This Day In Baseball April 17
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for April 17
Alexander Cartwright, considered by many the father of the national pastime, is born in New York City. This pioneer banker, who is given credit for establishing three strikes for an out and three outs for each half inning, will be elected into the Hall of Fame in 1938 after a review of his journals reveals his many contributions in developing and promoting the sport of baseball.
Alexander Cartwright, considered by many the ‘father’ of the national pastime, is born in New York City. The banker, who is given credit for establishing three strikes for an out and three outs for each half inning, will be elected into the Hall of Fame in 1938 after a review of his journals reveals the many contributions he made in developing and promoting the sport of baseball. (Alex Cartwright, Mr. Cartwight’s great great grandson, inspired this entry.)
In front of a larger than usual crowd at the Polo Grounds of over 14,000 patrons that includes Broadway legend George M. Cohan, the Giants beat the new-look Yankees, now sporting pinstripes, in an unscheduled exhibition game, 11-2, to raise money for the survivors of the HMS Titanic. The charity contest, the first Sunday game ever played between major league teams at the Coogan’s Bluff ballpark, raises over $9,000 when each fan donates the price of an admission ticket to purchase a special program for the event.
4/17/1914: Luther Bonin of the Buffalo Blues in the Federal League hit a home run into the bleachers during a game in Baltimore against the Terrapins. However, as he rounded third base, manager Larry Schlafly, who was coaching third, patted Bonin on the back. Bonin was declared out by the umpires. This would have been Bonin’s only home run in his 21-game major league career. He was credited with a triple, the only one of his career!
Babe Ruth undergoes an operation for an intestinal abscess at St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he will remain for six weeks. The 30 year-old Yankee outfielder will miss the first forty games of the season due to his “bellyache heard ’round the world,” a popular misconception that blamed the consumption of an abundance of hot dogs and soda for his illness.
On the morning of Opening Day in Washington, DC, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New York Yankees visit Abner Doubleday’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Roosevelt is also scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Griffith Stadium, but the game is rained out and Vice President John Nance Garner will do the honors four days later.
On the morning of Opening Day in Washington, D.C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Yankees visit Abner Doubleday’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. FDR is also scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Griffith Stadium, but the game is rained out, and Veep Garner will do the honors four days later when the team opens the season against the same opponents, but after the Bronx Bombers return from New York having played Boston to start their campaign.
Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder, plays his major league debut game with the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman’s Park. Gray hits a single off Les Mueller in four at-bats, and handles no chances in the outfield. St. Louis beats the Detroit Tigers, 7 – 1, for their ninth straight Opening Day win, setting a major league record that the 1975-1983 New York Mets will tie. Gray, one of many players recruited to perform during World War II, will hit .218 (51 for 254) in his only major league season.
4/17/1945: On Opening Day in Cincinnati, Pirates shortstop Frankie Zak reached first on a bunt, which sent teammate Al Lopez to second. Zak then asked for time to tie his shoelace, which was granted by umpire Ziggy Sears. However, Reds pitcher Bucky Walters had begun his pitch, which Jim Russell hit over the right field fence for an apparent three-run homer. The play was not allowed because of the time out. Russell then singled to CF to drive in one run. The eleven-inning contest was won by the home team, 7-6.
Golf great Sam Snead tees off from home plate and hits the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field before the Cubs’ home opener. The Associated Press reports: “Sammy Snead settled a long-standing argument today over whether a golf ball could be driven from home plate over the towering scoreboard at Wrigley Field. It can, by a golfer like Sam. Wearing street clothes, Snead sent a ball zooming well over the scoreboard with a No. 2 iron after hitting the board with a swing with a No. 4 iron. Snead calculated the carry was 175 yards. The scoreboard rises 89 feet in the air some 50 feet behind the 400-mark on the centerfield wall.”
For the first time, in a career that will span more than half of a century, public address announcer Bob Sheppard announces the Yankees’ lineup. The ‘Voice of God’s introduction of the Bronx Bombers will include the memorable names of Mickey Mantle, playing his first game in pinstripes, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra, but the first player’s name announced will be DiMaggio – Dom DiMaggio, the leadoff batter for the visiting Red Sox.
At County Stadium, utility man Nino Escalera becomes the first black player to appear in a Cincinnati uniform. A native of Puerto Rico, Escalera pinch-hits a single in the Redlegs’ 5 – 1 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. In the 7th inning, another black rookie, Chuck Harmon, follows him, pinch-hitting for Corky Valentine and pops out. Escalera, who will bat .159 and collect 11 hits in his only major league season, will eventually become a scout for the Oakland Athletics.
After his 8th-inning, game-tying solo shot off the Braves’ Bob Rush, Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente has compatriot Juan Pizarro right where he wants him – namely, ahead, 0-2, in the top of the 10th and thus poised to once again give up a game-winning home run to his fellow Puerto Rican. The two collaborated on a Clemente game-winner back on May 16, 1957and again last year on August 4th. But before the pair from Puerto Rico can try for a trilogy, the skies absolutely open, bringing this tense confrontation to an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion, no resolution possible as the game will ultimately have to be replayed in its entirety.
Cleveland Indians general manager Frank Lane, notorious for his multiple transactions, sends American League home run king, Rocky Colavito, to the Detroit Tigers for the league’s defending batting champion, Harvey Kuenn. The trade is especially unpopular with Indians fans, who regard Colavito as their most popular player and best hitter.
In a trade of fan favorites, the Tigers swap Harvey Kuenn, last season’s batting champ, for Indians slugger Rocky Colavito. Detroit gets the better of the deal when their new outfielder will put together four consecutive outstanding seasons in the Motor City with their former fly chaser hitting .308 in his only season in Cleveland, before being traded by the Tribe to the Giants for Johnny Antonelli and Willie Kirkland.
In the only game scheduled on this Monday evening, the New York Mets pound Pittsburgh, 9 – 6. Obscured amidst the offensive fireworks is the sorry plight of poor Jerry Buchek, a career backup infielder on the verge of his career year who’s got to be wondering what he ever did to Pirate right fielder Roberto Clemente, likewise embarking on his own best-ever season. Clemente abuses Buchek on both sides of the ball, starting with his 2nd-inning snatch of his 400-footer to right center. Pirate beat writer Les Biederman reports: “Clemente went toward the exit gate for a startling back-handed stab of Buchek’s long drive.” Next inning, one of Roberto’s patented one-hop rockets undresses the Met second baseman even as it dares him to return Clemente’s favor. “Clemente slammed a vicious one-hop shot right at Buchek,” writes Biederman, “but the second baseman dropped the ball as he set himself to throw.”
In only the ninth game of the franchise’s history, Expos hurler Bill Stoneman, who had never thrown a complete game in the major leagues, tosses a no-hitter, defeating the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium, 7-0. The 25 year-old right-hander, the future GM of the Angels, will throw another no-hit game in 1972 against the Mets.
Atlanta rookie Earl Williams, starting his second straight game in place of ailing third baseman Clete Boyer, hits a double and his first two big league home runs, which — along with additional solo blasts from Orlando Cepeda and Hal King — help Braves starter Ron Reed secure a 6 – 2, complete game decision over Philadelphia. An ironic sidebar to the evolving Williams story is provided by Wayne Minshew in the Atlanta Constitution: “Lost in the glow of Williams’ big day is King’s towering home run in the 7th, which almost reached the upper deck in brand new Veterans Stadium.” The irony will be heightened immeasurably within less than 24 hours, when Williams — who, in two months’ time will lay exclusive claim to the starting catcher’s job King is currently struggling to retain — will erase all memories of King’s prodigious near-miss with the Vet’s bona fide inaugural upper-decker.
At Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the umpires walk off the field in the fourth inning to protest the Braves showing a controversial play on the ballpark’s massive instant replay screen that involves Houston’s Bob Watson scoring on a close play at the plate. Team executive Bill Lucas persuades the crew, which includes Terry Tata, Ed Sudol, Dick Stello, and Bruce Froemming, to return the field, after assuring the arbitrators the incident would not occur again.
Mike Pazik posts his first and last major league win when hurls eight innings in the Twins’ 10-2 victory over Oakland at Metropolitan Stadium. The 27 year-old former Yankees farmhand’s career will come to a sudden end on April 25 when his van is hit head-on by a car driving the wrong way on a freeway entrance, resulting in the southpaw fracturing both legs.
In a decision seen as one of the most influential and precedent-setting cases in the history of American jurisprudence in regards to professional sports, a federal court rules in favor of Bowie Kuhn’s decision to void the 1976 sale of A’s players by Charlie Finley. The Oakland owner sued the commissioner for illegal restraint of trade when his deals to send Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for $2 million and Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million were invalidated “in the best interests of baseball.”
The Detroit Tigers score 20 runs in a game for the second time this week, beating the Seattle Mariners, 20 – 3. Rob Deer is 1 for 2 and scores four runs, while Travis Fryman has four hits and scores five times. Chad Kreuter adds four hits and three runs and Gary Thurman paces the Tigers with four RBI.
In the Baltimore Orioles’ 7 – 5 loss to the Angels, Baltimore winds up with three runners on third base in a rare display of dumb baseball. With the bases loaded and one out, Mike Devereaux hits a fly ball which is trapped by Angels center fielder Chad Curtis, who throws home. Jeff Tackett, the baserunner on third, returns to the base after running halfway home. Brady Anderson, who was on second, advances to third. Chito Martinez, the baserunner on first base, rounds second and heads for third. Angels catcher John Orton walks to third base where he tags all three runners. Tackett is called out on a force, and Martinez is also called out, completing the rare inning-ending double play.
Barry Bonds becomes the 17th major leaguer, as well as the fourth Giant, to join the 500 home run club. Bonds’ two-run, 8th-inning homer off Terry Adams goes into San Francisco Bay to lead the Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3 – 2. Bonds is joined at home plate by two other members of the elite fraternity, Willie Mays (660) and Willie McCovey (521), for a brief ceremony.
Detroit’s Chris Shelton and St. Louis’ Albert Pujols hit their major league-leading ninth home runs, joining Mike Schmidt (1976), Larry Walker (1997) and Luis Gonzalez (2001) as the only players in major league history with at least nine home runs in their team’s first 13 games. Pujols also ties a major league record by homering in four consecutive at-bats when he connects in the 1st inning in St. Louis’ 2 – 1 win at Pittsburgh.
At Shea Stadium, the Mets continue their strong start to the season with a 4 – 3 victory over Atlanta as Pedro Martinez collects his 200th win with relief help from Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner. Martinez, from the Dominican Republic, improves his record to 200-84 and joins Dennis Martinez of Nicaragua (245-193), Dominican Juan Marichal (243-142) and CubanLuis Tiant (229-172), as the only Hispanic American pitchers to reach the 200-win major league mark.
In the bottom ninth inning, Mark Loretta hits a two-out, two-run home run over the left-field wall, giving the Red Sox a dramatic 7-6 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park on Patriots’ Day. The only other player to end a game with a homer on Boston’s special day of celebration is Frank Malzone, who gave the team a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Yankees in 1959, the year the New England baseball tradition began. (Ed. Note: Mark H., a leading denizen of Red Sox Nation, inspired this entry. – LP)
The Padres and Rockies begin a marathon game at PETCO Park. The game goes 6 hours and 16 minutes and 22 innings, the longest major league contest in 15 years. 15 pitchers throw a combined 658 pitches. It is the third straight Padres-Rockies contest to go at least 13 innings. Kip Wells gets the victory. Neither starter Jake Peavy nor Jeff Francis allow a run; the game is scoreless through 12. In the 13th, coach Glenn Hoffman waives Paul McAnulty home but Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes make fine throws to get McAnulty at home. In the 14th, Hawpe coaxes a bases-loaded walk from Kevin Cameron for the first run of the game. In the bottom of the 14th, though, Manuel Corpas allows a run when Josh Bard drives in Kevin Kouzmanoff. SS Troy Tulowitzki makes a game-saving throw home to prevent the Padres from winning the game in that inning. In the 22nd, CF Willy Taveras reaches on a Khalil Greeneerror. Taveras steals second and moves to third on Bard’s throwing error. Tulowitzki then singles off Glendon Rusch to finally end the game.
Gary Sheffield becomes the 25th member of the 500 home run club. He delivers a pinch-hit homer off the Brewers’ Mitch Stetter in the 7th inning of a game at Citi Field, still in its first month of operation. It is Sheffield’s first home run for the New York Mets, after having been released in spring training by the Detroit Tigers while sitting on 499 home runs. The Mets win the game, 5 – 4, on Luis Castillo’s 9th inning two-out single.
Washington’s right fielder Adam Dunn and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman start the game against Florida with the word “Nationals” misspelled on the front of their uniforms. Majestic Athletic, the manufacturer of the jerseys, takes full responsibility for the missing “O” and apologizes for the mistake to the organization, the players, and their fans.
Jason Kubel blasts a grand slam to become the ninth Twins player to hit for the cycle, the first to do it at the Metrodome since 1986 when Kirby Puckett accomplished the feat in front of the home crowd. The left fielder’s bases-full homer caps a seven-run eighth inning in Minnesota’s 11-9 comeback victory over the Angels.
The Mets need 20 innings to beat the Cardinals, 2 – 1, in the longest game since this date in 2008. Jose Reyes drives in the winning run with a sacrifice fly after going 0 for 7 for the day in a game dominated by the pitchers. Both starters, Johan Santana for New York and Jaime Garcia for St. Louis, pitch 7 scoreless innings and the game is still scoreless after 17 frames, but the Cardinals eventually run out of able-bodied pitchers. 2B Felipe Lopez is sent out to the mound and pitches a scoreless 18th inning, while P Kyle Lohse goes out to play left field, but their teammate, OF Joe Mather, gives up a run in the top of the 19th. However, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez gives the run right back, but the Mets score again off Mather in the 20th. Mather is saddled with the loss, while Rodriguez gets the win and starter Mike Pelfrey comes out in the 21st to record the save for the Mets.
For the first time since their move to Washington, DC in 2005, the Nationals sweep a doubleheader at home. David Espinosa and Ivan Rodriguez bang three-run homers and Ian Desmond adds a solo shot in an 8 – 4 win over the Brewers in the opener; Livan Hernandez then allows only one run in seven innings and Espinosa caps his great day with a three-run triple, for a 5 – 1 win in the nitecap.
Grady Sizemore homers in his return to action after undergoing knee surgery last year, leading the Indians to a 4 – 2 win over the Orioles. The homer comes off Brad Bergesen after almost a full year on the sidelines for the former All-Star CF and sends Baltimore to its 7th straight loss. Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner also homer for Cleveland.
Jamie Moyer becomes to oldest pitcher to record a win in Colorado’s 5 – 3 victory over the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. At 49 years and 150 days of age, he eclipses Jack Quinn, who recorded the last win of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers on September 13, 1932. It is career win number 268 for Moyer, tying him with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer; he pitches 7 innings and is helped by Dexter Fowler’s two-run homer.
The Rangers bang out 6 homers in crushing the Red Sox, 18 – 3, at Fenway Park. Josh Hamilton hits the most spectacular of the long balls, a 469-foot shot into the right field bleachers which lands a dozen rows shy of the longest homer hit at Fenway, by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946. Mike Napoli hits a pair of two-run homers, while Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young complete the fireworks. Jon Lester is charged with the loss, giving up 7 runs in 2 innings, and Mark Melancon gives up 6 runs without recording an out to bring his season ERA to 49.50. Colby Lewis is the beneficiary of the offensive outburst.
The Indians sign veteran outfielder Johnny Damon to a minor league contract to provide some punch to their lifeless offense, but he will not be ready to play immediately after missing all of spring training waiting for a contract offer. Damon, who is only 277 hits short of the magic mark of 3,000, found no takers in the off-season in spite of very solid production with Tampa Bay last year.
Throwing seven strong innings in the Rockies’ 5-3 victory over San Diego, Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest pitcher to win a major league contest. The 49-year, 150 day old southpaw surpasses Brooklyn’s Jack Quinn, who was almost three months younger when he got the victory pitching five frames in relief against St. Louis in 1932.
After agreeing on a $1.25 million deal last week, Johnny Damon signs a minor league contract en route to joining the Indians to possibly become their regular left fielder. The 38 year-old career .286 hitter, who needs 277 knocks to reach the 3,000-hit plateau, will bring intangibles to the club by providing veteran leadership for the struggling Tribe in addition to serving as a mentor to the team’s younger stars.
The Reds need only 9 minutes to record a win, as Jay Bruce singles with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th for a 1 – 0 victory over the Phillies. The game was suspended by rain while still scoreless after 8 1/2 innings the previous night. Two hours later, after the few spectators who made the trip to witness the end of the suspended game have been cleared, the regularly scheduled game starts, and Cincinnati completes a sweep with an 11 – 2 win over Philly. Mike Leake is the hero, pitching seven scoreless innings while collecting three hits and scoring three runs.
Author of a no-hitter when he was a raw youth of 24, the now 36-year-old A.J. Burnett come close to another while leading the Pirates to a 5 – 0 win over the Cardinals. Carlos Beltranbreaks up the no-no with a double with two outs in the 7th. Burnett’s 8 strikeouts on the night include the 2000th of his career, Beltran being the victim in the 2nd inning.
The Tigers and Mariners combine for 40 strikeouts in 14 innings, three short of the major league record set by the Angels and A’s on July 9, 1971, in 20 innings. Prince Fielder leads the pack with five strikeouts, while Austin Jackson and Franklin Gutierrez both earn golden sombreros. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez post almost identical pitching lines, both striking out 12 and giving up a single run in eight innings of work. The Tigers top the M’s, 2 – 1, with the game ending when Justin Smoak is tagged out at home by the Bengals’ Brayan Pena while trying to score the tying run from first base on Dustin Ackley’s double.
The 2014 Hoofdklasse season kicks off, one of the later summer leagues to get going. Rain cuts one game short and cancels another. DOOR Neptunus opens with a 9-0 thumping of the ADO Lakers, Diegomar Markwell allowing one hit in five innings before rain ends it. Newcomer Ricardo Hernandez, in his third European league, wins his opener for the Vaessen Pioniers over Mr. Cocker HCAW, 6-2. Finally, Kinheim kicks off with a 10-inning, 2-1 win as new addition Dashenko Ricardo hits a sacrifice fly off Kevin van Veen to score Quintin de Cuba.
Alfredo Despaigne becomes the first player to win four Serie Nacional Most Valuable Player awards in Cuba; Martin Dihigo had been a four-time MVP in the Cuban Winter Leagueprior to the revolution. Despaigne, who led in average (.406) and slugging (.762) and was second with 17 homers, breaks a tie with Wilfredo Sánchez and Omar Linares. The Rookie of the Year is Isla de la Juventud shortstop Alfredo Rodríguez.
Kris Bryant makes his much-anticipated major league debut for the Cubs, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the team’s 5-4 loss to the Padres at Wrigley Field. Chicago had delayed the start of his season to extend the club’s control on the highly-touted freshman, who will go on to be named the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
Ciego de Ávila becomes the first Cuban Serie Nacional to repeat as titlists in 8 years and avoid becoming the first team to blow a 3-0 lead in the finals, romping past Pinar del Río in game 7, 8 – 0. Dachel Duquesne wins postseason MVP (3-0, 0.44) with another strong outing, throwing 7 shutout frames, while Yunier Cano gets the last six outs. Guillermo Aviles homers and Erlis Casanova takes the defeat. It is the third time Roger Machado has guided Ciego de Ávila to the title in this decade.
Puerto Rican native Francisco Lindor hits an emotional two-run home run to lead the Indians to a 6 – 1 win over the Twins in the first game of a two-game series played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The series is particularly important given the devastation wreaked on the island by Hurricane Maria last September.
Patrick Corbin spins a gem for the Diamondbacks as he shuts out the Giants, 1 – 0, on a one-hitter. He keeps the Giants hitless until two are out in the 8th when Brandon Belt hits a squibbler to third base to defeat a defensive shift. The game is still scoreless at that point, but in the bottom of the inning, Arizona scores the only run it needs on a walk by Jarrod Dyson, a sacrifice bunt by Corbin and a single by David Peralta. It is Corbin’s first career shutout.
1976 – Ken Forsch has to save the Astros twice. Leading San Diego, 5-4 in the ninth, and the tying runner aboard, Forsch gets Ted Kubiak to ground to second for an apparent finish but catcher Cliff Johnson is ruled for interference. Kubiak is awarded first and Forsch must retire Merv Rettenmund, which he does on a fly to Greg Gross in right to seal the victory.