I've expressed a time or two how much I enjoy seeing pictures of well-known players in their post-playing days as coaches for other teams. It must be the juxtaposition of a familiar face with an unfamiliar uniform.
Naturally, some of my custom cards over the years have featured such subjects.
So it is with my most recent customs, cards of 14-year major league veteran pitcher Harvey Haddix as a pitching coach for the N.Y. Mets and Cleveland Indians, in the styles of 1966 and 1978 Topps, respectively.
Haddix, of course, is best-known for pitching 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves on the night of May 26, 1959 . . . and losing.
The Pirates and Braves were scoreless going into the bottom of the 13th inning. While he had allowed 12 hits, Braves starter Lew Burdette [did you know the family name was pronounced "bird-it" around his hometown of Nitro, W.V.?] had issued no walks and his fielders had played errorless ball to keep the Bucs scoreless.
Haddix lost the game essentially on an error. Felix Mantilla had reached base on a Don Hoak throwing error to open the 13th. Eddie Mathews then bunted him over. Haddix intentionally walked Hank Aaron.
Cleanup hitter Joe Adcock came to the plate, and with a 1-0 count, hit a homer into the right-center stands. Officially, however, Adcock's blow was ruled a double because he passed Aaron on the basepaths; Aaron had thought the ball had landed inside the fence.
So instead of losing 3-0, Haddix lost 1-0. Initially umpire Frank Dascolli ruled the score ended 2-0, but he was overturned by NL president Warren Giles, who ruled that since Adcock's blow was officially a double, the game ended when Mantilla crossed the plate.
A really excellent account of the game was written in 2009 by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Bob Dvorchak. You can access it here:
Story of game
In tribute to his 12-inning perfect game, the National League presented Haddix with a silver tray bearing the engraved signatures of his teammates, the umpires and the newsmen who had covered the game. A set of 12 mugs accompanied the tray, each mug engraved with the details of how the Braves were retired in a particular inning.
Following Haddix' death in 2009, his widow consigned the tray/mug set to Hunt Auctions, where it sold on Nov. 13, 2010 for $8,625.
I didn't look real hard, but I didn't see anywhere what Lew Burdette who won the game may have received as a memento.
If you've ever wondered how Haddix got the nickname "Kitten," it dates back to his rookie season (1952) with the St. Louis Cardinals. On the Cards' staff at the time was Harry "The Cat" Breechen, to whom Haddix bore a resemblance. So it was natural the diminutive (5'9", 170 lbs.) new guy became The Kitten.