Will McEnaney 1980 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 5, 2017


Well, I covered the three people who made the final outs of the 1975 World Series. Might as well honor the pitcher who got the three outs to clinch possibly the greatest World Series of all time.

He only played 6 seasons in the major leagues but man he shoved in some serious glory along the way.

McEnaney was from Springfield, Ohio, which is somewhere between Columbus and Cincinnati. He was drafted out of high school by the Reds in 1970, a good time to be drafted by the Reds.

At age 18, he flopped badly as a starting pitcher in Single A Sioux Falls. But the next year he got another chance and pitched well as a starter in Tampa. By 1972, he was a prospect as the left hander threw to a 2.80 ERA in 138 innings at Double A. He spent all of 1973 as a starting pitcher for Triple A Indianapolis but never did crack the big league roster.

In 1974, at age 22, he got his first taste in the majors. He had been converted to the bullpen and found his way into manager Sparky Anderson’s rotation of relievers.

In 1975, McEnaney made the club out of spring training. The team did not have a dominant ace starter. But with Rawly Eastwick, Pedro Borbon and Clay Carroll, they had an enormously deep bullpen. Fred Norman would sometimes relieve but with the emergence of McEnaney, he was inserted into the rotation for most of the year.

This was before managers had to constantly insert the same closer day in and day out. The save total among Reds relievers was spread out. Eastwick led the club with 22 but McEnaney picked up 15, Borbon got 5 and Carroll got 7.

On May 10th, McEnaney threw 3 2/3 innings for a save against the Mets. He had 2 other 3 inning saves and a 3 1/3 inning hold. The formula worked as the Reds won 108 games, more than any other National League team in the 1970’s.

In the NLCS against the Pirates, Anderson called in McEnaney to pitch with a 1 run lead in the 8th. He got out Rennie Stennett, Richie Hebner and Al Oliver. No easy task.

In the 9th, with the Reds 3 outs from the World Series, McEnaney let up a single to Willie Stargell before striking out Dave Parker. Rawley Eastwick came in to close out the pennant but allowed the tying run to score.

The Reds would take the lead and Pedro Borbon would get the save. I’m telling you, they used relievers differently then.

Truth be told, he had a rough post season. That run in the NLCS was charged to him. He also let up runs in his 2 innings of work in Game 1 of the World Series and his 1 2/3 innings in Game 3.

In Game 6, he came in with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th with the game tied at 6 after the Bernie Carbo homer. Fred Lynn hit a fly ball to left field that looked like it was deep enough to score Denny Doyle. But George Foster threw him out at home and McEnaney got Rico Petrocelli to make the final out of the inning.

It would be his only inning in that classic game.

In Game 7, Sparky Anderson had Rawley Eastwick and Pedro Borbon available to close out the greatest World Series of all time.

Instead he handed the ball to McEnaney. And if you have been reading these entries, you know that he got out Juan Beniquez, Bob Montgomery and Carl Yastrzemski to clinch it. He jumped on Johnny Bench and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The Reds fought through some slumps and injuries in 1976 but still won 102 games and ran away with the West.

McEnaney slumped badly, posting a 4.85 ERA and getting only 7 saves. Eastwick took the bulk of the work. McEnaney did not even appear in the NLCS sweep of Philadelphia.

The Reds took the first two games of the World Series from the Yankees without McEnaney throwing a pitch.

In Game 3, with the Yankees clinging to hope that they could get back into the World Series, Pat Zachry started. He saw the Yankees pull closer and with the score 4-2 Reds in the 7th, they had the tying runs on base and the go ahead run at the plate. The batter was ALCS hero Chris Chambliss. He got Chambliss to ground out.

After the Reds extended the lead to 6-2, McEnaney stayed in, working around hits in the 8th and 9th to earn the 2 1/3 inning save.

Game 4 was delayed a day and Anderson had a fresh bullpen for the clincher. Once again, McEnaney came into the game in the 7th, this time relieving Gary Nolan. Once again he had to retire Chris Chambliss who was again the potential go ahead run.

He did and threw a scoreless 8th to make the score 3-2 heading to the 9th. Johnny Bench hit a 3 run homer to put the game away.

McEnaney came out to pitch the 9th. He got Otto Velez, Mickey Rivers and Roy White out 1-2-3.

He became the third pitcher in the history of baseball to throw the clinching pitch of the World Series in back to back seasons. Art Nehf and Bob Kuzava were the first two. Mariano Rivera would eventually become the fourth to.

That would be his final pitch as a member of the Reds. In the off season, he and Tony Perez would be traded to the Expos. He had one decent but unspectacular season there. He was traded to the Pirates in 1978 but suffered through an injury plagued season.

In 1979, he wound up with the Cardinals and had a nice comeback year. His 2.95 ERA was his lowest since 1975 and he appeared in 45 games in relief. But that would be the of his big league career.

He played 1980 in the yankees system and then missed all of 1981. He tried comebacls with the Rangers in 1982 and the Independent Miami Marlins in 1985 before calling it quits.

One of the players he played with on that 1985 Marlins team was Mike Torrez. Now remember, McEnaney threw the clinching pitch of the 1975 and 1976 World Series. Torrez threw the clinching pitch of the 1977 World Series.

Those are some choice stories they could tell on the bus of an independent minor league team.

Carl Yastrzemski 1978 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 4, 2017

IMG_1429Happy Labor Day everyone. I guess if I have listed the first two batters who made the 3 outs to end the 1975 World Series in Juan Beniquez and Bob Montgomery, I might as well bring up Yaz as well.

You’ve probably seen the clip. Yaz was the Red Sox last hope in the 1975 World Series and he flew out to Cesar Geronimo in centerfield, ending possibly the greatest World Series ever played.

Yaz also popped out to end the 1978 Bucky Dent playoff game. (He also homered off of Ron Guidry in that game, for the record.)

There is a lot to unpack in a post honoring Carl Yastrzemski. He was and remains one of my favorite players of all time. There was a sense of royalty to him when I started following the Red Sox in the late 1970’s. Yaz had already been there for 15-16 years when I was a young fan. He was a link to a long time before I rooted for teams or before I was born for that manner.

I had no shortage of Yaz cards to pull for this post. I liked this one from 1978. That was the first year I collected cards and I was super excited to get this one. He looked like a person of authority, looking up at… something. I am not sure what. But man he looks important.

And hey look! He has the shield showing he was an All Star then. He wasn’t just an old guy playing out the string.

Yaz was my grandmother’s favorite player. I think a lot of New Englanders of earlier generations liked him because he was a nice Catholic boy who went to nice Catholic schools and was from the Northeast (he was from Long Island.) So all these added to him being like someone from the neighborhood winning in Boston.

Also, all of what we think of as “Red Sox Nation” can be traced back to 1967. This notion that New Englanders flocked to their beloved Fenway Park and made summer days all about the Red Sox was not true for a long time. Fenway Park was considered an old dump and the Yawkeys (the pieces of shit that owned the Red Sox for decades) threatened to move the team if they didn’t get a multipurpose Astroturf new stadium to replace Fenway.

You read that right.

Then Yaz and the 1967 pennant race came about. People rediscovered Fenway Park and the love for the Red Sox. It hasn’t gone away and Yaz was a big part of that. Maybe he was THE part of it.

I remember in 1979, the first year I really followed baseball day in and day out, Yaz was the big story in Boston. He had a chance to become the first American League player with 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. He hit homer 400 on July 25th.

Khans Hot Dogs and Hilshire Farms, the companies that made Fenway Franks, had a contest. Mail in the day you think Yaz will get hit 3,000 and the winner will get a T-Shirt, a Poster and … um… maybe some hot dogs, I don’t remember.

I dutifully wrote some date on the order form that came with the hot dogs. Then as he inched closer to 3,000, I began to watch each day I could. Remember this was before cable TV and MLB.com. Not every game was televised.

But more games were shown on TV 38 because of the Yaz chase.

On September 9th against the eventual AL Champion Orioles, Yaz got hit 2,999. On September 10, he went 0 for 4. On September 11 against the Yankees, he also went hitless.

Scalpers were having a field day selling tickets with anticipation for hit 3,000 being stretched out for a few more days.

The September 12th game was against the Yankees. Yaz needed one more hit but they were about to go on a road trip. It would have been anticlimactic if he passed 3,000 in Baltimore or Toronto.

I was watching dutifully in our living room in Weston, Massachusetts.

In the first inning, Yaz walked and came around to score when Jim Rice homered off of Catfish Hunter.

My favorite player, Butch Hobson, doubled to start a 3 run rally in the 4th but Yaz ended the scoring by grounding to second for the third out.

Yaz led off the 6th with a grounder and it was looking like this was going to be another fruitless night in pursuit of 3,000.

In the 8th, Yaz came up against reliever Jim Beattie with 2 outs and nobody on and the Red Sox up 8-2. He swung and ground it just past Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph. He did it. As announcer Ned Martin described it “All hell breaks loose in Fenway.” His kid ran out to meet him at first. police and cameras surrounded him. He gave a speech and received a standing ovation. Pinch runner Jim Dwyer took over for him at first.

And where was your pal Sully? I missed it. I went to the bathroom. After watching him ground out and pop up for days, I was sitting on the toilet when Yaz got 3,000. An early lesson was learned. Don’t leave. You might miss something.

By the way, a few weeks later, we were mailed a Yaz T Shirt and poster from Hillshire Farms and Kahns Hot Dogs. We won. Or maybe everyone got that, I don’t know. I always felt like a winner.

In 1983, we went to a bunch of Red Sox games even though the team wasn’t very good. It was the last year of Yaz and it seemed like everyone in New England came out that year to say good bye. I didn’t miss his final at bat, which he popped up to end his career. That game he ran around Fenway Park, high fiving the fans. He did that 12 years before Ripken. That was a Yaz move.

Finally, he was one of my favorite players and a symbol of my childhood and connection to a previous generation. And yet, even as I type this sentence, I have to carefully look at his name so I do not mistype it.

Y… A… S… T… R… Z… E… M… S… K… I…

It is that Z after the R that always throws me off.

Bob Montgomery 1973 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 3, 2017


Before I talk about Monty, I must say, the 1973 Topps cards could be my favorite of all time. They were simple and yet had the iconic silhouette of the player in the lower right hand corner which was just so cool.

I never had many of these because I WAS ONE YEAR OLD WHEN THEY CAME OUT. I supposed this creased and battered card probably existed in my grandmothers house in Connecticut where one of my older cousins probably had it.

Bob Montgomery is a Red Sox institution. He has been involved with the club for so long that it is hard to remember a time where he wasn’t doing something for the team.

He was born and raised in Tennessee and was signed by the Red Sox out of high school as an outfielder. He switched to catching in the minor leagues as a way to get promoted faster. He made it to the majors in 1970 and never went back to the minors. From 1971 to 1979, he was a major league from the start of the year to finish. And only twice did he play more than 40 games in a season.

Monty was the classic backup. His job was to fill in for Carlton Fisk and give him a breather from time to time. His batting average sometimes looked insanely high on paper. He hit .320 in 1973, in 128 at bats. He was a .300 hitter in 1977, in 17 games. In his final big league season he was a .349 hitter, in 86 at bats.

Sometimes, especially when Fisk went into a slump, some fans wanted Montgomery to be the starter, since he was such a prolific hitter. Here’s the problem. He didn’t want that. He knew that if he was a starter, that batting average would PLUMMET.

He had a great gig and was a fan favorite. He even posed for Jordan Marsh ads. For those of you who do not know, Jordan Marsh was a chain of stores in the Boston area that included clothing and fashion. And who better to model clothes than a stylish backup catcher for the Red Sox?


The style extended to his times at bat. In 1971, players were required to wear a helmet when they came to bat. Those who played before 1971 could be exempted and be grandfathered in. Monty played 22 games before 1971, so guess what? He chose to NOT wear a helmet.

He would come to the plate with a soft hat on which he put a liner in the inside to protect him. I am guessing a helmet would have been smart for him to wear.

When I was a kid starting to read stats in the 1979 yearbook, I saw several players on the team had played in the 1975 World Series. Monty was one of them. He had one at bat.

Now when you see a reserve catcher, one who was following World Series hero Carlton Fisk, got only one at bat, usually that means they got a mercy at bat in a blow out game. I figured he was in a situation where it was a game the team looked like they were going to lose and the manager said “Put Monty in there. It’s his only chance to play in the World Series.”

That’s what I assumed.

Holy Cow was I wrong.

What was the low leverage situation that Bob Montgomery made his lone appearance in the 1975 post season in? IN THE BOTTOM OF THE NINTH OF GAME 7 OF THE WORLD SERIES!!!!

The Reds were leading by one run in the bottom of the ninth with Will McEneaney on the mound. As I wrote yesterday, Juan Beniquez came up as a pinch hitter for Rick Miller and flew out to the right fielder Ken Griffey.

Denny Doyle was up next. Manager Darrell Johnson decided to roll the dice. Monty was a right handed hitter and as I mentioned before, got his share of hits in a small sample size. Where he was a situation where a single would have changed the complexion of the inning.

If Montgomery got a single, chances are he would have been lifted for pinch runner Doug Griffin (Monty was pinch hitting for second baseman Doyle.)

Yaz was up next. Fisk followed with Fred Lynn after him. If they batted with a runner on, a home run would win the World Series for the Red Sox.

One thing Monty’s at bat does bring up through the eyes of a fan in 2017 is the flawed line up construction they had in the 1970’s. Why are two batters who can be pinch hit for higher up in the lineup than a pair of Hall of Famers and the man who was the MVP in 1975?

The point was moot. Monty grounded out, making it 2 outs and nobody on. Will McEneaney got Yastrzemski to pop up and end the World Series. Ahhh if only Monty got that hit.

He played for the Sox through 1979 and was one of the announcers of the team through the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. He still makes guest appearances on the broadcast and will also announce for the Pawtucket and Portland minor league teams for the Sox. He evidently also runs a board game company.

So Monty made one post season appearance while wearing a soft hat. It was with one of the greatest World Series in history on the line. He didn’t get the World Series ring. He DID win 11 Emmy Awards as an announcer which, I must say, it quite impressive.

Almost as impressive as his batting average in those short seasons.