The Dominican Dandy was one of the premier pitchers in the National League during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. An intimidating right-hander, he was known for his high leg kick, wide assortment of pitches and impeccable control. He made his debut with the San Francisco Giants in 1960 with a one hit, twelve strikeout, shutout against the Phillies, and for the next decade and a half he was one of the greatest hurlers in the game. Although, he was usually overshadowed by the likes of Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson (probably due to his lack of postseason exposure), he won more games during the 1960’s than any other pitcher. He was a six-time 20 game winner, and won 25 or more three times. He was consistently among the league leaders in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, and complete games. In 1963, he pitched a no-hitter against the Houston Colt .45s, and was also involved in what may have been “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched”, when he dueled fellow Hall of Famer Warren Spahn for 16 scoreless innings, finally winning when Willie Mays hit a home run off of Spahn for a 1-0 Giant victory. His illustrious 16-year Hall of Fame career with the Giants (1960-73), Boston Red Sox (1974) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1975) included a 243-142 record, 2.89 ERA, 2303 strikeouts, 3507 innings pitched, 244 complete games, .631 Winning Pct., and 52 shutouts. He was a member of 9 National League All-Star teams, and won the Mid-Summer Classic MVP Award in 1965. He was a member of the Giants 1962 NL pennant winning squad. The Giants retired his #27 in 1975, and honored him with a statue outside of AT&T Park in 2005. He was elected by the BBWAA to Cooperstown in 1983.
July 22, 2011