Friday, June 08, 2007

Yes, Virginia, It's True: Billy Drew Out Of A Hat

The lineup wasn't working -- at least not the way it was being penned by the manager. Four straight losses in a muggy August when the divisional race was turning into a four-horse affair.

Time to shake things up -- literally.

On August 13, 1972, Tigers manager Billy Martin actually did do what legend says he did. The story is not apocryphal, nor an urban legend. He really did it -- drawing his batting order out of a hat, desperate for a victory.

I wonder what the fans at Tiger Stadium were thinking when PA announcer Joe Gentile read this over the speakers:

1. Norm Cash 1B
2. Jim Northrup RF
3. Willie Horton LF
4. Eddie Brinkman SS
5. Tony Taylor 2B
6. Duke Sims C
7. Mickey Stanley CF
8. Aurelio Rodriguez 3B
9. Woodie Fryman P

Obviously, Martin didn't have the guts to put Fryman's name in the baseball cap.

When you look at that lineup, some pieces would have made sense to the fans -- like Northrup and Horton at #2 and #3, and the #6 thru #9 slots aren't that wacky. But Cash batting leadoff and Brinkman hitting cleanup is a hoot. And Taylor would never have batted fifth in a normal lineup, either.

Cash singled to start the bottom of the first against the Indians that Sunday afternoon. After Northrup grounded into a double play, Horton homered. The Tigers ended up winning, 3-2.

I wonder when the method to Martin's madness was revealed. I was only nine years old and a week, so I don't recall the coverage of the game.

But it's true -- Billy Martin drew a batting order out of a hat in a sign of desperation. He never tried it again, which is odd, because it wasn't like Billy to quit while he was ahead.



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