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Archive for August 8th, 2010

August 8, 1903 started as a leisurely Saturday in Philadelphia. Over 10,000 people flocked to National League Park, more commonly know as the Huntingdon Street Baseball Grounds, to watch the hometown Phillies take on the Boston Beaneaters in an afternoon doubleheader. By the end of the day, however, several people would lay dead with hundreds more seriously injured after a catastrophic ballpark accident replaced the summer sounds of a ballgame with screams of pain and horror.

An aerial view of the "Baker Bowl", which was witness to baseball's greatest tragedy on August 8, 1903.

As they often did, the last place Phillies lost the first game of the twin bill, but managed to be tied as the Beaneaters took their at bats in the top of the fourth inning of game two. Perhaps bored by the hapless play on the field, a handful of fans seated at the back of the left field bleachers took notice of a row on the street below. Some accounts described the disturbance as a quarrel between two drunken men, while others reported it as the molestation of a young girl by a pack of boys. Whatever the cause, the small crowd watching from above soon attracted the attention of others seated in the bleachers, and before too long hundreds of fans had congregated on the narrow walkway that overlooked 15th Street. Then, without warning, all hell broke loose. The combined weight of the assembled crowd was too much for the support beams to hold and the walkway gave way, sending hundreds of spectators hurtling to the ground over 20 feet below.

“The sight was one never to be forgotten, and one which Philadelphians never before witnessed. In every direction the wounded were being borne upon stretchers, or mattresses borrowed from nearby dwellings, while others lay moaning with pain upon the baseball diamond awaiting assistance”. The Star, Wilmington, DE, August 9, 1903

It was an indescribably gruesome scene. One witness likened it to a human avalanche, while another compared the sight of falling bodies to a human waterfall. Still another first hand account described the horrific event as an “army of boys and men trying to swim in the air”. By all accounts, the overwhelming tragedy was like no other the city of Philadelphia had ever seen. Hundreds of wounded spectators littered the street, their bones badly broken and blood flowing from fatal wounds. Still others lay pinned beneath the wreckage, while rescuers hurriedly tried to free them.

Meanwhile, the sound of the collapsing walkway caused a panic throughout the ballpark. The rest of the fans in attendance stormed the field and overwhelmed the shell shocked players. Before long, the crowd poured out of the ballpark and congregated around the tragic scene, adding to the confusion outside.

Several city officials were in attendance at the game, so a recovery effort was quickly orchestrated on the scene. Before too long, an army of police wagons and ambulances, assisted by teams of Good Samaritans, ushered the wounded to hospitals and nearby houses in an endless parade of suffering. As news began to spread about the accident, family members of those who had attended the game descended on the area, searching for word of their loved ones. There wasn’t much good news to report. By the time the smoke had cleared, the death toll had risen to 12 and the known count of those seriously injured approached 300.

The cause of the collapse was attributed to “rotten timber”. According to the New York Times, a spokesman for Phillies’ President Potter stated that “there was not the slightest suspicion that the supports were weak”, but Philadelphia Mayor John Weaver promised a full investigation. Meanwhile, the Phillies season was put on hold for 12 days as the city and team dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy. When play finally resumed, the Phillies were forced to play at Columbia Park, home of the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics, while the investigation and eventual renovation was conducted. The Phillies were eventually able to return to their home ballpark for the 1904 season, but the tragic events of that August 8th afternoon would not soon be forgotten.

Police officers inspect the damage that resulted when stands behind first base collapsed during a game on May 14, 1927.

Incredibly, those who did forget would be reminded when the tragic events of August 8, 1903 were revisited on May 14, 1927. This time, a 50-foot section of the lower deck stands located down the first baseline collapsed during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Once again, the event proved tragic as one person died and at least 50 were injured in the ensuing panic.

In its just over 50 years of occupancy, National League Park, which came to be known as the Baker Bowl in honor of the team’s owner from 1913 to 1930, had a very tumultuous history. After opening in 1887, the entire ballpark burnt to the ground on August 6, 1894. When it was reconstructed for the 1895 season, the park was expanded to 18,800 seats and utilized a then unique cantilever design that eliminated much of its obstructed seating. For this reason, the renovated ballpark is considered by many historians to be the first modern baseball stadium. Unfortunately, up until and after the tragic collapse in 1903, very little was done to keep the Baker Bowl up to date. By the time the Phillies vacated the ballpark in 1938, it was a badly dilapidated facility that became derisively known as the “Toilet Bowl” and “Baker’s Bowels”.  The old ballpark finally met the wrecking ball in 1950, but despite its tragic history, it continues to hold a special place in Philadelphia’s baseball lore. On August 6, 2000, a historical marker was erected on the site.

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vs. Josh Beckett PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 64 0.283 0.317 0.400 2 6
Nick Swisher RF 30 0.280 0.400 0.520 2 5
Mark Teixeira 1B 35 0.143 0.314 0.143 0 2
Alex Rodriguez 3B 57 0.294 0.368 0.490 2 10
Robinson Cano 2B 57 0.346 0.404 0.654 3 12
Jorge Posada C 36 0.333 0.389 0.455 1 4
Lance Berkman DH 19 0.167 0.211 0.389 1 4
Curtis Granderson CF 16 0.188 0.188 0.500 1 1
Brett Gardner LF 18 0.235 0.278 0.294 0 1
Total 332 0.273 0.334 0.450 12 45
             
vs. Dustin Moseley PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Jacoby Ellsbury CF 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Marco Scutaro SS 6 0.400 0.500 0.400 0 0
David Ortiz DH 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Victor Martinez 1B 4 0.250 0.250 0.250 0 0
JD Drew RF 7 0.333 0.429 1.000 1 2
Adrian Beltre 3B 8 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Ryan Kalish LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Bill Hall 2B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Kevin Cash C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 31 0.222 0.323 0.370 1 2

 

Yankees vs. Red Sox    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 6-4 TIED: 9-9 TIED: 9-9 NYY: 1123-937

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  Last 10 Last 20 Last 30
Yankees 5-5 11-9 20-10
Red Sox 6-4 11-9 14-16

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  Home vs. RHP
Yankees 36-19 46-26
  Road vs. RHP
Red Sox 29-25 43-32
  • Before the game, AJ Burnett was scratched with stiff lower back. Dustin Moseley was moved up a day to take Burnett’s place. Phil Hughes is now scheduled to pitch on Monday afternoon in place of Moseley.
  • Derek Jeter remains one hit away from passing Babe Ruth for sole possession of 39th place on the all-time list, and three hits away from tying Mel Ott for 38th place.
  • In his last five starts against the Yankees, Josh Beckett is 0-2 with a 7.58 ERA.

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Maybe yesterday’s matchup against the Red Sox really wasn’t a big game. After all, the Yankees entered the game with the best record in baseball, not to mention six fewer losses than Boston. When looked at rationally, dropping a second consecutive game to the Red Sox would not have been the end of the world. Then again, all logic and reason seem to go out the window when these two teams meet. 

Yankees fans celebrate their team's five game sweep of the Red Sox in August 2006. Red Sox' fans were hoping to return the favor this weekend.

 The Red Sox limped into the weekend series, both figuratively and literally. Just when it seemed like they were starting to pick up steam by winning five of six from the Angels and Tigers, the Red Sox split a home series against the last place Indians and in the process lost Kevin Youkilis for the season. Coming on the heels of such disappointing news, you’d have thought Boston would be looking at the upcoming four game series as a wake, but instead, the quotes coming out of their clubhouse on Thursday night suggested quiet confidence

From the Yankees perspective, four games against the wounded Red Sox presented an opportunity to drive the last nail in the coffin, but also carried a risk of allowing an always dangerous opponent the chance to rise from the dead. With three of the games featuring a pitching matchup that favored Boston, it’s easy to see why there might be at least a little uneasiness and apprehension. However, the Yankees had an ace in the hole…C.C. Sabathia

Since joining the Yankees, Sabathia has compiled a 4-1 record with a 3.05 ERA in eight starts against the Red Sox. What’s more, above and beyond his performance in the rivalry, Sabathia has established himself as the undisputed rock of the Yankees’ rotation. When all else has failed, Sabathia has seemed to always come up with a big outing. Yesterday was no different. 

After the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead, more than a few fans on both sides of the rivalry probably starting thinking ahead to the next matchups. All of a sudden, the possibility of a sweep started to gain credibility. If Boston could overcome the Yankees’ big lefty, then beating the erratic AJ Burnett and fill-in starter Dustin Moseley would be all that kept the team from slashing the Yankees’ lead to two games. Unfortunately for Red Sox Nation, those dreams were dashed when Sabathia put the Boston lineup on lockdown and gave his offense the chance to build an insurmountable lead. Not only did Sabathia hold Boston to the two runs they scored in the second inning, but he handed the ball directly to Mariano Rivera, thereby helping to preserve a bullpen that will likely be called into action over the next two games. 

Just because the Red Sox lost yesterday doesn’t make this a lost weekend for the team. They still have Josh Beckett and Jonathan Lester lined up to go in the next two games, and therefore have to like their chances of taking both. After losing yesterday’s game, however, Boston now has to win the final two games of the series just to make up some ground. Otherwise, it’s just four more games off the schedule. 

Winning three of four games at Yankee Stadium would still be an impressive accomplishment for the Red Sox, and would likely give the team a needed boost as they continue a brutal road trip that will take them next to Toronto and Texas. A sweep, however, would have been like a rocket launcher. The history of the rivalry is replete with season changing series that reversed fortunes and doomed fates. Had Boston been able to beat Sabathia, they might have been in line for such a turning point. Instead, they must now make sure these final two games do not wind up becoming the beginning of their end. 

Momentous Four Game Series in the Rivalry’s History 

August 6-9, 2009

Date         WP LP Save
8/6/2009 Yankees 13 Red Sox 6 J. Chamberlain J. Smoltz  
8/7/2009 Yankees 2 Red Sox 0 P. Coke J. Tazawa  
8/8/2009 Yankees 5 Red Sox 0 C. Sabathia C. Buchholz  
8/9/2009 Yankees 5 Red Sox 2 P. Coke D. Bard M. Rivera

Source: Baseball-reference.com 

Background: The Yankees entered the series with a 2.5 game lead over Boston, but had dropped the first eight head-to-head matchups. The question entering the four game show down was whether the Yankees could beat the Red Sox, but after the four game sweep, the only remaining doubt was whether the Red Sox would be able to hold off the Rays and Rangers for the wild card. After the series, Boston would rebound to go 33-19 over the remainder of the season, but wound up losing nine of their final 10 against the Bronx Bombers. 

August 18-21, 2006

Date         WP LP Save
8/18/2006 (1) Yankees 12 Red Sox 4 C. Wang J. Johnson  
8/18/2006 (2) Yankees 14 Red Sox 11 M. Myers M. Timlin  
8/19/2006 Yankees 13 Red Sox 5 R. Johnson J. Beckett  
8/20/2006 Yankees 8 Red Sox 5 M. Rivera C. Hansen  
8/21/2006 Yankees 2 Red Sox 1 C. Lidle D. Wells Farnsworth

Source: Baseball-reference.com 

Background: An early season rainout set up a rare five game series in the middle of August. Once again, the Yankees held the upper hand with a 2.5 game lead, but with the lengthy series being held in Fenway Park, the stage seemed to be set for the Red Sox to make a move. Instead, the Yankees swept the series opening double header, which included a seven run seventh inning in game two that turned a 10-7 deficit into a 14-11 victory. The Yankees continued to pour on the runs in the next two games before polishing off the sweep with a 2-1 triumph. In total, the Yankees outscored the Red Sox 49 to 26, and in the process sent Boston into a 17-21 spiral that knocked them out of the playoff picture. 

September 7-10, 1978

Date         WP LP Save
9/7/1978 Yankees 15 Red Sox 3 K. Clay M. Torrez  
9/8/1978 Yankees 13 Red Sox 2 J. Beattie J. Wright  
9/9/1978 Yankees 7 Red Sox 0 R. Guidry D. Eckersley  
9/10/1978 Yankees 7 Red Sox 4 E. Figueroa B. Sprowl R. Gossage

Source: Baseball-reference.com 

 

Carl Yastrzemski stands dejected in front of scoreboard during second game of the “Boston Massacre”.

Background: Known as the “Boston Massacre”, the Yankees outscored the Red Sox 42 to 9 to turn a four game deficit into a tie atop the AL East. The overwhelming series sweep was the culmination of a season-long comeback that saw the Yankees overcome a 14 game deficit as late as July 19. After the Boston Massacre, the Yankees quickly built up a four game lead, thanks to two more victories over the Red Sox the following week at Yankee Stadium, but eventually found themselves tied again with Boston at the end of the season. The ensuing one-game playoff would further add to the rivalry’s legacy and give Yankees’ short stop Bucky Dent a new middle name throughout New England.

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