Monday, March 31, 2014

Yankees welcomed comeback pitcher with bunt barrage

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

All's fair in love, war . . . and the American League.

In 1942, Washington Senators pitcher Emil "Dutch" Leonard broke his ankle in his second game of the season, April 23.

On Sept. 5 he faced the visiting N.Y. Yankees for the first time since his return to action.

As they emerged from the dugout before the game, each of the Yankees greeted Leonard, asking "How's the ankle, Dutch?" All declared they were glad his rehabilitation was coming along all right.

Then the first seven Yankees to come to the plate bunted on him.

Leonard lost the game 6-2, giving up five hits. I don't have the play-by-play, so I don't know how many of those hits may have been on bunts.

Dutch Leonard had a 20-year major league pitching career, specializing in the knuckleball. He won 191, lost 181 and had a 3.25 ERA from 1933-53 (he was with Atlanta in 1937), with the Dodgers (1933-36), Senators (1938-46), Phillies (1947-48) and Cubs (1949-53).

His bubblegum card legacy is lengthy. He was in the Play Ball sets of 1939 and 1941, in Bowman's issues 1948-53 and 1955 (as a Cubs coach), and with Topps, 1952-53.

UPDATE: It turns out that The Sporting News account was not really correct. A regular reader of the blog sent this . . . 

According to the 9/6/42 N.Y. Times, the first inning against Dutch and his ankle went like this:

"Hassett started by outgalloping a bunt. Red Rolfe popped out, but Selkirk walked and when DiMaggio laced a single to center, Hassett dashed home. Keller fanned, but Gordon and Bill Dickey weighed in with lusty singles, each hit driving in a run, and Rizzuto sent the fourth tally home by upending the Washington inner defense with another bunt. Curiously, Leonard pitched a whale of a game after that. He allowed the Yanks no more hits..."

Sounds like two bunts and three hard hit singles, producing four runs.

1 comment:

  1. There should be no such thing as taking an unfair advantage in baseball. They bunted Monty Stratton out of the Majors because he was a one legged pitcher. Had the White Sox bunted on Baltimore's Mike Flanagan, they might have survived an extra game in the '83 ALCS. He had terrible mobility during that series with a bad ankle but LaRussa never did it.


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