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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 10 – July 12, 1980

As I thought about the long winter months, I came up with a new feature for the blog, one that is as obscure as it promises to be fun. I decided I’d look back on some specific Yankees games played in years gone by, but I’d only look at one specific date on the calendar…

“The ones played on my birthday,” I thought. “I wonder if anything exciting happened for the Yankees on the day I was born and then on successive years on that date.

And with that, this new series was born.

(As always, whenever I do research like this, my first two stops are always Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.)

Let’s head back to 1980, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.


On Saturday, July 12, 1980, the Yankees were in Chicago facing the White Sox. This was the first of three games the Yankees would be playing in Chicago in what was a somewhat unique Saturday, Sunday, and Monday trip to the windy city.

The Yankees came into this game with a 52-28 record. The White Sox were 39-42.

The Yankees sent the following lineup to face Chicago:

Willie Randolph – 2b

Lou Piniella – lf

Bob Watson – 1b

Reggie Jackson – rf

Eric Solderholm – dh

Graig Nettles – 3b

Ruppert Jones – cf

Rick Cerone – c

Bucky Dent – ss

Tommy John, with a 12-3 record, was the Yankees starter.

The White Sox countered with the following lineup:

Bob Molinaro – dh

Jim Morrison – 2b

Wayne Nordhagen – lf

Lamar Johnson – 1b

Chet Lemon – cf

Kevin Bell – 3b

Harold Baines – rf

Bruce Kimm – c

Todd Cruz – ss

Ross Baumgarten (2-5) took the hill for the Chicago southsiders.

In this contest, the Yankees wasted no time scoring. Willie Randolph walked, but was erased on a fielder’s choice from the bat of Lou Piniella. Piniella was then singled to third by Bob Watson. After a Reggie Jackson strikeout, Eric Solderholm (a former White Sox) drove home Piniella with the game’s first run.

Tommy John was in his prime pitching form at this point in his career. He won 21 games for the Yankees in 1979 and would win 22 more in 1980. On this day he would try to make easy work of the White Sox.

In the White Sox first, they managed just a two-out single by Wayne Nordhagen.

The Yankees managed back-to-back two out singles in the second from Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph, but could not score.

In their half of the second inning, the White Sox got a single from Kevin Bell. They also failed to score.

The third inning saw each team have one batter reach base (for the Yankees, Reggie Jackson walked; for the White Sox, Todd Cruz singled). Still no further runs crossed the plate.

In the fourth inning, the Yankees had a one-out double from Rick Cerone. One out later, Willie Randolph walked, but Lou Piniella grounded out to end the threat.

Chet Lemon walked for Chicago in their half of the fourth inning, but he was erased on a line-drive double play.

The Yankees managed a single from Eric Solderholm in the fifth inning, but nothing else.

The White Sox were then retired in order.

After five innings, the Yankees led 1-0.

The Yankees threatened to score in the sixth inning. With one out, Rick Cerone singled. Bucky Dent then singled in front of Willie Randolph who walked. The Yankees had the bases loaded and only one out… It proved to be an empty threat. Lou Piniella and Bob Watson were both retired. No runs scored.

The White Sox had two singles of their own (Jim Morrison and Lamar Johnson) in the sixth inning, but they also couldn’t plate any runs.

Guy Hoffman came in from the bullpen to begin the seventh inning for Chicago. He retired the Yankees in order.

Tommy John returned the favor in the bottom of the seventh.

Rick Cerone and Bucky Dent each singled in the eighth inning, but still no runs scored. The White Sox also failed to score in their half of the inning.

This game went to the ninth inning as a pitcher’s duel – the Yankees were still winning just 1-0.

It was at that point that the Yankees’ bats finally awoke…

Lou Piniella led off the ninth with a single. That ended Guy Hoffman’s night.

LaMarr Hoyt came in and gave up a single to Bob Watson.

Reggie Jackson drove home Lou Piniella with a single.

Eric Solderholm then singled to load the bases. That ended Hoyt’s night. Britt Burns then came in out of the pen to face Graig Nettles. Nettles popped out.

Ruppert Jones singled home a run. The bases stayed loaded. 3-0 Yanks.

Rick Cerone singled home a run. The bases stayed loaded. 4-0 Yanks.

Bucky Dent singled home a run. The bases stayed loaded. 5-0 Yanks.

Willie Randolph then tripled home three runs to make it 8-0 in favor of the Yankees before Lou Piniella and Bob Watson were both retired on ground outs

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tommy John gave up two singles to begin the inning. One out later, future Hall-of-Famer Harold Baines, in his rookie year, was pinch hit for by Ron Pruitt. Pruitt promptly hit into a double play to end the game.

The Yankees won this pitcher’s duel 8-0, a strange score for a pitcher’s duel.

Tommy John raised his record to 13-3. In 1980, he would throw six shutouts. This was his fifth shutout of the year.

The Yankees would sweep the White Sox in this series. They won 3-1 the next day and 7-6 in the Monday game.


The next installment of this series will bring us to 1983. (Due to the player’s strike, there was no game on July 12 in 1981. The All-Star break began on July 12 in 1982 precluding any game that day.)

Stay tuned!

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 9-1

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, and 1978.)

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 29 AB, 6 hits (.206), 1 run, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks. 1 RBI (In this game, while every other starting player had at least one hit, Nettles went 0-for-5. It was the second game in a row that Nettles went hitless while all his teammates were clubbing hits all over the place.)


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