1961 July

1st  The Senators stake rookie Carl Mathias to a 3–0 lead over New York, but a Mantle solo shot, a few feet left of the 456-foot sign in left at Yankee Stadium, puts New York on the board. The Nats up the score to 5–1, but Mantle then bangs a 3-run homer to make it 5–4 and knock out Mathias [who in his 11 ML games will give up 3 homers to Mantle]. In the 9th, Maris poles a 2-run homer, his 28th, to give New York a 7–6 victory.

      Harmon Killebrew has 4 hits and drives in 5 runs to lead the Twins to a 9-3 win against the Athletics.  His 9th inning grand slam completes the scoring for Minnesota.

      At Milwaukee, Gordy Coleman collects 8 hits and leads the Reds to a sweep over the Braves. The Reds win the opener, 8–5, as Coleman collects 5 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 13th off Warren Spahn. Gordy chips in with 3 more hits in the nightcap, a 4–3 Reds win.

2ndThe Yankees hit 5 homers—#28 by Mantle and #’s 29 and 30 by Maris—to easily beat the Senators 13–4. Mantle is 1-for-1 with 4 walks, while Elston Howard has 3 hits, including a homer, and 3 runs. Bud Daley goes 8 innings for the win.

      The Pirates sweep a pair from the Giants, winning 7–6 and 9–0.  Sore-armed Vern Law, making his 1st start in more than 3 weeks, is lifted in the 6th and Haddix wins in relief. Bobby Shantz pitches a 5-hitter to win the nightcap as the Bucs score 6 unearned runs off Marichal.  The Giants, 2 1/2 games back yesterday, will be 9 out on the evening of July 8.

      Jim Gentile’s 3rd-innng grand slam is the big blow as the Orioles double down the first-place Tigers, 6-3. Chuck Estrada (6-5) and Billy Hoeft combine for the win.

      Pitcher Glen Hobbie and Tony Taylor each hit a pair of homers for the Cubs, and pinch hitter Richie Ashburn’s bases-loaded single in the 8th brings home the deciding run. The Cubs edge the Cardinals, 10–9.

3rdAt Metropolitan Stadium, Bob Allison clouts a 7th inning grand slam and the Twins hold on for a 7-6 win over the White Sox.

4th  Before 74,246—the largest crowd at the Stadium since 1947—the Yankees split with the Tigers, winning the opener 6–2, before losing 4–3 in 10 innings. Whitey Ford (15-2) bests Don Mossi (9-2) in the opener. Frank Lary (12-4) is the victor in game 2 with the help of a 9th inning triple steal. Frank Fernandez swipes home, with Al Kaline and Billy Bruton stealing. Roger Maris hits his 31st for New York.

      At Metropolitan Stadium, the Twins sweep a pair from the White Sox, winning the opener 6–4 when Julio Becquer hits a 9th inning grand slam as a pinch hitter, connecting off veteran Warren Hacker. Four pitchers are each charged with a run on the slam. Cal McLish shuts out the Twins in game 2 until the 8th inning when the Twins score 4 runs, 2 on Harmon Killebrew’s only career inside-the-park-HR, off Cal McLish. Appropriately, it is the Metro’s first IPHR. The Twins win, 4–2, behind Jack Kralick.

      At Chicago, the Giants close out their road trip by rolling to a 19–3 win in game 1, collecting 22 hits including a homer by Orlando Cepeda that is one of the longest in Wrigley history. The Cubs come back in the nightcap to win, 3–2, overcoming Willie Mays’ 300th homer. At the half way mark, the Giants are in 3rd place, 5 1/2 games in back of the first-place Reds.

      Johnny Antonelli returns to the Braves as the Indians sell the veteran back to where he started as an 18-year-old pitcher.

5th  At Yankee Stadium, Roger Maris cracks a 7th inning solo HR against the Indians, and also is credited—erroneously, as it turns out—with a 3rd inning RBI on a single. The 2 RBIs are officially recorded, though just one appears in the game’s box score, and the error will not be noted until 1995.  With the correction, Maris and Jim Gentile become co-leaders in RBIs for the season.

6th  Solly Hemus (33-41) is fired as manager of the Cardinals and replaced by coach Johnny Keane.

7th  For the second time in a week, Jim Gentile clouts a grand slam for the Orioles as they beat the Athletics, 6-2 in the opener of a twinbill.  Gentile’s pinch hit salami in the 6th breaks a 2-2 tie.  Hal Brown’s 4-hitter in the nightcap is good for a 5-0 win.

Pittsburgh puts Vern Law on the retired list, on doctor’s orders, to rest his sore right arm.

8th  At Yankee Stadium, Whitey Ford tops the Red Sox 8–5. Mantle hits a HR in the 4th, off Tracy Stallard, for his 10th roundtripper this year in support of Ford.

9th  Sherm Lollar’s 9th-inning pinch-hit grand slam, off Frank Funk, for the White Sox crushes Cleveland 7–5. It is the 5th pinch slam in the AL this season—two by the Sox—and ties the ML record. The Sox also win a 2nd game 9–8. Over the afternoon 8 HRs are hit.

      The Tigers take over 1st place with a doubleheader sweep of the Angels. Frank Lary’s. 13th victory in the opener, a 1–0 three-hitter, is followed by Jim Bunning’s 6–3 win in the nightcap.

      At Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox and Yankees split a pair. New York wins the opener, 3–0, on Rollie Sheldon’s 5-hitter.  Roger Maris hits his 33rd homer of the year. All-star-bound rookie Don Schwall wins the nightcap, 9-6, after his teammates stake him to a 7-0 lead by the 4th. Gary Geiger and Carl Yastrzemski pull off a double steal and Jim Pagliaroni hits a long fly to Yogi Berra in LF. Yogi catches it but stumbles and both runners score. Bobby Richardson has 3 hits, including a 3-run HR, for New York.

      At Los Angeles, Frank Robinson has a pair of homers, a double and single to drive in 7 runs and the Reds coast over LA, 14–3. Vada Pinson scores 5 runs.

11th  Strong winds dominate the first All-Star Game of 1961. A capacity crowd sees P Stu Miller blown off the mound in the 9th inning at Candlestick Park. A balk is called, and it enables the AL to forge a 3–3 tie before losing 5–4 in 10 innings.

13th  Mack Jones of the Braves ties the NL record with 4 hits—3 singles and a double—in his ML debut, a 6–5 triumph over St. Louis.

      Chicago’s Early Wynn gets an early departure as he retires just two Yankees in the first inning.  Then Mantle (30th) and Maris (34th) belt back-to-back homers to send the vet to the showers. For Mantle, it is the 13th homer in his career off Wynn, his favorite target. New York wins, 6–2.

      Ted Lepcio belts a 1st-inning grand slam and Harmon Killebrew adds a 2-run homer in the 9th as the Twins outlast the host Indians, 9-6. Lepcio was signed in June after the White Sox released him May 20th.

14th  Willie Kirkland whacks his fifth HR in 3 games to help the Indians down the Angels 7–5 at Cleveland. His first 4 were in consecutive at bats before and after the All-Star break and tied the ML record. He now has 16 en route to 27 for the year.

      At Candlestick, the Pirates come from behind to beat the Giants, 6-4. Roberto Clemente’s 8th in grand slam is the big blow.

      At Los Angeles, the Phils top the Dodgers 7–5 in 10 innings. Phils’ reliever Jack Baldschun pitches in his 8th straight game to pick up the win.

16th  Detroit regains first place with two complete game victories from Phil Regan and Don Mossi. Mossi homers in the first game, an 11-1 rout, and Rocky Colavito  belts 2 homers, good for 5 RBIs,  in the 7-3 game 2 victory.

      New York edges 3rd place Baltimore, beating Steve Barber 2–1. Mantle drives home both runs.

17th  Following a year-long illness, Ty Cobb succumbs to cancer at age 74 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

      Bill White goes 8-for-10 in a doubleheader, as the Cards sweep the Cubs 10–6 and 8–5 at Busch Stadium. In game 1, the Cards are scoreless until the 7th. Al Heist has 3 doubles off Curt Simmons, who last 8 innings for the win. Ernie Broglio is the victor in game 2 as Julian Javier matches White’s 4 hits.

      Commissioner Ford Frick decrees that Babe Ruth’s record of 60 HRs in a 154-game schedule in 1927 “cannot be broken unless some batter hits 61 or more within his club’s first 154 games.”

      The Yankees top the O’s, 5–0, behind Whitey Ford’s 13th straight win. Mantle (#33) and Skowron hit long HRs at Baltimore. Ford is now 17-2. The nightcap goes into the 5th when, with 2 outs and the Yanks up 4–1, a thunderstorm strikes. The umps wait 65 minutes before calling the game, thus washing out homers by Maris and Mantle and two others.

      Norm Cash belts a 1st inning grand slam off Joe Nuxhall and the Tigers go on to beat the White Sox, 7-4. Paul Foytack earns the win.

18th  Bill White and the Cards continue to beat up on the Cubs, sweeping 8–3 and 7–5. White goes 3-for-4 in each game and ties Ty Cobb’s 49-year-old record of 14 hits in consecutive twin bills.

      Following a double steal in the 6th inning by Henry Aaron and Joe Adcock of the Braves, Joe Torre follows an out with a bases-loaded walk. The three then combine to startle the Reds battery of Jim Maloney and John Edwards with a triple steal. For Aaron, it is his first steal of home; for Adcock, they are his only two steals of the year. The Braves win, 12-8.

      Mantle poles two homers, off rookie Joe McLain, to pace New York to a 5–3 win over the Senators.  In pre-game ceremonies, Mantle teamed with New York Congressman Eddie Dooley to win the homer-hitting contest against other Congressional-player duos.

19thThe Yanks and Senators split, with Washington winning the nightcap 12–2. Dick Donovan is the winner. Mantle belts a 500 foot homer in the 4th over the RF wall.

      Ford Frick, an old friend of Babe Ruth’s, announces that should Ruth’s record be beaten after 154 games, the record will carry an asterisk. When asked about the ruling, Maris replies, “A season is a season.”

21st  With each team stranding 15 base runners, the Angels and Senators tie the ML record for runners left on base by 2 clubs in a 9-inning game. Los Angeles wins 16–5.

      Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris slam back-to-back HRs in the first inning for New York, but it takes a 2-out, 9th-inning pinch-hit grand slam by Johnny Blanchard to finally subdue the Red Sox, 11–8, at Fenway. The pinch slam is the AL’s 6th of the season, a new record.

      The Cardinals sell Mickey McDermott to Kansas City shortly after new manager Johnny Keane, in front of the entire team, rips the veteran pitcher for his training habits. As McDermott tells the Phoenix New Times in 1991, I replied, “Well, John, if you feel that way, I’ll take off my uniform and leave.”  McDermott’s stay with the Royals will last just three weeks before they release him.

      House returns home. The Orioles and Tigers swap catchers as Baltimore receives Harry Chiti in exchange for Frank House. House originally signed with the Tigers in 1948 for a bonus of $75,000 and two cars. He debuted with Detroit in 1950.

22nd  John Blanchard does it again with a solo pinch-hit HR to start a 3-run 9th-inning Yankee rally to tumble the Red Sox 11–9. Blanchard ties the existing mark for pinch homers in consecutive appearances.

23rd  Using 21 pitchers, the Tigers (11) and A’s (10) set an AL record for most hurlers used in an 18-inning doubleheader. At 3 hours, 54 minutes, the 2nd game is the longest 9-inning contest in AL history. The entire doubleheader lasts 6 hours, 50 minutes, a ML record. The Tigers sweep 6–4 and 17–14, taking first place by one percentage point.

      The Braves sweep a pair from the Pirates, winning 11-4 and 5-4.  Joe Torre and Eddie Mathews each have 4 hits, with Mathews including a homer. Hank Aaron homers as well as Bob Buhl takes the win.  Mathews and Aaron each score 2 runs in game 2, as Lee Maye drives in 3. Rocky Nelson, with 2 hits in the opener, has a pinch single in game 2. It is the last hit for the veteran who will go 0-for-29 the rest of the season to close out his career.

24th  At Kansas City, Detroit P Frank Lary collides with rookie 3B Steve Boros, and both players leave the game with injuries.  Lary does not miss a start but Boros’ collarbone is broken and he will not return. He has 53 RBIs to date.

      At Yankee Stadium, 50,000 fans, on hand for the Yankees exhibition game with the Giants, save their biggest cheer for Willie Mays.  Willie delivers a 2-run single in the 4–1 victory. The only score for the Yanks is a Mickey Mantle homer.

25th  Roger Maris hits 4 HRs, tying the AL record for a twin bill as New York beats Chicago 5–1 and 12–0. Mickey Mantle also homers off Frank Baumann in the first game. He ends the day with 38 HRs to 40 for Maris.

      At Wrigley, Ken Boyer hits a first inning grand slam, off Jack Curtis, and the Cardinals hold on for a 6-5 win over the Cubs.

26th  John Blanchard ties a ML record by hitting his 3rd and 4th HRs in 4 at bats over 3 games. He drives in 4 of the Yankee runs in a 5–2 victory over the White Sox at the Stadium. New York manages just 6 hits but 4 are homers, including one by Mantle following Blanchard’s first-inning clout.  Blanchard will end the year with 21 homers in 243 at bats, the first player in history to hit 20 or more in fewer than 250 at bats.

      Norm Larker belts an 8th inning grand slam and the visiting Dodgers down the Phillies, 6-1. Don Drysdale improves to 8-6 and Willie Davis contributes 4 hits.

      At Milwaukee, the first-place Reds muscle 3 runs in the 8th inning to beat the Braves, 3–2. Gus Bell rings a pinch homer and Frank Robinson clubs a two-run homer for the Reds.

27th  Vada Pinson gives the Reds a 2–1 win over the Braves when he swipes home in the 9th inning. Pitcher Carlton Willey’s throw beats Pinson but he kicks the ball out of the glove of C Sammy White.

      The Giants Juan Marichal fires his first shutout of the year, stopping the Pirates, 2–0, on 5 hits. Manager Dark says before the game that “Marichal will go all the way” and keeps his relief pitchers in the dugout to emphasis the point.

28th  The Yanks buy 1B Bob Hale from Cleveland. This will make vet Earl Torgeson, signed on June 17, expendable.  They’ll release Torgy as a player in early September and sign him as a coach.

29th  Duke Snider’s pinch HR and Ron Fairly’s RBI hit give Los Angeles a 5–4 win at Pittsburgh. The Dodgers take over first place from the Reds.

      The Giants Orlando Cepeda hits a 1st inning grand slam, off Don Ferrarese, to give the Giants a 4–3 win over the Phils.  The Phillies will lose 23 straight before another victory.

30th  Behind Jack Kralick, the Twins shut out the Tigers, 4-0. Kralick allows 8 singles, including one to Al Kaline to extend his hitting streak to 22 games.

31st  The 2nd All-Star Game of 1961 ends in a 1–1 tie at Fenway Park. Rocky Colavito homers for the AL run, connecting off starter knuckleballer Bob Purkey in the 1st. Heavy rains end the exhibition after 9 innings.