Cultural Trivia and Baseball Miscellany
The White Sox were on the road for their last game of the season in sunny and warm Anaheim, California. The temperature was a balmy 86 degrees, and Diana Ross’ voice was all over the radio: number one on the charts was her highly popular cover of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Ross had left the Supremes earlier in the year and just released her first solo album: this song would end the year at #6 overall.
In cinema, one could pay $1.65 to see the top-rated film at the box office, Tora! Tora! Tora!, a dramatization of the Pearl Harbor attack. While the film received less-than-favorable reviews from the critics (Variety: “Both overall director Richard Fleischer and his Japanese counterparts do a dull job, and the monotonously low-key tone of scene after scene almost suggests that each was filmed without a sense of ultimate slotting in the finished form.”), it still made $29 million, netting $4 million overall from its $25 million budget.
Around baseball, the Seattle Pilots were disbanded, sold to Bud Selig, and moved to Milwaukee. In Hall of Fame elections, shortstop Lou Boudreau was the only one admitted, with a host of future Hall-of-Famers falling short (Ralph Kiner, Early Wynn, Enos Slaughter, and Johnny Mize, among others).
1970 also saw a historical oddity: four no-hitters were thrown on the season, and all four took place in California (San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Oakland).
In the MLB draft, the White Sox took shortstop Lee Richard sixth overall out of Southern University; Richard would debut the very next season playing in 87 games, but never amount to much and was out of baseball by 1977. More successful was their second round pick, Terry Forster, and their ninth round pick, Goose Gossage. A few other notables from that draft: Fred Lynn by the Yankees in the third round, and Bruce Sutter, 21st round, Washington Senators.
Last but not least, this day saw the final game played at Connie Mack stadium in Philadelphia. According to the New York Times, the Phillies had planned on a postgame ceremony which would see home plate shipped to Veteran Stadium via helicopter, and 62 prizes given away including a 1970 Ford Mustang, but alas: the ceremonies were canceled and postponed to the next day. Fans took to the field, dismantling anything and everything that could be taken home with them:
Umpires for the game
- HP: Nick Avants
Not much to be said about Avants, who had a brief career as an MLB umpire. Avants umpired just 18 games between 1970 and 1971.
- 1B: Jake O’Donnell
O’Donnell worked as an official for both the MLB and the NBA, working as an umpire from 1968-1971, and an NBA referee from 1967-1995. In baseball, today’s first base ump worked the 1971 ALCS and the 1971 All-Star game. O’Donnell is perhaps more notable for his NBA career, when he controversially ejected Clyde Drexler from a 1995 playoff game, supposedly on the strength of a personal feud between the two.
- 2B: Jim Honochick
The most distinguished of this umpire quartet, Honochick officiated MLB games from 1949-1973, seeing six World Series and four All-Star games. He also did commercial spots for Miller Lite, appearing in this one with Boog Powell:
- 3B: George Maloney
Maloney umped from 1969-1983, appearing in multiple playoff series, including the 1975 World Series as well as the ’73, ’76, and ’80 ALCS rounds.
|Chicago White Sox||California Angels|
Play by Play
Today was the last game of the season for both teams, and the White Sox entered the game on a six-game skid. The Angels, meanwhile, were on a four-game win streak at 85-66, in the midst of their most successful season since 1962.
On the mound for the Angels was lefty Greg Garrett, who would be traded to the Reds over the offseason. Opposing him for the White Sox was right-handed starter Gerry Janeski. Both pitchers were successful early as Garrett went 1-2-3 in the first, while Janeski worked around a one-out single to center fielder Tony Gonzalez.
In the second, the White Sox threatened as Bill Melton lead off with an infield single. Carlos May walked to put men at first and second and nobody out, and a double steal made it runners on second and third for shortstop Rich McKinney. Alas, McKinney struck out while Rich Morales grounded out for a fielder’s choice at home for the second out, and Chuck Brinkman went 6-3 for the third out.
The Angels opened the scoring in the third inning. After Janeski retired his counterpart for the first out, left fielder Alex Johnson singled with a strike to right field (this was important, as Johnson was in the hunt for the batting title that year). Tony Gonzalez then reached on an error by McKinney. Angels’ right fielder Mickey Rivers cashed in with a single to center field to make it 1-0 Angels. Gonzalez attempted to make third, though, and was thrown out for the second out of the inning. A 4-3 groundout by first baseman Jim Spencer ended the threat.
After a quick top half of the fourth, the Angels were back at it again in their half of the inning by way of another unearned run. Chico Ruiz singled to center to start the inning, then advanced to second when the ball got away from Carlos May at first. Then, small ball got the run in. Ruiz advanced to third on a groundout to first, and scored on a 6-3 putout. 2-0 Angels. Another 6-3 groundout ended the inning.
(As an aside, Alex Johnson got an infield hit in the fifth inning that Bill Melton couldn’t get over to first in time; Angels manager Lefty Phillips then pulled Johnson, giving him a .0003 lead over Carl Yastrzemski, .3289 to .3286. This is the only time in Angels history that they’ve had a batter win the batting title, despite having Mike Trout, who I likely would have placed a bet on having done at least once.)
Things were quiet for both teams until the bottom of the sixth, when the Angels added to their lead. Mickey Rivers doubled to right to lead things off, and Jim Spencer singled him home for a 3-0 Angels lead. Janeski was able to weave his way through the rest of the inning, though. After a flyout to left, Angels catcher Tom Egan singled to left, but a strong throw by left fielder Walt Williams somehow nailed Spencer at second, and the Sox starting pitcher was able to get a force at second for the third out.
All was quiet on the western front until the top of the ninth, with the White Sox already down to their last out. Win expectancy-wise, the Sox were at…0%. Then, all hell broke loose for the dormant Sox offense, because, as Hawk might have said, Chucky T’s boys just don’t quit. Chuck Brinkman singled off former White Sox pitcher Eddie Fisher to breathe a touch of life into the Sox’ chances. Gail Hopkins then singled to put runners at first and second. Up next was Walt Williams, the proud owner of nine career home runs to that point over five seasons. Williams picked a fine time for his tenth career dinger, socking a home run to tie things up, 3-3. Jose Ortiz flew out to left for the third out, and the game went to extras after Sox reliever Bart Johnson successfully navigated the ninth inning.
Both teams were quiet for the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth innings. The Sox came through again by way of the long ball in the thirteenth, though. With one out, Beltin’ Bill Melton belted one out off of reliever Rudy May for the improbable 4-3 lead. (This home run also extended Melton’s single-season record for home runs in franchise history, with 33. Prior to this season, Gus Zernial (1950) and Eddie Robinson (1951) were tied for the most in a single season for the Sox, with 29. Dick Allen would break Melton’s record with 37 of his own in 1972, which would stay the record until Frank Thomas‘ 1993 season, when he hit 41.) Carlos May singled for the second consecutive hit, but the Angels ended the Sox’ half of the inning with a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out double play.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, four runs wouldn’t be enough. Jim Magnuson, on for his second inning of relief work, walked Mickey Rivers with one out. Billy Cowan, pinch-hitting for first baseman Jim Spencer, then doubled home Rivers to tie it at 4-4, and advancing to second on an E2. That would prove costly, because, after an intentional walk to Chico Ruiz, Mel Queen ended the game with a single to right that scored Cowan and gave the Angels the 5-4 walkoff victory.
***It was a fitting end to a miserable season for the White Sox: drawing a loss after allowing three unearned runs to score by way of three errors. Finishing 42 games behind first place Minnesota, enthusiasm was not high among fans of the White Sox. The 1970 season saw the Sox average just 6,000 fans per game; indeed, even this game in Anaheim drew just 5,689.
This season, coming after two prior terrible seasons and a near-move to Milwaukee, was rock bottom. Fortunately for the White Sox, the only direction to go was up. And up they went. The 1971 White Sox won 23 more games, and of course some savvy moves during both the ’70 and ’71 offseasons led to the truly fun 1972 and 1977 campaigns, even if they wouldn’t again reach the playoffs until 1983.
For the Angels, this would prove to be their most successful season in team history until they went one game better at 87-75 in 1978, then went to the ALCS in 1979 on the strength of an 88-74 campaign.
Random Box Score White Sox record: 5-4
Billboard Hot 100
New York Times