This Day In Baseball April 18
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for April 18
4/18/1890 – The Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association won 12-9 at home against the Rochester Hop Bitters. According to the boxscore in the Philadelphia Inquirer the next day, Wilbert Robinson of the Athletics batted out of turn, but the story about the game had no additional information.
The Yankees will become the second team to wear numbers on uniforms when rain postpones their Opening Day game, giving the Indians the distinction of being the first to don the digits. New York’s numbers are assigned based on the order in the lineup, thus Earle Combs wore #1, Mark Koenig #2, Babe Ruth #3, Lou Gehrig #4, Bob Meusel #5, Tony Lazzeri #6, Leo Durocher #7, Johnny Grabowski #8, Benny Bengough #9, and Bill Dickey #10 (#’s 8-10 are all catchers).
The five-year ban on broadcasting games played by the New York major league teams ends when Red Barber, hired away from the Reds by Larry McPhail, calls Brooklyn’s 7-3 loss to the Giants at Ebbets Field. In 1934, the two National League teams and the Yankees agreed not to air their games on the radio, fearing the exposure would reduce the number of fans attending games.
In Brooklyn, Red Barber calls the action in the first broadcast of a regular-season Dodger game, a 7-3 loss to New York at Ebbets Field. The future Hall of Fame announcer was brought in from Cincinnati by the team’s new president, Larry MacPhail, who had hired the ‘Ol Redhead’ when he was in a similar post with the Reds.
Dodger president Branch Rickey names team scout Burt Shotton to replace Leo Durocher, who was suspended ten days ago by Commissioner Happy Chandler for acts “unbecoming to a major league manager.” Brooklyn’s new 62 year-old skipper reluctantly takes over the team two games into the season and will manage the club for one year in his street clothes along with wearing the team’s hat and jacket.
At the Polo Grounds, Sam Jethroe becomes the first black to play for the Boston Braves. A former Cleveland Buckeyes star, he goes 2 for 4, including a home run, to lead the Braves to an 11 – 4 beating of the New York Giants. Warren Spahn is the winner. Jethroe will go on to become National League Rookie of the Year after leading the majors in stolen bases.
At Fenway Park, Commissioner Happy Chandler gives Ted Williams his American League MVP Award, and then Governor Paul Dever tosses out the first ball. To the delight of 31,822 fans, Boston rips New York Yankees starter Allie Reynolds with a five-run 4th inning to drive him from the game and take a 9 – 0 lead. But the Yankees score four runs in the 6th off Mel Parnell and then, down 10 – 4, unload for nine runs in the 8th. Billy Martin becomes the first player in major league history to get two base hits in one inning in his first game. He doubles against Parnell in his first at-bat in the 8th inning, and then singles off Al Papai. Walt Masterson gives up Tommy Henrich’s second triple of the game before giving way to four more Boston pitchers. Boo Ferriss, pitching in his last game, allows the last two runs in the 9th inning as the Yankees chalk up a 15 – 10 victory, the biggest blown lead the Red Sox have ever had at Fenway Park; on June 4, 1989, they’ll blow a 10-run lead at home. Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Vern Stephens, and Bobby Doerreach have three hits. Don Johnson is the winning pitcher, his last victory for New York, with Joe Page pitching a perfect 8th and 9th innings in relief.
Vin Scully calls the first game of his illustrious 67-year career with the Dodgers, detailing Brooklyn’s 9-1 defeat to the Phillies on Opening Day at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. The 22-year old broadcaster, who will be awarded the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award by Bud Selig in 2014, will become the team’s primary announcer just three seasons later.
Stealing considerable thunder from Brooklyn’s victorious home opener, a 7 – 6, 12-inning triumph, Willie Mays makes the catch he’ll later call his greatest. The Associated Press reports: “Willie Mays, army-bound centerfielder of the New York Giants, astounded an opening day crowd of 31,032 fans at Ebbets Field with a sensational catch of a drive by Bobby Morgan in the 7th inning.” With two out, two on and the Dodgers down by one, “the sophomore star made a diving, sliding catch of a sinking liner near the left centerfield wall that robbed Morgan of a potential triple.” Unfortunately for Mays, Ebbets Field’s Little League dimensions afford little leeway for such hijinks. “I go and catch the ball in the air,” Mays recalls 45 years later. “I’m in the air, like this, parallel. I catch the ball, I hit the fence. Ebbets Field was so short that if you run anywhere you’re going to hit a fence. So I catch the fence, knock myself out.” “As he lay motionless,” reports the New York Times, “players of both sides rushed to his aid. All, that is, but the three Dodgers on the bases, who continued their wild dash for the plate, only to learn Willie had held on to the ball for the third out.” Willie’s impression is that the first player to reach his side has a somewhat less altruistic agenda. “The first guy that I saw – there were two guys – when I open my eyes, was Leo Durocher and Jackie Robinson. And I’m saying to myself, ‘Why is Jackie out here?’ Jackie came to see if I caught the ball, and Leo came to see about me.”
On Opening Day in Brooklyn, Willie Mays is knocked unconscious when he smashes into the Ebbets Field wall after chasing pinch hitter Bob Morgan’s seventh-inning, two-out base-loaded line drive into the gap in left field. All three Dodgers baserunners cross the plate but do not score when the motionless Giants center fielder comes to his feet and jogs into the dugout, apparently unhurt, having held onto the ball after making a fantastic catch for the third out to end the inning.
Roberto Clemente’s first major league home run – a 440- to 450-foot inside-the-parker off Giants southpaw Don Liddle – arrives three games into his big league career and it’s just his luck that it occurs in the one stadium that, due to its freakish configuration, could possibly have contained this blast, namely the Polo Grounds, that semi-rectangular oddity wherein 279- and 257-foot foul lines coexist with 455- and 449-foot power alleys. This first New York visit also has a deeper significance for Clemente since, in his third major league game, he’s playing on the same field with both his new mentor and role model, Willie Mays (alongside whom he was playing just two months earlier in Santurce), and his boyhood hero, Monte Irvin, whose winter ball career Clemente monitored religiously in the late 1940s and who, in the interim, has himself become both a teammate and something of a mentor to Mays.
Ed Rommel becomes the first major league umpire to wear glasses during a game when he mans third base during the Yankees’ 9-5 victory over Washington at Griffith Stadium. The bespectacled arbitrator, known as the father of the modern knuckleball, played 13 seasons with Philadelphia, compiling an impressive record of 171-119 with the A’s from 1920 to 1932.
At Briggs Stadium, Roger Maris hits a game-winning, grand-slam home run in the top of the 11th inning against Detroit in the Indians’ second game of the season. In his major league debut two days ago, the 22 year-old rookie outfielder went 3-for-5 in the Tribe’s 3-2 loss to Chicago at Cleveland Stadium.
Ted Williams becomes the first major leaguer to homer in four different decades when he blasts a pitch from Senators’ right-hander Camilo Pascual 500 feet over the center field wall for the only run in the Red Sox’s 10-1 Opening Day loss at Griffith Stadium. In 1939, the then 20 year-old ‘Kid’ hit the first of his 521 career round-trippers, a first-inning two-run shot off Philadelphia’s Bud Thomas at Fenway Park.
L.A. southpaw Sandy Koufax throws the second of his two career immaculate innings when he strikes out the side on nine pitches. Although Leo Cardenas, Johnny Edwards, and Jim Maloney all strike out quickly in the top of the third inning, Cincinnati will score all of the game’s runs in the next frame, thanks to a three-run homer hit by Deron Johnson, to beat the Dodgers in the Chavez Ravine contest, 3-0.
Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills singles to center off future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, becoming the first batter to hit on artificial turf in a major league game. The Astrodome’s new playing surface, called Chemgrass initially by its manufacturer, the Monsanto Company, couldn’t be made quickly enough, so the season begins with the artificial material only on the infield with the outfield remaining painted dirt until July.
The first major league game on artificial turf is played in the Astrodome. Two future Hall-of-Famers face off. 21-year-old rookie Don Sutton stymies Robin Roberts and the Astros for a 6-3 Dodger win, the first of his career. The infield was carpeted with the Monsanto product Judge Roy Hofheinz dubbed “Astroturf”. The outfield and foul grounds were still dirt but had the zippered sod installed after the homestand.
Denny Doyle’s first-inning single is the only hit allowed by Nolan Ryan when he blanks the Phillies at Shea Stadium, 7-0. The 23 year-old right-hander ties the Mets’ mark established by Jerry Koosman’s 1968 mark with 15 strikeouts, but Tom Seaver will break the short-lived record, whiffing 19 Padres later in the week.
Less than 24 hours after hitting his first two major league home runs, Atlanta rookie Earl Williams becomes the first player ever to reach the upper deck at Veterans Stadium, depositing a 2-and-1 offering from Philly starter Rick Wise “in the first row of the orange seats (middle section) of the upper deck,” tucked just inside the left-field foul pole. The 4th-inning, bases-empty blast ties the game at 2, combining with a red-hot Orlando Cepeda, who goes 5-for-5 with a double, home run and 3 RBI, to lead Atlanta to a third straight win and a series sweep over the lowly Phils.
After getting ahead in the count 3-0, Reggie Jackson, knowing he has a green light to hit away, feigns to be upset by getting a bogus take sign from third base coach Dick Howser. Oriole right-hander Tippy Martinez, deceived by the batter’s behavior, grooves a fastball down the middle of the plate that the Yankee slugger promptly puts over the fence, giving the Yankees a 4-3 walk-off victory.
Joe Torre’s Braves set a National League record when they win their 11th straight game to start the season, beating Houston at the Astrodome, 6-5. The eventual NL West Division champs, who will finish the campaign with an 89-73 record, will extend the mark to 13-0 when they add two more victories against Cincinnati at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Luis González of the Arizona Diamondbacks doubles to become the 21st major leaguer with 300 home runs and 500 doubles, as the Diamondbacks defeat San Francisco, 7 – 4. Gonzalez joins a list led by Hank Aaron, who hit 755 homers and 624 doubles. The only other active player in the group is Barry Bonds, who hits his 567th double in the game.
For the first time since their first month of play, the Houston Astros have a .500 franchise record. With a 13 – 12 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Astros become the 13th team in the majors with a record of .500 or better. The victory puts the franchise at .500 for the first time since the Colt .45s, as the team was known, were 6-6 before a 2 – 1 loss to the Milwaukee Braves on April 27, 1962. The franchise record is 3,507-3,507. Carlos Lee goes 4 for 5 with a pair of two-run home runs for Milwaukee.
It took 44 years for Houston to reach the World Series; it takes 44 years for the Astros to return to the .500 mark as a franchise, standing 3,507-3,507 overall and 10-4 on the season with a 13-12 slugfest over Milwaukee. Adam Everett drives in four while Morgan Ensberg belts two homers to lead the attack. Brad Lidge gets the save after the Brewers rallied from an 11-2 deficit. Preston Wilson fans twice to reach seven consecutive strikeouts before grounding out and singling twice.
In the longest game in franchise history, the Rockies beat the Padres, 2-1, in a 22-inning marathon played at Petco Park. The game, which ends at 1:31 am, takes 6 hours, 16 minutes to complete, falling one minute shy of San Diego’s record for the length of a game, but goes into the team record books for the most innings played to complete a contest.
Cleveland crushes the New York Yankees, 22 – 4, at New Yankee Stadium, scoring 14 runs in the 2nd inning, the most runs given up in an inning in Yankee history. Asdrubal Cabrera hits a grand slam, Mark DeRosa and Shin-Soo Choo add three-run home runs, and Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez all connect for solo shots for the Indians. Yankee starter Chien-Ming Wang, who missed the second half of 2008 with a leg injury, is charged with 8 runs in 1 1/3 innings to raise his ERA for the year to 34.50. Making his major league debut, Anthony Claggett succeeds him but gives up 8 more runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Jason Heyward, 20-year-old rookie outfielder for the Braves, continues to be one of baseball’s biggest stories this young season. Today, he knocks in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th in Atlanta’s 4 – 3 win over Colorado. His 15 RBI put him in a tie for second place in the National League even though he is hitting seventh in the batting order.
One day after playing a marathon 20-inning contest, the Cardinals’ bullpen gets some rest as Adam Wainwright pitches a complete game for a 5 – 3 win over the Mets. Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick’s homers account for all of St. Louis’s runs; Wainwright helps his own cause by doubling ahead of Ludwick’s blast in the 8th. For their part, the Mets designate 1B Mike Jacobs for assignment before the game in order to call up P Tobi Stonerfrom AAA Buffalo. Jacobs has become redundant because of the rapid development of prospect Ike Davis, who will be called up to the majors tomorrow. Stoner is the losing pitcher in his only game of the season, in spite of giving up only one run in 2 1/3 innings of work with the Mets’ bullpen also burnt out from yesterday’s game.
The Giants give ace Tim Lincecum a big early lead at Coors Field, but the two-time Cy Young Award winner does not need all the help. He keeps the hot-hitting Rockies hitless until the 7th on his way to an 8 – 1 win. Colorado starter Esmil Rogers gives up 8 runs in 3 innings to remove any doubt about the day’s outcome, and the remaining tension is broken when Carlos Gonzalez singles with one out in the 7th. Lincecum leaves after giving up a run with two outs in the 8th, and Ryan Vogelsong gets the final four outs. Pat Burrell and Nate Schierholtz homer for San Francisco.
Tiger outfielder Ryan Raburn becomes the first player to hit a ball off Seattle’s Safeco Field’s retractable roof when his first-inning pop fly makes contact with one of the trusses approximately 175 feet above the playing field. The redirected foul ball, which falls between Mariner catcher Miguel Olivo and third baseman Chone Figgins, if caught, would have been the second out of the inning, according to the ballpark’s ground rules.
Bartolo Colon displays a rare mastery of the strike zone in shutting out the Angels, 6 – 0. At one point, Colon throws 38 consecutive strikes, the longest such streak since all pitches were first recorded in 1988. Yoenis Cespedes hits a three-run homer for Oakland, giving him 12 RBI in his first 12 major league games.
Two of the National League’s top pitchers battle it out in San Francisco, as the Phillies’ Cliff Lee and the Giants’ Matt Cain trade zeroes for a combined 19 innings. Melky Cabrera hits an RBI single off Antonio Bastardo in the 11th, scoring Brandon Belt from second base, to give the Giants a 1 – 0 victory.
Beginning with the second pitch of the fifth inning through the seventh pitch of the eighth frame, Bartolo Colon throws 38 consecutive strikes en route to picking up the victory in the A’s 6-0 win over the Angels. The Oakland starter faces eleven straight batters who never see a pitch that is called a ball in the Anaheim contest.
A memorable pitching duel between Cliff Lee, who throws ten innings of scoreless ball against San Francisco, and Matt Cain, who doesn’t give up a run to the Phillies in his nine innings of work, ends with the Giants beating the Phillies, 1-0, in 11 innings at AT&T Park. The only run in the extra-inning contest, which takes only two hours and 27-minutes to complete, scores as the result of Melky Cabrera’s one-out RBI single off Antonio Bastardo.
In the 6th inning of the Brewers’ game at Pittsburgh, Martin Maldonado literally knocks the cover off the ball. He smacks a ground ball to 3B Pedro Alvarez, but the stitches on the baseball come apart and Alvarez is left attempting to throw a ball with a chunk of leather flapping off. Maldonado easily beats the fluttering throw for an infield single. The Brewers win the game, 5 – 3.
Wei-Yin Chen and relievers Brad Ziegler and Kyle Barraclough combine to one-hit the Mariners, 5 – 0. Mitch Haniger breaks the no-hit spell with a one-out double off Barraclough in the 9th. It’s the second time in three days that the Marlins take a combined no-hitter into the late innings, as on April 16th, Dan Straily and three relievers had turned the trick on the Mets until Ziegler gave up a hit with two outs in the 8th.
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