Anniversary of Baseball Marathon: Giants, Mets, 32 innings: With Poignant New Comment from Craig Anderson.
The message popped up in my queue. Fifty years. Bill Wakefield lives near his alma mater, Stanford, and is well aware that Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the epic 23-inning nightcap he started for the Mets.
Some of us are lucky enough to remember the game.
I woke up that morning in Kansas City, covered the Yankees’ game, 46-minute rain delay and all, flew back to LaGuardia on the Yankees’ charter, saw the game still going on in Shea, was met by my wife, and we watched the last 9-10 innings at my family’s home in Queens. You couldn’t not watch.
The box score (below) says Wakefield started the second game (he was quite a good reliever most of that season, his only in the majors) and lasted two innings.
Craig Anderson then came in and gave up four runs. I’m going to send him an e-mail and ask his memories of the day.
Wakefield has told me that as the game went on (and on, and on) Casey Stengel tried to send him into the game. Since Wake had already pitched, that would not have been a good idea. So he dressed and went into the stands.
Some players had even shorter games. Ken McKenzie, an original Met, faced one batter in the seventh, gave up a hit, and was yanked by Alvin Dark. Duke Snider, ex-Dodger, ex-Met, pinch-hit and had to sit around for hours. Willie McCovey pinch-hit, and sat.
Galen Cisco pitched a complete game, 9 innings, for the Mets and lost, finally.
Gaylord Perry pitched 10 innings and was the winning pitcher.
The box score is wonderful. Back in the day, pitchers were pitchers, men were men, nobody had heard of Tommy John and his elbow.
I love the names – Jesse Gonder, Joe Christopher (he’s around somewhere), oldies like Tom Sturdivant and Frank Lary, and Wakefield’s good pal, the late Hot Rod Kanehl.
Oh, and check out who played shortstop for the Giants for a while during that game.
ADDENDUM ON SATURDAY:
Just to warm up for the anniversary, the Mets played 14 on Friday night (and lost, but you already know that, after a muffed fly ball.)
THIS JUST IN FROM CRAIG ANDERSON, ORIGINAL MET:
"Yes , how well I remember that memorable day although not the type of memories i will cherish. I am glad to be in a record-making doubleheader and I even saw my name in Cooperstown when this box score was displayed up there. I had pitched pretty well since being called up on May 1st but after this outing I was sent to Buffalo, thus my last day in the big leagues. Never to be called up again or invited to spring training.
"My only out was a ground ball fielder's choice hit by Willie Mays. I sat in the stands for about 8 hours and can't say it was enjoyable to me."
* * *
Your memories and reactions are welcome in the Comments (below)
Meanwhile, the great Ed Lucas tells his memories:
Nice web site with other people’s memories:
First game. Normal 9 innings. Normal Met loss.
Second game. Not normal. 23 innings. Normal Met loss.
No sooner had Clint Dempsey dropped out of the starting lineup Tuesday night because of what was described as a sore groin than the flotilla of ESPN observers began speculating whether Donovan would be the first alternative in any roster switch.
Lord Landon does not go away. He scored two goals for the Galaxy on the weekend and was voted Player of the Week in Major League Soccer. That probably does not intimidate Jürgen Klinsmann, whose mind has been made up for weeks, maybe years.
However, as the expertise of the ESPN commentators shows, the issue will persist right into the World Cup.
Suppose, just suppose, that the USA (despite the gaggle of strangers and recruits on the back line) hangs on for a one-goal deficit in the 65th minute in the opener against Ghana.
Of all the Americans since the founding of this great nation, which adult male would you most like to insert into the lineup – George Washington? Abraham Lincoln? Jackie Robinson? I would say a living breathing Landon Donovan might be the national choice, if not Klinsmann’s.
So that raises the question: what is there about independent, quirky yet talented players that make coaches so squeamish?
Let us recall how Italian coaches used to recoil from pigtailed, Buddhist-convert introverted Roberto Baggio. The coaches preferred stalwarts who would do what the boss said rather than think on their feet at full tilt. Crazy. Of course, Arrigo Sacchi did not mind when Il Codino saved Italy’s pancetta in the 88th minute against Nigeria in 1994 – and did it again a few days later, same late minute, against Spain. But there was something a little too independent about Baggio that threatened coaches. (It’s called talent.)
American coaches have had their issues with goal-producer types. Hugo Perez, a scorer, didn’t make the flight to Italy in 1990. And that meteor named Steve Snow flamed out going into the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Labelled “a cocky little twirp” by his coach, Lothar Osiander, Snow grumped about his low status and was not in the lineup against Italy, and promptly went off to reporters after the match. Snow never played in a World Cup or Major League Soccer and currently runs a pizzeria in Indiana.
(Read the terrific article by Nick Firchau on MLS.com)
The saga of Steve Snow illustrates the point. Coaches are more comfortable with players who stay home, metaphorically. .
Donovan didn’t love winters in Germany, took a walkabout when he needed a break from his sport, and generally listened to his own inner radar. He also produced probably the most dramatic goal ever scored by the USA in the World Cup – the 91st-minute rally against Algeria in 2010.
From now until rosters are frozen, the name will surface every time a Yank suffers a twinge. Lord Landon Lives.
MSNBC just cancelled my mid-day appearance in order to cover more urgent news. Can you imagine?
However, the NYT has activated me to write a column from the Rangers' Stanley Cup game at MSG Sunday evening.
What are the odds I slip in a reference to the Champions League final?
Caveat: Book media schedules can change in a heartbeat, but readings/signings are secure. GV.
Sunday, May 25: Weekends with Alex Witt
12:15PM -12:45 PM
Thursday, May 29: Appearance, Reading & Signing.
313 New York Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743
Thursday, June 5: Fenway Park Writers Series
500 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
6:30 – 8:30 PM
NOTE: This is a ticketed event priced at $60 per person. The event includes dinner and every guest receives a signed copy of EIGHT WORLD CUPS. For information: http://www.fenwayparkwriters.org/fenway_park_register.asp
Sunday, June 8: Up With Steve Kornacki, MSNBC-TV.
8-10 AM. Time to be arranged.
Please keep checking Appearances on the left side. GV
I think Landon Donovan would have been worth the gamble – muscle memory, vestigial skill, perhaps re-creating what Donovan did in the 91st minute against Algeria in 2010.
But the key thing to remember about Jürgen Klinsmann is that his contract has already been extended through 2018.
Klinsmann can afford to include players he can imagine being on the next World Cup venture, when the United States might have a better draw than this year’s Group of Death.
So he can afford to load up on defenders – none of whom are likely to stop Ghana, Portugal and Germany this time around – and cut the nation’s all-time scoring leader.
Klinsmann did not make the judgment that Donovan could contribute to one vital goal that would get the USA through to the second round. Then again, Klinsmann was never high on the attitude of Donovan, who twice explored the hard reality of the Bundesliga and quickly decided he missed the sound of the Pacific Ocean.
Other American pioneers like Paul Caligiuri, Eric Wynalda, Claudio Reyna and Kasey Keller faced the vicious winters and the equally vicious mid-week practices when, as Reyna once said, teammates battle teammates for a jersey on the weekend. Klinsmann observed this reticence from a player once labelled “Little Lord Landon” by a USA soccer official, and now Klinsmann made his ultimate judgment on Donovan.
Remember, German fans thought Klinsmann – whose family lives in Southern California -- had gone Left Coast when he coached the German national team in the 2006 World Cup. Klinsi brought in new-wave trainers and motivators. Then, with the considerable backup from assistant coach Joachim Löw, Germany finished a roaring third.
When Klinsmann took over the U.S. team after 2010, the assumption was that he would understand the psyche of the American player. He probably does. But he has retained the hard stance of the Bundesliga, openly goading his best players to show him more.
The shaky status of Donovan has been clear to people covering the USA squad training in California, like Ives Galarcep and Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America and even me, back in New York.
Ultimately, Donovan did not show Klinsmann enough speed, or desire. Instead, Klinsmann has loaded up on the future, particularly with German-born players eligible for American passports, like Timmy Chandler, who could be a terrific right back sometime, and Julian Green, a forward project for 2018. When Klinsi will be coach again.
In admirable journalistic precision, it did not take Sam Roberts long to get to the point about Arthur Gelb.
“Sheer force of personality.” Words 5 through 8.
Gelb was a whirlwind, make you crazy, make you work better. He was our boss, our captor, our rabbi, and now he is gone at 90. So soon?
If anybody wants to know about The New York Times – why one passionate sliver of society is paying so much attention to the current changes – it is all contained in Arthur Gelb’s obituary in today’s paper. He personified the power and the glory, the curiosity and the authority, of the Times.
Just read Sam’s obit. But let me say a few personal words.
I went to work for him on Jan. 2, 1973, after choosing to come back from a great job in Appalachia. Needed to get home. I was taken in by the Metro editor, long and twitchy, whom I did not know but would soon come to think of as a stork on speed. Arthur had a zillion ideas, half a dozen of which were brilliant, and he was capable of great enthusiasms and innate wisdom.
“Cover Long Island like a national assignment, the way you did Appalachia,” he told me. He got it. Whenever other editors tried to change my direction, I would quote him. He loved to hear about things outside his urban experience.
People fish for snappers and bluefish less than an hour from Times Square?
How long has this been going on?
Get photos! Write long! We’ll put it on the second front!
Every day he promised 10 or 12 reporters that their literary efforts would be on the second front. The next day, from the obscurity of B17, most of the reporters wanted to throttle him.
He was sometimes kind, liked to reward people, in a job that necessitated hard decisions, in a newsroom stocked with talent (and still is.)
Sensational new recruits got heavy play. One year it was the wonderful Anna Quindlen. The next year it was the marvelous Alan Richman.
“There goes Alan Richman,” Quindlen once quipped, but nicely. “He’s the new Anna Quindlen.” She did all right. So did Richman. So did a lot of Arthur’s people.
There was one way to get through to him. I tried acting disturbed, but how would anybody tell in that setting? Grace Lichtenstein, one of our hardiest reporters, who could go anywhere, do anything, found a way to get through to Arthur. She would complain to him in the center of the newsroom – until tears started welling in her eyes.
“Don’t cry! Don’t cry!” he would plea, hustling her into a conference room. She did fine. He was a big softy, under that manipulative armor.
(THIS JUST IN: Check Grace's letter in the NYT Thursday:)
(GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE; WE HAVEN'T COMPARED NOTES IN A FEW YEARS. GV.)
He took care of his people. I had somebody who knew me, as long as he was in the building. It was a comforting thought.
When he retired from the news operation, there was a gathering of his people, hundreds of reporters and editors who had suffered and thrived under him. Charlayne Hunter-Gault was the lead speaker, telling stories of the mythical second frontings, the weird assignments, the dead ends, the forgotten promises.
In the front row, the old rascal sat there, a huge smile on his face, surrounded by his people.
Yes, his smile said, I did all that.
Just read Sam Roberts’ piece:
And read Pranay Gupte's piece, too. Pranay was there.
The man dithers and prattles. In any multinational corporation, he would have been long gone, not because of right and wrong but because he was bad for business, bad for image, bad for selling lethal cars or whatever the company was doing.
But Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, the world soccer body, goes on and on. Now he is threatening to run for another term, even before the World Cup takes place in Brazil under very dicey circumstances next month.
Blatter’s latest foolishness was saying the other day that choosing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup was a “mistake.” You make mistakes in life, he said, talking about awarding a World Cup to a nation without a football heritage but lots of oil money to grease FIFA delegates.
Some of the people who voted for Qatar have since been banned for improprieties. Yet Blatter insists the 2022 World Cup was not bought and sold. Just a “mistake.” The executive voters did not notice that it gets hot in Qatar in summer.
Blatter’s handlers have since chimed in, as they often must, to note that he never said Qatar would be replaced.
Blatter used to be known for merely sexist and inane comments. FIFA should hold the World Cup every year or two. Female players should wear tight uniforms. Now he is about to preside over the most political protests ever seen in a World Cup – and he has insured a scandalous World Cup in Qatar, a nation that allows mistreatment of migrant workers.
Fortunately, Andrew Jennings is still raking the muck.
Jeremy Schaap did a great report on the deaths of migrant workers, on ESPN a few days ago.
Dave Zirin of The Nation has been all over FIFA.
And Wright Thompson of ESPN has been in Brazil, producing prose and videos about a nation where a major swath of citizens has identified FIFA and futebol – and the government -- as a problem, not just a big quadrennial party.
Blatter has been found out. Yet he keeps talking – and getting re-elected. Speaking of mistakes.
I spent a lovely day in Brooklyn on Wednesday. As soon as Mike From Whitestone turned downhill, I felt the surging image of Duke Snider slugging the ball over the screen and into Bedford Ave.
Mike parked near McKeever Pl. and I could feel my head swiveling like a compass needle to the apartment buildings where Ebbets Field used to be.
But I was the only person talking about the Brooklyn Dodgers, about ancient history.
The occasion was a career expo at Medgar Evers College, where several hundred very qualified students were seeking leads on jobs, on futures. I heard about the expo through Monica and Miguel Mancebo of Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP), which does such a fine job of preparing young people for the job market.
The students saw my soccer book on the table and wanted to talk about their sport. One young woman from Trinidad plays defender for the Medgar Evers team; another young woman roots for VfB Stuttgart, from her home town; a volunteer told me she roots for Barça and her husband roots for Real Madrid. And Michael Flanigan, the director of development and major gifts officer at Medgar Evers, told me how he referees soccer matches in his spare time.
I marveled at the résumés of the Medgar Evers students, their life stories, their work experience. Many of them have worked in kitchens, in day-care centers, in nursing homes. They see it as paying their bills. I told them to be proud of their work; they were learning the process, the system. Many of them want to be doctors and teachers, accountants and, good grief, journalists. I wanted to hire them all.
I hope by now somebody has.
Iris DeMent has a better home-run ratio than Babe Ruth.
She has issued only a handful of albums, as we still call them, containing some of the most profound songs ever written, ever sung – “Our Town,” “My Life,” "No Time to Cry, and “When My Morning Comes Around," which is more than a song, it is a hymn.
I have raved about her before, The Prophet Iris and her song "Living in the Wasteland of the Free," never more relevant.
DeMent does not come around that often, but she is currently wending her way toward Port Washington, Long Island. On Saturday at 8 PM, she will appear at the Landmark on Main Street. to be introduced by John Platt of WFUV.
The building used to be the Main Street School, high on a hill -- a landmark, one could say.
All three of our children attended Main Street. One daughter played the flute and the other played the cello and our son had a notable cameo in a class play. Now the building has been converted into apartments for seniors, with the old auditorium hosting a music series ranging from doo wop to folk.
Iris DeMent fans await that rare swing, that rare album, that rare tour. In 2012 she issued "Sing the Delta," 12 of her songs, rooted in Arkansas, where she was born, the youngest of 14 children.
“Some of these songs I’ve had around awhile but I needed time to grow into them,” she has said. “I guess you could say I just wasn’t ready to deliver them in the way that they de-served. I’m glad I waited. It’s taught me to surrender…to trust the natural flow and order of things and not worry about it.”
On Saturday Iris DeMent is performing a mile from our house. I'll be there.
Sometimes a person is revealed in the chords as well as the relationships.
There was a memorial for Joe McGinniss in New York on Friday, two months after he passed at the age of 71.
Friends and family told their stories, revealing a man of vastly eclectic interests and ties.
Roger Ailes, the brains behind Fox, told of a warm friendship that went back to 1968, when McGinniss, a kid of 26, wrote “The Selling of the President.” They did not fight over politics, Ailes said. They just enjoyed each other’s company.
Others of the liberal persuasion told how McGinniss could write about Ted Kennedy or Sarah Palin with equal tenacity.
And Ray Hudson, the garrulous English soccer broadcaster, who does La Liga of Spain, popped in from south Florida to talk about his friend, who maintained he was actually Italian despite a name and a face that insisted he was surely not.
The four McGinniss children were very sweet with their memories and emotions.
And one of the best stories came from Joe’s lawyer, Dennis Holohan, who told of not being able to even speak of his military service in Vietnam for 20 years afterward. McGinniss had been one of the great American journalists like David Halberstam and Gloria Emerson and Mike McGrady who went there and exposed the mission for the tragic fraud it was.
Finally, Joe cajoled Holohan into joining Joe on a trip to modern Vietnam. They took different routes from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, and the lawyer arrived first, taking a taxi tour of a war museum and then a Buddhist temple, where he totally lost it. Meltdown. But his driver consoled him, saying the Vietnamese people had moved on. You’re a good man, Minh said. I can tell. You need to get past it.
When McGinniss caught up with Holohan in Saigon, the lawyer told his friend what had happened at the temple with the taxi driver. McGinniss said he knew it would happen. That was why he proposed the trip. The friend is still stunned that his friend could anticipate such a breakthrough.
I never met Joe McGinniss but we became email pals two decades ago, united by our love of Italian calcio and Roberto Baggio and the language and the daily pace of Italian life. I am never jealous of other people’s talent or success or dedication or great ideas but I was tanto geloso of the time he spent in a hill town, and the book he wrote about a scandal among minor-league players he knew.
I got to know Joe McGinniss better from the music his family selected for the memorial:
And at the end, there was a slide show of Joe McGinniss’ life, frolicking with his children, out and about in the world, thoroughly engaged, enjoying himself immensely.
The background music was:
That’s how I got to know somebody I never met. Addio, buon amico.
So many players, so few roster spaces.
This is the enviable position of the once and future kings of soccer, as Brazil prepares to hold the 2014 World Cup.
So blessed in talent is Brazil that it could afford to leave its old guard – Ronaldinho, Kaká and Robinho, with a total of 276 international matches -- off the 23-player roster when Brazil filed its list on Wednesday, well before deadline.
Luiz Felipe Scolari did not feel the need to include a couple of the oldies for their vestigial wisdom, the muscle memory of how to win a World Cup game.
Contrast this – and you knew where I was heading on this – with the United States, which is still dithering in the weeks before fail-safe time. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann was originally going to camp with only 23 players but now he has invited 30 players to the final training session before he has to commit. Prudent, admirable, pragmatic – and telling.
Whereas Big Phil can stock up his front line with Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine), Fred (Fluminense of Brazil), Hulk (Zenit Saint-Petersburg of Russia), Jo (Atletico Mineiro of Brazil), and Neymar (Barcelona of Spain), and say “Muito Obrigado” to the aforementioned elders, Klinsmann is taking a long, last look at his talent pool.
This long lingering – poking at the tomatoes in the green- grocer’s display case – indicates Klinsmann is not comfortable with the backbone of the team that produced the epic 91st-minute goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. The USA -- for all the Joshes and Jennifers and the pink pylons (one of my favorite rock groups, by the way) – has not produced the equivalent of a Neymar, going into his first World Cup with high expectations.
It is fairly obvious that Klinsmann is hesitant to go with the relay team of Howard (his spot safe, one assumes) to Donovan to Altidore to Dempsey-the-Flying-Wallenda and back to Donovan, which, let us not forget, got the US through to the knockout round.
However, Donovan has not scored a goal in his first six MLS games this season, and it seems that Klinsmann is still not sure about him since Donovan's brief forays in the Bundesliga. Meanwhile, Donovan is probably the best offensive player in USA history. And they need him.
The flirtation with Julian Green, not yet 19, with almost no international experience, for a roster spot in 2014 is close to insulting to players still close to their prime, whatever that is. But Klinsmann knows his business, and he is not rushing to emulate Big Phil and commit to a roster for the upcoming mission, onward, onward, into the Group of Death.
It is getting to be World Cup time, at any rate. Americans didn’t used to care about World Cup soccer rosters. Now they tweet second-guesses. This is known as progress.
The best news is that Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer has been chosen one of the top non-fiction books of May by Amazon:
The publication date is May 13. The e-book version will also be released that day.
There will be an excerpt in a major publication very soon.
I will be making appearances at book stores in the East, starting May 29, in Huntington, Long Island, at the terrific Book Revue. Please consult this list, to be updated regularly:
The reception has been lovely, particularly from soccer lifers.
“George Vecsey gets it,” one review began:
I will also be visiting ESPN soon to talk about my book. No schedule yet. I sat in on a conference by ESPN in New York the other day and was enthused to hear about the documentaries and game coverage in the works. It was great to catch up with John Skipper, Bob Ley, Julie Foudy, Alexi Lalas. Taylor Twellman and Jeremy Schaap and pick up on the planning and enthusiasm of this soccer-friendly network.
Finally, I plan to write occasionally for my own site in between appearances. Your input about the World Cup will be more than welcome. Who will make the final cut for the U.S. squad? Who will win the World Cup? Plenty of time to talk about that.
Every name has a story, and our daughter Corinna tells hers in a lovely May Day essay today.
She tells the story on the day when she witnessed her friend Jacky Nkubito become an American citizen in DC.
The name happened as Corinna tells it. I was taking a course on the Cavalier Poets with Dr. Ruth Stauffer at Hofstra College in the spring of 1960, the last semester of my very good liberal arts education. I loved the urgency of Andrew Marvell:
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
It’s possible I might even have used those words, or at least felt the sentiment, in that beautiful flowering spring.
I also loved the poem Corinna’s Going a-Maying by Robert Herrick, which our daughter describes so nicely.
So how did we name our two other children? Marianne and I agree that her mom, still with us at 93, loved the name Laura. Also, Marianne and I both knew the David Raksin song “Laura,” from the noir movie of the same name, from 1944.
Laura is the face in the misty light
Footsteps that you hear down the hall
The laugh that floats on a summer night
That you can never quite recall.
One version is by Frank Sinatra -- long before his ring-a-ding-ding stage, I hasten to add. It's a little lush, but a time piece.
I was sold as soon as the name Laura was proposed for our oldest daughter.
And she’s not the only Laura named for the song. In the comments portion of the youtube Sinatra version, LauraLaVitaEBella says her grandfather gave her the name. Bravo, Nonno.
How did we arrive at David for our third child?
Marianne notes that I wanted to name him Dylan. It would have been perfect. She counter-proposed David – for the Michelangelo statue in Florence.
Many years later, I came to understand King David through the Leonard Cohen song, written in 1984, now one of the great touchstones of contemporary life.
Personally, I am partial to the k.d. lang version on her glorious Canadian tribute, Hymns of the 49th Parallel.
So I say, Hallelujah for music and poetry and art. Hallelujah for May Day. And Hallelujah for Citizen Jacky in DC today.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.