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10 Crazy, Memorable, Late-Season Moments in Baseball

September 24, 2015

[caption id="attachment_1060" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Cubs Black Cat Superstitious much? The Cubs remain convinced that the black cat that haunted Ron Santo on Sep. 9, 1969 was a harbinger of doom.[/caption] By Bob D'Angelo, Smack Zone Contributor You probably already know about Bucky Dent’s three-run homer in 1978 and the implosion that cost the Phillies the National League pennant in 1964. But the beautiful thing about major-league baseball history is that there are plenty of exciting, tantalizing, funny, odd and just plain weird events to choose from. As another regular season winds down, here are 10 strange or interesting things that gave an irregular shape to the remnants of the regular season during September or October. The items on this list hardly scratch the surface, but we think they’re pretty interesting:
  1. Black cat — Baseball players and managers can be superstitious, so having a black cat stroll toward your dugout can be unnerving.
Ask the 1969 Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were teetering atop the National League East, but still clung to a 1½-game lead over the upstart New York Mets when the teams clashed at Shea Stadium on September 9. [caption id="attachment_1061" align="alignleft" width="240"]Smack Apparel The Cubs' curse is now manager Joe Maddon's problem.[/caption] As Ron Santo waited in the on-deck circle late in the game, a black cat ran onto the field, circled the Cubs’ third baseman several times, and then quickly scampered under the stands. The Cubs, who would go 8-17 in September, lost that game 7-1, and lost 6-2 the next day at Philadelphia, yielding first place to a Mets team that never let go of its lead en route to a stunning playoff run and World Series title.
  1. Dick McAuliffe — The Tigers’ infielder with the unorthodox, front-foot pointing at the pitcher’s batting stance only hit into two double plays in 1967 — but the second one was a killer. On October 1, Detroit needed a victory to tie the Boston Red Sox for the American League pennant but trailed the Angels 8-5 in the bottom of the ninth. Detroit had runners on first and second with one out, but McAuliffe grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to eliminate the Tigers. McAuliffe would not ground into a double play in 1968, and the Tigers won the AL pennant.
  2. Charley O’Leary — On September 30, 1934, at Detroit, the St. Louis Browns sent 58-year-old O’Leary up to pinch hit against the Tigers. He singled and later scored a run, becoming the oldest major-leaguer to get a hit and score a run. He was used as a pinch hitter and singled, then scored a run in the Browns’ 6-2 loss to the Tigers. It was O’Leary’s first appearance in a major-league lineup since October 5, 1913, when he played shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals,
  3. Alou, Alou, Alou — On September 10, 1963, at the Polo Grounds, the San Francisco Giants set up a trio of Alou brothers in order against the New York Mets. In the top of the eighth inning, Jesus Alou made his major-league debut, pinch hitting for Jose Pagan. He grounded out against Mets starter Carl Willey. Giants manager Al Dark then sent up Matty Alou to hit for pitcher Bob Garibaldi. Matty, who only struck out 13 times in 1963, whiffed against Garibaldi.
[caption id="attachment_1062" align="alignright" width="257"]Royals Baseball The Royals are on a mission that would make George Brett proud.[/caption] That brought up eldest brother Felipe Alou, the Giants’ leadoff hitter who was playing right field. Felipe hit back to the mound and was retired by Willey to end the inning. The Mets won, 4-2.
  1. Gary Sheffield — The Tampa, Florida, native hit the 250,000th homer in major-league history, connecting for a grand slam off Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez during the second inning on September 8, 2008. It also was the 496th of Sheffield’s career.
Sheffield had hit the 249,999th homer an inning earlier, a solo shot off Gonzalez. Sheffield’s Detroit Tigers would win, 14-8.
  1. Crazy Eights — Twenty-nine major-leaguers have collected 3,000 or more hits in their career. Eight of them hit the milestone in September: Nap Lajoie (1914), Roberto Clemente (1972), Al Kaline (1974), Carl Yastrzemski (1979), Robin Yount (1992), George Brett (1992), Dave Winfield (1993) and Paul Molitor (1996).
[caption id="attachment_1063" align="alignleft" width="300"]Pirates Can the Pirates recapture their 1979 We Are Family glory days?[/caption] Winfield and Molitor got No. 3,000 on September 16, while Clemente and Brett achieved it on September 30. Kaline did it 41 years ago today (September 24). While Clemente and Lajoie doubled for their milestone hit, Molitor is the only player — September or otherwise — to smack a triple for hit No. 3,000. If you’re wondering, only one player has reached the milestone in October—Rickey Henderson, who doubled on October 7, 2001.
  1. Addie Joss — With the 1908 American League race hanging in the balance, Joss pitched the second perfect game in league history on October 2 in Cleveland, outdueling Chicago’s Ed Walsh 1-0. The victory foiled Walsh’s bid for his 40th victory of the season. The Naps (later renamed Indians), scored the game’s lone run in the third inning to stay a half-game behind Detroit in the white-hot pennant race. The game at League Park took 92 minutes to play. Detroit would win the pennant by a half game, even though the Tigers played three fewer games than the Naps.
  2. Double dose — The 1968 season was truly the year of the pitcher. On September 17, Giants pitcher Gaylord Perry tossed a no-hitter against the Cardinals at Candlestick Park, outdueling Bob Gibson 1-0. Gibson allowed only four hits, but a first-inning homer by Ron Hunt was the difference in the game.
The Cardinals returned the favor the next afternoon, as Ray Washburn no-hit the Giants 2-0. This marked the first time in major-league history that a no-hitter had been achieved in successive games involving common opponents. It was the Cardinals’ first no-hitter since Lon Warneke threw one in 1941.
  1. Shattered — Cubs rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin’s chest was punctured when he is hit by a sliver of Welington Castillo’s maple bat on September 19, 2010, during Chicago’s 13-3 victory against the Marlins. Colvin was leading off third when Castillo smacked a drive down the left-field line for a double. In the process, his bat shattered and hit Colvin in his right upper chest. Colvin was taken to the hospital but was later released. [caption id="attachment_1064" align="alignright" width="232"]Cubs Of course, wishing for the curse to end doesn't make it happen. And that black cat, man. Don't forget the black cat![/caption]
  2. Ball on the wall — In the top of the 13th inning at Shea Stadium on September 20, 1973, Dave Augustine’s long drive to left bounces off the top of the fence — and directly into the hands of Cleon Jones. The Mets’ left fielder fires to relay man Wayne Garrett, who throws a strike to catcher Ron Hodges to nail the Pirates’ Richie Zisk with what would have been the go-ahead run. Instead, the game remains tied until Hodges ends it with an RBI single in the bottom of the 13th, giving New York a 4-3 win.
It was the second — and last — hit of the season for Augustine, who had just seven at-bats in 1973.


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