Friday, April 20, 2012

Some Photo Sleuthing

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated tweeted this great gallery of Fenway Park photos. I was especially taken with this one:

I love old baseball photos, but I got to wondering what game this was. Thanks to the ol' internet it was actually very easy.

* This photograph was snapped by the great Neil Leifer, who also took this photo that you might be familiar with.

The caption says it's from 1961, so that was the major help. The scoreboard says the pitchers are #15 for Detroit and #36 for Boston. The payroll, roster and uniform pages for the Tigers and Red Sox show that the matchup was between Detroit's Don Mossi and Boston's Billy Muffett.

Muffett made only three starts against the Tigers in '61, but only one against Mossi. It was on May 20, 1961 in front of 10,085 fans. You can deduce from the scoreboard that it's the bottom of the third and Mossi is dealing a 1-1, two out pitch to #2, Chuck Schilling. Mossi had just walked his mound counterpart, but stranded Muffett at first when he struck out Schilling to end the inning.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth, when a Chico Fernandez error at short opened the door for three Boston runs. Detroit evened the game in the eighth when Jake Wood cracked a three-run homer to make it 3-3.

The game went to extra innings and in the bottom of the tenth Rip Repulski led off the frame with a pinch-hit single off Tigers reliever Hank Aguirre. After Tom Brewer came in to run for Repulski, Schilling bunted him over but still reached on a fielder's choice to put two on with nobody out. Carroll Hardy and Carl Yastrzemski missed chances to win it with a strikeout and lineout, respectively. Jackie Jensen came through with a two-out single to left to give Boston the walk-off win.

On the out of town scoreboard, it has the pitchers' uniform numbers next to the American League teams, with #27 Hal Brown going for Washington against #28 Joe McClain of Baltimore (a 4-3 O's win) and #23 Ralph Terry of the Yankees facing Cleveland's #39 Gary Bell (a 4-3 Tribe win).

However, for the National League games it has different numbers. Look at the soon-to-be-played Cardinals-Cubs game at Wrigley. It has 4 for St. Louis and 6 for Chicago. The Cards sent #39 Larry Jackson to the hill in that game against #37 Dick Ellsworth.

My hypothesis for this is based on my memory of old scorecards, including one I have from a 2000 game at Wrigley Field. There was an insert that came with the scorecard that had updated rosters for both clubs. Also on there was a numbered alphabetical listing of pitchers for the other teams around the league. It was each pitcher's corresponding number, not their uniform number, that was put on the hand-operated scoreboard.

Maybe they used that for the NL games, just a guess. If so, I don't know why they'd do it for the NL and not the AL. Maybe because back then with no interleague play, to Boston, the National League might as well have played on the moon.

Well seeing that picture sure got my mind going. Thank you Internet, for allowing me to act on my "Gee I wonder what game that is" thought. It's amazing that you can see an old photo and find out exactly when it was taken in a matter of minutes.

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