It’s Game 105 in 1966, and we will have the last recap of the Bobby Bragan managerial era: a walkoff loss to Fergie Jenkins who pitched the 11th and 12th innings in his 45th appearance of the year (after a cup of coffee with the Phils in 1965) in Wrigley Field before 7,266 rabid Cubs fans. Tony Cloninger started the game and went 9 innings with one walk and 7 strikeouts. He passed away last week, and it’s kind of amazing to me when you realize most of the 1966 team is still alive – I’m often surprised that I’m still alive, and I was 10 at the time. It’s kind of like discovering that your elementary school teachers are still alive – they seemed so old back then. RIP, big feller.
Robin Roberts started for the Cubs and was chased in the 6th inning, just in time for the Braves to take a 5-4 lead on a bases loaded walk to Aaron. Aaron of course homered (31), and he had 4 of the 5 Braves RBIs. Ernie Banks tripled twice but the hero of the game was a player I don’t remember at all, Byron Browne (career WAR -0.1, pretty much the definition of a replacement level player: he was a player ahead of his time, though, leading the league with 143 strikeouts in ‘66), who hit a two-out base-loaded single in the bottom of the 12 for his third hit of the day. Fergie Jenkins pitched two scoreless innings, only giving up singles to Aaron and Eddie Mathews, and getting slow fat Joe Torre to hit into a double play. (Torre was still OPSing .905 at this point, second only to you-know-who.) The Braves fell to 48-57 and changes were in the air.
I haven’t seen this Netflix series, but it seems appropriate. One series I did watch this week is season 3 of Last Chance U. It’s not quite as astonishing as Season 1, but what the series lacks in innovation it makes up for with the astonishing real life character of Jason Brown No one interested in the underbelly of American athletics, or American life, should miss it.
And now the Braves come up here. I won’t be in town to catch one, unfortunately, but I heard that the Mets are playing some of their best ball of the year, and the changes they made at the deadline have them really preparing to put a push on at the end. Morale is high and the sky is the limit for Mr. Met and his confreres, so we’d better be ready.