clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Long-Forgotten or Never-Remembered Moments in Washington Baseball History, Volume I (7/19/59)

It's time for another feature that doesn't require considerable thought on my behalf. This is so much easier than devoting 3,000 words to Carlos Baerga!

The purpose of this feature is to relive the not-so-famous moments in DC baseball history---those moments that are forgotten because they were somewhat painful at the time or were never remembered in the first place because they amounted to nothing. This series is in a way dedicated to the two Nats bloggers with a definite grasp of DC baseball history, Ron and Farid. In particular, it gives me a well-deserved opportunity to plug Ron's blog, Nats Nation, which is substantially devoted to the old teams, personalities, and players of the past. It's worth a look.

First up is a July 19, 1959 match-up versus the dreadful Kansas City Athletics (who actually had a decent year, for them, going 66-88). This was the first game of a doubleheader, and the Senators cruised to a 7-0 victory in a cool two hours and twenty-two minutes behind the five-hit mastery of Camilo Pascual, who went the distance to improve his record to 11-7.

Pascual, who also went one-for-two at the plate, with two walks and two runs scored, had a fabulous season in 1959, his first of many good years. Pascual ended the season 17-10, with a 2.64 ERA. Three years after surrendering 33 homers in 188.2 innings pitched, Pascual became especially tough to tater, allowing only 10 big flies in 238.2 innings. What is more, Pascual hit .302 on the campaign, showing his July 19 performance wasn't any more of a fluke than his entire season at the plate; for his career, the righty was a .205 hitter.

On July 19, Pascual and K.C. starter Johnny Kucks (who, like almost the entire A's roster, was a once or future Yankee) engaged in a tight pitchers' duel for the first six frames. Scattering seven Senators' hits, Kucks entered the bottom of the seventh down by a single run. However, with two outs, Pascual walked. A Ken Aspromonte double advanced Pascual to third, and another double by Lenny Green (three-for-four, with two doubles, a walk, and four runs batted in) chased both runners home. Kucks was done after the seventh, and the Senators plated four more men in the home half of the eight against Rip Coleman and Murry Dickson.

It was a banner start to the day for the home team, who improved to 43-46 on the season and momentarily gained a game on both the Indians and White Sox (both of whom lost openers of twin-bills), lurking only seven games behind. In addition to the heroics by Pascual and Green, the victory was a team effort, as well: every starter but (wouldn't you know it?) Harmon Killebrew reached base. Aspromonte and Bob Allison had two hits apiece, the latter smacking his twenty-four homer on his way to a Rookie of the Year campaign.

However, although the team last reached .500 at 17-17, this game essentially represented the high-water mark of the season for the '59 Senators. With the victory, they reached three under break-even with almost sixty percent of the schedule complete; however, the team ended up twenty-eight games below .500, three games worse than the A's, at 63-91.

When did things go so terribly wrong?

You're looking at it.

In the second game on July 19, the Senators blew 3-0 and 5-3 leads, falling 6-5 in ten innings. The crushing loss was following by seventeen more---consecutively. Washington broke up the streak for one day (one-half of one actually; they split a twin-bill with the Indians, taking the nightcap) and then proceeded to lose four more in a row.

During this stretch, the Senators went 1-22. They fell from 43-46 to 44-68, and their deficit in the American League grew from seven games to twenty-four.

Bang-zoom? Not so much.