This Day in Baseball History: May 31st, 1965

This switch-hitter is just as surprised as I was.

On May 31, 1965:

An all switch-hitting infield starts for the Dodgers.

What an oddity. It’s normal to have one switch-hitter. It’s advantageous to have two switch-hitters in the lineup. But it’s just weird to have four switch-hitters and for all of them to play in the infield. At first base and in his second season, Wes Parker could take a walk but little else offensively while playing Gold Glove-caliber (he won 6 in his career) defense. At second base and in his rookie season, Jim Lefebvre was on his way to a Rookie of the Year Award even though he really wasn’t a whole lot better than Parker (he just did it at second). At short and in his seventh season, Maury Wills would steal 94 bases on his way to a third-place showing in the MVP voting. Finally, at third base and in his penultimate season, Jim Gilliam put together one of his finest seasons, but he would only play in 111 games.

Facing the Los Angeles Dodgers all-switch-hitting infield would be the Cincinnati Reds. Even with the supposed added difficulty of having to face such a task, Joey Jay would turn in a sparkling performance. Jay went 9 innings and struck out 8 while giving up 1 run on 3 hits, taming the Dodgers. Wes Parker would drive in the Dodgers’ only run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Otherwise, it was all Reds in the 6-1 beating. Frank Robinson, Deron Johnson, and Jimmie Coker (born exactly 52 years before me) would be the main contributors offensively.

However, the Dodgers would gain the upper hand for the season. They went on to finish first in the National League and win the World Series 4-3 over the Minnesota Twins. Though Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were roughed up the first time around in Games 1 and 2, they rallied, and Koufax threw two complete-game shuouts in four days to take the World Series MVP. He would only give up 7 hits and 11 baserunners total. Parker and Wills had the best series offensively with Jim Lefebvre doing fairly well, too.

Trivia Time
Who had more wins that season, Koufax or Drysdale?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Harry Hooper for the Boston Red Sox in 1913. Eighty years later, Ricky Henderson would be the second.

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