1961 September

1st  The AL’s biggest crowd of the year, 65,566, sees Whitey Ford and Don Mossi duel at Yankee Stadium as a weekend battle for first place begins. Two-out, 9th-inning hits by Elston Howard, Yogi Berra, and Bill Skowron give New York a 1–0 win over the Tigers.

Paul Richards (38-57) resigns as manager of the Orioles to become GM of the new Houston NL club. Coach Lum Harris takes over.

      Cubs 30-year-old rookie Cuno Barragan, sidelined since spring training when he broke his ankle, finally gets his first at bat and hits his only ML HR.  His clout comes off Giants P Dick LeMay, but the Cubs lose 4–3 in 14 innings.

2nd  Against Detroit’s Frank Lary, Maris doubles and takes 3B on a misplay. Mantle, hurting from a pulled muscle in his forearm, lays down a perfect drag bunt to score Roger. Maris then blasts homers his next two trips to the plate, and Elston Howard adds a three-run homer, for a 7–2 win.

      Milwaukee manager Chuck Dressen (71-58) is axed and executive vice president Birdie Tebbetts becomes the new skipper.

      Don Larsen (6-1) is the winner as the White Sox trounce the Senators, 12-7. Larsen is 3-for-4 and goes 6 innings. For the Senators, Danny O’Connell has a pair of doubles and drives in 4 runs. The third pitcher for the Nats is Carl Bouldin, who gives up a run in 2 innings in his ML debut.  Bouldin graduated in June from the University of Cincinnati, where he was a starter on the NCAA champions Bearcats basketball team.

3rd  After taking the first two games against Detroit, New York is down 5–4 in the 9th when Mantle ties the game with his 2nd homer of the day. Elston Howard wins it with a 3-run drive into the LF stands and Detroit leaves town 4 1/2 games in back of New York. Mantle is now at 50 home runs, with Maris at 53, the first teammates in history to hit 50.

4th  Mantle misses the Labor Day doubleheader with a painful and swollen forearm, but the Yanks don’t need him as they sweep a pair from the Senators, 5–3 and 3–2. The sweep moves the Yanks 6 games up on the slumping Tigers, who lose 6–3 to the Orioles and trail 4–1 in a game suspended.  Mantle’s replacement John Blanchard breaks a 3–3 tie in the opener with an 8th inning homer.

      After losing, 4–3, the Royals outkick the Angels, 13–7 in game 2, using an 11-run 6th inning. KC collects 7 hits, 4 walks, 3 errors and a stolen base for their big inning. Norm Siebern and winning pitcher Joe Nuxhall homer in the frame.

      At Busch Stadium, Bill White hits a grand slam, off Al McBean, to back Ray Sadecki’s 13th win. The Cardinals beat the Pirates, 9-4.

      In Minnesota, the White Sox and Twins split a pair of 9–5 decisions in a day-nite DH.  Killebrew hits his 39th homer in the opener to back Schroll’s 6 innings of spotty pitching. Al Smith has 4 hits and 4 ribbies in the nightcap. Numberless rookie Joe Horlen makes his ML debut in relief and picks up the win.  The only road uniform available has no number on it (as noted by Maxwell Kates).

      At LA, Don Drysdale stops the Giants, 4–0, allowing just 2 hits. The Dodgers are now 2 games in back of the first-place Reds.

5th  Los Angeles’s Lee Thomas ties the ML record with 9 hits in a doubleheader, 5 in the first game and 4, including 3 HRs, in the 2nd. One is a grand slam. Thomas ties the AL record with 19 total bases in a doubleheader. But Kansas City wins both games from the Angels, 7–3 and 13–12.

      The Yanks top Washington, 6–1, sending the Senators to their 20th defeat in their last 21 games.  Mantle’s homers for his 51st. The Yanks win, coupled with a Detroit doubleheader loss, puts New York ahead by 7 1/2 games.

6th  Roger Maris connects for #54, off Tom Cheney of the Senators, as the Yankees win, 8–0, behind Whitey Ford’s 5-hitter. Ford is now 23–3. John Blanchard hits a pair of homers, each time following a walk to Mantle, and Moose Skowron and Bob Hale also homer.

      The Dodgers come from behind to defeat the Giants for the 4th straight time, winning, 8–5, and moving within a game of first place.

7th  Maris lays down a bunt and also belts his 55th homer of the year in the 3rd inning as New York beats the Senators, 7–3.  All of Washington’s scores come in the 6th on an inside-the-park homer by Tito Francona, off Ralph Terry. When asked by a writer after the game why he bunted, a testy Maris replies, “Trying to win the game, you stupid cocksucker. Why do you think.”

8th  The Yanks rout the Indians 9–1 as Mantle hits #52, off Gary Bell. The Yanks win for their 9th straight while Detroit loses their 8th in a row to drop 10 games in back. The Tigers purchase vet Vic Wertz from the Red Sox to shore up the offense.

9thOn Whitey Ford Day at Yankee Stadium, Maris hits his 56th homer, off Cleveland’s Mudcat Grant, as the Yanks come from behind to win, 8–7. New York scores 4 in the 9th to enable Luis Arroyo to pick up his 12th relief win in a row, a one season AL record for consecutive wins.

      No doubt. The two Thomases power the Angels to a 6-2 win over the White Sox. Lee Thomas hits a solo homer and George Thomas clubs a grand slam. Eli Grba pitches a 4-hitter for the win.

10th  The Yankees sweep the Indians, 7–6 and 9–3 , their 12th win in a row at home and the Indians 20th loss in a row at Yankee Stadium. Mantle gets number 53 in the nightcap, while Maris, homerless, stays at 56. The official scorecard credits Mantle with 2 runs scored: it will be discovered in 1995 that one of the runs should go to Bill Skowron. In the 2nd game, Clete Boyer sends a Jim Perry pitch into the LF corner that hits the lower deck of the grand stand and bounces back into play. While home plate ump Joe Linsalata calls it a HR, the other two umps agree with Tribe CF Jimmy Piersall who contends the ball is in play. Boyer’s home run trot is interrupted at 3B with a tag out. Piersall’s contribution in game one is fighting with a fan who climbed onto the field.

      The Reds Bob Purkey allows just 2 hits in beating the visiting Cards, 5–2. The Reds lead the Dodgers by 4 games.

      At Chicago, the Phillies score 7 in the 7th, including Don Demeter’s grand slam, and notch 6 more in the 8th to beat the Cubs, 14–6. There is some solace for the Cubs as introduce a pair of gems: Ken Hubbs debuts with 2 hits and 2 runs and Lou Brock has one hit, one run and a pair of errors.

      At Milwaukee, Warren Spahn pitches his 10th straight complete game as the Braves edge the Pirates, 4-3, with a tally in the 9th. For Spahn it is his 19th win and he helps his own cause with his 4th homer of the year.

12thThe Phillies drive Koufax from the mound in a 9-run 2nd inning and go on to defeat the Dodgers, 19–10. The loss drops LA 4 1/2 games behind the Reds. The big gun for the Phils is ex-Dodgers Don Demeter, who hits a 2-run homer in the 1st, singles in a run in the 2nd, adds a 3-run HR in the 7th and a solo in the 9th. He scores 5 runs Two other Phils homer while 4 Dodgers go deep.

      At Milwaukee, the Reds Joey Jay beats his old team, 1–0, for his 20th victory of the year. He’s the Reds 1st 20-game winner since Blackwell in 1947.

14th  The Cardinals and Cubs set a NL record by using 72 players in a doubleheader (more than 18 innings). St. Louis leads the way with 37 players and wins twice 8–7 and then 6–5 in 11 innings.  Ken Boyer climaxes a 7-for-11 day by hitting for the cycle in the nightcap, completing it by belting his 22nd HR of the year in the 11th inning. He is the first hitter in history to cap off a cycle with a walkoff homerun. The Cards have won all 11 games with the Cubs at Busch this year.

      At Los Angeles, Duke Snider caps a 4-run 9th inning by drilling a dramatic 3-run homer on a 2-strike count. The HR gives the Dodgers a 7–6 win and cuts the Reds lead to 5 games.

15th  With 10 strikeouts in an 11–2 win against the Braves, the Dodgers Sandy Koufax has 243 strikeouts, most ever for a NL lefty.

      The Yankees set a new AL record for most homers in a season (222), as they split a doubleheader in Detroit, winning 11–1 and losing 4–2.  Circuit blows by Skowron and Berra in the opener help Whitey Ford win his 24th and increase New York’s homer total to 222 This breaks the old mark set by the 1947 Giants and tied by the 1956 Reds. Cash and Steve Boros homer in the nightcap to back Ron Kline’s 7-hitter.

16thAt Detroit, Roger Maris connects for #57, off Frank Lary, to stay a game ahead of Ruth’s 1927 pace.  But Lary wins his 21st, 10–4, over Ralph Terry, with help from Norm Cash, who belts a homer, his 37th, and a triple. Al Kaline adds 4 hits and a sac fly.

      In Los Angeles, the Dodgers edge the Braves, 8-7, in 11 innings. Ron Fairly’s 4th hit of the game drives in the winning run. Fairly makes an out in the 1st inning on a fielder’s choice, on of three outs that inning that the Dodgers make on the basepaths.  The oddity won’t happen again in the NL this century.

      The Senators acquire Claude Osteen from the Reds for 1B Dave Sisler and cash.

17th  In Detroit, Roger Maris triples off Terry Fox in the 7th to put the Yanks ahead, Detroit ties it and, then in the 12th, Maris faces Fox again with Kubek on 2B.  Maris steps out of the box to watch a long skein of Canadian geese fly over Tiger Stadium, then steps in and belts the first pitch for his 58th homer of the year. The Yankees win, 6-4.  Rookie Steve Boros walks five times in the game for Detroit.

      Al Smith’s 4th inning grand slam is all the scoring the White Sox need as the whip the Angels, 8-1.  Luis Aparicio swipes his 49th and 50th bases.

19th  The Giants clobber Warren Spahn for 4 home runs, one of them a grand slam by Willie Mays, and then rally in the 8th and 9th to top the Braves, 11–10. The two teams combine for 8 home runs and 57 total bases, but the short ball wins it—Kuenn’s tie breaking single in the 8th, and Ed Bailey’s sacks full single in the 9th. Reliever Stu Miller picks up his 14thwin, tops on the Giants in a rare instance of a reliever leading his team in victories (as noted by Pete Ridges).

20th  The Yankees’ 154th game of 1961 (including a tie) is Roger Maris’ last chance to beat the Babe, in compliance with Commissioner Ford Frick’s statement that, for the record to be broken, Maris must do it in the same number of games as Ruth. Maris’ 59th HR of the year, off Milt Pappas, is short of the record, but helps New York beat Baltimore 4–2, clinching its 26th AL pennant.  In 1998, Pappas will state that he told Maris the night before that, if the game’s outcome is not on the line, he would throw him nothing but fastballs.

21stAt New York, Maris is held hitless in 4 at bats, as the Orioles win, 5–3, behind Bill Fisher’s 3-hitter. All the runs off him are unearned.  Maris is the only Yankee regular to play the entire game.

22nd  Jim Gentile’s 5th grand slam of 1961 ties the ML single-season record in Baltimore’s 8–6 win over Chicago: Each of his slams comes with Chuck Estrada pitching for the Orioles. Gentile will hit 46 homers—15 in Estrada’s 29 starts, driving in 47 runs—this season with a total of 46 runners on base, the most in a season since Ruth hit homers with 48 runners on bases in 1921. Chicago’s Floyd Robinson makes the game close with a 9th inning grand slam of his own, the seventh Sox slam of the year, a club record.

      The Giants Billy O’Dell stops the first-place Reds, 6–0, at Cincinnati, reducing the Reds lead to 4 games.

23rd  An ailing Mickey Mantle’s career-high 54th HR, his last of the regular season, helps New York beat Boston 8–3. Whitey Ford leaves the game in the 5th inning, but wins his 25th.

      Its good to be King. Jim King clubs a grand slam and Bud Zipfel adds a solo HR as the Senators edge the Twins, 6-4, in game 1. Harmon Killebrew hits his 44th homer in game 2, and Camilo Pascual allows just 2 hits as the Twins win, 10-0.

      The Phils Wes Covington hits a solo homer in the 16th inning to top Pittsburgh’s Elroy Face, 5–4. Face also gives up an extra inning homer to Felipe Alou on the 11th. Malkmus earlier homered for the Phils. Jack Baldschun pitches 7 1/3 innings of shutout relief for the win.

24th  At Cincinnati, the Giants stage a 9-run 4th to rip the Reds, 12–5. Cepeda hits his 45th homer of the year, a grand slam, to climax the frame. Cepeda will hit one more HR this year and finish with 39 walks, the first NL player with more than 40 homers and fewer than 40 walks. Hal Trosky has done it in the AL.

      In the first of two at Milwaukee, Warren Spahn wins his 20th, 8-0, allowing only two hits, both to Billy Williams of the Cubs. It is the first of a record-tying four times that Williams will have the only hits in a game: he will be the only one to have multiple hits in each contest. Joe Torre has a homerun for the Braves and Spahn chips in with three hits. The Cubs take game 2, 4-2, as Billy Williams and Ernie Banks hit homers.

      Minnesota’s Joe Altobelli hits a one-out 7th-inning homer, the only hit off Washington’s Dick Donovan, who wins, 4–1. Jim Kaat loses his 16th.

      A dropped fly ball by Hunt in the 10th gives the Tigers 2 runs and a 7–5 win over the Angels. Hunt had tied the game in the 8th with a HR. Rookie Howie Koplitz wins his first ML game, after going 23-3 with a no hitter for Birmingham (SA). Koplitz will wins his first 7 decisions in the Bigs over 4 years but an arm injury will limit him to a 9–7 record.

      Hank Aaron hits a homer and the Braves edge the Cardinals, 2-1, behind Carlton Willey.  St. Louis scores a run in the 9th, then ends the game when Clete Boyer tries to score on a passed ball and is thrown out, 2-1.

26th  In New York’s 159th game, Roger Maris rips a Jack Fisher fastball into the RF seats at Yankee Stadium for his 60th HR. New York beats Baltimore 3–2. There are fewer than 8,000 fans on hand to view this historic event.

      Cincinnati clinches its first NL pennant since 1940. Homers by Frank Robinson and pinch hitter Jerry Lynch, a tie breaker in the 8th, give the Reds a 6–3 win at Chicago.

      At County Stadium, Lew Burdette and the Braves clip the Cardinals, 9-2. Burdette goes to 18-10 for the year. Ray Sadecki takes the loss, giving up a 3-run homer in the 1st to Joe Adcock and a solo to Eddie Mathews in the 3rd. The Cardinals turn 3 double plays, including an unassisted DP by Birds first sacker Bill White. It is his NL-record 8th of the year, breaking the 1924 mark (tied in 1934 by Suhr) of 7 by Cards first baseman Jim Bottomley. Bottomley still holds the AL record of 8, made in 1936 with St. Louis.

27th  Sandy Koufax (18-13) fans 7 Phils in the course of a 2–1 loss to set a NL record for strikeouts in a season: 269. This surpasses Christy Mathewson’s 267 in 1903, which was accomplished in 367 innings pitched, as opposed to Koufax’s remarkable 255. Both runs off Sandy are unearned.

      Minnesota’s Al Schroll take a no-hitter into the 9th inning against Cleveland, but pinch hitter Don Dillard’s single with no outs is the spoiler. Schroll then walks 2 and gives up a triple to Tito Francona, who scores on a ground out. Harmon Killebrew hits his 45th as the Twins win, 10–4. Jim Perry takes the loss.

28th  Who’s your daddy? Leon Wagner has a pair of doubles and a grand slam to drive in 8 runs as the Angels wallop the Senators, 13-4. Eli Grba earns the victory.

      Pedro Ramos doesn’t make it out of the first inning as the Indians trounce the Twins, 12-5. Woodie Held has a double and two homers to drive in 5 runs. Ramos suffers his 20thloss of the year and, for the fourth straight season, leads the AL in losses. No one will match that mark until Phil Niekro does it in the NL.

29th  Johnny Blanchard singles and homers to drive in both runs in the Yanks 2–1 win over the Red Sox. The Bomber handyman hits his 21st homer and singles in Roger Maris in the 9th to pin the loss on Bill Monbouquette. Whitey Ford pitches 4 scoreless innings for New York, and finishes the year having no stolen bases off him in 243 innings, a record.

      Leon Wagner, with 8 RBIs yesterday, drives in another pair today on a homerun as the Angels win over the Indians, 6-4.  Buck Rodgers grand slam is the big blow for the Haloes.

      Casey Stengel, 71, agrees to come out of retirement to manage the NL expansion New York Mets next year. Stengel mulled over the offer for 2 months before accepting. When he dons the uniform he will become the only man to wear the uniforms (as a player, coach or manager) of all four New York teams: the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees and Mets.

30th  In a battle of tail-enders, the Cubs beat the Mets, 5–1, behind Bob Buhl. Willard Hunter is the loser as the two teams total 99 victories.

      For the first time in major league history there are no triple plays made in either league. The mark will be tied in 1974.