Ten years ago, one of the greatest and most bizarrely humorous controversies ever to hit 21st-century baseball happened. It involved one of the game’s best recent traditions, and it added an extra level to silly to a fun seventh-inning stretch diversion.
As hopefully everyone out in reader-land knows, for the last 20 years the good people of Milwaukee have given the sporting world a gloriously goofy way to celebrate the seventh-inning stretch. They have a handful of people dressed up in these giant foam rubber outfits meant to resemble various sausages, and they race around the edge of the field.
There’s an Italian sausage, a Polish sausage, a brat, and a hot dog. It’s to reflect the culinary and ethnic variety of Milwaukee. (And if you’ve ever attended a baseball game there, you know damn well these are a people who take their tailgating seriously.)
Anyhow, by 2003 the sausage race was already a well-established and rightly beloved fixture of Milwaukee baseball. (Of course, it’s since been imitated by several other teams, most successfully the Washington Nationals and their presidents’ race.) But 10 years ago today, a villain entered the picture: Randall Simon.
Normally the Pirates’ starting first baseman, on this night Simon had the game off. Well, he wasn’t in the starting lineup at any rate. The team did call on him to pinch hit with two out in the top of the seventh, just before the seventh-inning stretch. He made a routine out to end the frame and retreated back to the dugout. So far, so normal.
But then the fun began. The sausages came out and, as sausages like to do, they started running around the infield. And here was Simon back in the dugout, but still with his bat in his hands.
Apparently, he was in a mischievous mood. I can’t imagine that he actually meant any malice. (Maybe he had money on the brat!) But the world’s most famous distance-running delicacies went past the visitor’s dugout, and Simon had his moment of notoriety.
With the bat still in hand, Simon tapped the top of the Italian sausage with his bat. Down goes Italian sausage! Down goes Italian sausage! Those foam rubber customs are unwieldy, after all.
Sure enough, to the surprise of the 22,490 in attendance, Simon knocked out one of the racers. In fact, he knocked out two of them. When the Italian sausage fell, it landed on the hot dog, taking it down, too. I told you those things were unwieldy. The Polish sausage stopped to try to help them up, but the brat saw this as an opportunity and motored home to glory, winning the race with ease.
There was some controversy about Simon’s actions hitting the sausage, but there was no malice and no damage to any racers. It wasn’t nearly as massive as several years later when Jayson Werth led the Nationals in an attempt to beat up all non-Teddy Roosevelt racing presidents.
It was definitely the strangest moment in the folklore of meat racing, and it happened 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Atlanta hires Fredi Gonzalez as their post-Bobby Cox manager.
2,000 days since baseball owners unanimously vote to extend Bud Selig’s commissioner contract through 2012.
4,000 days since Alex Rodriguez’s 275th home run is his first walk-off homer, but what a walk-off homer. It’s a walk-off grand slam, the first of a record three A-Rod has hit.
8,000 days since Dave Winfield muscles his 400th home run out of the park.
8,000 days since San Diego’s Fred McGriff hits a grand slam for the second day in a row.
20,000 days since the Yankees, down three games to one in the 1958 World Series, begin their comeback. Bob Turley hurls a five-hit, complete-game shutout over the Braves for a 7-0 win.
1874 Jack Powell, 200-game winner, is born.
1886 Joe Start, one of the best baseball players of his generation, appears in his final game. He’s 43 years old.
1894 Baltimore’s Steve Brodie gets six hits in one game.
1901 The Pirates win, putting the career record of manager Fred Clarke over .500 (298-297), where it will stay. Though Clarke is rarely thought of as a manager, for a brief spell he was the all-time winningest manager until John McGraw overcame him.
1902 A’s 4, Red Sox 2 (17) in a game in which Rube Waddell and Bill Dinneen both go the distance.
1904 Iron Man Joe McGinnity wins two games in one day, though in an oddity for him, both wins are in relief, not two complete games.
1912 The White Sox purchase pitcher Eddie Cicotte from the Red Sox. He’ll be a star with Chicago until he’s forced out of the game as one of the Black Sox.
1914 The Red Sox purchase Babe Ruth from Baltimore in the International League for more than $25,000.
1918 Larry Cheney of the Dodgers throws five wild pitches in one game.
1921 Hippo Vaughn plays his last game. It’s just a few years after he was a premier pitcher.
1921 For the only time in his career, Babe Ruth gets eight at-bats in one game. He’s 1-for-8 with an RBI and two whiffs as the Yankees lose, 10-9, to the White Sox.
1921 Pittsburgh’s director of public safety, Robert J. Alderdice, says Pirates fans can keep balls hit into the stands.
1925 Dazzy Vance becomes the only pitcher ever to club an inside-the-park home run off fellow Hall of Famer Pete Alexander.
1925 Pie Traynor sets a record for third baseman by starting four double plays in one game.
1927 Babe Ruth drives in a personal-best seven runs in one game. He’ll tie that mark three times. In this game, Ruth is 5-for-6 with two doubles and two homers. His 13 total bases in one game also are a personal record (which he tied in his last great game in 1935).
1927 Ted Lyons ties a personal high with his ninth straight quality start. He went 6-3 with 83 IP, 64 H, 28 R, 16 ER, 19 BB, 12 K, and a 1.73 ERA in that span. Only 12 strikeouts in nine games! It was a very different time. This game was also Lyons’ 17th straight complete game, but that wasn’t a personal best.
1929 Billy Southworth plays his last game. He’ll become a Hall of Fame manager. (He began his managing career this year, but it won’t take off until the 1940s.)
1929 Wally Post, 1950s slugger for the Reds and Phillies, is born.
1931 Hall of Fame third baseman Fred Lindstrom breaks his ankle sliding into third base.
1932 Ben Chapman of the Yankees hits three homers in a game, two of which were inside-the-park jobs.
1936 In a game played in 106-degree heat, the Indians beat the Yankees, 11-4. Cleveland hits five homers, with the temperature helping the ball travel farther.
1937 Joe DiMaggio goes 5-for-5 for the only time. He hits for the cycle, with two home runs.
1938 Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Gordon enjoys the first of 22 career multi-home run games.
1940 The first shutout in the All-Star Game: the NL wins 4-0.
1943 Bucky Harris manages his 3,000th game. (He’s 1,452-1,522 for his career thus far).
1944 Mel Ott goes 0-for-3 with three strikeouts for the only time.
1946 The All-Star Game returns after a one-year wartime hiatus. The AL wins, 12-0.
1948 It’s a very belated major league debut for Satchel Paige.
1951 Hall of Famer outfielder Harry Heilmann dies a month before his 57th birthday.
1953 Philadelphia relieves starting pitcher Robin Roberts in the eighth inning, ending a streak of 28 consecutive complete games for Roberts.
1954 Red Schoendienst has his longest hitting streak max out at 28 games. He goes 48-for-124 with 11 doubles and three triples in that span.
1955 Arch Ward, the Chicago sportswriter who first proposed the All-Star Game, dies.
1955 Willie Wilson, speedy outfielder, is born.
1956 The BBWAA votes 14-12 to establish the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in baseball each year.
1958 The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Anti-Trust Monopoly has hearings on baseball’s anti-trust exemption. Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle and other baseball figures speak. Stengel gives an extended talk in Stengel-ese gibberish that no one can comprehend. When Mantle testifies immediately afterward, he gets a big laugh by deadpanning, “My views are the same as Casey’s.”
1960 The Dodgers release pitcher Tommy Lasorda. He’ll be back.
1961 A ninth-inning, pinch-hit grand slam by Sherm Lollar gives the White Sox a 7-5 win over the Indians.
1961 Cleveland’s Willie Kirkland hits three homers and then comes up in the ninth with a chance for immorality by hitting his fourth homer. He takes a pass on that opportunity, and instead lays down a sacrifice bunt. Give him credit for selflessness, but don’t give Indians manager Jimmy Dykes credit for strategy.
1965 Frank Howard fans seven times in one doubleheader.
1966 Astroturf is installed in Houston’s outfield.
1967 Dick Allen hits his 100th home run.
1968 NL 1, AL 0, in the lowest-scoring All-Star Game ever.
1969 Lou Brock hits his 100th career home run.
1969 Seattle Pilots pitcher Fred Talbot hits a grand slam. In a radio promotion, a listener receives $27,000 for it. As recounted in the book Ball Four, Talbot’s teammates decide to set up a practical joke. They send him a fake telegram from the fan saying he’ll give Talbot $5,000 of his winnings.
1970 Tom Seaver hits his first career home run.
1970 Atlanta’s Chief Nok-a-Homa is joined by his cousin Chief Round-the-Horns. It doesn’t take.
1970 Detroit’s Dalton Jones passes a teammate on the bases after hitting a grand slam. He has to settle for a three-run single.
1971 Vida Blue and Rudy May square off in a great pitchers’ duel. They both go 11 innings, and neither allows a single run. Blue has a Game Score of 100, and May ends at 103, the last time both starters have a Game Score in triple digits. The A’s top the Angels, 1-0, in 20 innings.
1971 5-foot-3 Freddie Patek hits for the cycle.
1971 Leo Foster of Atlanta has one of the most hellish debuts in history. He commits an error on the first ball hit to him. In his first time at the plate, he hits into a double play. In the seventh inning, he tops that by hitting into a triple play.
1973 The Expos and Reds combine for 25 walks in one game. Montreal wins, 11-6.
1973 Mets honcho M. Donald Grant addresses the team, leading reliever Tug McGraw to declare right afterward, “He’s right! He’s right! Just believe! You gotta believe!” After McGraw convinces Grant he didn’t mean to mock his speech, McGraw’s statement becomes the rally cry for the surprising NL pennant winners.
1976 Reggie Smith collects his 200th career home run.
1976 Houston’s Larry Dierker no-hits the Expos.
1976 Tom Yawkey, Red Sox owner and Hall of Famer, dies at age 73 of leukemia.
1977 Phil Niekro picks off three baserunners in one game.
1978 Don Gullett, pitcher, appears in his last game.
1978 Tito Fuentes appears in his last big league game.
1985 The Dodgers trade Al Oliver to the Blue Jays.
1986 Dale Murphy takes the day off, ending his streak at 740 consecutive games played.
1986 Red Lucas, one-time workhorse pitcher for the Reds, dies at age 84.
1988 Chris Speier, of all people, hits for the cycle for the second time.
1988 Nolan Ryan wins his 100th game as an Astro, becoming the seventh pitcher to win 100 or more games for more than one team.
1988 The Rangers release Larry Parrish.
1989 Terry Francona is ejected after an intentional walk. He and umpire Ken Kaiser had an earlier run-in when Francona made a joke when bat splinters hit Kaiser in the throat.
1989 Veteran catcher Bo Diaz appears in his final game.
1992 The Rangers fire manager Bobby Valentine.
1995 Chuck Finley allows his first-ever grand slam after 1,729.1 innings. It’s the 152nd home run hit off him.
1995 Bud Black, the pitcher who later becomes a manager, plays his last game.
1995 Major league debut: Joe Borowski.
1995 A worker installing lights into the Sky Dome falls 25 feet to his death.
1997 The Royals fire manager Bob Boone.
1998 In Triple-A, Benny Agbayani marries his fiancé at home plate.
1998 Bud Selig finally becomes outright commissioner, not just interim.
1999 The uniform Lou Gehrig wore in his “luckiest man” speech sells for $451,541 at an auction.
2000 Milwaukee’s Tyler Houston smacks three home runs in one game.
2002 The All-Star game embarrassingly ends in a tie, 7-7, when both teams run out of pitchers.
2003 The Diamondbacks’ all-time franchise record peaks at 82 games over .500 (491-409).
2005 After 11 years, Coors Field hosts its first 1-0 game, as the Rockies beat the Padres.
2005 Adam Greenberg makes the most unfortunate major league debut ever. He gets beaned in the face his first time up, is removed from the game, and for a long time never plays in the majors again. The Marlins later let him make a token appearance.
2006 Ruben Sierra plays in his final game.
2007 The Angels release Shea Hillenbrand.
2008 Mark Mulder plays his last game.
2009 Florida overcomes a 7-0 deficit versus the Diamondbacks to win, 14-7. They score 10 runs in the eighth.
2010 The Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Rangers. This works out well for Texas.
2011 It’s 3,000 hits for Derek Jeter, and he joins the club in style. He goes 5-for-5 for just the second time in his career with a home run for hit No. 3,000 itself.
2011 Ouch! The Padres have a no-hitter going with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Dodgers only to allow a double and single for a 1-0 loss. The Padres have one hit all game long themselves. Luke Gregerson, the fourth Padre pitcher on the day, gets the loss. Until the ninth, the only hit was a fifth-inning single by Cameron Maybin. Both starting pitchers are pulled in the game for pinch hitters.
2011 Josh Hamilton has the greatest one-game WPA score by any batter in the franchise history of the Rangers (and that includes their days in Washington). He is 4-for-5 with two doubles, a homer, three RBIs, in a 7-6 win for a 1.081 WPA.