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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Getting an “A” at Second Base

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Dick Green

Dick Green was a sure-handed second baseman who was just was the A’s needed at the keystone in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For more than a decade – both in Kansas City and in Oakland – Green was the second baseman the team could count on in the field with a bat that provided occasional pop, just enough for a team that became increasingly more lethal offensively as Green’s career progressed.

For more than a decade, Dick Green held down second base for the Athletics. His best season came in 1969, when he batted .275 with 12 home runs and 64 RBIs.

Green was signed by the Athletics in 1960. He made his debut in Kansas City at the end of the 1963 season, getting 10 hits in the 13 games in which he appeared. He opened the 1964 season at second for Kansas City, hitting .264 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. He finished the season with a .990 fielding average, committing just six errors in 629 chances.

His batting average slipped to .232 in 1965, but his offensive productivity improved as Green hit 15 home runs with 55 RBIs. He drove in 62 runs in 1966, and then struggled in 1967, the team’s last season in Kansas City, hitting only .198 with five home runs and 37 RBIs.

Green’s best seasons came in Oakland. He hit .275 in 1969, with 25 doubles, 12 home runs and 64 RBIs. And he hit .333 in the 1972 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. But it was his defense that kept him in the A’s lineup. In the 1974 World Series, he tied a major league record by participating in six double plays in a five-game Series, including three double plays in the third game.

Green was released following the 1974 season and retired, his entire 12-season major league career spent with the Athletics. He hit .240 for his career and retired as the A’s all-time home run leader among second basemen with 80.

Four in a Row

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Art Shamsky

Art Shamsky played eight seasons in the major leagues for four different teams. While most of his success as a hitter came while he was playing with the New York Mets, his shining moment as a major leaguer occurred during his second season, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

St. Louis born and raised, Shamsky played baseball at the University of Missouri Columbia until he was signed by the Reds in 1959. He made the Reds’ squad in 1965, batting .260 as a part-time player.

In 1966, playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Art Shamsky hit three home runs in a game that he didn’t enter until the eighth inning (as a defensive replacement). He hit a fourth consecutive home run in his next at-bat – two days later as a pinch hitter.

He had a very productive year for the Reds in 1966, despite hitting only .231. He hit 21 home runs with 47 RBIs, while scoring 41 runs, all in only 234 at-bats. Yet what Shamsky did on August 12 and 14 of 1966 has never been topped in major league history.

With the Reds playing the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 12, Shamsky started the game on the bench and entered it in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in a double switch. He came to bat in the bottom of the eighth and hit a two-run homer off Al McBean to put the Reds on top 8-7.

The Pirates tied the game in the ninth inning and took the lead in the tenth. Shamsky came to bat in the bottom of the tenth and homered off Roy Face to tie the game. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, with Pittsburgh on top 11-9, Shamsky blasted a two-run home run off Billy O’Dell to tie the game again. Eventually, the Pirates won the game 14-11 in 13 innings. Shamsky remains the only major leaguer to hit three home runs in a game he didn’t start.

But he wasn’t done. Two days later, in his next at-bat, Shamsky hit a two-run pinch homer to put the Reds ahead in the seventh inning. That was four home runs in four consecutive at-bats, tying a record that is shared by Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Hank Greenberg, Ralph Kiner and Stan Musial.

By the way, in his next at-bat, Shamsky only singled.

He hit only .197 for the Reds in 1967 and was traded to the Mets for Bob Johnson. Platooned with Ron Swoboda, he batted .300 during the “miracle” season of 1969, with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. From 1968 through 1970, Shamsky batted .277 for the Mets while averaging 12 home runs and 48 RBIs per season.

As a part-time player, Art Shamsky made important contributions to the 1969 New York Mets. He batted .300 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs … in only 303 at-bats.

Shamsky was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals but was released just prior to the start of the 1972 season. He split that season between the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics, playing a combined 23 games with 23 at-bats. He retired at age 30 after the 1972 season.

Shamsky finished his eight-season major league career with 426 hits and a .253 batting average. He hit 68 home runs.

Four are still in the record book.

 

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Dodgers Wallop Cubs 10-2; Koufax Whiffs 18

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(April 24, 1962) Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Sandy Koufax today tied a major league record by striking out 18 batters in a nine-inning game.

The Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 10-2 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

When Sandy Koufax struck out 18 Chicago Cubs in 1962, it marked the second time in his career that he had achieved that feat, and only the third time in the major leagues since 1901. Eighteen or more strikeouts in a nine-inning game have been reached or exceeded 19 times since (most recently by Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, who fanned 20 in 2016).

In his complete game victory, Koufax allowed two runs on six hits and walked four batters. The victory raised his season record to 3-1.

The losing pitcher for the Cubs was starter Don Cardwell (0-4).

The hitting stars for the Dodgers were outfielders Duke Snider and Tommy Davis. Snider drove in three runs on a triple and a home run. Davis drove in four runs with a single off Cardwell in the second inning and a three-run homer in the fifth. Andy Carey also homered for the Dodgers, hitting a solo shot off Cardwell in the fourth inning.

Chicago’s runs were scored on a fourth-inning single by Lou Brock and a bases-empty home run in the bottom of the ninth by left fielder Billy Williams.

Bob Feller was the first pitcher in the Twentieth Century to strike out 18 batters in a nine-inning game. He set that record on October 2, 1938, but lost the game 4-1 to the Detroit Tigers.

In posting 18 strikeouts in a single game, Koufax — for the second time — tied the record set in 1938 when Cleveland Indians right-hander Bob Feller fanned 18 Detroit Tigers. Koufax first struck out 18 batters in a game on August 31, 1959 when he beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2.

Koufax would finish the 1962 season at 14-7. That season he would be limited to only 28 appearances due to arm problems. But Koufax pitched enough innings to claim the National League ERA title … the first of five consecutive ERA crowns he would win.

 

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Sometimes Size Counts

 

Homer Happy: Frank Howard

Frank Howard made opposing pitchers cringe. At six-foot-seven and 255 pounds, he was an imposing presence at the plate. Not even the higher mound (15 inches high until 1969) gave pitchers as much of an advantage. At his height, he could still nearly look them in the eye.

With his strength, every pitch was a potential souvenir. His last manager with the Washington Senators, the legendary Ted Williams, called Howard the strongest man in baseball. No one questioned Williams’ hitting acumen, and no one could argue his point about Howard.

In 1968, the “Year of the Pitcher” when most of major league hitting was in a coma, Howard hit home runs as if the regular season were simply extended batting practice. He launched 44 homers that season – ten of them within a single week – eight more than Willie Horton and the rest of the American League’s sluggers. He hit 136 home runs from 1968-1970, none of them cheap.

While known primarily for his size and strength, Frank Howard was also a fine all-around athlete. At Ohio State, he was an All-American in basketball as well as baseball.

What Howard brought to the batter’s box wasn’t fair. He was more than just another lumbering slugger. Matching his strength was an athletic ability practically unheard of in a hitter his size. He had been an All-American in basketball (as well as baseball) at Ohio State before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958.

His minor league career lasted only two seasons, when he butchered minor league pitchers for 37 home runs in 1958 and 43 in 1959. He was ready for the big time.

In 1960, Howard walked away with National League Rookie of the Year honors by batting .268 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs. A thumb injury limited him to only 15 home runs in 1961, but a healthy season in 1962 produced 31 home runs with 119 runs batted in.

After hitting 23 home runs as a rookie in 1960, Frank Howard led the Los Angeles Dodgers with 31 home runs and 119 RBIs in 1962.

Despite that kind of productivity at the plate, the Dodgers – and in particular, manager Walt Alston – saw Howard primarily as a platoon player. And pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium seemed more conducive to slashing hitters like Tommy Davis and to the base path speed of Maury Wills and Willie Davis. Howard just didn’t seem to fit in with the Dodgers’ offensive strategy. Plus Howard’s power output appeared to be declining: to 28 home runs in 1963 and 24 in 1964, and he drove in less than 70 runs both seasons.

So in December of 1964, the Dodgers sent Howard to the Washington Senators as part of a seven-player swap that brought Washington’s ace pitcher, Claude Osteen, to the West Coast.  Playing for the worst team in the American League and battling injuries season-long, Howard batted .289 for the Senators in 1965 and led the team with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs. After hitting only 18 home runs in 1966, he doubled that total in 1967.

The 1968 season was when Howard lifted his slugging to elite status. While the rest of the American League was hitting for a combined .230 average, Howard batted .274 and led the league with 44 home runs, 330 total bases and a .552 slugging percentage. His 106 RBIs were second best in the league (to Ken Harrelson‘s 109).

For six days in May of 1968, Frank Howard was a home run machine – hitting 10 homers in six games and only 20 at-bats. He finished the 1968 season with 44 home runs and 106 runs batted in.

This was also the season when Howard went on a home run tear in May, blasting ten home runs in six games and doing it in only 20 at-bats. Howard did even better in 1969, batting .296 with 48 home runs and 111 RBIs. Harmon Killebrew led the league in both home runs and RBIs that season, but Howard was the league leader with 340 total bases and was fourth with a .574 slugging percentage. In 1970, he would lead the league in home runs (44) and RBIs (126).

Howard retired in 1973 with 382 home runs and 1,119 RBIs. He posted a career batting average of .273 and a .499 career slugging average. At his peak as a slugger, from 1967 through 1970, Howard averaged 43 home runs and 108 RBIs per season.

 

 

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Sock for the Sox

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Lou Clinton

Outfielder Lou Clinton was an important bat in the Boston Red Sox lineup in the early 1960s. He was signed by the Red Sox in 1955 and made his major league debut in 1960, batting .228 as a rookie. He spent most of the 1961 season with Seattle in the Pacific Coast league, hitting .295 with 21 home runs and 102 RBIs.

Lou Clinton’s breakout season came in 1962, his first full season with the Boston Red Sox. Clinton batted .294 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs.

That performance earned Clinton a full-time shot with the 1962 Red Sox, and he delivered. Clinton batted .294 in 1962 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs. His 10 triples were second-highest in the American League. (Gino Cimoli led the league with 15 triples.)

In 1963, Clinton’s 22 home runs and 77 runs batted in were second highest on the team (to Dick Stuart in both categories). His batting average, however, slipped to .232. Clinton batted .251 in 1964 (with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs), and during that season was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for first baseman Lee Thomas.

Clinton batted .243 for the Angels in 1965, and also played with the Kansas City A’s and Cleveland Indians that season. Prior to the 1966 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees for catcher Doc Edwards. He hit .220 for the Yankees in 1966, and retired in 1967 at age 29.

Clinton played for five different teams in his seven-year major league career. He finished with 532 hits and a .247 career batting average.