Four in a Row

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Art Shamsky

Art Shamsky played eight seasons in the major leagues for four different teams. While most of his success as a hitter came while he was playing with the New York Mets, his shining moment as a major leaguer occurred during his second season, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

St. Louis born and raised, Shamsky played baseball at the University of Missouri Columbia until he was signed by the Reds in 1959. He made the Reds’ squad in 1965, batting .260 as a part-time player.

In 1966, playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Art Shamsky hit three home runs in a game that he didn’t enter until the eighth inning (as a defensive replacement). He hit a fourth consecutive home run in his next at-bat – two days later as a pinch hitter.

He had a very productive year for the Reds in 1966, despite hitting only .231. He hit 21 home runs with 47 RBIs, while scoring 41 runs, all in only 234 at-bats. Yet what Shamsky did on August 12 and 14 of 1966 has never been topped in major league history.

With the Reds playing the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 12, Shamsky started the game on the bench and entered it in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in a double switch. He came to bat in the bottom of the eighth and hit a two-run homer off Al McBean to put the Reds on top 8-7.

The Pirates tied the game in the ninth inning and took the lead in the tenth. Shamsky came to bat in the bottom of the tenth and homered off Roy Face to tie the game. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, with Pittsburgh on top 11-9, Shamsky blasted a two-run home run off Billy O’Dell to tie the game again. Eventually, the Pirates won the game 14-11 in 13 innings. Shamsky remains the only major leaguer to hit three home runs in a game he didn’t start.

But he wasn’t done. Two days later, in his next at-bat, Shamsky hit a two-run pinch homer to put the Reds ahead in the seventh inning. That was four home runs in four consecutive at-bats, tying a record that is shared by Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Hank Greenberg, Ralph Kiner and Stan Musial.

By the way, in his next at-bat, Shamsky only singled.

He hit only .197 for the Reds in 1967 and was traded to the Mets for Bob Johnson. Platooned with Ron Swoboda, he batted .300 during the “miracle” season of 1969, with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. From 1968 through 1970, Shamsky batted .277 for the Mets while averaging 12 home runs and 48 RBIs per season.

As a part-time player, Art Shamsky made important contributions to the 1969 New York Mets. He batted .300 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs … in only 303 at-bats.

Shamsky was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals but was released just prior to the start of the 1972 season. He split that season between the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics, playing a combined 23 games with 23 at-bats. He retired at age 30 after the 1972 season.

Shamsky finished his eight-season major league career with 426 hits and a .253 batting average. He hit 68 home runs.

Four are still in the record book.

 

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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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What’s the Man Really Worth?

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(January 21, 1960) It’s something you haven’t seen in a half-century … and will likely never see again.

The first National League player to make $100,000 in a season, Stan Musial believed he was being overpaid and insisted on a $20,000 pay cut for the 1960 season.

Stan “The Man” Musial today told the St. Louis Cardinals that he was being overpaid and insisted on a $20,000 pay cut for the 1960 season.

Musial believed that he actually was overpaid for 1957 (.351 for his seventh National League batting title, 29 home runs, 102 RBIs) and 1958 (.337, 17 home runs, 62 RBIs), as well as for his 1959 performance (.255, 14 home runs, 44 RBIs in only 114 games).

In 1958, Musial became the first National League player to sign a contract for $100,000. But his poor (for Musial) productivity in 1959 compelled the 20-time All-Star to ask for the pay cut. His hitting numbers rebounded somewhat in 1960 (.275, 17 home run

Even as his batting skills may have been on the decline in the 1960s, you couldn’t knock Musial’s integrity.

No wonder he was “The Man.”

 

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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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Ott’s out … Musial’s In

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 25, 1962) At Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, Stan Musial today surpassed New York Giants legend Mel Ott as the National League’s all-time RBI leader.

Mel Ott

Mel Ott

Stan the Man’s two-run home run off Don Drysdale (18-4) gave the Cardinals’ outfielder 1,862 career runs batted in with the Redbirds, who lost to the Dodgers 5-2.

It was Musial’s 14th home run and 51st RBI on the season. He would finish the season – the next to last in his 22-year career – hitting a robust .330 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs … not bad for age 41.

The home run that Drysdale surrendered to Musial was one of 21 he would serve up that season. Otherwise, 1962 turned out pretty well for Dandy Don. He finished the season at 25-9 with a 2.83 ERA and led the majors in games started (41) and innings pitched (314.1)

He also collected the Cy Young award that season.

Ott remains the Giants’ all-time leader in RBIs for a season (151 in 1929) and a career. His 1,860 RBIs are one ahead of Willie Mays.

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Let the Trading Begin

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(January 3, 1961) The Kansas City Athletics today announced that Frank ‘Trader’ Lane had been named the team’s the general manager and executive vice president.

Frank Lane

Frank Lane

Lane had been the general manager for the Cleveland Indians since November of 1957. During his three seasons at the helm of the Cleveland franchise, he guided the Tribe to a pair of fourth-place finishes and a second-place finish in 1959. He also engineered one of the most infamous trades in Indians’ history, dealing American League home run champion and fan favorite Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn after the 1959 season.

He was known as “Trader Lane” for his propensity to deal star players. During his career as a baseball executive (that included tours with the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals before Cleveland), Lane made over 200 trades that included players such as Jim Busby, Norm Cash, Roger Maris, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, and Early Wynn. He reportedly tried to trade Stan Musial, but Cardinals’ owner August Busch nixed the deal.

While in Cleveland, Lane once even traded managers – Joe Gordon for Detroit Tigers skipper Jimmy Dykes.

Lane would not have much time to make trades for the A’s. Lane was ousted from his position in August 1961 as a result of a lingering feud with Kansas City owner Charles Finley. The dispute resulted in a lawsuit that would not be settled until 1965.

 

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Man-Sized Farewell

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball …

(September 29, 1963) The final game of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1963 season was also the final game in the illustrious career of Stan Musial.

In his final major league at-bat, Stan Musial singled for hit number 3,630, the most in National League history.

In his final major league at-bat, Stan Musial singled for hit number 3,630, the most in National League history.

And he made it a “man-sized” farewell.

Musial got two hits in three at-bats during the Cardinals’ 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Dal Maxvill doubled with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth inning to drive home the game-winning run.

Musial singled in the fourth and sixth innings. His base hit in the sixth inning off Reds starter Jim Maloney drove in Curt Flood with the game’s first run. It was Musial’s last appearance in a major league game, as Gary Kolb came into the game to run for him. Kolb later scored on a Charley James sacrifice fly to put the Cardinals ahead 2-0.

The Reds tied the score when Cincinnati shortstop Leo Cardenas singled to drive in two runs with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.

Maloney struck out 11 Cardinal batters in the seven innings he worked. The Cardinals’ starting pitcher. Bob Gibson, also struck out 11 batters in nine innings.

Ernie Broglio (18-8) pitched the final three innings for the Cardinals to pick up the win. The losing pitcher was Joey Jay (7-18).

Musial’s two hits gave him 3,630 for his career, the most ever by a National League hitter and second all-time to Ty Cobb’s 4,189 hits. His run batted in was number 1,951 for his career, also the most by a National Leaguer.

And Musial’s two hits gave him 1,815 career hits at home, exactly the same as the number of career hits he collected on the road. Stan the Man would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, his first year of eligibility.

The One. The Only. The Man.

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Stan Musial

3-Time National League MVP Stan Musial

3-Time National League MVP Stan Musial

For more than two decades, Stan Musial epitomized consistent excellence for the St. Louis Cardinals, the only major league team he ever played for. Musial hit for average (with seven batting titles to his credit), hit for power (with 475 career home runs), drove in runs (with 100 or more RBIs in 10 different seasons), and drove National League pitchers nutty. He played for three World Series champions, and won the National League Most Valuable Player award three times.

Musial started his professional baseball career as a pitcher, signed by the  Cardinals while still in high school in 1938. He suffered a shoulder injury in the minors that ended his career as a pitcher and nearly ended his baseball career. But he made his debut in St. Louis as a 20-year-old outfielder in 1941, batting .426 over the last 12 games of that season. In his 1942 rookie season, he batted .315 with 10 home runs and 72 RBIs. He followed up in 1943 by hitting a league-leading .357, also leading the National League in hits (220), doubles (48) and triples (20). That performance earned him his first MVP award. He batted .347 in 1944, finishing second to Brooklyn’s Dixie Walker in hitting.

Musial missed the 1945 campaign by serving a tour in the Navy, and returned in 1946 to claim his second batting title (.365) and second MVP, while leading the Cardinals to their third World Series championship in five years. He won his third batting title in 1948 with a career-best .376 average. He led the NL again in hits (230), doubles (46), triples (18), runs batted in (131) and slugging percentage (.450). He also won his third Most Valuable Player award in five years.

As dominant as Musial was in the 1940s, he performed at nearly the same consistently high level throughout the 1950s. He won four more batting titles and hit for a combined .330 during the 1950s, averaging 40 doubles, 30 home runs and 108 RBIs per season.

Stan Musial won 7 batting titles while collecting 3,630 hits.

Stan Musial won 7 batting titles while collecting 3,630 hits.

He played four seasons into the 1960s, hitting .330 in 1962 (at age 41) with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs. In 1963, Musial batted .255 in his final campaign, the lowest batting average of his 22-season career. He finished with 3,630 hits – amazingly, with identical hit totals of 1,815 at home and on the road. He finished with a career batting average of .331, and held or shared 17 major league records, 29 National League records and nine All-Star Game records (including the most All-Star appearances, tied with Willie Mays at 24).

Musial was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

 

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