20,000 days ago, Lew Burdette became a legend. Others have had greater careers than this 200-game winner, but few have come up as massively as Burdette did when it mattered most.
It was Oct. 10, 1957, and Burdette was the starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves in Game Seven of the World Series against the New York Yankees. Situations don’t get much bigger than this.
What’s more, Burdette was starting on short rest. He’d had just two days off since Game Five, when he blanked the Yankees for a 1-0 Braves victory. That win had put the upstarts from Milwaukee one game from the franchise’s first world title in more than 40 years.
However, the Yankees came back to win Game Six, forcing the winner-take-all finale. On the fact of it, Milwaukee manager Fred Haney had an easy pick to start the game. Not Burdette with his tired arm, but ageless ace Warren Spahn.
Nowadays, there would be no question about it. Spahn would have his normal rest cycle and would start the game. But back then teams were more fluid in how they used pitchers. A short rest or longer rest was more common.
Besides, not only had Burdette utterly baffled the Yankees in his shutout in Game Five, but Spahn had not been at his best. He was yanked in the sixth inning of Game One, which Milwaukee lost. And while Spahn did pitch a complete game 10-inning victory in Game Four, he nearly blew the game by allowing three runs in the ninth and another in the 10th. Fortunately for Milwaukee, the Braves rallied in the bottom of the 10th for a 7-5 win.
Odds are, Haney had an approach that was as common then as it is uncommon now. He’d go with Burdette on short rest in Game Seven, and if he didn’t have it, quickly switch to Spahn. Among other differences in the game, managers actually had a quicker hook back then than now. Pitchers were more likely to get pulled after an inning or two in the 1950s.
Certainly Milwaukee would trust Burdette, but the Braves couldn’t afford to trust him too much; not in a Game Seven.
It turns out a little bit of trust was all Burdette needed. After leadoff man Hank Bauer doubled off him in the first inning, Burdette bore down and retired the side without letting Bauer advance to third, let alone score.
After that, Burdette just mowed the Yankees down. After the opening frame, no Yankee reached base against Burdette until a fifth inning single. By that time the Braves already led, 4-0. No one made it into scoring position against Burdette until a two-out error in the sixth put Mickey Mantle on second base.
The Yankees didn’t have a real rally until the ninth inning. Burdette allowed three hits in that inning, all singles, and two of them came with Milwaukee one out from the title. With the bases loaded, Burdette coaxed an easy groundout from Moose Skowronto end the game.
Behind Burdette, Milwaukee won the day, 5-0, and clinched the city’s first (and still only) world title in baseball. Burdette had thrown complete game shutouts in two of the last three World Series games.
It’s one of the most impressive accomplishments in the history of the World Series, and it happened 20,000 days ago today.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate an anniversary or “day-versary” today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim.
1,000 days since the Yankees top the Angels 4-3 in 13 innings in the ALCS. Both teams score a run in the 11th inning.
4,000 days since Colorado trades Pedro Astacio to Houston.
7,000 days since Wally Backman plays in his final game.
7,000 days since Jay Gainer of the Reds hits a home run on the first big league pitch he ever sees.
7,000 days since Woody Williams makes his big league debut.
8,000 days since amateur free agent Bobby Abreu signs with the Houston Astros.
8,000 days since Ray Lankford makes his big league debut.
8,000 days since Lou Piniella has his most famous meltdown, throwing first base when arguing a call with umpire Dutch Rennart.
25,000 days since Paul Blair is born.
And at some point today, it will be 1,000,000,000 seconds since legendary Japanese star Sadaharu Oh announces his retirement.
1850 Tom York, star left fielder in the 1870s, is born.
1885 The Pittsburgh Pirates purchase Pud Galvin from Buffalo. Galvin will be the first pitcher to win 300 games.
1888 It’s the first doubleheader double-shutout in history as Pirates pitchers Harry Staley and Pud Galvin both blank Boston, 4-0 and 6-0.
1889 Hall of Fame starting pitcher Stan Coveleski is born.
1895 Jack Glasscock, star infielder, plays in his last big league game.
1896 Ed Delahanty has one of the greatest games by any batter, belting four homers in one game, two of which are inside-the-park shots.
1896 Ned Garvin, one of the hardest luck starting pitchers of all-time, makes his big league debut.
1900 Buck Ewing resigns as Giants manager. He’s done with major league baseball and will be dead in a few years.
1900 Harry Wolverton legs out three triples in one game, and has five hits in all.
1901 Doc Nance becomes the first player in Tigers history to get six hits in one game.
1904 Herman Long, star shortstop in the 1890s, plays in his final game.
1904 Hall of Fame second baseman Nap Lajoie gets three triples in one game.
1907 Christy Mathewson surrenders 11 hits, but gets the complete game shutout anyway in a 4-0 Giants win over the Reds.
1908 Aging Giants pitcher Iron Man Joe McGinnity allows three inside-the-park home runs in one game, including two in one inning versus Pirates. This will be the final season for the Hall of Fame hurler.
1909 In the American Association, minor leaguer Irv Young has a great day pitching for Milwaukee. He throws two complete game shutouts, allowing five hits in all, and belting a home run himself. He wins 1-0 (on his own home run) and 5-0—in a one-hitter that was a no-hitter entering the ninth inning.
1915 George Stallings manages his 1,000th game. His record: 495-485.
1916 Tigers pitcher Bill James fans seven straight in a game against the Senators.
1917 Former quality Cubs pitcher Ed Reulbach appears in his last game.
1922 Veteran pitcher Bill Doak makes a fielding mistake that costs. He fails to cover first on a grounder—and that leads to the only hit he allows all game.
1922 The Red Sox top the Browns 2-0 before 68 fans, the smallest crowd in the history of Fenway Park.
1923 Rogers Hornsby has his only known five-hit game. He goes 5-for-5 with a double and a triple.
1926 Jack Fournier hits three home runs for the Dodgers.
1927 Chicago White Sox fans give Cocky Eddie Collins a new automobile, even though he’s now on the A’s again.
1927 Ruben Gomez, pitcher, is born.
1927 Sam Gibson of the Tigers walks 12 but gets the win anyway.
1933 The Reds release 50-year-old pitcher Jack Quinn, the oldest real player in baseball history.
1934 Babe Ruth hits his 700th career home run.
1934 Lou Gehrig singles, stumbles, and gets picked off. He then requests a replacement player after playing one inning.
1935 Doc Cramer of the A’s gets six hits in a game for the second time in his career.
1936 Carl Hubbell loses 1-0 to the Cubs. He won’t lose again until May 31, 1937 after 24 straight wins.
1937 Hall of Fame Heinie Manush hits his last career home run, which is also his sole walk-off home run.
1938 Joe DiMaggio hits his second of four career walk-off home runs. The Yankees top the Browns 15-12 in 10 innings.
1938 Johnny Mize hits three home runs in one game for the first times. He’ll do it six times, which is still the record.
1940 Bobo Newsom wins his 13th consecutive decision, the longest win streak for him. His line in that time: 17 G, 17 GS, 13 CG, 135.2 IP, 102 H, 42 R, 34 ER, 42 BB, 84 K, and 2.26 ERA.
1940 Johnny Mize hits for the cycle.
1941 Joe Cronin goes 5-for-5. It’s the third decade in which he’s done that (Sept. 2, 1929, and May 22, 1930 were the other times).
1943 Due to World War II, baseball has its first night All-Star game. The AL wins, 5-3.
1945 Cleveland’s Pat Seerey hits three home runs in one game.
1946 Al Zarilla of the Browns hits two triples in one innings versus the A’s.
1950 After 75 minutes of surgery, Ted Williams’ elbow has chips removed.
1952 Nellie Fox has one of the best games of his life, going 5-for-5 with three doubles, setting personal highs in hits, doubles and extra-base hits in one game.
1954 Famous sportswriter Grantland Rice dies at age 73.
1962 The A’s top the Red Sox 11-10 in 15 innings. In the slugfest, both teams get 20 hits: 21 for the A’s and 20 for Boston.
1962 Sandy Koufax, normally a terrible hitting pitcher, homers off Warren Spahn, helping the Dodgers beat the Braves, 2-1.
1963 After several failed attempts, Early Wynn finally notches his 300th victory. He’ll never win another one.
1964 Willie Mays lays down a sacrifice bunt, something he last did on June 6, 1951 (which was his 13th career game). That’s over 7,600 plate appearances without doing it.
1966 The Cubs sign aging pitcher Robin Roberts.
1971 The AL wins an All-Star game, something it hasn’t done in a while and won’t do again for over a decade. The 6-4 win is most famous for Reggie Jackson’s monster home run in Tiger Stadium.
1973 Fergie Jenkins loses his 100th decision, giving him a career record of 144-100.
1973 For the second time in his career, Bobby Murcer hits three home runs in one contest.
1973 Hal Breeden becomes the first NL player to connect for two pinch-hit home runs in one doubleheader.
1974 Mike Schmidt hits two triples in one game. He’ll do that two more times in his career.
1977 New York City suffers its city-wide power outage, which happens as Lenny Randle comes to bat in Shea Stadium. The players drive cars on the field and perform in headlights.
1978 George Steinbrenner tells his Yankees, “I’m not going to lie down and die like a dog and neither are you.”
1978 Late-blooming slugger Ryan Ludwick is born.
1979 Second baseman Tony Bernazard is born.
1979 Two no-hitters are lost in the ninth inning today: Nolan Ryan of the Angels and Steve Renko of the Red Sox both settle for one-hitters in separate games. The Angels top the Yankees, 6-1. Renko’s Boston team shuts out Oakland, 2-0.
1980 Bobby Grich hits one of the best games of his career, going 5-for-7 with a double and home run as the Angels top the A’s, 5-4 in 14 innings.
1980 Bob Ojeda makes hid big league debut.
1982 Big league catcher Yadier Molina is born.
1983 George Brett hits his 100th triple.
1984 Nolan Ryan loses his 200th decision, giving him a record of 226-200.
1985 The White Sox nearly blow a 9-0 lead, but top Baltimore 10-8.
1989 Gary Sheffield plays shortstop for the last time in his career.
1991 The Mets franchise comes as close as it ever has to digging itself out of the pit the 1960s Mets created. A win gives them an overall cumulative franchise record of 284 games under .500 (2,213-2,497).
1993 Union chief Donald Fehr threatens to strike this year if negotiations don’t start soon.
1995 Ivan Rodriguez enjoys his first multi-home run game.
1996 Danny Graves makes his big league debut.
1997 Dennys Reyes becomes the first southpaw in nearly five years to start a game for the Dodgers.
1998 Tony Fernandez gets his 2,000th hit.
2001 Mike Piazza smashes career home run No. 300.
2001 Colorado trades Chone Figgins to the Angels.
2002 David Littlefield takes over as Pirates GM.
2002 Barry Bonds hits 500 doubles.
2002 Ichiro Suzuki has his first multi-home run game.
2003 In back-to-back innings, Yankees slugger Jason Giambi draws a bases loaded walk against the Blue Jays.
2005 Mickey Owen, former catcher, dies.
2006 Albert Pujols hits his seventh career walk-off home run. It’s in the bottom of the 14th inning.
2006 Mark Teixeira hits three home runs in one game for Texas.
2007 Phil Garner manages his 2,000th game. His record: 966-1,032.
2008 CC Sabathia homers for the Brewers in a 3-2 win over the Reds. Earlier this year he homered for Cleveland in a game, thus becoming the first pitcher to homer for two teams in one season since Earl Wilson in 1970.
2008 Mark Redman plays in his last game.
2009 The Nationals fire their manager, Manny Acta.
2010 George Steinbrenner dies.