Thursday, February 9, 2017

Phil Niekro's Night Of Near Immortality: Thursday, July 24th, 1969


CHI 4, LA 3 (14inns)  W-Abernathy 3-7 L-Foster 4-2  Banks 1-out walk-off single.

CIN 3, NY 2  W-Merritt 7-11 L-Seaver 9-8  S-Granger(12)  HR-Perez(16) Clendenon(18) Grote(5)

PIT 4, SD 3 (10inns)  W-Gibbon 3-3 L-Reberger 4-8  Stargell walk-off single.

SF 2, STL 1  W-Marichal 10-9 L-Gibson 13-3  HR-Pinson(6) 

ATL 1, MON 0 (12inns)  W-P.Niekro 11-8 L-Face 2-4  HR-Francona(4)ph walk-off.  P. Niekro 1-hitter.

HOU 4, PHI 0  W-Dierker 10-9 L-Wise 7-8  HR-Wynn(15)

He is resurgent.
In Chicago, the Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the 9th, only to see Fergie Jenkins get roughed up and the Dodgers tie the game. Never fear, Mister Cub is here, finally hitting in July the way he hadn't done all season before that. This time he stroked a walk-off single. The Cubs had 19 hits, 18 of them singles, as they pecked the Tinseltown nine to death. 

A Cards fan is riveted by the controversy over Red's decision to start Gibby!
The win enabled the baby bears to once again tie the Cardinals for the top spot in the east, because the Cards lost at home to the Giants. Vada Pinson knocked his 6th homer to stake Bob Gibson to a 1-0 lead which he held until the 8th, when he began to tire. Skipper Red Schoendienst was questioned for starting Gibson, who got the nod in Tuesday's all-star game and tossed two frames, but the ever-affable Gibby said he was good to go and the Redhead sent him out there. He got Marichal leading off the 8th, but then walked Bobby Bonds. Ron Hunt executed a perfect hit and run, putting runners at the corners. Mays singled in the tying run and McCovey singled in the lead run; that's how it ended, 2-1 with Marichal getting the "W."

Loofa-faced? You decide.
Despite being called a "Fascist Loofa-Faced Shit-Gibbon" by Pods skipper Gomez, Pirates lefty Joe Gibbon garnered the win when Willie Stargell singled home the winner in extras against the downtrodden Friars. 

Donn Clendenon hit just his second homer as a Met, and Jerry Grote made it back-to-back blasts when he went yard, too. Grote has just 5 dingers all year, but 3 of them have come against Cincinnati, all 3 at Shea. Still, the Mets did what the Mets do when Tom Seaver is on the mound--they fell just short. 

He just kept mowing 'em down.
The game of the day was, without doubt, the Expos-Braves contest at Atlanta. Phil Niekro knuckled the baby Canadians' noggins in a noogie they'll never forget. He held them hitless inning after inning, but his teammates couldn't push across a run themselves against the suddenly fearsome Larry Jaster. The teepee dwellers put runners on second and third with one out in both the 4th and 6th innings, but Rico Carty and Bob Aspromonte couldn't get them in either time. Knucksie pitched 9 no-hit frames, then 10, then 11! Still, the score stayed 0-0. Leading off the top of the 12th, the storied utility man Jose Herrera, a 5 foot 8 inch Astros cast-off, lined a single to ruin Phil's shot at glory. Damn! Niekro shrugged it off and retired the next three batters, though. In the bottom of the 12th, Bob "Hi, Bob!" Tillman made the first out, and then Tito Francona stepped up to hit for Niekro as the delirious Atlanta fans demanded a curtain call. Phil obliged them by waving his cap from the top step of the dugout. Then Roy Face delivered, and Francona sent it far into the right field stands for a walk-off pinch-hit homer to give Niekro the win and the shutout, but no no-hitter. "The win is all that matters," opined a smiling Knucksie, even as he held Carty's dumb-ass head underwater in the whirlpool.
Clutch fail. Twice. Way to go, "Beeg Mon."


1 comment:

stevemryan said...

Reds win, Braves win, Cards lose and the Universe feels a certain balance that a more literate person could express in better terms.