Rangers vs. Giants: Who Would’ve Thunk It?

The Texas Rangers will square off against the San Francisco Giants this week in one of the unlikeliest World Series pairings in baseball history.

Texas, which had never won a single playoff series prior to this year, knocked off the two teams with the best records in the American League — the Rays and the Yankees — to reach the World Series for the first time in their 50th season.

The Rangers weren’t always the Rangers. They started out as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, and lost 100 games in each of their first four season. In 1972 they moved to Arlington, Texas, became the Texas Rangers, and promptly lost 100 games in each of their first two years. The original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961.

The Giants were heavy underdogs against the Phillies, who were attempting to become the first National League since the St. Louis Cardinals (1942-44) to win three straight pennants.

The Giants, who have called San Francisco home since 1958, won their last World Series in 1954, when they were the New York Giants playing in the old Polo Grounds. Only the Cubs (102 years and counting) and Indians (62 years and counting) have gone longer without a World Series title than the Giants, who lost the Series in 1962, 1989 and 2002.

There aren’t many people who picked a Rangers-Giants World Series in April…..and those who claim they did are probably lying. Either Texas or San Francisco will become one of the more surprising World Champions in baseball history.

Here are the SportsLifer’s 10 most unlikely World Champions of all time (in chronological order). With apologies to the 1944 St. Louis Browns, 1959 Chicago Go-Go Sox, the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Red Sox, and more recently the 2007 Rockies and 2008 Rays, who won pennants but failed to grab the ring.

1906 — The Hitless Wonders, the Chicago White Sox, defeated a Cubs team that won 116 games, still the National League record for a single season.

1914 — The Boston Braves, in last place on the Fourth of July, stormed to the NL pennant and then swept Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in the World Series.

 1924 — The Washington Senators (first in war, first in peace, last in the American League) won their first and only World Series, edging the Giants in a thrilling, seven-game Series.

1948 — The Cleveland Indians beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff, then held off the Boston Braves in six games.

1954 — The New York Giants swept the Cleveland Indians, who won an AL record 111 games in the regular season, to stop the Yankees run of five straight championships.

1960 — The Pittsburgh Pirates, on the strength of Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning, walk-off home run, stunned the New York Yankees in seven games.

1969 — Perhaps the unlikeliest World Series winner of all, the Miracle New York Mets rise from ninth place the previous year to stun the Baltimore Orioles.

1991 — After finishing last in their respective divisions in 1990, the Twins and Braves rebounded and made the World Series. Minnesota beat Atlanta in a hard-fought, seven-game series.

2004 — The Red Sox ended 86 years of futility, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS and then brushing aside the Cardinals in the World Series.

2005 — The Chicago White Sox win their first World Series since 1917, sweeping Houston in the Astros’ only World Series appearance.

The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived

Ted Williams may have been the greatest hitter who ever lived. Williams played for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 to 1960, and missed nearly five full seasons while serving his country in World War II and later the Korean War as a Marine fighter pilot.

The Splendid Splinter hit 521 home runs, third on the all-time behind only Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx when he retired after homering in his final at bat in 1960. Williams had a .344 lifetime average, won six batting titles and was the last player to bat .400 with a .406 average in 1941.

Williams hit .388 to win the American League batting title in 1957 — at the age of 38. He won two MVPs (1946, 1949) and is the only player in history to win the Triple Crown twice. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966.

David Cataneo’s book “I Remember Ted Williams” contains anecdotes and memories from the players and people who knew him best.

Here is a sampling of some of top reminisces from that book:

“I always say that Ted needed another planet. You look at what he has accomplished. Ted Williams was one of the best fishermen, so he kind of conquered the seas. He’s one of the best baseball players, so he kind of conquered the land. He was an ace pilot, so he kind of conquered the air. So he’s kind of a man who’s outgrown this planet. He’s the real John Wayne.”
— Maureen Cronin, daughter of Red Sox manager Joe Cronin

“He never wanted to be embarrassed at the plate. Ever. He talked about it. He said, ‘When I walk down the street, I want people to say: ‘There goes Ted Williams, the best hitter I’ve ever seen.”‘
— Broadway Charlie Wagner, Red Sox pitcher, 1938-42, 1946

“One day at Tiger Stadium, he put on the greatest demonstration of batting practice that I had ever seen. He hit one ball after another, most of them in the upper deck. He loved to hit in Detroit. I think out of 20 pitches, he hit 17 up into the stands. And when he got through, it was early, but there were 30-35,000 in the stands. Those people just stood and gave him a standing ovation. You would have thought he had just won the World Series.”
— Boo Ferriss, Red Sox pitcher, 1946-1950

“I never met anybody in my life who was as electric as he was. I’ve met some who are electric, but none to the brilliance that he was. I mean he’d light up a funeral parlor.”
— George Sullivan, Fenway Park batboy in 1949, sportswriter in the 50s and 60s, and the Red Sox PR director in the 80s

Williams had a stormy relationships with the Boston media — whom he referred to as the “Knights of the Keyboard. The sportswriter who hurt Williams most was wrinkly, sour Mel Webb of the Boston Globe. On the opening day of spring training in 1947, Williams greeted the old scribe by saying, ‘Why don’t you drop dead you old bastard.’ Webb vowed to get back at him, and he did during that season’s MVP balloting. He completely left Triple Crown winner Williams off his ballot. Ted lost the award to DiMaggio, 202-201. If Webb had voted Ted at least tenth most valuable, Williams would have won.”

“He always talked to the out-of-town writers just to screw the Boston writers. You know what he’d do? He’d be in the dugout and an out-of-towner would come in and he’d give him a big handshake. “Let’s get out of here.” They go down to the end of the dugout, all alone. They’d be talking, and all the Boston guys would be looking and wondering what the hell he was telling hi. Maybe he was quitting or something. Ted did it on purpose.”
— Tim Horgan, longtime Boston Herald columnist


“Of all the things Ted told me, he said, ‘I’ve gotten all kinds of accolades in the baseball department, but the thing I’m most proud of was I was a good marine fighter pilot.’ He was so darned proud of being a marine.”
— Long-time friend Frank Cushing

Williams on being sold to the Red Sox
“When I first heard the news that I had been sold to Boston, I almost blew a fuse. I always dreamed of playing with the Yankees or Giants. Babe Ruth was my hero. I used to dream of hitting home runs into the friendly right-field stands in the Yankee Stadium or Polo Grounds. Why, I had followed baseball since I was old enough to read and the Red Sox had been mired in the second division throughout my boyhood.”

His opinion on whether, as manager of the Washington Senators, he could get along with a cantankerous player like Ted Williams.
“If he can hit like Ted Williams, yes.”

Out-FOXed: Cablevision Puts Fans in Dark

A friend recently told me that in a war between a broadcast network and a cable operator, there are no good guys to root for.

Add to that the good guys are the viewers…..the victims.

So while FOX (News Corp) and Cablevision negotiate over retransmission rights, more than three million Cablevision subscribers in the New York metropolitan area missed the Giants-Lions game. Cablevision also has subscribers in Connecticut and New Jersey, some of whom are missing the Eagles-Falcons game on FOX.

Those Philadelphia fans must have been really happy last night when the NLCS game between the Phillies and the Giants was blacked out.

World Series Blackout
If this dispute lasts any longer, Cablevision subscribers are going to miss the World Series, which starts next week.

Who’s to blame? Cablevision claims that FOX is doubling its fees from $70 million to  $150 million (a difference that rivals the $60 million that the Knicks, owned by Cablevision, have paid deadbeat Eddy Curry to sit on the bench).

Don’t think Cablevision is any innocent party either. Earlier this year a dispute with the Walt Disney Company and ABC culminated in a 20-hour outage which ended during the Academy Awards.

And Yankee fans will recall 2002, when Cablevision refused to carry the YES Network for an entire season before New York State stepped in and negotiated a temporary deal. Cablevision had attempted to purchase the Yankees in 1998 and carried the team’s games on MSG Network until YES came on air that year. So Cablevision retaliated by keeping Yankee fans in the dark for a full year.

Binding Arbitration
CableviIMG_0095sion has said it would admit to binding arbitration to decide the latest dispute,  but FOX says no. The companies have had months to negotiate, but they haven’t been able to agree on a price.

So now the fan suffers.

It turned out to be an old-fashioned Sunday for many older New York Giants fans, who recall the NFL home TV blackouts of the 50s and 60s and listening to Marty Glickman broadcast the games on the radio.

For those fans with computer access, here’s a link that allowed me to watch Giants-Lions on my computer. It’s not exactly big screen, high-definition, but it let’s you see the game.

However, the signal does drop every now and again to search for the channel. Yep, Cablevision is my wireless provider too. Isn’t that special.

Series Shutouts Prove Pitching Wins

Jack Morris hurled 10 innings of shutout ball to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

There’s an old adage that says pitching wins championships. Throughout the long history of baseball, that’s certainly proven correct.

And the best pitching generally wins out in championship situations, where 23 World Series have been decided by shutouts in the final game.

Put another way, more than one out of five World Championships has been decided by shutout, including six 1-0 games and seven 2-0 contests.

The very first World Series in 1903 finished in a shutout as the Boston Americans, behind Bill Dineen, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0.

The New York Giants won their first World Series via shutout, when legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson blanked the A’s for the third time in the 1905 World Series.

The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series by shutout as Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in 1907. The Cubs repeated the feat in 1908 and haven’t won since.

Hall of Famers like Mathewson, Brown, Stan Coveleski of the Indians, Dizzy Dean, right, of the Cardinals and Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers all pitched Series-clinching shutouts.

Johnny Podres gave Brooklyn its first and only World Championship when he blanked the Yankees 2-0 in Game 7 of  the 1955 World Series. Two years later, Lew Burdette gave Milwaukee its only title, stopping the Yankees 5-0 in the Bronx.

In the only decisive game to go into extra innings scoreless, the Jack Morris pitched the Minnesota Twins to a World Championship with a 1-0, 10-inning win against the Atlanta Braves in 1991.

Recently, both the Boston Red Sox in 2004 behind Kevin Lowe and the Chicago White Sox in 2005 behind Freddy Garcia ended near-century long title droughts with shutout wins to complete four-game sweeps.

Ironically, the New York Yankees have only four Series-clinching shutout wins amongst their record 27 World Championships — Spud Chandler in 1943, Johnny Kucks in 1956, Ralph Terry in 1962 and Andy Pettitte in 1998.

Here are the highlights:

1903 — Red Sox 3, Pirates 0, Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, Boston
Boston win Series, 5-3

Bill Dineen pitched his second shutout and earned his third victory as the Boston Americans won the final four games to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series ever played. Hall of Famer Cy Young won the other two games for Boston. With great pitching dominating the play, hitters obviously had a rough time at the plate. Boston batted .252 while Pittsburgh, despite the presence of National League batting champion Honus Wagner, hit .237.

1905 — New York Giants 2, Philadelphia A’s 0, Polo Grounds, New York
Giants win Series 4-1

New York’s Hall of Fame right-hander Christy Mathewson  capped off perhaps the best remarkable pitching performance in World Series history when he shut out the Athletics for the third time to give the Giants their first championship. Mathewson pitched three shutouts and permitted only 14 hits in the span of six days. All five  games were shutouts — New York’s Joe McGinnity and Philadelphia’s Chief Bender threw the others. A’s manager Connie Mack later said: “(Christy) Mathewson was the greatest pitcher who ever lived. He had knowledge, judgment, perfect control and form. It was wonderful to watch him pitch when he wasn’t pitching against you.”

1907 — Cubs 2, Tigers 0, Bennett Park, Detroit
Cubs win series, 4-0, one tie

Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown threw a seven-hitter to clinch a 2-0 triumph and a Cubs sweep of the Series (there was one tie game).  The Cubs dominated the contest and made amends for their Series loss to the crosstown rival White Sox the previous year.

1908 — Cubs 2, Tigers 0, Bennett Park, Detroit
Cubs win series, 4-1

This time the Cubs’ Orval Overall pitched the clincher, allowing only three hits and striking out 10 batters to give Chicago back-to-back World Championships (they haven’t won since). Only 6,210 fans witnessed the finale in Detroit, the smallest crowd in Series history.

1909 — Pirates 8, Tigers 0, Bennett Park, Detroit
Pirates win series, 4-3

Pittsburgh’s Babe Adams won this third game of the Series and pitched his third six-hitter to lead the Pirates to victory in Game 7. Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner of Pittsburgh hit .333, with seven RBIs and six stolen bases. Appearing in what would be his last Series (although he would be an active player through 1928), Cobb batted only .231 but led Detroit with six RBIs.

1920 — Indians 3, Robins 0, Dunn Field, Cleveland
Cleveland win series, 5-2

Cleveland won its first World Series when Stan Coveleski pitched his third five-hitter of the Series and earned his third win, beating Brooklyn’s Burleigh Grimes. Indians pitchers held the Robins to just two runs in the final 43 innings of the Series.

1921 — Giants 1, Yankees 0 Polo Grounds, New York
Giants win series, 5-3

The Giants won the first Subway Series when Art Nehf held off Waite Hoyt and the Yankees 1-0 in a classic pitchers duel. Giants shortstop Dave Bancroft scored a first inning run which held up.

1934 — Cardinals 11, Tigers 0, Navin Field, Detroit
Cards win series, 4-3

The Cardinals exploded for seven runs in the third inning and rolled to an 11-0 victory over the Tigers behind Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean. Dizzy and brother Paul combined for 49 wins in the regular season (31 by Dizzy) and all four St. Louis victories in the World Series. In Game 7, a hard slide by the Cardinals Joe Medwick momentarily injured  Tigers third baseman Marv Owen and incensed Detroit fans who threw empty bottles, fruit and other debris onto the field. In an effort to avoid a possible riot, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis stepped in and removed Medwick from the game.

1943 — Yankees 2, Cardinals 0, Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis
Yanks win series, 4-1

St. Louis collected 10 hits against Yankee ace Spud Chandler but was unable to score on any of them. The Bombers needed only a two-run homer from Bill Dickey in the sixth that sealed a 2-0 triumph and avenged a loss to the Cardinals the previous year. The win gave Yankee manager Joe McCarthy had his seventh (and final) World Series Championship.

1955 — Dodgers 2, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium, New York
Dodgers win series, 4-3

Next year finally arrived in Brooklyn as young southpaw Johnny Podres pitched the Dodgers to a 2-0 win over the hated Yankees and their first World Championship. Podres, who surrendered eight hits and two walks, was helped by a spectacular catch by Sandy Amoros who somehow managed to snare Yogi Berra’s long drive down the left field line and turn it into a double play in the sixth inning. Gil Hodges knocked in both runs for the Dodgers, who had lost seven previous times in the World Series; five times to the Yankees. The Dodgers would play two more seasons in Brooklyn before moving west to Los Angeles.

1956 — Yankees 9, Dodgers 0, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn
Yankees win series, 4-3

The Yankees got their revenge when sophomore Johnny Kucks pitched a three-hitter, outdueling Dodgers ace Don Newcombe, a 27-game winner in the regular season, in the seventh and deciding game. Yogi Berra hit a pair of two-run homers, Elston Howard a solo shot and Moose Skowron a grand slam to account for all the Yankee runs. The final three games of the Series were shutouts, as Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 and Brooklyn’s Clem Labine outlasted Bob Turley 1-0 in 10 innings in Game Six.

1957 — Braves 5, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium, New York
Braves win series, 4-3

For the third straight year the World Series went seven games, and for the third straight year the championship was decided by a shutout. This time Milwaukee’s Lew Burdette stifled the Yankees for this third complete game victory and second shutout of the Series. Hank Aaron led the Braves with three home runs, seven RBIs and a .393 average.

1962 — Yankees 1, Giants 0, Candlestick Park, San Francisco
Yankees win series, 4-3

Yankee hurler Ralph Terry, who gave up the deciding home run to Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski in 1960, pitched a complete game, four-hitter to beat the Giants 1-0. With runners on second and third and two outs in the ninth, San Francisco slugger hit a vicious line drive that second baseman Bobby Richardson snared to end the Series. New York scored its only run in the fifth inning when Tony Kubek’s double play grounder plated Moose Skowron.

1965 — Dodgers 2, Twins 0, Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota
Dodgers win series, 4-3

Pitching on two days rest, Los Angeles ace Sandy Koufax, left tamed Minnesota on three hits and struck out 10 Twins in a complete game shutout. The Dodgers scored their only runs in the fourth inning on a home run by Lou Johnson and a run scoring single by Wes Parker as they won the World Series for the second time in three years.

1966 — Orioles 1, Dodgers 0, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore
Orioles sweep, 4-0

Dave McNally pitched Baltimore’s third straight shutout as the Orioles limited the Dodgers to just two runs and a .142 batting average in the four-game sweep. Frank Robinson’s fourth-inning home run off Don Drysdale provided the only scoring. The Dodgers failed to score a single run over the final 33 1/3 innings of the Series.

1983 — Orioles 5, Phillies 0, Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia
O’s win series, 4-1

Scott McGregor pitched a five-hitter and Eddie Murray knocked in three runs with a pair of homers to lead the Orioles to a World Series title in Game 5. Baltimore pitching limited Philadelphia slugger Mike Schmidt to just one hit in 20 at bats.

1985 — Royals 11, Cardinals 0, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
Royals win series, 4-3

Proud papa Bret Saberhagen, who became a father the day before, pitched a five-hit shutout as the Royals overcame a 3-1 deficit against their cross-state rivals to win the final three games and their first World Series. George Brett went four-for-five to lead the Kansas City onslaught.

1991 — Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings), Metrodome, Minnesota
Minnesota wins series, 4-3

Twins right-hander Jack Morris pitched 10 shutout innings as Minnesota won its second World Championship in five years, beating John Smoltz and the upstart Braves 1-0. Morris outlasted Atlanta’s John Smoltz, who pitched seven shutout innings before being lifted in the eighth. Minnesota’s Dan Gladden led off the 10th inning with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on a pinch-hit single by Gene Larkin. A Twin Cities sportswriter wrote that on that night, “[Morris] could have outlasted Methuselah.”

1995 — Braves 1, Indians 0, Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta
Braves win series 4-2

Tom Glavine, right, and Mark Wohlers combined on a one-hitter and David Justice knocked in the only run with a home run in the sixth inning as the Braves won their third World Series title (first in Atlanta).

1998 — Yankees 3, Padres 0, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Yankees sweep series

Andy Pettitte pitched  7 1/3 scoreless innings and Mariano Rivera recorded the last four outs as the Yankees capped a dominant season with their 24th World Championship.

2003 — Marlins 2, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium, New York
Marlins win series, 4-2

Josh Beckett, starting on three days rest for the first time in his young career, dominated the Yankees with a complete-game, five-hit shutout. His rival, Andy Pettitte, who had won 11 consecutive games following Yankees losses, gave New York a valiant effort, holding the Marlins to two runs (one earned) over seven innings.

2004 — Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0, Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Red Sox sweep series, 4-0

Boston’s Derek Lowe allowed only three hits over seven masterful innings and Keith Foulke finished up as Boston won its first World Series in 86 years. Johnny Damon gave Boston the only run it would need when he led off the game with a home run. Previously Lowe beat the Yankees in Game 7 as the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the ALCS.

2005 — White Sox 1, Astros 0, Minute Maid Park, Houston
White Sox sweep series

Freddy Garcia pitched seven innings of four-hit ball and Bobby Jenks got the save as the White Sox completed a sweep of the Astros and won their first World Championship in 88 years. Chicago scored the only run of the game in the eighth inning off Houston closer Brad Lidge on a two-out single up the middle by Series MVP Jermaine Dye.

50 Years Ago Today, Maz Shocked the World

There was bedlam in Pittsburgh 50 years ago when Bill Mazeroski homered to beat the Yankees and win the World Series for the Pirates.

Fifty years ago this very day, Oct. 13, 1960, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. Maz achieved what every American kid dreams about — hitting a home run to win the seventh game of the World Series.

On a bright October afternoon, Mazeroski slugged a pitch from Yankee reliever Ralph Terry over the head of Yankee left fielder Yogi Berra and beyond the ivy wall at old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. It gave the Pirates a 10-9 win over New York in the seventh and deciding game of the World Series.

Maz’s home run, on the day of the third Kennedy-Nixon candidate debate, remains the only Series clinching Game 7 home run in history.

“When I hit (the home run) I thought it was just another hit to win a game,” Mazeroski recalled. “I didn’t think I’d be talking about it 50 years later.”

Terry summed it up perfectly when he said, “I don’t know what that pitch to Mazeroski was. All I know is that it was the wrong one.”

The implausible win made the Pirates a World Champion for the first time since 1925 and left the Yankees wondering what hit them.

Vintage Broadcast
For nearly 50 years, the broadcast of the deciding game of the 1960 World Series was believed to be lost forever. However it was recently discovered in a black and white, five-reel set encased in gray canisters in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar near San Francisco.

Crosby, who was a part owner of the Pirates, was superstitious and too nervous to watch the Series against the Yankees, so he went to Paris with his wife Kathryn and listed to the famous game on short wave radio.

Meanwhile, he hired a company to record the game in kinescope — an early version of DVR — filming off a television monitor. Graphics were simple and rarely used — there were no replays, no analysis, no trivia quizzes. Pittsburgh broadcaster Bob Prince called the  first half of the game, and Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen the second half.

The MLB Network has acquired the rights to televise the game in December, and also plans to sell DVDs of the game.

Yankees Hit .338 — And Lose
The 1960 World Series was one of the most bizarre and exciting Fall Classics ever. The Yankees dominated the stats, hitting .338 as a team and outscoring Pirates 55-27. They won three games by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0.

Yet somehow the underdog Bucs found a way to force a seventh game. That afternoon the Pirates quickly jumped to a 4-0 lead, battering Yankee starter Bob Turley.

But then the Yanks came back on the strength of a three-run homer by Berra down the right field line in the sixth, and carried a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Then the Pirates rallied. First a bad hop grounder by Bill Virdon hit Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat, preventing a double play. Then reliever Jim Coates failed to cover first base on a slow chopper by Roberto Clemente, allowing a run to score and extending the inning.

When Pittsburgh catcher Hal Smith slugged a three-run homer, the Pirates suddenly had a 9-7 lead. Mickey Mantle singled to drive in a run, then avoided a tag by first baseman Rocky Nelson as Gil McDougald, playing his final game, scored to tie the game at 9-9.

Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth for Pittsburgh. He took a ball from Terry, then hit the next pitch for the home run that rocked the Steel City and rolled the Yankees.

Mantle Wept Openly
In the Yankee clubhouse, Mantle wept openly. He was later quoted as saying that losing the 1960 series was the biggest disappointment of his career.

When Terry, right., sat dejectedly in his locker Coates came over to him and said: “I sure hate to see it happen to you, but you sure took me off the hook.” Terry just glared at his teammate.

Shortly after the Series ended, Stengel was involuntarily retired from the Yankees, because he was believed to be too old to manage. Stengel remarked that he had been fired for turning 70, and that he would “never make that mistake again.”

Mazeroski, below, one of the best fielding second baseman ever, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. Maz hit .260 and belted 138 home runs during his 17-year career. He batted .320 with five RBIs in the 1960 World Series, and also homered in Game One to spark a Pittsburgh victory.

Terry was on the mound in the ninth inning for another Game 7 two years later — against the Giants in 1962 at Candlestick Park. He pitched a complete game shutout and beat San Francisco 1-0 that time, getting Willie McCovey to line to Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson for the final out with the tying runs on base. Terry was 23-12 that season, and was named World Series MVP.

Personal Note — I was a fourth grader and already a Yankee fan when the 1960 World Series was played. For Game Seven, Sister Mary Gerard let us listen to bits of the game broadcast on our transistor radios. After school I rushed home to see the dramatic finale. And when Maz hit the home run, I cried, just like Mickey Mantle

Imagine: John Lennon And The Orange Bowl

December 8, 1980 — John Lennon was murdered outside the Dakota in New York. If still alive, the ex-Beatle would be 77.

John Lennon’s death was one of those seminal events where you remember exactly how you first heard the tragic news.

That night, I was at the old Orange Bowl in Miami to see the Miami Dolphins face the New England Patriots in Monday night football.

Late in the fourth quarter, famed broadcaster Howard Cosell informed the nationwide audience on ABC-TV that Lennon had been shot.

No public announcement was made at the Orange Bowl. There were no cell phones, no text messages, no wireless Internet to deliver the story.

The game went into overtime, and the Dolphins win 16-13 on a 23-yard field goal by Uwe von Schamann.

It was a beautiful December South Florida night.

After the game, I took a bus back to my car, drove home with the radio off. Still hadn’t heard about Lennon.

The next day, as I was driving in to work the sports desk at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, I turned on the radio. Every station was playing Beatles music and John Lennon songs.

Finally, one of the DJs reported that Lennon had been shot and killed the night before.

At work of course Lennon’s death was the only topic of conversation. I still remember the rock & roll writer at the paper writing his piece on Lennon.

And the story that referred to John as “The Thinking Man’s Beatle.”

John Lennon was just 40 years old when he was killed. Although he is gone, he is still with us in his music.

Happy Birthday, John.

John Lennon and Joe Pepitone: Born The Same Day

SportsLifer Top 50: Number 13

Andy Pettitte Is King of The Hill in Playoffs

Andy Pettitte is this generation’s Whitey Ford. Both are pinstriped left-handers, big game pitchers and post-season marvels.

Ford, a Hall of Famer, won a record 10 World Series games in his storied career, and once pitched 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, another Series record.

He holds the Yankee career record for victories with 236, and at .690 boasts the highest winning percentage in history for pitchers with more than 200 wins.

Ford, below right, was known as the Chairman of the Board.

Perhaps they ought to call Pettitte the King of the Hill.

When Pettitte knocked off the Minnesota Twins the other night in Game Two of the American League Divisional Series, he earned his 19th post-season win, a major league record.

Overall, Pettitte is 19-9 in the playoffs with a 3.87 ERA. Breaking it down, he’s 6-3 in the ALDS, 1-0 in the ALDS, 7-1 in the ALCS, 0-1 in the NLCS and 5-4 in the World Series.

Among Pettitte’s 19 wins are a 1-0 masterpiece against Atlanta’s John Smoltz, another big-game pitcher, in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series; a 3-0 win over the Padres that helped the Yankees sweep the Padres in 1998; and two wins over a Mariners team that earned him MVP honors in the 2001 ALCS. That Seattle team won an American League record 116 games during the regular season.

In 2003, Pettitte won the second game in all three playoff rounds after the Yankees lost the opener. And last year, he won the clincher in all three rounds as the Yankees won their 27th World Championship.

You’ve got to wonder if the Yankees might have avoided the worst playoff collapse in baseball history, losing a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, if Pettitte wasn’t pitching for Houston that year.

Is Pettitte a Hall of Famer? That remains to be seen, but he certainly warrants strong consideration. On top of his post-season pedigree, Pettitte has a 240-138 record, and no pitcher with a career record 100 games over .500 has ever been denied entry into Cooperstown. A two-time 20-game winner, Pettitte has never finished a season under .500 in his 16-year career.

Pettitte’s admission that he used steroids won’t help his cause, but you can make a strong argument that the King of the Hill should be a Hall of Famer.

Best Players Never to Play in World Series

A few years back I wrote a series of blogs called “Lords of the Ringless” — a litany on the greatest baseball, football and basketball players never to win a championship.

Every baseball player dreams of winning a World Series. But at least those who get there and lose the Fall Classic can brag about winning a pennant.

Not so this group, which features Hall of Famers at every position except outfield and closer.

Those outfielders are Ken Griffey, Jr., below, and Sammy Sosa, who stand fifth and seventh on the all-time home run list respectively (with 630 and 609 home runs) and are not yet eligible for election. Sosa hit 60 or more home runs three times and led the National League in HRs twice; Griffey led the American League in homers on four different occasions.

The squad includes a two-time .400 hitter (George Sisler); a .342 lifetime hitter (Harry Heilmann); and a pitcher who won 20 games in a season seven times (Ferguson Jenkins).

The infielders combined for 10 batting titles lifetime, seven by second baseman Rod Carew, along with four MVP honors, two by shortstop Ernie Banks.

The starting rotation features two 300-game winners in Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry, a combined 1176 victories and three Cy Young Award winners — two by Perry, one in each league.

Coming out of the bullpen is Lee Smith, third on the all-time list with 478 saves.

Here’s the starting lineup: the best players never to make the World Series.

The Lineup

C — Rick Ferrell: Hall of Famer, played 18 seasons with Browns, Red Sox and Senators. 7-time All Star, .281 career batting average.

1B — George Sisler: ’22 AL MVP. two batting titles, .407 in ’20, .420 in ’22, .340 lifetime, Browns, Senators, Braves.

2B — Rod Carew: .328 career batting average, 7 batting titles, AL MVP in ’77 with .388 average, Twins, Angels, others; 4 times in ALCS, two with Twins, two with Angels.

SS — Ernie Banks: Mr. Cub, .512 lifetime homers, 277 as shortstop, NL MVP in ’58, ’59 as SS, later moved to IB. Cubs.

3B — George Kell: .306 career batting average, won AL batting title in ’49; Phillies, Tigers, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles.

OF — Harry Heilmann: .342 career average, 4 AL batting titles, .403 in ’23, Tigers, Reds.

OF – Sammy Sosa: 609 HRs, 7th all-time, 3 years with 60 HRs, NL MVP ’98, Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles.

OF — Ken Griffey, Jr: Played for Mariners, Reds and White Sox. 630 HRs are fifth most in history. Won AL MVP in 97.

P — Ferguson Jenkins: 284-226 7 20-win seasons, 3192 Ks, ‘ 71 NL Cy Young; Cubs, Rangers, Red Sox.

P — Phil Niekro: knuckleballer, right, 318 wins, 24 years from ’64 to ’87, Braves, Yankees, Indians.

P — Gaylord Perry: 314 wins, AL Cy Young ’72, NL Cy Young ’78, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners.

P — Ted Lyons: 260 career wins, won 20 3 times, White Sox ’23-46.

R — Lee Smith: 478 saves; Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles. Angels, Reds, Expos.

Other Lords of The Ringless

Baseball Edition

Quarterback Edition

Running Back Edition

Wide Receiver Edition

Hoops Edition