Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – January 31, 2016

1972_World_Series_Program_HRaIt is Sunday and time for the Sunday Request.

1972 is the topic of the book I am writing. With all the topics to hit, it practically writes itself.

It  episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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TOM HALL – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 11



OCTOBER 11, 1972 – National League Championship Series Game 5

The term “No Decision” can be quite misleading when it comes to a pitcher. It implies that they did not have that great of an impact on the outcome of a game.

It is even more dismissive for a middle reliever. If a pitcher was not the starting pitcher, did not get a win, a loss or a save, then how could they have been a major factor?

In truth many games are won or lost BECAUSE of how pitchers who get lost in the shuffle and ignored in the decision performed. A prime example for that is Reds reliever Tom Hall.

In 1972, the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates squared off in the NLCS. They had met in 1970 with Sparky Anderson’s Reds taking it. Now they faced in a rematch after the Reds failed to win the West in 1971 (and the Pirates went on to win the World Series.)

The Pirates took a 2 game to 1 lead in the Series, but the Reds tied it up and set up a winner take all Game 5 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

Don Gullett started for the Reds. 1971 World Series hero Steve Blass took the hill for Pittsburgh.

Manny Sanguillen, Richie Hebner and Dave Cash jumped on Gullett in the second inning and put the Pirates up 2-0.  The same three hitters, Sanguillen, Hebner and Cash, got hits in the fourth, chasing Gullett and pushed a third run across.

Cincinnati started chipping away and by the time Cesar Geronimo homered in the fifth, it was a 3-2 game with the Reds still ahead.

Sparky Anderson gave the ball to Tom Hall to start the 6th and keep the game a one run affair.

The 24 year old from Riverside California was already a four year Major League veteran when the Reds acquired him from Minnesota before the 1972 season for Wayne Granger.

The left hander known as “The Blade” because of his slender build had pitched in the 1969 and 1970 playoffs for Minnesota where he was a spot starter and middle reliever.

For the Reds, he filled whatever role was needed. Hall compiled a 10-1 record and a 2.61 ERA. He saved 8 games and threw a complete game shutout, striking out 137 in 129 2/3 innings. He simply got done whatever Sparky needed.

Unlike the previous two pitchers in the game, Hall retired the combination of Sanguillen, Hebner and Cash.

He let up a single to Rennie Stennett in the 8th but after an intentional walk to Roberto Clemente, caught Willie Stargell looking and retired Sanguillen for a second time for good measure.

Hall pitched three critical innings, save for a hit and intentional walk, kept the mighty Pirates off the base path and struck out 4 for good measure. The Reds did not score but the difference was still a single run.

In the bottom of the 8th, Hall was lifted for a pinch hitter in an attempt to tie the game. The rally fell short and Hall would be saddled with a no decision. But with the game close, all the Reds needed was one Pirates mistake to knot it up.

In the bottom of the 9th and the Pirates three outs from a second straight pennant, Johnny Bench capitalized on a Dave Giusti mistake. His lead off homer tied the game. The Reds would rally and win the pennant when George Foster scored on a Bob Moose wild pitch.

The Reds went to the World Series and reliever Clay Carroll was credited with the win for Game 5 after pitching a 1-2-3 9th inning. But the wild Pennant Clinching 9th was set up by 3 terrific innings from The Blade.

And that makes him The Sully Baseball Unsung Hero for October 11.


Stange Endings… Post Season Series that didn’t end normally

I am in the middle of a one of my big Sully Baseball blog post series. I want to honor each pitcher who has ever clinched a post season series.

I’ve already done it for the Red Sox and the Phillies.
But as I started up writing each team’s entry, I realized that I should write a separate post about each player to end a post season series with a walk off hit.

Then another bizarre revelation hit me. I needed to create a whole new category.

Some series didn’t end with an out to clinch.
Some series didn’t end with a walk off hit or sacrifice fly.
Some had stranger endings. There are a few wild pitches, a bases loaded walk, a caught stealing and even one series ending with a base hit by the LOSING team.

So let’s list them here. The strange and difficult to categorize finishes to post season series.

1926 World Series
Game 7

Cardinals 3, Yankees 2

Babe Ruth is caught stealing to end the World Series.

One of the most memorable games in World Series history ended in a truly bizarre and anticlimactic manner. The Yankees and Cardinals went back and forth in a do or die Game 7 that featured Grover Cleveland Alexander coming out of the bullpen on no days rest to strike out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the 7th.

In the bottom of the 9th with St. Louis clinging to a 1 run lead and 2 outs, Babe Ruth walked and represented the tying run. Hard hitting Long Bob Meusel was at the plate, the man who led the league in home runs and RBI just the year before. It was a classic confrontation against the future Hall of Famer Alexander. Except it never happened.

Ruth, never known as a speed demon, took off to steal second and put himself in scoring position. Cardinals catcher Bob O’Farrell threw to second baseman and manager Rogers Hornsby and Ruth was nailed. The World Series was over with the greatest Yankee looking like a dope on the ground.

1927 World Series
Game 4

Yankees 4, Pirates 3

The juggernaut Yankees clinch the World Series on a wild pitch

The 1927 Yankees were considered for generations to be one of if not THE greatest team of all time. They won 110 out of 154 games, had Babe Ruth slug 60 homers and Lou Gehrig chipped in with 47 of his own with a .373 average. They were Murderers Row and had a solid pitching staff to boot. They finished 19 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics for the pennant and went on to sweep the Pirates in the World Series.

But to be fair, the Pirates didn’t just lay down to the Yankees. Game 1 and 4 were one run games and it was a Pittsburgh mistake, not Yankee power, that clinched it.

With the score tied in the bottom of the 9th of Game 4, Pirates pitcher Johnny Miljus walked Earle Combs to lead it off. After a single and a wild pitch, he walked Babe Ruth intentionally. He then struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel and looked like he was going to get out of the jam. But facing Tony Lazzeri, he threw his second wild pitch of the inning, scoring Combs and winning the World Series.

Murderers Row had won the World Series on a rally where the ball never left the infield.

1972 National League Championship Series
Game 5
Reds 4, Pirates 3

Bob Moose’s wild pitch ends the Pirates dream to repeat

The 1972 Pirates were the Defending World Champions and looked ready for a return date in the World Series where they would face the winner of the A’s and Tigers ALCS. They had a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th and Dave Giusti, the NL leader of saves in 1971 and had posted 22 in 1972, was on the mound.

But Johnny Bench hit a lead off homer to tie the game and Tony Perez and Denis Menke both singled, suddenly putting Cincinnati in the position to win the pennant. Bob Moose came in and got Cesar Geronimo and Darrel Chaney out. Meanwhile pinch runner George Foster moved to third when Hal McRae came to the plate as a pinch hitter.

Moose let a pitch get away scoring Foster and sending the Reds to the World Series. The Pirates, the only team to lose a post season series on a wild pitch, pulled off the feat twice.

1999 National League Championship Series
Game 6
Braves 10, Mets 9

One of the greatest post season series ever played ends with a whimper and a bases loaded walk

The 1999 NLCS was one of the wildest, most unpredictable and heart stopping playoff series I have ever seen. The Mets lost the first three to the Braves in agonizingly close games including a 1-0 bang your head against the wall Game 3. The Mets won a 15 marathon Game 5 where they were 3 outs from elimination and Robin Ventura hit his “Grand Slam Single.” Then the Mets came back from a 5-0 first inning hole to send Game 6 into extras. They had a chance to be the first team to be down 3-0 to force a Game 7.

In the bottom of the 11th, Mets pitcher Kenny Rogers let up a lead off double to Gerald Williams and a sacrifice by Bret Boone put the Braves pennant on third with one out. Mets manager Bobby Valentine ordered a pair of intentional walks hoping to set up a force at home. But Rogers never found his control and walked Andruw Jones to bring in the pennant winning run.

The idea of walking in the winning run will always boggle my mind. How can a pitcher not just throw it down the heart of the plate? The worst case scenario is a walk off grand slam. But make the HITTER connect with it. Instead a series filled with come from behind rallies and starting pitchers coming out of the bullpen ended with a thud.

2003 National League Division Series
Game 4
Marlins 7, Mets 6

Pudge holds onto the ball and the Marlins eliminate the Giants

The Giants responded to their heart breaking 2002 World Series loss with a powerhouse 2003 season where they ran away with the NL West and looked like the team to beat. The Wild Card Marlins, who eliminated the Giants in 1997, didn’t look to pose much of a threat. But Florida came back to win Game 2 and won Game 3 in extra innings when they were one strike from losing.

In Game 4, Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins jumped ahead to a 5-1 lead but the Giants tied the game and it remained so until the 8th. In the bottom of the 8th the Marlins took the lead, in part when Pudge Rodriguez crashed into Yorvit Torreabla at home plate, jarring the ball loose. In the 9th inning the Giants rallied and put the tying run at second base in the form of J. T. Snow. Manager Felipe Alou had run out of pinch runners, but that wouldn’t be a factor, right?

Jeffrey Hammonds hit a single to left and Snow rounded third to try and tie the game. Jeff Conine threw home to Rodriguez who made the tag and held onto the ball after the collision. That was the clear difference between Torreabla and Rodriguez.

It was not only the first time a post season series ended with the tying run being thrown out at the plate but it is the only time a series ended with the losing team getting a hit.

I was in my bedroom listening to the game on the radio, putting on my tuxedo getting ready for my wedding. When the series was over, I looked at my mom who was helping me with my cuff links. We raised our eye brows, shrugged and I put my shoes on.

So there you have 5 series whose endings defy regular categories.
None were walk off hits.
None were the pitcher recording the final out.

All were agonizing for the losing team and no doubt made the winning team think “Oh boy, we got away with one.”

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