Man Mauls Mets … and Cardinals Soar

 

Lights Out: Stan Musial Demolishes New York Mets’ Pitching

When: July 8, 1962

Where:  Polo Grounds, New York, New York

Game Time: 2:47

Attendance: 12,460

When the National League’s oldest player came up against its youngest team, the result was devastating to the arms on the New York Mets’ pitching staff.

But it’s what Stan Musial had been doing to NL pitching staffs for more than two decades. In 1962, he was doing it in a way that reminded you of The Man in his prime.

At age 41, Stan Musial seemed to be rejuvenated in 1962. He finished third in the National League in hitting with a .330 batting average. He hit 19 home runs with 82 RBIs, and his .416 on-base percentage was second highest in the league.

He proved to be more Man than the Mets could handle.

The 1962 season would be the next-to-last in Musial’s 22-year major league career. He was a seven-time batting champion and three-time Most Valuable Player. He had more hits and runs batted in than any other National League hitter. And more home runs than any player who had never won a home run title.

Now 41, Musial was having his best season in the past five years. Coming into the July 8 game with the Mets, Musial was batting .325 with nine home runs and 37 runs batted in. Against the Mets’ woeful pitching, he was practically invincible. (Musial batted .443 against the Mets in 1962.) Today would be no exception.

Mets starter Jay Hook retired the first two Cardinals batters, then first baseman Bill White launched a solo home run to the right field seats. Musial followed with his tenth home run of the season to right.

After their first turn at bat, the Cardinals were up 2-0. It would turn out to be all the runs they would need, but not all they were going to get.

Cardinals starter Bob Gibson retired the Mets in the first two innings without allowing any runs. Then Gibson helped himself by hitting the team’s third solo home run to lead off the third inning. In his second plate appearance, Musial walked, and the Cardinals scored their fourth run when Ken Boyer singled, driving in Curt Flood.

Ah, pitching for the New York Mets in 1962 … Mets starter Jay Hook (6-9) was rocked for nine runs in four innings. But only four of those runs were earned.

Like so many Mets contests in their inaugural season, the game was lost early. But no one told Musial or the Cardinals. They scored five runs off Hook in the fourth inning – all unearned, and the last two coming from Musial’s eleventh home run. Musial hit his third home run of the game to lead off the seventh inning, this time off reliever Willard Hunter. Fred Whitfield, who replaced White at first in the fourth inning, hit a two-run homer off Bob Miller in the eighth inning. Musial came up with the bases empty and struck out … but the Mets still couldn’t retire him. On the third strike, the ball got by Chris Cannizzaro and Musial beat the throw to first. Bobby Smith ended Musial’s day, replacing The Man as the runner at first.

The Cardinals scored three more runs in the ninth, including Whitfield’s third RBI of the day. The Mets scored their lone run in the bottom of the ninth off Gibson, who pitched a three-hit complete game to earn his tenth win of the season.

On the day, Musial went three for four with four RBIs and scoring three runs. He raised his season’s batting average to .333, the highest among Cardinal regulars. He would end the 1962 season batting .330 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs, finishing third in the 1962 hitting race behind Tommy Davis (.346) and Frank Robinson (.342).

 

 

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Gunning Down Batters

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tommie Sisk

Tommie Sisk signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960. He won 14 games in the Pirates’ minor league system in 1961, and won 10 in 1962 when he was called up to the Pirates. After being rocked by the lowly New York Mets in his major league debut, Sisk settled down as a rookie reliever in 1963, going 1-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 57 appearances.

Tommie Sisk’s best season with the Pittsburgh Pirates came in 1967. He was 13-13 with a 3.34 ERA. He led the team in innings pitched (207.2), shutouts (two) and complete games (11).

Sisk struggled in 1964, going 1-4 with a 6.16 earned run average, but rebounded in 1965 with a 7-3 record and a 3.40 ERA.

By 1966, Sisk was being used more as a starter than as a reliever. He thrived in that role. He was 10-5 in 1966 and in 1967 he was 13-13, second on the team in wins (to Bob Veale) and the team leader in innings pitched (207.2), shutouts (two) and complete games (11). His 3.34 ERA was best among the Pirates’ starters.

In 1968 the Pirates added Jim Bunning and moved Al McBean out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation, pushing Sisk back into the relief corps (though he did manage to get 11 spot starts). He responded by going 5-5 with a 3.28 ERA.

In March of 1969, Sisk was traded with Chris Cannizzaro to the San Diego Padres for Ron Davis and Bobby Klaus. He was 2-13 for the Padres with a 4.78 ERA, and after one season was dealt to the Chicago White Sox. He appeared in 17 games for Chicago, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA, before retiring at age 28. One day after retiring, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, but never played for the Tribe.

Sisk was 40-49 in his nine-year major league career with a 3.92 ERA.

 

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