5,000 days ago, a big trade happened in the National League— the Rockies sent struggling starting pitcher Darryl Kile to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kile had first emerged as a pitcher with the 1990s Houston Astros. With a big curveball in his arsenal, Kile made the All-Star team in 1993 when he was just 24 years old. He remained a quality pitcher, winning 19 games behind a nice 2.57 ERA for the 1997 Houston squad.
Due to his performance, the Rockies figured Kile would be the perfect pitcher to brave their high altitude environment. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s almost impossible to understand what they were thinking. Kile’s bread and butter was his curveball. Breaking pitches flatten out in the thin Denver air. He was the worst possible pitcher for them to invest in.
It didn’t take too long for Kile to become the great cautionary tale of how breaking pitches break down in Denver. In 1998, he led the NL in losses with 17, thanks in part to a high 5.20 ERA. That isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. If you adjust for Colorado’s crazy run environment, Kile’s ERA was actually league average, with poor run support resulting in his loss total. True, but he’d been far better than average just the year before. Average was quite a step down. He needed his curveball back.
Things got worse the next year for Kile. He won just eight of his 32 starts, with his ERA ballooning up to 6.61. Denver or no Denver, that’s just bad. Even more disturbing was his collapsing walk and strikeout numbers. In his last year in Houston, he walked 97 batters in 255.2 innings while fanning 205. Just two years later, even though his innings pitched total had declined to 190.2, his walks had leapt to 109, while his Ks cratered to 116. Folks, this was a pitcher who had lost all confidence and was now constantly nibbling at the edges. That caused the drastic shifts in his bases on balls and strikeouts—and these changes occurred at home and on the road. Once he lost confidence, Kile lost confidence at all elevations.
Which leads us to Nov. 16, 1999—5,000 days ago—when the Rockies cut their losses and unloaded him. They traded him with Dave Veres and Luther Hackman to St. Louis in exchange for four players, the only one of note Jose Jimenez.
Though Jimenez had a few decent seasons as Colorado’s closer, the Cardinals got the better end of this deal. Immediately upon arrival in St. Louis, Kile got to re-experience the wonder and glory of a curveball that actually curved. He won 20 games for the 2000 Cardinals, and followed that up with 16 more in 2001.
Tragically, Kile died during the 2002 season due to an unknown heart ailment, but at least he’d been able to regain his game by then—and the trade 5,000 days ago allowed him to do that.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversaries and “day-versaries” (which are things that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d rather just skim.
2,000 days since former players and ex-Tigers broadcaster Lary Sorensen is found in a parked car in Michigan with a blood alcohol level of 0.48. Not a typo – zero point four eight!
3,000 days since the Pirates release what’s left of Benito Santiago.
4,000 days since Enos Slaughter, Hall of Fame left fielder, dies.
5,000 days since Toronto releases catcher Mike Matheny.
7,000 days since the Dodgers release outfielder Darryl Strawberry.
8,000 days since Mark McGwire uncorks the second of five career walk-off home runs.
8,000 days since Mets pitcher David Cone strikes out the side on just nine pitches versus Cincinnati.
8,000 days since Ivan Rodriguez hits his first home run.
9,000 days since the Indians sign free agent reliever Jesse Orosco.
15,000 days since Garret Anderson is born.
25,000 days since Astros pitcher Don Wilson is born.
1876 Cal McVey, who got six hits in a game three days ago, does it again. It was a very different game.
1883 Old Hoss Radbourn throws a no-hitter, winning 8-0.
1885 Charles Ferguson, a young phenom who will die young, hurls a no-hitter.
1889 Hall of Fame skipper Ned Hanlon manages his first game.
1894 George Decker of the Cubs hits a home run that reputedly travels 520 feet.
1896 Pirates trade future Hall of Famer Jake Beckley to the Giants for Harry Davis and $1,000. Davis will play for a long time, mostly with Connie Mack’s A’s team, and will briefly be the all-time AL home run leader.
1900 The Boston Braves score 13 runs in the first inning in an 18-5 win over the Cardinals.
1902 Cy Seymour of the Reds hits four sacrifice flies in one game versus the Cubs. Reds win, 6-1.
1908 In a semi-pro game in Falconer, New York, Hugh Bedient fans 42 batters in 23 innings.
1908 A new record crowd at the Polo Grounds of 25,000 sees Honus Wagner go 5-for-5 in a 7-2 Pirates victory over the Giants.
1910 Shoeless Joe Jackson, unhappy with the A’s when his teammates ridicule him, is traded to Cleveland for Briscoe Lord.
1912 Bert Daniels hits for the cycle.
1913 Walter Johnson fans 16 in 11 innings. It’s called a tie, 8-8, after 15 innings.
1917 The Pirates select George “High Pockets” Kelly, arguably the worst player inducted into Cooperstown, off waivers from New York Giants.
1918 A George Sisler triple in the first inning is the only hit Walter Johnson allows in a 15-inning, 1-0 win.
1926 Today’s Reds-Braves game is so contentious that twice cops have to arrive on the field. First they do it after a brawl gets nasty and one individual, Frank Wilson, punches one of the cops. Later in the game a collision at the plate causes the cops to return to the field.
1929 The A’s destroy the Indians, 21-3. Lefty Grove, not normally a good hitter, has his best day at the plate ever: 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs, and five RBIs.
1930 The A’s pull off two triple steals in one game. As a result, Al Simmons steals two bases in one game for the only time in his career.
1931 Pirates pitcher Larry French lasts 14 innings, the longest outing by any NL pitcher all year, but beats Brooklyn, 3-2.
1933 The Dodgers release veteran first baseman Joe Judge.
1933 The Cardinals unconditionally release Rogers Hornsby, who is hitting .325 in 46 games.
1933 The Cardinals’ Frankie Frisch manages his first game.
1933 Heinie Manush plays his 50th straight game without a strikeout. In that stretch he’s 85-for-223 for a .381 batting average.
1936 The longest hitting streak by Hall of Famer Earl Averill maxes at 20 games. He was 42-for-89 for a .472/.510/.764 line.
1936 Frankie Hayes of the A’s hits four doubles in their 15-12 win over the Indians.
1937 Joe Medwick collects his 1,000th hit in his 717th game.
1937 Mel Almada scores nine times in a doubleheader: four runs in the first game and five in the second.
1939 The A’s and Indians combine for 14 runs in the ninth inning. It’s 3-3 going in, then 12-3 Cleveland in the middle of the frame, and 12-8 when it ends.
1939 The Dodgers pick up Dixie Walker from the Tigers at the waiver price.
1939 Jimmie Foxx, who homered twice in the second game of the doubleheader yesterday, homers twice in the second game of today’s doubleheader.
1939 Mel Ott gets on base for the 42nd consecutive game, his best such streak.
1939 Yankee pitcher Atley Donald ties the rookie record with 12 straight wins at the start of the season.
1941 Lefty Grove wins his 300th game. He’s the first to do it since Peter Alexander.
1942 The Giants purchase Van Mungo from Minneapolis of the American Association.
1948 Joe Medwick plays his last game.
1948 Carl Erskine debuts in the big leagues.
1949 Stan Musial legs out his 100th triple.
1953 Eddie Stanky plays his last game.
1954 Jack Harshman fans 16 Red Sox in Chicago’s 5-2 win.
1956 Roberto Clemente hits the most awesome home run of all-time: An inside-the park walk-off grand slam. He hits it off Jim Brosnan for a 9-8 Pirates victory.
1957 Veteran swingman pitcher Steve Gromek appears in his final game.
1958 Whitey Ford hurls his third straight complete-game shutout: 27 IP, 12 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 14 K.
1959 It’s the first of two times Hank Aaron plays a full game at third base. The second time is the first game of a doubleheader tomorrow.
1959 In a Yankee 9-8 win over the Tigers, Yogi Berra has his best WPA game and Al Kaline has his worst WPA game. Berra is 3-for-4 with a double, home run, two RBIs, two runs, a walk, and he reached on error for a 0.749 WPA. Alternately, Kaline was 0-for-5 with an intentional walk, and a GIDP for a –0.663 WPA.
1960 Leo Cardenas, infielder, makes his big league debut.
1961 Roger Maris has his best day of his 61-home run season, blasting four homers in a doubleheader.
1962 Doug Drabek is born.
1962 Vinegar Bend Mizell, pitcher, plays his last game in the majors.
1964 Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer hits his seventh and final grand slam. As it happens, his previous homer, hit a week earlier, was also a grand slam.
1964 The Twins use nine pitchers in a 13-inning game, losing 6-5 to the White Sox.
1964 Alex Johnson, batting title winner, makes his major league debut.
1965 Brooks Robinson blasts his 100th career home run.
1965 After midnight, Casey Stengel breaks his hip, which will end his managerial career.
1965 Nellie Fox, Hall of Fame second baseman, plays his final game.
1965 Smokey Burgess collects his 108th pinch hit, a record (later broken).
1967 Orioles-Tigers game in Detroit postponed on account of Detroit’s massive ongoing race riot.
1968 It’s the tenth game in a ten-start stretch for Bob Gibson in which he allows two runs. Not averaging two runs—allowing a total of two runs! His line in this time: 10-0, 90 IP, 51 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 12 BB, 75 K for a 0.20 ERA.
1969 Boston’s Tony Conigliaro suffers a wrenched back while homering in a 7-6 win over the Pilots.
1969 Bob Gibson has his best Game Score (100) and WPA in a complete game win over the Giants, 2-1 (13). His line: 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K.
1971 Billy Wagner is born.
1972 Cubs announce Leo Durocher is no longer their manager.
1974 Carl Yastrzemski hits his 300th career home run.
1974 Mickey Lolich endures a career-worst Game Score of six. His line: 3 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.
1974 Tony Perez has his best WPA game: 0.954 WPA. He’s 2-for-6 with a home run, three runs, two RBIs, a strikeout and a reached on error. The Reds beat the Giants 14-13 in the first game of a doubleheader.
1975 In the bottom of the sixth inning, Bert Blyleven yields three straight singles to load the bases, then fans the next three batters to end the inning without allowing a run. It’s the only time he gets out of a bases-loaded jam without allowing a run with three straight Ks.
1977 Mike Schmidt plays the last four innings of a 12-inning game at second base. It’s the fourth and final time he plays there, and the only time after 1973.
1978 The Yankees name Bob Lemon as their manager, replacing Billy Martin. Under Lemon, the Yankees will stage a spectacular second-half surge to win the division, then the pennant and world title.
1978 Pete Rose collects a hit in his 38th straight game, setting a new modern NL record.
1978 Slugger Jack Clark’s longest personal hitting streak peaks at 26 games. He’s 39-for-106 with just 11 Ks.
1979 Pete Rose bashes his 600th career double.
1979 Mike Schmidt’s longest career hitting streak maxes out at 17 games. He’s 29-for-62 with 12 homers, four doubles, and a triple for a .468/.528/1.145 line.
1980 Mike Schmidt hits his 260th homer as a Phillie, passing Del Ennis as franchise leader. Then he receives a walk-off walk in the bottom of the 11th for a 5-4 Phillies win over the Braves. His overall WPA for the game is 0.821 WPA, his best ever: 4-for-4 with a double, two homers, two runs, four RBIs, a HBP, and the walk-off walk.
1982 Steve Carlton hurls his 50th career shutout.
1982 Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker hits three triples in one game.
1982 Rickey Henderson does the impossible: He’s out going from first to third on a ground-rule double. He heads out to steal second and takes the base, but heads back to first when he fears the ball might be caught. Then, when it bounces over the fence, he jogs over the middle of the infield to third.
1983 Here’s a dumb one: The entire Indians team runs off the field with two outs in the bottom of the sixth versus the Royals. At least no one was on base at the time.
1984 Wade Boggs plays his 23rd straight game without striking out. He’s 31-for-94 with 13 walks.
1985 Wade Boggs’ best hitting streak peaks at 28 games. He’s 45-for-112 with a .402/.481/.527 line.
1986 Ted Lyons, Hall of Famer and all-time winningest White Sox pitcher dies at age 85.
1989 Wade Boggs belts out four extra base hits in one game, three doubles and a triple.
1989 Kirby Puckett enjoys his best WPA game: 4-for-5 with a double, triple, run scored, and an RBI for a 0.989 WPA as the Twins edge the Blue Jays, 5-4.
1990 Rafael Palmeiro hits the first of seven career walk-off home runs.
1990 George Brett hits for the cycle for the second time in his career.
1990 The Mets beat the Phillies 10-9 despite a six-run bottom of the ninth by Philly.
1990 Prior to today’s Padres game, Roseanne Barr infamously sings one of the worst renditions of The National Anthem. Still to be determined: who thought Roseanne would be a good person to sing The Star Spangled Banner?
1990 Veteran umpire Bob Engel resigns after pleading no contest to charges of shoplifting baseball cards.
1991 Jim Fregosi manages his 1,000th game (470-530).
1992 Atlanta beats the Pirates 1-0 despite having only one hit in the game, a David Justice homer. In the ninth inning, Otis Nixon robs Pittsburgh’s Andy Van Slyke of a two-run home run to preserve the win.
1995 The Blue Jays release Frank Viola, whom the Reds pick up that same day.
1996 Bobby Cox picks up his 1,000th loss as manager (1,178-1,000).
1996 Mark McGwire drills a 488-foot home run at Toronto’s Skydome, believed to be the longest one there. Two days later, Joe Carter unleashes a 483-foot shot.
1997 Gary Sheffield records his 1,000th career hit in 972 games.
1997 The Reds name Jack McKeon as their new manager. Under him, they’ll regroup, rebound, and play terrific baseball over the last two months.
1997 Jesse Ibarra of the Jacksonville Suns hits grand slams from both sides of the plate in a 12-9 win over the Memphis Chicks.
1997 Paul Molitor enjoys his 10th and final multi-home run game.
1998 Jim Bouton finally appears in Yankee Stadium for Old Timers’ Day.
1998 Neifi Perez, of all people, hits for the cycle.
1999 Albert Belle launches three homers in a game for the third time.
1999 The Marlins trade Livan Hernandez to the Giants.
2001 The A’s, Rockies, and Royals make a three-way trade in which the A’s get Jermaine Dye and the Royals get Neifi Perez.
2001 The Mets leave 16 men on base but defeat the Marlins anyway, 5-2.
2003 Frank Thomas cranks out his 400th home run.
2006 Dinosaur denier Carl Everett plays in his last game.
2010 Arizona trades Dan Haren to the Angels for various players.
2010 Chris Coughlan tears his meniscus in one of the dumbest ways possible—trying to slam a pie into the face of teammate Wes Helms after the game. Coughlan requires knee surgery.
2011 Seattle drops their 17th straight game, fanning 18 times while getting just one hit against CC Sabathia and the Yankee bullpen in a 4-1 New York victory.