Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 7 – July 12, 1975
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 1975, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.
On Saturday, July 12, 1975, the Yankees played host to the Minnesota Twins. This was to be the last game of the first half of the season as the All-Star break would begin immediately after the game.
The Twins came in with a record of 39-48. The Yankees were 45-41.
The Twins sent Jim Hughes to the mound to face the Yankees. He would pitch eight innings in this game, but would end up being one of five Twins pitchers…
The Yankees sent Catfish Hunter to the mound. He would also pitch eight innings…and would be one of six (!) Yankees pitchers to appear in this game.
It was a long night’s journey into many days…
The Twins set the following as their starting lineup:
Dan Ford – cf
Rod Carew – 2b (future Hall-of-Famer)
Johnny Briggs – 1b (from Paterson, NJ)
Tony Oliva – dh
Larry Hisle – rf
Steve Braun – lf
Jerry Terrell – 3b
Glenn Borgmann – c (also born in Paterson, NJ)
Luis Gomez – ss
(Glenn Borgmann was the first Major League Baseball player I ever met. My father took me to see him at an event in Oakland, New Jersey in the late 1970’s. I believe Borgmann lived in Oakland at that time, but I couldn’t find confirmation of that. I remember Borgmann showing us how to properly hold a baseball when throwing it. I still have his autograph, and a great memory, from that day.)
The Yankees countered with the following lineup:
Rich Coggins – cf
Ron Blomberg – dh
Roy White – lf
Thurman Munson – c
Chris Chambliss – 1b
Graig Nettles – 3b
Lou Piniella – lf
Jim Mason – ss
Sandy Alomar -2b
With the parameters now set, let’s take a look at the game action.
Jim “Catfish” Hunter made easy work of the Twins in the first inning allowing just a two-out walk to Johnny Briggs. He also struck out Dan Ford.
The Yankees then wasted no time scoring. Rich Coggins singled and was advanced to second on a Ron Blomberg ground out. Roy White then drove home Coggins and advanced to second on the throw home. Thurman Munson walked before Chris Chambliss drove home White with a single that sent Munson to third. That quickly, the Yankees were up 2-0. Graig Nettles then reached on a fielder’s choice (Munson out at the plate) and Lou Piniella grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the second inning, Steve Braun homered for the Twins to cut the Yankees’ lead to 2-1. The score would stay 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Roy White, Graig Nettles, and Lou Piniella all had singles, with Piniella’s driving home White to give the Yankees a 3-1 cushion.
Catfish Hunter cruised into the eighth inning holding that 3-1 lead. Tony Oliva then led off the Twins’ half of the eighth with a solo homer to bring the Twins within one. Hunter held the line and didn’t allow any other runs in the eighth.
The Yankees failed to score in their half of the eighth inning which brought them to the ninth inning.
You know that old adage about players just packing it in before the All-Star break or at the end of the season? Well, these guys didn’t pack it in. It was in the ninth inning that the game got interesting.
Danny Thompson led off for the Twins. Thompson had come into the game in the bottom of the seventh inning as the shortstop after starter Luis Gomez was pinch-hit for the previous half inning. Thompson greeted Catfish Hunter with a double to left field. That hit ended Hunter’s night. It also ended Thompson’s night as Lyman Bostock came in to pinch run for him.
In came Dick Tidrow to try to hold the Yankees lead. Dan Ford came up and hit an infield single to third base that actually kept Bostock at second.
Seeing that the game might be getting away from the Yankees, Tidrow was immediately removed and bullpen ace Sparky Lyle was brought in to face Rod Carew. Carew won this battle singling home Bostock with the tying run. Johnny Briggs then had a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Tony Oliva then put the Twins ahead (4-3) with a single that ended Lyle’s night. (Sparky Lyle’s line on the night: three batters faced, no outs, three hits.)
The Yankees then called on Doc Medich who gave up a two-run single to Larry Hisle before getting the final two outs of the inning. Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Yankees now trailed 6-3.
Light hitting Jim Mason led off the bottom of the ninth for the Yankees with a single. That brought up Alex Johnson as a pinch hitter for light hitting Fred Stanley (who had entered the game a few innings previous as the Yankees used light hitting Ed Hermann to pinch hit for light hitting Sandy Alomar).
Johnson popped out to second base.
Rich Coggins then came up. Coggins played in a grand total of 58 games for the Yankees. In his Yankees career, he hit but one home run. Yup, he hit that homer in this game in the bottom of the ninth inning off relief pitcher Tom Johnson. The Yankees had cut their deficit to 6-5.
Rick Dempsey then came up. Rick Dempsey, the designated hitter, who had previously come into the game for Ron Blomberg. Rick Dempsey, the DH, who owned a career .233 batting average, singled, of course. Roy White then moved Dempsey to second on a ground out and Thurman Munson drove him home to tie the game.
Unfortunately, for both teams, the Yankees couldn’t push that seventh run across the plate.
The game went into extra innings.
The Twins didn’t score in the tenth. Neither did the Yankees.
The Twins didn’t score in the eleventh. Neither did the Yankees.
The Twins didn’t score in the twelfth.
Neither did the Yankees.
didn’t score in the 13th.
And neither did
(Forgive me, this just was feeling more and more like it need poetic stanzas.)
The fourteenth inning came and still there was no scoring.
A few innings earlier, Pat Dobson, who always seems to have pitched on July 12, had entered the game for the Yankees. He faced eleven batters and had retired them all. But, it’s at this point that our story takes an interesting turn.
The game was suspended in the middle of the fourteenth inning due to a curfew.
The city that never sleeps had to go… to sleep.
The game was resumed on July 19, 1975… in Minnesota with the Yankees as the home team.
Bill Campbell (Twins) and Pat Dobson (Yankees), the pitchers at the time of the suspension of the game, just picked up right where they left off…
Despite a lead off double by Roy White, the Yankees failed to score in their half of the fourteenth inning. The game continued through the fifteenth and into the sixteenth inning.
Pat Dobson had, by now, retired fifteen consecutive batters in the game (over two different days). With one out, Rod Carew singled. He then stole second base. After Johnny Briggs struck out, Eric Solderholm was intentionally walked because by this time, after a host of changes and substitutions, the Twins had forfeited their designated hitter and their pitcher, Bill Campbell, was due up. Tom Lundstedt went up to pinch hit for Campbell.
Lundstedt, who had all of six hits in his big league career recorded the second to last hit he’d ever have, but it was a big one as it resulted in the only RBI he’d ever get. Lundstedt drove home Carew and the Twins took the lead 7-6.
The Yankees had no choice but to remove Pat Dobson because of this ignominy. In came Tippy Martinez to record the final out of the inning. (After this game, Dobson would lose his next five decisions. He’d win only two more games as a Yankee the rest of the season (August 15 and August 28) before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in November for Oscar Gamble.)
One would think that the Yankees would have just packed it in at that point. After all, the Yankees and Twins still had a game they had to play that day. Jim Hughes was due to start another game (even though he had started this one – albeit seven days earlier)…
But if one thought the Yankees would just give up, that one would be wrong.
In the bottom of the sixteenth inning, the home team Yankees, playing in Minnesota, decided to try to put a positive end to this nonsense. Tom Burgmeier was now pitching for the Twins. With one out, Roy White and Thurman Munson put together back-to-back singles. Chris Chambliss then grounded into a fielder’s choice that moved White to third, but erased Munson. Up came Graig Nettles, a former Twins player…
The official record of baseball states that Graig Nettles went 0-for-4 on July 19, 1975, but the official record ignores the fact that on July 19, Nettles, still playing in the game of July 12, singled home Roy White to tie the game. Lou Piniella then followed with a single of his own to drive home Chambliss.
The Yankees had won 8-7.
Tippy Martinez, who faced all of one batter in this epic contest, earned the win.
The next installment of this series will bring us to 1977. (There was no game on July 12, 1976.)
Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 6-1
(There was also no game played in 1971.)
Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 14 AB, 5 hits (.357), 1 run, 1 strikeout, 2 walks. 1 RBI