Saturday, August 27, 2005

August 27th, 1986

Mets Turn Double Play

Most double plays are of the infield variety, 6-4-3, 4-6-3, the occasional unassisted double-play and so on. Now and then you'll see an outfielder-catcher double play, usually on a failed attempt to score on a fly ball and sometimes an outfielder-infielder when a runner gets gunned down trying to tag up.

On this day in 1986 however, the Mets turned an extremely rare outfielder-catcher-infielder double play. The situation was set-up like this: the Mets held a six-five lead over the Padres in the eleventh inning of their August 27th game. However, unwilling to go quietly, the Padres' Gary Templeton led off with a double. Pinch hitter Craig Lefferts came up for Goose Gossage and struck out, leaving Templeton on second, one out. The next batter was Tim Flannery. Flannery lined a single to Mets' center fielder Lenny Dykstra. Dykstra then threw out Templeton at home plate, as the Padres' runner and Mets' catcher John Sterns collided, leaving Sterns flat on his back, but still with the ball, and the runner out.

Seeing his single go for naught, but evidently thinking Sterns was in no position to stop him, Flannery took off for third. Sterns however, was in a position to stop him, even if that position was still more or less flat on his back. He fired the ball to Howard Johnson at third base who put the tag on Flannery, ending the game with a rarely seen 8-2-5 double play.

Friday, August 26, 2005

August 26th, 1899

Pea Ridge Day Born

The nickname comes from Clyde Day's place of birth, Pea Ridge, Arkansas. (Civil war buffs among you may recognize Pea Ridge as site of the crucial 1862 battle which all but ensured would be Missouri under Union control for the duration of the war.) Day was an eccentric who threw a screwball and was also known as the "hog calling pitcher" for his habit of making what one newspaper described as "piercing yells" while on the mound.

Day was mediocre in trials with the Cardinals, Reds and Robins (that is, Dodgers) in the twenties and thirties, accumulating a 5.30 ERA in just under one hundred twenty five innings. His story ends sadly, Day blew out his arm in the early 30s and lost the capacity to pitch. He had an operation--Day claimed it cost nearly ten thousand dollars, a sum equal to nearly $150,000 in 2005 dollars--which he believed would fix the arm but had no such luck. Depressed and feeling he was ruined, despite the birth of a son just three weeks earlier, Day slashed his throat with a hunting knife, despite the efforts of a one-time teammate who tried but failed to stop him.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

August 25th, 1978

Major League Umpires Begin Strike

An equally good heading, of course, would have been "Major League Umpires End Strike" as it was a one-day affair, as after a brief court battle the umpires were forced back to work. In the interim, amateur and semipro umpires were forced into service. That must've been quite a trip for some of these guys, one day you're umpiring the Biloxi Mudhounds against the Pascagoula Pigfarmers or something and the next day there you are, Braves and Cardinals at Fulton County Stadium.

In some cases, suitable replacement umpires could not be found and even more extreme measures had to be taken. In Toronto--where presumably you couldn't throw a stick without hitting twenty people who would volunteer to officiate a hockey match but baseball umps are harder to come by--the Twins and Blue Jays were reducing to using coaches. One Twins' coach, Jerry Zimmerman and one Jays' coach, Don Leppert umpired as part of a strange five-man crew that featured the standard four infield umpires and a man-in-blue down the right field--but not left field--line. (Leppert, incidentally, umpired at third and Zimmerman at second.) This was the first--and so far as I know last--time since 1941 when active coaches had umpired in a game.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

August 24th, 1974

Bartolome Fortunato Born

I apologize for these next few entries which may be a bit short as I am suffering computer problems that come with the move from New York. Despite having just done a name entry a couple of days back, I couldn't resist today, as August 24th is a virtual goldmine of funny baseball names. In addition to Bartolome Fortunato--who sounds like someone Zorro would have fought--those born today include B.J. Waszigs, Shorty Desjardien, Chubby Dean (who is disconcertingly listed at 5'11" 181, about my height but thinner), Beryl Richmond, Arquimedez Pozo (who was a character in a Dickens' novel, I think), and the hands-down winner for best August 24th Birthday name, De Witt Wiley "Bevo" LeBourveau. He wasn't just a light hitting outfielder for the Philles in the twenties, he was also the Duke of Angoulême.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

August 23rd, 2005

Richard Barbieri Returns to Washington DC

I am moving again, this time from New York to the District of Columbia, meaning the "Annotated This Day" offices will have their third headquarters since January. However, I don't post this just to complain about the difficulties of moving (but hey, if you want to help, drop me a line!) but instead to write about District of Columbia born ballplayers.

Our Nation's Capital has provided eighty-eight Major Leaguers through the 2004 season, although only two, Angels' reliever Brendan Donnelly and journeyman outfielder Curtis Pride played in the 2004 season. Those eighty-eight men represent about a half a percent of all men to play the Majors, putting DC about equal with
Colorado and Mexico
in terms of players sent to the bigs. The District has never produced a Hall of Famer, the closest current candidates probably being Maury Wills, who like his son Bump, was born there. The elder Wills leads native Washingtonians in hits, runs, and stolen bases.

In a bit of trivia that I somehow missed but was uncovered by friend of Annotated This Day
Dave Studeman was that Doc White, the pitcher who avoided facing the Washington Senators for all those years was, in fact, a Washingtonian himself. I don't think this has anything to do with it, but it is interesting that White--who has the most wins of any DC resident--accumulated so few of them against his hometown team.

Monday, August 22, 2005

August 22nd, 1969

Hipolito Pichardo Born

I was originally planning on doing Paul Molitor here--he was born today too--and the issue of designated hitters and the Hall of Fame and all that. But really, it seemed unfair to pass on a man with one of my favorite baseball names of all time. Hipolito Antonio Pichardo. How can you not love a name like that?

Pichardo started his career with the Royals; he came up through their system and debuted as a twenty-two year old in 1992. He worked primarily as a moderately effective starter his first two seasons, but was shifted to the bullpen in 1994 and would not start another game until 1998. Pichardo was an average reliever, albeit a consistent one who threw between sixty-four and sixty-eight innings each of his first three years in the pen. The move back to starter in '98 failed to suit him however as he posted only his second career ERA worse than league average and after a lost 1999 due to injury, would sign with Boston for the 2000 season.

With the Red Sox Pichardo would start just one game--taking the loss against the ChiSox in June--but would serve as a member of a highly effective Sox bullpen that also featured then-closer Derek Lowe (2.56, 42 saves), Rich "El Guapo" Garces (8-1, 3.25) and Rod "Shooter" Beck (3-0, 3.10). Pichardo for his part went 6-2 as a reliever with a 3.25 ERA, good for an ERA+ of 144. He wasn't as effective in 2001, throwing just thirty-four innings of below average ball and was even worse in
Houston in 2002, getting shelled in his only appearance for the team.

Pichardo has been out of the Majors since 2002, no surprise given his performance the last two years of his career. I forever hold out hope for a comeback however, so that ballpark announcers around the land can once again clear their throats, double-check their pronunciation and welcome Hipolito Pichardo into a game.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

August 21st, 1977

Tom Seaver Returns to Shea Stadium

Players returning to the site of their greatest success, especially players who have played no where else, are often interesting. I imagine most players would say they like to do well in front of their one-time hometown fans, but the circumstances surrounding departures are so varied that it is hard to draw one conclusion about returns. Tom Seaver, for one, had left his team on relatively acrimonious terms. Seaver's trade was seen, at least in part, as a response to his semi-public feud with Mets' owner M. Donald Grant.

On his return then, Seaver had an incentive to both remind Met fans of why they had loved him and show Grant just what he had given up. Seaver performed beautifully, pitching a complete game giving up just one run, as the Reds triumphed five to one. Seaver scattered six hits and two walks while striking out eleven. Furthermore, the usually light-hitting (career .154) Tom Terrific doubled and scored a pair of runs.

Players returning to face their old team don't always perform as brilliantly as Seaver, position players sometimes have no part in a game despite their performance. But I imagine when most dream of a return, they dream of performing like Seaver.

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