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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 6 – July 12, 1974

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 1974, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.

***

On Friday, July 12, 1974, the Yankees played host to the World Champion Oakland A’s.

The high flying A’s came in with a record of 48-37. The Yankees were just 42-43. On this day, the A’s would have lefty (and future Yankee) Ken Holtzman (9-10) taking the hill against Pat Dobson (6-11) of the Yankees.

The A’s sent the following line-up to battle the Yankees that day:

Billy North-cf

Bert Campaneris – ss (a future Yankee)

Sal Bando – 3b

Reggie Jackson – rf (a future Yankee)

Joe Rudi – dh

Claudell Washington – lf (a future Yankee)

Gene Tenace – 1b

Ted Kubiak – 2b

Larry Haney – c

The Yankees countered with the following lineup:

Roy White – dh

Elliott Maddox – cf

Bobby Murcer -rf

Thurman Munson – c

Otto Velez – 1b

Lou Piniella – lf

Graig Nettles – 3b

Jim Mason – ss

Sandy Alomar – 2b

The A’s came to bat first and Pat Dobson made easy work of them. The only blemish was a two-out walk he issued to Sal Bando. Dobson made up for that by striking out Reggie Jackson.

Ken Holtzman then retired the Yankees in order on two groundouts and a flyout.

Pat Dobson kept the strikeouts coming in the second inning. He struck out Joe Rudi and Claudell Washington before walking Gene Tenace. He then retired Ted Kubiak on a ground out to the pitcher’s mound.

Thurman Munson started the Yankees’ second inning with a double. One out later, he scored on a Lou Piniella hit. Piniella tried to make his hit to right field a double but Reggie Jackson gunned him out at second base. Graig Nettles then flew out to end the frame.

In the top of the third, Pat Dobson did three things he hadn’t done in any inning yet: (1) He allowed no walks (2) He recorded no strikeouts and (3) He retired the side in order.

The Yankees also went quietly in the third inning.

The only excitement in either half of the fourth inning was a two-out single by Thurman Munson.

Both teams were retired in order in the fifth inning as well.

As the sixth inning was about to start, the Yankees were winning 1-0, on but three hits. The A’s, though, were being no hit!

That would all change, of course, as Larry Haney who entered the game batting just .129 (yes, you read that correctly) doubled the left field. It mattered little, apart from breaking up Dobson’s no-no; he retired the next three batters in order.

In their half of the sixth, the Yankees did nothing. Elliott Maddox did reach base on an error.

As the Yankees took the field for the seventh inning, Elliott Maddox was out of the game. Bobby Murcer took his spot in centerfield and Walt Williams replaced Murcer in right. Pat Dobson then retired the A’s in order.

The Yankees threatened to score in their half of the seventh inning. Bobby Murcer led off with a double. Thurman Munson then struck out. An Otto Velez ground out made it look like the inning might pass quickly. But then Lou Piniella (a righty hitter against the lefty Holtzman) was intentionally walked. That brought up Graig Nettles who also walked. Jim Mason then came up with the bases loaded and… wait! Mason didn’t come up. The Yankees sent Bill Sudakis up as a pinch-hitter.

Sudakis promptly struck out.

In the eighth, Gene Michael took over at shortstop for the Yankees. Pat Dobson, on this day, didn’t care who played behind him. He struck out Gene Tenace. Jesus Alou then pinch hit for Larry Haney. Alou grounded out. Pat Bourque then pinch-hit for Larry Haney (the only guy who had a hit for the A’s that day). Like Mighty Casey, he struck out. (Ok, the analogy was a poor one. Bourque was a lifetime .215 hitter over four big league seasons.)

In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees’ bats came alive. Sandy Alomar doubled to start the inning. Roy White drove him home with a single. Walt Williams then singled. Bobby Murcer followed with an RBI single of his own, but Williams was out gunning for third (another Reggie Jackson outfield assist). It was now 3-0 in favor of the Yankees. Murcer’s single ended Ken Holtzman’s night. The A’s then called on their ace reliever, future Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers.

Fingers struck out Thurman Munson and Otto Velez.

Pat Dobson (possibly remembering that he threw a complete game on July 12 the previous year, or not) went out for the ninth inning sporting a one-hit shutout. Bill North led off the inning with a single, but then the next three batters all grounded out to end the game.

The Yankees won, again, on July 12. On this occasion it was an easy 3-0 victory behind a masterful performance by Pat Dobson who allowed but two hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Dobson wouldn’t know it at the time, but he’d get the call again on July 12 in 1975…

***

The next installment of this series will bring us to 1975.

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 5-1

(There was no game played in 1971.)

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 7 AB, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 strikeout, 1 walk

#BirthdayBaseball

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