Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Expansion Teams Fodder For Division Leaders: Wednesday, June 25th, 1969


CHI 9, PIT 7  W-Jenkins 9-4 L-Ellis 4-9  S-Regan(10)  HR-Stargell(11) Hundley(5)

STL 5, MON 1  W-Gibson 10-1 L-Renko 0-2

NY 1, PHI 0  W-Koosman 8-4 L-Wise 4-6  HR-Kranepool(4)  Wise 2-hitter.

LA 5, ATL 3  W-Sutton 9-4 L-Jarvis 8-5  S-Mikkelsen(10)

CIN 4, SD 1  W-Maloney 9-4 L-J.Niekro 6-4  HR-Colbert(6)

SF 9, HOU 7  W-Sadecki 4-2 L-Griffin 3-9  HR-Henderson(3) Rader(3)

"Put me in, coach!"
The Pirates had a good time sweeping the Cubs recently at Forbes, but they should have remembered that paybacks are a....unpleasant experience. The Cubbies have finally found some offense, and have taken the first 3 of their 4 game set at Wrigley against the Corsairs. Randy Hundley hit a home run, circled the bases, and fell dead at home plate; he'll miss one game as Ken "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Back-Up Catcher" Rudolph makes an appropriately seasonal appearance. 

Look out for the Mets!
Not only have the Pirates fallen a game and a half behind the Cubs; they now feel the Mets breathing down their necks, just a half a game back. For the first time since they were 7-7, the Mets find themselves back at .500, after taking a 1-0 squeaker at home against Philly. Rick Wise tossed a nifty two-hitter, but the first of those hits was a mammoth second-inning solo blast by Ed Kranepool. Jerry Koosman made it stand up all the way, with the Quakers being blanked for the 13th time. The only other hit the Mets got was an 8th inning single by Bobby Pfeil, who was promptly thrown out on the bases. But it was enough for the New Yorkers to take their third straight one-run win from the Phils.

His e.r.a. is a nifty 1.60.
Bob Gibson toyed with the homestanding Expos, allowing only a token run as he won his 9th game since May 12th, and his 10th overall against just one loss. When the Cards were starting out 20-4, Gibby contributed just one of those wins, but of the Cards' next 25 wins, 9 are Gibby's (and he has a save). Wednesday's run was the only one he has allowed in his last three starts. Redbird batters hit around in the top of the 1st against kid twirler Steve Renko, plating 4 and coasting to victory.

Why is this man smiling?
To win your division, the best bet is to beat your divisional opponents. Someone should inform the Astros. If you throw out San Diego--and who would care?--the Spacemen are 6-24 against the rest of the west. Putrid! Joe Morgan's horrid season continued Wednesday as he went 0-for-5 with a pair of miscues. "I'll never be Jim Lefebvre!" he wailed. 

At Atlanta, Jim Brewer picked up a "hold" against the Braves. "Wtf is a hold?" he inquired, while watching bullpen mate Pete Mikkelsen garner the save (a brand new stat for '69!) to carry the Dodgers to their third straight triumph over the teepee-dwellers. 

Nate ruins everything.
Finally, Jim Maloney made short work of the expansion Pods, but Friar first sacker Nate Colbert did ruin his shutout bid with a dinger in the ninth. It was only Nate's 6th, in his team's 75th game; more was expected of him in the long-ball department, but maybe he'll pick it up in the second half. Meanwhile, teammate Al Ferrara donned the Golden Sombrero, going 0-for-4, all strikeouts. Wave, Al!
He enjoyed the homer.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Total Insanity At Shea! : Tuesday, June 24th, 1969


CHI 4, PIT 3  W-Aguirre 2-2 L-Dal Canton 3-4  Beckert 2-out walk-off single.

MON 3, STL 2  W-Robertson 6-6 L-Carlton 10-4  S-McGinn(2)  HR-Bailey(4) Jones(8)

NY 12, PHI 11 (11inns)  W-McGraw 3-5 L-Palmer 0-1  HR-D.Johnson 2(8) Money(3) Swoboda(3)phGW  Money 4 rbi, Swoboda 1-out solo pinch hit walk-off HR.

NY 4, PHI 3 (12inns)  W-Ryan 1-0 L-Wilson 1-7  HR-Joseph(3) Agee(11) Dyer(1)ph  Money 5 hits, Garrett 0-out walk-off single.

LA 7, ATL 3  W-Osteen 7-3 L-Reed 6-5  HR-Haller(7) H.Aaron(22)

CIN 6, SD 3  W-Culver 6-1 L-Santorini 3-13 HR-Bench(9)  Tolan 4 rbi.

HOU 2, SF 0  W-Dierker 6-7 L-Marichal 6-7 HR-Wynn(11)  Dierker 1-hitter

In a season replay like this one, when it's all over, only a very few games stand out enough to be remembered when it's all said and done. In my 1967 AL, I remember Boston staying alive with a nail-biter win against the Tigers, and Don Mincher's total destruction of his former Twins teammates. In my '65 replay I recall Ron Perranoski going down in flames as the eventual champion Reds beat back the Dodgers in a September series. In '61 I remember Orlando Cepeda's quest for 60 HR going down to the last day, when he had to settle for 59. And when '69 NL is done, I think I'll remember the Mets sweeping the Phillies in a crazy doubleheader at Shea Stadium that may have finally set the Mets on the winning track. Fasten your seat belts. Here we go!

Sleepers Awake!
Game 1. Don Money pretty much sleep-walked through the season until I finally benched him recently in favor of lantern-jawed Terry Harmon. However, doubleheaders got Money back in there and he has done nothing but rake ever since. In the top of the first, he launched a 2-out 3-run bomb off of Gary Gentry to stake the Phils to a 3-0 lead.  The Mets came back in the bottom of the 1st with 2 off of Billy "Spark Plug" Champion. Top of the third, Phils take a 5-2 lead, only to see the Mets cut it to 5-4 in the bottom of the 3rd. By the end of the 4th, the game was tied 6-6 and both starters had hit the shower. The last two Mets runs were courtesy of not one, but two errors by Ric Joseph, doing an impression of a first baseman.

Even his mother doesn't remember him.
Enter Cal Koonce, whose first official act was to give up a single to Larry Hisle and a two-run shot to Deron Johnson for an 8-6 Phillies lead. The forgettable Al Raffo held the Mets in check for three innings. Then in the bottom of the 7th, a barrage of singles off of Turk Farrell resulted in 4 runs and a 10-8 Mets lead. Enter relief ace Tug McGraw to pitch the 8th. The Mets were feeling good.

He's happy.
Rich Barry had the audacity to collect a two-out single, followed by an rbi double off the bat of error-prone Ric "Chief" Joseph, making the Nez Perce tribe happy, and making the score 10-9. Up stepped Terry Harmon, who insulted Mr. McGraw by lining a single that scored Joseph with the tying run. 10-10! The Mets came right back against hapless Quaker reliever Billy Wilson. Tommie Agree rattled a double off the wall leading off the last of the 8th, and was immediately driven in on an Ed Kranepool single. 11-10 Mets and another chance for McGraw to nail it down. But no! Deron Johnson led off the top of the 9th with his second homer of the game, knotting it up again at 11. Good grief! 

He'll end this.
Somehow Mister McGraw kept the Phils off the board in the 10th and 11th, working 4 innings in all. As a converted starter, he could handle it. Lowell Palmer blanked the Mets in the 10th, and got Wayne Garrett leading off the last of the 11th. Manager Gil "Gill Man" Hodges bobbed up out of his tank and sent Ron Swoboda up the dish to hit. Palmer delivered his pitch and Swoboda killed it, sending it far over the wall for a crazy 12-11 win. How about THAT?!

Doctor No.
Game 2. After the two teams combined for 23 runs on 34 hits in the opener, they took the field in the nightcap for a very different kind of game. Through 8 innings, Grant Jackson and hard-luck Mets starter Jim McAndrew matched zeroes on the board, with just this one difference: Jackson had a no-hitter going through 8! In the top of the 9th, Don Money--who would end up going 7-for-11 for the two games--led off with a double down the line and was bunted along to third by Harmon. With the absurd Vic Roznovsky due up, Mike Ryan was sent to hit for him, and "Irish" lofted a sac fly to give the Quakers a slim 1-0 advantage. Nobody was happier about it than Grant Jackson.

It's gone!
With the pitcher's spot up first in the bottom of the ninth, Gill Man pulled third string backstop Duffy Dyer out of the seaweed and sent him to face Mr. Jackson. Nothing like sitting around on the bench for six hours or so and then being asked to break up a no-hitter in the 9th! But that's exactly what he did. Dyer drove a Jackson pitch out of the park for his first homer all season, good for a 1-1 tie. The crowd at Shea--and your Impartial Goddess--went completely insane. Ya gotta believe! 

Raw suckage.
With Tug McGraw totally used up, reliever Ron Taylor toed the slab for the Metropolitans in the top of the tenth. Joseph:HR. Briggs: double. Hisle: double. Johnson: single. Money: single. Luckily for New York, Briggs had brilliantly gotten himself picked off second, but the Phillies plated 2 on 5 hits before Taylor finally got them out. 3-1 Phils into the last of the tenth. Dyer's heroic home run was looking like it wouldn't be enough, and after all this, the Mets were staring down a split with the last place Philadelphians. 

He's got the moves!
Grant Jackson had lost his no-no, but still carried a 1-hitter and a two-run lead into the bottom of the tenth. "I scoff at namby pamby 2016 hurlers!" said Jackson as he took his warm-ups. One pitch--BOOM!--one run, on a mammoth shot by Tommie Agee, cutting it to 3-2. Jackson then fanned Jerry Grote and retired Ed Kranepool before surrendering a double to that man, Ron Swoboda. Out trudged whoever the f--- the Phillies manager was, making the signal to the bullpen for John Boozer, who had to be dragged off his bar stool and handed a glove and cap. Ed Charles, due up next, was called back to the Black Lagoon by Gill Man, and lefty-swinging Wayne Garrett hit for him. Two out, one run down. Boozer dealt, and Garrett hit a seeing-eye single, scoring Swoboda with the tying run! Holy heck! J.C Martin hit for the pitcher and also singled, but Boozer managed to retire Ken Boswell to end the frame. 3-3 after 10!

"Usher Man is strong"
Kid fireballer Nolan Ryan found himself summoned from the pen, and he disposed of the Phillies in the 11th, fanning two. Billy Wilson came on to stop the Mets in the bottom of the 11th, also fanning a pair. In the top of the 12th, Ryan fanned larry Hisle, but then gave up back to back singles by Johnson and Money. Fans were nervous, but Noley disposed of Cookie Rojas and Mike Ryan to end the threat! Bottom of the 12th: Billy Wilson walked Ed Kranepool to start things off. Ron Swoboda hit a worm-burner to Don Money at short, and it looked bad for a second for the Mets, but Money reminded his skipper--whoever he is--about why he had gotten benched, by booting the ball, leaving runners on the corners with nobody out. Gil Hodges scanned up and down his bench for a pinch runner for Kranepool, but found he had run through his roster and had to take his chances with Ed The Beer Truck. So be it. Up stepped Wayne Garrett, the hero of the 10th inning. He flailed at a Wilson delivery and sent the ball wobbling on an arc towards Mr. Money, who leapt, reached, and watched helplessly as the ball fell behind him on the grass for a walk-off hit. Mets sweep, Phillies weep. What a pair of games!

The Orsino Board allowed him his whimper of protest.
There was other action: The Cubs beat the Pirates again at Wrigley to move back ahead of them into second; Larry Dierker outdueled Juan Marichal at the Dome, 2-0, allowing only a single to lead off the second by Bob Burda; and the Expos rode a pair of solo homers to top Steve "Carlton your door man" Carlton and the Cardinals, but none of it could compare to the insanity at Shea.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Here He Comes To Save The Day! : Monday, June 23rd, 1969


CHI 9, PIT 3  W-Hands 10-2 L-Walker 2-3  HR-Hickman(13)

STL 4, MON 2 (14inns)  W-Giusti 3-2 L-Shaw 2-3  S-Gibson(1)  HR-Bateman(2)ph 

LA 3, ATL 2  W-Drysdale 1-6 L-Doyle 4-2  S-Mikkelsen(9)

CIN 4, SD 0  W-Merritt 5-9 L-Roberts 3-6

SF 5, HOU 4  W-Perry 11-3 L-Gladding 1-4  S-Linzy(7)  HR-Bonds(8) Morgan(4)

Doctors rush to re-attach Mike Torrez's head.
In Montreal at Parc Jarry, John Bateman hit a dramatic pinch hit homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 2. The game went on into the 14th inning, when the Cardinals plated a pair off of kid lefty Don Shaw. In the bottom of the 14th, seldom-seen Mike Torrez took over the pitching chores for St. Louis, with nobody else left in the pen. He got the first out, and was then decapitated by a line drive off the bat of the suddenly dangerous Gary Sutherland. What to do? With Torrez out for 31 games, a decision had to be made who to bring in. Nelson Briles and Chuck Taylor had both started in a doubleheader the day before. That left tomorrow's scheduled starter Lefty Carlton, or else staff ace Bob Gibson, who had pitched on Saturday. The ever agreeable Gibson was sent in, and he needed only one pitch to induce a double play grounder off the bat of Don Bosch to end the game and collect the surprising save. The Cards have now completed half their games against the Expos, winning 8 of 9. 

Jim Merritt of the Reds has found his first season in the NL to be a little rough, but he stopped the Pods on 4 hits for his second shutout of the season, and his 5th win. After the hobbled Pete Rose jammed an alarm clock in his ear, Tony Perez woke up and knocked in three runs. The Rhinelanders are back to within a game of first.

Something finally went right for Mr. Drysdale!
Don Drysdale finally picked up his first victory, stopping the division-leading Braves 3-2 with relief help from Pete Mikkelsen. "Wait til they hear about this at the bank!" he crowed. Jane will be so pleased.  

Things went off-script for Don Wilson.
Fireballer Don Wilson, madly sending himself Western Union Candy-grams, fought league ace Gaylord Perry until he emerged with a 4-3 lead after 8, courtesy of a Denis Menke hit. Wilson started the 9th by walking pinch hitter Bob Burda, and was pulled in favor of Fred Gladding, who immediately laid a gopher ball on a platter for a delighted Bobby Bonds, who sent it into orbit. The 5-4 loss left skipper Harry Walker wondering what the %$# is wrong with his closer. Fred was a monster out of the bullpen for my 1967 Tigers, but things have not been the same at all inside the Astrodome in '69. "I long for the great outdoors," quoth Fred, with a heavy sigh.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun (And Saves Galore): Sunday, June 22nd, 1969


MON 5, CHI 2  W-Stoneman 3-7 L-Selma 2-8  S-Face(7)  

MON 10, CHI 5  W-Wegener 5-4 L-Nye 2-6  S-Face(8)  HR-Staub 2(15) Fairly(7) Wine(2) Smith(6)  Staub 4 rbi.

NY 5, STL 2  W-Cardwell 3-5 L-Briles 5-6  S-McGraw(10)  

NY 2, STL 1  W-Seaver 6-5 L-Hoerner 5-5  S-McGraw(11)  HR-Agee(10)

PIT 5, PHI 0  W-Veale 9-5 L-J.Johnson 2-11  Veale 2-hitter.

PIT 3, PHI 2 (10inns)  W-Gibbon 2-2 L-Wilson 1-6  HR-Money(2)

SF 3, ATL 2  W-McCormick 7-3 L-P.Niekro 7-5  HR-Burda(2) 

ATL 9, SF 5  W-Stone 4-5 L-Bolin 5-8  HR-Carty(12) Boyer(5)

CIN 10, LA 7  W-Ramos 2-1 L-Singer 9-6  S-Granger(6)  HR-Sudakis(4) A.Johnson(9) May 2(15)  May 5 rbi.

CIN 5, LA 2  W-Nolan 3-3 L-Moeller 6-5  S-Granger(7)  HR-Savage(3)ph

SD 7, HOU 6  W-Sisk 4-6 L-Billingham 1-8  S-Reberger(9)  HR-Ferrara(4) Wynn(10)  Five Astro pitchers fan 14 Padres.

But can they hit for power?
The wheels have really come off for the Cubs, but then, that's a June tradition! They were swept by the baby Expos, who trotted a pair of Dw pitchers out to the mound against them at Wrigley. The power outage continued as the Cubs managed just one HR--by Willie Smith--in the entire four game set, while losing 3 of 4. Ron Fairly made his Expo debut and went 5-for-7 with a blast and a two-bagger for the visitors from la Belle Provence.  By the way, I bet the Cubs are really glad they traded Joe Niekro (5-3) to the Pods for the glorious (2-8) Mister Selma. Not.

He cheered when Tom got plunked.
The Mets swept the division-leading Cardinals, with lots of drama in game two. Tom Seaver, miraculously healed from a minor injury between games (funny how often that happens), nursed a 1-0 lead into the eighth when Lou Brock delivered a two-out rbi double to tie the game. Your Impartial Goddess, wearing her "I Love Tom" tee shirt and Mets cap, may have said something unladylike. Seaver, scheduled to lead off in the last of the 8th, was allowed to bat for himself, and got on by being smoked by a Joe Hoerner pitch. Back to the injured list went Tom, as your Impartial Goddess sent a rain of toads down upon Hoerner's loathsome little head. The good news is that Seaver's run was eventually scored by pinch runner Tug McGraw who stuck around to garner his second save of the afternoon.

When having surgery is all they can think of to say about you, you must be Vic Roznovsky.
In Philadelphia, seven mental patients, a transient, and two lost tourists showed up for the doubleheader between the Phils and Buccos. Two singles, one of them by the now nearly mythical Dave Watkins, were all the Quakers could manage against lefty fireballer Bob Veale. The Pirates plated 5 in the top of the first, before the ten fans had even found their seats, and then coasted--and I mean coasted--to victory, managing just two more hits the rest of the way. It was the 12th time the Phillies have been blanked, and they might have gone oh-for-the-doubleheader if not for a walk followed by a two-run bomb by Don Money in the nightcap. Money made the case for getting his starting job back by collecting 4 hits. The Bucs tied it up at 2, but seemed to still be in coasting mode until the tenth, when Freddie Patek walked, stole second, took third on a panicked wild throw by comical third string catcher Vic Roznovsky, and scored on a sac fly. The sweep put the Pirates back in second place, a full game and a half ahead of the slumping Cubs. As for the Phillies, they have the worst record in the league, even with two new expansion teams around. Yikes.

His suckage is unsurpassed.
Mike McCormick single-handedly kept the Giants in the race by holding the Braves to a 2-0 lead on unearned runs while Phil Niekro was no-hitting the Giants through six. The San Franciscans finally got to Phil for three runs while McCormick did the rest and they eked out a 3-2 win in the opener before dropping the nightcap. That's because the putrid Bob "Bowling For Dollars" Bolin tossed his usual gutter ball and the Braves feasted on his fat deliveries. I keep threatening to take him out of the rotation, but now I definitely am. Go down to the bullpen and think about what you've done, Bob. And take off that stupid bowling shirt.

Pinch hit hero Ted.
The Dodgers staked nominal ace Bill Singer to a lead, but the Reds came storming back, demonstrating that they can light up any pitcher in the league. Lee May went deep twice and the Rhinelanders completed the sweep of the double dip AND the whole 4-game series with a victory in the second game. Ted Savage came off the bench to hit for Gary Nolan and deposited the ball deep in the bleachers for a two run jack and a 4-2 reds lead. The win came at a heavy cost for the Reds, however, as Pete Rose and Alex Johnson were involved in a scary collision while going after a fly ball. Rose will miss 5 games and Johnson 13. "Charlie Hustle" held on to the ball for the putout, though.  "I'll be back as soon as possible," promised Pete, while Johnson just sat in his hospital bed, glowering at the staff and idly waving a handgun. 

"Hi. I'm stupid."
Finally, 5 Astro hurlers fanned 14 mystified Padres, but the 'Stros still lost to the Friars 7-6 for the second consecutive day. With two out and Ollie "Astro-hater" Brown aboard in the top of the first, Jack Billingham reached back and tried to blow one by Nate Colbert. With a 90% chance of a strikeout, Nate managed to somehow spoil it off and stay alive. He then doubled, followed by a two-run smash by Al Ferrara and the Pods were on their way. After watching his club drop 3 of 5 at home to the absurd Padres, skipper Harry "The Hat" Walker was in no mood to discuss why he and the Houston brain trust were so keen to trade away that stiff Rusty Staub for the immortal Jesus Alou last spring. "It seemed like the thing to do at the time," he growled, and then started banging his (hatless) head against his office wall.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

From Dumpster To Dynamo, The Dave Watkins Story! : Saturday, June 21st, 1969


MON 7, CHI 4  W-McGinn 4-1 L-Regan 4-3  S-Face(6)

STL 1, NY 0  W-Gibson 9-1 L-Koosman 7-4  Koosman 2-hitter.

PHI 15, PIT 1  W-Wise 4-5 L-Ellis 4-8  HR-Joseph(2) Allen 2(9) Watkins 3(3)  Allen 4 runs scored, Watkins 6 rbi.

ATL 8, SF 5  W-Doyle 4-1 L-Herbel 1-1  S-Upshaw(13)  HR-Boyer(4)

CIN 3, LA 2 (12inns)  W-Granger 6-2 L-Foster 3-1  May 1-out walk-off double.

SD 7, HOU 6  W-Baldschun 3-1 L-Gladding 1-3  S-Reberger(8)  HR-Brown(7) Spiezio(4) Miller(4)  Brown 5 rbi.

The last shall be first.
Some players have long productive careers. Some aren't so productive, yet have some skill that keeps them in the game for several years. Then there are players like the Phillies' Dave Watkins, who get just one season in the bigs, never to reappear again. With the Quakers mired in last place and regular right fielder Johnny Callison sidelined,  I decided to throw Mr. Watkins out there against the visiting Pirates. Why not? Dave plays catcher, first base and the outfield with equal ineptitude; what could it hurt? Well, early on he made an error and then a little bit later let a fly ball fall in for a single. No matter! After executing a perfect sacrifice bunt his first trip, and making an out his second, Dave blasted homers in each of his next three at bats! (The second day in a row that the league has seen a 3 HR performance, with Henry Aaron accomplishing the feat yesterday.)  He finished up with 6 ribbies, and, aided by two blasts off the bat of Rich Allen, the Phils romped 15-1. They hit six dingers overall. 

The always-jolly Mr. Gibson. Ken Burns wants to marry him.
In New York, as your Impartial Goddess sat morosely in the stands, Bob Gibson out-dueled Jerry Koosman 1-0, as the Redbirds blanked the Metropolitans for the second day in a row. The Mets actually out-hit the Cards 4-2, and had a couple of chances to score, but couldn't come through. At one point they had runners on second and third with nobody out, but Wayne Garrett grounded out to Maxvill with the infield in, and then J.C. Martin popped out in foul territory with Julian Javier making the grab, then gunning down the runner at home as he attempted to score. Fly double play, inning over. It was Gibson's second straight shutout.  The Cards have stretched their lead to 7 games in the east, as they are "pursued" by the snail Cubs and the tortoise Pirates.  

Don't judge yourself too harshly, Wes.
The Dodgers came in to Crosley Field and seemed to be about to accomplish that rarest of feats, a blanking of the mighty Reds offense. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, nobody on, and the Dodgers leading 2-0 when Ted Savage kept it alive with a walk. Pete Rose sent a grounder to shortstop which was scooped up and sent to first base by Maury Wills, but somehow sure-handed Wes "Judge" Parker let it clank off his glove. By the time the sphere had been retrieved, Savage stood at third base and Rose at second. Up stepped popular and affable flyhawk Alex Johnson, who crushed a double to tie the game. Bobby Tolan was then retired to send the contest into extra frames. Eventually, Lee May swatted an rbi double that scored pinch hitter Chico Ruiz, who had singled, with the winning tally. Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat! It was, however, a bitter pill for the SoCal nine. 

Eat hearty, Fred.
At the Astrodome, Ollie Brown decided he doesn't like spacemen. He drove in one run with a ground out, another with a sac fly, and three in the top of the ninth with a 3-run tater, for a total of 5 rbi and a 7-6 win over the Astros, whose fans seem to be mispronouncing the team nickname these days. There's no "L" in "Astros." The "L" was reserved for crap closer Fred Gladding, who served up the round-tripper. What kind of a pitch was it, Fred? "It was a f--ing hit-me fastball with nothing on it. What do you THINK the f---ing pitch was?!?" remarked "The Bear." Now now, Fred. Have some porridge. 

Hey Willie, think fast!
Finally, the Braves once again dispatched the visiting Giants. With the San Franciscans having rallied to knot it up at 5, Clete Boyer smacked a two-run shot to put the Braves up for good. They're hot, and have put a sliver of daylight between themselves and the three teams behind them, at least for now.  Meanwhile, the newly healed Willie Mays, having been back for just two games, once again broke every bone in his body smashing into the wall to make a catch. Ever the lady, your Impartial Goddess can't tell you what the "Say Hey" kid said, but it wasn't "hey" or "my goodness, another compound fracture, gosh!" What I can tell you is that Willie will sit out 6 more games. "Tough break, Mays!" crowed back-up outfielder Ken Henderson, grabbing his glove. It's a tough league.

Monday, November 14, 2016

No More Calls, We Have A Winner! : Friday, June 20th, 1969

CHI 6, MON 0  W-Holtzman 6-4 L-Robertson 5-6

STL 3, NY 0  W-Carlton 10-3 L-McAndrew 3-10

PHI 7, PIT 4  W-Jackson 7-6 L-Bunning 5-6  S-Wilson(7)  HR-Clemente(8) Callison(12) Hisle(5)

ATL 6, SF 1  W-Reed 6-4 L-Marichal 6-6  HR-H.Aaron 3(21)  H.Aaron 4 rbi.

CIN 4, LA 1  W-Culver 5-1 L- Osteen 6-3  S-Granger(5)  HR-Rose(17)

SD 3, HOU 1  W-J.Niekro 6-3 L-Dierker 5-7 

HOU 8, SD 1  W-Griffin 3-8 L-Podres 1-2  HR-Wynn(9) Torres(1)

"Strive for my award, mortals!"
Having seen his most talented pitcher lose to the lowly Padres in the opener of a doubleheader at the Dome, 'Stros skipper Harry "The Hat" Walker may have lost contact with reality a little bit. Who could blame him? As he came down to the 8th spot on his line-up card for the nightcap, his hand holding the pencil trembled and a giddy laugh was heard. Grinning like a demented gargoyle, Harry wrote "Torres, ss". He then had to be wheeled away strapped down to a gurney. Mr. Torres had gone 0-for-7 for the season and had not started a single game all year. He made an out his first trip against mummified geezer Johnny Podres, so when he stepped up the next time, no one expected what would happen...

No, Hector! Don't bunt....swing for the fence!
Podres, a former second-tier star for the Brooklyn Dodgers, now finds himself superannuated and playing out the string with the expansion Pods. Called upon by skipper Gomez to make the spot start, Johnny was led out to the mound using his walker with the little tennis balls on it. The night nurse placed the old cowhide in his hand and pointed him at home plate. "You get extra Jello if you get a few outs," he was told, and then left to toss the old sphere. When "Hammerin" Hector Torres stepped in the second time, with two men on base, nobody expected that he would uncoil and explode, driving the ball far into the Houston night, to disappear into the stands! A three-run jack for Torres! 

Cos he's a winner, and everybody knows it, too!
The mighty blow ended what is always the most exciting part of any season replay. No, not the pennat race. Not the All-Star game. The deciding of the Paul Schaal Award winner, given annually to the last position player, on a roster from opening day, to get a hit. With Torres's Ruthian blast, the award goes to....Billy Grabarkewitz of the Dodgers, at 0-for-8! Contacted in his hospital bed, where he has spent the entire month of June, Grabby burbled on about how pleased he was to have won the prestigious Schaal award for ineptitude. 

Better throw him in the pool, cos he's burning up!
In the comparative dreariness of other action, Hank Aaron continued to smash the ball, hitting three home runs against the Giants in a battle for first place in the west. The three dingers gave Hank 11 in June, 21 for the season, and 5 in his last two games. Amazing. All three came on 66's. 

There were other games but in the excitement, no one cares. Finally, the fossilized Mr. Podres was seen still wandering around the Astrodome late that night, asking what had happened, and complaining that one of the young Pods infielders had stolen his stool softener and traded it for a Ferrari on the black market. Go to bed, Johnny.
Yay!!!! What happened?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Day Without Homers Is Like A Day Without Sunshine: Thursday, June 19th, 1969


NY 7, PHI 0  W-Gentry 7-4 L-Champion 2-4

STL 5, MON 0  W-Washburn 4-8 L-Reed 2-3

HOU 6, SD 3  W-Wilson 4-8 L-Santorini 3-12  S-Gladding(3)

SF 3, CIN 1  W-Perry 10-3 L-Merritt 4-9

Everybody loves good pitching.
Fans of the long ball were sorely disappointed on Thursday as the 4 games on the schedule resulted in a dreary zero home runs. But that doesn't mean there was no action!

Gary Gentry of the Mets blanked the floundering Phillies. It was the Quakers' league high 11th blanking, but their first in almost a month--since May 24th.

Send him back to the kitchen!
Ray Washburn snapped his personal 7-game losing streak by shutting out the Expos, who have lost 5 of 6 since trading Wills, Mota and Clendenon. They just don't look like the same team at all, and in Quebec the call has gone out for G.M. Jim Fanning's head on a platter, served with an attractive cream sauce and a side of colorful vegetables. It's a French thing.  

Al Santorini lost his 12th game already, but Pods skipper Gomez says he has no plans to remove Al from the rotation. "I don't have ANY plans!" he admitted. You'll hear no complaints from the Astros; they're just glad to see the only west division rival they can beat come to town. 

His nickname is "Dog."
Finally, the Reds out-hit the Giants 10-4, but all the hits were singles, and it wasn't enough. Jim "Couch me!" Davenport stroked a two-run safety for the Giants, who took three of four from the visitors from Cincy. Tony Perez struck out once and grounded into double plays twice with men on base, then singled with the bases empty in the ninth. It almost mattered when Bob "Hi Bob" Burda muffed a throw, allowing Perez to take third and batter Chico Ruiz to take second, but pinch hitter Wingy Whitfield fanned to end it all. Gaylord Perry became the league's first ten game winner.
His nickname is "Tony."


Friday, November 11, 2016

Bucs Sweep Cubs, Take Over Second: Wednesday, June 18th, 1969


PHI 6, NY 2  W-Fryman 5-5 L-R.Taylor 3-3  S-Farrell(2)  HR-C.Jones(5) Callison(11)

PIT 2, CHI 1 (11inns)  W-Dal Canton 3-3 L-Regan 4-2  Clemente GW single.

STL 5, MON 3  W-C.Taylor 5-3 L-Wegener 4-4  S-Hoerner(7)  HR-Laboy(10) Shannon(4) Maxvill(4)

ATL 9, HOU 4  W-Pappas 7-3 L-Billingham 1-7  HR-H.Aaron 2(18) Pappas(1)

SD 1, LA 0  W-Roberts 3-5 L-Drysdale 0-6

SF 7, CIN 6  W-Bolin 5-7 L-Nolan 2-3  HR-Rose(16) Perez(12)  Rose 4 rbi.

"Try THIS porridge!" said Clemente to the baby bears.
Good times finally arrived at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, as the Pirates completed a 4 game sweep of the Cubs and hurtled past them into second place in the east. The Pirates could do very little with Bill Hands for ten innings, scoring only a single run on an rbi by Gene Alley in the 5th, driving in Carl Taylor. The Cubs, however, continued their mystifying ineptitude at the plate, merely matching that single run against Luke "Sky" Walker and a succession of relievers. Finally, Hands was removed for a pinch hitter and Phil Regan took over in the bottom of the 11th. He wasted no time giving up consecutive singles to Matty Alou, Manny Sanguillen, and Roberto Clemente to send the Corsairs into their dugout happy. 

In St. Louis, the Redbirds hit their first homers in 12 days, with Dal "Muscles" Maxvill launching a decisive 3-run shot and Mike Shannon adding a solo shot as Henry Gross cheered wildly in the stands. 

He lost his head.
Henry Aaron continued his torrid June with 2 more taters, giving him 8 in the month and 18 overall to lead the league by 2 as the Braves swept 4 from the hapless Spacemen at Atlanta.  The Braves' record is now just a half game less than that of the Cardinals for tops in the NL. Things were not so rosy for shortstop Gil Garrido, who got his head stuck in an elevator door and will miss some action, giving way to Bob Aspromonte until Sonny Jackson's return not long from now. Going up! Aw jeepers, Gil, sorry about that! 

The homer-happy Mr. Rose. Note the centennial patch on his sleeve, worn around MLB in '69.
Pete Rose matched his actual--and career high--total of 16 dingers when he sent a Ron Herbel delivery into the seats at the 'Stick, plating 3 and bringing the Reds to within a run at 7-6. The score would stay that way, however, and the Giants took their second in three tries with an afternoon match slated for Thursday. The Reds have played just 64 games, so Mister Rose is well ahead of pace. Bobby Tolan came down with 24-hour plague and will miss the finale.

He just can't let it go.
Finally, what does Mr. Drysdale have to do to notch a victory? He left the bank early, and with Jane and the Clampetts cheering wildly from the Dodger Stadium stands, he pitched like it was 1968 again.  The only blemish was a two-out single by Nate Colbert, and an rbi double by former Dodger Al Ferrara. However, the Dodgers plated big fat zero themselves. Ferrara, bent on revenge, even threw out Drysdale at the plate on an Andy Kosco hit. Ferrara had a pretty nice season for L.A. in '67, then broke his ankle in '68 and was let go in the expansion draft. Anyway, Drysdale lost this one 1-0, keeping him winless. A glum "Big D" said it has happened before, in his Los Angeles career.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Swept Away: Tuesday, June 17th, 1969


NY 2, PHI 1  W-Taylor 3-2 L-Wise 3-5  S-McGraw(9)

NY 7, PHI 1  W-Cardwell 2-5 L-J.Johnson 2-10  HR-Agee(9)

PIT 8, CHI 3  W-Blass 9-2 L-Selma 2-7  S-Dal Canton(4)  HR-Hickman(12) Cash(1)

PIT 3, CHI 0  W-Veale 8-5 L-Colborn 0-1  HR-A.Oliver(11)

MON 7, STL 3  W-Shaw 2-2 L-Briles 5-5  HR-Bailey(3)

ATL 2, HOU 1  W-P.Niekro 7-4 L-LeMaster 7-7  HR-Cepeda(9)  P.Niekro 2-hitter.

LA 3, SD 2  W-Singer 9-5 L-Kirby 2-7  S-Brewer(7)

LA 6, SD 4  W-Moeller 6-4 L-Sisk 3-6  S-Brewer(8)

SF 7, CIN 2  W-McCormick 6-3 L-Fisher 8-4  S-Linzy(6)  HR-Stewart(2)

Cardwell Banker is invested in the present, not the past!
There were three doubleheaders Tuesday, and all of them ended in sweeps! At Connie Mack Stadium in Philly, the Quakers practiced non-violence by scoring just one run in each game and bowing to the New York nine twice. The weird good health of pitchers across the league came to an end on this day when a line drive took out Tom Seaver for 6 games in the opener, but the Mets 'pen stepped up and grabbed the win. In the nightcap, Don "Cardwell Banker" Cardwell defeated his original team handily. 

Warming up in the bullpen, Jim Colborn.
Are the Buccos finally making a move?  They swept the slumping baby bears behind their 1-2 punch of Blass and Veale. Kid second sacker Dave Cash even launched his first HR, despite not having actually hit one at all (what is this other reality, anyway?) but he has a "4" at 66 and put it to good use. In the nightcap, the Cubbies found themselves without a starter available, and so your Inventive Goddess created Jim Colborn out of whole cloth. Behold, a Cw starter from out of the void. (I am using the 1990 re-issue, with 25 players per team.) My creation didn't pitch badly, surrendering two earnies in six innings of work, but the silent Cubs bats spelled doom for Mr. Colborn. "I'm not above putting the undead out there if they can pitch," opined Cubs skipper Leo Durocher.  Meanwhile, fledgling flyhawk Jimmy Qualls came down with a childhood illness and will miss about a month. "I'm not sending him back to school until he's ready," warned Mrs. Qualls. 

A Torborg sighting. What's next, Bigfoot?
In sunny SoCal, the Dodgers swept a surprisingly spunky Padres nine, who resent being called spunky. Clay Kirby once again fell victim to lack of support, though the Friars did plate two and had runners on base in the ninth before Jim Brewer came on to dispose of pinch hitter Ivan Murrel for the win. Brewer saved the nightcap, too, none the worse for wear after his grueling third of an inning against Mr. Murrell. Ted Sizemore waxed Shakespearean about his three ribbies, saying grandly, "Thrice did Mister Sudakis reach base, and thrice did I drive him home!" Yeah yeah, Ted, don't quit your day job. Backstop Jeff Torborg, barely seen all season (17 ab), caught both ends of the double dip due to Tom Haller's injury. 

"Hell" Enkeller
At Candlestick Park, Mike McCormick was working on a 2-hit shutout with 2 out in the top of the 6th, when he objected to plate umpire "Hell" Enkeller's strike zone. When Mike commented too much on Enkeller's ancestry, he found himself thumbed from the game! The absurd Mr. Kline came on and miraculously retired Johnny Bench to end the inning. The lead-off man in the bottom of the 6th was McCormick's loyal backstop, Dick Dietz, who further commented on Enkeller's relation to a certain sightless variety of rodent. He, too, was thumbed! (Too good, right? It just came up that way; McCormick on the Orsino board, Dietz on the regular boards.) No matter. The Giants handily defeated Fat Jack Fisher and the Reds.

Try Busch Stadium, George!
Finally, Larry Jaster of the Expos was perforated by a line drive (it must be pitcher hunting season all of a sudden!) and will miss 4 or 5 starts, but Les Expos rose up and slew the Cardinals anyway, helped by more stellar relief work by former Redbird Gary Waslewski. He has a cool 0.61 e.r.a. since coming over in exchange for Jim Grant earlier in the month. Bob "Ma" Bailey took time off from running the boarding house in Pottersville in order to smack a dinger in furtherance of the Canadian cause.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Oh, Henry! : Monday, June 16th, 1969


PIT 3, CHI 1  W-Ellis 4-7 L-Jenkins 8-4  HR-Hickman(11)

STL 6, MON 0  W-Gibson 8-1 L-Stoneman 2-7  Gibson 2-hitter. 

ATL 3, HOU 2  W-Jarvis 8-4 L-Dierker 5-6  S-Upshaw(12)  HR-Blefary(7) H.Aaron(15)

ATL 4, HOU 2  W-Stone 3-5 L-Griffin 2-8  HR-Tillman(4) H.Aaron(16)phGW  Stone 2-hitter.

SD 7, LA 2  W-J.Niekro 5-3 L-Sutton 8-4  HR-Kelly(1)

CIN 9, SF 6  W-Maloney 8-4 L-Bryant 2-3  HR-Bonds(7)

Hank Aaron single-handedly undid the hapless Spacemen at Atlanta on Monday. In the opener of a double dip, he had his first bid for a homer denied and reduced to a single against tough right-hander Larry Dierker. Undaunted, Hammerin' Hank launched one that did go out of the park later on, to power the Braves to a 3-2 win. Then in the nightcap, Hank hit for the pitcher in the bottom of the ninth with a man on and nobody out, and promptly deposited a Tom Griffin pitch into the seats, sending Chief Noc-A-Homa into fits of ecstasy as Braves fans went wild at the sweep. Hank now has 16 homers, giving him a share of the league lead. The Astros, for their part, caught a sudden case of noodle bats. They got three hits in the first two frames of the opener, and never got another; then in the second game, they put back-to-back hits together in the third, and that was all, for a total of 5 hits for the entire doubleheader.

Even hitting a homer can't cheer him up.
Van Kelly, recently acquired from Atlanta, popped his first homer for the Pods, as they put a beating on the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. It was only the 7th blast by a lefty swinger for the Padres all season. Kelly has been holding down the hot corner while Ed Spiezio has been out. Your Infallible Goddess admits that he is one of the few players in the league that she had no knowledge or memory of.  "You're made-up!" she screeched from the stands, ever the lady, then twirled her parasol and smiled serenely for the rest of the game.

In a battle for first place in the crazy west, the Reds outslugged the Giants 9-6, but still find themselves a half game behind the Braves! The west is insane, and a lot of fun. As of this date, three teams are within a half game of first, and 4 within one game. Pete Rose came to bat the last time needing only a homer for the cycle, and rolled a zero, but had to settle for his second double of the game, to go with a single and a triple. He also scored 3 and drove in 3. I guess his brief slump is over! 

"Watch me ruin this guy's shutout!"
Jim Hickman of the Cubs is on a home run hitting binge, but he got petty about it when he launched one in the ninth at Forbes Field to rob Dock Ellis of a shutout. Dock didn't know the difference, though, he was too high to even know what planet he was on.  The Buccos finally went above .500 and also moved to within 2 and a half of the second place Cubs. 

And, lastly, the trade-ruined Expos meekly lost to the mighty Bob Gibson, 6-0 at St. Louis. They mustered only a lead-off single by Ron Brand, and a double later on by Mack Jones, as Gibson won his 7th decision in his last 8 starts, with one no-decision thrown in for fun. The Cards are glad to be back playing against their own division, against whom they have fared much better than against the west. "We like to annoy Reader Steve," said an anonymous Redbird.