20th anniversary: Blue Jays mascot ejectedby Chris Jaffe
May 22, 2013
Ejections happen most every day in baseball, but the ejection that happened 20 years ago today was like virtually none other.
Typically it comes when a player or manager argues with an umpire and says the magic word to earn the old heave-ho. But on May 22, 1993, it wasn’t a manager or player getting ejected. And the ejection didn’t happen due to an argument with the umpire.
Typically the ejection happens after a call that doesn’t go the team’s way. But 20 years ago, strangely enough, that wasn’t the case. This was a very different ejection indeed.
But the most notable part of the ejection was the person being ejected. You see, it wasn’t a person at all, it was a giant foam rubber costume. Specifically, it was BJ Birdy, the mascot for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It was May 22, 1993 when Toronto hosted the Minnesota Twins and it didn’t take long for Birdy to go bye-bye.
In the bottom of the first, Roberto Alomar came to the plate with none on and one out, and he promptly drilled one to left that Minnesota outfielder David McCarty tried to catch. Was it a hit or an out?
The man in the form rubber mask was sure he knew—it was a hit! Of course it was a hit! He knew it was a hit! And that wasn’t all. Birdy also knew that second base umpire Jim McKean blew the call.
Well no self-respecting mascot was going to take that lying down. So Birdy tried rile up the Saturday crowd of 50,510 against the ump. That’ll show him!
Yeah, well, there are a few problems here. First the good news. Birdy was right—the ball was trapped. But he was wrong in thinking the umpire blew the call. In fact, McKean called it “no catch” and Alomar skated into second with a double.
Oh, and Birdy doesn’t really have the authority to show up McKean. You know who does have the authority to show someone up? The umpire, that’s who. For trying to incite the crowd against the umpire—and not even realizing the umpire made the right call (a call that helped the home team), Birdy got the thumb.
The rest of the game was pretty generic. Alomar scored a few seconds later on a Paul Molitor single, and Toronto went on to romp, 7-0. But not before the Jays' mascot got ejected for arguing on a call that went his team’s way. Weird. And that weirdness was 20 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Albert Pujols launches his 400th home run. He does that despite receiving three intentional walks in this game.
2,000 days since the Mets trade talented but underachieving prospect Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church.
6,000 days since Texas signs free agent John Wetteland.
7,000 days since Roger Wolff dies. He won 20 games for the 1945 Senators.
8,000 days since Mo Vaughn makes his big league debut.
8,000 days since Cleveland trades Tom Candiotti and another player to Toronto for Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten, a third player, and cash.
9,000 days since Whitey Herzog endures his 1,000th loss as a manager.
9,000 days since Dave Stieb throws the third of five career one-hitters. In fact, this is the second straight start he’s come one out from a no-hitter, only to be denied.
9,000 days since volatile pitcher Joaquin Andujar appears in his last game.
9,000 days since Sandy Alomar Jr. appears in his first big league contest.
9,000 days since President Ronald Reagan does a half-inning of play-by-play for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
15,000 days since Don Zimmer manages his first game.
20,000 days since all nine starters for the Douglas Cooper Kings hit a home run in their 22-8 victory over the Chichuahua Dorados in the Arizona-Mexico League.
20,000 days since Gary Gaetti is born.
25,000 days since Steve Renko is born.
30,000 days since the White Sox purchase Lu Blue from the Browns for $15,000.
50,000 days since the first triple play in professional baseball happens.
1875 Pud Galvin, baseball’s first 300-game winner, makes his big league debut—if you consider the National Association a big league.
1883 Billy Sunday, outfielder who will find tremendous success as a preacher after his playing days are over, makes his big league debut.
1888 Ed Delahanty, one of the best hitters of his generation, debuts in the big leagues.
1891 Well, that was unexpected. Hall of Fame pitcher Mickey Welch hits into a walk-off triple play.
1897 There aren’t too many times when a Hall of Fame player is released by a team in the middle of his career, but one of those times happens here, when the Giants do just that to first baseman Jake Beckley. He’s 29 years old when New York overreacts to a slow start. Cincinnati will pick Beckley up, and he’ll play for that franchise effectively for years.
1901 Reds pitcher Noodles Hahn fans 16 Braves batters in one game. That will be the club record for Cincinnati until Jim Maloney tops it in 1963. Hahn is a pitcher with tremendous talent whose arm just isn’t strong enough to hold up long enough.
1902 Al Simmons, Hall of Famer with five straight 200-hit seasons, is born.
1902 Veteran center fielder George Van Haltren snaps a small bone near his right ankle while stealing second base. This effectively ends his career—he’ll play in just 80 more games.
1905 George Zettlein, a top pitcher in baseball’s primordial days, dies at age 60.
1907 Umpire Billy Evans needs a police escort after Tigers manager Hughie Jennings incites a riot over an Evans call in Detroit. The AL will suspend Jennings for this.
1911 Boston hurler Cliff Curtis loses his 23rd consecutive game, a streak dating back to June 13, 1910.
1913 The Giants make one of the worst trades in franchise history. To gain Art Fromme from the Reds, New York gives $20,000 and three players: Red Ames, Josh Devore, and the real prize, Heinie Groh. With the Reds, Groh will develop into a star and a man who arguably deserves a place in Cooperstown. With the Giants, Fromme will win 20 games over two-plus seasons.
1913 The Yankees endure one of their most frustrating losses ever, getting shut out by the Browns with 14 runners stranded on base. Rookie pitcher Dwight Stone plunks three batters, walks seven, and surrenders six hits—but none score.
1914 For the first time all season, the Braves win back-to-back games. Despite this bad start, they’ll win the World Series this year.
1915 AL skipper Lee Fohl manages his first game. He’ll last a decade running the Indians, Browns, and Red Sox.
1919 Star Tigers outfielder Bobby Veach gets his 1,000th hit.
1922 Age be damned, 35-year-old Eddie Collins smacks two triples in one game.
1922 Frank "Home Run" Baker hits his last career home run. He had fewer than 100 career dingers, but that was a lot for his era. Star pitcher Urban Shocker allows it.
1923 Negro League outfielder Cristobal Torriente hits for the cycle at the plate but late in the game is called on as an emergency reliever. He throws two pitches, both of which are wild, and his team loses.
1923 It’s a great 15-inning pitchers duel. Hall of Fame starting pitcher Herb Pennock posts a Game Score of 105 with this line: 15 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K in a 3-1 win. Going the distance in defeat is Mike Cvengros, whose Game Score is only 75 due to 21 base runners and three earned runs. Despite the triple-digit night, this is not Pennock’s best career Game Score.
1926 Yankee phenom Waite Hoyt wins his 100th game, making him 100-74. He’s one of fewer than 20 live ball pitchers to win 150 games before turning 30.
1926 Before today’s game at Wrigley Field, star Cubs pitcher Pete Alexander receives a Lincoln automobile as a gift from Cubs fans. Later in this same home stand, he’ll be cut from the team by rookie manager Joe McCarthy.
1926 The Cardinals have Rogers Hornsby Day in St. Louis, giving their star $1,000 in gold and a medal. He’ll last this season and next with the team, unlike Chicago’s Alexander.
1927 Late-bloomer Dazzy Vance wins his 100th game. He’s 100-58 in his career so far.
1928 Carl Mays, one of the best pitchers not in Cooperstown, wins his 200th game. He’s 200-124 in his career at this point.
1928 White Sox center fielder Johnny Mostil ties a record by fielding 12 balls in a game.
1928 There’s a new all-time strikeout king and his name is Babe Ruth. The Sultan of Swat fans for the 850th time, passing up Jimmy Sheckard as the all-time leader for batters.
1930 The Yankees' big stars come through in today’s double header against the A’s. The main star is, of course, Ruth. Yesterday he smacked three homers in the first game of a double header, and today he smacks another three homers—two in the first game, and the other in the second game. Lou Gehrig belts three homers in the second game. One of those is the seventh of his record 23 grand slams. Gehrig ends the second game with eight RBIs, tying his personal best. The Yankees win the games, 10-1 and 20-13. Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri gets five hits and scores five runs, both personal bests, in the second game.
1934 Arne Harris, longtime producer of baseball games on WGN, is born.
1934 Star shortstop Joe Cronin gets his 1,000th hit.
1934 Lou Gehrig enjoys his 10th straight game with at least one RBI. It’s the second time he’s done that.
1936 Phillies pitcher Bucky Walters has quite the day, throwing a complete-game shutout and smashing a home run. Philadelphia decimates the Giants, 15-0. New York pitcher Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons surrenders the only grand slam of his 200-win career in this game.
1936 St. Louis Cardinals star Pepper Martin scores a run for a 13th straight game.
1937 The Dodgers announce that pitcher Van Mungo has been fined, suspended for three games, and billed $1,500 in damages for a rampage he went on in a St. Louis hotel room.
1937 Hank Greenberg does the nearly impossible, hitting a ball so far at Fenway Park that it leaves the entire park via center field. It’s called the longest shot ever at Fenway.
1938 Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner gets his 2,000th hit, and it takes him just 1,453 games to do so. That said, he has a very empty batting average and really doesn’t belong in Cooperstown.
1938 Hall of Fame pitcher and all-time White Sox win leader Ted Lyons wins his 200th game, for a career record of 200-185.
1938 The Dodgers announce contracts to install lights in Ebbets Field.
1939 Hall of Fame outfielder Heinie Manush plays in his last game.
1941 It’s a pretty heads-up play by base runner Lonny Frey of the Reds. With the bases loaded, a teammate hits an apparent rally-killing double play grounder. But Frey, thinking fast, lets the ball hit him. He’s out, but he’s the only out and the bases are still loaded. Then Ernie Lombardi launches one into the seats for a grand slam.
1942 Ted Williams enlists in the armed forces, but will stay with Boston until called for active duty.
1943 Tommy John, pitcher and surgery, is born.
1946 Negro League star Josh Gibson hits one of the longest bombs ever hit in Forbes Field: 450 feet over the left-center wall. The estimate possibly understates the distance.
1949 Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe becomes the first NL hurler in 11 years to toss a complete-game shutout in his first start. In that same double header, Ken Raffensberger throws an 83-pitch one-hitter, allowing just an eighth-inning single to Gil Hodges.
1952 Pirates farmhand Bill Bell pitches the first of his three no-hitters on the year. .
1953 Irv Noren of the Yankees hits into a walk-off triple play. Washington wins, 12-4.
1954 Hall of Fame A’s pitcher Chief Bender dies at age 70. All his life he preferred to be called Albert Bender.
1954 In the 28th game of his career, Hank Aaron does something he’ll never do again: fan with the bases loaded to end the game.
1956 Young Pirates star Roberto Clemente plays two innings at third base, the only time he’ll ever appear there.
1956 Hard luck early 20th century pitcher Harry Howell dies at age 79. He went 131-146 in his career despite a 109 ERA+.
1957 Robin Roberts surrenders a walk-off home run to future Pirates manager Chuck Tanner. It happens in the 13th inning—and, yes, this is a complete game for Roberts. It’s one of four walk-offs he allows (and the only one Tanner ever hits).
1959 Don Drysdale has the best game of his career. He pitches 13 innings for a complete-game win and a personal-best Game Score (100) and WPA (0.969). His line: 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 11 K. LA tops the Giants, 2-1.
1959 Ken Boyer steals three bases in one game. It’s the only time he ever does that.
1961 Indians pitcher Frank Funk has what WPA considers to be the best relief performance of the decade. He enters in the eighth inning and pitches eight full innings of two-hit relief. He gets the win as Cleveland tops Minnesota in 15 innings. His WPA: 1.316.
1962 In one game, Roger Maris receives four intentional walks. That’s four more than he had all last season when he swatted 61 homers.
1963 Mickey Mantle hits one of his signature moonshot homers in Kansas City. It strikes a foot below the roof in the 11th inning of a game.
1965 For the first time in his Hall of Fame career, Nellie Fox fields a position other than second base. He plays third for a few innings for Houston.
1966 Jose Mesa, closer, is born.
1966 Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda enjoys his best game ever according to WPA: 0.788. He goes 3-for-5 with a homer, run, and two RBIs as he leads the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Reds.
1968 Don Drysdale pitches the third of his six consecutive shutouts during his 58-scoreless-innings streak.
1968 Willie Stargell knocks out three homers in one game for the second time. He just misses No. 4, a ball that lands at the top of the wall and goes for a double. He’s 5-for-5 on the day, his best in professional baseball.
1971 Hank Aaron receives three intentional walks in one game for the only time in his career. The Mets do it and win the game, 8-7.
1971 Mike McCormick, pitcher, appears in his last game.
1972 Dick Fowler, pitcher, dies at age 51. With the A’s, he led the AL in losses in 1946.
1974 In a Chicago-Texas game, Pat Kelly gets things off to a rousing start with a leadoff inside-the-park homer off Fergie Jenkins.
1975 Lefty Grove, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, dies at age 75.
1976 Reggie Smith hits three homers in one game. He leads St. Louis to a 7-6 win over Philadelphia and has his all-time best WPA performance of 0.957. It’s also one of just 15 times he ever plays third base.
1977 Oakland trades pitcher Stan Bahnsen to the Expos for Mike Jorgensen.
1978 A bunt single by Rod Carew off Jon Matlack raises his all-time career average to its highest mark: .336482 (1,959 for 5,822).
1979 Seattle pitcher John Montague ties a franchise record with a 7.2-inning relief outing.
1979 The ill-fated shortstop Dickie Thon debuts in the big leagues. He’ll develop into a star until a fastball hits him in the face, derailing his career.
1979 Knuckleballer Joe Niekro wins his 100th game, which also pushes him over .500 for his career, with a 100-99 record.
1980 Ozzie Smith fans three times in one game for the only time in his career.
1982 Longtime reliever Charlie Hough has recently been converted to a starter, and today he shows why that was a good idea. He posts his all-time best Game Score of 89 with this line: 12 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 5 K in a complete-game win. That same game is also the last one in which long-time weak-hitting infielder Mario Mendoza (of “Mendoza Line” fame) appears.
1983 Boston’s Bob Stanley throws 10 innings in relief. It’s the last time any reliever has lasted that long in an outing.
1983 The Cubs trade reliever Willie Hernandez to the Phillies for Dick Ruthven. Next year, Hernandez will win the Cy Young Award and MVP for the Tigers.
1984 Al Oliver bops his 500th career double. He’s the 24th person to join that club and the first to do since 1977.
1988 Longtime skipper Chuck Tanner manages his last game.
1988 Pedro Guerrero isn’t happy about getting hit by a pitch by David Cone. He’s so unhappy that he tosses his bat at Cone, earning an ejection and a four-game suspension.
1990 In a marathon game, Cubs star Andre Dawson receives five intentional walks. In that same game, Chicago starting pitcher Mike Bielecki lasts 10 innings. The team hasn’t had a guy go over nine innings since then.
1990 Barry Bonds knocks out the first of 11 grand slams.
1991 Dennis Eckersley will have 710 relief appearances in his career, but today’s is special, because today—for the only time in any relief appearance—he picks off a runner.
1992 Felipe Alou makes his dugout debut as Expos skipper.
1993 John Smoltz surrenders his only home run to an opposing pitcher. Dwight Gooden belts it.
1993 Cardinals minor league Diego Ruiz dies in a car accident.
1994 David Cone one-hits the Angels, allowing just a fifth inning single by Chili Davis.
1995 A Carolina League brawl between Durham and Winston-Salem lasts over a half hour and results in 10 ejections. As it happens, it’s “Strike Out Domestic Violence" night at the ballpark.
1996 Chipper Jones enjoys the first of 40 multi-home run games.
1996 It’s Dwight Gooden Day in New York, but the A’s celebrate in their own manner, hitting five homers off him. Geronimo Berroa hits three homers on his own.
1997 The Red Sox strand 16 base runners in an epically frustrating 8-2 loss to the Yankees.
1997 Revenge! Last week, Hideo Nomo sued the wife of Padres star Tony Gwynn for an unlicensed use of the pitcher’s image in a jigsaw puzzle. (No, I don’t know any more than that.) Today, Gwynn goes 3-for-4 against Nomo.
1997 Jason Giambi hits his first of 14 (and counting) grand slams.
1998 He probably knew better than to buy a house there. Newest Florida Marlin Mike Piazza is now former New York Met Mike Piazza. Not long after the team traded for him while dumping half of its roster on LA, Florida sends the star backstop to the Mets for Preston Wilson and two other players.
1998 Cincinnati belatedly retires No. 20 for Frank Robinson.
1998 Yuck. For the second time in three days, Vladimir Guerrero fans with the bases loaded to end a game.
1999 Oops. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks clearly has some control problems, as he hits three batters in a row.
1999 Mark McGwire becomes just the third person to hit the ball completely out of Dodger Stadium. Willie Stargell and Mike Piazza did it before him—with Stargell doing it twice.
2000 Only 3,913 are on hand in County Stadium to see it, but Milwaukee stages the greatest comeback in franchise history, scoring seven times in the ninth to top Houston, 10-9.
2001 Bruce Bochy manages his 1,000th game. His record: 510-490.
2001 Barry Bonds homers in his sixth consecutive game. Incredibly, even for his standards, it’s the second time this year he’s done that.
2001 The Twins take an early 8-0 lead on the Mariners but have to struggle to win, 12-11. Despite the loss, Seattle will go on to win its next 15 contests, a franchise record.
2002 Minnesota’s Gov. Jesse Ventura approves $330 million in financing for an open-air Twins stadium. This plan requires the team to make a down payment of $120 million.
2002 It sure seems like a big deal at the time, as uber-pitching prospect Mark Prior makes his big league debut with the Cubs.
2002 Rickey Henderson becomes one of the few, the proud, the men who’ve played in 3,000 games.
2002 Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane shocks the stat-head nation by trading sabermetric darling Jeremy Giambi to the Phillies for John Mabry.
2002 Detroit’s Jeff Weaver flirts with a no-hitter, but an eighth-inning double by Cleveland’s Chris Magruder ends his hopes.
2003 56-year-old advertising tycoon Arturo Moreno buys the Angels from Disney for $184 million.
2004 Oakland retires No. 9 for Reggie Jackson.
2004 Star-to-be pitcher Zack Greinke makes his big league debut.
2004 Luis Gonzalez connects for his 2,000th career hit.
2006 Frank Thomas returns to the South Side of Chicago for the first time as a visitor. Now A’s DH, Thomas hits two home runs and one very long single.
2008 Ken Griffey Jr. belts his 200th home run for the Reds, becoming the fourth person ever to hit that many homers for two separate franchises. Jimmie Foxx, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro are also in that club.
2009 Michael Cuddyer hits for the cycle.
2010 Matt Stairs ties Todd Zeile’s record by homering with his 11th different club.
2011 Colby Rasmus becomes the fourth person in the last 90 years of Cardinals franchise history to draw five walks in game. He’s the first person to do it for St. Louis since 1974—but it happened twice in 1974.
2012 The White Sox sign what little is left of infielder Orlando Hudson.
2012 Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins posts a win against Colorado, giving him 69 victories for the club. That allows him to pass Dontrelle Willis as the all-time franchise win leader.
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.