Warren and Christy … Together at Last

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 8, 1963) Pitching a nine-hit complete game, Warren Spahn raised his season record to 20-5 as the Milwaukee Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

It was the thirteenth time in his career that Spahn won 20 or more games. That tied him with Christy Mathewson for the most 20-vistory seasons in the major leagues.

The 1963 season was the thirteenth 20-victory season in the career of Warren Spahn. It was the seventh straight season when Spahn led the National League in complete games.

The 1963 season was the thirteenth 20-victory season in the career of Warren Spahn. It was the seventh straight season when Spahn led the National League in complete games.

For the 42-year-old Spahn, it was his nineteenth complete game of the 1963 season. He would finish the season with 22 complete games, the most in the majors. Spahn recorded no strikeouts or walks during the game.

The Braves scored in the first inning when lead-off batter Lee Maye singled and advanced to second on an error by Phillies starter Dallas Green. Frank Bolling sacrificed Maye to third, and Maye scored on Hank Aaron’s groundout to Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor. It was Aaron’s 117th RBI of the season.

The Braves’ lead held up as Spahn pitched a shutout through six innings. Tony Gonzalez led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a triple and scored on a Roy Sievers sacrifice fly.

In the eighth inning, Green walked Eddie Mathews, who scored on Gene Oliver’s sixteenth home run. Spahn pitched a scoreless eighth inning and allowed a solo home run by Don Demeter in the ninth. Don Hoak doubled to put the potential tying run in scoring position, but Spahn retired Bob Oldis and Wes Covington to end the game.

The losing pitcher was Green (5-4).

Shown in an undated photo is Christy Christy Mathewson was the first major league pitcher to win 20 or more games 13 times. (Warren Spahn was the second.) Mathewson finished his career with 373 victories, third most in major league history (tied with Grover Cleveland Alexander) and 10 more than Spahn.

Christy Mathewson was the first major league pitcher to win 20 or more games 13 times. (Warren Spahn was the second.) Mathewson finished his career with 373 victories, third most in major league history (tied with Grover Cleveland Alexander) and 10 more than Spahn.

Spahn’s 1963 season was one of the best of his career, as he finished the season at 23-7 with a 2.60 earned run average. It was also his seventh straight season leading the National League in complete games, and he pitched seven shutouts, tying his season high and the second most in the league (behind 11 Sandy Koufax shutouts).

Though he tied Mathewson for most 20-win seasons, Spahn fell short of matching Mathewson’s 373 career wins. Spahn retired after the 1965 season with 363 victories, the most by any left-hander in baseball history.

A Fox in the ‘Pen

 

Oh, What a Relief: Terry Fox

Terry Fox came to the Detroit Tigers in 1960 in a multi-player trade that sent Dick Brown, Bill Bruton and Chuck Cottier to Detroit in exchange for Frank Bolling and Neil Chrisley (named later) going to the Milwaukee Braves.

Terry Fox was third in the American League with 16 saves. He was 3-1 that season with a 1.71 ERA.

Terry Fox was third in the American League with 16 saves in 1962. He was 3-1 that season with a 1.71 ERA.

Fox turned out to be the “steal” in the deal. Over the next five seasons, he developed into a consistently effective reliever for the Tigers, a bullpen ace who posted winning records in each of those seasons and led the team in saves four out of those five years.

Fox was acquired by the Braves some time before 1956 and toiled in their farm system for four years before making his major league debut in 1959. He pitched in five games with no decisions and a 4.52 earned run average in his rookie season.

In 1960, his first season in Detroit, Fox went 5-2 in 39 appearances, with a 1.41 ERA and 12 saves. In 1962 he went 3-1 in 44 games, with 16 saves (third in the American League) and a 1.71 ERA.

In 1963, Fox led the Tigers in pitching appearances (46) and saves (11), while his 8-6 record made him fourth on the team in wins. In 1964, he became the “forgotten” man in the Tigers’ bullpen with only 32 appearances as Larry Sherry and Fred Gladding took over as the team’s closers. Fox went 4-3 with a 3.39 ERA and only five saves in 1964. He was 6-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 1965, again leading the team with 10 saves.

After making four appearances at the start of the 1966 season, Fox was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched for one season in Philadelphia, going 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA and four saves.

He retired after the 1966 season with a career record of 29-19 with a 2.99 career ERA. He appeared in 248 games in a 7-year major league career, closing 145 games with 59 saves.

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Sly Fox

 

The Glove Club: Nellie Fox

No player of his era could out-hustle Hall of Fame second baseman Nellie Fox. Or out-compete him. That was true in the batter’s box or in the field, where Fox established himself over a decade as a workhorse firebrand with a glove of gold.

Nellie Fox won three of the first four Gold Gloves awarded to second basemen, starting in 1957.

Nellie Fox won three of the first four Gold Gloves awarded to second basemen, starting in 1957.

Nellie Fox signed with the Philadelphia Athletics as a 16-year-old, 5-foot 6-inch first baseman, but was moved immediately to second base, where his size and agility eventually made him one of the American League’s best. After four seasons in the minor leagues and three seasons with the A’s, where he played a total of 98 games, Fox was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1949 and was the team’s starting second baseman by season’s end, hitting .247. Over the next 13 seasons, Fox would hit for a combined .294 average, batting .300 or better six times. His best season at the plate would come in 1959, when he batted .306 with 71 RBIs. That season he was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in leading the White Sox to their first pennant in 40 years.

Fox was the toughest strikeout in baseball. He never struck out more than 18 times in any season, and led the league 12 times in at-bats-to-strikeouts ratio.

From 1952 to 1962, Fox played in an average of 155 games per season. That kind of durability is especially impressive when you consider that the American League regular season was 154 games until 1961. So it is not surprising that Fox was consistently at the top in fielding chances and outs. He led the league in assists six times and was among the top three in that category every season from 1951 to 1961. He led the league in putouts every year from 1952-1961. He was first in fielding percentage six times and the leader among second basemen in double plays five times.

Nellie Fox was the America League Most Valuable Player in 1959.

Nellie Fox was the America League Most Valuable Player in 1959.

When the major leagues initiated the Gold Glove award in 1957, it was natural that the first one would go to Fox. After Frank Bolling won the award in 1958, Fox repeated as the Gold Glove winner in 1959 and 1960.

Following the 1963 season, Fox was traded to the Houston Colt .45s and played one full season in the National League before retiring in the midst of the 1965 season. Fox was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

40 and Un-Hittable

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(April 28, 1961) – The Milwaukee Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 1-0 today on a no-hitter by left-hander Warren Spahn.

At age 40, Warren Spahn pitched his second career no-hitter, beating the San Francisco Giants 1-0.

At age 40, Warren Spahn pitched his second career no-hitter, beating the San Francisco Giants 1-0.

Five days past his fortieth birthday, Spahn became the second-oldest pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter. Cy Young was 41 years and three months old when he threw his third no-hitter in 1908.

Spahn (2-1) struck out five Giants batters and walked two. It was his second career no-hitter. He pitched his first no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960.

The Braves managed only five hits against Giants starter Sam Jones (2-1). The game’s only run was scored in the bottom of the first inning when Hank Aaron singled to right field, scoring Frank Bolling.

Warren Spahn won 21 games in 1961 and finished the season with 21 complete games, leading the league in complete games for the fifth consecutive season.

Warren Spahn won 21 games in 1961 and finished the season with 21 complete games, leading the league in complete games for the fifth consecutive season.

Spahn would finish the 1961 season at 21-13 with a 3.02 ERA. He would lead the National League in complete games (21) and shutouts (4).

Young would remain the oldest pitcher to toss a no-hitter until 1991, when Nolan Ryan threw his seventh career no-hitter at age 44.

How Billy Bru Moved to Motown

 

Swap Shop: Bill Bruton for Frank Bolling

He was coming off the best overall season of his eight-year career. Then on December 7, 1960, Bill Bruton learned that he was no longer a member of the Milwaukee Braves, as he had been for his entire major league career.

Bill Bruton was solid at the plate and in the field. In 1961, his first season with the Detroit Tigers, he hit 17 home runs with 63 RBIs and led the America League in outfield putouts.

Bill Bruton was solid at the plate and in the field. In 1961, his first season with the Detroit Tigers, he hit 17 home runs with 63 RBIs and led the America League in outfield putouts.

The Detroit Tigers acquired Bruton in a trade that sent Gold Glove second baseman Frank Bolling to the Braves. Bolling was considered one of the best all-around second basemen in the American League, hitting .261 in six seasons with Detroit while averaging 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 52 RBIs per season. He won the Gold Glove in 1958, when he led all American League second sackers in fielding percentage.

The Braves finished second to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960, their second-straight runner-up finish after winning the National League pennant the previous two seasons. The Braves’ perennial All-Star second baseman, Red Schoendienst, was injured for most of 1959 and split time at second in 1960 with Chuck Cottier, a good defensive player with little pop in his bat. The Braves were looking to fill the hole at second base, and wanted the 29-year-old Bolling. They paid plenty to get him.

Bruton was the key player in the trade for the Tigers. He finished the 1960 season batting .286 with 27 doubles, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs. He stole 22 bases, his best total since 1955, and led the National League with 13 triples. The deal for Bolling also included Cottier, catcher Dick Brown and relief pitcher Terry Fox.

In Frank Bolling, the Milwaukee Braves acquired an All-Star second baseman who provided outstanding defense.

In Frank Bolling, the Milwaukee Braves acquired an All-Star second baseman who provided outstanding defense.

The deal was productive for both teams. Bruton played solid center field for the Tigers, flanked by sluggers Rocky Colavito in left field and Gold Glove winner Al Kaline in right. Bruton led all American league center fielders in putouts in 1961.

Bruton batted .257 in 1961 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs. He again stole 22 bases, sixth best in the American League. He followed up with another fine season in 1962, batting .278 with 16 home runs and a career-best 74 runs batted in. Bruton finished his major league career with Detroit, hitting a combined .266 in four seasons.

Bolling had All-Star seasons for the Braves in 1961 and 1962. He batted .262 in 1961 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs. He finished second in the league in putouts and double plays, and led all National League second basemen with a .988 fielding percentage. His .989 fielding percentage was best in the NL again in 1962, when Bolling batted .271 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs.

With both Bruton and Bolling performing as expected for their new teams, the “wild card” in the deal turned out to be reliever Terry Fox. The right-hander pitched six seasons for the Tigers, going 26-17 in 207 appearances, with a 2.77 ERA and 55 saves.

 

 

 

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Bru-ing with Speed

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bill Bruton

Bill Bruton’s stock in trade was his speed. A 12-year major league veteran, Bruton delivered lead-off speed and defensive reliability for the Milwaukee Braves and Detroit Tigers, providing the run-scoring complement to the powerful bats that followed him in both teams’ lineups.

Bill Bruton

Bill Bruton

Bruton was signed by the Boston Braves in 1950 and by 1953 was the Braves’ starting center fielder. He hit .250 his rookie year and led the National League in stolen bases, something he would do in each of his first three seasons.

Bruton hit .284 in 1954 and in 1955 scored 106 runs while batting .275. In seven seasons with the Braves from 1953 through 1959, Bruton batted .274 while averaging 20 doubles and 74 runs scored per season.

Bruton’s best season with the Braves came in 1960, when he batted .286 with 12 home runs and 54 runs batted in. He also hit 27 doubles and led the National League with 13 triples and 112 runs scored. Following that season, he was traded with Dick Brown, Chuck Cottier and Terry Fox to the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named later (Neil Christy) and All-Star second baseman Frank Bolling.

In Detroit, Bruton provided the perfect speed and run-scoring complement to a lineup that included the powerful bats of Al Kaline, Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito. He batted .257 in 1961 while scoring 99 runs. He also hit 17 home runs with 63 RBIs. His offensive numbers got even better in 1962, batting .278 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs while scoring 90 runs. He added another solid season in 1963, batting .256 while scoring 84 runs. Bruton played one more season in Detroit, batting .277, and then retired at the age of 38.

In his 12 major league seasons, Bruton had 1,651 hits and a career batting average of .273.

 

 

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