Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Most Efficient Night of Baseball

TRIVIA QUESTION: Jim Mudcat Grant was the very first black pitcher to win 20 games in the American League. Who was the first black pitcher to win 20 games in the National League? 

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  The two players aside from Stan Musial, who hailed from Donora, PA, were none other than Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey, Jr.

 "EFFICIENCY; the state or quality of being efficient, or able to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort; competency in performance.

That's how the dictionary defines the word "efficiency." In May 15, 1963 in Cleveland the word "efficiency" was described in four other words; Mudcat Grant - Orlando Pena. When the two pitchers squared off in Cleveland Stadium that warm spring night, few of the 3300 people in the stands expected to be out of the ballpark and on their way home 1:57 later.
If they walked in a shade late, they missed all the action. The A's were 18-13, a single game back of the league leaders. The Indians were were 12-13 and seven back. Pena was the ace of the A's staff on a team which would go on to a 73-89 record and an eighth place finish, 31 games back of the pennant winning NY Yankees. The Indians were not much better, 79-83, and 25 games back, for a fifth place finish.

However, this night was something special; at least for two guys going in opposite directions. Grant opened the game putting down the A's in order, 1-2-3. It was something he would do six times that evening. Pena would do it four times. 

The only scoring came in the bottom of the first when the Tribe's Vic Davalillo reached on a single to right to lead off the inning. Al Luplow followed with a single to right sending Davalillo to second. Pena struck out Woodie Held and got Joe Adcock on a weak pop out to the infield. Tito Francona then laced a single to center to score the speedy Davalillo with the only run of the game, giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead. Pena walked Johnny Romano but got Max Alvis to ground out to end the inning. 
A lead off walk to Norm Siebern in the third and a two out double by Wayne Causey in the third were the only other opportunities Grant afforded Kansas City, until the eighth when Chuck Essegian led off with a single.

Pena was just as magnificent before giving way to John Wyatt in the ninth. When the dust settled each side sent only 30 men to the plate, or three batters over the minimum. Grant pitched a complete game shutout, giving up two hits and walking one while striking out three.

For his part, Pena gave up four hits in eight innings of work, walked two and struck out five in facing 27 batters. Wyatt took out the Tribe in a 1-2-3 ninth to also face the minimum of three. Pena finished the night at 4-3 on his way to a 20 loss season. Grant was 3-3 at the time and would finish 13-14 on the year. Two years later he would win 21 with the Twins and help Minnesota to the AL title.

That night in Cleveland however, was a night when the word "efficiency" would become a pitching coaches dream.



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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, April 10, 2019

Stan Musial Really Was THE Man

TRIVIA QUESTION: Stan Musial is likely the most famous person from Donora, PA, but two other Major League players hailed from the same city. Who were they?  

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: When Pete Rose first stepped to the plate in his first plate appearance ever in the big leagues, it was Monday, April 8, 1963. He faced right-hander Earl Francis of the Pirates and promptly drew a walk. One out later he would come around to score on a Frank Robinson home run.

Sometimes when the writing is on the wall you really wish the text were written one year later. Such is the case of one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball; Stan Musial
     (Musial's last At Bat)
For more than two decades Musial, the Donora, PA native, patrolled the outfield and some at first base for the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit milestones with the bat which would make him a $30 million a year player today. When he retired after the 1963 season, his final salary was $50,000. 

Musial was voted to the all-star team in every year he played. He missed the 1945 season due to military service. He went into the Hall of Fame with an amazing 93.2% of the vote. He finished with 475 home runs, a lifetime BA of .331 and nearly 4000 combined RBI and Runs Scored. And he was a good fielder.
The point of the story is when he retired. The 1962 Cardinals finished in sixth place. A year later they finished in second. Musial had an amazing 1962 when you consider he was 41 years old and still batted .330 with 19 homers in over 500 AB's. He fell off as could be expected in 1963 at age 42. He dropped to .255 and just 12 homers in 124 games. It was only the second time his average dipped so low (he also hit .255 in 1959).

With young Mike Shannon, a power hitting and good defensive outfielder pushing for a  chance to play, and with an aging body on the line, Musial hung them up. If he'd have hung on for one more year the headlines would have read "Musial Bows Out a World Series Champion!"
The Cardinals did indeed go to the World Series in 1964 and they beat the Yankees in seven games. Musial was watching from the good seats at that point however, and oh how the fans would have loved to see no. 6 on the field for those seven games and go out a winner. 
Shannon would eventually move into the infield and play third base after Kenny Boyer was traded to the Mets after the 1965 season for Al Jackson and Charley Smith. The Smith experiment didn't pan out so when Roger Maris arrived in 1968, Shannon became the permanent fixture at third.

As for Musial's records; he led the league in hits six times. In addition to those seasons he belted more than 200 hits twice (6 times overall). Nine times he had more than 40 doubles (thrice hitting 50),  five times he led the league in triples while hitting the 20 mark twice, in six seasons he hit at least 30 home runs and led the league in batting seven times (.376 in 1948).  Add to that 10 times driving in over 100 RBI and 11 times scoring 100 or more and you have one of the greatest compilation of numbers you will ever see, and never see again in MLB.

AND; Probably the most amazing statistic when it comes to consistency. Musial had the exact same number of hits "on the road" as he did "at home." In both cases he had 1815 hits in his career for 3630 total.

Stan Musial truly was "The Man."


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Use PayPal to brillpro@prodigy.net or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column.

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.     


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Rose Machine 1968-1969



TRIVIA QUESTION: The all-time hits leader in major league baseball, what was the result in the very first plate appearance Pete Rose made in the the big leagues in 1963? Get a bonus point if you can name the pitcher he faced.  

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  Mike Cuellar came to the big leagues in 1959, became a star with Houston in 1966 and was sent onto the Orioles. While with the O's he went on to win 20 or more games, four times in his career. His best was in 1970 when he finished 24-8. Overall he won 185 and lost 130.

 If a player comes to bat 550 times in a season it's a lot. If he comes to bat 600 times in a season, it is pretty amazing. When a player reaches more than 650 it's pretty dog gone awesome. When you consider the player also reached more than 700 plate appearances three times in his first seven years in the big leagues, it is a number unheard of by modern standards. Throw in the fact the player averaged less than 57 walks over the same stretch, you would put that player in the elite of the elite status. Such a player was the Pete Rose of the 1960's.
No matter where you stand on Rose; HOF or no HOF, criminal or one of the all time greats, there is no denying especially in his early career, he was among the best ever.  Take 1965 for instance. It was far from his best year at the time.
He came to the plate a league leading 757 times in 162 games at age 24. He smacked 209 hits to lead the NL and also led in official ABs with 670 while batting .312. He scored 117 runs and drove in 81 more while hitting 35 doubles, 11 triples and 11 homers. So with only 11 dingers it means he accounted for 181 runs in 162 games.

Perhaps his best two seasons were 1968 and 1969. He won the batting title both seasons but it doesn't tell the entire story. He came to the plate 692 and 731 times, official AB's were 626 and 627. Combined for the two seasons he scored 214 runs, including 120 in 1969 to lead the NL. Then there is this; 428 hits, 75 doubles, 17 triples and 26 home runs. He drove in 131 while drawing 144 walks. 
His league leading BA's were .335 and .348. His all important On Base Percentages were .391 and .428, while slugging .470 and .512. His OPS were .861 and .940. 

Putting those two seasons (1968-1969) in perspective with today's stats. He finished 5th and 4th in WAR (Wins Above Replacement). In 1968 he was fifth at 5.7 behind only McCovey, Wynn, Felipe Alou and Willie Mays. The following season he was fourth at 7.1 behind McCovey, Wynn and Aaron. Consider this; Rose is 40th all time in WAR.
 
So considering Runs he drove in and Runs he scored, minus the home runs which would account for both; Pete Rose accounted for 319 runs over two seasons all by himself, or 160 runs per year. It is a pretty amazing stat especially when you consider he batted in the Lead Off position nearly all the time.  

Pretty dog gone awesome.


"SPECIAL OFFER"
You can get a signed paper back copy of the above book
"Tales of My Baseball Youth - a child of the sixties"
for $15 Shipping Included 
Use PayPal to brillpro@prodigy.net or contact us at the same email for other payment. 


Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column.

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.