The baseball fans of the Baseball Braves at Milwaukee County Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this day in 1959 demonstrated what true sports fans are about.
Baseball Drama At Its Finest----Happened at Milwaukee County Stadium this day in May, 1959 when Harvey Haddix "The Kitten" and Lew Burdette tangled in a pitchers duel which is truly a Game For The Ages.
Webster in his New Collegiate Dictionary defines the term drama in part as “a state, situation or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces”.
Baseball players dream of playing in a Game For The Ages to play out the drama not only for their “love of the game”, but to perform in such a manner to satisfy their own egos as well as to help win games for their teammates, the managers, owners and most importantly for their loyal fans. Drama unfolds daily in the game of baseball and it brings the loyal fans back for more whether it be in the stadium , watching on TV at home or the local sports bar or even fan’s ears tuned into the baseball station on their radio whether it be at home, in their auto or on their lawnmower with ear plugs inserted in their ears. Fans are the reason for the game and without the drama and action the game would most likely lose its luster as being “America’s Favorite Pastime.“
“Lest we not forget “ Baseball is a game filled with drama, action and suspense akin to many a story as presented on “ the silver screens of Hollywood“. Fans love the competition and rooting for their team and personal favorite players. The thrill of watching a game considered to be classed as a Game For The Ages like which happendat Milwaukee County Stadium the mementus day in 1959 is normally only a fantasy. That’s the way it is and the way it will always be. The fiercer the competition the better, as long as their team wins in the end. And it matters not to the loyal fans how long it takes to get the job done . As Yogi Berra, the great Yankee catcher and Hall of Fame inductee, once quipped “It ain’t over till it’s over”.
A Game For The Ages took place between the Milwaukee Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee County Stadium on May 26, 1959 before 19, 194 fans. Harvey Haddix for Pittsburgh and Lew Burdette of Milwaukee were on the mound this day. The two had a grueling pitching match that day which lasted until the bottom of the 13th inning when the Braves overcome Haddix and his Pirates to win by what appeared to be a score of 3-0.
As the record book goes Felix Mantilla reached first when Pittsburgh’s third baseman Don Hoak fielded Mantilla’s grounder, but made a wild pitch to first and Mantilla was on 1st by error. Eddie Mathews sacrifice bunt moved Mantilla to second base. Brave slugger and a future Hall of fame inductee Hank Aaron was intentionally walked thus putting players on 1st and 2nd with one man out. Up to the plate stepped Joe Adcock who had failed to get a hit in his first four attempts. But on his 5th attempt he caught a weak pitch from Haddix that was up and in the strike zone and hit the ball over the fence in right center for a home run and an apparent 3-0 victory for Milwaukee. Braves‘ fans in jubilation began to enjoy the victory. But, “Whoa Nellie” the game was still in a state of limbo as to the score.
Hank Aaron who was on 1st base thought that the ball didn’t go out of the park. When he saw Mantilla cross home plate for the supposedly winning run he headed for the Braves dugout. While Adcock ran right past him Aaron attempted in futility to retrace his steps. The following day the National League president Warren Giles ruled the official score to be 1-0 rather than 3-0 in favor of the Braves.
What a show this game was for the fans and the players this Game For The Ages and witness or to be a part of in this historical game. Ironically, Aaron’s blooper in his base running will not be the significant remembrance of the game this day at Milwaukee county Stadium.
This game was all about Harvey Haddix and the day he stole the hearts of Milwaukee fans at Milwaukee County Stadium if for only a little while. Harvey “Kitten” Haddix , a south paw, stood at only 5 foot 9 and weighed 170 pounds had a stellar pitching performance on this day. This day the “Kitten” was “A Roaring Lion” and he was in a sense eating the Braves batters alive with his pitching perfection. An amazing feat especially since the Brave starting lineup was loaded with great right handed hitters.
Being a south paw facing right handed hitters makes the pitchers job even more difficult as is commonly known when it comes to pitcher and hitter match ups. Haddix career had him playing on 4 different teams in the last 4 years. For the current season he was pitching a mediocre 12 wins and 12 losses. But today at Milwaukee County Stadium was Harvey’s day to have it all together.
Haddix threw a perfect game thru the regulation 9 innings. He extended his perfection thru the 11th inning. Never in baseball history had a pitcher pitched 11 perfect innings. Haddix began to noticeably tire in the 12th , but at the end of 12 innings he was still perfect. Valiantly Hadddix had pitched his heart out, but his teammates with 12 hits for the game had been unable to get any players across home plate.
Never before in baseball history had a pitcher who had pitched 9 perfect innings suffered a loss.
Now as the game progressed into the 13th inning Haddix enormous pitching achievement brought admiration and an unheard of support for an opponents pitcher to end the game in perfection. But, baseball is like that and that’s why the fans are so great .
Fans when they can see beyond a personal team victory. Cheering on another ball teams player who has the opportunity for greatness and fame by setting a record . A new benchmark record for other players to try and achieve. Opening the opportunity for another player to break the record in the future for another stadium full of fans. That’s the spirit of baseball.
Milwaukee County Stadium and the baseball fans of Milwaukee, Wisconsin proved to the world on this day they are the greatest of true sporting fans.
Haddix was unable to hang on to the perfect game and he and his team were beaten in the bottom of the 13th inning. Incidentally that may not have been the case if a single error had not been made by the third baseman’s errant throw to 1st base. . But by all accounts the preceding play by play description is the way the game went.
Personally, as a former baseball player, I am saddened at the thought that Haddix fought so gallantly , worked so hard and perfectly and still have to feel the agony and pain of defeat. "Baseball Justice and Baseball Injustice" could easily be the title of this writing.
The justice is that the Braves and their fans at Milwaukee County Stadium kept the spirit to win and finally found a way to beat this brilliant pitcher on May 26, 1959 after playing hard to win for 13 innings. The injustice is in that Haddix who probably pitched the greatest game in baseball history went down in defeat due to a single hit.
But, the game goes on. The pages of baseball history will be kind to Harvey Haddix. However, to my knowledge Harvey Haddix has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Maybe, there is some memorabilia for Haddix in “The Hall”, but if so I am not aware of that either. That to me is a terrible injustice to Haddix for whom many fans have proclaimed his pitching effort on May 26, 1959 to be “baseball’s best pitching, in a Game For The Ages, performance ever.“
On that day it probably was Harvey Haddix finest hours on the mound at Milwaukee County Stadium. But, I can only imagine the heartbreak, loneliness and disillusionment he must have felt in the locker room after the game. But, Harvey survived his disappointment and like a true champ he returned to the mound after his Game For The Ages and pitched many a game thereafter Great memories , great players and great games is what makes the game of baseball so great. It has been said “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
Harvey “The Kitten” Haddix was a winner on May 26, 1959 at Milwaukee County Stadium even though the final score doesn’t reflect it. It makes me as one who loves the game of baseball and who have witnessed a Game For The Ages want to jump up from my chair and yell “ At A Boy Harvey; Great Game“. Bailey Channell July 23,2006
My brother Bailey tells about baseball and it finest moments and great feats and surely with every telling every cloud his Game For The Ages has a silver lining. Sunshine and roses and the telling about our game of baseball.
Old Timers Baseball and the Game for the Ages as played in Milwaukee County Stadium and what happened there in 1959.
This game is well remembered by the boys of today's Old Timers Baseball and Baseballs Over The Hill Gang.
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