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Bored on the Fourth of July.

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People seem to like it when I live-blog stuff. So I’m going to choose a seasonally appropriate game from the Internet Archive’s collection of baseball broadcasts: July 4, 1965, Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox were two years away from glory and the Yanks were two years removed from it, so I expect this game to be pretty boring. But, hey, I’ve listened to American Top 40 shows from 1980, so not much scares me.

(I am not looking up the game results in advance, but if you want to, you can do so here.)

Here goes ….

# # # # #

No pregame show on this recording, alas; it starts with New York’s Bobby Richardson stepping into the batter’s box. The opposing pitchers are Boston’s Bill Monbouquette (6-9) and New York’s Jim Bouton (4-7 and possibly feeling the elbow pain that eventually pushed him to rely on the knuckleball).

Apparently Richardson led off the previous day’s game with a homer over the Green Monster in left field. He starts this one by settling for a single high off the wall. Tony Kubek is next, hitting .204, and he singles into center field. Three pitches, two hits. This is shaping up poorly.

The Yanks announcer, who I should recognize but don’t, says they scored 13 runs in the first game of the series and six yesterday. Tom Tresh flies to Felix Mantilla, who I always thought was a shortstop, but who the Sox had in center field this afternoon. (Quick check of Baseball-Reference: In 10 big-league seasons Mantilla played 326 games at second base, 180 at shortstop, 156 in the outfield, and 143 at third base. Go know.)

Elston Howard next, hitting .215, but with two homers in the past two days. The announcer runs through the Boston defensive alignment — and waitaminnit, Yaz isn’t in it. The announcer specifies that Boston outfielders Lenny Green and Gary Geiger are out injured but doesn’t explain where Yastrzemski is. Hmmm.

Billy Herman, the Sox manager, is playing regular first baseman Lee Thomas in left field and regular second baseman Mantilla in center. This really sounds like it’s gonna be a long game. Howard flies to Mantilla in center, who’s doing pretty well for a guy out of position.

Joe Pepitone (.267) draws a chorus of boos, then lines a double down the right-field line to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Hector Lopez (.234) up next. The Yanks will head to Detroit after the game for five games in four days. “A beautiful day, July 4, 1965,” the announcer intones, and I can almost feel it for a second …. and then Lopez grounds one through a hole for two more runs.

Roger Repoz next at .273 and the Red Sox bullpen is starting to stir. Monbo gets the first two pitches over for strikes, as he did on Lopez. Will he ever get the third out? Yes, swing and a miss, strike three.

Damn – no between-innings commercials! I was looking forward to hearing some vintage paeans to cool crisp Ballantine Beer.  Chuck Schilling leads off for Boston. The announcer mentions that Philadelphia’s Frank Thomas and Richie Allen brawled the other day; history has come down firmly on Allen’s side in that one. Schilling slices one down the right-field line that Lopez catches. 21-year-old Dalton Jones comes up; the announcer mentions the Sox are also playing two 20-year-olds, Tony Horton and Tony Conigliaro. Jones lines one at Lopez; two out.

Horton next; the announcer mentions his “chubby cheeks.” In the social media age, Horton will achieve YouTube infamy thanks to a 1970 clip of him batting against these same Yankees, in which he whiffs not once but twice against reliever Steve Hamilton’s eephus pitch, the “Folly Floater.” That, and other personal difficulties, are in the future at this point; in the 1965 here-and-now, Horton laces a single off the big green wall.

Mantilla is hitting next; he has a .324 average and is starting the upcoming All-Star Game at second base for the American League. He has 12 homers and 58 RBIs, leading the American League in the latter category. I couldn’t have told you that before I started listening. Definitely one of those guys you wouldn’t have guessed made an ASG (Scott Cooper might have been his Boston equivalent 20 years later.) Mantilla walks and Lee Thomas follows. Thomas loops a double between Repoz and Tresh in left-center and it’s 3-2 Yankees. Is this gonna be one of those five-hour Yankee-Red Sox specials like we get now?

The legendary Tony C, with 15 HRs and 36 ribbies, up next. Red Barber jumps in for a moment to say basically nothing about the Green Monster. Apparently there was a big story in Sports Illustrated a few weeks before about the Monster; wonder what it said that people didn’t already know. (Remember when SI was the biggest show in the national sports media business?) Hal “Porky” Reniff throwing in the Yankee pen. Tony C takes an unabashed swing and miss at a loopy curve and the side is retired.

Hey, a commercial! One of those jazzy numbers with a man and a woman trading lines about a cigarette that has “a real taste / that’s really there!” Turns out to be Camel. We pause for station identification, and it turns out we’re listening to WOKO Radio, Albany, New York. (There are a slew of Sixties Mets and Yankees games on the Internet Archive that were taped off their respective Albany radio outlets. A tip of the gin and tonic to the forward-looking dude or dame who made tape all those years ago and then kept it.)

Clete Boyer leads off by slapping a grounder between first and second for a base hit, running his hitting streak to 11 games. Bouton next hitting .107. How much you wanna bet he bunts? Whaddya know, he does — and successfully, too, on the first pitch.

Red Barber ducks in again with a holiday trivia question: How many places in the US is the flag flown 24 hours a day, and how many by custom and how many by law? This seems at first glance like the kind of weasel-question with little ultimate worth — the kind that doesn’t take into account lots of practicalities, like your neighbor who always flies it and will fly it until he keels over — but anyway.

Richardson grounds into a 5-3-6 double play — Jones fields his grounder and throws him out at first, and Horton fires back across the diamond to Sox shortstop Ed Bressoud covering third to get the lead runner trying to advance. Don’t hear those every day.

Red clarifies that the question does not apply to naval ships at sea; he says no. Boy, this question sounds dicier by the minute. Bressoud whacks a line drive between third and shortstop for a single. The announcer mentions the impending arrival of a shortstop hopeful named Rico Petrocelli. Wonder what happened to him?

Catcher Bob Tillman up next and the Red Sox have been “reeling and stumbling.” Tillman grounds to first and they get the force at second but not the double play. Monbo next hitting .094. Of course he tries to bunt, but unlike Bouton, he fouls it back. See, not everyone could lay down a perfect bunt in the old days. Monbo gets one down on the next pitch. Schilling grounds to Kubek; his throw to first is too late but Pepitone fires home to retire Tillman trying to sneak across with the run. The ol’ 6-3-2 putout.

Red is back. He explains that he was visiting Mount Suribachi on a USO tour and wondered where the US flag flies 24 hours a day. During a recent trip to Baltimore, he adds, he learned that the flag flies 24 hours a day at Fort McHenry and also at the “Flag House” where the first flag was (allegedly) made. He goes on to say that the flag flies at the Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery; over Congress; over the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor; a dormitory at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that was used as a hospital during the Civil War; the town square in Taos, New Mexico; and at the war memorial in Worcester (he pronounces it “WOO-ster”), Massachusetts. In some of these places it’s a law; in others a custom. This is both a more interesting answer than I expected, and still totally unfulfilling — it smacks of casual research, and there’s gotta be more places than that.

Top of the third, Yanks 3-2, and I think the mystery announcer is Jerry Coleman. Kubek starts the third with still another single to right. Six hits off Monbouquette already. Coleman tells us Monbo is throwing more breaking balls than usual today. Tresh flies to Tony C in right, Howard strikes out, Pepitone … well, the audio falls into a pit at this point, but Pepi flies somewhere in the outfield and the Sox escape unscathed.

Red Barber takes over, pointing out that “no lead is safe.” He becomes difficult to understand — sounds like the leadoff hitter made an out — but I’m dedicated to my readers and I stay with it. The second out is a fly to right. Red mentions that the Yankees can reach .500 if they win that day, if I understand him correctly. If the Yanks win in Detroit and Minnesota, they’re back in it, he says. (They won’t.) Third out a routine fly to right.

Red mentions at the top of the fourth that the next portion of the game will be sponsored by Ballantine Beer. This game is really falling into a quagmire of mush; Red is difficult to understand. Red bemoans that the issue of The Sporting News he just got is already out of date because the teams have been moving around so much since it was published.

I realize that I don’t think I’ve heard anyone explain where Mickey Mantle is and why he’s not playing. Perhaps it fell into the mush.

Fourth inning and Thomas leads off with a double and Tony C follows with a home run that lights up the ballpark and gives the Sox a 4-3 lead. The roar for the local boy is rousing and full-throated; Red says the Sox fans are “in a sanguinary mood.” Johnny Keane yanks Bouton for Hal Reniff.

Barber and Coleman remind the Yankee faithful back in Albany that no lead is safe in Fenway Park and the Yanks can still rally. Coleman explains that the Monster has a screen on top to protect the city street and the stores that sit just on the other side of it. As it happens I was just on that street (Lansdowne Street) yesterday to drink IPA at a microbrewery. Small world.

Red rattles off a lengthy list of the newspaper reporters who travel with the Yankees. Makes one wonder how many New York reporters will be at Fenway for the next Sox-Yanks series. Maybe one-quarter as many as in 1965?

“In all the major league towns, if you had to pick one for summer weather, this would be it,” Red enthuses. The last two days in the Boston area it has been rainy and has struggled to get past 60 degrees. So be it; the old climate normal does not apply, anyway. Monbo walks and Schilling singles in the bottom of the fourth (we’re still in the damn bottom of the fourth, BTW.)

Jones “almost cuts the third-base coach’s head off” with a foul liner. (The third-base coach is Billy Gardner, who, spared, goes on to unsuccessfully manage the Minnesota Twins in the days of my childhood, fifteen-plus years later.) Jones strikes out to end the fourth.

Red, who I am warming to even as I struggle to understand him, tells us that major-league players, managers and coaches care little about averages. Instead they want to know who’s hot right now — who hit yesterday, who’s hitting today. Interesting enough insight. He then welcomes the listeners who are listening on car radios, coming in from the back yard, or coming in off the beach, to catch up with the Yanks. Stylish touch. Red also teases a column by Joe Durso in that day’s New York Times about the Yankees’ Pedro Ramos and his “Cuban palmball,” freighting every word with a gentle touch of something; perhaps Ramos was accused of loading up. Plus ca change.

Yanks go one-two-three in the top of the fifth – now an official ballgame. Red hands over to Joe Garagiola in the bottom half. (Rather a remarkable group of announcers worked for the Yanks in those days.) Garagiola discusses the Cuban palmball further, and it is indeed a rumored spitball. Sox go in order in the bottom of the fifth.

Garagiola teases Old-Timers Day at the Stadium on July 31, including Guy Lombardo and his orchestra. I think my grandpa went to one or two of those Old-Timers Days back in the day, as he left the programs behind. Garagiola teases that the Yankees ticket office is open tomorrow, and suggests the audience stop by to pick up their ducats. No Ticketmaster then. Musta been nice.

Yay! In the top of the sixth the audio perks up again. Let’s see if the game does also. Gil Blanco begins to throw for the Yankees; he appeared in only 17 games that season and only 28 lifetime. Wonder if he makes it in? Pepitone singles. Monbouquette, remarkably, is still in there battling for the Sox. A 5-4-3 double play squashes the Yanks’ hopes in the sixth.

Another commercial and it’s so tooth-achingly Sixties, with swinging horns and orchestra and a female narrator who bursts out singing. You can practically see her satin dress. It’s one of those Winston commercials; they taste good like a cigarette should. No thanks, ma’am, I like my lungs like they are.

Tony C leads off the sixth to a round of hearty cheers. A local boy, he was, and crazy gifted. He tries to bunt on strike one, based on God knows what absurd logic, then strikes out. There’s a whimsical downward lilt, an existential everyman musing, to the end of Garagiola’s sentences when he says things like, “Seems like every time there’s a called strike they want a new ball.” This is not entirely the style of the rah-rah storyteller I thought he was.

Reniff gets another K; Tillman bounces a double into the right-field stands; and Monbo, allowed to bat, strikes out also. Pinch-hit for your starter? Nah, he’s only given you six innings of work.

(The next portion of this game will be brought to you by your Atlantic dealer. As in gas. I think that was Amoco in my childhood. I could be wrong.)

Top seven. Still 4-3 Sox. Garagiola still talking up the Stadium ticket office. Plenty of parking and lots of good games to choose from. Washington will be in town after the All-Star Game! Yup, the ’65 Senators sure were Murderers’ Row. Repoz drives one to the fence in the center-field triangle but it’s caught by noted center fielder Felix Mantilla for the out. Boyer doubles into the gap in left-center.

Wheels are turnin’: Bob Tiefenauer is throwing for New York (oh, he’s a knuckleballer – please let him come in and wreak havoc!); Dick Radatz is up in the Sox pen as well; and pinch-hitter Ray Barker is coming up to hit for Reniff. God, this Yankees team was ordinary. Barker flies to Mantilla in center, who gets a bad break on the ball but recovers for the out. Richardson strikes out to end the seventh. 

Another jazzy-cute man-woman vocal duet: “Atlantic keeps your car on the go.” Atlantic gas makes your weekend extra magic, or something like that. Take a bow, Don Draper.

Yay again! Tiefenauer comes in in the bottom of the seventh. He pitched for three teams in 1965 and made 10 appearances with the Yankees; he was 35 at the time. He didn’t pitch a substantial big-league season until he was 32. Gotta love guys like that.

Garagiola hands over to Phil Rizzuto — how many famous announcers did the Yankees have under contract that year? I’m not the biggest Scooter fan but what the hell, I’ve come this far.

Rizzuto says this is Tiefenauer’s ninth appearance with the Yanks so his time there must have been running short. Scooter gives the attendance –17,291 — which seems to me to be pretty poor for a beautiful Fourth of July. Of course, the ’65 Red Sox didn’t give anybody a lot of reason to come out to the yard.

Rizzuto mentions that the Yanks are outhitting the Sox 9-8. Home plate umpire John Rice gets hit by two fouls by two hitters, one off the mask, one off the leg. Ouch. Horton doubles off Tiefenauer to tie the hit count at nine apiece. Ramos gets up in the Yankee pen; Rizzuto does not further expound on his palmball. Mantilla singles to left off the elderly knuckleballer. Horton beats the throw to the plate and the Sox are up 5-3. Maybe this explains why Tiefenauer headed out of the Big Apple not too long after. Pepitone leans into the dugout to snare a foul pop fly from Thomas to end the inning. Six more outs for the Sox. Can they hold it?

Monbo gets one out in the eighth, then gives up his tenth hit, a single to Tresh. I wonder how many starters in 2021 will give up ten hits in a game. Radatz up again in the Sox pen, Howard at the plate. He misses a home run by inches to deep left-center, setting Rizzuto off at full honk — but Tresh, somehow, fails to advance past second, apparently because he assumed it was a homer and took his time.

Mound visit! Radatz comes in to replace Monbouquette, who has only given up eleven hits. It sounds like the fans are booing but it’s tough to tell. His ERA is 5.56 – having an off-year, Rizzuto says, which must be why people are booing him before he’s even thrown a pitch. Radatz’s first pitch brushes Pepitone back; a pitch later Pepitone pops up to second base for the out. The sun is setting through my basement windows and it looks really nice. I could almost convince myself it’s 85 degrees outside rather than 55.

Lopez laces a ball directly at Lee Thomas in left field, who catches it. Yastrzemski who? Sox stave off a threat and hold a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Another jazzy Winston ad with male and female singers duetting. Were all ads following that cutesy formula in 1965?

Ross Moschitto goes out to play right field. He appeared in 96 games as a 20-year-old rookie that year but had only 27 at-bats — one of the weirder lines you’ll see. (Most of his appearances came as a late-inning defensive sub or a pinch-runner, if memory serves.) He made 14 more appearances in 1967 and then was done. Tiefenauer still on the mound. Line drive to right field – I’ve forgotten who’s even hitting — and “MOSCHITTO MAKES A BEAUTIFUL PLAY,” Rizzuto enthuses. A running one-handed catch low to the ground, apparently, and Moschitto ran almost to first base on the way in. Good job, rook.

Tillman pokes a base hit to center, right over second base. Radatz hits for himself, again to a chorus of boos, his very good years of the recent past apparently forgotten. Radatz watches a knuckler for strike three. We head to the ninth.

Radatz “is firing those little BBs up to the plate,” Scooter says as he faces his first hitter. He switches from sidearm to overhand and gets the third strike. Boyer up now and flies to left for the second out. Jake Gibbs, best remembered as the Yankee catcher Thurman Munson metaphorically pushed aside, comes up to bat for Tiefenauer. Radatz gets him on a high fastball too to clinch the 5-3 win for Boston.

Boy, that was boring as hell. Happy Fourth of July!


One response »

  1. Brian L Rostron

    If you’re really bored, then you can research the whole flag thing. Flag House Square in Baltimore kind of seems like the outlier –


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