10,000 “day-versary: The worst start ever?

10,000 days ago, baseball witnessed one of its worst starting pitching performances of all-time. It isn’t among the worst Game Scores ever. No record number of walks or hits were allowed. No, a much more specific record was set on that day, and hasn’t been worsted since (though it has been tied).

On June 25, 1984, Bill Krueger took the mound for the Oakland A’s. Coming off a nice rookie season in 1983, Krueger was doing even better this year. Since joining the major league roster in mid-May, he’d posted an ERA of 3.02 in eight starts. His ERA was about to go higher.

Facing the Royals in Kaufmann Stadium, Willie Wilson became the first batter Krueger faced. Wilson promptly singled. Yeah, that’s Willie Wilson for you. Just two years earlier he led the league in batting average.

Up next was the easiest out in the order, leftfielder Butch Davis. A part time player, Davis entered the day batting .128 on the season with 10 hits in 78 at bats. Better make it 11-for-79, because Davis singled to raise his average to a mighty .139.

Now the order really gets tricky: George Brett, Hal McRae, and Steve Balboni were the next three hitters due up. The perennial All-Star Brett homered, driving in three. Then McRae, aging but still a capable hitter, singled. As an added bonus, McRae advances to second on an error by the normally sure-handed centerfielder Dwayne Murphy. It would not be the last error in the inning.

Balboni, in his first season seeing real action, seems to offer the beleaguered Krueger his first break on the evening. He grounds one to Oakland’s shortstop Tony Phillips—who promptly muffs it. McRae moves to third and Phillips parks himself at first.

Well, at least the hard part of the order is over. Leon Roberts comes up next. Though a fine hitter in his day, that day is done and this will be his last season. He doesn’t need to be a good hitter in this inning, as Kreuger walks him. Did he lose his composure from the errors or does he just not have it? Hard to say, but so far six men have come to the plate and there are still no outs.

With the bases loaded, catcher Don Slaught comes up—and keeps Kreuger’s nightmare going with a single. McRae and Balboni both score and the game is 5-0. There is action in the bullpen as things are already getting out of hand for Oakland. Not that it’s any consolation, but at least the Balboni run was unearned.

Second baseman Greg Pryor becomes the eighth batter of the inning and becomes the eighth batter to reach base with yet another single. Roberts scores to make it 6-0 with Slaught making it to third. Heck, Pryor goes to second on the throw home.

That’s it. Oakland manager Jackie Moore brings in reliever Gorman Heimueller. The first batter grounds out without advancing the runner for the belated first out. The next one flies out to score a run—an unearned run as there would now be three outs if not for Phillips’ error. Then Butch Davis shockingly gets his second hit of the inning to drive two more in and it’s 8-0 when the inning ends.

Krueger’s line: 0 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Since at least 1920, it’s the most runs allowed by a starting pitcher who recorded zero outs. Given that previous to 1920 was the Deadball Era with less scoring and pitching lasting longer in games, it’s at least possible Krueger made history outright that night with the most runs and no outs.

It’s since been matched repeatedly. No one else did it for 13 years, but in 1997 Bobby Jones of the Mets (the good Bobby Jones) matched it, albeit with only four earned runs.

The next year another Oakland pitcher, Blake Stein did it—and all his runs were earned. In the 21st century its happened twice—both times to the same pitcher; Paul Wilson. He allowed a total one unearned runs in his pair of dreadful performances.

But Krueger did it first, 10,000 days ago.

Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold for those that just want to skim.

Day-versaries

2,000 days since Barry Bonds belts his 714th home run, tying Babe Ruth on the all-time leaderboard.

2,000 days since Joe DiMaggio’s old uniforms fetches a price of $195,500 when sold at auction.

2,000 days since Josh Beckett, pitcher, homers for the Red Sox and gets an RBI single in an interleague game. He becomes the first Red Sox pitcher to homer since Marty Pattin in 1972. Oh, Beckett also pitches seven solid innings, too.

2,000 days since Alex Gonzalez plays his final game. (It’s the former Marlins shortstop, not the former Blue Jays/Cubs shortstop).

2,000 days since Ken Griffey Jr. belts his 15th and final career grand slam.

3,000 days since Brandon Inge enjoys the best WPA by a Detroit hitter that we know of. He scores a WPA of 1.113 by going 3-for-5 with a homer, two runs, three RBIs and a stolen base in the Tigers’ 10-9 win over the Angels.

6,000 days since Tommy Lasorda becomes the 14th manager to join the 1,500-win club. His record: 1,500-1,358.

6,000 days since Wade Boggs cranks out his 100th career home run.

6,000 days since Curt Schilling endures perhaps his worst ever day at the plate, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

8,000 days since the Royals trade pitcher Charlie Leibrandt to the Braves.

10,000 days since Willie Wilson collects his 1,000th career hit.

10,000 days since Ken Singleton belts his 2,000th career hit.

10,000 days since Bill Russell plays his 1,953rd game for the Dodgers, passing up Willie Davis as the man with the most games played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. (If you include the Brooklyn years, he’s not in first, though).

25,000 days since Paul Dean, Dizzy’s brother, pitches for the last time in the big leagues.

30,000 days since Yankees manager Miller Huggins is rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City with a fever of 105. He’ll die there.

40,000 days since Giants pitcher Dummy Taylor is “kidnapped” and returns to play for them.

Anniversaries

1857 Jim Whitney, a hard-throwing and good-hitting pitcher, is born.

1873 Willie “Kid” McGill, who will debut as a major league pitcher at age 16, is born.

1896 Jimmie Dykes is born.

1897 The Phillies trade superlative defensive third baseman Lave Cross, talented but troubled pitcher Brewery Jack Taylor, good hitting catcher Jack Clements, and outfielder Tommy Dowd plus $1,000 to St. Louis for starting pitcher Red Donahue, infielder Monte Cross, and one other player.

1897 The Pirates trade Pink Hawley, another player, and $3,500 to the Reds for Billy Rhines and four more players. The Reds get the better end of this trade, as Hawley is a very good pitcher snake bit by bad run support.

1912 Birdie Tebbetts, future manager, is born.

1919 Clark Griffith purchases a controlling interest in the Washington Senators. His family will maintain that controlling interest until 1984.

1930 Commissioner Judge Landis reinstates Hippo Vaughn after eight years of ineligibility. Vaughn had jumped to a semi-pro team in 1922 due to a salary dispute with the Cubs in 1922. This ruling is purely ceremonial and Vaughn is done as a pitcher.

1932 The Reds name Donie Bush as their new manager.

1934 Stormin’ Norm Cash, terrific hitter for the Tigers, is born.

1948 The White Sox make one of the best trades in franchise history sending Aaron Robinson to the Tigers for future ace Billy Pierce, and $10,000.

1950 The Indians name Al Lopez their manager, replacing Lou Boudreau. This will begin Lopez’s Hall of Fame dugout career.

1953 Larry Parrish, very good hitter in his prime, is born.

1954 Bob Stanley, pitcher whose wild pitch tied Game Six of the 1986 World Series (just before the Bill Buckner error), is born. Stanley is also the last reliever to qualify for the ERA title in a season where he didn’t start any games (168.1 IP in 1982).

1954 The Washington Senators release Johnny Pesky.

1955 Jack Clark, terrific hitting first baseman with the second most extra-inning homers in baseball history, is born.

1964 The Braves sign a 25-year lease to play in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

1964 Kenny Rogers, crafty pitcher accused of loading up the ball in the 2006 postseason for Detroit, is born.

1972 Shawn Green, hitter who holds the record with 19 total bases in one game, is born.

1974 Norman E. Budesheim, who at age 17 in 1925 and saw Sam Rice make his famous World Series catch, says the recently opened letter on the catch isn’t fully true. Rice caught the ball while leaping into the stands and came up holding the ball. He refused to comment on it afterwards, leaving a letter to be opened after his death. He just died and the letter says he caught it and maintained control. Budesheim, who sat in the row, says Rice caught it and dropped it before picking it up again.

1975 The Royals release Harmon Killebrew, ending the Hall of Famer’s career.

1978 The Yankees trade Sparky Lyle and four others to the Rangers for Dave Righetti and four others.

1992 Baseball owners vote down the relocation of the Giants to St. Petersburg, Florida.

1994 With the players’ strike still going on, a new round of negotiations begin between the players and the owners.

1998 The Braves trade Denny Neagle, Rob Bell, and Michael Tucker to the Reds for Bret Boone, and Mike Remlinger.

1998 Hal Newhouser, maybe the best pitcher in Tigers’ history, dies.

1999 The Phillies trade Adam Eaton and two others to the Padres for Andy Ashby.

2002 Ken Raffensberger, former big league pitcher, dies.

2008 The Rockies trade Matt Holliday to the A’s for Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith.

2008 The Marlins trade Scott Olson and Josh Willingham to the Nationals for three players.

2010 Dave Niehus, the Seattle Mariners announcer for their full 34-season existence, dies of a heart attack.

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Comments

  1. Steve I said...

    Just curious – is there a particular reason you think of Birdie Tebbetts as a manager rather than a catcher?  I guess I always think of him as a catcher first because when I was a kid I heard Dizzy Dean’s explanation of how Birdie got his nickname: “Behind the plate he was always chirping at the batter like a little ol’ canary bird.”  (It’s unknown to me if that’s true, but it’s always stuck with me somehow.)

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