30th anniversary: Ripken’s streak beginsby Chris Jaffe
May 30, 2012
Thirty years ago today, something happened in Baltimore that didn’t draw much attention at the time, but turned out to be the beginning of something big.
On May 30, 1982, Orioles manager Earl Weaver penciled the name Cal Ripken Jr. into his lineup as starting third baseman. The Streak had just begun. It would be the first of 2,632 games played by Ripken, a stretch that wouldn’t end until near the completion of the 1998 season.
Ripken wasn’t playing in his first big league game. He’d played in a smattering of games with the Orioles in late 1981, and won the starting job at third base in spring training 1982, replacing Doug DeCinces, who had left via free agency for California.
Ripken had played in nearly every game for Baltimore so far in 1982. He missed the second half of a doubleheader in April, and got a day off in early May. On May 29, he sat for the third time. Again, it was a doubleheader in which Ripken played in the first contest and sat out the second one. In other words, even the day before he began his consecutive games played streak Ripken played in a game. Baltimore let Floyd Rayford start in Ripken’s place in the second game, one of only 15 he’d start all year for Baltimore.
On May 30, Ripken returned to the lineup as scheduled. He didn’t do very well, going hitless while receiving a walk. In fact, it was a lousy day for Baltimore; the Orioles garnered just one hit. Only a Rick Dempsey single midway through prevented them from being no-hit.
But Ripken was in the lineup and he always wanted to play. At the time, he wasn’t doing very well, which explains why Weaver gave him some days off. Ripken ended May 30 batting .235, and as late as June 8 was still at .233. But he had promise.
He caught fire in mid-June, swatting 26 hits in 17 games. Eleven of those hits went for extra bases. That assured Ripken would stay in the lineup as long as he wanted to—and he wanted to. In midseason, Weaver shifted the young star to shortstop, and the rest was history.
It was a long streak for Ripken, and it began 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, plenty of other baseball events celebrate either their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to skim things:
1,000 days since Jerry Koosman is sentenced to jail for six months for failing to pay his income taxes from 2002-04.
2,000 days since the A’s sign free agent catcher Mike Piazza.
2,000 days since Jose Uribe dies far too young, at 47.
2,000 days since the Royals sign free agent reliever Octavio Dotel.
2,000 days since the Dodgers sign free agent left fielder Luis Gonzalez.
2,000 days since the Yankees sign starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, as he returns to the team that he first came to prominence with.
4,000 days since Albert Pujols lays down his first career sacrifice bunt. In fact, it’s still his only one.
4,000 days since John Olerud hits for his second career cycle. Given how rarely he triples, it’s amazing he has one cycle let alone two.
4,000 days since Aaron Rowand makes his big league debut.
4,000 days since former ballplayer Sam Jethroe dies.
5,000 days since Carlos Beltran legs out two triples in one game for the only time in his career.
6,000 days since the Reds trade David Wells to the Orioles.
7,000 days since Bill White resigns as NL president.
8,000 days since Whitey Herzog manages his last game. He resigns as Cardinals manager afterward, even though it’s the middle of the 1990 season.
15,000 days since NBC pays $72 million for a four-year TV package with Major League Baseball.
25,000 days since Bill Bergen, the worst-hitting player ever (lifetime OPS+ 21), dies.
1871 Hall of Fame pitcher Amos Rusie, the strikeout king of his day, is born.
1878 Star outfielder Turkey Mike Donlin is born.
1883 The Reds do something rather rare—they play two games in two towns versus two opponents. In the morning they lose to the Giants, but in the afternoon top the Phillies.
1884 Chicago’s Ned Williamson becomes the first person to ever hit three home runs in one game. He’s aided by Chicago’s comically small field. It’s so small that in all other seasons aside from 1884, balls hit over the shortest fence will count as ground rule doubles, but this year they’re homers and it’s over that fence Williamson keeps going deep.
1894 Bobby Lowe of Boston knocks out four home runs in one game. He’s the first ever to do that.
1896 Bill Joyce hits for the cycle.
1898 Volatile shortstop Kid "The Tabasco Kid" Elberfeld makes his big league debut.
1902 The Indians' all-time franchise record bottoms out at 41 games under .500: 64-105. Despite their non-stellar reputation through much of recent decades, the Indians have been over .500 for virtually all their franchise history.
1904 Frank Chance has a painful day, getting hit five times in a doubleheader. As manager, he runs his 1,000th game. His record: 559-425. (There were a lot of ties back then).
1913 The Boston Red Sox’ Harry Hooper makes history when he belts a leadoff homer in both ends of a doubleheader, something no one had done before. It won’t happen again until 1993.
1914 The Browns and Tigers combine for an all-time low sum of 11 hits in a doubleheader.
1916 The Old Fox Clark Griffith loses his 1,000th game as skipper. His record: 1,169-1,000.
1916 Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski gets his only home run when he legs out an inside the park shot.
1917 Harry Davis, once upon a time the AL’s all-time career home run leader, plays in his final year. He effectively ended his career years ago, but made occasional emergency appearances for the A’s while serving as a coach.
1921 New York City’s Polo Grounds are dedicated to Eddie Grant, a player who died in World War I.
1924 Herb Pennock, Hall of Fame pitcher, achieves a nice milestone in style. He wins his 100th game by belting a home run and pitching a complete game shutout to become 100-82 in his career.
1925 Branch Rickey manages his last game, as Cardinals team owner Sam Beardon will make him exclusively a front office figure. Rickey won’t like that, but he’ll go along with it and ultimately it’s a great move.
1925 A Dodgers win puts Hall of Fame manager Wilbert Robinson 48 games over .500 (906-858), his all-time best. He’ll tie it once later in this season, but never better it.
1927 Cubs shortstop Jimmy Cooney achieves the rare unassisted triple play.
1927 Lefty Grove allows a personal worst seven doubles in one game.
1927 Walter Johnson hurls his 110th and final career shutout. No one else has more than 90.
1928 Former friends turned bitter rivals John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson manage their 300th game against each other. They faced each other more than any other pair of NL managers ever.
1928 Urban Shocker appears in his last game. He’s a fantastic pitcher, but, sadly, he is dying.
1929 Hall of Famer Al Simmons gets to 1,000 hits in just 710 games.
1929 Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor appears in his 54th straight game without a strikeout. He’s 67-for-230 in that span—but no Ks. He’ll whiff in his next one, though.
1930 Al Simmons bashes the only pinch-hit home run of his career. Impressively, it’s a pinch-hit grand slam. In the same game (which lasts 13 innings) teammate Jimmie Foxx gets six hits.
1930 The Yankees trade Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt and Mark Koenig to the Tigers for three players.
1931 Al Simmons' best career hit streak maxes out at 27 games. He’s 53-for-117 with a dozen doubles, five triples, and eight triples in that span. His AVG/OBP/SLG is .453/.488/.846.
1931 Earle Combs’ best hitting streak peaks at 29 games. He’s 52-for-140 for a .371/.417/.486 stat line.
1931 Brooklyn’s Wally Gilbert connects for six hits in one contest.
1932 The Yankees unveil a monument to late manager Miller Huggins. Then they sweep the Red Sox in a doubleheader.
1932 Umpire George Moriarty challenges the entire White Sox team to a fight—one at a time. He decks one before three guys jump him.
1934 Indians star first baseman Hal Trosky hits three home runs in one game.
1935 Lou Gehrig joins the 2,000 hit club.
1935 It’s the last game for baseball’s most iconic player: Babe Ruth.
1937 Hank Greenberg enjoys the only five-hit game of his career. He’s 5-for-5 with a walk, four runs, two homers, and five RBIs.
1938 Connie Mack and Bucky Harris manage their 300th game against each other. They’ll end up managing more times against each other than any other pair of skippers ever.
1938 The Yankees host their largest crowd ever: 81,841 in Yankee Stadium. Starting pitcher Red Ruffing leads the team to a win, putting his career record to 178-178. It’ll never be under .500 again. There’s a fight in the game as well, as New York’s Jake Powell goes after Boston’s Archie McKain after a HBP. Powell later fights Boston player-manager Joe Cronin under the stands.
1940 Giants star Carl Hubbell pitches a one-hitter, using just 87 pitches to face 27 batters. Only a single by Johnny Hudson ruins an otherwise perfect game.
1943 Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez appears in his final game.
1944 Tigers pitcher Dizzy Trout does something quite rare for a hurler: Belt a walk-off home run.
1945 Rubber-armed Bobo Newsom loses, dropping his career record to 173-174. It’ll be under .500 for the rest of his career, which ends with a mark of 211-222.
1945 Dodgers starter Lee Pfund gets the win despite posting a Game Score of 2. It’s the worst Game Score for a winning pitcher since 1928. His line: 5 IP, 12 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, and 1 K. The Dodgers top the Pirates anyway, 14-10.
1946 Boston Brave Bama Rowell hits a blast that breaks the clock atop the Ebbets Field scoreboard. Some glass lands on star Dodgers outfielder Dixie Walker.
1950 Duke Snider connects for three homers in one game.
1951 Young rookie Mickey Mantle has a terrible day, fanning five straight times in a doubleheader versus Boston.
1955 Ken Boyer enjoys the first of 18 multi-home run games in his career.
1955 For the second time this year, star Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe belts two home runs in one game. .
1956 When the Milwaukee Braves win the first game in a doubleheader, it pushes manager Charlie Grimm’s career record to 232 games over .500 (1,275-1,043). He’ll tie it two games later but never top it in the rest of his managerial career, which just has a few weeks left. The Braves and Cubs combine for 15 home runs in the doubleheader.
1956 Mickey Mantle, in the midst of a Triple Crown season, comes within 18 inches of hitting a home run clear out of Yankee Stadium. It hits the upper deck façade in right field, 117 feet up and 370 feet from the plate.
1957 It’s another of the rare walk-off home runs by a pitcher as Lou Sleater goes deep to end the game against Wally Burnette.
1958 Walt Moryn of the Cubs connects for three homers in one game.
1961 The Yankees top the Red Sox 12-3 while three Bronx Bombers each connect for a pair of homers: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Bill Skowron. Yogi Berra gets “only” one home run shot.
1962 Dave Giusti becomes the only relief pitcher in Houston history to pitch nine innings in one bullpen outing. It’s the best ever WPA achievement by any Astros reliever: 1.052 WPA as he allows no runs off two walks and three hits in his nine innings. Houston tops the Cubs in 14 innings, 8-6.
1962 Pedro Ramos has one of the greatest games ever by a pitcher, hitting two home runs while throwing a complete game shutout three-hitter. One home run is a slam in a 7-0 win.
1965 The Cubs sell veteran pitcher Lew Burdette to the Phillies.
1966 Veteran slugger Frank Thomas plays in his final game.
1967 Jim Bunning launches a home run against Juan Marichal, making him the only pitcher to ever do that against the Dominican Dandy. Even better: Bunning’s homer comes in the top of the ninth to give the Phillies a 5-4 lead, which becomes the final score.
1967 St. Louis’ Phil Gagliano hits into a walk-off triple play versus the Cincinnati Reds.
1967 Whitey Ford, sidelined with an elbow injury, announces his retirement.
1968 Mickey Mantle has perhaps his best day at the plate, going 5-for-5 with a double, and two home runs. He scores thrice and drives in five.
1969 Ralph Houk manages his 1,000th game for a career record of 552-443.
1969 Bob Gibson loses his 100th decision for a record of 153-100.
1969 As recounted in Ball Four, upon being told that tomorrow’s batting practice would be at 10:30 a.m., backup catcher Jim Pagliaroni says, “10:30? I’m not even done throwing up at that hour.”
1970 All-Star game voting is returned to the fans, as computerized punch card ballots appear in stores and ballparks around the nation.
1971 Lou Brock’s best hitting streak maxes at 26 games. He’s 48-for-112 and a .429/.471/.554 line in that time.
1972 Johnny Bench runs out his only career inside the park home run.
1972 Manny begins being Manny: Manny Ramirez is born.
1976 Hall of Fame center fielder Max Carey dies.
1976 Bobby Bonds suffers through his worst game according to WPA, going 0-for-7 in a 14-inning contest. His WPA: -0.429.
1977 Young starting pitcher Dennis Eckersley pitches a no-hitter for Cleveland against the Angels. He fans 12 and walks only one in a 1-0 win over tough-luck losing pitcher Frank Tanana.
1978 Third base legend Mike Schmidt steals three bases in one game.
1980 Well that’s a bit creepy. In a Memorial Day Old Timer’s Game, fans try to steal the cap and glove from Yankees star Mickey Mantle—while he’s still wearing them. Mantle is punched, mauled, and robbed on the field, and will need hospital treatment for a bruised jaw.
1985 Johnnie LeMaster, the former Giants shortstop once nicknamed Johnnie DiSaster, is traded by the Indians to the Pirates. He’s been with three teams this month (beginning the season in San Francisco) and all will finish the year in last place.
1986 One of the greatest and most controversial players of all-time debuts: Barry Bonds.
1986 Future Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek debuts. He’s with the Yankees, but they’ll let him go in the 1986-87 off-season.
1986 The Expos top the Astros 1-0 in one of the best pitchers duels of the years. The teams combine for exactly five hits, with Montreal getting only two—but one is a Mike Fitzgerald home run off Houston’s Mike Scott.
1986 Texas signs amateur free agent Juan Gonzalez.
1987 Eric Davis becomes the first NL player to bop three grand slams in one month.
1988 Tim Raines has his best game ever according to WPA: 0.773. He’s two-for-five with two RBIs. The big blast is a two-run bases loaded single with two out in the bottom of the ninth to reverse a 2-1 Giants lead into a 3-2 Expos triumph.
1989 Ken Griffey Jr. enjoys the first of his 55 career multi-home run games.
1989 The Yankees release Tommy John, ending his lengthy career.
1990 Bill Buckner plays in his final game.
1992 In two straight at-bats, Rob Deer hits a ball off the Metrordome roof for un-routine flyouts.
1992 Scott Sanderson becomes the 10th pitcher to beat all 26 franchises, joining: Rick Wise, Mike Torrez, Gaylord Perry, Doyle Alexander, Tommy John, Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, Rich Gossage and Rick Sutcliffe.
1994 Dan Pasqua plays in his last game.
1994 Tony Gwynn drives in a personal best five runs in one game. He’s 2-for-4 with a double and home run.
1995 The Reds announce that they’ll explore the possibility of constructing a new ballpark next to where Riverfront Stadium now sits.
1995 Glenn Burke, baseball’s first openly gay player (at least open after his playing days) dies at age 42 from AIDS complications.
1997 Mike Mussina retires the first 25 batters he faces before allowing a single, which will be the only baserunner for the opponents in the game. Four year later, he’ll come one out from perfection before allowing a single.
1997 For the second time in his career, Mo Vaughn slams three home runs in one game.
1999 Legendary pitcher Greg Maddux has a nice day at the plate, homering off Kevin Brown.
1999 Melvin Mora makes his big league debut.
2000 Starting pitcher Adam Eaton makes his big league debut. He actually had a lot of talent, but messed up his arm and then survived for a while as a lousy pitcher.
2005 Jamie Moyer wins his 131st game with the Mariners, passing up Randy Johnson as all-time franchise leader. He still is.
2006 Vernon Wells hits three home runs in one game.
2007 Johnny Damon gets his 2,000th career hit.
2008 Cliff Floyd hits a walk-off home run for Tampa against the White Sox for a 2-1 win. There’s a photo taken of a joyous crowd of Rays as Floyd approaches the plate that is arguably the most famous image in Tampa team history.
2009 The University of Texas and Boston College meet up for the longest game in NCAA history. Texas triumphs, 3-2 in 25 innings.
2010 Jamie Moyer loses his 200th game to become 263-200 for his career.
2010 For the third time in his career, Albert Pujols homers three times in one game.
2011 Arizona Diamondbacks announcer Mark Grace is arrested for a DUI in Arizona.
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.