15,000 days ago, on June 12, 1970, the baseball world saw one of its most memorable and unlikely achievements when Pittsburgh’s Dock Ellis tossed a no-hitter.
Ellis was a talented pitcher, certainly better than many others who have thrown no-hitters over the years, but it’s hard to find anyone who was so unlikely to toss a no-no. As I’m sure many of you out there in reader-land already know, one detail made this no-hitter an especially famous one.
Ellis threw the entire thing while tripping on LSD.
Yeah, that doesn’t happen everyday. And it wouldn’t have happened on this day, if Ellis realized what day it was. The Pirates had a day off on Thursday June 11, and Ellis knew he was going to start on the first game of a doubleheader on the 12th. But when he went to bed on the June 10th, he’d partied so hard and got his brains so scrambled, that he essentially zonked through the entire day. On the morning of the 12th, he thought it was the 11th, and took some tabs of acid to make the day enjoyable for himself.
Shortly after taking it, his girlfriend looked at the paper and gave him the bad news: He was scheduled to pitch that day.
He somehow got to the park and did his best to keep it together and maintain the focus. I dunno, maybe the LSD helped him focus. It apparently didn’t help his control, as he walked eight batters and hit one. Still, however he did it, he got the job done.
It certainly didn’t hurt that the Padres were the opposing team. They were in only their second season of existence and had lost 110 games the year before. In 1970, they improved to a still wretched 63-99 record. More than that, their hitting was pretty bad. Four of the men in their batting order on June 12 hit .222 or worse on the season. Sure one of those was the pitcher, but then again another was the leadoff hitter. And another was the guy in the batting order’s No. 2 hole.
Dock Ellis never pitched that well again, but nevertheless he tossed a no-hitter, despite taking his performance un-enhancing drugs before the game.
Here are some other events celebrating their “day-versaries” and anniversaries today, with the better ones in bold for those who just want to skim.
3,000 days since Ronnie Belliard lays down a walk-off sacrifice hit in a 10-9 Rockies win.
7,000 days since Kenny Lofton’s first home run.
7,000 days since Charlie Hough has one of his worst games of his career. He has no control in the first inning, as he walks the last five batters he faces, the last three of whom all walk in a run. When he’s taken out of the game, the reliever walks the first batter he faces, for four consecutive RBI-base on balls, and six straight free tickets in all.
8,000 days since the major league debut for Andy Benes
8,000 days since Ryne Sandberg homers for the fifth straight game
25,000 days since the Braves get Lefty Gomez from the Yankees
25,000 days since the Army Air Corps calls Enos Slaughter to active duty.
And along these lines, at some point today it’ll be a billion seconds since Willie Mays severs all ties to Major League Baseball to retain his better-paying gig with an Atlantic City casino.
1884 Hugh Daily fans 19 batters in one game in the Union Association, nominally a major league.
1888 Major league debut: Red Ehret, a decent pitcher for the next decade or so. He has a rather memorable debut as the game ends when opposing batter Billy Shindle hits into the rare walk-off triple play.
1892 Kid Nichols, the best pitcher of the 1890s, allows two inside the park home runs in one game
1900 Kid Nichols becomes the youngest pitcher in baseball history to win his 300th game.
1902 Baltimore (AL) releases player-manager John McGraw.
1902 Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, Negro Leaguer who lives to be over 100 years old, born.
1906 Satchel Paige born, supposedly in this year.
1909 Billy Herman, Hall of Fame second baseman, born.
1909 The Indians purchase Vean Gregg from Spokane in the Northwestern League for $4,000 plus two players. I realize no one has ever heard of him, but Gregg was a terrific pitcher until he blew his arm out, going 63-33 in his first three seasons and leading the league in ERA as a rookie in 1911. (Apparently it took a while to add him to the roster after this purchase.)
1909 The Dodgers’ cumulative franchise record hits .500, and stays under it for 38 years (1,751-1,751).
1909 The Phillies walk six Giants in a row in the sixth inning, tying an NL record. Next month an AL team will walk seven in a row, which is still the record.
1915 Dodgers-Braves game ends in tie after 16 scoreless innings. Phil Douglass gets the complete game for Brooklyn.
1918 Rabbit Maranville gets a 10-day leave from the Navy, and plays 11 games for the Braves in that time, hitting .306.
1922 Dazzy Vance, by far the greatest strikeout artist of his generation, has his longest outing without a K: 8.1 innings, with 39 batters faced in 6-5 loss for his Dodgers to the Cardinals. The game ends on a walk-off home run by Rogers Hornsby, the first of his five career walk-off homers.
1922 George Kelly hits an inside the park home run in the top of the 18th inning, leading the Giants to a 9-8 win over the Pirates. The game was 7-7 after 17 innings. Max Carey and Johnny Gooch recorded six hits each for the Pirates in this game.
1923 Young pitcher Lefty O’Doul sets a major league record that still stands when he allows 13 runs in one inning. His full line: 3 IP, 11 H, 16 R, 13 ER, 8 BB, 0 K as the Red Sox beat the Indians, 27-3. After washing out as a pitcher, O’Doul comes back as an effective hitter, and later becomes known as the Father of Japanese Baseball.
1925 Hall of Fame hurler Herb Pennock allows his only walk-off home run. He’s pitching in relief and faces only one batter.
1928 Hack Wilson homers in his fifth consecutive game. He’s gone 11-for-20 with two doubles and six homers in that time, scored 10 runs, and driven in 14. His AVG/OBP/SLG is .550/.591/1.550 for an OPS of 2.141.
1931 The White Sox and Browns link up in the longest game without a strikeout in history (or at least since 1920): CWS 10, STB 9 (12).
1933 Jack Quinn, the oldest real player in major league history, plays his final game. He was 49 years and six days old. He’s the greatest pitcher in baseball history born in the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
1936 The NL finally wins its first All-Star Game.
1937 In the All-Star Game, a line drive by Earl Averill smashes into the foot of Dizzy Dean, breaking a toe. FDR becomes the first president to attend an All-Star Game on this day, and throws out the first pitch.
1939 Deacon White, early baseball star, dies at age 91.
1945 Bill Melton, at one point the all-time White Sox home run leader, born.
1945 Ernie Lombardi, arguably the slowest player of all-time, hits his first triple in over four years and nearly 500 games.
1946 Bob Feller ties a personal high by completing his 15th straight game. His line in that period: 13-2 record, 4 SHO, 137 IP, 112 H, 27 R, 27 ER, 47 BB, 142 K, 1.77 ERA.
1948 Satchel Paige celebrates his 42nd birthday by signing a contract to play for the Indians. The Sporting News thinks it’s just a publicity stunt and calls it a “travesty on baseball.”
1950 Cincinnati’s Connie Ryan steals home in the 11th inning for a 5-4 win over the Cubs.
1953 The bus driving the Yankees from Connie Mack Stadium to the railroad station gets in an accident. Allie Reynolds injures his back, causing chronic pain for him.
1953 The St. Louis Browns lose their 20th straight home game. Lucky them it’s their last year in St. Louis.
1955 Len Barker, who would throw a perfect game, born.
1955 For the second time in three games, Willie Mays hits two homers.
1956 Hall of Famer George Kell plays second base for the only time—for exactly one inning. It’s the next-to-last season of his career.
1956 Debut: Bill Mazeroski, perhaps the greatest defensive second baseman of all-time.
1958 NL President Warren Giles appoints a committee to study expansion to 10 teams.
1963 Birdie Tebbetts manages his 1,000th game. (514-485 record)
1963 Red Schoendiest, future Hall of Famer, plays his last game. In the same contest, slugging Giants third baseman Jim Ray Hart makes his major league debut, in game that ends with a walk-off error. Ouch. Oh, in that same game, 42-year-old Stan Musial hits his 177th and final career triple.
1963 AL Smith has a walk-off sacrifice hit for Boston in its 4-3 win over Minnesota.
1964 The NL evens the All-Star Game series at 17 games apiece by beating the AL 7-4.
1966 Dave Burba, consistent pitcher in his 30s, born.
1966 Jeff Shaw, closer, born.
1967 White Sox 2, Twins 1. Both of Chicago’s runs score on a walk-off error. The Twins have only two hits all game, though.
1967 One-time World Series perfect pitcher Don Larsen plays his last game.
1968 Reggie Jackson hits the second of four career inside the park home runs.
1968 Chuck Knoblauch born.
1968 Cubs sweep doubleheader from the Pirates, with relief ace Phil Regan recording the wins in both games.
1969 The Reds purchase aging pitcher Camilo Pascual from Washington.
1970 It’s Lou Boudreau Day in Cleveland. The road outside the stadium is renamed Lou Boudreau Blvd. and the team retires his number.
1970 Brooks Robinson hits walk-off grand slam in 6-2 (10) win for the Orioles over the Yankees.
1971 It’s announced that Negro Leaguers elected to Cooperstown will have full membership as inductees.
1972 The A’s sign amateur free agent Claudell Washington.
1972 Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko has a novel way of protesting an umpire’s call: He fakes a heart attack over it. Predictably, the umps eject him.
1972 Montreal’s Ken Singleton begins wearing a special uniform as he’s apparently allergic to the materials in the normal Expos uniform and keeps getting a rash from it.
1973 Tony Perez hits his 200th home run.
1974 Johnny Bench gets his 1,000th hit. It took him 1,013 games.
1974 Darrell Chaney of the Reds hits a grand slam vs. the Cards. He’s so proud of it he later uses the radio call of it as the door chime at his home.
1974 Hank Aaron hits his second and final home run off Rick Reuschel. This allows Reuschel to become half of the answer to a great trivia question: Who are the only two pitchers to allow home runs to Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds? The other is Frank Tanana.
1974 Debut: Bob Forsch.
1975 Giants catcher Marc Hill tags out runners at home from three different outfield throws. St. Louis wins anyway, 8-6.
1977 Catfish Hunter charged with his first balk since May 27, 1970.
1979 Mike Schmidt hits three home runs in one game. A fourth fly ball goes to the warning track.
1982 Don Sutton wins his 250th game.
1982 In an event I remember from my childhood, Harold Baines hits three homers in one game for the White Sox, one of which is a grand slam. As a seven-year-old, it was the most amazing achievement I’d ever heard of and despite the fact I ended up a Cubs fan, Baines has always been my all-time favorite player.
1983 Vic Wertz dies.
1986 Harold Baines gets his 1,000th hit in his 925th game.
1986 Dave Winfield gets his 2,000th hit in his 1,889th game.
1986 The Angels beat the Brewers 3-1 in 16 innings despite getting only six hits on the day, two of which came in the 16th. The game was scoreless until the final frame. Milwaukee starter Bill Wegman lasted 11 innings, one of the last times anyone has pitched that long in a game.
1987 One of the most infamous games in Chicago history: the Eric Show Game. Padres manager Larry Bowa had made noise about wanting his team to be more aggressive and confrontational before the series began, so the Cubs expect some inside pitching. After Andre Dawson homers off Show in his first at-bat, Show responds with a beanball to his face in Dawson’s next trip up.
What follows is not a normal baseball fight. Oh sure, the mound is charged—but from the Cubs’ dugout. Dawson is too badly hurt to get up right away. Rick Sutcliffe leads the charge to maul Show. Eventually things settle down, just in time for Dawson to get up and lunge toward Show. Dawson and Sutcliffe are ejected. Show is forced to leave for his own safety (officially, he suffers a minor injury to his foot or ankle, but that is bogus).
Two Cubs pitchers (including a young Greg Maddux) are later ejected for attempted retaliation, and the Cubs manager and a coach get thumbs for that also. Finally, veteran infielder Manny Trillo is ejected for throwing his sunglasses case on the field, giving the team seven ejections in all.
1988 Frank Robinson manages his 1,000th game (476-524).
1990 Gary Carter has his only 5-for-5 game at the plate.
1990 Major league debut: Travis Fryman
1991 Debut: Bernie Williams.
1991 Nolan Ryan fans seven straight Angels and has a no-hitter until the eighth inning, when Dave Winfield ruins it with a single. Ryan ends the day with two hits and 14 Ks in eight inning of work in a 7-0 win.
1991 Umpire Steve Palermo is shot while trying to help two women in attempted robbery in Dallas.
1993 Barry Larkin has a day from hell, grounding into three double plays in an 0-for-4 performance. At least he gets an RBI sac fly as the Reds win by one run. In this same game, Reds pitcher Tom Browning leaves Wrigley Field to watch the game from a rooftop on Sheffield Avenue, earning him a $500 fine.
1993 Bret Saberhagen tosses a firecrackers under a table near reporters in Shea Stadium. He’s later unapologetic, saying it’s a practical joke and it they can’t take it, forget them. Twenty days later he’ll shoot a water gun filled with bleach at some reporters.
1993 Lenny Dykstra hits a walk-off double in the 20th inning, the latest walk-off double since 1950. Phillies 7, Dodgers 6. Mitch Williams blew a 5-3 lead in the ninth and it’s 5-5 until the last inning.
1993 Debut: Kirk Rueter.
1993 Debut: Todd Jones.
1994 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent Adrian Beltre.
1996 For the only time in his career, Wade Boggs ends a game by striking out with the bases loaded. MIL 4, NYY 1.
1998 The highest scoring All-Star Game ever takes place, at Coors Field naturally. AL 13, NL 8.
1999 The Rockies tie a record by scoring in 15 consecutive innings over multiple games. Curt Schilling ends the streak.
2000 Butte Cooper Kings have John Rocker Awareness Night, offering free admission to various groups mentioned by John Rocker in his SI interview.
2001 John Halama throws the first perfect game in the history of the PCL.
2001 Mark McGwire hits his 14th and final grand slam.
2005 The International Olympics Committee drops baseball and softball as Olympic sports.
2006 Jose Lima plays in his last game.
2007 Derek Jeter has his worst game ever, according to WPA: -0.457 WPA by going 0-for-5 with a GIDP and a strikeout. He also is hit by a pitch as the Yankees lose 2-1 to the Angels.
2009 Alan Embree of the Rockies does the unlikely: wins the game without throwing a single pitch. He picks off Austin Kearns with two outs in the eighth inning and then the Rockies come back to take the lead and win, 5-4.
2009 Paul Konerko hits three homers in a game.
2010 Adam Dunn hits three homers in a game.
2010 The St. Louis Cardinals retire the number of Whitey Herzog.