Boston Red Sox Pitcher Bob Heffner Shut Out 1964 Yankees For Baby Daughter!

Face of a Yankee tamer!

Pitcher Bob Heffner found two reasons to celebrate on Aug. 21, 1964.

Before a grateful Fenway Park Crowd of 28,830, Heffner tamed the rival New York Yankees. It wasn’t an ordinary win, nor was it an average day. As Heffner wrote…

“My 6-hit shutout over the Yankees in 1964 was on my baby daughter’s first birthday. The rivalry between the new York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in 1964 was just as intense as it is today.”

(Thanks for the details,!)

Heffner’s first celebration as a Red Sox came in 1963. He remembered:

“I learned I got my first start in the major leagues when I arrived in Boston from the AAA Seattle Rainiers club. My father flew in from Allentown and we celebrated after the win with a cold beer.”

That same year, Heffner became only the second major league pitcher ever to record three putouts in an inning. What does Heffner recall of that history from June 28, 1963?

“Regarding my record three putouts in one inning in 1963, all the balls were hit toward the first baseman. In spring training, we were always told to cover first base.”

Baseball fundamentals make history? Stranger things have happened.

Coming Monday: a moment with Yankee pitcher Johnny Kucks.

Yankee Bobby Brown, the real ‘Doc’ Graham?

Before there was a Field of Dreams and a “Doc” Graham, there was Bobby Brown.

DOCTOR Bobby Brown.

The character who gave up baseball to serve others? The real-life Yankee did such a thing.

He walked away from the game to continue his medical career, with “if only…” being a regular refrain from Yankees fans. In an eloquent response, Brown wrote:

“I only played two months after being discharged from the Army — May and June. I retired June 30, 1954, to begin my residency in internal medicine. When I returned to the Yankees, I had not really played any baseball for two years. I was just starting to get my hitting stroke when I retired.”

He left with credentials any player would be proud of:

Five-Time World Champion
Yogi Berra’s roommate

More than a teammate, Brown knew the man behind the myth. I asked him what the smartest thing was that Yogi ever said or did, on the field or off. What reporter would bother quoting Berra sounding un-Yogi-like?
Brown noted:

“Yogi’s brain has always worked extremely well. When you study his statements, they always make good sense.”

Lastly, I wondered if Brown knew what a potent bat he wielded in his abbreviated career. I found that future Hall of Famer Early Wynn was haunted by Brown: 12 hits (2 homers) and seven walks. I thought Brown was entitled to a bit of bragging. Nothing doing!

“I was unaware that I hit very well against Early Wynn. He was a tough pitcher and it was always a struggle when he pitched against us.”

Enjoy these well-chosen words about Brown from some devout Yankees fans at Bronx Baseball Daily!

Tomorrow: Billy Moran documents the “many ups and downs” of his career.

Jake Gibbs Remembers Yankees Teammate Thurman Munson

Catcher Jake Gibbs is a Yankee fascination. He chose baseball over football, spurred by a signing bonus topping $100,000. A star quarterback, he belongs to the College Football Hall of Fame. Giving even more back to Mississippi collegiate tradition, he coached Ole Miss baseball for 19 seasons.

He wore the Yankee pinstripes from 1962-71. Gibbs answered three questions with a kind hand-written response:

Q: What pressure did you feel after signing such a huge deal to play for the Yankees?

“A: I wasn’t the first bonus baby by the Yankees. Frank Leja. It wasn’t a big deal. I just went out and tried to play good baseball.”

(This is in contrast to Gibbs’ 1969 Topps card cartoon, which read: “The Yankees paid Jake a huge bonus to forget about football.” I told him the card read like a James Bond plot.)

Q: I can imagine some of the hard hits you endured as a quarterback. What were some of the toughest collisions you faced at home plate with the Yankees?

“A: I had many. I blocked the plate one night in KC, the old park, and got run over about the time I was catching the ball. Really popped my neck. The trainers rubbed me for two hours the next day. It was your job to protect the plate.”

Q: What were your first impressions of Thurman Munson?

“A: Thurman and I played together two years. We worked together very well. I tried to help him knowing the pitching staff. He was a great hitter with a real quick release to second base.

“We became good friends. I still think about him.”

Yankees Reliever Bob Kuzava: The FIRST White Rat

Bob Kuzava pitched just four years for the Yankees. The Brooklyn Dodgers must have thought the lefty would be there haunting them for decades.

The reliever earned seventh-game World Series game saves in 1951 AND 1952, guaranteeing the Yanks consecutive championships. Teammates called Kuzava “Sarge,” out of respect for the position he rose to during three years of military service during World War II.

That wasn’t Kuzava’s only nickname. He wrote:

“John Pesky hit a slow ground back to me, and instead of swearing at me, he said, “You White Rat!” It broke up both benches.”

(Years later, Pesky would encounter a rookie named Dorrell Everett Herzog. Thinking he looked like Kuzava, Pesky loaned “The White Rat” nickname. Soon, Herzog was named “Whitey,” on his way to a Hall of Fame managerial career.)

“Sarge” found immediate success in the majors after the war ended. He added:

“I was 3 years in the Army, and no baseball. Too hot in India and Burma. Was happy at New York and think I did a good job for them.

Yours in baseball,
Bob Kuzava, New York Yankees, 1951-54″

Kuzava’s relief artistry has been apppreciated beyond the realm of Yankees fans. In 2003, he was enshrined in the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.

Joe McCarthy Thanked Me

Joe McCarthy, manager of seven New York Yankees World Champion teams, earned his Hall of Fame membership in 1957.

He earned my fandom shortly before his death in 1978 at age 90.

Dear Tom, Thanks so much for your very nice letter. Joe McCarthy

When he returned my autograph request with a bonus, I knew that he’d been signing fan mail for decades. Nevertheless, I felt like an all-star.

Our letters do get read — and appreciated. A batting average keeps track
of hits, not outs. Savor your hits in this hobby, learn from your misses, and you’ll be destined for a Hall of Fame collecting career.

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