Billy-Ball Daily: 2007-8-9

8/9/2007
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Top of the 1st
WHERE THE BALLS ARE (Sing it, Connie)
Oct. 13, 1960, Pittsburgh Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 against the New York Yankees by hitting the first Series winning walk-off homer. According to reports, Ted Szafranski, 13, caught the ball but returned it to Mazeroski after the game in exchange for two cases of beer. The ball has since been placed in the Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 1, 1961, the last day of the Yankees’ regular season, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s 60 single-season home-run record by hitting his 61st against the Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard in the 4th inning. Sal Durante, a Brooklyn truck driver caught the ball and tried to return it to Maris after the game, but the star declined and said Durante should keep it. Restaurateur Sam Gordon from Sacramento, Calif., later paid Durante $5,000 for the ball, displayed it for some time and then returned it to Maris. It’s now in the Hall of Fame. The Yanks won that game, 1-0.

On Apr. 8, 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves topped Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, with a home run off of Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. The ball landed in the Braves’ bullpen where relief pitcher Tom House caught it and returned it to Aaron. The ball can now be seen in an exhibit at the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, located on the northwest side of Turner field in Atlanta.

On Oct. 21, 1975, the Red Sox’s Carlton Fisk in Game 6 against the Cincinnati Reds kept the Sox’s dream of a World Series Championship alive and in the process changed how television broadcast baseball. Reds left-fielder George Foster came forward in 1999 saying he had retrieved Fisk’s home run ball at the 1975 game. He then sold it at a sports memorabilia auction for more than $113,000.

On July 20, 1976, Richard Arndt, a part-time member of the Brewers grounds crew, caught Henry Aaron’s final home run ball with every intention of giving it back. But when he wasn’t able to return it to Aaron in person, he decided to hold on to it, and the team fired him. Arndt kept the ball in a safety deposit box until 1999 when Andrew J. Knuth, a money manager from Westport, Conn., bought it for a reported $650,000.

On Oct. 15, 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson produced one of baseball’s most dramatic moments with a climactic homer in 9th inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Oakland A’s during. With his team down by one run with two outs, the injured Gibson homered off of Dennis Eckersley and gimped around the bases providing the win. The status of the ball remains unknown.

On Sept. 8, 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGw*re broke Roger Maris’ 61 single-season home-run record with a line drive that went over the left field wall. Cardinals groundskeeper Tim Forneris picked up the ball, and, although collectors would have paid millions, he gave the ball back to McGw*re in the clubhouse. After the game, McGw*re donated the ball, his bat, his uniform and the jersey his son had been wearing to the Hall of Fame. In exchange, they presented him with a red ’62 Corvette.

On Oct. 7, 2001, Barry B*nds set the record for most single-season home runs when he hit his 73rd. Two fans claimed ownership of the ball — Alex Popov, who gloved the ball for an instant, and Patrick Hayashi, who ended up with the ball. The ownership battled went to court and lasted 14 months until a judge ruled they would sell the ball and split the profit. It sold for $517,500 to comic book artist Todd McFarlane, who collects baseball memorabilia. He also has Sammy S*sa’s 33rd, 61st and 66th home-run balls, and Mark McGw*re’s first, 63rd, 67th, 68th, 69th and 70th.

On Aug. 4, 2007, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player in major league history to hit 500 home runs. The ball landed into the hands of Walter (Sonny) Kowalczyk, a lifelong Yankee fan who emptied his bank account to buy season tickets. Kowalczyk, a graduate student from Trenton, N.J., hasn’t decided what he’s going to do yet with the ball — which could be worth more than $100,000.

On Aug. 7, 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 756th homer and after a scrum it was held by 22-year-old New Yorker Matt Murphy, clad in a Mets jersey and cap. The fate of the historic ball is as yet unknown; baseball memorabilia experts say it’s valued at $400,000 to $500,000.

Billy-Ball thanks the research folks at Time Magazine for the data for this article.

Top of the 2nd
RED SOX FANS BACK AWAY FROM THE LEDGE
The Red Sox beat the Angels last night, 9-6 as the Yankees were being clobbered by the Blue Jays. The most significant aspect of the Sox victory was the performance of the bullpen. First Mike Timlin pitched an inning ana third of scoreless relief. Then Hideki Okajima (3-0) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings for the victory. He struck out Orlando Cabrera in the 6th with the potential go-ahead run at third and has stranded 18 of his 19 inherited runners. After that Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 28 attempts.

Red Sox fans note – the Yankees play 17 of its next 20 games against teams currently in playoff positions.

Top of the 3rd
WORST PITCHING LINE OF THE DAY
* Does it go to Dontrelle Willis who pitched 5.1 giving up 9 hits and five runs (four earned)? Nope (but he is winless in his last 13 starts after the Phillies beat him and the Marlins6-4)
* What about Odalis Perez lasted only three innings and was charged with six runs (three earned) on seven hits? No, even though he and the Royals lost to the Twins, 11-4.
* Could it be Byun-Hyun Kim, the Diamondbacks closer from 1999 through 2001, who was acquired off waivers from Florida last week? He was booed when introduced as the Arizona starter and lasted just 2 1/3 innings. He gave up five runs, four earned, on seven hits. He struck out three, walked one and hit a batter. Despite Kim the Diamondbacks came back to win, 10-6.
* A surprise in this category is the Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang (13-6) who allowed a career-high eight runs and nine hits over 2 2/3 innings, his shortest career outing, and lost for the first time in four starts. He walked two and struck out three as the Jays buried the New Yorkers, 15-4.
* But Wang is not our winner; our winner, or should I say loser is…drum roll, please…the Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo (4-2) who gave up 11 runs and 12 hits in 2 2/3 innings, both easily career highs. He hadn’t given up more than four runs in any of his previous seven major league starts. Colorado creamed Milwaukee, 19-4 and moved five games over .500 for the first time since last May 22. Colorado won its fifth consecutive home game. The Rockies’ 21-5 mark at home since June 2 is best in baseball during that span. Prince Fielder hit his NL-leading 34th homer for the Brewers, who have lost four straight and 14 of 20. Milwaukee remained one game ahead of second-place Chicago in the NL Central, after the Cubs lost 8-2 to the Houston Astros.

Top of the 4th
BASEBALL GOSSIP FROM THE NEW YORK POST’S PAGE SIX
Injured Yankee pitcher Carl Pavano isn’t cheering his team on. Spies at Southern Hospitality on Second Avenue told Page Six that Tuesday night, Pavano was sitting directly under a TV showing the Yankees beating the White Sox 16-3, but he “didn’t cheer, didn’t watch. He was just interested in entertaining the ladies around him.” A Yankee rep had “no comment.”

Send me your baseball gossip – bill@billy-ball.com

Top of the 5th
WANT TO GET AWAY?
Baseball semi-greats Stan Bahnsen, Tom Tresh, Ed Kranepool, Jeff Torborg and slugger Ken Griffey Sr. form the lineup on the MSC Lirica’s Dec. 14-21 Caribbean sailing round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. The former major-league stars will host baseball trivia games and pitching, hitting, fielding and base-running clinics. They will also share stories about the “characters” of the game and end the cruise with a free autograph session. For more info call 800-666-9333

Top of the 6th
WHY WE LIKE MIKE BASCIK
Washington pitcher Mike Bacsik, Jr. will forever be known as the pitcher who gave up you know what homer to you know who. Before the game, Bacsik pondered whether he would join Al Downing as pitchers who allowed record-breaking homers. “We could do card shows together,” he joked.

Following the game he continued with his stand-up, “If I didn’t give it up, nobody would ever remember who I was,” Bacsik said with a grin. “I’m part of history now.”

Bacsik’s father, Mike, spent five years pitching in the major leagues and once faced Aaron, when Aaron had 755 home runs. “If my dad would have been gracious enough to let Hank Aaron hit a home run, we’d both have given up 756,” Bacsik said.

After Bascik left the game, he went to the Giants’ clubhouse to congratulate B*nds. In turn, B*nds congratulated Bacsik, gave him an autographed bat, and told him that he would be watching his career unfold from a distance.

If you missed Billy-Ball’s take on breaking the record, it can be found here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20185131/

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable
Devil Rays Tigers 1:05 p.m. Kazmir (8-7) Bonderman (10-4)
Twins Royals 2:10 p.m. Garza (1-2) Davies (4-8)
Nationals Giants 3:35 p.m. Hanrahan (1-0) Misch (0-1)
Marlins Phillies 7:05 p.m. Mitre (5-5) Kendrick (5-2)
Mariners Orioles 7:05 p.m. Ramirez (6-3) Cabrera (8-11)
Padres Cardinals 8:10 p.m. Young (9-3) Pineiro (1-2)
Indians White Sox 8:11 p.m. Laffey (0-1) Buehrle (9-6)
Cubs Rockies 9:05 p.m. Lilly (12-5) Jimenez (1-1)
Pirates D-Backs 9:40 p.m. Snell (7-10) Davis (8-10)
Braves Mets 12:10 p.m. Hudson (12-5) Maine (12-6)
Dodgers Reds 12:35 p.m. Tomko (2-9) Dumatrait (0-1)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Make this your odd and useless stat of the day. On August 1, the Padres acquired outfielder Rob Mackowiak from the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Jon Link, and when they did they almost assured themselves that in Mackowiak they will not have a guy who will kill innings by hitting into a double play (although he did last night in the 5th inning of the Padres 2-1 loss to St.Louis).

Although Mackowiak hit into one last night, it was his first in the eight games he has played for the Padres. When Mackowiak was playing for the Pirates, from August 24, 2001 to September 24, 2003, he didn’t hit into any. That encompassed 236 games and 638 at bats.

The longest current streak belongs to Curtis Granderson of the Tigers who hasn’t hit into one yet this season, didn’t hit into any last season, and the last one he hit into was on September 28, 2006. That’s 112 games and 438 at bats.

Top of the 9th
CHECK OUT
John Shiffert’s latest “19 to 21” on 300 game winners – http://billy-ball.com/19to21.htm

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Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.