Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28, 1938: Gabby Hartnett, and The Homer In The Gloaming

     On September 28, 1938, with the game about to be called by darkness at Wrigley Field in Chicago, player/manager Gabby Hartnett launched a solo shot to left that was lost in the night as it sailed over the wall in left to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5. The game was crucial, as it knocked the Pirates out of first, and would place the Cubs atop the standings where they would remain until season's end. The Cubs ended up being swept in the World Series by the New York Yankees. However, the ride to winning that National League Pennant would forever be remembered, and Hartnett's home run that came in the dark would become an immortalized moment known as the "homer in the gloaming."

     As the 37-year-old Hartnett circled the bases an eruption of more than 34,000 cheers filled the air. He was mobbed by his team, and the fans as well before the ushers on hand were able to get him away from the celebration. In an article that was published in the Spokesman Review on April 9, 1950, Hartnett looked back on the moment in great detail.  He began by saying "Do you know how you feel when you're real scared, or something big is going to happen? Well, that's how I felt for one terrific minute on my best day in baseball." It is an absolutely great piece of work that you can read here: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=vXpWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oeUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6740%2C4128911

You could also check out the SABR account of the game here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/sep-28-1938-pittsburgh-5-chicago-cubs-6

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN193809280.shtml

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 1902: Tinker, Evers, and Chance Turn Their First Double Play

   

     On September 15, 1902, at the West Side Grounds in Chicago the famed combination of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance executed their first double play, during what turned out to be a 6-3 for their Cubs win over the Cincinnati Reds. Over the next decade the three men locked down what was considered one of the best defensive infields of the era, as they were key pieces for the club that won the National League Pennant four times from 1906 to 1910, which included back-to-back World Series titles in 1907 and 1908. In 1910 they were forever immortalized in a poem written by Franklin P. Adams. A New Yorker, Adams watched the trio turn his fair share of double plays against his Giants. The poem goes as follows:

These are the saddest of possible words-
 "Tinkers to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, 
Tinkers and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, 
Making a Giant hit into a double- 
 Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble,
"Tinker to Evers to Chance." 
     You can feel the pain of being a Giants fan in that poem. The trio was elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1946. Some have said that the poem made their induction into Cooperstown happen. Even if that is the case what they did on the diamond should not be forgotten, and when we hear those three names mentioned in reference to a play you know it was a beauty. Unless it happened against the club you had rooting interest in, and if that was the case you would know exactly how Mr. Adams felt when he saw Tinker fire over to Evers, who turned and fired to Chance.

The article in the photo appeared in the Baltimore American the following day. The trio appeared on the diamond two days earlier together, but it was this that saw their first twin killing turned. While the article does not mention the double play, I do look at it as a little piece of history knowing that it all started right there.

I really enjoyed this short video that has the poem being narrated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPDhWFLIIQU

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9, 1965: Sandy Koufax Achieves Perfection

     On September 9, 1965, at 9:46 p.m. in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California, Sandy Koufax achieved perfection, by striking out Chicago Cubs pinch hitter Harvey Kuenn for the 27th out in a 1-0 win in front of 29,139 fans at Dodger Stadium. It was 27 up and 27 down for the lefty who had already thrown three no hitters in his career. The fourth was more than a no-no. It was perfect.

     Koufax and Dodgers needed perfection to beat the Cubs that day as their starter Bob Hendley delivered with a one hit performance of his own. The game's only run was unearned, as Lou Johnson worked a walk out of Hendley, then moved over to second on a sacrifice, before coming around to score on a wild throw. Johnson also broke up Hendley's bid for a no-no with a seventh inning double. While Hendley had misfortune, Koufax was dealing. Absolutely untouchable as he struck out 14 men, which included the last six men he faced. I consider the call by Vin Scully piece of art, as he painted a picture with words that is very easy to see in yourmind's eye. Truly a thing of beauty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJdli-ONL-8

     The perfect game proved to be the last no-no in what was an illustrious career. Albeit short. The next year was his last despite the fact he would have been viewed in his proverbial prime. Arm problems had caught him at an early age. His four no-hitters stood as a record until Nolan Ryan surpassed him by throwing his fifth in 1981. Ryan holds the current record with seven.

Check out one of Sandy Koufax's legendary box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN196509090.shtml

The amazing piece of sports art that is featured with today's fact can be found here: http://www.fascinationstart.com/artwork/Stephen_Holland_.sku19314 

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 1939: Rapid Robert Becomes The Youngest 20 Game Winner

     On September 8, 1939, at the age of 20 years, 10 months, and 5 days old, Cleveland Indians legend Bob Feller became the youngest pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to win 20 games. The youngster entered the record books in front of a crowd of just 598 people in St. Louis, as he led the way to a 12-1 victory by allowing just five hits, while his teammates pounded out 13 hits, and made the victory an easy one. Feller finished that season with a 24-9 record, and would reach the 20 win mark a total of six times in his career.

There is a very good possibility the 266 game winner would have won 300 games in his career had it not been for him losing three years due to his service to his country in World War II. Truly a legend of his time, Feller was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1962. His record for being the youngest 20 game winner stood until Doc Gooden notched his 20th as a member of the Mets in 1985. Gooden was 20 years, 9 months, and 9 days old when he eclipsed the mark that had been set by the man they called "Rapid Robert" 75 years ago today.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS193309081.shtml

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7, 1980: Marcol's Blocked Kick Turn Into a Big Win For The Pack

 
   On September 7, 1980, tied 6-6 in overtime at Lambeau Field, Chester Marcol of the Green Bay Packers sent the crowd a home happy in an unorthodox way, as he stepped up to kick what looked like it would be a game winning 35 yard field goal, only to have it blocked by Chicago's Alan Page. The ball shot right back to Marcol and the kicker was off to the races. He broke free around the left end, and outran each and every Bears player, as they were stunned by the turn of events that led to a 12-6 win for The Pack. 



Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30,1912: Earl Hamilton Records The First No-No in Browns/Orioles History

     On August 30, 1912, Earl Hamilton of the St. Louis Browns no-hit the Tigers in Detroit, as he led the way to a 5-1 win. The lone Tigers run came in the fourth when Ty Cobb worked a walk out of the lefty. That was followed by what looked to be a fielder's choice off the bat of Sam Crawford that turned into an error. An alert Cobb turned it into a run as he rounded the bags, and beat a late throw to the plate. While the shutout was erased, Hamilton's no-no remained intact, and at the end of that day he had recorded the first no-hitter in the history of the franchise that we all know today as the Baltimore Orioles.

     His 115-147 record might not impress some, but the fact is in many ways he was a victim of circumstance who played on some bad teams. His lifetime E.R.A of just 3.00 alone tells you that he was a quality pitcher, but as luck would have it even during a season that he held a 2.50 e.r.a., he still had a losing record (16-18). However, his career did span over 14 seasons and he had a no-hitter on his resume that would be remembered more than 100 years later, as we celebrate it today.

Check out Hamilton's career numbers here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hamilea01.shtml

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 29, 1977: Lou Brock Becomes The Stolen Base King

     On August 29, 1977, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock became the all time stolen base leader, after swiping two bags against the Padres in San Diego. The legendary base burglar came into the contest one stolen base shy of Ty Cobb's record of 892, and by the seventh inning he hoisted second base over his head as baseball's king of thieves.

     Brock was off and running right out of the gate. He worked a walk out of San Diego's starter Dave Freisleben to lead off the contest, and moments later he made a break for second. San Diego's catcher Dave Roberts attempted to gun him down, but sailed his throw wide, so Brock had not only equalled the mark, he had also taken third on the error. It proved to be a spark for the Cardinals offense, as they went onto plate three runs in the inning that had saw their entire lineup take an at bat.

     The Friars bounced back with a couple of runs in the third to cut the lead to 3-2, and that is where the score sat when Brock came to the plate in the seventh. He had just watched his pitcher rap out a single, and was hoping for a few more sparks. Instead he hit into a fielder's choice that retired the pitcher, but it still gave him the opportunity to make history, and it was an opportunity that would not be wasted. Freisleben was still on the bump for San Diego, and this time Brock broke on his first pitch. Once again Roberts tried to gun him down, but the throw was off line, and Brock came sliding into second as the baseball's all time stolen base leader.

     Brock's first concern was Bill Almon. The San Diego shortstop had gotten spiked on the play, and Brock wanted to make sure he was not injured. Once he realized he was okay a mob of teammates formed around him. The base was uprooted and awarded to him, and he was given a microphone to address the cheering crowd. He reminded them to not just think of him on that day, but to think of Cobb as well. He had a great respect for the player who he had began chasing in 1962, and his words made it be known. The fans in San Diego made it be known that had great respect for Brock as well as they bestowed cheers upon him. It was an all around classy moment in time.

     After things settled down, Brock and company failed to scratch out a run in the inning, and the speedster was removed before the bottom of the frame began. The day was spoiled a bit thereafter, as Al Hrabosky served up a two run shot ot Mike Ivie in the eighth. The big blast proved to be all the Padres needed to win the game 4-3. However, it was still a day to be celebrated, as Brock's achievements were much bigger than the game that was played on the field that day.

     Like many who are in pursuit of a record, Brock was relieved to have it out of the way. He spoke of reaching a 1,000 stolen bases. It was a number that was not too far off, but it proved to be a number that he would not reach, as he played two more seasons, before retiring with 938 stolen bases. Brock's record stood until 1991 when it was surpassed by Rickey Henderson. While Brock's record did not stand the test of time, what he did on the diamond will not be forgotten, as he stands amongst those who are considered immortal in Cooperstown, New York.

Check out the box score and Lou's career numbers:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN197708290.shtml
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/brocklo01.shtml