Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jack Kralick & The First Twins No-Hitter, August 26, 1962

This post is the companion piece to "1962 Camera Day." It is one of my more enjoyable posts personally, and I hope you can take something away from it as well!
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Here is my favorite photo from the whole endeavor: a picture and a piece from The Sporting News, detailing Jack Kralick's 1-0 no-hitter versus the Kansas City Athletics:

 


The entire Sporting News Story of "Jittery" Jack's gem can be found in PDF form here in page one and here in page 2. Make sure you read the bottom of page one, to view the description of the Allison catch to save the no-hitter. Below is his line as seen at BBReference:


Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF GSc IR IS WPA aLI RE24
Jack Kralick, W (10-8) 9 0 0 0 1 3 0 4.02 28 89 0.736 1.22 4.6
Team Totals 9 0 0 0 1 3 0 0.00 28 89 0.736 1.22 4.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/4/2013.

Some box scores (see the August 26, 1962 near-perfect game link) flow so well that they give you a good sense of the game's rhythm. Dare I say it - this game is very eye-catching in print (or on the screen, as it were) - not as pretty as say, 1960's pin up favorites Mamie Van Doren or Brigitte Bardot, but still damn pretty in the numeric, aesthetic sense. You might not believe me, especially if you clinked on the last two links, but I'm thinking ground ball hound Tommy John when I view the innings that must have flown by frustratingly quick for the Athletics batters. We all get our kicks in different manners.

The economy and effectiveness of Jack Kralick's performance are apparent - a very worthy and signature performance for the Minnesota Twins first no-hitter in Minnesota. The time of game was a 1:57, and as Kralick and Kansas City starter Bill Fischer were tossing so many 1-2-3 innings, it had to be a challenge for the stations broadcasting the contest to fit in their ads and promos. Damn!! Not enough time to advert the Thunderbird Motel, right across the parking lot on Cedar Avenue!! 

Playing into the rapid pace of this game was the fact that the K.C. batters were actually swinging away, typical of 1960's hitters - this was over  thirty years before money ball, after all. In their average lineup in '62, only Norm Siebern demonstrated above-average plate discipline, earning 110 walks; the next-highest total, 54, belonged to Ed Charles (who would go on to achieve cult hero status with the Amazin' Mets in 1969.

It was Charles who nearly ended the no-hit bid in the fourth inning,with his opposite-field drive that forced Bob Allison to reach above the right field fence in front of the bullpen (description, PDF page one above). There went the one, serious threat.

Besides Allison, also important to Kralick's success was having, quite possibly, the best defensive first baseman in modern baseball history backing him, Vic Power. As opposed to shortstop Zoilo Versalles, who was credited with handling the baseball ONCE, on a fourth inning 6-3 groundout by Bobby Del Greco (just preceding Charles's threatening flyball), Power was involved in plays resulting in 17 of the 27 outs in the ballgame. This was spectacularly achieving the goal the Twins management had in mind to stabilize the Twins infield by trading for Power (discussed in the post "A Maestro At First: Trading For Vic Power, April 2, 1962"). See the chart below for the full rundown:

[BELOW] Plays involving Twins first baseman Power,
 inning play occurred, fielder designated on 
play (pitcher 1, catcher 2, etc.)

Groundout-unassistedthird out-1st inn
Groundout: 1-3second out-2nd inn
Groundout: 1-3third out-2nd inn
Groundout: 5-3first out-3rd inn
Groundout: 4-3third out-3rd inn
Groundout: 6-3first out-4th inn
Groundout:3-1third out-4th inn
Groundout: 4-3second out-5th inn
Groundout: 3-1third out-5th inn
Foul fly: unassistedsecond out-6th inn
Groundout: 5-3first out-7th inn
Groundout: 1-3third out-7th inn
Groundout: 4-3first out-8th inn
Groundout: 1-3third out-8th inn
Groundout: 4-3first out-9th inn
Foul fly: unassistedsecond out-9th inn
Foul fly: unassistedthird out-9th inn


                                                                          
It was obvious to both Battey and Kralick that he didn't have control of his curveball early in the contest, as seen in the Winona Daily News PDF. My pet theory is that Kralick focused much better, bereft of his "yellow hammer," so that he was even more on point spotting his sinking fastball and slider. Of course, none of this would have meant anything without Lenny Green's sacrifice fly, driving home Bernie Allen in the 7th inning.





As noted in the previous post "'62 Twins Camera Day," Kralick had been absent from the fan photo-taking activities, pregame. In keeping with his "lone wolf" persona...



This game somewhat parallels the Francisco Liriano no-hitter on May 3, 2011:  the same score, & each were thought to be either sub-par or VERY sub-par in their performance of late prior to their classics. 



Hope you enjoyed this look at the first great pitching performance in Minnesota Twins history!!

As the great broadcaster ended his post-game shows, I also say:

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