Double the fun: Ralph Kiner’s Historic 1947 Doubleheader: Bombs Away!

Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi


Last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports page story about the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 10-inning 5-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds was on page 14. Preceding it were accounts of high school and college football, the Steelers, the Penguins, the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the upcoming basketball season, horse racing, Reggie Bush, lacrosse and assorted other minor events.

In Pittsburgh, “Dog days” has a different meaning. The phrase refers to the season’s last month when Pirates baseball mercifully ends.

Today’s Buccos remind lifelong fans of the horrible 1950-1955 Pirates known as “Rickey’s Rinky-Dinks,” a play on general manager Branch Rickey’s name and the teams under his direction.

That’s not entirely fair to Rickey since the Corsairs were National League cellar dwellers for years before he arrived on the scene. The one bright spot who kept Pirates fans glued in their Forbes Field seats even as the losses mounted: Ralph Kiner

During his first seven seasons, Kiner led or tied for the National League in home runs, an unmatched feat.

Kiner also achieved a still-standing major league record when in 1947 he hit eight home runs in four consecutive games. Four of them came during a September 11th double header. During the preceding month, Kiner previewed his prowess when he hit seven home runs during a similar four game stretch.

Kiner started his tear on September 10th against the New York Giants when his two home runs off Larry Jansen (18-5) accounted for the Bucs only runs in 3-2 defeat.

During the next day’s double dip, with the Boston Braves in town, Kiner hit one in the opener off losing pitcher Johnny Sain (19-10) to help lift the Pirates to a 4-3, 13 inning triumph. In the nightcap, Kiner slugged two more off starter Bill Voiselle and another off losing pitcher Walt Lanfranconni (4-4) for a 10-8 Pirate sweep.

Kiner wrapped up his power-packed four days when on September 12th, he blasted two more off Red Barrett (11-12) to propel the Bucs to a 4-3 victory.

Kiner’s four-day line: AB 16; R 8; H 10; HR 8; RBI 12

Over his ten-year career, Kiner hit 369 home runs for an average of one every 14.11 at bats, eighth best all-time. Historians calculate that if Kiner had played in a more hitter friendly park than the monstrous Forbes Field and had not also lost nearly three seasons serving in World War II, he would easily have hit 500.

From 1948 through 1953, Kiner played in six consecutive All Star Games before being ignominiously dumped off to the Chicago Cubs for the proverbial bunch of broken bats, namely Toby Atwell, Bob Schultz, Preston Ward, George Freese, Bob Addis, Gene Hermanski and $150,000 cash.

Kiner and Rickey had been locked in a salary dispute all season before the notorious cheapskate famously told the slugger: “We finished last with you and we can finish last without you.”

Although Kiner hit 50 home runs during his season and a half with the Cubs and another 18 with the Cleveland Indians in 1955, his most productive years were over.

In 1961 Kiner began a new career as a Chicago White Sox broadcaster before moving to the New York Mets where he joined Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy. One of the most popular features of Mets’ broadcasts was “Kiner’s Korner” where Kiner might call Darryl Strawberry “Darryl Thornberry” or say: “If Casey Stengel were alive, he’d be spinning in his grave.”

Kiner, although ailing, still appears from time to time making him the only Mets’ announcer to be part of the broadcast team since the Mets first game.

Post-career, Kiner has received many accolades. In 1975, the Hall of Fame elected Kiner. Twelve years later, the Pirates retired his number 4. The Sporting News placed Kiner on its 1999 “Top 100 Greatest Player’s” list.

Just inside the entrance to PNC Park, which opened in 2001, a statue of Kiner’s hand holding a bat honors his seven leading home run seasons. Then, in 2007, the Mets held “Ralph Kiner Night” with Tom Seaver giving a commemorative speech. Also present were Bob Feller, former Met manager Yogi Berra and the late Ernie Harwell. (See it here.)

Billy Meyer, one of Kiner’s Pirates managers, had only good things to say about his star outfielder: “During all the time I managed the Pirates, there was never a time that Kiner didn’t do everything I asked him to for the general good of the club. No matter what I said it was perfectly okay with him.”


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Bring Back the High Hard One: Remembering Sal Maglie

Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular Wednesday and Saturday contributor.


For years, I’ve listened to Pittsburgh Pirates’ announcers Steve Blass and Bob Walk urge Bucco hurlers to pitch fastballs inside. Although Blass and Walk were accomplished major league starters with more than 100 career wins, their advice is ignored—and not just by the Pirates.

Pitching inside is baseball’s lost art. Whether the commissioner’s office, umpires or pitchers and their coaches have decided that taking the inside of the plate is not politically correct, the fact remains that the high hard one is as rare as a complete game. Baseball is the poorer for it, too.

The name synonymous with inside pitching is Sal “the Barber” Maglie whose reputation as a headhunter dwarfs his outstanding career statistics.

On the mound, Maglie with his gaunt appearance, grim expression and stubble cut a fearsome presence that contributed to his reputation as a rough customer.

In 1958, Maglie spoke to Sports Illustrated reporter Roy Terrell for the first installment in a series titled “Big League Secrets.” Maglie’s chapter, in which he described his philosophy and nickname, was titled “The Art of Pitching”

Said Maglie: “You can’t let anyone run over you, for example. O.K., so they hit you a little. Right then is when you have to show them who’s the boss. Every batter is a challenge. I’ve been accused of giving some close shaves in my time and I guess I have. I don’t throw at hitters but I won’t deny that I make pretty sure that they aren’t digging in on me. I know I have to keep them loose.”

Maglie listed the three attributes necessary for a pitcher to succeed: 1) control of his pitches and himself, 2) confidence and determination and 3) knowledge and experience.

“The Barber” practiced what he preached. I count three back-to-back-to-back seasons when if it had existed, Maglie could have won the Cy Young Award. With the New York Giants from 1950 through 1952, Maglie posted records of 18-4 (2.71), 23-6 (2.93) and 18-8 (2.92). By 1956, the award’s first year, Maglie (13-5, 2.87) finished second to Don Newcombe in the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player voting.

In 1951, during the Giants famous end of season pennant run against the Dodgers, Maglie rolled off eleven straight victories and earned the All-Star Game win.

During his ten seasons, Maglie had a 110-62 record (3.15 ERA). Had Maglie not been banned by baseball from 1945 until 1950 for playing in the outlaw Mexican League, he may have reached the Hall of Fame. If you assume 15 wins during each of Maglie’s lost years, his average from 1950 through 1954 after he returned, that would put his win total at 185. Given that Maglie played an important role on championship Brooklyn Dodgers and Giants and earned the admiration of the baseball writers, he might have made Cooperstown.

Maglie holds two further distinctions. Maglie is the last player to be a member of all three New York teams, the Dodgers, Giants and New York Yankees. And infamously Maglie, despite pitching masterfully, lost to the Yankees’ Don Larsen in his 1956 perfect World Series game.

After Maglie’s career ended in 1958, he coached pitching for the Boston Red Sox (his star pupil was Jim Lonborg) and the Seattle Pilots.

Just how tough a cookie Maglie was in real life is debatable. Maglie’s first wife Kathleen, who died in 1967, couldn’t understand the fuss. According to her, “He isn’t tough at all. He lets his beard grow before a game so he’ll look fierce. I used to wonder what people were talking about when they said he scowled ferociously at the batters. Then I stayed home one day and watched him on TV. I hardly knew him.”

Watch this classic video from the old “What’s My Line?” television program with Maglie as the mystery guest and Phil Rizzuto appearing as a panelist. Notice Maglie’s neatly folded breast pocket handkerchief.

Then decide for yourself whether Maglie, out of uniform, was a good guy or a bad guy.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Double the fun: Frank Robinson: September 13, 1971; Game One #499; Game Two #500

Here’s the latest from Joe Guzzardi, a regular contributor. Every Saturday, Joe offers “Double the fun,” recounting a memorable doubleheader.


In 2007, the Washington Nationals offered Frank Robinson, its former manager, a special day during a May 20th game against his old team the Baltimore Orioles.

Robinson refused. After all the Nats, who claimed that Robinson “retired,” had pushed him out the door in 2006 in favor of Manny Acta.

Said Robinson: “I don’t feel like this organization has extended an open arms welcome to me even though they said they want to honor me. It doesn’t make me feel like it would be pleasant to have me around for a day.”

That’s Frank Robinson for you. He’s never been one to sugar coat things!

Although Robinson’s talents in his early days as a Cincinnati Reds put him in the same category as his widely admired peers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, he had few baseball friends.

Even his teammates couldn’t warm up to him. When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Don Newcombe to the Reds, the big pitcher said: “I try to get along with all the guys but, even though he’s my teammate, I can’t take Robinson. That guy is out there trying to maim people.””

Around the National League where Robinson was quick with his fists and his spikes, he was known as “the black Ty Cobb,” a player who would do anything to beat you.

Robinson summed his hard-nosed philosophy up this way: “Baseball isn’t a popularity contest. Some players are afraid of losing friends. Not me. I’m not out there to win friends. Just ball games, and I’ll do that any way that I can.”

In 1956, Robinson got off to a torrid start on his Hall of Fame career. Robinson hit 38 home runs, batted .290, led the National League with 122 runs scored, drove in 83 runs, was named to the All-Star team and was the Rookie of the Year. He also led the league in being hit by pitched balls, 20, on his way to a career total of 198 that places him eighth on the all time list.

Robinson’s 38 homers were the first among his career 586. He hit his historic 500th playing for the Baltimore Orioles during a 1971 double header against the Detroit Tigers.

How Robinson became an Oriole is a chapter from the “Worst Baseball Trades in History” book. On December 9, 1965 the Reds swapped Robinson for Orioles’ pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson. In his six seasons as an Orioles, Robinson hit .300 with 179 homers and 545 RBIs. For their new teams, Pappas went 30-29, 4.04 ERA (three seasons); Baldschun, 1-5, 5.25 (two seasons) and Simpson, .246, 5 homers and 20 RBIs (two seasons).

To appease irate fans, Reds’ general manager Bill De Witt called his slugger “an old 30” But that was far from the case as Robinson proved six years later.

On September 13th, the Tigers faced off in a double dip against Baltimore. Although the two teams finished in first and second place, the Orioles had all but formally wrapped up the pennant by that Monday afternoon.

In game one, Dave McNally (18-4) faced Mike Kilkenny (4-4); game two, Pat Dobson (17-7) versus Joe Niekro (6-7). Robinson went two for four in the first game with three RBIs, all of which were accounted for in the first inning on his 499th home run. The Orioles won 9-1.

In the nightcap, won by Detroit 10-5, Robinson hit number 500 in the bottom of the ninth.

After Robinson retired as an active player, he became baseball’s first black manager (Cleveland Indians) and piloted the San Francisco Giants, Orioles as well as the Nats.

The consensus among baseball experts is that Robinson, the manager, was not nearly as effective as Robinson the player. In 2005 and 2006 polls conducted by Sports Illustrated among 450 MLB players, Robinson was twice selected the worst manager in baseball.

But it is not as a manager that fans remember Robinson. Among his many on the field achievements are his Most Valuable Player awards in both leagues (with the Reds in 1961 and the Orioles in 1966 when he won the Triple Crown), Robinson ended up 57 hits shy of the 3,000-hit club but with, in addition to his 538 homers, a .294 batting average, .389 on-base percentage, .537 slugging and .926 OPS.

Last week, I saw Robinson at the U.S. Tennis Open, taking in the matches and looking very good for a 75-year-old. Interviewed by fawning Baltimore native Pam Shriver who called Robinson her “childhood hero,” Robinson was gracious.

Of course, he wasn’t wearing cleats.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Bobby Shantz: 1952 AL MVP and…1960 World Series Goat?

Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular Wednesday and Saturday contributor here.


In 1952, when Philadelphia A’s pitcher Bobby Shantz won the American League Most Valuable Player award, I was a nine-year-old kid growing up in Dodgerless Los Angeles and rooting for the Hollywood Stars.

I remember wondering how it was possible that Shantz, not much bigger than me at 5’6” and 135 pounds, could be mowing down Ted Williams and Yogi Berra in the big leagues when I was still throwing pop flies to myself in my backyard.

No one could deny that in 1952 Shantz hit his peak. Posting a 24-7 win-loss record for a fifth-place team, Shantz garnered the MVP award in a landslide by easily outdistancing New York Yankee stars Allie Reynolds, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra.

Shantz led the American League in wins, winning percentage (.774), fewest walks per game (2.03), finished second with 27 complete games, third with a 2.48 ERA and 152 strikeouts, tied for third with five shutouts, fourth with 255 innings pitched and fifth in fewest hits per game (7.39).

In his first major league appearance on May 1, 1949, Shantz pitched two-thirds of an inning of scoreless relief against the Washington Senators.

As inconspicuous as his debut was, Shantz showed what he was all about five days later. On May 6 Shantz notched his first big league win when at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, he entered the game in the fourth inning in relief of Carl Scheib. For the next ten innings, Shantz held the Tigers to two hits and one earned run while striking out seven.

A’s manager Connie Mack, a former catcher, kept Shantz from using his most effective pitch (the knucleball) and was predisposed to more physically intimidating hurlers like Joe Coleman, Lou Brissie and Dick Fowler. But when Mack retired after the 1950 season, new pilot Jimmy Dykes gave Shantz more rest and let him use off speed pitches. The result: in 1951, an 18-10 record for a 70-84 Athletics team.

In 1957 the Athletics, now located in Kansas City, traded Shantz along with Art Ditmar, Jack McMahan, Wayne Belardi and two players to be named later to the Yankees in exchange for Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Billy Hunter and a player to be named later.

Used mostly as a spot starter with Whitey Ford, Don Larsen, Tom Sturdivant and Bob Turley, Shantz went 11-5 and led the major leagues in ERA with a 2.45 mark.

Lost in the annals of time is Shantz’s disappointing role for the Yankees in the famous 1960 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Shantz pitched two-thirds of an inning (scoreless) in both the second and fourth games. In the second, he earned a save for Turley.

In the seventh game, the wheels came off. Shantz entered the game in the third inning and held the Pirates scoreless for four innings. But in the bottom of the eighth, Shantz gave up singles to Gino Cimoli, Bill Virdon and Dick Groat before coming out in favor of Jim Coates.

All three eventually scored and the earned runs were charged to Shantz. The Pirates tallied twice more before eventually winning the game, 10-9, and the series, 4-3.

Manager Casey Stengel decision to leave Shantz in may have cost him his job. During the regular season, Shantz never pitched more than four innings. Why Stengel left Shantz in for the fifth is a baseball mystery.

The following year Shantz landed with the Pirates and subsequently pitched for the Houston Colt .45s, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.

Over his career Shantz, a three time All Star, sparkled in the 1952 contest when in the fifth inning he struck out Whitey Lockman, Jackie Robinson and Stan Musial. Had the game not been called because of rain, Shantz might have broken Carl Hubbell’s record of five in a row.

He also won eight Gold Gloves including the first four years (1957-1960) it was awarded.

In a baseball oddity, Shantz and his brother catcher Billy were teammates on the Philadelphia A’s (1954), Kansas City (1955) and the Yankees (1960).  However, they were only battery mates in Kansas City.

In 2010, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame elected Shantz. The Pottstown native now lives in Ambler, PA.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Double the fun: Dodgers (L.A. Version) Come Home to Gotham; Hammer Hapless Mets

Here’s the latest from Joe Guzzardi, who writes “Double the fun,” looking at one famous doubleheader every Saturday.


On Memorial Day, 1962 the transplanted Dodgers playing in Los Angeles returned to New York for the first time since the team left Brooklyn in 1957 to play a three game series against the woebegone New York Mets.

In an effort to fill up the disintegrating Polo Grounds with new fans, the Mets had loaded the roster with ex-Brooklyn heroes including Don Zimmer, Clem Labine, Charlie Neal, Joe Pignatano and Gil Hodges.

The effort to lure fans succeeded. The Mets drew nearly one million rabid rooters, many of whom soon crowed about the new franchise: “I’ve been a Mets fan all my life.”

For the May 30 double dip 55,704 Metropolitans’ rooters jammed the Polo Grounds to watch their beloved team take on their cross country rivals.

On paper, it didn’t figure to be much of a contest. The Mets, eventual losers of 120 games, are considered by most to be the worst team in modern baseball history. The Dodgers won 101 games and finished one game behind the National League pennant winning San Francisco Giants.

The match up pitted Sandy Koufax (14-7) and Johnny Podres (15-13) for the Dodgers, against Jay Hook (8-19) and Bob L. Miller (1-12).

Unsurprisingly, since we are talking about the Mets, there’s a story behind the two New York starting pitchers. The Mets were the only team in baseball to ever have two players with identical names, Bob Miller. Naturally that led to considerable confusion.

To complicate matters even further, the Millers roomed together. Their teammates decided simply to call them “Lefty” Bob Miller and “Righty” Bob Miller. Manager Casey Stengel, for reasons known only to him, called “Righty” Bob Miller “Nelson”

In any event, “Righty” Bob, who faced the Dodgers that afternoon, lost his first 12 starts until on the next to the last day of the season, he notched a win against the Chicago Cubs.

As for Hook, since he earned a mechanical engineering degree from Northwestern University but notched only had a 12-34 record during his three Mets’ seasons, Stengel joked: “Hook can explain a curve ball but he can’t throw one.”

In the first game, Koufax was fortunate that the Dodgers spotted him a 10-0 lead through the top of the fourth. The 1962 Koufax hadn’t yet hit his Hall of Fame stride. Although Koufax struck out 10, the Mets battered him for 13 hits and six earned runs before succumbing 13-6.

To the immense delight of the crowd, one of the runs came off the bat of Brooklyn favorite Hodges when he homered in the fourth.

The nightcap was closer. The Mets shelled Podres, knocking him out in the seventh inning after he gave up five earned runs. The Mets outhit the Dodgers 9-5 including two more home runs by Hodges. Nevertheless, the Mets lost, 6-5.

For the season, the Mets went 2-16 against the Dodgers and fared only slightly better against the San Francisco Giants, 4-14. The Mets did however manage to break even against the Chicago Cubs, 9-9. The Cubs lost 103 games to finish in ninth place, ahead of only the Mets.

Although other professional sports teams have had more barren seasons, the Mets remain the benchmark for failure.

In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14; the Detroit Lions posted a 2008 0-16 mark.

Yet the Mets remain synonymous with futility probably because they had players like Miller, Hook and of course Marvelous Marv Throneberry who, by the way, tapped a weak grounder to shortstop in his pinch hit and lone plate appearance that afternoon.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

1959 “Go Go” Sox Score Eleven Runs In One Inning On One Measly Single! Believe It!

Here is the latest from Wednesday and Saturday contributor Joe Guzzardi.


You may not believe it (I know I didn’t) but on April 22, 1959, the Chicago White Sox on its way to a 20-6 triumph scored 11 runs on one hit against the Kansas City Athletics at the old Municipal Stadium.  A sparse crowd of 7,446 witnessed history.

During its American League pennant year, the Go Go Sox needed all the offensive help it could get.

But the gift from the Athletics was more than manager Al Lopez could have hoped for in his wildest dreams.

For the season, the White Sox had a .250 over all team average, scored only 669 runs, had 620 RBIs and 1,325 base hits. Those totals ranked Chicago sixth in offensive output in an eight team league. The total base count of 1,928 was seventh; home runs, dead last with 97. The White Sox were the only team in the major leagues to hit fewer than 100 homers.

To make up for its weak hitting, the Go Go Sox counted on speed and plate discipline as it led the league in stolen bases with 113 (56 for leader Luis Aparicio), triples with 46, batters hit by a pitch, 49 and tied with Detroit for most times reaching base via a walk, 580. The White Sox were tough to strike out, too, whiffing a league low of 634 times.

The Sox, however, relied on the proverbial strength up the middle.

Anchored by the double play combination of the incomparable Nellie Fox, the American League’s Most Valuable Player and Aparicio, the Sox were also solid in center field where Jim Landis’ clutch hitting, glove and throwing arm contributed to many key wins.

Behind the plate, Sherm Lollar equaled his more famous New York Yankee rival and former teammate, Yogi Berra. Lollar appeared in seven All Star Games and won three Gold Glove Awards.

Solid pitching rounded out the White Sox. Starters Early Wynn (22-10), the 1959 Cy Young Award winner, Bob Shaw (18-6) and relief specialists Turk Lown and Gerry Staley were solid all year.

The White Sox were unlikely pennant winners.

From 1955 to 1958, the Yankees won 4 straight American League crowns and 9 of the last ten years including 7 World Series titles.

Prognosticators liked the Cleveland Indians chances in 1959 too. Like the White Sox, the Indians had speed, good pitching but also had power, namely Rocky Colavito.

But the Yankees’ pitching faltered. Whitey Ford had an off year (for him), Bob Turley, the 1958 Cy Young Award winner, went 8-11 and Mickey Mantle, although he hit 31 home runs, drove in a mere 75. The Yankees finished in third place, 15 games behind the White Sox.

The Indians challenged but, losers of 15 of 22 head-to-head games against the Sox, came up in second place, five games shy.

When the White Sox sewed up its first pennant in forty years, fire Commissioner Robert J. Quinn ordered a celebratory five-minute sounding of the city’s air-raid sirens that set many Chicago residents rushing out into the streets to look for a possible Soviet Union bomb attack. But Quinn’s alarm was just one delirious fan’s way to celebrate. Unfortunately for Quinn and other White Sox devotees, the magic wore off in the World Series when the South Siders lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2.

Now let’s go back to that incredible seventh inning when the White Sox tallied 11 times on only a single by Johnny Callison. Three Kansas City pitchers (Tom Gorman, Mark Freeman and George Brunet) issued ten walks, Brunet hit Callison, while Athletics’ defenders Joe DeMaestri, Hal Smith and Roger Maris committed three errors.

Over the course of 9 innings, the Go Go Sox amassed 16 hits including six for extra bases.  Fox had three singles, a double, two walks and drove in five.

Unfortunately, White Sox starter Wynn could not stick around to enjoy the Athletics’ largess. In Wynn’s worst outing of the year, Kansas City knocked him out in the second after he gave up 6 earned runs. The victory went to Shaw who pitched 7.1 innings of scoreless relief. Bud Daley, ironically not part of the catastrophic seventh, absorbed Athletics’ loss.

Hank Bauer, who managed the Athletics from 1961-1962 and the Oakland A’s (1969), said that of the tens of thousands of baseball games he watched, no two were ever alike.

No game proves Bauer’s point more than the April White Sox-Kansas City game.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Double the fun: King Carl Hubbell Leads New York Giants to 1933 World Series Triumph

Here’s the latest from Joe Guzzardi, a regular Wednesday and Saturday contributor. Every Saturday, Joe writes “Double the fun,” looking at one memorable doubleheader each week. Today, Joe recounts a few famous performances from Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Hubbell.


Venue: The Polo Grounds

Date: Sunday, July 2, 1933

Teams: St. Louis Cardinals versus New York Giants

Starting Pitchers: Game One: Cardinals—Tex Carlton versus Carl Hubbell, New York; Game two: Dizzy Dean versus Roy Parmelee


More than 50,000 fans showed up at the old Polo Grounds to watch the eventual World Series champion Giants take on arch rival foes, the St. Louis Cardinals during the Independence Day weekend doubleheader.

Both teams were loaded with future Hall of Famers and otherwise outstanding stars: for the Cards, Pepper Martin, Frankie Frisch, Joe Medwick, Leo Durocher, Rogers Hornsby, pitchers Dean, Carlton, Dazzy Vance and Burleigh Grimes; on the Giants, Mel Ott, premier first baseman and superior manager Bill Terry, Jo Jo Moore, pitchers Hubbell, Parmalee and Freddie Fitzsimmons

At the day’s beginning, the Giants held a 3-1/2 game margin over the second place Cards. But after Hubbell and Parmalee polished off St. Louis 1-0 and 1-0, the Giants pulled away for good.

In the 18-inning, 4:03 opener, Hubbell gave one of his most impressive exhibitions of mound mastery as he bested Carlton and relief pitcher Jesse Haines.

For 12 of the innings, Hubbell dazzled the minimum three batters with his fearsome screwball.

Some observers wrote that Hubbell had more command of his pitches than he did during his 1929 no-hit, 11-0 classic against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For the first sixteen innings, Hubbell and Carlton matched each other pitch for pitch. But when Carlton gave way for a pinch hitter in the 16th inning, the Giants chipped away at 39-year-old Haines when Moore walked and catcher Gus Mancuso sacrificed him to second. Moore eventually scored on a single by Hughie Critz.

Hubbell’s daily line: IP 18; H 6; ER 0; BB 0; SO 12

After the intermission, the second game began near dusk with a light rain and fog hanging over the Polo Grounds.

Cardinal manager Gabby Street was desperate for a starting pitcher. Street tapped Dean even though he had pitched two evenings ago on Friday and coincidentally shut the Giants out, 1-0. In the Sunday nightcap, Dean hurled another gem but lost this one by the same 1-0 score.

Dean’s combined line for his two starts within three days:

IP 17; H 11; R 1; BB 3; SO 10

After the Giants’ sweep, the teams and their pitchers went in opposite directions. The Cardinals slowly fell out of contention, replaced Street with Frisch and finished in fifth place, 9.5 games off the pace.

Dean had an indifferent 20-18, 3.04 ERA.

King Carl, on the other hand, improved as the year continued. On September 1, Hubbell spun another outstanding game. At Braves Field, Hubbell notched his 20th victory and wrapped up the pennant for the Giants by besting Boston 2-0 over ten flawless innings. Coincidentally, the game was also the first of a doubleheader.

Hubbell’s line:

IP 10; H 4; R 0; BB 1; SO 6

For the season, Hubbell posted a 23-12 record, won the ERA title with a 1.66 mark and was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.

Then, saving his best for last, Hubbell and the Giants dominated the Washington Senators in the World Series, 4-1.

In Game One, Hubbell allowed two unearned runs while coasting to a 4-2 victory. Then, in the fourth game, on two days rest and over 11 innings, Hubbell gave up only another single unearned run.

For Hubbell’s two World Series appearances:

IP 20; H 13; ER 0; BB 6; S0s 15

During his career, Hubbell went 253-154, ERA 2.98, led the league in games won and ERA three times. Best remembered for his 1934 All-Star Game effort when he struck out in order Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin, Hubbell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947.

After he retired as an active player, Hubbell remained with the Giants as the team’s farm director and scout.

In 1988, at age 85, Hubbell died in Scottsdale, Arizona following an automobile accident.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Tom Seaver Returns Home to New York– As A Cincinnati Red

Here’s the latest from Wednesday and Saturday contributor Joe Guzzardi.


In my August 18 post about Lou Piniella, I wrote that during the 1978 season the tumultuous New York Yankees provided me with more entertaining moments than I ever experienced as a baseball fan.

How could I have forgotten about the 1977 New York Mets?

During the summer of ’77, Mets’ ownership staggered the baseball world when, after a long simmering salary dispute between Tom Seaver and owner M. Donald Grant, it traded its future first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher to the Cincinnati Reds for four low-level prospects: pitcher Pat Zachry, second baseman Doug Flynn and outfielders Steve Henderson and Dan Norman.

The “Midnight Massacre” (as the trades became known) plunged the Mets into their darkest era. The team finished last in 1977 and lost 95 or more games in each of the next three seasons under manager Joe Torre, who would be fired after a 41-62 record in the strike-shortened 1981 season.

During the 1970s, I lived in Manhattan. I wasn’t a Mets fan but like all New Yorkers, I followed every movement, allegation and counter-allegation made by Seaver, Grant, and Grant’s pro-management tout, New York Daily News columnist Dick Young.

Seaver had been pleading with the penurious Grant to spend the necessary money on available free agent players to help lift the Mets into contention.

Further infuriating Mets fans Grant, besides dumping Seaver and his salary off to the Reds, made two other deadline trades involving key players.

Grant ordered general manager Joe McDonald to deal the Mets’ top hitter, Dave Kingman, who had also been involved in rancorous contract negotiations, to the San Diego Padres for Bobby Valentine. In a third trade, McDonald acquired utility man Mike Phillips outfielder from the St. Louis Cardinals for Joel Youngblood.

(Fun fact: In 1982, Youngblood made baseball history by getting a hit in two different cities, for two different teams, against two Hall of Fame pitchers. As a Mets in Chicago, he singled off Ferguson Jenkins. Then, traded by the Mets to the Montreal Expos, Youngblood hopped a plane to Philadelphia in time to pinch hit a single off Steve Carlton.)

To Grant’s dismay, Seaver flourished in his new Cincinnati environment. Over the balance of the 1977 season, he went 14-3 to finish his year at 21-6.

Included among Seaver’s wins was what writers dubbed the “Shootout at Shea,” that pitted “Tom Terrific” against his former teammate and friend, Jerry Koosman.

On Sunday, August 21st, a capacity crowd of 46,265 greeted Seaver with chants of “SEA-VER, SEA-VER!” while the stadium organ played “Hello Dolly, we’re so glad to see back where you belong.”

Seaver, who limited the Mets to six hits while striking out 11 in a 5-1 victory, pitched his best; Koosman (8-16), who volunteered for the thankless assignment, struggled and gave up all five runs before being knocked out in the eighth.

After the game, Seaver said, “I’m glad it’s over, very glad. I’m exhausted physically and mentally. It was no fun out there at all.”

Koosman added: “It’s tough to pitch against a superstar. You know you’ve got to be at your best. I was kind of disappointed when it got out of hand. But let’s face it. Tom Seaver is the best pitcher in baseball.”

For the Mets, the post-trade era was a disaster. Attendance at Shea plummeted and the Mets would not have another winning season until 1984.

But time heals all wounds. Seaver returned to the Mets in 1983 for one season and pitched effectively. By then, even though Seaver had a three-year stint with the Chicago White Sox and a final year with the Boston Red Sox, his best years were behind him.

Seaver retired with a 311-205 record with an ERA of 2.86 and 3,640 strikeouts. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with the highest-ever percentage of first place votes for a pitcher.

After his career ended, the Mets retired Seaver’s number 41. In 2008, the Mets invited Seaver to Shea Stadium to throw out the final pitch before the team moved to Citi-Field where he also threw out the Opening Day, 2009 first pitch.

In a recent ESPN poll, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton and Carlton voted Seaver their generation’s best pitcher.

Hank Aaron adds that Seaver was the toughest he ever faced.

That says it all! See a video tribute to Seaver’s career here.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research and the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Double the fun: Pirates Sweep Three September Doubleheaders In Five Days; Close In On 1960 National League Pennant

Here is the latest edition of Double the fun, a Saturday feature here on famous doubleheaders by Joe Guzzardi.


The Pittsburgh Pirates have baseball’s worst record. As of August 20th,the Pirates with a 40-81 record are three games behind the resurgent Baltimore Orioles and, in the National League, trail the Arizona Diamondbacks by seven.

Accordingly, we Pirate fans revert to our default position. We either look hopefully ahead or comfort ourselves by looking wistfully back.

Earlier this week, the Pirates signed two high school pitching phenoms, Jameson Tallion and Stetson Allie. But since teenage pitching prospects flame out more often than pan out, today we’ll take solace in the Pirate past, specifically the 1960 World Series champs whose 50th anniversary Pittsburgh is celebrating.

My weekly Saturday column is devoted to historic doubleheaders. Today, however, I’ll tell you about three September 1960 double dip sweeps within five days that virtually sewed the pennant up for our intrepid 1960 Corsairs.

On September 18, the Pirates took both ends at Cincinnati against the Reds, 5-3 and 1-0; September 20 in Philadelphia against the Phillies, 7-1 and 3-2 and September 22 at Forbes Field against the Chicago Cubs, 3-2 (11 innings) and 6-1.

By the time the second Cub game ended, the Pirates had eliminated the Milwaukee Braves and reduced to two games their magic number to finish off the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, a late May acquisition from the Cardinals in exchange for promising but expendable second baseman Julian Javier (the Pirates had Bill Mazeroski), pitched brilliantly and won two of the six games.

Mizell’s September 18 first game line: IP 9; H 3; ER 0; BB 2; K 7

September 22 second game versus the Cubs: IP 9; H 6; ER 1; BB 0; K 2

While Vernon Law won the Cy Young and Dick Groat the Most Valuable Player Award, many point to adding Mizell to the starting rotation that also included work horse Bob Friend and Harvey Haddix as the Pirates’ turning point in the  championship season.

When General Manager Joe Brown traded for Mizell, the lefty had struggled in his nine games with the Cardinals posting a 1-3 record and 4.55 ERA.

But Brown was confident that Mizell only needed a change of scenery since over his previous six seasons he had notched a 68-67 record and 3.68 ERA.

Brown, always a shrewd judge of talent, was correct about Mizell. Pitching for the Pirates for only four months, Mizell finished 13-5 with three shutouts and a 3.12 ERA.

Curiously, when the regular season ended, Mizell’s magic vanished forever.

When he started the third World Series game, Mizell was bombed. Lasting only one-third of an inning, Mizell gave up three hits, a walk and four earned runs on the way to a Yankee 10-0 rout.

By pitching two innings of scoreless mop up in the sixth game Yankee humiliation (12-0), Mizell managed to lower his series ERA from108.00 to 15.43.

In 1961, Mizell couldn’t get it back together. He went 7-10 (5.40 ERA). When 1962 started no better, in May the Pirates traded Mizell to the Mets.

Mizell failed to win a game with what would become the worst team in baseball history. When the Mets released him in August, Mizell retired.

Why Mizell had so little success after 1960 remains a mystery. Former Pirate teammate George Witt said Mizell never suffered an arm injury but that “he just seemed to lose his good hard fastball.” Mizell summed when he said: “I can’t attribute it to any one thing—just wear and tear.”

But with Mizell’s retirement came a new career. Mizell entered politics and served three terms as a North Carolina Congressman (1968-1974). Had the Watergate scandal not swept Republicans out of office during the 1974 midterm elections, Mizell might have realized his dream of becoming a United States Senator.

After Congress, Mizell served in various capacities under Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Mizell, who finished his baseball career with a 90-88 record, died in 1999.

Here’s a funny footnote to Mizell’s horrible World Series outing. Played on October 8, the game date was also Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh’s 43rd birthday.

During the pre-game pleasantries, Casey Stengel said to Murtaugh: “I knew you were comin’ but I didn’t bake a cake. I hope you have a good day except between the hours of 2 to 5.” (Author’s note: the game was played from 1:05 to 4:14.)


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association. Email him at

Sweet Lou Piniella and the 1978 New York Yankees

Here is the latest from Joe Guzzardi, a regular Wednesday and Saturday contributor here.


Lou Piniella may be remembered as the occasionally successful (winning percentage .518) 23-year term manager of the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the unbearably pathetic Chicago Cubs.

Except for his three years at the helm of the Devil Rays from 2003-2005, Piniella led each of his teams at least once to the first playoff round. In 1990, with the Reds, Piniella swept the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

But if you are of a certain age, and especially if you lived in New York when Piniella played outfield for the Yankees, then you remember Sweet Lou as an outstanding and underrated key on the 1978 Yankees, possibly the most fascinating team in baseball history.

During the 1970s I lived in upper Manhattan, a brief subway ride to the Bronx. Late in the decade, I developed a curious relationship with the Yankees. I admired and rooted for their players individually: Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Bucky Dent, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles and pitchers Ron Guidry (25-3!), Ed Figueroa, Catfish Hunter, Goose Gossage. My favorite was Piniella who, although he batted seventh, hit a solid .314.

But because of owner George Steinbrenner’s heavy-handed, dictatorial style, I never wanted the Yankees to win. For the players to excel but the team to lose was of course impossible.

In my baseball lifetime, I’ve never experienced a season as crazy as 1978 when the Yankees’ fortunes (and misfortunes) dominated the sports’ pages.

Through April and May, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox ran neck and neck. But in June, the Sox pulled away. Not only were the Sox, led by Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Dennis Eckersley and Luis Tiant playing better baseball but the Yankees to the amazement and bewilderment of its fans and the amusement of the media, begun to self destruct.

By July 19, the Yankees were buried in fourth place 14 games behind the Red Sox.

Among the whirlwind of mid-season controversies that unglued the Yankees were Reggie unsuccessfully attempting to bunt even though manager Billy Martin through his third base coach Dick Howser had given the hit sign. With much ado, Steinbrenner sent Jackson home to California as punishment for his defiance.

Then, in dizzying sequence, Martin in an alcoholic stupor called Jackson a “born” liar and Steinbrenner a “convicted” one.

Martin, in advance of being fired, resigned. Bob Lemon replaced Martin who the Yankees promptly announced would return to the helm in 1980.

Under Lemon, the Yankees gradually chipped away at the Red Sox until on September 7th, they trailed by five games.

Then came the Fenway Park “Boston Massacre,” when the Yankees swept the Red Sox by scores of 15-3, 13-2, 7-0 and 7-4.

Piniella’s line for the four games which included three doubles and a home run: AB 16; R 8; H 10; RBIs 5

As one Boston newspaper summed up in a headline: If You Need Directions to Home Plate, Fenway Park, Ask Any Yankee; They’ve All Been There

But three weeks remained. The Yankees pushed ahead by 2.5 games before the Red Sox got healthy and tied the Bombers. And when, on the final day, the Yankees couldn’t beat the last place Cleveland Indians, game number 163 ensued. (Watch Phil Rizzuto introduce it here.)

Played in Boston on a Monday mid-afternoon, October 2, no self respecting New Yorker was anywhere except in front of his television. I can’t remember what lame excuse I offered up for not being in my office but since my boss wasn’t around either, it didn’t matter.

Normally, when the Yankees’ thrilling 5-4 victory is replayed in our memory, the kudos go to Bucky Dent who hit the three-run, seventh inning homer that put the New Yorkers ahead for good.

To me, however, the turning point was a Piniella defensive gem.

Entering his third inning of relief, Gossage was barely hanging on when Rick Burleson drew a one out walk followed by Jerry Remy’s soft liner into the glaring right field sun.

Burleson, seeing Piniella struggle to locate the ball, headed for second. Then, Piniella made a typically heady play by motioning with his glove that he was about to make the catch. That froze Burleson at second instead of trying to take third.

When the ball fell in front of Piniella for a single, Lou rifled it in to third base to hold Burleson on second.

Rice came to the plate and hit a titanic fly ball to right which would have easily scored Burleson to tie the game had he advanced to third. Without Piniella’s fake out, Red Sox could have won the game in regulation or sent it into extra innings.

Instead, Goosage got Carl Yazstremski to foul out making the Yankees American League and, eventually, World Series champions.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at