Harvey Haddix still my winner

Jun 9, 2009 5:07 PM
Getting Rich with Saber by Richard Saber |

It was 50 years ago that we saw possibly the greatest pitched baseball game of all time.

A little lefthander called "The Kitten" pitched a perfect game for 12 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the then Milwaukee Braves with the likes of Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Adcock, Del Crandall and Wes Covington.

Imagine 12 perfect innings against hitters like these! There has been a lot written about this game on its 50th anniversary, but I was there. Not in person, but lying in bed with my dad "Broadway Bennie" listening to the game on the radio. He had a little bet going on the Pirates that night having loved Harvey Haddix, who was a farm boy from Ohio.

You will never see or hear a game like this the rest of your life. Now there are pitch counts, middle relievers and closers who can come in and lose the game for you. But, on that stormy windy night it was all Harvey.

It was ironic that he just happened to be pitching against Lew Burdette, who had maybe the best spitter in baseball and everyone knew he threw it. Harvey’s first win in the majors came against Burdette in 1952 when they were the Boston Braves.

It was a very windy night and my dad was very unhappy when Bob Prince the Pirates announcer said shortstop Dick Groat and the great right fielder Roberto Clemente would not be in the starting lineup.

As the game went on my dad said we could win if able to get just one run the way Harvey was going. It was the top of the seventh and the Pirates left fielder Bob Skinner, nicknamed "The Dog," hit one down the right field line. The Pirates radio announcer said it was gone, but the wind knocked it down and it was caught at the wall.

After that the entire game becomes fuzzy. It was the bottom of the 13th an error, a sacrifice and then a walk. Joe Adcock connected and hit it out of the park, but the game ended 1-0 as Hank Aaron thought the game was over and went to the dugout when the winning run scored. Adcock only got credit for a double.

After the game the umps said the score was 2-0, but the next day the league changed the final to 1-0. With no run lines in those days it was meaningless.

My dad saved his ticket for years but somehow it got lost along with my Clemente rookie card. What did not get lost is that memory from 1959 listening live to the greatest game ever being pitched in the majors.

I don’t remember where my mom and brother were that night. I think they had something going on at school certainly not as historical as this game. I just wish I had that ticket and a photo of Harvey walking off the mound. I would frame it forever.

A weird Belmont

The third leg of the Triple Crown is over and what a weird run race it was. Dunkirk completely changed his style and fired out for the lead. The speedy Charitable Man sat back in fourth place when he should have been on the front end or on the tail of Dunkirk.

We just missed hitting our Bird exacta by a neck and a long inquiry as Dunkirk drifted out and whacked Charitable Man, but the stewards let the result stand. The winner Summer Bird ran a super race under Hall Of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, winning despite being steadied on the first turn and again when inside on the backstretch.

Losing several positions, Desormeaux swung him to the outside for clear sailing and just mowed them down to win going away. Dunkirk and Mine That Bird battled it out for the place. Mine That Bird may have made his move a little early, but still put in a gutty effort.

I will be out looking for a future bet on Brother Bird, another sired by Birdstone. You never know, the birds just could fly again next year.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Richard Saber