GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
NEW SLUGGING LEGEND: RUSSELL BRANYAN
Russell Branyan of the 2009 Seattle Mariners had the greatest game in (my) SOM history and it would be the greatest in MLB history. In doing so, he tied one and broke two long-held baseball records. He tied about 10 other players for most homers in a game, but he broke Joe Adcock’s 55-year record for total bases. Adcock had four homers and a double for 18 total bases. Branyan had 19 with his triple and four round-trippers. His record 14 RBIs were accumulated thusly:
3-run homer in 4th
Solo homer in the 6th
3-run triple in 7th
3-run homer in 8th
Grand Slam in 9th
Oh, yes, Seattle won, crushing 1955 Brooklyn 20-1, by scoring four in the 4th inning and 16 over the last four innings. Three of the four homers came from 1-6 rolls and the other homer and triple off pitchers’ cards. Felix Hernandez pitched a four-hitter and struck out 14 for Seattle.
Richard Weber, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
YET ANOTHER 4-HOMER DAY
In the countless thousands of Strat-O-Matic baseball games I have played, only two men ever hit four home runs in a game – both against me. The first was 1987 Eric Davis, who drove in 10 runs in a draft league. That was 22 years ago. The second was last month, in our 1964 replay, when San Francisco’s Orlando Cepeda crushed four no-doubters against my Cardinals. Both men did it in four straight trips to the plate. Cepeda, who drove in seven runs, had a fifth at-bat. Both the SF manager, Jack Mitchell of Jacksonville, FL, and I were rooting for Cepeda. In my case, the game was already lost and I had never seen five homers by one man – indeed Major League Baseball has never seen it. But the Baby Bull had only a routine fly left in him.
For the record, many men hit three home runs in my Strat-O-Matic games. Bo Jackson, Kent Hrbek and Billy Williams come readily to mind. Even 1964 Kansas City’s Bill Bryan just did the deed. The 1930 Hack Wilson card came closest to four in a game without doing it. He had three and then rolled a HR 1-15 before settling for a double.
Glenn Guzzo, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
TRUST US, DAVID, THEY’RE NOT ALL LIKE THIS
David Allen of St. Johns County, FL, was playing only his seventh game of Strat-O-Matic when he and fellow dice-roller Wes Slough experienced a classic – A 21-inning drama between the 1960 New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rolling for New York, Allen had a 3-1 lead until Don Hoak and Rocky Nelson hit back-to-back home runs off Ralph Terry in the fifth inning to tie the game. But neither team scored for the next 15 innings and they seldom threatened. Draining the bullpens didn’t seem to matter. For the Yanks, Bobby Shantz was nearly perfect for four innings. Luis Arroyo, Ryne Duren, Johnny James and Eli Grba all pitched beautifully. Finally, Art Ditmar pitched a scoreless 21st. For Pittsburgh, starter Bob Friend gave up the Yankees’ runs. But Clem Labine, Elroy Face, Fred Green, Tom Cheney and Joe Gibbon blanked the Bronx Bombers repeatedly with growing confidence.
Some ugly stat lines were accumulating. Pittsburgh’s Bill Virdon was 0-for-9. Roger Maris, the American League MVP in 1960, was 0-for-8. So was Clete Boyer. But finally, with two outs and none on in the bottom of the 21st, Boyer connected for an automatic home run with Pittsburgh’s Jim Umbricht on the mound, giving the Yankees an exhausting, but memorable, 4-3 victory.