1975 World Series re-watch

The Gray Eagle

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I just started re-watching the 1975 World Series (thanks to InstaFace and the others who helped, see the post in P&G if you are a member.)
Anyone else re-watching this? It's pretty great, as anyone who has seen it already knows.

The first thing that struck me is how much faster the game moves. The time between pitches just flies by compared to recent games. This is how baseball should be paced. Compare these games to recent ones, it's so much more enjoyable to watch games played at this pace. It can be done, it was done, and baseball needs a competent leader to get back to this pace of play.

Anyway.

The background: The 1975 Sox were in the same division as the Orioles, who, going into the season, were still considered a dynasty. They had won the division in 5 of the past 6 seasons and were considered likely to do it again. But the Red Sox finished 95-65, 4.5 games ahead of the Orioles.

That earned them the right to play the 3-time defending champs Oakland, another dynasty. And they would have to do it without Jim Rice, their rookie outfielder whose great first season (841 OPS, 128 OPS+) was ended in late September due to injury.

Boston swept the A's in 3 straight games.

Their reward for that was to face the Big Red Machine, one of the greatest teams in baseball history. That is about as tough a road as you can get.

Game 1: Luis Tiant vs. Don Gullet at Fenway.

Tiant is so much fun to watch. If you've never actually seen him pitch, this is the game to watch. He's fun to watch not just as a dazzling pitcher, but also as a flailing hitter and comedic baserunner too. On the mound, he's in complete command of this game, against a fierce lineup.

Other reactions to watching this game:
The Red Sox had the reputation of just being slow sluggers, but they played great defense in this series.

Tiant was called for a balk on a throw to first that wasn't a balk and wouldn't ever even be considered a close call today.

Another difference: check swings were given a huge leeway back then-- if a hitter checks his swing at any point, it's almost never called a strike. Guys virtually complete their swings before checking, and still get it called a ball. It's vastly different from today.

This game was a surprising pitchers' duel, considering the offenses, but the Sox broke through in a big way late.

Game 1 box score:
 

InsideTheParker

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This was the first series I watched on the internet. Somehow it was in there, and I found it. I agree, it's a great, great series. My connection was so-so and the screen was small. I didn't notice your point about the check swings---interesting.
 

Patek's 3 Dingers

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I was in HS at the time and game 6, with the Carbo homer, the catch by Dewey and the Fisk walk-off, was so sweet that I generally have fond memories of the 1975 WS.

In regard to 1986, the only thing good about it was that it made 2004 even more special.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Oh yeah another thing from Game 1, third base coach Don Zimmer got 2 runners thrown out at home, neither play really that close. I don't even care if they were good sends or bad sends, just watching Zimmer get it wrong twice brought back a lot of hate.
Then I realized that a few days later, he would have a much worse moment. :mad:
 
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Mugsy's Jock

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That was an awesome World Series -- every game had moments. Reminded of a story from Game #6, after Carbo's dramatic homer denied the Reds the championship. At one point, Evans reached third where Reds third baseman Pete Rose said "Hey Dewey, can you believe this game? This might be the greatest game I ever played in!"

Pete Rose is kind of a shit, but I love him for that.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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jaytftwofive

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That was an awesome World Series -- every game had moments. Reminded of a story from Game #6, after Carbo's dramatic homer denied the Reds the championship. At one point, Evans reached third where Reds third baseman Pete Rose said "Hey Dewey, can you believe this game? This might be the greatest game I ever played in!"

Pete Rose is kind of a shit, but I love him for that.
I'm not sure but I could sworn he said it to Fisk when he was at the plate. He even told Sparky Anderson....That was the greatest game I ever played in. He said Peter Edward you're crazy. I won't get any sleep tonight. Rose said don't worry Skip we'll win tomorrow. Unfortunately (JIm Burton ooohhhhhh) he was right. Why didn't we keep Willoughby in?
 

Teachdad46

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I just started re-watching the 1975 World Series (thanks to InstaFace and the others who helped, see the post in P&G if you are a member.)
Anyone else re-watching this? It's pretty great, as anyone who has seen it already knows.

The first thing that struck me is how much faster the game moves. The time between pitches just flies by compared to recent games. This is how baseball should be paced. Compare these games to recent ones, it's so much more enjoyable to watch games played at this pace. It can be done, it was done, and baseball needs a competent leader to get back to this pace of play.

Anyway.

The background: The 1975 Sox were in the same division as the Orioles, who, going into the season, were still considered a dynasty. They had won the division in 5 of the past 6 seasons and were considered likely to do it again. But the Red Sox finished 95-65, 4.5 games ahead of the Orioles.

That earned them the right to play the 3-time defending champs Oakland, another dynasty. And they would have to do it without Jim Rice, their rookie outfielder whose great first season (841 OPS, 128 OPS+) was ended in late September due to injury.

Boston swept the A's in 3 straight games.

Their reward for that was to face the Big Red Machine, one of the greatest teams in baseball history. That is about as tough a road as you can get.

Game 1: Luis Tiant vs. Don Gullet at Fenway.

Tiant is so much fun to watch. If you've never actually seen him pitch, this is the game to watch. He's fun to watch not just as a dazzling pitcher, but also as a flailing hitter and comedic baserunner too. On the mound, he's in complete command of this game, against a fierce lineup.

Other reactions to watching this game:
The Red Sox had the reputation of just being slow sluggers, but they played great defense in this series.

Tiant was called for a balk on a throw to first that wasn't a balk and wouldn't ever even be considered a close call today.

Another difference: check swings were given a huge leeway back then-- if a hitter checks his swing at any point, it's almost never called a strike. Guys virtually complete their swings before checking, and still get it called a ball. It's vastly different from today.

This game was a surprising pitchers' duel, considering the offenses, but the Sox broke through in a big way late.

Game 1 box score:
I have listened to this WS several times (on cassette tapes which indicates my vintage) It is ALWAYS striking how quickly the game gets played, and how clean the audio is. No adverts inserted. No plugs. No bullshit. Just the game, the crowd, and some occasional insight. It is a pleasure to dip into those waters now and then.
I've often lamented the lack of choice we have in this regard. IF the Red Sox offered a broadcast bereft of any plugs, ads, etc and offered a simple broadcast of just the play by play with the right color man, I'd pay good money to listen. And they could continue to offer their free package full of bullshit to the masses who don't care or don't want to pay. How much would this cost me? I don't know...but I think I'd be willing to pay it. Especially if it could be offered with video....
 

InstaFace

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Oh yeah another thing from Game 1, third base coach Don Zimmer got 2 runners thrown out at home, neither play really that close. I don't even care if they were good sends or bad sends, just watching Zimmer get it wrong twice brought back a lot of hate.
Then I realized that a few days later, he would have a much worse moment. :mad:
Zim got his, in the end.



That was some fucking aikido shit by Pedro, too. I don't care how bad he felt about it later.
 

lexrageorge

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I'm not sure but I could sworn he said it to Fisk when he was at the plate. He even told Sparky Anderson....That was the greatest game I ever played in. He said Peter Edward you're crazy. I won't get any sleep tonight. Rose said don't worry Skip we'll win tomorrow. Unfortunately (JIm Burton ooohhhhhh) he was right. Why didn't we keep Willoughby in?
I've played this in my head multiple times.

Of the 10 pitchers the Sox had on their playoff roster at the time, we can rule out Tiant, Drago, and Wise, each of whom pitched multiple innings in the epic Game 6 the prior evening. Bill Lee had started Game 7, and Willoughby had replaced Roger Moret. That left Burton, Dick Pole, Diego Segui, and Reggie Cleveland in the bullpen. It shows how times have changed, as the Sox used only 12 pitchers all season, with Steve Barr and Rick Kreuger having appeared in a total of 11 innings over 5 games.

One factor was the fact that the Reds would be leading off the 9th with 2 lefties in Griffey and Geronimo. Burton that season had become a LOOGY (0.624 OPS against LHB's) before LOOGY's were popular. Compare his stats against lefties with Pole (0.823 OPS against), Cleveland (0.718), Willoughby (0.938), or Segui (0.861). Meanwhile, Cleveland got hit pretty hard in his one start in Game 5. Geronimo, meanwhile, was especially vulnerable against lefty pitchers. So pitching Jim Burton wasn't the worst decision Darrell Johnson made that series. Burton wasn't supposed to walk Griffey to start the inning, allowing Geronimo to make a productive out by moving Griffey to 2nd.

The bigger mistake, IMO, was pinch hitting for Willoughby in the 8th. There were none on and 2 outs after Burleson grounded into a double play. It ended up being a waste of Cecil Cooper's bat, and one result is that you had Juan Beniquez and Bob Montgomery pinch hitting for Rick Miller and Denny Doyle in the 9th (egads!). Yes, Cooper struggled badly that series (1 for 19), but perhaps given a better spot may have been able to break his slump.
 

E5 Yaz

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Jim Burton gets a raw deal for the Morgan hit. That was a damned good pitch and not all that well hit
 

The Gray Eagle

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This was the first series I watched on the internet. Somehow it was in there, and I found it. I agree, it's a great, great series. My connection was so-so and the screen was small. I didn't notice your point about the check swings---interesting.
Here's a screenshot of Dwight Evans checking his swing against Billingham in Game 2. At this moment, Bench has just caught the ball on a 3-2 pitch. If you can see where Evans's hands are on his check swing, what do you think the call is?

Ball four.

29242

Just for fun, I ran a stopwatch a few times to see how long pitchers were taking from the moment they catch the ball back from the catcher to the moment they start their windup (with no runners on base.)
In the 1975 game (a rough guesstimate based on only 12 or so pitches) that time was around 8 or 9 seconds on average. One time I timed Bill Lee at 5.7 seconds.

For a quick comparison I looked at the 2013 game against the Royals that's on the server. I timed Big Lame James Shields, who was pitching for the Royals, and a rough guesstimate of a dozen or so pitches was about 15 seconds from catching the ball to starting his motion. (Buchholz pitched that one for us, so I didn't even bother timing him, I don't have enough spare time for that.)

6 or so seconds per pitch doesn't sound like much, but man it really adds up over the course of a game, or even an inning. The 1975 game moves so much faster.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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I have listened to this WS several times (on cassette tapes which indicates my vintage) It is ALWAYS striking how quickly the game gets played, and how clean the audio is. No adverts inserted. No plugs. No bullshit. Just the game, the crowd, and some occasional insight. It is a pleasure to dip into those waters now and then.
I've often lamented the lack of choice we have in this regard. IF the Red Sox offered a broadcast bereft of any plugs, ads, etc and offered a simple broadcast of just the play by play with the right color man, I'd pay good money to listen. And they could continue to offer their free package full of bullshit to the masses who don't care or don't want to pay. How much would this cost me? I don't know...but I think I'd be willing to pay it. Especially if it could be offered with video....
You are already paying for NESN to do this with all the ads, etc.
 

tims4wins

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Here's a screenshot of Dwight Evans checking his swing against Billingham in Game 2. At this moment, Bench has just caught the ball on a 3-2 pitch. If you can see where Evans's hands are on his check swing, what do you think the call is?

Ball four.

View attachment 29242

Just for fun, I ran a stopwatch a few times to see how long pitchers were taking from the moment they catch the ball back from the catcher to the moment they start their windup (with no runners on base.)
In the 1975 game (a rough guesstimate based on only 12 or so pitches) that time was around 8 or 9 seconds on average. One time I timed Bill Lee at 5.7 seconds.

For a quick comparison I looked at the 2013 game against the Royals that's on the server. I timed Big Lame James Shields, who was pitching for the Royals, and a rough guesstimate of a dozen or so pitches was about 15 seconds from catching the ball to starting his motion. (Buchholz pitched that one for us, so I didn't even bother timing him, I don't have enough spare time for that.)

6 or so seconds per pitch doesn't sound like much, but man it really adds up over the course of a game, or even an inning. The 1975 game moves so much faster.
Biggest issue with baseball.
 

lexrageorge

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Game 2 was one of those "if only" games. Game 2 was played on a raw and windy day, and the wind was blowing in from left field, so a low scoring game seemed in the cards. It had been drizzling and would rain off and on throughout the game, making the footing slippery and potentially slowing down the Reds base running. Sox start the game with runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. However, Yaz hits a grounder back to the pitcher, Jack Billingham, who quickly throws to 2nd for the force out and what appears to be the start of a 1-4-3 double-play. However, Cecil Cooper hesitated before breaking to home, and by the time he started towards home, Concepcion alertly threw to Bench to get Cooper caught in a run down (shades of the Jeff Suppan play in Game 3 of 2004). On the next at bat, Fisk would score Yaz, who had advanced to 2nd on the rundown play. But the Sox ended up with only 1 run.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Sox mount another threat, with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out. For some reason, Darrell Johnson decided to be aggressive with Evans (3 SB out of 7 attempts) on the base paths with Bill Lee at the plate. A curious decision given Bench's well earned reputation as one of the best throwing arms among catchers in that era. On Lee's first pitch, Evans almost got caught leading too far off of second, but Bench's throw was a little off. Evans almost got caught attempting to run to 3rd on the same play, but quickly got back to 2nd. On the next pitch, Lee showed bunt, but missed, and Evans, who had broke to 3rd, was picked off. Lee hadn't picked up a bat in 3 years, although he did have a triple and home run (16 at bats) to his credit in 1972. The right play would have been to take the out at the plate, and see what Cecil Cooper could do with 2 outs. Instead, Lee struck out to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Bill Lee pitched a gem of a game. He was a bit of a surprise starter, as the pundits expected Johnson to go with Rick Wise, who had won 19 games for the Sox that season. But Johnson felt that Lee's tendency to keep the ball down would be beneficial on a day when the field was wet and the park windy. 1975 was Lee's best season, and he had command of an assortment of breaking pitches that he could mix in with a deceptive fastball. He avoided walks and kept the ball in the yard. He also worked quickly, pitching the ball about 5 seconds after getting it back from the catcher. The Reds were able to scratch out a run in the 4th, thanks to a 1-out walk to Joe Morgan, a base hit, and a slow hit grounder by Perez that he just beat down the line to avoid an inning ending double play and allowed the run to score. However, Reds starter Jack Billingham was equally as efficient after the first inning.

Bill Lee tried to get something going in the bottom of the 5th, laying a perfect bunt down the 3rd base line. However, Bench made a perfect play to get the ball and perfect throw to first to just barely get Lee for the 2nd out of the inning. Another close play in a close game. Meanwhile, in the top of the 6th, Fisk would make a great throw to nail Joe Morgan on his steal attempt. Fred Lynn would make a diving catch on Bench fly ball in center to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 6th, Yaz singled with one out. After Fisk worked the count to 3-2, Johnson sent Yaz on the pitch. Fisk hit a sharp grounder to short that Concepcion had trouble reeling in, and the result was that everyone was safe. It was ruled an error, but the ball took a funny bounce on the wet infield, and making any play would have been difficult. Petrocelli, battling a chronic inner ear issue that would eventually end his career, would single home Yaz for the 2-1 lead. An Evans walk would load the bases, chasing Billingham. Sparky Anderson was one of the early adopters of using the bullpen early in the game, and Pedro Borbon would get Burleson to fly to center to end the inning. The Sox would mount another threat in the 8th (1st and 2nd), but stranded both runners when Evans struck out.

Bill Lee would come out to start the 9th with a 2-1 lead, but Johnny Bench would jump on the first pitch for a solid double down the right field line. Lee had pitched brilliantly to that point, but Johnson correctly decided to call on his best reliever, Dick Drago, to attempt to close out the game. The strategy seemed like it would work, as Drago pounded fastball after fastball and got the first 2 outs of the inning, with Bench moving to third on Perez's grounder. However, Dave Concepcion would redeem himself with a sharply hit grounder that Doyle had to chase down, and as he was going the other way, he had no play to first, and Bench scored to tie the game. The next batter, Ken Griffey, would hit a no-doubt double to give the Reds the lead for the first time all series. In the bottom of the 9th, Burleson, Carbo, and Cooper would go down weakly against the Reds' "closer", Rawley Eastwick (who would finish 3rd in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind John Montefusco (!) and Gary Carter).

Game 2 gets sometimes lost in the shuffle between Tiant's gems in Games 1 and 4, the horrible non-call on Ed Armbister in Game 3, the classic Game 6, and the deflating Game 7 loss. However, it was in its own right a crucial game that was decided by the smallest of margins. Had any one of a number of plays gone a different way, the Sox would have gone to Cincinnati with a 2-0 lead in the series. Red Sox pitchers had held the powerful Reds to a 0.188 batting average at Fenway, while the Sox had batted 0.302. However, neither team had hit a home run, an unexpected development given the dimensions of Fenway. I'm convinced the Sox would have won that series had they been able to hold that 2-1 lead in Game 2, or had managed to scratch out another couple of runs.
 

mwonow

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I'm guessing that most everyone on this thread knows about this book, but if you haven't seen it, there are worse ways to spend some downtime...

Good read, except that Pete Rose comes across as likable, which made me feel a bit dirty...
 

moretsyndrome

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In Zim's defense (sorry), wasn't he yelling, "No, no, no!" but what was heard was, instead, "Go, go, go!"? I'm talking about Game Six.
That is Zim's defense, but I have sincere doubts regarding the truth of that defense.

I spent a lot of time coaching third base and also holding up at third base as a player, because I was so slow. It was always "back!" or "stop!". You don't say "no" in that situation. Unless you're an incompetent moron whose only 'talents' were:

- to find a way to ingratiate yourself with the right people and hang onto a job for life
- to shield yourself from blame when things go to shit - which is exactly what he's doing with his retelling of what happened.
 

The Gray Eagle

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That is what has always irritated me about Zimmer's "defense" of that play-- as soon as you're old enough to coach third base in youth baseball, you're told to never say "No" to hold a runner, because obviously it sounds like "Go!"

His defense was that he violated basic common sense and common knowledge and yelled the wrong thing. Um, okay. So it's clearly still all your fault, Gerbil.
 

Al Zarilla

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux9q6ttaT_M


Yaz made an incredible diving play in the outfield to keep a base hit from becoming a two-run triple in Game 3, snuffing out the A's last hope. Couldn't find the link, but I know someone will
I bought tickets for all three games in Oakland (2 in Boston, 3 in Oakland format). Happy to see the sweep but I would have enjoyed going to another game or 2. I think the tix were $20 apiece (are you kidding me?), nosebleeds behind the plate as they were. Not many were expecting Rick Wise, Sox starting pitcher, to pin another series loss on Ken Holtzman, but he did. I remember thinking it would have been nice to see Luis Tiant or Bill Lee, but Wise was 19-12 that year. Forgot that. His peripherals not that good. But, he pitched the game of his life. I went to the men's room on the way out and an A's fan was lamenting and crying as if Oakland was ordained to win every world series from then to eternity. We did break up a three year run of theirs. I do remember that play by Yaz. Of course he made the play.
 

Humphrey

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How long were the commerical breaks (and there has to be at least 16 of them plus during-the-inning pitching changes)?

I think that's another place you can shave time off the game if you introduce a split screen; the NFL does that during some time outs.
 

Earthbound64

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I think that's another place you can shave time off the game if you introduce a split screen; the NFL does that during some time outs.
Oh, MLB's using split-screen commercials while the games are going on.
They're just doing that in addition to their regular volume of commercials.

For all of MLB's hand-wringing over game time and pace of play and all that, commercials are one area that will only continue to expand.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Chad Jennings in the Athletic with an inning-by-inning account of Game 6:

The Athletic is free for 90 days to new subscribers.)

Here's a bit of the beginning, with a link to the video of the game:

Thanks to the internet, the entire NBC broadcast — minus commercials — is available on YouTube. And it opens with a spectacular shot of Luis Tiant Sr. in the crowd.

Dick Stockton has play-by-play duties tonight, with former big leaguers Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola. Kubek says he’d talked to Reds hitters who seem unimpressed by Tiant’s fastball. That’s the discussion as they show Tiant’s past five games in Boston: 45 innings pitched, one earned run, 33 strikeouts and a 0.20 ERA.

Within an hour, the booth will be marveling at Tiant’s ability to put his fastball where he wants and get easy outs.
 
That was an awesome World Series -- every game had moments. Reminded of a story from Game #6, after Carbo's dramatic homer denied the Reds the championship. At one point, Evans reached third where Reds third baseman Pete Rose said "Hey Dewey, can you believe this game? This might be the greatest game I ever played in!"

Pete Rose is kind of a shit, but I love him for that.
Thank you for sending me down a rabbit hole! I was sure I remembered encountering this anecdote in Roger Angell's chapter on the '75 Series in FIVE SEASONS (that chapter might be the best thing Angell ever wrote; highly recommended if you haven't read it), but I can't find it there.

According to Google, the story has been reported in various ways over the years. The first accounts had it that Rose, coming to bat in the top of the 11th, turned to Fisk and made this remark. But in subsequent recollections of the game, it's Dwight Evans telling people that Rose approached him. Maybe Rose said it to both of them?

 

moretsyndrome

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Let's go back to Game 5 for a second. One of the 'lesser' games, it still contains one of the most extraordinary sequences I've ever seen:

We go to the bottom of the 6th, and Reggie Cleveland is hanging in there at Riverfront despite being the 4th and least desirable starter you'd want facing these guys. He's down 2-1.

But, fuck, Joe Morgan's up. Things get weird right away. Pitch 1 certainly looks like a strike, but is called ball one. However the camera shows Morgan looking back and barking. You might ask yourself why the beneficiary of the questionable call is barking. Why, he's barking at Carlton Fisk, who must have been complaining about the first call, for having the temerity to suggest that Morgan looked at a strike (which, again, he did)! I don't know if I'd ever seen that before, or in thousands of hours of watching baseball since. Always, the batter will just stand there while a catcher's arguing. At most you might see a wry smile if the hitter knows he got away with one. That Joe Morgan was a different kind of cat.

The next two pitches are in fact out of the strike zone, and called accordingly. 3-0. A Get Me Over fastball gets us to 3-1, and an actual swing produces a foul ball for 3-2. For some reason, the point of view moves from CF to behind home plate for the next pitch. It looks good from there, but it's called ball four, so who knows? Then we see fucking Morgan not content to just take his base, but continuing to talk shit to Fisk while jogging backwards down the line. Then we get a replay from CF, and sure enough it's a completely blown call, way more egregious than ball one. Then we see Cleveland losing his mind on the mound. He needs that out, with Johnny Bench and Tony Perez due up.

So, up comes Bench. We are then treated to SEVEN consecutive throws to first, with Yaz twice slapping a tag as hard as possible on Morgan. Then a foul ball (thwarting an easy SB - so the throws weren't working) and FOUR more throws over. By now Morgan is filthy. Ball one, and SIX more tosses to first, for a cool total of 17 pick-off attempts versus 2 pitches. I don't know if I'd ever seen that before, or in thousands of hours of watching baseball since, and I watched prime Clay Buchholz.

Anyway, Bench finally slaps a single. First and third. Perez takes Cleveland deep. Game. The Sox weren't doing much of anything with Gullett on the hill for the Reds anyway. That whole sequence always struck me as incredibly odd, and all the more interesting because, of the six players directly involved, all but Cleveland are in Cooperstown.
 
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LoweTek

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Bill Lee would come out to start the 9th with a 2-1 lead, but Johnny Bench would jump on the first pitch for a solid double down the right field line.
I can't find a reference to it but wasn't there a rain delay between the bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th or thereabouts?

Bill Lee tells a story about the Bench hit, saying there was a rain delay during which Bench was interviewed and mentioned he would be looking low and away when he faced Lee. Lee bemoans the fact despite millions of people hearing Bench say this, "Nobody told me!!"

Thus he started Bench low and away and Bench, looking for it and expecting it, sent it down the line for this double you describe.

On a side note, one of my favorite pieces of Red Sox memorabilia I own is a full, unused ticket to game 7 of the 1975 World Series. It's encased in an inch thick acrylic case and looks like it came from the box office yesterday. It's a reserved grandstand in section 9, so along the right field line just before the Pesky Pole.

Face value? $12.50.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Thank you for this - just subscribed.
You're welcome! I predict you will really enjoy the Athletic.

If anyone else out there is going to subscribe, let me know, we can both get a discount if you join through my link.


Let's go back to Game 5 for a second. One of the 'lesser' games, it still contains one of the most extraordinary sequences I've ever seen:

We go to the bottom of the 6th, and Reggie Cleveland is hanging in there at Riverfront despite being the 4th and least desirable starter you'd want facing these guys. He's down 2-1.

But, fuck, Joe Morgan's up. Things get weird right away. Pitch 1 certainly looks like a strike, but is called ball one. However the camera shows Morgan looking back and barking. You might ask yourself why the beneficiary of the questionable call is barking. Why, he's barking at Carlton Fisk, who must have been complaining about the first call, for having the temerity to suggest that Morgan looked at a strike (which, again, he did)! I don't know if I'd ever seen that before, or in thousands of hours of watching baseball since. Always, the batter will just stand there while a catcher's arguing. At most you might see a wry smile if the hitter knows he got away with one. That Joe Morgan was a different kind of cat.

The next two pitches are in fact out of the strike zone, and called accordingly. 3-0. A Get Me Over fastball gets us to 3-1, and an actual swing produces a foul ball for 3-2. For some reason, the point of view moves from CF to behind home plate for the next pitch. It looks good from there, but it's called ball four, so who knows? Then we see fucking Morgan not content to just take his base, but continuing to talk shit to Fisk while jogging backwards down the line. Then we get a replay from CF, and sure enough it's a completely blown call, way more egregious than ball one. Then we see Cleveland losing his mind on the mound. He needs that out, with Johnny Bench and Tony Perez due up.

So, up comes Bench. We are then treated to SEVEN consecutive throws to first, with Yaz twice slapping a tag as hard as possible on Morgan. Then a foul ball (thwarting an easy SB - so the throws weren't working) and FOUR more throws over. By now Morgan is filthy. Ball one, and SIX more tosses to first, for a cool total of 17 pick-off attempts versus 2 pitches. I don't know if I'd ever seen that before, or in thousands of hours of watching baseball since, and I watched prime Clay Buchholz.

Anyway, Bench finally slaps a single. First and third. Perez takes Cleveland deep. Game. The Sox weren't doing much of anything with Gullett on the hill for the Reds anyway. That whole sequence always struck me as incredibly odd, and all the more interesting because, of the six players directly involved, all but Cleveland are in Cooperstown.
Great post, great observations. Thanks!
 

TheBoomah

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This thread has been a Godsend with what’s going on in the world and being confined to quarters.

Many thanks to The Gray Eagle and Lexrageorge for making this thread & discussion one of the best reads in quite a while.
 

Patek's 3 Dingers

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"Bill Lee tells a story about the Bench hit, saying there was a rain delay during which Bench was interviewed and mentioned he would be looking low and away when he faced Lee. Lee bemoans the fact despite millions of people hearing Bench say this, "Nobody told me!!""

Being a Red Sox fan at the time, I'm confident that had Lee had pitched him up and in, Bench would have hit it over the Monster.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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MLB Network currently showing Game 6 in its entirety (1:30-6pm). First thing that struck me in the top of the third as the Reds pinch hit for their starting pitcher was when NBC displayed the list of available pinch hitters: the Reds had eight hitters on the bench. I'm sure the Sox were in a similar position. Nine man pitching staff for the seven game series. Amazing how times have changed.
 

jaytftwofive

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I always believed not having Jim Rice hurt us much more then missing Tony C. in 67 series. The Sox were big underdogs in both series(especially 67 because of Bob Gibson and their staring pitching) but I believe Tony C though he is my favorite all time player would not have made a difference. I believe Rice could have. Now the Reds had the best lineup in baseball but the Red Sox had better starting pitching. Oh how it might have turned out if they had Rice in LF and Yaz at first instead of Cecil Cooper and his what...1 for 18 or 19? I believe as it turns out the Reds had a better bullpen and that probably made the difference.
 

jaytftwofive

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Bill Lee till this day claims that not only did Ed Armbrister interfere with Fisk, but Geronimo was out at third but Rico's argument went to no avail because everybody was arguing at home plate. Lee still says if he had the chance he would have cut Larry Barnett's ear off. He would have VanGogh'd him, LOL. That was Lee's quote in his book "The Wrong Stuff".
 
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jaytftwofive

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Okay call, but if you can find Ned Martin's it's much better.
Neds was CBS or NBC radio right? Because back then local radio couldn't do the World Series so they would have guest broadcasters from the two teams do network TV and Radio. Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall for Reds and Stockton and Ned for the Red Sox.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Neds was CBS or NBC radio right? Because back then local radio couldn't do the World Series so they would have guest broadcasters from the two teams do network TV and Radio. Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall for Reds and Stockton and Ned for the Red Sox.
It was all NBC, both TV and radio. They rotated the local announcers between the radio and TV broadcasts. The home guys handled TV (Stockton 1 & 6, Martin 2 & 7, Brennaman 3-5), and the road guys handled the radio (Martin and Stockton split 3-5, Brennaman covered 1, 2, 6, and 7). The national guys, Gowdy and Garigiola, also rotated between the two broadcasts.
 

NomosRubber

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Bill Lee till this day claims that not only did Ed Armbrister interfere with Fisk, Concepcion was out at third but Rico's argument went to no avail because everybody was arguing at home plate. Lee still says if he had the chance he would have cut Larry Barnett's ear off. He would have VanGogh'd him, LOL.
Not to wish away the greatest World Series game ever played or the historic catharsis of 2004, but I've always lamented how close the Sox were to closing out the Big Red Machine in four games . . . the second game rain delay was a momentum killer that I've always been convinced changed the outcome in spite of the fact that Lee continued after the rain stopped. The third game outcome needs no further explanation, but adding Lee's contention only reinforces that. And of course, Tiant did El Tiante things in Games 1 and 4. Add Rice and consider how history would look at the 1975 Red Sox.
 

Average Reds

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But, fuck, Joe Morgan's up. Things get weird right away. Pitch 1 certainly looks like a strike, but is called ball one. However the camera shows Morgan looking back and barking. You might ask yourself why the beneficiary of the questionable call is barking. Why, he's barking at Carlton Fisk, who must have been complaining about the first call, for having the temerity to suggest that Morgan looked at a strike (which, again, he did)! I don't know if I'd ever seen that before, or in thousands of hours of watching baseball since. Always, the batter will just stand there while a catcher's arguing. At most you might see a wry smile if the hitter knows he got away with one. That Joe Morgan was a different kind of cat.
This story reminds me of something Garagiola once said about Morgan during a game of the week broadcast. (And I'm going from memory, so no links.)

Morgan was the batter and took a called strike on an iffy pitch. And before the next pitch, the camera zoomed in on Morgan and he is bitching up a storm waiting for the pitch. What makes this notable is that Morgan never looked back. His eyes were locked on the pitcher the whole time and the only people who knew he was complaining were the catcher, the ump and the broadcasters, who just happened to zoom in at the right time. And Garagiola says "If you want to complain about a bad call, that's how you do it. You can get away with just about anything if you don't show up the umpire."

That has stayed with me all these years, and it came back to me reading your post. Because Morgan berating Fisk is part of the same strategy. Whether he's complaining about a call or bitching out an opponent, Morgan's credo was to work the umps at all times. (I'll have to check my copy of Ball Four, but I believe Bouton mentioned that Morgan was the king of working the umps way back in '69.)

Anyway, great post and thanks for the lookback. (Even if the larger memory is painful.)
 

lexrageorge

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I also am convinced the loss of Rice was huge, although it's hard to truly know. Cecil Cooper had a 0.899 OPS with 14 home runs that season for the Sox, and was 4-10 with 2 doubles in the ALCS, so his 1-19 in the Series was likely nothing more than one of those statistical anomalies that can strike any batter. Still, it's fun to look back at the pinch hitting opportunities to see if the Sox would have fared better with Cooper on the bench:

Game 2: Bernie Carbo pinch hit for Dick Drago in the bottom of the 9th and lined out.
Game 3: Carbo pinch hit for Reggie Cleveland and went yard to start the rally.
Game 5: Doug Griffin (egads) pinch hit for Jim Willoughby in the 8th and lined out. But the Sox were down 5-1 with 2 outs and 1 on, so there chances were not very good.
Game 6: Carbo pinch hit for Roger Moret in the bottom of the 8th with the Sox down 6-3. When his at bat ends, the game is tied.
Game 6: Rick Miller pinch hit for Drago in the bottom of the 11th and flew out.
Game 7: Cooper hits for Willoughby and fouls out in the bottom of the 8th, a move that forced Jim Burton in the game.
Game 7: Juan Beniquez and Bob Montgomery pinch hit for Rick Miller and Denny Doyle in the bottom of the 9th, but neither did much.

Chances are, if Rice is playing, Carbo is back to pinch hitting duty in Game 7. Again, an interesting thought experiment.

And when talking about Rice in 1975, or Tony C in 1967, one also has to recall that Ted Williams got hurt in an exhibition game leading up to the 1946 World Series. Williams did not have a single extra base hit in 30 plate appearances, after a regular season in which he had one extra base hit for every 8 plate appearances. The infamous shift had nothing to do with that.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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And when talking about Rice in 1975, or Tony C in 1967, one also has to recall that Ted Williams got hurt in an exhibition game leading up to the 1946 World Series. Williams did not have a single extra base hit in 30 plate appearances, after a regular season in which he had one extra base hit for every 8 plate appearances. The infamous shift had nothing to do with that.
To complete the what-ifs of World Series season injuries, what would the 1986 Red Sox have done with a healthy Tom Seaver in the postseason rotation. Sure he was 41 years old, but he'd still have been a step up from Nipper as the #4 starter and maybe a better #3 than Boyd.
 

lexrageorge

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To complete the what-ifs of World Series season injuries, what would the 1986 Red Sox have done with a healthy Tom Seaver in the postseason rotation. Sure he was 41 years old, but he'd still have been a step up from Nipper as the #4 starter and maybe a better #3 than Boyd.
He pitched well for the Sox that season, better than his 5-7 record indicates. In the first 5 of those 7 losses, the Sox scored 0, 2, 0, 2 (Sox lost 13-2, but were trailing 3-2 when he left), and 3 runs, and the only bad start was the 5th loss where he gave up 5 in a 7-3 loss to Cleveland. He pitched well enough to win his next 2 starts, but in both cases the bullpen blew the save opportunity (Bob Stanley and Calvin Schiraldi), even though the Sox won anyway. He got roughed up a bit against the Yankees in his penultimate start (6 runs in 4 innings), then got hurt against Toronto.

Yes, I would have been much happier with Seaver over Nipper in Game 4, and in relief in Game 7.
 

lexrageorge

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I took a look at the 1946 World Series box scores just to see if it was possible to determine which aspect had a bigger impact on Williams' performance in that World Series, the wrist injury or the shift. I mentioned above the lack of extra base hits, on which the shift would have little impact. Also, during the regular season, Williams struck out 44 times in 672 plate appearances (once per 15.3), while drawing an AL leading 156 walks (once per 4.3 appearances) [Ed: Yes, he truly was an amazing hitter, especially when you consider he hit only 6 fewer home runs than strikeouts]. During the Series, he walked 5 times (once per 6), but also struck out 5 times. The shift cannot cause strike outs.

Looking at the game situations, there are 3 relevant games: 2, 6, and 7. The Sox won Games 1, 3, and 5, and Game 4 was a 12-3 Cardinals blowout win, but I'll look at that one just the same. And I'll (*) the at bats where the shift may have had an impact (we cannot know for sure, as ground outs happen even without the shift).

Game 2: The Sox managed only 4 hits off of Harry Brecheen in a 3-0 loss. Williams at bats: groundout (*), K, lineout to 2nd (*), foul pop out. The final out was costly, as the other DiMaggio singled to lead off the bottom of the 9th, but had nothing to do with the shift. It was also the only at bat in which a runner was on base when Williams was at the bat.

Game 4: Walk, Single (run scored), groundout (*), groundout/fielder's choice. This last ground out was to 3rd, so the shift had no impact. Sox were down 7-1 by the time of Williams 3rd at bat.

Game 6: Walk to load the bases in the first inning, but was out on a subsequent GIDP, pop fly out, K, single. Sox lost 4-1.

Game 7: Deep fly out (runner on 1st), deep fly out, fly to right (runner on 1st), pop fly out. The last out was costly, as Dom DiMaggio was on 2nd, having just driven in 2 runs to tie the game. The infamous Enos Slaughter play would happen in the bottom half of the inning.

So of those 16 at bats, the shift may have had an impact on 3 of them, and it's unclear that any of those 3 outs had a significant impact on the series outcome. 3 pop fly outs, and Williams did not normally pop out. And it's reasonable to assume that at least one of those deep fly ball outs in Game 7 may have left the park had his wrist been better.

So, it was the wrist, not the shift. And, for whatever reason, Harry Brecheen absolutely owned the Sox (3-0, 0.45 ERA, 0.189 batting average against in 20 innings) and Williams (1-7, 2 K's, 1 BB) that Series.
 
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