Thursday, June 30, 2022


It doesn't seem as though they call them "no-no's" any more--whoever "they" were (or, for that matter, who they are now). With starting pitchers so rarely making it to the seventh inning these days, no-hitters are increasingly multi-pitcher events; when a gaggle of hurlers combine for one, we should probably use as many "no's" as needed to cover the number of pitchers involved...

Thankfully, none of that was needed on June 30, 1962, when Sandy Koufax threw the first of his four no-hitters in Los Angeles against the New York Mets. Beginning the game with some of his best stuff, Koufax fanned seven of the first nine batters he faced, then struggled with his control in the later innings; he survived a rough eighth inning, where he threw a lot of pitches (losing his hat twice as he reached for something extra), and made it through on fumes in the ninth as two of the Mets slapped sharp grounders that just happened to be hit right at fielders. 

Thanks to the work of Allan Roth, we can anatomize Sandy's inning-by-inning progress on the road to his no-hitter, and create a display that might prove useful for locating in-game trends for pitcher performance. From what we know, only Roth was charting pitch-by-pitch information in 1962; thankfully, Retrosheet was able to obtain the data and incorporate it into their database, from which it migrated to, where it can be seen in what is arguably its definitive presentation. (Though we wish they had a chart like the one at left...)

In this chart, we can see the inning-by-inning progression of pitches, strikeouts, walks, and other key "at-bat granular" stats such as three-ball counts, two-strike counts, one-pitch at-bats, high-pitch at bats, and hits on the first pitch or with two strikes. All of these variables can potentially tell us much more than the standard pitching line in a box score--or even such modern summary contraptions like Game Scores or QMAX. 

When we use the data in this table, we see Sandy's blazing early innings, from the "immaculate" first (nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts) through the third, where we can start to see some deterioration in his level of mastery (note the 3-ball counts creeping up in the third and remaining prominent in the innings that follow). The dominance can be further quantified with a look at the "K/2-strike c(oun)ts" stat shown in the lower right portion of the chart where three-inning breaks (innings 1-3, 4-6, 7-9) are displayed. Koufax converted 88% of his two-strike counts into strikeouts in the first three innings; but, as you can see, that figure declines markedly as the game goes on.

Likewise, the "BB/3-ball c(ount)s" rise as the game goes on, until in innings 7-9 he's pitching at a deficit in terms of the ratio of this stat to the "K/2-strike" measure (29%/60%). Those numbers probably tell us that Koufax was fortunate to be facing the Mets instead of a stronger hitting team as he attempt to nail down his "no-no." (We'll take this up again later on when we look at his later no-hitters in a separate article.)

The Dodgers scored four runs with two out in the bottom of the first inning to essentially put the game away from the get-go, with RBIs from the two hitters who'd dominate the RBI race in the second half of the year (Tommy Davis, Frank Howard). Even the almost-forgotten Larry Burright, who hit .161 in June after his singularly hot May, had a hit in this game. Final score: Dodgers 5, Mets 0.

IN San Francisco, the end of June couldn't come fast enough for Orlando Cepeda, who had an extremely cold month (as the summary of Giants' hitters totals in June demonstrates). Felipe Alou, on the other hand, clearly wished that June could go on forever. Both of them observed the last day of the month with some longball action against the Phillies: Alou hit two homers and drove in four runs, including a three-run shot against Chris Short in the seventh. Right after Alou's second blast, Cepeda finished off a rare good day in June (3-for-4) with a homer of his own against Short. 

Bobby Bolin, stretched out by several long relief appearances earlier in the month, got the start and zig-zagged his way through 6 1/3 innings, in bend-but-not-break mode (9 hits, 2 runs). As the month came to a close, the Giants were looking like their old selves again. Final score: Giants 8, Phillies 2.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Much went amuck right away in LA on Friday, June 29, 1962: it was a warm, unusually humid early summer night, particularly for southern California, and it had an immediate--and quite bizarre--impact on the game that evening between the Dodgers and the Mets.

Teenage monster fall down, go boom...
Walt Alston was careful in choosing opponents for his fifth starter, "teen-age monster" Joe Moeller. (If you look up Moeller's game logs, you'll see that he never once faced the San Francisco Giants, a fact that cannot be accidental.) So the Mets, an expansion team struggling like no other in baseball history, seemed to be a perfect fit.

But Moeller had become increasingly erratic month-by-month, with walk percentages that were rising ominously as the season progressed (April: 10%, May: 14%, June: 17%). With fourth starter Stan Williams showing similar tendencies, the usually taciturn Alston was becoming actively vocal about the need for reinforcements--but none were forthcoming.

So the teenage monster took the mound against the Mets. He walked canny walkman Richie Ashburn on a 3-2 pitch, then got Rod Kanehl on a fly ball to right. But then he proceeded to walk Gene Woodling, Frank Thomas and Charlie Neal to force in a run. 

Alston, sweating profusely, trudged to the mound and took the ball from Moeller, who wiped sweat from his eyes for the entire time it took for Ron Perranoski to amble in from the bullpen. After the teenage monster and his rueful manager had departed, Perranoski delivered his first warm-up pitch to catcher Norm Sherry--and threw it all the way to the backstop. Sherry gave "Perry" a quick double-take, and threw him a new ball, shaking his head.

Was it a premonition? Oh, yes. Perranoski went 3-2 to catcher Sammy Taylor--and walked him, forcing in a run. (2-0 Mets.) He went 3-0 to Felix Mantilla, threw a strike--and then threw one in the dirt that Sherry kept from going to the backstop. That forced in another run. (3-0 Mets.) Elio Chacon--the excitable shortstop who'd gotten into that dustup with Willie Mays earlier in the season--decided it was time to swing away, flailing at a bad pitch, fouling off the next, and then taking a pitch from Perranoski that was over the heart of the plate for strike three. 

But that was only the second out. Next up was the Mets' starting pitcher Jay Hook, who clearly had the "take sign" on throughout the at-bat. Try as he might, Perranoski could not get the ball over for a strike: it appeared that his eyebrows were melting away in the humid night. He nipped the corner on 3-0 for a strike, and then just missed with his next pitch, forcing in yet another run. (4-0 Mets.) A disconsolate Alston came to the top step of the Dodger dugout, paused, then raised his hands in a gesture of frustration as he retreated.

Richie Ashburn, who'd drawn a walk about twenty-five minutes earlier, came up for his second at-bat of the inning. He took a ball. And another ball. And a strike! (The crowd cheered derisively.) Then Ball Three, accompanied by groans. Then--strike two! A hush in the humid night took hold as Perranoski delivered the payoff pitch...

Ashburn slapped it on the ground, past the pitchers mound, just to the right of second. Maury Wills, shaded straightaway, made a dive for it, but the ball squirted past him into center field. Two more runs scored, making it 6-0 Mets--and it was their first hit of the game.

A glassy-eyed Alston emerged from the dugout and brought in mop-up man Phil Ortega, who threw one pitch to Rod Kanehl--who hit a pop fly that first baseman Ron Fairly caught in foul territory. A refugee from Brooklyn could be heard as the Dodgers left the field to a generous smattering of catcalls: "You see, you bums--THAT's how you do it!!"

Seven walks, one hit, six runs. How close to a record are we for the most walks in a single inning? Not that close, surprisingly. The Washington Senators walked eleven Yankees in the third inning of a game played on September 11, 1949. And the Chicago Cubs walked nine batters--including Don Hoak and Roy McMillan twice--in the fifth inning of a game against the Reds on August 24, 1957. So, as you can see, this was child's play...

Hook managed to keep a lid on things as the game progressed, giving back a run here and a run there, but bending, not breaking. Ortega gave up a homer to Felix Mantilla in the third, and then the real Mr. Erratic entered the game for LA in the fifth: Stan Williams. As if there hadn't been enough walks in the game already, Stan made everyone in the park slap-happy by walking eight more Mets in his five innings of grave-digging. He walked two in the fifth, one in the sixth (Rod Kanehl, one the hardest men to walk in baseball history), three in eighth, and two in the ninth.

That made a total of sixteen walks issued to a team that wound up the year with a 40-120 record. The Mets managed only four hits in the game, but they won this one in a cakewalk. (Tomorrow would be completely different, however.) Final score: Mets 10, Dodgers 4.

IN SF, the two managers--Gene Mauch of the Phillies, and Al Dark of the Giants--demonstrated how to overwork starting pitchers. Mauch let his young lefty Dennis Bennett pitch to 42 batters over nine full innings--that's a "batters faced" total that today is much more likely to require two starts to reach. Bennett would develop arm trouble later in the year and had his effectiveness (and his career) cut short.

Dark went one better--he left his pitcher (Billy O'Dell) in the game for its entire length--twelve innings. It was the first of two games where O'Dell pitched more than nine innings in a game. The total number of batters faced for O'Dell in this game: 46. (And that still wasn't the most number of batters he'd faced in game during '62: back in April, Dark had left him to go all the way in a 19-8 win against the Dodgers: O'Dell faced 47 batters in that one.)

All of that was crazy, but it likely stemmed from Dark having played in an era (the post-WWII era into the late 50s) when long starter outings were much more common. As the table at left indicates, starters pitching more than nine innings was more frequent in the 1946-56 time frame--which was Dark's heyday as the Giants' starting shortstop. Oddly, however, the Giants really weren't a team that used that practice very often at that time--it seems to cluster with the Braves (Warren Spahn--22 times) and the Phillies (Robin Roberts--18 times). Of the eight teams that played all twenty-three years depicted in the table, the Giants have the lowest total of such games, with the Dodgers next-to-last. But the concept of a starter exceeding nine innings was clearly still a mainstream one even in 1962, where a dilution of pitching talent may have forced managed to consider the idea more frequently.

Oh yes: Ed Bailey hit a homer off Jack Baldschun leading off the bottom of the 12th to win the game for SF. Final score: Giants 4, Phillies 3 (12 innings).


Tuesday, June 28, 2022


The Mets and the Phillies would swap places on a late June-early July west coast swing, with the two teams continuing to manifest their strange variations on streakiness that dominated their performance in the '62 season. 

One reason for this streakiness might be the structure of the NL schedule in 1962, reaching an apex of extremity due to the combination of geographical and franchise expansion; two additional teams in the league added to two teams on the west coast created a domino effect of very long homestands and roadtrips, as can be seen in the diagram at right. (Road trips shown in shades of orange; homestands in yellow.) Both the Dodgers and the Giants were in the midst of exceptionally long homestands during June, which would extend into July.

The Phillies had recovered from their late May smashup and had won 16 of 25 as they arrived in SF on June 28th. Aside from weak-hitting SS Bobby Wine and the aging, slump-ridden Roy Sievers, the team was hitting well and they would stay focused in their opener against the Giants, adjusting to what they were seeing from Juan Marichal. Early in the game, however, Phils' manager Gene Mauch had to make a pitching intervention when the Giants cuffed around eternally struggling starter Jim Owens

The reliever he selected was a 28-year-old rookie lefthander named Billy Smith, a not-overpowering pitcher who nevertheless just kept winning at Triple-A (137-93 lifetime). He'd come over to the Phillies from the Cardinals in the 1959-60 offseason, but even a 47-107 crash-and-burn in '61 had not prompted the Phils' brain trust to give him a look; in '62, however, he started the year 7-1 at Buffalo, so he'd gotten the summons, losing his first start on June 23 against his former club.

On this day, however, Smith proceeded to throw 7 1/3 scoreless innings against SF, who'd taken a 2-1 lead in the second before Mauch had summoned him. Marichal nursed that lead into the sixth, but the play-him-for-his-glove Wine homered to tie the score. That seemed to unsettle Marichal, who'd already given up a homer to Don Demeter in the second (remember, we mentioned that the gopher ball would contribute to a tailspin for Juan in the early summer of '62). In the seventh, Demeter homered again, this one a two-run shot, putting the Phils ahead 4-2. After an out, Wine singled, took second on a passed ball, and scored when pitcher Smith launched one over Willie Mays' head that one-hopped the center-field fence for a double. Final score: Phillies 7, Giants 2.

On the basis of this performance, Smith was given a shot in the Phillies' rotation, but it didn't pan out--he was relegated to the bullpen in mid-July, where he was intermittently effective. He would return to AAA in '63, hurt his arm the following year, and retire. His win (and his RBI) in this game would be the only one in his major-league career.

IN LA, the Dodgers were playing one of their favorite patsies in '62--the New York Mets. Even though they were patsies, however, the Mets could still be pesky--and Walt Alston could still manage to leave Johnny Podres in the game for one inning too many, as he discovered again in the eighth, when, nursing s 3-1 lead, Johnny gave up two hits to open in the inning. Larry Sherry and Ron Perranoski were both wild as they attempted to get things under control; it took Ed Roebuck to finally close out the inning, but not before the Mets had scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead. 

The Dodgers got even when Maury Wills greeted Ken McKenzie with one of the hardest hit balls of his career--a drive that just missed clearing the bullpen gate in right field. Maury wound up on third with a triple; Jim Gilliam brought him in with a single through the drawn-in infield.

And then it was HLRA ("hell-ra" know, "heroic lengthy relief appearance") time again, as Roebuck trudged to the mound in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth AND thirteenth innings to stave off the Mets. He was matched by a very game McKenzie, who retired nine Dodgers in a row as the game moved into the wee hours. Finally, in the thirteenth, Ken surrendered a walk to Jim Gilliam. Willie Davis' topper to first got him to second. Mets manager Casey Stengel decided to intentionally walk Tommy Davis--probably because Davis was leading the league in RBI and the man behind him, Frank Howard, was 0-for-5 in the game.

That proved to be a mistake, as Howard scorched one into left center for a double for a walk-off win. It was twelve minutes after midnight when Gilliam touched home plate with the winning run. Final score: Dodgers 5, Mets 4 (13 innings)


Monday, June 27, 2022


While we're focusing on the Giants and Dodgers in this retrospective tour of the 1962 National League pennant race, we'd be remiss if we didn't examine several of the other teams that gave chase during the year. The most prominent of these: the Cincinnati Reds, who'd won the NL pennant in 1961 and still had a very strong team. 

Looking back on the '62 season, the reason the Reds fell short is that they had a poor June--a noticeably worse month, in fact, than the Giants and Dodgers, whose struggles in the month still managed to wind up "in the black" (Dodgers 17-14, Giants 16-13). As the chart at right shows, however, the Reds' pitching hit the skids in June: the team' aggregate ERA for the month was the worst in the league--worse even than the two league doormats, the Mets and Cubs.

That situation would turn around dramatically in July; after their third consecutive loss to the Giants on this day (June 27, 1962), the Reds would post the best record in the NL by a sizable margin (as shown at left). Known as a hitting team, they would actually have the best pitching in the NL during the second half of the season. The problem was their hitting became inconsistent: they continued to struggle against the Giants, Cardinals and Phillies, braking their momentum at crucial points --and the June 25-27 series at Candlestick was a good example of this. In retrospect, this series proved to a be a pivotal one: if its outcome had been reversed, the Reds would have played the Dodgers in a playoff series instead of the Giants. 

But on June 27, Reds' manager Fred Hutchinson was struggling to find starting pitching. Aside from Bob Purkey (4-0, 1.44 ERA), everyone else available to him was struggling. June was young Jim Maloney's worst month (7.04 ERA), and the balance of the Reds' top-end rotation (Joey Jay, Jim O'Toole) had been wildly inconsistent. Hutch was trying out relievers (Johnny Klippstein), suspects/rejects (Moe Drabowsky, soon to depart for Kansas City) and hope-against-hope reclamation projects (Ted Wills). It would all turn around in the next month, when Maloney improved, Jay and O'Toole snapped back into form, and veteran Joe Nuxhall joined the team to become a highly valuable swing man (5-0, 3.03 ERA, including a brilliant game against the Dodgers in August in which he fanned 11).

But tonight it was...Ted Wills. It was a game effort, but the home run ball continued to plague him. Harvey Kuenn hit a two-run homer off him in the first; the Reds got a run back in the top of the second when Wally Post homered off Mike McCormick. The Giants got a mid-60s Dodger-style run in the third when McCormick walked, took second on a wild pitch, was sacrificed to third by Jose Pagan, and scored when Kuenn laid down a suicide squeeze. (And that's something you'll likely never see in baseball again: a pitcher other than Shohei Ohtani scoring a run.) 

Post singled in a run in the fourth to narrow the gap again; in the sixth, Hank Foiles drove McCormick from the game with a run-scoring double, tying the score. But Hutchinson blinked, leaving Wills in to hit with two out and two on, squandering his best chance to take the lead. Wills hit a grounder back to the box; reliever Bobby Bolin threw him out.

Wills got the first two out in the bottom of the sixth, but then walked Jim Davenport. Ed Bailey, who'd already rung the bell against his former team the day before (a pinch-hit grand slam), then connected again, slamming a two-run homer to put the Giants back in front.

Bolin then reminded Hutchinson what a good reliever can do for a team by shutting down the Reds for the rest of the game--no hits and just one walk over 3 2/3 innings. It was a well-deserved win--but what if Hutch had batted for Wills in the top of the sixth? Final score: Giants 6, Reds 3.

DOWN in LA, the Dodgers and Braves had a scoreless game going until the bottom of the fifth, when Willie Davis hit a two-run homer off Bob Shaw. Down 2-1 in the top of the seventh and with the tying run on second with one out, Braves manager Birdie Tebbetts batted for Shaw, but Gus Bell tapped out to second and Milwaukee failed score. The Dodgers then put the game away with three in the bottom of the inning on a two-out, two-run single by Tommy Davis, followed by an extremely flashy double steal which included a steal of home by Jim Gilliam. As Vin Scully noted: "These Dodgers really are downright daffy--they're likely to do anything!" Don Drysdale went all the way for the win, improving his record to 13-4. Final score: Dodgers 6, Braves 2.

SEASON RECORDS: SFG 49-27, LAD 49-28, PIT 43-31, STL 42-31, CIN 38-33, MIL 36-38, PHI 33-39, HOU 31-40, CHC 27-49, NYM 19-51

Sunday, June 26, 2022


TUESDAY night in LA, and it's Sandy Koufax vs. Lew Burdette as the Dodgers play the Braves. Sandy has been brilliant, but Burdette, who'd won 114 games for Milwaukee over the past six seasons, is struggling to emerge from a very rough start (6.06 ERA entering June).

But Lew was in a stretch of six weeks in the '62 season where he resembled his old self; from June 6th to July 15th, he'd post a 6-1 record with a 2.90 ERA. Koufax had the bad luck to run into him in the midst of this streak. (After mid-July, Burdette would collapse completely, giving up 10 HRs in 35 1/3 IP (1-4, 7.37 ERA) and would be removed from the starting rotation for the rest of the year.

Sandy struck out 13, but he was a bit inconsistent in the early going; in the second inning, with two men on, he threw an uncharacteristically fat pitch on 0-2 to second baseman Frank Bolling, who slapped it into left to score the Braves' first run. Hank Aaron, whom Koufax rated as the toughest hitter in the National League, had two hits off Sandy, but it was his reaching base on an error that set up Milwaukee's second run.

And Burdette flummoxed the Dodgers, allowing only five hits and eliminating most of those baserunners by tossing four double play balls. LA finally got on the board in the bottom of the ninth--but Frank Howard, representing the potential winning run, grounded out to end the game. Final score: Braves 2, Dodgers 1.

AND that set the stage for the Giants' return to first place, as they staged a thrilling comeback after falling behind the Reds, 4-0--Ed Bailey's pinch-hit grand slam got them even in the seventh, but they had to come back with another tying run in the eighth (Jim Davenport went long off Dave Sisler) before they walked off in the tenth on a RBI single by Orlando Cepeda. Final score: Giants 6, Reds 5 (10 innings).


Though his Reds lost, Frank Robinson was still in the process of heating up, going 2-for-5 with his 12th homer. He would get red hot (no pun intended...) and stay that way throughout the rest of the '62 season, as you'll see in the NL hitting leaders table for July-September 1962 (shown below). In the second half, Frank led in runs scored, doubles, OBP, SLG and OPS, and was second in HRs and RBI. While Maury Wills' stolen base skein in the second half (as you'll see below, 62 steals in just half a season) netted him the MVP award, by all rights it belonged to Robinson. (But note Frank Howard's RBI total for this time span!)

Saturday, June 25, 2022


How many "blown lead" losses are there in a season? And how should we calculate this stat? These are questions come up when we start looking at the internal patterns of winning and losing, separate from (and sometimes at odds with) sabermetric theories of how teams win.

The above would seem to be a digression from our primary task at hand, but hopefully it will come into focus as we look at the events in one of our two featured games for June 25, 1962--the one between the Braves and the Dodgers, in which LA took an early 4-0 lead, only to squander it, falling behind in the seventh when Milwaukee scored three times to overtake them. (As you might expect, Hank Aaron was in the thick of both Braves rallies, homering off "teenage monster" Joe Moeller in the sixth to cut the Dodgers' lead in half, then singling in the go-ahead run in the seventh off Ron Perranoski.) Final score: Braves 6, Dodgers 4--despite five hits from Tommy Davis.

When the Dodgers relinquished a lead and lost in this game, it marked the eleventh time they had done so to date in the 1962 season (as can be seen in the table at right). The great Retrosheet researcher Tom Ruane studied "blown leads/come from behind losses" about ten years ago, and concluded that when these events are defined strictly in the later innings (seventh inning on), they constitute about 14-16% of all games. 

As you can see, our definition is more expansive than Tom's, in that it includes innings much earlier in the game. Our definition does exclude one-run leads until the fourth inning, but we'll include instances in the third inning (as shown) if the lead is three runs or more and the team that blows the lead never regains it. Tom's approach to the matter would include only six of the games we're listing here.

We hope this area of research will get revisited by those folks with robust databases and formidable skills in manipulating them, but for now we'll press forward with our approach. Those eleven blown lead losses, as we've defined them, represent 14% of the games played by the Dodgers to this point of the '62 season (through June 25). This, of course, does not capture the Dodgers' "come from behind wins," which we'll capture a bit later on. (Another analyst, Roger Weber, estimated from 2006 data that "comeback wins"--which are also "blown lead losses"--constitute around 30% of all games. The question that he didn't answer--and that Tom Ruane hovered around but did not nail down in his 2012 presentation--is if there is any correlation between this type of game and winning in general. A greater anatomization of these games is required before we'll have the answer to that question. 

Last note on this before moving on--note that in these eleven "blown lead losses," the eventual run differential between the teams rarely produces a one-run game. Only two of these Dodger "blown lead losses" are one-run games; three are two-run games; and seven are three-run games. Naturally we need a complete inventory of these games and their final results in order to anatomize how these games fit into the overall context of wins/losses. It's still an area requiring a good bit more study; we'll do what we can here within the world of 1962, but the talents of "data magnates" such as the folks at Retrosheet will be needed to go deeper into this.

Just for the heck of it, here are the Giants' "blown lead losses" thus far in 1962 (above at left). Note that five of them occurred during their "June swoon" (their 4-12 stretch from June 6 to June 22). Three of them were one-run games; two were two-run games; two were four-run games; and one turned into a rout. 

In their 6/25 contest--a Monday day game at Candlestick--the Giants and Reds traded runs in the second inning, but Cincy's young flamethrower Jim Maloney battled with his control, and a leadoff walk set up a crucial rally in the third when Willie Mays caught Maloney napping and stole third base, putting himself in position to score on Orlando Cepeda's sacrifice fly. (Maloney would benefit from the strike zone change in 1963, winning 23 for the Reds that year and becoming one of the NL's dominant hurlers for the rest of the decade.)

SF added an insurance run in the eighth thanks to a throwing error by Reds' SS Chico Cardenas, but Billy O'Dell, back in the groove after a rough patch, didn't need it, slicing through the heart of the Reds' order in the ninth to finish off a nifty five-hit complete game, improving his record to 8-6 and boosting the Giants to within a half-game of their rivals down south. Final score: Giants 3, Reds 1.


Friday, June 24, 2022


Stan was not the man in Los Angeles (or any other city, for that matter) on Sunday, June 24, 1962. He and Jim O'Toole had lengthy relief appearances--Jim's was heroic, while Stan's definitely was not.

But things were wild from the start that day in Dodger Stadium. The Reds scored five in the first, sending the slumping Johnny Podres (0-3, 7.35 ERA in June) to an early shower. (Catcher Hank Foiles' grand slam was the big blow.) But in the bottom of the second, Cincinnati's starter, lefty Ted Wills, making only his second start with the team after being purchased from the Red Sox, found himself singled to death by the Dodgers, who ultimately scored five runs of their own in the bottom of the second to tie the score. (O'Toole had allowed two of Wills' runners to score when he came on in relief; it would be the only mistake he'd make the entire afternoon.)

Enter Stan Williams--what, you thought we were talking about Musial? Listen, nobody put position players on the mound back in days of yore...that's strictly twenty-first century mishegas--whose first task on the mound that day was to face Frank Robinson. Fast-forward fourteen seconds, and watch Stan follow Frank's jog around the bases, having hit his 1-0 pitch into the right-field bleachers. Williams walked another batter in the third, but got out of the rest of the inning unscathed. 

But in the fourth, he gave up a couple of hits and suddenly found himself facing Robinson again, with two out and two on. He delivered his first pitch: BAM! A three-run homer for Frank, whose HR total had been low (only nine for the year) before running into Stan. The Reds now led, 9-5.

Meanwhile O'Toole was mowing down the Dodgers. In the sixth, Stan finally struck out Frank, but not before issuing a wild pitch that allowed ex-Dodger Don Zimmer to score. Wally Post followed Robinson and stepped into the batters box. BLAM! Another home run. The Reds now led, 11-5.

In the top of the seventh, Stan completed his day of futility by giving up an RBI single to O'Toole, making it 12-5. Jim finally weakened in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two out. But Dave Sisler relieved him and got the third out, snuffing out the Dodgers' potential rally. 

Sisler proved to be wild in the bottom of the eighth, however, walking three and having to be bailed out by veteran lefty Bill Henry, who walked in a run before fanning Willie Davis to end the inning. Henry, who'd had a ugly hold for the Reds in their win on 6/22, then proceeded to have another ugly inning in the ninth, allowing a two-run double to Daryl Spencer and a two-run homer to Norm Sherry before retiring the side and bringing the game to an end. For reasons that remain highly elusive, Henry was credited with a save for this ungainly (and uncharacteristic) performance. The game's pitching lines were a study in contrast: Wills 1.2 IP, 5 runs; O'Toole 5.1 IP, 0 R; Henry 1.1 IP, 4 runs. (We'll spare you those numbers for Johnny P. and Stan-not-the-Man.) Final score: Reds 12, Dodgers 10.

IN San Francisco, two Hall of Famers--the Braves' Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal--faced off. This day belonged to Marichal, who held Milwaukee to just four hits (one of them, of course, a homer, given up to Joe Adcock), but the Giants scored three off Spahn in the bottom of the fifth, keyed by a two-run double from Willie Mays. Marichal made it stand up, improving his record to 11-4. Final score: Giants 3, Braves 1.


Thursday, June 23, 2022


Perhaps it was Mercury retrograde or some other astral affliction that sent the Giants down that 4-12 rabbit hole during the middle of June--we'll need to conduct some historical research with an astrologer to "know" for sure. 

What we do know for sure is that the Giants got back on the winning side of things on Saturday, June 23, 1962, thanks to some solid pitching from Mike McCormick, in what would be his fourth and final start in the '62 season (out of fifteen in all) where his Game Score exceeded 50. In fact, it was easily his best start of the year, a complete game four-hitter in what was otherwise a lost season. (McCormick would be banished after the '62 campaign, returning four years later in time to post his finest season in 1967, back with the team that had made him a "bonus baby" in 1956.)

The numbers tell us that Mike had become susceptible to the gopher ball at Candlestick since the Giants' move there in 1960, and even this game was no exception: the only runs scored by the Milwaukee Braves on this sunny afternoon came via a two-run homer by Lee Maye (making a career out of hitting lefties--in this series at least), breaking a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth.

But mighty mite Matty Alou led off the bottom of that inning with a single, and was one of two baserunners to score on Jim Davenport's two-out single. In the seventh, Matty and his big brother Felipe were in the middle of another two-run rally (Matty singled and scored when Felipe followed with a single of his own). 

In the top of the ninth, left-on-left nemesis Lee Maye singled, but McCormick powered through Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, and Gus Bell to nail down the win. It was his last complete game with the Giants until 1967. Final score: Giants 4, Braves 2.

DOWN in LA, the Davis boys were on fire. Willie had four hits and scored four times, driven in each time by Tommy, who had four hits of his own and five RBI to boot.  The Dodgers slapped out nineteen hits and scored fourteen runs, all without the aid of a home run. (Tommy's five RBI on the day pushed his season total to 74 and opened up an 11-RBI lead over Willie Mays, his nearest challenger.)

Don Drysdale finally weakened in the ninth, with a two touchdown lead. Walt Alston left him in, and the Reds scored three before they were put out of their misery. Final score: Dodgers 14, Reds 3.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Frustrating losses for both the Dodgers and the Giants on June 22, 1962 (a Friday)...but there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for SF, as this game marks the end of their "June swoon."

We told you earlier that Jack Sanford was about to start a long skein of winning (16 in a row, and 18-1 for the rest of the year). Part of that was due to the fact that his ineffective start here (against the Milwaukee Braves, now approaching .500 after a sluggish start) didn't result in a loss because his teammates took back the lead and got him off the hook. 

The game also featured another baffling, "less than heroic" lengthy relief appearance from Stu Miller, who was pushed into a fifth inning of relief by Al Dark--and both of them would pay the price. Even those who are offput by the "squadron of relievers" approach that dominates the present-day game will find Dark's decision to be downright strange.

Then again, the Giants had rallied from a five-run deficit with a run in the third and took back the lead with a five-run rally in the fourth, sending ten men to the plate (one of them little Matty Alou, who batted for Sanford and delivered a key pinch hit). But who puts their top reliever in the game in the fifth inning? Well, Walt Alston, maybe--but the Dodgers had three relievers in '62 that they could plausibly consider to be their top man (Sherry, Roebuck, Perranoski). All this continues to point up how rickety and thin the Giants' bullpen really was in 1962. 

So then there's Stu, still in the game in the ninth, after giving back the lead to the Braves twice already. (The first time he gave it back was to the first batter he faced: Eddie Mathews. Home run, tie score.) The Giants got two back in the bottom of the inning to take the lead back 8-6; it took Stu two innings to give that lead up (Joe Adcock's two-out, two-run double in the top of the seventh). The Giants get the lead back again in the bottom of the inning, and no one scores in the eighth. Stu--as we said, still in the game despite already facing 17 batters in relief--faces four more, and it's not good.

Roy McMillan singles. Mack Jones fouls out, but Stu walks Eddie Mathews. Hank Aaron singles to left, tying the game, with Mathews taking third when Kuenn muffs a backhand pickup and has to chase after the ball. Dark finally brings in Bobby Bolin, but all he has his second-year man do is intentionally walk Gus Bell, loading the bases. He then waves in lefty starter Billy O'Dell, three days removed from a poor outing against the Houston Colts, to face lefty swinger Lee Maye

Perhaps Dark didn't have the numbers at hand, which would've told him that righty Bolin was much more effective (at least in '62) against lefty batters. That sentence should tell you what happened next: Maye slapped a single into right, scoring two more runs (all, by the way, charged to Miller). Willie Mays singled in the bottom of the ninth, but the rest of the Giants' batters were spent from those earlier rallies. Final score: Braves 11, Giants 9.

Bill Henry: one-hit wonder in '62...
DOWN in LA, more than 48,000 at Dodger Stadium saw another great pitching duel featuring Sandy Koufax. His opponent this time: the Cincinnati Reds' Bob Purkey, now 12-1 for the year. After seven innings, the game was scoreless, but Koufax weakened in the eighth and gave up two runs, starting with a double by Purkey (who would hurt himself legging out that hit and have to be removed from the game; as a result, he'd miss a start and have his only ineffective period during 1962 over the next four weeks). 

Ron Perranoski came up empty in the ninth, as the bottom of the Reds' batting order slapped singles off him (including reliever Bill Henry, left into hit with the team ahead by two runs--it was Henry's only hit and only RBI in '62). By the time the top of the ninth was over, it was 4-0 Reds...which was just enough to hold off a furious Dodger rally in the bottom of the ninth, which featured Duke Snider's first hit since June 5th, a pinch-hit double that cut the Reds' lead down to just one run. But Ted Wills induced a ground out from Wally Moon, and then struck out pinch-hitter Andy Carey. Final score: Reds 4, Dodgers 3.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022


It was an off-day for both the Dodgers and Giants on June 21, 1962, so we return to our irregularly scheduled programming.

The topic of hot starts is here, of course, because the New York Yankees have been wiping the floor with their opponents for almost all of the 2022 season, causing shock, awe and dismay everywhere save for the Bronx. No one expected this, however--not even the Yanks' long-time GM Brian Cashman--but the rare occurrence of simultaneous good health for sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, a comeback season from Gleyber Torres, and serious top-to-bottom quality pitching (134 ERA+) over the first 66 games in the '22 campaign have this edition of the Bombers cavorting with the legendary, star-studded 1998 team. (Both posted 49-17 records over their first 66 games, and the '98 squad--as you may recall--went on to win 114 gams.)

As it turns out, hot starts are relevant to our coverage of the 1962 season as well, but for a more subtle reason than the fact that the Dodgers and Giants had exceptional success in the first two months of that year. But only one of those two teams meets the standard we're using for defining the term "hot start"--which is 66 games, in order to match up teams from the past more directly with the high-flying 2022 Yanks.

But there's also the flip side--the hot finish--which is less favored by the press due to the fact that they can't be projected into the future, they can only be captured at the season's close. There's no "added value" to the sportswriter or the "baseball analyst," because the story leaves no room for extrapolation (or embroidery).

Thanks to our friends at Forman et fils (what we cheekily like to call, we know just how many 66-game "hot starts" there've been (defined as winning at lest two out of every three games through game 66 of any given season). It turns out there have now been 75 of them, what with the 2022 Yankees joining that club just recently. We can break these out by year using our patented "time grid" chart, and so we have (see it at right).

We're not going to give you an exhaustive rundown of which teams are on that list--we'll save that for another installment--but we will tell you that "hot starts" as a phenomenon have generally slowed down since expansion. Oddly, however, the 2019 season was the first ever to have three teams get off to a .667 WPCT (or higher) in the same year--those teams were the Dodgers (45-21), the Twins (44-22) and the Astros (44-22).

Hot starts do tend to cool off over time, but a sizable majority of the teams with hot starts have made it into the postseason. The average WPCT for a team that's made a hot start is .697, and their average WPCT at the close of the given season is .644, which is a bit more than an 8% decline. It turns out that the Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP) helps us (and all those other, panting media types) to predict more accurately the level of decline that will occur for "hot start" teams. The more distant the PWP is from the "hot start team's" actual record, the more that team is likely to decline. And that turns out to be relevant to our 1962 saga...but we'll bury that lede for awhile longer, and get back to the one we've been keeping buried for most of this essay.

What's that? Why, it's the "hot finish", silly. We wanted to ask you if you think there are more hot finishes (same 66-game slice, only calculated back in time from the final regular-season game) than hot starts, or whether it's the opposite (more hot starts than hot finishes), or whether the number is roughly equivalent to each other. Take your best shot at it now, because the answer (to take Satchel Paige slightly out of context...) is gaining on you. you can see, it's not even close. There have been  almost 60% more "hot finishes" in baseball than "hot starts"--a total of 119 as opposed to the 75 "hot starts." 

(Now we know that some might object that such finishes aren't "hot" enough, that a higher WPCT and a lower number of games would be a better way to measure this. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that, because folks do not take a "hot start" seriously up until at least a third of the way through the season--thus it makes no sense to use a different benchmark for the back end of the season. And sometimes it puts things into a more normal perspective: for example, the 1969 Mets won 38 of their last 49 games, which is incredible--and incredibly rare. They went 45-21 over their last 66 games--a 7-10 start to a 38-11 finish, which puts them into perspective with other teams that had a more conventional route to that won-loss record. We need a larger population size for this phenomenon, so we increase the number of games in the "hot finish" to match the number of games where folks take the "hot start" seriously.) 

Note that we've had two seasons where four teams had a "hot finish", both of them since expansion (1977, when the Yankees, Royals and Red Sox were in fourth gear in the AL, and the Phillies were cruising away from their competition in the NL; and 2004, when the Red Sox, Braves, Astros and Cardinals were wining at least two of every three games for the better part of two months).

There's much more to be written about this data set, but we're going to cut things off at this point and look for more open days in our ongoing coverage of the Giants-Dodgers 1962 showdown where we can interpolate more of this material into the interstices of that season-long effort. But before we go, let's return to the Pythagorean Winning Percentage and its usefulness in projecting what will happen to teams with "hot starts."

It stands to reason that a team winning more games than what's projected by PWP is likely to fall back in the standings over the course of the year. This turns out to be on the money for the teams whose PWP for their 66-game skein is markedly lower than their actual WPCT. Remember when we said that "high achieving" teams lose about 8% of their WPCT over the course of the year as their winning pace proves difficult to sustain? Well, the teams whose PWP diverges sharply in a negative direction from their actual won-loss record lost a bit more than twice as much ground as the average hot start team (-16.2%).

And do you know who has the lowest PWP of all the 75 teams with a 66-game "hot start"? That's right. It's the 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers, who were 44-22 after 66 games, with .594. That doesn't bode well for their World Series chances, now, does it? (But then you already knew that...)

Monday, June 20, 2022


A QUESTION we will ask but not answer...because it is hard to research without assistance from the wizards at Retrosheet, and because it is actually rather trivial...but--how many games proceed along through eight or more innings with the run-scoring sequence for each team being exactly the same?

In case that's not clear, here's what we're driving at: in the 6/20/62 game between the Cardinals and the Dodgers, both teams have the identical scoring sequence in each inning, which is:

000 100 210 0

000 100 210 0

So the teams are literally playing tit-for-tat, with the Cards going ahead 1-0 in the top of the third and the Dodgers tying them in the bottom half of the same inning; the Cards then go ahead 3-1 in the top of the sixth, only to have the Dodgers tie the game with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth. And both teams score a single run in the eighth as well. 

Of course, the two teams had done something very similar on the 18th, in the superb pitchers' duel between Gibson and Koufax--

000 000 00

000 000 00

--with the Dodgers breaking that up in the bottom of the ninth.

How many such games are there in baseball history? It's like trying to guess the number of jelly beans in that proverbial big jar in Ye Olde Candy Store window.

So we don't know the answer (nor do we know how many beans there are in the jar pictured above...) but we do know that the Cards' Bobby Shantz had a "heroic lengthy relief appearance" (we could call 'em HLRAs--pronounced "hel-ras" for short--or not...) in this game, beginning in the eighth inning when the Dodgers had the bases loaded with no out and were threatening to break up this "tit-for-tat" scoring pattern. (He did walk in the tying run, which was the Dodgers' pattern-sustainer, but he struck out pinch-hitter Doug Camilli and got Maury Wills to pop out to end the threat.)

In the eleventh inning, Dodgers' lefty relief ace Ron Perranoski was working on his third inning in relief. After getting the first out, he gave up three straight singles (Ken Boyer, Jimmie Schaffer, Bill White) to surrender the go-ahead run. Shantz gave up a one-out single to Jim Gilliam in the bottom of the inning, but then induced Lee Walls to hit into a game-ending double play. Hel-ra! Hel-ra, already! Final score; Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4

UP in San Francisco, the Colts' Dean Stone pitched 5 2/3 IP of relief to bail out starter Bob Bruce, stopping the Giants' first-inning rally at just two runs. Norm Larker's grand slam off Juan Marichal in the second put the Colts ahead 5-2, but Stone frittered that away (two-run homer to Tom Haller in the fourth, a squeeze bunt single by Harvey Kuenn in the sixth) before the Colts staged a decisive rally in the seventh, anchored by Pidge Browne's pinch-hit, bases-loaded double. (As we're still in the Giants' "swoon" period, you'd be right if you suspected another poor outing from Stu Miller: two innings, three hits, four walks, four runs.) Final score: Colts 9, Giants 5.


Sunday, June 19, 2022


From the start of the 1962 season until mid-June, big Frank Howard--Rookie of the Year in 1960 with the Dodgers--platooned in right field with Wally Moon. For a man of his size (6'7", 255 lbs), he'd not yet crashed through despite slugging over .500 in 1960 and 1961. After the game played on June 16th vs. the Houston Colts, Hondo (as he was called) had rather nondescript numbers (5 HR, 24 RBI, .416 SLG).

All that began to change on June 19th, when Walt Alston installed him in right field and batted him cleanup against Cardinal lefty Curt Simmons. Frank hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Simmons; after the Cardinals tied the game at 2-2 on a sixth inning RBI single by Carl Sawatski, big Frank's double ignited the Dodgers' winning rally in the bottom of the seventh. Doug Camilli threw out one more of the four baserunners he caught attempting steal during 1962 (in this case, pinch-runner Bobby Gene Smith)--and it was a good thing, because Don Drysdale promptly allowed a double to Gene Oliver that probably would have scored the tying run. Big D (who was big, he was just small compared to Howard) then worked out of the inning to notch his eleventh win. Final score: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2.

Big Frank would drive in 60 runs and hit .350 with 15 homers from June 19th through August 9th--a 47-game span where he played everyday. Buoyed by his big bat, the Dodgers would compile a 33-14 record during this time frame; Howard's OPS for during that span was 1.099. It was the first inkling of the type of hitter he'd become later in the decade for the Washington Senators.

IN San Francisco, Billy O'Dell had a rough outing against the Colts, and had to be bailed out in the third inning with the Giants already behind, 3-0. Willie Mays drove in three runs for SF, but they could never quite catch up, as relievers Don Larsen and Bobby Bolin were touched for runs in the sixth and seventh, keeping the game out of reach as they stranded 11 baserunners. Dick (Turk) Farrell, now in the Colts' starting rotation, rode in from the bullpen in the ninth to quash the Giants' last comeback attempt, striking out Felipe Alou and Jim Davenport to end the game. Final score: Colts 6, Giants 4.


Saturday, June 18, 2022


There are, of course, thousands of baseball games played every year--even in the pandemic year of 2020--and out of that massive inventory there are thousands that would qualify in the minds and hearts of baseball fans as being "the greatest game they ever saw." There is no way even for the most aberrant of sabermetricians to rank the greatest games of all time (though we're sure some will do so anyway); for our purposes, we'll focus on one type of game that represents the game's "minimalist purity."

What type of game is that, you ask? It's the 1-0 game, where pitching is supreme (or, at least, hitters are mired in something arguably worse than mediocrity). It combines futility and excellence into a simmering tension that lasts the entire game, with the outcome changeable in every single plate appearance. While we wouldn't want all games to be 1-0 games, we need to see them as a very special manifestation of what makes baseball so unique. 

And such games are magnified when demonstrably great pitchers are pitted against one another. Such an occurrence adds a level of aesthetic satisfaction in that the expectation of such a dual level of mastery is fulfilled. 

Such a game occurred on June 18, 1962 in Los Angeles, when two pitchers--Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson were matched against each other as the Dodgers and Cardinals faced off at Dodger Stadium. While both men were not quite at their peak of recognition as Hall of Fame performers on that date, this game was a meteoric portent of such status that would shortly be bestowed on both of them. 

And so two great pitchers matched zeroes for eight innings. Gibson's control was a bit spotty in the early going: he walked a man in each of the first three innings. (His fourth walk was intentional, as he quelled a Dodger threat in the seventh through bypassing the Dodgers' Daryl Spencer in order to pitch to Koufax--who did not replicate the home run that he'd recently hit against Warren Spahn.)

Koufax walked no one. He struck out the side in the eighth (bringing his total for the game to nine), then allowed his fifth hit of the game to Ken Boyer with two out in the ninth. With a 1-1 count on Stan Musial, Boyer took off for second--and was thrown out by the Dodgers' backup catcher Doug Camilli. (Boyer was one of only four baserunners Camilli threw out all season.)

Going into the bottom of the ninth, Gibson had allowed only two singles, both to Wally Moon. He retired Ron Fairly on one pitch, inducing a pop-up to second baseman Julian Javier. Moon was in the on-deck circle as Tommy Davis batted. Gibson missed with the first pitch. He took a walk around the mound, and stole a glance at Moon; then he delivered.

Tommy hit Gibson's pitch on a line to left field. Musial charged back toward the wall, thinking he might have a play off the wall to hold Davis to a single. But the ball rose higher in its trajectory as it carried further, and smashed into the fourth row of the bleachers for a home run. Gibson snapped at his glove, rolled his eyes, and walked off the field as Tommy circled the bases. Final score: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0. 

IN SF, the Giants had an off-day before beginning a two-game series with the Houston Colts.


Friday, June 17, 2022


As we noted earlier, Jack Sanford had reached a crossroads in early June '62, where his record fell to 6-6. putting him in line with the direction of his career (50-48, 3.89 ERA) after his big rookie season with the Phillies in 1957 (19-8, 3.08 ERA).

But on June 17, Sanford caught a good break when his battery mate Tom Haller hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth, snapping a 3-3 tie. (Final score: Giants 6, Cardinals 3.) It was the first of 16 consecutive wins for Sanford, and his steady presence helped the Giants stay in the race. From this point to the end of the '62 season, Jack was 18-1.

That said, much of it had to do with the Giants' hitters consistently scoring runs for him. In this stretch, SF scored 6.2 runs per game for Jack, whose ERA during the time frame (3.34) was not that much different from what it had been up to June 13 (3.59). Fans of FIP might notice that Jack improved his HR/9 ratio during the span, which projects him in that system to be pitching better; what's most germane, of course, is that consistent run scoring. 

There are seven pitchers who pitched in 26 games, started at least 25 of those, and had a WPCT of .947 or higher: of that group, Jack has the seventh best ERA.

Only Whitey Ford (who also received tremendous run support and was bailed out of several very poor starts by the '61 Yankees offense), had a higher ERA during the course of these stratospheric skeins of winning percentage. The WHIP values also tell the tale--Jack's is the worst of the bunch. The Pythagorean methods cuts all of these skeins down to size in terms of projecting a won-loss record from the runs scored vs. runs allowed: when we work that out, it appears that Jack "should have" gone either 14-5 or 15-4. Swap in 15-4 for 18-1 during this stretch and Jack's W-L record is 21-10 instead of 24-7...definitely not of sufficient quality a year to befit a second place finish in the Cy Young voting.

DOWN in LA, Tommy Davis' three-run homer was the key blow in a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth as the Dodgers finally got the drop on the Colts. Ed Roebuck did not quite have a "lengthy relief appearance" according to our rather extreme definition (4+ IPs), but he threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings and received credit for the win thanks to being in the game when the Dodgers turned it around. (We'll get around to those 3-3 2/3 inning relief appearances shortly...) Final score: Dodgers 6, Colts 2.


Thursday, June 16, 2022


Juan Marichal reached the apex of his effectiveness in the 1962 season with his brilliant performance on Saturday, June 16th; lowering his ERA to 2.52 and improving his won-loss record to 10-4, he tossed a two-hit shutout to give the Giants a much-needed win against the St. Louis Cardinals. The win snapped a five-game winning streak for the Cards in head-to-head competition with San Francisco.

Felipe Alou's tenth homer, hit in the first inning with Willie Mays on base, was all the Giants needed on this day; Mays doubled home two more runs in the fifth just in case. Final score: Giants 5, Cardinals 0.

Marichal would fade significantly over the next six weeks, compiling a 3-4 record with a 5.12 ERA over his next ten starts, allowing 13 HRs in 65 IP. (The Giants were only 3-7 in those ten games, extending through August 3rd). He would regain a good bit of his form over his final ten starts of the 1962 season, going 5-3 with a  3.22 ERA and just eight HR in 72 IP. In 1963, Marichal would reach Hall of Fame performance levels, thanks in part to the strike zone change: most strikingly (no pun intended...) his BB/9 would be cut almost in half, improving to just 1.7 BB/9 as opposed to 3.1 BB/9 in '62.

DOWN in LA that evening, the pesky ex-Dodgers who now played for the Houston Colts gave their former team some serious trouble. Foremost among them was Dick (Turk) Farrell, who tossed a three-hitter, holding the Dodgers hitless until the sixth inning and yielding only one run (in the seventh, when Ron Fairly's groundout scored Willie Davis, who'd tripled). 

Four of the eight hits that the Colts produced that evening came from ex-Dodgers, including one from Farrell--and, of course, one from freshly minted ex-Dodger nemesis Bob Aspromonte. Another alumnus, Norm Larker, drove in the Colts' second run in the sixth after scoring their first run in the fourth. The ex-Dodger trifecta of Aspromonte, Bob Lillis, and Farrell set up the Colts' final run by loading the bases in the eighth inning, with Farrell reaching thanks to an error by Maury Wills

The Colts were playing quite well at this point, particularly for an expansion team (28-34)--but they'll hit a big speed bump in July (a woeful 5-24 record in that month).

Johnny Podres took the loss for the Dodgers, his record falling to 3-6. Final score: Colts 4, Dodgers 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 44-23, SFG 43-24, PIT 36-26, STL 34-26, CIN 33-27, MIL 30-33, HOU 28-34, PHI 26-35, CHC 22-242, NYM 16-42

NL BATTING LEADERS (as of 6/16/62)

BA: F. Alou SFG .344, B. Williams CHC .341, Musial STL .331, Callison PHI .328, T. Davis LAD .323, W. Davis LAD .320, Altman CHC .320

OBP: B. Williams CHC .417, Mays SFG .413, Fairly LAD .409, Musial STL .402, Gonzalez PHI .394, Altman CHC .393, Callison PHI .391

SLG: Mays FG, .655, B. Williams CHC .584, Aaron MIL .574, Pinson CIN .559, Cepeda SFG .557, Mejias HOU .540, F. Thomas NYM .537

HR: Mays SFG 21, Cepeda SFG 17, Banks CHC 17, B. Williams CHC 13, Aaron MIL 13, F. Thomas NYM 13, Pinson 13

RBI: T. Davis LAD 65, Cepeda SFG 60, Mays SFG 56, F. Robinson CIN 49, Aaron MIL 47, White STL 47

Wednesday, June 15, 2022


Charlie James, the man who would swing at anything: 
a microscopic 3.2% lifetime walk rate...
Let's bury the lede, shall we? On June 15, 1962, the San Francisco Giants limped home after a long, rough road trip--18 games in all...unheard of in these "post-postmodern times"--in which their early success (7-1 against the hapless Mets and floundering Phillies) had turned around on them (2-8 in Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati). They were coming home at last--home, where they had thrived (23-6 thus far in the still-young 1962 season).

But future Giant Ray Sadecki, pitching for the Cardinals at this point, put the kibosh (and quite probably the kabong, too...) on SF's homecoming by bobbing & weaving his way through 37 Giants batters, stranding runners, and benefitting from superb defense (three double plays, and a spiffy relay from left fielder Bobby Gene Smith to shortstop Julio Gotay to catcher Gene Oliver that nailed future Cardinal Orlando Cepeda at the plate to end the Giants' only serious rally of the night). 

Meanwhile, right fielder Charlie James hit a three-run homer off Billy O'Dell in the first inning to give the Cardinals all they needed for another takedown of the Giants (after starting the year winning four of six from St. Louis, SF had now lost five straight to the Cardinals). 

And if you happen to have it floating in the back of your mind, you are correct in connecting the dots between those two "future" references...which allude to one of Horace Stoneham's most questionable trades, which occurred in May 1966: Cepeda for Sadecki. (Final score: Cardinals 5, Giants 2.)

IN Los Angeles, the "Golden Hour" came back to bite the Dodgers when gangly righthander Jim Golden, who'd pitched ineffectively for the Dodgers in 1961 and consequently been left unprotected in the expansion draft, came back to haunt his former team with a five-hit shutout, outdueling Don Drysdale. A month earlier, Golden had his former team on the ropes in his first start at Dodger Stadium, taking a 4-0 lead into the ninth inning before LA rallied to tie the score and eventually win the game, but on this evening, Golden lived fully up to his name, lowering his ERA to 2.52 and balancing his won-loss record (4-4). 

Of course, it was a shimmering mirage: within a month, Golden was out of the Colts' rotation and back in mop-up duty. The breakdown of his 1962 record was stark: he posted a 5-0 record against the Mets (the "other" expansion team that year--you may have heard of them...) and went 2-11 against everyone else. The concept of "replacement level" isn't always so prominent, but it's an instructive example.

(The Dodgers had blown their only real chance to score in the second, when Ron Fairly changed his mind about trying to score on Johnny Roseboro's flyout to left and was chased down by catcher Merritt Ranew as he attempted to retreat back to third. This was certainly not Fairly's "golden hour"...) 

Final score: Colts 2, Dodgers 0.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022


"In-a-gadda-da-vida, baby..."
If you've been paying attention, you know that the Giants and Dodgers started to lose in tandem more in June than had been the case during the first two months of the 1962 season. If you look back a few posts for the overview of the first half of June, you'll know that June 14th (a day once best known as "Flag Day," but now sullied forever as the necronexic natal day of that ever-perfidious Orange Menace, still pulling the wings off butterflies on his sixteenth birthday...) is the fourth time during the month that the two teams lost in tandem.

(And if you're really paying attention, you can figure out exactly how many such games occurred in June without having to do the research yourself. Best of luck with that...)

Luck didn't shine down on the Dodgers and Stan Williams on the 14th, of course. (We'd also already prepared you for two very stinky starts by Stan in June: this is the second one.) It started badly right off the bat (so to speak...) when the first batter that Stan faced--the "lesser Aaron" (Hank's brother Tommie) reached safely when LA third baseman Daryl Spencer played kickball with his grounder. From there it was off to the races: single from Roy McMillan, sac fly from Eddie Mathews (1-0 Braves), and a booming homer from the "greater Aaron" (Tommie's brother Hank--or Henry, as we now are instructed to refer to him).

Stan followed Aaron's homer with a walk to Lee Maye, then gave up a single to Del Crandall--and Walt Alston came and got him. It was still 3-0 Braves at this point, and Alston probably figured his reliever would stop the bleeding right there and then the game would still be (theoretically, at least) within reach.

But Ed Roebuck didn't cooperate with that scenario: he walked Mack Jones to load the bases, then got a grounder that couldn't be turned into a double play, making it 4-0 Braves. Then the Braves' starting pitcher Bob Shaw slapped a hard grounder off the toe of Roebuck's shoe that careened into foul territory between home and third, bringing in the fifth run of the inning. 

Roebuck would settle down in the second and eventually hurl 4 2/3 innings of relief (though this outing is not on our list of "heroic lengthy relief appearances" posted a few days ago, because it didn't result in a win for the Dodgers). But it didn't matter, because Shaw was on his game, limiting LA to just three hits, lowering his league-leading ERA to 1.92 and cruising to his eighth win. (Final score: Braves 7, Dodgers 1.)

OVER in the Ohio Valley, the Giants' hitting trough widened, as Joey Jay (who'd won 21 games for the Reds the year before and would do so again in '62) matched the performance of Bob Purkey the night before and shut down SF on just three hits. More troubling than the loss, perhaps, was a first-inning injury sustained by Giants' starter Billy Pierce, one that would keep him on the shelf for a month, further thinning out their pitching staff. 

Frank Robinson, heating up after a slow start (.186 in April) , was the prime agent of doom on behalf of the Reds, hitting his eighth homer and driving in four; he would eventually lead the NL in OBP (.421), SLG (.624), OPS (1.045), OPS+ (173) and doubles (51)...and somehow finish fourth in the MVP voting. (Final score: Red 8, Giants 0.)