Monday, March 6, 2023

The Rock & The Stick Pitch Mixed


TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Tim Nathan, of Madison Heights, MIC, who correctly identified Mickey Lolich as the World Series home run hitting pitcher who had a ridiculously high ERA the seasons before. 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.

ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column:  The answer to last weeks trivia question is Mickey Lolich. 

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Against what team did Indians outfielder Rocky Colavito pitch in 1958?

Every once in a while fans are treated (well treated may be a little strong) to a fielder who gets to pitch in the big leagues. A blow out game, too many double headers, an overworked relief staff can all be contributing factors. However, in late August, 1968 Yankee fans saw double. Both outfielder Rocky Colavito and shortstop Gene Michael pitched in back to back games. 

For Yankee manager Ralph Houk, the excuse was too many double headers. From August 23-30, New York would play five double headers, or 13 games in about a week! That would screw up any pitching staff. So when things got out of hand, or so Houk thought, on the 25th of August The Rock was called on to pitch.

When starter Steve Barber couldn't get out of the fourth inning trailing 5-0 to the Tigers, Colavito came in with runners on first and second and one out. Facing the heart of the Tiger's order, he got HOFer Al Kaline to ground out and Willie Horton to fly out to end the rally. Over the next two innings he allowed just a walk and a hit but no runs. 

In the sixth the roof caved in on the Tigers' Pat Dobson. The Yanks scored five runs including one by Colavito who had a hit in the inning. Since the club had scored one in the 4th, they now led the Tigers 6-5. Dooley Womack and Lindy McDaniel came in to shut them down. Colavito walked away with a win. 6-5.  

The next day Michael the light hitting shortstop who would later become the club's GM, was called on as well. Houk was hoping for similar results but it wasn't to be. Trailing 5-1 to the Angels, Houk decided Al Downing had had enough. It started well as Michael (nicknamed "the Stick" because he was so thin) had a 1-2-3 inning striking out pitch Jim McGlothlin in the process.

The eighth inning was not so kind. An error, a hit batter, a pair of doubles and two singles later, five runs had scored and it was 10-1 Angels. He mercifully got out of it and pitched a scoreless ninth striking out Rich Riechardt in the process.  In the big inning McGlothlin got revenge banging one of those doubles. Michael did go 1-1 in the game himself to raise his BA to .194. Colavito played the outfield.

That was the end of Michael's pitching career.  Colavito had actually pitched once before in 1958. He tossed three scoreless, hitless innings to close out a game for the Indians. So in two appearances spread over 10 years Colavito never gave up a run in almost six innings. Before he signed with the Pirates, Michael was offered an NBA contract but turned it down. He said as a player it was his biggest mistake.

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