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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Long Relief Gamer

 


FOR MORE GENERAL TRIVIA CHECK OUT MY YouTube Channel ! 

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Tim Fealy of Punta Gorda Fl, who correctly identified the Pittsburgh Pirates as the team Mickey Vernon played for at the end of his career. He got to play for the team which eventually would win the World Series in 1960 as the oldest player on the club at 42, the same age as manager Danny Murtaugh. He was signed for the September stretch run and got one hit in nine AB's but was not placed on the World Series roster. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  IF YOU ANSWER THE TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO A WEEKLY DRAWING FOR A Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. DON'T FORGET TO PUT YOUR MAILING ADDRESS IN WITH THE ANSWER.

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TRIVIA QUESTION: While there were a lot of great future and past hitters on the 1963 Houston Colt 45's, only one hitter won two batting titles. Who was he?   
 
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the last team Mickey Vernon played for in his Major League career, in 1960

The biggest change from 1960s MLB to today's game is in the pitching department. Today a club carries half a dozen pitchers who may pitch as long as one full inning. In the bygone era of the 60s, it wasn't crazy to see a reliever go three innings. Hal Woodeschick was one of those guys who had a reputation of going even longer when needed. In fact, he was a member of the 1963 NL All-Star team most likely based on his performance in a game which took 4:46 minutes to play. 

It was June 2, 1963. The "long" reliever for the Houston Colt 45's was called on to be a master of long relief and was rewarded for his efforts. The game at County Stadium in Milwaukee featured the powerful Braves and the barely born Houston club. Just over 8,000 fans packed the stadium for a club which was searching for a new home. Finishing 9th out of 10 teams in attendance the Braves would draw far fewer than a million fans on the season.  


        (Lee Maye of the Braves recorded this really cool song)

The Braves would hit 204 homers this season but this game saw none by Milwaukee which featured Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Torre and Lee Maye in their lineup along with Mack Jones. Denny Lemaster started against Bob Bruce. Both pitchers were masterful with the Colts scoring one in the second and the Braves their lone run in the third. That was it until inning no. 17. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Bruce was masterful through 11 innings, allowing only one run on eight hits. Lemaster matched him pitch for pitch going 12.2 innings giving up only seven hits and striking out 10. He did walk seven and gave up the game's only home run to Carl Warwick.  

In the 12th inning, manager Harry Craft called on Woodeschick to replace Bruce. Three times over the next six innings the Braves went 1-2-3. Only in the 15th did the ace reliever get into trouble and it wasn't his fault. Bob Uecker pinch-hit and sent a ground ball to third which aging  Johnny Temple muffed.  Maye grounded into a force out and advanced to second on a passed ball (Jim Campbell couldn't handle it) with Mathews at the plate. Woodeschick struck out Mathews looking, intentionally walked Aaron and got Torre to ground out. Inning over, no runs.

In the top of the 17th after Ron Piche struck out both Temple and Howie Goss, Warwick singled. Rusty Staub singled putting runners at first and second. Campbell and Al Spangler both singled  driving in runs as the Colt 45's led 3-1. That was all Woodeschick needed. After a lead-off single to Roy McMillan in the bottom of the 17th, he got Maye, Jones and Mathews to earn the win. 

His stat line read six scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out three and only one walk which was intentional. A masterful performance and what did the power hitting top four in the line-up of Maye, Mathews, Aaron and Torre do that game? They went a combined 0-24! 

Woodeschick would have other solid years moving forward. This one he tossed 114 innings with 1.97 ERA. This was the first year he was converted to a full time reliever, having been a starter and swing man through out his previous big league years. Starting in 1963 he never started another game. It was worth it as he became an ace reliever, even leading the league in Saves with 23 in 1964. He retired after the 1967 season.

SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO; brillpro@gmail.com  
 =======================================================
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

You can get a signed paper back copy of the above book "Tales of My Baseball Youth - a child of the sixties"  for $15 Shipping Included 
 
Use PayPal to brillpro@prodigy.net or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. 

 

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The American League Mets

 

FOR MORE GENERAL TRIVIA CHECK OUT MY YouTube Channel ! 

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Tim Nathan of Berkley, MI, who correctly identified Bill Monbouquette as the pitcher who gave up Hawk Harrelson's First Red Sox Homer. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  IF YOU ANSWER THE TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO A WEEKLY DRAWING FOR A Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. DON'T FORGET TO PUT YOUR MAILING ADDRESS IN WITH THE ANSWER.

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TRIVIA QUESTION: With what team did Mickey Vernon play his last major league game?   
 
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:
Ken Harrelson made his Red Sox debut on August 29, 1967 and hit a home run in his first at bat for Boston in the second game of a double header. It was the Yankee pitcher Bill Monbouquette who gave up that home run.

When expansion came to the major leagues at the start of the 1960's most of the focus was on the National League where the New York Mets debuted and would go on to become the losing-est team in major league history. While the Mets were floundering in the NL, over in the AL the team representing the nation's capitol was holding court with equal risk. 

 


The Washington Senators proved to be as inept as their counterparts in government. While the Senators on Capitol Hill were struggling with a changing population and an explosion of an advancing America, the Senators on the ball field were just trying to find a way to win a game. 

In an unusual situation the two leagues expanded in consecutive years. The Senators opened their franchise playing in 1961. New York would have to wait until 1962 to see the Mets try to replace the NL Giants and Dodgers who had moved on four years earlier.


While the Mets would lose 120 games under Casey Stengel in the first season, the Senators would lose 100 under Mickey Vernon. New York was saddled with players who would never reach the plateau they so wanted in the bigs. Names such as Elio Chacon, Charlie Neal, Rod Kanehl and Choo-Choo Coleman would send as much fear into the opposing pitching staff as would the Senators Gene Green, Coot Veal, Willie Tasby and Billy Klaus.

Each team had it's fading stars. Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn, Frank Thomas, Roger Craig and Clem Labine were big time players in the 1950's. So were Dale Long, Danny O'Connell, Dick Donovan and Mike Garcia who twice won 20 games with Cleveland. 

The fact would remain of the young players on those two rosters only two players, one from each team, would have much of a future as it were after the 1962 season. The Mets Ed Kranepool, a top and highly touted signee would only play in 17 games in the clubs inaugural season and bat .167. He would be a member of the 1969 Amazing Mets World Series winning team. Big Ed would hit .261 in parts of 18 seasons and drive 118 of his hits into the bleachers. 

On the AL side, the Senators had a 21 year-old left-hander named Claude Osteen. Osteen only pitched 18 innings, starting three games and splitting two decisions. His ERA was 4.91 but he showed promise. Signed by the Reds in 1957 he was traded in September of 1961 to Washington for Dave Sisler. He would pitch well enough for the cellar dwelling Washington club but he was a key figure in a much bigger trade in 1964.  


The Senators sent him along with John Kennedy and $100,000 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later, Frank Howard, Ken McMullen, Phil Ortega and Pete Richert. The Dodgers sent Dick Nen (December 15, 1964) back to Washington to complete the trade. 

Osteen would go on to win in double figures nine times for the Dodgers, twice winning 20 (1969 ad 1972) and won a total of 196 games. He was a much better pitcher than his 195 losses would indicate. In the World Series he fashioned a five-hit shutout against the Twins in Game 3 of the 1965 classic.

When the dust had settled on those first seasons few players would stick around. Garcia who won 142 games in his career failed to win even one for Washington and retired after the season. Gene Woodling, Washington's best hitter at .313, was sold to the Mets halfway through the 1962 season. After the season Washington's home run leader with 18, Gene Green was traded to Cleveland in a four player deal for Jimmy Piersall. 

In New York, while Jay Hook lost 19 games, Al Jackson and Roger Craig both lost 20. Craig dropped 24, Jackson lost 20. Not to feel too bad about the opening season, Craig hung around and lost 22 the following year. Jackson would wait until 1965 to duplicate the same season with a record again of 8-20.

Mets Slugger Frank Thomas had his second highest homer total with 34, one shy of his final year in Pittsburgh in 1958. He hung around a couple more seasons while Ashburn's only season with the Mets was his last one and a good one at that. The former Phillie Wiz Kid batted .306, retired and later became a broadcaster. He even stole 12 bases at age 35. 

Through the clubs first four years the Mets would drop 452 games. The Senators during the first four years lost 407. Such ineptness may never be seen again. By the time the 1972 season rolled around the Senators would leave Washington for the friendly confines of Arlington, Texas, having never won more than 86 games. They closed out the decade in 1969 with the clubs only season where they won more than they lost, finishing with a .531 winning percentage.   

SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO; brillpro@gmail.com  
 ==========================================================
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

You can get a signed paper back copy of the above book "Tales of My Baseball Youth - a child of the sixties"  for $15 Shipping Included 
 
Use PayPal to brillpro@prodigy.net or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. 

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Hawk VS. Charlie O.

 

FOR MORE GENERAL TRIVIA CHECK OUT MY YouTube Channel ! 

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Charles Van Horne of Menomonee Falls, WI, who correctly identified Maury Wills as the 1962 NL MVP. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  IF YOU ANSWER THE TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO A WEEKLY DRAWING FOR A Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. DON'T FORGET TO PUT YOUR MAILING ADDRESS IN WITH THE ANSWER.

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TRIVIA QUESTION: Ken Harrelson made his Red Sox debut on August 29, 1967 and hit a home run in his first at bat for Boston in the second game of a double header. Who was the Yankee pitcher who gave up that home run?   
 
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:
The NL MVP in 1962 was the Dodgers' Maury Wills

The year 1967 was one of the strangest a ballplayer ever had. It gave him an out, an in, and a new lease of life and all because he opened his mouth. The player was Ken "the Hawk" Harrelson.  The Kansas City A's of the 1960s were ruled over by the man baseball loved to hate; Charlie O. Finley. 


Whether it was wanting to deploy orange baseballs and other gimmicks or trying to sell his three best players for millions of dollars in a salary dump (which was voided by commissioner Bowie Kuhn), Charlie O. was pretty much a side show. He was the sideshow Harrelson could not abide. The day after Finley fired manager Alvin Dark with the team record at 52-69, Harrelson was quoted in a Washington newspaper calling Finley "a menace to baseball." He later said he never used the word "menace." Finley released Harrelson who was hitting .305 with six homers in 61 games.

 That action took place August 25. Three days later Harrelson signed a lucrative deal with the World Series bound Red Sox. The Sox were in need of a power hitting outfielder since Tony Conigliaro was beaned and out for the season. While he only hit .200 for Boston, he did drive in 14 runs, smack 3 homers and get 16 hits in 23 games. 

In the Series, which the Red Sox lost, Harrelson could only manage a lone single off Cardinal pitching. It wasn't a great performance but he made up for it the following season by leading the AL in RBI with 109 and belting 35 home runs while batting .275 in his finest season.  He was still cranking homers in 1969, but the Sox wanted more and sent him in a deal on April 19, 1969. He was traded by the Boston Red Sox with Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro to the Cleveland Indians for Joe Azcue, Vicente Romo and Sonny Siebert. But, he refused because of his business interests in Boston. Moving out of Massachusetts to Cleveland was going to cost him a bundle. He decided to retire.

After a meeting with the commissioner and a reworking of his contract, the deal went through and Harrelson ended up with 30 homers and 92 RBI despite a .221 BA. After the 1969 season he would play only 69 more big league games before calling it quits. In the midst of all that he broke his leg while sliding in spring training, opening the door to be replaced by Chris Chambliss. 

He tried professional golf for a while before coming back to baseball as a successful play-by-play announcer. He also had a brief stint as a team executive with the White Sox and was known for making several mistakes. One of them was trading Bobby Bonilla to the Pirates for Jose DeLeon while also firing Tony La Russa as field manager. 

SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO; brillpro@gmail.com  
 ==========================================================
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

You can get a signed paper back copy of the above book "Tales of My Baseball Youth - a child of the sixties"  for $15 Shipping Included 
 
Use PayPal to brillpro@prodigy.net or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cleveland Does NOT Lose 100 Games

 

FOR MORE GENERAL TRIVIA CHECK OUT MY YouTube Channel ! 

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Aaron Woien of Indianapolis, IN, who correctly identified the Montreal Expos as the team which became the Washington Nationals. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  IF YOU ANSWER THE TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO A WEEKLY DRAWING FOR A Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. DON'T FORGET TO PUT YOUR MAILING ADDRESS IN WITH THE ANSWER.

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TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the National League MVP in 1962?   
 
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:
The Washington Nationals were previously the Montreal Expos

 

                                             (The Cleveland Indians Song -- Sorry Cubs Fans)

As major league teams settle in for the post season we look back at a game which was the total opposite dating back to the first year of the divisional playoffs in MLB; 1969. It was the season the Orioles would rebound to win 109 games before going on to defeat the 97-win Minnesota Twins to make it to the World Series. 

It was also the year the Amazin' Mets won the East, and then beat the Braves to move on to play in one of the most memorable World Series ever. The Mets beat the O's and were kings of not only New York, but the baseball world. 

There was one team which was in danger of losing 100 games that initial playoff year; The Cleveland Indians. To lose 100 when playing in the first divisional season would be the ultimate embarrassment. The Indians were not a terrible team. They would finish the season both fifth in team hitting and team pitching. They were also fifth in fielding. 

They had power with both Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Tony Horton blasting 27 homers with Duke Sims pitching in another 18. The clubs .237 team BA belied the fact only three starters batted above .250 with .278 topping the list. They only scored 573 runs and only two teams scored fewer. Clutch, they were not.
On the mound Sam McDowell won 18 but Luis Tiant lost 20, which is why perhaps the game on Tuesday September 23rd was so important. The Indians had 61 wins and 92 losses (44.5 games back of the Orioles) with seven games left. A loss to the Orioles on this date would mean if the Indians did not win another game to finish out the season, they would lose 100 games. 

The club had just beaten the Senators and was to face Baltimore in a three game set in Cleveland's final home stand of the year. McDowell would go the mound seeking his 18th win. He'd face 14 game winner Tom Phoebus and a line up packed with power hitters the likes of Frank Robinson (31 homers to date), Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell and Don Buford. 
The game started out with both pitchers breezing through the first two innings. In the third however, McDowell would not be denied. He led off the inning with a single and went to third when Jose Cardenal laid down a bunt, which catcher Andy Etcheberren mishandled. After Frank Baker walked to load them up, Harrelson and Horton both drew bases on balls to send in two runs, 2-0 Indians. When Chuck Hinton hit a sac fly to drive in the third run, it was all McDowell needed, leading 3-0.

Despite Frank Robby's 32nd homer, a solo shot, it was all the O's could muster off the masterful and determined Sudden Sam. McDowell went the distance, giving up three hits, walking none and striking out six for his 18th and final win of the season, 3-1. Final because as might be expected the Indians went onto lose the next seven games to finish out the season with 99 losses.

They dropped the next two to the O's, three to Washington and a pair to the Yankees to close out the season in New York. It was a long ride back to Cleveland after that final game, but the Indians could take heart; they did NOT lose 100 games.  Oh I forgot, the Cleveland faithful could have applied for stardom in the film "Major League." The Indians finished 11th out of 12 teams in attendance. Rachel Phelps would have been proud, if not ecstatic.

TRIVIA CONTEST; After reading this column you can enter the weekly trivia contest for a chance to win a Starbucks Gift Card. Enter via the following email. Send 1) your answer to the trivia question at the top of the column, 2) your name, address and email so where we know where to send the card if you win 3) any comment you have on the column. One winner will be selected at random each week based on correct answers with the odds being based on the number of correct entries.  Please cut and paste or enter the following email into your email system.

                             SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO; brillpro@gmail.com  
 ==========================================================
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

You can get a signed paper back copy of the above book "Tales of My Baseball Youth - a child of the sixties"  for $15 Shipping Included 
 
Use PayPal to brillpro@prodigy.net or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column.