Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1974 mfc/ '73 WORLD SERIES- A's vs. METS /Game 3

Where's Casey?
The World Series action shifted to New York for game three. And quite a shift it was. The weather in New York City was the polar opposite of Oakland. Gone were the sunny, blinding skies and warm weather. Gone was the daylight. All three of these games in New York would be night games.

Lights were first introduced to big league baseball in 1935. Still, from 1903 to 1971 the World Series was always played in daylight. In 1949 the last game of the World Series ran late and ended up finishing under the first post season use of lights. In 1971, that all changed when the first scheduled night game in World Series history was played at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

 The three weekday games in the 1972 World Series were scheduled to be played at night, but a postponement of Game 3 eliminated the scheduled off day between Games 5 and 6, and Major League Baseball moved Game 5 to an afternoon start to allow the teams enough time for traveling.

Here in 1973, there would be three games scheduled for after dusk, the first World Series night games in New York City's history and the first time in baseball history all 3 weekday games were played at night, as scheduled.

And so began the switch from World Series day games to night games. They had been holding the MLB All Star Game at night for some time now to TV ratings success.

It would be a few years before the classic 1975 World Series would become a ratings bonanza, brought on by Carlton Fisk's "wave it fair" game six walk off homer. TV networks were looking for viewers and these night games were as big step in that direction. They were also a substantial step in the big TV contracts of the future.

 The last World Series played during the day was the final game of the 1984 series in Detroit's Tiger Stadium. Game 6 of the 1987 World Series was a scheduled day game, but it was indoors at the Metrodome in Minnesota, and thus played under the harsh glare of lights.

But people weren't talking about TV ratings or night games or any of that. Not at Shea on October 16th, 1973. They were all talking about Mike Andrews. The pregame press corps were heavily focused on the Andrews affair.

When Dick Williams took over as manager of the A's in 1970 one of the first things he tried to get done was a trade with the Boston Red Sox (Williams managed Boston from 1967 to '69) for his former rookie prospect Mike Andrews. That never came to be and shortly after Andrews became a free agent in 1973, Williams went for him again, against the wishes of Oakland owner Charlie Finley. He picked up the infielder, who hit just .190 in 18 games. Still when the A's made the playoffs for the second straight year, manager Williams kept the second baseman on the post season roster.

Andrews pinch hit twice in the ALCS vs. Baltimore, failing to reach base. In game two of the World Series he was used as a pinch hitter again, this time being left in the game to play second. All Mets fans worth their salt knows what happened then.

In the 12th inning of a 6-6 tie in game two, Mike made two errors leading to a four run New York lead. The Mets would win the game 10-7, and even before the game was over A's owner Finley was interjecting himself into the equation by contacting the teams physician and hatching a plan that was to rid the meddling owner of the veteran second baseman.

After game two Finley requested a closed door meeting with Andrews, where the team doctor had prepared a document stating the Mike had a chronic shoulder problem and would have to be replaced on the post season roster.
"Finley told me, 'If you want to help this team, the best thing you can do is step aside and let us put Manny [Trillo] in there,'" Andrews recalls. "He kept beating me down, and finally I just signed it."

Andrews signed it and flew home to Boston. When the Athletics players found out about Finley's shenanigans they all taped the number 17 to their uniforms in a show of support. A's manager Williams was very vocal of his disdain for the move, and it was this that broke the camels back with him. Win or lose, he had decided he would quit as manager of the Athletics as soon as this world series was over.

As it worked out the commissioner of baseball at the time, Bowie Kuhn, eventually forced Finley to reinstate Andrews before Game 4 in New York. Andrews would play and get a rousing ovation from Mets fans at Shea during game four. After the game Finley still insisted that Andrews not be allowed any more playing time in the series, and game four of the 1973 World Series would be the final MLB game he would ever play.

Commissioner Kuhn wasn't done with Finley. He fined him $7000 and put him on probation with threat of suspension. And Mike Andrews wasn't going to go quietly. He sued Finley for 2.5 million dollars for defamation of character. The case never went to court, as the A's owner settled with Andrews for an undisclosed amount of money. 

The game three matchup would be all aces. Tom Seaver and Catfish Hunter, both future members of baseball's Hall Of Fame, would go head to head.

 Tom was the recipient of his second  N.L. Cy Young Award in 1973. Hunter was in the running for the A.L. award, but fell short to Baltimore's Jim Palmer. Catfish would win his first Cy Young the following year in 1974.

If series fans were expecting a pitchers duel they would be surprised right off the bat. A's outfielder Joe Rudi smacked a one out double off Seaver in the first, but Tom K'd Sal Bando and Reggie Jackson to close the frame.

In the Mets half of the first, lead off  batter Wayne Garrett crushed Catfish Hunter's second pitch of the game, hitting it out of the park. The lead off home run gave the Mets a 1-0 lead before the A's even got their first out. Garrett now had two hits in this series, and both were four baggers.

This was the Mets second World Series and, just as Tommie Agee did in the '69 classic, the Mets got a lead off home run in game three. In 1986, Lenny Dykstra would also lead off a game three with a home run for the Metropolitans. That's a lead off home run in the 1st inning of their first three World Series appearances.

 This quirky streak would come to an end in the 2000 World Series, as Timo Perez struck out to start game three. Oh, Timo (you'll hear me say that again in another 27 years, but with more disgust).

 Waynes blast was followed by back to back singles by Felix Millan and Rusty Staub. Rusty, who was not 100% but in much better shape than in Oakland, intentionally poked a slow grounder to short. Mets manager Yogi Berra had put the hit & run on, and the shortstop had vacated to cover second. Staubs weak grounder went unimpeded into left field moving Millan over to third base.

A's manager Dick Williams was not messing around. He got John "Bluemoon" Odom up in the bullpen.

With Cleon Jones up Hunter uncorked a wild pitch off Ray Fosse's knee pad. As the ball skipped into the Athletics dugout Felix Millan skipped home and New York had a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning of game three.

The A's pitcher was able to fan Jones, bringing big John Milner to the plate. Milner tapped one back to the mound, and visions of Catfish completely unraveling danced in our heads as he couldn't handle the comebacker, and The Hammer reached first on error. But the A's pitcher pulled the string, striking out Jerry Grote and getting Don Hahn to fly out sharply to left.

In the meantime Tom Seaver found  his groove and was cruising. He struck out the side in the second, giving him 5 K's in a row.

Catfish Hunter would settle down, and at this point it did become somewhat of a pitchers duel, although there were no more 1-2-3 innings for either ace. Each would keep their opponent from getting into scoring position again until the 4th when Gene Tenace, who drew a base on balls, took second on a Vic Davalillo dribbler in front of the plate that went for a single.
 Karl Ehrhardt, The Sign Guy
Seaver ended that threat right there, inducing a ground out to short by Ray Fosse.

The Mets half of the 4th was eventful, but not productive. Mets centerfielder Don Hahn roped a drive down the left field line that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double. Facing the bottom of the lineup Catfish got two quick outs and then thought it wise to walk Wayne Garrett intentionally. Waynes lead-off bomb spooked the righthander, and Hunter decided he'd rather set up the force than challenge the Mets third baseman again (that was speculative drama).

That put New York runners on 1st and 2nd, two out. Felix Millan came to the plate and tapped a slow roller to third that Sal Bando could not field cleanly. Millan was awarded a single and the bases were loaded with Rusty Staub up. This was perfect and just what we wanted. Ducks on the pond for Rusty. Rusty dug in and Catfish Hunter bore down, resulting in a little comebacker to the A's pitcher, who fielded it flawlessly and skirted disaster.

In the top of the 5th Tom Seaver showed signs of getting stronger, striking out the side again, but in the 6th he seemed to fall off dramatically. Leading off the inning A's outfielder Joe Rudi crushed one to deep right center. Don Hahn & Rusty Staub took off after it. A typical Metropolitan fans thoughts at a moment like this is usually:"Please, just don't run into each other."

Earlier in the season Don Hahn was involved in a violent collision with George "The Stork" Theodore chasing a fly down in left center. Both were injured, Theodore seriously with a dislocated hip.
But here Hahn took the lead, Rusty made way, and the Mets centerfielder made a beautiful leaping catch in front of the wall, robbing Rudi of extra bases.
Don had the chance to pull an Agee and make 2 great catches in one world series game, again a game three. Because Sal Bando followed with a deeper drive to straight center.

Hahn could not get to this one. He misjudged his distance from the wall because of an extended warning track (due to the field being chewed up in the NLCS). It hit off the base of the wall and Bando pulled up with a double. You can see that Hahn also misjudged where the warning track was while making his fine grab.

Tom Terrific turned it up a notch for the A's most feared hitter, Reggie Jackson, and struck out the slugger. It was Reggie's 3rd K of the game, and Seaver's 10th.
             Mr. Octowhober?

The Met ace needed one more out (you know when I say that, there's trouble ahead). Gene Tenace roped a liner to the left field corner. It landed just fair for a double and Sal Bando scored Oaklands first run, cutting New Yorks lead in  half.

 After 6 innings Catfish Hunter was done. Darold Knowles took over and went two innings, allowing only one walk.

Real Topps WS card^
Meanwhile things got bumpy again for Seaver in the 8th. That pest Bert Campaneris lead off the frame with a single. He immediately stole second on a very close play and was in scoring position for Joe Rudi. The A's #2 batter stroked a grasscutter through the hole at second and Campy scurried around with the tying run.
mfc Doppelgänger
Tom Seaver's evening was over as Jim Beauchamp batted for him in the Mets half of the 8th, lining out to end a 1-2-3 inning. Crafty lefthander Ray Sadecki would start the 9th for New York, but he would not last long. Yogi Berra wished to avoid using Tug McGraw in game 3 due to the fact that he threw 6 innings in game two.

But Sadecki was in trouble right away. Felix Millan made another error at second to open the inning, and Vic Davalillo reached safely. Pat Bourque, who was in for A's catcher Ray Fosse, laid down a bunt past the mound towards second. It was a nice bunt single putting Oakland runners on first and second, no outs. That was it for Yogi- he called on Tug, and as always, Tug was ready, willing and able.

McGraw's first batter was Ted Kubiak, and he also laid down a bunt. McGraw snatched it up and threw to third for the force out on the lead runner. There were still two runners on as Angel Mangual came on to hit for Oaklands pitcher, Knowles. Tug knew what he needed here.

He went for it, and blew away Mangual on 3 pitches! Now Tug had to deal with pain-in-the-butt Campaneris. Campy worked the count full and you had to wonder how much Tug had left. He had enough to get the shortstop to pop meekly out to center. Shea went pretty crazy cheering Tug as he walked from the mound.

In the 10th inning Rusty Staub lined a double into the gap in left center. Because of Staubs injury he was trying to hit the ball to opposite field, which was easier on his shoulder. But even to opposite field, Rusty had power, and he would show this throughout the series. Here in the 10th, Rusty was stranded at second.

"I would guess that Tug has to be tired. It's like asking a starting pitcher to come back after pitching a complete game on a day and a half rest."
NBC Broadcaster Tony Kubek

Tug McGraw, master fireman, would pitch the 10th and the A's would threaten. Felix Millan made his second error of the game (3rd of the series) allowing Sal Bando to stretch a single into two. Bando got to third base, but was stranded there. Tug got Mr. NotOctober Jackson to ground out, intentionally walked Tenace, and got Vic Davalillo to pop out to Rusty in right.

In the bottom of the 10th only Buddy Harrelson made some noise for the Mets with a single to right. Willie Mays, batting for Tug, grounded into a force play to end the inning.

Harry Parker, a relief pitcher New York picked up with Jim Beauchamp in 1971, had his most productive season in 1973. He went 8-4 with a 3.35 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 131⅔ innings of work to become an integral contributor for the Mets National League pennant run.
Parker started out well getting one quick out, then surrendered a walk to Ted Kubiak. Harry K'd Angel Mangual but the always reliable Jerry Grote let the third strike get by him. Jerry was crossed up by an unintentional cut fastball from the Met reliever.

Grote was also behind the plate for every inning of every game in this series, got pretty banged up in Oakland (hbp/wrist), and he had to be fatigued by the 11th inning. He said as much after the game, because Jerry of all people knew that he should not have lost the handle on that pitch. It ended up being a huge play.

That little bandito Bert Campaneris was up next, and of course he bloops a single over short, driving in the Athletics 3rd run of the game to give them the lead. Centerfielder Don Hahn was able to cut down the A's shortstop, who tried to take 2nd on the play, but the damage was done.

 New York had the top of the lineup coming up in the bottom of the 11th. They needed one to keep it alive, two to win. Wayne Garrett gave hope with a lead off single.

A's pitcher Paul Lindblad, who pitched two fine innings in relief, now made way for the A's master fireman, Rollie Fingers. Felix Millan greeted Fingers with a bunt down the 1st baseline, sacrificing Garrett to second. With one out things lined up perfectly for New York. A runner in scoring position with both Rusty Staub and Cleon Jones coming up. But Fingers got Rusty to fly out to center, and Jones grounded out to...who else, shortstop Bert Campaneris.

The Mets had lost game three in New York and the A's were up a game, 2-1. Tom ended up with 12 strikeouts and allowed 2 earned runs. The winning run in the 11th was unearned. Harry Parker got hit with the loss. Oaklands Paul Lindblad got the win and Rollie Fingers, the save.

 From a fans perspective, being back home in New York, with a performance like that from Seaver, plus a shaky Catfish Hunter, the Mets really should have won this game. They had a runner on in every inning except the 8th. The team had 14 left on base, 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Felix Millan had three errors, and we were undone by a Grote passed ball, as rare an occurrence as it gets in a Mets loss.
Woe was me.

Umpires: HP - Jerry Neudecker, 1B - Paul Pryor, 
2B - Russ Goetz, 3B - Harry Wendelstedt, 
LF - Marty Springstead, RF - Augie Donatelli.
Time of Game: 3:15.

Attendance: 54,817.

Field Condition: Kinda messed up

Start Time Weather: Not like California. Kinda nippy.

2014 NL Golden Glove Centerfielder
 What a joy to watch this guy do his thing.

 Coming up, hopefully before Christmas, 
Game Four of the 1973 World Series 

Working on a Gene Mack (like) version of Shea Stadium.