THIS DAY IN SP78 HISTORY
August 20, 1990

In the fourth of an SP78-record eight games played today, backstop Jim Sundberg was injured during a Texas-Oakland match-up at site SD3, and it was only then discovered that the Rangers did not have a backup catcher on the bench; utility infielder Kurt Bevacqua was called upon to catch the game’s final three innings, won by the A’s 6-3. Oakland outfielder Mitchell Page broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth with an RBI single, then added some insurance with a 2-run home run to greet reliever Steve Comer in the eighth. Matt Keough picked up the win to improve to 6-2, with Dock Ellis dropping to 2-5 with the loss.  (Game #465,  5/17/78)

Major League Baseball

Inside the SP78 Vault: McDonald’s Baseball Quiz

It was a summer evening in 1978, perhaps on a calendar day close to where I am right now in my SP78 season, and my parents had taken my brother, sister, and I out to dinner at our local McDonald’s in Escondido, California. Their current promotion, apparently available only at Southern California restaurants, featured a baseball quiz card given to customers with every Big Mac purchase; the prize was a free Big Mac to fans who answered the multiple-choice quiz question correctly. As you can see, I did just that, during the drive home after leaving the restaurant:

And it wasn’t guesswork, either: I actually knew the answer to the question, without the luxury of on-line stats, scores, and game recaps instantly available at my fingertips. Instead, I studied the daily sports pages and the annual Street & Smith baseball guides, and I watched ABC’s Monday Night Baseball and the NBC Game of the Week on Saturdays, and went to Padres games at San Diego Stadium whenever I could. I actually cared about baseball back then, which made answering this question a cinch.

And as you’ve noticed, I kept this particular game card, which means I did not get myself a free Big Mac on my next visit to McDonald’s that summer. But that’s okay…I’m glad I still own this rare piece of baseball memorabilia, since that Big Mac would’ve been long gone and forgotten by now. I tried to find another quiz card like this one on-line, but even eBay doesn’t have one to offer, so maybe mine has some real value to it. Or maybe it’s worth nothing more than a Big Mac…just as long as I redeem it before October 8, 1978.

July AL Award Winners Announced!

And now it’s time for the American League award winners for July, coming on the heels of current AL stats recently being finalized through the end of that month. 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 on the main menu above.

AL Player of the Month
Graig Nettles, New York Yankees
.333 BA, 39 hits, 10 home runs, 23 RBI, 2-HR game, Diamond Glove

AL Pitcher of the Month
Mike Caldwell, Milwaukee Brewers
4-0, 0.68 ERA, 4 CG, 3 shutouts, pitched the second SP78 no-hitter

Fire Chief Trophy
Don Stanhouse, Baltimore Orioles
4-0, 5 saves

Crystal Slugger Award
Reggie Jackson, New York Yankees
.712 slugging percentage

Barnes Memorial Trophy
Buddy Bell, Cleveland Indians
.364 batting average

Bradley Memorial Trophy
Mike Caldwell, Milwaukee Brewers
0.68 earned run average

Diamond Glove Award
C – Jim Sundberg, Texas Rangers
1B – Andre Thornton, Cleveland Indians
2B – Bobby Grich, California Angels
SS – Luis Gomez, Toronto Blue Jays
3B – Graig Nettles, New York Yankees
OF – Steve Kemp, Detroit Tigers
OF – Rick Manning, Cleveland Indians
OF – Dwight Evans, Boston Red Sox

Iron Glove Award
Robin Yount, Milwaukee Brewers
10 errors – SS

Hothead of the Month Award
Ross Baumgarten, Chicago White Sox
1 ejection and 1 suspension

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

Plus-.500 July Gives Jays Something to Celebrate

It’s been a long season for the second-year Toronto Blue Jays, who’ve struggled for wins after opening the SP78 campaign with a promising 4-1 won-lost record. Currently, however, they’re a woeful 43-60, the second-worst record in the American League, and good for last place in the AL East. And with no hope of capturing a division crown, the Jays of ’78 can only play out the string, acting as possible spoilers to the Tigers, Brewers, and Yankees and looking ahead to 1979. With nothing to boast overall but Bob Bailor’s current .308 average and John Mayberry’s 16 home runs, the Blue Jays can at least be proud of their hard work in July, which netted them not only their first winning month of the season, at 15-13, but the first of their short existence as well.

Leading the way in July was third baseman Roy Howell, who batted .355 with 38 hits, outfielder Bailor, who went 36-for-107 and hit .336, and utility player Doug Ault, who banged four home runs in just 13 games, good for 11 RBI. And though starting pitchers Tom Underwood and Jim Clancy both went 1-4 for the month, Jesse Jefferson surprised everyone with a 4-1 mark and a 2.87 earned run average, while spot starter Jerry Garvin finished the month with three wins, three complete games, and a 2.48 ERA. In the bullpen, closer Victor Cruz continues to impress, saving four games and leading the team with a 1.13 ERA; middle reliever Joe Coleman was also a surprise, going 2-0 with an ERA of 1.59 in seven games. And kudos should also go to Rick Bosetti, who with a base stealing rating of D stole Toronto’s only base of the month, and just the fifth for the team this season.

To take a look at the Blue Jays team page for results and statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will now be added to each AL team throughout the coming weeks, and award winners for July will be posted soon.

Hot July Puts Rangers on Track for First AL Flag

Of all the teams currently in contention for a division crown, I’d say the Texas Rangers are the most surprising of the bunch; their superb 20-9 record in July has them sitting comfortably in first place in the AL West, five games ahead of the defending AL champion Royals, and 6½ ahead of the Twins. The Rangers have yet to have a losing month, and their current mark of 64-41 is well ahead of last season’s pace, one that gave the ’77 squad a final record of 94-68, the best in the team’s short six-year history in Texas.

Everything seems to be going right for the Rangers this season, with four batters—Bump Wills, Al Oliver, Juan Beniquez, and Johnny Grubb—hitting over .300, starting pitchers Jon Matlack (16-3) and Fergie Jenkins (14-6) rolling towards twenty wins, and three relievers—Reggie Cleveland, Steve Comer, and Danny Darwin—sporting ERA’s under 2.00. The team leads the AL in stolen bases, with 148, and Wills is third with 54, behind Seattle’s Julio Cruz and Detroit’s Ron LeFlore. In July, Wills was the team’s leading batter, with 40 hits, 23 runs scored, and a .364 batting average, but an argument could be made for Grubb, who in just 18 games went 38-for-73, good for a robust .521. And though Matlack and Jenkins were no surprise with 4-1 won-lost marks for the month, Doc Medich stunned everyone with a 4-1 mark of his own, a 1.86 ERA, and three complete games in five starts.

To take a look at the Rangers team page for statistics 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.

The First SP78 Photograph

As surprising as this may sound, I played nearly 12 years of my SP78 Replay baseball season before finally deciding to take a photograph of the game itself. The very first in-game photo was taken on June 23rd, 1992, during a trip my friend Steve P and I took to San Luis Obispo, a small college town located on the central coast of California; the self-portrait below took place that night in the room of the Motel 6 where we were staying.


It was the only SP78 game played during our trip, and this was the only photo taken of the game. What’s strange is, Steve didn’t take part in the festivities, either as an opposing manager or as a spectator; you can’t tell from the photo, but he’s fast asleep in the other bed, to the right of the camera frame, where he’s missing out on a May 26, 1978 match-up between the Reds and Padres, won by the Reds 5-3 in 11 innings.

And if you’re wondering what that large, white something is that’s blocking a good portion of the photo, it’s the top edge of the television where my camera was perched, high up on the adjacent wall. In the days before digital cameras and their small viewscreens, I had to trust what I saw through the viewfinder; thus, I ended up with a photo that wasn’t quite as unobstructed as I’d hoped. And since I was shooting with film, I didn’t have the option to take thousands of photos on a media card, so I only took this one shot, and hoped the image would come out okay.

Now, I have a digital camera and a cell phone for my SP78 picture-taking needs, and within the coming months I’ll be adding the dozens upon dozens of game-related photos I’ve taken over the years to the site, which you’ll be able to find by clicking the Photo Gallery dropdown at the top of the main page. Until then, enjoy this shot of me in my 29-year-old prime, leading my favorite team to victory while wearing a Cubs cap and enjoying an ice-cold can of vending machine Pepsi.