Results tagged ‘ MLB Memory Lane ’

MLB Memory Lane – September 10, 2007

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, the most frustrating game I have ever attended in my life.

Date: September 10, 2007
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates
Stadium: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Seat Location: Lower deck behind home plate
With: No one

It was my tradition a few years ago to go on a long car trip at the end of the Timber Rattlers season.  I would get in the car and drive with no real destination in mind.*

In 2007, I went north.  Then, I went east.  My trip took me to through Sault Ste. Marie, to the Canadian capital of Toronto kidding…Ottawa, through Vermont past Castleton College, to Cooperstown, Scranton, and Shanksville.

It was just coincidence that the Pirates happened to be home against the Brewers on September 10.  I was going to go to this game.

This may come as a shock, but there were decent tickets available for this game.  The Brewers were in first place in the NL Central – one game up on the Chicago Cubs – with a 73-69 record.  Pittsburgh was 63-80 and in 5th place.

I found a decent parking spot and walked across the bridge to get to the stadium:

The walk to PNC Park is great.

The walk to PNC Park is great.

Then, statues of legends.  Not just Pirates legends.  Baseball Immortals:

Roberto Clemente!

Roberto Clemente!

Willie Stargell!

Willie Stargell!

This may come as a shock, but I walked up to the window on the day of the game at PNC Park without a ticket and for $25 this is where I got to sit:

Shhh.  You can almost hear Ned Yost and Jim Tracy discussing WAR and FIP.

Shhh. You can almost hear Ned Yost and Jim Tracy discussing WAR and FIP.

The pitching matchup?  Carlos Villanueva for the Brewers against Tony Armas, Jr. for the Pirates.   PLAY BALL!  Well, first I had to go get a gyro from the one of the concession stands on the third base side.  Then, it was PLAY BALL!

Both teams had a pair of hits in the second inning, but neither team scored in that frame.  The game was scoreless until the bottom of fifth.

Nyjer Morgan started the rally with a one out double.  (Oh, T-Plush, how could you?) Nate McClouth was next and he homered to right field and the Pirates were up 2-0.

Villanueva, who was making his third start of the season, was due up to leadoff the top of the sixth.  Ned sent Laynce Nix up to pinch-hit for Villanueva to start something.  Armas retired Nix on a grounder.  Armas also retired Rickie Weeks and Gabe Gross on grounders for a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

Here’s Matt Wise to keep it close in the bottom of the sixth.

Bautista singled to left; Pearce struck out; Paulino singled to center [Bautista to second]; Wilson singled to shortstop [Bautista to third, Paulino to second]; PHELPS BATTED FOR ARMAS; Phelps forced Wilson (third to second) [Bautista scored, Paulino scored (error by Weeks) (unearned) (no RBI), Phelps to second]; SHOUSE REPLACED WISE (PITCHING); Morgan struck out; 2 R (1 ER), 3 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Brewers 0, Pirates 4.

*sigh*

In the top of the seventh Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were both retired by Franquelis Osoria. Corey Hart reached on a bunt single, but Geoff Jenkins lined out to center.

Brian Shouse, who came on to get the last out of the Pirate half of the sixth, came out to the mound after the stretch:

PIRATES 7TH: McLouth singled to left; McLouth stole second; F. Sanchez singled to right [McLouth to third]; LaRoche singled to right [McLouth scored, F. Sanchez to second]; MCCLUNG REPLACED SHOUSE (PITCHING); Bautista struck out; Pearce singled to left [F. Sanchez scored, LaRoche to second]; Paulino doubled to center [LaRoche scored, Pearce to third]; Wilson out on a sacrifice fly to right [Pearce scored, Paulino to third]; Osoria was called out on strikes; 4 R, 5 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Brewers 0, Pirates 8.

*sigh*

I am pretty sure that rigth around the time Seth McClung came into the ballgame was when this happened:

Grrrrr.  I mean Yaaaarrrrrrghhhh!

Grrrrr. I mean Yaaaarrrrrrghhhh!

It wasn’t even the cool mascot. You know? The Parrot. It was this guy.

I stuck around for the whole game, which included Greg Aquino giving up an RBI double to Adam LaRoche in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 9-0 Pirates lead.

The Brewers went down in order in the top of the ninth and I was heading out on the road to somewhere in Ohio to spend the night.

Milwaukee managed just four hits in the game, didn’t draw any walks, and played one of their worst games of 2007. Plus, the Cubs pummeled the Cardinals 12-3 at Wrigley Field that afternoon. That meant Milwaukee and Chicago were tied for the NL Central lead with identical 73-70 records with 19 games left in the season.

Starting Lineups:

   Milwaukee Brewers             Pittsburgh Pirates       
1. Weeks               2b        Morgan              cf
2. Gross               rf        McLouth             lf
3. Braun               3b        F. Sanchez          2b
4. Fielder             1b        LaRoche             1b
5. Hart                cf        Bautista            3b
6. Jenkins             lf        Pearce              rf
7. Estrada             c         Paulino             c
8. Hardy               ss        Wilson              ss
9. Villanueva          p         Armas               p

NOTES:
Prince Fielder: 1-for-3
Ryan Braun: 0-for-4
Geoff Jenkins: 0-for-3

Results aside, PNC Park is a beautiful stadium.  I highly recommend it as a stop if you want to catch a Brewers game on the road.  Plus, GYROS!

I will retrace this journey one day.  Except I would make my sit-com visit to Pawnee, Indiana and my MST3K visit to Merrill, Wisconsin (Packers! Whooooo!).

Retrosheet.org Boxscore
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

*-The case can be made that this tradition started as a way to fulfill the post-Vietnam dreams of John Rambo and Ortega: Me and Ortega used to talk about getting a big caddy after the war, ya know, and cruise ’till the wheels fell off. One day we were in town and this little kid comes up to Ortega and says, Shine Sir? Shine? and the box was wired….there were pieces of Ortega all over the street, sir…...….. Sorry. I have something in my eye…..probably just dust……probably….Now, I want to watch First Blood again.

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

Bonds, Kent, Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday (1999)

Doubleheader against Yaz & the Red Sox (1977)

Rockie Mountain Way (1999)

Wrigley in September (1985)

Dan Plesac frustrates us (1991)

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MLB Memory Lane – June 29, 1991

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, the most frustrating game I have ever attended in my life.

Date: June 29, 1991
Teams: New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium: Milwaukee County Stadium
Seat Location: Bleachers in Left-center
With: Friends

I want to put this out there right away.  I do not hate Dan Plesac.  In fact, I stood up for him while he struggled late in his career as the closer for the Brewers.

But, some of my friends and family members…They probably do not want to hear the name Plesac ever again.  This game from 1991 may is probably one of the reasons.

It was a great day for a game.  We showed up with over 31,000 other fans to watch Teddy Higuera take on the Yankees.  Jeff Johnson was on the mound for New York.  Jeff Who?  Exactly.

But, first Higuera got into a lot of trouble in the first inning.

There were two on with one out as Jesse Barfield singled to drive in Steve Sax.  Higuera walked Kevin Maas to load the bases and Hensley Meulens singled in two more runs to put the Yankees up 3-0.  Higuera escaped the rest of the inning without allowing another run.  In fact, he wouldn’t give up another run the rest of his time on the hill.

Meanwhile, the Brewers charged back to take tie the game against Jeff Johnson in the third inning.  They loaded the bases with one out and Robin Yount grounded into a force play to let Rick Dempsey score from third base.  Candy Maldonado followed with an RBI single to drive in Billy Spiers.  Then, Greg Vaughn singled in Yount.

That was it for Johnson.  Eric Plunk took over and got the last out of the third.

The game settled in after the pitching change.  Higuera pitched a 1-2-3 fourth, worked out of a runners on the corners with no out jam in the fifth, allowed a meaningless two-out single in the sixth, and tossed a 1-2-3 seventh.  The fans were loving Higuera’s performance after that first inning stumble.
TeddyHiguera

However, Plunk was just as good.  He had a 1-2-3 fourth, worked around a one out single by Willie Randolph in the fifth, and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.

So, here we are.  Seventh inning stretch time at Milwaukee County Stadium.  Tied 3-3 on a perfect Saturday afternoon and BJ Surhoff is coming to the plate to pinch-hit for Rick Dempsey.  Single.  Spiers bunts into a force play at second base for the first out.  Then, Paul Molitor walks.  That’s it for Plunk.  Time to bring in, um, John Habyan to face Randolph.

Willie Randolph singles to center to score Spiers.  Then, a horrific throw by Meulens lets Molitor score and the Crew are up 5-3.  Robin is next and he does what you expect of Robin Yount in that spot.  He smacks a double to drive in Randolph to make it 6-3.  Then, Candy “By GOD!” Maldonado cracks a two-run homer and the Brewers lead those damn Yankees 8-3!

Candy "By God!" Maldonado

Candy “By God!” Maldonado

You’ll remember that Higuera did not start the 1991 season with the Brewers.  His season didn’t get started until the end of May.  This start on June 29 was the first time in that season he made it seven innings.  But, surely the Brewers bullpen could get six outs.

They needed three pitchers to get three outs in the freaking eighth inning.

But before we get to that…Important plot point.  Daryl Hamilton came into the game as a defensive replacement for Robin Yount in the top of the eighth.

Along with that move and putting Surhoff in at catcher, which bullpen warrior did Tom Trebelhorn call on to start the top of the eighth?  Julio Machado.

Machado retired Don Mattingly for the first out.  Then…back-to-back home runs by Barfield and Kevin Maas.
jesse-barfieldKevinMaas
It’s 8-5, but not time to panic.  However, it was time for a pitching change.  Hi, Chuck Crim!

Mel Hall retired for the second out.  But, Pat Sheridan doubled.  Bye, Chuck Crim.  Hello, Mark Lee.

Willie Randolph commits a throwing error after a Matty Nokes grounder and Sheridan scores to make it 8-6.

It was at this point that my friends in attendance started to yell to Greg Vaughn and Daryl Hamilton that, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, should they allow Dan Plesac to take the mound in this game.  “Hey, Daryl! Hey, Vaughn!  If Pleasac comes out of the bullpen, tackle him! Don’t let him get to the mound!”

Well, Mark Lee did get the final out of the eighth inning.  Then, the Brewers went down in order in the bottom of the eighth.  The score was still 8-6.

Here comes Plesac!

Photo from si.com

Photo from si.com

There was an audible groan from my friends and most of the people in my section of the bleachers as he headed for the mound.

Now, at the time, Dan Plesace was 5-for-5 in save opportunities.  He had appeared in 23 games up to that point in the season and he had allowed more than one run in an inning just one time before this game and that was when he gave up a pair of runs in one inning during a non-save situation in a 9-0 loss to Toronto back on April 14!

In fact, Plesac had pitched a scoreless inning on June 28 against the Yankees to pick up his fifth save of the season.  Sure he gave up a leadoff single to Mattingly, but he came back to get Hall, Maas, and Barfield to secure a Brewers win.

Surely today would be no different for Plesac, I was thinking.  And he will be on his way to his fourth All-Star Selection.

*Sigh*

PLESAC REPLACED LEE (PITCHING); Sax singled to left; R. Kelly popped to third; Mattingly singled to left [Sax to second]; Barfield walked [Sax to third, Mattingly to second];Maas forced Barfield (second to shortstop) [Sax scored (RBI), Mattingly to third, Maas to first].

Here’s the situation.  Brewers up 8-7 with two outs in the top of the ninth.  The Yankees have the tying run at third and the lead run at first.  Mel Hal, who had pinch-hit for Meulens in the eighth inning, is at the plate.

Hall doubled to right-center. Two runs scored. Hall was out at third trying for a triple to end the inning.  Yankees are up 9-8.
Mel Hall

“WE TOLD YOU, DARYL!”my friends screamed at Hamilton as he made his way back to the Brewers dugout.  “YOU SHOULD HAVE TACKLED HIM!”

The Yankees went to Steve Farr to pitch the bottom of the ninth.  As Farr warmed up on the mound, Mel Hall took his place in left field.

“Hey, Hall,” one of my friend yelled. “Did you get thrown out at third because you were laughing at how easy it was to hit Plesac while you were running the bases?”

Mel Hall turned and laughed at my friends.

Farr got Molitor to fly out to left and Randolph to fly out to right.  That brought up Robin Yount’s spot in the order, oh, wait. That’s right.  Daryl Hamilton went into Robin’s spot in the order when he went in defensively for the top of the ninth.

*sigh*

Farr struck out Hamilton to end the game.  Brewers lose a heartbreaker, folks!

   New York Yankees              Milwaukee Brewers        
1. Sax                 2b        Molitor             1b
2. R. Kelly            cf        Randolph            2b
3. Mattingly           1b        Yount               cf
4. Barfield            rf        Maldonado           dh
5. Maas                dh        Vaughn              lf
6. Meulens             lf        Bichette            rf
7. Espinoza            ss        Sveum               3b
8. Geren               c         Dempsey             c
9. P. Kelly            3b        Spiers              ss

TOP PERFORMERS:
NYY:
Steve Sax 3-for-4, 2 RUNS
Barfield, Maas, Meulens, and Hall each had two RBI

MIL:
Teddy Higuera: 7IP, 7H, 3R, 3BB, 5K, ND
Candy Maldonado: 2-for-4, RUN, HR, 3RBI

NOTES:
Paul Molitor: 1-for-4, RUN
Robin Yount: 2-for-4, 2 RUNS, 2RBI

Sadly, that was the last start of the season for Teddy Higuera.  He wouldn’t appear for the Brewers in a big league game again until August 14, 1993.  That makes me angry and sad.

Speaking of angry and sad…Julio Machado’s story.

Dan Plesac’s 1991 season with the Brewers took turn after that.  Just look at his Game Log on Baseball-Reference for 1991.

He would have only four more saves in a Brewers uniform.  Three more in 1991, before he moved to the starting rotation in August.    In 1992, his final season in Milwaukee, Plesac had one save in 44 appearances (40 in relief).  He still holds the Milwaukee Brewers record for saves in a career with 133.

After parting ways with Milwaukee, Plesac would go on to pitch for the Cubs, Pirates, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays (again), and Phillies.  He pitched a total of 18 seasons in the major leagues before hanging it up in 2003.

He is now an analyst – and a pretty good one – for MLB Network.

Dan, if you read this, I’d like to buy you a drink some day because I remember a different game that you pitched.  I wasn’t there, but I listened to it on the radio.  It was a 1989 game against the Red Sox at home.  You came on in the top of the ninth in a 1-1 game.  The bases were loaded and Wade Boggs was at the plate with two outs.  You struck him out.

Then, you went four more scoreless innings with another strikeout of Boggs in the twelfth inning.  Wade Boggs struck out 51 times in 742 plate appearances in 1989 and you got him on strikes in two straight at bats with the game on the line.

But, the offense couldn’t score and Boston finally got two runs off Mark Knudson in the top of the fourteenth.  It was a throwback with the closer tossing more than one inning, but you went out there and kept shutting Boston down to keep giving the Brewers a chance.

That – and the strike out of Greg Walker to save win #13 in a row to start the 1987 season – are how I prefer to remember Dan Plesac.

Retrosheet Boxscore
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

Bonds, Kent, Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday (1999)

Doubleheader against Yaz & the Red Sox (1977)

Rockie Mountain Way (1999)

Wrigley in September (1985)

MLB Memory Lane – September 1, 1985

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week: A Mehring family day trip to Wrigley Field.

Date: September 1, 1985
Teams: Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Wrigley Field
Seat Location: Right field foul line; lower deck
With: Family

Would not appear in this game.

Would not appear in this game.

This was a neat, end-of-summer, day trip for the family.  We got in the car and drove to Skokie.  Then, took the train in to Wrigley Field.  From there, well, there is something special about walking up to Wrigley Field on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon and the day of a game.

It didn’t matter that the Braves were horrible and the Cubs were mediocre.  We were going to a game at Wrigley Field on a perfect day.

Then, I saw the Cubs decided to sit Ryne Sandberg.  Chris Speier would be the starting second baseman for Chicago on this day…Davey Lopes would be the left fielder.

Didn’t matter.   The seats were great and pitching matchup would be…Len Barker against….Derek Botelho…. *SIGH*. 

I remember taking pictures of the stadium with a small Kodak camera.  The one that you would load with film.  The pictures are somewhere between here and my ancestral home.  They were okay.

Something else that was okay was a leadoff homer by Davey Lopes in the bottom of the second inning.  I wasn’t expecting that.  Later in the inning, Leon Durham doubled and stole third base.  I don’t think that anyone was expecting that second part.

In the bottom of the third, I witnessed something that explains Atlanta Braves baseball in the mid-80′s.

Botelho reached on an error.  Bob Dernier bunted for a single.  Shawon Dunston walked to load the bases.  Thad Bosley walked to force in a run.  Barker got the next two outs, but walked Leon Durham to force in a run.  That ended the day for Barker.  Jeff Dedmon came in and walked Speier to force in a run for a 4-0 Cubs lead.

Chris Chambliss hit a two-run home run in the top of the fourth to close the gap for the Braves.

It was only his 3rd home run of the year.

It was only his 3rd home run of the year.

But, Dedmon gave both runs back as he walked Botelho to start the bottom of the fourth inning and eventually load the bases for Keith Moreland.

Confession time:  My baseball number in high school was #6.  I wanted that number because Keith Moreland was my favorite player.  That should tell you everything you ever wanted to know about me.

Moreland singled to drive in two runs and the Cubs were up 6-2.

Zonk SMASH!

Zonk SMASH!

From there, Botelho turned into Fergie Jenkins.  He allowed two more hits in the game as he went the distance.

The Cubs offense was not done.  In the fifth, they loaded the bases again.  This time Thad Bosley singled in two runs.  Lopes singled in a run.  Moreland doubled in a run.  Speier drove in a run with a grounder.  11-2 Cubs.

Moreland singled in another run in the sixth.  Speier followed with a two-run single.  14-2 Cubs.

This man had 4 RBI and only one hit.

This man had 4 RBI and only one hit.

I remember that Harry’s Take Me Out to the Ballgame was especially good that day.  There may even be a bad picture of him leaning out the booth among that snapshots I took that day.

The final run of the game scored when Gary Woods pinch-hit for Lopes and drove in Dernier in the seventh inning. 

Moreland made the final out of the seventh and was taken out of the game.  Dave Owen went out for defense in the eighth and played second as Speier switched over to third in place of Moreland.

From there, Botelho finished off the Braves from Z to B.  Z being pinch-hitter Paul Zuvella, the first out of the eighth and B being Glenn Hubbard, the last out of the game.

Sure, Sandberg didn’t play for the Cubs and Dale Murphy didn’t play the whole game for the Braves.

Two plate appearances in this game: A walk and a grounder to third.

Two plate appearances in this game: A walk and a grounder to third.

But, my favorite player drove in four runs in the game.  Plus, how many people can say they saw Chris Speier drive in four runs in a game?  Or a Derek Botelho complete game?

All in all it was a pretty good day with the family.

Starting Lineups:
   Atlanta Braves                Chicago Cubs             
1. Thompson            rf        Dernier             cf
2. Ramirez             ss        Dunston             ss
3. Murphy              cf        Bosley              rf
4. Harper              lf        Lopes               lf
5. Chambliss           1b        Moreland            3b
6. Oberkfell           3b        Durham              1b
7. Hubbard             2b        Speier              2b
8. Cerone              c         Lake                c
9. Barker              p         Botelho             p

Top performers:
ATL:
Chris Chambliss: 2-for-4, HR, 2RBI

CHI:
Derek Botelho: 9IP, 6H, 2R, 3BB, 4K, WIN
Keith Moreland: 3-for-6, 2B, RUN, 4RBI,
Dave Lopes: 3-for-5, HR, 3 RUNS, 2RBI
Chris Speier: 1-for-5, 4RBI

NOTE:
Derek Botelho won three games as a major league pitcher.  He won a pair of games with the Kansas City Royals in 1982.   His complete game victory over the Braves on 9/1/85 was his last MLB victory.

Botelho has been a minor league pitching coach for many years.  He is slated to begin his third year as the pitching coach for the Lynchburg Hillcats this season.

The twist? Lynchburg is a Braves affiliate.

From Lynchburg-Hillcats.com

From Lynchburg-Hillcats.com

Retrosheet Boxscore
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

Bonds, Kent, Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday (1999)

Doubleheader against Yaz & the Red Sox (1977)

Rockie Mountain Way (1999)

MLB Memory Lane – July 3, 1999

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week: A midsummer trip to Denver included a stop at Coors Field.

Date: July 3, 1999
Teams: San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies
Stadium: Coors Field
Seat Location: First base side in the top deck
With: Friends

The seats were in the third deck on the first base side. The purple line designates A mile above sea level.

The seats were in the third deck on the first base side. The purple row of seats designates one mile above sea level.

The summer of 1999 was a weird time for me.  It is the only summer since 1995 that I was not involved in baseball.  I had wrapped up my first season as the radio announcer for the Green Bay Gamblers, a hockey team in the USHL, and by this point of the summer I was really, really bored.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to get into my blue Ford Taurus and take a road trip.  My journey took me to visit high school friends who had since moved from Wisconsin to Denver, Colorado.

After catching up for a few days someone brought up the idea of going to a Rockies game.  This was at a time when tickets were difficult to get.  But, a rain out earlier in the season – and baseball’s aversion to the traditional doubleheader – gave us an opportunity to catch the day game of a Day-Night doubleheader at Coors Field against the San Diego Padres.

It was the opportunity to see a game at Coors Field and spend time with friends whom I had not seen in a long time that made me want to go, because the starting pitching matchup was Woody Williams against Roberto Ramirez.

My Coors Field experience was everything I expected because the Rockies were up a 7-0 after the third inning. (NOTE: This was pre-humidor.)

I don't think  that Larry Walker has to buy a drink in Colorado.  Photo Credit:  Brian Bahr

I don’t think that Larry Walker has to buy a drink in Colorado. Photo Credit: Brian Bahr

I was still taking in my surroundings in the bottom of the first when Larry Walker launched this laser to right field.  The ball would have gone through the wall had it not gone over it.  Then, Colorado put up six runs in the second inning.

The first three runs scored by Colorado in the second inning came in on a home run by Neifi Perez.  Three batters later Vinny Castilla hit another three run homer for the 7-0 lead.

This is how I usually remember Neifi Perez. Photo Credit:  Brian Bahr

This is how I usually remember Neifi Perez. Photo Credit: Brian Bahr

Keep in mind, I could go whole seasons of games at old Milwaukee County Stadium without seeing three homers.  Now, I see the home team hit three in their first two at bats in my first game at Coors Field.  I knew I had stepped into a different place.

“Don’t worry, this thing isn’t even close to over yet”, my friends knowingly told me.

So, of course, the Padres score four runs in the top of the third on a pair of two-run homers.  Phil Nevin’s homer didn’t surprise me.  It was the one by Ruben Rivera that caught me off guard.

No. Seriously. Ruben Rivera.

No. Seriously. Ruben Rivera.

Colorado scored again in the bottom of the third as former Brewer Darryl Hamilton singled in Kirt Manwaring for an 8-4 lead.

Once a Brewer, always a Brewer.  By the way, Darryl Hamilton figures into a great story that will be covered in a future MLB Memory Lane.

Once a Brewer, always a Brewer. By the way, Darryl Hamilton figures into a great story that will be covered in a future MLB Memory Lane.

The Rockies pushed the lead to 11-4 with three more runs in the bottom of the fourth.  Kurt Abbott hit a two-run homer after Todd Helton had doubled.  Then, Manwaring tripled…yes, Kirt Manwaring tripled…and Neifi Perez singled in Manwaring for his fourth RBI of the game.

This is how Jack Kirby would picture Kirt Manwaring hitting a triple.

This is how Jack Kirby would picture Kirt Manwaring hitting a triple.

Not over.

I think I was walking around the stadium to get photos on my disposable camera while the Padres rallied in the fifth when Wally Joyner hit a two-run homer.

If this game was an episode of RAW, Jim Ross would have yelled, "BY GOD, KING! That's Wally Joyner's music!!"

If this game was an episode of RAW, Jim Ross would have yelled, “BY GOD, KING! That’s Wally Joyner’s music!!”

It was a shock when Padres reliever Carlos Almanzar pitched a scoreless bottom of the fifth inning.  It was a bigger shock when Dan Miceli, who I would much later learn played for the Appleton Foxes, tossed a scoreless sixth.

At this point I was back at the seats and it was my turn to buy.  I went to the concession stand on the upper level and ordered three Coors Lights.  I paid for the brews and the concessions worker gave them to me.  I started to walk away when a security guard or supervisor, yelled, “STOP! You were only supposed to get two!”

I didn’t say it, but he must have seen the look on my face as the universal language for “What do you mean I’m only supposed to get two?  Don’t you realize that I’m from Wisconsin?”

He explained the – at the time foreign concept – that individual people may only purchase two beers at a time when going to the concession stand.  But, since I already had the beers and it was the fault of the worker, he let me go back to the seats with a beer for me and one for the other two friends who wanted one.

Nothing sinister, but odd.

I did get back to my seat in time for the Padres four run rally against Jerry DiPoto and Curtis Leskanic in the top of the seventh.  DiPoto got the first out, but loaded the bases on a double and two walks.  Ruben Rivera doubled in two runs and it was 11-8.  On came Leskanic to allow a run to score on a Dave Magadan RBI grounder.  Then, Damian Jackson singled in one more run to make it 11-10.

Never panic when you have Leskanic.

Never panic when you have Leskanic!

The Padres bullpen couldn’t hold out forever.  There were two outs and Hamilton was on second base in the bottom of the seventh.  Vinny Castilla tripled.  I say again, for the love of Alexander Cartwright, Vinny Castilla tripled!

I'm guessing that this Vinny Castilla hit was not a triple.

I’m guessing that this Vinny Castilla hit was not a triple.

I don’t know what game I watched that day, but it sure as heckfire wasn’t baseball.

It was still 12-10 heading to the Padres ninth and Colorado went to Dave Veres.

Veres gets the first out and the sound guy at Coors Field plays the opening riff to Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh.  Then, Ruben Rivera singled for his third hit of the game.

Dave Magadan flew out and the sound guy cranks up a little bit more of Rocky Mountain Way.

The game is on the line and the Padres have the pitcher’s spot due up.  On comes John Vander Wal.  Vander Wal was a former Rockie and was one of the best pinch hitters from that era.

But on this day, Veres won the battle and Rocky Mountain Way was cranked all the way up as the Rockies celebrated the win!

Made loud to be played loud!

STARTING LINEUPS:

   San Diego Padres              Colorado Rockies         
1. Veras               2b        Perez               ss
2. Owens               lf        Hamilton            cf
3. Sanders             rf        Walker              rf
4. Nevin               c         Castilla            3b
5. Joyner              1b        Helton              1b
6. Ruben Rivera        cf        Echevarria          lf
7. Arias               3b        Abbott              2b
8. Jackson             ss        Manwaring           c
9. Williams            p         Ramirez             p

Top Performers:
SD:
Reggie Sanders: 4-for-5, 2 2Bs, 2 RUNS
Ruben Rivera: 3-for-5, 2 RUNS, 3 RBI

COL:
Neifi Perez: 2-for-4, 4 RBI
Vinny Castilla: 3-for-5, 4 RBI
Kirt Manwaring: 4-for-5, 3 RUNS

HOME RUNS:
SD: Eric Owens, Phil Nevin, Ruben Rivera, Wally Joyner
COL: Larry Walker, Neifi Perez, Vinny Castilla, Kurt Abbott

That’s eight home runs.  That’s more than enough for this week.

Retrosheet Boxscore
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

Bonds, Kent, Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday (1999)

Doubleheader against Yaz & the Red Sox (1977)

MLB Memory Lane: July 10, 1977

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week: Polish Appreciation Day at County Stadium is a doubleheader against YAZ and the Red Sox.

YAZ!

YAZ!

Date: July 10, 1977
Teams: Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium: Milwaukee County Stadium
Seat Location: First row behind the first base dugout.
With: Family

First, these were the best seats I have ever had for a game.  My cousin Keith and I brought our gloves to the game and were convinced that – at some point of the doubleheader – there would be a screaming line drive hit right at us and one of us would make the catch.

Looking back at 8-year old me, I am glad that did not happen.

The setup for this twinbill was not looking good for the Brewers.  They were 39-43 and in fifth place in the AL East.  Boston was 45-35 and tied with Baltimore for second place in the division, just one game back of the New York Yankees.

Milwaukee had won the night before with Jerry Augustine picking up the win over Fergie Jenkins.

The doubleheader pitching matchups featured Larry Sorenson against Luis Tiant in game one and Mike Caldwell against Rick Wise in game two.

Game one was actually a pretty good game.  Not that it started out that way.

Boston got to Sorenson for three runs in the second inning.  Denny Doyle drove in a run with a sacrifice fly that drove in Bernie Carbo.  Jim Rice made it 3-0 with a two-out, two-run single to score Butch Hobson and Rick Burleson.

The first two Sox to bat in the top of the third – Carlton Fisk and George Scott – singled off Sorenson and Alex Grammas had seen enough.  The Brewers manager went to the bullpen for Sam Hinds…who promptly walked Carbo to load the bases.  But, Hinds got out of the inning with no runs scoring.

Robin Yount started the Brewers comeback in the fourth.  He singled, stole second, went to third on a Cecil Cooper single, and scored on a Sal Bando sacrifice fly.

Sixto Lezcano tripled to start the fifth and scored on a Von Joshua sacrifice fly.

Yount and Bando were on base with two out in the sixth inning when Don Money singled to right.  Yount scored on the hit and an error by Carbo let Bando score all the way from first for a 4-3 Brewers lead.

Hinds walked the first two batters (Fisk & Scott)  in the Red Sox seventh.  So, on came Bob McClure to put out the fire.  The Red Sox went to pinch-hitter Ramon Aviles, who – in his first MLB plate appearance – dropped a sacrifice bunt.

FUN FACT: This was the only plate appearance Aviles had with the Red Sox.  He went on to play parts of the 1979-1981 season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

BACK TO THE GAME:  McClure intentionally walked Butch Hobson to load the bases and Bill Castro relieved to face pinch hitter Rick Miller.

Miller lofted a fly ball to left field.  Was it deep enough to score Fisk?  Did Jamie Quirk have a strong enough arm to get Fisk at the plate?

Yes! Double play! Brewers were up 4-3 heading to the stretch.

In the bottom of the seventh, Joshua was called out on strikes by Durwood Merrill.  Just as Quirk – the next batter – was ready to swing and ground out, Merrill called time and ejected Joshua from the game.  It was kind of intense.  Then, Quirk doubled!  Then, pinch-runner Jim Wohlford got picked off second base to end the inning.

The game remained 4-3…until the ninth.  Castro got the first two outs, but Hobson singled, Miller singled, and Burleson singled to drive in Hobson.  Eduardo Rodriguez had to come on to strike out Fred Lynn for the final out.

The Brewers had runners at second and third with one out in the tenth, but Yount grounded out and – after Cooper was intentionally walked – Bando flew out to center.

Of course the Red Sox would score four times in the top of the 11th.  Burleson tripled in the first run.  Gary Beare relieved Rodriguez and went: intentional walk to Lynn, RBI single to Rice, wild pitch, walk to Yastrzemski, sacrifice fly by Fisk, RBI single to Scott.

Steve Brye would double in Sixto Lezcano in the bottom of the eleventh, but the Red Sox won game one 8-5.

The second game, ugh, I really don’t want to write about this game because Mike Caldwell was not yet MIKE CALDWELL!  Oh, he gave up a lot of hits, but he did not make it out of the second inning.

George “Boomer” Scott hit a homer to start the second.  Two years earlier this would have made me happy, since he played for the Brewers.   Then, it all became a blur:

Hobson doubled to left; Evans reached on a fielder’s choice [Hobson out at third (pitcher to second to third)]; Dillard singled to center [Evans to second]; Miller singled to center [Evans scored, Dillard scored (error by Joshua), Miller to third]; Burleson singled to right [Miller scored]; Burleson stole second; Lynn walked; SORENSEN REPLACED CALDWELL (PITCHING); Rice forced Lynn (third to second); 4 R, 5 H, 1 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 4, Brewers 0

Yep. Alex Grammas went to Larry Sorenson, the Brewers starter in game one, to relieve Caldwell in the second inning.

How do you think the Boston third inning went?

RED SOX 3RD: Scott reached on an error by Yount; Fisk singled [Scott to third, Fisk to second (on throw to 3b)]; Hobson singled to shortstop [Scott scored (unearned), Fisk stayed at second]; Evans singled to left [Fisk scored, Hobson to third (error by Quirk), Evans to second]; CARBO RAN FOR EVANS; Dillard singled to left [Hobson scored, Carbo to third]; MCCLURE REPLACED SORENSEN (PITCHING); Miller made an out to second; Burleson grounded into a double play (second to shortstop to first) [Dillard out at second]; 3 R (2 ER), 4 H, 2 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 7, Brewers 0.

The Brewers did get a run in the fourth as Von Joshua singled and scored on a Jamie Quirk double.

I am trying to remember why the decision was made to leave this game.  If it were up to me we would have stayed for the end of the second game no matter what, but since I was 8 and I would have been told to walk home, I reluctantly started heading to the car.

The decision may have been made easier when it was announced that Ken McMullen was coming into the game for Robin Yount.

Here’s the thing that I remember most about this doubleheader.  We were nearing the car in the parking lot when there was this loud roar from the crowd.  My cousin and I turned around and we saw the balloons above Bernie’s Chalet.  We knew that we had missed a Brewers home run.  I believe this is the first time I understood the word ‘crestfallen’.

Sorry I missed your home run, Don!

Sorry I missed your home run, Don!

It was not until we got to the car that we discovered the home run was hit by Don Money.  We also missed a Don Money RBI grounder – after a Jim Wohlford triple – in the bottom of the seventh.

But, we did not miss a huge comeback by the Brewers as they lost game two 7-3 and got swept by the Red Sox.

GAME ONE LINEUP:

   Boston Red Sox                Milwaukee Brewers        
1. Burleson            ss        Sheldon             dh
2. Lynn                cf        Yount               ss
3. Rice                dh        Cooper              1b
4. Yastrzemski         lf        Bando               3b
5. Fisk                c         Money               2b
6. Scott               1b        Lezcano             rf
7. Carbo               rf        Joshua              cf
8. Hobson              3b        Quirk               lf
9. Doyle               2b        Moore               c
   Tiant               p         Sorensen            p

HALL OF FAMERS:
Jim Rice: 3-for-6, RUN, 3RBI
Carl Yastrzemski: 1-for-5, STOLEN BASE!
Carlton Fisk: 1-for-4, RBI
Robin Yount: 2-for-5, 2 RUNS, stolen base

GAME TWO LINEUPS:

   Boston Red Sox                Milwaukee Brewers        
1. Burleson            ss        Yount               ss
2. Lynn                cf        Money               2b
3. Rice                lf        Cooper              1b
4. Scott               1b        Bando               dh
5. Fisk                c         Joshua              cf
6. Hobson              3b        Quirk               lf
7. Evans               dh        Brye                rf
8. Dillard             2b        Johnson             3b
9. Miller              rf        Haney               c
   Wise                p         Caldwell            p

HALL OF FAMERS:
Jim Rice: 1-for-5
Carlton Fisk: 1-for-4, RUN
Robin Yount: 0-for-2, error

Retrosheet boxscore (Game One)
Retrosheet boxscore (Game Two)

Baseball Reference WPA Chart (Game One)
Baseball Reference WPA Chart (Game Two)

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

Bonds, Kent, Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday (1999)

MLB Memory Lane: August 22, 1999

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, and Ellis Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday.

I don't like either of these guys because of what happened on 8/22/99.

I don’t like either of these guys because of what happened on 8/22/99.

Ellis Burks makes the list, too.  But it's nothing personal.

Ellis Burks makes the list, too. But it’s nothing personal.  Actually it is. It’s very personal.

Date: August 22, 1999
Teams: San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium: Milwaukee County Stadium
Seat Location: Lower Deck, Behind home plate
With: Family

Sunday, August 22, 1999 was a special day.  It was my Dad’s 60th birthday.  We checked the Brewers schedule when it came out and saw that they were hosting the Giants.  It was decided that we were going to go to this game.  I had not yet started with the Timber Rattlers so it was easy to get away for this game.

It didn’t matter that the Brewers were 55-66, going nowhere in the National League Central, and had fired Phil Garner eleven days earlier.  We were going as a family to enjoy a game and celebrate the day.

Cal Eldred was on the mound and despite his 1-6 record, I was hopeful that he would find some of his old form.  He struck out Marvin Bernard to start the game!

Bill Mueller followed with a single.

Then, whether we liked it or not, we got to witness something rare.

Barry Bonds hit a home run.

Jeff Kent followed with a home run.

Ellis Burks followed with another home run.

Three swings. Three homers. Giants up 4-0.

I hate all three of those guys.  It is completely justified.

Joe Nathan, a rookie in 1999, was the starting pitcher for the Giants that day.  There was – as the saying goes – plenty of time to make the comeback.  Plus, the Brewers still had Jeromy Burnitz and Geoff Jenkins in the lineup.  Plenty of time.

But, Nathan allowed one run despite allowing seven hits and three walks in five innings (and facing three batters in the sixth).  It was turning into a frustrating day at the ballpark.

Plus, starting catcher David Nilsson left the game after the bottom of the second inning due to an injury.  Bobby Hughes took over for him.  Bobby Hughes is most famous for being the only person in recorded history to fall for The Three-Man Lift twice.

Still the Brewers were in the game.  They managed a run in the fourth inning when Kevin Barker singled with two outs to drive in Burnitz.

Next came a play that would have new school thinkers tearing out their hair.  The Brewers were down 4-1 with runners at first and third with two outs.  Jim Lefebvre, who took over for Garner as Milwaukee’s manager on August 13, did not send up a pinch hitter for Eldred.  Cal Eldred was due to bat and – BY GOD! – Cal Eldred was going to bat!

He struck out.

Eldred would give up a two-out RBI single to JT Snow in the top of the fifth and the Giants were up 5-1.

We – me, my family, and the other 22,189 in attendance – did enjoy some gallows humor in the bottom of the sixth and the Brewers mounted a rally.

Geoff Jenkins singled.  Marquis Grissom walked.  Jeff Cirillo singled.  The Brewers had the bases loaded with no outs and were down by four.

The Giants took Joe Nathan out and replaced him with Alan Embree.

Kevin Barker popped out.  Alex Ochoa came in to pinch hit for Eldred.  He grounded into an inning ending double play.  I am a little foggy on the details, but I seem to remember that Ochoa swung at the first pitch of his at bat to ground into the 5-3 double play.

We laughed at the absurdity of it.

David Weathers took over in the seventh and gave up a single to Bonds, who stole second base – remember when he stole bases, and Kent drove him in with another single.

The Giants added another run in the eighth against Weathers on an RBI single by Bernard for a 7-1 lead.  San Francisco had the bases loaded and no outs at the time, but Weathers, Mike Myers, and Rocky Coppinger managed to retire Mueller, Bonds, and Kent with no more runs scoring.  The crowd actually got excited about that.

To conclude the afternoon’s entertainment, the Brewers staged another rally in the bottom of the ninth.  Ronnie Belliard doubled with one out and scored on a single by Looooooooooou Collier against Felix Rodriguez.  Burnitz walked with two outs.  Jenkins singled in Collier to bring Grissom to the plate with two on and two out with the Brewers down 7-3.

Rodriguez struck out Grissom to end the game.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

August 22, 1999 Lineups:
San Francisco Giants
Marvin Benard, cf
Bill Mueller, 3b
Barry Bonds, lf
Jeff Kent, 2b
Ellis Burks, rf
JT Snow, 1b
Rich Aurilia, ss
Brent Mayne, c
Joe Nathan, p

Milwaukee Brewers
Ronnie Belliard, 2b
Mark Loretta, ss
David Nilsson, c
Jeromy Burnitz, rf
Geoff Jenkins, lf
Marquis Grissom, cf
Jeff Cirillo, 3b
Kevin Barker, 1b
Cal Eldred, p

Jeromy Burnitz: 1-for-1, RUN
Geoff Jenkins: 3-for-5, RBI
Barry Bonds: 1-for-4, HR, 2RBI, stolen base

Retrosheet boxscore
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

MLB Memory Lane: July 7, 1978

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning!

Larry Hisle’s 1978 baseball card.

He may have been TSN’s Player of the Year, but Larry Hisle and the Brewers got to him at County Stadium on July 7, 1978.

Date: July 7, 1978
Teams: New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium: Milwaukee County Stadium
Seat Location: Upper Deck, Third base side
With: Friends

The 1978 Milwaukee Brewers baseball season was different in a two ways.

1.) That was the first season of this sweet logo:

You know they’ve done studies, and it truly is the greatest logo in the world.

2.) The Brewers were really, really good.

It all started with a five game winning streak to start the season.  This streak included three straight wins over the Baltimore Orioles by scores of 11-3, 16-3, and 13-5.

Offensively, the Brewers added Paul Molitor, a rookie who made his MLB debut on Opening Day of 1978, and Larry Hisle, a free agent from the Minnesota Twins.

Hisle had 119 RBI and 28 RBI, was an All-Star, and finished 12th in the MVP voting in his final season with the Twins.  He signed with the Brewers.  On Opening Day of 1978, he stepped in as Milwaukee’s left fielder and clean up batter and delivered a 2-for-3 day with three runs, a homer, and two RBI.

By the time July 7 had rolled around, Hisle was hitting .288 with 15 homers.

The Brewers were 45-35 on the season, but were in third place – 10-1/2 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees were in second at 46-35.

It was going to be difficult for the Brewers to pass the Yankees on this warm summer night.  Yes, the Brewers had the best offense Milwaukee had seen on a baseball diamond since the Braves of the late 50′s.  But, Ron Guidry was the scheduled starting pitcher for the Yankees this night.

Louisiana Lightning had made 17 starts prior to this game at County Stadium.  He was 13-0.  Guidry had allowed four runs in a start one time.  In his other 16 starts he had allowed three or fewer runs.  And Guidry was not a Five and Dive pitcher.  He had six complete games and only once had he not made it to at least the seventh inning.

But, there was something different on this night.  Maybe it was the crowd of over 40,000 on this Friday night.

Mike Caldwell, no slouch on the mound, worked out of a jam in the top of the first.  Then, the Brewers offense went to work.

Here is how retrosheet.org records the first four Milwaukee batters in the bottom of the first:

BREWERS 1ST: Molitor struck out; Money doubled to left; Bando walked; Hisle homered [Money scored, Bando scored]

Think on that. It took just four batters for the Brewers to do something to Guidry that took almost entire games to do.

As a side note, yes, Don Money did bat second…a lot.

When I sat in the upper deck at County Stadium, I could almost never judge how far a ball would fly. Those high fly balls or line drives to the gap always looked like they were going to be a home run. Most would die well short of the warning track.

The ball that Larry Hisle hit in the first inning was not a problem. There is a sound of the ball hitting the bat just right. You know it when you hear it. That lazer of a home run by Hisle had that sound…and the crowd went wild.

The fans had a low buzz after that, but reached another crescendo when Caldwell struck out Reggie Jackson to end the top of the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, two of the most popular Brewers combined for a run. Sixto Lezcano doubled to start the inning. Robin Yount drove him home with a triple and it was 4-0 Brewers.

Hisle started the sixth inning with his second home run of the game. He had allowed four home runs ALL SEASON before this game. Guidry finished the inning, but he would be done for the game.

That homer made it 5-0 and Caldwell went into cruise control. He struck out Jackson again in a 1-2-3 seventh inning and got a double play to help him face the minimum in the eighth.

The final Brewers run of the game scored on a two-out solo home run in the eighth inning by Sixto Lezcano off Bob Kammeyer.

Caldwell closed out his 4-hit shutout with a perfect ninth inning and the Brewers moved into second place in the American League East.  Plus, they picked up a game on the Red Sox and were just 9-1/2 games back.

All was right and the future was looking very promising for baseball in Milwaukee.

NOTES:
A few years ago, Larry Hisle was a guest of the Timber Rattlers on a Brewers Sunday. After I introduced myself to him, I told him that I was at this game. He remembered everything about that game and he didn’t have to look it up on retrosheet.org or baseball-reference.com to jog his memory. For him, it was as if it had happened a few days ago.

If you never heard County Stadium PA Announcer Bob Betts announce Leczano’s name as Sixto walked to the plate for an at bat, it is something that can’t be recreated.  There was something so perfect about it.  The way both names were drawn out is – as the saying goes – often imitated, but never duplicated.  It really is a case of You had to be there.

Caldwell’s win was his eleventh complete game of the season.  He was on the way to a 22-9 record with 23 complete games.  He finished second in the AL Cy Young race.  Guidry, who finished 25-3, won the 1978 AL Cy Young and received all 28 first place votes.

This win started a streak of 12 wins in the next 14 games for the Brewers.  After a 17-8 win at Texas on July 23 – in which Hisle hit his 23rd home run of the season, Milwaukee was 57-37 and trailed the Red Sox by five games.

Guidry would get some revenge on Milwaukee later in the season.  On August 10 at Yankee Stadium, he shutout the Brewers on three hits and a walk with nine strikeouts in a 9-0 Yankees win.

That loss on August tenth dropped the Brewers to 61-49.  They were in third place and nine games behind Boston.  The Yankees were 64-49 and in second place.

Milwaukee recovered but wouldn’t catch Boston or New York.  They ended the season at a very successful 93-69, but that was six games behind the Red Sox and Yankees who tied for the AL East Pennant and needed a one game playoff to decide the winner.  A Brewers postseason spot was still a few years away.

July 7, 1978 Lineups:
New York Yankees
Mickey Rivers, cf
Roy White, lf
Thurman Munson, c
Lou Piniella, rf
Chris Chambliss, 1b
Reggie Jackson, dh
Graig Nettles, 3b
Bucky Dent, ss
Fred Stanley, 2b
Ron Guidry, p

Milwaukee Brewers
Paul Molitor, 2b
Don Money, 1b
Sal Bando, 3b
Larry Hisle, lf
Sixto Lezcano, rf
Dick Davis, dh
Jim Wohlford, cf
Robin Yount, ss
Charlie Moore, c
Mike Caldwell, p

Paul Molitor: 1-for-4
Robin Yount: 1-for-3, RBI, 3B
Reggie Jackson: 0-for-3, 2K

Retrosheet.org boxscore and play-by-play
Baseball-Reference WPA Chart
Google News Archive of Milwaukee Journal Article

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

MLB Memory Lane: August 23, 1987

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, Nolan Ryan at Wrigley Field!

Date: August 23, 1987
Teams: Houston Astros & Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Wrigley Field
Seat Location: Home plate, Upper Deck
With: High School Friends

I may as well let the cat out of the bag. The Brewers were my American League team when I was young.  But, I grew up a Cubs fan.  It’s not my fault.  I loved baseball.  I lived close enough to Chicago to be able to pick up WGN on the TV Antenna.  The Cubs were on all summer.  It just kind of happened.  I did not fully shake the fandom until the results of the 2003 NLCS.  But, it is still a part of what makes me love baseball.  It also prepares me for sporting disaster at any moment so that I am no longer shocked when it happens.  But, that is another topic for another day.

Late August of 1987.  I about two weeks away from going off to campus at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.  Some high school friends (For the record it was Bob Rowe & Ron Gorsche) called me up that Sunday around 10:30 and asked if I wanted to go to the Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

You bet!

We didn’t have tickets in advance.  But, these were the 1987 Cubs.  Andre Dawson was having an MVP season, but they were languishing in fifth place at 62-61 and 10-1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League East.  We just walked up and got some cheap tickets.  I am positive I have the ticket stub in a shoebox somewhere in the trailer.

I had failed to check the paper before leaving for Chicago, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw that the pitching matchup was Nolan Ryan for the Astros against Rick Sutcliffe for the Cubs.

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley Field. (Credit: World of Wallpapers)

Houston was only 1/2 game behind the first place San Francisco Giants in the NL West and looking for a series win from the Cubs.  In game one of the series, Chicago had snapped the Astros’ 7-game winning streak.  But, Houston had won game two in eleven innings.

We were a little disappointed when Manny Trillo broke up Ryan’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the second inning.  But, Sutcliffe set down the Astros in order in the first three innings.

Then, Sutcliffe tripled with one out in the bottom of the third inning. Ryan struck out Dave Martinez and Ryne Sandberg to end the threat.

Of course Gerald Young would single to leadoff the top of the fourth and there would be no no-no at Wrigley Field that day.

Later in the inning, Kevin Bass was walked intentionally to load the bases with two outs and bring Ken Caminiti to the plate.  Camaniti was a rookie in 1987.  Sutcliffe walked him to force in a run.

In the sixth, Bill Doran was at second with two outs and the Cubs intentionally walked Bass again.  Caminiti delivered a single.  Doran scored. Astros up 2-0.

Ryan had been cruising.  He gave up two hits and struck out seven through the first five innings.  The Express retired Sutcliffe to start the sixth inning.  But, he walked Martinez and was replaced by Rocky Childress.  Childress got the second out.  All he had to do to get out of the inning was retire Leon Durham.

Then, Leon Durham hit one of the longest home runs I have ever seen in person.

A building across the street from the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field had a sign on top of it.  It was for Torco and said “Hit it here, Cubbies!”  It looked like Durham was going to take the advice of Torco High Performance Racing Oils and Advanced Lubricants.

Leon Durham on the cover of SI.

The photo below is not that Torco sign, but it does show a Torco sign.  It is from this post at Cubby Blue, a blog by Tim Sauers.  As always, click to enlarge the photo.

Look past the bleachers in right field for the Torco sign.

Heading into the top of the seventh, we were getting ready to sing along with Harry Cary for the Seventh Inning Stretch.  Especially with two outs and nobody on base.  Then, Terry Puhl hit a pinch-hit double and Young walked.  Billy Hatcher followed with a triple that scored two runs for a 4-2 Astros lead.

That would be it for the game.  Jeff Heathcock pitched a perfect seventh and a perfect eighth for the Astros.  Dave Smith closed out the game with a scoreless ninth and the Astros won the game.

After the game, we made a stop at Sears Tower and headed up to the observation deck to take in the sights.  Then, we headed home – with The Loop, 98 FM blasting on the radio.

NOTES:
Three future hall of famers participated in this game: Andre Dawson, Nolan Ryan, and Ryne Sandberg.

There is a very remote chance for a fourth player from this game to make it to Cooperstown.  Rafael Palmeiro pinch hit for Sutcliffe in the bottom of the eighth.

If the bullpen had held on to win this game, Nolan Ryan’s 300th career victory would have been at home against Detroit on July 20, 1990 instead of against the Brewers in Milwaukee on July 31, 1990.

About that Sports Illustrated cover from 1984.  The best photo that SI could find to represent the Cubs at that point in the season was Leon Durham tossing away his bat after taking ball four for a walk?  Really?

Hal Lanier was the manager of the Astros in 1987.  I would cross paths with him a few years later.  I was an announcer for the Duluth-Superior Dukes from 1996 through 1998.  Lanier was the manager of the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League at the same time.  He was an intense dude.

8/23/87 LINEUPS:
HOUSTON:
Gerald Young, cf
Billy Hatcher, lf
Bill Doran, 2b
Glenn Davis, 1b
Kevin Bass, rf
Ken Caminiti, 3b
Craig Reynolds, ss
Robbie Wine, c
Nolan Ryan, p

CHICAGO:
Dave Martinez, cf
Ryne Sandberg, 2b
Leon Durham, 1b
Andre Dawson, rf
Jerry Mumphrey, lf
Manny Trillo, 3b
Shawon Dunston, ss
Jim Sundberg, c
Rick Sutcliffe, p

Ryne Sandberg: 0-for-4, 2Ks
Andre Dawson: 1-for-4

LINKS:
Retrosheet.org boxscore & play-by-play
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

MLB Memory Lane: September 7, 1980

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, I went to a baseball game and a football game was all we talked about on the way home.

Date: September 7, 1980
Opponent: Texas Rangers
Stadium: Milwaukee County Stadium
Seat Location: First Base Lower Deck
With: Family

This was the highlight of the Brewers game I attended on September 7, 1980.

Before the game, the choice was easy.  Go see the Brewers play an early September game against the Texas Rangers or stay home and watch the Green Bay Packers open the 1980 season against the Chicago Bears.

The Brewers (73-65) well above .500, but they were in fifth place in the American League East.  Heck, everyone in the East – except the Toronto Blue Jays -was  above .500.  But, the New York Yankees 84-51 and the only team close to them were the Baltimore Orioles.

But, it didn’t matter that the Brewers were 12-1/2 games behind the Yankees.  This was the last chance to catch a game in 1980.  It was our last chance to see George Bamberger as the manager of the Brewers.  Bambi had announced his retirement and was managing his last game for Milwaukee on this day.

Besides, what could possibly happen in that Packers-Bears game?  Green Bay finished 5-11 in 1979.  They were playing a Bears team that made the playoffs in 1979.  Plus, the Bears had Walter Payton.  He shredded the Packers every time.

Heading to County Stadium for a game that featured a starting pitching matchup of Bob McClure against Doc Medich was easy.

Also making it easy was the fact that we had tickets through the Brewers/Pepsi Fan Club.  We were going to the Brewers game.

But, I really don’t remember much from the baseball game.

Looking back at the boxscore, I see that Paul Molitor went 4-for-5.

Digging a little farther, I see that Cecil Cooper‘s 2-for-5 bumped his batting average to .361.  During a normal year, that should lead the American League by about 30 to 40 points.  But, George Brett was hitting an insane .396 at the time.

The play-by-play shows that the Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Cooper to score Eddie Romero.

But, the Rangers rallied for two runs after there were two outs and none on base in the top of the second.  The two-run single with the bases loaded was by Mike Richardt, who happened to be playing in his eighth major league game.

That a rookie like Richardt would get the key hit in a lineup of that had Mickey Rivers, Al Oliver, Richie Zisk, and Jim Sundberg should have told me what day it was going to be.

The Rangers added on three more runs in the top of the third.  Four of the first five Rangers to bat had base hits.  The last three hits (by Zisk, John Ellis, and Sundberg) drove in runs to knock McClure out of the game.  On came Fred Holdsworth in relief to end the inning.

The Rangers added a run in the fifth off Holdsworth and another in the sixth off John Linn.

The Brewers had 13 hits over 8-2/3 innings against Doc Medich.  But, they would score only two runs.  One in the first inning.  The other when Cecil Cooper tripled to start the sixth inning and Gorman Thomas drove him in to make the score 7-2.  And that was the last run of the game.

I’m not sure when in the game the following event happened.  But, it must have been around this point in the game….Maybe the seventh inning.

The Packers game started at noon.  The Brewers game started at 1:00pm.  So right around 3pm or so, Chester Marcol would have been lining up a kick in overtime to beat the Bears.

Keep in mind, the 1980 season was the first season for this thing:

State of the Art technology for 1980!

I can’t remember if there was an announcement between innings that asked fans to turn their attention to the scoreboard or not.  All I remember is seeing a replay of the winning play in the Packers game.

There was a groan from the fans in attendance as Marcol’s kick was blocked – by Alan Page if I remember right.  Then, there was a slow-rising cheer as the fans watch the ball come right back to Marcol and the Packers kicker take off for the endzone:

This happened. This was a real thing.

The cheer rose to a crescendo as Marcol crossed the goal line just inside the pylon, raised the ball awkwardly over his head with both hands, and tried to keep from running into the wall.

That play, shown on the grainy video board at County Stadium, took the sting out of Romero’s second error of the game and the fact that Robin Yount didn’t play in this game.

We may have gone to a Brewers game, but the talk on the ride home was all about the Polish kicker who scored a touchdown.

Brewers Batting Order for 9/7/80:
Paul Molitor, 2b
Eddie Romero, ss
Cecil Cooper, 1b
Gorman Thomas, cf
Ben Oglivie, lf
Don Money, dh
John Poff, rf
Jim Gantner, 3b
Buck Martinez, c

Paul Molitor was 4-for-5
Robin Yount did not play.

And Wisconsin went wild!

LINKS:
Retrosheet Boxscore and Play-by-play for this game

Baseball Reference.com WPA Chart for this game

Milwaukee Journal Archive Brewers Article for 9/7/80 Game

Milwaukee Journal Archive Packers Article for 9/7/80 Game

BONUSES:
Reporter shut off by Starr: Packers coach Bart Starr announced he would no longer take questions from Milwaukee Journal reporter Dave Begel “at any time, under any circumstances”. He would answer questions from other Milwaukee Journal reporters, just not Begel.

Horton wins Battle: This would be the headline from the results of a wrestling card at the Milwaukee Auditorium on September 6. Horton is a typo/misprint/didn’t care enough to check by the Journal. This is obviously Bob Orton, Jr. who won the $20,000 Battle Royale. Also on the card: Randy Savage pinned King Kong Patterson and Orton and Ronnie Garvin wrestled to a no-contest. Click the link for other results.

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

MLB Memory Lane: April 17, 1987

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, Team Streak and Teddy Higuera!

Date: April 17, 1987
Opponent: Texas Rangers
Stadium: Milwaukee County Stadium
Seat Location: Third Base Upper Deck
With: High School Friends

1987 Teddy Higuera is awesome!

If you were a Brewers fan at the time of this game, you know what the start of this homestand was like.

They were less than 48 hours removed from Juan Nieves tossing the first no-hitter in franchise history.

They were 9-0!

Traffic to get into Milwaukee County Stadium was backed up for miles…on Good Friday!

It seemed everyone wanted to see this team make it to 10-0.  Teddy Higuera would make it so.

Teddy Higuera is one of those triumph and tragedy guys in Milwaukee Brewers history.

He started his career with four straight seasons of 15 or more wins.  He was second in the 1985 Rookie of the Year voting (Behind Ozzie Guillen).  Dude pitched three scoreless innings (4th, 5th, & 6th) in the 1986 All-Star game and struck out both Tony Gwynn AND Ryne Sandberg. He won 20 games and was second in the 1986 AL Cy Young Award voting (behind Roger Clemens).   

Then, around 1990 to 1991 he got hurt.  He missed all of 1992 after rotator cuff surgery.  Damn. It’s not right that he would get hurt.

But, the injuries were off in the distance on an special April evening against the Texas Rangers in 1987 at County Stadium in front of over 41,000.

So Larry Parrish hit a leadoff homer in the second inning and the Brewers fell behind 1-0.  Big deal.  Teddy would hold the Rangers right where they were and the Brewers would come back.

It took until the sixth inning, but Milwaukee broke through against Mike Mason.

Paul Molitor (who else?) started the rally with a walk and a stolen base.  Robin Yount doubled Molitor home and the Brewers were tied.  Later in the inning, Cecil Cooper drove in Yount with a grounder and Dale Sveum sent Rob Deer home with a double for a 3-1 lead.

Don Slaught hit a leadoff homer in the top of the seventh and the lead was 3-2.

Then, Pete O’Brien reached on an error.  He was on second with one out and the dangerous Ruben Sierra at the plate.  O’Brien took off for third on a two-strike count against Sierra.  Higuera got the strikeout and Bill Schroeder threw out O’Brien at third for the double play.

Did I mention that Sierra was a pinch-hitter for Oddibe McDowell?  Did I mention that Bobby Valentine was the manager of the Rangers in this game?

The game didn’t stay close for long.  The Brewers scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning off three Rangers pitchers (Mitch Williams, Dale Mohorcic, Scott Anderson).  Just look at it:

BREWERS 7TH: BROWER CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING CF); SIERRA STAYED IN GAME (PLAYING RF); Schroeder singled to left; On a bunt Gantner forced Schroeder (pitcher to shortstop) [Gantner to first]; MOHORCIC REPLACED WILLIAMS (PITCHING); Molitor doubled to left [Gantner scored]; Yount singled to center [Molitor scored]; Yount stole second [Yount to third (error by Slaught)]; Braggs walked; ANDERSON REPLACED MOHORCIC (PITCHING); Deer singled to left [Yount scored, Braggs to third]; Cooper doubled to right [Braggs scored, Deer to third]; Sveum was walked intentionally; Brock was hit by a pitch [Deer scored, Cooper to third, Sveum to second]; Schroeder struck out; Gantner singled to center [Cooper scored, Sveum scored, Brock to third]; CASTILLO BATTED FOR MOLITOR; Castillo was called out on strikes; 7 R, 6 H, 1 E, 2 LOB. Rangers 2, Brewers 10.

The Castillo pinch hitting for Molitor would be Juan Castillo.  I wonder how many times someone pinch hit for Paul Molitor.

From there it was smooth sailing to 10-0.

Higuera struck out O’Brien looking – the 12th K of the game for Higuera – for the final out and the crowd went crazy.  They continued to cheer after the team left the field and kept cheering  until Higuera came out for a post-game curtain call.

He did and it was awesome.

Brewer of the Game:
Teddy Higuera!  Complete Game five-hitter with two walks and 12 strikeouts.  It was so much fun to watch him pitch… Especially against a team that struck out as much as the 1987 Texas Rangers.

The Brewers Batting Order for that game:
Paul Molitor, 3b
Robin Yount, cf
Glen Braggs, rf
Rob Deer, lf
Cecil Cooper, dh
Dale Sveum, ss
Greg Brock, 1b
Bill Schroeder, c
Jim Gantner, 2b

Molitor was 1-for-3 with a double, two runs and an RBI
Yount was 2-for-5, with a double, two runs, and two RBI

Retrosheet Boxscore & Play-by-play

Baseball Reference WPA Graph

Teddy Higuera Baseball Reference

Teddy Higuera Baseball Reference Bullpen

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

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