Games of Note: October 2, 1949, the Red Sox and Yankees are tied atop the American League. The two clubs are vying for the pennant with one game to go, and are facing off against each other. Boston lost to the Yankees in the prior game to allow the Bombers to tie things up, and on this day, nothing is different. New York defeats Boston and earns the AL pennant, thanks to Vic Raschi scattering three runs despite 10 baserunners in nine innings. Ellis Kinder's much better start is wasted -- Kinder went seven, but held the Yanks to one run while striking out five -- thanks to Mel Parnell and Tex Hughson. Parnell didn't record an out, giving up a homer in relief, while Hughson pitched an inning, but not before allowing the Yankees to score three times.
To pile on top of this, Ted Williams goes 0-for-2 with two walks on the day. This leaves him with a .3427 batting average -- the extra decimal place is important, because George Kell hits .3249, taking the batting title, and keeping Williams from the Triple Crown.
Skipping ahead nearly 30 years brings us to another Red Sox/Yankees match-up to end the year. Just like in 1949, the 1978 showdown doesn't end well for Boston. This time, it's game 163, a one-game playoff forced by a tie. The Yankees were down to the Red Sox in the seventh, with starter Mike Torrez still on the mound for Boston. Shortstop Bucky Dent, the team's number nine hitter and owner of one 1979 homer, smacked a three-run job over the Monster in left to give the Yankees the lead. They would not surrender it, and New York would win, 5-4, winning the American League East.
This season is a reminder of why the wild cards are a positive, by the way. The 1978 Red Sox won 99 games, and didn't make the playoffs. Not a single team in 2012 can win 99 games this year.
It's not the Red Sox, but on this day in 1974, Hank Aaron hits his final home run as an Atlanta Brave. It's also the last time in the 40-year-old's career that he'll hit 20 homers. At this point, he's already the all-time leader for career homers with 733, and will add another 22 to that total over the next two years with Milwaukee.
Transactions: In 1962, the Red Sox release Billy Gardner. Gardner had begun his pro career back at the tail-end of World War II, and had played with the Giants, Orioles, Senators, Twins, and Yankees before coming to the Red Sox. He would play just two seasons with Boston, playing in 89 games while hitting well below the league average (61 OPS+). The 35-year-old Gardner would see his major-league career end after this release, but he ended up catching back on with the Sox organization the next year, playing in the minors on-and-off until 1971.
The Red Sox select San Diego Padres reliever Jason Shiell off of waivers on this day in 2002. Shiell would pitch with the Red Sox for just one season, in 2003, posting a 102 ERA+ in 23-1/3 innings of relief work. Offense was a lot different even 10 seasons ago, as Shiell's actual ERA was 4.63 -- that was above-average at the time, amazingly.
Birthdays: Former Red Sox reliever Scott Schoeneweis turns 39 years old today. The lefty pitched for Boston in 2010, the final season of his major-league career. After posting a 7.90 ERA, he called it quits.
Former Red Sox pitcher Earl Wilson would be 78 years old today, had he not passed away in 2005 due to a heart attack. Wilson, who missed the 1957 and 1958 seasons due to military service, was the first black pitcher in Red Sox history. He debuted in 1959, and in an 11-year career, pitched for the Red Sox for seven seasons. Wilson was essentially an average pitcher, but from 1962 through 1966 (the year he was dealt to the Tigers mid-season), he averaged 220 innings per year with a 100 ERA+, striking out nearly twice as many batters as he walked. He was also a serious threat at the plate in this time before the designated hitter, hitting 35 homers. From the time Wilson became a full-time starter in 1962 through the end of his career in 1970, no other pitcher even hit 20 homers, with second belonging to Gary Peters and his 16 bombs:
|8||Blue Moon Odom||9||1964||1970||307||7||1||27||16||105||.225||.273||.356||.629|
Wilson hit a single homer while playing for the Padres in 1970, giving him homers in each league. There would not be another pitcher to pull this off until CC Sabathia managed the feat in 2008 while playing for the Indians and Brewers.
Wilson was part of the World Series-winning 1968 Detroit Tigers, in what was one of his strongest campaigns. He struggled in his one World Series appearance, but the Tigers would win in seven games anyway.