From time to time in this space I've presented baseball statistical anomalies that piqued my interest.
For a period in 1963-64 Frank Howard had what baseball writers used to insensitively call the "Indian sign" on pitcher Bob Hendley.
In five consecutive plate appearances between May 29, 1963, and May 2, 1964, Hondo homered off Hendley.
Then after Hendley retired Howard in the middle innings of the May 2 game, Big Frank went yard once more . . . six home runs in eight at-bats.
Here's the chronology.
May 29, 1963
In a Wednesday night game at Milwaukee Count Stadium, Hendley induced Howard too ground out, ending the top of the 1st inning.
Up again in the 3rd, Howard homered in the gloaming with two out and one on as a dense fog began to creep in. He put the Dodgers ahead 3-0.
When Howard was on deck in the 5th, Ron Piche relieved Hendley; Howard struck out swinging.
The Braves scored three in the bottom of the 6th (and Henry Aaron hit his 300th career double). With two out in the top of the 7th, the game was called on account of the fog, ending in a 3-3 tie. It was replayed as part of a July 21 doubleheader.
July 19, 1963
Leading off the 2nd inning in Milwaukee, Howard homered off Hendley. With two out in the 4th, he repeated.
Frank Funk came on in relief in the 7th. Howard reached on an error that inning and struck out in the 8th.
The Dodgers won 4-2.
Aug. 15, 1963
Again at County Stadium with Hendley on the hill, Howard hit a 1st-inning HR with two out and one on.
When Howard came to the plate in the third, Hendley was relieved by Hank Fischer. Howard grounded out to end the inning. In the 6th, Fischer struck him out swinging.
Against Bobby Tiefenauer in the 8th, Howard singled.
Los Angeles won 7-5.
After the 1963 season, Hendley was traded to the San Francisco Giants.
Hendley's 1964 season didn't start out any better when facing Howard.
May 2, 1964
Howard homered to lead off the 2nd inning in Dodger Stadium.
Finally, Hendley was able to retire Howard when he grounded into an inning-ending double play in the 3rd. Howard grounded out again in the 6th.
Hendley was still on the mound when Howard came to bat in the 8th. With two out and nobody on, Howard again hit the long ball, increasing the Dodgers' lead to 4-2.
With the score 4-4, Bob Shaw came in the relieve Hendley. He issued an intentional walk to Howard in the 10th.
The Giants had gone ahead 5-4 in the 12th. With Wes Parker on base, Howard represented the winning run when he came to the plate. Shaw got him to ground into a double play to end the game.
There was probably not a happier pitcher in the National League when the Dodgers traded Howard to the Washington Senators after the 1964 season.
Overall in his career against Bob Hendley, Frank Howard had faced him 47 times. His batted .366 against him, with eight home runs, 16 RBIs, three doubles and four singles. Hendley struck out Howard six times over four seasons, walking him six times; three of those bases on balls were intentional.