This article was written by Mark Miller
After they swept the Cincinnati Reds in a two-game, mid-July series in Los Angeles, the first-place and eventual 1965 world champion Dodgers’ season turned to the Dog Days of August in hot and humid Cincinnati versus the third-place Reds. The Ohio Rhinelanders were reeling, having begun the month losing five of seven home games including a three-game series sweep by the San Francisco Giants including an 18-7 loss to the Giants in the Thursday night series finale. Also, on Wednesday, August 4, came the retirement announcement from the beloved, iconic Reds radio broadcaster and Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt.
The Reds’ prospects for success versus the Dodgers were not be enhanced as Reds superstar outfielder Frank Robinson began serving a two-game suspension in the series opener for his participation in a very heated 10-minute argument at home plate on August 5 with umpire Doug Harvey. Harvey had called strike two and three on Robinson while he outside the batter’s box. Both Robinson and Reds Manager Dick Sisler were ejected from the game and Robinson also received the additional two-game suspension. This would weaken a potent Reds line-up, remnants of the 1961 National League Champions which at season’s end would enter the pre-Big Red Machine era with the controversial trade of Robinson to Baltimore and the emergence of future “Hit King” Pete Rose as their leader.
The teams split the first two games. In the Sunday, August 8, third game, two of baseball’s hardest-throwing right-handers, the Reds’ Jim Maloney and longtime Dodger stalwart Don Drysdale were the starting pitchers. Maloney was in the middle of a 20-9 season in which he pitched two 10-inning no-hit performances. Drysdale, a Cy Young Award winner, was in the midst of accumulating a 23-12 record. Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax rated Maloney as consistently the hardest thrower in the National League. Along with Maloney, Koufax’s Big Four Buzz Bombers were the Pirates’ Bob Veale, the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson and Drysdale.1 But the season had not started well for the Reds’ all-time strikeout leader. “In Spring Training the Reds were bitterly disappointed in the fire-balling youngster who had won 23 games in 1963,” reported The Sporting News. “He was pummeled from pillar to post in Florida. Manager Dick Sisler demoted Jim from the starting rotation to the bullpen.”2 The Dodgers were confident, because Maloney had given up five runs in one of the two July LA contests. Now they squared off on a sunny day with a game-time temperature of 80 degrees in what should have been a low-scoring pitcher’s battle. The 28,335 spectators at Crosley Field were hoping for some good news, because they were reeling from the previous week’s news about their beloved announcer, Waite Hoyt, and the losing streak.
The outcome did include a four-hit shutout but it was anything but a pitcher’s battle. The third-place Reds, at 61-49, were attempting to cut into the lead of the first-place Dodgers (65-47). The Reds’ starting lineup was augmented by the return of Robinson. It also included Rose, hitting .321 and experiencing his first .300 season while also leading the league in hits (142) on August 8 as well as and running second to teammate Tommy Harper (91) in runs scored. (Harper ended the season leading the league in runs with 126 but Willie Mays moved past Rose for second with 118.) Batting sixth in the lineup was the National League’s RBI leader to date, Deron Johnson (87), who eventually paced the NL with 130 runs batted in.
The first inning was a barometer of how the day would go for both starters. In the top of the first, three Dodgers switch-hitters (Maury Wills, Jim Gilliam, and Jim Lefebvre) went out in order. Maloney was getting used to these quick innings; a little over a month before, on June 14, he had thrown 10 no-hit innings against the Mets. Speedy Harper forced the 6-foot-5 Drysdale to try to field a bunt but a base hit was the outcome. Rose followed with a line-drive double past center fielder Lou Johnson, scoring Harper. An unsettled Drysdale gave up a walk, shortstop Wills committed an error, Johnson hit a sacrifice fly, and Johnny Edwards doubled to create a four-run first for the Reds.
Maloney made quick work of the Dodgers in the second, again retiring them in order. Drysdale went back to the mound in the second and got Maloney to fly out. Harper found out the hard way why few hitters bunted on the tenacious Dodgers hurler, taking a pitch in the back to reach first. Vada Pinson and Gordie Coleman hit safely and two more runs scored Drysdale struck out Robinson to end the inning and end his pitching for the day.
Wes Parker got the Dodgers’ first hit, a triple to right field to lead off the third, but was stranded when Maloney got two popups and a groundout to end the inning. The solid-hitting Drysdale batted for himself, but was replaced by southpaw reliever Jim Brewer to start the third. In his major-league career, Drysdale batted as high as sixth in the lineup and was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter. He was the only .300 hitter in the lineup for the 1965 World Series champion Dodgers. The two-inning stint was Drysdale’s shortest non-injury start of the 1965 season, in which he pitched 308⅓ innings, Of the six runs he allowed only three were earned.
The Reds scored again in the third with singles by Leo Cardenas, Maloney, and Harper (who reached base for the third time in three innings). At the end of three, the score was Reds 7, Dodgers 0.
The Dodgers threatened with a two-out rally in the fourth, a walk to Johnson and a single by Ron Fairly, only to be thwarted when Maloney fanned Don LeJohn. LeJohn was the only hitter who forced Maloney to bear down in the game.
The game proceeded in much the same fashion: The Reds amassed 18 runs on 20 hits against five Dodgers hurlers (Nick Willhite, Jack Purdin, and Mike Kekich followed Brewer). Meanwhile Maloney held the Dodgers to only two more hits over the final five innings. Every player in the Reds’ starting lineup had at least two hits except Maloney,who had one; Harper, Cardenas, and Gordy Coleman had three each. Harper, Rose, and Vada Pinson homered. The club scored runs in every inning except the fourth and seventh, and scored five times in both the fifth and eighth.
As of 2017 the 18-0 final score is the most lopsided shutout victory in Reds modern club history. Maloney pitched a complete-game four-hitter for his 13th victory of the season. when asked about his arm, he replied, “My arm didn’t bother me at all,” as he headed to the showers.3 Drysdale’s record fell to 15-10.
Reds manager Dick Sisler was pleased with the outcome, calling it “a real laugher, one where you can relax on the bench. It was just one of those things. It happened to us the other night and it will happen some time to any club.”4
Dodgers manager Walt Alston was philosophical about the drubbing. “At least we didn’t waste runs,” he said. “We played bad ball, but I would rather that all this happened in one game. A team could lose three or four games if it were spread out. They don’t count in the final results any more than an ordinary loss. It’s just the loss of one game.”5
Despite the big victory, the Reds fell into a tied with the Milwaukee Braves, who swept a doubleheader aginst the Houston Astros. With the loss, the first-place Dodgers’ lead over the San Francisco Giants fell to one game.
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 cited in the Notes, the author also consulted underground.com, baseball.reference.com. and the Cincinnati Reds 2016 Media Guide. The author also attended the game.
1The Sporting News, August 28, 1965: 30.
3Springfield (Ohio) News, August 8, 1965: 23.