Last of the Browns

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(April 5, 1966) – The Baltimore Orioles today announced the release of pitcher Don Larsen.

Larsen was the last active major leaguer to have played for the St. Louis Browns. As a rookie in 1953, he posted a 7-12 record for the hapless franchise which lost 100 games in its final season in St. Louis.

Pitcher Don Larsen was the last major leaguer to have played for the St. Louis Browns. He is also the last – in fact, the only – pitcher to throw a perfect game in the World Series.

The next season, the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. Larsen was 3-21 with a 4.37 ERA for the Orioles in 1954. He led the major leagues in losses that season.

Larsen was traded to the New York Yankees in 1955 and had his best seasons in New York. He was 9-2 as a starter and reliever for New York in 1955, and was 11-5 in that same role for the Yankees in 1956. He made two appearances in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning Game Five by the score of 2-0, pitching the only perfect game in World Series history.

Larsen compiled an 81-91 career record in 14 major league seasons with a career ERA of 3.78. He also pitched for the Kansas City Athletics, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros before returning to the Orioles in 1965, when he was 1-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 27 appearances. He made a three-game comeback with the Chicago Cubs in 1967.

Larsen finished his 14-year major league career with a record of 81-91 and a 3.78 ERA.

The Browns had been part of American League since 1902. The franchise started in 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers and moved to St. Louis after the American League’s initial season.

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Giant Versatility

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bob Bolin

Bobby Bolin’s 13-season career started in the bullpen, moved to the starting rotation, and veered back to relieving to close out his playing days. He was consistently effective in both roles.

Among San Francisco Giants pitchers, Bob Bolin was fourth in wins during the 1960s (behind Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Mike McCormick).

Among San Francisco Giants pitchers, Bob Bolin was fourth in wins during the 1960s (behind Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Mike McCormick).

Bolin was signed by the New York Giants in 1956. His rookie season with the San Francisco Giants was 1961, when he appeared in 37 games, all but one in relief. Bolin went 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA and five saves in his first big league season.

In 1962 Bolin was an important part of the bullpen for the National League champion Giants, a bullpen that included Stu Miller and Don Larsen. Bolin was 7-3 in 41 appearances with a 3.62 ERA, the best among San Francisco relievers. He saved five games.

Bolin won 73 games in nine seasons in San Francisco with a combined ERA of 3.26. His best season with the Giants was 1965, when he went 14-6 with a 2.76 ERA.

An 11-10 record in 1966 included four shutouts, the second highest total in the National League. His 1.99 ERA in 1968 was second lowest in the National League (to Bob Gibson‘s 1.12 earned run average).

In December of 1969 the Giants traded Bolin to the Milwaukee Brewers for Dick Simpson and Steve Whitaker. He was 5-11 in his only season in Milwaukee, and then was acquired by the Boston Red Sox, where he was 10-8 with a 3.28 ERA over four seasons. Following the 1973 season, Bolin retired with a career record of 88-75 with a 3.40 ERA.

 

 

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Quiet Production

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Norm Siebern

Tall, athletic and bespectacled, Norm Siebern was a solid hitter who “grew up” professionally in the New York Yankees organization and blossomed into an All-Star outfielder and first baseman with the Kansas City Athletics. The New York papers – and even Yankees manager Casey Stengel – occasionally made sport of his quiet demeanor, but there was no question about the quality of his production, at bat and in the field.

Norm Siebern’s best season came with the Kansas City Athletcs in 1962, batting .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Norm Siebern’s best season came with the Kansas City Athletcs in 1962, batting .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.

Siebern was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and, after two years in the minors and a military tour, Siebern made his debut with the Yankees in 1956, hitting .204 in 54 games. The well-stocked Yankees outfield left no room for Siebern, so he returned to the minors in 1957, hitting .349 for Denver in the American Association, with 45 doubles, 15 triples, 24 home runs and 118 RBIs. He was named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year for 1957.

That performance earned Siebern a permanent place on the Yankees roster in 1958, and he responded with 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .300 batting average. Siebern won the Gold Glove for his left field play, but ironically, it was pair of errors in the 1958 World Series that sent him to the bench for most of that Series.

Siebern hit .271 in 1959, and after the season was traded with Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Marv Throneberry to the Kansas City Athletics for Joe DeMaestri, Kent Hadley and Roger Maris. He hit .279 for the A’s in 1960 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs. His performance was overshadowed by the MVP season that Maris had for the Yankees.

Siebern’s hitting kept improving, especially as he spent more time at first base for the A’s. He batted .296 in 1961 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 98 RBIs. In 1962, Siebern hit .308 (fifth highest in the American League) with 25 doubles, 25 home runs and 117 RBIs (second in the AL to Harmon Killebrew‘s 126).

Norm Siebern had an outstanding rookie season for the New York Yankees in 1958, batting .300 and winning the Gold Glove in left field.

Norm Siebern had an outstanding rookie season for the New York Yankees in 1958, batting .300 and winning the Gold Glove in left field.

Siebern’s production fell off slightly in 1963, batting .272 with 16 home runs and 83 RBIs, and after that season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman Jim Gentile. He hit .245 for the Orioles in 1964 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs, and he led the majors with 106 walks. In 1965, the O’s, to make room for Curt Blefary and Paul Blair, moved Boog Powell from the outfield to first base, limiting Siebern’s playing time. After that season he was traded to the California Angels for Dick Simpson, whom the Orioles later packaged in the trade for Frank Robinson.

Siebern hit .247 in 1966, his only season with the Angels. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Len Gabrielson, and in July of 1967 was purchased by the Boston Red Sox. A part-time player for Boston, Siebern was released by the Red Sox in August of 1968 and retired.

Siebern finished his 12-season major league career with a .272 batting average. He had 1,217 hits and 132 home runs. He was an All-Star from 1962 through 1964.

He Brought His Heart to San Francisco

 

Swap Shop: How Billy Pierce Became a Giant … Who Saved a Pennant

In more than one way, Billy Pierce was the difference that got the San Francisco Giants into the 1962 World Series, and he accomplished this when he was generally considered washed up and a shell of what he had been a decade before.

In his prime during the 1950s, <a rel=

Billy Pierce was regarded by many as the best pitcher in the American League. In his prime during the 1950s, Billy Pierce was regarded by many as the best pitcher in the American League.

The glory years for Pierce came in the 1950s when, as the ace of the Chicago White Sox staff, he rivaled New York Yankees southpaw Whitey Ford for recognition as the best left-hander in the American League, if not the American League’s best pitcher, period.

Pierce was signed by the Detroit Tigers and traded to the White Sox in 1949. He was a combined 27-30 in his first two seasons with the White Sox, and then won 15 games in both 1951 and 1952, followed by an 18-12 campaign in 1953. After slipping to 9-10 in 1954, he won 15 games again in 1956 (while leading the major leagues with a 1.97 ERA) and was a 20-game winner for the White Sox in 1956 and in 1957. He led the league in complete games from 1956 through 1958, and overall posted a 186-152 record in 13 seasons with the White Sox.

In November of 1961, San Francisco sent Bob Farley, Eddie Fisher and Dom Zanni to the White Sox for Pierce and Don Larsen. It was one of the most important moves made by the Giants’ front office over that winter, as Pierce, who was 10-9 in his last season with Chicago, won his first eight decisions for the Giants. He moved to the bullpen through the heat of the summer, and returned to the starting rotation in August, winning five out of six decisions.

After going 10-9 in 1961, his final season with the White Sox, Billy Pierce was 16-6 for the Giants in 1962 – including a victory in the first game of the playoff with the Dodgers.

After going 10-9 in 1961, his final season with the White Sox, Billy Pierce was 16-6 for the Giants in 1962 – including a victory in the first game of the playoff with the Dodgers.

The 1962 National League regular season ended in a dead heat between the Giants and their West Coast rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Finishing the regular season at 15-6, Pierce was selected by Giants manager Al Dark to pitch the opener of the three-game playoff and responded with a three-hit, 8-0 shutout. Game Two in Los Angeles saw the Dodgers tie the playoffs with an 8-7 victory.

On October 3, 1962, the playoff and the pennant race came down to a single game. In the top of the third, an RBI single by Harvey Kuenn and a sacrifice fly by second baseman Chuck Hiller gave the Giants a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers scored one run against Juan Marichal in the fourth inning and took the lead in the sixth inning on Tommy Davis’ two-run homer.

In the seventh inning, the Dodgers went up 4-2. In the top of the ninth, the Giants scored four runs on only two hits, and led 6-4 with the Dodgers coming up for their last at-bats.

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On two days’ rest after pitching a three-hit shutout, Billy Pierce closed out the Dodgers in the ninth inning of the third playoff game, preserving a come-from-behind victory and the National League pennant.

In the bottom of the ninth, Dark turned again to Pierce to wrap up the game and the pennant. After shutting out the Dodgers just two days before, Pierce added one more scoreless inning to his playoff ledger, retiring the Dodgers in order to give the Giants their first National League pennant since 1954.

 

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