Harvey Haddix and Dick Stuart
So what does a Post about two former Pittsburgh Pirate baseball players have to do with music?
The only possible answer would be “Absolutely Nothing”.
Harvey’s Heart Breaking 13
But when I came across a book the other day in the Jefferson County Arvada Public Library based on baseball’s perfect game near misses – a book which examines 13 games that went all the way to the final 27th batter of the game before ending in heartbreak and three more that went beyond the traditional nine innings, again go be foiled, well I picked the book up a perused a few pages.
One game in particular stands out: A game played in the Spring of 1959 (May 29th) against the Milwaukee Braves. The book claims this outing by Haddix was the single most outstanding pitching performance in the entire history of baseball. Haddix faced and retired the first 36 Brave hitters.
Then it happened, a mishandled infield grounder off the bat of leadoff batter Felix Mantilla. Next up was hall of famer Eddie Mathews who sacrificed bunted – Mantilla to 2nd base. The Pirates elected to intentionally walk the great Hank Aaron. This set the stage for a very peculiar ending to this classic game. Joe Adcock blasted what should have been a home run into the stands.
Some confusion prevailed and somehow Adcock passed Hank Aaron on the base paths during his home run trot. Aaron apparently veered off the base paths believing the game was settled with the umpire ruling Aaron as the 2nd out, final score 2-0 with Adcock receiving credit for a double. Later on Major League Baseball would change their ruling to an official home run for Joe.
Even stranger, the game was for a time officially recorded as both a “no hitter” and a “perfect game” due to reaching the nine inning mark with those accomplishments in place. Both of those record book entries were erased by a new official Major League ruling in 1991, eliminating the nine inning portion of the rule; a perfect game must be perfect all the way; a no-hitter – no matter what – must contain no hits. And that was that for Harvey.
Harvey’s career was not without highlights. In 1953 while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, he compiled a 20-9 record with 163 strikeouts, a 3.06 ERA, and oh yes (something we won’t likely ever witness again) 19 complete games with six shutouts! Haddix ended his career with 136 wins and 113 losses.
He two additional shining moments in the 1960 World Series against the fabled and loaded New York Yankees. He started and won game five and was pitching in relief in game seven when Bill Mazeroski smashed his World Series winning home run. Not a bad footnote.
Dick Stuart – Minor League Sultan of Swat
As a young boy collecting Tops Baseball Cards, I had always been very intrigued when reading the ‘career highlight’ on the back on Stuart’s 1960 card. It contains a cute little cartoon likeness of Stuart with a brief notation that he slugged an unbelievable 66 home runs while assigned to the minor league team in the Western League.
I can’t imagine that any minor league player anywhere has ever approached that total. How could they? What major league parent team would not “call them up”?
Stuart’s major league career wasn’t nearly as dramatic. He hit a total of 228 home runs (very respectable) over a career which he was handed off several times playing for six major league teams and doing a short stint as well in Japan before finishing up his career in 1969 with the California Angels.
Stuart did finish in the top ten home run hitters in the majors in five different seasons and led the American League in RBI’s in 1963 with 118. (Chicago Cub Hack Wilson holds the all-time RBI mark with 191 driven in in 1930). Unfortunately Dick was one of the worst fielding first basemen in the majors. He still holds the single season record for errors by a first basemen – a ghastly 29!
And that game seven in the 1960 World Series? Stuart was perched confidently on deck when Mazeroski hit the shot heard round the world!
Haddix passed away in 1994 and Stuart in 2002
And Music and Baseball?
Here’s a little Terry Cashman: