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And That Happened: Classic!

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Note: as a result of the suspension of the baseball season due to the coronavirus pandemic, we now bring you a special “Classic” version of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on the HardballTalk pamphlet on April 12, 1967. Which, because it was mailed to subscribers, was not read by anyone until at least April 14.

  

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Orioles 6, Twins 3: Neither Dave McNally nor Jim Kaat had much in the tank on Opening Day, with both pitchers hitting the showers before the close of the fifth inning. It’s disgraceful for starting pitchers to come out of a game so early. Players today are getting soft, dear readers. What’s next? Training wheels? A series of pitchers beginning games, each taking a bite-sized portion of the laboring oar, and none of them figuring in the final decision? Where does it end? Games featuring four, five or even — dare I say it? — six pitchers making an appearance? Heaven forfend. As it was, this contest took an appalling two hours and thirty-two minutes due to all of the pitching changes. I hope someone checked in on managers Hank Bauer and Sam Mele after it was all done, because that was a LOT of walking for those two men.

As for the offense, Brooks Robinson hit a home run in the first inning right after Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson knocked in runs with a double and a single, respectively, to give the birds a 4-0 lead that they’d never surrender.

I’d also like to make a note of the attendance: 39,812 filled Memorial Stadium. That was more, I would like to remind my long-haired readers, than showed up to any of those so-called “Be-Ins,” they’ve been having around the country lately. Folks, I said it before and I’ll say it again: the “hippie” movement is going nowhere and these nogoodnik kids will be getting shaves and haircuts and will be looking for good, solid jobs before Labor Day rolls around. They’ll end up calling this “The Summer of Work,” I guarantee it.

Angels 4, Tigers 2: California starter George Brunet spun eight innings of shutout ball. He fits right in on this Angels club: he’s completely well-adjusted and wears underwear at all times. I hope he never changes at all, for it’d be a shame if he were remembered in any other way. Of course, at age 31 he’s getting up there in years. It’s hard to imagine him pitching long enough to be remembered regardless. He strikes me as the sort of fella who will ease nicely into retirement — maybe back to his home in upper Michigan — before there’s any gray on that dome of his.

Athletics 4, Indians 3: It sure looks like young Sam McDowell’s best years are behind him. A big star in 1965, he was hurt a lot last year and looked completely ineffective at Municipal Stadium yesterday, walking six in only five innings of work. It’s amazing how sudden a promising career can be derailed. “Sudden Sam” McDowell, they’ll call him someday, referring to how quickly he pitched his way out of the league.

In this he reminds me much of that boxer, Cassius Clay, who had some good years but now — due to his wrongheaded refusal to go fight for Uncle Sam against the commies in Vietnam — is throwing his career away. No doubt he was listening to that Martin Luther King character, who just last week denounced America’s involvement in the war during a speech. He too will no doubt be forgotten by history, just like McDowell and Clay, all because he took so unpopular a stance.

Cubs 4, Phillies 2: Fergie Jenkins went the distance, outdueling Jim Bunning with a two-run, six-hit complete game. Around 16,000 fans made it out to Wrigley Field for Opening Day. Sixteen. Thousand.

What a crowd!

That’s 9,000 more than last year’s per game average! If they keep that up they may even outdraw the White Sox one day. I know that seems like a pipe dream — the South Siders have been the bigger draw in Chicago for a good decade now — but I feel like people would take to the weak sisters of the Windy City if someone were to give ’em a chance. Always root for the underdog, that’s what I say, and when it comes to Chicago baseball, the Cubs are definitely that.

Astros 6, Braves 1: Mike Cuellar allowed one run over nine. He was backed by two driven in by Aaron Pointer and one RBI from Eddie Matthews, who the Braves traded to Houston back in December. They’re gonna regret trading a legendary player like Matthews, I tell you what. He has a lot of homers left in the tank, at least if I’m any judge of baseball talent.

Pirates 6, Mets 3: Jesse Gonder, Matty Alou, Roberto Clemente, Maury Wills, and Bill Mazeroski each drove in runs for the Bucs. Meanwhile, former Pirate Don Cardwell got the start for the Mets against his old mates and his defense certainly did him no favors, committing five errors in the ugly loss. Even worse, this boner-prone crew will be playing behind some wet-behind-the-ears rookie making his big league debut in New York’s second game of the season tomorrow night. God help George Thomas Seaver. Of all of the teams he could come up with, why did it have to be the Mets? They’ll chew him up and spit him out, ruining his career before it even begins. I’d bet my life on it.

Cardinals 6, Giants 0: Bob Gibson tossed a shutout, striking out 13 Giants batters. Willies Mays and McCovey combined to go 0-for-8 with 4Ks alone. Hoot’s opponent — Juan Marichal — gave up six runs on 14 hits in seven innings. Not a banner day for The Dominican Dandy.

Your reporter was, it so happens, lucky enough to be in St. Louis for this game, and he’s putting the finishing touches on these encapsulations a few hours after game time. The evening has been lovely, actually, as I am spending it in the company of two of the young clubhouse attendants who had accompanied they Giants from San Francisco. My earlier negative comments about the “hippies” notwithstanding, I should note that each of these gentlemen are amiable and kind, even if they are of the long-haired persuasion.

Indeed, I’m typing this missive on my portable Smith Corona from a tavern near the ballpark in their company. They’re such fine young lads. They have even offered to purchase and bring me my drinks. Ah, here they come back with another now.

So, where was I? Ah, yes, Bob Gibson and his dominance over the GGGgggggggg . . . I . . um . . . nnnnnnnnwhhhaaaaa . . . ~~~waves of the soft spring wind . . . waves of the soft spring wind . . . . love’s flood tide craves nectar day and night as the blue lotus floooattts awwwaaayyy, flooooooaaats awwaaayyyy . . . On the wall  . . . the long wall hung a tall mirror . . . distorted view, see-through baby blue . . . I diiiig iiiiit . . .~~~

Ah! God! Where was I? Ye Gods, It’s morning! Why is my face painted half blue and half yellow! Why do I feel the need to get father and father out there?! It’s my happening and it freaks me out!

-30-

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.