Lefty pitcher Woodie Fryman made his Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 15, 1966, just three days after his 26th birthday. By the time July 1st rolled around, he had a 5-3, 2.82 record in eight starts and eight relief appearances. Fryman was coming off of his first career shutout on June 26th in a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. He gave up just three hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. Five days later, he would attempt to match that game against the New York Mets.
These two clubs were going in opposite directions. The Pirates had a 43-29 record going into July. The Mets had a 29-41 record at that same point. July 1st was a Friday and 24,056 fans packed Shea Stadium that night hoping to see their team get things headed in the right direction. Woodie Fryman and the Pittsburgh bats had other ideas.
The Pirates were retired in order in the first by Mets starter Jack Fisher. Fryman gave up a lead-off single to Ron Hunt, but he was quickly erased on a caught stealing. Fryman retired the next two batters on a strikeout and a ground out.
Pittsburgh got on the board in the second inning. They loaded the bases with one out, which brought up Bill Mazeroski. He lined a single into left field, which allowed one run to score. Fisher worked out of the jam by retiring the next two hitters, keeping it a 1-0 game.
After Fryman retired the side in order in the second, the Pirates tacked on two more runs in the third. Gene Alley singled, then Fisher struck out Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. Jose Pagan came up and knocked his third home run of the season. Donn Clendenon tripled, but Jim Pagliaroni struck out to end the frame.
The Mets went down in order in the third and they had a quick hook in Fisher, who left for a pinch-hitter. Bill Hepler came on in relief and worked around a bunt single by Matty Alou to throw a scoreless fourth. Fryman had a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth and the Pirates couldn’t do anything with a lead-off single in the fifth by Clemente. He was retired on a double play ball off the bat of Pagan.
The fifth was another quick inning for Fryman, who retired the middle of the Mets order on two grounders and a liner. The sixth saw the Pirates get another single from a Hall of Famer that went nowhere, this time from Mazeroski. Fryman turned things up in the sixth against the bottom of the order by striking out the side. Through six frames, it was a close 3-0 game, but the Mets had just one runner against the 26-year-old lefty, so the Pirates seemed to be in control.
The seventh was a disaster for two Mets pitchers. The inning started with the second bunt single by Alou. Gene Alley was hit by a pitch, then two batters later, Willie Stargell made it a 4-0 game with a single into left field. Jose Pagan followed with a two-run double and that knocked Bill Hepler out of the game and brought on Darrell Sutherland. Clendenon was retired on a ground out, but Pagliaroni scored Pagan on an infield single, which was then followed by a two-run homer from Mazeroski, his fifth of the season. The Pirates got back-to-back singles before the inning ended with a 9-0 score.
Fryman set the Mets down in order in the bottom of the seventh, then the Pirates added some insurance runs. Willie Stargell hit his 16th home run of the season off of Larry Bearnarth. Bob Bailey, who replaced Pagan at third base with the game out of hand, reached on a single. Donn Clendenon then hit a two-run homer to make it a 12-0 score. It was his eighth home run of the year.
The game was well out of hand at this point and the only question that remained was whether or not Fryman could put up back-to-back shutouts. He had no trouble in the eighth with the middle of the order, getting a strikeout, infield pop up and a fly ball to left field. Facing the bottom of the order in the ninth, he breezed through the frame in nearly a similar fashion as the eighth, with an infield pop up and a fly ball to left field, before a grounder to third base ended the game.
Fryman had pulled off an incredible pitching performance that was nearly lost in the 12-run outburst by the offense. He allowed a lead-off single, which was erased on a caught stealing, then retired the other 26 batters he faced in order. He finished the night with eight strikeouts. His streak of shutouts wasn’t done. He would throw another one against the Chicago Cubs four days later while allowing just three hits, all of them off of the bat of Billy Williams.
Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.
Here are links to the previous Game Rewind articles: