Baseball Memories – Thank You “Uncle” Barney
As I sit and watch the Cubs in the baseball play-offs memories arose of some magical years in my life. I was born in 1951 and I have vague memories of the 1957 or 58 World Series my mother was rooting for the Braves over the Yankees. The first time I really remember watching the games was 1960 when the Pirates beat the Yankees in a seven game series, which ended on a Bill Mazeroski homer. I remember getting home from school just in time to see the homer!
1961 – Barney Gets the Call!
The following year 1961 was also a big year for me.. In that year, my mother’s first cousin Barney Schultz was called up to pitch for the Chicago Cubs. Barney was a knuckleball relief pitcher. He languished for most of his career in the minor leagues. By the time he was called up in 1961 he was 34 years old! We went to several Phillies games that year. One of the times when my Uncle Kenny took me to an afternoon doubleheader, Barney collected a save in both of the games!! That feat was on the back of his baseball card the next year!
Another time because we were family, we got to go below the stands to the hallway outside of the visitors locker room. That night I got autographs from several Cubs players. At one point I walked up to a player who was standing by himself near the exit. I got his autograph, when I looked at it, I saw it was the hottest rookie in the league and the future savior of the Cubs- Ken Hubbs. The sad part of that story was that after the season in the league Hubbs died when private plane he was piloting from Provo, Utah to Colton, California crashed during a snowstorm. Topps issued the In Memoriam card below in 1964.
1964 – What a Year!
Speaking of 1964, now there was a season for a 13 year-old to remember! In Phillies history . In Phillies year that the year that Ruiz’s steal of home started the Phillies Plop that saw them blow a 61/2 game lead with 12 games to play. (1) But in my baseball history it is the year that “Uncle” Barney helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to the pennant! At 38 years-old Barney was a September call-up for the Redbirds. He appeared in 30 games and saved 14 of them. His ERA over those gamed was 1.64! His 14 saves placed him 5th best in the National League and the Cardinals in the World Series against the hated (at least by me) Yankees.
Barney Pitches to Mickey Mantle – Oh My!
Oh and it placed me in the left field bleachers in Yankee Stadium for game 3 of the Series. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning Cardinal manager Johnny Keane summoned Barney from the bullpen to replace started Curt Simmons. What I didn’t know at the time was what an aging Mickey Mantle told Yankees starter Jim Bouton. Bouton relates….
“He was standing there with the bat on his shoulder watching Barney Schultz. His warm-up pitches were coming in about thigh high and breaking down to the shin, to the ankles — two or three in a row. Mickey said, ‘I’m gonna hit one outta here.’ (2)
Catcher Tim McCarver recalls what happened next……
Mantle stood in. Schultz wound up. McCarver knew right away:
“Nothing good was gonna come of this pitch. There are a lotta pitches that don’t do anything during the course of a game. There are fastballs that aren’t fast. There are fastballs that are meant to hop in on a lefthander and they don’t hop. There are breaking balls that are meant to break and guys pop ’em up, foul ’em back, or pull ’em foul, or hit ’em for a single, or hit ’em for a home run. But nothing like this.”
The first pitch to Mantle, a knuckler, didn’t dance or flutter or defy expectation. It didn’t do anything at all. “It wasn’t thrown,” McCarver said. “It was dangled like bait to a big fish. Plus it lingered in that area that was down, and Mickey was a lethal low-ball hitter lefthanded. The pitch was so slow that it allowed him to turn on it and pull it.” (2)
And Mantle sent it sailing over the right field fence! It was Mantle’s record-breaking 16th World Series homer!
Schultz took one quick look over his shoulder and walked off the mound. “I crossed the third base foul line as he was rounding third base,” he recalled. “I didn’t even watch him run the bases. I wasn’t interested in that. I was interested in punching myself in the mouth.” (2)
It Was Still a Great Year!
The car ride back to our home in New Jersey was sad that day, for every but my Yankee loving cousin Jimmy Ashton!! However, the Cardinals went on to win the Series in 7 games, capping a pretty great 1964!
A year that also saw me go also go to my first and only All-Star game! In that game the Phillies’ Johnny Callison hit a walk-off homer to send the National League home winners!! We also went to the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows that year!
Also in 1962 and 1964 my Little League baseball team Hope Hose, in spite of me, won two league championships!! Great Times!!