Baseball BeatApril 18, 2005
This Day in Dodger Baseball
By Rich Lederer

With the Los Angeles Dodgers (9-2) off to the best start in baseball, I thought it would be interesting to look into my Dad's archives and check out what happened on April 18th from 1958 (the Dodgers first year in L.A.) through 1968 (his last year covering the team).

1958 - Dodgers Nab Home Opener From S.F.

"The Dodgers came to Southern California Friday, but they were not the daffy Dodgers of old. The screwball role belonged solely to the San Francisco Giants, who lost an exciting, historic and at times hilarious 6-5 decision.

It was exciting in that the Giants had the tying run on second base with only one out in the ninth.

It was historic because 78,672 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch a regular major league single game, packed all but the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

And it was hilarious when the Giants had two runners camped on second base in the first inning and lost a run in the ninth when rookie Jim Davenport was called out for failing to touch third base.

Only three balls were hit against the much-discussed left field screen in this test tube contest, the first major league game played here. Three others cleared it and it was rookie Dodger third baseman Dick Gray's seventh inning home run that provided the margin of victory."

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1959 - Cubs' Last Gasp Rally Falls Short

"Art Fowler, determined to make good in a comeback at the age of 36, pitched his heart out for four innings Saturday night but tired in the ninth and needed Johnny Klippstein's help to save an 8-7 Dodger victory over the Chicago Cubs.

A ladies night crowd of 27,466 saw the Cubs score three times in the ninth and threaten further when Klippstein struck out Sammy Taylor with the tying run on base. The paid attendance was 22,091.

Fowler, making his fourth appearance in seven games, took over after starter Danny McDevitt loaded the bases with none out in the fifth and turned in an incredible performance. The Cincinnati castoff was faced with the middle third of the Cubs' dangerous batting order, including Ernie Banks and Walt Moryn, who homered Friday, and Bobby Thomson, the greatest Dodger killer of them all."

* * *

1960 - Dodgers, Giants' TV Feud Renewed Today

"This is the city where, on Sept. 19 and 20 last year, the Dodgers pried open the golden gate to a pennant. They came here trailing by two games, won three and left with a one-game lead.

As Charlie Dressen once put it, "the Giants was dead." They were the victims of premature pennant fever and finally succumbed to too many long strokes.

Though Seals Stadium, the Giants' burial ground, was locked forever, it was a tough winter for San Francisco fans. The ill fortunes of the football 49ers made it seem that much longer.

Now it's spring again and the picture has changed materially in the past week. In the new environment of Candlestick Park the Giants gave birth to hope by matching the Dodgers with four victories in their first five games.

Much to the Dodgers' regret, the patient breathes again and it is fire that spews from the nostrils of the once wounded and still angry dragon.

It is in this setting that the two ancient rivals are to start their 1960 feud this afternoon with Johnny Podres pitching for the Dodgers against Bill O'Dell in a battle of lefthanders.

The two-game series will be televised over KTTV (11) and therein lies what may be the Dodgers first trump over a pennant contender. Television agrees with the Dodgers even more than it does with Ed Sullivan. The Dodgers won 9 of the 11 games televised from San Francisco last year, and then rose to stardom in the playoff and World Series, screened to a nationwide audience."

* * *

1961 - Howard, Moon Hit Homers; Boyer Two

"Dodger starting pitchers have yet to complete a game, but at least there is relief in sight for Larry Sherry, the one-man bullpen of the first week.

Rookies Jim Golden and Ron Perranoski silenced the St. Louis bats in the late innings Tuesday night and protected a 5-4 victory for Roger Craig and the Dodgers. Both took care of Daryl Spencer, whose grand-slam homer off Sherry dumped the Dodgers in Monday's opener."

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1962 - Cincinnati Rakes 4 Dodger Pitchers for 14-0 Triumph

"Dodger pitching isn't what it's cracked up to be. It's just cracked up. And in more ways than one.

After trainer Bill Buhler cracked Johnny Podres' aching back and pronounced him unfit for duty Wednesday night a quartet of Dodger pitchers took a 14-0 massage from the Cincinnati Reds.

At this rate, Dodger statistician Allan Roth will have to compute his averages through Univac. In the last three games, Dodger pitchers have allowed 40 runs and 24 walks. For the still young season, they have issued 51 walks and watched 22 of the free-loaders score."

* * *

1963 - Dodger Bats Muzzled Again, Cubs Win 5-1

"It's too early to say that the Dodgers won't make a run for the pennant. But one run isn't going to be enough.

Thursday, for the third successive evening, Dodger hitters were as cool as the weather and they produced precisely one run. The result was a 5-1 victory for the Chicago Cubs, who took the sugar game of the series and dropped the Dodgers back to seventh place, three lengths behind Milwaukee.

Don Drysdale, who entered with a six-game winning streak over the Cubs, was the loser to Glen Hobbie, the last Cub pitcher to beat him. This upset took place on Aug. 17, 1960, when Ernie Banks homered in the ninth inning for a 1-0 win. Since then, Drysdale has won 43 games and Hobbie has won six, a piece of insignificant information which undoubtedly failed to show up on the Cubs' computer when head coach Bob Kennedy selected his pitcher."

* * *

1964 - Howard Spoils Reds' No-Hit Bid in Loss

"Saturday night is the lowliest hit night of the week at Dodger Stadium.

Three no-hitters have been pitched at Dodger Stadium on Saturday nights and the fourth eluded Jim Maloney and John Tsitouris by one strike. Frank Howard broke it up with a scratch single and the Reds had to settle for a one-hit, 3-0 victory.

Sandy Koufax, a two-time no-hit winner on Saturdays, was on the other end of the shutout as the Dodgers suffered their fourth successive defeat.

...Koufax allowed only three hits, all in the fourth inning, while losing for the first time since last Aug. 11. Cincinnati was the last team to beat him, 9-4. He had won 10 in a row, including two in the World Series.

Koufax never has won his first two starts. Last year he opened with a 2-1 victory over the Cubs, then lost at Houston, 5-4." [Ed. Note: Sandy broke his string the following year by winning his first two starts, both complete-game victories over the Phillies (6-2) and the Mets (2-1).]

* * *

1965 - Phils Nip Dodgers, 3-2

"All good things must come to an end. So, the Phillies ended the Dodgers' brief unbeaten and league-leading status by winning, 3-2, Saturday night.

But Don Drysdale wonders when the bad things will end. He and Bob Miller held the Phillies to four hits, which was good, but not good enough. All Drysdale received for his effort was his eighth successive defeat at the hands of the Quakers since June 1, 1962."

Headline of an adjoining article: Koufax Faces Biggest Test Today

"Two weeks ago, Sandy Koufax was worried about his arm and didn't know how frequently he would be able to pitch. Today, Koufax is still worried about his arm, but only because he hasn't had the opportunity to pitch.

'The only thing I'm worried about is that I haven't thrown enough,' Koufax said on the eve of his first regular-season appearance since Aug. 16. 'I've pitched exactly three innings since March 30 and I've thrown twice on the side in between. Everything else is fine. There's been no swelling in the elbow since I started to work again and I haven't had a bit of pain.'"

* * *

1966 - Dodgers 6, Astros 3 -- Sutton's First Win

"Don Sutton was three years old when Robin Roberts won his first major league game in 1948. Monday night Sutton achieved his first major league victory at the expense of the 39-year-old Roberts, who leads all active pitchers with 281 wins.

Sutton, though one inning short of going the distance as the Dodgers trimmed the Astros, 6-3, 'felt 9 1/2 feet tall.' He grinned from ear to ear, which covers a lot of territory, but said this thrill ranked second to his losing debut at Dodger Stadium last week.

'My biggest thrill was that standing ovation I got in L.A. when I left in the eighth inning. I'll never forget it. It made me feel 10 feet tall.'

Sutton's entire family was clustered around the radio, listening to the Houston broadcast in Molino, Fla., and his mother telephoned the clubhouse minutes after he entered. What did mother have to say?

'She wants me to make sure I brush after every meal,' Sutton reported.

There were no cavities in the Dodger attack Monday. Ron Fairly and Lou Johnson led the 13-hit display with three apiece and Maury Wills had a pair. Sutton himself chipped in with a key single and a sacrifice in the pasting that ran the Dodgers' winning streak to four."

* * *

1967 - First Dodger Win, 735th for O'Malley

"The rain, 'twas plain, could only end one chain.

After a dry spell of a week, the Dodgers have their first victory of the season, and to Walter O'Malley it must seem as if he had won a doubleheader. The original Smiling Irishman opened his gates for the 735th consecutive time, pocketed 17,947 paid admissions and watched the Dodgers climb out of the National League basement with a 7-2 conquest of the Reds.

The gates weren't closed until well after midnight because it was 12:04 when Phil Regan struck out pinch-hitter Art Shamsky for the final out.

Rain delayed the start of the game 13 minutes and interrupted it for an hour and 18 minutes in the seventh inning. During these periods it became obvious that the ground crew hadn't had any spring training in 10 years.

Only once since the Westward-Ho move in 1958 had a Dodger game been held up because of rain. That was last Sept. 18, against the Phillies, when the delay was only seven minutes and there wasn't enough time to run for the field cover."

* * *

1968 - Wes Parker: Dodgers' Shot in the Arm

"Wes Parker, batting .308 and leading the club with four extra-base hits, has given the Dodgers a shot in the arm.

Whether the shot is a cure-all miracle drug or will provide only temporary relief for the many batting headaches remains to be seen. Thursday, on an off day, they were waiting for the reaction.

'The thing we have to watch now,' said coach Danny Ozark, 'is his reaction after a trip like this. Because of his asthmatic condition, trips have been his biggest trouble. In the past he needed frequent rest, and Walter (Alston) always tried to give it to him by not starting him on the night before a coast-to-coast trip.'"

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Just a random date in Dodger history. In these 11 years, the Dodgers played host to the largest crowd ever to watch a regular major league game, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax suffered early-season losses, Don Sutton's first big-league victory, and a rare rain-delayed game in Los Angeles.

What will happen this year? (For more complete coverage of the Dodgers, make Jon Weisman's Dodger Thoughts and Rob McMillin's 6-4-2 a part of your daily reading.)