The Hunt Is On

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ron Hunt

Ron Hunt was one of the first legitimate “stars” to play for the New York Mets. He was the first Mets player to start an All-Star game (as the National League’s second baseman in 1964), and he was runner-up to Pete Rose for Rookie of the Year honors in 1963. Continue reading

You Only No-Hit Twice

 

Lights Out: Jim Maloney Pitches a 10-Inning No-Hitter for the Second Time this Year

When: August 19, 1965

Where:  Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game Time: 2:51

Attendance: 11,342

 

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Maloney had the kind of stuff that made every start a potential no-hitter. Continue reading

First Gear in the Big Red Machine

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Pete Rose

The accomplished and controversial career of Pete Rose extended well beyond the 1960s. But the greatest hitter not in the Hall of Fame collected the first of his 4,000 hits during the 1960s, and ended that decade on the verge of becoming the leader of the 1970s’ winningest team.

Pete Rose was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1963, when he batted .273 as the Cincinnati Reds’ second baseman.

Pete Rose was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1963, when he batted .273 as the Cincinnati Reds’ second baseman.

Cincinnati born and raised, Rose was signed by the Reds in 1960, and had become the Reds’ starting second baseman by opening day of 1963. A strong debut season (.273 batting average on 170 hits) earned him Rookie of the Year honors for 1963. His best season during the 1960s came in 1968, when Rose led the league in hitting (.335), hits (210) and on-base percentage (.391), finishing second in the league in doubles (42) and second in the Most Valuable Player balloting to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson.

During the 1960s, he led the league in hits twice, in 1965 (209) and in 1968 (210). He was the National League batting champion in 1968 (.335) and in 1969 (.348), the first year that he led the National League in runs scored (120). He appeared in four All-Star games during the 1960s, and played in 17 All-Star games throughout his career.

Pete Rose won two National League batting titles during the 1960s, hitting .335 in 1968 and .348 in 1969. He also won a batting crown in 1973, when he was also selected as the league’s MVP.

Pete Rose won two National League batting titles during the 1960s, hitting .335 in 1968 and .348 in 1969. He also won a batting crown in 1973, when he was also selected as the league’s MVP.

During his playing career (which lasted until 1986), Rose won three batting titles and led the National League in hits seven times. He also led the league in doubles five times and in runs scored four times. He was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1973.

Rose retired having played more major league games (3,562) than anyone else. He’s also the all-time leader in at-bats (14,053) and, of course, in hits (4,256).

 

 

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Defense Done Him In

 

Lights Out: Ken Johnson’s No-Hit Loss

When: April 23, 1964

Where:  Colt Stadium, Houston, Texas

Game Time: 1:56

Attendance: 5,426

The first no-hitter of the 1964 season was also the first no-hitter in major league history to be thrown by the game’s losing pitcher.

Ken Johnson’s no-hitter on April 23, 1964 was the first in major league history to be thrown by the game’s losing pitcher.

Ken Johnson’s no-hitter on April 23, 1964 was the first in major league history to be thrown by the game’s losing pitcher.

Houston starting pitcher Ken Johnson came into the game having won his first two starts of the young season. Johnson had gone 6-2 for the Cincinnati Reds in 1961 before he was selected by the Houston Colt .45s as their twenty-ninth pick in the 1961 expansion draft.

Johnson went 7-16 in Houston’s inaugural season, though he pitched better than his won-loss record indicated: 3.84 ERA with 178 strikeouts in 197 innings. He also pitched five complete games and one shutout.

In the 1964 season, Johnson would go 11-17 despite lowering his ERA to 2.65. He would pitch six complete games this season and, again, a single shutout.

It should have been two shutouts.

The Cincinnati starter was Joe Nuxhall, the left-hander who, in his major league debut on June 10, 1944, set a record as the game’s youngest player at age 15. Nuxhall had struggled through the early 1960s but had embarked on a major comeback season in 1963, when he went 15-8 with a 2.62 ERA. For 1964, he would finish the season at 9-8 with a 4.07 ERA, but he would record four shutouts in an injury-abbreviated campaign.

The first of those shutouts would be needed today.

The winner of three Gold Gloves during his Hall of Fame career, <a rel=

The winner of three Gold Gloves during his Hall of Fame career, Nellie Fox committed the error that allowed Pete Rose to score, allowing the Reds to beat the Colts 1-0 without getting a hit.

Both Johnson and Nuxhall pitched scoreless ball through the first eight innings. Through those eight innings, Nuxhall scattered five hits and struck out four Houston batters.

Johnson was simply overpowering … and unhittable. Through the first eight innings, he struck out nine Reds batters and walked only two. And after eight innings, the Reds’ line score read zeroes in hits as well as runs.

The shutout ended in the top of the ninth. Nuxhall grounded out to open the inning. Then Pete Rose reached first base on an error by Johnson. His throw into the dirt squirted by first baseman Pete Runnels, allowing Rose to move to second base. Rose went to third on a ground out by Chico Ruiz, and then scored when Houston second baseman Nellie Fox bobbled a ground ball off the bat of Vada Pinson. Pinson was safe at first and the Reds were ahead 1-0 without the benefit of a hit. Frank Robinson flied out to left field to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Nuxhall struck out leadoff hitter Eddie Kasko and induced Fox to ground out to short. Runnels’ hot grounder to third was mishandled by Ruiz, putting Runnels on first with the tying run. Bob Lillis went into the game to run for Runnels, but to no avail. Nuxhall struck out Johnny Weekly to end the inning and the game.

Ken Johnson was 11-17 for the Houston Colt .45s in 1964 … despite a 2.65 ERA.

Ken Johnson was 11-17 for the Houston Colt .45s in 1964 … despite a 2.65 ERA.

Never before had a major league pitcher thrown a complete game no-hitter and lost. But it was the kind of frustration that Ken Johnson would experience in different ways during the 1964 season as a talented pitcher on a second-year expansion team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reds Rookie Debut Nets 2 For 2

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 10, 1963) A highlight of today’s Cincinnati RedsChicago White Sox spring exhibition game was the two-hit debut of an unheralded rookie second baseman.

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Pete Rose got a pair of hits in his Reds debut during spring training in 1963.

Pete Rose went into the game as a last-minute replacement for an injured Don Blasingame, the Reds starting second baseman. Rose went two for two in his first appearance against big league pitching.

It was a fitting debut for the man who would retire 21 seasons later as the most prolific batsman in major league history with 4,256 hits.

By the end of spring training, Rose would win the starting job at second. By the end of the 1963 season, Rose would be named National League Rookie of the Year.

 

 

 

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