This Day In Baseball July 21

Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on July 21 This Day In Baseball.

July 21, 1988, the New York Yankees make the infamous “Ken Phelps Trade” with the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees acquire the veteran first baseman/DH for promising outfield prospect Jay Buhner. Phelps will remain with the Yankees for parts of only two seasons, while Buhner will emerge as a star, reaching the 40-home run mark in 1995, ’96, and ’97. Even Seinfeld questioned this trade . . .

July 21, 1970, San Diego Padres manager Preston Gomez lifts starter Clay Kirby for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, even though the right-hander has a no-hitter in progress. With the Padres trailing 1-0, Gomez decides to play for the win instead of letting Kirby finish. The Padres eventually lose both the game and the no-hitter. Gomez would repeat the mistake in 1974 as well.

July 21, 1969, Major League Baseball celebrates the national pastime’s centennial anniversary with a gala banquet at the All-Star Game. The festivities include the announcement of an all-time team. Hall of Famer Babe Ruth is voted the “Greatest All-Time Player.” Another Hall of Famer, Joe DiMaggio, is selected the “Greatest Living Player.”

July 21, 1959, the Boston Red Sox become the last team to debut a black player when Elijah “Pumpsie” Green appears in a game as a pinch-runner and shortstop. Green’s debut with Boston comes 12 years after Jackie Robinson’s historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Events for July 21

Ex-Giant backup 1B/OF Jim Marshall comes off the bench to deliver a particularly gratifying game-ending blow giving the Pirates an extra-inning, walk-off win over San Francisco. 2 for 14 in his previous pinch-hitting assignments for the Bucs, Marshall is sent up to face reliever Bobby Bolin in the bottom of the 11th with the bases filled, one out and the score tied, 6 – 6. Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press reports: “Marshall fouled the first pitch, swung and missed the second, but sent the third toss to deep left. Matty Alou, playing close to make a throw home in case of a short fly, took a few steps backward and then glumly watched the ball fall safely as the fans whooped it up.” Willie Mays’s tape-measure triple in the top of that frame is considerably longer than Marshall’s game-ending blow. Les Biederman again: “The wind changed suddenly in the 11th inning but at the right time for the Pirates. Mays hit a tremendous shot against the right-center wall for a 440-foot triple in the top of the 11th with two out but was stranded. At the time, the wind was blowing to left field. When Mays went to centerfield, he looked up and the wind had shifted to right field. If that happened when he was at bat, Mays’ drive would have cleared the wall.” Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente, collects a double and single and scores two, bringing his hitting streak to 18. Not content with that, he inaugurates another streak, gunning down Willie McCovey at home plate for the second consecutive game.

1971 – Is this Roberto Clemente’s long lost 241st home run? Some spotty official scoring and Dave Giusti’s pyromaniacal 9th-inning relief outing conspire to obscure Clemente’s contributions to the Pirates’ performance. Giusti’s silver platter features an RBI single, a walk to load the bases, a game-tying bases-loaded walk to Willie Mays, and a game-winning grand slam served to the Giants’ Willie McCovey, turning Pittsburgh’s come-from-behind 4 – 2 victory into an ignominious 8 – 4 defeat. This debacle, plus an almost equally dispiriting 10-inning, 8 – 7 defeat tomorrow, will turn out to be a preview of theNational League Championship Series, which will have a very different result. Before Giusti’s meltdown, Clemente’s rope to home plate prevents Dick Dietz from even trying to score from second base on a single. Back in the 7th, with the Giants up by one, Clemente leads off with a vicious line drive back through the box that gets to centerfield in an instant and past Mays before he can get a glove on it, affording Roberto a quick tour of the bases before crossing home plate standing. Scored an error, it’s the subject of some choice post-game Mays commentary, as relayed by Giants beat writer Bob Stevens: “It should have been a home run. The error makes no difference to me and I don’t really care if the ruling’s changed. But I was playing Roberto in right centerfield and I had no chance to catch up to it, it was hit so hard. I guess they gave me an error because they thought I touched it. But it was at least a foot away from my glove when it bounced past me.”


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