Dean Chance wins The Cy Young Award
The year was 1964, and it was magic. The magician's name was Dean Chance.
The stage on which the 23-year-old artist performed his act was the pitching mound. He was so good at this trade he often perplexed the entire American League.
Actually, when the year began there was little to indicate it was going to be special for Chance. In '62, his rookie campaign, he showed promise by winning 14 games in 24 decisions. However, the following year he went 13-18 with little support offensively.
Chance spent a good portion of the '63 off-season washing windows at a local gas station in Wooster, Ohio to supplement his meager income. He also entered spring training camp with a strep throat, falling more than a month behind his teammates in terms of conditioning.
Chance won his first game -- an 8-3 decision against Detroit on April 17 -- but was only 5-5 at the All-Star Break. His ERA of 2.19 indicated the blame lay not with his pitchiing so much as the team's lack of run production.
It was precisely at this point, however, when Chance's fortunes began to turn. Named by Chicago White Sox Manager Al Lopez to start the All-Star Game, the 6-3, 200-pounder proceeded to hurl three scoreless innings against the National League surrendering two hits while striking out two. Although the NL came back to win the contest 7-4, Chance, perhaps inspired by his performance -- as well as a $7,000 raise he received in early July, bringing his total earnings to $25,000 -- appeared ready to wage an all-out assault on the second half of the season.
Chance returned to league competition by winning nine straight games from July 11 through August 18. During the streak, Chance posted six shutouts (four by the score of 1-0), allowed only seven earned runs in 79 innings, struck out 61, and posted a spectacular 0.80 ERA.
Even more impressive was the way the Angels' dean handled the feared Bronx Bombers -- the same Yankees that would go on to represent the American League in the '64 World Series.
In an incredible show of dominance, Chance started five games against New York winning four. In one game, he hurled 14 scoreless innings without a decision. During 50 innings of work, the run-stingy Chance permitted the Yankees one run. That's right, one run, and that occurred July 28 when Mickey Mantle connected on a 3-2 fastball that hit the top of the right field fence and bounced over.
For the season, Chance's ERA against the Yankees was a miniscule 0.18.
The rest of the numbers Chance fashioned in 1964 were equally impressive:
A Major League-high 11 shutouts.
Five 1-0 victories, tying a Major League record.
Four 1-0 losses.
Five two-hitters, one three-hitter, four four-hitters and one five-hitter, not to mention a pair of saves.
A 20-9 record, including a 15-4 second half.
A 1.65 ERA, tops in the majors.
15 complete games, again, a Major League high.
All this and perhaps the most amazing statistic of all was in 278 1/3 innings of work, opponents scored runs in only 35 of them. Chance had thrown 243 1/3 scoreless frames.
For his efforts, Chance was named winner of the Cy Young Award. He received 17 of a possible 20 first-place votes in becoming the youngest player ever to receive baseball's most coveted honor for a pitcher.
He also secured a special place in Angels history, where his name is etched forever.