Followers

Monday, January 20, 2020

To the Moon Gaylord and Back Again!


TRIVIA QUESTION:  Gaylord Perry and brother Jim combined for 529 major league wins. Which of the two brothers had a better post season record?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: Don Demeter was a well traveled player and in 1963 after two of his better seasons, the Phillies shipped him off to Detroit in search of pitching. In the off season they traded him with Jack Hamilton to the Detroit Tigers for Jim Bunning and Gus Triandos.

On May 25, 1961, in a speech before Congress, President John F. Kennedy predicted the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade; the 1960's. We did that when Neil Armstrong took that Giant leap for Mankind onto the moon's surface on April 20, 1969. So what does this have to do with baseball?
Funny you should ask. It was 1963 when San Francisco Giants pitcher Gaylord Perry predicted "They'll put a man on the moon before I hit my first home run" in the big leagues. Perry's quote withstood the test of time.

He was an outstanding pitcher who pitched into the 1980's and for eight other clubs after the Giants gave up on the future Hall of Famer. While he was, as it turned out a great pitcher, he was never much of a hitter. Throwing in the American League in the 1970's was a blessing. He didn't need to hit because the AL instituted the Designated Hitter Rule. 


It wasn't he was a bad hitter. He just wasn't a good one. He actually hit well in his early days. He hit .231 and .222 in 1962 and 1963. When he became a full time starter in 1964 however, the hitting became very, very secondary. That season he hit .054 with only three hits in 46 AB's. Aside from a couple seasons where he flirted with .186 and in the .155 range, he had a lot of years flirting with .100 or less. In the 1960's he never approached .200 again.

But there was that prediction. A man on the moon before his first homer. Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20, 1969 at 20:17 UTC. It was about the same time the Giants were facing the Dodgers (who else) at Candlestick Park. Perry was on the mound up against an old nemesis, Claude Osteen. It was a familiar match up.

Osteen was marvelous for a short while. In the first he retired Bobby Bonds, Ron Hunt and Willie Mays in order. In the second he got Willie McCovey, Jim Davenport walked and Ken Henderson bounced into a double play. Meanwhile, Perry gave up three runs in the first and was trailing 3-0 when the third inning came around.

Hal Lanier led off the third followed by Bob Barton and both went down easily, bringing Perry to the plate, still homer-less in his career. He must have been waiting for this moment because just three hours earlier Armstrong set foot on the moon. It was Perry's first time at the plate after the moonwalk and he promptly took an Osteen pitch deep into the seats for his first home run ever. The prediction was sealed. 

It didn't matter what the rest of the game looked like although Perry would resume his old ways, grounding out and then striking out twice. The fact of the matter was, he was the Old Garylord Perry on the mound. He went the distance beating the Dodgers 7-3, giving up seven hits, striking out six and walking just two.

For the rest of his career, Perry despite a low average did hit five more homers over the next 12 years, including one each of the next three seasons. His final dinger came in 1981 while pitching for Atlanta. He had a career high that season batting .250. He closed out his career batting .131, with six homers and 47 RBI. 

Fortunately he was paid to pitch and not hit. Perry finished his career with 314 wins and a 3.11 ERA over 22 seasons. Neil Armstrong never went back to the moon. We're sure he remembered the day like it was yesterday. The same could be said for a fellow named Gaylord.
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

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. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

1962 Phillies Improve by 34 Games! How?

TRIVIA QUESTION: In December, 1963 the Phillies acquired all-star pitcher Jim Bunning for the 1964 season. They traded Don Demeter and Jack Hamilton to Detroit for the future HOFer and one other player. Who was the other player?
  
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  For whatever reason, despite batting left handed and getting a better start out of the box, Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski always grounded into a lot of double plays. Only three times in 23 years did he NOT reach double digits in banging into twin killings. He led the league twice, topping out at 30 in 1964. Two years earlier he did it again with 27. 


It was not worst to first but improving by 34 wins from one season to the next is a pretty remarkable achievement. Such were the 1961 and 1962 Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams managed by one of the men considered by many to be a great manager; Gene Mauch. In 1961 the Phils finished in last place with a 47-107 record. The following year they improved to 81-80, while moving up to 7th place. Maybe it had something to do with Telstar!


Two things of note here. In 1961 they played 154 games and there were eight clubs in the National League. The following season the Mets and Astros arrived and there were ten teams playing 162 games. So you can judge for yourself if eighth place among eight teams is much worse than 7 out of 10. Before we jump to any conclusions here and say winning 34 more games is quite an accomplishment, we need to also point out 36 of the 162 were against the Mets and the Astros. In 1962 each team played every other team 18 times which translates to 36 against the expansion teams.

The last three teams in the NL won only 163 games and lost 304! They were the Astros, Cubs and Mets in that order. 

The 1961 Phillies were led by Don Demeter's 20 home runs in a limited role, while regular players such as Pancho Herrera hit 13 followed by 12 for Tony Gonzales. No regular batted better than Gonzales .277. The club was 7th in the NL in homers and 8th in almost every other hitting category.
On the pitching staff only 24 year old Jack Baldschun at 5-3 and Turk Farrell 2-1 were over .500. The lead starters were 31-85. Art Mahaffey led the team in wins and was 11-19. John Buzhardt was 6-18, Frank Sullivan 3-16 and Chris Short (a future 20 game winner) was 6-12. Long time starter and future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was 1-10 with a 5.85 ERA. The club finished last in ERA at 4.61.

In 1962, Herrera and Roberts were gone, Demeter was healthy and an influx of youngsters bolstered a weak line-up and led the club's surge. Demeter played in 153 games and belted 29 home runs. He also hit .307 to lead the club. Gonzalez improved to .302 and newcomer Johnny Callison provided spark on offense and defense, with a .300 average and 23 homers.
Gonzalez added 20 dingers, Roy Sievers, acquired in the off season from the White Sox for Buzhardt and Charlie Smith, hit 21. He also drove in 80 runs. Frank Torre hit .310 in a limited role and rookie Bobby Wine provided great defense at short. His .244 BA was welcomed.

Pitching definitely improved, too. Adding youngster Clay Dalrymple behind the plate helped. The 25-year old also hit .276 aside from being a fine defensive catcher. 

Mahaffey turned it around going 19-14, young Jack Hamilton arrived on the scene and went 9-12, Cal McLish was 11-5 while Short was 11-9. Baldschun was 12-7 with 13 Saves out of the bullpen. They were eighth in almost every pitching category and still gave up an average of 4.28 runs per game. However, the improvement of the offense to 4th in homers in the NL and 6th in BA made up for much of the lapses in pitching. 
It was Mahaffey's best season and he was a work horse, pitching 274 innings. He would pitch four more seasons ending his career at 28. He would only win 22 more games over the final four years. It was also Demeter's best year. He would never again come close to .300 or 29 homers and retired after the 1967 season in Cleveland hitting .207.  He played 11 years.

Gonzales would remain a Phillie for many seasons but 1962 saw him top out in homers and the following year he did hit .306. In 1967 he came close to winning the batting title at .339. Callison's career was steady, hitting homers in double figures for nine straight years, twice hitting more than 30. He hit 226 in his 16 year career.

Chris Short perhaps went on to the best of the 1962 Phillies in their careers. Over the rest of his MLB seasons he won 17, 18, 19, and 20 games to finish 135-132 in 15 seasons. In 1965 he pitched 297 innings and for several years hovered at 200 innings. He died at the young age of 53 in 1991. 
As for Mauch, aside from the 1964 Phillies Collapse where his club finished 2nd, he never finished in first until 1986 as manager of the California Angels. He lost in the post season to Boston in the ALCS 4 games to 3. He finished his career 646-684.

 Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

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. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Yaz; One Great Year Among Many!

TRIVIA QUESTION: In is career Carl Yastrzemski twice led the AL in the number of double plays grounded into. What was the most he had to lead the league?
  
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  One of strangest cases involving losing pitcher stats came in 1966 when the Pittsburgh Pirates (who had some of the worst pitching in the NL that season) had only two pitchers on the roster who finished with a losing record. Bob Purkey and Luke Walker both finished the season 0-1.


Every once in a while a position in sports is filled by just a few people over a long period of time. Earle Combs patrolled center field for the Yankees from 1924-1935 giving way to Joe DiMaggio who was there until Mickey Mantle took over in 1952. From 1968 to present day the Pittsburgh Steelers have had only three coaches (Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin) and in Boston Ted Williams ruled left field (minus time off for the military) from 1940 to 1960 when Carl Yastrzemski took over. Actually Williams became a regular for Boston in 1939 but moved from right to left permanently the following year. Yaz was there basically until Jim Rice came along.

There was a lot of pressure on Yaz following in the footsteps of Williams. He was up to it, but never as much as in 1967. It was the year of the Impossible Dream with the Sox making it to the World Series. While they didn't win it, it wasn't because Yaz didn't try. It was his Triple Crown season and the second time he won the AL batting title. He would win three.

It was a stretch of 23 games in August in which the Sox needed his help the most and he performed. It began with the Sox three games back of first place on August 15th. The streak of 17 wins out of 23 games began with a 4-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers. It ended with with a September first pounding of the White Sox 10-2. The Red Sox were now in first place, half a game up. 


In that run was a seven game winning streak over the Angels and Senators including a double bill where Yaz homered in each game (no's 30 & 31). During the win streak Yaz hit .278, scored 23 runs, drove in 17 more and belted eight homers. After going 0-17 late in the streak he started the game on the bench only to come in and hit home run no. 35 in two at bats late in the game. It was a 2-1 win over the Yankees in New York to put the Sox up by 1.5 games.

Perhaps his biggest moment on the stage was at the end of the season with the pennant on the line. It was the final two games of the regular season. Facing the Twins in the final battle for first place Yaz went seven for eight with six RBI as the Red Sox took the final two games 6-4 and 5-3. In the finale the Sox left fielder went 4-4. 


He ended the season with Triple Crown numbers of .326/44/121. He and Harmon Killebrew tied in the Home Run race with 44. Yaz would end his career after 23 seasons with a lifetime .285 average, 452 homers, three batting titles (including the record low of .301 during the year of the pitcher in 1968),  and six seasons drawing over 100 walks, five with 100 or better RBI.
 
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

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. 


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

In Support of Steve Blass

Editors Note: This week, Baseball in the 1960s will be presenting two of the "best of" columns from our distant past. We hope you enjoy these reworked columns with updated video and links. The trivia questions however are continued from the previous weeks. Next week we will again begin with fresh columns and stories for you to follow and enjoy.


TRIVIA QUESTION: In the 1966 season, only two Pittsburgh Pirate pitchers had a losing record. Who were they?
  
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  One of the most amazing pitchers of the modern era, Juan Marichal threw at least 22 complete games in a season in five different seasons. In 1968 he led the National League in Complete Games for a second time with an unbelievable 30 finishes.


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.

This last season Blass retired as a beloved Pirates broadcaster to a standing ovation from the fans. He spent over half a century in the Pirates organization. 

Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

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. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Biggest Day for NY Mets

Editors Note: This week and the following week, Baseball in the 1960s will be presenting two of the "best of" columns from our distant past. We hope you enjoy these reworked columns with updated video and links. The trivia questions however are continued from the previous weeks.



TRIVIA QUESTION: In his amazing career the Giants Juan Marichal threw at least 22 complete games in a season on five different occasions. In 1968 he led the league for a second time. How many complete games did he toss that year?
  
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  One of most feared hitters of the 1960s, Rocky Colavito rarely found a home for more than a few years. He was traded four times in his 14 big league seasons. Here are those tranasactions: 


April 17, 1960: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn.
November 18, 1963: Traded by the Detroit Tigers with Bob Anderson and $50,000 to the Kansas City Athletics for Jerry Lumpe, Ed Rakow and Dave Wickersham.
January 20, 1965: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Kansas City Athletics to the Cleveland Indians. The Chicago White Sox sent Cam Carreon to the Cleveland Indians. The Chicago White Sox sent a player to be named later, Mike Hershberger and Jim Landis to the Kansas City Athletics. The Cleveland Indians sent Tommie Agee, Tommy John and John Romano to the Chicago White Sox. The Chicago White Sox sent Fred Talbot (February 10, 1965) to the Kansas City Athletics to complete the trade.
July 29, 1967: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later and Jim King. The Chicago White Sox sent Marv Staehle (October 26, 1967) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.


Most people don't think of Ken Boyer as a New York Met, preferring his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was a Met and also played with more teams including the White Sox and the Dodgers. However, it was as a Met where he made history. Few people remember it but it was Boyer who drove in the winning run in a non essential game in 1966.

(It should be noted the classic broadcast above from YouTube was actually a game played two days before the September 6, 1966 game this column is about. We could not find the actual game.)

It was a Tuesday night at Shea Stadium and the 14-thousand-plus fans in attendance would probably not even remember this one. The game had one significant factor; a Mets win assured they would NOT end up in last place for the first time in franchise history. The club was destined to finish near the cellar. In fact, the Mets had never finished out of the cellar in their history. They wouldn't the following year either.
In the four previous seasons  the club had lost 120, 111, 109 and 112 games. In 1967 they again would lose 101. But in 1966 for the first time they would lose in double digits. The number nine grew large in New York and for the first time since the Dodgers and Giants fled the Big Apple, New Yorkers had a National League team which was not no. 10 in the standings. 

The game on September 6th, would assure it. Reds ace Jim Maloney was facing off against Mets youngster, Dennis Ribant. Maloney was looking for his 15th win, Ribant hoping for his 11th. It was the latter's night. 

Ribant made it through the first retiring the side in order. When the home town boys came to bat Maloney was wild. He walked lead off hitter Bud Harrelson who promptly stole second. Ron Hunt, as was customary with the second sacker, was hit by a pitch. He would go on to record 11 times being hit by the pitch that year, and would get hit 243 times in his bruised body career. 

So with runners at first and second Maloney, K'd Johnny Lewis but walked Al Luplow. Ken Boyer came to bat. The aging Boyer's best days were behind him but he was still hanging on at age 35. Maloney uncorked a wild pitch scoring Harrelson and everyone else moved up ninety feet. Boyer then drove a single to left scoring both Luplow and Hunt and the Mets led 3-0. 

The Reds would score two in the seventh; one on a Deron Johnson homer, but for the rest of the game it was all Ribant. The young righty went the distance giving up six hits while walking one and striking out three. Maloney took the loss. In six innings he walked seven, uncorked a wild one and hit a batter. All that came to unravel him in the three run inning.

The bottom line is that was win no. 60 for the Mets. The Cubs would only win 59. While Wes Westrum's team would go on to win 66 for New York, the key was finishing out of last place. And they did. 

The win was Ribant's last for the Mets. They shipped him off to Pittsburgh after the season for Don Cardwell in a four player deal.  Maloney would remain one of the aces of the Reds staff through the decade and Boyer would move onto the White Sox midway through the 1967 season before getting his release and ultimately finishing up with Los Angeles. 

Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book "Beating the Slump; An athlete's guide to a better career." See it on Amazon for only $5.99. That is for the Paperback, you can also order Kindle on that link. You can also order paperback copies directly from me via the email below for my other books.

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.