It just occured that I never shared the details of the first Yankees game that I ever attended at the Stadium. It was a great game. Here’s the news report from that contest:
August 9, 1973
Yank old pros win one with two out in 9th
By Jim Ogle
Gene Michael has a bad foot, a sore bunion and a bandaged big toe … but, he’s a professional; Felipe Alou packs 38 years and pulled a calf muscle in yesterday’s pre-game drill … but he’s a real pro, too.
Thurman Munson has an inbred spirit of competition (“He even wants to beat me at ping pong.” says his wife, Diane) and the instincts of a riverboat gambler … and he used both; Bobby Murcer is emerging from team frustration as a leader, a guy who is “bustin’ his butt” everyday.
Put them together and they spell a 3-2, ninth-inning victory over the Texas Rangers yesterday. It was a rerun of what had been happening for two weeks—until the quartet of pros changed the script, chasing frustration and finding opportunities.
Chagrined at what he thought was a bad call on a 3-0 pitch, Murcer ripped a double to open the ninth. With one out, Munson lined a single to center that scored Murcer despite Bobby holding up a bit.
“The way things have been going with us I thought he’d make a sensational diving catch,” Murcer said. “When the ball hopped up on him, I was going to make the try.” Harris didn’t even make a throw.
Celerino Sanchez took a called third strike and it was up to Felipe, who had driven home the first run with a long fly, but had an 0 for 23 streak going. In the streak were a lot of caught line drives, but now Felipe topped a slow roller to Toby Harrah – and beat it out.
Gene Michael had played a doubleheader Tuesday night and was given yesterday off — until the eighth inning. He came up for the first time and looped a 3-1 pitch into right field, just in front of Bill Sudakis, who had made two fine catches earlier.
The ball was in short right field, Sudakis can throw but there was never a chance to cut off the winning run — because Munson likes to take chances.
“I had a super jump because Harrah and Nelson left the middle open,” Munson said. “As soon as I saw Gene start to move the bat on the 3-1 pitch I was rolling. I was already at third while Dick (Howser) was still watching the ball. I was going man, no matter what.
“No, I didn’t know where the ball was. All I knew Gene had hit it and there were two out, so what could happen if I kept going. We just had to pull one out like that.”
“I’m surprised we won the SOB,” a weary Murcer said. “The way things have been happening to us, you have to be surprised when something good happens.”
“I think I’m a better hitter with men on base,” Michael said. “I concentrate more and try harder to do something. I know I’m not a good hitter, so, I try to compensate by delivering hits when they count. I’ve been doing pretty well this year.”
The RBI enabled Gene to reach 40 for the first time in his career, while it was also his fifth game-winning hit, which gave the Yanks a two-game streak. It’s little, but welcome.
Fritz Peterson stood to lose the game despite making only one pitch — which Nelson beat out for a single. Covering first, Peterson had aggravated the muscle in his thigh that he pulled last Saturday. Fritz left and Fred Beene went the rest of the way for his sixth victory without a defeat.
“In my book I pitched a complete game,” Beene said. “I know it won’t be in the records, but in my mind I have pitched a complete game.
“Maybe a complete game was once one of my goals, but now I’m only concerned with ‘the team’ and I’m just glad to be here and lucky enough to contribute.”
A few years back, I found someone who interviewed Beene for his website – and he passed me Fred’s e-mail address. I wrote to Beene and remind him about this game. He remembered it. I thought that was pretty cool.
There were a lot of future managers who played in that game – Toby Harrah, Jim Fregosi, and Felipe Alou. Also, some future G.M.’s – Tom Grieve and Hal Lanier. And, of course, Gene Michael went on to be a manager and a G.M.