As I mentioned in a recent post, I happened to find a copy
of an old ABC “Monday Night Baseball” broadcast (complete with the original
commercials!) on YouTube
It featured the Orioles hosting the AL West-leading Royals at Memorial Stadium
on August 30, 1976. Warner Wolf and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who had
just retired at the end of 1975, were the announcing team. Because I miss
baseball just this much, I decided to watch the whole thing and time-stamp my
observations. I did not look up the box score ahead of time, so I’m going in spoiler-free.
Follow along if you so desire. Enjoy!
1:22 – Lineup introductions are handled by the players
themselves, with the Kansas City starting ten (including the DH) parading
on-camera one-by-one and awkwardly mumbling their name, position, and hometown.
The highlight is the camera suddenly panning down from 5’11” second baseman
White to 5’4”, 140-pound shortstop Freddie “the Flea” Patek.
2:57 – As the Orioles’ defense is
shown warming up, Wolf mentions that Doug DeCinces, in his first full season in
the majors, is starting at third as the heir apparent to Brooks Robinson. It’s
wild to think that Brooksie was still hanging around at the time.
5:20 – Left fielder Jim Wohlford
steps into the box as the first batter of the game, facing lefty Rudy May. The
on-screen graphics show each batter’s age, hometown, and years of big league
experience, as well as basic batting stats (AVG, HR, RBI). It’s a very
different information set than we’re used to now.
5:58 – Wolf points out that Amos
Otis completely smears away the right-handed batters’ box as he comes to the
plate. No respect for the grounds crew!
7:16 –After Otis singles up the
middle, George Brett comes to bat, carrying a .486 (17-for-35) average against
the O’s. Ouch. Fortunately, he bounces into a force play at second base.
11:42 – Miller High Life ad: “If
you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer!”
14:17 – 35-year-old Tommy Harper
is the DH and leadoff batter for Baltimore, and an on-screen graphic notes that
the Birds are his eighth team (Reds, Indians, Pilots, Brewers, Red Sox, Angels,
A’s, O’s). They’ll also be his last, as he bats .234/.318/.338 in just 46 games
on the year.
15:42 – Reggie Jackson takes his
first at-bat, receiving a smattering of boos from the sparse Monday night crowd
that is noted on play-by-play. Reggie is quoted as saying that he doesn’t mind
being booed, because “it means they’re paying attention to me”. That seems
on-brand. He drops a single over the infield and promptly steals second base
before Lee May strikes out to strand him there.
19:52 – Vintage commercial update:
Bob Hope for Texaco Motor Oil, with “In the Summertime” by Mongo Jerry as the
24:00 – There are a ton of
invisible fans sitting in the yellow bleachers. If I didn’t know better, I’d
swear the Baltimore fans were practicing social distancing.
24:46 – Back-to-back doubles by Al
Cowens and Frank White give KC an early lead.
25:52 – Bob Gibson claims that
Patek’s response to being asked what it’s like being the smallest player in the
major leagues is that “It’s better than being the smallest player in the minor
leagues.” Can’t argue with that.
30:16 – Wild batting splits for
Kenny Singleton: .204 righty, .288 lefty.
34:50 – It’s reported that the
Royals call manager Whitey Herzog “Stein”, short for “Frankenstein”. That one’s
new to me!
36:40 – With Kansas City eight
games ahead of Oakland in the West and the Yankees 11.5 up on the Orioles, the
ALCS seems like a foregone conclusion. It’s noted that the Royals took the
season series from New York, 7-5. Of course, the Yanks would scrape by in five
games in the postseason series (which was then best-of-five).
41:52 – Wohlford is caught
stealing second base by O’s catcher Dave Duncan, who is playing out the last
season of his 11-year MLB career. He should get into coaching or something.
43:28 – There’s an odd ad:
Fred Lynn and Jim Rice urging youngsters to join the Navy.
47:15 – Since July 1,
Duncan is 9-for-71 (.127)…make it 9-for-72, as he pops out. I’ve got a hunch
why this was his last year.
48:58 – Mickey Mantle
hawking an athlete’s foot treatment (NP-27). I guess a paycheck is a paycheck.
51:08 – It’s the always-fun
May-to-May putout, as Rudy corrals a comebacker from league-leading hitter Hal
McRae and Lee digs out a low throw at first base.
53:16 – John Mayberry is
credited with 12 game-winning hits for the Royals. I had assumed that the oft-derided
“GWRBI” statistic hadn’t come about until the 1980s.
54:58 – Bob Gibson claims
to have been used as a pinch runner “lots of times”, until he got injured doing
so and the practice was discontinued. His career splits do show that he scored
14 runs as a pinch runner.
1:01:28 – We see that
Reggie has tied an American League record in 1976 with a six-game home run
streak. As you may know, that record was broken in 1987 by Don Mattingly, who
ended up tying Dale Long’s MLB record with homers in eight straight games (Ken
Griffey, Jr. tied Mattingly in 1993). Reggie’s streak is still an Oriole
record, tied by Chris Davis in 2012.
1:05:54 – The Birds are
finally on the board in the bottom of the fourth, as Bobby Grich singles, Lee
May doubles him to third base, and Singleton brings him home with a groundout.
We’re tied 1-1.
1:10:45 – Incredible
backhand in the hole by Mark Belanger, who guns it across the diamond to put
out KC catcher Buck Martinez by several steps. He didn’t last 18 years in the
majors with a .580 OPS for no reason.
1:15:14 – Just like that
Kansas City takes the lead back, thanks to a two-out double by Wohlford and a
seeing-eye single by Amos Otis. 2-1.
1:17:16 – As Dave Pagan
warms up in the Oriole bullpen, we see Mike Cuellar (sans hat) shuffling around
1:18:14 – Good gravy.
Whose idea was it to let Pete Rose sing in an Aqua Velva spot?
1:19:11 – A pregame
interview with KC starting pitcher Andy Hassler is shown, discussing his
18-game losing streak, which spanned two seasons and wasn’t snapped until a few
weeks prior to this game, shortly after he’d been traded from the Angels.
1:27:50 – Another
pre-recorded segment, as Rudy May tells the story of tripping over his dog in
the middle of the night and breaking BOTH arms. Man’s best friend, indeed.
1:30:11 – Some great
curmudgeonly commentary from Gibson, as he retells the story of a Roberto
Clemente comebacker that broke his leg, and somehow spins it into a defense of
raising the mound back to its 1968 height. Then Warner Wolf mentions Gibson
returning to pitch against Boston in the World Series, and needles the future
Hall of Famer about giving up a home run to opposing starter Jose Santiago in Game One
in Fenway Park
. Bob shoots back, insisting it was a pop-up that sailed over
the cozy fence in Boston’s home park. I can see why he’d be so salty, as that
solo homer was all that kept Gibson from a complete game shutout.
1:37:30 – Leading off the
bottom of the sixth, Harper draws the first walk of the game for either team.
1:39:32 – Grich blasts a
double to the center field wall, scoring Harper with the tying run. 2-2. As
Rick Dempsey would say, walks will kill you every time.
1:42:02 – Lee May booms
another deep fly ball, caught by Otis. Grich (who had moved up on a Reggie
Jackson grounder) tags from third and scores, giving the O’s a 3-2 lead. It’s
RBI, tying him with the Yankees’ Chris Chambliss for the
1:56:04 – With DeCinces
batting, Wolf talks about how he was almost traded to the Mets prior to the
season for Rusty Staub. I’d never heard that, either!
2:02:26 – With one out in
the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles finally chase Andy Hassler with a Paul
Blair single. That moves DeCinces, who walked to lead off the frame, to second
base. Mark Littell enters from the bullpen on…the cart!
2:07:00 – On Littell’s
second pitch, DeCinces is thrown out at third base on an attempted double
steal. Now you know why Earl Weaver didn’t like small-ball.
2:11:14 – Tony Muser,
future manager of the Royals, enters the game for Baltimore at first base,
replacing Lee May.
2:14:02 – As Warner Wolf
notes, back-to-back flyouts to Ken Singleton mean that Rudy May has held KC’s
two most dangerous hitters (Brett and McRae) to a combined 0-for-8, while
giving up nine hits in all (UPDATE: 11 hits).
2:17:43 – May escapes the
eighth inning, stranding two runners after Frank White hits a tapper to Grich.
Moments earlier, White had been admonished by home plate umpire Joe Brinkman
for having too much pine tar on his bat. Do you think George Brett was paying
2:31:00 – Bob Gibson
cracks that Cookie Rojas “has been 37 years old for about 37 years”, but the
Royals’ pinch hitter gets the last laugh with a single. That’s 12 hits allowed by
Rudy May in eight and one-third innings.
2:34:05 – Amos Otis gives
the ball a ride, but Paul Blair barely moves before snagging it for the final
out. O’s win 3-2 (box
score and play-by-play
), despite being outhit 12-5. Rudy May gets the
complete game win to improve to 11-9 with a 4.01 ERA. Despite scattering those
dozen hits, he didn’t walk a single batter. He also only had three strikeouts,
so he kept the defense on their toes.
2:34:58 – Marvelous Marv
Throneberry sighting! A Miller Lite commercial. That seems like a good place to