PDA

View Full Version : One small step into history: Baseball recalls moon landing



westofyou
07-20-2009, 04:05 PM
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/marlins/content/sports/epaper/2009/07/19/0719capozzi.html



By JOE CAPOZZI

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Perhaps the most memorable story connecting baseball with the Apollo 11 moon landing begins back in 1962, when a reporter asked Giants manager Alvin Dark about the rookie pitcher taking swings in the batting cage - Gaylord Perry.

"There'll be a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run,'' Dark remarked.

Seven years later, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface. And about 20 minutes after that, according to published accounts, Perry launched his first major-league home run at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

"True story,'' Perry said recently.

But for other retired baseball players, 40-year-old memories of what they were doing are as fuzzy as those original moon-landing images that were beamed to television sets that day.

"I think they made an announcement but I can't remember. We were focused on the game,'' said Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, whose Cubs swept a doubleheader in Philadelphia.

"I know I played golf years later with Neil Armstrong. He was better than me.''

When Apollo 11 landed - about 4:18 p.m. - the only other show across America was Major League Baseball. According to most published accounts, those games were at least interrupted with scoreboard bulletins of the landing.

One often-repeated story might be closer to fiction: Padres first baseman Nate Colbert was batting at Atlanta's Municipal Stadium when he heard a thunderous ovation from Braves fans.

Colbert, who'd never even gotten a reception like that from Padres fans, looked into his dugout with a smile - only to be quickly brought back down to earth.

"That's not for you,'' teammate Cito Gaston shouted. "Take a look.''

On the scoreboard was a message: "We have just landed a man on the moon!"

But according to Retrosheet, which keeps records of baseball box scores dating back to 1871, a notation in the Padres-Braves game for July 20, 1969, says "play was halted briefly" during John Sipin's at-bat "while a silent prayer was offered for the astronauts who had just landed on the moon.''

Dave Van Horne, the Marlins' radio voice, was in the booth at Montreal's Park Jarry calling action of the Expos' doubleheader split with the Mets.

"There was a delay in the second game when they put the television pictures on the scoreboard, and everybody watched, including the players,'' Van Horne recalled. "We watched it land and heard those famous words - 'the Eagle has landed.' A big cheer went up from the crowd. We stayed with it for a few more minutes and resumed the game.

"It was a Sunday afternoon so ballparks were busy. I remember thinking how insignificant this game was when out in space all of that was going on.''

Bobby Wine, who played both games for the Expos that day, laughed at himself for not being able to recall the moon landing. "I guess I was moonstruck,'' he said.

But Wine's wife, Fran, remembers it. A loyal follower of her husband's career, she was at their apartment in Montreal that day with their two-month-old daughter, Beth. Fran watched the moon landing on TV while listening to Van Horne call the Expos' game on the radio.

"Plus, I got a hit that day,'' recalled Wine, who actually went 2-for-6 with a home run over the two games, "so she was even more ecstatic about that!"'

It was 10:56 p.m. when Armstrong walked on the moon. Most games were over. But on the East Coast, the Mets watched it together as a team.

Their charter flight had broken down at the Montreal airport. While they waited for repairs, players watched on TV at a bar as Armstrong made his "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,'' recalled retired outfielder Ron Swoboda.

"The irony was not lost on us,'' Swoboda said with a laugh. "We're stuck in Montreal because of engine problems but they could put a man on the moon.''

One man who vividly remembers it was Bill "Boomer" Beck, the Marlins' traveling secretary who was the broadcaster for the minor-league Omaha Royals 40 years ago. In the wee hours of July 21, 1969, Beck was asleep in his hotel room when the phone rang.

On the other end was the unmistakable bark of Royals manager Jack McKeon.

"He says, 'Boomer, what are you doing?' I said, 'I'm sleeping.' He goes, 'Well, get up and turn on the television! There's a man walking on the moon!'

"I can't remember what I did last week but I'll always remember Jack calling me 40 years ago, 'There's a man walking on the moon!' ''




San Francisco Giants 7, Los Angeles Dodgers 3
DayGame Played on Sunday, July 20, 1969 (D) at Candlestick Park
LA N 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 3 7 3
SF N 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 2 x - 7 10 1
BATTINGLos Angeles Dodgers AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Wills ss 4 1 2 0 0 0 2 3
Mota cf 4 1 1 1 0 0 2 0
Crawford lf 4 0 0 0 0 2 2 0
Parker 1b 3 1 1 0 1 1 7 0
Gabrielson rf 4 0 2 1 0 0 1 0
Haller c 4 0 1 1 0 1 7 0
Sudakis 3b 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 3
Sizemore 2b 4 0 0 0 0 1 3 0
Osteen p 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Brewer p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 33 3 7 3 2 6 24 7
FIELDING -
DP: 1. Wills-Parker.
E: Haller (3), Sizemore (19), Osteen (2).
BATTING -
3B: Mota (2,off Perry).
Team LOB: 5.
San Francisco Giants AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Bonds rf 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 0
Hunt 2b 4 1 1 0 1 0 1 6
Mays cf 4 1 2 1 1 0 1 0
McCovey 1b 3 1 1 2 1 1 16 1
Davenport 3b 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Henderson lf 4 0 1 0 0 2 0 0
Lanier ss 4 1 2 0 0 0 1 5
Barton c 4 1 2 1 0 0 6 0
Perry p 4 1 1 1 0 2 1 2
Totals 33 7 10 5 5 7 27 15
FIELDING -
DP: 2. Perry-Lanier-McCovey, Lanier-Hunt-McCovey.
E: Lanier (13).
BATTING -
2B: Hunt (13,off Osteen); Mays (11,off Osteen); Barton (1,off Brewer).
HR: Perry (1,3rd inning off Osteen 0 on 2 out); McCovey (30,4th inning off
Osteen 1 on 0 out).
HBP: Bonds (6,by Brewer).
IBB: McCovey (25,by Brewer).
Team LOB: 8.
BASERUNNING -
SB: Bonds 2 (27,2nd base off Osteen/Haller,2nd base off Brewer/Haller).
PITCHINGLos Angeles Dodgers IP H R ER BB SO HR BFP
Osteen L(12-8) 6.2 8 5 4 3 5 2 30
Brewer 1.1 2 2 1 2 2 0 9
Totals 8 10 7 5 5 7 2 39
HBP: Brewer (3,Bonds).
IBB: Brewer (3,McCovey).
San Francisco Giants IP H R ER BB SO HR BFP
Perry W(12-7) 9 7 3 3 2 6 0 35
Umpires: HP - Ed Vargo, 1B - Andy Olsen, 2B - Nick Colosi, 3B - Al Barlick
Time of Game: 2:27 Attendance: 32560

Spitball
07-20-2009, 07:35 PM
Thanks for the post, woy. When I heard the 40th anniversary was coming up, the Gaylord Perry story was the first memory to pop into my mind.

RedFanAlways1966
07-20-2009, 09:18 PM
And the guy who gave up that Gaylord Perry HR...


July 2, 1957: Claude Osteen was signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs as an amateur free agent out of Reading (Ohio) High School. Osteen was 17 years old when he was called up to the Reds on September 24.

redsmetz
07-21-2009, 07:20 AM
Great story, WOY. How amazing that Perry connects right afterwards. I'm guessing the weight of two astronauts stepping on the moon caused some slight shift in the earth's tides that thereby allowed Perry to have a ball break free of the gravity and make it's way into orbit. Or something like that...