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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 2, July 12, 1969

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 1969, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.

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Saturday, July 12, 1969 saw the Yankees playing the Washington Senators in Washington, D.C. This was a day game played in the nation’s capital.

This game was second of a four game series that the Yankees would be playing against the Senators. The night before, the Yankees defeated the Senators 4-3. Mel Stottlemyre went the distance for the Yankees in that game winning his 13th game of the year.

Both teams knew that with the next day would come a Sunday double header.

This game on July 12 would feature a pitching match-up between Bill Burbach of the Yankees against Dick Bosman for the Senators.

Bill Burbach entered the game with a 5-7 record. This was Burbach’s rookie season. He had been the Yankees’ first round draft pick in the 1965 player’s draft. He was, in fact, the first player ever taken by the Yankees as 1965 was the year the draft began. (Rick Monday was the first player ever selected in the draft. He was selected by the Kansas City A’s. )

Also in the draft were the following future Yankees of note Jim Spencer (11th pick, California Angels), Andy Messersmith (53, Detroit Tigers), Frank Tepedino (55, Baltimore Orioles), Ken Holtzman (61, Chicago Cubs), Stan Bahnsen (68, Yankees), and Dick Tidrow (323, Washington Senators).

Graig Nettles was chosen #74 in that draft by the Minnesota Twins.

There were also three future Hall-of-Famers chosen in that draft. These three greats were Johnny Bench (36, Cincinnati Reds), Tom Seaver (190, Los Angeles Dodgers), and Nolan Ryan (226, New York Mets).

On this sunny afternoon in Washington, the Yankees fielded the following lineup:

Horace Clarke – 2b

Jerry Kenney – 3b

Bobby Murcer – rf

Joe Pepitone – 1b

Roy White – lf

Ron Woods – cf

Gene Michael – ss

Jake Gibbs – c

As the pitcher, since this was a few years before the designated hitter, Burbach batted ninth.

Notable players on the Senators that day were Del Unser (who had also been chosen in that 1965 draft), and Frank Howard (who would later be a Yankees coach).

There was one other former Yankee in the game that day… the home plate umpire was Bill Kunkel who had actually pitched for the Yankees in 1963.

After a quiet first inning, the Yankees commenced the scoring in the top of the second inning. Joe Pepitone led off the inning with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Roy White.

The Senators answered right back in their half of the inning on a lead-off solo homer by Ken McMullen.

The pitchers then took over…

Dick Bosman allowed only five singles and no runs until the seventh inning. Not to be outdone, Bill Burbach allowed only four singles and two walks (and no runs) in that same span.

The Yankees scored again (finally) in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Jake Gibbs hit a ground rule double. Bill Burbach then singled Gibbs to third. (Little would Burbach know, but that hit, his fourth of the season, and of his career, would be his last – ever. It would also be the last time he’d ever reach base in a big league game as he never even drew a walk after that day.)

With runners on first and third, leadoff hitter Horace Clark popped out to shortstop (the game report calls this a fly out, so it may have been a shallow fly that the shortstop went into the outfield to catch). With now two outs, Jerry Kenny (who would one day be part of the package that brought Graig Nettles to the Yankees) singled home Gibbs. This gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

Dick Bosman was then removed and Darold Knowles came in to face (and strikeout) Bobby Murcer.

In the bottom of the seventh, Burbach walked a batter, but then Frank Thomas hit into a double play.

The Yankees scored again in the eighth inning on three singles – one each by Roy White, Ron Woods, and Jake Gibbs.

In the home half of the eighth, Mike Epstein led off with a walk. That walk ended Burbach’s day. Jack Aker came in to try to preserve the win. He got an immediate double play, gave up two hits, and then retired the side.

Neither team scored in the ninth inning. The Yankees won the game 3-1.

Bill Burbach earned the victory to raise his record to 6-7. This is sad, but that win was his last in the Major Leagues. On July 12, 1969, Bill Burbach recorded his last hit and the last win of his Major League career.

Jack Aker earned his 7th save of the year.

The Yankees would drop both games of the double header the next day.

1969 was the first year of divisional play in baseball. In the newly formed American league East, the Yankees finished with an 80-81 record and placed fifth out of six teams in the division. The Yankees finished 28.5 games behind the league leading Baltimore Orioles.

***

The next installment of this series will bring us into the 1970’s… July 12, 1970.

Yankees Record on July 12 (since 1968): 2-0.

#BirthdayBaseball

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