Monday, May 23, 2022

Gopher Ball City - The A's of 1964


TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Glenn Schubert of Bradenton, FL, who correctly found it was Bases on Balls which separated Jim Wynn and Rusty Staub in one key statistical category. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Don't forget to put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

Just a note to add; If you look at the top right hand corner of the side bar you will see a link to daily sports scores. We made an agreement with Baseball 24 in a mutual sharing situation. Hope its helpful to fans of several sports.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION:   In what would be his best year ever, which infielder led the 1964 A's in several offensive categories including Batting Average? 
ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column: 
Rusty Staub and Jim Wynn were separated by just 31 Bases on Balls.

When a team loses 105 games there are a lot of facets to look at but when it comes to the 1964 Kansas City Athletics you only need to look as far as the single pitch known as the "gopher ball." The home run delivered by a pitcher and for the A's of 1964, there were plenty of them.

To be fair, the A's didn't hit either. They only batted .239 as a team but did collect 166 home runs from the hitters (third in the AL), scoring 3.8 runs a game. However, when it came to giving up those home runs, A's pitchers allowed 220 for last in the 10 team American League. Coincidentally, it's where the club finished in 1964; last. The clubs 4.71 ERA also ranked 10th.

          (At least the A's of 1964 & 65 had Charlie O. This Charlie O.)

When a pitcher gives up one home run every nine innings it's considered on the cusp. For A's pitchers in 1964, it was very, very bad. Leading the way was ace Orlando Pena who pitched 219 innings and finished 12-14. However, in those 219 innings he allowed an amazing 40 home runs to opposing batters. That is 1.6 homers per nine innings.  
He wasn't alone. Diego Segui gave up 30 in 213 innings, John O'Donoghue 24 in 173 innings, John Wyatt 23 in 128, Moe Drabowsky 24 in 168, Dan Pfister 10 in 41, Vern Handrahan 9 in 33, Aurelio Monteagudo 11 in 31, Blue Moon Odom 5 in 31, Jack Aker 6 in 16 and the team allowed an astounding 1.4 per nine innings. 
Ted Bowsfield, Wes Stock and Jose Santiago defied the odds and were all at 1.0 per nine innings or less. The damage was already done by the time these three got into the game. When your top three starters give up almost 100 home runs in 600 innings, you are not going very far. At least you didn't in 1964. Either way it was not enough to offset the 34 hit by Rocky Colavito or the 28 belted by Jim Gentile.

The situation improved a year later. In 1965 the homers the pitching staff allowed dropped from 220 to 161 with Fred Talbot leading the way. He only gave up 25 in 198 innings and the team average of 1.0 was right where it needed to be. It still wasn't great and only good for 9th in the AL. The team ERA did improve to 4.24. When you only score 3.6 runs per game, you are going to lose more than you win.

The hitting didn't improve and actually dropped substantially. With Colavito gone and Gentile limited to 10 homers in 38 games, Hawk Harrelson led the team with 23. The club hit 110 for 10th in the American League. Not surprisingly, Kansas City again finished in 10th place but only lost 103 compared to 105 the previous season. They were 43 games back of pennant winning Minnesota while in 1964 they finished 42 back of the Yankees.

TRIVIA CONTEST; After reading this column you can enter the weekly trivia contest for a chance to win a Starbucks Gift Card. Enter via the following email. Send 1) your answer to the trivia question at the top of the column, 2) your name, address and email so where we know where to send the card if you win 3) any comment you have on the column. One winner will be selected at random each week based on correct answers with the odds being based on the number of correct entries.  Please cut and paste or enter the following email into your email system.
                             SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO;  
Need to get out of a baseball hitting slump, or a golf swing slump? Order my new book  An athlete's guide to a better career." . 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."Beating the Slump;See it on Amazon for only $5.99

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 or contact us at the same email for other payment. 

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

No comments:

Post a Comment