Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Day in Baseball (May 9), Was Roberto Clemente a stud for the Pittsburgh Pirates? John Klima's Story on Paul Pettit, Five-Stars

This day in baseball for May 9th has some eye-opening accomplishments. I would like to share those before I speak of the 2013 San Francisco Giants.

At the Polo Grounds, Carl Hubbell wins his 4th straight and his 20th in a row, subduing the Cubs, 4 - 1. The game is scoreless for six innings. Hubbell matches the mark of Rube Marquard, who won one game in 1911 and 19 straight more in 1912.

1938 - At Boston, Jimmie Foxx drives in five runs on a pair of homers to pace the Red Sox to a 15 - 3 drubbing of Cleveland. Jim Bagby is the winner.

1943 - Due to the poor grade of rubber cement used to make baseballs because of wartime rubber shortages, a different type of baseball is put into play today with dramatic results. In eight games, six home runs are hit compared to a total of nine homers tallied in the season's first 72 games.

In his first game outside of New York City, Jackie Robinson has two hits and scores twice in the Dodgers' 6 - 5 loss to the Phillies. After the game, the Dodgers give their young first baseman a vote of confidence by selling Howie Schultz, Robby's back-up, to the Phils for $50,000. The next day, Branch Rickey announces he's giving up his attempts to pry Johnny Mize away from the Giants.

Heralded Giant rookie Clint Hartung makes his first pitching appearance and throws six shutout innings of relief against the Braves. He will start 20 games and compile his best record at 9-7. He will also play seven games in the outfield and bat .309 for the year. But the Braves win today, 6 - 2, behind Warren Spahn.

The first-place Giants win their 7th in a row as Sheldon "Available" Jones stops the Cubs, 7 - 2. Aided by ten walks and homers by Sid Gordon and Willard Marshall, the Giants pin the loss on starter Ralph Hamner, who allows one hit in three innings.
1950 - Ralph Kiner of the Pirates hits his second grand slam in three days - and the eighth of his career - and adds a 3-run homer to drives in seven runs as the Pirates beat Brooklyn, 10 - 5.
1953 - At Boston, the first-place Yanks beat the Red Sox, 6 - 4. Mickey Mantle hits one homer off Bill Werle and is robbed of another when Jimmy Piersall makes a sensational catch at the Sox bullpen in right-center field.
Roberto Clemente's defensive gem and Ted Kluszewski's leadoff, walk-off, 12th-inning blast over Forbes Field's right field screen give Pittsburgh's Ron Kline a complete-game, 1 - 0 victory over Philly ace, and future Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts. Neither Kline's nor Klu's heroics, however, could have come to pass without Clemente's 4th-inning-ending eye-popper which turns what appears to be a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chico Fernandez into a double play. Clemente catches the ball and fires a perfect on-the-fly strike to the plate to nail a sliding Granny Hamner.
The Pirates' most dangerous hitter, Roberto Clemente, leads his team to a 9 - 6 decision over San Francisco, going 3 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBI, but his scariest shot comes before the game and travels about 60 feet. Les Biederman of The Sporting News reports: "Gino Cimoli can attest that Roberto Clemente hits the ball as hard as any batter in the league. Cimoli was pitching the final turn in batting practice before the night game with the Giants at Forbes Field when Clemente hit the last pitch before the Giants stepped into the cage. It was a liner that caught Cimoli on the left side below the heart and he went down in a heap. The Pirates outfielder walked off under his own steam. X-rays failed to reveal a fracture although Cimoli had a badly bruised side from the terrific impact of the ball."
1966 - At Minneapolis, the Yankees (6-20) edge the Twins, 3 - 2. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Joe Pepitone, with the game-winner in the 9th inning, hit homers for New York.
1967 - Cardinals outfielder # 9 Roger Maris hits his first National League home run on the ninth day of the month in seat 9 of section 9.
1971 - At San Francisco, the Braves and Giants split a pair. After the Giants win the opener, 5 - 2, the Braves take the nitecap, 6 - 5, in 11 innings. Orlando Cepeda connects for a grand slam and solo homer for Atlanta, while Willie McCovey has a 3-run home run for SF. The Braves win it in the 10th when Ralph Garr scores after collecting his 4th hit.
1972 - Career triple No. 160 for Roberto Clemente puts Pittsburgh up, 1 - 0, on Atlanta and the Bucs never look back. Clemente comes home on Richie Hebner's single and solo home runs from Willie Stargell and Dave Cash provide Pittsburgh's next two runs. Cash's 8th-inning RBI double supplies additional insurance and reliever Bruce Kison responds with a perfect 8th and 9th to nail down the 5 - 2 win for starter Dock Ellis.
The Reds' Johnny Bench slugs three home runs and knocks in seven runs in a 9 - 7 defeat of Steve Carlton and the Phillies. Bench homers in the 1st, walks in the 3rd, and homers again in the 5th and 7th. It is the second time Bench has hit three home runs in a game against Carlton; the first came on July 26, 1970. Bench ties a major-league record with four consecutive homers, having hit one in his final at-bat the previous night in the Reds' 7 - 1 win.

Baseball has such a rich tradition and history that there are many things you can read to put yourself back-in-time to a day when things were simpler. I know they had their difficulties like you and I but in reading about baseball it's the old-time stories that'll fetch your interest. Seems the writers had a way of capturing the readers interest although the recent book about the Milwaukee Braves also has that same knack for pulling the reader into the story and making them feel like they were there.

John Klima, who wrote "Bushville Wins" (after a comment Casey Stengel made about Milwaukee) also wrote about a player who signed for the biggest bonus before ever having played an inning. Entitled, "Deal of the Century," about Paul Pettit. The guy turned out to be a pretty decent player and when his arm was damaged Bobby Bragan offered him a position at first base and the guy lit the league up. But the "good ole boy" owners put him on some sort of unwritten blacklist and he wasn't picked up by any team, therefore retiring from baseball. Best story I have read in a while.

Kevin J. Marquez