NL All-Stars Turn Up the Heat; Perry Prevails

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 12, 1966) In St. Louis, the National League All-Stars edged the American League 2-1, in a game played at Busch Stadium in 105-degree weather. Continue reading

Trust the Law

 

Career Year: Vern Law – 1960

Vern Law was a lanky right-hander whose fortunes as a pitcher improved steadily throughout the 1950s … just as his team, the Pittsburgh Pirates (his only major league team over a 16-year career), clawed its way out of the bottom of the National League standings by the close of the 1950s. Continue reading

The Mark of a Master

 

The Glove Club: Mark Belanger

By all human logic, it would seem to be impossible to stand out as a defensive player in an infield that featured the greatest defensive third baseman who ever played the game. But Mark Belanger did. He joined the Baltimore Orioles infield in 1967, and spent most of his major league career playing shortstop beside the incomparable Brooks Robinson. Continue reading

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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Johnny, Take Us Home!

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 7, 1964) The National League today won the All-Star game 7-4 on a walk-off home run by Phillies right fielder Johnny Callison.

Johnny Callison’s three-run homer off Dick Radatz was the game winner for the National League All-Stars.

Johnny Callison’s three-run homer off Dick Radatz was the game winner for the National League All-Stars.

Callison, who entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jim Bunning, flied out in his two previous at-bats. His ninth-inning home run off Boston Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz was his only hit of the day.

The American League opened the scoring in the first inning on Harmon Killebrew’s RBI single off NL starter Don Drysdale. The NL took the lead in the fourth inning on solo home runs from Billy Williams and Ken Boyer. The Nationals added another run in the fifth inning when Dick Groat doubled off Camilo Pascual, bringing home Roberto Clemente.

The American League tied the game when Brooks Robinson tripled home two runs in the sixth inning, then took the lead on Jim Fregosi’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The AL led 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, with Radatz on the pitching mound.

Juan Marichal pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the victory. Marichal was also the winning pitcher in the first 1962 All-Star Game, and had a career ERA of 0.50 in eight All-Star apearances.

Juan Marichal pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the victory. Marichal was also the winning pitcher in the first 1962 All-Star Game, and had a career ERA of 0.50 in eight All-Star appearances.

Willie Mays walked to open the ninth inning, stole second base, and then scored on Orlando Cepeda’s single, tying the game. With runners at first and second base, Radatz struck out Hank Aaron for the inning’s second out. But Callison ended the All-Star thriller with one stroke.

It would be Callison’s last All-Star appearance.

Feigner Fans ‘Em

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(February 18, 1967) He was one of the top strikeout pitchers of the 1960s … though he never pitched in the major leagues.

And on this day he put on a pitching exhibition that supported any claim that he was the best strikeout artist ever.

“The King” Eddie Feigner

“The King” Eddie Feigner

Eddie Feigner could pitch a softball (underhanded, of course) clocked at speeds up to 104 mph (though some claimed it was more like 114 mph). Feigner barnstormed America for more than 50 years with a four-player team known as “The King and His Court.”

Just prior to spring training in 1967, Feigner pitched an exhibition at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, striking out six consecutive major league hitters.

But not just any major league hitters. Feigner fanned (in order) Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Brooks RobinsonWillie McCoveyMaury Wills, and Harmon Killebrew. All six won the Most Valuable Player Award during the 1960s. All but Wills have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If hitters of their stature couldn’t touch a fat Feigner-launched softball, how would they have fared against a baseball?

Mantle Returns with Dramatic Home Run

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(August 4, 1963) He had not played a single inning since he broke his foot on June 5. But when he finally did make his return to the New York Yankees’ lineup, Mickey Mantle’s comeback provided a vintage Mantle moment.

When he broke his foot in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, the injury interrupted another blistering Mantle start, on the heels of his MVP performance in 1962. Thirty-six games into the 1963 season, Mantle was batting .310 with 11 home runs and 26 runs batted in.

His first game back started on the Yankees bench. Tom Tresh opened the game in center field, as he had in Mantle’s absence.

Neither starting pitcher lasted past the second inning. The Orioles scored five runs in the first two innings off Jim Bouton. The Yankees chased Baltimore starter Dave McNally in the first inning with four runs, and scored three more in the second. The Orioles tied the game with a Jackie Brandt two-run single in the fourth  inning, and then took the lead in the sixth on a Boog Powell RBI single and a Brooks Robinson home run that put the Orioles ahead 10-7.

Elston Howard’s two-run home run in the sixth inning cut the Orioles’ lead to 10-9, and that was the score when Mantle came to bat in the seventh inning, pinch-hitting for reliever Steve Hamilton. Batting against George Brunet, Mantle homered to tie the game at 10-10. It stayed that way until the tenth inning, when a Yogi Berra sacrifice fly scored Tony Kubek with the game-winning run.

Mantle would end up playing in only 65 games during the 1963 season. It would prove to be the least productive season of his Hall of Fame career, with only 15 home runs and 35 RBIs.

A Short Stop Among the Legends

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tony Kubek

Throughout both of his baseball careers–as a player and as a broadcaster–Tony Kubek was known as someone who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.

Tony Kubek was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1957. He batted .297 in his inaugural season.

Tony Kubek was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1957. He batted .297 in his inaugural season.

He was also a pretty fair ballplayer who brought solid fielding and consistent hitting to a powerful New York Yankees lineup.

Kubek was signed by the Yankees (the only team he ever played for) in 1954. He was their starting shortstop by 1957. He had a fantastic debut season, hitting .297 and winning the American League Rookie-of-the-Year award. In the 1957 World Series against the Milwaukee Braves, Kubek batted .286, with two home runs and four RBIs in Game Three.

In 1960, Kubek hit .273 with career highs in home runs (14) and RBIs (62). In 1961, his career-high 38 doubles tied him with Brooks Robinson for second in the American League, three behind league leader Al Kaline. Military service limited Kubek to 45 games in 1962, though he hit .314 with a .432 slugging percentage.

In 1963 he reclaimed his shortstop position (moving Tom Tresh to the outfield permanently) and had another solid season, hitting .257 with 21 doubles and 44 RBIs. He retired at age 29 after hitting .218 in 1965.

In nine major league seasons, Kubek was an All-Star three times.

One Game, Two Streaks

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 5, 1969) The Baltimore Orioles ended a three-game losing streak today by beating the Detroit Tigers 9-3.

In 1969, Detroit Tigers center fielder <a rel=

Mickey Stanley extended his streak of errorless games to 220, a record for his position. Stanley won his second Gold Glove that season.

During the course of that game, two significant individual streaks were extended by players on each team.

The Orioles’ starting pitcher, left-hander Dave McNally (12-0), stretched his personal winning streak to 14 games. McNally earned the complete-game victory by allowing only seven hits and striking out seven Tiger batters.

One of those hits was a home run by Tigers center fielder Mickey Stanley. Stanley was in the midst of his own amazing streak, having now played in 220 consecutive games without committing an error. However, in this game, his errorless streak was extended “effortlessly,” as he had no official chances in the field.

Stanley’s home run was the seventh of the season for the Tigers’ lead-off hitter.

Baltimore Orioles left-hander <a rel=

The hitting stars for the Orioles were the usual suspects. Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell each collected two RBIs for Baltimore. Powell had four hits. Brooks Robinson hit his thirteenth home run of the season in the first inning off Tigers starter Pat Dobson (3-6).

McNally’s personal winning streak would continue through July and extend to 17 games. His first loss of the 1969 season would not come until August 3 in a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins. McNally would finish the 1969 season at 20-7 with a 3.22 ERA.

Stanley’s streak of consecutive games without an error would end the next day.

The Miracle

 

Lights Out: Jerry Koosman Pitches the New York Mets to a World Series Championship

When: October 16, 1969

Where: Shea Stadium, New York, New York

Game Time: 2:14

Attendance: 57,397

 

Looking back now, maybe we should have been able to predict how the 1969 season would end.

The New York Mets of 1969 would not be denied their miracle. The franchise that redefined on-the-field ineptitude in the early 1960s won it all by the end of the decade, and did so by beating a Baltimore Orioles team that, had it won the 1969 World Series, might have been recognized as one of the best teams of all time.

A 19-game winner during the regular season, Jerry Koosman won both of his starts during the 1969 World Series, including the decisive fifth game.

A 19-game winner during the regular season, Jerry Koosman won both of his starts during the 1969 World Series, including the decisive fifth game.

That Orioles squad was loaded. The team had power, was solid defensively and featured outstanding pitching depth, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. The Orioles got big seasons out of Boog Powell (.304, 37 home runs and 121 RBIs) and Frank Robinson (.308, 32 home runs, 100 RBIs). The Orioles fielded four Gold Gloves (Paul Blair in center field, Dave Johnson at second base, Mark Belanger at shortstop, and, of course, Brooks Robinson at third). And the pitching staff was led by Mike Cuellar (23-11), Dave McNally (20-7) and a 23-year-old Jim Palmer (16-4) on the verge of becoming a perennial 20-game winner.

The 1969 Baltimore Orioles won 109 games during the regular season and, in the first American League Championship Series, swept the Minnesota Twins in three games. They entered the World Series as seasoned favorites.

The odds might have been in their favor. Fate wasn’t.

The Mets didn’t exactly limp into the World Series. They won 100 games during the regular season (27 more than they had won in 1968). They swept the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. And they had two of baseball’s best young pitchers in Tom Seaver (25-7, 2.21 ERA) and Jerry Koosman (17-9, 2.28 ERA).

Donn Clendenon’s sixth-inning home run – his second of the Series – brought the Mets to within one run of the Orioles.

Donn Clendenon’s sixth-inning home run – his second of the Series – brought the Mets to within one run of the Orioles.

The Orioles behind Cuellar beat the Mets and Seaver 4-1 in the first game, but Koosman pitched a two-hitter in the second game, with the Mets winning 2-1. Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan combined to shut out the Orioles 5-0 on four hits in the third game, and Seaver pitched a six-hit gem in the fourth game, beating the Orioles 2-1 with the aid of Donn Clendenon’s home run.

Shea Stadium was the site for the fifth game, pitting Koosman against McNally. The Orioles scored three runs in the third inning on home runs from McNally and Frank Robinson. But Koosman was masterful the rest of the way, shutting down the vaunted Orioles bats with six scoreless innings.

Meanwhile, the Mets cranked up their last miracle of the season. Cleon Jones was hit by a pitch to lead off the sixth inning and Clendenon homered off McNally to cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2. In the seventh inning, Al Weis hit a lead-off home run to tie the game.

Ron Swoboda’s eighth-inning double drove in Cleon Jones with the go-ahead run. Swoboda later scored on an error by Orioles reliever Eddie Watt. Koosman made the lead stand up with a scoreless ninth inning.

Baltimore’s bullpen ace Eddie Watt came on to pitch the eighth inning. Jones doubled to open the inning, and advanced to third on Clendenon’s ground out. Ron Swoboda doubled to drive in Jones. After Ed Charles flied out to left field, catcher Jerry Grote hit the ball back to Watt with Swoboda running on the pitch. Watt bobbled the ball, allowing Grote to reach first base safely while Swoboda scored. It was all the scoring the Mets would need.

Koosman came out to pitch the ninth inning, facing the Robinsons and Powell, the heart of the Orioles’ batting order. Frank Robinson worked Koosman for a walk. Powell hit a grounder to Weis at second for the force out on Frank Robinson. The Orioles brought Chico Salmon in to run for Powell, but he would have nowhere to go. Brooks Robinson flied out to Swoboda in right field, and Dave Johnson flied out to Jones in left field to end the inning, the World Series, and a decade of baseball like no other.

 

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