Thursday, November 03, 2011

Did All Three Alou Brothers Really Start the Same Game?

There are reports this morning that Matty Alou has passed away in Miami. If the reports prove to be true, then another piece of this writer's youth has passed into the great beyond. Since this Fan was a boy, the story of the Alou brothers has been legendary. They are baseball royalty as only the DiMaggio brothers can claim the same kind of history. Matty, Felipe and Jesus Alou all started their careers with the San Francisco Giants. Matty and Felipe went on to some degree of stardom on other teams. Jesus had a long career but was never as good as his brothers. Felipe was the most powerful of the brothers and compiled the most rWAR for his career. Felipe also managed in the big leagues. One of the stories you often hear about the Alou brothers was they once all started in the outfield for the Giants in 1963. Of course, this was the one and only time such a thing happened in the majors. But nobody tells you any details about that game. And so this Fan of the game (since way back when the Alou brothers played) got immersed into to find the game itself.

The easiest way to find it was to look at Jesus Alou's game log for 1963. Since he played the fewest games that year for the Giants, it was the least painful route to take. Jesus played only sixteen games in 1963 for the Giants starting on September 10. In that first game, all three brothers got into the game. Felipe started and Matty and Jesus pinch hit. That alone is history. On September 11, 1963, Felipe and Jesus both started in the same outfield and Matty pinch hit. Here are the rest of Jesus's appearances until we find "The Game."

  • September 12 - Felipe starts, Jesus come in at the end of the game as an outfield defensive replacement.
  • September 13 - Felipe starts in right. Jesus starts in left. Matty pinch hits.
  • September 14 - Felipe starts. Jesus comes in late as a left field defensive replacement. Willie McCovey was playing left. Remember that the Giants had a center fielder. He was pretty good. Willie Mays.
  • September 15 - A laffer won by the Giants. Felipe started and played all outfield positions. Jesus replaced McCovey and played right field. Matty replaced Willie Mays and played left. All three are in the outfield together. History!
  • September 17 - Another easy win for the Giants. Felipe starts in right and moves to center when Matty takes over for Willie Mays late in the game and plays left. Jesus pinch runs for Harvey Kuenn and then plays left until Matty arrives and then plays right. All three in the outfield again!
  • September 20 - Felipe starts. Jesus is a defensive replacement in left late in the game. No Matty.
  • September 21 - Felipe starts, Jesus and Matty pinch hit.
  • September 22 - Easy win for the Giants over the hapless Mets. Felipe starts. Matty takes over for Willie Mays. Jesus takes over for Orlando Cepeda. All three are again in the outfield together. Felipe in center, Matty in left, Jesus in right.
  • September 24 - Felipe starts. Jesus pinch hits for Kuenn and plays left field late in the game. No Matty.
  • September 25 - Felipe starts. Both Jesus and Matty pinch hit but don't play the field.
  • September 26 - Felipe starts in right. Jesus takes over for Willie McCovey in left late in the game.
  • September 27 - Felipe starts in right. Jesus pinch hits. No Matty.
  • September 28 - Felipe starts in right. Jesus starts in left. No Matty. Uh oh.
  • September 29 - Felipe starts in right. Jesus pinch runs for McCovey and plays an inning in left. It's the last game of the season.
By culling through the game logs of Jesus Alou, this Fan found seven occurrences when all three Alou brothers made the box score and two times where all three played in the same outfield at the same time. But in a post that began as a way to celebrate the "day that all three Alou brothers started in the outfield in a game in 1963," turned out instead to be a post about debunking this myth. It never happened. Felipe Alou was traded the following year to the Milwaukee Braves (can you imagine playing along side both Willie Mays AND Hank Aaron in the same career!?) so it couldn't have happened after 1963. And 1963 was Jesus Alou's first season so it couldn't have happened before 1963.

The myth is even perpetuated by itself. But it never happened. In one of the coolest facts of all of baseball history, all three Alou brothers DID play in the outfield at the same time. It happened twice as listed above. And all three appeared in 1963 Giant box scores seven times. But they never started together in the outfield. There was no way you were getting Willie Mays out of that line up.

*** Minor Correction - The Alou brothers actually patrolled the outfield together on three occasions. Messed up the count


netherton said...

Great research, William. I'm saddened to learn of both the myth being busted and the possible loss of one of the game's greatest characters.

Matty came through St. Louis twice, although one was a brief stop. He had a great year in 1971 and until traded to Oakland in 1972. My favorite memory of him was playing first base, and the look on Dal Maxvill's face when he was trying to find the little guy way across the diamond. Maxvill should have earned another Gold Glove just for having to throw to such a tiny target.

William J. Tasker said...

Thanks, Bob. Loved him as a player. Apparently helped into stardom by Harry "The Hat" Walker, his Pittsburgh years were amazing. Like all the Alou brothers, they didn't walk at all and Matty had no power. But it sure was fun to see him spray the ball all over the place.

SiscoVanilla said...

Hey William:

Awesome post. Thanks for the research on clarifying this. I've been one of those bloggers that have taken for granted that the Alou Brothers started a game together in the outfield in 1963. I appreciate the effort.

Francisco Hilario Jr

Anonymous said...

Check out this game. Jesus pinch hits for the A's and Felipe and Matty are in the field for the Yankees. We were at the game. 2 days later all three start.

William J. Tasker said...

Very cool Anon! They all started in the outfield in the same game. Just for two different teams. Thanks for the catch. Here's the link to the game they all started:

Anonymous said...

You are so wrong! I was at that game. Born in San Francisco and raised there and in Boulder Creek I was a huge Giant fan. I would listen to every game I could on radio and even kept a scrap book.(no t.v.)I can't tell you how excited I was when my father told me he was going to take me to an actual game. When that day came you can't imagine my disappointment when my hero Willie Mays was not in the line-up. It broke my heart. I believe my 2nd favorite player Orlando Cepeda did not play either. My dad tried to explain to a teary eyed me that sometimes players take a day off. I had never listen to a game that Willie did not play and I was completely crushed that the one game I got to go to he did not play. I am 100% sure the three Alou brothers STARTED that game. You just don't forget something like this. Like I said I kept scrap books and when I get back from Mexico in June I will check, I may have ticket stubs and scorecard. Bonus memory; each Alou brother scored a run in that game. I was 6 years old so it could of been in 1962 or 63. You need to go back and look for the 1st and possibly only game Willie Mays did not start in those years to find the truth. I know the truth I was there!