Do you know …
What Pitcher Fanned the First Six Betters He Faced?
He entered the game with 2 outs in the bottom of the second inning. The Cincinnati Reds had already scored 4 runs in the inning, with Cincinnati shortstop Eddie Kasko standing at second.
The batter was Vada Pinson, the Cincinati Reds center fielder who would bat .292 with 100 RBIs on the season after hitting .343 in 1961.
The inning ended with Pinson striking out swinging.
It was the first strikeout of Pete Richert’s major league career … on the first batter that the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander faced in his major league debut.
But Richert wasn’t done.
In the third inning, Richert struck out the Reds … all 4 of them. (First baseman Gordy Coleman reached first on a passed ball after striking out.) In the top of the fourth, Richert struck out the first hitter – outfielder Tommy Harper – for his sixth consecutive strikeout … in what was, thus far, a 6-batter major league career.
No one before Pete Richert had opened his pitching career by striking out the first 6 major league batters he faced. And no one else has done it since.
On that day, Richert pitched a total of 3.1 hitless, scoreless innings, striking out 7 Reds batters. His brilliant debut did not go to waste. The Dodgers scored 7 runs in the bottom of the sixth, taking a 7-4 lead in a game Los Angeles would eventually win by a score of 11-7.
Richert’s rookie season in Los Angeles resulted in a 5-4 record with a 3.87 ERA. He struck out 75 batters in 81.1 innings. Richert would win only 7 more games for the Dodgers on the next 2 seasons. Following the 1964 season, he was traded with Frank Howard, Ken McMullen and Phil Ortega to the Washington Senators for John Kennedy, Claude Osteen and $100,000. (First baseman Dick Nen was later sent to the Senators as the player named later.) With Washington, Richert became the team’s ace starter, going 15-12 (with a 2.60 ERA) in 1965.