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MOST TEAMS PLAYED FOR IN ONE DAY. In the history of baseball, only three players have ever played for two different Major League teams on the same day. On May 30, 1922, the St Louis Cardinals were playing the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field in Chicago in a single admission double header, something many readers may never have seen or may never see in the future. Going into the doubleheader, the Cardinals were in third place 3½ games out of first in the National League and the Cubs were in sixth, seven games out. The pennant, in the eight team National League, would be won by the New York Giants that year and they would beat the American League Champion New York Yankees in the World Series, four games to none with one tie. The tie was one of only two World Series Games in history ever to end in a tie. The other tie was between the Cubs and Tigers in 1907. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Cubs beat the Cardinals 4-1 behind right hander George Stueland, who pitched a complete game four hitter for his first of nine career wins. The Great Rogers Hornsby got two of the four hits for the Cardinals, one a double. Max Flack played right field and batted fifth, and went 0-4, for the Cubs and Cliff Heathcote played center field for the Cardinals and batted seventh, going 0-3 in the first game of the double header. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Cubs won again, this time 3-1, as the Cubs’ Vic Aldridge pitched a complete game, giving up just seven hits and out dueled the Cardinals’ Bill Doak, who also went the route but gave up three runs on nine hits. Between games of the doubleheader, the Cubs had traded Max Flack to the Cardinals for Cliff Heathcote and the players changed dugouts for the second game. Flack, now a Cardinal and, on the losing team, batted lead-off and played right field and went 1-4 in Game 2. Heathcote, now a Cub and, on the winning team, batted fifth and played right field and went 2-4 in the game. It was the only time in the history of baseball, according to Baseball Almanac, when two teams had exchanged players between games of a double header and both players had played for each team in the doubleheader in the history of baseball. Flack played from 1914-1925, 12 seasons, all for the Cards or Cubs, had a .278 career batting average and appeared in one World Series. With the Cubs, in 1918, he went 5-19 against the Boston Red Sox as the Sox beat the Cubs in six games for the World Series Championship. Heathcote had a 15 year Major League career, playing for the Cubs, Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies. He had a .275 career batting average and played in one World Series in 1929, with the Cubs when they lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in five games. At the tail end of his career, he only batted once, as a pinch hitter, in Game 1 of the Series. On August 4, 1982, Joel Youngblood was playing for the New York Mets against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago in an afternoon game. He started in center field and batted third for the Mets. In the first inning, he struck out. In the third, with the bases loaded, against the Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins, he singled to drive in two runs and put the Mets up 3-1. He was replaced in the field at the start of the last of the fourth by Mookie Wilson. He was replaced because he had been traded to the Montreal Expos, who were playing a night game at Philadelphia against the Phillies. Somehow, he got to Philadelphia for that game and, in the last of the sixth inning, he replaced Jerry White in right field, batting second. In the top of the seventh, with two outs and no one on, batting against Steve Carlton, he got an infield single. The Mets, with whom he started the day, finished in last place in the National League East that year with a 65-97 record. The Expos, with whom he finished the season, finished in third in the National League East that year. There were two Divisions, each with six teams, in the League that year. Both Steve Carlton and Fergie Jenkins, the pitchers Youngblood got his hits against that day, were later elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Youngblood is the only player in Major League Baseball history to play for two different teams, in two different cities, on the same day. Not only that, he will probably always be the only player ever to get base hits against two former Hall of Fame pitchers, pitching for different teams, while playing for two different teams, in two different cities on the same day. Youngblood had a 14 year Major League career and a .265 batting average. He played for the Mets, Expos, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants in his career. Despite playing in 1,147 games, he never appeared in a Postseason game. Even with the way players move from team to team these days, chances are no one will ever play for two different teams in the same day again and Flack, Heathcote and Youngblood will always be remembered for having been the only ones.

This was excerpted from my book THE BASEBALL BUFF’S BATHROOM BOOK, VOLUME 3, which contains 50 essays about major events and/or players in baseball.  The other books in this series and my others, including THE BEST TEAM EVER? about the 2018 Red Sox, are available on Amazon, Kindle and at local independent bookstores in New England.

THE 1959 WORLD SERIES

The 1959 Word Series matched the Los Angeles Dodgers with the Chicago White Sox. The Dodgers, who had moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn the year before had won 88 and lost 66 and had trailed the Milwaukee Braves by one game on September 22nd before ending the season tied with them. The Dodgers beat the Braves two in a row in a Playoff to earn their shot at the Series.
The White Sox, who finished 94-60, had led the American League since July 29th and finished in first, five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians, to punch their ticket for the Series.
The Series opened in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, on October 1, with a crowd of 48,013 on hand. The White Sox, behind a seven inning, six hit shutout performance by 38 year old, veteran Early Wynn, won Game number one easily 11-0. Wynn would be named that Year’s Cy Young Award winner, with a 22-10 record. The Sox got to the Dodger’s Roger Craig for five runs in 2 1/3 innings and the game was over. The big hits for Chicago were two, two-run, homers by first baseman Ted Kluszewski in the third and fourth innings.
Kluszewski, 34 years old, was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to Chicago on August 25th and had hit only four homers in 91 games between the two in the regular season. Ironically, his two regular season homers for the Sox had also come in one game, on September 7th, against the Kansas City Athletics and were also two run shots.
After six innings of Game number two, the next day, the White Sox led the Dodgers and Johnny Podres 2-1. With two out in the top of the seventh, Chuck Essegian, batting for Podres, homered to left, off Sox starter Bob Shaw, to tie the score at 2 all. Shaw then walked Junior Gilliam and Charlie Neal homered deep over the center field fence and the Dodgers were up 4-2.
Larry Sherry replaced Podres on the mound for the Dodgers to start the last of the seventh. Sherry, a 23-year-old rookie, had started five games in July for the Dodgers and moved to the bullpen in August. From August 2nd until the end of the season, he went 6-0 and had three saves, with a 1.61 ERA.
He got the Sox in order in the seventh, getting Luis Aparicio on a pop out, Nellie Fox on a grounder to first and throwing out Jim Landis on a bunt attempt. Chicago’s Turk Lown got the Dodgers in order in the top of the eighth and the game went to the last of the eighth, still 4-2.
Kluszewski led off the inning with a single to center off Sherry and catcher Sherm Lollar beat out a grounder to put runners on first and second with no outs. Al Smith then doubled to deep left center, scoring Earl Torgeson, who had run for Kluszewski but the relay from left fielder Wally Moon to short stop Maury Wills to Johnny Roseboro cut down Lollar, with the tying run, at the plate. Sherry then struck out pinch hitter Billy Goodman and got Jim Rivera to foul out to keep the score at 4-3.
Lown held the Dodgers scoreless in the top of the ninth despite a single and stolen base by Gilliam and the game went to the last of the ninth, still 4-3.
Sherry got Norm Cash to ground out to Gil Hodges at first, Aparicio grounded out to Wills at short and Fox bounced to Charlie Neal at second and the Dodgers had tied the Series at one game apiece. Podres got the win, the third of his career, and Sherry got his first post season save.
The teams moved to Los Angeles for Game 3 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the temporary home of the Dodgers. A crowd of 92,394, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game at the time was treated to a pitchers duel between the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale and the White Sox’ Dick Donovan.
After six innings, the score was still 0-0 and both starting pitchers were still in the game. Despite giving up two out singles to Aparicio and Fox, Drysdale held the Sox scoreless in the top of the seventh.
In the Dodgers’ half, Neal got a single to left with one out and went to second when Moon grounded to second. Donovan then walked Larker and first baseman Gil Hodges, loading the base with two out. Chicago Manager Al Lopez brought in Jerry Staley to replaced Donovan on the mound.
Dodger Manager Walter Alston countered, sending Carl Furillo up to hit for center fielder Don Demeter and he grounded a single up the middle, scoring Neal and Larker and putting the Dodgers up 2-0. Staley got Roseboro to line out for the third out, ending the inning.
Drysdale gave up singles to Kluszewski and Lollar to start the eighth and Sherry came in to relieve him. He hit Billy Goodman, the first batter he faced, with a pitch and the bases were loaded with no outs. Sherry then got Al Smith to ground into a 6-4-3 double play with Kluszewski scoring to make it 2-1 and then got Jim Rivera on a pop foul to Roseboro to end the rally with just the one run scoring.
The Dodgers added a run in their half of the eighth when Maury Wills hit a leadoff single to right and Sherry sacrificed him to second with a bunt. Wills scored on Neal’s double and the game went to the ninth with the Dodgers up 3-1.
Sherry struck out Cash and Aparicio but gave up a single to Nellie Fox to bring the potential tying run to the plate in the person of Jim Landis. Sherry struck him out, his third strikeout of the inning and the Dodgers had their second win and Sherry his second save.
For the second day in a row, the largest crowd in baseball history, 92,650, turned out to see Game 4. Wynn started, for Chicago, against Roger Craig for Los Angeles.
The Dodgers got to Wynn in the last of the fourth when, with two out, Moon, Larker, Hodges and Demeter singled in succession, scoring two runs. With Roseboro at the plate, Hodges scored the third run on a passed ball and Roseboro then singled to right, scoring Demeter and making it 4-0. Lown replaced Wynn and got out of the inning.
It stayed 4-0 until the top of the seventh. With one out, Craig, who had shut out the Sox on six hits to that point, gave up a single to Landis and Aparicio sacrificed him to second. Fox then beat out a roller to second with Landis moving to third. Kluszewski singled to right to score Landis and Lollar blasted a homer to left to tie the game at 4-4. Craig finally struck out Goodman to end the inning.
Staley got the Dodgers in order in the last of the seventh and, for the third game in a row, Sherry came on in relief to start the eighth. Despite walking the pitcher, Staley, he held the White Sox scoreless on three ground balls.
Hodges led off the Dodger eighth with a home run putting the Dodgers up 5-4 and Sherry got Aparicio, Fox and Kluszewski in order in the top of the ninth to give the Dodgers their third victory in four games and earn the win.
In three games, in four days, Sherry had pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on four hits and earned a win and two saves.
The next day, in front of the largest crowd ever, 92,706, Sandy Koufax started for the Dodgers against Chicago’s Bob Shaw. The only run of the game was scored in the Chicago fourth. Fox and Landis had led off the inning with back to back singles and Fox scored from third when Lollar hit into a double play. The 1-0 victory kept the Sox in the Series, trailing three games to two and the Series returned to Chicago.

The scene shifted back to Chicago with a crowd of 47,653 on hand for Game 6. Early Wynn started for the White Sox and Johnny Podres for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers got to Wynn in the third on a two-run homer by the great Duke Snyder, playing in his sixth and last World Series. In the Dodger fourth, Larker led off with a single and Demeter ran for him. Roseboro sacrificed him to second and Wills drove him in with a single to center. The pitcher, Podres, then doubled to center to score Wills and Donovan relieved Wynn for Chicago. He walked Gilliam and gave up a double to Neal scoring two more. Moon then homered to left center making it 8-0 before Lown came on for Chicago and got out of the inning.
With one out in the Chicago fourth, Podres hit Landis with a pitch and walked Lollar before giving up a long homer to right by Kluszewski. After he walked Al Smith, Sherry replaced him and gave up a single to Bubba Phillips and a walk to Torgeson before getting out of the inning with no further scoring and the score 8-3.
He held the White Sox scoreless on three more hits through the eighth and Chuck Essegian added another run for Los Angeles with a homer in the top of the ninth to make it 9-3.
In the last of the ninth, Sherry got Goodman, Cash and Aparicio in order and the Dodgers had won the Series in six games and Sherry had his second win to go with his two saves. The Series had drawn a total of420,784 fan to the ball parks, an average of 70,131 per game.
Larry Sherry, who had pitched in all four Dodger wins, in seven days, a total of 12 2/3 innings, giving up just one run on eight hits, saving two games and winning two games, was named Most Valuable Player of the Series.
Sherry won 53 and lost 44 games in an 11-year career with the Dodgers, Tigers, Astros and Angels. The 1959 World Series was the only time he pitched in the post season and he made the most of it.

RED SOX MANAGERIAL HISTORY AND THE FUTURE

In 1903, the Boston Americans, who would become the Boston Red Sox in 1908, won the first World Series ever played, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three. The first Series, unlike those to follow, was a best of nine Series. After a year with no Series in 1904, future Series would be in a best of seven format.

From 1904 until 1908, when they became the Red Sox, the team did not win a World Series. After becoming the Red Sox, in 1904, the Sox won the Series four times, in the next ten years, the last time in 1918.

As every Red Sox fan knows, the Sox did not win another Series until 2004. They then won four World Series, the last time in 2018, exactly one hundred years after winning their only other four in the period ending in 1918.

Of course, as we all know, the 2019 Red Sox were a huge disappointment and there were only two reasons they did not finish in last place in the American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles were even worse.

Can it be that the Sox will have to wait another 100 years before winning another and then win four in the period from 2104 to 2108? Karl Marx once said that ‘History repeats itself’ and that appears to be true as far as The Red Sox and the World Series are concerned.

Why does a franchise have so much success in the first 18 years of the two centuries in its history and so much failure in the rest of those centuries? Will the Red Sox fans have to wait until the first 18 years of the twenty-second century before they see another World’s Championship?

Before you reject this possibility out of hand, consider this additional information. From 1912 to 1918, when the Sox won their first four World Championships, they had four different Managers. Three of the four, Bill Carrigan, who won two, Jake Stahl and Ed Barrow, who won one each, had World Championship teams. Jack Berry, the fourth, did not win a Series in his full one year at the helm, 1917.

Two of the three Managers who led their teams to a Series win, from 1912 to 1918, did so in their first year as Manager. In 1912, Stahl took over from Patsy Donovan, who had led the Sox to fourth and fifth place finishes in 1910 and 1911 and won the Series in his first year. In 1918 Ed Barrow took over from Berry, who finished second in his one year as Boss, and won the Series in his first year.

In between, when the Sox went 39-41 to start the 2013 season under Stahl, after winning the Series the year before, Carrigan took over from Stahl and led the Sox to fourth place and second place finishes in 1913 and 1914 before winning the Series in 1915 and 1916. The win in 1915 would make him the only Red Sox Manager in history ever to win a World Series without winning one in his first year.

Fast forward eighty-six years to 2004 when Terry Francona replaced Grady Little and took the Sox to their first World Series win in 86 years in his first year as Manager of the team. He would win again in 2007.

In 2012, after Francona was replaced by Bobby Valentine, who was merely a one-year fill-in, while the Sox waited for John Farrell to be available to take over in 2013, the Sox finished a sad last.

What did John Farrell do, in his first year as Manager? Naturally, he took his team to the World Series Championship, becoming the fourth Red Sox Manager of five who had won the Series to do so in his first year as Manager.

I am sure that I don’t have to remind you that Farrell’s successor, Alex Cora, who took over in 2018, took the Sox to the Championship in his first year as Manager, becoming the fifth Red Sox Manager of only six who have led the team to a Series win to do so in his first year as Skipper.

So, if history does repeat itself, as Marx said long ago, do the Red Sox have to wait until sometime after 2104 for a new Manager to come riding in on a white horse to give them another pennant? Or, on the other hand, should they replace Cora with a new Manager in hopes that history will repeat itself?

I have one bit of advice for the Sox ownership, if they are thinking of replacing Cora. Don’t replace him with a former star player.

While the Sox have been managed by such former greats as Joe Cronin, who hit .301 in his career, Cy Young, who won 511 games as a pitcher, Johnny Pesky a .307 career hitter and Lou Boudreau, who hit .295 in a 15 year career, none of them won the World Series. Looking back, none of the Red Sox Managers who have won pennants have been exactly Super Stars.

Stahl, the first winner in the 1900’s, was a first baseman/outfielder, who, in a nine year career hit .261 and Francona, the first winner in the 2000’s, coincidentally, was also a first baseman/outfielder who, in a ten year career, hit just .274.

Carrigan, the second winner in the 1900’s was a catcher who, in 10 years, hit just .257 and Farrell, the second winner in the 2000’s was a pitcher who won 36 and lost 46 in eight years. The last Manager to win the World Series for the Sox in the 1900’s, Ed Barrow, never played a game of professional baseball in his life and Cora, (perhaps the last Manager to win one for the Sox in the 2000’s?) was an infielder with a career batting average of just .243.

Does history repeat itself? It would appear that, for the Red Sox, it has for the past 100 years. Will it continue to repeat itself for the Sox?

If the new General Manager for Baseball Operations Chaim Boom, can hold this team’s nucleus together and bring in some pitching, they should be able to keep history from repeating itself and perhaps the year 2020 can end with their fifth World Series win of the century.

If so, when the 2021 season starts, Red Sox fans can take hope from something another famous philosopher, Joan Rivers, once said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift. That is why we call it the present.”

 

THE WRONG END OF THE MOP

 

Years ago, when I was working for a municipality in Connecticut, the Mayor of the community was constantly complaining about the part-time Janitor, or Maintenance Specialist or whatever he would be called today.  His biggest complaint about the man, who was older, semi-retired, and a part time worker, was that he could never keep the floors in the old Town Hall clean.

 

One day, when I was in the Town Hall, the Mayor called me in to his office and took me down the hall to the Janitor’s Closet.  He opened the door and pulled out what looked like a Space Age mop, with all kinds of attachments and gadgets.  He held it up proudly and said, “Even he should be able to keep the floors clean with that elaborate mop”.  I said, “I hate to tell you Mister Mayor, but I think you are working on the wrong end of the mop.”

 

Baseball’s infamous Pace of the Game Committee has been working from the premise that the game is too slow and lacks action in making recommendations for change.  Like the Mayor above, baseball is working on the wrong end of the mop.   

 

Baseball has been applying band aid after band aid to what they perceive as the problem, in the form of things like a pitch clock, reducing the visits coaches and other players can make to the mound, eliminating the need to throw four pitches to intentionally walk a batter, and the latest, to take effect next year, requiring relief pitchers to pitch to three batters before they can be removed.  All these changes and others have the potential to reduce the length of games a mere few minutes.   Like the Mayor with the mop, in order to resolve this problem, baseball must first identify the problem.

 

I have expressed my concern with the changes that have been tested and/or implemented in an attempt to stop the attendance losses in this column before.  The problem with baseball is not the length of games, it is the lack of excitement in the game as played today.

 

The Gods of Baseball all but eliminated the exciting and entertaining on field arguments between players and umpires with their instant replay and propose to further reduce the possibility of disagreements by installing a robot umpire to call balls and strikes.

 

They eliminated collisions at second base and home plate with their insane rules preventing runners from trying to score or break up double plays.  They can do all they want to shorten the game by gentrifying it and that will not resolve the problem of diminishing attendance.

 

They have added Wild Card teams to the Playoff system, reasoning that the increased numbers of Playoff spots will keep more teams eligible for the Playoffs longer in the season.  They reason that the additional teams contending for the Playoffs will stimulate interest in the lesser teams’ fan bases and thus help attendance.

 

I have talked in this spot, in the past about other ways to address this problem. For example, eliminating the extreme defensive shifts, which have focused attention on the long ball as the way to beat the shift and increased home runs and strikeouts to hitherto unimagined levels, would go a long way toward making the game more exciting.  Who would not agree that scoring a run with three base hits was more exciting than three strikeouts and a home run?

 

Over the years since 1994, when the Major leagues adopted a three Division format for the first time, the difference between the haves and have nots in baseball has steadily increased. 

 

In 1994, the last place teams in the American League’s three Divisions, ended the season an average of 18 games behind the first-place team.  In the National League, the difference between the first place and last place team was also 18 games. 

 

Last year, the last place teams in the American League trailed the Division winners by an average of 43 games and the average deficit of the last place teams in the National League was 30 games.

 

How much interest can the lower teams generate even when competing against the leaders?  Worse than that, how much excitement, which translates to attendance, can a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers generate in the last month of this season. 

 

The O’s, as of Wednesday of this week, had lost 98 games and won just 46 and trailed the first place Yankees by 48 games.  The Tigers had already lost 100 while winning just 43 and trailed the Twins by 45½ games.  

 

In the National League, imagine the lack of excitement generated by a game between the Colorado Rockies, in last place in the West, 32 ½ games out, and the Miami Marlins, trailing by 38 games in the East.

 

This is just one of many problems at the root of baseball’s diminishing attendance, but it is one that needs to be addressed. It has been caused by many factors, not the least of which is the huge salaries that haves are able to pay Free Agents, the abuse and inept use of revenue sharing funds by the smaller market teams and a Collective Bargaining Agreement that has, year by year, eroded baseball’s ability to control its own game.  

 

There is no magic bullet for solving the problem of diminishing attendance, but one thing is clear and becomes clearer with every misguided attempt to resolve it, baseball is working on the wrong end of the mop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CORA’S IN THE ‘CATBIRD SEAT’

Who wouldn’t want to be Alex Cora right now?  At just 43 years of age, the young Red Sox Manager is getting ready to start the 2019 season at the helm of a team that not only won 108 games in the regular season last year, a franchise record, but sailed through the American League Division and Championship Series, making short work of the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros and one of the strongest New York Yankee teams in years.

If that wasn’t enough, they demolished the best the National League had to offer in five games in the World Series and would have swept them, in four, if the turf hadn’t given way under Ian Kinser, giving the Dodgers a new life, in Game 3.  At the end of the season, Cora must have thought it couldn’t get any better.

Guess what, things may have gotten better this past week.  How would he like to have that team back, almost intact, for the 2019 season?   The big headline was the signing of Mookie Betts, last year’s American League Most Valuable Player to a one year, $20. million contract.

Mookie, who everybody, except a few members of the media and about twenty people in California, recognize as the best player in baseball today will be back and, with the class he has shown since bursting on the Boston scene in 2014, he acknowledged his signing by tweeting one word GRATEFUL to the world.

As if that weren’t enough to make Alex believe things could get better, the Sox reached agreement for next year with Xander Bogaerts, $12. million, Brock Holt, $3.6 million, Matt Barnes, $1.6 million, Eduardo Rodriguez, $4.3 million, Brandon Workman, $1.2 million, sandy Leon, $2.5 million, Blake Swihart, $910,600. And Steven Wright, $1.4 million.

Of course, they had already resigned Free Agents Nathan Eovaldi, Steven Pearce and Eduardo Nunez.  J. D. Martinez is in just the second year of his contract, Chris Sale in the third year of his seven-year contract, David Price has opted to come back for the fourth year of his seven and Rick Porcello is signed through the end of 2019.  Add to that the fact that Dustin Pedroia is expected to be ready to come back to full time action and is under contract.

Many of the younger players, including Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, Bobby Poyner and Brian Johnson haven’t even been around long enough to have qualified for arbitration yet so are locked in for the near future.

Then there is Craig Kimbrel, the Closer, who became a Free Agent and hasn’t signed with anyone yet.  It doesn’t appear that the Sox are too anxious to spend a lot of money to entice him back, but the way things are going with Free Agents, he might not be worth as much as he thinks he is.  Whether he comes back or not, Dave Dombrowski has shown he can be counted on to work his magic and come up with a replacement, even if he has to put Eovaldi in that spot and find another starter.

While the Red Sox have plenty of reasons to be happy, things were more subdued in Yankee land this past couple of weeks as the Yankee family mourned the loss of veteran pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyer.

Stottlemyre, who won 164 and lost 139 with an earned run average of 2.97, in 11 seasons, from 1964 until 1974, as a starter with the Yankees, was the Pitching Coach on a team that won four World Series between 1996-2005, through Joe Torre’s reign as Skipper of the Yankees. He lost a long battle with bone marrow cancer on January sixth.

At age 22, he won the first game he pitched as a Yankee on August 12, 1964, pitching a complete game against the White Sox in Chicago and won 9 and lost 3 down the stretch helping the Yankees to rally from third place to a pennant win.

In the 1964 World Series, after Yankee Ace, Whitey Ford, went down with an injury in Game 1, young Mel pitched a complete game victory in Game 2 against none other than the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson.  He came back in Game 5 and, despite giving up just two earned runs in seven innings, lost to Gibson.  In Game seven, with just two days rest, the Yankees had so much confidence in the rookie that they started him against Gibson again but, after shutting out the Cards for three innings, he gave up three runs and took the loss as the Cards won the Series four games to three.

He would win 20 and lose 9 with a 2.63 ERA the following year, one of three years in which he would win 20 or more.  His son, Todd would win 138 games while playing for five different teams in a 14-year career and his son Mel, would pitch briefly for the Kansas City Royals.

Mel Stottlemyre was one of the most beloved Yankees of all time and was honored with a plaque in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium in 2015.

Meanwhile, with only 24 days left before pitchers and catchers report, 34 days left until the first game of Spring Training between the Sox and Northeastern University at Jet Blue Park and 68 days before the Sox open up the 2019 season at Safeco Field in Seattle, Alex Cora must feel like he’s on top of the world or, as the Dodgers’ famed broadcaster, Red Barber, used to say, ‘In the Catbird Seat’.

A LOVE AFFAIR WITH BASEBALL

Baseball World: A lifelong love affair with baseball


With my 81st birthday jut a few days away, I sat down, as I do every week at this time, to come up with a subject for this week’s Baseball World. This morning I thought, what possesses an 80-year-old man to love the game so much that he spends half his time watching or reading about baseball and producing article after article and book after book about the game?
I saw my first Major League Baseball game in the original Yankee Stadium on May 15, 1948. Of course, by then, at the ripe old age of 10, I was already a rabid Yankees fan and had listened to hundreds of games on the radio.

Some of you may ask, why the radio? In 1948, we were still three years from the first national television broadcast of a sporting event, the Giants/Dodgers playoff in 1951 that ended with Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” — and the radio and newspapers were the only way to follow your heroes from afar.
My first game was the first half of a doubleheader — single admission, which was common in those days — and the Yankees were hosting the Philadelphia Athletics.
Our seats were what you would call field boxes today, close to the field on the third base line. They were courtesy of the Fulton Fish Market which bought most of my father’s fish. He captained a fishing dragger out of Stonington, Connecticut, and the Fulton had several such boxes in the great old ball park and was generous with them.
In the top of the eighth inning, with the Athletics ahead 2-1, a Czechoslovakian immigrant’s son, Elmer Valo, the A’s right fielder, doubled to right, scoring Eddie Joost to make it 3-1, A’s.
In the last of the eighth, that same Elmer Valo — who, not unlike the “Flying Hawaiian” Shane Victorino, years later — had a tendency to run into walls, leaped at the low right field wall and took a Yogi Berra drive out of the seats before crashing into the wall. The impact knocked him unconscious and he was carried off the field.
I have since seen many spectacular catches, both in person and on that new invention television, but the best part of seeing this one, for me, was watching the “Tall Tactician,” the legendary manager Connie Mack, in his usual civilian business suit, make his way out to oversee the people tending to Valo. He was in his 48th year of managing the Athletics and was the last manager to manage without a uniform. He would manage two more years, for a total of 50 and win a record total of 3,731 games, nine American League Championships and five World Series Titles.
The losing Yankee pitcher that day was Spec Shea, who had been the first rookie to win an All-Star Game the previous year. Until checking my facts for this article I always thought that the nickname Spec was because he wore glasses but found that he didn’t wear glasses, and the nickname came from the specks of freckles on his face.
Elmer Valo, by the way, broke two ribs in that crash, but didn’t tell anyone until he had played for over a week with the ribs broken. Quite different from today when a “contusion” keeps a player out for days.
The Athletics would win that game 3-1 and sweep the doubleheader with an 8-6 win in Game 2. Joe Coleman pitched a complete game in Game 1, for the win, holding my two biggest heroes, Yogi and Joe DiMaggio, hitless. Phil Marchildon, despite giving up six runs on 10 hits, pitched the complete game win in Game 2. The only bright spot for me was a triple by Joe D as Yogi went hitless again. Marchildon would join the Red Sox, as a Free Agent, in 1950, pitching in relief in just one game, a 13-10 loss to Cleveland, before retiring.
The Yankees finished in third place that year, 11/2 games behind the second place Red Sox who trailed the league winning Cleveland Indians by just one game and 10 games ahead of the fourth place Athletics.
I attended many more games in the old Yankee Stadium over the years, many of them as a guest of the Fulton. In one of them, on September 28, 1951, at age 13, on our way to Florida, my father and I took in another single admission doubleheader, this time against the Red Sox in the Bronx.
The Yankees were in first place by 2 1/2 games over the Cleveland Indians going into the doubleheader with five games to play after it. In Game 1, the Yankees took an 8-0 lead into the ninth inning with Allie Reynolds just three outs away from being the second pitcher in Major League history to throw two no hitters in one year.
The Sox sent up Charlie Maxwell to lead off the ninth and he grounded to Jerry Coleman at second who threw to Joe Collins at first and there was one out. Joe D’s brother, Dom, “the Little Professor,” then drew a walk. Johnny Pesky took a called third strike and Reynolds was one out away from history.
The only person between Allie and a no hitter was the last person you’d want to face in that situation — The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. Reynolds got Ted to hit a foul pop up and, unbelievably, Yogi dropped it, giving Ted another shot. Just as unbelievably, Reynolds went back to the mound and got Ted to pop up foul again and Yogi caught it this time and the no hitter was in the books. To this day, it’s hard for me to believe that Reynolds got Ted for the last out, twice.
The Yankees went on to win Game 2, 11-3, behind Vic Raschi to clinch the pennant and went on to beat the Giants in an all-New York World Series, four games to two.
Looking back at this article, I guess perhaps that I have answered the question posed in my first paragraph about why I do what I do today.

 

THE JOHN HENRY YEARS

THE JOHN HENRY YEARS

 

‘Twas eighty-four years,

Since their last Series win,

In two thousand and two,

John Henry moved in.

 

The next two years,

The change didn’t show,

The Sox finished second,

Made it four in a row.

 

Then on came Francona,

In two thousand and four,

With a bunch called the ‘Idiots’,

Kicked the curse out the door.

 

They went to the Playoffs,

Swept the Angels in three,

Lost three to the Yankees,

Said it couldn’t be.

 

Then came the great comeback,

They won four in a row,

And were in the Series,

How far could they go?

 

The Cards were no match,

Four games it would take,

To give them the title,

That ‘pesky’ old curse they did break.

 

Three years later, two thousand seven,

Won the Division once more,

Swept the Angels with ease,

Showed the Indians the door.

 

The Series brought the Rockies,

From the National League West,

It lasted just four games,

Hardly even a test.

 

Four years later, two thousand eleven,

With just one month to go,

They lost twenty, won seven,

And the playoffs did blow.

 

Out the door went poor Terry,

Midst talk of fried chicken and beer,

Theo went right behind him,

There was nothing to cheer.

 

 

We’d won two World Series,

And beaten the curse,

But we didn’t know,

Things would only get worse.

 

Along came Bobbie V,

A smooth talking Fella,

And took our great team,

Right to the cellar.

 

As soon as they could,

They bade him Goodbye,

And brought in John Farrell,

To give him a try.

 

The team all grew beards,

John was really laid back,

And we went from the bottom,

To the top of the pack.

 

John had four more years,

But didn’t make the show,

With all of that talent

Was time for him to go.

 

 

The talent was there,

To go all the way,

But needed a leader.

To manage their play.

 

From out of the pack,

Alex Cora was the pick,

To bring back the glory,

Could he do the trick?

 

He seemed a great fit,

The team thought him great,

In his very first year,

Won one hundred and eight.

 

They zipped through the Playoffs,

In the blink of an eye,

Then buried the Dodgers,

As easy as pie.

 

Red Sox Nation’s ecstatic,

With lots of good reason,

And can’t wait to start,

Their next winning season.

 

 

The Sox have the horses,

There’s nothing to fear,

Red Sox Nation is in,

For a Happy New Year.