Friday, September 30, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/155: ONE HUNDRED & SIXTY-TWO IS NOT ENOUGH...

Pitcher's duels were front and center on 9/30/62, the ostensible end of the baseball season that year. Things were wrapped up in the American League: the New York Yankees, after a period of sluggish play (and with less "slugg-ish" heroics from the "M&M boys"--63 homers between them, as opposed to 115 in 1961) had pulled things together once again...and, like everyone else, awaited the outcome of the Giants-Dodgers marathon.

The two Sunday afternoon games would take time to unfold, and would not be decided until the late innings. In San Francisco, Turk Farrell tempted fate and took the ball from Houston Colts' manager Harry Craft despite having already lost 19 times; the hard-luck hurler shrugged, suggesting that "20 is a nice round number no matter which side of the ledger it appears on." 

For the Giants, Billy O'Dell had a shot at winning his 20th. "Whatever happens, happens," he said to reporters before the game. "We just need to win, period."

Ed Bailey, part of the Giants' curious all left-handed catcher platoon, hit his 17th homer off Farrell in the fourth. Roman Mejias, Bob Aspromonte, and Jim Pendleton slapped together three singles off O'Dell to the game in the top of the sixth. 

O'Dell's chance for twenty wins ended when he was pinch-hit for by the other lefty-hitting catcher on the Giants, Tom Haller, with men on first and third and one out in the bottom of the seventh. Haller's fly to short right was too short to score the tie-breaking run, but Colts' right fielder Roman Mejias threw home anyway, allowing Chuck Hiller to scamper from first to second to put two runners in scoring position. But Matty Alou popped out to end the threat.

It was up to Willie Mays to push the Giants into place to lock down their 101st win: he left off the bottom of the eighth with his 47th homer of the year off Farrell, who kicked up some dust on the pitcher's mound as the ball left the park. Stu Miller retired the Colts in order in the ninth, and the entire city of San Francisco awaited the news from down south. Final score: Giants 2, Colts 1.

DOWN in LA, the Dodgers still couldn't hit worth a lick. But their veteran lefty Johnny Podres was matching pitches with the Cardinals' crafty southpaw Curt Simmons in a game that saw goose-eggs register on the scoreboard for seven consecutive innings. 

LA wasn't helping itself much when someone made a hit, either. In the second, Lee Walls ran his team out of an inning when he tried to stretch his bloop hit down the right field line into a double: Charlie James threw him out. In the bottom of the seventh, Tommy Davis was picked off by Simmons to foil another scoring threat. 

And then, in the top of the eighth, Podres left a 1-2 fastball up to catcher Gene Oliver, who launched a laser beam to left field that left the park like a lightning bolt. Though it was only the first run of the game, it somehow seemed definitive: Simmons retired the Dodgers in order in their last two turns at bat, and LA was on its way to SF. Manager Walt Alston wordlessly waved off reporters as the team boarded the bus that took them to the airport. They'd be playing the Giants in a best-of-three playoff series in less than twenty-four hours. Final score: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0.

SEASON RECORDS: SFG 101-61, LAD 101-61

 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/154: THE NOOSE TIGHTENS...

First, a note of correction. The Giants-Colts game reported on in the previous thread was actually part of a day-time doubleheader played in San Francisco on 9/29/62 (Saturday), and not on 9/28/62 as represented in yesterday's post. (The 9/28 game was postponed by rain, which would later become a prominent issue in the World Series.) 

For now we will leave the previous entry alone, using the excuse that both games of this doubleheader were completed before the Dodgers-Cardinals game in LA on 9/29, so that the standings we posted for yesterday were in fact correct after the conclusion of the Giants' 11-5 win over the Colts regardless of what day it was played. 

We pick things up with the second game of the doubleheader between the Giants and Colts, with Juan Marichal facing off against Bob Bruce. Both pitchers were a bit off their game early on: Bruce allowed a home run to Matty Alou, who was riding a late-season hot streak and was now platooning with his older brother. Marichal gave up a run in the top of the first, but his bases-loaded suicide squeeze bunt in the bottom of the second went for a hit and gave the Giants a 2-1 lead.

Norm Larker wiped that out in the top of the third, however, with a two-run homer, and the Colts knocked Marichal out of the game by scoring another run in fifth. Bruce got stronger as the game progressed, allowing just one hit over the final five innings, frustrating the Giants' chances of advancing further in the pennant race. Final score: Colts 4, Giants 2.

The Dodger lead was now set back to 1 1/2 games as they took the field in LA on Saturday evening. Walt Alston decided to go with veterans, moving Tommy Davis to third and putting Duke Snider in left field; he also benched the slumping Ron Fairly and substituted Wally Moon at first. None of it mattered...

...because the Cards' Ernie Broglio tossed a gem, allowing only two hits as he totally stifled LA's offense, striking out nine. Don Drysdale gave up two unearned runs in the second due to Frank Howard's misplay on a Dal Maxvill fly ball; that was all St. Louis was able to manage against him, but on this night that was enough to prevent the Dodgers from clinching the pennant. LA went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position (RISP). Howard, with a chance to redeem himself in the bottom of the ninth, batting as the potential tying run, hit Broglio's first pitch into a game-ending double play. Final score: Cardinals 2, Dodgers 0.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 101-60, SFG 100-61

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/153: THE FINAL WEEKEND MAELSTROM COMMENCES...

The Cardinals and Colts changed places on 9/28/62 for the final three games of the season. One of these teams would have an outsized effect on the ultimate shape of the pennant race...

...and that team was not the Houston Colts, who fell apart in the first two innings on Friday the 28th after giving Giants fans a scare by scoring two runs in the top of the first against SF's erstwhile ace Jack Sanford. The Giants scored five runs off Ken Johnson in the bottom of the inning, and added four more in the second (capped by Tom Haller's three-run homer off knuckleballer Bobby Tiefenauer).

Sanford, the beneficiary of 6.5 runs of offensive support at Candlestick, bobbed and weaved all night, and had to be bailed out in the sixth inning, but he'd gone far enough to complete his second dozen carton of eggs with "W's" painted on them. (The win also raised his home record to 14-1, which is what 6.5 runs of offensive support can do for you.) Stu Miller had an uneventful 3 1/3 innings of relief, and the Giants were home free. Final score: Giants 11, Colts 5.

DOWN in LA, Walt Alston made his decision the night before about who'd pitch the opening game of what was now fast becoming a fateful series. And how did he do that? By using Stan Williams in the final inning of the team's 8-6 loss to the Colts. (When he did that, Williams might've just started to pack his bags, as this action did more than merely suggest that Alston had lost all confidence in him--it shouted it from the rooftops. Williams was traded in the off-season to the New York Yankees for Bill Skowron.)

Rookie lefty Pete Richert got the start, with Alston making whiplash motions in the dugout from the very first inning as he practiced his quick hook. The game first displayed as low-scoring and tight, however, with the Dodgers striking first for an unearned run in the bottom of the first, with St. Louis parrying with a tying run in the second (and bailing the Dodgers out of more potential trouble when catcher Gene Oliver tried to take third on Dal Maxvill's RBI single to left and was thrown out).

In the top of the fourth, Richert gave up two singles after retiring the first batter. Alston was unable to wait any longer; despite the fact that his bullpen had been primarily responsible for losing the game just the night before, he brought in Ed Roebuck, who walked the bases loaded before pitching out of the jam (aided by facing the bottom of the batting order.) But in the fifth, Roebuck surrendered a run when Stan Musial brought home Julian Javier with an RBI single, after Javier had singled and been sacrificed to second by Curt Flood

Larry Sherry replaced Roebuck in the sixth and pitched out of jams in that inning and the seventh as well; in the bottom of the inning Alston used his two veteran lefty hitters, Duke Snider and Wally Moon, as part of a desperate effort to take advantage of Cardinal starter Larry Jackson's momentary loss of home plate. Maury Wills, still riding a hot bat in September, singled in the tying run amid the shouts of "brand new ball game!" from Dodger fans. But Jim Gilliam grounded out to end the rally.

Ron Perranoski entered the game in the eighth, and mowed down the Cards for two innings--matched by Larry Jackson. It was the tenth inning that proved to be fateful. Flood and Musial opened the inning with singles, setting up runners at first and third with no outs. Ken Boyer then smacked a grounder to third, with Flood breaking for the plate on contact. Dodger third baseman Andy Carey's throw home was true, and Flood was out, with runners now at first and second.

That brought up Bill White, who grounded to first; Ron Fairly went for the double play, but White beat the relay back to first, putting runners on first and third with two out. With an 0-2 count on Charlie James, White took off for second; Johnny Roseboro held the ball, ensuring that pinch-runner Bobby Gene Smith could not try to steal the go-ahead run. James then hit the 1-2 pitch into right field for a single, scoring Smith--but White was thrown out at home on a strong throw from Frank Howard.

But LA was now down a run, and were down to their last at-bats. Wills tried to bunt on the 0-1 pitch and popped it up; Larry Jackson--still in the game--caught it for the first out. Jim Gilliam then hit Jackson's first pitch into right field for a single. The slumping Willie Davis, put back in the #3 slot against the righthander, had his fifth at-bat of the game and swung at the first pitch for the fourth time, smacking a grounder to first baseman White; the man called 3-Dog did not dog it down the baseline, and beat the relay throw on the attempted 363 double play to keep LA's flickering hopes alive.

Tommy Davis. leading the league in BA and RBI, quickly fell behind Jackson 0-2, took a stroll around home plate, got back in the box--and hit the next pitch on one hop to Boyer at third...who threw him out. Final score: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (ten innings). The Dodgers' lead was back down to one game.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 101-59, SFG 100-60

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/152: SAVAGED BY THE SIXTH, GORED BY THE SEVENTH...

Only three games were played in MLB on Thursday 9/27/62; two of them were central to the still-unresolved NL pennant race.

Billy O'Dell and the Giants made it clear that they were not going to gain any ground on the Dodgers very early in their game against the St. Louis Cardinals: by the time SF batted in the bottom of the fifth, they trailed 7-0. Cards manager Johnny Keane decided to start Stan Musial against the lefty O'Dell, and Stan the Man responded with three straight singles, two of them in scoring innings. (Musial wound up 5-for-5 for the night.)

Don Larsen served up a game-crushing three-run homer to catcher Gene Oliver when he came into relieve O'Dell. If he'd retired Oliver instead, the Giants would have tied up the game in the eighth when Ed Bailey hit a three-run homer of his own. But as it turned out, it just got them close--they did get the tying run to the plate in the inning, but little Bobby Shantz got Felipe Alou to ground out to short to end the inning--and the Giants' chances. Final score: Cardinals 7, Giants 4.

DOWN in LA, it looked as though Sandy Koufax had gotten things together in his second start since returning from the contretemps with his finger--he mowed down the Houston Colts for three inning, fanning four. In the bottom of the third, Frank Howard's two-run double capped a three-run Dodger outburst that had Dodger fans cheering and singing as the ongoing action in the Giants-Cards game was transmitted to them. A win by LA coupled with a Giant loss would clinch a tie for the pennant with three games to go.

But baseball is a game where the momentum can shift suddenly and drastically. Koufax held his 3-0 lead in the fourth, despite giving up his first hit (to the colorfully named yet totally forgotten Al Heist). In the fifth, however, after he'd walked the pesky Bob Aspromonte, his first pitch to Roman Mejias was too fat--and the Colts' HR leader smacked his 24th of the year to get Houston within one run.

LA scored in the bottom of the inning, knocking out ex-Dodger Jim Golden, but Frank Howard hit into an inning-ending double play with men on first and third. But no worries yet...it was 4-2 and Koufax looked pretty strong.

But Walt Alston decided that Sandy had thrown enough for the night (73 pitches) and decided to trust the game to his bullpen. And all three of his top relievers would fail him in this game.

Ed Roebuck took over in the sixth. He walked Johnny Temple, then got Al Spangler to foul out. On his first pitch to ex-Dodger Norm Larker, Temple stole a page from the Dodger playbook at stole second. This seemed to unnerve Roebuck, who left his slider over the plate on a 2-2 to Larker, who tripled off the top of the right-center field wall, scoring Temple. With the tying run now at third and the Dodger infield drawn in, Roebuck pitched carefully to Dodger nemesis Bob Aspromonte, who uncharacteristically lunged at a 2-0 pitch and grounded to second. Larker stayed put, and Jim Gilliam tossed to first for the second out. 

But then it was Mejias again. With Alston's penchant for the free pass, one would've thought he'd bypass the Colts' most dangerous hitter. But he didn't--and on a 1-0 pitch, Roman lined a single to center, knotting the game at 4-4. 

Alston replaced Roebuck with Larry Sherry, who had evidenced some difficulties with the first batter he faced in a game (.280 BA, .775 OPS). And, disastrously for the Dodgers, that pattern continued: catcher Hal Smith singled to left, sending Mejias (running on the 1-2 pitch) to third. Then the flyweight-hitting SS J.C. Hartman sliced Sherry's fat 2-2 slider down the left field lone for a two-run double. Dodger fans were shocked into silence as the Colts took a 6-4 lead.

The Dodgers rallied against Brunet in the bottom of the sixth, putting the first two men on. Tall (6'4") righty Jim Umbricht came in, and was sabotaged by second baseman Temple, whose throw was wild, loading the bases. LA would get the tying runs home, but via slow grounders. Umbricht would get tougher in the later innings, however...

And in the seventh, Alston (who batted for Sherry in the previous inning) brought in Ron Perranoski, who also had shown some issues with first batters. And--sure enough--Carl Warwick singled. Then Temple hit a slow roller to third baseman Daryl Spencer, just brought into the game for defensive purposes. Spencer's throw pulled Ron Fairly off the bag at first, putting two men on with no one.

Then Al Spangler's sacrifice bunt turned into a nightmare of perfection, dribbling up the third base line slowly enough that Perranoski had to eat the ball. All of a sudden, the Colts had the bases loaded.

But not for long. Alston decided to set the infield at double play depth. Perranoski got a grounder from Norm Larker, but it was hit too slow to turn two. Warwick scored, and Temple moved to third. The Dodgers tried for the DP again, and Bob Aspromonte hit one toward the hole at short that Wills backhanded, but his momentum carried him away from second and he had to windmill a throw to first for the second out...but Temple scored.

And Umbricht then proceeded to strand two Dodger runners in the bottom of the seventh, retired LA in order in the eighth, and got Ron Fairly (in a terrible hitting slump that would continue into the weekend series with the Cardinals) to pop up with two out and a man on in the ninth. The Dodgers, who'd specialized in heroic relief appearances, were undone by Umbricht's four scoreless innings--a most unwelcome display of heroism. Final score: Colts 8, Dodgers 6.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 101-58, SFG 99-60

Monday, September 26, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/151: IT HAPPENED FOR THE LAST TIME (IN 1962, ANYWAY...)

And what was it that happened for the last time (in 1962, anyway)?

It was the 54th and last time that the Giants and Dodgers both won on the same day.

In San Francisco, Billy Pierce continued to walk on water when pitching at Candlestick Park (in 1962, anyway). Bolstered by big batting support from his batterymate Tom Haller (4 RBI, HR #18) and Orlando Cepeda (HR #33), Pierce improved his season record at the "House of Wind" to 11-0 by fending off the Cardinals for seven innings. A three-run pinch-hit homer from Stan Musial spoiled Billy's shutout, but Don Larsen relieved him and closed things out to lock down the Giants' 99th win of the season. Final score: Giants 6, Cardinals 3.

Down in LA, the Dodgers feasted on the back end of the Houston Colts' starting rotation, amassing 17 hits, including Frank Howard's 31st homer of the year. "Hondo" drove in five runs, pushing that season total to 115, just 33 behind teammate Tommy Davis, who pushed his seasonal BA up to .346 with three hits. 

In the midst of all this, Maury Wills became the first man to steal 100 bases in a season when he and Tommy Davis engineered a double steal in the third inning.

Johnny Podres scattered eight hits over seven innings to win his 14th game, and for reasons known only to those who interpret and codify the slippery save rule, Larry Sherry earned his eleventh save of the year despite entering the game in the ninth inning with a twelve-run lead. Final score: Dodgers 13, Colts 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 101-57, SFG 99-59

Sunday, September 25, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/150: DESPERATION RESURFACES IN DODGERTOWN

On 9/25/62 (a Tuesday) Walt Alston pushed the panic button. He sent Don Drysdale back to the mound to start against the Houston Colts on one day of rest. (Drysdale had lasted only 3 1/3 innings on Sunday in St. Louis.)

Big D had volunteered for it, and Alston must have felt he had little choice. He'd used Stan Williams and Sandy Koufax in relief in St. Louis, and he was naturally loath to hand over a now-crucial game to a mop-up man (Phil Ortega) or a farmhand (Jack Smith).

The Colts were, of course, a first-year expansion team, but they did have good pitching. Ex-Dodger Turk Farrell was going to lose 20 game, but much of that was due to terrible run support. And he was Drysdale's mound opponent that night in LA.

Maury Wills' 35th error allowed the Colts to score an unearned run in the first, and the game then quickly settled into a pitchers' duel. It was still 1-0 Colts in the bottom of the sixth when Wills bunted his way on, stole second, was sacrificed to third--and then stole home to tie the game. (Those SBs were #98 and #99 on the year.)

But the Colts' good-field, no-hit SS J.C. Hartman got his bunt past Drysdale's outstretched glove to lead off the seventh and reached base--which led to Big D's lone pitching mistake of the evening, a fat first pitch to Al Spangler, who hit it off the right-center field wall for a triple, scoring Hartman.

The Dodgers scratched back for a run in the bottom of the inning when Tommy Davis scored on a sacrifice fly by Johnny Roseboro. Duke Snider batted for Drysdale with a chance to give the Dodgers the lead; he hit a ball solidly to right, but the night air in LA cut it down and it was caught on the warning track.

LA has scoring threats in the eighth and ninth, but couldn't cash in against Farrell. In the tenth, Ed Roebuck replaced Ron Perranoski, and he got a 1-2 pitch up in the zone to Spangler just as Drysdale had done earlier--and Al hit it into the fourth row of the right field bleachers. The Dodgers got a man on in the bottom of the inning with two out, but Tommy Davis got under Farrell's 2-1 pitch and his bid for a walkoff homer to left fell short. Final score: Colts 3, Dodgers 2 (ten innings).

UP in SF, Jack Sanford hung tough, and the Giants broke through for four hits and two runs in the sixth, adding single runs in the seventh and eighth to hold off the pesky Cardinals. Bill White hit a ninth inning homer (#20) against Sanford, but it was too little, too late as Jack coasted to his 23rd win, closing the gap between the Giants and Dodgers to just two games. Final score: Giants 4, Cardinals 2.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 100-57, SFG 98-59

Saturday, September 24, 2022

SIZZLING UP THE SECOND HALF/1: 1901-1909

As Aaron Judge burns on toward what looks like a new American League record for HRs, the various segments of the "embedded media" are focusing on what a tremendous season the giant Yankee slugger is having. It's a testament to the ongoing problems in the game that folks are assiduously attempting to make Judge's greatest achievement since Ted Williams...which is not quite true. 

The usually reliable (if sometimes breathlessly overblown) Jayson Stark pushed that approach to a premature extreme today when he posted a hypothetical about Judge achieving 400 total bases (he's still 23 shy of that mark, though he certainly has a reasonable shot at making it). It wasn't the part about 400 TB that was problematic; it was the idea that Judge is the most dominant hitter ever because he's so far ahead of everyone else (he leads in TB by over 80).

Now it's definitely a startling number, but what all that's really about is that the AL has lost a significant amount of  HR/G punch in 2022 while Judge is having a career year (make that a "career half-year"--we don't want to bury our lede TOO much). This TB dominance thing is clearly a total fluke, due to the fact that the two hitters dimly in the brakelights of Judge's HR pace in the AL, Mike Trout and Yordan Alvarez, both missed significant amounts of playing time this year. Of course you're going to have a big lead in TB when you also have 150-225 more plate appearances than the two men next in line on the HR leaders list! 

Where Judge's historic performance really coalesces into all-time greatness is in that statistical sub-category we just mentioned above: the "second half of the season." We're using the still highly reliable adjusted OPS stat (abbreviated OPS+), which has the benefit of ballpark and historical run level adjustment built into it. 

What OPS+ tells us is that Judge's second half OPS+ in 2022 is sixth highest in baseball history. It grades out at 274, behind only two Ted Williams second halves (#1, in 1957: 306, and #3, in 1941: 292), one Babe Ruth second half (#2, in 1920: 297) and two Barry Bonds second halves (#4 and #5, 2001 and 2002, both 280). So despite some hyperventilation on the part of Stark and others, Judge is indeed making baseball history in a big, big way (which, considering he's 6'7", 282 lbs, only makes sense). 

As we noted a short while ago (in our most recent non-1962 post), baseball, its fans, and its media are still hung up on homers. While they're clearly a big deal, OPS+ is agnostic about HRs to a surprising extent--or at least it could be before they became so insanely dominant.

That's why it's instructive to look at the top 300 second-half performances according to OPS+...so that we can see how many different ways there used to be to climb the mountaintop. The best way to do so is to take everyone back to the dawn of the twentieth century and catalogue the top OPS+ second half performances along with the actual counting stats and regular old rate stats (BA, OBP, SLG) so you can see what old-style greatness looked like. (Chances are you haven't seen it in a long, LONG time.)

A couple of contextual notations before we do that, however. First, the OPS+ value for the 300th top second-half performance is 187, featuring various combinations of counting stats and rate stats for six different players ranging from Willie Mays in 1959 to Derek Lee in 2009. Second, there are 161 second-half hitting performances that grade out at a 200 OPS+ or higher. Third, and finally, we had two terrific second-half hitting performances last year, though it's doubtful that you'll be able to name either. They are Bryce Harper (219 OPS+, 55th all-time) and Juan Soto (216 OPS+, 70th all-time).

OK, let's meet the great second-half hitters in the first decade of the twentieth century (which was also the first decade of the Deadball Era), which explains why the raw OPS values, as opposed to the adjusted OPS+, seem so low to us now.


Although...Nap Lajoie's absolutely monster second half in 1901 (the year he hit .426 overall) certainly seems as rip-roaring as what you might be expecting from sluggers with 25+ homers in the second half. (Lajoie's total of 9 second-half homers is the highest of anyone from 1901-09 who's part of the Top 300. It's good for #23 on the all-time list. 

You will naturally know Honus Wagner, who had 82 RBI in his 68 second-half games in 1901, which is the record for the decade despite the fact that his second-half performance only grades out to #261. Fear not, he'll return to these charts, and much closer to the top.

Jimmy Sheckard is a name that some of you may not recall; he was a very solid lefty hitter who was one of the mainstays on that incredibly dominant Cubs teams from 1906-1910. On to 1902-03, which are combined, with players listed in descending order of their OPS+ rank.


As you'll see, Sheckard returns to the list in 1904, this time with a very fine OBP of .470 leading the way. He's only 128th overall, however, eclipsed by the second half turned in by "Turkey" Mike Donlin, who hit .419 in the second half of 1903, with a 227 OPS+, which ranks 34th all time.

We get an all-too-brief look at Ed Delahanty, who'd fall off the list in 1903 when he tragically fell off a bridge; and we meet the mystery man Topsy Hartsel, who just makes our 200 PA eligibility requirement. Hartsel was a solid hitter who generally walked a lot; in this season swatch, however, he hits like crazy as well. We move on to 1904-05:


Here we have two more Wagner second halves, one ranking 98th all time (209 OPS+). Note that in that season, he only drives in 25 runs during this half-slice, as opposed to the 82 he had in 1901.

We also see Lajoie and Donlin again, though in somewhat more subdued terms ("only" a 202 OPS+ for Nap, and 198 for Mike).

The big find in 1904-05 is the second half turned in by Cy Seymour in 1905. We are full-tilt in the deadball era now, and here's Cy hitting .399. His 233 OPS+ places him twenty-second on the all-time list. Think fast, here comes 1906-08:


And here are two monster second halves from Honus Wagner, virtually indistinguishable from one another. While the raw numbers might seem a bit anemic, recall that 1907-08 is one of the extreme troughs for offense in baseball history. The OPS+ values (238 and 234) tell it all, placing Wagner in #19 and #21 place on the list. Now--last but not least...1909:


Here's our first Ty Cobb sighting--and it's a big one. The Georgia Peach hits .419, with 67 RBI in 74 games. His second-half totals in 1909 make Wagner and Eddie Collins' stalwart achievements seem anemic by comparison. His OPS+ for "1909 part deux" is 242.

We'll return after our 1962 coverage concludes with a look at the 1910s (and beyond). You may be surprised to discover that Babe Ruth's second half in 1919 ranks 18th all time (he'd top that, of course, in 1920). But you probably won't be surprised to find out that Ty Cobb has eight second-half performances during 1919-19 that crack the Top 300, including two in the Top 40. There are six half-season performances in the 1910s where the hitter's BA is. 400 plus, achieved by three players--two of whom are Cobb and Joe Jackson. The third? You'll just have to tune in to find out...

Friday, September 23, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/149: BIG D GOES BELLY-UP; MATTY & MAC MASH IN HOUSTON

In St, Louis on 9/23/62, the Dodgers were optimistic after scoring two runs in the top of the first.

Alas, it was not Don Drysdale's night. The Dodger ace gave up three runs in the bottom of the first, another run in the third (Bill White's double in the first, and single in the third being key blows), and fell apart completely in the fourth. Ron Perranoski did not clean things up very well in that inning, allowing all three inherited runners to score. When the fifth inning lurched into being, LA found itself trailing 8-2.

Perranoski got slapped around some more in the fifth before the lesser lights took over--with one exception. In the seventh, trailing 11-2, Walt Alston let Sandy Koufax mop up in order to give him more mound time. Sandy was still wild in the seventh, walking the first two guys and giving up a run when Curt Flood singled, but he was a little sharper in the eighth. Larry Jackson scattered twelve hits in going the distance for the Cards; Drysdale's record fell to 25-8. Final score: Cardinals 12, Dodgers 2.

Oh, yes--in a significant anti-climax, Maury Wills stole two bases, bringing his season total to 97 and breaking Ty Cobb's record. 

IN Houston, the Giants took an early lead behind solid pitching from Billy O'Dell, then broke the game open with seven runs in the sixth, capped by Willie McCovey's three-run homer. Matty Alou, getting some playing time in left with Harvey Kuenn moving to third to spell the slumping Jim Davenport, batted third and hit like he belonged there, slapping three singles and a double, driving in three runs. O'Dell tired in the ninth, but he had plenty of cushion and Dark was able to avoid making a call to the bullpen. Final score: Giants 10, Colts 3.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 100-56, SF 97-59

Thursday, September 22, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/148: A BRIEF RESPITE BEFORE THE DELUGE...

Events on 9/22/62 seemed to indicate that the Dodgers would be able to coast into the World Series. Their opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals, amassed twelve hits off Johnny Podres and Larry Sherry, but they went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position (you know...RISP!) and those missed opportunities cost them.

Tommy Davis hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning (#26), upping his RBI total to 146; the Dodgers scored four in that inning. They then were stymied by little Bobby Shantz for four scoreless innings of relief (what we like to call "heroic") but that lone offensive outburst was sufficient for them to post their 100th victory of the '62 campaign. (They would struggle mightily--and woefully--as they tried to win #101.) Final score: Dodgers 4, Cardinals 1. 

IN Houston, Juan Marichal finally returned, and the Giants were galvanized early, taking a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning. But Juan tired suddenly, loading the bases full of Colts with no one out. Bobby Bolin seemed to have stemmed the tide by inducing a double play ball off the bat of ex-Dodger Norm Larker, but Roman Mejias. Bob Aspromonte, and Merritt Ranew (another colorful character who would later figure in Jim Bouton's Ball Four) would all slap singles, bringing in the tying runs.

Willie Mays hit his 46th homer in the eighth to put SF back on top, 5-4, but Stu Miller faltered in the ninth, leaving the game with two men on and one out. Al Dark switched gears and used his starters in an attempt to close out the game, but Billy Pierce hit Jim Pendleton to load the bases. Dark then brought in Jack Sanford to face the Colts' top slugger Roman Mejias, but Houston's right fielder hit a 2-1 pitch into center field for the turnaround walkoff hit. (If the Giants had held onto this one, they'd have won the pennant outright on the final day of the season...but 'twas not to be.) Final score: Colts 6, Giants 5.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 100-55, SFG 96-59

[records the rest of the way: LAD 2-8, SFG 7-3]

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/147: SANDY, WE HARDLY KNEW YE...

On 9/21/62 the Giants were in Houston and they were still a day away from getting Juan Marichal back in their starting rotation. So Al Dark pinned the tail on "Young Gaylord" (Gaylord Perry) on a surprisingly cool evening in south Texas (74 degrees at game time) and began singing the as-yet unwritten tune "I Say A Little Prayer For You"...

...which was overheard by a fellow named Bacharach, who was visiting friends in Houston at the time, and--

--OK, OK, not true. Forgive us, please: it's been a long season...

Actually, Dark prayed for a bunch of runs (what manager wouldn't?). And, on this evening, he got 'em. Colts starter George Brunet opened up the first by surrendering four straight singles (Harvey Kuenn-Chuck Hiller-Felipe Alou-Willie Mays). He was quickly removed by Harry Craft, the Colts' long-suffering manager. 

Brunet (whose career would get more notorious as the sixties continued, eventually exposed as a man who preferred to go without underwear*) actually got credit for a third of an inning, because Colts right fielder Roman Mejias threw wildly to third trying to throw out Hiller, who scored as the ball bounced wildly in foul territory; Alou tried to make it to third, though, and was thrown out.

Dick Drott, former Cub phenom, replaced Brunet and had better success for awhile, but melted down in the third inning, giving up four straight singles of his own. Before the dust had settled, Drott was in the showers with Brunet and Bobby Tiefenauer was on the mound. The Giants scored six times in the third, and "Young Gaylord" coasted his way through the game, giving up hits, bending but not breaking. The Colts made some noise in the ninth, but it was only enough to get Dark to pull Perry and have Stu Miller get the last out. Final score: Giants 11, Colts 5. 

IN St. Louis, all eyes were on Sandy Koufax as he made his first start since recuperating from his mysterious, alluring but dangerous finger injury. What they saw wasn't pretty: Koufax was wild, throwing four straight balls to Julian Javier, then walking Curt Flood on a 3-2 pitch that legitimately could have gone either way.

Sandy regrouped by striking out Stan Musial and getting Ken Boyer to hit a high pitch on 2-and-1 to left for the second out, but then he lost the strike zone with Bill White, walking him on four pitches to load the bases. 

Up came Charlie James, a not-very-selective right-handed hitter who'd been having early success against lefty pitching. Sandy fell behind 2-0, then James held up on a pitch that was called a strike by home plate umpire Tony Venzon. He fouled of the next pitch to take the count to 2-and-2, then fouled off two more Koufax fastballs.

The seventh pitch was shoulder-high and off the outside corner, but James leaned into it and hit it in the air to right, where it sailed high in the air--and carried just enough to get it over the short right field wall at Busch Stadium. Grand slam; 4-0 Cardinals.

Sandy then walked catcher Gene Oliver on four pitches, and Walt Alston came and got him. Ed Roebuck then pitched 4 1/3 innings of "heroic relief" that kept the Dodgers in the game, at least until the sixth. When the Cards came up in the bottom of the inning, their lead was just 4-2. 

But Stan Williams (originally scheduled to start the game) and Ron Perranoski were both unable to get an out while they were on the mound during that inning--eight straight Cardinals reached based against them, and seven scored. Dodger pitchers allowed 10 walks and 10 hits in the game, and did it without breaking a sweat. It was the beginning of a scorched-earth interaction with the mercurial Cardinals that would involved losing five of six games to them during the final ten days of the regular season. Final score: Cardinals 11, Dodgers 2.

As Koufax wrote in his autobiography: "We were three games ahead of the Giants after having played 154 games. But this was the first expansion year, with a schedule that consisted of 162 games. Those eight extra games killed us."

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 99-55, SFG 96-58

*according to the eyewitness testimony of Jim Bouton in Ball Four...

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/146: DICK LeMAY BALKS OFF THE ISLAND...

Lefty Dick LeMay had pitched creditably for the Giants in 1961, coming up in mid-season and creating a scrapbook memory for himself by throwing a complete game to beat Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals.

But he was the odd man out in '62 when the Giants acquired Billy Pierce, and found himself in the minors when rosters were cut down to 25 men. He returned briefly in mid-June, but pitched poorly and was quickly sent back to AAA. 

He returned in September and pitched well in a mop-up role vs. the Pirates on 9/17 (the "Bury Me Elmo" game). On 9/20, the Giants found themselves in a tight game against the Cardinals, trying to hang on to a 4-3 lead that Bobby Bolin had just barely preserved in the bottom of the seventh, when Fred Whitfield sent Willie Mays to the center-field wall in Busch Stadium to haul in his long two-out blast with the bases loaded.

In the eighth, Bolin allowed a baserunner, and Cards manager Johnny Keane sent lefty masher Carl Sawatski to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Dark countered by bringing in lefty LeMay, prompting Keane to switch to a lesser hitter with the platoon advantage (Charlie James, who'll make a much bigger splash in tomorrow's entry). James hit the ball hard to center, but Mays snagged it in right-center. LeMay then induced Julian Javier to ground out to strand Gary Kolb (the potential tying run) at third base.

The Giants failed to score in the top of the ninth, and Dark decided to stick with LeMay instead of going to his inconsistent relief ace Stu Miller. First up for the Cards in the bottom of the ninth was Curt Flood, who slapped a 1-0 pitch into left for a single. Next up: Stan Musial. LeMay fell behind 2-and-0, then landed two screwballs to move the count to 2-2. He then tried to throw a fastball by Musial, but Stan was ready for it and lined a single to right, moving Flood to third.

Dark left LeMay in to face Bill White (platoon advantage still intact). But Dick picked the moment after he'd gotten ahead of White 0-1 to break his hands improperly when stepping off the rubber in an attempt to confuse pinch-runner Mike Shannon.

The balk allowed Flood to score the tying run and moved Shannon to second. Dark came to the mound immediately and removed LeMay. Don Larsen replaced him, and issued an intentional walk to White to create a force play at any base. But Ken Boyer, whose throwing error in the sixth had allowed the Giants to score two unearned runs, slapped Larsen's first pitch into left field for a game-winning single. Final score: Cardinals 5, Giants 4.

LeMay made one more appearance for the Giants in '62, when Dark had run out of pitchers during the second playoff game. He walked the only man he faced, and over the off-season, the Giants decided they wanted Joey Amalfitano back so that they could platoon him at second base with Chuck Hiller. They sent LeMay and a spare outfielder to Houston for him. That spare outfielder? Manny Mota

Dick LeMay would bounce to the Cubs, where he'd be ineffective in '63 and would return to the minors, winding up in the Cardinals' system, pitching well for six years at the AAA level but never getting another shot in the big leagues. 

THE Dodgers had an off-day on 9/20, traveling from Milwaukee to St. Louis, but they made some big news when it was announced that Sandy Koufax would start his first game since being sidelined by his finger injury the next night at Busch Stadium.

Monday, September 19, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/145: GIANTS REGROUP...DODGERS TREAD WATER BEFORE THE FLOOD

On 9/18/62, the Dodgers' Johnny Podres was (temporarily) let off the hook when Tommy Davis hit a two-run homer off the Milwaukee Braves' lefty Denny Lemaster in the sixth inning to tie the game at 4-4. 

He then proceeded to walk Frank Bolling, the first batter he faced in the bottom of the sixth. And was summarily removed from the game by Walt Alston.

It was an escalating pattern of quick hooks by the Dodger manager, who had become increasingly reliant on three mainstays in his bullpen (Ed Roebuck, Ron Perranoski, Larry Sherry) to ride shotgun on the erratic starters behind Don Drysdale in the LA rotation.

On this night, the quick hook caused the Dodgers to walk the plank. Roebuck quickly poured gasoline on the modest threat he inherited. After striking out Joe Torre, he allowed a triple to future Dodger Lou Johnson (then at the bottom end of the Braves' depth chart in the outfield), walked pinch-hitter Lee Maye, and surrendered a second run when Doug Camilli decided to make a throw to second when Maye ran on a 3-2 pitch to Roy McMillan. McMillan struck out, but Camilli's throw sailed into center field, and Johnson trotted home from third to make it 6-4 Braves.

Ron Perranoski replaced Roebuck in the seventh and gave up another run, escaping further damage when Johnson lined into an inning-ending double play. Minor league scrum Jack Smith completed the Dodgers' shabby relief work in the eighth by allowing three more runs, including a two-run double to the "lesser Aaron," Hank's brother Tommie, who had a career night (3-for-4, 3 RBI). Hank had hit his 40th homer earlier in the game off Podres, who was saddled with the loss thanks to that ill-timed walk to Bolling. Final score: Braves 10, Dodgers 5.

On the next night (9/19), Don Drysdale won his 25th game by shutting out the Braves on five hits, striking out nine. Frank Howard hit his 30th home run; Tommy Davis drove in two more runs, bringing his season total to 143. (He would hit .462 from this point to the end of the 162-game season, but the rest of the Dodger hitters would decay around him and LA would lose five games by a margin of 1-2 runs down the stretch to wind up in a tie and be forced into that fateful playoff series.) Final score: Dodgers 4, Braves 0.

AFTER a day off for travel, Willie Mays was feeling much better when the Giants took the field in St. Louis. He and Tom Haller revived the SF long-ball attack, knocking out Larry Jackson in the third inning with a five runs, fueled mostly by Mays' three-run shot, his 45th of the year. Haller went Mays one better on this night, homering off Jackson in consecutive innings. Billy O'Dell (18-13) survived a rocky first inning (four runs, two on a homer by Ken Boyer) to go the distance, scattering ten hits. The turnaround win was, of course, crucial to the Giants' survival in the pennant race. Final score: Giants 7, Cardinals 4.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 99-54, SFG 95-57

Sunday, September 18, 2022

BASEBALL IN THE 3RD DECADE OF THE 21ST CENTURY: RULES CHANGES ARE NOT ENOUGH

[NOTE: the 1962 series resumes Monday the 19th, when we'll cover the Dodgers' 9/18 and 9/19 games simultaneously. The Giants had 9/18 off, and we interrupt that series for a post about the present...and the future.]

Rules changes have been announced for MLB in 2023. They reflect the hypertrophied conservatism that continues to plague baseball, ensuring that the game remains hostage to its own two-dimensionality. 

(Of course, singular events and individuals still radiate within the game. And that insulates the decision-makers from their actions, at least to some extent. But "out of the blue" occurrences--like Aaron Judge closing in on Roger Maris, or Shohei Ohtani settling into two-way success--can only go so far.)

As a result of the rules changes to be implemented next year, the one thing that is almost a certainty is that games will be shorter in length. Wider bases and a severe constriction of defensive shifting, however, are unlikely to have much, if any, impact. 

What matters most, as those of you paying attention this year have seen, is the baseball itself and the ballparks in which the game is played. Something has happened (we do not quite know what) to the baseball this year; it has made some difference in home run rates, but little else. The Orioles surprised everyone by pushing out their fences in left field: the difference in the number of homers hit at Camden Yards in 2022 is 20% of the total downturn in the number of homers hit in the AL this year (as opposed to 2021). That's three times as much as one would expect if the change was uniformly distributed among all fifteen AL teams.

Change. The folks running baseball want the illusion of it, as opposed to seriously embracing it as a way of rekindling and redirecting mass interest in the game. They've hollowed out the game to homers and strikeouts over the first two decades of the twenty-first century, however, and strikeouts can no longer be a positive event because no one can break the "positive" record. It belongs to Nolan Ryan, and he's virtually certain to do so until the earth ceases to exist. It's not quite at the same level of certainty, but no pitcher will ever break the single-game strikeout record, either. 

That leaves home runs. Judge is having a season for the ages, bucking the downward trend this year--but then again they didn't change the fences at Yankee Stadium this year, either. Deciding to leave such events to chance has been baseball's modus operandi ever since they started messing with the baseball (in 1920).

A combination of more radical, innovative rules changes and ballpark alterations undertaken in concert with carefully controlled implementation of those changes is the way that baseball can create and sustain a level of offensive diversity that has always been latent in the game, but never engineered into existence.

ADDED NOTE 9/19: There has been a lot of discussion about how getting rid of the shift will have a huge impact on left-handed pull hitters, helping their batting averages. While some of that may happen to a few players, a comprehensive look at the results for hitting ground balls suggest that it will have limited impact at best. Why do we say this? Because unlike that portion of the media that is mesmerized by Statcast data, we're able (and willing) to look back further than the advent of Statcast to play-by-play data that's been collected for nearly thirty years, and it tells us that there just isn't that much difference in the results for hitting ground balls as some folk seem to believe. 

The table at right shows the breakdown for lefty and righty hitters when they hit the ball on the ground, and it focuses a comparison between the last two years (2021-22) and two years from the heart of the offensive explosion (1996-97). What it tells you is that shifting is not changing the results for left-handed hitters all that much...and for right-handed hitters, there has actually been a modest gain in performance.

A two-part essay written here in November 2020 covered the organizational and structural changes that MLB needs to implement in order to create a dynamic league with a sufficient level of diversity across offense, a scenario that would broaden the strategic underpinnings of the game and add a fascinating, long-overdue layer of aesthetic alteration to it as well.

It involves expansion, restructuring of the leagues, changes in the post-season to create even more possibilities than what the current league structures provide, and it involves some "trick" rules that will continue to trouble (and annoy) certain readers but whose implementation would add color, notoriety, unpredictability, and a long-overdue massive uptick in the number of triples--at least in one of the four leagues that would come into existence.

IF such sounds intriguing, click the links to read the two-part essay:

https://bigbadbaseball.blogspot.com/2020/11/baseball-2024-or-four-leagues-three.html

https://bigbadbaseball.blogspot.com/2020/11/baseball-2024-four-leagues-3-bases-2-of.html

Baseball still has much to offer to those who love it. The starry-eyed approach of a Sarah Langs can produce a sizable amount of eye-rolling in some quarters, but much that is unusual and astonishing still happens and is worth celebrating. That said, imagine what the game could be like if it were organized to permit all of its possibilities, including the ones that have been systematically lost over the years. If more radical, even "trick rules" are needed to accomplish this, these should get discussed and we should get beyond what is mere cosmetics. It's time to really get to work on this...

Saturday, September 17, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/144: SPAHN SINKS THE DODGERS + BURY ME ELMO

On 9/17 (a Monday), for the fifth and final time in 1962, the Dodgers and Giants both lost games on consecutive days. 

(In case that's not clear, it means that they both lost on the same day two days in a row.) 

We covered the generic cases (both winning/losing on the same day) earlier: to refresh your memory, the two teams won on the same day 54 times, lost on the same day 17 times.

In Milwaukee, Pete Richert's wildness caused him to be pulled quickly--in the second inning, after giving up his fourth walk. The two runs he allowed before being removed proved to be just enough for Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, who gave up only a solo homer to Frank Howard (#29) in the seventh. The Dodgers managed only five hits off Spahn, who won his 15th game of the year. Final score: Braves 2, Dodgers 1.

After the game, the Dodgers announced that Sandy Koufax had been activated. Walt Alston did not specify when Koufax would pitch, but when pressed a bit by the media, he gave a slight eye roll and said: "Soon."

In Pittsburgh, Juan Marichal remained on a day-to-day scenario for his return to the mound for the Giants. It turned out that his hamstring was still too tight, so Mike McCormick was given another start.

The Giants' hopes that they'd put an end to their losing streak were dashed early in the game, however, when rookie catcher Elmo Plaskett slugged a three-run homer off McCormick in the bottom of the second. Plaskett, who'd hit .350 in the Carolina League, was an old rookie for the 60s (24 years old) and never materialized as a major leaguer: his homer off McCormick was his lone tater in the big leagues.

McCormick was given the rest of the night off in the third when he gave up another homer--this one to someone who was just a little bit better-known: Roberto Clemente

Tom Sturdivant, who pitched well earlier (9/11/62) against the Giants in Candlestick Park but had lost when Jack Sanford threw a shutout, scattered seven hits and survived a seventh-inning rally to turn in the last complete game victory of his career. Final score: Pirates 5, Giants 2.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 98-53, SFG 94-57

Friday, September 16, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/143: THE DODGER DOWNTURN BEGINS...

It won't start to affect their position in the standings for a little while longer, but the Dodger downturn definitely begins on 9/16/62 (a Sunday, and my mother's 39th birthday).

We won't give it away in the final comparison chart (at right), but LA simply stops hitting during the last two weeks of the season. They'll score just 3.15 runs/game from this point on, but it's worse than that: in two games during the last week of the regular season they'll score 19 runs (and still manage to achieve a split in those games). 

That's right: in 11 of their final games, they averaged two runs a game. That's what's known as an ill-timed team-wide batting slump.

IN what is still (very occasionally) called "God's own sunlight" with reference to Wrigley Field (long since electrifried for night baseball...), the Dodgers ran into an "aging veteran" named Bob Buhl, with whom they'd had a long history. A few members of the team probably remember how the Dodgers' 1956 pennant was nearly snatched away by Buhl's incredible 8-1 record against them that year. Buhl would wind up making 70 starts against the Dodgers in his fourteen-year career, posting a 30-21 won-loss record and an ERA of exactly 3.00 (feel free to add as many zeros as you like).

Nine zeros is what the Dodgers came up with that day, as Buhl blanked them on four hits. Stan Williams woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across his head and came up with a rag arm when he took the mound, giving up five hits and four runs in just a third of an inning. The big damage: rookie outfielder Nelson Mathews' grand-slam homer. 

Everyone pretty much stopped scoring then...of course, the Dodgers--now in their dangerous new mode--never started. Final score: Cubs 5, Dodgers 0.

OVER at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Juan Marichal still wasn't ready to return, so "young Gaylord," back from the minors, got an emergency start. (That's Gaylord Perry, in "incongruous youth" mode.)

He didn't pitch too badly, but the Bucs got an unearned run off him in the third and cuffed him around in the fourth (rookie Bob Bailey, who'd stop hitting as soon as the Giants left town, had another RBI single) to take a 3-1 lead--which became 4-1 when Donn Clendenon knocked home Bill Virdon in the fifth.

Willie Mays, back in the lineup despite still being more than a bit shaky, was 0-for-2 with a walk when he faced Elroy Face in the top of the eighth with two out and two on. Three pitches later, Willie hit his 44th homer of the year to tie the game, 4-4. (We'll defer to Jayson Stark and his network of battle-tested trivia-meisters to tell us how many times a 44th homer resulted in tying a game at 4-4; absent the baseball bloodhounds, we'll venture to say: "not many.")

But Willie's bomb was the only gasp left for SF: his teammates went six up, six down in the ninth and tenth innings, and Stu Miller, pitching into his third inning in the bottom of the tenth, was so intent in not allowing the winning run to score from third(particularly after having wild-pitched Bill Mazeroski there a batter previously) that he left one of his famous change-ups "up" in the zone, where Smoky Burgess could...well, yes: smoke it over the right-field wall. Final score: Pirates 6, Giants 4 (ten innings).

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 98-52, SFG 94-56

Thursday, September 15, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/142: WALK THE PARK, WALK THE PLANK...

Bases on balls were prominent in the pennant-pertinent games of 9/15/62: havoc and destruction are always hovering in the background whenever pitchers issue an outsized number of free passes. On this day the Dodgers survived because "walkitis" infected both teams; the Giants did not, due to the slow drip of an uncharacteristic lack of control from their biggest winner.

LET's begin in Pittsburgh, where the Giants continued to play without Willie Mays. Felipe Alou played center field in Forbes Field in his place; the starting pitcher matchup was formidable: Jack Sanford (22-6) vs. the Pirates' Bob Friend (16-13, but with a better ERA than Sanford).

The game evolved into a typically tense but highly contrasted pitchers' duel: Friend was mowing down the Giants, while Sanford was showing wobbly control and slipping out of jam after jam. In the top of the fourth, Pittsburgh's 19-year-old rookie third baseman Bob Bailey, coming off a monster season at AAA (28 HRs and a .950+ OPS) made a throwing error that permitted the Giants to take a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Sanford's third and fourth walks of the game allowed the Pirates to tie the score, with the Giants escaping further damage when Bill Mazeroski hit into a inning-ending double play.

Sanford "undid" one of his two walks in the mid-innings when he picked off Donn Clendenon to end the sixth, and the game went into the bottom of the eighth still tied. Then two intentional walks ordered by Giants' manager Al Dark helped the Pirates score four runs to break the game open. 

Roberto Clemente had already put Pittsburgh ahead with an RBI double; Dark had Sanford walk Clendenon to face Bailey, who promptly tripled in two runs. Undaunted by the backfire of his strategy, Dark ordered Sanford's eighth walk, bypassing Mazeroski in favor of Friend (the pitcher). Friend the hitter, who'd come into the game hitting .099 and had already doubled off Sanford, then slapped a single to left to score Bailey. The Giants mounted a feeble rally in the top of the ninth that fizzled, and they went down to their fourth straight defeat. Final score: Pirates 5, Giants 1.

IN Chicago, things were wilder still. Don Drysdale and Cal Koonce traded walks in the first; Don would settle down into relatively normal control, but Koonce clustered his free passes in alternating innings, creating a kind of soporific effect on the 16,238 folks watching the game. And, apparently, on the players themselves, who contributed seven errors to the proceedings.

The Dodgers got on the boards first with a walk-aided run in the fourth; an intentional walk issued by Koonce in that inning actually worked when Drysdale made the final out. But LA got sloppy in the bottom of the inning, messing up two consecutive infield plays, allowing the Cubs to take a 2-1 lead. Then Walt Alston got into the act, ordering two intentional walks that put catcher Dick Bertell at the plate with the bases loaded. He promptly hit Drysdale's first pitch into right field for a single, putting the Cubs ahead 4-1.

Koonce walked two more in the fifth, sandwiched around Maury Wills' single (and his 92nd steal), allowing the Dodgers to cut the lead to 4-2, but LA squandered their last chance against Cal in the seventh after he'd walked his seventh and eighth hitters when the middle of the order could not put anything together against reliever Don Cardwell.

That changed in the top of the eighth, however, when Cardwell evidently caught Cal's "St. Vitus' dance" virus. He hit Duke Snider with a pitch, then walked Johnny Roseboro. Wally Moon (and his mono-brow...) came off the bench and worked the count to 3-1; Cardwell came in with one and Wally hit a drive into the ivy in right for a double, tying the score. Morrie Steevens (that's not a typo...) then issued walk #10, and was quickly removed, whereupon Glen Hobbie staved off further disaster by retiring Jim Gilliam and Willie Davis.

But it was just a postponement...in the ninth, the Cubs provided the Dodgers with two chances at a rally in the same inning. Andre Rodgers booted a grounder, allowing Tommy Davis to reach base. Ron Fairly singled, putting men on first and second; but Frank Howard hit into a double play. With Davis now at third and showing some aggressive baserunning moves (no doubt encouraged by Dodger third base coach Leo Durocher...), Hobbie contracted his own "St. Vitus" seizure, hitting Tim Harkness with a pitch and walking Roseboro to load the bases.

Whereupon Alston called for the triple steal. Hobbie, completely flummoxed, threw the ball over the glove of Bertell, where it bounced against the brick fa├žade and eluded the suddenly hapless Cub catcher. This not only allowed Tommy Davis to score, but Tim Harkness came in all the way from second as well. Pinch-hitter Andy Carey then struck out, and followed that up with an error at third to open up the bottom of the ninth, but Ed Roebuck got the next three outs as the Cubs tried (in vain) to put the eleven walks they'd given to LA out of their minds. Final score: Dodgers 6, Cubs 4.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 98-51, SFG 94-55, CIN 93-58

[records the rest of the way: LAD 3-10, SFG 7-6, CIN 5-6]

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/141: GIANTS' NO-WILLIE WOES CONTINUE; L.A. HITS 13 IN CHICAGO

[*Note: this post covers games played on 9/13 and 9/14. We'll return to the '62 pennant race on Thursday.]

In our current pandemic-encrusted age, we often forget that the "old world" was pretty virulent in its own right. Willie Mays' malady was diagnosed as a flu bug, and he missed the first of three full games on 9/13/62, creating a void in the SF lineup that their other hitters did not fill.

Jim O'Toole dominated the Giants, allowing just four hits over nine innings, and Mike McCormick, back in the starting rotation due to the continuing absence of Juan Marichal, was unable to match him. Wally Post hit a two-run homer off him in the second, and he was gone after four innings. O'Toole triggered a late "insurance" rally off Stu Miller in the eighth inning with an RBI single, no mean feat for someone hitting .114 on the year. Final score: Reds 7, Giants 2.

IN Chicago on 9/14, the Dodgers arrived after their 1-0 squeaker against the Colts to find that the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field. This led to a field day for Frank Howard, who went 4-for-5 with a homer (his 28th) and 4 RBI. Staked to a 7-0 lead after the first inning, Johnny Podres came undone in the third inning, allowing four runs and had to be bailed out by Larry Sherry in the fourth. 

Sherry would right the ship and throw 5 2/3 innings of relief to "vulture" a win; Duke Snider, a last-minute addition to the Dodger lineup for Willie Davis, hit his first home since May in the eighth, padding LA's lead as they took a 2 1/2 game lead over the Giants. Final score: Dodgers 13, Cubs 7.

The Mays-less Giants moved on to Pittsburgh for their game that night, and ran into Earl Francis, who had what was arguably the finest night of his sadly truncated career. Francis shut down SF on four hits over nine innings, and broke a close game open with a three-run homer off Bobby Bolin in the bottom of the eighth inning. 

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 97-51, SFG 94-54, CIN 93-57

[records the rest of the way: LAD 4-10, SFG 7-7, CIN 5-7]

Monday, September 12, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/140: SEPTEMBER DRAMA HEATS UP ON THE ROAD

Potential disaster struck on 9/12/62 for the Giants, when Willie Mays fainted on the bench in Cincinnati and had to be removed from the game. Mays would miss the next three games, during which time the Giants would fall into an ill-timed swoon far more dangerous to their pennant chances than what they'd experienced back in June.

Matty Alou replaced Mays in the bottom of the first, but he could only watch as Frank Robinson hit a two-run homer far over his head in left-center to get the Reds off to a flying start. Wally Post followed with another homer off Billy Pierce, and that, essentially, was the ballgame. Joey Jay and Jim Maloney combined to strike out 12 Giants, and limit them to just four hits. The Giants were clearly distracted and distressed by what had occurred in their dugout that evening. Final score: Reds 4, Giants 1.

THE Dodgers had the weaker opponent (Houston Colts), but the cavernous makeshift park that was in use there had a strong tendency to keep games on the low-scoring side of things. The game was scoreless in the bottom of the fourth when Walt Alston took aggressive action after Pete Richert had given up two hits to start the inning: in came Ed Roebuck, who bobbed and weaved his way through the threat, coaxing a double play with the bases loaded to foil the Colts.

In the top of the fifth, Frank Howard hit a home run--and Roebuck followed with four more scoreless innings of relief, until he walked catcher Hal Smith with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Alston brought in Ron Perranoski, who retired Billy Goodman on a pop fly and struck out Bob Lillis looking to seal the deal on the most elemental game score of all. More "heroic" relief work from a Dodger bullpen that is unrecognizable to us today in terms of its usage. Final score: Dodgers 1, Colts 0.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 96-51, SFG 94-52, CIN 91-57