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Colavito ... for the win!
2008-07-07 07:10
by Bob Timmermann

The sad tale of Jamie Burke taking the loss for the Mariners Sunday made me interested in looking up why another position player got a win. And that was Rocky Colavito of the Yankees back on August 25, 1968.

To set the scene, the Tigers and Yankees were set to play a four-game series at Yankee Stadium starting on Friday, August 23 with a twi-night doubleheader.

The Yankees won the opener 2-1 with a complete game from Stan Bahnsen, but the second game ended in a 3-3 tie after 19 innings. The AL had a 1:00 am curfew in place at the time and, apparently, the rule was written so that games tied at the time would be declared over and not suspended. The Yankees used five pitchers in the second game, with reliever Lindy McDaniel going seven innings. John Hiller pitched 9 innings of shutout relief for the Tigers.

The Yankees and Tigers had a day game on Saturday, so the makeup game was pushed to Sunday. The Yankees won the Saturday game, 2-1, with a complete game outing from Mel Stottlemyre, handing Denny McLain just his 5th loss against 25 wins.

When the Sunday doubleheader came around, Yankees manager Ralph Hour, according to the New York Times, warned Colavito, who was just about through as a player, that he might have to pitch as he though that the bullpen was tired. Remember that in 1968, teams rarely carried more than 10 pitchers on the staff.

Steve Barber got the start for the Yankees, but the Tigers touched him for five runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. Colavito was summoned from the pen and he pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, giving up just one hit, a double to Al Kaline. The Times describes Colavito as throwing "mainly overhand fastballs."

The Yankees scored five times in the sixth, aided by a 3-run homer from Bill Robinson, to take a 6-5 lead and Dooley Womack relieved Colavito in the 7th and McDaniel closed out the game in the 8th and 9th.

In the nightcap, Colavito started in right field, batted fifth, and homered off of Mickey Lolich as the Yankees completed their sweep of the Tigers with a 5-4 win.

After the Tigers left, the Angels came into town for a four game series played over two days with a pair of doubleheaders, which the Yankees split. The Yankees then had a doubleheader on August 30, and four more in September, but were able to take advantage of the roster expansion, so Colavito's pitching career was over.

2008-07-07 08:38:09
1.   Travis08
"Pinstriped Summers" by Dick Lally devotes several pages to the Colavito win, it being a rare highlight for the late 60's Yankees.
2008-07-07 08:41:05
2.   Bob Timmermann
He probably spent more than the 10 minutes I did this morning researching this and writing it up.

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