Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28, 1938: Gabby Hartnett, and The Homer In The Gloaming

     On September 28, 1938, with the game about to be called by darkness at Wrigley Field in Chicago, player/manager Gabby Hartnett launched a solo shot to left that was lost in the night as it sailed over the wall in left to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5. The game was crucial, as it knocked the Pirates out of first, and would place the Cubs atop the standings where they would remain until season's end. The Cubs ended up being swept in the World Series by the New York Yankees. However, the ride to winning that National League Pennant would forever be remembered, and Hartnett's home run that came in the dark would become an immortalized moment known as the "homer in the gloaming."

     As the 37-year-old Hartnett circled the bases an eruption of more than 34,000 cheers filled the air. He was mobbed by his team, and the fans as well before the ushers on hand were able to get him away from the celebration. In an article that was published in the Spokesman Review on April 9, 1950, Hartnett looked back on the moment in great detail.  He began by saying "Do you know how you feel when you're real scared, or something big is going to happen? Well, that's how I felt for one terrific minute on my best day in baseball." It is an absolutely great piece of work that you can read here:

You could also check out the SABR account of the game here:

Check out the box score here:

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 1902: Tinker, Evers, and Chance Turn Their First Double Play


     On September 15, 1902, at the West Side Grounds in Chicago the famed combination of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance executed their first double play, during what turned out to be a 6-3 for their Cubs win over the Cincinnati Reds. Over the next decade the three men locked down what was considered one of the best defensive infields of the era, as they were key pieces for the club that won the National League Pennant four times from 1906 to 1910, which included back-to-back World Series titles in 1907 and 1908. In 1910 they were forever immortalized in a poem written by Franklin P. Adams. A New Yorker, Adams watched the trio turn his fair share of double plays against his Giants. The poem goes as follows:

These are the saddest of possible words-
 "Tinkers to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, 
Tinkers and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, 
Making a Giant hit into a double- 
 Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble,
"Tinker to Evers to Chance." 
     You can feel the pain of being a Giants fan in that poem. The trio was elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1946. Some have said that the poem made their induction into Cooperstown happen. Even if that is the case what they did on the diamond should not be forgotten, and when we hear those three names mentioned in reference to a play you know it was a beauty. Unless it happened against the club you had rooting interest in, and if that was the case you would know exactly how Mr. Adams felt when he saw Tinker fire over to Evers, who turned and fired to Chance.

The article in the photo appeared in the Baltimore American the following day. The trio appeared on the diamond two days earlier together, but it was this that saw their first twin killing turned. While the article does not mention the double play, I do look at it as a little piece of history knowing that it all started right there.

I really enjoyed this short video that has the poem being narrated:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9, 1965: Sandy Koufax Achieves Perfection

     On September 9, 1965, at 9:46 p.m. in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California, Sandy Koufax achieved perfection, by striking out Chicago Cubs pinch hitter Harvey Kuenn for the 27th out in a 1-0 win in front of 29,139 fans at Dodger Stadium. It was 27 up and 27 down for the lefty who had already thrown three no hitters in his career. The fourth was more than a no-no. It was perfect.

     Koufax and Dodgers needed perfection to beat the Cubs that day as their starter Bob Hendley delivered with a one hit performance of his own. The game's only run was unearned, as Lou Johnson worked a walk out of Hendley, then moved over to second on a sacrifice, before coming around to score on a wild throw. Johnson also broke up Hendley's bid for a no-no with a seventh inning double. While Hendley had misfortune, Koufax was dealing. Absolutely untouchable as he struck out 14 men, which included the last six men he faced. I consider the call by Vin Scully piece of art, as he painted a picture with words that is very easy to see in yourmind's eye. Truly a thing of beauty:

     The perfect game proved to be the last no-no in what was an illustrious career. Albeit short. The next year was his last despite the fact he would have been viewed in his proverbial prime. Arm problems had caught him at an early age. His four no-hitters stood as a record until Nolan Ryan surpassed him by throwing his fifth in 1981. Ryan holds the current record with seven.

Check out one of Sandy Koufax's legendary box score here:

The amazing piece of sports art that is featured with today's fact can be found here: 

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 1939: Rapid Robert Becomes The Youngest 20 Game Winner

     On September 8, 1939, at the age of 20 years, 10 months, and 5 days old, Cleveland Indians legend Bob Feller became the youngest pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to win 20 games. The youngster entered the record books in front of a crowd of just 598 people in St. Louis, as he led the way to a 12-1 victory by allowing just five hits, while his teammates pounded out 13 hits, and made the victory an easy one. Feller finished that season with a 24-9 record, and would reach the 20 win mark a total of six times in his career.

There is a very good possibility the 266 game winner would have won 300 games in his career had it not been for him losing three years due to his service to his country in World War II. Truly a legend of his time, Feller was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1962. His record for being the youngest 20 game winner stood until Doc Gooden notched his 20th as a member of the Mets in 1985. Gooden was 20 years, 9 months, and 9 days old when he eclipsed the mark that had been set by the man they called "Rapid Robert" 75 years ago today.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7, 1980: Marcol's Blocked Kick Turn Into a Big Win For The Pack

   On September 7, 1980, tied 6-6 in overtime at Lambeau Field, Chester Marcol of the Green Bay Packers sent the crowd a home happy in an unorthodox way, as he stepped up to kick what looked like it would be a game winning 35 yard field goal, only to have it blocked by Chicago's Alan Page. The ball shot right back to Marcol and the kicker was off to the races. He broke free around the left end, and outran each and every Bears player, as they were stunned by the turn of events that led to a 12-6 win for The Pack.