Indians look to surpass Giants 26-game streak

McGraw John 3569.63_FL_CSUThe red hot Cleveland Indians still have some work to do to surpass baseball’s longest winning streak.

More than 100 years ago, way back in 1916, the New York Giants set the record for consecutive games won without a loss.

In the midst of a 31-game September homestand at the legendary Polo Grounds, manager John McGraw’s Giants won 12 straight before a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates. New York beat Pittsburgh in a doubleheader the next day and went on to win 14 more games before losing the second game of a doubleheader to the Boston Braves on September 30. The 26-game winning streak included seven doubleheader sweeps.

It was a very strange year for the Giants. They started out 2-13 before embarking on a 17-game win streak, all on the road. Despite the two winning streaks, the Giants finished in fourth place, seven games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers, with an 86-66 record.

Exactly half of the Giants wins that year came occurred during the two streaks. Take away the streaks and the Giants were 43-66, nearly 25 games below .500.

Outfielder Dave Robertson was the only Giants regular to hit better than .300. He finished at .307 with a team-leading 12 home runs. The Giants hit only 42 homers as a team, but led the NL with 206 stolen bases. Pitchers Jeff Tesreau and Pol Perritt won 18 games apiece.

The Indians have already won 21 games in a row, equaling the 21-game streaks compiled by the Chicago Cubs in 1935 and the Chicago White Stockings in 1880. And Cleveland bettered the previous American League best 20-game winning streak reeled off by the Oakland A’s in 2002.

Other major streakers throughout baseball history included the Chicago White Sox (19 games in 1906), the New York Yankees (19 games in 1947 and 18 games in 1953) and the Giants (18 games in 1904).

Only the 1906 White Sox and the 1947 and 1953 Yankees went on to win the World Series.

The Providence Grays won 20 games in a row 1884, before baseball’s modern era began at the dawn of the 20th Century. Amazingly, Hall of Famer Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn won 18 of those 20 games for Providence.

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Happy Birthday, Dad

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The first college football game ever televised, Waynesburg vs. Fordham in 1939.

On a steamy August Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1938, New York right-hander Monte Pearson, shown below right, pitched the first no-hitter in Yankee Stadium history. The Yanks beat the Cleveland Indians, 13-0, that afternoon to complete a doubleheader sweep.

Pearson, who was 16-7 that year and won exactly 100 games lifetime,  faced the minimum 27 batters, striking out seven. Tommy Henrich and Joe Gordon each homered twice.

In the opener that day, Joe DiMaggio’s third straight triple of the game plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth to cap a three-run rally and give the Yankees an 8-7 victory. A crowd of 40.959 was on hand Pearson_Monteas the Yankees increased their American League lead  to 12 games en route to their third straight championship.

One year later come September, Fordham University defeated Waynesburg College of Pennsylvania, 34-7, at Randalls Island in New York. But that wasn’t the story. NBC filmed the first college football game ever televised, as Bill Stern brought the play by play to viewers.

Waynesburg’s Bobby Brooks made history with a 63-yard touchdown run, the first televised TD. Reportedly, there was no victory dance in the end zone.

The W2XBS broadcast signal had about a 50-mile radius, and there were about a thousand TV sets in the New York metropolitan area at the time. The signal didn’t even reach Waynesburg, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. So who saw the game? Who knows?

Columbia Shocks Army
In October of 1947, Army was a huge favorite as the Cadets brought a 32-game winning streak into New York to face Columbia’s Lions. Army had not lost since 1943; Columbia was coming off losses to Yale and Penn.

Army led, 20-7, at the half, but the Columbia combination of quarterback Gene Rossides and received Bill Swiacki brought the Lions back for a stunning 21-20 victory.

maris60And in September of 1961, Roger Maris of the Yankees, pictured left, hit a long home run into the upper deck at the old Yankee Stadium against Baltimore’s Jack Fisher. The round-tripper was Roger’s 60th of the season, equaling the mark Babe Ruth set in 1927.  Maris hit number 61 on the final day of the season, setting a record that many feel still stands.

These events, interesting in of themselves, have something else in common. My father was right there for each and every one. He was just 13-years-old at the Pearson no-hitter, a game he attended with other family members. The decision was made to leave once the Indians got their first hit. That never happened.

My Dad went to the Waynesburg-Fordham game with his cousin, who was at that time the manager of a powerful Fordham team.  By the time Maris tied the Babe in 1961, my Dad was a father of four, two boys and two girls, including me, the oldest. Of course, my Mom had something to do that.

My Dad took me to my first Yankee game nearly 60 years ago. He also brought me to my first Giants game, also at Yankee Stadium, and to my first Knicks and Rangers games at the old Madison Square Garden.

He’s always been there for me, whether it be cash, advice or a good meal. There’s still nothing I’d rather do than talk sports with my old man. I treasure the times I spend with him always.

Happy Birthday. Love you, Dad.

(Note: My father turns 92 today. World War II veteran, engineer, lifelong Yankee fan, married for 67 years, father of our, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 10. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever known.)

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Jabbar part of the conversation of best ever

1758742ADB_DNA023133068Who’s the best basketball player in history?

The most popular answer is Michael Jordan. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are popular selections. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are certainly in the conversation. LeBron James is a favorite of the current generation and still climbing.

A name that rarely…if ever…comes up is Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Surprising, considering the big man’s pedigree. Here are 10 supporting arguments for Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the best ever.

1. POINTS: He’s the leading scorer in NBA history with 37,387 points. Karl Malone is second.

2. MVP: Kareem won the NBA MVP award a record six times. Jordan won five and LeBron is a four-time winner.

3. RINGS: He’s won six NBA championships, one with the Bucks and five with the Lakers. Only Robert Horry and a bunch of Celtics have won more. Russell is the leader with 11.

4. DEFENSE: Kareem was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive team 11 times.

5. REBOUNDS: He’s fourth all-time in rebounds with 17,440, trailing only Wilt, Russell and Malone.

6. ALL-STAR: Jabbar appeared in 19 NBA All-Star games, the most in history. Kobe Bryant is second with 18.

7. BLOCKS: Only Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutumbo have more blocks than Kareem.

8. UCLA: Won three straight NCAA titles with UCLA in 1967,68 and 69, and made first team All-American each year.

9. GAMES: Only Robert Parrish played in more NBA games than Jabbar.

10. SCORING AVERAGE: Kareem averaged 24.6 points per game throughout his career.


Long before Aaron, baseball had a Judge

JoeJudgeNew York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is having a breakthrough rookie season, belting prodigious home runs and exciting fans across the country as his #99 soars to the top of the MLB best-selling jersey list and he becomes the early leader in the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year races

However, more than four decades ago a guy named Judge was a shining baseball star. No, not Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served as baseball’s first commissioner from 1920 to 1944 and is famous for handling the Black Sox scandal.

The other ballplaying Judge, Joe Judge, was a stellar first baseman who played nearly his entire 20-year career with the Washington Senators before retiring in 1934. This Judge compiled a .298 lifetime batting average and hit better than .290 for 11 straight seasons beginning in 1920.

Although Judge was not a home run hitter (he had just 71) he finished his career with 433 doubles, 159 triples, 2,352 hits, 1,034 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .420.

Joe Judge was known as one of the best fielding first baseman of his era, the Keith Hernandez of his day. Just 5’ 8 1/2” tall, Judge led AL first baseman in fielding six times and finished second in five other seasons. He retired with a .933 fielding percentage, a record that stood for 30 years. The lefty still ranks among the all time first base leaders in games (2,084), assists (1,301), putouts (19,264) and double plays (1,500).

JoeJudgeGoudeycardIn 1920, Judge made a great stop and flip to Walter Johnson on the final play of the game to give the great Senators Hall of Fame pitcher his only career no-hitter.

The Brooklyn native had one of his best years in 1924, hitting .324 and helping the Senators win their only World Series. Judge batted .385 in the seven-game Series victory over the New York Giants.

Despite several injuries he batted .314 in 1925 as the Senators won their second straight pennant but fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates in another seven-game World Series.

Judge played the final two years of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, and later coached baseball at Georgetown University until 1958. He died at age 68 in 1963 after suffering a fatal heart attack while shoveling snow at his home in Washington, DC.


Can Judge hit one out of Yankee Stadium?

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That is the question. It’s never been done, either at the new Yankee Stadium or the old ballpark — The House that Ruth Built — right across the street.

Seems like a super human feat. Mission impossible. Perhaps, but after Yankees’ phenom Aaron Judge cleared the left-center field bleachers with a 495-foot home run, it seems like a legitimate question.

Judge’s latest moonshot blast certainly opened some eyes. Consider that his home run would have landed in the corridor in front the Yankees retired numbers, under the Bank of America sign, if not deflected by a fan. Now look to the left of that spot, perhaps 25-30 feet, near the flagpoles. Notice the alley. Under ideal circumstances, with the wind blowing out, who’s to say Judge couldn’t clear that back wall. Not impossible.

There have been some monster shots in the new Stadium, but none as monstrous as the one Judge hit. Alex Rodriguez hit several bombs deep into the bleachers, and Philly’s Raul Ibanez and Cleveland’s Russell Branyan hit titanic shots.

But judging by the results, Aaron Judge has the best chance to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium

Original Yankee Stadium Blasts

Nearly 16 years ago, July 22, 2001, Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams hit a ball that left the old Stadium, over the old Yankee bullpen in right field and onto the elevated tracks of the 4 line.But that was in batting practice.

I was at the ballpark with my family that day, a hot summer Sunday afternoon. We were sitting on the third base side, box seats. My son Dan, a teen-ager at the time, swears he saw the ball go out

“I saw it,” he said. “It went out in that little gap, over the wall and right onto the railroad tracks. “People noticed it, they were clapping. You didn’t believe me.”

Well, it was hard to believe.

“I didn’t see it,” Williams told the New York Post. “But I noticed that it never came back, so that should have been some indication it was out. Batting practice is a great relief and release of tension for me. I’ve had a lot of tension this year, so it’s kind of like hitting a punching bag. I always try to hit the ball hard, but that’s as hard as I’ve ever hit one. That’s a long way.”

It’s a feat that no Yankee slugger had ever accomplished before — not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Reggie Jackson.

Twice, Mantle came within several feet of hitting one out of Yankee Stadium, off Pete Ramos of the Washington Senators on Memorial Day, 1956, right, and against Bill Fischer of the Kansas City A’s on May 22, 1963. Both times the ball was still rising when it struck the façade in right field. Mantle later said the 1963 HR was the hardest ball he ever hit.

Josh Gibson and Frank Howard, among others, were reputed to have gone out of the Stadium, though neither has ever been proven.

Gibson, the great Negro League catcher, is said to have hit several moonshots in the his day, including a ball that traveled 580 feet in the 1930s.

Babe Ruth may have hit some balls out of the original Yankee Stadium before the upper deck in right field was built, but none have ever been documented. The upper deck in right was extended in 1937.

But Bernie Williams did it for real….even if it was BP. He even hit a home run in the game, a solo shot in the first inning, to help lift the Yankees to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bernie finished his career with 287 home runs, 22 more in the playoffs. And one that didn’t count but went out of Yankee Stadium

Bernie goes Boom!


My favorite Yankees — 25-man roster

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Graig Nettles and Goose Gossage (54) celebrate playoff win over Red Sox in 1978 at Fenway.

I’ve been watching Yankee baseball since I was a kid. My earliest memories go back to the 1957 World Series, when the Yankees lost to the Milwaukee Braves in seven games.

I always wanted to pull together a 25-man team of my favorite Yankees. Not necessarily the best, but the Yankees I liked the most.

You’ll note Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio are missing; that’s because I never saw them play. And there are no current Yankees on this team, they’re for future consideration.

Here are the starters and reserve, including seven starting pitchers and three relievers.

REGULARS

CYogi Berra – Got rings? Yogi has 10, most of any player in history.

1B – Don Mattingly – Hit a record 6 grand slams in 1987, the only grand slams of his career.

2B – Willie Randolph – Quiet leader, member of the 1977 and 1978 World Champions.

3B – Graig Nettles – His play at the hot corner was a turning point in the 1978 World Series. 

SS – Derek Jeter – The Captain is #6 on the all-time hit list with 3465.

OF – Mickey Mantle – The switch-hitter, #7, hit some of the longest HRs in MLB history.

OF – Bernie Williams – Another in a long line of great Yankee center fielders.

OFBobby Murcer – He wasn’t the next Mantle, but he was damn good.

PITCHERS

P – Whitey Ford – All-time Yankee leader with 236 wins and a .690 wining percentage.

P – Mel Stottlemyre – Arrived at the end of a dynasty, had 40 career shutouts.

P – Ron Guidry – Enjoyed one of the great seasons ever in 1978, 25-3 with a 1.78 ERA.

P – David Cone – Helped put the Yankees over the top in 1996, was perfect in 1999.

PAndy Pettitte – Clutch lefty, his 19 post-season wins are the most by any pitcher.

RPMariano Rivera – Simply the greatest closer in history with 652 saves.

RPGoose Gossage – Fearsome bullpen presence, saw his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

RESERVES

C Thurman Munson – Hit safely in 28 of 30 post-season games, died in a plane crash in 1979.

1B – Bill Skowron – The Moose hit a home run in my first game at Yankee Stadium

IF – Bobby Richardson – Only World Series MVP on a losing team, 1960 vs. Pittsburgh.

IF – Gil McDougald – Utility man, Rookie of the Year in 1951, later coached baseball at Fordham.

OF – Roger Maris – Still holds the American League single season HR record with 61 in 1961.

OF – Reggie Jackson – Mr. October, hit three HRs vs Dodgers in 1977 World Series clincher.

OF – Paul O’Neill – The Warrior, a mainstay of Yankee championship teams in 1996, 199-2000.

P – Jim “Catfish” Hunter – George’s first big free agent signing, won 23 games in 1975.

P – David Wells – Saw him pitch a perfect game in 1998 against the Twins.

RP – Sparky Lyle – Stolen from the Red Sox, provided pomp and circumstance out of the bullpen.

NEXT CALL-UPS

1B Chris Chambliss; 3B Clete Boyer; OF Lou Piniella; OF Roy White; P Orlando Hernandez; P Jim Bouton


The Bullets and the amazing comeback of 1948

Bullets-1948

The Cleveland Cavaliers recently engineered the greatest second-half comeback in NBA playoff history when they rallied from 25 down at the half to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-114.

Amazingly, that broke a record that stood for nearly 70 years, ever since the Baltimore Bullets came back from 21 down to beat the Philadelphia Warriors 66-63 in the 1948 NBA Finals.

In an era without the 24-second clock and a three-point line, the Bullets came all the way back to win, on Philadelphia’s home floor no less. And it remained the largest comeback for 70 years, a lifetime of games. None of the great Celtics or Lakers team or Jordan’s Bulls or the Spurs or anyone else ever made a bigger comeback,

In 1948, the defending champion Warriors, fresh off their Game One victory, rolled to a 41-20 halftime lead over the Bullets. “In those days, if you got behind that far, the game was over,” Baltimore player-coach Buddy Jeannette recalled years afterward. “There was no 24-second clock to help you come back. But somehow we did. We took our time and made our shots and caught ’em. I don’t know if we were so good or Philly was so bad.”

Philly’s leading scorer Joe Fulks helped matters by continuing to shoot — and miss. And the Bullets helped themselves by driving to the basket for good shots. The home crowd sat stunned. The Bullets cut the gap to 48-40 in the third quarter. Then, in the last period, it was all Baltimore. “We were up by one with four seconds to go, and I tipped in a missed free throw,” Bullets forward Paul Hoffman recalled.

Connie Simmons led the Bullets with 25 points that night, Hoffman had 12 and Kleggie Hermsen 10.Joe Fulks led the Warriors with 27, most of them in the first half. 

The 66-63 victory was one of the more impressive comebacks in sports history. Unfortunately, nobody paid much attention to pro basketball then. The story received a few paragraphs on the back page of The New York Times. Still, it gave the Bullets the momentum they were looking for.  

The Bullets went on the win the series in six games for their only NBA championship. The Bullets were, in effect, an expansion team in the 1947-48 season having come over from another league, the American Basketball League to the Basketball Association of America, which would become the NBA beginning in 1949. The Baltimore franchise folded in 1954, and the Bullets remain the only defunct team to win an NBA championship.

The Baltimore Bullets returned to the NBA in 1963, after two years in Chicago as first the Packers and then the Zephyrs. They became the Capital Bullets in 1973, the Washington Bullets in 1974 and the current Washington Wizards in 1997. The Bullets beat the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games in 1978 to win their only NBA title.