The One. The Only. The Man.

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Stan Musial

3-Time National League MVP Stan Musial

3-Time National League MVP Stan Musial

For more than two decades, Stan Musial epitomized consistent excellence for the St. Louis Cardinals, the only major league team he ever played for. Musial hit for average (with seven batting titles to his credit), hit for power (with 475 career home runs), drove in runs (with 100 or more RBIs in 10 different seasons), and drove National League pitchers nutty. He played for three World Series champions, and won the National League Most Valuable Player award three times.

Musial started his professional baseball career as a pitcher, signed by the  Cardinals while still in high school in 1938. He suffered a shoulder injury in the minors that ended his career as a pitcher and nearly ended his baseball career. But he made his debut in St. Louis as a 20-year-old outfielder in 1941, batting .426 over the last 12 games of that season. In his 1942 rookie season, he batted .315 with 10 home runs and 72 RBIs. He followed up in 1943 by hitting a league-leading .357, also leading the National League in hits (220), doubles (48) and triples (20). That performance earned him his first MVP award. He batted .347 in 1944, finishing second to Brooklyn’s Dixie Walker in hitting.

Musial missed the 1945 campaign by serving a tour in the Navy, and returned in 1946 to claim his second batting title (.365) and second MVP, while leading the Cardinals to their third World Series championship in five years. He won his third batting title in 1948 with a career-best .376 average. He led the NL again in hits (230), doubles (46), triples (18), runs batted in (131) and slugging percentage (.450). He also won his third Most Valuable Player award in five years.

As dominant as Musial was in the 1940s, he performed at nearly the same consistently high level throughout the 1950s. He won four more batting titles and hit for a combined .330 during the 1950s, averaging 40 doubles, 30 home runs and 108 RBIs per season.

Stan Musial won 7 batting titles while collecting 3,630 hits.

Stan Musial won 7 batting titles while collecting 3,630 hits.

He played four seasons into the 1960s, hitting .330 in 1962 (at age 41) with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs. In 1963, Musial batted .255 in his final campaign, the lowest batting average of his 22-season career. He finished with 3,630 hits – amazingly, with identical hit totals of 1,815 at home and on the road. He finished with a career batting average of .331, and held or shared 17 major league records, 29 National League records and nine All-Star Game records (including the most All-Star appearances, tied with Willie Mays at 24).

Musial was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

 

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Rock Around The Clock

 

Lights Out: Rocky Colavito Goes 7-10 in a 22-Inning Game

When: June 24, 1962

Where:  Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Michigan

Game Time: 7:00

Attendance: 35,368

It started out like any other Yankees-Tigers match-up on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But after Tigers starter Frank Lary threw the first pitch to Yankee shortstop Tom Tresh, little did either team – or the 35,000 Tigers fans in attendance – know that the outcome was seven hours away.

Tigers outfielder Rocky Colavito collected 7 hits in a 22-inning game with the New York Yankees.

Tigers outfielder Rocky Colavito collected 7 hits in a 22-inning game with the New York Yankees.

Or that Detroit Tigers outfielder Rocky Colavito would put on an unforgettable hitting display in 22 innings of baseball.

Lary had a reputation for being a “Yankee killer.” A 23-game winner in 1961, the Tigers ace struggled against the Yankee bats on this day, allowing 7 runs in the first 2 innings, all earned, including the three-run homer Lary surrendered to Yankee third baseman Clete Boyer. The Tigers scored 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the third off Yankees starter Bob Turley with a three-run homer off the bat of right fielder Purnal Goldy (it would be one-third of his career total).

The Tigers added three more runs in the bottom of the third off Jim Coates with an RBI single by shortstop Chico Fernandez and a two-run double by catcher Mike Roarke. The Tigers tied the game at 7 in the bottom of the sixth. Colavito singled off Bill Stafford to score Bill Bruton. And that’s the way it stayed until inning 22.

In all that day (and into the evening), Colavito would hit five more singles, plus a triple, going 7-10 with a walk through 22 innings. Known primarily for his power (45 home runs and 140 RBIs in 1961), Colavito could also hit for contact. He collected 1,730 hits during his 14-year career.Jim_Bouton_1963_2

Colavito’s performance went for naught in the win column. The slugfest of the first six innings turned into a relief pitching duel, as both teams were shut out for 15 consecutive innings. In the top of the twenty-second inning, Jack Reed’s two-run homer off Phil Regan finally broke the scoreless streak. In the bottom half of that frame, Jim Bouton retired the first two Tigers before Colavito collected his sixth single of the game. But Bouton got Norm Cash to fly out to John Blanchard in left field to end the game. Colavito was stranded at first, one of 22 Tigers left on base in the course of that marathon loss.

 

 

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More Than Meets the Eye

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Dick Stigman

Left-hander Dick Stigman won only 46 games in seven major league seasons, but it wasn’t for any particular lack of ability or drive on his part. Stigman was a tough competitor and a hard thrower whose won-lost record belied his effectiveness on the mound. Injuries and a lack of timely run support were the biggest challenges he faced in his all-too-short career.

Dick Stigman went 12-5 in 1962, posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the American League with a .706 winning percentage.

Dick Stigman went 12-5 in 1962, posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the American League with a .706 winning percentage.

A Minnesota native, Stigman was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1954. He made his major league debut with the Tribe in 1960, and was selected to be part of the American League All-Star team as a rookie. He finished his first season at 5-11 with a 4.51 ERA as a starter and reliever. He started 18 games and finished 16 in relief, with nine saves.

Injuries limited him to 22 appearances and a 2-5 record in 1961. The Indians traded Stigman (with Vic Power) to the Minnesota Twins for Pedro Ramos. Stigman went 12-5 in his first season with the Twins, posting a 3.66 ERA and leading the American League with a .706 winning percentage. In 1963 he went 15-15 with a 3.25 ERA and a career-high 241 innings pitched. His numbers for 1963 don’t tell the whole story about his pitching that season. Seven of his 15 losses were one-run decisions. The Twins were shut out four times when Stigman started, and the team scored less than three runs for Stigman in seven other starts. With a little more support (from a team known for its offensive firepower), Stigman could have easily won 20 games in 1963.

In 1964, his record slipped to 6-15 with a 4.03 ERA. But again, the Twins’ bats seem to go silent when Stigman pitched. They were shut out during five of his starts, and scored less than three runs in 11 Stigman starts.

Injuries limited Stigman to a 4-2 record in 1965, and in the following off-season he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Russ Nixon and Chuck Schilling. He was 2-1 for Boston as a starter-reliever in 1966, and then was dealt with Rollie Sheldon to the Cincinnati Reds. He would never pitch for Cincinnati, or for any other major league team.

Stigman finished his career with a 46-54 record and a 4.03 ERA.

 

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Got You Covered in Every Field

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder could find many ways to help his team, starting with his ability to play any outfield position with equal skill. But he was more than just a defensive replacement. Snyder batted .280 or better in half of his 12 major league seasons, with a .300 or better on-base percentage in 10 of the first 11 seasons that he played.

Snyder played 7 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting .305 in 1962 and .306 in 1966

Snyder played 7 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting .305 in 1962 and .306 in 1966

Snyder was signed by the New York Yankees in 1953 and toiled for six years in the Yankees’ farm system until he was acquired by the Kansas City Athletics in 1959. He opened the season with his new team and played 73 games in his rookie campaign, batting .313 and finishing third in the balloting for American League Rookie of the Year (won in 1959 by Bob Allison). He hit .260 for the A’s in 1960, and after the season’s end was traded with Whitey Herzog to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Archer, Bob Boyd, Wayne Causey, Clint Courtney and Al Pilarcik.

Snyder played seven seasons in Baltimore, hitting .305 in 1962 and .306 in 1966, the same year that he set personal highs in doubles (21) and RBIs (41). He batted a combined .280 during his tour in Baltimore.

In November of 1967, the Orioles traded Snyder with Luis Aparicio and John Matias to the Chicago White Sox for Don Buford, Bruce Howard and Roger Nelson. He played only a little more than two months in Chicago when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Leon Wagner. Snyder hit a combined .241 for Chicago and Cleveland in 1968, and then batted .248 in a full season in Cleveland for 1969. In the off-season he was traded one more time: with Max Alvis to the Milwaukee Brewers for Frank Coggins, Roy Foster and cash. Snyder hit .232 for the Brewers in 1970, and retired with 984 hits and a career batting average of .271.

 

Twins Sign Prospect with Hall of Fame Future

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(June 24, 1964) The Minnesota Twins today signed an infielder with speed, a quick bat … and a Hall of Fame future.

Rod Carew stole home 7 times during the 1969 season, one shy of Ty Cobb's major league record.

Rod Carew stole home 7 times during the 1969 season, one shy of Ty Cobb’s major league record.

Playing for the semi-pro Bronx Cavaliers, Rod Carew signed with the Twins after being scouted by Herb Stein and Monroe Katz, whose son was a teammate of Carew’s on the Cavaliers.

A native of Panama, Carew played 37 games in the Twins’ minor league system during the rest of the summer of 1964, batting .325. He batted .303 in 1965, and made the Twins’ roster for the 1967 season, batting .292 as Minnesota’s second baseman and winning honors as the American League Rookie of the Year.

Carew’s career in the major leagues would last 19 seasons. He would collect 3,053 hits with a career batting average of .328 … and win seven American League batting titles along the way.

An 18-time All-Star, Carew would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

 

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A Stroke of Power

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Roy Sievers

Roy Sievers broke into the big leagues in a big way, and for nearly two decades was a consistent run producer for five different major league teams.

Roy Sievers

Roy Sievers

Sievers’ career spanned three decades. He broke in with the St. Louis Browns in 1949, winning Rookie of the Year honors that season by batting .306 with 16 home runs and 96 RBIs. Plagued by injuries, he failed to match that level of hitting productivity over the next four seasons and was traded to the Washington Senators prior to the 1954 season.

Sievers batted only .232 for the Senators in 1954, but hit 24 home runs with 102 RBIs. He hit even better in 1955, with a .271 average, 25 home runs and 106 RBIs. Sievers best season came in 1957, when he posted career highs in home runs (42) and runs batted in (114), leading the American League in both categories while batting .301.

Prior to the 1960 season, Sievers was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Earl Battey and Don Mincher, and he hit .295 for the White Sox in 1960 with 28 home runs and 93 RBIs. His performance was nearly identical in 1961, again batting .295 with 27 home runs and 92 RBIs. After 2 seasons in Chicago, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for John Buzhardt and Charley James, and averaged 20 home runs and 81 RBIs over the next two seasons for the Phillies.

Roy Sievers led the American League in home runs and runs batted in in 1957.

Roy Sievers led the American League in home runs and runs batted in in 1957.

By 1964, the now-37-year-old Sievers was relegated into a supporting role for the Phillies, and was traded to the Washington Senators before the end of the season. He retired 12 games into the 1965 season.

Sievers played for 17 years in the major leagues, batting .267 for his career with 318 home runs and 1,147 RBIs. He hit 20 or more home runs in nine consecutive seasons and had 90 or more RBIs in six different seasons. Sievers was an All-Star four times.

Blockbuster Deal Sends Wilhelm to White Sox

 

Swap Shop – Chicago and Baltimore Trade Future Hall of Famers

It was a trade that saw the exchange of two future Hall of Famers.

In 5 seasons with the Orioles, Wilhelm was a combined 43-39 with a 2.42 ERA.

In 5 seasons with the Orioles, Wilhelm was a combined 43-39 with a 2.42 ERA.

On January 14, 1963, the Baltimore Orioles acquired All-Star shortstop Luis Aparcio and outfielder Al Smith from the Chicago White Sox for four players, including reliever Hoyt Wilhelm,

The White Sox also received shortstop and 1960 Rookie of the Year Ron Hansen, outfielder Dave Nicholson and infielder Pete Ward as part of the deal. Ward would have an outstanding years for the White Sox, hitting 22 home runs and driving in 84 runs to win the Rookie of the Year award for the 1963 season.

Aparicio played for five seasons with the Orioles, batting .251 and stealing 166 bases. He won two more Gold Gloves with the Orioles, and claimed nine Gold Gloves during his 18-year career. In 1967, he was traded back to the White Sox in the deal that brought Don Buford to the Orioles.

Aparicio played for 5 seasons with the Orioles, batting .251 and stealing 166 bases.

Aparicio played for 5 seasons with the Orioles, batting .251 and stealing 166 bases.

In five seasons with the Orioles, Wilhelm was a combined 43-39 with a 2.42 ERA. He appeared in 185 games – 43 as a starter – saving 40 games while pitching five shutouts, the only shutouts of his career. He also pitched his only no-hitter with the Orioles, and led the American League with a 2.19 ERA in 1959, when he recorded a career-high 15 victories. Wilhelm would spend six seasons with the White Sox, appearing in 361 games and saving 98 with a combined 1.92 ERA.

Both Aparicio and Wilhelm were destined for future Hall of Fame induction. Speed and defense made Aparicio the American League’ premier shortstop from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. An 11-time All-Star, he collected 2,677 hits (more than any shortstop until he was passed by Derek Jeter). Aparicio played more games at shortstop than any other player in major league history (2,581). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Throughout the 1960s, no relief pitcher was as consistently effective as Wilhelm. His 1,070 career appearances were the major league record at the time Wilhelm called it quits. He remains the all-time major league leader in career wins in relief (124) and career innings pitched in relief (1,871).

An eight-time All-Star, Wilhelm was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

The Game that Proved Nothing’s Sacred

 

Lights Out: Roger Maris Hits 61st Home Run

When: October 1, 1961

Where:  Yankee Stadium, New York, New York

Game Time: 1:57

Attendance: 23,154

 

The last home run of the 1961 regular season changed baseball forever.

It was the fourth inning of a scoreless game, the season’s last game. Boston’s starter, Tracy Stallard, was pitching brilliantly, allowing only a Tony Kubek single over the first three innings.

Babe and Beyond With one swing, Roger Maris went where no other baseball player had gone before – beyond the 60-home run barrier.

Babe and Beyond
With one swing, Roger Maris went where no other baseball player had gone before – beyond the 60-home run barrier.

Kubek struck out to open the fourth inning. The next batter was Roger Maris, who would win his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award after the 1961 season. Maris turned on a Stallard fastball and rocketed it into the seats in right field. That made it 1-0 Yankees.

The game would end that way, with Stallard giving up only one run on five hits over seven innings in taking his seventh loss in nine decisions. Three Yankees pitchers – Bill Stafford, Hal Reniff and Luis Arroyo – shared in the shutout, with Stafford the winner (14-9) and Arroyo setting a single-season record for saves (29).

But the game belonged to Maris, and to the ghost of Babe Ruth that the Yankees right-fielder had chased feverishly for the past two months. For the first time in more than 40 years, the record for the most home runs in a season did not belong to the game’s most popular icon.

Now Serving Number 60 … and 61 The pitchers who served up the last 2 Roger Maris home runs of the 1961 season: Jack Fisher (left) of the Baltimore Orioles, and Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox.

Now Serving Number 60 … and 61
The pitchers who served up the last 2 Roger Maris home runs of the 1961 season: Jack Fisher (left) of the Baltimore Orioles, and Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox.

The impossible had been accomplished, even with the help of an asterisk. (Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick had ruled earlier that, unless Maris eclipsed Ruth’s home run mark in 154 games – the length of Ruth’s season – any home run record achieved in 1961’s 162-game season would be a record with the stain of an asterisk.) Asterisk or not, Maris had done what few believed would ever be done.

The most sacred record of baseball’s most hallowed “golden era” had been blasted by a modern-day usurper in pinstripes.

Now no baseball record would be safe. What the giants of baseball’s past had done could be bested after all.

Maris proved it. And soon even more of baseball’s most-honored records were destined to fall.

Lights Out!

 

 

Excerpt from Lights Out! Unforgettable Performances from Baseball’s Real Golden Age

Man of Many Firsts

 

Glancing Back and Remembering Elston Howard

The career of Elston Howard belonged to a gentleman who was both a great ballplayer and a true pioneer in so many aspects of the modern game.

Elston Howard 9-time All-Star and 1963 AL MVP

Elston Howard
9-time All-Star and 1963 AL MVP

A standout athlete in high school, Howard turned down college football scholarships to play for the Kansas City Monarchs starting in 1948. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1950, and made his first appearance with the Yankees in 1955, the first African American to play in a Yankee uniform. (He also got a hit in his first at-bat for the Yankees.)

For the next five years Howard played fill-in roles at catcher, first base and in the outfield for Yankee teams loaded with talent. By 1961, he had become the Yankees’ regular catcher, hitting .348 that year with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs. In 1962, he drove in a career-high 91 runs, and in 1963, Howard hit 28 home runs with 85 RBIs to win the American League Most Valuable Player award, the first African American to do so.

Howard’s defense was as solid as his hitting, and he won the Gold Glove for catching in 1963 and 1964. Howard was also an excellent handler of pitchers. In his 13 seasons with the Yankees, Howard was chosen for the American League All-Star team nine times.

Howard appeared in 54 World Series games, the third highest total in major league history behind only Yankee teammates Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle. (Another first: Howard homered in his debut World Series at-bat.) The last seven World Series appearances were with the Boston Red Sox, where Howard played a critical in the Bosox’ pennant-winning re-emergence after being dealt to Boston midway through the 1967 season. He retired after the 1968 season.

Astros Fall to Marichal’s No-Hit Pitching

Juan Marichal's 1963 no-hitter against the Houston Colts was the first by a Giants pitcher in 34 years.

Juan Marichal’s 1963 no-hitter against the Houston Colts was the first by a Giants pitcher in 34 years.

 

From This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(June 15, 1963) At Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the Giants today defeated the Houston Colts 1-0 behind the no-hit pitching of ace Juan Marichal (10-3).

It was the first no-hitter by a Giants pitcher in 34 years, and the first since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.

The 25-year old Dominican native outdueled Colt .45’s right-hander Dick Drott. Drott (2-4) pitched a three-hit complete game. The Giants scored the game’s only run in the eighth inning on Jim Davenport’s lead-off double and second baseman Chuck Hiller two-out RBI double. The game’s only other hit was a Willie Mays single in the first inning.

Marichal faced only 29 batters, walking two and striking out five. It was his second consecutive shutout and seventh complete game of the season. Marichal would finish the 1963 season at 25-8 with a 2.41 ERA, 18 complete games and five shutouts. He would lead the National League with 321.1 innings pitched and tie for the most victories with Sandy Koufax.

More than 3 full decades - and a move from New York to San Francisco - separated the no-hitters by Carl Hubbell and Juan Marichal.

More than 3 full decades – and a move from New York to San Francisco – separated the no-hitters by Carl Hubbell and Juan Marichal.

And the previous Giants pitcher to toss a no-hitter? That was Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell. King Carl no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 8, 1929.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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