15,000 days ago, a brand new era of personal style began in baseball. And it was star slugger Reggie Jackson who began it.
It was Opening Day, April 15, 1972. Normally Opening Day would’ve come a little earlier, but there had been the first players’ strike that year, delaying things by a little bit.
Reggie Jackson took his position in right field for the A’s sporting a new look, the likes of which baseball hadn’t seen in decades. Jackson had a mustache. Facial hair in baseball mirrored national trends. In the late 19th century, many had it—both in the game and in mainstream America.
Mustaches quickly fell out of favor in the early 20th century, and they disappeared in baseball. Catcher Wally Schang had one in 1914, but after that, no player was known to have one. In 1936, Brooklyn Dodger player French Bordagaray entered spring training with a mustache, but manager Casey Stengel forced him to shave it.
The game remained purely clean-shaven for another 35 years. Then came Reggie Jackson.
By the early 1970s, mustaches and beards were making a comeback, especially among the youth. That made facial hair controversial, as it was associated with the nation’s counter-culture. Thus facial hair was back, but not fully respected—it was associated with protest.
Maybe that was one reason why Reggie Jackson went without shaving. Under A’s owner Charles O. Finley, Jackson was in a constant state of discontent. Well, discontent was a natural part of Jackson’s makeup anyway. And Finley had the knack for annoying pretty much all of his employees. So Jackson entered the delayed spring training with a mustache.
Finley ordered Jackson to shave it off, but Jackson refused. And he was no Frenchy Bordagaray. Jackson was too important to a team with championship hopes to bench over something as ephemeral as this. So he became the first player in nearly 60 years to play with a mustache.
Finley decided to make it work for him. Okay so a player was going to have a mustache. Then he’d rally around it. Deciding to tap into the rise of the mustache, Finley had a Mustache Night in Oakland. He offered to pay all his players a bonus if they wore a mustache for the game—and then had the team photo taken that day to cement the A’s reputation as “The Mustache Gang.”
Virtually the entire team grew a ‘stache for the bonus. Many shaved it right off after the game, but some of the biggest stars kept it. Catfish Hunter kept a mustache the rest of his days. So did manager Dick Williams. Rollie Fingers’ distinctive handlebar mustache became a key part of his image. And of course Jackson kept his mustache for many years. And then mustaches spread to other teams.
But the return of facial hair to baseball began with Reggie Jackson 15,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
2,000 days since the Braves sign Tom Glavine – he’ll return to the team he had his glory years with.
4,000 days since the Giants top the Braves 1-0 in 10 innings in one of the best pitching duels of the 21st century. Both Jason Schmidt and Miguel Batista throw nine shutout innings. Batista allows just one hit while Schmidt surrenders three.
4,000 days since former manager Wes Westrum dies.
5,000 days since Robin Ventura blasts his 200th home run.
6,000 days since the Twins sign free agent catcher Terry Steinbach.
8,000 days since Andy Ashby strikes out the side on nine pitches versus the Reds. He’s the first pitcher in Phillies history to do that.
8,000 days since former commissioner Happy Chandler dies.
8,000 days since Mike Remlinger makes his big league debut.
15,000 days since Juan Marichal wins, giving his career record an all-time best 113 games over .500 (222-109).
15,000 days since the Cardinals trade Jerry Reuss to Houston for a pair of players.
20,000 days since the Pirates sign amateur free agent Willie Stargell. Good move.
50,000 days since George Hall of the NL’s initial Philadelphia squad becomes the first player to homer twice in once game.
1868 Hall of Fame executive Ed Barrow is born in Springfield, Ill..
1880 Pud Galvin, the game’s first 300 game winner, wires to the Buffalo Bison that he’ll accept their salary terms, never mind the fact that he’s already under contract to play in the California League. This disregard for his already signed contract helps Galvin get 300 wins and thus his place in the Hall of Fame.
1893 Star outfielder Wee Willie Keeler breaks a bone while sliding. He’ll miss two months.
1894 It’s the first back-to-back-to-back series of home runs in history. Frank Shugart, Doggie Miller, and Heinie Peitz of St. Louis do it in the seventh inning of a game their team loses, 18-9. Frank Shugart ends the day with three home runs.
1897 It’s an odd home run. Baltimore’s Jack Doyle hits one that rolls to the fence, where there is a ladder. (Yes, a ladder. Welcome to 19th century baseball). The ball somehow goes up the ladder and disappears over the fence.
1898 Washington releases catcher Roger Bresnahan. This turns out to be a bad move and Bresnahan is still near the start of his Hall of Fame career.
1904 The St. Louis Cardinals have their way with Christy Mathewson, knocking him out in the first inning. He’ll get his revenge, winning his next 24 decisions against them.
1905 John Lower, hurler for the minor league Waco Tigers, gives up a hit in the first inning, but no more in a game that ends up going 15 frames.
1909 It’s the longest no-hitter in the history of organized ball. In the Blue Grass League, Fred Toney of Winchester throws 17 hitless innings for a 1-0 win at the end. The run scores on a suicide squeeze play at the end. Toney will later have one of the of the most famous no-hitters in major league history, when he defeats Hippo Vaughn in the 1917 double no-hitter.
1910 The Cubs sell backup catcher and future super manager Pat Moran to the Phillies.
1910 Chicago Cubs third baseman Heinie Zimmerman commits four errors in a game. Even for 1910, that sucks.
1913 Despite making eight errors, the Yankees top the Tigers 10-9 in 10 innings.
1913 Walter Johnson’s scoreless inning streak is now at 52.2, thanks to a two-hitter over the White Sox.
1918 Pirates pitcher Earl Hamilton wins again, giving him a record of 6-0 with a 0.83 ERA. Instead of having a career season, though, he’ll soon enlist in the Navy to serve during World War I.
1920 Pirates pitcher Wilbur Cooper posts his 100th win, giving him a record of 100-85.
1928 Ed Stein, quality pitcher for a while for the 1890s Dodgers, dies at age 58.
1929 Reds center fielder Earl Clark gets 12 putouts and 13 chances in one game, both NL 20th century records.
1929 Hall of Fame center fielder Earl Averill legs out an inside the park grand slam. Not bad for a kid for just his third big league home run.
1931 Star pitcher Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons is also a pretty good hitter—and he’s never better than here, as he smacks the only grand slam of his career.
1932 Lefty Grove, arguably the best pitcher of all-time, posts his 150th career victory, putting him halfway to 300. It’s been less than four years since win No. 50. His record is 150-64 (.701).
1934 Lou Gehrig belts the 14th of his record 23 career grand slams.
1936 Exactly four years after his 150th win, Lefty Grove suffers his 100th loss. He’s 226-100 (.693) so far.
1936 One down, 360 to go: Joe DiMaggio connects for his first home run.
1936 Joe Sullivan throws 12 innings of scoreless relief for the Tigers, but then the Indians get to him, for a 9-7 win in 15 innings.
1937 Jim Hickman is born. He’ll be a rookie on the 1962 Mets and later have a sensational season for the 1970 Cubs, hitting .315 with 32 homers and 115 RBIs in an all-time great “where did that come from” season.
1939 Phillies catcher Dave Coble catches a ball thrown from the top of the 521-foot tall city hall in Philadelphia.
1940 The Reds release former star center fielder Wally Berger.
1941 Ken Berry is born. The outfielder will win two Gold Gloves and represent the 1967 White Sox in the All-Star game.
1942 For the only time in his career, Bucky Walters has a double-digit K game. He fans 10 in nine shutout innings, helping him to a personal best Game Score of 87.
1944 Longtime Indians stalwart Mel Harder becomes the 50th major league pitcher to win 200 games. His record is 200-161.
1946 64,183 fans become the largest weekday crowd in Yankee Stadium history—but have to go home disappointed when the Red Sox win, 5-4.
1947 Hall of Famer Early Wynn notches his 50th win. He’s a sixth of the way to 300.
1947 Fearsome fastball pitcher Ewell Blackwell begins a 16-game winning streak. He won’t lose until July 25.
1949 Former Cardinals owner Sam Beardon dies at age 72. He owned them from 1920-47 and under him a second division team became a perennial NL power.
1951 The Indians sign the recently available veteran pitcher Johnny Vander Meer.
1952 Somehow, the Boston Red Sox get 10 assists in one inning, the fifth, in an 18-3 loss to the Yankees.
1955 Duke Snider smashes his 200th career home run.
1955 Don Newcombe needs to face only 27 batters in his complete game shutout of the Cubs. Gene Baker singles in the fourth for Chicago, but he’s immediately gunned down trying to steal. No one else reaches base that day for Chicago.
1956 Jimmy Slagle, outfielder for the Tinker-Evers-Chance Cubs, dies at age 82.
1957 San Francisco’s Mayor George Christopher meets with Giants owner Horace Stoneham about possibly moving his team out there.
1961 Well that could’ve gone better: Three St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitters strike out in the ninth inning.
1962 Jim Perry allows back-to-back home runs to start the game. Lenny Green and Vic Power do it. It’ll be nine more years until another AL game begins this way—but wouldn’t you know it, Jim Perry will be the pitcher then, too. .
1962 Giants second baseman Robby Thompson is born.
1964 Steve Blass makes his big league debut. He’ll be a fine pitcher until his career is completely derailed by a mysterious mental block.
1965 Carl Yastrzemski enjoys the first of his 25 career multi-home run games.
1966 Bob Gibson will set the record for homering in six different complete game shutouts. Here is No. 4, when he tops the Cubs 8-0 and lifts one over the fence along the way.
1967 Aging star third baseman Ken Boyer notches his 2,000th career hit.
1967 Speedy Cub player Adolfo Phillips steals home in a 5-4 win over the Giants.
1968 The Dodgers sign third baseman Ken Boyer as a free agent.
1969 It’s the war of the bullpens. Former Orioles reliever Moe Drabowsky leads his Royals reliever teammates in a commando attack on the Baltimore bullpen at 9:30 p.m., throwing rocks and objects at the startled Baltimore pen. This begins a year-long war largely of pranks and farce. The Orioles get the last laugh in today’s game, though—Drawbosky gives up a walk-off homer.
1970 Hoyt Wilhelm becomes the first pitcher to appear in 1,000 games.
1972 Cincinnati runs wild, stealing six bases in six attempts against Chicago’s Milt Pappas.
1974 After 1,112 career innings pitched, Bert Blyleven walks in a run. He’s never done that before.
1975 Catfish Hunter makes his first start against his old team, the A’s—and it’s one of the best starts of his life. He retires the last 18 batters in a two-hit complete game shutout with seven Ks and no walks.
1975 Hank Aaron becomes baseball’s all-time RBI leader.
1978 Paul Molitor hits the first of 33 leadoff home runs.
1978 Eddie Murray belts the first of nine career walk-off homers.
1980 Gary Carter launches his 100th career home run.
1981 Young Expos pitcher Charlie Lea no-hits the San Francisco Giants. He walks four while fanning eight in his 4-0 masterpiece.
1981 The Brewers trade veteran backup catcher Buck Martinez to Toronto.
1982 Tony Phillips makes his big league debut. He’ll last forever. Hell, he was still playing in the independent minors a year or two ago.
1982 Willie McGee, 1985 NL MVP, makes his big league debut.
1984 Center fielder Chili Davis throws out two runners in one inning.
1985 Rickey Henderson, less than six years removed from his big league debut, steals his 500th base.
1986 Jim Rice gets his 2,000th hit. He’s had a nice prime, but he’s about to cool down considerably.
1986 Frank Tanana suffers the worst Game Score of his lengthy career: 7. His line: 3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 8 R, 2 BB, and 0 K.
1987 For the second time in three days, Mark McGwire belts two home runs in one game. They are the first and second multi-home run games of his career. He’ll end up with 67 of them.
1988 Veteran skipper Dick Williams manages his 3,000th game. He’s 1,563-1,436 on his career.
1988 Mariners fireballer Mark Langston fans 16 in a win over Toronto.
1989 There is something about May 10 that brings out the best in Mark Langston. He no-hits Toronto for eight innings. Then again, maybe May 10 doesn’t bring out the best in him—in the ninth Toronto rallies for three runs and a 3-2 triumph over Langston and Seattle.
1991 Roberto Alomar has the first of 13 multi-homer games. It’s also his best game ever according to WPA. He’s 3-for-4 with three walks and two clutch homers for a 1.037 WPA. One homer ties the game in the bottom of the ninth, and the other ties it in the 11th. Toronto loses anyway to the White Sox, 5-3.
1991 The press catches Jose Canseco leaving Madonna’s apartment at night. The tabloids love this.
1992 Jeff Bagwell achieves the first of 31 career multi-home run games.
1993 Montreal retires No. 10 for the most popular player in franchise history: Rusty Staub.
1994 The Braves score seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game 8-8 against the Phillies. Atlanta finishes the comeback with another run in the 15th for a 9-8 victory.
1996 David Cone has surgery on his pitching shoulder to repair an aneurysm. Yikes.
1996 Oakland’s Ernie Young hits three home runs in one game.
1996 Edgar Renteria makes his big league debut.
1997 Wild Thing Mitch Williams pitches in his last game.
1997 The Twins’ streak of 19 consecutive successful stolen base attempts ends when Denny Hocking is thrown out.
1998 A Marlins loss drops Jim Leyland’s all-time career record under .500 (956-957). It will take him until late 2011 to get back over .500.
1999 Nomar Garciaparra has one of the greatest games by any player ever. He drives in 10 runs on three home runs, including two grand slams. It’s the only time since 1920 any shortstop has more than eight RBIs in a game.
1999 Pete Rose appears as a special instructor for the Sacramento Steelheads in a Western Baseball League game.
1999 Randy Johnson allows a career worst 13 hits in one game.
2000 Rickey Henderson has his 10,000th at-bat, an especially impressive achievement for someone who draws as many walks as he does.
2000 It’s the biggest comeback in Twins history as they overcome a 8-1 deficit to the Indians to win, 10-9.
2000 Uh, the heck? Rick Ankiel’s dad is arrested for throwing a loaded handgun from his car. He’s already about to serve six years for a coke/pot trafficking violation.
2000 No, it’s not the most heroic of injuries. The Florida Marlins have to scratch starting pitcher Ricky Bones from his start today because he injures his lower back while watching TV in the clubhouse recliner. No, I don’t know how he did that either.
2001 An MRI reveals that White Sox star Frank Thomas has a right triceps injury and will have to miss the entire season.
2001 St. Louis pitcher Rick Ankiel throws five wild pitches. His days as a hurler are rapidly and weirdly coming to a close.
2001 Tampa release former slugger Vinny Castilla.
2002 The Angels destroy the White Sox, 19-0, and will be only the fourth team since 1900 to beat two different teams by 19 or more runs. The 1923 Indians, 1939 Yankees, and 1950 Red Sox did it previously.
2003 Jeff Torborg manages his last game. The Marlins will fire him and replace him with Jack McKeon.
2004 For the second time in his career, Luis Gonzalez homers three times in one game.
2005 Royals manager Tony Pena resigns.
2007 The KIA Tigers sign former Cubs first baseman prospect Hee Seop Choi.
2007 Second baseman and sometime sabermetric darling Todd Walker plays in his last game.
2008 Greg Maddux wins his 350th game.
2009 Slugger Carlos Delgado appears in his last game.
2010 Detroit pays a tribute to the legendary Ernie Harwell, who died earlier this week.
2012 Derek Lowe becomes the 11th pitcher to notch a win against all 30 clubs. The other members of the club are: Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling, Woody Williams, Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, Javier Vazquez, and Vicente Padilla. Yes, that’s right—Vicente Padilla.
2012 Toronto signs free agent outfielder Vladimir Guerrero. The Jays will release him a month later and he never plays for their big league club.