Sunday, July 31, 2022


"Fanboy Joe Pee," who vented his spleen at his blog the other day about the Red Sox meltdown in July, managed to miss the truly interesting aspect of the story. Joe leans toward parroting the newfangled esoterica that he laps up from the Tango Love Pie™, so we weren't especially surprised that the oddball nugget buried--or should we say entombed--in his leaden lede stayed incognito.

And what is that nugget? Why it's the fact that the Red Sox going 8-19 (.296) in July after going 20-6 (.769) in June is one of the rarest occurrences in the entire history of major league baseball.

It turns out, in this instance, that the "why" of it is not hard to trace; thanks to ace researcher Tom Ruane (of Retrosheet fame), however, we know that you can count on the fingers of one hand the teams who have followed the exact sequence described above. 

The 2022 Red Sox have joined the following teams in having a searingly hot month followed by a hot mess of a month. Here they are, going backward in time:

--2006 Atlanta Braves (May: 18-11, .621; June: 6-21, .222)

--1987 Baltimore Orioles (May: 17-11, .607; June: 5-23, .179)

--1966 Cincinnati Reds (August: 18-12, .600; September: 7-17, .292)

--1933 Cleveland Indians (August, 19-11, .633; September, 7-12, .368)

And that, folks, is that. Only four other teams with a .600+ month followed by a -.400 month. While players' stats can fluctuate wildly from month-to-month, it turns out that team records just don't swing with the same, er, "swinginess." (Note, though, that the Sox' "swing" between months is a good bit more extreme than these teams...)

We hope that Tom will look at the opposite phenomenon at some point: the team with a really bad month that's followed by a really good month. Turns out that the 1987 O's are going to be on that list as well: after they went 5-23 in June, they followed that up with a 16-10 July (.615). On top of that, in September they plummeted back to 6-21 (.222)! As Jayson Stark would say if he were here (and who's to say he isn't?)--baseball!

One team that we know fits into the opposite variation: the 2001 Oakland A's (8-17 in April, 18-9 in May). Unlike the four teams who did the "good-bad" instead of the "bad-good," they wound up having an excellent season (102-60). The four "good-bad" teams all wound up around .500.

We'll use our semi-patented "GvB" method on the '22 Red Sox. (GvB is our shorthand for looking at quality of opposition, dualized into .500+ and <.500 teams. These can be rather fluid throughout the year, as some teams cross back and forth over the .500 mark, but as our dear old Dad used to say, you've got to take what you can get.

And what we get from the Red Sox' detailed GvB chart thus far for '22 (at right) is that they are playing a helluva lotta good teams this year. In fact, they've played the most of these (76 out of their first 103 games) than any other team in MLB this year. That's got to affect your overall winning percentage right there...

What will (eventually) leap out at you in the GvB breakout is that in June, the Sox finally got to play the lesser-lights on their schedule. They mopped the floor with those guys (12-2 in June). With veterans Rich Hill and Michael Wacha joining Nick Pivetta and Nathan Eovaldi, Boston's starting rotation had its best month since 2018 during June.

But Pivetta and Eovaldi backslid in July against tougher competition (24 of 27 games against good teams) and both Hill and Wacha landed on the DL for the entire month. The records of the starting pitchers in the two months tell the tale (dare we say...Starkly?): 16-4, 2.91 in June, 1-13, 7.09 in July.

The Red Sox actually did their best hitting of the '22 season in May; June was a downturn. But with the pitching going gangbusters against generally easier competition, that mattered not at all. In July, however, they stopped hitting as well (.238 BA, 3.4 runs/game). And Rafael Devers, their best hitter, was injured and missed 11 games.

As noted, the reasons why it happened make perfect sense. It's just odd (and very rare) that it happened in back-to-back months. (Cue Jayson again...)

What does it look like for the rest of the season? Let's just take it one month at a time. August will still have at least 17 and maybe up to 23 games where the Sox will face good teams. However, Devers and Hill and Wacha are due back soon--and that can't hurt. But the history of the other four teams who had this pattern suggests that they'll probably wind up as around a .500 team for the season. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 30, 2022


With a quick All-Star Break in process during the 1962 season, we have a two-day open slot on our hands, so we'll fill in with a comparison update on the differences in monthly offensive levels (2022 vs. 2021). Here is the updated chart, with June and July added. (You'll see these right away, as we've highlighted the text in baby blue...)

As you can see, the NL seems to have peaked in run scoring back in May, although they came close to the same R/G levels in June, and had their spike in HR/G that month. But in July, the league BA has regressed back to .240, SLG has fallen back below .400, and HR/G fell back about 17%.

In the AL, there has been a steady but modest increase across the board (save for a very slight downturn in HR/G this month that might not hold, since we are using data just through 7/29). 

Of course all measures (slash stats, HR/G and R/G) are mostly down  as compared with 2021. The exception is in the NL, where the spikes this May and June caused an uptick in run scoring this year as compared with the previous season. That has reversed itself rather dramatically in July.

Last September was a warm month, and offensive levels stayed elevated as compared to the usual dropoff. That phenomenon propped up R/G levels last year; we'll just have to see if there is a similar phenomeon in '22. As we always say: stay tuned.

Friday, July 29, 2022


It was, of course, John Wayne who played Hondo, but the strapping one-time fullback was dwarfed by the man who inherited his name--Frank Howard. If ballplayers of the time had shown a bit more genre flexibility in their movie watching, they'd have pinned an even appropriate nickname on the mammoth Howard: the Amazing Colossal Man.

At any rate, "Hondo" was at the center of the Dodgers' desecration of Billy O'Dell and the Giants in the final game of the three-day showdown at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, July 29, 1962. 

--He was in the conga line of Dodger hitters who put together seven hits and six runs off O'Dell (who lasted but two-thirds of an inning) and his third RBI knocked out Don Larsen in the second inning (after Larsen had also lasted just two-thirds of an inning). 

--He homered off Stu Miller in the seventh. 

--He had another RBI single in the eighth when the Dodgers added three more to the bloodletting they'd provided to four Giant pitchers. (Don Drysdale allowed only a solo homer to Willie Mays as he improved his season record to 19-4.) Final score: Dodgers 11, Giants 1.

Howard's five RBI put him high up on the all-time leader list for most RBI in a month: he totaled 41 RBI in July. This is not anywhere close to a record: Hack Wilson and Joe DiMaggio are the top men for this stat, having each driven in 53 runs in a month (Hack in August 1930, and Joe in August 1939). In that age of higher batting averages, there were more "RBI men" in the game generally, so there is a preponderance of players from before WWII who are high on the list. As you might expect, the incidence of the 40+ RBI in a month feat fell off sharply after WWII, as shown in our patented "time grid chart"™ at right. (You can pick out Frank's slot on the grid because we've colored in the square in something akin to Dodger blue.)

As you can see, 40+ RBI in a month has become an extremely scarce feat since Frank accomplished it in 1962; it was 23 years before anyone did it again (Don Mattingly, in September 1985). The last hitter to do it was Troy Tulowitzki in September 2010.

But there's another way to measure this that will show us just how impressive Howard's achievement in July 1962 really was. (It will also give the lie to some of the lingering neo-sabe bias against the RBI stat, which we'll explain shortly.)

When we measure monthly RBI totals and calculate a RBI/G stat for them--and then apply them to the most RBI in a month leader board, so it's sorted by RBI/G, we find out that Frank Howard's RBI skein in July 1962 ranks fourth all time. Howard's 41 RBI in that month came about in just 26 games played (a low total because  there were two All-Star games--and thus two All-Star breaks--in July 1962). That works out to an average of 1.58 RBI/G, which trails only Wilson, DiMaggio and Rudy York (in August 1937)--all of whom, of course, who pulled off this feat during the higher-scoring 1930s.

Note also the high batting averages achieved by most of these guys. "RBI guys" are usually thought of in seasonal terms, and it is quite possible to drive in 100+ runs while hitting for a low average--particularly in a time like the present, when low-average sluggers can pretty much found on any street corner. That creates a lingering, not-so-latent bias against RBI guys, since they are not necessarily "the best hitters." To push back a bit on that, we included the monthly RBI/G leaders' OPS+ as part of the output--and note that everyone has an OPS+ figure in excess of 200 for the month. All of these boys were raking--even Pie Traynor, the lone man on this totem pole in terms of homers. But what a month...hitting .460! This is peak performance across the board: no one here had a gimmicky path to a high RBI count.

Of course, given "Hondo's" excessive size (6'7", 255 lbs.) it's not surprising to see him on a list with some of the biggest hitters of all time. When we teased this info previously, we suggested that it was a preview of the deadly slugger Howard would become later in the decade when he was with the second coming of the Washington Senators. In some ways, it's actually more impressive--and it certainly was a boon for the '62 Dodgers, who rode Howard's bat to a 20-6 record in July.


Thursday, July 28, 2022


The starting pitchers in game two of the Giants/Dodgers' late July showdown were not so sharp on this evening (July 28, a Saturday, with 49,228 in attendance). Jack Sanford only made it through 3 1/3 innings when the Dodgers slapped five straight hits off him in the bottom of the fourth; Stan Williams, still erratic, was driven from the mound in the top of the fifth after surrendering the lead on an RBI single from Orlando Cepeda. Ed Roebuck came in to stem the tide, holding the score at 4-3 in favor of the Giants.

In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Dodgers lowered the boom. Though the Giants were clearly known for being the power-hitting team in the NL, the Dodgers were not exactly bereft of power in '62, and overall had the second-best offense in the league. They featured their long-ball bats in this inning, with homers from Tommy Davis and Frank Howard accounting for three of the for runs they scored, retaking the lead, 7-4.

The Dodgers added another run in the sixth off bonus baby Bob Garibaldi, while Roebuck cruised into the eighth before surrendering a homer to Tom Haller.  He got in more trouble in the top of the ninth--and only Willie Mays' GIDP kept the Dodgers from disaster. A walk to Harvey Kuenn, a single by Cepeda, and a double by Felipe Alou brought in another run and meant that the next batter the Giants brought to the plate represented the go-ahead run.

Walt Alston brought in Ron Perranoski to pitch to Haller. Al Dark countered by sending up 35-year-old Bob Nieman, a long-time AL outfielder who been acquired from the Indians earlier in the year and was now serving as the Giants' pinch-hitting specialist. (Nieman is one of the best hitters you've never heard of, with a lifetime 132 OPS+...check out his career at baseball-reference.

It dldn't take long: Nieman swung at Perranoski's first delivery and hit a hard grounder--right at third baseman Daryl Spencer, who threw to first to end the game. Roebuck's lengthy relief stint had not quite been heroic, but it had been good enough enough to get the job done--with a major boost from the Dodgers' oft-maligned bats. Final score: Dodgers 8, Giants 6.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022


The Dodgers and Giants both had July 26th off in '62, so they could travel back to Los Angeles for a three-game weekend series at Dodger Stadium. 

The only game of any consequence relative to the NL standings on the 26th was played in Cincinnati, where the Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Pirates with a 5-3 win. Spot starter Johnny Klippstein pitched creditably into the eighth inning for the Reds; Bill Henry picked up him and notched his eighth save of the year. Jerry Lynch (#7) and Gordy Coleman (#20) each had two-run homers for Cincy.

THE next day--or, should we say, on this day sixty years ago--a pivotal series got underway in LA with Johnny Podres starting for the Dodgers and Juan Marichal for the Giants. The Dodgers got everything they needed in the second inning, when Frank Howard hit a three-run homer (#18), scoring Tommy Davis and Ron Fairly ahead of him.

Podres made it stand up, going the distance and allowing just five hits and one unearned run; he also struck out six. The win evened his season record at 7-7. Final score: Dodgers 3, Giants 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 69-35, SFG 67-37, PIT 61-42, CIN 58-42

Monday, July 25, 2022


 Oddly enough, the San Francisco Giants did not fare especially well in close games against bad teams (defined as those with less than a .500 WPCT) during the 1962 season. All teams (counting both the AL and the NL, and including bad teams with the good teams) had a .567 WPCT against bad teams in close games (defined as games decided by two runs or less).

But in the '62 NL, those numbers were significantly different. Why is this? Because there were only three bad teams in the league that year--the two first-year expansion clubs and the Chicago Cubs. These were all in the "very bad" category of such teams--not the 79-83 teams or even the 70-92 teams, but teams that either came close to 100 losses or exceeded it. (Remember the quiz about how many years are there where two or more teams in the same league lose 100+ games? We still haven't done the research on that, but one of those incidences can be found in the 1962 NL.)

So the NL totals have less games than the AL (fewer bad teams, few games against bad teams...) and because of that concentration of badness, the good teams tend to do better--in some cases a lot better. (And then again a team like the '62 Phillies, technically a "good team" at 81-80, is able to win a lot of games--and in this case, a lot of close games--against the bad teams and skew the numbers a bit.)

Skew or not, the NL played .623 baseball against bad teams in close games (157-95). The Giants (to get back to where we once belonged...) played only .542 ball in those games against those kind of teams (13-11, as you can see in the table at right). The Dodgers by contrast, played .783 ball in such games (18-5).

Of course, in games where the score was decided by three runs or more, the Giants did quite well (24-6). But so did the Dodgers (24-7). The league's record against bad teams in non-close games was .704--again, higher than usual because of the smaller quantity but greater concentration of bad teams in the league.

Overall against bad teams, the Dodgers were 42-12, the Giants 37-17. That doesn't look like so much of a difference--but note that it's the close games where all of the difference lies. The Dodgers beat their Pythagorean Win Percentage (PWP) by five games because they won those extra close games; the Giants hit their PWP pretty much on the mark...because they did not. 

ON this night in Houston, though, the Giants pulled out a close one against the Colts, and their starting pitcher Billy O'Dell made a subtle difference that gave them the margin of victory. After the two teams had traded runs in the first, O'Dell came to the plate in the top of the second with two out and Felipe Alou on first. Houston starter Jim Golden threw a high strike that Billy tomahawked past him up the middle and through into center field, moving Alou to second. Chuck Hiller followed with another single that scored Alou, a run that more often that not in such a situation just doesn't come to pass (because pitchers are much weaker hitters than position weak, in fact...hmm, let's just leave that where it lays, shall we?). 

The extra run made it all happen because the teams would then trade single runs again later in the game (Alou tripled and scored on Tom Haller's base hit; Stu Miller, pitching in the eighth after Don Larsen had bailed out O'Dell in the previous frame, served up a homer to Bob Aspromonte). But Stu settled down from there, bringing home the often-elusive close win over the downtrodden. Final score: Giants 3, Colts 2.

IN St. Louis, Don Drysdale had a shutout going until Stan Musial (hitting .350 on the year at age 41) hit a two-run homer in the sixth, tying the game at 2-2; but LA knocked Ray Washburn out of the game with three straight hits in the top of the seventh, scoring two runs (one of them on Tommy Davis' 103rd RBI). And Maury Wills hit his 6th (and last) homer of the season in the ninth off a clearly frazzled Don Ferrarese (a lefty nicknamed "Midget" who was shorter than Dick Littlefield but traded almost as often). Drysdale's record improved to 18-4 as he went seven innings, bailed out by the law firm of Perranoski and Roebuck. Final score: Dodgers 5, Cards 2.

AT Crosley Field, the Pirates got two homers from catcher Smoky Burgess (who was, in fact, shorter than Ferrarese the midget) but their pitching meltdown continued as Cincinnati pounded out 21 hits (4-for-4 from Frank Robinson), making the Bucs walk the plank for the third straight game. Final score: Reds 13, Pirates 6.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 68-35, SFG 67-36, PIT 60-40, CIN 57-41

Sunday, July 24, 2022


Not directly relevant to the events of July 24, 1962, but Charles Einstein's Willie's Time, first published in 1979, puts Willie Mays' career (and many significant snippets of his personal life) into the perspective of the five presidents whose terms in office coincide with his place as a centerpiece of major league baseball from 1951 to 1973. (We will leave it to you to name those five presidents...) 

The portions dealing with the Giants in the 60s are especially cogent, particularly with respect to the Civil Rights movement (and Willie's oblique relationship to all of that). Highly recommended...

WE pick up in Cincinnati again, where the Pirates' Earl Francis melts down in the second inning, receiving a quick hook from Danny Murtaugh in hopes of staying in the game (3-0 Reds at this point). But Dick Groat's error in the sixth paves the way for two unearned runs to score and Cincy holds on for a 6-4 win. Eddie Kasko has three RBI for the Reds.

BACK to Willie: he and the Giants are still in Houston, and it's a good pitching matchup--Jack Sanford vs. Turk Farrell. But this is one of those games where Mays takes charge of things, even in cavernous Colt Stadium: he hits two solo homers (numbers 30 and 31) off Farrell, which is just enough for the Giants to take down the offensively-challenged Colts. Sanford and Don Larsen combine on a five-hitter, with Mister World Series Perfect Game especially sharp, fanning four in 2 1/3 innings. Final score: Giants 3, Colts 1.

That two-homer-in-a-game thing struck our fancy, though, so we looked up just how many two-homer games that Mays had in his career. That number is, oddly enough, Ruthian (60). So then we decided to look up the same information for the two other "inner circle" Hall of Fame slugging outfielders whose careers intersected with Willie: Hank Aaron (a Maris-like 61 two-homer games) and Frank Robinson (53...which, one supposes, is Pete Alonzo-like).

As always, we went further, and captured the two-homer games on a year-by-year basis (in the table above), highlighting the years where these mega-stars had 6 or more such games in a season. (Note: we aren't capturing any three or four-homer games here.) We highlighted the years in which these three won their MVP awards by showing the two-homer totals for those years in red type. Only one MVP award--Frank Robby, in 1966--has a lot of two-homer action in it. 

IN St. Louis, Ernie Broglio outdueled Stan Williams, with Broglio himself scoring the winning run in the game when he reached base in the sixth inning on a throwing error by Johnny Roseboro and then was brought home by Curt Flood's opposite-field double. Final score: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 67-35, SFG 66-36, PIT 60-39, CIN 56-41, STL 56-44

Saturday, July 23, 2022


We will add some coverage of the Pirates to our ongoing tale, at least for a bit, so that we can trace the tracks of their tears as they fade from the pennant race. As Pittsburgh hit the skids, the Cincinnati Reds re-emerge over the second half to move within striking distance of the Dodgers and Giants--and a pivotal part of that process can be found in the four-game Pirates-Reds series from 7/23-7/26 (which Cincy swept). As we'll see, the Reds wound up dominating that particular season series...we display them below in the three home-and-home segments that occurred in 1962, with the win-loss summaries shown from the Pirates' perspective:

5/11-5/12-5/13 PIT@CIN: 0-3; 5/18-5/20 CIN@PIT 1-1

6/18(2)-6/19-6/20 CIN@PIT 1-3; 7/23-7/24-7/25-7/26 PIT@CIN 0-4

9/18-9/19-9/20 CIN@PIT 2-1; 9/25-9/26 PIT@CIN 1-1

When you add up the figures in bold, you'll see that the Pirates had a 5-13 record against the Reds in '62, the worst performance versus any opponent for that year. (They were 7-11 against the Giants, and 8-10 against the Dodgers.) That eight-game swing within this season series captures most of the difference in the two teams' final season records (Reds 98-64; Pirates 93-68).

On this day (July 23, 1962--a Monday), the Reds' Jim O'Toole, in the beginning stages of a second-half resurgence (8-4, 2.98 ERA) simply shuts down the Pirates, tossing a one-hit shutout. (He has a no-hitter into the eighth inning, until Bob Skinner reaches him for a one-out double.) Final score: Reds 3, Pirates 0. 

DOWN in Houston, Bobby Bolin is not quite so dominant as O'Toole, but he still tosses a strong game at the reeling Houston Colts (this is the month where the first-year expansion team goes 5-24). Bolin improves his season record to 6-0, allowing only an unearned run when Willie Mays uncharacteristically makes an errant throw attempting to throw out Joey Amalfitano at third base on the Colt second baseman's extra-base knock. The ball skips away from all of the nearby Giants, allowing Amalfitano to score. (It was only the third error committed by Mays during the '62 season.)

The Giants were leading 4-0 at the time, and Mays would get that run back in the seventh, hitting his 29th homer. Final score: Giants 5, Colts 1.

IN St. Louis, the Dodgers scored three in the second (two on another homer from Frank Howard, still red hot) and five more in the fourth (three on a homer by Maury Wills, who later said it was easily the longest ball he'd ever hit) en route to a laugher against the Cardinals. Johnny Podres scattered nine hits and walked no one, going the distance to improve his season record to 6-7. Final score: Dodgers 9, Cardinals 2.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 67-34, SFG 65-36, PIT 60-38, CIN 55-41

Friday, July 22, 2022


Threatening skies in Chicago on Sunday, July 22, 1962 finally unleashed a torrent at Wrigley Field, but it was two innings too late for the Cubs. When the game was called at 4:15pm CDT, it was the bottom of the seventh, which made it official in the record books. Three of the five Chicago pitchers who took the mound that day were slapped and slugged all over the park by the Dodgers, led by Willie Davis, who scored three times and drove in four runs with his two triples (which were hit in consecutive innings, the first off starting pitcher and loser Don Cardwell, in the first; the second, off reliever Al Lary, in the second).

LA scored five in the first, two in the second and three in the third, but teenage monster Joe Moeller barely made it into the fourth inning after surrendering a healthy chunk of the lead thanks to a four-run Cub rally in the third (Ernie Banks' 24th homer, a three-run shot, being the big blow). Despite the absence of Sandy Koufax, this was Moeller's final appearance for the Dodgers in 1962; he would soon be replaced in the starting rotation by Pete Richert, recalled from Spokane after LA used the second All-Star break at the end of July to temporarily employ a three-man starting rotation.

The Dodgers banged out fifteen hits, including homers from Frank Howard and the otherwise very sinkable Larry Burright (his fourth and final homer as a Dodger: his two hits in as many days in Chicago had snapped an 8-for-92 stretch at the plate that, if nothing else, proved that manager Walt Alston was an inordinately patient man). Final score: Dodgers 13, Cubs 6 (called after 6 1/2 innings due to rain).

IN PITTSBURGH, the Pirates began a quick descent that would see them lose thirteen of their next sixteen games when Harvey Haddix allowed four homers to the Giants, providing Juan Marichal with just enough margin to burrow his way through to a complete game win. One of the four homers came from Willie Mays (his 28th); the last of them came from Jose Pagan (his fourth), prompting Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh to give Haddix the rest of the day off. 

The Pirates' pitchers would quickly become much too hittable, and that can be seen in the stats covering the stretch of nineteen games that began on July 20 and concluded on August 10, in which they were 4-15. Compare this to our earlier chart of the pitchers during the Pirates' 30-10 performance during June and July, and you'll see that their finesse pitcher starting rotation came undone simultaneously.

The Pirates would run into the Cincinnati Reds next, and would drop four straight to the '61 pennant winners, who (as noted before) would have the best second-half record in the NL during '62--only they began their charge about a week and a half too late to factor into the pennant race. 

Marichal surrendered a two-run homer to Dick Stuart in the sixth, but held on for his 13th win. Final score: Giants 5, Pirates 4.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 66-34, SFG 64-36, PIT 60-37

Thursday, July 21, 2022


Stu Miller has taken something of a beating in these pages, both from us and from the opponents he faced during the 1962 season (a clear off-year for him, particularly in comparison with his superb work in the previous season, in which he led the NL in saves and had a 14-5 record). But on this day in 1962 (a Saturday), Miller was above and beyond in a way that was rare then (and virtually non-existent now).

Just what are we talking about? You've heard us prattle on about HLRAs here from time to time--the "heroic lengthy relief appearance." The definition of a HLRA (pronounced "hell-ra") is a bit fluid: just what is lengthy, anyway? For our purposes, we've defined it as at least four innings--if only to ensure that such outings will be highly scarce in the present day.

"Heroic" implies more, however. It involves pitching really well as well as eating up a sizable number of innings. For our purpose, a HLRA means throwing 4+ relief IP and allowing no more than one run. In 1962, this occurred 234 times in MLB (118 in the NL, 116 in the AL). By contrast, there were 68 such games in MLB during 2021 (22 in the NL, 46 in the AL). Put another way, there were about 11 such games per team in 1962; in 2021, there were just over two per team.

The seriously heroic games, of course, involve far more than four innings. And Stu Miller's seven scoreless innings of relief for the Giants on July 21, 1962, taking over after starter Billy O'Dell was chased with no out in the third, was much rarer even then. We've chosen six innings as the line of demarcation for "heroic ultra-lengthy relief appearances." There were only 44 such games that year, 22 in each league. 

You can see the NL games in the table at right: they're sorted by team, so scroll your eyes down till you find Miller, the only Giants pitcher to have such a game in 1962. As you can see by examining the info provided, Miller tossed seven scoreless innings from the third to the ninth in a game that the Giants eventually lost 7-6, in 11 innings. 

What's interesting about this set of games is the "heroism" displayed in them often produced a win for the pitcher's team. One game on this list (the 4/25/62 game between the Cardinals and the Colts) ended in a tie; of the other 21, the team with the HULRA ("heroic ultra-lengthy relief appearance") had a 16-5 record. The relievers on the list who earned a decision for these outings had a perfect 15-0 record. (In 2021, there were only seven such games--and several of these were games where starting pitchers were being used in conjunction with an "opener"...a concept that didn't exist in 1962. Out of the 20 pitchers on the 1962 list, only four of them could be classified as starting pitchers.)

The level of involvement in such games in the '62 NL is hardly even--the Phillies had five such outings (two each from Jack Baldschun and Dallas Green). They also had it happen against them four times, so they were involved in nearly 40% of such games during this season.

Clearly pitcher usage was much different in those days than it is in 2022; it's much rarer for relievers to go more than a single inning now. How much rarer now than in 1962? Back then relievers went more than an inning in 52% of their appearances; in 2021, that figure was just 22%.

In a disappointing season for Miller (5-9 won-loss record, only 14 saves), it is sadly fitting that his best performance of the year was for naught. In the eleventh, with one out, a man on first, and the game tied 6-6, Al Dark went by the book and brought in lefty Billy Pierce to face lefty-swinging catcher Smoky Burgess, but Smoky smacked a single to center, sending the runner to third. After Dark had Pierce walk Bill Mazeroski intentionally, a third Giant reliever, Bobby Bolin was brought in. Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh sent up lefty pinch-hitter Jim Marshall, who singled in the winning run. The Bucs had not stopped winning just yet...though they were about to. Final score: Pirates 7, Giants 6 (11 innings).

IN Chicago, Don Drysdale allowed a first inning homer to Lou Brock (remember, he's still on the Cubs in '62) but nothing else after that as the Dodgers bunched together three run-scoring singles in the fourth and hung on to win a rare low-scoring game in Wrigley Field (the second highest park in terms of run scoring in the 1962 NL, behind only the Polo Grounds). Final score: Dodgers 3, Cubs 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 65-34, SF 63-36, PIT 60-36

Wednesday, July 20, 2022


At Wrigley Field, that hellhole of a paradise that was still famously without lights on July 20, 1962, the Dodgers erased a 2-0 deficit with eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to beat the still-lowly Cubs (now comfortably numb in ninth place). Though some of this was due to the ten-team, one division set-up during the first years of expansion, the Cubs would become one of the very few teams in baseball history to lose 100+ games and not finish in last place. (Can you name the others without looking it up? Neither can we...)

Tommy Davis hit the century mark in RBI with four more for LA. Tommy would reach the fabled number of 153--kind of a talismanic number in the formless minds of some, given its inversion of the core group of odd numbers. Odder still is the fact that Tommy had the highest RBI season ever for a player who never drove in 100 runs ever again during his career. (It's also likely that the gap between his best RBI year and his second best RBI year--64--is the highest in baseball history--but we haven't verified that for you. Fact-checkers, get busy!)

Stan Williams continued to bend, not break in July, and recovered from a shaky first inning to pitch solidly before going wild in the eighth. Ed Roebuck bailed him out. Final score: Dodgers 8, Cubs 2.

OVER in Pittsburgh, the Giants locked horns with the Pirates just as the 1960 World Champs were peaking, having won 30 of their last 40 games despite a rag-tag offense. Soon to become known as a team dominated by its batters, the Pirates in the early 60s were developing a second tier of highly promising pitchers to complement their "big three" of Bob Friend, Vern Law and Harvey Haddix. Three pitchers in particular--lefty Joe Gibbon and righties Earl Francis and Al McBean--seemed to have the right stuff to give the Bucs one of the deepest rotations around. And so they did--for 45 days in the late spring/early summer of 1962, when the Pirates found a soft seam in the schedule and soared up to meet the top two teams in the NL.

But even the stats in these 40 games (as shown in the table at right) indicate to us now that these Pirate pitchers were likely not to be the ticket to domination in the 60s National League. Look at the H/9 ratios for most of these pitchers and you'll see too much finesse and too little power (particularly at a time when power pitching would soon get a boost from the strike zone change). 

Gibbon, the most promising of the three newcomers, hurt his arm in 1962 during spring training and tried to pitch through it, causing him to miss much of the year and suffer a career plateau that forced him into the bullpen, where he would turn in a creditable career. Francis would sustain an arm injury early in 1963 that caused him to alter his motion and sent his career into a slow but irrevocable tailspin. McBean would quickly demonstrate that the rigors of starting pitching would periodically deplete him, leaving him vulnerable to an uncomfortably high percentage of games where he was just too hittable. He'd be moved to the bullpen in 1963, where he'd fashion a highly successful career over the next five years (38-19, 138 ERA+) before suddenly fading out once he turned thirty.

In a future post, we'll show you what happened to these guys (and to the other members of the pitching staff) as the Pirates returned to playing the better teams in the league.

On this night at Forbes Field, the Giants polished off Vern Law via the long ball--homers from Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, and built a 4-0 lead after three innings. Jack Sanford was not pitching all that well for SF, however, putting too many men on base, surviving thanks to two double plays turned behind him and poor hitting with RISP by the Pirates. Don Larsen would bail him out in the seventh, preventing the tying run from coming across the plate. 

In the eighth, Dr. Strangeglove (the enigmatic, inimitable Dick Stuart) made his 16th error of the year at first base, which led to two unearned runs for the Giants. Stuart's off-year (.228, 16 HRs after hitting 35 the year before) and his ongoing defensive antics would soon cause him to be benched during the Pirates' upcoming "fall from grace" and he'd be traded to the Red Sox over the off-season, where he'd make even more errors at first, but at least hit more homers. Final score: Giants 6, Pirates 3.

SEASON RECORDS: LA 64-34, SFG 63-35, PIT 59-36

Tuesday, July 19, 2022


After their roller-coaster come-from-behind and nearly-blown win the night before, the Dodgers managed to give one away on July 19, 1962. Two guys named Johnny--Podres for the Dodgers, Klippstein for the Reds--battled in a tight pitchers' duel.

Frank Howard's second-inning homer gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, which Podres held until the sixth, when Wally Post doubled in the tying run. LA went back in front in the top of the eighth on Podres' infield single (set up by a pinch hit from Duke Snider, a man conspicuous in his absence over the past couple of months). But an error by Ron Fairly allowed the Reds to score an unearned run in the bottom of the inning.

The Dodgers reclaimed the lead in the top of the ninth on Johnny Roseboro's single, and it looked as though veteran lefty reliever Bill Henry might have given the game away. Podres walked the first man he faced in the bottom of the ninth, however, and Walt Alston quickly brought in Ron Perranoski. After the play-for-a-tie play option (sacrifice bunt) was utilized by Fred Hutchinson, the Dodgers' ace lefty retired Joe Gaines for the second out of the inning. 

But ex-Dodger Don Zimmer, recently rescued from the Mets--after hitting 4-for-52 with them to start the '62 season--had come into the game an inning earlier as a defensive replacement. He slapped a single to left to tie the game. And Eddie Kasko hit a 1-0 pitch over the head of Frank Howard in right, which one-hopped the wall and stopped dead at the bottom of the fence. By the time Big Frank got to the ball, Zimmer was rounding third and he scored easily. Final score: Reds 4, Dodgers 3.

IN Milwaukee, the Giants rallied from a 3-1 deficit to knock Denny Lemaster out of the game and then proceeded to rough up Carl Willey as well. Bobby Bolin had a HLRA (you remember: "heroic lengthy relief appearance") for the Giants, tossing five scoreless innings in relief to improve his season record to 5-0. Jose Pagan had three RBI for SF as they moved to within one game of the Dodgers. Final score: Giants 7, Braves 3.

But there were other footsteps in the pennant race that day. The Pittsburgh Pirates swept a doubleheader from the New York Mets by scores of 5-1 and 7-6 to move within 2 1/2 games of first place. Since June 10, the Bucs had gone 30-10 to gain 6 1/2 games in the standings. During that time frame, Roberto Clemente had hit .425 with 31 RBI; Bob Skinner, in the midst of his best-ever season for the Pirates, hit .372 during this stretch. The Pirates were beating up the lesser lights in the NL during this time frame, however--the Mets, the Colts, the Cubs, and the Phillies; they would start playing the Giants and Dodgers again over the next ten days...

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 63-34, SFG 62-35, PIT 59-35, STL 53-41, CIN 50-41, MIL 46-48, PHI 44-51, HOU 34-58, CHC 35-61, NYM 24-66

Monday, July 18, 2022


Bob Shaw's meandering career had many ups and downs--he was occasionally an ace (down the stretch in 1959 for the White Sox), but more often an enigmatic, Jekyll-and-Hyde type of pitcher who was sometimes simply too hittable for his own good. His season for the Braves in 1962 combined both of these tendencies, and proved that starting pitchers are individualistic enough that their success patterns need to be more carefully examined by baseball insiders. 

Shaw's QMAX chart shows the bifurcated nature of his work in '62--we've emphasized the performance gaps based on the bi-directional performance matrix. As you go down the rows, you see hit prevention shift from strength/dominance to vulnerability/weakness. Shaw's '62 season is almost equally split between these performance extremes, and it appears that attempts to use him as a workhorse (with longer outings and fewer days rest) had a negative effect on his ability to sustain his effectiveness across an entire season. 

Instead of looking for ways to protect his performance level by giving him extra days off or curtailing his innings per start, the Braves decided to make him a relief pitcher the next season, which only served to make his performance even more erratic. He would be traded to the Giants in 1964, and they would keep him in the bullpen that year, with similar results. The following year they returned him to the starting rotation, and with more attention paid to his workload, Shaw had his last solid year.

On this night (July 18, 1962), Shaw was at his best, snapping a personal five-game losing streak with a brilliant two-hit shutout. Never a big strikeout artist, Shaw fanned five and walked two in completely shutting down the Giants. (His QMAX score in this game: 1, 1--the top box at the far left.) Juan Marichal, still mired in his mid-season slump, surrendered a two-run homer to Lee Maye in the first, and was touched for three more runs in the third. (The loss dropped his season mark to 12-6. His QMAX score for this game: 7, 4.) Final score: Braves 6, Giants 0.

IN Cincinnati, the Dodgers were being similarly baffled by Jim O'Toole through seven innings, managing just two hits off the Reds' lefty. In the bottom of the seventh, Gordy Coleman hit his second homer of the game off Don Drysadale, a two-run shot that gave the Reds a 3-0 lead. The Dodgers finally bunched two hits and a walk off O'Toole in the eighth to score a run, but they trailed 3-1 with two out in the top of the ninth when Tommy Davis hit a grounder to shortstop Roy McMillan, who bobbled it. Frank Howard then came to the plate and hit O'Toole's first pitch for a mammoth opposite-field homer to tie the game.

Then Larry Sherry made things "interesting" for the Dodgers. In the bottom of the ninth, he hit two batters in a row to put the potential game-winning run into scoring position, but got out of it when Coleman lined into a double play. In the tenth, he was helped out by ex-Dodger Don Zimmer, who stumbled while running on a 3-2 pitch and was thrown out at second to end the inning.

In the top of the eleventh, O'Toole (still in there!) hit Willie Davis with one out. Willie stole second, and then came home on Tommy Davis' RBI single. Fred Hutchinson then replaced O'Toole with Jim Brosnan, who then gave up another mammoth home run to Frank Howard (this one to dead center). The Dodgers took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the inning.

Sherry then proceeded to give up a single and a double to the first two batters he faced. Walt Alston brought in Ron Perranoski, who proceeded to walk Joe Gaines, loading the bases and bringing the potential winning run to the plate in the form of Vada Pinson (with Frank Robinson on deck). With the Crosley Field crowd bellowing in his ears, Perranoski pitched with intricate care to both Pinson and Robinson, inducing both of them to ground out...which brought in two runs to make it a one-run game. With two outs and the tying run on second, Alston broke a cardinal rule of the game (or so it was so often explained to us back in '62): he put the winning run on base by intentionally walking Gordy Coleman--who, of course, had already hit two homers and a blistering line drive. 

Perranoski now faced lefty-swinging Marty Keough, 0-for-4 on the night. Keough took a strike, then launched the next pitch down the right field line with home run distance...but the ball curved foul at the last moment! After fouling off the next pitch, Keough lunged at a low pitch and hit a grounder to Maury Wills, who knocked the ball down, grabbed it barehanded, and had just enough time to toss the ball to Jim Gilliam for the final out, thus extinguishing a game that had seemingly taken on a life of its own. Final score: Dodgers 6, Reds 5 (11 innings).

Sunday, July 17, 2022


Sandy Koufax lasted just one inning against the Reds in Cincinnati on July 17, 1962. Here is his account from his autobiography:

While I warmed up to pitch in Cincinnati, the finger was so sore that I could barely hold the ball. One of the players came to me and said, "Forget it, Sandy. Don't even try it. Nobody will thank you for it."

Well, I pitched one inning and the damn thing split open. There was no blood to come spurting out; it was just a raw, open wound. The finger had split across the blood blister, though, and the dried blood, mixing perhaps with the sweat, was staining the ball as I threw.

The Reds made three hits and scored two runs. When I came back to the dugout at the end of the inning I told Walt [Alston] I didn't think I could make it.

Ya think? Koufax finally was sent to a cardiovascular specialist, and fortunately for him and the Dodgers (as well as baseball history) his finger did not have to be amputated. As he further describes in his autobio, it was touch and go there for awhile. 

Ed Roebuck replaced Koufax, but had nothing that day: three Reds (Leo Cardenas, Vada Pinson and Hank Foiles) hit homers off him. The Dodgers knocked out Bob Purkey in the fourth, but they could never quite tie the score, and Moe Drabowsky--continuing his up-and-down season that would soon have him leaving Cincinnati for Kansas City--gave the Dodgers a preview of his sensational World Series performance against them in Game One of the 1966 World Series by shutting them down for six innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five. 

Koufax was tagged with the loss, though most of the damage in the game was done by Roebuck. Final score: Reds 7, Dodgers 5.

IN Milwaukee, the Giants grabbed a quick lead in the first on a two-run homer by Orlando Cepeda, but Billy O'Dell left a waste pitch on 0-2 a bit too close to the plate in the fourth while facing Hank Aaron. Bam! Tie game.

Felipe Alou homered in the seventh off Warren Spahn to put the Giants back in front, but the Braves tied it when a passed ball by Tom Haller allowed pinch-runner Amado Samuel to reach scoring position. Roy McMillan cashed him in with a single to tie the score again.

But Samuel, who stayed in the game to play second, then made two errors in the ninth that allowed the Giants to score an unearned run and take a 4-3 lead. O'Dell wavered in the bottom of the ninth, in part due to an error by third baseman Jim Davenport; he left the game with the winning runs on base and just one out. But Bobby Bolin induced catcher Del Crandall to hit into a double play to hold off the Braves and preserve the win. Final score: Giants 4, Braves 3.


Saturday, July 16, 2022


The Dodgers were off on July 16, 1962, but the Giants played the Mets again before moving on to Milwaukee. The two pitchers who faced off--Jack Sanford and Roger Craig--wound up with "mirror-image" records in '62: Sanford won 24, Craig lost 24. Neither man was either the best or worst starting pitcher in the NL that year: Sanford had a great team behind him, and got excellent run support, while Craig was the mainstay of a team that lost 120 games.

On this day, they both pitched well: it was 1-1 in the seventh. Then Craig was victimized by an unearned run--a throwing error by shortstop Elio Chacon brought home the go-ahead run for the Giants. Craig was batted for in the bottom of the seventh; the Giants got another run without benefit of an RBI in the ninth (a Bob Miller wild pitch) and they staved off a Mets rally in the bottom of the inning to hold on for a win. (Newly minted Giant Bob Garibaldi got the final out, earning the first of just two lifetime saves in his career). Final score: Giants 3, Mets 2.

So our question is: how unlucky vs. how bad was Roger Craig? Was he a victim of sparse run support? Did he pitch well but rack up losses in that fashion. We looked through the 1962 data for pitchers with eight or more decisions where their team scored 2 runs or less for them to find out. You can see the results in the table at right. 

We sorted the list by ERA in such games, and you'll note that there are a number of pitchers missing from the list (due to not having enough decisions--meaning they got better run support than these unfortunates). No Don Drysdale or Juan Marichal here, for example. Or Jack Sanford, for that matter.

These 22 pitchers combined for a 34-197 record in such games, a .141 WPCT. Their overall ERA in these games was 3.73. 

So we can pick out Roger Craig in the list (his data row is shown in orange). His ERA in these games is just about at the average for the harder-luck guys. His W-L record (1-12) is down a win from where it needs to be in order to match the league average. So he was slightly unlucky in these games.

The guys who were really unlucky here were the Giants' Billy O'Dell (1-9, 2.97 ERA) and the Colts' Turk Farrell (0-15, 3.57 ERA). Farrell pitched for an expansion team that couldn't hit much which happened to play in a pitcher's park. O'Dell got the short end of the stick from a team that usually scored a lot of runs. 

Of course, you can see that the man who shined in such games was Sandy Koufax, with a .500 WPCT and an ERA of 1.93. Ernie Broglio, who will always be remembered as the stiff the Cubs acquired for Lou Brock, wasn't too shabby in this area either.

The Mets had 57 such games in '62 and went 5-52 in them. That wasn't the highest number of such games in the NL that year, however. That unfortunate stat was owned by the Colts, with 65 such games (8-57 on the year). At least it's not lonely at the bottom, right?


Friday, July 15, 2022


The Dodgers would lose Sandy Koufax two days after the "ides of July" (a phrase often used to pinpoint the fifteenth day of a month, most commonly applied to March, when bloody events occurred in ancient Rome...) but for quite awhile it didn't seem as though it mattered. LA would go 20-6 in July, with the remaining three starting pitchers all pitching in without missing a beat. (Even Stan Williams had a good month, logging a 3.12 ERA and winning three games). They'd bring Pete Richert up in August, and he'd hold his own, pitching better yet in September. As we'll see, it really wasn't the pitching that brought the Dodgers down...

And so on this day in Philadelphia (switching towns in the middle of a weekend, a practice that seems to have been common before the advent of divisional play but now seems downright strange...) the Dodgers were literally in mid-season form. 

Maury Wills stole his 47th base (what was he going to do with all of them, anyway?) slapped two doubles and scored three runs; he was driven in every time he scored by Tommy Davis, who would up with four RBI for the game and now had 95 for the year. LA slapped around three Philly hurlers who all had five-letter surnames (Smith, Brown, Short), Frank Howard hit a mammoth homer off the middle one and threw out Johnny Callison at third base, and Johnny Podres scattered six hits and struck out seven to earn his fifth win of the year. (He'd get worked very hard from this point on, once Koufax was on the shelf.) Final score: Dodgers 9, Phillies 1(first game). 

LA hit a 2-out-of-3 winning percentage (62-31) with this win, a figure they would flirt with on and off for about a month until the loss of Koufax and the increasing wear-and-tear on Don Drysdale would start to take its toll. In the second game of their "ides of July" doubleheader, the Phils' Art Mahaffey, pushed into a role similar to Drysdale's as the heavily-used ace (and whose future career would suffer for it), shut down the Dodgers on five hits, including an impressive fourth inning when he struck out the side against the heart of LA's order (Tommy Davis, Ron Fairly, Frank Howard).

Phil Ortega got the spot start and pitched creditably for four innings, giving up a homer to Roy Sievers but surrendering what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out single by flyweight hitter Bobby Wine. The Dodgers mounted a last-gasp threat in the top of the ninth when Willie Davis tripled with two out, but Mahaffey retired Tommy Davis on a grounder to seal his twelfth win on the year. Final score: Phillies 2, Dodgers 1 (second game).

FOR Joe Pignatano, it must have been bittersweet to discover that the team which had just sold him to the lowly Mets would be visiting the Polo Grounds so soon after he'd been so unceremoniously dumped. But "Piggy" had known there were footsteps behind him: down at Tacoma, a young catcher named Johnny Orsino was tearing things up and it'd been a surprise when Al Dark sent him back to AAA after his good showing with the big club in '61. But the numbers that Orsino was putting up down there (.327, 19 HRs) just couldn't be ignored; thus Pignatano went from the upper echelon to the lower depths in one fell swoop when the Giants sent him to the Mets on July 13th.

Truth told, the Giants needed to clear roster space, for they'd just splurged for a "bonus baby" pitcher, Bob Garibaldi, upon whom they'd just bestowed the then-princely sum of $150,000. According to the rules in play at the time, handing that much green stuff to an equally green player meant that said greenster needed to be parked on the major league roster for at least the year in which he'd pocketed the cash (or, presumably, one billion S&H green stamps). 

Neither Orsino nor Garibaldi would make much of an impact on the Giants. After having shown some HR pop in his first time up with the Giants the previous year, Orsino didn't show much spark down the stretch run in '62 as he got a shot to start against southpaws. Over the '62-'63 off-season, the Giants decided they needed different pitchers, so they banished two hurlers who'd underachieved for them in their pennant-winning year--Stu Miller and Mike McCormick--in a deal with the Baltimore Orioles, who shrewdly held out for Orsino as well. What the Giants got back will only depress you, even if you aren't a Giants fan, so we'll let you go look that up at Orsino hit 19 HRs for the O's the next year but would soon fade as a hitter; Miller, of course, rebounded sharply in Baltimore and was a mainstay in their bullpen for the next five years.

Garibaldi is a bigger mystery. That's because unlike almost everyone they ever had under contract at one point or another, the Giants held onto him forever--but they never gave him any real chance to play in the big leagues. Garibaldi would spend most of the next eight years (1963-1970) toiling for the Giants' AAA farm club (Tacoma and Phoenix: in 1970, a sportswriter mock-congratulated him in print for being re-elected "mayor of Phoenix" and suggested he run for governor.)

Oddly, Garibaldi pitched pretty well at AAA for all those years (96-81 lifetime); he bounced back from a 1964 arm injury and became more of a finesse pitcher (and was almost as effective as before). But over four widely-spaced opportunities in the majors over those nine years (1962-70), Garibaldi was allowed to face only 115 batters.

All three of these Italian guys--Orsino, Garibaldi, and Pignatano--saw action in one or the other of the two games played at the Polo Grounds between the Giants and Mets on July 15th. A fourth "newbie" that day--Billy Pierce, coming off the disabled list after being sidelined for a month--started the first game for the Giants, but wasn't quite ready: after three scoreless innings, he gave up four runs in the fourth and had to be removed. (Pierce would be nursed along for a couple weeks and then was pivotal to the Giants staying in the race in August, posting a 5-1 record that month.) Dark then paraded all of his relievers (except for Stu Miller)--Duffalo, Larsen, McCormick--into the game as he waited in vain for the Giants to turn things around on the Mets' Jay Hook. (You might say that Jay just kept wriggling off the hook; then again, you might not...)

Garibaldi made his debut in the bottom of the eighth, retiring the side in order and recording his first big-league strikeout against fellow Italian Chris Cannizzaro

Tom Haller homered off Hook in the ninth, but it was what the Internet generation would call "tater bait." Final score: Mets 5, Giants 3 (first game).

In Game Two, the Giants battered ex-Dodger Willard Hunter to erase a 2-0 deficit and built a 9-2 lead after seven innings. They started to wish they'd been able to cash in on an aborted eighth-inning rally, however, when the Mets rose up and smacked around starter Bobby Bolin in the bottom of the inning. Fittingly, it was Joe Pignatano's double that chased Bolin from the game, making the score 9-6. 

Stu Miller came in and promptly gave up two more hits, and Dark had to bring Juan Marichal in to stop the bleeding after the Mets had closed to within one run. 

Before things had gone wacky, the Giants had piled up 16 hits, including two-run homers from Harvey Kuenn and Orlando Cepeda. Order finally re-emerged from chaos, however, as Marichal retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to stave off disaster and salvage the nightcap. Beware the ides of July! Final score: Giants 9, Mets 8 (second game)


Thursday, July 14, 2022


The Dodgers returned to the Giants' old park (the Polo Grounds) with a collective bang in 1962. For the season, the boys in blue had a slash line of .307/.368/.571. They hit a total of 20 HRs there, led by Willie Davis (6), Ron Fairly (5, along with a .500 BA), and Maury Wills (who hit four of his six HRs for the year there). They outscored the Mets there, 77-34, and somehow managed to lose a game, winding up with "only" an 8-1 record.

Saturday, July 14 (also known in some circles as Bastille Day...) was more of the same. Fueled by two big innings (eight in the second and six in the sixth), the Dodgers scored seventeen unanswered runs until Stan Williams surrendered a two-run homer to Richie Ashburn in the bottom of the sixth. 

Johnny Roseboro joined Willie Davis in driving in three runs, while Maury Wills joined Willie in scoring three times. The Dodgers tallied 16 hits and eight walks en route to their two-touchdown victory in a game that, if it'd been a boxing match would have been declared a TKO and stopped in the sixth inning. Final score: Dodgers 17, Mets 3.

DOWN in Philly, a poor start from Juan Marichal (six hits, four runs in 3 2/3 IP) led to the Giants being down 5-0 going into the seventh. SF then sent nine men to the plate and tied the score, thanks to some creative moves by Al Dark (pinch-hitting Ed Bailey after Tom Haller in the middle of the rally; picking the right spot to bring on Orlando Cepeda, who singled in two runs to get the Giants within one run).

The game then boiled down into a battle of relief aces: righty Jack Baldschun, who'd wind up with 12 wins and 13 saves for the Phillies in this year, was pitted against the Giants' mercurial Stu Miller, who'd had similar stats the year before but struggled a good bit in '62. They matched goose-eggs in the eighth and ninth; Baldschun escaped a two on, one out situation in the top of the tenth. With a man on for the Phils in the bottom of the tenth, Miller hit Don Demeter with an 0-2 pitch, keeping the inning alive so that the light-hitting Bobby Wine could punch a single up the middle, allowing the winning run to score. Final score: Phillies 6, Giants 5 (10 innings)


NL LEADERS as of 7/14/62

Batting Average: T. Davis LAD .351, Clemente PIT .350, F. Robinson CIN .338, Musial STL .332, Davenport SFG .331, Aaron MIL .329

On-Base Percentage: Skinner PIT .416, F. Robinson CIN .414, Dalrymple PHI .412, Ashburn NYM .407, Altman CHC .405, Fairly LAD .404, Musial STL .402

Slugging Average: Aaron MIL .618, Mays SFG .602, F. Robinson CIN .582, T. Davis LAD .559, B. Williams CHC .538

Home Runs: Mays SFG 25, Aaron MIL 22, Banks CHC 22, Mejias HOU 20, Cepeda SFG 18, Mathews MIL 17

Runs Batted In: T. Davis LAD 91, Mays SFG 81, Aaron MIL 76, F. Robinson CIN 73, Cepeda SFG 70

Runs Scored: Wills LAD 79, Mays SFG 73, T. Davis LAD 67, B. Williams CHC 67, Aaron MIL 66, W. Davis LAD 66

Wednesday, July 13, 2022


Games don't get any closer than the ones played by the Giants and Dodgers on July 13, 1962 (a Friday) as they both made another swing through the East Coast. 

In New York, Don Drysdale was burned in the bottom of the first by Felix Mantilla, who hit a three-run homer. (Drysdale snapped at his glove as Mantilla toured the basis, clearly wishing he could have the pitch back.) The Dodgers scored one in the second and two in the third to tie the game, however, and took the lead in the fifth when Maury Wills hit a "Polo Grounds homer" on a fly ball that traveled a good bit less than three hundred feet.

Gene Woodling's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning tied the score again, however, and the score remained deadlocked until Ron Fairly homered in the eighth off Al Jackson. Drysdale retired former teammate Gil Hodges for the final out as the Dodgers secured what was both a come-from-behind and a blown-lead win. By doing so, Big D improved his seasonal won-loss record to 16-4. Final score: Dodgers 5, Mets 4. 

In Philly, flaky young left-hander Dennis Bennett held the Giants to just five hits while his teammates bunched five hits in one inning to score three runs, just enough to beat Billy O'Dell. Bennett gave ground in the ninth, but kept the inning from getting out of hand by inducing Willie Mays to hit into a double play at a critical moment. As it turned out, Orlando Cepeda still represented the potential go-ahead run as he batted with two outs in the ninth--but Bennett retired him on a pop-up. Final score: Phillies 3, Giants 2.


Tuesday, July 12, 2022


Thursday, July 12, 1962 was the last game of that season in which Sandy Koufax pitched more than five innings. His finger had started to turn blue, and it would split open early in his next start, finally forcing the issue and delivering him into the hands of a specialist who could determine the nature of the injury.

But for seven more innings vs. the New York Mets at the Polo Grounds, Koufax remained as unhittable as anyone in baseball history. From June 4th through July 12, he'd appeared in eleven games, ten as a starter, and allowed just 35 hits in 82 2/3 innings pitched. Batters had hit .125 against him. 

(The only pitcher whose opponent batting average was lower over such a span--requiring at least 70 IP--was Johan Santana, who held batters to a .119 BA during an 11-start stretch from mid-June to early August in 2004. Santana gave up 10 HR during that span, however; batters' OPS against him during that time frame was .419. Koufax gave up just 3 HR during his skein, and batters had managed an OPS of only .373.)

As reported in his autobiography, Sandy lost his feeling for the ball as the game progressed, and was removed in favor of Larry Sherry at the start of the eighth inning. Larry made things a bit interesting in the ninth, allowing the tying run to come to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but he retired Richie Ashburn to preserve the team shutout. The Dodgers received scoring hits from Tommy Davis (#91, still comfortably in possession of the league lead), Willie Davis, and Johnny Roseboro. Final score: Dodgers 3, Mets 0.

OVER in Philadelphia, Jack Sanford shut out the Phillies for the first six innings as the Giants built up a 5-0 lead (RBIs from Chuck Hiller, Willie Mays, Felipe Alou, Jose Pagan, and Sanford himself). Jack weakened in the seventh and eighth, however, allowing Philadelphia to cut the SF lead to 5-3. Stu Miller relieved Sanford in the eighth and picked up his 13th save. Final score: Giants 5, Phillies 3.


Monday, July 11, 2022


 We looked at this back in May, but the sample size was way too small for us to take the results seriously...

...but now we are a bit more than halfway through the '22 season, so we'll revisit our comparison of ballpark OPS and HR/G.

The table at right is sorted in "ascending order" of the differential (DIFF) in HR/G in '22 as opposed to '21--because that is the most dramatic difference to be found in the numbers. 

You may recall HR/G were out of control in 2019 (1.38) but receded a bit in 2021 (1.22). That decline has continued this year (currently at 1.08), though no one is really talking about it. (As we told you previously, once MLB's aggregate batting average upticked above .240, any and all misgivings about offense/offensive levels get put into the media's version of a humidor.)

The data here is still rather astounding, still showing some highly dramatic changes in HR/G (though not so much with OPS...where convergence is really to be expected). Just look at how the changes at Camden Yards have affected offense--homers cut in half, overall offense down close to 20%.

Then again, it's good to return to baseball's version of normality and have Coors Field be the game's top dog for overall offense. HR/G and OPS are both up in Denver this year.

Other teams with dramatic downturns in their home parks: the A's and the renamed Guardians, both with a downturn in HR/G in excess of 40%. (In the case of the A's, of course, much of it could be due to the fire sale that cost them the middle of their batting order this season. In other words, they may be responsible for the lion's share of the decline.)

All in all, 23 of the 30 parks are producing fewer HR/G in 2022 than they did in 2021. Only six parks are producing more offense (as measured by OPS): T-Mobile in Seattle, Rogers Centre in Toronto, Coors, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, American Family Field in Milwaukee, and the poetically named loanDepot Park in Miami.

And, of course, the Pirates, an ever-perverse franchise, is currently showing the oddest result of all--the greatest percentage increase in HR/G coupled with a loss of overall offense. 

We'll take another look at season's end...

Friday, July 8, 2022


Sandy Koufax' commentary on his third-to-last start in 1962 before being sidelined by his finger injury, as published in his autobiography, provides us with a window into the events that transpired on Sunday, July 8, 1962, in a pivotal game between the Dodgers and Giants: 

By the time I was warming up in San Francisco the finger had turned reddish and was beginning to feel sore and tender. When I pressed my finger against the ball in throwing the curve, it was as if a knife were cutting into it. If I didn't rest the finger against the ball, I had no feel on the curve ball.

Alvin Dark noticed that I kept looking down at the finger while I was warming up. Once the game began, it took him about two innings that I was throwing nothing but fast balls. 

I had a good fast ball, though, and I was putting it where I wanted. I actually had a no-hitter until the seventh inning, when a ground ball caromed off the second baseman's arm. Until Bob Nieman singled to open the ninth, the official scorer was getting some very dirty looks from the Los Angeles writers.

By the ninth inning my hand had gone numb through the webbing between the thumb and the finger. With a two-ball count on Mays, I had to come out of the game. Don Drysdale came in and got the final two outs.

There are some inaccuracies/omissions in this account: Jim Davenport's questionable infield hit in the seventh was followed later in the inning by a clean single to center by Orlando Cepeda; with men on first and third, Koufax fanned Felipe Alou to end the Giants' threat.

And the Giants' rally in the bottom of the ninth, when they were down just 2-0, kept the game in great suspense until the final batter. Koufax gave up the hit to Nieman, followed by a ten-pitch duel with Harvey Kuenn that ended with a called third strike on a 3-2 count (his ninth strikeout)

Sandy then went 3-2 on Jim Davenport before walking him (his second walk), putting men on first and second and bringing Willie Mays up as the potential winning run for the Giants. It was at this point that Koufax lost feeling in his hand, throwing pitches that were noticeably out of the strike zone. Drysdale, pitching on two days rest, was brought in and was given time to warm up before continuing with Mays, but his first two pitches were wide, completing a walk that was charged to Koufax.

The bases were now loaded with one out, and Mays now represented the winning run on at first base. (At this point the Dodgers may have been rueing the fact that they'd banged out twelve hits but had only two runs to show for it--in part because they'd hit into three double plays.)

As it turned out, walking Mays may have been the best possible move. Drysdale induced Orlando Cepeda to pop out to catcher Johnny Roseboro in foul territory, and Felipe Alou followed by swinging at the first pitch, hitting a grounder to Maury Wills, who tossed the ball to Larry Burright for a game-ending force at second base. Final score: Dodgers 2, Giants 0.

The pitch anatomization chart (above) reminds us again of the higher pitch counts that were more prevalent in games during this time frame, and shows how much Koufax labored in the final three innings. (It's probably unnecessary to point out that we're looking at a man with an evolving but apparently still-unreported injury that's about to disable him for two months who is throwing in excess of 130 pitches, but it's the kind of thing that has sent many latter-day analysts into conniptions.)

At this point, Koufax is ready to seek medical attention, but the All-Star game intervenes: the NL decides that the Dodgers' request to have Koufax skip the game in order to see a doctor is an attempt to protect their pitching rotation; thus they deny the request. As a result, Sandy will make two more starts while clearly in a compromised health situation.