Friday, July 29, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Hal Reniff

For whatever reason, Reniff is my favourite relief pitcher on the Yankees in the early to mid 1960s. Porky, as he was known, was but a 23 year old rookie in 1961.

He made his major league debut in the second game of a June 8th doubleheader against the Kansas City Athletics.

He came in the game in the top of the fifth inning to relieve Art Ditmar (who would pitch just one more game for the Bronx Bombers before being traded to, you guessed it, KC) who himself had relieved starter Danny McDevitt. The was only one out.

Reniff walked the first batter he faced, Haywood Sullivan. That loaded the bases. And when Bob Boyd grounded out, the A's were now on top, 9-5. Reniff then got former Yankee Andy Carey to lineout to Clete Boyer.

The opposing pitcher, Jim Archer, led off the 6th with a K, Reniff's first ever at the major league level. When Dick Howser grounded out, it looked like Reniff was out of the inning.

Alas, another ex-Yankee, Hank Bauer, not only singled, but caught everybody napping with a steal of second base. Leo Posada ended the inning by flying out to Hector Lopez in left.

In the bottom of the frame, Bob Cerv batted for Reniff and fanned. Tex Clevenger, who I mentioned in my previous 1961 post, and Rollie Sheldon mopped up from there for the Yankees.

In an August 2nd doubleheader (second game), Reniff recorded his first ever save, and later that month won a game against the Twins by tossing 3 no-hit innings (13, 14 and 15). Another save came on August 11th against the Senators.

On September 4th, again a doubleheader (but this time the first game), Reniff won his second and final game of 1961 by turning back Washington again. He tossed another two innings of hitless ball. In the last game of the regular season, the game in which Roger Maris hit his 61st homerun, Reniff pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the "hold".

Reniff's finest hour of the 1961 season came on September 14th. Called on to relieve Sheldon in the first with only one out, Porky went 6 2/3 innings and gave up 4 hits and 6 walks. Only one (earned) run would score against him. However, as the Chi Sox ended up scoring 5 runs in the first and the Yankees scored only 3 the entire game, it was already a lost cause.

Of his 25 appearances, 16 of them resulted in games finished. 21 times he held the opposition scoreless. In only 4 of his games pitched, did he go 3 or more innings. And did I mention he never started a game? Actually, Reniff never started a game at the major league level.

It can be assured that the Yankees would have won the 1961 World Series without Reniff. Still, to omit his contributions (45 1/3 IP, 2.58 ERA) would certainly be an oversight.


Gallagher, Mark. Explosion! Mickey Mantle's Legendary Home Runs. New York: Arbor House, 1987. Print, pp. 160-177, 345-353.

Golenbock, Peter. "61."Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964. Contemporary Sports Classics, 2000. pp. 405-445.

Mantle, Mickey and Herskowitz, Mickey. All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. Harper Collins, 1994, pp. 129-145.

Smith, Ron. 61* The Story Of  Roger Maris And Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. The Sporting News, 2001.

Sports Reference LLC. - Major League Statistics and Information. Web. 29 Jul. 2011.

The World Series Of 1961. Dir. Lew Fonseca. Prod. Dick Borden. Perf. Mel Allen. Major League Baseball Productions., 1961. DVD.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Baseball Playing Card Of The Day: Juan Marichal

Juan Marichal was "3" of the big three pitchers of the 60s, behind Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. He never won a Cy Young award.

He hailed from Laguna Verde, Monte Cristi in the Dominian Republic, and was renown for his extreme high leg kick that he made in his delivery.

I rank him below Koufax and Gibson like most people, but you didn't want to bat against him, believe me.

And just that, he wasn't that far off those two.

Gibson posted a 22-9 record in 1968, the year of the pitcher. Denny McLain won 31 games to lead the American League. But it was Marichal who lead the NL in wins with 26, and also in innings pitched (325 2/3).

And he completed 30 of 38 starts that year!

Actually, we should look at that entire decade of the 60s when we talk about Marichal.

Trivia question: What pitcher won the most games in the majors in the 1960s?

Answer: Juan Marichal

When I think of Marical, I think of two things. 1) The night he almost killed John Roseboro, the Dodger catcher, and 2) The pitching duel with Warren Spahn in 1963.

The first was a rather gruesome incident. August 22, 1965, Dodgers and Giants. Frustrated when Roseboro returned a pitch of Sandy Koufax's too close to Marichal (who was batting), he swung his bat and hit John in the head, injuring him.

The other is much more pleasant and will make anyone who loves a pitcher's duel, mouth water.

It was on July 2, 1963. Marichal and Spahn were in, as I like to call it, "The Pitching Zone" where no one can hit you.

Actually there were a plenty hits in the game. But they were spread out!

How this for a pitching line?

Marichal: 16 IP, 8H, 0R 0ER, 10K, 4BB

Sphan: 15 1/3 IP, 9H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 1BB

Willie Mays won the game with a dramatic walkoff homerun in the bottom of the 16th.


Sports Reference LLC. - Major League Statistics and Information. Web. 25 July 2011.

Kaplan, Jim. The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, And The Pitching Duel Of The Century. Chicago, IL: Triumph, 2011. Print.

Tinley, Scott. "Nearly Half Century Later, Spahn-Marichal Duel Still The Best Ever." Sports Illustrated, 1 July 2011. Web. 25 July 2011. <>