This day in baseball history

On Tuesday, September 25, 1962, the outcome of a pair of close games ensured that the National League pennant race would come down to the final games of the season. Heading into the previous weekend, this didn’t seem very likely. The Los Angeles Dodgers held a 4 game lead over the San Francisco Giants with just 9 games remaining. But the Dodgers dropped two of three games in St. Louis, while the Giants took two of three in Houston.

Following a day off to return home, the two West Coast teams swapped opponents. This seemed like a good deal for the Dodgers — the expansion Houston Colt 45s (yes, there once was a team name after a firearm) were playing .400 baseball, while the Cardinals were better than .500.

The Tuesday series opener in Los Angeles featured two mean-as-can-be right handers, Don Drysdale for LA and Dick “Turk” Farrell for Houston. Farrell was trying to avoid his 20th loss of the season, while Drysdale had already won 25. But the Turk’s ERA of 3.10 nearly matched that of Double D (2.91).

Both pitchers were on their game this night, and after six innings the game was tied 1-1. Leading off the top of the seventh, light-hitting shortstop J.C. Hartman bunted his way on to first base. Farrell failed to bunt Hartman too second, but with two out, Al Spangler tripled Hartman home.

The Dodgers matched Houston’s run in the bottom of seventh on singles by Tommy Davis and Frank Howard, and a sacrifice fly by Johnny Roseboro. Then, with two out and a runner on first, manager Walter Alston opted to pinch hit for Drysdale (a good hitting pitcher). Duke Snider flied out to end the inning.

Alston replaced Drysdale with Ron Perranoski, a top reliever. Perranoski set down the Colt-45s in the eighth and ninth innings, but the Dodgers couldn’t break through against Farrell.

With two out in the bottom of the ninth, LA had Roseboro on second base and pinch-hitter Tim Harkness at the plate. Houston manager Harry Craft elected to walk Harkness intentionally. Alston countered by sending Wally Moon up to pinch hit for Perranoski. Harkness and Moon basically were .250 hitters at this point in their careers, but most managers probably would have feared the veteran Moon more than the rookie Harkness. Moon, however, flied out.

The Dodgers brought on Ed Roebuck to pitch the 10th. The veteran reliever was enjoying a fine season. His record stood at 10-0.

But Spangler homered with one out to give Houston a 3-2 lead, which Farrell preserved without great difficulty in the bottom of the inning. Roebuck had his first loss of the season and Farrell his tenth victory.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, the Cardinals had taken an early 1-0 lead over the Giants. But San Francisco came back with two runs in the sixth and one each in the seventh and eighth to go up 4-1. Jack Sanford held on in the ninth to gain his 23rd win of the season, 4-2.

The Giants now were only 2 games behind LA with 5 left to play.

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