1959 April

1st  In the conclusion of their 4-game exhibition series in Cuba, the Dodgers win, 8-0, to complete a sweep of the Reds.

7th  In an effort to protect its players, Little League moves its pitcher’s mound 2 feet back, from 44 to 46.

9th  In the 5th against Washington, the Orioles become the first team in history to turn a triple play on Opening Day. Ed Fitzgerald lines out to Bob Boyd to start the tri-killing. Vice President Richard Nixon, a righthander, substitutes for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who’s away golfing, and watches the Senators win, 9–2. It’s the first time since FDR died just before the 1945 Opener that a chief executive was not on hand. Ramos loses his shutout when Gus Triandos hits a 2-run, 2-out HR in the 9th.

10th  With the temperature at 37 degrees and AL prexy Joe Cronin looking on, Chicago’s Nellie Fox gets 5 hits in 7 at bats on Opening Day in a 14-inning 9–7 win in Detroit. His 5th hit is a 2-run homer, off Don Mossi, to win the game: Nellie went homerless last season in 623 at bats. Nellie’s 5 hits in an opener ties a record that won’t be matched in the next 40 years. The game is marred by various interruptions: Johnny Callison is hit behind the ear with a thrown object (“maybe a marble”, he says) and approximately two dozen youngsters, in groups of 2 and 3, who run onto the field to shake hands with Kaline and Kuenn.

Former President Harry Truman and the governors of Missouri and Kansas are on hand for the Athletics opener, a 6-4 loss to Gary Bell and the Indians. Rocky Colavito hits a double off the 18-foot screen atop the LF wall this spring: it would have been a homer last season.

In St. Louis, the Cards lose their Opener 6–5 to the Giants. Jackie Brandt drives home the winner in the 9th for SF.

Phils 2B Sparky Anderson drives in the winning run in his first major league game, as Philadelphia beats the Reds, 2–1.

According to historian David Vincent, 91 players will make their debut in 1959, the last season the number will be fewer than 100.

11th  After being snowed out yesterday, the Cubs open at home against the Dodgers, Don Drysdale hits his 1st Opening Day HR, but it is the only Dodger score against Bob Anderson. Drysdale goes 5 innings and the Dodgers lose to the Cubs, 6–1. Sammy Taylor has 4 RBIs for the Cubs.

White Sox top the Tigers, 5–3, as Early Wynn racks up his 250th career victory. He retires the last 10 batters in tossing a complete game. Luis Aparicio hits a homer, and Sherm Lollar belts two.

Herbert E. Tucker, president of the Boston NAACP, seeks a probe of the Red Sox for alleged discrimination when the team farms out its only black ball player, “Pumpsie” Green. Tucker cites a 12-year history of discrimination toward blacks.

Sad Sam Jones strikes out 7 in facing his former teammates the Cards as the Giants win 5–2. Cepeda has 4 RBIs for SF.

12th After two rainouts, the Yankees and Red Sox open at Yankee Stadium before 22,559, as the 42 degree temperature threatens a third postponement. Bob Turley allows just two Sox hits and Norm Siebern’s 8th inning homer provides a 3–2 New York victory. Siebern’s hit is his 3rd of the game off Tom Brewer.

At St. Louis, the Giants break a 3-3 tie when, with 2 out in the 9th, Jim Davenport bunts safely off Vinegar Bend Mizell. Orlando Cepeda follows with a triple and Felipe Alou homers. Giants win, 6–3.

14th  Let’s hit two! Ernie Banks clouts a pair of 2-run homers off Jack Sanford to give the Cubs a 5–2 win over the Giants. Bob Hillman pitches into the 9th inning for the win. Sanford won’t forget and will hit Ernie three times this year with pitches.

In Baltimore, the Yankees score 9 runs in the 3rd inning, with starter Arnie Portocarrero exiting after serving up a grand slam to Bill Skowron. Moose knocks in 5 runs on three hits as New York beats the Orioles, 13-3.

At Cleveland Stadium, Herb Score strikes out 9 and allows 5 hits as the Indians trim the Tigers, 8-1. Woodie Held has a 2-run homer and a grand slam, and Minnie Minoso and George Strickland solo for the other runs.

The Dodgers set a new night-game attendance record when 61,552 fans watch their home opener against the Cards. Lindy McDaniel spoils the party with a 6-hitter and beats Johnny Podres, 6–2. Hal Smith hits a 2-run homer for St. Louis.

At Cincinnati, the Reds edge the Pirates, 3-2, handing the loss to Red Witt. Witt finished last season winning his last 7 games, but he will go 0-7 this year.

In Havana, Fidel Castro throws out the first ball the open the International League season and the game between Havana and Toronto. The ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, Venezuela and Mexico look on. Fireworks and the release of 26 pigeons add to the festivities.

15th  William Shea confers with Phillies owner William Carpenter on the possibility of shifting the Phils franchise to New York City.

Pitcher Bob Grim of the Athletics hits a grand slam off Barry Latman, as the A’s nip the White Sox, 10–8. Chicago has a 7-run 8th inning to make it close. For Grim, it is the last of his 3 career homers. Following his homer today, the next batter Joe DeMaestri is hit with a pitch that strikes him behind the left ear. He is removed on a stretcher but will be back in the lineup on the 17th.

Red Sox rookie Jerry Casale makes his ML debut, beating the Senators, 7–3. Casale helps his cause with a 3-run homer, off Russ Kemmerer, a shot that clears Fenway’s right-center field wall and lands on the street.

Don Drysdale scatters 8 hits in shutting out the Cardinals, 5–0. The loser is Jackson, who goes 6 innings before giving way to Bob Gibson, making his ML debut. It’s a rude initiation as the first batter he faces, Jim Baxes, homers off him. For the 31-year-old Baxes, it is his first ML homer: he’ll hit 17 in just 246 at bats, 16 more than his brother Mike, in this his only season.

16th  Phillie Dave Philley, who ended 1958 with 8 consecutive pinch hits, starts 1959 with a pinch-hit double in his first pinch at bat to extend his ML record. Despite Philley’s new mark, Lew Burdette and the Braves win 7–3. Burdette allows just 6 hits in beating Russ Meyer.

Reliever Billy O’Dell gets the win as the Orioles top the visiting Yankees, 7–4. O’Dell relieves George Bamberger, who pitches 6 1/3 innings in his only ML start.

17th Led by rookies Rudy Arias and Norm Cash, the White Sox top Detroit 6–5. Arias picks up his first win and Cash contributes a 3-run HR.

Boston’s Tom Brewer shuts out the Yankees, 4–0, on 2 hits, besting Bob Turley who beat him last week. It is the first shut out by a Bosox pitcher since August 7, 1956—a 55 game stretch.

18th  Branch Rickey becomes president of the Continental League. He appoints a committee to study problems associated with acquiring players.

Jack Sanford of the Giants allows only a 7th-inning bloop single to pinch hitter Stan Musial in beating St. Louis 8–1 in San Francisco. The Cards score in the first on 3 walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch. Cepeda hits his 5th HR in 4 games.

The Phils get 15 hits, including a grand slam by pinch hitter Gene Freese, to outslug the Reds, 14-9. Don Newcombe loses for the 2nd time to the Phils this year, with the win going to reliever Al Schroll. The Reds get homers from Frank Robinson, Roy McMillan and pinch hitter Jerry Lynch.

At Fenway, the Yankees beat up on the Red Sox, winning 16-7, on 18 hits. Elston Howard has 5 hits and drives in 3 runs, while Andy Carey has 4 hits and 4 RBIs. Jackie Jensen has a single and two homers for the Red Sox.

21st  OF Don Demeter of the Dodgers hits 3 HRs, including the game winner in the 11th in a 9–7 win against the Giants in the Los Angeles Coliseum. One of his HRs is an inside-the-park 4-bagger, as he drives in 6 runs.

At Fenway, Gus Triandos hits two homers, including a grand slam, as the Orioles top the Red Sox, 5-2. Hoyt Wilhelm strikes out 8 in going the distance.

At Briggs Stadium, Minnie Minoso has 5 hits, including 2 homers, to drive in 6 runs as the Indians deflate the Tigers, 14-1. Vic Power chips in with a 3-run homer to back Cal McLish.

Stan Musial breaks up another no-hitter. His 7th-inning double off Glen Hobbie is the Cards’ only safety in a 1–0 loss to the Cubs.

22nd  The White Sox, down 6-1 after two innings, storm back and score 11 runs in the 7th inning on one hit; there are 3 errors, a near-record 10 walks, a HBP, stolen base, and single in the frame. Kansas City Athletics relief P George Brunet gives up 5 bases-loaded walks and a bases-loaded HBP, as the White Sox garner just one hit, by John Callison. Jim Landis makes 2 outs, both grounders to the pitcher, in the strange inning. Nellie Fox drives in two runs in the inning, both times by walking. Fox does collect 4 hits in the game and drives in 5 runs, while Aparicio has a 3-run homer and scores 4 runs. There are 3 other bases-loaded walks as Kansas City loses, 20–6.

At Forbes Field, the Pirates score 7 in the 7th to pull into a tie at 8-8 with the Reds. Bill Virdon has a 3-run homer in the frame and Dick Stuart adds his second triple of the year: both would’ve been homers away from Forbes. Reliever Elroy Face (1-0) serves up a homer to Gus Bell in the 8th, but the Bucs score 2 in the 9th, helped by two errors by Frank Robinson, to win, 9-8.

At Connie Mack Stadium, Robin Roberts pitches hitless ball over the first 6 innings, but three singles in the 7th plate a run for the Braves. Billy Bruton homers in the 8th and Milwaukee wins, 2-0, behind Lew Burdette. Hank Aaron is hitless after starting the season with seven straight multihit games: tomorrow he embarks on a 22-game hitting streak.

Whitey Ford pitches 14 innings against the Senators striking out 15. The Yankees finally win it in the 14th on a Moose Skowron solo homer, 1–0, the longest contest ending 1–0 on a four-bagger.

23rd  The Senators tally only 3 hits off Bob Turley, but beat the Yankee righty, 3–2, snapping his 12-game winning streak over Washington. Russ Kemmerer is the winner, despite allowing a HR to Mantle.

After a conference with Fidel Castro, Havana club president Bobby Maduro says the team will stay in Cuba despite the political unrest.

24th In a slugfest at Crosley Field, the Braves outlast the Reds to win, 10-7. Eddie Mathews has a double, solo homer and a grand slam in the 8th, and Joe Adcock adds a solo shot. The Reds hit four homers, two by Gus Bell.

26th Was it something I said? Reds pitcher Willard Schmidt is twice hit by pitches in the 3rd inning in an 11–10 win over the Braves. Braves pitchers Bob Rush and Lew Burdette do the plunking. It is a first in the major leagues, but the ML mark will be tied in 3 years by Frank Thomas and later by Brady Anderson. But Schmidt will likely remain the only batter to hit and be hit twice in an inning. While on the mound in the 4th inning, Schmidt is hit again when a Johnny Logan line drive strikes him on the right hand and he has to leave the game. The two teams use 14 pitchers between them to tie a NL record, with the 8 pitchers by the Reds tying another NL record. Warren Spahn is tagged for the loss, his 2nd in 2 days to the Reds.

Surprising Baltimore sweeps a pair from the Yankees, coming from behind to score 2 in the 9th and win the opener, 5–4, and scoring in the final frame of the nightcap to win, 3–2. The O’s use 6 pinch hitters in the opener, while New York uses 4 for a new ML mark. Hoyt Wilhelm goes the distance in the nightcap, but his knuckler proves elusive for Gus Triandos, who ties the ML record with 4 passed balls. Ray Katt, who was the lone holder of the record, also caught Wilhelm.

Detroit connects for 16 hits off KC’s Bob Grim, but they strand 15 and lose, 4-3. Bob Cerv backs Grim with a 3-run inside-the-park homer.

At Connie Mack Stadium, the Pirates and Phils split two games, with the Bucs taking the opener, 9-2, and the Phils copping the second game, 10-5. Dick Groat has a grand slam and 5 RBIs in game 1, and Dave Phillies notches 5 RBIs in game 2 on a 3-run homer and double. Harry Anderson is 4-for-4 in game 2 and Pittsburgh’s Harry Bright, filling in when Don Hoak is ejected, has 3 hits and 3 RBIs.

Los Angeles move into first place ahead of the Braves with a 17–11 win over St. Louis. The Dodgers score 4 in the 8th and 4 more in the 9th. Charlie Neal has 5 hits and Hodges 5 RBIs to lead the Dodgers.

Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants hits the first of 868 career HRs.

29th At Comiskey Park, the Yankees get homers from Mantle, Bauer, and Skowron to beat the Sox, 5–2.

At Crosley Field, the Reds outslug the Cubs, 18–8, on 18 hits, including HRs by Robinson, Bell (2), and McMillan.