August 12, 1966: Reds reserve outfielder Art Shamsky goes on a tear and hits three consecutive home runs, two in extra innings, in a Reds 14-11 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Shamsky didn’t even enter the game until the eighth inning, hitting two of the homers in extra innings, the first time ever in the National League. Shamsky hits a fourth consecutive home run days later, also in a reserve role. The two home runs hit in regulation time gave the Reds leads in each game and the two extra inning home runs overcame deficits and tied the game for the Reds.

With such rich memories of the 1970’s Big Red Machine, the 1960’s period in Reds history has been overlooked. The 1960’s Reds teams were very good baseball teams, featuring win seasons of 93, 98, 86, 92, 89, 76, 87, 83, and 89 before reaching the World Series with 102 wins in 1970. They won only 67 in 1960 before bursting onto the scenes in 1961 with the 93-win season to boost them into the World Series against the New York Yankees. They did have one sub-.500 season from 1961-1969, and that was the 1966 season, the season after the ill-fated trade of Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles.

It was during the 1966 season that little known Reds substitute outfielder Art Shamsky made history. It’s a little surprising to me that more isn’t made of Shamsky’s achievements. The 1960’s Reds aren’t discussed much past the 1961 World Series season. I feel the lack of interest in those Reds teams or Shamsky’s feats must be combination of being by-products of playing in the shadow of the Big Red Machine and the bad memories of the Robinson trade which has been documented over and over again in baseball lore.

Baseball-reference.com has some tidbits of info on Art Shamsky and Shamsky’s big day. From “Bullpen:Today in Baseball History” at baseball-reference.com:

At Crosley Field‚ long-ball lovers enjoy 11 home runs in one game‚ tying the most in any contest and setting a ML record for an extra-inning contest. Art Shamsky hits 3 consecutive dingers for Cincinnati‚ including two in extra innings. But Pittsburgh prevails 13 – 11‚ scoring 3 in the 13th inning. Shamsky does not enter the game until the 8th‚ when he hits a 2-run homer to put the Reds up, 8 – 7. His solo homer in the 10th ties the score at 9 – 9‚ as does his 2-run homer in the 11th. Shamsky’s pair of extra-inning homers is a first in the National League‚ and just the 3rd time ever in the Majors. Also going deep are Pete Rose‚ Deron Johnson‚ Bob Bailey (twice)‚ Roberto Clemente‚ Jesse Gonder‚ and Jerry Lynch. For Lynch‚ it is his 18th pinch-hit homer‚ a ML record.

Note: Yes, I noticed the report from baseball-reference.com has a different score, but I did check the boxscore and play-by-play from baseball-reference.com to verify the final 14-11 outcome. Willie Stargell also homered in the game for the Pirates (not mentioned above).

The game see-sawed throughout. The Reds took a 2-0 first inning lead on the Johnson home run, but the Pirates took the lead with four runs in the third on home runs by Gonder and Clemente off Reds’ starter Sammy Ellis (Reds 22 game winner in 1965). Rose’s home run tied it in the fifth for the Reds at 4-4, but Bailey’s first home run of the day gave the Pirates a 5-4 lead in the sixth. The Reds re-took the lead, 6-5, in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Don Pavletich and a Tommy Harper single. Bailey’s two-run homer, his second of the game (this one of Joe Nuxhall) gave the Pirates a 7-6 seventh inning lead setting the stage for Shamsky.

Shamsky entered the game on a double switch in the seventh. His first home run came in the eight inning off reliever Al McBean and scored pinch runner Dick Simpson to give the Reds an 8-7 lead. Lynch’s home run off Don Nottebart tied the game at 8-8 in the top of the ninth. The game was sent into extra innings when Pirates reliever Roy Face struck out the Reds side in the bottom half of the ninth inning.

Stargell’s home run gave the Pirates a tenth inning lead, but Shamsky answered in the bottom of the 10th with his second homer of the day, ending Face’s string of four straight strike outs. The Reds left the bases loaded in the 10th when Face struck out Mel Queen, pinch hitting for Nottebart. Bailey doubled in two runs in the Pirates’ 11th, but Shamsky again answered with a two-run shot to tite the game in the bottom of the 11th, knotting the score at 11-11. The Pirates eventually won it in the 13th on a two-run single by Manny Mota and a run-scoring wild pitch.

Left handed pitcher Woodie Fryman started the next day for the Pirates, so Shamsky, despite his three home run effort did not play for the Reds in their 11-0 Jim Maloney two-hit shut out victory.

Shamsky again was not in the starting lineup on August 14 when the Pirates started right hander Vern Law. With the Reds trailing 1-0 in the seventh, Reds manager Dave Bristol finally called on Shamsky again and Shamsky delivered a two-run home run giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. It was Shamsky’s fourth consecutive home run. Shamsky was then double-switched out of the game with the Pirates eventually winning, 4-2.

Shamsky’s homer streak ended the next night in Los Angeles, when he delivered a pinch hit single, batting for Perez to lead off the Reds eighth. His hot streak ended the next night, when he finally got to start a game and went 0-3 against Don Sutton and the Dodgers.

Here’s some background about Shamsky, also from baseball-reference.com’s bullpen:

Art Shamsky began his professional baseball career as an 18-year-old with the 1960 Geneva Redlegs and homered in his first at-bat. A roommate of Pete Rose that year, Art hit .271 and slugged .480. His 18 homers were second in the league, four behind Larry Daniels and well ahead of Tony Perez and Dick Allen. Shamsky led the league’s outfielders in assists and he made the All-Star team. Art moved up to the Topeka Reds the next year and hit .288, slugging .469 and whacking 15 home runs. In ’62, the young outfielder was with the Macon Peaches and contributed 16 long balls and a .284 mark as he remained consistent in his climb up the minor league ladder.

By 1963, Art was in AAA as a 21-year-old with the San Diego Padres and hit .267 with 18 HR. Repeating with San Diego the next year, he batted .272 and launched 25 circuit clouts to finish 8th in the Pacific Coast League in that category and second on the Padres behind Perez’s 34.

the 1960 Geneva Redlegs sported Rose, Perez, and Shamsky all on the same team. Rose and Perez were splitting the second base/third base jobs and Shamsky was the slugging outfielder. However, the team had little pitching, and finished the season 54-75. Pitcher Dave Skaugstad was also on the team. Skaugstad, signed at age 17, had reached the majors as a teenage pitcher but only appeared in two games. Skaugstad was playing for Class D Geneva, trying to get back to the majors at age 20; yes, age 20.

Meanwhile, in 1966, Pete Rose was already becoming a star, having his second .300-hitting season, and his second consecutive season of finishing in the top ten in MVP voting. Perez was not yet a star, having hit 12 home runs in 1965, but slumping to only four in 1966. Meanwhile, Shamsky became a left-handed slugging machine off the bench, finishing second in home runs for the Reds with 21 home runs in only 271 plate appearances (behind Johnson’s 24 in 554 plate appearances). The Reds platooned Shamsky giving him only 18 plate appearances versus left handed pitching, despite batting .273 with two homers against lefties (1.318 OPS–limited playing time). Versus righties, Shamsky batted .229 with an .816 OPS. To justify the Reds’ actions, Shamsky eventually had a career .768 OPS versus righthanded pitching, and an OPS of .613 versus lefties.

Shamsky ended his career batting .253 with 68 home runs over eight seasons. He’s probably better known for his days with the 1969 “Amazin’ Mets” World Series championship team.

August 12, 1966 was Shamsky’s big day, but we also need to mention August 12, 1976 because George Foster had a rather unique day, too. Again, from baseball-reference.com’s bullpen section:

The Reds go long at Wrigley Field‚ scoring 7 runs in the 8th and 9th to beat the Cubs‚ 8 – 3. George Foster hits back-to-back homers with Joe Morgan in the 8th and repeats it with Johnny Bench in the 9th.

That’s not a bad day either. Foster finished second in the 1976 MVP balloting when he batted .306 with 29 homers and led the majors with 121 rbi. He won the MVP title in 1977 when he nearly won the Triple Crown leading the majors with 52 home runs and 149 rbi. His .320 batting average finished fourth in the National League, 18 points behind batting average champion Dave Parker.

7 Responses

  1. pinson343

    I listened to the Shamsky game on the radio, as I lived in Connecticut and could receive the Pittsburgh station. Couldn’t stand Bob Prince. It went late into the nite, I had to turn the radio down low so my parents wouldn’t know I was still up.

    Bob Castellini says as a young boy he too used to listen to Reds nite games on the radio, under the covers so his parents couldn’t hear. He says one nite he caused a fire that way.

  2. pinson343

    Thanks, Chad. I always like to spin a yarn.

  3. OleMissReb

    I was living in Ohio in 1966 and listened to the three-homer game on radio … then attended the Sunday game in which Shamsky hit No. 4. If I recall, that homer hit on or over a yellow line painted on the fence. I didn’t realize he’d homered till everyone else stood up! It had looked like a double to me!

  4. dom zanni

    I listen to that game in brooklyn it was heartbreaking I think Darrell Osteen got the loss

  5. Steve Price

    For the extra inning game, Billy McCool got the loss; he allowed four hits, walked six, and allowed five runs in two innings of extra inning relief. Ouch. For the season, McCool was 8-8 with a 2.48 ERA.

    Darrell Osteen was on the team that year…went 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA in 13 games.

    Dom Zanni was also on that team…0-0, 0.00, in 5 games.

  6. dom zanni

    thanks, jim duffalo, jim dickson, billy short, bobby locke and joe gibbon and joe henderson were among my favorites,, dickson and steve cooke are undefeated as reds