Mel Famous of the St. Louis Browns could've been one of the greatest relief pitchers in baseball history had it not been for his love of the brew. One day in 1952, it all came to a head. Mel got called in to pitch in a 9-9 tie game with the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. The bases were loaded in the bottom of the 9th for the Sens and former Brown Ken Wood was at the plate with 2 men out.
When Mel got the call from Manager Hornsby, he was about two swigs away from finishing his 9th cool beer of the day in the bullpen. You see, Mel had decided earlier that the 6.2 innings he had pitched and the 11 earned runs he had belched up the day before would pretty much make him the last call in this situation. Not so, Mel. You gotta remember who's managing this club.
Grasping the situation he was in as well as he could, Mel chugged down the rest of his beer, stuck the empty bottle in his back right pocket, and then staggered in from the bullpen to meet the dour Hornsby at the mound. "You sure you're OK to pitch, boy?" asked the dubious manager as Mel almost fell off the mound while waiting for the Rajah to stop rubbing up the ball and let him have it. "I'm the best rubber-legged pitcher you got, Mr. Hornsby," Mel slurred respectfully with his right pitching hand extended out, "just gimme the ball!" Rogers Hornsby flipped the ball to Mel Famous with one final wordless smirk and then turned sharply and stormed back to the Brownie dugout.
The short of it from here is easy to tell. The inebriated Brownie reliever walked Senators batter Ken Wood on four straight pitches that all could have as easily been wild pitch game-enders. As a result of four valiant stops by catcher Clint Courtney, the end only comes when the fourth pitch converts to a bases-loaded walk that forces in the winning run and a 10-9 Washington victory.
Floyd Baker of the Senators scores the winning run from 3rd and then races to first to join in the celebration with Ken Wood, where other Senator teammates are already sarcastically offering their congratulations to him for his "good eye" on working the easy walk. All of a sudden, a beer bottle comes flying between the close smiling faces of Baker and Wood. All eyes reflexively turn to the direction from which it seemed to launch, the pitching mound. All they see now is a red-faced portly Hornsby jumping up and down and screaming profusely in the face of his failed relief pitcher. As it turns out, it will be the last pitching appearance for Mr. Mel Famous with the St. Louis Browns or anywhere else. Following his post-game release by the Browns, he never pitches again.
Meanwhile, Floyd Baker has picked up the amber-colored bottle that almost hit both he and Ken Wood.
"What was that all about?" Baker asks.
"That, my little buddy," Ken Wood drawls, as he then repeats the start of his statement for extra emphasis to his answer, "that is nothing more, and nothing less, than this . . .
. . . that's the beer that made Mel Famous walk me!"