1960 Revisited - May 27-June 2

Tuesday, June 29 2010 @ 03:58 pm UTC

Contributed by: Bobster

By Bobster

May 27-June 2, 1960

Friday, May 27, 1960---Rain spoiled the opener of the Phillies/Pirates series. But the Pirates used the time to work out a trade with St.Louis. The Pirates bolstered their starting rotation by obtaining left-hander Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell from the Cardinals in exchange for minor leaguers Julian Javier (2B) and Ed Bauta (P). Mizell had been 1-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 9 starts with the Cardinals so far in the season. The year before, he had posted a 13-10 mark for the Cardinals. In 6 full seasons with the Cardinals, the 6’3" Mizell had averaged 11 wins a year. Javier was a top prospect at AAA, but had nowhere to go in the Pirate organization with Mazeroski ahead of him.

The Cardinals immediately made Javier their starting 2nd baseman. He would go on to play for 13 years and would be teamed with Dick Groat in 1963-1965 after Groat was traded to the Cardinals. Javier’s son, Stan Javier, would also play in the majors from 1984-2001. To make room for Mizell, the Pirates optioned LH reliever Don Gross to their AAA team in Salt Lake City in the PCL. The acquisition of Mizell would mean fewer starts for Gibbon, which made him more available for left-hand work out of the bullpen. Mizell would see some familiar faces on the Pirates. As a Cardinal, he had been teammates at one time or another with Haddix, Virdon, Schofield, Cimoli and Nelson, and also Tom Cheney, who was currently with AAA Columbus.

In the two months prior to the acquisition of Mizell, the Pirates starting rotation had Friend (9 starts), Law (9 starts) and an assortment of others. Haddix had started 6 games, Daniels had started 5 games, Gibbon had started 4 game, Umbricht had started 3 games and Witt one. The acquisition of Mizell stabilized the rotation as essentially Friend, Law, Haddix and Mizell.

Meanwhile, the Orioles introduced the oversized catcher’s mitt in an attempt to reduce the number of passed balls when knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhem was pitching.

Saturday, May 28, 1960---The Pirates (24-14) rebounded from their 3 straight losses to the Dodgers by defeating the Phillies 4-2 at Forbes Field. Bob Friend and the Phillies’ Jim Owens were locked in a scoreless tie after 7 innings. The Pirates broke through with 2 unearned runs in the 8th. Skinner singled and went to second on a sacrifice by Nelson. Clemente was intentionally walked and Smith’s liner to left was misplayed for an error to load the bases. Skinner scored on a Cimoli sac fly as Clemente took third. Mazeroski swung at a pitch in front of the plate and missed for strike 3. The pitch hit the umpire and bounced back to Owens. Mazeroski remained at the plate and Smith ran to second. Clemente came down the line from third base but stopped. Owens went after Clemente, who ended up in a rundown in which he knocked the ball out of catcher Jim Coker’s glove and scored the tie run. Mazeroski, despite a late start, made it to first safely. Owens had not heard his teammates yelling for him to simply throw to first to retire Mazeroski. But the Phillies tied it with 2 runs off Friend in the 9th. Then the bullpens took over. Elroy Face held the Phillies scoreless on 1 hit through the 9th, 10th and 11th innings until being pinch-hit for by seldom-used reserve catcher Danny Kravitz in the bottom of the 11th. Jim Umbricht then shut down the Phillies without a hit in the 12th and 13th innings. Meanwhile Dick Farrell (2-1) held the Pirates without a run through the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th innings. But in the bottom of the 13th, Don Hoak broke an 0 for 20 slump with his 3rd HR of the season with Mazeroski aboard to cinch a 4-2 win. Umbricht (1-2) picked up the win. The Pirates had 11 hits in the game, with Skinner (.338), Smith (.293), Cimoli (.309) and Mazeroski (.225) picking up 2 apiece.

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

Sunday, May 29, 1960---A Pirate win over Philadelphia, combined with the Giants’ loss to St.L., put the Pirates (25-14) and Giants in a tie for first place. The Pirates took control early, as they scored 6 runs off Robin Roberts (1-6) in the first 2 innings. Hoak led off the Pirates first inning with a double and went to third on a Groat single. Hoak scored on a Skinner ground out. After Nelson singled, Groat scored on a Clemente sac fly. In the second inning, Mazeroski homered (8) and Law reached on an error to short. Singles by Groat, Skinner and Nelson plated 3 more runs in the inning. Vern Law (7-1) was cruising until Johnny Callison’s 3-run homer in the 5th and Tony Curry’s solo shot in the 6th made it a 6-4 game. The Pirates got a run back in their half of the 6th when Hoak singled and scored on Groat’s double to make it a 7-4 game. The Phillies threatened in the 7th with 2 men aboard and one out. But Clemente made a great catch of Pancho Herrera’s sinking liner and reliever Fred Green struck out pinch hitter Bobby Gene Smith to end the threat. The Phillies narrowed it to 7-5 in the 8th when Ken Walters went deep against Green. But Green got that run back when he hit his 2nd home run of the season in the bottom of the 8th. Green’s HR was also his third hit in four trips to the plate during the season. Green also picked up his 2nd save. Law’s 7th win led the majors. Dick Groat (.292) had 3 hits in the game, while Don Hoak (.232), Bob Skinner (.342) and Rocky Nelson (.250) each had a pair of hits. Bill Mazeroski (.227) stroked his 8th HR to take over the team lead. This was Nelson’s 3rd consecutive start at 1B in place of Dick Stuart.

Starting lineup:
Hoak 3B
Groat SS
Skinner LF
Nelson 1B
Clemente RF
Burgess C
Cimoli CF
Mazeroski 2B
Law P.

Monday, May 30, 1960—While the Giants (26-15) split a doubleheader in Chicago, the Pirates (26-14) defeated the Braves 8-3, while the second game of their scheduled Memorial Day doubleheader was rained out. This put the Bucs ˝ game ahead of SF. The Pirates erupted for 4 runs in the 1st against Warren Spahn (2-2). Roberto Clemente’s one-out double with Dick Groat aboard, put runners in scoring position and both scored after singles by Don Hoak and Smoky Burgess. Hoak and Burgess then scored on a triple by Gino Cimoli. The Pirates added a run in the 3rd on a walk to Hoak and singles by Burgess and Cimoli. They got 2 more in the 6th. Haddix singled and went to third when Braves centerfielder Bill Bruton misplayed the ball. Haddix scored on a Skinner sac fly and another run scored when Groat singled and Clemente doubled. In the 7th, Burgess singled and scored all the way from first on Cimoli’s double. Haddix (3-1) was enjoying an 8-0 shutout until the Braves struck for 3 in the 9th. Elroy Face put out the fire and earned his 6th save. Face had now been unscored upon in his last 9 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 3.19. Freddie Green was right behind Face with a 3.22 ERA. The two relievers trailed only Friend (2.33) and Law (2.91) among Pirate pitchers. Groat (.307) had 4 of the Pirates’ 14 hits. Burgess (.342) and Cimoli (.315) had 3 apiece. Cimoli also had 4 RBIs in the game. Dick Stuart (.248) returned to the lineup after 3 games off and went 0 for 5.

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

Harvey Haddix, 34, was a 7-year veteran when the Pirates obtained him in 1959 in the Frank Thomas deal. Haddix broke in with St. Louis with quite a splash. After appearing in a handful of games in 1952, he spent his first full season in MLB with the Cardinals in 1953, winning 20 games (20-9) and batting .289. He followed that season by winning 18 games in 1954. He was traded to the Phillies in 1956, to the Reds in 1958 and to the Pirates in 1959. He made history with his 12-inning perfect game in 1959, only to lose it in the 13th. Haddix was only 12-12 in 1959 despite a very respectable ERA of 3.13. In his 12 losses, the Pirates were shut out 4 times, scored 1 run once, scored 2 runs 4 times and scored 3 runs in the other 3 losses. In total, the Pirates scored 18 runs in Haddix’s 12 losses in 1959. But so far in 1960, the Pirates were scoring for Haddix. His ERA was only 4.08 but his record was 3-1.

Tuesday, May 31, 1960---The Pirates (27-14) defeated the Reds 4-3 in 11 innings at Forbes Field in a game marked by bickering between the Reds and the umpires. Eight Reds were ejected, including seven during the 11th inning when the home plate umpire was tired of hearing remarks from the Reds’ bench over balls and strikes. Vinegar Bend Mizell made his first start as a Pirate, and took a 3-1 lead into the 9th inning. The Pirates had taken a 1-0 lead in the first when Clemente’s double scored Groat, who had singled. The Bucs made it 3-0 in the 2nd when Hal Smith doubled, took third on a single by Cimoli and scored on a sac fly by Mazeroski. After a single by Skinner, Cimoli scored on a double by Groat. The Reds got 1 back in the 4th and then tied the game with 2 more in the 9th against Mizell. But in the bottom of the 11th, Burgess drew a pinch-hit walk, Skinner followed with another walk and Groat loaded the bases with a bunt single before Clemente ended the game with a single. Cal McLish (2-4), the 6th of 8 Reds pitchers took the loss. Elroy Face (4-3) pitched 2 scoreless innings to get the win. Just 18 days since his 6-for-6 game, Groat went 5-for-6 to raise his average to .324. Clemente’s 2 hits put him at .355. He was honored as the NL’s player of the month for May as he hit .336 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 3 homers and 25 RBIs. Clemente was blossoming into the kind of hitter the Pirates had hoped for when he was drafted from the Dodger organization prior to the 1955 season. Clemente had very little minor league experience. He had signed a bonus large enough to expose him to the Rule 5 draft if not on the major league roster. Immediately placed at AAA Montreal upon signing, he had only 148 ABs there as the Dodgers tried to hide him on the bench when rival scouts were watching. His first 4 years with the Pirates (1955 through 1958) were inconsistent, hitting .255, .311, .253 and .289 with little power, as he was having to learn at the major league level. He maintained a good average in 1959, hitting .296 but had only 28 extra base hits including just 4 HRs and 50 RBIs. But now, after just 2 months of the 1960 season, Clemente had become a dominating hitter and a force the NL would have to reckon with.

For the month of May, the Pirates were 16-11.

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

Wednesday, June 1, 1960---Bob Friend’s 3-hit shutout against the Reds enabled the Pirates (28-14) to maintain a 1˝ lead over the second-place Giants. Friend (6-2) gave up 3 singles and a walk while striking out 6 to earn his 5th complete game and 3rd shutout of the season. The Pirates got 2 runs in the 1st when Hoak singled, Groat doubled and Nelson singled. They got 2 more in the 3rd when Friend singled, Skinner singled, Nelson walked and Clemente doubled 2 runs home. In the 7th, singles by Hoak, Groat and Skinner plated another run. The final was 5-0. The first 4 batters in the order, Hoak (.235), Groat (.328), Skinner (.340) and Nelson (.290) each had 2 hits for the Pirates. Former Pirate Bob Purkey (3-2) took the loss for Cincinnati. The Reds’ frustrations with the umpiring spilled over from the day before as catcher Ed Bailey was ejected in the 3rd inning. Purkey and Joe Nuxhall were each fined $25 for their conduct the night before.

Starting lineup:
Hoak 3B
Groat SS
Skinner LF
Nelson 1B
Clemente RF
Burgess C
Virdon CF
Mazeroski 2B
Friend P.

The Pirates also announced that 4th string catcher Danny Kravitz had been traded to Kansas City in exchange for former Pirate catcher Hank Foiles and cash. Kravtiz had spent portions of the 1956 and 1957 seasons with the Bucs and had stuck as a back-up catcher for the entire 1958 and 1959 seasons. Foiles had been the starting catcher in 1957 and 1958. Foiles and Kravitz had both served as back-ups to Burgess in 1959. So far in 1960, Kravitz, 29, had seen very little action, going 0 for 6 with a walk in 7 pinch hit appearances and appearing in 1 game as a catcher. The Pirates had traded Foiles on December 15, 1959 along with reliever Dick Hall and shortstop prospect Ken Hamlin to Kansas City for Hal Smith. Now, on June 1, 1960, the Pirates were trading Kravitz for Foiles. Foiles was then immediately traded to Cleveland to reacquire outfielder John Powers. So within 5 ˝ months, the Pirates traded Foiles away twice and traded for him once. Powers had been with the Pirates the entire 1958 season as a reserve OF/1B and mostly pinch-hitter. He had also spent small portions of the 1955, 56 and 57 seasons with the Bucs. He had been part of the January 1959 trade with the Reds that had brought Haddix, Hoak and Burgess to Pittsburgh. Now, having worked the Kravitz for Foiles for Powers deal, the Pirates assigned Powers to Columbus (AAA) and recalled OF Joe Christopher to replace Kravitz on the roster.

Thursday, June 2, 1960---The Pirates had an off-day as they prepared for a series in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, a Giants loss to the Cardinals put the Pirates ahead by 2 games. Clemente was voted the player of the month for May. For the season, he led the Bucs with a .350 average and 41 RBIs. Skinner (.340), Groat (.328), Burgess (.325) and Cimoli (.315) also topped the .300 mark. With Cimoli hitting so well, Virdon (.203) had seen little playing time lately. And with Stuart still stuck on 2 HRs, Nelson had been seeing a little more playing time as 1B. Law (7-1, 2.91) and Friend (6-2, 2.10) continued to dominate while relievers Face (4-3, 6 saves, 3.00) and Green (3-1, 2 saves, 3.09) had been very strong out of the bullpen lately.

The roster now had:
7 infielders (Stuart, Mazeroski, Groat, Hoak, Schofield, Baker, Nelson),
5 outfielders (Skinner, Cimoli, Clemente, Virdon, Christopher),
3 catchers (Burgess, Smith, Oldis)
10 pitchers (Friend, Law, Mizell, Haddix, Daniels, Gibbon, Umbricht, Face, Green, Giel).


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