Monday, August 12, 2013
75th anniversary: Connie Mack’s 3,000th winPosted by Chris Jaffe
75 years ago today, longtime A’s manager Connie Mack achieved a milestone that no one had ever achieved before, no one has achieved since—and no one is likely to do in the foreseeable future.
On Aug. 12, 1938, Connie Mack notched his 3,000th win as a manager with a 5-4 win over the Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader.
Yeah, 3,000 is kind of a lot. That is equal to 30 seasons of 100 wins—except only two other managers in baseball history have managed 30 seasons worth of games, and then only barely. Tony LaRussa managed 5,097 games, which works out to 31.5 seasons in a 162-game schedule. John McGraw led 4,769 games, which in the 154-game season of his era is equal to a hair under 31 seasons.
Mack, of course, managed quite a bit more than 30 seasons worth of games. In fact, despite having that many wins, he was just a bit over .500 at that point, with a record of 3,000-2,871 (and it became 3,000-2,872 when he lost the nightcap to the Yankees 75 years ago today).
Famously, Mack lasted forever because he bought his way into ownership of the A’s. He didn’t fire himself from the job, and so hung around until 1950, by which time he’d run the team for exactly 50 seasons. By that time, his record was fully under .500: 3,731 wins versus 3,948 losses. That means that over the last dozen years of his career, Connie Mack went 731-1,077, a rather gruesome final stretch.
That said, Mack’s career mass wasn’t just a product of how long he lasted but how early he began. Back in the early days, baseball was a young man’s game. Not only were the players young, but so were the skippers and even, sometimes, the owners. Mack started out as a player-manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was just 31 years old when he wrote out his first of 7,755 lineup cards. To be exact, Mack was 31 years, eight months, and 12 days old.
Let’s put that in perspective. 31 years, eight months and 12 days did we say? Well, as of Aug. 12, 2013, that’s almost exactly as old as Francisco Rodriguez and Dontrelle Willis are. Leaving baseball behind, NBA flame-out Gilbert Arenas is a tad younger than Mack was in his first game, and Hollywood actress Sienna Miller is a tad older.
So the early start helped. Without it, he couldn’t have lasted over a half-century. Let’s see, 75 years ago today, Mack was 75 years, seven months, and 22 days old. That’s about a month older than Curt Flood would be if he hadn’t passed away years ago. It’s almost exactly as old as former Marlins owner Wayne Huzienga is now. Huzienga sold his team in a hissy fit when taxpayers wouldn’t give him the stadium deal he wanted about 15 years ago—but he’s just now as old as Connie Mack was when Mack won No. 3,000. (And Mack still had 12 years more to motor).
Just to finish up this theme, when Mack managed his last game, he was 87 years, nine months, and nine days old. Well, a person born on Nov. 3, 1925 would be that old now.
You know who nearly fits that? Robert F. Kennedy. He was born Nov. 20, 1925. So Mack was 17 days older in his last game than RFK would be today.
Gene Mauch is also close. He was born Nov. 18, 1925. Mauch himself is a longtime manager who still ranks eighth on the all-time games managed list. But he left the dugout over a quarter-century ago. Others who would be close in age today as Connie Mack was when he managed his last game: Johnny Carson, Jonathan Winters, Rock Hudson and Angela Lansbury.
No wonder he’s No. 1 in wins—and he had a milestone win 75 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since the Marlins trade Dan Uggla to Atlanta.
3,000 days since former shortstop Chico Carrasquel dies at age 77 in Caracas, Venezuela.
4,000 days since a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified just hours before a possible labor strike is set to begin.
7,000 days since Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg retires.
7,000 days since Jose Canseco hits three home runs in one game.
9,000 days since Houston cuts aging former All-Star Buddy Bell.
9,000 days since St. Louis cuts slugger Bob Horner, ending his career.
9,000 days since former third baseman Willie Kamm dies.
10,000 days since the lords of baseball change the rules regarded using the designated hitter in the World Series. It used to be even years would have it, odd years wouldn’t. Now it’ll be based on the park the game is played in.
15,000 days since Dave Goltz makes his big league debut.
15,000 days since Padres pitcher Steve Arlin loses a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth, and in horrible fashion. A blooper goes over the head of the third baseman—and manager Don Zimmer had just pulled the third baseman in. All these years later, San Diego still lacks a no-hitter.
20,000 days since Teddy Higuera is born.
30,000 days since St. Louis Cardinal George Watkins hits three home runs in one game.
1880 The Cubs lose their first home game of the year after winning their first 21 decisions in Chicago.
1880 Hall of Famer pitcher Christy Mathewson is born.
1890 Farmer Weaver hits for the cycle as part of a six-hit game for him.
1892 Hall of Fame catcher Ray Schalk is born.
1896 Nap Lajoie makes his big league debut.
1899 Eclipse Park in Louisville burns down. It was a major league town back then (but wouldn't be after the 1899 season).
1902 Giants owner Andrew Freedman announces that Reds owner John Brush is taking over the New York ball club.
1903 Giants batter Sam Mertes walks five times in a 14-4 win over St. Louis.
1912 Harlond Clift, star Browns third baseman, is born.
1912 On this day, Ty Cobb supposedly killed a man who attacked him. That was the story Al Stump told the world in his biography of Cobb, though research since then refutes the claim. While a group of men did accost Cobb, they left and he didn’t chase any of them down, let alone kill someone.
1916 The Sporting News announces that Cubs owner Charles Weegham will allow fans to keep balls hit into the stands.
1919 Pitcher and manager Fred Hutchinson is born.
1922 John McGraw becomes the first manager to win 2,000 games. His record is 2,000-1,358.
1925 200-game winner Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons makes his big league debut.
1928 Bob Buhl, pitcher, is born.
1929 Reading Keystones outfielder George Quillich gets a hit in his 15th straight at-bat, an all-time organized baseball record.
1930 Hall of Famer Earle Combs gets his 100th career triple.
1931 Tony Lazzeri endures maybe his worst game ever at the plate, going 0-for-6 with four whiffs. His Yankees teammates manage to win anyway, 18-1 over Cleveland.
1934 Babe Ruth, in his last game at Fenway Park, gets his 500th career double. He leaves the game in the sixth inning, tipping his cap to the fans as he goes.
1934 The Dean brothers rebel. After they lose both ends of a doubleheader, they refuse to travel to Detroit for an exhibition game. Dizzy Dean destroys his uniform. He’ll be suspended for 10 games for this rebellion (though it’ll be reduced to seven games).
1934 George Selkirk makes his big league debut.
1936 200-game winner Earl Whitehill has the worst start of his career. He allows nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits an seven walks while fanning none in 4.1 innings. That works out to a Game Score of 2.
1938 Al Simmons hits his 500th career double.
1938 Washington releases veteran Wes Ferrell.
1940 Ernest Lawrence Thayer, author of Casey at the Bat, dies at age 77.
1941 For Cedar Rapids in the Three-I League, Allie Reynolds fans 17 batters.
1943 Joe Cronin belts his fifth pinch-hit homer of the year. He has zero pinch-hit homers outside of this season.
1945 Jim Tobin becomes one of the few pitchers ever to hit a walk-off home run.
1946 With a 4-for-4 performance today, Stan Musial is now 12-for-13 over his last three games.
1948 The Indians set a franchise record with 26 hits in a 26-3 thrashing of the Browns.
1952 Baseball reliever Stu Miller makes his big league debut.
1952 A Texas League game between Ft. Worth and Beaumont is stopped for several minutes by seagulls landing on the field.
1953 Whitey Ford goes 4-for-5 for the second time in less than two weeks. These are the only two times he ever does it in his career.
1956 The White Sox's all-time cumulative franchise record reaches .500 (4,210-4,210) and has been over it ever since.
1961 Harry Colliflower, horribly named pitcher from the 20-134 1899 Cleveland Spiders, dies. Only one teammate is left alive: Sport McAllister.
1961 Former Red Sox pitcher Chuck Stobbs appears in his last game.
1963 Stan Musial announces that he’ll retire at the end of the season.
1963 Giants batter Jim Ray Hart is back in action for the first time since Bob Gibson beaned him. It’s a hell of a return—pitcher Curt Simmons beans him.
1964 Mel Stottlemyre makes his big league debut on the mound.
1966 The Reds' Art Shamsky has one of the greatest games of all time. In fact, according to WPA, it’s the greatest one-game performance any batter has ever had. He enters the game against the Pirates midway through and hits a home run to send the game into extra innings. Shamsky then homers twice in extra innings to tie the game. His team loses anyway, 14-11. He’s 3-for-3 with five RBIs, three homers, and a 1.503 WPA. The game features 11 homers in all.
1966 The Angels purchase Mexican League infielder Aurelio Rodriguez.
1966 The Giants top Houston, 1-0, on a walk-off home run by Willie Mays against Mike Cuellar.
1966 Walter Alston manages his 2,000th game. The longtime Dodger skipper has a record of 1,138-858, with a smattering of ties.
1969 Yankee player Joe Pepitone goes AWOL, citing personal problems.
1970 Bob Gibson has his longest career start: 14 innings. He allows four runs (all earned) on 13 hits and two walks while fanning 13 in the complete-game win. The entire game takes three hours and 16 minutes.
1970 Houston releases relief pitcher Jim Bouton, whose book Ball Four came out earlier this season.
1970 Judge Irving Ben Cooper rules against Curt Flood in his suit against Bowie Kuhn.
1970 Charlie Hough makes his big league debut pitching with the Dodgers.
1974 For the second of three times on the year, Nolan Ryan fans 19 in a game. Unlikethe other two, this time he does it in nine innings.
1974 Frank Robinson, now on the Angels, walks four times, the only time he ever does it in any game.
1974 Matt Clement, pitcher, is born.
1974 Ted Sizemore becomes the first St. Louis Cardinals batter in 23 years to draw five walks in a game. (And just 32 days later, teammate Reggie Smith will do it as well).
1977 The all-time cumulative record for the Senators/Twins franchise reaches 474 games under .500, which is as close as they’ve ever been to .500 since coming to Minnesota.
1978 Tony Perez has his first sacrifice bunt since 1969. He’ll never have another one.
1979 The Mets trade Willie Montanez to Texas for Mike Jorgensen and Ed Lynch.
1981 Dick Williams manages his 2,000 career game. His record: 1,063-937.
1981 Fergie Jenkins suffers his 200th loss for a 263-200 career record. He’ll be 21-26 over the rest of his career.
1984 It’s one of the ugliest games ever as the Braves and Padres get in the mother of all beanball wars. Ejections reach double digits, and there are so many brawls that the game ends with cops standing atop both dugouts.
1986 The White Sox sign free agent Steve Carlton.
1987 It's an all-time great win-now vs win-later trade: Detroit sends prospect pitcher John Smoltz to Atlanta for veteran hurler Doyle Alexander. Over the last two months of 1987 Alexander is the best pitcher in baseball, while Smoltz becomes a star pitcher for years in Atlanta.
1988 Boston wins its 23rd straight home game.
1990 Alan Trammell has four extra-base hits in one game, three doubles and a homer, for one of the best games of his life.
1991 Barry Bonds belts the second of 10 walk-off home runs. It’s his best WPA homer (0.805) and his best overall one-game WPA total: 1.119. He’s 2-for-4 with two homers, a walk, and a stolen base. He drives in all four Pirates runs in their 4-3 win over the Braves.
1993 Tim Raines gets his 2,000th career hit.
1995 LA tops Pittsburgh, 11-10 in 11 innings, the game ending in a bizarre way. The Pittsburgh catcher goes to pick up a ball rolling away from the plate with his mask, and that’s a no-no. In fact, it allows baserunners to automatically advance, and that allows LA to win with a one-of-a-kind walk-off win.
1995 Johnny Damon makes his big league debut.
1996 Oakland’s Geronimo Berroa hits three homers in one game. It’s the second time this season he’s done that.
1997 Florida trades Rick Helling to Texas.
1998 Alex Rodriguez gets his 100th home run.
1998 The Yankees top the Twins, 11-2, which pushes Joe Torre's career record over .500 (1,169-1,168). It’s been over .500 ever since.
1999 The Brewers fire longtime manager Phil Garner.
2001 Greg Maddux allows a walk after 72.1 innings without one. It’s an intentional walk to Arizona’s Steve Finley.
2001 The Yankees' all-time cumulative franchise record hits 2,000 games over .500 (8,758-6,758). They’ve been more than 2,000 games over ever since.
2001 Jason Giambi joins the 1,000-hit club with his first career walk-off home run. It’s the only one he ever hits for the A’s and gives them a 4-2 win over the Yankees.
2002 Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter dies.
2003 Atlanta unveils a statue of Warren Spahn outside of Turner Field.
2003 Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick resigns as Mariners GM.
2006 The longest hitting streak of Manny Ramirez’s career peaks at 27 games.
2007 Curt Schilling has his longest outing without a strikeout: six innings.
2007 Tigers slugger Magglio Ordonez homers twice in one inning.
2008 Cleveland trades Paul Byrd to the Red Sox.
2008 Boston defeats Texas in a massive slugfest, 19-17. Texas pitcher Scott Feldman becomes the first pitcher in 90 years and nine days to allow 12 runs and not get stuck with the loss.
2009 Some jerk at Wrigley Field throws his drink on Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino. The game is also Pedro Martinez’s debut with the Phillies, and he leads them to a 12-5 Phillies victory.
2010 The Dodgers blow a seven-run lead in the eighth inning, losing 10-9 to the Phillies.
2010 Team owners unanimously approve the sale of the Rangers to the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group.
2011 Carlos Zambrano has one final meltdown in Chicago. After allowing five homers in 4.1 frames, he’s ejected for throwing at the head of Atlanta star Chipper Jones. Zambrano then cleans out his locker, claiming he's retiring.
2011 Former Braves announcer Ernie Johnson dies at age 87.
2012 Arizona signs Brett Tomko as a free agent.
2012 White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski scores from first on a routine grounder to short. He advances to second on the rolling ball, and then makes it to third because the catcher is slow to cover that base, and then goes home because no one is covering home (it’s the pitcher’s responsibility).
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.