August 14, 1959: The Cincinnati Redlegs overcome 8-0 and 11-3 deficits to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 15-13. The Redlegs win the second game, 5-4, to sweep the doubleheader.
The Phillies rocked Redlegs starter Don Newcombe and reliever Tom Acker for eight runs on six hits and two free passes while the Redlegs committed three errors in the second inning alone. In a comedy of errors, the inning sported a Phillies lead off home run (Gene Freese), two outfield errors by the Redlegs (Jerry Lynch and Gus Bell), an error by shortstop Eddie Kasko, a hit batsman (by Newcombe), and a bases loaded walk (by Acker). The Phillies led 8-0 after the second inning.
The Redlegs scored three times in the top of the third, but Acker’s poor control allowed the Phillies to re-establish their 11-3 margin in the bottom half of the inning. Acker hit a batter and walked three, including two consecutive with the bases loaded, giving Acker three bases loaded walks in the game. Now trailing 11-3 the Redlegs offense really went to work.
The Redlegs scored three times in the fourth on a Frank Robinson home run to cut the deficit to five, 11-6. The Redlegs scored once in the fifth on a Johnny Temple sacrifice fly, and they scored three more in the seventh on run-scoring doubles by Temple and Robinson and a run-scoring single by Vada Pinson. The Redlegs trailed the Phillies, 11-10, after seven innings of play.
The Redlegs took the lead by scoring five times in the top of the ninth. Temple led off the inning with a single off Phillies reliever and eventual losing pitcher, Turk Farrell. Pinson doubled, but Temple was cut down at the plate by Phillies Hall of Fame centerfielder Richie Ashburn for the Redlegs first out. Bell singled to center though, and scored Pinson with the tying run. Humberto Robinson relieved Farrell, but Robinson greeted him with a single and John Powers drew a walk to load the bases. Ruben Gomez relieved Robinson and he promptly allowed two consecutive two-run scoring singles to Redlegs catcher Ed Bailey and third baseman Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones, giving the Redlegs a 15-11 comeback lead.
Meanwhile, Redlegs reliever Orlando Pena had shut down the Phillies with four innings of one-hit shutout relief pitching, striking out five. Eventual winning pitcher Brooks Lawrence had relieved Pena to start the eighth inning, but soon ran into ninth-inning trouble. Pinch hitter Harry Hanebrink and Ashburn both singled to open the Phillies bottom half of the ninth. Lawrence struck out Dave Philley (pinch hitting for future Reds manager Sparky Anderson), but singles to Ed Bouchee and Solly Drake plated two runs and chased Lawrence. The game ended when Redlegs reliever Jim Brosnan induced Freese to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Redlegs won the game despite allowing 16 hits, five walks, two hit batsmen, and committing five errors. On the offensive plate, the Redlegs collected 23 hits and walked five times. Robinson and Pinson each had five hits and Jones had four. The unsung hero of the game was reliever Pena who held the Phillies in check as the Redlegs mounted their comeback attack.
The Redlegs continued their big inning offense in the second game by scoring four runs in the top of the first inning off Phillies losing pitcher Jim Owens. Temple walked to open the game and Pinson doubled him to third base. Bell tripled, scoring both Temple and Pinson, giving the Redlegs an early lead. One-out later, Lynch tripled home Bell and Jones singled Bell home to stake Redlegs starting pitcher Willard Schmidt a four-run advantage.
The Phillies chipped away a the lead, though, eventually tying the game as they scored once in the first, once in the third, and twice in the fifth, tying the game at 4-4. The Redlegs scored what proved to be the winning run when Pinson singled home Temple with two outs in the eighth inning. Redlegs first game starting pitcher Newcombe pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to secure the win for Schmidt.
The 1959 Redlegs team finished the year in fifth place, 12 games behind the pennant winning Los Angeles Dodgers. The team did give hope for the future, though, having played better the second half of the season under new manager Fred Hutchinson. They played 39-35 ball for Hutchinson after going 35-45 for Mayo Smith who had been hired in the previous offseason. Hutchinson skippered the 1961 Reds team that eventually lost to the New York Yankees in the 1961 World Series. Smith later led the 1967 Detroit Tigers to a World Championship.