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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 4, July 12, 1971, Ummm… 1972

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 1971, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.

***

July 12, 1971 was a Monday. There was no baseball that day, it was the first day of the All-Star Break. The next day, Tuesday, July 13, the American League would defeat the National League 6-4 in a game played in Detroit. Future Yankee (and future Hall-of-Famer) Reggie Jackson hit a famous monstrous homerun in that game that almost left the ballpark.

Future, current, or former Yankees who played in that All-Star Game were: Dock Ellis (starting N.L. pitcher), Bobby Bonds (N.L.), and for the A.L., Bobby Murcer (starter in center field), Thurman Munson, and the aforementioned Reggie Jackson. Sam McDowell and Andy Mesersmith were pitchers on the American League squad. Future Yankees manager, Joe Torre started for the National League. He played third base and batted third in the lineup.

Let’s advance to 1972…

***

On Wednesday, July 12, as I turned five years old, the Yankees played in California and defeated the Angels 5-0.

The Yankees lineup that day was as follows:

Ron Swoboda (rf)

Thurman Munson (c)

Bobby Murcer (cf)

Roy White (lf)

Ron Blomberg (1b)

Bernie Allen (2b)

Celerino Sanchez (3b)

Jerry Kenney (ss)

Mel Stottlemyre (p)

This would be the last time a pitcher batted in the line-up on my birthday as the next year, 1973, brought with it the Designated Hitter.

The Angels line-up that day was bereft of stars. In 1972, the Angels ended up 75-80 in fifth place in the A.L. West. At the time of this game, they were 36-44. (The Yankees came in at 37-37 and would finish 79-76 in fourth place in the East.)

While the Angels didn’t have a lot of stars in their line-up, they did house a host of future Yankees. These included Sandy Alomar, Jim Spencer, and Rudy May. Former Yankee Steve Barber appeared in the game as did future coach Jeff Torborg.

The game itself was crisp and quickly played. It lasted all of two hours and sixteen minutes.

Lloyd Allen was the Angels pitcher facing Mel Stottlemyre of the Yankees.

After a quiet first inning, the Yankees began the scoring in the second. Ron Blomberg reached on an error. Bernie Allen then walked. Celerino Sanchez then singled to load the bases for… Jerry Kenney.

Kenney was not known for his bat – and especially not for his power. He hit a grand total of seven homers in his career. In 1972, he wouldn’t hit any. There was no reason for Lloyd Allen to pitch around Kenney, but he did. Kenney walked and drove home one of his seven runs batted in for the entire season. Mel Stottlemyre then came up and singled home two more runs. The Yankees quickly led 3-0. And they weren’t done.

Ron Swoboda flew out, but Thurman Munson followed that with an RBI double making the score 4-0 in favor if the team from the Bronx.

Munson’s double knocked out Allen and in from the bullpen came Steve Barber, former Yankee and also noted for appearing throughout Jim Bouton’s Ball Four.

Barber got Murcer to ground out (no run scored), he intentionally walked Roy White, and then he retired Ron Blomberg (up for the second time that inning) to fly out to centerfield.

The Angels, on the other hand, were doing nothing against Mel Stottlemyre. Ol’ Stott retired the Californians in order in the first inning and the second inning. He allowed two singles (but no runs) in the third inning. He then set down the Angels in order in the fourth, fifth*, and sixth innings.

Steve Barber was doing the same. Including Blomberg’s flyout, he retired 13 consecutive batters. Well, sort of…

Stottlemyre allowed a single in the bottom of the fifth inning, but faced only three batters due to a double play. Barber did the same in the top of the sixth.

Rudy May came in for California to begin the seventh inning. The Yankees finally sent up more than three batters as Thurman Munson has a two-out walk before Bobby Murcer flew out.

The Angels seeing how much fun it is to have four batters bat in an inning did the same in the bottom of the frame. Jim Spencer had a two-out single.

In the eighth inning, to make things real exciting, Ron Blomberg has a one out walk as the Yankees again sent up four batters, but scored no runs.

The Angels got two singles in their half of the eighth. Two singles, but no runs.

In the ninth, the Yankees, now facing Eddie Fisher saw Jerry Kenney lead off with a walk. He was sacrificed to second by Stottlemyre. Ron Swoboda then struck out, but Thurman Munson drove home Kenney with the Yankees’ fifth run.

Mel Stottlemyre retired the Angels in order in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory, his 9th of the year (against 10 losses). The complete game shutout was Stottlemyre’s fifth shutout of the year. In 1972, Stottlemyre would throw a total of seven complete game shutouts as he went 14-18, 3.22. (Half of his 14 victories that season were shutouts.)

***

The next installment of this series will bring us to 1973.

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 3-1

(There was no game played in 1971.)

#BirthdayBaseball

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