Monday, October 25, 2021

The very first Modern Era Playoff Series


TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Jim Corrales of New York, who correctly stated that seven of the 11 pitchers in the 1963 World Series pitched for west coast teams in their careers. The four Dodgers plus Al Downing, Steve Hamilton and Stan Williams (Downing and Williams for the Dodgers, Hamilton for San Francisco.) The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically 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 so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

Just a note to add; If you look at the top right hand corner of the side bar you will see a link to daily sports scores. We made an agreement with Baseball 24 in a mutual sharing situation. Hope its helpful to fans of several sports.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION:  How many pitchers who won 20 games in 1969, appeared in the 1969 AL and NL Playoffs. Bonus shout out if you can name them.
ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column:
Seven of the 11 pitchers in the 1963 World Series played at one time in their career for a west coast team.

It is time for the Fall Classic so we are looking back at 1960's Fall Baseball.

It may be hard to believe but until 1969 baseball pennants were decided by the two best records in the National and American Leagues. In 1969 baseball expanded and the first playoffs were established 52 years ago! It was October 4th, 1969 when the first divisional playoffs began. The Twins faced the Orioles in Baltimore and the Mets took on the Braves in Atlanta.

(Hank Aaron hits two run homer in Game Three of the 1969 Playoffs)

In the NL series it was Mets ace Tom Seaver against Braves ace knuckle-baller Phil Niekro. Two future Hall of Fame pitchers squared off and nearly went the distance but neither was really effective. Seaver gave up five earned runs in seven innings, Niekro gave up nine but only four earned in eight innings. 

The first run of the game was scored in the second when the Mets Art Shamsky singled, Ken Boswell drew a walk and Jerry Grote singled home Shamsky. Boswell scored on a passed ball and the Mets led 2-0. The Braves played it close for a while but despite solo homers by Hank Aaron and Tony Gonzalez, the Mets won it 9-5. 
The big inning came in the eighth with the scored tied at four. The Mets scored five runs, four earned (an Orlando Cepeda error) to put the game away as only the Mets could do. New York went on to sweep the three game series and face the Orioles in the World Series.

The AL series was all about the power of the O's. Jim Perry opened against Mike Cuellar and Perry was brilliant except for one pitch; the gopher ball; three of them. He gave up solo homers to Frank Robinson, Boog Powell and of all people light hitting, Mark Belanger. For their part the Twins were playing pretty much the same game. Tony Oliva's homer provided two of the Minnesota runs. The other came when Oliva doubled, took third on an error and scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Bobby Allison.
With the Twins leading 3-2 in the ninth Powell led off the bottom of the inning with a dinger to tie it, 3-3. The game almost ended in regulation. Brooks Robinson singled and went to second on an error. Another error put runners at first and second. A ground ball later put Robinson on third with two out. Believe it or not he was out trying to steal home.

The Twins loaded the bases in the 12th but veteran Dick Hall struck out Leo Cardenas and got Johnny Roseboro to fly out. The bottom of the 12th saw Belanger single off Ron Perranoski. Andy Etchebarren bunted him to second and one out later Paul Blair laid down a bunt, beat it out for a single and Belanger came around to score the winning run, 4-3.

The Orioles would go on to face the Mets in the Series only to lose to the Amazin's in the first National League World Championship for New York in more than a decade. 

 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.
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