Happy Aaron Boone Day!

What were you doing, and where were you doing it, 10 years ago today, October 16, 2003?

It was the night of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens. In his first game at Yankee Stadium since he tried to kill Don Zimmer, Pedro gets the hell booed out of him – and that’s a lot of hell. But the Sox take a 4-0 lead over the Yankees in the 4th, before Joe Torre lifts Clemens and brings in Mike Mussina. Making the first relief appearance of his career, Mussina stops the bleeding.

Jason Giambi hits 2 home runs to make it 4-2 in the 7th, but David Ortiz – not for the first time, and certainly not for the last (cough-steroids-cough) – hurts the Yankees by blasting a home run off David Wells. It’s 5-2 Yankees, and although I’m not much of a lip-reader, Wells appears to be yelling, “Fuuuuuuuuck!”

Pedro gets the first out in the bottom of the 8th, but then… Derek Jeter doubles. Then Bernie Williams singles, scoring Jeter to make it 5-3. Pedro is over the 100-pitch mark. From pitches 1 through 99, he throws like Sandy Koufax; from pitch 100 onward, he throws like Sandy Duncan. Red Sox manager Grady Little goes to the mound to remove Pedro…

No! He leaves him in! We got the headhunting son of a bitch!

Hideki Matsui hits a ground-rule double down the right-field line, moving Bernie to third. Well, now, for sure, Little has to pull Pedro. No, he stays in the dugout. He’s sticking with Pedro come hell, high water, mystique or aura.

Jorge Posada, the man that Pedro the Punk threatened with a fastball to the head in Game 3, hits a looper into short center, scoring the tying runs.

Just 5 outs from the Pennant, and the greatest victory the Red Sox would have since, oh, 1918, they have choked again.

Mariano Rivera pitches the 9th, 10th and 11th for the Yankees. He pitches the top of the 11th pretty much on courage alone. The Yankees need to win it in the bottom of the 11th, because the bullpen situation doesn’t look good.

Tim Wakefield, the knuckleballer who won Games 1 and 4 of this series, is on the mound. Leading off the inning is Aaron Boone, the Yankee 3rd baseman.

You know where I was at this moment? I was going from place to place watching the game, and I decided to get on the Subway and head up to The Stadium. Win or lose, I felt I had to be there. But the Subway was crawling, seeming to take forever. I forgot that it was after midnight. Frustrated, I got off at the 50th Street station of the A train.

Next thing I know, I’m standing in front of 220 West 48th Street, the Longacre Theatre. Do you know who built (in 1912) and owned this theater? Harry Frazee. The very man who broke up the Red Sox and sold off so many of their players to the Yankees, including Babe Ruth. What a place to be standing in as the Yankees and Red Sox battled for the Pennant.

In 1935, Clifford Odets’ play Waiting for Lefty debuted at the Longacre. Sox fans were still waiting for Alan Embree, the lefty that Little refused to bring in for Pedro.

It was 12:16 AM, actually October 17, 2003, but since the game started on the 16th, it goes down in history as October 16.
I had my headphones on, and on WCBS 880, I heard Charley Steiner say this:

“There’s a fly ball, deep to left! It’s on its way! There it goes! And the Yankees are going to the World Series! Aaron Boone has hit a home run! The Yankees go to the World Series for the 39th time in their remarkable history! Aaron Boone down the left field line, they are waiting for him at home plate, and now he dives into the scrum! The Yankees win it, 6-5!”

Together, Steiner and John Sterling yell Sterling’s tagline: “Ballgame over! American League Championship Series over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!” Steiner: “I’ve always wanted to say that!”

 

The Longacre is at the northern end of Times Square. It sounded like a million car horns went off at once. People poured out of the restaurants and bars in the Square. People were slapping each other on the back, giving high five after high five.
 

By the time I finally got home at around 2 in the morning, my hair was soaked with sweat, my eyes were aching from being up too late, my voice was shot from screaming, my hands throbbed from shaking and high-fiving, my legs and feet throbbed from all the walking.

I’ve never felt better in my life.

Boone joined Tommy Henrich (1949 World Series vs. Brooklyn Dodgers), Mickey Mantle (1964 WS vs. St. Louis Cardinals), Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS vs. Kansas City Royals), Jim Leyritz (1995 AL Division Series vs. Seattle Mariners) and Bernie Williams (Game 1 of ALCS in both 1996 and 1999) as Yankees who have hit walkoff home runs in postseason play.  And he joined Enos Slaughter (1946 Cardinals), Lou Boudreau (1948 Cleveland Indians), Bob Gibson (1967 Cardinals), Joe Morgan (1975 Cincinnati Reds), and, collectively, the 1978 Yankees (especially Bucky Dent) and the 1986 Mets as Red Sox postseason tormentors.

Jeter said, “We’ve got some ghosts in this Stadium.”

Fortunately, they made the trip across the street.

Clemens, Wells, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre walk out to the Babe Ruth Monument, and offer the Big Fella some champagne. Clemens slaps the plaque on the tablet, and says, “He’s smiling! He’s smiling! He’s smiling, Mel!”

Grady Little was not smiling. He was fired as Sox manager within days.

The next day’s Daily News headline read, “THE CURSE LIVES.” For the Sox… once again, it was “Wait Till Next Year.”

No, no. Really. They meant it this time.

Has it really been 10 years? Wow. Only 1 player is still with the Yankees: Derek Jeter.  Still with the Red Sox: Only David Ortiz.

Boone got hurt in the off-season, leading the Yankees to trade for Alex Rodriguez. Injuries and a heart ailment ended his career after the 2009 regular season, after which he was an analyst on Fox’ postseason broadcasts as the Yankees won their first Pennant since his walkoff. He now works for ESPN.

A descendant of early American hero Daniel Boone, he is the grandson of 1950s major leaguer Ray Boone, the son of 1970s Phillies catcher Bob Boone, the brother of 1990s-2000s big-leaguer Bret Boone, the husband of Playboy’s Miss October 1998 Laura Cover), and the father of 2 children, neither of whom is anywhere near old enough to make the Boones MLB’s first 4-generation family. The David Bells — Gus, Buddy and David — didn’t beat them to being the first 3-generation, but 4-generation is still up in the air.

A lot can change in ten years.  We now have a black President, Twitter, YouTube, the Kardashians on TV, Snooki, NCIS, Castle, and Kevin Youkilis has become a Red Sock and a Yankee.

And we have seen the Red Sox win 2 World Series, breaking the Curse of the Bambino — and we have seen them exposed as dirty rotten cheaters, and continue to lie about it, meaning we can no longer chant, “NINE-teen-EIGHT-teen! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap),” but we can still write 1918*.

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Happy Chris Chambliss Day!

October 14, 1976: For the first time in 12 years, the Yankees are in the postseason. For the first time ever, a Kansas City team is.

The Yankees lead the Royals in the deciding Game 5, 6-3, in the top of the 8th. But George Brett slams a long home run off Grant Jackson to tie it.  The game goes to the bottom of the 9th, and a few fans had thrown garbage onto the field, delaying action. Mark Littell, the Royals’ closer at the time, had to restart his warmup pitches, and it may have unsettled him just a little bit.

Leading off the inning was Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss. Good player. Very good with the glove. Had a little power. But not a big-time slugger like Graig Nettles, who led the American League in homers that year with 32; or Reggie Jackson, the newly-minted free agent who was moonlighting in the ABC booth with Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell.

It was quite a night. Quite a cold night. The game-time temperature was about 40 degrees. A banner read, “NO MATTER HOW COLD, THE YANKS STAY HOT.” Among the celebrities there that night was Telly Savalas, star of the CBS cop drama Kojak, who was wearing a big fur coat. The camera caught that big Kojak smile, the newly-renovated Stadium’s arc lamps reflecting off both his big bald head and his big white teeth. Cold or no, the man was enjoying himself, and was so macho that nobody dared to tell him a man can’t wear a fur coat.

Cary Grant was at the game. So was James Cagney. The Stadium was back, the Yankees were back, everybody wanted to be there — New York City’s fiscal difficulties and the rising crime rate of the Subways and the South Bronx be damned.

Littell threw one pitch. Just one pitch.  Phil Rizzuto, who once wore the Number 10 now worn by Chambliss, had the call on WPIX, Channel 11:

He hits one deep to right-center! That ball is gonna be… outta here! The Yankees win the Pennant! Holy cow, Chris Chambliss on one swing! And the Yankees win the Pennant.  Unbelievable, what a finish, as dramatic a finish as you’d ever wanna see! With all that delay, we told you, Littell had to be a little upset.  And this field will never bee the same, but the Yankees have won it!

The fans jumped over the fences and come pouring onto the field by the thousands. This had happened in many a ballpark celebration, and I’m sure some of them had seen their fathers or older brothers do it in 1969 when the Mets did all three of their clinchings (Division, Pennant and World Series) at home at Shea Stadium. The Mets had also clinched the Pennant and Series at home in 1973.

I’m sure there were a few “Yankee fans” running onto the field that night in ’76 who had been “Met fans” in ’69 and ’73. Maybe some were now running onto their second New York ballfield. Maybe it was the third, fourth, fifth or… 3 in ’69, 2 in ’73… sixth time.

Chambliss threw his arms into the air before reaching first base… As soon as he turned for second, a fan ran over and pulled the base out. Who says you can’t steal first base? The New York Police Department and Yankee Stadium’s orange-capped, orange-blazered ushers, that’s who. But there was little they could do at this point, as they were hopelessly outnumbered.

So was Chambliss. He touched second, but was then tripped up. He later said his big fear was falling and being trampled by fans. By the time he got to the third base area, the base was gone. He did the best he could, ran by home plate, and, remembering his training as a high school football player, threw a couple of blocks and got into the dugout.

On Channel 7, doing the game for ABC, this is what happened: Reggie noticed that, as cold as it was, Chambliss had the top button of his jersey undone, something that would likely have gotten him fined today. Of course, Reggie did that a lot, too, once he came to the Yankees and was no longer wearing a pullover jersey, like he had in Oakland and in his one, just-concluded season in Baltimore.

Reggie: “Chambliss is so hot right now, he’s got his top button undone. He’s in heat!”

Keith: “Mark Littell delivers, there’s a high drive, deep to right-center field… ”

Howard, interrupting: “That’s gone!”

Keith: “It could be, it is… gone!”

Howard: “Chris Chambliss has won the American League Pennant for the New York Yankees! A thrilling, dramatic game with overtones of that great sixth game in the World Series last year, and the seventh game, too!”

Etc., etc., etc., in that oft-imitated Cosellian way.

The scoreboard – ignoring for the moment that there was still a World Series to play – flashed, “WE’RE #1” for a minute and finally “N Y YANKEES 1976 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONS.”

When they got into the locker room, the big question was asked: Did you touch home plate? Of course, Chambliss didn’t touch home plate. What home plate? Did you see a home plate? He didn’t see no home plate! Fortunately, Lee MacPhail, President of the AL and a former general manager of the Yankees (and son of former Yankee part-owner Larry MacPhail), was at the game, and the ruling was easy: Since the ball left the field of play, and no one was on base for Chambliss to pass to nullify one or more bases, the home run stood, and the Yankees remain 7-6 victors.  Just to be sure, Chambliss, the umpires, and a couple of cops cleared a path through the fans, walked him over to the locations of third base and home plate, and he stepped on the spots where they were supposed to be, and all was official.

If the Yankees had lost that game, it would have been a terrible way to end what had been a season of rebirth, for the team, for The Stadium, for the beleaguered City which, just one year after the worst financial crisis in its history, had hosted the nation’s Bicentennial celebrations and the Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden.  Maybe George Steinbrenner wouldn’t have been able to convince Reggie, Goose Gossage, Dave Winfield, etc. to come to the Yankees.

Who knows, maybe the fabled “Yankee Stadium Mystique” would have been considered lost in the renovation process. Maybe, when George began to make noise about wanting out of the South Bronx, he could have added to his arguments, “It’s not like there’s anything special about this version of Yankee Stadium.” And maybe he would have been right. And maybe a new stadium would have opened in the Meadowlands by 1990 – and, since it wouldn’t have had the faux-retro influence of Baltimore’s Camden Yards, but would more likely have been a “mallpark” like Toronto’s SkyDome or Chicago’s new Comiskey Park (now Rogers Centre and U.S. Cellular Field, respectively), it probably wouldn’t have been thought of as such a great place once the new/old ballparks of the 1990s were built.

Ah, but the Yankees did win that game.  So I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to Joe Girardi, and and Happy Chris Chambliss Day to everyone.

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October 14, 1066: On Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, England, the forces of William, Duke of Normandy, defeat the Saxon army of King Harold II of England.

According to legend, the battle was hours long, approaching sundown, and was fairly even, until Harold was struck in the eye by a Norman arrow. Once their King and commander fell, the Saxons lost hope. However, Lord Baltimore and his followers, still loyal to Harold, insist that a young squire named Geoffrey of Mighor interfered with the arrow’s path. Just a joke.

The Duke, previously known as “William the Bastard” for his illegitimate birth, becomes known as “William the Conqueror.” The old joke about King William I is that you should never go into battle against someone called “the Bastard,” because he’s probably got a chip on his shoulder already; and you should never go into battle against someone called “the Conqueror,” because he’s probably done something to earn that nickname.

October 14, 1644: William Penn is born. He would go on to found the colony of Pennsylvania. In 1901, the city he founded, Philadelphia, would place a statue of him, sculpted by Alexander Calder, atop their new City Hall. It was 585 feet high, counting the statue, and until the completion of the Singer Building in New York, it was the tallest building in the world. It was also the first secular (non-religious) building to be the tallest building in the world; Penn, a Quaker who deeply believed in religious freedom, would have loved that.

For decades, an “unwritten law” (sometimes called a “gentleman’s agreement”) stated that no structure in the city could be taller than the hat on the Penn statue. In 1987, One Liberty Place opened. At 948 feet, it was the first structure in the city taller than City Hall – in fact, for a few years, it was the tallest building between New York and Chicago.

From that point forward, no Philadelphia team won a World Championship in any sport. Between them, the Phillies, the Eagles, the 76ers and the Flyers would make 5 trips to their sports’ finals, but none would win. No college basketball team from the Philadelphia area even reached the NCAA Final Four, as, between them, Temple, St. Joseph’s and Villanova would make 5 trips to the Elite Eight, but none could get into the Final Four. And Smarty Jones, a horse born and trained in the Philly suburbs, won the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and was leading in the Belmont Stakes, before falling behind and finishing a close 2nd, so Philly even choked in the thoroughbred Triple Crown.

Some people, believing in forces larger than life, suspected that the building of what were now several structures taller than City Hall’s Penn statue began calling the city’s inability to win a major sports championship “the Curse of Billy Penn.”

On June 18, 2007, the Comcast Center was “topped off,” at 975 feet the tallest in the city and the tallest between New York and Chicago. A miniature version of the City Hall statue of William Penn was placed on top, so that “Billy Penn” could once again look out over his city without having his view obstructed by taller buildings. Within 16 months, the Phillies won the World Series. Five months after that, Villanova reached the Final Four. The Curse of Billy Penn was broken. However, in between, the Eagles lost the NFC Championship Game, and the 76ers and Flyers have still stunk, so maybe there’s more to Philly’s struggles than the Penn statue.

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October 14, 1842: Joseph Start is born in New York. He was one of the first baseball stars, playing for the Brooklyn Atlantics from 1862 to 1870, the New York Mutuals from 1871 to 1876, the Hartford Dark Blues in 1877, the Chicago White Stockings (forerunners of the Cubs) in 1878, the Providence Grays from 1879 to 1885, and the Washington Nationals in 1886.

He led the Atlantics to undefeated seasons in 1864 and 1865 (although there was no league whose “Pennant” could be won then), helped the Atlantics beat the Cincinnati Red Stockings for the closest thing there was to a “world championship” of baseball in 1870, and the Grays to National League Pennants in 1879 and 1884. He is said to have been the first first baseman to play away from the bag, although like everyone else in the game at the time, he didn’t use a glove. He lived on until 1927.

October 14, 1890: Dwight David Eisenhower is born in Denison, Texas. He grew up in Abeline, Kansas, and played football and baseball at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He played on the losing side in the legendary upset of Army by the Carlisle Indian School in 1912.

Legend has it that the future Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II and 34th President of the United States tried to tackle the man behind Carlisle’s rise, Jim Thorpe, and that Thorpe crashed into Eisenhower and broke the future President’s leg.

The truth is less romantic: “Ike” played in Army’s next game and got hurt in that one.  So if he did try to tackle Thorpe, it was not injurious.  But it probably wasn’t all that successful, either, as Thorpe was the greatest football player of the 1910s, and the greatest track star of that time, and played Major League Baseball as well, and remains one of the greatest all-around athletes of all time.

In 1953, his first year as President, Ike was invited, as all Presidents had been since 1910, to throw out the first ball on Opening Day at Washington’s Griffith Stadium. He declined, saying he had a golf date that day. But it rained, postponing the ballgame, and that enabled him to throw out the first ball. He also threw out the first ball before Game 1 of the 1956 World Series at Ebbets Field. The next day, his election opponent, Adlai Stevenson, threw out the first ball.

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October 14, 1891: Former Chicago White Stockings (forerunners of the Cubs) pitcher Larry Corcoran, the first man to pitch 3 no-hitters, dies in Newark at the age of 32 of the kidney disorder Bright’s Disease, exacerbated by alcoholism. Corcoran’s best year was 1884 when he went 27-12.

October 14, 1892: The scheduled game between the Boston Beaneaters (forerunners of the Braves) and the Washington Nationals (who fold in 1899 and are not to be confused with any later D.C. team) is postponed because the Senators’ field has already been reserved by the Columbia Athletic Club for a football game against Princeton. As far as I know, this is the first time football has ever asserted its authority, whatever that might be, over baseball.

October 14, 1905: Christy Mathewson pitches his 3rd shutout in 6 days‚ giving up 6 hits to Chief Bender’s 5. The Giants win, 2-0, and clinch the World Series in 5 games, thus proving their point from last year, when they refused to play the Boston Pilgrims (forerunners of the Red Sox), that they were already the best team in baseball.

The three goose eggs make Mathewson, already the most popular player in the game, bigger than any U.S. athlete has ever been. The A’s’ .161 team BA is the lowest ever for a Series, and the teams’ combined .185 is also the lowest.

The last survivor from the 1905 Giants is shortstop Bill Dahlen, who lived until 1950.

October 14, 1906: The Chicago White Sox jump on Three-Finger Brown for 7 runs in the first 2 innings‚ and coast behind Doc White to a 7-1 Series-ending victory in what is still the only all-Chicago World Series. Despite winning 116 games in the regular season, the Cubs lose to the “Hitless Wonders.” But the Cubs will be back. No, that is not a joke.

The last survivor from the 1906 White Sox is pitcher Guy “Doc” White, who lived until 1969.

October 14, 1908: Before the smallest crowd in World Series history, just 6‚210 at Bennett Park in Detroit, the Tigers are tamed on 3 hits by Orval Overall‚ who fans 10 in a 2-0 win. The Chicago Cubs win the series in 5 games. In the 101 years since, they have never won another, despite 13 trips to the postseason. Upset over seating arrangements at the Series‚ sports reporters form a professional group that will become the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The last survivor of the 1907-08 World Champion Cubs is infielder Henry “Heinie” Zimmerman, not yet ready in 1907 or 1908 to displace 3rd baseman Harry Steinfeldt, shortstop Joe Tinker or 2nd baseman Johnny Evers, but who ends up playing all 3 positions and becomes one of the top 3rd basemen of the 1910s.  He lives until 1969.

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October 14, 1910: John Robert Wooden is born in Hall, Indiana. One of the top players of his time, he led Purdue University’s basketball team to a season in 1932 that was retroactively awarded National Championship status. In 1947, he coached Indiana State University to a conference title, and was invited to play at a tournament in Kansas City. He declined, because the tournament was segregated, and he refused to leave his team’s one black player behind.

In 1949, he was hired to coach the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA. Not until 1962 did they reach what’s now known as the Final Four. But in 1964, he coached them to an undefeated season. They would win 10 National Championships in 12 seasons, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973, with a 47-game winning streak from 1966 to 1968 and an 88-game winning streak from 1971 to 1974, still the third-longest and longest winning streaks in the history of college basketball. His players included Basketball Hall-of-Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (known by his birth name of Lew Alcindor at the time), Bill Walton and Gail Goodrich, and Olympic Gold Medalists Goodrich and Walt Hazzard.

John Wooden died just short of his 100th birthday, and was the first of 3 people who are in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. There are few more respected people in the history of sports, living or dead.

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October 14, 1913, 100 years ago: Hugh Thomas Casey is born in Atlanta.  The righthanded pitcher starred in the minors, including with his hometown Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, then arrived in the major leagues for 13 games with the 1935 Cubs, then got sent down to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels, then spent 1937 with the Birmingham Barons of the SA and 1938 with that league’s Memphis Chicks, before the Brooklyn Dodgers rescued him.

He went 15-10 for the ’39 Bums, and was then converted into a reliever.  In 1942 and ’47, he led the National League in saves, and probably should’ve been named to the All-Star Game in 1939, ’42, ’46 and ’47.  Casey, rather than late ’40s Yankee star Joe Page, was the first relief pitcher to receive the nickname of “Fireman.”

But he’s best remembered for one pitch he threw, to Tommy Henrich of the Yankees, which Henrich missed.  That should have been strike 3 and the last out of the Dodgers’ win in Game 4 of the 1941 World Series, tying the Series at 2 games apiece.  But catcher Mickey Owen couldn’t handle the ball, Henrich saw that, he ran to first, and got there safely.  Casey came unglued after that, allowing a single to Joe DiMaggio and a double to Charlie Keller, blowing the game.

The Yankees probably would’ve won that Series anyway, as Dodger manager Leo Durocher — in a rare moment of blaming himself instead of everybody else — admitted that he’d messed up the Dodgers’ starting rotation.  But Casey got as much of the blame for the mishandled 3rd strike as Owen, as many people (including players on both teams) have speculated that he threw a spitball, catching Owen by surprise.

Casey enlisted in the Navy during World War II, missing the 1943, ’44 and ’45 seasons — at ages 29, 30 and 31, usually peak years for a pitcher — so we shouldn’t judge him too harshly.  But, whether due to stress over pitching, the ridicule from the ’41 pitch, or his war experiences, he began to drink heavily.  The Dodgers released him in 1948, he was picked up and then released by the Pittsburgh PIrates, and then the Yankees picked him up for the 1949 stretch drive, but he only appeared in 4 games.

He never appeared in the majors again.  He spent the 1950 season back home in Atlanta with the Crackers, was not picked up for another season, and, distraught over the end of his career and his girlfriend breaking up with him, on July 3, 1951, he shot and killed himself.  He was only 37.

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October 14, 1914: Harry David Brecheen is born in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. In 1946 the St. Louis Cardinal became the first lefthanded pitcher to win 3 games in one World Series. Only Mickey Lolich and Randy Johnson have joined him since. He was known as “the Cat,” and a younger Cardinal lefty who was something of a protégé, Harvey Haddix, became known as “the Kitten.” The experience led to a long career as a pitching coach, and his Baltimore Oriole staff held the Los Angeles Dodgers to 33 consecutive scoreless innings in the 1966 World Series.

October 14, 1916: Sophomore tackle and guard Paul Robeson is excluded from the Rutgers football team when the players of Washington and Lee University of Virginia refuse to play against a black person. The game, played at Neilson Field in New Brunswick, New Jersey, ends in a 13-13 tie. A friend of Robeson’s called it “a wound that never healed.”

A month later, West Virginia University sent its team to play Rutgers, and insisted that Robeson not play. This time, Rutgers coach George Foster Sanford said that if the Mountaineers didn’t want to play against a black man, they could go home. They didn’t want to forfeit either the game or the money their school would make by playing, so they played, and Robeson made a game-saving tackle near the goal line to preserve a scoreless tie. Afterward, the WVU players lined up to shake his hand.

In 1917 and 1918, Robeson was considered by many observers to be the best player in the country. In 1920, making his all-time All-American team, Walter Camp, the legendary Yale player and coach who invented the “All-American team” concept, named Robeson the best defensive end he’d ever seen.

His pro career was brief, but he did play for the first champions of the league that became the NFL, the Akron Pros, led by black coach and back Fritz Pollard. Robeson went on to bigger things in the law, music, acting and social activism.

October 14, 1927: Walter Johnson, regarded by many as the greatest pitcher of all time, announces his retirement as a player. In two weeks‚ the Big Train will sign a 2-year contract to manage the Newark Bears of the International League.

Also on this day, Roger Moore is born. You might know him by another name: That name is Bond. James Bond. What does that have to do with sports? Well, in Live and Let Die, he raced a boat. In The Man With the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me, he raced cars. Not good enough? In The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only, he not only skied, but unlike competitive skiers, he actually had to “play defense.” Not to mention he got into fights in all his Bond movies. As Mr. Bond, Mr. Moore was definitely athletic.

October 14, 1929: After a day off, because sports on Sunday are illegal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (and will remain so until 1934), a special train from Washington brings President and Mrs. Hoover to Shibe Park to see if Howard Ehmke can wind up the Series against Pat Malone.

They match zeroes for 3‚ but with 2 outs in the 4th‚ a walk and 3 hits give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Malone stifles the A’s with 2 hits and the 2-0 lead holds up into the 9th. The Athletics rally and come up with 3 runs‚ the winning run scoring on a Bing Miller double‚ and take the series 4 games to 1.

There won’t be another winning rally by a team down 2 runs in the 9th of game 7 this century; the Diamondbacks‚ in 2001‚ will do it next. NL MVP Rogers Hornsby‚ hobbled with a heel spur‚ manages just 5 hits in the Series. This is the last Major League Baseball game played before the stock market begins to crash 10 days later, beginning the Great Depression.

The last survivor of the ’29 A’s, considered by some people to be the greatest team of all time, is right fielder Walt French, who lives until 1984.

October 14, 1941: Arthur Louis Shamsky is born in St. Louis. On his 28th birthday, the right fielder (though not starting in front of Ron Swoboda – lucky for the Mets in Game 4) would help the Mets win Game 3 of the World Series.

Of course, he’s best known for being the hero of NYPD Detective Robert Barone, played by Brad Garrett on Everybody Loves Raymond. Robert loved Shamsky so much, he named his dog “Shamsky.” In 1999, on the 30th Anniversary of the Mets’ “Miracle,” Robert and his brother Ray, a sportswriter for Newsday, drove up to Cooperstown, where some of the ’69 Mets were signing autographs at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ray wanted to use his press credentials to skip to the head of the line. But Tug McGraw recognized Ray and remembered a critical column that Ray had written. Art Shamsky wasn’t impressed, either, and the brothers got thrown out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Later, at a diner, Robert said they should have waited in line like everybody else. Ray: “But we’re not like everybody else!” Robert: “Obviously, we’re not like everybody else. Because everybody else got to meet the Mets!

October 14, 1946: Albert Oliver Jr. is born in Portsmouth, Ohio. A seven-time All-Star, the center fielder (later first baseman) was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1971 World Champions. In 1970, Al hit the last home run at Forbes Field and drove in the first run at Three Rivers Stadium. In 1978, he was traded to the Texas Rangers, and switched from Number 16 to Number 0 – not a zero, but an O for Oliver.

His 2,743 career hits make him 6th among players currently eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in, trailing Rafael Palmeiro (who is not banned but will never get in due to steroids), Barry Bonds (ditto), Craig Biggio, Harold Baines and Vada Pinson. His son Aaron Oliver played for Texas A&M’s football team in their 1998 Big 12 Conference Championship season, and now teaches at a Texas high school.

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October 14, 1953, 60 years ago: The Brooklyn Dodgers force Charley Dressen’s resignation as manager when he refuses to sign anything less than a two-year contract. The club reportedly offered him a $7‚500 raise‚ but, on the insistence of his wife, he tried for a 2-year contract, and lost.

My Grandma, a major Dodger fan in those days, hated Dressen, telling me decades after the fact about how bad he was: “Oh, that Dressen was so stupid!” And she confirmed that his wife bossed him around and demanded that he ask for the two-year contract. But for as long as Walter O’Malley and his son Peter owned the Dodgers, from 1950 to 1997, the Dodgers only offered their managers one-year contracts – 23 such contracts to Walter Alston, Dressen’s replacement, and then 20 such contracts to Alston’s successor, Tom Lasorda.

Dressen immediately signs to manage the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. He had previously been one of Casey Stengel’s coaches with Oakland. He would later manage the Washington Senators and the Detroit Tigers, and died as the Tigers’ manager in 1966.  As far as I know, he remains the last MLB manager to die in office.  He was also an early pro football player, an original member of the 1920 Decatur Staleys, the team that became the Chicago Bears.

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October 14, 1964: Joseph Elliott Girardi is born in Peoria, Illinois, and grows up in neighboring East Peoria.  His 48th birthday was not a happy one, as he had to deal with Derek Jeter’s broken ankle in the 2012 Playoffs.  But on his 49th, he has just signed a contract extension, and will manage the Yankees for a while longer.

Also on this day, in Yankee history, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit home runs on back-to-back pitches from Curt Simmons‚ and Joe Pepitone belts Gordie Richardson for a grand slam.  The Yankees win, 8-3 at St. Louis, and send the World Series to a deciding Game 7. With all the home runs that Mickey and Roger hit, this is the only time they hit back-to-back homers in a postseason game.

Also on this day, James Philip Rome is born in Tarzana, California. But any man whose two favorite athletes of all time are Manny Ramirez and Rickey Henderson – in that order – gets no respect from me.

October 14, 1965: The Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series, coming back from a 2-games-to-0 deficit in which Don Drysdale lost Game 1 and Sandy Koufax lost Game 2. But Claude Osteen won Game 3, Drysdale Game 4, and Koufax Game 5. Now, working on two days rest‚ and throwing only fastballs so that his great curveball doesn’t hurt his aching elbow as much as it hurts the Minnesota batters, Koufax pitches a 3-hitter and blanks the Twins, 2-0.  In other words, the Twins, led by Hall-of-Fame 3rd baseman Harmon Killebrew and should-be Hall-of-Fame right fielder Tony Oliva, knew exactly what was coming, but it was so good that they still couldn’t hit it.

This is the Dodgers’ 4th World Championship, their 3rd since moving to Los Angeles, and their 2nd in 3 years. In each of the last 2, Koufax was named Series MVP.

Players from this game, 48 years ago, who are still alive: For the Dodgers, Koufax, shortstop Maury Wills, 1st baseman Wes Parker, left fielder Lou Johnson, right fielder Ron Fairly, 2nd baseman Dick Tracewski and 3rd baseman John Kennedy (Drysdale and Osteen are still alive, but did not appear); for the Twins, Oliva, center fielder Joe Nossek, 2nd baseman Frank Quilici (who later managed the Twins as one of MLB’s last player-managers), pinch-hitters Rich Rollins and Sandy Valdespino, and pitchers Jim Kaat, Jim Merritt and Jim Perry.  (The Twins used a 4th pitcher, Johnny Klippstein, but he’s dead.  I guess, to pitch for the Twins in this game, it helped to be named Jim.)

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October 14, 1967: Patrick Franklin Kelly is born in Philadelphia. He played 2nd base for the Yankees from 1991 to 1997. In 1995, his home run brought the Yanks back from behind to win a key game against the Blue Jays in Toronto, and enabled them to clinch the first-ever American League Wild Card. He was a member of the Yankees’ 1996 World Championship team, although he was not on the active roster for the postseason.

He should not to be confused with two other Pat Kellys who have played Major League Baseball, an outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles on their 1979 Pennant team, and a catcher who had a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays in 1980.

October 14, 1968: American sprinter Jim Hines becomes the first man ever to break the 10-second barrier in a 100-meter race, at the Olympic final in Mexico City. His time is 9.95 seconds. This will stand as a world record for 15 years.  Hines also anchors the U.S. 4×100-meter relay team, the first all-black team of any kind, in any sport, from any country, to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

Like baseball legend Frank Robinson and basketball legend Bill Russell, Hines is a graduate of McClymonds High School in Oakland, California.  Unfortunately, he is not as well remembered as some other Gold Medalists from the ’68 Olympics, such as George Foreman, Dick Fosbury and Tommie Smith.  Like a few great sprinters, he got a pro football tryout, and he played 10 games with the Miami Dolphins in 1969 and 1 with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970.  He later worked on oil rigs in Houston, and now, at age 67, runs an inner-city youth advocacy program.

Also on this day, Matt Le Tissier is born on Guernsey, in the Channel Islands – closer to France than to England, and ethnically French, but a citizen of England and the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The midfielder for English soccer club Southampton, the greatest player in the club’s history, was 48-for-49 on penalty kicks in his career, and is often regarded as the greatest player ever at that task.

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October 14, 1969: The Mets continue their “Miracle,” winning Game 3 of the World Series, 5-0 over the Baltimore Orioles. Ed Kranepool, the last remaining Met from their original, pathetic 1962 squad, justifies his place on this team by hitting a home run. So does Tommie Agee, who makes 2 sensational running catches in center field.

October 14, 1972: Oakland Athletics catcher Gene Tenace becomes the first player ever to hit home runs in each of his first 2 World Series at bats‚ leading the A’s to a 3-2 opening-game win over the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. This is the first postseason game for the A’s franchise since Game 7 of the 1931 World Series, when the A’s were still in Philadelphia (though that game was played in St. Louis).

October 14, 1973, 40 years ago: The Mets win Game 2 of the World Series‚ 10-7‚ scoring 4 runs in an 11th inning featuring what turns out to be the last major league hit by Willie Mays, and 2 errors by A’s second baseman Mike Andrews.

Andrews, who’d previously played for the Boston Red Sox in their 1967 “Impossible Dream” Pennant season, is subsequently put on the “disabled list” by an enraged A’s owner Finley, triggering the baseball equivalent of a constitutional crisis, just as the one started by the Watergate scandal is reaching a new peak.

October 14, 1975: In a game featuring 6 home runs‚ 3 by each team‚ Game 3 of the World Series is won by the Cincinnati Reds, 6-5 in the 10th inning. The inning is marked by a controversial play involving Cincinnati’s Ed Armbrister and Boston’s Carlton Fisk: Armbrister lays down a sacrifice bunt, and seemingly hesitates breaking out of the batter’s box; Fisk’s subsequent throwing error leads to the Reds’ winning run. The Sox scream for an interference call from umpire Larry Barnett‚ but to no avail.

Tony Kubek, former Yankee shortstop and now one of the NBC broadcasters, says on the air that Barnett blew the call. Barnett ends up getting thousands of angry letters, some of them death threats, nearly all of them from the New England States.

I’ve seen the film: Maybe this is just the Yankee Fan in me, used to hating the Red Sox, making this judgment, but I can’t say for sure that Armbrister intentionally interfered with Fisk.

The Armbrister play happened 38 years ago, but Red Sox fans still complain about it. It was even mentioned in the U.S. version of the movie Fever Pitch. Finally having won 2 World Series has done nothing to diminish Sox fans’ feelings about it. They still think that, if interference had been called on Armbrister, they would have won the Series.

I guess it never occurred to them that, Curse of the Bambino or no, the game was still tied when it happened, and, considering everything that’s gone wrong with their favorite team, they could have lost the game later in another shocking way.

It also hasn’t occurred to them that, instead of blaming Armbrister or Barnett, they should blame their own players for blowing leads in Games 2, 5 and 7, any one of which would have resulted in their World Series drought ending at 57 years… and the next one ending at 29 years. But then, these are Red Sox fans. It’s been a long time since I gave up on expecting them to be rational.

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October 14, 1977: The Yankees win Game 3 of the World Series, defeating the Dodgers, 5-3 at Dodger Stadium. Mike Torrez is the winning pitcher, and Mickey Rivers collects 3 hits‚ including 2 doubles.

Also on this day, Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby dies at age 74. How good a golfer the legendary singer and actor known as “Der Bingle” was is open to debate, but he did sponsor the Bing Crosby Open tournament.

Golf isn’t a real sport? I agree. Okay, then: For a while, he was a part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, while his frequent movie costar and golfing buddy Bob Hope was a part-owner of the next-closest big-league team, the Cleveland Indians. Fortunately for them, the two teams are in different leagues, so the nasty Pittsburgh-Cleveland football rivalry did not spill over into baseball.  (In fact, this year marked the first time both the Pirates and the Indians ever made the postseason in the same year.)

October 14, 1978: It’s Game 4 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees trail the Dodgers, 3-1 with 1 out in the bottom of the 6th. The Dodgers are 11 outs away from taking a 3-games-to-1 lead in the Series. But Reggie Jackson singles home a run, and Thurman Munson takes second on the play. Then Lou Piniella comes to bat. Sweet Lou hits a low line drive toward shortstop Bill Russell.

It’s important to remember that this ball was very low. If it had been any higher, the umpires would probably have invoked the infield-fly rule, which would automatically have declared the batter, Piniella, out with the 2nd out of the inning, and forced Munson to stay at 2nd and Jackson at 1st. But there is no time for the IFR to be called, and Russell… drops the ball. Thurman sees this and heads for 3rd. Russell steps on 2nd to force Reggie, who’s stuck just off of 1st, seemingly frozen. Russell throws to 1st, and…

And the ball hits Reggie on the leg and caroms away into foul territory. Lou gets to 1st safely. Thurman rounds 3rd and scores. The Yanks now trail 3-2, with Lou on 1st and 2 outs.

Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda storms out of the dugout, and furiously argues with the umpires’ crew chief, AL ump Marty Springstead, that Lou should be called out due to Reggie’s intentional interference. Springstead decides that he cannot determine Reggie’s intent, and he lets the result of the play stand. Lasorda would later say he was impressed with Reggie’s presence of mind to attempt the “tactic,” which becomes known as “the Sacrifice Thigh,” but he still thought it was an illegal play.

The Yankees tie the game in the 8th when Thurman doubles home Paul Blair. The score remains tied until the bottom of the 10th, when Lou singles home Roy White with the winning run, tying the Series at 2 games apiece.

This game still ticks off Dodger fans, but since when do I give a damn what they think? They’re rooting for a team that belongs in Brooklyn.

Also on this day, Ryan Matthew Church is born in Santa Barbara, California. The right fielder played for the Montreal Expos when they moved to become the Washington Nationals, and was traded to the Mets in the trade in which the Mets gave up on Lastings Milledge. He suffered 2 nasty concussions in 2008, and was never been the same player.  He retired after the 2010 season.

Also on this day, Usher Raymond IV is born in Dallas, but grows up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is usually identified with Atlanta, where he lives and records.  A big Braves fan, he has a talent for cheating on the women he supposedly loves. I understand he does some singing, too. Yeah. Yeah.

Okay, in all fairness, Usher did a fantastic job playing a young Marvin Gaye in the 1960s-themed TV series American Dreams, singing “Can I Get a Witness.” But he also “discovered” Justin Bieber, and he will have to answer for that.

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October 14, 1983, 30 years ago: Jim Palmer pitches two innings of scoreless relief and gets win as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3 of the World Series, 3-2. The future Hall-of-Famer thus becomes the only pitcher in baseball history to win a World Series game in the 3 different decades.

October 14, 1984: The Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres, 8-4, and win their 4th World Series, their first in 16 years, in 5 games. Series MVP Kirk Gibson blasts 2 upper-deck home runs at Tiger Stadium, including a 3-run shot off Goose Gossage in the 8th inning. Tiger fans riot all over the city‚ another black eye for their beleaguered hometown.

The Tigers have not won another Series in the quarter of a century since.  The Red Wings have since won 4 Stanley Cups, and the Pistons 3 NBA titles, but the Tigers are without another ring.  They’ve since lost 2 World Series, 2 ALCS, and blown 3 Division titles that they should have won.  Strangely, no one calls them underachievers.  After last night’s choke against the Red Sox, I’m starting to wonder.

October 14, 1985: Ozzie Smith homers off Tom Niedenfuer with one out in the bottom of the 9th to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. It is the switch-hitting Smith’s first big-league home run while batting lefthanded. Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck tells the fans, “Go crazy, fans, go crazy!” They do, although they don’t riot or storm the field. They know the Cards still have to win 1 of the last 2 games in Los Angeles.

October 14, 1986: Breaking out of a 1-for-21 slump‚ Mets catcher Gary Carter drives in the winning run of the Mets’ 2-1 win over the Houston Astros in the bottom of the 12th‚ rendering meaningless Nolan Ryan’s 9 innings of 2-hit‚ 12-strikeout pitching. The Mets still have to win 1 of the last 2 games in Houston.

October 14, 1992: For the first time ever, a team from outside the United States of America wins a Major League Baseball Pennant. The Toronto Blue Jays win the ALCS in 5 games with a 9-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. Joe Carter and Candy Maldonado both homer, while Juan Guzman gets the win.

The NL Pennant is also won today, in Game 7. With the Altanta Braves down 2-0 to Doug Drabek of the Pittsburgh Pirates entering the 9th‚ the decisive blow comes with 2 outs‚ as seldom-used 3rd-string C Francisco Cabrera drives in the tying and winning runs with a pinch-hit single.

The scene of ex-Pirate Sid Bream, often ridiculed as the slowest man in baseball, somehow reaching home plate before the tag of Pirate catcher Mike LaValliere, is one of the signature plays in the Braves’ postseason years of 1991 to 2005. John Smoltz‚ who works 6 strong innings without a decision‚ is named the series MVP.

It took 21 years, until this season, for the Pirates to even have another winning season, let alone make the postseason.  An entire generation of Western Pennsylvanians was born and reached adulthood without ever having had a real Pennant race in their lifetime.

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October 14, 1997: The Florida Marlins win their 1st Pennant by defeating the Braves‚ 7-4‚ and winning the NLCS‚ 4 games to 2. Kevin Brown goes the distance for the clincher‚ while Bobby Bonilla gets 3 RBIs to lead Florida.

October 14, 2000: The Yankees whitewash the Seattle Mariners‚ 5-0‚ behind Roger Clemens’ 1-hit shutout. Clemens fans 15 Mariners as the Yanks take a commanding 3-games-to-1 lead over Seattle. The Yankees score their runs on a 3-run homer by Derek Jeter and a 2-run blast by David Justice.

Al Martin’s double off the glove of Tino Martinez in the 7th inning is the Mariners’ only hit. Had Tino gotten his glove just 2 inches higher, Clemens would have had the second no-hitter in postseason history. Alas, a no-hitter is  an accomplishment that will elude Clemens.

It will be 12 years before another Yankee pitcher throws a complete game in the postseason: CC Sabathia in Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS against Baltimore.

October 14, 2001: The Yankee bats finally come alive as the defeat the A’s, 9-2 at the Oakland Coliseum‚ to even their ALDS at 2 games apiece. Orlando Hernandez gets the victory as he improves his postseason mark to 9-1. Bernie Williams drives home 5 runs to lead the Yankees. A’s outfielder Jermaine Dye fractures his leg when he fouls a ball off his left shin. He will miss the rest of the postseason and the start of spring training next year.

October 14, 2002: The Giants beat the Cardinals‚ 2-1‚ to take the NLCS and move on to the World Series against Anaheim. Kenny Lofton’s base hit in the bottom of the 9th scores David Bell with the winning run.

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October 14, 2003: David Wells hurls the Yankees to a 4-2 win over the Red Sox and a 3-games-to-2 lead in the ALCS. Karim Garcia, victim of a Pedro Martinez fastball off his back in Game 3, delivers the key hit with a 2-run single in the 3rd.

But despite the implications of a Yankees-Red Sox postseason game, and everything that happened in Game 3 of that series, today’s action at Fenway Park pales in comparison to what happens at Major League Baseball’s other surviving pre-World War I ballpark, Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Leading 3-0 with 1 out in the 8th inning‚ and ace Mark Prior on the mound, the Cubs are just 5 outs away from their first Pennant in 58 years. By advancing to the NLCS, they had already won a postseason series for the first time in 95 years. Wrigley, and the surrounding streets, are jammed with people anticipating the Cubs’ first Pennant since 1945.

But Marlins’ second baseman Luis Castillo – Met fans will recognize that name from his 2009 miscue against the Yankees – hits a fly ball down the left-field line. Cub left fielder Moises Alou – another name Met fans will go on to remember with regret – reaches for the ball at the fence, but he can’t get it. A Cub fan named Steve Bartman reaches for it, and knocks it away. Despite appeals from the Cubs, umpire Mike Everitt rules there was no interference, that Bartman had not reached out into the field of play, and thus was entitled to try to catch the ball every bit as much as Alou was.

Castillo, with his at-bat extended, draws a walk. Iván Rodríguez singles, to make it 3-1 Cubs. Miguel Cabrera hits a ground ball to to Cub shortstop Alex Gonzalez – the Marlins had a shortstop of the same name – and he bobbles the ball. He could have turned a double play to end the inning and preserve the Cubs’ lead. Instead, all runners were safe and the bases were loaded. Derrek Lee doubles, tying the score and chasing Prior from the game.

The new Cub pitcher is… Kyle Farnsworth! Oh no! Foreshadowing his later Yankee screwups, he delivers an intentional walk to load the bases and set up a force play. But he gives up a sacrifice fly that scores Cabrera with the go-ahead run. He repeats the set-up-the-DP intentional walk, and then gives up a double to Mike Mordecai that clears the bases and makes it 7-3. The Marlins score another run for the final score of 8-3, and tie up the series.

Bartman had to be led away from the park under security escort for his own safety as Cubs fans shouted profanities towards him, and others threw debris onto the field and towards the exit tunnel from the field. News footage of the game showed him surrounded by security as passersby pelted him with drinks and other debris. Bartman’s name, as well as personal information about him, appeared on Major League Baseball’s online message boards minutes after the game ended. As many as six police cars gathered outside of his home to protect Bartman and his family following the incident.

Afterwards, then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich suggested that Bartman join a witness protection program (look who’s talking), while then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush offered Bartman asylum. For once, Jeb Bush was a better man than a Democrat; but, of course, living on Fisher Island, 15 miles from Joe Robbie Stadium, his gesture could be seen as a rather snarky one.

Shortly after the incident, Bartman released a statement, saying he was “truly sorry.” He added, “I had my eyes glued on the approaching ball the entire time and was so caught up in the moment that I did not even see Moisés Alou much less that he may have had a play.” His family changed their phone number to avoid harassing phone calls. He requested that any gifts sent to him by Marlins fans be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (a Cub cause celebre due to its association former star-turned-broadcaster Ron Santo).

Prior and former Cubs pitcher-turned-broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe spoke out in defense of Bartman. Even Jay Mariotti, then a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and a panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn, who seems to revel in the miseries of his favorite team, defended Bartman. But Michael Wilbon, columnist for the Washington Post and co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, a Chicago native and a huge Cub fan, has repeatedly said that he refuses to forgive Bartman.

To this day, Bartman refuses to make public appearances to talk about it, despite huge offers.  I’m waiting for someone to do a Chris Crocker-style video and say, “Leave Bartman alone!”

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October 14, 2006: Magglio Ordonez hits a walkoff 3-run homer with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, to give the Detroit Tigers a 6-3 win over the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park, a sweep of the ALCS, and their first Pennant in 22 years.

Despite having had such heavy hitters as Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, Goose Goslin, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Rudy York, Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito, Willie Horton, Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish and Cecil Fielder, this is the first postseason walkoff homer in the Tigers’ 106-year history. It remains the only one in their now 109-year history.

Bill Mazeroski Day — Not a Happy Anniversary for Yankee Fans

October 13, 1960: Bill Mazeroski hits a home run off Yankee Ralph Terry in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the World Series, to give the Pittsburgh Pirates their first World Championship in 35 years.

After the Series, Yankee owners Del Webb and Dan Topping fired Casey Stengel. They made Casey read a statement in which he said he was resigning, but Casey put the paper down, and told the press, “I guess this means they fired me.” He later said that they forced him out due to his age: “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”

Well, in 2003, Jack McKeon managed the Florida Marlins to a World Championship. He was about to turn 73. In 2009, the most successful Yankee manager since Casey, Joe Torre, managed the Los Angeles Dodgers to a second straight NLCS berth. He was 69.

The Baseball Gods were cruel to Ralph Terry that day in Pittsburgh, but they would be kind to him for the next 2 years, allowing him to win 39 regular-season games for back-to-back Yankee World Championship teams, and to add his own shutout in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series. Which brings me back to one of my points: As bad as certain moments of Yankee history have been, there’s usually a sequel that sets it all right, and goats become heroes.

Of the men who played in that game, 53 years ago, the following are still alive:

Pirates: 2nd baseman Mazeroski, shortstop Dick Groat, center fielder Bill Virdon, left fielder Bob Skinner, catcher Hal Smith, pinch-runner Joe Christopher (lost in the 1962 expansion draft to the Mets), and pitchers Vernon Law, Bob Friend and Elroy Face. Not entering the game but on the roster and still alive: Shortstops Dick “Ducky” Schofield and Dick Barone, outfielder Roman Mejias, catcher Bob Oldis, and pitchers Joe Gibbon, Bennie Daniels and Red Witt.  Pitcher Red Witt dies this past January, and catcher Danny Kravitz this past June.

Yankees: Terry, left fielder Yogi Berra, 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek, substitute shortstop Joe DeMaestri, pinch-hitter Hector Lopez, and pitchers Bobby Shantz, Jim Coates and Ralph Terry. Not entering the game but on the roster and still alive: Outfielder Bob Cerv; and pitchers Whitey Ford, Art Ditmar, Luis Arroyo, Eli Grba, Bill Short, Fred Kipp, Johnny James and Hal Stowe.  Pitcher Bob Turley died this past March.

Today, William Stanley Mazeroski is 77 years old, retired and living in Panama City, Florida, and is a spring-training fielding instructor for the Pirates. The Pirates have retired his Number 9, and in 2010, on the 50th Anniversary of the homer, dedicated a statue to him outside PNC Park. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001, the same year PNC Park opened.

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October 13, 1775: The Continental Congress orders the creation of the Continental Navy, the forerunner of the United States Navy.

This would seem to have nothing to do with baseball, but, during World War II, it would be the Navy that would have, arguably, the three greatest catchers in baseball history: Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. (I thought Johnny Bench served in the Army Reserve during Vietnam, but I can’t find any record of this.)

The WWII Navy would also have Phil Rizzuto, Pee Wee Reese and, through the Marine Corps which is officially part of the Navy, Ted Williams, Jerry Coleman, and broadcasters Jack Brickhouse and Ernie Harwell. The Army would have Hank Greenberg, Warren Spahn, Jackie Robinson, and, through the Army Air Corps, forerunner of the U.S. Air Force, Joe DiMaggio.

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October 13, 1862: In a game against Unions of Morrisania (now part of The Bronx), Jim Creighton of the Brooklyn-based Excelsiors hits a 6th-inning home run, after doubling in each of first 4 times to plate.

When he crosses home, the 21-year old Brooklynite complains of having broken his belt. It turns out to be a suspected ruptured inguinal hernia, caused by the torque created by his all upper-body hard swing with the bat. Medicine being what it was during the years of the American Civil War, he dies in agony 5 days later.

Creighton was the first true baseball superstar, and his monument in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is rather outlandish. Had this not happened to him, he could have lived to see baseball in the 20th Century.

Also buried in Green-Wood are pioneer sportswriter Henry Chadwick, Dodger owner Charles Ebbets, actor DeWolf Hopper (famed for his recitings of “Casey at the Bat), “New York, New York” lyricist Fred Ebb, conductor Leonard Bernstein, pianomaker Henry Steinway; Theodore Roosevelt’s parents, uncle and first wife; minister Henry Ward Beecher; publishers Horace Greeley, James Gordon Bennett and Henry J. Raymond, and reporter Nellie Bly; artists Nathaniel Currier and James Ives, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Jean-Michel Basquiat, inventors Samuel Morse and Elias Howe, New Jersey’s first Governor William Livingston; the two people for whom the male and female components of New Jersey’s State University are named, Henry Rutgers and Mabel Smith Douglass; New York Governor DeWitt Clinton and “Boss” William Marcy Tweed, actors Lola Montez, Laura Keene (onstage when Lincoln was shot) and Frank Morgan (the title role in The Wizard of Oz); and mob boss Albert Anastasia and the man often suspected of killing him, “Crazy” Joey Gallo.

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October 13, 1899: The Louisville Colonels score 4 runs in the 9th to take a 6-5 lead over the Pirates‚ but heavy black smoke from the Pittsburgh steel mills spills over the field, and the game is called because of poor visibility. The score reverts to what it was at the end of the previous inning: Pirates 5, Colonels 2. The Colonels, led by shortstop Honus Wagner, end the season today in 9th place at 75-77.

It will be their last season, as the National League contracts from 12 to 8 teams. The Pirates’ owners buy the Colonels franchise, lock, stock and Honus, and will win 4 of the next 10 NL Pennants and be in the race for most of the rest. Louisville has since been one of the top minor-league cities of the last 100 years, but it has never returned to the major leagues.

October 13, 1903: The Boston Pilgrims, forerunners of the Red Sox, win the first World Series, 5 games to 3, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-0 in Game 8. Hobe Ferris singles home 2 runs in the 4th, and Bill Dineen, pitching his 3rd win of the Series, outduels Deacon Phillippe, pitching his 5th complete game. Boston is the champion of the baseball world.

As with my previous mention of the 1904 Pilgrims/Red Sox, the last survivor was shortstop Freddy Parent, who lived on until 1972.  Right fielder Tommy Leach is the last surviving 1903 Pirate, living until 1969.

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October 13, 1914: The Boston Braves complete a shocking four-game sweep, the first in World Series history, over the mighty Philadelphia Athletics, winning Game 4, 3-1 at Fenway Park. Johnny Evers, former second-base star with the Chicago Cubs, singles in the 5th to make the difference.

The “Miracle Braves,” who came from last place on the 4th of July to win the whole thing, had abandoned South End Grounds, at whose location they had played since their founding as the Boston Red Stockings in 1871, in mid-season, because the new stadium they were building was not yet ready, and because Fenway Park had a larger seating capacity. A year later, Braves Field would open, and because it was the largest stadium yet built, with a capacity of 40,000, the Red Sox would play their 1915, ’16 and ’18 home games there. It would be 1946 before Fenway Park hosted another postseason game.

Fighting the rise of salaries caused by the Federal League, A’s owner-manager Connie Mack sold off most of his stars after this Series, ending a run of 4 Pennants and 3 World Championships in 5 seasons. In fact, he had won 6 of the first 14 AL Pennants and was in the race nearly every year. In 1915, the A’s would collapse to last place, and in 1916 they would produce a record of 36-117, the most losses in the major leagues between the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and the 1962 New York Mets, and still the lowest winning percentage since 1899, .235. To this, Mack is alleged to have said, perhaps coining the now-familiar phrase, “Well, you can’t win them all.” It would take Mack until 1927 to get the A’s back into a Pennant race and 1929 to get them back into the Series.

The Braves would not be unable to maintain their prosperity, either. They finished 2nd in 1915 and 3rd in ’16, but in ’17, catcher Hank Gowdy, a key figure in their ’14 run, became the first big-leaguer to enlist in World War I. (In fact, he would go on to become the only big-leaguer to serve in that war and World War II.) Like the A’s, the Braves would go on to become symbolic of baseball frustration: From 1917 to 1932, the Braves would have one season above .500, and 4 seasons of at least 100 losses. A 4th-place finish in 1933 was followed by a 38-115 season in 1935, a .248 winning percentage that’s the lowest in baseball in the last 95 years and the lowest in the NL in 112, even less than the 40-120 ’62 Mets’ .250. Not until 1947 would they get back into a Pennant race, not until 1948 would they win another Pennant, and by the time they won another World Series, 1957, they would be in Milwaukee, and the Red Sox would be in Boston all alone.

The last survivor of the 1914 Miracle Braves was 3rd baseman Charlie Deal, who lived on until 1979.

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October 13, 1915: The Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-4 in Game 5, and win the World Series. The Sox would get to the next World Series, and another 2 years later. The Phillies would not get to another for 35 years.

This would be the last game in a Boston uniform for their superstar center fielder, Tris Speaker, who is soon traded to the Cleveland Indians. The trade doesn’t hurt the Sox much, though, as a new star had his first full season in 1915, although he did not appear in the Series: Babe Ruth.

October 13, 1921: For the last time, the World Series is a best-5-out-of-9 affair. Game 8 is played at the Polo Grounds, home for one more season after this of both the National League’s Giants and the American League’s Yankees. George “Highpockets” Kelly of the Giants hits a ball through the legs of Yankee shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh in the first, scoring a run. It is the first time Peckinpaugh has blown it in a Series game, but it will not be the last.

The game is still 1-0 in the 9th, when Aaron Ward draws a walk with one out. Frank “Home Run” Baker, previously a Series star for Connie Mack’s A’s against the Giants, hits a line shot that Giant second baseman Johnny Rawlings snares, and throws to first to get Baker with the second out. Ward, thinking the ball had gone through, heads for third base, and Kelly throws across the infield to Frankie Frisch, and Ward is out. That’s the game and the first “Subway Series” (although the term wouldn’t be used for another few years), as the Giants win, 5 games to 3.

For the Giants, it is their 2nd World Series win, their first since 1905. For Giants manager John McGraw, it is proof that his scrappy, run-scratching, pitching-and-defense-leading style of baseball, is better than the Yankee style, which is to get guys on base and wait for someone (most likely Babe Ruth, who was ineffective in this Series) to hit a home run. For the Yankees, their first World Series ends in disappointment. They will, however, be back.

The last survivor of the ’21 Giants was Kelly, who lived until 1984.

Also on this day, Louis Henry Saban is born in Brookfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.  He played linebacker for Paul Brown on the Cleveland Browns, winning all 4 All-America Football Conference titles, 1946 to ’49.

He did not play in the NFL.  Rather, when the Browns joined in 1950, Saban was offered the head coaching job at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University.  Like later coaches Larry Brown in basketball and Harry Redknapp in soccer, he would be known for never staying at a single job for very long.  His last head coaching job was at Chowan University, a Division II school in North Carolina.  In between, he would be the head coach at Northwestern, Western Illinois, Maryland,  Miami, Army, Central Florida, SUNY-Canton, the Boston Patriots, the Denver Broncos, and the Buffalo Bills on 2 separate occasions.

He is the only man ever to coach the Bills in a season in which they went as far as the rules would allow them to go, winning the 1964 and ’65 American Football League Championships.  Typical Bills luck, these would be the last 2 AFL Champions who would not face the NFL Champions in a world championship game, a.k.a. the Super Bowl.  Lou died in 2009.  You may know him best as the father of Nick Saban, winner of National Championships at Louisiana State and Alabama.

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October 13, 1931: Edwin Lee Mathews is born in Texarkana, Texas. The Hall-of-Famer is the only man to have played for the Braves in Boston (his rookie season, 1952, was their last there), Milwaukee (all 13 years the franchise played there) and Atlanta (their first season there, 1966, was his last with the team).

His 47 home runs in 1953 was a franchise record, tied by teammate Hank Aaron in 1971, until Andruw Jones broke it with 51 in 2005. Mathews hit a 10th-inning walkoff home run to give the Braves Game 4 of the 1957 World Series, which they would win in 7 games. He hit his 500th career home run as a Houston Astro in 1967, finished his career as a World Champion with 512 home runs with the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and managed Aaron when he became the all-time home run leader in 1974.

The Braves retired Mathews’ Number 41, and along with Mike Schmidt, George Brett and Brooks Robinson, he is one of the top 4 3rd basemen of all time — or top 5, if you count Alex Rodriguez as a 3rd baseman.

October 13, 1941: Paul Frederic Simon is born in Newark, New Jersey, and grows up in Forest Hills, Queens. In 1967, looking around at a world seemingly falling apart, he wrote a song that was used in the film The Graduate: “Mrs. Robinson.” A Yankee Fan, he included a tribute to a Yankee player who exemplified a seemingly (but hardly) simpler, more innocent time: “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Simon later met DiMaggio, who was puzzled by the reference, saying, “I haven’t gone anywhere.” Simon explained that the line was a longing for what DiMaggio represented. When Mickey Mantle asked Simon why his name wasn’t used, Simon, who turned 10 as DiMaggio was replaced by Mantle, said that the rhythm and the syllables of the song wouldn’t have worked for Mantle’s name.

Simon recorded it with his singing partner, Art Garfunkel. “Mrs. Robinson” hit Number 1 in June 1968, and it was on top of the charts when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, making its search for meaning and hope even more poignant.

In 1972, now gone solo, Simon released “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” In 1988, he made a video of the song, and he’s shown pitching to kids in a stickball game. And Mantle shows up. I guess Paul had to make it up to Mickey, and while Mickey whiffs on Paul’s first pitch, Mickey blasts the next one, and then lip-synchs the title (though it’s still Simon’s voice we hear).

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October 13, 1962: Jerry Lee Rice is born in Starkville, Mississippi. He may be the greatest player in the history of American football. Certainly, he is the greatest receiver.

Also on this day, Kelly Preston is born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grows up there and in Adelaide, Australia.  A high school classmate of Barack Obama, the actress played Kevin Costner’s love interest in the film For Love of the Game. And, of course, she is married to John Travolta.

Hmmmm, Hawaiian-born, Australian-raised, married a goofy Scientologist… Ah, but Kelly is still married to Travolta, whereas Nicole Kidman is no longer married to Tom Cruise.

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October 13, 1963, 50 years ago: The last baseball game of any kind is played at the Polo Grounds.  In the first (and last) Hispanic American major league All-Star Game, the National League team beats the American League 5–2 at the Polo Grounds.

The game features such names as Felipe AlouLuis AparicioOrlando CepedaRoberto ClementeJuan MarichalJulián JavierMinnie MiñosoTony Oliva and Zoilo VersallesVic Power receives a pregame award as the number one Latin player — a justifiable award at the time, if not in retrospect, as Aparicio, Cepeda, Clemente and Marichal are all in the Hall of Fame, while Miñoso and Oliva should be.

NL starter Marichal strikes out six in four innings, though reliever Al McBean is the winning pitcher. Pinch hitter Manny Mota drives in two runs against loser Pedro Ramos.

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October 13, 1965: Jim “Mudcat” Grant wins Game 6 of the World Series, pretty much all by himself. He pitches a one-hitter, and hits a three-run home run. The Minnesota Twins beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, and the Series goes to a Game 7.

October 13, 1967: Trevor William Hoffman is born in Bellflower, California. Having spent most of his career with the San Diego Padres, he finished his career as baseball’s all-time saves leader with 601.

Sports Illustrated dedicated their May 13, 2002 issue to Hoffman, calling him “the greatest closer in MLB history.” I guess they forgot about Mariano Rivera: Not only did Mo go on to break Trevor’s record, but the question was settled in the 1998 World Series, when Rivera got 3 saves and Hoffman blew one against… Scott Brosius?

Still, Hoffman is a class act, and a sure Hall-of-Famer — he will be eligible in January 2016.  The Padres have retired his Number 51.  His brother Glenn Hoffman was also a big-league player, and briefly managed the Dodgers.

Also on this day, the American Basketball Association has its first game, at the Oakland Coliseum Arena (now known as the Oracle Arena).  The host Oakland Oaks defeat the Anaheim Amigos, 134-129. The ABA will last 9 seasons, and 4 of its franchises will be absorbed into the NBA in 1976: The 2-time ABA Champion New York (now Brooklyn) Nets, the 3-time ABA Champion Indiana Pacers, the Denver Nuggets (who lost to the Nets in the last ABA Finals) and the San Antonio Spurs (who never won anything in the ABA but have been consistently successful in the NBA, winning 4 titles).

October 13, 1970: In Game 3 of the Fall Classic played at Memorial Stadium, Dave McNally goes deep with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th inning off the Reds right-hander Wayne Granger, to become the first pitcher to hit a grand slam in World Series history. The Oriole hurler’s offensive output contributes to the Birds’ 9-3 victory over Cincinnati, and gives Baltimore a commanding 3-0 game advantage in the seven-game series.

October 13, 1971: The first night game in World Series history is played. The Orioles blow a 3-0 lead, and the Pirates win 4-3, on a pinch-hit single in the 8th by backup catcher Milt May. The Pirates have tied the Series at 2 games apiece.

October 13, 1973, 40 years ago: The Houston Aeros beat the Los Angeles Sharks, 4-3 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  This World Hockey Association match is notable for the main line for the Aeros, consisting of Mark Howe at left wing, Marty Howe at center, and their father Gordie Howe on right wing.

The Detroit Red Wings legend, now 45 years old, had come out of retirement to play with his sons, because the Red Wings weren’t listening to his personnel and strategy suggestions, and, thinking they just wanted his historic name on their letterhead, he said, “I was tired of being vice president in charge of paper clips.”  When the Aeros win the 1974 WHA Championship, Gordie will be awareded the Gary Davidson Trophy as league Most Valuable Player — and the trophy, named for the league’s founder (Davidson was also a founder of the ABA and the WFL), will be renamed for him.

Also on this day, Brian Patrick Dawkins is born in Jacksonville, Florida.  A devastating safety, he made 9 Pro Bowls, and the Philadelphia Eagles just retired his Number 20.  He will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January 2017.

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October 13, 1978: Game 3 of the World Series. Joe DiMaggio throws out the ceremonial first ball at Yankee Stadium. The Dodgers lead the Yankees 2 games to 0. The Yankees are desperate for a win. They send out Ron Guidry, who has already won 26 games (including the Divisional Playoff against Boston and the Pennant-clincher against Kansas City) against only 3 losses, but is exhausted. And he doesn’t have his best stuff: He strikes out only 4 and walks 7.

But… Graig Nettles puts on a clinic at third base, much as Brooks Robinson did 8 years to the week (including the day) earlier. He makes 6 sensational plays, including 2 scintillating stops that end innings with forceouts at 2nd base.

Roy White’s 1st-inning home run gets the Yankees going, and, somehow, Guidry goes the distance in a 5-1 win, striking out the dangerous Ron Cey for the final out. The Yankees are still alive in the Series.

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October 13, 1984: Franklin Michael Simek is born in St. Louis, once considered the capital of American soccer.  He was the first American ever to play for Arsenal Football Club, the pride of London. And that was just one game, at right back in the League Cup against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Highbury on December 2, 2003. Arsenal won, 5-1, although he had neither a goal nor an assist.

He would later play for Queens Park Rangers, Bournemouth, Sheffield Wednesday and Carlisle United, and is currently a free agent.  He played 5 times for the U.S. national team, all in 2007.

Only one other American has ever played for Arsenal, Danny Karbassiyoon, a forward from Roanoke, Virginia who played 3 League Cup matches for the Gunners in the 2004-05 season, scoring a goal on his debut. He is now Arsenal’s chief North American scout.

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October 13, 1985: The Cardinals rout the Dodgers 12-2, to even the NLCS at 2-2‚ but also lose rookie sensation Vince Coleman to one of the most bizarre injuries in sports history. Coleman is stretching before the game when his left leg becomes caught in Busch Memorial Stadium’s automated tarpaulin as it unrolls across the infield‚ trapping him for about 30 seconds. He is removed from the field on a stretcher and will not play again this year.

This will turn out to be a critical injury – not for Coleman’s life, or even for his career, but for the Cards’ lineup, as they will not have their leadoff man and sparkplug for the World Series, in which they put up one of the most pathetic batting performances in postseason history.

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October 13, 1993, 20 years ago: The combined pitching of Tommy Greene and Mitch Williams give the Phillies a 6-3 win over the heavily-favored Atlanta Braves and the National League Pennant, only the 5th flag in Fightin’ Phils history. Dave Hollins hits a 2-run homer for the winners‚ while Mickey Morandini and Darren Daulton also drive in 2 runs each. Curt Schilling is named the NLCS MVP despite no victories: He gave up just 3 earned runs and struck out 19 in 16 innings, 2 no-decisions.

And, lest Phils fans forget, they would not have gotten that far if Williams hadn’t been a terrific closer all year long, including getting the final out tonight at Veterans Stadium. I was at a Phillies game in August 2011, when John Kruk was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Hall of Fame. Williams was one of the guests, and he got a nice hand. So Philadelphia sports fans do have some class, and some understanding.

With long hair, chewing tobacco, in a few cases being well overweight, and some bad manners, the 1993 Phillies were known as “Macho Row,” and remain, despite the dream ending a little sourly in the World Series, one of the most popular teams in the history of Philadelphia sports.  And, while they share Lenny Dykstra with the similarly slobbish 1986 Mets, any resemblance to the 2004 Red Sox “Idiots” is strictly coincidental.

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October 13, 1996: The Yankees defeat the Orioles‚ 6-4 at Camden Yards‚ giving them the Pennant, 4 games to 1. The victors score all of their runs in the 3rd inning‚ which features homers by Jim Leyritz‚ Cecil Fielder‚ and Darryl Strawberry. Scott Erickson gives up all 3 homers in one inning‚ a first in the LCS. Bobby Bonilla‚ Todd Zeile‚ and Eddie Murray homer for the losers.

The last out of the game is a bit of a torch-passing moment: Cal Ripken, the face of the Oriole franchise, for the last few years and possibly for the rest of his life, hits a ground ball to the Yankee shortstop, a rookie named Derek Jeter, who goes on to become the face of the Yankee franchise. Jeter throws to Tino Martinez at first, and Ripken, desperate to keep the series alive, slides head-first. He’s too late, and the Yankees have their first Pennant in 15 years.

There’s another torch-passing fact: The Orioles’ manager is Davey Johnson, who, 10 years ago, managed the Mets to New York baseball’s most recent Pennant; while the Yankees’ manager is Joe Torre, who, after 4,279 combined games as a player and a manager, more than anyone who’s never participating in a World Series in either role, has finally made it.

I’ll never forget (and this is another torch-passer) Reggie Jackson, in the Yankee dugout, with a big smile, giving Joe a big hug, and Joe trying to maintain his composure as Mr. October gives him his long-worked-for due. However, after the game, Reggie is interviewed in the locker room, and he speaks a truth he knows full well: “They’ve got another leg to go. They’ve got another lap to make. Not done yet.” There’s still the matter of winning 4 more games against either the Cardinals or the Braves.

The Orioles, who last won a Pennant 13 years earlier, are frustrated, not in the least because of the Jeffrey Maier incident in Game 1.  However, they lost all 3 home games in the series, and a team that can’t defend its home field in the Playoffs needs to zip their lips. Especially since that Oriole team had Rafael Palmeiro (proven steroid user), Brady Anderson (almost certainly a steroid user, because the 50 homers he had that year far outpaced his previous high of 21 and his next-best later total of 24), and Bobby Bonilla (never proven a steroid user but the guy had some incidents that suggest “roid rage”).

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October 13, 1998: The Yankees win Game 6 of the ALCS over the Indians, 9-5 at Yankee Stadium, to take their 35th American League Pennant. Chuck Knoblauch, in his first game back in The Bronx after his Game 2 “brainlauch,” leads off the bottom of the 1st, and gets a big hand from the fans, who’ve seen the big double plays he started late in both Game 4 and Game 5. “Apparently, all is forgiven,” says Bob Costas on NBC.

October 13, 1999: Bernie Williams, who had previous hit one to win Game 1 of the ’96 ALCS (the Jeffrey Maier Game), becomes the first Yankee to have hit 2 walkoff home runs in postseason play. His drive off Rod Beck goes over the center field fence to lead off the bottom of the 10th, and the Yankees win the first official postseason Yankees-Red Sox game, 4-3. (The 1978 “Boston Tie Party” is counted by MLB as a regular season game.)

Red Sox fans, buoyed by the success of Pedro Martinez and Nomah Gahciahpawhah – or, at least, that’s how Nomar Garciaparra’s name sounded in their New England accents – were sure that this was The Year that the Red Sox were finally going to “Reverse the Curse” and stick it to the Yankees. But Bernie remembered the script handed to him earlier that day by Yankee legend Yogi Berra: “We’ve been playing these guys for 80 years. They cannot beat us.” Not yet, anyway.

October 13, 2000: Extending his streak to 33 1/3 innings, Mariano Rivera breaks the 38-year-old record of Whitey Ford for consecutive scoreless frames in postseason play when the Yankees defeat the Seattle Mariners, 8-2 in Game 3 of the ALCS. The Yankees’ Hall of Fame lefty had established the record from 1960 to 1962 with 33 innings as a World Series starter.

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October 13, 2001: The Yankees enter Game 3 at the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever corporate name the “Mausoleum” had at the time) down 2 games to 0 against the Athletics, and are desperate for a victory.

Jorge Posada homers in the top of the 5th, to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead. That lead holds in the 7th, but Terrence Long drives one into the corner. Right fielder Shane Spencer heaves the ball home, but it’s off the line. Jeremy Giambi, brother of star Oakland slugger Jason Giambi, will score for sure.

Except… out of nowhere comes Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, who sprints in, grabs the ball, and, holding it for less than half a second, flips it to Posada at the plate, and Posada juuuust barely tags Giambi on the back of the knee, before his foot touches the plate, completing one of the most amazing defensive plays in baseball history.

“The Flip” allows Mike Mussina and, in the 9th, Mariano Rivera to preserve the 1-0 shutout, and keep the Yankees from being eliminated.  The Yankees would win the series in Game 5 at the old Yankee Stadium, with Jeter making another amazing play, tumbling into the stands to catch a foul pop, also off the bat of Terence Long.

Has it really been 12 years? Of the men who played in that game for the Yankees, only Jeter will still be the active roster next Opening Day.  For the A’s, none are left. In fact, 3 of them would go on to become Yankees: Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Eric Chavez.  Did somebody mention that Billy Beane was a genius?

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October 13, 2002: The Anaheim Angels – as they are officially known at the time – score 10 runs in the 7th inning on their way to a 13-5 win over the Minnesota Twins, winning the first Pennant in the team’s 42-season history. Adam Kennedy is the hero for Anaheim with 3 homers and 7 RBIs. Scott Spiezio also homers for the Angels‚ with Francisco Rodriguez getting the win in relief.

Prior to the Angels’ first Pennant, they were considered “cursed”: The Curse of the Cowboy was legendary entertainer Gene Autry, who founded the team and died without them ever winning a Pennant. This one wasn’t funny, as men had died while still active with the Angels, in addition to their 1979, ’82 and ’86 ALCS collapses, and their late-season swoon that cost them the ’95 AL Western Division title.

Between 1959 and 1988, their rivals up Interstate 5, the Los Angeles Dodgers, had won 9 Pennants in a 30-year stretch, including 5 times winning the World Series. Since 2002, however, the Angels have been in the postseason 5 times in the last 10 years, including a World Championship; the Dodgers, twice, and still no Pennants in the last 25 years. It’s premature to say that the Angels have surpassed the Dodgers as Southern California’s most popular baseball team, but they are certainly the more successful one now.  (The Dodgers can change that, but they’ll have to rebound from being 2-0 down in this year’s NLCS.)

October 13, 2012: Derek Jeter breaks his ankle trying to field a grounder in the top of the 12th inning, and hasn’t been the same since.  The Tigers beat the Yankees, 6-4, and the Yankees don’t win another game until April.

October 12 Baseball Anniversaries

October 12, 1492: Christoffa Corombo – as he was known in his native Genoa, or Christophorus Columbus as he was known in Latin, or Cristobal Colon as his patron, Queen Isabella I of Spain, calls him – finally gets his ships to land. He believes he has reached South Asia. He names the island on which he lands San Salvador, after Jesus. Eventually, the island will be taken over by the English, and renamed Watling Island. Today, it is a part of the Bahamas.

Eventually, the man the English-speaking world knows as Christopher Columbus will make 4 voyages west, never fully realizing he was in what became known as “the New World,” always thinking he was in Asia. But he does start the wave of European exploration that will make the Americas – eventually named for rival Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci – possible.

Yet, considering previous voyages of the Vikings (and, some believe, the Chinese), it is disingenuous to say, “Columbus discovered America.” In fact, he never set foot on the soil of the continental U.S., coming the closest when he reached Puerto Rico. As far as I can tell, it was Juan Ponce de Leon, who came with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, who was the first European to set foot on present-day U.S. soil, reaching Florida in 1513. (Vespucci did reach land in what’s now called South America, but not North America; the Vikings reached present-day Canada, but not present-day America.)

It’s also not true that Columbus “proved the world is round.” By 1492, most people already believed that. Even so, it would be 1522, and the conclusion of the Ferdinand Magellan expedition, before anyone sailed all the way around the world, and proved through firsthand experience that the world was round.

What does this have to do with baseball? Today, there is a Triple-A minor league baseball team in Columbus, Ohio, and a Double-A team in Columbus, Georgia. And a major league team in Washington, District of Columbia. And, of course, there is a tremendous amount of talent in lands that Columbus revealed to the Old World, including the places now known as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

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October 12, 1899: The American League is founded by Ban Johnson.

October 12, 1906: Joseph Edward Cronin is born in San Francisco. Both shortstop and manager for the Washington Senators, he led them to the 1933 American League Pennant, still the last Pennant ever won by a Washington baseball team (unless you count the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues, and even then they split their “home” games between Washington and Pittsburgh).

Senators owner Clark Griffith, himself a former pitcher good enough to make the Hall of Fame even if he hadn’t been a pioneering team owner, liked Cronin so much he let him marry his daughter Mildred. But when Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey offered the perennially broke Griffith big bucks for Cronin, he sold his son-in-law, his shortstop, and his manager off all in one fell swoop.

Yawkey made Cronin his shortstop and manager, but ego made Cronin the manager keep Cronin the player at shortstop long after his skills had deteriorated. This caused the Red Sox to trade away the star shortstop of their Louisville farm team, Harold “Pee Wee” Reese.

True, this allowed Johnny Pesky to become an All-Star shortstop once Cronin finally accepted that he didn’t have it anymore, but it also led the greatest of all Red Sox, Ted Williams, to say that if the Sox had Phil Rizzuto at short, they would have won “all those Pennants” instead of the Yankees.

Finally, in 1946 – a year after he finally retired as a player, coincidence? – Cronin led the Red Sox to the Pennant, but lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, a loss often blamed on… drumroll please… shortstop Pesky “holding the ball.” Cronin only lasted another year as manager, then was “promoted” to team president. He left the team presidency in 1959 when he was offered the presidency of the American League, a post he held until 1973.

That the Red Sox became the last team to integrate is often blamed on owner Yawkey and his drinking buddy, 1950s manager Michael “Pinky” Higgins, who famously declared that there would never be a (racial slur beginning with N) on the team as long as he was the manager. And, once Yawkey fired him, the Sox then integrated. However, Yawkey hired him back, and at that point, Higgins managed more black players than his fired successor, Rudy York, or the man hired to replace York, Bucky Harris. Could it be that the real Yawkey drinking buddy/roadblock to integration was Cronin? After all, the year that the Sox integrated, with Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, was 1959, the very year Cronin left to become AL President.

Joe Cronin is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his Number 4 has been retired by the Red Sox. But if he hadn’t managed the Sox to that ’46 Pennant, I wonder if he would have deserved these honors. After all, he wasn’t a great shortstop as long as his contemporaries Rizzuto, Reese, Luke Appling, Lou Boudreau or Marty Marion were. And, as far as I can tell, he was the first manager ever to walk out to the mound and tell his pitcher, “Don’t give him anything good to hit – but don’t walk him.”

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October 12, 1907: At Detroit’s Bennett Park, right-hander Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown throws a 2-0 shutout, beating the Tigers to capture the World Championship for the Cubs. Although Game 1 ended in a 3-3, 12-inning tie, Chicago becomes the first club to sweep a Fall Classic.

October 12, 1910: With the AL’s season ending a week earlier than the NL’s‚ the champion Philadelphia Athletics tune up with a 5-game series against an AL all-star team‚ which includes Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers‚ Tris Speaker of the Red Sox‚ Doc White and Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox‚ and Walter Johnson of the Senators.

The A’s drop 4 out of 5 to the all-stars‚ but manager/part-owner Connie Mack will later state‚ “Those games‚ more than anything else‚ put the Athletics in a condition to outclass the National League champions.” These are not baseball’s first “all-star games,” but they were very consequential as far as determining the World Champions of baseball.

Also on this day, Robert Leo Sheppard is born in Richmond Hill, Queens, the same neighborhood that would produce Rizzuto. He played quarterback for St. John’s University in Queens, and later taught public speaking there.

In between, he taught public speaking at John Adams High School in the Ozone Park section of Queens. This means he could, arguably, have had, as one of his students, my Grandma. (Sadly, family concerns forced her to drop out, so she never did graduate.  And I didn’t find out about the possibility until after both of them had died, so I could ask either if Grandma had been taught by Sheppard.)

When the NFL had a team called the Brooklyn Dodgers, speech professor Sheppard did the public-address announcements for their games. Football Dodgers owner, and Yankees co-owner, Dan Topping heard this, and asked Sheppard to do the Yankees’ games. He accepted, and from 1951 until 2007, he hardly ever missed a game. Ill health forced him to miss the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but… 57 years! On top of that, from 1956 to 2005, 50 years, he did the football Giants’ games.

Sheppard was a generous gentleman and a complete professional, from sounding like an announcer, not a shameless shill (unlike such braying animals as Bob Casey of the Minnesota Twins, may he rest in peace, and Ray Clay of the Chicago Bulls); to accepting with humility the appellation that Reggie Jackson gave him: “The Voice of God.”

Such was the appeal of Sheppard, and such is the pull of Derek Jeter, that Jeter asked that a recording of Sheppard introduce him before every at-bat, for the rest of his career, even after Sheppard died, which happened in 2010, just short of his 100th birthday.  (A recording of Sheppard was also used, a few weeks ago, to introduce Mariano Rivera when he came out for his final big-league appearance.)

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October 12, 1913, 100 years ago: Following the World Series, which his New York Giants lost to the A’s, John McGraw hosts a reunion for Hughie Jennings and the old NL version of the Baltimore Orioles, 20 years after their first Pennant.

After a night of heavy drinking‚ McGraw blames his longtime friend‚ business partner and teammate Wilbert Robinson, perhaps baseball’s first great pitching coach, for too many coaching mistakes in the 1913 Series. “Uncle Robbie” replies that McGraw made more mistakes than anybody. McGraw fires him. Eyewitnesses say Robbie doused McGraw with a glass of beer and left.

Six days later, Robbie will begin a legendary 18 years as manager of the crosstown Brooklyn franchise‚ replacing Bill Dahlen. The team will carry the nickname Robins‚ as well as Dodgers‚ during his tenure. Robbie and Mac won’t speak to each other for 17 years, and after winning 3 straight Pennants together, McGraw will win just 1 Pennant in the next 7 years, while Robbie will win 2 — the only Pennants the Brooklyn team will win between 1900 and 1941.

This is not the beginning of the rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers, not by a long shot.  That rivalry had its beginning in rivalries between clubs of New York (Manhattan) and Brooklyn when they were separate cities prior to 1898, even going back to the days of amateur baseball in the 1850s and ’60s.  And the rivalry between Manhattan and Brooklyn would have happened even if baseball had never been invented.

But the McGraw-Robinson bustup is the beginning of a rivalry that ruined one of baseball’s great friendships, not resolved until both men were retired and near death. Still, they both ended up in the Hall of Fame – neither lived to see the Hall’s establishment, though – and are buried in the same Baltimore cemetery.  Somebody should write a book about it: We’ve seen books about the Giants, about the Dodgers, about the Dodger-Giant rivalry, about McGraw, and even about the old Orioles — but the McGraw-Robinson relationship is a fascinating one.  They’re like the John Adams and Thomas Jefferson of baseball: Great friends in a great cause, then a nasty split and a nastier rivalry, and ultimately the relationship was repaired and the great friendship restored toward the end.

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October 12, 1916: The Red Sox defeat the Dodgers/Robins, 4-1, and win the World Series by the same margin. After winning back-to-back World Series – still the only manager in the history of Boston baseball to do so – Bill Carrigan announces his retirement. He will return to the post in 1927, but, without future Hall-of-Famers such as Speaker, Harry Hooper and, uh, Babe Ruth, he will finish at the bottom of the American League instead of the top.

October 12, 1920: The Cleveland Indians win their first World Series, in Game 7 of the best-5-out-of-9 Series, 3-0 over Uncle Robbie’s Dodgers/Robins, as Stan Coveleski outduels fellow future Hall-of-Famer Burleigh Grimes for his 3rd win of the Series. It will be 21 years before the Dodgers get back into the Series; for the Indians, 28 years.

October 12, 1929: Game 4 of the 1929 World Series, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, remains one of the wildest in postseason history. Having started a seemingly washed-up Howard Ehmke in Game 1 and having it work, Connie Mack starts 45-year-old Jack Quinn.

This seems to work, too, until the 6th, when the Chicago Cubs start scoring. By the time they stop, they lead, 7-0. Cub manager Joe McCarthy starts Charlie Root, who would later become a victim of McCarthy’s Yankees, including Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” though this quirk of history/legend does not do Root justice, as he was a fine pitcher for many years. Root enters the bottom of the 7th with an 8-0 lead.

Then the A’s come storming back. Hack Wilson, a great slugger but not the best of outfielders even when not drunk or hungover, misjudges a fly ball from Mule Haas, and it turns into a 3-run inside-the-park home run, making the score 8-7 Cubs. One of the runners scoring on the play is Al Simmons, and the great slugger storms into the dugout, yelling, “We’re back in the game, boys!” and his momentum causes him to crash into Mack – already 67 years old, if not the elderly figure most of us imagine him to have always been. Simmons apologizes profusely, but Mack, a former big-league catcher and familiar with ballplayers crashing into him, is just as enthused and tells him, “That’s all right, Al.”

The A’s score a Series record 10 runs in the inning, and ace Lefty Grove comes in to relieve and finish the Cubs off, as 10-8 remains the final score. The A’s close down the shellshocked Cubs the next day.

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October 12, 1938, 75 years ago: Leo Durocher, already the Brooklyn Dodgers’ shortstop, is named their manager. He will hold the post for nearly 10 years, nearly all of them controversial.

He had previously been a virtual coach on the field for Frankie Frisch on the St. Louis Cardinals when they won their “Gashouse Gang” World Series in 1934. However, unlike Joe Cronin in Boston, Durocher would recognize that his shortstop skills were fading, and allow Pee Wee Reese, whom the Dodgers had purchased from the Red Sox, to succeed him in the field and in the lineup.

October 12, 1944: Frank Sinatra appears at the Paramount Theater in New York’s Times Square. About 25,000 others, mostly teenage girls – “bobbysoxers” in the lingo of the day – were turned away, and vented their frustrations by smashing store windows.

It becomes known as the Columbus Day Riot, and for those Sinatra fans who grew up to have kids screaming over Elvis Presley and/or the Beatles, complaining that they never acted that way over a musical act they liked, well, guess what, old-timers, you did.

Just as One Direction ain’t no Beatles, and Justin Timberlake ain’t no Elvis, singers from Bobby Darin to Harry Connick Jr. to Sean Combs have deluded themselves, but none of them is in Sinatra’s league. The man has more charisma dead than any of them do alive.

What does this have to do with sports? Well, by itself, nothing. But Sinatra was a big sports fan. He sang “There Used to Be a Ballpark” about Ebbets Field, although he remained a Dodger fan after they moved to L.A. He was a great boxing fan who talked Life magazine into making him their official photographer for the 1971 “Super Fight” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier – and, I have to say, he knew what he was doing: He took good pictures. And on a Pittsburgh Steeler roadtrip to San Diego, the Steeler fan club known as “Franco’s Italian Army” (named after the half-black, half-Italian running back Franco Harris) invited Sinatra, then living in nearby Palm Springs, and offered to make him an “Honorary General” in the Army. Although he had no connection to Pittsburgh, he posed for pictures with them and accepted a helmet with generals’ stars on it.

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October 12, 1948: The Yankees hire Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel as their manager. Stengel had just managed the Oakland Oaks – including former star big-league catcher Ernie Lombardi and a 20-year-old sparkplug local boy from West Berkeley named Billy Martin – to the Pacific Coast League Pennant, so chances were that some big-league team would have snapped him up if the Yankees didn’t.

But his two previous big-league managing jobs, with the Dodgers (managing them in between Uncle Robbie and Leo the Lip) and the Boston Braves, were terrible. In Brooklyn in 1935, it was quipped that overconfidence might cost the Dodgers 6th place. In Boston in 1943, Casey was slightly injured when hit by a cab, and one sportswriter called the driver the man who had done the most for Boston baseball that season.

He was 58 years old in 1948, and, like Connie Mack, he always looked even older than he was. And he had a reputation as a “clown,” for such antics as tipping his cap and letting a bird fly out from under it, and protesting the weather to an umpire by walking out of the dugout with an umbrella. This was not a man who would manage “the Yankee way,” sportswriters said.

Then again, Casey really didn’t have the players in Flatbush or in Allston. Once he proved everyone wrong by winning the 1949 Pennant, he said, with a mixture of pride and humility, “I couldn’t have done it without my players.” Finally having the horses, Casey went on to manage the Yankees for 12 years, winning 10 Pennants and 7 World Series. He then managed the Mets in their first 4 years, 1962-65.

He is still the most successful manager in baseball history. He was fast-tracked to election to the Hall of Fame after his retirement, the Yankees dedicated a Plaque in Monument Park to his memory, and he lived to see both the Yankees and the Mets retire his Number 37.

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October 12, 1954: The AL owners approve the shift of the Philadelphia Athletics franchise to Kansas City. Roy and Earle Mack, sons of the now-senile Connie Mack, sell the A’s to Arnold Johnson, a Chicago-based trucking magnate, 25 years to the day after the team’s magnificent 10-run inning in the ’29 World Series.

Johnson’s bid is $3‚375‚000 for the team and stadium‚ Shibe Park, recently renamed Connie Mack Stadium. He says he will sell the stadium to the Phillies for $1‚675‚000, although Phils owner Bob Carpenter, a very wealthy man as a member of both the Carpenter and the duPont families, says, “I need Shibe Park like I need a hole in the head.”

One of the offers for the team is from a wealthy Texas group that proposes to move the A’s to Los Angeles, but Kansas City, long a hotbed of minor league and Negro League baseball, gets major league status for the first time since the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League in 1915 – or, if you don’t count that, since the Kansas City Cowboys of the old American Association in 1889.

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October 12, 1955: The St. Louis Cardinals fire manager Harry “the Hat” Walker, and replace him with former big-league pitcher Fred Hutchinson. Walker, like his brother Fred “Dixie” Walker, a former Dodgers slugger, was a really good hitter in his day, but he was not such a good manager. (He would, however, return to the Cards as a coach, and later manage the Pittsburgh Pirates, and would also take the Houston Astros to their first Pennant race in 1969.) But his day as a player was done.

He had used himself as a pinch-hitter in the ’55 season, but his firing means that, for the first time in the history of baseball, there are no current player-managers.

Frank Robinson (’75 & ’76 Indians), Joe Torre (’77 Mets), Don Kessinger (’79 White Sox) and Pete Rose (’85 and ’86 Reds) would briefly be player-managers, before Robinson, Torre and Rose retired as players and Kessinger was fired (and subsequently retired as a player).  But, from this point forward, player-managers would be frowned upon. The last player-manager to get his team into a Pennant race was Lou Boudreau with the ’51 Red Sox. The last to win a Pennant, much less a World Series, was Boudreau with the ’48 Indians.

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October 12, 1965: Following the departure of the Braves for Atlanta, a Milwaukee-based used-car salesman founds Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, Inc., named for the former minor-league team from the city, in the hopes of attracting an expansion team or buying an existing team and moving it to the Beer City.

The salesman’s name is Allan Huber Selig Jr. Yes, Bud Selig. He bought the Seattle Pilots on the eve of the 1970 season, moved them, and renamed them the Milwaukee Brewers, and has been Commissioner of Baseball since 1992.  This, after starting out as a used-car salesman. He had become rich and famous by selling cars to the Braves players, including selling rookie catcher Joe Torre his first car.

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October 12, 1967: Baseball and the Summer of Love converge on Fenway Park in Boston for Game 7 of the World Series, as a fan holds up a sign saying, “THE RED SOX ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.”

But the prediction made the day before, after a Game 6 win, by Sox manager Dick Williams, of “Lonborg and champagne,” does not happen: On only 2 days’ rest, Gentleman Jim has nothing, and gets shelled.  Even opposing pitcher Bob Gibson, himself on only 3 days rest (and having won Game 7 in ’64 on just two) hits a home run off him. The Cardinals win, 7-2, for Gibson’s 3rd win of the Series, the team’s 2nd title in 4 seasons, and their 7th World Championship.

For the Red Sox, “the Impossible Dream” came to an end one game too soon, but the season did revitalize the franchise, restoring its profitability and its place of veneration among the people of New England. They lost the World Series, but they cannot be called a failure. Without this season, the Red Sox might have ended up leaving Fenway Park, sharing a stadium out in Foxboro with the NFL’s Patriots. Or owner Tom Yawkey, who really wanted out of Fenway, might have moved them out of Boston entirely.

So, even more than 2004, this is the most important season in Red Sox history. Years later, after the Red Sox failures of 1975, ’78 and ’86, but before the tainted triumphs of 2004 and ’07, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy would write that, of all Red Sox teams, this one is absolved from criticism by “Red Sox Nation” – which, he says, essentially began that summer.

By the same – pardon my choice of words here – token, this was an incredibly important season in St. Louis. The holdovers from the 1964 season proved it was no fluke, and, much more so than the ’64 team, the ’67 team, with its mixture of white stars (Tim McCarver, Dal Maxvill and an aging but still power-hitting Roger Maris), black stars (Gibson, Lou Brock and Curt Flood) and Hispanic stars (Orlando Cepeda and Julian Javier) showed St. Louis, still thinking of itself as a Southern city, what integration could really do. Fans in Brooklyn had learned that 20 years earlier.

Yet, somehow, the 1964-68 Cards, as good as they were, have not been celebrated by Baby Boomers as much as have the 1950s and ’60s Yankees, the 1950s Dodgers, the ’60 and ’71 Pirates, the 1962-66 Dodgers, the 1962-66 Giants, the 1966-71 Orioles, the ’67 Red Sox, the ’68 Tigers and the ’69 Mets. Hopefully, that’s mainly because St. Louis was, and is, one of baseball’s smallest markets. Still, the Cardinals were then, and are now, one of baseball’s most profitable and most admired franchises.

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October 12, 1969: The Mets win a World Series game for the first time, taking Game 2 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Al Weis’ 9th-inning single breaks up a pitchers’ duel between the Mets’ Jerry Koosman (who is relieved in the bottom of the 9th by Ron Taylor) and the Orioles’ Dave McNally.

The film Frequency tells the fictional tale of an atmospheric phenomenon that allows a 1999 NYPD detective and Met fan, played by Jim Caviezel, to use his father’s old ham-radio set to talk to his father, a 1969 fireman, played by Dennis Quaid. October 12, 1969 was the day the father died in a fire, when the son was just 6, and the son is able to warn him from the future. The result is that the father, and the teenage girl he would have failed to rescue from the fire, get out alive.

But interfering with time means that, because she wasn’t preparing for her husband’s funeral, the cop’s mother, a nurse, saves the life of a serial killer who would otherwise have died, and several more women end up dying – including the mother herself, played by Elizabeth Mitchell (who, unlike Quaid, is actually younger than Caviezel).

Now, instead of having his mother but not his father from 1969 to 1999, he now has his father but not his mother from 1969 to 1989 – the father living long enough to see the son graduate from the police academy, but dying from smoking before the son makes Detective.

Using the ham radio, father and son, roughly the same age as each other, track down the killer, played by Shaun Doyle, a Canadian actor who appeared on the series Lost and Big Love, and now appears on the SyFy series Lost Girl.  He was so creepy in Frequency that he really should have played the Joker in The Dark Knight, and not just to save Heath Ledger’s life.  Seriously, look at his face and his hair (in the 1969 sequence) at the end of the film, and tell me he wouldn’t have made a good Joker.

The kicker is that, as a result of his 1969 confrontation with the killer, the father begins to be suspected for the killings (which do not yet include his wife) by a young cop, played by Andre Braugher, who will be the son’s mentor and boss in 1999.

The way the father gets out of this, and back on the killer’s trail, is that Game 5 of the Series is being shown on a TV behind them. Having been told what’s going to happen by his son from 30 years in the future, he tells the cop (whose nickname is Satch, after baseball legend Satchel Paige) about the Cleon Jones shoe-polish incident and the subsequent Donn Clendenon home run. When it happens, the cop realized the father really is telling the truth about these messages from his son from the future, releases him, and… well, you’ll just have to see the movie. It’s a fantastic thriller, and I highly recommend it – even though the Mets are glorified in it.

Also on this day, with a connection to the Mets, Jose Valentin is born in Manati, Puerto Rico. The infielder last played in the majors for the Mets in 2007, and his only trip to the postseason was with the AL Central Champion White Sox in 2000.  He now manages the Fort Wayne Tin Caps in the Class A Midwest League.

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October 12, 1970: Tanyon James Sturtze is born. Not a Yankee pitcher I care to say anything else about.  He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts — a “Manchurian Candidate” for the nearby Red Sox?

Charlie Ward is also born on this day, in Thomasville, Georgia. The 1993 Heisman Trophy winner led Florida State to that season’s National Championship, but no NFL team would draft him, so he played for the NBA’s Knicks, not for the Giants or the Jets. Which is too bad, because, for a time, when the Giants had Dave Brown and Kent Graham, and the Jets had Neil O’Donnell and Bubby Brister, Ward was the best quarterback in New York. He did, however, play in the 1999 NBA Finals for the Knicks.  He is now head coach of the football team at a private Christian high school in Houston.

Kirk Cameron is also born on this day, in Los Angeles. He has spent most his time since Growing Pains went off the air making Christian Fundamentalist-themed films, including the movie versions of the Left Behind fables. His sister Candace Cameron, one of the stars of Full House, married hockey star Valeri Bure (who also has a famous brother, hockey legend Pavel Bure).

October 12, 1972: The Oakland Athletics defeat the Detroit Tigers, 2-1, and take the American League Pennant. The winning run is scored by Reggie Jackson on the front end of a double-steal, but Reggie tears his hamstring, and is unable to play in the World Series. He will make up for that many times, as he is the only man to win World Series MVPs with two different teams, the A’s in ’73 and the Yankees in ’77.

October 12, 1977: The Dodgers pounce on aching Yankee starter Catfish Hunter, and win Game 2, 6-1, and tie up the Series. Billy Martin is criticized for putting Catfish on the mound when he’d been injured and hadn’t pitched in a month, but it allowed Billy to start Mike Torrez in Game 3, rookie sensation Ron Guidry in Game 4, and Don Gullett in Game 5, all on full rest.

During the ABC broadcast, the camera on the Goodyear blimp caught the image of an abandoned school on fire, just a few blocks east of Yankee Stadium. “There it is, ladies and gentlemen,” said ABC’s Howard Cosell. “The Bronx is burning.” This became the title of Jonathan Mahler’s book about life in New York City in 1977, and of the ESPN miniseries about it.

October 12, 1980: The Phillies win the Pennant with a 10-inning 8-7 win over the Astros in the deciding Game 5 at the Astrodome. Each of the last 4 games of this epic series was decided in extra innings. The Phils‚ down by 3 runs to Nolan Ryan in the 8th‚ rally to tie, and center fielder Garry Maddox makes up for his Playoff goof of 2 years earlier by doubling home the winning run and catching the final out.

Although Tug McGraw had been on the mound when the Phils clinched the Division in Montreal, and would be on the mound when they clinched the World Series at home 9 days later, he was already out of the Pennant-clincher before it ended. Dick Ruthven, the Phils’ Number 2 starter behind Steve Carlton, turned out to be the pitcher on the mound at the end. This was the Phils’ first Pennant in 30 years, and only the second by a Philadelphia team in 49.

October 12, 1982: The Milwaukee Brewers win the first World Series game the franchise has ever played, clobbering the Cardinals, 10-0 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Paul Molitor sets a Series record, becoming the first player to collect 5 hits in a game. Robin Yount gets 4 hits.

October 12, 1986: Game 5 of the ALCS. One loss away from elimination and trailing 5-2 entering the 9th‚ the Red Sox stage one of the most improbable comebacks in post-season history, winning 7-6 over the Angels in 11 innings.

After Don Baylor’s 9th-inning home run reduces the deficit to 5-4‚ reserve outfielder Dave Henderson slugs a 2-out‚ 2-run home run off Donnie Moore to give Boston a 6-5 lead. California ties the score with a run in the bottom of the 9th but Henderson‚ who had appeared to be the goat when he dropped Bobby Grich’s long fly ball over the fence for a home run in the 7th inning‚ delivers a sacrifice fly in the 11th for the winning run.

The Sox would win the Pennant 3 days later. Three years later, still despondent over having given up the home run that blew the Pennant for the Angels, Moore shot his wife, then himself. She lived, he didn’t. A loss in a baseball game may be a terrible disappointment, but there is a difference between disappointment, however great, and tragedy.

Henderson would also hit the home run that appeared to give the Sox Game 6 of the World Series, and their first title in 68 years. That they did not finish the job, and how they failed, has become legend. If they had, Henderson would have become a god in New England. That he is not is no fault of his.

He would later help Oakland with 3 straight Pennants, and he was invited to throw out the ceremonial first ball before Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS between the Red Sox and Angels. Unfortunately for the Sox, it didn’t work any more than the Yankees bringing out Bucky Dent to do the honors before Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS between the Yanks and the Sox.

October 12, 1987: The Minnesota Twins defeat the Detroit Tigers, 9-5, and win their first Pennant in 22 years. This was a major upset, as the Twins had won just 85 games in the regular season, and many people (including myself) were picking the Tigers to win it all. We did not reckon with the power of the Metrodome. Fortunately, the only people who will have to do so now are people whose favorite NFL team goes in there to play the Vikings.

This is the first Pennant ever won by a team playing its home games indoors — the Twins’ 1965 Pennant was won while they still played outdoors, in the suburb of Bloomington, at Metropolitan Stadium.

October 12, 1988, 25 years ago: Orel Hershiser shuts out the Mets, and the Dodgers win Game 7 and the Pennant, 6-0. New York – the National League “half” of it, anyway, the half that should have cared about this – finally had a chance to stick it to the evil O’Malley family, and they blew it. The Mets, whose fans did not realize that their “dynasty” had ended without really becoming one, would not return to the NLCS for 11 years – but that’s sooner than did the Dodgers, who waited 20 years.

October 12, 2003, 10 years ago: Joan Kroc, former owner of the San Diego Padres (inheriting them from her husband, McDonald’s tycoon Ray Kroc) dies at age 85. She had recently been the formerly “anonymous angel” who donated a huge sum to disaster relief when floods hit the Upper Midwest.

On this same day, the best possible thing that could happen in the Yanks-Red Sox ALCS does happen: Rain. An extra 24 hours gives everyone a chance to cool off a little.

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October 12, 2005: In Boston, it’s Larry Barnett (1975 World Series Game 3). In St. Louis, it’s Don Denkinger (1985 World Series Game 6). In Baltimore, it’s Rich Garcia (1996 ALCS Game 1).  In Atlanta, it’s Eric Gregg (1997 NLCS Game 5).  In Orange County, California, the most hated of all umpires is Doug Eddings.

Game 2 of the ALCS at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The Angels are up 1 game to 0 in the ALCS. Game 2 is tied 1-1 with the White Sox batting in the bottom of the 9th and 2 out. White Sox catcher A. J. Pierzynski faces Angels relief pitcher Kelvim Escobar, who quickly gets 2 strikes. Pierzynski swings at Escobar’s third pitch, a split-fingered fastball that comes in very low. Angels catcher Josh Paul says after the game, “I caught the ball, so I thought the inning was over.”

Eddings later said the ball had not been legally caught, but he made no audible call that the ball hit the ground. Pierzynski, already having had a reputation as a rough player, takes a couple of steps toward the dugout, but then, noticing that he had not heard himself called out, turns and runs to first base while most of the Angels are walking off the field. He makes it to first base safely.  A pinch-runner, Pablo Ozuna, replaces Pierzynski and steals second base, and scores on a base hit by third baseman Joe Crede for the winning run.

The controversy surrounding the play concerns both whether Eddings’ ruling that the ball hit the ground was correct, and the unclear mechanic for signaling the ruling. Eddings did not indicate no-catch signals during the game. In fact, in the 2nd inning of the same game, Eddings had ruled no catch on a 3rd strike to Garret Anderson of the Angels, but the White Sox were not aware of the ruling until Eddings called Anderson out as he entered the dugout. At the time, professional umpiring mechanics did not dictate a specific no-catch signal or a “no catch” verbalization after an uncaught third strike. A mechanic has subsequently been added.

After the game, Eddings explained his actions: “My interpretation is that was my ‘strike three’ mechanic, when it’s a swinging strike. If you watch, that’s what I do the whole entire game. … I did not say ‘No catch.’ If you watch the play, you do watch me — as I’m making the mechanic, I’m watching Josh Paul, and so I’m seeing what he’s going to do. I’m looking directly at him while I’m watching Josh Paul. That’s when Pierzynski ran to first base.”

Angels fans remain convinced that Eddings screwed them over and cost them a Pennant – and, since the ChiSox went on to sweep the Houston Astros in 4 straight, that Eddings also cost them the World Series. They are wrong: The video clearly shows the ball touching the ground, and Angels catcher Benjie Molina should have tried to throw Pierzynski out at first. He didn’t, therefore Pierzynski was entitled to the base. Eddings was right, and Pierzynski acted within the rules of the game.

And here’s the key: The series was still tied. While the next 3 games were going to be in Chicago, theoretically the Angels still had as much chance to win the Pennant as the Pale Hose did. They could have shut their traps, gotten their acts together, and gone out and won Game 3 in Chicago, taken a 2-1 lead in the series, and it would have been a very different story. Instead, like the ’85 Cards on the Denkinger/Jorge Orta play, and like the ’78 Dodgers on the Reggie Jackson “hip-check” play, they let the incident get into their heads. They lost 3 straight and the Pennant. They did not deserve to win that one. The White Sox, thinking clearly, did.

October 12, 2010: Behind the complete-game effort by Cliff Lee, the Texas Rangers beat Tampa Bay, 5-1, in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field, for the 1st Playoff series victory in franchise history. They are the last major league club to accomplish the task — unless you count the fact that the Montreal Expos, who did it in the strike-forced split-season format of 1981, still haven’t done it since they became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

The Rangers, who will take on the Yankees for the AL flag, lost their three previous playoff appearances with first-round losses to the Bronx Bombers in 1996 and 1998-99.

October 12, 2012: The biggest game in Washington baseball in 79 years is Game 5 of the NLDS at Nationals Park.  The Nationals lead the Cardinals, 7-5 going into the 9th inning.

But Nats reliever Drew Storen implodes, allowing a double to Carlos Beltran, a walk to Yadier Molina, another walk to David Freese, a single to Daniel Descalso, a stolen base by Descalso, and a single to Pete Kozma.  The Nats go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, and the Cards win, 9-7, and advance to the NLCS.  The Nats went from having, according to Baseball-Reference.com, a 93 percent chance of winning the game to losing it.

The Nats had shut down ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg for the season after September 7, at which point he had pitched 159 innings.  I wonder what Nats management would have given to have Strasburg pitch to just 1 batter: Descalso, when there were 2 outs and the score was still 7-5.  Keeping Strasburg off the postseason roster was a major blunder.

But, hey, Strasburg came back strong in 2013, didn’t he? Not really: He threw 183 innings, and had a 3.00 ERA and a 1.049 WHIP, but was only 8-9, after going 15-6 the year before.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Happy Jeffrey Maier Day! October 9 is a Great Day in Yankee History

I hear there was a “Jeffrey Maier moment” in last night’s ALDS game between Detroit and Oakland.

This was one day before the anniversary of the original “Jeffrey Maier moment.”

This is an update of a post I put on the previous version of my blog.  As you’ll see, for the most part, October 9 has been a very good day in Yankee history.

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October 9, 1996: Game 1 of the American League Championship Series is held at the original Yankee Stadium. The Yankees trail the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th. The big, scowling, fearsome Armando Benitez is on the mound for the Orioles. He does not yet have a repuation as a pitcher who chokes in the clutch. He is about to get one.

He pitches to Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ rookie shortstop. Jeter, as later fans might guess, uses an inside-out swing to send the ball to right-center field. Oriole right fielder Tony Tarasco goes back, stands at the fence, and holds up his glove.

Tarasco is an idiot. Take a look at the tape: His glove wasn’t lined up right. He played it totally wrong. It’s baseball’s “Zapruder Film”: Instead of falling into his glove, it would have hit the fence above him and to his right — or from the view of the TV fan, “back and to the left.” It would have been at least a double, possibly a triple, putting the tying run in scoring position.

Except that’s not what happened. Jeffrey Maier, a 12-year-old fan from Old Tappan, Bergen County, New Jersey, ran over, and reached out with his glove. The ball hit his glove, and as he tried to pull it into the stands, he lost control of it. That’s right, he didn’t even get the ball.

Umpire Rich Garcia ruled it a home run, tying the game. Tarasco was furious. Oriole manager Davey Johnson — at the moment, still the last man to manage a New York team to a Pennant, the 1986 Mets — runs out to protest. To no avail.

In the bottom of the 11th, Randy Myers, who had pitched for Johnson on the ’86 Mets and had won a World Series under Lou Piniella for the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, pitched to Bernie Williams, the star of the Yanks’ AL Division Series win over the Texas Rangers. On radio station WABC, John Sterling said this:

“Theeee pitch, swung, and it’s driven to deep left! It is high! It is far! Iiiiiiiit… is gone! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!”

It wasn’t the first time Sterling had used the line, but it was the first time I’d heard him drag it out that much.

Yankees 5, Orioles 4. After the game, the media asked Yankee manager Joe Torre about the fan-assisted Jeter home run. Without missing a beat, or changing his expression, The Man of One Face said, “Did anybody see Bernie’s home run? That wasn’t all bad.” Laughter in the press room.

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The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Jeffrey Maier for the Baltimore Orioles losing the 1996 American League Pennant

5. Tony Tarasco. He blew the play. If he had tracked the ball properly, he would have gotten under it and jumped for it. Jeffrey Maier probably saved him from being the biggest goat in the history of Baltimore sports. Tarasco still owes Maier a steak dinner, in my opinion. At the very least, now that Maier is about to turn 29, he could buy him a beer.

4. Bernie Williams. He not only hit the Game 1 winner, but torched the O’s in Games 3 and 4 in Baltimore as well.

3. The Bullpens. The Yankees had Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson and a rookie named Mariano Rivera setting up John Wetteland. The Orioles had Benitez setting up Myers.

2. The Managers. Joe Torre kept his cool. Davey Johnson didn’t. He got so upset over the call that his anger spread to his team. He could have calmed them down afterward and said, “Aw, forget it. We got screwed, but it’s just one game. If we win Game 2 here tomorrow, we can come home with a tie and in great shape to take this thing. Put it out of your minds and win tomorrow.” He didn’t.

This wasn’t the first such example in postseason history, and it hasn’t been the last. Frankly, I think the Mets won that 1986 in spite of Johnson, not because of any leadership he provided. A better manager, and the Mets might have won the Pennant in 1988, too, and at least won the National League East in 1985, 1987 and 1990.

1. The Yankees Were Better. They did win the Division (the Orioles had won the Wild Card), they didn’t need steroids (the Orioles had Rafael Palmeiro, who was caught, and Brady Anderson, who has never been publicly outed but whose season and career fit the profile), and they won all 3 games at Camden Yards.

The next season, the Cleveland Indians would win 2 of the 3 ALCS games in Baltimore. The Orioles have a record of 1-5 in ALCS games played at Camden Yards. Or, to put it another way, they have won just 1 home game in ALCS play in the last 28 years. If you can’t defend your home field in the Playoffs, you have no right to blame a kid in the stands at an away game. The Yankees proved they were better going on to win that Pennant, a stretch of 6 Pennants and 4 World Championships in 8 years. The O’s? Still looking for their first Pennant since Ronald Reagan’s first term.

Jeffrey Maier went on to play baseball at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he became the school’s all-time hits leader. He served as an extra and assisted with baseball skills training for the actors in ESPN’s miniseries about the 1977 Yankees, The Bronx is Burning. He now works with Internet IaaS company DynDNS in Manchester, New Hampshire. Yes, Jeffrey Maier works in “Red Sox Nation.”

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October 9, 1886: Richard Marquard is born. Known as “Rube” because he was a lefty fireballer similar to Rube Waddell, the New York Giants signed him for $11,000, a record for the time. When he got off to a rough start in the majors, the press called him “the $11,000 Lemon.” But he led the National League in strikeouts in 1911, helping the Giants win the Pennant, and he became “the $11,000 Beauty.”

In 1912 he won 19 consecutive games, leading the Giants to another Pennant. They won another in 1913, and he won Pennants with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1916 and 1920 – making him the first player, and one of the very few, ever to win Pennants for two NL teams in New York. (None ever did with either the Dodgers or Giants, and the Mets.) But his teams went 0-5 in World Series play. He was 3rd all-time in strikeouts by a lefthander upon his retirement, trailing only Waddell and Eddie Plank, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

October 9, 1887: The St. Louis Browns (forerunners of the National League Cardinals, rather than of the American League team that became the Baltimore Orioles) end their American Association Pennant season with a 95-40 record‚ besting their 1886 record by 2 wins. This will not be topped until the adoption of the 154-game schedule.

Also, Guy Hecker of the Louisville Colonels, who went 52-20 pitching for the Colonels in 1884, and usually played 1st base when he wasn’t pitching, becomes the first 1st baseman to play a 9-inning game with no fielding chances. The Colonels lose 2-0 to the Cincinnati Red Stockings (later to become the Reds) and finish 4th in the AA. Hecker finished his career with a .282 batting average and 175 pitching wins, and lived on until 1938, age 82.

October 9, 1890: The National League, the American Association, and the insurgent Players’ League, both hit hard financially by their three-way “war” for players and fans, reach a truce. The PL folds, and their players are welcomed back to their former teams at their former salaries.

The NL survives to this day. The AA, however, is mortally wounded, and folds after one more season. This brings a vacuum that is filled by the American League in 1901. In 1902, a new American Association will be formed, at the highest minor-league level.

October 7, 1906: Snow flies at the West Side Grounds as the first one-city World Series opens with the Cubs heavy favorites over the AL’s “Hitless Wonders.” Neither ballpark can accommodate the crowds‚ so the Chicago Tribune recreates the games on mechanical boards displayed at theaters. White Sox starter Nick Altrock and Cubs starter Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown give up 4 hits each‚ but Cubs errors produce 2 unearned runs for a 2-1 White Sox victory.

There will not be another World Series game played in snow for 91 years. As you might guess, that one was also played in a Great Lakes city, Cleveland.

October 9, 1907: For the first, and perhaps only, time in World Series history, the hidden-ball trick is successfully tried. In Game 2 at Chicago’s West Side Grounds, Detroit Tigers third baseman Bill Coughlin tags out Cub center fielder Jimmy Slagle, who is leading off the base.

October 9, 1909: Ty Cobb’s steal of home is the highlight Tigers’ 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, that knots the World Series at one game apiece. The Georgia Peach swipes home plate 54 times during his career, a major league record. This is the only time, however, that home plate will be stolen in a World Series game for 42 years.

October 9, 1910: The battle for the American League batting title is decided on the final day of the regular season‚ when Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers edges Nap Lajoie of the Cleveland… Naps. (Seriously, the team was named after their star 2nd baseman and manager. They would be renamed the Indians in 1915.) Cobb’s final average is .3851, Lajoie’s .3841.

Neither man covers himself with glory. Lajoie goes 8-for-8 in a doubleheader with the St. Louis Browns‚ accepting six gift hits on bunt singles on which Browns rookie third baseman Red Corriden is apparently purposely stationed at the edge of the outfield grass. The prejudiced St. Louis scorer also credits popular Nap with a “hit” on the Brownie shortstop Bobby Wallace’s wild throw to first. In Lajoie’s last at-bat‚ he is safe at first on an error call‚ but is credited with a sac bunt since a man was on.

The St. Louis Post is just one of the papers to be openly critical of the move against Cobb. “All St. Louis is up in arms over the deplorable spectacle‚ conceived in stupidity and executed in jealousy.” The Browns win the opener‚ 5-4‚ and Cleveland takes the nightcap‚ 3-0, with both managers‚ Jack O’Connor and Jim Maguire catching. O’Connor is behind the plate for just an inning‚ but Maguire goes all the way.

Cobb‚ meanwhile‚ rather than risk his average‚ sits out the last two games‚ the Tigers beating the White Sox in the finale‚ 2-1. AL President Ban Johnson investigates and clears everyone concerned‚ enabling Cobb to win the 3rd of 9 straight batting crowns.

The embarrassed Chalmers Auto Company, which had promised a brand-new car to the winner of the batting title, awards cars to both Ty and Nap.

In 1981, The Sporting News uncovers an error, crediting a 2-for-3 game to Cobb twice, that‚ if corrected‚ would give the title to Lajoie. But the commissioner’s committee votes unanimously to leave history unchanged.  This reduced Cobb’s career hit total from 4,191 to 4,189 (thus meaning that Pete Rose broke the record 3 days before we thought he did, although it was still celebrated at 4,192), and his lifetime batting average from .367 to .366.

In case you’re wondering, Cobb had the better on-base percentage, .456 to .445; the higher slugging percentage, .551 to .514; the higher OPS, 1.008 to .960; and the higher OPS+, 206 to 199. And neither Detroit nor Cleveland seriously challenges the Philadelphia Athletics for the Pennant.

October 9, 1913, 100 years ago: In Game 3 of the World Series, rookie right-hander Joe Bush throws a complete game, limiting the Giants to five hits in the A’s 8-2 victory at the Polo Grounds. At the age 20 years and 316 days, “Bullet Joe” is the youngest pitcher to start a game in the Fall Classic, 40 days sooner than Jim Palmer in 1966 and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

October 9, 1915: Woodrow Wilson becomes the first incumbent President to attend a World Series game. He and his fiancee Edith Galt come to Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, and see Boston Red Sox hurler Rube Foster limit the Phillies to just three hits, and single home the winning run himself in the bottom of the 9th, to win Game 2, 2-1.

It’s not clear what team Wilson usually rooted for, although he did teach at Bryn Mawr University, near Philly, and attended Princeton University, taught there, and was its President, before becoming Governor of New Jersey; and, from 1887 onward, when the predecessor ground to Baker Bowl opened, the Phillies were the closest team to Princeton, closer even than the Athletics.

Two months later, Wilson, widowed a year and a half earlier, marries Edith, becoming the 3rd President to marry while in office, following then-widower John Tyler in 1844 and then-bachelor Grover Cleveland in 1886. (There has not been a 4th.)

Due to the Washington Senators bringing the World Series to the nation’s capital, Calvin Coolidge — who hates baseball, but his wife Grace loves it — will attend the World Series in 1924 and ’25. Herbert Hoover will be cheered at Shibe Park in Philadelphia when throwing out the first ball of a 1929 Series game, but in 1930, after the Wall Street crash, with the Great Depression well underway and Prohibition still in effect, becomes the first President ever booed at a baseball game, with fans also chanting, “We want beer!” Franklin Roosevelt attended Game 2 of the 1936 World Series between the Yankees and Giants at the Polo Grounds.

In 1956, on back-to-back days at Ebbets Field, Dwight D. Eisenhower, running for re-election, attends Game 1, while his opponent Adlai Stevenson attends Game 2. There will not be another President attending a World Series game until Jimmy Carter is at Game 7 in Baltimore in 1979 — not quite making up for the fact that he is the only President since William Howard Taft started the tradition in 1910 not to attend an Opening Day game and throw out the first ball to symbolically start the season. While Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all attended some big games while in office, George W. Bush, in Game 3 in 2001, remains the only President in the last 32 years and 1 of only 3 in the last 81 years to do so. Barack Obama, are you listening?

October 9, 1916: The longest game in World Series history is played. Both pitchers go the distance: Sherry Smith of the Dodgers and… Babe Ruth of the Red Sox. In the 2nd, Hy Myers hits an inside-the-park home run, the only round-tripper hit off Ruth the entire season. The Red Sox finally win the game in the bottom of the 14th, and Ruth’s streak of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched is underway.

In 1986, an NLCS game went 16 innings. In 2005, 89 years later to the day (as you’ll see when you read on), an NLDS game went 18. But going into the 2009 Fall Classic, 14 remains the World Series record.

October 9, 1919: The Cincinnati Reds defeat the Chicago White Sox, 10-5, taking Game 8 and the best-5-out-of-9 World Series. It is the first World Championship for Cincinnati – or, at least, the first since the unofficial one for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly professional baseball team, in 1869, half a century earlier.

Sox pitcher Lefty Williams gets one man out in the first before departing. The Reds lead 4-0‚ and go on to give Hod Eller plenty of offense. White Sox left fielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson hits the only home run of the Series. Eddie Collins’ 3 hits give him a total of 42 in Series play‚ a record broken in 1930 by Frank Frisch‚ and bettered by Lou Gehrig in 1938. A stolen base by Collins is his 14th in Series competition‚ a record tied by Lou Brock in 1968.

How could the White Sox have lost? Everybody said they were the superior team. Actually, while the ChiSox were more experienced – they had won the Series two years earlier – but they had won 88 games that season; the Reds, 95. And the Reds had Hall-of-Famer Edd Roush, and several players who would have been multiple All-Stars had there been an All-Star Game at the time. Still, everybody seemed to think the Sox were better. And yet, the betting shifted to make the Reds the favorites. What had happened?

On September 28, 1920, eight White Sox players were indicted for conspiracy to throw the Series: Jackson, Williams, pitcher Eddie Cicotte, right fielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch, first baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil, shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg, reserve infielder Fred McMullin (only in on the fix because he overheard Felsch and Gandil talking about it), and third baseman George “Buck” Weaver (who refused to take part, but was indicted because he knew about it and refused to report it). Although all were acquitted, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned them all permanently.

For the rest of their lives, Roush and the other ’19 Reds insisted that, if the Series had been on the up-and-up, they would have won anyway. Except that, down 4 games to 1 in that best-of-9, the Sox won Games 6 and 7 because the gamblers hadn’t come through with their payments, and Williams only caved in for Game 8 because his wife and children had been threatened if he did not comply. Williams was 0-3 for the Series, a record not achieved honestly until 1981 and George Frazier of the Yankees.

Trust me on this one: If you want to get closer to the facts of the case, see the film Eight Men Out; but if you want to see a movie that makes you feel good, see the factually-challenged but beautiful Field of Dreams.

October 9, 1928: At Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, the Yankees beat the Cardinals, 7-3, completing their 2nd consecutive sweep of the World Series. The Bronx Bombers, who win the 3rd World Championship in franchise history, live up to their name as they slug 5 homers in the game, a feat which will not be matched until 1989 when Oakland does it against San Francisco. Three of the homers are hit by Babe Ruth, who had done it at the same park 2 years earlier. This time, though, the Yankees win.

In 2009, seeing Hideki Matsui collect 6 RBIs, including a home run, in Game 6, Yankee broadcaster John Sterling cited the only other player to hit 3 homers in a Series game, and asked his listeners, “Has anybody, outside of Reggie Jackson, ever had a better Series-clinching game?” Yes. But only one. The Great Bambino.

October 9, 1934: Before the proceedings began, Cardinal pitcher Jay “Dizzy” Dean said of himself and his brother and teammate, Paul “Daffy” Dean, “Me an’ Paul are gonna win this here World Series.” Diz was right: All 4 St. Louis wins had one of the Dean brothers as the Cards pound the Detroit Tigers in Game 7, 11-0 at Navin Field.

In the bottom of the 6th, Cardinal slugger Joe Medwick slides hard into third base, and is tagged hard by Marv Owen. Medwich then kicks Owen; the official World Series highlight film clearly shows it. A fight results, and when Medwick goes out to left field for the bottom of the 6th, Tiger fans start throwing things at him. Wadded-up programs. Hot dogs. Pieces of fruit. This goes on for minute after minute.

Finally, Commissioner Landis asks the umpires to call Medwick over, as well as the opposing managers, both player-managers wearing Number 3: Cardinal shortstop Frankie Frisch and Tiger catcher Mickey Cochrane. Landis, a former federal Judge, asks Medwick if he kicked Owen. Medwick confesses. Landis removes him from the game, he says, not for disciplinary reasons but “for his own safety.”

Afterward, Medwick, no dummy, says, “I understood why they threw all that food at me. What I don’t understand is why they brought it to the ballpark in the first place.” It was the left-field bleacher section at Navin Field, later replaced by the double-decked stands that formed the Tiger Stadium we knew. Those seats were the last to be sold, and fans had lined up all morning, and had brought their breakfast and lunch. In the off-season, Cardinal general manager Branch Rickey refuses to give Medwick, his best hitter, a raise. Medwick says, “Mr. Rickey thinks I can live for a year on the food that the Detroit fans threw at me.”

Joe Medwick was a graduate of Carteret High School, Class of 1929, a three-sport star. A Middlesex County Park, stretching through Carteret and the Avenel section of Woodbridge, is named in his honor. He is one of 5 people who grew up in New Jersey who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, one of 3 born in the State, and the only one from Central Jersey, let alone from Middlesex County. I don’t think Medwick, Newark native Billy Hamliton, Salem native Goose Goslin, raised-in-East Orange Monte Irvin and raised-in-Paterson Larry Doby are going to be joined by any HOFers anytime soon. The only two New Jersey-born active players to have even made an All-Star team are Andrew Bailey, the Voorhees native who made it as a rookie pitcher for this year’s A’s, and a kid born in Pequannock and living in West Milford, but his family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan when he was 4. Derek Jeter.

October 9, 1938, 75 years ago: The Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs, 8-3, and complete a four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium. It is the Yankees’ 7th World Championship, and their 3rd in a row. To this day, the only franchises that have more than 7 are the Cardinals with 10 and the A’s with 9 (and even then you have to combine the 5 from Philadelphia with the 4 from Oakland). And, to this day, the only franchises to have won 3 in a row are the Yankees and the 1972-74 A’s.

October 9, 1940: Joe Pepitone is born in Brooklyn. He will be a backup to Bill “Moose” Skowron at first base in 1962, and receive a World Series ring. The Yankees think so highly of Pepitone that they trade Moose before the 1963 season. Pepitone helps the Yankees win the 1963 and ’64 AL Pennants, and hits a grand slam in Game 6 of the ’64 World Series.

He was a New York kid playing for the local team, and he was good. Very good. He had a bit of a nose, and was actually balding, but you couldn’t tell while he was wearing a cap or a batting helmet. (He had two toupees: A small one for during games and a bigger “Guido” hairpiece for being out on the town.) Women wanted him, men wanted to be him. He was a matinee idol, and a hero to many, not just to his fellow Italian-Americans.

But, he would later admit, his father’s death left him depressed, and he looked for comfort in New York’s nightlife, in drinking and women. He still hit a few home runs, and he still won Gold Gloves at first base, although he switched to center field in 1967 and ’68 so that Mickey Mantle, with no DH in those days, could ease the strain on his legs by playing 1st base. But if you’re going to carouse like Mantle, you’d better be able to play like Mantle. Like all but maybe 20 men who have ever played the game, Pepitone was not at that level.

By 1970, he would no longer be a Yankee; by 1973, he would be out of the major leagues. He would do time on gun charges in 1988, although drug charges against him were dropped; and would have continued alcohol and marriage problems, arrested again in 1995. He has stayed out of trouble since then, and now lives on Long Island, getting by and then some at memorabilia shows. Still, he knows he could have been so much more, and he knows he blew it: He titled his 1975 autobiography Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud.

But what he did is no excuse for what Cosmo Kramer did in that episode of Seinfeld. He had no right to hit him with a pitch at that fantasy camp. For crying out loud, Joe was 53 years old! You don’t plunk a 53-year-old man!

Tony Conigliaro was a very similar player in Boston, but his career was curtailed by injury as much as by wasting his talent. New England fans have often suggested that, had he stayed healthy, Tony C would have been their Mantle. But now that Tony C is dead, and the Boston press no longer has to protect the popular, handsome, ethnic local boy, sordid details have come out. Perhaps Sox fans should consider that Conigliaro, rather than their Mantle, could have become their Pepitone.

There was also a famous musician born on this day, name of John Lennon. He would end up living in New York and being photographed wearing a Yankee cap as well. But apparently, Pepitone didn’t listen to Lennon, who seemed to believe that “All You Need Is Love.” What Pepitone could have been, we can only “Imagine.” (And, yes, I know there’s a Christian rock song titled “I Can Only Imagine.”)

October 9, 1944: The only all-St. Louis World Series ever ends as Emil Verban drives in 3 runs, and the Cardinals defeat the Browns 3-1, and win in 6 games. Within 10 years, the Browns will realize that the Cardinals will always be the Number 1 team in St. Louis, and move and take up the name of several previous teams in their new home town, the Baltimore Orioles.

The current Orioles are champions of the International League, despite Oriole Park having burned down on the 4th of July, necessitating a move to Municipal Stadium, a football stadium a few blocks away. A crowd of 52,833, then a record for a minor league game, sees the Orioles fall to the Louisville Colonels, 5-4 in Game 4 of the “Junior World Series.” But the Orioles would win the series in 6 games. This team, and how well it drew (it’s not the fault of the teams involved, but Sportsman’s Park seated only 30,804 people, so the Junior World Series brought in more fans than the senior version), rose Baltimore’s profile, and made its return to the majors for the first time since 1902 possible.

October 9, 1948: Behind the solid pitching of Steve Gromek, the Indians win pivotal Game 4 of the Fall Classic edging the Braves, 2-1, to take a 3-1 series lead. Larry Doby’s home run, the first by a black player in World Series history, provides the difference in the Tribe’s victory.

October 9, 1949: The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 10-6 at Ebbets Field, and win the World Series in 5 games. The two teams had combined to win Pennants in the only season in the history of the single-division Leagues, 1901 to 1968, that both League’s Pennants remained undecided on the last day of the regular season.

With Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Carl Furillo, rookies from 1947, and older players Pee Wee Reese and Gil Hodges, bolstered by the 1948 arrivals of Roy Campanella, Billy Cox, Preacher Roe and Carl Erskine, and 1949 arrival Don Newcombe, “the Boys of Summer” had arrived. But they were not ready to beat the Yankees. Once again, the Dodgers had to “Wait Till Next Year.” The Yankees, now winners of 12 World Championships, would enjoy many “next years” to come.

October 9, 1950: Brian Jay Downing is born in Los Angeles. A catcher for the Chicago White Sox, by 1981 he would be converted to an outfielder for the team then known as the California Angels.  In 1979, still a catcher, he batted .326, made the AL All-Star Team, and helped the Angels reach the postseason for the first time, as they won the AL West.  He also helped them win the AL West in 1982 and 1986, meaning that, assuming you don’t count their one-game Playoff loss the the Seattle Mariners in 1995, the Angels did not reach the postseason without Downing until 2002.

For a time, he was the Angels’ all-time home run leader, hitting 222 of his 275 career home runs for the Anaheim club. But he’s probably best known now for being the player whose home run Dave Henderson went over in the Red Sox’ incredible comeback in Game 6 of the 1986 ALCS.  He remained a pretty good player into his 40s: In 1990, ’91 and ’92, the last 2 with the Texas Rangers, he had OPS+’s of 138, 132 and 138 — his career OPS+ was 122.  Although nowhere near Cooperstown, he is a member of the Angels Hall of Fame.

October 9, 1956: Apparently, the perfect game pitched by Don Larsen the day before did not faze the Brooklyn Dodgers. Or maybe getting back to the cozy confines of Ebbets Field has given them a boost. Clem Labine goes the distance in Game 6, and then some. Enos Slaughter misjudges Jackie Robinson’s fly ball, and Jim Gilliam scores on the play. The Dodgers win, 1-0 in 10 innings. There will be a Game 7.

October 9, 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. This is the first World Championship for the Braves since the “Miracle Braves” in Boston 43 years earlier.

To this day, 56 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, even further than arch-rival Chicago is. The Brewers, have only made the postseason 4 times since they arrived in 1970, replacing the Braves who left 5 years earlier.

Still alive from the ’57 Braves: Hall of Fame right fielder Hank Aaron, catcher Del Crandall, 1st baseman Frank Torre (Joe’s brother), 2nd baseman Red Schoendienst, shortstop Felix Mantilla, Newark native infielder Bobby Malkmus, infielder Mel Roach, infielder Dick Cole, outfielder John DeMerit, and pitchers Gene Conley, Juan Pizarro, Taylor Phillips, Ray Crone and Joey Jay (who only appeared in 1 game that year, but would go on to become the ace of the 1961 Reds, and won their only victory in that year’s World Series against the Yankees).  Shortstop Johnny Logan died earlier this year, and left fielder Andy Pafko died just yesterday.

Conley is an interesting figure, the only man to be a member of a World Series winner and an NBA Champion.  A native of Oklahoma (a genuine “Okie from Muskogee”), but growing up in the Seattle area (being named All-State in baseball, basketball and track’s high jump, and graduating from Washington State), he relieved and won the 1955 All-Star Game, as a Brave in Milwaukee,

Although never really a great pitcher — he was just 9-9 for the ’57 titlists and a hideous 0-6 with a 4.88 ERA in their Pennant year of ’58, causing him to get traded — he did lead the NL in ERA+ (though no one knew it at the time) for the ’59 Phillies, and closed his career with the Red Sox — because he was also playing in Boston for the Celtics.  He played for them in 1952-53, left to play baseball, and returned in 1958-59.  He won 3 titles with the Celtics, 1959, ’60 and ’61; and closed his NBA career with the 1964 Knicks.  He is now 83 years old, retired from working in the paper industry, where he moved up to founding his own company in the Boston area, and lives in New Hampshire.

October 9, 1958: The Yankees complete a 3-games-to-1 comeback – only the 2nd in World Series history, after the 1925 Pirates – by gaining revenge on the Braves, 6-2 at Milwaukee County Stadium, and take their 18th World Championship.  After being defeated by former Yankee farmhand Burdette 3 times in the ’57 Series, this time the Yanks knock him out of the box in Game 7.

The Yankees would miss the World Series in 1959, but would be back in each of the next 5 years. The Braves, on the other hand, would not return to the Fall Classic for another 33 years, and by then would be in Atlanta. The City of Milwaukee would not get back for another 24 years, and then with the Brewers. This was also the first World Series to have its official highlight film in color.

Also born on this day, in Houston, is Mike Singletary, Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Singletary is also an ordained minister, like the late Reggie White, and it was Singletary who had the nickname “Minister of Defense” first.  After 2 seasons as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he is now an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings.

October 9, 1961: With the help of a pair of 5-run innings at Crosley Field, the Yankees win the World Series, beating the Reds in Game 5, 13-5. Johnny Blanchard, a reserve player who will collect 10 hits in 29 at-bats in five Fall Classics, hits 2 home runs and bats .400 en route to the Bronx Bombers’ 19th World Championship.

Mickey Mantle barely played in this Series, but Roger Maris hit an unofficial 62nd home run of the season, while Whitey Ford broke the record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the World Series, running his total to 30. The previous record? It was 29 2/3, set by a Boston Red Sox lefthander named… Babe Ruth.

Whitey would raise the record to 33 in 1962. Mariano Rivera would slightly break this record, pitching 33 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in postseason play, but not all of it in World Series play.

October 9, 1965: Following losses by Don Drysdale in Game 1 and Sandy Koufax in Game 2, the World Series moves out to Los Angeles, and Claude Osteen saves the Dodgers’ bacon, shutting out the Minnesota Twins, 4-0, and turning the Series around. Osteen had previously pitched for the Washington Senators – the expansion team that became the Texas Rangers, not the established Senators who became the Twins – and had a 5-0 career record against Minnesota coming into this game.

October 9, 1966: For the second consecutive day, the Orioles win a World Series game, 1-0, at home at Memorial Stadium, in a contest decided by a home run when Frank Robinson takes a Don Drysdale pitch deep over the left field fence in the fourth inning. The lone run being scored on a homer, for only the fifth time in the history of the Fall Classic, and the complete-game shutout thrown by Dave McNally, Baltimore completes a four-game sweep over the Dodgers.

It is the first World Championship won by a Baltimore baseball team in 70 years, since the original version of the Orioles won the 1896 National League Pennant. For the Dodgers, 33 consecutive innings without scoring a run is a Series record for futility. Their streak would run to 38 innings before they scored in the 5th inning of Game 1 of the 1974 World Series. For the Orioles, they have won Baltimore’s first World Championship of baseball since the old Orioles won the National League Pennant in 1896 – 70 years before.

Still alive from the ’66 O’s World Series roster: Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Brooks Robinson, Hall of Fame right fielder Frank Robinson, Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio (the only ring the White Sox legend ever won), Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer (the only man on all 3 Oriole World Champions: ’66, ’70 & ’83), 1st baseman John “Boog” Powell, center fielder Paul Blair (who would also win with the ’70 O’s and the ’77 and ’78 Yankees), 2nd baseman Davey Johnson (later the manager of the ’86 Mets), outfielder Russ Snyder, catcher Andy Etchebarren and pitcher Wally Bunker.

October 9, 1970: The Tigers trade the great but undisciplined pitcher Denny McLain to the Washington Senators in an 8-player deal that also sees outfielder Elliott Maddox‚ 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez‚ and pitcher Joe Coleman change teams. This ranks as one of Detroit’s best trades ever, as McLain will continue to be a pain in the ass to his managers and team management, and a should injury will end his career 2 years later.  Coleman would be a key to the Tigers’ 1972 AL East title, as would Rodriguez, who became one of the best-fielding 3rd basemen ever.

Maddox, who grew up in Union, New Jersey,  wouldn’t do much for his new team, before or after the Senators moved to become the Texas Rangers.  The Yankees bought him in 1974, and he had a good year, batting .303, playing sparkling defense in center field, and finishing 8th in the AL MVP voting.  But the next year, he slipped on the wet grass at Shea Stadium (where the Yankees were playing while Yankee Stadium was being renovated), and he was never the same player.  He sued the Yankees, the Mets, and the owner of Shea, the City of New York.  But since he knew the risk of playing on grass he knew to be wet, the court ruled against him.  Just before the ’77 season, the Yanks traded him to the Orioles for Blair.  Ironically, he would conclude his career with the Mets, playing 3 seasons at Shea before retiring in 1980, only 32.

Also on this day, Kenny Anderson is born in Queens. Raised in the LeFrak City housing project and a graduate of the famed Archbishop Molloy High School, he went to Georgia Tech for one year before going pro. He came to the New Jersey Nets and looked like he was going to be a superstar, until a clothesline tackle by John Starks of the Knicks caused him to crash to the floor and break his wrist. He was never the same: Not only did his play suffer, but his personality became surly. He was reduced to journeyman status. Also born on this day is Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam.

October 9, 1973, 40 years ago: Pete Rose rebounds from the previous day’s fight, and the hatred of the Met fans – a banner in left field at Shea Stadium reads, “A Rose by any other name still stinks” – and homers in the top of the 12th, to give the Cincinnati Reds a 2-1 win over the Mets, and the NLCS will go to a 5th and deciding game.

On this same day, Bert Campaneris hits a walkoff homer in the 11th, and the Oakland Athletics defeat the Baltimore Orioles 2-1, which is also now the A’s’ lead in the series.

On the same day, William Thomas Pulsipher is born at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He moved around with his family as his father served in the U.S. Army.  In 1995, he, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson were “Generation K,” the pitchers who were going to lift the Mets to glory as the 20th Century turned to the 21st.  It didn’t work out that way, because all 3 of them got hurt.

Bill Pulsipher bounced around, closing his career with the Cardinals in 2005.  His career record was 13-19, his ERA 5.15.  He is still trying a comeback, with the independent-league Long Island Ducks.

October 9, 1976: For the first time, the New York Yankees play an American League Championship Series game. For the first time, a Kansas City team plays a postseason game in Major League Baseball. The experience is far better for New York, as 2 1st-inning errors by the Royals’ best player, George Brett, helps Catfish Hunter go the distance in a 4-1 Yankee win at Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium).

Philadelphia plays its first postseason game in 26 years, but in spite of ace Steve Carlton being on the mound — usually described by the Phillies as “Win Day” — Don Gullett retires 21 of his last 22 batters to outduel the legendary Lefty, and the Cincinnati Reds defeat the Phillies, 6-3.

But the Royals and Phillies still have a better day than Bob Moose. The Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, an integral part of their 1971 World Championship, was driving to a golf course owned by former teammate Bill Mazeroski in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio – also the home town of the Niekro brothers – when his car crashes, killing him. To make matters worse, it’s his birthday. He was 36.

October 9, 1977: The Yankees come back from deficits of 1-game-to-none, 2-games-to-1, and 3-0 down in the 8th inning of Game 7, to defeat the Kansas City Royals, 5-3 at Royals Stadium, to win their 31st American League Pennant.

The Royals had won 102 games, still a record for any Kansas City team (the A’s never got close to a Pennant race in their KC years), and with the home-field advantage in Games 3, 4 and 5, and with lefthanded pitching from Paul Splittorff and Larry Gura that they could use to neutralize Yankee sluggers like Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles and Chris Chambliss, they were sure they were the better team. They were wrong. The Yankees go on to face the Dodgers in the World Series for the 9th time.

Indeed, this series was the source of the long-since-debunked, but still popular, idea of “The Yankees can’t hit lefthanded pitching, especially in the postseason.” Reggie just couldn’t hit Splittorff or Gura, and Billy Martin benched him for the deciding Game 5 — sending Reggie’s best friend on the team, backup catcher Fran Healy, to tell him, because Billy didn’t have the guts to do it himself.  But when Splittorff tired, and was replaced by righthander Doug Bird, Billy sent Reggie up to pinch-hit for righthanded DH Cliff Johnson.  It was a most un-Reggie-like hit, but it got the job done: A looper, nearly but not quite caught by center fielder Amos Otis, got home a run to cut the deficit to 3-2, before the Yankees won it in the 9th.

Veteran 2nd baseman Cookie Rojas, who had also been a member of the collapsing 1964 Phillies, had announced his retirement, and shortstop Freddie Patek, with whom Rojas had jumped into the Royals Stadium fountains after they clinched the Division last year, is shown crying in the dugout, because Rojas will never play in a World Series.

October 9, 1979: Superman is born. Well, Superman Returns star Brandon Routh is, anyway, in Norwalk, Iowa.  Most recently, he was on the short-lived CBS drama Partners.  His career hasn’t gone well since his one and only appearance in the cape.  “Curse of Superman”? At least, for the moment, he’s still alive.

October 9, 1980: This is one October 9 that did not work out well for the Yankees.  In Game 2 of the ALCS, with the Yankees trailing 3-2 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, George Steinbrenner is caught on live national television jumping out of his seat and shouting what appears to be profanities when Willie Randolph is tagged out at home on a relay throw by the Kansas City Royals’ George Brett. The Yankees’ owner wants third base coach Mike Ferraro fired on the spot, but manager Dick Howser refuses, and the skipper will lose his job when the team is swept in three games by the Royals, despite a first place finish in the American League East compiling a 103-59 record.

October 9, 1988, 25 years ago: A dark day in Mets history. Dwight Gooden is one out away from giving the Mets a win in Game 4 of the NLCS. But Mike Scioscia – a good-fielding catcher but not renowned as a hitter, hits a home run. The Dodgers win the game in the 12th, 5-4.

If Gooden had gotten Scioscia out, the Mets would have been up 3 games to 1. They could have won the Pennant without going back to Los Angeles. And if the weak-hitting Dodgers could beat the Oakland A’s in the World Series, surely the Mets could have. (The A’s complete a 4-game sweep over the Red Sox today, winning the AL Pennant.) It would have been the Mets’ 2nd title in 3 years, and deepened their status as New York’s Number 1 team.

Maybe that team would have been kept together. Maybe Gooden and Darryl Strawberry don’t fall back into drug problems. (Humor me here.) Maybe the Mets find suitable replacements for Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, the glue of their 1986 World Champions. Maybe Doc, Darryl and David Cone don’t eventually end up on the Yankees, and the Yankees still haven’t won a World Series since 1978 – while the Mets probably get at least another in 2000, and maybe another one or two before their 1980s (-early ‘90s?) team winds down. Maybe…

This was the hinge day in Met history, when it all started to go wrong. It was the first major instance of what I’ve come to call “The Curse of Kevin Mitchell.” Maybe, maybe, maybe? Since Scioscia’s homer 23 years ago, “maybes” are pretty much all the Mets have had.

October 9, 1989: Televising Game 5 of the NLCS, a 3-2 Giants victory over the Cubs from Candlestick Park, NBC broadcasts its final edition of The Game of the Week. This is the first Pennant for the Giants in 27 years. Next season, CBS’s sporadic and less frequent coverage of a regular season weekly game led many to believe the network was really only interested in airing the All-Star Game and post-season contests.

October 9, 1998: The Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees, 6-1, in Game 3 of the ALCS at Jacobs Field. Jim Thome homers twice, Manny Ramirez and Mark Whiten once each. The Indians lead 2 games to 1. Suddenly, after 114 wins – 118 wins if the postseason thus far is counted – the 1998 New York Yankees, already being hailed as one of the greatest teams in history, are in serious, serious trouble of not even making it to the World Series.

The Yankees will not lose again until April 5, 1999.

October 9, 1999: The Mets win a postseason series. Stop laughing. They defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks‚ 4-3‚ on backup catcher Todd Pratt’s 10th inning homer. Pratt is in the game for starter Mike Piazza‚ who is unable to play because of a thumb injury. John Franco gets the victory in relief for the Mets.

The Yankees defeat the Texas Rangers‚ 3-0‚ to sweep the ALDS. Roger Clemens hurls 7 shutout innings for the win‚ as Darryl Strawberry’s 3-run homer in the 1st provides all the runs in the game.

October 9, 2004: The Yankees finish off the Twins with a come-from-behind 6-5 win in 11 innings to win their Division Series. Ruben Sierra’s 3-run homer ties the game in the 8th inning, and Alex Rodriguez scores the winning run on a wild pitch. And yet, it will take the Yankees 5 years to win another postseason series.

October 9, 2005: At Minute Maid Park, Chris Burke’ 18th-inning homer ends the longest postseason game in baseball history as the Astros defeat the Braves, 7-6, to advance into the National League championship series. Atlanta’s five-run lead late in the game is erased with an eighth inning grand slam by Lance Berkman and a two-out ninth inning solo shot by Brad Ausmus, which barely clears Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones’ outstretched hand.

When this game ended, I called my grandmother. Sure enough, she likened it to that 16-inning game in Houston in the 1986 NLCS, the Mets winning the Pennant over the Astros in the Astrodome, her favorite game of all time. She would watch the 2005 LCS and World Series and enjoy them. They would be the last baseball games she would ever see.

On this same day, the Yankees down the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim‚ 3-2‚ to even their Division Series. Al Leiter gets the win for New York in relief of Shawn Chacon. It is Leiter’s first postseason win in 12 years, since he won a game for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. Counting postseason wins, it is the 164th win of his career. It will be the last.

He also helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series in 1997 and the team he grew up rooting for, the Mets, win a Pennant in 2000, before losing the World Series to the Yankees, for whom he started his career, and would later broadcast on the YES Network. He now works for the MLB Network.