May 24, 2010 – The game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959 at County Stadium in Milwaukee in front of 19,194 fans has often been called the greatest baseball game ever played. A pitching duel for the ages between the Pirates lefty Harvey Haddix and the Braves right hander Lew Burdette. This game had nothing to do with the Washington Senators or the Minnesota Twins who were not yet a twinkle in Calvin Griffith’s eye, but to me it is one of my favorite baseball memories.
Back in the summer of 1959 I was 11 years old and loved baseball, regardless if it was playing the game, collecting baseball cards, or listening to Milwaukee Braves games on my transistor radio. We had no TV at the time so it was radio or nothing for me. I grew up on a dairy farm outside of Taylors Falls, Minnesota and the Milwaukee Braves were the only games I could pick up so they became my favorite team. Add in the fact that they whipped the hated New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series and that Hammerin Hank Aaron was my favorite player and there was no better team than the Milwaukee Braves. I often went to bed with my radio under my pillow listening to Braves baseball games. I could rattle off the most recent stats of Spahn, Burdette, Buhl, McMahon, Crandall, Adcock, Mantilla, Logan, Mathews, Covington, Pafko, and of course Aaron, what wonderful teams the Braves had back in the late 50’s.
My favorite baseball memories are unique to me, they may not mean a thing to someone else but to me they are what baseball is all about. Some of my favorite baseball memories are listening to Minnesota Twins games on a radio in the barn when I was milking cows and listening to Halsey Hall spin another yarn and laugh like no one else, watching a nail file fall out of Joe Niekro’s back pocket as the umpire looks on, attending my first live baseball game, which happened to be the 1965 All-Star game, Getting to attend the 1987 and 1991 World Series games at the Metrodome, listening to Braves games on my transistor radio, watching Henry Aaron become the home run champion (still is in my book) and many more, I could go on and on. One of those memories however is this 1959 game between the Braves and the Pirates. I tuned in the game in the 8th inning and was amazed to hear that Harvey Haddix not only had no hit the Braves to that point but he had a perfect game going, I was in awe, I had only read about no hitters and had never heard one in progress. Perfect after nine, ten, eleven, twelve, my God, how long could this go on? Then in the 13th inning things started to unravel for the Pirates and Haddix and I will let Craig Muder tell you the rest of the story in his article for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, just click here to read it.
The ending was very confusing as I remember, listening to the Braves announcers explain what happened on the home run by Adcock that turned out not to be a homerun. Harvey (Kitten) Haddix lost the game and sadly, gets no credit for a no-hitter much less a perfect game for 12 innings. No one even mentions that the Braves Lew Burdette pitched a 13 inning 12 hit shutout that day and got the victory. I wonder how pitches were thrown that day! Both Haddix and Burdette are gone now but I bet you that on May 26 of each year they hook up again and take the mound in that big ballpark in the sky and see who the best is on that given day. Damn, I love baseball………