Thirty years ago Monday night, in the cavernous confines of near-empty Anaheim Stadium, Denny Doyle doubled home Mickey Rivers in the bottom of the 15th inning to lift the California Angels to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Barry Raziano pitched two innings of relief to earn what was his only major league victory.
Raziano, who runs a construction company in Louisiana, said recently he has no recollection of the game, which puts him in the overwhelming majority.
You could argue, however, that someone will eclipse Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak before another game is played like the one on June 14, 1974.
Standing at his clubhouse cubicle before a recent game, Angel pitcher Jarrod Washburn eyeballed a copy of the disco-era game log and shook his head.
"No," Washburn said, "it won't happen again."
What happened was this:
Boston starter Luis Tiant pitched 14 1/3 innings and took the loss.
Nolan Ryan of the Angels lasted 13 innings, struck out 19 batters, walked 10 and -- hold onto your helmets -- threw 235 pitches.
When contacted for this story, Ryan asked that the box score from that game be faxed to his office in Texas.
After reviewing it, Ryan said two memories stood out: striking out Cecil Cooper six times and "not wanting to come out" after heaving his final pitch, which yielded a ground out to second by Carl Yastrzemski.
By today's standards, Tiant and Ryan each pitched more than two "quality starts" -- six innings, three earned runs or fewer allowed -- on the same night.
"Quality start?" Ryan chuckled over the phone. "In those days, if I had pitched only six innings and gave up three runs I had a bad outing and I was hacked off.
"And I can tell you what: My manager and general manager weren't happy either."
What makes the 1974 game seem remarkable now is how unremarkable it seemed then.
The Times' game account acknowledged "Tiant and Ryan dueled tenaciously," yet there was no mention of Ryan's pitch count in the game story or the following-day notes. Ryan knows he threw 235 only because Tom Morgan, the Angel pitching coach, kept track on a hand-held clicker.
"I think he did it out of, I don't know if it was curiosity or what," Ryan said.
No pitch totals were readily available on Tiant, but how could he have not thrown at least 180?
Get this: There were no grievances filed to the players' union, no complaints by either pitcher about inhumane treatment, no newspaper scribe's rebuke of the managers who allowed it and, in the case of Ryan, no rest for the weary.
"It obviously ruined his arm because he had to retire 19 years later," said Bill James, a renowned chronicler of baseball facts and figures.
Ryan took his regularly scheduled start four days later and won, pitched again five days later and won again, started five days after that and tossed a one-hit shutout against Texas.
"Guys like Nolan Ryan, they only come around once every 100 years or so," Washburn said.
Ryan may have been blessed with a bionic arm, but he did not corner the market on durability.
He finished with 26 complete games in 1973 and again in 1974 and did not lead the league either year.
Ryan, who won 324 games and pitched until age 46, led the league in innings pitched only once, in 1974, with 332 2/3.
Since then, baseball has gone from seat-of-the-pants, gut-check performances to Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky.
Whether baseball is better now is open to debate.
Modern-day pitchers rarely are allowed to throw more than 110 pitches, after which chess-master managers consult their flow charts and start a parade of percentage maneuvers involving multitudes of relief pitchers.
"You know, in those days," Ryan mused, "I was my own closer."
There was outrage recently when San Francisco Manager Felipe Alou allowed Jason Schmidt to complete a game in which he threw 144 pitches.
Ryan says, in 1974, he averaged between 160 and 180 pitches per outing.
For 100 years or so, baseball was played a certain way, and that way was good enough to earn it status as our "National Pastime."
Once, starting pitchers were warriors and relief pitchers were, Ryan said, guys who never got to pitch "unless your starter was just horrible and got knocked out early."
At some point in the 1970s, baseball was transformed, irrevocably, right in the middle of Ryan's career.
"I can remember the first couple of starters that I knew that didn't go out with the intent of finishing the ballgame," the Hall of Fame pitcher said. "I couldn't fathom that.
"I came from the mind-set that it was your game, you were the starter and you had every intention of finishing it.... You weren't remotely interested in turning it over to somebody. That's just the way it was. You thought nothing of it."
Fred Claire, the former Dodger general manager, tried to imagine Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale getting yanked from the mound after topping the 100-pitch count.
"Those guys would have looked at [manager] Walter Alston like he was somebody that had come down from Mars," Claire said.
In the seventh game of the 1962 World Series, New York Yankee Manager Ralph Houk allowed starter Ralph Terry, a right-hander, to face San Francisco Giant left-handed slugger Willie McCovey in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 1-0 game with runners at second and third.
"Think about that," said Bob Costas, a noted baseball historian.
McCovey lined out to second baseman Bobby Richardson in a classic World Series ending.
On July 2, 1963, Juan Marichal of the Giants and Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves matched pitches in a game the Giants won, 1-0, on Willie Mays' solo home run in the bottom of the 16th inning.
Anyone think this is the same sport?
In 1974, there were 1,089 complete games thrown in the major leagues.
Last year, there were 209.
In 1974, the Boston Red Sox pitching staff combined for 71 complete games.
In 2003, the Houston Astros' staff combined to pitch one.
In 1968, Detroit's Denny McLain led the majors with 30 complete games.
Last year, three players led the majors with nine.
Some say baseball isn't better or worse now, it's just back-loaded.
Whereas Koufax, Drysdale and Don Sutton were the heroes when dinosaur Dodgers ruled the Earth, Claire noted, "the most exciting player the Dodgers have today is Eric Gagne," a closer.
Costas understands there is no going back from the strategic turn baseball took while acknowledging the game has somewhat suffered.
"There's tremendous drama in a guy walking off the mound after completing a tough, complete-game victory, or trying to make his way through it," Costas said. "You don't have those moments anymore."
Why did baseball change and, more important, why did it have to?
"Why does anything evolve?" the Angels' Darwinist manager, Mike Scioscia, wondered.
Even statistician James, the man who turned baseball thinking inside out, can't quite put his finger on the answer.
"Without anyone deciding we were going to dramatically change the game, it wandered very, very quickly in a certain direction," James said.
Baseball experts cite several factors that coalesced in the 1970s that led to radical departures in baseball thinking:
It did to the complete game what MTV did to the radio star. When players were finally granted free agency in the 1970s, and salaries started to escalate, owners became more interested in protecting their investments.
"When we were on one-year contracts and you went down, I can remember they tried to cut people 20%, or they wouldn't sign you," said Ryan, whose career spanned from 1966 to 1993. "All they did was lose a starting pitcher, they didn't lose a starting pitcher and still have to pay him 8 to 10 million over a three- or four-year period."
Ryan said front-office men seeking to protect the bottom line began to think that pitchers would last longer if they pitched fewer innings per start.
This put more emphasis on the role of relief pitchers, whose increasing roles led to rising salaries that also needed to be justified.
Ryan says this begat the modern-day "setup man" and "closer."
"Now, if you sign a guy for an exorbitant amount of money and you guarantee his contract, you have locked yourself into that person," Ryan said. "You have committed to that person that he is going to play."
Eventually, the "pitch count" worked its way into the manager's decision-making process and is now as much a part of the baseball box score as at-bats.
Ryan's opinion of the pitch count: "absurd."
James says the pitch count redefined the way the game was managed and reported.
"It was unfair, inaccurate and it shouldn't have happened," James said. "But pitch counts became a weapon with which to attack any manager who let a starter throw 130 pitches."
In 1974, Dodger orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe performed a historic ligament transplant surgery on pitcher Tommy John, extending a career that otherwise would have been finished.
In the years since, the surgery has prolonged the careers of hundreds of pitchers.
Claire said Jobe and other sports doctors made huge strides in understanding the mechanics of the pitching motion and, more important, how unnatural an act it is.
As pitchers rehabilitated from injuries, it was understandable their arms were treated with more care.
Whereas, Claire said, "when guys in the 1950s hurt their arms, they were done."
James, who once worked at a pork-and-beans plant in Lawrence, Kan., published his first "Baseball Abstract" in 1977 ("Baseball Abstract: Featuring 18 Categories of Statistical Information That You Just Can't Find Anywhere Else").
James was different. For example, he once wrote, "The way that managers have tested the limits of starting pitchers for the last century is quite a bit like the way they used to test for witches, by pond dunking."
James' quirky insights were initially shunned by the baseball establishment, but they slowly took root.
James explained, as only he can, that "the introduction of new information into a fixed way of thinking about the game changed."
James brought a new vocabulary to the game -- sabermetrics. His observations made writers and baseball executives look at baseball in a more scientific light.
Then, in the 1980s, Oakland Athletic Manager Tony La Russa took the game to another cerebral level.
His preparation strategies were glorified in George Will's seminal baseball book, "Men at Work."
Noting the disappearance of the complete game in baseball, Will penned, "Like any human contrivance, sport is an organic institution, evolving with changes in the forces that play upon it."
James fostered a new, intellectual wave of thinkers that spawned general managers such as Oakland's Billy Beane.
And what became of James?
Two years ago, the Red Sox hired him as a senior advisor.
Scioscia says the complete game went on life support because there are more teams -- 30 now, compared to 24 in 1974.
Said Scioscia: "I think the pitching has become so diluted to where when you have a good one, I think you want to make sure he's handled in a manner that's going to keep him good for a long time."
Over time, the nine-inning pitcher became a museum piece.
Little did we know Fernando Valenzuela, the seemingly tireless workhorse Dodger, was a relic when he recorded 20 complete games in 1986.
In one brilliant, supernova 1988 season, Orel Hershiser had 15 complete games and eight shutouts. Fittingly, his nickname was "Bulldog."
It's not that kids today don't have the competitive desire.
While pitching for Lincoln Memorial College in Tennessee, Angel reliever Scot Shields said he once threw 261 pitches in a 16-inning loss.
"There was no way I was coming out of that game," Shields said.
Of course, in college, no owner was on the hook for Shields' long-term contract.
Pro baseball simply will not tolerate such tendon torture.
Washburn says the modern starter is not physically conditioned to go nine innings -- think of the difference between a starter in 1970 and a starter now as the difference between a thoroughbred and a quarter horse.
It is an accepted anomaly that, in an era when athletes are getting bigger, faster and stronger, the role of workhorse starting pitcher has diminished.
Yankee Stadium may still be the House That Ruth Built, but baseball in general today is moored to "specialization" and "economics."
No more gladiator Bob Gibsons, no more Nolan Ryans, no more 200-pitch outings.
"I don't think so," Claire said. "The course has been set. This is what we have."
Major League Baseball's new motto: It is what it is.
"I don't like the game as much," Ryan confessed. "I'm more of a purist. If a guy is throwing a shutout, or a guy pitched a really good game, and he's still dominating, you don't take him out and bring a guy in.... It's hard to accept the new changes when, in your mind, it's not for the better."
Thirty years ago Monday night, it was Tiant and Ryan and a whole lot of tryin'.
It really was, looking back, one for the books.
Said Ryan: "I don't think the rest of my life I'll ever open a paper and see a box score like that."
(Begin Text of Infobox)
California Angels 4, Boston Red Sox 3
Game played Friday, June 14, 1974 15 innings at Anaheim Stadium
*--* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 R H E BOS 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 3 8 2 CAL 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -- 4 11 1
*--* BOSTON BATTING AB R H RBI BB K PO A Cooper 1b 8 0 0 0 0 6 13 1 Miller cf 6 1 0 0 1 3 5 0 Fisk c 7 0 3 0 0 0 6 4 Yastrzemski lf 5 2 2 2 2 1 4 0 Carbo rf 5 0 0 0 2 3 5 0 Petrocelli dh 3 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 Harper pr,dh 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 McAuliffe 2b,3b 6 0 0 0 1 2 2 3 Hughes 3b 2 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 Cater ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Burleson 2b 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 3 Guerrero ss 6 0 3 0 1 1 4 4 Tiant p 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 Totals 54 3 8 3 10 20 43 18 FIELDING - DP: 1. E: Fisk (4), Tiant (1). BATTING - HR: Yastrzemski (8, 9th inning off Ryan 1 on, 1 out).
*--* ANGEL BATTING AB R H RBI BB K PO A Rivers cf 7 2 2 0 0 0 7 0 Doyle 2b 6 1 3 2 1 0 0 5 Stanton rf 4 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 Robinson dh 5 1 1 0 1 3 0 0 Lahoud lf 6 0 1 1 0 1 4 0 Oliver 3b 5 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 Lange pr 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Schaal 3b 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Doherty 1b 6 0 2 0 0 0 10 0 Rodriguez c 5 0 0 0 1 0 21 0 Alomar ss 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 McCraw ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Valentine ss 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Ryan p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Raziano p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Totals 51 4 11 4 4 5 45 8 FIELDING - E: Oliver (6). BATTING - 2B: Doyle 2 (10, off Tiant 2). SH: Stanton (1, off Tiant). BASERUNNING - SB: Alomar (1, 3rd base off Tiant/Fisk). Doyle (2, 2nd base off Tiant/Fisk). Stanton (5, 2nd base off Tiant/Fisk). CS: Rodriguez (3, 2nd base by Tiant/Fisk).
*--* BOSTON PITCHING IP H HR R ER BB K Tiant L (8-6) 14 1/3 11 0 4 4 4 5
*--* ANGEL PITCHING IP H HR R ER BB K Ryan 13 8 1 3 3 10 19 Raziano W (1-0) 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 Totals 15 8 1 3 3 10 20
Umpires: Larry Napp, Larry Barnett, Jim McKean, Jim Evans
Time of Game: 4:02. Attendance: 11,083
* Red Sox: Cooper struck out; Miller struck out; Fisk singled to center; Yastrzemski walked [Fisk to second]; Carbo struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 0, Angels 0.
* Angels: Rivers made an out to right; Doyle grounded out (pitcher to first); Stanton made an out to center; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 0, Angels 0.
* Red Sox: Petrocelli grounded out (shortstop to first); McAuliffe grounded out (second to first); Hughes struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 0, Angels 0.
* Angels: Robinson was called out on strikes; Lahoud made an out to right; Oliver made an out to center; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 0, Angels 0.
* Red Sox: Guerrero walked; Cooper struck out; Miller was called out on strikes; Fisk made an out to center; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 0, Angels 0.
* Angels: Doherty lined to second; Rodriguez popped to catcher in foul territory; Alomar grounded out (catcher to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 0, Angels 0.
* Red Sox: Yastrzemski walked; Carbo walked [Yastrzemski to second]; Petrocelli walked [Yastrzemski to third, Carbo to second]; McAuliffe was called out on strikes; Hughes walked [Yastrzemski scored, Carbo to third, Petrocelli to second]; Guerrero struck out; Cooper struck out; 1 R, 0 H, 0 E, 3 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 0.
* Angels: Rivers singled to center; Rivers was picked off first but was safe on an error by Tiant [Rivers to second]; Doyle doubled to center [Rivers scored]; Stanton made an out to center [Doyle to third]; Robinson walked; Lahoud singled to right [Doyle scored, Robinson to third]; Oliver grounded out (shortstop to first) [Robinson scored, Lahoud to second]; Doherty made an out to left; 3 R, 3 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Miller was called out on strikes; Fisk made an out to left; Yastrzemski reached on an error by Oliver; Carbo struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Angels: Rodriguez made an out to center; Alomar singled to second; Rivers made an out to left; Doyle walked [Alomar to second]; Alomar stole third and Doyle stole second; Stanton struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Petrocelli was called out on strikes; McAuliffe walked; Hughes popped to first in foul territory; Guerrero singled to center [McAuliffe to second]; Cooper struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Angels: Robinson struck out; Lahoud made an out to right; Oliver made an out to left; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Miller grounded out (shortstop to first); Fisk singled to third; Yastrzemski singled to center [Fisk to third]; Carbo struck out; Petrocelli made an out to center; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Angels: Doherty made an out to right; Rodriguez grounded out (shortstop to first); Alomar grounded out (pitcher to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: McAuliffe made an out to center; Cater batted for Hughes; Cater grounded out (second to first); Guerrero singled to right; Cooper struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Angels: Burleson replaced Cater (Playing 2b); McAuliffe changed positions (playing 3b); Rivers grounded out (catcher to first); Doyle popped to second; Stanton grounded out (third to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 1, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Miller walked; Fisk made an out to right; Yastrzemski homered [Miller scored]; Carbo walked; Petrocelli walked [Carbo to second]; Harper ran for Petrocelli; McAuliffe struck out; Burleson grounded out (second to first); 2 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Harper stayed in game (playing dh); Robinson singled to shortstop; Lahoud forced Robinson (catcher to shortstop); Oliver grounded into a double play (second to shortstop to first) [Lahoud out at second]; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Guerrero singled to left; Cooper popped to catcher in foul territory; Miller made an out to left; Fisk singled to center [Guerrero to third]; Yastrzemski struck out; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Doherty singled to center; Rodriguez forced Doherty (pitcher to shortstop); McCraw batted for Alomar; Rodriguez was caught stealing second (catcher to shortstop); McCraw popped to second; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Valentine replaced McCraw (Playing SS); Carbo made an out to center; Harper made an out to right; McAuliffe grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Rivers grounded out (second to first); Doyle made an out to right; Stanton walked; Stanton stole second [Stanton to third (error by Zisk)]; Robinson popped to third in foul territory; 0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Burleson was called out on strikes; Guerrero made an out to center; Cooper struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Lahoud popped to first in foul territory; Oliver singled to right; Lange ran for Oliver; Doherty singled to left [Lange to second]; Rodriguez walked [Lange to third, Doherty to second]; Valentine popped to left; Rivers grounded out (third to first); 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 3 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Schaal replaced Lange (playing 3b); Miller grounded out (first unassisted); Fisk made an out to right; Yastrzemski grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Doyle singled to left; Stanton out on a sacrifice bunt (third to second) [Doyle to second]; Robinson struck out; Lahoud struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Raziano replaced Ryan (pitching); Carbo made an out to left; Harper struck out; McAuliffe grounded out (shortstop to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Schaal grounded out (second to first); Doherty grounded out (shortstop to first); Rodriguez grounded out (first to pitcher); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Red Sox: Burleson made an out to center; Guerrero made an out to left; Cooper made an out to center; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 3.
* Angels: Valentine made an out to center; Rivers singled to center; Doyle doubled to left [Rivers scored]; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Red Sox 3, Angels 4.
Leading the Way
Nolan Ryan at a glance:
*--* * League Leader: Strikeouts (1972-74, 1976-79, 1987-90), ERA (1981, 1987), shutouts (1972, 1976), walks (1972-74, 1976-78, 1980,1982). * Career Leader: All-time leader in strikeouts (5,714), no-hitters (7), games with 10 or more strikeouts (215), games with 10 or more strikeouts in a season (23, 1973), 300-strikeout seasons (6), lowest average hits per nine innings (6.55), and opponents batting average (.203). * No-Hitters: 1. May 15, 1973 (at Kansas City); 2. July 15, 1973 (at Detroit); 3. Sept. 28, 1974 (vs. Minnesota); 4. June 1, 1975 (vs. Baltimore); 5. Sept. 26, 1981 (vs. Dodgers); 6. June 11, 1990 (at Oakland); 7. May 1, 1991 (vs. Toronto). * Hall of Fame: Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 25, 1999.