Thursday, December 20, 2012

#473 - '73 World Series - Game #2



Wow, who’s this guy? Here we have the final card Topps issued of Willie Mays during his playing career. It’s a pretty dramatic shot and it looks like Willie has just taken a pitch from Rollie Fingers, the only pitcher he got up against in the game. Willie had come in the game in the ninth inning as a pinch runner for Rusty Staub, who had singled. He then got up a couple times as the game went to twelve innings. His second at bat in the top of the 12th would be the final successful one of his career so this card is a milestone of sorts. Just because I can’t help myself I’m going to throw Willie’s bio out here in honor of his photo.

Willie Mays grew up in Alabama where he played football – as a quarterback and punter – basketball – where he set a state record with points per game as a guard – and baseball in high school. His school either didn’t have a team or Willie was unable to play on it – depending on the source – so he played some semi-pro and industrial league ball while at that age. In ’47 he went to Tennessee for the summer to play for the semi-pro Chattanooga Choo-Choos and in ’48 when he was 17 he played for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues. He hit .262 and knocked everyone out with his performance in the field and then played in that year’s Negro League World Series that his guys lost to Homestead and Satchel Paige. He continued to play for the Barons the next couple summers and during that time nearly signed with the Braves and the Dodgers but the Barons’ owner didn’t want to let him go. Finally in June of ’50 the Giants nabbed him. That summer he went to Trenton to play B ball and hit .353. The next year he moved up to Triple A where he hit .477 (!) with 30 RBI’s in 149 at bats. That was enough of an audition and that May he moved up to NY.

Mays famously had a slow start to his MLB career, going 0 for 12 until in his 13th at bat he homered off Warren Spahn. He ended up hitting .268 with 20 homers and 68 RBI’s which got him the NL Rookie of the Year and helped get NY to the playoffs against LA. When Bobby Thomson hit his famous shot Willie was in the on deck circle. After a slow start in ’52 – he was hitting .236 – Willie got tabbed by Uncle Sam and spent the rest of that season and all of the next in the military which he said made him stronger. He came back in ’54 and in his first full season won the NL MVP by hitting .345 with 41 homers and 110 RBI’s in leading NY to the Series. That time they won and Willie made that amazing catch off a Vic Wertz fly to dead center. He would spend four full seasons in the Polo Grounds and during that time averaged .323 with 13 triples, 41 homers, 105 RBI’s, and 28 stolen bases. In ’57 he won his – and the NL’s – first Gold Glove in center which he would do twelve years running, Twice during that time he made the 30-30 club and three times he led the NL in slugging.

In ’58 the Giants moved to San Francisco where it was a tad more challenging to hit them out at the corners and everywhere else due to the wind. Mays did just fine though and the next nine years would average 40 homers, 109 RBI’s, and a .312 average. In ’62 he hit 49 out with 141 RBI’s as he again led the team to a post-season playoff championship, and again against the Dodgers. In ’65 he hit .317 with 52 homers and 112 RBI’s to win his second MVP. In ’67 he missed his first significant amount of time as his wheels were starting to get  beat up too much and his power stats came down pretty hard. They stayed there the next few seasons until in ’70 he had a bit of a resurgence with 28 homers and 83 RBI’s while hitting .291. He got to the playoffs again in ’71 when he led the NL in walks and OBA, with 112 and .425, respectively. Those were both the highest marks in his career. In ’72 the Mets lobbied hard to return him to NY for the end of his career and that May he came back for pitcher Charlie Williams and $50,000. He played sort of sparingly the next couple seasons between center and first base and after being injured announced his retirement in late summer of ’73. But he came back for the post-season and had some memorable moments. Willie finished with a .302 average, 660 homers, 1.903 RBI’s, 338 stolen bases, and a .384 OBA. In the post-season he hit .247 with a homer and ten RBI’s in 25 games. He was an All-Star for 20 seasons and was inducted into the Hall in ’79. After playing he coached with the Mets through ’79, was a greeter at Atlantic City casinos from ’80 through ’85, and since ’86 has worked in various admin roles for the Giants.

Now let’s get to the game. The starters were Jerry Koosman and Vida Blue and neither one would be around too long. Vida had a 1-2-3 inning to start the game but Koosman got in trouble right away with a Joe Rudi double, Sal Bando triple, and Jesus Alou double that knocked in a couple in the bottom of the first. He also walked a couple and struck out Dick Green with the bases loaded so it could have been a lot nastier. Cleon Jones led off the second with a homer and in the bottom of the inning a Bert Campaneris triple followed by a Joe Rudi single got the run back. In the third Wayne Garrett had a rare offensive surge with a solo shot and in the bottom of that inning Oakland threatened again on a one-out walk by Gene Tenace, a single by Alou, and an error on a come-backer by Ray Fosse loaded the bases. Ray Sadecki then came in for his first post-season appearance and Oakland tried a squeeze play that backfired when Green missed the bunt, nailing Tenace. After Green struck out the score was still 3-2, Oakland. Sadecki pitched another shutout inning before getting pulled for a pinch-hitting George Theodore in the fifth. Vida, meanwhile, was putting at least an NY runner on base an inning but was shutting them out through the fifth. But in the sixth things got nasty: After a Rusty Staub strikeout, Jones walked and John Milner singled, putting runners on the corners. Horacio Pina replaced Blue and promptly hit Jerry Grote, loading the bases. Consecutive singles by Don Hahn and Bud Harrelson knocked in two runs, chasing Pina. In came Darold Knowles who got pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp to ground back to him but who then slipped while firing the ball home, allowing Grote and Hahn to score. He got Garrett to strike out, walked Felix Millan, and got Rusty to pop up with three on. But four runs scored, giving NY a 6-3 lead.

Tug McGraw then came in to pitch for the Mets, replacing Harry Parker, who had pitched a shutout inning. Tug and Darold traded shutout ball of their own for an inning and then in the seventh McGraw hit Campaneris, walked Rudi, and struck out Sal Bando. But Campy stole second on the K and Reggie doubled him home, closing the gap a run and putting two guys in scoring position. Tug struk out Gene Tenace to end the threat. Blue Moon Odom then came in to pitch for Oakland and the eighth inning was all zeroes. In the ninth Staub singled and was replaced by Willie on the basepaths. Odom got Jones to fly out and gave up a single to Milner before getting two quick outs. Willie then took over center and Hahn took Rusty’s spot in right. This was important because the first Oakland batter, Deron Johnson, hit a liner to center that Willie couldn’t see – the sun was nasty for everyone that day – let get by him, and then fell while chasing. Double Johnson. He was replaced by Allan Lewis and after two quick outs and a Bando walk, Reggie and Tenace came through with singles, scoring Lewis and Bando. Alou tapped one back to the mound but it was a tie game.

The extra innings didn’t disappoint if you were one for drama. Rollie Fingers came in to pitch the tenth and gave up a lead-off single to Harrelson. McGraw sacrificed him to second and Garrett reached on a Tenace error at first. With one out and runners at the corners, Millan lofted one to short left that Rudi caught. Harrelson ran on the catch and Rudi winged it home. Umpire Augie Donatelli called Bud out to the consternation of many – including Willie (see below) in the on-deck circle – and on replays it looked like Ray Fosse missed the tag. But the inning was over with no damage. Tug breezed through the bottom half and Rollie again put two on in the eleventh but escaped. After Oakland went o-fer in the bottom came the big drama. Harrelson again led off the inning with a big hit, this time a double. McGraw then got another bunt off and this time was safe. Garrett went down swinging and Millan popped to first and up came Willie with two on and two outs. A clutch single to center scored Harrelson and a Jones single then got the bases loaded, chasing Fingers. Paul Lindblad – another pitcher making his post-season debut – came in and got Milner to hit a hot grounder to second. But the ball went right through the legs of Mike Andrews – who came in the game in the eighth - and both Tug and Willie scored. Jerry Grote then did an instant replay and this time Andrews fielded the ball cleanly but his throw pulled Tenace off the bag. Jones scored and Grote was safe, and after a Hahn groundout it was 10-6. Reggie led off the bottom of the 12th with a big triple that many felt Willie misplayed and after Tug walked Tenace he was relieved by George Stone. Alou greeted Stone with a single, scoring Reggie, and a Fosse groundout pushed Tenace to third. Andrews then walked and Vic Davalillo, who was super hot in the playoffs, came in to pinch hit. But he popped up, Campy grounded out and the Mets got a 10-7 win that evened the Series. McGraw got the win, Stone the save, and Fingers took the loss. The game went 4:13 beating the former longest Series game by nearly 45 minutes. The eleven pitchers used also set a record. Poor Mike Andrews was essentially fired by Charlie O right after the game, though it was claimed he was injured. And that pushed manager Dick Williams – who’d already intimated he might not come back – right over the edge. Andrews had been a steady player for Williams in Boston and Dick went to bat for his boy, saying if Andrews wasn’t coming back neither would he. But the most enduring visual legacy of the game – at least for me – was this great photo of Willie rushing to protest the out call at the plate in Life magazine that had the equally compelling header: “The Say Hey Kid Says So Long.” I haven’t been able to find the magazine or the photo but here are two that come close. The first is of Mays running out from a different vantage point and the second an SI shot of Willie pleading with Donatelli to change the call.







Willie really put his soul into the game, didn't he?

Finally we get the card back which highlights two busy catchers and lots of pitchers. Another record set was by Don Hahn who became the first guy with seven at bats in a Series game. Here are the pitching stats:

Pitching
IP
H
R
ER
 BB
SO
 ERA
Koosman
   3.1
6
3
3
     3
4
   8.10
Sadecki
   1.2
0
0
0
    -  
3
      -  
Parker
   1.0
1
0
0
    -  
0
      -  
McGraw
   6.0
5
4
4
     3
8
  6.00
Stone
   1.0
1
0
0
      1
0
      -  

 12.0
13
7
7
     7
15
  5.25

  



  

  
Blue
   5.1
4
4
4
     2
4
  6.75
Pina
    -  
2
2
0
    -  
0
      -  
Knowles
   1.2
1
0
0
     2
2
      -  
Odom
   2.0
2
0
0
    -  
2
      -  
Fingers
   2.2
6
4
1
    -  
2
  3.37
Knowles
   0.1
0
0
0
0
0
      -  

 12.0
15
10
5
     4
10
  3.75

Five unearned runs. That’s pretty tough. On to NY and out of the sun!

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