This Week in History: June 18-24
In baseball history, the week of June 18-24 is one of amazing stories.
June 18, 2000, for instance, saw the Rockies’ Mike Lansing hit for the cycle…in just four innings. During Colorado’s 19-2 rout of Arizona, Lansing tripled in the first, homered in the second, doubled in the third, and finished the cycle with a fourth-inning single – becoming the man to achieve the milestone in the shortest game span.
Two years later, the Cubs beat the Rangers 4-3 in the first Major League game to feature four men with 400 home runs. Despite Rafael Palmeiro (460), Sammy Sosa (475), Fred McGriff (459), and Juan Gonzalez (401) all being in the game, the walk-off home run that ended the contest was hit by Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who hit just 137 round-trippers in his 13-year Major League career.
And, speaking of milestone homers, this date in 2005 saw Derek Jeter hit his first career grand slam. The slam came after 136 at-bats and 155 plate appearances for Jeter with the sacks jacked, ending the longest drought among active players without hitting one.
June 19, 1942 saw another Yankee make history, as Joe DiMaggio struck out three times in the Indians’ 5-4 win over the Bombers. The feat was historic because it would mark the only time in 1,787 career games that “Joltin’ Joe” recorded three K’s.
In 1996, the Tampa Bay Rays saw one of their affiliates play the franchise’s first game and hit the first home run…nearly 3000 miles apart. In Florida, the GCL Rays of Rookie-level Gulf Coast League lost 10-1 to the GCL Yankees in the franchise’s first game, and later that day, Jim Kerr of the Pioneer League’s Butte Copper Kings went deep in the Rays’ other rookie-ball squad’s inaugural game.
Three years later, former Negro League star Ted Radcliffe returned to baseball to become the oldest man to ever appear in a pro game. Suiting up for the Northern League’s Schaumburg Flyers, Radcliffe threw one pitch before being replaced, leaving to a standing ovation that was surely music to the 96-year-old’s ears.
And, in 2008, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte made his pro debut, pitching a scoreless ninth inning for the Short-Season Class-A Staten Island Yankees. The appearance included a comical yet frustrating at-bat for Brooklyn Cyclones switch-hitter Ralph Henriquez, who switched batter’s boxes multiple times to optimize his matchup – only to have Venditte switch to the other side as well.
Moving on to June 20, we know that “Bo knows” a lot of things, but on this date in 1986, he learned what it was like to sign a pro baseball contract. On 6/20/86, Vincent Edward Jackson signed to play with the defending World Champion Royals, just a few weeks after spurning the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers – who had taken him No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft that April but refused to let him play two sports.
Also, this date in 1997 saw a bizarre moment of a little brother overshadowing his older sibling. June 20, 1997 marked the date that the Reds first called Aaron Boone up to the big leagues…and the man he replaced on the roster was none other than his brother, Bret.
June 21, 1964 was Father’s Day, and it was quite the day in Phillies history as well. In the second game of a doubleheader with the Mets at Shea Stadium, Philly hurler Rick Wise won the first of his 188 Major League games despite his team committing four errors. But that was quickly forgotten, because hours earlier, in the first game of the twin bill, Jim Bunning had become the first modern pitcher to throw a no-hitter in both leagues…by tossing a Perfect Game.
And speaking of “no hitter,” this date in 1970 was a kind one for Cesar Gutierrez, as the light-hitting shortstop who batted all of .235 in his short MLB career, went 7-for-7 in Detroit’s 9-8 victory over the Twins on 6/21/70. To make the accomplishment even more amazing, his hit total for that game was equal to what his total would be for the entire next season – as he went just 7-for-37 in 38 games in 1971.
June 22, 1936 saw one of the most bizarre home runs in Ebbets Field history. Reds outfielder Ival Goodman hit a fly ball in the fifth inning of that day’s game that lodfed itself in the top of the right field scoreboard – and since that was considered to be in play, he leisurely rounded the bases for an inside-the-park homer as the Dodgers outfielders stood helpless.
This date was also an interesting one for two past Red Sox legends. In 1993, Carlton Fisk caught his 2,226th game to pass Bob Boone as the all-time leader…and then promptly retired the next day. Meanwhile, in 2006, Roger Clemens made his season debut with the Astros, and pitched the first game of his 23rd campaign against the Twins’ Francisco Liriano – who, at 22 years old, was a mere infant when “The Rocket” made his MLB debut.
June 23 once saw one of the most bizarre no-hitters ever thrown. On this date in 1917, Babe Ruth walked the leadoff batter in a start for the Red Sox and was then ejected from the game, leaving Ernie Shore to pick up his slack…by retiring the next 26 consecutive Washington Senators batters. The lone baserunner was caught stealing for the 27th out, leaving Ruth and Shore to split the no-hitter that, at least from Shore’s stats, was nearly perfect.
And, in 1963 – six years before the Moon landing and 20 before the “Moonwalk” – Mets outfielder Jimmy Piersall celebrated his 100th career home run by rounding the bases while running backwards. The stunt displeased opposing pitcher Dallas Green, and apparently Mets manager Casey Stengel too – as Stengel released Piersall just two days later.
Rounding out the week, June 24 has seen some wacky moments in baseball.
In 1969, for instance, Phillies star Dick Allen was suspended indefinitely for missing a doubleheader at Shea Stadium…because he got stuck in traffic after watching a horse race in New Jersey.
A year later, Cleveland’s Tony Horton infamously crawled back to the dugout after fouling out against Yankees hurler Steve Hamilton, who threw Horton a pair of “Folly Floaters” to induce the out.
And, in 2011, the Astros became the first team to use three pitchers with the same last name in the same game, as Wandy, Fernando, and Aneury Rodriguez all took the hill for Houston in a 5-1 loss to the Rays.
Finally, this date in 1993 proved that you can never dismiss any part of a trade, no matter how insignificant it may seem. On 6/24/93, the Marlins acquired Gary Sheffield from the Padres in a five-player deal, with one of the players heading west being a lightly-regarded rookie pitcher who was 2-2 with a 3.28 ERA and two saves so far in his freshman campaign.
That man was none other than Trevor Hoffman, who went on to save 552 games for the Padres over the next 15-plus seasons, and left the game at the end of 2010 as MLB’s all-time leader with 601.
And that’s the week that was, for the week that is.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES