Man Mauls Mets … and Cardinals Soar

 

Lights Out: Stan Musial Demolishes New York Mets’ Pitching

When: July 8, 1962

Where:  Polo Grounds, New York, New York

Game Time: 2:47

Attendance: 12,460

When the National League’s oldest player came up against its youngest team, the result was devastating to the arms on the New York Mets’ pitching staff.

But it’s what Stan Musial had been doing to NL pitching staffs for more than two decades. In 1962, he was doing it in a way that reminded you of The Man in his prime.

At age 41, Stan Musial seemed to be rejuvenated in 1962. He finished third in the National League in hitting with a .330 batting average. He hit 19 home runs with 82 RBIs, and his .416 on-base percentage was second highest in the league.

He proved to be more Man than the Mets could handle.

The 1962 season would be the next-to-last in Musial’s 22-year major league career. He was a seven-time batting champion and three-time Most Valuable Player. He had more hits and runs batted in than any other National League hitter. And more home runs than any player who had never won a home run title.

Now 41, Musial was having his best season in the past five years. Coming into the July 8 game with the Mets, Musial was batting .325 with nine home runs and 37 runs batted in. Against the Mets’ woeful pitching, he was practically invincible. (Musial batted .443 against the Mets in 1962.) Today would be no exception.

Mets starter Jay Hook retired the first two Cardinals batters, then first baseman Bill White launched a solo home run to the right field seats. Musial followed with his tenth home run of the season to right.

After their first turn at bat, the Cardinals were up 2-0. It would turn out to be all the runs they would need, but not all they were going to get.

Cardinals starter Bob Gibson retired the Mets in the first two innings without allowing any runs. Then Gibson helped himself by hitting the team’s third solo home run to lead off the third inning. In his second plate appearance, Musial walked, and the Cardinals scored their fourth run when Ken Boyer singled, driving in Curt Flood.

Ah, pitching for the New York Mets in 1962 … Mets starter Jay Hook (6-9) was rocked for nine runs in four innings. But only four of those runs were earned.

Like so many Mets contests in their inaugural season, the game was lost early. But no one told Musial or the Cardinals. They scored five runs off Hook in the fourth inning – all unearned, and the last two coming from Musial’s eleventh home run. Musial hit his third home run of the game to lead off the seventh inning, this time off reliever Willard Hunter. Fred Whitfield, who replaced White at first in the fourth inning, hit a two-run homer off Bob Miller in the eighth inning. Musial came up with the bases empty and struck out … but the Mets still couldn’t retire him. On the third strike, the ball got by Chris Cannizzaro and Musial beat the throw to first. Bobby Smith ended Musial’s day, replacing The Man as the runner at first.

The Cardinals scored three more runs in the ninth, including Whitfield’s third RBI of the day. The Mets scored their lone run in the bottom of the ninth off Gibson, who pitched a three-hit complete game to earn his tenth win of the season.

On the day, Musial went three for four with four RBIs and scoring three runs. He raised his season’s batting average to .333, the highest among Cardinal regulars. He would end the 1962 season batting .330 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs, finishing third in the 1962 hitting race behind Tommy Davis (.346) and Frank Robinson (.342).

 

 

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Babe Ruth Minus 100 Pounds?

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 25, 1965) The Cleveland Indians today defeated the New York Yankees 5-1 in front of 4,925 fans at Yankee Stadium.

The winning pitcher was Sonny Siebert (5-2), who allowed three hits and one run in five innings of work. Siebert struck out seven Yankee batters.

Sam McDowell picked up his first save of the season by allowing three hits and no runs over the final four innings. McDowell struck out five.

The losing pitcher was Jim Bouton (3-5). Bouton allowed five hits, including home runs from Vic Davalillo and Fred Whitfield.

Vic Davalillo’s three-hit performance (including a pair of home runs and five RBIs) raised his league-leading batting average to .376.

Vic Davalillo’s three-hit performance (including a pair of home runs and five RBIs) raised his league-leading batting average to .376.

Davalillo was the game’s hitting star. Cleveland’s center fielder had three hits in four at-bats with a pair of home runs and four RBIs. He hit a solo home run off Bouton with two outs in the second inning.

In the sixth inning, with the game tied 1-1, Whitfield led off the inning with his seventh home run of the season. Bouton gave up a single to Leon Wagner and walked Max Alvis before Davalillo hit his second home run of the game to put the Tribe ahead 5-1.

Davalillo’s three-hit performance raised his league-leading batting average to .376.

Davalillo would finish the season with a .301 batting average (third highest in the American League). He was fourth in the league with 26 stolen bases and third with 127 singles.

Davalillo also finished his third major league season with five home runs … three more than Babe Ruth hit in his third season.

 

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Indians Bopper

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Fred Whitfield

Fred Whitfield was a power-hitting first baseman who had his best seasons with the Cleveland Indians in the early 1960s. Nicknamed “Wingy” for his less than powerful throwing arm, Whitfield combined with Tito Francona, Leon Wagner and Max Alvis to form the power connection at the heart of the Indians’ batting order.

In his nine-year career, Fred Whitfield batted .253 with 108 home runs and 356 RBIs.

In his nine-year career, Fred Whitfield batted .253 with 108 home runs and 356 RBIs.

Whitfield originally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1956. It took six minor league seasons for Whitfield to be promoted to the Cardinals’ roster, hitting .266 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 73 games with St. Louis in 1962. Following that rookie season, St. Louis traded Whitfield to Cleveland, where he had the chance to start at first base for the Tribe.

Whitfield hit .251 in 1963 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs, dividing the Indians’ first base duties with Joe Adcock. When Adcock was traded over the winter to the Los Angeles Angels for Wagner, it looked like the door was opened to Whitfield for full-time first base duty. But it wasn’t to be.

In 1964, the Indians inserted Bob Chance at first, and he delivered a .279 rookie season with 75 RBIs. With fewer at-bats, Whitfield’s offensive numbers dropped to 10 home runs and 29 RBIs while he hit .270. Chance turned out to be a one-season wonder, and Whitfield won back his starting position at first base, hitting .293 in 1965 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs. He followed up in 1966 with 27 home runs and 78 RBIs on a .241 batting average.

Fred Whitfield languished in the Cardinals organization before his 1962 trade to the Cleveland Indians. When he finally got the chance to play every day, he delivered for the Indians. In 1966, Whitfield batted .293 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs.

Fred Whitfield languished in the Cardinals organization before his 1962 trade to the Cleveland Indians. When he finally got the chance to play every day, he delivered for the Indians. In 1966, Whitfield batted .293 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs.

In 1967, the Indians acquired Tony Horton from the Boston Red Sox and again Whitfield was relegated to a back-up position, hitting only .218 with nine homers and 31 RBIs. In the off-season, Cleveland traded Whitfield with George Culver and Bob Raudman to the Cincinnati Reds for Tommy Harper. He saw limited action with the Reds over the next two seasons, hitting a combined .224 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. Whitfield appeared in four games with the Montreal Expos in 1970 before being released and retiring at age 32.

Whitfield finished his nine-season major league career with a .253 batting average. His 108 home runs during the 1960s ranks his 60th among major league sluggers.

 

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