Happy Birthday to Vida Blue, a six-time All-Star who pitched in the major leagues for seventeen years and won the American League Cy Young and MVP in 1971. He was an amazing southpaw and I always enjoyed watching him pitch – except when he was up against me. I remember the first time I saw him. It was July 29, 1969 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. This was his second major league game and he was starting against Stan Bahnsen. He pitched perfect baseball for the first three innings. He gave up a double to Bill Robinson in the fourth and a single to Bobby Murcer in the fifth, but otherwise the Yankees were having trouble hitting this guy. He gave up two hits and two runs in the sixth, and no hits in the seventh. In the eighth, Vida walked Robinson and then have up a Home Run to Joe Pepitone. That put the Yankees ahead, 4-3. The A’s came back in the eighth, with a single by Rick Monday, a triple by Ramon Webster and a single by Bob Johnson to take a 6-4 lead.
I remember another game during the summer of 1971, a real pitcher’s duel between Vida and Mel Stottlemyre. Both of them pitched complete games. Vida had ten strikeouts, Mel pitched a three-hitter. The Yankees scored one run in the first, off a single by Thurman Munson and a double by Roy White; Tugboat scored on a ground out by Felipe Alou, and the Yankees won it 1-0.
Happy Birthday to George Lauzerique, who pitched for the A’s and the Brewers from 1967 to 1970. George had some cache because he had pitched a perfect game in the minor leagues. The first time I saw him pitch was on September 29, 1967 – his third major league game and his first at Yankee Stadium. It was the second game of a Twi-Night doubleheader on a Friday night, the last weekend of the season. I started for the Yankees and George was the starting pitcher for the Kansas City Athletics. In the top of the second, Joe Rudi and Rick Monday each hit grounders to me, which I threw to Mike Hegan to make the outs. But along the way, I hurt my ankle and had to leave the game after I walked Sal Bando. That was disappointing, especially because it was my game of the season and you hate to end on that kind of note. Fred Talbot came in relief and pitched beautifully, giving up just four hits. George was hugely impressive. He held the Yankees to five hits in seven innings, struck out five, and gave up just one run – a homer to Billy Bryan. It was an outstanding performance.