Sixty years ago today, Hall of Fame shortstop Lou Boudreau’s career came to an end—and what an end it was!
On Aug. 24, 1952, Boudreau was the 35-year-old player-manager for the Boston Red Sox. In reality, he was just the manager. Though he’d played in 82 games the year before, prior to Aug. 24 he’d appeared in just three games on the year for Boston—and had just two plate appearances. All his games had come in the last month).
So it’s not too surprising that Boudreau was on the bench when the day began against the visiting St. Louis Browns. It was a really close, well-pitched game. Boston took an early 1-0 lead, but the Browns tied it late to send it into extra innings. Heading into the bottom of the 10th, it was still 1-1 when Boudreau’s playing career came to its triumphant conclusion.
The frame began just the way the Red Sox wanted it to, with each of the first three batters reaching base. Thanks to two singles and an error, the bases were loaded with no outs. All Boston had to do was advance the lead runner 90 feet before making three outs to win the game.
Boudreau didn’t come up right away. But one future Hall of Famer did enter the game—the legendary Satchel Paige. Now, Paige was nearing the end of his line, too. Supposedly 46 years old, Paige was still a damn good pitcher. He proved it by striking out the first batter he faced, George Kell (who, like Paige and Boudreau, became a Hall of Famer).
With a great arm on the mound and Cleveland down to two outs, the field general called on himself to take the bat. Enter Lou Boudreau for his 1,646th and final career game. With the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the bottom of the 10th against a great pitcher, this was some nice tension.
And now it was time for Boudreau to end his career in style. Paige wound up and threw his pitch. Boudreau readied himself, and ….. laid down a suicide squeeze sacrifice bunt.
What? Were you expecting me to say Boudreau hit a walk-off grand slam? Sure, that’s a snazzy thing to do, but what Boudreau did is actually rarer. Simply put, there are a lot of walk-off home runs in baseball history. But there are damn few walk-off sacrifice bunts. And a large majority of walk-off sacrifice bunts are actually errors where a runner unexpected scores from first or second.
But this was a pure do-or-die suicide squeeze with a runner on third to end the game. This happens once every few years—that’s it. And Boudreau made it work, driving in the winning run for a 2-1 victory. And he never played again. Why would he? How could he top that as a curtain-closer?
And it happened 60 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
3,000 days since a big league draft that includes the following guys who would be signed: Justin Verlander by Detroit, Homer Bailey by the Reds, Jered Weaver by the Angels, Phil Hughes by the Yankees, Huston Street by the A’s, Dustin Pedroia by Boston, and Hunter Pence by Houston.
4,000 days since 9/11. All games are cancelled due to terrorism.
5,000 days since Arizona signs Erubiel Durazo from Monterrey in the Mexican League.
5,000 days since the Mets sign free agent Rickey Henderson.
7,000 days since Cleveland signs amateur free agent Bartolo Colon.
7,000 days since Roy Campanella dies at age 71.
8,000 days since Dave Winfield hits his third and final pinch-hit home run. Each one came in a different decade.
8,000 days since Greg Minton appears in his last game.
8,000 days since Phil Bradley plays in his last game.
8,000 days since Boston’s Tom Brunansky hits three home runs in one game.
1852 Deacon White, star player in the early days of the NL, is born.
1884 The Cubs purchase star pitcher John Clarkson.
1887 Harry Hooper, Hall of Fame outfielder, is born.
1889 Hank Gowdy, star catcher in the 1910s, is born.
1899 Jimmy Ryan becomes the seventh player in baseball history to join the 100 home run club.
1904 Wee Willie Keeler hits two inside the park home runs in one game.
1906 Jake Weimer of the Reds throws a shortened game, seven-inning no-hitter for a 1-0 win over the Dodgers.
1908 Red Sox ace pitcher Smokey Joe Wood makes his big league debut.
1911 The Dodgers top the Cubs 6-5 in 10 innings with runs scoring in each of the last five half-innings.
1914 Seven batters are hit by pitch in a Tigers-Senators games. Tigers pitcher Hooks Dauss hits three, and four Washington pitchers have one each.
1918 Secretary of War Newton Baker grants an extended draft exemption to players appearing in that year’s World Series.
1919 While in his windup on a rainy afternoon, Indians pitcher Ray Caldwell is struck by lightening He recovers and gets the win, 2-1 over the A’s. It’s his first game with Cleveland, too.
1921 Pat Moran manages his 1,000th game, for a 554-438 record. He could’ve been a Hall of Fame skipper if his liver had held out.
1928 Lou Gehrig’s longest hitting streak peaks at 20 games.
1931 Bill Terry hits an inside-the-park walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th for a 2-1 Giants win over the Cubs.
1935 Hank Leiber of the Giants hits two home runs in one inning versus the Cubs.
1935 Joe Medwick hits his only inside the park home run.
1936 Johnny Mize’s longest hitting streak peaks at 22 straight games.
1938 Minor league pitcher Virgil Trucks fans his 418th batter of the year, the most by any pitcher in any league in the 20th century.
1941 The Dodgers Sym-Phony debuts during a doubleheader with the Cardinals. It’ll become a fixture at Ebbetts Field.
1943 The A’s lose their 20th straight game. Then they win the second game of a doubleheader to end the streak.
1943 Hall of Fame starting pitcher Carl Hubbell appears in his last game.
1945 Bob Feller returns. In his first appearance since Pearl Harbor, 46,477 see him pitch for the Indians in Cleveland. Feller fans 12 to lead the team to a 4-2 win.
1951 Mickey Mantle returns from the minor leagues and plays right field for the Yankees.
1951 Bill Veeck has one of his wilder stunts, having 1,115 fans manage the game for the Browns versus the A’s. One of the fans in that crowd is Connie Mack.
1954 Jack Harshman throws a complete game shutout and belts a home run in a 4-0 White Sox win over the Senators. One of the Senators he faces is Harmon Killebrew, appearing in the starting lineup for just the second time in his career.
1956 Tony Bernazard, crazy second baseman, is born.
1959 Casey Stengel manages his 3,000th game, for a 1,616-1,369 career record.
1959 New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses allocates $150,000 to a preliminary study on building a new stadium in the city.
1960 Cal Ripken Jr. is born.
1961 The Red Sox announce that they won’t pay Jackie Jensen for any games he misses due to his fear of flying.
1961 The Portland Beavers sign ageless wonder Satchel Paige. He’ll post a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings for them.
1962 Dodgers coach Leo Durocher suffers a near fatal reaction to a penicillin injection while in the Polo Grounds clubhouse before a Mets-Dodgers game.
1967 Controversial Phillies slugger Dick Allen puts his right hand through a headlight while pushing his stalled car, and he’ll miss the rest of the year.
1968 Tim Salmon is born.
1969 Hank Aaron homers in the top of the 14th inning, the latest he ever homers in a game.
1971 Ernie Banks belts his 512th home run with the Cubs. It’s his last one.
1971 Luis Tiant suffers through his ninth straight loss. It’s over 23 games (including 15 starts) in which his ERA is 5.25.
1971 Atlanta’s Rico Carty says he suffered permanent damage to his right eye in an altercation with three cops in town.
1972 Carl Yastrzemski, who until now has played only two games at third base ever, plays there today and will spend the rest of the season there.
1973 Red Sox star Reggie Smith calls Boston a racist city and demands a trade.
1974 Davey Lopes steals five bases in one game. Then he’s caught stealing in his sixth attempt.
1975 Lou Brock steals his 800th career base.
1975 Ed Halicki throws a no-hitter in a 6-0 Giants win over the Mets. He fans 10 while walking two.
1975 Davey Lopes’ streak of 38 consecutive successful stolen bases ends when Gary Carter throws him out.
1976 Detroit’s Bill Freehan hits his 200th and final career home run. He has 100 at home, and 100 on the road.
1976 It’s announced that the new Seattle franchise will be nicknamed the Mariners.
1977 Boog Powell plays in his last game.
1977 Rick Honeycutt makes his big league debut.
1979 Vida Blue, who has walked in just one run in the last five-plus years, walks in two runs in the sixth against the Cubs.
1980 Rollie Fingers suffers his 100th career loss for a 99-100 record so far.
1980 Twins manager Gene Mauch resigns after a 3-2 loss to the Tigers. Every manager the Twins have had since then has no big league managerial experience prior to coming to Minnesota.
1981 NL umpires Nick Colosi and Frank Pulli get in a shoving match with a TV crew and break a camera in a Phillies-Braves game. They’ll be fined for this.
1983 In the top of the 10th inning, three Toronto Blue Jay runners are picked off. Then in the bottom of the 10th, they lose on a walk-off homer by Lenn Sakata.
1983 Rickey Henderson steals a base for the 11th straight game, his longest such streak. He’s 20-for-38 with 19 steals and three caught stealings in that span.
1984 Kent Hrbek makes his big league debut.
1985 The Yankees sign amateur free agent Jim Leyritz.
1988 Dennis Eckersley has his worst relief stint ever. His line: 1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, and 1 K in a 7-6 A’s loss to the Yankees.
1989 Bert Blyleven ties a personal best with his 10th straight win.
1989 Pete Rose signs an agreement to be banned from baseball permanently.
1990 The Reds sign Ken Griffey Sr.
1992 Bob Wickman makes his big league debut.
1993 Kevin Reimer of the Brewers gets six hits in a game.
1993 The Padres scored 13 runs in the first inning in a 17-4 win over the Cardinals.
1994 The Yankees sign Cristian Guzman as an amateur free agent.
1995 Ken Griffey Jr. hits the first of five career walk-off home runs.
1997 Sammy Sosa hits his 200th career home run.
1997 Ryne Sandberg enjoys the last of 25 career multi-home run games.
1998 Arizona signs amateur free agent Vicente Padilla.
2000 In a rehab start, Tampa pitcher Tony Saunders breaks his arm throwing a wild pitch.
2001 Former slugger Hank Sauer dies.
2002 Roberto Alomar hits his 200th career home run.
2002 Manny Ramirez gets on base in his 14th consecutive plate appearance, then makes an out to end the streak.
2004 Bud Selig says he doubts big leaguers will ever play in the Olympics, as it’s just too disruptive to the pennant race.
2005 Mets prospect Mike Jacobs hits his fourth career home run in just his fourth career game. It’s all downhill from here for him, though.
2006 Sean Casey grounds out …. to left field . He thinks his line drive is caught by the third baseman, but it goes to left, resulting in the rare 5-7-3 ground out.
2007 The Dodgers sign free agent pitcher David Wells.
2008 An estimated crowd of 347 attends the first game of a Reds-Marlins doubleheader. The official attendance is 22,505, but more are there for game two and plenty just stay home.
2009 Ryan Spilborghs hits a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 14th for a 6-4 Rockies win over the Giants.
2009 One time hot prospect pitcher Adam Eaton appears in his last game.
2010 A marathon Phillies-Astros game has Roy Oswalt playing in left by the 16th inning for Philadelphia. Houston wins, 4-2 in 16 frames.
2010 A skydiver gets stuck on a flagpole at The Ballpark in Arlington during a pregame jump.
2011 Paul Konerko gets his 2,000th career hit.
2011 Longtime Orioles franchise mainstay Mike Flanagan commits suicide.