20,000 days ago, Brooklyn got the bad news. On that day—Aug. 8, 1957—Dodgers team owner Walter O’Malley announced the team was headed for greener pastures out west in Los Angeles. And by greener, I mean richer.
This was the conclusion of a new stadium fight for the Dodgers. There are two versions of it. In one version, O’Malley wanted to keep the team in Brooklyn but couldn’t get the deal he wanted. That is, not surprisingly, the view of the Dodgers.
Ebbets Field, the Dodgers’ old Brooklyn home, was a small place and the Dodgers wanted something bigger, and with better amenities. He’d even floated the notion of building a domed stadium—this a decade before the Astrodome. But the city wouldn’t give him the land he wanted. Supposedly, the city offered him land in Queens, and he said, well, I can’t take the Brooklyn team to Queens.
The Brooklyn die-hard view has a simpler tale: Walter O’Malley is evil. Any talk he had with the city fathers was just that—talk. He saw greener pastures in California, and got the Giants to go along with him, giving him a local and traditional rival out west. Some diehard Brooklyn-ites have long since argued that the three worst men of the 20th century are Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Walter O’Malley.
Odds are some of both tales are true. O’Malley was a businessman first and foremost, and he recognized the promise of California and did want to go out there. Lord knows he did enough to lay the groundwork, from acquiring rights to the region from the Cubs to convincing the Giants to joining him and handling many other lesser details in advance. Then again, if he could get a lucrative enough deal in New York City, why not take it? O’Malley methodically and ruthlessly made himself the best deal he could.
And 20,000 days ago, people found out what it was.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary today. They are listed below; with the better ones in bold to make it easier for anyone who just wants to skim the list.
1,000 days since Phillies closer Brad Lidge makes two errors on one play. Atlanta ends up winning the game, 4-3.
4,000 days since Paul LoDuca of the Dodgers gets six hits in an 11-inning game.
4,000 days since Chuck Finley has the worst Game Score of his career: 4. His line: 1 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, and 1 K.
6,000 days since the Indians sign free agent Julio Franco.
1891 Tony Mullane, a career 280+ game winner, allows two inside the park home runs in one game. This was the third time it happened to him in 16 days. This happens to him only two other times in his career.
1897 Washington catcher Duke Farrell throws out eight would-be base stealers. His team loses anyway, 6-3 to Baltimore.
1903 Charlie Gehringer, Hall of Fame second baseman, is born.
1904 After six innings of hitless ball today, Cy Young finally allowes a hit, ending a still-record stretch of 23 hitless innings.
1907 All-Star pitcher Rip Sewell is born.
1919 Reds pitcher Hod Eller throws a no-hitter for a 6-0 win over the Cardinals. He fans eight and walks three.
1919 Pitchers duel: Yankee-Senators game ends tied 0-0 after 12 innings. New York can muster only two hits against (who else?) Senators ace Walter Johnson. New York pitcher Jack Quinn allows 10 hits (including one to Johnson) and four walks, but none come around to score.
For Quinn, it’s his first complete game shutout in five years. He came up as a Yankee in 1909, went to the Braves in 1913, and then the Federal League in 1914-15. Then he went to the minors and was still trying to re-establish himself at age 35 with the Yankees again. He does and will stay in the big leagues until 1933, at which time he’s 49 years old, the oldest real major league player of all time.
1920 Hall of Famer Ross Youngs hits three triples in one game.
1920 Babe Ruth hits two homers in today’s game. It’s the first of 69 games in which he’ll homer more than once.
1922 Hall of Fame umpire Nester Chylock is born.
1923 Hall of Fame spitballer Burleigh Grimes wins his 100th game (100-79).
1923 Pacific Coast League player Pete Schneider hits five home runs and has 14 RBIs one game, a 35-14 win for his squad.
1923 Phillies beat Cards 20-14 as the two teams combine for a record 10 homers and 79 total bases. Philly’s Cy Williams hit three homers in the game.
1924 Moses Fleetwood Walker, baseball’s first black player, dies. He played when the color line was being created.
1925 Ray Schalk catches a ball dropped from the top of Tribune Tower, 460 feet up.
1926 The Reds purchase veteran pitcher Art Nehf from the Giants.
1930 Indians get 27 hits and score in every inning accept the eighth in a 25-7 win over A’s. They do it without hitting a single home run.
1931 Hall of Famer Chuck Klein belts his 100th career home run. Fewer than 40 people had done that at this point.
1932 Wild Bill Hallahan lives up to his nickname, with three wild pitches in one inning.
1932 13-year-old eighth grader Joe Schulz steals second and third bases as a pinch runner in a Texas League game. If you’ve ever read Ball Four, yes this is the same Joe Schulz who later managed the Seattle Pilots.
1936 Mel Ott is a one-man wrecking crew, leading the Giants to a 13-12 win over the Phillies. He went 3-for-5 with a double, home run, career-high eight RBIs, and three runs scored.
1937 Old Reliable Tommy Henrich makes his big league debut.
1939 Milt Pappas is born.
1940 The perennial powerhouse Yankees fall into last place after a loss to Boston Red Sox.
1941 The Dodgers release Paul Waner.
1944 Hal Trosky steals home in 16th inning of White Sox’ 4-2 win over the A’s.
1945 Hall of Famer George Kell hits his only inside the park home run. As it happens it’s his second career homer.
1946 It’s the first night game at Braves Field. The New York Giants win 5-1 before 37,407, the largest crowd there in 13 years. It’s also the 1,000th game managed by Braves skipper Billy Southworth, who ends the night with a 629-356 record.
1949 White Sox score in every inning in 12-8 win over The Red Sox at Comiskey. So I assume they didn’t get a chance to bat in the ninth.
1949 The Red Sox release Denny Galehouse, who started a one-game playoff for the pennant last year for them. (He lost that game, as you might guess).
1950 Sen. Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut introduces legislation for the observance of National Baseball Day.
1950 Fenway fans boo Ted Williams for making errors in both games of doubleheader in Boston, and he gives the crowd “an insulting gesture.” He’ll also smash a grand slam.
1951 The Indianapolis Clowns play their season opener with a new player: Teenaged Hank Aaron.
1952 Bob Lemon scores his 100th win: 100-61
1955 Ernie Banks hits his first career grand slam. He’ll hit five this year and 12 in his career.
1955 The Indians release Hal Newhouser.
1956 Danny Kravitz hits a walk-off grand slam for the Phillies in a 6-5 win over Pirates. He’ll hit only 10 homers in his career.
1958 Future Tigers workhorse Walt Terrell is born.
1963 Sandy Koufax pitches his second no-hitter. He allows two walks and fans only four as the Dodgers beat the Giants 8-0.
1964 Bobby Witt, hard-throwing pitcher with virtually no control, is born.
1972 Tom Seaver wins his 100th game. He becomes 100-55 for his career.
1973 Gene Mauch manages his 2,000th game. He’s 924-1,073 for his career.
1974 Jimmy Wynn, Dodger, hits three home runs in one game.
1975 Tom Seaver celebrates the three-year anniversary of his 100th win by posting his 150th win: 150-90.
1975 Francisco Cordero, closer, is born.
1976 Steve Carlton wins his 150th game: 150-120. Not bad, but he’s no Tom Seaver.
1977 Ted Turner manages the Braves for a day. They lose 2-1, their 17th straight loss. It’s a strange day to manage, as the opposing Pirates win their 11th straight that day—and that’s the longest winning streak opposing manager Chuck Tanner ever had. Also in that game, Phil Niekro loses his seventh straight decision, a career worst. His numbers in that spell: 0-7, 9 GS, 4 CG, 58 IP, 72 H, 43 R, 40 ER, 35 BB, 41 K, and a 6.21 ERA. I love that he still has four complete games in that streak.
1978 In a Padres-Cubs game, San Diego ace Gaylord Perry, who balked only six times in his 5,000+-innings pitched career, balks twice in one game. The umpires also call a balk on Cubs reliever Bruce Sutter..
1979 The Yankees purchase Jim Kaat from Phillies.
1980 Pete Rose, age 39, steals second, third and home in one inning. He’s the first NL player to do that since Jackie Robinson in 1954. It’s only the second time Rose steals three bases in a game, let alone an inning.
1982 Dwight Evans triples twice in one game
1982 Gaylord Perry pitches his 5,000th inning.
1984 Tigers set a record with the best 30-game start ever: 26-4. (1955 Dodgers went 25-5, the previous best).
1984 For the only time in his life, Joe Morgan ends a game by fanning with the bases loaded. His A’s team loses 4-3 to the Orioles.
1985 Davey Concepcion gets his 2,000th hit.
1986 Bill Almon hits a walk-off inside-the-park home run, something that hasn’t happened in the major leagues in seven years.
1987 Relief pitcher Mike Henneman makes his big league debut.
1988 The Cubs top the Padres 1-0 in 10 innings, with the only run scoring on the rare walk-off sacrifice bunt. Most times that happens it’s really an error, but this is an honest to goodness attempt to score the only run on a bunt. It’s really a brain fart by the fielder, who throws to first, not even trying to get the lead runner, never mind that the run ends the game. This is one of only two 1-0 games since 1950 to end with a walk-off sac bunt. The other is also a Cubs win (on June 9, 1977).
1990 Yankees trade Dave Winfield to the Angels. Winfield, exercising his 5-10 rights, initially rejects it, but lets it go through five days later.
1990 It mercifully ends. After going 0-for-41, young Sox star Robin Ventura gets a hit. It’s an infield single to the pitcher. Far too many of his last 41 at-bats were either Ks or weak outs.
1992 WPA’s favorite Larry Walker game: 0.898 WPA: 2-for-2 with four walks (two intentional), three RBIs, one run, and a stolen base as he leads the Expos to a 6-5 win over the Dodgers.
1994 Third baseman Jeff Cirillo makes his big league debut.
1994 Mets reliever Mel Rojas strikes out the side on nine pitches in the ninth inning against the Mets.
1996 Al Leiter throws a no-hitter, the first by a Marlin, as they win 11-0 over the Rockies. Leiter walks two, and fans six.
1998 Ivan Rodriguez laces his 1,000th career hit.
1998 Randy Winn first plays in the major leagues.
1999 Mirror image: Bobby Jones of the Mets faces off against Bobby Jones of the Rockies when their teams play play. It’s the first time in baseball history opposing starting pitchers have the same first and last names. They have different middle names, as Bobby J. is a Met, and Bobby M. a Rockie.
2000 Lou Piniella manages his 2,000th game. He’s 1,036-964 for his career at this point.
2001 A’s 7, Red Sox 6. This is an odd loss because in the bottom of the ninth the would-be tying run would’ve scored—except a trailing runner tries to advance and is called out for an inning and game ending double play before the man on third can score.
2001 Rick Ankiel, one day after throwing five wild pitches, is sent to the minors to work on his control.
2002 Arizona’s Byung-Hyun Kim strikes out the side on nine pitches in the eighth inning against the Phillies.
2003 Rafael Palmeiro bangs out his 500th home run.
2003 Marlins fire manager Jeff Torborg and hire Jack McKeon. This turns out to be a great move: The floundering Marlins will turn it around under their new skipper and win the World Series.
2004 Houston wins, putting Jimy Williams 130 games over .500 (887-757), his all-time peak.
2004 Pittsfield, Mass. city officials release a 1793 bylaw that they claim is the oldest written reference to baseball.
2004 Manny Ramirez celebrates his first day as an American citizen by leading teammates out of the dugout waving American flags.
2004 Fernando Vina plays his last game.
2005 Red Sox win second straight game on a walk-off home run.
2006 Bill Mueller plays his last major league game.
2006 Ken Griffey Jr. hits a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th with his team down by two runs. The swing is worth 0.786 WPA, the best Griffey ever gets on one swing. The Reds top the Nats, 5-4.
2007 Phil Garner loses his 1,000th game as a manager: 943-1,000.
2010 Johnny Cueto pitches a near no-hitter. A third inning single deflects off an infielder’s glove and that’s the only hit he allows in 9-0 Reds win over the Pirates.