Fifty Years Ago: Eleven Walks, Eight Hits, No Runs
Hall of Fame Catcher Thurman Munson Helped Preserve The 11 Walk Shutout
Two singles and two walks in the first inning certainly seemed to portend a bad day for the Yankees, but somehow right handed Mel Stottlemeyer got out of the initial frame unscathed. He would give up two more singles and another walk a few innings later, yet once again he was able to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
All in all the right rope act lasted all the way to ninth, as Stottlemeyer walked eleven and surrendered eight hits. However, at the end of that game from exactly fifty years ago, he had blanked the Washington hitters.
By doing so, Stottlemeyer became the first pitcher in baseball history to allow nineteen baserunners without any of them scoring. He recorded the unlikely 2-0 victory, even coming just two outs shy of going the distance.
So how could you possibly issue eleven walks and eight hits, yet keep your opponent from getting even a single run? Another mystery regarding that may 21 day fifty years ago may even be more difficult to answer, which is how did a game with so many baserunners manage to last just over two hours?
As might be expected, he benefited from two double plays by the Senators, one from Paul Casanova and the other from Mike Epstein. Another runner, centerfielder Ed Stroud, was gunned down by catcher Thurman Munson on an attempt to steal second.
In a more unusual manner the Senators lost another runner, when Bernie Allen was erased after being hit by a grounder from Aurelio Rodriquez. That incident accounted for not only a lost base runner, but also one the Washington hits.
Those plays, along with a dose of good fortune, help explain how Stottlemeyer maintained a shutout in spite of his generosity. As for the short duration of the game, though, there is an easy answer.
Fifty years ago baseball was much more fast paced, especially compared to the standard marathons that are the average contests of today's version of the sport. Neither the Yankees nor the Senators made a pitching change until the ninth inning, whereas a typical game today suffers an average of nine pitchers being used.
Washington's current team, the Nationals, played a 2-0 game last August against their geographic rival. The Orioles and Nationals combined to have eleven baserunners, fewer than half of the sum in the 1970 Stottlemeyer start, yet the game took just short of three hours to complete.
Baseball has definitely regressed from back then, when fans could enjoy the excitement of two dozen base runners during a game that lasted just 120 minutes.