Ten thousand days ago, one of baseball’s greatest milestones was achieved as the 300-win club initiated its newest member, the longtime standout for the Philadelphia Phillies, Steve Carlton.
He had an almost eerily even career record at that point: 300-199. (Sure enough, Carlton would lose his next decision to become 300-200 on his career).
He threw a gem on his milestone day, fanning 12 while walking only one and allowing seven hits and a pair of runs in eight innings, enabling the Phillies to claim an easy 6-2 lead over the Cardinals. Carlton even helped his own cause by lacing an RBI single. It makes sense that Carlton had such a great day fanning batters. After all, at that moment he was the game’s all-time strikeout king, leading Nolan Ryan 3,702 to 3,668.
At the time, it looked like Carlton was the better bet to end up the game’s all time strikeout-leader. After all, that year (1983) would be the third time in four years Carlton led the league in Ks, with at least 275 Ks per year. Ryan? He hadn’t fanned that many in six straight years and was usually at or below 200.
Of course, things soon took a turn for the worse for Carlton. He never again struck out 12 batters in a game, and more importantly just wasn’t that good at getting guys out by any means. He went 29-45 for the rest of his career after his 300th win. He was actually an effective pitcher for a while, but when things turned ugly they weren’t just a little ugly for him.
He became a poster boy for an athlete hanging on well after his talent had left him. The Phillies cut him, then the Giants picked him up and cut him. The White Sox signed him but let him go in the offseason. The Indians gave him a shot but traded him to Minnesota, who also cut him.
Regardless of how Carlton ended up, he got that 300th win, 10,000 days ago today.