Category Archives: MLB

Wrigley Field – “Turn On The Lights!”

wrigley

On this day in 1988 Wrigley Field finally joined the 20th Century.  The great American ballpark that is Wrigley finally hosted a night game under the lights.  Wrigley Field was opened on April 23, 1914 under the name of Weeghman Park.  The ballpark underwent many changes through the years but the most important was installing lights.  A total of 5,687 consecutive day games where played there before they held a night game.

The Philadelphia Phillies were the Cubs opponents on this night.  The game had a scheduled start time of 7:05pm.  A pregame ceremony took place prior to the game in which a long time Cubs fan was able to hit a button to turn on the lights.  The interesting not about this game it was never an official game.  The game was halted in the fourth inning because of rain at 8:14pm.  The game was officially called off at 10:25pm.

The first full game under the light would take place the following night on August 9, 1988.  The Cubs defeated the New York Mets in that contest by a score of 6-4.  Wrigley had a deal with the city of Chicago for many years following to only play around 20 night games a season.  The reason for this was with the ballpark being located in a residential area of the city the lights would affect the local residents from sleeping at night.

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“Man Of Steal”- Rickey Henderson And His Career Stolen Bases Record

On this day in 1991, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock’s career stolen bases record.  This historic event happened in a day game against the St Louis Cardinals in Henderson’s home stadium in Oakland, CA.  Henderson stole his 939th career base breaking Brock’s previous record of 938.  Immediately the game was stopped and a ceremony was performed to commemorate the record breaking moment.  Henderson was given the base he stole just moments before and an address to the fans in attendance were he proclaimed “I am the greatest of all time”.

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Rickey Henderson was drafted by the A’s in the 4th round of the 1976 MLB Draft.  He would make his Major League debut for the A’s after about 3 years in the Minor Leagues.  During his debut against the Texas Rangers on June 24th 1979 Henderson stole his very first base in the Majors.  It was just a preview of what would become and incredible career.

Rickey Henderson played from 1979-2003.   During his 4th season he stole a record 130 bases, it became the new record for a single season that still stands today.  Henderson stole the most bases in Major League baseball 12 different seasons. He was on two World Series Championship teams the first in 1989 (Oakland A’s) and the second in 1993 (Toronto Blue Jays).  One of his most outstanding achievements other than breaking career stolen bases record would have to be being named the American League MVP in 1990 while playing for the A’s.

Rickey Henderson’s amazing career came to an end on September 19th, 2003.  When he hung up those blazing cleats he had stolen 1,406 bases during his career.  Henderson will go down in history as the most amazing base stealer ever.  His career stolen bases record is one that will be very hard to break.

Historic Rookies: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson In 1911

Many baseball fans consider the Legendary outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to be one of the greatest players ever. He had a very good career but unfortunately is most remembered as a member of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. One of the most impressive parts of his career is one that is often overlooked, the beginning.

The Legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The Legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

Joe Jackson began his major league career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He would end his time with the Athletics after the 1909 season. During his two seasons with the club he only played in ten games. With 40 total at bats he only reach base 7 times. He would start the 1910 season with the minor league New Orleans Pelicans but signed on to the Major League Cleveland Naps at the end of the season. He finished playing 20 games and had 75 at bats, 29 hits and a batting average of .387. It was clear following the 1910 season that Jackson had great potential.

Joe Jackson returned to the Naps in 1911 for his first full season in the Major Leagues. Jackson played a total of 147 games and led the Naps to 80-73 record (3rd best in the American League). Jackson had one of the greatest rookie seasons baseball has ever seen with a rookie batting average record of .408. His batting average in 1911 stands as the second best single season batting record to this day. Jackson notched 233 hits, 7 home runs and batted in 83 runs. “Shoeless” Joe showed everyone a preview of how great his career would become. He was traded from the Naps to the Chicago White Sox during the 1915 season.

Joe Jackson was banned from baseball following the 1919 Black Sox scandal that tarnished the name of baseball. When his career was finished he had a career bating average of .356, 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s. He would be in the Hall Of Fame today if not for the controversy he found himself in following the 1919 World Series. Over one hundred years after “Shoeless” Joe amazed the baseball world he legend still lives on and will be remembered forever.

The 1994 MLB Players Strike: The 20th Anniversary

On August 11, 1994 the final game of the 1994 MLB Season was played between the Montreal Expos and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were victorious on that day winning by a score of 4-0. Twenty years ago today the history of baseball changed forever. There have been strikes in the game of baseball before but none of them were as damaging to the game as this one.

Here is the short story of what transpired prior to August 11, 1994. The MLB Players Association had been going back and forth with the MLB Oweners for almost one year over a proposed salary cap. The Owners claimed it was necessary to have a salary cap in place for small market teams to survive the current state of MLB.  The salary cap combined with local television revenues would sustain the smaller market teams and thus benefit all of MLB. The players were not willing to agree to the terms the owners had set and after numerous negotiations decided as a group to sit out the rest of the season. On top of all of the problems between the two sides there had not been an official commissioner presiding over baseball since 1992.  Baseball needed a commissioner that could moderate between the two sides.

The lock gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The locked gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

On August 12, 1994 The strike officially began and America would not see Major League Baseball action until the strike ended on April 2, 1995. Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States District Court for the Southern District, New York, issued an injunction that ended the strike. Judge Sotomayor ruled that the players and owners were bound by the expired collective bargaining agreement until a new deal could be reached. The strike lasted a total of 232 days and reduced the 1995 season to 144 games from the traditional 162 games.

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

Throughout the 1995 MLB Season the fans showed their displeasure with the strike that had tainted the game that they love.  Many fans saw it as two greedy side fighting for more money.  Fans all over the country showed their disdain for the players in their own ways.  Many fans decided not to go to games or buy any MLB merchandise, while other fans decided to show up and let the players know how they felt by throwing objects at them and taunting them.  Baseball did not see much gain in popularity until the steroid driven home run fest of the late 1990’s.  The “Steroid Era” further damaged the game of baseball when it was made public in the mid 2000’s.

Because of the 1994 MLB Players Strike there was no World Series played that year, it was the first season without a World Series since 1904. There were many casualties of the strike of the 1994 Strike. The most notable were the Montreal Expos who were having their best season in team history and lead baseball with a 74-70 record when the strike ended. The Expos would have likely reached the MLB Playoffs and possibly even the World Series but instead faded into obscurity. The franchise would not reach the post season until the team became the Washington Nationals more than a decade later.

There are many lessons that have been learned from the 1994 Players Strike. The most important of those lessons is that no League can disregard the fans and still profit greatly from them. Many felt the financial impact that the strike had on the game due to raising the fans ire. Baseball was considered America’s most popular sport prior to the strike. It fell behind the NFL in popularity a few years after the strike and has never grabbed its old position back from football since. The game of baseball is a beautiful game but in 1994 it was tainted by greed and the fans were the biggest victims of the dispute between the owners and the players.

On This Day In 1983: The George Brett Pine Tar Incident

Exactly thirty-one years ago today one of the most infamous incidents of modern baseball history occurred.  The game involved the visiting Kansas City Royals taking on the New York Yankees.  The Yankees were leading the game 4-3 with 2 outs in the top half of the 9th inning.  George Brett was at bat and hit an incredible 2-run home run off of Yankees pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage.  The Royals were suddenly in the lead by one run.

That is until the Yankees manager Billy Martin left the dugout to speak with home plate umpire Tim McClelland.  Martin explained to McClelland that Brett’s bat had pine tar exceeding the normal length allowed on the bat.  This pine tar place on the upper part of the barrel of the bat would make the bat easier to hit the ball solidly off the bat.  McClelland then measured the bat’s pine tar (which was allowed to be more 18 inches up the bat) with the home plate.  The pine tar was over that length,  McClelland immediately over ruled the play and called brett’s at bat as an out.

George Brett protesting the pine tar call after his 2-run home run was ruled an out.  (Getty Images)

George Brett protesting the pine tar call after his 2-run home run was ruled an out. (Getty Images)

George Brett then stormed toward home plate to confront Tim McClelland.  Brett was restrained by his team mates and was brought back into the dugout.  Due to the umpires call the game was now over.  The Yankees were recorded as the winners of the game by a score of 4-3.  The call was later over ruled and a few weeks later the game was restarted after Brett’s at bat with his 2-run home run counting.  The Royals won that game 5-4.

This is a moment that will live forever in baseball history.  It is also George Brett’s most memorable moment in his Hall Of Fame career.

 

On This Day in 1910: Cy Young Won His 500th Game

On this day 104 years ago one of the greatest pitchers of all time won his 500th career game.   Cy Young was in the twilight of his career and playing for Cleveland Indians.  The Indians were in Washington to play the Senators at American League Park II.  The Indians won the  game by a score of 5-4 thus giving Young this milestone victory.

Young would retire after the 1911 season with a career record of 511-316.  Young’s 511 career wins remains the all time record for wins by a pitcher.  In 1956 a year after his death, the Cy Young Award was created.  The Award is given to the best pitcher in the National and American leagues at the end of every season.

The 1990 MLB Season: The Year Of The No-Hitter

When the 1990 Major League Baseball Season started there had been 217 total No-Hitters in the long history of baseball.  Many seasons have had their share of No-Hitters but the oncoming season would be the best for this difficult feat.  In the 1990 season a record seven No-Hitters would occur.  No other season since has been able to break this incredible record.  Let’s visit the 1990 season and it’s record breaking games.

April 11, 1990-

Mark Langston (7 Innings) – California Angels

Mike Witt (2 Innings) – California Angels

California Angels pitchers Mark Langston and Mike Witt combined for the No-Hitter in nine total innings.  Langston pitched seven innings while Witt pitched the final two innings of the game and recorded the save.  This was the second No Hitter of Witt’s career and Langston’s first and only in his career.

June 2, 1990-

Randy Johnson – Seattle Mariners

For the second time in the 1990 season the Mariners were involved in a No-Hitter on June 2nd.  This time they were on the better end of the of the box score.  Randy Johnson achieved his first career No-Hitter and grabbed his second win of the season in the 2-0 victory over the visiting Detroit Tigers.

June 11, 1990-

Nolan Ryan – Texas Rangers

One of the all time greatest pitchers and the career leader in No-Hitters, Nolan Ryan notched his sixth career “No-No” in the 1990 season.  In that game Ryan was given a good amount of help by his offense in the 5-0 victory in which his Texas Rangers visited the Oakland A’s.  Ryan would go on to throw one more No-Hitter in 1991 in his final Major League season in 1991 cementing his legacy as of the best pitchers in the history of baseball.

June 29, 1990-

Dave Stewart – Oakland A’s

Nineteen days after falling victim to Nolan Ryans sixth career no hitter the Oakland A’s were able to feel the joy of this great pitching feat themselves.  Dave Stewart pitched the A’s to a 5-0 No-Hit win against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Canada.  This was the first of two No-Hit games on the 29th of June in 1990.

June 29, 1990-

Fernando Valenzuela – Los Angeles Dodgers

Less than a decade removed from “Fernando Mania” the city of Los Angeles got to revel in the greatness that this pudgy pitcher from Mexico was able to provide on June 29, 1990.  Fernando Valenzuela was the second pitcher to record a No-Hitter on that day, it was the only one of his career.  Fernando was able to pitch his Dodgers to the 6-0 No-Hit victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in L.A.  It would be the last great moment of Fernando Valenzuela’s career.

August 15, 1990-

Terry Mulholland – Philadelphia Philles

Terry Mulholland became the victor in the sixth No-Hitter of the 1990 season on Agust 15th,  His Phillies defeated the visiting San Francisco Giants by a score of 6-0.

Most baseball fans could not believe that they had witnessed so many No-Hit performances in one season.  The seson was not yet finish and niether was this history making season.

September 2, 1990-

Dave Stieb –  Toronto Blue Jays

Dave Stieb finished off this history making season with its seventh and final No-Hitter.  Stieb’s Blue Jays defeated the Indians in Cleveland, OH by a score of 3-0.  The Blue Jays became the third team that season to fall to a No-Hitter only to return later that season with a No-Hit performance of their own.