40,000 days ago, Rube Waddell pitched eight-ninths of a no-hitter—but boy, oh boy, did he ever miss on that nine-ninths.
No, this isn’t a tale of a pitcher losing a no-hitter in the ninth inning. That happens rather frequently. What happened on Aug. 1, 1903 was far stranger.
Waddell was the hurler for Connie Mack’s A’s, and he was up against Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders (as the Yankees were then called). In the first time through the order, only one man was able to get a hit against Waddell, shortstop Kid Elberfeld. That name would be a curse upon Waddell all day long.
You see, Elberfeld had a whammy on Waddell that day. It didn’t make any difference what Waddell threw, Elberfeld had the answer. Each time up, he got a hit. Four times in all Elberfeld came to the plate, and when the day ended, he had four hits.
Meanwhile, the other Highlanders couldn’t do a damn thing against Waddell. Box scores from the game aren’t available, but odds are Waddell walked his share of men. Maybe the A’s committed an error or two. But no one else could get a hit. Waddell had as strong a whammy on the non-Elberfeld parts of the lineup as Elberfeld had on him.
Things like this happen. A little over 40 years ago, Billy Williams got three hits against Phil Niekro while Williams’ Cub teammates had none. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s happened. But four hits all from one bat? I’m not sure that’s ever happened again.
It was worse than a fluky lost no-hitter for Waddell, though. He didn’t just lose the no-hitter, but he also lost the game. New York managed to push three runs across the plate to give the Highlanders a 3-2 win.
It must’ve been a mighty frustrating day for Waddell, and that day was 40,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other events have their anniversary or “day-versary”) which is something that happened X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Johny Cuerto nearly throws a no-hitter. He allows just one hit, a third-inning single that deflected off the glove of infielder Paul Janish. Cuerto’s Reds beat the Pirates, 9-0.
2,000 days since the Twins trade Ramon Ortiz to the Rockies.
5,000 days since Curt Schilling has a memorable game for two reasons. First, it’s his fifth straight complete game, his personal record. Second, it’s his only time going 0-for-3 with three whiffs. He has other three-K games, but never in just three at-bats.
5,000 days since Byung-Hyun Kim makes his big league North American debut.
5,000 days since the Reds win, putting manager Jack McKeon’s career record over .500 (612-611). It’ll stay over .500 for the rest of his career.
6,000 days since Bobby Abreu makes his big league debut.
8,000 days since Jim Palmer’s ill-fated comeback attempt ends when he tears his hamstring with the Orioles in spring training.
10,000 days since the 29th and final time Pete Rose reaches base via catcher’s interference. That has to be a record.
20,000 days since Pittsburgh Pirate Roman Mejias hits three homers in one game.
40,000 days since Iron Man Joe McGinnity pitches both ends of a doubleheader, winning them both for the Giants, 4-1 and 5-2, over Boston. McGinnity surrenders a dozen hits on the day, six in each game.
At some point today, it’ll be 1,000,000,000 seconds since Billy Martin tosses two handfuls of dirt at home plate umpire Terry Cooney, which will earn Martin a week-long suspension.
1861 Wearing ice skates, the Atlantics beat the Charter Oak Club, 36-27, on a frozen pond in South Brooklyn.
1876 Germany Schaefer is born. He’ll play for 15 seasons as an infielder, mostly at second base.
1892 Rollie Naylor is born. He’ll pith for the A’s in their dormant years around 1920, ending his career with an unenviable record of 42-83.
1909 John Clarkson, 300-game winner, dies at age 47.
1920 Ed Siever dies at age 44. He led the AL in 1902 with an ERA of 1.91 (despite a losing record of 8-11) with the Tigers.
1922 Commissioner Landis reinstates Joe Harris, who had previously been banned for playing in independent games with ineligible players. His good WWI record earns him reinstatement.
1932 The Reds purchase George Grantham from the Pirates.
1938 Lonny Frey, good glove infielder, is sold to the Reds.
1942 The Tigers release longtime star second baseman Charlie Gehringer.
1943 Frank Dwyer, 1890s pitcher, dies at age 74. He won 177 games and had two 20-win seasons.
1947 The White Sox release former star Indians first baseman Hal Trosky, effectively ending his career.
1953 Rob Picciolo, infielder is born. Going by Bill James’ secondary average stat (extra-base hits, walks, and stolen bases added together divided by at-bats), his 1977 is one of the lowest in the last 40 years by a full-time player. Piccolo had nine walks, one stolen base, a dozen doubles, three triples, and two homers in 419 at-bats for a .069 secondary average.
1956 Major league baseball votes to create the Cy Young Award for the year’s best pitcher. Cy Young had died recently, helping to spark the new award and its name.
1962 Dan Plesac, reliever, is born.
1963 Flushing Meadows Stadium officially becomes William A. Shea Municipal Stadium through a bill signed by Mayor Wagner.
1969 Bowie Kuhn wins election unanimously as baseball commissioner pro tem. He’ll do a terrible, terrible job.
1971 Bowie Kuhn says Negro Leaguers will have a separate section in Cooperstown. Though that sounds terrible, and though Kuhn normally did a terrible job, he’s actually tried to nudge Cooperstown in the right direction here, as the Hall itself had opposed inducting any Negro Leaguers.
1976 Federal judge John W. Oliver upholds arbitrator Peter Seitz’s decision ending the reserve clause.
1977 Nemo Leibold, Clean Sox on the 1919 Chicago AL champions, dies at age 84.
1984 Doug Fister, starting pitcher, is born.
1985 Greg Luzinski announces his retirement.
1985 The Phillies trade Al Oliver to the Dodgers.
1990 The only championship ever awarded in the Senior Professional Baseball Association goes to St. Petersburg, as they beat West Palm Beach, 12-4, in the championship.
1991 The Hall of Fame Board of Directors votes unanimously to exclude Pete Rose from eligibility.
1998 Tampa signs free agent slugger Jose Canseco.
2002 The Minnesota Supreme Court refuses to consider an appeal of an injunction that forces the Twins to fulfill their dome lease for the year.
2003 The Red Sox select Bronson Arroyo off waivers from the Pirates. This works out pretty darn well for Boston and Arroyo.
2003 The Yankees sign free agent pitcher Jon Lieber.
2007 Former Orioles pitcher Steve Barber dies at age 68. He made two All-Star teams and won 20 games in 1963.
2009 Ramon Hernandez, a pretty good reliever in the 1970s NL, dies at age 68.
2010 The Twins sing free agent Orlando Hudson.
2011 Andy Pettitte announces his retirement. It didn’t take.
2011 The Yankees sign Eric Chavez.
2011 The Cardinals sign Jim Edmonds, whose career is over.
2011 Woodie Fryman, a pitcher who made two All-Star teams in his 18-year career, dies at age 70.