When Fred Haney took over the Milwaukee Braves’ reins from Charlie Grimm on June 17, 1956, the former Pittsburgh Pirates skipper must have thought he had died and gone to heaven. What a starting rotation Haney had to chose from: Warren Spahn (20-11), Lew Burdette (19-10) and Bob Buhl (18-8). The fourth and fifth starters, Ray Crone and Gene Conley were not as outstanding but could be counted on to turn in solid outings.
Haney’s starting lineup included Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Bill Bruton and one of the most feared batters of his era, Joe Adcock. The first games Haney managed were a doubleheader in Ebbets Field against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although Grimm started the Braves off with a lackluster 22-24 record, when Haney took over Milwaukee was locked in a season long, fierce first place battle with the Dodgers.
Haney immediately ended Grimm’s practice of platooning the right handed Adcock and inserted his name in both ends of the double dip against Carl Erskine and Don Newcombe.
In the first game, Adcock blasted two homers, one off Erskine and a second game winning, ninth inning smash off relief pitcher Ed Roebuck that landed after clearing the 83-foot left field wall. Adcock was the only slugger to accomplish this feat. In the nightcap, Adcock touched up Newcombe for this third home run of the afternoon.
Adcock’s line for the day: AB: 7; R: 3; H: 4, RBIs: 4.
Brooklyn fans remember, with dismay, how Adcock feasted on Dodger pitching. On July 31, 1954, Adcock accomplished the rare feat of homering four times in a single game, against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, and set a new record for most total bases in a game (18) that stood until broken by Shawn Green in 2002.
Although he ended his career with more than respectable stats, (.277 batting average, 336 home runs and 1,122 RBIs, Adcock’s more famous teammates and other slugging National League slugging first basemen like Ted Kluszewski and Gil Hodges overshadowed him.
In addition to the Braves, Adcock played for the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels. A two-time All Star selection, Adcock was a part of the 1957 World Series winning Braves.
After an unsuccessful one year stint managing the Indians and two more years managing in the minor leagues, Adcock retired to his 288-acre ranch in Coushatta, LA. to raise horses. Adcock died in 1999 at age 71.
“Double the fun” is a Friday feature here that looks at one famous doubleheader each week.