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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McLain Fans 14 … in Relief

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(June 15, 1965) – Denny McLain today set a single-game record for strikeouts by a relief pitcher as the Detroit Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to edge the Boston Red Sox 6-5.

Denny McLain shut down the Boston Red Sox first-inning rally by striking out the two batters he faced … and the next five he would face.

Denny McLain shut down the Boston Red Sox first-inning rally by striking out the two batters he faced … and the next five he would face.

McLain struck out 14 batters in 6.2 innings of relief work. He also struck out the first seven batters he faced, setting a major league record.

The Red Sox scored three runs in the first inning off Tigers starter Dave Wickersham. Wickersham lasted only one-third of an inning before giving way to McLain, who proceeded to strike out Eddie Bressoud and Bob Tillman to end the inning.

McLain fanned the Red Sox in order in the second inning, and then struck out Carl Yastrzemski and Felix Mantilla in the third inning before retiring Lee Thomas on a ground out.

Willie Horton’s 14th home run in the bottom of the eighth inning – a three-run blast – capped the Tigers’ 6-5 comeback victory over the Boston Red Sox.

McLain allowed a pair of runs in the fifth inning, which put the Red Sox ahead of the Tigers by a score of 5-2. The Tigers scored four runs in the eighth on Gates Brown’s RBI single and Willie Horton’s three-run home run off Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz (4-4). Fred Gladding (2-1) pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings for the Tigers and picked up the victory. Gladding allowed no hits and struck out four batters.

The 21-year-old McLain would finish the 1965 season at 16-6 with a 2.61 ERA. He struck out 192 batters in 220.1 innings pitched.

 

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The Cardinals’ Strong Right Arm

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bob Gibson

Hard-throwing, dominating, intimidating: throughout the 1960s, no pitcher was as consistently effective as the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson.

In a decade loaded with great pitchers, no one won more games than Gibson in the post-season. A power pitcher with great control and a seemingly indestructible arm, Gibson only got better as the decade progressed, and continued his dominance of hitters into the 1970s.

Bob Gibson won 251 games and pitched 56 career shutouts – more than any other St. Louis Cardinals pitcher.

Bob Gibson won 251 games and pitched 56 career shutouts – more than any other St. Louis Cardinals pitcher.

Gibson was called up to the Cardinals in 1959. By 1961, he was a member of the starting rotation, a job he would keep for the next 15 years. The next year he won 15 games with an ERA of 2.81. He had 15 complete games, and he led the majors with five shutouts. He also struck out 208 batters that season, and would strike out 200 or more batters in a season nine times in his career.

Gibson posted 18 victories in 1963. In the Cardinals’ championship season of 1964, Gibson won 19 games during the regular season. In the 1964 World Series, he posted two complete game victories, including the deciding seventh game. His performance earned him the Series Most Valuable Player Award. At the end of 1964, Gibson was clearly the Cardinals’ ace, and his best years were still ahead of him.

In 1965 and 1966, Gibson won 20 and 21 games, respectively. He was on his way to another 20-victory campaign in 1967 when a Roberto Clemente line drive fractured his leg and sidelined him for the second half of the season.

The Cardinals cruised to the National League pennant even without Gibson, who was able to come back and pitch in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. In Game One, Gibson struck out 10 batters and allowed only six hits en route to a 2-1 victory. He returned in Game Four, this time giving up only five hits in pitching a 6-0 shutout. In the seventh game, he dominated again, taking his third World Series victory by a score of 7-2, with 10 strikeouts and surrendering only three hits. For the second time in the decade, Gibson was selected as the World Series MVP.

Bob Gibson won seven World Series games, the most by any pitcher in the 1960s. He was named World Series MVP in both 1964 and 1967.

Bob Gibson won seven World Series games, the most by any pitcher in the 1960s. He was named World Series MVP in both 1964 and 1967.

A healthy Bob Gibson no doubt looked forward to pitching a full season in 1968, but he could not have imagined the kind of season he would experience. In leading the Cardinals to another National League pennant, Gibson went 22-9 with a microscopic 1.12 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts (268) and led the majors in shutouts (13), pitching 28 complete games. He won both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards.

In the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Gibson struck out a record 35 batters in 27 innings pitched. He won his initial two starts in that Series, though he lost a Game Seven, only the second World Series loss of his career. It would be Gibson’s last World Series appearance.

Gibson closed out the 1960s by going 20-13 in 1969, with an ERA that “ballooned” to 2.18. His last 20-victory season was 1970, when 23-7 earned him his second Cy Young Award. In his 17-year career, Gibson won 251 games and registered over 3,000 strikeouts. He also pitched 56 shutouts and won nine Gold Gloves.

Bob Gibson was twice named the National League Cy Young Award winner, in 1968 (22-9 with a 1.12 ERA) and in 1970 (23-7 with a 3.21 ERA).

Bob Gibson was twice named the National League Cy Young Award winner, in 1968 (22-9 with a 1.12 ERA) and in 1970 (23-7 with a 3.21 ERA).

Gibson finished as the Cardinals’ career leader in nearly every pitching category, including victories, complete games (255), games started (482), shutouts (56), and strikeouts (3,117). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility.

 

 

 

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Yaz Rides Cycle for Five-RBI Game

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 14, 1965) At Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski drove in five runs in a losing effort to the Detroit Tigers, 12-8.

Yastrzemski’s five-RBI game was built on a five for five batting performance – hitting for the cycle plus an extra home run (and a walk).

On May 14, 1965, <a rel=

On May 14, 1965, Carl Yastrzemski hit for the cycle plus an extra home run (and a walk). He drove in five runs.

Yastrzemski’s first hit was a two-run home run off Detroit starter Denny McLain in the bottom of the first.

In the second inning, Yastrzemski ripped a three-run homer off McLain, putting the Red Sox up 5-0. The Tigers came back with five runs in the top of the third inning to tie the game.

Yastrzemski drew a walk off Tiger reliever Ed Rakow in the fourth inning, and tripled off Rakow in the sixth. In the bottom of the eighth, Yaz singled off Larry Sherry. Then in the bottom of the tenth he doubled off Terry Fox, the game’s winner, to complete the cycle-plus.

The Tigers won the game in the top of the tenth by scoring four runs off Bosox reliever Dick Radatz. An RBI double by Don Demeter, an RBI single by Willie Horton, and Norm Cash’s two-run double gave the Tigers the 12-8 victory.

Yastrzemski would finish the 1965 season batting .312, second in the American League to Tony Oliva’s .321. He would lead the major leagues in doubles that year with 45.

 

Smoking Cigars and A.L. Hitters

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Luis Tiant

You would never mistake Luis Tiant for any other pitcher in baseball. From his unique pitching style that often included turning his back to the batter, to his “Fu Manchu” mustache, to his smoking victory cigars in the shower, Tiant was truly one of a kind. He was also, at his best, one heck of a pitcher.

Luis Tiant's best season during the 1960s came in 1968 when he was 21-9 and led the American League with a 1.60 ERA.

Luis Tiant’s best season during the 1960s came in 1968 when he was 21-9 and led the American League with a 1.60 ERA.

Tiant’s best years came in the 1970s, when he won 15 or more games each year for the Boston Red Sox from 1972 through 1976 (including a trio of 20-win seasons). But he also pitched consistently well for the Cleveland Indians in the 1960s, including one year (1968) when he recorded the lowest earned run average by an American League pitcher since 1919 (when Walter Johnson posted a 1.49 ERA for the Washington Senators).

The Indians purchased Tiant from the Mexico City Tigers in 1962. He won 36 games in two-plus seasons in the Indians’ farm system. In 1964, he was called up to the Tribe after going 15-1 for their AAA affiliate, Portland, striking out 154 batters in 137 innings. Debuting in the big leagues on July 19, 1964, he proved quickly that his performance at Portland was no fluke, going 10-4 for Cleveland the rest of that season with a 2.83 ERA.

The next three years Tiant went 35-31 with a 3.03 ERA, striking out an average of 8.2 batters per nine innings pitched. Had he played for better Cleveland teams, Tiant should have won more games. And when Cleveland had its best showing in the 1960s, finishing third in 1968, Tiant turned in an outstanding season. He went 21-9, leading the American League in shutouts (9) and ERA (1.60), allowing only 5.3 hits for every nine innings pitched. He was the starter (and loser) in a 1-0 All-Star Game, which turned out to be a fitting symbol for the “Year of the Pitcher” in 1968, as the game’s only run was unearned.

Cleveland’s strong showing in 1968 was followed by the team’s total collapse in 1969, finishing with the worst record in the American League. Likewise, Tiant’s numbers slid from his masterpiece season of 1968, as he went from 20-game winner to 20-game loser, finishing 9-20, though with a respectable 3.71 ERA. In 1969, Tiant led the American League in both walks allowed (129) and home runs allowed (37). Those 37 home runs are still a Cleveland team record, and the only Cleveland team record Tiant holds.

Following the 1969 season, Tiant was traded to the Minnesota Twins in the deal that brought Dean Chance and Graig Nettles to the Indians. He struggled in Minnesota, due partly to injuries, and was released by the Twins in 1971 (and by the Atlanta Braves that same year) prior to his resurrection in Boston.

During the 1960s, pitching for mostly lackluster Cleveland teams, Tiant won 75 games in six years with a fine 2.84 combined ERA. A three-time All-Star, he retired in 1982 after winning 229 games.

 

 

 

 

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Dick Stuart Takes Potent Bat – and Legendary Glove – to Philly

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(November 29, 1964) The Philadelphia Phillies today added power to their line-up with the acquisition of right-handed slugger Dick Stuart from the Boston Red Sox.

In exchange for Stuart, the Phillies gave up left-handed starting pitcher Dennis Bennett (12-14).

Dick Stuart

Dick Stuart

Stuart had posted strong back-to-back seasons with the Red Sox. In 1963, he hit 45 home runs in his first season in Boston and led the American League with 118 RBIs. He followed up in 1964 with 33 home runs and 114 RBIs.

Prior to coming to Boston, Stuart had spent five seasons at first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the first major league player to hit 30 or more home runs in a season in each league.

The deal turned out better for Philadelphia than for the Red Sox. Stuart hit 28 home runs and drove in 95 runs during his only season with the Phillies. He was traded to the New York Mets before the 1966 season.

Dennis Bennett

Dennis Bennett

Bennett saw limited work with the Red Sox over the next three years, with a combined record of 12-13 with a 3.96 ERA.

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Double-Digit Productivity

 

Lights Out: Reggie Jackson Drives in 10 Runs

When: June 14, 1969

Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts

Game Time: 3:23

Attendance: 22,395

 

For one inning, it was a contest. After that, it became a showcase for the Oakland Athletics’ bats, which on that day were as productive as they were merciless against Boston Red Sox pitching.

Reggie Jackson mauled Boston Red Sox pitching for five hits – including two home runs – and 10 RBIs. He raised his season batting average by 20 points in this one game.

Reggie Jackson mauled Boston Red Sox pitching for five hits – including two home runs – and 10 RBIs. He raised his season batting average by 20 points in this one game.

Mostly, the game became an RBI showcase for a 23-year-old A’s outfielder with All-Star aspirations … and a Hall of Fame future.

Reggie Jackson came into the game batting .246 with 20 home runs and 35 runs batted in. By the end of the game, Jackson had raised his batting average by 20 points to .266. He had five hits in six at-bats, including two home runs and a double. He also walked once and scored two runs.

He single-handedly destroyed Red Sox pitching that day, and tattooed the craggy dimensions of Fenway Park, all on a day when his incredible output meant almost nothing in terms of the game’s outcome.

Jackson came to bat in the top of the first inning with one out and Bert Campaneris at second base. Jackson hit a ground-rule double for his first RBI of the day. Carl Yastrzemski tied the game in the bottom of the first with a solo home run, but a Dick Green RBI single in the second inning put the A’s back on top. Jackson hit a two-run homer in the third inning, hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning, and then struck out with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning. It was Jackson’s only out of the day.

Reggie Jackson finished the 1969 season with 47 home runs and 118 RBIs. He led the American League that season with 123 runs scored and a .608 slugging average.

Reggie Jackson finished the 1969 season with 47 home runs and 118 RBIs. He led the American League that season with 123 runs scored and a .608 slugging average.

He singled in two runs in the seventh, and then came to back in the eighth with the bases loaded. This time he launched a fly ball that cleared the wall in center field, ending the day with five hits – three for extra bases – and 10 RBIs. The Athletics really didn’t need Jackson’s production, as the team won 21-7. Jackson’s 10 RBIs didn’t account for half of his team’s runs.

The beneficiary of this firepower was John “Blue Moon” Odom, who won his eighth game of the season.

The 1969 season would be Reggie Jackson’s “breakout” year and his career season in most offensive categories. He finished the 1969 season batting .275 with what would be career-bests in home runs (47) and RBIs (118). He would lead the American League in runs scored with 123, and with a .608 slugging percentage.

 

Quiet Production

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Norm Siebern

Tall, athletic and bespectacled, Norm Siebern was a solid hitter who “grew up” professionally in the New York Yankees organization and blossomed into an All-Star outfielder and first baseman with the Kansas City Athletics. The New York papers – and even Yankees manager Casey Stengel – occasionally made sport of his quiet demeanor, but there was no question about the quality of his production, at bat and in the field.

Norm Siebern’s best season came with the Kansas City Athletcs in 1962, batting .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Norm Siebern’s best season came with the Kansas City Athletcs in 1962, batting .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Siebern was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and, after two years in the minors and a military tour, Siebern made his debut with the Yankees in 1956, hitting .204 in 54 games. The well-stocked Yankees outfield left no room for Siebern, so he returned to the minors in 1957, hitting .349 for Denver in the American Association, with 45 doubles, 15 triples, 24 home runs and 118 RBIs. He was named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year for 1957.

That performance earned Siebern a permanent place on the Yankees roster in 1958, and he responded with 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .300 batting average. Siebern won the Gold Glove for his left field play, but ironically, it was pair of errors in the 1958 World Series that sent him to the bench for most of that Series.

Siebern hit .271 in 1959, and after the season was traded with Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Marv Throneberry to the Kansas City Athletics for Joe DeMaestri, Kent Hadley and Roger Maris. He hit .279 for the A’s in 1960 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs. His performance was overshadowed by the MVP season that Maris had for the Yankees.

Siebern’s hitting kept improving, especially as he spent more time at first base for the A’s. He batted .296 in 1961 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 98 RBIs. In 1962, Siebern hit .308 (fifth highest in the American League) with 25 doubles, 25 home runs and 117 RBIs (second in the AL to Harmon Killebrew‘s 126).

Norm Siebern had an outstanding rookie season for the New York Yankees in 1958, batting .300 and winning the Gold Glove in left field.

Norm Siebern had an outstanding rookie season for the New York Yankees in 1958, batting .300 and winning the Gold Glove in left field.

Siebern’s production fell off slightly in 1963, batting .272 with 16 home runs and 83 RBIs, and after that season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman Jim Gentile. He hit .245 for the Orioles in 1964 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs, and he led the majors with 106 walks. In 1965, the O’s, to make room for Curt Blefary and Paul Blair, moved Boog Powell from the outfield to first base, limiting Siebern’s playing time. After that season he was traded to the California Angels for Dick Simpson, whom the Orioles later packaged in the trade for Frank Robinson.

Siebern hit .247 in 1966, his only season with the Angels. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Len Gabrielson, and in July of 1967 was purchased by the Boston Red Sox. A part-time player for Boston, Siebern was released by the Red Sox in August of 1968 and retired.

Siebern finished his 12-season major league career with a .272 batting average. He had 1,217 hits and 132 home runs. He was an All-Star from 1962 through 1964.

A Ray of Winning Sunshine

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ray Culp

Ray Culp was a strapping Texan who threw hard and won often. In fact, from 1963 through 1970, the right-hander had only a single losing season – his only season as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

Ray Culp had an outstanding rookie season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963, going 14-11 with a 2.97 ERA.

Ray Culp had an outstanding rookie season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963, going 14-11 with a 2.97 ERA.

Culp was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1959 and worked his way through the Phillies’ farm system to make the big league club as a member of the starting rotation in 1963. He was 14-11 as a rookie with a 2.97 ERA, pitching 203.1 innings with 10 complete games and five shutouts. He was selected that year as The Sporting News National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year and was a member of the National League All-Star team.

He was 8-7 in 1964 and followed in 1965 with a 14-10 record and a 3.22 ERA, third on the team in victories behind Jim Bunning and Chris Short. He moved to the bullpen in 1966, going 7-4 with a 5.04 ERA, and then was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Dick Ellsworth.

Culp went 8-11 for the Cubs in 1967, and then was acquired by the Boston Red Sox, where his career took off to reflect the promise he showed in his rookie season. Culp was 16-6 for Boston in 1968 with a 2.91 ERA. He pitched 11 complete games for the Red Sox with six shutouts.

Ray Culp’s career rebounded when he was acquired by the Boston Red Sox in 1968. He was 71-58 with a 3.50 ERA in six seasons with the Red Sox.

Ray Culp’s career rebounded when he was acquired by the Boston Red Sox in 1968. He was 71-58 with a 3.50 ERA in six seasons with the Red Sox.

Culp followed up in 1969 with a 17-8 season and a 3.81 ERA. He also earned a spot on the American League All-Star team that season. Culp was 17-14 for Boston in 1970 with a 3.04 ERA and 15 complete games in 33 starts. He was fifth in the league in strikeouts with 197. It was his last winning season.

Culp’s record slipped to 14-16 in 1971 with a 3.60 ERA, but by this time his arm was effectively pitched out. He was 5-8 for Boston in 1972, and made only 10 appearances in 1973, going 2-6. He was released by the Red Sox following the 1973 season, and retired at age 31.

Culp finished his 11-year major league career with a record of 122-101 and a 3.58 ERA.

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Boston Boomer

 

The Glove Club: George Scott

George Scott was a slugger who, at one point in his career, the most productive – and at another point, the least productive – first baseman batting in the American League.

George Scott was the premier American League first baseman of his era. He won eight Gold Gloves between 1967 and 1976.

George Scott was the premier American League first baseman of his era. He won eight Gold Gloves between 1967 and 1976.

He was also an amazing defensive presence at first base, toting a vacuum cleaner of a glove he nicknamed “Black Beauty.”

Scott was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1962 and spent the next four seasons progressing through the Boston farm system. In 1965, he won the Eastern League Triple Crown, leading the league with 25 home runs, 94 RBIs and a .319 batting average. That performance earned Scott a shot at the Red Sox roster, and he stayed in the major leagues for the next 14 years.

Scott hit .245 as a rookie in 1966 with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs. He followed up in 1967 with a .303 batting average, hitting 19 home runs and driving in 82 run. He had a disastrous 1968, batting only .171 with three home runs and 25 RBIs, but rebounded in 1969 by hitting .253 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Scott was the American League’s best defensive first baseman from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. He won eight Gold Gloves within that decade, and led the league’s first basemen three times in both putouts and assists.

George  Scott’s best season as a hitter came with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1975. That season, “Boomer” batted .285 and led the league with 36 home runs (tied with <a rel=

George Scott’s best season as a hitter came with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1975. That season, “Boomer” batted .285 and led the league with 36 home runs (tied with Reggie Jackson) and 109 RBIs.

Scott’s most productive period as a hitter came in the 1970s. He hit .296 for the Red Sox in 1970, and batted 24 home runs with 78 RBIs in 1971. Following the 1971 season, he was traded with Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Jim Lonborg and Don Pavletich to the Milwaukee Brewers for Pat Skrable, Tommy Harper, Lew Krausse and Marty Pattin.

In five seasons with the Brewers, Scott hit a combined .283 and averaged 23 home runs and 93 RBIs per season. His best season came in 1975, when he hit .285 and led the American League with 109 RBIs. His 36 home runs also tied for the league lead with Reggie Jackson.

Before the 1977 season, Scott was traded back to the Red Sox (with Bernie Carbo) for Cecil Cooper. He hit .269 for Boston that season, with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He hit .233 for the Red Sox in 1978, and split the 1979 season with the Red Sox, the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees, hitting a combined .254 with six home runs and 49 RBIs. He retired after the 1979 season.

In 14 big league seasons, Scott batted .268 with 271 home runs. He was named to the American League All-Star team three times.