Showing posts with label Pittsburgh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pittsburgh. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Jim Bunning = 4 X 19

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Nils Westholm, of Springfield, IL, who correctly identified Buzzie Bavasi as the General Manager of the San Diego Padres in 1969 when the team came into existence. The Prize this week: Starbucks Gift Card.

TRIVIA QUESTION: The Pittsburgh Pirates sent two future All-Stars to the Phillies in what turned  out to be an ill-fated trade for Jim Bunning. Who were those two players? 
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: Buzzie Bavasi was the GM of the new San Diego Padres in 1969 and his son Peter was the Scouting Director on a team loaded with former Dodger players and execs

Few pitchers in baseball history can make the claims Jim Bunning could. The future US Senator from Kentucky and baseball Hall of Famer was one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1960s. He never 20 twenty games during the decade; he did that in 1957 (20-8). He did however have four years out of five where he came as close as a pitcher can ever come; four times in five years he won 19 games. The saddest mark coming in the final stretch of 1964 (see final paragraph below).
                                (Jim Bunning's Perfect Game Final Out - K)
Bunning was an amazing pillar of consistency. From 1960-69 he only failed to win in double figures once which turned out to be the worst season of his career. It was the year the Pirates, looking to bolster a sagging starting staff to back it's Lumber Company powerhouse, acquired Bunning for four players. Bunning left them cold with injuries and was 4-14 in his only full year in Pittsburgh. The Bucs shipped him off to the Dodgers in mid-1969 where he ended with a 13-10 record.

In the 1960's he averaged 259 innings a season, 15 wins, with an ERA mostly in the 2.60 range and strong WHIP. In 1962 he was 19-10 with the Tigers. Two  years later the Phillies acquired Bunning and from 1964-1966 he was one of the top right-handers in the big leagues. In those three years he was 57-31 and his WHIP was an amazing 1.03 (approximate), winning 19 games each season.
Bunning struck out 739 batters and walked only 163, in 889 innings. He was an intimidator, leading the league four times in Hit Batsman. He plunked 45 in those three years. It wasn't as if Bunning was wild. He was calculated, pitching inside. He had amazing control while at the same time leading the league in hitting batters was pretty much "I own the plate, don't even try it." The fact he is 13th All Time in hitting batters while striking out nearly three times as many batters as he walked, showed how hitters respected Bunning, or were forced to.

Known for throwing no-hitters in each league, Bunning was dominant pretty much through all of his career. The seven time all-star spent 17 seasons in the big leagues. He finished with 224 wins and 184 losses. A total of 51 of those losses came in his final four seasons as he was playing out the string and hanging on. He still managed to 32 games during that stretch. So if you were to discount those final four years he'd have finished 192-133, or 59 wins over the .500 mark.
                                                    (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
Did we forget to mention he was an outstanding fielding pitcher who four times led his league in fielding his position? In a key modern day statistic, eight times he finished in the top 10 at his position in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and is 196th overall in the category. On top of that he served six terms in the United States Congress and Two terms in the US Senate. Bunning, who died in 2017, is the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to serve in the Senate.

Unfortunately, he never got a taste of the post season. The year he came closest was the 1964 Phillies collapse. In that stretch, Bunning won no. 18 but the Phils dropped the next 10 games (three losses going to Bunning) before Bunning won his 19th on the final day of the season and the Cardinals captured the NL title.
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.
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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The New Stadiums of the 1960's

TRIVIA QUESTION: What was the cost of Dodgers Stadium when it was built?  

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:When the 1967 Angels acquired Don Mincher they also picked up 1B/OF Len Gabrielson for insurance. He only played in a few games before being shipped across town to the Dodgers for the Super Minor Leaguer of the Century, Johnny Werhas. Werhas played half of his major league career in 1967 for the Angels, finishing with a lifetime record of 198 AB's, two homers and .173 BA in 89 career games. Gabrielson would have a couple of his best years with the Dodgers before finally retiring after the 1970 season.

In case you were counting there were a total of 11 new Major League Baseball Stadiums making their debuts in the 1960's. It seems pretty remarkable when you consider until 1960, there were only 16 big league teams in existence. Granted, of the 11, five were built directly for their new expansion teams, three were built as those expansion teams grew older and more profitable, and three were built for teams who moved from other cities. Only one, Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis was for a long term existing team.
                                                                (Busch Memorial)
New stadiums needed to be constructed for expansion teams. Colt Stadium was the place debuting for the Houston Colt .45's while Jarry Park became the new home of the Montreal Expos. The expansion San Diego Padres played their home games in Jack Murphy Stadium.
                                                                   (Dodgers Stadium 1962)
When the Braves fled Milwaukee for Atlanta the new park was Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium. The Giants saw the opening of "the Stick" which was Candlestick in San Francisco a couple of seasons after leaving New York. Dodgers Stadium broke ground in 1959 after the team moved from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The club occupied the new ballpark starting in 1962.

It would be a couple seasons before the expansion Mets moved into newly constructed Shea Stadium and then came the ninth Wonder of the World; The Houston Astrodome in 1965 for the Astro's who changed their name from the Colt .45's. 

                                                                  (Shea Stadium 1964)
The situation with Robert F. Kennedy Stadium (RFK) in Washington and Texas Arlington is a little convoluted. The original Senators moved to Minnesota, so the new Senators, an expansion team, moved into the new DC Stadium (later named RFK after Kennedy's assassination). They stayed there until they moved from Washington to become the Texas Rangers in Arlington. While the Rangers did not come into existence until the 1970's, the stadium was actually built in the 1960's, so we must include it in the list. The new Washington Nationals would eventually play at RFK decades later. 

There were a lot of firsts. The biggest of which was the first indoor domed stadium; the Astrodome. It was the kind of stadium the Dodgers Walter O'Malley wanted to build in Brooklyn and which would have kept the Dodgers in New York. When he couldn't get it, it sealed the deal to moved to Los Angeles. 
                                                                     (Houston Astrodome)
The Astrodome truly was a wonder. It opened the door to something new; synthetic turf or Astoturf due to the lack of sunlight.  But you could play without the mosquitoes which plagued Colt Stadium, and you could actually play in rain and cold weather. Below is a list of stadiums opened in the 1960s.

Atlanta Fulton County
Colt 1962
Jarry Park 
Shea 1964
Busch Memorial 1966
Jack Murphy 1967
Candlestick 1960
RFK 1961
Dodgers Stadium 1962

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. It has been appreciated. You can click on the link above (my childhood photo) to see how to purchase this book; "Tales of My Baseball Youth; a child of the 60's."

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