It was April 16, 1970.
The Reds had a new manager in Sparky Anderson. They had some exciting young players in Don Gullett, Wayne Simpson, Bernie Carbo and Hal McRae. They also guys by the names of Rose, Bench, Perez, May and Helms.
And on Anderson’s pitching staff was veteran Jim Maloney.
Jim Maloney was the Reds best pitcher during the decade of the 1960s. That includes some pretty good names – Bob Purkey, Joey Jay and Jim O’Toole. Maloney was a right handed power pitcher with a rising fastball, a sharp curve and a durable arm.
He was the only player left from the 1961 National League champion Reds. Jim Maloney had thrown three no-hitters and six one-hitters. In one game, he struck out 18 batters, including 8 in a row. He had been a 20-game winner and made the All-Star team.
Now, after the near-miss in 1964, the death of Fred Hutchinson and four managers later, Jim Maloney was pitching for the 1970 Cincinnati Reds. He was just 31 years old. And his first start of the season came against Los Angeles.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I came to the plate against the Dodgers in the third inning and hit a ball up the middle,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Maloney from his home in California. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I took off for first base and that’s when it happened.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Maloney ruptured his achilles tendon. He was to miss the next five months of the 1970 season. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That had been bothering me going back to 1969. My heel started hurting back then and it was painful and bothering me. I went to the trainers about it because it was getting so bad. But we were in a pennant race.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That’s when [General Manager] Bob Howsam had a meeting with me. He said I didn’t have a high tolerance for pain. He said that a pitcher like Bob Gibson could bear with it and I should too. So I bit the bullet and pitched. I put a special pad in my heel so it wouldn’t hurt so much but I couldn’t run much at all and I told Sparky about it that spring.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On April 16, 1970, Jim Maloney’s career with the Cincinnati Reds essentially came to a close. He never won another baseball game.
But it was one heck of a career.
Jim Maloney made the Reds roster at the age of 20 in 1960. He spent the next three years harnessing his pitching abilities. Maloney pitched mostly out of the bullpen but would make spot starts. He had great stuff but it didn’t come together until the 1963 season.
That was Jim Maloney’s breakout year. He pitched over 200 innings in five of the next seven seasons and was the clear ace of the staff. The numbers are impressive – 30 career shutouts (by comparison, Mario Soto, Jose Rijo and Johnny Cueto have 23, combined), three-no hitters, six one-hitters and a 20-game winner twice.
Once Maloney got going, the strikeouts increased and the wins followed including the no-hitters. The first one he lost in the 11th inning to the Mets on a Johnny Lewis home run. Maloney’s second no-hitter was a 187-pitch effort against the Cubs that he won on a Leo Cardenas home run in the 10th inning. The third was the easiest, a 10-0 rout of Houston.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The best stuff I had was the one I got beat. That night, I had a good, hard crisp curveball from the first inning on.
“The one against the Cubs I threw a lot of pitches. I struck out 18, walked 10 and hit a batter. There used to be on You Tube the last three innings of that game but now it’s off. The only thing on there is the 10th inning. WGN sent me some discs of that no-hitter and I still have them.Ã‚Â Then Cardenas hit the home run and the game ended with a double play, Cardenas to Rose to Keough.
“In the Astros game, they scored a lot of runs for me. But I had good stuff. Daryl Chaney made a great play that game catching a pop up and diving for it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Maloney participated in classic pitcher duels, including a memorable game against the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax. After six innings, Maloney had a no-hitter. Koufax struck out the side in the 3rd inning on nine pitches. But Maloney pulled a muscle and had to be taken out of the game. Frank Howard singled off John Tsitouris in the 8th inning for LA’s only hit in a 3-0 win for Cincinnati.
Against Pittsburgh in 1967, Maloney retired the first 19 hitters he faced. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then I fielded a ground ball up the first base side,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Maloney Ã¢â‚¬Å“and I twisted my ankle. It was muddy and I slipped.Ã¢â‚¬Â The Reds won 4-0, with Tony Perez socking a two-run homer off Woodie Fryman.
MaloneyÃ‚Â also went through the ordeal of the 1964 pennant race. That was the year Manager Fred Hutchinson stepped down due to cancer, the Reds launched a late 8-game winning streak to take over first place but lost on the last day of the season. In a crippling 1-0 16 inning loss to the Pirates, Maloney and Bob Veale matched up. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Veale was a tough hombre. He was a big lefthander and threw hard. We had some chances to score runs but couldn’t get it done.Ã¢â‚¬Â The Reds stranded 18 runners in that game. Maloney struck out 13 Pirates in 11 innings of work; Veale fanned 16 Reds in 12 and 1/3 innings.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“On the last day of the season, we needed to win and were tied with the Cardinals and we were playing the Phillies. I could have started that game but I pitched 11 innings just a couple days before against Veale. Before the game, Dick Sisler called me in the office and told me he was going with Tsitouris as the starter, that he had some success against the Phillies.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It was reported that Reds players wanted Maloney on the mound for that final game. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That may have been but Sisler went with John. I’m not sure how effective I would have been, but I would taken the mound if Sisler wanted me to. That was a rough deal in 1964 because Fred Hutchinson had cancer. Sisler had to take the team over. Towards the end of the season, Hutch would come and see us and talk to us. I remember after we lost that final game [10-0] Hutch came in the locker room. He said ‘Don’t hang your heads, you should be proud of what you accomplished’.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Maloney – who says the toughest hitters he faced were Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell and Rusty Staub – came back from his Achilles injury late in the 1970 season. That year the Reds won 70 of their first 100 games but lost starters Wayne Simpson, Jim McGlothlin and Jim Merritt to injuries. Maloney started a few games in September but the Reds were going with Milt Wilcox on their World Series roster, not Jim.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Reds showcased me so that other teams could see if I could help them. I didn’t make the roster for the World Series and eventually, California showed interest in me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Reds traded Maloney for a pitcher named Greg Garrett in a deal that didn’t work out for either club. Jim Maloney played for the Angels in 1971 but wasn’t the same. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never won another game. But I will say this for [Owner] Gene Autry. He paid me for the entire season, even though I was hurt and didn’t pitch.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It was an inglorious end to a stellar career. Jim Maloney holds several club records for the Reds – first in career strikeouts (1592) and strikeouts per nine innings pitched (7.87), second in shutouts (30) and seventhÃ‚Â in career wins (134). Maloney was eventually elected to the Reds Hall of Fame and is an annual presence at RedsFest. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love going to those events. A kid came up to me last year and he told me, ‘My grandfather says you were a good pitcher’. I like to go to those things and see Reds fans and former teammates.Ã¢â‚¬Â