December 31, 2019

The day Koufax no-hit the Phillies and the Twins lost to the Yankees (of course)

It was another day spent in these United States of America and another day spent on social media (sigh) when I came across a most enjoyable tweet: Artist Graig Kreindler had tweeted an image of one of his paintings.

It shows Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax about to step into his windup on June 4, 1964, the day he threw his third career no-hitter — this time against the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a superbly detailed and life-like work, including a scoreboard that seems to pop with reality. As a Twins fan, I also couldn’t help but notice that while Koufax was blowing away the Phils, the Twins were losing to the New York Yankees. Although the Twins would drum out a few more hits in that game, the score shown in the painting would hold up for a 9-7 Yankee win. And so it goes, Twins fans.

While Koufax was on the road in Philly, the Twins were at home to face the Bombers before 27,000 at the Met on that same June day. Twins pitcher, Jim Perry, who won more than 200 games over a 17-year career, got the nod that afternoon and quickly fell apart. He served up six earned runs in only an inning of work and was gone, spelled by a reliever. Yankee buffoon, Joe Pepitone, delivered the big blow in the form of a three-run home run.

Perry was replaced by reliever Garland Shifflett (or a British MP with that name) and Shifflett didn’t fare much better than Perry, allowing three runs on four hits in five innings, including a home run to slugger Roger Maris.

The Twins didn’t exactly roll over and play dead. They chased Yankees starter Al Downing after two-plus innings, and a lineup of Vic Power, Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew and Jimmie Hall banged out nine of the Twins’ 10 hits. Power doubled twice and Hall hit his 11th home run of the season.

But after Perry and Shifflett, the damage was done. Yankees reliever Pete Mikkelsen followed Downing and cruised, allowing only two earned runs over six-plus innings.

How would 1964 shake out for both teams? The Twins would finish seventh in the American League, while the Yankees won the pennant. They went on to lose to the Cardinals in the World Series. But the following season, the Twins would run away with the American League with 102 wins and face Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

And how did Koufax do on June 4, 1964? Koufax was Koufax. He went the distance, allowing no hits, one walk and struck out 12 to silence the Gene Mauch-led Phillies, 3-0.

Mauch on Koufax:

“He (Sandy Koufax) throws a ‘radio ball,’ a pitch you hear, but you don’t see.”

Sources: and Baseball Almanac.


Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.