July 6, 1972 – Graig Nettles Walkoff Hit
Although most famous for his years with the Yankees, Graig Nettles had some very solid years early in his career in Cleveland. In 1970, he led the league in fielding percentage of .967 and hit 26 home runs.
By 1972, he was a fixture at third base for the Tribe and a solid hitter in the heart of the lineup. He was once again playing third base and hitting fifth when the Rangers came to visit Muni Stadium on this Thursday night in July.
Although the Indians scored first on an RBI single to right field by Chris Chambliss in the bottom of the first, the Tribe soon found themselves in a hole.
Texas second year shortstop (and later Indians All-Star) Toby Harrah had a big night with four hits in six plate appearances, plus a stolen base. Those four hits included a solo home run in the top of the third, and an RBI single in the top of the fifth.
In the middle of the eighth, the Rangers led 5-2 and appeared to be on course to victory. However; in the bottom of the eighth, catcher Jerry Moses homered with Nettles on first to cut the Rangers lead to 5-4.
Tribe reliever Ed Farmer pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the top of the Texas order.
In the bottom of the ninth, John Lowenstein walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Chris Chambliss sent him home with a two-out double to left center, tying the game at 5.
Indians reliever Ed Farmer continued to chew through the Rangers lineup. Allowing only three baserunners from the ninth to twelfth innings.
Chris Chambliss flied out second to lead off the bottom of the twelfth. Alex Johnson singled to right. Graig Nettles dropped a double into centerfield, scoring the speedy Johnson from first for the walkoff win.
Later in 1972, rumors began to swirl about a potential trade with the Yankees. Nettles made it clear that he would be pleased to be traded to a team that was able to contend. Indians General Manage Gabe Paul attempted to squash the trade rumors. “Nettles is a hell of a player and we have no intention of trading him; he’s not involved in anything we are now talking about,”
Shortly after the season ended, he was dealt to the Yankees along with catcher Jerry Moses for outfield prospect Charlie Spikes, catcher John Ellis, infielder Jerry Kenney, and outfielder Rusty Torres. Also in the 1972 off season, a group led by George Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees. Gabe Paul was a minority investor in the Steinbrenner group, which raised more than a few suspicious of collusion.