September 23, 2021

Baseball In The 1970s

Actual game action, Cubs at Cardinals, September 22, 1974, top of the ninth inning:

Bruce Markusen, The Hardball Times, March 17, 2020:

With the score remaining tied heading to the ninth, [Cardinals relief pitcher Al] Hrabosky decided to make the Cubs wait by going through his trademark routine, which he called "The Psych." Hrabosky walked behind the mound, furiously rubbed up the ball, muttered a few words to himself as motivation, and then slammed the ball from his bare hand into his glove before stomping back onto the mound. The Cubs' first batter of the inning, future batting champion Bill Madlock, had little interest in waiting patiently for Hrabosky to carry out the gestures of The Psych. As "The Mad Hungarian" primped his way through his pre-arranged maneuvers, Madlock stepped out of the batter's box and walked back toward the on-deck circle.

Once Hrabosky returned to the mound, Madlock made his way back to the plate. As Madlock stepped in to the batter's box, Hrabosky repeated his psych-up routine. He again walked behind the mound, rubbed up the ball, and then slammed it into his glove. So once again, Madlock stepped out of the box and returned to the on-deck circle.

Home plate umpire Shag Crawford, a veteran of National League games beginning in 1956, grew irritated by the delays. According to an interview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Crawford yelled at Madlock, "Bill, get back here!" After the game, Crawford explained the situation further. "I thought maybe he didn't hear me because of the crowd noise. So I went after him and said it again."

The Cubs were furious, feeling Crawford was essentially placing the blame on Madlock for the delay and not Hrabosky. Cubs manager Jim Marshall charged out of the third base dugout and ran to a point between the dugout and home plate, where he was met by Crawford and also joined by the Cubs' on-deck batter, Jose Cardenal. Marshall and Cardenal began to argue with Crawford, but the umpire had little patience with the discussion. After only a few seconds, he walked away back to home plate. As Marshall and Cardenal continued their arguments with him, Crawford crouched behind home plate, pumped his first toward Hrabosky, and ordered the left-hander to deliver the next pitch.

It was an odd decision by the respected Crawford, a veteran of three World Series, and it only seemed to exacerbate the situation. With no one standing in the batter's box, Hrabosky threw a fastball to Simmons, who caught the ball well above the plane of the strike zone. The pitch was clearly a ball, but Crawford called it a strike, further angering the Cubs.

Realizing Hrabosky now had the advantage of pitching against a phantom batter, Cardenal waved at Madlock before suddenly stepping into the batter's box himself . . . [M]aking a frantic dash from the on-deck circle, Madlock tried to push Cardenal out of the way and take his own place in the batter's box. All the while, Marshall was standing just to the right of Simmons, who pushed the manager away as he moved into his crouch to receive the next pitch . . . [thus] creating one of the most unusual sights in baseball history: two batters in the box at the same time. To make the situation even more chaotic, there were now five men within the vicinity of the home plate area: Madlock and Cardenal, along with Simmons, Marshall, and Crawford. Meanwhile, the crowd at Busch Stadium observed the surreal setting in confusion, unsure of exactly what was happening. . . .

1 comment:

Paul Hickman said...

Priceless Stuff

My Type of Game

Hilarious Chaos