It’s not often that the reigning Most Valuable Player moves positions, but the 1963 Dodgers this week turned to shortstop Maury Wills to cure their ills at third base.
Through the season’s first 31 games, the Dodgers have used a combination of rookie Ken McMullen, Jim Gilliam, Tommy Davis, and veteran Daryl Spencer at the hot corner. With Gilliam at second base, the team preferring Davis in the outfield, and McMullen in the minors, the Dodgers were looking for defense at third.
They turned to Wills, a Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop the last two seasons and last year’s National League MVP. Last Sunday, May 12 was Wills’ first major league game at third base.
“I think third base is Wills’ natural position,” Triple-A Spokane manager Danny Ozark told the Associated Press. “He’s not an outstanding shortstop but at third he’ll have less running to do and can get more rest for his baserunning exploits. I believe the switch will help his hitting and that it will help the Dodgers.”
Dick Tracewski, the 28-year-old rookie who started five games when Wills was injured during the first week of the season, was inserted as the starting shortstop. He paid immediate dividends, hitting .333 (8-for-24).
After a loss to the Phillies to open the week, the Dodgers ripped off six wins in a row, vaulting into second place in the National League.
Batter of the week
Jim Gilliam ran his hitting streak to 15 games with another strong week, collecting 10 hits in 21 at-bats with a triple, double, and three walks. He scored the only run in the Dodgers’ two 1-0 wins last week — Wednesday against the Pirates, and the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Mets.
Pitcher of the week
Sandy Koufax’s first start after his no-hitter was anything but, as he gave up 11 hits on Wednesday against the Phillies. But that was over 12 innings and 164 pitches, and he was made a winner when Ron Fairly drove home Gilliam in the bottom of the 12th.
Then on Sunday, Koufax shut out the Mets, allowing only two hits and a walk. His ERA on the season is 1.06 through eight starts, including allowing only three runs over his last 53⅔ innings.
The two runs scored by Philadelphia are the only runs allowed by Koufax at Dodger Stadium this year in five starts, totaling 45⅔ innings
Honorable mention goes to Johnny Podres, who shut out the Pirates 1-0 on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. Podres has two wins in his seven starts this season, both shutouts. This was the 30-year-old’s second start back after missing two weeks with what George Lederer in the Long Beach Press Telegram nebulously called “arm trouble.”
Week 6 results
25 runs scored (3.57 per game)
16 runs allowed (2.29 per game)
.694 pythagorean win percentage
Year to date
161 runs scored (4.13 per game)
140 runs allowed (3.59 per game)
.564 pythagorean win percentage (22-17)
It’s a walk off: Frank Howard’s two-run home run on Sunday in the 13th inning off Mets left-hander Ken MacKenzie gave the Dodgers a sixth consecutive win, but also provided his second walk-off home run of the season, having also beaten Milwaukee’s Claude Raymond on April 23. Howard’s two blasts tied Angels outfielder Leon Wagner for the most walk-off homers since Dodger Stadium opened last year. Wagner hit his last year in the Halos’ inaugural season.
Tuesday, May 14: The Dodgers released utility infielder Daryl Spencer, who played in just seven of the team’s first 32 games. The 34-year-old Spencer started twice at third base, on April 17-18, but was otherwise limited to occasional pinch-hitting duty. Spencer had one hit in nine at-bats, with three walks.
- Tuesday, May 14: Phillies 5, Dodgers 1
- Wednesday, May 15: Dodgers 3, Phillies 2 (12 innings)
- Thursday, May 16: Dodgers 1, Pirates 0
- Friday, May 17: Dodgers 9, Pirates 3
- Saturday, May 18: Dodgers 6, Pirates 4
- Sunday, May 19: Game 1 — Dodgers 1, Mets 0
- Sunday, May 19: Game 2 — Dodgers 4, Mets 2 (13 innings)
1963 Week 6 batting
1963 Week 6 pitching
Previous 1963 reviews: Snider to Mets | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
The week ahead
The Dodgers run the Hobie Landrith gauntlet this week, finishing off their series against the Mets before heading north for a weekend series in San Francisco.