I’m going to start today with a game that I don’t know if it exists or not. Not exactly the right foot to start off on. However, my whole hope of this blog is to archive the available games that may be out there in hopes of a) wriggling them away from MLB’s oppressive grip or b) making sure that the fans know what actually does exist, either in MLB’s rarely opened vaults or from collector’s scattered across the globe.
This brings me to the game in question. In Ken Burns' Baseball, Burns profiles Roberto Clemente’s tumultuous 14 month span in which he solidified his legacy as both a baseball player (1971 World Series, 3000 Hits) and as a human being (dying on a humanitarian relief effort to Nicaragua). In this ‘9th Inning’, as a montage of highlights are shown to sweet guitar strumming of Carlos Santana’s ‘Oye Como Va’ of Clemente’s out of this world performance, a brief clip of a sliding grab at Wrigley Field is shown.
Let’s start with the basics: The uniforms. Based on the NBHOF’s Dressed to the Nine’s exhibit, The Pittsburgh Pirates during Clemente’s lifetime only wore the road grey pullovers with the yellow cap from part of 1970 until Clemente’s death following the 1972 season. So, for this game, we’ve narrowed it down to 3 seasons, 1970, 1971, 1972. To further narrow it, using the same DTTN source, the Chicago Cubs would switch to the pullover home pinstripes with blue collar in the 1972 season. So this game broadcast had to have taken place in either 1970 or 1971.
Now, let’s try to fill out the players that are on the field. In the first part of the clip, a Pittsburgh Pirates right-handed pitcher #38 is pitching. If we are to believe Ken Burns' accuracy on using footage from Clemente’s 1970 or 1971 season (and really, should we since this scene is from the regular season and the piece is discussing his postseason attack) then the pitcher pictured is Bob Moose. According to Baseball Almanac, Bob Moose pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1967 to 1976 and wore the #38 every one of those seasons.
The batter’s number is unclear. What is apparent is that the final number on his uniform is ‘2’.
- For the 1970 Cubs, players who had uniform numbers ending in 2 were: Jim Cosman (32), Jim Dunegan (32), Milt Pappas (32), J.C. Martin (12), and Paul Popovich (22).
- For the 1971 Cubs, players who had uniform numbers ending in 2 were: Milt Pappas (32), J.C. Martin (12), and Paul Popovich (22).
To further narrow this down, the hitter in the video clip is batting left-handed. The pitchers Cosman, Dunegan and Pappas all bat right handed, eliminating them. Whittling down the list to Martin (a catcher) and Popovich (backup infielder), both players hit from the left side of the plate during the 1970 and 1971 seasons, both are white so none of that helps narrow things down.
Before we move on using the games that Moose and Clemente were involved in, let’s look at the final person in the footage. The centerfielder for the Pirates in this scene is left handed. The 1970 Pirates the only left-handed outfielders they had were Matty Alou (18), Al Oliver (16) and Willie Stargell (8). For the 1971 Pirates, the only left-handed outfielders they had were Vic Davalillo (18), Al Oliver (16) and Willie Stargell (8).
We know it ain’t Pops. The outfielder has a double digit number on the back. It’s pretty obvious the number is 16, but I won’t rule out my failing eyesight and I’ll leave in Davallilo/Alou. In 1970, Alou played 152 games in CF for the Pirates. In 1971, Al Oliver played 116 games in CF for the Pirates.
- Day game at Wrigley Field.
- Game during 1970 or 1971 season based on uniforms (Thanks Dressed to Nines).
- Pirates RHP #38 Bob Moose is the pitcher on mound (Thanks Baseball Almanac).
- Cubs hitter is either J.C. Martin (12) or Paul Popovich (22) (Thanks Baseball Almanac).
- Pirates CF is left-handed, most likely Al Oliver (16) but could be 1970 Matty Alou (18) or 1971 Vic Davalillo (18)
Now, let’s dig into Bob Moose’s (or is that Meeces) game log.
In 1970, Bob Moose pitched 2 games in Chicago against the Cubs.
May 27 – Complete Game
September 12 – 8 innings
May 27th - both Matty Alou and Clemente started. Both Popovich and Martin pinch hit. In Popovich’s at-bat, he got a single to RF. JC Martin hit a flyball to RF. So, we’ve met some criteria. One small oversight that I hadn’t brought up yet; there were no runners at 1st or 2nd base. When Martin hit his flyball in this game, Cleo James should have been standing on 1st base.
Likelihood: 7 out of 10.
September 12th - Clemente didn’t play.
Likelihood: 0 out of 10.
In 1971, Bob Moose pitched 3 games in Chicago against the Cubs.
June 9 – Complete Game (8 innings)
July 2 – Complete Game (9 innings)
September 14 – Relief appearance (5th thru 9th)
June 9th - Clemente and Oliver started as Davalillo would pinch hit but not play the field. For the Cubs, Martin sat and Popovich walked, grounded out, popped out on the infield and singled to RF.
Likelihood: 4 of 10.
July 2nd - Clemente and Oliver started. Popovich and Martin both started. Popovich in the 1st lined out to RF with no one on. In the 3rd, Martin flew out to RF to lead off the inning. In the 7th, Martin would leadoff with a lineout to CF and Popovich would flyout to CF with a runner on 1st.
Likelihood: 9 out of 10.
September 14 - Davalillo would start in CF with Clemente in RF. Popovich would play the whole game at 2B. Moose would pitch in relief from the 5th inning on. Popovich faced Moose twice, popping out to the shortstop and grounding into a force out.
Likelihood: 1 out of 10.
All Boxscores provided by Retrosheets.com.
And then there were 2. May 27th, 1970 and July 2nd, 1971. If my eyes are to be believed, this is a no brainer. It is the July 2nd, 1971 game in which Al Oliver started in CF, Clemente in RF and Clemente caught a ball hit by Popovich in the 1st and Martin in the 3rd. Now, the interesting part comes in deciphering which at-bat or inning this was.
To bring this whole study to conclusion, based on the tint of the color of the footage and the camera setup used, this appears to be an NBC Game of the Week. The July 2nd Game was on a Friday. Without access to a 1972 schedule, it is almost impossible to determine if this is the game in question.
Anyone with a schedule or access to archived TV listings, please share.
Ultimately, it is unknown whether this full broadcast exists or not. Without being able to directly ask Burns or without finding a collector with this broadcast in their collection, it becomes increasingly difficult to track down. A quick Google, Ebay and various listing sites shows no copies of ANY regular season games in 1971.
Perhaps this game too has vanished.