The 1986 season looked like it might be a historic one for Wade Boggs. He entered the year widely considered the best pure hitter in the game. He’d won batting titles in two of the previous three years—and this was back when batting average was still the undisputed king of how the public gauged a player’s offensive contributions.
But 1986 looked like the year Boggs might do the unthinkable: Attain the long-sought Holy Grail of a .400 batting average. George Brett had threatened to do it in 1980 but fell short, ending at .390. Ted Williams’ .406 in 1941 was still the last time anyone had achieved it.
As June began, Boggs was right there, hitting .404 on June 6. Sure, there was a lot of season left to play, but he’d also hit .402 from June 12 onward in 1985. That made it interesting. That month The Sporting News would run a cover story pondering if Boggs could hit .400 for the year.
Boggs slumped a little bit as June reached its second week, but then a bizarre incident helped derail his hopes: He took off his cowboy boots. Or, more precisely, he tried to take off his cowboy boots.
In a hotel in Toronto on June 9, 1986, Boggs tried to use his foot to pry off the cowboy boot from his other foot, only to have things go rather badly. Instead of losing his boot, he lost his balance and fell ribcage-first into the arm of a couch. Ooph. And just like that, the world-class hitter looked like a Keystone Cop. It would be purely funny, except Boggs felt like he could barely breathe after hitting the couch. He bruised his ribs badly and could barely take a deep breath.
He could only pinch hit in the next game (where he drew a walk). After playing all the next three games (with only two hits), Boggs had to leave a game early on June 15 because his ribs weren’t getting better. By this time, his average was down to .380, and he wound up missing six games. When Boggs finally came back, he wasn’t quite the same and ended the year with a .357 mark, nowhere near .400, but still enough to lead the league.
Injury or no injury, he wasn’t going to hit .400. His average was already down to .389 when he took his tumble, but it came right as talk about his chances to do it peaked. And the injury itself was so weird. That combination made it one of the most memorable baseball injuries of the era.
Here are other baseball events celebrating an anniversary or “day-versary” (an event that took place X-thousand days ago) occurring today. Here are some others, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.
4,000 days since Orel Hershiser plays in his last game
7,000 days since George Brett hit his 600th double
9,000 days since Game One of the 1986 World Series: Boston 1, New York 0. The game’s only run scores on an unearned run.
15,000 days since the New York Mets toss a one-hitter for the second straight game. Gary Gentry did it the day before and Tom Seaver this day. Seaver’s game was arguably the best of his career with a line of 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, and 15 Ks for a 97 Game Score. The only hit came in the third inning.
30,000 days since Tiger pitcher Earl Whitehill allows eight doubles against the Browns. But he wins anyway, 16-9, in part because he also has his best day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a home run, walk, two runs, and three RBIs. On the mound, only four of the 14 hits he allowed were singles. He also walked seven batters and fanned none.
1883 In the primordial NL, the Boston Braves beat the Detroit Wolverines 30-8. Detroit actually led 5-2 early in the game.
1884 Billy Sunday homers for the third time in three games. He’ll end the season with four home runs.
1887 Indianapolis (NL) pitcher John Kirby walks 13 batters in one game.
1888 Henry Porter, who threw a no-hitter in his most recent start, allows 17 hits today in a 12-4 loss.
1888 New York Giants walk on the field with white plug hats and swallow-tail linen dusters to mock the appearance of the opposing Chicago Cubs. Uh, okay.
1889 Brooklyn Dodgers steal 11 bases in one game.
1893 Jim O’Rourke hits an inside-the-park home run at age 42 years and nine months, making him the oldest person ever to do it.
1898 Jack Stivetts, normally a pitcher, hits a walk-off grand slam as a pinch hitter for a 6-5 win for the Boston Braves over the Cincinnati Reds.
1901 Giants win in forfeit when Cincinnati fans swarm the field in the ninth with their team losing 25-13.
1901 Hall of Fame fireballer Amos Rusie last appears in an MLB game.
1903 Pirate pitchers allows a run after 56 scoreless innings by the staff.
1906 Boston Braves end 19-game losing streak.
1906 Phillies try to stall a game so badly and blatantly that umpire Bill Klem forfeits it to the Pirates.
1907 Minor leaguer Walter Johnson tosses a perfect game for Weiser (Idaho) over Emmett, fanning 14 in the process. This gets the attention of the Washington Senators.
1909 Benjamin Shibe obtains the patent for a cork-centered baseball.
1913 Beals Becker hits two inside-the-park home runs in one game.
1914 Honus Wagner raps out his 3,000th career hit.
1916 Babe Ruth, then a Red Sox pitcher, has scoreless inning streak snapped at 25 innings.
1919 Future Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard breaks his leg while stumbling on the bases.
1927 Eddie Collins steals his last base.
1928 Outfielder Charlie Jamieson starts his second triple play in three weeks. That’s impressive for a shortstop, but its damn near impossible for an outfielder.
1931 Bill Virdon, manager, born.
1932 Mel Ott homers twice in one game for the second time in three contests.
1934 Lefty Grove, Red Sox, allows five straight doubles.
1934 Mel Ott homers twice in one game for the second time in three contests. Not an accidental double entry: he did it 1932 as noted above, and then exactly two years later in 1934.
1945 Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher arrested on a fan complaint that Durocher punched him with brass knuckles and broke his jaw. The charge will be resolved in Durocher’s favor.
1946 The normally mild-manned Mel Ott (he’s the guy Leo Durocher referred to when he said “Nice guys finish last”) becomes the first manager ever ejected from both ends of a doubleheader.
1949 Phillies 4, Pirates 3 (18) in game that is very symmetrical. Both teams have 16 hits in 68 at bats with 21 assists and three errors.
1951 Dave Parker born
1952 St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck Jr. fires manager Rogers Hornsby. Given that Veeck’s father (and former Cub GM) fired Hornsby as manager in Chicago a generation before, Hornsby can claim to be the only manager fired by two generations of the same family.
1954 Warren Spahn walks a career-high nine batters in one game. He also allowed 11 hits, for a career-most 20 base runners. Milwaukee loses, 4-0.
1957 Ernie Banks hits his 100th home run.
1961 Ryne Duren fans seven straight hitters.
1961 In what I can only assume was a windy day at Wrigley Field, the Cubs defeated the Braves 11-10. It wasn’t easy, though, as the Cubs blew an early 6-0 lead only to have Milwaukee rally to tie it 6-6 by the middle of the eighth inning. Chicago scored three in the bottom eighth to take a 9-6 lead, only to cough it up by surrendering four runs in the top of the ninth. Now Atlanta had its first lead: 10-9. I hope they enjoyed it while it lasted, because a pair of Chicago runs in the bottom of the ninth gave the Cubs the win.
1962 Stan Musial collects his 700th double.
1962 Cleveland signs amateur free agent Lou Piniella. He’ll stick around baseball for quite some time, albeit not with the Indians.
1963 Some jerk at Wrigley Field bombards outfielder Frank Howard with confetti in the middle of a play. The umpires somehow don’t notice it and let the play stand.
1963 MLB debut: Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.
1963 Reds lead 7-2 over the Phillies entering the ninth inning, but lose 10-7 in 10 innings.
1964 Ernie Banks draws a bases-loaded base on balls for the first time in nearly five years. He’ll only do it once more in his career.
1964 Larry Bearnarth becomes the last Met to toss nine or more innings in relief. At 10 innings, it’s the longest relief stint in franchise history.
1966 Minnesota Twins hit five home runs in the seventh inning and nearly get a sixth when a Jimmie Hall shot hits the top of the wall. Rich Rollins, Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher, and Harmon Killebrew all hit it a little further that inning.
1967 A’s purchase Ken Harrelson from the Senators.
1967 MLB debut: Reggie Jackson.
1968 President Johnson declares this to be a day of national mourning due to the death of Robert Kennedy. Reds players vote not to play a doubleheader with the Cardinals. When the team then asks for volunteers to play, nine guys do decide to do so, and then the rest of the team follows along, so the game does take place.
1969 Mickey Lolich fans 16, tying his personal high (set earlier this year) and also the Detroit franchise record. He’s still the only Tiger to fan 16 in one game.
1972 Gene Mauch loses his 1,000th game as manager (862-1,000)
1972 Former big leaguer Del Bissonette commits suicide at age 72.
1973 Carl Yastrzemski gets his 2,000th hit.
1973 Mets retire the number of their late manager, Gil Hodges.
1974 Dick Allen clubs his 300th home run.
1974 The Dodgers set a record by drawing their 1,000,000th fan in only 27 games. The 1948 Indians had done it in 28 games.
1975 Gary Carter has possibly his worst day at the plate: 0-for-4 with four Ks. It’s his only four-strikeout game.
1977 Carl Yastrzemski hits his 500th double.
1977 Cubs 1, Giants 0 (11) game ends on walk-off error. The bottom of the 11th: 2B, SH, IBB, IBB, E.
1978 Tommy John ties his personal worst with a Game Score of 4. His line: 3.1 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Dodgers lose 10-9 to Expos.
1979 Willie McCovey notches his 16th and final pinch-hit home run.
1979 Alan Trammell plays his 133rd consecutive game without a home run. Finally gets one next time.
1979 Charlie Manuel gets his jaw broken in seven places by brush back pitch while playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
1979 Tom Seaver retires the last 24 batters in a three-hitter.
1979 Willie Wilson hits a walk-off, inside-the-park home run.
1980 Mike Schmidt collects his 1,000th hit. It took him 1,133 games.
1980 Reds-Padres game called at 2:30 a.m. with score tied 6-6. There were three rain delays, and the Reds scored four in the ninth to tie it.
1982 Steve Carlton fans 16 Cubs in one game.
1983 Yankees release pitcher Rick Reuschel, who will get a very nice second wind in a few years.
1984 Gary Carter hits his 200th career home run in second game of doubleheader. He also got No. 199 in the first game.
1984 Greg Luzinski hits a grand slam for the second straight game, becoming the 10th person ever to do so.
1986 A. Bartlett Giamatti elected NL President.
1989 Tracy Jones record 7 RBIs despite zero extra-base hits. This is one of only three times that’s happened since 1920 (and the only time since 1930) and might be the overall record for most RBIs in a game without an extra-base hit. He went 4-for-5 on the day.
1991 Orel Hershiser wins his 100th game. He’s 100-66.
1993 Padres named 29-year-old Randy Smith their GM, becoming youngest in history
1995 Zoilo Versalles, former AL MVP, dies.
1996 Frank Thomas hits 200th home run.
1997 Thornton Lee, a pitcher who received a first-place vote for AL MVP in 1941, dies. (That MVP vote factoid is pretty bizarre when you realize what Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams did that year).
1999 Guillermo Mota hits a home run in what turns out to be his only at-bat of the season. It’s only the third time that’s ever happened.
1999 Fake Mustache Night in the New York Mets dugout. Bobby Valentine, ejected by the umps, sticks on his lip some of those eye black patches players use under their eyes and goes back to the dugout. Mets beat the Blue Jays 4-3 in 14 innings.
1999 MLB debut: Jacque Jones.
2000 Greg Maddux walks the first batter of the game, something he avoided in his previous 270 starts. (He last did it 9-5-93).
2008 Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 600th home run.
2010 Carlos Lee hits his third extra-inning grand slam, a new MLB record.
2010 Dodgers cumulative franchise record hits 950 games over .500, still their all-time best (10,091-9,141). Prior to action on Wednesday, they’ve played 73-91 since then.