Happy Birthday to southpaw Ken Kravec, who pitched for the White Sox from 1975 to 1980, and for the Cubs in 1981 and 1982. The first time I saw him pitch was on September 1, 1976 when the Indians were at Comiskey Park. Ken was pitching against Jim Bibby. The game was a real pitcher’s duel until the last inning. The Tribe was up one run (a solo homer by Ray Fosse) and in the top of the ninth, Ken gave up a leadoff walk to George Hendrick. Buddy Bell drove him home on a double. Then he walked Ron Pruitt. Frank Duffy hit a single to left, scoring Bell. Jorge Orta threw out Ron at third. With Duffy on second, Duane Kuiper grounded out to end the inning. I got to know Ken a little in 1977, when I went to spring training with the White Sox. Nice guy.
Happy Birthday to Buddy Bradford, an outfielder who played eleven seasons for the White Sox, Indians, Reds and Cardinals from 1966 to 1976, the same years that I played. I faced him for the first time during our rookie seasons, on October 1, 1966 at White Sox Park. Buddy was the leadoff hitter and started the game with an infield single to Mike Ferraro at third base. He singled again in the bottom of the sixth and scored off Jim Hicks’ hit. In all, he was 2-for-4 that first game, which the Yankees won, 5-3. The game I remember most was June 1, 1976, during my brief time with the Texas Rangers. We were at Comiskey Park and I entered the game in the bottom of the sixth in relief of Steve Hargan. We were ahead 5-3, with the bases loaded and two outs. Buddy was on third. Bill Stein singled to center, scoring Buddy; the inning ended when Juan Beniquez threw out Richie Coggins at home. I have up a leadoff Single to Pat Kelly in the seventh, but then retired Ralph Garr, Bucky Dent and Jorge Orta; our 5-4 lead was protected – for now. In the eighth, I gave up a leadoff double to Jim Spencer. Buddy hit a single to center, scoring Jim and tying the game at 5-5. That was it for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would pitch just twice more before my career would come to an end. But more importantly, the Rangers won 6-5 in the sixteenth inning off Lenny Randle’s RBI double.
One footnote to my last game with Buddy: After the Rangers won, the White Sox lodged a protest. The Rangers had used Bill Singer as the starting pitcher, and he had pitched 6 1/3 innings. After Singer left the game – and while the game was still going on – the Rangers announced that they had traded Bill, along with Mike Cubbage, Roy Smalley and Jim Gideon, to the Minnesota Twins for Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson. American League President Lee McPhail turned down Bill Veeck’s protest, saying that while using players after a trade has been agreed to but before it takes effect is permissible, it should be avoided. This trade came four days after my own trade to the Rangers; that’s how this future Hall of Famer and I became teammates, albeit just for a few weeks.
Happy Birthday to Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, one of the greatest closers in the history of baseball. I never got to play with Goose on the Yankees, and as a starting pitcher that was my loss. No disrespect to Lindy McDaniel, but history would be treating me just a little better if I had Goose on my side. The guy was incredible. Goose’s rookie year was Sparky Lyle’s first in pinstripes. They went up against each other on two consecutive days.
Goose’s first game against the Yankees was during his rookie season of 1972. The Yankees were in Chicago and this was the first time Goose was facing us. The date was June 3, 1972. It started as a matchup between Stan Bahnsen, who had been dealt to Chicago in that crappy-for-us Rich McKinney deal, and Freddie Beene. This was one of the highest scoring games I can remember – we won 18-10. Goose entered the game at the start of the seventh, and the Yankees were losing 10-8. He was impressive – a 1-2-3 inning, getting Ron Bloomberg, Thurman Munson and Jerry Kenney out. And he was just as impressive in the eighth, getting Bernie Allen, Felipe Alou and Horace Clarke out – another 1-2-3 inning.
So Goose comes out for the top of the ninth, protecting a 10-8 lead. He gave up singles to the first three batters: Rusty Torres, Bobby Murcer and Roy White, who drove in Rusty. 10-9, runners at first and second, no outs, and Bloomie is up. Chuck Tanner pulled Goose for Steve Kealy, who gave up an RBI single. The score remained tied until the top of the 13th, when the Yankees had an extraordinary inning: Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer both hit a three-run homers: The other RBI’s came from two unlikely sources: Horace Clarke and Sparky, who drove in a run with a beautiful double to left. Sparky pitched five innings, holding the Chisox to just three hits for the win.
The next day, Goose came in to relieve Dave Lemonds in the sixth inning. The White Sox were ahead 2-1, but Lemonds got in some trouble. With runners on first and second, Roy White hit an RBI single to tie the game. Tanner pulled Lemonds and Goose got Felipe to hit into a double play. But with Bobby on third, Goose threw a wild pitch and the Yankees were now up 3-2. In the seventh, Goose faced an unusual offensive threat: Hal Lanier, who singled to right, stole second, and go to third of another wild pitch. Then Gene Michael laid down an absolutely beautiful bunt and Hal scored.
The White Sox came up in the bottom of the ninth, and the Yankees starter – some guy named Kekich – was three outs away from a complete game. With one out, he walked Bill Melton and then gave up a hit to Mike Andrews. With runners on first and second, Ralph Houk pulled Mike and brought in Sparky to close. Then Tanner put Jorge Orta in to run for Andrews, and pulled the next batter, shortstop Rich Morales, for a pinch hitter, Dick Allen. Allen belted a Home Run over the left field fence. The White Sox won, 5-3, and another rookie, Cy Acosta, got the win.
Goose got his first win against the Yankees on August 22, 1972, a 5-4 game in Chicago. The losing pitcher? That would be me.