Silver anniversary: the Eric Show gameby Chris Jaffe
July 07, 2012
A quarter century ago today was one of the most infamous games in Chicago Cubs history. It’s one of those games every Cubs fan of a certain generation remembers—and remembers quite well.
Twenty-five years ago today was the Eric Show game.
On July 7, 1987, the Cubs hosted the visiting San Diego Padres in the second act in a three-game series. Ordinarily, this would be a mundane battle between two second-division teams, except there was a certain edge to the proceedings.
Cub star Andre Dawson later recounted in his autography how, just before the series began, rookie Padres skipper Larry Bowa made some noises to the press about his pitchers needing to challenge hitters and be more aggressive throwing inside. With fighting words like that and Bowa’s own well-established reputation as a red-ass, Dawson said he knew heading into the series that fireworks might erupt. How right he would be.
Though the first game passed without incident, the second game would be anything but quiet. In the first inning, Dawson belted a homer off Show to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. And that set up the game’s main event.
In the third inning, with the Cubs now leading 4-2, Dawson came back to the plate to face Show. Immediately, Show hurled a fastball right at Dawson’s face. The projectile found its target as Dawson went down with a grisly wound that would require over a dozen stitches to heel.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
What makes this game so notable isn’t that there was a beanball. Those happen all the time. It isn’t that there was a beanball that resulted in a charge of the mound. That also is typical.
No, what sets apart the Cubs game is this: the mound was charged … from the dugout.
Yeah, that doesn’t happen too often. But it did here as Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe led his teammates in an attempted stomping of Show. Fortunately for Show, San Diego first baseman John Kruk grabbed Sutcliffe, preventing Show from being blindsided by the 6-foot-7 Sutcliffe. As for Dawson, he was bleeding and incoherent, in no condition to charge at the time. But the brawl was on.
And it went on for a few minutes before the umps restored order. When it looked like it was over, Dawson had regained his senses, and with it become angry. He made a lunge at Show down the first base line. I’ve heard fellow Cub fans describe it as a ferocious charge, while my memories are more of a semi-dazed stumble.
No matter, it was enough to earn Dawson an ejection alongside Sutcliffe. As for Show, he wasn’t officially ejected, but he kind of was. Officially, he injured his foot or leg stepping weirdly in the proceedings, and after the game an official statement supposedly from Show was released apologizing for the ball that supposedly got away. Sure.
Based on the account, Show was freaked out and stunned by the dugout charge and in no condition mentally to continue. Also, the umps pushed him to the dugout for his own safety during the melee.
The game, and the ejections, weren’t over yet.
Somewhere during the fun, Cubs infielder Manny Trillo earned a heave-ho for throwing his sunglasses case on the field. More than that, there were the attempts at retaliation.
In the top of the fourth, shortly after Dawson’s beaning, Cub pitcher Greg Maddux nailed star Padres catcher Benito Santiago. That earned a thumb for Maddux and manager Gene Michael.
Reliever Scott Sanderson also tried to get some blood vengeance. He failed in his attempt to get Tony Gwynn in the fifth, as the star hitter dodged enough inside pitches to earn a walk.
My memory of the day has it that two more Cubs were ejected, for seven Chicago ejections in all, but there were no more hit-by-pitches.
But it’s one of those ugly beanings that a fanbase remembers for a long time—25 years and counting in this case.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate 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 rather just skim things.
3,000 days since Barry Bonds gets an extra-base hit in his eighth consecutive game.
4,000 days since the A’s, Rockies, and Royals make a series of moves that I think technically count as two trades, but it’s essentially one. The Royals trade Jermaine Dye to the Rockies straight up for Neifi Perez. Colorado then flips Dye to the A’s.
7,000 days since Terry Mulholland pitches 10 innings in a start for Philadelphia. They won’t have another pitcher go that long in game until Cliff Lee did it earlier this year.
8,000 days since Terry Muholland tosses a no-hitter, beating the Giants 6-0 while facing just 27 batters.
8,000 days since Mark McGwire hits the first of five career walk-off home runs, which is a walk-off grand slam.
15,000 days since mentally troubled Angels outfielder Alex Johnson accuses utility infielder Chico Ruiz of pulling a gun on him in the locker room.
20,000 days since the Milwaukee Braves return to Wisconsin during the 1957 World Series, and an all-time record crowd of 200,000 (!) greets them at the airport. A civic commission also greets the Yankees, who consider the entire thing to be bush league.
1884 Hugh Daily fans 19 batters in one game in the Union Association, nominally a major league.
1888 Major league debut: Red Ehret, a decent pitcher for the next decade or so. He has a rather memorable debut as the game ends when opposing batter Billy Shindle hits into the rare walk-off triple play.
1892 Kid Nichols, the best pitcher of the 1890s, allows two inside-the-park home runs in one game
1900 Kid Nichols becomes the youngest pitcher in baseball history to win his 300th game. He’s the sixth member of the club, joining Pud Galvin, John Clarkson, Tim Keefe, Mickey Welch, and Old Hoss Radbourn.
1902 Baltimore (AL) releases player-manager John McGraw.
1902 Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, Negro Leaguer who lives to be over 100 years old, is born.
1906 Satchel Paige is born, supposedly in this year.
1909 Billy Herman, Hall of Fame second baseman, is born.
1909 The Indians purchase Vean Gregg from Spokane in the Northwestern League for $4,000 plus two players. I realize no one has ever heard of him, but Gregg was a terrific pitcher until he blew his arm out, going 63-33 in his first three seasons and leading the league in ERA as a rookie in 1911. (Apparently it took a while to add him to the roster after this purchase.)
1909 The Dodgers’ cumulative franchise record drops to .500 and stays under it for 38 years (1,751-1,751).
1909 The Phillies walk six Giants in a row in the sixth inning, tying an NL record. Next month, an AL team will walk seven in a row, which is still the record.
1914 Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles minor league team, offers to sell his star pitcher Babe Ruth to Connie Mack for $10,000, but Mack refuses it, pleading poverty.
1915 Dodgers-Braves game ends in tie after 16 scoreless innings. Phil Douglas gets the complete game for Brooklyn.
1918 Rabbit Maranville gets a 10-day leave from the Navy and plays 11 games for the Braves in that time, hitting .306.
1922 Dazzy Vance, by far the greatest strikeout artist of his generation, has his longest outing without a punchout: 8.1 innings with 39 batters faced in 6-5 loss for his Dodgers to the Cardinals. The game ends on a walk-off home run by Rogers Hornsby, the first of his five career walk-off homers.
1922 George Kelly hits an inside-the-park home run in the top of the 18th inning, leading the Giants to a 9-8 win over the Pirates. The game was 7-7 after 17 innings. Max Carey and Johnny Gooch recorded six hits each for the Pirates in this game.
1923 Young pitcher Lefty O’Doul sets a major league record that still stands when he allows 13 runs in one inning. His full line: 3 IP, 11 H, 16 R, 13 ER, 8 BB, 0 K as the Red Sox beat the Indians, 27-3. After washing out as a pitcher, O’Doul comes back as an effective hitter and later becomes known as the Father of Japanese Baseball.
1925 Hall of Fame hurler Herb Pennock allows his only walk-off home run. He’s pitching in relief and faces only one batter.
1927 Washington trades starting pitcher Alvin "General" Crowder to the Browns for fellow hurler Tom Zachary.
1928 Hack Wilson homers in his fifth consecutive game. He’s gone 11-for-20 with two doubles and six homers in that time, scored 10 runs, and driven in 14. His AVG/OBP/SLG is .550/.591/1.550 for an OPS of 2.141.
1929 A fire and subsequent grandstand collapse at a Detroit Stars Negro Leagues game injure over 100 fans.
1931 The White Sox and Browns link up in the longest game without a strikeout in history (or at least since 1920): CWS 10, STB 9 (12).
1933 Jack Quinn, the oldest real player in major league history, plays his final game. He was 49 years and six days old. He’s the greatest pitcher in baseball history born in the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
1936 The NL wins its first All-Star Game.
1937 In the All-Star Game, a line drive by Earl Averill smashes into the foot of Dizzy Dean, breaking a toe. FDR becomes the first president to attend an All-Star Game on this day and throws out the first pitch.
1939 Deacon White, early baseball star, dies at age 91.
1945 Bill Melton, at one point the all-time White Sox home run leader, is born.
1945 Ernie Lombardi, arguably the slowest player of all time, hits his first triple in over four years and nearly 500 games.
1946 Bob Feller ties a personal high by completing his 15th straight game. His line in that period: 13-2 record, 4 SHO, 137 IP, 112 H, 27 R, 27 ER, 47 BB, 142 K, 1.77 ERA.
1948 Satchel Paige celebrates his 42nd birthday by signing a contract to play for the Indians. The Sporting News thinks it’s just a publicity stunt and calls it a “travesty on baseball.”
1950 Cincinnati’s Connie Ryan steals home in the 11th inning for a 5-4 win over the Cubs.
1953 The bus driving the Yankees from Connie Mack Stadium to the railroad station gets in an accident. Allie Reynolds injures his back, causing chronic pain for him.
1953 The St. Louis Browns lose their 20th straight home game. Lucky them, it’s their last year in St. Louis.
1955 Len Barker, who would throw a perfect game, is born.
1955 For the second time in three games, Willie Mays hits two homers.
1956 Bill Mazeroski, perhaps the greatest defensive second baseman of all time, makes his big league debut.
1958 NL President Warren Giles appoints a committee to study expansion to 10 teams.
1963 Birdie Tebbetts manages his 1,000th game. (514-485 record)
1963 Red Schoendienst, future Hall of Famer, plays his last game. In the same contest, slugging Giants third baseman Jim Ray Hart makes his major league debut in a game that ends with a walk-off error. Ouch. Oh, in that same game, 42-year-old Stan Musial hits his 177th and final career triple.
1964 The NL evens the All-Star Game series at 17 games apiece by beating the AL, 7-4.
1966 Dave Burba, consistent pitcher in his 30s, is born.
1966 Jeff Shaw, closer, is born.
1967 White Sox 2, Twins 1. Both of Chicago’s runs score on a walk-off error. The Twins have only two hits all game, though.
1967 One-time World Series perfect pitcher Don Larsen plays his last game.
1968 Reggie Jackson hits the second of four career inside-the-park home runs.
1968 Chuck Knoblauch born.
1968 Cubs sweep doubleheader from the Pirates, with relief ace Phil Regan recording the wins in both games.
1969 The Reds purchase aging pitcher Camilo Pascual from Washington.
1969 Royals pitcher Jim Rooker smashes two home runs off Twins ace Jim Kaat.
1970 It’s Lou Boudreau Day in Cleveland. The road outside the stadium is renamed Lou Boudreau Blvd., and the team retires his number.
1970 Brooks Robinson hits a walk-off grand slam in a 6-2 (10) win for the Orioles over the Yankees.
1971 It’s announced that Negro Leaguers elected to Cooperstown will have full membership as inductees.
1972 The A’s sign amateur free agent Claudell Washington.
1972 Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko has a novel way of protesting an umpire’s call: He fakes a heart attack over it. Predictably, the umps eject him.
1972 Montreal’s Ken Singleton begins wearing a special uniform as he’s apparently allergic to the materials in the normal Expos uniform and keeps getting a rash from it.
1973 Tony Perez hits his 200th home run.
1974 Johnny Bench gets his 1,000th hit. It took him 1,013 games.
1974 Darrel Chaney of the Reds hits a grand slam vs. the Cards. He’s so proud of it, he later uses the radio call of it as the door chime at his home.
1974 Hank Aaron hits his second and final home run off Rick Reuschel. This allows Reuschel to become half of the answer to a great trivia question: Who are the only two pitchers to allow home runs to Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds? The other is Frank Tanana.
1974 Bob Forsch makes his major league debut on the mound.
1975 Giants catcher Marc Hill tags out runners at home from three different outfield throws. St. Louis wins anyway, 8-6.
1977 Catfish Hunter charged with his first balk since May 27, 1970.
1979 Mike Schmidt hits three home runs in one game. A fourth fly ball goes to the warning track.
1982 Don Sutton wins his 250th game.
1982 In an event I remember from my childhood, Harold Baines hits three homers in one game for the White Sox, one of which is a grand slam. As a seven-year-old, it was the most amazing achievement I’d ever heard of, and despite the fact I ended up a Cubs fan, Baines has always been my all-time favorite player.
1983 Former outfielder Vic Wertz dies.
1986 Harold Baines gets his 1,000th hit in his 925th game.
1986 Dave Winfield gets his 2,000th hit in his 1,889th game.
1986 The Angels beat the Brewers, 3-1 in 16 innings, despite getting only six hits on the day, two of which came in the 16th. The game was scoreless until the final frame. Milwaukee starter Bill Wegman lasted 11 innings, one of the last times anyone has pitched that long in a game.
1986 The Phillies begin the game in style: back-to-back homers by Gary Redus and Juan Samuel.
1988 Frank Robinson manages his 1,000th game (476-524).
1990 Gary Carter has his only 5-for-5 game at the plate.
1990 Major league debut: Travis Fryman
1991 Bernie Williams.makes his big league debut with the Yankees.
1991 Nolan Ryan fans seven straight Angels and has a no-hitter until the eighth inning, when Dave Winfield ruins it with a single. Ryan ends the day with two hits and 14 whiffs in eight innings of work in a 7-0 win.
1991 Umpire Steve Palermo is shot while trying to help two women in an attempted robbery in Dallas.
1992 Andy Van Slyke becomes the first outfielder since 1974 to get an unassisted double play. A batter flies out to shallow center and Van Slyke doubles up Ken Caminiti at second base.
1993 Barry Larkin has a day from hell, grounding into three double plays in an 0-for-4 performance. At least he gets an RBI sac fly as the Reds win by one run. In this same game, Reds pitcher Tom Browning leaves Wrigley Field to watch the game from a rooftop on Sheffield Avenue, earning him a $500 fine.
1993 Ben Chapman, Phillies manager most (in)famous for heckling Jackie Robinson in 1947, dies.
1993 Bret Saberhagen tosses a firecracker under a table near reporters in Shea Stadium. He’s later unapologetic, saying it’s a practical joke and it they can’t take it, forget them. Twenty days later, he’ll shoot a water gun filled with bleach at some reporters.
1993 Lenny Dykstra hits a walk-off double in the 20th inning, the latest walk-off double since 1950. Phillies 7, Dodgers 6. Mitch Williams blew a 5-3 lead in the ninth, and it's 5-5 until the last inning.
1993 Debut: Kirk Rueter.
1993 Debut: Todd Jones.
1994 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent Adrian Beltre.
1998 The highest scoring All-Star Game ever takes place, at Coors Field, naturally. AL 13, NL 8.
1999 The Rockies tie a record by scoring in 15 consecutive innings over multiple games. Curt Schilling ends the streak.
2000 Butte Cooper Kings have John Rocker Awareness Night, offering free admission to various groups mentioned by John Rocker in his Sports Illustrated interview.
2001 John Halama throws the first perfect game in the history of the Pacific Coast League.
2001 Mark McGwire hits his 14th and final grand slam.
2004 Kyle Lohse pitches his third straight shutout. Kyle Lohse? And I thought it was unexpected when Neil Allen did it back in the 1980s.
2005 The International Olympics Committee drops baseball and softball as Olympic sports.
2005 Todd Helton hammers his 259th home run as a Rockie, passing Larry Walker for the franchise leader.
2006 Jose Lima plays in his last game.
2007 Derek Jeter has his worst game ever, according to WPA: -0.457 by going 0-for-5 with a GIDP and a strikeout. He also is hit by a pitch as the Yankees lose, 2-1, to the Angels.
2008 The Indians trade CC Sabathia to the Brewers for Matt LaPorta and two others.
2009 Alan Embree of the Rockies does the unlikely: wins the game without throwing a single pitch. He picks off Austin Kearns with two outs in the eighth inning, and then the Rockies come back to take the lead and win, 5-4.
2009 Paul Konerko hits three homers in a game.
2010 Adam Dunn hits three homers in a game.
2010 The St. Louis Cardinals retire the number of Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog.
2011 The Nationals blow an 8-0 lead, losing 10-9 to the Cubs.
2011 Travis Hafner hits a walk-off grand slam for a 5-4 Indians win over the Blue Jays. It was 4-0 entering the bottom of the ninth.
2011 Hall of Fame skipper Dick Williams dies.
2011 In Texas, a fan dies in the stands when he reaches for a foul ball that star outfielder Josh Hamilton throws into the stands. The fan falls over a 20-foot high scoreboard to plunge to his death.
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.