Monday, June 10, 2013
15,000 days since Luzinski rings the Liberty BellPosted by Chris Jaffe
15,000 days ago, one of the great monster shots in baseball history took place. Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski hit one of the great blasts in the history of the City of Brotherly Love.
It was May 16, 1972, and the Phillies hosted the Chicago Cubs at Veterans Stadium. Still a relatively new place, the multi-purpose Veterans Stadium had a touch of Philadelphia in its outfield. Beyond the fence in center, the stadium had a replica of the Liberty Bell. After all, the real one is in City of Brotherly Love.
Anyhow, it’s way out there. It wasn’t just in center field, it was up in the 400 seats. That’s quite the distance, which means it was unlikely anyone ever would hit the ball far enough to “ring” the Veterans Stadium Liberty Bell. And sure enough, in its decades of service, only once did a slugger smash a ball that far. That one time came off the bat of Greg Luzinski.
The blow came in the bottom of the fourth frame against Cubs pitcher Burt Hooton. Whatever the pitch was—I’m guessing a fastball—it clearly didn’t fool Luzinski, and he made some damn solid contact with it. Over the mound, over the infield, beyond the fence, over the fans in the stands, and into the bell, approximately 500 feet away. Yeah, that isn’t easy to do.
As it happens, that was the only bad pitch Hooton threw all day. He allowed just three hits in a complete-game, 8-1 win over the Phillies.
Playing in just his 62nd major league game, this titanic blast cemented Luzinski's reputation as one of the best longball hitters in baseall, and he'd keep that rep for the rest of his days. When Luzinski joined the White Sox late in his career, he hit a record number of roof-shot home runs in old Comiskey Park. Admittedly, that was in part because the Sox moved home plate closer to the outfield before the year began, making it easier to launch balls onto the roof. That said, Luzinski had plenty of power.
In retirement, Luzinski even appeared in a comical beer commercial lampooning his power. He was on a golf course and hit a ball so far that it landed in Japan. The commercial makers picked Luzinski because he was known for having so much power, and no shot better demonstrated his impressive strength than the Liberty Bell long ball he belted in Philadelphia precisely 15,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Barry Zito suffers his ninth straight loss in horrible fashion, losing 1-0 to the Dodgers. The one run scores in an inning in which LA doesn’t get a hit. Zito hits a batter and gives up two walks before an error brings Juan Uribe home.
5,000 days since closer Jeff Montgomery appears in his last game.
5,000 days since Paul Sorrento plays in his final contest.
7,000 days since The Ballpark in Arlington hosts its first big league game.
15,000 days since Rick Monday belts three home runs in one game.
30,000 days since Babe Ruth collides with Red Sox catcher Charlie Berry at the plate while trying to score a run on a sacrifice fly. Ruth has to be taken off the field and will receive treatment at a Boston hospital for his injuries.
1884 Bill Hutchinson, one of the best pitchers of the late 1880s and early 1890s, makes his big league debut.
1887 Jumbo McGinnis, star pitcher for the early-1880s Cardinals, appears in his final game.
1890 Jack Stivetts hits a walk-off grand slam for a 9-8 St. Louis victory over Toledo. Added bonus: Stivetts is a pitcher. It’s his only career grand slam.
1892 Baltimore Orioles catcher Wilbert Robinson has a day for the ages, going 7-for-7 with 11 RBIs.
1893 Mike Tiernan, one of the only pre-Babe Ruth sluggers to hit over 100 homers, enjoys his only walk-off home run.
1901 Hall of Fame pitcher Vic Willis belts his only career home run.
1903 The Highlanders (they'll be come the Yankees) and Tigers swap shortstops. Detroit gets Herman Long, and New York receives Kid Elberfeld. Long has the better career, but his glory days were in the 1890s, while Elberfeld will be a solid starting shortstop for several years in the future.
1905 Danny MacFayden, one of the only pitchers to notch a win against all 16 teams in the pre-expansion era, is born.
1912 Chief Meyers hits for the cycle.
1926 Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski wins his 200th decision. His record is 200-132 and counting as his career is winding down.
1932 Fantastic Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell has the sole balk of his career.
1934 Lou Gehrig connects for the 16th of his record 23 career grand slams.
1934 Doc Cramer hits for the cycle.
1936 Firpo Marberry, one of the first notable relievers, appears in his last game.
1938 Bill Lefebvre does something no one has ever done before: he hits a home run in what turns out to be his only at-bat of the season.
1942 Doc Cramer gets his 2,000th career hit.
1944 Teenaged Joe Nuxhall makes his big league debut for the Reds.
1947 Ken Singleton, player for the Earl Weaver Orioles, is born.
1949 The cumulative franchise record for the Reds falls to .500 (4,889-4,889) for the first time in nine years. They’ll fall under it for a while but eventually rise back over .500.
1951 Future Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams makes his big league debut as a player for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1952 Sam Mele has a great week one inning, belting a three-run homer and a three-run triple.
1953 Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall ties an AL record with six straight hits in one game. It’s in the first game of a doubleheader. In the nightcap, he is 0-for-5. Piersall is the first Red Sox player to have six in hits in a game. They were the last pre-expansion team without anyone doing that.
1953 Rick Camp, longtime Braves pitcher and the greatest slugger in the history of the 18th inning, is born.
1955 Floyd Bannister, pitcher and father of a major league pitcher, is born.
1956 Roberto Clemente plays second base for the first of just two times in his career. He makes an error there.
1959 AL slugger Rocky Colavito hits four home runs in one game.
1960 Sandy Koufax posts a loss, dropping his career record to 29-35, six games below .500, his all-time low point.
1961 Joe Nuxhall becomes the only pitcher ever to belt a home run off Whitey Ford.
1961 The Angels release Ned Garver.
1962 Richie Ashburn hits his first home run in 378 games and 1,461 plate appearances. His last home run was July 2, 1959. (And that was an inside-the-park homer; today’s shot is his first one over the fence since June 22, 1958). By the end of June 1962, Ashburn will have four home runs. Go figure.
1963 Al Kaline hits his 200th career home run.
1964 In both ends of a double-header, Ken Boyer reaches base via catcher’s interference. That’s original.
1965 Frank Robinson clanks his 300th career home run.
1966 Sandy Koufax completes his eighth straight complete game, his longest such streak. His line in that period: 8-0, 2 SHO, 72 IP, 43 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 13 BB, and 75 K for a 0.75 ERA.
1966 Sonny Siebert throws a no-hitter, walking one while another batter reaches on an error in a 2-0 Indians triumph over the Senators.
1967 Twins workhorse Jim Kaat posts his 100th victory for a career record of 100-90.
1970 Nolan Ryan has his longest outing without a strikeout: four innings.
1972 Fergie Jenkins sets a personal best with his 11th consecutive complete game. He’s 7-4 with a 2.47 ERA in that period.
1972 Hank Aaron ties Gil Hodges record with his 14th grand slam.
1973 Hank Aaron endures his worst-ever game according to WPA: 0-for-5 with a whiff and GIDP in a 4-3 Braves loss to the Cardinals.
1974 Mike Schmidt hits a monster single. It hits the PA speaker in the Astromde that’s 117 feet up and 329 feet from home plate, but it’s still in play. It falls to the outfield, and Schmidt is held at first.
1975 Freddy Garcia, pitcher, is born.
1975 200-game winner Jim Perry has the only one-hitter of his career. Al Bumbry’s sixth-inning single is all he allows. Perry’s career is nearly over, with just eight more starts and a pair of relief appearances left.
1975 It seemed like a good idea on paper. The Yankees have Army Day at Shea Stadium (their home while Yankee Stadium undergoes renovations). A 21-gun salute is loud enough to shatter glass and also fills the place with smoke and somehow knocks over part of the fence.
1976 The Cubs sell Milt Wilcox to the Tigers.
1976 Mike Krukow debuts, beginning his major league pitching career.
1977 Pete Rose bops his 500th career double. He has over 200 more to go.
1977 Turk Farrell, good pitcher hampered by terrible run support with the early 1960s Astros, dies at the too young age of 43.
1978 The Yankees trade what’s left of former star pitcher Ken Holtzman to the Cubs for reliever Ron Davis.
1979 Gene Mauch manages his 3,000th game. His record is 1,417-1,580 and counting.
1979 Jim Lonborg, star pitcher for the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox, appears in his final contest.
1981 Jack Morris completes his seventh straight start, his longest streak (one he’ll tie later on). He’s 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA during this run.
1981 Pete Rose gets his 3,630th hit, tying Stan Musial for the most in NL history.
1984 Ageless wonder George Brunet throws his 55th shutout in the Mexican League, a record.
1985 Jim Rice smacks his fifth walk-off home run. He’ll never have another. He gets it off Rollie Fingers, Rice’s only walk-off against a fellow Hall of Famer.
1986 The Mets top the Phillies, 8-4 in 11 innings, thanks to a walk-off grand slam by Tim Teufel.
1987 Charlie Hough commits three balks in one game.
1987 First baseman Jorge Orta appears in his last game.
1991 Major league baseball awards expansion franchises to Colorado and Miami. The powers-that-be in baseball decided to expand in order to pay their massive fines for mid-1980s collusion. The expansion fees will cover the financial hit imposed upon them by the judicial authorities.
1991 Andy Ashby makes his major league debut on the mound.
1992 Mark McGwire launches his 200th career home run.
1994 Eddie Murray hits his 500th double.
1995 Jeff Manto, who entered the season with four homers over three years, hits a homer in his fourth straight at-bat. In fact, he’ll have five homers in six at-bats in this stretch. He’ll end the year with 17 homers. He hits 14 homers in all his other seasons combined.
1995 Paul Byrd, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1997 Jim Edmonds makes perhaps the best catch of his career, a diving, sliding catch while running towards the wall in center field.
1997 Kevin Brown throws a no-hitter. He didn’t walk anyone, either, but he does hit a batter with two out in the eighth. He fans seven for a Game Score of 94, his highest.
1998 Dante Bichette has the best one-game WPA score by any Colorado Rockies hitter ever: 1.141. He is 4-for-6 while hitting for the cycle, scoring twice, and driving in five runs in a 9-8 Colorado victory over the Rangers.
1998 Jim Hearn, former big league pitcher, dies at age 77. He led the NL in ERA in 1950 with a mark of 2.49.
1998 Jim Thome’s longest hitting streak peaks at 16 games. He’s 22-for-63 with just six singles in it. (He has nine doubles and seven homers.)
2000 Darin Erstad hit a double, giving him 100 hits in 61 team games (60 of which he’s played in), the fastest anyone has gotten to that total since Heinie Manush did it for the 1934 Senators.
2000 Mark McGwire surprises everyone by stealing a base. It’s his 12th and final career swipe.
2003 Justin Morneau, slugging first baseman, appears in his first major league contest.
2003 Star infielder Jose Reyes makes his major league debut.
2004 Bernie Williams joins the 2,000-hit club.
2006 John Halama, pitcher, appears in his last game.
2006 Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester makes his major league debut.
2006 Moe Drabowsky dies at age 70. He was a hot young pitcher whose career never quite came together the way it was supposed to, mostly due to arm issues.
2007 Longtime manager Lou Piniella helms his 3,000th game. His record is 1,519-1,420.
2008 Weak-armed outfielder Jacque Jones appears in his last game.
2008 Moises Alou, good-hitting outfielder who aged very well, appears in his last game.
2008 The Yankees release Morgan Ensberg.
2009 The Dodgers record their 10,000th franchise win. (This includes their years in the American Association back in the 1880s, which was a major league back then.)
2010 Carlos Pena becomes the all-time Tampa Bay Rays home run leader when he launches his 129th long ball with the club. He passes Aubrey Huff.
2011 Today’s Brewers-Cardinals game has an unexpected development when a popcorn machine in right field malfunctions in the sixth inning and starts a fire. As it happens, Tony LaRussa manages his 5,000th game.
2011 Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Indians manager Manny Acta go nose-to-nose screaming at each other after a hit-by-pitch to Mark Teixeira. No punches are thrown, 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.