August 2, 1979 | AKRON, OHIO – Thurman Munson was a rock, a catcher, the face of the New York Yankees in the 1970s. Thurman Munson was indestructible, until this day in 1979.
Thursday, August 2, 1979 was a rare day off for Yankee captain. The Yankees played in Chicago against the White Sox the night before and wouldn’t play again until Friday night in New York. Chicago’s game would be Munson’s last.
He headed home to Canton, Ohio after Wednesday night’s game. Thursday afternoon Munson was practicing take-offs and landings at the Akron-Canton airport. He’d recently bought a twin engine Cessna Citation plane so he could get home to his wife and three children more easily.
At 4:02pm, while making an approach to the runway the plane crashed about 1,000 short. An investigation determined the crash was due to pilot error.
Thurman Munson played 11 years for the Yankees. He was the starting catcher for ten of those. He was a seven-time all-star who led the Yankees to three World Series – winning two of them. Munson finished his career with a .292 batting average, 113 home runs and 701 RBI. Three times he drove in over 100 runs. His leadership was immeasurable.
Thurman Munson was indestructible, until this day in 1979. Pilot error? It doesn’t compute.
Thurman Munson Bio
July 22, 1962 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Floyd Robinson of the Chicago White Sox went 6 for 6, all singles, on this date in 1962. That tied him with about two dozen other American Leaguers for the most hits in a 9-inning game.
The National League record is 7 held by Rennie Stennett of the 1975 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Floyd Robinson had a great year in 1962. He hit .312, drove in 109 runs (on just 11 home runs) and led the league in doubles with 45. But he played for a team that was anemic offensively.
The White Sox team batting average was .257. Robinson was the only regular to hit over .300. The team leader in home runs was Al Smith with 16.
Three years removed from playing the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series, the Sox finished 5th, 11 games out in 1962. Despite their lousy hitting, the Sox contended for the next few years behind the pitching of Gary Peters, Joel Horlen, Juan Pizzaro and others:
Despite 90+ wins the Sox finished second to the New York Yankees each year (this was before divisional play).
When a team’s key offensive statistic is 6-singles by the same player in a game, over-taking the Bronx Bombers becomes a tall order.
JULY 17, 1941 | CLEVELAND, OHIO – Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak ends in Cleveland, and 56 becomes an iconic number in the world of sports. “Joltin Joe” got at least one hit in 56 consecutive games – until tonight.
The streak captivated the nation for weeks. A record-breaking 67,468 fans came to Cleveland Municipal Stadium on a Thursday night to watch the Yankee slugger try to extend his streak,
The streak started quietly at Comiskey Park in Chicago on May 15th. Interest intensified as DiMaggio reached 30 consecutive games with at least one hit. It grew into an obsession when DiMaggio surpassed Wee Willie Keeler‘s 45 game hit streak record on July 2nd and kept on going. Now DiMaggio was setting a new record every game.
It was stopped at the hands of two relatively unknown Cleveland pitchers, left-hander Al Smith and right-hander Jim Bagby. All-star third baseman Ken Keltner made two dazzling plays to rob DiMaggio of hits.
DiMaggio didn’t just break Keeler’s record, he smashed it by 11 games. Had 56 not been where DiMaggio’s hit streak ends, we could very well be talking about a 73-game hitting streak. After going hitless on July 17th, DiMaggio went on hitting in 16 more consecutive games.
How remarkable is DiMaggio’s display of hitting consistency? To this day no one has surpassed Wee Willie Keeler’s mark of 45 consecutive games with at least one hit – except Joe DiMaggio.
Top 10 Consecutive game hit leaders and year accomplished:
Joe DiMaggio 56 (1941)
Wee Willie Keeler 45 (1897)
Pete Rose 44 (1978)
Bill Dahlen 42 (1894)
George Sisler 41 (1922)
Ty Cobb 40 (1911)
Paul Molitor 39 (1987)
Jimmy Rollins 38 (2006)
Tommy Holmes 37 (1945)
Gene DeMontreville 36 (1897)
The Associated Press, July 18, 1941
Longest Hitting Streaks
1914 | BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – The Boston Red Sox were not the only team to let George Herman Ruth get away. Philadelphia A’s (today’s Oakland A’s) owner Connie Mack turned down Babe Ruth on this date in 1914.
Ruth wasn’t the Great Bambino yet. In fact, he wasn’t even a major leaguer. He was a promising minor league pitcher, but the team he played for, the Baltimore Orioles of the International League was in financial trouble and needed cash. Orioles owner Jack Dunn offered Ruth and a couple other players to Philadelphia A’s owner Connie Mack for $10,000. Mack had his own money problems so he said no.
A couple days later the 19-year old Ruth and two other players were sold to the Boston Red Sox for $25,000. It was with the Red Sox that Ruth made his major league debut, mainly as a pitcher. He won two and lost one in 1914. The next year Ruth went 18 and 8, but it was his hitting that began to open people’s eyes. In 92 at-bats, Ruth hit .315 with 4 home runs and 21 runs batted in.
Ruth started to play the outfield, and therefore hit more often. By 1919 he was playing the outfield more than he was pitching. The owner of the Yankees needed cash to fund a Broadway play a transaction the Red Sox have never been able to live down. The first year Ruth was exclusively an outfielder – 1920 – he hit .376 with 54 home runs and 135 RBIs.
- TIBfact: Babe Ruth pitched in 5 games during his Yankee career and won all 5.
Connie Mack refuses Babe Ruth
*2006 | WASHIGTON, D.C. – The New York Yankees returned to RFK Stadium in Washington, D. C. on this date in 2006. They beat the Washington Nationals 7-5 in inter-league play.
The last time the Bronx Bombers played at RFK was September 30, 1971 – the last game played by the old Washington Senators. The Yankees won that game too, but by a 9-0 forfeit when fans stormed the field in the bottom of the 9th and wouldn’t leave. The fans were upset with the Senators leaving the nation’s capital for the second time in ten years.
Here’s where you need a scorecard to keep track; The Senators left the first time in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins, but the deal that allowed owner Calvin Griffith to leave Washington for the Twin Cities brought a new franchise to D.C. in 1961 also called the Senators. The new Senators played at old Griffiths Stadium, still owned by the Griffiths’ family, until “District of Columbia Stadium” was ready in 1962. D.C. Stadium became known as RFK Stadium after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
The new Senators’ attendance reflected their play – dismal. They moved again in 1971, this time to the Dallas where they became, and remain, the Texas Rangers.
To pour salt on the wounds of fans in Washington, D.C., the Minnesota Twins (the original Senators) made it to the World Series four years after leaving the nation’s capital (1965). And they won the World Series in 1987 and 1991.
June 16, 2006 box score/play-by-play