Lights Out – Mel Stottlemyre’s Inside-the-Park Grand Slam Beats the Red Sox
When: July 20, 1965
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Game Time: 1:59
It was becoming the summer of denial for the New York Yankees. And denial wasn’t working.
Mel Stottlemyre not only pitched a complete game against the Red Sox (his ninth of the season), but also hit an inside-the-park grand slam home run on his way to a 6-3 victory.
The defending American League champions were reeling from lineup-altering injuries and age that were catching up with the team just as Johnny Keane had assumed the managerial reins. The team’s record was 19-26 by the end of May, with the Yankees (and, probably, the rest of the league) holding their collective breaths, waiting for lightning to strike and the Yankees to jump back into pennant contention.
It wasn’t to be. A 17-12 June brought the team close to the .500 mark, but an 8-9 start to July left the team in sixth place, 12.5 games behind the league-leading Minnesota Twins and six games behind the fifth-place Detroit Tigers.
The sole bright spot in the season came from the same arm that practically willed the Yankees into the 1964 World Series. After being called up to New York on August 12, 1964, right-hander Mel Stottlemyre went 9-3 down the stretch with a 2.06 earned run average. He showed the same effectiveness in the first half of 1965, going 9-5 with a 2.81 ERA when he faced the visiting Boston Red Sox on July 20.
When the Yankees were stumbling to a sixth-place finish in 1965, Stottlemyre picked up where he left off in 1964. He finished the 1965 season at 20-9 with a 2.63 ERA and a league-leading 18 complete games.
Only Stottlemyre’s performance in that game exceeded his own standards for excellence – both from the mound and from the batter’s box.
That evening Stottlemyre pitched a complete game against the Red Sox. (His 18 complete games in 1965 would lead the American League, as would his 291 innings pitched on his way to winning 20 games.) Stottlemyre allowed a run in the first inning off Jim Gosger’s lead-off home run. And he allowed two more runs in the eighth inning on two hits, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly.
Between the first and eighth innings, Stottlemyre allowed no runs, but collected four RBIs of his own.
Gosger’s home run held up as the Boston lead until the fourth inning, when a Bobby Richardson single and a Tony Kubek home run off Boston starter Bill Monbouquette gave the Yankees the lead at 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Joe Pepitone led off with a walk, followed by Clete Boyer’s single. Monbouquette walked Roger Repoz, loading the bases for Stottlemyre. He lined the ball to deep center field, clearing the bases and scoring himself for an inside-the-park grand slam.
That one swing resulted in half the home runs and RBIs that Stottlemyre would have that season. And the victory, his tenth, represented half the games Stottlemyre would win as the Yankees stumbled to a sixth-place finish, the team’s worst showing in 40 years.