Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Worst Trade of the 1960's

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TRIVIA QUESTION:   Lou Brock came to the Cardinals in 1964, one year after Cardinal great Stan Musial retired. Who was the other Cardinal great and future Hall of Famer who retired as a Redbird the same season as Musial?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: Carol Taylor, the super utility man who played for Pittsburgh in 1969, is the step brother of former Oriole's slugger, Boog Powell.

 When Red Sox fans talk about the "curse of the Babe," they were right to refer to deal which sent pitcher/hitter Babe Ruth to the hated New York Yankees for $100,000 in 1919. It wasn't until 2004 the Red Sox finally won a World Series. The Yankee story is legendary, led by the years Ruth starred for Murderer's Row. For the Chicago Cubs, there was a similar deal; the "Curse of Lou Brock" you might say. 

The Cubbies had not won a World Series since 1908. It was a dominant time for Chicago. The Cubs won in 1907 and the White Sox did it in 1906. But the Cubs would not win another Series Championship until 2016. A 108 year drought or longer than the Red Sox. During the 1960's the Cubs had some super star laden teams with Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and a young outfielder named Lou Brock. Add pitchers such as Fergie Jenkins and you had the makings of a team which should have won at least one pennant.

Brock came to the Cubs as a free agent in 1960. The 1961 season opened with an outfield of Billy Williams, Richie Ashburn and Al Heist. A superstar in the making on his way to the Hall of Fame, an aging star also headed to the Hall and a player who came to the big leagues at 32 and would be out of the big leagues at 34 after a rather pedestrian three seasons in the Cubs outfield. There was clearly room for a breakout rookie.
Brock played sparingly in 1960 making his debut on September 10th, inserted into the starting line-up as the center fielder and lead off hitter.  Just over 7,000 fans saw Brock break in. He faced the great Robin Roberts and promptly smacked a single to center in his first at bat. The rest of his at bats, in his one-for-five debut, were non de script but he did score a run. 

In 1961 in four games he hit .091 and in his first full season, 1962, he was still getting familiar with the big league pitching. The son of a share cropper, he had dominated in his only minor league campaign, winning the batting title with a .361 average in the Northern League. 

The 1962 season saw the young outfielder hit .263 followed by .258 with nine homers in each year. As swift as he was, Brock stole 16 and 24 bases in those two years. It wasn't enough for Cub's management. They needed pitching and the Cardinals needed an outfielder.
On June 15, 1964, the Cubs made what was long thought of as one of the worst trades in major league baseball history. They sent Brock, along with Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz. Broglio was the key. The tall right-hander had won 21 games to lead the NL in 1960. After an off-season in 1961 he came back to win 12 and then 18 in 1963. The Cubs wanted him and they got him. Brock was expendable.

Brock, hitting only .251 when the trade took place, scorched opposing pitchers in St. Louis at a .348 clip and finished the year at .315 with 30 doubles, 11 triples, 14 homers and 43 stolen bases. Broglio went 7-12 with a 3.82 ERA. Brock went on to a Hall of Fame career and a then record 938 stolen bases including 118 in 1974. 

Broglio won three more games in the following two seasons and was out of baseball when the 1966 season ended. Brock had a life-time .293 average with 149 homers, while Broglio won 77 and lost 74 in his career. 
As for the others in the trade; Bobby Shantz retired at the end of the 1964 season, Doug Clemons played one less than illustrious season in Chicago before ending up three more pedestrian years in Philadelphia, Jack Spring pitched a total of 24 more MLB innings and Paul Toth pitched 10 more innings for the Cubs giving up 10 runs before calling it quits in 1967, having never pitched in the big leagues again.




Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. It has been appreciated. 

Also: Please check out our new Western Short Film. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/iron-gun-western-feature-film/#/
Please share this blog with your friends and colleagues and leave a comment at the bottom of the blog if you have one. Thank YOU VERY MUCH!! Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at www.bobbrillbooks.com, or on Amazon.   


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In Support of Steve Blass

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TRIVIA QUESTION:   Who is the major league player the 1969 Pirate's utility man Carl Taylor is related to?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: The future Yankee manager who was traded to Kansas City with Ralph Terry was Billy Martin.

Most pitchers will moan about the "lack of run support" they get from the bats of their teammates, but in 1969 the Pirates Steve Blass had no such complaint. Blass, who would win 16 of 26 decisions for a Pittsburgh team which was expected to do better, saw his team post at least 10 runs for him a lot.
  The Pirates, under Larry Shepard, would finish with 88 wins but end up in third place in the tough National League Eastern Division. They acquired aging Jim Bunning to bolster a starting staff which included Blass, Bob Veale and Bob Moose. Pirate bats were still strong with five regulars batting better than .300, led by Roberto Clemente at .345. Matty Alou hit .331 while Manny Sanguillen, rookie Richie Hebner and Willie Stargell all bested .300. Stargell added 29 homers as well.
Off the bench Carl Taylor hit .348 and was supported by veterans Gene Alley and Jose Pagan, along with youngsters in waiting Bob Robertson and Dave Cash. Freddie Patek was the shortstop, Bill Mazeroski at second and rookie Al Oliver would hit 17 homers while batting a respectable .285. 

For a change however, it was the Pirates starting pitchers which played a big positive role and Blass took the lead. The current Pirates announcer would be the first to admit the bats were working in his favor.

While Blass opened the season against Cardinal's ace Bob Gibson, with a no-decision in a 14-inning game, he was masterful. He allowed only two runs in seven innings, matching Gibson pitch for pitch. It wasn't often the Bucs scored a lowly two runs for their big guy.



In his next three wins the Pirates scored 8, 8 and 7 runs. In his losses and no decisions they weren't that productive but on June 1, the Bucco bats exploded for 14 runs to back Blass to make his record 4-2 without the aid of a home run. Five games later against the Braves the Pirates scored 10 runs behind Blass who went the distance for a six-hitter. Four days after that he started at Houston and the Pirates scored 13 runs. Included was a Clemente grand slam and while Blass was not very effective he still picked up the win to run his record to 6-2.

On August 5th, Blass started against Los Angeles at Chavez Ravine and Buc bats awoke again, scoring 11 runs with the aid of homers by Stargell, Sanguillen and Maz, as Blass bested Don Drysdale to run his record to 11-7. It would be the last double digit scoring behind Blass for the season. Five more times during the season the Pirates would score at least 10 runs with Moose (14-3) benefiting twice. 
When the dust cleared the Pirates led the league in runs, hits, triple and batting average. The team BA was .277 with non-pitchers hitting an amazing .290! While Pirate pitching ended up in the middle to later portion of the 12 team NL pack, they did lead the league in allowing the least home runs (they still played in spacious Forbes Field) and were second in strikeouts. Five Pirate pitchers finished with at least 10 wins. 

Despite his 4.46 ERA, Blass still managed a 16-10 record to lead Pittsburgh in wins. It was a far cry from his masterful 1968 season at 18-6 with a 2.12 ERA. He would go on to be the ace of the Pirates staff for years to come and 3-1 in the post season, including 2-0 in the 1971 World Series won by the Pirates.


Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. It has been appreciated. 

Also: Please check out our new Western Short Film. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/iron-gun-western-feature-film/#/
Please share this blog with your friends and colleagues and leave a comment at the bottom of the blog if you have one. Thank YOU VERY MUCH!! Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at www.bobbrillbooks.com, or on Amazon.   


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ralph Terry Ends Giants World Series Hopes

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TRIVIA QUESTION:  Ralph Terry was originally signed by the Yankees but was traded to Kansas City before being sent back to the Yankees. Who was the future Yankee manager involved in one of those trades?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: The 1963 World Series featured two opposing players who also played against each other in another professional sport; the NBA. Gene Conley was a pitcher with the Boston Braves but he also played a couple seasons for the Boston Celtics. Steve Hamilton, pitching for the Yankees, was a member of the Minneapolis Lakers from 1958-1960. The two teams faced each other in the NBA Finals in 1958-59 season in which the Celtics won in four games. 

In the 1960's if you asked most people who was the ace of the Yankee's staff and a stalwart in a World Series, most people would probably say Whitey Ford. In 1962 it was another long time major leaguer; Ralph Terry

Terry had an awesome 1962, winning 23 games to Ford's 17 and leading the team in innings pitched with 298. He walked but 57 batters and struck out 176. All figures which outdistanced Ford. Perhaps, his most amazing feat was a 1.05 WHiP to Ford's 1.21. 
It was in the World Series where he really stood out. That cool October day when Game One against the Giants began in San Francisco's Candlestick Park, it was Ford who got the call. He did not disappoint and neither did his Bronx Bomber teammates, responding with six runs as they defeated Billy O'Dell and the Giants 6-2. The six runs would be the second most scored by a winning team in the series which was supposed to be a slug-fest. In Game One Clete Boyer homered and Roger Maris drove in a pair, which was pretty much all the Yanks needed.  

Terry got the start in Game Two but Yankee bats went silent, managing only three hits off Jack Sanford. A Willie McCovey homer was all the Giants needed as Terry gave up only six hits but two runs. San Francisco tied the series a 1-1. 
New York came back in game three to back the four hit pitching of Bill Stafford 3-2 and take a one game lead in the best of seven series.  Ford got the call in Game Four and lasted six good innings before giving way to the relief corps. The Yankee staff gave up a total of seven runs in losing 7-3, to bring the series even again at 2-2.

Terry took the mound for his second start in Game Five and was neck and neck with Sanford until the eighth. Tom Tresh, batting third, got his second extra base hit of the night; a three run blast to put the Yanks ahead for good. Despite striking out 10, Sanford was on the losing end and Terry went the distance with an eight hitter.

New York hoped to close it out in Game Six but Ford was not up to it and the Giants were not going away. Whitey gave up five runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings and was gone along with the Yankee fans desire to avoid a Game Seven. San Francisco stayed alive with a 5-2 win.
Pitching on five days rest (he went the distance on October 10th), Terry faced the Giants in Game Seven on October 16th. Over 43,000 people filled Candlestick to see Terry take on  Sanford again. It was a Tuesday afternoon in October and as anyone knows October near the Bay can be treacherous. The temperature was in the 60's with a 20 mile per hour wind - the wind tunnel so to speak in those days.

The game was scoreless until the fifth when Moose Skowron led off the inning with a single. Boyer followed with a single sending Skowron to third with nobody out. Sanford then did the unthinkable; he walked the opposing pitcher to load the bases. Lead off man Tony Kubek hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop Jose Pagan who quickly turned the double play allowing Skowron to score, making it 1-0. 
It was a good move by the defense figuring one run would not make the difference. Unfortunately for the Giants it did. Terry was masterful until the ninth. The ninth inning involved one of the most memorable plays in World Series history.

Matty Alou led the Giants off with a bunt single. Brother Felipe and Chuck Hiller struck out. With San Francisco down to it's final out, Willie Mays banged a double off Terry, sending Matty to third and bringing up the dangerous McCovey. McCovey had tripled earlier in the game and today never would have gotten to swing the bat. Orlando Cepeda, just as dangerous but batting a lowly .158 in the series, was on deck.
With the game on the line McCovey smashed a wicked line drive which second baseman Bobby Richardson grabbed for the final out. The game and the Series was over and Terry had pitched two complete games, winning two including the final Game Seven. 

Terry allowed just four hits, striking out four and did not walk a batter, going 2-1 in the Series with a 1.80 ERA. He gave up only five runs in 25 innings and walked just two batters in leading New York to a 4-3 Series victory.

  Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. It has been appreciated. 

Also: Please check out our new Western Short Film. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/iron-gun-western-feature-film/#/
Please share this blog with your friends and colleagues and leave a comment at the bottom of the blog if you have one. Thank YOU VERY MUCH!! Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at www.bobbrillbooks.com, or on Amazon.