Forty years ago today, the Washington Senators came to an end. After 71 years and two franchises, they played their last game—and they really went out with a bang. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the fans went out with a bang.
The game took place in Washington, and the Senators rooters weren’t about to go out quietly. The news had broken the week before that the team was moving to Texas. This, predictably, infuriated the fans. Aside from the normal reasons, team owner Bob Short had said all year long that he didn’t think the team would move, despite rumors to the contrary.
Then the American League owners voted 10-2 to approve his move to Texas, where the local powers had offered Short a boatload of money. Sept. 30, 1971 looked to be a home game, but the fans were too riled up to mourn.
They came armed—with signs and bed sheets declaring their sentiments for Short. Many were profane and the security personnel forced most down after a few minutes. But a few made a mark.
Perhaps none were more memorable than a one-two punch from the outfield upper deck. First, some fans displayed a series of sheets tied to together. The line was so long that the sheets stretched all the way from the upper deck to the lower deck. Whoever the mystery fan(s) was/were, they draped two of these homemade signs over the railing, declaring for all the world “SHORT STINKS” with one word per sign.
The security crew forced it down, but it was so huge everyone saw it. But it wasn’t over.
Whoever made the signs really had planned this out. A little later, three signs went over the railing down to the lower deck declaring “SHORT STILL STINKS.” For many in the crowd that night, those signs were the highlight.
The game itself wasn’t the highlight for many. Oh, it had its moments. Frank Howard belted a home run and received not one but two curtain calls from the appreciative fans. Also, the Senators outscored the opposing New York Yankees.
The game was just one out from conclusion—just one out from ending the last Senators game on a victorious note—when the fandom’s frustration overcame any interest they had in seeing the victory.
Fans poured on the field. They tore the place up and grabbed whatever souvenirs they could. When would they ever get another chance like this? Order could not be restored and the Senators—long a baseball joke—suffered one last indignity, having their final game forfeited. Given their overall dismal record, it’s perhaps appropriate they never could get that last out.
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.
2,000 days since the Indians trade Brandon Phillips to the Reds.
3,000 days since the Dodgers sign free agent Rickey Henderson.
3,000 days since the Mets trade Jeromy Burnitz to the Dodgers.
7,000 days since the major league debut of Tim Wakefield.
15,000 days since Reggie Jackson belts a pinch-hit grand slam, the first of two pinch-hit slams he’ll get in his career.
25,000 days since a taxi hits Braves manager Casey Stengel. At the end of the year, a Boston newspaper will nominate the cabdriver for the town’s Sportsman of the Year.
30,000 days since St. Louis’ Pete Alexander beats the Phillies for his 373rd win. He enters the game in the eighth inning with the Phillies up 9-8, and the Cardinals win in 11 innings, 11-9.
1884 Nap Rucker, tremendous pitcher for terrible offensive squads in Brooklyn, is born.
1889 Jimmy Ryan, star outfielder, hits a leadoff inside the park home run.
1892 Wee Willie Keeler plays in his first big league game.
1893 Hall of Fame skipper Harry Wright manages his last game.
1893 Charlie Bennett, the best catcher of his day, plays in his last game.
1894 Charlie Comiskey manages his last game. Even if he had died in the 1894-95 offseason, he would deserve his plaque in Cooperstown. He did that good a job as manager.
1894 Pete Browning, the original Louisville Slugger, plays in his last game.
1895 Ed Cartwright hits for the cycle.
1903 The season’s contracts for the Red Sox players expire. The owner will offer a two-week extension so they’ll play in the first World Series.
1904 Doc White hurls his fifth consecutive shutout (and his sixth of the month) for the White Sox.
1904 Johnny Allen is born.
1907 During a furious pennant race, the Tigers and A’s play a lengthy extra-inning game that ends in a 9-9 tie. In a book published 30 years ago, John Thorn lists this as one of the 10 greatest games of all time.
1910 Beals Becker hits a pinch-hit, inside-the-park grand slam in the Giants-Dodgers game.
1910 Dick Rudolph, Miracle Braves pitcher, makes his big league debut.
1911 Topsy Hartsel, a terrific leadoff hitter, plays in his final game.
1912 Bullet Joe Bush plays in his first big league game.
1916 The Giants win their 26th consecutive game in the top of a doubleheader, and then lose the second game, breaking the streak. That win allows John McGraw to become the second manager (behind Fred Clarke) to win 1,500th game. His record: 1,500-1,021.
1917 All-time triples king Sam Crawford retires.
1920 The Chicago Herald and Examiner gives the first telling of the “Say it ain’t so, Joe” story.
1921 It’s Rogers Hornsby Day at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.
1923 Tris Speaker belts his 600th career double.
1924 Commissioner Kenesaw Landis meets with numerous players about claims that two Giants offered a Phillie money to not try hard in the game three days earlier.
1924 Nick Altrock becomes the oldest man (since 1920 at least) to hit a triple. He’s 48 years old at the time.
1926 Robin Roberts, terrific pitcher, is born.
1927 Charlie Gehringer’s longest hitting streak peaks at 21 games. In that time, his AVG/OBP/SLG is .396/.439/.505.
1927 Babe Ruth belts his 60th home run of the year. In the same game, Walter Johnson appears as a pinch hitter—and that’s his last major league game of any sort.
1927 Paul Waner enjoys his 38th straight game without striking out. He’s 52-for-137 with 18 walks in that time.
1928 Bob Weiland makes his first start a keeper, leading the White Sox to a 1-0 win over the A’s. Philadelphia leaves 12 men on base.
1928 Goose Goslin is given an option. If he wants, he can be lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of the last game of the season, in which he’ll preserve his narrow edge in the batting title race. Or, if he’d rather, he can bat and run the risk of losing the batting average title. He opts to bat— and gets the hit to preserve his title anyway.
1928 Exactly 16 years after his big league debut, Bullet Joe Bush appears in his final game.
1928 Wally Pipp plays in his final game.
1931 The Cubs draft Bobo Newsom from the Southern Association’s Little Rock squad in the Rule 5 draft.
1932 Johnny Podres is born.
1934 52-year-old a href=”http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1009765&position=SS” target=”_blank” class=”player”>Charley O’Leary scores as a pinch runner for the Browns.
1934 Babe Ruth goes hitless in his last game as a Yankee.
1934 The Brooklyn Dodgers have their revenge. Earlier this year, Bill Terry, player-manager for the archrival Giants squad, mocked the Dodgers saying, “Is Brooklyn still in the league?” Today, the Dodgers knock the Giants out of the pennant race, giving the Cardinals the flag.
1934 Dizzy Dean wins his 30th game of the year, and has his 12th straight Quality Start, a career best. Added bonus: It comes in a tight pennant race in which the Cardinals clinch it over the Giants on this day. His line in these 12 starts: 11-1 W-L, 10 CG, 103.2 IP, 77 H, 17 R, 13 ER, 21 BB, and 65 K for a 1.13 ERA.
1934 Lefty O’Doul, terrific hitter who becomes the father of Japanese baseball, plays in his final game.
1937 Johnny Allen wins, giving him a 15-0 record on the year. He’s won 17 straight, last losing on July 10, 1936.
1937 Hall of Famer Chick Hafey plays in his last game.
1939 Earl Whitehill, 200 game winner, plays in his last game.
1939 Murry Dickson, one of the game’s longest lasting swingmen, first appears in a big league game.
1941 The Giants claim Sal Maglie from Detroit in a Rule 5 draft.
1942 In Game One of the World Series, Yankees starter Red Ruffing has a no-hitter going until the eighth. St. Louis ends up with seven hits (six in the bottom of the ninth), but the Yankees win, 7-4.
1943 The Cardinals trade Preacher Roe to the Pirates.
1945 Eddie Stanky sets an NL record with his 148th walk.
1945 Hank Greenberg hits his last grand slam as a Tiger, and it’s a doozy. He belts it in the top of the ninth with the Tigers trailing the Browns 3-2. Detroit wins, 6-3. The Tigers clinch the pennant on this day. For the Browns, this is the last big league game for one-armed outfielder Pete Gray.
1946 Pittsburgh trades Billy Herman to the Braves.
1947 It’s the first televised World Series game.
1947 The White Sox release Red Ruffing.
1949 Ralph Kiner belts his 16th homer of the month. It clears the scoreboard in Forbes Field and is his 54th homer of the year.
1949 Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Gordon has his 22nd and final multi-home run game.
1950 Joe Gordon plays in his last big league game.
1950 Joe DiMaggio walks four times in one game.
1951 The Dodgers clinch a tie for a pennant in an excellent game: a 14-inning comeback win over the Phillies, 9-8. It ends on a Jackie Robinson home run in the top of the 14th inning.
1951 Ralph Kiner belts a walk-off grand slam.
1951 Joe DiMaggio plays in his last regular season game.
1951 Ned Garver wins his 20th game for a last-place, 100-loss St. Louis Browns team.
1956 Red Schoendienst gets his 2,000th career hit in his 1,711th game.
1956 Al Lopez resigns as Indians manager.
1956 Bucky Harris manages his last big league game.
1956 Robin Roberts surrenders three home runs, including one to pitcher Al Worthington, giving Roberts 46 for the season and setting a record.
1956 Jim Derrington becomes the youngest pitcher to start a game in the 20th century. He is 16 years, 10 months old when he takes the mound for the White Sox against the Kansas City A’s.
1956 Al Rosen plays in his last game.
1956 Bob Feller appears in his final game. It’s only his second career complete game with zero strikeouts. His line: 9 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, and 0 K.
1956 Playing in his last ever regular sesson game, Jackie Robinson homers. He’ll strike out in the bottom of the ninth of Game Seven, ending this year’s World Series (and his career).
1956 Monte Irvin plays in his last game.
1956 Hank Thompson appears in his last game.
1960 The Pirates release Mickey Vernon.
1961 Jimmie Dykes manages his last game.
1962 The Mets lose their 120th game. It’s the last game in Richie Ashburn’s Hall of Fame career. He starts the game at second base—a position he has never previously played. Also playing in his last game is Joe Pignatano, who hits into a triple play.
1962 Gene Oliver homers in the ninth inning to give St. Louis a 1-0 win over the Dodgers. This sets up a best-of-three game playoff between the Dodgers and Giants for the pennant, which the Dodgers will lose.
1964 Al Kaline hits his second and last inside the park home run.
1964 The Phillies lose their 10th straight game and are now 2.5 games out of first with only two left to play. However, the first place Cardinals have three games left, so they’re not technically dead.
1964 The Reds are fighting the Phillies and Cardinals in that same 1964 NL pennant race, and lose a heartbreaker on this day, 1-0 in 16 innings to the Pirates. It’s a great pitchers duel between Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney and Bob Veale, though neither factors in the decision. Maloney line: 11 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, and 13 K for a 102 Game Score. Veale: 12.1 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 BB, and 16 K for a 97 Game Score.
1966 Jim Gilliam plays in his final game.
1966 Jim Gentile appears in his last big league game.
1967 Jim Kaat, after pitching 63 innings with a 1.51 ERA in the month of September during a tight four-team pennant race, blows his arm out at the worst possible time. It’s early in a Red Sox-Twins game in Fenway. Not only are Kaat’s Twins leading when Kaat goes down, but a win that day would cinch up the pennant for them. Instead, Boston rallies to a victory and wins tomorrow for the pennant.
1968 Baseball umpires form a union.
1968 Atlanta releases Satchel Paige, who was on the roster just to qualify for a big league pension.
1971 Gil Hodges manages his last game. He’ll die just before Opening Day in 1972.
1971 Tony Perez plays at third base for the last time.
1972 Lou Brock gets his 2,000th hit in the midst of a 16-inning game at Wrigley Field. The Cards win, 2-1.
1972 Roberto Clemente does it—he gets his 3,000th hit just before the season ends.
1972 Jose Lima is born.
1972 Nolan Ryan sets a personal best with 17 strikeouts in a game. He’ll top that later on, obviously.
1972 Ted Williams announces he’s stepping down as manager of the Rangers.
1973 Frank Howard plays in his last game.
1973 Ralph Houk resigns as Yankees manager, cutting ties to the franchise he’s been a part of since the 1940s.
1973 Leo Durocher, only the third skipper to ever work in the majors in five decades, manages his last game.
1973 Mike Schmidt’s season ends on a brutally bad note. In his last seven games, he’s 0-for-25 with 17 Ks (but four walks and two stolen bases).
1974 Jeremy Giambi is born.
1975 Carlos Guillen is born.
1976 The White Sox try something different: They base their batting order upon player uniform number. They lose 7-3 to the Angels.
1977 Lou Brock steals his 900th base.
1977 Del Pratt, infielder, dies.
1978 Sandy Alomar Sr. plays in his last big league game.
1979 As the season ends, the Twins behind Jerry Koosman shut out the Brewers. It’s the first and only time all year anyone shuts out Milwaukee, so the Brewers narrowly miss joining the 1932 Yankees as the only team to go the entire season without getting goose egged.
1980 Umps eject Rick Honeycutt for having a thumbtack in his glove. On the way off the mound, he forgets about it, and wipes his forehead with his glove, gashing himself.
1980 It’s the smallest crowd in Shea Stadium history: Mets beat Pirates 3-2 before 1,754 fans.
1983 Gene Tenace plays his last game.
1984 Several players appear in their last game, including: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan—the man who scored the game’s millionth run—Bob Watson, and bad ball hitter Mickey Rivers. Also, Ralph Houk manages his last game, as does Danny Ozark.
1984 Umpires announce they’ll strike at two LCS games to improve their pay.
1985 Britt Burns pitches his last game. He had talent, but also a degenerative hip.
1986 Reggie Jackson creates the 2,500 strikeout club. A quarter century later, he’s still the only member, which is rather surprising given how often players strike out.
1986 Kevin Brown makes his big league debut.
1986 The Twins top the Indians 10-9 in 10 innings after being down 8-4 in the middle of the eighth.
1987 Pittsburgh’s Darnell Coles hits three home runs in one game
1988 Whitey Herzog loses his 1,000th game as a manager. His record: 1,162-1,000.
1988 Chili Davis gets his 1,000th career hit. It took him 1,030 games.
1988 Dave Stieb throws his third career one-hitter. It’s also the second consecutive start he came one out away from a no-hitter before someone tagged him. He’ll get five one-hitters—and then finally get his long sought no-hitter.
1988 Joaquin Andujar plays in his last game
1988 Exactly 10 years after his father and namesake played in his last game, Sandy Alomar Jr. makes his big league debut.
1988 President Ronald Reagan does a half-inning of play-by-play in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
1990 It’s the last game in Comiskey Park’s 81-season history The White Sox top the Mariners, 2-1.
1991 Eric Show appears in his final game.
1992 George Brett joins the 3,000 hit club. He does it in style—it’s his fourth hit of the game. That said, immediately after getting that historic milestone, Angels pitcher Tim Fortungo picks him off. Really. And good for him.
1993 Gary Sheffield plays his last complete game at third baseman.
1993 The Phillies suffer their first shutout in 174 games. They nearly made it the entire season without one. To date, only the 1932 New York Yankees have done it in the 20th century. Pirates beat them, 5-0.
1995 A plaque is placed within 50 feet of what was home plate at Hilltop Park in New York City (where the Yankees used to play back in the day).
1995 Rob Dibble plays his last game.
1995 Tom Henke plays in his last game.
1996 The Phillies fire their manager, Jim Fregosi, who led them to the pennant in 1993.
1997 In Game One of the NLDS, the Braves top the Astros 2-1 despite getting only two hits.
1997 The Marlins top the Giants 2-1 in Game One of the NLDS when Florida gets a run in the bottom of the ninth. It was scoreless until the seventh.
1998 Dan Quisenberry dies far too young, at 45.
1999 It’s the last baseball game at Candlestick Park. The largest crowd for a regular season game shows up—61,389—to see the Dodgers top the Giants, 9-4.
2003 Jason Schmidt throws a complete game shutout three-hitter in Game One of the NLDS. The Giants beat the Marlins, 2-0.
2005 Albert Pujols hits his 200th career home run, which is also his fourth slam.
2005 Carlos Baerga plays in his last game.
2005 Tampa announces that it will buy out the last year of Lou Piniella’s contract. He gets half of what he’s owed and can manage elsewhere if he wants to.
2006 Former Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth plays in his last game.
2007 Many notable players appear in their last game, including 3,000 hit man Craig Biggio, the best hitting catcher Mike Piazza, reliever Bob Wickman, third baseman Jeff Cirillo, catcher Damian Miller, infielder Mark Bellhorn, outfielder Jeff Conine, starting pitcher Orlando Hernandez, oft-injured outfielder Rondell White, shortstop Royce Clayton and reliever Mike Stanton.
Also, on the 19th anniversary of his debut, and 29th anniversary of his dad’s last game, Sandy Alomar Jr. plays in his final game. There’s something about Sept. 30 and that family.
2008 The Blackout Game happens on the South Side of Chicago. The White Sox and Twins square off in a winner-take-the-division game. Sox fans show up wearing all black to show their support, and they win 1-0, on a seventh inning homer by Jim Thome. The game ends on a magnificent diving catch by defensive specialist Brian Anderson.
2008 Ed Brinkman dies.
2009 Several Hall of Fame caliber players appear in their last regular season game on this day: Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Gary Sheffield. Also, though he’s not nearly as good, veteran high-quality reliever Everyday Eddie Guardado also appears in his last game.
2009 Florida pitcher Ricky Nolasco fans nine consecutive batters and collects 16 Ks overall in 7.2 innings versus Atlanta.