Ump Denies Dave Wickersham 20th Win

From the 1964 Topps Giant set,
foreshadowing “Wick’s” giant year!

Pitcher Dave Wickersham amazed me. Here was my question:

“In the book THE BALLPLAYERS, it reads in part about you: “…going 19-12 and missing a 20-win season only because of his first ejection from a ballgame.” What’s missing from the story?

Instead of a simple, “I was robbed,” Wickersham recounted the entire shocking episode. How can history slip through your fingers? Relive the fateful day in the hurler’s own words:

“The score was 1-1 in the seventh in Yankee Stadium. Men on first and third with two outs. Phil Linz bunted a ball towards first base. Norm Cash could stand on first base and field the ball. The ball was going so slow that Linz could almost outrun it.

The ball was rolling and took a teeny hop. It hit Cash’s glove and dropped to the ground. He immediately picked it up as he stood on the base.

The umpire Bill Valentine called Linz safe (the runner on third scored, the runner on first went to second base.) I thought Linz was safe. Cash started jumping up and down (he had the ball). Valentine started walking away down the right field foul line, Cash right beside him hollering at him (still holding the ball). The runner on second started for third.

I hollered, “Time out!” Nothing happened to my request. Valentine and Cash were getting further down the right field line. The runner on second base kept going towards third base. I hollered, “Time Out” again louder! Still nothing.

So I start running down the field toward Cash and Valentine. I come up to Valentine from behind and tap him on his left shoulder and said, ‘Time Out, Bill!’ He turned to me and said, ‘You’re out of here.’

I was shocked. I started walking towards our third base dugout. When I crossed an imaginary line behind the pitcher’s mound and home plate, John Stevens the home plate umpire said to me, ‘Where are you going?’

I told him through tears (I had never been kicked out of anything before in my life), ‘He kicked me out.’

Then I headed to the dugout and up to the locker room. When a player is kicked out, he is fined automatically ($50 minimum back then). And I never got notification of a fine. We won the game, 4-2, in nine innings. That supposed out at first base would have put the game into the top of the 8th.

Lots more happened after that and Valentine has since admitted that I should not have been thrown out. I also told him I thought his safe call was the correct call.”

Be sure to check out the fantastic batter-by-batter account offered by

Norm Cash for Minnie Minoso? White Sox Drop the Ball on Pitcher Jake Striker

Cleveland Indians general manager Frank Lane loved a deal. Any deal. He’d swap players like kids trading baseball cards.

On Dec. 6, 1959, he pulled off a seven-player deal with the Chicago White Sox. Pitcher Jake Striker helped sweeten the deal for Chicago. Striker shared his memories of that transaction in a thoughtful letter:

“As for the big trade, I was disappointed for two reasons. First, I was going to a pennant-winning team, which is hard to crack the roster. Second, Cleveland was short on left-handers, so I felt very confident about the 1960 season. However, with “Trader Lane,” nothing stayed the same very long.

Back then, and still about the same, you first read about it (the trade) in the paper, then you are notified by mail.

I do think I should have been given a better opportunity to make the White Sox. But that’s part of the game.

I enjoyed my career in baseball very much. I played from 1952 through 1962, with two years out for military service.

You get to see and do a lot of things that most people dream about. We had some long bus rides in the early years, but travel improved as you moved up the ladder. You meet a lot of people outside baseball. You get to play with and against some of the great players of the game.”

Two relief outings. Just two. Eager to repeat as A.L. champions, the White Sox abandoned Striker. His upbeat attitude over the team’s impatience shows that his winning record stretches beyond that sole major league victory.

Pilot Jerry McNertney Never Forgot Seattle

Catcher Jerry McNertney found that his most productive season in a nine-year career came with the 1969 Seattle Pilots. Looking back, those career highs at bat weren’t the only things he missed about the Pacific Northwest. McNertney wrote:

“Wonderful time in Seattle! Great fans, loved the game! Great outdoors country! Wish we could have returned!”

McNertney relocated to Milwaukee, serving as opening-day catcher for the Brewers. He returned there in 2010 to relive those uncertain first days with the Brew Crew in a special ceremony.

Ribbed by author Jim Bouton in Ball Four
for his clean-cut Midwestern attitude, McNertney claimed years later that he never read the book. Bouton didn’t seem to recall McNertney’s one-day vacation from good behavior. McNertney wrote:

“That ejection in Detroit: I can’t remember the ump. But I remember the hitter and pitcher, Norm Cash and John Gelnar. We had him K’d, but the ump disagreed!”

The ever-fascinating uncovered McNertney’s clash with authority. Cash was awarded a walk. Subsequently, umpire Larry Napp provided McNertney a long walk back to the dugout, ejecting the normally-stoic backstop.

One of McNertney’s greatest accomplishments in baseball came in never forgetting his Iowa roots. His hometown honored him in 2009 with Jerry McNertney Day.

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