On this Day in 1970 - Tom Seaver strikes out 19 Padres, including the last ten in succession, in winning 2-1 for the Mets. To date, only Steve Carlton has struck out this many in a game in the twentieth century. No one had ever struck out ten in a row.
Gessler Clinic Field
Remember playing Rock’em - Sock’em Robots as a kid. Maybe, you bought that boxing game set for your own kids and battled it out with them. The blue and red fighters would stand toe to toe in the ring and slug it out, until zap, one fighter’s head would spring back, indicating who won the fight. That’s what happened in today’s American League game, we had a Rock'em - Sock'em game.
Team Nick Matta, (Visitors, Red Robot); Rivera, Gazarek, Coffman, D’Hern, Witmer, Torrez, Jacobson, Herb O, Lopez and Matta.
Took on team Freddie Gonzalez, (Home, Blue Robot); Dampier, Gonzalez, Butler, Smith, King, S. Hill, Laffoon, Davis, M. Gonzalez, DeRidder and Wells.
Forget about the body shots, these teams would try and knock the other teams block off, in a friendly sort of way, of course.
To open up the game, team Matta charged into the center of the ring and threw a few haymakers; they scored 3 runs in the first inning. The first five batters, Rivera, Gazarek, Coffman, D’Hern, Witmer all singled, or walked, to set up a big inning. Team Gonzalez countered with a few jabs and scored one run, in their half of the inning.
The Visiting, Red Robot was shut out in the 2nd inning. However, the Blue Robot came out in the bottom of the round, I mean inning, looking like Joe Lewis, (a nice reference for our Detroit friends). The Home team scored four runs, in the 2nd, to take the lead. Laffoon, Davis, M. Gonzalez and Wells all had a nice inning with the bat. The big rally ended quickly when Freddie Dampier, who smacked a triple deep into the right field corner, was thrown out at the plate by Donny Witmer, for the 2nd out of the inning. The next batter, F. Gonzalez, then flew out to end the inning.
The score after 2 innings was the Visiting team: 3 – the Home team: 5.
The Visiting team then came back and put the Joe Lewis, (Home team), on the ropes for a few innings. Team Matta scored 4 runs in the 3rd and 2 runs in the 4th, to retake the lead and give the Joe Lewis, (Home team), a standing eight count. However they could not knock their opponent out.
After four innings the score was Visiting team: 9 - Home team: 5.
The game stayed that way until the bottom of the 6th, when the Brown Bomber, or in this case, the Blue Bomber, emerged from his stupor and slugged his way back into the match. Utilizing a 1-2 punch, in both the 6th and 7th innings, Team Gonzalez scored a duce in both frames to tie the game, 9-9, at the end of 7 innings.
During this close matchup, both pitchers, Matta and Davis, were on top of their games. Matta pitched 4 scoreless innings and Davis had 5 zippos. Davis was aided by some nice defensive plays from players like F. Gonzalez, who raced in to catch a sinking fly ball. J. D’Hern and J. Rivera also made outstanding defensive plays for the Visitors.
The eighth inning was scoreless for both teams and set up a classic 9th.
Allow me a little more creative license to describe this finish. Both fighters touched gloves at the center of the smoke field ring, to start the last round. Both fighters were bruised and bleeding, but neither pugilist had any quit in him. Matta’s Red Robot, slugged their way into the lead, scoring 4 runs in the top of the ninth. Big hits came off the bats of D’ Hern, (who was a perfect 5 for 5 in the game), Witmer, Jacobson, Herb O and Matta.
Could Joe Lewis come back and beat the Matta Big Blue Robot? Hey, we are talking about Joe Lewis, the boxer who won all 27 of his first fights, knocking out 23 of his opponents. Here is a little more history on Joe Lewis. In June of 1935, he fought Primo Carnera, the former champion, who stood 6’ 6” and weighed 265 lbs. Lewis had a nine inch reach disadvantage. The fight took place at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 62,000. Carnera was intimidating; he once knocked out Ernie Schaaf in the 13th round of a bout. Schaaf was so badly beaten that he died two days later. Joe Louis defeated Carnera, knocking him down 3 times in the 6th round. Louis followed this win with a pairing against Max Baer, who he defeated by knockout, in the fourth round. Ernest Hemingway described this fight as "the most disgusting public spectacle, outside of a public hanging" that he had ever seen.
Team Gonzalez lifted themselves off the canvas and fought their way back into the match, in the bottom of the ninth. After the first batter was retired, Davis singled, M. Gonzalez doubled and DeRidder drove in two runs, with a single. The Blue Robot, Joe Lewis, Team Gonzalez, the Home team, whatever you choose to call them, had scored 2 runs and needed 2 more runs to tie the game.
With a pinch runner, (S. Hill), in for DeRidder on first, the next batter, Larry Wells, flew out to Herb O, behind 1st base. Herb made a nice play on the ball ranging far to his left, from his position as the 2nd baseman, to catch the ball.
Now with 2 outs recorded against them, the “Blue Bombers” looked like they would get knocked out. The sounds grew faint, the gloves were heavy, images were fuzzy and they were ready for a mat nap. Fred Dampier would not give up. He smacked a double into right center field and on a close play at the plate, pinch runner S. Hill just scored just ahead of the throw, to record the 3rd run of the inning for the Blue team.
It was now up to Home team manager, F. Gonzalez, to tie the game; his team now trailed by one. Flashing back to the top half of the 9th inning, Visiting team manager, Nick Matta, had driven in the 3rd and 4th runs for his team. Would that 4th run hold up and be the game winner?
Fighting Freddie answered the call with a fly ball to right center, which fell in for a hit and tied the game. Ron Butler and Terry Smith finished off the fantastic come from behind win, with base hits, to score the 5th and winning run.
As losing manager, I will go back and quote Ernest Hemingway, it was “the most disgusting public spectacle, outside of a public hanging" that I had ever seen. Just kidding, you win some and you lose some.
Everyone who has ever played Rock’em - Sock’em Robots has had their blocked knocked off, more than once.
Visiting team: 3-0-4-2-0-0-0-0-4
Home team: 1-4-0-0-0-2-2-0-5
Visiting team’s leading hitters:
Gazarek: 4 / 5 with a triple.
D’Hern: 5 /5 with a double.
Witmer: 4 / 4 and a SF.
Home team’s leading hitters:
M. Gonzalez: 4 / 4 with a double.