Cinco de Mayo was a special day for Tommy Lasorda and Bo Belinsky
Today is Cinco de Mayo, a day of celebration through the Southland. You may be wondering what Cinco de Mayo has to do with sports, but two very important events happened on this date that were key for our two baseball teams.
On May 5, 1955, future Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda made his first start for the Dodgers, A left-handed pitcher with a good curve, but some control issues, Lasorda took the mound in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn against the St. Louis Cardinals. It wasn’t a great outing.
The first batter Lasorda faced was Wally Moon. Lasorda walked him. He then threw a wild pitch, allowing Moon to advance to second. Then he walked Bill Virdon. He then threw another wild pitch, moving the runners to second and third. He then struck out Stan Musial. With Rip Repulski at the plate, Lasorda threw another wild pitch. Lasorda covered home plate as Moon tried to score. Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella retrieved the ball and threw it to Lasorda, who was covering home and blocking the plate. Moon slid into Lasorda, scored the run and opened up a gash in Lasorda’s leg by accidentally spiking him. With blood pouring out of his leg, Lasorda finished the inning, striking out Repulski and getting Red Schoendienst on a pop fly.
Back on the bench, the team doctor took one look at his leg and told him he couldn’t go back out to pitch. Lasorda, whose three wild pitches in one inning tied a major league record, never started for the Dodgers again. A month later, the Dodgers had to make room on their roster and had to make a choice: Should they send Lasorda to the minors or another rookie left-hander on the team, a guy by the name of Sandy Koufax? Thus ended Lasorda’s Dodgers playing career.
Cinco de Mayo is also a big day in Angels history. On that day in 1962, rookie Bo Belinsky took the mound against the Baltimore Orioles and finished the day with a no-hitter, the very first in Angels’ history. He struck out nine Orioles, walked four and hit two batters. It came in only the fourth start of Belinsky’s career.
Other notable baseball events on Cinco de Mayo: Pete Rose collected his 3,000th hit (1978) and the musical “Damn Yankees” opened on Broadway (1955).
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