You Only No-Hit Twice

 

Lights Out: Jim Maloney Pitches a 10-Inning No-Hitter for the Second Time this Year

When: August 19, 1965

Where:  Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game Time: 2:51

Attendance: 11,342

 

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Maloney had the kind of stuff that made every start a potential no-hitter. Continue reading

Art Shamsky’s Hat Trick

 

Lights Out: Art Shamsky

When: August 12, 1966

Where:  Crosley Field, Cincinnati, Ohio

Game Time: 4:22

Attendance: 25,477

Slender Art Shamsky didn’t look like a slugger. Throughout his minor league career in the Cincinnati Reds’ farm system, that’s what he was. But he wasn’t enough of a slugger to break into the Reds’ everyday lineup when he joined the team for keeps in 1965. By 1966, he was the spare bat and glove for a Reds outfield that featured Vada Pinson, Deron Johnson and Tommy Harper. Continue reading

Winning with What’s Left

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bud Daley

In his prime, Bud Daley was a very good pitcher with a very bad team.

He was a knuckleball pitcher who offset the flutter pitch with an outstanding curve ball. And he was that most prized of baseball assets: a southpaw with control. Continue reading

Portable Power

 

Homer Happy: Deron Johnson

Hitting the ball hard was Deron Johnson’s specialty. Pete Rose said he never saw anyone hit the ball harder.

Playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Deron Johnson led the National League with 130 RBIs in 1965.

Playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Deron Johnson led the National League with 130 RBIs in 1965.

Johnson was signed by the New York Yankees in 1956, but there was no room for him in the Yankees’ powerful lineup of the late 1950s. He managed a token appearance with New York in 1960.

Thirteen games into the 1961 season, Johnson was traded with pitcher Art Ditmar to the Kansas City Athletics for pitcher Bud Daley. In 83 games with the A’s, he hit eight home runs with 44 RBIs but batted only .216. He spent most of the next two seasons in the minors and then was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds.

In Cincinnati, Johnson matured into the power hitter and run producer that he was to become.  Batting in a lineup surrounded with hitters like Rose, Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson and Tony Perez, Johnson got to see more strikes (and fastballs), and he responded with RBIs. He hit .263 in 1964 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs. In 1965, he led the major leagues with 130 RBIs while hitting .287 with 30 doubles and 32 home runs. In 1966, in a lineup that no longer included Robinson, Johnson hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs.

Following the 1967 season, Johnson was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Jim Beauchamp, Mack Jones and Jay Ritchie. His only season in Atlanta produced eight home runs and 33 RBIs, and he was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies, where his power hitting revived. His best season in Philadelphia was 1971, when he hit .265 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs.

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Like so many young sluggers in the late 1950s, Deron Johnson spent the early part of his career languishing in the New York Yankees minor league system. His ticket out of the Yankee farm system came in 1961 when he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics.

Over the next four seasons, Johnson played for five different teams (Philadelphia, Oakland, Milwaukee, Boston and the Chicago White Sox) and averaged 13 home runs and 51 RBIs per season. His best remaining seasons were 1973, when he hit 20 home runs with 86 RBIs for the Phillies and A’s, and 1975, when he hit 19 home runs with 75 RBIs, splitting the season with the White Sox and Red Sox. Johnson retired after the 1976 season.

In 16 big league seasons with eight different teams, Johnson hit 245 home runs and collected 923 RBIs.

 

 

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Taking a Healthy Cut

 

Homer Happy Mack Jones

In the mid 1960s, the Milwaukee Braves fielded one of the most potent power lineups in the National League. Spearheaded by Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, the Braves’ lineup also included stellar hitters such as Rico Carty, Joe Torre, Felipe Alou and a free-swinging left-handed hitter named Mack Jones.

Mack Jones hit 31 home runs with the Milwaukee Braves in 1965.

Mack Jones hit 31 home runs with the Milwaukee Braves in 1965.

Jones was signed by the Braves in 1958 and made the big league club as a reserve outfielder in 1961. He batted .255 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 1962, but saw only limited playing time in his first three seasons with the Braves.

In 1965, Jones was named the starting center fielder for the Braves, and responded with the best season of his career: a .262 batting average with 31 home runs and 75 RBIs. His power numbers dropped off in each of the next two seasons, hitting 23 home runs in 1966 and 17 homers in 1967.

Following the 1967 season, he was traded with Jim Beauchamp and Jay Ritchie to the Cincinnati Reds for Deron Johnson.  In his only season in Cincinnati, Jones hit 10 home runs with 34 RBIs on a .252 batting average.

Jones was the fourth selection by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. He batted .270 for the Expos in 1969 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs. He also matched his career high with 23 doubles. On April 14, 1969, he hit the first home run in a major league game played in Canada.

On April 14, 1969, Mack Jones hit the first home run in a major league game played in Canada. He hit 22 home runs for the Montreal Expos in that team’s inaugural season.

On April 14, 1969, Mack Jones hit the first home run in a major league game played in Canada. He hit 22 home runs for the Montreal Expos in that team’s inaugural season.

It would be his best season with Montreal. He hit .240 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs in 1970, and played 43 games with the Expos in 1971 before being released.

Jones retired at age 32 after 10 big league seasons. He had a career batting average of .252.

The Switch Is On

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 31, 1965) For the first time in major league history, an all-switch-hitting infield started a big league game.

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Wes Parker

In the nightcap of a twin bill, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the visiting Cincinnati Reds, 6-1. The Dodgers’ starting infield was made up entirely of switch-hitters, with Wes Parker at first base, Jim Lefebvre at second, Maury Wills at shortstop and Jim Gilliam at third.

The Dodgers infield hit for a combined .154 for the game, with two hits in 13 official at-bats. Gilliam doubled in the first inning and Wills singled in the ninth. Parker drove in the Dodgers’ only run with a sacrifice fly off Reds’ starter Joey Jay (3-1) in the ninth inning, scoring catcher Jeff Torborg.

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Jim Lefebvre

Jay pitched the complete game, giving up only three hits while striking out eight and walking no Dodgers.

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Maury Wills

Hitting stars for the Reds were catcher Jimmie Coker (a two-run double off Claude Osteen in the first inning), third baseman Deron Johnson (a pair of RBIs) and Frank Robinson, who hit a solo home run (his eighth of the season) off Osteen (3-6) in the fourth.

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Jim Gilliam

The 1965 season would be Robinson’s last in a Cincinnati uniform, despite finishing the year with a .296 batting average, 33 home runs and 113 RBIs. In 1966, he moved on to the Baltimore Orioles … and to the American League’s Triple Crown.

 

 

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Roger Can’t Dodge Destiny

 

Homer Happy: Roger Maris

If the biggest challenge in baseball (and maybe in all sports) is hitting the major league curve ball, then baseball’s second-biggest challenge — in the late 1950s and early 1960s — was breaking into the starting outfield of the New York Yankees.

From 1960 through 1962, Roger Maris averaged 44 home runs and 118 RBIs. He also scored 322 runs in that period, an average of 107 per season.

From 1960 through 1962, Roger Maris averaged 44 home runs and 118 RBIs. He also scored 322 runs in that period, an average of 107 per season.

The Yankees were deep in power-hitting outfielders, starting with Mickey Mantle in center field and whoever was flanking him on either side. That’s why talents such as Lee Thomas and Deron Johnson could not find enough at-bats until they moved on to other teams to establish their credentials as major league run producers.

In the late 1950s, the outfielders flanking Mantle were Hank Bauer and Norm Siebern. Bauer was looking at the end of his playing career and Siebern was at the beginning. Neither of them were on the Yankees’ roster in the 1960s. In December of 1959, both outfielders (along with pitcher Don Larsen and first baseman Marv Throneberry) were dealt to the Kansas City Athletics for Joe DeMaestri, Kent Hadley and an outfielder named Roger Maris.

In his three years in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians and the Athletics, Maris had batted .249 combined with an average of 19 home runs and 68 RBIs. In 1958, splitting his season between Cleveland and Kansas City, Maris hit 28 home runs with 80 RBIs. His power totals slipped to 16 home runs and 72 runs batted in 1959.

Upon his arrival in New York, Maris moved right into the Yankees’ starting outfield. Wedged into the middle of the Yankees’ lineup, Maris would be able to count on seeing better pitches. He would not have to fish for hits outside the strike zone. In 1960 he batted .283 (it would be his career-best batting average) with 39 home runs (second in the American League to Mantle) and 112 RBIs (second in the league to no one). He also won a Gold Glove and the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

Of course, 1961 was the season that Maris rocked major league baseball in particular and American culture in general by chasing and catching Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run record. He blasted 61 home runs with 141 RBIs and claimed his second consecutive MVP award. He also led the major leagues in runs (132) and total bases (366) in 1961. He was 26, and at the peak of his career.

His season in 1962 was outstanding statistically, but felt somewhat average after the two previous seasons. Maris batted .256 with 33 home runs and 100 RBIs. He was an All-Star for the fourth (and last) time. Injuries would hobble his performance and power numbers for the rest of his career, He would manage only 23 home runs for the Yankees in 1963 and 26 home runs in 1964. He would retire following the 1968 season, his second in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

For three seasons, from 1960 through 1962, only Mantle among American League players could approach Maris’ productivity. For those three seasons, Maris averaged 44 home runs and 118 RBIs. He also scored 322 runs in that period, an average of 107 runs per season.