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Fifty years ago at the All-Star Game, Willie Mays (not Mike Trout) dominated from the plate, and Sandy Koufax (not Clayton Kershaw) had his struggles in his fifth consecutive All-Star year.
The difference: Koufax sneaked away with the victory.
As John Hall of the Times reported, when Koufax entered the game in the bottom of the sixth with the score tied, 5-5, his first seven pitches missed the strike zone. He needed to strike out Jimmie Hall with two on and two out to escape his only inning of work.
In the top of the seventh, Mays led off with a walk, went to third on a Hank Aaron single and scored the winning run on Ron Santo’s infield hit, all off “Sudden” Sam McDowell. That made Koufax the winning pitcher.
“Sandy looked a little sheepish when he was congratulated,” Hall wrote.
Koufax, however, was proud of one thing at the All-Star Break.
“You know what’s really great?” he told Hall. “So far this year, I haven’t missed a turn. Win or lose, I’ve been able to pitch every four days.”
This in a year that began with Koufax’s entire baseball future in doubt.
Like Trout, Mays — who was kindling in the Dodger-Giant rivalry that would boil over into the Juan Marichal-John Roseboro incident — started in center field, was the game’s first batter, homered to start the game and finished 1 for 3. Mays lost the vote for All-Star Most Valuable Player by a 46-45 vote to Marichal, who started the game with three shutout innings.
Bob Gibson stranded three runners in scoring position over the final two innings to get the save, striking out Joe Pepitone to end it.
The other two Dodgers in the 1965 All-Star game were Maury Wills (1 for 4) and Don Drysdale, who faced one batter, retiring Rocky Colavito.
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The All-Star Game came after an exceedingly tense week for the Dodgers. Having held sole possession of first place in the National League since May 5, this is what happened beginning on July 5:
- July 5: Reds 7, Dodgers 4 — Reds tied for first place.
- July 6: Dodgers 11, Reds 7 — Dodgers lead by one game.
- July 7: Reds 7, Dodgers 6 (Leo Cardenas walkoff homer in bottom of the ninth) — Reds tied for first place.
- July 8: Dodgers 9, Pirates 4 — Dodgers lead by half-game.
- July 9: Pirates 4, Dodgers 1 — Reds lead by 1/2 game.
- July 10: Dodgers 8, Pirates 4 — Dodgers lead by 1/2 game.
- July 11: Dodgers split doubleheader with Pirates, losing second game on 10th-inning walkoff homer by Pirates center fielder Manny Mota — Reds leading at All-Star Break by .003.
The Dodgers’ whopping 16-game roadtrip with a 7-9 record. They had a one-game lead on the Reds when the trip began.
While all this was going on, there was tension behind the scenes, as Frank Finch of the Times related:
Oops! Maury Wills and John Roseboro, roomies since ’59, have busted up — Roseboro, tired of listening to Wills hang on the phone for four hours at a stretch, packed his duds and moved in with Willie Davis. It happened in Cincinnati, and they haven’t spoken since. “It’s like a divorce,” said Wills. “Roseboro packed up and went home to mother.” “Maury is stubborn, and so am I,” said Roseboro, who snubbed Maury in a local jazz joint Thursday night. “I’m not speaking to him until he speaks to me first,” he added. “I’m not speaking to him until he speaks to me first,” said an equally obdurate Wills. Sounds like a spat between a couple of 4-year-olds.
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And even young love found some turbulence in July 1965. From Finch’s July 12 notebook:
“Mike Kekich, 20-year-old Dodger pitcher, tonight weds Miss Susan Tobias, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Tobias, in Downey, but he was so nervous Sunday he couldn’t remember the time or the place.”
Why is this significant? In 1973, Kekich and his then-Yankee teammate Fritz Patterson famously switched wives, though the exchange worked out better for Patterson than Kekich.
Two days after the 1965 wedding, the Times reported that Kekich and the 18-year-old Susan were injured when the motorbike they were riding collided with an automobile on their one-day honeymoon to Santa Barbara. She suffered a deep right leg laceration, he a severely briused hip. Kekich pitched in only three more games for the Dodgers that year.
Thankfully Maury didn’t take the banjo on the road!
I remember the Kekich/Patterson wife switch in ’73. Who of us fans, who were around at that time, especially those of us in New York, could ever forget it?
Don’t you mean “Sudden” Sam McDowell. “Sad” was Sam Jones.
D’oh – you’re right. Thanks.