GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
Hebner and Aaron Create Unforgettable Game
I started playing SOM Baseball in 1971 when I was 12. I’ve continued to play into my adult life and recently decided to recapture some of my childhood by replaying the 1971 season. Not too far into the season, I had one of the most amazing games of my SOM career.
It was a 17-inning affair between the Braves and Pirates with the Bucs winning 7-4 on a walk-off 3-run homer by Richie Hebner. The lead changed 5 times and both teams combined for 40 hits, stranded 37 base runners, and used 13 pitchers and 24 position players.
Phil Niekro started for the Bravos and Bob Moose for the Bucs. The Braves opened the scoring in the top of the 1st with a double from Hank Aaron, scoring Sonny Jackson. It stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the 6th when an Al Oliver Sac Fly tied the game at 1. Atlanta regained the lead in the top half of the 7th when Orlando Cepeda singled home Aaron.
Cecil Upshaw relieved Niekro in Pittsburgh’s home half of the 8th Inning, but couldn’t hold the lead. Oliver tied the game at 2 with a RBI single, driving home Willie Stargell. Two innings later in the top of the 10th, Earl Williams vaulted Atlanta back into the lead for the third time with a solo shot off of reliever Dave Giusti. But with one out in the bottom of the 10th and Upshaw still on the mound for the Braves, Hebner hit his first HR of the game to knot the game at 3.
The Pirates appeared to have the game won in their half of the 11th when Gene Clines walked and stole second with two outs. Dave Cash was intentionally walked to set up the lefty-lefty matchup between the Pirates’ Hebner and the Braves’ Steve Barber. Hebner singled to right and Clines was waved home. With a 1-17 safe split chance, it was all but over. But the split-dice read 19 and Aaron gunned Clines down at the plate.
Atlanta jumped ahead for the fourth time in the top of the 14th with an Earl Williams bases-empty bomb off Jim Nelson. But Pittsburgh stormed back in the bottom of the inning when Vic Davalillo spoiled Atlanta’s Rob Herbel’s bid for a win and Bob Priddy’s bid for a save by driving home Clines with a double. The game was now tied at 4.
The 16th rolled around and ended with the Pirates having the game-winning run nailed at the plate by Aaron for the second time in extra-innings. Tom Kelley toed the rubber for the Braves in the 16th. Davalillo led off with a walk and one out later attempted to score from first on Oliver’s double to right. The spilt chance for Davalillo to score was a 1-14. And again, the split-dice came up 19. And again, Aaron had saved the game with his arm.
Atlanta went quietly in the top of the 17th against Mudcat Grant who pitched 4 innings of shutout ball and ended up with the win. Kelley was still pitching for Atlanta and was greeted in the bottom of the 17th with a leadoff single by Manny Sanguillen. Kelley balked him to second and Gene Alley sacrificed him to third. With the infield in, Sanguillen was held at third on Clines’ groundout. Cash came up next and walked, bringing up Hebner.
A 4-5 was rolled and Kelley’s card read HR 1-5, fly B. The split-dice came up 5, giving Aaron a 8-20 split chance of robbing Hebner and saving the game for a third time. But it was not to be, as the split-dice read 3 and the ball just cleared Aaron’s glove for the walk-off game-winner.
Hebner was the game MVP going 4-8 with 2 HR’s, 4 RBI’s, and 3 runs. His first HR tied the game in extras and his second ended it. Doesn’t get much better than that. Aaron certainly was a worthy MVP candidate going 4-7 with a run and a RBI while extending the game twice by cutting down game-winning runs at home.
It was perhaps the most incredible game I’ve ever experienced in Strat.
M. Walker, Atlanta
Joe Vosmik’s 3 x 3 Day
"The triple is the most exciting play in baseball … home runs win a lot of games, but I never understood why fans are so obsessed with them"— Henry Aaron
In a 1938 Boston Red Sox/Detroit Tigers game in Motown (cards and dice), Red Sox left-fielder, the righty slugger Joe Vosmik went 4 for 6 w/ 4 RBI’s, ripping 3 triples in the process! Two of the three-baggers were off Eldon Auker and the other was off of Boots Poffenberger … Final score: 11-3 Red Sox w/ Hall of Famer Lefty Grove picking up the victory.
Joe Vosmik was born in 1910 in Cleveland, Ohio the son of Bohemian parents. Joe ate, slept, and dreamt baseball, excelling on the sandlots since there was no baseball team at East Tech high school which he attended. Basically, young Joe was a truant in school who would sneak off to Dunn Field to watch the Cleveland Indians play. Many times he was tossed trying to get in to see his heroes of those great 1920’s tribe teams. At age 10, Joe announced his determination to be a MLB player and that nothing would stop him.
1928 was the year Indians manager Roger Peckinpaugh discovered Joe pitching in a municipal league. Vosmik inked a deal with the Indians and was given a $300 bonus. Joe played from 1930-1944 with 5 teams, most notably his first six years (1930-1936) with Cleveland before being dealt to the St Louis Browns and then to the Red Sox in 1938. At 21 years old in 1931, Joe batted .320 w/ 36 doubles and 14 triples. 1935 was Joe Vosmik’s greatest single year, leading the American league in hits, batting .348 w/ 47 doubles, and 20 triples and 110 RBI’s. Joe finished 3rd in MVP voting, overshadowed by Hank Greenberg and Wes Ferrell. In his 13-year MLB career, Vosmik only struck out 272 times in 5,472 plate appearances. His lifetime batting average was .307
Hitting 3 triples in a MLB games is not common. Since 1920 it has been done 29 times. Some of the greats who have done it include: Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Charlie Gehringer, Ross Youngs, Earl Combs and Jim Bottomley
The legendary baseball scribe Jim Murray once wrote, "Willie Mays’ glove is where triples go to die"…well, Tigers centerfielder Chet Morgan certainly had his hands full the day Joe Vosmik socked 3 triples in Motown!
Scott Acton, Hackettstown, NJ
The Goose Gets Cooked (Extra Crispy)
I’m playing (C&D) the 1977 season with a format that I used 38 years ago in college. Pick two teams at random and combine them into one. KC and Pittsburgh are teamed up and they’re playing Detroit/St. Louis. As you can imagine, this KC/Pit squad is loaded with guys who don’t walk too much, but hit for high average with lots of extra base hits (Brett, Stennett, Parker, Cowens, Oliver, Bill Robinson, McRae, etc.). The rotation is okay, but their bullpen doesn’t really have guys who can get opposing LHB out (even lefties Steve Mingori and Grant Jackson) – except for Rich Gossage, or so I thought.
In 1977, Gossage is a blank against RHB (141/207/225 with no hits, 7 BB units, and 52 automatic out units, meaning the runners don’t advance). He’s not exactly a bum against LHB (208/305/289 with 11.7 hit units, 15 BB units, 20.6 TB units, and 45 automatic outs).
Unfortunately, it seems that far too often after a Gossage relief appearance, the next day’s newspaper headline reads “Gossage get his Goose cooked again by opposing LHB!”
In this game, Jim Colborn pitched well enough to have a 5-4 lead after 8 innings. Even though the Det/StL lineup has 7 LHB, in comes the Goose to seal the deal. He retires Uncle Milty May and PH Mike Phillips to start the 9th. One out to go. What could possibly go wrong?
Mumphrey singles on his own card, followed by a LeFlore walk on his own card (trip ones), a Jason Thompson 4-8 BB to load ‘em up for Ted Simmons. All Simba does is rip the 2-6 SI**. That’s game, set, match, as the Goose is cooked yet again by LHB!
After 146 games, Gossage’s stats are:
IP – 85.1, H – 74, K – 103, BB – 49, HR – 12, ERA – 3.44, WHIP – 1.44,
G – 61, Saves – 37, BS – 14!
His L/R breakdowns?
vs. LHB: .255/.378/.441 – Are you kidding me?
vs. RHB: .184/.264/.333
As Ralph Kramden might have described the 1977 Goose: “The applicant is a bum!”
But, that’s what makes Strat great. Anything can happen, so you can’t take things for granted.
Martin Bender, New York