Dave McNally (ALC)

1966 was the first year that baseball really captured my attention as a kid.  Sandy Koufax was my favorite player, and this would be his last hurrah.  In the World Series his Dodgers would lose to my dad’s team, the Orioles, with Dave McNally edging Don Drysdale by a 1-0 score in the decisive Game 5.  An Iowan, Eddie Watt, saved all four of the O’s wins in this series.  One might assume this was the connection that caused my dad to favor that team, but it was actually due to having been stationed in Baltimore during his time in the Army.  Free tickets were given to servicemen, and to this day he remembers watching the likes of Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra from the bleachers.

Like several pitchers in this era, Drysdale was known for a brush-back pitch.  Orlando Cepeda put it this way: the trick was to hit Don before he hit you.  As a young pitcher myself, I noticed how he sometimes threw sidearm to intimidate righties (and used to try that myself when throwing to lefties). Today when I think of him I mostly remember that guest spot on The Brady Bunch, but in some ways 1968 was for him a year for the ages: that spring he spun 58 consecutive scoreless innings with six straight shutouts, and a 2.15 ERA on the year.  His 14-12 record is pretty ho-hum, and this would have been his third straight year with a losing record without that streak.

1968 would also be Drysdale’s last full year; the year was also Dave McNally’s coming-out party as a star.  The lefty, now in his 28th year, went 22-10 with a 1.95 ERA, and he would win at least twenty the next three years as well.  He gets quite a bit of love in this particular blog entry due to having thrown the IBC’s first no-hitter, on April 17th, in a 3-0 victory over the Waterloo Sailors.  

Historically, in 1968 no-hitters were thrown by Tom Phoebus, Catfish Hunter, George Culver, Gaylord Perry, and Ray Washburn.  Waterloo, an amalgam of the White Sox and Braves, currently has a .269 team batting average that ranks well above the current league average of .248.  McNally got a tail wind with Hank Aaron out of the lineup that game, but the Little Cyclone ace still faced some tough outs!

CainLes

A no-no is a rare event, especially so in a star-league like this (where two real teams are combined).  Over the course of my Strat-O-Matic years, the only one thrown by one of my guys in face-to-face play was by the immortal Les Cain.  That was back in 1972, when Cain had a 4.35 ERA and was the very definition of mediocrity.  My best friend at the time, Jerry Norton, had to suffer through the last few innings listening to the 15-yo version of myself gloat after each lucky out.  For all the advantages the computer brings to stat-keeping, I must say that the dice-and-cards experience created a much more memorable (and emotional) experience. 

In my heart he’s no Les Cain, but Dave McNally (22-10, 1.95, 273 IP) is definitely the #1 in this year’s loaded Little Cyclone rotation.  Behind him is a second lefty, Bob Veale (13-14, 2.05, 245 IP), who I remember for wearing glasses (like me).  The top righty on the staff is Steve Blass (18-6, 2.12, 220 IP), who had some really good years but is mostly famous for his sudden decline, with no physical injury to blame, in 1973 (that became known as “Steve Blass Disease”).  At the back of the rotation are 24-yo Jim Hardin (18-13, 2.51, 244 IP), Tom Phoebus (15-15, 2.62, 241 IP), and 20-yo Bob Moose (8-12, 2.74, 171 IP).  Like Blass, Moose had a nice string of seasons for the Pirates thru the early 1970s, but hurt his shoulder in ‘74 and (sadly) was killed in an auto accident in ’76.

Moe Drabowsky (1.91, 61 IP, 7 saves) is Hal’s choice for closer, but this team is absolutely loaded with other right-handed firemen: 36-yo Ron Kline (1.68, 113 IP, 7 saves), Eddie Watt (2.27, 83 IP, 11 saves), and 40-yo Roy Face (2.60, 52 IP, 13 saves) can also close.  Long men are 23-yo Dock Ellis (2.50, 104 IP) and 24-yo Roger Nelson (2.41, 71 IP).  There is just one lefty in the pen, Pete Richert (3.47, 62 IP, 6 saves).  

A few pitchers with the sorting requirement of 120+ IPs and/or a WAR of 0.5+ didn’t make Ames’s final 30-man roster:  Al McBean (9-12, 3.58, 198 IP), Dave Leonhard (7-7, 3.13, 126 IP), 23-yo Wally Bunker (2.41, 71 IP), 24-yo Luke Walker (2.02, 62 IP), and Tommie Sisk (3.28, 96 IP).  On some teams, guys like Bunker and Walker would have been key bullpen arms.

Here is a link to the Strat-O-Matic league file after 2 weeks of play, and the current standings:

1968IB-1-14-2019.lzp

4/21/68 Iowa Baseball Confederacy        Won   Lost    Pct     GB
Council Bluffs Falcons (A’s-Giants)       8      2    .800     —
Iowa City Regals (Red Sox-Phillies)       7      4    .636    1.5
Davenport Knights (Tigers-Cards)          6      4    .600    2.0
Cedar Rapids Saints (Twins-Dodgers)       6      5    .545    2.5
Des Moines Scarlets (Yankees-Cubs)        5      5    .500    3.0
Dubuque Golden Eagles (Senators-Astros)   6      6    .500    3.0
West Metro Maroons (Angels-Mets)          5      6    .455    3.5
Waterloo Sailors (White Sox-Braves)       5      7    .417    4.0
Ames Little Cyclones (Orioles-Pirates)    4      6    .400    4.0
Sioux City Crusaders (Indians-Reds)       2      9    .182    6.5

I’ll cover the Ames Little Cyclones hitters next time!

© John Kisner 2019