Hollywood Beckons Dodger Duo


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 17, 1966) Was it a change in careers for two of baseball’s most celebrated pitchers? Or simply a temporary detour on the road to Cooperstown?

Don Drysdale (left) and Sandy Koufax missed the 1966 spring training as holdouts for a multi-year contract that would make them the highest-paid players in baseball. They signed one-year contracts just before the start of the 1966 season.

That’s what many Los Angeles Dodgers fans were wondering when it was announced today that pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale had signed with Paramount Pictures to appear in a movie project called “Warning Shot.”

The announcement came nearly a month after the Dodgers had opened spring training in Vero Beach, Florida without the game’s best righty-lefty starting tandem. Koufax and Drysdale had remained in Southern California, demanding a three-year contract that would pay each of them $167,000 per season. That salary would make them the highest-paid players in major league baseball.

Both pitchers were coming off excellent seasons in 1965, when the Dodgers won their second National League pennant and World Series championship in the past three seasons. Drysdale was 23-12 with a 2.77 ERA. He pitched 20 complete games and seven shutouts, both third best in the National League. Drysdale finished second in the league in innings pitched (308.1) and ninth in strikeouts (210).

Koufax was even better. He was 26-8 with a 2.04 earned run average, leading the major leagues in both wins and ERA, as well as complete games (27), innings pitched (335.1) and strikeouts (a major league record 382). He also became the first major league pitcher to throw four no-hitters, tossing a 1-0 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs on September 9.

Between them, Koufax and Drysdale had won three of the four Cy Young Awards given out from 1962-1965. (And Koufax would win it again in 1966.)

In 1965, Don Drysdale earned $80,000. The Dodgers paid Koufax $85,000. The highest-paid player in baseball going into the 1966 season was San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays, who had signed a two-year contract for $125,000 per season.

On March 30, 1966, as the Dodgers were flying west at the conclusion of spring training, the team announced that it had signed its pitchers to one-year contracts: Koufax for $125,000, Drysdale for $110,000. Neither player would have the opportunity to appear in Warning Shot, which debuted in 1967 starring David Janssen.

Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale had taken acting roles in television prior to their 1966 holdout. They never got the chance to appear in the movie Warning Shot. Instead, they led the Los Angeles Dodgers to their third National League pennant in four seasons.

It effectively marked the end of the acting career for Sandy Koufax. In 1959-1960, Koufax had appeared in four different television series, including 77 Sunset Strip (as a policeman) and Bourbon Street Beat (as a doorman). He made no “actor” appearances afterward, and retired as a player following the 1966 season.

Don Drysdale continued to make occasional guest appearances on television series, as himself or in a role. From 1957-1992, Drysdale made 17 different television appearances, in shows ranging from The Red Skelton Hour, The Rifleman, Leave It To Beaver and The Donna Reed Show (four different appearances) before the “strike” and The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch and The Greatest American Hero among others after. He was also a sports broadcaster from 1969 until his death in 1993.


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Commissioner Approves Double Cy Young Awards


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 1, 1967) Baseball Commissioner William D. Eckert today approved the plan to recognize a Cy Young Award winner for each major league, starting with the upcoming 1967 season.

Baseball Commissioner William D. Eckert approved adding a second Cy Young Award starting with the 1967 season. For the first time, there would be a Cy Young winner for each league.

First introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, the award recognizing baseball’s best pitcher in a season was named in honor of baseball’s winningest pitcher of all time, Cy Young, who had passed away the previous year.

The first recipient of the Cy Young Award was Brooklyn right-hander Don Newcombe, who was 27-7 for the Dodgers with a 3.06 ERA in 1956. From 1956 to 1966, there was only one Cy Young winner in major league baseball.

The last “major league” Cy Young winner was Sandy Koufax, the only pitcher to win more than one award during the single-winner era. (Koufax took the award in 1963, 1965 and 1966.) Koufax was also the first unanimous Cy Young Award recipient in 1963.

Pitching from 1890-1911, Cy Young won 511 major league games. He won 30 or more games in a season five times. He finished with a 2.63 career ERA.

Eckert attributed the “split” in the Cy Young Award to “fan request.” The first American League Cy Young winner was Boston’s Jim Lonborg, who went 22-7 in leading the Red Sox to the American League pennant in 1967. The National league winner that season was Mike McCormick, who was 22-10 for the San Francisco Giants.



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Cy Young Settles for a Tie


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(October 4, 1969) – For the first time, the American League today announced not one but two winners of the Cy Young Award for the league’s best pitcher.

Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles and Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers finished in a tie in the voting.  Each pitcher received 10 of the 24 votes cast by baseball writers. The other four votes were split between Jim Perry of the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore’s Dave McNally.

Denny McLain

Denny McLain

It was the first-ever tie in the Cy Young voting. The award was instituted in 1956 to recognize the best pitcher in the major leagues. Until 1967, only one pitcher received the Cy Young award. Starting in 1967, the award was presented to the best pitcher in each league.

The National League Cy Young award for 1969 would go to Tom Seaver of the New York Mets.

Cuellar was the ace of the Orioles staff in 1969. He went 23-11 with a 2.38 ERA over 290.2 innings pitched. In 39 starts, Cuellar pitched 18 complete games with five shutouts. In the 1969 World Series against the Mets, Cuellar was 1-0 in two starts with a 1.13 earned run average.

Mike Cuellar

Mike Cuellar

McLain was the first repeat Cy Young winner since Sandy Koufax in 1966. Coming off his Cy Young season in 1968, McLain was nearly as brilliant for the Tigers in 1969, going 24-9 with a 2.80 ERA. His 24 victories were tops in the American League. He also led the league in games started (41), innings pitched (325) and shutouts (9).




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Dodgers’ Broom Sweeps Yankees Done


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(October 6, 1963) The Los Angeles Dodgers today completed a four-game World Series sweep of the New York Yankees as Sandy Koufax won his second game of the Series, 2-1.


A six-hit pitching performance by Sandy Koufax clinched the 1963 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they beat the New York Yankees 2-1. In the Series, Koufax was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA to earn MVP honors.

Koufax, who was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the 1963 World Series, allowed one run on six hits with eight strikeouts. For the Series, Koufax struck out 23 Yankee batters in 18 innings pitched.

In Game Four, Frank Howard led the Dodger offense with a home run and a single, the only two hits Whitey Ford gave up. The Dodgers scored the decisive run in the seventh inning when New York first baseman Joe Pepitone lost a thrown ball in white-shirted crowd. Junior Gilliam scored on the error.

The Yankees scored their only run in the top of the seventh inning on Mickey Mantle’s solo home run. It was the fifteenth World Series home run of Mantle’s career, and his only RBI in this Series.





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L.A.’s Other Southpaw Ace


Glancing Back, and Remembering Claude Osteen

For nearly a decade, Claude Osteen was the best left-handed starting pitcher on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ staff, once a guy named Sandy Koufax had retired. He was a workhorse who averaged 261 innings pitched per season from 1963 to 1973. During that period, he pitched 121 complete games in 400 starts, with 36 shutouts and a combined earned run average of 3.13.

Claude Osteen was signed out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in 1957. He made three token appearances with the Reds in 1958, and then progressed spectacularly through the Reds’ farm system, winning 19 games in 1956 and eight in 1959 before being called up to Cincinnati. He did more sitting than pitching in 1960, and was returned to the minors in 1961, where he won 16 games before being traded to the Washington Senators.

Traded to the Washington Senators in 1961, Claude Osteen emerged as a solid starting pitcher and the team’s ace.

Traded to the Washington Senators in 1961, Claude Osteen emerged as a solid starting pitcher and the team’s ace.

In Washington, Osteen finally got the chance to pitch regularly. In fact, in 1962, his first season with the Senators, his 150.1 innings pitched were more than he pitched in five previous seasons with the Reds. Osteen was 8-13 with a 3.65 ERA in 1962 for the American League’s worst team.

He quickly established himself as the ace of the Senators’ staff, going 9-14 with a 3.35 ERA in 1963 and 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA in 1964. He pitched 257.0 innings that season with 13 complete games in 36 starts, all for a team that finished the season at 62-100.

Over the winter, Osteen was involved in a blockbuster deal that sent him and infielder John Kennedy to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Frank Howard, Ken McMullen, Phil Ortega, Dick Nen and Pete Richert. In his first season with the Dodgers, Osteen went 15-15 with a 2.79 ERA.  He was 1-1 in his two World Series starts with a 0.64 ERA.

Osteen flourished as the Dodgers’ number three starter behind Koufax and Don Drysdale. He followed up in 1966 with a 17-14 season on a 2.85 ERA. His only World Series appearance in 1966 – and the last of his career – was a three-hit, 1-0 loss to Wally Bunker and the Baltimore Orioles.

In nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Claude Osteen won 147 games with a 3.09 ERA. He pitched an average of 266 innings per season with the Dodgers.

When Koufax retired after the 1966 season, Osteen stepped up as the Dodgers’ ace left-hander. He won 17 games in 1967 and then went 12-18 (tied with Ray Sadecki for the league high in losses) on a 3.08 ERA. He bounced back to win 20 games in 1969, pitching 16 complete games and 321.0 innings with a 2.66 ERA. He also threw seven shutouts.

Osteen pitched four more seasons with the Dodgers, winning 66 games. His best season was 1972, when he went 20-11 with a 2.64 ERA and 14 complete games. After a 16-11 campaign in 1973, he was traded to the Houston Astros for outfielder Jim Wynn. He was 9-9 for Houston before being traded near the end of the 1974 season to the St. Louis Cardinals. He signed with the Chicago White Sox at the beginning of the 1975 season, and went 7-16 for Chicago and then retired.

In 18 major league seasons, Osteen compiled a 196-195 record with a 3.30 ERA. He was an All-Star three times.

Warren and Christy … Together at Last


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 8, 1963) Pitching a nine-hit complete game, Warren Spahn raised his season record to 20-5 as the Milwaukee Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

It was the thirteenth time in his career that Spahn won 20 or more games. That tied him with Christy Mathewson for the most 20-vistory seasons in the major leagues.

The 1963 season was the thirteenth 20-victory season in the career of Warren Spahn. It was the seventh straight season when Spahn led the National League in complete games.

The 1963 season was the thirteenth 20-victory season in the career of Warren Spahn. It was the seventh straight season when Spahn led the National League in complete games.

For the 42-year-old Spahn, it was his nineteenth complete game of the 1963 season. He would finish the season with 22 complete games, the most in the majors. Spahn recorded no strikeouts or walks during the game.

The Braves scored in the first inning when lead-off batter Lee Maye singled and advanced to second on an error by Phillies starter Dallas Green. Frank Bolling sacrificed Maye to third, and Maye scored on Hank Aaron’s groundout to Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor. It was Aaron’s 117th RBI of the season.

The Braves’ lead held up as Spahn pitched a shutout through six innings. Tony Gonzalez led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a triple and scored on a Roy Sievers sacrifice fly.

In the eighth inning, Green walked Eddie Mathews, who scored on Gene Oliver’s sixteenth home run. Spahn pitched a scoreless eighth inning and allowed a solo home run by Don Demeter in the ninth. Don Hoak doubled to put the potential tying run in scoring position, but Spahn retired Bob Oldis and Wes Covington to end the game.

The losing pitcher was Green (5-4).

Shown in an undated photo is Christy Christy Mathewson was the first major league pitcher to win 20 or more games 13 times. (Warren Spahn was the second.) Mathewson finished his career with 373 victories, third most in major league history (tied with Grover Cleveland Alexander) and 10 more than Spahn.

Christy Mathewson was the first major league pitcher to win 20 or more games 13 times. (Warren Spahn was the second.) Mathewson finished his career with 373 victories, third most in major league history (tied with Grover Cleveland Alexander) and 10 more than Spahn.

Spahn’s 1963 season was one of the best of his career, as he finished the season at 23-7 with a 2.60 earned run average. It was also his seventh straight season leading the National League in complete games, and he pitched seven shutouts, tying his season high and the second most in the league (behind 11 Sandy Koufax shutouts).

Though he tied Mathewson for most 20-win seasons, Spahn fell short of matching Mathewson’s 373 career wins. Spahn retired after the 1965 season with 363 victories, the most by any left-hander in baseball history.

O’s Ace


Glancing Back, and Remembering Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer’s Hall of Fame career – 19 seasons, all in a Baltimore Orioles uniform – got its start in the 1960s, and nearly ended there. While showing flashes of brilliance in his early major league career – including being the youngest pitcher to throw a World Series shutout – assorted back and arm problems nearly ended his career before he could establish himself as one of the game’s most durable and consistent starters during the 1970s.

At age 20, Jim Palmer became the youngest pitcher to throw a World Series shutout, blanking the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-0 in 1966.

At age 20, Jim Palmer became the youngest pitcher to throw a World Series shutout, blanking the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-0 in 1966.

Palmer was signed by the Orioles in 1963 at age 17 and made his debut with the Orioles two years later, going 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 27 appearances – all but six in relief. He moved into the Orioles’ starting rotation in 1966, going 15-10 with a 3.46 ERA. He pitched the game that clinched the American League pennant for the Orioles, and pitched the second game of the 1966 World Series, shutting out the Dodgers 6-0 and beating Sandy Koufax (in what would turn out to be his final major league appearance).

Arm miseries plagued Palmer over the next two seasons. He pitched only nine innings in 1967 and spent the entire 1968 season in minor league rehab, during which time Palmer reworked his pitching mechanics. He re-emerged in 1969 showing signs of the pitcher he would become: going 16-4 with a 2.34 ERA and six shutouts. He also pitched a no-hitter against the Oakland A’s.

During the 1970s Palmer hit his stride, a stride that would carry him to Cooperstown. He won 20 or more games in eight of the next nine seasons. He led the American League in ERA in 1973 (2.40) and in 1975 (2.09), when he led the majors in wins (23) and shutouts (10).

After struggling with injuries and control, Jim Palmer emerged as a dominant pitcher in 1969, going 16-4 with a 2.34 ERA. He would be a 20-game winner eight times during the 1970s.

After struggling with injuries and control, Jim Palmer emerged as a dominant pitcher in 1969, going 16-4 with a 2.34 ERA. He would be a 20-game winner eight times during the 1970s.

Palmer retired after being released by the Orioles in 1984 with a record of 268-152 and a career ERA of 2.86. He was an All-Star six times, and was the first American League pitcher to win three Cy Young Awards. During his entire major league career, he never gave up a grand slam home run, or even back-to-back home runs.

Palmer remains the Orioles’ all-time career leader in games pitched, innings pitched, games started, wins, shutouts and strikeouts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990, his first year of eligibility.




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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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Sandy Secures Second Cy


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(November 3, 1965) In a unanimous vote, Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax (26-8, 2.04, 382 strikeouts) today was named the Cy Young Award winner.

Sandy  Koufax was the first pitcher to win a second Cy  Young Award.

Sandy Koufax was the first pitcher to win a second Cy Young Award.

It was Koufax’s second Cy Young Award in the past three years. He became the first pitcher to win the honor more than once.

Koufax won the pitching “Triple Crown” by leading the major leagues in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He also led the majors in winning percentage (.765), complete games (27) and innings pitched (335.2). The National League’s Most Valuable player in 1963, Koufax finished second to Willie Mays in the MVP balloting for 1965.

On September 9, 1965, Koufax pitched his fourth career no-hitter, a 1-0 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs.

In the 1965 World Series, Koufax was 2-1 against the Minnesota Twins with a 0.38 ERA. He struck out 29 Twins batters in 24 innings pitched.






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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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