5,000 days ago something very rare happened—something that hadn’t happened in decades: A team scored in all nine innings of a game.
It was May 5, 1999 and the Rockies were slated to play a day game against the Cubs in Colorado’s only series of the year in Wrigley Field. The day before they’d scored 12 runs in a losing, 13-12 effort. Today their hitting would be a touch better, and their pitching notably better, giving them the win.
Things got off to a nice start for Colorado. Though the first two batters in the top of the first made outs, the next pair singled in a nice little two-out rally. The rally should’ve been stillborn as Colorado third baseman Vinny Castilla bounced one to the side of Cubs third sacker Gary Gaetti, but the aging Gaetti fumbled the ball. Thus the first Colorado run scored unearned. It would not be the last unearned run.
In the second, Chicago starting pitcher Terry Mulholland allowed a leadoff homer to Colorado shortstop Neifi Perez. This might not be the Cubs’ day. Then again, the Cubs tied the score 2-2 in the bottom of the first, so who knows? After all, eventually the Cubs had to keep the Rockies off the scoreboard at some point …. Right?
In the third, the Rockies pushed another run across the plate by following up Larry Walker’s leadoff double with a Dante Bichette RBI single. But they lost the lead when a big Cubs inning in the bottom of the third gave them a 5-3 lead.
Naturally, the Cubs couldn’t hold it. In the fourth, Colorado center fielder Chris Sexton recorded one of his 17 career RBIs on a two-out single. The Rockies hadn’t broken through in any frame, but hadn’t been stopped yet either. After four, the Cubs held a 5-4 advantage.
In the fifth the Rockies finally scored more than one run—two, to be exact. The Cubs were lucky it wasn’t more than that; three of the first four Rockies hitters bashed extra-base hits. Walker had a leadoff triple, and Bichette and first baseman Kurt Abbott both doubled. Mulholland hunkered down after that and Abbott died at second base. But now Colorado had the lead, 6-5. And the Cubs still hadn’t kept the Rockies from scoring in any single frame.
Mulholland led off the sixth by walking Sexton, and Cubs manager Jim Riggleman finally yanked him. Reliever Richie Barker nearly got out of the inning without letting Colorado score, but a two-out wild pitch let Sexton score. Now it was, 7-5.
The Cubs pulled Barker for a pinch-hitter, and so Dan Serafini came in to pitch the seventh. Sexton continued having the biggest day of his brief big league career, belting a two-run homer. Now the game was 9-5 and getting out of reach. The only drama left was whether the Cubs would somehow figure out how to keep Colorado from scoring in an inning. There were only two frames left.
Serafini began the eighth with a thud. After three batters, the bases were loaded on two singles and an error by second baseman Mickey Morandini. Out went Serafini and in went Rodney Myers. His first pitch to Neifi Perez became a two-run double (only one run earned because of the error). The Rockies now had runners on second and third with no outs, but to their credit the Cubs managed to stop any more runs from scoring. The lead runner was thrown out at the plate and the Cubs got a double play a little later.
Now it all came down to the ninth. Would the Rockies become the first team in decades to score in all nine innings or would the Cubs survive with some minimal level of pride? Lord knows the game was over, with the Rockies up easily, 11-6.
Leadoff hitter Mike Lansing singled for Colorado. Uh-oh. But a few minutes later he was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Walker. The Cubs still had a chance to keep them from scoring. Myers then made things trickier, throwing a wild pitch that let Walker advance into scoring position with still just one out. Then Bichette walked.
Vinny Castilla came up with a chance to make history by driving in the run, but instead grounded out. Sure it advanced the runners to second and third, but now the Rockies were down to their last out. Could they do it?
Coming up to the plate was young Todd Helton. He didn’t start the game but replaced Abbott midway through. Now it was all up to him. What would he do?
Rats—he grounds an easy one to first baseman Mark Grace. Of all these defensively challenged Cubs to hit it to, Helton had to pick the Gold Glover. But wait—Grace’s glove was King Midas in reverse; the ball clunked off his stone fingers. Both runners scored and Helton ended up on second base.
The Rockies had done it: They’d scored in every inning. At least the Cubs retired Perez to end the inning. Colorado never scored more than two runs in any frame in the 13-6 victory, but more notably the Cubs never shut the Rockies down. (Heck, the Cubs helped them, with three unearned runs, each scoring in different innings, and a fourth run plated by a wild pitch).
There’s an odd detail to this game. Before the contest, Grace was talking to some of his teammates and reporters asking if any team had ever scored in every inning of a game. It’s like he had some sixth sense something was going to happen in that game—a game that happened 5,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate a “day-versary” or anniversary. Here they are, with the better ones in bold.
1,000 days since the Mets and Cardinals have a marathon pitchers duel for the ages. It’s scoreless until the 19th as the Mets win in 20 frames, 2-1. Albert Pujols sets a personal best by getting on base six times with two hits and four walk.
1,000 days since Ubalo Jimenez throws the first no-hitter by a Rockies pitcher.
5,000 days since Billy Koch makes his big league debut.
6,000 days since Luis Castillo makes his big league debut.
6,000 days since Willie McGee bops out his 2,000th hit.
7,000 days since Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey dies at age 86.
9,000 days since Chuck Tanner manages his final big league game.
10,000 days since Eddie Murray has the game of his life, driving in nine runs on three homers and a single.
30,000 days since the birth of the ancient wonder of the baseball world, Jack McKeon.
1859 George Pinkney is born. He’s an 1880s infielder who will lead the league in runs scored and walks once each, and games played and at-bats twice.
1868 Silver King is born. He’ll become one of the greatest pitching phenoms ever, leading the league in wins (45), ERA (1.63) and many other categories at age 20 in 1888.
1876 Elmer Flick, Hall of Fame outfielder, is born.
1890 Max Carey, Hall of Fame centerfielder, is born.
1899 Alvin “General” Crowder is born. He’ll win 50 games in 1932-33 with the Senators before blowing his arm out.
1910 Schoolboy Rowe, Tigers pitcher who once won 16 straight games, is born.
1915 It’s official: the sale of the Yankees to Col. Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L’Hommedieu becomes final.
1926 Two franchises in the Pacific Coast League shift. The Vernon Tigers become the Mission Reds (in San Francisco) and the Salt Lake Bees become the Hollywood Stars.
1929 Don Mossi, pitcher and reputedly the ugliest player ever, is born.
1929 Helen Ruth, the estranged wife of Babe Ruth, dies in a fire in Watertown, Mass..
1949 The Stony Quarry site is selected as a place for Milwaukee’s to-be-constructed County Stadium. Though County Stadium is gone, that locale still hosts professional baseball, as it’s where the Brewers’ Miller Park is.
1955 Boston releases veteran catcher Mickey Owen.
1958 U.S. Reps Kenneth Keating and Patrick Hillings drop plans to bring MLB under anti-trust laws.
1959 Lloyd McClendon, longtime Pirates manager, is born.
1965 Wally Pipp dies at age 71.
1968 Ewing Kaufmann becomes owner of the new expansion Kansas City Royals team, which will begin play in 1969.
1969 Manny Acta, big league manager, is born.
1971 Tigers pitcher John Hiller suffers a life-threatening heart attack. He’s just 27 years old. Fortunately, he’ll recover and have one of the greatest relief seasons ever.
1971 Rey Ordonez is born.
1973 Louis Nippert purchases 51 percent of stock in the Reds from the Gamble and Williams families, becoming the owner.
1977 In an amateur draft, the Rangers nab Dave Righetti, and the Yankees claim Willie McGee, both of whom sign. The big action comes from players who don’t sign with the teams drafting them, though—most notably Hubie Brooks (A’s), Bud Black (Giants), Charlie Lea (White Sox), Jeff Lahti (Giants), Jesse Orosco (Cardinals), and Marty Barrett (Angels).
1983 The Yankees hire Billy Martin as their manager for the third time.
1993 Jesse Jackson says he’ll call for a selective boycott of major league baseball unless it puts put more minorities in the front offices.
2000 The Angels sign free agent Scott Spiezio.
2000 Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon dies at age 79.
2001 Reggie Sanders is signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2001 The Red Sox sign free agent David Cone.
2001 The Giants sign free agent outfielder Eric Davis for the last year of his career.
2002 Colorado signs free agent reliever Todd Jones.
2005 The Dodgers trade Shawn Green to Arizona for four players.
2005 The Dodgers sign Derek Lowe as a free agent.
2006 Baltimore signs free agent Jeff Conine.
2006 Seattle signs free agent Matt Lawton for what will be the final season of his career.
2008 Milwaukee signs free agent outfielder Mike Cameron.
2008 Texas signs reliever Everyday Eddie Guardado.