25 years ago, something happened in baseball that hasn’t happened since.
On Oct. 4, 1986, in the penultimate game of the season, Twins shortstop Greg Gagne belted two inside-the-park home runs in one game. The No. 8 hitter in the order did it in back-to-back plate appearances in the second and fourth innings.
He drove in four runs on the pair of homers—a solo shot, and a three-run race around the bases—to provide the difference in Minnesota’s 7-3 over the White Sox. That victory was just the 11th major league win for the new Twins manager, a 35-year-old Tom Kelly.
Gagne would have 5,337 more plate appearances in his career, but leg out just one more inside-the-park home run. It was just his day for it, apparently.
It was such a rare occasion that few of the 28,136 fans on hand in the Metrodome could recall seeing anything like this before, but some assuredly could remember. In fact, the last time anyone achieved this trick it had occurred up there in Minnesota, in another game against the White Sox. On July 31, 1972 Sox star Dick Allen did it twice in his game, thought not in consecutive plate appearances a la Greg Gagne.
At the very least one man on the field could remember that day. Back in 1972, Allen’s pair of inside shots came off a 21-year-old curveball named Bert Blyleven. Fourteen years later, Blyleven was the Minnesota pitcher when Gagne had his great moment. What are the odds of that happening? Blyleven pitched a complete game for the win.
For a little bit it looked like Gagne might do the truly impossible: run out three consecutive inside-the-park home runs. After legging out his two homers on balls hit to center field, Gagne came up in the sixth inning and again knocked one to center. And off to the races he went. This time, there would be no inside-the-park homer, though. He had to settle for a triple. Normally one of baseball’s most exciting plays, on this occasion it had to be a disappointment.
In center for Chicago was a young outfielder named Darryl Boston. I don’t know if he had a bad day or if Gagne placed the balls just perfectly or what, but Boston did play nearly 500 games in center. It wasn’t like the Sox had someone completely out of his element back there.
In other random news, this also served as the last game in the career of Jack Perconte, a no-power second baseman who’d had a nice year with the Mariners in 1984. It was also the last game Gene Nelson ever spent with the White Sox. He moved on to Oakland where he rejoined ex-Sox manager Tony LaRussa, becoming a mainstay in the great bullpens those teams had during their 1988-90 dynasty.
But the real story on the day was Greg Gagne connecting for two inside-the-park homers in one game, something no other big leaguer has done since.
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:
1,000 days since the Brewers signed free agent Trevor Hoffman, ending his days as a Padre.
3,000 days since Arizona traded Tony Womack to Colorado.
6,000 days since baseball owners and umpires reached an agreement, ending an ongoing lockout.
7,000 days since Charlie Sheen paid $85,000 in an auction for the Bill Buckner ball.
10,000 days since Alan Wiggins tied an NL record with five steals in one game.
15,000 days since California’s Alex Johnson became the third player to ever homer into Comiskey Park’s center field bleachers.
15,000 days since baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn told troubled Tigers star pitcher Denny McLain that he would not be allowed to pitch again that year because he had violated his probation by carrying a gun.
15,000 days since Willie Mays enjoyed the last of his 63 multi-home-run games.
15,000 days since Greg Luzinski made his big league debut.
30,000 days since Joe Judge joined the 2,000 hit club.
1880 The National League outlaws Sunday baseball and the sale of beer during games. When Cincinnati protests, they are tossed from the league.
1884 Sam Kimber of Brooklyn throws a no-hitter in an 11-inning Double-A game. It ends 0-0 when called for darkness.
1886 Lee Richmond, baseball’s first notable southpaw, appears in his last game.
1890 Deacon White plays his final game.
1891 In his first major league start, Ted Breitenstein tosses a no-hitter.
1902 A Pirates-Reds game turns into a complete farce. Going by weather conditions, the game shouldn’t be played but Pittsburgh insists, because one more win will give them a new all-time single-season record for wins with 103. They play and the Reds treat the game as a joke, with players smoking cigars while fielding their position. The Pirates get their 103rd win, but that record lasts only two years, as baseball soon expands to a 154-game schedule.
1904 Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers plays in his final game.
1913 Another season-ending contest plays out as farce. In a season-ending Senators-Red Sox game, guys swap positions and treat it as a lark. Walter Johnson spends time in center field, and when he takes the mound he just throws batting practice, allowing four earned runs in one inning. As a result, his seasonal ERA jumps to 1.14, making it slightly higher than Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968.
1919 Chick Gandil tells Boston gambler Sport Sullivan that the fix is off, and Sullivan gives him another $20,000.
1922 In Game One of the World Series, the Giants score three in the bottom of the eighth to top the Yankees, 3-2.
1924 One of the greatest World Series of all begins, as the Giants top the Senators 4-3 in 12 innings in Game One. Fred Lindstrom becomes the youngest player in Series history, age 18 years and 10 months.
1925 Ty Cobb pitches the last inning of an 11-6 Tigers win over the Browns, and gives up a run in the process. Browns star George Sisler tosses the last two innings for St. Louis, and gives up no runs.
1925 Star Tiger outfielder Harry Heilmann gets six hits in a doubleheader to edge Ty Cobb, his teammate and manager, for the batting title.
1925 Dickie Kerr, Clean Sox pitcher, appears in his last game.
1925 Hall of Fame outfielder Harry Hooper plays in his last big league game.
1927 The Giants draft Lefty O’Doul from San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League in the Rule 5 draft. Also in the Rule 5 draft, Pinky Whitney from New Orleans in the Southern Association, and the Cardinals claim Spud Davis from Buffalo in the International League.
1930 Jack Quinn, at age 46, becomes the oldest person to appear in a World Series game, pitching for the A’s against the Cardinals.
1934 Schoolboy Rowe has one of the best pitching performances in World Series history, retiring 22 in a row and 27 of the last 28 he faces in a 12-inning 3-2 win for his Tigers over the Cardinals in Game Two.
1935 In Game Three of the World Series, the Tigers top the Cubs 6-5 in 11 innings.
1937 The Cincinnati Reds release Kiki Cuyler.
1937 The Cardinals trade Leo Durocher to the Dodgers for four players.
1938 Brooklyn drafts Hugh Casey from Memphis of the Southern Association in the Rule 5 draft.
1939 In Game One of the World Series, the Yankees score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to top the Reds, 2-1. There are only 10 hits in the game, six by New York and four by Cincinnati.
1941 40-year-old Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons becomes the oldest pitcher to start a World Series game. The Yankees top his Dodgers, 2-1, with all the runs scoring in the eighth inning.
1944 Tony LaRussa is born.
1944 In the first all-St. Louis World Series game, the Browns top the Cardinals, 2-1. The Browns get only two hits all game, but one is a homer.
1947 In Game Five of the World Series, the Yankees top the Dodgers 2-1 in a game with only nine hits altogether.
1948 The A’s release the Rudy York.
1949 Brooklyn trades the Sam Jethroe to the Braves.
1950 Vic Raschi tosses a two-hit complete game shutout in a 1-0 Yankee win over the Phillies in Game One of the World Series. Philadelphia uses Jim Konstancy as a surprise starter despite his appearing solely out of the bullpen in the season.
1951 The Cubs trade Smoky Burgess to the Reds.
1952 Allie Reynolds tosses a complete-game four-hit shutout in a 2-0 Yankee win over the Dodgers in Game Four of the World Series. New York gets just four hits in the game.
1953 Mickey Mantle hits a grand slam in Game Five of the World Series as the Yankees win 11-7 over Brooklyn.
1955 Brooklyn finally does it, winning their first world title when Sandy Amoros’ great catch preserves a 2-0 win over the Yankees in Game Seven of the World Series.
1956 Charlie Leibrandt is born.
1957 In an off day of the World Series, the Braves return to Milwaukee where 200,000 greet them at the airport. A civic commission welcomes the Yankees to town, which the Yankees consider to be bush league.
1958 The Yomiuri Giants sign schoolboy baseball star Sadaharu Oh.
1960 Billy Hatcher is born.
1961 Whitey Ford tosses his third consecutive complete-game shutout in a World Series game. He tosses a two-hitter to stop the Reds 2-0 in Game One of the Series, after tossing two shutouts in the 1960 World Series.
1962 Whitey Ford’s scoreless innings streak in the World Series ends at 33.2 IP, but he leads the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Giants in Game One.
1963 The White Sox release Sherm Lollar.
1964 The Giants name Herman Franks as their new manager.
1964 The Phillies defeat the Reds, 10-0, as both teams end the season one game behind the Cardinals.
1965 The Red Sox trade starter Bill Monbouquette to the Tigers.
1966 Baltimore’s mayor begs local saloon keepers to serve blacks beer when the World Series comes to town.
1966 The Cubs release Robin Roberts.
1967 Bob Gibson leads St. Louis to a win in Game One, beating the Red Sox, 2-1. The Winning run scores in the top of the seventh.
1969 The first ALCS game ever goes 12 innings, as the Orioles top the Twins, 4-3. Baltimore ties it in the bottom of the ninth en route to victory.
1970 The umpires returns from a brief strike with a four-year deal with escalating pay for the postseason.
1972 Bob Gibson allows 13 hits—but none for extra bases, as the Cardinals top the Pirates, 4-3.
1972 Jim Lonborg becomes the last AL pitcher to get a hit in a game prior to the adoption of the DH rule.
1975 Joan W. Payson, the principal owner of the Mets, dies at age 72.
1977 With two runs in the top of the ninth, the Phillies beat the Dodgers 7-5 in Game One of the NLCS.
1978 Kyle Lohse is born.
1979 In Game Two of the ALCS, Baltimore nearly blows a 9-0 lead against the Angels, barely winning 9-8. California had the bases loaded when Brian Downing made the final out to end the game.
1980 Dwight Evans gets four extra-base hits in a 17-inning game, going 5-for-7 on the day. However, the Red Sox lose 7-6 to Toronto.
1980 Mike Boddicker makes his big league debut.
1981 Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom dies.
1981 Bobby Bonds appears in his last game.
1982 Jered Weaver, pitcher, is born.
1983 A Mike Schmidt home run accounts for the only run as the Phillies top the Dodgers in Game One of the NLCS.
1985 Tim Raines enjoys the first of seven multi-home run games for himself.
1986 Dusty Baker appears in his last big league game.
1986 Toby Harrah appears in his last major league contest.
1987 On the last day of the season, the Tigers and Blue Jays square off to decide the AL East. The Tigers get only three hits all day, two of which are Lou Whitaker singles both immediately erased by double plays. However, their third hit is a solo homer by Larry Herndon off Jimmy Key, and that’s enough for 1-0 win as Frank Tanana tosses a complete-game shutout. This is the last regular season game for Bill Madlock, and he grounded into both of Detroit’s double plays and struck out another time.
1987 After nearly 30 years in major league dugouts, Gene Mauch manages his final game.
1988 The Mets top the Dodgers 3-2 in Game One of the NLCS. All of New York’s runs come in the ninth, and it’s the first time anyone has scored of LA’s Orel Hershiser in 67 innings of pitching in the regular and postseason combined.
1989 In Game One of the NLCS, the Giants destroy the Cubs 11-3. The game is more important because supposedly at one point the Giants read the lips of Cub pitcher Greg Maddux during a mound discussion, and use that to thrash him for some runs. According to Game of Inches by baseball historian Peter Morris, that begins the process of guys covering their mouths whenever they talk on the mound.
1991 Jim Thome hits his first home run.
1991 Tommy Herr plays in his last game.
1992 In his last plate appearance of the year, Rickey Henderson notches his 2,000th hit. Incredibly, his 3,000th hit will also come in his last plate appearance of the season, albeit several years later.
1992 Roger Craig manages his last game.
1993 Baseball owners approve the sale of the Orioles to Peter Angelos and partners for $173 million.
1995 In Game Two of a legendary ALDS, the Yankees top the Mariners 7-5 in 15 innings to take a two games to none lead. Both squads score once in the 12th inning.
1995 The Reds top the Dodgers 5-4 in Game Two of the NLDS. Both teams scored twice in the ninth, but since it’s in LA the lead never changed hands.
1996 The Yankees score a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to defeat the Rangers 3-2 in Game Three of the ALDS. This gives them a two games to one lead in the series, as they’re on their way to their first championship in 18 years.
1999 In a play-in game to determine the NL wild card, the Mets top the Reds, 5-0.
2001 Rickey Henderson becomes baseball’s all-time runs scored leader with his 2,246 one.
2003 Bizarre and terrible base running cost the A’s a chance to sweep the ALDS against the Red Sox, as Boston goes on to win 3-1 in 11 innings in Game Three. Oakland will lose their next two games, too, allowing Boston to advance instead of them.
2003 The Marlins top the Giants 7-6 in Game Four to win the NLDS. It’s 5-5 in the middle of the fifth when Florida scores twice to take the lead and then holds San Francisco to just one run in the top of the ninth to close out the victory.
2009 On the last day of the season, several men play in their final game, including: Randy Johnson, Aaron Boone, Darin Erstad, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jermaine Dye, Mark Loretta, Nomar Garciaparra, and Rich Aurilia.
2009 Toronto’s season ends on a dismal note. Not only do they lose 5-4 in 11 innings to Baltimore, but the game’s ending is an exercise in frustration. After a leadoff single in the bottom of the 11th, the next two batters hit a sacrifice bunt to pitcher Brandon League, and both times he muffs it. The first one puts the lead runner on second and the next one brings him home. In 67 appearances, those are League’s only errors all season.