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A more or less random feature debuts
2007-04-01 04:00
by Bob Timmermann

Random record of the week

After two years, I feel the random game idea had been played out. And I just didn’t have access to the same resources to write them. And then there are the time issues. So I thought I would try something new.

I thought I would pick out a record from the Sporting News Complete Record & Fact Book, 2006 edition, which is apparently the last of its kind to appear in print. I put the pages that have the records (pages 10 through 419) and had a random number generator spit out a list of 27 integers (one for each week of the regular season) and pick out a record on that page and write about it.

The first page to turn up was #189. That put me in a section where the Seattle Pilots team records live. And mostly miscellaneous records to boot! Oh the joy! So which record will I examine? I opted for the largest crowd for any Seattle Pilots home day game, which was also the team’s largest home crowd ever. It was August 3, 1969 when the Pilots drew a crowd of 23,657 for Bat Day at Sick’s Stadium against the New York Yankees.

Seattle, despite a 43-61 record coming into the game, was actually in third place in the AL West, ½ game ahead of fellow expansion team Kansas City with the White Sox and Angels pulling up the rear. The Pilots were closer to first place (21 ½ games out) than the Yankees who were in fifth place at 51-56 and 23 games behind the Orioles.

The bats and the allure of the Yankee name must have been appealing to the fans of Seattle. It certainly wasn’t the play of the Pilots. They had lost five of their last six games, including a 20-inning affair on July 27 to the Red Sox. They had also lost a game to Minnesota on July 19 that took 18 innings and was actually completed the next day after it was suspended because of the AL curfew rule of the time. (The completion of the game was further delayed when play was stopped so the players and the crowd could watch the landing of Apollo 11 and see Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon.)

Stan Bahnsen started on the mound for New York and Steve Barber got the call for Seattle.

Barber got off to a bad start, walking Horace Clarke to start the game and then giving up a single to Ron Woods. Roy White drew a walk to load the bases. Joe Pepitone hit into a force out at the plate with Don Mincher making the play to Jerry McNertney.

But that just delayed the inevitable, as Frank Fernandez walked to force in a run and Bill Robinson followed with a double to score two more. Barber was sent to the showers and John Gelnar relieved. But Gene Michael singled in two more runs before Bobby Cox lined into a double play to end the inning.

That would be all the scoring for the Yankees, but the Mariners would score single runs in the sixth, eighth, and ninth, including a home run by Tommy Harper. Steve Hamilton and Lindy McDaniel finished up with McDaniel picking up his second save of the year. 1969 marked the first year that the save was an official statistic.

The bottom dropped out of the Pilots season starting on August 15 when they lost to the Orioles at home and went on to lose 16 of 17 games. They finished their season in last place in the AL West at 64-98. Their final home game, on October 2, drew 5,473 fans. Oakland won the game 3-1.

In the offseason, the Pilots ownership group went bankrupt and during spring training in 1970, the franchise was eventually awarded to an ownership group from Milwaukee headed by Bud Selig shortly before Opening Day.

The Pilots/Brewers franchise is the only one to play in both the American and National Leagues. The Dodgers, Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates all played in both the American Association and National League.

2007-04-01 08:33:01
1.   Trojan Ron
I like this feature.
2007-04-01 09:58:38
2.   Bob Timmermann

It will normally run on Mondays, but I switched since this is Opening Day.

2007-04-01 13:35:33
3.   das411
Very cool Bob.

Did the boxscores or recaps mention the delay at all? I can only imagine how something like Gameday would handle that now:

On-Field Delay (man walking on moon)

2007-04-01 13:37:44
4.   Bob Timmermann
Gameday today would acknowledge the delay by displaying a graphic of how big each step Armstrong took was.

"Armstrong, Bx 20"

2007-04-01 14:10:36
5.   BruceR
I like this feature too, but aren't you assuming quite a bit when saying "Barber got off to a bad start..." ??? Given the context, it's possible this may been a good start.

Sorry, it must be the 4/1 mood I'm in.

2007-04-01 14:23:07
6.   Bob Timmermann
Walking Horace Clarke was never a good thing.

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