Thirty years ago today, the Indians experienced one of the toughest losses in franchise history. It wasn’t an especially important game and ultimately it didn’t matter that much, but games don’t have to be especially important to have an ending that is especially painful.
On Sept. 24, 1982, the Tigers hosted the Cleveland Indians. Well, sort of. For purposes of this story, it’s more accurate to say on Sept. 24, 1982, the Tigers got back to playing the Indians.
Huh? There’s a background story that needs explaining. The game that ended 30 years ago today didn’t begin 30 years ago today. It actually began way back on June 9, 1982. On that day, however, the game ended regulation tied, 3-3, and went into extra innings. After 14 innings, it was still tied 3-3, but the clock struck the league curfew.
The game couldn’t go on, not on that day, anyway. League rules stipulated that the Indians and Tigers would have to pick it up next time they could. Well, June 9 was the last game in a series, and Cleveland wasn‘t scheduled to come back to Detroit for over three months. To be exact, the Indians weren’t supposed to come back to Detroit until Sept. 24, 1982, which is where we pick up the story.
The teams had to conclude their unfinished business before getting on with the day’s regularly scheduled game. Thus, in an oddity, the day began with the teams playing the 15th inning. The teams by-and-large kept the same lineups they had used three months ago. Tiger manager Sparky Anderson even kept the same pitcher in. In a sign of how times have changed, Detroit reliever Dave Tobik had lasted 5.1 frames back in June, so Anderson went with him. The Indians put in a new reliever, but it was no big deal since they’d only used three pitches in 14 innings last time. Like I said, it was a different game.
Relievers kept dominating today. The 15th, 16th, and 17th innings passed with no runs and not even any serious threats to score. Things changed in the 18th. Von Hayes singled against Tobik (finally forcing him out of the game after a marathon 8.2-inning relief stint) and then stole second. A walk to catcher Ron Hassey gave the Indians two runners on in the same inning, something that had happened only one other time since the eighth. It was for naught as the Tigers snuffed out the mini-rally.
You know what else you don’t want to do? Make an error with a runner on and nobody out. But that’s just what Anderson did next. Shortstop Alan Trammell tried to bunt Brookens into scoring position and succeeded beyond his dreams. Anderson bumbled it and everyone was safe—runners on first and second, nobody out.
Next, Larry Herndon singled to load the bases, and there were still no outs. Anderson bore down a bit better and got Enos Cabell to ground into a force play that nailed Brookens at the plate. Cleveland wasn’t out of the woods yet, but they were one out away from ensuring that a deep fly couldn’t win the game. With a force at every base, maybe a double play could end the inning. At the plate, Howard Johnson was slow enough to be doubled up.
But Cleveland never got the chance. Instead, it got away from them entirely. More precisely, it got away from new reliever Ed Glynn, who entered the game right after Cabell’s grounder.
The good news is that Glynn didn’t allow a hit. He didn’t walk anyone, he didn’t hit the batter, and he didn’t commit an error. Instead, he did something even more embarrassing; he threw a wild pitch. When the ball scampered to the backstop, Trammell scampered home with the winning run.
Cleveland had lost an 18-inning marathon on a walk-off wild pitch. Yeah, that’s got to hurt. And it hurt Cleveland 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since the Mets sign free agent Jason Bay
2,000 days since the A’s free Erubiel Durazo. They release him, that is.
4,000 days since Twins manager Tom Kelly announces his retirement. He’s just 51 years old.
6,000 days since Brady Anderson hits a leadoff home run for the fourth straight game.
15,000 days since Luis Tiant picks up his first major league win in one year and 23 days.
1901 Brooklyn star Jimmy Sheckard belts a grand slam for the second consecutive game.
1903 Bill Bradley hits for the cycle.
1903 Jimmy Ryan, star center fielder who arguably belongs in the Hall of Fame, plays in his final game.
1906 Cardinals pitcher Stoney McGlynn throws a shortened-game, seven-inning no-hitter against Brooklyn.
1908 Fred Clarke wins his 1,000th game as manager. Only a handful of men made it there before him.
1908 NL president Harry Pulliam upholds the decision by umpire Hank O’Day calling Fred Merkle out for not touching base in yesterday’s Cubs-Giants game.
1910 Dixie Walker, star outfielder, is born.
1911 Pete Alexander’s scoreless-inning streak ends at 41.1 frames.
1912 Jack Powell, 200-game winner who has a losing record, plays in his final game.
1914 Kid Elberfeld, fiery AL shortstop, plays in his final game.
1916 Cleveland’s Marty Kavanagh hits the first pinch-hit grand slam in NL history. It goes through a hole in the outfield fence.
1919 Babe Ruth hits his 28th home run of the season, setting a new single-season record.
1919 Sleepy Bill Burns, former big league pitcher who is now one of the guys trying to arrange the fix of the 1919 World Series, is told that leading top gambler Arnold Rothstein is in on the fix, but his name must not be used. However, this is based on a fake telegram.
1919 Red Sox pitcher Waite Hoyt throws nine innings of perfect relief from the fourth inning onward. However, he allows some hits in the 13th inning and loses the game, 2-1 to the Yankees.
1920 Babe Ruth hits his 100th career home run.
1920 For the third time this month, George Sisler hits two triples in one game. He does it only six times in his career.
1920 Rube Benton of the Giants tells a grand jury of an offer to throw a Sept. 12, 1919 game.
1921 Ty Cobb and umpire Billy Evans agree to fight. They do fight, and Landis suspends Cobb.
1922 Browns pitcher Dixie Davis starts both games of the doubleheader against the Red Sox. He loses one, 2-1, and wins the other, 1-0.
1922 Smokey Joe Wood, pitcher turned outfielder, appears in his last game.
1923 Bill Terry makes his big league debut as a Giants pinch-hitter.
1924 Dazzy Vance strikes out the side on nine pitches against the Cubs in the second inning.
1925 Babe Ruth hits his only walk-off grand slam. It’s in extra innings with the Yankees down by three. It’s the seventh of 12 career walk-off home runs.
1929 Carl Mays, star pitcher in the 1920s, appears in his last game.
1929 Yankees pitcher Tom Zachary wins to improve his record on the season to 12-0. That’s the most wins in a season for an undefeated pitcher.
1933 Hall of Fame infielder Joe Sewell appears in his last game.
1934 Only 4,000 fans see Babe Ruth’s last game in Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox win, 5-0.
1934 Riggs Stephenson appears in his last game.
1936 Travis Jackson, Hall of Fame shortstop, appears in his final regular season game.
1939 After 15 big league seasons, Johnny Cooney finally hits his first home run. He’ll hit his second one the next day. He never has a third one.
1940 Jimmie Foxx becomes the second member of the 500-home run club.
1940 George Caster allows six home runs in a relief stint, which is still a record. His line: 2.1 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, and 1 K. Boston beats Caster and the A’s, 16-8. Joe Cronin has the last of his six multi-home run games. Boston gets four home runs in the sixth inning, including three in a row—all off Caster, of course.
1941 Buddy Myer appears in his last game.
1941 Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett plays in his last big league contest.
1943 Andy Pafko, one of only two people still alive that ever played for the Cubs in a World Series, makes his major league debut. He does it before the smallest crowd in Wrigley Field history, 314 people. The Cubs top the Phillies, 7-4, in a rainstorm-laden game that ends after five innings.
1947 The Cubs release their great third baseman Stan Hack.
1949 Bob Elliott hits three home runs in one game today for the Braves.
1950 The Tigers, who are in the middle of a big pennant race, lose a heartbreaker. Catcher Aaron Robinson forgets to tag an Indians runner crossing the plate for the game-winning run. Robinson mistakenly thinks it’s a force out at the plate.
1950 Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Gordon makes his last big-league start, and it’s a disaster. He goes 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, his only four-K game. He has one more pinch-hit appearance after this, and that’s it for his career.
1954 In an oddity, the Braves host two teams, the Reds and Cardinals. There’s a regularly scheduled Cardinals game, and the Reds had a successfully upheld protest of a game on Sept. 22, causing a needed (and rare) redo. The Braves win both contests.
1954 Johnny Pesky appears in his last game.
1955 Former batting champ Ferris Fain appears in his last game.
1955 The Giants fail to renew Leo Durocher’s contract. He won’t manage anywhere again for 11 years.
1956 Hubie Brooks is born.
1956 NL president Warren Giles waives the 12:50 AM curfew rule for games that may affect the pennant race.
1957 In the last game ever at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers top the Pirates, 2-0.
1957 Ted Williams, who had reached base in each of his last 16 times up to the plate, grounds out his first time up today.
1958 The Indians use catcher Russ Nixon as leadoff hitter. It’s the last time the Indians have had a backstop bat first.
1959 Phillies pitcher Humberto Robinson says that gambler Harold Friedman offers him $1,500 to throw the game. He wins instead, topping the Reds, 7-2.
1964 Big league pitcher Bill Singer makes his big league debut.
1964 Rafael Palmeiro is born.
1964 Joe Torre hits two triples in one game, the only time he ever does it.
1966 Bob Friend, 200-game loser, pitches for the last time.
1966 Bob Skinner appears in his last game.
1968 Mets manager Gil Hodges has a mild heart attack during a game against the Braves. He’ll be hospitalized with Rube Walker taking over as manager. In the same game, the Aaron brothers—Tommie and Hank—pull off a double steal.
1968 Steve Blass of the Pirates throws his third complete-game shutout in a row.
1969 John Allyn buys the White Sox from his brother, Arthur Allyn Jr.
1969 Bill White appears in his last game.
1969 Miraculously, the Mets clinch the NL East. They not only beat the Cardinals, but the Mets cause St. Louis starting pitcher Steve Carlton to have the shortest start of his career, one-third of an inning. Carlton allows five runs on three hits and two walks, but at least his out is a strikeout. Oddly enough, just nine days earlier, Carlton fanned the Mets 19 times in one game.
1971 Willie Mays becomes the 20th player to get 500 career doubles.
1971 The Astros and Padres have one of the greatest pitchers duels of the decade. Ken Forsch goes 13 innings for Houston, fanning eight with a Game Score of 98, while Padres starting Clay Kirby outdoes that: 15 Ks in 15 innings with a 109 Game Score. Neither starter factors in the decision, as the Astros win in 21 innings, 2-1.
1971 Kevin Millar is born.
1971 In the fourth inning, Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas strikes out the side on nine pitches against the Phillies.
1972 Jim Palmer wins his 100th career decision. His record is 100-47. He’ll be 168-105 for the rest of his career.
1973 Red Sox pitcher Marty Pattin allows 16 baserunners in a nine-inning game but still gets the shutout in a 14-0 win against the Tigers. He allows nine hits, five walks, and a pair reach on errors.
1974 Nearing the end of his career, Al Kaline gets his 3,000th career hit. He’s the 12th player to do it, and the first AL player in over 40 years.
1976 Bill Madlock is mugged in New York City.
1976 37-year-old Jim Kaat hits his first triple in nine years.
1977 Jack Brohamer hits for the cycle.
1977 Sherm Lollar dies.
1977 Diego Segui, veteran pitcher, plays in his last game.
1978 Halfway to 300: Nolan Ryan wins his 150th decision. His record is barely over .500 so far: 150-145. From here on out, he’ll be 174-147.
1978 Houston’s cumulative franchise record bottoms out at 228 games under .500 (1,254-1,482).
1978 Yankees ace Ron Guidry has his third two-hitter in his last four starts.
1980 Ernie Shore, former Red Sox pitcher, dies.
1982 Lee May appears in his last game.
1982 Former 20-game winner Ross Grimsley appears in his last game.
1982 Robin Yount has a career-best six RBIs in one game. He’s 3-for-5 with three runs and two homers.
1984 For the first time in 39 years, the Cubs will go to the postseason. They clinch the NL East with a 3-1 win over the Pirates.
1984 Greg Luzinski appears in his last game.
1985 It’s almost the greatest comeback in Wrigley Field history. The Expos top the Cubs, 17-15, behind the bat of Andre Dawson, who homers three times in all, including twice in one inning. For most of the day it looks like a real laugher with Montreal leading 17-3 at the seventh-inning stretch. The Cubs score three times in the seventh, four in the eighth, and five times in the ninth. The tying run is on base when the game ends.
1987 Gary Carter has his worst game ever according to WPA: -0.417. He’s 0-for-5 with a whiff for the Mets in a 5-4 loss to his old team, the Expos.
1987 Pedro Martinez makes his big league debut.
1988 Dave Stieb misses a no-hitter in bizarre fashion. With two outs in the ninth, a routine grounder is hit to second base for what should be an easy out, but the ball hits the seem between the turf and the dirt and bounces wildly over Stieb’s head. Stieb has five career one-hitters (all before he finally throws his sole no-hitter). This is the first of two consecutive one-hitter Stieb throws—and in the second game the hit will also come in the ninth.
1988 Pascual Perez throws a shortened-game, five-inning no-hitter: Expos 1, Phillies 0.
1989 Jim Sundberg appears in his last game.
1989 Keith Moreland appears in his last game.
1989 Orel Hershiser loses his seventh straight decision. He’s pitched really well with a 2.29 ERA in his last eight starts, but here’s the run support the Dodgers have given him in them: 2, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, and 0 runs scored.
1991 Cal Eldred makes his big league debut.
1992 MLB officially ends Fay Vincent’s ill-fated realignment plan.
1993 Will Clark hits his seventh and final career walk-off home urn.
1995 Expos pitcher Carlos Perez is charged with raping a 20-year-old woman.
1996 Cuban defector Livan Hernandez makes his major league debut.
1996 Mo Vaughn of the Red Sox hits three home runs in one game.
1996 Willie Greene of the Reds hits three home runs in one game.
1997 21-year-old Rockies prospect Doug Million dies of an asthma attack.
1997 Jason Varitek makes his big league debut.
1997 Toronto fires manager Cito Gaston before today’s game with the Orioles.
1998 Anaheim signs amateur free agent Francisco Rodriguez.
1999 Juan Gonzalez hits three home runs in one game. It’s the third time in his career he has done so.
1999 Mark Langston pitches in his last game.
1999 It might be the greatest game Manny Ramirez ever has. He’s 3-for-4 wit two homers and a personal-best eight RBIs.
2000 Andy Pettitte wins his 100th decision for a 100-54 record. He’ll be 144-87 for the rest of his career.
2000 Mike Mussina fans 15, tying a personal best. It’s a complete-game one-hitter with a Game Score of 98.
2001 Ricky Henderson hits his 500th career double. He’s the 36th man to do so.
2001 Craig Wilson of the Pirates hits his seventh career pinch-hit home run of the season.
2001 Jamie Moyer wins his 10th straight decision, a personal-best winning streak. His ERA is 1.65 over his last dozen outings.
2001 In Japan, Tuffy Rhodes belts his 55th home run of the year to tie Sadaharu Oh’s single season record.
2002 Houston has its first rain delay in 26 years. The team decides to cover the field with a tarp for 19 minutes instead of closing the roof, figuring it will save time. (In 1976, Houston flooded so badly that people couldn’t get to the stadium, causing a rare rainout for a team with a closed dome.)
2006 Moises Alou gets his 2,000th hit.
2006 Dustin Hermanson appears in his last game.
2008 Mickey Vernon, longtime AL first baseman, dies at age 90.
2008 The Giants sign out-of-baseball J.T. Snow, so he can retire as a Giant.
2011 MLB has its 200,000th game since 1876. The Rockies top the Astros, 4-2 in 13 inning.
2011 Let Teddy win! Nationals star Jayson Werth and the team’s bullpen interferes in the club’s presidents race. Werth roughs up Thomas Jefferson while the relievers assault George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. They’re trying to get the long-suffering Theodore Roosevelt his first win in the president’s race. Instead, TR tries to beat up Lincoln and falls over and can’t get up, and Werth wins the race.