While I readily admit I did not complete live viewings of either of the two previous games, the scores in each were my excuse. This afternoon, I watched to the bitter end, not at all aided by two broadcasters whose unenviable task, to make the San Diego Padres an interesting team, remains, I’m afraid, unfulfilled. For two (partial) nights I’ve had to listen to Don Orsillo giggle at his own athletic ineptitude and his fear of radio guy Mark Grant with his broadcast partner, Mark Sweeney. When a last place teams either trails or leads by 7 runs or more, you have to do all sorts of stuff to keep yourself awake, I guess, but it’s much harder for a person three time zones away to join in the merriment. I still miss Skip.
Which makes a nice segue to the pre-Skip days of 1966, when Braves telecasts were rare (less than 20 games a year) and you really learned who Aaron, Alou and Carty were by listening to Milo Hamilton, Larry Munson and Ernie Johnson on WSB radio. Munson famously left after the second season because Hamilton was a raging egomaniac who wouldn’t let Munson speak. Hamilton thought Munson was some guy who came into the booth unprepared and tried to wing it. Munson of course was keenly aware of the subtle lures of egomania. Trying to keep the peace was Ernie. He failed.
This is all retrospect of course; none of it was apparent to a ten year old who was just transfixed by games over radio. I only listened to Hamilton a couple of times after he left the Braves in 1975. It was horrible; but it was me that had changed, not Milo. He could tell a game story to a ten year old. I’m often rough on announcers, so let’s leave it at that.
Going into game 62, the 1966 Braves were 27-34 and playing the last of a three game set in Connie Mack Stadium. I don’t have a lot of memories of Connie Mack Stadium beyond the almost archetypal Philadelphia Story of its demise in 1970. From Wikipedia: “The [final game] was marred by souvenir hunters literally dismantling the stadium even while the game was still in progress. A special post-game ceremony – including a helicopter removal of home plate and delivery of it at The Vet – was cancelled in the mayhem.” If that doesn’t say Philly I don’t know what does.
In any case, the Braves won this game 11-6 behind yet another Aaron homer (his 21st, off future manager Roger Craig) and 5 doubles from a bunch of guys. But the game was still close in the 9th and broken open by a one-out bases-loaded pinch hit triple in the 9th from Joe Torre. Joe Torre in 1966 was fat and slow: my uncle used to say the only way he’d steal second is if they put a pizza on it and he could slide in mouth first. (That passed for humor in 1966.) After hitting this triple, Torre, evidently exhausted, was lifted for a pinch-runner (Denis Menke.) Menke scored on a balk.
The 38 year old Chi-Chi Olivo got a save which would not have been a save under current rules. More about him another week.
So the Padres decided to pitch Johnny Fullstaff against Folty. They pitched guys named Matt, Jose, Adam, and Kirby through the 7th. There is no conceivable reason to learn any of their last names, other than anagram practice, and I did that last week. Inciarte got a much-needed day off. FF homered in the 1st, but Spangenberg tripled in Renfroe to tie things up in the 2nd, and Manny Margot took advantage of Albies’ height to single in Spangenberg for the lead. The bases were loaded on some less-than-nifty footwork by Folty, but Hosmer struck out for the second time (he would eventually Golden Sombrero) to end the threat.
Two out Braves threats died in the 3rd and 4th. Albies just missed the foul pole in the 5th. Folty left after 100 pitches.
As so often happens this year, the game started in earnest the 8th. The Padres used their good reliever, Brad Hand, charter member of the All-Metonymy team. (That’s my highfaluting trope for the day.) Albies doubled, but Hand struck out Swanson, FF and Neck and looked good doing it with a sweeping off-speed pitch that nobody could touch.
In the bottom of the 8th, Freddy Galvis gets an add-on run with a safety squeeze and it’s trouble going to the 9th. Hand comes back in for a two inning save and looks just as good in the 9th.
So I guess you have to tip your cap: to Matt, Jose, Adam, Kirby and Brad. I’ll tip my cap, but I’ll be damned if I’ll learn their last names.