Sunday, May 1, 2016

NBC Strange Game of The Week: Thursday, April 17th, 1969


MON 5, PHI 4 W-McGinn 1-0 L-Farrell 0-1 HR-Clendenon(2)

PIT 6, NY 1 W-Blass 2-0 L-Cardwell 0-2 HR-Stargell(2)

CHI 3, STL 2 W-Regan 1-0 L-Washburn 1-1 HR-Hickman(3)

ATL 9, HOU 2 W-P.Niekro 1-2 L-Billingham 1-1 HR-H.Aaron(2) H.Aaron 4 rbi.

SD 5, SF 4 (10inns) W-Reberger 1-1 L-Bryant 1-1 HR-Colbert(1)

Jim Hickman enduring early-season weather
Before we get to the Strange Game of The Week, the big news is that the Cardinals finally lost! Ray Washburn was 1 out from making the Redbirds 10-0 and himself 2-0, when Busch Stadium suddenly began to feel like Bedford Falls. The Cards were up 2-1 going into the 9th. Remember, the Cubs had rallied in the top of the 9th the day before, only to blow it in the bottom of the inning. Anyway, Billy Williams singled and was still on base with two outs when Jim Hickman stepped to the plate. "Help me, Clarence," he muttered as he stepped into the batter's box. "I'm not a praying man, but if you can hear me, send me a hanging curve!" Hickman turned on the very next pitch, sending it far out into the left field stands for a 3-2 Cubs lead. "Hot dog!" said the exultant Hickman as he circled the sacks. Phil Regan, who had pitched the 8th, stayed in to finish off the game, and hand St. Louis their first loss. Leo Durocher (looking and sounding a lot like reader Steve) says that every time the Cardinals lose, an angel gets their wings. Thanks, Clarence!

Soon found out, he had a heart of glass
Now for the Strange Game of the Week! I can go long stretches of games and not have the Orsino Board--my self styled weird play board--have much effect at all, but then just sometimes, it decides to make a certain game its own. It also adds color by giving details that aren't on the regular boards. Observe: the Padres rolled into San Francisco to help the Giants with their long-overdue home opener. The SF nine had played their first 8 games on the road, traveling from Atlanta, to San Diego to Cincinnati and then back to the west coast. Good grief, what an itinerary. However, everything on this day was sunshine and daffodils, with starter Juan Marichal chuckling softly to himself as the Padre line-up was announced. Opposing him was Pirates reject Tommie Sisk. The Giants struck for one in the bottom of the 1st, perhaps an insurmountable lead with Juan on the mound. Then, leading off the top of the third, Ed Spiezio lined a hit off of Marichal, knocking him out of the game with a minor injury. Juan won't miss any starts, but had to be relieved by Ron "Herbal Essence" Herbel. He promptly allowed Spiezio to score to tie the game. "I had soap in my eyes," whined the hastily-summoned reliever.

"Mommy, I'm wishing Linzy into the corn field."
Nonetheless, the Giants built a 4-1 lead after 7, driving Mr. Sisk from the mound. Joe Gibbon had pitched a flawless 7th inning, but gave way to Frank "The Wolf Who Lives In Linzy" Linzy. (Only Joni Mitchell fans will get that. Your Goddess is a fangirl.) Linzy has sucked so far, and took that theme right up again by giving up singles to Gonzales and Arcia to start the 8th. However, former Giant Ollie Brown grounded into a double play, seemingly saving Mr. Linzy. Nate Colbert stepped in as the Wolf Man took a book of matches from his hip pocket and moved his gasoline can closer to the pitching rubber. Colbert launched a drive straight down the left field line. Fair? Foul? It bounced off the pole for a 2-run dinger to make it 4-3, and despite Ivan Murrell following with a single and a steal, the Monks could not tie the game.

In the bottom of the 8th, after 2 were retired, Jim Ray Hart hit a drive to right field that bounced off of Ollie Brown's glove and into the corner. As Brown lay broken on the warning track, Hart pulled in at second base. Jack Baldschun relieved Billy McCool and promptly gave up a walk to pinch hitter Dave Marshall and then beaned Ron Hunt to load the bases. Jim "Any Davenport In A Storm" Davenport got up off the couch to hit, having replaced Hal Lanier who aggravated a previous injury earlier in the game. Baldschun reared back and struck him out, keeping the game 4-3. 

"Where am I?"
In the top of the 9th, Chris Cannizaro and Tony Gonzales ripped base hits and were on first and third with two out against the charred and smoking Mr. Linzy when Jose Arcia hit a bouncer to Ron Hunt. Still seeing double from being beaned, Mr. Hunt watched in horror as the ball clanked off of his glove and into right field. As Cannizaro motored home, Bobby Bonds ran in, grabbed the ball, and fired to third, just a hair too late to get the fleet Mr. Gonzales. Larry Stahl flied out, though, to end the inning at 4-4.

"Watch me snag this line drive!"
The game moved into extra frames. Nate Colbert dinked a single leading off the 10th, moved to second on Murrell's ground out, and after Pena flied to left, Ed Spiezio singled in the go-ahead run off Ron Bryant. Spiezio was so busy preening and strutting that he was easily picked off, but the Friars found themselves with a 5-4 lead! Frank "Double" Reberger retired Bob Burda--playing because Stretch McCovey had been ejected arguing strikes in the 5th inning--on a fly to left. Jim Hart then singled and was run for by Mason. "Call me James" he said, in an elegant accent. Bob Barton stood in and bashed a screaming liner to right. Larry Stahl turned on the afterburners, laid out, and nabbed an ice cream cone in the webbing of his glove. What a catch! Ron Hunt, leaving rehab long enough to bat, flailed blindly at three Reberger deliveries and the game was over, a 5-4 win for the Padres. The Friars are now 5-1 in 1-run games, while the Giants sank to 0-5. Three of the games have been against each other. 

His glove hand is fine, but his mind is gone.
Ron Hunt is rumored to believe himself to be an end table, and the poor addled second sacker spends his days with a lamp on his back in the corner of Willie Mays's living room. So sad.

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