J. D. Thorne, speaker and author of the new book Baseball’s Winning Ways  (Available on Amazon Books).

 “Pitching in the Modern Era”

Recently Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher, Corbin Burnes, was throwing a no-hitter for 8 innings. But he was removed having thrown 115 pitches over the course of the game. The pitch count was already over his normally allotted amount used to regulate arm use over the course of a season. The idea for team management is the Club needs fresh arms in October too. Indeed, after the game, the star Cy Young award contending pitcher acknowledged he had to fight with contending manager of the year, Craig Counsell, for permission to even pitch the 8th inning before turning the game over to the bullpen. Being politic perhaps, Burnes said he had not minded being removed for closer Josh Hader in the ninth to complete what could have been his career masterpiece. This was consistent with how he has been used all season, i.e.: regular rotation, limited innings, adequate rest between starts, etc.

The event reminded me of different thinking in a game played in 1963 between the Milwaukee Braves and the San Francisco Giants. It was played at the old “Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The wind that July 2 night was pouring in from the bay over the left field wall. Bud Selig, then age 28, was among the 15,921 attending this night. He said, “I felt I was in Milwaukee in January.”

The starting pitchers were Milwaukee Braves Hall of Famer, Warren Spahn, then age 42, and the Giants great Hall of Famer, then age 25, Juan Marichal. They were locked in a duel of arms. Pitch after pitch, inning after inning, each hurled shutout baseball. Hank Aaron hit a ball to left that a Marichal later said he thought for sure would be an home run, but the wind kept it in. The sole extra base hit for the Braves was the 7th inning two outs double by Spahn himself that hit just below the top of the right field wall. Had it gone out, how sweet would that have been? But Spahnnie did not score. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey hit a towering drive called foul by the first base umpire in a hotly disputed call, but this was well before instant reply. Into extra innings went the game.

Remembering the game, Braves starting second baseman Frank Bolling said: “You would never get either pitcher out of the game, I don’t care how long it went. If you [as manager] came to take Warren Spahn out of a game, he’d try to shoot you.” Even at age 42, Spahn led the league that year in complete games with 22; and in innings pitched while notching 23 wins to tie his career high. In the 13th inning Giant manager Al Dark approached Juan Marichal about continuing in extra innings. But he reportedly snapped, “A 42 year old man is still pitching. I can’t come out!” Before the start of the 15th inning, Marichal reportedly thought he spotted a reliever warming up in the bullpen.

To start the bottom of the 16th inning, Spahn threw his patented screwball pitch on the first pitch, but it hung too far inside. Mays knew what to do with it as he deposited the ball over the outfield wall with a walk-off home run to end the game. The game had taken 4 hours and 10 minutes to play. All told, Marichal threw 227 pitches and Spahn threw 201 pitches. After the game, each pitcher started in their normal rotation five days later.

Bud Selig at the 50 year anniversary of the game said, “It was a game that you will never forget. It was stunning. It was really, really just an amazing game.”