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Saturday, August 5, 2017

In 1963 Yankee announcers accidentally reversed the identity of Cleveland starting pitchers Kralick and McDowell in a doubleheader.

I watched this doubleheader on TV, channel 11 WPIX in New York.

Yankee announcers in 1963: Mel Allen, Red Barber, Phil Rizzuto and Jerry Coleman. Coleman had just become a Yankee announcer in 1963. Both Rizzuto (1941-1942, 1946-1956) and Coleman (1949-1957) had played their entire baseball careers for the Yankees. Both Mel Allen and Red Barber were legendary baseball announcers. Rizzuto was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1994. Coleman called Yankee games for 7 years, Angels for 2, then Padres 1972-2014 when he died; Coleman was Padres manager in 1980 and did not announce that year.

Allen was the first person to receive Hall of Fame recognition as an announcer with the inaugural Ford C. Frick Award in 1978. Barber was second in 1979. Eventually even Coleman received the award in 2005, despite being known as the "Master of the Malaprop" for making sometimes embarrassing mistakes on the microphone. wikipedia

In the description below, there is no mention of Red Barber announcing that day.

Sunday, June 2, 1963
Venue: Cleveland Stadium
Game Duration: 1:53
Day Game, on grass
First game of doubleheader
Indians 5, Yankees 0
WP: Jack Kralick (4-5) • LP: Bill Stafford (2-4)
Kralick: 9 innings, 2 Hits, 1 BB, 4 SO

Start Time: 3:49 p.m. ET
Attendance: 27,557

Game Duration: 2:34
Second game of doubleheader
Indians 7, Yankees 2
WP: Sam McDowell (3-4) • LP: Stan Williams (2-2)
McDowell: 9 innings, 9 Hits, 1 BB, 4 SO

Despite their usual differences in BB and SO, both Kralick and McDowell turned in remarkably similar performances that day and were the only pitchers Cleveland used.

How about That!: The Life of Mel Allen
by Stephen Borelli, Page 194:

Mel thought Sam McDowell was pitching for the Indians as he worked the first game of a 1963 doubleheader in Cleveland. Jack Kralick, another lefthander, was actually on the mound. Indians manager Birdie Tebbetts had written McDowell's name on the lineup card he posted in the dugout before Game 1. After (Bill) Kane had relayed relayed that information to the broadcast booth, Tebbetts changed his mind. Around the third inning Kane realized that Kralick was pitching. Mel, who was calling the game on radio, and Rizzuto and Jerry Coleman, who worked it for television, had been telling their audiences the pitcher was McDowell, though Kralick was noticeably shorter and with much better control.

Kane ... needed a couple of innings to muster the courage to speak up. He mentioned the error to Rizzuto and Coleman, who both giggled. Then they got silent. Who was going to tell Mel? Rizzuto and Coleman certainly didn't want to, so they appointed their poor statistician (Kane) to do so.


I vaguely recall Rizzuto being embarrassed when he mentioned the mix up, which I recall being in the 5th inning of game two. Rizzuto was still very much under the influence of both Allen and Barber. After they left in the mid 1960s, Rizzuto became more relaxed and free wheeling, the way most people remember him, eventually becoming a caricature of himself. Rizzuto would not have taken the matter too lightly in 1963.

SABR bio has a photo of each in the Cleveland uniform, although no date: Kralick, McDowell. Both are wearing the sleaveless shirts and 1963 was the first season for that very different look.

Cleveland Indians uniforms 1960-1965 from Dressed to the Nines database. Unfortunately, the back is not shown and so far I've been unable to determine when the Indians first put player's names on their uniforms. It seems unimaginable that the Yankee announcers would not have noticed the names Kralick and McDowell on the backs of the only two Cleveland pitchers that day, so it's a pretty good bet that the Cleveland uniforms did not have player's names June 2, 1963.

Dressed to the Nines:

In 1960, the Chicago White Sox introduced the first uniforms to feature player names on the jersey. The innovation was a success and today every major league club has adopted the practice with one notable exception: the tradition-minded New York Yankees have yet to don a uniform (home or road) adorned with player names.

Kralick: 6-2, Born: June 1, 1935

McDowell: 6-5, Born: September 21, 1942

Kralick started with the old Washington Senators and threw 151 innings in 1960, then after the team moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, Kralick threw 242 in 1961 and again in 1962. Kralick started 1963 with the Twins but was traded to Cleveland after five starts and 25 innings.

May 2, 1963: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Cleveland Indians for Jim Perry.

The doubleheader mix up game was the first time Kralick pitched against the Yankees in 1963. This is important in understanding why the mistake was not noticed sooner.

McDowell was only 20 years old in 1963 and not yet the intimidating Sudden Sam we remember. McDowell threw only 87 innings in 1962 and would throw only 65 in 1963. In 1962 wearing the traditional shirt McDowell pitched against the Yankees three times as a teenager, all starts: April 22, May 12, Aug. 27. In 1963 the doubleheader mix up game was the only time McDowell pitched against the Yankees that season. McDowell was still throwing significant minor league innings through 1964.

So neither Kralick nor McDowell had pitched against the Yankees in 1963 prior to June 2, the date of the mix up doubleheader when both lefties threw 9 inning complete game victories, each with one BB and four SO.

Since the Cleveland manager reversed their pitching assignments at the last minute that day and the fact that neither lefty had pitched against the Yankees yet that season, the mix up by the Yankee announcers doesn't seem so outrageous.

Part II:

Jack Kralick and Sam McDowell were mistaken for each other by Yankee announcers. How often has that type of thing occurred? Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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