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Random Game Callback, August 20, 1946
2006-08-20 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

Nick Strincevich of Pittsburgh threw a four hit shutout as the last place Pirates routed the first place Brooklyn Dodgers, 10-0, before a crowd of 31,106 fans at Forbes Field.

Manager Frankie Frisch got a lot of work writing in the names of his starting pitchers in 1946. Besides Strincevich, the Pirates also had Fritz Ostermueller and Ken Heintzelman. Rip Sewell and Ed Bahr gave Frisch some relief in the handwriting department. Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher started Vic Lombardi, a 5'7" lefthander.

Lombardi wasn't around long. He retired just one batter and the Pirates scored three times off of him and then once more off of Hank Behrman. Behrman gave up three more runs in the fourth and left for Rex Barney. Barney and Ed Head would give up three more runs.

The Pirates picked up just 10 hits and only one home run, a 3-run shot by first baseman Elbie Fletcher in the fourth. Brooklyn pitchers combined to walk nine batters and the Dodgers also made two errors. The Dodgers managed just four singles off of Strincevich.

In the fifth inning, Durocher emptied his bench and put in little-used reserves like Bob Ramazzotti, Joe Tepsic, Dick Whitman, Gene Hermanski (a rookie in 1946), Stan Rojek, and Ferrell Anderson.

Brooklyn's lead in the NL was just 1/2 game over St. Louis and the two teams would jockey back and forth down the stretch and finish the season tied at 96-58, necessitating the first tiebreaker playoff in major league history. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers in two straight games to advance to the World Series.

1946 might be better remembered for other matters for both franchises. Prior to the 1946 season, Dodgers president Branch Rickey signed former UCLA multisport star Jackie Robinson to a contract and Robinson spent the 1946 playing for Montreal of the International League. Robinson would get called up to the Dodgers in the 1947 season.

The Pirates had off-field drama of a different kind. Robert Murphy, a Boston attorney, attempted to organize a union for baseball players called the American Baseball Guild. The Pirates voted 20-16 to go on strike before a game against the Giants in June, but a strike vote required a 2/3 vote. (By whose rules, I don't know.) Murphy was eventually able to force a vote by the Pirates players to see if they would accept the Guild as its collective bargaining agent, but on the same day as this game, the Pirates voted 15-3 against accepting the Guild. Numerous players obviously abstained. The momentum for unionization among the players was delayed. Murphy did succeed in getting the player spring training allowances increased and those payments are still referred to as "Murphy Money."

On the field, the Pirates stayed out of the cellar by two games with a 63-91 record, two games better than the New York Giants. Pirates rookie outfielder Ralph Kiner led the NL in home runs with 23. The National League hit just 562 home runs all of 1946. But in 1947, home runs went up to 886. Kiner would lead the NL in home runs in each of his first seven seasons, a mark unmatched in major league history. Babe Ruth's longest streak was six seasons.

Frisch would lose his job toward the end of the year and Spud Davis managed the last three games. Billy Herman took over as a player-manager in 1947 and he was gone at the end of the year too. Strincevich would pitch until 1948. The shutout this day over the Dodgers was the fourth and final one of his career.

Sources: New York Times,, Retrosheet

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