Ten years ago today was one of the most famous games in the history of interleague play. It was the Battle for the Big Apple as the Mets took on the Yankees. But it wasn’t just any Mets-Yankees match-up. No, this would be the first time Mets catcher Mike Piazza and Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens faced each other since the 2000 World Series.
In the first inning of Game Two of the 2000 World Series, one of the strangest plays in the history of the Fall Classic occurred. Famously, Piazza hit a broken-bat grounder to second base, and Clemens took a chunk of shattered lumber by the mound and tossed it in front of Piazza. Now, Piazza would’ve been out anyway, but you’re not supposed to do that, and had it been a regular season game Clemens likely would’ve been ejected.
There was more background to Clemens and Piazza, too. In a July 2000 interleague game, Clemens nailed Piazza in the head with a fastball, knocking him out of the game with a concussion.
In 2001, not wanting an ugly rematch, Yankee manager juggled his rotation to avoid pitting Clemens against the Mets in interleague play. But now it was another year and that wasn’t going to happen again.
Now, on June 15, 2002, Clemens and Piazza would face each other again, and that created quite a bit of pre-game buzz. What would happen? Would Mets starting pitcher Shawn Estes throw at Clemens for what he did to the Mets catcher all those years ago? Given what happened and Clemens’ overall reputation as a schmuck, plenty were hoping the Mets would plunk him. The fact that it was a game between two New York teams surely didn’t diminish the hype.
Well, the storyline heading in was all about Clemens and Piazza, but the big news of the day turned out to be Shawn Estes.
In the top of the third inning, Clemens came to the plate against Estes. Everyone waited to see what would happen. Would Estes plunk him? Nope. He did, however, throw a pitch a foot behind Clemens. For some that was enough, but for others it was weak. No matter, both dugouts were issued warnings after Estes plunked Clemens. The story and game weren’t over, though.
In the bottom of the third, Estes came to the plate with no outs and a runner on second. There were no fireworks, though. At least not at the plate. But when Estes laid down his sacrifice bunt on the Clemens’ first offering, Rey Ordonez managed to score all the way from second base. He should’ve just made it to third, but when Ordonez chugged into the hot corner, he realized no Yankee covered the plate. So he motored home for a 1-0 Mets lead. The guy who should’ve covered home? Clemens.
Two innings later, the score was 1-0 when Estes came to the plate again with a runner in second base. Instead of laying down another sacrifice to advance the runner, Estes swung away. Boom—home run. Estes hadn’t plunked Clemens earlier, but now he bombed Clemens for a 3-0 Mets lead. And Estes had all three RBIs.
An inning later, Piazza came to the plate. He’d already come up twice and flown out and grounded out. Now, came the memorable at-bat. Leading off the sixth, he smacked a home run off Clemens for a 4-0 Mets lead. A few minutes later, Clemens left the game in mid-inning to the jeers of the Shea Stadium faithful.
Estes pitched seven scoreless innings allowing five hits while fanning 11. Behind his arm and bat the Mets cruised to an easy 8-0 lead. All the focus before was on Clemens and Piazza, but when the game ended Estes was the star of the show.
Aside from that, plenty of other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim over things.
1,000 days since Pedro Martinez loses his 100th decision, giving him a record of 219-100. He is one of only four pitchers in the lively ball era to win 200 before losing 100. The others are Lefty Grove, Whitey Ford, and Juan Marichal.
2,000 days since the Brewers sign Jeff Suppan as a free agent. It won’t work.
4,000 days since 50 fans are stranded on Comerica Park’s Ferris Wheel for two hours in a Tigers-Royals game. Firefighters and emergency workers rescue them.
4,000 days since a parachutist at Miller Park in Milwaukee breaks his ankle when he misses the opening in the retractable roof and lands on a beam several hundred feet up.
5,000 days since the Yankees lose to the Indians 4-1 in 12 innings in Game Two of the 1998 ALCS. The winning run scores when New York infielder Chuck Knoblauch argues for an interference call at first instead of picking up the ball.
5,000 days since the Padres top the Braves 3-2 in 10 innings in Game One of the NLCS to begin their upset win for the pennant. Atlanta had tied the game with a run in the bottom of the ninth but it ultimately doesn’t mean anything.
5,000 days since Tampa selects pitcher Cory Lidle off waivers from Arizona.
7,000 days since Jack Morris suffers through the worst start of his career. His line: 4 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, and no Ks for a Game Score of 3.
7,000 days since Jeff Bagwell bops the only bases-loaded triple of his career.
9,000 days since Minnesota wins its first world championship as the Twins top the Cardinals 4-2 in Game Seven of the 1987 World Series. Thus ends the first Fall Classic in which the home team wins every game.
15,000 days since Hank Aaron receives three intentional walks in one game, something that never happens to him in any other game. The Mets do it—and win the game, 8-7.
30,000 days since the first night game in the history of organized baseball as the Muskogee Chiefs top the Independence Producers 13-3 in Independence, Kan..
30,000 days since Bill Terry, who will steal only 56 bases in his career, swipes two in one game.
40,000 days since the American League announces that it intends to bring a club to New York City.
1894 Boston signs amateur free agent Fred Tenney, who will have a nice big league career as a first baseman.
1902 In the Texas League, Corsicana annihilates Texarkana, 51-3. Jay Clarke belts eight homers for the victorious squad in this game.
1907 Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley appears in his final game.
1923 Lou Gehrig makes his big league debut.
1925 The Indians blow a 12-run lead as the A’s score 13 runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 17-15 win.
1927 Lefty Grove commits the only balk of his career. In that same game, his teammate Al Simmons nails the first of 10 career grand slams. However, White Sox pitcher Ted Lyons, who allows the slam, gets the win anyway, for a career best ninth straight win. His line in this streak: 9 G, 9 GS, 9 CG, 81 IP, 61 H, 24 R, 17 ER, 21 BB, and 16 K for an ERA of 1.89.
1928 Ty Cobb steals home for the 35th and final time.
1929 Three years after his big brother did so, Lloyd Waner gets six hits in a game.
1930 For the second straight game—and for the third time in a week—Lou Gehrig hits two home runs in one game.
1934 The Phillies purchase Bucky Walters from the Red Sox. He plays third base now but Philadelphia moves him to the mound, where he’ll become a star.
1937 The Braves trade star center fielder Wally Berger to the Giants for $35,000 and one player.
1938 Johnny Vander Meer makes history by throwing his second consecutive no-hitter. He fans seven and walks eight. It’s a notable game for another reason as it’s the first night game at Brooklyn’s Ebbetts Field. Vander Meer’s Reds win, 6-0.
1938 Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams is born.
1940 Ernie Lombardi becomes the first person to hit 100 homers for the Cincinnati Reds. Now all of the pre-expansion franchises have a 100-homer guy except for the White Sox.
1942 Big league baseball has its first twilight game. Claude Passeau and the Cubs top Brooklyn 6-0 in Ebbetts Field. 15,159 show up for the game.
1945 The A’s release an aging and well-past-his-prime Al Simmons.
1946 Red Ruffing, normally one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball, has his worst day at the plate, going 0-for-4 with four Ks.
1948 Briggs Field in Detroit has its first night game. Now only Wrigley Field lacks lights—and it won’t have lights for another 40 years.
1949 Dusty Baker is born.
1950 Joe McCarthy, who wins my vote as the greatest manager in history, manages his last game.
1952 The Cardinals blow an 11-0 lead, losing 14-12 to the Giants.
1953 Well that wasn’t expected. The Browns top the Yankees, which is rather impressive given that the Browns begin the day with a 14-game losing streak and the Yankees had won their last 18 games. Big league baseball won’t see another winning streak this long until the 2002 Moneyball A’s win 20 in a row.
1955 What have you done with the real Nellie Fox? Fox, a singles hitter who will end his career with just 35 homers, goes deep in both ends of a doubleheader. He’s 6-for-8 in the doubleheader.
1956 What might have been . . . Baltimore offers the A’s a memorable deal—a complete swap of 25-man rosters. The KC GM is willing to do it, but can’t find the owner to approve it before the day’s trading deadline ends.
1956 All-Star catcher Lance Parrish is born.
1957 Brett Butler, speedy outfielder, is born.
1958 Kansas City trades aging pitcher Virgil Trucks to the Yankees.
1958 Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs is born.
1961 Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette reaches base via error three times in one game. Boston wins easily,10-1 over Detroit.
1961 Jim Bunning surrenders his 10th and last grand slam. He’ll last a decade more and throw over 2,500 innings but never give up another one.
1961 Milwaukee trades veteran infielder Johnny Logan to the Pirates.
1961 Tony Cloninger makes his big league debut. He’s most famous as a pitcher who once hit two grand slams in one game.
1962 The Phillies sign amateur free agent Fergie Jenkins. He’s gone pro.
1963 Juan Marichal pitches a no-hitter, the first one by a Giants pitcher since Carl Hubbell in 1929. The Giants top the Astros, 1-0.
1963 The Braves trade starting pitcher Lew Burdette to the Cardinals.
1964 The Cubs and Cardinals engage in a four-player trade, but there are only two names involved anyone remembers: Brock and Broglio. The Cubs get starting pitcher Ernie Broglio and the Cardinals land future Hall of Famer Lou Brock. Yeah, this works well for the Cardinals.
The trade happens early, allowing Brock to play for St. Louis today, and he strikes out in a pinch-hit appearance. But the next day he’ll go 2-for-3 with a triple, stolen base, and two walks—and it’s off to the races from there for Brock.
1965 Eddie Mathews gets his 2,000th career hit.
1965 Denny McLain sets a record by fanning 15 batters in relief—all in just 6.2 innings. The record stands until Randy Johnson tops it in 2001. (And that’s a weird one—a Curt Schilling start is cut short when a night game had a power outage after one inning. Johnson pitches eight innings on a different day to finish it off.) In 1965, McLain fans the first seven batters he faces and helps the Tigers top Boston, 6-5.
1965 St. Louis trades pitcher Mike Cuellar to the Astros. Neither team will get his best seasons.
1966 Bob Gibson pitches a three-hit shutout for a 1-0 win for career victory No. 100. His record is 100-75.
1966 Al Kaline gets his 2,000th career hit.
1967 Jimmy Wynn becomes the first Houston Astro to belt three home runs in one game.
1968 Juan Marichal allows a career-worst 16 hits in one game. He gets the complete game win in a 9-5 triumph over the Mets. It was a different time.
1968 Hall of Famer and all-time triples king Sam Crawford dies.
1968 Pitching just 5.2 innings, Tommy John hits four batters in one game.
1972 Andy Pettitte is born.
1973 Tommie Aaron becomes the first minor league manager in the Deep South, when he takes over in Savannah in Double-A.
1974 The Yankees purchase Rudy May from the California.
1976 The Yankees and Orioles make a 10-player trade that sends five players to both clubs. New York gets starting pitchers Doyle Alexander and Ken Holtzmanas well as catcher Ellie Hendricks while Baltimore gets pitchers Rudy Mayand Scott McGregor and also catcher Rick Dempsey. Baltimore gets the better of this deal.
1976 Wow! Even though they play in a dome, the Astros have to call today a rainout. The stadium itself is okay, but the seven inches of rain prevent the umpires, stadium personnel, and virtually every fan from showing up. Twenty fans make it via canoe to get their rainchecks.
1977 Bill Lee, 1930s Cubs pitcher, dies.
1977 The Mets make a pair of trades, one of which is one of the most infamous in franchise history. That’s sending longtime superstar Tom Seaver to the Reds for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Pat Zachary, and Dan Norman. Cincinnati gets quality while the Mets get quantity. In a separate deal, the Mets send slugger Dave Kingman to the Padres for Bobby Valentine and another player.
1978 Boston sells Bernie Carbo to the Indians for $15,000.
1979 Willie McCovey enjoys the last of his 44 multi-home run games.
1980 Cleveland’s Jorge Orta becomes the first American Leaguer in seven years to get six hits in one game.
1982 Dave Dravecky makes his big league debut.
1983 Atlanta purchases Mike Jorgensen from the Mets.
1983 San Francisco’s Darrell Evans gets three home runs in one game.
1984 Fastballer ace Mark Langston fans seven straight and ends the day with 12 Ks in all.
1984 Tim Lincecum is born.
1985 Veteran infielder Tim Foli plays in his last game.
1989 Bruce Hurst goes 10 innings for the Padres. It’s the last time anyone in that franchise has lasted that long in a start.
1991 Andy Ashby becomes the first Phillies pitcher to use the minimum nine pitches to strike out the side when he does it to the Reds today.
1991 Former big league commissioner Happy Chandler dies.
1991 Mike Remlinger makes his big league debut.
1992 Former Yankee pitcher Eddie Lopat dies at age 91.
1992 Rollie Fingers’ career save record of 341 is broken by Jeff Reardon. You can win yourself a lot of bar bets by asking if anyone knows who broke Fingers’ record. .
1993 Ken Griffey Jr. belts home run No. 100.
1993 Mike Piazza enjoys the first of 37 multi-homer games.
1994 Jim Thome belts the first of 12 (and counting) walk-off home runs. If he gets No. 13, he’ll be the first person in history with that many regular season walk-off home runs. He’s one of several in a tie with 12.
1994 Ken Griffey Jr. passes Alvin Davis as all-time Mariners home run leader when he conks No. 161 for Seattle.
1994 Ismael Valdez makes his big league debt.
1994 Paul Molitor has what WPA believes to be his worst ever game. He’s 1-for-5 with a pair of GIDP for a –0.385 WPA. Cleveland tops Molitor’s Blue Jays, 4-3.
1995 Oops. An official at Busch Stadium jumps the gun and lets off celebratory fireworks for a Ray Lankford home run—but it’s only a double.
1996 According to WPA, it’s the best relief performance of the decade: Kansas City’s Mike Magnate tosses 5.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit and no walks for a WPA of 0.930 WPA. That’s from the 11th to 16th innings.
1996 Cleveland signs free agent pitcher Greg Swindell.
1997 Joe Carter gets his 2,000th hit.
1998 Sammy Sosa smacks three home runs in a game for the second time in his career.
1999 Will Clark gets career hit No. 2,000.
1999 Florida trades Craig Counsell to the Dodgers.
1999 The longest hitting streak of Frank Thomas’ career peaks at 21 games. His AVG/OBP/SLG line is .402/.463/.610.
1999 The Mets win, pushing Bobby Valentine’s career managerial record over .500 (803-802). It’s been over .500 ever since.
2002 Rafael Palmeiro bashes his 1,000th career extra base hit. He’s the 24th member of this somewhat obscure club.
2006 Chad Billingsley makes his major league debut.
2007 When Julio Franco steps to the plate to face Roger Clemens, it’s the oldest pitcher-batter showdown in decades. They are a combined 93 years and 246 days old. It’s the oldest match-up since Oct. 1, 1933 when long-retired coach Nick Altrock made a token appearance versus Rube Walberg. The Franco-Clemens match up is the oldest between two actual players.
2007 Sammy Sosa’s 599th home run is his ninth and final career grand slam.
2010 The Mets release center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.