Although he was born in the Bronx, right in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, Rich Chaynee never liked the New York Yankees. He complained that the crowds disrupted his life. The worst part was there were too many times during the baseball season that Rich couldn’t a decent corned beef sandwich because the two delicatessens on 161 St, were too crowded.
Rich loved the1966 season, and he took special joy when the Chicago White Sox beat the Yankees at Comiskey Park on Sept. 30.
The American League became a 10-team league in 1961, when the expansion Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators joined. The National League followed the next season, adding the New York Mets and the Houston Colt.45s.
New York’s Last Place Teams
New York had a tenth place team from 1962-1965, as the Mets lost over 100 games each season. In 1966, New York again had a tenth place team, but it was not the New York Mets. For the first time in their history, New York’s other team finished in ninth place, ahead of the Chicago Cubs.
The once-mighty New York Yankees, baseball’s most successful franchise, finished in tenth place.
A Possible Clinching
On the morning of Sept. 30, 1966, the Yankees were in tenth place, trailing their friends, the Boston Red Sox, by one game. The team that boasted Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and had Mickey Mantle on its current roster, was in Chicago to play the White Sox.
A Yankees’ loss would clinch tenth and last place. New York’s American League franchise had finished last only twice. As the Highlanders, they were eighth in an eight team league in 1908 and again in 1912.
Twenty-one year-old rookie right-hander Stan Bahnsen started against the Sox’ Fred Klages. I turned on the television to see it for myself.
It had been beyond the imagination of fans who enjoyed seeing the Yankees lose. As recently as 1964, I would have been thrilled if the Yankees finished second. Now, a mere two seasons later, I was going to see the game in which they clinched, but it wasn’t the pennant they were going to clinch.
A Good Game
It was a good game, but then, I consider any game that the Yankees lose a good game. The White Sox jumped on Bahsen for two quick runs in the first inning.
The lead held up until the Yankees tied the game in the sixth inning, when Mike Hegan tripled home Mike Ferraro, and the much-maligned Horace Clarke tripled home the son of former Cleveland Indians’ catcher Jim Hegan.
With the help of errors by Bobby Murcer and Clarke, the White Sox jumped ahead, 4-2, in their half of the sixth. The Yankees scored a single tally in the eighth inning.
Hoyt Wilhelm, who had pitched a no-hitter against the Yankees in 1958, retired Steve Whitaker and Bill Bryan. I took a deep breath and was set to enjoy the moment as Mike Ferraro stepped in against Wilhelm. Mike fell behind in the count, one ball and two strikes.
Wilhelm delivered a knuckle ball that fooled Ferraro, who swung awkwardly and hit a slow ground ball toward shortstop. Jerry Adair charged the ball, gloved it, and fired a strike to first baseman Tom McCraw.
First base umpire Nestor Chylak called Ferraro safe. Roger Maris, hitting for Dooley Womack, hit a home run to put the Yankees ahead, 5-4.
Hal Reniff pitched the bottom of the ninth. Ken Berry led off with a walk off the often control-challenged Reniff. Left-handed hitter Wayne Causey sacrificed Berry to second, a move that is unlikely to occur in today’s game.
Reniff, possibly inspired by Yankees’ tradition, reached back and struck out Jerry Adair for the second out. But these were the 1966 Yankees.
Berry moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on pinch-hitter Smokey Burgess’ single. Then it really became fascinating.
Ed Stroud was hit by a pitch, moving Buddy Bradford, who went in to run for Burgess, to second with the run that would cement the Yankees’ tenth place finish. It didn’t happen.
Left-handed hitter Pete Ward pinch-hit for future Mets’ World Series hero Al Weis.
Yankees’ manager Ralph Houk countered by bringing in lefty Steve Hamilton. White Sox manager Eddie Stanky pinch hit for the pinch hitter. Former Yankee Bill Skowron batted for Ward.
It was great. Imagine if Bill Skowron, who helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four World Championships, got the hit that clinched tenth place. The Moose flied out to right fielder Steve Whitaker.
Mel Stottlemyre in Relief
Ralph Houk didn’t want to finish tenth. After the Yankees failed to score, Mel Stottlemyre came in to face Chicago in the bottom of tenth. Mel had 19 losses. He had a chance to go from 20 wins in 1965 to 20 losses in 1966.
Mel retired the side without a score. John Buzhardt returned the compliment in the eleventh.
Wayne Causey led off the inning with a single. Jerry Adair sacrificed the potential winning run to second. bringing up Buddy Bradford. Stottlemyre struck him out. John Romano hit a ringing line drive to left for a single, and the New York Yankees once again had clinched before the beginning of October.
YANKEES LOSE, 6-5, CLINCH 10TH SPOT :White Sox Win in 11th, Give Stottlemyre His 20th Loss. (1966, October 1). New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 22. Retrieved February 25, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 121730541).
New York Yankees v. Chicago White Sox Sept. 30, 1966 at Retrosheet