Twenty-five years ago today, a rookie with a nice future ahead of him made his big league debut: Rafael Palmeiro.
He was one of several rookies with nice careers ahead of him to begin in 1986. Aside from Palmeiro, the baseball world had already welcomed Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux. Impressive, no? Yeah, well that’s just the guys who debuted on the Cubs. After 1988, Chicago traded Palmeiro and Moyer to Texas for Mitch Williams. Well, at least they got something in return for him, unlike Maddux, whom they let walk away.
In his first at-bat, Palmeiro grounded out to short against the lesser Maddux, Greg’s brother, Mike. Later on, he recorded the first of his 3,020 hits with a single that drove in the first of his 1,835 RBIs.
Palmeiro’s career really took off after the Williams trade, and it’s worth pondering how his career would be different without his time in Texas. As is well known now, that’s where he teamed with Jose Canseco, and the veteran teammate introduced Palmeiro to the wonderful world of steroids.
When Canseco first alleged that Palmeiro juiced up, defenders could make a reasonable counter-argument. Palmeiro showed serious doubles power as a player in his early 20s, so it’s natural for that to develop into home run power as he aged and acclimated to the game. He achieved gaudy hitting stats because he aged so well rather than had a historic spike. Then Palmeiro flunked his drug test, and his defenders suddenly became much less common.
Still, this is a man who hit over 560 homers. That ain’t all steroids. In fact, he was transferring his doubles power to homers before Canseco showed up, bashing 26 homers in 1991 (when Canseco still played in Oakland). Palmeiro did do a great job maintaining himself and certainly aged better than Canseco did. Had Palmeiro not been a Ranger, he should have developed into a good power hitter and accrued nice counting stats with his impressive consistency.
All that’s conjecture, of course. Regardless of whatever happened in Texas and the bumpy road his career and image have taken in the years since then, a quarter-century ago in 1986, Palmeiro first stood on the field in a major league ballgame. He would make it into 2,343 more before he was done.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversaries or “day-versaries” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here some are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
3,000 days since Ruben Sierra records his 2,000th hit.
4,000 days since Derek Jeter records his 1,000th hit.
6,000 days since the Indians sign free agent Dave Winfield.
6,000 days since the Expos trade John Wetteland to the Yankees.
6,000 days since the Royals trade Brian McRae to the Cubs.
7,000 days since the Rangers fire manager Bobby Valentine.
15,000 days since Pete Rose experiences perhaps his worst game ever, going 0-for-7 with five Ks. He grounds out in his first two times up, then fans five times in a row. It’s his worst WPA game: -0.437 WPA. But the Reds win, 5-4, over the Phillies in 14 innings.
30,000 days since Hall of Famer Goose Goslin belts his 100th career home run, in the process becoming the first person to hit 100 homers for the Senators.
30,000 days since Hack Wilson’s longest hitting streak peaks at 27 games. He’s 42-for-107 with three doubles and nine homers for a .393/.458/.673 AVG/OBP/SLG and an OPS of 1131.
1894 John Anderson makes his major league debut.
1897 Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell makes his big league debut.
1897 The Phillies purchase shortstop Kid Elberfeld, a.k.a. “The Tabasco Kid.”
1905 The Pirates leave 18 runners on base in an 8-3 loss to Reds.
1907 Hall of Famer manager Bill McKechnie makes his playing debut in the big leagues.
1907 Heinie Zimmerman makes his big league debut.
1915 Longtime Pirates manager Fred Clarke resigns.
1915 The A’s get only one hit, but it’s enough to defeat the Red Sox, 1-0. In the second game of the doubleheader, Boston draws 12 walks to win, 13-2.
1916 Jim Bagby, Jr. is born.
1916 The smallest crowd in American League history, 23 fans, sees Wally Schang of the Philadelphia A’s become the first player to homer from both sides of the plate in one game. No one does it again for 20 years.
1917 St. Louis Browns owner Phil Ball accuses his players of laying down on the job due to their dislike of manager Fielder Jones.
1922 Detroit first baseman Lu Blue has two unassisted double play in a game against the Senators.
1925 Babe Ruth belts his 300th home run.
1925 Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes sets a personal high with four RBIs in a game by going 2-for-5. The Dodgers beat the Phillies, 4-3, so Grimes drove in all his team’s runs.
1925 Dazzy Vance allows just one base runner, a single by a Phillie who is immediately caught stealing. Dodgers win, 1-0.
1925 Mark Koenig, infielder for the 1927 Murders Row Yankees, makes his big league debut.
1927 For the only time in his career, Lefty Grove steals a base.
1931 31-year-old Bill Harris makes his first big league start in seven years and tosses a complete game shutout. Pirates 3, Reds 0.
1931 Major league debut for pitcher Oral Hildebrand.
1935 Dizzy Dean ties his personal best with a Game Score of 87. His line: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 9 K.
1937 For the sixth and final time in his career, Bobo Newsom walks at least 10 batters in a game. It’s only his 132nd start and he has 351 more to go, but he never does it again.
1940 Joe Gordon hits for the cycle, with a leadoff home run to start the day.
1940 Johnny Mize hits three homers in a game for the third time (of his record six such performances). But his Cardinals lose to the Pirates, 16-14.
1940 Hall of Fame umpire Al Barlick makes his big league debut. He’ll stick around until 1971.
1946 Ken Forsch is born.
1946 Bill Dickey plays his final game.
1947 Cub starting pitcher Ox Miller hits a game-winning grand slam, but doesn’t get the win as he doesn’t last five innings. Cubs 4, Pirates 3.
1951 The Yankees honor their former manager, Joe McCarthy.
1953 The Cubs sign Ernie Banks, thanks to scout Buck O’Neil.
1954 Jackie Robinson plays a game in right field for the only time (at least since 1950).
1954 Warren Spahn sets a career best with his 11th straight win.
1957 It’s the last Giants-Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds. The Giants win, 3-2.
1958 Under pressure from other AL owners, Washington honcho Calvin Griffith tells Minneapolis officials he’s staying in Washington for the time being.
1958 Roberto Clemente legs out three triples in 4-1 Pirates win over the Reds.
1960 Willie Davis makes his big league debut.
1960 The Braves sign amateur free agent Joe Torre. He’ll make his big league debut by the end of the month.
1962 Chris Short, a pitcher with a career batting average of .126, belts four hits off Warren Spahn, but Spahn triumphs with a 3-2 Braves win over the Phillies.
1965 Bert Campaneris of the Kansas City A’s becomes the first player ever to play all nine positions in one game.
1965 Bobby Murcer makes his big league debut.
1967 Lou Brock collects his 1,000th hit.
1967 Ray Fosse makes his big league debut.
1969 Pitcher Mike Corkins makes perhaps the worst major league debut in history. His first pitch becomes a Joe Morgan triple. His second pitch turns into a Jesus Alou triple. His third pitch is a wild pitch that scores a run.
1969 The ump blows the call: In a Mets-Cubs game, he says Tommie Agee is safe at the plate in a game the Mets win, 3-2. Years later Agee will admit he was out, but that’s immaterial. As the game ends, the Cubs’ lead—8.5 games just a month ago—is now 1.5 games. The Mets will keep pouring it on, winning the division by a full eight games over the wilting Cubs.
1971 Cecil Cooper makes his big league debut.
1971 Richie Zisk makes his big league debut.
1972 At the end of the day, White Sox star hitter Dick Allen leads the league in homers, RBIs, and batting average—the Triple Crown stats. It’s the last time he’ll lead the league in all three categories, as his batting average cools off and Minnesota’s Rod Carew heats up. No one else has ever led the league in all three stats in either league so late in the season since Allen.
1972 Royals stud pitching prospect Steve Busby makes his major league debut.
1973 Billy Martin, fired six days ago by Detroit, becomes the new Rangers manager
1974 Former Pirate pitcher Bob Veale plays in his final game.
1974 Lou Brock is hit by a pitch in the first inning by Tom Seaver, ending a streak of 1,957 plate appearances without getting plunked. The last time Brock got hit, it was by Phil Niekro on April 24, 1972.
1974 Sal Bando suffers through his worst game: 0-for-4 with four Ks. He has two other four-K games but had a hit in both of them.
1976 Expos reliever Joe Kerrigan picks up the win in both ends of a doubleheader against the Cardinals. He had never won a game in his career prior to today.
1977 For the second time in three games, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk belts two homers in three days.
1977 Cub relief ace Bruce Sutter fans six straight Expos, including a ninth inning where he retired the side on nine pitches.
1977 On the 46th anniversary of his big league debut, former pitcher Oral Hildebrand dies.
1978 Buddy Bell gets his 1,000th hit.
1978 Gil Meche is born.
1978 Danny Darwin makes his big league debut.
1979 Kirk Gibson makes his big league debut.
1979 A’s rookie Rickey Henderson receives a walk-off walk, the first of two he’ll get in his career.
1980 Bowie Kuhn suspends Rangers pitcher Fergie Jenkins for the remainder of the season. The Players’ Union files a grievance.
1981 Houston’s Cesar Cedeno is fined $5,000 (but not suspended) for attacking a fan in a Braves game.
1981 The Expos fire manager Dick Williams for lack of communication.
1982 Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly makes his big league debut.
1984 Carney Lansford gets his 1,000th hit.
1984 Bobby Grich belts his 200th home run.
1984 Dave Winfield’s best hitting streak peaks at 20 games. He’s 32-for-75 with five doubles, two triples, five homers, and 18 walks. His line: .427/.532/.747 AVG/OBP/SLG.
1985 In a game against the Cubs, Pete Rose collects his 4,191st hit, tying Ty Cobb.
1986 Tim Raines gets his 1,000th hit.
1986 Bob Welch wins his 100th decision. His record: 100-75.
1986 Earl Weaver announces he’s retiring (again) at the end of the season. This time it’ll stick.
1988 The owners elect A. Bartlett Giamatti as their new commissioner.
1988 Tom Gordon makes his big league debut.
1992 Danny Tartabull goes 5-for-5 with two homers, a double, and nine RBIs in a 16-4 Yankee win over the Orioles.
1993 The Orioles release Glenn Davis.
1995 The Tigers trade Juan Samuel to the Royals.
1995 Scott Hatteberg makes his big league debut.
1997 Paul Konerko first plays in the major leagues.
1998 Jeff Bagwell finally connects for his first grand slam. It’s his 218th home run.
1998 Mark McGwire does it, hitting home run No. 62 to set a new single-season record. Cardinals 6, Cubs 3.
1998 Eric Chavez makes his big league debut.
1998 J. D. Drew plays in his first major league game.
1999 Arizona’s Steve Finley hits three home runs in a game for the third time in his career.
2000 It’s a very ugly moment in a Yankee-Red Sox game: Pitcher Bryce Florie is hit in the face with a liner from Ryan Thompson and has to leave the game with blood running down his face. He has a fractured check and a broken orb socket.
2002 The White Sox release Royce Clayton.
2004 Edgar Martinez hits multiple home runs in one game for the 22nd and final time.
2006 The Red Sox release Javy Lopez.
2007 B.J. Upton enjoys the best WPA score by any Tampa hitter in one game: 0.896. He does it on one swing: a pinch-hit, two-run home run for a 5-4 win over the Jays.
2008 Major league baseball has its 250,000th homer of all-time. It’s by Gary Sheffield, whose blast is also his 13th and final career grand slam.