This Day In Baseball May 20
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for May 20
In a 3-1 National League loss to the White Stockings at Chicago’s Lake Front Park, right-hander Jim McCormick of the Indianapolis Blues becomes the first player born in Scotland to appear in a major league game. Next season, as a 23 year-old, the Glasgow native will manage the team, which will move to Cleveland, making him the youngest skipper in the history of the game.
May 20 – Mike “King” Kelly scores the go-ahead run by cutting short the distance rounding the bases. Kelly doesn’t come close to touching third while the umpire is looking a different direction. Kelly then pulls off the hidden ball trick in the 9th inning to preserve the win for the Chicago White Stockings.
In what will become a precursor of a tragic event, Indian outfielder Tris Speaker is struck on the head by a pitch thrown by Red Sox hurler Carl Mays. The submarine pitcher, who will fatally bean Ray Chapman with a ball in 1920 as a member of the Yankees, denies Speaker’s allegation that the pitch was intentional.
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees hits for the cycle and collects six RBI in a 13 – 2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. DiMaggio hits two home runs, a triple, a double and a single, and narrowly misses another extra-base hit when Chicago left fielder Ralph Hodgin makes a spectacular catch at the wall.
At RFK Stadium, Pilots manager Joe Schultz is ejected for disputing Bernie Allen’s fourth inning ‘foul’ two-run home run that ties the score at 4 in a game his team will eventually lose to Washington, 6-5. According to Jim Bouton’s account in his book, Ball Four, the Seattle skipper is tossed after offering his glasses to the plate umpire Ed Runge.
One big hit, one big drop, two wild pitches and one bad hop are what it takes for Pittsburgh to prevail, 3 – 2, in 14 innings over Philadelphia. The big hit is Roberto Clemente’s 3rd-inning triple, a 440-plus-footer off Forbes Field’s left-centerfield light tower, which drives in Freddie Patek with the tying run. In the 8th, John Briggs drops a fly ball hit by Al Oliver, which allows Matty Alou to score the tying run. Alou will also score the game-winner six innings later, courtesy of two consecutive wild pitches by Dick Selma, the latter featuring the aforementioned bad hop, off the cement beneath the backstop screen, which allows Alou to score the walk-off tally from second.
Martin Dihigo dies in Cienfuegos, Cuba, at the age of 65. Over the course of his career, Dihigo made seamless transitions between all nine positions and played in several countries. As a hitter, he won both batting average and home run titles; as a pitcher, he won more than 250 games and once defeated Satchel Paige while touring Cuba. He will be elected to the American Hall of Fame in 1977 and also was or will be voted into the Cuban, Mexican and Latin American Baseball Hall of Fame.
Phillies southpaw Steve Carlton becomes the second of three major league hurlers this season to surpass Walter Johnson’s career strikeout mark of 3,508 K’s, a record that had survived for 56 years. In April, Nolan Ryan broke the Big Train’s mark, and Gaylord Perry will reach the milestone later in the season. (Ed. Note – Some websites, including the Baseball Hall of Fame, ESPN, and Baseball Reference, differ with the official MLB stats, crediting the Washington Senator legend with 3,509 career strikeouts, with an extra strikeout recorded in his rookie season accounting for the difference – LP).
In a 5-0 loss to San Diego, Phillies southpaw Steve Carlton whiffs four batters to move past Walter Johnson into second place (3,511) on the career all-time strikeout list. ‘Lefty,’ ten K’s behind leader Nolan Ryan, will finish the season in front of the Astros’ right-hander as the all-time career leader with 3,709.
A game between the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers scheduled for Municipal Stadium is postponed due to rain, representing the first rainout of the season. The cancellation marks the latest point that the first rainout of a season has taken place. A record 458 games have been played prior to the initial rainout.
Pete Runnels dies in Pasadena, Texas, at the age of 63. A bright light on otherwise dismal teams, Runnels won two American League batting titles for the Boston Red Sox, was a three-time All-Star, and batted .291 over a 14-year career that also included stints with the Washington Senators and the Houston Colt .45s.
After being released earlier in the month by the Mets for not hustling, Rickey Henderson, in his initial at-bat for the Mariners, hits his record 76th career leadoff home run, a shot off Esteban Yan in the team’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay at Safeco Field. With the round-tripper, the future Hall of Fame outfielder joins Ted Williams and Willie McCovey as the third major leaguer to have homered in four different decades.
A uniform worn by Joe DiMaggio in his final World Series is sold for $195,500 during the second day of an auction of his memorabilia. The previous day, DiMaggio’s 1947 American League MVP Award plaque was sold for $281,750, which included a 15 percent buyer’s premium. It was his third MVP award, but it is the only plaque. The two-day auction features more than 1,000 items of DiMaggio memorabilia, also including a leather-bound album featuring autographs from DiMaggio’s New York Yankees teammates and members of the Boston Red Sox, a typed note signed by Frank Sinatra, and a signed photo of DiMaggio’s one-time wife, Marilyn Monroe. The auction is held by Hunt’s Auctions Inc. in New York City. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.
Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hits a home run in an interleague game against the Oakland Athletics, tying his home run count with that of Babe Ruth at 714. The ball is hit at the McAfee Coliseum against pitcher Brad Halsey, a left-hander. Because of interleague play, Bonds is the designated hitter rather than his normal spot in the outfield.
In interleague play, Josh Beckett hits a solo home run, picks up an RBI single, and pitches seven solid innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Philadelphia Phillies, 8 – 4, at Citizens Bank Park. Because the designated hitter isn’t used in National League parks during interleague play, regular Red Sox DH David Ortiz starts at first base. Beckett posts his third straight win and gives the AL East-leading Boston its 10th victory in 13 games. He also becomes the first Red Sox pitcher to hit a home run since Marty Pattin on September 26, 1972.
Russell Branyan’s two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning boosts the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 4 – 3 victory over the Florida Marlins. It marks Tampa Bay’s second straight victory in its last at-bat. Aubrey Huff was the hero the previous day, clubbing a game-winning solo home run off Yusmeiro Petit to lead off the bottom of the 10th in a 5 – 4 win. This is the eighth time this season the Marlins have lost in their opponents’ final at-bat. Florida has lost four straight games when entering the 9th inning with a lead, tying the major league record set by Tampa Bay in May 2002.
After barreling over fellow catcher Michael Barrett in a play he considered hard but clean, A.J. Pierzynski is surprised when the Cub backstop shows his displeasure by punching him in the face. The incident ignites a bench-clearing brawl between the Windy City rivals that leads to a 15-minute delay and four ejections during the White Sox’ 7-0 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
After a 29 at-bats homerless drought, Barry Bonds finally catches Babe Ruth with his 714th home run. The historic homer, which ties the designated hitter for second place for career round-trippers, comes during the second inning of an interleague contest against the A’s, with the pitch thrown by southpaw Brad Halsey landing in the first deck of the right-center stands of McAfee Coliseum.
Mike Piazza announces his retirement. A 12-time All-Star, Piazza hit .308/.377/.545 in 16 seasons after having been picked in the 62nd round of the amateur draft. He socked 427 home runs, scored 1,048 runs and drove in 1,335 and set the all-time major league record for homers by a catcher. At the time of his retirement, Piazza is 30th in history in slugging, 39th in home runs and 64th in OPS+. Many opine that he is the greatest catcher ever, though others argue the claim, citing Josh Gibson or others.
Houston manager Cecil Cooper presents an incorrect lineup card to umpire Eric Cooper. When leadoff hitter Michael Bourn singles off Yovani Gallardo, Brewers manager Ken Macha objects and the umps call out Kazuo Matsui, who is standing in the on-deck circle, as Bourn batted out of turn. Bourn then returns to the plate, draws a walk and scores on Lance Berkman’s double. Houston wins, 6 – 4, behind the pitching of Wandy Rodriguez.
5/20/2009 – The Brewers were playing in Houston. In the bottom of the first inning, Michael Bourn batted first and singled to right. Brewers manager Ken Macha came out to talk with HP umpire Eric Cooper and pointed out that Kazuo Matsui was listed first on the lineup card. Matsui was called out and it was Bourn’s turn to hit. This time, Bourn walked and scored when Lance Berkman doubled. The Astros won despite the flub, 6-4.
The Braves score a 9th-inning touchdown to overtake the Reds, after trailing 8 – 0 earlier and being down by 6 when the fateful inning starts. After another good start by rookie Mike Leake, reliever Mike Lincoln gives up four consecutive singles to start the 9th, scoring two runs. He is replaced by Nick Masset, who walks Cody Ross to load the bases; Martin Prado follows with a apparent double play grounder, but 3B Miguel Cairo fails to get the ball out of his glove and the score is now 9 – 6. Arthur Rhodes strikes out Jason Heyward for the first out and Francisco Cordero comes out to face pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad. Conrad hits a drive to deep left field which deflects off the glove of Laynce Nix and falls in the stands for a walk-off grand slam. It is only the second time in major league history that a pinch-hit grand slam overcomes a three-run deficit to end a game; the first was on July 8, 1950, by Jack Phillips of the Pirates. Joey Votto also hit a grand slam earlier in the game for the Reds, and Craig Kimbrel earns his first big league win.
Trailing the Reds 9-3 starting the bottom of the ninth, Brooks Conrad’s pinch-hit grand slam gives the Braves an amazing 10-9 walk-off victory at Turner Field. The seven-run frame’s big blow by the 30 year-old journeyman barely clears the fence, with the ball deflecting off Laynce Nix’s glove when the left fielder reaches over the top of the wall at the 380-foot sign.
The Chicago Cubs make their first visit to Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series, but the Red Sox prove to be poor hosts, whacking them, 15 – 5. The Cubs commit 4 errors and give up 19 hits, while the Sox take advantage of the Green Monster to launch 6 doubles and a pair of homers in its direction. Adrian Gonzalez has 4 hits and 4 RBI in the Sox’s 7th straight win.
After being shut out by the Mets in back-to-back games, the Nationals have their biggest offensive game since moving to Washington, DC in 2005. They beat the Orioles, 17 – 5, launching 6 homers. Jayson Werth hits two of the long balls, and Danny Espinosa, who collects 6 RBI, Roger Bernadina, Wilson Ramos and Laynce Nix hit the others. Both the 17 runs and the 6 homers are team marks since the move to the nation’s capital.
With his bench depleted with two outs in the 13th inning, Padres manager Bud Black turns to P Clayton Richard to pinch-hit against the Angels’ David Pauley. Breaking out of an 0-for-16 slump for the season, Richard singles, then scores from first base when LF Howie Kendrick bobbles Will Venable’s hit to give San Diego a 3 – 2 win. Kendrick is also playing in an unfamiliar role, having been moved from his usual 2B after injuries to OFs Vernon Wells and Ryan Langerhans.
Babe Ruth’s circa 1920 jersey sells to an undisclosed buyer for $4,415,658, the largest amount ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia, according to auctionreport.com. The woolen uniform top was probably worn by the Babe during his first season with the Yankees after being traded by Red Sox’s owner Harry Frazee.
Two of the best pitchers so far this season throw complete game three-hitters today. Clayton Kershaw of Los Angeles defeats Milwaukee, 3 – 1, a win that saves manager Don Mattingly’s job at least for now, as the Dodgers have been badly underperforming in spite of splurging on high-salaried players over the past 12 months. Matt Kemp hits his first homer in almost a month and Andre Ethier also homers and adds a triple, but is ejectedby umpire Dan Bellino for arguing a called third strike in the 8th inning. Patrick Corbin also pitches a gem in Coors Field, getting his first career complete game, as Arizona defeats the Rockies, 5 – 1. Corbin is now 7-0 with a 1.44 ERA, which only trails Kershaw’s 1.35 in the National League.
Masahiro Tanaka suffers his first loss in the majors when the Cubs beat the Yankees, 6 – 1, behind Jason Hammel. Tanaka was unbeaten in 42 straight regular season starts, since August 19, 2012, including a perfect 24-0 season in Nippon Pro Baseball in 2013, although he had lost a postseason start during the streak.
Chris Davis has a three-homer day to lead the Orioles to a 9-2 win over the Pirates. The second three-homer game of his career doubles his total for the year, a far cry from his breakout season in 2013 when he hit 9 long balls in April alone on his way to 53, tops in the majors and a Baltimore club record.
At age 55, Julio Franco returns to professional baseball with a 1-for-3 night for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League. Hired for the Cats’ current homestand as a player-coach, Franco has now played in five decades, having started in the minor leagues in 1978 until his retirement in 2008.
Mike Hessman of the Toledo Mud Hens connects for his 400th minor league homer, against Scott Diamond of the Rochester Red Wings in an International League contest. Hessman is only the 8th player to reach the mark, and the 4th to do it entirely in U.S.-based leagues, as the top four minor league home run hitters of all time all spent the bulk of their career in Mexico.
Rookie Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals ties Aroldis Chapman’s record for the fastest pitch ever recorded by pumping a couple of fastballs at 105 mph while facing Odubel Herrera of the Phillies. The first one goes for a ball, and Herrera manages to foul off the second before striking out on a pitched timed at 103.7 mph.
Two players manage a very rare feat for the Reno Aces in a Pacific Coast League game against the Tacoma Rainiers: Matt Szczur becomes the fourth player in team history to hit for the cycle, while Yasmany Tomas has a four-homer game in a 25 – 8 win. The two feats have been achieved simultaneously only once before in baseball history, when Lou Gehrig hit four homers and Tony Lazzeri hit for the cycle on June 3, 1932 in a 20 – 13 win over the Athletics.
1988 – Billy Hatcher delivers five hits during a 5-3 triumph in St. Louis. His last one snaps a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth, driving in Terry Puhl. Bob Knepper picks up his sixth win – lowering his ERA to 0.89 for the season. The two sides commit seven errors and even Cardinal wizard Ozzie Smith is not immune.
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