Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Wierdest Trade Perhaps EVER!

TRIVIA QUESTION: In the season following the trade discussed in this column, where did the White Sox and A's finish in the 1965 standings?

When Houston got its first major league team in 1962 they were the Colt .45's and played in Colts Stadium, which was known for having the biggest mosquitoes in the big leagues.

Baseball is a rather bizarre sport since like Forest Gump said when it came to a box of chocolates; "You never know what you're gonna get." That's like a paraphrase but it's true. Such was the case in January/February, 1965. Three teams were involved in a rather strange trade which would have implications far down the road.

The 1964 season finished with the White Sox in second place behind New York by one game, recording a total of 98 wins. They were hoping to push themselves over the top in 1965 as the Yankees were aging and would play in their last World Series (1964) until 1976.

The Indians finished four games under .500 in seventh place with just 79 wins and the Athletics closed out their season in Kansas City with 105 losses in last place. The A's were a fairly young ball club with potential while the Indians were a mixed bag led by Sam McDowell, Fred Whitfield, Larry Brown, Chico Salmon and a smattering of other players. Chicago was old. Led by 41 year old Hoyt Wilhelm they had 10 other players on the roster past 30.

In January 1965 the three teams pulled off a trade. The Sox sent outfielders Mike Hershberger and Jim Landis (a pair of defensive standouts) to the A's along with a Player to be Named Later. The player turned out to be pitcher Fred Talbot. Then they traded catcher Cam Carreon to the Indians. The Indians sent young center-fielder Tommie Agee, pitcher Tommy John and catcher John Romano to Chicago. In return, Kansas City shipped slugging outfielder Rocky Colavito to Cleveland.

Now if you followed all of that you probably realized there were some pretty big names there along with Cam Carreon. Carreon would play eight seasons in the big leagues hitting .264 with 11 home runs. He was out of baseball two years after the trade. He would die at the age of 50 and is buried in Colton, CA.
Landis was an outstanding defensive outfielder whose best years were clearly behind him. He would only play a couple more years, never batting better than .237. His best season was 1961 when he belted 22 home runs and hit .283. Hershberger, another defensive stalwart, retired in 1971 with a .252 lifetime average and 26 home runs.

Talbot had two decent seasons as a starter winning 10 games in 1965 and 11 the following year when midway through the season, the A's traded him to the Yankees in the deal which brought Roger Repoz to KC. He finished his career 38-56.

The other players went on to better careers. Romano's best years were also behind him but in the following two seasons with the Sox he did hit 33 homers before ending up in St. Louis where he was released after just 24 games. Colavito too had seen better days. In 1965 he led the league in RBI in leading the Indians to a fifth place finish. He played in all 162 games, banged 26 homers and hit .287 while finishing fifth in the MVP voting. He also made the AL All Star Team. The following year he hit 30 homers but his batting average dropped to .238 and he was sent packing, playing for three other teams in a minor role. He retired after playing in 39 games for the Yankees in 1968.

In 1966 Agee was named AL Rookie of the Year when he hit 22 home runs and played outstanding defensively in center. Of course his biggest years came with the Mets when he led the Amazin's to the World Series title in 1969, batting .357 in the Series. It was the White Sox who dealt him to New York. That was another strange trade; Traded by the Chicago White Sox with Al Weis to the New York Mets for Buddy Booker, Tommy Davis, Jack Fisher and Billy Wynne.

All Agee did in his career was bang out 999 hits and in 1979 was named to the New York Mets's Hall of Fame. He won a second gold glove as well.

Probably the most notable player in that trade however was Tommy John. Known to young pitchers today as the guy they get a surgery, which is named after the lefty, John's career after the trade was top notch. Over the next seven years in Chicago he won 82 games. After a 13-16 campaign he was traded to the Dodgers after the 1971 season along with Steve Huntz for Dick Allen. Allen had worn out his welcome in Los Angeles and the Dodgers needed a lefty pitcher. He did not disappoint.

In his next six seasons he won 87 games including a 20-7 record in 1977. He sat out the 1975 campaign with his "Tommy John Surgery." It was a surgery performed first by Los Angeles physician Dr. Frank Jobe and replaces a ligament with a tendon from another part of the body.

In 1978 he helped the Dodgers win the NL pennant and he beat the Yankees in Game One of the World Series, eventually won by New York in six games. At the end of the season he was granted Free Agency and signed with the Yankees. He promptly won 21 and 22 games the next two seasons.

In 1981 the Yankees and Dodgers squared off again in the Series and there was John pitching for New York. He won game Two in a 3-0 shut out with the help of closer Rich Gossage. He would go on to win in double figures four more times, including 13 wins for the Angels at age 44. He finally retired his surgically repaired left arm after the 1989 season at the age of 46. He had gone back to the Yankees who released him before the 1990 season.

He logged 288 wins in a career which spanned an unheard of 26 seasons. Despite losing 231 games, he finished second in the Cy Young voting twice. Yes, Tommy John is more than just a surgery, he was a pitcher of surgical precision.  John never did make the Hall of Fame, finishing with his best percentage, 31% in his final year of eligibility; 2009.

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


TRIVIA QUESTION: What was the name of the ballpark where the Houston Colt .45's (later the Astros) played when they came into the National League in 1962? .

When Mudcat Grant was sent to the Dodgers the deal went like this; Traded by the Minnesota Twins with Zoilo Versalles to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Bob Miller, Ron Perranoski and John Roseboro.

Since this is 2017 World Series Week, we'll be taking a look at the matching World Series games of the 1960's. Each of the blogs will deal with a corresponding game where possible. This blog deals with the seventh game of the 1967 series.

                                                                  1967 (Game Seven)
                                                                  St. Louis at Boston
                                                               Cardinals 7, Red Sox 2

 To say it was Bob Gibson's World Series is to underscore it with understatement. The Cardinals won 101 games in 1967 and Gibson won only 13, but it was in the World Series where he would shine. The 13-7 record in the regular season rates a remark here; Gibson was 10-6 when on July 15th Roberto Clemente smashed a line drive off Gibson's leg. The leg was broken but Gibson finished the inning, remarkably. He would come back toward the end of the season and pick up the final three wins.

However, it was in the World Series where he would shine. In Game One he would win 2-1 on a six hitter while striking out 10. In Game Four he tossed a five-hit shutout. When he took the mound in Game Seven, the Red Sox were hoping they would see a different Bob Gibson. They were wrong. 

Gibson squared off against 22-game winner Jim Lonborg who would also pick up the Cy Young Award. Batting third in the Red Sox line-up was Carl Yastrzemski who won the Triple Crown. Yaz hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBI, leading the AL in most offensive categories. The Cards were led by a rejuvenated Roger Maris, a slugging Orlando Cepeda, speedy Lou Brock and Curt Flood. It was the first of two consecutive World Series appearances for the Cardinals. They were back in 1968.

Neither team could mount anything through three. When the fourth inning rolled around the Cardinals were ready. Light hitting Dal Maxvill led off with a triple and with two out scored on a Flood single, 1-0 St. Louis. Maris singled with Flood taking third and he scored when Lonborg uncorked a wild pitch. Cards led 2-0.

The game continued scoreless for the next two innings as Lonborg was matching Gibson, pitch for pitch. Then it was pitch for pitcher. With one out in the fifth Gibson, an outstanding hitting pitcher, took Lonborg deep to make it 3-0. Brock followed with a single. He then stole second and third and rode home on a sac fly by Maris to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead behind Gibson. 

The Red Sox finally broke through in the bottom of the inning when George Scott tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly. But the roof caved in on the Sox in the sixth when Tim McCarver doubled, Mike Shannon got aboard when his ground ball to second was booted by Mike Andrews and Julian Javier followed with a three run homer. That made it 7-1 St. Louis and while the Sox would score one more in the eighth, it was too much Bob Gibson to overcome.

When the dust settled Gibby had pitched a three-hitter, allowing two earned runs and struck out 10. It was his third victory in the Series and earned him his second World Series MVP (1964 was the other). For the record Gibson pitched 27 innings, 3 complete games and struck out 26 batters while allowing only 14 hits, five walks and a measly three total runs. He also homered. 

Yes, it was Bob Gibson's World Series on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

World Series Game #6

TRIVIA QUESTION: Name the former AL MVP who was traded with Mudcat Grant to the Dodgers.

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  When the New York Yankees traded reliever Pete Mikkelson to the Pirates at the close of the 1965 season they got aging pitcher Bob Friend, a life long Pirate in return. Friend didn't fair well with the Yankees and finished his career with the cross town Mets. 

Since this is 2017 World Series Week, we'll be taking a look at the matching World Series games of the 1960's. Each of the next eight blogs will deal with a corresponding game where possible. This blog deals with the sixth game of the 1965 series while the next will deal with Game 7 of the 1967 series because there was no Game 7 in 1966. If the 2017 series is shorter than seven games we'll continue the series on here.

                                                   1965 (Game Six)
                                           Los Angeles at Minnesota 
                                                Twins 5, Dodgers 2

It was a game the AL Champion Minnesota Twins had to win to force a seventh and final game at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They knew, even if they won they would be facing the most dominant pitcher in the last five years in Sandy Koufax in the deciding game. They went with their ace, Jim "Mudcat" Grant. 

Grant had a break out year and his best in the big leagues. He paced the Twins with 21 wins and only seven losses, pitching six shut-outs along the way. He walked only 61 batters in 270 innings and despite giving up a league leading 34 homers, completed 14 of his 39 starts. Grant bested Don Drysdale in game one throwing a complete game in an 8-2 win. This time he would square off against lefty Claude Osteen.

The Twins started the scoring when after Earl Battey reached on an error on a ground ball to second, Bobby Allison smashed a homer deep to left. Grant didn't allow a base runner through four, until Ron Fairly singled in the top of the fifth. Los Angeles threatened in the sixth when singles by Dick Tracewski and Maury Wills put runners at first and second. Grant got Jim Gilliam and Willie Davis to end the inning. 

The game was pretty much put out of reach however, by Grant himself. In the bottom of the inning with one out Allison walked and stole second. After Don Mincher struck out, manager Walter Alston chose to intentionally walk the light hitting Frank Quilici to get to the Mudcat. Bad mistake for which Grant made them pay. Grant smashed a deep drive over the left centerfield fench which Willie Davis could not reach and the Twins had a 5-0 lead.

Farily led off the seventh with a solo shot of his own, but that was it. Grant would retire the next 10 of 12 batters he faced and the Twins would face Koufax in Game Seven. Sandy was even more masterful than Grant, tossing a three hit shutout, striking out 10 Twins in the process.

Lou Johnson's two run homer in the fourth knocked Jim Kaat out. It was Sweet Lou's second homer of the series. He only hit 12 during the regular season. Koufax was named MVP winning two games but the Mudcat wasn't far behind. Both pitchers finished 2-1 but Koufax won Game 7 in grand fashion. He would go on to have one more great year before retiring early, and Grant would fall to 13-13 the following year, never again winning in double figures.

Late in his career, Grant became a fine relief pitcher, starting with his only year as a Dodger in 1968 at age 32.

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

World Series Game #5

TRIVIA QUESTION: In 1965 the Yankees traded Pete Mikkelson to the Pirates who turned him into an ace reliever for the 1966 season. Who did New York get in return?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN:  I have a correction for last blog's Trivia Question. Mickey Mantle hit three home runs in a World Series three times, not twice. He did it in 1956, 1960 and 1964 which was his final World Series. Sorry about that. I'll try to be more diligent next time.

Since this is 2017 World Series Week, we'll be taking a look at the matching World Series games of the 1960's. Each of the next eight blogs will deal with a corresponding game where possible. This blog deals with the fifth game of the 1964 series while the next will deal with Game 6 of the 1965 series and so on. If the 2017 series is shorter than seven games we'll continue the series on here.

                                                   1964 (Game Five)
                                               St. Louis at New York 

Game Five of the 1964 World Series was like all Game Fives, pivotal. The two teams were tied at two games apiece and if New York won Game Five, they would be going back to St. Louis with a 3 games to 2 lead and two left at Busch Stadium. St. Louis knew it needed this one badly and handed the ball to ace Bob Gibson to do his best. He did not fail them.

Gibson won 19 games in 1964 striking out 245 batter in 287 innings. His 1.19 WHiP was a prelude of things to come. At 28 years old he still had not reached his prime. He was the ace of a staff which included 18 game winner Curt Simmons and 20 game winner Ray Sadecki. If you ever needed to call on someone to be "that guy," it was Gibson.

In game Two, Gibson gave up four runs in eight innings and left trailing 4-3 when the Yankees scored four in the ninth off relievers to nail down the win. This time there was no stopping Gibby who was squaring off against 22 year old starter, Mel Stottlemyre again.  He was a nine game winner with a 2.06 ERA and was behind Whitey Ford, Jim Bouton and Al Downing in the rotation. Bouton won 18 that year to lead the staff. Stottlemyre drew Gibson for a second time. The first time they squared off, Mel went the distance for the win.

The game was scoreless until the fifth when Gibson, a good hitting pitcher, singled with one out. Curt Flood hit a ground ball to second which Bobby Richardson booted for an error leaving runners at first and second. Lou Brock singled to right scoring Gibson with the first run of the game. Flood took third. Bill White then hit a ground ball which forced Brock at second, scoring Flood. Cardinals 2, New York 0.

New York didn't mount even a threat until the ninth when the Cards were trying wrap it up. Mantle led off with a ground ball to shortstop Dick Groat which went for an error. Two outs later Tom Tresh got hold of a pitch from Gibson and sent it over the right center field wall. With the score tied 2-2, they went into extra innings and Gibson went with them. It should have been a 2-0 shutout.

 In the top of the 10th Bill White drew a walk off reliever Pete Mikkelson. Ken Boyer laid down a bunt and Mikkelson didn't handle it cleanly and it went for a single.With Groat at the plate White stole third. Groat then hit a ground ball to third baseman Clete Boyer who held White and threw to second for the force out on Boyer. Tim McCarver, who batted .478 in the series then cranked a home run to deep right scoring both White and Groat and that was that. New York managed a single off Gibson in the bottom of the tenth, and St. Louis had a 5-2 victory. It was off to Busch Stadium for Games six and seven. 

Bouton would pick up his second win in Game Six but Gibson again would out duel Stottlemyre in Game Seven to win his second game against one defeat, pitching a nifty nine-hitter 7-5.

For Gibson it would only be a highlight because when he took the mound four years later in the 1968 World Series against Detroit he would set a World Series record for strikeouts in a game with 17.  Bob Gibson was a monster on the mound. Not only did he win 251 games including five 20-win seasons, he also was 7-2 in the World Series. In a 1968 game he took a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente which actually broke Gibson's leg. He continued to pitch and finish out the inning. He was tough. 

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

World Series Game #4

TRIVIA QUESTION: Mickey Mantle hit 18 home runs in the World Series. Twice he would belt three in a single series. Name both the World Series where he hit three homers?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: 1963 and 1964 the very next two years the Yankees made it to the Series but lost. It wasn't until 1976 when they appeared again. After that, starting in 1965 other teams began to dominate and the Yankees were continually rebuilding. The players who had built the dynasty became broadcasters and managers, retiring from the field of play (i.e. Berra and Kubek among them).

Since this is 2017 World Series Week, we'll be taking a look at the matching World Series games of the 1960's. Each of the next eight blogs will deal with a corresponding game where possible. This blog deals with the fourth game of the 1963 series while the next will deal with Game 5 of the 1964 series and so on. If the 2017 series is shorter than seven games we'll continue the series on here.

                                                   1963 (Game Four)
                                             New York at Los Angeles

The reason Game Four of the 1963 World Series was so important was it marked the first time the New York Yankees had ever been swept in a four game series in the history of the game. In 1922 they were swept  by the Giants, sort of. One of the games ended in a tie which meant they actually played five games.

If ever there was a sign the Yankees were aging and the dominance which started in the 1950's was over, it was this series.  New York had only scored three runs in the first three games against the pitching heavy Dodgers who themselves would only score a total of 12 runs in the four game set. 

Los Angeles was led by great starting pitching of Sandy Koufax who was 25-5 with an unheard of 1.88 ERA, and Don Drysdale who despite a record of 19-17 registered a 2.63 ERA. An old Johnny Podres won 14 more and between the big three they completed 47 games. Throw in Ron Perranoski with his 16 wins and 21 saves and you have a pitching staff which held New York to just four runs in four games. Unheard of. 

Koufax won the first game and Podres the second with Drysdale tossing a shutout in Game Three. New York drew the unenviable task of facing down Koufax again in Game Four.  He was up the task pitching on three games rest and one travel day. Remember this was the 1960's when that was the norm rather than the exception. Koufax squared off against Whitey Ford in a battle of lefties.

Ford fell to Koufax in Game One and was coming of his second 20 plus game winning season. He was 24-7 in 1963 and was definitely on his game this time. Ford had only allowed a single to slugger Frank Howard in the second inning when he came up against Howard again in the 5th. Howard took him deep to left and into the left field bleachers at Dodgers Stadium for a home run to put Los Angeles up 1-0. It was the only other hit Ford allowed and the only earned run.

Koufax was matching Ford pitch for pitch. Through six, he only allowed a single and a double and was well on his way to an eight strikeout game when Mickey Mantle came up with one out in the seventh. Batting right handed Mantle would hit the 15th home run in his World Series career. A solo shot to tie the game at 1-1.

The bottom of the seventh however was where this game came home to roost. Jim Gilliam led off the inning with a ground ball to the normally sure handed and gold glove third baseman, Clete Boyer. Boyer's throw to first was good but first baseman Joe Pepitone misplayed it and it went down the right field line. The speedy Gilliam raced all the way around to third. Willie Davis then hit a flyball to his counterpart in center field. Mantle made the catch but Gilliam scored the go ahead run. 

Koufax began to tire but still had enough left in the tank as manager Walter Alston chose to leave his lefty in. In the ninth New York mounted what was their last hope. A lead off single by second baseman Bobby Richardson got things started. Koufax would not be denied, catching both Tom Tresh and Mantle looking at third strikes before Elston Howard hit a ground ball to short which Maury Wills handled for the force out at second, but Dick Tracewski mishandled for an error. With runners on first and second and two out, Hector Lopez bounced a ball to Wills who went across the diamond to Bill Skowron at first for the final out and the Dodgers were World Champions.

 To say it was Dodger pitching which won this series is an understatement. While Los Angeles had only 25 hits, the Yanks were held to 22 and only four runs in four games. So dominant were the Dodger starters, the bullpen pitched only 2/3 of an inning in the entire series. Koufax completed two games, Drysdale one and Perranoski's lone appearance came in relief of Podres.

New York batted a dismal .171 while the Dodgers only hit .214. Elston Howard led NY with five hits, Tommy Davis had six for the Dodgers and Bill Skowron, now playing for LA also had five.  It was Moose's only season in Los Angeles for the Dodgers.

The fielding was awesome as well with only three errors made by the Dodgers and one by New York, but the one was most costly. It allowed the winning run to score in a 2-1 World Series clincher in front of 55,000 fans at Dodgers Stadium.

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon


Friday, October 27, 2017

World Series Game #3 NYY Dynasty

TRIVIA QUESTION: While the Yankees didn't win a World Series between 1962 and 1976, they did play in some. How many losing appearances did the Yankees make during that time?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: The only two regular starters in the line up of the 1961 Yankees who failed to hit home runs in double digits were the middle infielders. Bobby Richards hit three homers and Tony Kubek blasted eight. Everyone else hit at least 11 with Maris topping out at 61.

Since this is 2017 World Series Week, we'll be taking a look at the matching World Series games of the 1960's. Each of the next eight blogs will deal with a corresponding game where possible. This blog deals with the third game of the 1962 series while the next will deal with Game 4 of the 1963 series and so on. If the 2017 series is shorter than seven games we'll continue the series on here.

                                                        1962 (Game Three)
                                       San Francisco at the New York Yankees

Some liken it to the beginning of the end of an era. This particular game was in the middle of that final World Series for the Yankees for a decade to come.
It often times comes down to one big inning and the 1962 World Series followed the exact same scenario in Game Three. Each team had won a game and by the time the Series moved to New York, it was anybody's contest. The Yankees won the first game 6-2 while the Giants took the second 2-0. Game three was a face off between two good but not outstanding pitchers.

For New York it was Bill Stafford. It seems he was always around the series back then. Coming off a pair of 14 win seasons he was perfect to start the third game of the Fall Classic. He was going up against Billy Pierce. Pierce had won 16 against six losses and was coming off his final good year. Two years later he would be out of baseball with 211 wins in a career which spanned two decades and saw him twice win 20 games with the White Sox.

In this game he looked solid for six innings. Then in the seventh a lead off single by Tom Tresh was followed by another single by Mickey Mantle with Tresh advancing to third on an error by left fielder Felipe Alou. When Roger Maris singled home Tresh Mantle went to third When Willie McCovery mishandled the ball in right field, Maris heading into second. 

Don Larsen, the aging one, came into face Elston Howard who lift a flyball to Willie Mays in Center and everybody moved up 90 feet. Larsen hit Moose Skowron putting runners at first and third. Clete Boyer hit a gronder to short and got the out at second but could not complete the double play. Maris came home with the unearned run; number three. Stafford grounded out to end  the inning but the damage was done.

Stafford held his own until the ninth when Mays led off with a double and two batters later Ed Bailey sent one over the wall in deep right field. But that was all the Giants got and Stafford closed them out 3-2 finishing with a brilliant 4-hitter, walking two and striking out Five.

The two teams took it to seven games where a double play ball by Tony Kubek drove in Moose Skowron for the only run of the game and the Yankees took game 7, 1-0.  Ralph Terry pitching a masterful 4-hit shutout and didn't walk a batter. 

It was probably one of the quietest World Series in modern history and the last the Yankees would win until 1976. It was the end of the Dynasty of the period and the beginning of a free for all of teams claiming the be the Kings of Baseball.

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon