There are some plays in World Series history where a fielding miscue proves costly. There are other plays in the Fall Classic where a baserunner makes a key error. On still other occasions, a play will have the umpire blow the call. These things are all part of the game, even in the World Series.
But once there was a World Series play that featured all the above elements. The base runner, fielder and umpire all screwed up at once.
It happened 15,000 days ago during Game One of the 1970 World Series between the Reds and Orioles. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the score was 3-3, but the Reds threatened to take the lead. With one out, Bernie Carbo walked and scampered to third on teammate Tommy Helms’ single to center.
With runners on the corners, only one out and the number eight hitter in the order due up, Cincinnati’s rookie manager Sparky Anderson called on backup Ty Cline to pinch-hit. Cline hit a high chopper in front of the plate—and that’s when the most fouled-up moment in World Series history began.
Umpire Ken Burkhart moved in front of the plate in case he needed to make a fair/foul call. Orioles catcherEllie Hendricks fielded the ball, snatching it with his bare hand. Meanwhile, Carbo, thinking the ball would get away from Hendricks, charged down the line hoping to score the go-ahead run.
As it happened, Carbo ran past Burkhart, and tried to slide past Hendricks to reach the plate. Hendricks reached out and touched Carbo with his glove. There’s a problem, though. Hendricks didn’t have the ball in the glove. It was still in his bare hand, which never touched Carbo.
For his part, Carbo didn’t know this and tried to slide around Hendricks. Carbo was too elusive for his own good. Not only did he miss the tag, but also he missed the plate. He came close, but he missed it. So we have a runner sliding past the plate to evade the tag from a mitt without the ball. That’s points off for the fielder and baserunner.
And umpire Burkhart? Well, when we last left him, Carbo has passed him by a little up the base line. The rest of the play—which occurred in virtually no time at all—happened behind Burkhart’s back. He was just finishing turning around to see the dust kick up from Carbo’s slide and Hendricks sprawled out in the general area trying to tag him. Burkhart was the closest man to the play, but he didn’t see any of it.
But that wasn’t going to stop him from making the call, and he declared Carbo out. In truth, the right call would be no call. At that point, Carbo had neither touched the plate nor been tagged. But there was no way for Burkhart to know that, and who could possibly guess that? Besides, the aftermath looked like Hendricks had tagged Carbo while Carbo tried to score, so that was the call.
In the ensuing argument, Carbo stepped on the plate, meaning he was safe, but it was to no avail. Carbo technically has an argument on his behalf, but no one came off looking good there. Cincinnati didn’t score that inning, and went on to lose, 4-3. The Reds would lose the World Series in five games.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their “day-versaries” and anniversaries today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
2,000 days since the Astros’ all-time cumulative record falls to .500 (3,519-3,519). They have been over .500 for just a month, but will fall below it in their next game, and have been under it ever since.
2,000 days since Andy Pettitte ties a personal high with a Game Score of 87. His line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 7 K.
3,000 days since Frank Thomas belts the third of his career four walk-off home runs. It’s been only a month since the second one.
3,000 days since a huge fight occurs in the California League. After a beaning, the batter charges the mound with the bat—resulting in a felony assault and a suspension for the rest of the season. The ensuing melee results in 17 other suspensions.
4,000 days since Bud Selig tells a U.S. Senate panel that it’s time for “sweeping changes” in the game’s economic makeup.
6,000 days since the 1995 amateur draft. Among the players taken who would sign: Darin Erstad by the Angels; Jose Cruz, Jr. by the Mariners; Kerry Wood by the Cubs; Todd Helton by the Rockies; Geoff Jenkins by the Brewers; Matt Morris by the Cardinals; Mark Redman, and Doug Mientkiewicz by the Twins; Roy Halladay by the Blue Jays; Michael Barrett, and Brian Schneider by the Expos; Joe Nathan, and Russ Ortiz by the Giants, A.J. Burnett by the Mets; Mike Lowell by the Yankees; Carlos Beltran by the Royals; Sean Casey by the Indians; Brett Tomko by the Reds; Bronson Arroyo by the Pirates; Ryan Dempster by the Rangers; and Randy Winn by the Marlins.
Among those drafted but not signed include: J.J. Putz by the White Sox; Brad Wilkerson by the Dodgers; Juan Pierre by the Mariners; Aaron Rowand by the Mets; Brad Lidge by the Giants; Casey Blake by the Yankees; and Mark Mulder by the Tigers.
7,000 days since the Blue Jays get 10 consecutive hits against the Twins en route to a 16-5 win.
7,000 days since Roberto Kelly of the Yankees sets a new record by reaching base via catcher’s interference for the seventh time in one season.
10,000 days since Reggie Jackson’s best WPA day. He goes 2-for-4 with two runs, a triple, a homer, an intentional walk, two runs, and three RBIs in a 7-6 Angels win over the Blue Jays. His WPA: 0.800.
15,000 days since former Deadball era pitcher Lefty Leifield dies.
15,000 days since Brooks Robinson makes a great backhanded grab on a hard grounder down the third base line in Game One of the 1970 World Series. He tosses May out. Yes, it’s the same game as the Burkhart call.
30,000 days since former Hall of Famer Ray Schalk plays in his last game.
50,000 days since the birth of pitcher Tully Sparks.
1873 Hall of Fame infielder Bobby Wallace is born.
1877 Tommy Leach, infielder interviewed for The Glory of Their Times, is born.
1884 Tony Mullane, star pitcher, violates oral agreement with the St. Louis by signing a $5,000 contract with Cincinnati. The AA will respond by suspending him for all of 1885.
1887 Paul Hines, star outfielder in his prime, is sold by Washington to Indianapolis to $5,000.
1889 The Players’ Brotherhood issues a manifesto claiming that the players are bought and sold like sheep rather than American citizens.
1891 Charlie Comiskey, sick of dealing with St. Louis owner Chris von der Ahe, signs with the Reds to serve as their manager.
1907 Charles Ebbets, ex-Dodgers office boy, becomes the team’s major stockholder thanks to borrowed money.
1921 Levi Meyerle, star hitter in the 1870s, dies at age 72.
1926 Jack Fournier is released by the Dodgers.
1929 The White Sox purchase Smead Jolley, one of the worst-fielding outfielders of all-time, from the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco’s team.
1929 The Giants sign free agent Dave Bancroft.
1930 Dick Groat is born.
1933 Cal Hubbard becomes head of the AL umpires.
1933 Tito Francona, major league ballplayer and father of the former Red Sox manager, is born.
1948 Jake Powell, a former outfielder, kills himself with a firearm in a Washington, D.C\. police station.
1950 Pete Alexander, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, dies.
1954 The family of Connie Mack sells the A’s to 47-year-old businessman Arnold Johnson for $604,000.
1955 Cy Young dies.
1957 The lords of baseball make a change to the balk rule. The batter can take the balk or accept the outcome of the pitch if he’d rather do so.
1959 Lefty Williams, Black Sox who lost three games in the tainted 1919 World Series, dies.
1964 CBS purchases 80 percent of the Yankee from Dan Topping and Del Webb for $11.2 million.
1965 Al Lopez resigns as White Sox manager.
1966 Maury Wills, citing knee problems, leaves the Dodgers’ tour of Japan. He’ll be traded to the Pirates next month.
1967 Eric Karros, first baseman, is born.
1968 Carlos Baerga, infielder, is born.
1968 Vern Stephens, star infielder in his day, dies.
1976 Baseball holds its first ever free agent reentry draft.
1980 Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh retires.
1981 The Reds trade Ken Griffey Sr. to the Yankees.
1981 The Phillies hire Pat Corrales as their manager.
1985 The Padres sign amateur free agent Carlos Baerga on his 17th birthday.
1996 The Angels hire Terry Collins as their new manager.
1999 Larry Dolan agrees to purchase the Indians for $320 million from Richard Jacobs, pending league approval.
1999 The Brewers name Davey Lopes as their new manager.
2001 In Game Seven of the World Series, the Diamondbacks pull off the upset, defeating the Yankees, 3-2, on a two-run rally in the ninth inning against uber-closer Mariano Rivera.
2003 The Reds release Ryan Dempster.
2003 Miami-Dade County Commissioners approve a plan committing $73 million in tax money to the new Marlins ballpark.
2004 Charlie Manuel is hired as the Phillies manager.
2010 Sparky Anderson dies.