Great Moments in Strat – November, 2011

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            Charlie Lord has divided the 80 player cards from the Strat-O-Matic Founder’s Edition into four teams – two from the National League and two from the American League. The teams have had nearly the same record all season, but never closer than now, at the 50-game mark. As Charlie reported, “You won’t believe this you guys …. Holy Cow – All 4 teams tied for 1st and last!”
Team                           Won Lost GB   Runs Hits Errors
Blues (AL #2)                  25   25    —      215   408   38
Reds (NL #2)                  25   25    —      250    487   50
Americans (AL #1)          25   25    —      236    476   42
Nationals (NL #1)            25   25    —      228    478   28
            “Since this year is the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Topeka Reds who were Class B I.I.I. or (3-I) League Champions I put all of the Cincinnati Reds on the Reds,” Lord reported. “50 years ago I was 7 and became enthralled with the M&M boys also. Mickey Mantle was and still is my favorite player. The 1960 season was one of the weaker years in his prime – and yet he still had a great season. The Blues name came from the Yankees top minor league team of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s – the Kansas City Blues. Also – when I received Ethan Allen’s All Star Baseball present as a Christmas present for Christmas of 1961 the NL player discs were Red and the AL was Blue. So I associated those colors with each league.
            “Mantle has gone 23 for 39 in the last 10 games with 7 Homeruns!”
            These All Star pitchers pitched a lot of innings and yet were allowed to give up a lot of Homeruns.
Batting Leaders:
Average: Mantle (AL) .360; Mays (NL) .332; Groat (Reds) .326; B.Robinson (AL) .313; Maris (AL) .297; K.Boyer (Reds) .296.
Runs: Banks (Reds) 38; Pinson (Reds) 37; Mantle (AL) 36; Lemon (Blues) 36; Aaron (NL) 35.
Hits: Groat (Reds) 71; Mays (NL) 68; Mantle (AL) 68; Wills (NL) 64; Maris (AL) 62; Pinson (Reds) 61.
2B: F. Robinson (Reds) 15; Cepeda (NL) 13; K.Boyer (Reds) 12; B.Robinson (AL) 12; Gonzalez (Reds) 11.
3B: Maris (AL) 7; Pinson (Reds) 6; Mantle (AL) 5; Gonzalez (Reds) 4.
HR: Banks (Reds) 18; Lemon (Blues) 18; Maris (AL) 15; Mantle (AL) 13; T.Williams (Blues) 12; Mathews (NL) 12; Depeda (NL) 12; Colavito (AL) 11; Aaron (NL) 10.
RBI: Banks (Reds) 50; Lemon (Blues) 39; Mantle (AL) 37; Mays (NL) 35; F.Robinson (Reds) 33; Maris (AL) 32; T.Williams (Blues) 32.
SB: Wills (NL) 34; Aparicio (AL) 30; Pinson (Reds) 14; Taylor (Reds) 14.
Wins: Ford (AL) 7-3; Lary (Blues) 6-3; Law (NL) 6-3; McCormick (Reds) 5-3; Burdette (Blues) 5-3; Pascual (Blues) 5-4.
SO’s: Drysdale (Reds) 71; Bunning (Blues) 67; Pascual (Blues) 60.
E.R.A.: Wynn (AL) 2.88; Ford (AL) 2.94; McCormick (Reds) 2.96; Drysdale (Reds) 3.40; Bunning (Blues) 3.43; Lary (Blues) 3.52; Law (NL) 3.52.
Shutouts: Lary (Blues) 2.
Saves: Purkey (Reds) 8; Baumann (AL) 7; S.Williams (NL) 4.
            I recently played a doozy of a game, the back end of a double-bill between the 1934 Cubs and Dodgers, at Wrigley Field. Van Lingle Mungo was twirling for the visitors, against recently acquired Jim Weaver for the Bruins.             The Dodgers have been in scoring drought of late, though they won the opener, 3-2.
            The nightcap was equally taut. Weaver opened the home third with a two-bagger, posting the first run of the game when Woody English followed with another two-base knock. The game stayed that way until the top of the fifth, when the Brooks took advantage of Weaver’s lapse. With two out, Weaver issued passes to Johnny Frederick and Danny Taylor. A single by Sam Leslie and a pair of doubles by Tony Cuccinello and Len Koenecke gave the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.
            Weaver settled down, but his mates could gain no ground. It wasn’t Mungo’s most artful performance – he stranded nine runners, and had two others erased on twin-killers through the first eight – but he managed. Meanwhile, Charlie Root picked up for Weaver in the eighth, and tossed two perfect frames. It came down to the bottom of the ninth.
            Root was scheduled to lead off, so a pinch hitter was called for. But which one? Top candidates were Billy Jurges and Gabby Hartnett, who had caught the opener and was sitting this one out. Tuck Stainback would have been a fine choice. But he was already in the game, replacing an injured Babe Herman. Stainback would bat fifth, if we got that far. Would you go with the Big Gun – Hartnett – right off the bat? He’s got great longball pop, but his is just one run. I need at least three. I choose Jurges, who grounds out to third base. Back to the top of the order, where English swings and misses for strike three.
            However, Billy Herman reaches on a two-base error by Cuccinello and Chuck Klein singles, scoring Herman. Which brings us to Stainback, who hit .306 as a fourth outfielder in 1934 and has batted .387 in 31 at bats in the Cubs’ first 22 games of my season. But he’s pretty much all singles and doubles. I need two runs, and I’m down to my final out. Stainback (he’s also a 1-17 runner), to keep the inning alive? I choose Hartnett, and roll the dice. 3-8. HR 1-14, DO 15-20. I roll an "8". Tie game.
            Mungo is on the ropes now, for sure. Kiki Cuyler lines a base hit, then steals second base. Can Mungo get out of the inning? No. Don Hurst doubles and the fleet-footed Cuyler scores the winner easily.
            All made possible by saving Hartnett – my ace in the hole – for just the right moment.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle, WA
            In a battle of all-time Yankee greats, Gord’s 1941 team upset Kev’s 1927 Bombers in a seven-game series that defied the odds of Strat-O-Matic. After picking up victories in the first two games, Murderer’s Row was silenced by brilliant pitching performances in the next three. Red Ruffing, Tiny Bonham, & Marius Russo pitched two-hit, three-hit, and four-hit shutouts, respectively, in succession. 1927 returned to form in game six, winning 7-0 (including back-to-back jacks by Ruth and Gehrig), evening the series at three games apiece. In game seven, on short rest, Tiny Bonham pitched 7 scoreless innings, and Johnny Murphy came in to close it out, enabling ’41 to take the series with a 4-1 victory.
Babe Ruth went 1-for-21 in the series, with 7 walks. He was caught stealing by Bill Dickey on all five occasions that he tried to run. Still, his 4 RBIs (a three-run homer and a ground out that resulted in a run coming in) actually tied Red Rolfe for the most of anybody in the series.
Tony Lazzeri, much like Babe, went 1-for-21, but he walked only two times. Also like Ruth, his lone hit was a home run – one of just three the ’27 club had in the entire series (the other two were the back-to-back bombs by Ruth & Gehrig in game six).
Pat Collins was legendarily awful as well, going 1-for-23 (.043) with no walks, leaving six runners on base.
Earle Combs led all hitters with a .379 average (11-for-29), including a pair of triples, but he managed to score only three times … Lou Gehrig had a terrific average (.368), going 7-for-19, but he scored only one run (on his solo homer).
Bill Dickey had the only home run for the ’41 Yanks, a solo shot in the first inning of game seven.
In three starts (2-1), Tiny Bonham held opposing hitters to a .143 batting average – unthinkable for the 1927 Yankees … Urban Shocker (1-1) had a 1.13 ERA, allowing 12 hits and 0 walks for just two runs in 16 innings … 1941’s team ERA was just 2.25, slightly edging out 1927’s staff that finished at just 2.39.
Gord Tep in Queens, NY