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Wednesday, January 22 2020 @ 11:26 am UTC
1960 Revisited - September 6   
By Bobster

Tuesday, September 6, 1960---The second-place Braves came into Pittsburgh for a 3-game series hoping to do some damage. And although the Pirates (82-51) won 2 of the 3, the Braves did indeed do some damage. Braves starter Lew Burdette hit Dick Groat on the left wrist with a first inning pitch. Groat remained in the game but by the third inning, the wrist had swollen enough that he was forced out of the game. Reserve infielder Dick Schofield batted for Groat in the third and singled. Skinner followed with an RBI-double and Skinner scored on a single by Stuart to put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0.

Starter Joe Gibbon was cruising with a shutout until the Braves erupted for 3 in the top of the eighth to take a 3-2 lead before Clem Labine quelled the rally. This was a must-series for the Braves and they even used 17-game winner Warren Spahn in relief of Burdette. But in the bottom of the eighth, Stuart doubled and Clemente doubled him home a run to tie the game 3-3. Smoky Burgess followed with a single to score Clemente and give the Bucs a 4-3 lead. Later in the inning, activated coach Mickey Vernon (.333) batted for Labine and singled home pinch runner Joe Christopher to make it 5-3. Elroy Face pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win and notched his 22nd save. Spahn (17-9) took the loss in relief. Labine (2-0) got the win.

But the news after the game was bad for the Pirates. X-rays revealed that Groat had a fractured left wrist. With only 3 weeks left in the season, and the Pirates hoping for their first World Series since 1927, Murtaugh could hardly have received worse news. If Clemente was the Pirates most gifted athlete, Groat wasn’t far behind. Groat had been an All-American basketball player at Duke and had played in the NBA. He became the Pirates shortstop without ever serving a single day in the minor leagues. He was as steady as anyone at SS and was second in the N.L. batting race (.325) to the Dodgers’ Norm Larker (.331). The Pirates were not deep on the bench and Groat’s back-up, Schofield, had entered the 1960 season with a career batting mark of .195 despite being a switch-hitter. The Pirates would have Dick Schofield at shortstop for the foreseeable future. The Pirates were also without the services of Rocky Nelson, who was still hurting from being hit on the leg by a pitch two days earlier.

But the same pennant race that had seemingly re-energized Clem Labine, who now had a 1.47 ERA with the Pirates after 2 teams gave up on him earlier in the season, also appeared to turn the usually light-hitting Schofield into an offensive terror. He had 3 hits in the game to raise his average to .270 (10 for 37). Clemente (.323) also had 3 hits. Stuart (.260) had a pair of hits. The loss put the Braves in third place, 7½ games behind. The Cardinals moved into second place, 7 games off the pace.

Starting lineup:

Virdon CF
Groat SS
Skinner LF
Stuart 1B
Clemente RF
Burgess C
Hoak 3B,
Mazeroski 2B
Gibbon P

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