Thursday, June 2, 2022


June 2, 1962 was certainly a day that the fledgling New York Mets would like to forget. The Giants from swept a doubleheader from the Mets on this day, and it began with a bang when San Francisco scored five runs in the first: Met's starter Jay Hook was forced to walk the plank after retiring only one batter.

(The Mets had actually played five doubleheaders prior to this one, and had held their own in the early going: they'd split with the Cubs in April, and actually swept two doubleheaders in May--both times victimizing the Milwaukee Braves. The Giants and Dodgers had gotten them into the mode of "play two-lose two" a week earlier, however, and they were about to embrace their destiny, playing twenty-three more doubleheaders over the rest of the season (who says you didn't get your money's worth in the "good old days," eh?) with a painful ledger to show for it: they swept one more, split nine, and were swept  thirteen more times the rest of the way. The Mets' overall record in doubleheaders in '62 was 16-48--a .250 WPCT that exactly matched their overall season record. Amazin' indeed...)

Willie Mays had jump-started the Giants' five-run first with his 18th home run of the year, and San Francisco did not look back even though there was no one gaining on them. The Mets had scored a lone run off Jack Sanford in the first, and simply surrendered to the rhythm of being the men working on the chain gang. Final score: Giants 10, Mets 1 (first game).

For the nightcap, Al Dark reached into the bullpen and gave Jim Duffalo a start, to problematic results. Staked to a 4-0 lead in part due to Tom Haller's two-run homer, Duffalo faltered in the bottom of the third, and Dark brought a quick hook, replacing him with Don Larsen. The Mets pushed over an unearned run in the fourth off Larsen to tie the game, 4-4, and that's how it remained until the eighth, when Harvey Kuenn hit a two-run homer off Craig Anderson (now firmly in the midst of his sixteen-game losing streak). Stu Miller pitched two innings for the save, and the Mets had lost their fourteenth straight. Final score: Giants 6, Mets 4.

IN Philly, Walt Alston had to reach into the back end of his bullpen for a starter: Phil Ortega. That did not augur well for the Dodgers' efforts to extend their current thirteen-game winning streak, and it only took moments for that premonition to become reality. Ortega was knocked out of the game in the second inning, which ended with the Phillies ahead 6-0. Rookie southpaw Dennis Bennett channeled a bit of Koufax as he stifled the Dodgers, hurling a four hit shutout, striking out eleven. After catching the Giants on the first of June, LA was suddenly a game and a half back. Final score: Phillies 7, Dodgers 0.


Now, briefly, back to the present. The cone of silence has descended on tracking the state of baseball's offense: after the 6/1 games, the aggregate MLB batting average has reached .240, a significant psychological boost for everyone in the industry, as it moves the needle away from the dreaded specter of 1968. 

As the table at right demonstrates, it's the NL that's leading the way, possibly due to the still-controversial implementation of the "universal DH." Home run levels jumped sharply there in May, less so in the AL; but MLB has gotten its HR/G average back to one per game, which also seems to be something that many folks now take as its own form of psychological comfort. Of course, never mind that the invidious trends continue and are left unaddressed. Naturally, we'll continue to track this over the course of the year--stay tuned...