Fifty years ago today, the Cleveland Indians swept a doubleheader from the Kansas City A’s, winning 7-3 and 4-3, respectively. In and of itself, that wasn’t terribly significant. After all, the A’s were awful, and Cleveland had swept a pair of doubleheaders against them the year before.
But this one had a lasting importance for Cleveland as it put the franchise’s all-time cumulative record 568 games over .500 (4,866-4,298), a mark they have never exceeded. They did tie that mark two games later on June 13, but a miniscule edge in winning percentage goes to June 11 for the franchise all-time peak.
The Indians had been a generally good, if rarely great, team in their first 60 years of existence. They only won two world titles and three pennants, but they also came in last place only once in that span. The team reached a high water mark in the post-WWII era behind pitchers like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Mike Garcia as well as position players Lou Boudreau and Larry Doby. It makes sense their franchise record reached a new height by 1961.
And it also makes sense that it began declining around 1961. At then end of the June 11 doubleheader, they were 37-19 and in first place in the AL. They went 41-65 the rest of the way and remained a middling team for much of the rest of the 1960s. By the end of the decade, they fell apart completely. They turned into a joke of a franchise, which is one reason they became the club used in the movie Major League.
By June 1993, almost exactly 32 years after their peak, the Indians fell 14 games under .500 on the year, knocking their cumulative franchise record to only 161 games over .500. They’d blown over seven-tenths of their legacy.
Of course, then the Indians got good again. Really good. And stayed that way for the rest of the 1990s. The 21st century hasn’t been as favorable to them, but prior to Friday’s game they still stood well over .500: 332 games to be exact. That’s still well short of their 1961 pinnacle, but at least it’s far above their 1993 bottoming out.
Aside from that, here are some other events celebrating their anniversaries and “day-versaries” (which is an event that happened X-thousand days ago) today:
1,000 days since the A’s traded Mark Kotsay to the Braves.
8,000 days since relief pitcher Kent Tekulve played in his last game
10,000 days since Scott Kazmir, pitcher, born.
15,000 days since Hank Aaron got his 3,000th career hit. He’s the sixth member of the club.
20,000 days since Ralph Branca last played in major league baseball.
1879 Roger Bresnahan, Hall of Fame catcher, born.
1894 Braves top Cubs 15-14 in one wild game. Boston led 13-7 after eight innings, but Chicago scored seven to take the lead, then allowed two to blow the game.
1904 Bob Wicker of the Cubs tosses a no-hitter against the Giants for nine innings, but the game goes into extra frames. He wins 1-0 after 12 innings, but a single by Sam Mertes in the 10th broke up the no-hitter. It’s the second time in his career Sam Metes has broken up a no-hitter in extra innings.
1906 Braves third baseman Dave Brian commits five errors in a nine-inning game. His teammates commit an additional half-dozen.
1909 Boston defeats the Cubs, the only time all year that happens. Chicago will end the year 21-1 against the Braves in 1909.
1915 One day after they locked hours in a 14-inning, 2-2 tie, Cincinnati and Brooklyn play an even longer game on this today. The Reds won 1-0 in 15 innings, behind the complete game shutout of Rube Benton.
1915 Ray Caldwell, Yankees, hits a pinch-hit home run for the second straight day. He’s a pitcher.
1918 Pitchers duel: Pittsburgh’s Roy Sanders and Boston’s Bunny Hearn both go the distance in a 3-2 Pirate win in 16 innings. The tying run scored on a bases loaded squeeze play. Boston managed only one hit in the final eight innings.
1924 Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes gets his 100th career loss, 124-100.
1927 The Philadelphia A’s field one of the most impressive lineups of all-time: Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, Zack Wheat, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Cochrane all play for Connie Mack in a game they lose 5-4 to Detroit.
1927 The Dodgers spoil Paul Waner Day by beating the Pirates, 11-10.
1937 The White Sox host Zeke Bonura Day for the popular, poor-fielding player. He’s given a car. In the game, he drove in five runs off a homer, two doubles, and a single.
1938 Johnny Vander Meer tosses his first career no-hitter. He’ll get another one very soon. Reds 3, Braves 0.
1938 Cardinal outfielder Terry Moore gets a concussion by running into the wall at Sportsman’s Park.
1944 Chuck Klein last appears in a major league game.
1950 Stan Musial hits two triples in one game.
1950 MLB debut: Vern Law, Pirate pitcher
1952 Boston Braves make a deal for Hank Aaron after the teen had played one month with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues.
1952 After drawing a walk from Satchel Paige in the bottom of the ninth, Red Sox Jimmy Piersall mocks the hurler. He mimics Paige’s pitching motion, then mimes a seal and a pig.
1954 Al Kaline’s second career home run is his first grand slam. He’ll hit only two more grand slams in his career. It ends a streak of over 180 straight plate appearances without a home run for him.
1961 Norm Cash becomes the first Tiger to hit a fair ball over the right field roof at Tiger Stadium.
1962 Tito Francona pulls off a sneaky play: He shouts “Hold it!” while the pitcher was in mid-motion, as if time was called. But time hadn’t been called, and since the pitcher didn’t throw the ball and none of the umpires heard Francona, it’s a balk.
1965 Johnny Callison hits a walk-off, inside-the-park home run.
1966 Ernie Banks hits three triples in one game.
1967 Hank Aaron steals three bases in one game for the second and final time in his career.
1967 Chicago Cub Adolfo Phillips hits three home runs in one game and four in a doubleheader.
1967 Don Pavletich hits a walk-off grand slam for an 8-4 Reds win over Houston
1971 Billy Williams finally takes the day off after appearing in over 1,000 consecutive games.
1976 Billy Martin manages his 1,000th game (543-456).
1976 Frank Robinson hits his 12th and final walk-off home run. No one has ever hit a 13th regular season walk-off home run. It’s also Robinson’s only pinch-hit, walk-off home run.
1976 Jim Konstancy, MVP of 1950 and one of the early prominent relievers, dies
1977 Greg Luzinksi hits a grand slam and a bases-clearing double in one game for the Phillies.
1978 Tony Perez notches his 2,000th hit.
1978 MLB debut: Mike Morgan, back when he was just a teen.
1978 Steve Carlton allows three triples in one game.
1980 J.R. Richard pitches his third consecutive shutout for Houston.
1981 A ninth-inning double raises George Brett’s career batting average to it’s all-time high: .319248 (1,307/4,094).
1981 STRIKE: MLB players go on strike at the conclusion of today’s games.
1982 Gaylord Perry pitches 10 innings in one game, the fortieth and final time he pitches more than nine innings, the most by any pitcher since Walter Johnson.
1982 Jerry Reuss retires 27 consecutive batters, but it comes after allowing a double to the game’s leadoff hitter, as he leads the Dodgers to an 11-1 win over the Reds.
1983 Bobby Murcer plays his last game.
1985 Philadelphia Charles Hudson posts the worst game score for any starting pitcher in the 1980s who won the game: 5 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K for a Game Score of 18. The Phillies beat the Mets, 26-7. At one point in the game, Philadelphia’s Von Hayes homers twice in one inning.
1986 The California Angels nearly blow a big lead against the White Sox. Entering the bottom of the ninth at Comiskey, the Sox trailed 12-6. Then this occurs: Double, fly out, home run, walk, single, home run, hit by pitch—and then two more outs. The Sox scored five runs and had the tying run on with still only one out.
1986 Charlie Hough pitches 13 innings for Texas. No starter has lasted beyond 11.2 IP since then. It’s also the last time a starting pitcher had a WPA over 1.000.
1988 Rick Rhoden, Yankees, becomes the first pitcher penciled in as DH since the creation of the designated hitter rule.
1990 Nolan Ryan tosses his sixth no-hitter and becomes the oldest pitcher ever to throw one. He fans 14 and walks a pair as Texas defeats the A’s, 5-0.
1991 Mark Portugal becomes the last Astros pitcher to go over nine innings by pitching 10.
1992 MLB owners vote 25-1 to allow the Nintendo president to purchase the Mariners.
1993 NYY-MIL game interrupted when 100 seagulls swoop onto the field at County Stadium.
1993 The Blue Jays trade Tony Fernandez to the Mets.
1993 Dave Stevens of the Twins becomes the third pitcher in history to toss three gopher balls without recording a single out.
1995 Mark McGwire hits three homers in one game, giving him five over the last two.
1995 MLB debut: Phil Nevin
1995 Rondell White collects six hits and hits for the cycle in Montreal’s 10-8 win over the Giants in 13 innings. San Francisco scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie it, 8-8.
1996 Julio Franco gets his 2,000th hit.
1997 A fifth inning single gives Paul Molitor his best career batting average: .308332 (3,075/9,973). It’s very rare for a player’s batting average to peak after he’s gotten 3,000 hits.
1999 Milwaukee retires Paul Molitor’s number.
2000 Mike Bordick hits the 10,000th home run in Browns/Orioles franchise history.
2002 Pirates fire GM Cam Bonifray.
2002 Albert Pujols hits his second career grand slam.
2002 Jared Sandberg hits two home runs in one inning for Tampa Bay.
2003 New York Yankees no-hit for the first time in about a half-century. The Astros do it, mostly their bullpen. Roy Oswalt (1 IP) has to leave early, so Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner keep the Yanks hitless.
2004 Rey Sanchez hits a walk-off, inside-the-park home run.
2005 A Cub victory gives manager Dusty Baker a career record 161 games over .500 (1,050-889), his all-time peak.
2005 Marlon Anderson hits a pinch-hit, game-tying, inside-the-park home run in the ninth inning for the Mets, but they lose to the Angels in 10 anyway.
2006 Ivan Rodriguez homers on the tenth pitch of an at-bat, his longest battle to result in a home run. It was only a 2-2 count when he homered, too.
2006 Edgar Alfonzo plays his final game
2007 Raul Ibanez hits two homers, a triple and a double, but never gets that single to complete the cycle.
2008 Esteban Loaiza pitches for the final time.
2009 The Rangers sign Orlando Hernandez.
2010 Jamie Moyer has the second-worst Game Score of his career: -1. His line: 1 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He also allowed six doubles in that mess.