Omaha half of the ninth, the potential winning (and streak-ending) run was thrown out at the plate. Wilhoit, given new life, continued the streak in style, with a game-winning two-run home run in the 11th inning.

The streak finally ended (at 69 games) on August 19, with Wichita playing Tulsa in Wichita.  Wilhoit came to the plate four times and and recorded a strikeout, fly out and ground out, before drawing an unpopular walk in his final trip to the plate.  The home town fans reportedly gave Joe a long ovation and passed hats through the stands – collecting more than $600 for the popular outfielder (the average monthly pay in Class A at the time was around $200).

Wilhoit’s comeback earned him a return ticket  to the major leagues, where he went 6-for-18 (.333) with five walks in six games with the Boston Red Sox.  Despite the late season look, Wilhoit was back in the minors in 1920, hitting .300 at AA Toledo.  From there, it was three seasons at Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League – where he hit .339, .317 and .360, before retiring from baseball.  Wilhoit died of lung cancer in 1930.

To this day, the longest hitting streak  in baseball history belongs to a guy named Joe – and it’s not DiMaggio.

Five Home Runs In One Inning Has Hitters Seeing “Reds”

On this date (June 9) 48 years ago (1966), the Minnesota Twins became the first – and still only – American League team to hit five home runs in a single inning.  The fact that the Twins remain the only AL team to go deep five times in a single frame could be connected to the fact that the Cincinnati Reds play in the National League.  NL clubs have enjoyed a five-homer inning on four different occasions – and, in every instance, the Reds were the victims.  We’ll take a look at the historic innings in detail, but here are a few facts from the five-homer outbursts.

  • The Cincinnati Reds have been the victims of four of the five five-homer innings.
  • The home team has put on the power display four of the five times.
  • Fourteen of the 25 home runs have come with two outs.
  • Pitchers have contributed (as hitters) HRs in two of the five five-homer innings.
  • Twice the victimized team (Reds both times) has been in first place.
  • One of the five-homer innings was kept alive by three fielding errors.
  • One of the five-homer innings included two home runs by one player in the inning.
  • Two of the five power outbursts included an inside the park home run.
  • The five-homer innings have featured the scoring of 43 runs – the fewest at six, the most at 12.

Now, let’s take a closer look at those five-homer innings.



June 9, 1966 … Minnesota Twins versus Kansas City Athletics

Harmon Killibrew's second homer of the day helped Twins tie the record.

Harmon Killibrew’s second homer of the day helped Twins tie the record.

Things did not start out well for the Twins on the day of their historic power display.  With the game being played at Metropolitan Stadium (Bloomington, MN), the Athletics got off to a fast start, knocking out Twins’ ace Camilo Pascual in the top of the first. (Pascual lasted 2/3 of an inning, giving up four runs on three hits and a walk.) With Catfish Hunter on the mound, the Twins’ chances looked slim.  The Twins scored one in the fifth and two in the sixth (on a Harmon Killebrew home run) and then, trailing 4-3, broke the game open with five home runs in the seventh.

It started innocently enough with a Catfish Hunter walk to C Early Battey, followed by an infield fly out for 2B Bernie Allen. That brought pinch hitter (for the pitcher) Rich Rollins to the plate, and he hit the inning’s first homer (just the second of ten HRs Rollins would hit in 1966). Lead-off hitter SS Zoilo Versalles followed with his fifth homer of the year – and Paul Lindblad replaced Hunter on the mound. Lindblad got Twins’ LF Sandy Valdespino on a grounder to short, but then gave up consecutive round trippers to RF Tony Oliva (his 14th) and 1B Don Mincher (his 6th). That brought John Wyatt in from the bullpen and he quickly gave up a home run to 3B Harmon Killebrew (his second of the day and 11th of the year). Wyatt then gave up a double to RF Jimmie Hall and Battey reached on an error before Bernie Allen ended the inning on a ground ball (catcher to first).

The Inning’s HR Hitters:  Rich Rollins, Zoilo Versallers, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher, Harmon Killebrew 

Final Score:  Twins 9 – Athletics 4



June 6, 1939 … NY Giants versus Cincinnati Reds

Pitcher Manny Salvo  hit an inside-the-park home run in Giants five-homer inning.

Pitcher Manny Salvo hit an inside-the-park home run in Giants five-homer inning.

The first-ever five-home run MLB inning took place in New York on June 6, 1930, as the sixth-place Giants (20-24 record) surprised the league-leading Reds (29-15) by a 17-3 score, plating all 17 runs in the first five innings.

The record-setting power display came in the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Giants already up 6-0.  Peaches Davis, who had relieved Johnny Vander Meer in the first inning (Vander Meer had given up six hits and three runs in 2/3 of an inning), retired Giants’ LF Jo Jo Moore and SS Billy Jurgess to start the inning. Then the wheels came off.  C Harry Danning laced a home run to center (his sixth). Then clean-up hitter Mel Ott drew a walk, 1B Zeke Bonura singled and CF Frank Demaree hit the second home run of the inning (his second of the season).  That ended Davis’ day and brought Wesley Livengood (whose MLB career would consist of five appearances and a 9.53 ERA) to the hill. Livengood was not so good, he walked Tony Lazzeri and then gave up a home run to 2B Burgess Whitehead (the first of only two he would it in 1939).  Giants’ pitcher Manny Salvo was up next. A weak hitter (at best), Salvo surprised everyone in the ball park with the only home run of his five-season MLB career – an inside-the-park round tripper off the right field fence.  Next up was lead-off hitter Moore, who hit the fifth and final homer of the inning (and his second of the day).  And, all of this with two out. Livengood’s line for the day:  1/3 inning pitched, three hits, two walks, four earned runs (3 HRs).

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters: Harry Danning, Frank Demaree, Burgess Whitehead, Manny Salvo, Jo Jo Moore

Final Score:  Giants 17 – Reds 3


June 2, 1949… Philadelphia Phillies versus Cincinnati Reds

Andy Seminick hit two round trippers in the Phillies' five-homer inning.

Andy Seminick hit two round trippers in the Phillies’ five-homer inning.

Ten seasons passed before the next five-homer inning – and the victims were again the Reds.  This time the bashing came off the bats of the Phillies (in Philadelphia).  It started out as a close game, with the Reds actually leading 3-2 after seven innings behind a strong performance by starting pitcher Ken Raffensberger (who would win 18 games that season). Things, however, went awry in the bottom of the eighth.

CF Del Ennis (the Phillies’ clean-up hitter) led off the inning with a home run (his 7th of the season), which was followed by C Andy Seminick’s second home run of the game – marking Raffensberger’s exit. Jess Dobernic came on in relief and retired RF Stan Hollmig on a liner to short before giving up a home run to 3B Willie Jones (his third of the year). Dobrenic then induced a soft fly ball out to second base by 2B Eddie Miller, bringing up P Schoolboy Rowe, who had relieved Philadelphia starter Curt Simmons in the top of the eighth  (Stan Lopata had pinch hit for Simmons in the bottom of the seventh.) Rowe promptly rapped a home run to left (the only home run of the year for the 39-year-old veteran, in his last MLB season). Kent Petersen came on in relief of Dobernic and added fuel to the fire in this order:  walk to CF Richie Ashburn, double to SS Granny Hamner, 1B Eddie Waitkus safe on an error (Ashburn scores), an Ennis single to right (Hamner scores), and Seminick’s second home run of the inning (third of the game and seventh of the season). That was the end of the home runs, but the inning continued with the Phillies adding another run on a hit batsman and a triple.  Suddenly a 3-2 Reds lead was a 12-3 deficit.

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters; Del Ennis, Andy Seminick (2),  Willie Jones, Schoolboy Rowe

Final Score:  Phillies 12 – Reds 3


August 23, 1961 … San Francisco Giants versus Cincinnati Reds

Jim Davenport contributed a three-run inside-the-park homer to the Giants record-tying inning.

Jim Davenport contributed a three-run inside-the-park homer to the Giants record-tying inning.

Twelve seasons after five-home inning number two, it happened again – and for the third straight time, the Reds were the victims – and this time they were are home.  On August 23, 1961, another close game became a late inning route.  The Reds trailed the San Francisco Giants 2-0 after 8 innings with both starters (Juan Marichal for the Giants and Joey Jay for the Reds) still in the game.  A low-scoring game was expected, Marichal game into the contest with a 12-7 record for the third-place Giants, while Jay was 18-7 for the first-place Reds.

In the top of the ninth, however, the Giants broke the contest wide open.  1B Willie McCovey opened with a double off Jay and then scored on an error by Reds’ 2B Don Blasingame after a Willie Mays pop out. LF Orlando Cepeda and RF Felipe Alou followed with a pair of deep home runs (to center and left, respectively). It was Cepeda’s 36th of the year and Alou’s 15th.  That brought Jim Brosnan in from the bullpen – and led to a fly ball out by C John Orsino, singles to SS Jose Pagan and Marichal, 2B Joey Amalfitano reaching on an error by Reds’ third baseman Gene Freese (Pagan scoring), a three-run inside-the-park home run by 3B Jim Davenport (his 8th homer of the year) and a single to McCovey.  Next in the line of fire (relieving Brosnan) was Bill Henry, who gave up a two-run homer to Willie Mays (his 34th of the season), a single to Cepeda, and had Alou reach on Freese’s second error of the inning (and the Reds’ third miscue of the frame). Orsino then took Henry deep (just his second of the year) before Pagan struck out to mercifully end the 12-run, ninth-inning uprising.

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters:  Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Jim Davenport, Willie Mays, John Orsino

Final Score:  Giants 14 – Reds  0


April 22, 2006 … Milwaukee Brewers versus Cincinnati Reds

Prince Fielder put the frosting on the cake for the Brewers.

Prince Fielder put the frosting on the cake for the Brewers.

The Brewers were less than hospitable hosts to the Reds on April 22, 2006 – when they pounded the visitors 11-0, racking up the fourth five-homer inning against the Reds’ franchise along the way.   The outburst came in the bottom of the fourth inning with starter Brandon Claussen still on the mound and the Reds trailing 3-0.

Milwaukee 3B Bill Hall (the number-six hitter) started it with a home run (his third of the young season). Then 2B Richie Weeks singled to left, scoring on C Damian Miller’s home run (his 1st of the year). That seemed to establish a (brief) HR-1B-HR pattern, as Brewers’ pitcher Dave Bush followed the Miller home run with a single and CF Brady Clark backed up the Bush single with his first home run of 2006. SS J.J. Hardy broke the pattern with a home run (his 3rd of the year).  At this point, Claussen had faced six batters in the inning, giving up four home runs and two singles – and his day was done.  Chris Hammond came on in relief and provided just that, striking out the first two batters he faced (RF Geoff Jenkins and LF Carlos Lee).  Then Prince Fielder gave the Brewers a piece of the five-homer in one inning record, hitting his third of the year. The carnage ended on a fly out to center by Hall.

The Inning;s Home Run  Hitters: Bill Hall, Damian Miller, Brady Clark, J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder

Final Score:  Brewers 11 – Reds 0

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June 4, 1972 – The Day of the Pitcher (and how the game has changed)

Bob Gibson – Pitcher of the Day on the Day of the Pitcher

Threw a complete game shutout – and hit a Two-Run homer. 


There is no doubt 1968 “earned” its reputation as “The Year of the Pitcher.”  Witness the Tigers’ Denny McLain’s 31 wins (versus six losses) and 1.96 ERA, the 1.12 ERA and 13 shutouts rung up by the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson, or the fact that Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox claimed the American League batting crown with a .301 average. To put the frosting on the cake, McLain and Gibson not only captured their respective league Cy Young Awards, but were both recognized as league MVP as well.

Well, if 1968 was the Year of the Pitcher, June 4, 1972 (42 years ago, today) was “The Day of the Pitcher.” On that date, with sixteen MLB games scheduled, a record eight resulted in shutouts – and the pitchers who took the mound across MLB that day combined for a collective 2.78 ERA.

I’ll look at those record eight whitewashes in more detail, but first a few tidbits that show just how much the game has changed.

  • It was a Sunday and the day featured doubleheaders at Baltimore, Chicago (White Sox), Kansas City and San Francisco.  (I really miss Sunday doubleheaders.)
  • Despite the fact that five games featured 10 or more total runs scored, 11 of the 16 games finished in under 2 ½ hours (four in under 2 hours), and the longest game was 3 hours and 9 minutes. (And, there were no challenges or instant replays.)
  • The average length of the 16 games was 2 hours and 35 minutes.
  • Pitchers went to the plate in every game, collecting 13 hits (78 at bats), two walks, three doubles, and one home run.  Overall, hurlers scored three runs and drove in ten. (I still do not like the DH.)
  • There were eight complete games, not all in the shutouts. (Pitch counts did not dominate commentary.)
  • There were six saves recorded that day – and, in four of those saves, the closing reliever pitched two or more innings.

The Shutouts

Now, here’s a look at the record-setting eight shutouts – which, by the way, were not good news for the fans in attendance – only one home team was on the right end of the whitewashing.

Oakland at Baltimore (Doubleheader … 2-0 & 2-0 … Oakland wins both)

Oakland set the tone at Baltimore, blanking the Orioles by the identical score of 2-0 in both games of a doubleheader. In each game, the A’s scored twice in the top of the first inning for the only runs in the contest.

In game one, the scoring was over after the first four batters.  SS Marty Martinez led off the game with a walk, LF Joe Rudi singled, Martinez scored on a single by RF Reggie Jackson and then Rudi came home as 3B Sal Bando hit into a short-to-second-to-first double play.  No more runners crossed the plate for either team. Dave Hamilton picked up the win (to go 2-0) with six innings of six-hit ball (no walks, one strikeout), Rollie Fingers picked up a hold (2/3 of an inning, one hit) and Darold Knowles earned his second save f the season with 2 1/3 scoreless innings (one hit, four strikeouts).  Doyle Alexander (3-2) took the loss for the O’s, despite pitching seven innings of two-run ball.

Catfish Hunter faced only 28 batters in his two-hit shutout (no walks, one double play). Allowed no base runners after the third inning.

Catfish Hunter faced only 28 batters in his two-hit shutout (no walks, one double play). Allowed no base runners after the third inning.

In game two, Sal Bando hit a two-run home run with two-out in the first inning to account for all the game’s scoring (SS Bert Campaneris had led off the inning with a double). Catfish Hunter (6-2) got the win with a complete game two-hitter (no walks, and four strikeouts). Mike Cueller (2-5), who gave up two runs in six innings, took the loss.

Cincinnati at Philadelphia (2-0 … Reds win)

Another 2-0 shutout, this one in Philadelphia – and, again, the scoring was over in the top of the first inning, this time after just three batters. Reds’ lead-off hitter LF Pete Rose started the game with a single off the Phlllies’ Bill Champion (who took the loss to go 3-3 on the season), CF Bobby Tolan followed with another single and then C Johnny Bench rapped a two-run double – scoring over.

The Reds Jack Billingham (3-4) got the win, throwing 7 2/3 innings of six-hit ball (no walks, six strikeouts), Relief was provided by Tommy Hall (1/3 inning, one hit, one strikeout) and Clay Carroll (one inning, one hit, one strikeout), who earned his tenth save.

Minnesota at Detroit (3-0 … Tigers win)

The Tigers topped the Twins 3-0 at Detroit behind Tim Timmerman’s (4-4) complete-game four-hitter (one walk, six strikeouts) – one of just two shutouts in Timmerman’s six MLB seasons.  Bert Blyleven (7-4), who would throw sixty complete-game shutouts in his 22-year career, took the loss in a game that was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh. Blyleven gave up just two hits in seven innings of work (one walk, six strikeouts), but one was a seventh-inning, two-run home run by Detroit CF Mickey Stanley (following a hit batter, RF Jim Northrup).

Boston at Kansas City (4-0 … Red Sox win)

In the first game of a doubleheader, Boston beat Kansas City 4-0 behind John Curtis (2-0). Curtis fashioned a complete-game seven-hitter (two walks, five strikeouts). The losing pitcher for the Royals was Mike Hedlund (0-5), who gave two runs on six hits in two innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the second.  Kansas City took the second game of the twin bill 7-5.

Texas at Milwaukee (10-0 … Rangers win)

Rich handRich Hand (2-3) had the shortest – and least effective – work day of any of the winning starters in this day of shutouts.  Hand, who was having control problems, pitched five scoreless innings – giving up four hits and five walks, while fanning one batter. Hand pitched out of trouble in the fourth inning (getting a line-drive double play with the bases loaded and one out) and fifth inning (a fly ball out with the bases loaded, thanks to three walks). When he walked the first hitter in the sixth, Hand’s day was done. Mike Paul came on to throw two-innings of scoreless relief (no hits, two walks, three strikeouts) and Horacio Pena finished up (two innings, two hits, no walks, two whiffs) for his eighth save. The game as never in doubt, as Texas scored six runs on six hits, two walks and an error in the top of the first. Brewers’ starter Skip Lockwood (2-5) lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up six runs on five hits and two walks. Notably, Texas collected a total of 14 hits in the game – 13 singles and a double.

Saint Louis at Los Angeles (4-0 … Cardinals win)

Cardinals’ fire-baller Bob Gibson (3-5) shut down the Dodgers 4-0 in LA – throwing a complete-game five hitter, with one walk and six strikeouts. Gibson added insult to injury by belting a two-run homer in the top of the ninth.  Saint Louis 3B Joe Torre also homered in the game (fifth inning). Losing pitcher Claude Osteen (6-3) didn’t pitch badly, giving up two runs in six innings on seven hits (two walks and three K’s). Gibson would finish the year 19-11, 2.46, while Osteen would go 20-11. 2.64.

Houston at Montreal (5-0 … Astros win)

Houston’s Don Wilson (4-4) went the distance in this one – a two-hitter, with two walks and six strikeouts. The game was a lot closer than the score would indicate, as Montreal starter Carl Morton (who took the loss to go to 2-6) matched Wilson zero-for-zero through seven innings. Then, with two out in the eighth, Morton gave up a solo home run to Houston CF Cesar Cedeno (his fourth of the season).  Morton’s line in a losing cause was eight innings, five hits, one run, two walks, and one strikeout.  Things came apart in the ninth, when Montreal brought in Mike Marshall. Marshall retired only one batter while giving up two walks, three hits and four runs. John Strohmayer finished up for the Expos.


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Minnesota’s MLB All Star Games – 1965 & 1985

Ready to welcome the 2014 All Stars.

Ready to welcome the 2014 All Stars.

Like most Minnesotans, I am looking forward to the 2014 All Star game (and all the related festivities) at Target Field.  The anticipation led me to reflect on the previous All Star games hosted by our Twins – 1965 at Met Stadium (Bloomington) and 1985 at the Hubert H.  Humphrey Metrodome (Minneapolis). I missed the 1965 game (serving in the Air Force overseas), but made it to the (less exciting) 1985 contest.



The 1965 All Star Game drew 46,706 fans to Metropolitan Stadium and they got their money’s worth as the National League won 6-5, with Willie Mays scoring the winning run on a Ron Santo infield single in the seventh inning.  Given the line-ups (see below), it’s surprising the game was so close. Going into the game, the two leagues had split the All Star contests evenly (17-17, with one tie).  The NL win actually gave the senior circuit its first lead in the series – and, what a National League lineup the fans got to see in Minnesota that day (remember, no interleague play back then)!  There were six future Hall of Famers in the NL starting nine alone.  Here’s the game-opening line-up (future Hall of Famers in bold.)

Willie Mays (Giants) CF

Hank Aaron (Braves) RF

Willie Stargell (Pirates)

LF Richie Allen (Phillies) 3B

Joe Torre* (Braves) C

Ernie Banks (Cubs) 1B

Pete Rose (Reds) 2B

Maury Wills (Dodgers) SS

Juan Marichal (Giants) P

*Torre going into HOF as manager this year.

Willie Mays - led off 1965 All Star Game, at Metropolitan Stadium, with a home run.

Willie Mays – led off 1965 All Star Game, at Metropolitan Stadium, with a home run.

The NL players who came into the game off the bench weren’t bad either: Roberto Clemente (Pirates); Frank Robinson (Reds); Billy Williams (Cubs); Ron Santo (Cubs); Leo Cardenas (Reds); Cookie Rojas (Phillies).

The NL pitching staff was equally loaded.  Marichal was relieved in order by: Jim Maloney (Reds); Don Drysdale (Dodgers); Sandy Koufax (Dodgers); Turk Farrell (Astros); and Bob Gibson (Cardinals).

On the AL side the lineup included two future HOFers, Brooks Robinson and the Twins’ own Harmon Killebrew.  (Twins’ fans did get a treat that day.  Not only did catcher Earl Battey join Killebrew in the starting line-up, but AL manager Al Lopez worked Twins Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Jimmie Hall and Mudcat Grant into the contest. The Twins, of course, were on their way to a 102-60 season and the AL pennant.)  The AL starting nine looked like this:

Dick McAuliffe (Tigers) SS

Brooks Robinson (Orioles) 3B

Harmon Killebrew (Twins) 1B

Rocky Colavito (Indians) RF

Willie Horton (Tigers) LF

Felix Mantilla (Red Sox) 2B

Vic Davalillo (Indians) CF

Earl Battey (Twins) C

Milt Pappas (Orioles) P

Off the bench, the fans saw:  Al Kaline (Tigers); Tony Oliva (Twins); Max Alvis (Indians); Joe Pepitone (Yankees); Bobby Richardson (Yankees); Zoilo Versalles (Twins); Mike Freehan (Tigers); and Jimmie Hall (Twins).

Following Pappas to the mound were: Mudcat Grant (Twins); Pete Richert (Senators); Sam McDowell (Indians); and Eddie Fisher (White Sox). A few in-game highlights:

  • Willie Mays led off the first inning with a long homer to left center; and, later in the inning, Joe Torre hit a two-run shot to left (Willie Stargell scoring). It was, by the way, a bit of a homecoming for Mays.  Minneapolis was his last stop on the way to the majors.  Before his call-up in 1951, Mays played 35 games for the Minneapolis Milllers (AAA), hitting .477, with eight home runs, 30 RBI and five steals.
  • The Twins’ Mudcat Grant relieved Milt Pappas to open the second, and the NL stretched the lead to 5-0 on a two-run homer by Stargell.
  • Meanwhile, Juan Marichal threw three innings of scoreless, one-hit ball.
  • With Jim Maloney on the mound, the AL came back with one run in the bottom of the fourth – on a Dick McAuliffe single, a walk to Harmon Killebrew and a run-scoring single by Rocky Colavito.
  • The wheels came off for Maloney with two out and nobody on in the fifth. He walked the Twins’ Jimmie Hall, then gave up a two-run homer to Dick McAuliffe. Brooks Robinson followed with a single and Killebrew thrilled the crowd with a long and high homer to left center.  With the game now tied at five, Don Drysdale came in and got Colavito on a grounder to second to end the inning.
  • The only other scoring came in the top of the seventh, when Sam McDowell walked Mays, who moved to third on a single by Hank Aaron and scored (the go-ahead and winning run) on an infield hit by Ron Santo.
  • Gibson threw the final two innings for the NL and had to work out of two tough jams. With two outs in the eighth, Zoilo Versalles (walk) on third and Mike Freehan on second (single), Gibson got Hall on a fly out to center.  Then, after the Tony Oliva led off the ninth with a double (putting the tying run in scoring position), Gibson got Max Alvis to pop up an attempted bunt before striking out Killebrew and Joe Pepitone.
  • Showing just how different the contest was: Mays, Aaron, Ernie Banks, Pete Rose, Killebrew and Willie Horton played the whole game.
  • Overall, 16 future HOFers took the field during the game.

Juan Marichal’s three scoreless innings (just one hit) earned him MVP honors.


I was among the 54,960 fans who packed the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for the 1985 All Star Game.  By this time, the NL had a 35-19-1 lead in the series, but the AL looked to have the more solid line-up this year. It was a great day to be a San Diego fan – five members of the starting line-up were Padres and seven Padres took the field that day.  Here are the NL starters (future Hall of Famers in bold):

Tony Gwynn (Padres) LF

Tommy Herr (Cardinals) 2B

Steve Garvey (Padres) 1B

Dale Murphy (Braves) CF

Daryl Strawberry (Mets) RF

Graig Nettles (Padres) 3B

Terry Kennedy (Padres) C

Ozzie Smith (Cardinals) SS

Lamar Hoyt (Padres) P

85 hatPlayers we saw coming in off the bench: Ryne Sandberg (Cubs); Jose Cruz (Astros); Tim Raines (Expos); Tony Pena (Pirates); Jack Clark (Cardinals); Willie McGee (Cardinals);  Dave Parker (Reds); Tim Wallach (Expos); Ozzie Virgil (Phillies); Pete Rose (Reds); Glenn Wilson (Phillies); Garry Templeton (Padres).

On the mound, Hoyt was followed by: Nolan Ryan (Astros); Fernando Valenzuela (Dodgers); Jeff Reardon (Expos): Goose Gossage (Padres).

Rooting for the home team AL, I was pleased to see a strong, veteran starting nine (seven future Hall of Famers).  As a Twins’ fan, I was disappointed to see only Tom Brunansky on the AL squad. (The Twins were on their way to a 77-85 fourth-place finish.)  The AL lineup:

Rickey Henderson (Yankees) CF

Lou Whitaker (Tigers) 2B

George Brett (Royals) 3B

Eddie Murray (Orioles) 1B

Cal Ripken, Jr. (Orioles) SS

Dave Winfield (Yankees) RF

Jim Rice (Red Sox) LF

Carlton Fisk (White Sox) C

Jack Morris (Tigers) P

Reserves who got into the game included: Paul Molitor (Brewers): Wade Boggs (Red Sox); Damaso Garcia (Blue Jays); Phil Bradley (Mariners): Tom Brunansky (Twins): Alan Trammel (Tigers): Ernie Whitt (Blue Jays): Gary Ward (Rangers): Rich Gedman (Red Sox); Harold Baines (White Sox); Cecil Cooper (Brewers): Don Mattingly (Yankees) 1B.

Following Morris to the hill (in order) were: Jimmy Key (Blue Jays) ; Bert Blyleven (Indians); Dave Steib (Blue Jays); Donnie Moore (Angels); Dan Petry (Tigers); and Willie Hernandez (Tigers).

Despite being played indoors and in a stadium often called the “Homer Dome,” the game itself was “homer-less” – with the NL topping the AL 6-1 and the NL hurlers allowing AL hitters just five singles.  There weren’t many highlight (especially for AL fans), but here’s a few.

  • After Jack Morris retired the NL in order in the top of the first, Rickey Henderson led off the bottom half with single, then – after a Lou Whitaker fly out – stole second and went to third on an errant throw. He then scored (an unearned run) on a George Brett sacrifice fly.
  • The NL came back with a run in the second (off Morris) on a single by Daryl Strawberry, a stolen base and a single by Terry Kennedy.
  • In the third, the NL knocked Morris out of the game (and took the lead for good) on a two-out/none-on double by Tommy Herr and a run-scoring single by Steve Garvey.  Dale Murphy followed with a ground-rule double to left, then Strawberry drew a walk, before Jimmy Key came into get the final out on a Graig Nettles’ foul-ball pop-up.
  • The NL added two more in the fifth – when Bert Blyleven hit Strawberry with a pitch, Tim Wallach doubled (with Strawberry holding at third) and Ozzie Virgil plated them both with a single.
  • The scoring wrapped up in the top of the ninth, when Dan Petry walked Ryne Sandberg to open the inning, then loaded the bases with walks to Tim Raines and Jack Clark (sandwiched around a Tony Pena strikeout.)  Willie Hernandez came in and gave up a two-run ground rule double to Willie McGee before getting out of the inning.
  • Ozzie Smith and Rice played the whole game.
  • Tom Brunansky came in to play RF in the seventh, and grounded to short (8th inning) in his only at bat.
  • Overall, 14 future HOFers played in the game.

Winning pitcher Lamar Hoyt (three innings pitched, two hits, one unearned run) was the game’s MVP.

The AL did have a minor highlight.  The 1985 All Star Game marked the first-ever official All Star Home Run Derby.  That year, each league selected five players, who each got two turns at bat (five outs per turn, any swing not producing a home run counting as an out).  That first HR Derby was won by the AL.  Here are the totals:

AL – 17  HR

Jim Rice                      4 HR

Eddie Murray              4

Carlton Fisk                4

Tom Brunansky           4

Cal Ripken. Jr.             1

NL – 16

Dave Parker                6

Dale Murphy               4

Steve Garvey              2

Ryne Sandberg           2

Jack Clark                   2


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Hondo’s “Week of the Hitter”

Today marks the 36th Anniversary of the final day of one of the most remarkable weeks any major leaguer ever had at the plate  – and, this “Week of the Hitter” came in the midst of the 1968 season, often referred to as the “Year of the Pitcher.”

Between May 12 and May 18 of that hurler-dominated season, Washington Senators’ hulking first baseman Frank “Hondo” Howard made history by banging out a record 10 home runs in a single week (six games). In that span, Howard went 13-for-24 (.542), homered in all six games, drove in 17 runs and scored 10 times. His 13 hits included the ten homers, one double and two singles, for a slugging percentage of 1.833.  Howard struck out four times in the six games and, surprisingly, despite the hot streak, was walked only once.

A few notes on Howard’s streak.

  • Five of the six contests were on the road (Detroit, Cleveland, Boston) – only the first game was at home.
  • Washington had a 3-3 record during the streak.
  • Both the first home run and last home run (last two, actually) in the streak were hit against the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich.
  • Howard’s 17 RBI represent 59 percent of the runs scored by the Senators during the streak.
  • Howard’s HR-victims were: Mickey Lolich (3 HRs); Sam McDowell (2 HRs); Jose Santiago, Fred Lasher, Ray Culp, Joe Sparma,  Lee Stange.
  • Howard would finish 1968 with an MLB-leading 44 home runs, eight more than AL runner up Willie Horton and NL leader Willie McCovey.

Over his 16-season MLB career, Howard hit .273, with 382 HRs and 1,119 RBI.  He was the 1960 NL Rookie of the Year (.268-23-77 in 117 games for the Dodgers), a four-time All Star (AL – consecutive 1968-71), twice led the AL in HRs (1968, 1970) and topped the AL in RBIs once (1970).


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