Drysdale makes shutout history

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

He spent much of the 1960s in the shadows of his Dodgers teammate, Sandy Koufax. But on June 4, 1968, Don Drysdale wrote some history of his own that would one day be inscribed on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Drysdale, the 6-foot-5 hard-throwing right-hander, blanked the Pirates that day 5-0, allowing just three hits while striking out eight batters. The victory was Drysdale’s sixth shutout in a row dating back to May 14 and gave him 54 straight scoreless innings.

The sixth straight shutout broke the mark of five held by Doc White of the 1904 White Sox.

In his next start on June 8 against the Phillies, Drysdale shut out Philadelphia for four full frames, running his streak to 58 innings and breaking the mark of 55.2 set by Walter Johnson in 1913. But in the fifth inning, the Phillies’ Howie Bedell scored Tony Taylor on a sacrifice fly, ending the streak at 58 and two-thirds innings.

It was Bedell’s only RBI of the season and one of just three for his career.

Drysdale and the Dodgers went on to win the game 5-3, however, with Drysdale improving his season record to 8-3. By the end of the campaign – forever to be known as The Year of the Pitcher – Drysdale had compiled a record of 14-12 with a 2.15 earned-run average in 239 innings.

“The trick against Drysdale,” said future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, “is to hit him before he hits you.”

Drysdale, in fact, led the National League in hit batsmen five times.

In 1969, a nagging shoulder injury forced Drysdale’s mid-season retirement at the age of only 33. Three years earlier, an arm injury had forced Koufax’s exit from the game at 32.

In 14 big league seasons, Drysdale posted a record of 209-166 with a 2.95 ERA. He was named to nine All-Star Games, led the NL in games started four times, strikeouts three times and innings pitched twice – and won the 1962 Cy Young Award after going 25-9.

A long-time broadcasting career followed his days on the diamond, as Drysdale called games for several teams and worked for many years with ABC-TV.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984, and he passed away on July 3, 1993.


Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series