By Jon Weisman
Along with everything else in a hot pennant race 50 years ago, a spitball controversy revved up between the Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves.
“Drysdale may call ’em sinkers, but I got three wet ones in a row when he fanned me in the third,” Hank Aaron told Frank Finch of the Times after a 4-3 victory Milwaukee victory August 4.
Aaron’s comments might have been calculated at least in part to take the spotlight off Braves manager Bobby Bragan, who was in the midst of a spitball controversy of his own.
“How long is NL president Warren Giles going to allow Bobby Bragan to flout authority by publicizing the fact that he has his pitchers under orders to throw spitters?” Finch had asked in print two days earlier. “To be sure, every club has spitball pitchers, but they don’t advertise.”
For his part, Bragan remained sanguine about the whole thing.
“If a pitcher can control the spitters, he’s crazy not to throw it,” Bragan told Finch. “Sure, we’ve got a couple of guys who throw it real good. Dan Osinski told a writer that he’s been using one for seven years.”
If you want to call it praise, Bragan added that Drysdale “throws the best spitter in the game,” according to Finch.
Whatever the case, it didn’t help Drysdale in Milwaukee that August 4. Allowing homers to both Aaron and Gene Oliver, Drysdale pitched an eight-inning complete game but took the loss.
Here’s what else was happening with the Dodgers, who were 1 1/2 games ahead in the National League on August 1 and 1 1/2 games ahead in the National League on August 15.