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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 8 – July 12, 1977

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 1977, July 12 to see what took place in the Yankees game that day.

***

On Tuesday, July 12, 1977, the Yankees found themselves in Milwaukee playing the Brewers..

The eventual World Champion Yankees entered the game sporting a 48-38 record. The Brewers weren’t so good. These came in with a record of 39-45.

This game featured a pitching match-up of Don Gullet (7-3) against Moose Haas (5-5). Gullet was in his first year pitching for the Yankees. He was a big free agent acquisition in the middle of an excellent year. Unfortunately for Gullet (and the Yankees), 1977 was to be Gullet’s only big year in New York as arm injuries curtained his success and ended his career prematurely.

On this day, the Yankees sent the following lineup to battle the Brew Crew:

Mickey Rivers – cf

Willie Randolph – 2b

Thurman Munson -c

Chris Chambliss – 1b

Graig Nettles – 3b

Reggie Jackson – rf

Roy White – lf

Dell Alston – dh

Fred Stanley – ss

The Brewers countered with the following lineup:

Robin Yount – ss (future Hall-of-Famer)

Sixto Lezcano – rf

Don Money – 2b

Sal Bando – 3b

Cecil Cooper – 1b

Steve Brye – cf

Dick Davis – dh

Jim Wohlford – lf

Charlie Moore – c

***

Unlike the game in 1975, this was a somewhat crisp game that took exactly three hours to play. The game began, and ended on the same day. Once again, the result was a Yankees’ win.

Let’s see how they did it:

The game started with a good deal of excitement. In the top of the first inning, Mickey Rivers and Willie Randolph both grounded out. Thurman Munson then walked. Chris Chambliss then singled Munson to third where he’d score moments later on a wild pitch while Graig Nettles batted. Nettles then walked bringing up Reggie Jackson. Reggie, unfortunately, grounded out to the first baseman Cecil Cooper.

The Brewers came right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the first inning. Robin Yount began the inning by striking out. Sixto Lezcano then walked. Don Money also struck out, but Sal Bando hit a double that sent Lezcano to third. He was unable to score. With Cecil Cooper up, Don Gullet threw a wild pitch that scored Lezcano and tied the game at one. Both of the runs that scored that first inning came via a wild pitch. Cecil Cooper flew out to end the frame.

The Yankees then scored again in the top of the second. With one out, Dell Alston, a left-handed batter, laid down a bunt single. This was only Alston’s fifth game in the big leagues. The hit was the second of his young career. (Unfortunately, Alston’s career lasted just four years and a total of 189 games. His career never was able to get old.) Alston then stole second base. This was his first Major League stolen base. He then scored on a single by Fred Stanley putting the Yankees up 2-1. The RBI was Stanley’s fifth of the year; he’d have only two more the rest of the season ending with only seven for the year.

Don Gullet retired the Brewers in order in the bottom of the second inning, striking out Dick Davis.

The Yankees scored again with another single run in the third inning. It could have been more, probably should have been more. The inning began with a Willie Randolph single. Thurman Munson then singled. After a Chris Chambliss strikeout, Graig Nettles singled to load the bases. Up came Reggie…

And he grounded out into a run scoring fielder’s choice.

Up came Dell Alston…

He struck out.

Gullet retired the Brewers in order in the third inning, striking out Charlie Moore and Robin Yount.

The Yankees got singles from Mickey Rivers and Willie Randolph in the fourth, but were unable to score.

The Brewers then got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fourth. Around a ground out and strikeout, walks to Sal Bando and Steve Brye allowed Dick Davis to single in a run to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2.

Neither team scored in the fifth inning.

In the sixth inning, the Yankees sent big Cliff Johnson in to pinch hit for Dell Alston as lefty Mike Caldwell ( a future Yankee killer) was in the game. Johnson touched him up for a double, but the Yankees couldn’t score him.

The game remained 3-2 until the Yankees batted in the top of the eighth. Cliff Johnson led off with another single. Two outs later, Willie Randolph hit his fourth (and final) home run of the 1977 season. This two-run blast upped the Yankees’ lead to 5-2.

Dick Tidrow was now pitching for the Yankees. He had entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning. He made quick work of the Brewers in the eighth and then, after a quiet Yankees ninth inning against Caldwell and then Bob McClure, he also shut down the Brewers in the ninth to close out the victory and earn his third save of the season.

***

The next installment of this series will bring us to 1979 for a game with a bundle of runs. Stay tuned!!! (There would be no game on July 12, 1978.)

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 7-1

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971 and 1976)

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 18 AB, 6 hits (.333), 1 run, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks. 1 RBI

#BirthdayBaseball

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