Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Vintage Video: George Springer Channels Joe Rudi With Playoff Catch 0

Posted on October 21, 2017 by Dean Hybl
The catch by Astros outfielder George Springer in the 2017 ALCS was remeniscent of the grab by Joe Rudi of the Oakland A's in the 1972 World Series.

The catch by Astros outfielder George Springer in the 2017 ALCS was reminiscent of the grab by Joe Rudi of the Oakland A’s in the 1972 World Series.

When Houston Astros outfielder George Springer raced to the wall and made a crucial catch of a Todd Frazier blast in game six of the 2017 American League Championship Series it brought back memories of another great catch by the wall in a previous post season.

In game two of the 1972 World Series, Catfish Hunter and the Oakland A’s were clinging to a 2-0 lead when the Cincinnati Reds batted in the bottom of the ninth inning. Future Hall of Famer Tony Perez led off the inning with a single. The next batter, third baseman Denis Menke, hit a long blast to leftfield that looked destined for extra bases. However, lanky outfielder Joe Rudi raced to the wall and made a backhanded catch at the wall to secure the out and force Perez back to first base. At the time, the catch was considered one of the greatest postseason catches of all-time and was an iconic moment of that seven-game series.

It also proved critical, as Hal McRae eventually drove home Perez with a single, but Rollie Fingers came in to get the final out in a 2-1 Oakland victory. Had Rudi not made the catch off Menke’s blast, the Reds would have likely tied the game and had an opportunity to win it in regulation. Given that the A’s ultimately won the Series in seven games, that moment was certainly pivotal to Oakland winning the first of their three straight World Series.

While it is yet to be determined whether Springer’s catch will help propel the Astros into the World Series, it certainly was important in game six as it came with two runners on and only one out in the seventh inning. Had Springer not made the catch, Justin Verlander would likely been pulled from the game and the Yankees could have been poised for another big inning as they have done several times throughout the 2017 playoffs.

Instead, Verlander eventually finished the inning without giving up a run and the Astros went on to win 6-1 and force a decisive seventh game.

Below are videos of Rudi’s catch in 1972 and Sprringer’s in 2017. You can see that they each made a long run to grab the ball at the wall and help save victories for their teams.

The Fall Classic: When Mr. October Reggie Jackson Once Starred 2

Posted on October 05, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Mr. October Reggie JacksonIt’s only fitting that former Major League Baseball star Reggie Jackson leads off the month of October in this Sports Then and Now blog.

The Hall of Fame slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees.

He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

However, Reggie Jackson flourished on the baseball field during the fall – especially during the sport’s beloved Fall Classic.

That’s when he earned his nickname Mr. October.

New York Yankees teammate Thurmon Munson first used the title when questioned during the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Munson told a reporter to interview Jackson. He referred to the Yankee right fielder’s history of fantastic post-season games and said, “Go ask Mr. October.”

A 1999 Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee, Reginald Martinez Jackson enjoyed a stellar 21-year Major League Baseball career. He retired in 1987. Jackson was a 14-time All-Star who hit 563 dingers, drove in 1,702 runs and batted .262 with 2,584 total hits.

The 1973 American League MVP also had his number 9 jersey retired in Oakland and his number 44 jersey retired in New York. Pretty great accomplishments, indeed!

A clutch hitting right fielder, Jackson had the ability to perform his best during post-season play. Mr. October ranks as the only baseball player ever to be named World Series Most Valuable Player for two different teams. Jackson first won the award in 1973 with the Oakland A’s. He won it again in 1977 with the New York Yankees.

Jackson’s World Series numbers are incredible. In 27 Fall Classic appearances, Mr. October belted 10 home runs, drove in 24 runs and batted an impressive .357. He won five world titles. In the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three consecutive first pitch home runs off of three different Dodger hurlers.

Baseball fans will never forget this amazing Oakland A’s and New York Yankees’ right fielder and his Fall Classic heroics.

In a Boys of Summer sport, this Baseball Hall of Famer rightfully earned his fitting autumn nickname – Mr. October.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

25 Years Ago: Gibson Takes Eck Deep to Propel Dodgers to Improbable Title 1

Posted on October 15, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Kirk Gibson completely changed the 1988 World Series with one swing.

Kirk Gibson completely changed the 1988 World Series with one swing.

It was 25 years ago today that Kirk Gibson limped out of the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout and into baseball immortality. In his only at bat of the series, Gibson blasted a home run off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley that not only lifted his team to victory in the first game of the 1988 World Series, but set the stage for a surprising series victory for the underdog Dodgers.

Though Gibson’s home run did not end a World Series the way blasts by Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter did, his homer arguably was just as important in deciding a series as any other home run in history.

The 1988 Oakland A’s were believed to be virtually unbeatable. Assembled with a combination of home grown players and experienced veterans and managed by Tony LaRussa, the A’s won 104 games in the regular season and then swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Oakland scored 800 runs during the season and were led by Jose Canseco, who hit 42 home runs, drove home 124 runs, stole 40 bases and hit .307 to earn American League MVP honors. They also had an outstanding pitching staff including 21 game winner Dave Stewart and lights-out reliever Dennis Eckersley, who led the league with 45 saves in his first full season as a closer.

To the contrary, many believed that manager Tommy Lasorda had been using smoke and mirrors to coax his Dodgers team through the regular season and into the World Series. Sure they won 94 games in the regular season, but as a team hit just.248 and Gibson was actually the team leader with a .290 batting average and 25 home runs while finishing second on the squad with 76 RBI (Mike Marshall led the team with 82).

The Dodgers were in the 1988 World Series because they had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Even with perennial ace Fernando Valenzuela enduring the worst season to that point in his career, the team still had an ERA under three runs per game.

The main reason for that was Orel Hershiser, who was on his way to winning the Cy Young Award with a 23-8 record and 2.26 ERA. Read the rest of this entry →

Gene Tenace: World Series Hero 4

Posted on October 03, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Gene Tenace

The October Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month came out of nowhere to become the hero of the 1972 World Series for the Oakland A’s.

After hitting only five home runs in the 1972 regular season, Gene Tenace became an overnight superstar by becoming the first player in World Series history to hit home runs in his first two World Series at bats. He went on to drive in all three runs in a 3-2 game one win over the Cincinnati Reds.

With slugger Reggie Jackson out of the series with an injury, Tenace filled the void and helped lead the A’s to victory. During the seven game series, Tenace hit four home runs and drove in nine runs. In the decisive seventh game, he drove in two runs in a 3-2 victory that lifted the A’s to the first of their three straight world championships. Read the rest of this entry →

Dallas Braden Adds Perfect Game to His “Handfull of Wins” 1

Posted on May 09, 2010 by Don Spieles

On April 22nd, the lead story after Dallas Braden’s 4-2 win over the Yankees was not Braden’s then 3-0 record or his 2.77 ERA.  Instead, the most savory tidbit for post-game was the altercation between Braden and Alex Rodriguez after A-Rod’s disrespectful stroll over the mound.  Whether it was the fact that they were playing in Oakland or Braden’s reverence for the nuances of the game and disdain for high-paid prima donnas, he told Rodriguez, “Stay the [expletive] off my mound.  A-Rod’s response (aside from claimed ignorance of the significance of his trespass) was to break a second unwritten rule by impugning the skills of his opponent by saying, “ I’d never quite heard that, especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.”  Later, when asked about further comments made by Braden, A-Rod said, “I really don’t want to extend the 15 minutes of fame he already has.”

Box score from Braden's perfect game.

Grammar aside, Rodriguez’s hopes that Braden was going to be out of the papers crashed and burned on Sunday. During the Oakland’s Mother’s Day game against Tampa Bay , Dallas Braden went a long way to showing just how talented he can be and exactly who the pitcher’s mound at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum belongs to.  Braden became only the 19th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game. Read the rest of this entry →

Catfish Hunter 1

Posted on July 26, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Catfish Hunter

Catfish Hunter

In recognition of just how infrequent it is for a pitcher to throw a perfect game, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week is a hurler who in 1968 became the first American League pitcher in 46 years to experience perfection.

Jim “Catfish” Hunter was already a two-time All-Star when he threw his perfect game for the Oakland A’s against the Minnesota Twins. However, that performance served as the springboard to his emergence as one of the top pitchers of his era. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star
      November 12, 2017 | 8:52 am
      Bulldog Turner

      Bulldog Turner

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

      Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    8mm film to digital
  • Current Poll

    Who was the best NFL Quarterback in the 1970s?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top