Tuesday, October 14, 2014

1974 mfc/ '73 WORLD SERIES- A's vs. METS/Game 2

1973 World Series Game Two
It was 41 years ago today. 
  This one goes extra innings.
You might want to get something to snack on.

Having lost game one of the 1973 World Series the New York Mets and their fans were desperate for a split on the road. It's baseball 101 in a post season series. You'd love a sweep but one step at a time.

Two great pitchers were going in game two. Lefty Jerry Koosman was one of New York's big game pitchers. He had far from his best season in '73, but to fans, he was Jerry Koosman. This was a big game. He had done nothing more in post seasons past than win big games such as these.

Can't say I wasn't worried. For the Athletics had Vida Blue on the mound.  Blue's phenomenal 1971 season made me a big fan as a kid.

I have written before about Vida Blue and his impact. In 1971, the lefty's breakout season was my first personal experience at seeing a player come from out of nowhere to be one of the best in the game at his position. That summer I was still playing ball down in the playground and Blue was the talk of the diamond. Did he win another? Would he win the Cy Young Award?

He did, along with the '71 AL MVP Award. He had a 24-8 record, a tiny 1.82 ERA, and he got the opposition to whiff 301 times. Blue completed 24 of his 39 starts!

After Vida's breakthrough season in 1971, he and the miserly Athletics owner Charlie Finley clashed over his salary.
 Blue held out, missing much of the year, and ended up with a 6–10 record.

In 1973 Blue bounced back, again winning 20 games. He would never again be the dominating lefty that he was in '71, but he still was a very good man to have on the mound.

Felix Millan took a bit of a beating in the press for his game 1 error. But only in the sense that it led off every story about the game. There was no talk of benching him or anything like that. Even the best make errors. And in 4 hours and 14 minutes time the press would have a much juicier story involving an error by a second baseman in this World Series.

Rusty Staub, still in pain and limited by the shoulder injury suffered in the NLCS, was in the lineup. He was far from 100%, and still could not throw a baseball overhand, but Rusty said he could go, and all Mets fans were  thrilled about that.

Staub was the offensive star of the NLCS for the Mets and New York needed his potent bat if they were to have any chance in this series. Staubs injury, with the help of a shot of cortisone, did not hamper his hitting. Rusty could still rake.

The weather for game two was a carbon copy of game one, with the high hot & blinding California sun blazing down on the festivities. It didn't take long for the sun  to come into play. In the very first inning the 2nd batter for the A's, Joe Rudi, lifted a deep high fly ball to left that Cleon Jones totally lost in the sun, giving Rudi a gift double.

"It was the worst," Cleon said after the game. " The absolute worst. I've never played in a major league ballpark where the sun was that bad."

The misplay was followed by a Sal Bando triple, and a double by Jesus Alou plated the A's second run of the inning. It could have been worse as Koosman also walked two but was able to strike out Dick Green with the bases loaded to end the rally.

Things did not look good. Already Oakland had jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Jones immediately went to work redeeming himself when he led off the second inning with an opposite field homer, answering back and putting the Mets on the board.

 But this would be one of those wacky games in a annals of Mets (as well as baseball) history.

The A's got the run right back in the second as Bert Campaneris tripled past Rusty Staub in right, and Joe Rudi hit a slow roller up the middle that just made it through the drawn in infield.
The score was 3-1, Athletics.

Again, New York would not just roll over. With two out Wayne Garrett pulled a Vida Blue fastball and deposited it in the right field stands for another Metropolitan solo homer. The lead was again cut to one run, 3-2 A's.

Jerry Koosman was not pitching at his best. The fact that Jerry didn't have his good stuff was very disconcerting to Mets fans. He was our post season ace in the hole in '69 and we needed him to be that again. But in game two in Oakland Kooz just didn't have it. In the third frame he would get Reggie, the big out, but then proceed to load the bases. Gene Tenace walked, Jesus Alou singled, and Koosman made a bad throw on a come backer to the mound off the bat of Ray Fosse.

Mets manager Yogi Berra had seen enough. He pulled Koosman and brought in reliever Ray Sadecki, another lefty, to face A's light hitting 2nd baseman Dick Green.

With Tenace on third Oakland manager Dick Williams ordered a squeeze play. His call backfired when Green missed the bunt and Tenace was caught off third and tagged out. Sadecki then finished off Green by striking him out and the score remained 3-2 A's.

This was the turning point in the game. It could have been a huge breakout inning for the A's, but the failed squeeze & K by Green was crucial.

Ray Sadecki had kept the game in check. He would pitch a 1-2-3 fourth, striking out two.

The Mets couldn't muster any runs in the 4th and 5th and were going quietly aside from a Cleon Jones single. The A's weren't posting any notes either as Harry Parker held the A's scoreless through the bottom half of the 5th.

 In the 6th inning the Mets broke through. Vida Blue started the frame in fine form setting Staub down on strikes. Then his wheels fell off. He walked Cleon Jones and John Milner dunked a single over second. This effectively knocked Blue out of the game as A's manager Williams went to his pen for relief.

Sidearm righty Horatio Pena came in and greeted Jerry Grote with an inside pitch to his wrist, hitting the Mets catcher and loading the bases. An easily avoidable pitch, here Grote took one for the team.

Don Hahn followed with a topper to third that Bando could not get a handle on and Cleon came home with the tying run.

After a single to right by Buddy Harrelson the A's relief pitcher Pena was pulled and Darrel Knowles, who had closed game one, came on to quell the rally.
He got pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp to hit a grounder back to him, and another come-backer was misplayed as Knowles fired the ball wild, past his catcher Fosse and both Grote and Hahn came around to score. And just like that, the Mets had a 6-3 lead in game two.

Tug McGraw, the head believer, came in to pitch the bottom of the sixth and Yogi would ride him like Charlie 'O the mule in this game, like he did all down the stretch. That was okay with Tugger. He wanted the ball.

In the 7th McGraw ran into some trouble. With one out he hit the speedy Bert Campaneris in the head with a wild pitch that got the A's shortstop right on top of his helmet. Campy was fine (and he didn't throw his bat) but Tug was a little shaken up and proceeded to walk Joe Rudi. Campaneris stole third base as Sal Bando struck out looking.

Oakland slugger Reggie Jackson, not quite known as Mr. October yet, was beginning to make a name for himself as he roped a liner to right center that should have only been a single.

Rusty Staub got to it quickly enough but he could not fire a throw in to 2nd because of his injured shoulder. He had to throw underhanded and a smart Reggie took advantage and stretched the hit to a double.
Rusty's injured shoulder would force him to throw underhanded.
Campaneris jogged home from third and the score was 6-4 Mets. With runners on second and third McGraw halted the A's momentum right there by striking out Gene Tenace, the star of the 1972 World Series, to get out of the inning.

New York couldn't put anything together against Knowles in the 7th, or Blue Moon Odom in the 8th. Tug McGraw settled down and got the side in order in his half. Yogi would stick with him and Tugger only needed 3 more outs for the win.

In the Mets top of the 9th Rusty Staub had singled. He was replaced on the bases by the great Willie Mays. Yogi's logic was sound: he would rather Rusty not play the field in the 9th with his inability to throw. So a defensive substitution was planned if New York had a lead late in the game. But this move was still a surprise. Not Willie pinch running, but staying in the game to play the outfield. Yogi kept Mays in to play center, and had Don Hahn move from center to right field. It's not like Yogi had that many options at the time, but he did have others.

This would play a huge factor in the 9th. With the score still 6-4, pinch hitter Deron Johnson led off the 9th for the A's and hit a sharp sinking liner to center.

Now if you read me, you know if I was writing the script Willie Mays makes an awesome diving catch right here. Maybe Yogi was working from the same script. But this was real life and a 42 year old Willie Mays, fighting the sun, caught in between moves, could not get to the ball, try as he might.

And it was a good try for a player of any age battling that wicked sun field. The liner dropped in and past the lunging center fielder, going all the way to the wall. By the time Cleon got the ball in, Johnson was standing on second with a double.

 Tug McGraw got Campaneris to strike out and Rudi to ground out to third. The Mets needed one more out for the win. They didn't get it.

Sal Bando drew a base on balls and there were A's at the corners. Reggie Jackson hurt the Mets again, ripping a single to right, driving in Oaklands 5th run and sending Bando to third base.
Tug K'd Gene Tenace in the 7th, but he couldn't get the A's first baseman here in the 9th. Tenace pumped a single to left and the game was tied at 6-6.

Normally a reliever who went 4 innings and gave up a string of hits to lose a lead would be pulled right about now. But Yogi stuck with Tug, who got out of the inning with no further damage.

 Rollie Fingers, the A's ace reliever, came in to pitch the 10th inning. At this point I felt the A's bullpen had the edge with a fresh Fingers. This turn of events was deflating to Mets fans. But New York tried to climb right back in the drivers seat.

That 'lil sparkplug Bud Harrelson led off the inning with a single right up the middle. This enabled Yogi to continue on with Tug, and the Mets reliever batted and bunted Bud over to 2nd base.
Wayne Garrett, who homered earlier in the contest, slapped a grounder to third. A's 3rd baseman Sal Bando's throw to first was in the dirt and Garrett was safe, Harrelson moving over to third on the play. That brought up Felix Millan, who lofted a high and shallow fly to left. Joe Rudi swayed in to grab it as Bud set up to tag.

It was really not deep enough, but Buddy took off, scampering with all the speed he could muster, charging for home.


___mfc FANTAZY Focus

Where we take microscopic look at the Buddy/Fosse play at the plate in game two of the 1973 World Series.

The ball beat Bud by a pretty wide margin. Harrelson could see this and he tried to scream his way past Ray Fosse, Oaklands defender of the dish.

Harrelson put some moves on the A's catcher, throwing a deke to the outside and then changing lanes at the last second.  Fosse was slow to react. He flung and missed. 

The most impressive thing about Harrelson's flashy serpentine move was that he still was able to get his foot down and touch the plate as he streaked by.

There is the question of what the hell home plate ump Augie Donetelli was doing flat on the ground. But this was something I had seen him do before, and after. He would get down like that for a play at the plate at times. He seemed to have had a decent view.

Willie Mays had a better view and he was convinced Fosse had missed Harrelson. Mays wasn't one to argue and here he pleaded with Donetelli, on his knees no less, making for some classic photographs.

  These days Yogi would be running out to request a video review. And the result would have been interesting. Video replay made it look like Fosse missed him, but there was no definitive view showing daylight. It could have gone either way.

The way it did go was badly, as Yogi and a mass of Mets ran out to protest. Donetelli stuck by his call, threatening to throw the lot of them out of the game. The double play ended New Yorks 10th inning threat.


In the tenth Tug McGraw mowed on, striking out two, the third out a weak shallow fly to center.

The Mets made some noise in the 11th against Rollie Fingers. Cleon was hit by a pitch and with two out Grote singled him to second. But Don Hahn could not come through and grounded out to close the frame.

Again, Tug took the mound, determined to see this through. He only got Campy to ground out, and then K'd Rudy and Bando. Even with Tugs blown save in the 9th, this was a masterful performance.

The action in New York's top of the 12th once again revolved around Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson. As in the tenth, Bud started things off with a lead-off hit, his third of the day, this one a huge double to right center. Once again Tug McGraw was called on to bunt. As Oakland third baseman Sal Bando ran in anticipating the bunt, Tugger adjusted, popping the bunt up and over Bando's head for a single. The Mets had men on first & third, only one out.
Wayne Garrett struck out swinging and Felix Millan popped out weakly to first and things looked dismal.

It was up to Willie Mays.
At this point my hopes of Willie the hero had dwindled to, please Willie, just keep the inning alive.

And as it goes, Mays did play the hero. It was a 2 out, seeing eye RBI single that bounced lively right up the middle. He fell getting out of the box, but he did it! Willie Mays put New York ahead in the 12th!

 I wasn't yet born in 1954 when Mays made his classic catch off Vic Wertz in the World Series. Through the 60's and up until he became a Metropolitan I gotten little peeks at The Say Hey Kid playing for San Francisco at Shea. 
But I never thought I'd see that sentence come to be after the Giants moved west.

Willie Mays won a World Series game for the New York Mets!

But this game wasn't over. Cripes, the inning wasn't over, there was more to come. The juicy stuff regarding errors by second basemen that I mentioned waaaaay back in the beginning.
It started now.

Cleon Jones followed Mays with a sharp single to left, loading the bases. A's manager Dick Williams went to his pen, playing the percentages. Paul Lindblad came on needing one out. Met slugger John Milner was up. He hit a weak grounder to second. 

The A's had three 2nd baseman play in this game. Dick Green started, Ted Kubiak took over after Green was pinch hit for, and Mike Andrews batted for Kubiak in the 8th and stayed on to play second base.

All Andrews had to do was field this average grounder to second, just like Felix Millan didn't do the day before.

And unbelievably that's exactly what happened.

Like an instant replay in a different uniform, Andrews came up on the ball early, and it skipped through the 2nd baseman's legs into the outfield. Both Tug McGraw and Willie Mays scored! The Mets were up 9-6!

And that wasn't the end of it. Next batter Jerry Grote bounced a chopper toward the middle and Andrews gloved this one in fine form, but his throw was a tad off and it appeared that it pulled Gene Tenace off the bag. Andrews was charged with a second error, and another run scored. Two big errors in a row in a World Series game to allow the flood gates to open. Mike Andrews had to be feeling like shit.

The first error was a bad one, and no doubt about that. But the second was a close play at first. Replay indicates that if the review rules were in place then and this play challenged, Grote would have been called out and Mike would not have been smacked with another error.

But as things went in 1973, he was the goat, and a big goat as far as those things go. More on that in a bit. Lets end this game for chreeeezakes. 
Yes...there's more.

Tug McGraw was not to be denied and again took to the mound in the bottom of the 12th. Reggie Jackson was leading off, so Tug went after him with a full head of steam. Jackson was working for that cool nickname and he launched a McGraw pitch to deep center.

Now earlier, when Willie missed the diving catch, I didn't feel bad or anything. It was a good try on a sinking liner with the sun in his eyes. 

When he singled up the middle and fell getting out of the box, I didn't even notice. He singled to give the Mets the lead! 

But what happened next made me feel really bad for the sure fire future hall-of-famer and gave me a sad, sinking feeling. Mays drifted back to the wall on the deep fly off Jacksons bat, then he lost the ball completely in the sun, feeling for the wall like a blind man as the ball fell at his feet. I thought this was much more embarrassing than the earlier misplay. Mays thought just the opposite. After the game he was asked if he indeed was embarrassed by the blunders.

" I didn't see Johnson's hit...I was blinded by the sun. The second one, I didn't go for. We were ahead by four runs and I didn't see any point in busting myself up. If we hadn't had such a lead, I would have gone for it and I think I would have caught it."

Again pressed by the media over possible embarrassment.....

"I feel sorry any time I miss a ball. But I don't let it tear me up. It's a ballgame. I always give it everything I've got."

I'm sure Willie always gave it everything he had. But it really looked like the second play was far worse than the first. A much more catch-able fly. I don't think he ever saw it again once he lost track of it. This put Reggie Jackson on third to open the inning and bummed me out because the ageless Willie Mays was looking old.

Tug's determination hadn't run out, but he was out of gas. He walked Gene Tenace and was done. Yogi came out with a fork and called for George Stone to close the game. Stone was a starter all season, and a good one at that. But he wasn't included in the Mets starting rotation for the World Series and in retrospect this might have been a mistake.

Stone's first batter, Jesus Alou, drove in Reggie with a single to right, making the score 10-7 New York. The tall, lanky pitcher got one quick out on a force play at second and then loaded the bases by walking the still employed Mike Andrews. Then Stone came around and got a weak popout from Vic Davalillo and had Scampy Campy ground out to , who else, Bud Harrelson at short.

This World Series game was finally over. McGraw got the win, Stone the save, and Fingers took the loss. Willie Mays was the hero, Mike Andrews the goat. Oakland played a sloppy game, committing 5 errors and allowing 5 unearned runs. The contest lasted four hours and thirteen minutes, a new World Series record, surpassing the previous record by 45 minutes. Combined, eleven pitchers were used, also a new record. Don Hahn had 7 at-bats in the game, another series first.

The Mets pulled off the much needed split on the road and they would be bringing the World Series home to New York.

You would think that would be the end of the story, but it isn't.
Yes, there's even more. 
I told you to get a snack.

After the game Athletics owner Charlie Finley, well known for his eccentric publicity stunts, made headlines as big as that of game two itself. Bigger, actually, because this went beyond the scope of normal sporting news. Finley, who was irked by Mike Andrews 2 errors, (in essence) fired the Oakland 2nd baseman.

A Quinn Martin Production
Andrews signed with the Oakland Athletics on July 31, 1973 in a transaction requested by his old manager Dick Williams despite the objections of team owner Charlie Finley.

The story goes that after game two Finley coerced Andrews to sign a false affidavit drawn up by the team doctor saying he was disabled, thus making him ineligible to play for the rest of the series. The owner wanted to have 2nd baseman Manny Trillo, a young prospect that would go on to have a fine career, replace Andrews.

“It was an ignorant response from an owner who was never an athlete and had no clue about what actually happens on the field,” said Joe Rudi, the A’s left fielder. “It was like he was making this move to save face for himself. He didn’t care at all about Mike or anything but himself.” 

I thought this was great and a sign that the A's were already falling apart, but I was wrong. Because the A's manager and players stood up against the owner and rallied around Andrews. The press also joined in and suddenly Andrews was a media darling and the Oakland A's were playing to a bigger spotlight, looking like a team united (for a change).

On the off day the commissioners office chimed in and Bowie Kuhn forced Finley to reinstate Andrews immediately. This would add to the already circus like atmosphere that would envelope Shea Stadium at the start of game four.

Game two of the 1973 World Series courtesy of MLB11 youtube

Umpires: HP - Augie Donatelli, 1B - Jerry Neudecker
2B - Paul Pryor, 3B - Russ Goetz
 LF - Harry Wendelstedt, RF - Marty Springstead
Time of Game: 4:13   Attendance: 49151
Steves Baseball Photography
Baseball Reference
Wikipedia - Mike Andrews
1974 Pennant Fever - A rambling narrative from a scrambled mind.
Classic MLB11 youtube Channel-1973 World Series Highlights & Game Two
The Berkshire Eagle Newpaper. Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Issue Date:

Pictures for Willie Comes Up Short card.
Both photographs in the Buddy Robbed At Home cards.
Picture used on Finley Fires Andrews card.