Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happy Mantle's Birthday!

October 20, 1931: Mickey Charles Mantle is born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, and grows up in nearby Commerce. Wasn't nothing to do there, back then, but work in the mines, and, until you were old enough to do that, play football and baseball. Mickey played baseball, and the rest is history.

"Baseball has been very good to me," he said on Mickey Mantle Day, June 8, 1969, with his Number 7 being retired and a Plaque in his honor dedicated, "and playing 18 years in Yankee Stadium for you folks is the greatest thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer."

Those 18 years in a Yankee uniform would stand as a club record until 2013, when both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera suited up for a 19th season. Mariano would retire after that, but Derek would play for a 20th season. Derek would also break Mantle's club record for games played, 2,401, extending it to 2,747.

October 20, 2004: The Red Sox ruin the anniversary of Mickey's birth. Unlike the 2003-13 Red Sox, Mickey didn't need no steroids to win baseball games. The chemicals he ingested were, most definitely, not performance-enhancing.

Having dropped 3 straight to the Sox to force a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees had nothing left, at least not emotionally. The Red Sox led 6-0 after 2 innings. It was 8-1 after 4. The final was 10-3.

This was not the kind of loss that crushes you because you had it won at the end, and blew it. We got beat early. From the 1st inning onward, we knew the Red Sox were going to win the game. We knew it, and their fans knew it. There was nothing that could be done. And we had to stick it out, all 9 innings, and hear those Red Sox fans give us the business in our house for, as it turned out, 3 hours and 31 minutes. Never mind what the clock said: This was the longest game in Yankee history.

It was 12:01 AM, October 21, when Ruben Sierra grounded to 2nd for the final out. So not only had the Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino, they had ruined the birthdays of both Mickey Mantle (dead since 1995) and Whitey Ford (then, as now, still alive).

Finally, after losing the Pennant to the Yankees on the final day in 1949, blowing the Division title to the Yankees in 1977 and 1978, losing the ALCS to the Yankees in 1999, and the shock of 2003, the Red Sox and their fans had their revenge over the Yankees. "We danced on their lawn" became a common saying in New England.
But, as 2 of The Boston Globe's legendary sports columnists pointed out, the job wasn't done:

Bob Ryan: "Let's get this out of the way right now. The question is asked, 'If the Red Sox lose the World Series, would it be enough to have beaten the Yankees?' The answer is, 'No!'"

Dan Shaughnessy, who popularized the phrase: "The Curse of the Bambino isn't 'The Red Sox can't beat the Yankees.' The Curse of the Bambino is 'The Red Sox can't win the World Series.' The Red Sox lost the World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986, and those didn't have anything to do with the Yankees."

The Sox had also blown a Pennant in 1948, messed up a potential Division title in 1972, blown another Division title in 1974, looked like idiots in the ALCS in 1988, did the same thing in 1990, and looked like idiots in the ALDS in 1995. None of those had anything to do with the Yankees, either.

At the time, it was easy to be big about it, and say to the Sox, now happily calling themselves "The Idiots," "Good luck in the Series. You earned it."

On July 30, 2009, it was revealed that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, the 2 biggest reasons the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, had failed steroid tests. They hadn't earned a fucking thing. They'd cheated.

Ortiz was still there when they won it all again in 2013.

Those 3 titles are fake, and they goddamned well know it. 1918 * Forever.

They would say the Yankees "cheated" to win their titles. Really? The evidence against the 1996-2003 Yankees is incredibly flimsy. The evidence against the 2003-2013 Red Sox is overwhelming.

The baseball media, of course, will never give the Yankees the same benefit of the doubt that they give the Red Sox.

Well, to hell with them. The world knows the truth, whether they accept it or not.


October 20, 1803: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, making possible the major-league cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Denver. If you count cities that have major-league teams in other sports but not baseball, add to the list New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

October 20, 1910: The Philadelphia Athletics dispose of Chicago Cub starter Ed Reulbach in 2 innings‚ then pin the loss on reliever Harry McIntire‚ who lasts a third of a inning. A's pitcher Jack Coombs coasts on 1 day's rest‚ 12-5‚ and helps himself with 3 hits.

Cub manager/1st baseman Frank Chance becomes the 1st player ejected from a World Series game when umpire Tom Connolly chases him for protesting a Danny Murphy home run drive against a sign over the right field bleachers. Chance opines too loudly that it should be a ground-rule double.

Also on this day (I previously had him listed as being born on October 12), Robert Leo Sheppard is born in Richmond Hill, Queens, the same neighborhood that would produce Rizzuto. He played quarterback for St. John's University in Queens, and later taught public speaking there.

In between, he taught public speaking at John Adams High School in the Ozone Park section of Queens. This means he could, arguably, have had, as one of his students, my Grandma. (Sadly, family concerns forced her to drop out, so she never did graduate.  And I didn't find out about the possibility until after both of them had died, so I couldn't ask either if Grandma had been taught by Sheppard.)

When the NFL had a team called the Brooklyn Dodgers, speech professor Sheppard did the public-address announcements for their games. Football Dodgers owner, and Yankees co-owner, Dan Topping heard him, and asked Sheppard to do the Yankees' games. He accepted, and from 1951 until 2007, he hardly ever missed a game. Ill health forced him to miss the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but… 57 years! On top of that, from 1956 to 2005, 50 years, he did the football Giants' games.

Sheppard was a generous gentleman and a complete professional, from sounding like an announcer, not a shameless shill (unlike such braying animals as Bob Casey of the Minnesota Twins, may he rest in peace, and Ray Clay of the Chicago Bulls); to accepting with humility the appellation that Reggie Jackson gave him: "The Voice of God."

Such was the appeal of Sheppard, and such is the pull of Derek Jeter, that Jeter asked that a recording of Sheppard introduce him before every at-bat, for the rest of his career, even after Sheppard died, which happened in 2010, just short of his 100th birthday. (A recording of Sheppard was also used to introduce Mariano Rivera when he came out for his final big-league appearance in 2013.)

He said he liked the Hispanic and Japanese names due to all the vowels, saying that they were "euphonious." But he said his favorite name to introduce was Mickey Mantle, with whom he shared his birthday. Mantle told Sheppard, "I got goose bumps when he introduced me." Sheppard said, "So did I."

October 20, 1921: Manuel Leaonedas Ayulo is born in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank, California. He began racing Formula 1 cars in the late 1940s, and was one of the earliest F1 drivers to move into "Indy car" racing. But he never won a race, and was killed in a crash at the 1955 Indianapolis 500. He was only 33.

October 20, 1927: Joyce Diane Bauer is born in Manhattan, and grows up in Far Rockaway, Queens. We knew her as famed psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers. She appeared on The $64,000 Question in 1955, and won the eponymous top prize (worth about $566,000 in 2016 money). Her subject was boxing, and it led to her becoming the 1st female commentator for a televised prizefight, the middleweight championship fight on CBS on September 23, 1957, in which Carmen Basilio took the title from Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium.

In 1958, she became the 1st advice columnist to have her own TV show. In 1981, she played herself as a guest on "James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party" on Saturday Night Live, with Eddie Murphy playing "The Godfather of Soul and Hot Tub Man Number 1, James Brown!" Great sketch. Dr. Brothers died in 2013, at age 85.

October 20, 1928: David Jack -- or, to give his full legendary name, David Bone Nightingale Jack -- makes his debut for North London soccer team Arsenal. The inside forward -- today, we would call him a central midfielder -- helps Arsenal defeat Newcastle United, 3-0 at St. James Park in Newcastle.

Jack played for his hometown club Bolton Wanderers, and scored the 1st goal at the original Wembley Stadium in the 1923 FA Cup Final, leading the Manchester-area club to defeat East London club West Ham United. He scored the only goal in the 1926 FA Cup Final as well, leading Bolton over Manchester City.

But with Wanderers in financial trouble, Arsenal snapped him up. He would help Arsenal win the Cup in 1930, and the Football League in 1931, 1933 and 1934, establishing Arsenal's dynasty under manager Herbert Chapman, who broke the English purchase record to get him. He then retired, and managed a few teams before dying in 1958, age 60.


October 20, 1931: On the same day as Mickey Mantle, Richard S. Caliguiri (I don't have a record of what the S stands for) is born in Pittsburgh. He was elected Mayor in 1977, and served until his death in 1988. Although he was criticized for the continued decline of industry during his time in office, he did help set up Pittsburgh's rebirth as a technology and health care city.

He gathered a group that bought the Pirates and prevented them from moving to Miami. For the remainder of the 1988 season, the Pirates wore his initials RSC on their sleeves.

October 20, 1932: Roosevelt Brown is born in Charlottesville, Virginia. The greatest offensive tackle of his time, he anchored the New York Giants line that reached 6 NFL Championship Games in 8 years, including the 1956 World Championship.

Although his Number 79 has not been retired by the Giants, he is a member of their Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him Number 57 on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Still the greatest offensive lineman in the history of New York Tri-State Area football, he died in 2004.

Also on this day, William Christopher is born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. He made up for not being born with a middle name by playing Lieutenant, later Captain, John Patrick Francis Mulcahy, S.J, on M*A*S*H. He says he has often been asked near his Southern California home, "Father Mulcahy, say a prayer for the Dodgers." "I suppose I should actually say one for the Angels," he says, "but I do root for the Dodgers."

In a 1st-season episode, the officers are listening to Armed Forces Radio for the Army-Navy football game, when Mulcahy walks in with his Notre Dame pennant. He’' told Notre Dame, America's unofficial Catholic university due to its legendary football program, isn't playing today. "Then what's all the commotion?"

In another early episode, he is playing in a pickup game in camp, wearing a helmet that's Notre Dame gold, but anachronistically has a two-bar facemask. Hawkeye asks him how the game's going. He says, "Protestants 7, Catholics 3, but we'll get 'em!" He then catches a pass, and is tackled by the entire opposing team.

Mulcahy was also a big boxing fan, having coached boxing at the CYO in his native Philadelphia, and would minister to a former boxing champion who ended up dying at the 4077th while on a tour for the troops. But Christopher admitted knowing nothing about boxing.

Mulcahy also had "my sister the Sister," who took the nom de nun of Sister Angelica, who first played and then coached basketball at her all-girls' high school in Philly.

In 1975, Christopher played an Army doctor on Good Times -- an inside joke on CBS' part, I suppose. He later teamed up with castmate Jamie Farr in a stage version of The Odd Couple -- I'm presuming Christopher played Felix and Farr played Oscar -- and with Farr and Loretta Swit on Diagnosis Murder and Lois & Clark. He has again played priests on Heaven SentMad About You, and, in 2013, Days of Our Lives.

October 20, 1937: Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez is born in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic. Known for his high leg-kick during his windup, he won more games in the 1960s than any other pitcher, and until Dennis Martinez surpassed him, his 243 career wins were the most of any Hispanic pitcher.

He helped the San Francisco Giants to the 1962 National League Pennant and the 1971 NL Western Division title, although they fell just short a few other times while he was there. They have retired his Number 27, and dedicated a statue to him outside AT&T Park. He was the 1st Dominican player, and the 1st Hispanic pitcher (aside from Negro League star Martin DiHigo, who was not strictly a pitcher), elected to the Hall of Fame.

Sadly, like the other serious contender for the title of the greatest Hispanic pitcher, Pedro Martinez, he is best known for a moment of violence, hitting Dodger catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat in a tight Pennant-race game in 1965. Unlike Pedro, however, this was out of character for Marichal, and Roseboro not only accepted his apology, but, after Marichal failed to be elected to the Hall in his 1st 4 years of eligibility, Roseboro spoke up on his behalf, and he was elected on the 5th try.

He went on to become a broadcaster for a Spanish-language network in the Caribbean, and called games in the 1990 World Series, including the 2 won by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo, who not only wore Number 27 in tribute to Marichal, but at the time was married to Marichal's daughter Rosie, who can be seen on the official highlight film, yelling from the stands, "Let's go, Rijo!"

October 20, 1941, 75 years ago: Lieutenant Ken Farnes of the Royal Air Force is killed in a training flight near Chipping Warden, Oxfordshire. He was only 30 years old. Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack, a.k.a. The Bible of Cricket, had named him Cricketer of the Year in 1939.


October 20, 1951: Drake University of Des Moines, Iowa plays football against Oklahoma A&M – the name will be changed to Oklahoma State in 1958 – at Lewis Field in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Drake quarterback Johnny Bright, one of the 1st black players to receive serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy, is assaulted by white A&M defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith. "Unnecessary roughness"? Smith knocked Bright unconscious 3 times in the 1st 7 minutes of the game, the last time breaking his jaw.

A&M won the game, 27-14. It was Drake's 1st loss of the season. Photographs of what becomes known as "the Johnny Bright Incident," by Don Ultang and John Robinson, were featured on the front page of the next day’s Des Moines Register, and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Neither his school nor the Missouri Valley Conference disciplined Smith, nor did the Conference discipline the school or any of its coaches, in any way. As a result, Drake left the league in protest. So did Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, also integrated by that point. The NCAA issued new rules about blocking and tackling, and mandated better head protection, including facemasks for helmets.

Bright recovered, and finished 5th in the Heisman balloting, which was won by Dick Kazmaier of Princeton, who will likely remain the last Ivy Leaguer to win it. (Ed Marinaro of Cornell, in 1971, is currently the last one to even come close. He later played a cop on Hill Street Blues.)

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Bright didn't want to play there -- not because he thought Philadelphia was a racist city (long before Dick Allen and Curt Flood thought so, and Jackie Robinson had been already notoriously subjected to racist abuse there), but because he knew there were a lot of Southern players in the NFL. He would play in Canada, and receive many honors (or, as they would spell it, "honours") there, including 3 straight Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos.

When he retired in 1964, he was the CFL's all-time leading rusher, with 10,909 yards, a total then surpassed in the NFL only by Jim Brown, but Brown's amazing 5.2 yards per carry, often cited as a reason why he's the game's greatest ever player, never mind running back, is actually surpassed by Bright, with 5.5, making him North America's all-time leader in that stat at the time. Only 2 CFL players have passed him in rushing yardage since.

He is a member of the Eskimos' Wall of Honour, and the College Football and Canadian Football Halls of Fame. Drake retired his Number 43 (he wore 24 with the Esks) and named the field at Drake Stadium after him. After serving as a teacher and principal at an Edmonton high school, he died in 1983 from complications from surgery. Ernie Davis of Syracuse became the 1st black Heisman winner in 1961.

Also on this day, Claudio Ranieri (no middle name) is born in Rome. A centreback, he briefly appeared with hometown soccer club AS Roma, before helping Calabria club Catanzaro and Sicilian clubs Catania and Palermo win promotion to Serie A, Italy's top league.

He has managed 15 different clubs, including Roma, and Spanish club Valencia twice, and the national team of Greece. He got Sardinia club Caglario promoted from Serie C1 to Serie A in the minimum 2 years, got Florence club Fiorentina promoted and won them the 1996 Coppa Italia, won Valencia the 1999 Copa del Rey, and got Monaco promoted back to France's Ligue 1 in 2013.

He's best known for his time at West London club Chelsea, managing them into the 2002 FA Cup Final and the 2004 Champions League Semifinal, but winning no trophies. He became known as the Tinkerman for his frequent rotation of his players. After the 2003-04 season, Roman Abramovich's 1st as club owner, "the Mad Russian" fired the Tinkerman, hiring Jose Mourinho.

Last season, he pulled off the 5,000-to-1 feat of managing Leicester City, who'd barely escaped relegation the season before, to the Premier League title. They succeeded Chelsea, who had brought Mourinho back, but had fired him again after dropping to 16th place in December. They eventually got back up to 10th.

October 20, 1953: Keith Barlow Hernandez is born in San Francisco. Elaine: "Who does this guy think he is?" Keith: "I'm Keith Hernandez!"

He also thinks he's the 1979 NL batting champion and co-MVP (a unique tied vote, shared with Willie Stargell), a member of World Series winners with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1986 New York Mets, and one of the best-fielding 1st basemen ever.

These days, he thinks he’s a broadcaster with the Mets. He also thinks he's really smart, which he is, but he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Although his acquisition made the Mets a contender and then a champion again after some very dark years, they have strangely not retired his Number 17. Nor has he been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

October 20, 1955: Aaron Pryor (no middle name) is born in Cincinnati. The former Junior Middleweight Champion of the World overcame drug abuse, and is now an ordained minister and an anti-drug counselor. His sons Aaron Jr. and Stephan have also become professional boxers.

October 20, 1958: David Michael Krieg is born in Iola, Wisconsin. A 3-time Pro Bowler, he quarterbacked the Seattle Seahawks to their 1st Conference Championship Game in 1983, and their 1st Division Championship in 1988. The Seahawks have elected him to their Ring of Honor. He is now a real estate investor in Phoenix.

October 20, 1959: Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith makes a public statement that he will not move the team. As Congressman Joe Wilson would say, 50 years later, to a better man than either of them, "YOU LIE!"


October 20, 1960: Ralph Houk, former Yankee catcher, former Yankee coach, and manager of the 1957 International League Champion Denver Bears, is officially named manager of the Yankees. He will lead them to the next 3 AL Pennants and the next 2 World Championships.

As callous as the Yankees seemed in firing Casey Stengel, they had to make Houk their manager.  With 2 new expansion teams coming into the American League for the 1961 season, and 2 more into the National League in 1962, and with plenty of teams changing managers during the course of a season, Houk would have been hired by somebody, so the Yankees needed to promote him in order to keep him. It was a matter of "Use it or lose it."

The results spoke for themselves -- until the farm system ran dry.

October 20, 1961: Ian James Rush is born in St. Asaph, Wales. He was a superstar in the English soccer league, leading Liverpool to 6 League titles. He scored more goals in FA Cup play than any player in the 20th Century, shares with 1966 World Cup hero Geoff Hurst the record for most goals scored in League Cup play, and is the all-time leading goalscorer in Merseyside derbies (Liverpool vs. Everton).

There was a daunting statistic that Liverpool had never lost a game in which Rush scored. That stat held until the 1987 League Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium, when he scored, and then North London-based Arsenal came back with 2 goals by Charlie Nicholas to win, 2-1.

Rush had a difficult 2-year spell with Juventus in the Italian league, before returning to Liverpool.  Not the 1st British player to be a bust in Italy, nor the last, he was asked if the language barrier would be a problem. He denied it: "I don't even speak English that well." (The Welsh do have their own separate language, but Rush can be understood in English, unlike later Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, whose Scouse accent is so thick he needs a translator.)

After a brief spell managing Chester City, which had been his 1st pro club as a player, he became a pundit for Sky Sports. He is now a club ambassador for Liverpool. With 346 goals, he is their all-time leading scorer.

October 20, 1963: Stanislaus "Stan" Henricus Christina Valckx is born in Arcen, the Netherlands. A centreback, he won the Dutch league (Eredivisie) with PSV Eindhoven in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1997 and 2000; and the Dutch Cup (KNVB Beker) in 1989 (a Double), 190 and 1996. With Lisbon's Sporting Clube de Portugal, he won the Taça de Portugal in 1995.

Stan Valckx played for the Netherlands at the 1994 World Cup in America. He is now part of the management team at Venlose Voetbal Vereniging Venlo -- known as, no, not "VVVV" or "V4," but as "VVV-Venlo." (I didn't decide that, they did.)

October 20, 1964: Former President Herbert Hoover dies of a gastrointestinal ailment in his suite at the Waldorf Towers in New York. He was 90, older than any former President before him except John Adams. (He has since been surpassed by Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W.H. Bush.)

Hoover was a member of Stanford University's 1st graduating class in 1895. He was student manager of their 1st baseball and football teams. Former President Benjamin Harrison was a founding professor of Stanford's law school, and wanted to attend a football game. Young Hoover made old Harrison pay the admission fee: 25 cents -- about $7.00 in today's money.

Hoover attended Game 5 of the 1929 World Series at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, and was cheered as he threw out the ceremonial first ball. Just a year earlier, he had been elected in one of the biggest landslides ever. Then the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. He threw out the first ball at Shibe Park for Game 1 of the 1930 World Series, and this time, fans plagued by the Depression and Prohibition booed him and chanted, "We want beer!" When the Philadelphia Athletics won the Pennant again in 1931, Hoover did not show up for the World Series. In 1932, he lost by an even greater margin than his 1928 win.

October 20, 1965: Just 1 year after he helped the Cardinals win the World Series and was named NL Most Valuable Player, team Captain Ken Boyer is traded to the Mets, for pitcher Al Jackson and 3rd baseman Charlie Smith.

Jackson had been one of the few respectable players in the Mets' early years, while Smith is best known for getting traded by the Cardinals just a year later, even-up, for Roger Maris. An insult to Maris.

Also on this day, Mikhail Alekseyevich Shtalenkov is born in Moscow. A Gold Medal winner as the starting goalie for the post-Soviet "Commonwealth of Independent States" team at the 1992 Winter Olympics, he starred for Dinamo Moscow, was an original Mighty Duck of Anaheim in 1993, and played in the NHL until 2000.

October 20, 1966, 50 years ago: Allan Anthony Donald is born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He is considered one of his country's all-time greatest cricket bowlers (pitchers). He is now the manager of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

October 20, 1967: Having just moved the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland, owner Charlie Finley names Bob Kennedy as their 1st manager. He does not, however, try to trade for Yankee 3rd baseman John Kennedy. Nor does he try to hire Hockey Hall-of-Famer Ted Kennedy as a consultant.

Also on this day, the expansion Seattle SuperSonics make their home debut, at the Seattle Center Coliseum. They face the other expansion team, the San Diego Rockets, and lose 121-114. John Block scores 32 and Johnny Green 30 for the Rockets, who will move to Houston in 1971. Walt Hazzard scores 32 for the Sonics, who will win the 1979 NBA Championship and become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.

October 20, 1969: The Mets get their ticker-tape parade for winning the World Series.

Also on this day, Juan Alberto González Vázquez is born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Known as Juan Gonzalez, the All-Star right fielder for the Texas Rangers hit 434 home runs in his career, won AL MVP awards in 1996 and 1998, and scared the hell out of us Yankee Fans by nearly ruining the 1996 season with his 3 home runs in the 1st 2 games of the ALDS.

But injuries ruined his career, leading him to being traded repeatedly, and his nickname "Juan Gone" began to refer less to the balls he hit, and more to his propensity for being out of the lineup. He had his last productive season at 33, and he was done at 35. Wow, he really, really fits the steroid profile. Both Jose Canseco and the Mitchell Report accused him of using. He still denies it.

He now owns and plays for a minor-league team in his hometown. He is eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he'll never get in.

October 20, 1970: Sander Bernard Jozef Boschker is born in Lichtenvoorde, the Netherlands. A goalkeeper, he won the KNVB Cup with Twente Enschede in 2001, won the Eredivisie with Ajax Amsterdam in 2004, then returned to Twente an won the 2010 Eredvisie and the 2011 KNVB Cup. He backedup Maarten Stekelenburg on the Dutch team that lost the 2010 World Cup Final to Spain in extra time. He is now retired.

October 20, 1971: Laura Mendez is born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We know her as Mrs. Jorge Posada.
I met her once, at a YES Network function. As in, YES, she looks just as good in person. And, YES, she's as nice as you would hope someone who looks that good is. And, YES, he ended up with her.  So here's hope for all of us.

Also on this day, Eddie Charles Jones is born in Pompano Beach, Florida. (Why "Eddie Charles"? If you're going with Eddie instead of Edward, why not Charlie or Chuck instead of Charles?) The Temple University guard was the 1994 Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year and a 3-time NBA All-Star. But he had lousy luck, being traded away from both the Los Angeles Lakers (in 1999) and the Miami Heat (in 2005) a season before they won NBA titles.

October 20, 1972: William John Heaton Greenwood is born in Blackburn, Lancashire, England. Yeah, the place with the "4,000 holes." Will Greenwood found a few holes playing rugby for London club Harlequins and Leicester Tigers. He was a member of the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He is now a rugby analyst for Sky Sports.


October 20, 1973: The Sydney Opera House, Australia's most famous structure, opens. The Rolling Stones hit Number 1 on the U.S. singles charts with "Angie." The Six Million Dollar Man premieres on ABC, starring Lee Majors as astronaut-turned-bionic-federal-agent Steve Austin. (Definitely not to be confused with the Stone Cold "professional wrestler" using the same name.)

And Game 6 of the World Series is played at the Oakland Coliseum. The Mets just need to win 1 of the last 2 games against the Athletics in Oakland, and they will have their 2nd World Championship in 5 seasons -- it has been 11 years since the Yankees went all the way. And Tom Seaver, "The Franchise," is on the mound.  What can go wrong?
The opposing starters in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series:
James Augustus Hunter and George Thomas Seaver

This can go wrong: Met manager Yogi Berra has sent Seaver out on just 3 days' rest, hoping that "Tom Terrific" can close out the defending World Champions on their own patch, so that no Game 7 will be necessary.

But Reggie Jackson, not yet a New York baseball legend, hits 2 doubles, scores 1 run and knocks in 2. Jim "Catfish" Hunter, also a future Hall-of-Famer, pitches brilliantly. The A's beat the Mets 3-1. So there will be a Game 7 tomorrow.

To this day, many Met fans are angry at Yogi for starting Seaver on short rest. I'm sure some of them think of Yogi as a Yankee and hate him for that reason alone. They shouldn't: There are only 5 human beings who have managed the Mets to a Pennant: Yogi, Gil Hodges, Davey Johnson, Bobby Valentine and Terry Collins. And with Yogi's recent death, only Johnson, Valentine and Collins are still alive.

Also on this day, the Capital Bullets -- who will change their name again to the Washington Bullets next season -- play their 1st home game after 10 years in Baltimore, at the Capital Centre in suburban Landover, Maryland. At this point, the Bullets are one of the better teams in the NBA, and they prove it, beating the Boston Celtics 96-87. Phil Chenier leads all scorers with 26 points.

But the big story of October 20, 1973 is, unlike that game, actually in Washington, and it has nothing to do with sports. The day before, in an effort to get away with whatever he did that was recorded on his Oval Office tapes, President Richard Nixon offered a compromise: He would allow Senator John Stennis to review the tapes, and present Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox with summaries.

On this day, Cox publicly refuses to accept this compromise. He knows that Stennis is not only a conservative from Mississippi and a supporter of Nixon's -- he's a conservative Southern Democrat, a.k.a. a "Dixiecrat," and no friend of mainstream Democrats -- but also hard of hearing. If those tapes reveal that Nixon committed an impeachable offense, Stennis might not hear it properly. And even if he does, he might refuse to admit it to Cox, and claim his poor hearing caused him to miss it. Cox isn't buying it, and has enough guts to press onward.

Nixon decides that, in order to survive as President, he has to fire Cox -- whom he had never fully trusted, as Cox had been Solicitor General under President John F. Kennedy and an old friend of
JFK's, and thus a partisan Democrat.

So he instructs his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, the man with the power to fire Cox, to do it.  Richardson refuses, because he thinks it will spark a Constitutional crisis. Nixon says do it or you're fired. Richardson does the honorable thing and resigns his post.

So Nixon goes to the next man in line, Richardson's Deputy Attorney General, William Ruckelshaus.  He tells Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. He refuses. Nixon says do it or you're fired. Ruckelshaus still refuses, but does not resign. Nixon fires him.

So with the top 2 men in the U.S. Department of Justice now gone, Nixon goes to the Number 3 man, the Solicitor General, and tells him to fire Cox. He does, because he values Nixon more than he values the Constitution.

Word quickly gets out, and the Washington press corps quickly dubs these events "The Saturday Night Massacre." People wake up the next morning to bold headlines in their Sunday papers. The Sunday morning news shows, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's Issues and Answers (the predecessor program to This Week), can talk about nothing else.

The pressure on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Nixon vastly increases. And, with the Vice Presidency vacant, as Spiro Agnew has resigned and Gerald Ford has not yet been confirmed by either house of Congress as the new VP, the next man in line is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Carl Albert of Oklahoma -- a Democrat. This would have been a political earthquake, much bigger than the end of Nixon's Presidency actually turned out to be.

Within days, Nixon realizes what a blunder he has committed, and tells the Acting Attorney General to appoint a new Special Prosecutor. That man would be Leon Jaworski. By December 6, Ford would be confirmed by both houses and sworn in as Vice President, and the danger of Nixon being impeached and removed, and replaced by a President of the other party, was gone, and things calmed down in Watergate -- for a while.

There would be ramifications, of course -- some lasting much longer than the Nixon Administration itself. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed that same former Acting Attorney General to the U.S. Supreme Court, as his judicial views fit the archconservative vision that Reagan had for the country. But his role in the Saturday Night Massacre was held against him -- although it's possible that he might have been rejected by the Senate anyway. His name was Robert Bork.

On April 26, 1974, the Yankees would trade 4 pitchers to the Cleveland Indians: Fritz Peterson, Fred Beene, Steve Kline and Tom Buskey. Essentially sending away half their pitching staff, this became known as the Friday Night Massacre. But the trade was necessary: It got rid of 4 pitchers who didn't take the game as seriously as they did their social lives, and it brought in 2 players who would be essential in the Yankees' late 1970s Pennants: 1st baseman Chris Chambliss and pitcher Dick Tidrow. (They also got pitcher Cecil Upshaw, but he was injured and a nonfactor, and was traded after the season.)


October 20, 1976, 40 years ago: Game 4 of the World Series is postponed by rain. Not that it will do the Yankees much good, as they trail the Cincinnati Reds 3 games to none.

Also on this day, the Long Island-based New York Nets are in trouble. Having to pay the NBA $3 million as an entry fee from the ABA, and having to pay the Knicks a $4.8 million "territorial indemnification fee," the Nets owe $7.8 million -- about $33.1 million in today's money.

The Nets offered their biggest star, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, to the Knicks in exchange for waiving the territorial indemnification fee. This would have dropped the Nets' fees to $3 million. But the Knicks refused: They wanted the money. This was a tremendous mistake, as they had already fallen far from their 1970 and '73 NBA titles with the retirements of Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere and Jerry Lucas, while Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley were clearly in decline, although Earl Monroe was still good. The Knicks went on to crash and burn.

But so did the Nets: They sold Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million, leaving them with only the territorial indemnification fee of $4.8 million. Despite having picked up future Hall-of-Famer Nate "Tiny" Archibald, the Nets instantly went from the ABA Championship to the worst record in the NBA. It would take until 1981-82 to recover, by which point the Knicks had also begun to do so.

October 20, 1977: A Convair CV-300 plane carrying the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes outside Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve's sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray.

Also on board, surviving but badly hurt, were guitarists Allen Collins and Gary Rossington, bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell, drummer Artimus Pyle, backing vocalist Leslie Hawkins, road crew member Steve Lawler, band security manager Gene Odom, and road crew members Ken Peden and Marc Frank.

An engine malfunction caused the pilots to mistakenly dump the plane's extra fuel, instead of transferring it to another engine like they intended. That's right, the plane crashed because it ran out of gas. Maybe Neil Young was right after all, albeit in an incredibly different context: "Southern Man, better use your head."

To make matters worse, in a case of "Timing is everything," just 3 days earlier, Skynyrd had released a new album, titled Street Survivors. The cover shows them standing in the middle of a fire. One of the more familiar tracks on the album is titled "That Smell." The lyrics include the words, "Tomorrow might not be here for you," and, "The smell of death surrounds you." The album would be repackaged, showing the band in front of a black background, and the original cover, much like the "Butcher Sleeve" of the 1966 Beatles compilation album Yesterday and Today, and the original cover of Electric Ladyland showing Jimmy Hendrix surrounded by naked women, has become a collector's item.

October 20, 1978: Swedish auto racer Gunnar Nilsson dies, a month short of his 30th birthday -- not in a crash, but from cancer. He had won the 1977 Belgian Grand Prix.

Also on this day, Virender Sehwag is born in Delhi, Indian. I don't know what makes a cricketer great, but his Wikipedia entry says he is "often considered as the most destructive batsman of the game." He holds the record for the highest score made by an Indian in Test cricket, 319 against South Africa at Chennai (the city formerly known as Madras) in 2008.

Having starred for the Delhi club for 17 years, he now plays for Haryana. He has played for India in 3 Cricket World Cups, including their 2011 win. 

October 20, 1979: Paul Jeremiah O'Connell is born in Limerick, Ireland. He played 14 seasons for Munster Rugby, and in 4 Rugby World Cups for Ireland. He has captained both, and also the every-four-years-touring "British and Irish Lions." In 2009, 2014 and 2015, he was a member of the Ireland team that won the Six Nations.

October 20, 1980: José Enger Veras Romero is born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The pitcher was a Yankee from 2006 to 2009, but was designated for assignment before he could pitch in that great postseason. He pitched for the Tigers in the 2013 ALCS, and is now with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League.

October 20, 1981: Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. A banner is hung from the upper deck:


Not yet, they don't, as Bob Watson's 1st-inning homer and the pitching of Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage shut the Bums down, 5-3.

October 20, 1982: Game 7 of the World Series at Busch Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals, including birthday boy Keith Hernandez, rally for 3 runs in the 6th to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-3.

The Cardinals win their 9th World Series, a total surpassed only by the Yankees. (Since then, if you combine their Philadelphia and Oakland titles, it has been matched by the A’s, although the Cards have now made it 11.)

The Cardinals will win 2 more Pennants in the decade, and have remained more or less competitive ever since. The Brewers have never played another World Series game, and did not even play another postseason game for 26 years.

But this is a dark day in the history of sports on planet Earth, for reasons that have nothing to do with the World Series. A UEFA Cup match was scheduled for the Grand Sports Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium, now named the Luzhniki Stadium. Spartak Moscow, the most popular sports team in the Soviet Union, hosted Dutch club HFC Haarlem.

Unlike some other soccer disasters, including the Hillsborough Disaster in Sheffield, England in 1989, this time, the problem wasn't too many tickets being sold. Even by Russian standards, this was a cold day for October: 14 degrees below zero. As a result, a stadium that could hold as many as 102,000 sold only 16,643 tickets. (Contrast that with the 1967 NFL Championship "Ice Bowl": It was 13 below at kickoff, but Lambeau Field in Green Bay was still filled to its capacity at the time, 50,861.)

It is believed that only 100 fans had come from the Netherlands to support Haarlem, despite having a young Ruud Gullit in their ranks. They won the Dutch league, the Eredivisie, in 1946 and had won promotion back into it in 1981 and qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1982. But they were relegated in 1990, and went bankrupt in 2010, and have had to start all over; the new club, named Haarlem Kennemerland, now plays in the Netherlands' 8th division.

Edgar Gess, a Tajik midfielder, scored in the 16th minute. The score remained 1-0 to Spartak nearly the rest of the way, and, not anticipating the poorly-supported visitors to get a late equalizer, hundreds of fans in the East Stand left their seats to leave the stadium and get to the Metro (Moscow's subway).

But in stoppage time, Georgian defender Sergei Shvetsov scored to make it 2-0. The fans leaving heard the remaining fans cheer, and, in the same setup as the Ibrox Disaster in Glasgow, Scotland in 1971, many of them turned around to head back and see what happened. This led to fans bumping into each other on the stairwell and falling like dominoes. There is an alternate theory that the reaction to Shvetsov's goal had nothing to do with it: Rather, it was a young woman losing a shoe, going back to pick it up, getting trampled, and a few fans stopping to help her, thus making a bad situation worse.

Initially, the Soviet government announced that the number of fatalities was a mere 3. Some had speculated that it was as high as 340. It wasn't until the fall of the Soviet Union, and the declassification of many documents, that the true number of deaths was revealed: 66 -- oddly, the exact same number as the similar Ibrox Disaster. It remains the greatest sporting disaster ever to happen on the European continent.

Four stadium officials, including the stadium's director and its top police officer, were charged. Two of them were never tried due to illness. The other two were imprisoned for 3 years.

On November 3, the 2nd leg of the UEFA Cup tie was played in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Despite Haarlem taking a 1-0 lead, Spartak won the game 3-1, including another goal by Shvetsov, won the tie 5-1, and advanced. On October 20, 2007, the players gathered at Luzhniki Stadium again, playing a memorial match for charity.


October 20, 1983: Michel Armand Vorm is born in IJsselstein, the Netherlands. The goalkeeper starred in his homeland for Utrecht and in the English Premier League for Welsh club Swansea City. He is now Hugo Lloris' backup on North London club Tottenham Hotspur, where his mistakes have led to the pun, "Vorm is temporary, class is permanent."

October 20, 1986, 30 years ago: Tommy Walker dies. No, not the title character from "Tommy." This is a more important figure in the history of music. Both a placekicker on the University of Southern California football team and a trumpeter in their marching band in 1946, he composed, "Da da da DAT da DA! Charge!"

He later became an events producer, putting together the Opening Ceremony of the 1984 Olympics (like his home football games, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) and the 1986 Centennial of the Statue of Liberty. He was just short of turning 63 when he died.

October 20, 1988: World Series MVP Orel Hershiser ends his dream season with a 5-2 four-hitter over the A's in Game 5 of the World Series. Mickey Hatcher starts the Dodger scoring with a 2-run homer in the 1st off Storm Davis‚ his 2nd homer of the Series.

The win gives the Dodgers a tremendous upset, and their 5th World Championship since moving to Los Angeles 30 years earlier, their 6th overall. But in 27 years, more than a quarter of a century, since, they have never won another Pennant. It can't all be due to the Curse of Donnie Baseball: Mattingly was only there from 2008 (2011 as manager) until 2015.


October 20, 1990: North London soccer team Arsenal defeats Manchester United, at United's ground of Old Trafford, 1-0, on a goal by Arsenal's new Swedish winger, Anders Limpar.

But late in the game, United's dirty left back Denis Irwin starts a fight that brings nearly every player on both teams into it. The Football Association deducted a point from United, and 2 from Arsenal. This had never happened before, and has not happened since.

This did not faze George Graham's Arsenal. Instead, it bred a siege mentality in them. They lost only 1 game the entire League season, and the following May 6, a Liverpool loss earlier in the day clinched the title for Arsenal. And who were they playing that night? Man United, of course, in the return fixture at Highbury. Alan Smith scored a hat trick to clinch the Golden Boot as the League's leading scorer. And, all game long, the Arsenal fans chanted, "You can shove yer fookin' two points up yer arse!"

On this same day, the talk of an Oakland dynasty is proven premature‚ as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Athletics 2-1, to complete one of the most stunning sweeps in World Series history.

Series MVP Jose Rijo (2-0‚ 0.59 ERA) retires the last 20 batters he faces to give the Reds their 1st World Championship since 1976, their 5th overall. However, the Reds have not won a Pennant since – in fact, they haven’t even won an NLCS game in the quarter of a century since.

Not joining the celebration at the end is Eric Davis‚ who ruptures his kidney diving for a ball during the game, and is taken to the hospital. This is the 1st of several injuries that ended up derailing what could have been a great career, although he did play on until 2001 and hit 282 home runs. He and Rickey Henderson are the only players to hit 25 home runs and steal 80 bases in a season, and he and Barry Bonds (before the steroids) are the only players to hit 30 homers and steal 50 bases in a season. He's now a roving instructor for the Reds, and they have elected him to their Hall of Fame. One of his teammates called him "the best hitter, best runner, best outfielder, best everything I've ever seen."

That teammate was Paul O'Neill. The Reds' manager was former Yankee great Lou Piniella. An intense right fielder who came up big in big moments, O'Neill reminded me even then of a lefthanded version of Sweet Lou, and I was thrilled when the Yankees traded for him. He would go on to win 4 more World Series with the Yankees, for a total of 5.

October 20, 1991, 25 years ago: Game 2 of the World Series. The Minnesota Twins don't lose at home in the postseason. Chili Davis and Scott Leius hit home runs, and the Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2, to take a 2-0 lead in the Series.

October 20, 1992: For the 1st time, a World Series game is played outside the United States of America, as Game 3 is played at the SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre) in Toronto.

The Blue Jays take a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Candy Maldonado's bases-loaded single in the 9th inning. Duane Ward gets credit for the victory in relief of Juan Guzman‚ and Joe Carter and Kelly Gruber homer for Toronto.

By starting in right field‚ Toronto's Joe Carter becomes the 1st player to start the 1st 3 games of a World Series at 3 different positions. He started Game 1 at 1st base and Game 2 in left field. Little did he know that a bigger distinction was yet to come: Catching the last out of the Series. And an even bigger one the following season.

In the 4th inning‚ Jays center fielder Devon White's sensational catch nearly results in a triple play. Deion Sanders was ruled safe on the play‚ but replays show he should have been the 3rd out. It would have been only the 2nd triple play in Series history, after Bill Wambsganss' unassisted feat in 1920.

Braves manager Bobby Cox is ejected from the game in the 9th, for arguing a check-swing call. He would also be thrown out of a Series game in 1996, and he remains the only manager facing this punishment since 1985. By a weird turn of events, the last player thrown out of a Series game was the unrelated Danny Cox, of the 1987 Cardinals. Only 2 men from New York teams have ever been thrown out of a World Series game, both in clinchers: Ralph Branca of the Dodgers, for bench-jockeying against the Yankees in Game 7 in 1952; and Yankee manager Billy Martin, for throwing a ball from the dugout onto the field in Game 4 in 1976.

October 20, 1993: Game 4 of the World Series at a rainy Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Charlie Williams becomes the 1st black man to serve as a home plate umpire in a World Series game. The Phillies blow a 14-9 lead over the Blue Jays in the 8th inning, capped by a Devon White triple (he seems to like playing on October 20), and lose 15-14, the highest-scoring game in Series history, breaking the record of Game 2 of the 1936 Series, the Yankees beating the Giants 18-4.

If you're a Phillies fan, this is when the Series was lost, not when Mitch Williams came in to relieve in Game 6. But then, if you’re a Phillies fan, the 2007-11 quasi-dynasty may have helped you get over it.

October 20, 1994: Burt Lancaster dies from the lingering effects of a stroke. The great actor had played football players and boxers, and might be best remembered for the title role in Jim Thorpe, All-American. His last film was as baseball player-turned-doctor Archie "Moonlight" Graham in Field of Dreams. He was 80.

October 20, 1996, 20 years ago: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st Series game at Yankee Stadium in 15 years. The Atlanta Braves spoil the party with a 12-1 shellacking of Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. Andruw Jones, the Braves' 19-year-old sensation from the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, becomes the youngest player ever to hit a home run in a World Series game – in fact, he hits 2, joining Gene Tenace of the '72 A's as the only 2 players ever to homer in their 1st 2 Series at-bats.

After the game, George Steinbrenner barges into manager Joe Torre's office. George yells about how the Yankees were embarrassed -- which, if we're being honest, they were. But Torre, who formerly managed the Braves to a postseason berth, and had just been clobbered in the 1st World Series game of his life at age 56, is unfazed. He tells George that they’ll probably lose Game 2 as well. "But we're heading down to Atlanta," he says, "and that's my hometown, and we'll win 3 straight there, and come back here and win it."

Joe later says, "He looked at me like I had 2 heads." (Well, Joe's head is rather large.) George later says he thought Joe was nuts, but he appreciated the confidence. That confidence will be rewarded.

October 20, 1998: Game 3 of the World Series, in front of 64,667 at Jack Murphy – excuse me, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Having hosted Super Bowl XXXII in January, this becomes the 1st time the Super Bowl and the World Series have been played in the same stadium -- or even in the same metropolitan area -- in the same calendar year.

The Metrodome in Minneapolis hosted the World Series in October 1991, Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992, and the NCAA Final Four in April 1992. But no stadium has hosted a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same calendar year since, and Detroit in 2006 is the only metro area to do so (in stadiums built next-door to each other). In the pre-Super Bowl era, World Series and NFL Championship Games had been played in the same city in the same calendar year as follows: New York in 1936, 1938, 1956 and 1962; Detroit in 1935; and Cleveland in 1954.

The San Diego Padres take a 3-0 lead on the Yankees, but 3rd baseman Scott Brosius, having the season of his life, hits a home run to make it 3-2. In the top of the 8th, with the Yankees threatening with 2 men on, the Padres bring in their closer, Trevor Hoffman.

The Padre fans, believing him to be the world's greatest relief pitcher, wave their white towels and cheer wildly. The words, "IT'S TREVOR TIME" appear on the scoreboard. The public-address system blasts the song "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC.

Steinbrenner, not familiar with the hard rock music of the Seventies and Eighties, tells the New York beat writers, "When they played that death march, it sounded like the WWF, when The Undertaker comes in. That's who I thought they were bringing in!"

Certainly, for NL batters that season, Hoffman might as well have been an undertaker. The whole production had become one of the most intimidating scenes in baseball.

But these are not NL batters, these are the New York Yankees, and they fear nobody. Brosius takes him over the center field wall for a 5-3 Yankee lead, soon to be a 5-4 Yankee victory. The actual best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, finishes it off, and the Yankees can wrap up the Series with a sweep tomorrow.

October 20, 1999: Calvin Griffith dies at age 87 – 40 years to the day after he announced he wouldn’t move the Washington Senators, before actually doing so a year after that. The nephew and adopted son of Hall-of-Fame pitcher and executive Clark Griffith, he inherited control of the Senators in 1955, and moved them to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.

In 1978, he told a Lions Club dinner why he took the Senators out of D.C., which was on its way to becoming a majority-black city: "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota: It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring, and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here."

Although the Twins came within 1 win of the 1965 World Championship, later decisions left the team mediocre through most of the Seventies. Griffith was so cheap and shortsighted that he was said to have engaged in one of Minnesota’s great outdoor pastimes, hunting for a type of fish known as walleyes, caught his legal limit, brought them to the supermarket, and traded them for a box of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. He sold the Twins in 1984 to Carl Pohlad, a billionaire who, ironically, turned out to be nearly as cheap as Griffith.

October 20, 2002: Francisco Rodriguez, a 20-year-old righthanded reliever from Venezuela, becomes the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game. With just 15 days of major league experience, "K-Rod" throws 37 pitches, retiring 9 consecutive batters in 3 innings, to pick up the victory when the Angels outslug the Giants in Game 2 of the Fall Classic, 11-10.

October 20, 2004: Lost in the excitement of the Red Sox' revenge over the Yankees, Jim Edmonds hits a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, to give the Cardinals a 6-4 win over the Astros, and send the NLCS to a decisive Game 7.

Also on this day, Chuck Hiller dies in St. Petersburgh Beach, Florida at age 70. He was the Giants' starting 2nd baseman for their 1962 Pennant, and in Game 4 of the World Series he became the 1st NL player to hit a grand slam in Series play. He spent the 1965, '66 and '67 seasons with the Mets, and served as Whitey Herzog's 3rd base coach in Texas, Kansas City and St. Louis, finally winning a World Series ring with the '82 Cardinals. He was also the Mets' 3rd base coach in 1990.

October 20, 2007: Max McGee, trying to blow leaves off the roof of his Deephaven, Minnesota house with a leafblower, falls off, and is killed on impact. Why he was doing that himself at age 75, instead of hiring somebody to do it, is a secret he took to the grave. He could certainly afford to hire a professional: The North Texas native made millions as a co-founder of the Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi's.

But he's best known as a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, making the Pro Bowl for the 1961 season, and winning 5 NFL Championships: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967. In the 1st AFL-NFL World Championship Game, retroactively renamed Super Bowl I, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, he caught the 1st touchdown pass in Super Bowl history, from Bart Starr, helping the Pack beat the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.

He caught 345 passes for 6,346 yards by the time he retired after Super Bowl II -- putting him among the all-time leaders at the time. The Packers elected him to their team Hall of Fame, and he later served as one of their broadcasters.

October 20, 2008: Gene Hickerson dies in Cleveland at age 73. The 6-time Pro Bowl guard and member of the Cleveland Browns' 1964 NFL Championship team lived long enough to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

Already suffering from the kind of ailments all too common among old football players -- he had dementia and was confined to a wheelchair due to injuries -- he was pushed onto the podium by 3 Browns running backs who were already Hall members, and the master of ceremonies said, "One last time, Gene Hickerson leads Bobby Mitchell, Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly."

October 20, 2009: Game 4 of the ALCS in Anaheim. The Yankees not only are not affected by last night's 11th-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels, but bounce back from it in a big way. Alex Rodriguez hits his 3rd home run of the series, tying a postseason record with RBIs in 8 straight games. Johnny Damon homers. Melky Cabrera has 4 RBIs.

Aside from a Kendry Morales homer in the 5th inning, CC Sabathia was nearly untouchable, going 8 innings on 3 days' rest, putting up a performance which, along with his win in Game 1, earned him the ALCS MVP. The Yankees win 10-1, and can wrap up the Pennant in Game 5 in 2 days.

October 20, 2012: Dave May dies of the combined effect of diabetes and cancer in Bear, Delaware. He was 68. An outfielder, he won a Pennant with the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, but was traded before their 1970 World Championship. He closed his career with the 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates, but was released before they could win the 1979 World Series. He was named to the 1973 All-Star Game, though -- but that was because every team has to have at least 1 All-Star, and he was then the best player on the Milwaukee Brewers.

His son Derrick May was also a major league outfielder, and is now the Cardinals' minor-league hitting instructor. Another son, David May Jr., is a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.

October 12, 2013: Don James dies of pancreatic cancer at his home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington. He was 80. He was a quarterback at the University of Miami long before Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta made that cool. But he enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation and never played in the NFL.

In 1956, he became an assistant coach at the University of Kansas, and worked his way up to his 1st head coaching position, at Kent State University outside Cleveland, in 1971, only a year and a half after the National Guard massacre there. He led them to the Mid-American Conference title and the Tangerine Bowl in 1972, their 1st title and 1st bowl game of any kind. He coached future Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Jack Lambert and future LSU and Alabama coach Nick Saban there.

In 1977, he was named head coach at the University of Washington. He won 6 Pacific-Ten Conference titles. He was named national Coach of the Year in 1977, 1984 and 1991. In 1984, he led them to an 11-1 season and a win over Number 2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, but a loss to USC cost them not just the National but the Pac-10 Championship.

With their purple uniforms and the recent Prince album and film in mind, the Huskies became known as the Purple Reign. Sports Illustrated published a cartoon in one of their annual College Football Preview issues, saying that James' Huskies "don't rebuild, they reload," and showing a husky in a gold helmet with a black W on it being fired out of a cannon, with others waiting to go.

In 1990, the team began a 22-game winning streak that included an undefeated season and a long-awaited National Championship in 1991. But in 1992, allegations of improprieties came to light. Although neither James himself nor anyone on his coaching staff was cited for doing anything wrong, the team was put on probation. James retired after the season, citing a betrayal by the University administration that he thought had hung him out to dry. His career record was 178-76-3. He lived long enough to see his election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

How Long It's Been: The Cleveland Indians Won the Pennant

Last night, the Cleveland Indians clinched the American League Pennant, by beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-0 at the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome), winning the American League Championship Series 4 games to 1.

They had previously won the AL Pennant in 1920, 1948, 1954, 1995 and 1997. But they've only won 2 World Series, in 1920 and 1948. Winning 2 World Series and 5 Pennants in your 1st 115 years of play is not good: A Pennant every 23 years. Now, it's 6 Pennants in 116 years: A Pennant every 19 years.

We do not yet know who they will play in the World Series. Last night, the Chicago Cubs won Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, tying it up, 2-2. So it will be at least Saturday, the day of Game 6, before we know the Tribe's opponent.

If it's the Dodgers, it'll be one of the longest-ever waits for a Series rematch: 1920. And that was when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. They've previously both made the Playoffs in 1995 and 1996. If it's the Cubs, it'll be one of the longest-ever waits for a 1st-time Series matchup. They've previously both made the Playoffs in 1998 and 2007, but the Cubs haven't won a Pennant since 1945, the Indians only 2 between 1954 and 2016.

The last time the Indians won a Pennant was on October 15, 1997, beating the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The O's wasted a magnificent effort by Mike Mussina, as the Indians scored the game's only run on Tony Fernandez's home run in the top of the 12th to win‚ 1-0. Mussina hurled 8 shutout innings and allowed just 1 hit‚ while walking 2 and striking out 10. Charles Nagy dids not give up a run in 7 1/3 innings for the Indians‚ while surrendering 9 hits‚ as the O's left 14 batters on base.

The pitcher who gave up the Pennant-winning homer to Fernandez? Armando Benitez. It is not the last time he will mess up a postseason game, but it is the last time he will do so for the Orioles. The O’s now had a 4-6 record in postseason games played at Camden Yards. Having finally gotten back to the postseason in 2012, but crashed out in the 2012 ALDS and the 2014 ALCS, that record now stands at 6-8, including 1-7 in ALCS games.

October 15, 1997. That's 19 years and 5 days. How long has it been?


Their manager was Mike Hargrove. They had some interesting players on their roster, including several with former or future New York baseball connections: Bartolo Colon, Chad Curtis, Julio Franco, Jason Jacome, David Justice, Jack McDowell, Kevin Mitchell, Eric Plunk, Richie Sexson, David Weathers, Enrique Wilson, Jaret Wright. And the aforementioned Tony Fernandez, who played for several teams and did well for all of them -- except the Yankees and the Mets. He wasn't much good for either of them, although he did hit for the cycle with the Yankees in 1995, and, for a long time, was the last Yankee to have done that. (Now, it's Melky Cabrera, in 2009.)

Other names of interest: Sandy Alomar Jr., Pat Borders, Sean Casey, Brian Giles, Marquis Grissom, Orel Hershiser, Jose Mesa, Charles Nagy, Manny Ramirez, Bip Roberts, Kevin Seitzer, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel and Matt Williams. The biggest name on their roster? Michael Jackson. That's unquestionably the biggest name, although the pitcher called himself Mike Jackson.

The only one still active? Bartolo Colon. Despite being fat. Must be the steroids. Although neither he nor Manny were then suspected. Indeed, at the time, instead of having his later-famous dreadlocks, Manny was bald. He's the only guy who took steroids and his hair went from bald to really long.

In 1997, the Boston Red Sox had not won the World Series in 79 years. The Chicago White Sox, 80 years. The San Francisco Giants, 43 years (and they were still in New York at the time). The Florida (now Miami) Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks had never won a World Series. The Marlins, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers had never won a Pennant. The D-backs and Rays had not even begun play yet. All have now done so.

The Milwaukee Brewers were still in the AL, and the Houston Astros were still in the National League. Of the 28 teams playing that season, 15 have since opened a new ballpark, including the Detroit Tigers, who were then still playing in a stadium built in 1912. Of the 9 teams playing major league sports in the New York Tri-State Area, all but the Knicks and Rangers have moved to a new building, and their building has since been seriously renovated.

The Montreal Expos had not yet moved to Washington, D.C. The Houston Oilers were playing their one and only season in Memphis, as the Tennessee Titans, and would move to Nashville the next season, and wouldn't become the Tennessee Titans until they opened a new stadium the year after that. Also in Cleveland, the Browns were in the 2nd year of a 3-year hiatus because of the Baltimore Ravens move.

The Seattle SuperSonics hadn't yet become the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Vancouver Grizzlies had not yet moved to Memphis. The Charlotte Hornets hadn't yet become the New Orleans Hornets or the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Charlotte Bobcats had neither been founded or changed their name to the new Charlotte Hornets. The Hartford Whalers were about to debut as the Carolina Hurricanes. The Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild had not yet begun play. Neither had the Atlanta Thrashers, who have since become the new Winnipeg Jets.

The defending World Champions in sports were the Yankees in baseball, the Green Bay Packers in football, the Chicago Bulls in basketball, and the Detroit Red Wings in hockey. The Heavyweight Championship of the World was split between Evander Holyfield (WBA), Lennox Lewis (WBC), Michael Moorer (IBF) and Henry Akinwade (WBO). Most people considered either Holyfield or Lewis to be "the real champ."

Baseball legends Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Bob Feller and Warren Spahn were still alive. Of the defining baseball players of my childhood, all were now retired, and, except for the banned Pete Rose, pretty much all of them were in the Hall of Fame, or would be in the next couple of years.

Derek Jeter was 23 years old, and in his 2nd full major league season. Jimmy Rollins was about to turn 19, Adrian Beltre was 18, Robinson Cano and David Wright were about to turn 15, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto were 14, Matt Kemp was 13, current Oriole star Adam Jones was 12, Yoenis Cespeds was about to turn 12, Felix Hernandez was 11, Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw were 9, Masahiro Tanaka was about to turn 9, Giancarlo Stanton was about to turn 8, Mike Trout was 6, and Bryce Harper was about to turn 5.

Of the current New York Tri-State Area coaches, Terry Collins was the manager of the team then known as the Anaheim Angels, Alain Vigneault had just become head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Jack Capuano had just become head coach of the minor-league Knoxville Cherokees, Todd Bowles was defensive coordinator at Morehouse College, Ben McAdoo was the offensive coordinator at a Pennsylvania high school, Joe Girardi was the starting catcher for the Yankees, Jeff Hornacek was in between back-to-back NBA Finals playing for the Utah Jazz, Kenny Atkinson was playing pro basketball in Italy, and John Hynes was playing minor-league hockey,

The Olympic Games have since been held in America, Canada, Britain, Russia, China, Australia, Greece and Italy. The World Cup has since been held in France, Korea, Germany and South Africa. Both have since been held in Japan and Brazil.

The President of the United States was Bill Clinton, nobody was publicly suggesting that his wife Hillary should run for any office, and Monica Lewinsky could walk into just about any building in the country, introduce herself, and no one there would recognize her name. Come to think of it, so could any Kardashian except Robert Sr., who was still alive.

Gerald and Betty Ford, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Lady Bird Johnson were still alive. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and George and Barbara Bush, were, and still are. George W. Bush was preparing to run for re-election as Governor of Texas. Barack Obama was in his 1st year in public office, the Illinois State Senate. Joe Biden was in his 25th year as a U.S. Senator from Delaware. Donald Trump was still married to Wife II, his only wife who wasn't an immigrant, Marla Maples.

The Governor of New York was George Pataki, gearing up for a 2nd run at the office he'd won from Mario Cuomo. Mario's son, Andrew Cuomo, was Clinton's Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, and he'd hired Bill de Blasio, now Mayor of New York, as his regional director. The Mayor of New York then, about to be elected to a 2nd term, was Rudy Giuliani. The Governor of New Jersey was Christine Todd Whitman. Chris Christie had just been defeated in a primary for re-election as a Freeholder for Morris County; at age 35, his political career seemed to be over.

In the State and City where the Indians were playing, the Governor of Ohio was George Voinovich, a former Mayor of Cleveland, who died 4 months ago after a long and distinguished career that also included the U.S. Senate. Current Governor John Kasich was a Congressman. The Mayor of Cleveland was Michael R. White, now runs a farm in Newcomerstown, Ohio, hometown of Cleveland pitching legend Cy Young.

The Nobel Peace Prize was about to be awarded to Jody Williams, for her work to ban landmines. The Pope was John Paul II. The Prime Minister of Canada was Jean Chretien. The Prime Minister of Britain, in his 1st 5 months on the job, was Tony Blair. The head of state of both nations was Queen Elizabeth II, still dealing with the public-relations fallout from the death of Princess Diana. England's Premier League had been won the preceding May by Manchester United, and its FA Cup by West London club Chelsea, only the 5th major trophy in their 92-year history. (They have since won 14 in 18 years.)

Major novels of 1997 including J.K. Rowling's 1st Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S.), Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, Don DeLillo's Underworld, Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version, and Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City, the basis for the TV series. Non-fiction books of the year included Mitch Albom's Tuesdays With Morrie, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm.

Only the 1st novel had been published in both the Harry Potter and the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Pierce Brosnan was still doing right by James Bond's brand, but George Clooney and Joel Schumacher had almost destroyed Batman's.

Major films of the fall of 1997 included L.A. Confidential, Soul Food, Kiss the Girls (the first of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels to be made into a film), Seven Years In Tibet, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Gattaca. The new 1997-98 television season saw the debuts of Ally McBeal, Dharma & Greg, and Bear in the Big Blue House.

On the very night that the Indians won the Pennant, Michael Jackson completed his HIStory world tour. Janet Jackson had released The Velvet Rope. Bob Dylan had recently released his album Time Out of Mind, and played a concert in Bologna, Italy, as a Catholic youth rally, headlined not by Dylan but by Pope John Paul II. Within days, Bill Berry would leave R.E.M., ending the group's original lineup. The Bouncing Souls, who made their name in the Rutgers music scene in New Brunswick, New Jersey, released their self-titled debut album. The Number 1 song in America was Elton John's rewrite of "Candle In the Wind" for Princess Diana.

Kim Kardashian was about to turn 17. Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman, Chris Evans and Beyonce were 16. Britney Spears, Prince William (who had just lost his mother), Kate Middleton, Hayley Atwell and Kirsten Dunst were 15. Matt Smith and Anne Hathaway wer 14. Khloe Kardashian and Prince Harry were 13. Lady Gaga was 11, Drake and Emilia Clarke were about to turn 11. Kit Harington was 10. Kevin Jonas and Rihanna were 9. Daniel Radcliffe and Joe Jonas were 8. Emma Watson was 7. Sarah Hyland was 6. Louis Tomlinson, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas were 5. Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Zayn Malik, Ariana Grande, Lyam Payne and Niall Horan were 4. Harry Styles and Justin Bieber were 3. Kendall Jenner was about to turn 2. Maisie Williams was 6 months old, Kyle Jenner 2 months. Ariel Winter, Rico Rodriguez and Nolan Gould weren't born yet.

Mobile telephones were still roughly the size of the communicators on the original Star Trek series. There was America Online and Netscape, but, as yet, less than half of all Americans were Internet users. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no Vine.

In the early autumn of 1997, Wales voted for "devolution" in the United Kingdom, and both they and Scotland formed their own parliaments, to give themselves some autonomy. (Shades of what's going on with Scotland now.) An Islamic-terror massacre in Algeria killed 53 people, and a plane crash in Indonesia killed 235.

Red Skelton, and Roy Lichtenstein, and baseball legend Johnny Vander Meer died. Actress Bella Thorne, and drummer Alex Wolff, and figure skater Leah Keiser were born.

October 15, 1997. The Cleveland Indians won the American League Pennant.

Now, 19 years later, they have done it again. Will they have better luck in the World Series this time? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ten Years After for the Mets

October 19 has been a bad day in the history of New York City baseball, many times. Especially for the Mets.

October 19, 2006, 10 years ago: Game 7 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium. Mets and Cardinals for the Pennant. In the top of the 6th, Met starter Oliver Perez has held the Cards to a 1-1 tie, but Scott Rolen blasts a drive to deep left field. It looks like a 2-run home run, the kind of big-game shot that fans of the losing team will lament for the rest of their lives.

Except Endy Chavez jumps up, reaches over the top of the wall, and snares it. He then fires back to the infield to double Jim Edmonds off 1st and end the threat. Shea erupts in fan noise.

It seemed like one of "these omens in baseball," that historian Doris Kearns Goodwin likes to talk about: The greatest catch made by a Met since Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda in the 1969 World Series; potentially, the most important defensive play made by a Met since the "Ball Off the Wall Play" against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 20, 1973, by Cleon Jones, Wayne Garrett and Ron Hodges.

This was a sign. This was it. This was the Mets' year. And the Yankees had already been eliminated. They're taking New York back. They're taking New York back tonight!

In the top of the 9th, the score still 1-1, the Cards had a man on, and catcher Yadier Molina stepped up against Met reliever Aaron Heilman. If Heilman could just get out of this inning, the Mets would have the meat of their order coming up in the bottom of the 9th. And while Molina is one of the best defensive catchers of our time, he was not, then, regarded as much of a hitter.

But he hits a drive to left, and Chavez can't reach this one. No one can. Home run. Cards 3, Mets 1, and the Mets are down to their last 3 outs.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jose Valentin and Chavez lead off with singles off rookie closer Adam Wainwright. The tying runs are on base, and the Pennant-winning run at the plate, with nobody out. And Shea is buzzing again, as if the Molina homer hadn't happened.

But Wainwright strikes Cliff Floyd out looking, and gets Jose Reyes to fly out. Wainwright walks Paul Lo Duca to bring up Carlos Beltrán with the bases loaded, with the Pennant-winning run on 1st, and 2 men out.

Wainwright throws a curve on the outside corner. Just like Floyd, Beltran never even takes the bat off his shoulder. Strike 3. Ballgame over. Pennant dream over. Mets lose. Theeeeeeee Mets lose.

For the 2nd time, the Cardinals have a Pennant-winning top of the 9th home run. The 1st time was Jack Clark against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS.

This was an absolutely crushing defeat. How could the Mets blow it? After all, they were the best team in baseball, right? Certainly, the 97-win Mets were better than the 83-win Cards, right? Beyond any doubt, the Mets were now the best team in New York, better than the Yankees, right? How could this happen?

It could happen because the Mets choked. Again. The Curse of Kevin Mitchell lives.

No matter, they were a young team. The Cards had the edge of experience: This was their 6th postseason trip in 7 years, and they had won the Pennant just 2 years earlier. This was a step forward for the Mets: As the old saying goes, You have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win. Just as the Mets needed to get close in 1984 and very close in 1985 before they could win it all in 1986, this was something to build on. Surely, they would be back in 2007, and beyond, and would take over New York from the Yankees, and take over baseball...

And, as we've now seen, the potential was there.  The Yankees may have ended up winning the World Series in 2009, but didn't make the Playoffs in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016, blew the ALCS in 2010 and 2012, blew the ALDS in 2011, and blew the AL Wild Card Game in 2015. So the chance to leapfrog the Yankees and "take over New York" ended up being there, if only the Mets could have taken it.

Instead, Game 7 of the '06 NLCS was the last postseason game played at Shea Stadium. They've since won a Pennant, but they're still looking for that 3rd World Championship. And looking. And looking. This game foreshadowed their agonizing collapses that saw them miss the Playoffs on the last day of the season in both 2007 and 2008.

Ironically, the temporary hero Chavez and the permanent goat Heilman would end up being traded away together, the Mets sending them to the Mariners after the 2008 season. And, in October 2013, Carlos Beltran played in the World Series... for the Cardinals.

Today, 10 years later? Molina, now 34 years old, is still with the Cardinals, and has now reached the postseason for the 9th time in his career, has appeared in 7 NLCSes and 4 World Series, winning 2, was an All-Star for 7 straight seasons until this year, has received 7 Gold Gloves, and is generally regarded as the best catcher in baseball.

Beltran, 39, was a Yankee, helping them reach this year's postseason, until Brian Cashman stupidly traded him, and, instead, he helped the Texas Rangers reach the postseason.

Chavez, 38, hasn't played a full season since 2006, hasn't played in the majors since the 2014 Seattle Mariners, and is now with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League.

Heilman, not quite 38, hasn't appeared in a major league game since July 15, 2011. He hasn't thrown a professional pitch since the 2012 Round Rock Express, the Texas Rangers' Triple-A team. He probably won't throw another pitch in official professional baseball (this is where being lefthanded would have really helped him), unless, like Chavez, he can hook up with an "independent league" team and get noticed again that way.

And the Mets? They didn't play another postseason game until last October. An 8-year drought isn't terrible in the grand scheme of things, even in this era when 10 out of 30 teams make the MLB postseason... but, given the Mets' struggles to even be competitive since opening Citi Field in 2009, it felt like a lot longer. It's why their fans have come out of the closet, and put on their ridiculous blue & orange clothes, and have been parading their repulsive lifestyle.


October 19, 1986, 30 years ago: The Red Sox pound Dwight Gooden and 4 Met relievers in a 9-3 win. The Sox have now won the 1st 2 games of the World Series, both at Shea Stadium.

The next 3 – that's if a Game 5 is even necessary – will be at cozy Fenway Park. Suddenly, it looks like the Mets do not, as their arrogant fans believed pretty much since the end of the '85 regular season, have, as their new fight song says, "the teamwork to make the dream work." The dream is dying, and the little green pinball machine in the Back Bay is not a fitting emergency room in which to save its life.

Shocked at the defeat of the "inevitable" World Champion-to-be Mets, the Daily News puts out a next day’s headline of surprise and anger, referencing a food familiar to Bostonians.
Of course, we know how that story ends. Don't we, Sox fans? Don't we????


October 19, 1999: A wild NLCS, just 2 days after Robin Ventura's "Grand Slam Single" won Game 5 at Shea Stadium, moves on to an even wilder Game 6 at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Braves blow Al Leiter off the mound with 5 runs in the 1st inning, and later lead the Mets 7-3.

But the Mets storm back, with Mike Piazza tying the game with a home run. The Braves take an 8-7 lead late, but the Mets tie it. The Mets take a 9-8 lead in the 10th, but the Braves tie it.

In the bottom of the 11th, the Braves load the bases, and Met manager Bobby Valentine, instead of bringing in righthanded reliever Octavio Dotel to pitch to righthanded hitter Andruw Jones, brings in lefthander Kenny Rogers. Rogers has been one of the top pitchers in baseball in regular-season play the last few years, but his postseason experience has been limited to some terrible outings for the Yankees in 1996 and '97. For whatever reason, Valentine brings him in to face the Braves'
kinderwonder from the Netherlands Antilles.

I watched this game on TV with my father, who was a nominal Met fan (the only sports team he really cared about was Rutgers football), and it was this series, with all its twists and turns, that led him to finally understand what lunatics like me see in the game of baseball.

And I remember telling him, late in the game, that this game and this series deserved to end with a hero, and that it would be a shame if it ended with a goat.

Did it end with a hero or a goat? It involved the Mets, so take a wild guess.

With a 3-2 count on Jones, Rogers threw a pitch low and outside. Ball 4. 10-9 Braves. Winning run forced home. Ballgame over. Pennant dream over. Mets lose. Theeeeeeee Mets lose.

If Jones had gotten a hit, to drive home the Pennant-winning run, he would have been a hero, and you couldn't really criticize anyone on the Mets. They had fought gallantly, at moments even brilliantly, from a 3-games-to-none deficit.

Of course, no one had ever come back from such a deficit to win a postseason series. Not in baseball, anyway. None had even forced a Game 7. None had even forced a Game 6 until the Braves themselves did it the year before against the San Diego Padres in the NLCS.

Back from 3-0 to win the series? That was never going to happen in baseball. Everybody who had ever watched baseball was thinking that in October 1999. If only it had stayed that way for 5 more years, plus a couple more days.

Was the goat Rogers, for pitching poorly when his team needed him to get one more out and get out of the 11th-inning jam? Or was the goat Valentine, for yet another dimwitted bullpen move? (Paging Mel Rojas, and that was in a game with far less significance.)

Did this move convince him to leave Leiter in to face Luis Sojo in Game 5 of the next year’s World Series after 141 pitches? Who knows. Bobby V himself probably doesn’t know.

What is known is that the Mets had taken their fans on a thrilling ride, their first October ride in 11 years, and provided them with treasured moments on the ride... and then they crashed. What a way for the Mets and their fans to end the 20th Century.


October 19 has been a bad day for the Yankees, too.

October 19, 1976, 40 years ago: For the 1st time, a World Series game is played at the renovated version of the original Yankee Stadium, the 1st in The Stadium since October 12, 1964. However, as was the case in the Stadium's 1st World Series in 1923, and would be at the new Stadium's 1st Series game in 2009, the premiere is a loss.

Jim Mason hits a home run, the only one the Yankees will hit in the Series. But the Cincinnati Reds tag Dock Ellis for 3 runs in the 2nd inning. Dan Driessen -- officially, the 1st designated hitter in National League history, since this was the 1st time the DH was used in the Series -- hits a home run in the 4th, and the Reds win 6-2, to take a 3 games to 0 lead.

The Reds were well-rested following their National League Championship Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees were physically and emotionally exhausted after their American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals, which went to the last inning of the last game before Chris Chambliss hit the winning home run. The Yankees weren't beaten embarrassingly in any individual game, but they were simply not ready for this Series.

The Reds wrapped up back-to-back titles the next day, and, for only the 2nd (and so far last) time in their history, the Yankees were swept in a World Series. That has never happened to the Mets. Small consolation for them.


October 19, 2004: Game 6 of the ALCS. The Yankees had been 3 outs away from a sweep and the Pennant in Game 4. But the Sox had come from behind in both that game and Game 5 to make it a 3-2 series.

No matter, the series had come back to Yankee Stadium, home of Mystique and Aura and 39 American League Pennants and 26 World Championships. All the Yanks had to do was win tonight, and all those brand-new Sox memories would have been as wasted as Carlton Fisk’s home run that won Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Except Curt Schilling was pitching for the Sox. So badly hurt that he couldn't pitch well in Game 1, he’d had a special surgery on his ankle that allowed him to pitch tonight.

And the Yankees refused to test that ankle by bunting on him. John McGraw would have done it. Casey Stengel would have done it. Earl Weaver (not a New York manager but a crafty one) would have done it. You can be damn sure that Billy Martin would have done it.

Joe Torre didn't do it.  What good is "class" if you lose? Especially to The Scum?

Schilling pitched 7 solid innings, and Mark Bellhorn (cough-steroids-cough) hit a home run. It was a reverse of the Jeffrey Maier play in 1996: The ball hit a front-row fan in the chest and bounced back onto the field. It was an obvious home run, but the umpires ruled it went off the wall. Sox manager
Terry Francona appealed, and the ruling was (sadly, but correctly) changed to a homer.

The Sox still led 4-2 in the bottom of the 8th, but the Yankees got Derek Jeter on 1st. With 1 out, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate.

Now, keep in mind, while he hadn't gotten a key hit that could have won Game 4 or Game 5, he does not yet have the reputation as a player who can't handle the postseason or other clutch situations. And the pitcher is Bronson Arroyo, Captain Cornrows (cough-steroids-cough), whose purpose pitch to A-Rod's back at Fenway back in July led to a nasty brawl.

Alex hits a weak grounder back to the mound, and as Arroyo tries to make the tag just before 1st base, he (or so it first appears) drops the ball. It’s been 18 years (minus 6 days) since the Bill Buckner Game. Now, at another New York ballpark in October, a ball rolls away from 1st base down the right-field line, and a run scores against the Red Sox! It's 4-3 Boston, and A-Rod is on 2nd with the tying run!

The Stadium is going bananas! Red Sox fans are in full "Oh, noooo, not again! It can't be happening again!" mode.

Except this call is reversed as well. It's The Slap Play. A-Rod slapped the ball out of Arroyo's glove. It met baseball's legal definition of interference, and he was called out.

What's more, Jeter was sent back to 1st. That's the part that bothers me, ruling-wise: Jeter had nothing to do with the interference, and he would have had 2nd legitimately even if A-Rod had done nothing out of the ordinary, and Arroyo had been allowed to properly tag him out. It wasn't Jeter's fault: 2nd base was rightfully his, interference or no, even if 3rd and home were not.

This killed the rally, but, as mad as I was at the umpires, A-Rod was rightfully the real target of Yankee Fans' wrath, including my own. This was the beginning of A-Rod's image as "a player who screws the Yankees over in the clutch," and he did not shake it until October 2009. Though he did his damnedest to restore it in the next 3 Octobers, and again in 2015. (So how many bad Octobers does one good October excuse? Apparently, at least 8.)

The Sox held on to win by that same 4-2 score, and the series was tied, the 1st time a Major League Baseball team had ever come back from 3-games-to-none down to force a Game 7.

For the first time since I became aware of the Curse of the Bambino, I believed it was not going to work. As the man who popularized the Curse, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, pointed out, the kinds of things that usually went against the Red Sox and/or in the Yankees favor were now working the other way around.

As bad as the next night was, Game 6 was really the day that any curse, jinx, hex, hoodoo, hammer, whammy, whommy, whatever you want to call it, that the Yankees had over the Red Sox came to an end.

And those of us who are old enough to remember could feel it coming. I had no confidence at all that the Yankees would win Game 7, not even at home, especially with their starting pitching options so messed-up. As the aforementioned Doris Kearns Goodwin,a Brooklyn Dodger fan as a kid but a Red Sox fan since going to Harvard, likes to say, "There's always these omens in baseball." This was an omen to rival Damien Thorn.

Had the Yankees won Game 6, there would have been no Game 7. David Ortiz's "heroics" of Game 4 and Game 5 would have been meaningless, as they were the year before. They would have been no more consequential than Fisk's homer in '75, or Jim Leyritz's Playoff homer against the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 AL Division Series was for us, or Robin Ventura's "Grand Slam Single" for the Mets against the Braves in the 1999 NLCS: Thrilling, but not preventing the ultimate loss of the series. The Yankees would have prepared for the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, and probably won it.

If that had happened, you can be damn sure that the outcry from Red Sox fans (and fans of other teams that hate the Yankees) that, due to the steroid use of A-Rod, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, "The Yankees cheated" and should be stripped of their Pennant and title. And their willing accomplices in the media would have gone along with it. There would have been a cloud over the Yankees, the way there never has been over the Red Sox, who, through Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, were far more reliant on performance-enhancing drugs, and, from 2003 to 2016, the Big Papi Years, probably wouldn't even have made the Playoffs, much less won 3 World Series.

The Yankees wouldn't have gotten away with it, as the Red Sox always have.

Still, having that cloud over us -- which we essentially had put over us anyway -- would have been preferable to the insufferable unearned arrogance of the Boston fans of the last 10 years, especially the bandwagoners.

And I still want the blood on Schilling's sock tested! I think he was using steroids, too!


October 19, 2007: After 12 seasons and 12 Playoff appearances, including 10 AL East titles, 6 Pennants and 4 World Championships, manager Joe Torre rejects the Yankees' new contract offer, which calls for a pay cut.

The non-negotiable offer -- a 1-year, $5 million deal, with $1 million incentives per postseason round and an $8 million option for 2009 if the Yankees reached next year's (2008's) World Series -- was considered by many, including Joe himself, to be insulting, and a ploy to oust the popular manager without upsetting the team's fans.

Joe Girardi would soon be hired as manager. Torre would be signed to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would lead them to the NLCS in 2008 and '09, but lose both times, and he has since retired. Girardi has now led the Yankees to 4 Playoff berths including a World Championship.

Maybe Torre's leaving was for the best.


Now, on to the full list of milestones.

October 19, 1216: King John of England dies in Newark. No, he wasn’t carjacked. This was Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, not Newark-on-Passaic in New Jersey. He died of dysentery, and was not quite 50 years old. One of the least effective and most-hated English monarchs, he is succeeded by his 9-year-old son, Henry (later remembered as King Henry I).

October 19, 1453: In Champions League action, Bordeaux defeats Arsenal, and manager Harry Lancaster is sacked.

Actually, no. The French army retakes Bordeaux, meaning that the only part of France still under English control is the port of Calais.

The Hundred Years War is over, after 115 years. But by no means should England, and King Henry VI in particular, feel relief: Soon, the Wars of the Roses will begin.

October 19, 1469: King Ferdinand II of Aragon marries Queen Isabella I of Castile, uniting Spain. This allows them to complete the Reconquista of Spanish lands from Muslim rulers, reform the Spanish government, reduce crime more than any rulers in Europe, and begin the Age of Exploration.

Unfortunately, it also leads to something no one expected: The Spanish Inquisition. And also the conquest of North and South America, and the enslavement and disease-aided slaughter of their peoples.

October 19, 1781: It took a combined U.S.-French all-star team, but the British are beaten at Yorktown, Virginia. Representatives of British commander Charles, Lord Cornwallis, hand over his sword and formally surrender in person to George Washington and Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau.

The War of the American Revolution is not over, but this is the battle that ends what would, today, be called "major combat operations." The British had the best navy in the world, and along with France 1 of the 2 best armies. But they fought this war as if their commander-in-chief was Harry Redknapp, having some notable successes, but also some major blunders, and running out of money, men and excuses.

Cornwallis himself, later 1st Marquess Cornwallis, got a bum rap because he lost the climactic battle. Before the war, he argued against the Stamp Act in the House of Lords; during it, he won battles at Bound Brook, New Jersey and Brandywine and Germantown (now part of Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. After the war, he served as Governor-General of India, and as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland argued for Catholic emancipation there. So he was actually a pretty good general, and not at all a bad guy.


October 19, 1810: Cassius Marcellus Clay is born in Madison County, Kentucky. A State legislator, and a cousin of legendary Kentucky legislator and 3-time Presidential candidate Henry Clay, he became one of America’s foremost abolitionists and public speakers in the pre-Civil War years.

He would tell his audience, "For those of you who believe in the laws of God, I have this," and reach into a pocket and pull out a Bible. "For those of you who believe in the laws of man, I have this," and reach into a pocket and pull out a booklet containing the text of the Constitution. "And for those of you who believe in neither, I have these," and reach into his pocket and pull out a pair of dueling pistols.

Abraham Lincoln appointed him Ambassador to Russia, gaining support for the Union from Czar Alexander II, and he soon came home and commanded a regiment in the Civil War. He lived until 1903.

The irony is that, when he is remembered at all today, he is remembered as the namesake of someone whose great-grandfather, an emancipated slave, grew up on land owned by Clay. His name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., but he changed it, calling it, of all things, "a slave name." I wonder how much Muhammad Ali actually knew about the original Cassius Clay at the time?

October 19, 1812: CSKA Moscow, the club of the Red Army, defeats Paris Saint-Germain under gaffeur Napoleon Bonaparte.

Actually, Emperor Napoleon I of France retreats from Moscow, establishing the First Rule of European Warfare: Don’t try to invade Moscow if you know it's going to get cold soon.

October 19, 1873: Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Rutgers draft the 1st code of American football rules. At the time, however, "American football" still looked a lot more like soccer than the derivation of rugby it would soon become.

Also on this day, John Barton King is born in Philadelphia. If any American cricket player could have been called great, Bart King was perhaps the last one. From 1893 to 1912, he bowled (pitched) for the Gentlemen of Philadelphian, composed of players from the 4 leading cricket clubs in the Delaware Valley: Germantown, Merion, Belmont and Philadelphia. College players were also invited.

King helped the Philadelphians defeat the Australia national team in Philly in 1893, and toured England with them in 1897, 1903 and 1908. He continued to play until 1916, and lived until 1965. English cricket legend Plum Warner said he would have been far more famous if he had been British or Australian, since, by his era, American had pretty much given up on their interest in cricket.

October 19, 1876, 140 years ago: Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown is born in Nyesville, Indiana. "Centennial" because 1876 was the nation"’s 100th Anniversary. A farm accident as a boy left him with one finger missing and another one mangled and useless.

But that disability became a benefit, as it enabled him to grip a baseball in such a way that he had one of the best curveballs of all time. "Three-Finger" Brown became a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, helping them to 4 Pennants and the 1907 and 1908 World Series, the only 2 they've ever won.

He pitched from 1903 to 1916, and finished with a career record of 239-130, and the lowest career ERA in National League history, 2.06 He lived until 1948, and was elected to the Hall of Fame the next year.

October 19, 1896, 120 years ago: Robert Arthur O’Farrell is born in Waukegan, Illinois. A fine defensive catcher, Bob O'Farrell won the 1926 World Series with the Cardinals, catching Babe Ruth stealing on the final play. (No, the last play was not Grover Cleveland Alexander striking out Tony Lazzeri. That happened in the 7th inning.) He managed them the next year, and also the Reds in 1934, and ran a bowling alley in Waukegan until he died in 1988.


October 19, 1900: Roy Worters (no middle name) is born in Toronto. A star with the New York Americans, he was probably the best goaltender the New York Tri-State Area ever saw, at least until Billy Smith. Yes, that includes Ranger Hall-of-Famers Chuck Rayner, Gump Worsley and Eddie Giacomin.

He won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 1929 – but not the Vezina Trophy as best goalie. That went to George Hainsworth of Montreal. Worters did win the Vezina in 1931. Known as “Shrimp” because he was just 5-foot-3, he came up big many times for the Amerks.

He is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, along with teammates Red Dutton, Lionel Conacher, Billy Burch, Sweeney Schriner and Bullet Joe Simpson – quite a haul of honors for a franchise that only existed for 17 seasons, and made the Playoffs 5 times and never reached the Stanley Cup Finals. They did reach the Semifinals in 1936, and again in '38 after a hernia had ended Worters’ career. He died of throat cancer in 1957.

Also on this day, William Harold Ponsford is born in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy North, Victoria, Australia. Playing cricket from 1916 to 1939, Bill Ponsford would form a strong partnership for Australia with with Bill Woodfull, and later with the young Don Bradman. He lived until 1991.

October 19, 1921: Nils Gunnar Nordahl is born in Hörnefors, Sweden. A striker who dropped his first name, Gunnar Nordahl starred for IFK Norrköping, winning the Swedish league, the Allsvenskan, 4 straight times, 1945 to 1948, including also winning the Swedish Cup -- what the English call "doing The Double" -- in 1945. (Because Sweden was neutral during World War II, the Nazis did not invade, and their league was able to continue.) With his brothers Bertil and Knut, and also Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm, he helped Sweden win the Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics in London.

Italian giants A.C. Milan, bought Gunnar Nordahl, Gren and Liedholm. The 3 Swedes become known as the Gre-No-Li trio, and helped the Rossoneri win Italy's Serie A in 1951 and 1955, plus 4 Coppa Italia, and the Latin Cup -- the closest thing Europe had to the European Cup before 1955 -- in 1951 and 1956. Nordahl was not, however, a member of the Sweden team that reached the Final of the 1958 World Cup on home soil.

He was top scorer in Sweden's league 4 times and in Italy's 5 times. He later managed Italian club AS Roma and several Swedish clubs, and died in 1995, at the age of 73.

October 19, 1923: Citing the unsavory characters associated with the sport‚ American League President Ban Johnson persuades AL owners to prohibit boxing matches in their parks. The National League declines to go along with it. A month earlier, Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo had their wild heavyweight title fight at the Polo Grounds, an NL park.

But the Yankees had already hosted the 1st pro prizefight at Yankee Stadium, with Benny Leonard successfully defending the lightweight title in a unanimous decision against Lew Tendler on July 24.

In July 1927, with Johnson having been forced out of his office due to illness, the Yankees broke his taboo by staging former heavyweight champ Dempsey against future heavyweight champ Jack Sharkey, in between Dempsey's 2 fights against Gene Tunney. The Yankees were not punished, and the ban was listed. This was the last significant fight that Dempsey would win.

October 19, 1924: Louis Zborowski, Count de Montsaulvain, an English-born Polish great-grandson of an Astor who owned a lot of Manhattan real estate and was one of the top early auto racers, is killed when his Mercedes crashes into a tree during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He was just 29 years old.

His father, William Zborowski, the previous Count de Montsaulvain despite having been born in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, was one of the earliest auto racers to be killed in a race crash, at Nice, France in 1903.

October 19, 1943: Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, is isolated by researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey. Rutgers has had a lot of victories in the laboratory. On athletic fields, uh, let me get back to you.

October 19, 1945: One heck of a day to be born. John Arthur Lithgow in Rochester, New York. Great actor, and author of children's books.

Patricia Ireland (no middle name), in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. Longtime President of the National Organization for Women.

Jeannie Carolyn Stephenson in Stamford, Texas. Better known as Jeannie C. Riley, the singer of "Harper Valley P.T.A."

Gloria Richetta Jones in Cincinnati. She recorded the original and still best version of "Tainted Love" in 1965, wrote Gladys Knight's "If I Were Your Woman," and became the girlfriend of English glam-rock singer Marc Bolan, singing backup for his band T-Rex. Unfortunately, she was driving the car when it crashed, killing him on Septembe 16, 1977. She is still alive and performing, as is their son, Rolan Bolan, now 41.

And, in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland, drag queen/actor Harris Glenn Milstead, a.k.a. Divine. As far as I know, though, none had anything to do with sports.

I often find days where 2 famous people were born, or even 3. 4 is very rare. But 5, and I've heard of all of them? That doesn't happen very often.


October 19, 1946, 70 years ago: Princeton beats Rutgers 14-7 at Rutgers Stadium. An attempt to steal the cannon proves even more embarrassing.

Rutgers University is in New Brunswick, in Middlesex County, New Jersey. (The stadium is across the Raritan River, in Piscataway.) Princeton University is in the town of the same name, in Mercer County. They are separated by 17 miles of State Route 27. In 1869, Rutgers beat Princeton in "the first college football game," in New Brunswick, hence Rutgers calls itself "the Birthplace of College Football."

Two cannons were left on the Princeton campus after the War of the American Revolution , although neither of them were used in the Battle of Princeton of January 3, 1777, as is often claimed. "Big Cannon" is located behind Nassau Hall in the center of the quadrangle there, called "Cannon Green," and "Little Cannon" is situated between Whig and Clio Halls. For the War of 1812, Big Cannon was transported to New Brunswick to help defend the city against potential attack by the British, remaining on the Rutgers campus, where it was used for training during and after the American Civil War of 1861-65 by Rutgers cadets, until it was taken back to Princeton in 1875 by the "Princeton Blues," a local militia.

On the night of April 25, 1875, 10 members of the Rutgers Class of 1877 set out to take Big Cannon from Princeton. However, they were unable to move it, so instead they returned to New Brunswick with Little Cannon. Princeton responded with a raid on Rutgers, stealing some muskets, and the presidents of the colleges exchanged polite but demanding correspondence. Eventually, a joint committee settled the matter, and Little Cannon was returned to Princeton, escorted by the New Brunswick Police Chief.

In October 1946, a contingent of Rutgers men slipped onto the Princeton campus and again tried to steal the famed cannon. This attempt was even more disastrous than the first. They attached one end of a heavy chain to the cannon and the other to their Ford. Surprised by Princeton students and the police, they gunned the engine of the car so hard that the car was torn in half. The Rutgers students managed to escape, but with neither the car nor the cannon.

On the eve of the annual Rutgers-Princeton game in the Autumn of 1971, the cannon was apparently "stolen" again. A 5-foot-deep hole was found where the cannon sat. Campus police were baffled that the cannon had been taken, given its extreme weight. After crime photos were taken, it appears that a hole had simply been dug next to Big Cannon and the dirt from the hole used to bury it. Reports appeared in both the Rutgers Targum as well as the New Jersey and Princeton papers.

The cannon at Princeton is routinely painted red by Rutgers students, particularly in the week leading to Rutgers commencement, as well as on other notable Rutgers dates. In November 2011, a group of Rutgers students who went to paint the cannon in Princeton brought a video camera with them and made a documentary about the tradition. The footage became part of a larger project about the history of the Cannon War and its perception in the minds of current students today. The film, "Knights, Tigers, and Cannons. Oh My!", by Zack Morrison,  premiered at the New Jersey Film Festival in September 2012, and won the award for Best Student Film.


October 19, 1949: Three weeks after acquiring shortstop Chico Carrasquel from the Brooklyn Dodgers organization for cash and 2 minor leaguers‚ the Chicago White Sox all but steal 2nd baseman Nellie Fox from the Philadelphia Athletics for catcher Joe Tipton.

Carrasquel was not the 1st good shortstop to get stuck behind Pee Wee Reese in Brooklyn, nor the last, but he might have been the best. And if the A's had hung onto Fox, who knows, maybe they would have been the team that stayed in Philly, and the Phillies would have been the team that moved.

(When I first wrote this, I was forgetting the money situation: Connie Mack and his sons were bankrupt, while the Phillies were owned by Bob Carpenter, a member of both the Carpenter family and the DuPont family, both of whom essentially had unlimited resources. Once he got control of the Phils, the A's were doomed in Philadelphia.)

Also on this day, Clifford Lynn Dickey is born in Osawotamie, Kansas. He would have sounded a lot better playing football as "Cliff Dickey." Instead, he went by "Lynn Dickey." Still, he is probably still the best-known player in Kansas State's football history, and was named the all-time quarterback in Big Eight history when that league evolved into the Big Twelve. He and his successor at KSU, Steve Grogan, are the only KSU players to have their number retired – both wore Number 11.

He went on to play for the Houston Oilers and Green Bay Packers, helping the Packers to the 1982 NFC Central Division Title; famously outdueling Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins in the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever, a 48-47 win in 1983; and steering the Pack through the biggest snowfall in NFL history, 15 inches, in a 21-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985. He now hosts a sports-talk show on a Kansas City radio station.


October 19 1953: Lionel Eugene Hollins is born in Arkansas City, Kansas. A dazzling guard with the Portland Trail Blazers, he helped them win the 1977 NBA Championship. They have retired his Number 14. He is now the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

October 19, 1954: Samuel Allardyce (no middle name) is born in Dudley, West Midlands, England. Big Sam – or Fat Sam, as those of us who don't like him, those of us with taste, call him – is best known for both playing for, and later managing, Bolton Wanderers in the English Football League.

A centreback, he played for Bolton, Sunderland, Millwall, in the North American Soccer League for the 1983 Tampa Bay Rowdies, Coventry City, Huddersfield Town, Bolton again, Preston North End, West Bromwich Albion, Limerick in Ireland, and Preston again. In 21 years as a player, he won the 2nd division with Bolton in 1978, and promotion from the 4th to the 3rd division with Preston in 1987. That's it.

He's managed Limerick (player-manager), Preston (player-manager), Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United, and Sunderland. In 25 years as a manager, he's won the League of Ireland First Division with Limerick in 1992, the Football League Third Division (then the name of England's 4th division) in 1998, promotion with Bolton in 2001, and promotion with West Ham in 2012. But in 45 years of playing and managing in England, his number of major trophies won is exactly zero.

And yet, he's the greatest manager the England national team has ever had. He had a perfect record. He won 1, drew none, and lost none. He was hired on July 22, 2016, managed his 1st game on September 4, seemed doomed to a 0-0 draw with considerably weaker Slovakia in a 2018 World Cup Qualifier before Liverpool's Adam Lallana scored in stoppage time... and was fired on September 27, when he was caught on tape admitting to corruption, something he'd been investigated for before.

He was England manager for 67 days, and is currently unemployed -- perhaps unemployable. The truth is, he was completely unqualified to be England manager in the first place. His only qualifications seemed to be that he is English, and the English media and fans loved him. It remains to be seen if he will be forgiven. His son Craig Allardyce also played and managed in England, and is now a players' agent.

Also on this day, Joseph Washington Bryant is born in Philadelphia. Joe was an All-Star with his hometown 76ers, known as "Jellybean." He went on to coach the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, and has also coached pro teams in Japan and Thailand.

He married Pam Cox, sister of fellow Philadelphian and former Washington Bullet John "Chubby" Cox. The Bryants are still together, and had 2 daughters, Sharia and Shaya, and a son, Kobe -- so named because Joe had played in the Japanese city with that name. Most people would argue that Jellybean Bryant's greatest contribution to basketball is Kobe Bryant.

October 19, 1956, 60 years ago: Bruce Weber is born in Milwaukee. He coached the basketball team at -- no, not Weber State -- the University of Southern Illinois into the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, and led the University of Illinois to 2 Big Ten Championships and a trip to the 2005 National Championship Game, being named National Coach of the Year. He is now the head coach at Kansas State.

Ironically, as an athlete, he played baseball at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but was cut from their basketball team.


October 19, 1960: Two of the biggest stars in college basketball play their professional debuts, against each other, at the Cincinnati Gardens, launching 2 of the greatest careers in NBA history. Oddly, both are outshone by established teammates.

Jerry West of Cabin Creek, West Virginia and West Virginia University scores 20 points, but his teammate Elgin Baylor leads all players with 35. Oscar Robertson of Indianapolis and the University of Cincinnati scores 21 points, but Jack Twyman scores 30. Robertson's Cincinnati Royals defeat West's Los Angeles Lakers, 140-123.

This is also the Lakers' 1st game representing Los Angeles, after spending 13 seasons in Minneapolis, where they won 5 NBA Championships. They will make their home debut 5 nights later.

October 19, 1962: Evander Holyfield (no middle name) is born in Atmore, Alabama. He's hardly without his flaws, but this Heavyweight Champion of the World did boxing a huge favor by exposing Mike Tyson as what he is: A punk and a coward who could dish it out (as well as anybody ever has) but couldn't take it.

He's the only man to win the Heavyweight Title 5 times. He's also the only man to knock down, let alone the only one ever to defeat, Riddick Bowe, although he only won 1 of their 3 fights.

October 19, 1963: After 14 seasons as the Syracuse Nationals, the Philadelphia 76ers make their home debut, taking the place of the Warriors, who moved to San Francisco the year before. It doesn't go so well: Despite 31 points from Lee Shaffer and 24 from Chet "the Jet" Walker, they lose to the Detroit Pistons, 124-121 at the Convention Hall of the Philadelphia Civic Center.

October 19, 1964: Fred Hutchinson dies of cancer. The manager of the Cincinnati Reds was only 45. The team had made a great run down the stretch to try to win him a Pennant, but fell 1 game short of the Cardinals.

Hutch and the Reds had won the Pennant in 1961, beating out the Milwaukee Braves, before falling to the Yankees in the World Series, the only one Cincinnati hosted in a 30-year stretch. Ironically, the last time the Reds had won the Pennant, in 1940, they beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, a team which featured Hutch as a pitcher. He had a 95-71 career record, a 3.73 ERA, a 113 ERA+, a 1.281 WHIP, and was an All-Star in 1951.

The Reds retired his Number 1. The next season, Major League Baseball began presenting the Hutch Award, to the active player who "best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson by persevering through adversity." The inaugural winner was Mickey Mantle. Other winners connected with the Yankees have been Joe Torre, Tommy John, Jim Abbott, David Cone, Jason Giambi, John Olerud and Raul Ibanez -- but only Mantle and Cone were Yankee players when they received the award. No player then with the Mets has ever received it, although it has been awarded to Torre, Olerud and Ray Knight while with other teams. The current holder is Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals.

October 19, 1965: The Mets purchase Jerry Grote from the Houston Astros. He will be the starting catcher on their 1969 World Championship and 1973 Pennant teams. Late in the 1977 season, he will be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and win the 1977 and 1978 Pennants with them.

Only 4 men have been starting catchers on Met teams that reached the World Series: Grote, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza and Travis d'Arnaud; and only Grote and Carter have helped them go all the way. Grote is the only one who got them into 2 World Series.

In fact, from 1969 to 1977, both starting catchers for New York’s baseball teams, Grote and Thurman Munson, wore Number 15. And, between Elston Howard's 32 in 1962 and Carter's 8 in 1986, no New York team won a World Series without a Number 15 behind the plate.

Also on this day, Bradley Lee Daugherty is born in Black Mountain, North Carolina. A star at the University of North Carolina, Brad Daugherty was widely expected to be the top pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. The Philadelphia 76ers held that pick. Then, in one of the biggest bonehead trades in NBA history, Sixers owner Harold Katz traded that pick, and thus Daugherty, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Roy Hinson and cash.

Hinson is one of the best basketball players ever to come out of Central Jersey (Somerset County's Franklin High School), and was a star at Rutgers. At the time, there was nothing wrong with wanting a healthy Roy Hinson on your team. Indeed, he'd just had his best season. But giving up Daugherty was a mistake, and the Sixers only kept Hinson for another 2 years anyway, sending him to his home-State New Jersey Nets, for whom he played 3 seasons before retiring in 1991.

The Sixers also traded Moses Malone that day, so they traded a Hall of Fame center, who had only gotten them the 1 NBA Championship the franchise has now won in the last 49 seasons, and a guy who would have been an ideal successor as Malone aged.

Daugherty became the Cavs' all-time leading scorer and all-time leading rebounder, distinctions he held until 2008, when those totals were surpassed, respectively, by LeBron James and Žydrūnas Ilgauskas. They never won a title with him, though, only getting as far as the 1992 Eastern Conference Finals.

A back injury cut short his career, but he was a 5-time All-Star, the Cavs retired his Number 43, and he was a unanimous choice among fans as the center on the Cavs' 25th, 30th and 40th Anniversary All-Time Teams. He would also be named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men's basketball team in 2002 and inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

He has run several businesses, made a fortune above and beyond his basketball salaries, and works for ESPN as an analyst for college basketball and NASCAR. Yes, a black man announcing for NASCAR. He loves it. He may be black, but he's also from North Carolina. He even sponsored a racing team before joining the ESPN NASCAR broadcast crew. (He had to sell the team to avoid a conflict of interest.) The reason he wore 43 was in tribute to the number on the car of the man he calls "my favorite sportsman," North Carolina’s own Richard Petty.

October 19, 1966, 50 years ago: Bobby Orr makes his NHL debut. He wears Number 27 and a crew cut, before receiving his more familiar Number 4 the next season and letting his hair grow out into the more familiar hairstyle. He collects an assist, and the Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings, 6-2 at the Boston Garden.

October 19, 1967: Four years to the day after Philadelphia's current basketball team made its home debut, its hockey team does the same. There are notable differences: With the 76ers, it was at the classic Civic Center, and they lost; with the Flyers, it was at the brand-new Spectrum, and despite being an expansion team, they won.

At 2:59 into the 3rd period, Bill Sutherland puts the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Les Binkley, and the Flyers have a 1-0 win over their fellow "Second Six" Pennsylvanians. When they won their 1st Stanley Cup, on May 19, 1974, it would also be at The Spectrum, and it would also be 1-0, over the Boston Bruins.


October 19, 1972: Keith Charles Foulke is born at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder, South Dakota, and grows up in Huffman, Texas, outside Houston. He was the closer who got the final out of the 2004 World Series * for the Boston Red Sox, a bouncer up the middle from Edgar Renteria of the St. Louis Cardinals, which Foulke caught and tossed to 1st baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.

He previously reached the postseason with the Chicago White Sox in 2000 and the Oakland Athletics in 2003, that time losing an ALDS to the Red Sox. Knowing how their bullpen had failed them that year, the Red Sox signed him. He is now retired.

October 19, 1973: Okan Buruk is born in Istanbul, Turkey. Despite being only 5-foot-6 1/2 inches, the midfielder won the Turkish Süper Lig 7 times with hometown club Galatasaray between 1993 and 2008. He also won the UEFA Cup (the tournament now known as the UEFA Europa League) with them in 2000, defeating Arsenal on penalty kicks after a scoreless match. (He did not take any of their penalties. It was the 1st time a Turkish club had won a European trophy, and with the Süper Lig and the Turkish Cup, it made for a European Treble for Gala. That team also featured Brazilian goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel, who almost singlehandedly kept Gala in the game; and Romanian star Gheorghe Hagi and Gheorghe Popsecu.

He helped Turkey reach the Quarterfinal of Euro 2000 and 3rd place at the 2002 World Cup. He now manages Turkish club Göztepe SK.

October 19, 1975: During a break in the World Series, The Boston Globe uses aerial photography to measure the exact distance from home plate to the foul pole at the left-field wall at Fenway Park, a.k.a. the Green Monster. Since the 1934 renovation, the distance has been posted as a perilously close 315 feet. The recent trend of posting fence distances in the metric system led to a second posting of 96 meters. But hardly anybody believes the 315/96 figure: Most fans think it’s closer, maybe even considerably closer.

A man who'd studied aerial photos taken from World War II reconnaissance planes, to prepare for missions bombing the photographed targets later, decides that the distance is exactly 304.779 feet. That’s 304 feet, 9.3 inches. More than 10 feet shorter than it has been officially alleged to be. Art Keefe and writer George Sullivan measure it later in the month at 309 feet‚ 4 inches.

In 1990, the Red Sox finally conceded that it wasn't 315 feet. The Wall was relabeled as 310 feet, or 94.5 meters. I wonder who Ted Williams believed. After all, he not only had to play that Wall as the Sox' longtime left fielder, but had been, himself, a pilot in World War II (and the Korean War), and was noted for his fine eyesight. I'll bet he didn't buy the 315 figure or the 310 one.

October 19, 1976, 40 years ago: Michael Brian Young is born in Covina, Orange County, California. The 3rd baseman for the Texas Rangers won the 2005 American League batting title, won the MVP award of the 2006 All-Star Game, and drove in the winning run at the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. He helped he Rangers win their 1st 2 Pennants, but not a World Series.

He began to decline in 2012, was traded twice, and retired before the 2014 season. He is the Rangers' all-time hits leader. He now runs a charity fighting childhood cancer.

Also on this day, Paul James Hartley is born in Hamilton, Scotland. The midfielder began his soccer career with his hometown team, Hamilton Academical (a.k.a. the Accies), helped Edinburgh's Hibernian (a.k.a. Hibs) get promoted to the Scottish top flight in 1999, helped the other Edinburgh team, Heart of Midlothian (a.k.a. Hearts), win the Scottish Cup in 2006, and with Glasgow's Celtic won the League in 2007 and 2008, making it a League and Cup double in 2007. He is now the manager at Dundee F.C.

October 19, 1977: For the 1st time -- the one in 1962 doesn't count, since it was 6 months after a title, and only happened because the Mets got one for merely existing and it would have been stupid not to give the Yankees one -- the Yankees get a ticker-tape parade for winning the World Series.

How the Yankees, and the fans, got up and out to the parade site mere hours after their title win, I don't know.

Also on this day, Raúl Tamudo Montero is born in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Catalonia, Spain. A striker, he starred for Espanyol, the "other club" in Barcelona, serving as longtime Captain and winning the Copa del Ray (King's Cup, Spain's answer to the FA Cup) in 2000 and 2006, and helping them reach the UEFA Cup Final in 2007.

Despite being the club's all-time leading scorer, Raúl Tamudo fell out with Espanyol in 2010, and bounced around Spain's La Liga as his injuries mounted. He retired last year.

October 19, 1978: The Yankees get another ticker-tape parade. At least this time, since they had to fly back from Los Angeles, there was a day's rest in between.

Also on this day, the Chicago White Sox fire Larry Doby‚ naming Don Kessinger as player-manager for the 1979 season. Kessinger will not work out, and will be fired the following June. The former All-Star shortstop with the Cubs then retires as a player. There has never been another player-manager in the AL, and only Pete Rose has been one in the NL.

Also on this day, Ruslan Shamilevich Chagaev is born in Andijan, Uzbekistan, then part of the Soviet Union. From April 14, 2007 to July 24 of this year, he was recognized as Heavyweight Champion of the World by the World Boxing Association. 

He continued to be recognized as Champion by the WBA despite losing a bout where he challenged Nikolai Valuev for the title that was recognized by the International Boxing Federation (IBF), International Boxing Organization (IBO), and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). But last year, the WBA dropped its recognition of Chagaev.


October 19, 1980: José Antonio Bautista Santos is born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The right fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays has been an All-Star 6 times, led the AL in home runs in 2010 and '11, has 308 career home runs, and led the Jays to the AL East title last season and the Wild Card and the ALCS this season.

José Antonio Bautista, a.k.a. "Joey Bats," is only the 2nd MLB player to follow me on Twitter, after Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana. I don't know why: I'm certainly not a fan of his.

Also on this day, Rajai Lavae Davis is born in Norwich, Connecticut, and grows up in nearby New London. An outfielder (mainly but not exclusively center field), he has a .269 lifetime batting average and 322 career stolen bases, peaking at 50 with the 2010 A's.

He and Bautista were teammates on the Jays in 2011, '12 and '13. He reached his 1st postseason appearance with the Detroit Tigers last year. He is now with the Cleveland Indians, and, a few minutes before I typed this, they beat Bautista's Jays in Game 5 of the ALCS, to win the Indians' 6th AL Pennant.

October 19, 1981: Game 5 of the NLCS. Rick Monday hits a solo home run with 2 out in the top of the 9th against Montreal's Steve Rogers, to give Los Angeles a 2-1 victory and a trip to the World Series.

The loss becomes known as Blue Monday, due to having been played in bitterly cold conditions in Montreal (the roof hadn’t been finished yet), the Dodgers’ uniforms being blue, and the day being a very sad (a.k.a. "blue") one for baseball fans in Quebec.

The Expos were within 1 run of reaching the World Series. They would never find that run. In fact, they would never play another postseason game before being moved out of town after the 2004 season. The story of that team is one of dashed hopes and awful losses, including, ultimately, the loss to the fans of the team itself.

October 19, 1982: Gonzalo Pineda Reyes is born in Mexico City. The midfielder led Pumas, the soccer team sponsored by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (a.k.a. UNAM) to the 2004 League title, and Guadalajara to the League title in 2006.

Gonzalo Pineda now plays for the Seattle Sounders. In 2014, he led them to 1st place overall in Major League Soccer (the Supporters' Shield), and the national cup (the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup). In any other country, this would be called "doing The Double." In MLS, all it means is that your team gets the top overall seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs, and the Sounders did not win the MLS Cup.

Also on this day, Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen is born in Mossel Bay, South Africa. Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 British Open, and finished 2nd in the 2012 Masters.

October 19, 1985: Game 1 of the World Series at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, with the Cardinals facing their cross-State rivals, the Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals win Game 1 of the "Show-Me Series" or the "I-70 Series," 3-1, behind ace John Tudor.

Governor John Ashcroft of Missouri shows up, wearing half a red Cardinals jacket and half a blue Royals jacket sewn together. Bipartisanship may not have been something he liked in politics, but if it would win him votes in the Show-Me State, then he would show the voters. He would later be elected to the U.S. Senate, and was George W. Bush's 1st U.S. Attorney General.

October 19, 1989: Miroslav Stoch is born in Nitra, Slovakia. A winger, he won national cups with England's Chelsea in 2009 and Turkey's Fenerbahçe in 2012 and '13; and national leagues with the Netherlands' Twente Enschede in 2010, Fenerbahçe in 201, and the United Arab Emirates' Al Ain in 2015. He is now back with Fenerbahçe.


October 19, 1990: The Oakland Athetics were predicted to sweep the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Now, it looks like it will be the other way around. The Reds take Game 3 in Oakland, 8-3, thanks to 2 home runs by Chris Sabo and the pitching of Tom Browning.

October 19, 1991: Game 1 of the World Series. The Minnesota Twins do not lose postseason games at the Metrodome. (At least, not until they start playing the Yankees there.) Greg Gagne and Kent Hrbek hit home runs to back Jack Morris, and the Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2.

October 19, 1993: Game 3 of the World Series. Playing at Veterans Stadium doesn't help the Philadelphia Phillies, as the Toronto Blue Jays pound them 10-3. Paul Molitor hit a home run.

October 19, 1997: Game 2 of the World Series. Thanks to a home run from Sandy Alomar Jr. (who becomes a rare player to have hit home runs in the All-Star Game and the World Series in the same year -- even rarer, in the same stadium, Jacobs Field), and the pitching of Chad Ogea, the Cleveland Indians beat the Florida Marlins 6-1, and even up the Series.

October 19, 2002: An All-California World Series begins at the ballpark then known as Edison International Field of Anaheim. It is the 1st Series in 13 years for the San Francisco Giants, the 1st ever in 42 seasons of play for the team then officially known as the Anaheim Angels.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo becomes the 1st Japanese-born player to appear in the World Series, beating Yankee Hideki Matsui by 1 year. The Giant designated hitter goes 1-for-3 in the 4-3 victory over the Angels.

This is the 1st time the Giants have had a lead in games in a World Series since October 3, 1954 -- the 1st time ever in San Francisco. They never led the Yankees in 1962, and got swept by the A's in 1989. Is this a good sign? As it turned out, no.

October 19, 2003: The Yankees bounce back behind Andy Pettitte to tie the World Series at 1 game apiece, with a 6-1 triumph over the Florida Marlins in Game 2. Matsui's 3-run homer in the 1st inning is all Pettitte needs. Alfonso Soriano also homers. Mark Redman takes the loss for the Marlins.

Nobody knows it at the time, and it would seem truly shocking to those fans still on a high after the Aaron Boone homer 3 days earlier, but this is the last World Series game the Yankees would ever win at the House That Ruth Built.

October 19, 2005: The Houston Astros clinch the first Pennant in their 44-season history, as they defeat the St. Louis Cardinals‚ 5-1‚ to win the NLCS 4-games-to-2. Roy Oswalt gets the victory for Houston, while Jason Lane hits a home run. Oswalt is named the series MVP for his 2 victories.

This was the 1st major league Pennant ever won by a Texas-based team. Texas League Pennants had been won by the Houston Buffaloes 17 times between 1889 and 1957, 11 by teams from Dallas and 12 by teams from Fort Worth. But this was the 1st at the major league level.

It was also the last sporting event ever held at Busch Memorial Stadium in its 40 seasons of operation. It had hosted the baseball Cardinals since 1966, the football Cardinals from 1966 to 1987, the Rams for 3 games before their dome opened in 1995, and a few short-lived pro soccer teams.

October 19, 2008: Behind the solid performance of starter Matt Garza and the stellar relief work of rookie David Price to finish the game, which included striking out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded to end the 8th, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the defending World Champion * Red Sox, 3-1, in the decisive Game 7 of the ALCS, to win their 1st Pennant.

After posting the worst record in baseball in the preceding season, the Rays advance to the World Series, and will host the Phillies in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Tropicana Field.

This was the 1st major league Pennant won by a team in the Tampa Bay region. Florida State League Pennants had been won by teams from Tampa 5 times and St. Petersburgy 7 times.

October 19, 2009: Game 3 of the ALCS at Angel Stadium. The Yankees hit 4 home runs against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Derek Jeter to lead off the game, Alex Rodriguez to continue his postseason hot streak, Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada. The problem is, they're all solo home runs.

Howie Kendrick hit a solo homer off Andy Pettitte in the 5th inning, and Vladimir Guerrero hit a 2-run shot in the 6th. Posada's homer tied it in the 8th. The Angels loaded the bases with 1 out in the 10th, but Mariano Rivera got out of it.

In the 11th, David Robertson got the 1st 2 outs. Then Joe Girardi looked into his binder, and decided to remove Girardi for Alfredo Aceves. Aceves had been one of the Yankees' bullpen heroes that season. Not this time: He gives up single to Kendrick and an RBI double to Jeff Mathis. Angels 5, Yankees 4.

Aceves had also given up a go-ahead run in the 11th inning of Game 2, which had been erased by an A-Rod homer. This time, he doesn't get away with it. The winning pitcher is the aforementioned Ervin Santana.


October 19, 2010: The Yankees pay tribute to Freddy Schuman, a fan favorite at the ballpark since 1988 due to his signs and the rhythmic banging of a spoon against a skillet, by putting some of his memorabilia inside Gate 4 at the Stadium, and with a moment of silence prior to Game 4 of the ALCS.

The fans also show their appreciation of 85-year old iconic "Freddy Sez" when they photograph friends banging his displayed pan, and with their chanting of "Fred-dy! Fred-dy!" during the contest against the Rangers.

The Yankees blow a 3-2 lead, and lose 10-3. The Rangers have now blown the Yankees out 3 games in a row, and are 1 win away from the 1st Pennant in their 39-season history.

October 19, 2014: The only recrimination from the Yankees' failure to reach the Playoffs 2 seasons in a row is the firing of hitting instructor Kevin Long. It's like working in the shoe department of a department store (as I have), being in the stockroom, and waiting for an entire rack of shoes to drop.

October 19, 2016: There are, as yet, no recriminations from the Yankees' blowing a shot at the Playoffs. Field manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman still have their jobs. Why?