Twenty years ago today was a dark day in the history of the Chicago Cubs. And for just that reason, it also helped ensure the next 10-15 years would be very pleasant ones for Braves fans.
On July 16, 1992, Chicago’s ace pitcher Greg Maddux announced he’d broken off negotiations with the team’s front office for a new contract. Maddux was in the final year of a contract and said he’d given them plenty of chances to sign him, but now negotiations were over.
Yeah, that’s big news.
The negotiations with Maddux that year were pretty contentious. Cub GM Larry Himes had done a great job building a winner on the South Side of town when he ran the White Sox from 1986-90 but was having trouble in his first year on the job on the North Side in 1992.
Maddux was their best pitcher by far. He’d emerged as a great talent in the first half of 1988, and since then alternated rough patches with stretches of obvious brilliance. By 1992, it looked like he’d put it altogether and was in the midst of a Cy Young Award season.
Himes made Maddux a big offer, one that would make Maddux one of the highest paid pitchers in all of baseball. Maddux held out for a bit more. Instead of upping the offer or waiting out Maddux, Himes went on a PR offensive. He blasted Maddux and, if I recall correctly, lowered his initial offer.
By midsummer it seemed pretty clear that Maddux wasn’t coming back. I even remember one interview with Maddux that July in which he noted he might hear boos in Wrigley Field when the club returned from its road trip.
Of course, Maddux didn’t sign with the Cubs. Instead, he went to Atlanta, where he won added three more consecutive Cy Youngs after the one he won in Chicago. And he helped turn the Braves into one of baseball’s greatest dynasties of all time. He eventually did return to Wrigley Field, but well after his prime had ended.
Aside from that, many events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d prefer to just skim things.
2,000 days since the White Sox sign free agent Darin Erstad.
4,000 days since a judge orders Anheuser-Busch to pay the family of Roger Maris $50 million for improperly taking away his beer distributorship.
7,000 days since Mike Blowers of the Mariners smashes a grand slam for the second consecutive game.
7,000 days since Dave Winfield hits his 500th double.
8,000 days since the Reds release Ken Griffey Sr.
10,000 days since the Pirates sign free agent pitcher Rick Reuschel.
30,000 days since Hal Carlson, a still-active big league pitcher, dies at age 38. Tomorrow’s game will be postponed as a result.
30,000 days since Pete Alexander appears in his final game.
40,000 days since a peace meeting between AL and NL owners ends. It only takes two days and now the leagues accept each other as rival major leagues.
1853 The New York Clipper publishes what’s thought to be the first tabulated box score. It’s for a 21-12 Knickbocker win over Gotham.
1884 Providence suspends star pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn for insubordination.
1888 Shoeless Joe Jackson is born.
1890 Jim Whitney, star fireball pitcher of the 1880s, plays in his last game.
1897 Cap Anson becomes the first person to get 3,000 hits. (This doesn’t count his days in the National Association.)
1897 Star slugger Ed Delahanty goes 9-for-9 in a doubleheader.
1901 Cy Young wins his 12th straight game.
1902 John McGraw becomes the manager of the Giants.
1903 The Red Sox scores seven runs in the first inning, all after the third out is retired. Wait, what? Yeah, the third out is disallowed because the umpire was facing away for new balls when the pitch that caused the out was thrown. Given new life, the Red Sox take advantage of it. They win by seven, too, 11-4 over Cleveland.
1904 Star pitcher Jack Chesbro steals home in the bottom of the 10th for a 9-8 Yankees win. Yes, it’s a walk-off steal of home in extra innings by a pitcher!
1905 The Phillies select former star pitcher Kid Nichols off waivers from the Cardinals.
1907 Ty Cobb steals home for the first time in his career.
1909 The Senators and Tigers meet up in the longest double-shutout ever: 18 innings of 0-0 ball. Ed Summers of Detroit gets the complete game.
1912 Tris Speaker extends his hitting streak to 30 games.
1913 Bob Shawkey makes his major league debut.
1920 Babe Ruth hits his 30th home run of the year, setting a new record for most home runs in one season. The year before, Ruth set a new record with 29 dingers.
1920 Pirates pitcher Earl Hamilton clearly runs out of steam in the 17th inning, as he loses 7-0 to the Giants in 17 frames.
1921 Arthur Irwin, former player and manager, dies at sea.
1924 Giants star George “Highpockets” Kelly homers in his sixth consecutive game. He’s 13-for-26 in the span with a double and seven homers.
1928 Tris Speaker hits the last of his still-record 792 career doubles.
1929 For the second day in a row, Chuck Klein homers twice in one game. Due to doubleheaders, they aren’t in consecutive games.
1932 Jesse Haines hits a home run and tosses a complete-game shutout, leading St. Louis to a 2-0 win over the Phillies.
1933 Red Lucas gets a complete-game win in Cincinnati’s 15-inning, 1-0 victory over the Giants.
1936 Catcher Al Lopez makes three errors in one game in Boston’s 1-0 loss to the Cubs in 10 innings.
1936 Today’s Reds-Dodgers game is called off due to intense heat.
1941 Casey Stengel manages his 1,000th game. His record: 445-548.
1941 Joe DiMaggio gets another hit—three in all, actually—extending his streak to 56 straight games. This is where it will end.
1943 200-game winner Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons appears in his last game.
1948 Leo Durocher becomes the manager of the Giants.
1950 Duke Snider enjoys his only 5-for-5 game.
1951 The Yankees option young star-to-be Mickey Mantle to Double-A because he’s striking out too much.
1954 Richie Ashburn draws five walks in one game for the Phillies.
1955 The A’s release Johnny Sain.
1956 Fred Knorr and John Fetzer buy the Tigers and Briggs Stadium for $5.5 million.
1958 It’s the best-known WPA game by anyone in the history of the Senators-Twins franchise. Roy Sievers posts a 1.083 WPA by going 2-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs in Washington’s 7-6 win over the Indians.
1958 Orioles pitcher Jack Harshman homers twice in a 6-5 win over the White Sox.
1960 Third baseman Terry Pendleton is born.
1960 Yogi Berra whacks the last of his nine career grand slams.
1963 Willie Mays legs out the last of his six career inside-the-park home runs.
1967 Lew Burdette appears in his last game.
1967 Bill Stoneman makes his big league debut.
1968 Jose Cardenal of the Indians gets his second unassisted double play of the year. He’s just the fourth outfielder ever to do that. His first unassisted double play was on June 8.
1968 Mickey Mantle gets his first sacrifice bunt in seven years, since Sept. 2, 1961. That means he had one while chasing Ruth’s home run record in 1961.
1969 Rod Carew steals home for the seventh time all year, tying Pete Reiser’s 1946 record. It comes with the bases loaded against the White Sox, and the catcher is unable to hold the ball. Carew won’t steal home again.
1969 The Pirates sign amateur free agent Kent Tekulve.
1970 The Cubs suffer a really tough loss, falling 2-1 to the Astros. Both runs are unearned as Chicago pitcher Ken Holtzman allows just two hits. Even worse, a would-be home run by Billy Williams in the ninth inning hits a speaker in the Astrodome and drops foul.
1970 In the first game ever played at Three Rivers Stadium, the Reds top the Pirates 3-2.
1971 Pittsburgh’s Bob Robertson hits a ball 70 feet high into the upper deck in right field.
1975 Baseball owners vote to reelect commissioner Bowie Kuhn to a new seven-year term.
1977 Bill Singer pitches in his last game.
1978 Dave Righetti sets a Texas League record by fanning 21 Midland batters in nine innings. But he doesn’t get the win when the reliever blows it in extra innings for a 4-2 loss.
1980 Houston puts J.R. Richard on a 21-day disabled list with mysterious arm problems. The team suspects he’s just malingering, but soon he’ll suffer a stroke.
1983 Larry Bowa gets his 2,000th career hit.
1983 Dwight Evans hits his 200th home run.
1985 The White Sox trade veteran hitter Tom Paciorek to the Mets.
1985 For the year’s All-Star game, Lou Whitaker forgets to bring his jersey. Oops.
1986 Milwaukee signs aging free agent Gorman Thomas.
1987 John McNamara loses his 1,000th game. His record: 968-1,000.
1987 Ken Caminiti makes his big league debut.
1988 In the longest game in Texas League history, San Antonio Missions 1, Jackson Mets 0 (26).
1989 Darrell Evans gets the last of his 24 multi-home run games.
1989 Kent Tekulve appears in his final career game.
1990 Oops! White Sox backup Steve Lyons slides into first on a bunt, and then forgets where he is and pulls down his pants to brush off the dirt.
1995 Manny Ramirez hits his best home run according to WPA: 0.846 WPA. In the bottom of the 12th, he hits a two-run shot off Dennis Eckersley to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 walk-off win. It’s just the 40th home run in his career.
1996 Mike Mussina allows seven doubles in one game.
1997 The Mets name Steve Phillips their new general manager.
1998 The White Sox release former All-Star starting pitcher Jason Bere.
1999 Carlos Beltran reaches on error three times in one game.
1999 Lance Berkman makes his big league debut.
2000 Dave Johnson is hospitalized after experiencing dizziness due to an irregular heartbeat.
2000 Mark Buehrle makes his big league debut.
2003 Minnie Minoso becomes the first person to play in seven decades as a pro when he appears as a DH for the Northern League’s St. Paul Saints.
2003 The Mets trade Armando Benitez to the Yankees.
2004 Cleveland’s Victor Martinez hits three homers in one game.
2006 Florida sends Al Leiter to the Yankees as part of a conditional deal.
2007 The A’s trade Jason Kendall to the Cubs.
2010 Bengie Molina, of all people, hits for the cycle. His home run is a grand slam, making this only the ninth slam/cycle combination. I once figured it was the seventh least likely cycle of all-time.
2011 An RBI-single by Ichiro Suzuki for the Mariners against the Rangers ends both a 30-inning streak for Seattle without scoring and a 33-inning streak for the Rangers in which they allowed no runs.