Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Best Pitched Game and Short Too

TRIVIA QUESTION:   The 1965 Dodges were not known for hitting home runs. Which two players tied for the team lead that year in homers and how many did they each hit?

Donn Clendenon played 12 years in the big leagues and eight of them were with the team which originally signed him; Pittsburgh. Clendenon was a multi sport star before turning to baseball solely and drew interest for football and basketball as well. He also played for the Expos, the Mets and finished his career with St. Louis.

Vin Scully, the Dodger's longtime announcer used to say "Bob Gibson pitches like he's double parked." On May 25, 1965 at Dodgers Stadium, he and Don Drysdale seemed to never stop moving while the car was parked. In an unbelievably short game, these two Hall of Fame pitchers put their best foot forward for 1:41 minutes of pure pitching magnificence. 

It was a fairly warm and typical Tuesday night in Los Angeles. More than 28,000 people showed up at the ballpark to see the Cardinals, who were 2.5 games behind the Dodgers. It was a matchup of real power. Don Drysdale whose side arm delivery and his giant frame could make any hitter go "jelly leg," versus the ace of the Cardinals staff; the fire balling Bob Gibson. 

Gibby was on his way to a 20-12 season while Big D would finish 23-12 and in the World Series. For their part the Dodgers were pretty much a weak hitting team. The formula for winning was Maury Wills would single, steal second, get sacrificed to third and come home on a sac fly. Then send Sandy Koufax and Drysdale to the mound, or Claude Osteen and watch them pitch a shutout. It worked pretty much that way.

The Cards were laden with much better hitting including Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Bill White, Ken Boyer, Dick Groat and Tim McCarver. The pitching was good but not as sound as Los Angeles. The Dodgers had a sound defense with Ron Fairly, Wills, Willie Davis, and a blossoming rookie named Jimmy Lefebvre. Wes Parker was an outstanding first baseman and along with the light hitting John Kennedy were the defensive standouts on the corners. 

This game started out pretty easily for the Cardinals. Curt Flood led off with a single and with Brock at the plate Drysdale uncorked a wild pitch. Flood stood at second but three harmless ground balls ended the inning and that was it for the Cardinals. Seriously. Drysdale didn't give up another hit, nor a walk and the only other Cardinal to reach base was when Dick Tracewski booted a Dick Groat grounder in the fifth.

Inning after inning three Cardinals came up and three Cardinal sat back down. The only problem for the Dodgers was Gibson was pretty much doing the same thing. Up and down with little fanfare until the eight when Drysdale himself really took charge. Known as one of the best hitting pitchers in the history of the game, Big Don led off the eight with a single. As per the usual course of the Dodgers actions, Lou Johnson sacrificed himi to second. Parker walked and Willie Davis popped out, leaving it up to Ron Fairly.

Fairly was no big homer hitter but he was clutch and he came through with a double to score both Drysdale and Parker. The Dodgers led it 2-0 and in the ninth Drysdale got two harmless ground balls before striking out Brock to end the masterpiece. And what a masterpiece it was. He faced two men over the minimum, 29 batters, gave up a lone single to the lead off hitter and didn't walk a man while striking out six in running his record to 7-3. 

Gibson on the other hand went the full nine innings as well, giving up six hits, walking two and striking out seven. The typical Dodger fan (the joke has been they arrive in the third and leave after the seventh) barely had time to sit down with a Dodger dog and a beer. The game started at 8:00o'clock and ended at 9:41 PM. It was one of the shortest nine inning night games in the history of major league baseball. And the fans got their money's worth; those who got there in time.

 Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon. 

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