30th anniversary: Fred Lynn’s All-Star grand slamby Chris Jaffe
July 06, 2013
Thirty years ago, something happened that had never happened before, and has never happened since. Fred Lynn became the first (and still only) player to hit a grand slam in the All-Star Game.
It actually occurred in a rather special All-Star Game. July 6, 1983 was the 50th anniversary game. Since it had been exactly 50 years since the first one in 1933, the lords of baseball decided to hold it in the same facility, old Comiskey Park on the South Side of Chicago.
Heading into the game, the National League was the clear favorite to win. And why not—it had dominated recent All-Star Games to an absurd degree, winning 11 straight and 19 of the last 20. Not a single active player had been around last time the AL won back-to-back games, way back in 1957-58. While the AL had typically kept the games close, this was the All-Star Game, not horseshoes—close doesn’t count.
So it looked like more of the same old same old in the top of the first when the NL took a quick lead, thanks entirely to some terrible American League defense. Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax led off by grounding one to Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb, who fumbled it for an error. Sax then stole second and came around to score when Angels first baseman Rod Carew misplayed another ball. No hits, no walks, but two errors led to a run. Yeah, it looked like 20 out of 21 for the NL.
However, things soon changed. The AL scored a run in the bottom of the first and another in the bottom of the second. Incredibly, neither run was earned, because of a pair of NL errors. Through two innings, the game had four errors. Regardless of how ugly the play, it was 2-1 when the fateful third inning began.
NL starting pitcher Mario Soto was pulled by Whitey Herzog for Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker, who at the time led the NL with an amazing 1.70 ERA. It’s a good thing for Hammaker that this outing didn’t count toward his ERA.
Jim Rice greeted Hammaker with a home run to make it 3-1 AL. Well, maybe it was just a nice swing. Maybe not—George Brett followed with a triple to center. Hmmmm .. maybe Hammaker doesn’t have his stuff? Well, he did respond to that by getting Ted Simmons to pop up for the first out. Let’s see what happens next.
What happens next is a Dave Winfield RBI single. 4-1 AL. Next, Manny Trillo singled, but then Doug DeCinces flew out, putting Hammaker one out from being done with this lousy inning.
Instead, Carew drove home Winfield to make it 5-1, and he and Trillo advanced to third and second respectively on the throw home. With defending AL MVP Robin Yount due up, and first base open, an intentional walk seemed a sensible move. That set up the force at every base.
And so up came Fred Lynn with the bases loaded against a struggling pitcher. And that’s how the only grand slam in All Star Game history happened. The AL now led 9-1, and it was pretty clear that it would end its losing streak in the midseason contest.
In fact, Lynn’s big shot isn’t just notable as the biggest blast in All-Star history, it’s also a turning point in All-Star Game history. The 1983 All Star game is arguably the last one that really mattered to both teams.
Once upon a time, the leagues had very clear and separate identities. Also, this was the only chance they had to play against each other. In the early decades of the game, trades weren’t allowed between the leagues, so there was a genuine rivalry. That had begun to erode as trades between the leagues became allowed, expanded, and common. Then came free agency, which further helped erode any strong sense of the leagues as institutions with different identities.
But still, both sides still really cared who won. The NL had the pride of extreme dominance, and the AL had the embarrassment of losing so many games. Lynn’s slam assured that the AL would finally end its drought, and so it did, triumphing 13-3.
In the years shortly after this game, the focus shifted. Because the 1983 contest became a blowout very quickly, almost all the starters soon left the game (which was unusual back then), and there was an effort to get as many guys in the game as possible. In fact, the 1983 All-Star Game became the first one where every team had at least one player make it on the field. Within a few years, that became common.
So Lynn’s grand slam is both one of a kind and a key moment in the transition of the All-Star Game. And it happened 30 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 Brooks Conrad’s three-error game in the NLDS allows the Giants to win, going up two games to one over the Braves.
2,000 days since Don Cardwell, pitcher, dies.
2,000 days since Oakland trades Mark Kotsay to Atlanta for a pair of minor leaguers.
2,000 days since the Cardinals and Blue Jays make a challenge trade of third basemen, with St. Louis sending Scott Rolen north of the border in exchange for Troy Glaus.
3,000 days since the Mets set a team record with seven home runs in one game.
4,000 days since Brett Myers makes his big league debut on the mound.
4,000 days since Blue Jays second baseman Orlando Hudson appears in his first major league contest.
8,000 days since young White Sox pitcher Wilson Alvarez no-hits the Orioles, 7-0. Lance Johnson makes a great catch in center field to preserve it.
9,000 days since the Angels name Doug Rader their new skipper.
15,000 days since brothers Jim and Graig Nettles both homer in the same game.
20,000 days since the Cardinals trade Del Ennis to the Reds in a six-player trade.
30,000 days since Babe Herman hits for the cycle.
1891 Steve O’Neill, manager of the 1945 Tigers world champions, is born.
1893 Jack Boyle becomes the first player in Phillies history to get six hits in a game; it’s an 11-inning contest.
1901 The Senators/Twins all-time cumulative franchise record hits .500 (26-26). It’s been under .500 ever since.
1911 The Cardinals and Phillies combine for 23 walks in one game, tying a record.
1912 The cornerstone for Ebbets Field is laid.
1917 Ty Cobb’s hitting streak is snapped at 35 games.
1918 The Reds top the Phillies, 10-9. It was 10-0 Reds with pitcher Pete Schneider throwing a one-hitter. He walks the first six batters in the ninth, and two relievers later, Cincinnati has held on. Schneider has 13 walks in the game but gets the win anyway. Ninety-plus years later, no one has had more than 13 walks in a winning decision, and only one person tied it (Bud Podbielan, 30 years later).
1925 The Cubs name shortstop Rabbit Maranville their manager. This is a historically bad choice. That night, Maranville is arrested in an altercation with a cabbie. That sets the tone for things.
1926 The Reds select shortstop Everett Scott waivers from the White Sox.
1926 First baseman George Sisler legs out his 20th and final inside the park home run.
1929 Al Simmons smacks his 100th career home run.
1929 Mack Park, home stadium for the Negro League’s Detroit Stars, burns down.
1929 The Cardinals end an 11-game losing streak by utterly crushing the Phillies, 28-6.
1932 Charlie Grimm gets his 2,000th hit.
1932 21-year-old dancer Violet Popovich Vallie shoots Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges with a .25 caliber pistol and then kills herself.
1933 The first All-Star Game takes place, with the AL topping the NL, 4-2 in Comiskey Park.
1934 Hal Lee of the Boston Braves hits three home runs in a game.
1934 Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi has perhaps the best game of his career, going 5-for-5 with a triple, home run, four runs scored, and six RBIs. The Reds need every little bit of it, as they narrowly edge St. Louis, 16-15.
1935 Hank Greenberg hits his 100th RBI of the year. He sets a record for the earliest to ever do it—in the 75th game of the season for the Tigers.
1936 12,000 see Bob Feller pitch an exhibition game versus the Cardinals in Cleveland. He fans eight batters in three innings. The other out came on a bunt attempt.
1940 Paul Derringer’s try for a perfect game is ruined by Cubs star third baseman Stan Hack, who doubles and walks. That is the only hit and walk Derringer allows.
1940 The Reds franchise’s all-time cumulative record rises to .500 (4,207-4.207). It’ll be over that for the next several years.
1941 Danny Murtaugh makes his big league playing debut. He’ll do much better as a manager.
1941 The Yankees unveil a monument in center field to Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak reaches 48 games.
1941 Ted Lyons completes his 19th straight start. He’ll have a few uncompleted starts coming up, but within two months he’ll begin a 28 straight completed start streak.
1942 Mort and Walker Cooper become the only brother-brother battery in All-Star Game history.
1943 The all-time cumulative franchise record for the St. Louis Cardinals rises over .500. It’s been over .500 ever since.
1943 The Giants purchase former star outfielder Joe Medwick from Brooklyn.
1944 Bob Johnson hits for the cycle.
1945 Yankees skipper Joe McCarthy manages his 3,000th game. His record is 1,837-1,135.
1945 Phil Marchildon, pitcher, rejoins the A’s. He spent nine months in German POW camps after getting shot down as a member of the Canadian Air Force.
1945 Tommy Holmes’ hitting streak reaches 34 games.
1946 Dodgers manager Leo Durocher looks across the Giants club just before a game and says, “Nice Guys. Finish Last.” Those two sentences will later be strung together as one, and that’s the line everyone associates with Durocher.
1949 Walker Cooper drives in 10 runs in one game, the most ever by a catcher. He’s 6-for-7 with three homers in a 23-4 Reds triumph over the Cubs. He’s the first NL player in 10 years with six hits in a game.
1952 A’s skipper Jimmie Dykes wins his 1,000th game. His record is 1,000-1,061.
1953 Infielder Marty Marion appears in his last game.
1953 Mickey Mantle hits a pinch-hit grand slam over the roof in left/center in Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium. It’s the only pinch-hit slam Mantle ever hits.
1953 Al Worthington makes an impressive debut, throwing a complete game shutout. In fact, his second start will also be a shutout, but his career as a starter will eventually sputter. He’ll later transition toward relief work, where he’ll last quite some time.
1954 Cleveland scores eight runs before making an out, an AL record (since broken).
1954 Willie Randolph is born.
1955 Sandy Koufax’s first big league start isn’t so great. He lasts just 4.2 innings with eight walks.
1956 Ford Frick announces the creation of the Cy Young Award for the year’s best pitcher.
1956 For the second straight day, Cleveland’s Jim Busby hits a grand slam. It’s all the runs the Indians get in their 4-2 win over KC.
1957 Paul Richards, an extremely well-regarded skipper, manages his 1,000th game. His record is 504-486.
1957 Bonus baby pitcher Claude Osteen makes his big league debut.
1958 Cardinals pitcher Larry Jackson is having a bad week. Today, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, he hits Jim Davenport for a walk-off HBP. In his last appearance, he issued a walk-off walk to Willie Kirkland.
1960 Age is just a number to 40-year-old pitcher Early Wynn, who triples. He pitches terribly today, but he’s a pitcher legging out a triple at age 40!
1962 Mickey Mantle picks up right where he left off. Yesterday he homered in his last two plate appearances, and today he does it in his first two, for four straight homers.
1963 Lance Johnson, One Dog, is born.
1965 Jimmy Ring, a pretty good NL pitcher in the 1920s despite leading the league in walks allowed four successive seasons, dies at age 70.
1965 The Pirates sign amateur free agent Woodie Fryman.
1966 Orioles first baseman Boog Powell drives in 11 runs in a doubleheader versus Oakland. He brings in seven runs in the first game and four in the night cap.
1966 Brooks Robinson’s longest hitting streak peaks at 17 games.
1966 Red Sox relief pitcher Don McMahon wins both ends of a doubleheader versus the Yankees.
1966 200-game winner Sad Sam Jones dies at age 73. He pitched on six of he eight original AL teams, missing just the Tigers and A’s.
1968 Cardinals stud pitcher Bob Gibson loads the bases with none against the Giants in the bottom of the sixth, but fans the next three batters to wriggle out of it. Gibson is in the midst of a 10-start stretch in which he is nearly impossible to score on.
1969 Jim Bouton reports in Ball Four that the Seattle Pilots are flying back home after a road trip, with a lot of players talking about all the sex they’ve had lately. As the plane lands at the airport, with all the player wives waiting for them, backup catcher Jim Pagliaroni tells them “OK all you guys, act horny!”
1970 Dick Allen smashes his 200th home run.
1970 Braves player Felix Millan gets six hits. He’s the first person to do that for the club since the 19th century.
1970 Ron Santo has perhaps the best game of his career. He’s 2-for-3 with two homers, and eight RBIs in a 14-2 Cubs win over the Expos. And that’s just half of the day’s doubleheader. In the other contest, he homers again and drives in two more.
1970 Indians manager Alvin Dark gets cute, moving ace pitcher Sudden Sam McDowell from the mound to second base and back to the mound again to let reliever Dean Chance take the platoon advantage on big Frank Howard.
1970 Mets outfielder Tommie Agee hits for the cycle.
1972 The Twins fire veteran manager Bill Rigney.
1973 Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins beats the Padres for the 13th straight time.
1975 Pirates anchor Willie Stargell gets on base six times in one game. It’s the only time he ever does that. He’s 4-for-4 with a pair of walks in Pittsburgh’s 18-12 win over the Cubs. Stargell has a double and homer on the day.
1976 The great (and greatly underrated) Frank Robinson hits his final home run.
1977 The Reds beat the Braves in a wild one, 15-13.
1979 The Dodgers purchase Fernando Valenzuela from Yucatan in the Mexican League. If you’ve ever seen Dodgers games with a guy with a Panama hat working the radar gun, that guy is supposed to be the scout who landed Valenzuela for the team. Legend has it that the O’Malley family was so happy with the acquisition, they gave him a lifetime job for that signing.
1980 The Dodgers retire No. 4 for Duke Snider.
1980 Longtime Giants slugger Willie McCovey appears in his last game.
1980 The Pirates beat the Cubs 5-4 in 20 innings, but the Cubs bullpen makes them earn it. The Chicago relief corps went 12.1 innings without allowing a hit.
1980 Rickey Henderson hits the only inside the park home run of his career.
1980 Steve Carlton becomes the all-time southpaw strikeout king, as his 2,836th strikeout passes Mickey Lolich on the all-time list.
1981 The Atlanta Braves take back cars from Phil Niekro and Ed Miller, saying they were compensation and will be given back when the strike ends.
1982 Bryan Clark ties the Mariners record for longest relief outing ever: 7.2 IP.
1982 Bob Johnson, strong hitting outfielder, dies.
1983 The Royals sign Gaylord Perry, and he’ll end his career there.
1983 The Cardinals release Jim Kaat, ending his 25 year career.
1985 Tony Gwynn achieves the rare 9-3 assist when he throws out Steve Kemp from right.
1986 Atlanta trades reliever Duane Ward to Toronto for Doyle Alexander. On the face of it, this is a much better trade for Toronto as Ward will be a longtime anchor in the Jays' bullpen and Alexander won’t be long for Atlanta. True, but Atlanta is able to trade Alexander to Detroit straight up for John Smoltz, so I can’t imagine the Braves are unhappy with how this worked out.
1986 Bob Horner hits four homers in one game.
1986 Sabermetric darling Bobby Grich hits his only career pinch-hit home run.
1986 Second baseman Tony Phillips has 12 assists in one game.
1987 El Presidente Dennis Martinez records his 100th loss. He is 114-100 on his career so far.
1987 Barry Bonds plays right field for the only time in his career. He lasts just a few innings there, after entering the game as a pinch runner.
1988 Barry Larkin gets hit by a pitch twice in one game. The same thing happened to him 15 days ago. Those are the only two times it ever happens to him.
1989 Even though he retired earlier this season, Mike Schmidt makes the All-Star Game anyway. He becomes the first retiree voted on the squad.
1990 Yankees pitcher Andy Hawkins lasts 11.2 innings. It’s the last time any Yankee has gone over nine innings.
1990 Jack Morris nearly throws a perfect game. He permits just one base runner, a one-out first inning single by Kurt Stillwell, who is immediately gobbled up in a double play.
1991 The Indians fire manager John McNamara. Replacing him is Mike Hargrove, who manages his first big league game.
1991 Danny Tartabull hits three home runs in one game.
1992 Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent orders NL realignment, decreeing the Cubs and Cardinals should go to the west and Braves and Reds to the east. He’s exceeding his authority here and will soon be bounced from his job by an owners’ revolt led by Brewers boss Bud Selig.
1992 There is an unusual five-minute delay in today’s Cardinals-Padres game as a skunk wanders onto the field at Jack Murphy Stadium.
1993 Aging knuckleballer Charlie Hough loses his 200th decision. His record is 206-200. (He’ll end exactly at .500: 216-216.)
1995 The Cubs release struggling third baseman Steve Buechele.
1996 Mariners basher Edgar Martinez nails three home runs in one game.
1996 The Phillies sign free agent reliever Mitch Williams.
1997 Veteran catcher Mickey Tettleton announces his retirement.
1998 The Cubs select slugger Glenallen Hill off of waivers from the Mariners. This will be a good move for Chicago.
1999 White Sox outfielder Chris Singleton hits for the cycle.
1999 Mariners pitcher Gil Meche makes his big league debut.
2000 The Red Sox do something odd: They play an entire game with zero runners left on base. Mind you, they had plenty of guys reach base— 10 in all. Eight scored and the other two were out on the bases in a 8-7 squeaker over the Twins.
2000 Former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser announces his retirement.
2001 For the second time in his career, Jim Thome hits three homers in one game.
2001 Young A’s sensation Mark Mulder is nearly perfect. He surrenders a single by Arizona’s Tony Bautista and that’s it in a 3-0 win.
2001 Scott Podsednik makes his big league debut.
2002 Muscular Daryle Ward becomes the first player to push the ball entirely out of PNC Park in Pittsburgh and into Allegheny Park next door. Oh, and it’s a grand slam.
2003 Tampa manager Lou Piniella said he’d dye his hair if the team ever won three games in a row, and since the Rays just did, Sweet Lou is a sweet blonde today. In the day’s game, Carlos Reyes sets a Tampa franchise record with a seven-inning relief outing. The record has since been tied.
2004 Richard Hidalgo homers for the fifth straight game, setting a Mets franchise record.
2006 Frank Thomas hits his fourth and final walk-off home run.
2006 Today’s Brewers-Cubs game is the only contest all season where both clubs throw under 100 pitches.
2007 Braves pitcher Buddy Carlyle strikes out the side against the Padres on the absolute minimum nine pitches.
2007 Justin Morneau hits three home runs in one game.
20070 Kevin McClatchy steps down as Pirates CEO.
2008 Chipper Jones reaches base a personal best seven times in one contest. He has three hits and four walks in a 7-6 Braves win in 17 innings.
2010 Alex Rodriguez hits his 21st grand slam, tying Manny Ramirez for the second most ever, behind only the great Lou Gehrig.
2010 Arizona releases former star Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis.
2010 Today, Johan Santana doesn’t need any teammates. He throws a complete game shutout and smacks a home run in a 3-0 Mets win over the Reds. It’s his first home run.
2011 The Reds top the Cardinals in a wild 9-8 13-inning game. The Reds lead 8-0 in the fifth, but it’s 8-7 by the seventh, and then the Cardinals tie it in the ninth. Nearly the entire Reds roster gets in the game.
2011 Giants player Nate Schierholtz hits a solo homer, beginning a 39-day stretch in which no Giant hits a homer with a runner on base. That’s 22 straight solo homers between now and Aug. 14. (Schierholtz also has the last homer with a runner on base, which came earlier in today’s game).
2012 All things must end: Toronto releases Jamie Moyer.
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.