Twenty-five years ago today, baseball saw one of its most amazing rallies, capped by quite possibly its all-time least-likely walk-off grand slam.
On Aug. 29, 1986, the Tigers have a road victory seemingly in hand, as they led the hometown Angels by seven runs, 12-5, entering the bottom of the ninth. The game is all but wrapped up. All but.
Leading off is the least impressive bat in Anaheim, shortstop Dick Schofield. Playing in his 417th career game, he sports a lifetime batting average of .217 as he leads off the bottom of the ninth. Refuting the odds, Schofield beats out an infield single to shortstop.
That brings up the top of the order. First, veteran infielder Rick Burleson lines out to center. One away. Ah well, it ain’t like the Angels really have a chance anyway, right?
Next up, is the ageless wonder of the world, Brian Downing, who promptly cracks a single to load the bases. The heart of the order will be up next.
Batting clean up is Jack Howell, a mid-game replacement for normal third baseman Doug DeCinces. The team made the switch when it was clear Detroit would win. Someone forgot to tell Howell the game is over, because he belts a double to right, and two runs score. Now it’s 12-7. Better, but still badly out of reach.
With the best part of California’s order coming up, Tiger manager Sparky Anderson removes O’Neal. Time for Willie Hernandez, the Detroit closer who made his third straight All-Star team this year and won the Cy Young Award and MVP two years ago.
Despite Hernandez’s accomplishments, he has some problems here. George Hendrick greets Hernandez with an RBI single, scoring Downing, making the score 12-8. Bobby Grich follows that with another single, and it’s 12-9.
Suddenly, things don’t look so bad. Sure, the Angels are down by three, but, incredibly, the tying run is at the plate, and there is still only one out. You don’t think they could somehow win this sucker, do you?
Probably not, because just as soon as the fans can start thinking comeback win, Gary Pettis grounds to second, forcing Grich while Hendrick advances to third.
Sure, the tying run will still be at the plate, but now there’s only one out left, and we’re stuck in the depths of the batting order. Ah well, at least the Angels made the score look respectable. Can’t win them all.
And that man at the plate? Schofield, who led off the inning. While a lifetime .217 hitter, he has made some strides. After batting a sub-Mendoza .193 in his first full-year in 1984, and following that up with a barely improved .219 the next season, he’s nearly hitting .250 on the year so far in 1986. He also has a bit of power—not much, but he’s already belted 11 long balls on the season.
That said, Reggie Jackson sits on the California bench, available for duty. Do you really pass up using Reggie here to let Schofield take a lick? Manager Gene Mauch thinks so. Schofield has two hits today and has shown improvement over the year. Time to show some confidence in his progress.
And Schofield rewards the veteran manager. Boy, oh boy, does he ever reward him. Schofield belts it out of the park, scoring runs 10, 11, 12, and 13, for an amazing 13-12 Angels comeback win over the Tigers.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
3,000 days since the Houston Astros throw the first no-hitter against the Yankees in over 50 years. It’s a real team effort, too. After starter Roy Oswalt has to leave after one inning, relievers Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner shut down New York the rest of the way.
4,000 days since Todd Helton bops his 100th home run.
7,000 days since Pittsfield Mets pitcher James Popoff fans 19 for his first professional win in a New York-Pennsylvania League game against the Batavia Clippers.
15,000 days since the big league debut of Mickey Rivers.
30,000 days since Milt Gaston tosses a complete game shutout, despite allowing 14 hits (including two doubles and a triple).
1885 Philadelphia pitcher Charlie Ferguson no-hits Providence, winning 1-0.
1896 Curt Welch, the best defensive outfielder of his generation, dies at age 34.
1896 Connie Mack plays his final big league game.
1907 Ned Hanlon wins his 1,297th game as manager, surpassing Cap Anson as the title all-time winningest manager. He’ll keep the title for a few years before Fred Clarke passes him up. Then later John McGraw passes him before finally Connie Mack ends up on top of them all.
1908 Hall of Fame third baseman Jimmy Collins plays in his final game.
1912 Pitcher Wilbur Cooper, still Pittsburgh’s all-time franchise leader in wins, makes his big league debut.
1925 The Tigers give Ty Cobb a dinner in his honor for his 20 years service with the franchise. The city gives him a trophy and the club gives him $10,000.
1925 Pie Traynor, who belts 58 home runs in his career (only 40 of which clear the fence) knocks two out of the park in the second game of a doubleheader.
1927 Hall of Famer Bill Terry draws four walks in one game.
1930 Veteran catcher Hank Gowdy plays in his last game.
1930 When Braves shortstop Rabbit Maranville is called out while trying to steal third to end the inning, he argues heatedly with the umpire over the call. The argument goes so long that Philadelphia player Fresco Thompson gets sick of it and decides to pick up Maranville and carry him to short.
1931 Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman makes his big league debut, and it could’ve gone better. He fouls a ball off home plate that ricochets back up, hitting Herman in the head. He is out cold.
1931 Lou Gehrig knocks out the ninth of his record 23 grand slams.
1936 Joe McCarthy, the greatest manager of all-time, wins his 1,000th game. He’s 1,000-648 lifetime so far.
1937 The A’s score 12 runs in the first inning against the White Sox.
1939 Ted Williams belts the second of his 17 career grand slams.
1940 Joe Cronin joins the 2,000-hit club.
1943 Arky Vaughan gets his 2,000th career hit.
1944 Kid McGill, debuted in the majors at age 16 back in the day, dies at age 70.
1947 Pitcher Fred Hutchinson leads the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Browns. Hutchinson provides the winning run by tripling and then stealing home in the third inning.
1948 Jackie Robinson hits for the cycle.
1950 Hall of Fame skipper Billy Southworth records his 1,000th win. He’s 1,000-655 for his career.
1950 Early Wynn loses his 100th game. His record is 98-100 so far, but he’ll go 202-144 from here on out.
1950 Doug DeCinces is born.
1951 The Braves trade Johnny Sain to the Yankees for Lew Burdette, $50,000, and the 1957 World Series title. (Burdette pitched two complete-game shutouts over the Yanks in that Series to give the Braves the title).
1951 Monte Irvin triples twice in a game for the only time in his career with the Giants.
1953 Robin Roberts records his 30th complete game of the year. And it’s still just August.
1954 Stan Musial becomes the 17th member of the 500-double club. That’s nice, but he’s overshadowed on the day by Dusty Rhodes of the Giants. In the day’s Cardinal-Giant doubleheader, Rhodes gets six extra base hitA: Two doubles, two triples, and two homers.
1954 Bob Lemon wins his 11th straight decision, his longest career winning streak. His line in that time: 11 G, 10 GS, 7 CG, 70 IP, 74 H, 20 R, 18 ER, 26 BB, 36 K and a 1.80 ERA.
1961 Paul Richards resigns as manager of the Baltimore Orioles.
1963 The Twins and Senators stage a doubleheader to make up for a game lost during the March on Washington earlier this summer, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.
1964 The Yankees sweep a doubleheader from the Red Sox on Elston Howard Night.
1965 Hall of Famer Paul Waner dies.
1965 In a Chicago-Boston doubleheader, White Sox infielder Ron Hansen gets 28 chances.
1965 Willie Mays sets a new record by belting his 17th home run of the month.
1966 Maybe the most famous event in the history of Candlestick Park occurs: The last Beatles concert. (Well, not including that unexpected and unannounced rooftop concert in 1969).
1966 Denny McLain throws 229 pitches to record his 16th win. He walks nine and fans 11 while winning, 6-3.
1967 Bert Campaneris legs out three triples in one game, which his A’s lose 9-8 (10) to the Indians.
1967 The Yankees and Red Sox play a 29-inning doubleheader. After Boston wins the first one, 2-1, the Yankees win the nightcap, 4-3 (20). Boston rookie sensation Reggie Smith steals three bases in the second game, something he’ll never do again.
1967 Jim Bunning ties a personal best by recording his 14th consecutive Quality Start. His line in that time: 7-3 record, 115.1 IP, 85 H, 28 R, 17 ER, 20 BB, 96 K, and a 1.33 ERA.
1968 Lou Brock sets a personal best (that he’ll later tie two more times) by stealing four bases in a game.
1968 Pirate hurler Bob Moose throws a pine tar ball—until he’s caught doing so.
1968 The Padres select Preston Gomez as their first manager.
1968 Mickey Lolich has his best Game Score ever: 92. His line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K as the Tigers top the Angels, 2-0.
1969 Mickey Lolich records his 100th career win. He’s 100-70 for his career.
1969 The Reds sign amateur free agent Dan Driessen.
1970 Mickey Mantle returns to the Yankees as a first base coach.
1971 Long-time back up catcher Henry Blanco is born.
1972 Bobby Murcer hits for the cycle.
1972 Jim Barr of the Giants retires the first 20 batters he faces in today’s game against the Cardinals. Combined with his previous outing, Barr has a new record of 41 consecutive batters retired.
1973 Nolan Ryan damn near tosses his third no-hitter of the year. He allows one hit in his start against the Yanks, and that was an infield pop-up that fell between two fielders and ruled a hit.
1977 Outfielder Aaron Rowand is born.
1977 The most famous moment in the pitching career of Steve Stone occurs when he offers up a gopher ball to Cleveland infielder Duane Kuiper. It’s the only homer Kuiper will ever hit in 3,754 plate appearances, making him the weakest homer hitter ever. Incredibly, moments before the pitch, the announcer noted that Kuiper still had yet to hit a major league homer. Even better, that announcer was Harry Caray, who will spend his final 15 years announcing games alongside Stone for the Cubs.
1977 Jim Rice belts three homers in one game, but the A’s beat the Red Sox, 8-7.
1977 Lou Brock steals his 892nd and 893rd career bases, tying and passing Ty Cobb’s record mark.
1977 Pitcher Roy Oswalt is born.
1978 The Angels issue five intentional walks to the Yankees in an 11-inning game.
1979 Eddie Murray cranks out three homers in one game.
1979 Sal Bando pitches for the only time in his career, going three innings as the Royals bludgeon the Brewers, 18-8. It was 17-4 after four frames. Infielder Jim Gantner and catcher Buck Martinez also pitch for Milwaukee.
1981 Andre Dawson steals three bases in a game for the only time in his career.
1981 Phillies farmhand Jeff Stone steals his 121st base, setting a new minor league record.
1983 For the second time in his career, Jim Rice has three homers in one game. It’s also his third multi-home run game of the month. This is WPA’s favorite Jim Rice day, as he records 0.743 WPA as his trio of blasts bring in six runs in Boston’s 8-7 win over Toronto.
1984 Bill Virdon manages his final game.
1985 The Reds trade Cesar Cedeno to the Cardinals for a minor leaguer.
1985 Don Baylor sets a new AL record with his 190th HBP.
1985 Phil Niekro tosses his 5,000th inning.
1986 Cleveland’s Joe Carter hits three home runs in one game.
1986 Veteran catcher Steve Yeager plays in his final game.
1986 The Padres suspend Rich Gossage without pay for calling owner Joan Kroc a hypocrite who is “poisoning the world with her hamburgers.”
1986 Tom Seaver records his final career victory.
1987 The Dodgers trade Rick Honeycutt to the A’s for a player to be named later, helping Oakland assemble its incredible bullpen in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
1989 The Cubs stage the greatest comeback in team history, rallying from a 9-0 deficit to beat the Astros, 10-9, in 10 innings.
1989 Von Hayes belts three homers in one game.
1990 The Rangers trade Harold Baines to the A’s.
1990 Seattle signs free agent Ken Griffey, Sr. , allowing him to play alongside his son.
1991 Chicago’s Carlton Fisk becomes the oldest player in the 20th century to belt two homers in one game.
1992 After recording the 1,000th strikeout of his career, Atlanta’s Charlie Leibrandt rolls the ball to the dugout as a souvenir. Damn shame he forgets to call time first. Runner Ricky Jordan advances on the error.
1993 Pittsburgh unfurls banners for the city’s former Negro League teams, the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
1993 Roberto Alomar hits the first of seven career grand slams.
1996 Alex Rodriguez goes 5-for-5 for the first time in his career.
1996 For the first time since 1988, two brothers start against each other on the mound: Ramon and Pedro Martinez.
1997 Magglio Ordonez makes his big league debut.
1998 The Marlins lose their 89th game, a new record for the defending World Series champs. (The 1991 Reds lost 88.) Florida will lose nearly 20 more times before the year mercifully ends.
2000 Carl Everett belts a double, triple, and two homers—but misses the cycle by a single.
2000 The Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-0 in a game marred by five fights and eight Tampa ejections (including the manager and two coaches). The fun begins with Pedro Martinez hitting a batter in the first, and he wins on a one-hitter. He actually has a no-hitter going until the ninth, when a John Flaherty single breaks it up. He fans 13 and walks none.
2001 The Cardinals top the Padres in a slugfest, 16-14.
2002 The International Olympic Committee votes to drop baseball and replace it with golf.
2002 Jeff Kent homers in his fourth straight game.
2002 Over 100 fans are ejected for throwing trash during a Devil Rays-Angels game. They chant “Don’t strike! Don’t strike!” during the seventh-inning stretch.
2003 Atlanta claims Jaret Wright off waivers from the Padres, and he’ll be one of the many reclamation projects to have unexpected success with the Braves.
2004 Toronto adds broadcaster Tom Cheek to their Level of Excellence club.
2007 Roger Clemens records his 354th and final career win.
2008 Frank Thomas plays in his last game.
2010 A Brian McCann shot becomes the first homer subject to video review. It’s first ruled a double, but upon review the call is changed to home run.
2010 The Rockies belt back-to-back-to-back triples against the Dodgers.
2010 The White Sox retire Frank Thomas‘ number.
2010 The White Sox claim Manny Ramirez off waivers from the Dodgers.