Two Yanks Named Joe

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 23, 1962) Joe Pepitone homered twice to become the second player in Yankee history to hit two home runs in the same inning. The Bronx Bombers score nine times in the eighth inning of a 13-7 rout of the Kansas City Athletics.

As a rookie in 1936, Joe Dimaggio became the first Yankee to hit two home runs in a single inning. The Yankee Clipper hit 29 home runs that season and led the American League with 15 triples.

Both Yankees accomplished the feat as rookies. The only other pin-striper was Joe DiMaggio, who did it as a rookie in 1936.

The Yankees entered the bottom of the eighth trailing the A’s 7-4. Pepitone led off the inning with a home run off A’s pitcher Dan Pfister, who was replaced by Diego Segui. Segui proceeded to walk Roger Maris and John Blanchard, and then Elston Howard singled to center field, scoring Maris.

Bob Grim replaced Segui as the A’s pitcher and walked pinch-hitter Yogi Berra to load the bases. Phil Linz singled in two more runs to put the Yankees ahead to stay at 8-7. A Bobby Richardson single and Tom Tresh sacrifice fly brought in two more Yankee runs. Then Pepitone hit a three-run shot off John Wyatt, Kansas City’s third pitcher that inning.

Rollie Sheldon pitched a scoreless ninth inning to wrap up the victory for the first-place Yankees. Winning pitcher for the Yankees was Tex Clevenger (1-0).

Joe Pepitone played only 63 games as a rookie in 1962, hitting seven home runs. Over the next seven seasons, Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs as the Yankees’ everyday first baseman.

Pepitone’s home runs were his only hits for the game. As a part-time player, he would finish the 1962 season batting .239 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. Starting in 1963, Pepitone would be the Yankees’ regular first baseman for the next seven seasons.

No Idle Hands Here

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bill Hands

Bill Hands was a workhorse for the Chicago Cubs pitching staff in the late 1960s. From 1968 through 1971, he averaged 266 innings and 16 victories per season, with a combined 3.10 ERA over those four seasons.

Bill Hands was a workhorse in the Chicago Cubs’ starting rotation. He averaged 16 victories and 266 innings pitched from 1968-1971.

Hands was originally signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1959 and spent the next seven years progressing through the Giants’ farm system, winning 17 games for AAA Tacoma in 1965 to earn a trip to a big league debut with the Giants at the end of that season. In December of 1965, the Giants traded Hands with Randy Hundley to the Chicago Cubs for Don Landrum and Lindy McDaniel.

Hands went 8-13 in his first season in Chicago, and was 7-8 in 1967. He was used primarily as a reliever in both of those seasons, and was promoted to the starting rotation for the 1968 season. Hands blossomed as a starter, going 16-10 in 1968 with a 2.89 ERA. He pitched 258.2 innings in 1968, with four shutouts and 11 complete games.

In 1969, Hands produced a 20-14 season with a 2.49 ERA. He pitched 300 innings with 18 complete games in 41 starts. It would be his best season in the major leagues. He followed up in 1970 with an 18-15 record, and slipped to 12-18 in 1971, though pitching with a still-respectable 3.42 ERA.

With each passing season, his number of starts and innings pitched declined. He went 11-8 in 1972, his last season in Chicago, and was traded to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Dave LaRoche. He was a combined 11-15 in a season and a half for the Twins. He was acquired by the Texas Rangers at the end of the 1974, and retired at age 35 after posting a 6-7 record with the Rangers in 1975.

Hands was 111-110 in 11 major league seasons. His career ERA was 3.35.

 

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A Flood of Flawless Fielding

 

The Glove Club: Curt Flood

From 1963 through 1968, the National League Gold Glove Awards for outfielders were won by three players. The same three outfielders. Year after year.

Roberto Clemente. Willie Mays. Curt Flood.

The fact that two of these outfielders are center fielders should not go unnoticed. No left fielder could approach Mays and Flood in the field. (Clemente, of course, owned right field in the National League during the 1960s.) Any team would find room for both in the outfield.

No one could argue with the inclusion of Mays. He was among the first Gold Glove winners when the award was initiated in 1957. He won a Gold Glove every year through the 1968 season. And he probably would have won a half-dozen more in the 1950s if the Gold Glove had been offered.

Was Mays the best center fielder of all time? Maybe. But defensively, Flood could give Say Hey a run for that title. His prowess in the outfield was clearly comparable to that of Mays. And in some fielding aspects, Flood surpassed Mays.

For instance …

Curt Flood’s consistency in center field was unmatched by any other outfielder of his era (including Willie Mays). Flood set a record for errorless games (226), playing the entire 1966 season without making an error.

Flood had the speed to cover the center field space. And for the most part (more than any other center fielder before – even Mays), he covered it flawlessly. He went through the entire 1966 season – making 394 putouts and six assists – without committing an error.

From September 3, 1965 through June 4, 1967, Flood ran an errorless games streak of 226, setting a National League record.  During that streak, Flood fielded 568 total unerring chances, setting a major league record.

During the 1960s, Flood led all National League center fielders in putouts four times and in assists three times. He led NL center fielders in fielding percentage three times, including his “perfect” 1966 season. Altogether during the 1960s, Flood won seven Gold Gloves.

Along with his fielding, Flood brought a potent bat. He batted .300 or better six times during the 1960s, with a combined batting average of .297 for the decade. He led the league in hits with 211 in 1964, and finished in the top ten in hits five times, in doubles four times and in triples once.

Offensively, maybe Flood couldn’t match the amazing Mr. Mays. But with his range and dependability in the field, Flood was a match for any center fielder who ever played the game.

 

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Mick Mashes Miller for 500th Home Run

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 14, 1967) Mickey Mantle‘s 500th career home run today helped the New York Yankees defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-5.

Mickey Mantle’s 500th career home run proved to be the winning run as the New York Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 6-5.

The “Commerce Comet” was the sixth big leaguer to reach the 500-home run plateau.

The Yankees opened the game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning, chasing Orioles starter Steve Barber. Barber was replaced by Wally Bunker, who shut out the Yankees over the next 4.2 innings.

The score remained 3-0 until the top of the sixth inning, when the Orioles scored four runs on Mark Belanger’s solo home run and doubles by Boog Powell and Charlie Lau. Joe Pepitone’s two-run homer off Stu Miller put the Yankees back on top in the bottom of the sixth inning. Mantle’s history-making blast came off Miller in the seventh inning. It was his fourth home run of the season and gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead.

Dooley Womack (3-2), who relieved Yankee starter Mel Stottlemyre in the sixth inning, allowed one more Oriole run in the eighth inning, but shut out the Orioles the rest of the way to gain his third victory. Miller (0-4) was the loser.

The 35-year-old Mantle would finish the 1967 season with only 22 home runs and 55 RBIs. He would retire after the 1968 season with 536 career home runs.

Jump Ball, Fastball

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Gene Conley

Gene Conley was the first athlete to play for World Champions in two different major sports: for the Milwaukee Braves as a pitcher in 1957, and as a member of the NBA’s Boston Celtics from 1959 to 1962.

A talented athlete, Gene Conley played professionally in both baseball and basketball.

A two-sport All-American at Washington State University, the six-foot-eight-inch Conley was signed by the Boston Braves in 1951. He was outstanding from the start of his professional baseball career, winning 20 games his first minor league season, and then going 11-4 for Milwaukee in the American Association before being called up to Boston at the end of the 1952 season … and promptly losing his first three major league starts.  He spent the 1953 season in the minors, winning 23 games at the AAA level.

In 1954, he stepped right into the Braves’ starting rotation and was 14-9 in his rookie season, with a 2.96 ERA, fifth best in the National League. Conley was named to the All-Star team, and finished third in the voting for Rookie of the Year, won in 1954 by Wally Moon (Ernie Banks finished second … and Hank Aaron fourth).

Gene Conley was a National League All-Star in his 1954 rookie campaign. He was 14-9 with a 2.96 ERA.

Conley was 11-7 in 1955, and then didn’t win more than nine games in a season until 1959 when, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, he went 12-7 with a 3.00 earned run average. He was 8-14 for the Phillies in 1960, and then was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Frank Sullivan. He was 11-14 for the Red Sox in 1961, finishing third on the team in victories behind Don Schwall and Bill Monbouquette. In 1962, his 15-14 record tied him with Monbouquette for the team lead in wins.

Conley appeared in nine games for Boston in 1963, going 3-4 with an ERA of 6.64. He was released by the Red Sox and signed the next day with the Cleveland Indians, but never pitched in an Indians’ uniform, retiring in June at age 32.

Gene Conley’s best season with the Boston Red Sox came in 1962. He was 15-14 with a 3.95 ERA.

In 11 major league seasons, Conley posted a 91-96 record with a career ERA of 3.82. He struck out 888 batters and pitched 13 shutouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Long Lean Save Machine

 

Oh, What a Relief: Bill Henry

Bill Henry was a lanky, high-kicking left-hander who lasted 16 years in the major leagues … after making his first appearance in the big show at age 24.

He led the league in any pitching category only once. His 65 appearances for the Chicago Cubs in 1959 were the most in the National League that season. And though he never led the league in saves, saves are what kept him pitching until age 41. Henry knew how to close out a victory.

Bill Henry’s 65 appearances for the Chicago Cubs were the most for the National League in 1959. Henry was 9-8 with a 2.68 ERA and 12 saves for the Cubs.

A Texas native, Henry was a star in basketball and track in high school. His high school didn’t have a baseball team. But the University of Houston did, and after one college season he signed with the Clarksdale (Mississippi) Planters in the Class C Cotton States League in 1948. He bounced the minor leagues for four years with a combined record of 44-45. He was acquired by the Boston red Sox and made his major league debut in 1952. He was used sparingly by the Red Sox, mostly as a starter, and was 15-20 with a combined earned run average of 3.80.

In January of 1957, the Red Sox traded Henry to the Chicago Cubs. After spending another season in the minors, Henry earned a place in the Cubs’ bullpen in 1958 (at age 30), going 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA and six saves. In 1959, he was 9-8 for the Cubs with a 2.68 ERA and 12 saves. In the off-season, the Cubs dealt Henry, Lee Walls and Lou Jackson to the Cincinnati Reds for Frank Thomas.

Henry had his best seasons pitching for the Reds. He combined with Jim Brosnan for an effective righty-lefty closing combination. In 1960, Henry led the Reds with 17 saves (Brosnan had 12). He also made his only All-Star appearance that season.

In 1961, the Reds bullpen was a vital contributor to the team’s pennant-winning season. Brosnan and Henry tied for the team lead in saves with 16 each. Henry led the team with a 2.19 ERA.

Jim Brosnan (left) and Bill Henry were a dynamic righty-lefty closing combination for the Cincinnati Reds in the early 1960s. In 1961, for the pennant-winning Reds, Brosnan was 10-4 with 16 saves. Henry was 2-1 with 16 saves and a team-best 2.19 ERA.

In 1962, Henry was 4-2 with 11 saves for the Reds, and led the team with 14 saves in 1963. In 1964, the arrival of Sammy Ellis and Billy McCool limited Henry to only 37 appearances and six saves. (Ellis led the Reds with 14.) Still, at age 36, Henry was consistently effective when he did get the chance to pitch, posting a 0.87 ERA on the season.

In 1965, the Reds traded Henry to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Jim Duffalo. Henry lasted four years with the Giants, going 5-5 with a combined 3.08 ERA. He made brief stops in Pittsburgh and Houston before retiring in 1969.

For his career, Henry was 46-50 with a 3.26 ERA and 90 saves. He closed 253 games, more than half of his 483 career relief appearances. Henry’s 64 saves with the Reds are tenth-most among Reds relief pitchers all time.

 

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Bo No-No’s O’s

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 5, 1962) In just his fourth big league start, Bo Belinsky today threw the first no-hitter in the history of the Los Angeles Angels and the first one ever tossed at Dodger Stadium, beating the Orioles, 2-0.

The 25-year-old southpaw was only the tenth major league rookie to ever accomplish the feat.

Bo Belinsky became the tenth rookie pitcher – and the first Angels hurler – to toss a no-hitter when he blanked the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 on May 5, 1962. Belinsky would finish his rookie campaign at 10-11 with a 3.56 ERA and three shutouts.

For Belinsky (4-0), this was the first shutout and second complete game of his major league career. He faced a total of 34 batters, striking out nine and walking four. The shutout lowered Belinsky’s ERA to 1.53.

The Angels scored one run in each of the first two innings. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, second baseman Billy Moran bunted his way onto first base and moved to third base on Leon Wagner’s double. With Steve Bilko at the plate, Orioles starter Steve Barber uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Moran to score. Then Barber struck out Bilko and Felix Torres to end the inning.

The next inning, the Angels scored on a walk, a double, and a fielder’s choice. Barber (3-1) took the loss, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings of work.

Belinsky would win his first five decisions before losing, and was 6-1 with a 2.26 ERA by the end of May. The rest of the season didn’t turn out as well. From June on, Belinsky went 4-10 with a 4.16 ERA.

For the 1962 season, Belinsky would finish at 10-11 with a 3.56 ERA. He issued 122 bases on balls, the most in the majors.

 

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On a Winning Warpath

 

Career Year: Dick Donovan – 1962

Dick Donovan made a career of pitching better than the teams behind him. And he seemed to have the knack of pitching especially well for teams that were especially bad.

His two best seasons came with the 1961 Washington Senators (who finished ninth) and the 1962 Cleveland Indians (who finished sixth). He was particularly outstanding throughout 1962, turning in the finest season-long performance of his distinguished career.

The best teams behind Donovan were the Chicago White Sox in the second half of the 1950s. From 1955-1958, the White Sox finished in third place twice and second twice. During those four seasons, Donovan was 58-39 with a 3.18 ERA, averaging 223 innings and 14 complete games per season.

When the White Sox captured the American League pennant in 1959, a sore shoulder cost Donovan nearly a month out of that season. He finished the year at 9-10 with a 3.66 ERA. He spent the 1960 season mostly in the White Sox bullpen, going 6-1 and making only eight starts in 33 appearances. The White Sox left the 32-year-old Donovan unprotected for the expansion draft, and the “new” Washington Senators took a chance on the veteran, selecting him with the 54th pick.

After struggling with health issues in his final two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Dick Donovan was drafted by the expansion Washington Senators in 1960. His 2.40 ERA in 1961 was the best among all major league pitchers.

Donovan was solid for the Senators all season long. His record was only 10-10, but his 2.40 ERA was the lowest in the American League. Immediately following the 1961 season, the Senators dealt Donovan with Gene Green and Jim Mahoney to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Jim Piersall.

Donovan’s performance in spring training earned him the Opening Day assignment, and he delivered a five-hit shutout, beating the Red Sox 4-0 in Boston. His second start came a week later in Cleveland, and he shut out the Red Sox again on five hits. After beating the Yankees 7-5 (with relief help from Bob Allen, Barry Latman and Frank Funk), Donovan beat the Twins 7-2 four days later with his third complete game in four April starts.

Dick Donovan’s first season with the Cleveland Indians was also the best one of his career. Donovan finished the 1962 season at 20-10 with a 3.59 ERA. He led the league with five shutouts, and was second in complete games. He was named to the American League All-Star team for the third time, and made his first All-Star game appearance.

Donovan won his first four decisions in May before losing 2-0 to the White Sox. He was 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in June and went to the July 10 All-Star game with a record of 12-3 and a 2.77 ERA. He pitched two innings in that All-Star game, allowing one run with no decision. The league played a second All-Star game on July 30, but Donovan did not pitch. He closed out July at 14-4 with a 2.93 ERA.

Meanwhile, the team around him was fading out of the pennant race, something the Indians were prone to do for most of the 1960s. The Indians held first place for most of May and June, but by the end of July the team was in fourth place, 10 games behind the league-leading New York Yankees.

Donovan, however, remained consistent despite the Indians’ slide. He was 4-3 in August, completing three of his seven starts. But he was also beginning to wear down. He made five starts in September, completing three games while posting a 2-3 record for the month.

Donovan finished the 1962 season at 20-10 with a 3.59 ERA. His 20 victories tied him for second most in the league with Ray Herbert (20-9) and Camilo Pascual (20-11) behind league leader Ralph Terry (23-12). He led the league with five shutouts. His 16 complete games tied him for second in the league with Jim Kaat behind Pascual’s 18. He pitched 250.2 innings, the most in any season of his 15-year career.

At age 34, the 1962 season was Donovan’s last hurrah, and his last winning campaign. He was 18-22 with a 4.37 ERA over the next two seasons and was released by the Indians in June of 1965. He retired with a career record of 122-99 and a 3.67 earned run average.

 

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Leaning Left

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Denny Lemaster

For more than a decade, Denny Lemaster was a southpaw who showed tantalizing flashes of brilliance but not the consistency of a true staff ace. Thus he pitched well frequently and was over-powering on occasion, but was never quite as good as his lively left arm suggested he could be.

Denny Lemaster’s best season came in 1964 for the Milwaukee Braves. He was 17-11 with a 4.15 ERA. He also led the team with 185 strikeouts.

Lemaster was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958. He made his major league debut in 1962, going 3-4 in 17 games (12 starts and four complete games) with a 3.01 ERA. Lemaster started the 1963 season in the bullpen but finished in the Braves’ starting rotation, ending the season at 11-14 with a 3.04 earned run average.

His best season came in 1964. Lemaster was 17-11 with a 4.15 ERA, including nine complete games and three shutouts. His record slipped to 7-13 in 1965, but he rebounded in 1966 to go 11-8 with a 3.74 ERA and 10 complete games, including three shutouts. In 1969, he went 9-9, including a one-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 1967 Lemaster was traded with Denis Menke to the Houston Astros for Chuck Harrison and Sonny Jackson. Lemaster went 10-15 for the Astros with a 2.81 ERA in 1968, and followed with a 13-17 record in 1969. He transitioned back to a bullpen role in 1970, with a 7-12 record and a 4.56 ERA. He appeared in 42 games in 1971, going 0-2 with a 3.45 ERA.

He was purchased by the Montreal Expos in 1971, and he appeared in 13 games for Montreal in 1972, going 2-0 with a 7.78 ERA. He was released in July and finished with a career record of 90-105 with a 3.58 ERA.

 

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Self-Reliance

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 1, 1962) The Minnesota Twins today defeated the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 behind the pitching and hitting of right-hander Camilo Pascual.

Camilo Pascual’s pitching and hitting sparked the Minnesota Twins to an 8-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Pascual pitched his third complete game of the young season (he would finish the 1962 season with a league-best 18 complete games) and hit a two-run homer.

Pascual (4-1) pitched his third consecutive complete game, scattering nine hits. He struck out three Orioles batters and walked one. Pascual also hit a two-run home run in the second inning off Orioles starter Chuck Estrada (1-3).

Twins catcher Earl Battey also drove in two runs with an RBI double in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the seventh. The Twins also got RBIs from Zoilo Versalles, Don Mincher, Rich Rollins and Bill Tuttle.

Orioles first baseman Jim Gentile had two hits and two RBIs, including his fifth home run of the season. Catcher Gus Triandos drove in Baltimore’s first run with a second inning RBI single.

Pascual would turn his outstanding start into an outstanding season. Pascual would finish the 1962 season at 20-11 with a 3.32 ERA. His 206 strikeouts would make him the American league leader for the second consecutive season. He also led the league with 18 complete games and five shutouts.

The 1962 season would also be Pascual’s best with a bat. He hit .268 with two home runs and 19 runs batted in.

 

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