July 8, 1962: The Reds score two runs in the bottom of the 13th to erase the third Houston lead of the game and sweep a double header from the Colt .45’s, 12-8 and 13-12. The wins move the Reds 10 games above .500 for the first time since May 17 and keep them in fourth place.
In 1962, the Reds were attempting to defend their National League pennant, and it was the first year of expansion for the National League. The New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s had been added to the league. During the expansion draft, the two new teams demonstrated two different approaches toward building their rosters. The Mets, with their large media market, went after aging “name” players such as the Reds’ Gus Bell, the Dodgers’ Gil Hodges, and purchasing former Phillie great Richie Ashburn from the Cubs. Meanwhile, the Colts preferred younger players just past their prime age such as Roman Mejias, Al Spangler, and Turk Farrell hoping to get a few productive years from them while the Colts developed young players.
The Colt .45s came to Cincinnati in July in eighth place in the ten team league. The Mets were on their way to a 40-120 season, 60 1/2 games out of first. The Colts finished eighth at 64-96, ahead of the Mets and the Chicago Cubs. They were the only three teams with losing records, as the other seven finished above .500. The defending champs Reds got off to a slow start and had a losing record as late as May 4 before starting their comeback. Unfortunately, they never got any closer than three games behind, a point they reached on August 25 and again on the last scheduled day of the season. The Reds finished the season at 98-64 in third base, 3 1/2 games behind the champion Giants who had to win a playoff over the Dodgers at season’s end to determine the champion.
On July 8, the Reds found themselves in a virtual tie with the Cardinals, 9 1/2 games behind the Giants and the Colts were 1/2 game behind the Phillies in a battle for respectability and seventh place. The first game of the Cincinnat-Houston doubleheader featured Reds star lefty Jim O’Toole against righty Bob Bruce, who was on his way to posting winning records in two of his three seasons as a Houston starter. The Reds struck first with three in the second on a Gordy Coleman double and a two-run homer by young catcher Johnny Edwards.
The Colts came back and hammered O’Toole and Moe Drabowsky for eight runs over the next two innings. Carl Warwick and Hal Smith slammed homers off O’Toole in the fourth to give the Colts a 4-3 lead. The Colts made it 8-3 in the fifth when Mejias singled in a run and Norm Larker slammed a three run homer off Drabowsky, who the Reds had selected from the Milwaukee Braves in the offseason Rule 5 Draft. The Reds had been hoping for a pitching comeback for Drabowsky who had finished the 1957 season with a 13-15 record for the Cubs at age 21. The Reds sold his contract to the Kansas City Athletics in August and he went on to pitch in 17 major league seasons (88-105 with a 3.71 ERA). Drabowsky went 2-6 with a 4.99 ERA in his time with the Reds.
The Reds didn’t fold as they scored six times in the fifth to retake the lead. Frank Robinson unloaded a grand slam with no one out to bring the Reds within one at 8-7. Farrell replaced Bruce on the mound and Coleman greeted him with a single. Edwards struck out and Vada Pinson singled Coleman to second base. Then, with Leo Cardenas at the plate, Farrell uncorked a wild pitch, advancing the runners, and both scored on catcher Smith’s throwing error for two unearned runs. The Reds scored three more times, two on a Coleman homer, and young Jim Maloney threw four scoreless innings to secure the Reds 12-8 win. Maloney (4-3) was the winning pitcher and Farrell was the loser. The Reds used 11 position players and three pitchers in nailing down the win.
The second game was a wild one, with the Reds using nine pitchers and 14 position players to secure the 13 inning, 12-11 win. The Reds scored three times in the bottom of the first on a Marty Keough single and Coleman’s second two-run homer of the day. The Colts scored two in the second (including a Bob Aspromonte home run) and the Reds scored twice in the third, the Red leading 5-2 after three.
The Colts knocked Reds starter Ted Wills out of the game in the fourth after homers from Larker and Bob Cerv, tying the game at 5-5. Johnny Klippstein replaced Wills but he was knocked out of the box after giving up a two-run double to Warwick in the fifth, giving Houston a 7-5 lead. The Colts made it 8-5 in the sixth on a Mejias single off Reds reliever Dave Sisler.
The Reds took the lead off Colt relievers Dave Giusti and Don McMahon in the bottom of the sixth when Robinson singled home two runs, Coleman doubled home Robinson, and Pinson singled home Coleman. The lead didn’t last long as Cerv hit his second home run of the game (his only two for the season), this one coming off ace reliever Jim Brosnan in the seventh. The Colts took the lead off Brosnan in the eighth on a Mejias single. Lefty reliever Bill Henry walked Larker to load the bases before Reds manager Fred Hutchinson went to his starting staff to bring on two-time 20-game winner Joey Jay to induce an inning ending double play. The Reds tied it in the bottom of the eighth as Robinson hit his second home run of the day, this time off first game loser, Turk Farrell, who had taken the mound for the Colts.
The Reds threatened to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Catcher Hank Foiles led off with a single, but Cardenas’s sacrifice bunt attempt ended in a force play at second base. With pinch hitter Wally Post at the plate, Farrell uncorked a wild pitch and Cardenas advanced all the way to third base with one out, the second multi-base advance in the game for the Reds on wild pitches. However Post struck out and Eddie Kasko grounded out to end threat.
The Colts loaded the bases by way of two walks and an error in the tenth off Drabowsky, who was now pitching in his second game of the day. The rally ended when Warwick popped to first base to end the threat. Drabowsky pitches three scoreless innings in this game (10th-12th) before giving way to Jim Maloney who had also pitched the first game of the doubleheader. Meanwhile, Farrell had settled down after allowing the game tying homer to Robinson, retiring 14 of 16 batters from the 9th through 12th innings.
The Colts broke the tie in the 13th off Maloney. Larker led off with a single and Warwick sacrificed pinch runner Jim Busby to second base. A Maloney wild pitch advanced Busby to third and Aspromonte drew a walk, placing runners on the corners. The Colts sent up pinch hitter Pidge Browne, a 33-year-old rookie and career minor league slugger, to get the platoon advantage and bat for Jim Pendleton. The Reds countered with their ninth pitcher of the game, lefty first game starter Jim O’Toole. Browne lofted a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Busby, giving the Colts a 12-11 lead. O’Toole allowed a single to Merritt Ranew, but pitcher Farrell struck out to end the Colts half of the 13th.
Thankfully, the Reds weren’t done. Keough led off the Reds half of the 13th with his 2nd home run of the year to tie the game, and Robinson followed with a single. The Colts called on starting pitcher Hal Woodeshick to replace Farrell who had pitched 6+ relief innings between the two games. Coleman attempted to sacrifice, but reached on Woodeshick’s error with Robinson advancing to second. Pinson grounded into a force play, first base to shortstop, with the potential winning run (Robinson) moving to third. Foiles was intentionally walked to load the bases, but shortstop Cardenas singled to score the winning run and give the Reds the 13-12 victory.
For the game, Robinson and Keough both had four hits, Kasko had three, and four other Reds players had two. The Colts’ Farrell was the losing pitcher for both games fo the doubleheader.
Despite the two wins, the Reds only picked up a half-game on the first place leader. The day had started with the Giants in first, but they had lost to the Dodgers who took over the first place position. The Reds had the major league’s best record from July 9 through the end of the season, going 52-28 over the last 80 games, but it wasn’t enough to catch up with the front leading Dodgers and Giants.
The Reds used 23 players in the second game of the doubleheader. The Reds used 14 position players during the day and chances are someone wasn’t available due to injury or possibly a third catcher wasn’t used. Don Blasingame, Jerry Lynch, Cookie Rojas, and Don Zimmer all played roles in the second game. (They all filled the second spot in the batting order that game, going a combined 1-7). The only player I know they didn’t use was starting pitcher Bob Purkey. I find it interesting that Hutchinson did use the next day’s starter, Jay for 1 2/3 innings, but did not use knuckleballer Purkey, who was not scheduled to start for two more days. Purkey had his best season in 1962, going 23-5 with a 2.81 ERA and finishing tied for third in the National League Cy Young voting. Jay went the distance the very next day, pitching a complete game 8-4 victory over the Cubs.