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).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pitcher Dick Hall's longevity: it is explained easily

We see Dick Hall portrayed in Billy Crystal's famous movie about the Roger Maris/Mickey Mantle home run chase. The broadcaster refers to Hall's "crazy sidearm delivery." Maris was trying to break Babe Ruth's record within 154 games. The big league schedule had been expanded to 162 games. It seems quaint to think that people in baseball put so much stock in this issue: whether a record, especially a home run record, could be broken in a schedule that went beyond the previous standard of 154 games.
It says a lot for Dick Hall's longevity that he was a nemesis for my Minnesota Twins in 1969 and 1970. I was emotionally invested in our Twins back then, when I was junior high-age. I hated those Baltimore Orioles. Of course that was a foolish way to think. The Twins seemed snakebit then, this in spite of the fact that they were unquestionably spectacular in regular season play. But when the post-season arrived, I sensed that the fans around me became defeatist. We shrugged and figured it was unlikely that we could get past those Baltimore Orioles with relief ace Dick Hall.
Such a nice, crisp name to pronounce: one syllable for both the first and last names.
Hall made his first post-season appearance in 1969 against our Twins. He was the wily graybeard: 39 years old. Any clues as to his longevity? There is one huge one: It wasn't until he was 16 years old that Hall began to play baseball. He was a member of a 16-year-old team that won the Cardinal Gibbons championship (Baltimore area), and that, he said, "was my first taste of baseball."
So my point is: Hall preserved his body and especially his arm so that he would have the physical resilience for a long career in baseball.
Hall strode out to the pitching mound at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in early fall of 1969. This was the first year of the divisional format. The Twins won the West while Baltimore came out of the East. In the first American League Championship Series ever played, Hall was the Game 1 winning pitcher in a 4-3 Orioles victory. It was the epitome of the kind of heartbreak us Twins fans were dealt in the post-season of both 1969 and '70. You'll recall that 1969 was the year of the "Miracle Mets." Baltimore fell to the Mets in the '69 World Series. Hall was the losing pitcher in Game 4 but he got his World Series creds started.
In 1970 Hall was the oldest active player in the American League. He turned 40 on September 27. His savvy and sound physical health helped him achieve a 10-5 record with an ERA of 3.08 and three saves. He issued just six walks, only four of them unintentionally. Pinpoint control was an absolute hallmark of his career. Ted Williams commented that Hall might look like an easy pitcher to hit when he was warming up. That appearance was totally deceiving.
The 1970 A.L. divisional series was like a carbon copy of '69. Our Twins tore up the opposition in the regular season. Tony O. and Harmon were superlative. But the snakebit quality could not be escaped vs. those Orioles. Again, Hall was the winning pitcher in Game 1 of the divisional playoffs. He allowed just one baserunner in his 4 2/3 innings. Once the Orioles completed business in that series, a sweep again, they went on to face Cincinnati in the World Series. The Orioles were not to be denied this time. Game 2 of the Fall Classic saw Hall enter the game in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second and two outs. Hall set down Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Lee May, Hal McRae, Tommy Helms and pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo and Jim Stewart to save the Orioles' 6-5 victory.
 
"He keeps getting people out"
Helms' comments about Hall reflected the norm: "His pitches don't seem to be moving, but I guess it's deceiving. He keeps getting people out." It was a long time since Hall showed that "crazy sidearm delivery" against Maris, Mantle and the Yankees. Baseball had gone from one epoch to the next. Hall with his well-preserved arm was able to endure and prosper. What if he had logged the usual number of innings in Little League, Babe Ruth or other levels for young boys? He could have easily over-taxed his arm.
Baseball was not enlightened about such things in the old days. It is tragic how many fine pitchers went into rapid decline, during my youth, due to overwork of the arm. Today we hear all about the "pitch count." What a blessing. A pitcher might be removed from a game even if he has a no-hitter going.
Johnny Bench hollered out at Hall from the dugout: "How can you be out there with that garbage?" The results speak for themselves. Hall had his final big league season in 1971 at at the age of 41. He won six games and saved one. His ERA bulged up a little but he had gas left in the tank for the World Series. On October 11, in Game 2 vs. the Pirates at Memorial Stadium, Hall earned a save for Jim Palmer in what turned out to be Hall's last big league appearance.
Ted Williams described Hall as a "pinpointer" with his control. "You never got a fat pitch to hit."
We must acknowledge that Hall was known as an intelligent and intellectual person. I see no evidence that these traits annoyed other ballplayers, not the way Jim Bouton's erudite traits could.
 
Breaking the language barrier!
There is a fascinating story with Hall's romance that led to his marriage. He met the love of his life while playing winter ball in Mexico. His first winter there saw him meet Maria Elena Nieto. They were married on December 31, 1955. The marriage would produce three daughters and a son. Maria did not speak English when they met. Hall had to learn to speak Spanish. Imagine being in love with someone who didn't speak your language! Quite the story.
Hall's whole story is most inspiring and it might not have happened had he not waited until age 16 to start pitching.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Zone Troopers" (1985) like an engaging comic book

It is odd how we can feel so entertained by war movies. The whole World War II genre of movies seems surreal with their tone. From the safety of our movie theater seats, we see the heroic GIs put down the adversary in "the good war." We feel uplifted. Then we have the Viet Nam set of movies designed to scold us for ever acquiescing to that conflict. Not real entertaining, yet some of these movies were quite high-profile and important.
Of course, all war is hell. Mankind is to be scolded for ever having this tendency toward killing conflict come forward.
Perhaps the best war movie is one made on an absurd premise. It reminds us that cinema is not the best vehicle for realizing the awful truths about war. The war becomes a backdrop, an excuse for letting an improbable story come forward. "Zone Troopers" from 1985 employs science fiction. It is the classic sci-fi story of aliens among us. They have weapons which, if in our hands, would shorten the war. The American GIs in the story are so absolutely genuine and likeable. I have read that these characters seemed cliched. The cliche line is so handy for movie reviewers. Fact is, WWII soldiers were within very tight confines for how they could behave. Thus we have some predictability.
But the GIs in "Zone Troopers" break those bounds to seem totally human. They clearly represent the benevolent cause. They pine for home. An alien projects a mirage of a young woman who is the idyllic 1940s young woman - the perfect look. The music is so pure in presenting the 1940s motif. We hear the classic "In The Mood." At movie's end we see a plug for buying war bonds, "available in the lobby."
I wonder if the moviemakers realized how pure this 1940s motif was, how genuine the GIs seemed as they wandered in the morass of war. The movie doesn't preach on how bad war is. We can all just understand the premise. With that premise put aside, we can feel the simple joy of following a sci-fi story.
The setting is Italy. I remember watching the video of an obscure WWII movie called "The Battle for Anzio." Obscure, yes, but it starred the front-line actor for WWII movies, none other than Robert Mitchum. I watched the VHS tape, never having heard of this movie before. The obscurity is well-earned. The movie didn't really seem to have an interesting defining angle. As I recall, Mitchum is a correspondent who behaves like a pacifist. At the end he's finally forced to employ a rifle. If we were supposed to be moved by that, I just yawned. At the very end there's a victory parade scene with Mitchum watching. He says to a bystander: "Well, should we all just choose up sides and start over?" The statement was supposed to seem profound. It just didn't work, in my mind.
Mitchum also starred in the famous flick "The Longest Day." It was strangely made in black and white. John Wayne built the stature of that movie. It was a defining WWII movie with the good vs. evil meme and no truly bloody or gory scenes. We leave the theater feeling exhilarated, not prone to throwing up. D-Day may have been necessary. But it was tragic beyond words. Taking the beach hardly meant we were going to glide forward en route to Berlin. "Saving Private Ryan" would hit us over the head with how sad and violent it all was.
Oliver Stone would tell us that the Red Army from the east is what really crushed the Nazis.
 
The barter value of Lucky Strikes
"Zone Troopers" is delightful with its escapism. The aliens have weapons that cause targets to dissolve. A GI says "if we had those pea shooters, our boys would be home by Christmas."
The aliens have crash-landed. We see the GI named "Joey" perusing a sci-fi mag called "Fantastic Fiction." We wonder if the movie to come is a product of Joey's imagination. Joey has another piece of reading material in his possession, about "blonde dames from space." The GI named "Mittens" offers a pack of Lucky Strikes in exchange for the "Dames" book. Ah, the allure of a pack of "Luckies" - it surely transports us back to the 1940s. We get introduced to the "Sarge" character played by Tim Thomerson from "Trancers." "Sarge" becomes the defining character with his image of seeming impervious to danger.
This endearing group of GIs is caught behind enemy lines. They get nothing but static on their radio. Their compasses spin around. Along come the Nazis. The film was shot on location in Italy. Our GIs come upon a huge crash-landed spaceship. No wonder their radio and compasses don't work. The movie takes on the tone of action and conflict but the sci-fi element suggests the overriding air of fantasy. We don't need to see the action to appreciate war. What we really appreciate is the sci-fi element and its mystery. Where will this take us?
There is a somewhat low-budget look that is no bothersome distraction. We can love this flick in the same way as "Lobster Man From Mars." In "Zone Troopers" we appreciate the healthy mix of comedy, sci-fi and camp. The soldiers are so, well, "American." They are unrefined in an endearing way. We can understand the aliens being attracted to them.
The aliens themselves are most likable. They have a translator device that enables them to communicate. "Mittens" gets to punch Adolf Hitler in the face! Actors Tim Thomerson, Art Lafleur and Timothy Van Patton really lift this movie from the low-budget obscurity where it could have ended up. These characters could be the father of any baby boomer. These guys came home after the war and created the great American middle class. They spoiled their own children. Why not, after all they had been through?
Their own male children were vulnerable to being called to service for Viet Nam. The Viet Nam war was a world apart from World War II. We are learning more and more about the extent of the tragedy of Viet Nam, beyond even the most miserable movies. A primary tragedy, cited by some as the main reason we had to leave, was "fragging," the practice of American troops killing their own colonels. War is hell to an extent that even the most preachy movies don't record.
War movies always give us the premise that our GIs, regardless of the hazards faced, respond to command and support each other. Movies also notoriously support the idea that the battles were so well-organized. Andy Rooney took on this assumption once. He was there for WWII and he once commented that he thought it was "a mess."
Fragging a.k.a. "mutiny" actually happened toward the end of WWII. News of it didn't get out much. If you want to appreciate the impulse toward insubordination, check out "Bridge at Remagen."
 
Raw charm of our heroes
It's almost a blessing that "Zone Troopers" has a cartoonish tone with the violence. Let's just absorb the escapism and the raw charm of its American heroes. "Zone Troopers" is under 90 minutes and can grip your attention. It has appeared recently on the "Comet" TV network.
Was the movie intended as satire or is it just plain fun? I suggest the latter. Don't evaluate the movie as if it's heavy-lifting cinema. It has a real comic book quality and that's a plus. I grew up consuming stories like this from comic books. It was our escape from the dry school textbooks of our junior high years, to be sure.
There is a defensiveness among many of the reviewers of the movie. It's as if the movie is a guilty pleasure! No need for defensiveness. Let's just revel in the joy of an engaging sci-fi story involving "the greatest generation" in World War II. I love "Zone Troopers" just as I loved "Lobster Man From Mars" (with Tony Curtis).
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bill Skowron, always a Yankee in our memory

I remember Bill "Moose" Skowron as having a scowling visage on his baseball cards. It seemed reinforced by the first syllable of his last name seeming like "scowl." I'm sure the appearance was misleading. He seemed a popular guy with fans and teammates.
Speaking of appearance, the nickname "Moose" needs some clarification. We'd easily assume the "big guy" first baseman got the name based on physique. What? There's another explanation? There most certainly is. The story goes back to his youth in Chicago IL. Bill was playing with the "Cragin Juniors" team. His dad played with the semi-pro "Cragin Merchants." Dad's teammates made note of Bill's crew cut. They observed that the crew cut made young Bill look like Benito Mussolini. The ballplayers, a not-too-subtle crowd, called the young man "Mussolini." It got shortened to "Moose." Benito Mussolini was the notorious prime minister of Italy for World War II.
We all got familiar with "Moose" Skowron when he wore the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. He seemed such an established part of that regime as it ruled in the late '50s and early '60s. We see Skowron portrayed in Billy Crystal's movie about the 1961 baseball season. At one point in the movie, Roger Maris implores the media to pay more attention to Skowron after the big guy played a key role in a win.
Surely Skowron was upstaged by Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961. But he was a very important cog in the wheel. He was never quite a superstar but he had a notable career. It didn't seem right that he got traded before the Yankees' 1960s heyday ended. He was traded because the team had a pitching need. By 1966 the Yankees would need help everywhere. Following 1962, the Bronx crew was still feeling their oats and they sought pitcher Stan Williams. Skowron went out West for Williams on November 26, 1962. The Yankees felt they could replace Skowron at first base with Joe Pepitone. You'll recall Pepitone as a player who never quite lived up to his potential, and did not seem like a good role model.
Skowron out in L.A. did not have a good regular season in 1963. He batted .202. But he had a chance to redeem himself in the World Series against the Yankees. He had already been in seven Fall Classics with the Yankees. He was known as a "money" player for the post-season.
 
Coming on strong in Fall Classic
Dodgers manager Walt Alston sensed that Skowron was primed for another good World Series. Skowron pulled on his first base glove while Ron Fairly was sidelined some. Alston's hunch panned out. The big guy hit .385 with a home run. The '63 Series was notable in that it revealed Sandy Koufax as the true superstar pitcher. Koufax led the Dodgers' four-game sweep of the pinstripe crew. He went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He set down 23 Yankee batters on strikes. Two years later, we here in Minnesota got our own dose of appreciation of the other-worldly lefty.
David Halberstam's book about the 1964 season gave some background on Koufax's development. It was not a matter of maturity or mastering mechanics, Halberstam pointed out. Rather, it was a matter of "umpires calling the high fastball a strike." Whatever umpires did, it became a real problem by 1968 when pitchers took over the game too much. 1968 was "the year of the pitcher" and it was great if you enjoyed shutouts. But something had to be done. The powers that be lowered the pitching mound.
Skowron had quite the knack for playing with winners. He played for eight pennant-winning teams and nearly made it nine in 1964, when his Chicago White Sox came within a whisker of the flag. The Yankees had their last dynastic year in '64, barely winning the pennant. They lost to St. Louis and a young Lou Brock in the Series. Of the eight pennant-winning teams that had "Moose" on the roster, five won the World Series.
Maris had a talent like Moose, of being on board with high-achieving teams. We might forget that Roger was a big contributor with the '67 and '68 St. Louis Cardinals who were on top of the National League.
 
He relished baseball and life
Pitcher Bob Turley remembered Skowron as a fun and gregarious person. Forget that "scowling" visage that I alluded to. "He is this big kid who always enjoys things," Turley said of his teammate.
Skowron hit over .300 five times in his career. He along with those "M&M Boys," Mantle and Maris, combined to hit 143 home runs in 1961. That Yankee team beat Cincinnati in five games in the World Series. Skowron had a home run and five RBIs. In 1960 the big guy batted .375 in the Fall Classic against Pittsburgh. He homered twice and drove in six runs, but you'll recall this was the Series where Bill Mazeroski hit his dramatic home run in Game 7 to win for Pittsburgh. Such memories.
Skowron is established in our memories as a Yankee, regardless of his '63 World Series exploits with Los Angeles. Hey, he wears the pinstripes in our memory. And it's not a scowl - just call it resolve or determination.
"Moose" Skowron went to that baseball diamond in the sky on April 27, 2012, in Arlington Heights IL.
- Brian Williams, morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Don Demeter overcame disrupted childhood, played ball

Here's the card that introduced me to Demeter.
I always feel disturbed when reading the history of a broken family. I wonder: Are the kids tougher and better adjusted for having come through this? Or is that just a stereotype?
Don Demeter was a fine 1960s baseball player who had a conflicted youth. His father was a painter and his mother a housewife. The family lived in Oklahoma City. Sounds like a classic American family. They moved to Denver when young Don was age 10. About a year later, the parents broke up - why? - and Don headed back to Oklahoma City to live with grandparents. Grandparents to the rescue again!
But Don got re-joined with his mother after she re-married a man from New Hampshire. Don spent a winter with them but it was an unsettled situation again. It seemed like the only reliable home base for Don was the city of Oklahoma City. He went through high school in Oklahoma City. His family? Don came under the care of foster parents. Surely foster parents can come to the rescue too - bless them.
What issues were so terrible with his biological parents? We don't really know. But Don was able to land on his feet in his hometown. He lauded those foster parents on instilling in him the faith that was an underpinning for the rest of his life. Foster Dad George Stevens was a Sunday School superintendent and chairman of the deacons at a Baptist church. Don said of him: "He was a real witness and testimony for me."
 
Echoes of my own background
A disrupted or dysfunctional family came close to home for me once. My family provided shelter for an aunt - my mother's sister - who left her husband who she felt might kill her. She had five children, first cousins of mine, who I knew well for a time, then we got separated for many years. Obviously I had problems understanding what could make a family come apart so badly. How could a relationship that began in love end up severed and with poisonous feelings?
I have never been married so I cannot imagine how such a split might develop. It profoundly troubles me. Reading Demeter's bio brings back some of those memories and that sense of puzzlement. He appears to have found his own solution: a deep Christian faith. If that works for you, congrats. My generation of the boomers never really took to that stuff. In older age I think a lot of us are drifting back to it.
Demeter would have looked fine in a Minnesota Twins uniform. We were not so fortunate. I got familiar with this big and lanky outfielder through his baseball card on those Post cereal boxes. He was with Philadelphia at the time. He is one of those players who quite arguably was outstanding but for some reason is not well remembered today.
He became known as a player who was part of trades where the other team got the better deal. Can't blame Don for that.
He roamed center field for his high school team which won the state championship his junior and senior years. Eleven boys from that team signed pro contracts. Most signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Demeter was the only one making it into the big leagues. Many are called, few are chosen. Don got an $800 bonus for signing with those old Dodgers in 1953.
He plunged into the typical scenario for aspiring big leaguers, going from one stop to another including winter ball in Venezuela. He socked 41 home runs with Fort Worth in 1956. He got the call to get a taste of big league ball with the Dodgers. He appeared at Ebbets Field in September. He struck out. The next day he stepped up to bat as a pinch-hitter and hit a homer on his first swing. The Dodgers won their second straight National League crown.
 
Seasoning with the St. Paul Saints
We're proud to note that Don came Minnesota way for 1957, playing the whole season with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association. He hit 28 home runs and batted .309.
The Dodgers re-located to Los Angeles in the off-season. Don began 1958 with L.A. but got sent back down to St. Paul. He re-joined L.A. for good on July 30, helping compensate for an ailing Duke Snider. He struggled at the plate.
Bring on 1959 with Ike still in the White House: Demeter hit three two-run home runs in a single game on April 21. The last of these was in the bottom of the eleventh to beat the Giants 9-7. The Dodgers won the pennant as they got past Milwaukee in a two-game playoff. They beat the White Sox in the World Series. Demeter appeared in all six World Series games and went three-for-12 with two runs scored.
In '59 there were rumors that Demeter would come to Calvin Griffith's Washington Senators in a trade. This would have set the stage for the big guy coming to Minnesota again. Alas it did not happen. Legend has it that Griffith backed off due to reports that Demeter might quit baseball for the ministry. Demeter had a serious injury on July 3 of 1960. He was out for the rest of the season, a season that saw him hit .274 with nine home runs. He was still a Dodger for the start of '61. 
Don then became a Phillie and did fine, achieving his second three-homer game of his career, putting down the Dodgers and none other than Sandy Koufax. It was a 19-10 win! Demeter had his best season in 1962 as he batted .307 with 29 home runs and 107 RBIs. He started an errorless streak as an outfielder. Demeter claimed batting average didn't mean much to him, rather he stressed RBIs.
In 1963 he traveled to Japan with another noted Christian ballplayer, Bobby Richardson, to spread the gospel. Demeter had another fine season in 1963, socking 22 home runs. In '63 he became a Detroit Tiger. Chuck Dressen, the Detroit manager, claimed Demeter was a better player than Rocky Colavito. I think highly of Demeter but I could not disagree more with Dressen on this. I have written a song about Rocky Colavito.
Demeter held his own but was not outstanding with Detroit. He would get Bibles from fans which he would then autograph. On August 12 of 1965, Demeter drove in seven runs on a single, triple and grand slam in an 11-1 win over Kansas City. The Tigers finished fourth, 13 games behind our Twins. Don declined in productivity in 1966. He joined the Red Sox who weren't exactly on a roll. They finished ninth, a half-game ahead of the sinking New York Yankees. Demeter reported back problems.
In '67 with Boston destined to streak to the top, Demeter did not finish out the campaign with them. He joined Cleveland. He did make some contributions while with Boston. Demeter wrapped up his career with Cleveland, getting two home runs in a game vs. the Yankees. Nagging injuries and a suspect heart took a toll.
Amazingly, his heart problems seemed to get resolved when the big guy just improved his diet! Many of us should take note.
He got two hits in his last start, on August 27, and his final at-bat saw him deliver a single.
Demeter as a retiree appeared in old-timers games for the Dodgers. He became a pastor in his church. He had an unsuccessful run for the state legislature as a Republican in 1976. I seem to recall the '70s not being great for Republicans! In 1999 Don was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame. He pastors Grace Community Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. He can be proud of his long big league career with no shortage of thrills.
We wish he had pulled on a Twins uniform for a time.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Piper Gibson's bat sizzles in 18-4 MACA triumph

MACA put superb finishing touches on an 18-4 win over Benson on the softball diamond. A ten-run sixth inning put an exclamation point on this success. There was only one inning in which we did not score.
Benson had a decent start, assuming a 4-2 lead after two innings. But after that our engines got humming. We plated two runs in the third, three in the fourth and one in the fifth before erupting with the big inning in the sixth. We were perfect in the field: no errors. Our bats resonated with 15 hits. Pitchers Brooke Gillespie and Ashley Solvie held Benson to seven hits. The Benson error total was three.
It was Ashley Solvie getting the pitching win. She allowed no hits or runs over four innings. She fanned three batters and walked one. Gillespie got roughed up a little: six hits allowed and four runs over two innings. She fanned three batters and walked no one. Emily Miller was a trooper as she pitched for Benson and wasn't able to contain the Tigers. She allowed the 15 hits in six innings. Better days will come for Emily.
Gillespie's bat produced a double and triple. Piper Gibson was a force at bat with three hits in five at-bats, all three of them doubles, and she drove in a whopping five runs. Karly Fehr had a double as part of a two-for-four performance. Bailey Marty had a two-for-three boxscore line. Liz Dietz and Karli Siegel both had a hit in their only at-bat.
Emma Bowman rapped two hits in five at-bats. The Solvie girls, Ashley and Nicole, each added a hit to the mix. Overall a boffo hitting performance.
For Benson, Nicole Berens and Lizzie Staton each had two hits. It warms my heart to see that the Berens and Staton names stay so closely associated with Benson! Courtney McNeill and Miller also hit safely for the Braves.
 
Tigers 6, Benson 4
It was a doubleheader day for the MACA and Benson softball squads. MACA chalked up another win in a 6-4 final as this time we took control early: a 3-0 lead after one inning. We went on to score two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Our line score was six runs, ten hits and three errors. Karly Fehr "touched 'em all" with a home run, part of a two-for-three line. Emma Bowman's bat sizzled as this Tiger went two-for-four with her hits a double and triple. Bayley Marty and Brooke Gillespie each had two hits. Liz Dietz and Karli Siegel also hit safely.
Nicole Berens had two hits for Benson. These Braves also hit safely: Courtney McNeill, Grace Lee, Presley Gonnerman, Mackenzie Kurkosky and Knutson (first name N/A).
On to pitching: here the story had Liz Dietz getting the 'W' with five innings of work, six hits allowed, three runs (two earned) and no walks or strikeouts. Ashley Solvie logged an inning of work and she sat down one batter on strikes. Kurkosky took the pitching loss.
 
Baseball: Tigers 4, Benson 1
The MACA boys got the job done in the fifth inning. We rallied for all four of our runs in this 4-1 triumph over the Braves of Benson. Each team had five hits. Benson committed two errors while MACA had one.
Chandler Vogel pitched the whole way for the orange and black. He set down six batters and walked one in his seven innings. The one run he allowed was unearned. He allowed five hits.
Tyler Reimers picked up an RBI despite having no hits. Denner Dougherty had a double and a run scored. Ryan Bowman went one-for-three and crossed home plate once. Toby Sayles had a double and an RBI. Ryan Dietz had a one-for-two line and scored a run. Brenden Goulet went one-for-three.
 
Tigers 9, Montevideo 0
The MACA boys were dominant in this success vs. Montevideo. The shutout win showcased Ryan Bowman on the mound. Bowman allowed a mere three hits while striking out four batters and walking two. The losing pitcher was Derek Kilibarda.
Bowman got lots of support right at the start, as MACA plated four runs in the first inning. We scored four again in the fifth, and added our last run in the sixth. We had a hit total of eight and committed one error. Monte had its share of struggles in the field with five errors. The three Monte hits were by Kilibarda, Ian Jahn and Jackson Snell.
Mitchell Dufault had a potent bat for the Tigers as he doubled and drove in three runs. Alex Dougherty smacked a hit and drove in a run. Tim Travis smacked a double. Bowman doubled and picked up a ribbie. Other Tigers hitting safely were Chase Metzger, Toby Sales and Ryan Dietz. Add up the hits and you get seven, but the line score in the Willmar paper had eight.
 
ACGC 7, Tigers 1
The pitching arm of Kobe Holtz stymied the Tigers. Our only run was unearned in this 7-1 loss to the Falcons. The most telling stat about Kobe's effectiveness was strikeouts: 13. He walked no one in his six innings. Michael Dallman kept the sheen going through the seventh inning as he sat down the Tigers.
Jeremy Nelson went two-for-four and drove in three runs for the Falcons. Plus he stole a base. Adam Johnson had a two-for-four line including a double - he scored two runs, drove in one and stole a base.
Payton Kinzler went two-for-three, scored two runs and stole two bases. Jaren Kaddatz went one-for-three with two RBIs. Ethan Schultz stole a base. Michael Dallmann scored a run.
For the Tigers, Toby Sayles had two hits in three at-bats, and Chase Metzger and Jared Rohloff each connected for one hit. Sayles was the pitcher of record for MACA. Parker Dierks also employed his pitching arm for the Tigers.
We're looking forward to seeing increased signs of spring!
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com