Random Box Score: September 15, 1985

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]oday, we’ll be looking at our first Random Box Score matchup featuring a true West Coast team: the Seattle Mariners. These were the days when the Mariners played in the Kingdome: like most all domes of its era, it wasn’t the prettiest place to play, but boy howdy, were those uniforms on point. It was a beautiful day outside: 58 degrees and sunny, and it seems as though Seattle residents agreed: just 6,862 were in attendance to take in a Sunday matinee between two teams out of the pennant race.

Cultural Trivia and Baseball Miscellany

On your Sony Walkman (if you were lucky enough to own one that also had a radio!), it’s likely that the local Seattle station was playing St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion), by John Parr, #1 atop the charts on this day. If baseball inside the Kingdome wasn’t your thing, and enjoying the outdoors wasn’t, either, perhaps you’d have been interested in ponying up $3.55 to watch the #1 movie in the country, where it had been since July: Back to the Future. Any excuse is a good excuse to reference Back to the Future, so here’s the trailer:

Around baseball, Pete Rose had just broken Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record four days prior:

…while Tom Seaver won his 300th game (as a member of the White Sox; he’d lead the team with 5.1 WAR this season).

In the draft, the notable player the White Sox drafted was Bobby Thigpen in the fourth round. And who, you might ask, did they draft in the first round, at fifth overall? That would be Kurt Brown, a catcher, who never made it to the majors. Two players they didn’t draft in the “What could have been” category: Barry Bonds, drafted by the Pirates with the very next pick; or, Rafael Palmeiro, drafted 22nd by the Cubs.

And, finally, one notable birth on this date: Matt Thornton, born nine years prior, in 1976.

Umpires for this game

Brinkman had a lengthy career as an umpire, spanning from 1972-1999. His most notable game? Crew chief for the Pine Tar Incident (he’s the guy who restrains George Brett)! Let’s take a look, shall we?

Lepperd served as a substitute umpire from 1984-1986, filling in for other umps when they couldn’t make a game. Lepperd currently serves as Director of the Umpire Administration.

  • 2B: Tim Tschida

Tschida umped from 1981-2012. Of note from his career: famed for the blown “phantom tag” by Chuck Knoblauch on Jose Offerman in the 1999 ALCS; he also ejected Joe Niekro in a game where he was suspected of doctoring pitches. Turns out Niekro had an emory board in his pants pocket.

  • 3B: John Shulock.

Umped from 1979-2002. He appeared in the first installment of this series: as you might recall, he charged the mound in a game against Wilson Alvarez.

The Lineups

Chicago White Sox Seattle Mariners
  1. Scott Fletcher, SS
  2. Tim Hulett, 3B
  3. Harold Baines, RF
  4. Carlton Fisk, DH
  5. Ron Kittle, LF
  6. Reid Nichols, CF
  7. Luis Salazar, 1B
  8. Joel Skinner, C
  9. Julio Cruz, 2B
  10. Joel Davis, SP
  1. Jack Perconte, 2B
  2. Phil Bradley, LF
  3. Alvin Davis, 1B
  4. Gorman Thomas, DH
  5. Dave Henderson, RF
  6. Danny Tartabull, 3B
  7. John Moses, CF
  8. Donnie Scott, C
  9. Spike Owen, SS
  10. Mark Langston, SP

Play by Play

On the mound for the Mariners today was Mark Langston, whom you might better remember as a member of the Angels in the early- and mid-90s. Langston had finished the previous season as runner-up for Rookie of the Year (to teammate Alvin Davis; Kirby Puckett finished third and Roger Clemens finished sixth), but was struggling in his sophomore campaign, entering with a 7-12 record and a 5.00 ERA.

The White Sox wasted no time adding to Langston’s troubles. Leadoff man Scott Fletcher walked and then promptly stole second. After a flyout to right by Tim Hulett and a Harold Baines strikeout, Carlton Fisk doubled home Fletcher, and Ron Kittle singled to score Fisk, quickly making it 2-0 in favor of the Sox. A walk to center fielder Reid Nichols brought first baseman Luis Salazar to the plate with men on first and second. Salazar continued the hit parade, singling home Kittle to make it 3-0. A flyout by catcher Joel Skinner mercifully brought the frame to a close for Langston.

Joel Davis was the starting pitcher for the White Sox today, a promising rookie the Sox had drafted 13th overall in the 1983 draft. Brought up the previous month, Davis had gotten off to a 4-3 record with a 4.47 ERA. Davis made quick work of the Mariners in his half of the first; outside of a double by Alvin Davis, the Sox pitcher got two groundouts up the middle and a popup to first for his first three outs.

In the second, Langston ran into yet more trouble. A walk by second baseman Julio Cruz started things off. After Fletcher struckout, Cruz stole second on another strikeout by Tim Hulett. An errant throw by Mariners catcher Donnie Scott drifted into centerfield, allowing Cruz to take third. Next up was Harold Baines, who singled home Cruz to make the score 4-0. A flyout by Fisk finally got Fletcher that elusive third out: the Sox had done all their damage to this point with two outs.

The Mariners were able to get things going against Davis in the third, though. Dave Henderson, Danny Tartabull, and John Moses smacked back-to-back-to-back singles to start things off. On Moses’ single, Henderson scored from second and Tartabull advanced to third on the throw home. Moses stole second with Donnie Scott batting, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. A groundout to first by Scott, and a Spike Owen 5-3 groundout got Davis the second out. Mariners second baseman Jack Perconte smacked a single with runners going, though, which scored Tartabull and Moses, and all of a sudden the score was 4-3. Davis continued to unravel, walking Phil Bradley to put runners at first and second. By this point, Sox manager Tony LaRussa had seen enough in a short sample: Davis’ day was done as he called on righty Dave Wehrmeister to get out of the inning. Davis’ line: 1 ⅔ IP, with 3 runs on five hits. The move worked, as Wehrmeister struck out Alvin Davis to end the second.

Looking at the Chicago Tribune recap from the next day,  the newspaper shared LaRussa’s lack of confidence in Davis:

If the White Sox are to feel confident enough to trade Tom Seaver to the New York Yankees this winter, which is a possibility confirmed by team president Eddie Einhorn, they’ll need more from Joel Davis than he showed Sunday.

(Seaver was not traded during the offseason, going 16-11 with a 3.17 ERA for the Sox in 1985, before getting traded to the Red Sox in 1986 for Steve Lyons; Joel Davis pitched for the Sox through the 1988 season before getting traded to the Indians. He was out of the league after that.)

After a quiet third for both teams, the White Sox got things going again in the fourth. Joel Skinner led things off with a walk, followed by a Cruz single and a Fletcher walk. With the bases loaded and nobody out, the Sox threatened to pull away from the Mariners for good. Mariners manager Chuck Cottier took out Langston and replaced him with Frank Wills. Wills, normally a starting pitcher, induced a lineout to short first the first out, before giving up a sac fly off the bat of Harold Baines to make it 5-3 White Sox. With the Sox looking for more, Carlton Fisk grounded to third for the forceout and the end of the inning.

The move to the bullpen was the right call for both teams:

  • For the Sox, Wehrmeister pitched 4 ⅓ innings, striking out four, walking one and giving up four hits. He helped his cause in both the fifth and the sixth innings getting grounders back to the mound to start double plays. Following Wehrmeister, lefty reliever Juan Agosto went 1 ⅓, allowing no baserunners, and closer Bob James notched his 27th save of the season, pitching 1 ⅔ scoreless innings.
  • For the Mariners, Frank Wills did the heavy lifting. He went 5 ⅓ innings, and didn’t get into trouble until the ninth. After pinch hitter (and soon-to-be Rookie of the Year!) Ozzie Guillen grounded to first to start the ninth, Wills allowed three singles in a row to Hulett, Baines, and Fisk. Fisk’s single scored Hulett to make it 6-3 Sox; Wills was replaced by lefty Ed Vande Berg who promptly retired defensive replacement Daryl Boston for the third out.

As alluded to above, Bob James had an uneventful ninth, setting down Tartabull, Al Chambers and Dave Valle in order, preserving the 6-3 win for the Sox, their ninth in the last eleven games.

Box Score

***

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t the time of this game, the White Sox were 73-69, 9 games back of the Kansas City Royals (who would go on to win the ’85 Fall Classic against the Cardinals, dubbed the “I-70 Series”). They would finish the season at 85-77, six games out in the AL West. We all know what happened next: GM Roland Hemond was fired following the season and replaced by…Hawk Harrelson. Harrelson’s disastrous one-year tenure as GM saw the firing of both Tony LaRussa and Dave Dombrowski, and the end of Dave Duncan’s tenure with the Sox, too (until this season). Fans in Chicago wouldn’t see an above-.500 team again until 1990, never finishing better than fifth in the AL West.

 

For the Mariners, they would finish the season at 74-88, a typically bad season for a franchise that wouldn’t even see its first .500 season ever until 1991. From their inception as the Mariners in 1977 until that .500 season in 1991, they never finished higher than fourth, compiling a 937-1275 record, good for a .423 winning percentage. Baseball in Seattle was bad; it had been bad, and it wouldn’t get good for another decade (having Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, and Randy Johnson would help with that).

Random Box Score White Sox record: 2-2

Sources Consulted

Baseball Reference
Billboard Hot 100 Archive
Chicago Tribune
Historic New York Times
IMDB
Los Angeles Times
Playback FM
Weather Underground

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Ted Mulvey

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

Articles: 288
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Patrick Nolan

I. LOVE. St. Elmo’s Fire. I used it as my walkup music for softball.

Jim Margalus

It’s a ridiculous song, but the chorus is great for oversinging.

Patrick Nolan

Hey, look, you described my taste in music.

Patrick Nolan

I saw that. We’ll generously call that liberal use of the button, though I’d personally use more harsh language for the perpetrator.

Josh Nelson

I have this damn song stuck in my head.

Patrick Nolan

You’re welcome

Right Size Wrong Shape

It’s kind of stuck in my head, but when I get to the synthesizer part it turns into “Obsession” by Animotion.

MrTopaz

Pardon my French, but that song fucking owns.

Greg Nix

Those synths are the perfect kind of terrible.

MrTopaz

And if you’re not sure the song is any good (and why you would ever be anything but pro-Man in Motion is beyond me), they helpfully provide you with a cheering audience in the background to lead you down the right path.

Now, I f anyone needs me, I’ll be where eagle’s flying higher and higher…

Greg Nix

Uh oh, might have to ruin this song for everyone: “In 2012, John Parr re-recorded the song with new lyrics, dubbed “Tim Tebow’s Fire”, to honor Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos. Parr stated to Denver FOX affiliate KDVR, “I was inspired by Tim Tebow so I wanted to modify the lyrics…in his honor of the way that he lives his life as being a great example.”

Listen if you dare. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAIQWzW1MIc

MrTopaz

Not as bad as I feared, mostly on the strength of some edited-for-tv-bad over dubs.