Sometimes Size Counts

 

Homer Happy: Frank Howard

Frank Howard made opposing pitchers cringe. At six-foot-seven and 255 pounds, he was an imposing presence at the plate. Not even the higher mound (15 inches high until 1969) gave pitchers as much of an advantage. At his height, he could still nearly look them in the eye. Continue reading

Hero to the Hapless

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Jack Fisher

Right-hander Jack Fisher was 86-139 during an 11-year major league career. He played for five different teams, and pitched his best for baseball’s worst team ever, the New York Mets of the early 1960s.

Jack Fisher was part of the young pitching staff that propelled the Baltimore Orioles to pennant contention in the early 1960s. As a starter-reliever for the Orioles in 1960, Fisher was 12-11 with a 3.41 ERA … the last winning season of his career.

Jack Fisher was part of the young pitching staff that propelled the Baltimore Orioles to pennant contention in the early 1960s. As a starter-reliever for the Orioles in 1960, Fisher was 12-11 with a 3.41 ERA … the last winning season of his career.

Nicknamed “Fat Jack” by Hall of Fame pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, Fisher was a large man who could throw hard and could pile up quality innings, a strength that made him more valuable than his won-lost record alone. Fisher was a good enough pitcher to be in the position to lose a lot of games. The teams he pitched for were bad enough to hang losses on him despite his talent and competitive grit.

Fisher signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 1957 and made his major league debut at age 20 in 1959, going 1-6 for the Orioles. Fisher won 12 games for the Orioles in 1960 and 10 in 1961. Because he threw hard, Fisher was susceptible to giving up home runs, and he gave up two of the most famous home runs of the early 1960s. He was on the mound in Boston for Ted Williams’ last at-bat in 1960, serving up the home run pitch that launched the Splendid Splinter into retirement. A year later, it was a Fisher pitch that Roger Maris sent into the seats for home run number 60, tying Babe Ruth’s single-season record.

Jack Fisher struggled through four seasons with the New York Mets, compiling a record of 38-73 with a combined 4.12 ERA.

Jack Fisher struggled through four seasons with the New York Mets, compiling a record of 38-73 with a combined 4.12 ERA.

Following a 7-9 1962 season, Fisher was traded to the San Francisco Giants in the deal that brought Mike McCormick and Stu Miller to Baltimore. After going 6-10 for the Giants in 1963, he was drafted by the New York Mets and was a starter for those woeful Mets teams over the next four seasons, going a combined 38-73. He led all National League pitchers in losses in 1965 (8-24) and 1967 (9-18).

The Mets dealt Fisher to the Chicago White Sox in December of 1967 in a six-player deal that brought Tommie Agee and Al Weis to New York. Fisher spent one season each with the White Sox (8-13 with a 2.99 ERA in 1968) and with the Cincinnati Reds (4-4 in 1969) before retiring. His career earned run average of 4.06 would have made him a winner with a lot of teams, but not with the Mets and White Sox of the 1960s.

Jack Fisher gave up two of the most famous home runs of the early 1960s: Ted Williams’ “farewell” home run in 1960, and Roger Maris’ 60th in 1961.

Jack Fisher gave up two of the most famous home runs of the early 1960s: Ted Williams’ “farewell” home run in 1960, and Roger Maris’ 60th in 1961.

 

Top_10_Pitchers_Cover

 

Free Report

Click Here for Instant Download

Yankees Edge Red Sox 4-3 to Clinch Pennant

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(September 25, 1960) After one year’s absence from the World Series in 1959, the New York Yankees clinched a return ticket to the Fall Classic with a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox that made the Yankees the American League champions for 1960.

<a rel=

Luis Arroyo stopped the ninth inning rally that clinched the 1960 pennant for the New York Yankees.

The Yankees broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the third inning, including a two-RBI single by Roger Maris. The Red Sox came back in the bottom of the same inning, when a single by Vic Wertz scored Pumpsie Green and Willie Tasby. Ted Williams was thrown out at home to end the inning.

The Yankees scored again in the top of the sixth inning when Yankee starting pitcher Ralph Terry singled in shortstop Tony Kubek. Terry (10-8) shut down the Red Sox through the eighth inning.

Boston rallied in the bottom of the ninth. With two runners on and two outs, Frank Malzone singled to center field to score Tasby, chasing Terry out of a complete game. The Yankees brought in their relief ace, Luis Arroyo, who got Pete Runnels to pop out to second baseman Bobby Richardson. That pennant-clinching out gave Arroyo his sixth save for that season.

It also gave Yankees manager Casey Stengel his tenth – and last – pennant as a manager.

The Year Yaz and Boston Would Not Be Denied

 

Career Year: Carl Yastrzemski – 1967

In his first six seasons (1961-1966), Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski was well on his way to building the kind of credentials that can land a player on a plaque in Cooperstown. He already had won a batting title (1963), had led the American League in doubles three times, and had won his first two Gold Gloves (with five more to come).

Replacing the great <a rel=

Ted Williams in left field, Carl Yastrzemski had put together a solid six seasons unfazed by the Splendid Splinter’s shadow. But his best was yet to come.

He had weathered intense  and uncompromising media and fan pressure by replacing Ted Williams in left field, and had even had an occasion when Carroll Hardy pinch hit for him (just as Hardy had once pinch hit for Williams – the only player ever to do so).

But Williams had brought an American League pennant to Boston two decades earlier, something Yastrzemski had not yet accomplished. With a Red Sox team that had been able to finish no higher than sixth in his career, it would take a super-human effort on Yastrzemski’s part to bring a World Series to Boston in 1967.

And that’s what he delivered.

He turned the 1967 season into his personal showcase, just as Frank Robinson had done the season before in winning the Triple Crown. Yastrzemski played like a man possessed, unfazed by the weight of the team on his back.

In the last 12 games of the 1967 season, Carl Yastrzemski hit five home runs, scored 14 runs and drove in 16. He had seven hits and six RBIs in the final two pennant-clinching games against the Minnesota Twins.

In the last 12 games of the 1967 season, Carl Yastrzemski hit five home runs, scored 14 runs and drove in 16. He had seven hits and six RBIs in the final two pennant-clinching games against the Minnesota Twins.

At the All-Star break, Yastrzemski was batting .324 with 19 home runs and 56 runs batted in. By the end of August, he was batting .308 with 35 home runs and 95 RBIs (already a new career high). And incredibly, the Red Sox – who had finished ninth in 1966 – were still in contention. In fact, Boston was locked in a four-team pennant race that wouldn’t be decided until the final day of the season.

Yastrzemski had a magnificent September, batting .417 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in 27 games, almost single-handedly propelling the Red Sox to the pennant. In the last 12 games of the season, he hit five home runs, scored 14 runs and drove in 16. In the last two “must win” games against the Minnesota Twins, Yastrzemski went seven for eight with six RBIs.

During the 1967 World Series, which the St. Louis Cardinals won in seven games, Yastrzemski continued his offensive onslaught, batting .400 with three home runs.

In the last 12 games of the 1967 season, Carl Yastrzemski hit five home runs, scored 14 runs and drove in 16. He had seven hits and six RBIs in the final two pennant-clinching games against the Minnesota Twins.

Carl Yastrzemski’s performance in 1967 earned him a Triple Crown and the Most Valuable Player award.

When the regular season had ended, Yastrzemski was at the top of the league in nearly every offensive category: hits (189), runs (112), home runs (44, tied with Minnesota’s Harmon Killebrew), RBIs (121), total bases (360), slugging percentage (.622) and batting average (.326). His Triple Crown leadership in home runs, RBIs and batting average earned Yaz the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

Red Sox Announce Williams’ Replacement

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 19, 1961) The Boston Red Sox today announced that rookie Carl Yastrzemski will start the regular season in left field, succeeding the legendary Ted Williams.

The Boston Red Sox replaced one Hall of Fame player with another when Carl Yastrzemski succeeded Ted Williams as the team’s starting left fielder.

The Boston Red Sox replaced one Hall of Fame player with another when Carl Yastrzemski succeeded Ted Williams as the team’s starting left fielder.

Williams closed out his Hall of Fame career in Boston by hitting a home run in his last major league at-bat.

Yastrzemski joined the Red Sox after two seasons in the Boston farm system, hitting a combined .356 over those two seasons. As a rookie, he would hit .266 in 1961 with 11 home runs and 80 RBIs. By 1963, he would win the first of three batting titles during the 1960s.

As a rookie in 1961, Carl Yastrzemski batted .266 with 11 home runs and 80 RBIs. He would finish his 23-year career in Boston with 3,419 hits – ninth most all-time.

As a rookie in 1961, Carl Yastrzemski batted .266 with 11 home runs and 80 RBIs. He would finish his 23-year career in Boston with 3,419 hits – ninth most all-time.

Yastrzemski would remain a fixture in the Red Sox’s lineup for the next 23 years and be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Pinch Hitter to the Stars

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Carroll Hardy

Outfielder Carroll Hardy has the distinction of being the only player to pinch-hit for both Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams. On September 20, 1960, in Williams’ final season, the Hall of Famer fouled a batted ball off his foot, and left the game. Hardy finished the at-bat, making him officially Williams’ pinch hitter. Hardy lined into a double play.

Boston Red Sox Outfielder Carroll Hardy

Boston Red Sox Outfielder Carroll Hardy

Batting for Yastrzemski in May of 1961, Hardy bunted for a single in the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees. He moved to second on a walk to Jackie Jensen and scored on Frank Malzone‘s single to center field. Hardy played left field in the ninth inning and batted again in the bottom of the ninth. He reached first on an error by Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek.

Hardy played eight seasons in the major leagues with Boston, Cleveland, Houston and Minnesota. He had a career batting average of .225, with a career best .263 in 1961.

One final note about Carroll Hardy’s career as a pinch hitter: as a member of the Cleveland Indians, Hardy also pinch hit for Roger Maris in 1958, hitting a home run off Billy Pierce.

A Third Sacker with Sock

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Frank Malzone

For a decade from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s, Frank Malzone gave the Boston Red Sox solid play at third base while providing batting average and power in the middle of the Red Sox batting order. He was a Boston institution whose hitting contributions were generally under-valued as he played in the shadows of future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

Six-time All-Star third baseman for the Boston Red Sox

Six-time All-Star third baseman for the Boston Red Sox

Born in the Bronx, Malzone was signed by the Red Sox in 1947. After serving his minor league apprenticeship and two years of military service, he played his first full season with Boston in 1957, hitting .292 with 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 103 runs batted in. He was runner-up to Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek for Rookie of the Year honors. He followed that performance by batting .295 in 1958 with 15 home runs and 87 RBIs, and hit .280 in 1959 with 19 homers and 92 RBIs. His 34 doubles were second in the American League (to Harvey Kuenn of the Detroit Tigers).

From 1960 through 1963, Malzone was the model of consistency for the Red Sox, batting .278 and averaging 16 home runs and 83 RBIs per season. His best season in the 1960s came in 1962, when he batted .283 with 21 home runs and 95 RBIs.

There was a sharp decline in Malzone’s power numbers after the 1963 season. In 1965, he was released by the Red Sox and signed with the California Angels. He appeared in 82 games with the Angels in 1966, hitting .206 with 2 home runs and 12 RBIs. He retired following the 1966 season.

In 12 big league seasons, Malzone batted .274 with 1,486 hits, including 239 doubles and 133 home runs. He was named to the American League All-Star team six times, and was a three-time Gold Glove winner.