April 12, 1970 was an interesting day for the Yankees. Plaques to Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were unveiled in between games of a doubleheader against the Indians. Several times during the games, play had to be stopped after hundreds of fans got onto the field. Those events far overshadowed the play on the field. However, the second game of that doubleheader turned into one of the stranger games in Yankees’ history.
After dropping the opener to Cleveland, the Yankees started Mike Kekich on the mound in game two. Kekich pitched a scoreless inning then Yankees’ offense got on the board in the bottom of the first. After retiring the first two Yankees’ hitters, Cleveland starter Barry Moore allowed a single to Roy White. Moore then walked the next three hitters, scoring White. It would not be the last time the Indians had some problems with walks that day.
The Yankees added another run in second, with White driving it home that time. However, in the fourth, the Indians tied the game as Kekich was unable to work around a lead-off walk.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees took the lead right back. Gene Michael led off the inning with a ground-rule double, and would come all the way around to score, putting the Yankees up 3-2.
The Yankees held that lead late into the game, and even picked up an insurance run in the eighth. After Michael hit a single, Indians’ reliever Phil Hennigan walked the bases loaded, and then walked White, bringing home a run. The Yankees went into the ninth up 4-2.
Yankees’ reliever Ron Klimkowski came in for his fifth inning of work in the ninth. He promptly gave up a ground-rule double and a walk and was taken out. Steve Hamilton came in and got a strike out and a fly out, keeping the runners in place, and was one out away from ending the game.
Hamilton then issued a walk to Ted Uhlaender, loading the bases. Jack Aker was brought in for Hamilton, and got Eddie Leon to hit a ground ball. It was fielded by Yankees’ third baseman Danny Cater, who bounced the throw. The Indians scored two runs to tie the game before Uhlaender was thrown out on the same play trying to score a third run.
During the play, fans again got on the field, thinking the game was about to be over. After the field was eventually cleared, the Yankees came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
John Ellis started the ninth with a single off new Cleveland reliever Dennis Higgins. Cater then slightly made up for his error by drawing a walk. After a Thurman Munson sacrifice bunt moved both runners up, Higgins walked Michael to load the bases.
Higgins was then taken out, as Cleveland brought in Mike Paul. However, like so many Indians’ pitcher before him, Paul walked a batter. Yankees’ pinch-hitter Ron Hansen drew a walk, bringing home the game-winning run.
The Indians walked in a run three separate times in this game. All three instances came after two of the Yankees’ baserunners had also been walked. In total, Cleveland walked 10 batters in this game, and struck out just one.
The Yankees won a crazy game to cap off a doubleheader on April 12, 1970, and it wasn’t the most memorable thing about the day.