Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown: Thanksgiving Doubleheader
SWEET SIXTEEN PLAYOFFS:
ROUND TWO, NATIONAL LEAGUE: PIRATES VS PHILS
This is the ninth in a series of reports on a simulated playoff of the sixteen “original franchise” teams. The results of the first-round American League “brackets” are in NOTES 459-461. The first results of the NL brackets are in #462-464. See NOTES #459 for the background and “ground rules.” In the AL playoffs among the “Elite Eight,” the Tigers and Indians won and moved on into the Final Four. Here is the next NL round.
GAME ONE, AT CONNIE MACK STADIUM
To get to the second round, the top-seeded Phils handled the all-time Braves in five games; the Pirates squeezed past the all-time Giants in seven. In the opener of this series, the Phils sent out ace Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was tagged with the Phils’ only loss in the first round. The Pirates countered with Howie Camnitz, also 0-1 in the tournament.
The game began with an expected bang, a leadoff homer by the Phils’ Slidin’ Billy Hamilton, in the bottom of the first. Camnitz walked and hit a batter, but escaped the first without further damage. Then he settled in, allowing just three singles over the next seven innings.
Meanwhile, the Pirates were hitless against Old Pete Alexander, who ended the third inning by fanning Oscar Charlton and Honus Wagner. But in the top of the fourth, with one out, Mule Suttle singled, stole second, and Paul Waner doubled to tie the game at 1-1. Dave Parker followed with a long HR to right center, and the Bucs were up, 3-1. In the bottom of the 4th, a single by Dick Allen, and a two-out single by King Richard Lundy made it 3-2.
And that is where the score remained going into the bottom of the ninth. Lundy’s hit was the last one Camnitz allowed, and the Phils had not gotten another runner to second base. But Mike Schmidt opened the ninth with a walk, and pinch-hitter Richie Ashburn, up to bunt, was walked, too. Kent Tekulve took over from Camnitz, and fanned Lundy, then got pinch-hitter Popeye Harris to ground out. With first base open, Billy Hamilton was given an intentional pass, to load the bases and set up a force at any base. Teke faced Big Ed Delahanty, who was 0-for-3 with a walk. Then Del crushed one out of the park, a two-out grand slam, giving the Phils a 6-3 win. The victory went to Tug McGraw, who had held the Pirates hitless after coming on in the 8th to snuff out a two-on, one-out threat. Just five hits for the Phils, but the two deadball HRs were enough.
GAME TWO, AT CONNIE MACK STADIUM
Vern Law, 0-2 the first round, squared off with Steve Carlton, 0-0. In the home first, yesterday’s hero Ed Delahanty singled with one out, and rode home on Chuck Klein’s dinger, 2-0 Phils. The Pirates got one back on Paul Waner’s triple and a sac fly. But that was as close as they got.
Delahanty’s single in the third set up two more runs, Sam Thompson’s single driving them in, 4-1. In the 5th, after Hamilton drew his second walk, Delahanty doubled him home — Del’s 4th straight hit in two games. Thompson followed with a double and Mike Schmidt’s HR ended the scoring, putting the home team on top 8-1.
The Pirates tried to make it a game, finally getting to Carlton in the 6th. Honus Wagner doubled and Clemente singled him in. With two out, Arky Vaughan connected, 8-4. But the Phils got the only other runs of the day, in their sixth, on a single by Spud Davis, another walk to Hamilton, and a two-run triple by — you guessed it — Big Ed Delahanty. 10-4 was the final. Up again in the 8th with a shot at the cycle — he also stole two bases — Delahanty could only manage a double, for a neat 5-for-5. The Phils were now up 2-0.
GAME THREE, AT FORBES FIELD
Robin Roberts, a fellow I saw pitch more than a few times at Forbes Field (1957-61, Phils’ tickets were easy to get), faced off in Game Three with John Candelaria. Neither pitcher had a decision in the first round.
And both were sharp this game. After allowing a first-inning single to Ed Delahanty — his seventh straight hit over three games — the Candy Man settled down, fanning thompson and Allen, and not allowing another hit over the next seven innings.
Robin Roberts was not as stingy, but eight singles that he allowed this day were scattered. One in the second inning by Pie Traynor gave the Bucs a 1-0 lead. Another, by Suttles in the fifth, plated Charleston and Wagner, 3-0. And that’s where it stood as Candelaria started the ninth inning.
Billy Hamilton started the inning by flying out, a rare 0-for-4, no-walks outing. But Delahanty drew his second walk of the day, and Sam Thompson followed with a single. Chuck Klein then got the Phils’ third hit, a long triple to the batting cage in center, and it was 3-2. Ashburn pinch-ran for Klein, and that turned out to make a difference, when Dick Allen’s fly to Dave Parker in left went for a sac fly to tie the game.
Roberts started the ninth by retiring Pie Traynor, making it six straight Bucs down and 10 of 11. Then Jason Kendall singled. (Kendall was catching because Smoky Burgess was injured in the first round, and missed the entire series with the Phils.) Oscar Charleston grounded to short, forcing Kendall, who was injured sliding — he’d miss the next game. Then, the unimaginable happened. Robin Roberts proceeded to walk Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Mule Suttles, three in a row, to force in the winning run, 4-3, and the Pirates were back in the series.
[This is an aside to those familiar with APBA — others may skip it and go right to Game Four. As you know, pitchers in APBA are not just graded D to A (with AC, AB, ABC possible); they are also rated for control, from W (wild) to Z (good control), and over a season, sure enough, the W’s will walk a lot more than pitchers without a W, and the Z’s will issue fewer bases on balls. In the cards I’m using, a certain few pitchers have a ZZ rating — Robin Roberts happens to be one of them. But the game boards have no explanation for the ZZ, and so the extra Z has been meaningless — to me. But I have been pondering ways to give the ZZ pitchers their due, adding some rules so that they would walk fewer batters than the Z’s. In fact, I was pondering that during this game, as Roberts walk four batters going into the ninth. How to explain his burst of wildness at the end? Well, that was due to a roll of the dice, with Honus at bat, that sent me to the “Unusual Plays” chart, that indicated 3 straight walks. I was very tempted to over-rule that result — as all-powerful Commissioner and baseball god (kinda like Judge Landis), I can do such stuff, when and if something happens which is just too bizarre — eg, Smoky Burgess stealing third and then home. But I let this go, figuring that Roberts was in a high-pressure, sudden death situation, pitching extra-carefully to three very tough batters, fans going nuts, each walk featuring very close calls and a number of foul balls. In other words, maybe Roberts never walked three in a row in his career, but in this situation, it could happen. Sorry, Robin.]
GAME FOUR, AT FORBES FIELD
Alexander and Camnitz in a rematch of Game One, and both pitchers started out like gangbusters. Camnitz allowed just one walk in the first three innings, and that runner was erased on a DP. After a leadoff double by Oscar Charleton and a walk to Wagner, Alex retired 7 stright (aided by a DP), so it was 0-0 after three. But what looked like a great pitching duel soon turned ugly. It was as if the Phils decided that no last-inning fluke calls would decide this one. In the top of the fourth, Hamilton singled and stole second and scored on Thompson’s long triple. Chuck Klein’s double gave the Phils a 2-0 lead.
They stretched it to 6-0 in the 4th. Spud Davis double, Hamilton walked, and Ed Delahanty doubled them around. Doubles by Thompson and Klein followed, making it 6-0 and chasing Camnitz. In the Pirate fifth, the home team lost their chance to get back in this one. Traynor singled, stole second, and catcher Hal Smith knocked him in. But Smith was picked off first — right before Charleston’s triple. Wagner walked, but Dave Parker, who could have made it 6-4 with a long ball, hit into a DP. 6-1.
In the top of the 7th, more disaster. Roy Face started the inning with three straight walks. [See above, the comment after Game Three — there are nearly 60 different “Unusual Plays” possible, but there will be no more than one per game; the “three walks” just happened to hit again, against all odds.] Dick Allen made him pay, with a 3-run triple, and Allen came home on Cy Williams’ single, making it 10-1.
Hal Smith’s solo HR off Alexander was hollow, 10-2. And the Phils were still feasting on the Pirate bullpen. Two more in the 8th (Thompson’s second triple the big hit — Sam also had a double, single & walk), and five more in the ninth, when the Phils batted around and got seven more hits, Granny Hamner’s leadoff double and six cutting singles. The inning mercifully ended when Chuck Klein was gunned down by Clemente trying to go to third on the Phis’ twentieth hit of the game.
The Pirates managed a run in their eighth and another in the ninth — Arky Vaughan a solo HR off Turk Farrell, so the final was 17-4. Amazingly, the Phils had no home runs. But the Pirates had no pitching. And now the Phils were up 3-1 in games.
GAME FIVE, AT FORBES FIELD
Steve Carlton, whp pitched well in and weon Game Two, would try to clinch it for the Phils. Deacon Phillippe would try to stop him. As it turned out, that Unusual Plays chart would be a factor again. (It is not always a factor, whole series can be played without any reference to it.)
The Phils jumped on the Deacon in the first. Hamilton walked (he had eight in the series), and Ed Delahanty — clearly the Phils’ MVP this time around — beat out an infield hit. Thompson grounded into a double-play, but Klein followed with an RBI single and Dick Allen, held to two hits over the first four games, clouted one over the scoreboard in left, to make it 3-0. In the second, more two-out lightning for the visitors. Darren Daulton walked, and little Billy Hamilton lofted a fly down the line in right that plopped in over the screen at the 300′ mark, his second HR of the series — this, from a guy who might hit two homers all season. It was now 5-0.
And, thanks to a rainstorm that arrived after the sixth inning, that was the final score. Carlton scattered three hits, the Phils had six, and all the runs. Of note, four superb relief innings by Dave Giusti. Delahanty picked up another hit, to make it 11-for-18, that’s .611, for the five games — not to mention five walks (.695 OBA), seven RBI, 8 runs, and four stolen bases.
I am a Pirate fan, of course, and was hoping they would do better in this series. Down 3-1 in games, I immediately recalled 1925 and 1979, two comeback World Series victories. What has been done, can be done. But not this time.
The Phils are a funny club to manage. They can pound an opponent to death with the middle of their lineup, or slash and run them to death with that deadball trio up top, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson. As many fans will recall, Big Ed Delahanty, one of five brothers to play MLB, died suddenly and tragically near Niagara Falls — a death with mysterious circumstances — there’s a good book on it, July 2, 1903. His .346 lifetime average (is it still fifth-best all-time?) was achieved mostly before the century turned, so we do not have so many stories or photos about Big Ed. (How big was he? Well, he seems to have been over six feet tall, but Big Mac lists him at just 170 lbs.) He’s one of those “obscure” Hall of Famers that rarely gets a mention in today’s game. I’m glad that he still lives some in APBA — I think I have his card from 1899, when he hit .410, slugged .582, had 238 hits, 55 2B, and drove in 137. He bats behind Hamilton, another .400+ hitter who also draws walks and steals like a Maury Wills or Rickey Henderson, all the time; and Del bats ahead of Sam Thompson, .392, .654 SA, 211 H, 18 HR, 165 RBI. This trio reminds me a lot of the Cleveland top three, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker, and if the two trios meet in the Final Round of this tournament, I would not be at all surprised.
SWEET SIXTEEN PLAYOFFS:
ROUND TWO, NATIONAL LEAGUE: DODGERS VS. CUBS
This is the tenth in a series of reports on a simulated playoff of the sixteen “original franchise” teams. Above, the Phils won their second-round series, defeating the all-time Pirates in five games.
GAME ONE, AT EBBETS FIELD
I’m on record as choosing my all-time best dueling partners as Christy Mathewson and Three Finger Brown. Well, Brown vs Sandy Koufax ain’t bad, either. That was Game One of this last “Elite Eight” series. Both the Dodgers and the Cubs swept their first-round series, over the Reds and Cardinals respectively, so this was a clash of two undefeated teams.
Both pitchers got off to good starts, Koufax retiring six in a row after Cuyler’s leadoff single, and Brown holding the Dodgers hitless while walking three and hitting a batter the first time thru the Dodger lineup. In the third, though, both teams broke through. Frank Chance walked and stole second. 3B Stan Hack was injured chasing a foul ball that ended up in the stands in the second, and his replacement, Billy Herman, singled home the first run. Koufax got Cuyler on a comebacker, but Billy Williams connected to make it 3-0 Cubs.
The Dodgers came right back. Tony Gwynn and Babe Herman hit back-to-back doubles and after Brown fanned Duke Snider, Raul Mondesi found the seats with a long fly to tie the game. It remained tied into the seventh. With two outs, Koufax walked Williams, then Andre Dawson homered and the Cubs went up 5-3. Brown was rolling, giving up nothing after a 6th-inning single by Gil Hodges except a ninth-inning walk to Maury Wills. So he didn’t really need the insurance runs that his teammates gave him in the top of the ninth, Sammy Sosa’s three-run HR off Brewer. The final was 8-3, Brown holding the Dodgers to six hits.
GAME TWO, AT EBBETS FIELD
When you’re hot, you’re hot, and the cubs came out blazing against Orel Hershiser in Game Two. Cuyler walked and Billy Williams homered, 2-0. Another run, unearned, in the second, then two more in the third on Billy Herman’s two-out single. The Cubs were making the Dodgers pay for every walk, hit batsmen and error, so when Hack Wilson homered off Brewer with two on in the 4th, the Cubs were up 9-0 on six hits.
Hippo Vaughn looked like he would coast home, but the Dodgers had other ideas. Jackie Robinson walked to open the bottom of the 4th, and with one out, Babe Herman walked. Duke Snider doubled them home, and with two outs, Roy Campanella connected to make it 9-4.
A solo HR by Mark Grace made it 10-4, but the Dodgers were not dead yet. Singles by Herman and Snider, a couple ground outs and a hit by Gil Hodges made it 10-6. Jackie Robinson’s 7th-inning single off Lon Warneke and Tony Gwynn’s double, 10-7. But that was it. Good efforts by Mike Marshall and Steve Howe in relief, Bruce Sutter closed it out, and the Cubs were ahead 2-0 in games, and still undefeated in the tournament.
GAME THREE, AT WRIGLEY FIELD
Rain postponed Game Three and gave both staffs an extra day of rest, in addition to the days off in every series after Games Two and Five. So the field was soggy, but more importantly, the wind was blowing OUT at Wrigley, bad news for starters Don Drysdale and Cal Griffith.
No wind needed in the second when Gil Hodges connected after Babe Herman’s single to put the Dodgers up, 2-0, their first lead in this series. But it didn’t last. Ernie Banks connected after Hack Wilson’s single, tying the game. Then after Billy Herman’s one-out double, Mark Grace (batting ninth!) homered and the Cubs were up, 4-2.
The Cubs started their third with Andre Dawson’s double. Then Josh Gibson, hitless in the series, scorched a line drive up the middle, knocking down Drysdale and going for a single. Dazzy Vance took over, got out of the jam, and held the Cubs in check on three hits over the next five innings.
But Cal Griffith was unhittable. After Hodges’ HR, Griff retired 11 in a row, giving up just two walks and those two 2nd-inning hits through eight. So he started the ninth with that 4-2 lead, and a lot of momentum. But this is baseball, Ray, where it ain’t over till it’s over. Tony Gwynn started the ninth with a double. Griffith retired Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider, and was one out away from a 3-hit gem. But Babe Herman pulled one down the right field line that just made it over the wall — game toed. Then Roy Campanella got one up into that wind, which had not been a factor all day, and his fly carried to the Wrigley bleachers; 5-4 Dodgers, even though the fans returned the ball.
Vance had been dazzling since coming on in the third, but had shown signs of tiring, giving up two hits in the Cub eighth but escaping thanx to a DP ball by Grace. S when Kiki Cuyler smacked his first pitch of the ninth off the ivy for a triple, Ron Perranoski came in to face Billy Williams. Williams had homered in the first two games at Ebbets Field, both long shots. This time, he poled a fly to right, and it somehow made it over the wall, at the same spot as Herman’s long fly a few minutes earlier. Cubs win, 6-5, Wrigleyt explodes, Griffith a complete game five-hitter, and the Dodgers have their backs to the wall.
GAME FOUR, WRIGLEY FIELD
The joint is filled with broom-carrying fans. Don Newcombe will face off with Fergie Jenkins. The weather looks iffy, but the wind will not be a factor today.
Jenkins starts shakily, walking Jackie and plunking the Duke in the first, and Roy Campanella makes him pay with a liner over the bleachers, 3-0. Pee Wee Reese draws a one-out walk in the top of the second, and the fun continues — for Dodger fans. Tony Gwynn gets a perfect hit-and-run single, and Jackie’s hit makes it 4-0. Duke Snider finds the ivy in centerfield for a double, 6-0. Ellsworth takes over on the mound and gets Babe Herman, but Campy follows with his second homer of the day, 8-0. Not over yet. Mondesi singles and Gil Hodges takes Ellsworth deep, for a 10-0 Dodger lead. Where was all this offense yesterday?
The Cubs score a run off Newk in the second, when Stan Hack (back from that injury) singles and Mark Grace doubles. But that is about it. A freak hailstorm halts play after four innings — long enough to mean both pitchers need to be replaced — but not long enough to wash out the Dodger lead and victory. Ernie Banks homers in the 8th, Tony Gwynn hits a solo HR, and the final is 11-3 Dodgers. Still a long way to come back.
GAME FIVE, AT WRIGLEY FIELD
And to make things a little more worriesome, that Wrigley wind is blowing OUT again. Both teams are bulging with sluggers, so Sandy Koufax and Three Finger Brown will have to keep the ball down.
In the Dodger first Jackie Robinson singles, but then an omen, he’s running when Snider’s liner to right is caught near Billy Williams’ shoestrings, and Jackie is double up off first. In the Cub first, two long flies fall short and are caught, but Andre Dawson walks and Josh Gibson, benched yesterday, gets his first real hit of the series, an RBI double, Cubs up 1-0.
Ernie Banks lofts one into the gale in the second, 2-0. Then in the third, Billy Williams and Dawson smack back-to-back homers, neither needing aero-assistance, 4-0. The Cub fans start to stir. After no HRs in the Cardinal sweep, Williams connected in all three Cub wins over the Dodgers, so this fourth HR looks like a good omen.
Duke Snider ends Brown’s shutout with a rope into the bleachers in the Dodger fourth. But this is the Cubs’ day. Grace singles to start the fifth and Brewer takes over for Koufax. Billy Williams executes the hit-and-run and Dawson’s sac fly makes it 5-1. In the sixth, the Cubs virtually put it away. After singles by Banks and Billy Herman, Mark Grace — batting ninth again — connects. 8-1 Cubs. Hack Wilson’s long HR off Steve Howe an inning later, after Josh Gibson’s walk, and it’s 10-1.
The Dodgers threaten, two on in both the sixth and seventh, but Brown snuffs out the rallies. In the eighth, Snider’s second home rand Babe Herman’s double chases the Three-Fingered one. Lon Warneke takes over, gives up a hit to Zack Wheat but gets out of the inning. Sutter comes on for a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Cubs move on to the Final Four with a big 10-3 win. The Dodgers must have left this series wondering how these Cubs could ever go a whole century without a World Championship.
Well, remember that this Cub team is an amalgam of talent from their first dynasty (3-F Brown & Frank Chance), their teams that won a pennant every three years, 1929-38, and scattered stars from the sixties thru the nineties. Pitching remains a kind of constant in this simulation (consistently excellent, at least in its potential) and while the Cubs’ defense is a little bit stronger than the Dodgers, both teams have a nice mix of speed and power and hitting. So it comes down to — a roll of the dice.
The Final Four is now set. The all-time Tigers will take on the Indians, the Cubs will go up against the Phils. Still time to place your bets … just don’t tell me about it!
POSTSCRIPT ON COLUMBIA PARK
Columbia is where the A’s played before Shibe was built. I don’t know the dimensions, but the capacity was just 9,500, so I’m guessing that it was smaller than Shibe’s 360-515-360 L-C-R. But how far away were those 10-feet high wooden fences?
The above is from last issue, where I imagined a game between the Indians & Athletics was played, in Philadelphia. I might have added that it was Columbia Park II, which was at a different location than CP-I. I know this because since last issue, I’ve seen Ron Selter’s Ballparks of the Deadball Era, just out from McFarland. About Columbia’s dimensions, Selter has 340-396-280, based on a 1907 Philly City Atlas. The fences, guessing from photographs, were about eight feet tall all around, with the scoreboard in center rising another three feet. It was, in its day, the smallest AL park, and it was a hitter’s park.
The above is an excerpt from Issue #467 of Gene’s Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown. To read the rest of the issue (or past issues), click here.