Glancing Back, and Remembering Larry Hisle
Larry Hisle was the kind of hitter who could lift a team onto his back and carry it through contention. In his prime, he averaged 25 home runs and 110 runs batted in per season. Continue reading
Glancing Back, and Remembering Lew Burdette
It’s natural to remember Lew Burdette as primarily a 1950s pitcher. That was his dominant decade. Teaming with Warren Spahn and Bob Buhl to fashion one of the most formidable starting rotations in the National League, Burdette was a commanding right-handed starter, using his power and control to win 120 games for the Milwaukee Braves between 1953 and 1959. Continue reading
This Week in 1960s Baseball
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.
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.
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).
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.
Lights Out: Chris Short Strikes Out 18 in a Game He Can’t Win
When: October 2, 1965
Where: Shea Stadium, New York, New York
Game Time: 4:29
By the 1964 season, Chris Short had arrived as a premier pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Over the next three seasons, he would be the second-best left-handed starter in the National League, looking up only to a guy named Sandy Koufax.
Short went 17-9 in 1964 and 18-11 in 1965. He was particularly outstanding during the last month of the 1965 season, making eight starts with two relief appearances, and going 4-2 with one save and a 1.75 ERA in those 10 appearances.
In two of his best games that month, he pitched a combined 24 scoreless innings … and didn’t get the win in either game. The first game was a nine-inning shutout performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he was one-upped by Bob Veale’s 10-inning one-hitter.
The other incredible Short performance occurred on the next-to-last day of the season.
It was the second game of a scheduled twi-night double header with the New York Mets. In the opener, Jim Bunning ran his season record to 19-9 with a two-hit, 6-0 shutout. Short started the second game, and continued the frustration for Mets’ bats.
In that game, Short blanked the Mets for 15 innings, striking out 18 Mets batters. The Mets’ only scoring threat came in the bottom of the third inning, when back-to-back doubles by Ron Hunt and Joe Christopher should have produced the game’s first run had it not been for great hustle and an outstanding throw by Tony Gonzalez (playing right field that day) that held Hunt at third base. With runners at second and third and one out, Short struck out Charlie Smith, walked Jim Hickman intentionally, and then caught Danny Napoleon looking to end the inning without a score.
Short simply outmatched the Mets lineup over the next 12 innings. Unfortunately, Mets rookie starter Rob Gardner, making only his fourth major league start, matched Short’s performance inning-for-inning, allowing just five hits in 15 scoreless frames. Both Short and Gardner were gone as the game entered the sixteenth inning, and the game was called for curfew after 18 scoreless innings and 4-1/2 hours of frustration.
The game was replayed the next day when the Phillies swept two games from the Mets to close out the season.
Short’s amazing last month of the 1965 season included five complete games but no shutouts. Had the Phillies scored at least one run in each of the two games when Short pitched enough scoreless innings to qualify for shutouts, he would have been a 20-game winner on the season, and would not have had to wait until 1966 to achieve that milestone.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Tony Gonzalez
With Willie Mays collecting one Gold Glove after another in center field, it was nearly impossible for any other National League center fielder to earn significant recognition, much less a Gold Glove, during the 1960s. That’s one of the reasons why Tony Gonzalez was one of the league’s under-rated outfielders when he patrolled center field for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1961 through 1968.
And while Gonzalez couldn’t match the offensive capabilities of his center field counterpart in San Francisco, he brought to the Phillies’ lineup enough pop in his bat to make his defense all that much more valuable.
A Cuban native, Gonzalez was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1957. During his rookie season in 1960, he was traded with Lee Walls to the Philadelphia Phillies for Fred Hopke, Harry Anderson and Wally Post. He hit .299 in 78 games for the Phillies in his initial season.
From 1961 through 1968, Gonzalez hit for a combined average of .295, including a career-best .339 in 1967. That average was second best in the major leagues, trailing only Roberto Clemente’s .357. Gonzalez hit .302 in 1962 with 20 home runs and 63 RBIs. He drove in 66 runs in 1963, his career high.
But Gonzalez’s real prowess showed up in the field, where his outstanding range and excellent throwing accuracy made his hitting a plus.
Right after the 1968 season, the San Diego Padres made Gonzalez their thirty-seventh selection in the expansion draft. He started the season with San Diego, and then was traded to the Atlanta Braves in June, hitting .294 in 89 games with the Braves (with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs). He batted .265 as the Braves’ starting center fielder in 1970 until he was purchased by the California Angels. He hit .245 for the Angels in 1971, his final season in the majors.
He retired after 12 major league seasons with 1,485 hits and a .286 career batting average. Surprisingly, he was never selected for the National League All-Star team.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Wally Post
In the mid-1950s, Wally Post was one of the most feared power hitters in the National League. He also possessed one of the strongest throwing arms among the league’s right fielders. As Post entered the 1960s, he was clearly on the downside of his 15-year career. Yet despite diminishing power totals, he remained a dangerous bat in the middle of a lineup.
Post was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1946 (at age 16) and joined the team for the first time at the end of the 1949 season. He spent most of the next four seasons in the minors, and blasted 33 home runs with 120 RBIs for Indianapolis in the American Association in 1953, earning him a shot at a full-time position with the Reds.
He took full advantage of that opportunity. In his rookie season of 1954, Post batted .255 with 18 home runs and 83 runs batted in. He was even better in 1955, batting .309 with 40 home runs and 109 RBIs. He also scored 116 runs that season.
He had another powerful season in 1956, hitting 36 home runs with 83 RBIs. But his production slipped in 1957 to 20 home runs and 74 RBIs. In the off-season he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Harvey Haddix. Post hit only 12 home runs with 62 RBIs for the Phillies in 1958, but bounced back in 1959 with 22 homers and 94 runs batted in.
In June of 1960, Post was traded back to the Reds in a deal that brought Tony Gonzalez and Lee Walls to Philadelphia. He batted .281 with 17 home runs and 38 RBIs in the second half of the season, and in 1961 he played an important role in the Reds’ successful pennant drive, batting .294 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs. Post also batted .333 in the 1961 World Series, with a home run and two RBIs.
Post hit 17 home runs in 1962, his last full season in the major leagues. He appeared in only 26 games combined for the Reds and the Minnesota Twins in 1963, and signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians for 1964. He played in only five games for the Indians before being released and retiring at age 34.
Post played for 15 seasons in the big leagues, with a career batting average of .266 and a .485 career slugging average. He had 1,064 hits and 210 home runs with 699 RBIs.
Lights Out: Juan Marichal Begins His Hall of Fame Career with a One-Hit Masterpiece
When: July 19, 1960
Where: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
Game Time: 2:07
Granted: the Phillies-Giants game on July 19, 1960 would not have much impact on that season’s pennant race. The Philadelphia Phillies (34-51) started the game in seventh place, 17 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. The San Francisco Giants (42-40) were in fifth place, 7.5 games out of first. Neither team would finish the season any closer to first place.
While not significant in the 1960 pennant race, the July 19 game between Philadelphia and San Francisco was significant in baseball history … as the dazzling debut of future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal.
Marichal started the game by striking out Phillies shortstop Ruben Amaro. He then retired Tony Taylor and Johnny Callison for a perfect first inning. He retired the Phillies in order again in the second inning, and the third. Marichal’s pitching stayed perfect through the sixth inning … 18 Phillies batters, 18 Phillies outs.
That perfect game evaporated in the seventh inning. After striking out Amaro, Marichal allowed his first base runner of the game as Taylor reached first on an error by Giants shortstop Eddie Bressoud. A wild pitch that advanced Taylor to second base was followed by a walk to first baseman Pancho Herrera. The runners were stranded as Joe Morgan flied out to Willie Mays in center field.
Meanwhile, the Giants had already given Marichal all the runs he would need. In the second inning, an RBI single by third baseman Jim Davenport scored Orlando Cepeda. Willie Kirkland’s single in the fifth inning drove in Mays with the game’s second and final run.
Marichal retired the first two batters in the eighth inning before allowing a single by pinch hitter Clay Dalrymple. Tony Gonzalez fouled out to end the inning with Dalrymple still at first. Then Marichal retired the Phillies in order in the ninth.
That’s how to start a baseball career: Retire the first 17 batters you face, and finish the game with a one-hit shutout, 12 strikeouts and only one walk. Phillies starter John Buzhardt deserved better in the loss, allowing only two runs over seven innings. But when you’re pitching against the man who would win more games in the 1960s than any other major league pitcher, you’d better bring Hall of Fame stuff.