Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Silver anniversary: Bo Jackson hits moonshot for his first big league homerPosted by Chris Jaffe
25 years ago today was one of the great moments in the history of the 1980s sports phenomenon Bo Jackson.
On Sept. 14, 1986, he hit his first homer. Saying “hit” is something of an understatement. He crushed it. Destroyed it. Damn near launched it. The ball went 475 feet, which was believed to be a new record for Kaufmann Stadium (home field for KC Royal Bo Jackson).
That’s fitting. Jackson didn’t have the greatest baseball career, but damn man he had the greatest timing. He had that knack for always doing the special moment at the right time. Of course his first homer was the longest in the stadium’s history. What else would you expect from Bo Jackson?
For example, there’s the most famous moment of his baseball career: the 1989 All-Star Game. In his only appearance in the mid-summer exhibition, Jackson led off for the AL—and promptly knocked a Rick Reuschel pitch over the centerfield wall. Well over the centerfield wall. Miles over it. That was one of the greatest homers in All-Star Game history, and it happened before anyone had a chance for the attention to drift off.
That was Bo Jackson for you. He once hit four homers in a row, tying a big league record. But, since he’s Bo Jackson, he couldn’t merely tie the record. He had to do it in a special way. Sure enough his four straight homers were unusual. It was interrupted by a stint on the DL. He hit some homers, got injured, and came back hitting another homer. Don’t see that happen too often.
Even later in his baseball career, after suffering the injury that ended his days in the NFL and hurt him in baseball, Jackson retained his flair for the dramatic. When the White Sox won the 1993 division title, the title-clinching game was won on a Bo Jackson RBI. Naturally.
The only surprise is that Bo Jackson waited until Sept. 14, 1986 to belt his first homer. You’d expect a guy like him to do in his first at bat. In fact, he nearly did. He pulled a ball well into the stands—but about 10 feet on the wrong side of the foul line.
And I can’t bring up Bo Jackson and his flair for the dramatic without mention his greatest moment. Even though this is a baseball website you need to mention his Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks.
On Nov. 30, 1987, in just his fifth ever NFL game, Bo Jackson rushed for 221 yards and three TDs against the Seahawks, in a performance that was far more dominating than the numbers indicate. He had not one but two iconic touchdowns in that game: the time he carried overrated defensive man Brian Bosworth over the goal line, and that 91 yard run (291 yards if you include the time spend in the tunnel). He set career bests in yards, longest run, and TDs that night. Of course he did—it was in primetime.
Man, that Bo Jackson sure had a great sense of timing.
Aside from his first home run, many other events celebrate anniversaries or “day-versaries (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.
4,000 days since the Expos end their 2000 season with a whimper. They lose 3-2 to the Mets in 13 innings on a walk-off error. Not the way to go into the off-season.
4,000 days since the last game for all of the following players: Albert Belle, Mickey Morandini, Ozzie Guillen, Walt Weiss, and Will Clark. Oh, it’s also the last time Jim Fregosi manages a game.
4,000 days since the all-time cumulative franchise record for the Twins (formerly the Senators) bottoms out at 739 games under .500 (7,344-8,083).
6,000 days since the Mets sign free agent Brett Butler.
9,000 days since Bill Madlock joins the 2,000 hit club.
9,000 days since the Angels release Doug DeCinces.
9,000 days since the Braves release what’s left of Phil Niekro.
15,000 days since LA signs amateur free agent Jerry Royster.
25,000 days since the birth of Mike Epstein, slugging first baseman on the Mustache Gang nicknamed “Super Jew.”
30,000 days since Bill Dickey has the first of 15 career multi-home run games.
1869 Kid Nichols, Hall of Fame 300-game winner, is born.
1897 Jimmy Samuel Tilden Sheckard plays his first big league game.
1898 Topsy Hartsel, one of the best lead-off hitters ever, makes his major league debut.
1903 Red Ames makes his big league debut a memorable one, tossing a no-hitter in a five-inning shortened game.
1905 Middle infield mates Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers get in a fistfight at second base in an exhibition game in Indian.
1907 The Cubs and Reds combine for 29 hits—all singles. The Cubs win, 12-5 behind their 19 singles.
1907 Sam Lanford makes his big league debut for the Senators, and it’s one of the worst debuts ever. He walks two, hits two, tosses a wild pitch, and balks – and that’s all in the first inning. And that doesn’t even cover the passed ball and two errors.
1908 Former big league outfielder Ike Van Zandt commits suicide by shooting himself at age 31.
1909 The NL announces they’ll use two umpires per game in 1910.
1912 Hall of Famer batter turned 60-year-old president of the Connecticut League Jim O’Rourke takes the mound and tosses a complete game for New Haven.
1913 Despite allowing 14 hits to the Giants, Cub starter Larry Cheney tosses a shutout.
1921 Herb Pennock enjoys his best Game Score in a nine-inning game (at least from 1919-onward) when he posts the following line: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K for a Game Score of 87.
1921 Walter Johnson faces the minimum 27 batters in a complete game no-hitter despite allowing three hits and getting no double plays turned behind him. He picks off one guy and had a triple play behind him. Hey—I said no double plays, not anything about triple plays.
1923 George Burns of the Red Sox pulls off an unassisted triple play versus Cleveland.
1927 Max Carey hits an inside the park grand slam. It’s his 27th and final career inside the park home run.
1930 Hank Greenberg makes his big league debut.
1933 En route to a 7-27 final record, Reds starter Paul Derringer loses his eighth straight loss. He pitches alright on the season, but has some of the worst run support by anyone ever. His ERA+ is above average, but he’ll still have more losses in one season than any pitcher in the last 100 years.
1934 St. Louis Browns workhorse Bobo Newsom starts both ends of a doubleheader against the A’s. In the first game, the team yanks him after he walks the first four batters. After getting the loss there, he comes back for the second game and—apparently recovered from his early loss of control—strikes out the first four batters in this game en route to the win.
1936 Stan Williams, pitcher with a reputation for headhunting, is born.
1938 Hall of Fame outfielder Kiki Cuyler plays in his final game.
1938 Mort Cooper, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1939 Legendary umpire Bill Klem works his 3,500th game behind the plate. Cincinnati 9, New York 3.
1940 Hank Greenberg homers for the fifth straight game.
1941 Ted Williams sets a personal record by drawing a walk in the 19th consecutive game. He has 36 walks in these games.
1944 The Army Air Corps discharges Joe DiMaggio.
1945 A train carrying the Brooklyn Dodgers wrecks at midnight on Sept. 14-15. The team is OK, but the train engineer dies.
1946 Hank Greenberg sets a personal best with seven RBIs, in a 3-for-4 game with a double and two homers. The Tigers top the Yankees 7-4, so Greenberg drove in all their runs single-handed. Not bad.
1947 Rick Ferrell, terrible Hall of Fame pick by the Veterans Committee, plays in his final big league game.
1952 Charlie Keller, a monster of a hitter before derailed by back problems, plays in his last game.
1953 In back-to-back innings, Whitey Ford walks in a run. Both men receiving the RBI BB are Hall of Famers: Early Wynn, and Larry Doby. Yes, Ford walked the opposing pitcher with the bases loaded.
1954 Frank Lary, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1954 Paul Richards becomes the new manager of the Baltimore Orioles, effective next year.
1956 Yogi Berra hits his 237th home run as a catcher, passing Gabby Hartnett’s old high for the position. Berra will be the positional leader until Carlton Fisk tops him.
1957 Ernie Banks belts three home runs in a game for the second time.
1957 Hall of Famer George Kell plays in his last big league contest.
1947 Tim Wallach, All-Star third baseman, is born.
1957 Vic Wertz ties a big league record by tallying seven RBIs in two innings.
1958 Former Negro League pitcher Connie Johnson last pitches in the major leagues.
1958 On the Yankees train ride after clinching the pennant, an incident occurs between coach Ralph Houk and reliever Ryne Duren. First Duren mashes a cigar in the face of Houk and then Houk hits Duren with a backhanded blow.
1959 Murry Dickson, maybe the game’s greatest swingman reliever/starter, plays in his final big league game.
1961 Ken Boyer has what WPA considers the best game ever by a St. Louis hitter. Boyer goes 5-for-6 with a double, triple, and home run in a 6-5 11-inning St. Louis victory over the Cubs. He scores once and drives home three for a 1.137 WPA. It’s half of a doubleheader in which the two teams combine to use 72 players. St. Louis wins the other game, 8-7.
1961 Luis Arroyo has the worst day by any pitcher all year according to WPA. His line: 1.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K for a –0.838 WPA as the White Sox top the Yankees, 4-3.
1961 Duke Snider hits a walk-off pinch-hit home run off of Roy Face, turning a 6-4 Pirate lead into a 7-6 Dodger victory.
1961 Former Dodger pitcher (and current Giant hurler) Billy Loes plays in his final game.
1961 Jim Fregosi makes his big league debut.
1962 Ernie Banks’ longest hitting streak maxes at 15 games. His line in that time: .344/.338/.547. Yes, that’s right – his OBP is lower than his batting average in that spell.
1962 Jimmy Piersall, open learning he’ll be arrested for entering the stands yesterday to fight a fan, is knocked unconscious by a revolving door at the Baltimore hotel he’s staying at. I guess it’s self-inflicted but I don’t really know for sure.
1962 Tommie Agee makes his big league debut.
1963 Robin Roberts surrenders his fourth and final career walk-off home run.
1966 Jim Bunning tosses his 14th consecutive Quality Start, a personal best he’ll later tie. His numbers in that span: 8-4 W-L, 119.2 IP, 85 H, 20 R, 19 ER, 15 BB, 92 K, and a 1.43 ERA.
1967 Cito Gaston makes his big league debut.
1967 One time super-prospect Walt Bond dies way too young at age 29.
1968 Denny McLain becomes the first 30-game winner since 1934 as the Tigers beat the A’s, 5-4. In that same game, Reggie Jackson has the first of his 42 multi-home run performances.
1969 Don Sutton wins his 50th game, giving him a career record of 50-57.
1971 Hank Aaron passes Stan Musial as the all-time NL RBI leader with 1,953.
1971 The Indians pitching staff allows 19 walks in a game. Sure, it was a 20-inning game, but that’s the most walks by any team in the Retrosheet era. Washington wins, 8-6.
1971 Bill Stoneman tosses nine innings in relief for the Expos—and he’s the last pitcher for that franchise (or indeed, for any team currently in the NL East) to do that.
1974 Chad Bradford is born.
1975 Joe Morgan steals five bases in one game for the only time in his career.
1975 Donnie Moore makes his big league debut.
1976 Slugger Boston shortstop Rico Petrocelli plays in his final game.
1976 El Presidente Dennis Martinez makes his big league debut.
1976 Len Barker, pitcher who once tossed a perfect game, makes his big league debut.
1978 After Amos Otis belts a home run off pitcher Bob Lacey, Lacey stands at the plate to congratulate Otis, saying no one’s ever hit his changeup like that.
1978 38-year-old Jim Bouton, enjoying an unlikely comeback with the Braves, defeats the Giants, 4-1.
1979 Future Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt makes his big league debut.
1980 Frank Tanana wins his 100th game, for a 100-76 record. He’ll be 140-160 for the rest of his career.
1980 Eddie Murray knocks out three home runs in game for the second time in his career.
1981 Johnny Bench enjoys his 17th consecutive day without striking out. He’s 25-for-55 in this span.
1982 Cal Ripken hits his first (of eight) grand slam.
1982 Teammates Richie Hebner and Bill Madlock both hit grand slams for the Pirates in an 11-5 win over the Cubs.
1983 Tommy John tosses 13 innings, his longest start, but gets a no-decision. He allows 13 hits, but they’re all singles and so avoids allowing any runs. It helps that he avoids walking anyone.
1984 Charlie Hough wins his 100th decision, for a 100-87 career record.
1984 Steve Carlton wins his 235th game as a Phillie, passing Robin Roberts as the all-time franchise leader.
1985 Delmon Young is born.
1986 Benito Santiago makes his big league debut.
1987 Toronto hits 10 home runs in one game, which they handily win, 18-3 over the Orioles. Catcher Ernie Whitt personally knocks three of them out. The Orioles take out Cal Ripken midway through the game, ending his streak of consecutive innings played at 8,423.
1988 Orel Hershiser tosses his third straight complete game shutout, putting his scoreless streak at 31 innings. The Dodgers top the Braves, 1-0.
1988 Mike Greenwell hits for the cycle.
1989 Craig Biggio has the first of 16 multi-home run games.
1989 Major league baseball approves of the sale of the Mariners to Jeff Smulyan and Michael Browning for $77 million, a new record price for an AL club.
1989 Busch Stadium sets a new record low with only 1,519 attending a game against the Pirates.
1990 Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. hit back-to-back home runs of the Mariners off California’s Kirk McCaskill.
1991 Brian Downing swats his 2,000th hit.
1991 Kenny Lofton makes his big league debut.
1991 The Blue Jays sign free agent Dave Parker.
1994 Bud Selig sends the fax of doom: the World Series is cancelled.
1995 Baseball owners approve the sale of the A’s to Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman for $85 million.
1996 The city of Houston and Harris County agree to terms with the Astros to build a new $265 million stadium with a retractable roof for the club.
1997 Richie Sexson makes his big league debut.
1997 The White Sox retire the number for Carlton Fisk, who requests that team owner Jerry Reinsdorf and club GM Ron Schueler not show up for the occasion.
1998 In an incredible slugfest, the White Sox defeat the Tigers 17-16 in 12 innings. The game features 51 hits.
1998 Carlos Beltran makes his big league debut.
1999 For the third time ever, two Yankees hit a grand slam in the same game, as Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill do it in back-to-back innings for a 10-6 win over the Blue Jays.
1999 The Royals trade Glendon Rusch to the Mets, in a move that sabermetric circles announce to be prove of Kansas City’s idiocy. And Rusch was a decent pitcher for a few years.
1999 Mark Quinn makes his big league debut with the Royals—and hits two home runs in it. Not bad.
1999 Alfonso Soriano makes his big league debut.
2002 Chin-Feng Chen becomes the first Taiwanese player in big league baseball.
2002 Randy Johnson fans 17 in a complete game shutout for a Game Score of 96.
2003 Tony LaRussa wins his 2,000th game as a manager. His record: 2,000-1,784.
2003 Vladimir Guerrero hits for the cycle.
2004 Andy Ashby appears in his last big league game.
2005 Andruw Jones launches his 300th home run.
2008 Ken Griffey Jr. gets his 500th double.
2008 Chicago Cub starter Carlos Zambrano tosses a no-hitter against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee. Houston had to leave their hometown due to an incoming hurricane, and the supposed home game for Houston ends up far closer to Chicago. The Houston team ownership waited until the last possible minute to agree to the move, so the players are completely out of sorts and distracted during this game, which occurs as the hurricane lashes their homes. In fact, Cub starter Ted Lilly has a no-hitter going until late in tomorrow’s game before Houston finally gets a hit.
2008 Kenny Rogers plays in his final major league game.
2009 The Twins announce that Justin Morneau will miss the rest of the year with stress fractures in his back.
2010 The Dodgers top the Giants, 1-0 when the only run scores on odd means. After a HBP and two walks, an error brings home the score. Barry Zito loses his ninth straight game despite allowing only one hit in 5.2 IP.
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.