Northrup’s Slams Trounce Tribe

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(June 24, 1968) Today Jim Northrup became the sixth big leaguer to hit two grand slams in the same game. The “Slammer’s” power surge in the fifth (off Eddie Fisher) and sixth (Billy Rohr) frames enabled the Detroit Tigers to rout the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland Stadium, 14-3.

Jim Northrup hit a total of four grand slams in 1968, including two in a single game against the Indians. Northrup added a fifth grand slam during the 1968 World Series.

Jim Northrup hit a total of four grand slams in 1968, including two in a single game against the Indians. Northrup added a fifth grand slam during the 1968 World Series.

Detroit catcher Jim Price added a third Tiger home run with a solo shot in the fourth inning off Indians starter Mike Paul (0-4).

Winning pitcher for the Tigers was Denny McLain (13-2). McLain struck out eight Tribe batters and “raised” his season ERA to 2.05.

In addition to Northrup’s eight RBIs on the game, Bill Freehan and Dick McAuliffe each drove in a pair of runs. (Freehan, normally Detroit’s catcher, played first base in this game.)

The 1968 season would be one of the most productive of Jim Northrup’s 12-year career. He hit .264 with 21 home runs and a career-best 90 RBIs.

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Indians Bopper

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Fred Whitfield

Fred Whitfield was a power-hitting first baseman who had his best seasons with the Cleveland Indians in the early 1960s. Nicknamed “Wingy” for his less than powerful throwing arm, Whitfield combined with Tito Francona, Leon Wagner and Max Alvis to form the power connection at the heart of the Indians’ batting order.

In his nine-year career, Fred Whitfield batted .253 with 108 home runs and 356 RBIs.

In his nine-year career, Fred Whitfield batted .253 with 108 home runs and 356 RBIs.

Whitfield originally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1956. It took six minor league seasons for Whitfield to be promoted to the Cardinals’ roster, hitting .266 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 73 games with St. Louis in 1962. Following that rookie season, St. Louis traded Whitfield to Cleveland, where he had the chance to start at first base for the Tribe.

Whitfield hit .251 in 1963 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs, dividing the Indians’ first base duties with Joe Adcock. When Adcock was traded over the winter to the Los Angeles Angels for Wagner, it looked like the door was opened to Whitfield for full-time first base duty. But it wasn’t to be.

In 1964, the Indians inserted Bob Chance at first, and he delivered a .279 rookie season with 75 RBIs. With fewer at-bats, Whitfield’s offensive numbers dropped to 10 home runs and 29 RBIs while he hit .270. Chance turned out to be a one-season wonder, and Whitfield won back his starting position at first base, hitting .293 in 1965 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs. He followed up in 1966 with 27 home runs and 78 RBIs on a .241 batting average.

Fred Whitfield languished in the Cardinals organization before his 1962 trade to the Cleveland Indians. When he finally got the chance to play every day, he delivered for the Indians. In 1966, Whitfield batted .293 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs.

Fred Whitfield languished in the Cardinals organization before his 1962 trade to the Cleveland Indians. When he finally got the chance to play every day, he delivered for the Indians. In 1966, Whitfield batted .293 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs.

In 1967, the Indians acquired Tony Horton from the Boston Red Sox and again Whitfield was relegated to a back-up position, hitting only .218 with nine homers and 31 RBIs. In the off-season, Cleveland traded Whitfield with George Culver and Bob Raudman to the Cincinnati Reds for Tommy Harper. He saw limited action with the Reds over the next two seasons, hitting a combined .224 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. Whitfield appeared in four games with the Montreal Expos in 1970 before being released and retiring at age 32.

Whitfield finished his nine-season major league career with a .253 batting average. His 108 home runs during the 1960s ranks his 60th among major league sluggers.

 

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He Brought His Heart to San Francisco

 

Swap Shop: How Billy Pierce Became a Giant … Who Saved a Pennant

In more than one way, Billy Pierce was the difference that got the San Francisco Giants into the 1962 World Series, and he accomplished this when he was generally considered washed up and a shell of what he had been a decade before.

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Billy Pierce was regarded by many as the best pitcher in the American League. In his prime during the 1950s, Billy Pierce was regarded by many as the best pitcher in the American League.

The glory years for Pierce came in the 1950s when, as the ace of the Chicago White Sox staff, he rivaled New York Yankees southpaw Whitey Ford for recognition as the best left-hander in the American League, if not the American League’s best pitcher, period.

Pierce was signed by the Detroit Tigers and traded to the White Sox in 1949. He was a combined 27-30 in his first two seasons with the White Sox, and then won 15 games in both 1951 and 1952, followed by an 18-12 campaign in 1953. After slipping to 9-10 in 1954, he won 15 games again in 1956 (while leading the major leagues with a 1.97 ERA) and was a 20-game winner for the White Sox in 1956 and in 1957. He led the league in complete games from 1956 through 1958, and overall posted a 186-152 record in 13 seasons with the White Sox.

In November of 1961, San Francisco sent Bob Farley, Eddie Fisher and Dom Zanni to the White Sox for Pierce and Don Larsen. It was one of the most important moves made by the Giants’ front office over that winter, as Pierce, who was 10-9 in his last season with Chicago, won his first eight decisions for the Giants. He moved to the bullpen through the heat of the summer, and returned to the starting rotation in August, winning five out of six decisions.

After going 10-9 in 1961, his final season with the White Sox, Billy Pierce was 16-6 for the Giants in 1962 – including a victory in the first game of the playoff with the Dodgers.

After going 10-9 in 1961, his final season with the White Sox, Billy Pierce was 16-6 for the Giants in 1962 – including a victory in the first game of the playoff with the Dodgers.

The 1962 National League regular season ended in a dead heat between the Giants and their West Coast rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Finishing the regular season at 15-6, Pierce was selected by Giants manager Al Dark to pitch the opener of the three-game playoff and responded with a three-hit, 8-0 shutout. Game Two in Los Angeles saw the Dodgers tie the playoffs with an 8-7 victory.

On October 3, 1962, the playoff and the pennant race came down to a single game. In the top of the third, an RBI single by Harvey Kuenn and a sacrifice fly by second baseman Chuck Hiller gave the Giants a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers scored one run against Juan Marichal in the fourth inning and took the lead in the sixth inning on Tommy Davis’ two-run homer.

In the seventh inning, the Dodgers went up 4-2. In the top of the ninth, the Giants scored four runs on only two hits, and led 6-4 with the Dodgers coming up for their last at-bats.

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On two days’ rest after pitching a three-hit shutout, Billy Pierce closed out the Dodgers in the ninth inning of the third playoff game, preserving a come-from-behind victory and the National League pennant.

In the bottom of the ninth, Dark turned again to Pierce to wrap up the game and the pennant. After shutting out the Dodgers just two days before, Pierce added one more scoreless inning to his playoff ledger, retiring the Dodgers in order to give the Giants their first National League pennant since 1954.

 

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Making Papa’s Day Perfect

 

Lights Out: Phillies’ Jim Bunning Achieves Pitching Perfection

When: June 21, 1964

Where:  Shea Stadium, New York, New York

Game Time: 2:19

Attendance: 32,026

Jim Bunning was a pitcher with two careers. Both were of Hall of Fame caliber.

In his first season with the Phillies, Jim Bunning went 19-8 with a 2.62 ERA – and one perfect game.

In his first season with the Phillies, Jim Bunning went 19-8 with a 2.62 ERA – and one perfect game.

For the first nine of his 17 big league seasons, Bunning was one of the best right-handed pitchers in the American League, winning 118 games for mostly mediocre Detroit Tigers teams, leading the league in victories once (20-8 in 1957) and in strikeouts twice (201 in 1959 and 1960 each).

When Bunning was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1964 season, he started the year – and his second baseball career – with a vengeance. He immediately established himself as the ace of a Phillies staff that was in its first pennant race in more than a decade. In fact the Phillies were in first place by two games going into a Father’s Day matinee against the New York Mets.

For all practical purposes, the game was decided in the top of the first inning. John Briggs led off the game by working Mets starter Tracy Stallard for a walk. John Herrnstein bunted Briggs to second, and then Stallard struck out Johnny Callison for the second out. The next batter, third baseman Dick Allen, smashed the ball to left field to drive in Briggs.

It would turn out to be all the runs Jim Bunning would need on this Father’s Day.

Jim Bunning was the first player to pitch a no-hitter in each league. And he was the first pitcher to win more than 100 games in each league.

Jim Bunning was the first player to pitch a no-hitter in each league. And he was the first pitcher to win more than 100 games in each league.

Bunning struck out Mets lead-off hitter Jim Hickman, then induced Ron Hunt to ground out to Tony Taylor at second base and Ed Kranepool  to pop up to Phillies shortstop Cookie Rojas. A three-up, three-down inning for Bunning. He would have eight more before the afternoon was over.

The Phillies scored another run in the second and four more runs in the sixth, including a solo home run by Callison and a two-run single by Bunning, who allowed no Mets base runners in retiring all 27 batters he faced. He ended the game with 10 strikeouts, including two each in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

Bunning’s 1964 season would turn out to be the best of his career. In 39 starts, he went 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA in 284.1 innings pitched. He completed 13 of his starts, and five were shutouts. He made two relief appearances, and earned saves in both of them.

And he was the first National League pitcher to throw a perfect game in the Twentieth Century.

Grand Slam Debut

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(June 25, 1968) In the third at-bat of his major league career, San Francisco Giants outfielder Bobby Bonds hit a grand slam off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher John Purdin.

Bobby Bonds became the first major league player in the Twentieth Century to hit a grand slam home run in his first game.

Bobby Bonds became the first major league player in the Twentieth Century to hit a grand slam home run in his first game.

In the game, the Giants beat the Dodgers 9-0 behind the two-hit pitching of left-hander Ray Sadecki (8-9).

In hitting a bases-loaded home run in his debut game, the 22-year-old Bonds joined Philadelphia Nationals pitcher Bill Duggelby as the only other player to accomplish that feat. Duggelby hit his first-game grand slam in 1898, in his first at-bat.

For his debut game, Bonds went one for three, with the grand slam being his first major league hit. He was hit by a pitch from Dodgers starter Claude Osteen (6-10) in the fifth inning.

Bonds appeared in 81 games during his rookie season, hitting .254 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs. The next year, Bonds was an everyday outfielder for the Giants, hitting .259 with 32 home runs and 90 RBIs. He also led the National League in runs scored in 1969 with 120.

 

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Deep in the Heart of Pinstripes

 

The Glove Club: Bobby Richardson

Of the great New York Yankees teams of the 1960s, the most under-rated player – amid a roster of perennial All-Stars – was second baseman Bobby Richardson.

Bobby  Richardson was a five-time Gold Glove winner at second base for the Yankees. He retired with a .979 fielding percentage.

Bobby Richardson was a five-time Gold Glove winner at second base for the Yankees. He retired with a .979 fielding percentage.

A career .266 hitter, Richardson twice batted .300 or better (and led the American League with 209 hits in 1962). But his bat wasn’t what kept him in the lineup. Nor was it needed. In a lineup that featured hitters such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Bill Skowron, Yogi Berra and Tom Tresh, the Yankees had plenty of run-producing support.

What made Richardson most valuable to five consecutive American League pennant winners was his consistent defense at second base. He was the Gold Glove winner at that position every year from 1961-1965. And he rarely took a day off, averaging 159 games per season over that five-year period. He retired with a .979 fielding percentage.

He was the anchor in an infield that featured Skowron (and later, Joe Pepitone) at first base, Clete Boyer at third, and Tony Kubek (with help from Tresh) at shortstop. All of them were All-Stars, as was Richardson (seven times).

In the World Series (Richardson played in seven), he was a dynamo at-bat and in the field. His bat in the 1960 World Series (11 hits, 12 RBIs) made him the Most Valuable Player (the only World Series MVP selected from the losing team). And he set a record with 13 hits in the 1964 World Series.

Of course, it was his final-out catch of a blistering Willie McCovey line drive that saved the 1962 World Series for the Yankees, the only major league team he ever played for.

Cardinal Pennant Saver

 

Oh, What a Relief: Barney Schultz

It was August 1, 1964 when the St. Louis Cardinals bolstered their bullpen by calling up pitcher Barney Schultz. A knuckleballer by trade, Schultz appeared in 30 of the 40 games the Cardinals would play over the rest of the 1964 season. He finished 22 of those games and saved 14 of them with a 1.64 ERA.

Barney Schultz appeared in 30 games for the St. Louis Cardinals over the last six weeks of the 1964 season. He saved 14 games with a 1.64 ERA as the Cardinals took the National League pennant by a single game.

Barney Schultz appeared in 30 games for the St. Louis Cardinals over the last six weeks of the 1964 season. He saved 14 games with a 1.64 ERA as the Cardinals took the National League pennant by a single game.

The Cardinals were in sixth place when Schultz rejoined the team. They finished the season as National League and, ultimately, World Series champions for 1964.

Before the start of the 1964 World Series, Cardinals manager Johnny Keane said of his long-time friend: “Without him, we wouldn’t be here.”

Schultz spent a total of seven seasons in the major leagues … and 21 years in the minors. His career was a testimony to the uncertainty of the knuckleball (and how much it’s disliked in baseball management) as well as to the persistence of Barney Schultz.

Schultz was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1944 and spent the next decade toiling in the minor leagues. His first exposure to major league batters came in 1955, when he appeared in 19 games for the Cardinals and recorded four saves. He didn’t make it back to the majors until 1959, when he was 1-2 in 13 appearances for the Detroit Tigers.

Barney Schultz spent 21 years in the minor leagues. He won a total of 20 games with 35 saves over seven season in the major leagues.

Barney Schultz spent 21 years in the minor leagues. He won a total of 20 games with 35 saves over seven seasons in the major leagues.

Then he slipped back into the minors until 1961. Schultz went 7-6 with a 2.70 ERA and seven saves for the Chicago Cubs, and in 1962 he appeared in 51 games for the Cubs, going 5-5 with a 3.82 ERA.

In 1963, Schultz was traded to the Cardinals for outfielder Leo Burke. He was 2-0 for the Cardinals in 24 appearances with a 3.57 ERA and one save. After his monumental 1964 two-month season, Schultz pitched one more season for the Cardinals, going 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 1965. He pitched one more season professionally, with Tulsa in the Pacific Coast League, and then retired as a player, but stayed in baseball through the 1970s as a pitching instructor and coach.

For his major league career, Schultz went 20-20 with a 3.63 ERA and 35 saves.

 

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Silent Anchor in a Sea of Stars

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Julian Javier

From 1964 through 1968, no National League team was more dominant than the St. Louis Cardinals. No team had more stars at more positions.

Julian Javier spent 12 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman, batting .258 and scoring an average of 60 runs per season.

Julian Javier spent 12 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman, batting .258 and scoring an average of 60 runs per season.

In the midst of all those stars was a steady second baseman – a singles hitter who was a first-rate bunter and heads-up baserunner – who held the infield together defensively and provided several clutch hits that were critical to the Cardinals’ success.

That second baseman was Julian Javier, who in 1964 combined with third baseman Ken Boyer, shortstop Dick Groat and first baseman Bill White to field an all-Cardinals starting infield for the All-Star game. It was the first of two All-Star appearances for Javier.

Javier was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent four years in the Pirates’ minor league system until he was traded in 1959 with pitcher Ed Bauta and infielder Dick Gray for pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell. Javier stepped right into the Cardinals’ everyday lineup, hitting .237 as a rookie in 1960 and improving his batting average to .279 the next season.

His offensive productivity increased steadily. In 1964, though his batting average slipped to .241, he hit 19 home runs with a career-best 65 runs batted in. In 1967 he had his best all-around season offensively, hitting .281 with 14 home runs and 64 RBIs. His performance that season earned him votes in the Most Valuable Player race, finishing ninth in the balloting.

Julian Javier’s three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series sealed the Series for the Cardinals.

Julian Javier’s three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series sealed the Series for the Cardinals.

Due to his bat control, Javier was an excellent hit-and-run man. And though he never won a Gold Glove, he was considered one of the better defensive second basemen in the league.

After 12 seasons in St. Louis, Javier was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Tony Cloninger in 1972. He retired after the 1972 season, his only season in Cincinnati, with 1,469 hits and a career batting average of .257. In 19 World Series appearances, he hit a combined .333. His three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series sealed the victory for pitcher Bob Gibson and the Series for the Cardinals.

 

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Sonny Silences the Senators’ Bats

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(June 10, 1966) Cleveland Indians hurler Sonny Siebert today threw what would be the only no-hitter of the 1966 season, defeating the Washington Senators, 2-0.

Sonny Siebert faced only 28 batters in no-hitting the Washington Senators on June 10, 1966. Siebert walked one and struck out seven.

Sonny Siebert faced only 28 batters in no-hitting the Washington Senators on June 10, 1966. Siebert walked one and struck out seven.

Siebert (5-3) faced only 28 Washington batters in pitching the no-hit gem.

The only Senator base runner came from a fifth inning walk to first baseman Dick Nen.

Siebert got all the run support he would need on Leon Wagner’s solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. Wagner’s sixth home run of the season came off Washington starter Phil Ortega (5-3)

The Indians added an insurance run in the fifth inning when center fielder Vic Davalillo walked, stole second, and scored on Chico Salmon’s single to center field.

Siebert struck out seven Washington batters. He would finish the 1966 season with a record of 16-8 and a 2.80 ERA. While leading the Indians’ staff in victories for 1966, this game would be Siebert’s only shutout of the season.

 

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Hits and Smiles

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Manny Sanguillen

Manny Sanguillen was not only one of the best catchers of his era, but also projected a personality that made him easy to like. He was a good catcher and outstanding hitter, one of the best “bad ball” hitters ever. And while his best seasons came in the 1970s, his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates began in the 1960s, and early on he showed what kind of impact player he would become.

Manny Sanguillen was a slashing, line drive hitter whose strike zone included any pitch he could reach. From 1969-1976, Sanguillen hit for a combined .303 average.

Manny Sanguillen was a slashing, line drive hitter whose strike zone included any pitch he could reach. From 1969-1976, Sanguillen hit for a combined .303 average.

Sanguillen was signed by the Pirates in 1964 and made his major league debut in 1967. He made the Pirates’ roster for keeps in 1969, hitting .324 as a rookie. The next season Sanguillen hit .319, third best in the National League behind Rico Carty and Joe Torre. From 1969 through 1976, Sanguillen hit for a combined .303, with a career-best .328 in 1975.

Sanguillen was a line drive hitter who rarely walked, and rarely struck out. He never hit more than 12 home runs in a season, and had his best RBI total in 1971 with 81 runs batted in. But the powerful Pittsburgh lineup of the 1970s didn’t need home runs or RBIs from their catcher. They needed Sanguillen’s solid play behind the plate, his durability, and his consistency with the bat. Sanguillen delivered all of that.

In 1976 his batting average “slipped” to .290, and Sanguillen was traded to the Oakland Athletics for manager Chuck Tanner. He spent one season in Oakland, hitting .275, and was traded back to Pittsburgh where he spent the next three seasons as a part-time player. After the 1980 season he was traded with Bert Blyleven to the Cleveland Indians for Gary Alexander, Victor Cruz, Bob Owchinko and Rafael Vasquez. But Sanguillen never played for the Indians. He was released before the 1981 season and retired after 13 major league seasons.

A three-time All-Star, Sanguillen batted .282 in the post-season including a .379 average during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ triumphant 1971 World Series.

A three-time All-Star, Sanguillen batted .282 in the post-season including a .379 average during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ triumphant 1971 World Series.

Sanguillen collected 1500 hits with a career batting average of .296. He was an All-Star three times. In the post-season, Sanguillen hit .282 in 29 games, including a .379 average during the 1971 World Series.

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