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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jack Kralick and Sam McDowell were mistaken for each other by Yankee announcers. How often has that type of thing occurred?

In 1963 Yankee announcers accidentally reversed the identity of Cleveland starting pitchers Kralick and McDowell in a doubleheader. Saturday, August 5, 2017

Read the previous post first. This issue has more general ramifications.

Jack Kralick and Sam McDowell were lefty starting pitchers in a doubleheader who were mistaken for each other by Yankee announcers on June 2, 1963 in Cleveland.

28 year old Kralick: May 2, 1963: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Cleveland Indians for Jim Perry. Kralick was assigned Perry's number 31. 20 year old McDowell wore number 34 in 1963.

Birdie Tebbetts was the manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1963. Tebbetts had been a big league catcher for 14 seasons: 1936-1942, 1946-1952. He played 9 years for Detroit, 4 for Boston and the final two for Cleveland. He was 0 for 11 in the 1940 World Series. He managed Cincinnati 1954-1958 (first 113 games), Milwaukee Braves 1961 (last 25 games) - 1962, Cleveland 1963, 1964 (last 88 games), 1965, 1966 (first 123 games). By June 1963 Birdie Tebbetts had been around the block.

The story is that Tebbetts had Sam McDowell on his lineup card listed in the dugout as his game one pitcher. Then Yankee statistician Bill Kane got that lineup and gave it to the Yankee announcers. Then Tebbetts changed from McDowell to Kralick and subsequently had McDowell start game two instead. Apparently, Tebbetts had Kralick listed as the game one pitcher on the OFFICIAL lineup card that he presented to the umpires and to Yankee manager Ralph Houk. Otherwise, Houk could have made it an issue once the game had started, maybe requiring that McDowell be declared ineligible to relieve in game one since technically he had started and Kralick was pitching in relief.

1. What did Bill Kane have as a source of active Cleveland players? Was it a list from the team or a public scorecard? In either case, had Kralick been listed? In other words, would Kane have known Kralick's uniform number? What did the Yankee announcers have?

2. Did the Cleveland public address announcer have the final lineup or the original? Did he announce Kralick or McDowell?

3. In Cleveland in 1963 were the player's names repeated each time they came to the plate? Remember, American League pitchers batted through 1972. If so, that means that the Yankee announcers failed to hear that when Kralick and then McDowell batted. It seems implausible that the PA announcer repeated the wrong name in game one for all three plate appearances by Kralick.

McDowell batted four times in game two with a single and sacrifice bunt. McDowell bunted for a single in the second inning with two outs and a runner on base. The next batter made the third out but McDowell was on base. McDowell bunted for an out in the 4th inning and again in the 6th for his sac and McDowell reached second base on an error by Yankee pitcher Stan Williams. Presumably by then the announcers knew McDowell's identity. McDowell struck out in the 8th inning.

4.  What, if anything, was posted on the scoreboard when a batter came up? Name? Uniform number? Stats? Photo?

I addressed this in the previous post and in more research since and I'm convinced that the Cleveland player's did not have their names on the back of their uniforms in 1963.

Image result
McDowell 1966, no name on uniform.

How did Bill Kane became aware of the error. Did he simply notice that the pitcher's number didn't match the name on the list? Did he overhear something among the writers? The writers would have been filing interim reports and then finally a story on game one at its conclusion, possibly for publication in an addition before the second game been completed. It's likely that some newspaper workers were listening to the game on the radio back in New York. Transistor radios were prevalent, including the use of an earpiece. How come some 
copy "boy" back in New York didn't notice the discrepancy? Some New York papers in 1963:
Herald Tribune
Journal American
L.I. Press

I recall that fans would somehow contact WPIX channel 11 during games to:
- ask a question
- make a correction
- make a pertinent comment.

Not often but occasionally a Yankee announcer would address such a contact during a game. At least that's what I recall.

What do you recall about any of this? It wouldn't have been easy to check the identity of a player during a game. How often do you think this type of mistaken identity happened during radio or television broadcasts? Ever? Never?

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