10,000 days ago, the Padres and Pirates fought in a really close, back-and-forth game that is most notable for one rather bizarre play. It’s a play that rarely happens, but even by that standard, it was an odd one.
In the bottom of the seventh on July 6, 1985, Pittsburgh’s Steve Kemp became one of the few players to hit into the rare 9-3 ground out. Yeah—he hit the ball out of the infield and was still thrown out at first base.
Oh, it happens—a few times a year maybe, but no more than that. Also, when it happens, the runner usually is a pitcher or someone who has no idea what he’s doing at the plate, let alone running to first.
Kemp? He was a veteran hitter playing in nearly his 1,100th game. Sure, he was always slow-footed, but even slow-footed guys can leg one out to first on a ball hit to the outfielder.
Except that this play wasn’t on Kemp. The 9-3 ground out rarely happens, but when it does, how often do you have a runner on first base who fails to advance?
That’s what happened here. When Kemp hit his shot into right, Jason Thompson was on first base, and when the play was over, Kemp was still on first base.
Wait a second. How could neither man make it to the next base on what the play-by-play account lists as a grounder? Simple, it was a grounder only in the sense that it touched the ground.
Kemp hit a flier to shallow right and Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn dove to try to catch it – and didn’t. It hit the ground before hopping into his glove. Thompson, however, missed the hopped-into part. He saw it go into Gwynn’s glove and then retreated back to first. I can only assume that Kemp actually made it to first base before the throw, but by rule the person with previous possession of the bag has the right to it. So when Gwynn threw the ball to first, the guy who didn’t screw up was called out.
You can imagine the confusion. There were two guys on first. One had to be out. The umpires ruled it was a trap and called out Kemp. I’m no expert on the rules, and I’m probably wrong about this, but you can make a case they should’ve called out Thompson. Since the ball wasn’t caught, there is a force play on second and Thompson was clearly out there.
Either way, the Pirates had two men on first and one of them had to be out. So the umps said it was the guy who got there second. Kemp did nothing wrong but a cursory glance at the play-by-play makes it look like he didn’t hustle.
Aside from that, it was a really nice game. Thompson scored a few minutes later to give the Pirates a 6-4 lead. In the bottom of the eighth he drove home a run for a 7-4 lead. Then the Padres stormed back, scoring three times in the top of the ninth to tie it, 7-7. In the bottom of the ninth, the first two Pirates recorded outs, but that just made the ensuing game-winning rally that much more dramatic. Three straight singles gave the Pirates the win, the last a walk-off RBI single by Marvell Wynne.
Thus Pirates fans could leave the game feeling happy—and so could Jason Thompson. The odd play in the seventh hadn’t made any difference in the outcome, but it was the strangest play of the game, a game that took place 10,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things.
1,000 days since Texas voids its contract with Khalil Greene due to “recurrence of issues he’s dealt with in the past,” referring to social anxiety order. The Rangers signed him a month ago.
2,000 days since Mississippi Braves manager Philip Wellman is ejected and has an epic meltdown/tirade.
3,000 days since Jim Edmonds hits his 300th home run.
5,000 days since the Orioles sign amateur free agent pitcher Daniel Cabrera.
5,000 days since the Reds sign free agent pitcher Brendan Donnelly.
6,000 days since the Padres trade catcher Brad Ausmus to the Tigers in a five-player deal.
7,000 days since Nolan Ryan appears in his last game. He faces three batters and then hurts his elbow. It’s not a storybook ending, but departures rarely are.
15,000 days since Indians owner Vernon Stouffer and his GM Gabe Paul head to New Orleans to see about maybe playing some baseball games there in the upcoming 1972 season. It doesn’t take.
1851 Bobby Mathews, pitcher in the 1870s and 1880s, is born.
1854 Charlie Bennett, the best catcher of his generation, is born.
1887 St. Louis trades star outfielder Curt Welch and another player to Philadelphia for a trio of players.
1888 NL owners have a meeting from Nov. 21-22 in which they decide to pay players on a graded system. This will help cause the creation of the Players League a year later.
1888 Pittsburgh purchases Ned Hanlon from Detroit for $2,500.
1893 A meeting is held to revive the Western League. Ban Johnson becomes the newly re-founded league’s president. He’ll turn it into the AL several years later.
1897 Andy High, NL infielder in the 1920s and 1930s, is born.
1905 Hall of Fame third baseman Fred Lindstrom is born. He doesn’t deserve to be in Cooperstown, but he is anyway.
1908 Paul Richards—the “Wizard of Waxahachie” is born—in Waxahachie, Tex., of course. He’ll be a great manager in the 1950s, earning him his nickname.
1911 Hal Chase resigns as manager of the Yankees. Lucky them.
1920 Legendary Cardinals outfielder Stan Musial is born.
1928 The Cardinals announce that Billy Southworth will be their player-manager in 1929. He’ll replace fellow Hall of Fame skipper Bill McKechnie, whom the club fired despite his guiding them to the World Series in 1928.
1933 The Cubs send three players and $65,000 to the Phillies for Chuck Klein. It’s a damn shame they couldn’t get the park effect to go with Klein, though. Once he leaves the Baker Bowl, his numbers are never nearly as impressive as they were in Philadelphia.
1934 The Yankees make one of the best moves in franchise history, sending money and players to the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals team in return for Joe DiMaggio.
1940 Tommy McCraw, AL first baseman, is born.
1946 Ed Barrow, at age 78, resigns as the chairman of the board of the Yankees.
1949 Bill Veeck sells the Indians to insurance executive Ellis Ryan for $2.2 million.
1950 The Indians release player-manager Lou Boudreau.
1955 In a struggle for power, Little League founder Carl Stotz sues the organization for breach of contract. Stotz will lose the power struggle.
1958 Hall of Fame slugger Mel Ott dies at age 49 in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
1959 It’s the first-ever transaction on the first-ever day of interleague trading. The Red Sox send Dick Gernert to the Cubs for Jim Marshall and Dave Hillman. Its OK—none of them ever heard of you, either.
1960 The Tigers hire Bob Scheffing as their new manager. They previously approached Casey Stengel, but he turned them down. The Tigers will win 101 games in 1961, 30 more than in 1960, but finish in second place anyway – behind the Yankees, who fired Stengel after the 1960 World Series.
1962 Dick Schofield Jr., weak-hitting shortstop whose dad was also a big leaguer, is born.
1964 The Giants trade Jose Cardenal to the Angels.
1969 The Indians trade Jose Cardenal to the Cardinals for Vada Pinson.
1969 Houston purchases pitcher Mike Marshall from the Pilots/Brewers. (They were the Pilots in 1969 but would be the Brewers in 1970).
1969 Ken Griffey Jr. is born.
1972 The Cubs trade Billy North to the A’s.
1977 The Angels sign free agent Lyman Bostock.
1978 The Yankees sign free agent pitcher Tommy John.
1980 Hank Blalock, All-Star infielder at ages 22-23 whose career completely fizzled, is born.
1980 The Yankees fire manager Dick Howser, who led the club to a 103-59 record in 1980 before being swept in the ALCS by the Royals. (As it happens, the Royals will also lose their manager in the 1980-81 offseason and hire Howser as their new manager). At least one source says Howser resigned from the Yankees, but I’m pretty sure he was forced out.
1982 Frank McCormick, seven-time All-Star and star first baseman for the 1940 world champion Reds, dies at age 71.
1987 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent Pedro Astacio.
1988 Carl Hubbell, terrific Hall of Fame pitcher, dies at age 85. He was a long time teammate of fellow Nov. 21 deceased Mel Ott.
1995 Don Mattingly retires due to back issues.
1997 The Giants sign free agent catcher Brent Mayne.
2000 Bud Selig tells a U.S. Senate panel that it’s time for “sweeping changes” in the game’s economic makeup.
2003 The Cardinals trade Tino Martinez to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
2006 The Mets sign free agent left fielder Moises Alou.
2007 Milwaukee signs intense veteran catcher Jason Kendall.
2011 24-year-old Dutch-born Mariners player Greg Halman is stabbed to death in a hotel room in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Authorities arrest Halman’s brother.
2011 Texas sign closer Joe Nathan, ending his lengthy stint in Minnesota. He’ll save 37 games and post a 2.80 ERA for the Rangers in 2012.