Ryczek: ‘United to liberate Cuba,’ July 28, 1963

From SABR member Bill Ryczek at The National Pastime Museum on December 28, 2015:

When I went to a Yankees-Tigers game in August 1962, it was exciting because it was the first Major League game I’d seen in person. My second game, on July 28, 1963, provided a different kind of excitement, along with a lesson in geopolitics. The Yankees were playing the Twins at Yankee Stadium and the opposing pitchers were two of the best in the American League: Whitey Ford of the Yankees and Camilo Pascual of the Twins. Both were in excellent form that year; Ford won 24 games while Pascual won 21 and led the league with 202 strikeouts.

Neither Ford nor Pascual was an overpowering pitcher. Whitey had an assortment of breaking pitches and a number of deliveries with erratic movement that many opponents attributed to a jagged wedding band, a sharpened strap on catcher Elston Howard’s shin guard, a dash of mud, or some other abrasive. Pascual’s best pitch was an overhand curveball that dropped precipitously as it reached home plate. Many called it the best curve in the American League.

Ford was a seasoned veteran, a star who had won the 1961 Cy Young Award and had been an outstanding World Series performer. Pascual had pitched in the Major Leagues since 1954, when he joined the Washington Senators as a 20-year-old rookie. In seven seasons with the Senators, he’d been 57–84 for some very bad teams. When the franchise moved to Minnesota for the 1961 season, it got better, and over the next four years Pascual won 71 games, including his first 20-win season in 1962.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/united-liberate-cuba-july-28-1963

Originally published: December 29, 2015. Last Updated: December 29, 2015.