Saturday, April 30, 2022


Monday, April 30, 1962 was another light day on the MLB schedule, but there was no rest for the Giants and Dodgers, who swapped opponents.

In San Francisco, the Giants touched Pittsburgh's fading lefty Vinegar Bend Mizell for four runs in as many innings, their scoring bookended by homers from Willie Mays (#7) and Orlando Cepeda (#6). Mizell would be traded to the Mets a week later and would soon parlay his cornpone charm into three terms as a congressman from North Carolina. Another North Carolina boy, Gaylord Perry, turned in what would prove to be his best outing of the year, limiting the Pirates to just four hits. (It would be his only complete game of the year.) Final score: Giants 4, Pirates 1.

At Dodger Stadium, Stan Williams made his first start in two weeks, overcoming his spotty control and receiving help from the Cubs' erratic shortstop Andre Rodgers, who managed to get himself thrown out twice on the basepaths; Chicago managed only five hits in the game, and Rodgers committed a throwing error in the fifth that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Andy Carey added an insurance run when homered in the sixth off lefty Dick Ellsworth, who would go on to lose 20 games in 1962 before making a remarkable turnaround the following year (after the strike zone change). Final score: Dodgers 3, Cubs 1.

Here are the April hitting stats for the two teams, sorted in descending order of OPS:

Giants' batters are shown in orange; Dodgers' hitters are show in blue. It is permissible to be shocked at how little playing time Willie McCovey received in the early going; that will change as the year progresses. Conversely, Duke Snider's hot start did not keep him in the Dodger lineup for much longer.

As we'll see, April proved to be the Giants' best overall month at the plate; the Dodgers would improve their hitting in May and reach their peak in July.


Friday, April 29, 2022


Sunday, April 29, 1962 was the first of six instances in which the Giants and the Dodgers played doubleheaders on the same day. The summary results of those twelve games are shown in the diagram at right; it reminds us that these two teams fought essentially to a draw (though other aspects within the data suggest that the Giants were generally the better team: more on that later). It reminds us that when the two teams met in the third and decisive playoff game on October 3rd, their season record vs. each other was 10-10.

As you can see, April 29th was not a good day for the Dodgers: they found themselves virtually incapable of swinging a bat (or, in this case, multiple bats) over the course of eighteen innings. Over the two games, they managed just eleven hits, all singles. The only run they scored that day came when Pirates catcher Don Leppert threw wildly to third base on a double steal by Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam, allowing Wills to score. On the next pitch, Duke Snider struck out; Tommy Davis ended the inning with a ground out. And the rest was silence...

That lone run had the Dodgers in the lead until the seventh, when right fielder Howie Goss, a journeyman minor league slugger making his first start in place of the injured Roberto Clemente, hit a two-run homer off Johnny Podres. Before the inning was over, the Pirates had scored four runs. Final score: Pirates 6, Dodgers 1. 

In the second game, Joe Moeller summed up the essential plight of his career by pitching a fine game against the Pirates, allowing only one run (a home run by Dick Stuart, who'd be tagged with the sobriquet "Dr. Strangeglove" a couple of years later thanks to the release of a film that featured a man ecstatically riding a nuclear missile into oblivion). It was, as it seemed fated to always be the case for Moeller, just enough to lose. In the bottom of the ninth, trailing 1-0, with Willie Davis on second and the potential winning run at home plate, Andy Carey's long fly was caught at the wall by center fielder Bill Virdon. Final score: Pirates 1, Dodgers 0.

UP in San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs made the Dodgers look like sluggers by managing just six hits in two games, as Jack Sanford and Billy Pierce each fashioned three-hit shutouts. Willie Mays and Ed Bailey each hit their sixth homers of the year, knotting them in a tie for the league lead with Vada Pinson, Eddie Mathews, and Frank Thomas. Giants' reserve Manny Mota, playing in place of the injured Harvey Kuenn, had three hits in the second game, but he would hit only .145 from this point until he was optioned to the minors and traded to the Colt .45s over the offseason. Ironically, Mota would be traded to the Pirates just before Opening Day in 1963 for...Howie Goss. Final scores: Giants 7-6; Cubs 0-0.


Thursday, April 28, 2022


Saturday, April 28 was another dual-win day for the Giants and Dodgers--a day that featured two obscure starting pitchers for the opposition. At Candlestick Park, the Cubs started Al Lary, the older brother of famed "Yankee Killer" Frank Lary (who was coming off a 23-9 season as the ace of the Detroit Tigers).

Al Lary had toiled in the Cubs' system for nearly a decade at this point, and had become a perennial AAA pitcher. His perseverance finally paid off at the age of 33 when the Cubs kept him as one of the three extra roster slots in '62. After a poor showing in relief vs. the fledgling Colt .45s (later the Astros), Lary was given a start on this day--but it did not go well.

Willie Mays, batting in the #2 slot (post-modern batting order theory alert...), hit a grand slam against Lary to cap a six-run second inning. That was more than enough for Juan Marichal, but the Giants cuffed around two more relievers quickly lost in the mists of time (Dave Gerard, Jack Warner) and built an 11-0 lead after five. Marichal lost his shutout in the eighth when he surrendered a homer to Billy Williams, but escaped further damage. The Giants' primary batting star that day: Jim Davenport (3-for-3, with three runs scored).

Lary would be sent down shortly after this game, but he'd return in July, getting two more starts. He wound up with a 103-100 record at AAA, but this was his only decision in the majors. Final score: Giants 11, Cubs 2.

AT Dodger Stadium, Sandy Koufax and the Pirates' Earl Francis hooked up in their second faceoff. Francis, a highly prized right-hander, had beaten Koufax at the Coliseum the year before when Sandy lost a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning. Today's game would be similarly tight, with the decisive action again occurring late in the game.

Koufax helped Francis out in the third when, after singling and moving to second on another single by Maury Wills, he was picked off second, defusing a potential rally. The Pirates picked up a run in the fifth when catcher Don Leppert guided a grounder past Wills, allowing Donn Clendenon to score.

Francis' control had always been spotty, and he walked eight in this game, but half of those walks were intentional, as he continually found ways to pitch out of jams. And the Pirates didn't help him much, either: the first run the Dodgers managed to score came as a result of an errant throw by third baseman Johnny Logan--a throw so wild that it allowed Johnny Roseboro to score all the way from second base. The game remained tied 1-1 into the ninth, when Tommy Davis, 0-for-4 on the day to that point, singled home Wally Moon for a walk-off win. Final score: Dodgers 2, Pirates 1.

Francis had a promising year in '62, going 9-8 with a 3.07 ERA, but arm problems would soon scuttle his career. He's one more "might have been" in the vast pantheon of such players in baseball history. 

SEASON RECORDS: STL 10-3, PIT 11-4, SFG 12-5, LAD 12-6, MIL 8-9, HOU 6-8, PHI 6-8, CIN 7-10, CHC 4-13, NYM 2-12

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


Our two teams resumed a dual-win day on Friday, April 27, 1962. Back at home in Candlestick Park, the Giants were on the defensive from the very first batter in the game when traveling man Bobby Gene Smith--just acquired by the Cubs in a trade with the Mets--hit a home run (the only one he'd hit for Chicago, who would soon trade him to the Cardinals).

Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Al Dark sent Willie McCovey up to pinch-hit after Jim Davenport had reached on a two-out error by the Cubs' shortstop, ex-Giant Andre Rodgers. McCovey promptly blasted a game-tying homer off luckless Cal Koonce.

In the ninth, Dark made a far more curious decision, permitting reliever Stu Miller to bat in with a runner on first in a tie game. Naturally, Miller (a lifetime .133 hitter) singled, setting up Chuck Hiller's walk-off sacrifice fly. (Maybe Dark thought that the team's luck would jell if he preceded Hiller with Miller...and so it did.) Final score: Giants 5, Cubs 4.

Down in LA, two plus-sized pitchers (the Dodgers' Don Drysdale and the Pirates' Bob Veale) squared off, though it quickly became no contest. Veale was wild, walking the first three batters he faced, and the Dodgers showed off a feature of their offense that would become more prevalent later in the year when Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam executed a double steal. Frank Howard's two-run single followed shortly thereafter, and was the key blow in a three-run first for the Dodgers.

Veale was knocked out in the bottom of the fourth as LA fashioned four singles and two scoring ground balls into a four-run rally, taking a 7-1 lead. Drysdale scattered 10 hits and went the distance, facing 37 batters and striking out seven. Wills' two steals brought his season total to six. Final score: Dodgers 7, Pirates 2.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022


We know that many folk dismiss small samples out of hand; but it's clear that those folk are short-sighted. The folks who are suddenly panting heavily about run-scoring levels are primarily folks who grew up on 70s and 80s baseball, and have simply forgotten what the runs-per-game averages were (mostly) like in those decades. Their "systems modeling" approach to the game has brought it to its knees, leaching out so much of the offensive diversity that can often be discerned in small sample sizes.

And with that precept in mind, we'll spend some time during the "off-days" of the 1962 Giants-Dodgers project to dive into such manifestations of diversity--beginning with another controversial statistic: RBI. We'll use it as a way (not "the" way...) into short-term peak performance, and see what it can tell us. What our fine-feathered friends who yodel about abstracted "adjusted runs/wins" models all tend to forget is that, aside from the homer, runs can't be scored by themselves. So here we go...

First, let's look at the data set. Since 1901, there have been 936 examples of a player driving in 30 or more runs in a month (a month being, in this case, an actual month, such as those between April and September, as opposed to arbitrary 30-game units). While we think it's a shame that baseball researchers continue to disparage nineteenth-century baseball--in particular orphaning the years from 1893-1900 (a time frame where the pitching mound was set to its current distance from home plate)--we've got to go with what we've, 936 since 1901.

And that's anatomized in the "heat map" version of our "patented time-grid chart"™ chart (at left).

As you might expect, the heat map approach demonstrates that the incidence of "30+ RBI months" is strongly correlated with run scoring levels (i.e. the upswing you see in the 1920s, peaking (as usual) in 1930 and continuing in the subsequent decade due to the sustained high offensive levels in the AL). But despite the peak numbers in the 20s/30s and later in the 1990s/2000s, the pervasive trend for 30+ RBI months is scarcity: in 58 out of the 122 years on the chart, the number of 30+ RBI months per year is five or less. The average for all of baseball history is just under eight per year, which puts 1962 in range for being a "representative season" per this phenomenon.

Now: let's go back to the "dawn of time" for this data (or--as noted above--as close to that dawn as we can get) and look at those hitters who had 30+ RBI in a month during the 1901 season.

That list isn't too shabby: three Hall of Famers, two highly accomplished hitters, and only one ringer in Kitty Bransfield, whose career (and his performance level in September 1901) was decidedly below the levels achieved by the others. But of course it's Honus Wagner who puts all of the others to shame with a truly epic RBI performance--though kindly note that Delahanty, Lajoie and Sheckard all hit over .400 with an OPS+ in excess of 1.100.

Still--Honus' RBI total is eye-popping, and wouldn't be exceeded until 1930. Looking at the game logs for September 1901, we see that the Pirates had a hot road trip early in the month that included six games (three consecutive doubleheaders!) in the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants (not yet under the management of John McGraw, and a team that finished seventh that year). In those games, Wagner drove in 18 runs, a bit more than a third of his total for the month. (The Giants were Wagner's whipping boys in 1901: he hit .466 against them overall, and .500 in the Polo Grounds.)

As the chart shows, it will take 13 years (and an extra league) to exceed the number of 30+ RBI/month incidences.

Now, in order to tie things back to our primary project, let's look at the 30+ RBI/month guys for1962. Dodgers and Giants players are shaded in the darker shadow of yellow...

No, that's not a mistake--and yes, we're messing with you. You'll have to guess who the player with 41 RBI in a month is. But as you can tell, he's a Dodger or a Giant. And while we've obscured most of the data, you can tell by the OPS that it was a helluva month.

Monday, April 25, 2022


A little telescoping here in today's entry as the Giants have April 26th off, thus we cover both the 25th and 26th here (leaving us room tomorrow for an entry outside the "60 Years Ago" format).

As noted, the Giants are about to embark on a sensational skein of victories, and the 25th demonstrates that it's a robust offense that will lead the way. Down 2-1 to the Pirates' Bob Friend going into the sixth inning, San Francisco turns things around thanks to homers from Orlando Cepeda (three-run shot) and Ed Bailey (solo) to take a 5-2 lead. 

Don Larsen has a spectacular night for the Giants, relieving Gaylord Perry in the bottom of the sixth with two men on and no one out, whereupon he not only strikes out the side to quell the Pirates' threat, but he also singles in a run in the top of the seventh. Larsen will wind up pitching four innings in relief, striking out eight as he saves his first game of the year on behalf of "young Gaylord," whose first big-league win (in a career that wound up with 314 of them) this is. Final score: Giants 8, Pirate 3.

In Chicago, Larry Sherry's day in relief is not nearly so successful: brought in to protect a 6-5 Dodger lead in the bottom of the eighth, Sherry surrenders the tying run on a homer by Ernie Banks, and then coughs up the game when the mercurial former Giant Andre Rodgers hits a three-run shot. Final score: Cubs 9, Dodgers 6.

The next day (April 26), the Dodgers re-establish control as the trio who would compose their starting outfield for the bulk of 1962 has its first concentrated day of offensive domination: Tommy Davis doubles twice and triples, driving in three runs and raising his average to .397; Frank Howard hits his second homer of the year and also drives in three runs; and Willie Davis hits two homers. 

The Dodgers score four in the fourth, one in the fifth, three in the sixth and four more in the seventh to bail out shaky performances from starter Pete Richert (suffering from control problems and soon headed back to the minors) and Ed Roebuck (5.63 ERA in April; he'd turn things around with a 1.21 ERA in May). Because of Roebuck's ineffectiveness, the official scorer denied him a win in the game despite him being on the mound when the Dodgers took the lead; Ron Perranoski was given the win despite pitching in a situation that ordinarily would've earned him a save. Final score: Dodgers 12, Cubs 5. 

But the game's most noteworthy aspect came when Tommy Davis added those three RBI to his season total; when the day's games were over, Tommy would be in possession of the NL lead in RBIs with 23, one ahead of Vada Pinson. It would be a couple more weeks before Tommy is permanently ensconced at the top of the NL RBI leaders list, but here is the point when he becomes a potent offensive force for the Dodgers. (Davis would wind up with 153 RBIs for the year, which is the highest single-season total for any hitter over a 48-year span beginning in 1950 and ending in 1997.)

Sunday, April 24, 2022


Tuesday, April 24, 1962 saw the Dodgers and Giants briefly slip into a tie for second place (despite the fact that the Dodgers had given up the most runs of any team in the National League thus far). Following their loss in Pittsburgh on this day, the Giants would win sixteen of their next nineteen games while the Dodgers would work hard just to stay in San Francisco's rear-view mirror.

On this day in Pittsburgh, however, Juan Marichal did not have it. Catcher Don Leppert's two-out, two-run homer got the Pirates in front in the bottom of the second, and they would KO Marichal with a five-run fourth, including a key single from Pirates' starter Al McBean. Three of the runs were unearned due to an error by shortstop Jose Pagan, but it was more than enough to seal the Giants' fate, despite another homer from Ed Bailey. Final score: Pirates 7, Giants 3.

The silver lining for San Francisco was that it appeared that Willie Mays was coming out of an early-season funk; it would not be long before Willie would have a ten-game stretch (in which the Giants went 9-1) where he hit six HRs, drove in sixteen, and posted a SLG of 1.081.

Earlier that day in Chicago, Sandy Koufax tied the then-existing single-game strikeout record by fanning 18 Cubs. It was the second time that Sandy had struck out 18 in a game; he'd done it previously on August 31, 1959 against the Giants. Veterans Duke Snider and Wally Moon, whose playing time was about to be seriously curtailed, both had good days in the Wrigley Field sunshine (for these were the days when there were no lights in the ballpark). Tommy Davis drove in four runs in the game: his three-run homer in the fifth broke things wide open. Final score: Dodgers 10, Cubs 2.


Saturday, April 23, 2022


Mondays and Thursdays are still the likeliest off-days during the baseball season; thus they usually have fewer games scheduled. Monday, April 23, 1962 was no exception, with only three NL games on the docket and no AL games at all. Two of those three games involved the Dodgers and the Giants.

In Milwaukee, "teenage monster" Joe Moeller caught a break when Henry Aaron's injury during the previous day's game kept him out of the starting lineup, and the slender righty showed much better control than had been the case in his first MLB in Cincinnati five days earlier, settling down after allowing the Braves to score a run in the first when he uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Howie Bedell to score.

Duke Snider and Tommy Davis drove in runs in the fourth to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead, and Braves' starter Lew Burdette weakened further in the fifth and sixth, surrendering homers to Willie Davis and Johnny Roseboro. Moeller staved off a Braves' rally in the seventh, retiring a pinch-hitting Aaron with two men on based, and minimized another one in the eighth, notching his first big league win. Final score: Dodgers 5, Braves 2.

In Cincinnati, veteran lefty Billy Pierce kept the Reds at bay, hurling a complete-game seven-hitter as the Giants score single runs in the first, second, sixth and ninth inning (including another homer from Ed Bailey, his third of the year). Harvey Kuenn remained hot, stroking three singles and scoring twice, bringing his early-season BA up to .417. Final score: Giants 4, Reds 1.

In the only other game of the day, the New York Mets won their first-ever game in their tenth attempt, with former Reds prospect Jay Hook scattering five hits in what would prove to be his best moment in a Mets uniform--he also singled in two runs in the Mets four-run second, an inning in which the Pirates' 43-year old rookie reliever Diomedes Olivo poured gasoline on starter Tom Sturdivant by allowing hits to three of the first four batters he faced. The "flashy keystone duo" of Felix Mantilla and Elio Chacon--both of whom would last only one year with the Mets--each slapped out three hits as the Mets snapped Pittsburgh's ten-game winning streak.

SEASON RECORDS: PIT 10-1, SFG 9-4, LAD 8-5, NYM 1-9

Friday, April 22, 2022


One of the few things that 2022 has in common with 1962 (aside from the near-miraculous fact that the Earth is still somehow orbiting the Sun...) is that we're about halfway through baseball's version of April, reminding us that spring training actually used to extend into the spring without the "help" of Rob Manfred. So we'll use today's entry to put various matters into perspective, with the addition of some visual aids that will help you follow along at home more easily.

The first such aid is a monthly summary of the Giants and Dodgers game logs (figure at right). About halfway through each month, we'll post this (Giants in orange, Dodgers in blue) and we'll revisit it when we get to the end of the month. 

We've incorporated off days (as you'll see, the only day when both teams were off occurred on April 20) and we've bolded the games that the two teams play against each other. 

We've also drawn boxes around the days when the two teams both lost games (or, at least up through the April 22nd game: we might preview a version of this with those incidences noted without the actual game scores included, just because we incline toward the perverse).

So the box around 4/22 tips you off right away that this was a "double loss" day for the two teams that would meet in a playoff for the NL pennant--and, in fact, are the last two teams to meet in a regular season playoff in which a trip to the World Series was on the line.

We'll briefly summarize these games, since nobody loves a loser (unless there's an ensemble of them all starring in a latter-day TV series, that is). In Milwaukee, the Dodgers scored three in the first (a two-run HR from Tommy Davis, his fourth) but Don Drysdale had control problems and the Braves capitalized on an error by Maury Wills to score three unearned runs in the third to take the lead. Bob Shaw allowed only three hits over his last eight innings of work, and Pete Richert was even wilder than Drysdale (the Dodgers issued 10 walks in this game...), allowing the Braves to add two insurance runs in the seventh. Final score: Braves 6, Dodgers 3.

In Cincinnati, Jack Sanford gave up two homers in the fourth (Vada Pinson, Johnny Edwards) as the Reds built a 5-0 lead. The Giants rallied (two-run homer from Tom Haller, an RBI double from Orlando Cepeda) but couldn't close the gap. 

The most singular moment in the game occurred in the ninth inning when the Giants, down by two but with two on and the go-ahead run at the plate, sent Willie McCovey up to pinch-hit. Reds manager Fred Hutchinson countered by bringing in left-hander Bill Henry. At which point Al Dark pulled McCovey and sent pitcher Don Larsen to the plate instead. Further research will be needed to confirm it, but one suspects that this is the first and only time McCovey was ever pinch-hit for by a pitcher. Larsen, who'd begun his pinch-hitting career by going 1-for-25 but who'd gone 5-for-12 in that role while with the Kansas City A's in '61, hit a long fly to center, but it was tracked down by Pinson. Final score: Reds 6, Giants 4.

So how many times will two teams whose combined seasonal record was 205-125 lose on the same day? You could calculate the odds, of course, but we're hoping that you'll enjoy finding out gradually.

Now let's take a broader look at 1962 and the information available to the baseball fan in the daily media at that time. To set up the contrast, here's a list (at left) of the top hitters in MLB as of 4/22/1962 (this includes hitters in the AL: the NL hitters are shown in red) using OPS as the measure of quality. 

There's a lot of data packed into such a listing; in '62, you'd be lucky to see OBP or SLG in a daily listing--once in awhile, they would be added to a list of leaders that appeared below the top ten hitters sorted by BA, usually underneath leaders in doubles, triples (HA!), and homers. 

For our updated version of this 1962 list, we've shaded the rows for the Giants and Dodgers who appear here in yellow. So you get a sense of how well Felipe Alou and Tommy Davis are doing compared to the other hot hitters during the early days of the season. (This data, by the way, was culled from the Day-by-Day Database devised by David Pinto at Baseball Musings.)

Now let's look at a re-creation of what you would have seen for the "top hitters" listings as they appeared in daily newspapers smack dab in the middle of the all-too-brief "New Frontier" era. This is exactly the level of detail that used to appear, apparently compiled by some grease monkey at the Associated Press and sent out on the newswire for use in filling up space on the baseball pages of sports sections. 

Whereas we combined our list to cover hitters in both leagues, these "top hitters" listings were divided (like all Gaul) into two--one listing for each league. They were, as you can see, strictly limited to batting average.

1962 proved to be the "boom year" for three of the players on the AL list (above left): Floyd Robinson hit .312, led the AL in doubles (45) and drove in 109 in his second full year for the White Sox; Rich Rollins drove in 96 runs and hit .298 in his first full year with the Twins (before shredding the "age-27 paradigm" a few years later when he seems to have just forgotten how to hit); and Jerry Lumpe, a sentimental fave of our pal Jeff Angus, hit .301 and achieved career highs in doubles, triples (HA!), homers, RBI, runs scored, and swizzle sticks collected from all the bar-and-grills littered and lit-out-to on the AL circuit.

The NL list has some familiar names on it: Curt Flood's hot start finally cemented him in the Cardinals' lineup as their everyday center fielder. But what you also see are some Pirate hitters who'd had a chance to feast on the mediocre pitching they'd faces as the Bucs won their first ten games of the 1962 season. 1960 MVP Dick Groat would cool off, finishing with an OPS+ of 84 for the year; even Roberto Clemente, who'd had his first great season in '61 (.351 BA, 150 OPS+) would backslide despite the advantages of the expansion year in the NL. 

Tommy Davis might not have appeared on the leader list, which often only contained a Top Ten by batting average (he's twelfth here), but he would certainly begin to do so with an insistent frequency as the season progressed. 

In the AL after the games of 4/22, only 3 1/2 games separated the league leader from the cellar dweller; in the NL, however, the Pirates were 9 1/2 games ahead of those soon-to-be-lovable doormats who were impersonating a baseball team in the Polo Grounds, while all the while an old man raved with devilishly smirky intent...

Thursday, April 21, 2022


The Dodgers and Giants changed road locations on April 21, with LA moving to Milwaukee to face the Braves and San Francisco invading Cincinnati to play the defending NL champion Reds.

The Giants, what with their loaded lineup, were about to enter a streak where they'd win 12 of their next fourteen games, hitting .306 as a team during that span. The Dodgers would go just 8-6 over that time frame, with a team BA that looks a lot more like 2022 (.240).

On this night, however, both teams won: in Cincinnati, the Giants rallied from a 6-1 deficit with two-run rallies in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, adding an insurance run in the ninth. Overcoming a poor start from Billy O'Dell, the Giants amassed 16 hits (three each from Orlando Cepeda and Harvey Kuenn; two more from Felipe Alou, including his fourth homer, on a night where his 2-for-5 actually lowered his BA to .455, and a sixth-inning homer from  against his former teammates to begin the Giants' comeback).

The Giants used six pitchers in relief of O'Dell, who accounted for 5 1/3 scoreless innings--though there was drama in the bottom of the ninth, when Al Dark used four different pitchers to foil a last-ditch rally. Young lefty Dick LeMay, who'd shown promise in '61 but would soon pitch his way off the major league roster, induced Don Pavletich to ground out with the bases loaded to preserve the Giants' win. (It would be LeMay's only save of the season; despite a good year at AAA after being demoted, LeMay was let go in a trade that also saw Manny Mota depart for Houston in exchange for Joey Amalfitano--another of the questionable Horace Stoneham trades in the 60s: Amalfitano, originally a Giants' bonus baby in the mid-50s, would hit .175 for San Francisco in 1963 and was quickly dumped. Mota, of course, would eventually fashion a notable career with the Pirates and Dodgers.)

The only man who didn't join the Giants' hit parade on this night: Willie Mays (0-for-4, now hitting just .205 for the year). Final score: Giants 8, Reds 6.

OVER in Milwaukee, Johnny Podres had his mojo working, scattering seven hits in a complete game win over the Braves. After spotting Milwaukee a 1-0 lead after four innings, the Dodgers rallied for single runs in the fifth and sixth, and added two insurance runs thanks to back-to-back doubles from Tommy Davis and Frank Howard, and a RBI single from former Yankee Andy Carey (another puzzle piece that Walt Alston would intermittently apply during the Dodgers' strange patchwork season).

Podres would struggle through much of 1962's first half (5.24 ERA, with a particularly disastrous June), but he would be a key cog in their rise to the top of the NL in the second half (12-7, 2.84). Final score: Dodgers 4, Braves 1.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022


Yes, they did have off-days in 1962...for the Giants and Dodgers, April 20th was one of them. We'll return to 1962 tomorrow. (Which allows us to sharpen our pen-knives on those present-day folk who would mislead us with their overly glib--and, in some cases, downright inaccurate--use of statistics.)

So let's call this post a tale of two Joes--Posnanski (we pronounce it "Pose-nan-ski") and Sheehan (pronunced "Sheet-pan"). And they are both finally worried that their ongoing bromance with "launch angle" has turned into what we've been saying about things for almost a decade--an impending, disastrous sinkhole for offense that makes the offensive downturn in 2014 look like a walk in the park.

Both men have become skilled (if that's the right word for it...) at tossing out intriguing, dramatic-sounding stats that are always either strangely bereft of context, or simply mangled (either deliberately or through incompetence) in order to make a claim that is either exaggerated or totally inaccurate. They've done it again this week, as the early returns on baseball's offense in '22 have put panic into their brainstems.

Let's dispense with Joe S. first, as he's simply mangling stats. Professing that the downturn we've seen in offense (particularly in HRs, where we're seeing "only about 1.01 HR/G across MLB thus far) is due to a new baseball, Mr. Sheet-pan has his Chicken Little act setting off alarm bells in 5.1 surround sound. 

In order to make that point, of course, Joe has mangled the stats. He claims that hitters had a SLG exceeding .900 (!!) on fly balls in 2021, when that number is really their OPS (SLG + OBP). Now even the "mediots" that Joe and his brethren at Baseball Prospectus used to mercilessly disparage during their "formative" years will know that OPS and SLG are not synonymous. A look at hitters' performance when they hit fly balls, as retrieved from the Play Index at shows that hitters slugged .694 when they hit fly balls in 2021; thus far in 2022, that figure is .559. 

Unfortunately, BB-ref doesn't make it possible to carve out SLG on fly balls into subsets of full seasons, but we strongly suspect that we're seeing a cold weather effect at play. If we could capture data that showed us the first two weeks of the 2021 season, we'd probably see that SLG on fly balls for that period was somewhere in the low-mid .600s. So there is almost certainly a downward turn in 2022--but it's not nearly as alarmingly pronounced as Joe S. claims. By positing that it's not just a cold-weather effect and doing a Chicken Little act on the baseballs, of course, Joe S. is side-stepping the necessary research to actually anatomize the cold-weather effect. (Things like that tend to get in the way of Chicken Little-like pronouncement...)

(Of course, the most interesting thing one can discover in the BB-Ref data is that, despite the craze for "launch angle" over the past 5-6 years, hitters are actually hitting fewer fly balls now than they did during the offensive explosion. For example, in 2003--MLB batters hit nearly 48,000 fly balls. In 2021, however, that figure was just over 39,000 fly balls. 

Take a guess where those 9,000 missing fly balls have migrated. That's right: they've become strikeouts. And that's why a solid analyst such as Brock Hanke recently made the forceful point that the game won't be able to solve the mess that "analytics" and its neo-sabe enablers have made until they address how to reverse the inexorably rising trend in strikeouts. A word to the wise: don't hold your breath.)

We'll see if MLB's apparent use of league-wide humidors is going to have any effect on offense, but for right now we're here to tell you that the downturn in HRs is due to a combination of factors, with the most significant one in play right now being the cold-weather effect. We can get hold of the overall stats for performance in cold weather (once again thanks to BB-Ref), and we can compare the numbers for 2021 and 2022 for the first two weeks of each year--the point in time with the highest occurrence of playing conditions where the temperature is less than 60 degrees.

When we do that, we can see that in the 126 games thus far in '22 played at < 60 degrees, the overall offensive numbers are .220/.303/.342 with a HR/game average of 0.74

Then, looking at the games thus far in '22 which were played at 60+ degrees, the offensive numbers are .237/.313/.391 with a HR/game average of 1.06.

Note that cold-weather games account for about 38% of the games played thus far in '22. That percentage will drop precipitously in a few weeks, as it always does--and at which point all of the numbers we've just displayed will rise. There were only a total of 458 "cold-weather" games in 2021, about 9% of the total number played (274 in April, 156 in May, 4 in June, 2 in July, and 22 in September).

We can make the same breakout for the first weeks of 2021 that we just did for 2022, of course. When we do that we see that the "cold-weather games" (< 60 degrees) in the first 13 days of the 2021 season (a total of 90 games) produced the following offensive numbers: .233/.316/.370 with a HR/game average of 0.96.

In the games in the same time frame played in 60+ degree weather (a total of 232 games) in 2021, we see these offensive numbers: .236/.313/.405, with a HR/game average of 1.27.

Note here that the "cold-weather percentage" for the first two weeks of 2021 was a good bit lower than has been the case in '22--just 28%. So conditions last year were more favorable for the "launch angle" approach, and are reflected in the HR/G average for those warmer early-season games--an average that's pretty close to what MLB achieved in 2021 as a whole (1.22 HR/game).

Also note that the "cold-weather" offensive performance is the portion that is seriously down from last year; the only thing that's declined in the warmer games, really, is the HR/G average. That tells us that things will snap back a good bit when warm weather is pervasive, and that the effect of dominant relief pitching--something that Joe P. has caviled about (fear not, he's not going to escape without getting at least some of what he deserves...)--is a temporary one. 

As you'll see in a minute, there are some nuances we can trace in the relief pitcher data that Joe P. (like the other Joe) doesn't bother to consider as he searches (as always) for how to get on both sides of the same issue. BB-Ref can let us break out appearance-by-appearance reliever data by temperature: it's a little messy to work with, but it can be done. When we do so, we see that relievers in '22 have been pitching lights out in cold weather

They have a 3.05 ERA in games where the temperature is < 60 degrees; in the warmer games, that ERA is 3.71. The slash line comparisons are: colder weather .210/.301/.319; warmer weather .227/.302/.380.

Note the ISO difference in those slash lines: colder, the ISO for relievers is .109; warmer, it's .153. In terms of HRs per 650 plate appearances, that's: colder, just under 12 HRs per 650 PAs; warmer, just under 20 HRs per 650 PAs. (That's a 60% increase in HRs allowed in the warmer games.)

So what's really happening this spring is that relievers have enjoyed inordinate success in avoiding the long ball during their cold-weather outings. But those cold-weather outings will be going away soon, and it will produce an inevitable decline in reliever effectiveness. 

So Joe P.'s yodeling in a recent blog post about how starting pitches are the weak link (when, in fact, starters are pitching better this year than last) is predicated on a hasty and incomplete analysis of the data. (Which is why we like to say that Joe P. puts the "pose" in Posnanski...actually, we don't like to say it--we wish like hell he'd stop doing it, but it's clearly become congenital.)

One final example of Joe P. tearing a page from the Joe S.'s Chicken Little playbook: he found a startling stat--and whatever else we may say about Joe, he's not dumb (you can't be a world-class poser if you're dumb)--about the percentage of games in 2022 thus far where the starter has gone at least six innings. Right now the stat is eye-poppingly low--around 15% (Joe had it at 14%, but it's starting to rise for reasons that we'll make clear in a moment).

It is startling, but it's also clear that it's an artifact of Manfred's folly (aka the lockout), which bequeathed us a too-abbreviated spring training. Joe actually knows all this, and does his usual sneaky backpedaling while simultaneously trying to make hay with readers due to the "shock value" of the stat--which also means not putting it into context...such as, what was the same percentage in the first couple weeks of 2021? You won't find it as part of Joe's blog post. (It was just over 30% for the first two weeks of '21, and wound up just under 40% for the entire year; you can expect the current figure to make a steady rise in that direction as the season moves out of its extended spring training mode.)

Of course, contextualizing these numbers allows "the Pose" to ring an alarm bell--and unring it simultaneously. He can point to stats that suggest that the sky is falling for starting pitchers even as the sky is falling for hitters--when the truth is that the cold weather has helped relievers go on a hot streak. It allows him to get on both sides of the "three true outcomes" miasma in the game, and defend the so-called intellectual efficacy of the "launch angle" catastrophe that subverted "analytics" and has infected the creation of new "stats" that threaten to institutionalize the very precepts that have strangled the game into two-dimensionality.

It's clear that these two guys are not going to lead baseball out of its wilderness; they've become too enamored with the sound of their own voices to be of any real use. The most ominous aspect of it is that they selectively use and loudly misapply stats in order to make it appear that they are somehow part of a "cutting edge" that has opened larger and more gaping wounds in a game that, like the world as a whole, deserves a better fate. 

Our best educated guess is that MLB will wind up at around a .240 BA in 2022, with about 1.05-1.12 HR/game. The game desperately needs to add hitters like Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, and Wade Boggs back into its mix again--the notion that pitchers are now so highly evolved that such players can no longer exist is part of the cul-de-sac that both Joes are circling in their Hoverrounds along with all the rest of the "best and brightest." We need a sea-change in "analytics" that looks for ways to re-integrate hitters like Willie Keeler, Paul Waner, and Luke Appling, and that celebrates and sustains a diversity of excellence. We might get there, or we might not...but one thing seems certain: we won't get there by listening to the natterings of the two Joes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


Baseball schedules were much more ramshackle in the 1960s than is the case today. Teams had longer road trips and homestands--a relic of the game as it had existed in the years prior to the Giants and Dodgers moving from New York to the West Coast. 

And the frequency of doubleheaders was much, much greater than today as well. Later in the season (late May to mid-June), the Dodgers will have a 19-game road trip that will feature four doubleheaders. They will have a total of ten doubleheaders during the 1962 season; the Giants will have nine.

On April 19th (a Thursday in 1962), both teams would carve out one-run victories. In Cincy, the Dodgers scored another early KO on Moe Drabowsky (still years away from his successful conversion into a relief pitcher), taking a 3-0 lead in the second. However, Sandy Koufax was still not quite the fully anointed "Left Arm of God" (that would come to pass in June) and he gave back two runs in the third via four straight hits. 

This was the only game in Dodger history where rookie Tim Harkness batted third, and to make it doubly unique, he was followed in the batting order by the increasingly fragile veteran Duke Snider, giving the Dodgers a lineup where their 3-4 hitters amassed just over 200 plate appearances for the season. It managed to work, however, as Harkness singled in a run and Snider greeted reliever Sammy Ellis with a homer in the top of the fourth, making the score 4-2. 

The Dodgers would hold on as Koufax settled in, blanking the Reds from that point until weakening in the eighth. Ron Perranoski would strike out Gordy Coleman in the eighth to quell Cincinnati's last rally, and he'd close things out in the ninth by striking out the Reds' ace pinch-hitter Jerry Lynch. Final score: Dodgers 4, Reds 3.

IN Milwaukee, Al Dark continued to dish out workload to his starters, allowing Juan Marichal to face 41 batters as he fashioned a most ungainly complete game. The Giants overcame an early 3-0 deficit with a five-run fifth thanks to Lew Burdette's control deserting him. They would tack on two more runs in the seventh thanks to more hot hitting from Felipe Alou (RBI single, 2-for-4 in the game, now at .464 for the season) and Ed Bailey's sacrifice fly. 

Marichal gave up three HRs in the game (shades of 2019!), including two by Eddie Mathews (who drove in five runs in a losing cause) but he had just enough gas in the tank to get the Giants over the finish line. Final score: Giants 7, Braves 6.

SEASON RECORDS: PIT 8-0, STL 6-0, SF 7-3, HOU 5-3, LAD 6-4, PHI 3-4, CIN 4-6, MIL 2-7, CHC 1-8, NYM 0-7.

The very early going in 1962 featured hot starts from the Pirates and the Cardinals, who had the good fortune to each play two teams--the Cubs and the first-year Mets--who staggered out of the box. The Pirates, who started the year 10-0, would have an extremely streaky season, with many winning and losing streaks in excess of four games; one of these streaks, down the stretch in September, would be pivotal in keeping the Dodgers in the race. The first-year Colt .45s (later, of course, the Astros) started well, but they would endure a brutal 6-29 streak starting in late June that would bring them crashing back to reality. They would give the Dodgers some trouble late in September, however, adding to the spiky drama that played out in the last ten days of the season. 

Monday, April 18, 2022


After splitting their initial skirmishes at Candlestick Park, the Giants and Dodgers moved east. For Walt Alston's team, it was a reminder that the back end of their starting rotation was more than a bit shaky.

19-year old Joe Moeller got the start at Cincinnati's Crosley Field, which had a "terraced outfield" capable of more than occasional mischief, particularly for visiting players. For young Moeller, however, the outfield wasn't really the problem--it was a combination of his shaky control and Vada Pinson. The "teenage monster" issued two walks before Pinson slammed a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. 

It wasn't until the second inning when the slanted outfield came into play, when Frank Howard misplayed Johnny Edwards' liner into a double. Things fell apart rapidly for Moeller, who got little help from Ed Roebuck, who proved incapable of stranding the men Moeller had left on the basepaths when Alston gave him a not-quick-enough "quick hook." It was 6-0 Reds after two innings, and things went further downhill for Roebuck and his successor Phil Ortega.

Tommy Davis' two errors in center field convinced Alston that he needed to put the other Davis--Willie--back into the field. (Willie was still being held out against lefties at this point, and the Reds had started southpaw Jim O'Toole, who was mowing down the beleaguered "boys in blue" on this evening.) Tommy would start only three more games in center field during the course of the '62 season. 

O'Toole wound up with nine strikeouts and allowed only four hits. Final score: Reds 14, Dodgers 0.

THE Giants were in Milwaukee, where Henry Aaron emerged from his slump (his second HR of the year) and Willie Mays continued to struggle (0-for-4, hitting just .219). Still, the Giants had a 4-3 lead going into the eighth thanks in part to a two-run homer by rookie catcher Tom Haller, who would emerge as manager Al Dark's favorite over the course of the season.

But Stu Miller, who'd been virtually invincible in 1961 (14-5 record in relief, 2.66 ERA, 12th in MVP voting), had a nightmarish eighth inning, finally surrendering the go-ahead runs via a single from light-hitting second baseman Frank Bolling. Final score: Braves 6, Giants 4.

Dark's championing of Haller over veteran Ed Bailey is one of those hard-to-explain "insider baseball" scenarios that would seem to defy any form of analysis. Despite a poor year in 1961 split between the big club (where he hit .145) and AAA (where he hit .205), Dark kept Haller as his #2 catcher in '62 ahead of another seemingly more promising prospect (Johnny Orsino, who'd hit over .300 in AAA). 

But whatever Dark saw in Haller panned out, at least offensively: he would massively exceed expectations at the plate in '62, winding up with a OPS just under .900, and he would supplant Bailey as the starting catcher, despite the fact that the Giants won much more frequently in '62 when Bailey was the starting backstop. Consider: in Bailey's 69 starts at catcher during 1962, the Giants posted a 51-18 record; with Haller as the starting catcher, their record was just 44-39. (Bailey would have one of his best seasons in 1963, only to get traded to the Braves along with Felipe Alou as part of the systematic self-sabotage that would plague the Giants in the mid-to-late 1960s. It's even more bizarre to note that Bailey was actually reacquired by the Giants after the '64 season, only to be jettisoned again in mid-1965 after a slow start.)

As my old pal Gary Daer would say: go figure.


Sunday, April 17, 2022


April 17th occurred on a Tuesday in 1962, and for the Dodgers and Giants it was a day game in San Francisco following a night game where run scoring had gotten seriously out of control (27 total runs, as noted in our previous installment). This Tuesday afternoon would see a more pedestrian, commonplace slugfest, where the teams combined to score 15 runs.

That total seems rarely paltry in comparison, to be sure, but just how "commonplace" are such games? We know that 25+ total run games are exceptionally rare, accounting for just two-tenths of one percent of all games played (that's not 2%; it's 0.2%). Games where 15+ runs are scored turn out to be much more common, but are still relatively rare; as our patented "time-grid table"™ at right shows, the percentage of such games since 1900 (122 seasons' worth) is 11.7%.

That figure, of course, has oscillated over time based on the ebb and flow of run scoring levels. The chart shows us that the 15+ total run games mostly correlate to periods of high offense (1920s/1930s, 1990s/2000s), and it shows us how such games nearly vanished in the 1960s due to the strike zone change.

It also shows us that 1962's percentage is almost identical to the one for major league baseball history as a whole.

Oddly, the Dodgers played in more 15+ run games in '62 than the Giants (24 to 20). That would change in the years to follow...

But back to our daily game. Don Drysdale and Mike McCormick both make brief appearances in the 1962 thriller Experiment in Terror, but this is not the game that was filmed for its frantic denouement. (For one thing, those scenes were from a night game; for another, McCormick didn't stick around long in this one enough for any filmmaker to get much footage.) Drysdale was the one who was scored on first, however, as he ran into the buzzsaw named Felipe Alou, who tripled in two runs in the bottom of the first. (Alou would go 2-for-4 in the game with 3 RBI, and would raise his early-season BA to .484).

Drysdale and McCormick pitched poorly in their outings on 4/17/62,
but not this poorly...
But Walt Alston had some potent tea leaves that he was sifting over the Dodger dugout. Opting to leave Willie Davis on the bench against the lefty McCormick, he shifted Tommy Davis to center, put righty-hitting Lee Walls in left, and decided that he'd liked the way rookie Tim Harkness had swung the bat the night before in his pinch-hitting appearance (despite the fact that Harkness was a lefty swinger).

His hunch paid off in the top of the second when Harkness hit a two-run homer off McCormick, tying the score. The Dodgers added one more run that inning when Maury Wills tripled home Drysdale; in the third, Frank Howard's first homer of the year (he'd wind up with 31 to lead the team), a mammoth shot to center, knocked McCormick out of the game and gave the Dodgers a 5-2 lead. They'd add three more in the fourth off Jim Duffalo when Tommy Davis hit a bases-clearing double after Orlando Cepeda's throwing error had extended the inning.

But Drysdale soon began to fritter away that 8-2 lead. Ed Bailey hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth; Alou's infield single in the fifth brought in another run. And when Cepeda hit his own bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh, the Dodger lead had shrunk to 8-7.

Cepeda had made a baserunning gaffe on the play, however, and was put out--which proved decisive when Jim Gilliam made an error later in the inning, putting the go-ahead run on base. Reliever Larry Sherry needed just two outs instead of three--but had to face two familiar names as pinch-hitters: Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. Sherry struck out Mays, and induced McCovey to fly out to left, ending the Giants' threat.

Giants' manager Al Dark, so concerned about conserving his pitchers the night before, did a 180 and had reliever Don Larsen pinch-hit to start the eighth. (This wasn't as wacky as it might sound: Larsen was an excellent hitter, having hit .311 the previous year.) Sherry struck him out anyway. In the ninth, the Giants had the potential winning run at the plate with two out: the batter was Mays, who'd stayed in the game after his unsuccessful pinch-hitting experience. Sherry, in his third inning of relief, still had his stuff, however: he induced Mays to pop up to third baseman Daryl Spencer. It may have been a "more pedestrian" slugfest, but the outcome had been in doubt until the very last pitch. Final score: Dodgers 8, Giants 7.


Saturday, April 16, 2022


April 16th fell on Monday in 1962, and it fell all over the Dodgers as they traveled to Candlestick Park for the first of what would turn out to be 21 games against their arch rivals. The result was the second highest scoring game of the entire 1962 season, one of only four games in which the combined number of runs scored equaled or exceeded 25.

We can label these as "extreme high scoring" games. They are strange anomalies in a "system" that mostly produces results where teams combine to score less than ten total runs in any given game. (For the record, the percentage of such games--9 total runs or less--over all games played since 1900 is just under 62%).

"Extreme high scoring games" show up more often in high-scoring environments, occasionally associated with extreme ballparks like Coors, or others that have capricious weather conditions (think Wrigley Field "when the wind is blowing out"). One strange feature of today is an uptick of such games even as run scoring has begun to settle underneath historical norms. 

Our patented "time grid" chart™shows the yearly incidence of these games. The overall average is about seven games per year. As you can see, the 1960s proved to be the time frame in which such games were particularly scarce.

BUT let's get back to the Stick, that now-demolished beautiful eyesore commemorating a jauntier, more innocent form of graft. It certainly looked as though things were tilting the Dodgers' way when Tommy Davis, their cleanup hitter who'd wind up with 153 RBI for the year, strode to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out. But Giants starter Billy O'Dell wiggled his way out of the scoring threat by getting Davis to fly out to shallow right. Lee Walls then popped to second base, and Ron Fairly lofted a fly ball down the right field line that Felipe Alou caught in foul territory.

That moment of deflation did not immediately set the Dodgers on course toward the ruin that was to follow. Stan Williams looked sharp in the bottom of the first, but after O'Dell had picked Johnny Roseboro off to end the Dodger half of the second, the roof began to collapse in stages. Stage 1: Felipe Alou, the hottest hitter in the NL, hits a homer. Three batters later, after pesky Jose Pagan singles, steals second and goes to third on catcher Roseboro's throwing error, Jim Davenport homers. It's 3-0 Giants.

The Dodgers get a run back when Tommy Davis--currently the second hottest hitter in the NL--singles in Wills. But shapeshifting Stan Williams brings out his evil cousin in the bottom of the third: he proceeds to walk the first three batters he faces. Alston replaces him with the reliable middle reliever Ed Roebuck, who would go on to fashion a ten-game winning streak  as the Dodgers' "third man" behind Ron Perranoski and Larry Sherry

But Roebuck walks Orlando Cepeda, and then ties an unbreakable record by allowing two sacrifice flies in a single inning (think about it). He also gives up a single, which when you read it this way doesn't sound so bad...and yet the Giants score four runs in the inning to take a 7-1 lead.

Alston decides not to waste Roebuck in such a lopsided game, and bats for him in the top of the fourth. But this means that he'll need to go deeper into his bullpen: enter "mop-up man #1", Phil Ortega, a wild young righthander that the Dodgers were portraying to the media as a Hispanic when, in fact, he was actually a Native American. Naturally, Ortega loaded the bases (a single, two walks) with two outs. Jim Gilliam then unleashed a wild throw that allowed two more runs to score: 9-1 Giants.

We can't find a baseball card for Willard Hunter, but this
photo of him as a Dodger is almost as scarce...
Ortega has a scoreless fifth; Alston bats for him in the top of the sixth. But that means he must go even deeper into his bullpen...cue "mop-up man #2," Willard Hunter, a wild lefty whom the Dodgers had converted into a reliever in hopes of solving his control problems. (It hadn't worked.) But here he was, making his big league debut...and Hunter was about to get captured by the game.

Bottom of the sixth: Willard has put the first two Giants on base (walk, single). Up strides Willie Mays. First pitch: BOOM! Over the left-center field fence. It's 12-1 Giants.

Willard retires the next three batters, and the Dodgers show some signs of life in the top of the seventh, scoring twice. But the bottom of the seventh was probably still playing out in Hunter's mind when he passed away in 2021: it's one of those consummately messy innings where a combination of maladroit and malodorous forces congeal into a fright-wig-adorned nightmare. 

Ten Giants came to the plate; seven of them scored. The most unseemly event in this entire miasma came late in the action, when the score was already 17-3: for reasons known only to him, Orlando Cepeda stole home. (Oddly, Felipe Alou, the runner on first, did not break for second base on the play, indicating that it was entirely the Baby Bull's idea.)

Hunter's pitching line for his turn in the Monday night funhouse: 2 IP, 6 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. The score was now Giants 19, Dodgers 3.

As you might suspect, Willard Hunter's debut for the Dodgers was his swan song for them as well. He was sent back to Spokane, and late in May he was shipped off to the New York Mets, where he fit right into Casey Stengel's cockeyed caravan.

Alston decided to give Perranoski some work in the bottom of the eighth, and that looked more like what you'd expect: one inning, one hit, one strikeout.

In the top of the ninth, however, we witness one of the major differences between today's game and what went on sixty years ago. There is no way that any present-day starting pitcher is going to be around in the ninth inning of a game like this; they are likely to have been gone by the sixth inning. And even sixty years ago, many managers would pull their starter in such a lopsided game.

Not Al Dark, however. Even though it was clear that O'Dell was pitching on fumes (and barely noticeable fumes at that...), the man who is a finalist in the "Most Inappropriate Nickname" competition (look it up!) just let the ninth inning churn on as O'Dell failed to retire five of the first six batters he faced. Even Dodger scrubeenies such as Doug Camilli and Tim Harkness smacked the ball around. O'Dell finally induced Maury Wills and Larry Burright to make the final outs, but not before the Dodgers had scored five runs. 

That left O'Dell with one of the ugliest complete game pitching lines that you're likely to see: 9 IP, 15 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO. He faced a mind-blowing 47 batters--enough for two starts based on today's usage patterns.

But, then again, without Dark's coma-at-the-controls approach, we'd have one fewer "extreme high scoring" game for 1962, and the Giants would've had none for the year. (The Dodgers had another one of these a bit later--we'll leave it to you to guess which team it might be. Clue: the Dodgers were on the winning end in that one.) Final score: Giants 19, Dodgers 8.


Friday, April 15, 2022


WHO are the Hall of Famers on the 1962 editions of the Giants and the Dodgers? 

For San Francisco, you have Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal; for  Los Angeles, you have Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale

But you have four pennants and three World Series titles for the Dodgers in the years 1959-1966, as opposed to one pennant and no World Championships for the Giants.

That's the long-standing context for why Koufax, with just 165 lifetime wins, and Drysdale, with only 209, are in the Hall. More evidence for that can be seen in the table below that shows the top 20 pitchers in the National League from 1959 to 1966 (minimum of 750 IP, sorted by ERA+):

(Pitchers in the HOF have orange shading; those who pitched for the Giants or the Dodgers in time frame have yellow shading. Pitchers shown in grey ink did not pitch for either team in 1962. Probably everyone but Brock Hanke has forgotten that prolific reliever Lindy McDaniel pitched for the Giants in 1966; and many have forgotten about Bob Miller, who was rescued from the Mets after a 1-12 season in '62 and became a solid swingman for the Dodgers the next year. Stan Williams, who was traded after the '62 season due to his erratic performance, still managed to rank #20 on this list.) 

As you can see, over those eight years, Koufax is #1 in ERA+ and #3 in IP; Drysdale is #7 in ERA+ (#5 for those with more than 1000 IP) and #1 in IP by a wide margin (over Larry Jackson). Jim Bunning, arriving in the NL in 1964, burnished his case for the HOF with some stellar pitching for the Phillies, which drops Juan Marichal to #3 in ERA+.

ON SUNDAY, APRIL 15, however, neither Marichal nor Koufax were in Hall of Fame form. (It would be interesting to track the number of times that the two of them pitched on the same day, and how many times they both lost when they did so--yet another research project.) In San Francisco, Marichal's first-inning wildness put two runners on ahead of Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson, and the Reds scored twice; in the third, two errors behind him resulted in Marichal surrendering two unearned runs. 

Cincinnati's Bob Purkey, who would go on to post a 23-5 record in 1962, stranded Giants baserunners heroically for seven innings, but finally gave way in the eighth; Frank Robinson and Roy McMillan saved the game for the Reds when they caught Jim Davenport taking too wide a turn at first after singling and threw him out, capping the Giants' rally at just three runs. In the bottom of the ninth, Cepeda's towering fly ball just stayed in the park and was caught at the wall by Marty Keough for the final out. Final score: Reds 4, Giants 3.

Down in LA, Henry Aaron (who entered the game hitting .056) finally awakened in the fifth inning as the Braves took it to Koufax, who'd thrown four innings of one-hit, six-strikeout ball to that point and took a 3-0 lead into the inning. As it was, though, Aaron's single was a tapper in front of the plate that came to rest on the chalk of the foul line; Eddie Mathews followed with a two-run single to tie the game. Aaron would homer off Koufax in the seventh, driving him from the game. 

Meanwhile, the Dodgers, who'd gotten three runs early off young lefty Bob Hendley, managed just one more hit over the final six innings as the Braves finally got into the win column for the first time in 1962. Final score: Braves 6, Dodgers 3. (Koufax and Hendley would have a much more memorable matchup three years later when the two lefties combined to allow only one hit in an entire game--that game, of course, which occurred on September 9, 1965, was the one in which Sandy orchestrated his fourth no-hitter, his perfect game against the Chicago Cubs.)