Thirty years ago today was the most amazing stolen base ever by a team managed by Whitey Herzog.
The above is a remarkable statement because Herzog loved the stolen base more than any other manager of the last 100 years. In his 2,409 games in the dugout, his teams swiped 3,036 bases. That’s 1.26 steals per game. Among skippers with over 1,600 games managed since 1920, the next best SB/G rate is 0.92 by Chuck Tanner. Drop the games floor to 1,000 and the runner up is Buck Rodgers at 1.03 SB/G. Any way you slice it, Herzog loved the stolen base like no one else.
With the Cardinals in the 1980s, Herzog had his guys run wild as often as possible with great base stealers like Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith, Lonnie Smith, and Willie McGee. From 1982-88, the Cardinals stole at least 200 bases a year, every year. The 1985 Cardinals stole 314 bases.
But nothing quite matches the one from 30 years ago today, in part because it didn’t involve any of those big-name guys.
On Aug. 22, 1982, the Cardinals battled the Giants in a back-and-forth game. The Cardinals tied it in the bottom of the ninth, sending it into extra innings tied at 4-4. Both teams kept threatening in extras, but neither could score. In the 10th and 11th, a runner reached scoring position in every half-inning, but the game entered the 12th still knotted, 4-4.
The fun came in the bottom of the 12th. After a George Hendrick fly out began the inning, backup catcher Glenn Brummer singled to begin a rally. Immediately after that, McGee singled him to second, and a few minutes later a Smith single loaded the bases.
With two outs, Herzog had an idea. Gary Lavelle, the Giants pitcher, was a lefty. That meant he had his back to third base and so wasn’t watching the runner. And the runner was a backup catcher, so who could even imagine one of those guys trying to steal home?
Well, as it happens, that’s exactly what happened. It was as unlikely and unexpected a move as you could imagine, and that’s why it worked. With the element of surprise as strong as you’ll ever see it, Brummer stole home for the walk-off win in the bottom of the 12th for a 5-4 Cardinals victory over the Giants.
Glenn Brummer would play in 178 games over five years, stealing four bases in a dozen attempts. But they’ll never take this one away from him, the one that won a game exactly 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate an 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 prefer to just skim.
1,000 days since Yankee PA announcer Bob Sheppard officially retires at age 99.
2,000 days since Clem Labine dies.
4,000 days since Baltimore retires No. 8 for Cal Ripken Jr.
4,000 days since Nick Punto makes his debut.
4,000 days since Barry Bonds hits three home runs in one game for the third time in his career.
4,000 days since Rafael Palmeiro hits his seventh career walk-off home run.
5,000 days since the Pirates trade Jon Leiber to the Cubs for Brant Brown. Lieber will win 20 games in a season for the Cubs while Brown won’t be very good.
5,000 days since Tony Phillips signs as a free agent with Oakland.
7,000 days since Jay Buhner hits for the cycle.
7,000 days since Aaron Sele makes his big league debut.
7,000 days since John Olerud suffers through his worst game, according to WPA. He’s 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a grounded-into-double play for a –0.407 WPA.
7,000 days since Carlton Fisk believes he’s broken Bob Boone’s record for most games caught. (He actually broke it three games earlier, but there had been an error in Boone’s 1981 stats that had not yet been corrected).
7,000 days since Giants infielder Robby Thompson hits two home runs in a game for the second day in a row. He’d never had a game of multiple home runs before, not even in Little League.
8,000 days since Bob Boone’s last game.
10,000 days since the Padres trade relief pitcher Mitch Williams to the Rangers.
10,000 days since San Francisco sign free agent Vida Blue.
15,000 days since St. Louis trades Jose Cardenal to the Brewers.
30,000 days since George Steinbrenner is born.
1857 Hall of Fame skipper Ned Hanlon is born.
1886 A stray dog tears the pant leg of Cincinnati’s Abner Powell, causing him to miss a fly ball. The missed fly ball becomes a game-winning, inside-the-park home run.
1889 Wally Schang, a borderline Hall of Fame catcher, is born.
1891 Black Sox Happy Felsch is born.
1892 Ben Sanders tosses a no-hitter, winning 6-2.
1903 Pittsburgh’s all-time cumulative record (including the American Association years) hits .500 (1,409-1,409). They’ve been over .500 ever since.
1905 Detroit forfeits to Washington. They refused to play after a lengthy argument. Washington was up 2-1 at the time.
1910 Honus Wagner goes 7-for-7 in a doubleheader with three doubles and a homer.
1912 Honus Wagner hits for the cycle.
1915 Hall of Famer Edd Roush hits an inside-the-park, walk-off home run for Newark in the Federal League.
1917 Brooklyn beats the Pirates, 6-5, in 22 innings. It’s the third straight extra-inning game between the two teams. Pittsburgh’s Carson Bigbee goes 6-for-11 in the contest.
1920 Pitcher Ernie Shore plays his last game.
1923 Babe Ruth connects for his 1,000th career hit.
1923 White Sox pitcher Sloppy Thurston strikes out the side on nine pitches in the 12th inning against the A’s. Then the Sox lose in the 13th.
1926 After three straight rainouts, Connie Mack goes to the court for a special injunction so he can play a game on Sunday, which normally isn’t allowed in Pennsylvania.
1929 Herbert and Stella Aaron marry. They are the parents of Hank Aaron.
1933 Hank Greenberg has the first of 35 multi-home run games. He also gets the first of his six career walk-off home runs.
1933 Bill Veeck, Sr., father of the Hall of Famer and himself president of the Cubs, urges a midsummer series of interleague games and proposes a split season.
1934 Rudy York makes his big league debut.
1934 Pitcher Wes Ferrell blasts two home runs for Boston in their 3-2 win over the White Sox. The second home run is a walk-off shot.
1937 Dizzy Dean has perhaps his best day at the plate ever, going 3-for-4, including a three-run homer in St. Louis’s 9-7 win over the Pirates. Dean goes the distance, posting a line of: 9 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 0 K.
1938 Carl Hubbell has an operation to remove bone chips. He’s done for the year.
1938 Preacher Roe makes his big league debut.
1939 Carl Yastrzemski is born.
1944 Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser has his worst Game Score: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, and 4 K for a Game Score of 12.
1946 Baseball owners approve a move to a 168-game schedule. The change will be rescinded next month.
1948 Brooklyn pulls off a triple steal, with Jackie Robinson swiping home. The team steals eight bases on the day.
1949 The Yankees purchase Johnny Mize from the Giants for $40,000.
1950 Pitcher Ray Burris is born.
1951 Yankee hurler Tommy Byrne walks 16 Red Sox in a 13-inning game. Boston wins 3-1 despite stranding 22 runners.
1951 Jackie Robinson has his best known WPA game: 0.786 WPA. He goes 5-for-6 with a double, a run, and three RBIs in Brooklyn’s 8-7 win over St. Louis.
1954 Ernie Banks enjoys the first of 42 multi-home run games.
1956 Mickey Mantle belts one that comes within 20 feet of clearing Yankee Stadium. It lands 20 rows into the upper left field stands.
1956 Paul Molitor is born.
1957 Stan Musial is sidelined upon tearing a muscle and chipping a bone in his shoulder. This will end his consecutive-games-played streak.
1958 Early Wynn loses his 200th decision. He’s 245-200 on his career so far. He’ll go 55-44 from here on out.
1958 Nellie Fox plays his 98th consecutive game without striking out. He’s 116-for-396 in that stretch for a .293 average.
1958 Dummy Taylor, pitcher, dies.
1959 Frank Robinson belts three homers in one game.
1960 The Cubs sign amateur free agent Lou Brock. If I recall correctly, Buck O’Neil is the scout.
1960 Cub pitcher Jim Brewer and the Cubs team sue Billy Martin for over $1 million over a fight Martin started 17 days earlier that resulted in a broken cheekbone for Brewer. It’ll be settled out of court with Martin paying $25,000.
1961 Roger Maris knocks out his 50th home run. He’s on the fastest homer pace in history so far.
1963 Al Lopez manages his 2,000th game. He’s 1,164-825 in his career so far.
1966 Andy Etchebarren saves teammate Frank Robinson from drowning at a pool party for the Baltimore Orioles.
1968 Heinie Groh, Hall of Fame-caliber third baseman, dies.
1969 Jim Palmer tosses three wild pitches in one game but gets the complete-game win anyway.
1970 In a 16-inning game, Don Sutton steals the only base of his career. It happens in the seventh inning with the game tied, 1-1. The opposing Pirates beat Sutton’s Dodgers, 2-1, later on.
1971 Reggie Jackson hits an inside-the-park, walk-off home run. It’s his fourth and final inside-the-park homer and second of 10 walk-offs.
1971 Pete Rose bashes his 100th career home run.
1972 The Tigers and A’s brawl, setting up bad blood in that year’s ALCS showdown between them.
1973 Padre catcher Fred Kendall hits two triples in one game.
1973 The Indians sign amateur free agent Alfredo Griffin.
1974 Salem outfielder Alfredo Edmond in the Carolina League dies from an on-field collision with a teammate. It’s a massive skull fracture.
1974 The Cardinals sign amateur free agent Tommy Herr.
1976 The Angels lead the Yankees, 8-0, heading into the bottom of the ninth. Stunningly, the Yanks tie it but lose, 11-8, in 11 innings anyway.
1976 Jeff Weaver, pitcher, is born.
1976 Randy Wolf, pitcher, is born.
1976 Reggie Jackson launches a pinch-hit grand slam. It’s the second of two career pinch-hit slams for Mr. October.
1978 Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood plays his last game.
1978 Ron LeFlore sets an AL record with his 27th consecutive successful stolen base.
1979 Johnny Bench hits his 325th home run as a Red, passing Frank Robinson as the all-time franchise leader. Bench is still the Cincinnati homer king.
1979 Dave Parker belts his 1,000th career hit.
1979 Phil Niekro completes his 200th complete game.
1980 Eddie DeBartolo, Sr. reaches an agreement with Bill Veeck to buy the White Sox for $20,000,000. Baseball owners will nix it, fearing the Italian DeBartolo has mafia ties. Instead, DeBartolo becomes the owner of the NFL’s San Fracinsco 49ers for their 1980s dynasty.
1981 Steve Bedrosian runs out of the dugout for his first big league start—and hits the railing, bruising his forearm and swallowing his tobacco. He’s hurt and sick all game.
1982 The Cubs retire Ernie Banks’ No. 14.
1984 Graig Nettles homers for the sixth straight game. He’s 10-for-18 in that span.
1986 Mark McGwire makes his major league debut.
1988 Craig Biggio hits his first home run.
1989 Marquis Grissom makes his big league debut.
1989 Nolan Ryan strikes out his 5,000th batter. It’s Ricky Henderson.
1989 Paul Assenmacher fans four batters in one inning.
1989 The Blue Jays beat the Tigers, 3-2 (14), on a walk-off error. Here’s the blow-by-blow in the bottom of the 14th: walk, sacrifice hit, intentional walk, groundout forcing the trailing runner, stolen base by the new trailing runner, and an error by the pitcher.
1991 John Kruk gets hit by a pitch for the first time in 2,682 at-bats.
1991 Reggie Sanders makes his big league debut.
1995 After more than 7,700 plate appearances, Tony Gwynn hits his first grand slam. He’ll get two more in his career.
1996 Andruw Jones records the first of 43 (and counting) multi-home run games.
1997 Torii Hunter makes his big league debut.
1998 Ivan Rodriguez hits his 100th home run.
1999 Mark McGwire hits a 504-foot home run against the Mets.
2000 Eric Karros belts two home runs in one inning.
2000 Eric Byrnes makes his big league debut.
2001 The White Sox top the Royals, 13-12, despite the Royals scoring seven runs in the first inning.
2001 Sammy Sosa hits three homers in one game for the fourth time in his career. It’s also the second time he’s done it in two weeks. Sosa also leaves this game in the sixth inning.
2002 The Cubs trade Tom Gordon to the Astros.
2003 The Giants win, giving manager Felipe Alou a winning record (768-767). He’ll stay over .500 from this point on.
2003 The Yankees trade Sterling Hitchcock to the Cardinals.
2004 Craig Biggio hits his only pinch-hit homer. It comes with the Astros trailing the Cubs, 11-2, in the bottom of the sixth inning.
2004 Sterling Hitchcock makes his last big league appearance on the mound.
2004 Larry Walker hits his second grand slam of the week. It’s the seventh and last one of his career.
2006 Bobby Abreu hits his 200th career home run.
2006 Albert Pujols belts his fifth career grand slam. He gets two homers on the day for a new personal-best seven RBIs. Despite his performance, the Mets beat the Cardinals, 8-7. So yes, Pujols drove in all of St. Louis’ runs in that game.
2006 Arizona trades Shawn Green to the Mets.
2006 Dustin Pedroia makes his big league debut.
2006 The Orioles’ Nick Markakis connects for three home runs in one game.
2007 Barry Bonds hits his 600th double.
2007 Albert Pujols homers for the fifth consecutive game.
2007 The Rangers set a post-1900 record by beating the Orioles, 30-3.
2009 The Cardinals win their 10,000th game (including their days in the Amercian Association from 1882-91).
2010 Cub manager Lou Piniella retires on a down note as his Cubs lose, 16-5, to the Braves.