September 2012

Baseball’s First Cy Young Award

September 30, 1956 – Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe won his 27th game and the Dodgers clinched the N.L. title with an 8-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Newcombe won baseball’s first Cy Young Award, along with N.L. MVP honors. Along with his 1949 N.L. Rookie of the Year honor, Newcombe would be the only MLB player to win all three major awards until Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, the 2006 A.L. Rookie of the Year and 2011 Cy Young Award/MVP.

Orel’s Streak

September 28, 1988 – Orel Hershiser set a MLB record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings, surpassing the previous mark of 58 2/3 innings by Dodger Hall of Famer Don Drysdale in 1968. Hershiser pitched 10 scoreless innings against the Padres in San Diego. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Drysdale stood in the dugout as a Dodger broadcaster. On the radio broadcast, Vin Scully described the play-by-play while Drysdale added his commentary. After Keith Moreland flied out to right field for the final out of the 10th, Drysdale greeted Hershiser in the dugout and they embraced. Hershiser left the game and the Dodgers eventually lost, 2-1, in 16 innings. Because it wasn’t a complete game for Hershiser, Drysdale retained his MLB record of six consecutive shutouts.

Changing of the Guard

September 27, 1976 – After 23 seasons with Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Walter Alston announced his retirement as Dodger manager. Alston was a manager in the Dodger farm system when he was tabbed by Walter O’Malley to replace Charlie Dressen, whose teams had won pennants in 1952 and 1953. But Dressen sent a letter to O’Malley, requesting a multi-year contract. O’Malley told Dressen it wasn’t club policy to give a manager a multi-year deal, so Dressen left for the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks. Alston’s retirement occurred on the 40th anniversary of his only Major League at-bat as a reserve first baseman with the 1936 St. Louis Cardinals. Alston struck out against Cubs pitcher Lon Warneke. Alston guided the Dodgers to championships in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965.

Four Consecutive Home Runs

September 18, 2006 – Trailing 9-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs (Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin, Marlon Anderson) to tie the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. San Diego scored a run in the top of the 10th, but Nomar Garciaparra’s walk-off two-run homer gave the Dodgers an 11-10 victory. The Dodgers entered the game ranked last among N.L. teams in home runs. The Dodgers became the fourth team in the 20th century to hit four consecutive home runs, joining the 1964 Minnesota Twins, 1963 Cleveland Indians and 1961 Milwaukee Braves.

Nomo’s No-No

September 17, 1996 – Right-hander Hideo Nomo became the first pitcher to record a no-hitter in Colorado during a 9-0 victory. Nomo made 110 pitches, walked four and struck out eight. The game was delayed by rain and when play resumed, Nomo opted against the full windup and pitched from the stretch position, even with nobody on base. In the ninth inning, Nomo retired Eric Young and Quinton McCracken on grounders to second baseman Delino DeShields. The last out was a swinging strikeout by Ellis Burks. Nomo, the 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year, had been the first player from Japan’s professional leagues to appear in the Majors in 30 years. In addition to his two stints with Los Angeles (1995-1998, 2002-04), Nomo pitched for the Mets, Brewers, Red Sox, Devil Rays, Royals and Tigers. When Nomo pitched a no-hitter for the Red Sox in 2001, he became the fourth player in MLB history to pitch no-hitters in each league (Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan – later accomplished by Randy Johnson).

The Perfect Loss

September 16, 1988 – Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium in a 1-0 victory. The game didn’t start until 10:02 p.m. because of a two-hour, 27-minute rain delay. The left-hander needed only 102 pitches and he struck out seven, including pinch-hitter Tracy Woodson to end the game. The only run of the game scored in the sixth inning on a throwing error by Dodger pitcher Tim Belcher. It was the first time the Dodgers had a perfect game pitched against them in L.A. history and the first opposing perfect game since the Yankees’ Don Larsen against Brooklyn in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Toy Cannon Slams Big Red Machine

September 15, 1974 – Jimmy Wynn’s grand slam in the seventh inning sparks the Dodgers to a 7-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. Going into the weekend series with their National League West rivals, the Dodgers held a 3 1/2-game lead, but the “Big Red Machine” won the first two games and a sweep would cut the deficit to one-half game. Steve Garvey followed Wynn’s grand slam with a solo home run and the Dodgers kept the Reds at bay the rest of the season. The Dodgers acquired Wynn, nicknamed “The Toy Cannon”, from the Houston Astros prior to the 1974 season in a trade for pitcher Claude Osteen. Wynn hit 32 home runs and helped the Dodgers win their first pennant since 1966.

Mike Piazza’s Rookie Season

September 14, 1993 – Mike Piazza set a Major League record for rookie catchers with his 29th and 30th home runs in a 5-3 victory at San Diego. Piazza, a 62nd round draft choice in 1988, was on his way to a spectacular Rookie of the Year campaign with Los Angeles. Piazza finished with a .318 batting average, 35 home runs and 112 RBI. Overlooked among Piazza’s franchise rookie records was his 35 home runs, which eclipsed the previous L.A. mark of 33 home runs by Steve Garvey in 1977 and Pedro Guerrero in 1985. Piazza played one season at Miami-Dade North Community College as a first baseman and designated hitter. At the suggestion of Tommy Lasorda, who was a longtime friend of the Piazza family and Mike’s father Vince, the younger Piazza learned to become a catcher at the team’s Campo Las Palmas Academy in the Dominican Republic.

Dazzy Vance

September 13, 1925 – Right-hander Dazzy Vance, the Brooklyn ace who took a unique route to Baseball’s Hall of Famepitched a no-hitter against the Phillies only five days after one-hitting them. Back in 1920, Arthur “Dazzy” Vance, a minor league journeyman, accidentally banged his arm on a table during a poker game. The next morning, still inexplicably in pain, he went to the doctor. The diagnosis was an elbow injury that had gone undetected. Vance underwent an elbow surgery that likely relieved the right-hander of bone chips and other loose fragments in his elbow, and at age 29, he suddenly regained his fastball. But Vance needed one more break to begin his epic journey with the Brooklyn Dodgers. After winning 21 games in 1921 at Class A New Orleans, Vance was offered to Brooklyn in a package deal with highly regarded catcher Hank DeBerry. Dodger Owner Charles Ebbets wanted DeBerry, but he balked at Vance, who owned a lifetime 0-4 Major League record in previous failed auditions with the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Brooklyn scout Larry Sutton pleaded with Ebbets after hearing DeBerry rave about Vance’s talent. Ebbets relented, and Vance earned a spot in the starting rotation the following spring. For the next seven seasons, Vance led the National League in strikeouts. His fashion trademark was an old undershirt with a tattered right sleeve. Opponents complained about the distracting flannel strips flapping behind his fastball, but Vance claimed it was his “lucky shirt” from New Orleans. The league president couldn’t find a rule against tattered shirts, so Vance kept wearing it. Vance continued pitching in the Majors until age 44. He won 197 games and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955.

Jackie Top Rookie – 1947

September 12, 1947 – With 13 games remaining in the regular season, The Sporting News named Brooklyn first baseman Jackie Robinson the “Rookie of the Year.” Sporting News publisher wrote that Robinson’s selection was based on his “baseball values.” “That Jack Roosevelt Robinson might have had more obstacles than his first-year competitors, and that he perhaps had a harder fight to gain even major league recognition, was no concern of this publication,” J.C. Taylor Spink wrote. “The sociological experiment that Robinson represented, the trail-blazing that he did, the barriers he broke down, did not enter into the decision. He was rated and examined solely as a freshman player in the big leagues – on the basis of his running, his defensive play, his team value.”