Monday, September 30, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

The 1983 Philadelphia Phillies had four players 40 years and over in the 1983 World Series!

No wonder they were called, "The Wheeze Kids!"

Pete Rose was 42.

Tony Perez was 41.

Joe Morgan and Ron Reed were both 40.

Then you had Steve Carlton, who was 38. Mike Schmidt and Gary Maddox who was 34. Another Gary, Matthews, was 33.

Even Bo Diaz and Ivan de Jesus were 30, so the only regular positioned player younger than 30 was Von Hayes, 24.

John Denny, a starting pitcher, was also 30. The closer, Al Holland was, again, 30.

Philadelphia made it an interesting Series. But the Baltimore Orioles, were too tough. The O's, who were now managed by Joe Altobelli, seemed to be alright without one of this blogger's favourite characters, Earl Weaver.

In game 1, on October 11, 1983, featured a grand pitcher's dual. It saw the Philadelphia's Denny and Baltimore's Scott McGregor, bewilder the batters. Both teams managed just 5 hits and the Phillies took it, 2-1.

It would prove to be their only win of the Series, however.

It was a strange Series.

Philadelphia lost game 2, 4-1, but only because of a bad bottom of the 5th. Again, though, the O's pitching was great. In this case, Mike Boddicker.

Game 3 saw Jim Palmer, actually pitching in relief, get his last World Series win by taking a close 3-2 decision over Carlton. Carlton and Steve Holland allowed the O's just 6 hits. The Phillies got 8.

Game 4 was some hitting from both teams. Each got 10 hits.

Philadelphia came back from 2-0 down to take a 3-2 after 5. But the Orioles took control from there, at least until the 9th.

Baltimore was up 5-3 in this crucial affair. After this game, it's either 3 games to 1 or Series tied 2-2.

Diaz singled with one out, and was replaced by Bob Dernier. Jesus then made the second out on a grounder to 3rd.

Dernier was on second. Ozzie Virgil pinch-hit (And it was for Larry Anderson, who would be with the Phillies when they made their next World Series appearance...10 years later) and delivered a single on a 3-2 pitch to score him. Now it was 5-4, and Joe Morgan was up.

But Tippy Martinez got him to fly out to end the game.

Game 5 was like game 1, as each team got only 5 hits. But the O's got 5 runs to the Phillies' 0.

So the Whiz Kids and the Wheeze Kids came up empty in the World Series. Colourful nicknames, nonetheless.

And certainly, some nice "antiques" were in this World Series.


References


Enders, Eric. (2005). 100 Years Of The World Series. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Snyder, John S. (1995). World Series. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

George Gibson was the first Canadian to appear in the World Series.

Gibson was no Kirk Gibson, though. He hit just .236 lifetime.

For the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, he had 52 RBIs and a .265 batting average. But the Pirates were going to the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

Wish a Series like this could have taken place when Al Kaline and Roberto Clemente were on those teams. That would have been an awesome Series, with two of the finest right fielders, ever.

But this Series was Honus Wagner vs Ty Cobb. Doesn't get much better than that!

But it didn't quite turn out to be and equal affair.

Cobb hit just .231 compared to Wagner's .333, ouch!

RBI-wise, Cobb did drive in 5 runs, but Wagner had 6. Runs scored was a close one too, 4-3 in favour of The Flying Dutchman.

Which leads us to a crucial stat here.

See Cobb and Wagner were both lightning fast, so it was to be interesting to see them on the basepaths. Wagner stole 6 bases and was caught 2 times. Cobb only stole 2 bases and was caught 1 time. Hey, who is the catcher for the Pirates?

That would be George Gibson. The reason you are reading this!

In the top of the 5th inning of game 1, Cobb swiped second off Gibson. But he was ultimately left stranded. He was held hitless on the afternoon, reaching base via a fielder's choice and a walk. He did, however, score the Tigers' only run. The Pirates won 4-1 on this day (October 8, 1909).

Our Canadian boy drove in the winning run with a double in the bottom of the 5th! It was his only hit of the day. But he then scored an insurance run. Take that, Ty!

But Cobb and the Tigers won easily in game 2, 7-2. Cobb got a hit, a walk and stole another base. Would you believe that Gibson (and the men he caught) would make sure he never stole another base this Series?

Game 3 was a wild one, 8-6 for the Pirates. Gibson was held hitless and Cobb had 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Good thing he didn't steal a base. Actually, no one on the Tigers stole a base off him. George Moriarty (Hey, where is Sherlock Holmes?) tried and failed in the 8th. Wagner was also caught in this game, if it matters.

Game 4 was all Detroit again, 5-0. And again, Cobb got 2 RBIs. But a huge moment came in the bottom of the first inning.

Cobb, having been hit by a pitch, was on first.

And gunning for second on an attempted steal. But he took off before the pitch!

And Pittsburgh starter, Lefty Leifield (a lefty, of course), had him right where he wanted him!

Lefty fired to first basemen Bill Abstein. But Abstein was just the wrong man at this moment. And his error allowed Cobb to reach second. But Cobb, who was stranded at second, must have know the gig is up.

Game 5 saw Gibson single and score in the bottom of the second. In the 8th, he singled in a run, stole a base, and was then caught stealing. But the RBI put the Pirates up, 8-4. The game had been close however, until the bottom of the 7th. In fact, it had been tied at 3. But now the Pirates were up 3 games to 2. Just one more win and the Gibson gets a World Series ring!

Or lose two games and some...suffering!

Cobb, by the way did get a hit in game 5, and his average wasn't too bad at this point. Actually, it was .278.

But the Tigers clearly needed more from him on the basepaths for him in this Series. Gibson was doing it all!

Gibson and Cobb each got a hit in game 6, but it was the Tigers who won 5-3. And for the 3rd time in the Series, it was tied. It was on to the winner-take-all game 7!

It was all the Pirates, as they took it 8-0.

Pittsburgh starter Babe Adams went the distance, and shutout the Tigers on just 6 hits and 1 walk. It was his third win of the Series against no losses. And a tidy ERA of just 1.33. I think he resembles another Gibson. No, not his batter mate!

I'd say, Bob Gibson!

But how about George? Well, he managed just 1 hit on this afternoon. But Ty Cobb was held hitless.

Cobb had appeared in three straight World Series, and had lost them all. Although only 22 years old at the time, he would never play in another World Series.

Gibson himself would never play in a World Series. But he had put Canada on the World Series map. And he got a World Series ring.


References


Enders, Eric. 100 years of the World Series. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. New York, 2005. Print. PP. 27-28.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

The Toronto Blue Jays of 1993 had five players who fathers played pro ball.

Roberto Alomar's father Sandy played 15 years in the bigs (1964 to 1978). Although not a great player, he certainly had something that would come in handy for Robbie years later!

Sandy played second base, a position that Alomar would play flawlessly years late. Also, he passed that base stealing skill of his from father to son.

Ed Sprague Sr. pitched in the big leagues from 1968 to 1976, mainly as a reliever. Again, he was no star. But again, he helped. Ed Jr. was brought up as a catcher. And who better to practice catching against then your own father. A big league father!

Dick Schofield Sr., played in the bigs for nearly 20 years (1953-1971). Although never a great player (here we go again!) he was a fine fielder. Also, like his son, he was a member of a team that won the World Series with a walk-off-homerun. Yep, the senior Schofield, also known as Ducky, was a member of the 1960 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the Series on Bill Mazeroski. Schofield was frequently right next to Mazeroski, as he played shortstop. Like father, like son.

But neither Schofield played in the walk-off, win-the-World-Series-game!

1960 World Series was the first of 5 straight years that the Yankees played in. In 1964 they were back. They lost this one too, and again it was in 7. But rookie Mel Stottlemyre started 3 games for the Yankees in that Series. And he is one of only two pitchers to beat Bob Gibson in a World Series game.

Mel was brought up in August of '64 and went 9-3. He pitched 10 more seasons, winning 20 games in 1965, 1968 and 1969. He is the only pitcher to win 20 games 3 or more times with the Yankees without ever winning 20 games on a pennant winning Yankee team. The Yanks, sadly didn't play in the World Series again until 1976, so Mel never got another chance to pitch in the postseason.

Todd, his son (and he had another, Mel Jr., who pitched in the bigs), got to pitch in the postseason 7 times. I guess that makes up for that. But Todd never won a World Series game. His son played first base for over 2000 games in the bigs.

John Olerud's father, John Sr. pitched in the minor leagues from 1965 to 1971. He never reached the majors, and his top batting average in the minors was .286 in 1967 with the San Jose Bees of the California League. He reached as high as AAA. He was also involved in the very first MLB draft in June of 1965, as he was taken in the 4th round by the Los Angeles Angels (they would move to California in 1966).

The senior Olerud was primarly a catcher, playing just one game at first and one game at third. The junior Olerud would play over 2000 games at first. But the John Olerud I knew for the Jays, actually started out as a pitcher. And quite a pitcher.

In 1988, while attending Washington State Univercity, he became the first player to ever hit 20 homeruns and win 15 games in one NCAA season. There was even some talk about Olerud pitching and playing regularly for the Jays in 1990, his first full season. While that never happened, having a father as your catcher certainly made Olerud another Babe Ruth possibility!


References


Rutsey, Mike. "A Game For Fathers And Sons." Scorebook. June 1993: 47-56. Print. Toronto Blue Jays Program

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.

Friday, September 20, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Otis Nixon was the first batter ever in a World Series game played outside of the United States.

Yeah, right here in Canada in game 3 of the 1992 World Series. Jays and Braves.

Nixon faced the Jays' Juan Guzman in the top of the 1st inning, October 20, 1992. Nixon, the Braves' center fielder, flied out to Devon White in center.

What a game this game was!

Anyways, it was a back and fourth game as the Braves' Steve Avery matched Guzman pitch for pitch. The Jays took an early lead on Joe Carter's home run. That wouldn't stand up for long.

The Braves came back in the top of the 6th. After Nixon grounded out, Sanders got his second hit of the game. Only this time, it was a well-hit double down the right field line. After the second out, Dave Justice then singled to score Sanders.

Nixon led off the 8th by reaching 1st on an error by Gruber. He then stole second, but Guzman got the next two batters out. Justice, hitting so very hot at this time, was walked intentionally.

But Brave veteran Lonnie Smith singled to left. Nixon, who had made it to third on the second out of the inning, scored.

Gruber, having one hell of a bad night, and was in an 0-23 postseason slump as he came up in the bottom of the frame. But did he come through here!

Gruber, surprising and delighting the Jays fans, stroked a homerun to left to tie the game at 2! Now that's how you break out of slumps!

The Jays got themselves out of a bit of the jam in the top of the 9th. Sid Bream singled, and was replaced by pinch runner Brian Hunter. But Duane Ward, who had home in to pitch in the 9th, got the Jays out of this one!

Ward K'd Jeff Blauser, and then Pat Borders, the Jays catcher, fired a strike to second to nail Hunter. No stolen base here! Double play!

Alomar singled off the Braves' starter Steve Avery to lead off the bottom of the frame. Avery, who had pitched well, was replaced by Mark Wohlers.

You have to worry about Alomar at first. But what about Carter in the batter's box now?

Atlanta turned the ball over to Mark Wohlers. But he was right-handed. Avery was a lefty. So if you are Roberto Alomar, what are you thinking here?

Three pickoff attempts, plus a pitch-out attempt later, Alomar was still on first. Then ball two. On the next pitch (which was ball three), Alomar stole second.

Carter was then walked intentionally.

Dave Winfield squared and layed down a fine bunt. 2nd and 3rd and only one out! Mike Stanton, another left-hander, was brought in to pitch to John Olerud a lefty. The Jays sent up Ed Sprague to bat for Olerud. The Braves walked him intentionally.

And in came Jeff Reardon. Anyone still left in the Braves' bullpen? Two pitches later, Reardon was ahead of Candy Maldonado, 0-2.

But guess what happened next? In a night of drama, this one had one dramatic ending!

Maldonado stroked it to centre. Where Otis Nixon played. A single! Nixon, the first batter in the game, Maldonado the last batter of this game.



References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 20 Sept. 2013.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Bill Voiselle is the only baseball pitcher (or player for that matter) to wear his city name on the back of his jersey in a World Series.

Actually, he's the only player to wear the name of his city on the back of his jersey, in MLB history. Yes, you see, his number was 96. And the city he came from was 96.

Let me tell you about the town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina, population 1,998, (As of 2010). Why the town is called 96 is the subject of much debate, but this is a sports blog, not Unsolved Mysteries (One of this blogger's favourite tv shows).

Anyways, Bill Voiselle, who was born there in 1919, pitched for the 1948 Boston Braves. And, if you name isn't Spahn or Sain, no one knows your name. For those unaware, there was a poem about the Braves around this time:

First we'll use Spahn
Then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
Followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
Followed by Sain
And followed
We hope
By two days of rain.


So you get the feeling everyone else on the Braves staff wasn't any good. That wasn't entirely true.

The team leader in W% (among starters) was actually Vern Bickford (11-5) with a .688 W%. Relief pitcher Bobby Hogue was 8-2 for an .800 W%. Another relief pitcher was Clyde Shoun, 5-1 for an .833 W%.

Warren Spahn was 15-12, but the ace of the staff was Johnny Sain, 24-15.

Sain was the last pitcher to face Babe Ruth in an exhibition game on July 28, 1943. Spahn walked him.Then, four years later, Sain was the first pitcher that Jackie Robinson faced in Major League game on April 15, 1947. Jackie grounded out in his first plate appearance. Sain would held him hitless in 3 AB's. But Robinson scored the winning run in the 7th inning as he reached on an error while getting a sacrifice bunt.

Then there was Bill Voiselle. Although only 13-13 in 1948, he was 10th in innings pitched (215 2/3) and 6th in games started (30). Four years earlier, he had been named the Sporting News National League Pitcher Of The Year.

The Braves would face the Cleveland Indians in the 1948 World Series. Voiselle took the hill in game 3, but it was in relief. And big time relief was needed! Bickford left with just one out, 2-0 Cleveland, and the bases loaded. It was only the bottom of the 4th inning!

The first batter Billy faced was none other than the last batter of Don Larsen's perfect game, Dale Mitchell. Billy got him on a foul pop-up to third.

Larry Doby, the first American League black player, grounded to first basemen Frank McCormick. Frank fielded the ball and tossed to Voiselle for the putout.

Voiselle retired the next 8 batters in order for 10 in a row, before Doby got a single off him with two outs in the 7th. But Cleveland player-manager Lou Boudreau popped out to his counterpart at short, Al Dark.

In the top of the 8th inning, Voiselle was removed for a pinch hitter. The Braves ultimately ended up losing the game, 2-0. But Voiselle kept them in there with a fine 3.2 innings of scoreless, 1-hit relief!

After a surprise win in game 5, Voiselle got the start in game six as the Braves tried to force a 7th game. This time, Voiselle went 7 strong innings, gave up 7 hits and only 3 runs, and was removed for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the frame.

Spahn came in and gave up a run in 2 innings. The Braves lost the game, 4-3 and Voiselle was tagged with the hard-luck loss.

It was the Boston Braves last ever World Series game, as they would move to Milwaukee in 1953. Four years later they won the World Series.

The Indians weren't so lucky. They made it back to the World Series in 1954, but lost in four straight to the New York Giants. You know, the year of the Willie Mays' catch?

They did not make it back to the World Series until 1995, where they lost to the Braves, who were now in Atlanta. I was kind of hoping for a rematch the next year.

You know, Nineteen Ninety-Six?


References


Hoppel, Joe. "Game One, Ninth Inning: Numbers." Baseball: A Doubleheader Collection Of Facts, Feats & Firsts. New York: Galahad, 1992. Print. pp. 243-44. By the editors of The Sporting News.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 03 Sept. 2013.

"Spahn & Sain By Gerald V. Hern On Baseball Almanac." Baseball Almanac: Baseball History, Baseball Records And Baseball Research. Baseball Almanac, Inc, n.d. Web. 3 Sept. 2013. Poem originally published by Gerald V. Hern <http://www.baseball-almanac.com/poetry/po_rain.shtml>

Haddix: Was His 1960 Contribution Better Than 1959?

Harvey Haddix had the 12 inning perfect game (at least is was considered one at the time). It was 1959.

But the Pirates finished 78-76, for only 4th in the NL. In 1960, the Pirates finished first.

Haddix's performance dropped off. Although only 11-11 in 1959 (11-10 in 1960), he finished first in the NL in H/9 (7.6) and WHIP (1.061). Compare that to 9.9 H/9 and 1.317 WHIP in 1960, which wasn't even good enough for a top ten finish.

Haddix also finished 1959 8th in ERA (3.13), 6th in BB/9 (2.0), 6th in K/9 (6) and 6th in K's (149). He also finished 14 games, which was good enough for 9th. On the negative side, Harvey allowed 26 homeruns, which was good enough for 4th. His K/BB ratio was 3.0 for 1959, placing him 3rd.

And he made no errors in 43 chances to lead the NL in fielding percentage as a pitcher. This helped earn him his second straight gold glove.

1960, as mentioned above, was a different story for the most part.

His ERA was 3.97, but he did record an almost identical BB/9 (actually it was 1.985, whereas the season before it was actually 1.966). This was good enough for 5th place in the NL in 1960.

But his K/9 dropped from 6.0 to 5.3, and he actually gave up the exact same amount of hits in 1960 that he allowed in the 1959, 189. But he pitched less innings: 172.1 in 1960 compared to 224.1 in 1959. Neither, it should be noted, was enough for a top ten finish.

But Haddix's 13 homeruns allowed was the fewest he ever allowed in a full season. That allowed Harvey to finish 10th in fewest HR/9 in 1960 (0.7). In 1959, he allowed 1.0 HR/9. His K/BB ratio dropped from 3.0 to 2.7, but he managed to finish 6th among National League hurlers in 1960.

But, you know, how about Harvey Haddix's batting and fielding from 1959 and 1960? Here, is where it is better!

Haddix hit only .145 in 1959. In 1960, he hit .254. He drove in, and scored 7 runs. In 1959, Haddix had only 5 RBI and 3 runs scored. And Haddix had 17 more plate appearances in 1959. The .254 batting average was topps among pitchers with 70 or more plate appearances.

Fielding-wise, his Range Factor Per 9 Innings was just 1.73 in 1959. His Range Factor Per Game that season was just 1.39. So had he really fielded that well that year?

He topped both those marks in 1960, as his 2.87 R/9 put together in 1960 placed him 3rd. And Haddix's 1.90 R/G saw him in 5th place. He won another Gold Glove. It was his third straight (and final time) he would win it.

But baseball is a team game. 1959 ended with no postseason for the Pirates. 1960 ended with a World Championship for the Pirates. And it was against the great New York Yankees.

Haddix won 2 games. He pitched one hell of a game in game 5: 6.1 5H 2(E)R, 2BB, 6K. Harvey even got a hit in the game.

He also allowed a homerun by Roger Maris, but that came in the bottom of the third with the Pirates up 4-1. The Yankees would come no closer in the game, as Pittsburgh won it, 5-2.

The would win game 7, but that was in relief.

It had been a back and forth game. One of the best, most exciting game 7's you will ever see in baseball.

The Pirates took an early 4-0 lead. But the Yankees scored a run in the top of the  5th, 4 more in the next inning, and then 2 more in the top of the 8th.

The Pirates came back in the bottom of the frame. They crossed the plate 5 times. That's because a sure double-play ball hit by Bill Virdon, hit a pebble (dislodged from the ground by an earlier base runner) and then hit Tony Kubek in the throat.

Elroy Face had been removed by pinch hitter Gino Cimoli in that big 8th inning. So it was Bob Friend on the hill as the Pirates were just 3 outs away from an amazing upset.

But Bobby Richardson (just stick him into these situations, and what do you get?) led off with a single. And then Dale Long followed it with a pinch-hit single. Oh, those Yankees. They just don't roll over and die, do they? That's what brought Haddix into the game.

The first batter was a left hander, Roger Maris. Although a year away from 61 homeruns, it's not like his 1960 season was chopped liver. No, his 1960 season produced 39 homeruns in only 136 games. And Roger added two more here in the World Series.

So, as mentioned earlier, one of them was off Haddix. Harvey was here to stop Maris from belting another and putting the Yankees back on top. On top for good, in all likelihood.

It seemed to work as Maris popped out to catcher Hal Smith, whose 3 run dinger in the bottom of the eighth led to 3 of the 5 runs. But Mickey Mantle singled to score Richardson. Long made it to third. And then something odd happened.

Long was replaced by pinch-runner Gil McDougald, who was playing in what turned out to be his last game.

Anyways, Yogi Berra grounded to first. Rocky Nelson stepped on first for the second out, then looked at Mantle, who was standing there a little off the bag. Mantle was dead. But with a fake to the left and a slide to the right, Mantle made it under the tag! McDougald scored. Never count the Yankees out.

Moose Skowron grounded to Dick Groat the shortstop. Groat tossed to second basemen Bill Mazeroski for the force of Mantle at second. Bill had no idea what was about to happen to that very ball in his hand.

Ralph Terry, who had finally gotten the Yankees out of the 8th inning, was on to face the bottom of the Pirates. The first batter he faced was Mazeroski.

The first pitch was a high slider, ball one.

But then Terry threw a fat slider. Mazeroski jumped on it, and sent the ball over the left-field wall in left. The Pirates were World Series Champions. This was the first time the Fall Classic had ever ended with a homerun. And, like I said earlier, Harvey Haddix was the game winning pitcher in game 7!

Isn't that how you like to contribute at the end of a season?


References


Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print. pp. 380-381.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 03 Sept. 2013.