As the New York Yankees prepared to face the Boston Red Sox on Jul. 20, 1965, the defending American League Champions found themselves ensconced in sixth place, 12.5 games behind the league-leading Minnesota Twins.
The Red Sox were in even worse shape. They were ninth in the 10-team league, 22 games out of first.
Some games define trends, and this was one of them.
Twenty-three-year old Mel Stottlemyre faced the Red Sox' Bill Monbouquette, who was a "Yankees killer." The Yankees won, 6-3, but how they won is the important part.
The Yankees had become an offensively challenged team, but by 1965, the balance between offense and defense was visibly eroding in both major leagues.
Pitchers were beginning to dominate, and it would become so unbalanced that 1968 is now known as the "Year of the Pitcher."
On this particular day, Stottlemyre hit an inside-the-park, grand slam.
It was Stottlemyre's second home run of the season and the second grand slam by an American League pitcher that season.
Camilo Pascual of the Twins hit one in April against the Indians. Don Larsen and Spud Chandler were other Yankees' pitchers who hit grand slams, but their home runs, like Pascual's, left the park.
The trend of decreasing offense led to the abomination known as the designated hitter. After the 1972 season, it became a rarity to see an American League pitcher bat.
With the passage of time, most minor leagues have adopted the designated hitter rule, and today, the National League and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League are the most prominent leagues in which one can watch real baseball.
Bases Full of Yankees
With the Yankees leading, 2-1, Joe Pepitone drew a walk to open the fifth inning.
Clete Boyer, batting seventh, bunted, but the ball eluded pitcher Bill Monbouquette, Boyer beat it out for single, and Pepitone moved to second.
Roger Repoz walked to load the bases, bringing up Stottlemyre with nobody out.
Monbouquette fired a high fast ball to his Yankee counterpart.
Mel drilled the ball into left center field, between left fielder Carl Yastrzemski and center fielder Jim Gosger, both of whom were playing shallow. The ball rolled to the bleacher wall in deepest center field as the bases cleared.
When Stottlemyre reached third, Yaz was picking up the ball.
Third base coach Frank Crosetti waved Stottlemyre home. The surprised, winded pitcher rounded third and continued his journey.
Mel slid into home plate as the relay arrived, but the ball scooted past catcher Bob Tillman and the pitcher had an inside-the-park grand slam.
Finish the Game
Of course, Stottlemyre was exhausted, but the trend in those days was for pitchers to complete what they started.
Manager Johnny Keane said later he was concerned Stottlemyre would not be able to finish, but Mel reached back for a little extra, and despite giving up two runs in the eighth, pitched a complete game.
We all know what has happened to the number of complete games with the passage of time.
The final trend illustrated was the time of the game.
The Yankees and Red Sox scored nine runs between them.
The Yankees had seven hits, three walks, and struck out seven times. The Bosox had 10 hits, one walk, and struck out five times.
The game took one hour and fifty-nine minutes to play.
By JOSEPH DURSO. (1965, July 21). Stottlemyre's Grand Slam for Yanks Beats Red Sox, 6-3 :BOMBERS' PITCHER GETS 10TH VICTORY. New York Times (1857-Current file),27. Retrieved February 13, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 96709280).
Designated Hitter Rule