Getting Tommy John to 300… #292
by Paul Semendinger
300 is a great round number.
And if a pitcher wins 300 games, that’s also almost a sure fire way to gain induction.
Every single pitcher in baseball history with 300 wins, save for Roger Clemens (but that’s another story) is in the Hall-of-Fame.
The pitchers just outside 300 have not been as fortunate.
Bobby Mathews (who pitched from 1871 to 1887 – spending a few years in New York on the NY Mutuals) won 297 games, he’s on the outside looking in. It was, of course, a different game then.
But next on the All-Time Wins list is Tommy John with 288. He’s also on the outside looking in.
(Note – With Jim Kaat and his 283 wins gaining entrance into the Hall of Fame, Tommy John should earn election the next time his name comes up in committee. Tommy John is every bit as deserving as Jim Kaat.)
I decided to take a look at Tommy John’s long career to see if I could find him 12 more wins.
This, then is my quest. Today I will seek and find win #292 for Tommy John.
The previous win I found for Tommy John came on a start he made on June 20, 1964. His next win comes in his immediate next start, June 26, 1964, a game he also lost, but could have and probably should have won.
In real life, Tommy John’s career began with a host of tough losses. I have documented some of them in this series. The game on June 26, 1964 resulted in a loss for Tommy John dropping his record on the season to 2-7. With just a little luck, with a win in his previous start, and a win in this game, he would have been 4-5; still not great, but a whole lot better than 2-7.
If only the Indians scored more runs for Tommy John…
If only they didn’t make errors…
If only they went to the bullpen in this one…
This game, played against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, must have been a particularly tough loss for Tommy John to take. Here’s how it went:
1st Inning – Tommy John retired the Red Sox in order.
2nd Inning – John allowed a one-out walk, but otherwise allowed no damage.
3rd Inning – John allowed a lead-off single, but otherwise no damage.
4th Inning – (This was the bad inning, the worst…until later.) Carl Yastrzemski led off with a double. He moved to third on a ground out. He then scored on another ground out. That put the Red Sox up 1-0. Tommy John then allowed two singles, but he got out of the rest of the inning unscathed.
5th Inning – Tommy John walked the first batter, but then got a double play. Yaz then came up and reached on an error by second baseman Larry Brown. A single followed, but Tommy John then struck out the next batter to end the frame.
In the top of the 6th, the Indians scored to tie the game at 1-1.
6th Inning – Tommy John retired the side in order.
7th Inning – Tommy John allowed a two-out single, but no other damage.
In the top of the 8th, the Indians scored again to take a 2-1 lead!!!
8th Inning – (Sit back, this gets messy, but I am going to try to keep it simple.)
Dick Stuart singled. A pinch runner then came in.
Frank Malzone bunted to get the lead runner to second base. He reached base on a Fielder’s Choice. (There’s now runners on first and second and no outs.)
Lee Thomas then reached on an error to load the bases.
Eddie Bressound then grounds into a double play, with the first out recorded at home. (Score this 5-2-3.) There are now two outs with runners on second and third.
Bob Tillman is intentionally walked.
Dick Williams strikes out.
All of that and the score remains 2-1. The Indians are winning!
In their half of the ninth, the Indians, again, don’t score.
9th Inning – Life just isn’t fair…
Chuck Schilling grounds out. (Just two outs to go…)
Felix Mantilla singles
Carl Yaztrzemski flies out. (Just one out to go…)
Russ Nixon comes up to pinch hit for pitcher Dick Radatz.
Russ Nixon hits a walk-off two-run homer.
The Red Sox win 3-2.
With any luck, except the bad kind, Tommy John could have (and should have) won this game.
I am going to award him the victory here and grant him his 292nd career win.
Previous Articles In This Series:
Should Tommy John Be in the Hall-of-Fame?
Getting Tommy John to 300… #289
Getting Tommy John to 300… #290
Getting Tommy John to 300… #291
All game information came from Baseball-Reference. (I do love that site.)