15,000 days ago: The last game in baseball’s first stadium

15,000 days ago, baseball’s first real stadium hosted its last game.

In Philadelphia, it was first known as Shibe Park, and opened in 1909 as a state-of-the-art concrete facility that could host tens of thousands. It was miles apart from the rickety wooden places that previously held most clubs.

The Philadelphia A’s played there from its opening until they left for Kansas City after 1954. By that time the park had undergone a name change: Connie Mack Stadium, after the legendary A’s skipper. The name change occurred shortly after the Tall Tactician left the dugout for good.

The A’s departure didn’t end the stadium, however. The Philadelphia Phillies had moved into the place in 1953, its first year as Connie Mack Stadium. They stayed until the end of the 1970 season, before moving into Veterans Stadium the next year.

On Oct. 1, 1970, the place hosted its last game. As it turns out, it was a fantastic game between the Phillies and Expos. The home team held a slender 1-0 lead into the ninth, when Montreal tied it on an RBI double by Bobby Wine.

Into extra innings it went, and ended in a nice fashion. In the bottom of the 10th, Oscar Gamble belted a single to drive in Tim McCarver for the winning run for a 2-1 Philadelphia victory. How nice—the old place came to an end on a walk-off win.

Except the story doesn’t quite end there. The 31,822 fans in attendance decided to celebrate the last game as only 1970s fans could. Immediately after the game ended, they rioting, destroying the place. Hey—the place was going to be destroyed anyway, so why not grab what you can for your own personal souvenir. Supposedly, someone even made off with a toilet.

Not the most pleasant end to the story, but that’s the way things go sometimes.

Aside from that, other events also celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold for those who just want to skim:

Day-versaries

2,000 days since Russell Martin makes his big league debut.

3,000 days since former Tigers infielder Billy Rogell dies.

6,000 days since Chuck Finley wins his 100th game in style, posting a career best Game Score of 96. His line: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, and 15 K as the Angels demolish the Yankees, 10-0. It ties his career high for Ks in a game. His career record is now 100-90.

6,000 days since Mariano Rivera makes his big league debut.

6,000 days since the Angels sign amateur free agent Ramon Ortiz.

6,000 days since opposing starting pitcher Kevin Foster of the Cubs and Marvin Freeman of the Rockies belt home runs off each other. Why yes—the game is at Coors Field.

6,000 days since Jim Edmonds connects for the first of 28 multi-home run games.

7,000 days since baseball has its first knuckleballer vs. knuckleballer game in 10 years. Tom Candiotti of the Dodgers loses to Pittsburgh’s Tim Wakefield, 2-0.

15,000 days since Detroit’s John Hiller fans seven in a row in a 1-0 win over the Indians. It’s also the last game for Tiger manager Mayo Smith.

15,000 days since no-hit infielder Ray Oyler plays in his final game.

15,000 days since the Milwaukee Brewers sign amateur free agent Sixto Lezcano.

30,000 days since Babe Herman hits an inside the park home run off Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes for the third time this year.

40,000 days since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court grants free agency to Elmer Flick, Nap Lajoie, and Bill Bernhard.

Anniversaries

1854 It’s the first known game to end as a tie, as the Knickbockers-Gotham game ends 12-12 after 12 innings due to darkness.

1866 Kid Gleason, a pitcher who became a position player (and later manager for the 1919 Black Sox), is born.

1899 Judy Johnson, Hall of Fame Negro League third baseman, is born. He’s probably the worst of the inductees of the first batch of Negro League inductees.

1918 Snuffy Stirnweiss, speedy player, is born.

1931 Charles Comiskey, player turned manager turned owner, dies.

1934 The Cubs trade Pat Malone to the Cardinals.

1934 Washington trades Joe Cronin to the Red Sox for Lyn Lary and $225,000. That’s the most any player has ever been trade for, and will remain the record for decades.

1938 The Browns trade starting pitcher Oral Hildebrand and Buster Mails to the Yankees for Joe Glenn, and Myril Hoag.

1948 Toby Harrah, talented infielder, is born.

1949 Mike Hargrove, good hitter who became long-lasting manager, is born.

1950 Branch Rickey resigns from the Dodgers and sells up to 25 percent of his holdings to Walter O’Malley for $1.5 million.

1959 The Milwaukee Braves release Andy Pafko.

1960 The AL owners agree to expand to 10 teams—by next year.

1973 The Red Sox trade Reggie Smith and Ken Tatum to the Cardinals for Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo.

1973 Minnesota trades Charlie Manuel to the Dodgers.

1979 Bowie Kuhn notifies Willie Mays that if he accepts a position with gambling casinos he must disassociate himself from major league baseball.

1983 Francisco Liriano is born.

1985 It’s one of the most famous, or perhaps infamous, World Series games of all-time. The Cardinals lose to the Royals 2-1 in Game Six of the World Series. St. Louis enters the ninth inning up 1-0 and just three outs from the world title. Then Don Denkinger makes a bad call on a routine groundout to first, and St. Louis comes entirely unglued. Jack Clark muffs a routine foul out, the pitchers allow two singles and an intentional walk, and catcher Darrell Porter allows a passed ball in the KC rally.

1991 In Game Six of the World Series, Kirby Puckett belts a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th for a 4-3 Twins victory over the Braves. While Kirby Puckett rounds the bases, announcer Jack Buck declares “We will see you tomorrow night!” as this game ensures there will be a Game Seven.

1992 Greg Maddux is granted free agency from the Cubs.

1997 The Marlins top the Indians 3-2 in 11 innings in Game Seven of the World Series to claim their first world title. Cleveland led 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth but close Jose Mesa blew the save. Craig Counsell drives in the tying run on a sacrifice fly, and then scores the winning run in the 11th on an Edgar Renteria single.

1999 In Game Three of the World Series, the Yankees top the Braves 6-5 in 10 innings after trailing 5-1 earlier on.

2002 In Game Six of the World Series, the Giants lead 5-0 at the seventh inning stretch, and are nine outs from their first world championship in nearly 50 years. However, everything implodes as the Angels score thrice in the bottom of seventh and thrice more an inning later for a surprising 6-5 win to force a Game Seven.

2004 Bobby Avila dies.

2005 The White Sox end an 87-year world championship drought for Chicago baseball when the defeat the Astros 1-0 to end the most exciting World Series sweep in history. This game ends on back-to-back defensive gems by Chicago.

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Comments

  1. Steve I said...

    Re: Judy Johnson – I don’t know enough about the Negro Leagues to argue either way about whether he was a worthy Hall of Famer.  Do you think he was worthy, but just the weakest of the inaugural class?

    I know Bill James said in The Politics of Glory that there were one or two players he thought should have been included, but that he thought it was a notably good class. I don’t remember if he said anything particular about Johnson.

  2. Chris Jaffe said...

    Steve,

    My memories are a little vague, but I read on Negro Leaguers a few years ago.  Johnson was a high average and not much else on offense.  His extra advantage was that he scouted (for the Phillies, I believe) for years, increasing his visibility.

    His one skill was The Big Skill, especially back then and he was visible.

    Also, the other original class of Negro League Hall of Famers are all really, really strong. 

    Putting Judy Johnson in is like putting Pie Traynor in with Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, and John McGraw.  Johnson might’ve been better than Traynor, but he’s teh least of the bunch by far (and I’m not sure Johnson was better than Traynor)>

  3. Mike Kevitt said...

    Couldn’t you have included a picture of Shibe Park with your acticle about it?  That would have been very interesting to anybody.

  4. Hunter said...

    Looting is quite a common reaction prior to the destruction of cultural landmarks by authorities.  I don’t know that it was an unpleasant end, per se.

  5. Frank Jackson said...

    The Phillies did not move into Connie Mack Stadium in 1953.  They actually moved in mid-seson 1938.  Their previous park, Baker Bowl (just a few blocks east at Broad and Lehigh)was built in 1887 and was showing its age.

    I saw many games at CMS during the 50s and 60s and even saw the next-to-last game in 1970.  I thought about going to the last game but figured it might be a rowdy affair.  I was right.

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