Ahh, Baltimore in the autumn. The heat and humidity are slowly loosening their grip on the city: the sun is shining, the birds are singing…and the occasional rainstorm interrupts a baseball game. For now, though, the weather is calm and the temperature is a pleasant 76 degrees, perfect for taking in a game at the ballpark.
Cultural and baseball miscellany
All over the radio was the newest hit from New Kids on the Block, Hangin’ Tough. Hangin’ Tough would spend a whopping 132 weeks on the charts, and the album itself would end up number one on Billboard’s Albums Chart.
If teen pop wasn’t your thing, and perhaps baseball wasn’t either, you could instead spend 4 bucks to watch the current top film, Sea of Love, starring Al Pacino. This was Pacino’s first film in four years and was a success, making over $100 million, though it would be displaced at number one just five days later by Black Rain (Ridley Scott, Michael Douglas).
In baseball, this very day would see Fay Vincent named the new Commissioner; Bart Giamatti died unexpectedly of a heart attack a couple of weeks prior on September 1.
In the June draft, the White Sox took Frank Thomas seventh overall (first overall was Ben McDonald, taken by the Orioles). For the White Sox, there weren’t any other notables from that draft, but a few other baseball names with eventual White Sox ties popped out at me: Brook Fordyce, 3rd round (Mets); Alan Embree, 5th round (Indians); and, Jim Thome, 13th round (Indians).
And lastly, a very happy birthday to Thornton Lee born on this day in 1906.
Umpires for this game
- HP: Rich Garcia
Garcia worked as an American League umpire from 1975-1999, ending his career only when MLB accepted his resignation as part of the 1999 mass resignation by the Umpires Association. In addition to working four World Series (‘81, ‘84, ‘89, ‘98), Garcia may best be remembered for this play:
- 1B: Ted Hendry
Last making an appearance in this series two months ago, Hendry umped from 1977-1999, with one World Series appearance (1990) and two All-Star games (1983 and 1995) to his credit. Hendry was one of two umpires to not begin the 1979 season on strike.
- 2B: Mike Reilly
Reilly had the longest umpiring career of the four umpires in today’s game, appearing from 1977 until 2010. Ol’ Mike took part in four World Series and four All-Star games, and was also the second base ump for this game:
- 3B: Rocky Roe
Finally, we come to third base umpire Rocky Roe. Roe worked from 1979-2001, appearing in the 1990 and 1999 World Series. Roe was home plate umpire for the final game in Tiger Stadium on September 27, 1999. Here’s the speech Ernie Harwell gave after the game concluded.
|Chicago White Sox||Baltimore Orioles|
|Lance Johnson, LF||Phil Bradley, LF|
|Scott Fletcher, 2B||Joe Orsulak, RF|
|Ivan Calderon, DH||Cal Ripken, SS|
|Carlton Fisk, C||Mickey Tettleton, DH|
|Steve Lyons, RF||Randy Milligan, 1B|
|Carlos Martinez, 1B||Craig Worthington, 3B|
|Robin Ventura, 3B||Mike Devereaux, CF|
|Sammy Sosa, CF||Bob Melvin, C|
|Ozzie Guillen, SS||Billy Ripken, 2B|
|Greg Hibbard, SP||Dave Johnson, SP|
Play by Play
This was an important game for the Orioles, who were just two games back of the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East (you wouldn’t guess it by the attendance, though: only 16,484). Starting for the home team was Baltimore native Dave Johnson, a rookie right hander called up at the beginning of August. Johnson thus far had held his own: he entered the game at 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA. Johnson worked a quick first: outside of a single to Scott Fletcher, he needed only nine pitches to retire Lance Johnson, Ivan Calderon, and Carlton Fisk.
On the mound for the White Sox was another rookie pitching well: birthday boy Greg Hibbard, sporting a 4-7 record to go with a 3.31 ERA. Like his counterpart, the first was uneventful with a groundouts from Phil Bradley and Joe Orsulak and a strikeout by Cal Ripken.
Each pitcher in the second inning worked around a double, but it was the third that saw the first run of the game. Lance Johnson doubled with one out to bring up Scott Fletcher. On a 1-2 count Fletcher hit a fly to right-center that it appeared center fielder Mike Devereaux would catch easily. It was not to be, though: the ball glanced off Devereaux’s glove, and Johnson, already in position to tag up, dashed around third and slid in safe at home to put the Sox in front 1-0. That was all the Sox would get, though, as Calderon ground out to first and Fisk popped up to second.
The Orioles had an opportunity, then, in the third to get the run back. Bob Melvin singled to right to lead things off, and Billy Ripken (of baseball card fame) bunted him over to second. With a man on second and just the one out, though, the Orioles couldn’t get it done. A fly to right from Bradley, a walk from Orsulak and a Ripken grounder to third ended the inning.
The White Sox got things going again in the fourth. Steve Lyons led off with a walk on four straight balls, then went to second on a Carlos Martinez groundout. Robin Ventura was up next, and after just missing a dinger to right on a foul ball smashed a double to the left field wall to get Lyons home and put the Sox up 2-0. The Sox couldn’t extend the lead further, though, as Sammy Sosa flew out to center and Ozzie Guillen tapped back to the mound to conclude the Sox’ half of the fourth.
The bottom of the frame was interrupted by a 49-minute rain delay which was an absolute downpour. After play resumed and the Orioles made their final out of the inning, things got a little weird in the fifth. The Sox added a run on this sequence…
- Lance Johnson bunt to third.
- Scott Fletcher bunt to second; men at first and second.
- Ivan Calderon popup, Fisk singles to right to load the bases.
- Steve Lyons infield single to second to score Johnson. 3-0, White Sox.
…which doesn’t exactly provide the context that is necessary to describe the actual events. I’ll let The Washington Post take it away:
The Washington Post, September 14, 1989
The stage for the brouhaha was set when Mike Devereaux, Baltimore’s first batter after the game resumed, slipped going around first base after lining out to end the fourth.
Then during the top of the fifth Chicago’s Lance Johnson slipped down near third base while trying to go home from second on a hit. However he scored to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead as Baltimore starter Dave Johnson slipped trying to field a slow roller to the mound by the next batter, Steve Lyons.
That brought Robinson out to announce his decision to protest the game. When the inning ended Robinson decided to discuss the issue further. After a protracted argument, Robinson was headed for the dugout when he decided to doff his cap and bow to Garcia.
Garcia didn’t hesitate, and neither did Robinson, who actually went into the dugout before realizing what Garcia had done. Within moments his face was about three inches from Garcia’s and the two were screaming at each other.
This lasted several minutes before Robinson finally decided to retreat, pausing again to bow to Garcia-this time with a full flourish that brought the crowd to its feet. Perhaps realizing he was on to something, Robinson continued bowing as he made his way back to the dugout. When he reached the warning track he waved his cap back and forth several times, further inciting the crowd.
Anywho, the rest of the game was played under protest by the Orioles. The White Sox wouldn’t do any further damage, but the Orioles didn’t make much noise, either. Big credit for that goes to both rookie pitchers as the second half of the game featured just six baserunners combined between both teams.
Johnson went the full 8 innings with the only loud hit coming in the form of a triple off the bat of Scott Fletcher with two outs in the eighth, while Hibbard went 8 ⅓ , exiting only after issuing a walk with one out in the ninth and a pitch count of 119. Bobby Thigpen came on in relief to nail down save number 30 (of 34 that year), and the White Sox won their 61st game of the year, 3-0.
Ultimately, the 1989 Orioles season would conclude with the team two games back of the Blue Jays in the East, finishing 87-75. While likely a disappointment, the season was still a breath of fresh air after the debacle in 1988. The next several seasons were a bit of a back-and-forth affair: a couple of seasons under .500 in 1990 and 1991, then several seasons in contention, culminating in the franchise’s first playoff appearances since 1983: back-to-back ALCS appearances in 1996 and 1997.
The White Sox, meanwhile, had their own set of problems. Reinsdorf and Einhorn, of course, had threatened the previous season to move the franchise to Florida if a new stadium wasn’t approved; that relocation was stopped only after a literal last minute deal during the summer of 1988. Compounding their problems, the Sox just weren’t very good, finishing no better than third since their 1983 playoff appearance.
Happily for the fans, fortunes were about to change: the 1990 season was a pleasant 94-win surprise, and with a young core coming or already arrived in the form of Ventura, Thomas, Alvarez and others, the early ‘90s would see a renaissance on Chicago’s South side.
Random Box Score White Sox record: 10-5
The Washington Post
A game during a period (’89 post-ASB) when some of the kids began to play well. Good one to feature in a week when we hope Giolito and Moncada are moving to the next level of their development.
Thanks, exactly what I was going for. Also, the “&H” intrigued me when scrolling through the “Schedule & Results” section on Baseball Reference. Was curious to learn more about why the game was played under protest. That box score is also the only one I’ve seen (not that I’m always paying attention) which described the field conditions as “Soaked”.