10,000 days since Expos nearly blow 12-run leadby Chris Jaffe
February 09, 2013
10,000 days ago, one of the wildest games in Wrigley Field history took place. For a while, it looked like one of the most one-sided, but it ended up a lot closer than anyone could’ve imagined.
It was a sunny afternoon day on Sept. 24, 1985—and the wind was most assuredly blowing out.
Early on there wasn’t much scoring. Sure, Montreal plated a pair in the first on an Andre Dawson homer and added another run in the second, but after four innings it was just 3-1 Expos. Rather routine stuff so far.
The top of the fifth would be anything but routine. After back-to-back singles opened the frame, Dawson broke up the game with a three-run homer. Montreal didn’t back off from there. The next eight batters combined for three singles, a double, two walks (one intentional) and two outs for a 10-2 Expos advantage—with seven runs coming in this inning.
And it still wasn’t over. After all, up to the plate was—again—Andre Dawson. Wouldn’t you know it? Dawson crashed his second three-run homers of the inning. Now it was 13-2. It was also Dawson’s third homer of the game—and second of this inning. Not bad at all.
The workers in Wrigley’s hand-operated scoreboard were so flummoxed by all the fast and furious scoring that they initially put an upside 10 in the top of the fifth inning square for Montreal. They needn’t fix it, because a few minutes later Tim Wallach connected for a two-run homer and a 15-2 lead. Somehow, the Cubs finally got a third out and, man, did it ever look like the game was over. After all, no team had ever overcome a 13-run deficit.
The Cubs scored run one in the sixth. Big whump. Call it a moral victory. It was 15-3 when Harry Caray led the crowd singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the seventh-inning stretch.
The Cubs showed a little more life in the seventh, scoring three runs. 15-6 now. Then they gave up a pair in the eighth. They now trailed by 11 with six outs to go. Maybe now would be a good time to head for the exits, right?
Well, in the bottom of the eighth the Cubs had a mighty nice rally. Three singles, a wild pitch, and a Gary Matthewshomer made it 17-10. That’s close if it were a football game. But the inning kept going and with one out they had runners on the corners. But that’s where the rally died, with a strikeout and then a fly ball. Momentary thoughts of a comeback are predictably dashed.
When the Cubs made the second out in the bottom of the ninth, it was still 17-10 with runners on third and second. Chances for victory were non-existent, but the Cubs were going to show some fight yet.
First Ron Cey singled in both runners to make it 17-12. Then second baseman Dave Owen (who replaced star Ryne Sandberg when the game was a blowout) walked. Veteran shortstop Chris Speier singled home Cey to make it 17-13. The tying run was actually on deck.
After Leon Durham doubled home Owen and Speier, the game was 17-15 with the tying run at the plate. Four straight batters had reached base and five runs had scored with two outs. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they’d run out of people on their bench and so up to the plate representing their last out came backup catcher Steve Lake. Hitting .149 on the year, he was no one’s last best hope. Just to make sure, the Expos put relief ace Jeff Reardon in to nail down the win. That he did, with an easy grounder to first.
The Expos controlled the game throughout, but did anyone ever imagine that they’d have to use their bullpen fireman? They led by 13 at one point!
Oh, and there’s one more memorable feature about this game. Among the 6,947 fans in attendance, were a couple of people named John Hughes and Matthew Broderick—or, as he was called that day, Ferris Bueller. Yup, this is the day they shot the Wrigley Field scenes for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They used clips from a different game in the movie, but this was the day they were at the ballpark.
A mighty full day at the ballpark it was—and it was 10,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary.” The are listed below, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim.
1,000 days since Mariano Rivera allows his first grand slam in eight years. Jason Kubel of Minnesota does it for a 6-3 Minnesota triumph.
2,000 days since the Reds trade Jeff Conine to the Mets.
4,000 days since Houston buys back naming rights of its field from Enron for $2.1 million. Naturally, Enron wasn’t going to give it up without a nice paycheck.
6,000 days since Eddie Murray hits his 500th home run.
6,000 days since Brett Butler returns to the Dodgers four months after surgery for throat cancer and scores the decisive run in their 3-2 win over the Pirates.
6,000 days since the Cardinals retire No. 9 for Enos Slaughter.
9,000 days since the Reds release Mario Soto, their former ace pitcher.
9,000 days since Mark McGwire hits a triple. He’ll go another decade until he does it again.
20,000 days since the Tigers purchase pitcher Herm Wehmeier from the Cardinals.
20,000 days since Robin Roberts allows a walk-off home run to Ted Kluszewski in the 12th inning of a Reds-Phillies game.
25,000 days since Bill Duggleby, deadball pitcher, dies.
25,000 days since Tug McGraw, reliever, is born.
40,000 days since part of the Baker Bowl collapses in Philadelphia, killing a dozen and injuring more than 200.
1884 The Reds ballpark is under 20 feet of water due to flooding from the Ohio River.
1886 The National League admits the Kansas City Cowboys to the league on a one-year trial basis. It doesn’t take.
1887 The Kansas City Cowboys go out of business and sell their players. (See? I told you it didn’t take). The Pittsburgh Pirates will take their spot in the NL.
1887 Heinie Zimmerman is born. He’ll become a star third baseman before being banned for betting on games. In 1912, he’ll nearly win a triple crown, leading the NL in homers and batting average while coming third in RBIs. He also finish first in slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, doubles, and hits.
1895 The Giants institute reserved grandstand seats to attract businessmen.
1914 Hall of Fame owner Bill Veeck is born.
1914 Jack Farrell, 1880s second baseman, dies at age 56.
1920 Baseball bans all “freak deliveries”—most notably the spitball. But 17 pitchers are grandfathered in.
1924 The Washington Senators name 27-year-old infielder Bucky Harris their manager.
1925 Vic Wertz is born. He’s most remembered for hitting that ball deep to center in the 1954 World Series that Willie Mays caught in one of the most famous fielding plays in history. Aside from that, Wertz was a four-time All-Star.
1927 The A’s sign free agent legend Ty Cobb.
1927 The Giants and Reds trade a pair of Hall of Famers for each other. The Reds send Edd Roush, one of the best center fielders of his generation, to the Giants for money and George Kelly, one of the worst Hall of Fame selections ever.
1937 Clete Boyer is born. He’ll play 16 seasons as a standout defensive third baseman.
1945 Jim Nash is born. He’ll have a few decent seasons pitching for the A’s in the 1960s.
1946 Preacher Roe of the Pirates suffers a concussion in an altercation with a referee at a high school basketball game in Arkansas. Some altercation!
1946 The Washington Senators release former hard-hitting third baseman Harlond Clift.
1951 The Browns sign the ageless Satchel Paige to pitch relief for them.
1953 Boston trades infielder Vern Stephens to the White Sox for three players.
1954 The Pirates sign free agent Walker Cooper.
1956 Mookie Wilson, bane of Bill Buckner’s existence, is born.
1958 Pete O’Brien is born. For a few years, he’ll be a pretty good first baseman for the Texas Rangers.
1959 Frank D. Lawrence, owner of a minor league club in Portsmouth, Va., files a $250,000 lawsuit against MLB, claiming breach of contract. Specifically, he says its broadcast of games is killing his business.
1961 John Kruk, career .300 hitter, is born.
1971 Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro Leaguer named into Cooperstown.
1972 Angels infielder Chico Ruiz dies at age 33 in a car crash.
1975 Star slugger Vladimir Guerrero is born.
1981 The Giants sign free agent second baseman Joe Morgan.
1983 Jackie Hayes dies at age 76. The second baseman played for 14 years in the AL.
1983 The Royals sign free agent Steve Renko.
1984 Dioner Navarro, All-Star catcher for the 2008 Rays, is born.
1987 Larry French dies at age 79. He won 197 games and could’ve won more. First the Navy drafted him during World War II and then he decided to stay in, retiring in the 1960s.
1988 The A’s sign free agent Don Baylor, who played on the 1986 pennant winning Red Sox and 1987 AL champion Twins. The 1988 A’s will give Baylor a place on three straight pennant winning AL squads—all with different franchises.
1988 The White Sox trade Jose DeLeon to the Cardinals for Lance Johnson, Ricky Horton and cash. The Sox get the best of this deal with the young Johnson coming to them.
1989 Wade Boggs challenges the $6 million palimony suit Margo Adams filed against him.
1990 Baseball owners warn that they won’t open spring training camps if there is no new collective bargaining agreement in place with the players.
1994 The Phillies trade Terry Mulholland to the Yankees.
1994 Ray Lamanno dies at age 74. He’s one of the more unlikely All-Stars in baseball history. He represented the 1946 Reds in the game, which is weird because he hit .243 with one homer and no stolen bases in just 85 games that season. He must have been an outstanding defensive catcher. To be fair, at the time of the All-Star break he was hitting .272—but in just 54 games. In his career, he played 442 games over five years—but nobody will ever be able to take away the fact that he grounded out in the eighth inning of the All-Star game against Jack Kramer of the St. Louis Browns.
1995 Darryl Strawberry pleads guilty to income tax evasion. He’ll spend three months in jail for this.
2005 The Cubs trade Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers.
2006 A jury says the Angels didn’t breach their contract with the city of Anaheim when they changed their franchise’s name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
2007 Hank Bauer dies at age 84. He played on all but one of Casey Stengel’s Yankees teams and later managed the 1966 Orioles to a world title. He was also famously described as having “a face like a clenched fist.”
2009 Alex Rodriguez publicly admits that he used steroids from 2001-03.
2009 The Cardinals release second baseman Adam Kennedy.
2010 The Twins sign free agent Jacque Jones. This allows Jones to retire as a member of the team he had his best seasons with.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.