Ten years ago today marked a franchise milestone of sorts for the Seattle Mariners. On that day, the M’s won a game that was important for two reasons.
On Aug. 19, 2003, the Mariners thrashed the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-1. That easy win was the 2,000th win in franchise history. That’s nice. It gave the franchise a cumulative record of 2,000-2,212. That sounds less nice; 212 games under .500. Yeah, but as it happens, 212 games under sea level is Seattle’s high-water mark.
The Mariners, like all expansion teams, had a rocky start. Pretty much all clubs have some rough sledding when they start up, but in the case of Seattle, it was an unusually long-lasting rough ride. In their first 14 seasons, the Mariners suffered 14 losing records. Not until 1991 did they break through with a winning campaign, and they didn’t consistently top .500 until 1995.
That stretch set them back by quite a bit. A loss on July 31, 1994, put the Mariners 388 games under .500 (1,206-1,594). That’s a mighty big hole. To dig their way out, a team would need to win 90 games a year for 22 straight seasons. That’s tough.
But Seattle did start digging. With a terrific core of talent including Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Alex Rodriguez, and Randy Johnson, they become a consistent winner in the 1990s and early 2000s. The culmination of this was a spectacular 116-46 season in 2001. They followed that up with 93-win campaigns in 2002 and 2003. That first 15-plus years put Seattle in quite a deficit, but they kept chipping away at it.
Which takes us back to Aug. 19, 2003. That win that day gave the Mariners a record of 76-49 on the year (and 794-618 since their low point: a .562 clip). It was all downhill from there. They dropped six straight and eight of their next 10. While they rallied some, after Aug. 19 they had a losing record: 17-20. The next year, Seattle’s glorious decade came crashing down with a 99-loss season.
Seattle had made nice progress digging its way out of its early hole, but Aug. 19, 2003, would be as close as they ever get to .500. In fact, in the decade since then, they’ve given it all back. As I write this, Seattle is 388 games under .500 (2,720-3,108). Not only is that 176 games worse than where they stood 10 years ago, but it’s equal to their old low point. A little over a month ago, they set a new all-time low: 391 games under .500, achieved on July 11, 2013.
212 games under obviously isn’t the best all-time franchise record the Mariners ever had. (That would be a .500 2-2 record after their fourth game ever), but that’s because it took the Mariners a long time to dig that hole for themselves. A loss on Aug. 16, 1983, put then 212 games under .500 (412-624) and since then, Aug. 19, 2003, serves as the franchise high tide—and that moment was 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other 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 the Reds sign free agent Dontrelle Willis.
1,000 days since the Giants sign free agent Aubrey Huff.
1,000 days since the Mets hire Terry Collins as their new manager.
2,000 days since the Phillies release pitcher Adam Eaton.
3,000 days since the Royals sweep a three-game series after 78 straight series played without sweeping their opponent.
4,000 days since the 20-game winning streak by the Moneyball A’s ends when Brad Radke and the Twins top them.
4,000 days since brothers Andy and Alan Benes square off against each other as starting pitchers in today’s Cardinals-Cubs game.
7,000 days since Andre Dawson is hit by pitch twice in one game, something that happens only one other time to him. Here’s what makes it so cool: these two games were exactly one year apart. This one is June 20, 1994, and the other is June 20, 1995.
8,000 days since Cal Eldred makes his big league debut. He was great until he blew his arm out.
10,000 days since the Indians sign what’s left of knuckler Phil Niekro.
10,000 days since star Dodgers hitter Pedro Guerrero ruptures a tendon in his left knee while sliding into third base. Ow.
20,000 days since Cubs announce that manager Leo Durocher has stepped down.
30,000 days since Phillies star Chuck Klein hits for the cycle.
1897 Silver King, 1880s pitching phenom, plays his last game.
1899 Ned Hanlon and Frank Selee, two Hall of Fame managers who are the best skippers of their era, manage against each other for the 100th time.
1900 Patsy Tebeau manages his last game after a decade in the dugout. He was the leading proponent of dirty, roughhouse baseball in the 1890s, and now that the game is cleaning up, there is no place for him in it.
1900 Rube Waddell posts two complete-game victories in one doubleheader. He’s pitching for Milwaukee in the AL, which will become a major league the next year. In the first game, he pitches a 17-inning complete game for the win and then throws another five shutout innings in an abbreviated second game.
1902 Orioles outfielder Kip Selbach commits four errors in one game.
1905 The Tigers spend $900 to purchase a minor league prospect named Ty Cobb. Good move.
1906 Tex Hughson, pitcher, is born.
1907 Speedy outfielder Clyde Milan makes his big league debut.
1911 The Braves sign Cy Young, who was just cut by the Cleveland Indians.
1911 The Reds beat Christy Mathewson and the New York Giants. Previously, Cincinnati had lost 22 straight decisions to Mathewson.
1912 The A’s purchase Bullet Joe Bush from Missola in the Union Association.
1913 Max Carey enters the day with four homers hit over the fence in his career (begun in 1910). So you can imagine how surprising it is when he does it twice in one game on this day.
1915 The Giants purchase Rube Benton from the Reds for $3,000.
1917 New York authorities arrest John McGraw and Reds manager Christy Mathewson for trying to play a professional baseball game on Sunday, in violation of city ordinances.
1917 Ty Cobb is third base coach for the Tigers on this day, and his actions cause a rule change. When baserunner George Burns holds up at third at one point, Cobb physically shoves him toward home. A new rule soon passes: coaches can’t touch players.
1921 Ty Cobb belts his 3,000th hit. It takes him just 2,135 games to do that.
1923 Cubs catcher Bob O’Farrell drives in four runs despite being held hitless. Go figure.
1925 Philly finally beats Cincinnati starting pitcher Pete Donohue. Previously, he’d beaten the Phils 20 times in a row.
1930 The Chicago White Sox purchase Luke Appling from Atlanta in the Southern Association.
1930 Goose Goslin has perhaps the best game of his career, belting three homers in a game for the second time and setting a personal record with 13 total bases. He’s 4-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs in the Browns’ 7-0 win over the A’s.
1931 Lefty Grove wins his 16th straight game, a personal best. His line during the stretch: 16-0, 14 GS, 13 CG, 137 IP, 133 IP, 45 R, 34 ER, 32 BB, 78 K, 2.23 ERA. His season record is 25-2 at this point.
1934 Moose Solters hits for the cycle.
1935 Bobby Richardson, Yankees infielder, is born.
1939 Boston rookie Ted Williams belts his first grand slam. He’ll retire with 17.
1941 Hal Newhouser walks 10 batters in a game for the only time but wins anyway: Tigers 12, Yankees 3.
1945 The Phillies have a Hall of Famer take the mound for the start against the Reds: Jimmie Foxx. That’s right, the first baseman. And he does pretty well, too, getting the win and everything. His line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K for a Game Score of 59. The Phillies win, 4-2.
1948 Six thousand people attend the funeral for Babe Ruth at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
1950 Gillette, the safety razor company, pays $800,000 for TV rights to the World Series and an additional $175,000 for radio rights.
1951 Eddie Gaedel makes his famous pinch-hit plate appearance with the St. Louis Browns. Number one-eighth draws a walk on four pitches and immediately is lifted for a pinch runner.
1952 Robin Roberts sets a personal best with his ninth straight win. His line in that time: 11 G, 9 GS, 8 CG, 84.1 IP, 84 H, 29 R, 29 ER, 10 BB, 34 K for a 3.09 ERA.
1954 There is a bizarre end to the White Sox-Orioles game. Chicago leads 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a full count to Clint Courtney, the last batter. Suddenly, a torrential rainstorm erupts, and the umpires stop the game for 45 minutes. When play resumes, Courtney takes one pitch for strike three, ending the game.
1955 Harry the Hat Walker plays in his last game.
1955 The St. Louis Cardinals sign bonus baby Lindy McDaniel.
1957 The board of directors for the New York Giants votes 8-1 to move to San Francisco.
1958 In a minor league game, all starters for the Douglas Copper Kings homer in a 22-8 win over the Chihuahua Dorados of the Arizona-Mexico League.
1958 Gary Gaetti, forever-lasting third baseman, is born.
1960 Ron Darling, Ivy Leaguer turned New York Met, is born.
1960 The Dodgers lose, 1-0, to the Cardinals in a heartbreaking bottom of the ninth. St. Louis scores without getting a hit and barely getting the ball out of the infield. After a leadoff walk, a sacrifice hit advances the runner to second, then there’s an intentional walk to set up a force. After a fly out advances the winning run to third, an error by the third baseman lets the game’s only run score.
1961 Reds manager Fred Hutchinson tries something new. He sends signals to his third base coach via shortwave receiver. It backfires when the press box and stadium public address system pick it up in the first inning.
1962 Mickey Mantle sets a personal best with seven RBIs in one game. He’s 3-for-4 with a double, homer, and two stolen bases. (It’s the ninth and last time he steals two bases in one game.)
1965 Cincinnati stud Jim Maloney throws his first no-hitter. He walks 10, hits a batter, and has one batter reach on error, but he also fans 12.
1966 Veteran skipper Birdie Tebbetts manages his last game.
1966 Woody Williams, starting pitcher, is born.
1967 Leo Durocher becomes the eighth manager to win 1,500 games. His record at this point is 1,500-1,250. Beating him to the mark are Fred Clarke, John McGraw, Connie Mack, Bucky Harris, Joe McCarthy, Bill McKechnie, and Casey Stengel.
1968 Bob Gibson wins his 15th straight decision. His line during the winning streak: 16 G, 15 CG, 146 IP, 89 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 25 BB, 124 K, and a 0.68 ERA.
1968 Jerry Koosman has possibly the best game of his career, but doesn’t get the win. He pitches 12 shutout innings for the Mets, but they lose in 17 to the Giants, 1-0.
1969 The White Sox sign amateur free agent Brian Downing.
1969 Juan Marichal posts a Game Score of 104, which is only the third-best mark of his career. His line: 13.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K. Despite his brilliance, he gets stuck with the loss when Tommie Agee belts a walk-off homer for a 1-0 Mets win over the Giants.
1969 Ken Holtzman throws a no-hitter despite fanning zero batters. This is the only time that’s happened in a full nine-inning no-hitter since Sad Sam Jones did it in 1923. Hank Aaron belts a fly to left in the seventh inning, but the wind holds it up. The Cubs beat the Braves, 3-0.
1969 John “Swede” Hollison, the last pitcher to have worked from the pitcher’s box, dies at age 99. He threw four innings with Chicago in 1892. He’s also the last living former teammate of Cap Anson.
1970 The Senators release Johnny Roseboro.
1973 Big Daddy Rick Reuschel fans 13 in one game, his personal high.
1974 Joe Morgan drives in a personal best seven runs in one game, which Cincinnati wins 15-2 over Philadelphia.
1974 Jim Rice makes his big league debut.
1975 Houston hires Bill Virdon to manage. He’s still the only manager to last more than 1,000 games with the team.
1978 Jim Rice plays center field for the only time. He starts the game there and lasts six innings before moving over to left. The left fielder he replaced? Carlton Fisk. That must have been one heckuva defense performance by the Red Sox that day.
1978 For some reason, the Phillies have Mike Schmidt batting leadoff, and he responds with his only leadoff home run.
1980 Eddie Murray belts his 100th home run.
1980 Darrell Evans hits his 200th home run.
1981 Sabermetric darling Bobby Grich has his best batting streak max at 21 games. He’s 33-for-75 and a .440/.517/.787 in that stretch.
1981 Terry Francona makes his big league debut.
1982 Rickey Henderson steals his 300th career base. It’s his 475th career game.
1982 Infielder J.J. Hardy is born.
1982 Young Braves pitcher Pascual Perez is going to make his first start at home in Fulton County Stadium for the club, but he can’t find the place. Specifically, he can’t find the exit ramp for the stadium and ends up driving around Atlanta for hours. He knows the highway circles the city, and Perez doesn’t know any other exit ramps that well (he’s new to the team, after all), but because he keeps missing the exit, he ends up circling the city three times, missing his start.
1983 Jerry Koosman wins his 200th game, and his record stands at 200-188.
1983 The Dodgers trade Dave Stewart, a player to be named later, and $200,000 to Texas for Rick Honeycutt. Stewart and Honeycutt both will achieve their most lasting success as teammates with Oakland in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
1986 The Royals beat the Rangers, 9-8 in extra innings, in a wild game. Texas blows a 7-1 lead but comes back after Kansas City leads, 8-7.
1986 Seattle trades Dave Henderson to the Boston Red Sox.
1988 Carlton Fisk enjoys his only five-hit game, going 5-for-5 with two RBI and a triple. He’s a 40-year old catcher, but he still hits a triple.
1988 Jay Buhner, a former Yankees prospect traded to the Mariners, plays in his first game in Yankee Stadium. The Seattle slugger becomes the first righty and only fourth player overall to homer into the center field stands.
1990 Jose Offerman makes his major league debut and homers in his first at-bat.
1991 Tim Raines has his worst game, according to WPA, at least. He goes 1-for-5 as the Tigers top the White Sox, 3-2. Raines’ WPA is –0.330 on the day.
1992 Edgar Martinez belts the first of nine career grand slams.
1992 Florida signs Luis Castillo as an amateur free agent.
1992 Von Hayes plays in his last big league game.
1992 Bret Boone makes his big league debut, making his family baseball’s first three-generation clan.
1992 Tom Glavine wins a career-best 13th consecutive decision, making him 19-3 on the year. Glavine’s line during his winning streak is: 16 GS, 4 CG, 118.1 IP, 96 H, 33 R, 28 ER, 36 BB, 63 K, and a 2.13 ERA.
1992 Pittsburgh signs amateur free agent Jose Guillen.
1995 Andre Dawson connects for his 500th career double.
1995 Tampa names its first GM, Atlanta assistant GM Chuck LeMarr.
1996 Kevin Brown wins his 100th game for a 100-83 career record. He’ll be 111-61 after this.
1996 Paul Molitor hits a career-best four extra-base hits in one game: two doubles and two homers.
1998 The Cubs sign free agent Gary Gaetti.
1998 Tim Wakefield pitches nine full innings but doesn’t strike out a single batter. He wins, 11-1, with five walks and five hits allowed in nine innings.
1999 Ramon Ortiz makes his big league debut.
1999 Former Cubs first baseman Dee Fondy dies. He ended his career with exactly 1,000 hits.
2000 Jeff Bagwell belts his 300th home run.
2001 Manny Ramirez hits his 14th career grand slam, exactly one year after No. 13.
2001 Tony Armas Jr. pitches 8.2 innings. In his 167 career starts, this is the closest he ever comes to that elusive complete game. He has the most starts by any pitcher without a completion. Second place is current Tigers star Max Scherzer, with 157.
2002 Texas trades Ismael Valdez to the Mariners.
2003 Barry Bonds hits the eighth of his 10 walk-off home runs.
2004 The Chicago Cubs sign veteran shortstop Neifi Perez.
2005 The Red Sox release Mark Bellhorn.
2005 The Mariners release infielder Scott Spiezio.
2006 Giants manager Felipe Alou endures his 1,000th loss. He’s 1,016-1,000 on his career, which is nearly over.
2006 Seattle trades eternal pitcher Jamie Moyer to the Phillies.
2007 Johan Santana fans 17, a new Minnesota Twins record. He does it in just eight innings, allowing two hits and no walks in a 1-0 victory over Texas.
2008 San Diego trades Greg Maddux to the Dodgers.
2009 St. Louis signs free agent John Smoltz.
2010 Roger Clemens is indicted on six counts of perjury for allegedly lying to Congress during hearings on performance enhancing drugs.
2011 The Cubs announce that GM Jim Hendry has been fired. Hendry had been informed on July 22, but he agreed to stay on for that year’s draft class signings.