Tuesday, October 04, 2005

October 4th, 1961

Billy Hatcher Turns One

That may seem an obscure choice, the traditional heading after all, is "John Smith Born" rather than a particular birthday, especially a first birthday. However, October Fourth 1961 and Billy Hatcher have something in common, a distant link that ultimately goes back to baseball's greatest player, Babe Ruth.

This date in 1961 marked the beginning of the 1961 World Series. It pitted the New York Yankees (of course) against the Cincinnati Reds. The Yankees opening day starter was Whitey Ford. Reds' starter Jim O'Toole pitched well--allowing just two runs over seven innings to the M&M Boys' Yankees-- but Ford pitched brilliantly, pitching a shutout. This was Ford's third straight postseason start without allowing a run, stretching back to the 1960 World Series. This meant Ford had now reached twenty-seven scoreless innings; his next start would come on
October 8th, 1961. On that day, Ford would leave in the sixth with a shutout, before leaving due to an ankle problem. That nonetheless putting his streak at thirty-two straight scoreless innings. (The streak would extend another inning to thirty-three and stand until another Yankee, Mariano Rivera broke it.) The previous record holder was Babe Ruth, which is how our one-year old birthday boy comes into play.

As time has gone on, Babe Ruth has lost many records, and Billy Hatcher broke another. In the 1990 World Series, Hatcher opened the Series going 7-for-7 (that tied a record) and finished the Reds' four game sweep with a .750 batting average, nine for twelve. That broke another one of the Babe's one-time records: highest batting average in a four-game series.

So, as one of the Babe's records--a pitcher one no less--came closer to falling, a man who would eventually take another was celebrating birthday number one. It's a funny world.

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