15,000 days since Frank Robinson’s greatest game

15,000 days ago, the baseball world saw one of its all-time great one-game performances, courtesy of future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.

Playing for the Orioles against the Senators, Robinson’s day began slowly. He lined out to second base in his first time up. A few innings later he drew a base on balls. The game appeared to be perfectly typical.

Then came the fifth inning. After Mark Belanger popped up to lead off for the O’s, a walk, single, and another walk loaded the bases for Frank Robinson.

You can figure out what happened next, right?

Yea, Washington pitcher Joe Coleman threw one that Robinson connected with. Gone. Frank Robinson blasted his 463rd career home run. It was also his first grand slam as an Oriole. His last four-RBI blow came in September, 1965 as a Red.

He wouldn’t have to wait another five years for his next slam. He wouldn’t even have to wait five innings.

In fact, the very inning, the Orioles produced another rally, and Robinson again stepped to the plate with the bags loaded.

What happened? Exactly what you think happened.

Uh-huh: Grand slam home run, this time off reliever Joe Grzenda. That was it for Robinson on the day. Only two swings, but dear lord, what swings! His two slams drove in a persona- best eight RBIs on the day, helping Baltimore to a 12-2 win over Washington.

As it happened, Robinson never belted another grand slam in his career. 1,306 games since leaving the Reds, and he slammed in only this one game, but he did it twice.

No one’s ever hit three slams in a game, and Robinson is one of the few to do it twice, and he did it 15,000 days ago.

Aside from that “day-versary, plenty of other baseball items celebrate their day-versary or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just feel like skimming:

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Mr. Robinson: one of the most feared hitters of his (or any) day.

Day-versaries

4,000 days since Juan Pierre makes his big league debut. Pierre is part of the answer to a great trivia question: Who are the only three men to have 200-hit seasons with three different franchises. Answers: Rogers Hornsby, Paul Molitor, and Juan Pierre. In fact, Pierre also topped 190 hits in a season with a fourth team. No one else can say that, not even Molitor and Hornsby.

5,000 days since the Marlins trade Moises Alou to Houston.

7,000 days since the California Angels team bus crashes, swerving into some trees off the New Jersey Turnpike. Four have to go to the hospital. The worst is manager Buck Rogers, who breaks his left knee, right elbow, and a rib.

Anniversaries

1881 Hall of Fame second baseman Johnny Evers is born.

1889 200-game winner Gus Weyhing surrenders two inside-the-park homers in one game.

1890 Silver King pitches the only no-hitter in the short-lived Players League in a 1-0 eight inning win.

1891 The New York Giants release Tim Keefe, a 300-game winner.

1892 In a rarity, two men who already have won 300 games face off against each other as Philadelphia’s Tim Keefe starts against Pud Galvin of St. Louis. There won’t be another start like this until 2005, when Greg Maddux faces Roger Clemens.

1893 A Phillies victory puts Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright 347 games over .500 (1,199-852), his peak. He’ll tie it later in the year, but never top it. (Note: his W-L record includes his time in the National Association).

1900 An intentional walk goes awry in a Reds-Dodgers game. With the game tied 5-5 and two outs in the ninth, Noodles Hahn throws an intentional walk pitch to veteran catcher Deacon McGuire. Alas, McGuire drops it, and the winning run scampers home for a 6-5 Brooklyn win.

1908 Giants star Christy Mathewson defeats the Cardinals for the 21st consecutive time.

1910 Tris Speaker his an inside-the-park home run, his third of the week and fourth of the month.

1914 The Miracle Braves are on a roll, as a win today moves them into fourth place. They were in last at the beginning of the month, and they’ll end the year as world champions.

1915 Young Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth hits a huge home run in St. Louis against the Browns. His blast clears the right field stands, goes across Grand Avenue, and breaks the window of an automobile showroom. Nice.

1919 Babe Ruth does it again, hitting reputedly the longest homer ever at Navin Field (a.k.a., Tiger Stadium).

1921 The Indians beat the Yankees 17-8 in a game featuring 16 doubles (nine by Cleveland).

1921 Red Faber of the White Sox wins his 20th game of the year. That’s early. The team works him hard as former workhorses Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams have been banned for throwing the 1919 World Series.

1924 Hall of Fame White Sox hurler Ted Lyons has one of the worst starts of all-time, producing a Game Score of –16. His line: 8 IP, 18 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, as the Senators edge the White Sox, 16-2.

1925 Chief Bender last appears in a baseball game. He’s probably a coach making a desperation appearance for an undermanned team, because he hasn’t played in the big leagues since 1917. He pitches one inning for the White Sox, who lose 6-3 to Boston.

1926 Tris Speaker laces his 700th double. To this day only he, Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, and Stan Musial have done that.

1926 Wilbur Cooper, the only man to win 200 games with the Pirates, throws his last pitch in the big leagues.

1928 Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons enjoys the longest start of his career: 14.2 innings. He allows 13 hits, two runs (both earned) and two walks while fanning three in picking up a loss as the Cubs beat his Giants 2-1.

1928 Jimmie Foxx hits a home run an estimated 450 feet. It’s the first ball hit out of Shibe Park that doesn’t even bounce on the roof.

1930 A Dodger-Cardinal doubleheader features an amazing four pinch-hit home runs. One of them comes from the bat of Cardinal Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley, his only pinch-hit homer.

1935 Moe Drawbowsky, colorful reliever, born.

1935 Indians scout Cy Slapnica visits the Feller family farm in Iowa. This leads to young Bob Feller eventually signing with Cleveland.

1936 Joe Medwick belts hits in his first three at-bats of the day, tying a then-record of 10 straight hits.

1939 Joe Cronin manages his 1,000th game. His record: 534-457.

1940 In the second game of a doubleheader, Enos Slaughter enjoys his third multi-homer game of the month. He has nine in his career.

1940 Paul Derringer completes his 14th straight game, tying his personal-best streak finished just three months earlier. His line in this stretch: 10-4 record, 123 IP, 105 H, 34 R, 31 ER, 18 BB, 45 K, and a 2.27 ERA.

1942 Satchel Paige has one of his legendary moments: He intentionally walks the bases loaded to face Josh Gibson, tells Gibson what he’ll throw, and then strikes him out anyway.

1943 Hall of Fame skippers Leo Durocher and Bill McKechnie square off against each other for the 100th time.

1945 The Tigers and A’s duel for 24 innings, only to end in a 1-1 tie. Tiger starter Les Mueller becomes the last pitcher to last over 18 innings in a game, going 19.2 IP, allowing 13 hits, five walks and one unearned run while fanning six. For Philadelphia, Russ Christopher fans 13 innings, and Joe Berry the other 11.

1946 In a 19-inning minor league game, Lew Flick of the Little Rock Travelers has nine consecutive hits in 10 at-bats.

1946 Ted Williams gets seven consecutive hits in a doubleheader, hitting for the cycle in game two.

1949 Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian, born.

1951 Frankie Frisch manages his last game.

1953 Bonus baby pitcher Joey Jay makes his big league debut.

1956 Pee Wee Reese belts his 2,000th career hit.

1956 Junior Gilliam of Brooklyn ties a record with 12 assists at second base in one game.

1957 George Kell hits his seventh career home run off Alex Kellner. Kell blasts only 78 homers in his Hall of Fame career, but seven come off Kellner.

1958 Dave Henderson, very nearly David Ortiz before David Ortiz, born.

1958 Lew Burdette tosses 14 innings, his longest outing. He gets a complete game loss: St. Louis 5, Milwaukee 4.

1959 The Red Sox finally integrate, as Pumpsie Green plays for them. All teams have now integrated.

1960 Hall of Famer Robin Roberts has his best Game Score in a nine-inning performance. His line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K for a 92 Game Score.

1961 The Angels and Red Sox strand a record 30 base runners in a nine-inning game. Each leave 15 on. The Angels win, 16-5.

1961 Hank Bauer plays his last game.

1962 The Reds purchase Joe Nuxhall from the Pacific Coast League’s San Diego Padres. This will be his third tour with the team.

1963 Pittsburgh’s Jerry Lynch hits his 14th career pinch-hit home run, which ties a record (since broken).

1963 Jimmy Wynn plays his last game at shortstop. It’s his 13th game at shortstop and his 13th time in the field at all.

1963 Walter Alston isn’t normally known for his fiery demeanor, but he’s ejected from both ends of a doubleheader in Milwaukee.

1967 Jimmie Foxx dies at age 59 from choking on a piece of meat at his brother’s home.

1969 As noted in the book Ball Four, Kyong Jo, the Korean adopted son of Seattle Pilots reliever Jim Bouton takes up the name David. He’ll be David Kyong Jo Bouton.

1970 Clay Kirby is pitching a no-hitter after eight innings when Padres manager Preston Gomez pulls him for pinch-hitter Cito Gaston. The bullpen blows the no-hitter in the ninth. In Gomez’s defense, no-hitter or not, the Padres were losing 1-0 and a pinch hitter gives them a batter chance to win the game. Instead, they lose 3-0.

1971 Darrell Evans blasts his first career walk-off homer in what’s just his sixth overall career home run.

1971 Tug McGraw serves up the fifth and final pinch-hit home run to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

1972 Oakland’s Mustache Gang loses a tough one: 5-4 to Boston in 14 innings. Boston ties it in the bottom of the ninth, 4-4. The kicker comes in the 14th inning, when Boston scores on a walk-off error. The error comes from Oakland’s second baseman: Sal Bando. Um, Bando isn’t a second baseman. He plays second base in three games for a total 4.2 innings. Manager Dick Williams is forced to move Bando there in the 14th because he ran out of second baseman, and Bando muffs the only ball hit to him.

1972 The Dodgers release Hoyt Wilhelm, ending his career.

1972 Carl Yastrzemski plays his 71st straight game without a home run, his worst ever drought. He’ll end it next time.

1973 Don Sutton posts his 100th loss. He’s 114-100 for his career.

1973 Hank Aaron hits his 700th career home run.

1974 Geoff Jenkins, Brewer left fielder, is born.

1975 Joe Torre has his day from hell. He grounds into four double plays, as the Astros beat the Mets 6-2. Supposedly, they had to sneak Torre out of the park in a trunk because the fans were so angry with him that day.

1977 Mario Soto first plays in the big leagues.

1978 Indians pitcher Mike Paxton fans four batters in the fifth inning.

1979 Willie Randolph crushes the only grand slam of his career.

1980 C. C. Sabathia is born.

1982 The Reds fire manager John McNamara.

1982 Willie Stargell hits his last home run. It’s a pinch-hit shot, as was his next-to-last homer, and his next-to-next-last homer. Added bonus: Both of Stargell’s last two home runs come off the same pitcher, Cincinnati reliever Tom Hume.

1983 St. Louis signs free agent Ken Reitz.

1984 The Yankees retire the numbers of Roger Maris and Elston Howard.

1987 The Royals release Hal McRae.

1988 Robin Yount hits his 100th career triple
.

1988 The Red Sox suspend Jim Rice for three games. Yesterday Rice got in a shoving match with manager Joe Morgan after being lifted for a pinch hitter.

1992 Randy Johnson suffers a career-worst eighth straight loss.

1993 When umpire Harry Wenddelstedt loses track of the pitches, Jose Uribe of Houston walks on three balls.

1993 For the only time in a stretch of 101 straight games, Tony Phillips of Detroit fails to get a hit, walk, or HBP.

1995 The Reds trade Deion Sanders to the Giants.

1997 For the first time—but not last time—Curt Schilling fans 15 in a game. Despite that, he loses 3-2 to Pittsburgh.

1997 Mark Whiten of the Yankees is arrested in Milwaukee for second-degree sexual assault. Back home, his second child was born four days ago.

1997 The Padres steal five bases against Kevin Brown.

1998 Kerry Wood outduels Greg Maddux in a Cubs 3-0 Cubs win over the Braves in Atlanta. This meant a lot to Cubs fans.

1999 Jim Abbott plays his last game.

1999 According to WPA, Manny Ramirez has his worst ever game. He’s 0-for-4 with a walk, strikeout, and GIDP in a 4-3 Cleveland loss to Toronto for a –0.655 WPA.

2000 After losing 20 straight games in Canada, the Orioles win their first one north of the border in over two years.

2001 Gary Sheffield lands his 300th home run.

2002 The Royals beat the Indians in an extra-inning slugfest: 13-12 (10).

2003 Rich Harden makes his big league debut.

2004 A third piece of concrete falls from Wrigley Field and is found by a club employee. That’s bad.

2004 Eric Karros plays his last game.

2004 Pat Hentgen last appears in a big league game.

2004 White Sox hurler Mark Buehrle faces only 27 batters in a 14-0 complete game over the Indians. He allows two hits but, both are erased in double plays.

2004 David Wright makes his big league debut.

2004 Grady Sizemore makes his big league debut.

2006 Alex Rodriguez belts his 2,000th hit in his 1,684th game.

2006 Mike Piazza nails his 2,000th hit in his 1,778th game.

2006 Chipper Jones has his longest hitting streak max out at 20 games. He’s gone 42-for-82 in the time with nine doubles, a triple and eight homers. His line: .512/.570/.939. Holy crud!

2006 Jamie Moyer, the all-time leader in homers allowed, surrenders a personal-worst five in one game.

2007 Jaime Moyer faces off against David Wells. They’re a combined 88 years and 307 days old, the oldest duel since Don Sutton and Phil Niekro faced each other in June 1987 (when Niekro was 48 years old).

2007 The Pirates retire the number for Paul Waner.

2007 Willie Harris of Atlanta gets six hits in a game, including two triples.

2008 The Tigers win 19-4 over the Royals. It’s the third time they’ve scored 19 runs in a game, something last done by the 1950 Red Sox.

2010 Javier Vazquez becomes the eighth team to beat all 30 teams. The previous ones who did it: Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling, Jaime Moyer, Randy Johnson, and Barry Zito.

2010 Ralph Houk, former manager of the Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox, dies.

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