Game 55

June 16, 1965 – Luis Tiant One-Hitter

On this Wednesday night in 1965, second-year pitcher Luis Tiant was matched up with Phil Ortega and a forgettable Washington Senators lineup.

Tiant had been called up from AAA Portland halfway through the 1964 season after throwing a no-hitter and a one-hitter consecutively for the Beavers. In the big leagues he had shown flashes of brilliance, but was mostly overshadowed by his friend from the Indians farm system, Sam McDowell.

Against the Senators (the version that became the Texas Rangers) Tiant pitched brilliantly, working 1-2-3 innings in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second after hitting the leadoff hitter Frank Howard with a pitch. Joe Cunningham reached on an fielding error by Indians second baseman Pedro Gonzales. With Cunningham at second and Howard on third, Tiant intentionally walked Ed Brinkman to get to the pitcher Phil Ortega. He struck out Ortega and escaped with the 0-0 tie intact.

In the bottom of the 4th, Leon Wagner came through with some run support when he rocked a three-run home over the Municipal Stadium wall.

Tiant gave up the only Senator hit of the game to Woodie Held–a single to lead off the top of the 7th. He would then help out his own cause, sending Leon Wagner home with an RBI single in the bottom of the 8th.

Luis pitched the rest of the 1965 season with some persistent soreness in his arm and finished with an 11-11 record. By 1968, he led the American League with a 1.60 ERA and hits per 9 innings with 5.3. He was selected as an All-Star in 1968 and would have two more All-Star seasons with Boston later in his career.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: May 31, 2018 – Lindor 4 Extra Base Hits


Game 14

May 4, 1966 – Wagner and Brown Collide on Maris Pop Fly

The Indians started the 1966 campaign red hot, coming into New York for a mid-week series with an 11-1 record. With Sam McDowell, Sonny Siebert, and Luis Tiant in the rotation and hitters like Rocky Colavito, Leon Wagner, and Fred Whitfield, the 1966 Indians were one of the more promising teams since the mid-50s. Luis Tiant threw a four-hit shutout on against the Yankees Tuesday night, setting up a Wednesday evening showdown in the Bronx.

Leon Wagner was one of baseball’s most endearing characters in the 1960s. The muscular, always affable Wagner was the first star of the expansion California Angels. After two All-Star performances some disputes with management, “Big Daddy Wags” was traded to the Indians in 1964.

Both Sonny Siebert and Mel Stottlemyre came out firing. The Tribe recorded only one hit through the first three innings. Likewise, Siebert retired the first eleven Yankees in order.

With two outs in the fourth, Roger Maris popped a fly into short left field. Shortstop Larry Brown raced into the outfield, as Leon Wagner charged in from left field. There was a spectacular head-on collision in left field. Both players lay motionless near the left field foul line for several minutes. Some sources indicate that Brown swallowed his tongue and nearly died in Yankee Stadium. Brown credited trainer Wally Bock with saving his life and carrying him off the field.

Wagner had a concussion and a broken nose, but returned to the field only a few days later. Brown fared far worse. He suffered multiple skull fractures, a broken nose, and broken eye sockets.

“I’ve played college football, and I’ve seen split lips, smashed noses, cut faces, and earlobes torn off. But this was the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Indians third baseman Max Alvis

Brown spent 18 days in the hospital in New York, and did not return to the field for six weeks. He lost 10 pounds while in the hospital, and was out of condition when he returned. His batting average dropped 24 points from the .253 he posted in 1965.

Dick Howser replaced Brown at short and Chuck Hinton replaced Wagner in left field. Siebert and Stottlemeyer continued their pitching duel until Sonny Siebert helped out his own cause, leading off the top of the 8th with a bunt single. Vic Davalillo grounded to short and Siebert was thrown out at second. Davalillo then stole second. Chuck Hinton hit one back at Stottlemyre on the mound. Stottlemyre’s throw to first missed the mark, and Davalillo was able to score on the error.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees would manufacture one run when Lou Clinton hit an RBI single pinch-hitting for Stottlemyre.

In the top of the 9th, Steve Hamilton replaced Stottlemyre on the mound and gave up a leadoff home run to Indians first baseman Fred Whitfield. Hamilton would be pulled in favor of reliever Pedro Ramos in short order, but the damage was done.

Siebert would go on to record the complete game win, and moved the Indians to 13-1 for the season.

1964 turned out to be Wagner’s most productive year with the Tribe. He totalled 100 RBI with 31 home runs, and 14 stolen bases. As productive as he was on offense, Wagner was sometimes comically bad in left field. When asked why he caught foul balls with only his glove hand he once quipped, “I’ve found that I field better if I catch the ball with only one hand. When you use two hands, the other one just gets in the way.”