Designated HitterApril 14, 2005
Slip Sliding Away
By Steve Lombardi

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


Wow. As a new reader, I have to say that I'm amazed by your historical and statistical acrobatics. I'd love to know how long it takes you to slide from there to here, but I know I really shouldn't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain. I'll just look forward to the next one.

Thanks Hank. The timing depends on the particular slide. Sometimes the next move is on the tip of my tongue. Other times, it requires some noodling.........but, it's all fun, nonetheless.

OK, let's have some fun with this. I'll slide from Pedro Martinez to Sandy Koufax. Both pitchers were signed by the Dodgers, and they had remarkably similar statistics through the ages of 30 in the case of Koufax (when he retired) and 31 for Martinez. They both won three Cy Young Awards and, for a number of years during their career, were the most dominant pitchers in the game.

Who wants to take a turn at sliding from Sandy Koufax?

I was just thinking about Ontiveros the other day.

My college friends and I are the only people in the world who associate Ontiveros with a perfect game. We set up a Pursue The Pennant dice game league our freshman year, using cards from 1987. Ontiveros pitched a perfect game against the Expos.

Pedro Martinez, of course, went on to win a World Championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Pedro then signed as a free agent with the New York Mets for the 2005 season and stubbornly refused to accept his championship ring due to a bad attitude. The Mets, incidentally, were the team that defeated the Boston Red Sox in their last World Series appearance in 1986 when Roger Clemens emerged as a star by winning the AL MYP & Cy Young Awards. Red Sox GM Dan Duquette brilliantly deduced that Clemens was about finished following the 1996 season, and allowed him to leave for greener pastures in Toronto, where he won back-to-back Triple Crowns and picked up a couple of more Cy Youngs in 1997 & 1998. The next pitcher to win back-to-back Triple Crowns would be Pedro Martinez. Following a one-year void (1997)without a true ace, Boston signed Pedro to replace Clemens as the staff ace in 1998. Pedro went on to play Roger Maris to Clemens' Babe Ruth by having arguably two of the greatest pitching seasons ever in 1999 & 2000, and Red Sox fans began to view Pedro as a simple, fun-loving ballplayer while Roger became a villain in their eyes. Now that Pedro is gone, Red Sox fans are beginning to realize that maybe they would have been better off keeping Clemens all along. After all, aside from those two stellar years, Clemens has been the superior pitcher (again, think Babe Ruth and not Roger Maris) and the 2004 Red Sox -- when it finally really mattered -- would have been a stronger team with Clemens in the rotation instead of Pedro if you compare stat lines. Finally, do you think Roger Clemens, who has always shown an appreciation for baseball history throughout his career, would have been as classless as Pedro when it came to the ring ceremony? (I'm not bitter or anything though).

I'll make a weak attempt as a slide...

While in college, Sandy Koufax played basketball as well as baseball at the University of Cincinatti. Nearly 40 years after Koufax's retirement, the only major league baseball player to have had a career in basketball prior to having a career in baseball is Mark Hendrickson, who also happens to be a lefty. Of course, the similarities end there - Koufax was one of the smaller guys in the league, whereas Hendrickson is one of the biggest, Koufax had one of the speediest fastballs in the league whereas Hendrickson has one of the slowest fastball average speeds, and while Koufax led the league in strikeout rate 6 times, Hendrickson was in the bottom 5 in strikeout rate for the majors out of qualifying pitchers last year.

"Who wants to take a turn at sliding from Sandy Koufax?"

Sandy's birth name was Sanford Braun. Now, that could lead to a Mo Sandford stream, or a Steve Braun stream...........and, I'll take the latter.

I want to say that it was Steve Braun who pretended that he was a DJ and took Bob Feller deep in a HR contest in Louisville; but, I don't have John Morris' book with me at the moment.

So, I'll say that Steve was born in Trenton, New Jersey. The same state that Eric Karros was born in.......anyone want to take Karros?

Clemens, Mark Hendrickson, Karros. Oh, my. Lots of streams to take. Slide away ya'll!

To tie in Pedro, Clemens, and hit batsmen, Clemens has even more hit batsmen than Pedro (147-115).

Although Clemens is a known head hunter, it is astonishing that the man with pin-point control and a fastball that could really hurt was Walter "Big Train" Johnson. He has a reputation as a gentleman and easygoing, but the statistics belie that

Are we using these stats right?

John - you might enjoy some research that I did on this 3 years ago. No one hits more with intent than Petey. See:

Let's try to find a common thread for Clemens, Hendrickson, and Karros. OK, all three players are 6'4" or taller and played Division I College Baseball. I'm going to slide it over to Chris Young, a 6'10" right-hander out of Princeton.

And, Princeton is an Ivy League School. Same as Yale. Where Ron Darling pitched when he was in college.

On May 21, 1981, Darling, while at Yale, pitched an 11-inning no-hitter but lost in the 12th. The pitcher facing him that day was Frank Viola.

Someone can take it from Sweet Music........

Speaking of Sweet Music, we would come to Steve Sax, Dodger Rookie of the Year. He had one fluke season in 1986 when he batted .332, and then some serviceable years in NY, where he replaced Willie Randolph, current Mets manager. Randolph was Sax's most similar comp age 28-34

That was great writing on Ralph Terry...I recall the two World Series games so vividly that I need to post this...

I heard the 1960 7th game and Bill Mazeroski's home run on the radio. I had a very special interest because I am from Eastern Ohio in the greater Pittsburgh area, and I played against Maz in high school..he's from a small eastern Ohio coal-mining town, as I am. And back in the 1950's and 60's, each coal mine sponsored a baseball team...they called them semi-pros.

I recall that I was in Chicago in 1960 with my roommates who were all from the same Ohio area...and I said "come on Maz, hit a homer and Tiltonsville will shine tonight!" And he did. Tiltonsville being where Maz's high school of Warren Consolidated was located. (a crazy world series with some high lopsided high scoring games against the Pirates, esp. when Bob Friend started.)

Many years later I got to be friends with sports writer/editor Bill Van Horne of the Wheeling News Register, who was a sports writer for what must have been 50 years... a great writer...and I once asked him about his greatest thrill...and without hesitation, he said Mazeroski's home run...he added that he had covered Maz since Maz was a local high school star and teenaged shorstop on the DunGlen Miners semi-pro team, playing with much older men. VanHorne said that all the writers in the press box knew that "he was my boy" meaning that they all knew about his long-running coverage of Maz and his connection to him.

I saw the 1962 Willie McCovey line drive on a black and white TV in the dayroom of a barracks on a small base of the Atlantic Missile Range located on Grand Bahama Island and on TV channel 4 from Miami...I thought that if the drive went several feet higher or out of the range of Richardson, that the Giants would have won and Terry would have to live with his losing on two critical world series games.

I was rooting for the Giants because I am a life-long Indians fan, and that made me an anti-Yankee.

"Nearly 40 years after Koufax's retirement, the only major league baseball player to have had a career in basketball prior to having a career in baseball is Mark Hendrickson"
I would toss in Ron Reed (Pistons, Braves) and Danny Ainge (Celtics, Blue Jays), who played baseball in Toronto before Clemens and basketball in Boston concurrently.
But how about sliding over to basketball/baseball wannabe Michael Jordan, who once starred in a film with Bugs Bunny, who proved the world was round by throwing a baseball around it.

sandy Koufax is listed by Baseball reference as being 6'2" and weighing 210 pounds. In those days, he was fairly big, I should think.