ETHAN — At the conclusion of the 2019 World Series — congratulations Washington Nationals! — the idea to listen to old baseball games during the lengthy off-season sparked during a slumber-filled Saturday afternoon. Rance and I intentionally chose the 1960 World Series because of our friendship with and deep admiration of Bill Virdon.
I was born 14 years after this World Series was played. I knew there would be action from some of the all-time greats: Roberto Clementé and Bill Mazeroski. Mantle, Maris, Berra, and Ford. I didn’t know that listening to old baseball games would teach me so much about the history of the world. There are events that took place that calendar year are still creating ripples today.
In January, the first televised anime series debuted, Three Tales in Japan and the Dallas Cowboys were introduced as an expansion team to the NFL. I don’t know much about anime, but the popularity of the big-eyed animated characters has since spread around the world. The Cowboys, however, I love to cheer against almost as much I like to cheer against the Yankees.
On February 1, Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain, and Joseph McNeil, four black students from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, sat down at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworth. They were denied service and courageously refused to move from their seats. Their actions inspired sit-ins across the country. Almost six months later, on July 25, Woolworth served its first black customers, four Woolworth’s employees — Geneva Tisdale, Susie Morrison, Anetha Jones, and Charles Best. Those 4 seats are now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History; I saw them when my family toured DC in the summer of 2016.
Three months into 1960 and the US announced the sending of 3,500 soldiers to the Vietnam War. Approximately 2.7 million Americans served in a war that officially ended after I was born. The next month, at the Academy Awards, Ben-Hur won practically everything, taking home 11 golden statue trophies including Best Picture. Confession: I’ve never seen it.
Throughout 1960, Cold War tensions increased. On May 1, Soviet surface-to-air missiles brought down a U-2 spy plane, capturing the CIA pilot. Khrushchev demanded an apology from Eisenhower for the incident. In July, a Soviet Air Force MiG shot down a US Air Force RB-47, killing four officers. The two survivors were imprisoned. The threat of nuclear war was felt around the globe; France tested their A-bombs on three separate occasions in 1960.
On May 6, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Three days later, the FDA approved the world’s first birth control pill. A week after that, Theodore Maiman operated the world’s first laser. May ended in tragedy, however, as a 9.4 – 9.6 earthquake, known as the Valdivia earthquake, struck. It is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, leaving more than 2 million people homeless.
In August of 1959, Hawaii was inducted as the 50th state. On July 4, 1960, the 50-star flag, designed by Robert G. Heft, was flown for the very first time in Philadelphia. Heft originally designed the flag for a school project; his teacher gave him a B- for “lack of creativity.” This should serve as a warning to all teachers.
The next week, on July 11, To Kill a Mockingbird was published. Harper Lee’s only real book won the Pulitzer Prize for best American novel. I refuse to read Go Set a Watchman and wrote a tribute to Lee in a novella I completed earlier this year.
On my birthday, August 16, Joseph Kittinger set his sights on the stratosphere. From a balloon more than 19 miles into the sky, Kittinger jumped. He set the world records for: high altitude jump; free-falling 16 miles before opening his parachute; and the fastest speed for a human being (614 mph). He was the first person to witness the spherical curvature of the Earth. (Sorry, flat earthers.) In 2012, 52 years later, Felix Baumgartner broke his records. Kittinger served as the capsule communicator for Felix.
September brought the Summer Olympics to Rome, Italy where Muhammad Ali (then, Cassius Clay) won the gold medal as a light-heavyweight boxer. He won his first match as a professional the following month. On a completely unrelated note, the day after Clay’s victory, Dr. Michael Woodruff completed the first successful kidney transplant surgery. Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia won the marathon, running barefoot, and set a new world record. He was the first person from sub-Saharan Africa to win an Olympic gold. The month ended with the premiere of the cartoon The Flintstones on ABC
November witnessed the election of John F. Kennedy to POTUS and in the first week of December, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public transportation was illegal. Finally, over the course of the year, 17 African countries gained their independence from Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom.
I wonder what events of 2019 will still be causing ripples in 2078.
The First Inning
RANCE — The Pirates went 1-2-3 quicker than a hiccup, so Jack Quinlan gives us a clever live read advertisement for Gillette razors. Ethan and I have heard these ads enough to be shaving experts at this point.
E — I went and bought new blades after this game.
R — I did find it interesting that Chuck Thompson segued into the ad by discussing Pittsburgh fans traveling to New York by train to see the Pirates play at Yankee Stadium.
In 2019, with better television cameras and coverage than we have ever had, streaming service options, the MLB Network, and smart devices accessible to the majority of the sports consuming population, I wonder if such dedicated travel would happen today.
Bob Cerv batted for what was scored — perhaps generously — an infield hit, but Pirates third baseman Don Hoak was charged a throwing error, which allowed Cerv to reach second base.
It was not the first time Don Hoak would commit an error in the field while trying to support Harvey Haddix, though I’m not sure which of two E’s charged to Hoak occurred under more significant stakes. It was Hoak who committed an error in the 13th inning of what had been the most perfectly-pitched regular season game in the history of baseball in what ended with a 1 – 0 loss to Milwaukee May 26, 1959.
Second baseman Felix Mantilla hit a grounder that sent Hoak moving to his left. Hoak, according to a 2009 piece by Albert Chen in the Sports Illustrated vault entitled, “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched,” fielded the ball in plenty of time, but rushed his throw to first base, pulling Rocky Nelson off the bag, allowing Mantilla to reach base safely, and ending Haddix’s bid for a complete perfect game in the 13th inning.
Hoak and Haddix were reportedly the last two Pittsburgh players to leave the stadium that night, according to Chen’s piece. They shared a taxicab ride back to their hotel, and in the cab, Hoak reportedly said to Haddix, “I’ve made errors behind you before today, and I’ll make errors after today.” No apology, just a cold statement of sporting fact from one teammate to another.
E — More on that game, of which I knew nothing until this broadcast, later. Throughout the game, both Quinlan and Thompson recounted Virdon’s Game 4 catch in deep right field multiple times, saying that it will be talked about for years. Fifty-nine years later, I’m amazed, hearing it for the very first time.
Harvey Haddix was the starting pitcher for the Pirates. Chuck Thompson said his nickname is “The Kitten,” because of his likeness to Cardinals’ lefty pitcher Harry “The Cat” Brecheen. I cannot think of anyone in the GRBL who would want the nickname “The Kitten.” There is nothing intimidating or awe-inspiring about a kitten.
The Second Inning
E — The Pirates scores first, tallying three off of Art Ditmar, who again gets the early hook. In two World Series starts, he totaled less than two innings pitched combined. Play the game long enough, and baseball will humble you.
Elston Howard marks his return to the line-up with a loud stand-up double, deep into the right field corner. He should never be left out of the line-up again. Richardson follows Howard and grounds out to second, but advances Howard to third.
Kubek hits a slow roller and Howard scores the first run while the second out recorded.
At the end of two, the Pirates are up 3 – 1.
R — Dick Stuart singled. Gino Cimoli grounded into a fielder’s choice to Bobby Richardson at second base. Smoky Burgess then doubled, bringing Cimoli to third. Announcer Chuck Thompson notes that Burgess, up to that point, was not happy with the way he had been hitting in this series.
Don Hoak, the U.S. Navy veteran who was courting singer and actress Jill Corey in the midst of this historic season for the Pirates, stood in again Art Ditmar, hero of the ’58 Series. In my “1960 rules” Game 4 recap, I learned that Hoak had dreams of one day becoming a Major League manager. I couldn’t Google search for the outcome at that time because of the rules, but I’ve since done a good deal of learning about Don Hoak. He became a manager, but much like his throwing error in Milwaukee in the midst of Harvey Haddix’s bid for baseball immortality, the ultimate outcome for was a tragic one.
Somewhat fittingly in the present portion of the story, Yankees third baseman Gil McDougald committed an error on a ground ball from Hoak’s bat. Gino Cimoli scampered in to make it 1 – 0 Pittsburgh, and the unraveling of Art Ditmar continues.
Bill Mazeroski then bounces a two-RBI double over McDougald’s head and down the left field line. It’s 3 – 0 Pirates, and Casey Stengel very quickly puts the quick hook to Art Ditmar.
“Art Ditmar is finding it unusually rough in this 1960 World Series. The fine Yankee right-hander was unable to weather the Pirate first inning in the first inning, and now, in Game No. 5, is unable to get through the second inning,” Thompson said.
In an inning and a third, Ditmar gave up four hits and three earned runs.
This World Series almost ruined Art Ditmar’s ability to show his face in New York. He became defined by his ineffectiveness in Game 1 and Game 5, in which he lasted a combined inning and two-thirds. Without a doubt, Ditmar did some of the worst professional pitching of his career in this World Series.
At least he was throwing strikes.
All kidding aside, I can’t help but empathize with Ditmar. It makes me think of times in my own life where I had chances to do something great and totally blew it.
Listening to Chuck Thompson and Jack Quinlan call the action, I think back on how I’ve described the scenes on the baseball field when a pitcher in the Grip’N’Rip Baseball League is having a run of bad luck. One bad outing does not define a hurler’s body of work, but the sting of defeat sure can hang around for a while.
Ben Van Gorp. It makes me think of Ben Van Gorp.
BVG was a do-everything sort of guy for the A&L Electric Shockers in 2018, my rookie year as the play-by-play announcer in the league. He was fun, he was fast, he was sometimes flashy and Van Gorp almost always had a smile on his face. I liked him immediately. The league had an all-star game that year at the very end of the season, and Van Gorp was on the roster.
The game went to extra innings (for those of you who know about the GRBL’s special rules, you may know where this story is headed). In the GRBL, the bases are automatically loaded with runners in extra innings. Two outs go up on the board. Teams battle it out shootout style in an overtime format designed to speed the game along toward a decisive outcome rather than allow an extra innings marathon to drag on into the night.
Van Gorp was called upon to pitch. In the 11th inning of the all-star game, he walked a batter with the bases loaded and the winning run in a 2-1 game came across.
Van Gorp came back with the Shockers in 2019 showing all the signs of a man who worked very hard to develop as a pitcher in the offseason. He was outspoken about wanting to make the jump from reliever to starter in the Grip’N’Rip League, and he succeeded. Van Gorp absolutely pitched his tail off for seven games. In 22 innings, he struck out 18 batters, walked eight, and conceded nine runs for a very respectable 3.68 ERA. When he was on, it was on for the Shockers, who reached the league championship game.
Van Gorp ran into trouble in the second inning of that title game, which the Henry’s Towing High Rollers won 4 – 0. He conceded three consecutive singles to Ben Hammitt, Levi Skinner, and Matt Spangler, respectively, before managing to get two outs. With two runners in scoring position, Jared Yarberry hit a decisive two-RBI single to put the High Rollers firmly in command of the game. It would be all they would need to win.
Van Gorp allowed five hits in four innings that night, but those four hits were critical. One game does not a season make, but the memories of that inning will unfairly hang around BVG for a while.
On the other side, the High Rollers pitching staff combined for 13 strikeouts and allowed just three hits over nine shutout innings. Starter Cole Roark had seven strikeouts in four innings with one hit allowed and one walk. Closer Chris Matlock came on in the eighth inning with two men on and the game-tying run in the on deck circle, only to shut down the Shockers with a five-out save.
Yankees fans should remember Art Ditmar for his key contributions to a 1958 World Series win, but some remember him more for getting shelled twice in 1960.
“Maybe I would have done better if I had pitched in those games when we scored a bunch of runs,” Ditmar is quoted as saying in the book “Yankees: Where Have You Gone?” by Maury Allen.
Maybe Ben Van Gorp would have pitched better if the Shockers would have scored some runs off of Cole Roark, Justice Boldin, Mark Blehm, and Chris Matlock on that October night in Ozark.
Though Ditmar’s career also included stops in Philadelphia and Kansas City, he was quoted to say that he still considered himself a “Yankees booster.” Statistically speaking, he never really recovered from those outings in the 1960 World Series. He faded away quickly after two more seasons.
I certainly hope that’s not the case for Ben Van Gorp in the Grip’N’Rip league. He was one of a handful of Shockers whom I actively sought out to speak with at the conclusion of their 4 – 0 loss to the High Rollers. I congratulated him on a good season, and told him I had really enjoyed watching him turn himself into a formidable starting pitcher.
I’m happy to report that I bumped into BVG in the parking lot of the Best Buy store in Springfield a couple of weeks later, and that he was in good spirits about the whole thing. I also admire Ben for giving back to the game by coaching youngsters and the 11-and-under and 10-and-under levels. He’s got a lot more playing to do before he goes the way of Art Ditmar and retires quietly to a golf course in South Carolina.
The Third Inning
E — Groat led off the inning with a stand-up double and Clemente walks to the plate. Thompson said that Clemente threw the javelin while in college, which is just further proof that kids need to cross-train no matter what sport they play. Clemente singled to left and Groat scored, the Pirates increase their lead to 3.
Roger Maris goes yard again. An upper deck blast that makes me turn down the volume from the crowds’ roar. I’d like to see Statcast on that one.
Mantle walked for the second time of the day, and Moose Skowron is up to the plate. The crowd again roars, this time with audible “Moose” calls. I’m reminded of how many times I cheered for Mike “Moose” Moustakas during the epic 2014 – 2015 seasons. I taught the Moose call to my nephew Henry, and it was the cutest thing in the world. We took videos that are saved somewhere in the cloud, which would have been unimaginable in 1960. I met Mike Moustakas in the spring of 2012, and even got a picture. Moose Skowron flied out to right, ending the inning.
R — Luis Arroyo has been throwing screwballs to left-handers. Does anyone throw a screwball anymore in a professional setting? The last pitcher who comes to mind is Yu Darvish, but I’m almost certain he doesn’t use a screwball anymore among the 87 different pitches he throws.
Yogi Berra is on the bench today for the Yankees, who have Elston Howard behind the plate and Bob Cerv in left field. Berra still gets plugged in a Gillette live read. I’ve learned that Gillette started an all-out marketing blitz called the “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports” in 1939 that was designed to make men’s razors synonymous with sport and leisure. The company purchased exclusive World Series advertising rights to the 1939 World Series for $100,000. I’ve been unable to find exactly what Gillette paid for these rights in 1960.
Rookie right-hander Bill Stafford comes on to pitch for New York after Roberto Clemente drove in Dick Groat from second base to give Pittsburgh a 4 – 1 advantage. Stafford was 22 when he made his World Series debut in this game.
Roger Maris had to have been sitting fastball as Haddix went after his with back-to-back curves. Maris got what he wanted on an upper deck homer, and “there wasn’t any doubt about it.”
Thompson wasn’t able to say much about the location of Haddix’s pitch in relation to the strike zone. I’m speculating a bit, but I’d venture to guess Haddix missed the edge of the zone slightly.
A slight hang, a slight window of opportunity was all that a player the caliber of Roger Maris would need to punish a small mistake into the upper deck. It’s a similar story to how Haddix lost his 13-inning perfect no-hitter in Milwaukee in 1959, when the Braves’ Joe Adcock took a hanging slider deep to right-center field.
The Fourth Inning
E — Chuck Thompson was the one who taught me that Harvey Haddix once pitched 12 perfect innings against Milwaukee and lost the ballgame. How did I not know about Harvey Haddix’s almost 13 innings perfect game? I spent the remainder of the game reading about The Kitten.
Haddix was a teammate of Virdon with the Cardinals during Virdon’s Rookie of the Year season in 1955. He also pitched for the Phillies and Reds before spending five seasons with the Pirates. He retired after the 1965 season where he pitched in relief for the Orioles.
His best season was in 1953 while pitching for St. Louis. He compiled a 20 – 9 record with 163 strikeouts —19 complete games and six shutouts. Haddix was a three-time All-Star as well as a three-time Gold Glove winner. His overall career numbers are impressive:
33.2 WAR / W – 136, L – 113 / ERA – 3.63.
The near-perfect game occurred on May 26, 1959 against the Milwaukee Braves. Haddix retired the first 36 hitters he faced with only 8 strikeouts. Sports Illustrated ran a feature story of the endeavor in June of 2009, and there’s so much to unpack from that tale.
Haddix didn’t pitch in an organized game of baseball until his senior year in high school. Through nine innings against one of the best teams, Haddix only threw 78 pitches. Thirty years after the game, it was revealed that the Braves, except for Aaron, had been stealing signs off of Pirates’ catcher Smoky Burgess using bullpen pitchers and a towel.
In the bottom of the 13th with no score in the game, Felix Mantilla reached on an error by third baseman Don Hoak to break up the perfecto. Eddie Matthews bunted back to Haddix, advancing Mantilla to second, who then intentionally walked Hank Aaron to set up the double play.
With two on and only one out, Joe Adcock stepped up to the plate. Chaos ensued. According to the official scorekeeper, “Double to CF (Deep CF-RF); Mantilla Scores/unER; Aaron to 3B; Adcock out at 2B/SS; Joe Adcock hit the ball into the right center stands for a homerun, but was declared out for passing Henry Aaron between 2B and 3B; Aaron thought the ball had landed inside the fence; 1B Umpire Frank Dascoli ruled the final score was 2 to 0 but was overruled by NL President Warren Giles who said that since it was only a double, then only one run was needed to win the game.”
It was the best game ever pitched in the major leagues.
R — Don Hoak leads off the fourth inning for Pittsburgh against the rookie, Bill Stafford.
When researching the life and death of Don Hoak, I also learned a good deal about a starlet named Jill Corey. Don Hoak met the actress and singer at Forbes Field during the 1960 season. Corey was reportedly the subject of some publicity photos taken at home plate one day in August, and Hoak was conducting all but business as usual with the Pirates.
So taken with the actress and singer was Hoak that he reportedly scored seats up front for her performance later that evening at a club called the Vogue Terrace. Hoak reportedly met members of Corey’s family who were there to see her sing, and Don and Jill reportedly shared their first dance.
“He held me very tightly, teased my hair and said, ‘I’m going to marry you,’” Jill Corey later recalled in an interview.
Not to mix sports analogies, but talk about “shooting your shot,” as the kids these days say on Instagram.
Don Hoak and Jill Corey would marry in Pittsburgh in December 1961. At this point in the timeline, October of 1960, Don Hoak was still doing his level best to prove himself as a suitable suitor for the nationally-famous star of screen and stage. What better way to prove yourself than by winning a World Series?
The “fiery competitor and outstanding glove man” Don Hoak hit an infield single to shortstop Tony Kubek, which ricocheted off Kubek’s shoulder before he could grab it off of one hop. Hoak was then retired at second base when Gil McDougald made a fielder’s choice throw to Bobby Richardson.
Harvey Haddix, the Ohio farm boy, worked a full count against the rookie Stafford, then Haddix grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the top half with the Pirates up 4 – 2.
Pittsburgh shortstop Dick Groat committed an error and catcher Smoky Burgess had a passed ball (his third of the series, a record at the time) in the bottom half of the inning, but Harvey Haddix got through otherwise unscathed.
The Fifth Inning
R — Jack Quinlan took over the call in the bottom of the inning, which saw Harvey Haddix get his fourth strikeout of the game against Bob Cerv to put down the Yankees. I found it interesting that Quinlan complimented Haddix’s command while also saying that many left-handers struggle to consistently hit the strike zone. I didn’t realize such trouble with command was unique to lefties of 1960.
The Sixth Inning
E — The player shares for the World Series have been determined. The winners will earn $8,500 a player; the losers $6,500. In comparison, the 2019 Washington Nationals earned $382,358.18 for their winners share. The Houston Astros, sign-stealing and all, only got $256,000.
R — Strikeout No. 5 for Harvey Haddix came against Mickey Mantle, whom we have written about extensively for absolutely tearing it up in this series. In the overall terms of the game, the strikeout didn’t come at a pivotal moment, but the psychological ramifications were likely crucial for the Pirates. Haddix slammed the door against a Yankee who has been raking all series.
Haddix then struck out Elston Howard, and “the Kitten seems to be getting stronger as the game goes on.”
Don “the Tiger” Hoak, referred to as a “demon on the base paths” worked a full count, then fouled off a 3-2 pitch to extend the plate appearance against Bill Stafford.
Hoak went down on strikes against Stafford’s curveball on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.
I promised to research whether or not Don Hoak ever became a professional baseball manager.
He did, and he was good. Upon retirement, he spent two years as a broadcaster then one year as a coach in the Philadelphia Phillies system. In 1968, Hoak managed the Salem Rebels of the Class A Carolina League to an 85-55 mark.
In 1969, Pittsburgh called up Hoak to the Triple-A Columbus Jets in the International League. They went 74-66 and lost the league championship series 4-1 to the Syracuse Chiefs.
After the 1969 season, Hoak made himself a candidate to become the next Pirates manager, and thought he was in the running. Instead, the Pirates re-hired Danny Murtaugh, the man skipping the club in this very 1960 World Series.
I found an old piece from a publication called the New York Press entitled “Belter Grins Through the Tears: The Tale of Don Hoak and Jill Corey,” from Feb. 16, 2015. The piece recounts the couple’s thoughts on the re-hiring of Murtaugh.
“Hoak couldn’t believe he’d been snubbed. Neither could Jill. She’d already put her hair up in rollers, preparing for the press conferences and waves of adoration from Pirate fans and the rest of the league,” the piece recounts.
Don Hoak found out about Murtaugh’s hiring, and his lack of a promotion, from his wife. He died the same day. Hoak reportedly witnessed his brother-in-law’s Buick Riviera get stolen, and so he jumped in a car and gave chase.
Hoak reportedly suffered a heart attack during the chase, and managed to pull over and stop before he collapsed completely. It’s estimated that Hoak was down for up to half an hour before a doctor who happened to be passing by noticed Hoak and attempted to perform cardiac massage. Hoak was rushed to a hospital, but reportedly died about 10 minutes after his arrival.
Jill Corey, now 84, maintains that her husband died over a broken heart from not being hired to skip the Pirates.
The Seventh Inning
E — The Yankee fans applauded Haddix as he comes to the plate, then beat out an infield hit for a single. Virdon followed with a double up the line sending Haddix to third, but nothing came of the two hits.
With one out in the seventh, Haddix gave up back-to-back singles to Kubek and pinch hitter Hector Lopez to put the tying runs on base. In comes, Roy Face to put out the fire. McDougald grounded out, and Maris struck out to end the inning — foiled by the forkball.
Two runs. Five hits. Six strikeouts. What a great game by Haddix in his first World Series game. In the Sports Illustrated article, he remarked that pitching and winning in the World Series was always his career highlight.
R — Hoak caught a well-hit line drive, a “screaming Mimi” lined right at him at third base to start the inning. The term “screaming Mimi” was originally slang for a type of rocket used by the German military in World War II.
The Yankees put the tying run aboard, finally getting to “the Kitten” Harvey Haddix, and here comes Roy Face from the bullpen. A feisty demand for an eight-out save would be unheard of in 2019, but it’s just another day at the office for Face.
With two men on and one out, Face got Gil McDougald to ground into a fielder’s choice, Dick Groat to Bill Mazeroski at second base. The Pirates almost turned two.
With runners at first and third, Roger Maris then fell victim to Roy Face’s forkball and struck out. The score remains 4 – 2.
The Eighth Inning
R — Jill Corey put her acting and singing career on hold while she was married to Don Hoak. After he died, Corey and the couple’s daughter, Claire, moved to New York, where the stage star returned to work both on and off Broadway.
I’ve been to some interesting places on the internet in the name of research for this series, but Jill Corey’s website is by far the most unexpected place I’ve ventured. Ethan and I have thrown ourselves back to 1960 for this World Series, but you’ll need to set your web browser back (or forward, I guess) to 1996 to really appreciate the design of this page.
Weirder still is the coincidence of the 1960 election. Without that election, there is no President JFK, and without JFK, there would likely be no disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba in 1961, a failed effort to reverse Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution.
Why am I writing about Fidel Castro? His odd connection to Don Hoak.
As recounted by Joe Guzzardi of the Society for American Baseball Research, Don Hoak played winter ball in Cuba for a club called “Cienfuegos” in the winter of 1951-1952. Hoak was then subject to a 1964 piece in Sports Magazine called, “The Day I Batted Against Castro,” and was quoted as saying that the left-handed Cuban dictator was a good pitcher who could have been great, “with a little work on his control.”
E — Berra was inserted as a pinch-hitter for Howard. What a dilemma having to choose between those two for Casey Stengel. With Mantle on first, Berra grounded out. Face is in complete control.
The Ninth Inning
E — There is another mention of Ryne Duren’s glasses, comparing him to superhero Captain Midnight. That’s the kind of nickname I want, Rance. Something that references a superhero. Not a kitten.
R — I switched from glasses back to contacts for the first time in years in the week prior to the 2019 Grip’N’Rip Baseball League championship game. It was the first time in a very long time that I opted to work a broadcast wearing contacts instead of glasses.
No one called me “El Guapo” for the effort. You can’t give yourself a nickname, Ethan, nor can you wish one upon yourself. The world is going to call you what it wants to call you. I think “Mr. Catch 365” has some staying power, but maybe you’ll pick up a new handle in 2020.
Smoky Burgess got aboard with a line drive single to left field and then an error on Bob Cerv, then Danny Murtaugh opted to send in pinch runner Joe Christopher, because as I’ve already discussed, Andy Sturgill pointed out in a Society of Baseball Research piece that “Smoky Burgess was fat.”
I still think that’s a heck of a way to lead off a biographical piece of writing, and I’m not sure if I’m amused by Sturgill, disgusted with Sturgill or a combination of the two. Whatever it is, I read that first line and then I keep reading.
Then the man of the hour, and perhaps a candidate for World Series MVP, Don Hoak singled to center field for an RBI and an insurance run.
E — The Pirates win 5 – 2 and now lead the Series 3 – 2 with an off day before returning to Pittsburgh for Game 6.