Sunday, June 12, 2022


June 11, 1962 worked out to be an off-day for the Giants and Dodgers--though it wasn't scheduled that way initially: SF was supposed to play the Reds in Cincinnati that day, but the rains came and a doubleheader on the 12th was the workaround. 

The Dodgers moved into Milwaukee, and something rained down on them on the 12th--another downpour of runs that flooded them into submission from the get-go: the Braves scored five in the first, capped by Gus Bell's three-run homer. They added three more in the second, two on a homer by Eddie Mathews, making it two homers by lefty batters off battered southpaw Johnny Podres (now having allowed a 2019-like seven homers in his last 26+ innings, to the strangled tune of 7.43 ERA). The score was 7-1, so perhaps you can guess who got the call in the Dodger bullpen.

Yes, Phil: we can live to laugh
another day...
Yes, that's right: Phil "the Phantom" Ortega, who took one look at things and went into "anything you can do, I can do better" mode--and allowed a homer to the first batter he faced--Hank Aaron

It didn't get a lot better for Phil or the Dodgers--over 5 1/3 bumptious innings, Ortega took one for the team again, allowing eight more hits and five more runs before Walt Alston mercifully batted for him in the top of the eighth. Ed Roebuck followed him to the toxic dirt pile (which for some reason had little or no effect on Braves' starter Lew Burdette...) and promptly gave up a homer of his own, to the "lesser Aaron" (Hank's brother Tommie). It was--it still is, actually--a true mega-loss. Final score: Braves 15, Dodgers 2.

DOWN in Cincy, Juan Marichal snapped back into form, scattering seven hits and allowing only one run (a solo homer by Gordy Coleman--Marichal was susceptible to the gopher ball in '62, allowing 31 over the season). He also drove in what proved to be the winning run in the Giants' two-run seventh-inning rally; it was his second hit of the day, raising his season-to-date batting average to .270.

In the bottom of the ninth, the "play to tie" strategy favored by managers at that time created some intriguing drama: Reds manager Fred Hutchinson chose to bunt over Gordy Coleman (who'd gotten his second hit off Marichal to open the inning). Leaving Spin to guard the bat rack, Marty Keough got the bunt down. But Coleman had to stay at second when the next batter, Leo Cardenas, grounded to short. Hutchinson then brought up his ace pinch-hitter, Jerry Lynch--at which point Giants' skipper Al Dark broke an unwritten rule of the time by walking him intentionally. (What was that unwritten rule: "Never put the winning run on base.") Dark got away with his sacrilege, however, when Marichal fanned the next (lesser) pinch-hitter, Joe Gaines, to end the game. Final score: Giants 2, Reds 1 (first game).

In Game Two, Moe Drabowsky continued his epic slide from prospect to suspect and moved up his departure date from Cincinnati to Kansas City a few weeks by getting knocked out in the second inning. (Drabowsky would eventually re-invent himself as a reliever later in the decade, and would subsequently be "immortalized" in Ball Four for making a long-distance call from the bullpen to a Chinese restaurant in Hong place a "to-go" order. 

The Giants led 6-0 after four and a half--but, still in their "swoon river" phase, made some effort to blow their lead. Mike McCormick gave up a two-run homer to Hank Foiles in the fifth, and weakened a bit more in the eighth, cutting the lead to three runs. The slumping Stu Miller got the Reds out in the eighth, but made a mess in the ninth, allowing two more runs to score; another walk, another hit, and an untimely error conspired to Frank Robinson to the plate representing the potential winning run with two on and two out. 

Dark had seen enough. He brought in Don Larsen--who'd been pretty shaky himself--while doubtless wishing that there had been cell phones in '62, because after calling on Larsen his next call was clearly going to be to Dial-A-Prayer. Larsen ran the count to 3-1; Robinson swung at the next pitch and ripped it--on one hard hop to Jose Pagan--who gloved it and threw Frank out to end the game. Final score: Giants 7, Reds 5 (second game).