October 11 Baseball Anniversaries

October 11, 1898: The Boston Beaneaters beat the Washington Senators, 8-2, in Washington, and win their 2nd straight National League Pennant — their 5th in the last 8 years, their 8th overall, and their 12th if you count their days as the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association.

Future Hall-of-Famers on the 1898 Beaneaters include outfielders Hugh Duffy and Billy Hamilton, 3rd baseman Jimmy Collins, pitchers Kid Nichols and Vic Willis, and manager Frank Selee.

For the team that will, by 1912, be known as the Boston Braves, this is the end of a golden age. They had finished 1st in their League 12 times in their first 28 seasons, effectively dominating professional baseball the way no team would again until the Yankees started winning Pennants in 1921. But in their last 54 seasons, they would win just 2 more Pennants.

But at least they would still exist, and still do, if not in the same city (they’re in Atlanta now). The Senators would be contracted out of existence after the 1899 season, opening the door to a new team of the same name in the American League in 1901.

The last survivor of the Beaneaters’ 1890s dynasty was Duffy, who played all 3 outfield positions, and who lived on until 1954, spending the last few years of his life still involved in Boston baseball, as an executive with the Red Sox.

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October 11, 1899: Eddie Dyer is born in Morgan City, Louisiana. Like so many mediocre players, he became a successful manager, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1946 World Championship, having played on their 1926 World Championship team.

October 11, 1913, 100 years ago: New York Giants manager John McGraw loses his 3rd straight World Series – something that, a century years later, no other team, let alone manager, has done since, although his former Baltimore Orioles teammate, Hughie Jennings, did it with the 1907-08-09 Detroit Tigers.

In Game 5‚ Christy Mathewson is good‚ but his fellow future Hall-of-Famer Eddie Plank is better: His 2-hitter wins the 3-1 finale. Plank retires the first 13 batters‚ bettering the mark of 12 set by the Cubs’ Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown on Ocotber 9‚ 1906. It is the A’s 3rd title, all in the last 4 years.

This turns out to be the last postseason appearance for Mathewson, who, at this point, is identified with the World Series as much as anyone, even though his team is only 1-for-4 in them.

October 11, 1925: Elmore Leonard is born in New Orleans, but grew up in Detroit and was a hard-core Tigers fan.  Or, perhaps I should say, “hard-boiled” instead, as he was the writer of hard-boiled fiction such as Get Shorty, one of several of his novels to be turned into popular movies.  He died earlier this year.

October 11, 1943, 70 years ago: The Yankees defeat the Cardinals, 2-0 at Sportsman’s Park, to take Game 5 and the World Series. It is the Yankees’ 10th World Championship. It will be 2006, and the Cardinals themselves, before another team wins a 10th World Series.

October 11, 1944: Mike Fiore is born in Brooklyn. He was basically a journeyman, but on April 13, 1969, he hit the first home run in Kansas City Royals history, off John “Blue Moon” Odom of the Oakland Athletics – appropriately enough, the team whose move out of Kansas City had made the Royals possible.

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October 11, 1946: In one of the rare trades that works out well for both teams, the Yankees trade Joe Gordon, Allie Clark and Ed Bockman to the Cleveland Indians for Allie Reynolds.  Gordon, a future Hall-of-Famer, and Clark, a native of South Amboy, New Jersey, would help the Indians win the 1948 World Series.

Dan Daniel, the legendary sports columnist of the New York World-Telegram, will later report that Yankee GM Larry MacPhail and newly-hired manager Bucky Harris originally wanted another Cleveland pitcher, Red Embree. But, Daniel said, Joe DiMaggio advised them to take Reynolds, a part-Cherokee pitcher from Oklahoma, whose record with (perhaps appropriately) the Indians had not been good, but DiMaggio had never been able to hit him well.

The Yankee Clipper guessed well, as “the Superchief” (Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen nicknamed him that not just for his heritage but because his fastball reminded Allen of the Santa Fe Railroad’s fast Chicago-to-Los Angeles train “the Super Chief”) began a portion of his career that put him in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. Had he come along 30 years later, with his fastball and his attitude, he might have been a Hall of Fame closer.

It is around this time that, allegedly, MacPhail and Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey had been drinking (as both men liked to do — a lot), and wrote out on a cocktail napkin an agreement to trade their biggest stars for each other, Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams.

At first glance, it looked like a great idea: DiMaggio, a righthanded hitter, hated hitting into Yankee Stadium’s left- and center-field “Death Valley,” while at Fenway Park he would have the nice close left-field wall — whose advertisements would come down in this off-season, debuting nice and clean and green for 1947, giving rise to the nickname “the Green Monster.” While Williams, hitting to a right field that was 380 feet straightaway at Fenway, would flourish with Yankee Stadium’s “short porch.”

But it wouldn’t have been a good trade. DiMaggio wouldn’t have been happy in the smaller city of Boston, and he would have forced his brother Dom to move out of center field. And Williams, who had enough problems with the media in Boston, would have been scorched by the press of much bigger New York.

Neither man would have been the best; DiMaggio might have outright retired after his 1948 heel spurs (at age 34), and Williams might have said the hell with it at the end of his Korean War service in 1953 and retired (at 35).

Why did the trade not happen? Supposedly, in the morning, Yawkey sobered up and decided that Williams was more valuable than DiMaggio. (Yeah, right: Ted was a great hitter; Joe was a great hitter AND a great fielder.) So he called up MacPhail and demanded a throw-in. A rookie left fielder who could also catch a little. MacPhail refused, and the deal collapsed. The rookie’s name was Larry Berra. Yes, Yogi, although the nickname he already had was not yet widely known.

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October 11, 1947: Thomas Boswell is born in Washington, D.C. The longtime columnist for the Washington Post helped keep alive the flame of baseball fandom in the Nation’s Capital, never ceasing in his belief that the city needed to get Major League Baseball back after Bob Short moved the Senators to Texas in 1971.

He spoke nobly in Ken Burns’ Baseball miniseries about Washington Senators legend Walter Johnson, and poignantly about the fall of Pete Rose.  However, his job also led him to cover the team then closest to D.C., and that was the Baltimore Orioles (which led Burns to ask him about O’s manager Earl Weaver).  Covering the Orioles allowed Boswell to become part of the propaganda machine for Cal Ripken.

His books include Why Time Begins On Opening Day, and How Life Imitates the World Series. The former is sunny and optimistic, like Opening Day itself; the latter is more serious, suggesting the pressure that comes with October play.

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October 11, 1948: At Braves Field in Boston, the Cleveland Indians defeat the Braves behind “rookie” 30-year-old knuckleballer Gene Bearden, 4-3, and take Game 6 and win the World Series.

It is their 2nd title, the first coming in 1920. It has been 63 years, and despite some agonizing close calls in 1952, ’54, ’59, ’95, ’97, ‘98 and 2007, and nearly two generations of never even being in a Pennant race from 1960 to 1993, the Indians have never won another World Series.

But at least they’re still in Cleveland, despite a number of fears of having to move in the 1960s, ’70s and ‘80s.  In contrast, despite all their success in the 19th Century and winning Pennants in 1914 and 1948, this was the last late-season meaningful game the Boston franchise of the National League would ever play. The Braves would be in Milwaukee by the next time they reached the Series.

Surviving players from these teams, 65 years later: Indians Al Rosen and Eddie Robinson, and Braves Alvin Dark and Clint Conatser.

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October 11, 1964: Al Downing is cruising through the first 5 innings of Game 4 of the World Series, but he loads the bases in the 6th, and Ken Boyer, the Cardinal Captain and 3rd baseman who will soon be named NL MVP, hits a grand slam. The 4 runs his hit drives in are all the runs the Cards get, but that’s all they need, as the Cards win, 4-3, and tie up the Series at 2 games apiece.

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October 11, 1967: Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli hit the only back-to-back-to-back home runs in World Series history. Petrocelli adds another, and the Red Sox defeat the Cardinals, 8-4 at Fenway Park, and send the World Series to a deciding Game 7.

Cardinal manager Red Schoendienst, himself a World Series winner as a player with the Cardinals of 1946 and the Milwaukee Braves of 1957, announces his choice to pitch Game 7: Bob Gibson, on 3 days rest. Sox manager Dick Williams, knowing that his ace, Jim Lonborg, would have only 2 days rest, announces his starter to the Boston media: “Lonborg and champagne.” Those words are put on the front page of the Boston Globe the next day, and it ticks the Cards off.  And the last thing anyone wants to see in a World Series game is a ticked-off Bob Gibson.

Also on this day, former Dodger star Gil Hodges, who married a Brooklyn woman, Joan Lombardi, and stayed in the Borough after the Dodgers moved, leaves the managerial post of the Washington Senators to become the manager of the Mets. The Mets do compensate the Senators. Hodges will only manage the Mets for 4 seasons before a heart attack claims his life, but one of those seasons will be the Miracle of ’69.

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October 11, 1969: As expected, the New York Mets lose the first World Series game in franchise history, as Don Buford hits a leadoff home run off Met ace Tom Seaver, and the Orioles win, 4-1. But it will be the last game the O’s win in the Series.

Fast facts with which you can amaze your friends: The Mets have been in 4 World Series, and have never won Game 1.  They won Game 2 in 1969 and ’73; Game 3 in ’69, ’86 and 2000; Game 4 in ’69, ’73 and ’86; Game 5 in ’69 and ’73; Game 6 in ’86; and Game 7 in ’86.  They lost Game 1 in 1969, ’73, ’86 and 2000; Game 2 in ’86 and 2000; Game 3 in ’73; Game 4 in 2000; Game 5 in ’86 and 2000; Game 6 in ’73; and Game 7 in ’73.

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October 11, 1970: The love affair between Boston Red Sox fans and local boy Tony Conigliaro comes to an end – or, as it turned out, it comes to an an interruption – as the Sox trade him to the California Angels for 2nd baseman Doug Griffin.

Despite a courageous comeback from his beaning, his eyesight had begun to deteriorate again, and he was making a nuisance of himself within the organization. There was also dissension between him and his brother and teammate, Billy Conigliaro.

The fans, knowing little about this, were shocked, but the team decided that Tony C had to go. He would be back for the Sox, twice, first as a player and then as an interviewee for a broadcast position, but his playing career would end with a fizzle, and his useful life with a tragedy.

October 11, 1971: Just one year to the day after trading Tony C, the Red Sox trade his brother Billy, and the pitching hero of the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Pennant, Jim Lonborg, who hadn’t been the same since a skiing accident following that season. They are sent to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with 1st baseman George Scott.

Although Lonborg turned out to still have something left, as he went on to help the Phillies make the Playoffs 3 times, letting go of Scott turned out to be the bigger mistake, as they really could have used his bat in 1972, ’73, ’74 and ’75.

And what did the Sox get in this trade? Pitchers Marty Pattin and Lew Krausse, and outfielder Tommy Harper. Harper would be a good hitter and baserunner, but nothing Earth-shaking. Pattin would also not develop into much in Boston, although he would become a good pitcher later in Kansas City. (He also turned out to be the last member of the 1969 Seattle Pilots still active in the majors.) Krausse was pretty much finished.

By the time the Sox won the Pennant again in 1975, all 3 of them were gone, and after losing the World Series that year, the Sox would trade 1st baseman Cecil Cooper to the Brewers to get Scott back. Trading him away was a mistake, and, considering how fat Scott got and how good Cooper got, getting Scott back wasn’t a good idea, either.

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October 11, 1972: The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning of the final game of the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. But Johnny Bench hits a home run off Dave Guisti, over the left-field fence to tie the game‚ over the head of the Pirates’ legendary right fielder, Roberto Clemente, who had joined the 3,000 Hit Club just 2 weeks earlier. The Reds collect two more singles, and Bob Moose, who had come in to relieve Guisti, throws a wild pitch, and the Reds win, 4-3.

Not since Jack Chesbro in 1904 had a wild pitch decided a Pennant, and not since Johnny Miljus in the 1927 World Series had a wild pitch ended a postseason series. By a weird coincidence, Miljus threw his wild pitch as a Pirate, and Chesbro had also pitched for them before coming to the Highlanders/Yankees.

The Reds, taking their 2nd Pennant in 3 years, would go on to lose the World Series to the Oakland A’s. The Pirates, having won their 3rd straight NL East title but having only 1 Pennant to show for it, would lose something far greater: A plane crash on New Year’s Eve would make this game the last one that Clemente would ever play.

October 11, 1973, 40 years ago: Dmitri Dell Young is born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and grows up in Oxnard, California. The slugging 1st baseman known as “Da Meathook” helped the St. Louis Cardinals reach the postseason in 1996, although personal problems and diabetes led the Detroit Tigers to release him in 2006 before they could win that season’s AL Pennant. He is now retired, and runs a charity in Southern California.  His brother Delmon Young is now with the Tampa Bay Rays, afte rhaving been a key cog for the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.

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October 11, 1975: Saturday Night premieres on NBC. After this first season, it will be renamed Saturday Night Live. The first cast, “the Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” includes John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin and Garrett Morris — but not, as is commonly believed, Bill Murray, who replaced Chase after one season.

The first guest host is George Carlin, who begins his monologue with a whacked-out version of the Lord’s Prayer, and goes on to do his now-classic routine “Baseball and Football.” (This version is from 1990, from the State Theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey.)

Not long before Carlin died, someone took a poll to determine the greatest standup comedians of all time. Carlin came in second. Coming in first was Richard Pryor, who, like Carlin was at the peak of his powers in the mid-Seventies.
A month into SNL’s run, Pryor was asked to host the show. But, nervous that he would issue some four-letter words — they didn’t seem as nervous about such language coming from Carlin, creator of the bit “Seven Words You Can Never Use On Television,” none of which he used when he hosted — the show was not quite “Live, from New York.” They used a seven-second delay, in case they had to bleep anything out. They did. Ever since, even SNL hasn’t been totally live.

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October 11, 1977: Ty Allen Wigginton is born in San Diego. One of several bright young stars for the New York Mets who never did quite pan out, the utility player now plays for the Cardinals.

On this same day, the Yankees win Game 1 of the World Series in 12 innings, 4-3, as Paul Blair singles home Willie Randolph. And, apparently, the scene shown taking place before that game in the miniseries The Bronx Is Burning actually happened: George Steinbrenner really did leave 20 tickets to be given to Joe DiMaggio at the Yankee Stadium will-call window for this game, but the tickets weren’t at the window, and there really was a brouhaha about it, before Joe and George smoothed things out, allowing Joe to throw out the first ball before Game 6.

October 11, 1978: The Dodgers go 2 games up with a 4-3 win in Game 2. Ron Cey drives in all the Dodger runs, and Reggie Jackson does the same for the Yankees. But Bob Welch saves Burt Hooton’s win in dramatic fashion by striking out Jackson in the 9th inning. The only teams that have ever come back from 2 games to 0 to win the Series have been the ’55 Dodgers and the ’56 Yankees.

October 11, 1980: In one of the most exciting and controversial games in playoff history‚ the Phillies tie the NLCS at 2 games apiece with a 10-inning 5-3 win over the Astros at the Astrodome. In the 4th inning‚ Houston is deprived of an apparent triple play when the umpires rule that pitcher Vern Ruhle had trapped Garry Maddox’s soft line drive. In the 6th‚ Houston loses a run when Gary Woods leaves the base early on Luis Pujols’ would-be sacrifice fly. (Luis, a future big-league manager, is no relation to Albert Pujols.)

October 11, 1981: The Yankees won the 1st 2 games of their strike-forced Playoff series for the AL East title in Milwaukee, but the Brewers, playing in their first postseason series (and the first by any Milwaukee team since the ’59 Braves), won the next 2 at Yankee Stadium, forcing a deciding Game 5.

This led to a postgame tirade by George Steinbrenner in the locker room, lambasting the players, telling them how they had let him down, and how they had let New York down. Trying to play peacemaker, Bobby Murcer said, “Now is not the time, George, now is not the time.” George insisted that it was the time, and continued to rant, until catcher Rick Cerone stood up and told The Boss, “Fuck you, George.” Stunned, George left the room.

So on this night, back-to-back home runs by Reggie Jackson and Oscar Gamble, and a later homer by, yes, Cerone give the Yanks a 7-3 victory over the Brewers, and the series. The Yanks will move on to face the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS. The Brewers, however, will be back.

On this same day, the Playoff for the NL East is won by Steve Rogers. No, not Captain America: This one doesn’t even work in America. Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos drives in 2 runs and shuts out the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Expos win, 3-0, in Game 5 of the series.  In 45 seasons of play, this remains the only postseason series ever won by the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise.

October 11, 1986: Former Detroit Tigers star Norm Cash dies when he slips off his boat in Lake Michigan, hits his head, and falls into the lake and drowns. One of the most beloved Tigers of all time, a former batting champion, a man who had slugged 377 home runs, and a member of their 1968 World Champions, he was only 51.

October 11, 1998: Game 5 of the ALCS at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, and feeling before the game was that the winner of this game would take the series. The Yankees once again take the early lead with a three-run 1st inning, but the Indians respond. A leadoff homer by Kenny Lofton and a sacrifice fly by Manny Ramírez make it a one-run game. Paul O’Neill singles home a run in the 2nd to make it 4–2 Yankees. Chili Davis homers in the fourth to put the Yankees ahead by three, but Jim Thome hits his 3rd homer of the series in the bottom of the 6th to make it a two-run game.

Chuck Knoblauch, still fighting for redemption after his Game 2 “brainlauch,” starts a key 4-6-3 double play in the 8th inning for the 2nd night in a row. David Wells, who claimed to have heard Indian fans insulting his dead mother all through the game, and the Yankee bullpen hold off any further Indians scoring, and the Yankees are one win away from the World Series, as the series goes back to The Bronx.

October 11, 2003, 10 years ago: Pedro Martinez commits 3 felonies: Assault with a deadly weapon on Karim Garcia, conspiracy to commit murder against Jorge Posada, and assault (and possibly attempted murder) on Don Zimmer. In spite of this, he is not arrested. The felonies, after all, occurred at Fenway Park, not Yankee Stadium. The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 3-2, Roger Clemens outpitching Martinez, and take a 2-games-to-1 lead in the ALCS.

October 11, 2004: The Houston Astros win a postseason series for the first time in their 43-season history, defeating the Braves‚ 12-3‚ to take their Division Series. Carlos Beltran is the hero for Houston with 4 hits‚ including 2 HRs‚ and 5 RBIs.

October 11, 2006: Cory Lidle, newly acquired by the Yankees as pitching help for the stretch drive and the postseason, dies when his single-engine plane crashes into an Upper East Side apartment high-rise.  He was 34.  Killed with him is his pilot instructor, Tyler Stanger.

That night, the Mets are scheduled to open the NLCS against the Cardinals at Shea Stadium, but the rain that falls shortly after Lidle’s crash gets the game postponed. It’s just as well. This, of course, is the only season since 1988 in which the Mets have been playing after the Yankees have been eliminated.

October 11, 2009: In the final baseball game to be played at the Metrodome, the Yankees advance to the the ALCS by defeating the host Twins, 4-1. A costly 8th inning baserunning blunder by Nick Punto ends Minnesota’s hopes of a comeback. Alex Rodriguez went 5-for-11 with 2 homers and six RBIs in the 3-game Division Series sweep.

Also on this day, Jonathan Papelbon, who had never given up a run in any of his previous 26 postseason innings, allows 2 inherited runners to score in the 8th, and yields another 3 runs in the 9th, giving the Los Angeles Angels, who trailed 5-1 going into the 6th inning, a 7-6 victory over the Red Sox. The Halos’ comeback victory — or, if you prefer, the Red Sox’ characteristic choke — at Fenway completes a 3-game sweep of ALDS over a team which historically had been their nemeses, having been eliminated from the Playoffs in their past 4 post-season encounters with Boston. The Angels will now face the Yankees for the Pennant.

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October 10 Has Been a VERY Eventful Day In Baseball History

October 10, 1871: Octavius Valentine Catto is murdered in Philadelphia.  He was an abolitionist and educator, and also an early black baseball player.  In 1867, his Philly-based Pythian Base Ball Club (the sport’s name was usually spelled as 2 words in the 19th Century) played its first season and went undefeated.  In 1869, in one of the first games between an all-black team and an all-white team, the Pythians defeated the Philadelphia City Items, a team sponsored by a newspaper.

October 10, 1871 was Election Day in Philadelphia.  Like most black men, Octavius Catto was a Republican, of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.  White Protestants were mainly English and Republican.  White Catholics were mainly Irish and Democratic.  Aside from the question of helping the poor and immigrants, it was then the Republicans who were the liberals and the Democrats who were the conservatives.  This was a long time ago.

Catto had been harassed on the way to voting, and, anticipating this, he had a gun on him.  So did Frank Kelly, a Democrat who, as far as I can determine, did not previously know Catto.  Kelly shot Catto 3 times at 9th & South Streets.

Kelly was acquitted of the murder.  Apparently, despite being a Northern city, in Philadelphia a white man could get away with murdering a black man.  Catto was just 32.

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October 10, 1893: Lipman “Lip” Pike dies of heart disease at age 48. He was one of the first baseball stars, a 2nd baseman despite being a lefthanded thrower. In 1866, playing for the first team to have the name “Philadelphia Athletics,” he was revealed to have been paid to play, making him (or so it once was thought) the first openly professional baseball player.

On June 14, 1870, he was a member of the Brooklyn Atlantics team that ended the 93-game winning streak of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first openly professional team, in what is often regarded as the first truly great game in the history of professional baseball.  (Yes, “openly” suggests that, until the Red Stockings, being paid to play sports was considered a deviant, perverse, repulsive lifestyle. Until the Red Stockings and others proved that “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”)

When the National League was founded in 1876, Lip Pike played for the St. Louis Brown Stockings (not to be confused with any later St. Louis baseball team), and this made him the first Jewish player in Major League Baseball. Although home runs were rare in those days, he did lead the National Association, the first professional league, in 1873 with the Baltimore Canaries, and the NL in 1877 with the Cincinnati Reds (not the team founded with that name in 1882 that is still around today).

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October 10, 1904: For the first time, and not for the last, an American League Pennant comes down to New York and Boston. The last day of the season features a doubleheader at Hilltop Park, at 165th Street & Broadway in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. The New York Highlanders, forerunners of the Yankees, need to sweep the Boston Pilgrims, forerunners of the Red Sox, in order to win. Otherwise, Boston will win it. Hilltop Park seats about 16,000, but there’s perhaps 30,000 jammed into the confines, including thousands of standees roped off in the massive outfield area.

Pitching the first game for the Highlanders is Jack Chesbro, who has already won 41 games, which remains the single-season record for pitching from 60 feet, 6 inches away. With the score 2-2 in the top of the 9th and Lou Criger on 3rd base, Chesbro throws a spitball – then a legal pitch – but it’s a wild pitch, going over the head of his catcher, Jim “Deacon” McGuire, and Criger scores the Pennant-winning run. The Yankees win the nightcap, 1-0, but it’s meaningless, as the Red Sox-to-be win the Pennant.

But, faced with the prospect of losing a postseason series not just to the champions of what they view as “an inferior league,” but to the other New York team, the National League Champion New York Giants refuse to participate in the World Series. The 1904 World Series is called off, and it will be 90 years before such a thing happens again – over a very different kind of stupidity, and a more egregious one at that.

Today, over a century later, the Red Sox organization does not claim a forfeit win and call themselves the 1904 World Champions, which would give them 8 World Championships as of the 2013 ALCS, rather than 7. But they might as well — after all, who can stop them, and how? The Giants, however, were so shamed in the press for chickening out that they agreed that they would participate in any future World Series – and they participated in 14 before moving to San Francisco, their total now 19. And yet, the plaque at Polo Grounds Towers lists the Giants as World Champions for 1904, as well as for 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954 — but not for 1888 and 1889, possibly because those titles were not won at that location, but rather at a different location with a facility called the Polo Grounds.

After 1904, the Pilgrims/Red Sox would win 4 more Pennants in the next 14 seasons. The Highlanders/Yankees would have to wait another 17 years before winning their 1st, but then, they would pretty much keep winning them for the next 43 years.

John Dwight Chesbro, a.k.a. Happy Jack, won 41 games that season, and 198 in his Hall of Fame career for the Pirates and the Yankees (and, for the very last game of his career, the North Adams, Massachusetts native came home and pitched and lost one for the Red Sox). Sadly, he is mainly remembered not for all the games he won, but for one he lost, basically for one bad pitch that he threw.  He died in 1931, age 57.

A shocking percentage of the 1904 Pilgrims died young, what with that being the pre-antibiotic era — although the man named Denton True Young, a.k.a. Cy Young, lived to be 87.  The last survivor of the 1904 Pilgrims, and the 1903 team that won the first World Series, was shortstop Freddy Parent, a New England native, from Biddeford, Maine, who lived on until 1972, at the age of 96.  The last surviving 1904 Highlander was 2nd baseman Jimmy Williams — no relation to later Red Sox manager Jimy Williams — who died in 1965.

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October 10, 1920: Perhaps the most eventful game in World Series history unfolds at League Park in Cleveland. In the bottom of the 1st, Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Burleigh Grimes – one of 17 pitchers who will soon be allowed to continue throwing the spitball because it was their “bread-and-butter pitch,” or what we would call today his “out pitch,” though the pitch will be outlawed for everyone else – gives up hits to Charlie Jamieson, Bill Wambsganss, and Indians center fielder/manager/legend Tris Speaker. Tribe outfielder Elmer Smith then hits the first grand slam in Series history.

In the 3rd‚ Jim Bagby comes up with 2 on, and crashes another Grimes delivery for a 3-run home run‚ the first ever by a pitcher in Series play. In the 5th, with Pete Kilduff on second and Otto Miller on first, Dodger reliever Clarence Mitchell hits a line drive at 2nd baseman Wambsganss. One out. “Wamby” takes a couple of steps and tages Kilduff before he can get back to 2nd base.  Two out. Then he tags the off-and-running Miller before he can see what’s happening and get back to 1st base. Three out. An unassisted triple play. And, 92 years later, this remains the only triple play in World Series history.

The Indians win, 8-1, and their 1st appearance in the World Series will soon be a successful one. But Wambsganss, suddenly nationally famous, will later lament that he had a pretty good career (and a case can be made that he was right), but that, for most people, he might as well have been born the day before this game and died the day after.  As it turns out, “Wamby” dies on December 8, 1985, in a suburb of Cleveland, where he’d lived all his life, making him 89 years old, and the last survivor of the Indians’ 1st World Championship team.

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October 10, 1923, 90 years ago: For the first time, the brand-new Yankee Stadium hosts a World Series game. The Yankees take a quick 3-0 lead over the 2-time defending champion Giants, but Heinie Groh triples in 2 runs in a 4-run 3rd that drives Waite Hoyt to cover. A 4-4 tie is broken in the top of the 9th by the Giants, when a blast by Giant outfielder Charles Dillon Stengel – yes, that Casey Stengel – rolls to the outfield wall. The sore-legged veteran hobbles around the bases, having lost a shoe while running, to score the winning run against reliever Bullet Joe Bush before 55‚307 spectators, a record for a Series game at the time.

This is also the first Series to be broadcast on a nationwide radio network. Graham McNamee‚ aided by baseball writers taking turns‚ is at the mike. Grantland Rice had broadcast an earlier World Series‚ but not nationally. Rice was on hand, though, and wrote a column about Stengel’s inside-the-park job, opening with the immortal words, “This is the way old Casey ran.” Old? The man who would one day be known as “the Ol’ Perfesser” wasn’t yet that old: He was 33, younger than a lot of great players, then and now.

October 10, 1924: With the score tied at 3-3 and one out in the bottom of the 12th in Game 7 of the World Series, Senators’ backstop Muddy Ruel lifts a high catchable foul pop-up which Giant catcher Hank Gowdy misses when he stumbles over his own mask. Given a second chance, Ruel doubles. Earl McNeely then hits a grounder that strikes a pebble, and soars over the head of rookie Giant 3rd baseman Freddie Lindstrom, and drives home Ruel with the winning run making the Senators World Champions.

Walter Johnson, who had brilliantly toiled 18 seasons for a team known as “Washington: First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League,” and had lost Games 1 and 4, pitched the 9th through 12th innings in relief, and not only had finally won a World Series game, but had won a World Series. The Senators had their first World Championship in 24 years of trying.  Outfielder George “Showboat” Fisher was the last survivor of the ’24 Senators, living until 1994, age 95.

In the 89 years since, no Washington baseball team has won another, with the Nationals blowing a golden opportunity to end the drought last year, by denying Stephen Strasburg the chance to pitch in the postseason.

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October 10, 1926: For the first time, Yankee Stadium hosts a Game 7 of the World Series. The Yankees trail the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning, but Cardinal starter Jesse Haines, a future Hall-of-Famer, develops a blister on his hand, and can’t pitch any further.

Rogers Hornsby, the great-hitting 2nd baseman who doubles as the Cardinal manager, brings in another future HOFer, Grover Cleveland Alexander. Old Alex (also nicknamed “Pete”) had pitched and won Game 6 yesterday, but celebrated afterward, and legend has it that he was really hungover. Even if he wasn’t, he had gone the distance the day before. And he was 39, and an alcoholic, and also suffered from epilepsy, and was troubled by what he had seen in World War I (which, along with his epilepsy, he tried to treat with his drinking.) One of the greatest pitchers of all time, and he would retire with a total of 373 victories, tied for 3rd all-time with Christy Mathewson (sharing 1st all-time in National League wins, as Walter Johnson’s 417 were all in the American League and Cy Young’s 511 were split between both Leagues), but he was now a shadow of his former self.

And he comes in with a one-run lead, the bases loaded, and a dangerous hitter at the plate, Tony Lazzeri. Although just a rookie at the major-league level, Lazzeri had hit 60 home runs in a Pacific Coast League season, and would have been Rookie of the Year had the award existed in 1926.

Lazzeri hits a long drive down the left-field line, but just foul. That brings the count to 0-and-2. Alexander fires in, and Lazzeri strikes out. It is the most famous strikeout in baseball history, and according to legend, it ended the World Series, turning Alexander into a bigger hero than ever.

Except it didn’t end the game. There were 2 more innings to play. Alexander got through the 8th, and with 1 out to go in the 9th, he walked Babe Ruth. Then, for reasons known only to him – Yankee manager Miller Huggins said he hadn’t given him the signal to try – the Babe tried to steal 2nd base. Catcher Bob O’Farrell threw in, and Hornsby slapped the tag on him. The Babe was out, the game was over, and for the first time in 40 years – since the Cardinals, then known as the Browns, won the 1886 American Association Pennant and defeated the Chicago team now known as the Cubs in a postseason series – a St. Louis baseball team was World Champions.

This was also the first time the Yankees had played a Game 7 of a World Series, and they lost it. Actually, the Yankees’ record in World Series Game 7s isn’t especially good. They’ve won in 1947, 1952, 1956, 1958 and 1962; they’ve lost in 1926, 1955, 1957, 1960, 1964 and 2001, for a record of 5-6. At home at the old Yankee Stadium, it was even worse: 1-3. But they’ve still won more World Series in a Game 7 than all but 6 franchises have won Series regardless of how long they’ve gone – and the number drops to 4 if you only count the Series they’ve won in their current cities.

Alexander was a hero all over again, true, but it was a last stand. He helped the Cards back into the World Series in 1928, but this time the Yankees knocked him around. He spent much of his retirement trading his story of how he struck out Lazzeri for drinks. In 1945, interviewed for John P. Carmichael’s book My Greatest Day In Baseball, he told of meeting Lazzeri on the street in New York, and telling him, “Tony, I’m getting tired of fanning you.” And Lazzeri told him, “Perhaps you think I’m not.” Alexander’s health problems killed him in 1950, aged only 63.

Incredibly, he outlived Lazzeri. Lazzeri would rebound from this strikeout to help the Yankees win 5 World Series, bridging the 1920s Ruth-Gehrig Yankees to the 1930s Gehrig-DiMaggio Yankees. But he, too, had epilepsy. In 1946, he suffered a seizure at his home, fell down the stairs, and broke his neck. He was just 43. And, unlike Alexander, he did not live long enough to see his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was finally elected in 1991, 53 years after Alexander was so honored. Sadly, for all each man did, each had a hard life, and each is still best remembered for that one at-bat.

The last survivor from the 1926 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals was infielder George “Specs” Toporcer — so nicknamed because he was one of the few players to wear glasses on the field in that era — a Manhattan native who died in 1989 on Long Island, age 90.

*

October 10, 1930: Joe McCarthy, who had managed the Chicago Cubs to the 1929 National League Pennant, but was fired after a clash with management a few days ago, is hired to manage the New York Yankees. It will prove to be the greatest managerial hiring baseball has yet seen, as he will lead the Yanks to 8 Pennants and 7 World Championships. In other words, all by himself, McCarthy will have led the Yanks to more Pennants than all but 7 teams have won to this day (if you count combined city totals, all but 10), and more World Series than all but 2 (if you count combined city totals, all but 3).

October 10, 1931: With John “Pepper” Martin tying a World Series record with 12 hits, the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-2 in Game 7, and take the Series, denying the A’s the chance to become the first team to win 3 straight Series.

Burleigh Grimes, as I mentioned the last pitcher legally allowed to throw a spitball, and still very much at it 11 years after that epic game in Cleveland, had a shutout going in the 9th, but tired, and Cardinal manager Gabby Street had to call on Bill Hallahan to nail down the win. “Wild Bill” did not live up to his nickname, and finished the A’s off. The A’s would not win another Pennant for 41 years, and that would only come after moving twice. By that point, the Cards would have won another 8 Pennants.

Infielder Ray Cunningham, who played just 3 games that season and not at all in the Series, plus 11 more games the next season before fading, was the last survivor of the 1931 World Champion Cardinals, dying in 2005, age 100.

October 10, 1937: The Yankees defeat the Giants, 4-2 in Game 5 at the Polo Grounds, and win their 2nd straight World Series, their 6th overall. This moves them past the Giants and the A’s to become the team with the most Series won. They have never seriously been threatened as such.

As for the Giants, here is a team that had Hall-of-Famers in Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell and player-manager Bill Terry, and had won their 3rd Pennant in the last 5 seasons, but had only won the Series in one of them, and has only won one since. So not only did the club not get the credit it deserved at the time, but the franchise has never really been the same, either.

The last survivor of the 1937 Yankees was Tommy Henrich, who died in 2009, at the age of 96.  He was also the last survivor of the Yankee World Championship teams of 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941.

October 10, 1945: The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs, 9-3 at Wrigley Field, to win Game 7 and the World Series. Hal Newhouser, the American League’s Most Valuable Player this year and last, strikes out 10. Bloomfield, New Jersey native Hank Borowy, who had helped the Yankees win the ’43 Series and had already won 20 games in the regular season and 2 in this Series, is exhausted, and gives up 6 runs in the 1st inning.

With several players still in the service, this game marks the end of the World War II era in baseball. This also remains, 67 years later — two-thirds of a century — the last World Series game the Chicago Cubs have ever played.  Left fielder Ed Mierkowicz is the last survivor from the ’45 Tigers, with pitchers Virgil Trucks and Les Mueller both having died within the last year; Andy Pafko, later to win Pennants with the Brooklyn Dodgers and a World Series with the Milwaukee Braves, was the last surviving Cub to have played in any World Series, having died just 2 days ago.

*

October 10, 1946: John Prine is born in Maywood, Illinois, outside Chicago. As far as I know, he has nothing to do with sports, and I only know one of his songs, but it should have been written decades earlier, as a memo to Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix and so many others:

There oughta be a law, with no bail:
Smash a guitar and you go to jail.
With no chance for early parole.
You don’t get out ‘til you get some soul.
It breaks my heart to see these stars
smashing a perfectly good guitar.
I don’t know who they think they are
smashing a perfectly good guitar.

*

October 10, 1948: The largest crowd ever to attend a World Series game, 86,288 fans, jams into Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium to witness a showdown between two future Hall-of-Famers. Braves’ southpaw Warren Spahn beats Bob Feller and the Indians in Game 5 of the Fall Classic, 11-5.

This remains the largest crowd ever to attend a single game that counts in an American League stadium — the Indians and Yankees would get 86,563 for a 1954 doubleheader, and the Dodgers would cram over 92,000 into the Los Angeles Coliseum for 3 games of the ’59 Series — and the last postseason game ever won by the Boston franchise of the National League. When they win another, 9 years later, they will be the Milwaukee Braves.  No Boston baseball team will win a World Series game again for 19 years.

*

October 10, 1950: Charles Frederick George is born. A true “local boy made good,” he was born and grew up in the Islington section of North London, standing on the North Bank of the Arsenal Stadium (a.k.a. “Highbury,” after the neighborhood), supporting the Arsenal Football Club (soccer team).

In 1966, he was an apprentice carpenter, and helped build the ring at Highbury for the fight between Muhammad Ali and Henry Cooper.  Three years earlier, across town at Wembley Stadium, the rising Ali, still named Cassius Clay, fought Cooper, the Heavyweight Champion of Europe, and Cooper knocked him down in the 4th round, and appeared to be about to win the fight.  But Clay recovered and knocked him out in the very next round.  In On May 21, 1966, they fought again, this time for the Heavyweight Championship of the World,  Lee Marvin and football star Jim Brown, in London to film The Dirty Dozen, were on hand to see Ali knock Cooper out again, with considerably less difficulty.

By that point, Charlie George had been signed as a forward by Arsenal in 1966, to reach the first team in 1968, and to be a regular by 1970. He helped Arsenal win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the precursor of today’s Europa League) in 1970, the club’s first trophy of any kind in 17 years.

As author and Arsenal fan Nick Hornby put it in Fever Pitch, the next season, 1970-71, was Arsenal’s annus mirabilis: Despite an early-season injury, George became a key cog in the Arsenal side that won the Football League for the first time in 18 years. Then he scored the winner in extra time to beat Liverpool for the FA Cup (Football Association Cup), England’s national championship, drilling a 20-yard drive past Ray Clemence to give Arsenal a 2-1 win to clinch “The Double.”

George’s celebration, lying on the ground at Wembley Stadium, with his soon-to-be-iconic long hair, reminded fans of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which had recently debuted in London’s West End, giving rise to the title song being reworked as, “Charlie George, superstar, how many goals have you scored so far?” But opposing fans, seeing the hair, tried it another way: “Charlie George, superstar, looks like a woman and he wears a bra!” But Arsenal fans had the last laugh, singing, to the tune of “The First Noel,” “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie! Born is the King of Highbury!”

He would continue to play for Arsenal until a 1975 falling-out with manager Bertie Mee, and even briefly played in America with the Minnesota Kicks of the North American Soccer League in 1978. Today he again works for Arsenal, as a tour guide at Highbury’s replacement, the Emirates Stadium.

*

October 10, 1951: The Yankees defeat the New York Giants, 4-3 in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, and win their 3rd straight World Series, their 14th World Championship.  This is twice as many as the Boston Red Sox have now, 62 years later. The Giants had taken 2 of the first 3 games in this Series, but the Yanks had taken 3 straight to win.

In the bottom of the 8th, Joe DiMaggio had laced a double to left-center off Larry Jansen. It turned out to be the last hit of his career, as he announced his retirement 2 months later.  His intended center field successor, Mickey Mantle, had gotten hurt in right field in Game 2, and missed the rest of the Series, and the knee he injured would never be the same again, the beginning of a cloud over his career that would only grow. The “other” great rookie center fielder, Willie Mays of the Giants, had a poor Series, and would spend most of the next two years in the Army in the Korean War. But both Mantle and Mays would be back, and would resume building their legends.

Four Yankees still survive from the ’51 title: Yogi Berra, Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, and the pitcher who closed out this clincher and Game 7 in 1952, Bob Kuzava.  Whitey Ford is still alive, but spent the ’51 and ’52 seasons in the U.S. Army, due to the Korean War.

*

October 10, 1956: Game 7 at Ebbets Field. A pair of Jersey boys start: Johnny Kucks of Hoboken, Hudson County, for the Yankees; Don Newcombe of Jefferson Township, Morris County, for the Dodgers. The New York Post’s headline reads:

Kucks vs. Newk and…
THERE’S
NO
TOMORROW

The Post is right: Win or lose, this is it for one of the best seasons in New York baseball history, as the Yankees had Mantle’s Triple Crown & MVP season; the Dodgers had a fantastic Pennant race, over the Reds, Cardinals and Braves, edging the Braves by 1 game, a season highlighted by no-hitters from Carl Erskine and former Giant nemesis Sal Maglie; and the World Series had Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 and a 1-0 10-inning Dodger win in Game 6.  This is Game 7.  This is it.

The Yankees turn out to be “it”: They shell Newk, with 2 homers from Yogi and a grand slam from Bill “Moose” Skowron. Kucks pitches a shutout, and the Yankees win, 9-0.  The Dodgers had been World Champions of baseball for 372 days.

The last out turns out to be the last play in the career of Jackie Robinson: He strikes out swinging, but Yogi drops the ball, a flash of the Mickey Owen & Tommy Henrich play 15 years earlier.  His weight up and his speed down, but his instincts as keen as ever, Robinson sees what’s happening and runs to 1st base. But, as I said, his great speed is gone, and Yogi throws him out.  Jackie retires 2 months later.

What no one knows at the time — not Robinson, not even Dodger owner Walter O’Malley — is the extent of the finality of this game. It is not just the end of a terrific baseball season. It is the last Subway Series game for 44 years — 33 years if you count the 1989 “BART Series.” It is the last home game in a World Series for a National League team from New York for 13 years. And it is the last postseason game that Ebbets Field, or Brooklyn, will ever host. The next season, the Giants will announce they are moving to San Francisco, and the Dodgers will announce they are moving to Los Angeles. “There’s no tomorrow,” indeed.

*

October 10, 1957: The Milwaukee Braves win the World Series, with Lew Burdette, on 2 days rest, winning his 3rd game of the Series, a 5-0 shutout of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in Game 7.  The 30-year-old right-hander, named the Series MVP, tosses 24 consecutive scoreless innings and posts a 0.64 ERA in his three Fall classic victories.

At the time, the Yankees were criticized for having traded Burdette to the Braves in 1951 (the Braves then in Boston) for All-Star pitcher Johnny Sain.  However, Sain helped the Yankees win 3 World Series; the Braves won just 1 with Burdette — the only World Series the franchise won between 1914 (in Boston) and 1995 (in Atlanta).

This is the first World Championship for the Braves since the “Miracle Braves” in Boston 43 years earlier. To this day, 55 years later, no Milwaukee team has ever won another World Series. In fact, the only other World Championship won by a Milwaukee team is the NBA Title won by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971. Unless, of course, you count the 13 NFL Championships won by the Green Bay Packers – and Lambeau Field is 117 miles from downtown Milwaukee.

October 10, 1959: Bradley Whitford is born in Madison, Wisconsin. Not to be confused with the Aerosmith guitarist of the same name, this guy was a “character actor” – one of those guys whose name you couldn’t quite remember, so you called him, “Oh yeahhhh… Him!” Then he began to play White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman on The West Wing.

Josh, a native of Westport, Connecticut, was a great character, a devoted public servant, and a hard but fair fighter. He had one flaw: He was a Mets fan. In a 2001 episode titled “The Stackhouse Filibuster,” he mentioned that he wanted to fly down to Florida to see a spring-training game, and hoped to get a “Hey, dude” from Met catcher Mike Piazza. I don’t know who Whitford roots for in real life.

October 10, 1962: Tom Tresh belts an eighth-inning homer off Jack Sanford to give the Yankees a 5-3 comeback win over the Giants in Game 5 of the World Series, at the original Yankee Stadium.  The rookie shortstop’s dad, Mike Tresh, who hit only two home runs in his 12 big league seasons, prior to the at bat left his seat behind home plate, to bring his son good luck.

*

October 10, 1964: The Yankees and Cardinals are tied 1-1 in Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, going into the bottom of the 9th. Barney Schultz, a knuckleballer, comes on to relieve for the Cardinals. In the on-deck circle, Mickey Mantle watches Schultz warm up, times Schultz’s knuckler in his head, and says to Elston Howard, standing there with him, “You can go back to the clubhouse, Elston. This game is over.”

Schultz threw Mantle one pitch. Mickey deposited it in the upper deck in right field. Yankees 2, Cardinals 1 – which was also now the Yankees’ lead in the Series. It was Mickey’s 16th home run in World Series play, surpassing the record he shared with Babe Ruth. He would hit a 17th in Game 6 and an 18th in Game 7, but the Cards would come back and win the Series. Still, Mickey would often speak of this homer, his only walkoff homer in postseason play, as the highlight of his career.

Whether Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series is still debated, but Mickey sure called his shot here. He was asked how many others he called. “Well, I called my shot about 500 times,” he would say with a laugh. “This was about the only one that worked.”

*

October 10, 1966: Another great day for The Arsenal, although it’s not yet obvious that even the 1950 entry has made it so: Tony Alexander Adams is born in the Romford section of East London. The centre-back was the greatest Captain in the club’s history, helping them win League titles in 1989, ’91, ’98 and 2002, and the FA Cup in ’93, ’98 and ‘02. There’s only one Tony Adams, and his statue now stands outside the Emirates Stadium.

October 10, 1968: Mickey Lolich wins his 3rd game of the Series – matching Harry Brecheen as the only lefthander ever to do it thus far – and the Detroit Tigers win their first World Series in 23 years (to the day), beating the indomitable Bob Gibson and the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7, 4-1 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Jim Northrup’s triple over the normally sure-fielding Curt Flood makes the difference.

After the race riot and near-miss for the Pennant in 1967, and after 16 years without a Pennant for their legendary star Al Kaline, Detroit needed this World Championship very badly. With Kaline, Lolich, Northrup and Willie Horton being the stars of the Tigers’ comeback from 3-games-to-1 down, the ’68 Tigers remain the most beloved team in the history of Michigan sports.

Lolich, who would retire with 217 wins and as the all-time strikeout leader among lefthanders with 2,832, was criticized for being fat. He was the original “hefty lefty.” He was 6 feet even, and is usually listed as having been 210 pounds. Seriously, that was considered fat for a pitcher in 1968. Paging David Wells. Paging CC Sabathia.

October 10, 1969: Brett Lorenzo Favre is born in Gulfport, Mississippi. Seriously, he’s only 44? He seems a lot older. Well, that’s what happens when you retire 3 times and you end up requiring a 4th (at least). What should we get him for his birthday? How about something he’s not used to having: A clue!

October 10, 1973, 40 years ago: As Vice President Spiro Agnew is pleading no contest to income-tax evasion and resigning his office, Tom Seaver holds off the Reds, the Mets win, 5-2, and the fans storm the field at Shea Stadium to celebrate the Mets’ 2nd Pennant in 5 seasons.

October 10, 1975: Placido Polanco is born in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.  The 2nd baseman helped the Detroit Tigers win the 2006 American League Pennant, but was also a part of their 2009 collapse.  He now plays for the Miami Marlins.

October 10, 1976: Patrick Brian Burrell is born in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He helped the Philadelphia Phillies win the 2008 World Series, then signed as a free agent with the team the Phils beat in said Series, the Tampa Bay Rays.  “Pat the Bat” (a nickname he hated, though he liked his other nickname, “Met Killer”) won another ring with the 2010 Giants, retired after the 2011 season, and now works in the Giants’ front office.

October 10, 1980: After 3 failed attempts, the 4th time is the charm for the Kansas City Royals. George Brett’s mammoth home run off Goose Gossage gives the Royals a 4-2 win and a sweep of the American League Championship Series, for the first major league Pennant for a Kansas City team – the first Pennant won by any KC team since the Blues won the American Association Pennant in 1953. It is one of the most humiliating series in Yankee history.

October 10, 1982: The Milwaukee Brewers win their first Pennant, the first by any Milwaukee team since the ’58 Braves, beating the California Angels, 4-3 at Milwaukee County Stadium — and on the 25th Anniversary of the Braves’ World Series win, no less. The Angels had blown a 2-games-to-none lead. In their first World Series, the Brewers will play the St. Louis Cardinals, who win their Pennant in 14 years today by beating the Atlanta Braves.

October 10, 1984: Troy Trevor Tulowitzki is born in Santa Clara, California.  With a 3-T name like that, he should have been nicknamed “3T” or “T3” or “Trey.” Instead, he’s “Tulo.” In 2007, the shortstop pulled an unassisted triple play, helped the Colorado Rockies win their first postseason series and their first National League Pennant, and was named NL Rookie of the Year. He had them back in the Playoffs in 2009.

*

October 10, 1987: Princeton University beats Columbia University, 39-8 at Palmer Stadium in Princeton, New Jersey. Columbia thus loses their 35th straight game, a new record for Division I college football. They would extend the record to 44 the next year, before beating, of all teams, Princeton. But Prairie View A&M, a historically black school outside Houston, would double the disaster: 88 games. The old record, still the Division I-A record, is 34, by Northwestern, which ended in 1982.

I was at the 1987 Princeton-Columbia game, and there was a small contingent of Northwestern fans at the top of the east side of the Palmer Stadium horseshoe, holding up a banner reading, “THANK YOU COLUMBIA.” I sat on the west side, and saw Princeton’s last touchdown scored on an interception by a safety, wearing Number 11, who was so fast, he looked like he was flying. Just 6 years later, he would be flying. His name was Dean Cain, and from 1993 to 1997, he starred with Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

By a weird coincidence, the recent movie Superman, Christopher Reeve, grew up in Princeton, and graduated from Princeton Day School and was accepted at Princeton University, but chose another Ivy League school, Cornell in Western New York. Cain, who dated Brooke Shields while they both attended Princeton, grew up in Malibu, California, attending Santa Monica High School with acting brothers Rob and Chad Lowe, and Charlie Sheen (but not Charlie’s older brother Emilio Estevez).

*
October 10, 1990: The Oakland Athletics win their 3rd straight Pennant, the first team since the 1976-78 Yankees to do so, beating the Red Sox, 3-1 at the Oakland Coliseum. Red Sox starter Roger Clemens is ejected after arguing with plate umpire Terry Cooney over a ball-four call in the 2nd inning. He remains the last player to be thrown out of a postseason game. Funny, but, at the time, nobody suspected “roid rage.”

October 10, 1998: El Duque to the rescue. Having pitched for the 2 most demanding bosses in the Western Hemisphere, George Steinbrenner and Fidel Castro, no way was a little bit of Cleveland cold going to stop Orlando Hernandez. He pitches a 4-hit shutout (with 1 inning of help each from Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera), and the Yankees win, 4-0, and tie up the ALCS at 2 games apiece. Chuck Knoblauch, whose “brainlauch” in Game 2 put the Yankees on a minor slide, starts a key 4-6-3 double play in the 8th to eliminate the last Indian threat. He is on his way to redemption.

*

October 10, 2004: Ken Caminiti dies of a drug overdose, after injuries (related to his steroid use) had ended his career in 2001. The 1996 NL MVP was 43.

Also dying on this day was actor Christopher Reeve, from complications from his 1995 horseback-riding accident and subsequent paralysis.  He was 52.

In 2002, I was at Yankee Stadium for one of the Yankee-Met Interleague games, and waited for the players to arrive, when a van pulled up at the media entrance. Suddenly, somebody yelled out, “It’s Superman! It’s Superman!” Not seeing Derek Jeter anywhere, I became confused. Then I stood on my toes and saw… Chris Reeve, in his motorized wheelchair, having been lowered out of his handicap-access van.

He was completely bald, his head probably shaven to alleviate what the headpiece of his chair was doing to his hair, and (I hate to say this) he looked more like Superman’s arch-enemy Lex Luthor than the Man of Steel himself. But, even though he couldn’t turn his head to see us, and had to work hard just to breathe air into the tube that operated the chair, he still had more charisma than most of us will ever have. And, apparently, the native of Princeton was a Yankee Fan. Well, of course: He knew heroes when he saw them.

It had been 15 years since he last put on the Superman costume for a movie (and 23 years since he did so for a good one), but, to those of us who were kids when he made those movies, he will forever be Superman – with all due respect to Bud Collyer, Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill.

In the days after Reeve’s death, a cartoon would appear in the New York Daily News, showing an empty wheelchair, and Superman flying away from it.

*

October 10, 2005: The Los Angeles Angels of Katella Boulevard, Anaheim, Orange County, California, U.S.A., North America, Western Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Sol System, United Federation of Planets, Milky Way Galaxy, Known Universe, beat the Yankees‚ 5-3‚ to win their Division Series in 5 games. Rookie Ervin Santana gets the win in relief of Bartolo Colon. Garret Anderson homers for L.A., while Derek Jeter connects for the Yanks.

It is a humiliating defeat for the Yankees, who lose to the Angels in a Division Series for the 2nd time in 4 years. Naturally, I blamed Alex Rodriguez. And Randy Johnson. But, the truth is, just about nobody did a good job for the Yankees in this series. It took until the 2009 ALCS for the Yankees to beat the Angels in a postseason series.

October 10, 2009: For the first time, a postseason MLB game is postponed due to winter conditions.  Game 3 of the NLDS between the Phillies and Rockies at Coors Field is pushed back not so much due to the 2 inches of snow that fell on Denver, but to the 17-degree cold and the ice on the local streets.

October 10, 2010: With their 3-2 victory over the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS series at Turner Field, the Giants advance to the National League Championship Series to play the Philadelphia Phillies. After the last out of the game, the Giants players come onto the field to salute the opposing manager, Bobby Cox, who has announced his retirement and just managed his last game after 29 years of managing for the Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays.

MLB Playoffs: Deserve’s Got Everything to Do With It

Here are the teams in the 2013 Major League Baseball Playoffs, ranked by how much they deserve to win the World Series.

In my opinion.  Which you clearly care about, since you’re reading this.

10. Boston Red Sox.  You know the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Well, it’s time to ask the Red Sox, “When did you stop taking performance enhancing-drugs?” My guess is that the answer is “Never, we just know how to beat the system better now.”

9. Los Angeles Dodgers.  They would be dead last if not for the presence of The Scum.  Never forget the Treason of ’57.  Also, I need to know that there was a real reason that the Yankees didn’t win the Pennant from 1982 to 1995, and again from 2004 to 2007.  Especially since the Dodgers and their manager rebounded tremendously (and without their best player, the injured Matt Kemp) since I wrote this in June.

8. Atlanta Braves.  They haven’t won a Pennant since 1999 or a World Series in 1995.  They are baseball’s great underachievers.  What’s more, their fans are mostly Southern redneck Teabaggers who cheered when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 got gutted by the Supreme Court.

7. Tampa Bay Rays.  Maybe the team deserves it.  The fans don’t.  They averaged 18,645 per game.  Dead last.  And 54.7 percent of stadium capacity.  To put it in perspective: Across the State of Florida, the Miami Marlins averaged 9,000 more fans per game — and they won 30 fewer games than the Rays, and the fans knew it was going to be an awful season.  So why didn’t the Rays’ fans, who are now used to a winner, come out? It can’t just be the fact that they have the most ridiculous stadium in MLB.  (Maybe not the worst — more on that in a moment — but definitely the most ridiculous.)

6. St. Louis Cardinals.  Won the Series in 2006 and 2011, got to the NLCS last year, and won another Pennant in 2004.  They don’t need this.  Although they would like to prove they can win a Pennant without Albert Pujols, something they haven’t done since 1987.

5. Oakland Athletics.  I wouldn’t object much to them winning, and it would give the San Francisco Bay Area 3 of the last 4 World Championships.  Plus, they haven’t won a postseason series since 2006, and only that one since 1990, their last Pennant.  They haven’t won a World Series since 1989.  On the other hand, they’re trying to blackmail the taxpayers to get the Oakland Coliseum replaced, and it may just be the worst stadium in the majors.  (As opposed to from 1968 to 1999, when they had the best stadium in the Bay Area, as the Giants were playing in Candlestick Park.) And if the A’s do win a Pennant, we’ll once again have to hear that Billy Beane is a genius.  If you’ve been a team’s general manager for 16 seasons and you haven’t won a Pennant, not only are you not a genius, but you probably should have been fired about 6 years ago.

4. Cincinnati Reds.  They haven’t won a World Series or a Pennant since 1990, or a postseason series since 1995, and they’re a great baseball town.  But they hired Dusty Baker as manager.  They did not learn the lesson — and by now, they should have — that Dusty is a great regular season manager, but he can’t win in the postseason.

3. Detroit Tigers.  They won the Pennant last year, reached the ALCS the year before, and won the Pennant in 2006 — but had to beat the Yankees all 3 times to do it, so that’s a mark against them.  On the other hand, they play the game the right way (as far as I can tell).  And Detroit, really the entire State of Michigan, needs this, as they’re stuck with an economy that still hasn’t recovered from the batterings they took in the recession of the mid-1970s, let alone the ones since, hindered by their Teabag Governor Rick Snyder.  And the Tigers haven’t won a World Series since 1984.  I have no problem with them winning it.

2. Cleveland Indians.  A surprise Wild Card team, having been terrible after their near-miss for the Pennant in 2007.  They haven’t won a Pennant since 1997, or a World Series since 1948, 2nd-longest among current teams behind the Chicago Cubs, and 2nd-longest among current cities behind Washington (which didn’t even have a team from 1972 to 2004).  What else does Northern Ohio have to cheer for? The Cavaliers stink.  Ohio State isn’t all that close to Cleveland, and they’re still under the Jim Tressel cloud anyway.  There’s no hockey team.  The Browns have improved, but the fans will need a few more weeks before they can take that seriously.  (They’re sure enjoying the bad start by the Steelers, though.) The Cleveland market needs this.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates.  They hadn’t reached the postseason since 1992, and having won a postseason series, let alone a Pennant or a World Series, since 1979.  And with the Steelers getting off to an 0-4 start, and the Penguins putting goalie Tomas Vokoun on injured reserve, Western Pennsylvania really needs a winner.  Downside? The only one I can see is that people who hate the Yankees will bring up the “payroll” argument again, plus reminding us that the Bucs have A.J. Burnett, Russell Martin and — ugh — Kyle Farnsworth.  Well, so what.

Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland is a big rivalry in football, but it’s not even possible in the NBA (Pittsburgh doesn’t have a team in it) or the NHL (Cleveland doesn’t, and Pittsburgh vs. Columbus is not a substitute).  I wonder what a Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland World Series would be like.  It’s never happened — indeed, only once has it even come close, in 1908, when both teams finished just a game out of 1st.