Twenty years ago today marked an end to three careers, and all three ended very appropriately.
The best came in Montreal, where future Hall of Famer Gary Carter laced up his spikes for the final time. He’d first come to prominence as a star catcher the Expos in the 1970s. The team traded him to the Mets in the mid-1980s, but in 1992 the 38-year-old Carter returned to the town that welcomed him into the league.
As is typically the case for a player at the end of his days, Carter was just a shell of his former self, hitting .218 in part time duty that year. But he sure came through one last time 20 years ago today.
Sept. 27, 1992 was the Expos’ last home game of the year, and it was widely known that this was going to be it for Carter. He made an out in each of his first two times up, but had a wonderful opportunity when he came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
The Expos-Cubs game was a pitcher’s duel, tied 0-0. When Carter came up, young Larry Walker stood on first with two outs. With the crowd of 41,802 French-Canadians cheered him on, Carter fouled off the first two pitches to fall into an 0-2 hole.
On the third try, Carter’s aim was true. He launched one into the outfield that the Chicago defenders couldn’t get to. Walker scampered around the bases for the game’s first run while Carter ended up on second with a double. With the fans screaming at the top of their lungs, the Expos pulled Carter for a pinch runner. His day—and entire career—ended with the adoring fans cheering him on loudly and proudly. Few great players ever get a great sendoff like that, but Carter did. Oh – and that proved to be the game’s only run in a 1-0 Expos win. Yeah, that’s a nice touch.
The other retirements weren’t that dramatic, but still notable. On Sept. 27, 1992 in Baltimore, the Orioles were also playing their last home game of the season. They also wanted to have the fans see an old fan favorite in the season’s last home game—only Baltimore had a pair of players to offer.
Catcher Rick Dempsey and pitcher Mike Flanagan had both played for the Orioles in their glory years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Both had sojourned elsewhere but where back in 1992, for the last season of each of their careers.
In the top of the eighth, with Baltimore trailing the visiting Boston Red Sox, 6-1, manager Johnny Oates inserted Dempsey and Flanagan as his battery for the last two innings. The two men had played with each other for many years, and now could end their careers together in front of the fans that had long cheered them both on.
There was no great glory shot like Carter’s double, but they did handle the Red Sox for two innings without allowing a run. And then they, like Gary Carter elsewhere on that day, could walk off into the sunset.
And that sun set upon them on Sept. 27, 1992—20 years ago today.
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 through things.
1,000 days since Edwin Encarnacion of the Marlins goes to the hospital in his native Dominican Republic for facial burns due to a firecracker explosion. He’ll be released the next day.
1,000 days since Fenway Park hosts a hockey game. The Bruins top the Flyers 2-1 in OT.
2,000 days since Alex Rodriguez belts the third walk-off grand slam of his career.
6,000 days since Paul Molitor scores five runs in a game for the only time in his career.
7,000 days since Reds pitcher Tom Browning is arrested for possession of marijuana.
15,000 days since Billy North makes his big league debut.
15,000 days since Ron Cey makes his big league debut.
15,000 days since Jim Bunning plays in his last game.
15,000 days since Manny Mota hits a bases-loaded walk-off triple, one of just seven in all of baseball since 1953.
15,000 days since Philip K. Wrigley buys a newspaper ad to give his vote of confidence to embattled Cubs manager Leo Durocher and criticize the clubhouse’s “anti-Leo” faction.
30,000 days since 200 game winner Earl Whitehill notches his 11th straight victory, a personal best.
50,000 days since Jack Chesbro, Hall of Fame pitcher who won 41 games in 1904, is born.
1879 Lee Richmond, baseball’s first notable southpaw pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1888 Ed Crane throws a shortened game, seven-inning no-hitter.
1890 Ned Williamson, probably the best third baseman of the 1880s, plays in his final game.
1892 The New York Giants purchase Wee Willie Keeler from the Binghamton club in the Eastern League for $800. Even back then, that wasn’t too much.
1898 Hall of Famer Jake Beckley handles a record 22 chances in one game at first base.
1899 Jay Parker faces two batters, both of whom he walks and both of whom scores. He never appears in another major league game, giving him a lifetime ERA of infinity.
1902 Win Mercer, pitcher, plays in his last game. He’ll commit suicide next year.
1903 Chief Zimmer, 1890s catcher, plays in his last game.
1903 Tom Daly, infielder, plays in his last game.
1905 Bill Dineen throws a no-hitter: Red Sox 2, White Sox 0.
1908 Hans Lobert of the Reds steals second, third, and home in one inning versus St. Louis.
1919 Babe Ruth belts his last homer as a Red Sox. It’s also his 29th of the season, a new record.
1919 Johnny Pesky, Red Sox icon, is born.
1919 Sherry Magee, deadball slugger, plays in his last game.
1920 The White Sox play their last game before the deluge breaks over the 1919 World Series fix. Playing in this game (which will thus be their last game ever): Buck Weaver, Swede Risberg, and Shoeless Joe Jackson.
1920 In a note rather clearly related to the above item, the Chicago White Sox all-time franchise record peaks at 314 games over .500 (1,637-1,323). They’ll tie it five days later, but never better it.
1921 Ray Powell, Boston Braves, hits three triples in one game.
1922 Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson makes his big league debut.
1923 Lou Gehrig hits his first home run.
1926 In the season finale for the Cleveland Indians, Tris Speaker manages his last big league game, and Bill Wambsganss (who famously had an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series) last plays.
1928 The Giants lose 3-2 when umpire Bill Klem doesn’t call interference in a play at the plate even though it was blatant. Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett had the runner in a bear hug to keep him from scoring.
1928 Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez makes his big league playing debut at catcher.
1928 Lefty Grove strikes out the side on nine pitches in the first inning against the White Sox.
1928 Red Ruffing has his worst Game Score: 0. His line: 8 IP, 17 H, 14 R, 12 ER, 4 BB, and 8 K. He got the complete game.
1930 Babe Ruth gets his 21st sacrifice hits of the year. He’ll never have another one in his career. In the 1930-31 offseason, the rules for what constitutes a sacrifice change, helping to explain that. Any sacrifice fly that advances a runner counted through 1930, but they don’t from 1931 onward.
1931 Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons has his worst start ever: 2.2 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, and 1 K for a Game Score of –2.
1931 Hall of Famer Edd Roush plays in his last game.
1931 Lefty Grove makes his last start of the year, and gets killed. He allows five runs on eight hits in three innings. The loss drops his record to 31-4 and his ERA rises from 1.92 to 2.06. The league ERA is 4.38 that year. As great as his year was, he was even greater until this last game.
1931 Hall of Fame skipper Wilbert Robinson manages his last game. His team wins, giving him a career record of 1,399-1,398. Good thing for him his team won its last two games.
1933 Carl Hubbell wins his 100th game, giving him a record of 100-64. After today, he’ll be 153-90 for the rest of his career.
1935 Every game in the AL is rained out.
1935 The Cubs win their 21st straight game, clinching the NL pennant in the process.
1936 Walter Alston, who will later become a Hall of Fame manager, plays in his only big league game.
1938 Joe McCarthy manages his 2,000th game. His record: 1,218-760.
1938 Hank Greenberg homers twice in a game for the fourth time in 17 days, and the 11th time this season. He has 58 homers, but will belt no more in the last five games of the year.
1938 On the 15th anniversary of his first home run, Lou Gehrig belts his 493rd and final one.
1940 In a big game in the AL pennant race, the Indians and Tigers meet. Cleveland fans dump a basket of tomatoes on the Tigers, knocking out catcher Birdie Tebbetts. An umpire threatens to forfeit unless the crowd controls itself, and later says the basket hit Tebbetts so hard he feared the backstop was dead. The Tigers overcome that (and Indians pitcher Bob Feller) with a 2-0 win to clinch the flag. Feller only gave up two hits, but that was enough.
1941 Virgil Trucks, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1941 Ted Williams goes 1-for-4, dropping his batting average on the year to .3995.
1942 Dixie Walker collects his 1,000th hit.
1942 Charlie Gehringer, Hall of Fame second baseman, plays his last game.
1944 Star Tigers pitcher Hal Newhouser wins, raising his career record to 62-61. It’ll always be over .500 from here on out. It was under .500 before due to poor run support. After today’s win, he’ll be 146-89 for the rest of his career.
1945 Paul Derringer, 200-game-winner, plays his last game (not including the upcoming World Series, which he’ll appear in for the Cubs).
1946 Hal Trosky, terrific slugger whose career had been derailed by back problems, plays his final game.
1947 The White Sox release Thornton Lee, a star pitcher for them for many years.
1949 Mike Schmidt is born.
1949 For the 84th straight game, Ted Williams reaches base. His line in that time: .371/.518/.695 with 92 walks and 19 strikeouts.
1950 Exactly 30 years after the all-time franchise peak, the White Sox franchise cumulative record reaches its all-time low, 109 games under .500 (3,716-3,825). The Sox will tie that level early next year, but never be worse. Thus their record in the past 30 years has been: 2,079-2,502.
1951 Warren Giles becomes new NL president, replacing Ford Frick.
1952 Eddie Mathews becomes the last Boston Brave to hit three home runs in a game.
1953 Skipper Steve O’Neill wins his 1,000th game. His record: 1,000-784.
1953 Fred Hutchinson, pitcher, plays his last game. He is a pitcher-manager this year, the last pitcher-manager in big league history. However, today is the only game he pitched in since being named manager.
1953 The St. Louis Browns lose their final game, 2-1 in 11 innings to the White Sox. It’s also their 100th loss of the season. Next year they’ll become the Baltimore Orioles.
1957 Seals Stadium owners agree to rent the facility to the Giants until Candlestick Park is ready.
1959 Sparky Anderson plays his final game. I bet he looked old even then.
1960 Four-decade player Mickey Vernon plays in his last game.
1961 Bill Mazeroski hits his only regular season walk-off home run.
1961 Sandy Koufax sets an NL record (since 1900 anyway) with 269 strikeouts in a season. The old record was 267 by Christy Mathewson. That said, Koufax loses the game despite a Game Score of 76, the second highest mark for someone stuck for the loss all season. LA loses 2-1 on a pair of unearned runs.
1963 Cincinnati pitcher John Tsitouris throws his third straight shutout. He holds opponents to a mere eight hits over that span.
1963 Houston breaks out its super-young lineup, with an average age of 19 years and four months in the starting lineup; 15 rookies appear in the game, which Houston loses 10-3 to the Mets. The kiddie korps includes Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn and Rusty Staub.
1963 Johnny Logan plays in his last game.
1964 Johnny Callison hits three home runs in one game for the Phillies.
1964 Randy Hundley, catcher and father of a catcher, makes his big league debut.
1967 Jim Bunning suffers his fifth 1-0 loss of the year, this one in 11 innings to Houston. Bunning will end the season with a 17-15 record despite a 2.29 ERA and six shutouts.
1968 Clay Carroll becomes the last Cincinnati Reds reliever to throw nine innings in one stint out of the bullpen.
1968 Larry Jackson, 200-game winner, plays in his last game.
1968 Dick Howser, manager of the 1980s Royals, plays in his final game.
1968 Eddie Mathews appears in his last regular season game. He’ll appear in the World Series with his Tigers teammates.
1968 Reggie Jackson has his worst day at the plate, going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts, his only five-K game.
1968 Johnny Bench endures his worst WPA game: -0.477 WPA. He was 1-for-6 with a double but two GIDPs, as the Giants beat the Reds 3-2.
1969 Jerry Reuss makes his big league debut. Of all the four-decade players, he’s the one who most barely makes it. He has this one game in the 1960s, and one in the 1990.
1969 Jim Maloney nearly throws a no-hitter. A Joe Morgan third-inning infield single is the only hit he allows, as the Reds top the Astros 3-0.
1970 Reggie Jackson belts his 100th home run.
1972 Don Sutton throws his third straight shutout. His line in this span: 29 IP, 13 H, 0 R, 9 BB, 25 K.
1972 Bob Boone makes his big league debut.
1973 The Reds suspend Bobby Tolan for insubordination. It has been a series of incidents—scuffles with club personnel, going AWOL for two days in August, and growing a beard in violation of team facial hair policies.
1973 On his last pitch of the season, Nolan Ryan gets his 383rd strikeout, setting a new single season record.
1974 The Royals release Orlando Cepeda.
1974 Ken Griffey Sr. hits the rare walk-off sacrifice hit in a 4-3 Reds win over the Giants.
1974 Jim Palmer has his best game, according to both WPA and Game Score. His line: 12 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, and 5 K for a 1.023 WPA and 93 Game Score. Opposing him, Milwaukee Brewer starter Jim Colborn does even better, throws 13 scoreless inning. The deadlock is only broken in the 17th inning, when Baltimore scores the game’s only run on a walk-off error. Ouch.
1975 Catfish Hunter matches his personal best with 12 strikeouts in one game.
1975 Veteran relief Lindy McDaniel appears in his last game.
1975 Veteran starting pitcher Claude Osteen appears in his last game.
1975 Tony Taylor gets his 2,000th hit.
1976 Don Sutton throws his 15th consecutive Quality Start, a personal best streak he’ll later tie. His numbers in this span: 12-1 W-L, 129.2 IP, 85 H, 21 R, 19 ER, 34 BB, and 78 K for a miniscule 1.32 ERA.
1977 Jimmy Wynn appears in his final game.
1977 Relief pitcher Dave Giusti appears in his last contest.
1977 Vicente Padilla, one of the only pitchers to beat all 30 teams, is born.
1979 Carlton Fisk hits the first of four walk-off home runs in his career.
1979 Starting pitcher Jon Garland is born.
1979 Roy White plays in his final contest.
1979 George Scott appears in his last big league game.
1980 Tigers backstop Lance Parrish does something rare for a catcher—hit two triples in one game.
1981 La Marr Hoyt becomes the last White Sox to pitch nine innings in relief. It’s happened only twice in all baseball since then. The manager is Tony LaRussa, not normally known for giving his relievers long outings. In the first inning, Oakland belted eight straight singles, which brought Hoyt in. Hoyt rallies the team from a 5-0 deficit to an 8-5 win.
1981 Former 20-game winner Ed Figueroa appears in his last game.
1981 Tom Seaver posts a win, putting him a personal best of 116 games over .500 (259-143). Tom Terrific will be 52-62 the rest of the way.
1982 Sparky Lyle appears in his last game.
1983 Four days after his 300th win, Steve Carlton loses his 200th decision. He’ll be 29-44 in the remainder of his career.
1986 Jack Morris throws a complete game 10-inning shutout as the Tigers beat the Yankees, 1-0. It’s an early taste of Morris’ Game Seven magic in 1991. The Yankee starter today is a young Doug Drabek.
1986 Royals pitcher Dennis Leonard appears in his last game.
1986 Texas beats California 1-0 in a game featuring only five hits, three by Texas and two by California. The winning pitcher is Charlie Hough, who earlier in the season lost a 1-0 game to California on an unearned run after Hough had a no-hitter entering the bottom of the ninth. So today’s 1-0 win is revenge for the earlier tough 1-0 loss.
1987 Bert Blyleven walks the first batter of the game for the first time since April 29, 1980, 216 starts ago for him.
1987 It’s a rough outing for Chuck Finley, who walks in a run in two different innings.
1987 Phil Niekro appears in his last big league game.
1987 Veteran pitcher Ray Burris plays in his last game.
1987 The Tigers top Toronto 3-2 in 13 innings. It’s part of Toronto’s horrible finale to the 1987 season that costs them the division to the Tigers. Toronto led today’s game 1-0 until the bottom of the ninth when Detroit ties it. Both teams score one run in the 11th frame.
1987 Chuck Finley has a rough day. In two different innings he walks in a run.
1988 Ron Guidry makes his last appearance in a major league game.
1989 Doyle Alexander appears in his last game. For a long time, he’ll be the last pitcher to throw more than 200 innings in his final season.
1989 Tony Gwynn has a pair of sacrifice hits in one game for the only time in his career.
1989 Longtime shortstop Craig Reynolds appears in his last game.
1990 Bob Boone, on the anniversary of his first game, plays in his last game.
1992 Randy Johnson fans 18 in a no-decision. His line: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, and 18 K.
1995 In his final start of the regular season, Greg Maddux wins his 150th decision. His record: 150-93. He’ll go 205-134 from here on out.
1996 Garret Anderson gets six hits in a 15-inning game. He’s the first Angel to get six hits in a game.
1996 Mike Henneman appears in his final game.
1996 Ken Griffey Jr. endures maybe his worst game: 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He has two other four-K games, but had a hit in each of them.
1996 Roberto Alomar spits in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck in an Orioles-Blue Jays game.
1997 Infielder Greg Gagne appears in his last game.
1997 Randy Johnson finally gets to 20 wins in a season, albeit in a rather odd way. The Mariners are up 7-2 after four innings and manager Lou Piniella yanks the starting pitcher to let Johnson pitch relief. Since the starter went only our innings, he’s ineligible for the decision, thus it falls on Johnson.
1998 Dennis Martinez appears in his last game.
1998 Paul Molitor, ageless Hall of Famer, plays in his last game.
1998 Pete Incaviglia plays in his final game.
1998 Mark McGwire gets two home runs in a game for the second day in a row, fourth time in September, and 10th time all season.
2001 Harold Baines plays in his final game.
2001 When the Cubs play their first home game since 9/11, Sammy Sosa homers in the first inning, and runs around the bases with a miniature American flag the first base coach had stashed just for this occasion.
2001 Kevin Tapani plays in his final big league game.
2002 Chuck Knoblauch, All-Star second baseman who fell victim to a bad mental block, plays in his last game.
2003 The Tigers avoid infamy. Sitting on 119 losses, they fall behind 8-0 to Minnesota, but rally for a 9-8 win on a walk-off wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth. The wild pitch is thrown by Minnesota reliever Jesse Orosco, in what turns out to be the last pitch of his 24-year, 1,252-game career.
2003 Todd Hundley, on the 39th anniversary of his dad’s first game, appears in his last game.
2003 Ryan Madson makes his big league debut.
2006 Jeff Kent gets his 500th double.
2006 Jeromy Burnitz plays in his last big league game.
2006 Pedro Astacio makes his last big league appearance.
2007 Jim Thome becomes the fourth hitter to join the 2,000 strikeout club.
2008 Greg Maddux appears in his last game, and notches career win No. 355.
2008 Jeff Kent plays in his last big league contest.
2008 Paul Lo Duca appears in his final major league game.
2011 Arizona tops the Dodgers in a wild extra-inning game, 7-6. It’s 1-1 after nine innings, but then the Dodgers score five in the top of the 10th, only to allow six in the bottom half of the inning. The first two Diamondbacks hitters in the inning make outs, too. Ryan Roberts belts the walk-off grand slam to end it.
2011 Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder hits three home runs in one game.
2011 The Mets suffer a gut-wrenching 5-4 loss to the Reds in 13 innings. Cincinnati scores a run in the top of the 13th, and here’s what the Mets do in the bottom half of the frame: BB, CS, BB, Balk, BB, BB, GIDP. That’s got to hurt.