The golden anniversary of the greatest game ever pitched

Thanks to Chris Jaffe at Hardball Times for reminding me today is the 50th anniversary of the epic mound duel between Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal.

(excerpted from a 2011 Office remembrance) 

262. That’s how many pitches were thrown by 42-year-old Warren Spahn 48 years ago today. On the 262nd, Willie Mays homered to break a scoreless tie. In the bottom of the 16th.

“He ought to will his body to medical science,” said Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell, who was in attendance at Candlestick Park for the epic duel won by Juan Marichal, who hurled 16 shutout innings.

There were seven Hall of Famers on the field that day: Sphan, Marichal, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda. Those five hitters were a combined 4-for-26 against the starting pitchers.

That may all sound impressive but, in Spahn’s case, it really wasn’t. The Buffalo-born southpaw recorded only two strikeouts, and, according to advanced metrics, he should’ve given up 6 runs and 18 hits.

What a joke. If Spahn, who averaged 4.4 K’s/9 innings in his career, pitched today he’d get zero respect from the statistically inclined.

Postscript: Five days later, Spahn shut out the Houston Colts. And yes, he went the distance.


2 thoughts on “The golden anniversary of the greatest game ever pitched

Add yours

  1. A few years ago, I got Marichal to sign a ball that Spahn had signed 40 years previously. Marichal examined the ball and upon seeing Spahn’s autograph, said reverently, “Warren Spahn … he was a hell of a peetchur.” I thought even higher of both of them after that.

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