Ten years ago today, lightening struck for a second time on the South Side of Chicago. It was a case of déjà vu all over again that absolutely no one wanted—not players, not coaches, and certainly not umpires.
Tuesday night April 15, 2003, was the first in a three-game series between the hometown Chicago White Sox and visiting Kansas City Royals.
The last time these teams met at this park, something terrible happened. A shirtless moron and his shirtless moron son ran onto the field and began an unprovoked assault on Royals first base coach Tony Gamboa, causing permanent hearing damage in one of his ears. Now, seven months later, these teams were playing again when the unthinkable happened again.
In the bottom of the eighth, as Carlos Lee flew out to right to end the inning, things seemed perfectly normal. First-base umpire Laz Diaz watched the arc of the ball in the sky, perfectly routine work. There was no sign that anything out of the ordinary was about to occur.
Then, Diaz felt someone grab him by the waist. Okay, that’s not good. This time it was just one fan, and he was wearing a shirt. This time it was an umpire and not a first-base coach under assault. But in most all other particulars it was pretty much the same. Along the first-base line, some alcohol-fueled jerk decided to get his 15 minutes of infamy by assaulting someone for no reason.
And boy, if you’re going to be an alcohol-fueled jerk assaulting someone by first base for no reason, this was the worst time possible to do it. You see, on the field were a bunch of Kansas City Royals. They’d talked to each other before the game about how they were in the same place where Gamboa suffered a senseless assault, and now here was another one in the exact same place.
If you’re going to attack an umpire, Diaz isn’t the one to go after. He was only 40 years old and a former marine. He was able to push the drunken moron off him.
Then came the Kansas City cavalry. If any team ever was willing to beat the ever-loving tar out of some idiot fan, it was the April 15, 2003, edition of the Kansas City Royals. Right fielder Brandon Berger screamed in from his position after catching the third out, and his fellow teammates soon joined him. Kansas City began administering a real Royal beating, kicking and stomping the idiot.
Soon it was over, and it turned out to be an aberration. Fired up, the Royals scored four times in the top of the ninth to come from behind for a nice 8-5 victory.
After two straight KC series marred on the South Side, no one else has attacked anyone like that again at 35th and Shields. But it happened, 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousands days ago today). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Aramis Ramirez belts three home runs in one game.
1,000 days since Cubs manage Lou Piniella announces he’ll retire by the end of the year.
1,000 days since Dodger manager Don Mattingly (well, Joe Torre is still manager, but he’d been ejected earlier in tonight’s game) makes a bonehead mistake: losing track of mound visits. He visits the mound for the second time in an inning, forcing him to bring in an unprepared reliever.
3,000 days since Tampa signs aging pitcher Hideo Nomo.
5,000 days since Wade Boggs gets his 3,000th hit. It’s a home run, his last career home run. He kisses home plate when he’s done rounding the bases.
5,000 days since Frank Thomas smacks his 300th career home run.
9,000 days since Dennis Eckersley’s worst relief stint, allowing five runs on seven hits in one inning during a 7-6 A’s loss to the Yankees.
1899 John McGraw makes his debut as a manager. He turned 26 years old just eight days earlier.
1904 Miller Huggins, diminutive second baseman, makes his big league debut.
1907 Nap Rucker pitches in his first major league contest. The hard-throwing fastballer will be a terrific pitcher snake-bit by terrible offensive support.
1909 Spitballing pitcher Jack Quinn makes his big league debut. He’ll last until 1933, when he’s 49 years ago.
1909 On Opening Day, Red Ames throws a no-hitter through nine innings, but the game goes into extra frames, and he allows seven hits in the 10th.
1910 Eddie Mayo is born. As a wartime player, he’ll be runner up in AL MVP voting in 1945.
1911 Pete Alexander, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, makes his big league debut.
1911 Walter Johnson fans four batters in the fifth inning against Boston.
1913 The Yankees select Bill McKechnie off waivers from the Boston Braves.
1915 Rube Marquard throws a no-hitter. (The loser is hard-luck pitcher Nap Rucker).
1920 Jack Quinn gets to 100 wins. His record is 100-88. He has over 140 more victories to go.
1922 Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt fans 10 batters in a game, a personal best.
1924 Boy wonder Bucky Harris manages his first game. He’ll manage virtually nonstop in the big leagues through 1956. Today’s game pits Harris’ Senators against Connie Mack’s A’s. It’ll be the first of their record 456 matchups.
1924 Hall of Fame outfielder Al Simmons makes his big league debut. So does fellow Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom, fellow A’s starter Max Bishop, and strong-armed Pirates shortstop Glenn Wright.
1931 Ed Bailey, six-time All Star catcher, is born.
1933 Schoolboy Rowe, standout pitcher for the Tigers, makes his big league debut.
1935 The Reds return Johnny Mize to the Cardinals following a previous purchase. Mistake.
1940 Willie Davis, Dodgers star, is born.
1940 Woodie Fryman, long-lasting pitcher, is born.
1941 Jocko Conlan becomes a full-time big league umpire.
1944 The A’s sign aging free agent Al Simmons.
1945 Ted Sizemore is born. He’ll have a nice run as an NL second baseman.
1946 Mel Ott smashes his 511th and final home run.
1953 Willie Mays’ mom, Annie, dies at age 37 while giving birth to her 11th child.
1954 For the first time in over a half-century, big league baseball returns to Baltimore.
1955 Phenom pitcher Herb Score makes his big league debut.
1957 Former A’s star pitcher Jack Coombs dies at age 74. He won 31 games in 1910 and 28 in 1911.
1958 Herb Score returns to the mound after nearly being blinded by a line drive 11 months and eight days before. He allows three runs on four walks and four hits in just three innings. He does fan six but gets the loss.
1958 The longest NL opener in 23 years takes three hours and 40 minutes. It’s a Braves-Pirates game that goes 14 innings.
1958 Major league baseball now stretches from coast to coast, as the Giants trample the Dodgers, 8-0.
1958 Many notable big league players make their debuts today, including Hall of Fame first baseman Orlando Cepeda (in that first West Coast game), center fielder Vada Pinson, Tony Taylor, and Jim Davenport.
1959 Tough Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson makes his big league debut.
1960 The Mets name Southern Association president Charles Hurth as their first general manager.
1961 Cy Falkenberg dies at age 81. He won 23 games for the 1913 Indians, and the next year won 25 in the Federal League.
1964 Atlanta breaks ground on Fulton County Stadium even though they don’t yet have a team.
1964 Phil Niekro makes his big league debut with the Milwaukee Braves.
1966 Fritz Peterson, wife-swapping pitcher and one-time 20-game winner, makes his big league debut.
1966 Harmon Killebrew gets his 1,000th hit. It takes him 1,112 games.
1966 For the first time, Pete Rose plays third base. He won’t play there again for nearly a decade.
1967 Young stud Reds prospect Gary Nolan makes his big league debut.
1968 The Astros beat the Mets, 1-0, in 24 innings. Here’s how the run scores: single, balk, intentional walk, productive groundout, another intentional walk, and then an error by the shortstop brings in the winning run. It’s the longest shutout of the 20th century.
1969 Gaylord Perry issues a career-high four intentional walks in one game.
1969 Jeromy Burnitz is born.
1970 Ripper Collins dies at age 66. He was a star first baseman with the 1930s Cardinals.
1971 Mickey Harris dies at age 54. The reliever led the 1950 AL in games, games finished, and saves. In an earlier incarnation as a starting pitcher, he made the 1946 All-Star team.
1972 Juan Marichal wins, giving him a career record 113 games over .500 (222-109). It’s all downhill from here.
1972 Bill Virdon makes his managerial debut.
1972 The Cardinals trade Jerry Reuss to Houston for a pair of players.
1975 Darrell Evans hits his 100th home run.
1976 The newly renovated Yankee Stadium hosts its first game, an 11-4 triumph over the Twins.
1977 The Expos lose the first game in Olympic Stadium, 7-2 to Philadelphia.
1977 Atlanta retires No. 44 for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
1978 Andre Dawson belts the first of his five career walk-off home runs.
1978 Milton Bradley, talented-but-troubled outfielder (that’s probably a too-nice way of putting it), is born.
1979 The Mets sign amateur free agent Jose Oquendo, who will become a Cardinals organizational fixture.
1985 White Sox starting pitcher John Danks is born.
1986 Don Sutton ties his personal-worst Game Score: 6. His line: 0.2 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, and 0 K.
1987 Juan Nieves throws the first no-hitter in Brewers history. He walks five and fans seven in a 7-0 win over the Orioles.
1989 A ninth-inning single by Wade Boggs lifts his career average to its all-time peak: .356421 (1,410 hits in 3,956 at bats).
1991 Willie Randolph gets his 2,000th hit. It’s taken him almost exactly 2,000 games (1,992).
1991 Jeff Bagwell launches his first home run.
1993 Sparky Anderson wins his 2,000th game.
1993 Andre Dawson hits his 400th home run.
1993 A Pirates victory pushes Jim Leyland 57 games over .500, his all-time peak (599-542).
1996 This might be Sammy Sosa’s worst game ever. He’s 0-for-5 with five strikeouts.
1997 On the 50th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier, Jackie Robinson’s number 42 is retired for all teams.
1998 It’s the first interleague doubleheader: the Yankees and Mets at Shea Stadium.
1998 Greg Maddux posts his 21st straight Quality Start, his longest such streak. He’s 11-2 with a 1.55 ERA in 157 innings.
1998 Kevin Brown has his 15th consecutive Quality Start, his longest streak. Today’s game is also his best one-day WPA performance: a complete-game shutout in a 1-0 win for the Padres over the Giants for a 0.827 WPA.
2000 Edgar Martinez launches his 200th home run.
2000 Jim Thome blasts his 200th home run.
2000 Cal Ripken joins the 3,000-hit club.
2001 Todd Hollandsworth hits three homers in one game.
2004 Houston’s Brandon Backe strikes out the side against the Brewers on the bare minimum nine pitches.
2004 Major league baseball begins its tradition of Jackie Robinson days, in which everyone who wants to can wear No. 42.
2006 The Yankees sign free agent Carlos Pena. It’s still a few years until his career takes off, though.
2009 In a first, every single baseball player wears No. 42 today. It’s to honor Jackie Robinson, of course.
2009 Ian Kinsler hits for the cycle and gets six hits in a game for Texas.
2011 Jim Leyland posts his 1,500th win, giving him a record of 1,500-1,525.