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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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APBA-1969 Cubs hook up with 1969 Sox to start Interleague Play

Posted 06-27-2009 at 01:59 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-27-2009 at 06:04 PM by TommyJohn

Cubs, Sox inaugurate "interleague play" at Comiskey

CHICAGO-June, 1969

By Joe Dick
Trib Reporter

Chicago's two baseball titans today met at Comiskey for the first of a three game showdown to kick off "interleague play," a brand new concept introduced to baseball this year by the powers-that-be in an effort to increase attendance and take some of the spotlight away from Joe Namath and the boys on the gridiron.

Chicago's South Side ballclub, Inc. could use some of that increased attendance that the brand new concept is sure to bring-not 200,000 souls have passed through the gates of Comiskey this year to see a hitting rich, pitching poor club struggle through the first half of the season. New-fangled things such as "astroturf" and a wire fence cutting the home run distances down have been added this year in an effort to wake a Sox offense that slumbered through most of last year. It has worked so far, much to the detriment of a class pitching staff that led the junior circuit in ERA as late as two seasons ago. The new fake turf and lowered mound have contributed in a two-point jump in ERA this year.

The North Side Cubs, meanwhile, continue to be the class of the National League. They continue to coast along in first place, a position they have held since Willie Smith's thrilling pinch-hit Opening Day home run. Their pennant march continues unabated. Hitting, pitching and defense are clicking on all cylinders, and there is no doubt in this reporter's mind that this is the year the Cubs will break their 24 year pennant drought and make it to the World Series. The token opposition being offered by the upstart New York Mets should not even be a factor come August. Cubs all the way!!

*Ahem.* Charles Comiskey's South Side Emporium was chosen as the place for the three game showdown, as the Sox need the gate more than the Cubs, who are playing to sellout crowds filled with lovable characters in the bleacher seats. Well, one of them fired a smoke bomb at Lou Brock, but that only makes them more lovable. The Sox, meanwhile are playing in a half-empty, charmless factory in front of drunks and hooligans.

"I guess if we have to play THEM, it should be there. They need it." sniffed Salty Saltwell, the Cubs GM. "We'd rather not play them at all, but the league wants it. So we're stuck."

The opinion of most Cub fans seemed to reflect that of management. Most of them polled by this reporter said that this series was no big deal, the White Sox are moving to Milwaukee anyway, and they are in the ghetto. They are far more concerned with the World Series that will be played this year in Wrigley.

"I really don't care. The are low class, their fans are low class. I just want to get on with the season" said one fan in a reflection of Cub supporter opinion.

White Sox owner Arthur Allyn, when asked for his opinion of interleague play, merely growled and returned to his butterflies.

Cubs and White Sox fans packed the ballyard in eager anticipation of this showdown.

"Cubs? Oh, how droll." Said one Sox supporter. "I'd rather play the Seattle Pilots."

Another Sox fan, asked his opinion, got in this reporter's face and bellowed "YYYEEEEEEAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" at the top of his lungs.

Lester Grobstein, a 21 year old Cub fan and journalism student, chipped in with his thoughts.

"There are 200 Sox fans here" he said, surveying the crowd of 45,000. "The rest are Cub fans. I counted them myself."

The eagerly anticipated match featured Fergie Jenkins and Joel Horlen. Leo Durocher shook hands with Don Gutteridge, the Sox took the field to loud applause and the game was on.

The Cubs wasted no time drawing first blood, Billy Williams going deep off Horlen in the top of the 1st for the game's first tally.

The bottom of the inning saw some fireworks that got the fans into it. Walt Williams, the Sox's hustling, neckless fireplug, cracked out a base hit. He attempted a steal of second but was nailed by Hundley's perfect peg to Kessinger. Williams leaped up to argue the call and promptly bumped the umpire, leading to his ejection and replacement in the lineup by Tommy McCraw.

Also in the first, Luis Aparicio reached second when his fly ball was misjudged into a double by rookie Don Young, who nevertheless seems destined for great things. The play aroused the ire of Ron Santo, the Cubs' All-Star 3rd sacker, who screamed at Young after the play.

Lester Munson, a young Chicago law student and proudly passionate Cub fan, was upset at Young's misplay.

"If the Cubs lose because of this, I will kill him" he said. "What shall it be, a high-powered rifle or bare-handed strangulation? I'm a proud Cub fan. I will commit murder for them."

Munson need not have worried about committing any felonies in the name of his favorite team, as two fly outs snuffed the would be rally.

The Cubs continued to assault Horlen with solo home runs-Ernie Banks went deep leading off the second; and Glenn Beckert, a mostly unlikely candidate for a round-tripper (he had none going into today's game) dinked a soft drive over the makeshift fence in left for a 3-0 Cub lead.

The Sox could not get anything going against the masterful Jenkins. He maintained a shutout for seven innings. Ernie Banks, meanwhile, earned his "Mr. Cub" nickname by breaking the game wide open in the 8th frame. With two out and two on, Banks drove a double into the gap to score both runs and widen the Northsiders' lead to 5-0.

The White Sox threatened in the bottom of the inning, putting men on first and third with two outs. Rookie Carlos May, who in a month will depart for two weeks to Camp Pendleton, California for Marine Reserve exercises, continued to be one of the few bright spots for the Sox this season. The rook banged out a basehit, and the Sox finally dented the plate with a run. Sox fan joy was short-lived, however, as catcher Ed Herrmann tried to get to third on the hit, but a perfect peg from Hickman to Santo nailed him for the third out of the inning.

Randy Hundley padded the Cubs lead to 6-1 with yet another solo home run, this one off knuckling reliever Wilbur Wood, who replaced Horlen, the starter being lifted for a pinchhitter in the during the aborted 8th inning rally.

The Sox's last gasp in the 9th before the 45,000 screaming denizens saw Knoop and PH Buddy Bradford reach base before Tommy McCraw bounced into an around-the-horn double play to end it with the final tally at Cubs 6, White Sox 1.

Fergie Jenkins went all nine, pitching a masterpiece of a game. At one point in the 6th, he brushed Ed Herrmann off the plate with a couple of high, inside hummers. Leo Durocher sat in the Cubs' dugout smirking, while Don Gutteridge sat in the Sox's dugout complacently.

Cub fans were absolutely ecstatic at the result, bellowing and cheering as they walked out. Several screamed at Sox fans and taunted them on their lack of hitting, lack of fans, and impending transfer to Milwaukee.

"Cubs all the way, baby! World Series!!! Yeah!!!!! This is THE YEAR!" One fan screamed in my face. I found his statement ironic, as he was the same fan who before the game had put down the series as nothing special.

Sox fans were upset also, some bellowing imprecations at everyone from Joel Horlen for his performance to Don Gutteridge for failing to retaliate after Jenkins' brushback pitches.

Ernie Banks, whose home run and two run double paved the way for the Cubs, easily earned Player of the Game honors.

Not so great were the game's rival third baseman, Bill Melton and Ron Santo. Melton, who with May is providing some rookie thrills for Sox fans this year, came up with runners on base in the first and third innings, but made outs both times.

Santo, meanwhile had it worse. After blowing his stack at Young, Santo had two chances to pad the Cubs' lead, batting with a runner on in both the 3rd and 6th innings. He bounced into 6-4-3, inning-ending double plays.

All in all, "Interleague Play" seems to be a resounding success. The Sox expect another near-sellout for tomorrow's game, which will feature left-handed aces Ken Holtzman matching pitches with the Sox's ace lefty Tommy John.

Game Summary:

Cubs....111 000 021 6 10 1
Sox..... 000 000 010 1 9 2

HR: Cubs-B. Williams, Banks, Beckert, Hundley White Sox-none

Errors: Cubs-Beckert White Sox-Horlen (2)

Attendance: 45, 497

Winner-Jenkins Loser-Horlen
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