By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while overindulging in post-season baseball. . .and why not mix in some NFL and some NCAA football?
—HOME RUN HISTORY: When it comes to home runs, I’ve witnessed more than my share of belligerent blasts.
***I sat mesmerized in the Riverfront Stadium press box when Henry Aaron crushed his 714th home run off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham on Opening Day, 1974, to tie Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list
***I sat stunned in the Fenway Park press box when Boston’s Carlton Fisk clanked a home run off the left field foul pole in the 12th inning to beat the Reds in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
***I felt goose bumps in the Riverfront Stadium press box when Johnny Bench hit a home run on ‘Johnny Bench Night,’ the last of his 389 career home runs.
***I began typing furiously in the Toronto SkyDome press box when Joe Carter hit his walk-off three-run home off the original Wild Thing, Philadelphia’s Mitch Willliams, in Game 6 to win the 1993 World Series.
***I was fortunate to sit in the press box when Philadelphia’s Rick Wise pitched a no-hitter against the Reds and hit two home runs in 1971. I was not the beat writer then, but was at the game because beat writer Jim Ferguson took the day off and I was his pinch-hitter.
***I laughed when I heard what Reds relief pitcher Rob Dibble said in the bullpen during a game in 1993 against the St. Louis Cardinals during which Mark Whiten hit four home runs. After the third, Dibble said in the bullpen, “He won’t hit one off me.” Whiten’s fourth homer was off Dibble.
***I was incredulous as I wrote in the Great American Ball Park press box as pint-sized might-mite Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett hit four home runs in a 2017 games against the Cardinals.
***I smiled within myself when Pete Rose hit a home run in the 1973 playoffs against the Mets after his fight with Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson at second base and never have I heard so many boos after a home run as I did that day in Shea Stadium.
***We all laughed outl oud when we discovered why Champ Summers lay prone at home plate after an inside the park home run in Riverfront Stadium. Was he exhausted? No, he swallowed his chewing tobacco.
***But never had I seen anything like what the Arizona Diamondbacks did against the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night. Nobody had. It had never happened in the entire history of post-season play.
The D-Backs hit four home runs in one inning off Lance Lynn. Geraldo Perdomo homered, Ketel Marte homered. Christian Walker homered.
Then came the incredible part. Gabriel Moreno appeared to hit a home run inside the right field foul pole. It was called a home run, but after an umpire review, it was ruled foul. So much for history.
But on the next pitch, Moreno drove a no-doubter — distance or direction — deep into the left field seats for the inning’s fourth homer.
—MORE PLAYOFF TIDBITS: Before the start of Game 3 in the ALDS between Minnesota and Houston, it was mentioned on the pre-game show that Twins pitcher Sonny Gray threw 459 sweeper curves during the season and not one was hit for a home run.
So in the first inning Houston’s Jose Abreu bashed Gray’s sweeper curve into the great beyond, a three-run home run during a four-run first inning that expanded to a 9-1 Astros victory.
***Super stars rise to the occasion. Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper committed a gaffe in Game 2 by getting doubled off first base to end the game, an Atlanta victory. Atlanta’s Orlando Arcia said some disparaging things about Harper after the game that leaked out of the clubhouse. In Game 3, Harper ignited two home runs and gave Arcia a staredown both times as he circled the bases.
***Houston closer Ryan Pressly likes to make it exciting and give manager Dusty Baker the chills. In the ninth inning, with a one-run lead over Minnesota, Pressly went to 3-and-2 on three straight hitters and struck out all three to send the Twins off to their winter vacations.
***In Game 3 of the other ALDS game, Texas’ Nathaniel Lowe lined out to left field to open the home second. And it was the most significant at bat of the game.
The at bat lasted 15 pitches and obioiusly wore out Baltimore pitcher Dean Kremer. On the next pitch, Michael Young singled. Then Marcus Semien doubled. Corey Seager was walked intentionally. . .an unfortunate decision.
Mitch Garver singled for two runs and Adolis Garcia crushed a three-run home run for a 6-0 lead. Kremer was done and so were the Orioles. They lost, 7-1, and were swept out of the playoffs. They had gone 91 straight series without getting swept.
The Orioles played the entire series as if they were wearing galoshes over their spikes.
***What contributed to the Orioles demise? Two of their hitters went AWOL. Cedric Mullins finished the season 2 for 45 and Ryan O’Hearn finished 1 for 28. And that helped finish the O’s.
***In Game 2 of an NLDS game, Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried faced 22 batters in his four innings and went 2-and-0 on nine of them. His fastball was missing the first syllable.
To save time, they should have started every Philadelphia Phillies batter with a 2-and-0 count. The Mighty Braves, though, barged back from a 4-0 deficit and won, 5-4.
—READING MATERIAL: After reading Joe Posnanski’s latest baseball book, ‘Why We Love Baseball,’ I’m now into another classic baseball read by Tyler Kepner, “Grandest Stage,” a history of the World Series. It is stuffed with tidbits most fans didn’t know or didn’t remember.
***In 1920, Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsganss completed the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. His name was so long it was always abbreviated in newspaper box scores in different ways, like W’ganss or Wbmb’ss or W’bag’ss.
When he retired, he became manager of the Fort Wayne Daisies in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The AAGPBA was immortalized in the movie ‘A League of Their Own,’ where the phrase, “There is no crying in baseball” was born.
***Joe McCarthy, Miller Huggins, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre all won multiple World Series as managers of the New York Yankees.
And all four have something in common. All four managed other major league teams before managing the Yankees and none of the four had won a World Series.
***Tony La Russa managed the Oakland A’s in 1990 when the Cincinnati Reds swept them. And to this day he blames himself for underestimataing the Reds, for not warning his cocky team to take the Reds seriously.
“We go out there and lose four in a f-ing row,” said La Russa 30 years later. “And I’m still haunted because I smelled it and I wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to hit the button — for years and years and years.”
—TOUTING MAYSVILLE: Ray Snedegar, my great and loyal friend, is a native of Maysville, KY., and loves to forward me tidbits concerning baseball and his hometown. . .like Casey Stengel once played there.
His latest: “Barry McCormick, born on Third Street, is the last major player to have eight official at bat in a nine-inning game.”
He did it in 1897 for the Chicago Colts. He also played for the Louisville Colonels, St. Louis Browns and the Washington Senators. And after his nine-year playing career, he became a major league umpire.
He was behind the plate in 1920 for a 26-inning game between the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Robins, As dusk settled in, McCormick called the game with the score 1-1.
And get this. One pitcher worked the entire 26 innings for each team. Brooklyn’s Leon Cadore gave up one run, 15 hits and five walks. Boston’s Joe Oeschger gave up one run, nine hits and four walks.
I believe Snedegar finds this stuff in his attic.