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.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

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

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

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.

 

1965  ALL STAR GAME

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.

1985 ALL STAR GAME

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

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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).

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Baseball Reliquary Honors Fans

Hats off to Baseball Reliquary honoree!

Hats off to Baseball Reliquary honoree!

The Baseball Reliquary is a unique organization, dedicated  dedicated to the character and characters of baseball – from the fans’ point of view.  Each year, the Baseball Reliquary selects inductees to its Shrine of the Eternals, the Reliquary’s version of the National Baseball Hall of Fame – recognizing individuals who have changed the face of the game, both on and off the field.   For more on the Shrine of the Eternals and this year’s honorees click here. What organization, then, is better positioned to recognize not just players, coaches and front office personnel – but also the fans who put their heart into the game. This week, the Baseball Reliquary recognized a pair of individuals who have exhibited a long-standing passion for baseball –  past and present.  These two were honored with the Reliquary’s Hilda Award (passionate fandom) and Tony Salin Award (preservation of baseball history). What follows is the official press release on their selection.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary click here.  I think you’ll enjoy the read.

 

THE BASEBALL RELIQUARY ANNOUNCES

JERRY PRITIKIN AND JERRY COHEN

RECIPIENTS OF 2014 HILDA AND SALIN AWARDS

 The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary, Inc., a Southern California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history, is pleased to announce the 2014 recipients of the Hilda Award and the Tony Salin Memorial Award.  Jerry Pritikin, the legendary “Bleacher Preacher” long associated with the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, will receive the 2014 Hilda Award.  Jerry Cohen, founder and owner of Ebbets Field Flannels in Seattle, Washington, will receive the 2014 Tony Salin Memorial Award.  Both awards will be formally presented at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day on Sunday, July 20, 2014, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.  The festivities will include the induction of the 2014 class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals: Dizzy Dean, Don Zimmer, and Rachel Robinson.

Cubs' fan Jerry Pritikin.  Photo: Mia Aigotti

Cubs’ fan Jerry Pritikin.
Photo: Mia Aigotti

Established in 2001 in memory of Hilda Chester, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan, the Hilda Award recognizes distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan.  To Baseball Reliquarians, the award is comparable to the Oscar or Emmy: it acknowledges the devotion and passion of baseball fans, and the many ways in which they exhibit their love affair with the national pastime. The 2014 Hilda recipient, JERRY PRITIKIN, became a Chicago Cubs fan in 1945 at the age of eight.  When the Cubs clinched the National League pennant, he asked his dad to take him to the World Series.  His father felt Jerry was too young but made him a promise: he would take him the next time the Cubs made it into the World Series!   And, of course, nearly seventy “wait until next years” later, he’s still waiting to get to the Promised Land. Pritikin rooted for the Cubs even while in “exile” in San Francisco, where he worked as a freelance photographer and publicist from the early 1960s until the late 1980s, at which time he moved back to his beloved Chicago and became a regular at Wrigley Field, earning the moniker “The Bleacher Preacher” for his efforts to convert non-believers to the Cubs.  As “The Bleacher Preacher,” Pritikin wore a pith helmet with a solar-powered propeller; his antics included cavorting with a life-size voodoo doll that would be dressed up in the uniforms of opposing teams, and carrying around handmade signs including one fashioned after the Ten Commandments, inscribed “The Ten Cub-mandments,” and another which read, “How Do You Spell Belief? C-U-B-S!”  While he has attended well over a thousand games, his most memorable one was on May 18, 1947, when he was on hand to see Jackie Robinson’s Chicago debut, and noticed many of the 47,000 fans brought binoculars that day to get a closer look at the future Hall of Famer and Shrine of the Eternals inductee. Called “The #1 Cubs fan” by broadcaster Harry Caray, the 77-year-old Pritikin has been inducted into both the Chicago Senior Citizen Hall of Fame (2012) and the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame (2013), the latter for “excellence and courage as a sports fan, photojournalist, and advocate.”  An early gay rights activist and close friend of Harvey Milk, Pritikin played on gay softball teams for over 30 years, finally hanging up the spikes last year.  Among his fondest memories was in 1981 when he got former major leaguer and friend Glenn Burke to strike out swinging on his knuckleball.  Pritikin regularly played in the annual Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association’s Senior Cup softball tournament, receiving the Oldest Active Player Award four times.

Tony Salin Award Winner Jerry Cohen. Photo: Laurent Laporte

Tony Salin Award Winner Jerry Cohen.
Photo: Laurent Laporte

Established in 2002 to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history, the Tony Salin Memorial Award is named in honor of the baseball historian, author, and Reliquarian who passed away in 2001.  The 2014 Salin Award recipient, JERRY COHEN, founded Ebbets Field Flannels in 1988, a Seattle, Washington-based company which manufactures historically-inspired athletic apparel, ranging from handmade reproductions of vintage flannel baseball jerseys to T-shirts, baseball caps, and even grounds crew jackets and sweatshirts, all made with a high level of craftsmanship and respect for authenticity.  Simultaneously, Cohen has been preserving the legacies and stories of obscure teams and leagues of the past that might otherwise have been forgotten.  His apparel represents teams from the minor leagues, Negro Leagues, the short-lived Federal League of 1914-15, and often obscure independent and barnstorming teams like the House of David.  The company’s handiwork was recently seen on the big screen, as Ebbets Field Flannels made all the minor league and Negro League uniforms for 42, the Jackie Robinson biopic. At one time an aspiring rock musician, Cohen was born in Brooklyn the year after the Dodgers left the borough for Los Angeles.  His work might best be described as “wearable history,” and his replicas are meticulously researched and often involve painstaking detective work, because hardly any original garments exist for the teams and all the photos are black and white. Ebbets Field Flannels currently offers over 400 different historic jerseys, and each one is created using authentic materials, with virtually everything crafted in the U.S.  The same dedication goes into making their authentic ballcaps, each of which features wool broadcloth construction, soft crown, satin undervisor, and period-style felt lettering or embroidery. “We don’t follow trends, and we aren’t sitting around thinking of how we can create something to fit the current fashion market,” notes Cohen.  “We look at history as our guide.  And we see ourselves as archivists, and people who are trying to bring things forth out of history and turn it in to a living thing as authentically as possible, with as little interference from the original thing to the wearable item today.  That’s not always what gets us the biggest selling product, but I think it’s what people respect and like about the brand.” Both Jerry Pritikin and Jerry Cohen will attend the Shrine of the Eternals 2014 Induction Day in Pasadena, California to personally accept their awards.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Near No-Hitters – Not Uncommon

NOTE:  SINCE THIS POST WAS PUBLISHED, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HAS CHANGED A SEVENTH INNING ERROR (ON A BALL HIT BY DAVID ORTIZ) IN DARVISH’S MAY 10 GAME TO A BASE HIT – MEANING DARVISH’S NO-HITTER IS NOW CONSIDERED LOST IN THE SEVENTH INNING, RATHER THAN WITH TWO OUTS IN THE NINTH.

Yu DarvishYesterday (May 10, 2014), Yu Darvish lost a no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning, as Boston Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz hit a ground ball single to right.  The Rangers were up 8-0 at the time and Darvish – who had walked two and struck out 12 – was at the 126-pitch point (drat, those pitch counts).  Given the lead and the pitch count, Rangers’ manager Ron Washington brought in Alexi Ogando, who retired Mike Napoli (fly out to left to end the game.)  It left Darvish still waiting to achieve not only his first no-hitter, but also his first major league complete game.

And, it wasn’t the first time Darvish found himself in that situation.  Last April 2, Darvish went into the ninth inning of a game against Houston with a 7-0 lead and a perfect game in progress. He started the inning in fine form, getting DH Jason Castro and catcher Carlos Corporan on ground outs (to SS and 2B, respectively).  Then Astros’ shortstop Marwin Gonzalez hit the first pitch in his at bat (and Darvish’s 111th pitch) up the middle for a ground ball single.  Again, Darvish’s day was done, as Washington brought in Micheal Kirkman to close it out (which he did with a single and a strikeout).

Losing a no-hitter or a perfect game with two outs in the ninth – a rarity?  Not so much.  (Losing both a no-hitter and a perfect game in such fashion, on the other hand, is rare – but has been done, see Dave Stieb below.)  In MLB history, twelve perfect games and at least 48 additional no-hitters have been broken up with two outs in the ninth. (BBRT has found conflicting reports on a 49th such instance.)  In addition, there have been five games in which a no-hitter was broken up with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game, which then went extra innings, so even if the ninth-inning third out had been made, the no-hitter would not have been completed at the inning’s end.

Here’s a few near no-no stories.

Perfect Games Become No-Hitters

Looking further at those twelve broken perfect games, two of them did end up as no-hitters.  On July 4, 1908, New York Giants’ hurler Hook Wiltse (who would win 139 games in 12 MLB seasons), retired the first 26 Phillies before hitting Philadelphia pitcher George McQuillan with a pitch on a 2-2 count.  It was a scoreless game through nine, and Wiltse went on to pitch a hitless tenth (at least preserving the no-hitter) as the Giants won 1-0. On September 2, 1972, Milt Pappas of the Cubs had an 8-0 lead over the Padres – and a perfect game in progress – as San Diego batted in the top of the ninth.  After retiring the first two batters, Pappas walked pinch hitter Larry Stahl on a 3-2 pitch.  Pappas retired the next hitter, so while he lost the perfect game, he did saved the no-hitter.

No-Hitter Lost with Two Out in Ninth in the World Series

Only one of the no-hitters lost with two outs in the ninth came in post season play.  On October 3, 1947, Yankees’ right-hander Bill Bevens was on the verge of World Series history.  Bevens went into the ninth with a 2-1 lead over the Dodgers and had yet to yield a hit (the Dodgers had scored one run in the fifth inning on two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice). Bevens sandwiched a fly out and foul out around a walk to Dodgers’ center fielder Cal Furillo (Bevens’ ninth walk of the game), and so was just one out from a World Series win and no-hitter.  That’s when the wheels came off. The dangerous Pete Reiser was sent in to pinch hit for pitcher Hugh Casey.  Al Gionfriddo, pinch-running for Furillo, stole second and Reiser was walked intentionally – putting runners on first and second with two outs, the Yankees still with a one-run lead, the no-hitter intact and Cookie Lavagetto pinch hitting for Eddie Stanky (Eddie Miksis was also brought in to run for Reiser). Lavagetto doubled to right on Bevens’ second pitch, both runners scored and Bevens lost the no-hitter and the game.

Dave Steib’s Hard Luck

Dave StiebThe Blue Jays’ Dave Stieb took the mound on September 24 and September 30, 1988 (consecutive starts) against the Indian and Orioles, respectively, and produced the same result. In both games, he lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth (and a two-ball/two-strike count on the batter). Stieb did get two complete-game shutouts, 1-0 over the Indians and 4-0 over the Orioles. The games were his final two starts of the season, so he had the entire off-season to contemplate his bad luck.  The following season (on August 4, 1989), Stieb found himself again on the brink, this time taking a perfect game in the ninth inning, holding a 2-0 over the Yankees.  He started the inning as though ready to make history, striking out pinch hitters Hal Morris and Ken Phelps on nine pitches.  Then the number-nine hitter, center fielder Luis Polonia, broke up the “perfecto” and no-hitter with a double to left.  Second baseman Steve Sax followed with a run-scoring single, before left fielder Polonia grounded out to end the game. Stieb did finally get his no-hitter on September 2, 1990.

Harvey Haddix’ Worse Luck

For a real hard luck story, there’s the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Harvey Haddix (who is not even on the “lost a perfect game or no-hitter in the bottom of the ninth” list).  On May 29, 1959, Haddix took the mound against the powerhouse Milwaukee Braves (who had won the National League pennant the previous two seasons and came into the game again leading the league.  Haddix retired the first 36 hitters, carrying a perfect game into the bottom of the 13th.  Unfortunately, the Braves Lew Burdette, despite giving up 12 hits and fanning only two, had also held the Pirates scoreless. Felix Mantilla led off the 13th by reaching on error by Pirates’ third baseman Don Hoak. Slugger Eddie Mathews bunted Mantilla over to second, which led to an intentional walk to Hank Aaron, bringing up Joe Adcock. Adcock rapped a 1-0 pitch over the right field fence for what appeared to be a three-run home run.  However, the Braves, in celebrating the tension-filled victory, forgot how to run the bases. Adcock passed Aaron between second and third and, after some deliberation, Adcock was called out – changing his three-run homer to a one-run double. And, on that drive, Haddix lost the perfect game, the no-hitter, the shutout and the game itself.  But he did etch his name forever into baseball lore.

For same past thoughts on completed no-hitter, click here.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Best Day at the Plate – EVER!

Last July, BBRT posted an article on Tyrone Horne, who on July 27, 1998, became the only professional ballplayer to hit for the “home run cycle” – a solo home run, two-run homer, three-run round tripper and grand slam all in the same game. Horne accomplished the feat at Double A ball, as his Arkansas Travelers topped the San Antonia Mission 13-4.  You can read that post by clicking here.

Today, I’d like to celebrate a college player who also hit for the home run cycle – AND MORE – on this day 15 years ago (May 9, 1999).  The player was Florida State Seminoles’ infielder (3B/2B) Marshall McDougall and on that day – in a 26-2 victory over the Maryland Terrapins – McDougall not only hit for the Home Run Cycle, but added a couple of additional round trippers for good measure.  That day, in fact, he set a still-standing NCAA single game records for home runs (6), RBI (16) and total bases (25). And, as you will see in the video – there were no cheap shots for McDougall on that record-setting day.

 

 

I should not here that the game was not one of those early season, out-of-conference mismatches that coaches schedule to build team confidence.  It was an Atlantic Coast Conference game, played at Maryland’s Shipley Field.  Still, it was a bit of a mismatch. Florida State came in with a 43-10 record and a top-five national ranking (the Seminole would finish with a 57-14 record and make it all the way to the title game of the College World Series), while Maryland’s record stood at 21-26 (6-14 in the conference).

McDougall’s, a junior at Florida State was in his first season with the Seminoles, having played and schooled at Santa Fe Community College as a freshman and sophomore (where he was an all-state selection both years).  McDougall continued his strong performance after moving up to Florida State – he was hitting .405, with 17 homers, 70 RBI and 11 stolen bases coming into the May 9 contest.

The day started out mildly enough for McDougall – with a single in the top of the first inning.  But thing heated up from there.  Here’s how his at bats went:

  • First inning – single
  • Second inning – solo home run
  • Fourth inning – three-run home run
  • Sixth inning – two-run home run
  • Seventh inning – three-run home run
  • Eighth inning – grand slam (completing the HR Cycle)
  • Ninth inning – three-run home run

McDougall went on to finish the season, playing 71 games, with a .419 average, 104 runs, 26 doubles, three triples, 28 home runs, 106 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 25 attempts.  He topped all of Division 1 in hits, runs, RBI and total bases -  earning recognition as a first-team All-American and Athletic Coast Conference Player of the Year.  And, McDougall wasn’t done yet.  In the 1999 College World Series, McDougall hit .385, with three doubles, three home runs, six runs scored, eight RBI and one stolen base in six games.  McDougall finished in the top five in nearly every offensive category and lead the Series outright in hits, runs scored, total bases, while also tying for the lead in doubles and home runs.  He was selected to the All-Tournament Team and as the Series’ Most Valuable Player (despite the fact that Florida State lost to Miami 6-5 in the final game).

His senior season was not as spectacular – 72 games, .342 average, 22 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 67 RBI and 15 steals – but still earned him the Oakland A’s ninth-round draft pick in 2000.

McDougall spent 5 ½ seasons in the minors (A’s, Indians and Rangers systems) – compiling a .281 average, with 69 home runs, 380 RBI and 52 steals in 563 games – before being called up to the Rangers in June of 2005.  At the time of his call up, he was hitting .341, with 11 home runs and 64 RBI (in 57 games) at Triple A Oklahoma. He got in just 18 games with the Rangers – 18 at bats, three hits, ten strikeouts.

The “rest of the story” reflects McDougall’s passion for the national past time. He started the 2006 season back in the minors (where injuries,wrist and knee, began to take their toll) and from 2006 through 2008 played in the Rangers, Dodgers and Padres systems.  He then went on to play in the Mexican League, independent ball and even in Taiwan.  In 2012, at age 33, McDougall put up a .341-10-32 line in 35 games for the Reynosa Broncos of the Mexican League. In August of 2013, McDougall was named head baseball coach at Wiregrass High School (Wesley Chapel, Florida), leading the team to a District Championship in his first season.

How appropriate that an individual with such a passion for the game would have, arguably, the best day at the plate EVER.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT