Old ballplayers never die--they just finish games
--Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan
Improved starting pitching carried the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League Central Division title. Unfortunately they will not play the Atlanta Braves in the postseason, but two of the greatest games ever pitched involved their earlier incarnation, the Milwaukee Braves. Sportswriters Lew Freedman and Jim Kaplan share the well-worn phrase "greatest game ever" in their titles about pitchers Harvey Haddix, Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal and their pitching gems. Both books are ultimately about achieving greatness in failure.
Hard-Luck Harvey Haddix and the Greatest Game Ever Lost follows journeyman Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Harvey Haddix nursing a cold while pitching against the defending National League champion Milwaukee Braves lineup of sluggers Eddie Mathews, Henry Aaron, Joe Adcock, et al, at County Stadium on May 26th, 1959. For nine innings, he didn't allow a single Brave to reach base. Only four other starters pitched perfect games in the modern era (1893- ) before him.
Unfortunately, his Pirates teammates couldn't score a run off Braves sinkerballer Lew Burdette. The game went into extra innings. He retired 36 straight batters going into the 13th inning. An error, sacrifice, intentional walk, hit and Haddix lost his perfect game 1-0. The most remarkable thing was his efficiency. He threw only 115 pitches over 13 innings in under three hours.
The Greatest Game Ever Pitched is about the 16 inning pitching duel between Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn and San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal at the wind tunnel officially known as Candlestick Park on July 2nd, 1963. While they shared a high leg kick pitching delivery, they were opposites in many respects. The ageless Spahn was a 42 year old decorated World War II veteran and won the most games in the 1950s (202). The 25 year old Marichal was from the Dominican Republic and was part of the growing black Latino diversity in our national pastime after Jackie Robinson reintegrated baseball in 1947.
The two control artists matched goose eggs for 15 innings, shutting down Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Eddie Mathews of the Braves and Willie "Say Hey" Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda of the Giants. When Giants manager Alvin Dark visited the mound in the 14th inning, Marichal told him "Do you see that man on the other side? He's 42 and I'm 25, and you can't take me out until that man is not pitching." In the 16th inning, Mays cranked one of his 660 career home runs off Spahn to end the classic pitching duel 1-0.
The game was a watershed moment for both pitchers. Spahn said he was never the same and 1963 was his 13th and final 20 win season. Marichal was on his way to his first of six 20 win seasons and winning the most games in the 1960s (191),
When you're watching the Brewers pursue their World Series dreams, you'll enjoy reading these books during pitching changes.
Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo