I remember Mike Reinbach, who played in a dozen games for the Orioles in 1974. The game we played in together was an extraordinary one. It was April 27, 1974, the first game of a Sunday afternoon double header at Memorial Stadium. Jim Palmer was pitching against his former teammate, Pat Dobson. The Yankees had come back from a four run deficit to tie the game, 4-4 in the eighth inning. In the top of the twelfth, Jim (who was still in the game) gave up a leadoff Home Run to Craig Nettles. Baltimore tied it up in the bottom of the twelfth when Tommy Davis hit a double, driving in Richie Coggins. Doyle Alexander retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the top of the thirteenth. In the bottom of the thirteenth, Tom Buskey gave up a leadoff single to Earl Williams and walked Mark Belanger. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Bill Virdon brought me in to pitch. The batter was Mike Reinbach, who singled to center – a walk-off RBI the only time I ever faced him. I’m told he had a tough life after playing a few years in Japan, and for reasons that were never determined, he drove his car off a cliff in 1989, at age 39. Today would have been his 66th birthday.
I am celebrating an important anniversary today: 47 years ago today, I hit my first and only Triple as a Major League Baseball player. As a guy with a .159 career average, I will never forget that particular extra base hit. The Yankees were playing the White Sox in my old hometown of Chicago, and I was pitching against Gary Peters. We were both awful teams: the Yankees were in 8th place and the Chisox were in 9th. I was leading off the top of the third, and we were down one run. I had walked Buddy Bradford, who scored when Tim Cullen hit a grounder to Tom Tresh at shortstop and threw the ball to First Baseman Mickey Mantle, who missed it. Mickey was a magnificent player and one of the most wonderful men I ever played with, but this was the final season of his extraordinary career and he could no longer run. By the time he got to the ball, Buddy has scored. Cullen had a 2-1 count on me and he threw me a fastball that I clobbered (maybe clobber is an exaggeration, but I’m 73-years-old and it’s my story) to a beautiful spot between Bradford in center and Walt Williams in right. No neck made an incredible throw but I made it to third, albeit narrowly –Sandy Alomar, the White Sox Third Baseman, was a little surprised by that. Here’s the part my teammates enjoyed most: Horace Clarke tried to sacrifice with a fly ball to Tommy Davis in Left Field. Tommy caught the ball and threw it home, and Duane Josephson tagged me a little before I reached home plate. I was out. But that, my friends, is the historic story of my one and only Triple – but not the only time I got thrown out at the plate. More importantly, I think I pitched well: 8 2/3 innings, and the Yankees won 5-4.
(Quick note: I enjoyed playing with No Neck for a brief time when he joined the Yankees in 1974, and I have always been disappointed that I never got to play alongside Sandy, who came to New York shortly after the Yankees traded me to Cleveland.)