April 30th-Mays joins prestigious group

DSCN21301961 | MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – Here’s something you don’t see everyday – 4 home runs by the same guy in a 9-inning game. On this date in 1961, Willie Mays became just the 5th player in major league baseball’s modern era (since 1901) to do it, as his San Francisco Giants beat the Milwaukee Braves (today’s Atlanta Braves) 14-4.

Baseballs flew out of Milwaukee County Stadium on that Sunday afternoon in Wisconsin. Besides Mays’ 4 round-trippers, teammate Jose Pagan hit 2 home runs, as did Henry Aaron of the Braves. Solo shots were hit by the Giants’ Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou.

As of this writing [April 29, 2017], 11 players have hit four home runs in 9-inning games in the modern era:

Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees June 3, 1932  (9)
Gil Hodges, Brooklyn Dodgers August 31, 1950  (9)
Joe Adcock, Milwaukee Braves July 31, 1954  (9)
Rocky Colavito, Cleveland Indians June 10, 1959 (9)
Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants – April 30, 1961 (9)
Bob Horner, Atlanta Braves – July 6, 1986 (9)
Mark Whiten, St. Louis Cardinals – September 7, 1993 (9)
Mike Cameron, Seattle Mariners – May 2, 2002 (9)
Shawn Green, Los Angeles Dodgers – May 23, 2002 (9)
Carlos Delgado, Toronto Blue Jays – September 25, 2003 (9)
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers – May 8, 2012 (9)

Several years usually pass between 4-home run games, but only 21 days separated Mike Cameron’s and Shawn Green’s displays of power in 2002.

Chuck Klein (1936), Pat Seerey (1948) and Mike Schmidt (1976) have also each hit 4 home runs in one game, but they needed extra innings to do it.

No one has ever hit 5 home runs in one game.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
MLB hitting leaders
Baseball-Almanac

April 29-The Lee Elia rant

1983 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Former big league player, coach and manager Lee Elia came across as a friendly, mild mannered guy – except on this date in 1983.

Elia was managing the Chicago Cubs at the time. They may have been loveable losers, but they hadn’t created the cult following they enjoy today.

The Cubs suffered in relative obscurity on many weekday afternoons back then (lights in Wrigley were still 5 years away). The paid attendance on April 29, 1983 was 9,391, and it was a Friday! Two days earlier 3,384 fans showed up. Twenty years later there would typically be that many people standing in line for a Budweiser.

They lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on this date. It was the 14th loss in the first 19 games of 1983.

Lee was not happy, but it wasn’t his players who ticked him off. The following is unedited transcript of what Elia told a reporter who had an audiocassette recorder rolling:

CAUTION: EXTREME PROFANITY

“Fuck those fuckin’ fans who come out here and say they’re Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you, rippin’ every fuckin’ thing you do. I’ll tell you one fuckin’ thing, I hope we get fuckin’ hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them 3,000 fuckin’ people that show up every fuckin’ day, because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT.

They’re really, really behind you around here…my fuckin’ ass. What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my fuckin’ players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the fuckin’ nickel-dime people who turn up? The motherfuckers don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the fuckin’ game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a fuckin’ living. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers. Rip them motherfuckers. Rip them fuckin’ cocksuckers like the fuckin’ players. We got guys bustin’ their fuckin’ ass, and them fuckin’ people boo. And that’s the Cubs? My fuckin’ ass. They talk about the great fuckin’ support the players get around here. I haven’t see it this fuckin’ year. Everybody associated with this organization have been winners their whole fuckin’ life. Everybody. And the credit is not given in that respect.

Alright, they don’t show because we’re 5 and 14…and unfortunately, that’s the criteria of them dumb fifteen motherfuckin’ percent that come out to day baseball. The other eighty-five percent are earning a living. I tell you, it’ll take more than a 5 and 12 or 5 and 14 to destroy the makeup of this club. I guarantee you that. There’s some fuckin’ pros out there that wanna win. But you’re stuck in a fuckin’ stigma of the fuckin’ Dodgers and the Phillies and the Cardinals an all that cheap shut. It’s unbelievable. It really is. It’s a disheartening fuckin’ situation that we’re in right now. Anybody who was associated with the Cub organization four or five years ago that came back and sees the multitude of progress that’s been made will understand that if they’re baseball people, that 5 and 14 doesn’t negate all that work. We got 143 fuckin’ games left.

What I’m tryin’ to say is don’t rip them fuckin’ guys out there. Rip me. If you wanna rip somebody, rip my fuckin’ ass. But don’t rip them fuckin’ guys ’cause they’re givin’ everything they can give. And right now they’re tryin’ to do more than God gave ’em, and that’s why we make the simple mistakes. That’s exactly why.”


The amazing thing is Elia didn’t get fired for his obscenity laced tirade, at least not right away. He kept his job for four more months. He even managed again – the Philadelphia Phillies in 1987 and ’88.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
The Philadelphia Enquirer Multimedia, April 23, 2008
Lee Elia managerial record

April 28-Frank Robinson: Among the Best Ever

1956 | CINCINNATI, OHIO – On this date in 1956 Cincinnati Redlegs rookie left fielder Frank Robinson hit his first major league home run. He would hit 585 more. The home run came in a 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs in Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

Was Frank Robinson under appreciated? You be the judge.

He’s the only player in major league baseball history to be MVP (most valuable player) in both leagues (National League in 1961, American League in 1966).

He’s one of just 14 players in major league history to win the Triple Crown (lead the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in).

He’s a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He had a lifetime average of .294.

He drove in 1,812 runs.

He played on 3 World Series teams (Cincinnati Reds-1961, Baltimore Orioles-1966, 1970), 2 of which were winners.

Speaking of Triple Crown Winners, until Miguel Cabrera won it in 2012 there had not been a triple crown winner in 45 years.

Here are past winners:

Miguel Cabrera (Detroit-AL) 2012
Carl Yastrzemski (Boston-AL) 1967
Frank Robinson (Baltimore-AL) 1966
Mickey Mantle (New York-AL) 1956
Ted Williams (Boston-AL) 1947
Ted Williams (Boston-AL) 1942
Joe Medwick (St. Louis-NL) 1937
Lou Gehrig (New York-AL) 1934
Chuck Klein (Philadelphia) 1933
Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia-AL) 1933
Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis-NL) 1925
Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis-NL) 1922
Heinie Zimmerman (Chicago-NL) 1912
Ty Cobb (Detroit-AL) 1909
Nap Lajoie (Philadelphia-AL) 1901
Hugh Duffy (Boston-NL) 1894
Paul Hines (Providence-NL) 1878

Maybe “Frank Robinson” doesn’t roll off the tongue like Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays because he played for 5 different teams, and seemed to have a permanent scowl on his face, but his numbers are remarkable.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Frank Robinson – Hall of Fame

April 27-FRAGILE BABE RUTH HONORED

1947 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK – “The only real game in the world, I think, is baseball.” Those are the words Babe Ruth mustered up enough energy to utter on this date in 1947. He appeared at Yankee Stadium on Babe Ruth Day despite the havoc throat cancer wreaked on his body. He’d been diagnosed the previous fall.

A crowd of 58,339 fans could see the Babe in person, millions more heard him from the sound of Yankee Stadium piped into major league and minor league ball parks all over the country. April 27, 1947 was declared Babe Ruth Day in every organized baseball league.

George Herman Ruth was born January 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland, one of eight children, he and a sister the only ones to survive infancy. Young George Herman was sent off to boarding school, St. Mary’s Industrial School, because his parents couldn’t control him. Some believe Ruth’s parents simply abandoned him.

While at St. Mary’s, one of Ruth’s passions became baseball. He could hit from the time he first played, but it was his pitching that attracted the interest of the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. They offered him a contract.

This is where the name “Babe” evolved. Still short of his 19th birthday, Ruth wasn’t a legal adult. Oriole’s owner Jack Dunn adopted Ruth. Not long after, players began referring to him as “Dunn’s baby.” That connection, his child-like features and the fact that he was a rookie made the nickname, “Babe” a natural.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Babe Ruth: A Biography by Wayne Stewart, 2006
BabeRuth.com
Babe Ruth

April 26-ONE DOWN, SIXTY TO GO

1961 | DETROIT, MICHIGAN – On this date in 1961 New York Yankee outfielder Roger Maris began his historic chase of the most famous record in sports – Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 home runs. In the 5th inning at Tiger Stadium with one out and nobody on, Maris hit a home run off Tiger right-hander Paul Foytack.

Maris didn’t come out of the blocks in a full sprint that memorable season. He hit one, I repeat, one home run in the month of April. Teammate Mickey Mantle already had 7 home runs by the time May rolled around.

If Maris, the shy right-fielder from Hibbing, Minnesota wanted to hit 30 home runs in 1961 he’d have to shift it into gear. He did. Maris hit 50 home runs over a 4 month span that summer. Here’s how his record-breaking 61 home runs were spread out over the season:

April           1
May           11
June           15
July            13
August       11
September 9
October       1

The race to break Ruth’s record was pretty much between Maris and Mantle. Maris eventually broke it on October 1, the 162nd and last game of the season. This led to a controversial ruling by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick; since Maris didn’t break Ruth’s record by the 154th game of the season, an asterisk would be put next to his name because Ruth set the single season record in a 154-game schedule. There’s no evidence an asterisk ever actually appeared in the “record books,” but people think it did, so Maris’ name was unjustifiably tarnished.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, by Leonard Koppett, 1998