Saturday, June 6, 2009

#108 -- Gary Waslewski

Gary Waslewski

Before the 2004 post-season the Boston Red Sox were most known for 6th games. Carlton Fisk’s 1975 Game 6 homer is still one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history. The collapse in the 1986 Series (I attribute that to Schiraldi and Stanley as much as the first baseman) was in Game 6 and was the most defining moment of that franchise until 2004. However, back in 1967 a Red Sox team that had been underdogs all year found themselves at the precipice after 5 games of the World Series. They trailed the Cardinals 3 games to 2. It was Gary Bell’s turn to start, but he’d been rocked in Game 3 and relieved in Game 4.

Manager Dick Williams turned to a rookie that had a record of 2-2 for this elimination game. I’m sure Sox fans were thinking “Gary Who”? Gary didn’t get the win, but he pitched into the 6th and only gave 2 runs. The Sox went on to win Game 6, but fell to Bob Gibson’s hitting and pitching in Game 7. Nobody has ever started a World Series game with fewer career wins that Gary Waslewski. Only Hong-Chi Kuo, with 1 career win for the Dodgers before starting against the Mets in 2006, had fewer career wins to start a playoff game.

Things didn’t go well for Gary after that. He never had a winning season. He didn’t pitch in the World Series again, although he was on the A’s in 1972. He only pitched 8 games in relief for Dick Williams, but, despite a 2.04 ERA that was it for him in the big leagues. He pitched well in AAA for the A’s and Red Sox in 1973-74, but it seems there wasn’t a big market for a reliever in his 30’s that hadn’t done all that well in the big leagues. Gary packed it in and raised a namesake who is a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon in the Phoenix area.

What’s cool about this card is that it shows some of the old scoreboard in Yankee Stadium before the 1974 remodeling. I don’t remember the scoreboard having that shape. At first I thought it might be old Comiskey until I saw Gary in his home whites and figured out that was the Yankee logo on top of the scoreboard.

1972 feature

June 6 is D-Day. It’s a day we kind of remember because there was a big battle that day, but I think we have no idea what a tipping point in history that day was and how the Good Hand of God was upon us. All you have to do is watch the documentaries from how the odds were against us (bad weather, steep cliffs, PT boats not able to get to shore, soldiers very seasick), but we caught some breaks with the Germans not taking the initial reports of the landing seriously. I think we would have still won World War II eventually, but it would have taken longer and cost more. There aren’t many that stormed Normandy that day still alive. If you’re fortunate enough to know one, tell them thanks.

Although there as a 15-inning game in Baltimore, won by the Twins 5-4, I’m going to pick a Mets-Reds game as the Game of the Day. The Mets were a surprising first place team with a 4 game lead over the Pirates. The Reds were only 1.5 game back of the Dodgers. Johnny Bench hit a 2-run homer off Jim McAndrew in the 4th, but the Mets answered with runs in the 4th and 6th to tie it up. Tommie Agee singled in Jim Beauchamp with 2 out in the 7th off Don Gullett to put the Mets ahead. Tug McGraw came in and faced 7 batters to close the door in the 8th and 9th. The only runner to reach off Faith Hill’s father-in-law was when he hit Johnny Bench.

June 6 was also the 1972 draft. First rounders included overall #1 Dave Roberts (who went straight to the Padres), Rick Manning, Larry Christenson, Roy Howell, Dick Ruthven (who didn’t sign), Dave Chalk, Scott McGregor, Jamie Quirk, Jerry Manuel and Chet Lemon. Further down the draft were Dennis Eckersley (3rd round), Gary Carter (3rd round), Willie Randolph (7th round) and Lyman Bostock (26th round). No real big names here and I think Eckersley and Carter are the only future Hall of Famers in this draft.

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