Ten years ago today, Mets pitcher Al Leiter made a bit of baseball history. On April 30, 2002, he pitched seven strong innings against the Diamondbacks, allowing just one run for a 6-1 New York victory.
By picking up the win in that game, Leiter became the first pitcher to beat all 30 major league franchises. It was about time he accomplished it. He’d topped franchise No. 29 (the Marlins) way back in June, 1998. Incredibly, it took him just 69 career wins to beat the first 29 clubs. The final piece in the puzzle came 51 victories later.
He was in the right place in the right time. He played on a pair of AL teams, followed by a pair of NL teams. Interleague play didn’t hurt, as that allowed him to defeat the Devil Rays. If you’re curious, here is when Leiter lodged his first triumph against each of the 30 clubs.
Opponent First Win Brewers 9/15/1987 Orioles 9/25/1987 Jays 4/14/1988 Twins 4/19/1988 Angels 5/24/1988 Seattle 5/7/1993 Red Sox 6/17/1993 Royals 7/15/1993 W. Sox 7/21/1993 Yankees 9/25/1993 Indians 5/21/1994 Rangers 7/23/1994 A's 7/28/1995 Tigers 8/17/1995 Pirates 4/4/1996 Padres 4/9/1996 Dodgers 4/20/1996 Mets 5/6/1996 Rockies 5/11/1996 Reds 5/27/1996 Braves 6/28/1996 Astros 7/17/1996 Cards 8/29/1996 Expos 9/15/1996 Cubs 4/2/1997 Giants 6/2/1997 Phils 6/24/1997 Rays 6/10/1998 Marlins 6/21/1998 D-backs 4/30/2002
Leiter became the first man to accomplish this feat, but he’s not the only one. By my count, nine pitchers have done it in all. I’ll list who them in a second, but before I do, take a second and see if you can figure out who any of them might be.
Ready? Thought up your guesses? Okay, here they are, in order of when they completed the achievement by beating their 30th franchise:
Completed Pitcher 4/30/2002 Al Leiter 3/31/2004 Kevin Brown 7/3/2004 Terry Mulholland 9/10/2004 Curt Schilling 5/26/2008 Jamie Moyer 4/19/2009 Randy Johnson 6/12/2010 Barry Zito 7/21/2010 Javier Vazquez 8/10/2010 Vicente Padilla
Yeah, there are some names I wouldn’t have guessed either.
If you know of any others not included, feel free to note them in the comments section at the end of the article.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold in case you want to skim:
1,000 days since Albert Pujols connects for his 11th career grand slam. It’s also his fifth of the season.
5,000 days since Ivan Rodriguez clubs his 100th home run.
7,000 days since the banning of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner ends. He’d been banned over his actions with Yankee star Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner will run the team until his death.
7,000 days since the Expos sign amateur free agent Vladimir Guerrero.
8,000 days since Richard Dotson, young pitcher who won 20 games in 1983, appears in his final major league contest.
9,000 days since Nolan Ryan fans 16 batters in just eight innings work against the Giants. He fanned 12 of the final 13 batters he faces. It’s the most strikeouts he ever has as an Astro and his most in any start fewer than nine innings long.
20,000 days since 18-year-old phenom Von McDaniel tosses a one-hitter versus the Pirates. In his debut earlier, McDaniel had a two-hitter. He’ll end up with seven wins in his entire career, all in 1957.
30,000 days since Vern Law, Pirates ace pitcher, is born.
40,000 days since star infielder Herman Long jumps from the Braves in the NL to the Yankees in the AL.
1850 Charley Jones is born. He’s one of the best sluggers in the early years of major league baseball and the best player whose death date has never been figured out.
1887 The Baker Bowl opens up in Philadelphia. It will host the Phillies until the 1930s.
1887 Right fielder Mike Tiernan makes his big league debut. He’ll become one of the first players to hit 100 home runs.
1887 American Association star Tip O’Neil hits for the cycle.
1898 Second baseman Lou Bierbauer plays his last game. His main claim to fame is inspiring the nickname for Pittsburgh’s club when they pirated him from another squad.
1899 The biggest baseball crowd to date sees Chicago Cub Nixey Callahan allow 12 hits but still get a shutout win over St. Louis. 27,489 are in attendance.
1901 The first extra-inning game in AL history is won by the Red Sox over the A’s, 8-6. It’s also Boston’s first franchise victory.
1903 The American League finally enters New York, as the team that later will be called the Yankees tops Washington, 6-2.
1904 Cy Young tosses seven hitless innings in relief. His hitless streak is now up to nine innings.
1913 Ty Cobb finally comes to the plate in Detroit’s Navin Field after a preseason holdout. The fans give the star a two-minute ovation.
1919 It’s a 20-inning marathon in which both pitchers go the distance. Burleigh Grimes and Joe Oeschger each get a complete game despite the fact that the final score is 9-9. Both teams score three runs in the 19th inning.
1919 George Uhle, a terrific pitcher for a time until he blew his arm out, makes his big league debut.
1922 White Sox pitcher Charlie Robertson tosses a perfect game, beating the Tigers 2-0. It’s the first of three perfect games in franchise history, as he’ll later be joined by Mark Buehrle and Philip Humber.
1923 Former friends turned bitter enemies John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson manage their 200th game against each other. They’ll end up managing 376 times against each other—the most by any two managers in NL history—and end up perfectly even: 186-186-4.
1923 The Yankees sign amateur free agent Lou Gehrig. This works out pretty well for them.
1927 Hall of Fame pitcher Jesse Haines wins his 100th game. He’s 100-91 at the time. He doesn’t deserve to be in Cooperstown, but that’s another issue.
1934 Lou Gehrig hits his 300th career home run. He’s the second member of the club. In that game, future Hall of Fame pitcher Red Ruffing wins his 100th game. His record: 100-136. He’ll go 173-89 for the rest of his career.
1934 Denny Galehouse, pitcher, makes his big league debut. Galehouse is most famous as the pitcher Joe McCarthy starts for the Red Sox against the Indians in the winner-take-all play-in game for the 1948 pennant. (Galehouse and the Red Sox lost that one).
1936 Johnny Mize, Hall of Fame first baseman, swats his first home run.
1937 Carl Hubbell completes his 14th consecutive game. He’s 14-0 in that span. It’s part of his 24-game winning streak. His line in those starts: 126 IP, 87 H, 25 R, 25 ER, 21 BB, 54 K, and a 1.79 ERA.
1939 Lou Gehrig plays in his 2,130th and final consecutive game. It’s the last game of his career. Yankee pitcher Johnny Murphy congratulates him on a routine play and Gehrig knows that he just can’t do this anymore.
1940 Brooklyn tie a then-record by starting the year 9-0.
1940 Brooklyn’s Tex Carleton tosses a no-hitter two months after a Double-A team released him. It’s his second big league appearance since 1938. This is the first game in Crosley Field in Cincinnati after a flood had it under water.
1942 Brooklyn purchases veteran pitcher Schoolboy Rowe from the Tigers.
1944 The Giants annihilate the Dodgers, 26-8. Mel Ott scores six runs in a game for the second time in his career. Teammate Joe Medwick scores a personal-best five runs. Also, Giants catcher Ernie Lombardi gets a personal-best seven RBIs. Topping them all is first baseman Phil Wientraub, who drives in 11 runs. For Brooklyn, relief pitcher Tommy Warren allows 15 runs in five innings of work. It’s the first game of a doubleheader. Brooklyn wins the second one, 5-4.
1944 Jimmie Wilson, one of the least successful managers in baseball history, fills out his final lineup card.
1944 Indians killer Ed Lopat makes his big league debut. He beats the Indians so many times in a row that Cleveland will eventually have a “Beat Eddie Lopat Night” at Municipal Stadium.
1946 Bob Feller tosses his second career no-hitter, beating the Yankees 1-0. He fans 11 and walks five along the way. It’s the first time any visitor has even thrown a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium.
1946 Old Folks Ellis Kinder makes his big league debut.
1949 Rocky Nelson hits a rather unlikely homer against the Cubs. Outfielder Andy Pafko dives to catch it, but the umpire rules he trapped the ball. Irate, Pafko goes up to the umpire to argue, completely forgetting the ball is live. Nelson chugs around the bases for his inside-the-glove home run.
1949 Indians second baseman Bobby Avila makes his big league debut.
1949 Phil Garner is born.
1952 Boston hosts Ted Williams Day at Fenway as he’s about to rejoin the armed forces. He hits two homers in the game, including in his last at-bat before going off to war.
1955 The Kansas City released hard-throwing pitcher Ewell Blackwell.
1957 Stan Musial hits a home run in the top of the 13th inning, the latest he ever goes deep in a game.
1958 Frank Robinson conks the first of 12 walk-off home runs.
1959 At age 32, Duke Snider hits his third and final career inside-the-park home run.
1961 Willie Mays ties a record—and nearly breaks it. He homers four times in one game, and is in the on-deck circle when the game ends. Mays also drives in eight runs, his all-time personal best. In all, the Giants have eight homers as they trash the Braves, 14-4.
1966 In the eighth inning of an Angels-Red Sox slugfest, Rick Reichardt homers twice. His Angels win, 16-9.
1967 Cesar Tovar will end his career with a record five times in which he gets the only hit in a one-hitter. This is the first of those five games. His sixth-inning single is the only hit Barry Moore of Washington allows in a 3-0 win over the Twins.
1967 Bob Buhl, one of the worst-hitting pitchers of all time, plays in his last game.
1969 Rod Carew steals home for the third time on the year. Not bad, given that it’s April and all. It’s versus the Pilots, and Jim Bouton will later note in Ball Four that just before Carew stole home, pitching coach Sal Maglie tells the man on the mound to focus on the plate, Carew isn’t going anywhere.
1969 Jim Maloney tosses his second no-hitter, a 10-0 over Houston in Cincinnati. He fans 13 in the effort.
1969 Phil Niekro completes his ninth straight start, his personal best.
1970 Billy Williams becomes the first National Leaguer to play in 1,000 straight games.
1973 In a random fluke, there are zero baseball games played. This won’t happen again in a non-All-Star break period during the regular season until June 29, 1998.
1974 Nolan Ryan fans 19 batters in a 16-6 Angels win over the Red Sox.
1975 Roy Smalley Jr. makes his big league debut.
1975 Bobby Bonds has his best game ever, according to WPA: 0.674 WPA. He drives in three with one out in the bottom of the ninth that turns a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 Yankees win over the Orioles.
1977 Atlanta sells one-time iron man reliever Mike Marshall to the Rangers.
1977 The Dodgers end the month with a record of 17-3. Not bad for new manager Tommy Lasorda.
1977 Dennis Eckersley pitches 11 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and an equal number of walks. He gets the win, thought not the complete game, as Cleveland tops the Brewers 1-0 in 12 frames.
1979 Dave Winfield triples twice in one game. It’s the only time he ever does so.
1979 In the Carolina League, Gary Pellant homers from both sides of the plate in one inning. He’s only the second person in all of organized baseball history to do that.
1980 The Cardinals purchase veteran lefty Jim Kaat from the Yankees.
1983 Andre Dawson gets his 1,000th career hit.
1985 Dwight Evans has his worst game ever according to WPA. He’s 0-for-6 with a walk, a strikeout, and two double plays grounded into. His WPA: -0.666. His second-worst ever WPA was exactly two years ago on this day.
1988 Dave Winfield drives in two runs, giving him a new April record with 29 RBIs. (Joe Carter breaks the record in 1994.) Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who doesn’t like Winfield for whatever reason, derisively nicknames Winfield Mr. April for his early-season heroics.
1988 Roberto Alomar hits his first home run.
1988 When umpire Dave Pallone accidentally pokes Reds manager Pete Rose in the chest, Rose responds by shoving him. That earns him a 30-game suspension and a $10,000 fine.
1989 The Yankees trade Al Leiter to the Blue Jays for Jesse Barfield.
1989 It’s a Texas tough guy pitchers’ duel as Nolan Ryan tangles with Roger Clemens. The younger man gets the better of it as the Red Sox top the Rangers, 2-1. Ryan fans 11 while Clemens has only six whiffs. Rafael Palmerio hits a home run for the only Ranger run.
1990 Reliever Jeff Shaw makes his major league debut.
1990 The New York Times has a front-page article on the rise of esoteric baseball stats. The headline: “How much is enough?”
1993 Milwaukee Brewer Graeme Lloyd becomes the first Australian-born player to win a game.
1994 The Tigers sell longtime star catcher Lance Parrish to the Pirates.
1995 Infielder Joe Randa makes his big league debut.
1996 Andy Pettitte suffers through his worst career Game Score: 1. His line: 1 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. The Yankees win, though: 13-10 over Baltimore.
1996 Pittsburgh’s Jeff King homers twice in an inning. It’s the second time he’s done that, something no one else has ever done twice before.
1997 Yankee skipper Joe Tore wins his 1,000th career game: 1,000-1,086 record.
1998 Tim Wakefield tosses 30 consecutive strikes from the fourth through sixth innings against the Indians. Naturally, one of the batters he faces who doesn’t get a ball is Shawon Dunston. Baseball began tracking each pitch in 1988, and this is the record for the most consecutive strikes until Bartolo Colon has 38 in a row on April 18, 2012.
1999 3,000 fans show up at Kauffman Stadium in “$hare the wealth” t-shirts for a Yankees-Royals game.
2000 The Brewers release troubled pitcher Jaime Navarro.
2000 Pedro Martinez wins his 11th consecutive decision, his best streak ever. His line in this span: 13 G, 12 GS, 91.1 IP, 50 H, 13 R, 10 ER, 16 BB, 147 K, and a 0.99 ERA. Damn, he was good.
2002 Jim Edmonds connects for home run No. 200.
2003 Toronto selects Doug Davis off waivers from Texas.
2004 Scott Rolen, in his ninth season in the big leagues, lays down his first sacrifice hit. It’s still his only one, with over 8,250 plate appearances in his career.
2005 Nationals fans start chanting, “Let’s go grounds crew!” as they struggle to put a tarp on a soggy field, symbolizing the franchise’s ineptitude. The game is later called off.
2005 Bud Selig and the Players’ Association agree to a 50-game suspension for the first PED offense, 100 for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third one.
2007 Tony LaRussa becomes the fourth big league manager to lose his 2,000th decision. His record: 2,307-2,000.
2008 Julio Franco, age 49, announces his retirement. He had most recently played in the Mexican League.
2008 Seattle releases Brad Wilkerson.
2010 In the bottom of the 11th of a tied Rangers-Mariners game, Seattle’s Eric Byrnes is at the plate when the team calls for a suicide squeeze. Rather incredibly, he takes the pitch, causing Ichiro Suzuki to be tagged out at the plate. Byrnes then strikes out.