Cards Bamboozle Cubs

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(June 15, 1964) The most famous – and most productive – trade in St. Louis Cardinals history was made today when the Cardinals sent a pair of former 20-game winners, Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz, along with outfielder Doug Clemens, to the Chicago Cubs for three players: pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth, and an outfielder named Lou Brock.

Lou Brock was batting .251 with the Chicago Cubs when he was traded to the Cardinals in 1964. He batted .348 for the Cardinals over the rest of the season, and retired 15 years later after putting together a Hall of Fame career.

For the Cubs, the trade worked out this way: Broglio went 4-7 for the rest of that year and 7-19 for the Cubs over three years. Shantz went 0-1 for the Cubs before being purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies in August. Clemens hit .279 with 12 RBIs in 54 games with the Cubs. (He hit .221 for Cubs the next year.)

For the Cardinals, the trade worked out this way: Spring pitched in only two innings. Toth never made an appearance. Brock, however, led the Cardinals to the World Series, and followed up with a career that led to his eventual enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Lou Brock had a fabulous second half for the Cardinals in 1964. In 103 games, he hit .348 and scored 84 runs, with nine triples, 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. He was the offensive spark plug for a Cardinals team that won its first pennant since 1946.

In the World Series against the New York Yankees, Brock was instrumental in helping St. Louis take the championship, batting .300 with five RBIs and nine hits in seven games, including two doubles and a home run.

Ernie Broglio was 3-5 with a 3.50 ERA for the St. Louis Cardinals when he was traded to the Cubs in 1964. He was 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the Cubs over the rest of the season, and retired two years later after going 7-19 in three seasons with Chicago.

Brock finished his career with the Cardinals, retiring in 1979 with 3,023 hits and, at the time, the career record for stolen bases with 938. He broke Maury Wills’ single-season record for stolen bases with 118 in 1974 and was the most prolific base stealer during the 1960s, with 430.

 

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Sometimes Size Counts

 

Homer Happy: Frank Howard

Frank Howard made opposing pitchers cringe. At six-foot-seven and 255 pounds, he was an imposing presence at the plate. Not even the higher mound (15 inches high until 1969) gave pitchers as much of an advantage. At his height, he could still nearly look them in the eye.

With his strength, every pitch was a potential souvenir. His last manager with the Washington Senators, the legendary Ted Williams, called Howard the strongest man in baseball. No one questioned Williams’ hitting acumen, and no one could argue his point about Howard.

In 1968, the “Year of the Pitcher” when most of major league hitting was in a coma, Howard hit home runs as if the regular season were simply extended batting practice. He launched 44 homers that season – ten of them within a single week – eight more than Willie Horton and the rest of the American League’s sluggers. He hit 136 home runs from 1968-1970, none of them cheap.

While known primarily for his size and strength, Frank Howard was also a fine all-around athlete. At Ohio State, he was an All-American in basketball as well as baseball.

What Howard brought to the batter’s box wasn’t fair. He was more than just another lumbering slugger. Matching his strength was an athletic ability practically unheard of in a hitter his size. He had been an All-American in basketball (as well as baseball) at Ohio State before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958.

His minor league career lasted only two seasons, when he butchered minor league pitchers for 37 home runs in 1958 and 43 in 1959. He was ready for the big time.

In 1960, Howard walked away with National League Rookie of the Year honors by batting .268 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs. A thumb injury limited him to only 15 home runs in 1961, but a healthy season in 1962 produced 31 home runs with 119 runs batted in.

After hitting 23 home runs as a rookie in 1960, Frank Howard led the Los Angeles Dodgers with 31 home runs and 119 RBIs in 1962.

Despite that kind of productivity at the plate, the Dodgers – and in particular, manager Walt Alston – saw Howard primarily as a platoon player. And pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium seemed more conducive to slashing hitters like Tommy Davis and to the base path speed of Maury Wills and Willie Davis. Howard just didn’t seem to fit in with the Dodgers’ offensive strategy. Plus Howard’s power output appeared to be declining: to 28 home runs in 1963 and 24 in 1964, and he drove in less than 70 runs both seasons.

So in December of 1964, the Dodgers sent Howard to the Washington Senators as part of a seven-player swap that brought Washington’s ace pitcher, Claude Osteen, to the West Coast.  Playing for the worst team in the American League and battling injuries season-long, Howard batted .289 for the Senators in 1965 and led the team with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs. After hitting only 18 home runs in 1966, he doubled that total in 1967.

The 1968 season was when Howard lifted his slugging to elite status. While the rest of the American League was hitting for a combined .230 average, Howard batted .274 and led the league with 44 home runs, 330 total bases and a .552 slugging percentage. His 106 RBIs were second best in the league (to Ken Harrelson‘s 109).

For six days in May of 1968, Frank Howard was a home run machine – hitting 10 homers in six games and only 20 at-bats. He finished the 1968 season with 44 home runs and 106 runs batted in.

This was also the season when Howard went on a home run tear in May, blasting ten home runs in six games and doing it in only 20 at-bats. Howard did even better in 1969, batting .296 with 48 home runs and 111 RBIs. Harmon Killebrew led the league in both home runs and RBIs that season, but Howard was the league leader with 340 total bases and was fourth with a .574 slugging percentage. In 1970, he would lead the league in home runs (44) and RBIs (126).

Howard retired in 1973 with 382 home runs and 1,119 RBIs. He posted a career batting average of .273 and a .499 career slugging average. At his peak as a slugger, from 1967 through 1970, Howard averaged 43 home runs and 108 RBIs per season.

 

 

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Glove Is a Many Splendored Thing

 

The Glove Club: Wes Parker

Wes Parker was a good hitter who was one of the best defensive first basemen in Dodgers history.

Wes Parker won six consecutive Gold Gloves from 1967-1972. His .9957 career fielding average is twelfth highest among major league first basemen.

Parker was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963 and was playing in L.A. a year later, batting .257 as a rookie in 1964. Starting in 1965, he was the Dodgers’ everyday first baseman for the next eight seasons.

Parker won the Gold Glove for his play at first base every season from 1967 through 1972. In 1968, he committed only one error in 1,009 chances at first base for a .999 fielding percentage. Parker also played in the outfield as needed.

A switch-hitter, Parker was at first base when the Dodgers fielded an all-switch-hitting infield in 1965. The other members of that switch-hitting infield (the only one in major league history) were Jim Lefebvre at second, Maury Wills at shortstop and Jim Gilliam at third.

Parker’s best season as a hitter came in 1970, when he batted .319 with 10 home runs and 111 RBIs. That season he led the National League in doubles with 47 and in games played with 161. He also posted career highs in on-base percentage (.392) and slugging average (.458). His highest home run output came in 1969, when he hit 13 dingers.

Parker was released by the Dodgers after the 1973 season, and spent one season in Japan before retiring as a player. In nine major league seasons, all with the Dodgers, Parker posted a career batting average of .267 with 1,110 hits.

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Bob All Over

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bob Bailey

For 17 major league seasons, Bob Bailey was a dependable and versatile player for five different major league teams.

In four full seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bob Bailey batted .259 and averaged 12 home runs and 48 RBIs.

In four full seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bob Bailey batted .259 and averaged 12 home runs and 48 RBIs.

Bailey was signed as a teenager out of high school in 1961 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He debuted with the Pirates in 1962 and became the team’s starting third baseman in 1963, replacing the departed Don Hoak.

Bailey batted .228 in his rookie season, with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs.  The next season he improved his batting average to .281. In four seasons with the Pirates, Bailey batted a combined .259 and averaged 12 home runs and 48 runs batted in.

In December of 1966, Bailey was traded with Gene Michael to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Maury Wills. He batted .227 in each of his two seasons with the Dodgers, and was acquired by the Montreal Expos, where he played for the next seven seasons. In 1970, he hit .287 for the Expos with 28 home runs and 84 RBIs. In 1973, he hit 26 home runs with 86 RBIs.

In four full seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bob Bailey batted .259 and averaged 12 home runs and 48 RBIs.

Bob Bailey’s best seasons as a hitter came with the Montreal Expos, starting in 1969. From 1970 through 1974, Bailey averaged 21 home runs and 77 runs batted in per season

In 1975, Bailey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Clay Kirby. Now limited to part-time duty, he batted .298 in 1976 and .253 in 1977. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox at the end of that season, and hit .191 for the Red Sox in 1978 before retiring.

In 17 major league seasons, Bailey batted .257 with 1,564 hits and 189 home runs.

 

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Fairly Powerful Dodger

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ron Fairly

Ron Fairly was a “fooler.” From his stocky build you expected him to be a power hitter, and occasionally he was. But his compact swing delivered average and RBIs more than power, and his less-than-expected home run prowess did not keep Fairly from being an important run-producing cog in the Dodgers’ pennant machines of the mid-1960s.

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Ron Fairly averaged 66 runs and 71 RBIs for the Dodgers from 1963-1966. During those five seasons, the Dodgers won three National League pennants and two World Series.

As a sophomore at the University of Southern California in 1958, Fairly was the team’s star center fielder, hitting .348 with nine home runs and 67 RBIs in leading the Trojans to the NCAA World Series championship. He was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers that summer, and made his debut in a Dodgers uniform in September, hitting .283 in 15 games, with two home runs (his first came off Ron Kline of the Pittsburgh Pirates), and eight runs batted in.

Fairly batted .238 for the Dodgers’ 1959 World Series team, with four home runs and 23 RBIs in a part-time role. He spent most of 1960 in the minors, and played 111 games for the Dodgers in 1961, splitting his playing time between all three outfield positions and first base, while batting .322 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

By the start of the 1962 season, Fairly had established himself as the Dodgers’ everyday first baseman. He hit .278 that season, with 14 home runs and 78 RBIs, and followed up in 1963 by batting .271 with 12 home runs and 77 runs batted in. From 1962 through 1966, Fairly averaged 71 RBIs per season with a combined batting average of .273.

Then, inexplicably, his hitting dropped off, as his batting average felt to .220 in 1967 and .234 in 1968. In 1969, the Dodgers traded Fairly with Paul Popovich to the Montreal Expos for Manny Mota and Maury Wills. The move to Montreal seemed to revive his hitting, as Fairly batted .289 for the Expos over the rest of the 1969 season. He batted .288 in 1970 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs. He hit a career best 17 home runs in both 1972 and 1973, and averaged a combined .276 in six seasons with the Expos.

Ron Fairly was a first-time All-Star in 1973, his fifteenth major league season. The 34-year-old Fairly batted .298 for the Montreal Expos that season.

Ron Fairly was a first-time All-Star in 1973, his fifteenth major league season. The 34-year-old Fairly batted .298 for the Montreal Expos that season.

Fairly was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975, where he hit .301 as a part-time player and pinch hitter. Over the next three seasons, Fairly made stops in Oakland, Toronto and closed out his playing career with the California Angels in 1978 before embarking on a long career as a baseball broadcaster.

Fairly played for 21 major league seasons, with 1,913 hits and a career batting average of .266. He was an All-Star twice, once for each league.

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Zim Brings Relief

 

Swap Shop: Don Zimmer for Ron Perranoski

At the opening of the 1960s, Don Zimmer had already spent more than a decade as part of the Dodgers’ organization. An accomplished infielder with occasional pop in his bat, Zimmer was signed by the Dodgers in 1949 and made the Brooklyn squad in 1954.

Don Zimmer’s value as a utility infielder was worth three minor league players to the Chicago Cubs. But Zimmer spent only two seasons in Chicago before being drafted by the New York Mets. He was an All-Star selection in 1962, his second and last season with the Cubs.

Don Zimmer’s value as a utility infielder was worth three minor league players to the Chicago Cubs. But Zimmer spent only two seasons in Chicago before being drafted by the New York Mets. He was an All-Star selection in 1962, his second and last season with the Cubs.

His versatility as a fielder made him a valuable utility player for the Dodgers. From 1954-1957, he was the backup shortstop to Pee Wee Reese. In 1958, his only season as an everyday with the Dodgers, Zimmer took over as the team’s shortstop and delivered his best season at the plate: batting .262 with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs and 14 stolen bases for the Dodgers (now located in Los Angeles).

But in 1959, Zimmer split the shortstop duties with a young player named Maury Wills, and responded to platooning with a .165 batting average.

It would be his last season in Dodger blue.

While Zimmer’s versatility made him a valuable bench asset to Dodger manager Walt Alston, he was valued more by the Chicago Cubs. Just before the start of the 1960 season, the Cubs acquired Zimmer for $25,000 and three players: minor league outfielder Lee Handley, infielder Johnny Goryl, and a 24-year-old southpaw named Ron Perranoski.

At first, it looked as if the Cubs had gotten the best of the deal. Zimmer played all three positions on the left side of the Cubs’ 1960 infield (plus two appearances in left field), batting .258 with six home runs and 35 runs batted in. In 1961, as the Cubs’ regular second baseman, Zimmer was named to the All-Star team in a season where he batted .252 with 13 home runs, 40 RBIs and a career-best 25 doubles.

Ron Perranoski was the anchor in the Dodgers’ bullpen for that team’s pennant seasons of 1963, 1965 and 1966. Perranoski won 16 games for the Dodgers (all in relief) in 1963 while saving 21.

Ron Perranoski was the anchor in the Dodgers’ bullpen for that team’s pennant seasons of 1963, 1965 and 1966. Perranoski won 16 games for the Dodgers (all in relief) in 1963 while saving 21.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers saw little early return on the trade. None of the players acquired in exchange for Zimmer played for the Dodgers in 1960. Handley never made it to the major leagues. Goryl spent two seasons in the minors before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins (where he played for three seasons as a utility infielder).

And then there was Perranoski. He spent the 1960 season in AAA, going 12-11 with a 2.58 ERA. But after having served primarily as a starter in two seasons in the Cubs’ farm system, Perranoski was being groomed as a reliever by the Dodgers. He made the Dodgers’ roster in 1961, coming out of the bullpen for all but one of his 53 appearances, and posting a 7-5 record with a 3.04 ERA and six saves. In 1962, he appeared in 70 games, finishing 39 and saving 19 to go with a 6-6 record and a 3.35 earned run average.

Zimmer spent the 1962 season in New York and Cincinnati, selected by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft and then traded to the Reds five weeks into the 1962 season. He batted a combined .213. He would play three more seasons in the major leagues, followed by a year in Japan and an ill-fated comeback attempt in the minors in 1967. He spent the next four decades in baseball as a coach and manager, both in the minors and at the major league level.

Perranoski emerged as one of the most effective relievers of the 1960s. He was 16-3 for the Dodgers in 1963 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 saves. Over the next four seasons, he won 23 games and saved 54 with a 2.73 combined ERA. Perranoski was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1968 and led the American League in saves in 1969 and 1970.

Zimmer’s baseball career lasted longer than the combined major league careers of the three players the Cubs surrendered to get him. But the trade for Perranoski turned out to be the biggest contribution Zimmer ever made to the Dodger organization that signed him.

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Feigner Fans ‘Em

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(February 18, 1967) He was one of the top strikeout pitchers of the 1960s … though he never pitched in the major leagues.

And on this day he put on a pitching exhibition that supported any claim that he was the best strikeout artist ever.

“The King” Eddie Feigner

“The King” Eddie Feigner

Eddie Feigner could pitch a softball (underhanded, of course) clocked at speeds up to 104 mph (though some claimed it was more like 114 mph). Feigner barnstormed America for more than 50 years with a four-player team known as “The King and His Court.”

Just prior to spring training in 1967, Feigner pitched an exhibition at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, striking out six consecutive major league hitters.

But not just any major league hitters. Feigner fanned (in order) Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Brooks RobinsonWillie McCoveyMaury Wills, and Harmon Killebrew. All six won the Most Valuable Player Award during the 1960s. All but Wills have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If hitters of their stature couldn’t touch a fat Feigner-launched softball, how would they have fared against a baseball?

The Year He Was Everything But MVP.

 

Career Year: Tommy Davis (1962)

In his 1962 break-out season, outfielder Tommy Davis did everything he needed to do to claim the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.

Everything, that is, except to actually win it.

Here’s how it happened.That season’s MVP went to teammate Maury Wills. Looking back a half-century, and looking at the numbers for both players, it’s hard to justify how Davis got passed over.

Tommy Davis - Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder won the National League batting title in 1962 and 1963

Tommy Davis – Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder won the National League batting title in 1962 and 1963

Tommy Davis was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. He never batted below .300 in 4 minor league seasons. In 1959, with Spokane in the Pacific Coast League, Davis batted .345 with 18 home runs and 78 RBIs. He made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the 1959 season, striking out in his only plate appearance.

Davis opened the 1960 season on the Dodgers’ roster, and gradually took over full-time duties in center field from Duke Snider and Don Demeter. He finished the 1960 season batting .276 with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. In 1961, Davis batted .278 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. He played 86 games in the outfield, at all three positions, and played 59 games at third base. He was, essentially, a utility player for the Dodgers.

That would change in 1962. He opened the season as the team’s everyday left fielder, and was hitting .316 at the end of April. In May he batted .336 with five home runs and 25 RBIs, and in June Davis batted .354 with three home runs and 32 RBIs. By the All-Star break, Davis was batting .353 with 15 doubles, 15 home runs and 90 RBIs. He made his first All-Star appearance that season.

While Davis was leading the National League in hits, runs batted in and batting average, he wasn’t getting national media attention for his monster season. During the first half of the season, the media reserved their Dodger focus on a pair of pitchers – Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax – who were having outstanding seasons in leading the Dodgers to the top of the National League standings. At the All-Star break in 1962, Drysdale was 15-4 with a 2.88 ERA. Koufax, an 18-game winner in 1961, was 13-4 with a 2.15 ERA and led the major leagues with 202 strikeouts. Drysdale would go on to win the Cy Young award with a 25-9 record, while an arm injury would limit Koufax to only one more victory over the rest of the 1962 campaign.

The other media “distraction” from Davis’ season was a record-breaking performance by Dodger shortstop Maury Wills. By late July, it became obvious that Wills was on his way to breaking the single season record for stolen bases held by Ty Cobb. It would be the second consecutive year when a hallowed baseball record was under assault, as only a year before there was a media frenzy following Roger Maris’ (and Mickey Mantle’s) chase of Babe Ruth’s record for home runs in a single season.

Tommy Davis led the NL with 230 hits in 1962, the most in 25 years.

Wills eventually caught Cobb’s record of 96 stolen bases and finished the season with 104, a season which the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants finished in a dead heat, requiring a three-game playoff which the Giants won. It was an exciting season on many fronts.

And Tommy Davis? Lost in the shuffle of a heated pennant race and outstanding individual performances, Davis led the National League with 230 hits (32 ahead of Wills and Frank Robinson), 153 RBIs (12 ahead of Willie Mays) and a .346 batting average. He also finished fourth in the league in doubles and total bases, fifth in triples and slugging (.535 percentage), and seventh in stolen bases.

In the MVP voting, Davis finished third behind Wills and Mays. Stolen bases and triples were the only offensive categories in which Wills was the league leader.

It would be the best season of Tommy Davis’ career. He would lead the National League in hitting again in 1963 with a .326 average, but his power numbers would drop to 16 home runs (compared to 27 in 1962) and 88 RBIs, down 65 from the previous season. He would suffer a broken ankle during the 1965 season that would compromise his speed for the rest of his career, though Davis would remain a steady hitter throughout his 18-year career, retiring after the 1976 season with a .294 career batting average.

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Tough in the Pinch

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Manny Mota

Some hitters are better suited to the pressure and quick warm-up required of the pinch hitter. One of the best at that specialty was Manny Mota.

Manny Mota batted .332 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966 and .321 in 1967.

Manny Mota batted .332 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966 and .321 in 1967.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Mota was signed by the New York Giants as a teenager. After rising through the Giants farm system, he played in 47 games for the Giants in San Francisco before being traded after the 1962 season with pitcher Dick Lemay to the Houston Colt .45s for Joey Amalfitano. Before playing a single game with Houston, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Howie Goss and cash.

Mota spent the next six seasons with the Pirates, hitting a combined .297. A contact hitter, Mota batted .332 for the Bucs in 1966 and .321 in 1967. His average slipped to .281 in 1968, and Mota was selected by the Montreal Expos as the second pick in the 1968 expansion draft.

Mota appeared in only 31 games for the Expos. In June of 1969, he was traded with Maury Wills to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich. He hit a combined .321 for both teams that season.

From 1974 to 1979, Manny Mota was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter by the Los Angeles Dodgers. And he was one of the best in baseball, batting .313 as a pinch hitter over that period.

From 1974 to 1979, Manny Mota was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter by the Los Angeles Dodgers. And he was one of the best in baseball, batting .313 as a pinch hitter over that period.

Mota played with the Dodgers for 12 more seasons, hitting a combined .315 in an LA uniform. His best season as a regular with the Dodgers was 1972 when he hit .323. During his last six seasons in Los Angeles, Mota was known primarily as a pinch hitter, and was one of the best in the game at that. He hit a combined .313 as a pinch-hitter during that period.

Mota retired after the 1980 season (he made one pinch-hit appearance in 1982) with a .304 career batting average. He was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1973, and remained with the Dodgers as a coach for more than 30 years after his retirement.

 

 

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Wills Breaks NL Steals Record

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 7, 1962) With four steals in a 10-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Maury Wills today broke the modern National League record for stolen bases in a season with his 82nd swipe.

He broke the previous record set by outfielder Bob Bescher in 1911 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. In his 11-year major league career, Bescher stole 428 bases, which still ties him for 59th place all-time on the major league list.

Wills remains nineteenth on the all-time list with 586 stolen bases in 14 big league seasons. During his epic 1962 season, Wills finished with 104 stolen bases, eclipsing Ty Cobb’s major league mark of 96 stolen bases. Wills’ 1962 total of 104 still ranks as the seventh highest single-season total since 1901.

The major league single-season record holder is Rickey Henderson with 130 in 1982. Lou Brock still holds the National League single-season record for steals with 118 in 1974.

Wills capped his record-setting 1962 season by winning the National League Most Valuable Player award.

 

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