July 2, 1961: Reds first baseman Gordy Coleman gathers eight hits including two doubles and a game-winning home run as the first place Reds sweep a doubleheader from the Braves at County Stadium in Milwaukee.
In the first game, Coleman went 5-6 and won the game with a three-run homer in the top of the 13th inning off Braves ace Warren Spahn. Spahn had been called on to pitch in relief as the Braves’ fifth pitcher of the day. The Reds jumped ahead 2-0 in the top of the first when Frank Robinson doubled home Eddie Kasko and Coleman followed with a single to score Robinson. The Braves scored thrice in the bottom of the inning on two home runs, a two-run shot by Eddie Mathews and a solo drive by Hank Aaron off Reds starter Jim O’Toole. Aaron connected for another homer in the third, a two-run blast, to stretch the Braves’ lead to 5-2. The Reds added one in the fifth and two more in the sixth to tie the score at 5-5.
No team scored again until the 13th. Kasko led off with a single to centerfield and Don Blasingame sacrificed him to second base. Vada Pinson grounded back to Spahn with Kasko moving to third base with two outs. The Braves intentionally walked Robinson, and Coleman homered to center to give the Reds the 8-5. lead. Reds reliever Jim Brosnan, in his fourth inning of work, walked Al Spangler to start the Braves’ 13th, but induced Hank Aaron to flyout and Joe Adcock bounced into a game-ending double play.
In the nightcap, the Reds scored three times in the top of the first to open a three-run lead off Braves rookie starter Tony Cloninger. Kasko opened the game with a home run, and two outs later Robinson drew a walk. Robinson scored on a Coleman double, and Coleman scored on a Gus Bell single. The Braves tied it with three in the seventh on a Mathews two-run homer and a single by Bob Boyd. Robinson homered in the eighth to give the Reds their winning 4-3 margin. Coleman went 3-4 in this game with two doubles. Reds pitcher Bob Purkey improved his record to 10-4 with the win as he went 8 2/3 innings allowing four hits and and striking out five. Bill Henry was called on to get the last out retiring Mathews on a grounder to second.
The doubleheader sweep gave the Reds a two-game lead over the Dodgers. The Reds remained in first place for all but eight days the rest of the season before losing to the New York Yankees in four games to one in the 1961 World Series. 1961 was arguably Coleman’s best seasons as he hit .287 with 26 home runs and 87 rbi. He had another big season in 1962, hitting .277 with 28 homers. He remained with the Reds as a player through 1967 in a part-time role.