This Week in 1960s Baseball
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. Continue reading
Lights Out: Stan Musial Demolishes New York Mets’ Pitching
When: July 8, 1962
Where: Polo Grounds, New York, New York
Game Time: 2:47
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. Continue reading
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.
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.”
When: June 18, 1962
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Game Time: 2:18
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.
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.
This Week in 1960s Baseball
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.
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.
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.
This Week in 1960s Baseball …
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.
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.
Glancing Back, and Remembering 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.
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.