September 29, 1967 is the antepenultimate day of the last and perhaps greatest pennant race in history. Four of the ten teams in the American League (AL) still have a chance to win the AL pennant: Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox.
First, we need a little league history. From the first World Series in 1903 until 1968, the American League and National League (NL) pennant winners faced off in the World Series. There was no World Series in 1904 and 1994. There were no other levels of playoffs until 1969. From 1901 through 1960 there were eight teams in each league. In the early sixties the AL added the Angels and the new Senators. The new Senators would be come the Rangers in 1972. The erstwhile Senators became the Twins. The NL added the Mets and the Astros (who are now in the AL).
Second, we need a little team history. The other three teams were expected to contend for the pennant in 1967 but the Red Sox were not. Since moving from Washington six years ago the Twins had been near the top of the AL most years. Most recently they lost an epic World Series to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in 1965 and finished second in the AL in 1966. The Tigers finished fourth in ’65 and third in ‘66. The White Sox finished second in ’65 and fourth in ‘66. The Red Sox had not been above 500 since 1958 and even worse lately. They finished ninth in 1965 and tied for ninth in 1966. When Vegas offered odds of 100 to 1 to win the pennant it seemed like a sucker bet.
Third, scheduling 162 games for ten teams led to weird stuff. No AL team played on September 28. Only four of the ten AL teams (Athletics, Senators, White Sox, and Yankees) played on September 29. Then after two days off for the Angels and three days off for the Tigers they played doubleheaders in Detroit on both Saturday and Sunday.
On Friday morning, September 29, 1967 four teams, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox could still win the pennant and go to the World Series. The White Sox had led the AL for most of the summer, 91 days, but were now a game-and-a half back. The Red Sox, Tigers, and Twins had spent 24, 41, and 39 days in first, respectively. On Friday Pale Hose lost to Senators 1-0 as Phil Ortega made an unearned run in the first inning stand up. This was the third loss in a row for the White Sox as they had lost a double header to the last-place Kansas City (they moved to Oakland next year) Athletics on Wednesday. The White Sox were eliminated from the race because they were two games behind with two to play and the Twins and the Red Sox were both ahead of them and playing each other. The Red Sox and the Twins enjoyed their second day off in a row while the Tigers were on their third day of rest.
At the end of the day the Twins were one game in first place and the Red Sox and Tigers were one game back but the Tigers had four games to play against the Angels while the Twins would visit the Red Sox for two so the Twins and the Tigers controlled their own destiny. The Red Sox could beat the Twins twice and still lose to the Tigers. If the Twins and the Tigers both won all their games they would have finished tied for the pennant. We are ready for Saturday.