Friday, April 10, 2009

Group of 79 Project - Dale Long

The new baseball card project is going well. I have added the gallery over on the left-hand side under "Things I Have Stashed Online". I'm going with the title "Group of 79" because it has a CIA feel to it or something. I don't know. In the Lee Stevens post, I mentioned there might be an 80th this year. I either lied to throw you off or was wrong. You can decide. Feel free to guess/solve what the common thread between these players is. I'm keeping it secret because I'm pursuing some other directions with this project and am waiting to see what I do with it before revealing.

Today's player is Dale Long. Long was one of the players listed among Lee Stevens' ten most comparable players. Long is probably most known for holding and then sharing the record for most consecutive games hitting a home run. In May of 1956, Long homered in eight consecutive games. This feat was eventually matched by Don Mattingly (who is not among the Group of 79).

Long began his streak on May 19th with an eighth inning home run off Jim Davis of the Cubs. The Pirates won 7-4, pulling them to up to a .500 record for the season.

The next day, the Pirates took on the Milwaukee Braves in a doubleheader. In the fifth inning of the first game, Long went deep off of Ray Crone with a three-run shot, part of a six-run inning that gave the Pirates the victory. Long started the second game of the doubleheader with a two-run homer off of future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. Ron Kline blanked the Braves as the Pirates won 5-0.

The Cardinals came to town for a pair of games and Long hit solo homers in both of them. Herm Wehmeier and Lindy McDaniel served them up but the Pirates could only earn a victory in one of the games.

The Pirates traveled to Philadelphia for a pair of victories and then returned to Pittsburgh where Long hit a homer in his eighth straight game, this time against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Pirates also took that game, making them 7-1 during Long's streak and moving them into third place in the standings, a game and a half behind the Braves and Cardinals.

The next day one run ended and another began. Long went homerless as the Pirates lost to the Dodgers 10-1. Brooklyn, who had been hovering at the .500 mark up until this point, would go on to have the best record over the course of the rest of the season. From this victory on, they went 76-46, edging the Braves for the National League pennant. The Pirates went a league worst 47-74 but still finished ahead of the Cubs. From a game and a half behind the leaders, the Pirates faded to 27 games back.

Long hit a career high 27 homers for the season which sounds pretty good but 14 of those came before Memorial day. He went homerless from June 9 until July 11.

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