Keeping Score: Catching up on old times

Published: 6/12/2020 4:20:11 PM
Modified: 6/12/2020 4:19:56 PM

Good morning!
A Twitter poll by the Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz recently asked, “Do you want baseball in 2020?”

Of the 13,500 people who responded, 58.7 percent said “no.”

Agreed. Why bother? Playing half of a 162-game season is like starting the Boston Marathon in Newton.

I had missed listening to baseball outside doing yardwork until it dawned on me there are plenty of classics on YouTube. And so I wrote out a lineup card and kept score of the seventh game of the 1952 World Series, every pitch as it happened at Ebbets Field with Mel Allen and Red Barber doing the play-by-play.

The rosters included future Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Duke Snider for the Dodgers, and Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and Johnny Mize for the Yankees. (Joe DiMaggio had retired the previous year.)

The commercials were removed from the broadcast, so the innings flowed one right into the next. Barber, who coined the phrase “in the catbird seat,” said the game was “tight as a new pair of shoes on a rainy day.”

The Yankees won, 4-3, thanks to 21-year-old outfielder Mickey Mantle — “magnificent Mick” as Allen called him — who homered in the sixth inning and singled home Gil McDougald with the winning run in the seventh.

A few days later, I listened to the seventh game of the 1960 World Series between Pittsburgh and New York at Forbes Field. Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh started righthander Vern Law, a “stout-hearted man” according to Mel Allen. Trailing by one run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, backup catcher Hal Smith cranked a three-run home run off Jim Coates to put the Pirates ahead, 9-7.

“That base hit will long be remembered,” chortled Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince, but alas the Yankees tied it 9-9 before Smith could lay claim to his 15 minutes of fame.

That set the stage for Bill Mazeroski, who hit Ralph Terry’s hanging curveball all the way to Cooperstown, where he was enshrined in 2001.

I’d always considered that to be the best game in World Series history until I revisited the sixth game of the ’75 Fall Classic between Boston and Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine. Even casual fans know that Bernie Carbo’s home run tied it in the eighth inning and Carlton Fisk’s home run won it in the 12th, but the game was more than those two home runs. 

Fred Lynn hit a three-run home run off Gary Nolan in the first inning, and Luis Tiant pitched four shutout innings but started to tire. El Tiante won 122 games for the Red Sox, five more than Pedro Martinez. He flabbergasted hitters with his herky jerky windup, tantalizing slow stuff and a fastball that hummed under the hitter’s chins. 

“Sometime during the night he will look you right in the eye,” said NBC’s Joe Garagiola, who was doing the game with Dick Stockton and Tony Kubek.

The Reds scored three runs in the fifth, twice more in the seventh and led 6-3 after Cesar Geronimo’s leadoff blast in the eighth. Carbo’s two-out home run made it a new game. In the ninth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out but George Foster threw out Denny Doyle trying to score on Lynn’s fly ball to left field, and Rico Petrocelli grounded to third to end the threat.

In the 11th inning, Joe Morgan turned on a Dick Drago offering and lifted it high into the night. Dwight Evans ran back, jumped and caught it falling backward into the right field seats, then straightened and doubled up Ken Griffey at first base.

Pat Darcy was the eighth pitcher used by manager Sparky Anderson, and Fisk planted his back foot and swung at his second pitch. “There it goes!” yelled Stockton. “A long drive! If it stays fair… Home Run!!”

The church bells rang at midnight in Charlestown, N.H., where Fisk was born. In the Fenway Park press box, Garry Brown frantically typed his story for the Springfield Union. “I remember rewriting the lead about four times and then asking them if I could to do it again,” he chuckled. 

This afternoon, I’ll listen to the fourth game of the 1990 World Series. I can’t remember the score of the game, who played or who won, but that’s the point. As Yogi said, it’ll be deja vu all over again.

A shout-out to the local police departments who’ve helped save lives during the opiate epidemic and COVID-19 crisis. They deserve to be cheered, not jeered. Protest all you want, just don’t do it around here, please.      

Bettors wagered over $76 million during the first five cards of Belmont Park’s abbreviated spring/summer meet. Handicappers perusing the Daily Racing Form circled horses owned by the Klaravich Stables, trained by Chad Brown, and ridden by Irad Ortiz. The threesome is well nigh unbeatable.

Ortiz finished the week with 13 wins (runner-up Javier Castellano had only six); Brown saddled eight winners and the Klaravich Stables saw nine of its 11 horses hit the board and earn $263,775 in purse money.

Comcast subscribers in Franklin County can tune to TVG (Ch. 260) or Fox Sports (Chs. 897 & 898) for their racing fix. TVG shows everything from harness to quarterhorse racing, but the programming is clogged with ads for hair growth, prostate shrinkage and debt relief (the railbird’s trifecta).

On Fox Sports, “America’s Day at the Races” is produced by the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The two principal handicappers are Andy Serling, a self-deprecating “degenerate gambler” and the ebullient Jonathan Kinchen, who sports Chia Pet hair (and beard) and wears Hawaiian shirts over tattoos of his favorite racehorses.

Richard Migliore and Gary Stevens lend insight into the how’s and why’s of front wraps and blinkers, and Maggie Wolfendale provides astute paddock analysis.

“The real MVP of this show is Maggie,” Kinchen said the day after he gave bettors a 20-cent Pick 6 that returned $819. Wolfendale was born into the sport. Her father Howard Wolfendale and husband Tom Morley are both trainers, as is Wolfendale, who test drives many of the horses she handicaps. “I don’t necessarily like to ride Vekoma, or look down,” she said prior to last Saturday’s Carter Handicap, “but overall he looks really, really good his second start off the bench.”

As for the betting favorite, Wolfendale said: “I can’t really endorse Firenze Fire from what I’m seeing here in the paddock.” Her keen eye paid off for bettors who bet Vekoma to win and laid off Firenze Fire who finished fourth.

SQUIBBERS: The NCAA is pushing Hockey East to go to a 3-on-3 sudden death overtime format. … Mike Francesa doesn’t cut it playing a high end bookie in Adam Sandler’s “Uncut Gems.” Why? Because he looks like WFAN’s Mike Francesa, that’s why. … Matt Doherty, explaining Michael Jordan’s relentless competive streak to Sirius-XM’s Frank Isola: “We were playing pool and I beat him. He tossed the cue stick and said, ‘This table’s not even regulation.’” … Former Deerfield neighbor Carl Allen passed away on May 3. Each December, Carl would park his yellow WMECO truck across from the Frontier Pharmacy, get in the bucket loader and drape the evergreen tree with Christmas lights. … One duffer’s golf experience in the age of Phase 1: “Rules were not enforced; remote payment was not enforced, we paid the manager in cash. Once you pay, you’re on your own. The risks are low, but not without risks.” … The Red Sox were scheduled to host the Yankees this weekend, games 71-73 of the season that never was.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at chipjet95@yahoo.com




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