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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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August 21,1973

Posted 11-14-2017 at 08:17 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 10:43 PM by TommyJohn

August 21,1973
vs. Cleveland Indians
at Cleveland Municipal Stadium

Stan Bahnsen stood on the mound, nervously toeing the rubber. The crowd of 13,728 was cheering for him, despite the fact that the game was in Cleveland. There were two out in the bottom of the 9th and the sagging Sox, 58-66 at this point, were winning 4-0. This was no ordinary shutout, however. Stan had not surrendered a hit to the Indians all night. His ex-teammate Walt Williams stepped into the batter's box, the only obstacle remaining between Bahnsen and no-hit glory.

It had been a year of frustration and heartbreak for Bahnsen. It had begun in spring training, when he butted heads with Stu Holcomb over his salary demands. Then came June and a ten day leave to tend to his family after the sudden death of his father. Upon his return he got the salary he wanted, but then found himself dubbed "Stanley Struggle" by fans and media, a nickname he lived up to with games like his 12-hit shutout vs. Oakland.

Here was a great chance to vindicate himself, to prove himself worth the money he was being paid and to hopefully bury the "Stanley Struggle" rap. The game had been no struggle for Stan; he had issued only two walks in the game, both to Dave Duncan. RBIs from Bucky Dent, Ed Herrmann and Jorge Orta had staked him to the lead.

Bahnsen bore down and worked the count on Williams to 2-1. Stan threw a low slider and Williams whacked a shot towards Bill Melton, who was playing close to the line because, he later said, he had a hunch Williams would try to bunt. Stan turned and raised his arms in triumph as Melton reached for it. Bahnsen's joy turned to despair when he saw the ball bounce under Melton's glove and go into left field for a basehit.

He retired Chris Chambliss on a flyball to end the game and get the 1-hit shutout. He couldn't hide his dejection at coming so close to baseball immortality, only to be denied. He hung his head after the ball got by Melton, and was still hanging his head after the game.

"Yeah, I was really let down when the hit went through" he said. "If it had happened in the eighth inning, like it did to me last year, I wouldn't have minded so much. But this one hurt."

Bahnsen wasn't the only one in the park unhappy over the near-miss. Walt Williams went out to the players' parking lot after the game and found that several Cleveland fans had trashed his car, leaving behind several unkind notes about himself and his family. Hell hath no fury like baseball fans denied a chance to see history.

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