Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Back in the dark days of January, Mick Doherty posted a cunning Question of the Day.

"Your life depends on this game (again?) and you trail by one with two down in the bottom of the ninth. You have runners -- Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock, actually -- on second and third and you can pick one hitter, from any team, any era, to stride to the plate to take his whacks against Dennis Eckersley. A walk does you no good, as the only other hitter available to you is Bob Buhl. Who do you tell to grab a bat?"

Bauxites, as always, rose to the challenge.

The nominations poured forth. Eventually the accounting firm of Winken, Blinken, and Knutts tallied up the votes.

We had a tie, gentle readers: Barry Bonds and Ted Williams drew an equal amount of support. Close behind them were Ichiro Suzuki, Tony Gwynn, and George Brett. Also receiving support were many hitters great and small, including such worthies as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Kirk Gibson, Ty Cobb, Tip O'Neill, Hal Trosky, Carl Yastrzemski, Mickey Mantle, Carlos Beltran, Vladimir Guerrerro, Pete Rose, Manny Mota, Gonzalo Marquez, and Salma Hayek. Salma Hayek?

Yeah, I wondered about that last one, too. Lucas' rationale was "Henderson and Brock steal home while Eck gawks at her." That would certainly work if I was on the mound; but then again if I was on the mound you could cheerfully send Bob Buhl up to hit.

My guy was Carl Yastrzemski. No one else mentioned him. This leads me to believe that very few of you were among us as the last two weeks of the 1967 season played out. Truth to tell, I wasn't paying all that much attention myself. We all missed something special.

So step with me into the Way-Back Machine. It is the evening of September 17, 1967. The Summer of Love is melting into autumn. "Mission: Impossible" made its network debut this very evening on CBS; you watched it, you thought it was pretty cool. Especially the blonde babe. The expansion New Orleans Saints played their very first NFL game, and surprise! They lost. Words we will hear again and again over the years.

In baseball, the National League race is over. With two weeks to go, the Cardinals have a 12.5 game lead on the Giants - their magic number is 1. In the American League, however, things are quite a bit closer:

Detroit Tigers 151 85 65 .566 -
Chicago White Sox 151 85 66 .562 0.5
Boston Red Sox 150 84 66 .560 1.0
Minnesota Twins 152 84 66 .560 1.0

The stage, you might say, was set for one of the greatest pennant races in baseball history. Here is how those final two weeks unfolded.

Monday September 18, 1967 - In Kansas City, Jim Kaat of the Twins and a very young Jim Hunter hooked up in a classic pitcher's duel. The Twins scored twice with two out in the 10th inning and won 2-0. The Angels nipped the White Sox 3-2 on a 9th inning RBI single from Rick Reichardt. In Detroit, the Red Sox and Tigers engaged in a see saw affair. Yastrzemski's 2b keyed Boston's 3 runs in the 1st. The Tigers tied it up in the 2nd. Yaz came up in the 3rd with Andrews on first, and singled him to third, from where he scored on a sac fly. The Tigers tied it up in the 6th and went ahead in the 8th. Yaz hit a HR in the 9th to tie it up again, and the Sox won in 10. After the game, Tigers pitcher Denny McLain sprained his ankle leaping off a couch and would be out of action for the next two weeks.

At the end of play, Boston, Detroit, and Minnesota had identical 85-66 records; the White Sox were now half a game behind. The Cardinals, behind Bob Gibson's 12th victory, clinch the NL pennant.

Tuesday September 19, 1967 - Nine days after throwing a no-hitter against the Tigers, Joel Horlen of the White Sox tossed a 6 hit shutout to beat the Angels 3-0. The Twins pounded KC 8-2 behind Dave Boswell. In Detroit, the Red Sox trailed 2-1 going to the 9th. After a leadoff single, Yaz, hitless on the day, drew a walk. George Scott drove in the tying run. It was followed by a sac bunt, an intentional walk, a wild pitch, another intentional walk, and a sac fly as the Sox scored three to win it.

At the end of play, Boston and Minnesota were tied at 86-66; the White Sox were still half a game back, and Detroit had fallen to a full game behind.

Wednesday September 20, 1967 - The White Sox scored 4 off the Angels in the 1st and Tommy John struggled through 5 to get his 10th win of the year, 6-4. Al Kaline hit a HR and a pair of 2bs as the Tigers pounded the Yankees 10-1 behind Joe Sparma. Dean Chance and the Twins beat KC 6-2. In Cleveland, the Red Sox fell behind 2-0 after 5. Yaz and Petrocelli hit 6th inning Hrs to put the Sox on top. Cleveland eventually tied it at 4-4 in the 8th. With two down in the 9th, Yaz singled for his 4th hit of the game, went to second on a WP, and scored the winning run on a Scott single.

At the end of play, the standings were the same. Boston and Minnesota in a dead heat, the White Sox half a game behind, Detroit one game behind.

Thursday September 21, 1967 - Jim Merritt threw a two hit shutout as the Twins beat KC 4-0. Yaz walked and scored in Boston's 3 run 6th; they hung on to beat Cleveland 6-5. Chicago and Detroit were off.

So at the end of the day, Boston and Minnesota are still in a dead heat; the White Sox are now a full game back, and Detroit trails by a game and a half.

Friday September 22, 1967 - In Minnesota, Cesar Tovar hit a pair of HRs as Jim Kaat beat Mel Stottlemyre and the Yankees 8-2. The White Sox 2-1 lost a heartbreaker when Tony Horton led off the bottom of 13th with a HR against September call-up Roger Nelson. Detroit swept a DH with Washington: Earl Wilson won his 22nd of the year in the opener; Mickey Lolich threw a 4-hit shutout in the nightcap. In Baltimore, Orioles rookie Jim Hardin blanked the Red Sox on 5 hits in the first game of two. The Orioles went up by a pair in the second game. Yaz singled to start a five run rally in the 4th, and the Sox cruised to a 10-3 win and salvaged a split.

At the end of the day, Minnesota (89-66) is alone in first place, Boston trails by half a game, Detroit by one, and Chicago by two.

Saturday September 23, 1967 - Joel Horlen pitched his second straight shutout as the White Sox beat Cleveland 3-0. Rookie call-up Tom Shopay hit the first of his 3 career HRs - it was a 3 run shot off Dave Boswell, and the Yankees upset Minnesota 6-2. But Boston couldn't take advantage. Yaz hit a 2 run HR in the 5th to give them a 5-4 lead over the Orioles, but Brooks Robinson matched that in the 7th to give the Orioles the win.

At the end of the day, Minnesota leads Boston and Detroit by half a game; the White Sox are now one game back.

Sunday September 24, 1967 - In Minnesota, Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew homered and Dean Chance won his 20th, beating the Yankees 9-4. Chicago kept pace, as veteran Don McMahon pitched 5 strong innings of relief in a 3-1 win over Cleveland. Detroit took a 4-2 lead to the 9th, but the Senators rallied for three off Fred Lasher and John Hiller and handed them a tough 5-4 loss. In Baltimore, the Red Sox pounded out 18 hits and Jim Lonborg won his 21st game 11-7.

At the end of the day, Minnesota still leads Boston by half a game; Chicago trails by one, Detroit by one and a half.

Monday September 25, 1967 - In a matinee, Jim Fregosi rapped out three hits and scored three runs, as the Angels took a quick 7-0 lead over the Twins and won 9-2. In the evening, Al Downing pitched a 4 hit shutout, as New York beat Detroit 2-0. Boston and Chicago have the day off, and it was a profitable one.

At the end of the day, Minnesota and Boston are back in a dead heat; Chicago trails by half a game, Detroit by one and a half.

Tuesday September 26, 1967 - At Yankee Stadium, Mickey Lolich and Mel Stottlemyre hooked in a dandy. Lolich allowed 4 hits, Stottlemyre just 3. Former Braves great Eddie Mathews delivered a sac fly for Detroit to account for the only run in a 1-0 Tigers victory. In Minnesota, Harmon Killebrew hit a pair of homers, giving him 43 for the season, as Jim Kaat beat the Angels 7-3. At Fenway, the Indians jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Yaz tried to bring them back with a double and a three-run HR off Luis Tiant, but the Sox lost 6-3. Chicago was idle again.

At the end of the day, Minnesota leads Chicago and Boston by a full game. Detroit trails by one and a half.

Wednesday September 27, 1967 - Everybody loses except Detroit, who didn't play. At Fenway, Sonny Siebert and two Cleveland relievers combined for a 5-hit shutout in the Indians 6-0 win. The Angels roughed up their old ace, Dean Chance, and beat the Twins 5-1. The White Sox had a disastrous day, losing twice to the lowly Athletics. Chuck Dobson beat them in the opener; Jim Hunter pitched a three-hitter in the second game.

At the end of the day, with just three games remaining, Minnesota leads Detroit and Boston by a single game. The White Sox are one and a half back, but because the teams in front of them will be playing each other on the final weekend, they are effectively eliminated.

Thursday September 28, 1967 - Off day for everyone. Take a deep breath.

Friday September 29, 1967 - And then there were three. Phil Ortega of the Senators beats the White Sox 1-0, officially eliminating Chicago from the race. The other AL contenders are idle. In Atlanta, Bob Uecker played the final game of his fabled major league career.

Saturday September 30, 1967 - In the first of two, Mickey Lolich threw a 3-hitter as Detroit beat the Angels 5-0. Meanwhile at Fenway, the Twins and Red Sox are having it out. Yaz singled in the 5th to put Boston ahead 2-1. The Twins tied it in the top of the 6th. George Scott hit a solo HR in the bottom half. Yaz settled everything with a 3-run shot in the 7th. Minnesota and Boston now have identical 91-70 records with one game remaining. Detroit makes it a three way tie, but the Tigers, at 90-69, still have three games left to play. In the second game of their double-header with the Angels, they jumped out to a 6-2 lead. But Jim Fregosi started the Angel 8th with a leadoff single and after another eight men had come to the plate, Fregosi capped the inning with another single, this one driving the final two runs of a 6 run rally that handed the Tigers an 8-6 loss. The Tigers will now have to sweep their Sunday doubleheader in order to finish in a tie with whoever wins the Sunday showdown between the Twins and the Red Sox.

Sunday October 1, 1967 - The Tigers got the first win they needed, as Joe Sparma beat the Angels for his 16th win. Meanwhile at Fenway, two 20 game winners were fighting it out. Dean Chance and the Twins took a 2-0 lead off Jim Lonborg into the 6th. In the bottom half, Yaz delivered a two run single to tie the game; he then came around to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. The Sox added two more in the inning and hung on for the 5-3 win. In the second game at Detroit, Denny McLain finally returned to the Tiger rotation but the Angels roughed him up early and win it 8-5. It was all over.

Your final standings:

Boston Red Sox 162 92 70 .567 -
Detroit Tigers 163 91 71 .561 1.0
Minnesota Twins 164 91 71 .561 1.0
Chicago White Sox 162 89 73 .549 3.0

Yaz went 4-4 in the final game; he had 10 hits in his last 13 at bats. It gave him the Triple Crown, and he is still the last man to achieve that feat.

This is what he did over those last two weeks, in 12 games of what was probably the closest, most intense pennant race ever:

12 44 14 23 4 0 5 16 8 1 .523 .604 .955

That's pretty decent high-pressure production. I'll take it.

They sure haven't forgotten it in Boston. Yaz made the final out of the 1975 World Series, and the final out of the 1978 playoff against the Yankees. These two weeks in 1967 are why they don't give him a hard time about it.

The Ballad of Yaz | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST (#105437) #
Oh, and Yaz did hit .400 in the 67 Series with 3 homers. Alas, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock got the headlines. To the victors go the spoils.

I was 8 years old in 1967. We had just got our first TV set, and Yaz and Keon were my heroes. Oh, innocence...

Thanks, Magpie.
King Ryan - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 03:42 PM EST (#105440) #
Not to make you guys feel old, but my father was only 10 in 1967. ;)

Nonetheless, another great article, Magpie.

Hamboy - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 04:18 PM EST (#105445) #
Yaz was before my time... way before... but he has been my favourite non-pitching player... oh... forever. I've read everything about him and all the great games he played...
But nothing like this... that last 12 games in '67, [from descrption] seems magical to Sox fan...
Thanks Magpie, for letting me see those games in my head...
Brett - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 09:31 PM EST (#105594) #
Another great read, Magpie.

Joel Horlen had a great year, but man, I never realized how great his September was - the pitching equivalent of what Yaz did. Seven starts, a 5-1 record, five complete games, three shutouts, and a no-hitter. In his no-decision, he threw eight shutout innings, a game that the Sox finally won in the 13th. His loss was on the 27th, when the Sox were shut out by Catfish. The were eliminated the next game.

Still, that's 58 1/3 innings, and a 0.93 ERA, a pretty good month. Their entire pitching staff was remarkable that season; the bullpen had two knuckleballers.
Willy - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 09:48 PM EST (#105608) #
I've at last been enabled to login (thanks Aaron). Anyone else using Netscape who can't login? Anyway, now I can tell Magpie how superb his recent articles have been. Really enjoyed them--especially the Stieb one.

I saw Yaz play a few times at Exhibition Stadium, when he was on the downside of his career but could still beat you. A friend in Boston was so over the moon about the '67 season that he purchased and mailed to me a record (the old LP's, remember?) called, I think, "The Impossible Dream"--radio clips mostly, as I recall, about the team's and especially Yaz's magnificent efforts all year. Still have it somewhere. Yaz ruled Boston.

Don McMahon. Wow. Wasn't he the tall, skinny guy with Dumbo the Elephant ears--often cited as baseball's most homely player?
Magpie - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 11:35 PM EST (#105628) #
I'm pretty sure this is who you have in mind.

Mike Green - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 08:55 AM EST (#105639) #
Believe it or not, that's a flattering picture of Mossi. He's missing the Arafat stubble that is the crowning glory of his "best" shots.
Willy - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:31 AM EST (#105652) #
Yes, that's him. Sheesh, how could I forget that face? (Well, the face, and the team, I did remember--forgot the name. It'll happen to you guys, too. Don't be smug.)

Thanks, Magpie.
The Ballad of Yaz | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.