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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Sammy Puts the Whammy on the National League

 

Career Year: Sammy Ellis – 1965

In the early 1960s, right-hander Sammy Ellis had one of the most promising pitching arms in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Signed by the Reds prior to the 1961 season, Ellis won 10 games (with a 1.89 ERA) in the Sally League in his first professional season, and then won 12 games at the AAA level in each of the next two seasons.

As a rookie in 1964, Sammy Ellis was the Cincinnati Reds most effective closer, with ten victories and 14 saves.

Ellis was outstanding in 1964, his rookie season. He and Billy McCool formed the rookie bullpen tandem for a Reds team that finished second to the St. Louis Cardinals. Ellis led the team with 52 appearances and 14 saves. He was 10-3 with a 2.57 ERA. He struck out 125 batters in 122.1 innings.  And he finished sixteenth in the voting for Most Valuable Player (won that season by Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer).

It’s more common than not for an outstanding rookie season to be followed by a less-than-stellar campaign. But not in the case of Sammy Ellis.  His 1964 season positioned him as one of the National League’s best relief pitchers. The follow-up 1965 season would establish him as one of the circuit’s best pitchers – period – at least for one year.

Ellis moved out of the bullpen, and opened the season in the Reds’ starting rotation. And he started fast, winning his first four starts and seven of his first nine. In June, he was 5-1 with four complete games. On June 25, he beat the Milwaukee Braves 3-1 with an 11-inning complete game, striking out 10. Four days later, Ellis pitched 14 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing only four hits and striking out 10 batters. The Pirates won 2-1 in the bottom of the sixteenth inning on Roberto Clemente’s RBI single off McCool.

Ellis barreled through July and August, piling up innings and wins. At the end of August, he was 17-8 with a 3.70 ERA and 12 complete games. He made nine starts (with one relief appearance) in September, going 5-2.

Sammy Ellis was an All-Star in 1965, when he was 22-10 with a 3.79 ERA. In 39 starts, Ellis pitched two shutouts and 15 complete games.

For the entire 1965 season, Elis was 22-10 with a 3.79 ERA. His 263.2 and 183 strikeouts were both tenth in the league. His 22 wins were fourth most in the National League, and his 15 complete games were sixth most. He led National League pitchers in only one category: Ellis allowed a league-high 111 earned runs.

It would be not only the best season in the seven-year major league career of Sammy Ellis, but the last when he would post a winning record. Plagued by shoulder miseries, his record slipped to 12-19 in 1966, and in 1967 he was 8-11. After going 9-10 for the California Angels in 1968, Ellis started the 1969 season with the Chicago White Sox. He was 0-3 in five starts before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Jack Hamilton.

The Indians assigned Ellis to the AAA Portland Beavers. He never made it back to the big leagues as a player. But he continued in baseball for the next three decades as a minor league pitching instructor and as pitching coach for the Yankees, White Sox, Cubs and Reds, among others.

 

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Johnny, Take Us Home!

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 7, 1964) The National League today won the All-Star game 7-4 on a walk-off home run by Phillies right fielder Johnny Callison.

Johnny Callison’s three-run homer off Dick Radatz was the game winner for the National League All-Stars.

Johnny Callison’s three-run homer off Dick Radatz was the game winner for the National League All-Stars.

Callison, who entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jim Bunning, flied out in his two previous at-bats. His ninth-inning home run off Boston Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz was his only hit of the day.

The American League opened the scoring in the first inning on Harmon Killebrew’s RBI single off NL starter Don Drysdale. The NL took the lead in the fourth inning on solo home runs from Billy Williams and Ken Boyer. The Nationals added another run in the fifth inning when Dick Groat doubled off Camilo Pascual, bringing home Roberto Clemente.

The American League tied the game when Brooks Robinson tripled home two runs in the sixth inning, then took the lead on Jim Fregosi’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The AL led 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, with Radatz on the pitching mound.

Juan Marichal pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the victory. Marichal was also the winning pitcher in the first 1962 All-Star Game, and had a career ERA of 0.50 in eight All-Star apearances.

Juan Marichal pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the victory. Marichal was also the winning pitcher in the first 1962 All-Star Game, and had a career ERA of 0.50 in eight All-Star appearances.

Willie Mays walked to open the ninth inning, stole second base, and then scored on Orlando Cepeda’s single, tying the game. With runners at first and second base, Radatz struck out Hank Aaron for the inning’s second out. But Callison ended the All-Star thriller with one stroke.

It would be Callison’s last All-Star appearance.

Half of Cardinals’ Infield Disappears

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(October 27, 1965) The St. Louis Cardinals today traded two of their mainstays, sending first baseman Bill White and shortstop Dick Groat to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Alex Johnson, pitcher Art Mahaffey and catcher Pat Corrales. St. Louis also threw in catcher Bob Uecker.

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(Left to right) Dick Groat, Bill White and Bob Uecker went to the Philadelphia Phillies in a 1965 trade that broke up the St. Louis Cardinals’ All-Star infield.

Only a year earlier, this was the Cardinals infield that led the team to its first World Series championship since 1946.

The Cardinals traded for White prior to the 1959 season. He hit a combined .299 during his seven seasons in St. Louis, averaging 20 home runs and 90 RBIs per season. As a member of the Cardinals, White was named to the All-Star team five times and won six Gold Gloves. (He would claim his seventh Gold Glove in his first season with the Phillies.)

Groat was acquired by the Cardinals prior to the 1963 season in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Don Cardwell and Julio Gotay. The National League batting champion and Most Valuable Player in 1960, Groat brought a solid glove and bat to the Cardinals, hitting a combined .289 during his three years with the Cardinals and leading the National League in doubles with 43 in 1963.

(Left to right) Pitcher Art Mahaffey, outfielder Alex Johnson and catcher Pat Corrales went to St. Louis in the deal that brought Dick Groat and Bill White to Philadelphia.

The trade not only eliminated half of the Cardinals’ starting infield, but also broke up what had been the starting infield for the National League in the 1963 All-Star game. The NL’s All-Star starters that season included third baseman Ken Boyer and second baseman Julian Javier as well as Groat and White.

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Boyer’s Slam Downs Downing

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(October 11, 1964) In Game Four of the World Series, Ken Boyer‘s sixth inning grand slam off Yankee starter Al Downing gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees. The St. Louis third baseman is the second National Leaguer to hit a post-season bases-loaded round-tripper.

The Cardinals’ victory tied the Series at two games apiece.

Ken Boyer’s grand slam home run off Al Downing was the game winner as the St. Louis Cardinals took Game Four of the 1964 World Series 4-3.

Ken Boyer’s grand slam home run off Al Downing was the game winner as the St. Louis Cardinals took Game Four of the 1964 World Series 4-3.

Boyer, who would be named the National League MVP for the 1964 season, got only one hit in the game, but it was the one that counted. Downing, the Yankee left-hander who went 13-8 during the regular season and led the American League with 217 strikeouts, had shut out the Cardinals over the first five innings, allowing only one hit.

The Cardinals loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Carl Warwick and Curt Flood, and an error by second baseman Bobby Richardson that allowed Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat to reach base safely. Boyer, the National League RBI champion for 1964, promptly launched a Downing fastball deep into the left field seats, putting the Cardinals ahead for good.

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Boyer wasn’t the only hero for the Cardinals that day. Cardinals starter Ray Sadecki lasted only a third of an inning, allowing four consecutive hits and two runs before being replaced by Roger Craig. Craig was the Cardinals’ pitching star that day, allowing a third run on an Elston Howard single (run charged to Sadecki) before shutting down the Yankees’ bats, pitching 4.2 scoreless innings and striking out eight batters.

Craig was the pitcher of record when Boyer hit the game-winning home run. Ron Taylor shut out the Yankees over the final four innings for the save.

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Tommy Guns Down Gibby

 

Lights Out – Tommy Davis’ game-ending home run beats Bob Gibson 1-0.

When: June 18, 1962

Where:  Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California

Game Time: 2:18

Attendance: 33,477

 

Tommy Davis had a “dream” season in 1962.

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Sandy Koufax (10-2) pitched a five-hit shutout, striking out nine Cardinals.

Coming into that campaign, he was a .277 career hitter who never drove in more than 58 runs in a season. All he did in 1962 was lead the major leagues in hits (230), RBIs (153 – still the Dodger franchise record) and batting average (.346). He also had a career-best 27 home runs and struck out only 65 times in 711 plate appearances.

One season transformed Tommy Davis from unknown part-time player to one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. And though he would repeat as National League batting champion in 1963 and collect over 2,000 hits in an 18-year major league career, he would never again approach his hitting productivity of 1962.

Especially, hitting in the clutch.

The game between St. Louis and Los Angeles on June 18, 1962 was a showcase for emerging stars … starting with the starting pitchers. On the mound for the Dodgers was Sandy Koufax, who was beginning to demonstrate the overpowering dominance that was to carry him through the 1962 season. Koufax entered the game at 9-2 with a 2.86 ERA and a league-leading 137 strikeouts in only 116.1 innings. The Cardinals’ starter was Bob Gibson, 8-4 coming into the game with a 3.17 ERA, though opponents’ batting average against Gibson was only .198 up to this game. After the game, that average would not climb much higher.

Bob Gibson (8-5) allowed the Dodgers only three hits, but the last one was a Tommy Davis walk-off.

Bob Gibson (8-5) allowed the Dodgers only three hits, but the last one was a Tommy Davis walk-off.

During his career, Davis struggled against Gibson (an affliction shared by many National League batters), hitting only .167. And in this game Davis would only go one for four, striking out twice. But as so often happened during his magical 1962 season, Davis made that one hit count.

Through the first eight innings, Koufax and Gibson were locked in a scoreless duel. Koufax had allowed only four hits, Gibson only two. In the top of the ninth, Koufax got two outs before Ken Boyer singled to left. Now a pair of future Hall of Famers faced each other as Stan Musial stepped into the batter’s box. But Musial had no opportunity to advance Boyer, who was caught trying to steal second, ending the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gibson got Ron Fairly out on a soft fly to second baseman Julian Javier. Davis was the next batter, and the game’s last, as he sent a line drive into the left field seats for a 1-0 Dodgers victory.

It was the first shutout for Koufax in 1962. He would pitch only one more in that injury-shortened season that would result in the first of his five consecutive ERA crowns (with 2.54).

For Gibson – who eventually led the league in shutouts with five in 1962 – it was another tough loss in what would be a 15-13 season with a 2.85 ERA.

And for Tommy Davis, his walk-off blast marked the third time that one of his home runs gave Koufax a 1-0 victory.

 

 

 

 

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Did Hank Really Hit 756?

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(August 18, 1965)  The Milwaukee Braves won their sixth straight game with a 5-3 victory in St. Louis over the Cardinals.

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Hank Aaron’s 28th home run of the 1965 season turned out to be a mirage. Aaron’s blast off Curt Simmons was disallowed when he was called out for being out of the batter’s box.

The Braves scored the winning runs in the ninth inning off Cardinals reliever Ray Washburn (8-9). A two-out, two-run, pinch homer by Don Dillard was the difference for the league-leading Braves.

It was the third home run of the game for the Braves, although only two counted. Outfielder Mack Jones hit home run number 24 on the season off Cardinals starter Curt Simmons in the sixth inning. That blast put the Braves on top 3-2. The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI-single by Ken Boyer.

An eighth-inning home run by Hank Aaron was the one that didn’t count. With one out, Aaron took Simmons long, hitting the ball on top of the pavilion at Sportman’s Park. However, home plate umpire Chris Pelekoudas called Aaron out for being out of the batter’s box.

Hank Aaron’s 28th home run of the 1965 season turned out to be a mirage. Aaron’s blast off Curt Simmons was disallowed when he was called out for being out of the batter’s box.

Braves starter Tony Cloninger stopped the Cardinals on six hits and was backed by three Braves home runs … two of which actually counted.

The winning pitcher for the Braves was Tony Cloninger (18-8), who went the distance, giving up six hits and striking out nine Cardinals. Cloninger finished the 1965 season at 24-11, his best year in the majors.

It was the Braves’ last season in Milwaukee, and the victory put their record at 69-49, a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They faded after that, going 17-27 over the rest of the season to finish in fifth place.

Aaron, finished his career as the major leagues’ all-time home run leader with 755. At least those were the ones that counted.

Silent Anchor in a Sea of Stars

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Julian Javier

From 1964 through 1968, no National League team was more dominant than the St. Louis Cardinals. No team had more stars at more positions.

Julian Javier spent 12 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman, batting .258 and scoring an average of 60 runs per season.

Julian Javier spent 12 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman, batting .258 and scoring an average of 60 runs per season.

In the midst of all those stars was a steady second baseman – a singles hitter who was a first-rate bunter and heads-up baserunner – who held the infield together defensively and provided several clutch hits that were critical to the Cardinals’ success.

That second baseman was Julian Javier, who in 1964 combined with third baseman Ken Boyer, shortstop Dick Groat and first baseman Bill White to field an all-Cardinals starting infield for the All-Star game. It was the first of two All-Star appearances for Javier.

Javier was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent four years in the Pirates’ minor league system until he was traded in 1959 with pitcher Ed Bauta and infielder Dick Gray for pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell. Javier stepped right into the Cardinals’ everyday lineup, hitting .237 as a rookie in 1960 and improving his batting average to .279 the next season.

His offensive productivity increased steadily. In 1964, though his batting average slipped to .241, he hit 19 home runs with a career-best 65 runs batted in. In 1967 he had his best all-around season offensively, hitting .281 with 14 home runs and 64 RBIs. His performance that season earned him votes in the Most Valuable Player race, finishing ninth in the balloting.

Julian Javier’s three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series sealed the Series for the Cardinals.

Julian Javier’s three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series sealed the Series for the Cardinals.

Due to his bat control, Javier was an excellent hit-and-run man. And though he never won a Gold Glove, he was considered one of the better defensive second basemen in the league.

After 12 seasons in St. Louis, Javier was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Tony Cloninger in 1972. He retired after the 1972 season, his only season in Cincinnati, with 1,469 hits and a career batting average of .257. In 19 World Series appearances, he hit a combined .333. His three-run homer in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series sealed the victory for pitcher Bob Gibson and the Series for the Cardinals.

 

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Birds Survive Mantle’s Bomb

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(October 15, 1964) — In what would be his final postseason game, Mickey Mantle today hit a three-run homer, but it wouldn’t be enough as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees 7-5 to take the seventh game of the 1964 World Series.

In his last World Series appearance, Mickey Mantle hit his 18th World Series home run, the most in major league history.

In his last World Series appearance, Mickey Mantle hit his 18th World Series home run, the most in major league history.

Mantle’s home run was his third of this World Series and the eighteenth World Series home run of his career, the most in major league history.

The game’s two starting pitchers – Bob Gibson for the Cardinals and Mel Stottlemyre for the Yankees – spun shutout innings until the bottom of the fourth. The Cardinals scored first when Ken Boyer singled to lead off the inning and eventually scored on a throwing error by shortstop Phil Linz. Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver stole home for the Cards’ second run, and Dal Maxvill singled to drive in the inning’s third run.

The Cardinals added 3 more runs in the fifth inning on Lou Brock’s solo home run and RBIs from Dick Groat and McCarver.

Mantle’s blast came off Gibson in the sixth inning. Bobby Richardson and Roger Maris were on base and scored on Mantle’s home run.

Ken Boyer (left) and Clete Boyer both hit solo home runs in the Cardinals’ 7-5 seventh-game triumph in the 1964 World Series. It marked the first time 2 brothers on opposing teams homered in the same World Series game.

Ken Boyer (left) and Clete Boyer both hit solo home runs in the Cardinals’ 7-5 seventh-game triumph in the 1964 World Series. It marked the first time 2 brothers on opposing teams homered in the same World Series game.

The Cardinals added another run in the seventh inning on Ken Boyer’s solo home run, his second of the Series. The Yankees’ final two runs came on ninth-inning home runs from Linz and Clete Boyer. (This was the only World Series game ever to feature home runs by brothers on opposing teams.)

Gibson went the distance for the Cardinals to win his second game and the Series’ MVP award. Gibson struck out nine Yankees batters.

Boy, You’re Drivin’ In a Lotta Runs

 

Career Year: Ken Boyer – 1964

Whatever the Most Valuable Player award means – and it seems to mean different things in different seasons – its meaning was certainly defined by Ken Boyer during the 1964 season.

Ken Boyer 1964 National League Most Valuable Player

Ken Boyer
1964 National League Most Valuable Player

On a talented team that had been perennial underachievers, surrounded by All-Stars at every infield position, Boyer stood out. He was clearly the leader of the St. Louis Cardinals, and by the end of the season stood alone as the National League’s leader at driving in runs.

Boyer had been a star for the Cardinals since 1956, his second year in the major leagues, when he batted .306 with 26 home runs and 98 RBIs. He had been the National League’s All-Star third baseman every year since 1959, and was the soul of consistency at the plate. From 1958-1963, he had never hit less than 23 home runs or driven in less than 90 runs. His combined batting average from 1958-1963 was .304.

The only distinction Boyer hadn’t achieved in his first nine major league seasons was playing for a pennant winner. The closest the Cardinals had come in his career had been the team’s second-place finish in 1963, when Boyer batted .285 with 24 home runs and 111 RBIs.

For the first half of the 1964 season, it didn’t look like things were going to change for Boyer and the Cardinals. After staggering through a miserable 11-18 June, the team went into the All-Star break at 39-40, in sixth place and 10 games behind the front-running Philadelphia Phillies. Boyer was having another solid season, batting .288 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs and his usual Gold Glove-caliber play at third.

In the second half of the season, all the talent pieces came together for the Cardinals, who went 54-29 the rest of the way. Boyer was one of those pieces, and he raised his game in the season’s second half, hitting .301 and driving in 65 runs in the team’s final 83 games. In September, when the Cardinals caught and passed the Phillies with a 21-8 month, Boyer posted a .532 slugging percentage and drove in 24 runs.

Boyer's 119 RBIs were the most in the major leagues in 1964.

Boyer’s 119 RBIs were the most in the major leagues in 1964.

Boyer finished the 1964 season with a .295 batting average, 24 home runs (for the fourth consecutive year), and a league best (and for Boyer, career best) 119 runs batted in. He scored 100 runs and hit 30 doubles. On the season, he batted .321 with runners in scoring position.

The only thing Boyer didn’t accomplish in 1964 was winning another Gold Glove. That went to Ron Santo. Boyer had to settle for being the league’s Most Valuable Player.

At age 33, recognition of Boyer’s value – and a Cardinals championship – had finally arrived.

 

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