Pioneers Series Returns

The series returned to a road course at Wakins Glen. With only fifteen cars on the grid, the event had the atmosphere of a club race, but there was still plenty of competition, starting in qualifying where Curtis Turner crashed and could not continue. Fireball Roberts took the pole, but wasn’t a factor in a race that still saw a half-dozen lead changes. Buck Baker struggled with tires and handling all afternoon, finishing well back, while Junior Johnson’s day was ruined by engine trouble — the sole retirement of the day knocking Johnson out of 4th place. Red Byron took the lead with twenty miles to go and was a strong performer the rest of the way, keeping ahead of the field with superior reflexes to take the checkered flag.

15 cars started, 14 finished. Winner: Red Byron #22 Olds (1)

From one of the smallest races of the year, the Pioneer series moved on to one of the largest, with 32 cars taking the green for the one mile dirt oval at Langhorne. Fireball Roberts was on the pole for the second straight race, but he retired early with engine trouble. Joe Eubanks ran strongly all day and earned the win; with Buck Baker finishing 22nd, the championship standings narrowed. And by making the field (even if he didn’t finish the race), Donald Thomas because the final driver of the year to score his first points.

32 cars started, 23 finished. Winner: Joe Eubanks #82 Hudson (1)

The Pioneer series rolled into Darlington, South Carolina for 301 miles on the intermediate paved track. Though the purse for this spring race is smaller than the Southern 500 that will be hosted here in the summer, Darlington still turned out a fast field, with an anxious Fireball Roberts looking to convert on his third straight pole. Roberts would finish sixth, while it was Herb Thomas who claimed the victory, taking the lead as the lead pack shuffled in the final pit stops. Joe Eubanks finished second, just missing back-to-back victories. Buck Baker had more tire troubles and finished 19th, again opening the door for the rest of the field to claw closer in the championship.

26 cars started, 23 finished. Winner: Herb Thomas, #92 Hudson (1)

The season grinds on the half-mile paved oval at Hickory, North Carolina. Fonty Flock took the pole while Buck Bakers recent woes continued, and he failed to qualify. The race got off to a rocky start when recent winners Joe Eubanks and Herb Thomas took each other out, escalating their feud and bringing out an early yellow. That set the tone for a race full of duels and mechanical mayhem. where almost a third of the field failed to finish. When the literal smoke cleared, Brownie King had taken the win — the first win of the year for Chevy — and fourth place Fireball Roberts moved into second in the championship, now just 28 points behind Baker.

23 cars started, 15 finished. Winner: Brownie King #32 Chevy (1)

Back to the future, as Daytona magically evolves into a paved superspeedway, and the Pioneers series comes to town for a 250. Fireball Roberts claims another pole, ahead of a particularly fast field (with Brownie King’s set-up in second place getting some grumbles). And it was a hot field in more ways than one, with at least a half-dozen new and simmering feuds brewing up and down pit lane. But the race itself was a relatively measured affair, with Eddie Pagan coming out on top for his first race of the year, and Fireball Roberts finally capitalizing on his qualifying efforts with a second-place finish, enough to put him atop the championship when Baker faded in the closing laps.

29 cars started, 23 finished. Winner: Eddie Pagan #45 Ford (1)

Oglethorp Speedway Park’s half-mile dirt oval in Pooler, Georgia is the next stop on the Pioneer circuit. Ralph Moody claimed the pole, with Championship leaders Roberts, Baker, Turner, and Beam also in the small field of 19 starters. When race leader Herb Thomas retired with radiator troubles with about thirty laps to go, Buck Baker moved into first for a much-needed win (his fourth on the young year), moving back atop the points standings.

19 cars started, 17 finished. Winner: Buck Baker #87 Olds (4)

The middle part of the Pioneer series features bigger racers, and 27 cars took the green at Martinsville, going for a $6000 purse. Eddie Skinner scored the surprise pole, while the race stewards were active, sending Bill Rexford to the back of the field for a suspect set-up, and announcing sanctions against Jimmie Lewallen, docking him 104 points against past performance, dropping him five spots in the championship. There have been rumors all year of a rift in the Flock family, and it came to a head at mid-race distance, as Tim Flock knocked his brother Fonty out of the race. Tim kept that aggression goiung in the closing laps, with a furious charge from the middle of the pack to take his second win of the year, and leapfrog Fireball Roberts for second place in the championship.

27 cars started, 21 finished. Winner: Tim Flock #91 Hudson (2)

Standings after fourteen races — a bit less than one third of the season:

1966-67 Concludes

Night 19

Montreal 1 @ Boston 4

New York 6 @ Detroit 3 … Rangers play their way back to .500 with their sixth-straight game scoring at least one point.

(Blast) Toronto 1 @ Chicago 4 … With Boston beating Montreal, the Leafs need to find points on the toughest ice in the league. And in the opening seconds, the Blackhawks’ Ed Van Impe gave Toronto a Chicago welcome by cheap-shotting Bob Pulford. But rather than be cowed, the Leafs rallied, and Pulford assisted Mike Walton’s breakway goal with a long lead pass through Jim Pappin to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. The rest of the period was characterized by grinding and chippy play, but while tensions were high, neither team consented to a fight. The second period got off to a controversial start, as Kenny Wharram’s shot deflected back into Stan Mikita’s mid-section, then several bodies piled into the goal; the refs let the hometown goal stand. But rather than fold, the Leafs got mad, with their third defensive line of Hillman and Stanley developing momentum with big hits (and a cheap shot on Chicago’s Bill Hay, which really seemed to cow the Blackhawks). The rest of the period — again — was a lot of grinding and chirping, and the teams went into the second intemission tied 1-1. Chicago opened the final period with a quick goal when Bobby Hull deflected one off the post past Sawchuk. And with that, the ice seemed to tilt against Toronto, and the Leafs — who needed everything to go right this game to earn points — saw it all go wrong. The Blackhawks got a goal from their third defensive line, then Doug Mohns added another, and the game was all over but the grinding. Chicago is just too good.

Night 20 — End of Regular Season

Chicago 5 @ New York 7 … Possibly looking forward to the playoffs, the Blackhawks take the third period off and are outscored by four to lose the game and spoil G Hall’s stellar season, giving their goalie his first loss, and seeing his GAA baloon from 1.80 to 2.27.

Boston 3 @ Detroit 10 … Woof! Boston destroys their goal differential in the final game of the season in a blowout loss, guaranteeing they cannot qualify for the playoffs.

(Blast) Montreal 2 @ Toronto 5 … The final game of the regular season amounts to a playoff game as one team will be eliminated tonight. With a win or a tie, Montreal will make the playoffs; with a loss, they go home, and Toronto will leapfrog both the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins on goal differential. But the start for the Leafs left them feeling cursed. Ron Ellis was whistled for diving in the first minute, which Montreal immediately converted to a powerplay goal. But Ellis redeemed himself with a goal in the closing minutes of the first, then assisted on Dave Keon’s score moments later, and the Leafs went into the intermission with a one goal lead. But the second period wasn’t four minutes old before the Leafs felt snakebit again, with Leon Rochefort scoring his first goal of the year, tying the score. It took until the third period before Toronto started to believe, when John Brenneman scored the go-ahead goal from the Leaf’s own fourth line … and when Dave Keon scored on the breakaway, even the Maple Leafs Garden crowd began to believe. And when Marcel Pronovost scored the empty-netter for Toronto, even the Leafs believed it was true. Toronto had made the playoffs!

Playoffs

The Stanley Cup playoffs were little more than a victory lap for the Blackhawks, who swept Toronto in the first round (allowing only one goal in the process), before allowing nine goals to the Rangers … while still sweeping the series to win the Cup. The sole excitement of the post season was New York’s seven game series win over Detroit, in a series they led 3-0, and needed a Game Seven overtime to put away the pesky Red Wings.

Awards

Prince of Wales Trophy: Chicago Blackhawks

Art Ross Trophy: Bobby Hull, Chicago

Calder Memorial Trophy: Bobby Orr, Boston

Hart Trophy: Phil Esposito, Chicago

James Norris Memorial Trophy: Bobby Orr, Boston

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Dave Keon, Toronto

Vezina Trophy: Glenn Hall & Denis DeJordy, Chicago

Analysis

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago. That’s it, that’s the analysis.

This was a fun replay, though as is often the case with these things, you run out of interest before you run out of games. It helped a lot that I customized my cards with team colors and logos — I got a little charge of nostalgia every time I put a team on the table. I thought about finishing the season out entirely with Shoot-Out, but instead I doubled-down and concentrated on running playoff-critical games with Blast, getting onboard with Toronto and New York as they made their playoff runs. I’m glad I did.

My replay has too much offense, entirely down to the over-performance of Chicago’s top two lines. I can’t pin this on one game or the other, really — I played ten Chicago games with Hockey Blast, and ten with Shoot-Out. (I don’t have scoring records on a game-by-game basis, but if I had to guess, I’d say Bobby Hull in particular was a little too fearsome in Blast). Penalty minutes were also up, which meant a few extra powerplays (which seem especially deadly in Shoot-Out). But small sample and etc. etc. Plus the reason you play these games is to see a new history unfold, so for me it was Montreal’s fade and Detroit’s late surge that characterized the season. I have no explanation for how Chico Maki swallowed half of Stan Mikita’s assists. I likewise can’t account for how Terry Sawchuck lost so many games yet the Leafs still made the playoffs.

If the game is to be believed, though, Toronto’s historical Stanley Cup championship was a fluke. Chicago was better in every way, at least on paper. No Toronto fan will want to hear that, of course — that Cup in 66-67 has a mythic quality for Leafs fans. But that really was a hell of an upset.

And that’s that! Congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks, as dominant in my 60s project as the Canadiens were in my 1950s league. I doubt I will start another hockey project for awhile. I have an idea for doing the inaugural WHA season as my 70s project, but there’s no rush, and indeed it may not happen at all.

Thanks for reading.

Home Stretch 1966-67

Night 14

Detroit 2 @ Montreal 6

New York 2 @ Toronto 2 … Leafs pull their goalie and Bob Pulford ties it in the final minutes.

(Blast) Boston 1 @ Chicago 6 … It’s hard enough to beat Chicago when Bobby Hull scores twice — as he did in this game — when when Blackhawks reserve like Bill Hay picks up a hat trick, well, there’s just no chance at all. Adding to Boston’s humiliation: the three goals he scored tonight marked the first three points of the season for Hay.

Night 15

Chicago 6 @ Toronto 3

Detroit 3 @ New York 3

(Blast) Boston @ Montreal … Habs outwork Boston to score a gritty goal in the final seconds of the first period,beating a clearly exhausted Bruins shift. When Richard was against assisted by linemates Tremblay and Rousseau in the opening seconds of the following period, the rout was on. Montreal added a goal from Cournoyer, but he could have taken the night off as Charlie Hodge put up a shutout. After starting the season with surprising success, the Bruins have now gone five games without a point, and have fallen into last place.

Night 16

Chicago 4 @ Boston 6 … Upset of the season as lowly Boston breaks their five-game slide against Chicago in front of a raucos Boston Garden crowd. (Blackhawks still clinched the league, thanks to Montreal’s loss).

Montreal 2 @ Detroit 6

(Blast) Toronto 3 @ New York 5 … Eight different skaters lit the lamp in a game characterized by spectacular shots that a brick wall couldn’t have stopped. No scoring in a snooze of a third period where both teams fell into a lull. Critical points for a New York team that has disappointed this season; tallying the most goals in their last five games, the Rangers hope this marks an uptick for the squad as the schedule winds down.

Night 17

New York 5 @ Boston 3

Detroit 5 @ Toronto 3

(Blast) Chicago 2 @ Montreal 0 … A tight-checking contest with the atmosphere of a playoff game, despite the Blackhawks having already clinched the title. The match was scoreless through two periods. But Chicago won it with a pair of lightning strikes in a third period that was otherwise one long lull. The Habs could take solace that their game plan held Bobby Hull to a single assist on the night, but a loss is a loss, and there is no column for moral victories in the standings. Shutout for Denis DeJordy tightens the Vezina Cup race with team mate Glenn Hall.

Night 18

Toronto 3 @ Boston 6

Detroit 1 @ Chicago 3

New York 6 @ Montreal 1 … Huge win as the Rangers play their best game of the year to keep their playoff hopes alive. John Ferguson gave the home side something to cheer about when he out-punched Arnie Brown in the closing minutes of the game, and with a minute left the Habs broke the shutout with a powerplay goal. But Rod Gilbert struck back with a laser at the buzzer that emphasized a scoreboard that left no doubt about who was the victor tonight.

With two games left in the season, Chicago has locked up the championship and made a mockery of league scoring records. The rest of the league is underwater, both playing below .500 and suffering a negative goal differential. There is a three-way time for the fourth and final playoff spot, with the Toronto Maple Leafs (the real-life Stanley Cup champions for 1966-67) looking very much like they will miss out.

Century League Week 3

A shake-up at the top of the league this week as Burlington rides a winning streak into first place!

Greenville Mutuals vs. Jackson Grays (2-1 Mutuals)

Fred Choate opened the series with a gem for Jackson, scattering nine hits in a complete game shutout while striking out eight Mutuals … The Mutuals struck back by pounding out 22 hits in the second game, led by Wheels Brown going 6-for-6 (stealing two bases along the way, and clubbing a grand slam in his last at-bat) … Grays were rolling in the third game before the Mutuals stunned Bull Zielinski with a pair of ninth inning homeruns, including a pinch hit two-run shot by Score Board Scott; Greenville also welcome Dog Dalhousie back from injury this game in what feels like the start of something big for the Mutuals. HOT: Brown (Greenville) Grossko (Jackson) NOT: Smythe (Greenville) Miller (Jackson)

Springfield Colonels vs. Fairview Saints (2-1 Saints)

The struggling Colonels shake up their lineup, benching Elbows Cockrell and bringing in Roy Fitzgerald to play first base and bat fifth; Fitzgerald doesn’t pass the “eye test” but he’s the only bat that’s shown results for Springfield on the young season.

Saints rode another strong start by Win Southerland to victory in the opener … Howie Razzo goes two innings to save a much-needed win for Springfield, though he owes an assist to the wind at Lake Front Field, which turned Hi Litmer’s potential go-ahead, pinch hit homerun into a long out to end the eighth … Saints break it open late to take the series, as Mel Voiselle goes the distance. HOT: Merrano (Fairview) Noyes (Springfield) NOT: Rauch (Fairview) Klaus (Springfield).

Asked about his teams woes after the game, Colonels skipper Cal Malone said, “Well, our problem is we can’t hit. And we can’t pitch, either.” It’s looking like a long season for Springfield.

Madison Maroons vs. Clayton Brown Stockings (2-1 Brown Stockings)

Home at last, and riding high from their series win in Greenvile, Gus Cross’ Brown Stockings arrive at War Memorial Park a happy squad, eager to stake uncontested claim to first place over the visiting Madison Maroons. Beef Burgo, especially, seems like a new man, convinced he can shake his recent cold spell thanks to an adjustment in his swing. The Maroons, meanwhile, are also a cheerful squad, feeling like they are playing with house money after bouncing back to win their own series versus Greenfield.

The opener was a “pitcher’s duel,” as Ned Vines went the distance for Madison despite surrendering eight runs on 14 hits (because his own guys managed 15 runs on 21 hits) … Clayton got length from the next day’s starter in Lou Trask, who went 7 2/3 to earn the victory, backed up by Dink O’Leary … Brown Stocking out-slugged the Maroons to take the rubber game in a series where both teams swung hot bats. Clayton team batting .296, Madison .306! HOT: Lettke (Madison) Rosen (Clayton) NOT: Goldsteain (Madison) Drucker (Clayton)

Burlington Pilots vs. Kingston Keystones (3-0 Pilots)

A leaping grab by First Baseman Dave Berg sealed the second straight complete game shutout for Burlington’s Joe Horton in the opener … A trio of Pilots pitchers combined to keep Kingston scoreless in a second straight game … Kingston tempers boil over after Digger Doughitt complains at being spiked when Ralph Blosell slid into second; Keystones were fired up, and finally scored a couple runs, but not enough to avoid getting swept at home. HOT: Blaylock (Kingston) Berg (Burlington) NOT: Van Duyne (Kingston) Cavano (Burlington)

Burlington Pilots vs. Centerville Blues (3-0 Pilots)

Two teams couldn’t have been more different coming into this series. The Pilots arrived on wings of angels, fresh fromn their sweep against Kingston, harmonious and stronger than ever thanks to the return from injury of Second Baseman Hands Callison. The Blues were as fractious as ever, fighting with each other and most of all with skinflint owner/manager Fred Bancroft, who couldn’t be bothered to put in fresh sod at Tri County Fairgrounds, leaving the park a minefield of crab grass and gopher holes.

The opener had a little bit of everything — including Hands Callison getting tossed for a suspect bat, and a bench-clearing brawl after Lyndon Motte buzzed one up and in to Dave Berg — but while the brawl fired up the Blues a bit, it was still a laugher for Burlington, as the Pilots plated ten runs on 17 hits … In the opener of the series-ending doubleheader, Blues end Joe Horton’s scoreless innings streak but still lose in extra innings, in a sloppy game where their concentration and fielding did them no favors … In the second half of the twin bill, the Blues ran out of pitchers and had to put a badly hung-over Mickey Hendricks on the mound, who was roughed up in a tie game to take the loss. HOT: Cavano (Burlington) Benson (Centerville) NOT: Callison (Burlington) Stevens (Centerville)

And so the Burlington Pilots ride an eight-game winning streak into first place in the Century League, while the Centerville Blues have hit bottom, and started digging. The difference in team chemistry was stark in this series, which every break going Burlington’s way. Something has to change in Centerville, or the Blues are going to burn their ballpark to the ground (which might improve its ambiance).

Standings after three weeks of play:

Nights 11, 12, 13

Night 11

Boston 1 @ New York 5

Toronto 0 @ Detroit 5 … shutout for Detroit’s Bassen, while Wings score two short-handed goals

(Blast) Montreal 2 @ Chicago 5 … Canadians survived an early scoring flurry from Bobby Hull, as well as some costly penalties, and pulled to within one of the Blackhawks in the third … but then Hull scored his fourth of the game, and Chico Maki got his first goal of the year (a shorthander) to go with his 19 assists, salting it away for Chicago.

Chico Maki

Night 12

New York 4 @ Chicago 4 … Rangers shut out Chicago’s top line, but could manage no better than a tie when the Blackhawks pulled their goalie, and Doug Mohns scored at the horn.

Toronto 3 @ Montreal 4

(Blast) Detroit 3 @ Boston 1 … Bobby Orr scored on a wrister as Bernie Parent made the save and keys the breakaway in the game’s opening seconds. But from then on, it was all Detroit. Seconds later, Norm Ullman tied it up with a blistering shot that only a spectacular save from Parent could have stopped. Detroit took control in the second period, first scoring on the powerplay after Boston took a major, then piling on with a Bruce MacGregor goal after Bryan Watson laid out Orr with a cheap shot. Detroit kept up the pressure to seal the win in a game they just seemed to want more — they controlled the face-off circle and momentum was on their side most of the night, especially benefitting Detroit goaltender Hank Bassen, who was a star of the game.

Hank Bassen

Night  13

Boston 1 @ Toronto 4

Chicago 4 @ Detroit 2

(Blast) Montreal 4 @ New York 2 … Ed Giacomin made two spectacular saves in the first period, but a third was too much to ask as Henri Richard scored on the deflection, then Gilles Tremblay followed up seconds later with a cranker from the face-off circle. Rangers netted a pair in the third to make it close, but it was too little, and too late. A big night for Montreal’s top line, which tallied ten points.

Standings after 13 of 20 games … this is still Chicago’s season, top to bottom:

Back To The Short Tracks

After a pair of road course races the Pioneers series returned to the short tracks at the half mile dirt oval at Columbia. Lee Petty sat pole for a race that felt more like a demolition derby, with a duel between Cotton Owens and Herb Thomas setting off a massive wreck on laps 136, putting six cars out of the race, including race leader Petty. Herb Thomas briefly inherited the lead before Buck Baker powered past, then held off the field with superior reflects to collect his third win of the season and take over the championship lead.

22 cars started, 13 finished. Winner: Buck Baker #87 Olds (3)

Buck Baker had plenty of momentum coming out of his Columbia win, and he put his Olds on the pole at Occoneechee for a 200-miler on the one-mile dirt track. Baker faded at 2/3rd distance, falling to a hard-charging Fireball Roberts. But it was Dick Rathman who beat Roberts out of the pits in the final stop to claim the victory.

21 cars started, 16 finished. Winner: Dick Rathman #120 Hudson (1)

The .625-mile paved oval at North Wilkesboro hosted the eighth race of the Pioneer series, and saw 22 drivers take the green, let by pole-sitter Dick Rathman, looking to claim his second victory in a row. But it was all downhill for Rathman after the start — he was the first driver out, with mechanical problems. Plenty of action with four lead changes, but the one that counted most was Curtis Turner outdueling Jim Reed in the final laps for the win. Turner’s win, on top of a solid season so far, puts him in second place behind Buck Baker in the points standings. Herman Beam’s run of finishes was threatened when Beam pitted with black smoke coming from under his hood, but the crew got Beam going again and he was again running at the end.

22 cars started, 15 finished. Winner: Curtis Turner #26 Ford (1)

Turner doesn’t drive a convertible in this series, but this is too cool not to share

Standings after eight of 42 races:

Decade League — Half-Season Mark

With completion of “Night 10,” the Decade League 1966-67 season has reached the half-way mark.

The season is 20 games long, and each “Night” features three games. The most interesting game is generally conducting using Hockey Blast from Plaay, with the remaining game quickly resolved using Shoot-Out Hockey. Full(ish) stats are kept.

Using two game engines offers flexibility in working through the schedule and keeps the gameplay experience fresh. With lines and goalie usage set by Shoot-Out, transition between the two engines is effortless. It is easy to change engines at period breaks, and when the game is a blow-out it is sometimes a relief to finish out the third period in a handful of minutes.

Night 10

Chicago 2 @ New York 2 … Rangers jump out to a two-goal lead, but get in penalty trouble in the third; Chicago sub Fred Stanfield scores game-tying power play goal in final seconds.

Boston 4 @ Detroit 2

Blast Montreal 2 @ Toronto 1 … Chippy and sluggish game frequented by log lulls, but the action perked up in the closing minutes of the third period. With the score tied, Montreal’s Jean-Guy Talbot forced a turnover and sparked a Montreal break-away; Yvon Cournoyer scored on the rebound to give the Habs the lead with just four three minutes to go. The Leafs gained control of the puck with a minute left and pulled their goalie, but could not develop a shot, falling to their national rivals in an uninspiring game before a packed home crowd that wasn’t afraid to express their displeasure.

Jean-Guy Talbot

Standings at the mid-way point. Chicago is running away with it, Boston is over-achieving, and the rest of the league is lagging:

Several Blackhawks are smashing their real-life scoring pace … an eighteen-year old rookie named Bobby Orr is doing pretty good, too:

Chicago dominating at both ends of the ice:

Detroit, Montreal, and New York are competitive when it comes to penalty minutes, at least:

Century League Week 2

Burlington Pilots vs. Springfield Colonels (2-1 Pilots)

Two teams with losing records on the young year meet in Springfield, both hoping to turn their seasons around, or at least generate a little momentum toward better days to come. The Colonels’ shell-shocked pitching staff are just happy to see the Brown Stockings headed out of town.

After giving up 26 runs to the Brown Stockings in their opening series, Mud Puddle Ripley rallied the Colonels with a complete game performance in a surprise start for the second-year man … The Pilots’ own second-year man, Ash Tray Edwards, returned the favor with a complete-game shut out for Burlington in the second game … And the Colonels continue their last-place form by blowing a five-run lead in the final game, allowing seven runs in the last three innings; Burlington’s Judge Geary had a blown save but inherited the win in the getaway game. HOT: Timms (Burlington) Noyes (Springfield) NOT: Youell (Burlington) Mazzarelli (Springfield)

Fairview Saints vs. Kingston Keystones (2-1 Keystones)

Beer Bottle Burley has two homeruns and six RBIs but it isn’t enough, as Sarge Allard’s bases-clearing double drives the Keystones to a 8-7 victory … Both squads send youngster to the mound with Buzzard Lum and Sid Monroy; neither did well, but Buzzard was the more luckless by far, leaving just too much ball over the plate, and getting taken deep by Buddy Blaylock for three of his five RBIs in the Keystones win … String Bean Sammons was the stopper in the third game, salvaging a win for the Saints, thanks to some able work by the bullpen and a running stab by LF Full Moon Mazur with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth. HOT: Syzmanski (Fairfield) Blaylock (Kingston) NOT: Alcantar (Fairfield) Bennet (Kingston)

Centerville Blues vs. Jackson Grays (2-1 Grays)

Home at last, the Grays welcome the Centerville Blues for the first half of their traditional “Civil War” series. For the Blues it certainly is brother against brother, with the Centerville squad showing plenty of fight everywhere except between the lines.

Grays struck first, breaking open a close game in the 7th when Mickey Hendricks brought a can of gas with him to the mound from the bullpen … The Blues chased Bull Zielinski early and put eleven runs on the board in the second game; the only drama was seeing if Freight Train Joseph could get the shutout (he couldn’t, surrending a run after 8 2/3rds) … Any momentum the Blues might have built evporated in the finale, when Grays starting pitcher Virgil Devore had a bases-clearing double to go along with his complete game. HOT: Benson (Centerville) Grossko (Jackson) NOT: Ritter (Centerville) Miller (Jackson)

The Blues just … can’t … quite … get it together. If manager Fred Bancroft didn’t own the team, he might well be fearing for his job.

Clayton Brown Stockings vs. Greenville Mutuals (2-1 Mutuals)

There’s no hot water in the Lewis Park visiting clubhouse (and Clayton can thank the rowdy Centerville Blues for that), but the Brown Stockings hope their bats provide more than enough heat on their own as they open a three-game set in Greenville … but there was grumbling in the locker room, and the Brownies aren’t the same happy crew that left Springfield, despite Skeeter Wilson doing card tricks on the team bus.

Mutuals bullpen provides an efficient outing to take the first game … Word came before the second game that Mutuals catcher Dog Dalhousie would be out indefinitely with a groin issue — Greenville will dearly miss his presence behind the plate; the game itself was a brawl, with Clayton’s Rabbit Dennison leaving in the first after running into Frenchy Clouse, and the Mutuals coming back to win it in the bottom of the ninth by scoring six runs in two innings against Clayton’s punch-drunk bullpen; Brownies salvage a win in the final game, with the Mutual’s Frying Pan Poague going the distance in the loss, thanks to a double-header looming with the Maroons. HOT: Clouse (Clayton) Giaccomo (Greenville) NOT: Burgo (Clayton) Cavano (Greenville)

Greenville Mutuals vs. Madison Maroons (2-1 Madison)

The week-ending double-header is in Madison, as Greenville comes to town, looking to move ahead of Clayton into first place.

Mutuals shock the Maroons with Dixie McCormick’s ninth inning grand slam; Ronnie Rhone has a much-needed good outing to nail down the save … Lip Sullivan encourages his team to shake off the previous night’s disappointment; Maroons respond by winning first game of double header behind a terrific outing from Kingpin Fisk … Maroons outlasted Mutuals in a sloppy second game, as the teams combined for six errors in the gathering gloom; a rubber-armed Cliff Carballa went the distance for a wobbly win. HOT: Goldman (Madison) Giaccomo (Greenville) NOT: Goldstein (Madison) Cavano (Greenville)

With two wins in the series it is Madison that moves into a tie with Clayton for first. Hometown writers wonder if Lip Sullivan’s easy way and calming speech after blowing that first game will end up launching the Maroons onto something special.

Night 9

Night 9

Montreal 1 @ Boston 4

New York 1 @ Detroit 3

Blast Toronto 3 @ Chicago 7 … The Leafs visited Chicago in a meeting of the league’s top two teams, with Toronto hoping to erase the stain of a 9-0 defeat on home ice the first time these two teams hooked up. But it went wrong for the Leafs from the start. Seconds after the opening faceoff, Toronto goalie Terry Sawchuck took a delay-of-game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass; seconds after that, Brett Hull had scored on the powerplay, and it was never really close. Hull would go on to have four goals on the night, twice on the powerplay and once shorthanded, just to rub it in. The season isn’t quite half way over, and the standings are still kind of close, but it looks like there is no stopping the Black Hawks.

 

Pioneers On The Road

After three races on short ovals, the Pioneers Series moved to one of their signature venues — the Daytona Beach Road & Beach course. This is exactly what it sounds like — a race conducted variously on county roads and Florida beach. Offering one of the largest purses in the series, and with plenty of space on the 4.1 mile track, this 200-mile race also had one of the largest fields of the season with a full 42 cars! (The race could have taken another half-dozen starters, but despite the purse, many part-time drivers failed to make the trip to Daytona).

Daytona Road & Beach Diagram

On the pole — and making his first start of the season — was Junior Johnson in the #27 Chevy. Also quick near the top of the field and drawing the attention of newspapers and radio were Johnny Allen and Herman Beam, who came into the race leading the series and starting fifth. 

The opening laps saw plenty of action in the middle of the field, but Johnson kept control at the head of the pack. Lee Petty and Speedy Thompson came together at the 130-mile mark, bringing out the only caution in a fast race; neither driver would figure in the end. Herb Roberts stalled during his second pit stop, dropping from second position all the way to the back of the field! Fireball Roberts seized the lead coming out of the pits, and used superior reflexes to keep the pack behind him, but an unlikely surge by Elton Hildreth — which briefly saw the #167 Nash in the lead — scrambled the front pack enough that Buck Baker was able to steal the lead, and take the checkered flag for the second race in a row!

42 cars started, 36 finished. Winner: Buck Baker #87 Olds (2)

When Daytona Beach Meant Daytona BEACH

A cross-country jaunt for a second road race in as many weeks is no big deal in a virtual series like this, though only 18 cars would take the green flag at Willow Springs. Nascar raced here only twice in the 1950s, but it has always intrigued me because in the 60s I remember being in the desert with my family, and hearing and seeing this track from a distance. Ralph Moody took the poie, while Buck Baker failed to qualify due to engine trouble, ending his race-winning streak at two. Jimmie Lewallen and Curtis Turner jawed at each other during practice, and Lewallen’s sudden speed improvement led to mutterings up and down pit row that Jimmie was running a set-up, but race stewards could find no wrong-doing.

Lewallen spun early and wasn’t a factor in the race, which saw Cotton Owens in charge for most of the day. But a late caution bunched up the field, and Herman Beam — “The Turtle” — showed uncharacteristic speed off the re-start, stealing an unexpected win. (And a popular one, too, to judge by the reaction of the scattered hundreds that turned out in California’s desert for a glimpse of Nascar).

18 cars started, 16 finished. Winner: Herman Beam #19 Ford (1)

Herman Beam

Driver points after five races follow below. They show the distorting effect of the big purse at the Daytona Road & Beach course. Herman Beam topped the standings after three races — and he since managed a win at Willow Springs — but he still dropped to sixth place, overall.

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