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Somebody's Golden Age? A look back at a Dodgers-Mets game from 1972
2008-07-15 06:00
by Bob Timmermann

Although we've had it hammered into us that baseball's "golden age" was sometime in the 1940s or 1950s, or possibly the 1920s, or maybe now, but baseball has played through eras of different nicknames. And I'm not sure what 1972 would qualify as. Perhaps it was the Avocado Green Era.

I got the chance to watch a few innings of a July 9, 1972 game between the Dodgers and Mets at Shea Stadium. It was quite a pitching matchup with Tom Seaver facing Claude Osteen, both of whom would be 20-game winners that season.


The DVD I have picks up in the fourth inning and the Dodgers are up 1-0. The first three Dodgers of the game, rookie second baseman Lee Lacy, left fielder Bill Buckner, and center fielder Willie Davis, all singled to score a run.

Through the first three innings, Osteen had given up only a leadoff single to Mets center fielder Wilile Mays.

While it was a Dodgers broadcast, the pictures were from the Mets. And since it was the middle innings, Jerry Doggett was calling the action, and not Vin Scully.

Most Dodgers fans memories of Jerry Doggett was that he was "not Vin Scully." Doggett was a perfectly capable announcer, who kept you informed about the game, gave the score and count, and didn't go too far off track. He just wasn't Vin Scully.

Seaver made quick work of the Dodgers in the top of the fourth, retiring the side in order. Osteen did the same in the bottom of the inning. Mets first baseman Jim Beauchamp hurt himself running out a grounder and Ed Kranepool came out to replace him in the fifth.

The fifth inning had all the excitement of this game, even though no runs would score. In the top of the fifth, Osteen had a one-out double down the rightfield line. That brought up Lacy, who had come up to the majors on June 30.

Doggett noted that Lacy was from Longview, Texas (that was just his birthplace, Lacy grew up in Oakland), the same town where former Dodger Charlie Neal hailed from. And then Doggett went on for a bit about Longview and how he met his wife there and started in broadcasting there. For some reason, Doggett started referring himself to as "we." He also made mention of how tough it was to strike out Lacy.

Lacy struck out.

The next batter, Buckner, fouled out to left to end the threat.

Mets catcher Duffy Dyer doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Doggett noted that Dyer was from the Phoenix area (he played college ball at Arizona State) and was signed by Mets scout Bob Scheffing. "Ironically, Scheffing also lives in the Phoenix area," Doggett said. And somewhere deep in my six-year old mind, I must have thought "this man is not using the word 'ironically' correctly."

Osteen followed with a walk to Teddy Martinez (who was playing right field) to bring up the #8 hitter,  second baseman Wayne Garrett. Mets manager Yogi Berra had Garrett sacrifice the runners over for Seaver, which seemed to be a curious decision.

Seaver had hit two home runs that season, but he wasn't an especially good hitter. Berra called for a squeeze and Seaver got the bunt down, but Dyer didn't get a good break and Osteen made a nice play to shovel the ball to catcher Duke Sims. Dyer, the ball, and Sims all seemed to collide at the same time. Umpire John McSherry called Dyer out. Dyer and Berra argued mildly, but that was that.

Despite it being very warm, both times when the pitchers got on base, they put on jackets. Teams must have been very, very, very worried that pitchers arms would stiffen. But it looked far more uncomfortable to see Seaver buttoning up a nylon jacket on a sticky summer day.

Mays was the Mets last chance in the fifth and Osteen struck him out and made Mays look very, very, very old while doing it. After the strikeout, Mays tossed off his helmet and took his cap out of his back pocket.

The Dodgers had another rally in the sixth. Davis led off with a single and Frank Robinson followed with a four-pitch walk that seemed to irritate Seaver. Parker, the #5 hitter, sacrificed, and Seaver gave third baseman Jim Lefebvre an intentional walk to load the bases.

Up came Sims, one of three veteran catchers the Dodgers tried out in 1972, before Steve Yeager and Joe Ferguson were called up. Sims got brushed back on one pitch, but ultimately struck out.

That left another veteran whom the years were not kind to, Maury Wills, to try knock in the runs. The graphic showed that Wills was batting .127 with two RBIs on the season. And Wills bounced out to shortstop Bud Harrelson to end the inning. Wills would bat .129 in his final major league season. Wills had actually had a decent 1971 season was sixth in the NL MVP voting. And in 1972, Wills had a historically bad season.

The Mets had their leadoff hitter in the sixth, Harrelson, reach on a single. Berra then ordered his #3 hitter, John Milner, to sacrifice. So with one out and a runner on second, cleanup man Jim Fregosi, playing third, tried to make Mets fans (over 50,000 in attendance) forget about Nolan Ryan. Fregosi grounded out to Osteen. Ryan threw a one-hitter for the Angels that day.

Kranepool came up next, but looked like he had no clue as to how to hit Osteen's pitches and he struck out.

The top of the seventh is also on the DVD, so Vin Scully shows up briefly. In 1972, he sounds very much like he does today. It's hard for me to believe that at the time, he was just 44, only two years older than I am now.

The Dodgers went out in order in the seventh and then the DVD ends. The Dodgers added another run in the 9th on an RBI single by Lacy to win 2-0.

In the LA Times story after the game, Lacy was the story. Lacy had been called up from AA El Paso because Bill Russell had to fulfill some military duty. And the Dodgers had wanted to call up AAA second baseman Davey Lopes, but Lopes was also serving out some military reserve time.

Lacy held on to the second base job until September when he got hurt and Billy Grabarkewitz took over the job and then Lopes got the starts in the final week of the season.

Two other things really stood out for me from wathcing a game from 1972:

1) the players played a lot faster. Osteen and Seaver worked quickly, but the hitters also tended to stay in the box for the whole at bat. Everybody just worked much more quickly.

2) if a batter grounded out with nobody on, the first baseman would turn to his left and throw the ball to the catcher who was backing up the play and then the catcher would throw the ball around the horn. Check how many times you see that now or how often a catcher even gets that far down the line on a grounder.


2008-07-15 07:12:31
1.   mbtn01
Cool. How did you get this? Where can we view this?

Preservation of baseball, particularly common games, on video has just been awful.

2008-07-15 08:19:09
2.   ToyCannon
That is awesome Bob. That was the game that made me a Lacy fan for life. 25 years later he was invited to a Roto draft at a bar a friend of mine ran in Palm Springs, and he and his wife actually showed up. He was curious how the whole thing worked.

I was his biggest fan and they hung out for about a hour. His wife was a Doctor in the WSFV and I think he was working for the Angels at the time. Got to serve him some beers and talk about his career. He is the only baseball player I've ever sat down and had a conversation with and it was well worth it. I've never asked for an autograph until then but he signed a ball for me.

I still remember one play he made when he was just starting out playing RF. He caught a ball near the line, did a 360 and made a perfect throw to the plate and nailed the runner. Vinny compared the play to something Clemente would have done.

And of course his multiple pinch hit home runs.

2008-07-15 08:30:06
3.   Eric Stephen
And somewhere deep in my six-year old mind

Bob, I don't think you've ever had a six-year old mind. Your brain was fully formed when you came out of the womb.

2008-07-15 08:30:43
4.   Eric Stephen
TC, what bar in Palm Springs, if you don't mind my asking? I grew up there.
2008-07-15 08:40:15
5.   Bob Timmermann
I bought the DVD from
2008-07-15 09:02:30
6.   old dodger fan
Willie Mays in a Mets uniform.
Frank Robinson in a Dodger uniform.
It's just not natural.

I started listening to the Dodgers on the radio in about 1959 and always liked Jerry Doggett. He and Vin were a good team. Following a game on the radio is a lot different than TV and they were able to keep me informed about what was happening on the field, tell some interesting stories and anecdotes but it was never about them. It was about the game. Can't ask for much more but they did spoil me for life.

2008-07-15 09:24:50
7.   Gilberto Reyes
What was the story with Frank Robinson's brief tenure with the Dodgers? How was he acquired and why did he only play one season? I was only 7 years old in 1972 and didn't start following the Dodgers until 1974. Robinson's stats show that in 1971 he came in third in the MVP voting in Baltimore and in he hit 30 HR and drove in 97 runs for the Angels in 1973. So why the one sub-par year with the Dodgers? Was he hurt (played in only 103 games)?
2008-07-15 09:37:27
8.   Eric Stephen
Robinson was in a package to LA, and heading back to Baltimore was 21-year old Doyle Alexander.

It's interesting that Doyle Alexander's career was bookended by being traded for HOFers (Robinson in 1971; Smoltz in 1987).

Robinson was hurt in 1972, but he did manage to put up a 127 OPS+, which was 3rd best among NL RF. And the Dodgers managed to get future free agent Andy Messersmith from the Angels for him.

2008-07-15 09:53:50
9.   Bob Timmermann
The story I have heard is that Robinson, along with Bill Singer, Bobby Valentine, Billy Grabarkewitz, and Mike Strahler were sent packing down the 5 for Messersmith and McMullen because O'Malley wanted to get rid of the players who voted against the players strike.

O'Malley did not like the strike, but he also didn't want a clubhouse divided on the issue. Marvin Miller, in an address at a SABR Convention, said this was the case, but would not say which Dodgers had dissented.

Robinson needed to go to the AL as the DH position would give him more chance to play.

2008-07-15 10:03:39
10.   Bob Timmermann
Does anyone know why Wills declined so precipitously in 1972? Was he hurt? Did his lifestyle catch up with him?
2008-07-15 10:26:23
11.   old dodger fan
10 I always assumed it was just because he was old. He was 2 days past his 40th birthday when he played his last game. He did fall off quickly though. Reminded me of Warren Spahn in 1964.
2008-07-15 10:47:48
12.   Gilberto Reyes
8 and 9 Thanks for the response.

10 and 11 Age was probably a factor but those numbers in 1972 were quite a dropoff. It really does look like something else was going on.

I remember hearing that his brief managerial career with Texas in 1980 and 1981 was affected by substance abuse. It's good to see that he has straightened himself out and that the Dodgers have brought him back into the organization.

I know that Willie Davis (my first childhood favorite player) has not been as fortunate at dealing with similar issues in his life after baseball.

2008-07-15 11:02:42
13.   ToyCannon
It was a steak house called Jeremiah's that had a nice sports bar in the back.

I actually booed Maury Wills that year. My Dad was appalled and disgusted and let me know that booing someone because they physically can't compete anymore was wrong.

2008-07-15 11:04:13
14.   ToyCannon
I know Willie has a gambling addition but wasn't aware of the substance abuse problem. He has been a regular at the race track for years and years.
2008-07-15 11:15:16
15.   mbtn01

/writes check

2008-07-15 11:25:26
16.   Bob Timmermann
Willie Davis had a substance abuse problem back in the 1990s and got arrested after going after his own parents with a samurai sword.

But he's cleaned himself up.

2008-07-15 11:39:35
17.   dianagramr

I believe Maury's son, Bump, had a serious drug problem which curtailed his career.

BTW, I was at the back-to-back inside-the-park homer game referenced in the wiki entry.

2008-07-15 11:41:03
18.   Gilberto Reyes
16 I remember the samurai sword incident after the LA Times wrote an article about the state of Willie's life in the 1990's. He was living in a very low income area in LA and the article described his living arrangement as one similar to a homeless person. It made me sad to read that. In 2006, I made a trip to Vero Beach during spring training and had the chance to talk to Lou Johnson. Lou told me that Willie was doing much better and had cleaned himself up just as Bob mentioned.
2008-07-15 11:49:48
19.   Bob Timmermann
Willie Davis, like Juan Pierre today, wore a cap under his helmet.
2008-07-15 12:41:56
20.   old dodger fan
18 Maybe we can invent a new word. We could say that Willie has Josh Hamiltoned his life. (Just kidding).

Glad to hear that he's doing better. He was such fun to watch although Tommy Davis was my favorite non-pitcher at the time. If I recall correctly Willie was considered the fastest Dodger of the early 60's, even faster than Wills.

2008-07-15 13:53:20
21.   Eric Enders
Today's Uni Watch column at is all about uniform-related shenanigans at the All-Star Game. Among other things, it has a picture of Willie Davis hitting a pinch homer in the 1973 ASG while wearing a Braves helmet, because he forgot to bring his Dodgers helmet to the game with him.

It also has pictures of Nolan Ryan as a Padre, Carlton Fisk as a Brewer, and Ty Cobb as an Indian, among other things.

2008-07-15 15:09:54
22.   Gilberto Reyes
21 Thanks for that link. I think you just resurrected one of my earliest childhood baseball memories of Willie hitting that HR wearing the Braves helmet. I was 8 years old and that was the first All Star game that I had ever watched. Willie was my hero. As a kid I always thought of him as a HR hitter for some reason even though he was primarily known for his speed. I think that HR is why.
2008-07-15 15:57:44
23.   Bob Hendley
9 - It was a very sad day for me when they traded Bobby V. He was my favorite Dodger at that time (Looking back at the stats, I think I used to put a lot of value in running into walls).
2008-07-15 19:00:36
24.   Bruce Markusen
Bob, great stuff about baseball in 1972. The part about catchers backing up first base is particularly interesting. I wonder when that first started to fade out of the game.

Another thing I've noticed has to do with TV coverage. You almost never see the view from behind home plate anymore, the way that you did with baseball in the sixties and seventies. While the view from center field is certainly better, it would be nice to mix in the angle from behind the plate, the way the Mets have done a little this year.

Another factor with F. Robby's quick departure was his relationship with Walter Alston. They didn't get along, certainly not the way that Robinson did with Weaver in Baltimore.

2008-07-15 20:25:13
25.   popup
Jerry was an excellent broadcaster. He joined the Dodgers on Labor Day of 1956 to team with Vin for a game between the Giants and Dodgers at the Polo Grounds. Before joining the Dodgers, Jerry worked for Gordon McClendand's Liberty radio network doing recreations of major league games.

Several radio broadcasts by Vin and Jerry have been preserved from the 1957 season thanks to Pat Rispole, who taped the games at his home in upstate New York from radio station WGY in Schenectady, NY.

The earliest complete game LA Dodger broadcast featuring Vin and Jerry that I know of is Sandy's perfect game in 1965 against the Cubs. The game is available for listening to visitors to the HOF library in Cooperstown. Vin's call of the 9th inning of Sandy's perfect game is more readily available to the general public. A record of Vin's call was sold at Dodger Stadium in the late 60's and was available by mail from Danny Goodman.

The earliest complete game radio broadcast from the LA Dodger network that is readily available is a 1967 doubleheader against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost both games. The recording was made from a radio station in Phoenix, AZ. Several Dodger games from 1969 are available, including the 9/3/69 Met/Dodger game written about by Jon for his article about Vin.

There are many games from the early 70's that have been preserved that feature Vin and Jerry. Jon wrote about one of them on his blog, a 1971 Dodger/Expo game broadcast entirely by Vin. That is the only Dodger radio broadcast that I have ever heard that was done solely by Vinny.

Most of the early 70's games were recorded from radio station KTAR in Phoenix. However there were some games recorded from Armed Forces radio that feature Vin and Jerry, including the 1974 Braves/Dodgers game when Hank Aaron hit #715 to pass Babe Ruth.

In 1977 Ross Porter joined the Dodger broadcast team. There are a few games called by Ross, Vin and Jerry that have been presererved. At times Ross and Jerry handled the radio broadcasts without Vin. I have heard a 1979 Dodger/Pirate broadcast done by Ross and Jerry, and a 1985 Expo/Dodger game also called on the radio by only Ross and Jerry. I assume Vin was either on assignment for Game of the Week on NBC or doing the game on local TV for the Dodgers. There is a complete 1979 Dodger/Giant TV game (which I have not seen) from the Dodger network that has been preserved. I assume Jerry and Vin were on the TV broadcast.

Jerry's last year with the Dodgers was 1987. Don Drysdale replaced Jerry in 1988. Vin and Jerry were an excellent broadcast team, as was Ross, Don and Vin. How I wish the Dodgers had a broadcaster as capable as either Ross or Jerry to join with Vin on Dodger radio broadcasts today.

Stan from Tacoma

2008-07-15 23:04:29
26.   grandcosmo
Maury Wills finished 6th in the MVP voting in 1971 with 73 runs scored, 15 steals and an OPS+ of 91. He placed right in front of Fergie Jenkins who was 24-13 in 325 innings and Tom Seaver who was 20-10 with a 1.76 ERA.

The MVP voters were just as stupid back then as they are now.

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