Giant Behind the Plate

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ed Bailey

Ed Bailey was a solid defensive catcher who was also dangerous with a bat in his hands. He lasted 14 years in the major leagues, playing for five different teams. Continue reading

Reds Rookie Debut Nets 2 For 2

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 10, 1963) A highlight of today’s Cincinnati RedsChicago White Sox spring exhibition game was the two-hit debut of an unheralded rookie second baseman.

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Pete Rose got a pair of hits in his Reds debut during spring training in 1963.

Pete Rose went into the game as a last-minute replacement for an injured Don Blasingame, the Reds starting second baseman. Rose went two for two in his first appearance against big league pitching.

It was a fitting debut for the man who would retire 21 seasons later as the most prolific batsman in major league history with 4,256 hits.

By the end of spring training, Rose would win the starting job at second. By the end of the 1963 season, Rose would be named National League Rookie of the Year.

 

 

 

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Speed Meets Hustle

 

The Glove Club: Don Blasingame

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, Don Blasingame was one of the better all-around second basemen in the major leagues. A .258 career line-drive hitter, Blasingame brought a variety of skills to his game, including solid defense at second base and speed that he put to use with plenty of everyday smarts and hustle.

Don Blasingame started his major league career with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .261 as a rookie in 1956.

Blasingame was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953 and made his first big league appearance two years later. He was the Cardinals’ starting second baseman in his 1956 rookie season, hitting .261. In 1957 he led the major leagues with 650 at-bats and hit .271 with 58 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. He finished twelfth in the Most Valuable Player voting for 1957.

Blasingame was named to the National League All-Star team in 1958, when he hit .274 for the season with 10 triples. In 1959 he raised his batting average to a career-high .289 while also racking up a career-best 26 doubles.

In December of 1959, Blasingame was traded by the Cardinals to the San Francisco Giants for Daryl Spencer and Leon Wagner. In his only full season with the Giants, Blasingame hit .235. Three games into the 1961 season, the Cincinnati Reds dealt catcher Ed Bailey to the Giants to acquire Blasingame, who became the team’s starting second baseman immediately and formed one of the game’s best keystone combinations with shortstop Eddie Kasko. Blasingame hit only .222 for the Reds in their pennant-winning 1961 season, but he bounced back to hit .281 in 1962.

Don Blasingame was the everyday second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds in 1961-1962. He batted .281 in 1962, but was replaced at second the next spring by Pete Rose.

Don Blasingame was the everyday second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds in 1961-1962. He batted .281 in 1962, but was replaced at second the next spring by Pete Rose.

At the start of the 1963 season, Blasingame had been replaced by a rookie second baseman named Pete Rose. The Washington Senators purchased Blasingame in July of 1963 and he played for the Senators for three seasons before being purchased in 1966 by the Kansas City Athletics. Released by the A’s following the 1966 season, Blasingame extended his baseball career in Japan, both as a player and later as a coach and manager.

 

 

 

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A Trio of Triples

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 15, 1960) – Talk about your triple threat …

In a game today at Connie Mack Stadium, San Francisco Giants center fielder Willie Mays tied a major league record by getting three triples in a single game.

Willie Mays tied a major league record by getting three triples in a single game.

Willie Mays tied a major league record by getting three triples in a single game.

The Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 in 11 innings.

The Giants scored the eventual winning run in the top of the eleventh inning. Second baseman Don Blasingame walked to lead off the inning, and then scored on Mays’ third triple. Two batters later, Mays scored on a Willie McCovey sacrifice fly.

Mays finished the game with five hits in six at-bats. He had two RBIs, giving him 96 for the season. Mays raised his triples on the season to 11.

The hitting star for the Phillies was second baseman Bobby Malkmus, who hit a grand slam home run off Giants starter Sam Jones in the sixth inning.

The winning pitcher was Johnny Antonelli (6-7), who pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in relief of Jones. Antonelli allowed two hits and four walks while striking out six Phillies batters.

The losing pitcher was Dick “Turk” Farrell (9-6).

Mays would hit one more triple during the 1960 season to give him a total of 12, second in the National League to Bill Bruton of the Milwaukee Braves, who had 13.

Mays would lead the National League with 190 hits in 1960.

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