1960 Revisited - April 12

Friday, June 25 2010 @ 08:10 am UTC

Contributed by: Bobster

By Bobster

Tuesday, April 12, 1960 OPENING DAY in Milwaukee. The National League began its schedule with a full slate of games. The A.L. would not begin until almost a week later. When the 1960 National League 154-game schedule was released, the Pirates had 11 doubleheaders scheduled (8 on Sundays, 1 on Memorial Day, 1 on July 4th and 1 on Labor Day). They had 25 off days not counting a 4-day All-Star break from July 10 to July 4 (4 off days in April, 4 in May, 5 in June, 2 in July (plus the All-Star break), 3 in August and 7 in September). Odd scheduling quirks included going to Milwaukee for only one game to open the season on April 12, going to St. Louis for only one game on May 2, hosting the Cubs for only one game on May 17, traveling to St. Louis for only one game on September 7, and having 3 off days in a 4-day period from September 26-29 during which the Reds came to Pittsburgh to play only one game on September 27. Rainouts would require changes to the schedule, but this was how it was set up at the beginning of the season.

County Stadium in Milwaukee had 39,888 fans for the opener. The Pirates and Bob Friend opposed the Milwaukee Braves and pitcher Warren Spahn. The Braves were coming off a 1959 season in which they finished the 154-game schedule tied with the Dodgers for first place and then lost a playoff to finished second. The Braves had led all of MLB in HRs in 1959 due to sluggers like Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Ad*censormode*, and Del Crandall. But it would be pitcher Warren Spahn who hit the Braves’ first HR of 1960. The Braves scored a run in the first on a walk and two singles. It remained a 1-0 game until Spahn drove a Bob Friend pitch over the right field wall in the seventh inning for a 2-0 lead. It was the 24th career HR for the 39-year old Spahn. And there would still be 11 more before his career was over as Spahn finished with 35 career HRs. Spahn would hit 2 more in 1960 and, at age 40, four more in 1961. The Bucs tied the game in the 8th on doubles by Hal Smith and Bob Skinner and a single by Roberto Clemente. Joe Ad*censormode*’s 2-run HR in the 8th off Elroy Face, made it 4-2 Braves. Doubles by centerfielder Gino Cimoli and catcher Hal Smith in the 9th ended the scoring at 4-3. With the lefty Spahn on the mound, the Pirates’ opening day lineup had Bill Virdon and Smoky Burgess on the bench. Face (0-1), coming off an 18-1 season in 1959 when he didn’t lose a game until September 11th, took the loss on opening day.

Dick Stuart had 3 singles in the game. Joe Christopher was the first pinch hitter used for the 1960 Pirates when he grounded out for Friend in the 8th. Dick Schofield was the first pinch runner used in the season when he ran for Smith in the ninth.

Starting lineup:
Skinner LF
Groat SS
Clemente RF
Stuart 1B
Hoak 3B
Cimoli CF
Mazeroski 2B
Smith C
Friend P.

Elsewhere, the Phillies opened their season with a 9-4 loss in Cincinnati. The Phillies had finished in last place in 1959 with a 64-90 record and little was expected of them in 1960. So little, in fact, that manager Eddie Sawyer resigned following the opening day loss. Sawyer was quoted as saying “I’m 49 years old and I want to live to be 50.” He never managed again. (He actually lived to age 87, so apparently he knew what he was doing.) He was replaced for one game by coach Andy Cohen before Gene Mauch took the reins a day later.

And the Giants had their first game in their new stadium, Candlestick Park. The debut of the new park was successful as the Giants defeated the Cardinals 3-1 behind Sam Jones (1-0), who had won 21 games in 1959. Jones went the distance, giving up just 3 hits including a HR by Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner. Leftfielder Orlando Cepeda drove in all 3 Giants runs with a triple and a single. With hitters like Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Willie Mays, and pitchers like Jones, Mike McCormick, Jack Sanford, Johnny Antonelli, Billy O’Dell and Stu Miller, the Giants were the pre-season favorites to win the NL pennant, according to a poll of baseball writers.