The first time I remember seeing Gene Tenace was in the 1972 World Series. He hit two homeruns in his first World Series at bats driving in all 3 runs to lead the A’s to a 3-2 victory. The A’s needed some power from someone else then Reggie Jackson as he was out of the series due to a play at the plate in the A’s clutching game to get to the World Series.
Tenace provided it with 4 homers and 9 RBIs in the series. The A’s only score 16 runs so Tenace had more than half the RBIs in the seven-game victory. Hoe Rudy hit a homerun in the series making the A;s total in the series 5.
By the way this was an underrated series as all the game except game 6 was decided by one run. Let us go through the other six games.
Game 2: Oakland 2 Reds 1: The As go up 2 games to none on the road. Tenace goes 0 for 4 so the A’s won it without his offence. In the second Catfish Hunter his a two out single to drive in George Hendrick. In the third Joe Rudi hit the only A’s not Gene Tenace in the series to make it 2-0. With 2 out in the ninth Hal McRae singles in Tony Perez to pull the Reds within 1. Rollie Fingers came in to get the final out.
Game 3. Reds 1 Oakland 0. Again, Tenace doesn’t do anything as the A’s get 3 hits and 3 walks. Both Jack Billingham (Reds) and Blue Moon Odom (A;s) pitch great. In the 7th Cesar Geronimo drove in Tony Perez (again) for the only run of the game.
Game 4. Oakland 3 Reds 2. In the 5th Tenace hits his 3rd home run of the series, this one off of Don Gullet, to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Bobby Tolan hit a two-run double in the seventh to give the Reds a 2-1 lead in the seventh.
In the ninth with one out Dick Williams the manager pinch hits Gonzalo Marquez for George Hendrick. Marquez singles and Allan Lewis comes in as a pinch runner. Tenace follows with a single. Don Mincher then pinch hits for Dick Green singles to tie the game. Tenace makes it for third. Angel Mangual then pinch hits for the pitcher Rollie Fingers. He singles Tenace scores the game winning run. I remember watching this rally as pinch hitter after pinch hitter gets a hit. I though Tenace kind of ruined it being a regular player.
Game 5. Reds 5 Oakland 4. The A’s had a 3-1 then 4-2 lead in the game but blew it. Tenace his a three-run homer in the 2nd giving the A’s a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the fourth the Reds give Tenace a complement by intentionally walking him with a man on second and one out. The A’s scored anyway making the score 4-2. Catfish Hunter gave up a third run in the fifth and Rollie Fingers comes into the game.
However, Fingers cannot finish the Reds off giving up a run in the 8th and 9th. Down 1 Tenace leads off the top of the ninth with a walk. Blue Moon Odom pinch runs for him. Burt Campaneris hits a foul ball which Joe Morgan catches in foul territory. Odom tries to sneak home, but Morgan catches him at the plate. So, for two straight games the game ends with someone trying to cross the plate.
Game 6. Reds 8 Oakland 1. Tenace goes 1 for 4 and is not involved in the scoring. The Reds score 5 runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the game away.
Game 7. Oakland 3 Reds 2. In the top of the first Tenace singles in the first run of the game. Then in the sixth with the score tied 1-1, Tenace doubles in the lead run. Allan Lewis pinch runs for him and scores on Sal Bando’s double for a 3-1 lead. The Reds score a run in the 8th and threaten more, but the A’s hold on to win the World Series. Tenace is easily Series MVP.
It was understandable I didn’t pay any attention before. While Tenace played some solid ball in four major league seasons he hadn’t played enough to get much notice. Starting in 1973 he put together 8 solid seasons. In the championship playoffs in 1972 before the World Series Tenace went only 1 for 17.
Which brings us to this. Ironically, Tenace didn’t have a good post season record. He used it up in the 1972 World Series. In the 1972 World Series he walked 11 times to have an on base percentage of .467. With his three hits he got on base 14 times in 7 games. However, his life time average in the postseason was .158. He hit only 4 home runs in the postseason, and we know when he did that. His life time slugging in the postseason was .289, which is bad.
However, he was an adequate catcher and a great hitter for a catcher, which gives him a hall of fame case.