Friday, December 16, 2011
25,000 days of St. Louis over .500Posted by Chris Jaffe
On July 6, 1943, 25,000 days ago, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Phillies 4-0 for the second victory in what turned out to be a six-game winning streak for the Cardinals.
In and of itself, the game was nothing important. The big series for St. Louis came just before this, when the Cards swept Brooklyn in an Independence Day weekend series for first place. St. Louis and Brooklyn entered tied atop the NL, but St. Louis finished the showdown with a three-game lead.
The win on July 6 was nice and helped St. Louis extend its lead to three games; the Cardinals would keep it for the rest of the season en route to their third consecutive NL pennant.
Though the win from 25,000 days ago wasn’t terribly important in the context of the season, it was a big marker in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals franchise. That win gave St. Louis an all-time cumulative franchise record of 4,433 wins versus 4,432 losses. For the first time in a long time, the all-time club record was over .500.
The club hadn’t been on the right side of .500 for a generation. On July 30, 1911 the Cardinals' record fell to .500, and had stayed under ever since. The negative records of the 1910s and early 1920s Cardinals teams had not yet been erased by the post-Branch Rickey farm system clubs—not until July 6, 1943.
Since then, the Cardinals have never been under .500. They won their next four games to move five games over, then lost four straight. On July 18, St. Louis played a doubleheader in Pittsburgh facing the possibility of falling back under .500. Instead, the Cardinals swept the day, 7-4 and 6-5, and that began a 12-game winning streak. St. Louis has never been in danger of being under .500 since.
In all, beginning with that win on July 6, 1943, the Cardinals' overall record is 5,763-5,058. That’s equal to going 86-76 over a full season. At this point, they’d need 19 consecutive 100-loss seasons to fall back under .500. That ain’t too likely, to put it mildly. Heck, they’ve had only three 90-loss seasons since 1943, maxing at 93 losses in 1978.
I should note that all franchise records here include the club’s time in the 19th century American Association. Oftentimes NL teams that began in the American Association (and that includes the Reds, Dodgers and Pirates) don’t acknowledge their time in the AA, but they should. It was a major league back in the 1880s and that’s how the current St. Louis Cardinals got their start.
Regardless, the Cardinals finally broke the .500 barrier 25,000 days ago—and have been over it ever since.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you prefer to just skim the list.
2,000 days since Joe Mikulik, manager for the minor league Asheville Tourists, attracts national attention by throwing a massive on-field temper tantrum, one that earns him a seven-game suspension. He screams at the home plate umpire, throws a base, covers home plate in dirt, throws bats from the dugout, and so on.
2,000 days since the Tampa Bay Rays used a starting pitcher who is older than 30 years of age (Mark Hendrickson, who is 32). Two thousand days later, and they haven’t done it since. They’ve had just one start from a 30-year-old pitcher, on May 24, 2007, and that’s it.
3,000 days since Jay Bell plays his last game.
6,000 days since Greg Maddux issues a walk, ending a streak of 51 innings without giving out a free pass. The man getting the base on balls is Joey Hamilton, the opposing pitcher.
7,000 days since the groundbreaking for Coors Field in Denver.
9,000 days since Rick "Big Daddy" Reuschel, highly underrated starting pitcher, allows his first grand slam in 12 years. Lance Parrish hits it. This is the third slam Reuschel ever allowed – and the first one not belted by Mike Jorgensen.
9,000 days since Jim Rice experiences his worst game according to WPA. He goes 0-for-6 with a GIDP in a 5-3 13-inning Red Sox loss to the Rangers for a –0.485 WPA.
25,000 days since the Giants purchase Joe Medwick from the Dodgers.
1889 The Players League is formally organized by John Montgomery Ward.
1923 The Eastern Colored League is formed.
1926 Baseball owners give Judge Landis a new seven-year term as commissioner at $65,000 a year.
1941 Outfielder Adolfo Phillips is born.
1951 Mike Flanagan, Orioles pitcher turned executive, is born.
1953 The Yankees trade Vic Power to the A’s in an 11-player deal.
1957 The Pirates acquire Harvey Haddix in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.
1964 Billy Ripken, brother of a Hall of Famer and star of one of the most memorable baseball cards of all-time, is born.
1968 Houston trades young catcher Buck Martinez to the Royals.
1974 Arbitrator Peter Seitz rules Catfish Hunter a free agent due to contract violations by A’s owner Charles Finley.
1976 The Reds trade star first baseman Tony Perez to the Expos.
1976 A’s owner Charles Finley initiates a $10 million suit against baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
1980 The Mets sign free agent Rusty Staub. He’ll end his career with the Mets.
1982 The Reds trade Tom Seaver back to the Mets for three players, the most notable of whom is future Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon.
1983 The Yankees fire manager Billy Martin for the third time.
1991 Florida signs itsr first player, 16-year-old amateur free agent Clemente Nunez.
1991 Texas signs free agent Dickie Thon.
1992 The Giants name a new manager: Dusty Baker.
1992 Florida signs free agent catcher Benito Santiago.
1997 The Twins sign free agent Mike Morgan.
1998 Arizona signs Erubiel Durazo from Monterrey of the Mexican League.
1998 The Mets sign free agent future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.
1999 The Indians sign a free agent starting pitcher Chuck Finley.
1999 The Brewers sign free agent Jose Hernandez.
2000 Boston signs free agent Hideo Nomo, who will throw a no-hitter for the Red Sox.
2001 Colorado trades third baseman Jeff Cirillo to the Mariners.
2001 San Francisco trades starting pitcher Shawn Estes to the Mets for two players.
2002 The Minnesota Twins make one of their worst moves in franchise history, releasing first baseman David Ortiz.
2002 San Diego claims Shane Victorino from LA in the Rule 5 draft. That same day, the Padres sign free agent Mark Loretta.
2003 Colorado sends Mark Bellhorn to Boston as part of a conditional deal.
2003 Florida trades Mark Redman to the A’s.
2003 Houston signs free agent starting pitcher Andy Pettitte.
2003 The Yankee sign free agent reliever Tom Gordon.
2003 Seattle signs free agent reliever Everyday Eddie Guardado.
2004 The Royals trade aging catcher Benito Santiago to the Pirates.
2004 San Francisco releases catcher A.J. Pierzynski, declaring him to be a team cancer. He’ll land with the White Sox and become a franchise pillar.
2005 The Royals up their letters-per-name considerably when they land free agents Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz.
2006 Cecil Travis, a man whose promising baseball career was derailed by World War II, dies.
2009 The Phillies trade Cliff Lee to the Mariners for prospects.
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.