Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30,1912: Earl Hamilton Records The First No-No in Browns/Orioles History

     On August 30, 1912, Earl Hamilton of the St. Louis Browns no-hit the Tigers in Detroit, as he led the way to a 5-1 win. The lone Tigers run came in the fourth when Ty Cobb worked a walk out of the lefty. That was followed by what looked to be a fielder's choice off the bat of Sam Crawford that turned into an error. An alert Cobb turned it into a run as he rounded the bags, and beat a late throw to the plate. While the shutout was erased, Hamilton's no-no remained intact, and at the end of that day he had recorded the first no-hitter in the history of the franchise that we all know today as the Baltimore Orioles.

     His 115-147 record might not impress some, but the fact is in many ways he was a victim of circumstance who played on some bad teams. His lifetime E.R.A of just 3.00 alone tells you that he was a quality pitcher, but as luck would have it even during a season that he held a 2.50 e.r.a., he still had a losing record (16-18). However, his career did span over 14 seasons and he had a no-hitter on his resume that would be remembered more than 100 years later, as we celebrate it today.

Check out Hamilton's career numbers here:

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 29, 1977: Lou Brock Becomes The Stolen Base King

     On August 29, 1977, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock became the all time stolen base leader, after swiping two bags against the Padres in San Diego. The legendary base burglar came into the contest one stolen base shy of Ty Cobb's record of 892, and by the seventh inning he hoisted second base over his head as baseball's king of thieves.

     Brock was off and running right out of the gate. He worked a walk out of San Diego's starter Dave Freisleben to lead off the contest, and moments later he made a break for second. San Diego's catcher Dave Roberts attempted to gun him down, but sailed his throw wide, so Brock had not only equalled the mark, he had also taken third on the error. It proved to be a spark for the Cardinals offense, as they went onto plate three runs in the inning that had saw their entire lineup take an at bat.

     The Friars bounced back with a couple of runs in the third to cut the lead to 3-2, and that is where the score sat when Brock came to the plate in the seventh. He had just watched his pitcher rap out a single, and was hoping for a few more sparks. Instead he hit into a fielder's choice that retired the pitcher, but it still gave him the opportunity to make history, and it was an opportunity that would not be wasted. Freisleben was still on the bump for San Diego, and this time Brock broke on his first pitch. Once again Roberts tried to gun him down, but the throw was off line, and Brock came sliding into second as the baseball's all time stolen base leader.

     Brock's first concern was Bill Almon. The San Diego shortstop had gotten spiked on the play, and Brock wanted to make sure he was not injured. Once he realized he was okay a mob of teammates formed around him. The base was uprooted and awarded to him, and he was given a microphone to address the cheering crowd. He reminded them to not just think of him on that day, but to think of Cobb as well. He had a great respect for the player who he had began chasing in 1962, and his words made it be known. The fans in San Diego made it be known that had great respect for Brock as well as they bestowed cheers upon him. It was an all around classy moment in time.

     After things settled down, Brock and company failed to scratch out a run in the inning, and the speedster was removed before the bottom of the frame began. The day was spoiled a bit thereafter, as Al Hrabosky served up a two run shot ot Mike Ivie in the eighth. The big blast proved to be all the Padres needed to win the game 4-3. However, it was still a day to be celebrated, as Brock's achievements were much bigger than the game that was played on the field that day.

     Like many who are in pursuit of a record, Brock was relieved to have it out of the way. He spoke of reaching a 1,000 stolen bases. It was a number that was not too far off, but it proved to be a number that he would not reach, as he played two more seasons, before retiring with 938 stolen bases. Brock's record stood until 1991 when it was surpassed by Rickey Henderson. While Brock's record did not stand the test of time, what he did on the diamond will not be forgotten, as he stands amongst those who are considered immortal in Cooperstown, New York.

Check out the box score and Lou's career numbers:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August 28, 1999: Watch Out Terry... Here Comes The Man In Black

     On August 28, 1999, Dale Earnhardt Sr. pushed Terry Labonte out of his way on the last lap of the Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to earn what was considered a controversial win. While some fans cheered, many of them began to boo the man who had just claimed his ninth victory at the world famous short track. However, years later it was voted as one of the top moments at Bristol, and looking back at it now, knowing that it was his last win at the track, it almost seems fitting it ended the way it did. After all he was "The Intimidator."

Watch the wild finsish here:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 27, 1977: Toby Harrah and Bump Wills Hit Back-To-Back Inside The Park Home Runs

     On August 27, 1977, in front of more than 30,000 at Yankee Stadium in New York, Texas Rangers teammates Toby Harrah and Bump Wills became just the second set of players in the history of Major League Baseball to hit back-to-back inside the park home runs.

     The Rangers were up 4-2 when the historic back-to-back homers happened in the seventh inning. Ken Clay was on in relief for the Yankees, and he gave up back-to-back one out singles before Harrah stepped to the dish, and gave one of his pitches a long ride into right. Lou Piniella went all out as he tried to make a leaping catch at the wall, only to crash into it, and fall to the ground, as the ball shot back toward the infield. The two men in front of Harrah crossed the dish, and before second baseman George Zeba get the ball into the catcher Harrah had scored.

     Moments later, Bump Wills stepped in and drove one to deep center. Mickey Rivers pursued, and even got a little bit of a glove on it, before it shot over his head, and off to his left. Wills kept his head down, and made the turn at third, before crossing the dish with his inside the parker. The inside the park shot was the second home run of the day for Wills, who went the more conventional route in the fourth inning by putting one over the fence.

    It was the first time since the feat was accomplished in the American League. The only other time it had been accomplished came during a National League contest at the Polo Grounds in New York when Marv Rickert and Eddie Waitkus of the Chicago Cubs did it in a game against the Giants. Pretty wild stuff. You can watch it here:

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 1987: Molitor's Streak Stops at 39

      On August 26, 1987, Paul Molitor's 39 game hitting streak came to an end, with the Brewers slugger standing on deck in the 10th inning, as his teammate Rick Manning knocked in the game winning run during a 1-0 win over the Cleveland Indians at County Stadium in Milwaukee. The future Hall of Famer was held hitless in four trips to the plate by rookie hurler John Farrell who turned in a true gem though nine, before handing the ball over to Doug Jones as the game headed into extras. On the flip side Teddy Higuera matched Ferrell pitch for pitch, and he held onto the ball in the 10th, as he searched for his 13th win of the season. It is safe to say that hopes were high that Monitor would get his chance to bat after Higuera got his job done in the top of the 10th, but it just was not in the cards, as Jones hit a man, recorded an out, then put Dale Sveum on with a free pass to get to second baseman Juan Castillo. The Brewers skipper Tom Trebelhorn countered the move by calling on Manning to pinch hit for Castillo, and with Molitor looking on, Manning knocked in the Mike Felder to win it. It was a bittersweet ending the Brewers legend, as they won the game, while the streak came to a close. Even then he said he was cheering on Manning when he came into hit, as he put his team above his own accomplishments. The 39 games was just one shy of Ty Cobb's record of 40 that he had set in 1911. Today it stands as the seventh longest hitting streak in the history of Major League Baseball. When Molitor was asked about his accomplishment after the game he proclaimed that there would be a day when he was retired that he would look back on it fondly. Those days have come, and I am sure when he looks back he cracks a smile.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 1965: Bill Russell Gets Paid

     On August 25, 1965, Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell became the highest paid player in NBA history when he inked a deal that would pay him $100,001 per season over the next three years. The one dollar tacked on made him the highest paid man, as Wilt Chamberlain had held that distinction with a $100,000 contract of his own. As a fan it seems like athletes get into pissing contests, and this is a prime example of that as Russell needed that dollar just because. With that said, he had earned his pennies. The big man boldly predicted that he would lead the Celtics to an eighth straight championship title, and he backed it up by doing exactly that. Russell played through the '68-'69 season, and finished his career with 11 championships in 13 years of play. I have always found that it be an absolutely amazing accomplishment, and that alone makes him a true legend of the game.

     Just for curiosity's sake I looked at what $100,001 would equate to today, which would be a little more than $755,000. When you look at the money that is being thrown around today it seems like the Celtics made quite the deal for Bill Russell on that day in late August.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24, 1919: Ray Caldwell Gets Zapped In Cleveland

     On August 24, 1919, in his first start in an Indians uniform, hurler Ray Caldwell looked to be cruising to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics at League Park in Cleveland when the unthinkable happened, as a bolt of lightning struck the field right before he was set to face his last batter. The bolt knocked Caldwell out, while the thunder that followed knocked the cap off of the man coaching third as well as the catcher's mask who was waiting on Caldwell's delivery. The stunned crowd looked at Caldwell laying on the mound not knowing if he had survived the strike, but to their surprise he got up off the ground, and recorded the final out of the game. Absolutely amazing. I ran across this fact a few years ago. It was before I had extended my means of research, and I will not lie I was somewhat skeptical of the story. However, this account that is featured in the picture is confirmation, as it was printed the next day in the Pittsburgh Press. I did not doubt that it happened, I simply wondered if the tale had been told accurately, or if it had been stretched a bit. As it turns out the newspaper accounts from the following day (I found several) not only confirmed the story, they also made it that much more remarkable.  Caldwell won 134 games in his major league career. One of those wins involved some of the most unusual circumstances in the history of the game.

You can read about the life and times of Ray Caldwell here:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 23, 1952: Two Men Ejected In One At Bat

     On August 23, 1952, Cardinals hurler Al Brazle allowed just seven hits en route to a 3-1 victory over the New York Giants at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. This game was rather unusual because in the seventh inning two players got tossed from the contest during the same at bat.  The unusual heave-ho as the papers of the day called it happen in the seventh inning when Bob Elliott was infuriated by a second called strike. The second baseman proceeded to kick dirt on umpire Augie Donatelli before the ump gave him the boot. Bobby Hoffman came into bat for Elliott, and when Donatelli called him out on the third strike Hoffman flew off the handle and was ejected as well. As it turned out an injured Davey Williams came into the contest, and knocked in the lone Giants run of the day in the ninth. After Brazle notched the last out of the game the reported crowd of 26,673 made their way out of the ballpark, and had more to talk about than just a win, as Elliott and Hoffman put on a quick show in the seventh.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, August 22, 2014

August 22, 1965: Marichal Attacks Johnny Roseboro With His Bat

     On August 22, 1965, one of the most famous brawls in the history of Major League Baseball took place during the third inning of a game that featured the Dodgers and Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The game that featured one of the greatest rivalries in baseball was sure to be a hotly contested tilt, with Sandy Koufax going against Juan Marichal. However, not one of the 42,807 in the stands, nor any of the men in the dugouts had any idea how hot things would get, as the game would be remembered for a vicious attack in which Marichal used his bat to beat the Dodgers catcher.

     Early on Marichal had made both Ron Fairly and Maury Wills hit the deck with brushback pitches, and when the hurler that had become known as the "Dominican Dandy" came to the plate in the third he was expecting to be brushed back. To his surprise Koufax threw a strike, then threw a ball down and in. The catcher Johnny Roseboro threw the ball right by Marichal's ear when he returned it to Koufax. Some say it brushed Marichal's ear, others say it was so close he felt the breeze of the ball fly past. Either way it goes, it caused a bomb to go off. Marichal turned said a few words to the backstop, and within seconds fists began to fly. Within seconds it was more than fists, as Marichal shocked everybody by using his bat as a weapon, and hit the catcher twice over the head with it. Before it could be broken up there was blood streaming down the head of Roseboro, and Marichal was ejected from the ball game. 

     Ultimately, the melee cost Marichal $1,750 and he was suspended for eight games as well. He was lucky that the punishment was not more severe. That $1,750 would be more than $13,000 today. I would imagine that a fine would be far heavier and a someone who chose to use a bat as a weapon might not find themselves on a major league diamond ever again after doing such a thing. Luckily for Marichal that was not the case. There was bad blood for many years between the two, but as they say time heals all wounds, and those wounds did heal. Some thought the incident was a primary reason why Marichal was snubbed by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and after it became known that they had became friends, those writers chose to forgive Marichal as well. It was a dark moment in the career of  Marichal. There were far brighter days which paved a road to Cooperstown. Although, that dark day is one day that will never be forgotten. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21, 1977: Tom Terrific Returns To Shea

     On August 21, 1977, Tom Seaver returned to Shea Stadium in New York for the first time since being traded in mid June of that year. The former Mets ace was wearing the uniform of the Cincinnati Reds. The hurler kept his emotions in check, as he mowed down 11 of his former teammate en route to a 5-1 in front of the crowd of more than 46,000. Seaver not only led the way with his arm, but he also picked up a double in the contest, and scored two runs as well. Seaver had pitched those Mets to 189 regular season wins before the trade. He had also been a part of the "Miracle Mets" of '69, and would  forever be considered to be a hero amongst those who called the Mets their own.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20, 1945: Tommy Brown Becomes The Youngest Player To Go Boomskis In The Major Leagues

     On August 20, 1945, Brooklyn's Tommy Brown became the youngest player in the history of Major League Baseball to park one in the seats, during a 7-1 loss at Ebbets Field. The shortstop who was on the roster because of Pee Wee Reese's service in the military was just 17 years and 257 days old when he tallied the lone Brooklyn run of the game. Brown's seventh inning big fly was served up by Preacher Roe who would make a name for himself as a member of those Brooklyn Dodgers just a few years later. Roe gave up eight hits in the ballgame, with Brown's historic big fly being the only one that truly counted. On the other hand Preacher had an 11 hit attack working for him as he sailed to victory. The big highlight of the day for the Bucs was a two run shot by Babe Dahlgren in the first who set the tone for the day. While the Bucs cruised to victory the 17-year-old was presented with a box of cigars by one of the local sponsors. It had become a custom for them to give a box to any rookie that had hit his first big fly. When his skipper Leo Durocher caught wind of it he confiscated the cigars stating that the kid was too young to smoke. As one paper put it... only Leo... Brown's home run did not grab the headlines, as it was looked at as just a rookie going deep during a blowout. However it was truly historic as no one younger has yet to put one over the fence as a major leaguer. With the current structure of baseball, and the fact that players do not get called to duty, I do think it is safe to say that is one record that will stand the test of time.

     Brown spent a total of nine years on the big league diamond. He was just 16-years-old when he made his debut. By the age of 26 his days in the majors were behind him. According to his SABR bio he played minor league ball for a number of years, before going to work for a factory that made glass for Ford where he worked 35 years before retiring. He is retired now, and calls Brentwood, Tennessee home. I bet he has quite a few tales worth telling from his days on the diamond. Check out the bio here:

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 1951: Eddie Gaedel Steps To The Plate

     On August 19, 1951, Bill Veeck, the owner of the St. Louis Browns staged one of the greatest publicity stunts in the history of baseball when he signed a 3 foot 7 inch Eddie Gaedel to pinch hit to lead off the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. After the Browns dropped the first game by the score of 5-2, Veeck wheeled a big birthday cake onto the field to commemorate the organization's 50th years in St. Louis. To the delight of the crowd out popped the little man wearing the digits 1/8 on his back. When the little man started to head to the plate to bat, the Tigers catcher Ed Hurley immediately questioned the umpire, before Bill Veeck produced a contract, and the ump chose to let him take the historic at bat. Veeck had instructed Gaedel to crouch as low as he could, so that he could work a walk out of starter Bob Cain. The strategy worked, as Cain sailed four high ones that sent Gaedel trotting to first He was lifted for a pinch runner, and ultimately the Tigers knocked off the Browns 6-2, but the day would be a day that would not be forgotten.

     The article I included with the picture was featured in The Florence Times out of Florence, Alabama. It came out just a couple days after the historic game. I got a kick out of how Gaedel talked about dreaming of the day when he could induce a bases loaded walk. The powers that be squashed those dreams citing the best interests of baseball. However, he did appear in other promotional stunts, before passing away in 1961. If you would like to read more about Eddie Gaedel give this a look:

Check out the box score here:

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 1965: Hank Aaron, and The Home Run That Never Was

     On August 18, 1965, with the score tied 3-3, during the eighth inning of a contest against the Cardinals in St. Louis, Milwaukee Braves slugger Hank Aaron belted an eighth inning home run that landed on the roof of the pavilion in right. However, umpire Chris Pelekoudas called the future Hall of Famer out, saying that he had stepped out of the box before he pounced on the  pitch that was thrown by Curt Simmons. The call sent the Braves skipper Bobby Bragan into an outrage that not only got him ejected from the game, it also led the game to being played under protest. Ultimately the Braves prevailed 5-3 as pinch hitter Don Dillard parked a two run shot in the seats in the ninth, but the home run that never was, was a home run to be remembered. Had it counted the magic number would be 756.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17, 1904: Tannehill No-Hits The White Sox

     On August 17, 1904, Jesse Tannehill of the Boston Americans turned in a no-hit performance at Chicago's South Side Park. The no-no was just the second in the history of the franchise that would become known as the Red Sox, and had it not been for a hit batsman, and a free pass it would have been the second perfect game in the history of the organization. Cy Young had the honor of becoming the first man to achieve those feats earlier that season. Including both Young, and Tannehill, 18 men have thrown no-hitters as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Tannehill was the first lefty to achieve the feat. The man who stood at just 5' 8" and weighed 150 pounds spent 15 years on the big league diamond. During that time he won 197 games, recorded six 20 win seasons, and had a lifetime e.r.a. of 2.80. He wore the uniforms of the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and the Washington Senators. He was a part of three pennant winners, and had one achievement that every big league pitcher dreams of, which came on this day 110 years ago.

If you would like to know more about the life and times of Jesse Tannehill  give this a look: 

Here is the story about Cy Young's 1904 perfecto:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

AUgust 16, 1954: Sports Illustrated Hits The Newstands

     On August 16, 1954, Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands for the first time. The issue's cover featured Sports Illustrated. Milwaukee Braves slugger Eddie Mathews swinging the stick, while Wes Westrum of the New York Giants was crouched behind him awaiting a ball to hit his mitt in front of a capacity crowd at County Stadium in Milwaukee. While SI was not the first sports magazine to hit the newsstands it was magazine that brought about innovation in the industry of sports journalism. It became the preeminent magazine for sports fans, and because of that it is still in existence today. While evolution has changed the way we get information, the magazine is something I still enjoy. One my favorite things that SI has done for many years are the great photos that are featured in the first few pages of the publication. They are simply an appetizer for all of the great articles that are packed inside. Happy Birthday Sports Illustrated. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 15, 1964: The Phillies Turn A Triple Play at Shea

     On August 15, 1964, a second inning triple play turned by the Philadelphia Phillies highlighted an 8-1 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.

     The Phillies offense came alive early, and plated six of the eight runs in the first, and looked like they would coast to victory. However, the Mets still had some fight in them, as they loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, only to fail to score a run. With that said, the Mets were hitting Philly's starter Ray Culp hard. He gave up back-to-back hits to lead off the second, which led to an early hook. The ball was handed to John Boozer who had the misfortune of a ball deflecting off of his glove, which led to the lone Mets run of the day. The next batter up erased the thoughts of that misfortune from Boozer's mind in an instant, as third baseman Bobby Klaus line one right back at him, then he turned, fired to Ruben Amaro at second, who fired to Frank Thomas at third for the spectacular triple killing. The wind had been taken out of the Mets sails, as Boozer did not let them score a run the rest of  the game.

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 1939: The Lights Come On at Comiskey

     On August 14, 1939, baseball was played under the lights in Chicago for the first time at Comiskey Park. The White Sox celebrated the occasion by knocking off the St. Louis Browns 5-2 to the delight of the estimated 30,000 fans who walked through the turnstiles that night in mid August. The star of the game was Johnny Rigney, as he struck out 10, while allowing the two runs on just three hits. On the offensive side of the ball the Chicago club rocked out 13 hits, and  every man in the starting lineup besides shortstop Luke Appling had a hit under his belt. According to the Pittsburgh Press the only reason Rigney did not get the shutout was Appling had committed the only two errors of the game in the sixth, and juggled no less than four double play balls which led to both of St. Louis' runs. Rigney had been perfect up to that point, but he did not let it bother him, as he went back to work, and got the job done on the illuminated diamond.

     Comiskey was the sixth park to install lights, and as time marched on every ballpark in America would follow suit. Although, it was another 49 years before the White Sox's crosstown rival Chicago Cubs would turn on the lights at Wrigley Field. Today the idea of a ballpark not having lights sounds almost crazy, but there was a time that all games were played during the day, and before lights came along there were many games called because it is a little hard to play in the dark. You can view the list of dates that each and every parked flipped the switch here:

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13, 1947; Willard Brown Touches Them All at Sportsman's Park

     On August 13, 1947, Willard "Home Run" Brown of the St. Louis Browns became the first African American player to hit a home run as a member of the American League.

     The historic shot came in front of a home crowd at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis during the eighth inning and tied the ballgame. To top it off it was an inside the parker off of future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser who was on the bump in relief for the visiting Tigers. The homer not only tied things up it also sparked the Browns to a 6-5 win, that was capped off when Hank Thompson scored on a passed ball later in the inning.

     Thompson, along with Brown were the first two African Americans to play for the American League club that called St. Louis home. Unfortunately it seems that neither of them got a true shot with the team. They had each starred for the Kansas City Monarchs before Bill Veeck brought them to St. Louis, and I am sure they had high hopes as they made the trip across the state. Those hopes were dashed, as Thompson ended up playing in just 27 games for the club, while Brown played just 21. Thompson did go onto play eight years with the New York Giants, but Brown did not return to the major league diamond. That did not mean his career was over. He returned to the Monarchs, and played with several other teams until 1957.

     The link I will provide below is to a biography about Willard Brown. Let me tell you he was a badass. He had his flaws like every other man who has blood flowing through his veins, but his career earned him a plaque in Cooperstown. Something that stuck out when I read the bio, was the bat that was used to hit the historic home run was not his bat, and the player that had let him use it broke it instead of letting him use it again. It is very sad that his own teammate had that kind of hate in his heart to do that just because of the color of the man's skin. I like to think that we as a society are always moving forward, and there is no doubt we have come a long way. With that said, there is a long way to go, and for every two steps forward there is something out there that pushes us back a step. The important thing is we continue to take those two steps forward. You can push us back one, we'll take two.

    The last paragraph means a lot to me because of the recent events out of Ferguson, Missouri. It is very close to where I live, and it saddens me. Everything about it saddens me. A young man is dead. There have been riots, looting, and businesses burned. Simply put it is a terrible situation. So we have been pushed back a step. It is time to take two steps forward. We must keep moving forward.

Here is that bio I spoke of:

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12, 1963: Stan The Man Calls It a Career

     On August 12, 1963, St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan "The Man" Musial announced that he would be retiring at season's end. The tearful announcement came at the team's annual picnic that was held at Grant's Farm right outside of St. Louis. Musial said "Baseball has been my life. I love St. Louis, and I've had fun all these years." It was 22 years to be exact. Which included 24 All Star appearances, 7 batting titles, 3 World Series Championships, 3 MVP awards, and he led the National League twice in RBIs. Musial held or shared 17 records at the time of his retirement, and he was also the owner of 29 National League records.

     Stan Musial first stepped on the big league diamond for the first time on September 17, 1941. He went 2 for 4, with a double, and two RBIs, as he helped lift the Birds to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Braves in the second game of a doubleheader. 3,025 games later he stepped on the big league diamond for the last time. The date was September 29, 1963, and Musial knocked in a run with a 2 for 3 performance that helped the Birds win a game against the Cincinnati Reds that went 14 innings, before he celebrated his last victory.

     It was the end of an era on the diamond, but the story of Stan Musial would continue to be written for many years to come, as he served as a member of the front office through 1967, and after those days came to a close he remained a staple of the St. Louis community until he passed away in January of 2013. Musial appeared at the stadium to the delight of the St. Louis fans many times through the years, and I can tell you as someone who was there for a handful of those times I truly felt honored to be in his presence, even when I was sitting in the highest seat in the house. I was also one of many St. Louisans who paid my respects at the public wake when he passed, and that day I felt that it was an honor as well. I was in the presence of a legend one more time.

     Something that is greater than any record or accomplishment that Stan Musial achieved is who he was as a person. He would stop and sign an autograph for anyone, and he made it be known that he loved the fans just as much as they loved him. One of most genuine athletes that has ever lived wore the number 6 on his back in St. Louis. He heard Father Time knock on his door on this day many years ago, and he answered. While that door had to be answered, his life will forever be celebrated in St. Louis and beyond. He joined the ranks of baseball immortality at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.  I know I said this in yesterday's blog, but I am going to say it again. Legends live forever.

Stats of a legend: My favorite Stan stat will always be the fact that recorded 3,630 hits total. 1,815 of them came at home, and 1,815 of them coming on the road. A perfect split for baseball's perfect knight.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 1929: Babe Ruth Becomes The Founding Member Of The 500 Home Run Club

     On August 11, 1929, Babe Ruth became the founding member of the 500 home run club. The milestone came during the second inning of a game against the Indians at League Park in Cleveland. The solo shot off of Willis Hundin got the scoring started for the day. With addition of a big blast by Lou Gehrig later in the game the Yankees could not hold on, as they fell 6-5 against the hometown squad. Ruth's first home run came on May 6, 1915. He was a Boston Red Sox pitcher with a little pop in his bat. He hit four that year. If he had hit three more he would have been tied for the league lead. That pitcher with pop developed into an outfielder with pop by 1918. He led the league with 11 home runs during that 1918 season, and in 1919 he led the league once again when he belted 29. The story was just getting started for the man who finished his career with more than 700 home runs.

      Ruth only got better after the Sox sold him to the Yankees. He led the league in big blasts 10 more times wearing the pinstripes in New York. The slugger hit 40 home runs or more for the Yankees during 11 of his 15 years with the club. He had taken over the all time home run lead in 1921 when he surpassed Roger Connor's record of 138 that had been set in 1897. Every home run that followed was a record breaker, as Ruth broke his own record time and time again. He would later become the founding member of the 600 home run club, and the 700 home run club as well. Ruth's last three home runs came on 1935. Fitting that he would park three in the seats on one day to put an exclamation point on 714 big blasts. His record for career home runs stood until Hank Aaron surpassed it in 1974.

     Today only 26 men have reached the 500 plateau in their careers. Five have hit 600 or more, and only three have hit 700 or more. While Ruth's numbers have been surpassed he will forever be known as the man who set the first true benchmark when it came to the big fly. There will always be a debate amongst the fans of the game as to who was the greatest hitter of all time. It is safe to say that a man by the name of George Herman Ruth has his place in that argument. His towering drives thrilled fans for many many years. They made him a legend, and as I like to say... legends live forever.

Check out the box score here:

The Bambino's home run log. Interesting fact to boot, 10 of Ruth's 714 were inside-the-park shots:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10, 1944: The Browns Win Ten In a Row

     On August 10, 1944, the St. Louis Browns locked down their tenth win in a row when hurler Denny Galehouse allowed just six hits en route to a 3-0 win over the Yankees in New York. The bats of Gene Moore and Tom Turner led the way for the Browns with three hits apiece, while Al Zarilla and the pitcher Galehouse each knocked in a run. The victory was the tenth in a row for the American League squad that called St. Louis home, and it had people start believing that they could truly contend for a pennant, and that they did.

     The winning streak was snapped the next time out, and it did prove to be the longest winning streak for the Browns that season, but they did continue to fight until they crossed the finish line in first place. The club would meet their in-town rival St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic, and they would fall to them in six games. While their storybook did not have the ending that those in the Browns clubhouse had hoped for, it did mark their only pennant winning season in the Gateway City.

     The Browns had been a perennial cellar dweller for many years. 14 times they finished dead last, and 12 times they were one position better in the standings. That '44 season that saw the run to the World Series was a bit of an anomaly. Had they won that Fall Classic the team would be forever celebrated. Since they did not win they are often a forgotten team from baseball's past. There are other reasons that factor into that as well, such as the shift to Baltimore in 1954.

     With the Cardinals playing the Orioles this weekend there have been some mentions of that 1944 club, but it seem the Browns past did not make that trip to Baltimore. This is an opinion of course, but I do believe that it was buried because of the futility the franchise suffered for many years. In many ways I understand because they wanted to reform the culture and start new, but as someone who loves sports history I do believe that all years can be celebrated. Even during the bad ones there were great moments that should not be forgotten.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 9, 1885: St. Louis' Dan Sullivan Sets The Record For Passed Balls In An Inning

     On August 9, 1885, Dan Sullivan of the St. Louis Browns set a major league record for passed balls in an inning when five got behind the catcher. The record setting performance came in the third inning at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, and proved to hurt the Browns greatly as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys scored four runs in the inning en route to a 6-3 victory. The record that no catcher wants attached to his resume, has never been matched or surpassed. There have been two occurrences of four passed balls in an inning during the modern era. The first came in 1954 when Ray Katt of the New York Giants saw the ball get by him four times, then in 1987 Texas' Geno Petralli matched Katt's lowlight performance. A career .233 hitter, Sullivan played just 17 games in 1885, and hit .117. He played one game for St. Louis the next season before his days on the diamond came to an end. While the record that Sullivan set on that day in August of 1885 is not a record that a player would want to obtain, it is a record that has his name being mentioned more than 100 years later. Gotta take what you can get.

Here's an interesting list of passed ball records:

Friday, August 8, 2014

August 8, 1982: Doug DeCinces Drops Three Bombs In Seattle

     On August 8, 1982, California Angels third baseman Doug DeCinces hit three home runs at the Kingdome in Seattle. The three big blasts helped his squad to a 9-5 victory over the hometown Mariners. It was the second time that week DeCinces put three past the fences, as he belted three against the Minnesota Twins during a 5-4 loss in Anaheim just five days earlier. The game in Seattle had to be that much sweeter since it ended with a W. The two three home run games were the only three home runs games of  DeCinces' 15 year career. He hit 237 over the wall during that time, and that 1982 season proved to be his best, as he finished the campaign with 30 big flies.

Check out his career numbers here:

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 7, 1999: 3,000 Hits For Wade Boggs

     On August 7, 1999, during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Devil Rays third baseman Wade Boggs became the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit a home run for his 3,00th hit. The slugger came into contest three hits shy of the magic number. He singled in the third, and fourth, then stepped to the dish in the sixth and launched a Chris Haney pitch into the stands in right. Boggs celebrated the milestone by pointing to the sky as he rounded second base in tribute to his mother who had been killed in a car accident in 1986. Boggs pointed to the sky once again, fell to his knees and kissed home plate, before celebrating with his teammates and family. It was a magic moment for the 41-year-old. To top it off the fan who caught the ball chose to return it to the legend of the diamond.

     Boggs' 3,000th hit came one day after Tony Gwynn achieved the same feat. Another milestone had been achieved that week as well by St. Louis' Mark McGwire who belted the 500th home run of his career. It was quite the week in the ranks of Major League Baseball. Unfortunately for Boggs' crew they lost the contest 15-10, but it did not overshadow his milestone moment. To date, only Derek Jeter has joined Boggs in hitting a home run for his 3,000th hit.

Watch Boggs enter the coveted 3,000 hit club in grand fashion here:

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 6, 1953: Ted Williams Returns To The Lineup

     On August 6, 1953, in a game against the St. Louis Browns in Boston, "The Splendid Splinter" Ted Williams returned to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since April 30, 1952. The 34-year-old slugger had been on hiatus for more than a year as he served his country as a fighter pilot during the Korean War. He had joined the club ten days earlier, but had to recover from blistered hands that he suffered during a batting drill. 10 days later he wasn't quite where he wanted to be, but he could swing the stick, and he stepped in as a pinch hitter during the bottom of the ninth trying to help his team rally. The Sox came into that inning down 7-4, but they proved they still had some fight in them, as they knocked in two runs off of two different pitchers, before Ted heard his number called. He came to the plate, with two men on, one out, and a chance to tie things up. Unfortunately for him, his teammates, and the Boston fans there was no storybook ending, as he flew out to first base. The Sox did tie the ballgame and sent it into extras, but St. Louis' second baseman Bobby Young spoiled the comeback by belting a leadoff home run in the top of the 10th that propelled the St. Louis club to an 8-7 victory.

     Like the captioned photo accompanied with the article says, the crowd at Fenway were excited as they should have been to see the slugger return. While it was not a triumphant return that was accompanied by a hit, the crowd stood and cheered as he walked back to the dugout. Williams did not return to the lineup as an everyday player until August 16th. He did hit a home run in his second appearance as a pinch hitter three days after that pop out, but he still had to work his way back into the swing of things. It's safe to say Ted did work his way back into that proverbial swing, as he hit .407 in 37 games played. Despite the fact that he was in the latter years of his career, Williams had quite a bit left in the tank. He hit .337 over the last seven years of his career which came to a close in 1960. In two of those years he led the American League in batting average, and during one of those years he led the league with 136 RBIs. The stint in Korea was the last stint for the war hero, who had also served three years during World War II. The fact of the matter is he was lucky to be playing ball after the well documented crash landing while serving during that year in Korea. No matter who you might root for on game day those men who served should always be held in high regard. They were on the biggest team. The team that protected this nation's freedoms.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 5, 1932: Tommy Bridges Bid For Perfection Is Broken Up By The 27th Man

     On August 5, 1932, in front of 8,000 fans, at Navin Field in Detroit, Tommy Bridges sat down 26 men in a row, before his bid for perfection was broken up by the 27th man he faced. The Tigers, along with their hurler were in cruise control as they entered the bottom of the ninth up 13-0 over the visiting Washington Senators. He took the first two men down with ease, before pinch hitter Dave "The Sheriff" Harris spoiled perfection by dropping a single into left. The 194 game winner would toss two more one hitters in his major league career, and the second of the two was broke up in the ninth. He never did capture the elusive no-no at the highest level, but he did lay claim to a no hitter as a member of the Portland Beavers in April of 1947 when he no-hit the San Francisco Seals.The six-time All Star was also a two-time World Series champion with the Tigers. His first championship came in 1935, and the latter came in 1945 when his career was coming to a close. While he might not have achieved perfection, Bridges one hit performance is most definitely a noteworthy accomplishment from baseball's past. Oh so close...

If you would like to learn more about Tommy Bridges take a look at this:

Check out the box score here:

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4, 1955: Three Big Bombs For Mr. Cub

     On August 4, 1955, "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks became the first shortstop in the history of Major League Baseball to hit three home runs in one game. The performance led the way to an 11-10 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The future Hall of Famer's last big blast of the day was a two run shot in the eighth that proved to be a game winner. Banks' first dinger was a two run shot in the first off of Lino Dinoso, his second was a three run shot off of Max Surkont in the fourth, and the game winning blast that came in the eighth was served up by Dick Littlefield. With this game included Banks hit three home runs in a game four times during his career. Only Freddie Patek, Barry Larkin, and Jeff Blauser have joined Banks as shortstops who have went deep three times in one contest.

Check out the box score here:

Ernie Banks home run stats:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 3, 1984: Mary Lou Retton Takes The Gold

     On August 3, 1984, in front of more than 9,000 at UCLA's Pauley Pavillion, Mary Lou Retton pulled off a flawless vault to earn a perfect 10 and a gold medal. Retton was in a neck and neck race with Romania's Ecaterina Szabo coming into the event, and needed perfection to win the gold in the all around competition. Szabo had earned a score of 9.95 with her vault, which set the bar high for the 16-year-old, however, it was a bar that she would clear with ease, as she sprinted toward the springboard, somersaulted through the air, and came down with a perfect landing. Retton knew almost instantly that she had achieved perfection, but she still had to wait for the judges to deliver the score. Moments later the perfect scored was delivered and the celebration ensued. If you watch the video the smile on her face says it all. She was an American hero. I will not lie I am not the biggest follower of gymnastics, but I can tell you this watching the event gave me goosebumps. Gotta love it.

You can watch it here:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August 2, 1963: The College All Stars Stun The Pack

On August 2, 1963, a group of College All Stars stunned the two-time defending champion Green Bay Packers 20-17 in front of a crowd of more than 65,000 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Some said that the Green Bay squad looked disinterested from the start, while the group of NFL hopefuls gave it their all as they pulled off the stunner. The hero of the day was Rose Bowl MVP Ron Vander Kelen. The Wisconsin quarterback's squad was clinging to a 13-10 lead with just three minutes to go when he found his college teammate Pat Richter on a short strike that turned into a 74-yard touchdown. The 20-17 score is a bit deceiving as the Pack scored their final touchdown with just six seconds to go in the contest. 

     The improbable victory was also highlighted by two key field goals by Miami of Ohio's Bob Jencks, and a Texas A&M's Tommy Janik who picked off a Bart Starr pass, which led to the first lead of the day for the All Stars. Beginning in 1934, the defending NFL Champion played the College All Stars annually until 1976, besides in 1974 when a labor dispute forced the game to be cancelled. The pros won 31 out of 42 contests. The college kids won nine, while two games were played to a tie. I don't know about you, but I would love to see this much more than watching the Pro Bowl. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1, 1945: Irv Hall Gets A Hit When Dutch Leonard Loses The Ball In His Pants

     On August 1, 1945, during the eighth inning of the first game of a doubleheader at Griffith Stadium in Washington, the Philadelphia Athletics second baseman Irv Hall picked up a hit in an unconventional manner when he smoked a ball right back at the Senators starter Dutch Leonard. The hurler lost track of the ball momentarily, before he realized that somehow the ball got tangled up in his uniform and ended up in his pants. The crowd got a good laugh out of the spectacle, but Leonard had to get back to work. He had surrendered a run in the inning already and was holding onto a slim 2-1 lead with just one out when the incident took place. The hurler induced Hal Peck into an inning ending double play, before taking care of business in the ninth, as he helped his team hang onto win the contest by the same 2-1. It's safe to say a few laughs were had in the locker room after that one. The Senators also won the second contest 3-0.

Check out the box score here: