Clearly a believer in the Mark Twain adage of “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story,” Bob Gibson told a terrific tale about the indignity of having Cardinals teammate Dal Maxvill pinch-hit for him. Problem is, it never happened.
Toward the end of an interview published in the March 11, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gibson was asked by Rick Hummel, “Worst experience in baseball?”
The Hall of Fame pitcher responded by spinning a story about the time manager Red Schoendienst called upon Maxvill, the light-hitting shortstop, to bat for Gibson.
“My worst experience in baseball was when Red had Maxvill pinch-hit for me,” Gibson said. “I was so mad. I sat on the bench and Maxie swung and missed a couple of pitches and then he popped up. I walked past Red and said, ‘Don’t ever do that again.’ I took a shower and went home.”
Either Gibson, a noted prankster, was playing a gag on Hummel, or the passage of time clouded the memory of the 81-year-old Cardinals legend.
Don’t blame Dal
The facts: Maxvill was not a successful pinch-hitter, but he never batted for Gibson in either a regular-season or postseason game.
Maxvill made 12 plate appearances as a big-league pinch-hitter, according to the reliable Web site retrosheet.org. He was 0-for-11, with a walk.
Gibson didn’t pitch in any of the 12 games Maxvill appeared as a pinch-hitter.
Maxvill made six pinch-hit appearances _ three in 1962 and three in 1963 _ when Johnny Keane was Cardinals manager. He made two pinch-hit appearances with the 1972 Athletics under manager Dick Williams.
Only four of his 12 pinch-hit appearances took place for the Cardinals when Schoendienst was manager. He had one in 1965, two in 1971 and one with the 1972 Cardinals before he was traded to the Athletics.
No Gibson sub
The four times Schoendienst sent Maxvill to pinch-hit resulted in:
_ Reached on an error as pinch-hitter for pitcher Ray Washburn on June 16, 1965. Boxscore
_ Grounded out to shortstop as pinch-hitter for pitcher Bob Chlupsa on June 4, 1971. Boxscore
_ Walked intentionally as pinch-hitter for pitcher Moe Drabowsky on June 8, 1971. Boxscore
_ Struck out as pinch-hitter for injured shortstop Dwain Anderson on Aug. 15, 1972. Boxscore
Only once did Maxvill pop out as a Cardinals pinch-hitter. That took place in his major-league debut on June 10, 1962, when Maxvill, batting for pitcher Bobby Shantz, hit a pop-up to Giants pitcher Billy O’Dell. Boxscore
This scenario fits
Perhaps Gibson was confusing Maxvill with Dick Schofield.
In 1968, Schofield was Maxvill’s backup at shortstop. Schofield, a .227 career hitter, batted .220 for the 1968 Cardinals.
On April 20, 1968, Schoendienst sent Schofield to bat for Gibson in the ninth inning.
Schofield popped out to third.
Gibson couldn’t have been happy. The Cubs won, 5-1, making Gibson winless in three starts. The Cardinals scored a total of seven runs in those three games.
Though he made 11 pinch-hit appearances for the 1968 Cardinals, Schofield never would bat for Gibson again.
Gibson would go on to have his most magnificent season in 1968, producing a 1.12 ERA and 28 complete games in 34 starts for the National League champions.
Gibson in a pinch
Maxvill has a career .217 batting average; Gibson, .206.
Gibson was more successful than Maxvill as a pinch-hitter.
In 14 career pinch-hit appearances for the Cardinals, Gibson produced three hits, two walks and a sacrifice bunt.
In 13 of those pinch-hit appearances, Gibson batted for a pitcher.
The exception was on May 27, 1966, when Gibson was Schoendienst’s choice to be a pinch-hitter for left fielder Bobby Tolan. Batting with a runner on third, one out and the Cardinals trailing by a run against the Reds, Gibson struck out against reliever Billy McCool. Boxscore