15,000 days since Yaz’s walk-off walkby Chris Jaffe
August 14, 2013
15,000 days ago, long-time Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski had an trip to the plate like none other in his long career. That’s quite a statement, as Yaz had 13,992 plate appearances, one of the highest totals in baseball history.
Still, though, it’s true. For in those 13,992 trips to the dish, Yaz had just one base on balls that ended the game, and that walk-off walk was 15,000 days ago today.
It was July 20, 1972, when the Boston Red Sox hosted the Mustache Gang Oakland A’s club. The A’s had just grown their famous facial hair earlier this summer to win a bonus from team owner Charles Finley. Only young pitcher Vida Blue had refused, and he was the starting pitcher for Oakland today.
The first-place A’s had plenty of star power: Blue, Reggie Jackson, Bert Campaneris, Joe Rudi, and Sal Bando all were in the starting lineup today. But the man many in Fenway were most interested in seeing was A’s skipper Dick Williams. He’d led Boston to its Impossible Dream surprise pennant in 1967, only to lose his job two years later, in part because Boston star Yaz didn’t get along with him.
Boston took an early 2-0 lead but lost it when veteran pitcher Gary Peters—in the 14th and final season of his career—surrendered a three-run homer to Rudi. The game stayed 3-2 in favor of Oakland for quite a while. For his part, Yastrzemski had a lousy day, with a ground out, a pair of whiffs, and a line out. Oakland clung to its 3-2 lead heading into the ninth.
Facing Oakland fireman Rollie Fingers, Boston tied the score when young Ben Oglivie scored from first on a Doug Griffin single. A little later, Yaz came up with two outs and Griffin—now the winning run—on second. A single would give Boston the win, but Yaz popped up to left. He was now 0-for-5 as his rotten day went on.
Extra innings beckoned, and Boston rallied in the bottom of the 11th. By now, Darold Knowles was pitching for Oakland, and he allowed a ground-rule double to lead off the inning.
After fanning a young Carlton Fisk, Knowles faced veteran pitcher Sonny Siebert. Normally, you’d expect a pinch hitter instead of a pitcher coming up in a situation like this, but as unlikely as it sounds, the pitcher was a pinch hitter. The year before, Siebert had batted .266 with a half-dozen homers, so Beantown skipper Eddie Kasko went with him. And Siebert made Kasko look brilliant, singling the lead runner to third.
With the winning run now just 90 feet from victory, Knowles managed to strike out the next batter. He was just one out from surviving. Now it was Williams’ turn to make a questionable managerial maneuver. He ordered Knowles to walk the next hitter intentionally and face Yaz with the bases loaded. Now, the extra runner made no difference to game; if the lead guy scored, Boston won, so who cares? But there were two outs now, so it made no difference if they could get a force at every base as long as they could get the first guy out. More importantly, instead of facing the comparatively lackluster Griffin, Boston’s chances were in the hands of the former Triple Crown winner, Yastrzemski.
Worst of all for Oakland, Knowles had no margin for error. There were no bases to spare. And he needed that margin for error, a fact he proved when he walked Yaz, a bases-loaded base on balls that brought home the runner from third and ended the game. It was the rare walk-off walk, and it was 15,000 days ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Bud Selig says baseball is considering expanding the postseason by two more teams.
2,000 days since the Dodgers sign free agent infielder Orlando Hudson.
3,000 days since the Cubs trade reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants for two players. Chicago also sends cash in the deal.
3,000 days since the Reds retire No. 10 for Sparky Anderson.
7,000 days since Jim Thome hits the first of his record 13 walk-off home runs.
7,000 days since Ismael Valdez makes his big league debut.
7,000 days since Paul Molitor has his worst game according to WPA. He’s 1-for-5 with a pair of GIDPs for a –0.385 WPA.
7,000 days since Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 161st home run as a Mariner, passing up Alvin Davis as franchise leader. He still is franchise leader.
9,000 days since Atlanta signs free agent Darrell Evans.
15,000 days since Texas trades Don Mincher to the A’s in a five-player trade.
1888 Hall of Famer Tim Keefe’s 19-game winning streak comes to an end.
1895 The Baltimore Orioles win, putting Hall of Fame manager Ned Hanlon’s career record over .500 (363-362). He’ll be over .500 for the rest of his days.
1898 Boston sells former star pitcher Jack Stivetts to St. Louis.
1902 Tommy Leach, star Pirates infielder, hits two inside-the-park home runs in one game.
1908 Young Walter Johnson has a no-hitter going until the ninth, when he allows a pair of singles to the opposing White Sox. He still leads Washington to a 1-0 win.
1912 Paul Dean, Dizzy’s brother (nicknamed Daffy), is born.
1912 A’s infielder Stuffy McInnis hits two inside-the-park home runs in one game.
1913 The Cubs trade former star pitcher Ed Reulbach to Brooklyn.
1914 Jake Daubert, who is hobbled with an ankle injury, lays down a record six sacrifice bunts in a doubleheader versus Philadelphia at Ebbets Field.
1916 The Giants purchase Hall of Fame outfielder Ross Youngs from Sherman in the Western Association for $2,000.
1919 Yankees manager Miller Huggins helms his 1,000th game. His record in that time is: 460-540.
1922 In an exhibition game, Lizzie Murphy plays two innings at first base against the Red Sox, becoming the first woman to compete against big leaguers.
1925 Freddie Lindstrom hits two triples in one game for the only time in his career. Despite that, he ends the day with zero runs scored and zero RBIs. That’s tough to do. He also has a caught stealing, so barring reaching on a fielder’s choice, he apparently tried to steal home.
1929 Lefty Grove goes 17 innings, his longest ever start, leading the A’s to a 5-3 win over the Indians. He faces 77 batters, and allows 20 hits, but all of them are singles. That’s the most hits allowed in a game without an extra-base hit in the live-ball era. Grove will throw a complete-game victory four days later. The winning blast is a Jimmie Foxx homer in the top of the 17th.
1930 200-game winner Earl Whitehill is halfway there, as a win today gives him a career record of 100-86.
1930 Hall of Fame skipper Earl Weaver is born.
1932 Dizzy Dean fans six batters in a row, one shy of the record at the time.
1932 Spitballer Jack Quinn becomes the oldest player to win a game, when the 49-year-old notches a victory against the Giants. This record since has been eclipsed by Jamie Moyer.
1933 Jimmie Foxx drives in a personal-best nine runs in Philadelphia’s 11-5 win over the Indians. Foxx is 4-for-5 while hitting for the cycle.
1935 Tigers pitcher Schoolboy Rowe has a double, triple, and three singles in an 18-2 win over The Senators.
1935 Super fastball pitcher Dazzy Vance appears in his last game. He had quite a run for himself while it lasted.
1937 Detroit star second baseman Charlie Gehringer collects a personal-high 12 total bases in one game with two singles, a double, and two home runs. It’s in one of two blowout victories Detroit has on the day over the Browns, 16-1 and 20-7.
1937 Joe Horlen, pitcher, is born.
1937 Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor appears in his final game.
1938 Bobo Newsom, who will never throw a no-hitter, has one of five career one-hitters today. Birdie Tebbetts gets the hit as Newsom fans 12 while walking six.
1938 Hank Greenberg has maybe his worst game ever, going 0-for-4 with four Ks.
1939 30,000 see the first night game at Comiskey Park. The Sox top the Browns, 5-2.
1943 Hall of Fame outfielder Joe Kelley dies.
1945 Lou Boudreau breaks his ankle in a collusion at home plate.
1945 In a public relations gesture, wounded World War II veteran Bert Shepard plays in his only big league game. He lost part of his right leg fighting in Germany.
1946 It’s the first time separate admission is charged for both games in a doubleheader. It’s a Giants-Dodgers twin bill at Ebbets Field.
1952 The Browns trade star pitcher Ned Garver to Detroit in an eight-player trade.
1953 White Sox star pitcher Billy Pierce throws his third consecutive complete-game shutout. He’s allowed 11 hits and five walks while fanning 21 in this period.
1954 Leo Durocher suffers his 1,000th loss as manager for a 1,268-1,000 career record.
1954 1970s phenom pitcher Mark "the Bird" Fidrych is born.
1955 Duke Snider endures his worst known game according to WPA. He’s 1-for-5 with a GIDP for a –0.473 WPA in a 3-2 Dodgers loss to the Phillies.
1955 Yogi Berra reaches base six times in one game, a personal best. He has three hits, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch.
1958 Reds manager Birdie Tebbetts resigns.
1958 Vic Power steals home twice in one game, with the second one coming in the 10th inning for a 10-9 Indians win over the Tigers.
1959 It’s a wild one as the Reds top the Phillies, 15-13, despite being down 8-0 early.
1960 Young Cardinals batter Bill White hits for the cycle.
1960 Fred Clarke, Hall of Fame left fielder and for a brief while the game’s all-time winningest manager, dies at age 87.
1962 Mark Gubicza, Royals pitcher, is born.
1963 The Red Sox sign amateur free agent Jim Lonborg.
1963 Hank Aaron hits his second grand slam off Don Drysdale. In his career, Drysdale will allow just three slams, but two of them are by Aaron.
1964 The Angels suspend Bo Belinsky for attacking sportswriter Braven Dyer.
1964 Frank Robinson steals three bases in one game for the only time in his career.
1965 Griffith Park is demolished, ending its half-century-plus existence.
1965 The Phillies lose, 1-0 in 10 innings, on a walk-off error. Ouch.
1965 The Red Sox's all-time franchise record hits .500 (4,924-4,924), and they’ll stay below this level for the next four years.
1968 Montreal officially gets an NL franchise.
1971 Atlanta purchases Tony LaRussa from Oakland.
1971 Bob Gibson has a dominating outing, fanning 10 and collecting three RBIs at the plate in a 11-0 Cardinals win over the Pirates.
1973 Rod Carew gets his 1,000th hit in style, going 5-for-6 to move up from 995 to 1,000 career safeties.
1973 Graig Nettles gets his 100th career home run.
1973 Jerry Royster makes his big league debut.
1975 Phil Niekro hits his only career triple. He’s 36 years old.
1977 Bill Travers becomes the first pitcher to allow 14 runs in one game since 1947. His line: 7.2 IP, 18 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 4 BB, and 4 K for a Game Score of –13.
1977 Juan Pierre is born. He, Paul Molitor, and Rogers Hornsby are the only players in history to have 200-hit seasons with three separate franchises.
1979 Joaquin Andujar pitcher to hit an inside-the-park home run since 1970. No one’s hit one since then.
1980 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent pitcher Tom Niedenfuer
1981 Mike Schmidt gets his 300th career home run.
1981 Jeff Burroughs hits three home runs in one game. He is the first Mariner ever to do it.
1981 Bob Brenly makes his big league debut.
1981 Steve Bedrosian makes his big league debut. He’ll win a Cy Young Award in his career.
1982 Atlanta ends an 11-game losing streak, and that puts them 1.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
1982 Pete Rose passes Hank Aaron for most plate appearances in a career with his 12,365th trip to the plate today.
1983 Pete Rose, despite being 42 years old, steals two bases in one game. He’s done that once a year since 1979.
1984 Clay Buchholz is born.
1984 The White Sox retire No. 11 for former shortstop Luis Aparicio.
1985 Keith Hernandez suffers through his worst game ever according to WPA. He’s 0-for-5 with two Ks and a GIDP. The GIDP is a game-ender that comes with the bases loaded in a 2-1 Mets loss to the Phillies. One of his strikeouts was a K-CS double play. His WPA on the day: -0.755.
1986 Pete Rose gets his 4,256th and final career hit.
1990 George Bell ties a record with three sacrifice flies in one game.
1990 Luis Polonia hits an inside-the-park grand slam for the Angels in a 9-5 win over the Yankees.
1991 Dave Winfield hits his 400th career home run.
1991 For the second straight day, Fred McGriff hits a grand slam.
1991 A would-be no-hitter for Randy Johnson is broken up in the ninth by a Mike Gallego single.
1993 The Yankees retire No. 44 for Reggie Jackson.
1996 Eddie Murray has his 31st and final career multi-home run game.
1996 Andre Dawson announces he’ll retire at the end of the season.
1996 Roger McDowell, pitcher, appears in his final game.
1997 The Angels release Eddie Murray.
1998 Jim Leyland manages his 2,000th game. His record is 987-1,011.
1998 Baltimore’s Chris Hoiles hits two grand slams in one game, a 15-3 win over the Indians.
1998 The Dodgers retire No. 20 for Don Sutton.
1998 St. Louis releases aging third baseman Gary Gaetti.
1999 Pee Wee Reese dies.
1999 Casey Blake makes his big league debut.
2000 Ken Heintzelman, swingman NL pitcher at the mid-century, dies.
2001 Craig Biggio hits his third leadoff home run in four days.
2002 Ellis Burks gets his 2,000th career hit.
2002 Reds catcher Jason LaRue has an inning from hell, allowing three passed balls and a wild pitch in the first frame. Yes, the hurler is a knuckler, Jared Fernandez.
2003 Travis Hafner hits for the cycle.
2004 Rod Beck appears in his last game.
2005 The Giants release longtime starting pitcher Kirk Rueter.
2006 For the first time in over eight years, Bobby Abreu lays down a sacrifice bunt, ending a streak of 5,591 plate appearance without one. He’ll get another one 16 days later.
2006 Chipper Jones gets three home runs in one game. Along with a single, he has a personal-best 13 total bases on the day.
2006 Pedro Martinez balks for the first time since Sept. 4, 1997.
2006 Tampa releases one-time Padres uber-prospect Sean Burroughs.
2007 Bobby Cox sets a record with his 132nd career ejection.
2007 Infielder Jose Offerman is arrested on two counts of second-degree assault. As a Long Island Duck, he was hit by a pitch and attacked the pitcher and catcher with a bat, resulting in a broken finger and concussion.
2008 Tom Glavine appears in his last game.
2008 Mark Kotsay hits for the cycle.
2008 Pablo Sandoval makes his major league debut.
2009 Felix Pie hits for the cycle. It’s the third cycle in the majors this month.
2011 Just four days after his big league debut, Arodys Vizcaino has a nearly impossible line of 0.2 IP with 3 strikeouts. There was a dropped third strike in his outing.
2011 Cody Ross of the Giants hits a two-run homer, ending a team-wide streak of 22 straight homers with no runners on base. It’s San Francisco’s first non-solo home run since July 6.
2011 Here’s a weird one: Atlanta pitchers fan 18 Cubs and walk none but lose anyway, 6-5. In the same game, Braves star Dan Uggla’s 33-game hitting streak comes to an end.
2012 There are six shutouts across major league baseball today. LA tops the Pirates, 11-0. The Yankees defeat the Rangers, 3-0. The Braves squeak by the Padres, 1-0, and the Phillies similarly top the Marlins, 1-0. The Reds beat the Mets 3-0 on a walk-off home run. Finally, the Royals beat the A’s, 5-0.
2012 Kansas City releases Yuniesky Betancourt.
2012 The Pirates sign free agent Dallas McPherson.
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.