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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Wild record for Dodgers


June 1, 1968

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

1968_0601_sports Don Drysdale's 1968 season would never happen in 2008.

A starting pitcher allowed to finish complete game after complete game? You've got to be kidding. What about the high-priced closers who automatically enter a game now with their team ahead in the ninth inning? No manager would allow them to sit in the bullpen, watching a starter throw up to 150 pitches.

This was a different era. Drysdale came into the game against the Giants with four consecutive shutouts. One more shutout would set a new National League record and put him within striking distance of one of the game's great standards, Carl Hubbell's scoreless streak of 46 1/3 innings.

Drysdale and the Dodgers won, 3-0, to continue his streak but it was a wild ride into history thanks to an unlikely call by an umpire.

The Giants loaded the bases with no outs. Drysdale hit Dick Dietz with a 2-2 fastball, seemingly the end of the shutout streak. But umpire Harry Wendlestedt said Dietz didn't try to get out of the way and called the pitch a ball. After Manager Herman Franks was thrown out in the ensuing and inevitable argument, Dietz hit a shot fly to left and the runners held.

Ty Cline was next and according to the game story by The Times' Dan Hafner, first baseman Wes Parker dug out his hot smash and threw home to get a force and keep the shutout intact.  Jack Hiatt popped to Parker.

The Dodgers celebrated and talked about the call.

"I never saw the play called before, but then this is the first time I ever saw anyone deliberately get hit by a ball," Manager Walter Alston said.

Catcher Jeff Torborg said the umpire "showed real guts" then added, "Come to think of it, Dietz had guts too. He stuck his elbow in the way of a fastball."

Hafner's story included pregame notes that serve as a time capsule. Sen. Eugene McCarthy was campaigning in California and played some catch before the game with pitcher Mudcat Grant. Hafner noted that Grant was a supporter of Sen. Robert Kennedy.

As for Drysdale, his next start would be at Dodger Stadium against the Pirates on June 4, election night in California.

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