September 13, 2017
One Entire Season of Baseball From the 1960s (Part 3)
(Note: Last year, I wrote "One Entire Season of Baseball From the 1970s," reviewing the 1971 season. My goal is to repeat the exercise every summer, selecting a different decade. We'll present the 1960s version Monday through Thursday this week, five teams at a time, introducing each team with salient figures from their season. Monday's entry is here and Tuesday's entry is here.)
The 1965 Awards and Postseason: The 1965 MVPs were San Francisco’s Willie Mays, who topped Sandy Koufax in the National League, and Minnesota’s Zoilo Versalles, who finished ahead of teammate Tony Oliva in the American League. There was just one Cy Young award until 1967, and Koufax won it unanimously. The Dodgers’ Jim Lefebvre and Baltimore’s Curt Blefary were Rookies of the Year, easily. Mickey Mantle won the Hutch Award, Pittsburgh’s Vern Law the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, and Koufax the Babe Ruth Award, to name three awards you probably didn’t know about that exist to this day. There have been years in which the voters pretty clearly screwed up the voting for the major awards; 1965 was not one of them.
The Dodgers won the 1965 World Series, 4-3. Minnesota won the first two games at home, 8-2 and 5-1. The Dodgers won their three games at Dodger Stadium by a combined 18-2. The Twins took the sixth game, 5-1, to tie the series. In the seventh game, Koufax allowed three hits and three walks, striking out 10, in pitching a shutout to win 2-0. Koufax didn’t pitch in the first game of the series, which conflicted with Yom Kippur. (Koufax pitched the next day, giving up two runs in six innings in a 5-1 Dodger loss, but pitched shutouts in Games 5 and 7.) Don Drysdale started the first game in his place, and allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, prompting him to supposedly say to manager Walter Alston after the game, “Hey, skip, bet you wish I was Jewish today too.”
The American League Second Division
10. Kansas City Athletics, 59-103: 378. A’s relievers made 378 appearances in 1965, by far the most in the majors. Washington was second with 327. (Frame of reference: Every team this year has used more than 400.)
You might assume that Kansas City had poor starting pitchers, and you’d be right. Red Sox starters allowed the most runs per start in the league, 4.88, but the A’s were second at 4.66. A’s starters allowed the highest ERA, 4.30; allowed the highest DRA, 5.30; pitched the fewest innings per start, 5.5; had the fewest quality starts, 74; had the lowest average Game Score, 49; bequeathed by far the most runners, 271; got the fewest strikeouts, 13.3 percent of batters faced; and allowed the highest OPS, .744.