More 15-Minutes of Baseball Fame!

 More 15-Minutes of Baseball Fame!

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 More 15-Minutes of Baseball Fame!

I could file this one into a number of different categories. Besides “15-Minutes of Baseball Fame,” it could also go into the file “Unusual Triple Plays,” or even “We’re Contacted by a Friend of a Former Major Leaguer.” I’ll let you be the judge…

As I’ve said many times, we feel anyone who made it to the majors is special, whether he was a star or a reserve, whether he had a long career or a just brief stop in the “Big Show.” Anyone who made it to the majors did something that 99.99% of the rest of us will never do; and so they’re special in our book. We’re always glad to shine the spotlight on them if even for a brief moment.

I’ve also said that if you look closely at any major leaguer’s career, you’ll find something interesting. That’s the case with today’s feature on Red Sox pitcher Pete Smith.

One of our readers, Jim Bishop, alerted me recently that his dad is good friends with former major league pitcher Pete Smith, who played briefly for the Red Sox in 1962 and ’63. The 6’2” 190 lb. right-handed native of Natick, Massachusetts appeared in only seven games in his career, starting just two. He went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA over 18.2 innings.

Ok…so he didn’t have a real glamorous career. But in his very last game in the majors, he was involved in a play I’m sure he still remembers. As I describe the play, our “senior” readers who are long-time Red Sox fans will recognize many of 1960s-era players involved.

On September 28, 1963, at Fenway Park against the Angels, Pete Smith entered in relief in the seventh inning of a game started by Bill Monboquette with the Angles leading 3-2.  “Mombo” had pitched the first five innings and was followed by Don Lee in the sixth. Smith pitched the seventh and eighth, and Dick Radatz the ninth.

Pete gave up a lead-off double to Charlie Drees, and then walked Lee Thomas. With runner on first and second and no outs, Felix Tores then attempted to advance the runners with a bunt in front of the plate. Smith sprang off the mound and fielded the ball cleanly. He threw it in time to third baseman Frank Malzone, who tagged out Drees. Malzone then rifled the ball to shortstop Eddie Bressoud covering second to double out Lee Thomas. Bressoud in turn pegged to second baseman Felix Mantilla covering first.  The Red Sox infield had just completed an unusual 1-5-6-4 “around-the-horn” triple play!

Pete Smith went on to pitch the eighth inning, getting two infield ground outs and a strike out. After this game, his major league career was over. What made this play so unusual was that he started the triple play on the very last ball he fielded in the major leagues! I doubt there are records kept on something like this, but I have to wonder if it has ever happened before or since.

The Red Sox rallied to win the game 4-3. It was played in 2:37 in front of a meager crowd of 2,282. Some other familiar names in the game for the Angels: Jim Fregosi, Bob Sadowski, and Albie Pearson; for the Red Sox: Gary Geiger, Carl Yaztszemski, Dick Stuart, Russ Nixon, and Dick Williams. Old guys like me will remember the umpiring crew: Red Flaherty, Bill Valentine, Cal Drummond, and Ed Hurley.

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Pete Smith Wikipedia page.

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I’m a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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