Draft Analysis by J. Russell PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sam Kossoff   
Friday, 27 May 2016 15:46

Ted Simmons is a great first pick. He will come in to the league as a really good hitter who will develop more power and eye while his contact drops a little. He's an average defensive catcher, and that is more than acceptable with his bat. He'll be an All Star for years to come and could find himself in the HOF one day.

Larry Hisle to the Cardinals at #2. Cards are still trying to find their mojo as they haven't won the division since '58. That's nine years in a row finishing at least 12 games out of first. There isn't much help on the farm right now either. This was a year they really could have used a great pitcher at the top of the draft, and I kind of expected them to go for Messersmith. They decided to go with another outfielder in Hisle. He will step in as one of their top three or four hitters and their probably starting right fielder.

So, last year the Pittsburgh Pirates tied for second in the NL in runs scored and finished dead last in runs allowed. Surely, if anybody needs more pitching, it is the Pirates. However, when you look at their top three starters, you have Sam McDowell, Steve Carlton, and Tom Seaver. All of them are still on track to be just as good as you'd expect. As a result, they should have the most devastating rotation in the league very soon. It drops off after that, but it is a great start. Their offense was carried last year by Rico Carty and Paul Smith. They let Smith go and extended Carty's contract. Going into next season, the offense looks like it needs help, and they certainly picked up that help in the draft with power hitting catcher, Koichi Tabuchi. He's also an excellent defender, but he may not be major league ready unless the Pirates are willing to take a chance. Considering the fact that they have nothing currently at catcher, it seems likely that he will be a big leaguer out of the chute.

Last year's Orioles finished second to last in the AL in both offense and defense, meaning they need help everywhere. They have an aging pitching staff behind young Nolan Ryan who is still coming in to his own. They've also got a handful of good, young hitters including Dick Allen, Tony Conigliaro, Sachio Kinugasa, and Bobby Murcer. Really, this draft pick needed to be about just picking the best player available, regardless of position. They are probably a year or two away from really contending yet. They went with five-tool player Bobby Bonds who should step right in as an all-around producer who could contend for Gold Gloves in the corner positions as well as home run and steals titles.

The Detroit Tigers really need help all over the field. They've got second-year Reggie Jackson who is still coming in to his own and some solid starting pitching. After that, things are a bit shaky. They picked Al Oliver with their first round pick, and he will step right in and join Reggie in the middle of their order. Was he the best player available? In this draft, with so much depth among guys who are of relatively equal value, it is hard to say. I honestly thought they would go with third baseman Bill Melton, just because they have some decent outfielders and could use the help in the infield. Still, it is not a bad pick, and he should help them out quite a bit.

Cleveland is another team who had an exceptional offense last year, leading the AL in runs per game, but an horrific pitching staff, finishing last in the AL in ERA. They were also last in BABIP, indicating major defensive challenges. Coming into 1968, they still have the Might Oh and the rising Peter Edward Rose. It falls off a bit after that with a couple of nice catchers in Duane Josephson and Manny Sanguillen and a man without a position in Cesar Gutierrez whose poor error rates make him a bit of a liability in spite of his other defensive skills. There could be a reversal for them this year as their pitching may be better than their lineup with Fred Newman, Luis Tiant, Jim Britton, and Juan Pizarro making a solid rotation.

So, with their first round pick, they went with offense in
Richie Hebner who may step into the lineup as their starting third baseman. Unfortunately, The Gravedigger is one of those guys with more ability now than later. As such, the Indians will have to hope they can strike in the next year or two and hope that he holds up. In my opinion, they might have been better off going with Bill Melton or Rick Renick if they were looking for an infielder, but Hebner should be very good this year.

The Yankees were pretty much the exact opposite of the Indians last year. They had very good performances from all five starters and finished second in pitching in the AL. The offense was a mess, though, and they got their best season from a 35-year old Mickey Mantle. Going into next year, it looks like Mantle is still their top hitter.

That is until they picked up Big John Mayberry in the draft. He is an immediate MVP candidate as a rookie and will be a huge run producer. Unfortunately, he is going to drop. He will remain a big power threat for a long time, but the rest of his game is going to fall off, presumably due to weight issues. However, for this season, he's a stud, and this owner is not happy about seeing him in my division.

Atlanta is in an interesting spot. They went unmanaged the first half of the season last year due to technical difficulties and looked like the worst team in baseball. They were 23-55 in the first half. Then they got some management and went 47-29 in the second half including an 18-4 record in September. On the season, they finished in the bottom half of the NL in both offense and defense but are clearly most in need of offense having only two players finish with an OPS over .750 and nobody over .800.

In the draft, they went with
Hal McRae. It is an interesting choice for first year manager, Joseph Dion. McRae is a stud against lefties, but he is not as strong against righties. He's no slouch, but his production is a little weak there compared so some other players. He still has a little room for growth, though. Defensively, he is no great shakes but isn't going to kill you either. That isn't to say it is a bad pick, because he's still going to hit better than most anybody they have right now. However, there might have been some better choices.

Last season's Twins finished similarly to the Braves in that they were in the bottom half of the league in both pitching and hitting. Coming in to this season, they have some nice pieces on the pitching staff in Pete Richert and Phil Niekro but will be missing Denny McLain for most of the season. They also have a couple of guys in the minors who are ready to help right now on top of some flame throwers in the pen. Offense is probably their biggest need as they fall off fast after Willie McCovey, Carl Yastrzemski, and Ron Santo.

Unfortunately, there was some sort of SNAFU in the front office, and they got auto-picked. As is often the case, they got screwed. It isn't that
Choji Murata is a bad player. He will probably be a serviceable starter. It just was a long way from what they needed. With a good deal of offense available in this draft, they could have shored up that lineup. As it is, they will have to keep looking.

The New York Giants led the NL in offense last year, scoring ten percent more runs than the second place team. Led by Jimmy Wynn, Willie Stargell, and Tony Perez, they look to continue to have a solid offense but definitely look to have some holes to fill. Their pitching was pretty average but still looks good on paper for this year. A sometimes shaky defense might be holding the staff back a bit.

In the draft, they decided to strengthen the lineup and the defense with
Don Money. Even though he has some room to grow, he should step in as the team's starting third baseman and should be solid offensively and very strong defensively.

Last year, the Dodgers had an average offense and an above average pitching staff. However, one of their better starters last year, Woodie Fryman, has lost some of his ability and can't be relied upon. So, the team decided to strengthen their aging rotation with Andy Messersmith. We had been wondering when someone was going to pick Bluto, and the Dodgers pulled the trigger. He will be able to come into the rotation as the #3 or 4 starter behind Masaaki Koyama and Bob Gibson to give the Dodgers a starting staff nobody is really going to want to face.

The World Series champion Cubs felt they needed to strengthen a club that had a great playoff run but an 84-70 regular season record. The Cubs have never been shy about making big trades, and this year was no exception. They traded their entire draft to the Boston Red Sox to move up four spots in the first round. You could make a strong argument that what this team really needed was offense as they finished dead last in the NL in runs, but they went against convention and decided to strengthen their strongest element, the pitching staff. They didn't need starting pitching as they are still very strong there. They felt that their bullpen needed help and picked up Rollie Fingers. He has a chance to be a fantastic reliever for a long time, even though he still has some room to grow. Combined with Lindy McDaniel and whoever doesn't make it into the rotation, Fingers makes them even more formidable. With their offense, they are going to be in some close games, and this should help keep them near the top.

The White Sox of 1967 had a good, all-around offense led by Don Buford and Doug Rader, even if nobody really stood out. Their pitching staff was above average, headed by Milt Pappas and his 21 wins with a strong 21 saves from Fred Gladding. In 1968, they still have a good pitching staff if they are a little shallow in the rotation. They get Kunio Jonouchi back off the DL, and he will help. The offense is likely to be even better as budding superstar Rick Monday is coming in to his own.

That offense was bolstered by the draft of
Merv Rettenmund who could actually vie for an MVP this season as the White Sox's right fielder. Unfortunately, his excellence is likely to be short-lived. The real world Rettenmund was an outstanding hitter until he was about 28 years old when something happened. That is likely to be reflected in his BOY life, but in the meantime, he could easily help get the Sox to the playoffs.

The Phillies find themselves in the unenviable spot of being the lowest drafting team not in the World Series, having lost to the eventual champion Cubs in the playoffs. Their success was carried by their pitching staff who led the NL in pitching with strong performances from Don Drysdale and the rest of the staff. The offense was another story as Al Kaline carried the whole team. At the same time, that team put together an excellent defense leading to an excellent .245 BABIP.

To help address the offensive issues, the team drafted LF
Carlos May who will walk in to the majors as a big-time threat, particularly against right handed pitching. He's not going to do much for you defensively, but he will definitely help them score more runs. If they can keep up the pitching excellence, they have a good chance to win the division yet again.

Last year's AL champions, the Kansas City A's had the best pitching staff and second best offense and defense in the league. That's just craziness. They put together a really strong team and had to be super disappointed at not winning the championship. They come back this year with the same excellent rotation plus Bill Upton blowing hitters away at the end of games. Plus, they only lost one significant bat in Lee Maye. All things considered, there really aren't a lot of holes here, and anything they pick up in the draft is gravy.

Coincidentally, they may be replacing Lee Maye with
Carlos May, who happens to have a brother named Lee. Maye platooned in LF against RHP, and that is exactly Carlos May's strength. He hits LHP well also, just not as well. He is another one of those guys who is better now than he is going to be in the future, but that's okay for a contender like the A's


Finishing up the first round is the Boston Red Sox, who took the A's to seven games in the playoffs last year. They really had a very mediocre team last year, finishing in the middle of the pack in pitching and hitting. They have been cobbling their squad together for years with platoon hitting and pitchers who were just good enough. That was true last year as well as they got 23 wins from surprising Roberto Valdes and 31 homers and 100 RBI from Nate Colbert in the only offensive performance of note. This is a good draft for them, however, as they really need offense, and this draft has plenty of it. That is why they decided to make a big trade with the Cubs to drop down to this spot while picking up the rest of the Cubs's draft.

With this first round pick, the Sox picked the might Samoan,
Tony Solaita, who probably would have been the player they would have chosen even if they hadn't traded down. The lefty-hitting Solaita might possess the biggest power bat in the game before he even steps on the field. He is a classic power hitter, but his OBP shouldn't kill the lineup as he also has a strong eye. The Sox are hoping he can live up to that potential and hoping they can continue to strengthen the offense with all of those extra picks.

Red Sox Repeat in '52! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jason Russell   
Sunday, 18 November 2012 10:50

In a repeat of the 1950 World Series, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs met up once again to decide the champion of the world of baseball. Both teams have been making a habit of appearing in the Fall Classic of late as the Red Sox have now been three times in a row after having previously not appeared in the World Series since 1918. The Cubs have been regular participants, having appeared 11 times since 1928, including 4 of the last 6. The Sox managed to pull out last year's championship over a game New York Giants team after losing the 1950 Series, and the Bostonians were itching for payback.

This year's Boston team had limped into the playoffs, having only an 18-28 record in August and September but still managed to hold off the Yankees and Indians who had been pretty much as awful. That, combined with the loss of 19 game winner Mike Garcia and solid rotation starter Chris Van Cuyk along with veteran on-base machine Augie Galan left the Sox wondering if they had the horses to make another run at this thing. Meanwhile, the Cubs had a stellar second half, finishing with a 14-5 September which allowed them to really pull away from the Atlanta Braves for the division championship.

In the League Championship, Boston surprised everybody by defeating the Kansas City Athletics in their first season in the Show-Me State in five games, including one-run victories in the final two games. The A's finished the season first in the AL in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed and had every reason to expect a victory over a Boston team that also had a strong offense but had struggled to stop anyone else from scoring at times. However, Boston pulled it out in a close series, outscoring KC by only a 17-14 margin over the series. In the NL, Chicago also had their work cut out for them, facing off against a Giants team that was determined to avenge their loss in the World Series last season. New York came into the series with the best record in baseball, having put up a stellar 97 wins on the season with an offense that scored the most runs in baseball and the second best defense in the majors after Kansas City. However, that offense was largely stymied by a strong Cubs pitching staff whose bats came alive, defeating the New York squad in six games to send them to the Series yet again.

Game 1 - The Cubs started off at a slight disadvantage to Boston in spite of having the home field to begin the Series since they had to play an extra playoff game. This put Boston on track at the top of their rotation while 29-game winner Howie Pollet started the final game of the New York series. So, the Red Sox sent up 19-game winning, 23-year old lefty Curt Simmons in Game 1 while the Cubs countered with veteran lefty Tal Abernathy, the 1949 winner of the NL Joe Wood Award and a victor in 172 BOY games. The Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as leadoff man Whitey Lockman tripled on the second pitch of the Series and scored on a sacrifice fly. The Cubs struck back and took the lead on solo homers by rookie superstar Bob Cerv in the bottom of the fifth and newly acquired slugger Duke Snider, picked up from the rival St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline, in the bottom of the sixth. However, the Sox tied it up off of Abernathy in the top of the seventh and continued their onslaught against reliever Pinky Woods, scoring 4 runs in a two-out rally that included a bases clearing double by Shotgun Shuba. The unfortunate thing for the Cubs was that they had a chance at getting out of the inning until Cerv's insufficiency as an infielder caused him to boot a potential double play ball early in the inning that would have surely prevented the rally. The Sox take home the victory on the Cubs turf, 6-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the Series.

Game 2 - There seemed to be a distinct advantage for Chicago in Game 2 as they sent master pitcher Jiro Noguchi and his 21 wins to the mound against strong-armed, but control-challenged Soup Polivka who had missed three months of the season with a hamstring injury and hadn't pitched since June until going 1-1 against the A's in the League Championship. However, Noguchi had a physical challenge of his own, having suffered a mild shoulder strain against the Giants and being pulled in his one start. The Cubs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a solo homer by Jackie Robinson while Noguchi held the Sox scoreless through the first three innings. However, Polivka was more than up to the challenge, keeping the Cubs from scoring again through seven innings while only allowing 4 more hits and an uncharacteristic 2 walks. Meanwhile, the Sox jumped on Noguchi in the fourth and fifth, including a solo homer from rookie Joe Caffie. They tacked on two more on a two-run shot from Whitey Lockman in the 7th, but they already had more than enough as veteran reliever Charlie Stanceau pitched to the minimum in the final two frames to secure the 5-1 victory and send the teams to Boston with the Red Sox up 2 games to none.

Game 3 - The Cubs finally got to see their superstar ace, Howie Pollet on this Sunday evening, and it was a good thing with the Boston wind blowing heavily out to center field. Pollet clearly outmatched Boston swingman Tom Poholsky who had only won 6 games on the season but had secured an important victory in a complete game against Kansas City in the League Championship. The fans were treated to a classic pitchers' duel. The Cubs attacked in the top of the fourth with doubles from Robinson and Mickey Mantle, scoring two runs in the frame. The Sox struck back in the bottom of the 6th after an error by Pollet put Steve Bilko on first base. Catcher Hawk Silvestri followed with a double blasted deep into Fenway's cavernous center field which allowed Bilko to come all the way around to score. However, Pollet was otherwise masteful, walking nobody in a complete game, scattering 8 hits and only allowing that single run to score. The visiting team won the third game in a row in this unusual Series, but the Cubs still had their work cut out for them with two games left in Boston.

Game 4 - In a repeat of Game 1, Simmons faced off once again against Abernathy, and neither pitcher disappointed. The Sox struck first in the bottom of the initial frame as the Cubs defense failed them again. Normally sure-handed Jackie Robinson erred on a grounder from leadoff man Lockman. Lockman was eventually thrown out at the plate as he challenged right fielder Jim Lemon who had 15 outfield assists on the season. However, that extra out the Cubs failed to make was costly as Silvestri drove in Buddy Kerr on a two-strike single. Robinson made up for that error with a solo homer in the top of the sixth inning that tied the game at one apiece, but that was all Simmons was going to give up on this day. He and Abernathy went head to head for nine innings, and the Cubs manager showed faith in Abernathy in the ninth even after he allowed a leadoff walk on four pitches to George Hausmann] and followed that by allowing a single to veteran [url=http://baseball-backtothefuture.com/game/lgreports/news/html/players/player_4913.html]Charlie Brewster who had spent most of the season riding the pine in Pawtucket and was only on the big league roster due to the injury to Galan. After a popup from rookie Ted Lepcio, Abernathy faced what looked like a sure out in Dick Kokos, a platoon player who only had 39 ABs all season against lefties, hitting a paltry .154 against southpaws. However, the Sox bench was looking short and extra innings were a possibility. So, the Boston manager put Kokos in to pinch hit for Simmons against Abernathy, who looked to be tiring out. Kokos took a strike and then a ball before making contact and hitting a weak flyball into short center field that Mantle couldn't catch up to. With two outs, the runners were moving on contact, and Hausmann scored easily from second base to give the Sox a 3-1 Series lead.

Game 5 - Clearly the Cubs needed this game desperately, not only to extend the Series but to send them back home with Pollet and Noguchi ready to go. However, as fourth starters go, the one they had going wasn't too shabby. Out to the mound in Fenway Park, the Cubs sent 323 game winner, Paul Dean. Meanwhile, Boston sent Soup Polivka and his 25 career victories back to the mound, hoping he could repeat his Game 2 performance. However, Soup was not good on this day and was pulled in the sixth inning after giving up 7 runs, 5 of them earned. The Cubs knocked him around, including a solo homer from big Bob Cerv and another homer from Robinson, a two-run shot in the 4th inning. In the bottom of the fifth, the Cubs got a big boost from a big man as Hammerin' Hank Greenberg added to his Hall of Fame credentials with a two-run homer of his own. Meanwhile, Dean was superb through 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits and a single run in the second inning. It looked like the game was safe as Dean went into the 8th with a 7-1 lead, but the Sox made it interesting, stringing 5 hits and an error by Greenberg to score 4 runs and make the game interesting. Dean was still out there in the ninth before allowing a hit and being relieved by Pinky Woods. Woods walked pinch-hitting Silvestri, bringing him to the top of the order with men on first and second and only one out. Joe Caffie hit a fly ball deep to Fenway's center field which would have likely been a Series-winning homer in most parks but was flagged down by Mickey Mantle. That brought up the powerful right-hander, Steve Bilko, and fans of both teams held their breath as Woods struck Bilko out staring at a 1-2 curveball. The Cubs had gotten their wish and were headed back to Chicago with two of the best pitchers in the game ready to go.

Game 6 - Things couldn't have lined up less perfectly for the Red Sox as they sent Poholsky to the mound once again to face off against the dominant Howie Pollet. It was a cool night in Chicago with a stiff breeze blowing out to right field. With the right-handed Poholsky on the mound, you'd better believe that Duke Snider and Mickey Mantle were eyeing those right field stands as Poholsky and his mediocre arsenal of pitches warmed up before the game. Boston's offense against left-handers like Pollet had not been strong on the year, and Augie Galan coming back finally from injury to make an appearance in left field was not expected to do a whole lot to help that situation. Before the first pitch, it seemed obvious to everyone, including the few Boston faithful who had made their way to Wrigley Field, that these teams were destined to see a Game 7. However, it appears that nobody told the Red Sox lineup that they were supposed to lay down. In the first inning, Whitey Lockman worked Pollet for a walk in front of a single by Buddy Kerr. A throwing error by Mantle moved the runners up a base, and Ken Silvestri drove in Lockman when left fielder Snider's weak arm was tested and failed. In the second inning, Hausmann led off with a double and Lepcio worked a 7 pitch walk. Poholsky bunted the runners over, and Kerr hit a ball between Mantle and Lemon that scored both runners to give the Sox a 3-0 advantage. Meanwhile, Poholsky was pitching masterfully. It was as if he had no idea that at 23 years of age he was not supposed to be doing this to a great team like the Cubs. As if he didn't realize that his 20 win 1951 season was actually a fluke. As if nobody made him aware that his pitches weren't good enough to get out great hitters. His confidence carried him through as he gave up only three hits through 8 innings where Boston clung to that 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Before that final inning, Poholsky had already thrown 113 pitches, but the manager thought he still looked strong. He started the inning by inducing Bobby Brown and his .319 average against righties to tap back to the mound. He then faced Duke Snider, but the Silver Fox wasn't about to give this game up and drove a ball into the right field stands to pull the Cubs within two runs. With big bats in Mantle, Lemon and Greenberg yet to come, the manager considered pulling Poholsky, but when he looked into the youngster's eyes, he knew he had this, and he was right. He got an over-anxious Mantle to pop up to first before Lemon hit a double off the Green Monster. With two outs, the aging hero Hank Greenberg stepped to the plate. On a 1-1 count, Greenberg guessed fastball and swung too hard at a changeup, tapping the ball to the left of Poholsky who picked it up and tossed the ball to Steve Bilko at first to give the Boston Red Sox their second World Championship in a row, this one even more unlikely than the first.

Northsiders Fill the Trophy Cases in ‘49 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dave Schwaller   
Sunday, 15 April 2012 14:26

Die-hard Cubbie fans kept waiting for it. The same improbable occurrence that they’ve witnessed their last four World Series visits. That feeling when they watch the final number being set into the scoreboard’s last inning that makes it go from the surreal to the all too real. First it was the A’s who were 12 games worse during the ’36 season. Then the Tigers who chalked up 9 fewer in ‘42, and the Yankees with their 17 game disadvantage in ‘43. Two years ago the knife was twisted by the team who they share the city with – they bettered the White Sox by 11. They say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, but you probably shouldn’t say that within sight of Wrigley Field.


The World Series trophy will certainly go on the top shelf of owner Mike Giovacchini’s case, but others will be joining it. That’s because this season was one filled with excellence across the diamond, as well as from the past. The top pitching staff in the NL was led by Tal Abernathy, who ends up splitting the Joe Wood award with Johnny Schmitz. One could argue that he should be the sold recipient since he had more first place votes, but funnily enough, this isn’t addressed in the league rules. I’d say let’s line them up 60 feet and 6 inches away from each other and let them throw balls at each other until we have a victor. At the plate was the most feared lineup top to bottom, highlighted by a dominant 3-4-5 middle. Japan’s top hitter Kozuru hit 38 homers and stole 19 bases to set the tone. The corner outfielder would probably have brought home the Joe Jackson award if it was not for Ron Northey of the Giants with his new HR record of 48. Makoto was followed by NL Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo who was no slouch in his own right. How would you like to have your cleanup spot go for 34HR, 119RBI and bat 0.320? Rounding out this set is Jim Zapp who only hit 0.292. But with the two guys in front of him he had no troubles batting in 110 while depositing an additional 28 in the bleachers. Around this core were a number of solid players who would be household names had they played in towns like Washington or St. Louis. Guys like Jackie Robinson, Joe Greene, and Mickey Vernon. Or if pitching is more your thing, Dean, Noguchi, and Brissie. One thing if for sure, if the clubs in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis want a chance at the postseason anytime soon, they’d better figure a way to slow these boys down. To the Joe Wood and Bob Smyk awards add a probable Manager of the year for Giovacchini and a Hall of Fame induction for Dizzy Dean. This must be one of the most hardware heavy years in history.


Tough lessons like the one learned by Cub fans over the last 15 years never go away, they just like a change of scenery every once in a while. The fans in Philly hope this one moves on sooner rather than later. The Phillies have represented the NL the past two seasons and are tired of being the last team to lose. Betto, Collins, and Rapp should be around for a while and will keep this team in the race in the mediocre NL East. As for their city-mates their 98 win season ended sour at the hands of the 78 win White Sox. This pale hose squad just knows how to win when it counts, ending the season just a game above the reigning champion Tigers. The Sox have made a living mixing youth with trades and experienced free-agents. While much is up in the air in the AL, the A’s and Red Sox may be the only sure bets. In the end the city of Philadelphia had to watch a cross-town World Series from afar.


But now is the time to watch the Cub faithful enjoy their time in the sun. It’s difficult to imagine a world where the Cubs wouldn’t succeed. A bizarro world where they make the playoffs every 50 years and where the owners care only to put questionable talent on the field while charging for stars. This bizarro world would have curses and unbelievable turns of events during critical games, would have wild personalities calling games and be a place where people go not for the play on the field but for the social experience on aluminum benches.


Thank goodness this is only possible in my imagination.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 April 2012 14:26
Red Sox Win Franchise's First Championship!!! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jason Russell   
Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:45

After 51 years and 6 unsuccessful World Series appearances, the Red Sox finally won their first! After dispatching the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship, they faced off against a super-hot New York Giants team which had beaten the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship in spite of the Reds being heavily favored.

Game 1
Having lost their ace, Curt Simmons, to injury, the Sox turned to fastballer Ken Polivka in Game 1. Polivka had seen varied results in his previous years with the Braves but had been strong in 14 starts with the Sox this season after a July callup, including a 1.74 ERA in September. The Giants countered with Warren Spahn, their All Star lefty coming off of his third consecutive 20 win season. On paper, it looked like no contest, but Polivka was up to the challenge. He only allowed 4 hits over 8.2 innings while Spahn scattered 9 hits over 8. It was a classic pitchers duel with the Sox taking a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a Joe Gordon solo homer. Still, the Giants threatened to tie in the bottom of the ninth as Polivka's control issues reared their head with a leadoff walk to Bill Wilson. Len Okrie bunted him to second before Fred Hatfield flew out to center for the second out. In a strange move, the Sox brought in right-hander Mike Palm into the game. All of the Giants best hitters against lefties were already in the game, and pinch hitter Dale Long and his powerful bat were looming in the on deck circle to hit for Spahn. Still, the Sox manager went with Palm instead of lefties Mel Parnell or Chris Van Cuyk. Just the same, Palm struck Long out looking to end the game and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the Series.

Game 2
For the second game in Boston, it appeared to be another pitching mismatch as the Sox went with 36 year old Harry Shuman whose performance has belied his ratings for three years in Boston. This season, he had walked 36 more batters than he struck out but still managed 14 wins and a 3.47 ERA, mostly due to his ability to keep the ball in the park and in the hands of Red Sox infielders. New York countered with rookie phenom Bullet Bob Turley who led the National League in both walks and strikeouts this season. His 237 Ks were the second most in the last ten years while his 224 walks were the third most all-time and the most since 1925. The Giants loaded the bases in the top of the first but failed to score but scored 2 of their own in the bottom of the second and third, sandwiched by a single Giants run in the top of the 3rd. Both teams continued to scratch out runs, leading to a 5-3 score after six innings, and that is where the score stayed as Red Sox reliever, Mike Garcia came in during the sixth inning and shut the Giants down for the rest of the game on a single hit. Turley's control definitely did him in as he walked 6 in the game, and the Red Sox game plan of just putting the ball in play worked out for them as the flame thrower only struck out a single Sox batter. The Sox take a 2-0 lead in the Series into Gotham.

Game 3
Off to New York these two teams went, and the Giants were determined to not let this thing get out of hand. They started off strong in the bottom of the 1st, sending 8 batsmen to the plate and scoring two runs off of Boston hurler, Tom Poholsky. The second year man had quite a season, winning 20 games with a 3.42 ERA at the tender age of 21. He had finished the year strong with a 2.24 ERA in August and September, but this was not his day as the Giants put up 6 runs on 9 hits in Poholsky's 5 innings. Garcia came in again and was joined in relief by Charlie Stanceau as the Sox pen shut out the Giants the rest of the way. However, 31-year old fastballer Fred Bradley proved too much for the Sox bats on this day. He kept them off balance, striking out six and only walking a single batter in 8 innings. Still, Boston managed to power their way to 5 runs, thanks largely to homers from Irv Noren, Solly Hemus and Dick Kokos. Unfortunately for Boston, those were all of the solo variety thanks to Bradley's impeccable control in this game. The Giants brought out their gap bats against the Sox, coming up with 5 doubles in the game. In the end, Red Fields, relegated to the pen for this series, came in and shut down the Sox in the ninth, leading the Giants to a potentially Series-saving, 6-5 victory.

Game 4
This game sees both Game 1 starters, Polivka and Spahn, back on the mound, and Giants fans hoped that Spahnie would be able to prove his dominance this time. It looked good in the first inning as the Sox went three up and three down while the Giants struck for two runs in the bottom of the first. However, the Sox power came to life in the second inning as Archie Wilson hit a line drive homer to left, scoring himself and Steve Bilko to tie the game. The Giants nearly took the lead in the fourth as Len Okrie was thrown out at the plate on a strange play. Standing at second when Spahn hit a grounder to the deep hole between the first and second basemen, the led-footed catcher, Okrie, decided to try for home. Boston second baseman George Hausmann was initially surprised by Okrie's attempt but recovered in time to make a good throw to catcher, Ken Silvestri, to nail Okrie at the plate. The Sox power showed again in the top of the fifth as they scored three runs on an RBI double by Silvestri and a two-run homer from Whitey Lockman. The Giants put up one more run in the eighth inning before being shut down in the ninth by 28 year old rookie, Duke Markell, and his devastating curveball. The 5-3 victory puts the Sox up 3 games to 1 in the Series, and it doesn't look good for the Giants.

Game 5
This promised to be the last game in New York this season regardless of the outcome as a victory would send the Giants back to Boston where they would have to take two from the Sox. Game 2 starters, Shuman and Turley, were back on the mound, and the Sox were rude to Turley once again. In the top of the first, Steve Bilko drove in Whitey Lockman who had tripled and followed with 3 more runs in the third on a deep home run down the left-field line by catcher Clint Courtney. The Giants sandwiched a run in the bottom of the 2nd with a solo shot from the powerful Danny Gardella. Unfortunately for New York, Shuman was lights out on this day, mixing a good fastball, curve and sinker, retiring 10 straight Giants between the 2nd and 5th innings. Meanwhile, the Boston offense kept blasting away at Turley and reliever Mal Mallette, putting up 10 runs in the game. Shuman was still pitching in the 9th when the Giants attempted a last-ditch rally, culminating in another bomb from Gardella, this one a 3-run shot, before Cass Michaels ended the game on a nice play from Boston first baseman Steve Bilko who ranged to his right and speared a grounder that he then tossed to Shuman at first. With that, Boston's hopes and dreams came to fruition. The team mobbed Shuman behind first base while the Giants players stalked back to their dugout to the applause of their appreciative fans.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:46
Detroit Takes Series! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Rackow   
Monday, 12 March 2012 12:59
Change is constant and inevitable, so much so that the claim “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” rings true in any era. To this short list, though, I now propose we add “...and the Detroit Tigers winning championships.” In dispatching the Series' NL representatives, the Tigers have added to their impressive string of recent success: 6 division wins, 5 pennants, and 3 World Championships over the last 7 seasons.
The Tigers came into the 1948 Series riding a wave of confidence. Their 91 wins topped their league; their potent offense led the AL in batting average, and the majors in homers; their pitching was solid and consistent. The Philadelphia Phillies' pitching was sporadic at best, but their offense had plated 786 runs, tops in the majors. The intriguing matchup was dampened in some respects by what (or rather who) was missing, though.
Both teams had managed to make it though the end of the season and past the first round of the playoffs despite major injuries. The Phillies' #1 starter (Johnny Hetki) and their best offensive player (Cecil Travis) both were knocked out in early September, in addition to losing their #2 starter (Woody Rich) early in the year. The Tigers were missing the services of pitcher Johnny Beazley, starting left fielder Burnis Wright, and offensive juggernaut Stan Musial.
The Series was nip and tuck from the start, with the teams each posting a 2-run victory, then a 1-run win, so the games were tied 2-2 after 4. Game 5 loomed large, as it always does in a tied-up 7-game series.
The Tigers handed the ball to 18-game winner Jay Heard, 1943 Bob Smyk award winner and, rather notably, former Philly. The Tigers had burned the midnight oil at the trade deadline in 1947, pulling the trigger on a trade that gave up 2 first-round picks to acquire Jay's services in an attempt to catch the Chicago White Sox. They may have failed to catch them last season, but here was an most serendipitous opportunity to make that trade pay off, in a big way.
Philly, desperate for arms, turned to 39-year-old Lon Warneke. Acquired in a salary dump from Washington the previous season, his stats (career average 3.22 ERA and 1.25 WHIP) had ballooned to 5.60 and 1.76 this season in very limited work. The Phils were praying that, with 285 career wins, there was enough magic left in his arm to keep them competitive in his 1st career playoff start.
Boy was there! The 4,200+ innings Lon had thrown previously in his career were just prelude to the 10 innings of shutout ball he tossed that night. It would turn out to be one of the great unlikely clutch performances in Series history, remembered for decades...or rather, it would have been, if the Tigers had not matched him inning for inning. Heard threw 9 shutout innings himself, Marv Grissom and Johnny Johnson combined to throw 3 more, and the Tigers won Game Five 1-0 on Johnny Bero's pinch single off closer Tom Ferrick in the 12th.
After the Tigers took care of business in Game 6 (the only “blow-out” of the Series, a 6-2 final), a dejected Phillies bench had to watch former teammate Jay Heard celebrating with the rest of the world champs, trying to imagine what that feeling was like. A feeling that they are familiar with, “Maybe next year,” is also familiar to 14 other teams. So, congrats to the 1948 World Champion Detroit Tigers, but here is a warning to you, from the 15 other pro clubs in MLB:
Change, as they say, is inevitable. Watch out in 1949!
Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 13:01
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