I love this photo. If there wasn’t already a story behind it, this is the kind of photo that would serve as a terrific writing prompt.
This picture was taken September 22, 1965, at the conclusion of the Milwaukee Braves’ last game in Milwaukee County Stadium. It was the Braves’ last home game before their move to Atlanta the following year. The photo depicts third baseman Eddie Mathews on the left along with Hank Aaron as they headed up the tunnel to the dressing room for the last time.
Baseball isn’t just the stats. As much as anything else, baseball is the style of Willie Mays, or the determination of Hank Aaron, or the endurance of a Mickey Mantle, the discipline of Carl Yastrzemski, the drive of Eddie Mathews, the reliability of a (Al) Kaline or a (Joe) Morgan, the grace of a (Joe) DiMaggio, the kindness of a Harmon Killebrew, and the class of Stan Musial, the courage of a Jackie Robinson, or the heroism of Lou Gehrig. My hope for the game is that these qualities will never be lost.
On May 26, 1959, Pirates pitcher Harvey Haddix was taking a perfect game into the 13th inning against the Milwaukee Braves. Unfortunately for Haddix, however, Braves pitcher Lew Burdette was also pitching a shutout that day. Haddix’s perfect game ended in the bottom of the 13th when Milwaukee’s lead-off batter, Félix Mantilla, reached on a fielding error. Eddie Mathews’s sacrifice bunt advanced Mantilla to second, and Hank Aaron was given first on an intentional walk. Joe Adcock then ended the no-hitter with what first appeared to be a home run, but was later ruled to be a double by National League president Warren Giles.
In spite of the heart-breaking conclusion, Haddix’s 13-inning show continues to be recognized as one of the greatest pitching performances of all time. He even managed to get a song written about him. The Baseball Project laments Haddix’s poor luck through this tune, in which they also manage to list off every other pitcher who has gone down in history with a perfect game (up to March 2011, at least).
Eddie Mathews hit his 200th career home run on June 12, 1957, becoming the second youngest player in MLB history to reach the milestone. The blast was not enough for the Braves, however, as Milwaukee lost to the Brooklyn Dodgers, 11-9, at Ebbets Field.