No Strikeout Shortage

 

Lights Out: Chris Short Strikes Out 18 in a Game He Can’t Win

When: October 2, 1965

Where:  Shea Stadium, New York, New York

Game Time: 4:29

Attendance: 10,371

By the 1964 season, Chris Short had arrived as a premier pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Over the next three seasons, he would be the second-best left-handed starter in the National League, looking up only to a guy named Sandy Koufax.

Chris Short pitched 15 scoreless innings against the New York Mets in 1965 but didn’t get the win as the game was called after the sixteenth inning. Short struck out 18 Mets batters

Chris Short pitched 15 scoreless innings against the New York Mets in 1965 but didn’t get the win as the game was called after the sixteenth inning. Short struck out 18 Mets batters.

Short went 17-9 in 1964 and 18-11 in 1965. He was particularly outstanding during the last month of the 1965 season, making eight starts with two relief appearances, and going 4-2 with one save and a 1.75 ERA in those 10 appearances.

In two of his best games that month, he pitched a combined 24 scoreless innings … and didn’t get the win in either game. The first game was a nine-inning shutout performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he was one-upped by Bob Veale’s 10-inning one-hitter.

The other incredible Short performance occurred on the next-to-last day of the season.

It was the second game of a scheduled twi-night double header with the New York Mets. In the opener, Jim Bunning ran his season record to 19-9 with a two-hit, 6-0 shutout. Short started the second game, and continued the frustration for Mets’ bats.

In that game, Short blanked the Mets for 15 innings, striking out 18 Mets batters. The Mets’ only scoring threat came in the bottom of the third inning, when back-to-back doubles by Ron Hunt and Joe Christopher should have produced the game’s first run had it not been for great hustle and an outstanding throw by Tony Gonzalez (playing right field that day) that held Hunt at third base. With runners at second and third and one out, Short struck out Charlie Smith, walked Jim Hickman intentionally, and then caught Danny Napoleon looking to end the inning without a score.

Short simply outmatched the Mets lineup over the next 12 innings. Unfortunately, Mets rookie starter Rob Gardner, making only his fourth major league start, matched Short’s performance inning-for-inning, allowing just five hits in 15 scoreless frames. Both Short and Gardner were gone as the game entered the sixteenth inning, and the game was called for curfew after 18 scoreless innings and 4-1/2 hours of frustration.

Chris Short pitched 15 scoreless innings against the New York Mets in 1965 but didn’t get the win as the game was called after the sixteenth inning. Short struck out 18 Mets batters

Chris Short had an outstanding month of September to close out the 1965 season. In eight starts and two relief appearances, Short was 4-2 with a 1.75 ERA. In two games, he pitched at least nine scoreless innings with no decision.

The game was replayed the next day when the Phillies swept two games from the Mets to close out the season.

Short’s amazing last month of the 1965 season included five complete games but no shutouts. Had the Phillies scored at least one run in each of the two games when Short pitched enough scoreless innings to qualify for shutouts, he would have been a 20-game winner on the season, and would not have had to wait until 1966 to achieve that milestone.

Most Valuable in Either League

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Frank Robinson

The 1960s witnessed the prime of outfielder Frank Robinson, one of the greatest sluggers in major league baseball history. Robinson was one of two players to win the batting Triple Crown during the 1960s, and was the first player in baseball history to be named Most Valuable Player in both the National League and the American League.

Frank Robinson was the league leader in slugging four times during the 1960s.

Frank Robinson was the league leader in slugging four times during the 1960s.

And when you look at his career numbers, you see that Robinson was not only one of the most talented sluggers of the 1960s, but also one of the best all-time.

The extent of Frank Robinson’s talent on the field was matched only by the intensity of his competitive nature. Whether as a player, manager or front-office executive, Robinson has always been a winner who would settle for nothing less … from himself or from his teams. His skills, matched with that determination, made him a consistent winner – if not always the most personable guy in the clubhouse – throughout his career.

Robinson came to the major leagues through the Cincinnati Reds organization. Once he made it to the big leagues in 1956, his impact was immediate, batting .290 as a rookie and leading the National League in runs scored that year with 122. He also led the league in one other category that first season: hit-by-pitches (20), a painfully dubious accomplishment he would repeat six more times in his 21-season career.

By the beginning of the 1960s, Robinson was already a star. In 1961, he batted .323 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs as the offensive leader for the National League champion Reds. For that performance, he was named National League Most Valuable Player for 1961.

In his rookie campaign of 1956, Frank Robinson batted .290 and led the National League by scoring 122 runs.

In his rookie campaign of 1956, Frank Robinson batted .290 and led the National League by scoring 122 runs.

In 1962, his offensive numbers were even better: 39 home runs and 136 RBIs and a .342 batting average. He also led the major leagues in runs (134), doubles (51), and slugging percentage (.624) that year. But his offensive production dropped slightly over the next three seasons (averaging “only” 28 homers and 100 RBIs for those seasons). Word was leaked to the press that maybe Robinson was old for his age (29 at the time) and over the next winter the Reds shipped him to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Milt Pappas and two other players.

Frank Robinson won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1961. He was named American League MVP in 1966, the first player to take the MVP in each league.

Frank Robinson won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1961. He was named American League MVP in 1966, the first player to take the MVP in each league.

It was probably the best trade Baltimore ever made.  Robinson had a monster year in 1966, winning the American League Triple Crown with a .316 batting average, 49 home runs (tops in the majors) and 122 RBIs. Robinson also led the majors in runs scored (122), total bases (367) and slugging percentage (.637).  He was named American League Most Valuable Player for 1966, the first player to win that award in both leagues. That same year he led the Orioles to their first-ever American League pennant and World Series championship, as the Orioles swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games. Robinson’s Game Four solo home run – combined with Dave McNally’s shutout pitching – clinched the Orioles’ World Series sweep.

Due to injuries, Robinson’s numbers declined in 1967 and 1968 (as did the productivity of most major league hitters during those two years – even the healthy ones). But he had another outstanding season for Baltimore in 1969, closing out the decade batting .308 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs as Baltimore claimed its second American League championship of the decade.

For the entire decade of the 1960s, Robinson hit a combined .304 while averaging 32 home runs and 101 runs per season. He was the league leader in slugging four times during the 1960s. He finished in the top 10 in slugging every year of that decade.

A Hall of Famer with 586 career home runs and over 1800 RBIs, Robinson closed out his playing career with the Cleveland Indians, where he was also the first African-American to manage a major league team.

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Ott’s out … Musial’s In

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 25, 1962) At Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, Stan Musial today surpassed New York Giants legend Mel Ott as the National League’s all-time RBI leader.

Mel Ott

Mel Ott

Stan the Man’s two-run home run off Don Drysdale (18-4) gave the Cardinals’ outfielder 1,862 career runs batted in with the Redbirds, who lost to the Dodgers 5-2.

It was Musial’s 14th home run and 51st RBI on the season. He would finish the season – the next to last in his 22-year career – hitting a robust .330 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs … not bad for age 41.

The home run that Drysdale surrendered to Musial was one of 21 he would serve up that season. Otherwise, 1962 turned out pretty well for Dandy Don. He finished the season at 25-9 with a 2.83 ERA and led the majors in games started (41) and innings pitched (314.1)

He also collected the Cy Young award that season.

Ott remains the Giants’ all-time leader in RBIs for a season (151 in 1929) and a career. His 1,860 RBIs are one ahead of Willie Mays.

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Taking a Healthy Cut

 

Homer Happy Mack Jones

In the mid 1960s, the Milwaukee Braves fielded one of the most potent power lineups in the National League. Spearheaded by Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, the Braves’ lineup also included stellar hitters such as Rico Carty, Joe Torre, Felipe Alou and a free-swinging left-handed hitter named Mack Jones.

Mack Jones hit 31 home runs with the Milwaukee Braves in 1965.

Mack Jones hit 31 home runs with the Milwaukee Braves in 1965.

Jones was signed by the Braves in 1958 and made the big league club as a reserve outfielder in 1961. He batted .255 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 1962, but saw only limited playing time in his first three seasons with the Braves.

In 1965, Jones was named the starting center fielder for the Braves, and responded with the best season of his career: a .262 batting average with 31 home runs and 75 RBIs. His power numbers dropped off in each of the next two seasons, hitting 23 home runs in 1966 and 17 homers in 1967.

Following the 1967 season, he was traded with Jim Beauchamp and Jay Ritchie to the Cincinnati Reds for Deron Johnson.  In his only season in Cincinnati, Jones hit 10 home runs with 34 RBIs on a .252 batting average.

Jones was the fourth selection by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. He batted .270 for the Expos in 1969 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs. He also matched his career high with 23 doubles. On April 14, 1969, he hit the first home run in a major league game played in Canada.

On April 14, 1969, Mack Jones hit the first home run in a major league game played in Canada. He hit 22 home runs for the Montreal Expos in that team’s inaugural season.

On April 14, 1969, Mack Jones hit the first home run in a major league game played in Canada. He hit 22 home runs for the Montreal Expos in that team’s inaugural season.

It would be his best season with Montreal. He hit .240 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs in 1970, and played 43 games with the Expos in 1971 before being released.

Jones retired at age 32 after 10 big league seasons. He had a career batting average of .252.

Beeg Mon, Beeg Bat

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Rico Carty

Rico Carty was born to hit. He had a powerful upper body that suggested home run power, but his slashing compact swing was better suited to blistering line drives that produced plenty of runs – and one National League batting title – during his 15-year major league career.

Rico Carty had an outstanding rookie with the Milwaukee Braves in 1964, batting .330 with 22 home runs and 88 RBIs.

Rico Carty had an outstanding rookie with the Milwaukee Braves in 1964, batting .330 with 22 home runs and 88 RBIs.

Carty was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959 as a catcher, but his limitations defensively caused him to be converted to being an outfielder, his bat being so potent that he had to be in the lineup. Carty spent four years in the Braves’ minor league system, and he made a smashing rookie debut in 1964, hitting .330 (second in the National League to Roberto Clemente) with 22 home runs and 88 RBIs. He was runner-up to Dick Allen for Rookie of the Year honors that season.

Carty hit .310 for the Braves in 1965 and followed with a .326 batting average in 1966. A shoulder injury limited his hitting to .255 in 1967, and he sat out the entire 1968 season battling tuberculosis. He came back strong in 1969 with a .342 batting average, and he followed up with his best season in 1970: leading the National League with a .366 average while blasting 25 home runs with 101 RBIs.

During the winter season in 1970, Carty severely injured his knee while playing in the Dominican League and missed the entire 1971 season. He came back in 1972 hitting .277, which would be his best performance at the plate over the next five seasons, making stops with the Chicago Cubs, the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics during that period.

Rico Carty led the National League in hitting in 1970 with a .366 average.

Rico Carty led the National League in hitting in 1970 with a .366 average.

His career rebounded as he became a designated hitter with the Cleveland Indians, hitting .308 with 64 RBIs in 1975 and .310 with 83 RBIs in 1976. He split the 1978 season with Toronto and Oakland, hitting a combined .282 with 99 RBIs and a career-high 31 home runs. Carty retired after hitting .256 for Toronto in 1979.

Carty collected 1,677 hits with a career batting average of .299. He was an All-Star only once, in 1970, when he was voted into the starting outfield (along with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron) despite not even being listed on the All-Star ballot.

A Short Stop Among the Legends

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tony Kubek

Throughout both of his baseball careers–as a player and as a broadcaster–Tony Kubek was known as someone who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.

Tony Kubek was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1957. He batted .297 in his inaugural season.

Tony Kubek was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1957. He batted .297 in his inaugural season.

He was also a pretty fair ballplayer who brought solid fielding and consistent hitting to a powerful New York Yankees lineup.

Kubek was signed by the Yankees (the only team he ever played for) in 1954. He was their starting shortstop by 1957. He had a fantastic debut season, hitting .297 and winning the American League Rookie-of-the-Year award. In the 1957 World Series against the Milwaukee Braves, Kubek batted .286, with two home runs and four RBIs in Game Three.

In 1960, Kubek hit .273 with career highs in home runs (14) and RBIs (62). In 1961, his career-high 38 doubles tied him with Brooks Robinson for second in the American League, three behind league leader Al Kaline. Military service limited Kubek to 45 games in 1962, though he hit .314 with a .432 slugging percentage.

In 1963 he reclaimed his shortstop position (moving Tom Tresh to the outfield permanently) and had another solid season, hitting .257 with 21 doubles and 44 RBIs. He retired at age 29 after hitting .218 in 1965.

In nine major league seasons, Kubek was an All-Star three times.

Twin Grand Slams … in the Same Inning

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 18, 1962) At Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Twins today pulled into a virtual tie for third place with the Cleveland Indians by blasting the Tribe 14-3.

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Bob Allison’s first inning grand slam was his eleventh home run of the 1963 season. He would hit a career-best 35 home runs in 1963, while leading the American League by scoring 99 runs.

The game was over by the end of the first inning. The Twins pounded Cleveland starter Barry Latman and reliever Jim Perry for 11 runs. Included among those runs were grand slam home runs by Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew.

Allison’s bases-loaded blast came off Latman, and followed an RBI single from third baseman Rich Rollins. Catcher Earl Battey followed Allison’s slam with a solo homer. With the score 6-0, Perry replaced Latman and gave up a single to second baseman Bernie Allen before retiring Zoilo Versalles and Twins pitcher Dick Stigman. But then Bob Tuttle walked and Vic Power’s single drove in Allen. A walk to Rollins loaded the bases for Killebrew, who hit the inning’s second grand slam, putting the Twins in front 11-0.

It marked the first time since 1890 that two grand slams had been hit by the same team in one inning. It’s been done five times since.

Stigman (4-2) allowed three runs on six hits to pick up the complete game victory. He struck out 11 Indians batters.

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In addition to his grand slam, Killebrew hit a solo home run in the third inning, his 24th of the season.

He would finish the 1963 season with 45 home runs, the most in the American League.

 

 

 

 

 

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As Tough as They Come

 

Oh, What a Relief: Hal Woodeshick

Few players had as many “miles” on them as Hal Woodeshick piled up during first half of his career. He played for seven different teams in his 11-year major league career, and spent nine years in the minor leagues with 11 different teams … with years in the Army.

Hal Woodeshick definitely had to earn his way to a big league career. He spent nine years in the minor leagues – pitching for 11 different teams.

Hal Woodeshick definitely had to earn his way to a big league career. He spent nine years in the minor leagues – pitching for 11 different teams.

When he did finally arrive in the big leagues to stay, Woodeshick established himself as a “lights out” closer with a wicked slider and a bulldog temperament that was made for pitching his way out of crises.

Woodeshick signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1950 when he was 18 years old. He bounced around the minors for most of the next decade, arriving in Detroit in 1955 and making his major league debut in 1956 in two appearances with the Tigers. In 1958, he was traded with Jay Porter to the Cleveland Indians for Hank Aguirre and Jim Hegan. He was 6-6 for Cleveland as a spot starter in 1958, posting a 3.64 ERA. He was then acquired by the Washington Senators and won six games over the next two seasons, with intermittent returns to the minors.

When the Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins, Woodeshick stayed in Washington, drafted by the expansion Senators. He was 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA when he was traded to Detroit for Chuck Cottier. After going 1-1 in 12 appearances with the Tigers, Woodeshick was purchased by the Houston Colt .45s.

As part of the team’s first starting rotation (that included Turk Farrell, Ken Johnson, Bob Bruce and George Brunet), Woodeshick went 5-16 with a 4.39 ERA. In 1963, he moved to the Houston bullpen and became the team’s closer, going 11-9 with a 1.97 ERA and 10 saves. He would be a reliever for the rest of his career.

Hal Woodeshick’s best season came in 1963, when he made 61 relief appearances with the Houston Colt .45s and led the National League with 23 saves. His ERA that season was 2.76.

Hal Woodeshick’s best season came in 1963, when he made 61 relief appearances with the Houston Colt .45s and led the National League with 23 saves. His ERA that season was 2.76.

In 1963, Woodeshick emerged as one of the National League’s best closers. He appeared in 61 games and finished 48 with a league-leading 23 saves and a 2.76 ERA. In June of 1965, he was traded by the Astros with Chuck Taylor to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Cuellar and Ron Taylor. Appearing in 78 games combined, he went 6-6 with a 2.25 ERA and 18 saves. His 1965 earned run average with the Cardinals was 1.81 in 51 appearances.

In 1966, he appeared in 59 games for the Cardinals, but lost his closer position to Joe Hoerner. Yet Woodeshick had another solid year coming out of the Cardinals’ bullpen, going 2-1 with a 1.92 ERA and four saves. In 1967, he went 2-1 with a 5.18 ERA, and retired after being released by the Cardinals after the end of the season.

Woodeshick was 44-62 in 11 major league seasons with a career earned run average of 3.56. He racked up 61 saves and was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1963.

 

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Hall-ing in a Bunch of Runs

 

Career Year: Jimmie Hall – 1963

After seven years in the minor leagues, a 25-year-old outfielder named Jimmie Hall was pleasantly surprised to find himself accompanying the Minnesota Twins north following 1963 spring training.

When outfielder Jimmie Hall went to spring training in 1963, he wasn’t expected to make the Minnesota Twins’ Opening Day roster. Seven months later, he finished third in the balloting for 1963 American League Rookie of the Year.

When outfielder Jimmie Hall went to spring training in 1963, he wasn’t expected to make the Minnesota Twins’ Opening Day roster. Seven months later, he finished third in the balloting for 1963 American League Rookie of the Year.

Despite his happiness at sticking with the big league club, Hall’s expectations for significant playing time during the 1963 season had to be modest. The Twins’ outfield line-up was set with Lenny Green in center field flanked by two All-Stars, Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison.

At the end of May, Hall was hitting only .188 after seeing limited action. Then an injury to Green opened up the job in center field. Hall batted .322 in June with five home runs and 16 runs batted in. He hit seven more home runs in July, and then had a huge August: a .333 batting average, 13 home runs, 27 RBIs. A healthy Green didn’t have a chance of displacing Hall the way he was hitting.

Jimmie Hall batted .260 with 33 home runs and 80 RBIs in 1963 – not bad for a player who spent the first two months of the season on the bench.

Jimmie Hall batted .260 with 33 home runs and 80 RBIs in 1963 – not bad for a player who spent the first two months of the season on the bench.

Hall closed out the season strong, hitting six more home runs in September. He finished the 1963 season with a .260 batting average, 33 home runs and 80 RBIs. He placed third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Gary Peters and Pete Ward.

Hall opened the 1964 season as the team’s starting center fielder, but he couldn’t match the hitting productivity of his rookie campaign. Hall hit 25 home runs in 1964 and 20 homers in both 1965 and 1966. He was traded to the California Angels in 1967, and played for a total of six major league teams before retiring after the 1970 season.

 

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An Extra Dose of Sweet

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Lou Johnson

“Sweet Lou” Johnson was the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ offense in the mid-1960s. In those seasons, the Dodgers were winning pennants, but they were doing it primarily with the best pitching in the major leagues … with arms like those of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres, Claude Osteen and Ron Perranoski.

The Dodgers of 1965 and 1966 generally didn’t score a lot of runs, but they scored enough to win. Those teams manufactured runs with their legs as well as their bats. And Lou Johnson was an integral part of that “just enough” offense.

Lou Johnson spent 13 season in the minors before finally winning an everyday role with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965.

Lou Johnson spent 13 season in the minors before finally winning an everyday role with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965.

Johnson was an all-around star athlete, who excelled particularly on the basketball court. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1953.

He spent the next 13 years working his way into a full-time major league gig. His first opportunity came in 1962 with the Milwaukee Braves after brief appearances the two previous seasons with the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels. He appeared in 61 games with the Braves, batting .282.

In May of 1963, Johnson was traded by the Braves to the Detroit Tigers for shortstop Chico Fernandez. It meant another two seasons in the minors, but the turning point in Johnson’s career came just before the start of the 1964 season when Johnson was traded to the Dodgers for pitcher Larry Sherry.

Johnson spent 1964 in the minors and started the 1965 season as a reserve outfielder for the Dodgers. In early May the team’s hitting star and two-time batting champion, Tommy Davis, suffered a season-ending broken ankle. Johnson took over in left field and hit .259 in 131 games, with 24 doubles, 12 home runs, 58 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. In the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins, Johnson hit .296 with two home runs and four RBIs.

Lou Johnson’s best season with the Dodgers came in 1966, when he batted .272 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs.

Lou Johnson’s best season with the Dodgers came in 1966, when he batted .272 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs.

He was the Dodgers’ starting left fielder for the duration of the team’s 1966 pennant-winning season. He hit .272 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs. He followed up in 1967 by hitting .270 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Johnson would play for only two more major league seasons. Following the 1967 campaign, the Dodgers sent Johnson to the Cubs, who traded him in June of 1968 to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Willie Smith. Johnson hit .257 in 65 games with the Tribe, and just before Opening Day of 1969 he was traded to the California Angels for outfielder Chuck Hinton. Johnson hit .203 for the Angels, playing in only 61 games that season, and retired at the end of the season at age 34.

Johnson finished his eight-season major league career with a .258 batting average.

 

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