X

New York Yankees: What a Wonderful Labor Day Present

Harold FriendChief Writer IFebruary 23, 2010

NEW YORK - JULY 9:  Hank Bauer waves to the fans during the New York Yankees 59th annual old-timers' day before the start of the Yankees game against the Cleveland Indians on July 9, 2005 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Indians defeated the Yankees 8-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Glen Bheck was so happy that he couldn't believe it.

At the end of play on Sept. 5, 1966, the New York Yankees were eliminated from the pennant race. It was the earliest this wonderful event had occurred since 1925.

Sixth-Place Yankees

I suffered so much. Oh, how much I suffered. I started watching baseball in the early 1950s, and almost invariably, the New York Yankees won, or at least were in, the World Series.

Finally, after winning five consecutive pennants, but only two World Championships, the Yankees finished sixth in 1965.

Those of us who didn't want the Yankees to win finally received some satisfaction, but it was nothing like what happened in 1966.

The Yankees were an old team. They were an often-injured team.

Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were finished. The pitching staff put up decent numbers because it was an era in which pitching dominated, but only Mel Stottlemyre was in the same class as the better Yankees' hurlers.

Baltimore Doubleheader

On Sept. 5, the eighth-place Yankees were in Baltimore to play a Labor Day double header against the league-leading Baltimore Orioles, who led the runner-up Detroit Tigers by nine-and-one-half games.

The Yankees trailed the Birds by 24 and one-half lengths.

To add a little insult to injury, Hank Bauer, who helped the Yankees win nine pennants and seven World Championships, managed the Orioles.

Before a crowd of 36,832 fans at Memorial Stadium, the home team beat the Yankees in the first game to eliminate them from a pennant race they had never been in. For good measure, the Orioles also won the nightcap.

The 1925 New York Yankees finished seventh, winning only 69 games while losing 85, in the eight team American League.  After the double defeat, the 1966 Yankees were 62-79 in the 10-team league.

The run that ended the Yankees' misery scored when Paul Blair lashed a line drive single to drive in Frank Robinson from second base in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Fritz Peterson went the distance and was charged with the loss. Eddie Fisher (not Debbie Reynolds' and then Elizabeth Taylor's husband) had retired the Yankees in their half of the ninth to earn the victory.



The Yankees' Lineup Tells the Story

SS. Horace Clarke (.266 .324 .381)
2B. Bobby Richardson (.251 .280 .330)
LF. Tom Tresh (.233 .341 .421)
1B. Joe Pepitone (.255 .290 .463)
RF. Roger Maris (.233 .307 .382)
CF. Steve Whitaker (.246 .306 .491)
C. Elston Howard (.256 .317 .356)
3B. Clete Boyer (.240 .303 .384)

Things got even better (worse for the Yankees) after they were eliminated.

They finished with a 70-89 record, which was the worst in the American League. The mighty New York Yankees, the most successful franchise in sports history, finished dead last.

It was a season that I savor even today.



References:

By LLOYD E. MILLEGAN Special to The New York Times . (1966, September 6). Yanks Lose 2 to Orioles and Drop From Race at Earliest Date Since 1925: BALTIMORE SCORES 5-4, 7-4 VICTORIES Blair Bats In Winning Tally in Ninth of Opener 4-Run 5th Clinches Finale. New York Times (1923-Current file), 86s. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 82510311).

Retrosheet

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.