This article was written by David Krell
Wes Parker was the National League’s iron man in 1970, leading the senior circuit in games played (161). His offensive skills were alarming to NL pitching staffs: sixth-highest average (.319); leading the league in doubles (47). On May 7 the six-time Gold Glove Award winner, who got national television exposure in January with a guest spot as himself on The Brady Bunch,1 fully realized his batting savvy by hitting for the cycle against the New York Mets — the 1969 world champions used five pitchers against Parker and the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 10-inning, 7-4 loss. Parker batted in the winning run.
It was a validation for the stalwart first baseman. “I feel that this is the climax of a seven-year struggle to arrive as a major-league hitter,” he said. “I feel that tonight I took the final step.”2
The game was in the middle of a six-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York; Los Angeles went 5-1, sweeping the Phillies and winning of two of three at Shea Stadium.
Through six innings, Mets southpaw Ray Sadecki kept the Dodgers in check — two walks, six hits, three strikeouts, no runs. Parker notched three of his four hits leading off an inning: a double in the second, a home run in the seventh, and a single in the eighth. Billy Grabarkewitz followed the seventh-inning homer with a double, and that was the end of Sadecki’s afternoon.
Mets skipper Gil Hodges called on ace reliever Tug McGraw, who fared not much better. After pinch-hitter Manny Motaflied to right fielder Art Shamsky, Jeff Torborg doubled home Grabarkewitz. McGraw got the second out when Dodgers hurler Alan Foster hit a 5-3 groundout. But Maury Wills knocked a single to score Torborg and got a free pass to second base when McGraw balked.
With two outs, McGraw intentionally walked Ted Sizemore. Considering that Sizemore was a threat — he batted .306 in 1970 (in 96 games) — it would have made sense if the next batter weren’t equally dangerous. Willie Davis hit .305 that year with 93 RBIs and a major-league leading 16 triples. A Dodgers regular since 1961, Davis smacked one of his 23 doubles in 1970 off McGraw. Wills sped home. Sizemore went to third base.
Foster began the bottom of the seventh with Mike Jorgensen’s foul out to third baseman Grabarkewitz. Dodgers manager Walt Alston sent in Jim Brewer after Foster walked Joe Foy and Dyer. Donn Clendenon, the 1969 World Series MVP, pinch-hit for Dave Marshall and knocked a fly ball to Willie Davis for the second out. Brewer then struck out Tommie Agee, who went 1-for-4 in the game.
In the top of the eighth, Parker led off an inning for the third time, singling off Cal Koonce. But any hopes of a Dodgers rally were dashed quickly — Grabarkewitz flied out, followed by Mota forcing out Parker on a groundball and becoming the third out when he was thrown out trying to steal second base.
The Mets tied the game with a barrage of hits in the bottom of the eighth. Shortstop Bud Harrelson began the rally with a single. Cleon Jones smashed a lineout to right fielder Von Joshua. Shamsky sent Harrelson to third base with another single. With runners at the corners, Ken Boswell banged a single to score Harrelson; Shamsky advanced to second. Brewer loaded the bases with a walk to Ron Swoboda, pinch-hitting for Jorgensen.
Foy whiffed, so it was up to .209-hitting Duffy Dyer. The Mets got a break when Joshua — who had a .909 fielding percentage as a right fielder and a combined .917 for all three outfield positions in 1970 — made an error, his only one in right field for 1970, allowing Shamsky and Boswell to score and Dyer to get to first. Hodges sent in Al Weis to pinch-hit for Koonce, but Weis struck out looking to end the inning.
The score stayed tied 4-4 in the ninth inning. The Mets had a terrific opportunity in the 10th, when traditional leadoff hitter Agee was hit by a pitch and stole second base; the Mets outfielder stole 31 bases in ’70. Ray Lamb gave an intentional walk to Harrelson, presumably setting the probability of a double play, or at least cutting off Agee at third if the ball was hit in the infield. This was a tricky move because Jones, a .340 hitter in 1970, posed a highly significant risk to the Dodgers as they faced the heart of the Mets order. Jones’s outfield fly out gave Agee the opportunity to get to third. Lamb loaded the bases by intentionally walking Shamsky to face Boswell. The Mets second baseman batted .279 in 1970; the inning ended with him hitting into a 1-2-3 double play.
Parker got his fourth hit, a triple, to complete the cycle and became the game’s hero in the top of the 10th. It was one of his four triples that season and drove in two runs. The Dodgers’ sequence began when Harrelson’s error gave Sizemore first base. Davis got a bunt single; Sizemore stole third base — he had five acts of thievery in 1970. Joshua, who had a 1-to-3 strikeouts to games ratio (24 whiffs in 72 games), went down swinging.
Then Parker scored himself on Grabarkewitz’s sac fly. “I was just trying to hit the ball in the air for a sacrifice fly to get the lead run home,” said the first baseman. “When I saw it go over Agee’s head, I wasn’t going to stop for anything or anybody until I reached third base.”3
Mota drew a walk, but Torborg’s pop fly to second base finished the rally.
Lamb protected the 7-4 lead in the bottom of the 10th, sending Swoboda, Foy, and Dyer back to the bench with a strikeout, groundout, and strikeout.
Parker’s cycle was the first in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The previous was achieved by Gil Hodges in 1949 while the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.
The author used Baseball-Reference and retrosheet.org for box scores and play-by-play information:
1 The Brady Bunch, “The Undergraduate,” written by Sherwood Schwartz and David P. Harmon, directed by Oscar Rudolph, ABC, January 23, 1970.
2 Ross Newhan, “Parker Hits for Cycle as Dodgers Win in 10th,” Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1970: E1.
3 Associated Press, “Mets Bum Bets Without Big Tom,” Press and Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, New York), May 8, 1970: 16.