Tuesday, November 20, 2012
10,000 days since hecklers and Rick Miller’s familyPosted by Chris Jaffe
10,000 days ago, one of the uglier moment of 1980s baseball occurred, when the Red Sox dugout went into the stands to deal with a heckler.
This, as you might guess, wasn’t an ordinary heckler. Baseball players are used to hearing the typical boorish behavior. Now, this guy went a bit further because he wasn’t heckling a player – he was heckling a player’s family.
It was July 5, 1985 and the Boston Red Sox were in California to take on the Angels. The game itself was of little account. The Angels posted six runs in the third to take a commanding early lead, and scored four more in the bottom of the eighth to ice it, 13-4 over Boston.
The drama was entirely off the field. Sitting out the day for Boston was veteran player Rick Miller. He’d been a serviceable outfielder for several years – never anyone’s star but good enough to hang around the league. At age 37, this would be his 14th and final season, and he was having a nice final campaign, primarily serving as a pinch hitter for Boston.
Though Miller had first come up to the majors with the Red Sox and currently played with them, he hadn’t spent his entire big league career with Boston. In 1978 he’d gone to the west coast as a free agent to play with the Angels. After three seasons, the Angels traded him back to Boston, where Miller had been ever since.
Given Miller’s background as an Angels player, I suppose it isn’t too surprising to find out that he had family on hand in Angels Stadium that day to cheer on him and his teammates. It also meant that some Angels fans, including at least one drunken boar, would be that much more aware of Miller and who he was.
At some point in the game, some jerk off heckler realized that Rick Miller’s family was sitting nearby, and started publicly insulting and ridiculing them. This was too much for Miller to endure. Insult him? Fine – he’s a professional and he gets paid to deal with morons like that. Insult his family? Not fine.
Going into the stands to go after a fan isn’t the smartest thing in the world, but Miller didn’t care – he wanted a piece of the person insulting his family. That was good enough for some of his Red Sox teammates. Though the 1980s Red Sox are sometimes maligned as the team of “25 players, 25 cabs" (meaning they didn’t have any real solidarity among them), on this day some of the bench players joined Miller.
The sentiment wasn’t confined to the Red Sox bench. Though no Angles went into the stands, at least one told a reporter after the game that he supported what the Red Sox had done. Insulting someone’s family is a line you do not cross.
Things soon settled down. The heckler was de-fanged, the players went back to their dugout. As near as I can tell, no one was even ejected for the incident. The incident was over—10,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary.” Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things.
1,000 days since Josh Hamilton bruises his left shoulder in his first spring training workout. He’ll recover and win the MVP that season.
2,000 days since Roy Halladay wins his 100th decision, giving him a career record of 100-50.
3,000 days since Gavin Floyd makes his big league debut.
3,000 days since Nick Swisher makes his big league debut.
7,000 days since a Braves-Expos game features 13 pinch-hitters. The Braves win easily, 18-5.
7,000 days since Charlie Leibrandt pitches in his final game.
8,000 days since the Senior Professional Baseball Association in Florida goes out of business during it’s second season.
10,000 days since the Cubs bat out of order in the first inning. Instead of going Billy Hatcher-Ryne Sandberg-Davey Lopes, the Cubs bat Hatcher-Lopes-Sandberg. That’s impressive getting it wrong in the first inning.
20,000 days since Rafael Ramirez, shortstop, is born.
20,000 days since the Indians trade Hank Aguirre and Jim Hegan to the Tigers for Hal Woodeshick and Jay Porter.
25,000 days since Joe Nuxhall makes his big league debut, becoming the youngest major league player of the 20th century in the process.
40,000 days since the birth of James “Cool Papa” Bell, Negro League legend.
1866 Longtime baseball commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis is born.
1869 Clark Griffith, 200-game winning pitcher turned Hall of Fame owner of the Senators, is born.
1888 The Rules Committee decrees that four balls, not five, will now constitute a walk. The four ball, three strike count is finally here – and here to stay.
1890 Leon Cadore, one of two pitchers who threw a complete game in a 26 inning 1-1 game on May 1, 1920, is born.
1920 The Phillies trade Hall of Fame southpaw Eppa Rixey to the Reds for Greasy Neale and Jimmy Ring.
1934 Catcher/scholar/spy Moe Berg reportedly shoots movie footage of Toyko roofs for the US government on this day.
1945 Jay Johnstone, colorful player, is born.
1945 Rick Monday, the first player ever drafted in baseball’s first ever draft, is born.
1950 Pirates GM Roy Hamey resigns. This clears the way for Branch Rickey to replace him.
1951 Hank Aaron signs to play with the Negro League squad, the Indianapolis Clowns.
1952 Baseball commissioner Ford Frick says he believes that eventually the Pacific Coast League will reach major league status.
1957 The A’s and Tigers engage in a 13-player trade. The biggest names are A’s going to Detroit, including Billy Martin, Gus Zernial, and Mickey McDermott.
1958 Another year, another Billy Martin trade. The Tigers send him to Cleveland.
1959 Roy Thomas, turn-of-the-century OBP-machine centerfielder for the Phillies, dies at age 85.
1962 Gabe Paul buys the Cleveland Indians from William R. Daley.
1962 The White Sox release Early Wynn, who is still looking for win No. 300.
1962 The Pirates trade Dick Stuart to the Red Sox.
1967 Minnesota releases former All-Star catcher Earl Battey.
1969 The Seattle Pilots fire Joe Schultz, their manager.
1975 J.D. Drew is born.
1975 The Giants fire manager Wes Westrum, and coax Bill Rigney out of retirement to manage them.
1979 Atlanta signs free agent reliever Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian himself.
1985 The Pirates name Jim Leyland their manager. It’s Leyland’s first big league managerial gig.
1987 The Cubs hire Don Zimmer as their manager. It’s one of the first moves by new Cubs director of baseball operations Jim Frey, as he and Zimmer are old friends.
1990 In an All-Star tour of Japan, Chuck Finley and Randy Johnson combine to no-hitter the Japanese All-Stars.
1990 Roger Clemens is suspended for the first five games of the 1991 AL season for mouthing off at an umpire and getting ejected in Game Four of the ALCS.
1992 A story breaks that Reds owner Marge Schott possesses Nazi armbands and uses racial epithets. Something like this has been gurgling around the media for at least a week, though.
1995 The Rockies trade catcher Joe Girardi to the Yankees.
1996 The Mariners sign free agent Jamie Moyer. He’d came there mid-1996 in a trade, but this ensures that he’ll spend more time there. His time in Seattle turns Moyer from a journeyman veteran into a surprise star.
1997 Atlanta signs free agent Andres Galarraga.
1997 Detroit trades Phil Nevin to the Angels. Nevin’s career won’t get turned around until he arrives in San Diego.
1997 The Marlins trade Jeff Conine to the Royals for minor leaguers. This is part of the first great Marlins fire sale.
2006 The Cubs sign free agent Alfonso Soriano.
2007 The White Sox release veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik. He’ll return to the team in a few years, though.
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.