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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A Look at MLB in May

With June upon us, it’s time for BBRT’s monthly reflection on the MLB season.  First, who stands where?  If the season were to end today the play- off teams would be:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Division Leaders: Blue Jays, Tigers and A’s.

Wild Cards: Angels and Yankees.

 NATIONAL LEAGUE

Division Leaders: Braves, Brewers and Giants.

Wild Cards: Cardinals and Dodgers.

*Note: You can find the complete standings through May 31 at end of this post.

 

The Best and Worst of Times

San Francisco GiantsThrough May, only two teams are playing .600 or better baseball – The San Francisco Giants (36-20/.643) and the Oakland A’s (34-22/.607). At the other end of the spectrum, only two teams are under .400 (what BBRT thinks of as “The Hapless Zone”) – the Chicago Cubs (20-33/.377) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (23-35/.397).

The tightest races are in the NL East, with the Braves two games ahead of the second-place, and surprising, Marlins; and in the AL East, where the surging Blue Jays hold a 2 ½-game lead over the Yankees.

May’s Winners

Lots of reasons for high fives in Toronto.

Lots of reasons for high fives in Toronto.

No team won more games in May than the Toronto Blue Jays who played .700 ball (21-9, behind Mark Buehrle’s 5-0 record on the mound and Edwin Encarnacion’s home run splurge (16 for the month, more on that later).  The strong May vaulted the Jays from fourth place in the AL East to the top spot in the division.

Over in the NL, The San Francisco Giants led the way, playing .679 ball (19-9) in May, behind a balanced attack and the pitching of  Madison Bumgarner and Roy Vogelsong (who went a combined 8-1 for the month). The Giants also played .600 ball in April (.607/17-11) and opened June with a 6 ½-game lead in the NL West.

The biggest surprise in the NL may very well be the Miami Marlins – the only NL East team with a winning record for the month (15-13), which moved them from last place in the division at the end of April to second place, just two games behind Atlanta, at the end of May.  The April surprise – Milwaukee Brewers – faded a bit in May, going 13-15, but still hold a three-game lead over the Cardinals.

Only one team played under .400 ball for the month – the NY Mets (11-18/.379).

Streaking Back in Vogue

The Boston Red Sox closed out the month of May on a (still alive on June 1) six-game winning streak.  Of course, the six wins immediately followed the Red Sox’ ten-game losing streak, leaving Boston still six games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East. (Note: Boston extended the win streak to seven games with a 4-0 win over the Rays on June 1.)

The Houston Astros, while still firmly in last place in the AL West, did post a winning record for the month (15-14) and actually ran off a seven-game winning streak near the month’s end.  Key factors in the Astros’ “surge” were rookie phenom OF George Springer (.294-10-25 for the month) and 2B Jose Altuve (.357, with 21 runs scored and 11 steals in May.)

Baseball’s Winningest Pitcher

Toronto’s Mark Buehrle – at 9-1, 2.30 –  is MLB’s winningest pitcher through May 31. Buehrle also was one of five pitchers to tie for the MLB lead for wins in May (5). May’s five-game winners were: Buehrle, the Giants’ Rick Bumgarner, the Tigers’ Rich Porcello and the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka. (On June 1, Buehrle became the first 10-game winner of the season, topping the Royals 4-0 and throwing eight innings of six-hit ball.)

When a Single is Really a Double

Dee Gordon steals another one.

Dee Gordon steals another one.

Dodgers’ 2B Dee Gordon continued to run wild on the base paths, stealing an MLB-leading 21 bases in May (being caught just twice.)  On the season, as of May 31, Gordon has an MLB-best 34 steals in 37 attempts.

Nelson Cruz-ing

On May 31, in an Orioles’ 4-1 win over the Astros, Nelson Cruz homered and drove in three runs.  This made Cruz the first MLBer in 2014 to reach twenty home runs (it was his 20th) and gave him the MLB RBI lead (52). Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton reached the 50-RBI mark the day before, and leads the NL with 51. Cruz, who wasn’t signed for the 2014 season until February 22, now stands at .315-20-52.

 Gotcha!

Blue Jays’ RF Jose Bautista may have to move to shortstop – he threw out two runners and first base in a span of two games. On May 30, in the ninth inning, he fielded a one-hopper to right field by the Royals’ Billy Butler (admittedly not MLB’s fastest down the first base line) and Bautista’s throw from right field beat Butler to first by a step. Just a day late, in the seventh inning, Royals’ second baseman Omar Infante popped a ball down the right field line. Assuming the ball was going foul, Infante initially began walking away from the plate, contemplating the next pitch.  By the time Infante was alerted to the fact that the ball was going drop fair (and started his move toward first base), Bautista has recovered the ball and fired to first – nabbing Infante by 15-feet.  Two 9-3 putouts at first, in two days, in the same ballpark, by the same right fielder – what are the odds?

Springer Makes His Mark

The Houston Astros brought up minor league phenom George Springer in mid-April.  At the time, he was hitting .353 with three homers and nine RBIs at Triple A Oklahoma City. This followed a 2013 season in which Springer hit .303, with 37 HRs, 108 RBI and 45 steals at AA and AAA– earning Minor League Baseball’s Offensive Player of the Year honors. You can find more on Springer in BBRT’s pre-season prospect to watch post here.  Springer got off to a slow start (.182, with no HRs and just four RBI in 55 April at bats).  But he turned it on in May, putting up a .294, 10 HR, 25 RBI line.  He’s still striking out too much, but he’s clearly in the majors to stay. His ten homers in May are the third most for that month by a rookie, following Mark McGwire (15 in 1987) and Wally Berger (11 in 1930).  While Springer is showing power at the MLB-level, he has yet to deliver in the speed department (one stolen base in three tries though May 31.)

Based Loaded – No Outs?  No Problem!

On May 8, Tampa Bay reliever Brad Boxberger came into a tough situation – top of the sixth, Tampa down 3-1 to the Orioles, and Tampa starter David Price had just given up a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs.  Boxberger, however, did his job in sterling fashion – striking out Baltimore 1B Steve Pearce, 2B Jonathan Schoop and C Caleb Joseph – all swinging and on just nine pitches.  An Elias Sports Bureau’s archive search (although pitch count records are not complete) shows no other instance of a Major League pitcher entering a game with the bases loaded with no outs and striking out the side on nine pitches.

Tanaka’s First Loss Since, Well, Forever

In 2013, Masahiro Tanaka went 24-0 for the Japanese League Rakuten Golden Eagles. He ended the season on a 28-game winning streak that stretched back to August 19, 2012.  In 2014, Tanaka found himself a New York Yankee (seven-year/$155-million deal).  The Bronx Bombers’ investment paid off, as Tanaka won his first six decisions (8 starts) in pinstripes.

Then on May 20, at Wrigley Field, the NL Central’s last-place Cubs put an end to the winning streak (at 34 decisions), topping Tanaka and the Yankees 6-1.  Tanaka allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings – ending the night with a 6-1 record and a 2.39 ERA. By the way, the longest MLB winning streak by a pitcher belongs to the Giants’ Carl Hubbell – at 24 wins. Hubbell won his last sixteen decisions in 1936 and his first eight in 1937.

Tanaka bounced right back in his next start (May 25), earning his seventh win of the season with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball as the Yankees topped the White Sox 7-1 in Chicago; he then closed out the month with a win against the Twins (8 innings pitched, four hits, no earned runs, two walks, nine strikeouts).  Sounds like another streak on the way.

Phil Hughes’ Next Walk His First Since, Well, Forever

In five May starts, the Twins’ Phil Hughes pitched 33 1/3 innings (3-0, 1.62 ERA), striking out 24 and issuing zero – yes, zero – walks.  Hughes’ last walk, in fact, came in the second inning of an 8-3 win over Kansas City on April 20.  Since that time, he’s thrown 44 2/3 walk-less inning, while fanning 32.  (After a no-walk May, June 1 saw Hughes walk two – Brian McCann both times – in picking up a win over the Yankees (8 innings pitched, three hits, two walks, two earned runs, six strikeouts).

2014’s First No Hitter

On May 25, Dodger right-hander Josh Beckett tossed the first no-hitter of the 2014 season.  It was the (record) 24th no-no in Dodger history.  Beckett shut down the Phillies 6-0 on 128 pitches (three walks, six strikeouts), his highest pitch count ever. It was Beckett’s first complete game of the season and his 12th complete game in 321 career starts (14 seasons).

Home Cookin’

Colorado’s hitters truly like home cookin’.  Here are their home/away splits through May 31.  Troy Tulowitzki (.521/.233); Charlie Blackmon (.389/.257); Justin Morneau (.345/.275); Michael Cuddyer (.389/.269).  Then there’s the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, hitting .340 on the road and .271 at home.  What’s with that?

Most Home Runs in May

Edwin Encarnacion rips one,

Edwin Encarnacion rips one,

Toronto 1B Edwin Encarnacion (who put up a .272-36-104 line in 2013) got off to a slow start this season – hitting .250 with just two round trippers and 15 RBI in April. (He didn’t hit his first homer of the season until April 22.)  He turned up the heat in May, tying the AL record for home runs in the month of May with 16 (Mickey Mantle – 1956), just one shy of Barry Bonds MLB record for May (2001).    For the month, Encarnacion put up a line of .281-16-33.

Encarnacion also became just the third player to have five multi-homer games in a month – tying Harmon Killebrew (May 1959) and Albert Belle (September 1995).

Who Says Pitchers Can’t Hit?

The Brewers topped the Orioles 7-6 on May 27 – with a tenth-inning, walk-off, pinch-hit double, following a two-out/none-on intentional walk to Mark Reynolds.  What was unique about this pinch-hit, walk-off hit was that the pinch-hitter was a pitcher.  After the Reynolds walk, reliever Francisco Rodriguez was due up and the Brewers were out of position players. Manager Ron Reonicke made the call to RHP Yovani Gallardo, who delivered (on a 2-0 pitch) a run-scoring double off the center-field wall.  Gallardo was not a totally “off-the-wall” choice. He came into the game with a .202 lifetime average that included 19 doubles and 12 home runs.

Strikeout Leaders

The Phillies’ Ryan Howard finished May as MLB’s strikeout leader (among hitters), with 67 whiffs in 200 at bats (.230-10-37). Numbers two and three on the K-List were the Upton brothers of Atlanta.  Justin notched 65 K’s in 193 at bats (.301-13-33), while brother B.J. had struck out 64 times in 190 at bats (.216-4-13).  Over in the AL, the strikeout leader was the Angels’ Mike Trout, who finished May with 63 K’s in 204 at bats and a .294-11-38 line.

On the other side of the coin, no pitcher ended May with more strikeouts on the season than the Indians’ Corey Kluber – 95 K’s in 80 innings, to go with a 6-3, 3.04 record. In the NL, the Reds’ Johnny Cueto led the strikeout race with 92 K’s in 91 innings (and a 5-4, 1.68 record).

Davis On the Rebound?

Chris Davis, who led MLB with 53 home runs and 138 RBI in 2013, started slow this season.  With more than a quarter of the season gone, Davis had just 3 home runs and 15 RBI. Then on May 20th, he tied an Orioles’ record with a three-homer game (no Oriole has ever hit four in a game). Like his season, Davis’ game started slowly, with a strikeout in the first inning.  He went on to add a single (and run scored) in the fourth, a two-run homer in the fifth, a solo shot in the sixth and another two-run homer in the ninth. (The Orioles topped the Pirates 9-2.)

The last Oriole with a 3-HR game?  The very same Chris Davis, on August 24, 2013. The only Orioles with three 3-HR games are Boog Powell and Eddie Murray.  Davis ended the month with seven HRs and 25 RBI on the season.  Hmm, pre-season, who would have guessed that Milwaukee’s Khris Davis would have more runs (9) than Baltimore’s Chris Davis (7) at the end of May?

A Little Help From My Friends

At the end of May, your MLB ERA leaders were (tied) the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija and the Reds’ Johnny Cueto at 1.68.  Their combined record, however, is 6-8 (Cueto 5-4/Samardzija 1-4).  Perhaps a little run support would be helpful.  In Samardzija’s 11 starts, the Cubs have put up just 28 total runs (two or fewer runs seven times), while the Reds have scored 39 runs in the 12 games Cueto has started. In Cueto’s last three starts – two losses and a no-decision – The Reds have plated a total of four runs.

Not Exactly Perfect, But Interesting

On May 29, right-hander Josh Collmenter of the Diamondbacks won his fourth game of the season, beating the Reds 4-0 in Arizona.  It was the first shutout and first complete game of his career – and he did it in unique fashion, facing the minimum 27 hitters over nine innings.  The game, however, was neither a perfect game nor no-hitter, as Collmenter (who used only 94 pitches to complete his nine-innings of work) gave up three hits.

Collmenter gave up a double to Reds’ 1B Brayan Pena in the third, but Pena was thrown out trying to advance to third base on a fly out by SS Zack Cozart.  Speedy CF Billy Hamilton led off the Reds’ fourth inning with a single, but was erased when 3B Todd Frazier grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Pena led off the eighth with his second hit of the day, a single to right-center, but Cozart followed up by hitting into a 5-4-3 double killing.  Facing the minimum 27-batters while giving up three or more hits is not as rare as you might think. Post-game news reports indicated it’s happened 13 times since 1914.

May 27, a Couple of Firsts 

On May 27, in his fifth MLB season, 385th game played and 1,565th plate appearance, Phillies’ center fielder Ben Revere hit his first MLB home run – as the Phillies lost at home to the Rockies 6-2.  Revere was well short of the record for plate appearances at the start of a career without a HR (non-pitchers) – that belongs to Emil Verban (NL infielder from 1944-50), who went 2,592 plate appearances before his first round tripper in 1948 and finished his career with just one homer in 3,109 plate appearances.  Phillies’ bench coach Larry Bowa probably best understood Revere’s elation after the round tripper. Bowa went 1,745 plate appearances before his first home run – and it was of the inside-the-park variety.  Bowa did end up with 15 HRs in a sixteen-year MLB playing career.

On the same day as Revere’s round tripper, Cardinals’ RHP Lance Lynn set down the Yankees 6-0 at Saint Louis.  The complete game shutout was Lynn’s sixth win of the season (6-2, 3.12).  It was also Lynn’s first complete game in 147 professional starts -  75 major league and 72 minor league. He threw a career high 126 pitches (77 strikes), giving up five hits and three walks, while striking out two.

Nice Month

May’s top hitters were the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig (.398-8-25) in the NL and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (.380-8-34).  That’s rakin’.

 

Standings as of May 31

AL EAST  

W        L          PCT     GB

Toronto            33        24        .579

NY Yankees    29        25        .537     2.5

Baltimore          27        27        .500     4.5

Boston             26        29        .473     6.0

Tampa Bay       23        33        .411     9.5

 AL CENTRAL

Detroit              31        21        .596

Chicago WS     28        29        .491     5.5

Kansas City      26        29        .473     6.5

Minnesota        25        28        .472     6.5

Cleveland         26        30        .464     7.0

 AL WEST 

Oakland           34        22        .607

LA Angels        30        25        .545     3.5

Texas               28        28        .500     6.0

Seattle              27        28        .491     6.5

Houston           24        33        .421   10.5

 

NL EAST

Atlanta             29        25        .537     -

Miami               28        26        .519     1

Washington      26        27        .491     2.5

NY Mets          25        29        .463     4

Philadelphia      24        28        .462     4

 NL CENTRAL

Milwaukee       33        22        .600     -

St. Louis           29        26        .527     4

Pittsburgh         25        29        .463     7.5

Cincinnati         24        29        .453     8

Chicago Cubs   19        33        .365     12.5

 NL WEST

San Francisco   36        19        .655

Colorado          28        26        .519     7.5

LA Dodgers     29        27        .518     7.5

San Diego        25        30        .455     11

Arizona            23        34        .404     14

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Baseball Reliquary Announces 2014 Shrine of the Eternals Electees

One of the baseball organizations I am most proud to be a member of is the Baseball Reliquary.  It is an organization truly dedicated to the character and characters of baseball – from the fans’ point of view.  With its passionate, but sometimes  irreverent approach to the national pastime, BBRT likes to think of the Reliquary as “Mardi Gras” for baseball fans.   Each year, the Baseball Reliquary selects inductees to its Shrine of the Eternals, the Reliquary’s version of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  A few of the Reliquary’s diverse list of past inductees include: National Baseball Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Robert Clemente; fierce competitor Dock Ellis (who once threw a no-hitter while on LSD); maverick owner Bill Veeck, Jr.; Tommy John surgery pioneer Dr. Frank Jobe; and the San Diego Chicken.  This week, the Baseball Reliquary announced it 2014 Shrine of the Eternals electees.  That follows is the official press release – as well as some closing comments noting non-elected nominees that BBRT voted for (and why). For more on the Baseball Reliquary click here.  I think you’ll enjoy the read.

 

DIZZY DEAN, DON ZIMMER, AND RACHEL ROBINSON

ELECTED TO THE SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS FOR 2014

BBRThe 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 sixteenth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals.  The Shrine of the Eternals is the national organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dizzy Dean, Don Zimmer, and Rachel Robinson were elected upon receiving the highest number of votes in balloting conducted during the month of April 2014 by the membership of the Baseball Reliquary.  The three electees will be formally inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals in a public ceremony on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.

Of the fifty eligible candidates on the 2014 ballot, Dizzy Dean received the highest voting percentage, being named on 37% of the ballots returned.  Following Dean were Don Zimmer with 33% and Rachel Robinson with 31%.  Runners-up in this year’s election included Bo Jackson (29%), Glenn Burke (27%), Sy Berger (26%), Effa Manley (25%), Charlie Brown (24%), Bob Costas (24%), Ernie Harwell (24%), Steve Bilko (23%),  and Rocky Colavito (23%).

Dizzy DeanDIZZY DEAN

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his fourteenth year on the ballot, hurler, free-spirit, and malapropster extraordinaire, Dizzy Dean (1910-1974), had a long and eventful life in baseball, both as a pitcher and a broadcaster.  The son of an Arkansas sharecropper, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean signed in 1930 with the St. Louis Cardinals and spent the next two seasons in the minors, peaking with Houston in the Texas League in 1931.  Promoted to the big club permanently in 1932, the boastful Dean quickly became the cornerstone of the Cardinals’ rotation.  The rough and tumble Depression-era Cardinals (dubbed “The Gashouse Gang”) rode Diz’s tongue and golden arm (30-7, 2.65 ERA) to the NL pennant in 1934, besting the Tigers in a memorable seven-game World Series.  Between 1932 and 1936, Dean averaged 25 victories per season and seemed destined to become one of the National League’s winningest pitchers ever until struck on the toe by a line drive during the 1937 All-Star Game.  The injury forced Dean to alter his pitching motion, leading to arm problems which nipped his career in the bud.

After retiring in 1941, Dean immediately moved to the broadcast booth, where he earned a huge local following as the radio voice of the St. Louis Browns, peppering play-by-play with his colorful reinventions of the English language.  To the dismay of English teachers everywhere, Dean became hugely popular with national audiences in the 1950s as the primary broadcaster for network television’s Game of the Week. The subject of a Hollywood bio-pic (The Pride of St. Louis) and numerous biographies, Ol’ Diz was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.

Don ZimmerDON ZIMMER

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his tenth year on the ballot, Don Zimmer (born 1931) is part of a vanishing breed – the baseball lifer.  Now in his eleventh year as a senior advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays (serving as a coach/advisor during spring training and for pregame practices at home games, as well as assisting the Rays in the area of community affairs), Zimmer wears the number 66, representing his 66th year in professional baseball.  He has noted often, and proudly, that every paycheck he’s ever gotten came from baseball, and has never held a job in any other profession.  Zimmer was told his playing days were over after a disastrous beaning in the minor leagues in 1953, but he made it to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954, beginning a twelve-year big league career as an infielder.  After the Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Championship season in 1959, Zimmer bounced around with a series of truly bad teams, including the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, before retiring as a major leaguer with the Washington Senators in 1965.

In 1971, he began a long tenure as a coach and manager for major league teams all over North America, including the Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Colorado Rockies.  Zimmer served three coaching stints for the New York Yankees, the last one finding him dispensing his baseball wisdom as bench coach/yogi from 1996-2003, during which time the team won four World Series titles under the helm of Joe Torre.  Zimmer is often remembered for his “brawl” with Pedro Martinez during the 2003 AL Championship series, when he ran at and was thrown to the ground by the Red Sox pitcher.  Nicknamed “Popeye” for his facial resemblance to the cartoon character, Zimmer is still a warrior at age 83.  He has written two autobiographies, Zim: A Baseball Life and The Zen of Zim, and serves as a member of the advisory board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping former players through financial and medical difficulties.

Rachel RobinsonRACHEL ROBINSON

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in her first year on the ballot, Rachel Robinson (born 1922) is arguably the most important woman in baseball history, as the widow of baseball and civil rights pioneer Jackie Robinson.  Rachel met Jackie while they were students at UCLA and they were married in 1946, the year before Jackie broke major league baseball’s color barrier and changed America forever.  Rachel counseled, consoled, and supported Jackie throughout his career, giving him strength when his will faltered, and she endured with him countless affronts to their dignity.  Jackie often attested, without his wife, he could never have withstood the intense pressures of being the first African American in the major leagues.

Once described by Dodger baseball executive Branch Rickey as Jackie’s “tower to lean on,” Rachel kept her husband’s legacy alive after his premature death in 1972 by founding the New York-based Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit with the mandate of providing college scholarships and leadership training to promising and talented young people.  “As a nurse [Robinson] has devoted her life to caring for others,” writes Albert Kilchesty, the Baseball Reliquary’s Archivist and Historian.  “She has been honored and celebrated in and out of baseball, and has always been gracious when being acknowledged for her husband’s courage and determination.   But she is more than deserving of applause and recognition on her own merits.  I have never met her.  I have never spoken to her.  Yet I have more admiration and respect for her than nearly any other woman in public life.  She has never played the game – she is the game.”

Dizzy Dean, Don Zimmer, and Rachel Robinson will join 45 other baseball luminaries who have been inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals since elections began in 1999, including, in alphabetical order, Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Yogi Berra, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Bill Buckner, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Eddie Feigner, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, and Kenichi Zenimura.

In the coming weeks, leading up to the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day on Sunday, July 20, 2014, further details will be announced, including the recipients of the 2014 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and honoring a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2014 Tony Salin Memorial Award (presented annually to an individual dedicated to the preservation of baseball history).

Paul Dickson, the prolific author and historian, and former recipient of the Tony Salin Memorial Award (2011), will be the keynote speaker for the Shrine of the Eternals 2014 Induction Day.  Dickson’s books include the award-winning Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick and the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to baseball terminology ever compiled, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary.

 

BBRT’S SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS BALLOT 

Now, here’s a look a BBRT’s ballot.  I did vote for 2014 honorees Dizzy Dean and Rachel Robinson,whose  contributions are described in the Baseball Reliquary’s release. Here’s a look at the “who and why” of my remaining votes (* indicates still living):

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1934 – *)

Johnson was one of three females to play for the Indianapolis Clowns during the declining days of the Negro Leagues.  Johnson took the mound to the Clowns for three seasons (1953-55), running up a 33-8 record.  Her exploits are chronicled in the children’s book A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut  Johnson, by Michelle Y. Green.

Rube Waddell (1876-1914)

Rube Waddell is pretty much granted the title of the zaniest player in MLB history – but he was also one of the best (at least when he was focused on the game). Waddell was known to wrestle alligators, leave a ball game to chase a fire engine, miss a game he was scheduled to start because he was fishing or playing marbles with neighborhood kids, bring his outfielders in to sit on the grass and then proceed to fan the side – and frequently do battle with owners and managers.  Waddell, who had an issue with alcohol consumption, was more interested in the freedom to do things his way than money.  But, when Waddell was on his game, he was arguably the best pitcher of his time. The 6’1”, 195-lb. lefty led the AL in strikeouts six consecutive seasons (1902-1907) – by a wide margin.

How good was Waddell?  In 1902, he joined the Philadelphia Athletics in June – making his first start on June 26 (with just 86 games left in the season.) Waddell proceeded to win 24 games (the league’s second-highest total) against seven losses, with a 2.05 ERA.  Perhaps more telling is that, despite his shortened season, he led the AL with 210 strikeouts, fifty more than the runner-up (none other than Cy Young, who had 16 more starts than Waddell). In 1904, Waddell set a modern (post-1900) MLB record with 349 strikeouts that stood until 1965.  In 1904, Jack Chesbro finished second in the AL in strikeouts – 110 behind Waddell – while NL leader Christy Mathewson trailed Waddell by 137 Ks.  Rube Waddell, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, finished with a 193-143, 2.16 line – leading the AL in strikeouts six times, ERA twice, wins once and complete games once. For more on Waddell, BBRT suggests: Rube Waddell: The Zany, Brilliant Life of a Strikeout Artist, by Allan Howard Levy and Just a Big Kid: The Life and Times of Rube Waddell, by Paul Proia.

Pete Reiser (1919-81)

Combine Willie Mays’ skill set (younger folks, think Mike Trout) with Pete Rose’s hustle and Yasiel Puig’s on-field abandon and you have Pete Reiser. In his first MLB full season (CF, Dodgers), a 22-year-old Reiser dazzled defensively and led the NL in runs scored (117), doubles (39), triples (17), batting average (.343), total bases (299) and hit by pitch (11) – tossing in 14 home runs and 76 RBI for good measure. Unfortunately, unpadded outfield walls, helmet-less at bats (the fiery Reiser was a frequent target) and aggressiveness on the base paths (Reiser twice led the NL in stolen bases) took their toll. In his ten-season career, Reiser endured five skull fractures, a brain injury, a dislocated shoulder and a damaged knee.  He was carted off the field 11 times during his career (six times unconscious) and once actually given last rites at the stadium – and he played on. The three-time All Star retired as a player with a .295 career average, playing in 861 games over ten seasons. No telling what he might have done with padded outfield walls and batting helmets.  Pete Reiser was a true – and talented – gamer. For more on Reiser, try Pete Reiser: The Rough and Tumble Career of the Perfect Ballplayer, by Sidney Jacobson.

Denny McLain (1944- * )

MLB’s last 30-game winner (31-6 for the Tigers in 1968), BBRT views McLain as the Pitcher of the Year in what baseball analysts often refer to as the Year of the Pitcher.  And, he wasn’t a one- year wonder.  McLain won 20 or more games three times, captured two Cy Young Awards (1968-69) and one AL MVP Award (1968).  McLain, who ran up a 131-91, 3.39 record in ten MLB seasons, was a colorful and complex a character off the field and on.  He life experience provides a tale of ups and downs – from being selected the 1968 Associate Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sporting News Major League Player of the Year to a six-year prison stint.  McLain is likely the only former major leaguer whose bio includes such varied terminology as MVP, Cy Young Award, All Star game starting pitcher, World Series opening game starter – as well as pilot, Capitol Records recording artist, talk show host, author and ex-con.  McLain’s story gives baseball fans plenty to talk about – and you can learn more by reading I Told You I Wasn’t Perfect, by Denny McLain and Eli Zaret.   Oh, and just one more bit on Denny McLain.  He started the 1966 All Star game (vs. Sandy Koufax) and retired all nine batters he faced (Mays, Clemente, Aaron, McCovey, Santo, J. Torre, Lefebvre, Cardenas, Flood) on just 28 pitches –striking out Mays, Aaron and Torre.  That alone justifies consideration for the Shrine of the Eternals.

Glenn Burke – (1952-95)

An outfielder for the Dodgers and the Athletics from 1976 to 1979, Burke was the first major league ball player to admit he was gay.  Much like the first African-American players, Burke had to face prejudice on and off field, both overt and covert.  Burke should be honored for the courage to announce his sexual preference in this environment.

In four trying MLB seasons, Burke appeared in 226 games, going .237-2-38, with 35 steals. In August 2013, Burke was among the first class selected to the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. A documentary film: Out: The Glenn Burke Story was released in 2010. In addition, Burke co-authored (with Erik Sherman) Out at Home: The Glenn Burke Story.

In a less significant event, Burke is credited with teaming up with Dusty Baker to create the “high five.”  In the final game of the 1977 season, Baker rapped his 30th home run of the year (making the Dodgers the first team to boast four players with 30 home runs in the same season). When Burke ran onto the field to congratulate Baker he raised his hands over his head. Not sure how to respond, Baker chose to slap one of Burke’s hands and – legend has it – the high five was born.

Effa Manley (1900-81)

The first woman enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, during the 1930s and 1940s, Manley ran the day-to-day operations of the Negro National League Newark Eagles (owned by her husband Abe Manley) – at a time when baseball, on the field and in the executive offices, was considered a “man’s domain.”  Effa, often thought of as a light-skinned black, was actually white.  She, however, grew up with a black stepfather and mixed race siblings and was active in the New Jersey branch of the NAACP and Citizen’s League for Fair Play.  Effa Manley deserves recognition for overcoming both racial and sexual barriers as she exercised leadership in the national pastime.

David Mullany (1908-90)

David Mullany was the inventor of the Wiffle® Ball (1953), which ultimately changed backyard baseball for millions of young (and old) players and fans. I know I loved my white perforated plastic ball and yellow plastic bat – and played more then one backyard World Series  opener with them (without shattering a single window).  Today, there are Wiffle Ball fields, leagues and tournaments.  The company is still operated by the Mullany family and you can learn more by visiting their website (www.wiffle.com)

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Stan Musial & Nate Colbert – Linked in MLB History

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On this day six decades ago – May 2, 1954 – Stan “The Man” Musial had one of the greatest days at the plate in major league history.  That day, the New York Giants faced Musial’s Cardinals in a double header before 26,662 fans at Busch Stadium (I).   (Keep that number of fans in mind, it will come into play later.)

As the Cardinals won Game One 10-6, Musial was brilliant, recording four hits and a walk in five plate appearances – including a solo home run in the third inning, a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run blast in the eighth.  It was the first time Musial had hit three round trippers in a single game.  He ended with contest with three runs scored and six RBI.

Musial reportedly enjoyed a between-games sandwich and glass of milk before going out to face knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm in Game Two.  If Stan was going to continue his long-ball heroics, he would have to provide his own power – and he did.

In Game Two, Musial collected two hits and a walk in five plate appearances – including a two-run homer in the fifth inning and a solo shot in the seventh, scoring three runs and driving in three in a 9-7 Cardinals loss.

So, for the doubleheader, Stan Musial was six-for-eight, with two walks, six runs scored, nine RBI and five home runs.

 

The Musial/Colbert Link

Musial, that day, became only the first MLBer to hit five home runs in a double header.  Ironically, among the 26,662 fans witnessing Musial’s feat was eight-year-old Nate Colbert – who, on August 1, 1972, would become the second player in MLB history (and there are still only two) to hit five round trippers in a double header.

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On August 1, 1972, lightning struck again.  This time from the bat of Nate Colbert, whose San Diego Padres faced the Atlanta Braves in a double header before a meager crowd of 5,784 at Atlanta.  Colbert got his day off to a quick start, as the Padres’ clean-up hitter hit a three-run homer in the top of the first inning.  Colbert went on to add a run-scoring single in the third, another single in the fourth, and a solo homer in the seventh before striking out to open the ninth.  For the game, won by the Padres 9-0, Colbert was four-for-five, three runs scored, five RBI and two home runs.  COLBERT WAS JUST GETTING STARTED.

Game two started out quietly enough, with Colbert drawing a first-inning walk. Things heated up fast, as Colbert added a grand slam in the second, a ground out to third base in the fourth, a two-run homer in the seventh and a day-topping two-run round tripper with  two out in the ninth.  In the process, he went three-for-four with three runs scored and eight RBI – becoming only the second player with five home runs in a double header. (The Padres, by the way, won game two 11-7.)

For the double header, Colbert was seven-for-nine, with a walk, seven runs scored, 13 RBI and five home runs.  Stan Musial, however, was not in the stands.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT