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

NL All-Stars Turn Up the Heat; Perry Prevails

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 12, 1966) In St. Louis, the National League All-Stars edged the American League 2-1, in a game played at Busch Stadium in 105-degree weather. Continue reading

300 and Counting

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(August 11, 1961) The Milwaukee Braves today defeated the 2-1 behind the six-hit pitching of Warren Spahn.

Warren Spahn's 12th victory of the 1961 season was also his 12th complete game ... and the 300th win of his career.

Warren Spahn’s 12th victory of the 1961 season was also his 12th complete game … and the 300th win of his career.

For Spahn (12-12), it marked the 300th victory of his career, and made Spahn the thirteenth pitcher in major league history to reach the 300-victory plateau. He was also the first 300-game winner in two decades, following Lefty Grove in 1941.

Spahn drove in the game’s first run in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly that brought home catcher Joe Torre. The Cubs tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning. Ron Santo scored on an Andre Rodgers RBI single.

Braves center fielder Gino Cimoli hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off Cubs starter Jack Curtis (7-7). Curtis and Spahn each allowed just six hits.

For Spahn, the victory marked his twelfth complete game of the season … and Spahn would lead the National League in complete games in 1961 for the fifth consecutive season. He would also lead the league in ERA (3.02) and victories at 21-13.

And he still had 63 victories left in his 40-year-old arm.

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Dog Gone Productive

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tony Perez

In the prime of his career, first baseman Tony Perez was an RBI monster for the Cincinnati Reds. He was so productive for so long and so consistently that he quite naturally found a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame following a 23-year major league career.

Tony Perez was the Most Valuable Player in the 1967 All-Star game. That season, he batted .290 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.

Tony Perez was the Most Valuable Player in the 1967 All-Star game. That season, he batted .290 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.

That career began in the 1960s with the Reds, the team that signed him in 1960. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League in 1964, hitting 34 home runs with 107 RBIs for the Reds’ AAA affiliate, the (then minor league) San Diego Padres.

In 1965, his first full season with the Reds, Perez hit .260 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs. He batted .265 in 1966, and then had his breakout season in 1967, batting .290 with 28 doubles, 26 home runs and 102 RBIs. He appeared in his first All-Star game that season, hitting the game-winning home run off Catfish Hunter in the fifteenth inning and being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.  At the end of the season, Perez finished eighth in the balloting for National League MVP.

Perez’s offensive number fell off slightly in 1968 (as was true for nearly all of baseball’s sluggers), but he put together another tremendous year in 1969, batting .294 with 31 doubles, 37 home runs and 122 runs batted in (third best in the National League behind Willie McCovey and Ron Santo). He improved on those numbers again in 1970, batting .317 with 40 home runs and 129 RBIs.

From 1967 through 1976, Perez averaged 26 home runs and 103 RBIs per season while batting a combined .286 over that decade. Following the 1976 season, Perez was traded with Will McEnaney to the Montreal Expos for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. In three seasons with the Expos, Perez averaged 15 home runs and 81 RBIs while batting .281. He spent three seasons with the Boston Red Sox, hitting 25 home runs with 105 RBIs in 1980. After a season in Philadelphia, Perez returned to the Reds in 1984 and spent three more seasons as a part-time performer, retiring after the 1986 season.

With 1,192 RBIs in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, Tony Perez is second all time to <a rel=

Perez retired with a .279 career batting average and 379 home runs. His 1,652 runs batted in put him twenty-eighth on the all-time list. His 1,192 RBIs with the Reds put him second to Johnny Bench in that category.

A five-time All-Star, Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

 

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Too Much Talent to Hide

 

Career Year: Vada Pinson – 1963

Vada Pinson was such a solid player for the Cincinnati Reds in the first half of the 1960s that it is actually something of a challenge to pick a career year. But 1963 proved to be the most productive season overall for the Reds’ center fielder. And it proved to be another season when Pinson’s excellence was overshadowed by a fleet of future Hall of Famers who patrolled the outfield as his contemporaries – including one on his own team.

During the early 1960s, Vada Pinson strung together one outstanding hitting season after another. The best all-around season was 1963, when he batted .313 and led the majors with 204 hits.

During the early 1960s, Vada Pinson strung together one outstanding hitting season after another. The best all-around season was 1963, when he batted .313 and led the majors with 204 hits.

“Overshadowed” aptly applied to the best years of Pinson’s 18-season career. Called up by the Reds for the last month of the 1958 season, he claimed the center field job in his 1959 rookie season and promptly led the major leagues in runs scored (131) and doubles (47). He batted .316 as a rookie with 20 home runs and 84 runs batted in, and was named to the 1959 All-Star team.

Rookie of the Year for 1959? Unfortunately, in 1959 a player had to have fewer than 75 official at-bats to keep his rookie status. Pinson had 96 at-bats in 1958, and thus didn’t qualify (though he would have under today’s rules).

He hit .287 in 1960 and led the league again in doubles with 37. In 1961, he batted .343 and led the major leagues with 208 hits. He also won his only Gold Glove that season, finishing third in the balloting for Most Valuable Player (won by teammate Frank Robinson).

From 1960-1965, Vada Pinson batted a combined .301 and averaged 192 hits, 33 doubles, 21 home runs and 89 RBIs per season.

From 1960-1965, Vada Pinson batted a combined .301 and averaged 192 hits, 33 doubles, 21 home runs and 89 RBIs per season.

All terrific seasons, and Pinson would have more. But none of his seasons was more “complete” as a hitter than the performance he turned in for 1963. Pinson batted .313 (seventh in the National league) and again led the majors in hits with 204. He appeared in all 162 games, tying him for first with Bill White and Ron Santo. His .514 slugging average was fifth in the league. He finished third in total bases (335), second in doubles (37), first in triples with 14, eighth in singles (131), third in stolen bases (27) and fourth with 106 runs batted in.

 

 

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The Sweetest Swing This Side of North Side

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Billy Williams

The Chicago Cubs of the 1960s were something of an enigma: all that talent – especially in the heart of the line-up, and so little to show for it. (Of course, the same thing might also be said about the Cubs of the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.)

Left fielder Billy Williams was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1961 and the NL batting champion in 1972.

Left fielder Billy Williams was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1961 and the NL batting champion in 1972.

How did the Cubs, with the likes of Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Ron Santo playing nearly every day, consistently have to struggle so hard to reach .500, much less contend? And add a Billy Williams to that equation, and the Cubs of the 1960s become all that much more puzzling.

Because out of that trio of offensive superstars, Billy Williams might just have been the best of the three during the 1960s.

Williams was consistent, not spectacular. His swing was so compact, so smooth and sweet, that it’s somewhat surprising he won only a single batting title during his 18-year career.  He never led the league in home runs or RBIs, and led only once in runs and hits (both coming in 1970). But between 1961 and 1973, William never had fewer than 20 home runs or 84 RBIs.

All told, during those 13 seasons, he averaged 28 home runs with 98 RBIs, batting a combined .298. He batted over .300 five times during that period. He ranks twelfth among home run hitters during the 1960s.

From 1962-1969, Billy Williams was the model for consistent performance. He batted a combined .293 and averaged 28 home runs and 95 RBIs per season. He also played in an average of 162 games per year.

From 1962-1969, Billy Williams was the model for consistent performance. He batted a combined .293 and averaged 28 home runs and 95 RBIs per season. He also played in an average of 162 games per year.

All three of those great Cub players were also three of the most durable in the National League, but no one was more durable than Williams. From 1962 through 1970, Williams averaged 162 games per season, appearing in more than 162 games for three of those seasons. He set the league record for consecutive games with 1,117 in 1970, a record that stood for more than a dozen years.

Williams was Rookie of the Year in 1961 and an All-Star six times.  He was a Cub for all but the last two seasons of his career, when he was a designated hitter for the Oakland A’s (and made his only post-season appearance in the 1975 American League Championship Series, going hitless in seven at-bats).  He finished his career with more than 400 home runs and over 1,400 RBIs. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Rattlin’ the Ivy Off Wrigley

 

Homer Happy: Ron Santo

Ron Santo was money in the bank for the Chicago Cubs. For eight consecutive seasons – from 1963 through 1970 – Santo hit no fewer than 25 home runs and drove in no fewer than 94 runs.

No third baseman hit more home runs during the 1960s than Ron Santo. And Santo’s durability and defensive performance were second to none in the National League.

No third baseman hit more home runs during the 1960s than Ron Santo. And Santo’s durability and defensive performance were second to none in the National League.

And by the way, during that same eight-year period, Santo averaged 160 games per season … and collected five Gold Gloves.

The best all-around third baseman of the 1960s? Ron Santo probably was. He maybe wasn’t the fielder that Brooks Robinson was over in the American League (though he came closer than anyone else). But Robinson couldn’t match Santo’s offensive productivity. And no other third baseman in baseball hit as many home runs during the 1960s.

Santo was signed by the Cubs in 1959 and found his way into the Cubs’ lineup a year later, batting .251 as a 20-year-old rookie. He hit nine home runs in his rookie season, 23 in 1961, and 17 in 1962. Then, in 1963, Santo hit 25 homers – and wouldn’t hit any fewer than that total until 1971.

By 1964, Santo had established himself as the National League’s premier third baseman. He batted .313 that season and led the league with 13 triples, 86 walks and a .398 on-base percentage. He also hit 33 doubles and 30 home runs with 114 runs batted in.

Through the rest of the 1960s, only Dick Allen of the Philadelphia Phillies could challenge Santo as a slugging third baseman. But he couldn’t carry Santo’s glove.

That the Chicago Cubs fell short in the 1969 pennant race had nothing to do with Ron Santo’s hitting that season. Santo batted .289 that year with 29 home runs and a career-best 123 RBIs, second most in the National League.

That the Chicago Cubs fell short in the 1969 pennant race had nothing to do with Ron Santo’s hitting that season. Santo batted .289 that year with 29 home runs and a career-best 123 RBIs, second most in the National League.

Santo banged out 30 or more home runs each season from 1964-1967. He had 98 or more RBIs in seven seasons, and topped 170 hits four times. For a power hitter, Santo was unusually disciplined with his strike zone. He led the National League in bases on balls four times, and accumulated 70 or more walk in nine seasons.

Santo closed out the 1960s with one of his best seasons. He batted .289 that year with 29 home runs and a career-best 123 RBIs, second most in the National League. His productivity as a power hitter declined over the next three seasons as he averaged 19 home runs and 80 RBIs from 1971-1973. He spent the 1974 season – his fifteenth and last in the major leagues – on the South Side of Chicago with the White Sox. As a part-time infielder, Santo batted .221 with five home runs and 41 RBIs.

Santo retired with a career batting average of .277 with 342 home runs and 1,331 runs batted in. He was a member of the National League All-Star team nine times during his career.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.

 

Playing in the Shadows

 

Homer Happy: Vada Pinson

Vada Pinson was as complete a ballplayer as you could hope for. He could hit for average and hit for power. He played fast and smooth in center field, with a strong throwing arm. He turned singles into extra bases. He played with five tools and the heart of a lion.

When the Cincinnati Reds were winning the National League pennant in 1961, Vada Pinson led the team with a .343 batting average, and led the league with 208 hits.

When the Cincinnati Reds were winning the National League pennant in 1961, Vada Pinson led the team with a .343 batting average, and led the league with 208 hits.

Pinson had the talent and dedication to be a genuine superstar. The only thing he lacked while playing for the Cincinnati Reds was a spotlight.

In Cincinnati in the early 1960s, that spotlight belonged to Frank Robinson.

A native of Oakland, California, Pinson was signed by the Reds in 1956. In 1958, he batted .343 for Spokane in the Pacific Coast League, which earned him a month’s stay in Cincinnati (batting .271 in 27 games) and a shot at the center field job in 1959.

Pinson captured that center field job and refused to let it go. He batted .317 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs with a .509 slugging percentage. He led the National League with 648 at-bats, 131 runs scored and 47 doubles.

In 1960 he repeated as the league leader in at-bats and doubles. Batting .287 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs, Pinson also stole 32 bases and scored 107 runs. He batted .343 in 1961, leading the league with 208 hits. His was a potent bat hitting third in the Reds’ pennant-winning lineup, with 16 home runs and 87 RBIs in addition to scoring 101 runs. He finished third in the race for Most Valuable Player behind Robinson and Orlando Cepeda.

After batting .292 in 1962 (with 23 home runs and 100 RBIs), Pinson gave what probably was his best all-around hitting performance in 1963. He batted .313 (seventh in the National league) and again led the majors in hits with 204. He appeared in all 162 games, tying him for first with Bill White and Ron Santo. His .514 slugging average was fifth in the league. He finished third in total bases (335), second in doubles (37), first in triples with 14, eighth in singles (131), third in stolen bases (27) and fourth with 106 runs batted in.

Over the next five seasons, Pinson remained a solid hitter for the Reds, with and (after the trade with the Baltimore Orioles) without Frank Robinson hitting behind him. From 1964-1968, Pinson batted a combined .284 while averaging 17 home runs and 74 RBIs. He led the National League with 13 triples in 1967.

Following the 1968 season, and after 11 years with the Reds, Pinson was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Wayne Granger and outfielder Bobby Tolan. Pinson’s only season in St. Louis was the worst of his career, as he batted .255 with ten home runs and 70 RBIs.

In 18 major league seasons, Vada Pinson batted .286 with 2,757 hits. He led the National League twice in hits and twice in triples.

In 18 major league seasons, Vada Pinson batted .286 with 2,757 hits. He led the National League twice in hits and twice in triples.

An off-season trade to the Cleveland Indians revived Pinson’s bat in 1970. He batted .286 with 24 home runs and 82 RBIs. At age 31, it would also be Pinson’s last season as a major hitting threat. From 1971-1975, playing for the Indians, the California Angels and the Kansas City Royals, Pinson hit for a combined .261 average with seven home runs and 41 RBIs per season. He retired at age 36 after hitting .223 in 1975.

Pinson lasted 18 seasons in the major leagues, batting .286 with 2,757 hits (#53 all time in career hits), 485 doubles, 256 home runs and 1,169 RBIs. Pinson scored 1,365 runs during his career.

Pinson was an All-Star twice.

 

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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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Mahaffey Mows Down 17

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(April 23, 1961) Striking out at least one batter in each inning, Philadelphia Phillies hurler Art Mahaffey today set a new club record with 17 strikeouts.

Art Mahafey set a Phillies team record by striking out 17 batters in a 9-inning game.

Art Mahafey set a Phillies team record by striking out 17 batters in a 9-inning game.

Mahaffey (1-1) and the Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0. Mahaffey allowed only four hits and a walk. Mahaffey struck out the side in the second inning and the sixth inning. Four Cubs batters – Don Zimmer, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks and Frank Thomas – struck out three times each.

The hitting star for the Phillies was outfielder Johnny Callison. Callison drove in four runs with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a three-run home run in the fifth inning off Cubs starter Bob Anderson (0-2). Mahaffey would finish the 1961 season at 11-19 with a 4.10 ERA.