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Wednesday, August 16 2017 @ 12:59 pm UTC
1960 Revisited - October 2   
By Bobster

Sunday, October 2, 1960--- The National League Champion Pittsburgh Pirates (95-59) wrapped up their regular season by getting some measure of revenge on Lew Burdette, denying the Bravesí pitcher his 20th win. It was Burdette whose pitch broke Dick Groatís wrist on September 6th. But now Groat was back and the Pirates defeated Burdette (19-13) behind Vinegar Bend Mizell (13-5) and Harvey Haddix. The Pirates scored 2 in the first inning. Joe Christopher led off with a single and advanced to third on a pair of ground outs. He scored on a single by Nelson, who then scored on a double by Clemente.

The Braves tied it 2-2 in the second. Nelson led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and, one out later, advanced to second on a walk to Burgess. Both runners scored on a Hoak triple. Hoak then scored on a single by Schofield. The Braves came back with 2 in the fifth to make it 5-4. Haddix, who hadnít pitched in a week, made his first relief appearance of the season, pitching the final 4 innings as a tune-up for the World Series. The Pirates scored 1 in the fifth to lead 6-4 when Groat singled, went to third on a Nelson single and scored on a Clemente groundout. The Braves scored a run in the top of the sixth to trail 6-5. But in the bottom of the sixth, Hoak doubled and scored on a Haddix double to make it a 7-5 game. Skinner led off the bottom of the seventh with a double. Stuart batted for Nelson and singled Skinner home. R.C. Stevens ran for Stuart. Hoak singled Stevens to second and Schofield singled to score Stevens, making it a 9-5 game. The Bucs got 3 hits apiece from Nelson (.300), Hoak (.282) and Schofield (.333).

Groat was 1 for 4 as he finished with a batting average of .325. In the final 3 games, he went 3 for 10. In Los Angeles, the Dodgersí Norm Larker was moved up to second in the batting order (he usually batted fourth) to get him more chances to raise his average. But Larker went only 1 for 3 with a walk to finish at .323. Groat was the N.L. batting champion. Larker would later thank Groat for showing class and not sitting out those games while Larker chased him. After all, Groat hadnít batted in about 4 weeks when he returned with the batting title on the line. But Groat was far less interested in the batting title than he was in the World Series. He returned to the lineup in the final weekend to test his wrist before the Series. He was pleased to see that the wrist held up, despite being atrophied from 4 weeks in a cast. The batting title was just icing on the cake. For Larker, a firstbaseman with little power, 1960 would be his best season. It was the only time that he would top .289 in his 6-year ML career.

In Groatís absence, Dick Schofield had been amazing. Schofield had spent parts of 6 seasons with the Cardinals as a reserve shortstop before being acquired by the Pirates in mid-season in 1958. He entered the 1960 season with a career batting mark of .195. He was hitting .206 when Groat went down on September 6th with the broken wrist. Schofield stepped in and hit .397 from that point onward, finishing the season at .333, a career high. Groat was leading the Pirates in hitting and was second in the entire N.L. when he was injured. No one could have expected that Schofield, known as a good field/no-hit shortstop would proceed to hit even better than Groat until Groat was able to return. But thatís exactly what Schofield did. Beginning with the September 6 game when Schofield took over for Groat, Schofield hit safely in 17 of 21 games with 8 multi-hit games among the 17.

Groat was a model of consistency in 1960. Although his longest hitting streak was just 11 games, he never went more than 3 consecutive games without a hit, and that only happened three times. There were also only three times he went 2 games without a hit. Twenty-three times he went only 1 game without a hit. He hit safely in every other game he started. Despite missing 18 games in September with a broken wrist, Groatís 186 hits in 1960 were only 4 short of Willie Maysí 190 for the major league lead. He finished 6th in the NL in OBP. Groat also finished 3rd in the NL in sacrifices with 12.

Starting lineup:

Christopher CF
Groat SS
Skinner LF
Nelson 1B
Clemente RF
Burgess C
Hoak 3B
Schofield 2B
Mizell P.

Mizell had been 1-3 with the Cardinals before the May 28th trade that brought him to the Pirates. He went 13-5 for the Bucs. His overall N.L. record of 14-8 tied his career high for wins. Rookie Julian Javier, the Pirate AAA prospect traded for Mizell, hit .237 with 4 HRs and 21 RBIs in 119 games for St.L. Javier led the N.L. in sacrifices in 1960, despite spending the first 2 months of the season in the minors prior to the trade. He was 6th in the league in stolen bases with 19. Javier would be a fixture at 2B for the Cardinals for 12 years. He was an All-Star in 1963 and 1968. He would be teamed with Groat in St.L. from 1963-1965. Groat would join Javier on the All-Star team in 1963 and went again in 1964.

Meanwhile in NY, the American League Champion New York Yankees (97-57) ended their regular season with an 8-7 over Boston, their 15th straight win. The Yankees entered the bottom of the 9th trailing 7-6 but won it on a walk-off 2-run HR by Dale Long. Duke Maas (5-1) got the win in relief. Ralph Terry started the game for NY and Whitey Ford worked 2 innings of relief as the Yankees tuned up for the World Series.

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