All posts by todayinbaseball@gmail.com

MAY 9-A GAME THAT WOULDN’T END

1984 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Every once in a while the baseball Gods decide not to let a game end. The Cubs and Yankees got a sense of that two nights ago – May 7, 2017 – with their 18-inning contest finally won by the Yankees. A game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox, which ended on this date in 1984, was even longer, in fact the long-EST.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox‘ 25 inning marathon began at 7:30 p.m. on the 8th of May.


MIL A   0 0 0   0 0 0   1 0 2   0 0 0   0 0 0   0 0 0   0 0 3   0 0 0  0 – 6 20 3
CHI A   0 0 0   0 0 1   0 0 2   0 0 0   0 0 0   0 0 0   0 0 3   0 0 0  1 – 7 23 1


It was halted at 12:59 a.m. due to a league curfew, and resumed later on the 9th.

The game was tied at 1 apiece going 9th. The Brewers scored 2 in the top of the inning. The White Sox matched it with 2 in the bottom. The two teams went for the next 11 innings without scoring. In the 22nd inning the Brewers scored 3 runs. The White Sox did the same. Not until Sox slugger Harold Baines’ solo home run in the 25th inning did the game end.

Usually 2 hits in a game is a pretty good day, but not when you bat 10 or 11 times. Cecil Cooper, for example, had eleven at bats for the Brewers and 2 hits for a .181 batting average.

The longest game (by innings) in the National League, and in the Majors, was 26 innings between the Brooklyn Dodgers (today’s Los Angeles Dodgers) the Boston Braves (Today’s Atlanta Braves)  in 1920. That game, however, never ended. It was declared a draw.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
May 8, 1984 box-score & stats
10 Longest games in baseball history
Game Length Records

MAY 6-Up on the roof

MAY 6 | CHICAGO , ILLINOISChicago White Sox slugger Dave Nicholson hit a home run over the roof of old Comiskey Park in Chicago on this day in 1964. Some believe the ball cleared the roof, which would have meant it traveled over 570 feet, but that cannot be confirmed.

Nicholson, a relative unknown, joined a select group that day. Before May 6, 1964, only 10 other players reached Comiskey Park’s roof. They were:

Babe Ruth
Lou Gehrig
Jimmy Foxx
Hank Greenberg
Ted Williams
Mickey Mantle
Bill Skowron
Elston Howard
Eddie Robinson
Minnie Minoso

Dave Nicholson had potential written all over him when he broke in with the Baltimore Orioles in 1960 at the age of 20, but the potential never blossomed. His best year was 1963 with the White Sox. He played in 126 games, hit 22 home runs and had 70 RBI. The problem was, he hit only .229 (the highest batting average in his 7 years in major league baseball) and struck out a club record 175 times.

At 6 – 2, 215 pounds, Nicholson is probably more known for something he did off the field as anything he did on it. He became so frustrated after a particularly tough day that he shut off the showers so hard in the Sox locker room none of his teammates could turn them back on. The story is confirmed by former teammate Jim Landis.

Contributing sources:
Total White Sox: The Definitive Encyclopedia of the World Champion Franchise, by Richard L Lindberg, copyright, 2006
Chicago White Sox records

MAY 5 – “Designated runner” experiment fails

1975 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – One of owner Charlie Finley’s novel ideas was put to rest on this date in 1975. Finley’s Oakland A’s released Herb Washington after a loss to the Chicago White Sox. Washington was a speedster put on the team for one purpose – to run.

He appeared in 104 games as a “designated runner, stealing 31 bases in 48 attempts, and scoring 33 runs. He had no at bats, no hits, no runs batted in and a fielding percentage of .000 because the former college sprinter never played in the field.

Herbert Lee Washington was born in Belzoni, Mississippi in 1951. He was a four-time all-American sprinter at Michigan State University. He tied or broke the world record in the 50 and 60-yard dashes several times.

Having a “designated runner” was just one of maverick Charlie Finley’s experiments. There were many. Some became as common as the 108 stitches on a baseball. Some didn’t work at all.

  • White shoes (worked). Before Finley shoes were either black or …. black. Now they are every color of the rainbow.
  • Two-tone uniforms (worked). Before Finley uniforms were either white (for home) or gray (for visitors. shoes were either black or …. black.
  • Orange baseballs (didn’t work)
  • Fired second baseman Mike Andrews for making two errors in a World Series game. (didn’t work, the Commissioner ordered Andrews re-instated almost immediately)
  • Released all his high priced stars in 1976 (initially didn’t work, but common practice now)
  • Pushed for designated hitter (worked)
  • Designated runner (hasn’t been tried since)

CONTRIBUTING:
Herb Washington
Charlie Finley

MAY 4-The Splendid Slugger

1939 | DETROIT, MICHIGAN – The skinny rookie from San Diego can hit the ball, and he can hit it far. On this date in 1939, Ted Williams hit a ball that cleared the right field roof of Tiger Stadium – first player to do it. That was his second home run of the day.

Ted Williams hit 521 home runs in his career, not bad, but 19 other guys hit more. He was more a hitter than a slugger, or was he? Maybe he was both? Would Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, have been chasing Williams’ home run title?

Consider this; Teddy Ballgame averaged 29 home runs a season during his career. During World War II he missed all of 1943, 1944 and 1945 when he was 24, 25 and 26 years old. He missed at least another full season during the Korean War. So, he accumulated zero major league statistics for roughly 4 seasons.

He averaged 33 home runs during the 1940’s. So, let’s conservatively assume he would have hit 30 home runs a year during the time he was in the service. He’d have 641 home runs. At the time that would have put him 2nd on the all-time list. He could probably have averaged 40 home runs those years – he hit more than 40 four times out of seven during the 1940’s. Maybe he wouldn’t have caught Ruth, but he could have been stayed right behind him even to this day.

Teddy Ballgame was still going strong at age 41. In 1960, he opened his last season with a 475-foot home run to right-center field at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Contributing Sources:
Ted Williams clears the roof at Tiger Stadium
Ted Williams stats
Los Angeles Times (Associated Press-AP), May 5, 1939  

MAY 3-Now that’s production!

1951 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Six RBI (runs batted in) in a week is pretty good. Six in a day is a headline grabber. How about six RBI in an inning! That’s what New York Yankees rookie Gil McDougald did on this date in 1951.

McDougald hit a two-run Triple to kick off a 9th inning rally against the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. He came around to bat again. This time he hit a grand slam. The Yankees ended up scoring 11 times that inning on their way to a 17-3 shellacking of the Browns.

The runs batted in (RBI) statistic is a valuable measure of a player’s offensive production, but is dependent on situations. You need to have runners on base or hit a lot of home runs to get RBI. It also depends where you are in the batting order and how productive the hitters ahead of you are.

Bob Johnson, Joe Astroth, Tom McBride, Bob Lemon, Sam Mele, Carlos Quintana, Matt Stairs, Matt Williams and Fernando Tatis have also had 6-RBI innings.

Here are the RBI leaders in various other categories:

Season:
Hack Wilson, Cubs (1930) 191
Lou Gehrig, Yankees (1931) 184
Hank Greenberg, Tigers (1937) 183

Career:
Henry Aaron, Braves, Brewers 2,297
Babe Ruth, Yankees, Red Sox 2,213
Cap Anson, Cubs (White Stockings) 2,076
Lou Gehrig, Yankees 1,995
Stan Musial, Cardinals 1,951

Game:
Jim Bottomly, Cardinals, Sept 24, 1924 12
Mark Whiten, Cardinals, Sept 7, 1993 12
Tony Lazzeri, Yankees, May 24, 1936 11

Contributing Sources:
All-time RBI Leaders
Gill McDougald stats
Baseball-Almanac