Roberts Rolls

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(August 26, 1962) The Baltimore Orioles today completed a five-game sweep of the New York Yankees when right-hander Robin Roberts, released by New York during the first week of the season, beat Whitey Ford at Memorial Stadium, 2-1.

Robin Roberts pitched a five-hit complete game to beat the New York Yankees 2-1. The Yankees cut the 35-year-old Roberts from their roster at the start of the 1962 season after pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies for 14 seasons. Roberts signed with the Orioles a week later.

Robin Roberts pitched a five-hit complete game to beat the New York Yankees 2-1. The Yankees cut the 35-year-old Roberts from their roster at the start of the 1962 season after pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies for 14 seasons. Roberts signed with the Orioles a week later.

Baltimore’s only runs came from solo home runs off the bats of third baseman Brooks Robinson and first baseman Jim Gentile. The Yankees scored in the bottom of the second inning off a bases-empty home run by shortstop Tony Kubek.

Roberts (9-6) allowed only five hits in going the distance for the Orioles. The future Hall of Famer would finish the season at 10-9 with a 2.78 ERA.

Ford (13-7) allowed only seven hits in seven innings of work for the hard-luck loss. He would finish the 1962 season at 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA.

It was the fifth consecutive victory for the fifth-place Orioles, and it was the sixth straight loss for the Yankees, who still maintained a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins.

New York would finish the season 96-66, claiming its third consecutive American League pennant.

 

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Batter-Ring National League Pitching

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Gus Bell

Gus Bell was a left-handed batter who could hit for both average and power. While his prime occurred during the 1950s with the Cincinnati Reds, he played into the 1960s, and was a significant member of the New York Mets‘ inaugural team.

A four-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds, outfielder Guss Bell averaged 25 home runs and 103 RBIs from 1953-1955.

A four-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds, outfielder Guss Bell averaged 25 home runs and 103 RBIs from 1953-1955.

Bell was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947 and joined the big league club in 1950, batting .282 with eight home runs and 53 RBIs as a 21-year-old rookie outfielder. Bell hit .278 in 1951 with 16 home runs and 89 RBIs, leading the National League with 12 triples that season. After batting .250 in 1952, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds and responded to his new surroundings with the best season of his career. Bell batted .300 in 1953 with 37 doubles, 30 home runs and 105 RBIs. He drove in more than 100 runs in each of the next two seasons, batting .308 in 1955.

After a couple down years, Bell bounced back in 1959 by hitting .293 with 19 home runs and a career-best 115 RBIs. He hit .255 in 1961, and was selected by the New York Mets in the expansion draft following that season.

Playing for the New York Mets in 1962, Gus Bell got the first hit in franchise history. After 30 games, he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for outfielder Frank Thomas.

Playing for the New York Mets in 1962, Gus Bell got the first hit in franchise history. After 30 games, he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for outfielder Frank Thomas.

Bell was the starting right fielder on the Mets’ Opening Day team, and got the franchise’s first hit. He played 30 games for the Mets, batting .149, and was sent to the Milwaukee Braves as the player to be named later in an earlier deal that brought outfielder Frank Thomas to New York. He batted .285 with 5 home runs and 24 RBIs for the Braves in 79 games over the rest of the 1962 season.

Injuries limited him to just six games over the next two seasons. He retired after being released by the Braves in 1964.

In 15 major league seasons, Bell hit 206 home runs and drove in 942 runs. A four-time All-Star, he retired with a career batting average of .281.

He Had Plenty Left

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Vinegar Bend Mizell

Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell (nicknamed after his Alabama birthplace) was a durable left-handed starter for three National League teams in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

As a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Vinegar Bend Mizell was named to the National League All-Star team in 1959, finishing that season at 13-10.

As a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Vinegar Bend Mizell was named to the National League All-Star team in 1959, finishing that season at 13-10.

Mizell was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1949 and quickly progressed through the Cards’ farm system, winning 17 games in 1950 and 16 in 1951. He made his debut with St. Louis in 1952, going 10-8 with a 3.65 ERA as a rookie in the Cardinals’ starting rotation. He followed up in 1953 with a 13-11 record, posting a 3.49 ERA in 224.1 innings and pitching 10 complete games, including one shutout. He was third in the National League in strikeouts that season.

Mizell spent the next two seasons in military service, and returned in 1956 to go 14-14 for the Cardinals. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 1959, finishing that season at 13-10. In seven seasons with St. Louis, Mizell was 69-70 with a 3.72 ERA.

Vinegar Bend Mizell was 13-5 for the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.

Vinegar Bend Mizell was 13-5 for the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.

In May of 1960 he was traded with Dick Gray to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ed Bauta and Julian Javier. He played an important role in the Pirates’ pennant drive that season, going 13-5 for Pittsburgh with a 3.12 ERA. (He was 14-8 overall in 1960.) He appeared twice in the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees, losing the third game.

Over his career, Mizell had pitched an average of 196 innings per season, and those innings were starting to take their toll. He appeared in only 25 games in 1961, going 7-10 with a 5.04 ERA. He was 1-3 in 1962, starting the season in Pittsburgh before being traded to the New York Mets for first baseman Jim Marshall. He was released by the Mets following the 1962 season and retired with a 90-88 career record and a 3.85 ERA.

 

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So Promising

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Barry Latman

An All-Star in 1961, Barry Latman was a husky, hard-throwing right-hander who never quite found his proper niche as a major league pitcher. Bouncing between the starting rotation and the bullpen for the bulk of his 11-year career, Latman was loaded with stuff, but he was a thrower rather than a pitcher who could make full use of his natural physical talent.

Barry Latman’s best season came with the Cleveland Indians in 1961. He was 13-5 with a 4.02 ERA. He also recorded five saves and a pair of shutouts.

Latman was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1955 and made his major league debut in 1957, going 1-2 with one save at the end of the season. He made the White Sox roster to stay in 1959, and played a key role in the team’s pennant run, going 8-5 with a 3.75 ERA and a pair of shutouts.

Just when it seemed that Latman was on the verge of becoming a major part of the White Sox pitching staff for years to come, he was suddenly traded to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Herb Score. Latman went 7-7 for the Tribe in 1960, and then had his best season in 1961, going 13-5 as a starter and reliever. His .722 winning percentage was fourth best in the American League.

Barry Latman was a member of the American League All-Star team in 1961. At the All-Star break, Latman was 8-0 with a 2.90 ERA and four saves.

Barry Latman was a member of the American League All-Star team in 1961. At the All-Star break, Latman was 8-0 with a 2.90 ERA and four saves.

Over the next two years, Latman went 15-25 with a 4.52 ERA and was traded by Cleveland to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Leon Wagner. He was 6-10 for the Angels in 1964 with a 3.85 ERA, and injuries limited him to 1-1 in 18 appearances in 1965. The Angels dealt Latman to the Houston Astros in December of 1965, and he went 5-13 with a combined ERA of 3.49 over what turned out to be the last two seasons of his career.

Latman retired after the 1967 season with a career record of 59-68 and a 3.91 earned run average.

 

 

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All the Way

 

Career Year: Larry Jackson (1964)

For the first and only time from 1962 to 1966, the winningest pitcher in baseball in 1964 was not a Dodger.

And for the only time from 1962-1966, the pitcher with the most victories in 1964 was not the Cy Young Award winner.

And yet, for Larry Jackson, the 1964 season proved to be the high point of a stellar pitching career for one of the game’s most durable starters.

Pitching for the eighth-place Chicago Cubs in 1964, Larry Jackson led the major leagues with 24 victories.

Pitching for the eighth-place Chicago Cubs in 1964, Larry Jackson led the major leagues with 24 victories.

It was the season when Jackson won more games than any other pitcher in baseball, by doing what he had done best his entire career – piling up starts and innings and complete games – for a team that won only 52 games without him.

From 1957 through 1963, Jackson was the poster child for dependability in the starting rotation. In those seven seasons – the first six with the St. Louis Cardinals – he pitched an average of 241 innings per season, and slipped below 200 innings pitched only in 1958 (when he pitched 198 innings). Even a line drive that fractured Jackson’s jaw in spring training of 1961 shelved him for only a month. He still started 33 games after his return and pitched 211 innings – his lowest total during the 1960s.

Following a 16-11 campaign in 1962, the Cardinals traded Jackson (along with Lindy McDaniel and Jimmie Schaffer) to the Chicago Cubs for George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker. In his first season with the Cubs, Jackson managed only a 14-18 record despite a 2.55 ERA. In 16 of Jackson’ starts during the 1963 season, the Cubs scored two runs or less, and Jackson’s record in those starts was 2-13. In games when the Cubs scored at least three runs behind Jackson, his record was 12-5.

During his 24-11 season in 1964, Larry Jackson finished third in the National League in games started (38) and complete games (19). He was second in the league in innings pitched, and second in the Cy Young voting (to Dean Chance).

During his 24-11 season in 1964, Larry Jackson finished third in the National League in games started (38) and complete games (19). He was second in the league in innings pitched, and second in the Cy Young voting (to Dean Chance).

Things would change for the better in 1964, especially as the weather warmed up. Jackson was 2-1 in April and 6-4 at the end of May with a 3.58 ERA. He was 7-5 during the months of June and July, but he was 4-1 in August with a 2.70 ERA for the month. He was even better in September, going 7-1 with a 2.42 ERA in the season’s final month.

For the 1964 season, Jackson was 24-11 with a 3.14 earned run average. He led all major league pitchers in victories, and his 297.1 innings pitched was second only to Don Drysdale’s 321.1. Jackson was third in the National League in games started (38) and in complete games (19).

All of this was accomplished with a 1964 Cubs team that finished in eighth place with a 76-86 record. Yet the Cubs gave Jackson better run support than he had received in 1963. In 30 of his 38 starts, Jackson’s Cubs scored at least three runs, and his record in those games was 21-5.

Despite his career year, Jackson finished second in the balloting for the 1964 Cy Young Award to Dean Chance of the Los Angeles Angels.

The 1965 season would not be as kind to Jackson, as he would go from a 20-game winner to 20-game loser. He finished the 1965 season at 14-21 with a 3.85 ERA. In 18 of his 39 starts, the Cubs scored less than three runs, and Jackson’s record in those starts was 2-15. When the Cubs managed to get him three runs or more, Jackson was 12-6.

Frustration was a way of life for Chicago Cubs’ starting pitchers during the 1960s.

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Theft Control

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Joe Azcue

In a major league career that spanned the 1960s, Joe Azcue was known as a dependable catcher with a strong, accurate throwing arm. He led American League catchers in fielding percentage in 1967 and 1968. Over his 11-year career, he threw out more than 45 percent of base runners attempting to steal, and in 1966 he threw out 62 percent.

And, on occasion, he could hit.

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Base runners, beware! Over his career, Joe Azcue threw out 45 percent of runners trying to steal off him. In 1966, he threw out 62 percent of base runners attempting to steal.

A Cuban native, Azcue was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 and appeared in 14 games with the Reds at the end of the 1960 season, hitting .097. He was purchased by the Milwaukee Braves and returned to the minors for the 1961 season, and in December of 1961 was traded with Ed Charles and Manny Jimenez to the Kansas City Athletics for Lou Klimchock and Bob Shaw. He hit .229 as the Athletics’ backup catcher, and at the beginning of the 1963 season was traded with shortstop Dick Howser to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Doc Edwards.

Azcue had his best seasons, as a hitter and defensively, with the Indians. He hit .284 with the Tribe in 1963 with career highs in home runs (14) and RBIs (46). He hit .273 in 1964 and .230 in 1965, and then bounced back to hit .275 in 1966 and .280 in 1968.

In April of 1969, Azcue was part of a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox. Cleveland sent Azcue, Vicente Romo and Sonny Siebert to Boston for Ken Harrelson, Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro. Azcue appeared in only 19 games for the Red Sox, hitting .216, before being traded to the California Angels for Tom Satriano. He finished the 1969 season with a combined .223 batting average, and then hit .242 for California in 1970, his last full season in the majors. Azcue sat out the 1971 season, and then played a total of 14 games for the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers in 1972 before retiring.

In 11 big league seasons, Azcue collected 712 hits for a .252 career batting average.

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300 and Counting

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(August 11, 1961) The Milwaukee Braves today defeated the 2-1 behind the six-hit pitching of Warren Spahn.

Warren Spahn's 12th victory of the 1961 season was also his 12th complete game ... and the 300th win of his career.

Warren Spahn’s 12th victory of the 1961 season was also his 12th complete game … and the 300th win of his career.

For Spahn (12-12), it marked the 300th victory of his career, and made Spahn the thirteenth pitcher in major league history to reach the 300-victory plateau. He was also the first 300-game winner in two decades, following Lefty Grove in 1941.

Spahn drove in the game’s first run in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly that brought home catcher Joe Torre. The Cubs tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning. Ron Santo scored on an Andre Rodgers RBI single.

Braves center fielder Gino Cimoli hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off Cubs starter Jack Curtis (7-7). Curtis and Spahn each allowed just six hits.

For Spahn, the victory marked his twelfth complete game of the season … and Spahn would lead the National League in complete games in 1961 for the fifth consecutive season. He would also lead the league in ERA (3.02) and victories at 21-13.

And he still had 63 victories left in his 40-year-old arm.

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Chief of Relief

 

Oh, What a Relief: Ed Roebuck

For 11 major league seasons, Ed Roebuck was a stellar relief pitcher for three different teams. In 460 big league appearances, he made only one start (in 1957).

A mainstay in the Dodgers’ bullpen in the early 1960s, Ed Roebuck was 10-2 with nine saves in 1962.

A mainstay in the Dodgers’ bullpen in the early 1960s, Ed Roebuck was 10-2 with nine saves in 1962.

Roebuck was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949. He spent six years in the Dodgers’ farm system, finding moderate success as a reliever before pitching as a starter and reliever at the AAA level, winning 15 games in 1953 and 18 games in 1954.

When Roebuck was promoted to the Dodgers’ pitching staff in 1955, he began his major league career in relief, going 5-6 with a 4.61 ERA. He appeared in 47 games for the Dodgers, finishing 27 with 12 saves (second in the National League). He pitched in the sixth game of the 1955 World Series, tossing two innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. He was 8-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 1957, and was 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA and five saves in 1958.

In 1959, Roebuck was sent back to the minors, where he pitched exclusively as a starter at St. Paul in the American Association. He went 13-10 with a 2.98 ERA in 28 starts. Then he found himself back on the Dodgers’ roster in 1960, going 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 58 appearances … all in relief. He made only five appearances in 1961, but teamed with left-hander Ron Perranoski to form one of the most effective relief tandems in baseball in 1962. As the right-handed half of that pair, Roebuck appeared in 64 games with a 10-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. He finished 22 games and saved nine. Together, Roebuck and Perranoski combined for a 16-8 record with 29 saves.

In 1963, Roebuck opened the season with the Dodgers but was traded at the end of July to the Washington Senators for Marv Breeding. Roebuck was a combined 4-5 with four saves and a 3.69 ERA for 1963.

Ed Roebuck was 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.

Ed Roebuck was 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.

In April of 1964 Roebuck was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies and went 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA and 12 saves for the Phillies. He was 5-3 with three saves in 1965, and appeared in six games in 1966 before being released by Philadelphia. He caught on with San Diego in the Pacific Coast League for a season and a half before retiring as a player after the 1967 season.

Roebuck finished his major league career at 52-31 for a .627 winning percentage. His career ERA was 3.35 with 62 saves.

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Pep at First

 

The Glove Club: Joe Pepitone

When the New York Yankees were looking to bolster their starting rotation following the 1962 season, they considered Bill Skowron expendable because of a first sacker they had waiting in the wings: Joe Pepitone. By trading Skowron to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher Stan Williams, the Yankees opened the door to the left-handed hitting Pepitone, who brought a better first-base glove to the Yankee infield while expected to provide the same level of run production that the Yankees had gotten from “Moose” Skowron the previous five seasons.

As the New York Yankees’ first baseman for most of the 1960s, Joe Pepitone won three Gold Gloves.

As the New York Yankees’ first baseman for most of the 1960s, Joe Pepitone won three Gold Gloves.

Pepitone was signed by the Yankees in 1958 and made his debut in New York 4 seasons later, hitting .239 in 63 games. In 1963, he inherited Skowron’s first base position on a full-time basis, and responded by batting .271 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs. In 1964, Pepitone’s batting average slipped to .251, but his power numbers increased to 28 home runs and 100 RBIs.

The 1964 season also was the one when Pepitone emerged as one of the American League’s premier first basemen. He led the league in putouts, assists and double plays at first base. He won the Gold Glove in 1965, 1966 and 1969. A versatile athlete, Pepitone moved to the Yankees’ outfield as needed, and played more games in the outfield than at first base in 1967 and 1968.

From 1963 through 1969, Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs per season.But his decline in run productivity coincided with the Yankees’ decline in the standings. After hitting a career-best 31 home runs in 1966, he hit only 28 home runs combined over the next two seasons. His bat revived in 1969, as Pepitone returned to first place full time, hitting 27 home runs and winning hit third Gold Glove.

Joe Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Yankees from 1963-1969. His best season as a Yankee came in 1964, when he hit 28 home runs with 100 RBIs and led American League first basemen in putouts, assists and double plays.

Joe Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Yankees from 1963-1969. His best season as a Yankee came in 1964, when he hit 28 home runs with 100 RBIs and led American League first basemen in putouts, assists and double plays.

Following the 1969 season, the Yankees traded Pepitone to the Houston Astros for outfielder Curt Blefary. He hit .251 in 75 games for Houston before being purchased by the Chicago Cubs, where he replaced Ernie Banks at first base. His combined batting numbers for 1970 included 26 home runs and 79 RBIs.

Pepitone played three more seasons in Chicago. He hit .307 for the Cubs in 1971 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs. In 1973 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Andre Thornton, but played in only three games for the Braves before retiring at age 32.

Pepitone finished with a career batting average of .258. He had 1,315 hits and 219 home runs. He was a member of the All-Star team three times.