The Finals Continue! California vs. Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Early Wynn probably has been the pitching star of the entire tournament. He won Alabama’s clinchers against Louisiana and Indiana; neither team could quite handle his intense pitching style. Satchel Paige said, “That kid Wynn is our secret weapon. He’s just plain mean.”
But there’s another mean pitcher in this tournament who built a reputation for the way he would pitch inside: California’s Don Drysdale.
There’s a story my friend Mike Shannon wrote in his book, Tales from the Dugout, that goes like this: St. Louis’ Gene Oliver once hit a long home run off Drysdale, and while the ball was in the air Oliver shouted out: “Hey bat boy, come get the bat.”
The next time up, yep, Drysdale drilled Oliver in the ribs. While he was on the ground being attended to, Drysdale yelled out: “Hey bat boy, come get Oliver.”
So, yes, everybody was anticipating a lot of ducking and diving out of the way in Game 3 when Drysdale and Wynn matched up.
Instead, it turned into a game of opportunities and, even more, missed opportunities. California scored first when Gary Carter singled in Ted Williams. California added a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth on Nolan Arenado’s two-run homer.
But then Alabama started beating up on Drysdale, scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning. In all, Alabama would get 14 hits off Drysdale. But … missed chance after missed chance sealed their fate. They went only four for 17 with runners in scoring position. In the eighth inning, down three runs, Alabama loaded the bases and Willie Mays ripped a single to right, scoring one run. With Henry Aaron and Willie McCovey coming up next, it seemed like this might be the key moment.
But Double Duty Radcliffe, who was on second, ran through the coach’s stop sign and tried to score on Mays’ single. The throw from Tony Gwynn, California’s rightfielder, was not particularly strong, but it was right on line, and Carter slapped on the tag, getting Double Duty and ending the threat.
“Look, I’m going to play aggressively,” Double Duty told reporters after the game. “I mean, what, I died 17 years ago. What do I have to lose?”
Drysdale pitched around a McCovey double in the ninth to give California a two-games-to one lead.