Last Friday was the 20th anniversary of one of the most memorable managerial tirades of all-time, when Hal McRae lost his mind after a Royals defeat. Today is the anniversary of a managerial meltdown that puts that one to shame. It’s the mother of all terrific tirades.
It was 30 years ago today on April 29, 1983, that Cubs manager Lee Elia completely lost his composure.
Odds are that more than a few of you out there in readerland are familiar with this one. It’s actually the most famous moment of Elia’s long baseball career, a fact that mortifies the one-time Cub skipper. Long story short, Elia did something managers rarely do: he completely tore into his team’s fans. And boy, oh boy, was it ever classic.
The Cubs had just suffered a tough loss, blowing an early lead to the Dodgers only to fall, 4-3. The loss dropped them 5-14 on the year, the worst record in baseball. This was all too familiar territory for the Cubs in recent times. Since Opening Day of 1980, they’d played 180-266 ball, a .403 winning clip.
The fans gave the club some grief that day, and Elia thought it went too far. In fact, some of the fans were so belligerent, Cub shortstop Larry Bowa and outfielder Keith Moreland nearly went into the stands to deal with some especially obnoxious louts.
Angry at the season, upset at the game, and irate at the fans, Elia had the 200 seconds that earned his place in the game’s folklore. Standing before a quartet of Chicago reporters, he unleashed this following profanity-laden bit of poetry. Here is the best part:
I’ll tell you one f***in’ thing: I hope we get f***in’ hotter than s*** just to stuff it up them three thousand f***in’ people that show up every f***in’ day. Because if they’re the real Chicago f***in’ fans, they can kiss my f***in’ a** right downtown—and print it!
They’re really, really behind you around here. My f***in’ a**! What…what the f*** am I supposed to do? Go out there and get destroyed, and be quiet about it? For the f***in’ nickel/dime people that show up? The motherf***ers don’t even work! That’s why they’re out at the f***in’ game! They ought to get a f***in’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a f***in’ living. Eighty-five percent of the f***in’ world is working. The other fifteen come out here.
A f***in’ playground for the c***s***ers. Rip them motherf***ers! Rip those country c***s***ers, like the f***in’ players! We’ve got guys bustin’ their f***in’ a**es and those f***in’ people boo…and that’s the Cubs? My f***in’ ass! They talk about the great f***in’ support that the players get around here, I haven’t seen it this f***in’ year.
One of the reporters, Les Grobstein from WLS, had a microphone turned on. Thus, Elia’s tirade became forever preserved. He immediately apologized once he heard the tape and ever since then has regretted it. But it’s always there.
Oddly enough, a lot of the Cub fans I know don’t mind it that much. First, it was so long ago that it predates the rooting interest for many. Heck, the whole Cubs popularity phenomenon didn’t really get going until 1984, just after Elia. Besides, while some of the tirade is just profane, parts of it are just fantastic. 85 percent of the world works and the other 15 percent come here? Frankly, that’s a hilarious putdown of the fans of what was then the only park without lights.
Oh, and Elia didn’t last the season. That shouldn’t be too surprising. The club was losing, and the manger had a tirade like that. He made it several more months, though, lasting until late August. He even succeeded in finding another big league dugout gig, piloting the 1987-88 Phillies.
But there is only one moment people think of when they hear the name Lee Elia, and it was the tirade he had 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since the Milwaukee Brewers, just one day after topping the Cubs, 18-1, clobber the Cardinals, 18-4.
3,000 days since Curt Schilling donates his bloody sock from the 2004 ALCS to Cooperstown.
3,000 days since Jason Giambi makes his first public appearance since PED allegations against him surfaced. He apologies to his teammates, Yankee fans, and all fans.
4,000 days since Erubiel Durazo belts three home runs in one game.
4,000 days since Jason Giambi hits a massively clutch home run, a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 14th with the Yankees trailing Minnesota by three for a 13-12 win.
5,000 days since Baltimore’s Brady Anderson belts a home run to lead off both ends of a doubleheader against the White Sox.
5,000 days since the Dodgers use pitchers born in four different countries from three separate continents. None of the hurlers is from America.
5,000 days since Adam Kennedy makes his big league debut.
5,000 days since Sammy Sosa homers twice in one game for the second straight contest.
9,000 days since Curt Schilling makes his big league debut.
10,000 days since the Indians sign free agent Tom Candiotti.
25,000 days since Tom Seaver is born.
1876 The National League has its first extra-inning game. The Braves top Hartford in 10 innings.
1879 Noodles Hahn, pitcher with Hall of Fame talent but not much durability, is born.
1888 Charlie Ferguson, highly talented young Phillies pitcher, dies at age 25 years and 12 days old. He’s the first prominent major league player to die.
1898 Frank Chance, part of poetry’s most famous infield, makes his big league debut.
1902 John McGraw is hit by pitches five times, but the umpire refuses to let him take first. McGraw sits in the batter’s box in protest, for which he’ll be suspended five games. I don’t really know what went on here, but I assume the ump was a stickler for the rule saying the batter must make an effort to get out of the way of the pitch. It probably didn’t help McGraw that umpires hated him.
1905 Speaking of stories I’d love to hear the background for, on this day Christy Mathewson punches a kid selling lemonade in the stands. The kid had been heckling Mathewson. Ohhhh-kay. This incident doesn’t really jibe with Mathewson’s gentlemanly reputation.
1913 The Reds travel to Chicago to play the Cub,s but there’s a problem: they left their uniforms in Cincinnati, so they wear White Sox road uniforms.
1918 Tris Speaker pulls off his sixth career unassisted double play. It’s his second in less than two weeks.
1919 Lefty O’Doul makes his big league debut. He’s a pitcher but later will convert to batting, where he’ll do well.
1922 In Braves Field, the New York Giants leg out four inside-the-park homers. Two were by George “Highpockets” Kelly and one each by Ross Youngs and Dave Bancroft. All are now in Cooperstown. Kelly and Bancroft both hit one off another Hall of Famer, Rube Marquard. Kelly may have had the most homers, but Youngs had the best day: 5-for-5 with five runs and two RBI. He hit for the cycle with two doubles. Giants beat the Braves, 15-4.
1922 The longest outing in the career of Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt: 14 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.
1923 Yankees sign Lou Gehrig to a contract for $2,000 plus a $1,500 signing bonus.
1924 Bump Hadley, playing for Mercersburg Academy, not only tosses a perfect game against Hadley-Lynn of Massachusetts but also fans 26 of the 27 batters he faces. Hadley will become a productive major league pitcher for many years.
1925 Brooklyn Dodgers president Ed McKeever dies from an illness that he initially contracted while standing in the cold rain during the funeral of former team honcho Charles Ebbets.
1926 Major league debut: Hall of Fame pitcherJoe Cronin.
1930 Major league debut: Lefty Gomez.
1931 Jimmy McAleer, former major league manager and all-time winningest St. Louis Browns skipper, commits suicide at age 66.
1931 Wes Ferrell has a game for the ages. He throws a no-hitter, hits a home run and a double, and drives in four runs. Rick Wise may not be impressed, but anyone else ought to be. With 26 outs, his brother Rick Ferrell comes to the plate and gets on board with what’s ruled an infield error.
1932 Hall of Fame White Sox pitcher Red Faber loses his 200th game. He’s 249-200 on his career now.
1932 Greenelee Field, Negro League park, opens in Pittsburgh.
1933 One of the most bizarre plays in baseball history: Yankee teammates Lou Gehrig and Dixie Walker both are tagged out at the plate—bang-bang—one right after the other in one play against the Senators. The same thing happened to the Yanks about a half-century later against the White Sox.
1934 Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio is born.
1934 The Phillies play their first legal Sunday home game. So does Pittsburgh. Sunday ball finally has come to all of major league baseball.
1935 Hugh Casey makes his big league debut. He’ll become one of the game’s first notable relievers.
1936 It’s the first pro baseball game in the Japanese Baseball League.
1936 Epic pitchers’ duel as the Cardinals defeat the Giants, 2-1 in 17 innings. St. Louis’ Roy Parmelee and New York’s Carl Hubbell both go the distance. Parmelee: 17 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9 K. Hubbell: 16.1 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K.
1937 For the third time in his career, Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons pitches a complete-game shutout and hits a home run in the same game. NYG 9, BRK 0.
1939 Joe DiMaggio tears a muscle in his leg and will be out five weeks
1940 Ted Williams hits two triples in a game. He’ll do it once more in his career.
1940 200-game winner Paul Derringer is having one heck of a season. He tosses his 14th straight Quality Start, a career high he’ll tie three months later. In this stretch, he’s 12-1 in 126 innings with 131 H, 35 R, 30 ER, 18 BB, and 52 K for a 2.14 ERA.
1944 The St. Louis Browns, of all teams, set an AL record by winning their first nine decisions.
1947 Yankees release Joe Medwick, who in his prime had won a Triple Crown in the NL.
1948 200 homers: Ted Williams.
1948 After 77 straight appearances dating back to 1945 without picking up a loss, Ted Wilks of the Cardinals loses a game.
1951 Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr enjoys the 14th and final multi-home run game of his career. In the same contest, teammate Ted Williams smacks a homer in the top of the 13th, the latest he ever goes deep.
1952 Al Rosen, Cleveland, homers three times in one game.
1953 Joe Adcock becomes first person to homer into Polo Grounds’ center field bleachers, 475 feet from the plate.
1956 Richie Ashburn hits an inside-the-park home run in the first game of a double-header. He also hit two homers in a game the day before. Those are his only homers on the year. Think about it: he gets only three home runs in 719 plates appearances, and they all come within five plate appearances.
1958 Ted Williams becomes the 10th person to get 1,000 career extra-base hits.
1962 New York Mets outfielder Frank Thomas suffers from two hits-by-pitch in one inning.
1962 Star Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer legs out two triples in one game.
1963 Willie Mays hits his 100th career triple.
1966 Hank Aaron homers in his fifth consecutive game, his longest streak.
1967 Whitey Ford notches his 236th and final career win.
1969 Bobby Bonds has his best game according to WPA: 1.126, which is incredibly high. In a 13-inning game against the Reds, he’s 4-for-7 with a homer, two runs, three RBI and a reached on error. The Giants win, 4-3.
1970 Paul Blair hits three home runs in one game.
1971 Sterling Hitchcock, pitcher, is born.
1973 Astros pitcher Tom Walker suffers one of the worst indignities: he’s called for a walk-off balk to end the game against Montreal.
1975 The Yankees turn six double plays in one game against Cleveland.
1977 Young Yankees reliever Ron Guidry is called into service as an emergency starting pitcher for Billy Martin’s depleted rotation. Guidry pitches eight shutout innings for the win. His days in the bullpen are now over.
1978 Pete Rose hits three homers in one game. It’s his first multi-homer game in eight years and the last one of his career.
1979 Gary Carter hits an inside-the-park home run. It’s the first of two in his career. He gets two homers in this game, the second time in three games he’s done that.
1980 The Phillies sign amateur free agent Juan Samuel.
1980 Rangers owner Bradford G. Corbett (nicknamed “Chuckles the Clown” by unhappy Texas fans) sells majority interest in the club to Eddie Chiles.
1980 Sal Bando has his 16th and final multi-home run game.
1980 The Harvey’s Wallbanger Brewers lineup smash seven homers in a 14-1 demolition of the Indians.
1981 Steve Carlton fans his 3,000th batter.
1982 Orioles pitcher Storm Davis makes his big league debut.
1983 Steve Carlton picks off three baserunners in a game vs. Houston.
1984 Dave Stewart becomes the first pitcher to go 0-6 in April. In his partial defense, there weren’t enough April ballgames for a pitcher to go 0-6 until not long before this.
1985 Larry Parrish hits three homers in a game for the fourth time. Larry Parrish did it four times? Larry Parrish? He was a good hitter, but Hank Aaron did it only once.
1986 Roger Clemens has one of the greatest starts in history, setting a record by fanning 20 men in a nine-inning game.
1986 A battle of the two most recent world champions—the Tigers and Royals—is a true pitchers’ duel, with each team mustering just a pair of hits. Despite that, the Tigers win, 2-1.
1987 Andre Dawson has the greatest game of his life. Not only does he go 5-for-5 at the plate; not only does he hit for the cycle, but he throws a runner out at first for an assist in the rare 9-3 groundout.
1987 Jack Clark slugs his 200th career home run.
1988 Joe Niekro pitches in his last game.
1988 Orioles FINALLY win a game, now 1-21 on the season. BAL 9, CWS 0.
1989 According to WPA, this is the worst game Andre Dawson ever had: 1-for-5, one run, GIDP. WPA: -0.400. He makes three inning-ending outs, most notably a GIDP with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.
1990 Royals pitcher Jeff Montgomery fans the side on nine pitches in the eighth inning against Texas.
1992 Yankee farmhand Jeff Hoffman dies in his hotel room of a previously undetected heart problem.
1993 John Olerud enjoys his only five-hit game. He’s 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
1996 Tom Kelly offers a memorable quote about Mariano Rivera: “He needs to pitch in a higher league, if there is one. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.” I half-wonder if I have the right year for this one, but looking it up, Rivera had thrown three innings of hitless middle relief against the Twins the day before. Two days before that he had another three-inning relief stint against the Twins without surrendering a hit. So it was this early in Rivera’s career Kelly said that.
1997 Chili Davis hits his 300th career home run.
1999 An A’s loss puts manager Art Howe 83 games under .500, his worst (618-701) record ever. He’ll tie that mark two games later, but it will rise up from there.
1999 Roy Halladay suffers his worst start: 2.1 IP, 9 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 3 BB, and 1 K. He even surrenders his first grand slam as the Angels maul Toronto, 17-1. Halladay’s Game Score on the day is –7.
1999 The Brewers sign Hideo Nomo.
2000 After losing their first half-dozen contests in their new stadium, the Giants finally win one at Pac Bell Park.
2001 Shawn Chacon, pitcher, makes his big league debut.
2001 Geoff Jenkins homers twice in one game, giving him five in two games.
2005 The first match-up between two 300-game winners in 18 years as Greg Maddux outduels Roger Clemens, 3-2, in Houston.
2006 The 200th career homer for Magglio Ordonez helps the Tigers beat the Twins, 18-1.
2007 Jamie Moyer slugs his first double in 19 years.
2007 Troy Tulowitzki achieves the most boring of baseball’s noteworthy plays: the unassisted triple play. It’s the 13th ever. In that same game, Tulowitzki’s Colorado teammate Todd Helton draws five walks (none intentional). Helton is also 1-for-1 on the day.
2008 Despite being no-hit, the Potomac Nationals top the Winston-Salem Warthogs, 3-2. In the sixth inning, they scored a trio of runs on an error, two walks, a passed ball, two more walks, and a fielder’s choice.
2009 Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo has quite a nice day: He hits a homer while winning 1-0.
2009 Zack Greinke’s scoreless-inning streak ends at 43, but he tops Toronto, 11-3.
2010 It’s a good day to be Magglio Ordonez, as he raps out his 2,000th hit, and he also gets his 300th career home run.
2010 John Buck, Toronto, hits three homers in one game, all off different pitchers.
2012 It’s a memorable way to end the day. The Cardinals fall, 3-2, to the Brewers, with the last out coming on a failed steal of home. It comes with runners on first and third, and when the trailing runner broke for second, the catcher threw the ball, and the lead runner bolted for the plate. It didn’t work out.