Hollywood Beckons Dodger Duo


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 17, 1966) Was it a change in careers for two of baseball’s most celebrated pitchers? Or simply a temporary detour on the road to Cooperstown?

Don Drysdale (left) and Sandy Koufax missed the 1966 spring training as holdouts for a multi-year contract that would make them the highest-paid players in baseball. They signed one-year contracts just before the start of the 1966 season.

That’s what many Los Angeles Dodgers fans were wondering when it was announced today that pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale had signed with Paramount Pictures to appear in a movie project called “Warning Shot.”

The announcement came nearly a month after the Dodgers had opened spring training in Vero Beach, Florida without the game’s best righty-lefty starting tandem. Koufax and Drysdale had remained in Southern California, demanding a three-year contract that would pay each of them $167,000 per season. That salary would make them the highest-paid players in major league baseball.

Both pitchers were coming off excellent seasons in 1965, when the Dodgers won their second National League pennant and World Series championship in the past three seasons. Drysdale was 23-12 with a 2.77 ERA. He pitched 20 complete games and seven shutouts, both third best in the National League. Drysdale finished second in the league in innings pitched (308.1) and ninth in strikeouts (210).

Koufax was even better. He was 26-8 with a 2.04 earned run average, leading the major leagues in both wins and ERA, as well as complete games (27), innings pitched (335.1) and strikeouts (a major league record 382). He also became the first major league pitcher to throw four no-hitters, tossing a 1-0 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs on September 9.

Between them, Koufax and Drysdale had won three of the four Cy Young Awards given out from 1962-1965. (And Koufax would win it again in 1966.)

In 1965, Don Drysdale earned $80,000. The Dodgers paid Koufax $85,000. The highest-paid player in baseball going into the 1966 season was San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays, who had signed a two-year contract for $125,000 per season.

On March 30, 1966, as the Dodgers were flying west at the conclusion of spring training, the team announced that it had signed its pitchers to one-year contracts: Koufax for $125,000, Drysdale for $110,000. Neither player would have the opportunity to appear in Warning Shot, which debuted in 1967 starring David Janssen.

Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale had taken acting roles in television prior to their 1966 holdout. They never got the chance to appear in the movie Warning Shot. Instead, they led the Los Angeles Dodgers to their third National League pennant in four seasons.

It effectively marked the end of the acting career for Sandy Koufax. In 1959-1960, Koufax had appeared in four different television series, including 77 Sunset Strip (as a policeman) and Bourbon Street Beat (as a doorman). He made no “actor” appearances afterward, and retired as a player following the 1966 season.

Don Drysdale continued to make occasional guest appearances on television series, as himself or in a role. From 1957-1992, Drysdale made 17 different television appearances, in shows ranging from The Red Skelton Hour, The Rifleman, Leave It To Beaver and The Donna Reed Show (four different appearances) before the “strike” and The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch and The Greatest American Hero among others after. He was also a sports broadcaster from 1969 until his death in 1993.


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Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bullpen


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 27, 1961) The San Francisco Giants today defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 behind the shutout pitching of Juan Marichal (7-7).

It was Marichal’s first shutout of the 1961 season, and his fifth complete game.

It had to be. The Giants had no one in the bullpen.


With no one in the bullpen to back him up. Juan Marichal pitched a five-hit shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning 2-0 and raising his season record to 7-7.

Prior to the first pitch, Giants manager Alvin Dark announced that “Marichal will go all the way,” and backed his prediction by keeping all of his relief corps in the dugout for the entire game. Dark later explained, “I’m sick and tired of watching pitchers bow their necks for four-five innings and then look around for Stu Miller to bail them out.”

The 23-year-old Marichal lived up to his manager’s expectations, scattering five hits while striking out eight batters and walking three. The Pirates’ best scoring opportunity was snuffed out in the seventh inning, thanks to Willie Mays’ miraculous catch of a Smoky Burgess deep fly ball.

The Giants scored their runs in the fifth and sixth innings on RBIs from Jose Pagan and Matty Alou.

The losing pitcher was Vinegar Bend Mizell (4-8).

Marichal would finish the 1961 season – his second in the major leagues – at 13-10 with a 3.89 ERA and nine complete games. He would pitch 244 complete games in his career with the Giants and 52 shutouts – number two all-time to Christy Mathewson among Giants pitchers.

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Johnny, Take Us Home!


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(July 7, 1964) The National League today won the All-Star game 7-4 on a walk-off home run by Phillies right fielder Johnny Callison.

Johnny Callison’s three-run homer off Dick Radatz was the game winner for the National League All-Stars.

Johnny Callison’s three-run homer off Dick Radatz was the game winner for the National League All-Stars.

Callison, who entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jim Bunning, flied out in his two previous at-bats. His ninth-inning home run off Boston Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz was his only hit of the day.

The American League opened the scoring in the first inning on Harmon Killebrew’s RBI single off NL starter Don Drysdale. The NL took the lead in the fourth inning on solo home runs from Billy Williams and Ken Boyer. The Nationals added another run in the fifth inning when Dick Groat doubled off Camilo Pascual, bringing home Roberto Clemente.

The American League tied the game when Brooks Robinson tripled home two runs in the sixth inning, then took the lead on Jim Fregosi’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The AL led 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, with Radatz on the pitching mound.

Juan Marichal pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the victory. Marichal was also the winning pitcher in the first 1962 All-Star Game, and had a career ERA of 0.50 in eight All-Star apearances.

Juan Marichal pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the victory. Marichal was also the winning pitcher in the first 1962 All-Star Game, and had a career ERA of 0.50 in eight All-Star appearances.

Willie Mays walked to open the ninth inning, stole second base, and then scored on Orlando Cepeda’s single, tying the game. With runners at first and second base, Radatz struck out Hank Aaron for the inning’s second out. But Callison ended the All-Star thriller with one stroke.

It would be Callison’s last All-Star appearance.

Bonding Power and Speed


Glancing Back, and Remembering Bobby Bonds

Willie Mays was the prototype for the ballplayer who could hurt you with the long-ball bat or his speed on the base paths. No one in major league baseball could approach Mays in that combination of athletic skills until he was joined on the San Francisco Giants by a strong and talented outfielder named Bobby Bonds.

In his first five full seasons (1969-1973), Bobby Bonds averaged 31 home runs and 89 RBIs plus 41 stolen bases.

Bonds was signed by the Giants in 1964 and made his debut with the club four years later. In his first game, Bonds homered … with the bases loaded, becoming the second major league player to hit a grand slam in his first game. Playing half the 1968 season, Bonds finished with a .254 batting average, nine home runs, 35 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

In his first full season as the Giants’ right fielder, Bonds hit .259 with 32 home runs, 90 RBIs and 45 stolen bases. He also led the league by scoring 120 runs. Bond’s remarkable ability to combine power and speed continued throughout the next decade. In the 1970s, he hit .274 and averaged 28 home runs, 86 RBIs and 38 stolen bases per season.

Bonds had more than 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season five times in his career, still the major league record. In 1973 he led the National League in runs (131) and total bases (341). He was an All-Star three times (and was named MVP of the 1973 All-Star game) and won three Gold Gloves.

He was the complete ballplayer, just as his son, Barry, would be.


Bobby Bonds’ best season as a slugger came in 1977. Playing for the California Angels, Bonds hit 37 home runs with a career-best 115 RBIs. He also stole 41 bases.

After seven seasons in San Francisco, Bonds was traded by the Giants to the New York Yankees for Bobby Murcer. Bonds became one of the most-swapped played in the majors during the rest of the 1970s, playing for the California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs from 1976 through 1981.

He retired after the 1981 season with a career batting average of .268. He hit 332 home runs and stole 461 bases.



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Mantle Moves On


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(March 1, 1969) – New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle today announced his retirement from baseball.

Mantle played 18 years in the major leagues, all with the New York Yankees. He finished with a career batting average of .298. He won the American League batting title in 1956 with a .353 average. He also won the Triple Crown that season, hitting 52 home runs and driving in 130 runs.

Mantle was selected as the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1956, 1957 and 1962. He was named to the American League All-Star team 16 times, and won the Gold Glove in 1962.

At the time of his retirement, the fabled Yankee outfielder ranked third all-time in home runs with 536, trailing only Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. He led the American League in home runs four times, and in runs scored five times.

Feigner Fans ‘Em


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(February 18, 1967) He was one of the top strikeout pitchers of the 1960s … though he never pitched in the major leagues.

And on this day he put on a pitching exhibition that supported any claim that he was the best strikeout artist ever.

“The King” Eddie Feigner

“The King” Eddie Feigner

Eddie Feigner could pitch a softball (underhanded, of course) clocked at speeds up to 104 mph (though some claimed it was more like 114 mph). Feigner barnstormed America for more than 50 years with a four-player team known as “The King and His Court.”

Just prior to spring training in 1967, Feigner pitched an exhibition at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, striking out six consecutive major league hitters.

But not just any major league hitters. Feigner fanned (in order) Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Brooks RobinsonWillie McCoveyMaury Wills, and Harmon Killebrew. All six won the Most Valuable Player Award during the 1960s. All but Wills have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If hitters of their stature couldn’t touch a fat Feigner-launched softball, how would they have fared against a baseball?

The Year He Was Everything But MVP.


Career Year: Tommy Davis (1962)

In his 1962 break-out season, outfielder Tommy Davis did everything he needed to do to claim the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.

Everything, that is, except to actually win it.

Here’s how it happened.That season’s MVP went to teammate Maury Wills. Looking back a half-century, and looking at the numbers for both players, it’s hard to justify how Davis got passed over.

Tommy Davis - Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder won the National League batting title in 1962 and 1963

Tommy Davis – Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder won the National League batting title in 1962 and 1963

Tommy Davis was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. He never batted below .300 in 4 minor league seasons. In 1959, with Spokane in the Pacific Coast League, Davis batted .345 with 18 home runs and 78 RBIs. He made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the 1959 season, striking out in his only plate appearance.

Davis opened the 1960 season on the Dodgers’ roster, and gradually took over full-time duties in center field from Duke Snider and Don Demeter. He finished the 1960 season batting .276 with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. In 1961, Davis batted .278 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. He played 86 games in the outfield, at all three positions, and played 59 games at third base. He was, essentially, a utility player for the Dodgers.

That would change in 1962. He opened the season as the team’s everyday left fielder, and was hitting .316 at the end of April. In May he batted .336 with five home runs and 25 RBIs, and in June Davis batted .354 with three home runs and 32 RBIs. By the All-Star break, Davis was batting .353 with 15 doubles, 15 home runs and 90 RBIs. He made his first All-Star appearance that season.

While Davis was leading the National League in hits, runs batted in and batting average, he wasn’t getting national media attention for his monster season. During the first half of the season, the media reserved their Dodger focus on a pair of pitchers – Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax – who were having outstanding seasons in leading the Dodgers to the top of the National League standings. At the All-Star break in 1962, Drysdale was 15-4 with a 2.88 ERA. Koufax, an 18-game winner in 1961, was 13-4 with a 2.15 ERA and led the major leagues with 202 strikeouts. Drysdale would go on to win the Cy Young award with a 25-9 record, while an arm injury would limit Koufax to only one more victory over the rest of the 1962 campaign.

The other media “distraction” from Davis’ season was a record-breaking performance by Dodger shortstop Maury Wills. By late July, it became obvious that Wills was on his way to breaking the single season record for stolen bases held by Ty Cobb. It would be the second consecutive year when a hallowed baseball record was under assault, as only a year before there was a media frenzy following Roger Maris’ (and Mickey Mantle’s) chase of Babe Ruth’s record for home runs in a single season.

Tommy Davis led the NL with 230 hits in 1962, the most in 25 years.

Wills eventually caught Cobb’s record of 96 stolen bases and finished the season with 104, a season which the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants finished in a dead heat, requiring a three-game playoff which the Giants won. It was an exciting season on many fronts.

And Tommy Davis? Lost in the shuffle of a heated pennant race and outstanding individual performances, Davis led the National League with 230 hits (32 ahead of Wills and Frank Robinson), 153 RBIs (12 ahead of Willie Mays) and a .346 batting average. He also finished fourth in the league in doubles and total bases, fifth in triples and slugging (.535 percentage), and seventh in stolen bases.

In the MVP voting, Davis finished third behind Wills and Mays. Stolen bases and triples were the only offensive categories in which Wills was the league leader.

It would be the best season of Tommy Davis’ career. He would lead the National League in hitting again in 1963 with a .326 average, but his power numbers would drop to 16 home runs (compared to 27 in 1962) and 88 RBIs, down 65 from the previous season. He would suffer a broken ankle during the 1965 season that would compromise his speed for the rest of his career, though Davis would remain a steady hitter throughout his 18-year career, retiring after the 1976 season with a .294 career batting average.




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Sandy Secures Second Cy


This Week in 1960s Baseball

(November 3, 1965) In a unanimous vote, Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax (26-8, 2.04, 382 strikeouts) today was named the Cy Young Award winner.

Sandy  Koufax was the first pitcher to win a second Cy  Young Award.

Sandy Koufax was the first pitcher to win a second Cy Young Award.

It was Koufax’s second Cy Young Award in the past three years. He became the first pitcher to win the honor more than once.

Koufax won the pitching “Triple Crown” by leading the major leagues in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He also led the majors in winning percentage (.765), complete games (27) and innings pitched (335.2). The National League’s Most Valuable player in 1963, Koufax finished second to Willie Mays in the MVP balloting for 1965.

On September 9, 1965, Koufax pitched his fourth career no-hitter, a 1-0 perfect game against the Chicago Cubs.

In the 1965 World Series, Koufax was 2-1 against the Minnesota Twins with a 0.38 ERA. He struck out 29 Twins batters in 24 innings pitched.






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Spraying Rockets Around the National League


Homer Happy: Willie McCovey

What was most impressive about slugger Willie McCovey – beyond the career hitting statistics that earned him a place in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility – was his consistency as a power hitter throughout his 22-season career, even though he battled injuries in nearly half of them. Twelve times he hit 20 or more home runs in a season, and in the six seasons from 1965 through 1970, he hit no fewer than 31.

From 1965-1969, Willie McCovey led the National League in home runs twice. He averaged 37 home runs and 102 RBIs during those five seasons.

From 1965-1969, Willie McCovey led the National League in home runs twice. He averaged 37 home runs and 102 RBIs during those five seasons.

His total of 521 career home runs – clearly Hall of Fame worthy – was limited by his opportunities to play during the first five years of his major league career. McCovey was signed by the New York Giants in 1955 and made his debut with the San Francisco Giants on July 30, 1959. In the remaining two months of that season, McCovey batted .354 with 13 homes runs and 38 RBIs – all in what was essentially a third of a season. He also posted a .656 slugging average, and was named National League Rookie of the Year.

As good as he was, McCovey wasn’t good enough to find a place in the Giants’ everyday lineup, a lineup that included Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou and Willie Kirkland. By the end of the 1960 season, McCovey had earned a starting spot at first base.

With only 260 official at-bats in 1960, McCovey finished the season with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs. But the first base job went back to Cepeda in 1961, and McCovey returned to the role of part-time outfielder for the next two seasons. He hit 18 home runs in 1961 and 20 in 1962.

In 1963, McCovey was tabbed to be the team’s regular left fielder, and he responded with a league-leading 44 home runs and 102 runs batted in. A foot injury limited his playing time and productivity in 1964, when he batted .220 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. He rebounded in 1965 with 39 home runs, and hit more than 30 homers in each of the next three seasons, leading the National League in home runs (36) and RBIs (105) in 1968.

McCovey’s best season came in 1969, when he batted .320 and led the National League in home runs (45), RBIs (126) and slugging average (.656). He was selected as the National League Most Valuable Player that season.

McCovey bashed 39 home runs in 1970, the most he would hit in a single season over the rest of his career. Dogged by injuries over the next few years, he managed 29 home runs and 75 RBIs in 1973. He was traded to the San Diego Padres, and after two years split the 1976 season between the Padres and the Oakland Athletics. He returned to San Francisco in 1977 and had a strong comeback season at age 39, batting .280 with 28 home runs and 86 RBIs. He hit only 28 more home runs as a part-time player over the next three seasons, and retired in 1980. He finished with a career batting average of .270.

McCovey was a six-time All-Star, and was the Most Valuable player in the 1969 All-Star game. He hit 231 home runs in Candlestick Park, the most by any player. And McCovey was the first major league player to twice hit two home runs in a single inning.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.



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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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