Sunday, April 21, 2024

Angels Blast from Day One - 1961


TRIVIA WINNER: The answer to last weeks question was actually in the story; Charley Smith and most of you got it. The Prize: 20 points toward the person's total.

NEW TWIST: Trivia questions starting this week will encompass the whole of MLB and not just the 1960s meaning you might get a question from the dead ball era or yesterday.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST: You will still be required to enter the drawing as usual. However,  through the end of 2024 you will get points depending on the complexity of the questions. Enter each week and correct answers will get those points-one guess per person per week. The reader with the most points after the years final column will get a $50 Starbucks Gift Card. Ties will be placed into a drawing. Questions will be worth anywhere from 10-25 points depending on degree of difficulty. Questions will be more difficult as the year goes on, so you are never really out of the mix. Tell your friends and sports fans who like trivia. We will keep track of your points. - YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION: It's no surprise that during the dead ball era pitchers often lost 20 games more than once. In his 12 year career in the big leagues, this pitcher won 20 or more games four times, but he lost 20 or more games five times. In fact of his 159 losses 102 came in just five years. Who was this guy with the funny name?  Answer is worth 75 POINTS.

 The Los Angeles Angels got off to a rip roaring start in 1961, winning their first game against the Orioles 7-2, but then dropped eight straight. That first game was filled with really cool milestones. With two out in the first inning and Albie Pearson on base via a walk, the aging yet still powerful Ted Kluszewski hammered a homer for the Angels first ever hit and a 2-0 lead. Bob Cerv followed with another home run off Milt Pappas to make it 3-0. 

After the O's scoreless first frame, the Halo's came pounding back as a wild Pappas had constant trouble. After walks to Del Rice and Eddie Yost, Pearson singled to make it 4-0. That was it for Pappas. In came John Papa. Then Kluszewski came through again with a 2-out, 3-run blast to give Los Angeles a 7-0 lead. Klu, the former Reds slugger was perfect on the season with 5 RBI. 

The rest of the game was anti-climatic. Klu got out two more times and Eli Grba went the distance for the first ever start and complete game as an Angel. Grba gave up six hits, two runs but only one earned, while striking out five and walking four on 121 pitches. 

The Angels would go on to a 70-91 eighth place finish. It was the 36 year old Kluszewski's final season in the big leagues. He played in 107 games, batting 290 times, cracking 15 homers and batting .243 while driving in 39 runs. Five of those came on Opening Day. His best seasons were 1953-54-55 when he belted 136 homers, leading the league in 1954 with 49 and 141 RBI. Grba finished 11-13 that season and won 28 games in his five year career. Of those 24 were with the Angels. Kluszewski died in 1988 at age 63, Grba passed away at age 84 in 2019.

TRIVIA CONTEST; 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 the end of the calender year based on the total points acquired via weekly contests.

I've written more than a dozen books including at least two sports books. You can find these at my Amazon page or at my own website Please take a look at the sports books, the western novel series or the "Tattoo Murder," which is a crime book set in Ventura, CA.

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