JUGS Sports | Newsletter 33 - Even-Hall-of-Famers-made-mistakes-Hank-Aaron

  • Even Hall-of-Famers made mistakes when they played. This unbelievable Hank Aaron story is true!

    HANK AARON cost Milwaukee Braves teammate Joe Adcock a circuit clout in one of the most famous games ever played when he was guilty of mistakenly leaving the base paths after Adcock hit an apparent game-winning home run.

    Facing Pittsburgh southpaw Harvey Haddix on May 26, 1959, Aaron and the rest of his mates were set down in order for 12 straight innings. But when the Pirates were also unable to score off Lew Burdette, Haddix was forced to take the hill again in the bottom of the thirteenth even though he had already retired a single-game record 36 consecutive batters. The Braves 37th batter, Felix Mantilla, led off the thirteenth by reaching first on a throwing error by Pirates third sacker Don Oak, thereupon ending the longest perfect game in history. After Eddie Mathews bunted Mantilla to second, Aaron was purposely passed to set up a possible inning-ending double play. But Braves first sacker Joe Adcock laced Haddix's second pitch to him over the left-field barrier in Milwaukee's County Stadium for what seemed a game-winning three-run homer. However, Aaron thought the ball had landed in front of the fence. He touched second base and then headed toward the dugout. Adcock, who missed seeing Aaron leave the base paths, was called out when he reached third base, and the final score, instead of being 3 & 0, was 1 & 0, as only Mantilla's run counted. Haddix finished the night with a 13-inning one-hit loss and Adcock with the Braves' lone hit, though a double instead of a home run.

    Fortunately, Aaron touched second base before he deserted the base paths. If there had been two outs at the time and Aaron had left the field without touching second, he would have been called out at that base for the third out, neither Adcock's hit nor Mantilla's run would have counted, the game might still be in progress.

    editor's noteThe above story comes from The Rules of Baseball, a $17.00 gem that Phil Rizzato says is "must reading for all, including the players!" Call Just Books at 1-800-874-4568 to order your copy. The author is David Nemee, a highly respected and prolific baseball writer and historian of the game.