60 years ago today, Warren Spahn—one of the greatest pitchers in baseball—had one of the greatest games of his career. It’s just a damn shame he lost. No, it’s not Spahn’s legendary duel with Juan Marichal. That happened over a decade later. But this one was one Spahn’s longest games, and one in which he tied a Braves franchise record for strikeouts in a game—18.
On June 14, 1952, Warren Spahn took the hill against the Cubs and their pitcher Willie Ramsdell. Thinks got off to a nice start for Spahn, as he fanned four of the first batters he faced. From there, Spahn stopped blowing every away, but he kept getting them out.
It was a scoreless game through five innings, but the Braves took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a solo home run by Warren Spahn himself. It was the first Braves hit since a triple by George Crowe with two outs in the first. Pitchers were dominating the day, so it makes since that the big blast would be from the bat of the better pitcher, Spahn.
Through eight innings, Spahn made the lead hold up. He’d allowed five hits—two doubles and three singles—but not a single runner had advanced a single base yet against him. He also had eight strikeouts and zero walks. The game seemed to be well in hand.
However, that sense of confidence didn’t last long. In the top of the ninth, leadoff batter Bill Serena belted a game-tying home run off of Spahn. Though Spahn allowed a single later that inning—the first time he allowed more than one guy to reach base on him one frame—he got out of the it without further damage, thanks in part to strikeouts No. 9 and 10.
As extra innings began, Spahn appeared to be tiring. After allowing two hits and a run in the ninth, Spahn allowed a leadoff double in the 10th. When the next batter sacrificed the runner to third, the potential winning run stood 90 feet from the plate. Spahn got the next two outs to get out of the jam—with the last out coming on another K.
Getting out of that jam gave Spahn his second wind. In the next four innings, he allowed just one hit. Things were looking good as the game entered the 15th and the bottom of the Cub order due up.
After getting the first batter out, Spahn walked Smalley, the first walk he’d allowed all day. After the next batter—Cub reliever Johnny Klippstein—advance the man to second on a bunt, Spahn issued an intentional walk to help set up the double play.
Then came the big moment. Hal Jeffcoat came to the plate for the Cubs and promptly lashed up a triple that brought home two runs. Though Spahn struck out the next batter—No. 18 on the day —it was too late.
The Boston Braves once again couldn’t do it. There was one moment of interest. With a runner on first, 20-year-old third baseman Eddie Mathews mashed one deep to center. But instead of going over the wall for the rookie’s 10th career homer, it was caught for an out.
The Cub pitching tandem of Ramsdell and Klippstein hadn’t been as dominating as Spahn. They struck out only a half-dozen on the day. But they kept getting outs. They allowed four hits on the day. Ramsdell allowed his two extra-base hits, and Klippstein just two singles. In the last nine innings, the Braves never even got past first base
So Spahn had tied a team record with 18 Ks in one game, but he lost the game anyway on Jun 14, 1952.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you feel like skimming.
1,000 days since Ichiro Suzuki hits the only walk-off home run of his North American career. He smacks a two-run homer with two outs against Mariano Rivera for a 3-2 Mariners victory over the Yankees. In all, Ichiro is 4-for-5 with a caught steal on the day. It gives Ichiro his all-time best one-game WPA of 0.802.
2,000 days since the White Sox trade Brendan McCarthy and a minor leaguer to the Rangers for John Danks and two others.
4,000 days since Chipper Jones scores five runs in five plate appearances. He homers twice, draws a walk, has a double, a single.
4,000 days since Roberto Alomar enjoys his only five-hit game.
5,000 days since Mark Belanger dies.
7,000 days since Sparky Anderson wins his 2,000th game as manager. He’s 2,000-1,615 as a skipper.
7,000 days since Andre Dawson swats his 400th home run.
7,000 days since a Pirate win pushes Jim Leyland to 57 games over .500 (599-542), which is his all-time peak.
20,000 days since Jim Bunning homers and tosses a complete game shutout over Washington.
20,000 days since Dizzy Trout plays in his last game.
30,000 days since Harry Heilmann gets his 500th double.
30,000 days since Bud Clancy plays a full game at first base for the White Sox against the Browns without any putouts or assists.
1861 Charlie Buffinton, 19th century 200 game winning pitcher, is born.
1870 The Cincinnati Red Stockings’ winning streak ends 8-7 to the Brooklyn Atlantics before over 12,000 people.
1884 Boston Braves pitcher Jim Whitney fans 18 Cubs in one game.
1918 Gavvy Cravath dings his 100th career home run, which is a lot for back then.
1919 The New York Giants sign amateur free agent Frankie Frisch. Good move.
1921 Babe Ruth homers twice. It’s the second straight game he’s don’t that, and the fifth consecutive game he’s homered in.
1921 George Sisler suffers through what might be his worst game ever, going 0-for-6 with a pair of Ks, which ties his personal one game strikeout total.
1923 Hall of Fame starting pitcher Stan Coveleski suffers his 100th loss, for a 154-100 career record.
1924 George Kelly belts three homers in a game for the second time in his career. He’s the first person to do it twice. In all, he’s 4-for-4 with eight RBIs and a walk, guiding the Giants to a 8-6 win over the Reds. Yes, he drove in all of the team’s runs.
1924 Rogers Hornsby suffers through his worst game at the plate, going 0-for-4 with three Ks. He’ll end the year batting .424 anyway, with just 32 strikeouts in 642 PA.
1926 Great Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe is born.
1929 Yankee centerfielder Earle Combs legs out an inside the park home run for the second consecutive day.
1929 Red Ruffing loses another one, dropping his record on the season to 0-12. Including last year, the Red Sox hurler is on a 13 game skid. In that stretch, here are his numbers: 0-13, 14 G, 12 GS, 8 CG, 97 IP, 119 H, 72 H, 58 ER, 53 BB, 45 K, and a 5.38 ERA.
1930 Chuck Klein, who is hit by pitch or 12 or 13 times in his career, gets plunked in both ends of a doubleheader. (His career stats say 12 plunks, by a Play Index search lists 13 games he got hit in).
1930 Pie Traynor gets a personal best seven RBIs in a game—which is amazing because he has no extra base hits on the day. It ties the post-1920 record (and perhaps overall record) for most RBIs without an extra base hit. He’s 3-for-5 with a sacrifice hit and strikeout as the Pirates beat up the Phillies, 19-12.
1932 The Yankees top the Indians, 7-6, thanks to a triple steal with Ben Chapman swiping home plate.
1932 Pitcher Rip Sewell makes his big league debut. He’ll toss a handful of games with Detroit this year, and then won’t return to the majors until 1938. He’ll end up a very successful pitcher in the talent-depleted WWII years, with a pair of 20-win seasons for the Pirates. He’ll also have the best winning percentage in the NL in 1948.
1934 The Phillies purchase third baseman Bucky Walters from the Red Sox. Philadelphia will convert him to a pitcher, where he’ll become a star.
1939 The Indians trade Hall of Famer Earl Averill to the Tigers.
1940 Boston trades future Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez to the Pirates.
1942 Bucky Walters loses his 100th game, giving him a record of 123-100.
1942 Joe Gordon’s best hitting streak peaks at 29 games. He’s 48-for-112 with a AVG/OBP/SLG of .429/.471/.634.
1945 The Phillies release 200 game winner Freddie Fitzsimmons.
1946 The White Sox release all-time franchise wins leader Ted Lyons. Well, they release him as a player—he’s still their manager.
1947 Pete Reiser, who nearly died from crashing into a wall last week, is released from the hospital.
1947 The Cubs win, giving them an all-time cumulative franchise record 1,179 games over .500 (5,527-4,348).
1949 Eddie Waitkus is shot by a rifle in Room 1297A of the Edgewater Beach Hotel by a 19-year-old woman.
1950 Cleveland trades Mickey Vernon to the Senators.
1952 The Braves sign Hank Aaron. (I also have this listed occurring on June 11. One of them must be correct).
1953 Bob Buhl, one of the worst hitting pitchers of all-time, goes 3-for-4 at the plate. And he tosses a complete game shutout over the Pirates for the Braves.
1957 The White Sox sign amateur free agent Johnny Callison.
1957 Johnny Roseboro makes his big league debut.
1957 The Phllies sign amateur free agent Chris Short.
1959 Ken Boyer hits his 100th home run, which is an inside the park shot. He has only one other career inside the park home run, and that was 15 days earlier.
1959 Ernie Banks swats his 200th career home run.
1959 Early Wynn, one of the better hitting pitchers, has his only four-hit day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two doubles as the White Sox top the Orioles, 9-6.
1959 Del Ennis plays in his final game.
1961 Don Drysdale has a nice day, belting a home run and tossing a complete game shutout.
1963 Cleveland’s Willie Kirkland belts two extra inning home runs in one game—in the 11th and 19th innings.
1965 Jim Maloney has one of the greatest games to result in a loss. He has a no-hitter after nine innings, but the game is tied, so keeps going on. He allows a hit in the 11th and the Reds end up losing 1-0 to the Mets. Maloney has to settle for a Reds franchise record 18 strikeouts. He walked just one batter, Ed Kranepool in the fourth.
1968 Ken Harrelson hits three home runs in one game for Boston.
1969 Reggie Jackson has a fantastic game, driving in 10 runs (!) on the day. He’s 5-for-6 with a double and two homers. His two singles both come with the bases loaded and drive in a pair of runs each. It’s the only five hit game of his career and (obviously) his personal best in RBIs. He could’ve had even more RBIs, too—his only out was a bases loaded strikeout. The A’s destroy the Red Sox, 21-7.
1971 Jim Perry fans a personal best 11 batters in one game.
1971 Joe Morgan receives a walk-off walk for a 5-4 Astros win over the Pirates.
1974 It’s one of the most amazing pitching duels of all-time as Luis Tiant and Nolan Ryan go into overtime against each other. Tiant pitches 14.1 IP, the longest start of his career, only to get stuck with the loss as the Angels top the Red Sox, 4-3. Ryan pitches “only” 13 innings but fans 19 and walks 10 in the process. It’s the first of four times he fans 19 in a game in 1974. It’s Tiant’s ninth consecutive complete game, his personal best. It’s also the last time any starting pitcher has gone over 14 IP in a game.
1975 Johnny Bench enjoys the only 5-for-5 game of his career (though he has a 5-for-6 game also).
1976 Hank Aaron finally has a moment against Frank Tanana. In his 18th plate appearance against the fastballer, Aaron gets his first hit – which is a home run. It will be the only hit Aaron gets against Tanana in 19 PA, the most PA he has against a pitcher with just one hit. Also, this makes Tanana half the answer to a great trivia question, as he and Rick Reuschel are the only pitchers to surrender home runs to Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron.
1977 The Yankees sign amateur free agent Jeff Reardon.
1978 Davey Concepcion gets his 1,000th career hit.
1978 Pete Rose begins his 44 game hitting streak.
1978 Vida Blue walks the game’s first batter, something he last previously did on Aug. 14, 1974, 138 starts earlier.
1980 Phil Niekro loses his 200th decision. His record 223-200. The 41-year-old will go 95-74 from here on out.
1985 Bert Blyleven gets his 200th win, for a record of 200-173.
1986 Here’s a weird one the A’s top the Rangers 3-2 despite getting just three hits – all of which are singles. That’s tough to do. In the second inning, Oakland get their first run on a leadoff walk, a pair of runner-advancing groundouts, and a single. Their big inning is the sixth, when the following happens: lead-off walk, stolen base, strikeout, RBI single—and advancement to second on throw home, intentional walk, flyout, and then back-to-back wild pitches to score the other run.
1987 Hall of Fame skipper Dick Williams becomes the 13th manager to win 1,500 games. His record is 1,500-1,366.
1987 Mike Schmidt gets his 2,000th career hit. He does it in style too, as it’ a three home run game for him.
1988 For the second and final time in his career, Rafael Palmeiro plays centerfield.
1989 Hall of Fame Negro League third baseman Judy Johnson dies. Among the initial batch of Negro League Hall of Famers, he had the most questionable case for induction.
1990 The NL announces that it will expand to 14 teams in 1993.
1991 The Dodgers sign amateur free agent Ismael Valdez.
1991 The original Expos owners announce the sale of the team to a company headed by Claude R. Brochu.
1994 In negotiations with the players’ union, baseball owners propose an even 50/50 split of money with a salary cap, an end to arbitration, and lowering free agent eligibility from six to four years. There are quite a few things here that players will not like, and the owners know it. A strike is coming.
1995 Manny Ramirez steals two bases in one game, the only time he ever does that.
1995 Mike Benjamin, of all people, goes 6-for-7 in order to set a new record with 14 hits in his last three games. He’s 14-for-18 in that span.
1996 Cal Ripken plays in his 2,216th consecutive game, breaking the record by Japanese iron man Sachio Kinugasa.
1996 Jeff Bagwell nails four doubles in one game. It’s the only time he has more than two in one contest.
1996 Darin Erstad makes his big league debut.
2001 Wally Joyner appears in his final game.
2005 Ichiro Suzuki gets his 1,000th hit in the North American major leagues. It took him just 696 games. He, Chuck Klein, and Lloyd Waner are the only guys since 1900 to reach this level in under 700 games.
2006 Steve Finley crushes his 300th career home run.
2006 Matt Clement plays in his last game.
2010 A 5.9 earthquake interrupts a Toronto-San Diego game at Petco Park in the eighth inning. There’s no damage, so the game resumes.
2010 For the first time since 1942, a game features two players with over 5,000 at bats and batting averages over .330 when Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols play against each other in a Mariners-Cardinals game. It last happened when Joe Medwick and Paul Waner appeared in a game against each other.
2010 Jeff Suppan is signed as a free agent by the Cardinals.