Tuesday, July 12, 2011
20,000 days since Don Larsen’s perfect gamePosted by Chris Jaffe
20,000 days ago, baseball witnessed one of its most famous games, and arguably its most well known great pitching performance.
On October 8, 1956 Don Larsen made history by pitching a perfect game in the World Series. Added bonus: aside from being the only postseason perfecto, it was also the first perfect game of any sort in baseball since 1922.
Larsen might have had his worst frame in the first inning. He tossed 15 pitches in it, tied for the most he allowed in any inning that day. He had his only three-ball count all day, to shortstop Pee Wee Reese who struck out looking on a full count. Then again, Larsen recorded two of his seven strikeouts that inning, so he couldn’t have had too much difficulty.
Later on, in the third and fourth innings Larsen retired three consecutive batters on the first pitch. The longest battle Larsen faced on the day came when he faced the opposing pitcher in the bottom of the sixth. Sal Maglie made Larsen throw seven pitches before Larsen finally got him to fan to end the inning.
Actually, Larsen’s game was the beginning of a three-game stretch of utter New York domination over the Brooklyn batters. In the next game, Bob Turley kept the Dodgers from scoring for nine innings. Heck, he even kept them from ever reaching third base. However, Brooklyn had also held New York scoreless, and a 10th-inning single by Jackie Robinson gave the Dodgers their first run in seemingly forever.
In the next contest—Game Seven itself, Johnny Kucks pitched a masterpiece for the Yankees. His three-hitter not only kept the Dodgers from scoring, but they didn’t get a single runner to third and only one to second base.
To sum up: 28 innings, one run, and aside from that no one ever made it within 90 feet of the plate. Yeah, that’s pretty good. In fact, it was the first time since August 1942 the Dodgers scored only one run in three consecutive games. That’s a stretch of over 2,000 games for the Dodgers without being dominated like that.
Getting back to Larsen, the perfect game wasn’t his only brush with a no-hitter. Three years earlier he nearly had one as a rookie on the St. Louis Browns. On August 30, 1953, in a home game against the Senators, Larsen kept a no-hitter going until the eight inning, when Wayne Terwillinger broke it up with a single. In that August game, Larsen walked the leadoff batter and so never had a chance at a perfect game, but followed that up by fanning the next five straight batters. He ended the game with a two-hitter.
Other events celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
4,000 days since the White Sox traded Harold Baines to the Orioles.
4,000 days since Bob Wickman Poster Night in Milwaukee, in honor of the team’s only All-Star that year. Problem: the day before Milwaukee had traded him to Cleveland. The Brewers lost 10-2, and in the final innings fans protested by unfurling their Wickman posters.
8,000 days since the big league debut for Larry Walker.
15,000 days since Bob Gibson had his best-ever Game Score in a nine-inning appearance: 96. His line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 K. Ivan Murell singled with two outs in the eighth inning for the Padres to ruin the no-hitter.
15,000 days since the first ever game featuring two members of the 500 home run club: Willie Mays (615 homers) and Ernie Banks (504 homers) faced off in a Giants-Cubs contest.
25,000 days since the birth of current Nationals manager Davey Johnson.
1884 Sam Kimber of Brooklyn hits into the rare walkoff triple play in a game against St. Louis.
1888 Mickey Welch, a 300-game winner, allows his only walkoff home run. Paul Hines, one of the best batters of his generation, hits it.
1892 Alexander Cartwright dies at age 92.
1894 John Clarkson, arguably the best pitcher of the 1880s, plays his last game.
1897 Kid Nichols, a 300-game winner and probably the best pitcher of the 1890s, hits an inside-the-park home run off his leading rival, Cy Young.
1899 Big league debut for Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Chesbro.
1900 Noodles Hahn tosses a no-hitter: CIN 4, PHI 0. Hahn is one of the pitchers who had Hall of Fame talent but not Hall of Fame durability. The Phillies would lead the league in hits that year making this the eighth most impressive no-hitter ever. A half-century would pass until another pitcher no-hit a league’s top hit team.
1901 Cy Young wins his 300th game, a 7-3 victory for Boston over the A’s.
1907 Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan returns to the diamond 24 days after a nasty beaning. As it happens, the first pitcher he faces is the same man who beaned him: Andy Coakle.
1911 A’s hurler Harry Krause needs to work on his pickoff move, as Ty Cobb steals second, third, and home on him on consecutive pitches.
1912 Connie Mack manages his 2,000th game as a skipper: 1,130-833 record.
1913 Ty Cobb plays second base for the Tigers and makes three errors in five chances. The Detroit Free Press says he’s “the worst second baseman living or dead.”
1927 In a match-up of Hall of Famers, George Sisler gets the better of Red Ruffing, clocking a three-run walkoff home run.
1929 The Tigers win a wild one, 13-12 over the Red Sox. Detroit scores four runs in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Boston hurler Red Ruffing goes 4-fo4- with a career-high five RBIs.
1931 An overflow crowd causes the day’s Cub-Cardinal game to have 23 doubles. They’re roped off in a special section of the field and any ball hit into them is a ground-rule double. The Cards win 17-13. That’s actually only half of a doubleheader, and there are 10 more doubles in the other game.
1940 Bob Feller has the highest Game Score of his career, 96, when he tosses his fourth career one-hitter. He will toss a record 12 one-hitters in his overall career.
1945 Detroit’s Hal Newshouser tosses his 14th straight Quality Start, a streak obviously aided by the weak caliber of competition in the summer of 1945. His line in that time: 11-3, 13 CG, 126 IP, 101 H, 21 R, 19 ER, 35 BB, 83 K, 1.36 ERA.
1945 Tommy Holmes’ hitting streak ends at 37 games, as the Cubs hold him hitless.
1946 Johnny Sain almost tosses a perfect game for the Braves against the Reds. It falls short when a Grady Hatton pop-up eludes three defenders behind third base.
1947 Pee Wee Reese is picked off base in an original way. When teammate Carl Furillo loses his bat in a swing, base runner Reese decides to pick it up and hand it back. He forgot to call time.
1949 Baseball owners approve installing warning tracks in stadiums.
1951 Allie Reynols tosses a no-hitter: NYY 1, CLE 0.
1951 The best WPA stint for a reliever, at least in the period for which we have WPA info. Boston’s Ellis Kinder pitches 10 innings of five-hit shutout ball from the eighth through 17th frames for a 1.419 WPA. It still might not be the most impressive pitching performance of the day, as White Sox hurler Saul Rogovin tosses a 17-inning complete game. However, Kinder leads Boston to a 3-2 (17) win over the White Sox.
1954 The Major League Baseball Players Association forms in Cleveland with representatives from all 16 teams are there. J. Norman Lewis, its first head, says it isn’t a union as it collects no dues.
1955 The AL blow a 5-0 lead in All-Star Game, and NL wins 6-5 (12).
1956 Mario Soto is born.
1957 There’s a new home run king of all time and his name is Robin Roberts. The Phillies workhorse allows three homers, Nos. 278-280, to pass Murry Dickson as king of the gopher ball. Roberts keeps the title for over a half-century until Jamie Moyer passes him.
1959 Commissioner Frick requests NBC stop using 80-inch lenses in an outfield TV camera that lets them show the catcher’s signals to the pitcher in a Boston-New York game.
1962 Hank and Tommie Aaron homer in the same inning, the first brother combination to do so since Lloyd and Paul Waner in 1938. Both Aaron brother homers in the bottom of the ninth inning to key a Brave comeback over the Cardinals. Tommie’s pinch hit solo shot makes the score 6-4 Cards. Shortly after that, Hank Aaron hits a walkoff grand slam to end it, 8-6. It’s the only walkoff slam Hank Aaron ever hits.
1963 Sandy Koufax tosses his third consecutive complete game shutout. In that span, opponents have only nine hits and two walks against him, while fanning 26 times.
1964 Hank Aaron records his 2,000th hit in his 1,593rd game.
1964 Billy Williams hits the second of his five career walkoff homers. However, this is his only ninth inning walkoff. All the others come in extra innings.
1966 With on-field temperatures reaching 113 degrees, the NL beats the AL, 2-1 (10).
1968 Don Drysdale issues four intentional walks in only 6.1 IP, as the Braves beat the Dodgers, 7-0.
1968 The White Sox fire manager Eddie Stanky and tab Al Lopez to replace him.
1968 The Giants trade veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel to the Yankees for what’s left of Bill Monbouquette.
1970 The Tigers have three sacrifice bunts in one inning in a 7-3 win over Baltimore.
1970 Gaylord Perry allows three triples in one five-inning outing.
1972 Bob Gibson hits a home run and tosses a complete game shutout. This is the sixth and final time he combines those achievements, which I believe is the record. Cardinals 7, Braves 0.
1973 Big league debut: Dave Parker.
1975 Gary Carter has the first of his eventual 28 multi-home-run games.
1977 Dick Williams and Chuck Tanner manage against each other for the 100th time. They’ll face each other over 200 times in their career, the most by any manager pairing in the last 35 years.
1977 Big league debut for Terry Puhl, one of the best-hitting Canadians in baseball history.
1979 Disco Demolition Night: the White Sox forfeit the second game of a doubleheader against the Tigers when fans riot in between games destruction of music.
1984 Bobby Cox manages his 1,000th game (483-515 record).
1984 Ryne Sandberg hits the only walkoff home run of his career. Cubs 3, Dodgers 2 (10).
1985 The A’s sign free agent Tommy John.
1987 In one game, Cecil Cooper and Ron Cey both play their last game, and Walt Weiss appears in his first big-league contest.
1987 Pat Corrales manages his last game. The Indians will fire him and no one else ever hires him in that capacity.
1988 Terry Steinbach 2, NL All-Stars 1. Steinbach, the starting catcher for the AL in the game and player much maligned before the contest for not deserving the nod, hits a solo homer and an RBI-sacrifice fly to provide the AL with both its runs.
1989 Ron Guidry retires.
1990 Barry Bonds launches his 100th home run.
1990 Melido Perez tosses a shortened game no-hitter, something his brother Pascual did two years earlier. In this one: CWS 8, NYY 0 (6).
1992 Rafael Palmeiro, he of 38 career triples, hits a triple for the second consecutive game.
1996 The Rockies come back from a 9-2 deficit at the seventh inning stretch to defeat the Padres 13-12. Yeah, the game is in Denver.
1996 Kirby Puckett announces his retirement, effective immediately.
1997 Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon combine for a 10-inning no-hitter: PIT 3, HOU 0 (10). Cordova pitches the first nine innings in the Pirates’ first non-Opening Day sellout in 20 years.
1997 Roger Clemens, now a Blue Jay, returns to Fenway Park and fans 16 batters in 3-1 Toronto win.
1997 The Cubs sign amateur free agent Carlos Zambrano.
2000 The Reds trade Denny Neagle to the Yankees in a six-player deal.
2001 Big league debut: Brad Wilkerson.
2003 Albert Pujols hits his first career walkoff home run. STL 9, SDP 7 (11).
2008 Mark Grudzielanek gets his 2,000th hit. Who saw that one coming five or 10 years previously?
2008 Derek Jeter belts his 200th home run.
2008 Bobby Murcer dies.
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.