50 years ago: a look back at Marichal and Spahn

1963 NL Pitching LeadersJuly 2nd was the 50th anniversary of the famous duel between Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn. Both starters logged a complete game that was not decided until Willie Mays connected with a 16th inning walk-off homer for a 1-0 Giants win.

A fond look back at this iconic game after the jump.

Like this year, July 2nd was a Tuesday in 1963, with crisp, clear conditions in San Francisco for an evening tilt between the Giants and Braves, the first of a 3-game set. Weather records for the Alameda Naval Air Station, on the east side of San Francisco Bay, show a maximum temperature of only 69 degrees that day with sustained winds of 17 mph. Likely, it was as much as 10 degrees cooler and just as windy on the west side of the bay at Candlestick Park. In the crowd that night was a Braves’ fan making his first visit to San Francisco – Bud Selig recalls that “it felt like I was in Milwaukee in January”.

The Giants were the defending NL champions and had started 1963 on a 19-10 roll. A 7-game losing skid starting the month of June dropped them out of first place, but they had recovered with a 13-8 run coming into the Braves series and stood a close 3rd in the NL standings, a game behind the Dodgers and a game-and-a-half back of the Cardinals from whom the Giants had just taken 3 of 4. The Braves were in 6th at 38-38 but had themselves been on a recent roll with a 12-7 mark, including 10-5 in their most recent homestand.

San Francisco was the second stop on a six-city, 21-game road swing that had started with the Braves splitting a four game set at Dodger Stadium. Despite their recent run, the Braves’ offense had been rather anemic of late, being held to 2 runs or less in 6 of their last 12. The pitching though was superb with four shutouts over the same period and two other contests holding the opposition under 3 runs. The Giants offense was looking sharper with 12 straight games scoring 3 runs or more, though their pitching staff had held the opposition under 3 runs only once in that period.

Spahn was coming off a shutout in the Dodger series and had had another against the Phillies during the long homestand. Overall, though, his ERA over his last 8 games was just 3.58, even with those two shutouts plus a forgettable game against the Mets on June 5th when he allowed 6 runs over 5.2 IP, but lowered his ERA with all the tallies counting as unearned.

Marichal had a miniscule 1.10 ERA over his last 6 starts, including a shutout of the Dodgers followed by a no-hitter against the Colt .45s. Marichal had allowed over 3 runs only 4 times in his first 19 games, and hadn’t allowed over 4 runs since opening day. Marichal’s 103 strikeouts easily bested his mark of 74 over the same period in 1962 as he and other fireballers took full advantage of a rule change in 1963 that expanded the strike zone, formerly from from top of the knees to the armpits, but now from the bottom of the knees to top of the shoulders.

As they took the mound this Tuesday evening, both starters were working on 3 days rest, Marichal for the fifth time since the beginning of June, and Spahn for the third.

Here is the Braves’ lineup.

Milwaukee Braves AB R H RBI BB SO WPA aLI RE24 PO A
Lee Maye  LF 6 0 0 0 1 0 -0.172 1.24 -0.8 3 0 SB
Frank Bolling  2B 7 0 2 0 0 0 -0.128 1.30 -0.5 3 4
Hank Aaron  RF 6 0 0 0 1 1 -0.186 1.55 -1.0 3 0
Eddie Mathews  3B 2 0 0 0 0 2 -0.039 0.78 -0.3 0 0
   Denis Menke  3B 5 0 2 0 0 1 -0.023 1.69  0.0 1 1 SB
Norm Larker  1B 5 0 0 0 2 0 -0.163 1.59 -0.8 14 4
Mack Jones  CF 5 0 1 0 0 2 -0.149 1.59 -0.6 7 0
   Don Dillard  PH-CF 1 0 0 0 0 1 -0.067 2.93 -0.3 3 0
Del Crandall  C 6 0 2 0 0 0 -0.198 1.71 -0.9 5 0 CS
Roy McMillan  SS 6 0 0 0 0 0 -0.199 1.35 -1.0 4 7
Warren Spahn  P 6 0 1 0 0 3 -0.146 1.43 -0.7 3 4 2B
Team Totals 55 0 8 0 4 10 -1.470 1.49 -6.7 46 20

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 7/4/2013.

Interesting to note that though this was their eleventh season in Milwaukee, the Braves still had Spahn, Crandall, Mathews and (until he was traded on June 15th) Lew Burdette as holdovers from their Boston days.

And, the Giants’ scorecard.

San Francisco Giants AB R H RBI BB SO WPA aLI RE24 PO A
Harvey Kuenn  3B 7 0 1 0 0 0 -0.005 1.39 -0.3 5 2 2B
Willie Mays  CF 6 1 1 1 1 1 0.291 1.49  0.6 3 1 HR,IW
Willie McCovey  LF 6 0 1 0 0 0 -0.192 1.50 -0.8 4 0
Felipe Alou  RF 6 0 1 0 0 0 -0.198 1.87 -1.1 5 0
Orlando Cepeda  1B 6 0 2 0 0 0 -0.009 1.67  0.3 15 1 SB
Ed Bailey  C 6 0 1 0 0 0 -0.259 2.29 -1.3 12 1
Jose Pagan  SS 2 0 0 0 0 0 -0.058 1.17 -0.5 1 1
   Jim Davenport  PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 -0.071 2.95 -0.4
   Ernie Bowman  SS 3 0 2 0 0 0 -0.051 2.31 -0.2 0 2
Chuck Hiller  2B 6 0 0 0 0 0 -0.222 1.57 -1.0 2 2
Juan Marichal  P 6 0 0 0 0 1 -0.195 1.32 -0.8 1 3
Team Totals 55 1 9 1 1 2 -0.969 1.68 -5.5 48 13

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 7/4/2013.

Frank Bolling got the first hit of the night, a one-out single in the first, but was stranded right there. With two outs in the 2nd, Crandall reached second on a two-base throwing error by Harvey Kuenn, but could advance no further. In the Giant second, Cepeda had a one-out single, stole second, and advanced to third on an Ed Bailey flyout. But, Spahn induced a Jose Pagan pop-up to end the threat. Clean sheets for both pitchers in the 3rd, but the Braves made some noise in the 4th on a 2-out walk to Norm Larker followed by a Mack Jones single to left that held Larker at second. When Crandall followed with a single to right-center Larker tried to score, but was gunned down at the plate by Willie Mays.

The Braves put runners in scoring position with stolen bases in the 5th and 6th. But, when veteran catcher Del Crandall tried to do the same after a lead-off single in the 7th, Bailey threw him out (Crandall would go 1 for 5 in stolen bases in 1963, and 0 for 3 in 1964). That out would prove to be critical as Spahn followed with a two-out double, but was stranded by Lee Maye.

After retiring 11 of 12, Spahn surrendered two-out singles to Cepeda and Bailey in the Giant 7th. That prompted a move to the Giant bench with regular 3rd baseman Jim Davenport summoned to pinch-hit for Pagan, who was just 7 for 47 (.149) against Spahn. Davenport was 19 for 79 (.241) lifetime against the lefty, with two homers and three doubles, so the move made some sense. This time, though, Spahn got the upper hand, inducing a flyout to Mack Jones in center. That would end Davenport’s night as Lee Bowman took over for Pagan at short.

The next big moment came with one out in the Giants’ 9th. McCovey hit a towering shot over the right-field foul pole and deep into the seats. The game may have ended right there as the ball appeared fair to many observers. But the umpire called it foul, and McCovey ended up grounding out. After the inning, Giant manager Al Dark asked Marichal whether he wanted to come out – Marichal declined the offer, unwilling, at age 25, to be outlasted by the 42 year-old Spahn. So, on to extras.

Nobody made it past first base from the 10th to the 13th. A lead-off single by Bowman in the home 13th went for naught when Spahn picked him off first before the Giants could sacrifice Bowman into scoring position. A one-out walk in the Braves’ 14th brought up Don Dillard to pinch-hit for Mack Jones. Dillard had never had a hit off Marichal and didn’t get one now, striking out as he would do against Marichal 3 other times that season. In the Giant 14th, Kuenn led off with a double that had the unfortunate effect (for the Giants) of inducing an intentional walk to Willie Mays. Spahn then retired McCovey and Alou but a booted grounder by Dennis Menke (who had replaced Mathews at 3rd base) loaded the bases for Ed Bailey. For the second time in the game, Bailey could not connect with RISP, flying out to Dillard in center.

Nothing of consequence in the 15th or the Braves 16th, the latter ending with a come-backer to the mound by Norm Larker on Marichal’s 227th pitch. After Spahn retired Kuenn to start the home 16th, Willie Mays deposited Spahn’s 201st offering into the seats to send the fans (what remained of the 15,000 plus) home happy.

Here are the pitchers’ final lines:

Warren Spahn, L (11-4) 15.1 9 1 1 1 2 1 2.84 56 97 0.970 1.68  5.5
Juan Marichal, W (13-3) 16 8 0 0 4 10 0 2.14 59 112 1.470 1.49 6.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 7/4/2013.

As remarkable as this game was, it was certainly not something that hadn’t happened before. It was the longest shutout since an 18-inning 1-0 shutout by Carl Hubbell, exactly 30 years before, to the day. Spahn himself had two earlier 15 inning games, in 1951 and 1952, and a 14-inning game in 1948. Spahn would have 22 more complete games after this contest (the last at age 44 playing with Mays and the Giants), but this was his final time going into extras. For Marichal, it was his first game of longer than 10 innings, but 5 more games of 11+ innings would be in Marichal’s future.

At the time, this game drew comparisons to a virtually identical game  in 1954 when Jack Harshman of the White Sox outlasted the Tigers’ Al Aber, with the only run scoring on a Minnie Minoso triple in the home 16th. But, Harshman and Abel are not Marichal and Spahn. The star value of the protagonists and the diminishing frequency of similar games quickly elevated this 1963 contest to iconic status. Indeed, there have been no shutouts or complete games since that have gone as many innings.

The progressive decline in marathon starts is shown in the chronological list below. The numbers in the cells for each game are the number of innings pitched that correspond with the indicated event. Each game shown is the most recent of the type and length indicated.

One Pitcher Both Pitchers
Game, Pitcher(s) Start CG Shutout Start CG
1920-05-01, Leon Cadore (ND), Joe Oeschger (ND) 26 26 26 26
1920-05-03, Dana Fillingim (W), Sherry Smith (L) 18.1
1920-08-27, Art Nehf (W), Ray Fisher (L) 17
1927-05-17, Bob Smith (L) 22 22
1929-05-24, George Uhle (W), Ted Lyons (L)  21 21 20
1933-07-02, Carl Hubbell (W) 18 18
1934-07-01, Dizzy Dean (W), Tony Freitas (ND) 17
1936-04-29, Ray Parmalee (W), Carl Hubbell (L) 16.1 16.1
1944-09-24, Mort Cooper (W), Ken Raffensberger (L) 16 16
1945-07-21, Les Mueller (ND) 19.2
1952-09-06, Robin Roberts (W) 17
1955-07-19, Vern Law (ND) 18
1963-07-02, Juan Marichal (W), Warren Spahn (L) 16 16 15.1 15.1
1963-07-23, Mudcat Grant (W), Camilo Pascual (L) 12.2
1965-10-02, Chris Short (ND), Rob Gardner (ND) 15
1966-05-26, Juan Marichal (W) 14
1967-09-01, Gaylord Perry (ND) 16
1969-10-02, Bob Gibson (W), Grant Jackson (L) 11.2
1974-04-17, Gaylord Perry (ND) 15
1974-05-22, Ross Grimsley (W) 12
1974-06-14, Luis Tiant (L) 14.1 14.1
1976-06-05, Mark Fidrych (W), Bert Blyleven (L) 11
1976-08-27, Catfish Hunter (ND), Frank Tanana (ND) 13
1980-05-16, Jesse Jefferson (W), Mike Norris (L) 10.2
1980-05-17, Matt Keough (W), Dave Stieb (ND) 12
1980-08-10, Steve McCatty (L) 14 14
1983-07-30, Tommy John (L) 12
1984-09-23, Dave Stewart (W), Jim Slaton (L) 10
1986-06-11, Charlie Hough (ND) 13
1987-10-02, Jeff Sellers (ND), Teddy Higuera (L) 11.1 11
1990-07-06, Andy Hawkins (L) 11.2
1990-08-01, Dave Stewart (W), Erik Hanson (ND) 11 11 11 10
2005-04-23, Mark Mulder (W) 10
2007-04-13, Roy Halladay (W) 10
2012-04-18, Cliff Lee (ND) 10


Despite their 200+ pitches, both Marichal and Spahn answered the bell for their next starts (though both did get 4 days rest), and both did so without noticeable ill effects. The 42 year-old Spahn completed 9 of his next 10 starts and 12 of 15, going 12-3 the rest of the way to finish 23-7 for the season. Marichal closed out the season going at least 7 innings in 20 of 21 starts, with a 12-5 record to finish at 25-8 for the year.

The Braves won the next two days to take the series from the Giants, continuing what would be a 54-35 run that propelled them to within 7 games of the front-running Dodgers on Sep 9th. But, they stumbled badly after that, finishing 4-13 and well back. The Giants fell as far as 10 games back on July 20th but miraculously closed that to only 3.5 games just 10 days later on July 30th. They would get a half-game closer by August 15th, but a 20-22 finish left them well back of the Dodgers and Cardinals at the end. The Dodgers would crown their 99-win season with a convincing World Series sweep of the Yankees, holding the Bombers to just 4 total runs for the series.

To close, who can spot the error in this contemporary box score of the game?



50 years ago: a look back at Marichal and Spahn — 48 Comments

  1. For those who may be curious (I was), here is the same reverse progression list for longest relief appearances, showing the most recent game by length of appearance.

    Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR BF
    1 Eddie Rommel 1932-07-10 PHA CLE W 18-17 17.0 29 14 13 9 7 0 87
    7 Lindy McDaniel 1973-08-04 NYY DET W 3-2 2-14f,W 13.0 6 1 1 3 3 1 48
    40 Dick Tidrow 1976-08-25 NYY MIN W 5-4 7-17 10.2 4 0 0 0 4 0 35
    66 Len Barker 1977-09-17 TEX MIN W 5-4 8-17f,W 9.2 4 0 0 3 8 0 34
    82 Bob Stanley 1980-10-04 (1) BOS TOR L 6-7 8-17f,BL 9.1 7 3 2 3 0 1 39
    94 Neil Allen 1988-05-31 NYY OAK W 5-0 1-9f ,W 9.0 3 0 0 0 5 0 30
    649 Shaun Marcum 2013-06-08 NYM MIA L 1-2 13-20f,L 8.0 5 1 1 0 7 0 28
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 7/5/2013.
    • Neil Allen’s BR stats page has him credited with a shutout. He relieved Al Leiter who pitched to just one batter, gave up a hit and was removed from the game, why I don’t know. And I don’t know why Allen was credited with a shutout, his stats page shows no CG. He had 2 starts in 1988 and neither was a CG or shutout.

        • Ed: I did some PI searching. I found 5 other games in which a relief pitcher met the criteria for that rule.

          Bob Miller on 7-30-55
          Cy Moore on 7-14-33
          Earl Whitehill on 9-29-23
          Jesse Haines on 9-2-21
          Ernie Shore on 6-23-17

          None of them except Shore was credited with a shutout. Of course that was the game in which he relieved Babe Ruth and retired all 26 batters he faced (the batter who Ruth walked was CS).

          • Richard – No idea why those others weren’t credited with a shutout. Obviously the rule was already in effect. I even looked at Bob Miller’s stats page on mlb.com and it shows him with no shutouts in 1955.

            A google search did come up with an AP report on the Neil Allen and they do specifically mention him being credited with a shutout due to that rule. (though it was 10.19 at the time).


            My best guess for why those others weren’t credited with a shutout…section 10 of the rulebook deals with Officials Scorers. Perhaps the men who were charged with scoring those particular games weren’t aware of the rule and therefore didn’t credit the pitchers with a shutout, the way they were supposed to? Just a guess….

        • The reliever-shutout provision strikes me as another MLB rule that has not been completely thought through in all its implications:

          — A reliever can get a shutout, as long as it is also a team shutout. However…

          — A reliever cannot get a no-hitter, even if he records all 27 outs and it is a team no-hitter. An individual must pitch the entire game to get a no-hitter.

          What is the essential difference between a shutout and a no-hitter that justifies this different treatment?

          • Ernie Shore is still credited with a no-hitter (and perfect game), is he not?

            That is, BTW, still the only 9 IP relief outing allowing no hits. Bob Milliken (1953) and Herb Pennock (1917) went 8.1 hitless innings to finish games.

            Longest recent one was Jake Westbrook pitching 7 perfect innings on 4/19/2004. He entered the game before any outs were recorded, but after 4 runs had already scored.

          • Actually, I’m glad to hear that. Never understood why he used to be credited with the no-hitter and the perfecto. To me, the pitcher should have to face 27 batters. Period.

          • At one time, Shore’s game was generally listed among the perfect games, although with an asterisk and explanation. According to his SABR bio, it was a Fay Vincent committee in 1991 that ruled both Shore’s game and Haddix’s were not perfect games. Obviously, Shore and Haddix were not perfect games the way others’ were perfect games, and I have a lot of respect for Vincent, but I think this was not the best decision. Not all asterisks are alike; some enrich historical compilations.

          • –bill, If the committee’s vote had fallen this way in the forest and no one had heard, would Hawkins have pitched a no-hitter?
            Hawkins *did* pitch a no-hitter – a complete game with no hits; everyone in baseball and the press knew it was a no-hitter. But the ’91 committee, when it redefined “no-hitter,” rewrote a century of history to conform to its view. No-hitters that did not meet with favor were airbrushed from history like incautious Soviet commissars.

            There’s certainly a logic to the committee’s view – even clearer for perfect games, as Doug’s view (@37) reflects – but imposing the 9 IP and no extra-inning hits/base runners on pre-’91 games is a little like deciding that a BA qualifier must have 3.1 PA per scheduled game and rewriting the pre-’59 list of batting champions (and so forth).

            I think this kind of logic applies well to statistical errors (go ahead, lower Cobb’s average), but is not the best way to handle historical events, honors, and so forth. We don’t, for example, credit Marquard with a 20-game winning streak (though most accounts will add a note that we could).

          • @39 Andy Hawkins lost no-hitter

            Mark Gardner (7/26/91) was another, and he pitched the full 9 innings.

    • I think that the first game listed (the Ed Rommel game)happened because Connie Mack only took a couple pitchers for a short road trip to Cleveland. I think that this is also the game where Johnny Burnett of the Indians set the record of nine hits in a game.

      • Due to Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, at the time, the A’s scheduled a one-day trip to Cleveland in the middle of a home stand. That was a common practice then. To save a few bucks on travel expenses Mack sent only two pitchers which I suspect was standard practice for him. This time it backfired as starting pitcher Lew Krausse was removed from the game after a poor first inning. Rommel was stuck pitching the last 17 innings of that game. And that was the game of Burnett’s 9 hits.

        • Another example of those Pennsylvania blue laws can be seen in the first two games on the reverse progression list in the article.

          Game 1 of course was the 26-inning tie between Boston and Brooklyn, on a Saturday, the second game of that series. The next day, Sunday, the Phillies are playing Brooklyn in a game lasting 13 innings (both pitchers went the distance). Game 2 on the list was the day after that, on Monday, with the resumption of the Braves/Robins series, a 19 inning marathon with, again, both starters going the distance. In total, the Robins played 58 innings (6 1/2 games) in 3 days, and used only 3 pitchers.

        • I hate to digress (but I will :) ), but I know Lew Krausse’s son, Lew Krausse, Jr., who also pitched for the A’s (the younger Krausse pitched for the KC version). He was a bonus baby for the A’s in the early sixties and had a couple pretty good years for some bad teams in the 60s and 70s. After his playing days were over, he moved to my hometown, Kearney, MO (whose most famous residents were bank robbers), where his two sons played ball with me growing up. (they were decent HS players but obviously not at their Dad or granddad’s level). LKJr helped coach our summer team a couple times. He had some interesting stories about life in the majors (more along the lines of “Ball Four” than “Historical Baseball Abstract”)

          • Digress away, Brent.

            LK Jr. is the youngest pitcher (by a whopping 21 months) to throw a 9-inning shutout in his ML debut, and also the youngest to do so, period (debut or otherwise), 12 days younger than Von McDaniel.


            Kearney is not too far away from Joplin, MO, hometown of Frank Shellenback, one of only 9 pitchers with multiple shutouts as a teenager. Frank was a spitballer who played 20 years in the minors after the spitball was outlawed and he was not grand-fathered, apparently due to oversight by the White Sox.

          • That was Jr., Doug (surely just a typo). When Jr. came up with that big splash, all the papers were gushing about “the son of Lew Krausse,” and I’m sure many people like me assumed that Old Lew had been a household name we’d simply missed (pre-Macmillan days, it wasn’t so easy to follow up). Turned out Jr. was “the” Lew Krausse, and when I first saw Richard’s comment @16 I thought, Oh, yeah – the father of Lew Krausse!

            Great connection, Brent! Wish I’d heard those stories.

      • @16/Richard,

        Thanks much for the additional details.

        This is off-topic, but I’ve never used this factoid before: We’ve all heard about how back in “the good old days”, starting pichers were expected to finish their games. So…, you’d expect that it wasn’t too many decades ago that complete games were at least half of all games started, perhaps the mid-60s, or the 50s at the earlist?

        Well, guess again – it was 1922. Yes, that was the last year that starters finished at least half their games. So relievers have been used quite a bit, for quite a while.

        If somebody here with a greater facility for graphics than me were ambitious, they could create a lovely bar graph showing the precise visual trend of starting pitchers finishing progressively less starts over the years. It would start fairly flat, and look like a long ski slope.

    • Thanks Matt,

      Looking at that photo, you’d hardly guess that Mays is just 6 years older than Marichal.

      227 pitches, and not even an ice-down after the game! You’d think he’d hardly have the strength to lift his arm, much less kibbitz with Mays.

  2. You could probably find four players in a single game from the last 20 years who exceed this, but Aaron/Mays/McCovey/Matthews = 2448 HR. (Throw in Cepeda and you’re at 2827, but that would undoubtedly be easier to beat for five players.)

    • I’m not so sure you can beat that total. You would need Bonds to substitute for Aaron, but most of the other big boppers were in the AL. Also the most HR of any teammate of Bonds is 399 for Galarraga and 377 for Kent.

      Without Bonds, probably the best you can do is 2444 (so close) with A-Rod, Griffey, Thome and Manny, of which there will be numerous games from the late 90s. Add Albert Belle and you get to 2825 (even closer). Check again later in the season and I think this group will have passed Aaron/Mays/McCovey/Mathews/Cepeda.

      One of those Inidan-Mariner games (on 8/7/96) had Thome/Ramirez/Belle/Kent for Cleveland and A-Rod/Griffey/Buhner/Ibanez for Seattle. Over 3800 career HR in total, an average of 475 per man (would have been a touch higher if Edgar had been in the game).

      • The fifties were a strange time in certain ways. Second basemen like Frank Bolling were all over the place, and as for Bill Tuttle—who was in the 1954 game and also highlights your previous post—he was Jim Busby in disguise, and Jim Peirsall was a manic clone of the two—if that makes sense. Light to medium power glovemen at second and in center, a theory no longer so prevalent., I’d guess.

        Harvey Kuenn, though was distinctive, if not unique.

          • Very strange Doug! For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Baltimore intentionally walked the pitcher. The situation doesn’t seem to call for it – top of the 9th, score tied, one out, runner on second.

            The pitcher in question – Lou Sleater – hit 3 home runs in only 23 PAs that year. But at that point in the season, he had only one home run and no track record of being a quality hitting pitcher. Meanwhile Kuenn was an established star, having just played in his 5th straight all-star game.

          • Actually, it was the bottom of the 9th and the runner at 2nd was the winning run. So, Sleater’s run meant nothing.

            Nevertheless, I’d still take my chances with the pitcher and, assuming he is retired, face Kuenn with two outs rather than one (or walk Kuenn and face Bolling).

            Possibly, Paul Richards was playing platoon advantage as his pitcher was righty George Zuverink and the next 3 hitters after lefty Sleater were all right-hand batters. The IW, incidentally, was the only time Sleater ever faced Zuverink.

  3. The interesting thing about Spahn was that he was completely done after 1963. 23-7, and ERA+ of 124, and 4.0 WAR, in 1963. 6-13 with an ERA+ of 67 and -1.9WAR in 1964, and 7-16 with an ERA+ of 89 in 1965. Like an incandescent light bulb glowing extra bright before it burns out.

    • Stating the incredibly obvious – I think being 43 years old in 1964 had a lot to do with that; yes, rather amazing what he did at age-42.

      Great quote from Spahn: “I pitched for Casey Stengel both before (Braves/1942) and after (Mets/1965) he was a genius”.

      • I wonder if any other player has done that, played for the same manager 23 years apart on two different teams.

        • Jesse Orosco was managed by Joe Torre in 1979 and in 2003 – 24 years apart.

          It wasn’t 23 years, but I guess you could also say that Yogi would also fit this category.

          Reggie Jackson was another, managed by John McNamara in Oakland (1969-70) and in Anaheim (1983-84).

          • Can’t match Orosco and Spahn, but Harry Davis finished up with a string of cameos lasting till 1917 for Mack’s A’s – he’d been a Pirate in 1895 when Mack was a rookie manager.

      • Not sure when Spahn would have had the chance to form an opinion on Casey’s “genius”. Maybe during their World Series encounters.

        Spahn played all of 4 games with the ’42 Braves, two in April and two in September. The rest of the year was in the minors (33 games). In ’65, the Mets released Spahn a week before Casey got canned. So, it would seem Casey dumped Spahn early and late.

        Do you know what Spahn did after he hung up his cleats? Actually he didn’t hang them up. He pitched a year in Mexico, and then another year in Tulsa.

      • LA at 21, I agree, to a point, Spahn was a machine. Ages 40, 41 and 42: 263, 269, 260 IP. ERA+ of 122, 125 and 124. WAR of 4.1, 5.6, and 4.0. Led the league in Wins, ERA, CG, and WHIP at age 40, and led in complete games all three years. And then he got old at 43. Very sharp decline.

        • Advanced stats tell an unfamiliar story. I started following baseball statistics in ’56 and believed that the sun rose in the East every day and Spahn won 20 games every year. Then in ’62 he won 18 – as unsettling as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The world as we had known it was no more and I had no doubt Spahn was done for. (This is really true – 18-14 ought to be fine, but my friends and I saw Spahn differently.) Then in ’63 he matched his best year ever (Spahn was defined by W-L) – a miracle: time in reverse, and I was sure he’d last forever.

          Use ERA plus and the drama disappears; use WAR and it’s ’62 that’s Spahn’s late glory year. Until noticing the figures in Mike L’s comment, I hadn’t realized that I was a half-century late in revising this story.

  4. Nice history, Doug! And Willie was due:

    (1) His 18 career HRs off Spahn were 4 more than anyone else, with a .305 BA and .955 OPS.

    (2) It was his 7th PA of the game. In 31 such games, Willie hit 14 HRs in 230 PAs, or 6.1% — better than his career rate of 5.3%.

  5. Billy Martin’s destruction of four promising young pitchers is represented by the 3 games from 1980 in the reverse progression list in the article, including games against Toronto on consecutive days and a 14-inning complete game loss, one of 94 complete games that Oakland compiled that year. That was the most since the 1946 Tigers had the same total. Oakland had 60 more complete games in 1981. Since then, the most was 48 by the 1984 Orioles. Most since 1990 – 29 by the ’90 Dodgers; since 2000 – 18 by the 2011 Phillies.

    Just to show Martin played no favorites, here are the 10-inning+ starts for Oakland that season, including a 14-inning CG for each of his four starters.

    Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR BF
    1 Mike Norris 1980-05-16 OAK TOR L 0-1 CG 11 ,L 10.2 4 1 1 4 4 0 40
    2 Matt Keough 1980-05-17 OAK TOR W 4-2 CG 14 ,W 14.0 5 2 1 6 8 0 48
    3 Mike Norris 1980-06-11 OAK BAL W 6-2 CG 14 ,W 14.0 12 2 2 2 5 1 51
    4 Mike Norris 1980-07-02 OAK MIL W 5-3 CG 10 ,W 10.0 5 3 3 5 8 1 38
    5 Rick Langford 1980-07-20 OAK CLE W 6-5 CG 14 ,W 14.0 8 5 4 1 4 1 52
    6 Steve McCatty 1980-08-10 (1) OAK SEA L 1-2 CG 14 ,L 14.0 6 2 2 4 8 1 51
    7 Mike Norris 1980-08-14 OAK MIN W 2-1 CG 11 ,W 11.0 6 1 0 1 6 0 40
    8 Mike Norris 1980-09-16 OAK TEX W 4-2 CG 11 ,W 11.0 10 2 2 3 1 0 45
    9 Rick Langford 1980-10-05 OAK MIL L 4-5 GS-10 10.0 7 4 4 3 6 2 39
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 7/6/2013.

    Those four 14-innings complete games trail only the 1918 Senators (with 5) among all teams in the game-searchable era.

    Martin also shows up in the 1976 Yankee-Angel game when Catfish Hunter and Frank Tanana matched each other with 13 scoreless innings.

    • Doug, I agree that Martin abused those pitchers. But I think that calling them all young and promising is a stretch.

      The 1980-81 A’s were seen as having a great rotation. What they really had was a fly-ball staff with historically great outfield defense in Dwayne Murphy, Rickey Henderson and a young Tony Armas.

      Those pitchers didn’t get strikeouts. For those 2 years, there were 102 qualifying pitcher-seasons in the AL; the 9 A’s years among them ranked #15, 35, 45, 55, 61, 68, 76, 77 and 92. For 1980-81 combined, out of 52 AL starters with 200+ total innings, Oakland’s guys ranked #14, 22, 25, 34 and 43 in SO/9.

      Even their results weren’t really great. Oakland’s ERA+ was 100 in 1980, 105 in ’81.

      To me, while the workloads were excessive, it’s unlikely that any of those guys, except maybe Norris, would have had much better careers absent Billy’s abuse. I think the story of the 1980-81 A’s is that Billy instilled them with confidence that they were going to stay in the game even when they gave up a few runs, and that the defense would help them out. He maximized their value for a couple of years, at the cost of probably a few more years of expected mediocre performance.

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