No-Hit Catcher

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Jim Pagliaroni

Jim Pagliaroni was strictly a 1960s catcher. All but one game of his decade-long career was played in the 1960s, where he toiled for four teams with defensive prowess, occasional pop in his bat, and a cool head that helped two pitchers toss no-hitters, and one do so perfectly. Continue reading

Blue Moon Rising

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Blue Moon Odom

John (Blue Moon) Odom was one of the young Kansas City Athletics pitchers who paid his dues on the mound in the 1960s and contributed mightily to the emergence of the Oakland Athletics in the early 1970s.

Blue Moon Odom was 16-10 with a 2.92 ERA for the Oakland Athletics in 1968. He made his first All-Star appearance that season.

His personality and pitching were both flamboyant. And with Jim Hunter, Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman, he was a member of one of the most formidable starting rotations in baseball in the 1970s.

The right-handed throwing Odom was signed as a 19-year-old amateur free agent by the Athletics in 1964. He made his major league debut with the A’s later that season, going 1-2 with a shutout. Odom spent most of the next two seasons in the minors, and went 12-5 with AA Mobile in 1966. He joined the A’s for keeps midway through the 1967 season, finishing at 3-8 with a 5.04 ERA.

In 1968, the A’s first season in Oakland, Odom worked his way into the team’s starting rotation, going 16-10 in 31 starts with nine complete games, four shutouts and a 2.45 ERA. He followed that performance in 1969 with a 15-6 record and a 2.92 ERA. He was named to the American League All-Star team in both 1968 and 1969.

Odom won nine games in 1970 and 10 in 1971, then showed flashes of his former brilliance again in 1972 when Oakland won its first World Series championship. Odom finished the season at 15-6 with a 2.50 ERA. He was 2-0 in the League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, shutting out the Tigers 5-0 in Game Two and then clinching a berth in the World Series by winning the fifth game 2-1. In the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Odom appeared in two games, going 0-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.

In 12 seasons with the Athletics, John Odom was 80-76 with a 3.53 ERA. He was 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in postseason play.

In 12 seasons with the Athletics, John Odom was 80-76 with a 3.53 ERA. He was 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in postseason play.

The 1972 season would be Odom’s last as a dominant pitcher. His record slipped to 5-12 in 1973 with a 4.49 ERA, and he was relegated to the bullpen in 1974, going 1-5 with a 3.81 ERA. He pitched only two more seasons with four different teams (including another tour with Oakland), winning a total of four games.

He was traded three times during the 1975 season, first to the Cleveland Indians for Dick Bosman and Jim Perry, then two weeks later was dealt to the Atlanta Braves, who traded him after another week to the Chicago White Sox. Odom was released by the White Sox in January of 1977, and retired with a career record of 84-85 and a 3.70 ERA.

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Casting for Cooperstown

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Catfish Hunter

Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s best years – the one that put him into the Baseball Hall of Fame – came in the 1970s, when he was the pitching ace of World Series championship teams with the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees.

Catfish Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins in 1968 at age 22. He was 13-13 with a 3.35 ERA for the A’s that season.

Catfish Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins in 1968 at age 22. He was 13-13 with a 3.35 ERA for the A’s that season.

The 1960s were Hunter’s “formative” years as a member of the Kansas City Athletics staff. Those A’s teams were far from championship caliber, and Hunter’s won-lost record reflected the abilities of those teams. But Hunter’s performance in the 1960s consistently hinted at the greatness that would be revealed a decade later. Early in his career, he was always competitive, regardless of the team behind him, and was even, on one occasion, perfect.

Hunter was signed by the Athletics in 1964 and made his major league debut, at age 19, in 1965. He never pitched in the minors.

Hunter was 8-8 in his rookie season, pitching 133 innings in 20 starts (with two shutouts). His starts and innings pitched rose steadily from there. In 1966 he made 25 starts and pitched 176.2 innings, compiling a 9-11 record with a 4.02 earned run average. By 1967, at age 21, Hunter had emerged as the ace of the A’s staff, pitching 259.2 innings in 35 starts, and compiling a 13-17 record with a 2.81 ERA and five shutouts.

In 1968, the team moved to Oakland, and over the next two seasons Hunter went 25-28 with a combined ERA of 3.35. He averaged 240 innings per season. On May 8, 1968, Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins, the ninth perfect game in American League history.

Catfish  Hunter won 224 games over a 15-year major league career. He won 25 games and the American League <a rel=

Catfish Hunter won 224 games over a 15-year major league career. He won 25 games and the American League Cy Young award in 1974.

From 1965 through 1969, pitching in Kansas City and Oakland, Hunter’s combined record was 55-64 with a 3.44 ERA … hardly Hall of Fame numbers, but those were to come. He won 18 games for Oakland in 1970, and was a 21-game winner in each of the next three seasons. In 1974, he led the American League in victories (25) and ERA (2.49) on his way to claiming the Cy Young Award. It was his last season in Oakland. Signed as a free agent, Hunter won 23 games for the Yankees in 1975, and was 63-53 in his five seasons in New York.

Hunter retired in 1979 after 15 big league seasons and 3,449.1 innings. An eight-time All-Star, he compiled a 224-166 record with a 3.26 ERA. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

 

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Dog Gone Productive

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tony Perez

In the prime of his career, first baseman Tony Perez was an RBI monster for the Cincinnati Reds. He was so productive for so long and so consistently that he quite naturally found a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame following a 23-year major league career.

Tony Perez was the Most Valuable Player in the 1967 All-Star game. That season, he batted .290 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.

Tony Perez was the Most Valuable Player in the 1967 All-Star game. That season, he batted .290 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.

That career began in the 1960s with the Reds, the team that signed him in 1960. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League in 1964, hitting 34 home runs with 107 RBIs for the Reds’ AAA affiliate, the (then minor league) San Diego Padres.

In 1965, his first full season with the Reds, Perez hit .260 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs. He batted .265 in 1966, and then had his breakout season in 1967, batting .290 with 28 doubles, 26 home runs and 102 RBIs. He appeared in his first All-Star game that season, hitting the game-winning home run off Catfish Hunter in the fifteenth inning and being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.  At the end of the season, Perez finished eighth in the balloting for National League MVP.

Perez’s offensive number fell off slightly in 1968 (as was true for nearly all of baseball’s sluggers), but he put together another tremendous year in 1969, batting .294 with 31 doubles, 37 home runs and 122 runs batted in (third best in the National League behind Willie McCovey and Ron Santo). He improved on those numbers again in 1970, batting .317 with 40 home runs and 129 RBIs.

From 1967 through 1976, Perez averaged 26 home runs and 103 RBIs per season while batting a combined .286 over that decade. Following the 1976 season, Perez was traded with Will McEnaney to the Montreal Expos for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. In three seasons with the Expos, Perez averaged 15 home runs and 81 RBIs while batting .281. He spent three seasons with the Boston Red Sox, hitting 25 home runs with 105 RBIs in 1980. After a season in Philadelphia, Perez returned to the Reds in 1984 and spent three more seasons as a part-time performer, retiring after the 1986 season.

With 1,192 RBIs in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, Tony Perez is second all time to <a rel=

Perez retired with a .279 career batting average and 379 home runs. His 1,652 runs batted in put him twenty-eighth on the all-time list. His 1,192 RBIs with the Reds put him second to Johnny Bench in that category.

A five-time All-Star, Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

 

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Catfish Served to Perfection

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 8, 1968) In front of only 6,298 Oakland fans, Catfish Hunter today hurled the first American League perfect game in 46 years as the A’s defeated the Minnesota Twins, 4-0.

In pitching the first perfect game in the American League in more than 40 years, Jim “Catfish” Hunter allowed seven ground balls and nine outfield flies. He struck out 11.

In pitching the first perfect game in the American League in more than 40 years, Jim “Catfish” Hunter allowed seven ground balls and nine outfield flies. He struck out 11.

Hunter (3-2) struck out 11 Twins batters in pitching the gem. He was also the game’s hitting star, with three RBIs on three hits, including a double.

The losing pitcher for the Twins was Dave Boswell (3-3).

The 22-year-old Hunter would finish the 1968 season with a 13-13 record and a 3.35 ERA. He was still three years away from his first 20-victory season. He would win 20 or more games five times in the 1970s.

 

Twins Bury the A’s with Consecutive Home Runs

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(June 9, 1966) Trailing 4-3, the Minnesota Twins swept past the Kansas City Athletics with an avalanche of seventh-inning home runs to beat the A’s 9-4.

twins_nsp_66_2The A’s started their 20-year-old right-hander Jim “Catfish” Hunter against the lethal line-up of the defending American League pennant winners. Hunter came into the game with a record of 4-4 and a 3.26 ERA, and got plenty of run support at the outset, as the Athletics chased Twins starter Camilo Pascual with four runs on four hits and a walk. Hunter responded by shutting out the Twins over the first four innings.

In the bottom of the fifth, Twins second baseman Bernie Allen singled with 2 outs and scored on Bob Allison’s double. Then the Twins sliced the A’s lead again in the sixth inning on Harmon Killebrew’s two-run home run.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, still leading 4-3, Hunter walked the lead-off batter, Earl Battey, and then got Allen on a soft liner to second baseman Dick Green.

Then came the avalanche. Pinch-hitting for reliever Pete Cimino, Rich Rollins launched a Catfish fastball into the seats for a 5-4 Twins lead. The next batter, shortstop Zoilo Versalles, also took Hunter deep and increased the Twins’ lead to 6-4.

That was it for Hunter, but not for the Twins. Paul Linblad came in and got Sandy Valdespino to ground out to short. Then Tony Oliva hit the third Twins home run of the inning, and Don Mincher followed with the Twins’ fourth homer of the inning. A’s manager Al Dark had seen enough and pulled Linblad in favor of his ace reliever, John Wyatt. But Killebrew added one more home run – his second of the game and the Twins’ fifth of the inning. The next batter, outfielder Jimmie Hall, hit a “mere” double and advanced to third on an error, but that was all the scoring the Twins would do, or need to do. Al Worthington shut out the Athletics over the final two innings, and the Twins walked away with a 9-4 victory on six home runs, five of them bunched in the seventh inning.

Wyatt came back out for the eighth inning and struck out the side.

Cimino (1-1) was the winning pitcher. Worthington picked up his second save.

The Twins would finish the season with 144 home runs, only sixth best in the American League. Killebrew would rack up 39 home runs by season’s end, second in the league to Frank Robinson’s 49.

 

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