WHAT’S WITH THE SOX?

The Running Red Sox!! How many times have you heard that phrase lately? Usually right after Mookie Betts has stolen a base or led a double steal or scored from first on a single. The NESN announcers on the Sox broadcasts and talk show hosts have raved about this team’s running. After all, they obviously do not hit for power so they have to make it up somewhere.

This team which, at the end of 94 games, was in first place in the American League’s Eastern Division, arguably the best division in baseball, particularly since, if the season had ended after the first 94 games, three of the five American League Playoff teams would have come from that Division. They had won 53 and lost 42, including the previous night’s 15 inning win over Toronto, on, of all things, a walk off home run by Hanley Ramirez.

They had hit less home runs, 97, than any other American League team and had drawn less walks, 340, than all but two of the AL teams. They were averaging one home run for every 34 at bats, worst in the A. L. and 28th in all of baseball.

They had hit for average, however, and at .264, they were second best in the A. L. and fifth best in baseball but their slugging percentage was a meager .410, 22nd in all of baseball. It’s no wonder that the experts are looking for the secret that has this team, which sometimes goes days without scoring any appreciable amount of runs, in first place.

There have been several times when their running ability has been instrumental in big wins. For example, in the come from behind, ninth inning, win over the Yankees in Game one of their recent series, the rally was built around a double steal by Betts and Pedroia. There is no doubt that the Sox are more aggressive on the base paths than they had been earlier in the season but that has been a mixed blessing as the aggressiveness has cost them some runs in addition to helping accumulate more. Tuesday night’s hero, Hanley Ramirez, has made several base running blunders that have cost the Sox.

This year’s version of the Sox stole a total of 57 bases in 78 tries through the first 94 games, a 73.1 percent success rate. That extrapolates to 98 stolen bases in 134 attempts over a 162 game season.

Of those 57 stolen bases, 34 have been stolen by Betts, Bogaerts and Benintendi. Betts was 16 for 18, Bogaerts 9 for 10 and Benintendi 9 for 12, a success rate of 85 % for the three of them as opposed to 23 for 38 or 60.1% for the rest of the team.

In 2013, the last World Championship season for the Sox, the team stole 123 bases in 142 attempts, a success rate of 86.6%. In 2007, they stole 96 in 120 attempts, an 80% success rate. In 2004, their other championship season in this century, they stole just 68 bases in 98 attempts, a 70.4% rate.

While the Red Sox are stealing bases at a rate that would give them 98 for the season, it would not appear that they are running more than usual this year in steal situations. In four of the past eight years, they exceeded 100 steals in a year. They are, however, more alert and willing to try to take an extra base when the opportunity arises.

The increased aggressiveness on the base paths puts pressure on defenses and opposition pitchers and the fact that they will run in critical situations has to be distracting to defenses but is certainly not the key factor so far.

What then is the reason for the Red Sox success? If it is not their slugging lineup and they have not, all of a sudden, become the running Red Sox, what is it?

The key to the success that the Sox had enjoyed during the first 94 games comes down to one major factor that is universally true in baseball year in and year out. Pitching wins ball games and good pitching will, almost always, beat out good hitting over the long haul.

The Sox have gotten a whole lot more out of their pitching staff than most people expected. Chris Sale is having a Cy Young year. Craig Kimbrel is having a phenomenal year as the Closer. Joe Kelly, prior to his ham string injury, had a remarkable streak of scoreless relief innings. Drew Pomeranz has, despite his inability to go deep into ball games, given the Red Sox more than expected and had nine wins and a 3.75 ERA and got his tenth on July 19th. Rick Porcello, after an horrendous start, has begun to look like the real Rick Porcello and, even in his worst games has managed to give the team at least six innings in almost every start.

After missing almost all of the first two months of the season, David Price was 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA and looks ready for a great second half. Eduardo Rodriguez, just off the disabled list gives them a proven fifth starter if he stays healthy. The recently acquired, Doug Fister, a veteran, experienced and effective right hander gives them a sixth starter who can also add length to the bullpen.

The pitching staff, as a whole, had an earned run average of 3.70, the lowest ERA in the A. L. They had struck out 901 batters, the third highest total in the League, thanks in large part to Chris Sale and his 191. The rotation of Sale, Porcello, Price, Pomeranz and Rodriguez, with Doug Fister and Brian Johnson in the wings, had a 4.09 ERA, third in the league through 94 games, led the league in strikeouts with 598 and, perhaps most importantly, had given the team more innings than any other starting rotation in the League, easing the load on the bullpen, which had only logged 294 innings, 12th least in the League.

That bullpen, who everyone keeps saying needs bolstering, had a record of 17-10 with an ERA of 2.97, second only to Cleveland in the A. L. Their opponents were hitting just .226 against them, fourth best in the League.

In the first six games after the All Star break, the Sox won three and lost three and scored just 17 runs in 58 innings. Fortunately, the pitching staff gave up just 19 runs in that period and recorded an ERA of 2.28. The Tampa Bay Rays, who were in third, 3 ½ games behind the Sox, moved into second and trailed Boston by just two games on July 18th. The lead was back to three games on July 19th.

It’s just a matter of time before they start to hit as they have proven they can and they put together a long winning streak. It probably won’t happen on this west coast trip but look for the Sox to run away from the rest of the East soon. After this trip, the schedule favors them as well as they have only 27 games left away from home and 34 in friendly Fenway where they were 29-17 as of July 19th.

THIS DAY IN BASEBALL

For those of you, like me, that wonder what Steve Lyons is doing in the broadcast booth with Dave O’Brien or on the pregame or post game slots with the likes of Jim Rice, Tom Carron and Tim Wakefield, this is a special day.

I had begun to believe that NESN had committed themselves to color commentators with weird hair when they added Dennis Eckersley and his retro hairdo to Lyons on their staff. After all, why had they stuck so long with a career .252 hitter, who averaged just over 95 games a year for his nine year playing career and who brings about as much insight to the broadcasts as Jessica Mendoza does?

The fact that he played 328 games for the Sox, batting just .251, in three different stints as a team member, certainly doesn’t earn him Red Sox legend status like Rice, Remy, Wakefield, Eckersley and the rest of the other favorites NESN keeps rotating at us.

To get to that Special Day; Twenty-seven years ago today, on July 16, 1990, that same Steve Lyons, whose nickname as a player, by the way, was ‘Psycho’, playing for the Chicago White Sox, slid head first into first base to beat out a bunt by a hair. After being called safe, Lyons stood up, unbuckled his belt and dropped his pants to get the dirt out of them, apparently temporarily forgetting that there were 14,778 fans watching him from the stands. If you don’t believe me, there is a video available on line.

That and the fact that he played every position in his nine year career, seem to be the highlights of his career as a player. Anyway, the incident where he apparently forgot where he was for a short period of time and dropped his drawers was just one, and probably the least important of the memorable things that occurred on this date in baseball history.

In 1941, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in his 56th consecutive game, establishing a record that will probably never be broken. The Yankee Clipper went three for four that day, with two singles, a walk and a double and scored three runs, driven in all three times on hits by Yankee catcher Buddy Rosar.

The next day, Joe went 0-3 with a walk and the streak was over. Al Smith got him to ground to Kenny Keltner at third in the first and seventh and walked him in the fourth. Joe came up with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, with the Yankees up 4-1, and Jim Bagby replaced Smith on the mound. DiMaggio hit a ground ball to Lou Boudreau at short for a double play to end the inning and the streak. The Yankees held on despite a Cleveland two run rally in the ninth for the win.

On that same day, Ted Williams pinch hit for Skeeter Newsome and hit a sacrifice fly to drive in a run as the Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox, 2-1, at Comiskey Park. Ted was hitting .395 en route to a final .406 average for the season, the last person to hit over .400 in a season and another plateau that will probably never again be reached.

Since 1954, and off and on before that, sac flies are not charged as at bats when computing batting averages. According to Baseball Almanac, Ted came to the plate that day with 96 hits in 242 at bats and finished the day with 243 at bats, indicating that he was charged with an at bat for the sac fly. Other sources, including Baseball Reference verify that Baseball Almanac’s final numbers are correct.

There were no records kept that year of sac flies as a category so there is no way to tell if Ted had other sac flies for which he was charged. If so, his actual final average might have been much higher.

Twenty-one years earlier, on July 16, 1920, 25 year old George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth did not hit a home run. The day before, July 15th, in the eleventh inning, with the score tied 10-10 against the St. Louis Browns, he had hit a walk off home run to win the game 13-10. That homer, his 29th of the season, tied his own single season home run record set the year before, in the first 84 games of the season. He would go on to hit another 25 homers that season, establishing a new record of 54.

In 1921, he would hit 59 for a new record and, of course, in 1927, he hit 60, a record that would stand until 1961, when Roger Maris hit 61. Everyone knows that the Babe hit 714 homers in his career but most people don’t realize that he hit 603 of them from 1920 until 1932, an average of better than 46 a year for 13 years.

Rod Carew, the Minnesota Twins great first baseman, who hit .328 for his career, had a total of 3,053 career hits and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, stole home on July 16, 1969 against the Chicago White Sox. In the second inning, with two outs and the Twins up 5-2 and the bases loaded, Carew stole home against the White Sox pitcher Jerry Nyman. It was his seventh steal of home of the season, a total exceeded only by the eight thefts of home by Ty Cobb in 1912.

Carew was known as a hitter, not as a base stealer and only stole 19 total bases that year and had only stolen a total of five bases in his first two seasons with the Twins. According to Carew’s biography, Billy Martin, who managed the Twins to the Playoffs in 1969, had talked to him about adding another weapon to his arsenal and had worked with him before the season on stealing home.

Martin was a great believer in the steal of home, seldom seen today, as a weapon. His philosophy, summed up in a quote from when he managed the Oakland Athletics, was

‘ Usually the pitcher will see you and panic. Eight out of ten times, he’ll do something wrong – rush his delivery and put the ball in the wrong place, throw the wrong pitch..’.

The baseball world was shocked on July 16, 1948, when Brooklyn Dodger General Manager Branch Rickey agreed to allow Manager Leo Durocher to leave the Dodgers and become Manager of the Dodgers’ hated rival the New York Giants. It was calledthe swiftest and most stunning managerial change in baseball history‘.

Durocher had managed the Dodgers for 8 full seasons and had won 738 games while losing just 565 and had brought them the pennant in 1941. At the time he left , though, the Dodgers were just 35-37 for the year and would go on to finish third in the National League.

Durocher moved from Ebbetts Field across to the Polo Ground, replacing Mel Ott, who moved into a front office job. Durocher’s Giants won 41 and lost 38 the rest of that year and finished in fifth place. ‘Leo The Lip’ would win 637 and lose 523 as Giants’ Manager in eight seasons, winning the pennant in 1951 and the World Series in 1954.

July 16th has been the date of many memorable accomplishments in baseball over the years. It will be interesting to see if NESN mentions Lyons particular ‘anniversary’ in its broadcast of the Yankee Red Sox game today.

THE FIRST ALL STAR GAME

In the early thirties, just after the Depression, baseball was on hard times. People had little money to spend on frills like baseball and attendance was shrinking.

The story has it that, with a World’s Fair coming up in Chicago in 1933, Mayor Edward Kelly and Colonel Robert McCormick, Publisher of the Chicago Tribune decided that a major sporting event would be the attraction to make the Fair a success.

They assigned the Tribune Sports Editor, Arch Ward, to come up with an idea and he decided that a one time Game of the Century between the best players from the American and National Leagues would be such an attraction and would also help baseball. Players were selected by a vote of the fans with ballots placed in 55 newspapers around the country. Literally hundreds of thousands of votes were cast with Babe Ruth, the Yankee slugger, reported to have received the most votes.

The game was scheduled for July 6, 1933, in Comiskey Park, Chicago, and 47,595 fans appeared for the game.

The starting batting lineups for the two teams were the following:

NATIONAL LEAGUE                         AMERICAN LEAGUE

Pepper Martin, St. Louis, 3B          Ben Chapman, New York, LF

Frankie Frisch, St. Louis, 2B          Charlie Gehringer, Detroit, 2B

Chuck Klein, Philadelphia, RF       Babe Ruth, New York, RF

Chick Hafey, Cincinnati, LF            Lou Gehrig, New York, 1B

Bill Terry, New York, 1B                  Al Simmons, Chicago, CF

Wally Berger, Boston, CF                 Jimmy Dykes, Chicago, 3B

Dick Bartell, Pittsburgh, SS             Joe Cronin, Washington, SS

Jimmie Wilson, St. Louis, C            Rick Ferrell, Boston, C

Bill Hallahan, St. Louis, P                Lefty Gomez, New York, P

(Rick Ferrell’s brother, Wes Ferrell, a pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, also made the American League team but did not get into the game, making the Ferrell brothers the first brother team to be selected to an All Star Game.)

The teams were managed by the legendary John McGraw for the National and Connie Mack for the American. McGraw had retired in 1932 after 31 years of managing the New York Giants and came out of retirement for the game. Connie Mack had managed the Philadelphia Athletics since 1901 and would continue to do so until 1950.

Bill Hallahan, of the Pirates, started on the mound for the National League and Lefty Gomez, of the Yankees, for the American.

The American League, the home team, scored first in the second inning when Dykes and Cronin both walked and, with two out, the pitcher, Lefty Gomez singled up the middle to score Dykes. They added two more in the third when Gehringer walked and the Babe hit a long homer to right to make it 3-0.

It stayed 3-0 until the Nationals sixth. The New York Giants’ Lefty O’Doul hit for Wilson and grounded out to second. Lon Warneke, the Chicago pitcher, who had relieved Hallahan in the fourth, then tripled to right and scored when Martin grounded to third. Frisch then hit a solo homer to right and it was 3-2, American. ( Those of you as old as I will remember Warneke who became a Major League umpire after his playing career. )

The American League got one back in the last of the sixth on a single to center by Cronin, who was then sacrificed to second by Rick Ferrell and scored on Cleveland’s pinch hitter Earl Averill’s single to center field, making it 4-2.

Philadelphia’s Lefty Grove came on to pitch the seventh for the American League and gave up a single to Bill Terry, who was forced at second on a grounder to short by Berger. Pittsburgh’s Pie Traynor, batting for Bartell, then doubled to center putting the tying runs in scoring position with one out. Grove then struck out Chicago’s Gabby Hartnett and got Chicago’s Woody English to fly to center to end the threat and strand the runners.

In the Nationals’ eighth, Frisch got an infield single with one out but was stranded there as Grove got Klein and Hafey to fly out. Grove got the Nationals 1-2-3 in the ninth and the American League had won the first All Star Game.

Lefty Gomez, who went three innings and shut out the Nationals on two hits, was the winning pitcher and Bill Hallahan, who gave up three runs on two hits in two innings, took the loss. Warnecke pitched the third through sixth innings giving up just one run for the Nationals. Washington’s General Crowder pitched the middle three for the American, giving up two runs on three hits. New York’s Carl Hubbell pitched the last two scoreless innings for the National and Grove held the National League scoreless for the last three to earn the save.

Although it was expected to be just a one time happening, of course it evolved from that one game, that took two hours and five minutes to play, into the three day affair it has become today.

One of the major differences in the first All Star game and that of today is the use of pitchers. Each team used only three pitchers in the nine inning game. Today’s All Stars are generally limited to a maximum of two innings but most just pitch one.

Three of those six pitchers, Hubbell, Gomez and Grove, are in the Hall of Fame. The nicknames of the six pitchers are worth mentioning. On the National League side, Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell, remembered today as ‘King Carl’ was also called ‘Meal Ticket’, Lon Warneke was called ‘The Arkansas Hummingbird’ and Bill Hallahan, ‘Wild Bill’. Lefty Gomez, the American League’s winning pitcher, was known as ‘Goofy’, Alvin Crowder’s, nickname was General, because of his military service, and Robert Moses Grove, who was credited with the save, was ‘Lefty’.

Some of those nicknames would probably be offensive in the climate in this country today but they are just another indicator of how colorful baseball could and can be. The nicknames of today may not be as colorful but the players are bigger, stronger and more talented than ever and the All Star Game, with or without Mike Trout, will be a spectacular event, perhaps made more spectacular by having this year’s MVP, Mookie Betts, in Trout’s spot in the lineup.

(This column is, in part, an excerpt from Volume II of my series ‘ The Baseball Buff’s Bathroom Book, Volume II ‘.)

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THE EXCITEMENT WILL CONTINUE

Has anyone noticed that, as of Wednesday of this past week, the teams with the best records in baseball were the Houston Astros, sitting atop the American League West with a record of 36-16, 11 games ahead of second place Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Colorado Rockies, 33-20, in first place in the National League West by ½ game over the Los Angeles Angels?

The Rockies finished in third place last year, 16 games out of first, and the Astros finished in third place, 11 games out of first. The Astros have been to the playoffs just once in the last 11 years and the Rockies just once in ten years.

Do you find that surprising? For those of you that think that baseball is boring, this is the year for the inexplicable. Unlike the other major professional sports, baseball news is not full of sensational stories about the players who got arrested this week but baseball has had its share of bizarre stories this year.

Take for example the San Francisco Giants’ ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner. As good a pitcher as almost any in baseball, with a record of 100 wins and 70 losses and a 2.99 ERA in his career, this winner of the Most Valuable Player Awards in both the NLCS and World Series in 2014, and key to the Giants’ fortunes in 2017, who makes $11.5 million a year to throw a baseball, decided to ride a dirt bike on a day off on April 20.

He had an accident and injured the shoulder of his $11.5 million arm and is out for the foreseeable future. His Giants are in fourth place in the NL West with a 22-31 record without him. What was he doing on a dirt bike in the first place?

Or how about Hunter Strickland, of those same Giants? Bryce Harper, not the sharpest knife in the box himself, took Strickland deep twice in the 2014 Division Series and Strickland apparently took offense at the manner in which he celebrated the homers. What did Strickland do? He waited three years and then plunked Harper with a pitch in a game this past week. Naturally, Harper took offense at being plunked and charged the mound.

Now, if you want excitement in a baseball game, if it’s usually too boring for you, go on You Tube or one of those other social media sites and watch the result. Harper charged the mound and, perhaps for the first time in baseball history, more than one punch was landed in a benches clearing brawl. Harper got suspended for four games and Strickland for six.

Not all the excitement in baseball comes from stupidity, some of it comes from sheer bad luck. If you watched the Red Sox play in Chicago on Monday night, you saw Dustin Pedroia get injured in a fluke play. He hit a ground ball to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreau. Instead of tossing the ball to the pitcher, Abreau elected to slide into first to beat Pedroia to the bag and ended up sprawled over the bag. Pedroia tripped over him and fell, injuring his left wrist and ending up on the disabled list for at least ten days.

As soon as the Sox found that they had lost Pedroia, they called Pablo Sandoval up from Pawtucket, where he had been on rehab, to give them another infielder. Of course, Sandoval was hitting just .160 at Pawtucket with only four hits in 25 at bats and had made two errors in just 18 fielding chances at third base while there.

As if that was not strange enough, Deven Marrero, who had inherited the third base job after Travis Shaw was traded and Sandoval and Brock Holt went down and the fill ins had led the league in errors and lack of offensive production, appeared to be losing his job to Sandoval with his less than impressive record.

What did Marrero do while Sandoval was traveling to Chicago to perhaps replace him? Marrero, who was hitting .175 for the season, slightly higher than Sandoval, with only one homer, hit a two run homer in the second inning to put the Sox up 3-0, just before Sandoval made his triumphant return to the Sox dugout, and, almost as soon as Sandoval arrived, hit a three run homer in the third inning to put the Sox up 7-3.

And how about Pedroia? He got hurt on Monday night in Chicago, flew to Boston for an MRI on his wrist, consulted with two specialists there and was back in the Red Sox dugout, cheering for his team mates the next night. Dustin Pedroia is not only one of the best second basemen in the game today, he is also the ultimate team player. No one, except perhaps Pete Rose, has ever been more committed to the game than Pedroia.

In the midst of this bizarre season, when Red Sox fans are trying to figure out what is wrong with their team, it’s time to take a quick look at where they are and why they are there. As of Wednesday, 51 games into the season, with 111 left to play, they were in second place, three games behind the Yankees.

They had been without David Price for the first 49 games, without Steven Wright for almost the entire season, without Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, without Marco Hernandez, who was hitting .276 when he went down and without Brock Holt, who might have been the solution to their third base problem.

Jackie Bradley was hitting just .214, Andrew Benintendi had fallen to .272 after a great start, Xander Bogaerts, while hitting .339, had just two homers.

I’d say they had done well to be where they were, although I’m not sure whether to credit John Farrell for their hanging in there or blame him for their lack of success.

On Tuesday night, in Chris Sale’s first bad performance after one of the greatest starts in baseball history, the bats came alive again and he got just his sixth win when he should have had at least nine.

As I always say, it’s a 162 game season and there is a long way to go. Pitching is the name of the game and Price is back, Sale is one of the best in baseball, Rodriguez has proven he can win, Porcello keeps plodding along and Pomeranz has shown improvement. Oh, and don’t forget, Brian Johnson is waiting in the wings although shutting out that punchless Mariners team may not be as impressive as it looked.

Baseball might be boring to some people but this season has had more than its share of excitement and controversy, both on and off the field. Stay tuned because it will only get better the further we get into the pennant races.

A BRIEF, SPECTACULAR CAREER

Fifty-five years ago this month, on May 6, 1962, the Washington Senators were playing the New York Yankees in a double header at Yankee Stadium. Dave Stenhouse, a 28 year old, rookie, right hander, from Westerly, Rhode Island, was the Senators starting pitcher in Game 1 of the doubleheader. The Yankees had won the last two World Series and already looked like they were headed for their third in a row.

If facing the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, in his first starting appearance in the Big Leagues after only four relief appearances, with a total of 5 2/3 Major League innings under his belt, wasn’t enough, Stenhouse was matched up against Yankee great Ralph Terry, who already had four wins in the young season. (Terry would go on to win 23 games that year and win the most Valuable Player Award in the Yankees third straight World Series win, this time in seven games over the San Francisco Giants.)

The Senators got a run off Terry in the top of the first when first baseman Dale Long doubled to drive in left fielder Joe Hicks and put the Senators up 1-0.

The first batter that Stenhouse faced for the Yankees in the last of the first was second baseman Bobby Richardson, winner of the Most Valuable Player Award in the 1960 World Series. Stenhouse got him on a pop out to Clete Boyer at third. He then walked shortstop Tom Tresh and had to face Roger Maris, who had broken Babe Ruth’s home run record the year before and had been the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the past two years. He got Maris to hit a grounder to second baseman Chuck Cottier who started a double play and Stenhouse’s first inning as a starter was over.

In the Yankee second, they sent up Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Johnny Blanchard. Stenhouse put them down in order getting Mantle to pop to second, Yogi to ground to first and Blanchard to pop to short. In the third, he struck out Joe Pepitone, got Clete Boyer on a grounder to short and struck out Terry.

In his first Major League start, the rookie had faced the minimum nine batters in the first three innings against one of the toughest lineups in baseball and was ahead 1-0. In the Yankee fourth, after getting Richardson to pop to third and striking out Tresh, Stenhouse gave up a double to Maris and a homer to Mantle, to fall behind 2-1, before getting Berra on strikes on a foul third strike bunt.

That was it for the Yankee offense as Stenhouse went seven innings, giving up just the two runs on three hits. The Senators scored three in the eighth, paced by a lead off homer by ex-Yankee Gene Woodling, pinch hitting for Stenhouse, to go ahead 4-2. Steve Hamilton replaced Stenhouse in the top of the eighth and got the last six Yankee batters in order to give Stenhouse his first Major League win.

On May 11, five days later, Stenhouse started against Baltimore and pitched a complete game six hitter giving up just one run as the Senators won 12-1. The Senators lost the next two games to the Orioles and went to Chicago where they lost the first game of a two game series against the White Sox to drop them to 6-21, still 10 1/2 games back.

Stenhouse started the second game against Chicago, pitched another complete game win, holding the White Sox to just one unearned run and four hits. In the past ten days, the Senators had won four and lost six and the rookie had won three of the games, giving up three runs on 13 hits in 25 innings for a 1.08 ERA in his first three Major League starts.

Stenhouse would win three and lose one in June, including a complete game, six hit, 1-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers on June 8. On July 12, still in last place, now 20 ½ games out, the Senators traveled to Minnesota to meet the Twins.

In Game 1 of the Twins series, Stenhouse started and pitched a 10 inning complete game. The score was tied after nine innings, 4-4. Stenhouse had given up home runs to Bob Allison, Earl Battey and Hammerin’ Harmon Killebrew to account for the four runs. In the top of the tenth, the Senators scored three times and Stenhouse shut the Twins down in the bottom of the tenth for his seventh win.

Five days later, on July 17, in Chicago, he pitched a three hit shutout against the White Sox to win his eighth game, 1-0. He held the White Sox hitless for 4 2/3 innings before giving up a double to catcher Cam Carreon in the fifth.

He faced the Yankees in Yankee Stadium again on July 22 and pitched another complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and winning 4-2, while striking out eight.

On July 27, he started against the Red Sox and Bill Monboquette at home. He pitched his fourth complete game in 15 days, giving up 13 hits but holding the Sox to two runs. In those four games, he gave up just 27 hits and eight runs in 37 innings for a 1.95 ERA and improving his record to 10 wins and four losses and earning the nod from Yankee Manager Ralph Houk, who was also the All Sar Game Manager, to start the All Star Game on July 30, three days later. He was the first rookie to start an All Star Game in history.

The All Star Game was played in Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fred Hutchinson, Manager of the Cincinnati Reds was the National League Manager. Before being traded to the Senators by the same Cincinnati Reds before the season, Stenhouse had won 39 and lost 37 with a 3.42 ERA in three years at AAA and had never gotten a chance at the Big Leagues. It must have been satisfying for him to start the All Star Game with Hutchinson in the opposing dugout.

Stenhouse started on the mound for the American League with Johnny Podres on the mound for the National. He pitched a scoreless first after he hit the first batter Dave Groat, got Roberto Clemente to fly out, gave up a single to Willie Mays and walked Orlando Cepeda to load the bases. He then got Tommy Davis to foul out and Ken Boyer lined to short to end the inning. In the second he got the first two outs but then gave up a double to, of all people, Podres and Groat drove him in with a single before he struck out Clemente to end the inning. He was removed after two innings and the American League went on to win the game 9-4.

Two days later, on August 1, he held the Yankee to two runs for 10 innings and went into the 11th tied 2-2. In the 10th, he gave up a double to Dale Long, a single to Elston Howard and a homer to Johnny Blanchard and lost 5-2.

It was his fifth start of nine or more innings in 21 days and it had to have taken its toll. From August 1 on, he won one game and lost eight to finish the season with an 11-12 record. From his first start on May 6 until August 2, he had pitched 136 innings and had eight complete games in 15 starts. After the stretch from July 12 through August 1, he made 11 starts and threw just one complete game, a 3-2 win over Baltimore on August 30.

In 1963, he made 16 starts, won three and lost nine and had a 4.55 ERA and, in 1964, he made 14 starts, won two and lost seven with a 4.81 ERA.

I spoke with Dave recently and he told me that, on July 5th of that year, the bone chips in his pitching arm that had bothered him since college caused him to go on the disabled list for the rest of the year. He had banged the elbow several times playing basketball as a starter at URI. That was the end of his Big League career. He pitched in AAA until 1967 when he retired at age 33.

Stenhouse was born on September 12, 1933 and was signed by the Chicago Cubs as an Amateur Free Agent in 1955 after playing for the University of Rhode Island. He spent four years in the Cubs farm system, where he was 17-9 with a 3.15 ERA between A and AA ball, before being acquired by the Reds after the 1958 season

Dave coached the Brown University team from 1981 to 1990. His son, Mike, played for the Expos, Twins and Red Sox as an outfielder from1982-1986 and another son, Dave, Jr., a catcher, played six years in the minors, including three years at the AAA level.

Dave Stenhouse paid his dues in the minor leagues before finally getting a chance at the Majors in 1962. If he were to show the promise he did then, in the current atmosphere, where pitchers are brought along gradually and their arms and futures are better taken care of and protected, there is no telling what he might have accomplished.

THE CAPTAIN

The New York Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s number 2 tonight in a ceremony before the Yankees game with the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. It will be the 21st Yankee number to be retired and will also be the last of the numbers 1-10.

As would be expected with the most successful franchise in sports history, the Yankees have more retired numbers than any other team in baseball. There are 11 players in the group of retired numbers 1-10 as both Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra had number 8 retired in their honor. Of the 11 players, including Jeter, 8 are in the Hall of Fame and Jeter will make it 9 when he is eligible. The only two that aren’t in the Hall of Fame, besides Jeter, are Roger Maris and Billy Martin and Joe Torre got in as a Manager, not as a player.

Looking back at the players in that numbers 1-10 group, you could put together a pretty good ball club, covering all the positions. Between the 11, they accounted for 3,553 home runs.

Behind the plate would be either Berra or Dickey, who between them made 29 All Star Teams and played on 17 World Championship Teams. Berra, himself, played on a record 10 World Series winners.

At first base would be, the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, who held the record for most consecutive games played at 2,130 before Cal Ripken broke it, led the league in home runs three times and played on six World Championship teams.

At second, the irrepressible Billy Martin who played on four World Championship Teams and managed the Yankees to another.

At shortstop Jeter would share his spot with Phil Rizzuto, the Scooter, who played on seven World Championship teams and five All Star Teams and went on to be the voice of the Yankees for decades. Jeter, of course, played 20 years for the Yankees, played on five World Championship Teams and also 14 All Star teams.

The only position not represented in the group is third base. Joe Torre, was a catcher by trade but did play 515 games at third base in his playing career, would fill this spot on the imaginary team. He was a career .297 hitter, named to nine All Star teams and was named MVP in the National League.

The outfield would have Mickey Mantle in left. Mantle hit 536 home runs, was named to 20 All Star Teams, played on seven World Championship Teams as well as being named MVP three times and winning the home run title four times.

In center field, of course, would be the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. Joe D., who many, including this writer believe to be the best all around player ever to play the game, with the possible exception of Willie Mays, played on nine World Championship Teams, 13 All Star Teams, won three MVP Awards, and led the league in home runs and batting average twice.

In right field would be Maris, the man who broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record with 61 in 1961 and gave the record books their first asterisk, to show that he did it in 162 games while the Babe had done it in 154.

Every team needs a pitcher and, hiding behind the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, was one of the most successful pitchers in early baseball history. Between the Red Sox and Yankees, both before and after he became a slugging outfielder, Babe won 94 games and lost 46 with an earned run average of just 2.28.

Of course, he also hit 714 career home runs, led the league in homers 12 different years and played for seven World Championship Teams. He had a streak of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the World Series, which began in 1916 and which held as the record until 1962, when Whitey Ford extended his scoreless innings streak to 33 2/3 to break the record. Of course, Ford’s number 16 was also retired by the Yankees.

Babe Ruth was only named to two All Star Teams, because the All Star Game began in 1933 and his career ended in 1936.

It is interesting that the lowest ten numbers the Yankees have retired belonged to players who had played each of the positions and that would be a tough team to beat. Of the 11 players, five Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle, Maris and Rizzuto were the only players with that surname, of the over 18,650 players who have made the Majors, to play in the Big Leagues. Three others on the list, DiMaggio, Berra and Torre have surnames that only they and siblings, or in Berra’s case, a son, have brought to the Major Leagues.

Jeter brought a tremendous amount of talent to the field but also a level of class and leadership seldom equaled in the game. The Yankee Captain was as well respected throughout baseball as any player in the history of the game.

Tim Kurkjian recently called Jeter the third best short stop in the history of baseball and, though many would disagree with that assessment, his record of achievements certainly places him high up on the list.

Two weeks ago, when Yankee right fielder Aaron Judge dove into the stands to make a catch, against the Red Sox, the first thing the ESPN staff did was bring up Jeter’s dive into the stands to make the catch against Trot Nixon and the Red Sox on July 1, 2004. When Xander Bogaerts or Addison Russell go into the hole and make a jump throw to first to get the runner, everyone compares the play to Jeter’s ability to make it. When a right handed batter slaps a hit into right field, you often hear it called ‘Jeter Like’.

The play that he made in 2001, in the American League Division Series, against the Oakland Athletics where he fielded an errant throw on the first base line while running all out and flipped backhanded to cut down Jeremy Giambi at the plate, will always be in the all time highlight film.

His home run to tie the first World Series Game ever played in the month of November, which got him the nickname Mr. November, hitting a homer for his 3,000th hit and so many other highlights that Yankee fans will never forget made Jeter perhaps the most popular Yankee ever.

Derek Jeter is not the most talented of the great Yankees, but his career and accomplishments and his respect for the game and the respect he earned from the fans put him on a level not many have achieved.