Ah, Yes! We Remember It Well, Sort Of!

“It was a great game, even if didn’t all happen on the same day.”

 “Houston must have cooled off after winning their first 3 because SABR convention 44 alum Hall Smith cooled off, too. I see he went 4 for 11 (.363) with a home run, a double and 4 rbi’s in our first 3 games. Pretty impressive.

 “Also, in yesterday’s write-up you mention the 4th of July. I would like to see you do a write-up of the Colt 45’s/Dodger July 4th double header when Koufax and Drysdale started for the Dodgers. I remember that I was in Bolivar and came in for the game. It was standing room only if you can believe that. Open stadium, July 4th in Houston and the place was packed! Hot! I think i sat in an aisle on the first base side. I believe that was our biggest major league crowd prior to the opening of the Dome.”

~ Mike McCroskey, Comment at The “Spoiler Alert, et al” column, 2/28/18.

Mike, our Houston Colt .45s did play a DH on the 4th of July 1962, but it was in a double loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Colt Stadium by scores of 7-0 and 4-3. The next season, the Colts would play another home DH on July 4th. this time taking both games against the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2 and 6-2.

The Intimidation Effect: When you played in the National League back then, even a single game against the Dodgers, it felt as though your club was always up against Koufax and Drysdale on the same day, even if neither of them was sat to pitch. Stories of their most recent domination games preceded them at each site the club visited next. Mediocre batters talk, but they don’t always listen. Sometimes the silence we see among the lesser light hitters is not listening at all. It’s the mask of imagination. i.e., As in,”I wonder how I’m going to do against a guy who threw near 100 mph and struck out 15 in his last outing?”

Maybe Dodger manager Walt Alston could have allowed Koufax and Drysdale to both go out, one at a time,  and throw five highly visible warm up pitches prior to each game they weren’t expected to pitch at all. We doubt if it would have helped batter thinking, but we do sense that it could have stirred the pot of imagination all the more.

Our Response. We are pleased to say that we know ardent Astros fan Mike McCroskey. A more likeable and passionately funny fan is impossible to find. And I have no doubt that the fiery part of his memory about leaving Bolivar on that long ago day in 1962 is accurate. It just happened a little earlier than the 4th of July – and – even though it came with all the exciting rarity of an early times SRO baseball crowd in Houston, we are pretty darn sure we combed our way through the records of Baseball Almanac and nailed down when it actually happened.

First get a grip on what this simple table we just formed is telling us. It isn’t really complicated, but these first two columns are used here to simplify how our table works.

First of all, it features only those 1962-64 Colt .45 home games in which either Sandy Koufax (SK) or Don Drysdale (DD) participated as pitchers for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Colts in Houston from 1962 through 1964.

The far left column shows the linear dates of each such appearance from 1962 through 1964, with the two players identified in column two as either SK or DD and by the number of innings pitched in the game played on that date.

The next three columns show how the number of earn runs surrendered, the number of hits given up, and the number of strikeouts (K) recorded.

The last three columns to the left show by team initials, the winning team and score under “GAME W” – the pitching records to date for whichever great LAD pitcher (SK or DD) was involved in Colt Stadium home games from 1962 to 1964 through that date in the count – and the game attendance for that particular contest during the three-year pre-Astrodome MLB Houston start-up period for Houston.

DATE SK-DD/IP ER H K GAME W PITCH R GATE
05/08/62 SK/5.2 2 7 8 LAD, 9-6 SK, 0-0 17,483
05/10/62 DD/9.0 2 3 5 LAD, 6-2 DD, 1-0 15,076

The Summary Records of Koufax and Drysdale at Colt Stadium, 1962-1964:

DATE SK-DD/IP ER H K GAME W PITCH R GATE
05/08/62 SK/5.2 2 7 8 LAD, 9-6 SK, 0-0 17,483
05/10/62 DD/9.0 2 3 5 LAD, 6-2 DD, 1-0 15,076
06/08/62 SK/5.1 2 2 6 LAD, 4-3 SK, 0-0 15,877
06/10/62 DD/9.0 3
 6  3 LAD 9-3
 DD, 2-0
30,027*
04/13/63 DD/9.0 1 5 8 LAD, 3-1 DD, 3-0 15,164
04/14/63 SK/5.1 4 6 4 HOU, 5-4 SK, 0-1 10,180
06/03/63 DD/7.0 2 7 13 HOU, 2-1 DD, 3-1 15,659
06/05/63 SK/9.0 1 8 8 LAD, 5-1 SK, 1-1 15,365
08/02/63 DD/6.0 4 9 2 HOU, 4-1 DD, 3-2 13,054
08/03/63 SK/9.0 0 3 4 LAD, 2-0 SK, 2-1 25,473
04/27/64 DD/9.0 0 6 5 LAD, 6-0 DD, 4-2 14,751
07/09/64 DD/6.1 2 5 7 HOU, 6-5 DD, 4-2 12,428
07/10/64 SK/5.1 2 5 8 LAD, 4-3 SK, 3-1 27,990
09/27.64 DD/10.0 0 3 6 HOU, 1-0 (12) DD, 4-2 6,246

* Most probably, the McCroskey game of memory as the 4th of July is the one noted in the chart as the DH played on Sunday, June 10, 1962. Drysdale pitched Game One on that long hot Houston Sunday afternoon; pitchers other than Koufax handled the Game Two LA sweep. It was the only game in 1962 against LA that came close to the 33,000 Colt Stadium capacity. I was at the Saturday, June 9, 1962 single game the previous day in which close to a dozen people were transported to nearby hospitals for serious heat reactions.

Thanks, Mike, too for getting me onto the business of looking more closely at how well Koufax (3-1) and Drysdale (3-2) did against us in Houston during the three years our guys played in Colt Stadium. Those future Hall of Famers were pretty good, weren’t they?

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “Ah, Yes! We Remember It Well, Sort Of!”

  1. Tom Kleinworth Says:

    I had the pleasure of being one of the 13,912 who attended the 4th of July doubleheader against the Reds in 1963. I think my friend Andy Lopez was there too. We swept both games. One of the highlights – a grand slam by catcher Jim Campbell! (I don’t recall seeing either Koufax or Drysdale there, though.)

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Tom, yes, what a fun day for Colt .45 fans the 4th of July 1963 turned out to be for those who showed up. A “double-w” win over the Reds – or anybody – was nothing to sneeze about either, then or now. And we didn’t need the presences of Mssrs. Koufax and Drysdale from that other club to make it a happy day drive home on the Old Spanish Trail.

  2. gregclucas Says:

    All this does is prove memories are sometimes close, but not quite.. Eye witnesses for crimes often not reliable so being “off” on something that happened 56 years ago can be excused.

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