Ten years ago today we witnessed one of the most infamous displays of fan misbehavior in baseball history. Calling it misbehavior is far too kind. It was hooliganism, rowdyism—just plain senseless violence.
On Sept. 19, 2002, in the middle of a White Sox-Royals game at U.S. Cellular Field, two idiots jumped on the field and began an unprovoked assault on Kansas City’s first base coach, Tom Gamboa. (Well, the ruffians claimed they were provoked by a hand gesture Gamboa made at them, but who the hell wants to take their word for it? Besides, no gesture justifies assault and battery).
It just came completely out of nowhere. In the top of the ninth, the Royals led the White Sox 2-1 with a runner on second and nobody out. It looked like a routine finish to a closely fought game.
Then, with everyone in the park focusing on the batter versus pitcher showdown, all hell broke loose at first. Two fans—shirtless—were out there beating up the 54-year-old first base coach. Security and players soon pulled the duo off of Gamboa, but the damage had been done. Specifically, hearing damage— Gamboa suffered permanent hearing impairment from the unprovoked assault.
This weird assault became even weirder due to some details surrounding it. First off, the shirtless men assaulting him certainly fit the image of classless, drunken ballpark boors. Second, it turned out they were father and son. Their names were William Ligue and his son, William Jr. The son was just 15 years old—but he carried a knife in his back pocket during the attack.
The Ligues justly became national pariahs and jokes. They even became the subject of a David Letterman Top Ten list. (I still remember one item: “We’ll let you know what our legal defense will be once we’ve talked to our shirtless lawyer.” Something like that). Both managed to avoid jail time—the kid because he was a minor and the father because he pleaded guilty to get probation.
Even their hometown of Alsip, Ill., came in for some jokes. Over the years I’ve heard people on Chicago sports radio refer to the “Alsipian” contingency of White Sox fans, meaning the mouth-breather meatheads.
There were some impacts that went beyond Sept. 19. The next year, some other clown ran on the field at U. S. Cellular, this time to assault the first base umpire. Big mistake. It was an especially big mistake since he did it during another series with the Royals. Players from both teams beat the guy up as fast as they could get to him.
To this day the Ligue incident has had a lasting impact on fans at U.S. Cellular, though. It used to be that if you bought a ticket to the upper deck the Sox would let you walk around their big wheel of commerce in the lower deck. No more. The Ligues were upper-deckers who’d sneaked into the lower deck. Because of these two drill rods, the Sox decided that all upper-deckers are to be treated like shirtless would-be felons. I think it’s a pretty big overreaction on the Sox’s part: Walking around the park is part of the fun of going to a stadium. The Sox could just put ushers at the top of each lower deck aisle, but no matter. The Sox have done this ever since the Ligues’ father-son assault, and that assault was 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that took place X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim over things.
4,000 days since the end of the 2001 regular season, when a bunch of veterans appear in their last baseball game (or last regular season game for those who will be in the playoffs). The veterans include Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire, Paul O’Neil, Tony Fernandez, Eric Davis, Ken Caminiti, Norm Charlton, Jay Buhner, Bobby Witt, Mark Gardner and Bobby Bonilla. Also longtime Twins manager Tom Kelly runs his last game.
4,000 days since Rickey Henderson gets his 3,000th hit. Just like his 2,000th hit, it comes in his last plate appearance of the season.
6,000 days since Cecil Fielder gets three home runs in a game for the third time in his career.
7,000 days since Houston shortstop Juan Uribe draws a walk on just three balls when umpire Harry Wendelstedt loses track of pitches.
9,000 days since Kirk Gibson signs as a free agent with the Dodgers. He’ll win the MVP in his first season there.
10,000 days since John Lowenstein appears in his final game.
20,000 days since Bob Ojeda is born.
1882 Guy Hecker throws a no-hitter, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-1.
1883 Long John Reilly, who hit a cycle exactly one week ago, does it again today. As of this moment, there are only four cycles in big league history, and Reilly has half of them.
1890 Stuffy McInnis, AL first baseman, is born.
1892 300-game winner Kid Nichols hits his only career grand slam.
1900 St. Louis forfeits to Brooklyn when the team refuses to replace ejected catcher Wilbert Robinson on the field.
1901 All baseball games are cancelled for the funeral of President William McKinley.
1903 200-game winner pitcher George Mullin hits his only outside-the-park home run. He also gets a pair of inside-the-park shots in his career.
1911 The Cardinals top the Braves 13-12 in one of the most exciting slugfests of the year. Boston led 8-2 in the fifth inning, only to see St. Louis take a 9-8 lead by the end of the seventh. Heading into the bottom of the ninth, Boston led again, 12-9, but St. Louis scored four in the bottom of the ninth for the win.
1914 In the Federal League, Ed Lafitte leads the Brooklyn Tip Tops to a win by no-hitting Kansas City. He walks seven en route to a 6-2 victory.
1916 Three White Sox pinch runners score in the ninth inning of a 5-4 win over the A’s.
1919 Black Sox first baseman Chick Gandil begins recruiting players for the fix. He gets Swede Risberg involved, and backup infielder Fred McMullin overhears it. Star pitcher Eddie Cicotte demands $10,000 in advance. Cicotte’s fellow hurler Lefty Williams is initially not interested.
1920 In the 854th game of his career, Hall of Fame outfielder Edd Roush finally hits a ball over the fence. His previous 20 home runs were all either inside-the-park ones or bounced shots.
1920 Legendary baseball writer Roger Angell is born.
1921 When the Yankees lose 10-6 to the Tigers in the midst of a pennant race, manager Miller Huggins submits his letter of resignation to team management, who refuse to accept it. The Yanks will win their first pennant this year, and Huggins will manage them until his death in 1929.
1922 The all-time cumulative franchise record for the New York Yankees reaches .500 (1,621-1,621). It’s been over it ever since.
1922 Rogers Hornsby’s longest hitting streak maxes at 33 games. He’s 68-for-146 with 11 doubles, a half-dozen triples, and nine homers for a .466/.494/.808 line.
1925 Burleigh Grimes posts a Game Score of 3, which is the worst known mark of his career. His line: 4.2 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 0 K.
1925 Ted Lyons almost pitches a no-hitter in a 17-0 win over Washington. The Senators use several pinch hitters, and with two outs in the ninth, Bobby Veach finally gets a hit against him. In all, 18 different Senators came to the plate in this game (not all as pinch-hitters; I assume some were mid-game replacements in the blowout).
1925 In a 15-3 win over the Dodgers, two Cardinals steal home in the seventh inning. It’s the last time any NL team has two steals of home in one inning. (In the AL, I know the Twins did it twice during one at-bat in 1969; a Harmon Killebrew at-bat at that).
1926 Babe Ruth legs out the eighth of his 10 career inside-the-park home runs.
1926 Boys of Summer Dodgers star center fielder Duke Snider is born.
1926 Hooks Dauss pitches in his last game.
1927 Burleigh Grimes wins his 13th consecutive game. His line in that span: 18 G, 15 GS, 9 CG, 121 IP, 117 H, 40 R, 34 ER, 34 BB, 46 K, and a 2.53 ERA.
1929 Hall of Famer Joe Sewell sets a major league record that still stands with his 115th game played without fanning.
1929 Miller Huggins, dying, manages his last game.
1930 Bob Turley, pitcher, is born.
1930 For the second day in a row, Chuck Klein homers twice in a game.
1930 St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Flint Rhem, who claims he was kidnapped from Sept. 14-17, starts in Philadelphia.
1933 Thornton Lee, pitcher who received one first-place AL MVP vote in 1941, makes his big league debut. (Please note that the 1941 AL is when Joe DiMaggio had his 56 game hitting streak and Ted Williams batted .406.)
1934 Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey decides to end advertisements on the left field fence in Fenway Park. The Green Monster will be born.
1936 Bill Dickey hits the first of three walk-off home runs. All come within 12 months.
1937 Chris Short, major league pitcher, is born.
1937 Hank Greenberg becomes the first man to hit a homer into the center field bleachers in Yankee Stadium.
1938 Pink Hawley, a very good pitcher from the 1890s, dies.
1943 Joe Morgan, an all-time great second baseman, is born.
1945 Bob Feller throws his sixth one-hitter. He’ll retire with a record number of one-hitters.
1950 The Braves win, pushing the career record of manager Billy Southworth 350 games over .500 (1,012-662), his all-time peak. He’ll match this mark several times but never better it.
1953 Bill Nicholson plays in his last game.
1955 Ernie Banks hits his fifth grand slam of the year (which is also the fifth of his career).
1955 In Milwaukee, flagpole sitter Bill Sherwood descends after 89 days atop his pole. He had pledged to stay until the Braves won seven in a row. They won six in a row three times but never made it to seven.
1956 Jim Konstanty, 1950 NL MVP, appears in his last game.
1959 Frank Robinson has the worst day on the bases of his career. He’s caught stealing three times in three attempts, the only time he had been caught this many times in a game (only once did he even have two).
1959 In the first inning against the Giants, Dodgers ace Don Drysdale walks the first three batters he faces but then mows down the next three—they all struck out, and no runs score.
1959 Yankee Stadium hosts Yogi Berra Day.
1961 The Giants trump the Braves 11-10, as Warren Spahn suffers the lowest Game Score of his career: 13. His line: 3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, and 4 K.
1962 Star closer Randy Myers is born.
1963 At Dodger Stadium, only 463 see the Angels beat the Orioles, 7-2.
1963 Vic Wertz plays in his final game.
1963 Slim Harriss, former A’s pitcher in the 1920s, dies.
1964 Cardinals ace hurler Bob Gibson clubs three doubles in one game. But it’s all for naught as he surrenders a walk-off home run to Frank Robinson with two outs in the ninth. The Reds win, 7-5.
1964 The Dodgers beat the Phillies 4-3 in 16 innings thanks to some impressive late dramatics by Willie Davis. With two out and none on in the bottom of the 16th, he singles, steals second and moves to third on a wild pitch. When the Phillies bring in a new pitcher (Morrie Steevens, who hadn’t pitched in the majors in over two years), Davis promptly steals home against him for the win. The Phillies will win tomorrow but then begin their historic late-season flop.
1964 Willie Mays scores five runs in one game for the third and final time in his career.
1966 Dan Topping sells his remaining 10 percent ownership in the Yankees for $1.4 million.
1966 In the bottom of the 17th inning, Pirates star Roberto Clemente clubs a walk-off home run.
1969 John McNamara manages his first game. He’ll last until the 1990s.
1970 Willie Stargell gets his 1,000th career hit.
1970 Gaylord Perry pitches his fourth consecutive shutout for the Giants. In this one, he retires the first 19 batters he faces in a 3-0 win over the Padres. He’s the only post-1920 300-game winner to have four consecutive complete-game shutouts. His line in that span: 36 IP, 15 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 20 K.
1970 Jose Cruz, Astros great, makes his big league debut.
1971 Fergie Jenkins fans 14 batters in one game, a personal best he does two other times.
1972 Cesar Tovar of the Twins hits for the cycle.
1972 The A’s and White Sox combine to use 51 players in a game, including 14 pinch hitters. The A’s completely exhaust their 30-man roster. Among other things, manager Dick Williams uses Catfish Hunter as a pinch hitter and Vida Blue as a pinch runner. The White Sox win, 8-7, in 15 innings. One random comment: Sal Bando receives an intentional walk in this game. It’s the second time he’s gotten one in three days and his third of the month. Bando has only five in his entire 2,000-plus game career.
1972 Moe Drabowsky plays in his final game.
1972 Bob Gibson pitches 10 innings, the 25th and final time he gets at least 28 outs in a game. He still has 75 more starts to go in his career.
1973 Houston signs amateur free agent Terry Puhl, who will become one of only six Canadians to record over 1,300 hits.
1974 Reggie Jackson smacks his 1,000th hit.
1974 Hall of Fame slugger Orlando Cepeda plays in his final game.
1976 Catfish Hunter wins his 200th decision, giving him a career record of 200-141. At 30 years, five months, and 11 days, Hunter is the youngest man to win 200 games since Pete Alexander. Hunter will be 24-25 for the rest of his career.
1976 Scott McGregor, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1977 For the second time in his career, Nolan Ryan issues his 200th walk in a season.
1977 Paddy Livingston, the last surviving player from the 1901 inaugural American League season, dies. He was a catcher.
1977 Boston Red Sox Ted Cox sets a record with five consecutive hits to begin a career. He had three before today. He’ll end his career with 189 hits.
1978 The oft-injured Nick Johnson is born.
1978 Willie Stargell has the most humiliating moment of his career. The aging slugger tries to steal second base at Wrigley Field, but his slide comes to a dead stop 10 feet short of the bag. In desperation he tries to call time—but, c’mon. He’s out. The Pirates go on to win, 12-11.
1979 Bobby Tolan plays in his final big league game.
1979 Ken Holtzman, one of only 16 men in the live ball era to win 150 games before turning 30 years old, plays his final game.
1980 Dennis Martinez has his longest relief outing: 7.2 innings, pitching from the fourth to 11th.
1980 Jerry Reuss allows the ninth grand slam of his career. He’s pitched 2,181.1 innings so far, and despite the fact he’ll throw another 1,500 more over 10 seasons, he’ll never surrender another slam. Johnny Bench hit this one, his 11th and final slam.
1980 Tony Perez has his worst day ever according to WPA, going 0-for-4 with a K and GIDP for a –0.478 WPA.
1982 Orlando Merced has a memorable first big league hit: a grand slam. No one else will do that for another 17 years.
1983 Joe Morgan has a fantastic 40th birthday, going 4-for-5 with two homers. It’s his 13th and final multi-home run game. He leads the Phillies to a 7-6 win over the Cubs.
1984 For the second straight day, Dwight Evans belts two homers in a game.
1985 Pete Rose reaches base via catcher’s interference for the 29th time in his career. Holy crud—29 times! Folks, Pete Rose is to getting on base by catcher’s interference what Babe Ruth is to belting homers in the 1920 AL. There is absolutely no one even close to his career total..
1986 Tom Seaver last pitches in a big league game.
1986 White Sox pitcher Joe Cowley throws one of the worst no-hitters of all-time. Cowley walks seven and after the game some of the opposing Angels hitters said his stuff wasn’t very impressive. Cowley will never win another big league game.
1986 Barry Bonds has maybe his worst day ever at the plate. He goes 0-for-5 with four Ks. He had two other hitless four-K games, but those were in only four at-bats.
1988 Orel Hershiser pitches his fourth consecutive shutout, giving him 40 straight scoreless innings. The Dodgers top the Astros, 1-0, for his second straight 1-0 win.
1992 The Tigers beat the Red Sox, 3-2, on a walk-off error that lets the tying and winning runs score. That’s rare.
1992 Houston signs amateur free agent Carlos Guillen.
1993 Steve Trachsel makes his major league debut.
1993 Pedro Martinez allows three triples in one appearance, which is especially impressive because he lasts fewer than two innings.
1995 Albert Belle launches three home runs in a game for the second time.
1996 Vladimir Guerrero makes his big league debut.
1996 Ryne Sandberg, near the end of his career, has his worst game ever according to WPA. He goes 1-for-5 with a walk and is caught stealing for a –0.454 WPA as the Cardinals beat the Cubs, 5-4.
1997 Matt Williams successfully pulls off the hidden-ball trick on a runner for the third time in his career.
1999 Jamie Moyer loses his 100th decision. He’s 118-100 for his career at this point. However, today’s loss is also his eighth straight Quality Start, tying his high. His line in this stretch: 4-1 W-L, 65 IP, 50 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 10 BB, 36 K, and a 1.52 ERA. Moyer has been 151-109 since this day.
1999 Kenny Lofton experiences maybe his worst game at the plate, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. It’s his only time fanning four times in a game. He does draw a walk and score a run, though.
2000 Some Dodgers fans are banned from home games for 18 months by a court after they throw coffee in the face of a Mets fan cheering a Todd Pratt grand slam.
2001 Major League Baseball and the players’ union announce the joint creation of a disaster relief fund. Each group will donate $10 million to 9/11 victims.
2001 Roger Clemens wins, becoming the first pitcher ever to post a 20-1 record. It’s largely caused by his run support, and he’ll lose his last two decisions to finish the year 20-3, but he’ll get the Cy Young Award.
2002 Todd Jones of the Rockies becomes only the fifth pitcher to allow three homers without recording a single out. (Officially, it’s only the fifth time since 1920, but it’s probably the fifth ever).
2003 Rickey Henderson plays in his final game. Well, his final big league game. He’ll spend some time in the independent minors after this.
2003 Randy Johnson belts the only home run of his career.
2004 Todd Zeile gets his 2,000th career hit.
2004 Dave Burba pitches in his last game.
2006 Eric Young last plays in the big leagues.
2007 Andy Pettitte wins his 200th game. His record is 200-112. He’s been 43-29 since then.
2008 Marlins rookie Cameron Maybin makes it on base for a 10th straight time without making an out, then makes an out on attempt number 11.
2008 Greg Maddux becomes the 13th member of the 5,000-inning club.
2009 Pedro Martinez loses his 100th game. His career record is 219-100, and he’s one of only four pitchers since 1920 to win 200 before losing 100. (The others are Lefty Grove, Whitey Ford, and Juan Marichal.) It’s also Martinez’s last decision in a big league regular season game. (He’ll be 0-2 in the 2009 postseason).
2010 Creepy: Tyler Colvin of the Cubs has his chest pierced and lung punctured by a shard from a teammate’s broken bat.
2010 The Diamondbacks tie a franchise record low point by having their all-time cumulative record fall 36 games under .500 (1,029-1,065). They were also 36 games below in 1999. As it happens, Arizona starts winning immediately after this game.