15,000 days ago, one of baseball’s great milestones was reached for only the ninth time ever.
On that day in the spring of 1970, “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks belted his 500th career home run. (Random comment: Just think, Banks’ 500th HR is closer in time to Babe Ruth’s 500th shot than it is to today).
In fact, Banks’ shot was part of the process that helped create the 500 Home Run Club as we know it (or knew it, until more recent homer-ific times).
As late as 1965 only four men had ever hit 500 homers: Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Ted Williams and, of course, Babe Ruth. In fact, only ten guys had ever hit 400, and they all not only made it to Cooperstown, but won election via the BBWAA. Frankly, getting 500 homers then was like getting 600 now, and 400 then was like 500 now. If anything, it was rarer then.
Then, on September 13, 1965, Willie Mays hit his 500th home, expanding the club to five men.
And yes, 15,000 days ago Ernie Banks made if nine. But it didn’t end there. The next year Harmon Killebrew made it ten. Less than five weeks later, Frank Robinson became #11. Seven guys joined the club in seven seasons, despite the fact there were only four members prior to then.
The 500 HR Club can be impressive because it’s exclusive, but it has to have enough members to really seem like a club. After all, as a kid growing up in the 1980s, I never heard of anyone talk about the 600 HR club. It only had three members, which is just one shy of where the 500 HR club stood prior to the 1965-71 glut.
For what it’s worth, the 400 HR Club had not expanded significantly. It only had 14 members, all of whom are in Cooperstown. The other three were Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, and Duke Snider. It wasn’t until Dave Kingman clubbed his 400th shot on August 10, 1985, that the 400 club got a man in its ranks who never made it into Cooperstown.
At any rate, aside from the “day-versary” of Ernie Banks’ big blast, several other events celebrate their day-versary or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
2,000 days since the Tigers signed free agent Ryan Ludwick
3,000 days since the Brewers trade backup catcher Henry Blanco to the Braves for backup catcher Paul Bako and another player, Jose Cabrera. I find it stunning that there’s a difference between Blanco and Bako, let alone a difference large enough to justify an entire other player.
7,000 days since Camden Yards hosts its first regular-season game, inaugurating the age of the retro mallpark.
7,000 days since new skippers Phil Garner and Jim Riggleman manage their first game.
7,000 days since Rick Sutcliffe became the ninth pitcher to beat all 26 teams (which is all there were back then). The first eight were: Rick Wise, Mike Torrez, Gaylord Perry, Doyle Alexander, Tommy John (whose only win against the Dodgers came in the World Series), Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, and Rich Gossage.
9,000 days since arguably the greatest game ever (though some will tell you it’s not even the greatest Game Six of the NLCS to feature the New York Mets: NYM 7, HOU 6 (16).
50,000 days since Jesse Tannehill, Deadball pitcher with great control, born
Oh, and sometime today will be 1,000,000,000 seconds since Lou Brock’s last stolen base attempt. He was out.
1849 Jim Devlin, the only man to pitch 100 percent of his team’s innings in a season and also a man banned from baseball for helping to throw the 1877 pennant race, born
1888 Henry Porter throws no-hitter. KC 4, BAL 0.
1890 Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy hits his only walk-off home run. It’s an inside-the-park one in the tenth inning in the Players League.
1892 Benjamin Harrison becomes the first president to attend a baseball game.
1904 Fielder Jones manages his first game. He later pilots the White Sox to an upset World Series title over the Chicago Cubs in 1906.
1907 Bill Dickey, Hall of Fame catcher, born.
1907 Lave Cross—long-lasting, great-fielding third baseman—plays his last game.
1912 Philadelphia Phillies sign free agent (and future Hall of Famer) Eppa Rixey.
1915 Red Sox select Herb Pennock, also a future Hall of Famer, off waivers from the A’s.
1917 Rogers Hornsby hits the first of 12 career grand slams. This is his only inside-the-park one.
1918 Casey Stengel returns to Ebbets Field for the first time since the Dodgers traded him away to the Giants. He returns in style, too. In his first at-bat, he steps out of the batter’s box, doffs his cap to the crowd, and a bird flies out. Bizarre—and awesome!
1920 St. Louis Cardinals play their last game at Robison Field (their home since 1893). They’ll move to Sportsman’s Park, where they’ll stay over 40 years.
1921 Babe Ruth becomes the first 20th-century player to hit 120 homers. (Gavvy Cravath hit 119).
1930 Charlie Root, still the all-time leader in wins in Cub franchise history, has the best Game Score of his career: 87. His line: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
1932 Cincinnati Reds release Harry Heilmann, Hall of Fame outfielder.
1934 Lefty Grove has the worst start of his career: 4 IP, 13 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Game Score: 6.
1934 Members of the Cleveland Indians team go public with their dissatisfaction with manager Walter Johnson. They place an ad in the papers fingering him as the cause of the team’s dissension. Ouch.
1937 The Phillies forfeit to the Cardinals. They stall in the fourth inning while losing, hoping the rain will pick up and cause a rainout. But they overdo their stalling, apparently.
1938 Giants trade Wally Berger to the Reds.
1939 Bert Bebble, George Bebble, and Carl Stotz form Little League in Williamsport, PA.
1939 After missing five weeks with an injury, Joe DiMaggio returns to the Yankee lineup, and hits a homer, double, and single.
1939 The New York Giants hit five homers in the fourth inning and a new record seven in one game.
1940 Boston Braves (or Bees, as they were called then) sign a 19-year-old Warren Spahn
1941 New York Giants wear plastic helmets in a game.
1944 All MLB games cancelled because it’s D-Day in Europe.
1944 Bud Harrelson born
1946 Boston Red Sox release Joe Cronin as a player. He still manages them.
1948 Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner hits the first of eight career walk-off home runs
1950 Red Sox release veteran infielder Ken Keltner.
1953 Robin Roberts wins his 100th game: 100-60.
1953 Sleepy Bill Burns, pitcher who helped set up the fix in the 1919 World Series, dies. He’s the guy Christopher Lloyd played in the Eight Men Out movie.
1955 Jackie Robinson hits his fifth and final walk-off home run.
1958 The Tigers become the 15th team to integrate, as Ozzie Virgil plays for them for the first time.
1959 Hank Aaron gets his 1,000 hit in his 782nd game.
1959 MLB debut: Maury Wills
1962 The Kansas City A’s sign amateur free agent Tony LaRussa.
1963 Frank Robinson, who homered twice in the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, homers twice in the first game of today’s doubleheader.
1963 Ball Four Tracer: In his book Ball Four, Jim Bouton recalled a time when he pitched for the Yankees and Baltimore’s Jackie Brandt hit a liner off his jaw, forcing him from the game. Well, that happened here.
1965 Johnny Callison hits three homers in a game for the second time in less than a year.
1967 St. Louis trades Bob Uecker to the Phillies.
1967 Draft day highlights: A’s – Darrell Evans; Braves – Dusty Baker and Ralph Garr; Astros – John Mayberry; Cardinals – Ted Simmons and Jerry Reuss; Orioles – Bobby Grich. Among the better guys drafted who wouldn’t sign that year: Angels – Dave Kingman; Giants – Davey Lopes, and Yankees – Steve Rogers.
1971 Willie Mays hits his sixth and final walk-off home run.
1975 Frank Robinson has his 54th and final multi-HR game.
1975 Nolan Ryan attempts to throw his second consecutive no-hitter and doesn’t miss by much against Milwaukee. A Hank Aaron single in the sixth is the first hit he allows, and Ryan surrenders only two on the day.
1976 Astros cancel game on account of rain, which is pretty odd for a team that plays in a dome, but the rain was so bad that 20 fans had to come to the back via canoe to get their rain checks. Yeah, that’s a bad rainstorm—seven inches of rain to be exact.
1978 Draft day highlights: Orioles – Mike Boddicker; Angels – Tom Brunansky; Yankees – Steve Balboni; Orioles – Cal Ripken Jr.; Phillies – Ryne Sandberg; Twins – Kent Hrbek; Dodgers – Steve Sax. Guys drafted whom didn’t sign include: Gary Gaetti (White Sox), Mike Moore (Cardinals), Mark Langston (Cubs); Frank Viola (Royals), and Tim Wallach (Angels).
1979 Rick Reuschel wins his 100th game: 100-94.
1980 Tommy John wins his 200th game: 200-144. He ties his career-high Game Score: 89. His line: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. He had the exact same line many moons and one arm ago on July 4, 1967.
1983 Draft day highlights: Reds – Chris Sabo; Mets – Rick Aguilera; Angels – Wally Joyner; Braves – Ron Gant; Red Sox – Roger Clemens; Reds – Rob Dibble; A’s – Terry Steinbach; and White Sox – Doug Drabek. Biggest names drafted but not signed; Jay Buhner (Braves), and Todd Zeile (Royals).
1986 Padres manager Steve Boros ejected before the first pitch. He shows the ump videotape of a disputed play from the night before.
1986 Wade Boggs raises his batting average on the year to .404. It’s downhill from here, though.
1988 Dodgers sign amateur free agent Raul Mondesi.
1989 Tom Glavine tosses a complete-game shutout despite not fanning anyone. ATL 3, LAD 0. It’s only happened three times in the NL since then.
1990 Yankees fire manager Bucky Dent.
1991 Indians demote Albert Belle to the minors for not running out a grounder in 2-1 loss to the White Sox.
1991 Royals 4, Rangers 3 (18). It ends on a walk-off error on a sacrifice hit attempt by Kurt Stillwell. The KC pitchers tossed 345 pitchers, the most known by one staff in a game. Texas’s Rafael Palmeiro has the worst WPA game of his career: -0.410 WPA, going 0-for-9 on the day.
1992 Lou Whitaker gets his 2,000th career hit in his 2,008th game played.
1993 Cal Ripken twists his right knee when his spikes catch on the infield grass in Orioles-Mariners game. He gets a swollen knee that nearly ends his streak, but (obviously) doesn’t.
1993 WPA’s favorite John Smoltz game: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 12 K for a WPA of 0.704. Braves 2, Dodgers 0.
1995 Joe Torre loses his 1,000th game as a manager. His career record is a rather even: 900-1,000. It’ll get better.
1995 Buck Showalter manages his 472nd game under George Steinbrenner, the most anyone had under Steinbrenner in one stint to this point in history. Torre shatters this mark.
1996 First major league game in 65 years to feature a cycle and a triple play. John Valentin gets the cycle while the Chicago White Sox defense executes the triple play.
1997 Sandy Alomar hits four doubles in one game.
1998 Mike Mussina gives up a leadoff hit to start a game for the first time in 42 starts.
1998 Cincinnati retires the number of Joe Morgan.
1999 Eddie Stanky dies.
2000 MLB debut: Rally Monkey. Angels first show it on the Jumbotron to get the fans stoked.
2003 Sammy Sosa given an eight-game suspension for his corked bat incident.
2004 Rod Barajas hits his only triple. He is the only person in baseball with over 2,600 PA and only one triple. He’s over 3,200 currently.
2007 Trevor Hoffman creates the 500 save club.
2008 Armando Benitez plays his last game.