Wednesday, August 20, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Miracle Mets of 1969 got exactly six hits in each of the first three games. They had to make do with so little. Entering the Fall Classic that year, they were the decided underdogs against the Baltimore Orioles. And just to make things a little more difficult, it was the O's with the home-field advantage!

Game one in Baltimore matched Tom Seaver of the New York Mets against Oriole starter Mike Cuellar. If Seaver couldn't do it for New York, who could? But, in less than a New York minute, the Mets were down.

Cuellar got the Mets out in the top of the first, giving up just one hit. In the bottom of the frame, the Orioles also got a hit, but it was a home run by Don Buford! In the top of the fourth, it was Donn Clendenon who stroked the Mets' second hit, a double. But New York failed to score and still trailed 1-0. Baltimore then put the game out of reach by scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame. Cuellar himself got an RBI single. Buford followed that by driving in his second run, as well. It was 4-0, Baltimore!

In the top of the seventh, it was New York's turn to bang out some hits. Clendenon got his second hit of the game. Another single and a walk loaded the bases with just one out. But all New York could get out of this was one run on a sac fly by Al Weiss. The shutout was broken, but the Mets would not score again. They collected two more hits, and even got the tying run to the dish in the top of the ninth. But New York ultimately lost this game, 4-1.

In game two, it was Jerry Koosman of the Mets who opposed Dave McNally of the O's on the hill. This time, it was New York that scored first. In the top of the fourth, it was Clendenon again with a hit and this one was a home run to make it 1-0, Mets. New York had two hits at this point.

The Mets had to wait until the top of the seventh for their third hit of the game. It was a double, but it was also stranded. In the bottom of the seventh, it was Baltimore's turn to score. That tied the game at one. The Orioles needed just two hits to score the run. But it proved to be the Orioles only two hits of the game. And also, it was Baltimore's only run of game two.

The Mets, seizing the pitching advantage, then got three straight two-out singles in the top of the ninth. It was Al Weiss that got the third single, and the RBI. 2-1, New York. Koosman made it an interesting bottom of the ninth with two walks, but Canadian Ron Taylor got the last out and the 1969 World Series was tied heading to New York.

In game three, the Mets faced a legend in pitcher Jim Palmer. On the hill for New York? Rookie Gary Gentry, 13-12 in 1969 and eventually 46-49 for his career. Can you say, mismatch?

But Tommie Agee got the Mets off on the right foot as he hit a home run off Palmer in the bottom of the first. Tom would be heard from a lot more before this game was over. But it would be his glove that did a lot of talking.

Gentry himself then drove in both Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson (who had singled) with a double in the bottom of the second. The Miracle Mets were sure making due with so little hits. It was 3-0, New York after two!

Palmer made sure the Mets felt his wrath in the bottom of the third by getting them 1-2-3. In the top of the fourth, it looked like Baltimore was in for a big inning. With one out, it was Frank Robinson with a single and then Boog Powell with one of his own. Brooks Robinson fanned, but Elrod Hendricks launched one to centre that looked like it would score two. Tommie Agee, in centre, robbed Elrod of two RBIs with a running catch on the warning track.

The Mets, though, continued to fail against Palmer. Although they had put a runner on in the third, fourth and fifth inning against Palmer (via the walk), Jim was stranding them, and giving Baltimore a chance to tie it. The O's, it should be noted, put two on in the top of the sixth inning, but would also strand them.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, New York's Ken Boswell led off with the Mets' fourth hit, a single. With one out, Jerry Grote came through with a double to left to score him. Palmer stopped the bleeding from there by fanning the next two batters. But now, New York had some breathing room, ahead 4-0.

Elrod Hendricks made some solid contact for Baltimore to lead of the top of the seventh. He sent a drive to right-centre, where Agee made the catch again. This one was not so hard, but Gentry was running out of gas, as it turns out. That fly ball was the telling sign. Deron Johnson flied out to Agee as well. But that was the last batter Gentry would retire. He walked not one, not two, but three straight batters! That was enough for manager Gil Hodges. On to the hill trotted another right-hander, who was a legend like Palmer. Nolan Ryan!

Odd spot for him. In relief? Eh?

In any event, Paul Blair sent a well-hit ball to right-centre. But Agee was there for his third putout of the inning. But this one was his best of the inning, and better then the catch he made of Hendricks in the fourth. It was a diving catch that saved three runs. The best play by Tommie in the game, despite also hitting that home run back in the first. Tommie had given the Mets one run on the scoreboard and saved five!

Jim Palmer, meanwhile, was done for the game. He had been removed for pinch hitter Dave May in that inning where Agee had made the three putouts. It seemed like a good move for the Orioles, for May had been the first of three straight batters to walk against Gentry. Plus it took Gentry out of the game. But now, Palmer was out of the game for Baltimore and Nolan Ryan was in for New York. The pitching edge had to go to the Mets here!

But Dave Leonhard held the Mets hitless in the bottom of the seventh. They could only get a runner to second on a walk and a sac bunt. Ryan got Baltimore 1-2-3 in the top of the eight.

New York got another hit in the bottom of the eighth inning when Ed Kranepool hit a solo home run of his own, just like Agee had in the first. It was the Mets' sixth and final hit of the game. Too bad New York could not have had a runner on when they were leaving the park here. That's what happens when you only get six hits! But with a 5-0 lead, no one on the New York Mets was complaining at this point, I'm sure!

However, Baltimore, who had just three hits of their own going into the top of the ninth, was not done putting some fear into New York. They, too, did not need many hits to get 'er going. Ryan got the first two batters out on fly balls hit to right fielder Art Shamsky. Baltimore had evidently learned to stop hitting them anywhere near centerfield. But there was two outs. Unexpectedly, Ryan came undone as the Orioles coaxed two walks of him around a single. Ryan managed to fan Paul Blair to end the game.

The Mets went on to win game four 2-1 and game five 5-3. The 1969 World Series would belong to New York! Only in game four did the Mets manage to reach double figures in hits, and even then they needed ten innings to do that. The 1969 New York Mets, with 100 wins to their name, might not have seemed like a team needing a miracle to win. Or even seem like a longshot pick. But with only six hits in each of the first three games, they were put to the test early by Baltimore. But the Mets managed to use some of their smarts, wits, walks, long balls and pitching to overcome that. I guess, with such little output off the bats, New York did need a few miracles that Fall Classic!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

The Yankees were held to six or less hits in games three, four and five of the 1964 World Series. All three games were at home. They wasted two fine pitching efforts in the process! The St. Louis Cardinals pitchers took advantage of Yankees Stadium being a pitcher's ballpark. Their pitching seemed to click in a New York minute in the Bronx! The World Series was tied at one going there. Someone had to be ahead in it by the end of game five.

In game three of the '64 Fall Classic, Curt Simmons of the Cardinals and Jim Bouton really kept the batter's quiet. The Yankees scored first in the bottom of the second on a single by Elston Howard and a two-out double by Clete Boyer. Simmons settled down after that. Bobby Richardson hit a single in the sixth and then Mickey Mantle hit a two-out double, but Curt held the fort there and everywhere!

Bouton, meanwhile, looked like he was about to lose the game on more than a few occasions. He gave up a hit and a walk himself in the top of the second. The Cardinals, behind 1-0, tied it in the fifth inning. Tim McCarver singled past first basemen Joe Pepitone, who was playing way off the bag, and still could not get to it! The ball then got by Mickey Mantle, who was playing rightfield, with Roger Maris in centre. McCarver ended up on second. Curt Simmons, who was doing it all on this day, then came to the dish. Simmons, who batted and threw left, went the other way. The ball deflected off third baseman Clete Boyer's glove and got away from him. McCarver motored home. The game was tied at one.

The Cardinals also threatened in the top of the sixth and again in the top of the ninth, but were unable to get anyone home. Although the Cards themselves were held to just six hits, they also were issued three walks. New York didn't help their own cause as well, and they made two errors in the game.

In the bottom of the ninth, it was time for Mantle to win the game. His walk-off home run off Barney Schultz was just the Yankees' fifth hit of the afternoon, but it gave the Bronx Bombers the win, 2-1. They were also up two games to one in the 1964 World Series.

In game four, the Yankees lashed out against St. Louis starter Ray Sadecki, who had won game one for the Cards. He made it to the sixth inning in the opening tilt. But here, he was gone after just 1/3 of an inning. Phil Linz hit a double to start the game for New York. Then Phil made it to third on Ken Boyer's throwing error when he was trapped on a pickoff play. Bobby Richardson hit a double to send Linz home. 1-0, New York. Roger Maris hit a soft single to right, Richardson holding at third. Mantle, batting right-handed against Sadecki, also went to right on a single, scoring Richardson. Mickey tried for second when Mike Shannon bobbled the ball. Shannon threw The Mick out at second, but it was 2-0 now and Ray was gone from the game. Maris was on third. When Elston Howard greeted new pitcher Roger Craig with a single to centre, it was 3-0 Yankees. That was five hits, right there!

Craig seemed to settle down, getting the next two men out, then fanning the side in the second. The Cardinals went quietly in the first two innings against Yankee starter Al Downing. In the top of the third, they got a walk from Dal Maxvill and a single from Curt Flood (and failed to score), but went down 1-2-3 in the first, second, fourth and fifth against Downing, who seemed to have the Cardinals number with his lightning-quick fastball and great curveball!

The Yankees didn't seem to be worried about Craig. In the bottom of the third, they coaxed two walks off him, but Roger then picked Mantle off second base to end the inning. In the next frame, New York got another walk, and Clete Boyer added a single. There was only one out. But Craig fanned the next two batters. When he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth, he had fanned eight batters in 4 2/3 inning. Roger Craig had also held the Yankees scoreless!

But it was St. Louis that was scoreless in the game and behind 3-0 in the top of the sixth. Carl Warwick led off with a pinch-hit single. Flood then got his second hit of the game, but Lou Brock went out on a fly ball to Roger Maris in centre. When Dick Groat hit a roller to Bobby Richardson at second, it looked like an inning-ending double play. Richardson seemed to have problems extracting the ball from his glove, and threw wide of second, Phil Linz also being dumped by a Flood slide. The bases were loaded and there was one out.

Ken Boyer took an outside slider for ball one from Downing, then hammered a changeup just fair in left for a grand slam. That turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead for St. Louis. The Cards were held to just two more hits by Downing, Pete Mikkelsen and Ralph Terry the rest of the way. But New York, with five hits after just one inning, were held to just the Boyer single the rest of the way by Roger Craig and Ron Taylor. Taylor threw four innings of scoreless, no-hit ball. Ron also allowed just one walk. The series was tied at two.

Bob Gibson then took over from there in game five. He needed no relief pitching. The game was scoreless into the top of the fifth. Then, with one out, Gibson himself got a single that landed just in from of shortstop Phil Linz, charging into the outfield, and leftfielder Tommy Tresh. Tresh made a desperate dive for it at the last minute, but came up empty. Curt Flood send a roller to Bobby Richardson at second. This was another double play ball. And with one out, this should have been the end of the inning. But the ball took a bad hop at the end, and jumped up and hit Richardson on the wrists. Both runners were safe!

Lou Brock then singled home Gibson and Flood made it to third. 1-0, St. Louis. Bill White then sent another roller to Richardson. This time, Bobby had no trouble with it. Getting it off in plenty of time to Linz at second, New York looked destined to get out of this mess down only one run. Linz, in a hurry, threw it in the dirt to Joe Pepitone at first. Pepi, a little two carefree at times, nonetheless made an acrobatic scoop of it! New York thought the inning was over. But Al Smith, the first base umpire, called White safe as Flood scored. 2-0, St. Louis.

Gibson, with the lead, had survived a scare in the second as the Yankees loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. But entering the bottom of the ninth inning, and still ahead 2-0, he took a four-hitter with him. Mickey Mantle started the inning by sending a ground ball to Dick Groat. And Groat made a critical error, just as Richardson had earlier in the afternoon and in game four. Elston Howard fanned. But when Pepitone, who got the Yankees' fourth hit off Gibby back in the seventh, smashed a liner off Gibson's leg, trouble brewed! Bob Gibson, who was such an athlete that he once played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters, charged after the ball, and made a basketball-like play to nip Pepitione at first. Sort of like a fadeaway jumper, only it was almost an underhanded throw to first. Al Smith called Joe out at first on the play. Pepitone, Yogi Berra (now managing the Yankees) and first-base coach Jim Gleeson all were furious! Watching the play on the World Series highlight film, I have to say it appears that Pepitone made it to the bag at the same time that Gibson's throw did. Pepitone later said he heard Bill White (playing first for St. Louis) make the catch after he touched the bag with his foot. In any event, the call stood. New York, with just four hits now in 8 2/3 innings, were down to their last out!

But Tommy Tresh then hit a dramatic, game-tying home run. Obviously, Bob Gibson's big play had saved St. Louis from losing the game, 3-2. Now it was 2-2, as this amazing game headed to extra innings. The Cardinals then pounced on the situation!

Pete Mikklesen, who had pitched well the day before, had come in to pitch the top of the eighth for New York. After Hal Reniff had come in to pitch after hard-luck starter Mel Stottlemyre (who allowed zero earned runs in seven innings of work) had been removed for a pinch-hitter. Reniff got the first batter out but proceeded to give up two straight hits. Mikklesen, like a superman, came in and got the next five batters out. That was another reason this game was going past the ninth!

Bill White led off with a walk. Ken Boyer tried to bunt them over. He got it off to the right side of the infield. Both Mikkelsen and Joe Pepitone weren't on the same page here. Both of them decided that the other person should field it, while they had a race towards first base. Alas, that is useless if neither of you has the ball! Boyer was credited with a single.  Dick Groat came to bat, and his assignment was much the same as Boyer: 1) Keep the rally going and 2) Prevent the Yankees from turning two!

So on a bunt attempt, Mikkelsen threw one of his patented sinker balls. The Cardinals had been having problems with that all day from Stottlemyre and now Mikkelsen. Sure enough, Dick missed it. Bill White had taken off towards third, too! Elston Howard noticed this, and Bill knew he would not make it to third. White started back to second. Howard took immediate action on this and threw to shortstop Linz, covering ready at second. Bill then reversed things and sprinted towards third. Linz got the ball and fired towards Clete Boyer at third, but the throw was late. White had a stolen base! But Groat, now swinging away, grounded to Clete Boyer at third. Bill White had to hold there. Clete tossed to second, and his older brother was out on the force. Now, New York could get out of this if they could turn a double play. Let's face it, they weren;t about to fail to turn two if they got another chance, right? But Tim McCarver had no intentions of hitting into one. Timmy got ahead in the count 3-1. Tim fouled off a fastball, and that ran the count full. But when Mikkelsen tried to throw him another fastball, McCarver was ready and waiting! It was also right where Tim wanted it. He hammered it over the head of Mantle in right, and the ball dropped in to the seats for a tie-breaking three-run home run! St. Louis led 5-2, and needed just three more outs to go ahead three games to two in the 1964 World Series!

Bob Gibson, now working on a five-hitter, got pinch-hitter Mike Hegan to fan to start the bottom of the tenth. It was his thirteenth strikeout, just two shy of Sandy Koufax's record of fifteen set in game one of the 1963 World Series. Phil Linz popped to Ken Boyer at third. Bobby Richardson (2-4 off Gibson in this game so far) stroked a clean single to centre, as this game continued. Roger Maris was the batter. This was going to be no easy out. Gibby needed to get him out. If Bob Gibson didn't, he would have to face Mickey Mantle. And The Mick, in the on-deck circle, represented the tying run!

Gibson threw Roger a pitch that moved in on his hands. Maris lifted a pop fly to third. But the ball was in foul territory and looked like it was going end up in the stands. That would give Roger another chance at Bob Gibson. The ball was just past the Cards' dugout in left. Ken Boyer, playing third base like his brother, raced over to get it. He reached towards the railing, reaching in as far as he could. And Kenny made a great catch on ball that looked like it was going to hit National League President Warren Giles! St. Louis had the game 5-2, and also were up three games to two in this classic!

St. Louis went on to win the 1964 Fall Classic in seven games. It was not easy from here, either. Their pitching seemed to fall apart. They lost 8-3 in game six and had to hold off a tremendous Yankee onslaught in game seven. The 7-5 finale was not Gibson's finest performance of the World Series that year, but it did give St. Louis the World Series.

But games three, four and five, all at Yankee Stadium, were the crucial ones in this World Series, now approaching it's half-century mark. It was enemy territory for this Cardinal club, and many a pitcher had become rattled. New York, as you can see, also got some good pitching in those three games. And that forced the Cards' pitchers to match that. They did. It would help give St. Louis the confidence they needed, and it also propelled them to victory over tremendous opposition!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Jim Burton pitched for a Joe Morgan in the minors. Pitching for the Boston Red Sox in the 1975 World Series, he faced another Joe Morgan. One of those classic lefty-versus-lefty matchups we all love in the Fall Classic!

Stuck in the minors that magical year of 1975, Burton went 8-2 in 12 starts for Pawtucket, the Red Sox's AAA team. Managed by Joe Morgan, Burton was pitching extremely well. And with a 1.53 ERA, the parent club took notice. He was called up and made his MLB debut on June 10, 1975. He was still only 25 years old.

But what a year he turned in for the Red Sox. Burton went only 1-2, with only 1 save in 29 games (4 starts). However, he posted a 2.89 ERA and also 6 holds. The lefty was needed!

Boston would face the favoured Cincinnati Reds. While Boston took game one, 6-0, the Reds won game two, 3-2. Game three was over in Cincy.

The Reds had no intention of letting Boston take the series lead. The jumped on Boston starter Rick Wise. With one out in the bottom of the fourth, it was 4-1, Cincinnati! Pete Rose had finished off Wise with a triple. Jim Burton came in.

The first batter was Ken Griffey. Burton walked him. The Red Sox needed a double play. But guess who came up to the dish for the Reds? Why, Joe Morgan, of course. It was a good at-bat, as both pitcher and batter waged a tough war.

Burton got Morgan to swing and miss for strike one. Then Jim threw two straight balls. After getting another strike on a miss by Joe, Burton missed again. So with a full count, Joe Morgan sent a fly to centre that was caught. But the fly was deep enough to score rose. Griffey, on first, then stole second when Burton missed for ball one to Tony Perez. Burton's night was over. He departed with the Reds up 5-1. Boston rallied to tie it before losing.

In a winner-take-all game seven, the two teams fought hard and long into the night. The Fall Classic was tied at three in games. Game seven was also tied at three. Burton came on to pitch the ninth.

The first batter to face him was Griffey. And Griffey coaxed another walk from Jim on a 3-2 pitch. On the first pitch to Cesar Geronimo, the Red batter executed a perfect bunt to third. That moved the go-ahead runner into second with just one out. Dan Driessen batted for pitcher Clay Carroll. Again, it took just one pitch to retire the batter by Burton. But it was a ground out. Again, the runner advanced. But there was now two outs.

Pete Rose was in the on-deck circle. As he watched Driessen get retired, he turned to Joe Morgan, who was entering the on-deck circle. "If I don't get it done," he said, "You do!"

Rose and Burton had quite a struggle. Burton fell behind 2-0, got a strike when Pete missed. Then he missed for ball three. But a strike again on a Rose miss, and Burton was one pitch away from getting out of this. But he missed for ball four. It was up to Joe Morgan.

Burton had no intentions of walking him, too. Johnny Bench was next. Bench batted right and Morgan hit left. He missed for ball one, but then got Morgan to swing and miss on the next two pitches. 1-2. Burton was again, just a strike away from ending this. He threw Morgan a tough slider, low and away. And it broke late. But Morgan, doing a fabulous job of protecting the plate, got the last 1/3 of the bat on it. The blooper landed just in front of the Red Sox infielders and an on-rushing Fred Lynn, the centrefielder. The Reds had the lead, 4-3. Burton was done for the night.



Cincinatti went on to win the game 4-3, and the 1975 World Series, four games to three.

Jim Burton never made it back to the World Series. In fact, apart from a 2/3 inning appearance on the hill for Boston in 1977, this was it for his MLB career.

That's what the game of baseball can be like in the postseason. Morgan, went on to play in the World Series the next year, and eventually wound up in baseball's Hall Of Fame. Burton, as mentioned, was not so lucky despite his pretty good performance in '75. He had a good enough year to belong there in the seventh game. Morgan deserved to be there too. Yet, look at where the baseball gods took them: In separate directions after 1975!

You never know, of course, at the time. There can be many more moments like this, or it can be your only moment, be it as a batter or hitter. Still, that's the sort of thing that makes baseball the great sport it is. Pitcher vs. batter, where a hit or an out can make all the difference in the world. Whether your at the game or at home watching it on television, you are always glued to the action in these moments! The 1975 World Series had several of them. And hey, Jim Burton went from the minors under Joe Morgan, to facing Joe Morgan in game seven in the ninth inning! You couldn't ask for much more!

Monday, August 11, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Allie Reynolds got a save and a win in his last two Fall Classic appearances. They were also in back-to-back games in the 1953 World Series. And they were the last two games of the 1953 Fall Classic.

Reynolds actually started game one of the Fall Classic that year. Pitching for the New York Yankees against their rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers, he left with a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning. Brooklyn tied it, and New York then blew it wide open. The 9-5 win got the Yankees off on the right foot.

But going into game five, the Fall Classic of '53 was tied at two. So it was a crucial one. Who better to turn the ball over to than someone with six career wins in the World Series? Reynolds was a little slow getting into this one, through no fault of his own!

The Yankees entered the bottom of the ninth ahead 11-6 in a slugfest at old Ebbets field. The Dodgers needed this one, for games six and seven would be over at Yankee Stadium. But five runs in one inning against the Bronx Bombers is asking for a lot!

But Jim Gilliam, surprising everyone, led off the bottom of the frame with a home run. It only counted for one run, of course, but it was evidence that Brooklyn would not go down without a fight!

Pee Wee Reese was then retired by Bob Kuzava, who was pitching in relief of starter Jim McDonald. But when Duke Snider singled, that was the end of the night for Bob. Worse still, the fleet and dangerous Jackie Robinson was next! The call to the 'pen went to Reynolds!

Reynolds came in. One on, one out. He got Jackie to ground into a game-ending double play! Although, it would not be a save by today's rules, Reynolds would get credited with one right there. He had done just what the Yankees had needed.

But in game six at home, Allie did something the Yankees didn't need!

New York was ahead 3-1 after seven, so manager Casey Stengel went to Reynolds. Allie was looking for another save. The eighth inning went according to plan. The Dodgers managed just a single by Robinson. As Reynolds trotted back out to the hill in the top of the ninth, New York was but three outs away from the 1953 World Series. It would also be their fifth straight title!

Gil Hodges flied out. Duke Snider walked. Carl Furillo then stunned the Yankee faithful by hitting a game-tying two-run home run to right! Reynolds fanned the next two batters, but did Brooklyn ever have life. That is, until the game went into the bottom of the ninth!

Clem Labine had to take his turn to hold the Yankees in check. But Hank Bauer led off with a walk. Yogi Berra then lined out to right. Mickey Mantle, two home runs and seven RBIs to his name so far in this series, showed his speed with an infield single.

Mantle's pal Billy Martin was next. He singled right back through the box. Bauer turned on the jets and raced home from second. The Yankees had the 1953 World Series!



Reynolds had failed to get the win in game one. He had also blown the save in this game. But with a save in game five and a win here in game six, Allie had cemented his place as one of the all-time best World Series pitchers. His win was his seventh, which tied him with Red Ruffling for first in that all-important lifetime category.

Whitey Ford would go on to win ten Fall Classic games to set the all-time record. Reynolds and Ruffling would soon have to settle for a three-way tie with Bob Gibson for second place. But, that's not bad company, now is it?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Gene Woodling and Granny Hamner each hit exactly .429 in the 1950 Fall Classic. And each went 6-14, so they tied for the lead in batting average for that year's World Series. Despite the four game sweep by the Yankees of the Phillies, not all was clear-cut.

Woodling, who batted leadoff for New York, drew a walk as the very first batter in game one. Philly pitcher Jim Konstanty allowed Gene to reach third and another runner to reach first. But that's where Big Jim got out of the inning without a run allowed. For Thanks to another Woodling walk in the third inning, New York loaded the bases! But just went it seemed like they were about to blow the cover off the lid, New York stranded three more runners.

The Yankees scored the only run of the game in the fourth, but Woodling did not figure into it at all. But in the top of the seventh, he singled. Again, New York stranded two runners. But New York won the game 1-0 and Hamner failed in all three trips to the plate.

In game two, Woodling led off the game with a single. Yogi Berra also added a single. New York continued to waste these efforts, as the inning ended in a 0-0 deadlock.

In the second inning, both Gene and Granny came up with big hits. New York got a single by Jerry Coleman and a walk by starting pitcher Allie Reynolds. Gene Woodling hit a clutch single to score Coleman and put New York up 1-0.

In the bottom of the frame, the Phillies threatened to tie it. With one out, Hamner hit a triple. Philadelphia needed just a hit or sac fly and this game was guaranteed a tie. Neither happened as a grounder made two outs. A fly ball off the bat of Mike Goliat ended the inning.

In the top of the fourth, with New York still up 1-0, Hank Bauer popped out to Hamner at short. But Coleman smashed a double and Reynolds drew a walk. The stage was set for another Woodling delivery. It never happened as he hit a foul fly to left that was caught. The Yankees were then retired as Phil Rizzuto lined out to right.

Hamner, for his part, didn't reach the dish in that inning until there was two down and nobody on. But he coaxed a walk from Reynolds. Then, he stole second. But that's all Philly got that inning. However, the Phillies did tie the game the next inning.

It was in the bottom of the ninth that Philadelphia almost won it. And it was our boy with a one-out double that did the honours! Dick Whitman was sent up to bat for Ken Silvestri. New York put him on first intentionally. But Goliat ended the inning by hitting into a double play! The Phillies would pay dearly for that missed opportunity as Joe DiMaggio hit a home run in the top of the tenth inning off Robin Roberts to win the game for New York.

It was off to the Big, Bad, Bronx for the next two games. Philly lost them both. Woodling was not in the lineup for game three, however.

Hamner got a single in the top of the second. He then made it to third on another single. But Philadelphia couldn't get him or anyone else home that inning.

The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the third. Jerry Coleman cashed in Phil Rizzuto with a single. I guess Woodling was not needed! But what the Phillies needed was some offence, now!

The got it in the top of the sixth as Dick Sisler's single tied it. Hamner was the next batter, but watched helplessly as Dick was picked off first! So Granny had to wait until the next inning to bat. When that rolled around, he came through with a single.

Seminick then hit a sac bunt of Ed Lopat to move him into scoring position. When Goliat followed with a single, it was Philadelphia up, 2-1! I guess things had worked out fine for Hamner. What about Woodling? Would he ever get into the game? Time was running out for him and New York.

In the bottom of the eighth, New York not only tied things up, but they loaded the bases. Before that Gene batted for Lopat and was retired.

Then, with two outs, Hamner made an error on a Bobby Brown grounder that allowed the tying run to score. Jim Konstanty, brought in to put out the first, managed to retire Johnny Mize to prevent any further damage. Woodling would stay in the game as he went out to play left field.

But Hamner came through with a double to lead off the top of the ninth. As was the case in game two, a two-bagger by Granny had the potential to win the game. Again, though, Philly blew this one!

Hamner made it to third on a sac bunt. When Goliat was walked intentionally, runners were on the corners with just one out. Philadelphia sent up Dick Whitman to pinch hit again, this time for Konstanty. He hit a grounder to first that Hamner tried to score on. But he was cut down at the dish. Then, with runners on first and second and two out, Eddie Waitkus flied out to right.

The first two Yankee batters were retired in the bottom of the ninth. There was still Woodling. Gene kept the inning alive with a single. When Phil Rizzuto followed with a single of his own, the winning run was on second. Jerry Coleman, continued to come up big as he hit the third straight single of the inning. Woodling trotted home from second and New York won the game 3-2, and led the 1950 Fall Classic, three games to zero.

In game four, Gene Woodling was back in the starting lineup. Back in left and batting leadoff. And he made an immediate impact.

He started things by reaching on an error. Then, Yogi Berra scored him with a single. A wild pitch moved Yogi to third. When DiMaggio followed with a double, it was 2-0, New York. They were just getting started, however.

Hamner, for his part, got a single in the top of the fourth off Whitey Ford. That put runners on the corners with only one out. But The Chairman Of The Board, who was making his first World Series start, got out of the inning via a double play. Andy Seminick hit a grounder to first, where Johnny Mize mad the putout. The Big Cat then fired home to nail Del Ennis, trying to score from third!

Woodling got a single in the bottom of the bottom of the fifth, but was stranded. But New York scored three more times the next inning off Jim Konstanty. The game looked hopelessly over for Philadelphia, with Ford fanning Hamner to start a 1-2-3 seventh.

Woodling continued the onslaught in the bottom of the seventh. He rapped at one-out single off Konstanty. But he got too greedy and tried to steal second. He was a dead duck.

The defiant Phillies came up to bat, behind still by five, in the top of the ninth. Willie Jones led off with a single. Del Ennis was hit by a pitch. But Ford, looking for the shutout, got Dick Sisler to force Ennis at second. Hamner batted for the last time in the 1950 Fall Classic and Whitey fanned him again. Seminick batted again and lofted one to Woodling in left. It should have been the last out. New York should have won, 5-0.

But Woodling made an error on the fly, and the shutout was lost. Actually, two runs scored for Philly, who still had life. Just to leave no doubt about that, Goliat followed with a single. Allie Reynolds was brought in to relieve Ford, who had been cruely robbed of a blanking. Thus are the breaks of the World Series.

Reynolds though, had no intention of letting the Phillies win this game. He fanned pinch-hitter Stan Lopata, and the game was won by New York, 5-2. That completed a four-game sweep!

Despite that, this Fall Classic was close. Every game was one that you would not bet the farm on the winner. In Woodling and Hamner, it was sort of fitting that each batted the same, for their efforts led to many of those close moments being decided or almost decided. While Jerry Coleman won the MVP of the World Series and Jim Konstanty was the MVP of the National League that year, the efforts of Gene and Granny provided some tremendous excitement!

Monday, August 4, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Shoeless Joe Jackson scored the first run in the 1919 World Series. He was also the last out!

The person who is synonymous with "fixed", "thrown", and tainted Fall Classic of 1919 is quite a story. I can't honestly say I believe he wasn't giving it his all. Even in the games the White Sox lost, he seemed to perform very well.

So in game one of the 1919 World Series, it was the favoured Chicago White Sox getting crushed, 9-1 by the underdog Cincinnati Reds. Chicago did not seem to give much of an effort. Joe reached on an error in the top of the second inning, going all the way to second. It was a routine infield grounder. When Happy Felsch got a sac bunt, Jackson was on third with less than two outs! Chick Gandil's single scored Joe. The White Sox, with this run, tied the game at one. But the Reds scored eight more times to win a laugher!

In game two, Jackson batted in the second again. Again, he was leading off. This time he hit a double. Felsch hit another sac bunt. So here again, was Jackson on third with less than two outs. But this time, Chicago did not get him home.

In the top of the second, Jackson singled Buck Weaver to second. There wasn't a man out yet, and another Felsch bunt, saw Weaver make it to third and Jackson to second. Weaver was out at home trying to score on an infield out. Shoeless Joe was on third. But he stayed there as the third out was made.

After fanning in his next plate appearance, Jackson got his third hit of the game. It was the eighth inning, but two were out when Joe got a single. Jackson actually made it to scoring position for the third time in the game as a throwing error moved him up a bag. However, that's where he was when the inning ended. The White Sox, despite ten hits, lost the game 4-2.

In game three at home, Jackson singled to lead off the second inning. This time, he scored on a Chick Gandil single. But in his next plate appearance, Jackson was out on an attempted bunt.

The White Sox added another run and led  2-0 as Jackson got a single to lead off the sixth inning. But he was caught stealing. The last batter of the game was Buck Weaver, who batted in front of Joe. Weaver grounded out. Jackson had gone 5-7 in the last two games.

Shoeless Joe Jackson hit a double in the bottom of the second. Another sac by Felsch and two more walks loaded the bases. But again, the inning would end with Jackson but a single away from immortality!

In the next inning, Jackson batted with a runner on second and two outs. Joe should have been the third out of the inning, but he reached on another throwing error by the Reds. But Felsch grounded out, leaving runners on the corners.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jackson grounded out. In the bottom of the eighth, he fanned. The White Sox lost the game, 2-0. Chicago now trailed the best-of-nine, 3-1.

Shoeless Joe came up in the bottom of the first with two runners on and popped out. In the fourth inning, he grounded out. He grounded out again in the bottom of the seventh. Finally, he grounded out for a third time in the bottom of the ninth.

Jackson ended the game 0-4. But, to be honest with you, it was the Reds' pitcher Hod Eller who finished with a fine three-hitter. One of the more forgotten pitchers of his time, he was a tough nut to crack on the mound. Given how good of stuff he had on this day, it seems like Joe and his mates were doomed!

Now down four games to one, Shoeless Joe and his mates seemed doomed. Games six and seven (if necessary) would be in Cincinnati.

Jackson was retired in the top of the first. He went down again on a foul pop to the catcher in the fourth. The Reds charged in front 4-0 by the bottom of the frame. Chicago was looking down and out.

After the White Sox finally tallied a run in the top of the fifth, Jackson cashed in Buck Weaver with a single in the sixth. Jackson scored Chicago's third run himself. By the end of the inning, it was all tied at four!

Jackson walked in the top of the eighth, and another walk to Gandil moved him into scoring position. Chicago could not get it done here, however.

A single by Jackson on a bunt moved Buck Weaver to third in the top of the ninth. With one out, Chick Gandil cashed in Weaver with a single. Jackson took second, but was erased as Swede Risberg lined into a double-play. Chicago held on for the win, however, 5-4. Game seven was necessary, after all!

Shoeless Joe Jackson got and RBI single in the top of the first inning, and a single by Felsch moved him to second. Two on with two outs. Felsch was then forced at second. Jackson got another RBI on a single when he connected in the third to score Shano Collins. Happy Felsch then forced Jackson at second. But Chicago was up 2-0.

The White Sox put two men on for Jackson in the top of the fifth on a single and an error. Joe himself reached on an error, loading the bases for Felsch. Felsch singled to score two more and make it 4-0, Chicago. Jackson made it to third but was stranded for the third time in the game. Joe had one more at-bat and grouned out. Chicago won 4-1.

The White Sox faced Hod Eller again in game eight, but were only down four games to three. But Joe popped out to short in the bottom of the first. There were runners on second and third and only one out at the time. Neither runner would score. Chicago was behind 4-0 already.

Another run by the Reds in the top of the second made it 5-0. Again Chicago put two men on in the bottom of the frame. Again there was only one out. Again, the White Sox would strand them. This time, it was Bill James (pitching in relief of starter / thrower Lefty Williams) that was the second out and Nemo Leibold who were the last two outs of the inning. Neither of them were in on the fix. But Chicago's chances of winning this thing had begun to slip away.

Finally, Chicago had a scoreless pitching performance in an inning, the third. In the bottom of the inning, Shoeless Joe Jackson hit a home run. It was his first and only longball in the 1919 World Series. It was his only postseason home run. It was also the only home run of the 1919 Fall Classic by either team. The problem for the Sox was, it came with the bases empty. So it was still Cincy sitting pretty, 5-1.

But the Reds had no intention of letting Chicago get any closer. They got that run back in the top of the fifth and touched home three more times the next frame. It was 9-1, Cincinnati. That happened to be the final score of game one, by the way.

Buck Weaver singled to begin the bottom of the frame. Shoeless gave it quite a ride, but it was only a long, loud out. Felsch also flied out, but it was not as far as Joe hit it. Gandil then also flied out.

With runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the seventh, Bill Rariden singled to left. The Reds runner scored when Jackson's throw from left was too late. But because both runners were off on the crack of the bat, it must have been a tough play for Jackson. Not helping matters was that the runner on second, Edd Roush, was hardly slow. In 1919, Edd was third in the National League in triples. Then, in 1924, he hit 21 to lead the NL. The year before, he cracked out 41 doubles to pace the senior circuit. He was no slow-poke.

But, in any event, it was 10-1 Cincinnati. Chicago tried to come back in the bottom of the frame. Leibold flied out, but it was also a long, loud out. Eddie Collins had better luck and got a single. Buck Weaver then hit a double to right, but Collins only made it to third.

It was Jackson's time to hit a double of his own. But it was hit a little better than Weaver's, so both runners scored. 10-3. But Happy Felsch, as usual with Jackson on base, popped out. That was the second out. Chick Gandil then must have surprised everyone, including himself, by hitting a triple to score Jackson.

The inning then appeared to be over as Swede Risberg hit a fly ball to short centre. But Edd Roush, the speedster, made a crucial mistake and dropped it. Gandil scored and it was 10-5, Cincinnati. Ray Schalk then grounded out to end the inning. Chicago had scored four times but now were just three outs away from losing the 1919 World Series!

Roy Wilkinson, who had allowed two runs to score in three innings, stopped the Reds cold in the top of the ninth. Chicago came up one last time in the bottom of the frame.

Eddie Murphy (not the actor) batter for Wilkinson and was hit by Hod Eller. Leibold was retired on a long fly to centre. But Eddie Collins hit a single to move Murphy to second. Weaver also hit the ball well like Leibold, but again, it was a long, loud out. Murphy took third. Shoeless Joe batted. Collins stole second. Two men in scoring position, two outs.

Jackson grounded to second. Morrie Rath scooped it up and threw to first for the out. The Reds had the game 10-5, and the Fall Classic, five games to three.

Shoeless Joe Jackson ended the 1919 World Series 12-32, with five runs scored (tops on Chicago), six runs driven in (tops on Chicago, who had only seventeen RBIs total), three doubles (second on Chicago behind Buck Weaver) and a walk.

It is hard to say for sure what Jackson's intentions were. While he did fail in several clutch situation in the 1919 World Series, he also came through in many as well. His two best games, in terms of hard hits, were games' two, four and eight, all of which Chicago lost intentionally. He had three hits in game two, for good measure. And there, he was stranded in scoring position three times! Granted, he didn't start getting the RBIs until game six. But if you go 5-7 over two games (two and three) and end up with no RBIs, then it's more your teammates fault then yours. Also, getting one of the three hits in game four and again being stranded on second, you really have to wonder.

Wonder, many baseball fans have, for nearly 100 years!