Eddie Mathews' 500th homer
July 14, 1967

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A Quiet Milestone
by Bob Hulsey

Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews
(c) Houston Astros
For being only the seventh player in history to pass the legendary 500 home run mark, Eddie Mathews did so about as quietly as it could be done. Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle had passed that plateau within the past two years with all the due hoopla and pomp befitting the moment. They joined Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Mel Ott in what was then a very elite club that symbolized true greatness.

Mathews, however, was a quiet native Texan who was not given to such displays. It is almost befitting that his milestone was nearly upstaged by a mouse.

The game was played on a Friday night in windy San Francisco while much of the nation east of the Rockies was preparing for bed. The Giants scrapped two early runs against starter Dave Giusti when the last-place Astros started a rally against ace righthander Juan Marichal.

Jim Wynn led off with a single to left and Rusty Staub beat out a roller to third. Mathews came to the plate with left fielder Norm Miller on deck. This was Mathews' first start since hitting his 499th home run last week against Ray Culp of Chicago in a 3-1 victory at the Astrodome.

It had not been a great season for him. Mathews had been traded by the Braves, the team for which he had tolied for 15 years over three cities (the only player who could claim he was a Boston Brave, a Milwaukee Brave and an Atlanta Brave) to Houston in the off-season. In his prime, he was one of the game's best third basemen but his skills had begun to erode and the Astros played him at first base since Bob Aspromonte was still capable at third. No doubt, the Astros were thrilled to have him because of his name value and their never-ending quest to find power hitters in those early years.

Eddie had switched to a bat belonging to catcher Ron Brand in recent days because he felt he was getting too far in front of the pitches with his own 36-ounce stick. The heavier bat would slow his swing down just a tad.

As Mathews stepped in for another Marichal pitch, Miller was startled by a mouse that had crawled out from under the Candlestick Park field boxes. From there, the mouse dashed in foul territory up the third base side until it noticed third base coach Jim Busby. It then made a right turn onto the field where third baseman Jim Davenport of the Giants scooped it up with his bare hand and playfully tossed it at umpire Chris Pelekoudas. The ump jumped as if he was avoiding a line drive.

Norm Miller
(c) Houston Astros
The mouse understood now he was in trouble. He scrambled toward second base while shortstop Hal Lanier called time out. The crowd was beginning to realize what was happening, laughing and roaring at the unexpected guest. Lanier redirected the rodent into the outfield where Willie Mays took over, shooing the mouse with his glove further and further away from the diamond. Willie was finally able to coax it under the center field fence so play could resume.

Back at the plate, Mathews struck out. Miller picked him up, though, belting a line drive into the Bay Area gale for a three-run homer that put Houston ahead, 3-2. In the fifth, Davenport answered with a two-out two-run homer to give the Giants a 4-3 lead again.

Wynn and Staub both singled to open the sixth, bringing Mathews back to the plate. This time, Eddie didn't miss. He drove Marichal's pitch into the wind blowing out to right and watched it sail over the wire fence for the milestone moment. Wynn and Staub raced home to reclaim the lead then waited for Mathews to arrive as the entire Houston bench came out to congratulate him. The Astros led, 6-4.

After a walk and a single, Marichal was replaced by Joe Gibbon. Two outs later, Giusti belted a triple that scored Miller and increased the margin to three. San Francisco responded with their fifth run off Giusti, a single by Lanier that drove home Jim Ray Hart.

In the seventh, Staub doubled home Wynn for an insurance run. In the eighth, Manager Grady Hatton called on reliever Larry Sherry, who gave up a solo homer to Hart but closed it out to seal the 8-6 victory.

Mathews would go deep just three more times as an Astro. In mid-August, far removed from any pennant hopes, Houston traded Eddie to the Detroit Tigers who were locked in a tight four-way pennant race in the American League. The player to be named later in the deal became reliever Fred Gladding.

Eddie Mathews retired after the 1968 season with 512 career homers. He returned to Atlanta as a manager in 1972, lasting through the middle of the 1974 campaign. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978.

Matthews Crashes 500-HR Club
By John Wilson
from The Sporting News, July 29, 1967

(Houston, Tex) Eddie Mathews became only the seventh member of the 500-Homer Club, but he knows the membership won't remain that exclusive. He figures that Harmon Killebrew and his old teammate, Henry Aaron, are at least a couple of the fellows playing now who will eventually join the ranks.

The Astro infielder, who played his first 15 major league seasons with the Braves, says a young fellow starting out now will find it a little tougher than he did to hit 500 home runs.

Gene Elston presents Mathews with commemorative plaque
(c) Houston Astros
He pointed out that all the new parks in the National League are all larger than the ones they replaced.

"The pitching is getting tougher all the time," he added as a second reason.

And a third is the increase in night games and night travel.

"When I came to the major leagues in 1952, all baseball travel still was by train," Eddie said.

But, regardless of the obstacles, there will be players coming along to break the records.

"Ballplayers are getting better all the time," he said.

Socked Juan Marichal

Mathews hit his 500th home run at San Francisco on July 14th. He socked it off Juan Marichal in the sixth inning, with two men on and the Astros trailing, 4-3. The Texans went on to win the game, 8-6.

Mathews was happy that he did not have a long, agonizing wait between No. 499 and the big one. He had hit his 499th on his next to last at-bat on the Saturday before the All-Star break.

He had sat out the next day's game and also the first one at San Francisco after the midseason intermission. The 500th homer actually came on his fourth at-bat after his 499th.

Mathews didn't wait long to start on his next 500 either. He hit his 501st at Los Angeles two days later.

Ott's Total Next

Mathews said he would like to top Mel Ott's 511 home runs this season, and feels he has a pretty good chance at it.

"Records have never been that important to me because no matter what you do, somebody is going to come along and do better," he said. "That is just the nature of the game."

He admitted he had been quite aware about approaching the 500-homer plateau this season.

"I didn't want to think about it but there's no way you can forget it because people keep reminding you of it," he said.

Mathews hit his first major league home run off lefty Ken Heintzelman of Philadelphia. That was early in the 1952 season and Tommy Holmes was managing the Braves.

"Tommy had told me a little before that if I didn't start hitting lefthanders, he was going to have to send me down," Mathews recalled.

Box score
Houston Astros 8, San Francisco Giants 6

Game Played on Friday, July 14, 1967 (N) at Candlestick Park

HOU N    0  0  0    3  0  4    1  0  0  -   8 13  2
SF  N    1  0  1    0  2  1    0  1  0  -   6 11  0


Houston Astros        AB   R   H RBI      BB  SO      PO   A
Jackson ss             5   0   0   0       0   1       1   1
Morgan 2b              4   0   1   0       1   0       4   5
Wynn cf                4   3   2   0       1   1       2   0
Staub rf               5   2   3   1       0   1       1   0
Mathews 1b             4   1   2   3       0   2      11   0
Miller lf              3   2   1   3       1   1       0   0
Aspromonte 3b          4   0   2   0       0   0       0   1
  Sherry p             0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
Adlesh c               4   0   0   0       0   0       8   0
Giusti p               3   0   1   1       0   0       0   2
  Lillis ph,3b         1   0   1   0       0   0       0   0
Totals                37   8  13   8       3   6      27   9

DP: 1.
E: Morgan (7), Giusti (1).

2B: Staub (21,off Henry).
3B: Giusti (1,off Gibbon).
HR: Miller (1,4th inning off Marichal 2 on, 1 out); Mathews (7,6th inning off
Marichal 2 on, 0 out).
Team LOB: 5.

SB: Morgan (6,2nd base off Marichal/Haller).
CS: Morgan (4,2nd base by Bolin/Dietz).

San Francisco Giants  AB   R   H RBI      BB  SO      PO   A
Cline cf               1   0   1   0       0   0       0   0
  Perry pr             0   1   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Mays cf              2   0   0   0       0   2       1   0
  Dietz c              1   0   0   0       1   1       3   1
Davenport 3b           4   1   2   3       0   1       1   0
McCovey 1b             5   0   0   1       0   1      14   0
Hart lf                5   2   2   1       0   1       1   0
Haller c,rf            4   0   0   0       0   0       3   1
Brown rf,cf            4   0   2   0       0   0       1   0
Lanier ss              4   0   1   1       0   0       2   5
Fuentes 2b             4   2   3   0       0   1       1   8
Marichal p             1   0   0   0       0   0       0   1
  Gibbon p             0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Siebern ph           1   0   0   0       0   1       0   0
  Bolin p              0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Henry p              0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Hiatt ph             0   0   0   0       1   0       0   0
  Linzy p              0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
Totals                36   6  11   6       2   8      27  16

DP: 2.

2B: Cline (3,off Giusti).
3B: Davenport (1,off Giusti).
HR: Davenport (4,5th inning off Giusti 1 on, 2 out); Hart (17,8th inning off
Sherry 0 on, 0 out).
SH: Davenport (4,off Giusti); Marichal (2,off Giusti).
Team LOB: 7.

SB: Fuentes (1,2nd base off Giusti/Adlesh).


Houston Astros        IP     H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
Giusti W(6-8)          7     9   5   5   1   4   1
Sherry SV(1)           2     2   1   1   1   4   1
Totals                 9    11   6   6   2   8   2

San Francisco Giants  IP     H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
Marichal L(12-8)       5    10   7   7   1   3   2
Gibbon                 1     1   0   0   0   0   0
Bolin                  0.1   0   1   1   2   0   0
Henry                  1.2   2   0   0   0   3   0
Linzy                  1     0   0   0   0   0   0
Totals                 9    13   8   8   3   6   2

WP: Henry (1).

Umpires: Doug Harvey, John Kibler, Shag Crawford, Chris Pelekoudas

Time of Game: 2:50   Attendance: 14194

Play by Play
Starting Lineups:

   Houston Astros                San Francisco Giants     
1. Jackson             ss        Cline               cf
2. Morgan              2b        Davenport           3b
3. Wynn                cf        McCovey             1b
4. Staub               rf        Hart                lf
5. Mathews             1b        Haller              c
6. Miller              lf        Brown               rf
7. Aspromonte          3b        Lanier              ss
8. Adlesh              c         Fuentes             2b
9. Giusti              p         Marichal            p

ASTROS 1ST: Jackson grounded out (catcher to first); Morgan
singled to first; Morgan stole second; Wynn was called out on
strikes; Staub struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 0,
Giants 0.

GIANTS 1ST: Cline doubled to left; PERRY RAN FOR CLINE;
Davenport out on a sacrifice bunt (first unassisted) [Perry to
third]; McCovey grounded out (second to first) [Perry scored];
Hart popped to second; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 0, Giants 1.

center; Miller grounded into a double play (second to shortstop
to first) [Mathews out at second]; Aspromonte singled; Adlesh
popped to first in foul territory; 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros
0, Giants 1.

GIANTS 2ND: Haller grounded out (second to first); Brown made an
out to center; Lanier popped to first in foul territory; 0 R, 0
H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 0, Giants 1.

ASTROS 3RD: Giusti made an out to left; Jackson popped to third
in foul territory; Morgan made an out to center; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E,
0 LOB.  Astros 0, Giants 1.

GIANTS 3RD: Fuentes singled to center; Fuentes stole second;
Fuentes was picked off second but was safe on an error by Giusti
[Fuentes to third]; Marichal grounded out (second to first);
Mays struck out; Davenport tripled to right [Fuentes scored];
McCovey struck out; 1 R, 2 H, 1 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 0, Giants 2.

ASTROS 4TH: Wynn singled to left; Staub singled to third [Wynn
to second]; Mathews struck out; Miller homered [Wynn scored,
Staub scored]; Aspromonte made an out to right; Adlesh grounded
out (shortstop to first); 3 R, 3 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 3,
Giants 2.

GIANTS 4TH: Hart made an out to center; Haller grounded out
(first unassisted); Brown singled to left; Lanier grounded out
(pitcher to first); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 3, Giants 2.

ASTROS 5TH: Giusti grounded out (second to first); Jackson
grounded out (pitcher to first); Morgan grounded out (second to
first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 3, Giants 2.

GIANTS 5TH: Fuentes singled to center; Marichal out on a
sacrifice bunt (pitcher to second) [Fuentes to second]; Mays
struck out; Davenport homered [Fuentes scored]; McCovey popped
to shortstop; 2 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 3, Giants 4.

ASTROS 6TH: Wynn singled to right; Staub singled [Wynn to
second]; Mathews homered [Wynn scored, Staub scored]; Miller
walked; Aspromonte singled to left [Miller to second]; GIBBON
REPLACED MARICHAL (PITCHING); Adlesh grounded into a double play
(second to shortstop to first) [Miller to third, Aspromonte out
at second]; Giusti tripled to center [Miller scored]; Jackson
grounded out (second to first); 4 R, 5 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 7,
Giants 4.

GIANTS 6TH: Hart singled to center; Haller grounded out (first
unassisted) [Hart to second]; Brown made an out to right; Lanier
singled [Hart scored]; Fuentes singled to right [Lanier to
second]; SIEBERN BATTED FOR GIBBON; Siebern struck out; 1 R, 3
H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Astros 7, Giants 5.

DIETZ REPLACED MAYS (PLAYING C ); Morgan walked; Morgan was
caught stealing second (catcher to second); Wynn walked; HENRY
REPLACED BOLIN (PITCHING); Staub doubled to right [Wynn scored];
Henry threw a wild pitch [Staub to third]; Mathews struck out;
Miller struck out; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 8, Giants 5.

GIANTS 7TH: Dietz walked; Davenport grounded into a double play
(third to second to first) [Dietz out at second]; McCovey
grounded out (first unassisted); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros
8, Giants 5.

ASTROS 8TH: Aspromonte grounded out (second to first); Adlesh
grounded out (shortstop to first); LILLIS BATTED FOR GIUSTI;
Lillis singled to left; Jackson was called out on strikes; 0 R,
1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 8, Giants 5.

IN GAME (PLAYING 3B); Hart homered; Haller made an out to
second; Brown singled to shortstop; Lanier reached on a
fielder's choice [Brown to second (error by Morgan; assist by
Jackson)]; Fuentes was called out on strikes; HIATT BATTED FOR
HENRY; Hiatt walked [Brown to third, Lanier to second]; Dietz
was called out on strikes; 1 R, 2 H, 1 E, 3 LOB.  Astros 8,
Giants 6.

(second to first); Wynn grounded out (shortstop to first); Staub
grounded out (second to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 8,
Giants 6.

GIANTS 9TH: Davenport struck out; McCovey grounded out (second
to first); Hart struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 8,
Giants 6.

Final Totals      R   H   E  LOB
 Astros           8  13   2    5
 Giants           6  11   0    7