Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Top of the 1st
THE LAZY, HAZY, VERY CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER – JULY EDITION
By Bill Chuck, Baseball Newstalgist
Join me as we a take a day-by-day retrospective of just some of wackier moments in baseball history in July:
1. 1990 – We just had a losing no-hit effort, but the Angels hardly put the effort that the Yankees did on this date to not support Andy Hawkins against the White Sox. With two down in the bottom of the 8th’ Sammy S*sa hit a bouncer to third, which Mike Blowers dropped. The scoreboard initially flashed that it was a hit, causing players and coaches in the Yankee dugout to wave wildly toward the press box. But the official scorer, ruled the play an error. Hawkins then walked Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson, loading the bases. Hawkins then got Robin Ventura to hit a fly ball to left, but Jim Leyritz dropped the ball after it fell into his glove. Then Jesse Barfield lost Ivan Calderon’s fly ball in the sun and Hawkins was a 4-0 no-hit loser.
2. 2002 – At Cincinnati’ the Astros and Reds played the first inning with non-regulation baseballs’ the result of a mix-up by an attendant in the umpires’ locker room. The attendant did not notice the word “practice” stenciled on the 144 balls he rubbed up for the game; the practice balls generally have defects such as irregular stitching or weight deviations. The umps ruled that both teams must have chance with the balls. Lance Berkman hit a regulation homer with the non-regulation balls.
3. 1960 – Despite being scheduled to pitch the next day, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim O’Toole gets married. The next day when O’Toole pitches and the Cubs pound him for 7 runs and 9 hits in less than 5 innings, annoyed Reds manager Hutchinson growls’ “It was his turn to pitch. I didn’t tell him to get married.” O’Toole ends up with 11 kids.
4. 1985 – What better way to celebrate July 4th than with baseball, beer and fireworks? This night in Atlanta, the Mets and Braves celebrated with baseball, rain and fireworks. The afternoon game started and after two innings suffered the first of two rain delays. No problem, the post-game fireworks will just be slightly delayed. The Mets had Jesse Orosco on in the 8th to protect a 7-4 lead, but he promptly surrendered four runs. In the 9th, the Mets tied the game and forced extra innings. No problem, the post-game fireworks will just be slightly delayed. The Mets took a 10-8 lead in the top of the 13th inning’ only to watch the Braves tie it off lefty Tom Gorman in the bottom of the inning. No problem, the post-game fireworks will just be slightly delayed. In the top of the 18th the Mets scored a run to take an 11-10 lead, but with two outs in the bottom of the inning with two strikes on Braves pitcher Rick Camp, a career .074 hitter and was at the plate because the Braves had run out of position players, hits his only home run of his career and the game continued. No problem…. In the 19th, the Mets scored five times and the Braves could only counter with to and after 6:10 of playing time the Mets win, 16-13 in 19 innings. The game ended at 3:55 A.M. on July 5th. At 4:01 A.M. the post-game fireworks display begins’ causing local residents to think the city is under attack.
5. 1958 – Why do baseball games continue to all hours of the night? Perhaps it’s because of tactics like those performed by the Yankees on this date in 1958. In those days there was a Saturday midnight curfew preventing games from going into the Sabbath. At 11:47 at Yankee Stadium that night’ the Red Sox took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 11th. The rule was the inning must be completed by 11:59 or the game reverts back to the last completed inning. Tom Sturdivant came in to pitch in relief and walked to the mound from the bullpen at a “snails pace.” He then makes a feeble attempt at a grounder by Billy Klaus allowing the Red Sox to score another run making it 5-3. But then the 11:59 P.M. curfew was reached and the game reverted to a 3-3 tie to be replayed from the start.
6. 1922 – Red Sox and the St. Louis Brown have a doubleheader scheduled for Fenway cancelled by Sox owner Harry Frazee for no apparent reason. Browns vice-president Walter Fritsch is quoted that Frazee of doing this so that the Browns will have to play three doubleheaders in three days and thus aid the Yankees’ a team the Browns play on July 11 (as if Frazee hadn’t done enough for the Yankees selling them Babe Ruth). The rules will be changed at the winter meetings to put the decision to cancel games in the hands of the umpires rather than the owners.
7. 1993 – Another July marathon in which the Phillies defeat the Dodgers’ 7-6′ in a 20 innings. The game takes 6 hours and 10 minutes’ and concludes at 1:47 AM. The Phils Mitch Williams blew a 5-3 lead in the 9th’ allowing a hit and walking 3 before being ejected. Afterwards’ John Kruk said’ “I came here and I wanted to kill Mitch’ but they told me it was against the law.”
8. 2002 – The Class A minor league Charleston Riverdogs put on a major promotion. On “Nobody Night” in Charleston, fans were barred from Joe Riley Stadium until after the 5th inning’ at which time the attendance is officially recorded as ZERO.
9. 1953 – What a wuss! The Phils starting pitcher Robin Roberts was relieved after giving up two runs in the 8th inning to the Brooklyn Dodgers. This broke Roberts streak of 28 consecutive complete games.
10. 1986 – Long before Manny was Manny, Dennis was Oil Can. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was a tad upset about being left off the AL All-Star team. That evening he storms out of Fenway Park prior to Boston’s game against the Angels. He will be suspended indefinitely by the Red Sox and eventually scuffle with local police before checking into a hospital for psychiatric testing.
11. 2003 – I’m no fan of mascots but I get a Noble Peace Prize compared to Pittsburgh’s Randall Simon who was suspended for three games and fined $2’000 for hitting one of the Milwaukee sausage mascots with his bat during the sausage race held between innings of the game between the Pirates and Brewers. “That wasn’t my intention in my heart for that to happen,” Simon said (Simon says, “Whack a sausage?”). “I was just trying to get a tap at the costume and for her to finish the race.” Brewers manager Ned Yost said’ “I just looked over and saw our wieners in a wad.”
12. 1979 – If you ever get the chance, book Mike Veeck to speak to your organization and hear his hilarious explanation of how he organized Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park. The Tigers won the first game of a scheduled doubleheader 4-1 that night and then the stands opened up swarming onto the field’ causing the White Sox to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader. Oh yeah, did I mention it was also 10-cent beer night? Mike got the axe the next day but will always be honored for accelerating the death of disco.
13. 1993 – Fan Power Lives (albeit briefly) – A class action suit by two season ticket holders against the Padres is settled out of court. The suit argued that a preseason form letter from Padres president Dick Freeman stated that the team would be contenders because of its group of young stars a number of whom the Friars then traded away. The Padres agreed to loosen their refund policy and the plaintiffs withdraw their demand that the team not trade Fred McGriff. The Hit Dog goes within the week.
14. 1994 – Joe Carter won the World Series for the Blue Jays in 1993 with a memorable walkoff homer. Now if only the Jays uniform maker Wilson could remember how to spell as Carter appears with his uniform spelling “Torotno”.
15. 1994 – Is this “Corkgate,” “Batgate,” or simply “Stupidgate?” In the 1st inning at Comiskey Park’ White Sox manager Gene Lamont accused Indian slugger Albert Belle of using a corked bat’ and umpire Dave Phillips confiscates the bat and stored it in the ump’s dressing room. The Tribe knew that the bat was corked and so during the game pitcher Jason Grimsley went through a ceiling crawlspace’ dropping down into the ump’s dressing room’ and exchanges Belle’s bat (stupidly for one of Paul Sorrento’s). “My heart was going 1,000 miles a second,” said Grimsley. “I just rolled the dice, a crapshoot.” Belle was given a 10-day suspension’ later reduced to 7 games.
16. 2003 – How old is too old to play baseball? Minnie Minoso became the first player to play professional baseball in seven decades when he walked in the 1st inning as DH for the St. Paul Saints in their Northern League game against Gary. I still don’t think that was an official at bat.
17. 2002 – Torii Hunter has always struck me as a nice guy but even he has his limits. He was a tad peeved after he was hit in the ribs by a pitch by Indians pitcher Danys Baez so he picked up the ball and threw at Baez, nailing him in the leg. “I hit him with the same ball he hit me with,” Hunter said. Makes sense to me.
18. 1954 – In St. Louis’ Phils rookie Bob Greenwood was going for his first major league win and has a 8-1 lead over the Cardinals going into the 5th inning in a game stopped several times because of rain. St. Louis manager Eddie Stanky then starts stalling’ twice changing pitchers because the rules at the time prohibited turning on lights in the middle of a game. Umpire Babe Pinelli reacted to Stanky’s call for a third pitcher by calling a forfeit denying Greenwood his first win.
19. 1994 – Two hours before the Mariners games in the Kingdome’ four 15-pound wood-fiber tiles fall from the ceiling of the stadium’ landing in the (fortunately) empty seats. The game is postponed indefinitely as an inspection finds that many water-damaged tiles would have to be replaced before baseball could be played there again forcing the Mariners on two month roadtrip. On the other hand, that wouldn’t have been so bad considering the alternative as the last great baseball lockout occurred soon after canceling the season.
20. 1978 – Looking for a precedent to the Chacon-Wade affair? Montreal Expos GM Charlie Fox got into a heated exchange with struggling shortstop Chris Speier on this date. When Expos pitcher Steve Rogers tried to intervene, Fox punched him in the mouth. Case closed.
21. 1942 – You heard about and now you can read about how the great Negro League pitcher faced the “the Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues” Josh Gibson at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Years earlier’ Paige told Gibson that one day he would strike him out with the bases loaded and this turned out to be the day. With a man on’ two outs’ Paige intentionally waked two batters to load `em up and face Gibson. Old Satch tells the crowd and Gibson what is going to happen. “Three fastballs’ Josh'” Paige then proceeds to strike him out to end the game.
22. 1986 – The Mets were to beat the Red Sox in the World Series that season (Does the name Calvin Schiraldi strike a familiar note?) but this team had crazy games all season long. On this date they beat the Reds, 6-3in 14 innings. Along the way, Darryl Strawberry is ejected after arguing a called third strike; Howard Johnson inadvertently kicks the ball after Reds C Bo Diaz drops a third strike then runs out of the baseline and is hit in the back with the throw from the pitcher. Reds coach Billy DeMars is ejected for arguing the safe call. The Mets at that point down by a pair with two outs in the 9th, tie the game when Dave Parker drops a routine fly ball. In the Reds 10th’ pinch-runner Eric Davis steals second and third’ bumping into Ray Knight. Knight decks Davis and both benches empty. Knight’ Davis’ Kevin Mitchell and Mario Soto are ejected. Gary Carter moves to 3B’ McDowell comes in to pitch’ and reliever Jesse Orosco moves from the mound to right field. With two out and a runner on second in the 11th’ Orosco returns to pitch’ McDowell moves to left field’ and Mookie Wilson shifts to right. Manager Pete Rose protests when Orosco is permitted eight warm-up pitches. McDowell returns to pitch in the 13th and gets Tony Perez to fly to Orosco in right. Howard Johnson belts a three-run homer in the 14th’ scoring Hearn and Orosco.
23. 1986 – It must have been “Assist Day” in Toronto’s 6-2 win at Seattle. In the 7th inning’ Tony Fernandez singles and is out advancing to second but not before a rundown going from the right fielder to the first baseman to the shortstop to the second baseman to the shortstop and finally to the catcher for the putout.
24. 1991 – Recently recalled 1B Brian Hunter of the Braves homered in Atlanta’s 7-4 loss to Pittsburgh. Hunter’s former minor league team’ the Richmond Braves’ that day was finishing a suspended game against Pawtucket. Hunter had homered in that game before it was called’ giving him dingers in the major and minor leagues on the same day.
25. 1990 – Before the start of the Padres-Reds game in San Diego’ comedienne Roseanne Barr screeches out a rendition of the National Anthem’ finishing with a crotch grab and a spit. At least it only took a minute.
26. 1962 – Gene Conley is the only athlete to win world championships in basketball and baseball, and nobody played two major professional sports longer. For six years, he played both sports continually, “I didn’t stop. I had to wear a jockstrap year-round.” You can’t blame him in that case for his wanderlust. In New York’ on this date, Conley and Pumpsie Green of the Red Sox mysteriously disappear after a 13-3 loss to the Yankees. They left the team bus, on its way to Washington and caught in traffic, to use a rest room and fail to return. Conley and Green went drinking and Conley amidst his reverie decided he wanted to fly to Israel. Green rejoined the team but Conley went to the airport’ but was refused a ticket because he didn’t have a passport. He rejoined the Sox four days later.
27. 2003 – Victory was in the air at the Metrodome in Minnesota. Really. On this date, former Metrodome superintendent Dick Ericson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he tried to manipulate the outcome of Twins games by the use of electric fans in the late innings. The power of the electric fans needed to be increased near the end of games to keep the roof inflated as doors were opened for spectators to leave. Ericson said he would increase the number of fans blowing from between first and third bases’ starting in the last of the 8th if the Twins were behind’ thus giving the Twins the chance at two innings of batting in these conditions and with only one inning at bat for the visiting team. Bobby Valentine’ when he was managing the Texas Rangers’ was the most vociferous in suggesting that electric fans behind the plate were turned on to blow air toward the outfield when the Twins were at bat. The Twins scoffed at the charges.
28. 1970 – Everybody every now and then has a bad day. Take Angels catcher Tom Egan who on this date was charged with 5 passed balls’ (he was an equal opportunity teammate as it was with five different pitchers)’ and he drops a throw for an error to permit what proves to be the winning run in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees.
29. 1979 – Those oldies but goodies remind me of Billy Martin. It was Oldtimers Day at Yankee Stadium, and the voice of god announcer Bob Sheppard introduces Bob Lemon who will be the manager through 1979, then become GM.”…and ” Sheppard continues, “the manager in 1980 and hopefully for many seasons to come after that will be number one. . . Billy Martin.” Great introduction. Martin didn’t last long before he was fired again.
30. 1914 – With the score tied in the 9th’ the Senators Ray Morgan seemingly beats out a grounder when he slides into first’ but umpire John E. Sheridan calls him out. Morgan comes up with a handful of dirt’ which he throws at the ump’s feet. (“This happens in nearly every game,” writes the Washington Post). Sheridan thought that Morgan meant to hit him with the dirt and swings at the player catching him on the jaw. Teammate Eddie Ainsmith charges out of the dugout and punches the ump as both the Nats and the Tigers rush out onto the field. Ainsmith and Morgan are ejected and as they are walking by the box seats’ a fan calls Ainsmith a name. Eddie leans in and asks him to repeat it’ and when the fan does’ the catcher decks him’ starting a near riot. Morgan jumps into the stands as does Bull Henry’ who gets hit in the back with a chair.
31. 1962 – On this date, the National League rejected Commissioner Ford Frick’s proposal for inter-league play in 1963. Frick proved prescient, the NL proved to be wise.
Top of the 2nd
THE RAYS REPUBLIC
The Rays extended their lead in the AL East to 2