All-State Tournament: The Final Eight Is Complete!
Previously on The All-State Tournament
Everybody is waiting for the last team in the Final Eight. Will it be Ohio? Will it be Oklahoma? Let’s go … a classic awaits you.
Well … wait. Before we get to our final game, I should say it was really fun to see people try to guess who the final team would be. Everybody has opinions.
Minnesota was PROBABLY the last team out. It’s close, but the top of the Gopher State lineup is pretty darned good:
And they would start Jack Morris or Jerry Koosman, so that would be OK.
The trouble with Minnesota was simply depth. Their shortstop, for example, would probably have been Gene DeMontreville, a 19th-century player who, frankly, I’d never heard of. Their centerfielder would probably have been Rip Repulski. They just missed.
Michigan had an interesting team — Charlie Gehringer, Bobby Grich, loaded at catcher with Ted Simmons and Bill Freehan, John Smoltz on the mound — but they seemed to me to just lack a bit of depth. Michigan was definitely hurt by the format; because this tournament is about the states where the players were BORN, Michigan lost Derek Jeter (born in New Jersey, though he went to high school in Michigan).
Speaking of New Jersey — the Garden State had top-end talent with Jeter and Mike Trout, but it fell off pretty significantly from there and, with all respect to Al Leiter and Don Newcombe, I didn’t think they had the starting pitching to overcome that.
Iowa and Kansas had great starting pitching with Bob Feller and Walter Johnson, respectively, but their lineups did not quite make the grade — all respect to Cap Anson* and Joe Tinker fans.
*Are there really any Cap Anson fans?
South Carolina brought some real star power with Shoeless Joe, Larry Doby, Jim Rice, Al Rosen and Willie Randolph. Bobo Newsome would probably have been the starting pitcher — him or Van Lingle Mungo — and while those are all-time names, I’m not sure they would have been able to match up.
I honestly expected more from Missouri — I mean, you start with Yogi and can throw either Max Scherzer or Carl Hubbell. But the depth was not quite there. If we ever do this tournament again (unlikely), it definitely would be fun to have a few more states participating.
I can’t do EVERY state right now, but here are a few others:
Colorado: Roy Halladay gets the start, but the lineup will have to rely on some big things from the state’s all-time home run leader, Chase Headley.
Kentucky: Senator Jim Bunning with the start; he’s hoping for big offense from Pee Wee Reese and the original Louisville Slugger, Pete Browning.
Massachusetts: There’s a good old-timey team here with Mickey Cochrane, Rabbit Maranville, Pie Traynor and so on, surrounding Jeff Bagwell.
Mississippi: A good team with an outfield of Dave Parker, Cool Papa Bell and Chet Lemon (with Ellis Burks DHing). That matches up with most teams. Frank White is at second. Roy Oswalt is on the mound. Alas, it does fall off from there.
Nevada: No Hall of Famers were born in the Silver State, but Bryce Harper will be in the Hall someday. And Greg Maddux, while born in Texas, would certainly consider himself to be a Nevadan.
Oregon: An outfield of Dave Kingman, Dale Murphy and Jacoby Ellsbury is interesting. Harold Reynolds plays second and does postgame interviews.
Vermont: Carlton Fisk would have to carry the load … and he wouldn’t; he unquestionably would refuse to play for the Vermont team as he always considered himself from New Hampshire.
Virginia: Justin Verlander obviously gets the start. The lineup would be built around David Wright.
Washington: You could put together a pretty good team here, surrounding Hall of Famers Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg. I’m thinking Jon Lester would start.
West Virginia: The state has George Brett and Bill Mazeroski, neither of whom grew up in West Virginia. You would probably start World Series hero Lew Burdette.
Wisconsin: A great trio of ancient pitchers — Kid Nichols, Addie Joss and Burleigh Grimes — highlight the Badger State’s team.
A special word about Puerto Rico — not a state, of course, but if it ever does become one, this is one heck of a lineup:
Roberto Alomar*, 2B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Roberto Clemente*, RF
Orlando Cepeda*, 1B
Carlos Correa, SS
Carlos Delgado, DH
Ivan Rodriguez*, C
Jose Cruz, LF
Jose Valentin, 3B
*Hall of Famer
There’s absurd depth here too — Francisco Lindor is your backup shortstop, Bernie Williams your backup centerfielder, Yadi Molina, Jorge Posada and Benito Santiago your backup catchers, Juan Gonzalez your backup DH — it’s nutty.
And if Puerto Rico was a real team, the plan would be to trade some of that incredible depth for some starting pitching, because that proves to be a challenge — especially in a long series. The Game 1 starter would have to be Javier Vazquez, and it falls off pretty fast from there.
Recap: No. 8 Ohio vs. No. 9 Oklahoma
“Now it is done.” That’s how Red Smith began his story on the Shot Heard Round the World, the Bobby Thomson home run that won the Giants the pennant. “Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there’s no way to tell it.”
So it is with Ohio vs. Oklahoma.
Everyone knew before the first pitch that this Ohio-Oklahoma game was different from the rest. So many stars. Mantle. Schmidt. Bench. Clemens. Stargell. Rose. “We are battling for nothing less than the letter O,” Oklahoma’s Paul Waner said before the game.
“We better win,” Pete Rose responded. “We need the letter O for ‘odds.’”
Many pundits reduced this matchup to a clash between Rose and his longtime teammate, friend and nemesis Johnny Bench. The two men are locked together in baseball history, not always comfortably. They won two World Series together and were at the heart and soul of that extraordinary Big Red Machine.
This is called foreshadowing.
The game was expected to be a pitchers’ duel, with Bullet Rogan and Roger Clemens matching fastballs, and for four and a half innings, neither team came close to scoring. In the bottom of the fifth, though, everything changed. Rogan got David Justice to ground out to shortstop Willie Wells, and on the next pitch it looked like he got George Sisler to do the same. But on Sisler’s grounder, Wells threw the ball in the dirt and Stargell couldn’t quite dig it out.
The error seemed to shake Rogan’s rhythm. He threw a high fastball that Ohio’s Garry Maddox ripped into the gap in left-center for a double. After a four-pitch walk to Barry Larkin loaded the bases, Rogan got ahead of Pete Rose 0-2. But then his inside curveball clipped Rose’s elbow for a hit-by-pitch.
“It didn’t hit me!” Rose yelled as umpire Bill Klem pointed to first base.
“Of course, it hit you, Pete,” Klem said. “Take your base.”
“I don’t want it,” Rose shouted. “I can hit this guy! I want to hit!”
“Take your base, Rose,” Klem said, “or I’m throwing you out of this game.”
“I can hit this guy,” Rose muttered as he ran full-speed to first. Later, when asked if he had hit Rose, Bullet Rogan said: “Yeah, it hit him; my only regret is I didn’t hit him with my fastball.”
The hit-by-pitch gave Ohio a 1-0 lead, which became 2-0 when Mike Schmidt hit a slow roller down the third-base line — Hank Thompson’s only play was at first base. Jimmy Wynn’s single scored Barry Larkin and, even though all three runs were unearned, Ohio led 3-0.
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With Clemens on the mound, that seemed like more than enough. He took the lead into the ninth inning — the Rocket had allowed just four hits and no Oklahoma runner had even reached third base. When he struck out Mickey Mantle to lead off the ninth, Oklahoma’s hopes seemed dim. After walking Johnny Bench, the Rocket struck out Willie Stargell … and hope moved from dim to lost.
But then Clemens threw a low fastball to Joe Carter — just where Carter likes it — and Carter ripped a double off the wall in left field to bring the tying run to the plate.
That tying run was Matt Holliday. He had faced Clemens six times in real life … and had crunched three hits, including a home run. As he stepped to the plate, Holliday turned to his son Jackson — who was sitting in the crowd smiling just a couple of days after being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft — and he appeared to wink.
Holliday then blasted a three-run home run to tie the game.
Already, in Oklahoma, it is known as the Wink Homer.
“It was a bold move,” Jackson Holliday told reporters after the game. “I wouldn’t do that with Clemens on the mound.”
“Nah, I didn’t wink,” Holliday would say afterward, “I can’t wink.” He then winked at the reporters.
Clemens was, indeed, furious. He raced to the plate and attempted to pick up Holliday’s bat — it is unclear what he hoped to do with it — but Ohio catcher Thurman Munson grabbed him and screamed “Get your a** back to the mound,” which Clemens dutifully did. He retired Hank Thompson to end the inning. Rogan shut down the Ohio attack in the bottom of the ninth, and the game went into extra innings.
Oklahoma threatened in the top of the 10th, but Clemens shut the door by striking out Mantle for the second time.
Pete Rose led off the bottom of the 10th with a single. “I told you, I can hit this guy,” Rose shouted as he rounded first base. “I probably should have hit him again,” Rogan said afterward.
Mike Schmidt followed with a single to put runners on first and second. And then Jimmy Wynn, who went to high school just five miles away from Rose, smashed a single to center. Rose never even considered stopping at third, and Mantle’s throw to the plate took two bounces, but was online.
The ball, Pete Rose and catcher Johnny Bench all reached the same spot in front of the plate at the exact same time. What followed will be talked about for as long as baseball exists. Rose crashed into Bench. The collision was mighty and seemed to happen in slow motion.
Bench fell backward and Rose plowed through him. It appeared that Bench would hold on to the ball, but at the very last second his hand hit the ground and the ball popped free. Bench dropped the ball. Rose was safe. And Ohio won.
“I’m sorry I knocked you over,” Rose would tell Bench after the game.
“No, you’re not,” Bench said.
“You blocked the entire plate, how do you expect me …”
“You did what you had to do,” Bench admitted. “You beat me. You wanted it more than me.”
BOXSCORE: Oklahoma At Ohio 7/19/2022 Oklahoma AB R H RBI Ohio AB R H RBI W.Wells SS 5 0 2 0 B.Larkin SS 4 1 0 0 P.Waner RF 5 0 0 0 P.Rose 2B 4 1 1 0 M.Mantle CF 4 0 0 0 M.Schmidt 3B 4 0 1 1 J.Bench C 1 1 0 0 J.Wynn DH 5 0 2 2 W.Stargell 1B 4 0 0 0 E.Delahanty LF 4 0 0 0 J.Carter DH 4 1 1 0 T.Munson C 4 0 0 0 M.Holliday LF 4 1 3 3 D.Justice RF 4 0 2 0 H.Thompson 3B 3 0 0 0 G.Sisler 1B 3 1 0 0 J.Ray 2B 4 0 0 0 G.Maddox CF 3 1 1 1 -- -- -- --- -- -- -- --- Totals 34 3 6 3 Totals 35 4 7 4 Oklahoma........ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 - 3 6 1 Ohio............ 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 - 4 7 1 Oklahoma (0-1) IP H R ER BB SO HR PC ERA B.Rogan LOSS(0-1) 9 7 4 1 4 3 0 148 1.00 Ohio (1-0) IP H R ER BB SO HR PC ERA R.Clemens WIN(1-0) 10 6 3 3 5 9 1 145 2.70 ATTENDANCE- 42,319 DATE- Tuesday, July 10th 2022 TIME- Day T- 2:38 LEFT ON BASE- Oklahoma: 6 Ohio: 8 DOUBLE PLAYS- Oklahoma: 0 Ohio: 1 ERRORS- W.Wells, T.Munson DOUBLES- J.Carter(1st), M.Holliday(1st), G.Maddox(1st) HOME RUNS- M.Holliday(1st) RBIs- M.Holliday-3(3rd), M.Schmidt(1st), J.Wynn-2(2nd), G.Maddox(1st) STOLEN BASES- W.Wells(1st), M.Holliday(1st) CAUGHT STEALING- W.Wells WALKS- M.Mantle, J.Bench-3, H.Thompson, B.Larkin, M.Schmidt, G.Sisler, G.Maddox HIT BY PITCH- P.Rose STRIKEOUTS- W.Wells-2, P.Waner, M.Mantle-2, J.Bench, W.Stargell-2, J.Carter, M.Schmidt, J.Wynn, G.Sisler GIDP- J.Carter 2-out RBI- J.Wynn, M.Holliday-3 RLISP 2-out- H.Thompson, J.Carter, E.Delahanty, P.Waner-2 TEAM RISP- Oklahoma: 2 for 6 Ohio: 2 for 4
The updated bracket:
Wow, no respect for NJ-born Hall of Famer Joe Medwick ;)
Oh, this gives me a forum to ask: I never got why Arrested Development used the picture of Rose sliding with the air horn. Can anyone explain?