The Glove Club: Bill Virdon
This Week in 1960s Baseball
(August 19, 1963) Known for his brute power rather than his speed on the base paths, Boston Red Sox first baseman Dick Stuart hit the second inside-the-park home run of his career today as the Cleveland Indians beat the Red Sox 8-3 in Fenway Park.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Lou Clinton
Outfielder Lou Clinton was an important bat in the Boston Red Sox lineup in the early 1960s. He was signed by the Red Sox in 1955 and made his major league debut in 1960, batting .228 as a rookie. He spent most of the 1961 season with Seattle in the Pacific Coast league, hitting .295 with 21 home runs and 102 RBIs. Continue reading
This Week in 1960s Baseball
In exchange for Stuart, the Phillies gave up left-handed starting pitcher Dennis Bennett (12-14).
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.
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.
This Week in 1960s Baseball …
(October 13, 1960) – Today at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski‘s dramatic bottom of the ninth inning home run off Yankee hurler Ralph Terry broke up a 9-9 tie and ended one of the most exciting seven-game World Series ever played.
It had been a World Series of improbabilities, played out as no one could have expected or predicted.
On the one hand you had the New York Yankees, the perennial October players, back in the World Series (their tenth appearance in the last 12 years) after a one-year absence. The Yankees earned their World Series berth by sprinting ahead of the rest of the American League in September, winning their last 15 games.
For the Pirates, it was their first World Series appearance since 1927.
In the first six games of the 1960 World Series, the Yankees were clearly the dominant team (outscoring the Pirates 46-17), but had only three victories to show for it. Whitey Ford pitched shutouts for the Yankees in Game Three and Game Six. Vern Law, the Pirates’ 20-game winner and the eventual Cy Young Award recipient that year, claimed two of the Pirates’ wins, while veteran left-hander Harvey Haddix posted one victory and a save.
Game Seven turned out to be one of the most exciting in World Series history.
Law retired the Yankees in order in the first two innings, while the Pirates scored 2 runs in each of the first two frames. The Yankees finally scored off Law in the fifth inning as Bill Skowron led off the inning with a solo home run to the right field seats. The Yankees scored four more runs in the sixth inning, off the Pirates’ ace reliever Roy Face, who gave up an RBI single to Mickey Mantle and then surrendered Yogi Berra’s three-run homer.
The game stayed 5-4 in favor of the Yankees until the top of the eighth inning, when back-to-back RBI hits by John Blanchard and Clete Boyer raised the Yankees’ lead to 7-4. But in the bottom of the eighth, the Pirates rallied for five runs – on singles by Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente and a three-run homer by Hal Smith – to take a 9-7 lead into the ninth inning.
Bob Friend, an 18-game winner during the regular season, came in to close out the ninth. But he gave up back-to-back singles to Bobby Richardson and Dale Long. So Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh brought in Haddix to pitch to Roger Maris, the American League MVP of 1960. Haddix got Maris to foul out, and then gave up an RBI single to Mantle. Berra grounded out to Rocky Nelson at first, scoring Gil McDougald (pinch running for Long). Skowron grounded out to end the inning with the score tied at nine.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mazeroski led off for the Pirates. On deck was Dick Stuart, the team’s leading home run hitter.
The Yankees’ pitcher was right-hander Terry, a 10-game winner for New York during the regular season. Terry had recorded the last out of the eighth inning, inducing third baseman Don Hoak to fly out. Hoak would be the last Pirate to make an out in the Series. Mazeroski took a strike on Terry’s first pitch, and sent the second one over the left field wall at Forbes Field for a 10-9 Pirate victory.
Mazeroski scores, Pittsburgh erupts.
It ended the 1960 World Series, and Casey Stengel’s career as New York Yankees manager.
It was the first walk-off home run in World Series history.
Career Year – Don Schwall (1961)
During a seven-year major league career, right-hander Don Schwall won 49 games with three different teams. He won 15 games, nearly a third of his major league total, in his rookie season of 1961.
The Boston Red Sox signed Schwall in 1958 off the campus of the University of Oklahoma. He soared like a rocket through the Red Sox minor league system. He was 23-6 in 1959 and jumped to AAA ball in 1960, going 16-9 with Minneapolis in the American Association. He started the 1961 season with Seattle in the Pacific Coast League, and in five starts he was 3-1 with a 3.60 earned run average.
At that point, he was called up to Boston, where he made his debut on May 21, 1961, starting and winning the second game of a double header with the Chicago White Sox. Schwall went eight innings in the 4-1 win, allowing six hits and one earned run, striking out four White Sox batters.
Schwall won his first five starts with the Red Sox, and was 6-1 when he was named to the American League All-Star team. In July he went 5-1 for a record of 11-2 going into August. He finished his rookie season at 15-7 with a 3.22 ERA and 10 complete games in 25 starts. Schwall pitched two shutouts and recorded 91 strikeouts in 178.2 innings. He was selected as the America League Rookie of the Year for 1961 (beating out Dick Howser and Floyd Robinson), and finished fourteenth in the balloting for Most Valuable Player.
While many were dusting off a place in Cooperstown for Schwall, he wouldn’t have another season that would come close to approaching his performance in 1961. He slipped to 9-15 in 1962 with a 4.94 ERA, and was traded with Jim Pagliaroni to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jack Lamabe and Dick Stuart. In three seasons with the Pirates, his best performance came in 1965 when he went 9-6 with a 2.92 ERA. He was 6-5 for the Pirates and the Atlanta Braves in 1966, and faced just two batters before being released by the Braves in 1967. He finished his seven-season major league career with a 49-48 record and a 3.72 ERA.
Homer Happy: Dick Stuart
Dick Stuart was notorious for being the worst first baseman of his era … maybe anybody’s era. He set error records that have never been matched.
He was the perfect candidate for the designated hitter role, except he retired as an active player four years before the DH was adopted by the American League in 1973.
He would have been a good DH, because Stuart could hit with power. Managers put up with his deficiencies in the field for nearly a decade because, in his prime, his bat was so lethal.
Stuart was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1951 and set home run records at nearly every stop as he made his way through the Pirates’ minor league system. He hit 31 home runs in 1952, his first full season of professional baseball, then spent 2 years in military service. Stuart came back in 1955 to blast 32 home runs, then walloped Western League pitching for 66 home runs in 1966. He hit 45 home runs for three different minor league teams in 1956, and then spent all of the 1957 season in Triple-A ball, hitting “only” 31 home runs with 82 runs batted in.
Stuart was ready for major league pitching.
He made his debut with the Pirates in 1958, hitting .268 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in only 267 at-bats. He hit 27 home runs in 1959, and during the Pirates’ pennant-winning season of 1960, Stuart launched only 23 home runs but drove in 83 runs.
Stuart had a beast of a year for the Pirates in 1961, hitting 35 home runs with 117 RBIs while batting .301. His power numbers slipped to 16 home runs and 64 RBIs in 1962, and over the winter he was traded with Jack Lamabe to the Boston Red Sox for Jim Pagliaroni and Don Schwall.
Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field was a large ballpark not especially conducive to producing home runs, which made Stuart’s power displays with the Pirates all the more impressive. On the other hand, Boston’s Fenway Park was made for right-handed power hitters, and Stuart’s hitting flourished in a Red Sox uniform. In 1963, he hit 42 home runs (second in the American League to Harmon Killebrew’s 45) and led the league with 118 runs batted in. He was the first player to hit 30 or more home runs in both major leagues.
Stuart followed up in 1964 with 33 homers (and 114 RBIs), but his career was beginning its decline. He was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Dennis Bennett, and hit 28 home runs with 95 RBIs for the Phillies in 1965. It was his last season as an everyday player. Stuart played for the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966, hitting a combined seven home runs with 22 RBIs. After 2 seasons in the minors and a brief comeback with the California Angels in 1969, Stuart retired with a career batting average of .264 and 228 home runs.