All-Star Game ends up in 1-1 tie at Fenway

July 31, 1961 – The season’s second All-Star Game wound up in a 1-1 tie as a downpour called a halt to play after nine innings at Fenway Park.

61yankees92From 1959 through 1962, MLB played two All-Star games each year.

Tigers outfielder Rocky Colavito homered over the Green Monster in the first inning against Bob Purkey of Cincinnati to give the AL a 1-0 lead.

In the sixth, Milwaukee’s Eddie Matthews walked and Bill White of St. Louis drove him in with a bases loaded single.

Boston rookie pitcher Don Schwall gave up all five NL hits and the only run. The AL managed just four hits against Purkey, Art Mahaffey, Sandy Koufax and Stu Miller.

Mickey Mantle was 0-for-3 and Roger Maris popped to second in a pinch-hitting appearance.

Box score

BASEBALL IS BACK: And the SportsLifer will continue to provide day-by-day updates on the 1961 New York Yankees as the M&M Boys try and chase down the Babe. Play ball!

Who in the world is Larry Corcoran?

Justin Verlander joined an elite group when he tossed the third no-hitter of his career yesterday.

Verlander became just the sixth pitcher to throw three or more no-hitters. He joins baseball legends Nolan Ryan (7), Sandy Koufax (4), Cy Young (3), and Bob Feller (3). And then there’s Larry Corcoran. Hardly a household name.CorcoranLarry.jpg

Pitching for the Chicago White Stockings, Corcoran threw no-hitters against the Boston Red Caps in 1880, Worcester Worcesters in 1882 and Providence Grays in 1884.

Corcoran was one of the smallest players in baseball history. Born in 1859 to Irish immigrant parents, the Brooklyn native stood just 5’3” and weighed 127 pounds. Nicknamed “Little Corcoran,” he was one of the early masters of the curveball.

Corcoran won 170 games for the White Stockings over that five-year span, including 43 wins in 1880 and 35 in 1884. Corcoran averaged 456 innings and 34 wins per year during that stretch, helping Chicago to three National League pennants.

But all those innings put a strain on his arm, and his career went downhill after 1884. Corcoran later pitched for the New York Giants, Washington Nationals, and Indianapolis Hoosiers, and wound up his career with a 177-89 mark, a 2.36 ERA and those three no-hitters.

Unable to adapt to life after baseball, Corcoran turned to alcohol. He died in 1881 of kidney failure. Larry Corcoran was just 32 years old.


7 UP: Nothing beats a Game 7


There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. Astros vs. Dodgers. One game. Winner take all.

Throughout baseball history, there have been 38 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903. Tonight marks the first World Series Game 7 ever at Dodger Stadium, and the first for the Dodgers since 1965, when they beat the Minnesota Twins on a three-hit shutout by Sandy Koufax (pictured above), his second complete game shutout in four days.

Houston is hoping to win its first World Series since the franchise began play as the Colt 45s in 1962. The Astros, then a National League entrant, were swept by the White Sox in their only previous World Series appearance in 2005.

Just last year, the Cubs snapped a 108-year drought when they beat the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in a memorable Game 7. So now baseball fans are blessed with a second straight World Series Game 7 for the first time since 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.

Walk-off wins

That was one of just six walk-off wins in Game 7 overall.

The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win. (Technically that was Game 8, since Game 2 wound up in a 6-6, 11-inning tie.)

Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.

Bill-Mazeroski-s-walk-off-home-run-pittsburgh-pirates-8859387-666-800In 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski, pictured at right. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run. Incredibly, not a single strikeout was registered in that contest,

In 1991, Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning as the Twins beat the Braves.

Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave the Florida Marlins a 3-2 win over the Indians — and the championship.

In 2001, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera  in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Cardinals are Game 7 leaders

The St. Louis Cardinals have won eight seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982 and 2011), a record. Overall the Cards are 8-3 in Game 7. The Yankees have also played in 11 World Series Game 7s, winning five, four against the Brooklyn Dodgers and one against the San Francisco Giants.

The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns. St. Louis Hall of Famer Bob Gibson started three seventh games in four seasons, beating the Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967 before losing to the Tigers in 1968.

The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) in Game 7s, and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).

Other Game 7 facts and figures that may interest only me:

  • A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 38.
  • Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
  • Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Milwaukee Braves.
  • All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
  • The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
  • The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series before last year, in 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game 7.
  • There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the longest gap in baseball history.
  • The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game 7s, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in the first World Series Game 7 in 1909.
  • The National League has won 23 of 38 World Series Game 7s; the American League 15.
  • Game on.

MORE GAME 7: New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro ranks World Series Game 7s.

Ahead of MadBum, Matty tops the list of great pitching performances in World Series history

Madison Bumgarner, aka Bum, rang up one of the great World Series performances of all time when he led the San Francisco Giants past the Kansas City Royals. Great stuff, but MadBum and all the rest take a back seat to the New York Giants right-hander and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who pitched three complete game shutouts to lead his team to a five-game win over the Philadelphia A’s in the second World Series ever in 1905.

Matty, pictured above, threw a four-hitter in Game 1 as the Giants won 3-0. He followed that up with another four-hitter in a 9-0 New York win in Game 3. And he closed the deal two days later at the Polo Grounds, allowing just five hits as the Giants won 2-0. All five games in the 1905 Series ended up in shutouts – Chief Bender for the A’s in Game 2 and Joe McGinnity for the Giants in Game 4.

Mathewson’s 1905 WS line was 27 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, 18 strikeouts and one walk. He even had a couple of base hits. For his career Mathewson won 373 games, nearly twice as many as he lost, with a lifetime 2.13 ERA. He set modern National League records for wins in a career, wins in a season (37) and consecutive 20-win seasons (12), records that still stand today.

Mathewson was nicknamed Big Six when sportswriter Sam Crane compared him to New York City’s Big Six Fire Company, “the fastest to put out the fire.” Matty served in France in World War I where he was a captain in the Army’s Chemical Warfare Division. While there, Mathewson was exposed to mustard gas during a training exercise. He suffered from tuberculosis the rest of his life, and died in 1925 as the World Series was being played.

It’s tough to top Matty’s World Series heroics in 1905, but here are 10 who made history in their own rite, in chronological order.

2014: Madison Bumgarner evoked memories of immortal and fellow Giant Matthewson as he almost single-handedly silenced the Royals. MadBum, shown at left, stopped the red-hot Royals and their eight-game playoff win streak in the opener, and then pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5 for his second win. With the season on the line in Game 7, he threw five innings of two-hit ball to earn the save in a 3-2 Series clinching win. Overall MadBum allowed nine hits and one run in 21 innings, an 0.43 ERA.

1991: Jack Morris was at his absolute best in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Refusing to come out of the game, the Minnesota Twins finally rewarded his efforts when Gene Larkin’s 10th-inning, walk-off single game the Twins a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. In outdueling John Smoltz of the Braves, Morris allowed seven hits over 10 innings and struck out eight. Morris won Game 1 of the Series and had a no-decision in Game 4. He was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in the Series.

1988: Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers maintained his late-season roll with two stellar performances in the World Series. After setting a new record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings in September, Hershiser shut out the heavily-favored Oakland A’s 6-0 in Game 2, then won the Game 5 clincher 5-2 with another complete game. His totals – 2-0 record, 18 innings pitched, 7 hits, 17 strikeouts, and 3-for-3 at the plate.

1968: The St. Louis Cardinals were big favorites, and when Bob Gibson struck out 17 Tiger batters and beat Detroit 31-game winner Denny McLain things didn’t look good. Mickey Lolich to the rescue. The portly southpaw beat the Cardinals 8-1 in Game 2 and hit a home run as well. With the Tigers down three games to one, he won Game 5, 5-3. Finally, pitching on just two days rest, Lolich won his third game of the World Series, outlasting Gibson and the Cards 4-1 in the Game 7 clincher.

1967: The 1967 World Series belonged to St. Louis Cardinals righthander Bob Gibson who doused the Impossible Dreamers, the Boston Red Sox. Gibson was 3-0 with 26 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in three complete game showings. He won Game 1, 2-1, and pitched a five-hit shutout to take Game 4. After the Red Sox rallied to tie the Series, Gibson homered in a 7-2 win in the Game 7 Cards wrap.

1963: During a five-year stretch in the early and mid 60s, Sandy Koufax was as dominant as any pitcher has ever been. And the Los Angeles Dodger left-hander, pictured right, dominated the Yankees in 1963, setting a WS strikeout record with 15 Ks to win Game 1, and completing the sweep with a 2-1 victory and eight strikeouts in Game 4.

1957: Yankee castoff Lew Burdette returned to haunt the Bronx Bombers in the 1957 World Series. The Milwaukee Braves right-hander won Game 2 and then proceeded to shut out the Yankees in Game 5. With the Series on the line, Burdette threw another shutout in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, winning 5-0. Overall, Burdette was 3-0 and allowed just two runs in 27 innings for 0.67 ERA.

1933: The last time Washington was in the World Series, the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. New York’s screwball artist Carl Hubbell won the opener 4-2, striking out 10. In Game 4, Hubbell went all the way allowing eight hits as the Giants won, 2-1 in 11 innings. Although Hubbell gave up three runs in the two games, none of them were earned. His ERA in 20 innings was 0.00.

1926: Grover Cleveland Alexander won 373 games in his career, tying Christy Mathewson for the most all-time in the National League. And he was nearly as good as Matty in the 1926 World Series. Pitching for the Cardinals, Old Pete beat the New York Yankees in Game 2, and when he threw another complete game to win Game 6, 10-2, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer probably figured he was done for the Series. Not so fast. With the Cardinals in front 3-2, two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning of Gam 7, Alexander was called on to face Tony Lazzeri. After a loud foul down the left-field line at Yankee Stadium, Alexander struck out Lazzeri. He threw hitless ball the rest of the way, saving the Cardinals first World Championship.

1921: New York Yankee right-hander Waite Hoyt matched the mighty Matty in the first subway Series, with all games played at the Polo Grounds. He pitched 27 innings against the cross Harlem River Giants, and had a 0.00 ERA. Hoyt pitched a five-hit 3-0 shutout in Game 1 in the Yankees first World Series game ever. He allowed a pair of unearned runs in in Game 5 and won again, 4-2. In the finale, Game 8, Hoyt, pictured at left, gave up an unearned run on an error by shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh in the top of the first and then blanked the Giants the rest of the way. However the Yankees couldn’t score and lost both the game, 1-0, and the Series, five games to three.

Honorable mention

2001: Randy Johnson, Kurt Schilling, two-headed monster, combined to win all four games, three by the Big Unit, as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven games.

1960: Whitey Ford, the winningest pitcher in World Series history with 10, hurled complete game shutouts in Games 2 and 6 and was well on his way to breaking Babe Ruth’s record for consecutive scoreless innings.

1956: Don Larsen. The Yankee righty pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, nuff said. Larsen got bombed in Game 2, but so what. He’s a perfect fit.

1946: Crafty Cardinal lefty Harry Breechen won three games in this Series, including a relief effort in Game 7 to edge the Red Sox. The Cat finished 3-0 with an 0.45 ERA

1912: Smokey Joe Wood, won three games, including the clincher. The Red Sox flame thrower was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA

Still the Juan: Best never to win Cy Young

Nolan Ryan, baseball’s all-time strikeout king, never won a Cy Young Award. Nor did Don Sutton, a fellow Hall of Famer and 300-game winner. Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Jim Bunning, Phil Niekro or Robin Roberts? Answer is no. Not even Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, could cop the Cy.

It’s not any of  those guys. The greatest pitcher never to win a Cy Young Award is Juan Marichal, the Dominican Dandy. He’s the Juan, the best player never to win pitching’s highest honor.

Marichal was 243-142, a .631 winning percentage and a 3.04 ERA during his Hall of Fame career, spent almost entirely with the San Francisco Giants. He won 20 games six times, and three of those were dominant performances, Cy Young type seasons almost any other year.

However Marchial had the bad luck to run up against even more superb performances by Sandy Koufax in 1963 and 1966, and then Bob Gibson in 1968.

In 1963, Juan Marichal was 25-8 with a 2.41 ERA and 248 strikeouts. One of those wins was an epic 1-0, 16-inning battle by the bay against Warren Spahn, in which both pitchers had complete games. But Sandy Koufax was even better, 25-5, 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts. Koufax was also the National League MVP that year.

Three years later, Marichal went 25-6, .2.23 ERA and 222 strikeouts. Again he was bested by Koufax, who in his final season was 27-9, 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts. From its inception in 1956 until 1967, only one Cy Young was awarded each season. Koufax won it three times – in 1963, 1965 and 1966.

In 1968, Marichal was a career high 26-9, 2.43 ERA and 218 K’s. This time he ran up against Bob Gibson and his 1.12 ERA, the lowest in baseball since Dutch Leonard’s 0.96 in 1914. No pitcher has come close to that mark since. Gibson was 22-9 that year and struck out 268 batters in winning both the Cy and MVP. Marichal was left behind at the altar once again.

Imagine that,winning 25, 25 an 26 games – and losing the Cy Young each time. Marichal failed to garner a single vote in 1963, 1966 or 1968 – Koufax twice and Gibson were unanimous winners.

Marichal also won 20 games in 1964, 1965 and 1969 – and yet did not get as much as a single first place vote in Cy Young balloting any of those years, or in any of the other years he was eligible.  Marichal’s highest finish was eighth, tied with Bill Stoneman, in 1971, when he was 18-11.

The 10 greatest pitching duels in MLB history

Ed Walsh, left, and Addie Joss produced a pitching gem in 1908. In a true understatment, Walsh said: “Yes, I pitched a fairly good game myself, but [Joss] pitched better.”

There have been many great pitching duels throughout baseball history. In chronological order, here are the 10 best regular season mound battles of all time.

1. Oct. 2, 1908 — Cleveland Naps 1, Chicago White Sox 0
In the midst of a tight, four-team pennant race, Cleveland’s Addie Joss pitched the fourth perfect game in baseball history against Chicago spitballer Big Ed Walsh. Joss threw just 74 pitches in his masterpiece and struck out three batters, the fewest in any perfect game.

Walsh was nearly as good, hurling a four-hitter and fanning 15. Walsh was 40-15 in 1908 with a 1.42 ERA, and led the AL in wins, games, strikeouts and innings pitched in 1908. Joss was 24-11 with a 1.16 ERA.

Using a corkscrew delivery and his famed jump ball, Joss had 160 wins and 45 shutouts in his career. Joss  pitched a second no-hitter against the White Sox in 1910, and also threw seven one-hitters, including his MLB debut against the St. Louis Browns in 1902. Sadly he was just 31 when he died of meningitis in April of 1911.

Joss’ 1.89 career ERA is ranked second all-time behind Walsh (who won 195 games and finished with a 1.82 ERA), while his 0.97 WHIP is the lowest career WHIP in baseball history. Both pitchers are in the Hall of Fame.

2. Sept. 6, 1912 — Boston Red Sox 1, Washington Senators 0
Fenway Park has never been considered a pitcher’s park, but in its inaugural season it hosted one of the great mound battles in baseball history. Dubbed “The War of 1912,” the contest pitted Washington’s all-time great Walter Johnson against Joe Wood, below, a pair of right-handers enjoying two of the top individual seasons of all time.

Earlier in 1912, Johnson strung together a 16-game winning streak, the longest in American League history. When Wood shut out Washington and Johnson, he ran his winning streak to 14 games without a loss. Wood eventually tied Johnson’s record with two more wins.

While Johnson had a spectacular season, Wood closed out the year with an even more impressive mark.  He won 34 and lost only 5, one of the all-time great season records. Johnson finished 33-12 with a 1.39 ERA and 303 strikeouts; Wood had a 1.91 ERA with 258 Ks.

The AL record of 16 straight win has since been tied — by Lefty Grove of Philadelphia in 1931 and Schoolboy Rowe of Detroit in 1934 — but never broken.

3. May 2, 1917 — Cincinnati Reds 1, Chicago Cubs 0, 10 innings
Played nearly 100 years ago, this remains the only game in baseball history where neither team got a hit in the first nine innings of play.

The Reds finally broke through against Chicago’s Jim “Hippo” Vaughn, who  gave up two hits and a run in the top of the 10th. Jim Thorpe — yes the great athlete Jim Thorpe — drove in the only run of the game with an infield single.

Cincinnati’s Fred Toney completed his no-hitter when he retired the Cubs in order in the last of the 10th. Toney, a 6’6″ righthander with 137 career wins, was a two-time 20-game winner, and won 24 games in 1917.

Vaughn, another big rightie at 6’4″, finished with 23 wins that year. A five time 20-game winner, he led the National League in wins, ERA and shutouts in the war-shortened 1918 season en route to 178 career victories.

4. May 1, 1920 — Boston Braves 1, Brooklyn Robins 1, 26 innings
The longest game in baseball history didn’t have a winner, as the Braves and Robins (later the Dodgers) battled 26 innings in a 1-1 tie.

Amazingly, both pitchers, Leon Cadore of Brooklyn and Joe Oescherger of Boston, went all the way, and neither allowed a run in the last 20 innings. Cadore surrendered 15 hits, walked five and struck out seven. Oescherger gave up nine hits, walked four and struck out seven. Lord only knows how many pitches they threw that day.

Each right-hander won 15 games in 1920. But neither ever won more in a single season, and both finished with losing career marks. Cadore was 68-72 and Oescherger was 82-116.

Brooklyn lost the next day in 13 innings to Phillies, and the day after that to Braves in 19 innings — 58 innings of baseball in three days without a win. But the Robins did go on to win the National League pennant that year.

5. July 2, 1933 — New York Giants 1, St. Louis Cardinals 0
On a hot summer afternoon at the Polo Grounds in New York, Carl Hubbell, below, of the Giants and Tex Carleton of the Cardinals hooked up in one of the great duels in baseball history.

Hubbell, New York’s great left-handed screwball artist and Hall of Famer,  pitched 18 innings and didn’t allow a walk. His mound opponent Carleton was almost as good — he threw 16 scoreless innings before being relieved.

Since 1920, only eight pitchers have worked 16 or more scoreless innings in a game, but Carleton and Hubbell are the only ones to accomplish the feat in the same game. No pitcher has ever gone longer without issuing a walk than Hubbell, nor pitched more scoreless innings and lost than Carleton.

The Giants scored the only run of the game on a two-out single by Hughie Critz off Jessie Haines in the bottom of the 18th. The Giants went on to sweep the doubleheader by winning the second game, also 1-0.

Hubbell won the MVP that year with a 23-12 record and 1.66 ERA, the first of five straight 20-win seasons for King Carl, who finished his career 253-154.  Carleton was 17-11 in 1933 with a 3.38 ERA, and compiled a 100-76 career mark.

6. May 26, 1959 — Milwaukee Braves 1, Pittsburgh Pirates 0, 13 innings
Talk about a hard-luck loser. Pirates left-hander Harvey Haddix  threw 12 perfect innings — more than any other pitcher in history — and lost.

Batter after batter, Inning after inning, Haddix set down a powerful Milwaukee Braves lineup that featured Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews. But the Pirates couldn’t score a run.

Finally, the Braves got to Haddix in the 13th. Felix Mantilla led off with a grounder to third baseman Don Hoak who threw it away for an error. After a sacrifice and an intentional pass to Aaron, Joe Adcock came to the plate. He belted a home run to right center, the first hit off Haddix.

However in the excitement, Aaron did not realize the ball had gone out. He veered off the basepath and passed Aaron, nullifying both runs. Mantilla scored to win the game, 1-0.

The unsung hero in this tableau was Lew Burdette, who threw 13 shutout innings and was the winning pitcher. He scattered 12 singles and didn’t walk a batter, and was helped by three double plays.

7. July 2, 1963 — San Francisco Giants 1, Milwaukee Braves 0, 16 innings
Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, below, of San Francisco and Warren Spahn of Milwaukee hooked up in one of the most memorable pitching duels off all time. The two future Hall of Famers battled for nearly 16 scoreless innings before Willie Mays socked a home run over the left-field fence to win the game, 1-0.

Marichal gave up eight hits and struck out 10; and Spahn allowed nine hits while striking out  two batters. Spahn walked just one man in 16 innings, an intentional pass to Mays in the 14th. Marichal gave up four walks. Each hurler threw more than 200 pitches, heresy in this modern era of pitch counts.

A crowd of 15,921 witnessed the classic at chilly Candlestick Park. At one point in extra innings, Giants manager Alvin Dark asked Marichal if he wanted to come out. Marichal looked out at Spahn on the mound and said: “I’m not leaving while that old guy is still on the mound.” Spahn was 42 at the time, enjoying his last great season.

A 13-time 20-game winner and the winningest pitcher of the 50s, Spahn holds the MLB record for most wins by a left-hander — 363.

Marichal, baseball’s winningest pitcher of the 60s, won 20 six times and finished with 243 wins. He became the first Dominican to enter the Hall of Fame. Marichal is quite arguably the best pitcher never to win a Cy Young Award.

In 1963, Juan Marichal was 25-8 with a 2.41 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Spahn was 23-7 with a 2.60 ERA, And neither pitcher won the Cy Young Award. That honor went to Los Angeles left-hander Sandy Koufax. who went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and struck out 306 batters.

8. Sept. 9, 1965 — Los Angeles Dodgers 1, Chicago Cubs 0
Sandy Koufax may have had the best five-year stretch in baseball history. From 1962 through 1966, Koufax won a National League MVP and  three Cy Young awards, and pitched four no-hitters.

But Koufax was never better than he was on a September night in 1965 in Los Angeles. Pitching against a Cub lineup that featured Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo, along with five rookies. Koufax pitched a perfect game.

For Koufax, it was his fourth no-hitter in four seasons. On this night Koufax was nearly matched by lanky left-hander Bob Hendley of the Cubs, who allowed just one hit, a seventh inning bloop double by Lou Johnson.  It’s the lowest combined hit total in a single game in baseball history.

The Dodgers scored the only run of the game in the fifth inning without the benefit of a base hit. Johnson walked, was sacrificed to second, stole third and came home on a throwing error.

Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully painted the word picture as Koufax approached perfection — “There are 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies.” Koufax fanned pinch-hitter Harvey Kuenn to finish perfect.

9. Aug. 21, 1972 — Atlanta Braves 2, Philadelphia Phillies 1, 11 innings
On a sweltering August night in Philadelphia, future Hall of Famers Phil Niekro, below, and Steve Carlton battled for 11 innings before the Braves prevailed.

After retiring 19 batters in a row, Carlton put two runners on in the 11th before Mike Lum singled home the winning run and snapped Carlton’s 15-game winning streak. Each pitcher walked three batters and out 10. Carlton allowed seven hits; Niekro nine.

Carlton finished 27-10 that year for the last place Phillies, pitching 346 innings and striking out 310 batters. He was rewarded with the Cy Young Award.

Niekro wound up with 16 wins in 1972. Carlton won 329 games in his career, and Niekro 318.

10. May 28, 2000 —  Boston Red Sox 2, New York Yankees 0
One mistake by Roger Clemens made the difference in this classic pitching duel. Clemens was working on a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts when, with two outs in the ninth, Jeff Frye hit a chopper off the middle that banged off “The Rocket” for a single. Trot Nixon then hit a two-run homer into the right field bleachers at Yankee Stadium.

“He got the ball up over the plate and I got good wood on it,” said Nixon. “His ball was starting to come up. I sensed it was coming up. It was a classic battle and Roger made a mistake.”

Martinez took a three-hitter of his own into the ninth, having retired the last 10 batters. The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs, but Pedro got Tino Martinez to bounce out to end it.

It was a great pitching battle between two pitchers who combined to win 573 games and 10 Cy Young awards, including a record seven by Clemens,

How bad is Yankee lineup? Really bad

In 1969 Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Woodstock rocked the world, and the Mets won the World Series.

That year the Yankees batted .235 as a team — in the era before the designated hitter, when America League pitchers hit. There were some decent bats in the 1969 New York lineup — Roy White (.290), Horace Clarke (.285) Bobby Murcer (.259) and Joe Pepitone (.242). The team finished fifth out of six teams in the newly-formed AL East, a game under .500.

The previous season, 1968, the Yankees hit a franchise worst .214, but that was the year of the pitcher. Nobody hit that year. Oh heck, even that awful Stump Merrill last place team of 1990 still managed to hit .241.

Why should Yankee fans care? In the 44 seasons since 1969, no Yankee team has hit this poorly. Until this year.

Here’s the woeful lineup the Yankees trotted out Thursday against Texas, a lineup that was shut out and managed two meaningless singles and made Derek Holland, an ordinary southpaw, look like Sandy Koufax. Cleanup hitter Vernon Wells, shown above, struck out all three times at bat – but he’s not the only culprit for these hitless wonders.

I Suzuki CF
J Nix SS
R Cano DH
V Wells RF
Z Almonte LF
L Overbay 1B
D Adams 2B
A Gonzalez 3B
A Romine C

At the start of play today, the Yankees are hitting .239 as a team. Who are these guys? Outside of Cano and Ichiro, nobody knows.

Somewhere, George Steinbrenner is hopping mad.

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.

Dodgers-Cubs Was Nearly Perfect Back in 1965

Sandy Koufax pitched four no-hitters, including a perfect game in 1965. But his mound opponent that night, little-known Bob Hendley, was almost perfect too.

On a cool September night in Los Angeles almost 45 years ago, the Dodgers and the Cubs played a nearly perfect game, closer to perfect than any other game in major league history.

Sandy Koufax got the headlines that September 9 as he fashioned a perfect game, striking out 14 Cubs in the fourth and final no-hitter of his legendary Dodgers’ career.

But Koufax’s opponent, Bob Hendley, a journeyman left-hander, picked that night to pitch the game of his life, nearly matching the great Koufax. The 26-year-old Hendley allowed just one hit and a single walk, yet lost 1-0.

The game, played in 103 minutes, set several records, among them the fewest hits for both teams (1) and fewest total baserunners (2); the next lowest total is four.  Both pitchers had no-hitters intact until the seventh inning. The only run the Dodgers scored was unearned.

The Dodgers managed to score that run in the fifth inning when outfielder Lou Johnson walked, was sacrificed to second, stole third and continued home on a throwing error by Cubs catcher Chris Krug. Johnson had the only hit of the game, a bloop double over the head of Cubs first baseman Ernie Banks with two out in the seventh.

Koufax Breaks Feller’s Record
Koufax was magnificent that night, becoming just the sixth pitcher in the modern era to throw a perfect game. It was Koufax’s fourth no-hitter, breaking Bob Feller’s record of three (later broken by Nolan Ryan, in 1981, who finished with seven). Koufax’s 14 K’s are the most ever in a perfect game.

Koufax struck out the final six batters he faced to finish off the perfect game with panache. He fanned pinch hitter Harvey Kuenn on a 2-2 pitch for the final out of the game. The ninth inning call of that game by Dodger announcer Vin Scully is considered to be one a classic example of play-by-play broadcasting. Click here to listen for yourself.

Kuenn, a former American League batting champion who hit .303 lifetime with more than 2,000 hits, also made the last out of Koufax’ second career no-hitter, against Juan Marichal, Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants on May 11, 1963. Kuenn bounced out Koufax to first for the final out of that game.

Hendley’s career was not exactly Koufaxian. Over seven years with the Braves, Giants, Cubs and Mets, Hendley never won more than 11 games in a season, finishing with a 48 wins in 100 career decisions. Earlier in the 1965 season, he was traded from the Giants to the Cubs with Ed Bailey and Harvey Kuenn for Dick Bertell and Len Gabrielson.  Hendley wound up 4-4 that year with a 5.96 ERA.

Five days after the perfect game, a Koufax-Hendley rematch took place at Wrigley Field. This time, Hendley defeated Koufax, 2-1 with a complete game four-hitter. Koufax allowed five hits in six innings, including a two-run homer to Billy Williams in the sixth.

To date, Koufax’s perfect game is the last no-hitter to be pitched against the Cubs. They have gone the longest of all MLB teams since a no-hitter was last pitched against them

Retirement Calls The Moose

What do Henry Schmidt, Sandy Koufax and Mike Mussina have in common?

This unlikely triumvirate comprises the only three pitchers in baseball history to retire following 20-win seasons. Discount  Black Sox Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte, who were kicked out of baseball in 1920 following 20 wins.

Schmidt pitched for the Brooklyn Superbas (later the Dodgers), and was 22-13 in 1903, his only season in the major leagues. Brooklyn wanted him back for 1904, but Schmidt declined, sending back his unsigned contract with a note that said, “I do not like living in the East and will not report.”

Schmidt pitched for several years in the Pacific Coast League, then returned to his native Texas to make a living selling fabrics and picking up the nickname “Flannel.”

Every baseball fans knows the Koufax story, a bonus baby who came up with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, and three Cy Young Awards and an MVP later retired with an arthritic left elbow following a 27-9 season in 1966. Koufax’s last pitch came at age 30 in the 1966 World Series, as Los Angeles was swept by the Baltimore Orioles.

At Koufax’s retirement press conference, a reporter simply asked, “Why, Sandy?” He answered:

“I don’t know if cortisone is good for you or not,” said Koufax, shown right.  “But to take a shot every other ballgame is more than I wanted to do and to walk around with a constant upset stomach because of the pills and to be high half the time during a ballgame because you’re taking painkillers, I don’t want to have to do that.”

Moose Makes His Mark

And then there’s Mussina. Just two losing seasons in 18 years, a 270-153 lifetime record, a .638 winning percentage, more than 100 wins with both the Yankees and Orioles. And finally a 20-game winner for the first time in 2008 on the last day of his career.

“I think it’d be pretty cool [to retire after 20 wins],” Mussina said back in September. “I don’t know what everyone else thinks, but I think it’d be pretty cool.”

So the Moose rides off into the sunset, a borderline Hall of Famer. Mussina never won a World Series, never won a Cy Young Award, never pitched a no-hitter (although he came within one strike of a perfect game against the Red Sox in 2001.) Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Moose finished more than 100 games over .500 in his career, and every pitcher who has ever done that is in the Hall of Fame.

And he went out on a high note, unlike so many others who were forced into retirement. Ironically, that may help his Hall of Fame quest in the long run. Only time will tell.

See The Moose, The Hall And The 100 Plus Club