The day after Casey Wise had his career game on April 24, 1960, the Detroit Free Press ran a six-column headline at the top of the front page of the sports page: “Who Is This Mighty Casey Wise?”
It was a fair question, and the Free Press said he was “a curly-haired blond fellow,” but the newspaper failed to point out that he was the son of Hughie Wise, who appeared in two games as a catcher for the Tigers in 1930 with one start.
At the time, Kendall Cole Wise (they called him Casey for his first two initials) was early in his fourth major-league season. He had a career batting average of .182 (46-for-253) with one home run and 12 RBIs when the Tigers acquired him, Mike Roarke and Don Kaiser for Charlie Lau and Don Lee shortly after the end of the 1959 season.
Wise started the 1960 season 2-for-15, but on that Sunday afternoon at Briggs Stadium, he really was The Mighty Casey, and he did not strike out. The Tigers were playing the Chicago White Sox, with Paul Foytack on the mound for Detroit and future Hall-of-Famer Early Wynn pitching for Chicago.
Wise, who had spent one season with the Chicago Cubs and two with the Milwaukee Braves, started the game in place of regular shortstop Frank Bolling, who went home after the death of his newborn son. Wise hit second in the order, and he began a six-run rally in the first inning with a triple. It was just the second triple of his career. He was just getting started, although in the second inning he flied out to left field against reliever Frank Baumann.
Chicago had cut the lead to 6-3 by the bottom of the fourth, and Wise hit a two-run homer to deep left field off Baumann for his second career home run and first for the Tigers. He led off the bottom of the sixth with another home run to deep left field off Jake Striker to build Detroit’s lead to 9-3.
Wise had one more at-bat. In the bottom of the seventh inning, he singled home Foytack and Eddie Yost as the Tigers built a 12-3 lead, and they won 12-4. Wise finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored and five RBIs, and he was a double shy of the cycle with a single, triple and two home runs.
Wise, a switch-hitter, had his triple batting left-handed off the right-handed Wynn, but both of his home runs and his single came as a right-handed hitter against a pair of left-handed pitchers.
“I don’t know when I became a switch-hitter,” he said in the Free Press. ‘I guess I always was. … as long as I can remember I’ve been batting both ways. But if anything, I think I’m a more natural right-handed hitter. I seem to have more power that way.”
Wise seemed to know that what he had accomplished was unlikely to happen again.
“Man, don’t get too excited about me,” Wise said in the Detroit Free Press. “I’ve never had a day like this in my life, and I don’t know if I’ll have another.”
He was right. After that game, he went 0-for-24 before getting a hit and 4-for-48 the rest of the season.
RECAP: In Casey Wise’s standout game of April 24, 1960, he had:
The only four-hit game of his career (he had one other three-hit game)
The only two-homer game of his career (he had three total)
The only five-RBI game of his career (his second-best was two)
The only time he scored three runs in a game