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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Glancing Back, and Remembering Roy McMillan

For nearly the entire 1950s, Roy McMillan was the everyday shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, and one of the best-fielding shortstops in all of organized baseball during his prime.

McMillan was signed by the Reds in 1947 and made his way to the big league roster in 1951, hitting .211 in 81 games that season. He hit .244 as the Reds’ starting shortstop in 1952, and held that position in the Reds’ infield through the 1960 season.

Roy McMillan --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Shortstop Roy McMillan was an All-Star in 1956 and 1957. He won three consecutive Gold Gloves in the 1950s.

McMillan was named to the National League All-Star team in 1956, when he hit .263 for the season with a career-high 62 RBIs. He followed up with another All-Star season in 1957, batting .272 with 25 doubles and 55 RBIs. He also won the first of three consecutive Gold Gloves in 1957.

In 10 seasons with the Reds, McMillan hit a combined .243. Following the 1960 season, the Reds traded the 30-year-old shortstop to the Milwaukee Braves for pitchers Joey Jay and Juan Pizarro. In three-plus seasons with the Braves, McMillan batted .237.

After 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Roy McMillan spent the 1960s playing first for the Milwaukee Braves and then the New York Mets.

After 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Roy McMillan spent the 1960s playing first for the Milwaukee Braves and then the New York Mets.

In May of 1964, the Braves dealt McMillan to the New York Mets for pitcher Jay Hook. He batted .242 for the Mets in 1965 with 19 doubles and 42 RBIs as the team’s starting shortstop. He lasted one more season with the Mets, batting .214 in 1966, and retired after the end of the season.

In 16 years in the major leagues, McMillan batted .243 with 1,639 hits.