Friday, April 18, 2014

Program Alert: Wrigley 100 (on WGN) this Sunday

This Sunday, WGN will air a two-hour special titled: "Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration" to honor the tie between WGN and the Chicago Cubs.  The program will air at 8 pm ET, 7 pm CT.

 This season, WGN's website is running blog posts discussing events that have happened on that day at Wrigley.  Here is the description of the special:
Narrated by WGN Radio’s Steve Cochran and featuring custom drawings by cartoonist Drew Litton, the magic moments and memories of a century of baseball at Clark and Addison are told via interviews with over 60 different people, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg; as well as Kerry Wood, Rick Monday, Rick Sutcliffe, and Derrek Lee.  Visiting greats such as Hank Aaron, Vin Scully, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, Bob Uecker and Paul Konerko will add their thoughts as well.  Other segments include Mike Ditka and Gale Sayers on playing for the Chicago Bears at Wrigley, fun and crazy moments at the park described by Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse, and an in-depth look at some of Wrigley’s greatest games.
Here is a YouTube clip of the intro to the special.

WGN has a special bond with this blog simply because a majority of our color content has come from surviving WGN specials.  I have contacted WGN in the past and they have told me on a few occasions that a cache of classic broadcasts aren't hidden away somewhere.  What we have seen is what exists.  I don't know that to be 100% true, as things can be mislabeled or misplaced but I would imagine if there is something new, we might see it on this weekend's show.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"he means the tying run at the plate now..."

Those were the words Vin Scully uttered as Aaron stepped into the box to face Al Downing for the second time on that fateful April night.  

It is Masters weekend in the state of Georgia and it just so happens that this week's post is going to stay in the state for the second week in a row.  In fact, it's going to stay focused on the same game as last week.  Two years ago, follower of the blog and fellow amateur sleuth twib77 and I were discussing some clips we saw in a MLBNetwork Prime 9 special about Rule 5 Draft picks.  One such draft pick was Darrell Evans. Evans was drafted but did not sign four times before finally agreeing to terms with the Kansas City A's.  He would, however, not play a game in the Majors for the A's.  He was chosen in the 1968 Rule 5 Draft by the Atlanta Braves  He would eventually play 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, occupying both corner infield positions and in the Top 10 in walks 15 times in his career.

Evans made a career of getting on-base and doing so in the game in this shot made him a part of history. In the fourth inning of the April 8, 1974 game vs the Dodgers, Evans would reach on an error by the Dodgers' shortstop.  Standing at first, he would be 90 feet away from Hammerin' Hank as he blasted career homerun 715.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The 40th Anniversary of '715'

In the history of baseball, there are a handful of truly ‘tent pole’ moments.  These moments, gathering regular fans and casual fans together, weave the fabric that is our baseball memories.  As I’ve said on this blog before, there are two types of games: spontaneous history and history being built towards.  Games like Don Larsen’s perfect game, Bob Gibson’s no-hitter, Fisk’s homerun, Buckner’s error and the like, people came to the ballpark with no idea about what was about to transpire.   These aren’t the games network’s schedule around or Vice Presidents make sure they are in attendance for.  Those games everyone with even a fleeting interest in baseball tune in for.  Those games in baseball history have name brands; “2131”, “62”, and today’s topic “715”. 

The number “715” stood as the pinnacle of all baseball records for 33 years.  Henry (Hank) Aaron, a former Negro League baseball player, had the quickest wrists in baseball history and an ability to defy the aging curve.  Even with a good chunk of his career occurring during a pitchers' era in the mid-60’s to early-70s, Aaron continued to chip away at Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career homeruns.  After hitting the first pitch of his season over the fence to tie Babe in Cincinnati, the whole world knew that their first chance to see the record be broken would be Monday, April 8, 1974.  The entire nation would have access to this game through NBC Sports national broadcast.

Yet, with all those television sets and affiliates tuned in and turned on for this game, we have no real accounting of what has survived and what hasn’t.  Since that warm April night in Georgia, only bits and pieces of Hank’s at-bat have been shown ad nauseam.  Here is an attempt to compile it all and see what we have.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"the best stuff (Lefty) ever had..."

The seven years Steve Carlton spent as a Cardinal are often just a footnote in his bio.  Most of that comes from how dominate he was as a member of the Phillies and part of that comes from being overshadowed by his teammate while a Redbird, Bob Gibson.  Despite living in that long shadow, the 24 year old left-hander would step out from it (and into the darkness of storm clouds) at least for one special night.

Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller and Don Wilson all held the modern MLB record with 18 strikeouts in a game.  Steve Carlton would write his name one strikeout better than those men while at the same time claiming a dubious honor.  More rare than a Perfect Game, an 18+ strikeout nine inning game has only happened 20 times since 1900.  Even rarer is striking out that many batters and losing a nine inning game.  Carlton's game is one of only four such games since 1900.  

How do we know that this is the Steve Carlton 19 strikeout game?  It takes a bit of sleuthing but with the evidence provided, it is pretty conclusive.  

Our summer of much-content

With today's post, we kick off the Opening Day weekend.  If Major League Baseball can start the season two weeks early in Australia, we can start the season on a Saturday.  The first post going up is a record tying performance not thought to be captured on video.  The stream of content we have weekly this summer will see Homerun Kings, DVD reviews, pennant clinchers, expansion teams and whatever surprise footage pops up.  

We've got over 25 weeks until the playoffs, so here's to fun-filled summer!

Tom Seaver's no-hit bid broken up after 25 outs.  Footage courtesy of WGN.

Monday, November 18, 2013

More 1957 World Series from RareSportsFilms

Again, this blog gets a chance to update a previous story with a 'new' find.  This time, it is in respect to the 1957 World Series.  As previously highlighted in one of the first posts nearly 6 years ago to-the-day, Doak Ewing and RareSportsFilms has a cache of 1957 World Series kinescopes.  Residing in that collection are Games 3, 4 and 7 confirmed.  It also appears that Game 6 of that series exists as a partial and there have been rumors that a complete Game 1 is in their possession.

Today, however, they have listed just in time for the holiday season a near complete version of Game 5 from that series.  Without having the game in hand, it is hard to tell what condition it is in or what at-bats are actually missing.  From the description it says:
Game 5 of the 1957 World Series, except for parts of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th innings is shown on this new 1-hour, 27 minute DVD!
The game's length, as listed on B-Ref, is 2 hours.  If this game has only a short amount of pregame (as Game 3 did) then it is likely only missing roughly 35 minutes worth of the game.  

This game has been heralded as one of Whitey Ford's best performances, despite only striking out 2 while scattering 6 hits.  The two most important plays from this game should be intact in this recording.  Those plays, Jerry Coleman's lack of urgency on Mathews' groundball in the 6th and Mantle's caught stealing in the 8th, are attributed to the outcome in this game.

Also on display in this game are the two leading candidates for MVP from the Braves side.  Aaron picks up 2 more hits in the Series and Lew Burdette goes the distance for a CG win.

Hopefully this is a step towards whatever remaining games from this Series finding their way into daylight.  A near complete series showcasing Hank Aaron in his prime is a real treat for fans. More to come on this game when it is available!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Cubs win the NL East (for the Pirates)

As the season enters the final weekend, all but one divisional race remains.  The last two teams standing in the National League Central are the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  These two former National League East combatants found themselves tied for the top spot just over a week ago.  It was a back and forth three team race reminiscent of another season the Pirates and Cardinals came down to the wire.

In 1974, the NL East saw a season long race between three teams: the Cardinals, Phillies and Pirates.  For most of the season, the Phillies led the division with the Cardinals chasing them and towing the Pirates along behind. At the end of July, the Cardinals finally caught the Phillies to move into first place.  In the last week in August, the Pirates nudged back ahead, only to find themselves tied with the Cardinals on September 29th at 85-74 a piece.

Going into the final series of the season, the Cubs were in dead last in the division and had just closed up their Wrigley season by dropping 2 of 3 to the Cardinals. They now took on the Pirates while the Cardinals traveled to Montreal.  Both division leaders won their games on the 30th, remaining tied going onto October 1st.

The Cardinals would send Bob Gibson to the mound against former Cardinal Mike Torrez.  Gibson would give the Cardinals a chance with 7 innings of 1 run ball, only to relinquish a 2-run HR to Mike Jorgensen in the 8th putting the Expos ahead 3-2.  The Pirates would win 6-5 vs the Cubs at Three Rivers, giving the Pirates a 1 game lead with 1 game to play.

On October 2nd, the Cardinals were rained out in Montreal so the Pirates took the field only needing a win to force the end of the season and a trip for them to the NLCS.  Down to their last strike, it looked like they weren't going to get that win.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two Cubs, One At-Bat and Jim West swears

There are two 'departments' of baseball history.  World Series champions, home run totals, consecutive games played and the numbers of the game which are so important to comparing eras and weaving the fabric of the game of baseball over nearly a century and a half make up one side of the sport's history.  The other, that which gives us the narrative we pass down to our children in hopes of making them, too, fall in love with the annual marathon we endure is that of moments.  These moments help us illustrate the greatness of a player, the importance of an event and sometimes to show that no matter how many games you watch, you are bound to come across something you've never seen before.  Today's post is one of those moments.


By pure happenstance I was watching some WGN clips someone had given me a long time ago and found a video I apparently gave no thought to.  Expanding the scope of this blog to include more mid-1970's content, I ignored a video about the 1974 Cubs.  This, apparently, was a huge mistake on my part because in it we get to see the height of the 'Mad Hungarian' persona and the Cubs being, well...the Cubs.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Clemente's last homerun, sorta

Technically, his last homerun came in Game 4 of the 1972 NLCS but this one was the 240th of Clemente's career.  This longtripper came against Roberto's favorite victim at his favorite home-away-from-home.  All of this in beautiful color videotape!  More about this simple discovery after the jump.

Monday, August 19, 2013

MLB expands on '714'

Last January, I showed a series of clips that involved Hank Aaron's 714th homerun in Cincinnati.  This was color videotape footage that had Milo Hamilton's call of the events over the video.  The original post is below:

Well, MLB finally released more of the video clip.  You can find it here on their YouTube channel.  The video is nearly three and a half minutes long, however you can clearly see the video is edited down in a certain part.  More after the jump.