Jim Maloney was in trouble.
It was the first inning of his Major League debut in front of 20,000 fans at Dodger Stadium. It was tough enough that Maloney was matched up against the great Don Drysdale, but he had allowed two singles and had runners on the corners with only one out.
He had run the count full against Dodgers right fielder Frank Howard. Maloney took a deep breath, adjusted his cap and toed the rubber.
Maloney checked the runners and delivered his best pitch. The pitch that Reds scout Bobby Mattick knew would make Maloney a star when he signed him out of the University of California at Berkeley in 1959.
Swing and a miss.
Maloney would get out of the inning by getting Duke Snider to pop up to second base, but that July 27, 1960 game was the beginning of one of the most dominate pitchers to wear a Reds uniform. Jim William Maloney went seven innings, gave up one run on six hits and struck out five. Although he was outdueled by Don Drysdale and lost the game 2-0, Maloney and his 99 MPH fastball would make headlines for the next decade.
In an era of great pitchers such as Drysdale, Koufax and Gibson, the often overshadowed Jim Maloney was the ace of a team that never quite put it all together.
As the blueprints for the Big Red Machine were being drawn up, Maloney was the consistent pitching star and by 1963 had become a dominate force in the National League. Maloney went 23-7 that season striking out a Reds record 265 batters. Only Sandy Koufax had a better year at 25-5, thus winning the Cy Young. On May 21 of that year, Maloney set a club record by fanning eight straight Milwaukee Braves to open up the game. 1963 was also the start of Maloney’s streak of seven straight years winning double digits games. He would also have four straight years of 200 strikeouts or more from 1963-1966.
In 1965, on his way to a 20-9 season, Maloney pitched in two games in which he did not allow a hit through nine innings. On June 14 at Crosley Field, Maloney went into the 11th inning with a no-hitter only to see the Mets Johnny Lewis lead off the inning with a home run. It was the only run of the game and Maloney lost 1-0. Maloney had 18 K’s for the game to set a Reds record. On August 19 at Wrigley Field, Maloney once again took a no-hitter into extra innings. This time however, the Reds backed him up when Leo Cardenas smacked a solo home run to give Maloney his no-hitter and a Reds 1-0 victory. Four years later on April 30, Jim Maloney would get another no-hitter by beating the Astros 10-0.
Unfortunately, injuries would bring Maloney’s great career to an end at the age 0f 31. But from 1960-1970, Jim Maloney would win 134 games and his 1,592 career strikeouts are a club record. Maloney pitched 30 shutouts, had three no-hitters, five one-hitters, and nine two-hitters.
There has never been a pitcher in Reds history that was as dominate as Jim Maloney.
(Editor’s Note: Cam mentioned the game in which Maloney whiffed eight consecutive Braves. That game occurred 50 years ago today. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has nice detail on Maloney’s feat. As always with Jaffe, it is a highly suggested read.)