80th anniversary: baseball’s wildest game: 18-17 (18)by Chris Jaffe
July 10, 2012
80 years ago today, one of the wildest games in baseball history took place. In fact, you can make a damn good argument that it is the wildest game of them all
It was July 10, 1932 when the Indians squared off against the A’s. It was unusual even before the first pitch was thrown. The game was in the midst of an A’s-Indians series in Philadelphia, but due to Sunday laws in Pennsylvania, they teams traveled to Cleveland for this one day.
That proved to be crucial, as Connie Mack decided to bring just two pitchers with him – starting hurler Lew Krausse and veteran arm Eddie Rommel as the one-man bullpen.
Well, as it happens Krausse didn’t have it that day, so Mack pulled him for Rommel after surrendering three runs in the first inning. At that point, after one frame, the A’s trailed Cleveland, 3-2. It was up to Eddie Rommel and just Eddie Rommel for the rest of the game.
Sure enough, Rommel would win the game. Or rather, he’d be credited with the win – after surrendering 14 runs on 29 this and nine walks. Oh, and he also uncorked two wild pitches.
Well, behind Rommel’s arm, the A’s took a 5-3 lead by the middle of the fourth. Then Rommel, in what would be a theme on the day, just couldn’t get guys out. Cleveland got three runs against him in the bottom of the fourth, and then another run in the fifth, and yet another in the sixth for an 8-6 lead.
The game rally became bizarre in the seventh. First the A’s scored seven times for a seemingly insurmountable 13-8 lead. Then Rommel immediately allowed six runs to hand the game back to Cleveland, 14-13. Yeah, that’s not a normal seventh inning.
In the top of the ninth, the A’s went ahead, 15-14, but Rommel couldn’t leave well enough alone and gave up the game-tying run. It was 15-15 and headed into overtime. The Indians by this time were on their third pitcher, ace Wes Ferrell, but a third pitcher was a luxury Connie Mack could only dream of.
Improbably, after several innings of non-stop scoring, Rommel and Ferrell combined to hold the teams from the game’s 31st run for six full innings. Finally, in the top of the 16th the A’s plated a pair on a Jimmie Foxx home run for a 17-15 lead. Now they just needed Rommel to keep Cleveland from scoring twice before making three outs.
Naturally, Rommel wasn’t up to that task. Not on this day. He gave up two runs and the game stumbled on, now tied 17-17 heading into the 17th inning.
In the 18th the A’s scored one more run and then, breaking with all tradition on the day, Rommel held the lead. Philadelphia had their win, 18-17 in 17 innings over the Indians. Rommel faced 87 batters – an all-time record for a reliever – and let 38 of them reach base (also a relief record), but he had the win.
It was the 171st victory in Rommel’s career, and would prove to be the last.
Rommel wasn’t the only one with unbelievable numbers on the day. Jimmie Foxx nailed six hits – including three home runs. That’s nothing, though. On Cleveland, Johnny Burnett got a 20th century record nine hits on the day – two doubles and seven singles.
There’s never been another game quite like the one between the A’s and Indians on July 10, 1932, 80 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim things.
3,000 days since Kevin Appier plays in his last game.
3,000 days since Barry Bonds receives four intentional walks in one game for the first time. He’ll have it happen three more times in his career (all in the same season).
4,000 days since Detroit trades reliever Todd Jones to the Twins for starting pitcher Mark Redman.
4,000 days since Vinny Castilla smashes three home runs in one game for the second time in his career.
4,000 days since Robin Ventura hits the sixth and final walk-off home run of his career, a solo shot that gives the Mets a 4-3 win over the Phillies.
20,000 days since Lew Burdette begins to become a legend. He throws a complete game shutout for a 1-0 Braves triumph over the Yankees in Game Five in the World Series. He’ll throw another shutout in Game Seven a few days later.
30,000 days since Babe Ruth, who hit three home runs in one game of the doubleheader the day before, hits two in the first game of a doubleheader today. Ruth gets another homer in game two, but the star of that show is Lou Gehrig, who smashes three homers in it.
1864 Jimmy McAleer, the winningest manager in the history of the St. Louis Browns, is born.
1865 Bobby Lowe, long-lasting infielder, is born.
1884 Major league debut: Tommy McCarthy, one of the worst Hall of Famers ever.
1894 It’s the end of an era as Jerry Denny, the last man to play without a glove, plays his final game.
1901 Harry Davis hits the first cycle in the AL.
1901 The Pirates top the Braves 1-0 despite Boston getting 15 hits.
1903 The New York Giants have a rowdy day. They play the Cardinals and get into a fight in the 10th. Players, fans, and cops are on the field before order is restored. After the game, the Giants attack their driver on the way back to the hotel, beat him up and toss him off because they think he is driving too slowly.
1907 Tommy Corcoran, a long-lasting no-hit/good-glove infielder, plays his last game.
1910 Franklin P. Adams publishes his famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance poem.
1911 Sherry Magee punches umpire Bill Finneran, breaking his jaw. Magee will be suspended for 36 games as a result.
1914 The Tigers nab A’s star Cocky Eddie Collins on a hidden ball trick.
1917 Yankees pitcher Ray Caldwell comes out of bullpen and tosses 9.2 innings of hitless ball before the Yankees win in the 17th inning.
1919 Indians manager Lee Fohl loses his job in spectacular fashion. Babe Ruth hits a ninth inning grand slam for an 8-7 Red Sox win over the Indians. Fohl had just put the wrong reliever in. He normally let star center fielder Tris Speaker make pitching decisions for him, and when Speaker signaled to bring in Pitcher A, Fohl misread and put in Pitcher B.
1920 Tris Speaker sets a record (since broken) by getting hits in 11 straight at bats.
1925 The A’s select veteran spitballer Jack Quinn on waivers from the Red Sox.
1925 Hack Wilson hits two home runs in one inning versus the Pirates.
1926 Hack Wilson hits a walk-off home run just nine days after a previous walk-off. He has just three in his career.
1927 Miller Huggins loses his 1,000th game as manager. His record is 1,176-1,000.
1928 Milt Gaston allows 14 hits in a complete game shutout.
1929 The Pirates and Phillies combine for nine home runs in one game, one in each inning. Pirates win, 15-9.
1932 Lefty Gomez ties career worsts for hits allowed (15) and runs (9).
1934 Carl Hubbell has the most famous pitching performance in All-Star Game history. He fans Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, and Joe Cronin in a row—but the AL wins, 9-7.
1935 The Tigers hit 10 doubles in a game, but lose 12-11 to the Senators.
1935 One of the best pitching duels in minor league history: Galveston 1, Tulsa 0. Galveston pitches a perfect game and scores the only run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on an inside the park home run.
1935 Paul Hines, star from the earliest days of the NL, dies.
1935 Brooklyn’s Babe Herman becomes the first person to homer in a night game when he does it against the Reds, but Cincinnati wins, 15-2.
1936 Lou Gehrig hits his 400th home run. He’s the second man in the club, behind Babe Ruth of course.
1936 Bobo Newsom, who never pitched a no-hitter in his career, has one of five one-hitters.
1936 Chuck Klein hits four home runs in one game.
1943 Brooklyn protests a three-game suspension of Bobo Newsom by Leo Durocher. Arky Vaughan and Joe Medwick turn in their uniforms.
1945 Royals hitter Hal McRae is born.
1945 The All-Star Game cancelled at Fenway as a wartime measure.
1947 Don Black throws a no-hitter: Indians 3, A’s 0.
1948 Jackie Robinson hits his only inside-the-park home run.
1948 Satchel Paige records his first major league victory, after who knows how many Negro League victories.
1951 It takes long enough but the NL finally records back-to-back wins in the All-Star game.
1953 Outfielder Al Smith makes his big league debut.
1954 Andre Dawson is born.
1958 Milwaukee pitcher Lew Burdette homers twice, including his only grand slam.
1958 Major league debut: Dick Stuart.
1960 Whitey Ford surrenders his only grand slam.
1962 John F. Kennedy becomes the first sitting president to throw out the first pitch in an All-Star game.
1963 Major league debut: Jimmy Wynn.
1964 Jesus Alou gets six hits in one game, leading the Giants to a 10-3 win over the cubs.
1965 Joe Morgan hits two home runs in a game, something he did two days ago. He won’t do it again for more than seven years.
1965 Roberto Clemente sees his longest hitting streak max at 20 games. He’s 33-for-87 with six doubles, four triples, and one home run.
1966 Roger Craig pitches in his last game.
1968 AL and NL agree on next year’s expansion format.
1968 The Orioles fire manager Hank Bauer. His replacement will be Earl Weaver.
1970 In career game No. 684, Reds shortstop Woody Woodward hits home run No. 1.
1971 Major league debut: Rennie Stennett.
1971 The Dodgers sign free agent Hoyt Wilhelm.
1972 Hoyt Wilhelm plays his last game.
1973 California’s Leroy Stanton gets three home runs in one game.
1974 Dave Winfield has the first of 30 multi-home run games. No. 2 will be exactly three years later.
1974 37-year-old Brooks Robinson steals two bases in one game. It’s the only time he does in his career.
1974 Major league debut: Art Howe.
1977 The Red Sox leave 20 on base in 11 innings, but win 8-5 over the Brewers.
1979 For the third consecutive time in a pinch-hit attempt, Del Unser hits a home run.
1979 Right fielder Ellis Valentine throws out Darrell Evans at first base for the rare 9-3 groundout.
1980 Fergie Jenkins has his worst game; 0.1 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 0 K for a Game Score of 6.
1983 Atlanta signs amateur free agent relief pitcher Paul Assenmacher.
1985 Houston trades longtime first baseman Enos Cabell to the Dodgers.
1986 It’s one of the wildest game endings in history. The Angels and Red Sox enter the 10th inning tied 4-4, but California scores three times in the top of the tenth to seemingly ice the game. However, the Red Sox score four times in the bottom of the frame for an 8-7 win. The final run scores on the rare walk-off balk.
Pitcher Todd Fischer, who is responsible for the game-ending balk, will never pitch in the majors again. Thus his game-ending balk is also a career-ending balk.
1987 Major league debut: Lance Johnson.
1988 Mike Aldrete hits the 10,000th home run in Giants franchise history.
1989 Major league debut: Greg Vaughn.
1990 AL 2, NL 0 as six AL pitchers combine for a two-hitter at Wrigley Field.
1992 The Pirates trade veteran third baseman Steve Buechele to the Cubs for starting pitcher Danny Jackson.
1993 Cal Ripken gets his 2,000th hit.
1999 Carlton Fisk’s Game Six home run ball sells for $112,273 in auction.
1999 Randy Johnson suffers through his fourth and final game in his Summer of Hell. He pitches great but loses when Arizona is shut out for the fourth consecutive time he starts. In all, the Diamondbacks got six—count ‘em, six—hits in those four games. That’s a total, not an average. What did Johnson do in those games? His combined numbers: 32 IP, 19 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 10 BB, 54 K for a 1.41 ERA—and an 0-4 record.
2002 Ted Williams’ daughter writes to President George W. Bush and Sen. John Glenn asking for their help to prevent her father from being cryogenetically frozen.
2003 Craig Biggio hits his 500th double.
2003 Paul Wilson allows eight runs without getting a single out as a staring pitcher. This has happened only five times since 1920—and Wilson is two of those five.
2007 Ichiro Suzuki hits the first ever All-Star Game inside the park home run. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on, the NL has a single, home run and three consecutive walks to put the tying run 90 feet from home plate and the winning run 180 feet. NL manger Tony LaRussa opts to not use Albert Pujols (who is available) as a pinch hitter. Instead, Aaron Rowand flies out to end the game.
2008 Seattle releases slugging first baseman Richie Sexson.
2008 Cleveland releases former closer Joe Borowski.
2008 Steve Mingori, 1970s reliever, dies.
2009 Jonathan Sanchez throws a no-hitter. It would’ve been a perfect game but there was an error in the eighth inning. Oops.
2009 The Mets make a rather bad trade, sending Ryan Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur.
2010 Travis Wood of Cincinnati takes a perfect game into the ninth inning, but doesn’t even get the win. Phillies 1, Reds 0 (11). It’s one of the best pitchers duels of the year as Wood ends with a Game Score of 93 versus Roy Halladay, who posts a Game Score of 85 in it.
2010 On the anniversary of his only triple of 2009, Albert Pujols uncorks his only triple of 2010. To date, he hasn’t had another triple since then.
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.