Thursday, August 11, 2011
Golden anniversary: Warren Spahn wins No. 300Posted by Chris Jaffe
Fifty years ago today, on Aug. 11, 1961, Warren Spahn achieved one of baseball’s great milestones, winning his 300th game.
In doing so, he ended the greatest drought between 300 games winners ever. Before Spahn, you had to go back to Lefty Grove, who did it in 1941—20 years before Spahn. That’s slightly longer than the gap between the 19-year stretch between Early Wynn winning No. 300 and when Gaylord Perry did likewise.
Actually, Spahn and Wynn were in a race to No. 300. At the end of 1959, Wynn was slightly ahead, 271 to 267 wins. They both won 20 games in 1959, but Wynn trailed off while Spahn kept on going. In July, Spahn caught Wynn’s win total, and pulled ahead for good in August.
When Spahn won No. 300, a reporter asked Wynn if he was disappointed in not being the next 300 game winner, Wynn reported he wasn’t because instead he’d be the last 300 game winner. And for 19 years, he was.
In the Aug. 11 game itself, Spahn pitched a gem, throwing a complete game six-hitter, allowing only one run. He needed to pitch a gem, because rival hurler Jack Curtis of the Cubs also pitched a complete game six-hitter, and also allowed one earned run. Fortunately for Spahn, the Cubs also allowed an unearned run, giving the Braves a 2-1 win.
Aside from pitching well, Spahn also drove in the first of Milwaukee’s two runs with a sacrifice fly. The runner who scored? Joe Torre. Yeah, that one. He’s been around a while, hasn’t he?
Plenty of other events also celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (an event occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
3,000 days since Ron Gant plays in his last game.
4,000 days since Tim Hudson almost pitches a no-hitter. Only a fourth-inning single by Frank Thomas prevents that, as the A’s beat the White Sox, 3-0.
7,000 days since baseball owners vote 25-1 to allow Nintendo’s president to purchase the Seattle Mariners.
10,000 days since the Phillies trade Bob Dernier and Gary Matthews to the Cubs. Those men become two-thirds of the Cub outfield when they win the 1984 NL East Division.
15,000 days since the Royals sign amateur free agent Ron Washington.
25,000 days since the Browns trade catcher Rick Ferrell to the Senators for Tony Guiliani and cash. Guiliani refuses to report and will be replaced by Gene Moore in the trade.
30,000 days since Hank Johnson of the Yankees throws a complete game shutout against the A’s, despite their featuring one of the most high profiles lineups of all-time. Their batting order that day includes: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons and Lefty Grove.
1883 Frederick Thayer, the inventor of the catcher’s mask, and George Wright sue Spalding Brothers for copyright infringement for selling masks. They’ll lose their case.
1883 Boston pitcher Jim Whitney triggers a triple play by muffing a pop-up. After he drops it, his catcher Mike Hines grabs it before it touches the ground, and they get the runners going.
1884 Tommy Bond, possibly the best pitcher of the first decade of major league baseball, plays his last game. It’s not a fun swan song, as he allows three inside the park homers, which even back then wasn’t good.
1891 Old Hoss Radbourn, 300 game winner, plays in his last game.
1891 Philadelphia signs Tim Keefe, 300-game winning Hall of Famer.
1894 In baseball game in Hebron, Ky,. pitcher John Tennor struck by lightning while trying to catch a ball, killing him.
1897 Hall of Fame manager Ned Hanlon manages his 1,000th game. His record: 542-439.
1900 In the first two innings of a game against the Reds, the Giants belt four singles, a double, and a triple—yet come away with only one run. That’s enough, as they win, 1-0.
1904 Kid Nichols fans 15 Dodgers in a 17-inning performance in a 4-3 win.
1907 Bobo Newsom, well-traveled AL workhorse, born.
1907 Ed Karger tosses a seven-inning perfect game, as his Cardinals beat the Braves.
1908 One year after Karger’s abbreviated perfecto, the Braves get some measure of revenge, as their Tom Turkey tosses a shutout against St. Louis in his major league debut.
1912 Joe Jackson, then of the Indians, steals home twice in one game versus the Yankees.
1912 Hall of Fame and “Clean Sox” catcher Ray Schalk makes his major league debut.
1913 Detroit purchases future “Black Sox” pitcher Lefty Williams from Nashville in the Southern Association for $3,500.
1920 Hall of Fame pitcher Jesse Haines has possibly his best day at the plate: 4-for-5 with a double, a homer, a walk, three runs and one RBI. His Cardinals obliterate the Phillies, 18-9.
1923 Baseball icons John McGraw and Branch Rickey manage their 100th game against each other.
1923 Babe Ruth hits his second of 10 career inside the park home runs. It’s one of two inside the park home runs hit that day by New York against Detroit workhorse Hooks Dauss.
1923 Gabby Hartnett hits his second career walk-off home run on only his seventh overall homer. In his remaining 229 home runs, only one will be a walk-off.
1923 Firpo Marberry, the first notable bullpen fireman, makes his big league debut.
1926 Babe Ruth collects two sacrifice hits in one game. He’ll do it two more times in his career. It was a very different game.
1926 Brooklyn’s Babe Herman ties a record with his ninth straight hit in a game against the Pirates. In that same game, longtime Pittsburgh pitcher Babe Adams last appears in a major league game.
1928 Meal Ticket Carl Hubbell wins his first major league game.
1929 Babe Ruth creates the 500 home run club with a long ball off Cleveland’s Willis Hudlin.
1935 Boston’s Wally Berger bashes a home run, triple and two doubles—but never gets a single and thus misses the cycle.
1936 Birth of Bill Monbouquette, Red Sox pitcher.
1937 Joe Cronin fans four times in one game for the only time. He’s 1-for-7 in 14-inning loss.
1938 Bobo Newsom celebrates his 31st birthday by completing his 16th consecutive start, the longest such streak the workhorse ever has. His line in that time: 10-6 record, 142 IP, 117 H, 65 R, 58 ER, 69 BB, 101 K, and a 3.68 ERA.
1938 Birth of Cincinnati outfielder Vada Pinson.
1940 A minor league pitcher playing the outfield injures his left shoulder while making a catch. This ruins his pitching career, forcing him to transition to position player full-time. That pitcher’s name? Stan Musial.
1942 One of the greatest pitching duels of the era takes place, as Detroit’s Tommy Bridges and Cleveland’s Al Milnar square off for 14 innings in 0-0 tie. Both men go the distance, as Milnar allows only two hits—but fans no one. His Game Score is 111 while Bridges settles for a Game Score of “only” 97.
1946 Musial goes 8-for-9 in a doubleheader for the Cardinals. In one of those games, teammate Enos Slaughter scores five times for the only time in his Cooperstown career.
1947 Just like Wally Berger exactly a dozen years earlier, Grady Hatton misses the cycle by a single—but hits two doubles.
1947 Minor leaguer Harvey Haddix fans 14 while pitching a seven-inning no-hitter for Winston Salem.
1947 Harry Davis, first baseman on the early Philadelphia A’s teams, dies.
1949 Luke Easter makes his big league debut.
1950 Casey Stengel benches Joe DiMaggio, who is stuck in a 4-for-38 slump. This is DiMaggio’s first benching.
1950 Vern Bickford of Boston tosses a no-hitter against a Dodgers lineup so loaded with talent that this is the fifth most impressive no-hitter of all-time.
1951 The Brooklyn Dodgers take a 13.5 game lead over their rivals, the New York Giants. The pennant race appears over.
1952 Mickey Mantle hits two homers in one game. It’s the first of 46 multi-homer games for him.
1955 Ted Williams belts his 2,000th hit.
1956 After pitching 39.2 innings without allowing a run, Don Newcombe surrenders a two-run homer to Philadelphia’s Stan Lopata.
1957 A loss puts the Philadelphia Phillies' all-time record 1,000 games under .500 (4,951-5,951). They’ve been under it ever since. Prior to yesterday’s action, they are 4,260-4,321 since then.
1959 Al Kaline gets his 1,000th hit.
1959 Minor leaguer Gil Carter hits a home run estimated at 650 feet. Who estimated it? How as it estimated? I have no idea.
1959 Joe Nuxhall fans four batters in one inning.
1960 Baseball patriarch Ray Boone plays his last game.
1961 Minor league team in Vancouver pulls off two triple steals in one game, and nine bases overall on the day.
1962 Billy Pierce, now a Giant, wins his 200th game, defeating the rival Dodgers and their ace Don Drysdale in the midst of a tough pennant race. Prior to the game, the Dodger protest that the hometown Giants had wet down the infield deliberately to stop LA’s base stealer Maury Wills. San Francisco manager Alvin Dark wins the nickname “Swamp Fox” for this.
1963 Paul Alspach, minor league pitcher for the Batavia Pirates, fans 24 batters in a 1-0 win.
1965 A’s rookie Catfish Hunter allows the second and final grand slam in his career. He’ll pitch 3,386 more innings and surrender 362 more homers, but no more slams.
1966 Randy Hundley becomes the second Cub in less than four weeks to hit for the cycle. Billy Williams did it a little earlier.
1966 Willie Stargell belts the first of six career walk-off home runs.
1967 Atlanta defeats Houston 6-5 in 16 innings thanks to a Joe Torre home run in the final frame. Both teams previously scored a run in the 14th inning to keep the game going.
1967 It’s an embarrassing moment on the bases for Baltimore when teammates Russ Snyder and Frank Robinson run past each other. Robinson thought he had a sure double and Snyder wrongly believed the ball was caught. Robinson is out.
1968 Billy Williams hits one of his most memorable homers: a 15th inning, three-run inside the park home run. It’s the latest he ever homers in a game, and his first inside the park homer in five years.
1969 Don Drysdale, the last remaining Brooklyn Dodger, announces his retirement.
1970 Jim Bunning becomes the first pitcher since Cy Young to record 100 wins in each league.
1970 Catcher Johnny Roseboro plays in his final game.
1972 Pitcher Milt Pappas has maybe his best game at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double, homer and a walk. He scores once and drives in five runs.
1973 Birth of second baseman Edgar Alfonzo.
1974 Steve Carlton loses his 100th game. (131-100).
1977 Jim Kaat enjoys his only 3-for-3 game at the plate. As a bonus, two of hits are doubles.
1980 Reggie Jackson blasts his 400th home run.
1981 Base stealing expert Tim Raines is caught stealing twice in one game, the first of only two times this happens to him.
1982 Jack Morris records his longest outing, lasting 11 innings. He gets a no-decision but the Tigers win 3-2 in 12 frames.
1982 Nolan Ryan tosses his eighth career one-hitter, leading Houston to a 3-0 win over San Diego.
1982 Minnesota’s Terry Felton makes a bit of unwanted history. He loses today, putting his all-time record at 0-14. It’s the worst start to a career ever. He’ll end his playing days 0-16.
1984 Birth of Melky Cabrera.
1984 Cincinnati retires Johnny Bench’s number.
1985 Pete Rose lashes five hits in one game for the 10th and final time in his career.
1986 Barry Bonds is so good he can drive in the winning run of a game that began before he was a major leaguer. The Cubs and Pirates complete an extra-inning game begun on April 20 that had been suspended in light-less Wrigley Field with the score tied. Bonds brings home the winning run against the 10th Cub pitcher of the game.
1986 Birth of San Francisco star Pablo Sandoval.
1988 Mark McGwire belts the first of his 14 grand slams.
1988 Gary Carter hits his 300th home run.
1989 Andy Benes makes his big league debut.
1989 Ryne Sandberg homers in his fifth straight game.
1991 Recent call-up Wilson Alvarez pitches a no-hitter for the White Sox against the Orioles. Center fielder Lance Johnson saves it with an absolutely amazing catch in the eighth inning. This is Alvarez’s first start with the White Sox and second major league start overall.
1994 On the last day of baseball before the strike, Bob Welch, Kevin McReynolds and Storm Davis play their last games. After the Mariners beat the A’s 8-1 at 1 a.m. EST, the strike is on.
1995 Kirk Gibson and Steve Bedrosian announce their retirements.
1995 Orel Hershiser surrenders his first grand slam in nearly eight years.
2000 Gary Sheffield has perhaps the worst game of his career, 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. It’s the only time he fans four times in one game.
2001 Minnesota defensive whiz Doug Mientkiewicz has an odd inning at first base. He makes three putouts without touching the bag in the second inning.
2003 Kerry Wood fans his 1,000th batter in fewer innings than any previous pitcher in baseball history. His pace has since slacked off.
2003 J. J. Putz makes his big league debut.
2003 Roberto Alomar has his worst game, according to WPA. He’s 0-for-6 with a double play and two Ks for a –0.412 WPA.
2005 The Angels lose in bizarre fashion. It’s 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth against the A’s and a runner on third when the catcher tosses the ball back to reliever Francisco Rodriguez. The ball glances off Rodriguez’s glove and he watches it roll away, apparently forgetting there’s a runner on third. Yep, that guy scores the winning run.
2005 One of the ghastliest injuries in recent baseball history occurs when Mets outfielders Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron collide face-first while they’re both diving to make a catch. Cameron breaks his nose and cheekbones and Beltran suffers a concussion and broken cheekbone.
2006 Andy Pettitte belts his only home run. It’s off Chan Ho Park.
2006 Grady Sizemore of the Indians hits a bases-loaded walk-off triple. It’s the first one in nearly 20 years in baseball. Cleveland beats the Royals, 4-3.
2008 Carlos Quentin of the White Sox becomes the first player to get hit by a pitcher in five consecutive games.
2008 The Reds trade Adam Dunn to Arizona in a five-player deal.
2009 San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez collects six hits in one game.
2010 Authorities arrest Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez at CitiField Park for allegedly assaulting his father-in-law.
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.