Showing posts with label Cups of Coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cups of Coffee. Show all posts

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cups of Coffee: Rafael Montalvo

This is the fifth in a series of posts about Astros players in franchise history who played in one career Major League game. The first post was the sad tale of Jay Dahl, then the sort-of-awesome tale of John Paciorek, then the wholly unique tale of Larry Yount. Today we take a look at pitcher Rafael Montalvo.

Rafael Edgardo Montalvo was born on March 31, 1964 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He left the 10th grade to sign a minor-league contract with the Dodgers as a 16-year old (leaving high school was a decision he would later regret), Montalvo found himself in the Dodgers' organization playing in Rookie ball against opponents who were, on average, four years older than he. In 31IP for the Pioneer League's Lethbridge Dodgers in Lethbridge, Alberta, he would go 4-2, allowing 37H/17ER, with 18K:16BB. Incidentally, the 1980 Lethbridge Dodgers would go 52-18.

Given his youth and middling success, Montalvo spent the 1981 season repeating in Lethbridge, and struggled even more. He threw only 20IP, posting a 5.40 ERA/2.05 WHIP, with 11K:13BB as a 17-year old. The Dodgers promoted him to the A-ball Lodi of the California League, anyway, and he rewarded them in 1982 with a 3.44 ERA/1.43 WHIP. The walks were a concern (38K:33BB in 70.2IP), but he was able to pitch out of jams. 

He spent 1983 in the Florida League's Vero Beach, where he had the best season of his career: 75.1IP, 61H/13ER, 55K:31BB - a 1.55 ERA/1.22 WHIP. This got him a promotion - at 20 - to Double-A San Antonio, and when he put up a 1.99 ERA/1.28 WHIP in 20 games, he was promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque. In 63.1IP he put up a 4.41 ERA/1.78 WHIP. Still, he was in his Age 20 season.

1985 saw Montalvo back in Albuquerque, where he went 2-7 with 13 saves and a 4.20 ERA. But the Astros thought enough of him that, on July 10, the Dodgers traded him and minor-leaguer German Rivera to the Astros for Enos Cabell, a south Los Angeles native. When he got traded to the Astros, Albuquerque was playing Tucson at home, so Montalvo just moved his gear from the home clubhouse to the visitors clubhouse. Montalvo spent the rest of the 1985 season in Triple-A Tucson, going 1-2 with four saves and a 5.35 ERA in 22 appearances. 

1985 was Enos Cabell's 14th year in the majors, and he would retire from baseball the following year. At the time he was traded, Cabell - a lifetime .277/.308/.370 hitter - was hitting .245/.321/.357 in 60 games at 1B. Having spent a lot of his career at Third Base, however, made him attractive to the Dodgers, who needed help. The Dodgers optioned 1B Sid Bream to Triple-A to make room for Cabell.

While Enos Cabell would hit .292/.340/.349 for the Dodgers over the rest of 1985, but Cabell's real headline of that 1985 summer was that he was one of 22 players involved in the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. Cabell testified that he had used cocaine "off and on" from 1978 to 1984, (he played with the Astros from 1975-1980, and 1984) along with many of his Astros and Giants teammates (including J.R. Richard) and that, while on cocaine, "I usually got two or three hits...I always peformed well." One Dodgers player said that he had bought cocaine from Cabell

Cabell was among the players who received the harshest penalty for - as commissioner Peter Ueberroth said, was "a prolonged pattern of drug use...and in some fashion facilitated the distribution of drugs in baseball." Cabell was then subjected to random drug testing and could choose to either be suspended for the 1986 season, or lose 10% of his 1986 salary ($45,000) and perform 100 hours of community service to a drug-related program. Cabell hit .256/.294/.318 in 107 games for LA in 1986, the final year of his 15-year career.

Despite Montalvo's minor-league numbers, the Astros saw the movement on Montalvo's sinkers and sliders and projected him for a middle relief role on the 1986 team. In Spring Training 1986, Houston manager Hal Lanier noted that Montalvo's pitches "have a lot of movement."

The 1986 Astros opened the season with six games in the Astrodome, after dropping the first two games of the season to the Giants, the Astros rattled off three straight and were facing the Braves to try to complete the sweep on Sunday, April 13.

Mike Scott was making his 2nd start of the season. In G2 of the 1986 season, Scott gave up 8H/3ER, 4K:1BB in 5IP to the Giants, a game in which the Astros lost 4-1. Scott was facing the Braves' Joe Johnson, who would record 13 of his 20 career wins in 1986.

The two pitchers traded perfect half-innings in the 1st but Scott faltered in the 2nd, allowing a single, steal, and a walk before an Ken Oberkfell single plated the first Braves' run. Johnson mowed down the Astros with three groundouts in the bottom of the 2nd. Scott responded with a flyball, strikeout, groundout in the top of the 3rd. Johnson got Bailey, Hatcher, and Scott to remain perfect through three innings. Again Scott stumbled in the top of the 4th: two singles to open the inning were followed by a Billy Sample home run. Two errors resulted in another Braves run before catcher Mark Bailey threw out leadoff hitter Omar Moreno to end the inning. The Braves were up 5-0 in the middle of the 4th.

The Astros got one back when a passed ball scored Bill Doran, who had singled to open the bottom of the 4th inning to make it 5-1. In the top of the 6th, Chris Chambliss and Billy Sample singled to open the inning, chasing Scott from the game in favor of reliever Mike Madden. A sac fly from Oberkfell made it 6-1 and Madden pitched around a single and a walk to at least limit the damage. The Astros got two runs back in the bottom of the 6th to make it 6-3 Braves.

Madden ran back out for the 7th and got two quick outs before three straight singles scored another Braves run, the inning only ending because Billy Sample was thrown out at home on a relay from Kevin Bass to Mike Madden to Mark Bailey. Alan Ashby pinch-hit for Madden and flew out to left, but a Phil Garner triple brought in two runs to make it 7-5 Braves.

Coming out of the bullpen for the 7th inning, in his first major league appearance was reliever Rafael Montalvo. He got Glenn Hubbard to pop up, got Ozzie Virgil to fly out to left. Omar Moreno hit a two-out triple, but Rafael Ramirez grounded out to Montalvo to end the inning, stranding Moreno on 3rd.

Kevin Bass, Dickie Thon, and Mark Bailey were all retired in order, and Montalvo went back to work for the top of the 9th, trying to hold the Braves' lead at 7-5. He walked Dale Murphy to lead off the inning, and then walked pinch-hitter Bob Horner. That was all Hal Lanier needed to see, and Frank DiPino was called in to replace Montalvo. Murphy later scored on a Ken Oberkfell single, which was charged to Montalvo, and Bob Horner was thrown out at home on a rope from left fielder Eric Bullock. It was 8-5 Braves.

A Phil Garner single off future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter plated Craig Reynolds and Bill Doran to make it 8-7 Braves, but Glenn Davis grounded into a double play to end the game and sealing the Atlanta win.

Montalvo never appeared in a Major-League game again. Following that one appearance (1IP, 1H/1ER, 0K:2BB) Montalvo was sent back to Tucson, where he posted a 3.86 ERA in 77IP. He would pitch in Tucson through the 1988 season. He missed 1989, but put up a 2.74 ERA for the California Angels' Triple-A team in Edmonton in 1990. Montalvo bounced between Double-A and Triple-A in 1991, with a disappointing 6.00 ERA/1.85 WHIP.

The Astros, though starting 3-3, would win 11 of their next 14 games, ending April with a 14-6 record and setting the tone for the team that would eventually lose to the 1986 Mets in one of the most classic playoff series in franchise history.

After a 3-year hiatus from baseball, Montalvo made his way back to the Dodgers for 1995 Spring training, 15 years after making his professional debut. The reason? The 1994 Players' Strike had extended into 1995, and baseball teams were using replacement players to fill out their Spring Training rosters. Montalvo was one of 40 players who volunteered to cross the picket line and play. Montalvo pitched the Dodgers' Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees' Frank Eufemia, who had only ever played for the 1985 Twins.

Even though that Grapefruit League opener had a police escort to protect the players against possible violence from irate fans, Montalvo wasn't worried:

I've been through some scary situations in Mexico, but I don't think the people in this country will throw rocks or bottles. Police will be there to protect us, anyway.

Montalvo made a guaranteed $7,000 per month plus a $5,000 signing bonus and $3,000 in meal money, the standard Dodgers guarantee for Triple-A players. And that's where Montalvo spent his 1995 season: Albuquerque. He put up a career-best 2.65 ERA in 98.1IP.

And that was it for Rafael Montalvo until 1999, when at Age 35 he pitched for the Independent League Atlantic City Surf, which also included Ruben Sierra and Rey Quinones.

After that 1999 season, Montalvo joined the Rays organization as a minor-league coach. From 2002-2004, Montalvo was the pitching coach for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League, and he rejoined the team from 2007-09. The 2004 Renegades pitching staff - under Montalvo - had the second-lowest team ERA in all of minor-league baseball.

Montalvo now lives in Qatar with his wife.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cups of Coffee: Larry Yount

This is the third in a series of posts about Astros players in franchise history who played in one career Major League game. The first post was the sad tale of Jay Dahl, then the sort-of-awesome tale of John Paciorek. Today we take a look at the bizarre - and wholly unique tale - of Larry Yount.

Larry Yount was born on February 15, 1950 in Houston, Texas, but graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, California - the alma mater of Larry Dierker, Gabe Kapler and, of course, brother and future Hall of Famer Robin Yount. Yount went to Arizona State and became the Astros' 5th Round pick in the 1968 draft - a draft that, including Yount, only produced four Major Leaguers. Of those four, only Ken Forsch posted higher than a 0.2 WAR.

Yount was sent to Greensboro of the Carolina League for his professional debut in 1968 and went 1-4 with a 4.21 ERA as the youngest pitcher on the team by two years, and was briefly teammates with Forsch. He made the jump to Triple-A Oklahoma City and went 0-3 with a 5.85 ERA/1.60 WHIP to round out his first minor-league season.

In 1969, Yount split time between the Instructional League and Peninsula of the Carolina League, posting an 11-6 record with a 2.27 ERA/1.23 WHIP, but struggled with walks - 56 of them in 103IP. He made the jump to Double-A in 1970 with Columbus in the Southern League, and cut his walks drastically - to 2.8 BB/9, going 12-8 with a 2.84 ERA/1.12 WHIP in a career-high 184IP.

In their inaugural season in 1970, the Columbus Astros - led by Yount, Forsch, and Cesar Cedeno - edged the Montgomery Rebels for the Southern League title by one percentage point, .569 to .568, going 78-59 while the Rebels played two more games and went 79-60.

Yount spent Spring Training with the big-league club in 1971, and was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City for the season. Over the previous two seasons, across three levels, Yount had thrown 287IP, allowing 219H/84ER, with 247K:114BB. He made 22 starts for the 89ers, second on the team behind a 21-year old pitcher named J.R. Richard, and went 5-8 with a 4.86 ERA/1.60 WHIP as his control issues reared their ugly head once more, walking 5.5 per nine, throwing ten wild pitches and hitting nine batters. The team finished 71-69, two games behind Denver for the West Division title.

With the minor-league season over, the 21-year old Yount had to spend a week to fulfill a military obligation, but was called up to the Astros upon his return. Yount said in 1989:
I was just sitting around for a week and hadn't done anything. I usually had some stiffness when I had come back from other layoffs and there was no question at the time that I had no business trying to pitch that soon. But I was a 21-year old kid, and like any 21-year old, I wasn't going to turn down a chance to show them what I could do.

1971 was the Astros' tenth season in existence. They would go on to post a 79-83 record, their tenth straight season at .500 or below, but 1972 would bring the team their first winning record. September 1971 saw the Astros fighting to get there, though. From September 5-13 the team won eight straight games - the last seven on the road - and they had taken both games in a two-game set at Atlanta on September 6/7. September 14 would mark the first game in a ten-game homestand with the Astros in 4th place, ten games back. The Astros dropped both games against the Padres to open up the homestretch, and would face the Braves at the Astrodome on September 15 and 16 sitting at 73-75.

Phil Niekro got the start for the Braves, facing Houston's Jack Billingham. The Astros got a run across in the bottom of the 1st to take a 1-0 lead, the last lead of the game. Billingham gave the run right back in the 2nd. Tied 1-1, the Braves took a 3-1 lead in the 4th, and then, in the 5th inning, Hank Aaron hit the 636th homer of his career to put the Braves up 4-1 and end Billingham's night.

Side Note: Following the season, Jack Billingham would be sent to Cincinnati along with Ed Armbrister, Denis Menke, Cesar Geronimo, and Joe Morgan for Tommy Helms, Lee May, and Jimmy Stewart. On April 4, 1974 Billingham gave up the homer that tied Aaron with Babe Ruth for career home runs. 

Reliever Skip Guinn, making his 2nd appearance for the Astros in 1971, would hold the Braves there, throwing 3IP alllowing a hit and walking three - one intentionally - but no earned runs. Down 4-1 in the bottom of the 8th, the Astros pinch-hit for Guinn with Rich Chiles, who flew out. Roger Metzger also flew out, and Joe Morgan grounded out to first to end the inning.

Warming up in the bullpen for the top of the 9th was Larry Yount. Yount hadn't pitched yet for the Astros despite being with the team for a week. Due up for the Braves was Ralph Garr, who came into the game hitting .332/.364/.428 and this guy named Hank Aaron.

"I'll tell you how much I remember: I can't remember whether it was in the Astrodome or Atlanta."
-Larry Yount

Yount's elbow had been bothering him, but he wanted to pitch. "I knew that I couldn't pitch when I went to the mound from the bullpen," Yount told the Milwaukee Journal in 1989, "but I tried it anyway...Maybe it had something to do with Henry Aaron was coming up."

The PA announcer said his name and home plate umpire Ed Sudol wrote Yount's name on the lineup card. Yount threw another warm-up pitch with his aching arm. He threw another warm-up pitch and "it felt like someone had stuck a cattle prod" in his right elbow.

"You figure you'll run out to the mound," Yount said, "that the adrenaline will be pumping and that you'll figure out what's wrong. I threw a couple of pitches and said, 'Something's wrong,' then called the coach. That might have been the most sensible thing I've done."

The diagnosis was tendonitis, which cleared up with rest and Yount went off to the instructional league, where he pitched well and, incidentally, got his real estate license. He struck out the first six batters he faced in Spring Training in 1972, but he was the last player sent to the minors before Opening Day.

Yount started at Oklahoma City 3-0, but faltered his way to a 5-14 record with a 5.15 ERA/1.66 WHIP, striking out 112 but walking 85 batters in 166IP.

"I completely lost the ability to throw the ball over the plate. I just got progressively more screwed up. I couldn't throw it near the plate," Yount told the LA Times.

In 1973, Yount again was in Triple-A, this season with new affiliate Denver. He went 3-12 with a 6.79 ERA/1.91 WHIP in the thin mountain air. He struck out 69 batters and walked 89. And so on March 30, 1974 Yount was traded to Milwaukee with Don Stratton for Wilbur Howard. Howard would play in five seasons for the Astros, hitting .252/.285/.327.

Yount, meanwhile, was with the Brewers, the home organization of his younger brother Robin. Six days after Yount was traded to Milwaukee, Robin - the Brewers' 1st Round pick in 1973 - would make his Major-League debut at the age of 18 and begin a career that would culminate in 3,142 hits (still 18th all-time) and a Hall of Fame election in 1999.

Yount tried to get his head straight. He went to Maury Wills' psychologist and also to talk to his high school coach Ray O'Connor, who told him that his mechanics were so messed up by his coaches that he couldn't find himself anymore. "He couldn't come close to the plate...I don't think his coaches were smart enough to develop the tools he already had," O'Connor told the LA Times. "They took him and tried to make him into what they wanted."

Yount did not pitch in 1974. He came back in 1975 between Single-A Burlington and Double-A Thetford Mines, posting an 8-16 record with a combined 4.82 ERA/1.72 WHIP, his walk problem not yet solved: 83 walks in 153IP with 62 strikeouts. The Brewers released him in 1976.

And so, Larry Yount of the Houston Astros has one of the more heart-breaking lines in baseball history:

Yount turned to real estate, using the license he got while in the instructional league the fall after his lone appearance in the majors to build LKY Development. He also served as his younger brother Robin's agent throughout his career. The two had been in business together for some time and owned land near where the Diamondbacks planned to build Chase Field and put a brewery on the Chase Field complex.

I had plenty of opportunities to make it back. Nobody can say I didn't have the chance.

Check out the fantastic Baseball Project's "Larry Yount:"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cups of Coffee: John Paciorek

This is the second in a series of posts about Astros players in franchise history who played in one career Major League game. The first post was the sad tale of Jay Dahl

John Paciorek - September 29, 1963

Born on February 11, 1945, John Paciorek was a three-sport star St. Ladislaus High School in Hamtramck, Michigan. He had football scholarship offers from Alabama and Michigan. Paciorek told Sports Illustrated that being a baseball player was all he had ever wanted to do. "I thought I was as good as anybody I'd ever seen, and I wanted to prove it."

SI wrote that Colt .45s GM Paul Richards went to Michigan in 1962 to persuade Paciorek to sign with Houston, taking the family out to dinner. Younger brother, and future Major Leaguer, Tom Paciorek said, "They took us to this fancy restaurant in Detroit. We ate steaks, and when they asked John if he wanted anything else, he said, 'Yeah, I'll take another one of those steaks.'" Richards signed Paciorek for $45,000 - "an enormous amount of money for the son of a Plymouth factory worker." $15,000 went to his family, and John's father insisted the Colt .45s include a scholarship fund to pay for Paciorek's future college education.

In his pro debut in 1967 for Modesto in the California League, Paciorek hit .219 with 28 extra-base hits in 78 games.

The Colts and Mets faced off against each other in the final series of the 1963 season (one game of which was the All-Rookie Game, which was highlighted in the Jay Dahl episode). On Sunday, September 29, in front of 3,899 fans at Colts Stadium, 18-year old John Paciorek - who had been dealing with back problems all season - got the start in right field, hitting 7th in a lineup that included Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn, and Rusty Staub. "They asked me if I wanted to play," Paciorek told the LA Times in 1991, "And I said 'yeah.'"

The game didn't mean much of anything - the Colts came into the game 65-96, 34 games back in the National League; the Mets were 51-110, 48 games back. But the Mets and Colts had split the first two games of the series and the season finale was the rubber match.

Larry Bearnarth got the start for the Mets. He was 3-7 coming into that game with a 3.06 ERA in 123.1IP in his rookie season, but with 56 of his 57 appearances to that point in the season coming in relief. That Sunday game was just the second ML start of his career. Meanwhile, rookie Chris Zachary got the start for the .45s. Zachary was coming off a September 24 start in which he held the Pirates to 3H/1ER in 6.1IP.

With two outs, Bob Aspromonte on 1st base, and a scoreless tie in the bottom of the 2nd, Paciorek stepped in for his first career Major League plate appearance, and drew a walk. He and Aspromonte scored one batter later when John Bateman cracked a 2-run triple to open the scoring.

By the time Paciorek's turn came up again in the bottom of the 4th, the Mets had taken a 4-2 lead. Rusty Staub, Aspromonte, and Ivan Murrell opened the inning with three consecutive singles, loading the bases for Paciorek. Paciorek tied the game with a single to left. He was 1x1 with a walk and 2RBI, and would score when Pete Runnels hit a sac fly to right.

Now up 7-4 on the Mets in the bottom of the 5th, Aspromonte led off the inning with a triple. Murrell fouled out on a popup to first base, and Paciorek came up to bat for a third time. Once again he singled to left, scoring Aspromonte. Paciorek was 2x2 with a walk, three runs scored, and 3RBI.

Paciorek faced his 3rd pitcher of the night in Grover Powell in the bottom of the 6th, with the Colts up 11-4. Ivan Murrell struck out to lead off the inning and Paciorek drew a one out walk. He would - once again - score on a Bob Lillis single, and by the end of the 6th was 2x2 with two walks, four runs scored, and 3RBI.

Up 13-4 in the bottom of the 8th, the fans remaining in the stadium gave Paciorek a standing ovation. He singled to left field. His line? 3x3, two walks, four runs scored, and three RBI. The .45s won, 13-4.

The Houston Post gave Paciorek "the unofficial major league batting title...The rest of (Paciorek's) career may be an anticlimax. The New York Times wrote in their game recap that Paciorek "found nothing difficult about the majors," and "he doesn't yet know what it's like to make an out in the big leagues."

"I don't remember any interviews after the game," Pacriorek later said, but the next day my name was plastered all over the news. They said, 'This guy's here to stay."

After Paciorek hit a bases-loaded triple in the 5th inning of a 1964 Spring Training game against the Mets, Murray Chass - yes, that Murray Chass - wrote that the Mets "may file an unfair child labor charge against the Houston Colts if young John Paciorek continues harrassing them."

Despite that outing, Paciorek opened the 1964 season in the minors between Durham and Statesville, of the Low-A Carolina League and Western Carolinas League, respectively. In 39 games for Durham, Paciorek hit .155 (18x116) and .063 (2x32, 21K) with Statesville, and underwent back surgery that season, spent 10 months in a back brace, and missed the entire 1965 season. He came back for 1966 where he hit a combined .193 in 77 games for Batavia and Salisbury. The Astros gave Paciorek one more shot in 1967 - he played in 32 games, hit .104 for Asheville and Cocoa, and was released. But Paciorek didn't hold a grudge against Houston, "They gave me every opportunity to make the team...they bent over backward for me."

Cleveland invited him to Spring Training in 1968, and made it back to Double-A for only 29 games in 1969.

Paciorek retired after the 1969 season, a 24-year old with chronic back problems. He enrolled at the University of Houston and graduated with a degree in physical education. Paciorek, who has been a P.E. teacher for 38 years for the Clairbourn School in Southern California, told, "I'd have to say I've had it pretty good; I'm very happy."

As it is, Paciorek is one of 80 Major League players to have a career 1.000 batting average - but 79 of those players were 1x1 or 2x2. Paciorek stands alone as the only player with at least five plate appearances to have a career 1.000/1.000/1.000 slash line.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cups of Coffee: Jay Dahl

I think it's safe to say that one always dreams of playing just one game in the Majors. Well, seven players in Astros franchise history got that one game, and no more. Here is the first of those seven stories.

Jay Dahl - September 27, 1963

The Colt .45s signed pitcher Jay Dahl right out of Bloomington (CA) High School in June 1963, and made his professional debut for Moultrie in the Georgia-Florida League. In his first professional game Dahl threw a complete game, striking out 17 Brunswick Cardinals, and allowed one hit - a solo homer in the 9th that proved to be the game-winning run. It was his only loss that season as Dahl went 5-1, posting a 1.33 ERA/0.92 WHIP. Dahl made a spot-start for Double-A San Antonio in 163, allowing 3H/1R (0ER).

The Colt .45s were terrible in 1963 - they were 64-95 with attendance averaging under 9,000 fans per game. The Colt .45s played their final nine games of the 1963 season at home and in the first six games of that final homestand, only the Friday night game (September 20th, 1963) saw attendance above 4,000. The following game on September 21 brought in the smallest recorded crowd of 1963 at Colt Stadium...2,231 fans.

So as an attempt to boost attendance, the Colt .45s announced the "All-Rookie Game" on September 27, 1963, in which the Colt .45s fielded a team comprised solely of rookies. Larry Yellen was ticketed to start the game for the Colts but was observing Yom Kippur, so 17-year old Jay Dahl got the start with a lineup behind him that included Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, Jimmy Wynn, Aaron Pointer (brother of the Pointer Sisters), and Sonny Jackson. Fifteen rookies made it into the game before Carl Warwick broke up the All-Rookie lineup in the 8th inning. Dahl would be the youngest pitcher to start a Major League game since Joe Nuxhall in 1945

Dahl got two groundouts and a lineout in the first inning to retire the Mets in order. Frank Thomas led off the 2nd inning with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Jim Hickman singled in Thomas after Colts left-fielder Brock Davis committed an error. Dahl retired Tim Harkness and Chris Cannizzaro on groundouts (which scored Hickman). Al Moran reached on an error to shortstop Sonny Jackson, and Al Jackson's single scored Moran. Joe Christopher flied out to end the inning, with the Mets taking a 3-0 lead.

The Colt .45s left two on base in the bottom of the 2nd, and Dahl came out for the 3rd. He allowed a leadoff single followed by an RBI double by R Hunt. Frank Thomas fouled out, but Hickman singled to make it 5-0 Mets. Harkness grounded out, and Cannizzaro singled again to end Dahl's day. Danny Coombs replaced Dahl, who promptly allowed both inherited runners to score, and the Mets would go on to win 10-3. The only Colts extra-base hit was a triple by Joe Morgan in the 9th inning though he, Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub, and Glenn Vaughan would record two hits on the day. Dahl's line? 2.2IP, 7H/7R (5ER), 0K:0BB. And 5,803 fans were there to see it.

Back problems in 1964 prevented Dahl from pitching, though he did appear in eleven games as an outfielder for Salisbury in the Western Carolinas League. Dahl was back on the mound in 1965, starting at Durham in the Carolina League where he went 1-1 in seven starts with a 4.50 ERA/1.79 WHIP. He was sent back to Salisbury and posted a 5-0 record with a 2.1 ERA/1.13 WHIP, allowing 27 hits in 38IP (there is no strikeout data for the Western Carolinas League in 1965).

On the afternoon of June 19, 1965 Dahl pitched for Salisbury, beating Gastonia 7-3, which propelled Salisbury into first place. That evening the players were guests at the home of Salisbury club president G.M. Hamilton, who treated the team to a steak dinner. Dahl, teammate Gary Marshall, and former Salisbury beauty contestant and 20-year old secretary Patricia Ann Troutman attended a movie and were returning home in Marshall's GTO "at a high rate of speed" when it hit a patch of sand and skidded for 185 feet and broadsided a tree, killing Troutman instantly. Dahl died of internal injuries thee hours later - early on the morning of June 20, 1965 - at Rowan Memorial Hospital in Salisbury, and Marshall broke his arm, leg, had his left eye removed, and damaged the vision in his right eye to the point where he was blind.

Marshall was initially charged with manslaughter, but  Dahl's and Troutman's parents declined to pursue the charges, and he returned to Hutchinson, Kansas. Marshall would later move to Dallas, ministering to the newly blind, and he passed away in 2008 at 62 years old.

At Age 19, Dahl is the youngest player in Major League history to pass away.