Published: May 04, 1999
Joe Adcock, the Milwaukee Braves' strapping first baseman who put on some of baseball's most remarkable displays of power hitting and broke up the longest no-hit game in major league history, died yesterday at his home in Coushatta, La. He was 71.
He had Alzheimer's disease, his family said.
Teaming up with Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews in a fearsome lineup of the 1950's, the right-handed-batting, 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound Adcock achieved a host of long-ball feats on the way to 336 career home runs.
Adcock hit the first major league home run to land in the center-field bleachers at the Polo Grounds since the park had been reconfigured in 1923, connecting on a 475-foot drive off the Giants' Jim Hearn on April 29, 1953. Luke Easter had reached the bleachers in a Negro leagues game in 1948. Lou Brock, then with the Chicago Cubs, and Aaron would match Adcock's feat on successive days against the Mets in 1962.
Adcock established the major league record for total bases, at 18, when he hit four home runs and a double against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field on July 31, 1954.
On June 17, 1956, Adcock hit the only ball to clear the 83-foot-high, left-field roof at Ebbets Field, a homer off Ed Roebuck that sailed out above the 350-foot mark.
Adcock delivered a memorable drive after the Pittsburgh Pirates' Harvey Haddix had pitched 12 perfect innings against the Braves at County Stadium in Milwaukee the night of May 26, 1959.
Locked in a 0-0 encounter, Haddix lost his perfect game when the Braves' Felix Mantilla reached first base on third baseman Don Hoak's throwing error with none out in the 13th inning. Mantilla moved to second on a sacrifice, and Aaron was walked intentionally. Adcock then drove the ball over the right-center-field fence for an apparent home run and a 3-0 victory.
Mantilla scored, but Aaron raced across the diamond toward home plate, and Adcock was called out for passing Aaron on the basepaths. Adcock was given a double, and the game became a 1-0 Braves victory.
''The wind had been blowing in all night, and maybe it was a freak because when I came to bat, the flag in center field was still,'' Adcock would recall. ''I was thinking he'd been keeping the ball away from me all night and maybe he'd do it again, and he did and I hit it.''
Adcock was an intimidating presence even without a bat. After being hit on the wrist by the Giants right-hander Ruben Gomez at Milwaukee in July 1956, Adcock charged at Gomez. The pitcher then threw the baseball at Adcock, hitting him on the thigh, and raced into the New York dugout with Adcock in pursuit. Gomez, 4 inches shorter and 45 pounds lighter than Adcock, escaped. Gomez was suspended by the National League for three days.
A native of Coushatta, Adcock was signed by the Cincinnati Reds out of Louisiana State University, which he attended on a basketball scholarship, and made his major league debut in 1950. He had a career batting average of .277 over 17 seasons with the Reds, Braves, Indians and Angels.
He managed Cleveland to an eighth-place finish in 1967.
He is survived by his wife, Joan; a son, Jay; three daughters, Jan Adams, Jill Kennedy and Jeannie Worsham; a sister, Mary Ann Brown, and eight grandchildren.