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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 3, July 12, 1970

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 1970, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.

***

Saturday, July 12, 1970 once again saw the Yankees playing the Washington Senators in Washington, D.C. On this day, the Yankees, who would end up 93-69 (and in second place in the American League East), didn’t play so well.

But first, let’s step back a moment. Most people think of the years between 1964 and 1976 as terrible years for the Yankees. Many of those years were bad, but not 1970. The Yankees actually had the third best record in the American League in 1970. (The Baltimore Orioles with 108 wins were the class of the league. The Minnesota Twins (in the West) had 98 wins. ) If there was a Wild Card back then, the Yankees would have made the playoffs.

Everyone remembers that the Miracle Mets won the World Series in 1969, but the next year, the Yankees were actually a better team. The 1970 Mets won only 83 games. The only National League team to have more wins than the 1970 Yankees was the Cincinnati Reds who won 102 games.

On July 12, the Yankees, who were 46-38, had their ace, Mel Stottlemyre (8-7) as their starting pitcher. He would be opposed by Jim Hannan (3-3). The Senators were 39-48.

The 1970 Yankees were managed by Ralph Houk. The Senators were manged by the great Ted Williams.

The following was the Yankees’ starting line-up:

Horace Clarke – 2b

Jerry Kenney – 3b

Bobby Murcer – CF

Roy White – LF

Danny Cater – 1b

Thurman Munson – C

Curt Blefary – RF

Gene Michael – SS

Mel Stottlemyre – P

The Senators didn’t have many players of note in their starting line-up. Their most notable player was their #3 hitter, the powerful Frank Howard who played first base in this game.

***

When the contest began, the Yankees jumped right out to grab an early lead in the first inning. Horace Clarke doubled. He moved to third on a ground out by Jerry Kenney and then scored on a Bobby Murcer single.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, it went downhill from there.

In their half of the first inning, the Senators scored four runs. Mel Stottlemyre, obviously, didn’t bring his best stuff to this game. The Senator’s inning went as follows:

Ed Brinkman – Double

Lee Maye – Fly Out (advanced the runner to third)

Frank Howard – RBI single (tie game)

Rick Reichardt – Hit by pitch

Bernie Allen – RBI single then, on the unsuccessful throw to third to try to nab Reichardt, he advanced to second. (Senators lead 2-1)

Aurelio Rodriguez – Intentional walk

Paul Casanova – Pop out

Del Unser – 2-run single (Senators up 4-1)

Jim Hannan – Fly out

Ouch. That was a tough first inning for Mel Stottlemyre. And, things didn’t get better for ol’ Stott in the second inning.

After the Yankees went down quietly (three ground outs and a walk), the Senators kept hitting. Ed Brinkman singled, Lee Maye flew out, Frank Howard walked, and Rick Reichardt singled home Brinkman to make the score 5-1 and end Mel Stottlemyre’s day.

Steve Hamilton came in for the Yankees and got two ground outs to end the inning.

In the Yankees’ third, Horace Clarke and Bobby Murcer both singled, by Jerry Kenney grounded into a double play and Roy White popped out.

The game got quiet at that point. Neither team scored again until the bottom of the fifth inning. By that point, Steve Hamilton’s day was done. He had pitched well, facing ten batters (the record states that he faced nine batters, but that’s only because the last batter he faced, Bernie Allen, didn’t complete his plate appearance as Rick Reichardt who had singled in front of him was caught stealing during his at bat) and allowing just one walk and one hit). Hamilton, a quality left-handed pitcher, saw his ERA on the season drop to 1.98.

Ron Klimkowski came in relief of Hamilton, retired the first two batters he faced, and then allowed a homerun to Paul Casanova. That made the score 6-1 in favor of the Senators. Klimkowski would pitch two innings allowing just that one run.

The final Yankees pitcher was Jack Aker. He threw the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed one run (in the bottom of the eighth) on four hits.

After that lone run in the first inning, the Yankees’ offense basically did nothing for the bulk of the game against the Senators’ pitching. In the fourth inning, Curt Belfary walked. In the fifth inning, Jim Lyttle (pinch-hitting for Steve Hamilton) singled. Roy White doubled and Thurman Munson walked in the sixth inning. (That was a big inning for the Yankees on this day.) Jerry Kenny had a single in the seventh inning and Danny Cater had a single in the eight inning.

It was only in the ninth inning that things got a little exciting…

Down 7-1, Curt Blefary led off the ninth with a single. One out later, Ron Hansen pinch-hit for Jack Aker. Hansen hit a two-run homer to make it 7-3. Horace Clark then singled to end Jim Hannan’s day. The Senators brought in Darold Knowles. That ended it all rather quickly and uneventfully. Jerry Kenney struck out and Bobby Murcer grounded out to end the game.

After this game, baseball headed into the All-Star break.

The National League would win the 1970 All-Star game 5-4. Frank Howard of the Senators started in the game as the left fielder. He went 0-for-2. This was the game when Pete Rose famously crashed into Ray Fosse at home to score the winning run for the National League. (See the Sunday Night Special tonight at 7:00 p.m. here on SSTN.)

The Yankees had three players suit up for the 1970 All-Star game. Those three players were Roy White, Mel Stottlemyre, and Fritz Peterson. Stottlemyre and Peterson both pitched, but Roy White didn’t appear in the game.

Of note, there were actually twenty players on the All-Star Game rosters that day who would eventually make it to the Hall-of-Fame. (See if you can name them all in the comments below.)

***

The next installment of this series will bring us to 1971.

Yankees Record on July 12 (since 1968): 2-1

#BirthdayBaseball

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