Baseball Stars of 1960
As everyone knows from reading the first four posts of my High Heat Stats tenure, I enjoy writing about players and games from the past and this post will be no different, thanks to a gem of a book my brother happened to find in my father’s room.
Now, don’t worry, this will not be a book report – I haven’t written one of those in, well, decades so I probably wouldn’t be any good at it but I will tell you that the book is about 30 players who were touted to be the “Stars of 1960″ and the essays written about them shine a spotlight on their 1959 season(s).
For this piece, I will forego writing about the usual suspects like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Don Drysdale because that’s boring and predictable. Instead, you will read about Roy Face, Sam Jones, and Wally Moon, who were well-known then but who may not be as recognizable to most fans today.
Roy Face of the Pittsburgh Pirates:
Face was described in the book as “small enough to get by in a New York subway rush, but large enough in spirit and heart to have picked off 18 incredible victories in 57 relief appearances last year.” Those 18 wins that he picked up as a reliever, are still a league record. In 1959, the right hander finished 18-1 with a 2.71 ERA. He followed that up with a 10-8 record in 1960 with a 2.90 ERA, 130 ERA+ and a 1.064 WHIP.
As most baseball fans and historians know, 1960 was also a big year for Face’s Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the World Series in an exciting seven-game set against the New York Yankees. It was also big for Face who became the first pitcher to save three games in a series.
Face made the All-Star team in 1959, 1960 and 1961 and also finished in the Top 20 of the MVP voting from 1958-1960. He finished with a career record of 104-95 and an ERA of 3.48.
Sam Jones of the San Francisco Giants:
According to Arnold Hano, author of the essay on Sam Jones in the book, Jones had the best season of any pitcher in 1959. He won 21 games, pitched four shutouts, was second in strike outs to Don Drysdale – Jones finished with 209, he made 50 appearances, he led the league in earned run average and he performed well against the teams the Giants had to beat – the Braves and the Dodgers. He beat those teams nine times in 1959. Unfortunately for Jones and his Giants, it wasn’t enough. They finished third behind Milwaukee and the Division winning Dodgers with an 83-71 record.
Jones finished second in Cy Young voting, was named to the All-Star team and he also finished 5th in MVP voting in 1959.
He followed that up with a less stellar 1960. It’s not like he was bad, he won 18 games but his ERA went up a tick from his career best 2.83 in 1959 to 3.18. Jones played in his final game on October 3, 1964 with Baltimore.
Wally Moon of the Los Angeles Dodgers:
Moon happens to be the only position player I’m focusing on in this piece and as Ray Robinson says in his essay, “[Moon] has always gotten his job done, but somebody else always has gotten the applause and the kudos.”
And when I googled Moon’s name to get more info on him, “Wally Moon unibrow” was one of the first results I got. This is why:
He finished 1959 with a .302/.394/.495/.890 line, hitting 19 home runs and collecting 74 RBI. He was an All-Star and finished fourth in the MVP vote. Moon hit .261/.320/.391/.711 in his first Dodgers World Series appearance in 1959 with one home run and two RBI.
Moon followed up his 1959 with a Gold Glove and 13 home runs in 1960. He actually ended up havin his best offensive season the following year. Moon finished his 1961 batting .328/.434/.940. He also accumulated 89 walks that year.
Moon played with the Dodgers until 1965 when they won another World Series title. He retired at age 35.
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