Bob Wood - The South Starrucca Ainspans and Bradenton Buckeyes entered the last day of the regular season with an identical 109 wins. No other club won more than 90 games this year. The Buckeyes sent Spec Shea to the mound to win his 20th game of the season and were elated when the four-eyed fellow became the 4th Buckeye pitcher to win 20 or more games this year. The Ainspans, meanwhile, sent Stick Fiehl to the mound to save their staff for the playoffs. While Stick pitched well, allowing just 3 earned runs in 8+ innings, the Spans lost the game, 6-3 to Ocala, finishing 1 game behind Bradenton in the overall standings. What that meant was that Bradenton would have the final at bat in the final game, if the series were to go the distance.
No one could have asked for a better match up, as the league's leading offense met the league's best pitching staff. The two clubs finished 1-2 in fielding, so little help would be expected for the offenses in that regard.
No one (else) could have asked for a better match up in the opener as South Starrucca went with Johnny Sain to face the Buckeyes' Warren Spahn. Sain finished the season with a 27-6 mark and an ERA of 2.98 after going 31-11 with a 2.81 ERA the season before. That season was the first time any TCBA pitcher had won as many as 31 times without the Norfolk home field advantage. Spahn turned in a remarkable season for Bradenton with a 34-7 record, leading the league with a 1.51 ERA and setting an all-time TCBA record for wins in a season. Spahn was 19-13 the season before, helping the Buckeyes to their 3rd TCBA title.
After a quiet first inning, Sain doubled in the Starrucca 2nd, but was thrown out at the plate by Johnny Lindell from left field. Frankie Baumholtz tripled in the Bradenton half to start the series scoring.
George Kell knotted the score with his 3rd inning SF, 1-1. Ralph Kiner attempted to give the Spans the lead in the top of the 4th, but was thrown out at the plate by 1st baseman Ferris Fain.
Bradenton missed a chance in the 6th inning when Ron Northey bounced into a double play, turned by the league's top DP combination.
In the 7th inning, catcher Clyde McCullough stroked his 2nd double of the day to put the Ainspans ahead, 2-1. Kiner homered in the 8th inning with the bases empty to make it 3-1, accenting his 59 home run regular season output. In the bottom half, Ferris Fain doubled to cancel the insurance policy, chasing Sain in favor of stopper Joe Page, he of the 26 saves and 2.03 ERA this year. But Lou Boudreau, who had doubled 60 times in the regular season, smacked a 2-bagger, scoring Fain to even the score at 3-3.
Johnny Gorsica took the mound for Bradenton in the top of the 9th, but George Kell singled home the tie-breaker with a 2-out single, scoring pinch runner Eddie Smith.
Page continued to struggle, allowing a lead off single to Hal Peck and a stolen base (on a hit & run) by pinch runner Tom McBride. Bill Rigney, who would struggle this series, flew out to shallow right field, forcing McBride to hold his station. Frankie Baumholtz popped out to Kell and Bob Scheffing bounced out to Pee Wee to end the opener.
SO 4-10-0 WP-Joe Page (1-0)
BR 3- 9-0 LP-Johnny Gorsica (0-1)
Game two matched Fred Hutchinson (25-5, 1.83) against the Whip, Ewell Blackwell (20-9, 2.11 with a league leading 211 strikeouts).
The shortstops produced the early scoring. It was Lou Boudreau with a 1st inning single for the Bucks and Pee Wee Reese with a 5th inning single for the Spans.
In the bottom of the 5th, Ron Northey broke the tie with a double and Hal Peck followed with an rbi single to give Bradenton a 3-1 lead. Tom McBride extended the advantage with a 7th inning single against reliever Hank Borowy.
That brought us to the 9th inning. Ralph Kiner led off with a walk against reliever Butch Wensloff. Babe Young pinch hit, grounding out to advance Kiner into scoring position. George Kell lined out, bringing up Aaron Robinson, who just needed to reach base to bring the tying run to the plate.
Robinson singled into right field, doing his job. The 3rd base coach held up his hands, but Ralph Kiner blew the stop sign and charged to the plate, where Jim Hegan awaited him with the ball after a perfect throw from right fielder Frankie Baumholtz. As the Millers said, "what was he thinking?"
SO 1- 4-1 LP-Fred Hutchinson (0-1)
BR 4-10-1 WP-Ewell Blackwell (1-0) SV-Butch Wensloff #1
So the series shifted to South Starrucca, with the series tied at one win apiece. The Ainspans were a league best 58-19 at home while Bradenton was a league best 55-22 on the road.
Bradenton asked southpaw Joe Hatten (21-6, 2.55) to toe the rubber against Danny Galehouse (15-5, 2.75) of the Ainspans.
With 2 on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 1st inning, George Kell singled into right field. Pete Reiser easily scored - and here came Ralph Kiner from 2nd base. Once again Frankie Baumholtz threw the big slugger out from right field (!) although this time Ralph didn't run a red light.
That remained the only run of the game until Bob Scheffing led off the top of the 7th inning with a home run to tie the score.
It was still 1-1 when we went into the bottom of the 9th inning. With Gordon Maltzberger pitching in relief, Danny Litwhiler drew a 1-out walk. George Case came in to pinch run while hot-hitting Clyde McCullough stepped to the plate. With Case on the move, McCullough slapped a ball to the left side. Lou Boudreau made a back hand stop and threw to 1st base, but the throw was late. McCullough, nevertheless, crashed into Ferris Fain, knocking him out of the game and allowing Case to race to 3rd base. Fain (3 days) might be done for the season for Bradenton, but the bigger problem were the runners on the corners with only one out.
Aaron Robinson was sent to the plate to bat for Jerry Priddy, hitless so far in the series. Maltzberger elected to walk the left hander intentionally, loading the bases for the pitcher's spot. Galehouse, who pitched a whale of a game, was replaced by Babe Young. Bradenton pulled in, not wanting to gamble on a GDP. Ernie makes the call:
YOUNG slaps it on the ground to right ... this one has eyes
it slides right between RIGNEY and HITCHCOCK ... he couldn't have thrown it in a better spot
it's all over! ... CASE scores
BR 1-8-1 LP-Gordon Maltzberger (0-1)
SO 2-5-0 WP-Danny Galehouse (1-0) 1 out run scored
Game four would be a rematch of Spahn and Sain. Knowing there would be no rain, the Bucks quickly took the lead on a 1st inning single by Lou Boudreau. In the 3rd inning, Bradenton got a couple of cheap runs on an Northey ground out and a squeeze bunt that was mishandled by McCullough (sac + E2)
Dave Philley tried to keep it close in the 7th, throwing Billy Hitchcock out at the plate from right field, but Frankie Baumholtz doubled to make it 4-0
In their last attack, Aaron Robinson doubled with 1 out for the Spans, but Reiser and Philley failed, once again evening the series, now tied at two wins apiece.
BR 4-7-0 WP-Warren Spahn (1-0)
SO 0-5-2 LP-Johnny Sain (0-1)
This would be the final game of the series in South Starrucca. No matter what happened today, the series would be decided in Bradenton. Ewell Blackwell and Fred Hutchinson would help determine which club would take the advantage with them to Shaffer Stadium.
Ron Northey hit a 2-run home run in the Buckeye 1st inning. Bob Dillinger singled home Buckeyes in the 2nd and 4th innings to stretch the lead to 4-0.
Babe Young's pinch hit ground out put the Ainspans on the score board in the 5th inning before Dillinger drove in another run with his 6th inning SF, 5-1.
Marty told Hutchinson that if the Spans could score in the bottom of the 6th that he could continue to pitch. Hutch took him seriously, beating out an infield roller to drive in a run, 5-2. Encouraged, George Kell singled to make it 5-3. Dave Philley then split the gap with a 2-run double to tie the score before Blackwell finally got out of the inning.
Bob Dillinger led off the top of the 9th inning with his 3rd hit of the day, chasing Hutch in favor of Joe Page. Frankie Baumholtz advanced Dillinger into scoring position with a ground out on a hit & run play, but Page fanned Lou Boudreau. With 2 outs, Johnny Lindell doubled to break the tie. Page intentionally walked pinch hitter Joe Medwick to face Bill Rigney, still hitless for the series, retiring Rigs on a fly to center field.
Butch Wensloff took the mound for the Buckeyes, dispatching Dave Philley and pinch hitter Danny Litwhiler. But nothing is easy in this series. Pee Wee Reese singled, fatiguing Wensloff. F-17 Eddie Smith ran for Pee Wee at 1st base while lefthander Clyde Shoun took his warm up tosses before facing the left handed hitting Pete Reiser. But, wait. Clyde McCullough, a right handed hitter, batting .400 in the series, was sent to the plate to hit for Pistol Pete. Shoun didn't fool him, but Bob Dillinger's glove was right where it had to be to snag the game ending line drive.
BR 6-11-2 WP-Johnny Gorsica (1-1) SV-Clyde Shoun #1
SO 5- 7-2 LP-Fred Hutchinson (0-2)
Back we went to Shaffer Stadium where Hank Borowy (6-7, 3.48) would face Specs Shea (20-6, 1.91) in a must-win game for South Starrucca.
Dave Philley was thrown out by Johnny Lindell in the 2nd inning from left field, trying to stretch a single into extra bases.
South Starrucca finally broke through in the 4th inning when George Kell singled, 1-0, and Jerry Priddy hit a SF, 2-0.
Borowy had no more serious challenges until Lou Boudreau doubled with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th. Borowy fanned Northey on a change up, then retired Johnny Lindell on a ground out to short, setting up the rubber game.
SO 2-8-0 WP-Hank Borowy (1-0)
BR 0-5-1 LP-Specs Shea (0-1)
What better way to end the series than with yet another Sain-Spahn matchup?
Ralph Kiner, hitting a buck-fifty for the series, opened the scoring with a 1st inning rbi single.
In the top of the 7th, everyone held their breath as the Bradenton trainer went to the mound to visit Warren Spahn. After a short delay, Spahn remained in the game and threw one more shutout inning, but Pee Wee Reese led off the Span 8th inning with an insurance homer, 2-0.
Bradenton hit for Spahn in the bottom of a scoreless 8th inning, and sent Joe Hatten to the mound to pitch the 9th. With 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, Hatten elected to walk Clyde McCullough to face Jerry Priddy to the plate. Priddy was still hitless in the series, but broke that pattern with an rbi single to make it 3-0.
Bradenton was down to their last 3 outs against Johnny Sain.
Sain fanned Bob Dillinger before Ferris Fain, back from his 3-game injury, doubled. That just made the Priddy rbi look that much bigger.
Lou Boudreau lined out to Kiner in LF, putting the Spans one out from advancing to the World Series.
Ron Northey patiently coaxed a walk from the big right hander, bringing the tying run to the plate.
With his next pitch, Sain plunked Johnny Lindell on the shoulder, loading the bases for Baumholtz.
Marty went to the mound, patted Sain on the rump, and signalled to the bullpen for southpaw Joe Page to face the left handed hitter.
Baumholtz drilled the first pitch into the right field gap, but Dave Philley quickly cut it off, allowing the runners, who were taking no chances, to advance only one base, 3-1. Oh to have that Priddy single back now.....
And who should step to the plate but Bill Rigney, who like Priddy, had gone hitless in the first six games of the series. Rigs had singled in the 2nd inning against Sain and had led Bradenton with 102 rbi in the regular season.
Here's Ernie's call:
* B. RIGNEY facing J. PAGE, B 9th, 2 Outs, Bases Loaded, Behind 1-3
The runners take their lead ... PAGE delivers ... base hit right field ... PHILLEY is after it
he cuts it off deep in the gap ... NORTHEY scores ... LINDELL is well around third
BAUMHOLTZ is around second
TRY TO SCORE? (1-yes, 2-no*)
they're waving LINDELL in
TRY FOR THIRD ALSO? (1-yes, 2-no*)
they're sending BAUMHOLTZ to third also
THROW HOME OR TO THIRD?
(1-home, 2-third, 3-no throw*)
LINDELL scores ... BAUMHOLTZ makes third ... as the throw comes in to PRIDDY
so the South Starrucca defenses have been breached ... the winning run is now on third base
Ainspans 3, Buckeyes 3
With runners on the corners, Bob Scheffing stepped into the box.
* B. SCHEFFING facing J. PAGE, B 9th, 2 Outs, 1st and 3rd, Tied 3-3
BAUMHOLTZ alert at third ... he comes home ... SCHEFFING rips it down the left field line
fair ball! ... it's all over ... BAUMHOLTZ crosses the plate
SO 3-8-1 LP-Joe Page (1-1)
BR 4-8-1 WP-Joe Hatten (1-0) 2 outs runs scored
What a difference that 27th out made ....
Bradenton just edged South Starrucca at the wire to advance to the World Series. They outhit the Spans 250/300/341 to 207/278/282 and had a 2.45 ERA to the 2.92 of the Ainspans. Both clubs hit just two home runs apiece. The teams fielded an identical .978 with six errors apiece, although South Starrucca turned 7 double plays compared to only three by Bradenton
Hank Borowy, with 11 shutout innings, was the most successful on the mound. George Kell and Bob Dillinger led their teams with 9 hits apiece. Kell had a series best 5 rbi.
So many hitters struggled. Earl Torgeson went 1-for-26 (.038) for South Starrucca. Jerry Priddy went 1 for 19 (.053). Ralph Kiner hit only 1 home run, driving in just 2 runs in a 4-for-24 (.167) performance. Pete Reiser went 3-for-23 (.130). Dave Philley went 4-for-22 (.180)
Bill Rigney went 2-for-25 for Bradenton (.080) but made the most of his 2nd one to tie the game in the final 9th inning.
Thanks Marty for being such a wonderful sport and for sharing four truly entertaining hours in such a closely contested series. Such a hard luck final inning was a terrible way to end a marvelous season.
Marty Fiehl –
There is no doubt it was one of the best played, most enjoyable, playoff series I have ever played.
Both squads had their ‘single player moments’, where someone would lead their respective team to victory, along with some unique play results, like the Starrucca catcher running into and injuring the Buckeye firstbaseman on a hit and run play.
Bradenton came back from this, and had a couple other players step in and cover for Fain.
Also of note, I don’t recall either of us getting frustrated with one of those ‘Miller Plays’ where the ball is hammered over the outfielder who dives, catches it, and throws out the runner.
Pretty much all the plays were ‘clean’, and neither of us made any obvious errors in the managing, either that we ‘took advantage of a mental mistake by our opposite field general, nor made ourselves.
But the highlight was definitely, the Game 7, NINTH inning, TWO out rally, where the Buckeyes just REFUSED to let Relief Ace Joe Page (18*) get them out before they could score FOUR come-from-behind runs and get the WIN, catapulting Bradenton into the Championship series vs Mimosa or Chesepeake!
Both teams left it all on the field, no resource unused, and no regrets on either squad!
This was the best we can play, and we got bested by the team that was just a smidge better than us during the season, and now in the playoffs also.
We kept up with Bradenton for 188 outs.
It was that 189th that was the pisser! :-0
Only thing today that can best the enjoyment I had with Woody for four hours rattling our sabers……..is finding out the wife picked the correct Power Ball numbers tonight!
Congrats to the Buckeyes and good luck in the Championship series!
Marty Fiehl (in a letter to Bob Wood the next day) –
……woke up this morning after having this strange dream.
Dreamt we were playing the Yesterday Semi Final Playoff, it was the 7th game, Starrucca went into the 9th with a 3-0 lead, and Sain gets the 1st out to start the inning.
With the champagne being placed on the tables in the Span locker room, and the chewing “tobackey” distributed to the Span lockers……security guards were starting to rim the perimeter to control the crowds.
Joe Page started the inning getting loose in the bullpen, just in case, and we knew it was just a matter of two more outs before the celebration commenced.
At that point, I must have drifted into a deeper REM sleep as I kind of blacked out.
Next thing I knew, the wife was shaking me awake as I was screaming something, and all I could remember was a brief vision of Joe Page walking off the mound with his head pointed dejectedly towards the ground……and the Bradenton fans jumping around, running, fist bumping, and cavorting with total elation.
Don’t know what it all means……….but are you available to start our series today?
Steve Lyon -
The Semi-Finals: Mimosa and Chesapeake faced off with identical 89 win seasons.
Game 1 - Dutch Leonard vs. Murray Dickson
Bob Wood –
The Chesapeake Regnads (89-65) and Bradenton Buckeyes (110-44) were both coming off exciting 7-game playoff wins. The Buckeyes, who had won 5 of 8 games between the teams this season, would be the favorites in this World Series, and would open the set in Shaffer Stadium with lefthander Joe Hatten (21-6, 2.55) on the mound against Don Black (12-5, 3.11) of Chesapeake.
The stands were filled beyond capacity as Gerry Hobbs, Marty Fiehl and Bob Braun joined the festivities via TV11 (Team Viewer)
Johnny Lindell, who homered six times in the regular season, started the scoring with a 2nd inning solo home run for Bradenton. The leading Buckeye home run hitter and rbi man (26, 102) Bill Rigney was lost for the series when Black busted him with a 6th inning fastball.
One of the things that had helped both these teams was a pre-season trade between them that had sent Ferris Fain to Bradenton and Sam Mele to Chesapeake.
Fain, the Big Bopper for Bradenton this year (329/441/472) tried to extend the lead in the 7th inning, but was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Willard Marshall.
Inspired, Mele (309/379/427) punished his former mates in the top of the 8th with a 2-run home run to give the Regnads a 2-1 lead.
Ken Trinkle took the mound for Chesapeake in the home half of the frame, only to surrender a pinch hit rbi single to Cookie Lavagetto that tied the score, 2-2.
Lanfranconi relieved to shut the door, leaving the clubs tied after eight innings.
Clyde Shoun relieved for Bradenton in the top of the 9th, but failed to retire either of the two left handers he faced. Butch Wensloff relieved, allowing an rbi single to Ray Mueller that put Chesapeake ahead, 3-2. Pinch hitter Stan Hack grounded out, but drove in an insurance run in the process, 4-2. Gordon Maltzberger got the final out for Bradenton.
Tiny Bonham took the mound to hold the Regnad lead, but was chased when Johnny Lindell singled to cut the lead to 4-3.
Russ Meers relieved and got one out before walking Bob Dillinger to load the bases for Woody Wood.
Tom Ferrick relieved.
With the game on the line, Bradenton asked the tired Ron Northey (337/412/538) to pinch hit for Woody (262/392/333) who was playing for the injured Rigney.
Ernie describes the action:
* R. NORTHEY facing T. FERRICK, B 9th, 2 Outs, Bases Loaded, Behind
So, for the second straight day, the Buckeyes came from behind with two outs in the 9th inning to pull out a victory in front of the Shaffer Stadium crowd.
CH 4- 9-0 LP-Tiny Bonham (0-1)
BR 5-12-0 WP-Gordon Maltzberger (1-0) 2 outs run scored
The Regnads gave the ball to their ace, Dutch Leonard (19-7, 2.06) to even the series against the Whip, Ewell Blackwell (20-9, 2.11), who had led the league with 211 strikeouts.
Chesapeake opened the game with three straight base hits, scoring on Jackie Robinson's single, but conservatively scored just the one run.
Ron Northey, available today after his clutch game winning hit yesterday, succeeded in tying the game with a ground ball double play.
No one else scored until the 6th inning when Eddie Mayo beat out a potential GDP to break the tie. Terry Moore delivered a clutch 2-run single to give Chesapeake's ace a 4-1 advantage.
Frankie Baumholtz took advantage of a Regnad error to close the gap with a SF in the home half of the 6th, 4-2. With two on and two outs, the Buckeyes asked Ducky Joe Medwick to hit for Bob Scheffing.
Ducky delivered a 2-run double, tying the game. Walks to Lavagetto and Billy Hitchcock loaded the bases for Blackwell.
Bradenton sent Bob Dillinger to the plate.
Chesapeake sent LanFranconi to the mound.
The home plate umpire sent Dillinger to 1st base when he called Ball Four, forcing in the go-ahead run, 5-4.
Johnny Gorsica held the Regnads scoreless in the 7th, and again in the 8th. In the home half, Dillinger again victimized LanFranconi, this time with an rbi single, 6-4. Ken Trinkle relieved, only to serve up an rbi double to ex-Regnad Ferris Fain, which closed out the scoring today.
CH 4-8-1 LP-Dutch Leonard (0-1)
BR 7-8-1 WP-Ewell Blackwell (1-0) SV-Johnny Gorsica #1
The series shifted to Chesapeake and the Regnads hoped for a momentum shift as well, sending Early Wynn (11-11, 2.92) to the mound against Buckeye Specs Shea (20-6, 1.91)
Trying to make something happen, the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto, attempted a steal of home in the bottom of the 1st with Willard Marshall at bat. The diminutive shortstop was called out on the tag.
Wynn, who said he would throw at his grandmother, had no problems plunking Billy Hitchcock (1 day) in the top of the 2nd inning. With Rigney's previous injury, that put the last Buckeye 2nd baseman, Woody Wood, into the game.
Wynn wasn't the only Regnad throwing hard. Willard Marshall ended the inning with a strike, 7-2, to double Ron Northey at the plate from left field.
Baseball's a funny game. Who would be the most unlikely player to break the scoreless tie?
Probably substitute Woody Wood. In any event, Woody singled in the top of the 4th to plate Bradenton's first run.
Chesapeake quickly rallied, placing runners on 1st and 2nd when old Lou Boudreau surprised Elmer Valo with a pick off at 2nd base.
The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto, attempting to turn a double play on a Woody Wood bunt in the 6th inning, threw the relay into the stands, scoring a 2nd Buckeye run. Specs Shea then stunned the Scooter and associates, with an rbi double, 3-0.
Russ Meers relieved, only to serve up an rbi double to Ferris Fain, 4-0.
Jackie Robinson singled in the bottom of the 6th inning to put Chesapeake in the scoring column, but the Regnads missed a big chance, stranding two more runners in scoring position.
That would be their last, good chance today, putting their backs against the wall for Game Four.
BR 4-11-1 WP-Specs Shea (1-0)
CH 1- 7-1 LP-Early Wynn (0-1)
The last Regnad hope would ride upon the arm of Vic Lombardi (17-4, 2.01) while Bradenton gave the ball to Warren Spahn (34-7, 1.51) who had led the league in wins and ERA this year.
Ferris Fain quickly put the Regnads behind the 8-ball with a 2-run 1st inning double.
After that, the scoreboard simply added goose egg after goose egg.
In the top of the 8th, Chesapeake had to relieve a fatigued Lombardi. Lanfrancini's first pitch was ripped for an rbi double by Jim Hegan to make it 3-0.
Butch Wensloff took the mound for Bradenton in the top of the 9th, insuring that Warren Spahn would be ready to pitch a 7th game if needed.
Spider Jorgenson, Willard Marshall and Elmer Valo came up empty, sending the Buckeyes to the clubhouse for a champagne shower.
BR 3-9-1 WP-Warren Spahn (1-0) SV-Butch Wensloff #1
CH 0-3-0 LP-Vic Lombardi (0-1)
The Regnads just couldn't catch a good break today, cutting short a well-deserved celebration of a classic victory over Mimosa.
The victory made it back-to-back championships for Bradenton, their 4th title in TCBA Yesterday.
Thanks Steve, for being such a determined, albeit unlucky, competitor. Bradenton's staff limited the Regnads to just 9 runs and 27 hits in the 4 game series while the Buckeyes scored 19 times on 40 hits, the most important being the 3 runs in the 9th inning of the opener and the 5 runs in the 6th inning of game two.