The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers concluded a critical August four-game series with a scorcher. Playing on a Monday night before a crowd of 26,852, the Reds and Dodgers endured “the 93-degree heat which had simmered down from an even 100 at 3 p.m.”1 Frank Robinson’s 10th-inning walk-off grand slam was the shattering and deciding blow, lifting the defending National League champion Reds to a 7-3 win.
Both teams had hopes of postseason play, so every game counted. Cincinnati manager Fred Hutchinson handed the game ball to Bob Purkey, the ace of the Reds pitching staff, and he was opposed by Los Angeles hurler Stan Williams, who was seeking his 13th win of the season.
The Reds touched Williams in the first inning. Leo Cardenas led off with a double to right. He moved to third on a groundout by Marty Keough and scored on Vada Pinson’s sacrifice fly. The Dodgers answered in the third. With two outs, Wally Moon singled. Duke Snider smashed a ball to right. Cincinnati right fielder Robinson threw the ball to second base to try to get Snider, instead of throwing home, and Snider beat the tag. While this was happening, Moon raced around the bases for a score.
With the scored still tied in the top of the sixth inning, Willie Davis hit Purkey’s first offering “into the rightfield moon deck”2 for his 18th home run of the season. Tommy Davis followed with his 20th homer, “a line drive that just missed the centerfield corner of the scoreboard.”3 Purkey survived the two Davis blows and shut the Dodgers down for the rest of the game. However, his Reds were still trailing, 3-1.
In the Cincinnati seventh Gene Freese singled with two outs. Don Zimmer lined a double high off the left-field fence, bringing Freese around to score. Two innings later, down by a run, the Reds started their magic. Ron Perranoski was pitching for the Dodgers, having entered the game in the eighth inning. Robinson led off with a single to right. Wally Post, pinch-hitting for Gordy Coleman, bunted Robinson to second. When pinch-hitter Hank Foiles grounded out to third base, the Reds were down to their last out. Freese came through with his second two-out single of the game, and Robinson crossed the plate with the tying run, forcing extra innings.
Los Angeles put two men on base in the top of the 10th, but could not capitalize, as Purkey worked out of the jam. It was the Reds’ turn. Dodgers manager Walter Alston called on Larry Sherry to pitch. Reds skipper Hutchinson countered by inserting Jerry Lynch to bat for Purkey leading off the inning. Lynch singled to right and Joe Gaines ran for him. Cardenas bunted and was safe at first. Keough grounded to second baseman Jim Gilliam, who forced Cardenas at second. With runners at the corners and one out, Pinson was walked so that right-hander Sherry would face Robinson, a right-handed batter. The intentional walk loaded the bases for Robinson. The Cincinnati slugger made up for his earlier throwing miscue when he sent a Sherry pitch a long way to snatch the victory for the Reds. Tommy Davis, the Dodgers left fielder, “took one quick flight at the ball, which sped some 400 feet over the leftfield screen, and then took off for the clubhouse.”4 Game over. 7-3 Reds.
Robinson, Cincinnati’s cleanup hitter, did just that: He cleaned the bases by driving a 1-and-2 fastball over the 50-foot-high screen atop the left-field wall for his 33rd home run and third grand slam of the season. (It was the fourth grand slam of his career.) The Reds had been involved in 18 walk-off games, winning 11. The Dodgers finished the season with a 10-5 walk-off record. Robinson’s line for the game was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and four driven in. Cardenas and Freese each contributed two hits. This was only the second game of the season for Freese (his first start), who had suffered a broken right ankle during spring training.5
Purkey pitched 10 innings and earned a complete-game victory, his 19th win of the season.6 This victory was Purkey’s third straight over the Dodgers. He kept throwing the Los Angeles batters a steady diet of knuckleballs.7 Purkey said before the game, “We can win the pennant because we can beat the Dodgers – and they know it.”8 Purkey, elected to both 1962 All-Star Games, was as good as his word. He scattered 11 hits (seven singles) over 10 innings, struck out six, and walked one.
For Los Angeles, Williams pitched well enough to win, giving up five hits and two walks, allowing two runs through seven innings. He tried to help his cause when he singled in the seventh. This would count as a quality start, but the game still ended as a Dodgers loss. Perranoski blew the save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. Sherry faced five men in the 10th, retiring only one.
Willie Davis had a 4-for-5 evening, and he finished a triple shy of the cycle. Snider and Maury Wills each had two hits. Wills, who had been named the Most Valuable Player in the first All Star Game the month before,9 swiped two bases in the game, his 66th and 67th steals of the season. This broke a 59-year-old record for most steals in a season by a Dodgers player.10 Wills went on to steal 104 bases in 1962, leading the National League in steals for the third consecutive season. (He continued to lead the NL through 1965.)
With the victory, “the comeback Reds kept their pennant hopes alive by downing the league-leading Dodgers, 7-3, before a cheering Crosley Field crowd.”11 The sudden and stunning defeat reduced the Dodgers’ lead in the National League to 5½ games over the Reds. Cincinnati started a six-game win streak with the walk-off victory, but could not get closer than three games behind the pennant leader. The Reds lost two out of three games the next week against the Dodgers, to split the season series at nine games each. They were 7-11 against the pennant-winning Giants. Meanwhile, the Dodgers floundered at 13-14 in September, allowing the Giants to catch them as the month expired. The final three-game series between San Francisco and Los Angeles determined the season, and the Giants won two of three, including a one-game playoff at home.
This article was published in “Cincinnati’s Crosley Field: A Gem in the Queen City” (SABR, 2018), edited by Gregory H. Wolf. To read more articles from this book at the SABR Games Project, click here.
In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, mlb.com, and retrosheet.org.
1 Frank Finch, “Robinson Slam Rips Dodgers,” Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1962: 37.
2 Lou Smith, “Robby’s Grand Slammer Buries LA, 7-3,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August, 21, 1962: 31.
5 “Grand Slam Tops Dodgers in Tenth,” New York Times, August 21, 1962: 39.
6 Purkey finished the 1962 season with a 23-5 record, with 18 complete games.
9 Two All-Star Games were played in 1962. In the first, on July 10 at DC Stadium, Wills was named the MVP after a 1-for-2 performance in which he stole a base and scored two runs. (He entered the game as a pinch-runner for Stan Musial in the sixth inning, stole second, and scored on Dick Groat’s single; he later singled to lead off the eighth inning, took third on a single by Jim Davenport, and scored on Felipe Alou’s foul-ball sacrifice fly.) The honor was originally named the Arch Ward Memorial Award, and 1962 was the first year a MVP was named in the All-Star Game.
10 Jimmy Sheckard had stolen 67 bases for the 1903 Brooklyn Dodgers, 59 years before Wills’s feat, to tie for the league lead with Frank Chance of the Chicago Cubs. Wills swiped his 68th base of the 1962 season three days later, August 23, against the Philadelphia Phillies.