December 13, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013
5,000 days ago, one of the scariest and creepiest moments of recent baseball history happened. It was an event that so shook up players, the game was suspended, even though the field conditions were still fine.
It was in the eighth inning of an Astros-Padres game on June 13, 1999, when Houston manager Larry Dierker nearly died from a sudden and massive seizure.
At first, it was just an ordinary day. Houston entered the game with the best record in the NL, 37-23, and hosted the second-division Padres. There was a bit of a revenge factor for Houston. Though San Diego was having a lousy season, they had defeated Houston in the NLDS the year before en route to the pennant.
Mostly, though, it was a typical day. After San Diego scored an early run, Houston rallied to take an easy 4-1 advantage.
And that’s how things stood as the game reached the eighth inning. San Diego went down quietly in the top of the frame, then Jeff Bagwell led off the bottom of the eighth by fanning. The game had just five more outs to go. It looked like it would be over in 10-15 minutes.
But that’s when things got ugly. Scary ugly. In Houston’s dugout, Dierker suddenly collapsed. That got people’s attention. He lay on the dugout floor, twitching and convulsing.
Medical staff was soon upon him, but they couldn’t revive him. No one could know exactly what had happened right then and there, but it turned out he’d suffered a grand mal seizure. In the days leading up to his seizure, Dierker had suffered through many severe headaches, but he just assumed he was having a lot of bad headaches. Hey, it happens.
Doctors later would report that Dierker had a tangled bunch of blood vessels in the front of his brain. He was rushed to the hospital and would soon have five hours of emergency brain surgery.
As horrifying as those moments were when Dierker’s body lay jerking by his players’ feet, the story had a happy ending. Dierker survived, recovered, and went back to managing the Astros. He missed a month but returned on July 16. In his first game back, Houston overcame a 6-0 deficit to Detroit and won, 8-6. The team took the division (though it lost in the NLDS), and Dierker stayed on the job another two seasons after this.
So it’s rather understandable why the game was suspended when it was. Who wanted to go back to playing ball after seeing something like that, especially when at the time no one knew if Dierker would even live? Houston and San Diego resumed the game on July 23, fittingly, shortly after Dierker’s triumphant return to the job. San Diego attempted a rally, with a pair of solo homers by Phil Nevin and Ruben Rivera, but Houston pulled out the win, 4-3.
But it was a horrible thing that happened on June 13, 1999, or 5,000 days ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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