10,000 days ago: Marge Schott becomes Reds owner

10,000 days ago, the Cincinnati Reds got a new owner: Marge Schott. Her reign would prove to be one of the most controversial in the annals of recent American sports ownership.

As to the controversies around Schott (oh, wear to begin). Let’s start with the obvious ones. She owned a Nazi armband and once told reporters that Hitler was good in the beginning (he built the roads, don’t you know). An employee said she called the team’s best black players “million dollar niggers” and that the front office had an unwritten policy against hiring blacks. As controversies around her biases swirled, Scott told reporters she didn’t understand why people found the term “Jap” offensive. At least one employee contended she made anti-Semitic remarks.

There was a good deal of bigotry in the above listed accusations, obviously, and also a good deal of cluelessness. She doesn’t even think Jap is offensive? She thinks Hitler was good in the beginning? (Short version to anyone unaware—no, he wasn’t. His goal from day one was to create a new racial utopia and conquer other places). Not only was it like Schott was walking out of the 1950s—or 1920s—into the 1990s and not being aware that things had changed, it’s like she walked out of a bad stereotype of bygone times.

This was true in other ways as well. Schott reportedly said she didn’t want any players who wore earrings because “Only fruits wear earrings.” She announced in midseason that the Reds wouldn’t bring back manager Davey Johnson regardless of how well the team did. One background reason for this was because she didn’t approve of his co-habitation with a woman he wasn’t married to.

Schott was odd in other ways. A Sports Illustrated article noted that in the car dealerships she owned (and that she inherited after he husband had died), Schott would engage in various sorts of frankly ridiculous and pointless cost-saving measures. The one that stuck with me is that if she saw a computer terminal turned on at an unoccupied desk, she’d walk up to it and turn it off. She was the one paying the electricity bill, and she didn’t want to waste any. Really? That’s pretty damn pennywise and pound-foolish.

Similarly, she didn’t like hiring baseball scouts because all they are paid to do is watch baseball games. More famously, she complained about having to pay players when they were on the DL, even team stars and World Series heroes. Eric Davis was openly irked at her callous treatment of him after getting injured while helping the Reds claim the 1990 world title.

Schott also made beloved dog, Schottzie, the team mascot. She always loved animals, but at one point some of the team’s publications featured virtually nothing but photos of the dog, and almost none of the players or even team legend Pete Rose. The mascot had become prominent to the point of parody and embarrassment for the Reds. She let the dog have free reign in Riverfront Stadium. It even pooped on the field.

What’s interesting, is that Schott was initially a fairly popular owner. She’d make herself publicly visible during games and talk to fans. She kept the concessions prices low, and even kept the seat prices as low as she could. She always loved children and throughout her entire adult life was very active in charity foundations for children.

Mainly, I see a large streak of provincialism here; a streak many others share but those who are so provincial rarely have as much public stature of money that Schott had. Or if they are, they’re not so vocal about it.

It’s like she developed a sense of how the world should be at an early age and then just spent her entire life locked into it. She never noticed the world was changing or thought to reexamine whether any of her beliefs were wrong. Thus she thought you shouldn’t hire blacks, but should be as nice as you can to kids. Jews aren’t trustworthy, but a ballpark hot dog should only cost $1. There’s something funny about guys wearing earrings but it’s perfectly natural to let your dog poop on the lawn – even if the lawn is center field.

I also remember a group of sportswriters (actually, it was the late, great Sportswriters on TV show – saying that they felt more than a few other sports owners had similar social views as Schott, but they didn’t publicize it.

For better and for worse, the above era began 10,000 days ago when Marge Schott became majority owner of the Reds.

Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you prefer to skim the lists.

Day-versaries

1,000 days since some idiot in the bleachers at Wrigley Field tosses his drink of Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino during a play. He sneaks out of the stadium but will have to turn himself in to the authorities that day. In that same game, Pedro Martinez makes his Phillies debut, and they win 12-5. I was at this game.

5,000 days since Roger Clemens tosses his third consecutive complete game shutout. His line: 27 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, and 31 K.

5,000 days since the Cardinals unveil a statue of longtime voice of the franchise Jack Buck.

6,000 days since the New York Daily News reports that several big stars dodged taxes on their autograph fees, including: Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, and Mickey Mantle.

8,000 days since Steve Avery makes his debut.

8,000 days since the lords of baseball approve the sale of the Padres from Joan Kroc to Tom Werner and friends for $90,000,000.

15,000 days since Jim Slaton, the all-time Brewer franchise win leader, makes his big league debut.

20,000 days since the Brooklyn Sports Authority says a 50,000 seat stadium in downtown New York City will cost $20.7 million.

Anniversaries

1850 Ross Barnes, great hitter in 1870s, is born.

1858 Dan Brouthers, one of the best hitters in the 19th century, is born.

1878 Paul Hines starts a triple play, a pretty neat fact given that he plays center field. He catches the ball, runs to third base for the second out and tosses it to second base for the last out. It was a very different game back then.

1893 Edd Roush, Hall of Famer interviewed in The Glory of Their Times, is born.

1896 While Billy Nash of the Phillies argues with an umpire over a called strike, savvy Cubs pitcher Clark Griffith takes advantage of the fact that Nash is still standing in the batter’s box to throw the ball at Nash’s bat. The ball doinks off it for a double play.

1899 Harry Wolverton hits a walk-off grand slam: Cubs 8, Spiders 7.

1901 Turkey Stearnes, Hall of Fame Negro Leaguer, is born.

1902 Here’s a weird one: Cubs beat Giants 10-5 but afterward it’s discovered that the plate is 15 inches closer to the mound that it’s supposed to be. The Giants protest, and the game (and the previous day’s game) are replayed.

1906 Chief Bender would hit only six home runs in his Hall of Fame pitching career, but two come in this game off Jesse Tannehill. Added bonus: both are inside the park home runs. Extra added bonus: Bender wasn’t pitching in this game. Due to injuries, A’s manager Connie Mack put Bender in left field in the sixth inning, and he hit both dingers as a position player.

1907 Big Jeff Pfeffer tosses a no-hitter, as the Braves beat the Reds 6-0.

1911 Pete Alexander tosses the first of his 90 complete game shutouts.

1914 Walter Johnson tosses reportedly the only bean ball of his career—aimed at star third baseman Frank Baker.

1921 Ty Cobb hits home run, triple, and two doubles—but no single, so no cycle.

1922 Sam Beardon buys controlling interest in the St. Louis Cardinals.

1926 Three-alarm blaze at Fenway Park burns down the grandstand roof and left field bleachers. There won’t be any more left field bleachers until the 21st century.

1929 Frankie Frisch legs out his 100th career triple

1929 Carl Hubbell throws no-hitter versus a very tough Pittsburgh Pirate offense. (I once determined it was the third most impressive lineup ever no-hit. Giants win 11-0. He walks one, but two reach on error (both errors are in the ninth).

1930 Freddie Lindstrom hits for the cycle—and his homer was an inside-the-park one.

1935 Ernie Lombardi clubs four doubles in one game, all in consecutive plate appearances.

1936 37-year-old Kiki Cuyler hits his 19th and last inside-the-park home run.

1936 Hall of Fame first baseman Johnny Mize enjoys the first of 30 career multi-home run games.

1937 Bobo Newsom, 200-game winner with a losing career record (211-222), hits his only career home run.

1937 Mike Cuellar, pitcher, is born.

1939 Cards top Dodgers 1-0 as Pepper Martin steals home in the sixth inning.

1940 Reds get 27 hits in 23-2 demolition of Dodgers. In the game, Harry Craft hits for the cycle.

1941 The Boston Braves release former AL star pitcher Wes Ferrell.

1941 Red Ruffing goes 3-for-3 with a home run in 5-4 Yankee win over Indians. He may have done more damage at the plate, but was taken out in the sixth, as he allowed 12 base runners while making only 17 outs.

1942 In a Navy Relief Fund exhibition game between the Dodgers and Giants, everyone—even the players and umpires—pays their way into the stadium, as all proceeds go to the war effort.

1946 Tigers pull off odd triple play when a line drive bounces off pitcher Hal Newhouser and into the hands off Eddie Mayo. This surprises the base runners enough for the next two outs.

1947 AP breaks the story that the St. Louis Cardinals reportedly are talking of boycotting Dodgers game because of Jackie Robinson. This likely amounted to little more than some guys muttering in the clubhouse, and was never a real plan, let alone one involving the entire team.

1948 Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser loses his 100th decision (132-100).

1948 Larry Doby hits reportedly the longest home run at Griffith Stadium in Washington since Babe Ruth in 1922. Doby’s blast hits a loudspeaker 35 feet over the center field wall.

1953 Charlie Grimm wins his 1,000th game as manager (1,000-845).

1957 Kansas City A’s lose, putting Lou Bourdreau’s managerial record under .500 (1,083-1,084) and it will stay under from here on out.

1957 Old Folks Ellis Kinder is finally too old – today is his last game.

1957 Ted Williams hits three homers in a game for the second time. He did it 11 years ago.

1958 Reds enter ninth inning trailing 8-2 at Wrigley Field, but score eight runs to beat the Cubs.

1960 Fourth inning single gives Willie Mays his highest career batting average: .318970 (1,325/4,154).

1960 Hall of Fame managers Casey Stengel and Al Lopez manage against each other for the 200th time.

1961 It’s announced that the new NL team will be called the Mets.

1963 Bob Buhl, pitcher, singles. It’s his first hit since 1961—and yes, he played all of 1962.

1963 Willie Stargell mashes his first MLB home run.

1963 Stan Musial sets record by hitting his 1,357th extra base hit. Babe Ruth had “only” 1,356.

1964 Willie Mays homers off Phil Ortega, the only hit Mays ever managed off Ortega in 19 plate appearances.

1965 New record longest game in organized baseball viewed by a paid attendance of 386: Elmira Pioneers 2, Springfield Giants 1 (27). It was 0-0 for 25 innings, but incredibly they both scored in the 26th.

1966 It’s the last game at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. The Giants win, 10-5.

1966 Barely a month after joining the Orioles, Frank Robinson hits the only ball ever to completely leave Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. He’ll win the Triple Crown in his first year in the AL.

1966 Big trade: Giants send first baseman Orlando Cepeda to St. Louis for pitcher Ray Sadecki. Advantage: St. Louis.

1968 Catfish Hunter throws a perfect game and fans 11 in the process. The losing team was the Minnesota Twins, whose lineup featured Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Tony Oliva. Damn. It’s also Catfish Hunter’s 11th straight Quality Start, his longest streak ever. His record in those games: 5-5 W-L, 89 IP, 55 H, 22 R, 20 ER, 19 BB, 66 K, 2.02 ERA. 5-5 with a 2.02 ERA? Welcome to the 1968 American League.

1971 The Senators trade Mike Epstein and Darold Knowles to the A’s for Don Mincher, cash, and two others.

1973 Ralph Miller, the last living 19th century player, dies

1973 Willie Stargell hits home run off Andy Messersmith that completely leaves Dodger Stadium. It’s only the second time that’s happened—and we’re still waiting for Time No. 3. The first time? That was also Stargell, back in 1969.

1976 Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant allows nine runs in one outing against the Rangers—but none are earned. In the second inning, the first three batters strike out, reach on error, and then ground out. The next 10 straight batters reach base.

1977 Rod Carew gets two triples in one game. He’ll do it only one other time in his career—and that will come 26 days later.

1978 Royals manager Whitey Herzog tries something different. To try to stop Red Sox star Jim Rice (who enters the day batting .364 with a slugging percentage over .700), Herzog puts more men in the outfield. He goes without a second baseman. Rice goes 2-for-3 with a double and an IW on the day.

1979 It’s an infamous game in Kansas City, as Texas starting pitcher Ed Farmer beans Frank White and Al Cowens in the same game. White has to leave with a broken right hand bone and Cowens with a broken jaw. Cowens in particular clearly thinks this was intentional, as the next time he faces Farmer, he charges the mound. On a ground out. In extra innings. Despite the fact that Cowens is now a Tiger and Farmer now a White Sox.

1981 It’s all Tom Seaver for the Reds. He tosses a complete game shutout and belts a home run off of Don Sutton.

1982 Adrian Gonzalez is born.

1982 Expos release Rodney Scott, causing Bill Lee to walk off the team in protest, which will end his career.

1984 Kirby Puckett has a heckuva MLB debut, going 4-for-5. He’s only the 12th person to debut with a four-hit game.

1984 The longest game in AL history begins: White Sox 8, Brewers 7 (25). Due to curfew rules, it will finish the next day. Robin Yount grounds into three double plays in it, his personal worst.

1987 It’s the first of 67 multi-home run games for Mark McGwire.

1988 Chris Chambliss plays his last game.

1990 Andre Dawson hits his only walk-off home run as a Cub, giving him at least one walk-off home run in three different decades. It’s also his best WPA game: 0.813 WPA. 3-for-5, two homers, two runs, three RBIs, an intentional walk, and a K as Cubs beat Braves, 10-8.

1991 Howard Spira found guilty of trying to extort money from George Steinbrenner.

1992 Jim Leyland manages his 1,000th game: 516-482 record.

1992 Astros pitcher Butch Henry has a memorable first major league hit: a three-run inside the park homer. But Houston loses, 6-3.

1993 Terry Mulholland pitches 10 innings for the Phillies, the last time a pitcher went over nine innings for them in one game.

1994 Andy Van Slyke goes 8-for-9 in doubleheader versus the Cubs.

1995 Jason Giambi plays in his first big league game.

1994 Former star second baseman Steve Sax plays in his last game.

1997 Randy Johnson loses, ending a 16-game winning streak.

1997 Cory Lidle, pitcher, makes his major league debut.

1998 Mark McGwire hits his 400th home run.

1998 Tony Gwynn’s home run off of Tom Glavine in the first inning raises his career batting to its all-time peak: .340356 (2,827/8,306).

2000 For the second straight game Craig Biggio is twice HBP.

2000 Marlins lose to Braves on walk-off balk by John Rocker. It’s 2-2 entering the bottom of the ninth when this happens: single, error on botched pick off, out, out, intentional walk, runner advances to second on defensive indifference, balk. What an ugly inning.

2001 Randy Johnson fans 20 batters in nine innings—but then the game goes 10 innings. Records are normally different for nine- and extra-inning games, so Johnson doesn’t tie the Kerry Wood-Roger Clemens record, but Tom Cheney once fanned 21 in 16 innings, so Johnson isn’t there either.

2003 Giants sign amateur free agent Pablo Sandoval.

2003 Aaron Boone this three homers in one game for the second time in his career.

2004 Sammy Sosa strikes out for the 2,000th time. He’s the second guy to do that. Andres Galarraga will become the third later this year. (Reggie Jackson was the first).

2004 Texas Ranger Alfonso Soriano gets six hits in a game—the first time that happened to any batter in that franchise’s history.

2004 For the only time in his career, Greg Maddux let’s the opposing pitcher homer off him. It’s Rockies hurler Jason Jennings in Wrigley Field. Pitchers are 162-for-1,250 with 19 doubles an a homer and a .130/.151/.147 AVG/OBP/SLG against him.

2008 Jim Thome steals his first base since Sept. 25, 2002.

2009 Dom DiMaggio, star centerfielder and brother of a Hall of Famer centerfielder, dies

2009 Alex Rodriguez returns to baseball following hip surgery. He homers on the first pitch he sees.

2010 Milwaukee’s Jody Gerut hits for the cycle. It’s an unlikely one as not only is Gerut having a terrible season, but before the game Brewers manager Ken Macha flipped a coin to determine if Gerut or Corey Hart should start in right field. The coin does the job right and Gerut gets the start.

2010 Mark Teixeira 2010 hits three homers in a game. It’s the third time he’s hit three home runs in a game. Each time he’s done it while playing for a different team, too.

2011 Mike Scioscia posts his 1,000 win as manager: 1,000-817 for his career.

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