All Body Parts Are Connected

Injuries to one part of the body generally cause weakness to another.  This can be either in a specific organ or to the body as a whole.  The human body has all parts interconnected.   As an impressionable 13 year old,  I realized this in the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.   This involved a great pitcher and a third string catcher who was in only 22 games. This catcher was great on defense but an automatic out when he came to the plate.

In 1960 Vernon Law had a 20-9 record; received the Cy Young award; started the 1960 All Star Game;  pitched three perfect innings; and was the winning pitcher.  His year in 1960, together with an 18-9 mark in 1959, firmly established Law as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  Pittsburgh had  two four game losing streaks in 1960.  On both occasions,  it was Law who snapped them.  He made sure that losing did not mean a collapse.

The catcher, Bob Oldis, had a value that went beyond measurement.  He was the court jester who kept the team loose.  A prankster with a purpose, Oldis wanted the team to win as much as any other player.  At same time,  he knew that  players  seldom perform well tightly tying themselves in knots.  Some tension is desirable as teams compete to win games.  The Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960 won the World Series 4 games to 3.  That year Bob Oldis, through the strength of his personality, help loosen tension whenever it was required.


However, at year end Bob Oldis let his antics get out of hand.  On the next to last weekend of the season, the Pirates lost to the Milwaukee Braves.  This was on a Sunday,  the last game of a three game set.  On the same day, the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field defeated the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched first place in the National League.

There was a wild and raucous time on the airplane from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh.  The the team really cut loose. Vernon was an ordained minister of the Mormon Church.  While  never pompous or self righteous, Law was not given to any wild celebrations.  Nevertheless, Bob Oldis did not let Law alone.  He foolishly grabbed Law’s foot and twisted his legs, back, and arms. Law started three games in the World Series, winning two and going six innings in the final game.  Law favored his left leg while pitching.  This put undo pressure on his right arm.  Vernon  tore and pulled his muscles.  The right arm though was the key.

Vernon was in and out of the pitching rotation over the next four years.  He was a courageous and determined athlete.   Late in 1964, Law began showing flashes of brilliance that reminded older fans of his Cy Young year in 1960.  Everything finally paid off in the streaky season of 1965.   He won the Comeback of the Year Award despite some early problems.  Lost the first five decisions 0-5; won eight in a row 8-5;  lost four in a row 8-9; won nine in a row 17-9.

That was a up and down but still great season.  It reminded me of an electrocardiogram.   His season showed his efforts over the years over really paid off.  Nevertheless,  that airplane injury may have cost him a place the The Baseball Hall of Fame.





Need Steelers Game at New York Giants in 1964

A while back I was looking for two victories in 1964 that were big in the history of Pittsburgh Steelers. Both games were on the road.  I have the first one.

Game 5  With the Cleveland Browns that the Steelers  won 23 to 7.  John Henry Johnson carried 30 times for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 33, 45, and 4 yards.   This was the biggest games in this HOF player’s careers; it was a then Steeler record; and the season’s best performance.  Clarence Peaks also carried 21 times for 97 yards.  Quarterback Ed Brown completed 9 of 11 passes for 126 yards, without a touchdown or interception.

Game 11 With the New York Giants that the Steelers won 44 to 17.  Once again the big three rose up with help from receiver Gary Ballman.  This was Buddy Parker’s highest point total in his eight years as the Steelers’ coach.  At that time, it was the third highest score in team history.  John Henry Johnson gained 106 yards in 25 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of ten and two yards.  Charence Peaks carried 15 times for 97 yards and caught  41 yard pass.

Ed Brown, playing only three quarters, went 10 for 13 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. When he left the score was 37 to 3. Gary Ballman caught five passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.  Reserve Quarterback Tommy Wade fired a 78 yard touchdown pass to Dick Hoak.  However, the Steelers went in motion negating the play.  The Steeler had to punt.  A bad snap to punter Ed Holler flew into the End Zone.  Erich Barnes, a great special teams player, recovered it for a touchdown.