History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Friday, May 26, 2017

John Klippstein, the "other" fab reliever w/ 1965 Twins

John Klippstein
We remember Al Worthington as the bulwark reliever for those grand and glorious mid-1960s Minnesota Twins. It was a time when the Twins themselves were a bright and shiny novelty. As recently as 1960 we weren't even big league.
Worthington seemed like a stable, reliable uncle or father figure for us youthful boomers who were transfixed by the Twins. The P.A. announcer trumpeted "Alan Worthington" when the money reliever strode out to the mound.
There was another reliever with those Twins who was mighty reliable as well. How can you forget a name like "John Klippstein?" Klippstein was arguably just as effective as Worthington when at his best.
I was ten years old when the Twins won the pennant in 1965. "Transfixed" hardly says it all. I'm sure all Twins fans my age remember the name Klippstein. He was already an old-timer by the time the pennant campaign unfolded. His first big league training camp was way back in 1950. He went through a typically complicated baseball journey with its ups and downs, until destiny assigned him to our history-making, pennant-winning Minnesota Twins.
We almost had to pinch ourselves to see if we were dreaming. Not only were we on top of the American League, we had displaced the fabled New York Yankees. There was an air of defensiveness to it - remember? - as if we were concerned the broad public and East coast-centered media wouldn't really accept us. A residue of that was even apparent in the 1987 and 1991 championship campaigns. We resented that announcer who kept referring to our stadium as the "homer dome," a designation that seemed to cheapen our home runs. As if East coast ballparks like Fenway couldn't be criticized on aesthetic or quality grounds. We were on the Midwest prairie.
Today I think the old biases are really, truly gone. Hallelujah.
 
In Philly before Minny

Klippstein joined his sixth team in six years when the Phillies purchased his contract from the Reds during spring training in 1963. Now a relief specialist, Klippstein was 35 years old. Used exclusively as a reliever, Klippstein blossomed with his best season. He appeared in 49 games with the Phillies, tossing 112 innings and polishing a superb 1.93 ERA. He had the stamina of a long reliever as on five occasions, he pitched at least six innings. He regretted not having been made into a relief specialist earlier.
I seem to recall that in the early '60s, relievers did not have particularly high status. Pitchers of marginal ability seemed to be assigned "the bullpen." It was an age when "complete games" were sought by starting pitchers as a badge of quality. Had the term "pitch count" even been coined yet? Managers seemed downright ignorant of how extended pitching stints could damage a pitching arm. It's 180 degrees the opposite of today, where a pitcher can be removed from a game based on "pitch count" even if he has a no-hitter going.
Klippstein was in fact famous for having been removed from a game once when he had given up no hits. He was with Cincinnati in 1956. He had this no-hitter going against Milwaukee. He left the game for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. His replacements continued the no-hitter into the tenth inning!
An asterisk should be attached to Klippstein's performance that day. Yes he allowed no hits but he walked eight. Throughout his career, Klippstein had to battle control issues. The Reds lost the game 2-1. Frank Torre, brother of Joe, hit a two-run single for the Braves.
 
Putting on the Twins cap
In 1965 with our storied Minnesota Twins of that season, Klippstein threw eight and two-thirds innings of hitless relief over a span of three appearances. Klippstein joined our Minnesota crew in 1964. It was a strange season because on paper, we seemed quite impressive with the power merchants of that era doing their thing. Our pitching even seemed decent but we finished in a tie for sixth.
Manager Sam Mele went to work trying to incorporate more speed and opportunism for the Twins of '65. Pitching coach Johnny Sain taught "spin ballistics" to his pitchers.
Klippstein had a reputation of not needing much warm-up time. He established a pattern when he was at his best of appearing three times a week for just a few innings. He was one of the few Twins with prior World Series experience. He pitched two scoreless innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1959 Series. He along with fellow Twins Jim Grant and Jim Perry had all been members of the 1960 Cleveland Indians.
Klippstein came to the Twins partly because of the friendship between our owner Calvin Griffith and Philadelphia general manager John Quinn. Griffith felt rather starved for quality relief pitching at the time. Worthington was a rock but we needed more. Klippstein had a fluid pitching delivery.
Game 7 of the '65 World Series broke our hearts because Sandy Koufax was out on the mound for L.A., appearing indomitable. Klippstein pitched one and two-thirds innings for us in that game. He struck out two batters, walked one and gave up two hits and no runs.
One might suggest he was fortunate being at the pinnacle of the World Series. The down notes in his career, coupled with his control issues, could have removed him from the bigs permanently, one might suggest. He was claimed by the new Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft, after Griffith announced the move of the old Senators to Minnesota. The new Senators were convinced that Klippstein would be part of a premier relief staff. Alas, the Senators got mired in losing and finished 61-100. Klippsetin struggled with control and had a horrible ERA of 6.78. He led the league with ten wild pitches.
At season's end he got traded back to Cincinnati. Cincinnati put him to work as a starter seven times.
Here's a gem of a memory: Klippstein comes in from the bullpen to take over for Bob Purkey in the eleventh inning. There was a 0-0 stalemate vs. the new Houston Colt .45s at Colt Stadium. The Colts would become the Astros. Jim Bouton recalled of the original Colt .45s ballpark: "Look out for snakes." Bouton wrote the seminal "Ball Four." Bring on the top of the 13th inning. Here Klippstein brings his bat to the plate. Hey, he hits his fifth career home run! It was a solo job and then he went back to the mound to hurl his third consecutive scoreless inning. The Reds won 1-0. He looked to Houston third baseman Bob Aspromonte as he circled the bases on the home run, and said to him: "If you think you're surprised, imagine how I feel."
So, Klippstein came on board with the Phillies in the spring of '63
. He established himself as one of those wise graybeard relief pitchers. He showed the kind of moxie that would be evident with our 1965 pennant-winner in Minnesota.
In between we had the 1964 season, quite notable for the Phillies as they experienced the worst collapse in baseball history - perhaps all of pro sports history - under manager Gene Mauch. Klippstein might have saved the Phillies. But his standing didn't seem good with manager Mauch, a manager I never really liked. He platooned too much.
Philadelphia
acquired reliever Ed Roebuck who got more favored, it seemed. Klippstein was used little over the first 61 games. Cal McLish returned from injury in June. McLish and Mauch were tight. Klippstein got waived. Philadelphia was in first place with a 38-23 record at the time. How their fortunes would change.
 
Microscopic ERA with the Twins 
Klippstein was relieved from being part of the absolutely epic collapse. Instead he began developing his Twins resume. He impressed our skipper Sam Mele by posting a 1.97 ERA over 33 appearances in three months.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Roebuck and closer Jack Baldschun did not pitch as well. Mauch had a snakebit fate that would follow him. Supporters would argue that he could make marginal talent competitive. I don't know. I remember when our Lyman Bostock, a spectacular young hitter, was sat down one day for platoon reasons - a lefty was pitching - and he publicly complained. Would Kirby Puckett have been platooned by Mauch after his first 0-for-4 day against a righthanded pitcher? Maybe Mauch was actually overrated.
Phillies
fans might wonder what Klippstein's presence might have meant for them in '64, when it seemed they all but had the pennant wrapped up. They fizzled while St. Louis and Lou Brock climbed to the top. St. Louis beat the Yankees in the Series.
Pitching coach Sain taught Klippsetin a "quick-pitch curve" with the Twins. It's a slider that drops. Klippstein formed a tandem with that "father figure" Worthington to excel with a surging Minnesota team.
(Note: Players who seemed old in my youth still seem old in my mind today, now when I'm 62!)
Klippstein fashioned a 2.24 ERA in 56 appearances with the 1965 Twins. In the World Series he pitched a scoreless inning in Game 3, then came on for Game 7 again, but unfortunately we didn't have the run-scoring to win. Koufax pitched a three-hitter in Game 7. Klippstein capped off a stretch of 23 consecutive appearances dating from August 1 in which he did not give up a single run. Klippstein was at his professional peak. Henceforth he showed those inevitable signs of decline. He felt he wasn't used enough with the 1966 Twins. He got a contract with Detroit in 1967 but got released in May.
The Klipper's career spanned 18 years in which he wore the uniforms of eight major league teams. His career ERA was 4.24. Looking back, he said he experimented too much with offbeat pitches (e.g. the "knuckle scrooge"). It might have been better to just stick with the fastball, he felt. Today he might seem perfectly suited for a role as closer. His ability to warm up quickly was a real plus. He golfed and enjoyed reading mysteries.
Klippstein
left us for that bullpen in the sky in 2003 at age 76. He was a much-liked ballplayer on a personal level. We are thankful he devoted some of his best efforts as a Minnesota Twin. Let's raise a toast in memory of John Klippstein.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dietz and Gibson sock homers in 3-1 road triumph

Tigers 3, Minnewaska Area 1
Home runs were a factor in the MACA girls' success vs. Minnewaska Area. The Tigers faced pitcher Morgan Hess who recently tossed a no-hitter against Montevideo. You'll recall that Monte was the team that made waves by forfeiting a game recently as a protest gesture. The Tigers were the recipient of that forfeit win.
Against Minnewaska we had to take the field and work to overcome a prime opposing pitcher, Hess. We won 3-1 at 'Waska on the strength of home runs. Liz Dietz homered in the first inning. Piper Gibson polished things off with a homer in the seventh. Both teams are highly regarded in Class AA circles.
The game was played on May 15.
Brooke Gillespie was the pitcher who dueled with 'Waska's Hess. Both pitchers had a complete game. Gillespie got the 'W' next to her name as she struck out three batters, walked three and allowed six hits and one run (earned). Hess sat down five Tiger batters on strikes. The Laker walked three batters and gave up six hits and three runs (two earned).
The lone 'Waska run came home in the third. We scored one run in the first inning and two in the seventh. Each team had six hits. Each team had one error. Gibson had two RBIs with her homer. Dietz got the other RBI with her round-tripper. Other Tigers hitting safely were Gillespie, Ashley Solvie, Emma Bowman and Kalley Hottovy.
Hess had a two-for-four line for Minnewaska. Bayley Pooler had a hit and a run scored. Carley Stewart doubled and drove in a run. Alisha Vigil and Rachel Erickson each had a hit.
 
Minnewaska 4, Tigers 3
Another recent contest vs. Minnewaska had the Lakers edging the Tigers 4-3. 'Waska got the four runs it needed in the first two innings: one in the first and three in the second. Our pitcher Ashley Solvie kept the Lakers scoreless after that. The MACA bats couldn't keep up, though, even though we rallied for two runs in the fourth and one in the seventh. We scored our three runs on five hits and committed one error. The 'Waska line score was 4-8-0.
'Waska coach Steve Hoffmann got his 500th career win as a result of this success. The game was played on May 16.
Brooke Gillespie of the Tigers made things interesting with a two-run home run in the fourth inning. We shaved the margin to one run in the seventh. But 'Waska pitcher Rachel Erickson was able to shut the door, completing a complete game. Erickson struck out two batters, was superb with her control - zero walks - and gave up five hits and three runs (earned). Our Ashley Solvie struck out three batters and walked one in her seven innings. 'Waska got to her for eight hits and the four runs, three earned.
Gillespie's homer was part of a two-for-three line and she drove in two runs. Piper Gibson, Bailey Marty and Emma Bowman each went one-for-three. Ashley Blom doubled for the Lakers. Morgan Hess had two hits in three at-bats. Bayley Pooler had a two-for-four showing. Alisha Vigil and Erickson each went one-for-three.
 
All the news that's fit?
The news is just hitting me this morning: the apparent imminent closure of the Hancock Record newspaper. We're expected to buy the propaganda from newspaper ownership, non-local, that somehow this is a forward-looking move: consolidation, shrinkage etc. It's in line with the meme that the print media overall are in decline.
If you accept that premise, do one little favor for me: stop supporting those "sucker ads" in the Morris paper. You know, those spreads where some sort of salute is expressed to something and then you see a list of businesses on the page. Knock it off. Buy advertising only with the purpose of informing the public of your goods and services. It is asinine to "subsidize" the Fargo-owned local print media. The bean counters in Fargo are cynically manipulating things here to maximize profit in the short term, largely by cutting. Don't you see this? It's called "harvesting" in the business world.
Let's optimize our online resources for communications and marketing. We're in the year 2017.
It is a very sad end to an era with the closure of the Hancock paper. Forum Communications kept slapping people in the face, first closing the newspaper office there, then putting an apparent squeeze on beloved editor Katie Erdman, inducing her to write a cryptic column of resignation where it was clear she felt uncomfortable. I think the Forum wanted Katie gone before the announcement was made of the closure. She would not have stood idly by for this.
I produced the sports section for the Hancock Record for something like 15 years, 52 weeks a year actually. I hope I left a valuable legacy. Maybe Katie could be honored as grand marshal for the Hancock Fourth of July parade. I'll risk sounding vain to say I could sit beside her. I worked countless hours producing Hancock High School sports material, not just for the Hancock paper but for Morris.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monte's Kilibarda at the fore in win over Tigers

Montevideo 15, Tigers 6
Montevideo attacked early and often in a baseball triumph over our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers. Derek Kilibarda was a prime contributor for the victor, both at bat and on the mound. Kilibarda was a perfect two-for-two as he socked a double and triple. He accumulated five RBIs and scored three runs.
Blaine Sederstrom had a hit along with two RBIs and two runs scored. Ian Jahn went one-for-three with an RBI and run scored. Jackson Snell stoked the Thunder Hawk offense with three hits in four at-bats, and he drove in two runs. Noah Buseman had two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Isaiah Edmunds had a hit and two runs scored. Seth Kuno went one-for-three with a run. Christian Kanten had a hit plus he crossed home plate four times.
Kilibarda was the winning pitcher with four and two-thirds innings worked, in which this Thunder Hawk struck out six batters, walked four and gave up four hits and six runs (just three earned). Jake Mundt pitched two and a third innings for the victor. Mundt fanned four batters, walked four and gave up no hits or runs.
The line scores were 15-12-5 for Monte and 6-4-4 for MACA.
Our Toby Sayles' bat sizzled with two triples. He drove in three runs and scored one as part of going two-for-three. Chase Metzger crossed home plate twice. Parker Dierks crossed home plate once. Denner Dougherty had a hit in his only at-bat. Jared Rohloff had a hit and a run scored.
The pitching loss went to Chandler Vogel. Vogel struggled as he walked five batters and gave up seven hits and ten runs (eight earned). Jordan Leuthardt pitched one and two-thirds innings and got roughed up. Tim Travis pitched an impressive two innings and fanned five Thunder Hawk batters while allowing zero hits or runs.
 
Sauk Centre 4, Tigers 3
Four errors by the Tigers were a negative stat in the 4-3 loss our team was dealt by the Sauk Centre Streeters. Actually, 4-3 was the final score in both games of the doubleheader that day. The Tigers were on the short end in both.
Prospects for victory looked good in game 1 as we rallied for three runs in the fifth to go up 3-2. But the Streeters mounted enough of a rally in the top of the sixth to get on top to stay. We were outhit 6-5. The Streeters committed just one error.
Ryan Bowman had two hits in four at-bats for the orange and black. Three other Tigers each had one hit: Mitchell Dufault, Chase Metzger and Jared Rohloff. Tanner Rieland had two hits and an RBI for the Streeters. Simon Weller scored two runs.
Toby Sayles had his moments on the mound as he struck out seven batters for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Two of the four runs he allowed were unearned. Two other Tigers got pitching work: Chandler Vogel and Jordan Leuthardt.
The winning pitcher was Luke VanBeck who gave up three r8uns none of which were earned. He fanned one batter, walked four and gave up five hits. Dylan Haskamp got the save with a two-inning stint in which he fanned two.
 
Sauk Centre 4, Tigers 3
Yes, the score was the same in game 2: 4-3 with the Tigers getting edged. Again we made a decent bid for victory. We rallied for two runs in the seventh but it wasn't quite enough. Sauk Centre scored two runs each in the first and fifth.
Sauk
had the advantage in hits over our Tigers, 10-8. Sauk committed three errors compared to just one by us. The first inning ended with Sauk up 2-1.
Chase Metzger was quite in the zone for MACA with his bat: he was a perfect four-for-four! He crossed home plate twice. Alex Daugherty was a perfect two-for-two. Parker Dierks and Jared Rohloff also hit safely. Dylan Haskamp had a hot bat for the Streeters with his three-for-four numbers including a double. Noah Fletcher added a hit to the mix.
Ryan Bowman pitched the distance for MACA, six innings, and struck out four batters while walking two and giving up ten hits and four runs (all earned). Three pitchers shared the load for Sauk Centre: Jacob Zollman, Tanner Rieland and Dylan Haskamp. Haskamp got the save.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MACA girls split doubleheader vs. Melrose

Tigers 12, Melrose 2
A 12-2 win was the highlight of a doubleheader the MACA softball Tigers played against Melrose. The Thursday (5/11) action had MACA pounce early with three runs in the first inning and five in the third. The game's one-sidedness kept it to five innings. We added one run in the fourth and two in the fifth. We outhit the Dutchmen 9-4. We out-fielded them by committing three errors compared to the Dutchmen's five.
Piper Gibson gave fuel to the run-scoring with two hits, one of them a double. Nicole Solvie had a two-for-three line. Other Tigers hitting safely were Emma Bowman, Brooke Gillespie, Liz Dietz, Karly Fehr and Kalley Hottovy. Kayla Austing had two hits including a double for Melrose.
Gillespie pitched the whole way for MACA. Her stat line was impressive with five strikeouts and no walks. The losing pitcher was Kenzie Meyer who gave up five earned runs among the 12 total she yielded. She struck out one batter and walked none.
 
Melrose 4, Tigers 3
We nearly achieved a sweep on Thursday. Karly Fehr lifted fans' hopes with a single that drove in two runs in the sixth inning. The score was now tied. But Melrose got a run in the seventh to get the 4-3 win. We got outhit 10-7. Our fielding was solid with just one error, while the Dutchmen had two.
We took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Goose eggs appeared on the scoreboard for a time after that. Melrose did all its scoring late: one run in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Fehr finished with a one-for-three line offensively. Liz Dietz socked a double. Other Tigers with hits were: Bailey Marty, Piper Gibson, Brooke Gillespie, Ashley Solvie and Nicole Solvie. Two Melrose batters each had two hits: Kayla Austing and Taryn Van Heel.
Three pitchers worked for MACA: Ashley Solvie, Brooke Gillespie and Liz Dietz. Solvie worked five and two-thirds innings and fanned four batters while walking none. Gillespie was the pitcher of record. Makiya Luetmer pitched the whole way for Melrose. She fanned three batters, walked none and allowed seven hits and the three runs (two earned).
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

BOLD upends Tigers in doubleheader at Morris

The BOLD Warriors were bold on the baseball diamond on Thursday, May 4, at the expense of Morris Area Chokio Alberta. It was a day for twin bill action. The Tigers hosted.
BOLD got the runs it needed in the top of the seventh in Game 1. That game ended with a 5-4 score. MACA led 4-3 going into the seventh but couldn't shut down the Warriors who plated two runs that made the difference.
It was up to James Woelfel to keep the Tigers' bats quiet in the bottom of the seventh. This he accomplished. His pitching boxscore line has "one" for IP followed by a string of zeroes. The Willmar paper reported that he got the save as a result of his one efficient inning. However, if BOLD took the lead in the top of the seventh and if Woelfel pitched the whole bottom of the seventh, wouldn't he get the win? In my judgment he would. The other pitcher, Reed Stadther, would have a no-decision. Stadther struggled some as he gave up six hits and four runs and walked two. His 'K' total was five.
Ryan Bowman pitched six innings for MACA and couldn't fool the Warriors. He gave up six hits and three runs (two earned), walked four and struck out two. Tim Travis was the pitcher of record for MACA. He too was on the ropes as he gave up two hits and two runs (earned) in his one inning. He had no strikeouts or walks.
BOLD outhit the Tigers 8-6. BOLD also had the advantage in fielding, committing but one error compared to the Tigers' three.
Hayden Tersteeg was the clear offensive standout for the victor. Hayden posted a perfect four-for-four boxscore line. He drove in three runs. These Warriors each had one hit: Reed Stadther, James Woelfel, Riley Weis and Sam Marks. Weis' hit was a double. Stadther drove in a run.
Denner Dougherty was the only Tiger with a multiple-hit game: two hits in three at-bats. He was complemented by these Tigers who each had one hit: Chase Metzger, Parker Dierks, Mitchell Dufault and Alex Daugherty.
Prospects for victory looked good for MACA early. We had a 4-0 lead after two innings. BOLD scratched and clawed to get the advantage. The Warriors plated one run in the third and two in the fifth before getting that decisive two-run rally in the seventh. The line scores were 5-8-1 for BOLD and 4-6-3 for the Tigers.
 
Game 2: BOLD in driver's seat
Game 2 saw Hayden Tersteeg shine with his pitching arm. There was no suspense in this game as BOLD prevailed 5-0, riding Tersteeg's pitching arm. He tossed a two-hitter. Those two hits were by Chase Metzger and Ryan Bowman. (The score is reported as 6-0 on the Pheasant Country Sports site.)
The game continued a spell of struggling for Morris Area Chokio Alberta.
Reed Stadther had three hits in four at-bats for BOLD. Jack Peppel and Cade Morse each contributed two hits. James Woelfel had a one-for-three line. My, errors loomed as a factor hurting MACA: six by the Tigers. Meanwhile the Warriors didn't boot the ball at all. BOLD asserted itself early with two runs in the first inning and three in the third.
The Tigers had a string of goose eggs thanks to Tersteeg's pitching. He set down nine batters on strikes in his seven innings. He walked two batters and gave up just the two hits.
Chandler Vogel pitched the whole way for MACA. The errors meant that some of the runs he allowed were likely to be unearned. Indeed he gave up only two earned runs. He struck out two batters, walked one and allowed eight hits.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tigers get toppled by Westberg's double in seventh

Minnewaska Area 7, Tigers 6
Minnewaska scored the critical run in the top of the seventh, spelling defeat for our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers. There were two outs when Laker Connor Westberg doubled to drive in the run that made the score 7-6. That was the winning score for the Lakers in this May 2 contest.
The bottom of the seventh saw the ball get handed to Colin Richards who got the save with his pitching arm. Richards struck out a batter, walked none and gave up one hit. The winning pitcher was Shaun Stumpf who was on the mound for one inning. He gave up no hits and walked none. Matthew Gruber logged five pitching innings for the victor. He got roughed up by the Tiger bats as he gave up six runs, all earned, on eight hits and walked two.
The Tigers employed two pitching arms. Toby Sayles pitched five and a third innings and had a rough time of it as he gave up ten hits and walked three. He gave up six runs but only one was earned. He sat down five batters on strikes. Ryan Bowman pitched one and two-thirds innings and gave up two hits and one run while walking one and fanning none.
Westberg had a two-for-five boxscore line for Minnewaska with one of his hits a double. Colin Richards rapped a double as part of going two-for-four. Chris Claussen contributed three hits. Also hitting safely were Stumpf, Jake Hoffman, Ryan Christenson and Jake Heid.
Bowman turned in a two-for-four line for MACA. Sayles doubled. Mitchell Dufault rapped two hits. Other Tigers hitting safely were Parker Dierks, Alex Daugherty, Tim Travis and Brenden Goulet.
The line scores point to a handicap the Tigers inflicted on themselves: five errors. This compares to zero errors for Minnewaska. We scored our six runs on nine hits. The 'Waska line score was 7-12-0. 'Waska led 5-0 after three innings. The Tigers scored three runs each in the fourth and fifth. This was a West Central Conference contest.
 
Tigers 8, MACCRAY3
The Tigers had the advantage in fielding in an 8-3 home win over the Wolverines of MACCRAY. We had zero errors while the Wolverines committed five. We won 8-3 in this April 22 action, despite having just five hits. MACCRAY had a hit total of six.
MACCRAY seized a 3-1 lead by the end of the first inning. The Tigers seized the key momentum in the third with a four-run rally. We added three more in the fifth.
The pitching workload was shared among three for us. Parker Dierks fanned three batters in his stint of two innings. Chandler Vogel was intimidating on the mound as he set down six Wolverine batters on strikes in his four innings. He walked three and allowed one hit. Sayles fanned two batters with his assignment of one inning.
Thomas Kirking took the pitching loss for MACCRAY. Riley Cronen also pitched for MACCRAY. (I've never liked that school name - it makes me think of a crayfish.)
Offensively, Vogel had a hit, an RBI and a run scored for the orange and black. Sayles scored two runs and drove in one. Mitchell Dufault had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Denner Dougherty went one-for-three with an RBI. Ryan Dietz went one-for-three while crossing home plate once. Jared Rohloff scored two runs. Brenden Goulet had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
Six different players accounted for the Wolverines' six hits: Colton Swart, Colton Ammermann, Dalton Struxness, Nic Pieper, Brett Harguth and Braden Hoekstra.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tracy Stallard was much more than futile footnote

Tracy Stallard is represented in the movie "61*," the baseball epic about the amazing home run race in 1961. At the end we see a young man on the screen playing Stallard, wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. Maybe "actor" is too generous a term. The movie needed someone presentable as a baseball pitcher. He had no spoken lines, rather he just delivered a pitch while giving a most intense look.
A fastball in the strike zone? Batter Roger Maris must have been thankful he even got a hittable pitch. Maris, as most of us well remember, was one home run shy that day of breaking the sacred record of Babe Ruth. Supposedly the whole baseball establishment was against this.
Earlier in the movie we saw a Baltimore Orioles pitcher get threatened by his manager who insisted that Maris not get a fastball to hit. The manager said "I'll fine your ass" if a fastball was delivered. The pitcher in question was noted knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. I thought that scene was overdone. Why would the manager project such hostility toward his own player? Was organized baseball that determined to protect the Babe?
Baseball worked so hard to diminish Maris' accomplishment, the attendance on the day of Maris' ultimate 61st homer was poor. Baseball hadn't built up Maris at all, rather the opposite was done. Therefore, I'm surprised Stallard wasn't just instructed to "pitch around" Maris. This would have been so easy to accomplish. Yet we see in the movie "61*," the Stallard character go all-out trying to deliver an effective fastball, just what that Baltimore manager said would be totally taboo. Maris connected for his historic 61st home run.
The movie "61*" was made as a labor of love by Billy Crystal. I have never thought that Maris was as much of a jerk as portrayed in Jim Bouton's book "Ball Four." Maris' problem if he had one, was that he was simply an unsophisticated high school graduate from Fargo ND. That home run race in 1961 played with his head no doubt. We might overlook that he was an important member of the St. Louis Cardinals' pennant-winning teams of 1967 and '68. The Cardinals took it all in '67.
In baseball lore and history, Maris wears the pinstripes of New York. His magical 1961 season, a real anomoly in fact, coincided with the Camelot presidency of JFK. He and Mickey Mantle took advantage of the watered-down pitching of an expansion year. It was the first year of our Minnesota Twins. Hey, we actually beat the Yankees on opening day at Yankee Stadium!
Strange things happened in 1961 such as Norm Cash's .361 batting average, perhaps the most anomalous stat in baseball history. So I think something more was going on, than the watered-down pitching factor. Perhaps "rabbit balls" and corked bats. Perhaps it should have been allowed to go on further - it was fun, a lot more fun than the 1968 "year of the pitcher."
Stallard
ended up with a most interesting career. It all gets overshadowed by that October 1 pitch in 1961, that fastball that wasn't quite fast enough. Would you believe Stallard pitched an outstanding game that day? The homer was in fact the only run he allowed. He held the potent Yankee offense to five hits in seven innings and struck out five. He lost the game 1-0.
Very ironically, on October 1 of the previous year, in Stallard's previous showdown with Maris, he struck out the vaunted power hitter.
Stallard's baseball distinctions seem dubious. We can be misled in reviewing this. He lost 20 games in 1964 but let's consider he was paying dues with the original "Amazin' Mets." "Can't anyone here play this game?" manager Casey Stengel said.
It has been said "it takes a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games." True, I'm sure. Such a pitcher has the confidence of his manager every four days. (It would be every five days now.) Stallard won ten games in '64 and two of those wins were shutouts, among eleven complete games. The "complete games" stat of course means nothing today, not in our new age of pitch counts. Pitchers had their careers die like flies in the '60s when I followed baseball as a boy. They threw out their arms, a process that started for them back in little league.
In 1964, Stallard was the losing pitcher in the longest major league game in baseball history: seven hours and 23 minutes! Stallard also took the loss in Jim Bunning's Fathers Day perfect game against the Mets.
Stallard
moved on to the Cardinals after his Mets tenure. The Cards definitely had a sheen of competitiveness. Stallard had his best season in 1965 as he started 26 games, in the same rotation as Bob Gibson. He had an 11-8 record with a career low ERA of 3.38. Despite the quality, Stallard couldn't stay on the big league roster through the 1966 season. He spent time with the Tulsa Oilers. He got roughed up in his time with the big club, going 1-5 with a 5.68 ERA with the Cards who slid down to sixth place.
Stallard
continued his involvement in baseball despite the 1966 futility. He toiled in the minors. At age 31 he retired from the sport and returned to his home state of Virginia. He would pull the uniform back on occasionally for old-timers events. He didn't back away from recognition as the guy who gave up the Maris home run. He appeared in the Roger Maris Golf Tournament in Fargo and won the charity event in 1990.
In 1998 Stallard backed away from the baseball glow as McGwire and Sosa went on their homer chase. He no longer wanted the unflattering attention. In 1997 a new baseball field at his high school alma mater, Coeburn High School, was named in his honor. He chose not to attend the first game played there, perhaps knowing he'd be dogged by that down note in his otherwise impressive career: that October 1 happening of '61 with JFK in the White House. That Roger Maris home run.
Lots of other pitchers gave up Maris homers in '61. Stallard was out on the mound for the climactic moment, captured so well in the Billy Crystal movie.
 
Messages from Hollywood
Here's an aside I'll offer: "61*" was not really a movie about the home run record, it was a movie about family and values. It's a Hollywood trait - intangible values at the forefront when we really think we're seeing a movie about something sensational. The movie "The Candidate" wasn't really about the Robert Redford character winning an election, it was about the character following in his father's footsteps as a politician. Want to know why Hollywood has left wing political values? It's because they know humanism really sells.
Let's remember Stallard as a persistent pitcher who doggedly worked through challenging periods in his career, with little apparent aversion to being in the minors. It was his career. He had many "up" moments. Congratulations Tracy Stallard, the six feet-five athlete of note from Coeburn, Virginia.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com