This Week in 1960s Baseball
This Week in 1960s Baseball
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.
This Week in 1960s Baseball …
(August 26, 1962) The Baltimore Orioles today completed a five-game sweep of the New York Yankees when right-hander Robin Roberts, released by New York during the first week of the season, beat Whitey Ford at Memorial Stadium, 2-1.
Baltimore’s only runs came from solo home runs off the bats of third baseman Brooks Robinson and first baseman Jim Gentile. The Yankees scored in the bottom of the second inning off a bases-empty home run by shortstop Tony Kubek.
Roberts (9-6) allowed only five hits in going the distance for the Orioles. The future Hall of Famer would finish the season at 10-9 with a 2.78 ERA.
Ford (13-7) allowed only seven hits in seven innings of work for the hard-luck loss. He would finish the 1962 season at 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA.
It was the fifth consecutive victory for the fifth-place Orioles, and it was the sixth straight loss for the Yankees, who still maintained a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins.
New York would finish the season 96-66, claiming its third consecutive American League pennant.
This Week in 1960s Baseball
Mantle’s game-winning home run was his second of the day and seventh of the season. Mantle drove in four runs to give him 15 RBIs on the young season.
Two Yankee batters hit their first home runs of the 1961 season. Shortstop Tony Kubek hit a solo home run off Detroit starter Don Mossi in the second inning. In the fifth inning, Yankee right fielder Roger Maris hit his first home run of the season off Paul Foytack.
Maris had struggled at the plate during the Yankees first 10 games of the season. He came into this game batting only .161 with no home runs and only one run batted in. His bat would warm up with the weather, hitting 11 home runs in May and 15 in June on his way to a record 61 by season’s end, eclipsing Babe Ruth’s single-season record.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Fritz Peterson
When long-time Yankee ace Whitey Ford retired in May of 1967, his southpaw replacement was already on the roster. Fritz Peterson stepped into Whitey’s place in the Yankees’ rotation and provided solid starting pitching for the team until he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1974.
Peterson was signed by the New York Yankees in 1963 and advanced steadily through the Yankees’ farm system until his debut in New York in 1966. He was 12-11 for the Yankees in his rookie season, posting a 3.31 ERA and two shutouts for a team that finished last in the American League. He struggled in his second season, starting out 0-8 with a 4.35 ERA over the first three months of the 1967 season before finishing at 8-14 with a 3.47 ERA.
Peterson bounced back in 1968 to go 12-11 with a 2.63 ERA, and then went 17-16 in 1969, leading all Yankee starters with a 2.55 ERA. He had his best season in 1970, going 20-11 with a 2.90 ERA. He won 15 games in 1971 and 17 games in 1972. From 1968 through 1972, Peterson was 81-66 for the Yankees with a 2.88 ERA. In each of those seasons, he posted the lowest walk ratio in the American League (1.4 walks per nine innings over that five-year period).
After an 8-15 season in 1973, he was traded with Fred Beene, Tom Buskey and Steve Kline to the Cleveland Indians for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw. He went 9-14 for the Indians in 1974 and bounced back in 1975 for a 14-8 season with a 3.94 ERA. He was 1-3 combined for Cleveland and the Texas Rangers in 1976, and retired after that season.
Peterson was 109-106 with a 3.10 ERA in nine seasons with the Yankees. His career totals were 133-131 with a 3.30 ERA in 11 seasons. He was named to the American League All-Star team in 1970.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Bill Stafford
In the early 1960s, as the New York Yankees were chalking up one American League pennant after another, the leader of the Yankees’ pitching staff was clearly Whitey Ford. But in 1961 and 1962, the Yankees’ starting rotation followed up with two right-handers who piled up a bunch of innings and wins to complement Ford’s Hall of Fame ability. Those two pitchers were Ralph Terry and Bill Stafford.
Stafford was signed by the Yankees out of high school in 1957. He was called up to the Yankees at the end of the 1960 season, going 3-1 in eight starts, with two complete games, one of them a shutout, and a 2.25 ERA. He appeared twice during the 1960 World Series with no decisions. He pitched five scoreless relief innings in Game Five.
In 1961, Stafford was thrust into the Yankees’ starting rotation, going 14-9 with three shutouts. His 2.68 ERA was second best in the league (to Dick Donovan’s 2.40).
Stafford followed up in 1962 with another 14-9 record on a 3.67 ERA. He had career highs in starts (33), innings pitched (213.1) and strikeouts (109). He was also the starting pitcher of Game Three of the 1962 World Series. Stafford out-dueled the Giants’ Billy Pierce 3-2 with a four-hit, complete game performance. It would be the last World Series appearance of his career.
Stafford won 31 games over his first two-plus seasons with the Yankees. He would win only 12 more games in his career. He injured his rotator cuff early in the 1963 season, and his record slipped to 4-8, with half of his appearances coming out of the bullpen. In 1964 he was 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA, but made only one start. As a reliever that season, he finished 12 games with four saves.
Stafford returned to a starter’s role in 1965, the first year in the decade that the Yankees wouldn’t win the American League pennant. He finished the year 3-8 with a 3.56 ERA. In the off-season, he was traded with Gil Blanco and Roger Repoz to the Kansas City Athletics for Billy Bryan and Fred Talbot.
Over the next two seasons with the A’s, Stafford would appear in only 23 games, going 0-5 with a 4.04 ERA. He retired in 1967 at age 27 with a career record of 43-40.
Glancing Back, and Remembering Al Downing
When he first came to the big leagues, Al Downing lived and died on the heat of his often-unhittable fastball. And like so many pitchers who experience the inevitable decline in velocity that comes with age, Downing learned to evolve from thrower to pitcher.
But while he was a New York Yankee, what a thrower he was.
A New Jersey native, Downing was signed by the Yankees in 1961 off the campus of Rider University. By 1963, he had worked his way into the Yankees’ starting rotation, an important addition to an already formidable pitching staff. In his rookie season, Downing went 13-5 with a 2.56 ERA. On a Yankees staff that featured Whitey Ford (24-7), Jim Bouton (21-7) and Ralph Terry (17-15), Downing finished second on the staff in shutouts (four) and strikeouts (171), while leading the team (and the league) in strikeouts per nine innings (8.8). He was the starter (and loser) in Game Two of the 1963 World Series, as the Yankees were shut out by Johnny Podres and the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0. (The Dodgers took the 1963 World Series in four games.)
Downing won 13 games in 1964, while leading the American League in strikeouts (217) and walks (120). As the Yankees’ fortunes tumbled, so did Downing’s won-lost record: to 12-14 in 1965 and 10-11 in 1966. He rebounded to a 14-10 record in 1966 with a 2.63 ERA, 10 complete games and four shutouts. But pitching 200-plus innings per season took its toll on Downing the flame-thrower, and he was limited to a combined record of 10-8 over the next two seasons.
Following the 1968 season, Downing was traded by the Yankees with Frank Fernandez to the Oakland Athletics for Danny Cater and Ossie Chavarria. His stay in Oakland lasted only two months, and he was traded again, this time with Tito Francona, to the Milwaukee Brewers for Steve Hovley. His combined record for both teams was 5-13 with a 3.52 ERA. The Brewers traded Downing to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Andy Kosco.
With the Dodgers, Downing had the best season of his career in 1971. He went 20-9 with a 2.68 ERA. He pitched 12 complete games with five shutouts, the most in the National League. He tied with Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver for second in wins (Fergie Jenkins won 24 for the Cubs). And he finished third in the Cy Young voting (behind Jenkins and Seaver). He was named Comeback Player of the Year for the National League.
Downing pitched six more seasons for the Dodgers, compiling a 26-28 record over that period. He retired during the 1977 season with a career record of 123-107.
This Week in 1960s Baseball
Tresh hit a two-run homer in the first inning to chase White Sox starter Juan Pizarro. He followed up with home runs in the third and fifth innings against reliever Bruce Howard. Tresh finished the game with four hits in five at-bats with five RBIs.
Yankee left-hander Al Downing pitched the three-hit shutout for New York, striking out nine White Sox batters. Third baseman Clete Boyer and catcher Doc Edwards each added a pair of RBIs for the Yankees.
Tresh went two for three in the first game, with a double and a walk, scoring two runs and driving in another. For the day, Tresh batted six for eight with six RBIs. He would finish the 1965 season with a .279 batting average, 26 home runs and 74 RBIs.
It would also be the season when he would win his only Gold Glove.