Fifty years ago today, Paul Foytack had his moment of infamy. He did something that no pitcher had ever done before, and no pitcher would ever do again for several decades. And it’s something that no pitcher ever wants to do.
On July 31, 1963, Foytack surrendered back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs.
In 1963, Foytack was an aging pitcher nearing the end of his line. He’d had his moments as an innings-eating starting pitcher for the mid-to-late 1950s Tigers. Never a star, Foytack was a solid and dependable pitcher, the kind who could start 30-some times a year and win 15 games.
Foytack had some control problems when he first came up, walking a league leading 142 batters in 1956, his first full season. That’s still the second highest total in Tigers history. But he soon got it under control, walking half as many just two years later.
While he tamed his control, one problem continued to haunt Foytack—he gave up more than his share of home runs. In fact, by mid-1963, despite having thrown fewer than 1,500 innings in his career, Foytack had cracked the top 50 all-time in home runs allowed.
By 1963, the Tigers decided to dump him in the bullpen, and at midseason they traded him to the Angels, where he was primarily a mop-up man. So it came that 50 years ago today the Angels called on him to pitch the mid-innings of a game they were losing to the Indians, 5-1.
Foytack pitched an event-less fifth frame, and then retired the first pair of batters in the sixth. Then he met he date with destiny.
Up came Indians third baseman Woodie Held, A decent player with mid-range power, Held had hit 19 or more homers in five of the previous six seasons. And he showed off that power here, taking Foytack deep for a solo shot.
Eh, no matter. Held was batting eighth, and that meant up to the plate came Cleveland’s pitcher, Pedro Ramos. There’s an irony that Ramos would be a batter in this sequence, because he was a gopher-ball prone pitcher himself. Three times he’d led the league in homers allowed and he’d end the season ranked sixth all-time in dingers surrendered. Even better, Ramos holds an unusual record: most homers allowed to opposing pitchers, 15. Yet in this at bat Ramos would be the slugger, not the slugged. He took Foytack deep for the second straight homer.
That’s aggravating, but that’s life. Time to focus on the next batter: Tito Francona, father of the current Indians manager. Though not a slugger, Francona wasn’t a weakling either, as his 125 career homers attest. Well, career home run No. 91 happened right here.
Angels manager Bill Rigney opted to keep Foytack in the game. Maybe it was all happening too fast. Maybe it was just because Foytack still needed just one more out. Or maybe it’s because the next batter was a 23-year-old rookie named Larry Brown, playing in just his 25th game and still looking for his first home run.
He found that first homer. Four batters in a row had gone deep against Foytack. For years, Foytack would be the only pitcher to make that claim— until April 22, 2007 when it happened to Chase Wright. But Foytack did it first, and it happened 50 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
1,000 days since Sparky Anderson dies.
2,000 days since Oakland signs free agent reliever Keith Foulke.
4,000 days since Alex Rodriguez becomes the fourth person to amass six homers in three games.
7,000 days since Greg Maddux throws a complete game shutout for a 1-0 win despite allowing 12 base runners. Oh, and he’s half-blind at the time. He lost a contact lens earlier on a road trip and went out to pitch with one good eye.
15,000 days since the Twins fire manager Bill Rigney.
20,000 days since construction begins on the horrible Giants home field, Candlestick Park.
30,000 days since Bucky Harris appears in his last big league game.
30,000 days since Rogers Hornsby endures his fifth straight game without a hit, something very unusual for the lifetime .358 hitter. He’s 0-for-18 with two walks.
50.000 days since the first annual meeting of the National League is held. The league decides to expel the new York and Philadelphia clubs for refusing to adhere to the league’s schedule.
1886 Star second baseman Laughing Larry Doyle is born.
1888 Gus Weyhing throws a no-hitter, Philadelphia 4, Kansas City 0.
1888 Super base stealer and Hall of Famer Billy Hamilton makes his big league debut.
1891 Hall of Famer fireballer Amos Rusie becomes the youngest player to hurl a no-hitter at age 20 years and two months.
1892 Baseball pitcher Art Nehf is born. He’ll post 60 victories for the Giants from 1920-22.
1892 Infielder Hick Carpenter appears in his last game. He led the American Association (which was a big league back then) in hits and RBIs in 1882.
1897 Cardinals pitcher John Grimes hits six batters in one game, which is still the record for a nine-inning game.
1899 Slugging outfielder Mike Tiernan plays in his last game.
1908 Fred Tenney steals first in attempt to draw a throw from the catcher to let the runner on third advance.
1908 Piano Legs Hickman appears in his last game. Aside from having an all-time great nickname, Charlie Hickman led the 1902 AL in hits.
1910 Cubs pitcher King Cole throws a shortened game no-hitter: seven innings against the Cardinals.
1921 Hall of Fame pitcher Eppa Rixey wins his 100th decision. His record is 100-114 at this point. He’ll be 166-137 for the rest of his career.
1922 Young star Austin McHenry plays in his last game. He’ll be dead by the end of the year.
1930 Lou Gehrig ties his personal best by driving in eight runs in one game. The day before, he had six. Today, he smacks a grand slam, and two doubles and New York needs all of it, as the Yankees narrowly edge Boston, 14-13.
1932 Exactly six years to the day since he last did it, Washington outfielder Sam Rice hits an over-the-fence home run.
1933 St. Louis signs aging spitballer Burleigh Grimes, who had been released by the Cubs earlier this week.
1934 Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi belts a pinch-hit grand slam.
1934 Lou Gehrig reaches base for the 52nd straight game, his personal best.
1935 Indians pitcher Mel Harder will hit only four homers in his 20-plus year pitching career, but two come in one game off Chicago’s Ray Phelps. Despite that, Harder and the Indians lose, 6-4.
1935 Braves owner Judge Emil Fuchs forfeits his majority of stock in the team and retires.
1936 Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Bottomley has his 18th and final multi-home run game.
1937 Carl Hubbell loses his 100th decision. His record is 184-100.
1937 In a radio interview in Chicago, outfielder Jake Powell says he’d like to “hit every colored person in Chicago over the head with a club.” He’ll get a 10 game suspension for this.
1938 At age 37, veteran Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett steals his first base in three years.
1941 In honor of Lefty Grove recently winning his 300th game, The Sporting News has the following banner headline on its front page: “Now it’s a magic dozen: with Grove latest and maybe last 300 game winner.” Even back then, people were talking about there being no more 300 game winners.
1941 The Red Sox and Browns set a record for longest nine-inning game in AL history: three hours and 11 minutes. I believe that record has since been broken. St. Louis wins, 16-11.
1942 Charlie Gehringer’s final career home run is a pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth. Detroit loses, though; the homer run just turns a 7-4 deficit into a 7-6 loss.
1944 Joe Medwick hits his 500th double. He’s the 16th member of the club.
1946 Bob Feller throws the seventh of his record 12 one-hitters. He walks nine and fans nine in it. Bobby Doerr gets the hit – it’s the second time Doerr has the only hit in a Feller one-hitter.
1951 Bob Feller wins his 224th game with the Indians, passing Mel Harder as the franchise all-time win leader. He still is, all these years later.
1954 Joe Adcock has one of the greatest days in baseball history, homering four times and hitting a double that nearly clears the fence. His 18 total bases in one game will be a record that lasts nearly a half-century until Shawn Green breaks it in 2002.
1955 Lou Boudreau notches his 1,000th managerial victory. His record: 1,000-941.
1955 Roy Campanella hits his 200th home run.
1955 White Sox pitcher Dick Donovan undergoes an emergency appendectomy.
1957 Former Cubs first baseman Leon Durham is born.
1959 Al Kaline hits the first of two career inside the park home runs.
1959 Don Drysdale fans 14, a personal best he’ll twice tie.
1960 The Southern Association’s Memphis-Chattanooga game is postponed due to excessive heat.
1960 Hank Aaron is caught stealing twice in one game, the only time that ever happens to him.
1962 Ford Frick proposes interleague play in 1963. It doesn’t take.
1964 Harmon Killebrew’s 259th career home run is his first ever walk-off homer.
1965 Baltimore releases one-time Phillies star pitcher Robin Roberts.
1965 Houston releases former White Sox great Nellie Fox.
1966 Jim Bunning goes 0-for-4 with four Ks, arguably his worst game ever at the plate. He wins, though, 8-1 over Pittsburgh.
1969 According to Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four, Seattle Pilots reliever Bouton takes 10-year-old Marvin Standifer to the bullpen with a warm up jacket and hat. He tells the bullpen coach that the kid has good stuff. That same day, the Pilots acquire veteran pitcher George Brunet from the Angels.
1972 Cleveland tops Milwaukee 1-0, with the only run coming on a walk-off error.
1972 Rollie Hemsley, a catcher for 19 years, dies at age 65.
1972 White Sox star slugger Dick Allen legs out two inside the park home runs in one game. Both come off young Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven. In all the years since, only one other player has had two inside the park homers in one game—and incredibly, Blyleven pitched in that game, too. On Oct. 4, 1986, Blyleven’s Twins teammate Greg Gagne did it.
1974 Veteran pitcher Steve Barber plays in his last game.
1975 Gabe Kapler is born.
1975 Veteran NL outfielder Max Flack dies at age 85.
1975 Giants pitcher John Montefusco (nicknamed The Count of Montefusco—one of the best nicknames of the day) predicts that he’ll shut out the Reds and fan Johnny Bench four times. Instead, he allows seven runs in 1.1 innings.
1979 Sabermetric darling Bobby Grich gets his 1,000th hit.
1979 Longtime shortstop Don Kessinger plays in his last game.
1981 A settlement is reached ending the players’ strike. The first game will be the All-Star game on Aug. 9.
1982 At age 35, Darrell Evans plays his first full game at shortstop. He’d played one inning there before—and that was yesterday.
1987 Eddie Murray hits his 300th home run.
1987 Cleveland trades what’s left of Steve Carlton to Minnesota. He was one of the best pitchers of his generation, but the sad, final seasons of Carlton’s career are among the worst end laps any great player has ever had.
1989 Robin Yount hits his 200th home run.
1990 Nolan Ryan wins his 300th decision, leading the Rangers in an 11-3 win over the Brewers. This gives him a 300-267 career record.
1991 Jack Clark hits three home runs in one game for the Red Sox. The third homer is a walk-off in the 14th inning. It’s his eighth and final career walk-off. It’s also his 18th and final career extra-inning home run. Only Willie Mays has more extra-inning homers than Clark. Who knew Clark had so many extra inning shots?
1991 Montreal trades Ron Darling (whom they’ve had for barely two weeks) to Oakland.
1991 Robin Ventura hits a walk-off home run against Rich Gossage. It’s the second of six walk-off homers for Ventura. His first was 11 days ago. It’s also the 100th loss of Gossage’s career for a 117-100 career record.
1992 Tim Wakefield makes his big league debut. He uncorks three wild pitches in it, the most he ever has in any appearance.
1993 The Reds trade Tim Belcher to the White Sox.
1993 The Royals trade Jon Lieber to the Pirates.
1993 Montreal retires No. 8 for Gary Carter.
1994 Seattle’s all-time cumulative record bottoms out at 388 games under .500 (1,206-1,594).
1995 Detroit trades David Wells to the Reds.
1995 Minnesota trades Kevin Tapani to the Dodgers.
1995 The Mets trade Bret Saberhagen to the Rockies.
1996 Major league baseball suspends Chris Sabo for seven games for using a corked bat.
1996 Milwaukee trades Greg Vaughn to the Padres.
1996 Florida trades reliever David Weathers to the Yankees.
1996 Philadelphia trades pitcher Terry Mulholland to the Mariners.
1997 The White Sox nearly blow a 9-0 lead to the Angels, but hang on to win, 14-12. The two starting pitchers have a combined Game Score of five. That’s not an average, but combined Game Score.
1997 In the South Atlantic League, Jason Lakman fans 16 batters in one game.
1997 They call it the White Flag Trade. The White Sox send Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez and Danny Darwin to the Giants for Keith Foulke, Bob Howry and three others. There is anger in Chicago as the team is still in the division hunt, but Cleveland is about to catch fire anyway, and this does help the Sox down the road.
1998 Colorado trades Ellis Burks to San Francisco.
1998 Troy Glaus makes his big league debut.
1999 Kansas City trades Kevin Appier to Oakland for three guys.
1999 The Reds trade B.J. Ryan and a minor leaguer to the Orioles for Juan Guzman and cash.
2000 St. Louis trades Will Clark to Baltimore, where he’ll end his career.
2000 Tampa trades the legendarily slow working Steve Trachsel to Toronto.
2001 Colorado trades its 1990s ace pitcher, Pedro Astacio, to Houston.
2001 Major league baseball suspends Brewers manager Davey Lopes because a few days earlier he threatened to plunk Padres base runner Rickey Henderson for stealing late in a blow out.
2001 The Pirates trade reliever Mike Williams to Houston.
2001 Pittsburgh trades crafty lefty Terry Mulholland to the Dodgers.
2002 The White Sox send Bob Howry to the Red Sox.
2002 In a five-player trade between the Mets and Padres, San Diego gets Jason Bay.
2002 The Royals’ all-time franchise record hits .500 (2,657-2,657). They’ll fall under it the next day and have been under it ever since.
2003 Alex Rodriguez hits his second career walk-off grand slam.
2003 The Reds trade Aaron Boone to the Yankees, to the eventual horror of Red Sox Nation.
2003 The Yankees trade veteran third baseman Robin Ventura to the Dodgers, with whom he’ll end his career.
2003 The Twins top the Orioles 10-9 in a wild one. They score the game-tying run in the ninth on a miraculous play. On a two-out, two-strike swinging strike three that appears to end the game, the ball gets away from Baltimore’s catcher to become a wild pitch. On the play, Doug Mientkiewicz scores the tying run—from second base. In the 10th, Minnesota gets a game-winning single when a seeing-eye grounder gets through a five-man infield.
2004 The Red Sox, Cubs, Expos and Twins pull off a four player trade. Boston gets Doug Mientkiewicz, Chicago gets Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton, Montreal gets Alex Gonzalez and the Twins get a minor leaguer.
2004 Marquis Grissom appears in his final game.
2004 Jose Lopez, infielder, makes his big league debut. He’ll be an All-Star in 2006 for the Mariners.
2004 The Mets trade pitcher Scott Erickson to Texas.
2004 The Padres trade Ismael Valdez to the Marlins. He was a nice pitcher for a time, but those days are gone.
2005 Detroit sends Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta.
2005 Minnesota releases Bret Boone.
2005 Jason Giambi whumps his 300th home run.
2007 Boston trades starting pitcher Joel Pineiro and cash to St. Louis.
2007 Houston sends Morgan Ensberg to San Diego as part of a conditional deal.
2007 San Diego releases outfielder Jose Cruz Jr.
2008 A White Sox-Twins game in Minnesota is stopped for five minutes. After umps eject Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, fans throw balls on the field, and Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen pulls his players from the field.
2009 Atlanta trades Casey Kotchman to Boston for Adam LaRoche.
2009 Cleveland trades Victor Martinez to Boston.
2009 Washington trades Nick the Stick Johnson to Florida.
2009 San Diego trades Jake Peavy to the White Sox.
2009 Toronto trades Scott Rolen to the Reds.
2010 Carlos Gonzalez hits for the cycle. Oh, and the home run he hits is a walk-off home run.
2010 The Cubs trade starting pitcher Ted Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers.
2010 The Indians trade Kerry Wood to the Yankees.
2010 Houston trades Lance Berkman to the Yankees.
2010 Kansas City trades Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel to the Braves.
2010 Pittsburgh trades Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers.
2011 The Dodgers trade Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals.
2012 The Cubs finally trade starting pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for two minor leaguers. An earlier trade to the Braves had fallen through, and this Rangers deal develops some controversy when it’s reported that Dempster was in the room during the trade phone call, which the Rangers don’t appreciate and the Cubs clarify didn’t happen.
2012 The Phillies trade Hunter Pence to the Giants for prospects.
2012 The Cubs send flailing catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers for a prospect.
2012 The Red Sox trade Scott Podsednik to Arizona in a three-player deal.
2012 The Royals trade Jonathan Broxton to the Red Sox.