Former Dodger catcher Dick Dietz dead at 63

Former Dodger catcher Dick Dietz died June 28 of a heart attack at age 63. He will be buried in Greenville, S.C. An All-Star catcher who played mostly with the San Francisco Giants, Dietz hit .161 for the Dodgers in 1972, collecting one homer and knocking in six runs. During his career, Dietz hit .261 with 66 home runs and 301 RBI from 1966-73. He finished his career with Los Angeles and Atlanta.

However, Dietz is forever entwined in Dodger history for what happened at Dodger Stadium on the night of May 31, 1968.

Don Drysdale was in the midst of a scoreless inning streak that would reach a major league record of 58 2/3 scoreless innings. He was after his fifth straight shutout when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers led 3-0 when Willie McCovey walked, Jim Ray Heart singled and Dave Marshall walked to load the bases with none out. Nate Oliver ran for McCovey at third base.

Dietz was the fourth batter of the inning and the count went to 2-2 when a pitch grazed his left elbow, presumably forcing Oliver over the plate and ending the streak.

But plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled that Dietz did not try to get out of the way of the ball.

The next day, Giants' pitcher Juan Marshal confided to Drysdale that Dietz had said in he dugout before the came to bat, "If it's anything but a fastball, I'll take one and that will end the streak right there."

The Giants, led by manager Herman Franks and coach Penuts Lowrey, argued the call loudly and long, delaying the game 25 minutes but Dietz returned to the plate with the count 3-2 and still no one out.

He fouled a ball off, then lifted a soft fly to short left field. Jim Fairey caught the ball and Oliver had to hold at third base.

Ty Cline was the next batter, pinch-hitting for Hal Lanier. He smashed the ball on the ground to Wes Parker at first base and he fired home for a force play at the plate. Jack Hiatt popped to Parker to end the threat and the game.

The shutout tied the record of five straight set by Doc White set in 1904 and 45 consecutive zeros. Drysdale went on to pitch a sixth straight shutout and set the record at 58.2 innings, later broken by Orel Hershiser in 1988.

Oddly enough, Howie Bedell of the Phillies knocked in the run that ended the string of scoreless innings. Bedell batted only nine times that season, had one hit and one sacrifice fly, the only run batted in he had in 1968.