Random Box Score: August 7, 1974

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he morning of August 7, 1974 broke cool and cloudy. In the United States the day would begin with a daredevil attempt by Frenchman Philippe Petit to walk a tightrope between the Twin Towers…

…while the end of the day would see rumors of President Richard Nixon considering resignation. From The New York Times:

Three Republican leaders indicated today that President Nixon was now leaving open the possibility of resignation, and they said he had told them he would base his decision on the national interest.

(Nixon, of course, would announce his intent to resign the next evening, and officially hand over control to Gerald Ford on August 9)

In between these two events, however, an exciting matchup took place between the Chicago White Sox and the California Angels, a terrific pitching duel which saw Nolan Ryan square off against Jim Kaat.

Cultural Trivia and Baseball Miscellany

If I were to put together a Random Box Score music playlist, the mix would be rather eclectic, spanning decades and genres. Today’s number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 would be our first folk tune of the album, Annie’s Song by John Denver. This song was nearing the end of its two-week run atop the charts; it would be displaced by Roberta Flack’s Feel Like Makin’ Love in just a few days.

At the box office, one could pay just under $2.00 to go see the top movie, Death Wish, starring Charles Bronson in his breakthrough role as Paul Kersey, architect-turned-vigilante. Death Wish would stay at number one for another couple of weeks before ceding the top spot to The Longest Yard.

Around baseball, the MLB draft had concluded a couple of months earlier. Shortstop Bill Almon was selected first overall by the San Diego Padres, while the White Sox selected right-handed pitcher Larry Monroe from Mt. Prospect at #8. Monroe would get a late-August call-up in 1976, appearing in 8 games and logging a 4.15 ERA, but was out of the league the following season. There were really no other notables for the Sox in this draft, and only a few for other teams:

There was also a 2-day summer meeting which took place on August 7-8, 1974. Relevant to White Sox interests was a proposal for the team to switch from the American League West to the East:

The White Sox had hoped to switch to the East and move Milwaukee to the West because it would have provided Chicago better television and radio exposure during prime time and also because of the natural geographic rivalry among the eastern clubs. -Sarasota Herald Tribune

The second day of talks focused on team expansions. The Hawk Eye noted that commissioner Bowie Kuhn envisioned “a major league franchise in Tokyo in 10 years”. (While no expansions happened the following season, Toronto and Seattle were added for the 1977 season)

Finally, three White Sox player births during August 1974: Luis Vizcaino (August 6), Jeff Liefer (August 17), and Pablo Ozuna (August 25).

Umpires for this game

  • Home plate: Larry Barnett

Barnett worked as an umpire from 1969-1999. He was involved in two notable playoff games, the first during game 3 of the 1975 World Series…:

…and the second during the 1996 ALCS:

  • 1B: Jim McKean

McKean was an umpire from 1973-2001, and worked the 1979, 1985, and 1995 World Series. Perhaps most notably, he ejected Blue Jays mascot BJ Birdy in 1993 after the mascot tried to rile up the crowd on a blown call.

  • 2B: Jim Evans

Evans umped from 1971-1999. In addition to working the 1977, 1982, 1986, and 1996 World Series, he also was an umpire for two perfect games: Mike Witt’s (9/30/1984) and David Cone’s (7/18/1999).

  • 3B: Larry Napp

Rounding out our crew for today’s game is Larry Napp. Napp was the 2B umpire for a previous Random Box Score, and umped from 1951-1974.

The Lineups

California Angels Chicago White Sox
  1. Mickey Rivers, CF
  2. Rudy Meoli, 3B
  3. Leroy Stanton, RF
  4. Frank Robinson, DH
  5. Bruce Bochte, 1B
  6. Bobby Valentine, LF
  7. Dave Chalk, SS
  8. Ellie Rodriguez, C
  9. Denny Doyle, 2B
  10. Nolan Ryan, SP
  1. Pat Kelly, DH
  2. Jorge Orta, 2B
  3. Dick Allen, 1B
  4. Carlos May, LF
  5. Ken Henderson, CF
  6. Bill Melton, 3B
  7. Bill Sharp, RF
  8. Brian Downing, C
  9. Bucky Dent, SS
  10. Jim Kaat, SP

Play by Play

The 56-54 White Sox entered this game looking to make it two in a row over the 43-68 California Angels, but it seemed as though that might be a tall order: against the Sox on the season Ryan was 2-1 with a sparkling 2.08 ERA. If any pitcher would be able to help the team to accomplish this task, though, it was Jim Kaat. Kaat and Ryan had faced off the week before with the Sox winning 3-2 in 10 innings.

Kaat and Ryan had quiet firsts: Kaat with a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play and flyout; Ryan by striking out the side. In the second, though, Kaat was the pitcher who blinked first. Leading off the second for the Halos was Frank Robinson. After two successful breaking pitches for strikes, a third didn’t fool the future Hall-of-Famer as he banged out a home run, his 16th on the season and number 568 for his career (at the time, this put him on the all-time list for fourth-most in MLB history). Interestingly, circumstances the week prior nearly made this home run impossible. The Angels had put Robinson on waivers and several teams claimed him, but the team pulled him back. The Pomona Progress Bulletin only had a couple of sentences to say about the claims, mentioning that the “Boston Red Sox would have given several players to the Angels in return.”

Outside of the home run to Robinson, though, Kaat matched Ryan stride for stride. Both pitchers got into a bit of trouble in the middle of the game, but managed to escape their respective jams. In the bottom of the fifth Ryan faced his first adversity of the game, issuing back-to-back walks to Ken Henderson and Bill Melton, respectively. Right fielder Bill Sharp sac-bunted Henderson and Melton over to put runners at second and third with just the one out. Brian Downing struck out for the second out, though, and Bucky Dent grounded out 6-3 to end the threat.

Kaat’s issues began in the top half of the next frame. After getting the first out by way of a 4-3 groundout, Kaat issued back-to-back singles to Mickey Rivers and Rudy Meoli that put runners at first and third. Angels right fielder Leroy Stanton ground into a double play, 6-3, moving the game into the bottom half of the sixth, and the White Sox still trailing just 1-0.

All was quiet on the western front until the bottom of the ninth inning. (Note: I highly recommend watching the video below) Jorge Orta led off the inning for the Sox and struck out for the golden sombrero, and Ryan’s 13th strikeout on the game. To this point Ryan had pitched a no-hitter; he was going for the third of his career and would have (at the time) matched only Bob Feller with three no-hitters in the American League. Dick Allen, however, had other things to say about that: the Sox first baseman chopped a slow roller to third off a half-swing. Rudy Meoli, playing deep in the infield, failed to get a good grip on the transfer and couldn’t get the throw over to first in time to preserve the no-hitter: the Sox were in business.

Up next was Carlos May, who ground a ball to first baseman Bruce Bochte for what looked to be at least the second out. Bochte fumbled the ball, though, allowing Allen to advance to second and May to reach first. The newspaper account doesn’t make mention of this, and I can’t really tell from the video, but I wonder if Bochte was looking to start a double play to end the game and preserve the shutout? Regardless, after a lengthy 7-pitch battle (during which Harry Carey implores for some #WILDPITCHOFFENSE), Ken Henderson smacked a 2-2 fastball into center to score Allen and tie the game at 1. Lee Richard (pinch running for Carlos May) advanced to third while Henderson made second, giving the Sox two runners in scoring position with just the one out for Beltin’ Bill. The Sox third baseman popped up on the first pitch he saw to catcher for the second out, placing the game in the hands of Sharp. After a sneaky bunt to third which rolled just foul, the right fielder smacked a 2-1 single under the glove of Bochte at first to bring home Richard for the walk-off, 2-1 victory. What was nearly Ryan’s third no-hitter of his career became his twelfth loss of the season.

Box score

The ninth inning (video)

***

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or the Angels, the 1974 season was yet another disappointing campaign in a stretch of uncompetitive years. These Angels would finish 68-94, good for last place in the American League West. They had yet to make the playoffs since becoming an expansion team in 1961, and wouldn’t do so until 1979. There were rumors that the Angels were looking to trade Nolan Ryan in the offseason (something he publicly stated he didn’t want to happen unless it was to Texas or Houston), though nothing ever developed: Ryan stayed with the Angels until the ’79 offseason, after which he signed as a free agent with Houston. He would go on to get that elusive third no-hitter later in the 1974 season, a 4-0 blanking of the Twins on September 28.

The Sox, meanwhile, finished 80-80, good for fourth in the AL West. While these Sox were mired in their own little run of mediocrity, it was sandwiched between the surprising (and fun!) 1972 and 1977 teams, both of whom finished with more than 85 wins. Jim Kaat went on to finish one of the best seasons of his career, logging 7.1 WAR, with a record of 21-13 and a 2.92 ERA. He would have another fine season for the White Sox in 1975 before getting traded to the Phillies for Alan Bannister, Dick Ruthven, and Roy Thomas.

Random Box Score White Sox record: 4-2

Sources consulted

Baseballreference.com
Billboard Hot 100
Historical New York Times
IMDB
NewspaperArchive.com
Playback.fm
Weather Underground

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Ted Mulvey
Ted Mulvey

White Sox fan, homebrewer, academic librarian. Not necessarily in that order, but quite possibly.

Articles: 310
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ForsterFTOG

Thanks very much for this. Brought back memories of watching channel 44 with my late father, an all time great self-loathing Sox fan. Would complain even after a game like this. Great call by Harry before he became a caricature. Loved the promo for Bob Luce wrestling.

asinwreck

Jim Kaat was old then, and still had almost a decade left as an active player. Perhaps his example spurred Ryan to pitch another two decades.

Kaat’s almost 80 now and is one of the best analysts calling games for MLB Network.

After a career as an unremarkable #1 pick, Larry Monroe contributed to the Sox making several unremarkable #1 picks once Ron Schueler took over for Larry Himes.

What’s Bill Almon up to these days?

itaita

That Angles lineup has me wondering which non All-Star starting 9 has featured the most future MLB managers at one time.

asinwreck

Had they not traded Fregosi for Ryan, they’d have a third manager to go with Robinson and Valentine….but then this game would probably not be worthy of a feature in 2018.

Marty34

Love these random box scores.