At about 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, Don Drysdale retired Willie Stargell on a ground ball to shortstop and concluded a monumental game for himself. With the 2-0 victory, Drysdale tied former teammate and holdout partner Sandy Koufax for the franchise lead and ninth all-time with 2,355 career strikeouts, and recorded his fortieth career shutout. Two hours after his historic achievement, Don Drysdale forgot all about baseball.
For the first hour after the game, Don was tied up with interviews. Then he and his wife went to the Stadium Club for a drink. They left the club about 12:20. “There were some kids waiting by the car to get autographs,” Don said, “Some of them had transistor radios. We were just getting in the car when they told us about it.”
“It,” of course, was the shooting of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. “It was a blow,” Drysdale said. “I just couldn’t believe it when I heard it. I couldn’t conceive of somebody doing something like this. I was absolutely shocked. I forgot about baseball…I just completely forgot baseball…I was just so doggone mad that something like this could happen.” Don’s wife was more shaken than he was. She has been a Kennedy supporter for years. “In 1960,” Don said, “Ginger campaigned for Jack Kennedy with Nat Cole’s wife and Sammy Cohn’s wife and Milton Berle’s wife. I met Jack and Bobby then. Ginger and I went to the inaugural.” The first thing Drysdale wanted to do after leaving the stadium was to get to a television set. The first place he thought of was the Short Stop, a Sunset Blvd. cocktail lounge operated by a friend. “I knew it would still be open,” Don said, “so I drove straight over there. We just sat there and watched the TV. The reports were very scrambled then. I guess we were there about a half hour. Then Ginger got so upset I decided we’d better go home.”
“We turned the TV on at home and watched everything we could until we both just gave out. I guess we were up till about 5 o’clock. Then we dozed off for an hour and we were back up again.” Like millions of others, Drysdale was concerned for the state of his society. “I was sitting there thinking of all the things wrong with this country,” he said. “If we could just buckle down and settle all the problems amongst ourselves…The laws of the land are fine, but if it’s going to take a complete rejuvenation of the laws to get the country back in shape, then I’m all in favor of that.”
In his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel Tuesday night, Sen Kennedy thanked many of those who had a hand in his California campaign. But before he got around to that, he said he wanted to congratulate the man who had pitched a three-hit shutout at Dodger Stadium that night. The senator expressed the hope that his campaign would proceed as smoothly as Drysdale pitched that night. It was about that time that Don and his wife were leaving the Stadium Club. “I was feeling great,” he said. “I didn’t have the wear and tear after this game the way I did after the Giant game or the game in Houston. Then we got out to the car and the kids told us.” And shutouts, strikeouts and his place in baseball history was suddenly forgotten.
Original story and quotes from Charles Maher’s column in the June 6, 1968 edition of the Los Angeles Times.