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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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July 20,1973

Posted 11-08-2017 at 07:17 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 09:41 PM by TommyJohn

July 20,1973
vs. New York Yankees
at Yankee Stadium

Back in the days when baseball players were rough-and-tumble manly men and the saloon girls who serviced them were damn glad of it, back in the times when a catcher blocking the plate could get both of his arms sliced off by the deadly, slashing spikes of Ty Cobb and shout "'Tis but a flesh wound!" pitchers started both games of a doubleheader.

This was a fairly common practice during the deadball era, but as it gave way to the live ball and the game and pitching mechanics evolved (and pitchers got softer and softer, until they were practically wearing skirts) the pitcher who could start and finish a doubleheader died out. Emil Levsen of the Indians was the last guy to pitch two complete games in one day in 1926, prompting The Sporting News to salute him: "His performance also gave lie to the current impression that all of our major league pitchers are powder-puff lads whose high earning arms are too puny to do a two-game trick without straining their gizzards, or something."

Wilbur Wood had always been intrigued with the idea of starting a doubleheader. He felt his arm was durable enough, given that he threw a knuckleball. Chuck Tanner also liked the possibility, but never took the plunge. Wood's two game, 14 inning performance on May 28th was the closest he had come. Until this night.

It came about by accident. Wood started the 1st game of the doubleheader and was blasted by the Yankees. He faced seven batters in the 1st and didn't retire a single one. He gave up four hits before Chuck rescued him with Eddie Fisher. The Yankees scored 8 runs, 6 of which were charged to Wilbur, en route to a 12-2 win. This ended a personal 8 game winning streak Wilb had against the Yanks dating back to 1971.


In between games, Wood approached Tanner and offered to start the second game in place of scheduled starter Bart Johnson. Wood had hardly pitched in the first game and felt strong. Tanner gave Wood his blessing.

Wood was a bit better, going three perfect innings in the nightcap. It all unraveled in the 4th when, with one on and one out, Bill Melton scooped up a grounder and whipped it into right field rather than 2nd base. One out later with two on it seemed all good when Celerino Sanchez lofted an easy flyball to Johnny "Jeets" Jeter in right. Jeets dropped the routine fly, allowing both runs to score.

The next inning saw more of the same when Wood loaded them up for Roy White, who took him deep for a grand slam. That ended Wood's night.

Mercifully, the end for the Sox came moments later, during the bottom of the 6th when a rainstorm hit the Bronx and washed the rest of the game away. Final after 5 1/2 innings was 7-0, Yankees.

The losses dropped the White Sox to 48-48, 6 games in back of Oakland and sinking further down in the standings. It was the first time they were at .500 since being 4-4 in early April.

The games were Wilbur's final ones before the All-Star break. He had permission to go home early to be with his family. Wilbur, whose 18 wins at this point were the most ever for a pitcher at the break, was not chosen for the All-Star team. His two starts on this night also marked the final time in baseball history that a pitcher started both ends of a doubleheader.

Ah. They don't make 'em like they used to.

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