Tuesday, January 17, 2012
10,000 days since Buddy Bell walk-off slamPosted by Chris Jaffe
10,000 days ago, one of baseball’s more underrated talents did one of the coolest things a player could do. On Aug. 31, 1984, Buddy Bell belted a walk-off grand slam to cap an impressive rally for his Texas Rangers.
On that day, Texas hosted the Milwaukee Brewers, and things didn’t go the home team’s way for most of the day. The Brew Crew busted out to a 6-1 lead, largely thanks to a four-run sixth inning. (In that frame, Texas stopped the Milwaukee rally by calling on a young relief pitcher name Tom Henke, who made only his 30th big league outing on that day).
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, it was still 6-1 and Milwaukee could seemingly sleepwalk to victory. However, reliever Jack Lazorko had lost his edge. After pitching three scoreless innings in relief (it was a different time), Lazorko began his fourth frame by surrendering back-to-back singles.
Well that’s no good for Milwaukee, so skipper Rene Lachemann made a change, calling on Rick Waits to finish off the game. Waits was no better, however, as he also allowed back-to-back singles.
Now the score was 6-3, with the tying run at the plate and still nobody out. Optimists in Arlington’s crowd of 9,404 started to wonder if Texas really could do it.
Probably not. Milwaukee now brought in Pete Ladd, and he quickly got two outs. First he fanned Alan Bannister, and then he made leadoff hitter Mickey Rivers send a meek pop foul to the third baseman.
Now Texas was down to its last out. Sure enough, they appeared doomed when Gary Ward, Texas’ last hope, hit a grounder to Milwaukee’s superstar shortstop Robin Yount. It should’ve been an easy out to end the inning and game. Should’ve.
But Yount pooched the play somehow, and all hands were safe. That brought up Buddy Bell for his big moment. Bell was never a huge power hitter, but he had enough oomph to make teams respect him. He’d belted over 140 homers in his career and was a good enough all-around player to win selection to five All-Star games – including one earlier this year.
Though he hadn’t belted a grand slam in three years, he’d hit five in his career. In fact, a dozen years earlier his first home run was a grand slam home run.
And sure enough, he took a nice swing and drove the ball over the fence. It completed a wild comeback and gave the Rangers a 7-6 win over the Brewers, with the final runs officially unearned due to Yount’s error.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversaries and “day-versraries” today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to skim the list:
5,000 days since the Marlins lose, dropping Jim Leyland’s career record under .500 (956-957). He remains under .500 until the very end of the 2011 season when he finally goes back over it.
7,000 days since the A’s trade Walt Weiss to the Florida.
7,000 days since the Reds trade Norm Charlton to the Mariners for Kevin Mitchell.
7,000 days since the NL expansion draft for the Marlins and the Rockies.
The Rockies pick up: Eric Young from the Dodgers, Joe Girardi from the Cubs, Andy Ashby from the Phillies, Vinny Castilla from the Braves, Brad Ausmus from the Yankees, and future big league manager Eric Wedge from the Red Sox.
The Marlins pick up: Trevor Hoffman from the Reds, Greg Hibbard from the White Sox, Jeff Conine from the Royals, Carl Everett from the Yankees, Brian Harvey from the Angels, and Darren Jackson from the Pirates.
9,000 days since Mike Young has the best known WPA game by a Baltimore bat. He goes 3-for-4 with two homers in an extra-inning 8-7 win over the Angels. Young homers in the 10th and 12th inning in the game.
9,000 days since Joe Carter belts three home runs in a game for the second time in his career. He’ll do it three more times in his career.
20,000 days since Jack Coombs, former 30-game winner, dies.
Also along these lines, at some point today it will be one billion seconds since Larry Bowa legs out the only inside the park home run Tom Seaver ever allows.
1888 The American Association admits the Kansas City Cowboys to the league to replace the defunct New York Metropolitans.
1895 Andrew Freeman buys controlling interest in the Giants.
1895 St. Louis and Pittsburgh swap pitchers. The Pirates send Red Ehret and $3,000 to St. Louis for Pink Hawley.
1905 Ray Cunningham, who becomes one of the only ballplayers to live to the age of 100, is born. He’ll play 14 games for the 1931 Cardinals.
1915 The Cleveland Plain Dealer announces that the local AL team will now be called the Indians, replacing the Naps as their nickname.
1931 Don Zimmer, baseball lifer, is born.
1937 Cleveland trades pitcher Oral Hildebrand and two others to the Browns for three players. Hildebrand is guy who could’ve done much better for himself if he didn’t have the utterly horrible Browns defense behind him.
1939 Ed Barrow becomes Yankee president, replacing the recently deceased Jacob Ruppert.
1952 Darrell Porter, All-Star catcher, is born.
1952 Tigers owner Walter Briggs Sr. dies, making his son Walter “Spike” Briggs the big boss.
1960 Chili Davis, long-lasting outfielder, is born.
1970 Curt Flood files a $4.1 million lawsuit against baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
1970 In the January amateur draft, the following teams claim the following players: Cleveland gets Chris Chambliss, San Francisco gets Chris Speier, Boston gets Rick Burleson, Baltimore gets Doug DeCinces, Kansas City gets Greg Minton, and Washington gets Bill Madlock.
1979 Danny O’Brien signs a contract as president and CEO of Seattle nine days after resigning as Texas GM.
1983 Boston purchases Brian Kingman from Oakland. With Oakland, Kingman went 8-20 in 1980, and for a long time was baseball’s last 20-game loser.
1984 In the January draft, many teams draft prominent names that they won’t sign at this time, including: St. Louis drafting Jeff Blauser and Greg Vaughn; Houston drafting Greg Hibbard; and Minnesota drafting Mark Grace. On a happier note, some teams draft players they will sign, most notably Pittsbugh with Jay Buhner and the Yankees with Tim Belcher.
1984 The Milwaukee Brewers release longtime infielder Don Money.
1999 The Giants sign free agent catcher Scott Servais.
2000 Tampa Bay signs free agent pitcher John Burkett.
2002 Bud Selig says Washington DC is a “prime candidate” for relocation if any team moves in the near future.
2002 Milwaukee signs free agent infielder Eric Young.
2002 David Wells signs with the New York Yankees, returning to the team he previously won a world title with.
2004 Former 1940s star pitcher Harry Brecheen dies.
2005 The Indians sign what’s left of Juan Gonzalez.
2008 Baseball owners vote unanimously to extend Bud Selig’s commissioner contract through 2012.
2011 The Rockies sign free agent slugger Jason Giambi.
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.