Dr. Bobby Brown ranks as all-time batting leader with .439 lifetime postseason average

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The all-time playoff batting leader is a 92-year-old retired cardiologist and former president of the American League and the Texas Rangers who played his last game more than 62 years ago. Robert William Brown, aka Bobby and the Doctor, spent his short career with the Yankees, played for five World Series champions and batted .439 in the World Series, the all-time best amongst players who have at least 40 postseason plate appearances.

Brown spent eight seasons with the Yankees before retiring in 1954 at the age of 29. The left-hand hitting Brown played both shortstop and third base for New York and would up a solid .279 career hitter. But it was in the postseason that Bobby Brown shined.

In 1947, Brown hit .300 in 69 games, and played a key role when the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a seven-game World Series. Brown, just 22 at the time, pinch-hit four times and he came through with two doubles, a single and a walk. His double in the fourth inning of Game Seven tied the score and sent the eventual winning run to third base.

In the 1949 World Series, Brown batted .500 with six hits in twelve at-bats, including a double and two triples, and he drove in five runs. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in five games.

Then in 1950, when the Yankees swept the Phillies in the Series, the Doctor went 4-for-12, with a double and a triple.

The next season brought a fourth trip to the World Series for Brown. In five games, he had five hits in 14 at-bats for a .357 average. The Yankees defeated the New York Giants in six games. By age 26, Bobby Brown had four World Series rings.

Brown won a fifth ring with the 1952 Yankees, but before the season ended he was off to Tulane medical school.

Second on the all-time post-season batting list is Colby Rasmus, who played with Houston in 2015 and before that St. Louis in 2009. Although Rasmus never played in a World Series, he compiled a .423 playoff mark.

Pepper Martin of the Gashouse Gang Cardinals, aka the Wild Horse of the Osage, hit .500 in the 1931 World Series and .355 in 1934 to lead St. Louis to a pair of seven-game victories.

Hall of Famers Lou Brock (.391) and Ryan Sandberg (.385) rank eighth and ninth respectively on the top 10 list.

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Indians-Cubs would be dream Series matchup: Somebody’s got to win and get off the schneid

The Chicago Cubs aren’t the only MLB team with a long World Series drought. The Cleveland Indians, who captured the American League pennant, haven’t won a World Series since 1948.

Although the Tribe’s streak pales in comparison to the Cubbies, who haven’t won since 1908, it’s still the second longest championship drought in baseball history.

Baseball fans across America are praying for a Cleveland-Chicago World Series, since once of those two franchises will finally get off the schneid.

When the Indians last won in 1948, Harry S. Truman was POTUS, Gentleman’s Agreement starring Gregory Peck won the Oscar for Best Picture, and pacifist leader Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

That year Cleveland defeated the Red Sox in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park to determine to AL pennant winner. The Indians then went on to beat the Boston Braves in six games in the first World Series to be televised nationwide. Outfielder Larry Doby hit .318 to pace the Tribe, while Bob Lemon won both of his starts, including the Game 6 clincher.

The Indians won AL pennants in 1954, 1995 and 1997, but lost the World Series both times.

You have to go back 108 years to find the last time the Cubs won a World Series. In 1908, when Chicago beat the Detroit Tigers in five games for its second straight title. The Peerless Leader, Frank Chance, managed the Cubs that season and also led all batters with a .421 average. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and Orval Overall each won a pair of games.

The Cubs last visit to the World Series came in 1945, 71 years ago, when they lost to the Tigers in seven games. Chicago also advanced to the Fall Classic in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, and 1938, only to lose each time.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, currently battling the Cubs in the NLCS, also have a long championship drought. LA last appeared in the World Series in 1988, when they beat the Oakland A’s in five games.

In their first three decades in Los Angeles, the transplanted Brooklynites went to the World Series nine times, winning five. But it’s been 28 years since the Dodgers’ last title.

SportsLifer Flashback: The 1908 Cubs


Red Sox — Cardinals: Been there, done that

The Red Sox and Cardinals will be meeting for the fourth time in the World Series, all since 1946. Only Yankees-Dodgers (11), Yankees-Giants (7) and Yankees-Cardinals (5) have been more common World Series opponents. Yankees-Braves, A’s-Giants and Tigers-Cubs have also had four World Series matchups.

The Cardinals went the seven-game limit to beat the Red Sox in 1946 and 1967. And in 2004, Boston ended a legendary 86-year title drought in emphatic fashion, sweeping St. Louis in four straight.

Here are highlights from each of those previous World Series matchups:

1946 World Series
While the Red Sox easily copped the American League pennant, St. Louis and the Brooklyn Dodgers wound up tied for first place in the National League. The Cards then swept the Dodgers in a best-of-three playoff to advance to the World Series for the fourth time in five years.

The Red Sox, in the post-season for the first time in 28 years, won the opener in St. Louis on a 10th inning home run by Rudy York. The teams alternated wins over the next four games, and the Series headed west to St. Louis with Boston up 3-2, needing just one win for the championship.

They didn’t get it. Southpaw Harry “The Cat” Breechen stopped the Red Sox 4-1 in Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all finale.

Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning of Game 7, Boston’s Dom DiMaggio doubled in a pair of runs to tie the score, but injured his leg and had to leave the game. He was replaced by Leon Culberson in center field.

St. Louis outfielder Enos Slaughter, above, led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and then scored all the way from first with two outs in what was generously ruled a double by Harry “The Hat” Walker. Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky was slow getting the relay home, and his delay helped give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. The loss of DiMaggio in center (an excellent fielder as befits his name) also contributed to the play.

The first two Boston batters singled in the night but Breechen, pitching in relief on just one day’s rest,  was able to get the next three outs to earn his third win of the World Series. Breechen pitched two complete games and allowed the Red Sox just one run.

It was the only post-season matchup for two all-time greats, Stan Musial of the Cardinals and Boston’s Ted Williams. Musial hit just .222 in the Series, while Williams was held to a .200 batting average.

1967 World Series
It was the year of the “Impossible Dream” in New England. The Red Sox, who finished ninth the previous year, held off the Tigers, Twins and White Sox in a taut, four-team AL pennant race that wasn’t decided until the final day of the season.

Cardinals right-hander Bob Gibson, right, was at this dominant best in this Series with three complete game victories and a World Series MVP. Gibson won Game 1, 2-1, with 10 strikeouts and followed that up with a 6-0 shutout in Game 4 that gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead.

The Red Sox rallied to win Games 5 and 6 and force a dream seventh game showdown between Gibson and Boston’s ace Jim Lonborg. And once again Gibson prevailed, hurling a three-hitter, striking out 10, and even hitting a home run in a 7-2 Cardinals win.

Lonborg, pitching on just two days rest, simply ran out of gas. He had pitched a complete game win against Minnesota on the last day of the regular season to lead Boston to the AL pennant. Then in the World Series he won Game 2, 5-0,  with a one-hitter — retiring the first 22 batters he faced —  and Game 5, 3-1, with a three-hitter.

Lou Brock led the Cardinals attack with seven stolen bases and a .414 batting average, while Roger Maris hit .385 with a Series-leading seven RBIs. Carl Yastrzemski, who won the AL Triple Crown, hit .400 with three home runs for Boston.

2004 World Series
The Red Sox broke the 86-year-old Curse of the Bambino, sweeping the Cardinals to win their first World Series since 1918. Boston won the AL pennant by rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat their nemesis, the New York Yankees, in the ALCS.

The Cardinals, who won a major league high 105 games in the regular season, stopped the Houston Astros in seven games in the NLCS.

Boston was making its first World Series appearance since 1986; St. Louis since 1987.

After winning an 11-9 slugfest in the opener Red Sox pitchers allowed only three runs in the final three games — starts by Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe in the clincher.

Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez batted .412 with a home run and four RBIs to win World Series MVP honors. Larry Walker hit .357 and hit the only two home runs the Cardinals managed.

1946 World Series

1967 World Series

2004 World Series


If Kentucky wins, the Yankees will march

If Kentucky wins the NCAAs, you can count on a Yankee parade down Broadway this fall.

The last six times Kentucky has won the NCAA men’s basketball title, the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series.

The Wildcats have won seven titles overall, second only to UCLA’s 11 and by far the most of any team in this year’s Final Four. Kansas has taken three, Louisville two and Ohio State one.

Kentucky won its first championship in 1948, the year the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves to win their last World Series.

Kentucky repeated in 1949, beating Oklahoma State in the final, under the tutelage of  immortal coach Adolph Rupp, the “Baron of the Bluegrass.”

Rupp, fourth all-time with 876 victories, would go on to win in 1951 (against Kansas State) and 1958 (against Seattle) for a total of four championships.

Meanwhile the Yankees were winning five World Series in a row between 1949 and 1953 under another legendary leader, Casey Stengel. In 1958, the Yankees rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves.

It took Kentucky 20 years to return to the mountaintop, when coach Joe B. Hall’s Wildcats defeated Duke for the 1978 national championship. That fall, the Yankees rallied to knock off the Red Sox on Bucky Dent’s home run, then repeated against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rick Pitino, now the head coach at Louisville (which meets Kentucky in a Final Four intra-state rivalry on Saturday), coached the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1996. Two years later, coach Tubby Smith guided Kentucky to its last championship, against Utah.

Meanwhile, Joe Torre piloted the Yankees to World Series wins in 1996 (vs. the Braves) and 1998 (vs. the Padres).

Of the other Final Four finalists, Kansas won its first championship in 1952, followed by a Yankee win over the Dodgers. Ohio State’s only title occurred in 1960, the year the Yankees lost the Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates. And although the Yankees didn’t win the World Series following Louisville’s 1986 title run, the Mets did.

Kentucky is heavily favored to cut down the nets Monday night. And if they do, the Yankees can start planning a parade down Broadway


Top 10: World Series Game 6

Cardinals mob David Freese after his 11th inning home run against the Rangers forced a Game 7.

Was it the greatest game ever? The best World Series game? The top post-season game in history.

Time will be the judge, but the Cardinals never-say-die 10-9 win that denied the Rangers their first World Championship joins a long list of great World Series Game 6 contests.

St. Louis became the first team in post-season history to overcome two-run deficits in the ninth and 10th inning to win. David Freese, who won the game with a home run in the 11th after his two-out, two-strike, two-run triple tied the game in the ninth, became the first player in post-season history to hit a pair of tying or winning hits in the ninth inning or later.

Meanwhile, twice Texas was within a strike of a championship, and lost. The Rangers appeared to have victory in their grasp when Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer in the top of the 10th, and lost.

And the headlines quickly changed from “My Gosh, Josh” to “Deep Freese.”

Some are already calling it the best World Series game in history. And it may well be.

But there have been plenty of great World Series Game 6 contests. Before the Cardinals’ heroics, this would be the SportsLifer Top 10:

1975 — Red Sox 7, Reds 6, 12 innings, Fenway Park, Boston
Following three days of rain in New England, the World Series resumed with Cincinnati holding a 3-2 lead  in games. The Reds took a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning before Boston pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo hit a two-out, three-run homer to tie the score. Dwight Evans saved the day for the Red Sox with a great catch on Joe Morgan’s bid for a game-winning hit in the 11th. Then Boston’s Carlton Fisk, right,  wishing the ball fair, homered off the left-field foul pole leading off the 12th to send Boston into delirium.

1993 — Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6, Skydome, Toronto
Phillies closer Mitch Williams was brought in to protect a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but walked leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson and surrendered a one-out single to Paul Molitor. On a 2-2 count, Toronto’s Joe Carter sent a home run over the left field fence to give the Blue Jays the 8-6 win and their second consecutive World Championship. Carter joined Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski as the only players to end World Series with walk-off home runs.

1986 — Mets 6, Red Sox 5, 11 innings, Shea Stadium, New York
The Red Sox were one out (and later one strike) away from winning their first World Series since 1918 before the Mets rallied. Singles by Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight produced a run, then Bob Stanley unleashed a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Mookie Wilson then tapped a little dribbler down the first base line that went through the legs of Bill Buckner as Knight raced home with the winning run.

1991 — Twins 4, Braves 3, 11 innings, the Metrodome, Minneapolis
The Twins and Braves entered the bottom of the 11th inning tied at 3-3. Minnesota center-fielder Kirby Puckett, left, who earlier in the game made a great catch to rob Atlanta’s Ron Gant, crushed a 2-1 liner over the  left-center field wall to send the Series to a seventh game. The image of Puckett rounding the bases, arms raised in triumph, was punctuated by CBS broadcaster Jack Buck saying “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” The Twins then won Game 7, 1-0, in 10 innings behind Jack Morris.

1953 Yankees 4, Dodgers 3,  Yankee Stadium, New York
Yankee second baseman Billy Martin, who had 12 hits and 8 RBIs while batting .500 in the series, knocked in Hank Bauer from second base with the game-winning run in the ninth inning to give the Bombers a record fifth straight World Championship. Brooklyn had rallied to tie the score in the top of the ninth on a two-run home run by Carl Furillo

2002 — Angels 6, Giants 5, Edison Field, Anaheim
Trailing 5-0 in the seventh inning, the Angels drew closer on Scott Spiezio’s three-run homer. Darin Erstad homered to lead off the eighth, then Troy Glaus belted a two-run double to give the Angels the win. Anaheim would go on to win Game 7, 4-1, for their only World Championship, denying the Giants their first title since moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958

1935 Tigers 4, Cubs 3, Navin Field, Detroit
With the score tied 3-3, the Cubs stranded Stan Hack on third base with nobody out in the top of the ninth. Detroit catcher Mickey Cochrane led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and scored the winning run two outs later on Goose Goslin’s base hit to right field. Detroit won its first World Series, while the Cubs continued their championship drought, which has now reached 104 years.

1977 — Yankees 8, Dodgers 4, Yankee Stadium, New York
The legend of Mr. October was born on a cool night in the Bronx. New York’s Reggie Jackson, below, joined Babe Ruth as the only players to hit three home runs in a World Series game in leading the Yankees to their first title in 15 years. Jackson hit a record five home runs, including four in his final four at bats, to earn World Series MVP honors.

1985 — Royals 2, Cardinals 1,  Royals Stadium, Kansas City
Down 1-0 and three outs from elimination, the Royals get a break when umpire Don Denkinger called  Jorge Orta safe on a disputed play at first base. After a single by Steve Balboni and a sacrifice, pinch-hitter Dan Iorg knocked in the tying and winning runs to force a Game 7. The Royals win 11-0 to win the Show Me State World Series and their only World Championship.

1958 — Yankees 4, Braves 3, 10 innings, County Stadium, Milwaukee
The Yankees, who trailed the Series 3-1 at one point, won Game 5 to send the festivities back to Milwaukee. A home run by Gil McDougald and run scoring single by Bill Skowron gave the Yankees a two-run lead in the top of the 10th, but Hank Aaron pulled the Braves within a run with an RBI single. With the potential tying and winning runs on base, Frank Torre lined out to McDougald at second base.

Honorable Mention
1992 – Blue Jays 4, Braves 3, 11 innings, Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta
Dave Winfield’s two-run doubles gives Toronto its first World Championship.

1971 — Orioles 3, Pirates 2, 10 innings, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore
Brooks Robinson’s sacrifice fly plates Frank Robinson with the winning run.

1956 — Dodgers 1, Yankees 0, 10 innings, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn
The Dodgers Clem Labine and Yankees Bob Turley traded zeroes into extra innings before Jackie Robinson’s single over the head of New York left-fielder Enos Slaughter drove in Jim Gilliam.

1945 — Cubs 8, Tigers 7, 12 innings, Wrigley Field, Chicago
Stan Hack’s double drives home the winning run in the last World Series game the Cubs have won.


Albert Joins Babe, Reggie in Select Club

Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson are the only players in baseball history to hit three home runs in a World Series game.

No matter what he does the rest of this World Series and for the remainder of his career, Albert Pujols carved out his own special niche in baseball history with three home runs in the third game of the 2011 World Series.

The 31-year-old Pujols is a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Famer once he retires, but unless he’s Babe Ruth (more on that in a moment) this World Series tour de force will be his signature moment.

More than a generation ago, on October 18, 1977, Reggie Jackson became Mr. October when homered three times on a cool night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Jackson, like Pujols, homered off three different pitchers as he led the Yankees to their first World Championship in 15 years with an 8-4 win over the Dodgers.

That year, Jax set a record with five home runs in a single World Series, including four in his final four swings. Mr. October was named 1977 World Series MVP.

Fittingly, Babe Ruth is the only other player to hit three home runs in a World Series game. Ruth accomplished the feat twice, both times against the Cardinals.

Babe Does It Twice
But unlike Pujols or Jackson, Ruth had dozens of signature moments. His record-breaking 60th home run in 1927, his called shot in the 1932 World Series, and his three home run game with the Boston Braves in 1935 days before he retired are three that come to mind.

In Game Four of the 1926 World Series, Ruth hit three home runs at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis to lead the Yankees to a 10-5 victory. The Yanks won the next day and returned to New York with a 3-2 lead, but Hall of Fame right-hander Grover Cleveland “Old Pete” Alexander beat the Yankees 10-2 with a complete Game 6 effort.

In the decisive seventh game, Alexander came on in relief in the seventh inning to fan Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded. He walked Ruth, who had homered earlier in the game, with two outs in the ninth to put the tying run on base. But the Babe inexplicably tried to steal second base and was thrown out to end the Series with Bob Meusel on deck and Lou Gehrig in the hole.

Two years later, Ruth again hit three home runs in a World Series game against the Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park. The Yankees won the game 7-3 to sweep the Series. Ruth hit .625 in the 1928 World Series with those three homers and four RBIs and batted .625.


Brewers-Rangers Would Make Rare History

 

As the late Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen might say: How about that?

A Brewers-Rangers matchup in the World Series would make rare history. Call it a fluke, a statistical oddity, a freak of nature, whatever you want. Call it strange, maybe even unbelievable. But since 1920, only once have two teams squared off in the Fall Classic, each one seeking a first World Championship.

The Brewers began as the Seattle Pilots in 1969, then moved to Milwaukee the following season and became the Brewers. The Brewers, aka Harvey’s Wallbangers, won the American League pennant in 1982 but lost a seven-game series to the Cardinals. They moved to the National League in 1998, but haven’t been back to the Series since 1982.

The Rangers began as the second rendition of the Washington Senators in 1961 (the original Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins). They moved to Texas in 1972, and made their first World Series appearance last year, losing in five games to the Giants.

Phillies-Royals, 1980
The last matchup between teams seeking their first championship occurred 31 years ago, when the Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals in six games for the first title in the 97 year history of the franchise. The Phillies were led by Series MVP Mike Schmidt, who homered twice and batted .381, and left-hander Steve Carlton who won a pair of games, including the clincher.

Up to that point, the Phillies had played in two World Series — losing to the Red Sox in 1915 and being swept by the Yankees in 1950.

The Royals were playing in their first World Series after knocking off the Yankees in three straight, highlighted by George Brett’s game-winning, three-run homer against Goose Gossage in the clincher.

In 1920, the Cleveland Indians won their first World Series, beating the Brooklyn Dodgers, five games to two. Brooklyn had played in one previous Series, losing to the Red Sox in 1916.

The highlights of the 1920 World Series came in the fourth game, which the Indians won, 8-1. But that wasn’t the story. In that game, Cleveland’s second baseman, Bill Wambsganss pulled off the only unassisted triple play in post-season history. That same day, the Indians Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam ever in the World Series.

The third instance of two teams seeking their first World Championship occurred way back in 1909, when the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in seven games. The storyline that year was the matchup between Pittsburgh’s shortstop Hone Wagner and Detroit outfielder Ty Cobb. Wagner won that duel, batting .333 with six stolen bases, while Cobb managed to his just .231 with two steals.

In every other World Series played in the past 102 years, at least one of the combatants was a previous World Champion.