By Phil Ellenbecker
Among all the promotional stunts A’s owner Charlie Finley trotted out during his infamous time in Kansas City, perhaps the most entertaining and intriguing occurred the night of Sept. 8, 1965.
Mechanical rabbits to deliver balls to the umpire, a mule mascot (dubbed “Charlie O”), sheep grazing beyond the outfield fence, green and gold uniforms — those were interesting diversions.
But that Wednesday night, before a crowd of 21,576 at Municipal Stadium, brought something more compelling, something that actually involved the playing of the game. That was the night Bert Campaneris, on “Campy Campaneris Night,” became the first player to attempt and complete playing all nine positions in a single game, against the California Angels.
Campaneris was a shining light for the A’s in Kansas City before they left for Oakland, where he became a mainstay on three world championship teams in the early 1970s. While not a superstar, he was quite solid, a six-time All-Star and six-time stolen base champion in a 20-year major league career.
That tenure shows he loved to play, and he was quite versatile, as he showed the night of Sept. 8, 1965. He started off the game at his regular position of shortstop and then moved, inning by inning, to second base, third, left field, center, right, first, pitcher and catcher. And when he took the mound, Campaneris threw right- and left-handed.
Campaneris got knocked out of game on a collision at home plate in the ninth in a game won by the Angels 5-3 in 13 innings.
Campy had only one chance in the field in the first three innings, becoming involved in the middle of a pickoff of Ed “Spanky” Kirkpatrick from his second-base position in the second inning, on a play that went 1-4-1-6.
The action picked up when Dagoberto went around the horn in the outfield in the fourth through sixth, as he caught a fly ball to left and center and then muffed a fly in right that allowed a run to score in the sixth. He caught a pop-up at first the next inning.
Things got kind of interesting when he toed the slab in the eighth. Campy reportedly went ambidextrous, so he switched from his normal righty to lefty to face righty-batting Jose Cardenal, Campaneris’ second cousin. (Cardenal said in an interview that they played baseball together constantly during their youth.) Cardenal went out second to first.
Campy then issued consecutive walks to Albie Pearson (back to right-handed) and Jim Fregosi (back to port side), followed by a single by Joe Adcock (Campy still southpaw) that scored Pearson. Campy got out of the inning when Bobby Knoop (that’s kuh-NOP, not NOOP, and righty batty so Campy so spent most of the inning as a lefty) struck out, and Billy Bryan caught Fregosi trying to steal second.
Behind the plate in the ninth, Campaneris was tested by Kirkpatrick after a leadoff single, and Kirkpatrick stole second. After Campaneris walked Tom Egan, Paul Schaal lined out to center, Kirkpatrick advancing to third. While next batter Dean Chance was striking out, Kirpatrick and Egan tried to pull a double steal, but second baseman Dick Green cut off Campaneris’ throw and gunned out Kirkpatrick at home.
Kirkpatrick was out, and Campy was out, heading off for X-rays after a collision forced him to leave the field.
(Couldn’t find a report on extent of the injury, but Campaneris didn’t return to the lineup until the following Tuesday.)
By holding on to Green’s throw, Campy prevented Spanky from increasing the Angels’ lead to 4-1, and RBI singles by Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Green in the bottom of the ninth sent the game into extra innings. After the two teams went scoreless in the next three frames, the Angels pushed across two unearned runs in the top of the 13th, as pitcher John O’Donoghue botched a bunt to let in one run and Cardenal brought in the other with a sacrifice fly.
The A’s went out in order in the bottom of the 13th, ending what was probably one of the most memorable nights, as least by comparison, at Municipal in the 13 years the A’s called it home.
Things were back to normal at the stadium the next night, 1,271 showing up to watch the Angels beat K.C. 7-2. The A’s drew 528,344 in 1965, their lowest attendance during their K.C. tenure.
Perhaps Campy’s busy Sept. 8 night affected his concentration at bat, as he went 0 for 4. In the field, his line was five putouts, one assist and one error.
Three weeks later the A’s finished at 59-103, last in the 10-team American League, their second straight last-place finish and fifth during their time in K.C. The Angels went 75-87 and placed seventh.
Besides posing a challenge for Campaneris, the night also kept A’s manager Haywood Sullivan busy scratching on his lineup card as he shuttled players with Campy moving around the field. Here’s a look at the changes to accommodate Campaneris inning by inning:
Second inning: Wayne Causey went from second base to shortstop in a simple position swap.
Third: Another swap with Ed Charles moving from third to second.
Fourth: With Campy moving to left, Jose Tartabull went to right, Charles back to third, right-field starter Lou Clinton staying in the dugout, and Green going in at second and taking Clinton’s lineup spot. Got it?
Fifth: Tartabull goes back to left and Jim Landis moves over to right to make way for Campy in center.
Sixth: Landis and Campy swap as Campaneris completes the outfield circuit in right.
Seventh: As Campy takes first, MIke Hershberger goes to right field to replace first baseman Randy Schwartz.
Eighth: Santiago Rosario comes in to play first and takes the place of pitcher Jim Dickson as Campy takes the mound.
Ninth: Aurelio Monteagudo relieves Campy and takes the lineup spot of Bryan, who leaves the game to make way for Campy behind the plate.
Take that, Earl
Moving on to later in Campaneris’ career, from Campy’s Society for American Baseball Research biography: “Campaneris had a great season at Oakland in 1972, leading the league in chances (795), at-bats (625) and stolen bases (52). He finished second in the AL to Boston’s Luis Aparicio in balloting for the All-Star Game. Even after Aparicio broke a finger and couldn’t play, AL manager Earl Weaver selected Texas shortstop Toby Harrah. Harrah was also unable to play because of a sore shoulder, and Weaver then selected Orioles shortstop Bobby Grich, who played the entire 10 innings in the game, much to Campaneris’ chagrin.
“Three weeks later Campaneris responded to the All-Star snub in a game at Baltimore: After collecting his third stolen base of the game in the fifth inning, he went to third on a throwing error by Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren, then coaxed Jim Palmer into a run-scoring balk. While heading home, he looked into the Orioles dugout and tipped his hat to Weaver.”
As positive a factor as Campaneris was on the field, he’s perhaps best known for a bat-throwing incident that got him tossed out of the 1972 AL Championship Series. Again from the SABR bio:
“After the A’s won Game One, 3-2, fireworks erupted during Game Two. In the bottom of the seventh, Campaneris, who was already 3-for-3 with two stolen bases and two runs scored, was hit in the ankle by a pitch from Lerrin LaGrow. Campaneris threw his bat toward LaGrow, who ducked to avoid being hit.
With Detroit manager Billy Martin in the lead, the Tigers went for Campaneris.
“(Afterward, Martin said of his role in the fracas, ‘You bet I was after him! There’s no place for that kind of gutless stuff in baseball. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in all my years of baseball. I would respect him if he went out to throw a punch, but what he did was the most gutless thing of any man to put on a uniform. It was a disgrace to baseball.’)
“Three umpires held Martin back, and home-plate umpire Nestor Chylak ejected LaGrow and Campaneris. Explaining his actions, Campaneris said, ‘My ankle hurt so bad. I knew he was going to throw at me, but people now tell me it’s better to go and fight. I don’t know. I just lost my temper.’
“Oakland’s Joe Rudi said he thought LaGrow threw at Campaneris because ‘Campy had run the Tigers ragged in the first two games, and when (Billy) Martin gets his ears pinned down, he’s going to do something about it.’ Teammate Mike Hegan said he thought Martin “wanted to light a fire under his ballclub, and Campy was the guy that they were going after because he was the guy that set the table for us. There’s no question that Billy Martin instructed Lerrin LaGrow to throw at Campaneris.’
“American League President Joe Cronin suspended Campaneris for the remainder of the ALCS, fined him $500 and left the decision about a possible World Series suspension to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Kuhn ruled that Campaneris could play in the World Series, but would be suspended without pay for the first seven games of the 1973 season.”
• Campaneris was one of the last players to leave Cuba for the United States before the Castro revolution made emigration extremely rare.
• The highest praise for Campaneris may have come from his old boss Charlie Finley, who said in 1980, “You can talk about Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Sal Bando, all those great players, but it was Campy who made everything go.”
• Other players to go nine positions in a game: Cesar Tovar, 1968; and Scott Sheldon and Shane Halter, both in 2000.
Notes on sources: As with all of these “Swoonin’ A’s” articles, I relied extensively on retrosheet.org and baseballreference.com for play-by-play details. I also got some help filling in the blanks from sportseclopedia.com and parallelnarrative.com.
And as be can seen above, I lifted profusely from Campaneris’ entry in the Society for American Baseball Research’s Biography Project (saber.org/bioproject), from an article that originally appeared in “Mustaches and Mayhem: Charlie O’s Three Time Champions: The Oakland Athletics: 1972-74” (SABR, 2015), edited by Chip Greene.
(Behind Baseball Reference and Retrosheet, SABR’s bio project may be the next-best contribution to the internet.)
By Phil Ellenbecker