Jim Ray Hart had a prominent role in contributing to Bob Gibson’s worst start with the Cardinals, an outing so outlandishly poor that the pitcher was booed by the home crowd.
Hart, batting cleanup, had two key hits in the Giants’ 11-run first inning against the Cardinals on June 29, 1967, at St. Louis.
Nine of those runs, all earned, were charged to Gibson. Those are the most earned runs yielded in a game by Gibson in his Hall of Fame career.
The first eight batters Gibson faced reached base _ seven hits and a walk _ and the Giants led 7-0 before Gibson recorded an out. He was lifted before the Giants completed the inning.
In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson called the outing “possibly the worst start of my life.”
In a Giants lineup that featured Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, no one did more damage that Thursday night than Hart, who drove in four runs in the opening inning with a single and a home run.
The story is recalled here in tribute to Hart, 74, who died May 19, 2016. In 12 years (1963-74) with the Giants and Yankees, Hart, a third baseman and outfielder, batted .278 and produced 1,052 hits. He led the Giants in hits in each of three consecutive seasons (1965-67).
The Giants began a four-game series with the first-place Cardinals on June 26, 1967, at St. Louis. The Cardinals won the opener, beating right-hander Gaylord Perry and dropping the fifth-place Giants 8.5 games behind the frontrunners.
The Giants, behind left-handed starters Mike McCormick and Ray Sadecki, won the second and third games. McCormick and Sadecki combined to limit the Cardinals to one run in 18 innings.
The series finale was scheduled to be a matchup of right-handed aces, Gibson for the Cardinals and Juan Marichal for the Giants.
However, based on the performances of McCormick and Sadecki, Giants manager Herman Franks decided to start another left-hander against the Cardinals.
Franks replaced Marichal with Joe Gibbon, a left-hander who had started and won against the Cardinals two weeks earlier, on June 17, at San Francisco. Gibbon had pitched in relief vs. the Cardinals on June 26 in the series opener at St. Louis.
All of the maneuverings were for naught. Gibson and Gibbon, similar in name, had similar results: Both were ineffective.
The first two Giants batters, Jim Davenport and Tom Haller, each singled.
Willie Mays also singled, scoring Davenport and advancing Haller to second base.
Next up was Hart. He hit a line drive to left for a single, scoring Haller. Lou Brock, the left fielder, bobbled the ball, enabling Mays to score on the error and giving the Giants a 3-0 lead. Hart, credited with one RBI, reached second on the play.
With first base open, Gibson issued an intentional walk to Willie McCovey.
The next batter, Ollie Brown, singled, scoring Hart and putting the Giants ahead, 4-0. McCovey advanced to third.
Hal Lanier, the shortstop and son of former Cardinals pitcher Max Lanier, was up next.
Lanier, batting .202, tripled, scoring McCovey and Brown and increasing the Giants’ lead to 6-0.
The eighth batter, Tito Fuentes, singled, driving in Lanier and making the score 7-0.
Gibson struck out Gibbon and got Davenport to pop out to second.
When Gibson walked the next batter, Haller, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst replaced him with Nelson Briles.
In the book “El Birdos,” author Doug Feldmann wrote that as Gibson departed “he was booed voraciously by the Busch Stadium crowd. Upon receiving the unfriendly goodbye from the home folks, Gibson tauntingly flung his cap in the air, which only increased the volume of the derision.”
Hammer from Hart
The first batter Briles faced was Mays, who singled, scoring Fuentes, advancing Haller to second and boosting the Giants’ lead to 8-0.
Hart, using a bat borrowed from Lanier, capped the outburst by hitting a three-run home run into the left-field bleachers, making the score 11-0.
The final line on Gibson: 0.2 innings, 9 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks.
Given a huge lead, Gibbon couldn’t taken advantage.
Brock led off the Cardinals’ half of the first with a triple. Julian Javier singled, scoring Brock. Curt Flood singled, moving Javier to third.
Orlando Cepeda delivered the Cardinals’ fourth consecutive hit, a single that scored Javier, moved Flood to third and made the score 11-2.
So much for using a left-hander.
Franks removed Gibbon, who failed to record an out, and replaced him with Bobby Bolin. The right-hander did the job. He got Mike Shannon to ground into a double play and Tim McCarver to fly out, ending the inning.
Bolin pitched nine innings of relief and got the win in a 12-4 Giants triumph. Boxscore
“So, a right-hander finally won one,” Giants pitching coach Larry Jansen said to the Oakland Tribune.
Beware of Bob
Gibson had entered the game with a 3.01 ERA and exited it with a 3.68 ERA.
“This, of course, put me in the mood to take it out on somebody and the opportunity quickly presented itself against the Reds,” Gibson said.
Facing the Reds in his next start, July 3, 1967, at St. Louis, Gibson struck out 12 in 7.2 innings, gave up 3 runs (2 earned), took part in a brawl and got the win in a 7-3 Cardinals victory. Boxscore.
Previously: Cardinals, Reds stage star-studded brawl in 1967
Previously: Jim Davenport delivered against Cardinals aces