Another Episode of How the Game Has Changed

Jerry Koosman ... 20-game winner for the Mets and the Twins.

Jerry Koosman … 20-game winner for the Mets and the Twins.

On this date (September 12) in 1969, the Mets – on their way to a World Series title – were in Pittsburgh for a doubleheader against the Pirates. Both games ended 1-0 in favor of the New Yorkers – and in both contests, the winning pitcher also drove in the only run.

In Game One, the Mets’ Jerry Koosman went the distance, giving up just three hits and three walks, while fanning four. He also drove in the winning (and only) tally with a single to right field off Pirates’ starter Bob Moose in the top of the fifth inning. It was Koosman’s fourteenth win of the season (versus nine losses).

In Game Two, the Mets’ Don Cardwell picked up his seventh win (versus nine losses), giving up just four hits over eight innings, while walking one and fanning three. (Tug McGraw pitched the ninth for his 12th save.) In the top of the second, Cardwell drove in the game’s only run with a single to left-center off Pirates’ starter Dock Ellis.

Now, you still see the occasional doubleheader, shutout and pitchers’ game-winning RBI (that final occurence more often in the NL, of course).  However, this game did cause me to reflect on “how the game has changed” over the years.  (Also, it gave me a chance to feature a Minnesota “favorite son,” Jerry Koosman – a career 222-game winner, who starred for the Mets and also was a 20-game winner for the Twins.) Here are just a few observations spurred by the anniversary of the New York/Pittsburgh double-dip.  Special note:  These are just observations, not judgements.

  • It was a doubleheader. (Don’t see many of those anymore.)

In 1969, MLB teams played 176 doubleheaders. Thus far, in 2017, there have been 29 doubleheaders (mostly split). Side note: The White Sox played a record 44 doubleheaders in 1943 and the Boston Braves played a record nine consecutive doubleheaders between September 4 and September 15, 1928 (18 games in 12 days). 

USED TO LOVE THOSE SUNDAY DOUBLE HEADERS

I always loved those Sunday two-for-one doubleheaders.  Of the 176 doubleheaders in 1969, 71 were Sunday twin bills. Over the course of the 1969 season, there were only three Sundays that didn’t feature at least one MLB doubleheader.

  • Total playing time for the TWO 1969 games was four hours and 21 minutes.

The QUICKEST two MLB games from yesterday (September 11) took a combined 5 hours and 37 minutes.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

In 1969, the average MLB game took 2 hours and 32 minutes.  In 2017 (through September 11), the average is 3 hours and 9 minutes.

  • The Mets and Pirates used a total of seven pitchers (and remember no DH) in that 1969 double-dip.

THE MORE THE MERRIER?

In 1969, fans could expect to see an average of 5.2 pitchers per game (both teams).  In 2017 (through September 11), that average is about three pitchers higher (8.3).

  • The starting pitchers in the Mets/Pirates twin bill were on the mound for 33 of the 36 innings.
  • The two winning pitchers fanned just seven batters in 17 innings. (The losing hurlers – Dock Ellis and Bob Moose – fanned 21 in 16 frames.

FANNNING FOR THE FANS?

In 1969, a fan could expect to see an average of 11.6 strikeouts per game (both teams).  In 2017 (as of September 11), that average is up to 16.7.

  • Jerry Koosman’s complete game shutout in the first game of the DH was his 13th complete game of the season – and his fourth complete-game shutout.

Koosman ended the season with 16 complete games and six shutouts and finished tied for ninth in the NL in compete games (Bob Gibson led with 28) and tied for fourth in shutouts (Juan Marichal led with eight). This season, as of  September 11, Erwin Santana of the Twins leads all of MLB in complete games with five and shutouts with three. Only Santana and Corey Kluber have more than two complete games and only Santana, Kluber and the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez have more than one shutout.

  • There were, of course, no home runs in the doubleheader.

FANS DIG THE LONG BALL?

In 1969, MLB teams averaged approximately 1.6 home runs per game (both teams).  In 2017 (as of September 11) that average is 2.5. While that is only about one extra long ball per game, it is an increase of 57.5 percent.  

Again, just observations, no judgements.  Plus, a chance for younger fans to get a feel for how the game has changed over the years.

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Member: Society y for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

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