25th anniversary of Robby Thompson’s day in baserunning hell (6/27/11)

Twenty-five years ago today, Robby Thompson of the San Francisco Giants, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds, had the worst day anyone’s ever had running the bases.

The fun began in the fourth inning. Having already flown out in the first and connected for a sacrifice fly in the third, Thompson finally got on, singling with the bases empty and one out while the Giants enjoyed a 5-1 lead.

However, immediately after singling, Thompson broke for second, only to be thrown out by Cincinnati catcher Bo Diaz in a thwarted stolen base attempt. Yeah, that’ll happen sometimes, but it wouldn’t stop happening for Thompson on June 27, 1986.

Thompson came up again in the sixth inning and laced an RBI single to give San Francisco a 6-2 lead. Once again, he challenged Diaz’s arm when he shouldn’t have. His second caught stealing of the day ended the inning.

Thompson had his next turn at the bat in the ninth inning. By this time Cincinnati had stormed back to tie it, 6-6. Thompson led off the top of the ninth by lining a single to center.

You’d think by this time the Giants hold know to leave well enough alone and let Thompson stay at first. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. Thompson tried to steal second, and Diaz gunned him down. Again. The Giants had now wasted an inning’s worth of outs having Thompson try, and fail, to steal second.

Onward to extra innings. With two out in the 11th, Thompson strode to the plate for the sixth time this day. This time he didn’t single. He struck out, but his swinging strike three in the dirt got away from Diaz, and Thompson scampered safely to first.

You know what happened next, right? Yeah, a caught stealing. Sort of.

Sort of? Officially it was a caught stealing, but this time Diaz had nothing to do with it. Relief pitcher John Franco picked Thompson off of first, and he had to bolt for second in a desperate and futile effort to avoid the out.

If it’s any consolidation, the Giants won, 7-6, in 12 innings. They won, but Thompson made history the wrong way: Most caught stealings in one game.

Final side note: the Giants recorded several substandard SB/CS ratios when Roger Craig managed them. Most “impressively,” in 1987, Will Clark had five steals in 22 attempts—that’s right, there were 17 caught stealings on him. Thompson would have 28 steals versus 26 caught stealings from 1986-87.

I researched this in my book, Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, and determined that Craig apparently really liked the hit-and-run. His teams had the uncanny ability to hit into considerably fewer double plays than one would expect given their number of times on base and also had rather poor SB/CS rates.

I don’t know if there were any hit-and-runs on June 27, 1986, but it did fit an overall pattern of how Craig’s teams played.

Aside from Thompson, here are some other events celebrating their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event that happened X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.

Day-versaries

7,000 days since a 37-year-old Ozzie Smith steals three bases in one game

8,000 days since Robin Yount hit his 200th career home run.

8,000 days since the Twins traded Frank Viola to the Mets for Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, and three others.

20,000 days since turn-of-the-century Pirate pitcher Jesse Tannehill dies

20,000 days since the worst known WPA game for Ted Williams: 0-for-4 with one walk and one K for a -0.372 WPA in a 2-1 Red Sox loss to the Yankees.

30,000 days since Frankie Frisch hit his 100th career triple.

30,000 days since Carl Hubbell threw a no-hitter over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 11-0. He walked one and fanned four. The first two batters he faced in the ninth both reached on error, but Hubbell then got a strikeout and double play grounder to end it. That Pirate team collected 1,663 hits that season, the most ever by a no-hit team, making this the third impressive no-hitter of all-time.

30,000 days since Mel Ott hit his second and final career inside-the-park home run. It’s only his 24th homer overall. (His first insider was also his first career home run, period)

Anniversaries

1876 Davy Force becomes the first person in MLB history with six hits in one game.

1879 Bobby Mathews, pitcher who won 297 games (including in the proto-MLB National Association), hits his only career home run.

1884 Larry Corcoran becomes the first pitcher ever to toss three no-hitters.

1887 MLB debut: George Van Haltren, a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

1891 Clark Griffith, Hall of Fame owner who arguably could’ve been inducted for his pitching career, hits his only grand slam.

1891 MLB debut: Buck Freeman, turn-of-the-century slugger. He held the record for most homers in a season from 1900-onward until Babe Ruth came along.

1896 Eight members of the Cleveland Spiders arrested in Louisville over their efforts to intimidate umpires. (Breaching the peace was the official charge.)

1902 Andrew Freeman hires John McGraw to manage the Giants. Not a bad move.

1903 Ed Delahanty suffers from alcoholic-induced delirium. He pulls a large knife and threatens to kill himself at one point.

1905 Hall of Fame Frank Selee manages his last game.

1910 The White Sox play their last game at the 39th Street Grounds, losing 7-2 to the Indians. They’ve spent the last 101 years at the intersection of 35th and Shields.

1911 Stuffy McInnis of the A’s pulls a fast one. He steps into the batter’s box during warm-up pitches by the Red Sox hurler, and decides to swing at one while the Boston players are still taking their positions. He nails it, the umpire allows it and McInnis ends up with an inside-the-park home run. The league later rejects Boston’s protests
.

1917 Star catcher Hank Gowdy, who signed up to join the military on June 2, begins his military service. He’s the first player to leave MLB for World War I.

1921 Black Sox trial starts in Chicago.

1922 Relief pitcher Cliff Markle fans 10 batters, the first time I know a reliever fanned that many. His mark won’t be topped for 11 years.

1923 Slugger Gus Zernial born

1930 Jack Quinn, age 46, becomes the oldest person to hit a home run. Though Julio Franco will later break Quinn’s record, it should be noted that Quinn is a pitcher.

1930 Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Rice, a month and a half after his 40th birthday, hits two triples in one game. He’s the oldest person since 1920 (and maybe ever) to do that.

1938 Jimmie Foxx hits his 400th career home run. He’s only the third person to do so, after Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Heck, only two others (Mel Ott and Rogers Hornsby) are even over 300 at this point.

1939 Bob Feller tosses his third career no-hitter. He’ll retire with a record 12 of them. In this one, he fans 13 and walks six.

1939 Dodgers 2, Braves 2 (23).

1939 Ernie Lombardi, a famously slow-footed Cincinnati catcher, gets his first sacrifice hit since Aug. 28, 1933.

1940 Dodgers have a Jack Norworth Day at Ebbets Field. Norworth wrote the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

1943 Rico Petrocelli, second shortstop to hit 40 HR in a season, born.

1952 The Phillies fire manager Eddie Sawyer, who led them to the 1950 pennant.

1955 25-year-old Red Sox infielder (and Boston native) Harry Agganis dies from a blood clot while fighting pneumonia.

1958 Chicago White Sox Billy Pierce retires the first 26 batters he faces, but allows a pinch-hit double to Washington’s’ Ed Fitz Gerald when he’s one out from perfection. Pierce settles for his third consecutive complete game shutout.

1962 Mets sign Ed Kranepool as an amateur. He debuts with the team later that year and lasts with them until the late 1970s. He still owns many career records for the team.

1965 Bob Gibson reins over all: He homers and tosses a CG SHO, as the Cards beat the Cubs, 8-0. He does this six times in his career—this is No. 2. Oh, he also fanned 12.

1966 Jeff Conine born.

1967 The dumbest moment Al Kaline ever had: After Sam McDowell strikes him out, a frustrated Kaline slams his bat into the rack…and breaks his hand in the process. He’ll miss a month
.

1967 Frank Robinson injured in collision at second base. Due to double vision, he’ll miss 28 games.

1970 Fergie Jenkins sets a personal best with 14 strikeouts in a game. His line: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14 K. He’ll tie this mark twice more in his career, but this is the only time he does it in fewer than nine innings.

1970 Jim Edmonds born.

1972 Wade Blasingame of the Yankees becomes the second pitcher in history to allow three home runs without recording a single out in a game.

1972 Nolan Ryan benefits from a triple play against Minnesota. When Jim Nettles lines out in the fourth, Harmon Killebrew and Steve Braun are caught off guard and doubled up. Later that game, Nolan Ryan triples and scores the go-ahead run.

1973 Mike Schmidt has the first of 44 multi-home run games. One of his homers is a grand slam. It’s already his second career grand slam even though it’s only his ninth homer overall. He’ll end his career with seven slams in all.

1973 Joe Torre hits for the cycle.

1973 David Clyde, Texas, makes one of the most anticipated debuts in major league history, as people want to see if the hard-throwing Texas native can make the jump from high school to the big leagues. Turns out he couldn’t.

1974 Phil Nierko loses his 100th game: 118-100 career record.

1974 Jim Perry wins his 200th game: 200-159.

1974 The Angels fire manager Bobby Winkles and hire Whitey Herzog as interim manager. Within a week, Dick Williams gets the job.

1977 Bruce Sutter, Cubs, gets his 20th save of the year, which is a lot this early in the season back then. His ERA is 0.69.

1977 Willie McCovey homers twice in one inning. It’s the second time he’s done that, an achievement no previous player can claim (though Andre Dawson will later join him).

1978 San Diego’s Dave Kinney becomes the first pitcher to allow two pinch-hit grand slams in one season.

1979 Oh, the humiliation: Phil Niekro surrenders a walk-off walk. He entered the ninth with a 1-0 lead over the Padres, but loses 2-1. The manager who stuck with him: Bobby Cox.

1980 Jerry Reuss almost throws a perfect game. He holds the Giants hitless, doesn’t walk anyone, and doesn’t hit anyone, but shortstop Bill Russell committed an error in the first inning for San Francisco’s only baserunner of the day.

1983 The Mariners release Gaylord Perry

1984 According to WPA, the greatest game by an Indians hitter occurs today: Mel Hall has a 1.206 WPA by going 3-for-5 with a double, home run, scoring two runs, driving in five and stealing a base. Oh, he also struck out once. Despite all that, the Indians lose to the White Sox, 9-7.

1985 Duane Kuiper plays his last game.

1985 A Padre victory pushes Dick Williams, their manager, to 163 games over .500 for his career, his all-time best (1,372-1,209).

1986 The Padres trade Alan Wiggins to the Orioles.

1986 Phillies 2, Cardinals 1 (17). The Philly bullpen allows five hits and walks four in eight innings, but doesn’t allow any runs.

1987 First time in organized ball two teams with black managers face each other. In the Northwestern League, Boise manager Derrel Thomas matches wits against Bend manager Mel Roberts.

1987 Mark McGwire has one of his best games: 4-for-5 with three homers and a personal record five runs in one game. Even his non-hit was a reached on error.

1989 The first major league game featuring two black managers: Cito Gaston (Toronto) vs. Frank Robinson (Baltimore).

1991 MLB debut: Mo Vaughn.

1992 Sandy Amoros, who made a great catch to save the Dodgers in Game Seven of the 1955 World Series, dies.

1993 Anthony Young sets a record with his 24th straight loss

1993 Ron Gant fans four times, giving him seven in a row, and 10 in three games.

1996 WGN cameraman accuses Albert Belle of throwing a drink at him in the seventh inning of a game in which he’d been removed for a pinch hitter.

1999 1,765th and final game played at the Kingdome in Seattle. 56,530 see the Mariners beat the Rangers, 5-2.

2000 The Braves back off an earlier decision to ban the team’s broadcasters (Skip Caray, Peter Van Wieren, Joe Simpson, and Don Sutton) from flights. The ban came after they questioned the catcher’s box at Turner Field.

2000 Dodgers release Orel Hershiser.

2002 The Indians trade Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to the Expos for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens.

2002 The Padres lose, putting Bruce Bochy’s career record under .500 (597-598). Nearly 1,500 games later, it’s still under .500.

2003 The Red Sox score 10 runs before making their first out in a 50-minute bottom of the first inning.

2004 Barry Bonds scores his 2,000th run.

2004 The Mariners trade Freddy Garcia to the White Sox.

2005 If you combine his record in Japan and the US, Hideo Nomo wins his 200th career game.

2008 Carlos Delgado sets a record for most RBIs as a DH in a game with nine. He goes 3-for-5 with a double and two homers for the Mets against the Yankees.

2009 Garrett Anderson hits his 500th career double.

2009 The Indians trade Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals.

2009 Eric Milton plays his last game.

2010 Jamie Moyer surrenders his 506th career home run, surpassing Robin Roberts as the all-time gopher ball king.

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Comments

  1. Chris J. said...

    Mad – I’m sorry, that should say one-hitters.  Yeah, he tossed a one hitter on this day in 1939, the third of 12 in his career.

  2. Steve Treder said...

    Re:  Robby Thompson’s caught stealings … I don’t specifically recall those plays on that day, but as an avid fan of those Giants, I would bet a very large sum of cash that at least one, and probably more than one, of those plays was a busted hit-and-run.  Roger Craig adored the hit-and-run (the only play he adored more was the suicide squeeze).

  3. David said...

    Your opening reminds me of the story from former umpire Ron Luciano’s wonderful memoir, The Umpire Strikes Back.  He tells a story of a game in which Lou Pinella was thrown out at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and home.  I’ve never checked on the tracer to see if it actually happened the way he tells it, but it was a good story, nonetheless.

  4. Lynn Walker said...

    Roger Craig once said, “I don’t care if they can’t run, I’m sending them anyway.”  Here’s proof that he meant what he said.

    (By the way, the past tense of “fly” is “flied” in baseball.  You must’ve been listening to Chris Berman again.)

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