The Woodstock Festival in upstate New York was still 10 days away, as baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves in la-la-land (Los Angeles, for the pedestrian). Dodger Stadium was in Chavez Ravine, named after Julian Chavez, a 19th-century guy from the Los Angeles area I guess. Oh, he was a councilman and no one knows what he did or didn’t do.
Any-hooo…..the Pirates are playing the Dodgers on an early August day, and this is the very first year of the new National League Divisions (East and West), so both teams feel they have a shot at winning their divisions.
Well, the game is going along and the Pirates are winning. Late in the game, the Dodgers make a pitching change. The new pitcher’s name is Alan Foster, and, well, Alan had a VERY strange game. His first batter faced is Richie Hebner, an off-season grave-digger in the Boston area. Hebner strikes out. Foster feels good.
The next batter is Willie Stargell, and Willie hits a homerun. Really hit it hard, and, as the crowd of 22,604 Dodger fans watch, the ball sails completely OUT of the STADIUM. Stargell rounds the bases as required, but those 22,604 people (or what was left of them) just witnessed something incredible.
After that, and some more like it, National League pitchers began to seriously dislike Mr. Stargell. Homeruns…well, they happen you know. A hanging slider, a slow-ish fastball, yeah it happens to the best of them. But this, THIS is utter humiliation.
This was August 5th, a Tuesday, in 1969.