Baseball’s Best One-Day Career

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 29, 1963) On the final game of the regular season, Houston outfielder John Paciorek had an outstanding major league debut as the Colt .45’s defeated the New York Mets 13-4 at Colts Stadium in Houston.

John Paciorel went three for three with three RBIs in his only major league appearance ... a 1.000 career batting average.

John Paciorek went three for three with three RBIs in his only major league appearance … a 1.000 career batting average.

Paciorek went three for three and walked twice. He scored four runs and drove in three runs. Houston catcher John Bateman also drove in three runs.

With the bases loaded in the fourth inning and Houston trailing 4-2, Paciorek got his first major league hit by singling off Mets starter Larry Bearnarth, driving in Rusty Staub and Bob Aspromonte to tie the score. He singled off Ed Bauta in the fifth inning for his third RBI of the game.

The winning pitcher for Houston was Jim Umbricht (4-3).

John Paciorek is the brother of major leaguers Jim Paciorek and Tom Paciorek. His career was limited to that single game. He remained in organized baseball through 1969, playing in both the Houston and Cleveland minor league systems. But he never made it back to the big leagues, and never had the chance to improve his career numbers beyond that single game (including his 1.000 career batting average).

Swooping Out of the Bullpen

 

Oh, What a Relief: Phil Regan

Right-handed pitcher Phil Regan (aka, the “Vulture”) began his 13-year major league career as a starter with the Detroit Tigers. But his greatest success on the mound came after he converted to a relief specialist, where he dominated National League batters from 1966-1969.

After struggling as a starting pitcher for six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Phil Regan was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and established himself as one of the best relievers in the National League. In 1966, he was 14-1 with a 1.62 ERA and a league-leading total of 21 saves.

After struggling as a starting pitcher for six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Phil Regan was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and established himself as one of the best relievers in the National League. In 1966, he was 14-1 with a 1.62 ERA and a league-leading total of 21 saves.

Regan was signed by the Tigers in 1956 and made his major league debut in Detroit in 1960. In six seasons with the Tigers, Regan was 42-44 with a 4.50 ERA. His best season in Detroit came in 1963, when he was 15-9 with a 3.86 earned run average, his only season with the Tigers when he registered an ERA under 4.00.

Following a 1-5 season in 1965, the Tigers traded Regan to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Dick Tracewski. The Dodgers converted him to a reliever and the impact on his career – and on the Dodgers’ pennant-winning 1966 season – was immediate, and immense. Regan appeared in 65 games, all in relief, finishing 48 and saving 21, leading the National League in both of those pitching categories. His earned run average dropped to 1.62 and he posted a 14-1 record.

As the Dodgers’ fortunes dipped in 1967, so did Regan’s record. He finished that season at 6-9 with six saves and a 2.99 ERA. He appeared in five games for the Dodgers in 1968, winning two, before being traded with outfielder Jim Hickman to the Chicago Cubs for Jim Ellis and Ted Savage. The magic returned with his change of teams. Over the rest of the 1968 season, Regan was 10-5 with a 2.20 ERA. He appeared in 68 games for the Cubs, finishing 60 and saving 25, again leading the league in saves.

Regan remained the Cubs’ bullpen ace in 1969, appearing in 71 games and saving 17. He finished the 1969 season at 12-6 with a 3.70 ERA. From 1966-1969, he posted a combined record of 44-21 with 69 saves and a 2.60 ERA.

His numbers declined gradually in 1970 and 1971, going 10-14 with a 4.35 ERA and 18 saves over those two seasons. He was purchased by the Chicago White Sox in June of 1972 and was released later that season. He spent the next 30 years as a pitching coach and manager.

In 13 major league seasons, Regan compiled a record of 96-81 with a 3.84 ERA and 92 saves. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 1966.

 

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Tommy Guns Down Gibby

 

Lights Out – Tommy Davis’ game-ending home run beats Bob Gibson 1-0.

When: June 18, 1962

Where:  Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California

Game Time: 2:18

Attendance: 33,477

 

Tommy Davis had a “dream” season in 1962.

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Sandy Koufax (10-2) pitched a five-hit shutout, striking out nine Cardinals.

Coming into that campaign, he was a .277 career hitter who never drove in more than 58 runs in a season. All he did in 1962 was lead the major leagues in hits (230), RBIs (153 – still the Dodger franchise record) and batting average (.346). He also had a career-best 27 home runs and struck out only 65 times in 711 plate appearances.

One season transformed Tommy Davis from unknown part-time player to one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. And though he would repeat as National League batting champion in 1963 and collect over 2,000 hits in an 18-year major league career, he would never again approach his hitting productivity of 1962.

Especially, hitting in the clutch.

The game between St. Louis and Los Angeles on June 18, 1962 was a showcase for emerging stars … starting with the starting pitchers. On the mound for the Dodgers was Sandy Koufax, who was beginning to demonstrate the overpowering dominance that was to carry him through the 1962 season. Koufax entered the game at 9-2 with a 2.86 ERA and a league-leading 137 strikeouts in only 116.1 innings. The Cardinals’ starter was Bob Gibson, 8-4 coming into the game with a 3.17 ERA, though opponents’ batting average against Gibson was only .198 up to this game. After the game, that average would not climb much higher.

Bob Gibson (8-5) allowed the Dodgers only three hits, but the last one was a Tommy Davis walk-off.

Bob Gibson (8-5) allowed the Dodgers only three hits, but the last one was a Tommy Davis walk-off.

During his career, Davis struggled against Gibson (an affliction shared by many National League batters), hitting only .167. And in this game Davis would only go one for four, striking out twice. But as so often happened during his magical 1962 season, Davis made that one hit count.

Through the first eight innings, Koufax and Gibson were locked in a scoreless duel. Koufax had allowed only four hits, Gibson only two. In the top of the ninth, Koufax got two outs before Ken Boyer singled to left. Now a pair of future Hall of Famers faced each other as Stan Musial stepped into the batter’s box. But Musial had no opportunity to advance Boyer, who was caught trying to steal second, ending the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gibson got Ron Fairly out on a soft fly to second baseman Julian Javier. Davis was the next batter, and the game’s last, as he sent a line drive into the left field seats for a 1-0 Dodgers victory.

It was the first shutout for Koufax in 1962. He would pitch only one more in that injury-shortened season that would result in the first of his five consecutive ERA crowns (with 2.54).

For Gibson – who eventually led the league in shutouts with five in 1962 – it was another tough loss in what would be a 15-13 season with a 2.85 ERA.

And for Tommy Davis, his walk-off blast marked the third time that one of his home runs gave Koufax a 1-0 victory.

 

 

 

 

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Curve Ballin’ Cardinal

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ray Washburn

Throughout most of the 1960s, Ray Washburn was the complementary starter who rounded out the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation, and provided the day-in, day-out innings-eating consistency that every staff needs.

Ray Washburn was 68-60 for the St. Louis Cardinals in the !960s.

Ray Washburn was 68-60 for the St. Louis Cardinals in the !960s.

Washburn was signed by the Cardinals in 1960 and had worked his way into the team’s starting rotation by 1962, going 12-9 that season with a 4.10 ERA. He was off to a fine start in 1963 when a muscle tear in his pitching shoulder sidelined him for the rest of that season and for most of the Cardinals’ pennant-winning campaign in 1964. He made something of a comeback in 1965, going 9-11 with a 3.62 ERA. But he was relying more and more on breaking ball finesse since his fastball did not have its pre-injury velocity.

Washburn, despite his physical limitation, didn’t fade into also-ran status. He continued to hone his pitching skills to produce an 11-9 season in 1966 and 10-7 in 1967. He had his best season in 1968, going 14-8 with a 2.26 ERA and four shutouts. He also achieved career highs in innings pitched (215.1) and strikeouts (124).

Ray Washburn's best season came in 1968, when he was 14-8 with a 2.26 ERA and four shutouts.

Ray Washburn’s best season came in 1968, when he was 14-8 with a 2.26 ERA and four shutouts.

On September 18, Washburn no-hit the San Francisco Giants 2-0 one day after the Giants’ Gaylord Perry had pitched a no-hitter of his own against the Cardinals and Bob Gibson —the first time in major league history that back-to-back no-hitters had been pitched in the same series.

In the 1968 World Series, Washburn was the Game Three winner, beating the Detroit Tigers 7-3 on four hits (including home runs by Al Kaline and Dick McAuliffe). He was the losing pitcher in Game Six, allowing five earned runs in two innings.

Washburn was relegated to a spot starter’s role in 1969, and went 3-8 despite a respectable 3.06 ERA. Following the 1969 season, the Cardinals traded Washburn to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher George Culver. Washburn spent the 1970 season working out of the Reds bullpen. He went 4-4 in 35 games. His only appearance in the 1970 World Series was his last. He retired with a career record of 72-64 with a 3.53 ERA.

 

 

 

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Yankees Edge Red Sox 4-3 to Clinch Pennant

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 25, 1960) After one year’s absence from the World Series in 1959, the New York Yankees clinched a return ticket to the Fall Classic with a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox that made the Yankees the American League champions for 1960.

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Luis Arroyo stopped the ninth inning rally that clinched the 1960 pennant for the New York Yankees.

The Yankees broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the third inning, including a two-RBI single by Roger Maris. The Red Sox came back in the bottom of the same inning, when a single by Vic Wertz scored Pumpsie Green and Willie Tasby. Ted Williams was thrown out at home to end the inning.

The Yankees scored again in the top of the sixth inning when Yankee starting pitcher Ralph Terry singled in shortstop Tony Kubek. Terry (10-8) shut down the Red Sox through the eighth inning.

Boston rallied in the bottom of the ninth. With two runners on and two outs, Frank Malzone singled to center field to score Tasby, chasing Terry out of a complete game. The Yankees brought in their relief ace, Luis Arroyo, who got Pete Runnels to pop out to second baseman Bobby Richardson. That pennant-clinching out gave Arroyo his sixth save for that season.

It also gave Yankees manager Casey Stengel his tenth – and last – pennant as a manager.

Type-A’s Slugger

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Reggie Jackson

While the bulk of his Hall of Fame career could be found in the 1970s and early 1980s, Reggie Jackson’s best single offensive season came in 1969, when his outstanding numbers for the Oakland Athletics catapulted him among major league baseball’s dominant sluggers … a status he would maintain for nearly two decades.

Reggie Jackson's best season in the major leagues came in 1969, when he blasted 47 home runs and drove in 118 runs. He led the major leagues in runs scored (123) and led the American League in slugging percentage (.608).

Reggie Jackson’s best season in the major leagues came in 1969, when he blasted 47 home runs and drove in 118 runs. He led the major leagues in runs scored (123) and led the American League in slugging percentage (.608).

The Kansas City Athletics selected Jackson in the 1966 major league baseball draft with the second overall pick. He spent only two years in the A’s minor league system. In his rookie year of 1968 (with the Athletics now in Oakland), Jackson hit .250 with 29 home runs (fourth in the American League) and 74 RBIs (eighth best in the league). He also led the league in strikeouts, something he would do four more times in his career.

In 1969, Jackson’s home run (47) and RBI (118) totals would be career bests. He led the major leagues in runs scored (123) and led the American League in slugging percentage (.608). He finished fifth in the balloting for Most Valuable Player (he would win the MVP award in 1973). He also made his first All-Star appearance (of 14 in his career).

After tours with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and California Angels, Jackson returned to Oakland for his final season in 1987. He finished his career with 563 home runs and 1,702 RBIs.

Jackson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Look How Far a Fastball Can Take You

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Juan Pizarro

As a major league pitcher, lefty Juan Pizarro had two careers. For the first nine years of his career, he was a starter (and occasional long reliever, as even ace starting pitchers saw occasional double duty in the 1960s). During the second half of his 18-year career, Pizarro was primarily a relief specialist, whose blazing fastball would no longer hold up for nine innings but remained effective in spot relief situations, especially against left-handed batters.

Juan Pizarro's best season as a starter came in 1963 with the Chicago White Sox. He was 19-9 with a 2.56 ERA. He also struck out 193 batters.

Juan Pizarro’s best season as a starter came in 1963 with the Chicago White Sox. He was 19-9 with a 2.56 ERA. He also struck out 193 batters.

Pizarro was signed by the Milwaukee Braves and was immediately a stand-out prospect in their minor league system, winning 23 games at Jacksonville in his first professional season. He spent the next three seasons pitching effectively in AAA but with limited success as a starter-reliever for the Braves. From 1957 through 1960, Pizarro had a combined record of 23-19 with a 3.93 ERA for Milwaukee.

In December of 1960, the Braves traded Pizarro and Joey Jay to the Cincinnati Reds for shortstop Roy McMillan. On the same day, the Reds sent Pizarro and Cal McLish to the Chicago White Sox for infielder Gene Freese. The trades that day were good for Cincinnati, as both Jay and Freese played critical roles in propelling the Reds to the 1961 National League pennant. The trades were also good for Pizarro, whose arrival in Chicago launched his career as a full-time – and highly successful – starter for the White Sox.

In 1961 for the White Sox, Pizarro achieved career highs in starts (25) and innings pitched (194.2). He struck out 188 batters on his way to a 14-7 season with a 3.05 ERA. After a 12-14 season in 1962, he followed up with 16-8 in 1963 (2.39 ERA) and 19-9 in 1964 (2.56 ERA). Pizarro and teammate Gary Peters (20-8 in 1964) were recognized as the two best left-handers in the American League. Pizarro was named to the American League All-Star team in both 1963 and 1964.

As a relief specialist from 1967 through 1974, Pizarro pitched for six different teams, going 33-39 with 20 saves in 206 appearances.

As a relief specialist from 1967 through 1974, Pizarro pitched for six different teams, going 33-39 with 20 saves in 206 appearances.

However, Pizarro’s success was starting to take a toll on his arm. All those innings, all those strikeouts, all those fastballs led to arm miseries and diminished performance in 1965 (6-3) and 1966 (8-6). The White Sox traded Pizarro to the Pittsburgh Pirates as the player to be named later in the acquisition of pitcher Wilbur Wood. Pizarro transitioned quickly to a relief role that meant more appearances – and fewer total innings – to take full advantage of his still explosive fastball.

From 1967 through 1974, Pizarro pitched for six different teams, going 33-39 with 20 saves in 206 appearances. His combined ERA for that period was 3.76. He retired after the 1974 season with a career record of 131-105.

 

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Live Fast, Throw Hard.

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bo Belinsky

For a pitcher who posted only a single winning season in his career, Bo Belinsky acquired more fame per win than any major leaguer of his time or, perhaps, any time.

He was made for the spotlight, and his timing and location couldn’t have been better for attracting it.

As a rookie in 1962, Bp Belinsky was 10-11 with a 3.56 ERA. He also pitched the first no-hitter in Angels history that season.

As a rookie in 1962, Bo Belinsky was 10-11 with a 3.56 ERA. He also pitched the first no-hitter in Angels history that season.

During the early years of the Los Angeles Angels, the left-handed throwing Belinsky teamed with fellow starter Dean Chance for one of the most formidable rookie righty-lefty tandems in the American League. Belinsky was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956 and spent time in the farm systems of both the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles before being acquired in the 1961 expansion draft by the Angels.

Belinsky fired the first no-hitter in Angels franchise history during his rookie season of 1962. He started the season at 7-1, finished at 10-11 with a 3.56 ERA, and led the American league with 122 bases on balls. Belinsky won only two games for the Angels in 1963, and bounced back with a 9-8 record and a 2.86 ERA in 1964. He would win only seven more games during the five seasons remaining in his career, five seasons split between the Phillies, Astros, Pirates and Reds.

Bo Belinsky's active night life off the field made him a favorite media target. He's pictured here with teammate Dean Chance and Mamie Van Doren.

Bo Belinsky’s active night life off the field made him a favorite media target. He’s pictured here with teammate Dean Chance and Mamie Van Doren.

So what made Bo Belinsky memorable? A few brilliant moments on the field were overshadowed with a life in the fast lane that was poison to his career but a boon for every reporter that hung around Belinsky. The young Bo loved to party, and loved being seen in public with beautiful women. He was the playboy pitcher who tossed a no-hitter and then went bar-hopping with the likes of Ann-Margret and Mamie Van Doren. He held press conferences at poolside bars. What’s not to like?

Over eight major league seasons, Belinsky finished with a career record of 28-51 and a 4.10 ERA. He had great stuff, but he didn’t have the control to make the most of it. So was his a career of under-achieving, or making the most of limited abilities amid a youth well-lived?

 

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How to Pitch a One-Hitter … and Lose

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 9, 1965) It was the best game he ever pitched. And it would be the best major league game that Cubs left-hander Bob Hendley would ever pitch.

It was Bob Hendley's misfortune to pitch the best game of his major league career on the same night that his opponent -- <a rel=

It was Bob Hendley’s misfortune to pitch the best game of his major league career on the same night that his opponent — Sandy Koufax — hurled a perfect game.

But a one-hitter on this day wouldn’t be good enough to beat baseball’s best pitcher, Sandy Koufax, as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace outmatched Hendley and the Chicago Cubs 1-0 … with a perfect game.

For Koufax (22-7), it was the fourth no-hitter of his career. He was the first major league pitcher to throw more than three. In retiring all 27 Cubs batters in order, Koufax struck out 14 of them.

Hendley (2-3) was nearly as dominant against the Dodgers’ hitters. He struck out three batters and walked one, giving up only one hit, a seventh inning double to outfielder Lou Johnson.

In his 1-0 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs, Sandy Koufax struck out 14 of the 27 batters he faced.

In his 1-0 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs, Sandy Koufax struck out 14 of the 27 batters he faced.

Johnson scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the fifth. He walked to lead off the inning, and moved to second on Ron Fairly’s sacrifice bunt. Then Johnson stole third, and scored on an errant throw by Cubs catcher Chris Krug.

Hendley finished the season at 4-4. Koufax went on to claim his second Cy Young Award with a 26-8 record while leading the league in strikeouts (a record 382) and ERA (2.04).

 

 

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DC Power Source

 

Homer Happy – Don Lock

Don Lock was a lanky right-handed batter who hit with substantial power but would never compete for a batting title. He was also an excellent outfielder and a fixture in the Washington Senators’ line-up in the early-to-mid 1960s.

Lock was signed by the New York Yankees in 1958 and spent four seasons in the Yankees’ minor league system before being traded in 1962 to the Senators for first baseman Dale Long. He appeared in 71 games for the Senators in 1962, batting .253 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs while patrolling left field.

In 1963, Lock was installed as the Senators’ starting center fielder and responded by hitting .252 with 27 home runs and 82 RBIs. In 1964, he had a nearly identical season, batting .248 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs.

Don Lock's best season came with the Washington Senators in 1963, when he batted .252 with 27 home runs and 82 RBIs.

Don Lock’s best season came with the Washington Senators in 1963, when he batted .252 with 27 home runs and 82 RBIs.

American league pitchers finally caught up with Lock in 1965, and he hit only 16 home runs in each of the next two seasons, averaging 43 RBIs. Following the 1966 season, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Darold Knowles and responded by batting .252 in 1967 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs.

Lock would play two more seasons, in Philadelphia and with the Boston Red Sox, hitting a total of nine home runs with 36 RBIs. He retired after the 1969 season with a career batting average of .238 and 122 home runs. He ranks 50th among major league home run hitters during the 1960s.