Slip Sliding Away
Every once in a while, I will pick a date in baseball history and take what happened on that date, and then play a game that I like to call "Slider."
I call it "Slider" for two reasons. First, because the object of the game is to "slide" from something on that date in baseball history to another baseball-related item, and keep the stream going for as long as you can manage. Secondly, I call it "Slider" because, as a batter, when you see a pitched baseball with a red "dot" on it, it's a "Slider." And, since what you aim to do in this exercise is to connect the dots, "Slider" just seemed to be a good name for this game.
For this episode of "Slider," I am going to start with October 16, 1962. This was the day that Game Seven of the 1962 World Series (between the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants) was played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
Ordinarily, the winner-take-all game in a World Series is exciting enough as a standalone entity. However, there are some very interesting storylines associated to this particular game that make this one standout (to me) more than most other notable Series games. And, the majority of these storylines involve New York Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry.
Exactly two years and three days earlier, Ralph Terry was called into the 8th inning of Game Seven of the 1960 World Series (between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates) to close out that frame. At that moment, it appeared as if Terry's effort in the 8th would be his final work for the 1960 season. The Yankees were losing the game by a score of nine to seven and were down to their final three outs. However, New York rallied for two runs in their half of the 9th and tied the game at nine. This gave Terry a chance to continue in the game. Unfortunately for Ralph, the first batter that he faced in that next inning was Bill Mazeroski and he hit a walk-off homerun to win the Series for the Pirates.
So, now, here is Ralph Terry in another Game Seven in 1962 with a chance for some World Series legacy redemption. However, just the fact that Terry was on the mound for this game required some divine intervention.
Ralph had pitched Game Two of the Series and then came back on normal (four days) rest to pitch Game Five. Terry won that Game Five with a complete game. The next two starting pitchers for New York after Game Five should have been a gimpy Bill Stafford or someone else (for Game Six) and then Whitey Ford (for Game Seven), if necessary. However, Hurricane Frieda hit the West Coast and brought cause for Game Five of the Series to be pushed back for three days. This delay enabled the Yankees to start Ford in Game Six and have Terry come back to throw Game Seven.
And, what a Game Seven it was for Ralph Terry. He had a Perfect Game going into the 6th inning which was broken up with two out in that frame when Jack Sanford (a pitcher!) of the Giants singled to right-center. Terry would go on to hold the Giants to two hits and no runs over the first eight innings. And, these innings were tight for Terry -- as the best the Yankees could do was scratch out one run in the 5th inning of the game.
This all led to the 9th inning of this game. Terry was still on the hill for New York and clinging to that one-nothing lead. Matty Alou led off the 9th for the Giants with a pinch-hit drag bunt single. However, Ralph rebounded to whiff the next two batters that he faced. Now, one out away from the win and the championship, Terry had to face Willie Mays.
Coming inside to Mays with his first two pitches, Ralph fell behind in the count. Next, Terry fired a fastball, low and away, that Mays managed to line into the right field corner for a double that would have tied the score (99 times out of 100) except the Yankees Roger Maris made a great play getting to the ball and holding Matty Alou to third base. Next up for the Giants was Willie McCovey (with the tying run now on third and the winning run on second). Yankees manager Ralph Houk elected to leave Ralph Terry in the game and they chose to pitch to McCovey (despite the open base at first).
McCovey fouled off the first pitch from Terry. On the next offering, McCovey uncoiled and launched a rocket line-drive. After the game, Willie called it "the hardest ball I ever hit." Unfortunately for the Giants, McCovey hit the ball towards Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson who snared it at shoulder height for the final out of the game and the championship. As a result of all this, Game Seven of the 1962 World Series was one of the most exciting baseball games in history. And, in honor of Ralph Terry's contribution to this moment in baseball history, we are going to use him as our first sliding point in this edition of "Sliders."
In 1964, the Yankees traded Ralph Terry to the Cleveland Indians. In exchange, New York received pitcher Pedro Ramos.
Ramos would pitch with the Yankees through 1966 and then began to bounce around a bit. During his last year in the majors (1970) he pitched in a handful of games for the Washington Senators.
Pedro actually broke into the big leagues with Washington in 1955. However, that was the Washington team that moved to Minnesota in 1961. In fact, Ramos pitched the final Senators game in 1960 before they moved to become the Twins. The Washington team that Ramos joined in 1970 was the Senators that would eventually move to Texas (in 1972) and become the Rangers.
Jeff Burroughs was also a member (albeit for a brief period of time) of those 1970 Washington Senators. Burroughs was the first overall selection in the 1969 baseball draft. He was followed in the draft by J.R. Richard (who was selected second overall by the Houston Astros).
On July 30, 1980, J.R. Richard suffered a stroke during a workout and his major league career essentially ended on that date. On that same day, the Minnesota Twins Jerry Koosman pitched a 10-inning complete game, three-hit, victory (by the score of two to one) over the New York Yankees.
The next season, Koosman was traded to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for three players and cash. One of the players was Randy Johnson. No, it was not THAT Randy Johnson -- it was a then 23-year-old Designated Hitter named Randy Johnson who never really amounted to much in the big leagues. But, THIS Randy Johnson was born on August 15, 1958 -- the same date that Joe Cowley was born.
Joe Cowley, as a member of the Chicago White Sox, would go on to pitch one of the ugliest no-hitters in baseball history on September 19, 1986 (against the California Angels) when he walked seven batters during the contest (in a 7-1 win). Bob Boone scored the lone run for the Angels in this game.
Bob Boone retired from active playing in 1990 as a member of the Kansas City Royals. Jeff Conine would make his major league debut that same season, also with the Royals. The Royals would allow Conine to be taken in the 1992 Expansion Draft by the Florida Marlins. As a member of the Marlins, Jeff Conine would be named the Most Valuable Player in the 1995 All-Star Game. Conine came into the game as a pinch-hitter and homered in his first ever All-Star At Bat. The pitcher who surrendered the hit was Steve Ontiveros of the Oakland A's.
In 1994, Steve Ontiveros led the American League in ERA without the benefit of pitching a shutout during the entire season. The next pitcher to lead his league in ERA without registering a shutout would be Pedro Martinez in 2002 (with the Boston Red Sox).
Through 2004, Pedro Martinez hit 115 batters with pitches during the regular season in his career.
This Pedro tidbit allows for many sliding directions from this point. This is probably a good time to let someone else do the sliding. Take it from here for me. Feel free to continue this one in the comments options below. Thanks for following along this far. I hope this edition of "Sliders" was fun for you.
Steve Lombardi has been writing baseball-related content on the Internet since 1997. His first baseball book will be available in May 2005. For more information on the book, feel free to drop Steve a line at email@example.com