THIS DAY IN SP78 HISTORY
November 20, 2014

In the first game of a doubleheader at Candlestick Park, four Giants pitchers – Vida Blue, Randy Moffitt, Charlie Williams, and Gary Lavelle – combined to blank the Dodgers on five hits in a 1-0 win at site AZ14 in Gilbert, Arizona. The game’s only run was scored by Blue when he reached first on an error by LA starter Doug Rau, advanced to second on a balk, went to third on a base hit by Bill Madlock, then trotted home on Larry Herndon’s single to right. Blue improved to 12-5 with the win, and Lavelle earned his eighth save by pitching one inning of perfect relief. SF infielder Tom Heintzelman played his first game of the SP78 campaign after his call up from AAA Phoenix, taking over at third for Darrell Evans in the ninth.  (Game #1409,  8/3/78)

Major League Baseball

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July Another Positive Month for Halos

The California Angels enjoyed their second straight winning month in July, going 15-14 and moving from sixth to fifth place in the AL West with an overall record of 48-58. However, they’re still quite a long way from first, as they dropped to 16½ games behind the front-running Rangers, and three games back of the fourth place A’s. In contrast, the 1978 club at this point in the season was in second place with a mark of 56-50, just four games behind the Kansas City Royals, who went on to capture the division crown.

Third baseman Carney Lansford continued his bid for AL Rookie of the Year honors, batting .339 for the month with a team-leading 38 hits and nine doubles; for the season he has 144 hits in 102 games, good for a .335 mark. Designated hitter Don Baylor hit nine HRs and drove in 21 runners in July to lead California in the power department, and by the end of the month had reached the 30-HR plateau for the first time in his career; he also added a second 3-HR game to his list of SP78 achievements. And newcomer Dave Machemer made a statement after his mid-season call-up from Salt Lake City by hitting four home runs (two of them grand slams), collecting 14 RBI, and hitting .368 in just seven games with the parent club. On the mound, starter Dave Frost went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, and reliever Dave LaRoche went 2-0 with three saves and a 0.47 ERA, to lead an otherwise underachieving Angels pitching staff.

To check out the Angels statistics page for totals through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

Inside the SP78 Vault: 1978 Royals Program

For this first entry in this new series of posts, I take a look at my most recent addition to the vault, a 1978 game program for the Kansas City Royals. It’s an unscored copy I purchased off eBay a few weeks ago for $10.50…a full ten bucks more than it cost at the ballpark back in ’78. It’s in near-perfect condition, and from what I can gather from the insert scorecard pages, this copy was sold at a Royals-Red Sox game played on either May 15th or May 16th, when the two teams split a 2-game weeknight series at Royals Stadium.

What I noticed when I first leafed through the program was a photo and bio for pitcher Andy Hassler, included with the listings for other KC players; what’s odd about that is, in my SP78 season, he’s pitching for the Red Sox. A quick check on-line told me that he was purchased from the Royals by the Sox on July 24th. Of course, Avalon Hill chose to include him with the Boston player cards; if I’d known about these wacky AH decisions early on, I would’ve sent him back to Kansas City where he belonged.

With the purchase of this program, I now own all American League team programs for the AL West, and need only one from the Red Sox to complete the AL East. Look for more programs to be spotlighted here—along with other SP78 and 1978 baseball memorabilia—in the coming months!

Bosox Hoping for Miracle After Sub-Par July

During the actual 1978 season, it was the Red Sox who had the division lead at the end of July, compiling a 65-38 won-lost mark and holding a 5½ game lead over the second-place Brewers in the AL East. But things haven’t been so sweet for the Bosox during the SP78 campaign; they’re currently in fifth place, 15½ games back of the powerhouse Yankees, and saddled with an underwhelming 50-56 mark. In ’78, the miracle Yanks went from fourth to first in two months to capture the East flag; unfortunately, the Sox are going to have a much tougher time making that same turnaround.

Making matters worse was their 13-17 record in July, which included a dismal 3-12 run to round out the month. Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Carl Yastrzemski all batted over .300, but the team as a whole is sorely lacking in the power department, and Rice can’t seem to live up to his card’s 33-41 home run range and power rating of BD-2 (one of only two players in SP78 to carry such a rating). Their pitching is suspect as well: only three pitchers on the staff had an ERA less than 4.00 for the month, and Boston hurlers have thrown just one shutout all season. Dennis Eckersley (12-5) and Andy Hassler (6-1, one save) appear to be the only mound standouts for the Sox, and with zero help waiting in the AAA wings, it could be another long month for the Beantowners.

To take a peek at the Red Sox stat page for results through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all NL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

July W-L Record Best for O’s This Season

With a season best 16-13 won-lost mark for July, the Baltimore Orioles have remained on the edge of contention in their division, with two months left to close the 12-game gap between fourth place and the top spot in the AL East. And with nine games scheduled in August against the first-place Yankees, that gap could be shortened to a few games very quickly.

And with Ken Singleton, Eddie Murray, and Pat Kelly all hitting over .350 for the month, and starters Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor posting identical 4-1 records (and closer Don Stanhouse contributing with a 4-0 mark and five saves), the O’s seem poised and ready for a high-flying August. But to do so, they’ll have to improve their overall mound numbers: as a team, their ERA was a shocking 5.11, and seven pitchers went winless in July (Dennis Martinez was 0-4 with an embarrassing 10.20 earned run average). McGregor and Stanhouse have been the lone bright spots through the SP78 campaign; at 16-4, McGregor is well on his way to his first 20-win season, while Stanhouse has already equaled his career-best year for saves, with ten.

To check out the Orioles stat page for the season through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been chosen.

July NL Award Winners Announced!

Finally, three years after the slate of games for July was completed, the National League award winners for that month have been selected. Check out the complete list below; for a more detailed look at prior recipients, a description of each award, and photos of the trophies and plaques awarded, check the ‘SP78 Awards’ section of the Statistics dropdown link above.

NL Player of the Month
Richie Hebner, Philadelphia Phillies
.419 BA, 39 hits, 20 runs, 23 RBI, 2-HR game

NL Pitcher of the Month
Dick Ruthven, Philadelphia Phillies
4-0, 0.23 ERA, 2 shutouts, pitched the first SP78 no-hitter

Fire Chief Trophy
Doug Bair, Cincinnati Reds
1-0, 9 saves, 0.68 ERA, league-leading 16 appearances

Crystal Slugger Award
Richie Hebner, Philadelphia Phillies
.774 slugging percentage

Barnes Memorial Trophy
Richie Hebner, Philadelphia Phillies
.419 batting average

Bradley Memorial Trophy
Dick Ruthven, Philadelphia Phillies
0.23 earned run average

Diamond Glove Award
C – Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds
1B – Richie Hebner, Philadelphia Phillies
2B – Manny Trillo, Chicago Cubs
SS – Larry Bowa, Philadelphia Phillies
3B – Ron Cey, Los Angeles Dodgers
OF – Dave Kingman, Chicago Cubs
OF – George Foster, Cincinnati Reds
OF – Warren Cromartie, Montreal Expos

Iron Glove Award
Bill Almon, San Diego Padres
10 errors – 3B

Hothead of the Month Award
Gene Tenace, San Diego Padres
3 ejections

Also, two additional awards that were presented during the SP78 All-Star Game were recently discovered while I was researching historical notes from the game, and have now been included on the All-Star Game awards page.