20th anniversary: Robby Thompson’s unexpected power surgeby Chris Jaffe
June 24, 2013
Twenty years ago today, baseball had one of its most unexpected power surges. Or, to be more precise, a strange and unexpected power surge continued for a second straight day.
On June 24, 1993, Giants second baseman Robby Thompson belted two home runs in one game. That’s nice, but two-homer games happen all the time. True, but making it a bit more special, this was the second straight day Thompson had two homers in a game. Okay, that’s a bit more interesting. Still, that’s hardly terribly unusual. More than a few players have enjoyed consecutive multi-home games. Again, true, but there is an extra factor here.
You see, prior to June 23-24, 1993, the 31-year-old Robby Thompson never had a multi-home run game. Not in the major leagues. Not in the minor leagues. Not in college. Not in high school. Not in Little League. Not ever in this lifetime.
And then he did it two days in a row. Yeah, that’s notable.
The fun began on June 23, 1993, when Thompson and his Giants teammates hosted the Padres. In the first inning, Thompson went deep against San Diego’s Greg Harris for his first homer in over a month. Six innings later, Harris was still on the mound when Thompson led off the seventh with his second homer of the game. Thus, in the 1,045th game of his career, Thompson finally had a multi-home run game. Surely he was happy with that.
So you can only imagine how happy he was after June 24, 1993. New in San Francisco were the visiting Colorado Rockies. Thompson had probably the best game of his life, going 5-for-5 with four runs in a 17-2 Giants (and giant) whumping of the expansion team from Colorado. But no swings were bigger than Thompson’s fourth-inning homer against Willie Blair and his eighth-inning shot against Mark Grant.
While Thompson was never much of a power hitter, it’s surprising he never had any kind of multi-home run game until this time. In his late 20s, he developed some ‘tweener power, peaking with 19 homers in 1991 (a total he’d match in 1993, thanks to his June power surge).
In fact, he’d enjoy another two-homer game in September and a final one in 1995. But nothing ever will be more memorable than the time the man who never homered more than once a game did it twice two days in a row, and that happened 20 years 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 Ken Burns' “Baseball: Top of the 10th Inning” first airs.
2,000 days since former pitcher Gerry Staley passes away.
3,000 days since former big leaguer Bob Kennedy dies.
5,000 days since the Mets beat the Braves, 3-2, in Game Four of the 1999 NLCS. It’s 1-0 after seven innings, but each team plates a pair in the eighth.
7,000 days since Paul Molitor, age 37 years, eight months, and three days, hits the first inside-the-park home run of his career. Surprisingly, he’ll get another one.
7,000 days since Ryne Sandberg, 34 years and seven months old, hits two triples in one game.
8,000 days since Paul Molitor gets his 2,000th career hit.
15,000 days since Johnny Bench legs out the only inside-the-park home run of his career.
15,000 days since Manny Ramirez is born.
20,000 days since Dale Long catches the ninth inning of a game, thus becoming one of the few left-handed catchers of the 20th century.
20,000 days since first baseman Dee Fondy plays his last game. He ends his career with exactly 1,000 hits.
20,000 days since pitcher Bill Wight appears in his final contest.
20,000 days since Yogi Berra plays his only full game at third base.
30,000 days since Willie Mays is born.
1865 Billy Nash, star 19th-century third baseman, is born.
1882 Umpire Dick Higham is banned for life after he’s implicated in conspiracy with gamblers. He is still the only umpire banned for life.
1897 Dick Harley of St. Louis gets six hits in a 12-innning game.
1899 Frank Dwyer, three-time 20-game winner, appears in his last game. His career record is 177-151.
1901 Bill Phillips pitches a complete game despite allowing 19 runs on 22 hits. It was a very different time. Opposing pitcher Doc White gets four hits, including an inside-the-park home run, as the Phillies destroy the Reds, 19-1.
1901 Mike Donlin becomes the first player in AL history to collect six hits in a game.
1901 Veteran catcher Deacon McGuire guns down five of five would-be base-stealers.
1902 Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie hits the first grand slam in Indians history.
1905 Cubs pitcher Ed Reulbach goes the distance in an 18-inning, 2-1 win over the Cardinals.
1907 At a Tri-State League game in Williamsport, a lightning bolt hits the grandstand, bringing the game to an immediate end. Pitcher Rube Vickers requires medical attention.
1907 Rollie Hemsley, five-time All Star catcher, is born.
1908 Honus Wagner has a nice day as he steals home and belts a homer. Nice combination.
1908 Clark Griffith, the only manager the New York Highlanders (now called the Yankees) have ever had since the franchise moved to New York from Baltimore in 1903, resigns. He’s upset that the front office won’t spend money on the team.
1910 Cubs first baseman Solly Hofman records zero putouts in a game. He has one assist and one error.
1911 Roger Bresnahan strikes out looking to end today’s Giants game. He’s upset and gets into an argument with home plate ump Bill Klem. Klem doesn’t like it and punches Bresnahan. The league will fine Klem $50 for his punch.
1912 The Boston Braves purchase Bill James from the Northwestern League’s Seattle franchise. He’ll be one of their star pitchers in the 1914 Miracle Braves season.
1912 Washington selects pitcher Hippo Vaughn off waivers from the Yankees. He doesn’t do much for either team but later becomes a big star with the Cubs.
1913 Dan Griner of the Cardinals gives up 11 hits but wins 1-0 over the Giants anyway.
1915 The Cubs top the Cardinals, 14-13, on a walk-off steal of home in the bottom of the ninth by Heinie Zimmerman. The Cubs score four in the ninth to win.
1915 Future Hall of Famer George Sisler graduates from college and signs with the St. Louis Browns.
1917 Fred Toney should stick to pitching, as he’s caught stealing three times in one game.
1924 Pirates reliever Emil Yde is the hitting hero today against Chicago. He ties the game with a double in the ninth and then wins it with a triple in the 14th.
1925 Lou Gehrig will have 102 stolen bases in his career but none more memorable than the one he gets today, his first one. He steals home on the front end of a delayed double steal, with Yankee catcher Wally Schang swiping second.
1928 For the third time in eight days, Pete Alexander defeats the Reds.
1929 Hack Wilson becomes the first person to homer 100 times for the Cubs. They’re the ninth franchise with a 100-HR player.
1931 George Watkins hits three homers in one game for the Cardinals.
1933 Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan has possibly his best game ever, going 5-for-5 while hitting for the cycle. He scores thrice and drives in five runs on the day, leading the Pirates to a 15-3 beating of the Dodgers.
1934 Babe Ruth belts his 16th and final grand slam. It’s career home run No. 697.
1936 Joe DiMaggio enjoys the first of 35 career multi-home run games. Today’s homers both come in the same inning, the fifth.
1938 Don Mincher, AL star in the 1960s, is born.
1941 Joe DiMaggio keeps his streak alive, barely. He finally gets his hit in the eighth inning to reach 36 straight games. Opposing pitcher Luke Sewell says after the game that he wouldn’t walk DiMaggio in that situation; that wouldn’t be fair.
1942 Ted Williams launches the first of 12 homers off Tigers pitcher Virgil Trucks. That’s the most homers he’ll have against any pitcher.
1943 Stan Musial legs out a triple for the third straight game. He’ll do that one other time in his career.
1945 Hall of Fame skippers Joe McCarthy and Connie Mack square off against each other for the 300th time.
1946 Nine members of the Spokane Indians die when their bus plunges into a ravine. Jack Lohrke left the bus at the previous stop (he’d been ordered to a new team), earning him the nickname Lucky Lohrke.
1947 Jackie Robinson steals home for the first of 19 times in his career.
1948 Jackie Robinson belts a walk-off grand slam, the first of five career walk-off homers.
1949 The New York Yankees sign Oklahoma amateur Mickey Mantle for $1,000. It’s money well spent.
1949 Ted Williams hits two homers in a game in the first half of a double-header. The last time he swatted two homers in a game was exactly one year before. He’ll do it again tomorrow.
1950 Jackie Robinson hits his second and last career grand slam. So, yes, both slams in Robinson’s career came on June 24.
1950 New York Giant Wes Westrum hits three homers in a game, nearly half of the team’s seven shots on the day. He had 11 career homers before today. Westrum also nails a triple.
1951 Ken Reitz, Cardinals infielder, is born.
1953 Early Wynn is halfway there. He wins No. 150 for a career record of 150-132. He’ll be 150-112 for the rest of his career.
1953 17-year-old Joey Jay signs with the Braves. He becomes the first Little Leaguer to go pro.
1954 Brooks Lawrence, briefly a star NL pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1955 Harmon Killebrew gets his first home run.
1955 Sandy Koufax makes his major league debut.
1956 Ed Bailey of the Reds hits three homers in one game.
1957 Relief pitcher Doug Jones is born.
1958 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent Ron Fairly.
1960 Ed Roebuck becomes the last Dodgers reliever to last nine innings in one outing.
1960 Whitey Lockman appears in his final game.
1961 For the only time in his majestic career, the underrated Frank Robinson swats a trio of doubles in one game.
1962 In the first inning, Jim Perry balks. It’s the third one of his career, but despite pitching 2,563 more innings, he’ll never get No. 4.
1962 The longest game in the history of Tiger Stadium takes place. In 22 innings, the Tigers lose to the Yankees, 9-7.
1963 The Washington Senators purchase Don Zimmer from the Dodgers.
1964 The Twins sign amateur free agent Rod Carew.
1964 University of Wisconsin star Rick Reichardt gets a record bonus of $200,000 to sign with the Angels.
1965 For the last time in his career, Juan Marichal walks the first batter of the game. He’ll start 294 more times but never do that again.
1965 Willie Stargell hits three home runs in one game. He hit two more on June 22, too.
1967 Mickey Mantle hits the last of his 12 career regular-season walk-off home runs. That's the record, which Mantle shares with several others, but Mantle is the only one of them to also have a postseason walk-off home run.
1968 Tiger batter Jim Northrup smashes two grand slams in one game.
1969 White Sox third baseman Bill Melton hits three home runs in one game.
1969 Dick Allen is fined $2,500 and suspended indefinitely for skipping a double-header. He was caught in traffic after going to a New Jersey horse race.
1969 White Sox reliever Wilbur Wood picks up two wins in a double-header versus the Seattle Pilots.
1970 It's a remarkable Yankees-Indians double-header for a couple of reasons. First, Bobby Murcer has the day of his life, hitting four consecutive home runs. Three of the homers come in one game.
Second, in that same double-header, Yankees pitcher Steve Hamilton fans Tony Horton on the “folly floater” circus pitch. An embarrassed Horton crawls on his hands and knees into the dugout. The fans cheer, thinking he’s putting on an act. But he isn’t; he’s heading for a nervous breakdown.
1970 It’s the last game at Cincinnati’s old Crosley Field. Lee May and Johnny Bench hit back-to-back home runs off Juan Marichal in the eighth inning for a 5-4 Reds win over the Giants.
1970 Hank Aguirre, veteran pitcher and one of the worst-hitting hurlers ever, appears in his last game.
1970 Ken Singleton makes his big league debut.
1971 Tom Seaver helps his own cause as his eighth-inning homer is the difference in New York’s 2-1 win over Montreal.
1972 Bernice Gera umpires her first game in the New York-Pennsylvania League. She resigns in tears after the first game of a double-header. She ejected one player and said the attitude of the other umpires was a key factor.
1972 Dick Allen plays third base for the final time.
1973 Milt Pappas strikes out at the plate for the 500th time in his career. He’s the fourth pitcher ever to strike out that many times at the plate, joining Pud Galvin, Lefty Grove and Bob Feller. To date, there hasn’t been a fifth member of the club.
1974 Young Royals stud pitcher Steve Busby retired the last 24 batters he faced last time out, and today he gets the first nine for an AL record 33 consecutive hitters retired. The record has since been broken.
1975 Jerry Koosman wins his 100th career decision for a 100-84 record.
1975 Sudden Sam McDowell plays in his final game.
1976 Rowland Office’s hitting streak ends at 29 games.
1977 Bob Watson hits for the cycle.
1977 D’oh! White Sox outfielder Ralph Garr swats a ball over the fence but ends up with a single. Teammate Jim Essian is on the bases and thought the ball might get caught, so he held to first. Garr didn’t notice him and passed him.
1978 Luis Tiant wins his 11th straight decision, his best streak. It’s nearly the end of the line for him: He’ll be 30-32 for the rest of his career.
1978 Future All Star second baseman Damaso Garcia appears in his first big league contest.
1979 Rickey Henderson makes his big league debut.
1980 Star outfielder Andruw Jones is born.
1983 Don Sutton records his 3,000th career strikeout. It comes during his brief tenure as a Brewer.
1984 Jack Morris, winningest pitcher of the 1980s, records his 100th career victory. His record: 100-67.
1984 Joe Morgan breaks Rogers Hornsby’s old record for most homers by a second baseman with his 265th such shot today.
1984 Twins second baseman Tim Teufel hits an unusual inside-the-park home run. He singles to White Sox right fielder Harold Baines, but the ball takes a bizarre hop and goes over Baines’ head. Added bonus: it comes with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game for a 3-2 Minnesota triumph. Extra added bonus: Teufel’s teammate Randy Bush hit an inside-the-park home run the day before.
1986 All things must end. After he spent nearly 15 years as the team’s ace pitcher, the Phillies release Steve Carlton.
1986 Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes is born.
1986 For the only time in his career, Barry Bonds fans with the bases loaded to end a game. The Cardinals top the Pirates, 5-2.
1988 The Mets retire Tom Seaver’s No. 41.
1989 The Rangers allow just six hits to the Indians, but all of them are home runs. Charlie Hough allows the first five, and reliever Kenny Rogers the last one. Cleveland triumphs, 7-3.
1989 Joe Carter hits three homers in a game for the third time in his career.
1989 Vince Coleman breaks Davey Lopes’ old record for the most consecutive steals without getting caught. Coleman gets No. 39 today and then adds No. 40 for good measure.
1989 Chuck Finley ties his personal best with 15 strikeouts in one day.
1990 Starting pitcher Bob Knepper appears in his last game.
1991 Frank Thomas hits the first of 11 career grand slams.
1991 At 39 years, eight months, and 23 days, Dave Winfield becomes the oldest person to get five hits in a game. He does it while hitting for the cycle..
1992 Once again, Dwight Gooden tops the Cubs. He’s now won 12 in a row and 22 of his last 23 decisions against them.
1993 Major League Baseball permanently bans Steve Howe for his drug problems.
1993 Carlton Fisk breaks Bob Boone’s career record for most games caught. (He actually broke the mark three games ago, but an error in Boone’s 1981 records hasn’t yet been fixed.)
1993 Florida trades Trevor Hoffman and two others to San Diego for Gary Sheffield and one other player.
1994 Jeff Bagwell smashes three homers in one game, including two in one inning. He’s 4-for-5 with six RBIs on the day.
1994 Philadelphia signs free agent Fernando Valenzuela.
1996 Chili Davis gets his 2,000th hit.
1996 Jason Giambi plays his last full game at third base.
1997 Randy Johnson fans 19 but gets the loss anyway, as he allows four runs on 11 hits in his nine innings of work.
1998 Jeff Bagwell gets his 200th home run.
1998 Alex Rodriguez steals three bases in one game. He’ll do it again 11 years later (!).
1998 Adrian Beltre makes his big league debut.
2000 Andruw Jones hits his 100th home run.
2000 Barry Larkin enjoys the only five-hit day of his career. He’s 5-for-5 with two home runs.
2000 Bobby Higginson hits three homers in one game. It’s the second time he’s done that.
2001 Randy Johnson loses his 100th decision for a career record of 188-100.
2001 Bobby Abreu hits his third and final career inside-the-park home run.
2002 John Lackey makes his big league debut for the Angels.
2003 Brad Wilkerson hits for the cycle.
2003 Scott Rolen has his worst game ever according to WPA: 1-for-7 with a whiff and GIDP for a –0.568 WPA.
2004 Edgar Martinez walks five times in one game, a personal best. He’s also 2-for-4 with a homer as the Mariners lose, 9-7 in 18 innings. The game ends on a walk-off homer by Alfonso Soriano off Jamie Moyer. This is Moyer’s only relief appearance from 1997 to 2008.
2004 The Astros, A’s and Royals make a three-way trade. Oakland gets reliever Octavio Dotel, and Kansas City lands infielder Mark Teahen. The big prize goes to Houston is outfielder Carlos Beltran.
2005 The Mets become the first team to hit three sacrifice flies in one inning. Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams drops one of the sacrifices, which allows them to get three in all.
2006 Tony Womack appears in his last game.
2007 Veteran manager Bruce Bochy fills out his 2,000th lineup card. His record is 983-1,017 so far.
2007 Ken Griffey Jr. enjoys the last of his 55 career multi-home run games.
2007 Roger Clemens makes his first regular-season relief appearance in 22 years and 341 days, a record. The old record was 15 years and 343 days by Steve Carlton.
2011 The White Sox keep coming back against the Nationals but lose anyway, 9-5 in 14 innings. The Sox tied it in the bottom of the ninth, 10th and 12th innings. They scored three in the ninth when down to their last strike and once in each of the other two frames.
2011 The Twins announce that Justin Morneau will miss six weeks due to neck surgery.
2011 News breaks that Davey Johnson will be named the new manager of the Washington Nationals.
2012 The Red Sox trade third baseman Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox for pitcher Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge.
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.