Category Archives: May

MAY 17th-The overly friendly confines

1979 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – On this date in 1979 the Chicago Cubs scored 6 runs in the first, 3 in the fourth, 7 in the fifth, 3 in the sixth, 3 more in the eight and still lost.

There were eleven home runs on this windy afternoon at Wrigley Field, a record at the time.

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Cubs 23 to 22 in ten innings, but not before the Cubs made a miraculous comeback from a 21-9 deficit in the 5th to tie it 22-22 in the eighth.

There were eleven home runs on this windy afternoon at Wrigley Field, a record at the time. The ‘friendly confines’ were overly friendly on this date. It’s as though former NFL great Gale Sayers sneaked into Wrigley Field, which his Chicago Bears called home during football season, and ran off a few touchdowns.

The Cubs’ Dave Kingman had three home runs. Teammate Bill Buckner had a grand slam and seven runs batted in. The Phillies Mike Schmidt hit two home runs, including the game winner.

_________________

The 45 combined runs by the Cubs and Phillies today in baseball is not even the record. You have to go back to August 25, 1922 when the same two teams combined for 49 runs when the Cubs beat the Phillies 26-23.

The most runs scored in an American League game is 36, done twice. The Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia A’s 22-14 on June 29, 1950. On August 12, 2008 the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 19-17.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL, May 18, 1979
May 17, 1979 box score/play-by-play
Runs Scored Records
MLB Rare Feats

MAY 14-Stands collapse causing stampede

cropped-cropped-ball-2.jpg1927 | PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – A section of the stands at Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl collapsed on this date in 1927 causing a stampede which killed a fan and injured more than 50. The 50-foot section of the lower deck seats down the first base line gave way during a Philadelphia Phillies – St. Louis Cardinals game throwing some 300 fans out of their seats.

According to newspaper reports at the time, “The collapse threw the crowd into a panic and it swarmed on the field…” (The Charleston Gazette, West Virginia). The game was suspended with the Phillies ahead 12-3.

The ball park was officially named National League Park, but gained its moniker Baker Bowl or Baker Field as a reference to one-time owner William F. Baker.

“The collapse threw the crowd into a panic and it swarmed on the field…”

Since the ball park had to be squeezed into Philadelphia’s street grid there were some interesting dimensions. For example, the right field foul pole was just 275 feet from home plate. Right center was only 300 feet away. These softball-like distances required the erection of a wall 60 feet high in right field. By comparison, the “Green Monster” in Boston is 37 feet high.

Contributing sources:
The Pinstripe Press
The Baker Bowl
Philadelphia Phillies

 

MAY 13-Stan the hitting machine

1958 | CHICAGO, ILLINOISStan Musial got his 3,000th hit on this date in 1958, a double off the Chicago CubsMoe Drabowky at Wrigley Field. At the time only seven players in history had reached 3,000 hits; Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Cap Anson, Paul Waner and Nap Lajoie, quite a list.

Stanley Frank Musial ended up with 3,630 hits in a career that spanned 22 years. As of this writing, he is fourth on the all-time career hits list. Only Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose have more.

Musial was born in Donora, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh on November 21, 1920. He played mostly outfield, but also over a thousand games at first base.

He was a great hitter with amazing consistency. Musial had a lifetime batting average of .331. He hit .336 at home and .336 on the road. Musial was National League Most Valuable Player three times; 1943, 1946 and 1948.

Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine once said, “I’ve had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third.”

Musial spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Contributing Sources:
MVP Awards
3,000 hits club  

 

 

MAY 12TH-NIGHT TRAIN REACHES 400

1926 | WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Walter Johnson won his 400th game on this date in 1926. Only one other pitcher has reached that plateau,  Cy Young, winner of an astonishing 511 games. You know Cy. They named an award after him.

Walter Johnson came from Humboldt, Kansas. He broke into the majors with the Washington Senators (today’s Minnesota Twins) in 1907 at age 19.

They called him “Night Train,” and he pitched for the next 21 years, finishing with records like 36-7, 33-12, 23-7, 25-13, 20-7, for a team that lost more than it won (The Senators finished under .500 eleven of the twenty-one seasons Johnson pitched for them).

Walter Johnson was said to have the fastest fastball in major league history, of course there were no radar guns in the teens and twenties, so we can’t really be sure.

Here are some figures from the “I didn’t know that” category that we are sure about;

• Johnson pitched 110 shutouts
• He won 38 games 1-0

• Remarkably, 26 of his losses were 1-0

Walter Johnson could hit too. Johnson finished the 1925 season with a .433 batting average, still a major league record for pitchers. His lifetime batting average was .235, not bad for a pitcher.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
300 win club
Walter Johnson, Hall of Fame  

MAY 11-No more owner managers

1977 | PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA  –  Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner became Atlanta Braves manager Ted Turner on this date in 1977. He was fed up with a 16-game losing strike, so he put on the uniform and headed to the dugout himself.

It didn’t help.

The Braves lost their 17th straight. Owner-as-manager also didn’t last long. Turner’s actions were the impetus for a rule change.

National League Commissioner Chub Feeney put the kibosh on the idea of an owner ever taking over managerial authority right away. He also initiated a rule change stating that a team manager cannot own a financial interest in the team (wonder how George Steinbrenner voted).

The Braves won the next game. Molino Leon beat Pittsburgh’s Bruce Kison 2 to 1. It was a long season though. The Braves ended up in last place in the Western Division. Their record was 61 and 101; second worst in baseball to the expansion Toronto Blue Jays.

Read on:
www.retrosheet.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/
www.todayinbaseballhistory.com/

 

 

 

MAY 10-AARON’S ONLY “RUN” HOME

1967 | PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – On this date in 1967, Henry Aaron hit a home run inside-the-park. It would be the only one of his 755 career home runs that he had to sprint around the bases.

It was the eighth inning when Aaron took Phillies’ ace Jim Bunning (later a United States Senator from Kentucky) deep to center field. Aaron sprinted around the bases, driving in pinch runner Miguel de la Hoz who had been on first, and scored ahead of the relay.

Aaron didn’t have only one inside-the-parker because he was slow; he stole 240 bases in his career. Another irony about Henry Aaron’s accomplishments is that he hit 3 home runs in one game only once. But Aaron’s list of records and accomplishments is set apart from mere mortal ballplayers:

  • All-time career home run leader from 1974 to 2001 (755)
  • All-time RBI leader: 2,297
  • All-time extra-base hits leader: 1,477
  • 21 All-Star appearances
  • The Sporting News NL Player of the Year: 1956, 1963
  • NL batting champion: 1956 (.328), 1959 (.355)
  • NL MVP: 1957
  • Gold Glove award: 1958, 1959, 1960
  • Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame: 1982

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Career home run leaders
The Associated Press (AP), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 11, 1967

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