TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Dan Taguchi, of Los Angeles, who correctly answered the trivia question about Jim Gentile who played for the Dodgers and who in 1957 made his big league debut with Brooklyn before moving on with the club to Los Angeles. This week a new Trivia Contest. The Prize this week again is a Starbucks Gift Card.
NEW TRIVIA CONTEST: IF YOU ANSWER THE TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO A WEEKLY DRAWING FOR A Starbucks Gift Card. YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN.
TRIVIA QUESTION: In 1963, four of the top five NL Strikeout Leaders were either Dodgers, Giants or Cardinals. The fifth was a Cincinnati Red. Who was he?
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: Jim Gentile played for six different cities and for one team in two different cities. In 1957 he debuted with Brooklyn before moving west with the club to Los Angeles.
The 1963 San Francisco Giants seemed to have everything a contender could want. They cranked out a massive number of home runs, they had solid starting pitching and while the defense was suspect they had some of the best sluggers in the game. And they played well, winning 88 games. They still finished in third place, 11 games back of the pennant winning Dodgers and five back of the Cardinals.
Were the arch rival Dodgers just that much better. The club did win 99 games behind marvelous pitching and good hitting. The answer wasn't in the head to head because they split the 18 games they played against Los Angeles. They were 8-10 with St. Louis and they destroyed the Mets as they were supposed to do winning 12 of 18. In a key statistic they were 33-28 in one-run games. They even played well down the stretch winning nine of their last 14. About a third of the season they were actually in first place, 47 days.
How could a team which powered a league leading 197 home runs with Orlando Cepeda (34), Willie McCovey (44), Willie Mays (38), Ed Baily (21), Felipe Alou (20) and Tom Haller (14) finish out of the money? They even had Harvey Kuenn at .290, while the only weak spots in the batting order were Jose Pagan and Chuck Hiller. At .258 the Giants were second in team batting in the NL.
Starting pitching was solid with Juan Marichal 25-8, Jack Sanford 16-13 and Billy O'Dell 14-10. The key may have been the bullpen which was suspect and unreliable all year. They lacked a closer. No one had more than 7 Saves, and aside from aging Don Larsen (3.05), Jim Duffalo (2.87), and swing man Bobby Bolin (3.28) no pitcher who had more than a cup of coffee with the club had an ERA under 4.00.
They had two bright spots which did not do anything to speak of because their time had not come. Third baseman, 21 year old Jim Ray Hart was up for a while playing in 7 games, and Gaylord Perry was 1-6 in 76 innings at age 24.
The team was not solid defensively, landing 6th of 10 clubs in fielding. Six players committed errors in double figures led by Cepeda's 21 and Pagan's 20.
It all came to an end effectively in June. On June 24th they beat the Cardinals to remain a half game up in the NL. The next two days they dropped games to St. Louis by identical scores of 6-5 to fall out of first place. They never regained that lead and would end the season behind the Redbirds and the hated Dodgers. At the same time the Dodgers went on an 18-4 run taking over first place on July 2nd and never looking back.
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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