Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bring on the Rain! Please!

TRIVIA QUESTION:  The 1963 Red Sox only played in one rain shortened game that season but they played an amazing number of extra inning games. How many times did the 1963 Red Sox take a game into at least the 10th inning?  

In 1961 the Detroit Tigers had a marvelous season but unfortunately were outpaced by the second best team in MLB history; the 1961 NY Yankees. The Tigers finished 101-61 but were eight games back of the Yanks who won 109 to go on to the World Series.

It's been said "baseball is a funny game." If you add in the weather, since the game for the most part is played outdoors, it can get even funnier. No, just funkier. 

Take the game between the Boston Red Sox and the A's in Kansas City on May 4, 1963. It should have been a normal night game but in the Midwest in May, nothing is normal when it comes to the weather. There was a forecast of thunderstorms but at game time things seemed to be pretty nice.
(The stadium above is not the actual stadium discussed in the story, but was chosen for it's "rain" perspective only. BB)

The game started easily enough before less than 14,000 fans. It was a night game and it took all of two hours and one minute. Not bad. Except they only played FIVE Innings. At least they got to an official game before the rain came pouring down; a third of an inch.

It was a contest the Red Sox would like to forget in what turned out to be a forgettable season. In the top of the first Roman Mejias scored all the way from first when Carl Yastrzemski hit a ground ball to short which Wayne Causey threw away, a long way.  Later in the inning Lou Clinton smacked a triple and Yaz scored giving the Sox a 2-0 lead.

A confident Ike Delock took the mound for the Red Sox and quickly learned not to take the A's so lightly. Delock had nothing that night. He walked three of the first four batters he faced before Ed Charles blasted a double to clear the bases and then rode home on another double by Manny Jimenez.  Jack Lamabe came in and got one out before giving up a walk, a single and a double for two more. Chet Nichols got the final out. The A's scored six in the inning and led 6-2. They were not done.
The Sox picked up a run in the second to make it 6-3 which was where the score stayed until the third when Causey, Norm Siebern and that man Charles all drove in a total of five runs making it 11-3 A's. If the rain was going to come the boys from Boston were hoping it would come in droves. It did. Rain delays permeated the game.  It wasn't enough to call it though, at least not yet.

A long rain delay in the fourth kept A's starter Dave Thies off the mound and sent him to the showers. Bill Fischer came in when play resumed. Hal Kolstad had picked up for the three Boston pitchers after the first and continued to pitch the entire game. Sox manager Johnny Pesky must have thought Kolstad needed the work, or the game was out of hand (which it was) or perhaps wanted to see what Kolstad could do. He left him in the rest of the way.

After giving up the five runs in the third, Kolstad gave up a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth before the rains came harder and umpire Larry Napp decided to call the game, mercifully with the A's leading 14-5. Umpires love to make sure the game is official before calling it and perhaps they could have called this one earlier. The Sox wish they would have.

When the dust cleared Ed Charles had driven five with Wayne Causey driving in four more. Kolstad pitched four innings and gave up 8 earned runs on 8 hits while walking three and uncorking a wild pitch. Fischer picked up the win to go 5-0, Delock took the loss and there were NO home runs in the game despite 19 runs scored in five innings. 

The game was indicative of the Red Sox season. They finished 76-85 in seventh place in the American League. The A's finished three games behind Boston in eighth place. The game pretty much marked the beginning of the end for Kolstad. He pitched in all of seven games in 1963 after 27 the previous season. In 1963 he pitched 11 innings, gave up 16 earned runs, including four home runs. He never did win a game in the big leagues, finishing 0-4 in his career.

The end was near for Delock as well. Less than a month later the Red Sox released him and he signed with Baltimore where he started five more games going 1-3 before being released for the final time about a month after being acquired. The right-hander from Highland Park, Michigan finished his career with a mark of 84-75 over 11 seasons. Charles was a key member of the 1969 Mets World Series team. Fischer went on to go 4-6 the rest of the season to finish 9-6. He was lost to the Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 Draft at the end of the season. He had one more decision and his career ended shortly afterwards.

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  1. Photo seems to show Kauffman Stadium, but that didn't open until a decade later.

  2. Yes you are probably correct. I was more interested in just getting a photo of a stadium under a rain delay. I wasn't going for the actual place in that moment. I will make a clarification. Thank you for reading and pointing that out. Bob