Thirty years ago today, Bob Welch had about as good a day as a pitcher could possibly have. He damn near won a game all by himself on the mound and at the plate.
On June 17, 1983, Welch took the hill for the Dodgers in Los Angeles against the visiting Cincinnati Reds. Normally, you’d expect it to be an easy win for the Dodgers, as they clearly were the superior team. The day began with LA sporting a 41-20 record, a full 15 games better than Cincinnati. However, the Reds had a nice leveling factor. Their ace pitcher, Mario Soto, was on the mound. An All-Star the previous year—and would be again this year—Soto’s ERA was barely over 2.00. While Welch was a nice pitcher, he was no Soto.
And it looked like Soto brought his “A” game today. Through five innings, the Dodgers could manage just two scratch singles and a walk, and the walk was erased in a foiled stolen-base attempt. The home team hadn’t even come close to scoring.
However, Welch matched Soto goose egg for goose egg. Welch wasn’t as sharp as Soto, but in the early going it was all bend and no break. Cincinnati loaded the bases in the fourth but couldn’t score anyone. Through six innings, Welch had allowed nine base runners, but none had scored.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth, the game was still looking for its first run. Unfortunately for Soto, the Dodgers were about to find it. Leading off the sixth, Soto allowed a solo home run. Worse that, the home run came off the bat of none other than Welch.
In his previous 313 career plate appearances, Welch had never homered. He was a .182 hitter with a half-dozen doubles and one triple. But he sure picked a good time to smash his first longball.
Soto recovered nicely, striking out the next three batters to end the inning, but it was still 1-0 Dodgers. Well, eventually the Reds would have to get to Welch, right? He couldn’t keep pitching his way out of jams.
No, Welch couldn’t keep pitching his way out of jams. Instead, he stopped pitching his way into them. In the remaining three innings, Welch let just two Reds reach base. One was a meaningless single and the other a two-out base on balls in the ninth.
The Reds sent Johnny Bench up as a pinch-hitter after that walk in the ninth. If anyone could turn a 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 Reds edge with one swing of the bat, it was the old catcher. But this was Welch’s day, and Bench flew out to end the game.
Welch had pitched a complete-game shutout and smacked a home run in a 1-0 win. He’d done it all. Of his 211 career wins, none was better deserved than this one, which happened 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Jim Edmonds ends his career in memorable and unusual fashion, as he homers and pops his Achilles tendon while rounding third base. Like Ted Williams, Albert Belle, and Todd Zeile, his career ends on a home run.
1,000 days since Omar Vizquel plays in his 100th game of the 2010 season, becoming just the second person to play in 100 games in a season in four different decades. Ted Williams is the other one.
1,000 days since Roy Halladay surrenders his first pinch-hit home run in 12 years.
2,000 days since the Padres sign former super-prospect pitcher Mark Prior. It doesn’t work out.
4,000 days since Jorge Posada smashes his 100th career home run.
4,000 days since legendary baseball hitter Ted Williams dies at age 83.
5,000 days since the Mets top the Diamondbacks, 4-3 in 10 innings, in Game Four of the 2002 NLDS.
7,000 days since Sports Illustrated publishes its interview with Mickey Mantle in which he talks about his problems with booze.
7,000 days since White Sox hitter Tim Raines belts three home runs in a game. He’s 4-for-5 with an intentional walk, and He even reaches base in that fifth at-bat, a reached-on-error play.
8,000 days since Ken Griffey Jr. hits his first grand slam.
15,000 days since Roberto Clemente’s worst game, where he hits into three double plays.
20,000 days since Negro Leaguer turned AL pitcher Connie Johnson appears in his final game.
20,000 days since things get a bit wild on a Yankee train ride after clinching the 1958 pennant. Reliever Ryen Duren mashes his cigar in the face of coach Ralph Houk, who hits him with a back-handed blow.
30,000 days since Jimmy McAleer, the winningest manager in St. Louis Browns history, commits suicide. He’s been out of the game for years.
30,000 days since Indians pitcher Wes Ferrell throws a no-hitter. He also homers, doubles and drives in four runs. His brother Rick Ferrell, comes to the plate with two out in the ninth and tries to bunt for a single in the 7-0 game. Years later, Wes will recount that’s that how it ought to be; you’re supposed to fight the entire game. Rick reaches base, but on an error, not as a hit.
40,000 days since the Cardinals make a terrible trade, sending young pitcher (and future Hall of Famer) Mordecai Brown to the Cubs.
50,000 days since Cubs batter Cal McVey gets six hits in a game. He did it three days ago, too.
1851 The first known extra-inning game occurs, as it takes 10 innings for the Knickerbockers to beat Washington Club, 22-20.
1861 Pete Browning, the original Louisville Slugger, is born.
1876 Philadelphia’s George Hall becomes the first player in major league baseball history to homer twice in a game.
1880 Hall of Famer John Ward throws the second perfect game in big league history. It’s also the second of the week.
1885 The Dodgers lose, 18-5, because they refuse to field for pitcher Phenomenal Smith, whom they hate. He’s so arrogant that he gave himself the nickname “Phenomenal.”
1894 Turn-of-the-century pitcher Jesse Tannehill makes his big league debut.
1902 In all his many, many starts, Cy Young surrenders a home run to the leadoff batter just once, and it’s right here. Ollie Pickering is the batter.
1903 On a train trip, declining star Ed Delahanty tries to sell some of his teammates diamonds and jewelry in order to pay off some of his own debts.
1915 Cubs pitcher Zip Zabel has one of the most impressive relief appearances in history, going 18.1 innings for the win. It’s the longest relief stint ever. The Cubs beat the Dodgers, 4-3, in 19 innings. Zabel himself allows just two runs, neither earned.
1917 The Giants and Yankees stage a charity game to raise funds for World War I. It’s the first legal Sunday baseball game in New York City.
1919 Hall of Fame second baseman Frankie Frisch makes his big league debut.
1925 Hooks Dauss posts his 200th career win, giving him a record of 200-170.
1925 Ty Cobb smacks his fourth and final career grand slam. It’s his first one since June of 1917. The Tigers destroy the Yankees, 19-1, the worst Yankees loss of the 20th century.
1925 The Washington Senators claim shortstop Everett Scott off waivers from the Yankees.
1927 The Senators release former ace hurler Stan Coveleski.
1928 Lou Gehrig hits his 100th home run.
1928 Waite Hoyt wins his eighth straight decision, his longest-ever winning streak.
1928 Dazzy Vance has one of the greatest games of his career, fanning 15 in a complete-game, three-hit shutout for a Game Score of 94.
1930 Star Phillies slugger Chuck Klein has a hit streak max at 26 games, a personal best for him. Incredibly, he’ll tie that personal best later this season. During this first 26-game hitting streak he hits .486 with a .521 on base percentage and .908 slugging percentage. Yes, a .908 slugging percentage.
1931 Hall of Fame umpire Tom Connolly announces his retirement.
1933 Mickey Cochrane hits his 100th career home run.
1934 Star Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez completes his 12th straight start. He’s 11-1 with a 1.50 ERA in that span. Not bad, especially for the high-offense 1930s AL.
1936 The A’s blow an 11-run lead in a 14-13 loss to the Browns.
1936 Star pitcher Wes Ferrell hits an inside-the-park home run off Ted Lyons.
1938 Al Simmons enjoys the last of his 19 career multi-home run games.
1941 Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak nearly comes to an end, but a grounder goes off the shoulder of Chicago shortstop Luke Appling for a single, and now DiMaggio has hit safely in 30 straight games. He’s a little over halfway through his famous streak.
1943 For the third time in his career, Mel Ott draws five base on balls in a game. He’ll do it once more before retiring.
1943 Red Sox shortstop Joe Cronin becomes the first person in major league history to hit pinch-hit home runs in both ends of a doubleheader.
1948 Big Red Machine shortstop Dave Concepcion is born.
1954 Jackie Robinson has a personal-best 12 total bases in a game by going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a pair of homers. He even steals a base (but also is caught stealing once).
1954 Robin Roberts posts a Game Score of 96, his best ever. His line: 15 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, and 7 K for a complete-game win.
1956 Braves slugger Joe Adcock homers three times in a double-header. One shot lands on the roof at Ebbets Field.
1957 The Washington Senators sign amateur free agent Jim Kaat. He’ll last as a pitcher until 1983.
1958 11 days after he became the first black player in Tigers history, Ozzie Virgil goes 5-for-5 in Briggs Stadium.
1960 Ted Williams joins the 500-home run club.
1960 It’s one of the greatest parodies of all-time. When Clete Boyer homers in Comiskey Park, Casey Stengel and the Yankees come out of the visitor’s dugout with sparklers in their tribute to the South Side’s exploding scoreboard.
1963 Willie Stargell enjoys the first of his 36 career multi-home run games.
1964 Baltimore signs amateur free agent Sparky Lyle.
1964 Indians pitcher Pedro Ramos has the game of his life, hitting a home run while throwing a complete-game shutout.
1964 Willie McCovey hits what WPA considers to be his most clutch home run ever. It’s a pinch-hit shot in the bottom of the ninth with one out, a runner on, and the Giants trailing, 2-1. This walk-off blasts WPA scores as 0.803.
1965 The Milwaukee Braves sign amateur free agent Ron Reed.
1966 Gaylord Perry notches a win, giving him a career record of 32-31. It’ll always be over .500 from here on out.
1967 The A’s and Tigers slug it out in a nine-hour and five-minute double-header. The first game is a rain-delayed, 7-6 Detroit win. The second game is a 6-5 win for the A’s.
1967 Eddie Mathews, now an Astros player at the end of his career, hits his eighth and last walk-off homer. The others came with the Braves, but this one is against them for a 4-3 Houston victory.
1969 Gene Garber, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1969 The longest hitting streak of Willie Stargell’s career peaks at 19 games.
1970 Great Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson has one of his best games. It’s a complete-game, one-hit shutout, with the only hit coming off the bat of Ivan Murrell with two outs in the eighth. Gibson also fans 13 while walking two for a Game Score of 96, his best ever in a nine-inning game.
1971 Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger gets six hits in a 10-inning game.
1971 Veteran Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew reaches base six times on a single, home run, reached on error, and three walks.
1971 Promising young pitcher Burt Hooton makes his big league debut with the Cubs.
1973 Longtime reliever Ron Perranoski plays in his last game.
1975 Sid Gordon, former All-Star Giants third baseman, dies at age 57.
1977 Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hits his 100th home run.
1977 It’s one of the more famous regular-season moments of the 1970s. In a Yankees-Red Sox game before a national TV audience on NBC’s Game of the Week, star slugger Reggie Jackson and manager Billy Martin go at it in the dugout. Martin pulls Jackson from the game in mid-inning for lack of hustle, and their argument in the dugout becomes the stuff of baseball lore, cementing Jackson’s reputation as a spoiled star and Martin’s image as a rough manager. In that same game, Yankee pitcher Catfish Hunter has an appearance from hell, surrendering four home runs in just 0.2 innings.
1977 Joe Torre, who recently became the Mets manager, makes his last appearance as a player, a pinch-hit effort.
1978 Yankee pitcher Ron Guidry fans 18 in a four-hit, complete-game shutout. That’s a new AL record for strikeouts by a lefty. For a while it looked like he was going to whiff even more, as he had 15 through six innings.
1979 It doesn’t matter that just last year he led the team to a miracle world championship, Yankee manager Bob Lemon is fired by team owner George Steinbrenner. Billy Martin, the man Lemon replaced, now replaces Lemon.
1979 Knuckler Joe Niekro loses his 100th decision. His career record is 105-100.
1979 Former star Red Sox deadball outfielder Duffy Lewis passes away at age 91.
1979 Jeff Reardon, reliever, makes his big league debut.
1982 Young Tim Raines plays a full game at second base for the last time.
1983 Andy Van Slyke, center fielder, makes his big league debut.
1984 Jim Hegan, catcher who caught the most Hall of Fame pitchers, and a five-time All-Star in his own right, dies at age 63.
1986 Toronto and Milwaukee have a nice pitchers’ duel. Neither team scores in the first nine innings, and both plate a run in the 10th. Toronto wins, 2-1 in 12. Both Jimmy Key and Danny Darwin last 10 innings. Key has a Game Score of 84, and Darwin has one of 83.
1987 Royals manager Dick Howser tragically dies of brain cancer.
1989 Longtime infielder Buddy Bell appears in his last game.
1992 Jesse Barfield, maybe the best outfield arm of the 1980s, appears in his final contest.
1993 Cleveland’s Carlos Baerga hits three home runs in one game.
1993 Former star Angels pitcher Mike Witt pitches in his last game.
1993 Baseball owners vote 26-2 to expand the playoffs by a round.
1993 Known more for his glove than his bat, today Ozzie Smith enjoys his only 5-for-5 game. Three of those hits are doubles. He also hits a sacrifice fly. His six RBIs (easily a career high) are just enough to guide St. Louis to an 11-10 win over the Cubs.
1994 Bobby Cox wins his 1,000th game as manager. His record: 1,000-884.
1994 Former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser loses his 100th decision. His record is 131-100 and counting.
1995 Paul Molitor, age 38 years and nearly 10 months, legs out an inside-the-park home run. It’s his second and final career one—and the first one was just 14 months before.
1997 Six-fingered reliever Antonio Alfonseca makes his major league debut.
2001 Blake Stein, of all people, fans eight straight batters.
2001 Mike Piazza has what WPA considers to be his best day. He’s 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs, two RBIs, a walk, and a strikeout in an 8-7 Mets win over the crosstown Yankees. Piazza’s WPA is 0.749.
2003 The Phillies sign a 25-year naming-rights agreement with Chase Bank for Philadelphia’s ballpark.
2003 Ichiro Suzuki has a personal-best 10 total bases in a game. He’s 4-for-4 with two home runs.
2004 Alex Rodriguez reaches base for the 53rd straight game, his longest streak ever. He’s 68-for-208 with a .327 batting average and a .415 on base percentage.
2005 For the second consecutive game, Arizona allows 10 runs in an inning. Last time it was the Cubs, and today it’s the Indians.
2005 Starting pitcher Kenny Rogers wins his ninth straight decision. In his last 10 starts, his ERA is 1.52 despite just 34 whiffs in 71 innings.
2006 The Dodgers suffer a loss from hell, losing to Oakland, 5-4 in 17 innings, on a walk-off walk. It’s the second-latest a walk-off walk has occurred in a game since at least the 1950s.
2007 Braves star Chipper Jones gets his 2,000th hit.
2007 Brandon Watson of Columbus sets an International League record by extending his hitting streak to 43 games.
2008 Shortstop Edgar Renteria gets his 2,000th hit.
2008 In a weirdly timed decision, the Mets fire manger Willie Randolph in the wee hours of the morning right after New York beat the Angels, 9-6, early in a West Coast road trip. Clearly, the team decided to fire him before this game, so why wait until after a win and a cross-country road trip to do it?
2009 Dusty Rhodes, who hit a walk-off home run in the 1954 World Series, dies at age 82.
2009 Ivan Rodriguez catches his 2,227th game, breaking Carlton Fisk’s record for games caught.
2009 Cliff Floyd appears in his last game.
2010 Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez wins, improving to 13-1 on the year. His ERA is a miniscule 1.15.