Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday . . .

It seems I wasn’t the only person to make the connection between the 2011 Stanley Cup final and the 1960 World Series.
Moments after writing the brief piece that appeared here last week, I heard from a fan of the Portland Winterhawks who had pretty much the same thoughts.
And then, a couple of days later, I heard from another reader of this blog:
“I had one of those coincidences where I let out a ‘wow’ and did a double take on Saturday.
“I had just gotten off the phone with my dad (White Plains, N.Y., native, ardent Yankees fan since birth). He was comparing this year’s Stanley Cup final to the 1960 World Series, and relived the Mazeroski home run to me through the eyes of (then) a seven-year-old (he cried).
“Not even two minutes after getting off the phone with him, I logged on to Taking Note and read your depiction of one of the greatest World Series ever played.
“I remember the excitement of sitting in front of my TV as a 12-year-old in 1993 during Joe Carter’s series-ending home run, but that doesn’t come close to equaling the scope of Mazeroski’s home run.
“Imagine how much fun Twitter would be if the Yankees and an anonymous NL team battled into the bottom of the ninth in a tied World Series Game 7!”
Of course, the Boston Bruins whipped the visiting Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Monday night, forcing Game 7 on Wednesday in Vancouver.
Through six games, the Bruins hold a 19-8 edge in goals scored. The Canucks went into Monday leading the series 3-2 despite having scored only six goals.
In 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the New York Yankees in seven games, winning the deciding game 10-9 on Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run, the first such blow in World Series history. It also was the only one before Joe Carter did it for the Toronto Blue Jays — albeit in Game 6 — in their victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993.
In that 1960 World Series, the Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 but somehow managed to lose Game 7.
Here, from Wikipedia, is a look at Game 7. It was played Oct. 13 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
Team                1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     R     H     E
New York         0     0     0     0     1     4     0     2     2     9     13     1
Pittsburgh         2     2     0     0     0     0     0     5     1     10   11     0
WP: Harvey Haddix (2–0)   LP: Ralph Terry (0–2)
Home runs:
NYY: Bill Skowron (2), Yogi Berra (1)
PIT: Rocky Nelson (1), Hal Smith (1), Bill Mazeroski (2)
Bob Turley, the winning pitcher in Game 2, got the nod for the Yankees against the Pirates' Vern Law, the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 4.
Turley lasted only one inning. After the first two Pirates made out, Turley walked Bob Skinner, then Rocky Nelson homered to give the Pirates a 2–0 lead. Turley was then pulled after giving up a single to Smoky Burgess leading off the second. Don Hoak then drew a base on balls against new pitcher Bill Stafford, and Bill Mazeroski's bunt single loaded the bases. Stafford appeared to get the Yankees out of trouble after inducing Law to hit into a double play, pitcher to catcher to first. But Bill Virdon's single to right scored both Hoak and Mazeroski and increased the Pirates' lead to 4–0.
The Yankees got on the scoreboard in the fifth on Bill Skowron's leadoff home run, his second homer of the Series. In the sixth, Bobby Richardson led off with a single and Tony Kubek drew a base on balls. Elroy Face relieved Law and got Roger Maris to pop out to Hoak in foul territory, but Mickey Mantle singled to score Richardson. Yogi Berra followed with a home run that gave the Yankees their first lead, 5–4.
The Yankees plated two more runs in the eighth. With two out, Berra walked and Skowron singled. Johnny Blanchard then singled to score Berra, then Clete Boyer doubled to score Skowron.
The Pirates opened the bottom of the eighth inning with singles by Gino Cimoli (pinch-hitting for Face), then Virdon (the latter's was on a ground ball to short for what could have been a double play; instead the ball took a bad hop and struck Kubek in the throat). Dick Groat then chased Bobby Shantz (who had entered the game in the third and had pitched five innings, after not pitching more than four during the regular season) with a single to score Cimoli. Jim Coates replaced Shantz and got Skinner out on a sacrifice bunt, which moved the runners up. Nelson followed with a fly ball to right, and Virdon declined to challenge Maris' throwing arm. Coates then got two quick strikes on Roberto Clemente and was one strike away from getting the Yankees out of their most serious trouble of the afternoon.
Clemente eventually hit a Baltimore Chop towards first with first baseman Skowron and Coates trying to get to the ball at the same time at the cut of the infield grass. Clemente's speed forced Skowron to just hold onto the ball as Coates could not make it to the base on time after trying to get the groundball. The high chopper allowed Virdon to score, cutting the Yankee lead to 7–6. Hal Smith followed with a three-run home run to give the Pirates a 9–7 lead. Ralph Terry relieved Coates and got the last out.
Bob Friend, an eighteen-game-winner for the Pirates and their starter in Games 2 and 6, came on in the ninth to try to protect the lead. The Yankees' Bobby Richardson and pinch-hitter Dale Long both greeted Friend with singles, and Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh was forced to bench the veteran pitcher in favor of Harvey Haddix. Although he got Roger Maris to foul out, Haddix gave up a key single to Mickey Mantle that scored Richardson and moved Long to third. Yogi Berra followed, hitting a short grounder to first, with Rocky Nelson easily making the second out. In what, at the moment, stood as a monumental play, Mantle, seeing he had no chance to beat a play at second, scurried back to first and avoided Nelson's tag (which would have been the third out) as Gil McDougald (pinch-running for Long) raced home to tie the score, 9–9. (Had Mantle been out on the play, the run still would have counted if it had scored before the tag.)
Ralph Terry returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth. The first batter to face him was Mazeroski. With a count of one ball and no strikes, the Pirates' second baseman smashed a historic long drive over the left field wall, ending the contest and crowning the National League as champions. As the Pirates erupted, the Yankees stood across the field in stunned disbelief. The improbable champions were outscored, outhit, and outplayed, but had managed to pull out a victory anyhow. Years later, Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying that losing the 1960 series was the biggest disappointment of his career, the only loss amateur or professional he cried actual tears over. For Bill Mazeroski, it was the highlight.
Mazeroski became the first player to hit a game-winning home run in the seventh game, to win a World Series. Thirty-three years later, Joe Carter would become the only other player to end the World Series with a home run, doing so for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, albeit in Game 6. Although most noted for the series-ending homer, Game 7 is also the only game in all of postseason history with no strikeouts recorded by either side.
Bobby Richardson of the Yankees was named MVP of the Series, the only time that someone from the defeated team has been so honored.
Fans of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks are free to pore over Game 7 of that 1960 World Series in a search for omens of what awaits us on Wednesday. That is when the Bruins and Canucks will meet in Game 7 in Vancouver.
And let’s be honest — there isn’t anything better in all of the sporting world than a Game 7, no matter the sport.
JUST NOTES: The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Jordan Thomson, the fourth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft. Thomson, from Wawanesa, Man., had 16 points with the Southwest Cougars of the Manitoba Midget AAA league last season. He was the only 1996-born player in that league. . . .
THE COACHING GAME: Sean Gillam is the new head coach of the Southern Professional league’s Fayetteville FireAntz. The 35-year-old Gillam (Spokane, 1992-96) is from Lethbridge. He had been an assistant coach with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees for five seasons. Gillam replaces Tommy Stewart, who was let go following his fourth season with Fayetteville. . . . Gulutzan also played for the Killer Bees, who retired his jersey (No.7) in 2008. . . . The Dallas Morning News has reported that the Dallas Stars are negotiating with Glen Gulutzan, who could be named head coach later this week. Gulutzan (Moose Jaw, Brandon, Saskatoon, 1986-92) will turn 40 on Aug. 12. He is a native of The Pas, Man., which is also the hometown of Montreal Canadiens scout Vaughn Karpan. . . . Gulutzan spent the last two seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, going 87-56-17. With Dallas, he will replace Marc Crawford, who was dropped after the season. . . . The AHL’s Abbotsford Heat is looking for a head coach following the resignation of Jim Playfair, who has signed a multi-year deal as an associate coach with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. Playfair (Portland, Calgary, 1981-84) has been in the coaching game since 1993-94. He spent the last two seasons with the Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Playfair had been in the Flames’ organization since 2000-01. . . .
Patrick Kennedy of the Kingston Whig-Standard has today’s good read. It’s a piece on former Vancouver Canucks D Dennis Kearns and it is terrific.
"When I was in Portland,” Kearns told Kennedy, “our coach, Hal Laycoe, wouldn't allow any water on the bench, but you could smoke between periods. I didn't smoke but I can still remember my defence partner Doug Messier, Mark's dad, coming into the dressing room dripping with sweat and reaching for a cigarette."
That piece is right here.

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