Silver anniversary: Mark McGwire’s greatest gameby Chris Jaffe
June 27, 2012
Twenty-five years ago today, one of the game’s greatest sluggers had perhaps the greatest games of his career. Just 23 years old, rookie first baseman Mark McGwire had a tremendous day at the plate.
On June 27, 1987, the A’s played a terrible Indians team before barely 13,000 fans in Cleveland. The Indians had won barely one-third of their games on the year so far, and the way they couldn’t contain McGwire showed why Cleveland was off to such a rotten start.
In the first inning, the A’s rookie came up with Jose Canseco on first and promptly belted a home run for an early 2-0 Oakland lead.
In the third, McGwire came up again and had his worst at-bat of the day. He lifted a fly ball to right that looked like it was going to be a routine out, only for outfielder Cory Snyder to muff it. By the time he corralled the ball, McGwire had motored all the way to third base. Well, at least it wasn’t a hit. He scored a few minutes later on a Carney Lansford home run.
Two innings later, McGwire led off and smashed his second home run of the game. The game was already out of reach, with Oakland up, 8-1.
In the seventh, McGwire once again led off the inning with a hit, but this time it was just a single. Cleveland could consider that a moral victory. Moments later, McGwire scored when aging DH Reggie Jackson went deep for his 557th career home run.
By the ninth inning, Oakland led 10-3, and McGwire came up one final time. With no outs and Jose Canseco on first, Mark McGwire smashed yet another home run on the day. That was it for him, as the A’s ended up with a 13-3 victory.
In all, McGwire hadn’t made a single out all day. In five trips to the plate, he had three home runs, a single, and a reached on error. He scored five runs and drove in five as well.
In the rest of his career, McGwire would have four more three-homer games, but this was the only one with four hits. His 13 total bases on the day would be his personal best. He had more than five RBIs in several other games, but this would be his only game scoring five times. His four hits also tied his personal high.
Making it even more special, McGwire kept up the barrage the next day, smashing a pair of homers. With five homers in two days, McGwire tied a major league record.
Aside from that, many other 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 prefer to just skim over things.
1,000 days since B.J. Upton hits for the cycle.
8,000 days since a pair of players make their big league debuts in the same game for the White Sox: Frank Thomas and Alex Fernandez.
9,000 days since the Braves sign amateur free agent Javy Lopez.
9,000 days since the Royals trade Danny Jackson to the Reds in a five-player trade.
15,000 days since Carl Everett is born.
15,000 days since Ken Holtzman no-hits the Reds. It’s his second career no-hitter.
20,000 days since the last game at Ebbetts Field. The Dodgers top the Pirates, 2-0.
20,000 days since Ted Williams grounds out, ending his streak of reaching base in 16 consecutive plate appearances.
1876 Davy Force becomes the first person in big league history with six hits in one game.
1879 Bobby Mathews, pitcher who won 297 games (including in the proto-big league National Association), hits his only career home run.
1884 Larry Corcoran becomes the first pitcher ever to throw his third career no-hitter.
1887 George Van Haltren, a Hall of Fame-caliber player, makes his major league debut.
1891 Clark Griffith, Hall of Fame owner who arguably could’ve been inducted for his pitching career, hits his only grand slam.
1891 Buck Freeman, turn-of-the-century slugger, makes his big league debut. He held the record for most homers in a season from 1900-onward until Babe Ruth came along.
1896 Eight members of the Cleveland Spiders arrested in Louisville over their efforts to intimidate umpires. (Breaching the peace was the official charge.)
1902 Andrew Freeman hires John McGraw to manage the Giants. Not a bad move.
1903 Ed Delahanty suffers from alcoholic-induced delirium. He pulls a large knife and threatens to kill himself at one point. He'll die within the week, drunkenly falling over Niagra Falls.
1904 The Phillies sign amateur free agent Sherry Magee, who will be a good slugger for them.
1905 Hall of Fame skipper Frank Selee manages his last game.
1910 The White Sox play their last game at the 39th Street Grounds, losing 7-2 to the Indians. They’ve spent the 102 years since then at the intersection of 35th and Shields.
1911 Stuffy McInnis of the A’s pulls a fast one. He steps into the batter’s box during warm-up pitches by the Red Sox hurler and decides to swing at one while the Boston players are still taking their positions. He nails it, the umpire allows it, and McInnis ends up with an inside-the-park home run. The league later rejects Boston’s protests.
1913 Washington Senators ace Walter Johnson begins a 14-game winning streak.
1917 Star catcher Hank Gowdy, who signed up to join the military on June 2, begins his military service. He’s the first player to leave the big leagues for World War I.
1921 The Black Sox trial starts in Chicago.
1922 Relief pitcher Cliff Markle fans 10 batters, the first time I know a reliever fanned that many. His mark won’t be topped for 11 years.
1922 In the Negro National League, Detroit Stars pitcher Bill Force no-hits the St. Louis Giants.
1922 Ray Schalk hits for the cycle. He’s just the second catcher to do it.
1923 Slugger Gus Zernial is born
1930 Jack Quinn, age 46, becomes the oldest person to hit a home run. Though Julio Franco will later break Quinn’s record, it should be noted that Quinn is a pitcher.
1930 At Ladies Day, Wrigley Field draws a stadium record 51,556 fans.
1930 Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Rice, a month and a half after his 40th birthday, hits two triples in one game. He’s the oldest person since 1920 (and maybe ever) to do that.
1935 Pinky Higgins hits three home runs in one game.
1938 Jimmie Foxx hits his 400th career home run. He’s only the third person to do so, after Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Heck, only two others (Mel Ott and Rogers Hornsby) are even over 300 at this point.
1939 Bob Feller throws his third career one-hitter. He’ll retire with a record 12 of them. In this one, he fans 13 and walks six.
1939 Dodgers 2, Braves 2 (23). Whit Wyatt throws 16 innings for the Dodgers.
1939 Ernie Lombardi, a famously slow-footed Cincinnati catcher, gets his first sacrifice hit since Aug. 28, 1933.
1940 Dodgers have a Jack Norworth Day at Ebbets Field. Norworth wrote the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
1943 Rico Petrocelli, second shortstop to hit 40 HR in a season, is born.
1950 Martin Stuarts of Toledo in the American Association pitches a perfect game, 1-0 over Indianapolis.
1952 The Phillies fire manager Eddie Sawyer, who led them to the 1950 pennant.
1955 25-year-old Red Sox infielder (and Boston native) Harry Agganis dies from a blood clot while fighting pneumonia.
1958 Chicago White Sox Billy Pierce retires the first 26 batters he faces but allows a pinch-hit double to Washington’s’ Ed Fitz Gerald when he’s one out from perfection. Pierce settles for his third consecutive complete-game shutout.
1962 Mets sign Ed Kranepool as an amateur. He debuts with the team later that year and lasts with them until the late 1970s. He still owns many career records for the team.
1963 Johnny Callison hits for the cycle.
1964 Boog Powell hits three home runs in one game for the second time.
1965 Bob Gibson reins over all: He homers and throws a complete-game shutout as the Cards beat the Cubs, 8-0. He does this six times in his career; this is No. 2. Oh, he also fanned 12.
1966 Jeff Conine is born.
1967 The dumbest moment Al Kaline ever had: After Sam McDowell strikes him out, a frustrated Kaline slams his bat into the rack—and breaks his hand in the process. He’ll miss a month.
1969 Steve Renko makes his major league debut.
1967 Frank Robinson is injured in a collision at second base. Due to double vision, he’ll miss 28 games.
1970 Fergie Jenkins sets a personal best with 14 strikeouts in a game. His line: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14 K. He’ll tie this mark twice more in his career, but this is the only time he does it in fewer than nine innings.
1970 Jim Edmonds is born.
1972 Wade Blasingame of the Yankees becomes the second pitcher in history to allow three home runs without recording a single out in a game.
1972 Nolan Ryan benefits from a triple play against Minnesota. When Jim Nettles lines out in the fourth, Harmon Killebrew and Steve Braun are caught off guard and doubled up. Later that game, Ryan triples and scores the go-ahead run.
1973 Mike Schmidt has the first of 44 multi-home run games. One of his homers is a grand slam. It’s already his second career grand slam even though it’s only his ninth homer overall. He’ll end his career with seven slams in all.
1973 Joe Torre hits for the cycle.
1973 David Clyde, Texas, makes one of the most anticipated debuts in major league history, as people want to see if the hard-throwing Texas native can make the jump from high school to the big leagues. Turns out he couldn’t.
1974 Phil Niekro loses his 100th game: 118-100 career record.
1974 Jim Perry wins his 200th game: 200-159.
1974 The Angels fire manager Bobby Winkles and hire Whitey Herzog as interim manager. Within a week, Dick Williams has the job.
1977 Bruce Sutter, Cubs, gets his 20th save of the year, which was a lot this early in the season back then. His ERA is 0.69.
1977 Willie McCovey homers twice in one inning. It’s the second time he’s done that, an achievement no previous player can claim (though Andre Dawson will later join him).
1978 Jack Clark clocks a pinch-hit grand slam. It’s one of nine slams and one of four pinch-hit home runs for him.
1979 Oh, the humiliation: Phil Niekro surrenders a walk-off walk. He entered the ninth with a 1-0 lead over the Padres but loses 2-1. The manager who stuck with him: Bobby Cox.
1980 Jerry Reuss almost throws a perfect game. He holds the Giants hitless, doesn’t walk anyone, and doesn’t hit anyone, but shortstop Bill Russell committed an error in the first inning for San Francisco’s only baserunner of the day.
1980 Bobby Bonds hits his 35th and final career leadoff home run.
1983 The Mariners release 300-game winner Gaylord Perry.
1984 According to WPA, the greatest known game by an Indians hitter occurs today: Mel Hall has a 1.206 WPA by going 3-for-5 with a double, home run, scoring two runs, driving in five and stealing a base. Oh, he also struck out once. Despite all that, the Indians lose to the White Sox, 9-7.
1984 Bill Buckner gets his 2,000th hit.
1984 Dusty Baker, who will end the year with four stolen bases, steals second, third, and home in one inning. He steals second and then later gets caught in a rundown between second and third. He beats the rundown, notices home plate unoccupied, and chugs home for his third stolen base of the inning.
1984 In four consecutive innings, a White Sox batter is picked off by Seattle. One is officially a caught stealing of home, but the catcher threw to third, and the runner broke for home because he couldn’t get back to the bag in time. The White Sox win anyway, 9-7.
1985 Duane Kuiper plays in his last game.
1985 A Padre victory pushes Dick Williams, their manager, to 163 games over .500 for his career, his all-time best (1,372-1,209).
1985 Jeffrey Leonard hits for the cycle.
1986 The Padres trade Alan Wiggins to the Orioles.
1986 Robby Thompson has his day in baserunning hell, getting caught stealing four times for the Giants. At least one of them was a blown hit and run.
1987 It's the first time in organized ball two teams with black managers face each other. In the Northwestern League, Boise manager Derrel Thomas matches wits against Bend manager Mel Roberts.
1987 Darrell Evans gets his 2,000th career hit.
1989 It’s the first major league game featuring two black managers: Cito Gaston (Toronto) vs. Frank Robinson (Baltimore).
1991 Mo Vaughn makes his big league debut.
1991 Cleveland trades Tom Candiotti and another player to Toronto for three players and cash.
1992 Sandy Amoros, who made a great catch to save the Dodgers in Game Seven of the 1955 World Series, dies.
1993 Anthony Young sets a record with his 24th straight loss.
1993 Ron Gant fans four times, giving him seven in a row, and 10 in three games.
1993 Eddie Murray grounds into three double plays in one game.
1993 Robin Yount has probably the worst game of his career. He’s 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, his only four-K game.
1996 WGN cameraman accuses Albert Belle of throwing a drink at him in the seventh inning of a game in which he’d been removed for a pinch hitter.
1999 1,765th and final game played at the Kingdome in Seattle. A total of 56,530 fans see the Mariners beat the Rangers, 5-2.
2000 The Braves back off an earlier decision to ban the team’s broadcasters (Skip Caray, Peter Van Wieren, Joe Simpson, and Don Sutton) from flights. The ban came after they questioned the catcher’s box at Turner Field.
2000 Astros closer Billy Wagner undergoes surgery on partially torn flexor tendon. He’s done for the year.
2000 The Dodgers release former ace Orel Hershiser.
2002 The Indians trade Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to the Expos for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens.
2002 The Padres lose, putting Bruce Bochy’s career record under .500 (597-598). All these years later, it’s still under .500.
2003 The Red Sox score 10 runs before making their first out in a 50-minute bottom of the first inning.
2003 Tampa Bay releases reliever John Rocker.
2004 Barry Bonds scores his 2,000th run.
2004 The Mariners trade Freddy Garcia to the White Sox.
2005 If you combine his record in Japan and the U.S., Hideo Nomo wins his 200th career game.
2008 Carlos Delgado sets a record for most RBIs as a DH in a game with nine. He goes 3-for-5 with a double and two homers for the Mets against the Yankees.
2009 Garret Anderson hits his 500th career double.
2009 The Indians trade Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals.
2009 Eric Milton plays in his last game.
2010 Jamie Moyer surrenders his 506th career home run, surpassing Robin Roberts as the all-time gopher ball king.
2011 A Cirque du Soleil performer throws out a memorable ceremonial first pitch at a Padres-Royals game. He first does a back flip and then immediately throws it.
2011 The Dodgers file for bankruptcy in the McCourt divorce case.
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.