This Day In Baseball May 21
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for May 21
1901 – Giants fractious owner Andrew Freedman accuses umpire Billy Nash of incompetence and bars him from the Polo Grounds. The Pirates’ Chief Zimmer and the Giants’ John Warner are forced to officiate. Christy Mathewson then wins his 7th straight, 2 – 1, but his scoreless streak stops at 39 innings when the Bucs score an unearned run in the 9th.
1904 – Boston Americans SS Bill O’Neill puts himself in the record books by committing six errors in a 13-inning, 5 – 3 loss to the Browns. O’Neill makes errors in the 1st inning on the first three balls hit to him, and a fourth straight error with a misplay in the 2nd frame. His final error is on an easy grounder in the 13th inning and allows two runs to score. O’Neill is the only 20th century player to record six errors.
Three-Finger Brown and Christy Mathewson hook up in a pitching duel, with the Chicago ace emerging the winner, 3 – 2. Matty’s batterymate Roger Bresnahan commits two errors to cause Mathewson to lose his first of the year. Mobbed at the Polo Grounds after the loss, umpires Hank O’Day and Bob Emslie require police protection. The crowd is egged on by manager John McGraw, who will be thrown out of games seven times this year.
The Giants take over first place with a 4 – 3 win over the Pirates behind the pitching of Big Jeff Tesreau and the favorable umpiring of Kitty Bransfield. Tesreau allows just two hits through eight innings before weakening in the 9th. Kitty makes an out call in the 9th on a grounder that 3B Doug Baird clearly appears to beat, and in the 2nd inning ignores Art Fletcher’s failure to return to third base before scoring on a sacrifice fly. Fletcher had taken a 15-foot lead.
White Sox 1B Earl Sheely hits three doubles and a home run at Boston, following three doubles in his last three at bats yesterday. His seven straight extra-base hits tie the major league record. Chicago needs all of his hitting as they edge the Red Sox, 8 – 7, after the previous day’s 13 – 4 victory.
The Cubs move into first place in the National League when a 9-run 9th inning gives them a 11 – 6 win and doubleheader sweep at Brooklyn. Chicago takes the opener, 6 – 4. For the second day in a row, a disputed call – this one by Frank Wilson – causes fans to stop the game. Meanwhile, the Pirates are beating New York for the third straight game, 5 – 3.
Babe Ruth hits three consecutive home runs in the first game of a doubleheader against the A’s, then batting against Jack Quinn in the 9th, Ruth decides to hit right-handed. After two strikes, he switches to lefty but strikes out. This is the first of two career three-homer games for the Babe. Max Bishop draws five walks for the second time in his career (he is the only player to do this twice), and Jimmie Foxx homers to help the A’s to a 15 – 7 victory. Ruth is homerless in the second game, a 4 – 1 Yankee loss, but Bishop has three more walks. Bishop will also walk eight times in a doubleheader in 1934, the only player to collect more than six walks in an afternoon.
After hitting three consecutive home runs, his first three-homer performance in a regular season game, Babe Ruth decides to bat from the opposite side (right-handed) in the ninth inning. After two quick strikes, the 35 year-old ‘Sultan of Swat’ crosses the plate to bat lefty, but A’s hurler Jack Quinn still strikes out the Bambino in Philadelphia’s 15-7 rout of the Yankees at Shibe Park.
Before 60,000 at Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Bombers roll over Washington, 14 – 2 and 8 – 0. Washington collects just 11 hits off Herb Pennock and Johnny Allen. In the opener, Babe Ruth homers in the 5th off Lloyd Brown and he and Lou Gehrig connect in the 6th off Frank Ragland. Tony Lazzeri is 6 for 7 on the afternoon, including a home run, two doubles and a triple.
Jimmie Foxx hits a grand slam for the second day in a row against Detroit in an 11 – 8 Red Sox win. Only Babe Ruth, twice, and Bill Dickey have slammed on consecutive days in the American League. Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Doc Cramer also homer for Boston. Hank Greenberg and Rudy York homer for the Bengals, while Wally Moses has a pair of triples and two singles.
Ralph Kiner’s historic 475-foot triple highlights Pittsburgh’s counter-intuitive twin bill sweep of the struggling Giants (incidentally elevating the cellar-bound Bucs to an unaccustomed and short-lived .500 record). Notwithstanding its adverse effect on their team, the Polo Grounds faithful are emphatic in their approval, moving Pittsburgh Press beat writer Les Biederman to observe: “The 34,972 fans never had seen anything like this Kiner liner, and when the slugger scored a moment later the customers arose to shower him with applause. As he went to left field after the inning, the fans there responded again.”
After leadoff batter Billy Cox grounds out against Ewell Blackwell, the Whip loses his snap. The Dodgers then score 15 runs in the 1st inning as a record 19 consecutive batters reach first base (10 hits, 7 walks and two hit batters). Captain Pee Wee Reese walks twice in reaching base safely three times. Andy Pafko is thrown out trying to steal third base, and Duke Snider mercifully strikes out to end the barrage against the Reds. The Dodgers score 15 runs on 15 RBIs in the frame, and coast at home, 19 – 1. Winning pitcher Chris Van Cuyk has the most hits with four – two in the 1st inning off Bud Byerly and Frank Smith, while Bobby Morgan has a pair of two-run homers and Snider another two-run homer. The Reds’ lone run is a homer by reserve catcher Dixie Howell.
Joe Nuxhall, best known for signing with Cincinnati in 1944 after obtaining the permission of his parents and high school principal, returns to the Reds seven years after pitching two-thirds of an inning in his major league debut as a 15 year-old. The southpaw gives up just one hit in the final three frames of the team’s 19-1 loss to Brooklyn at Ebbets Field.
At Fenway Park, Bosox C Del Wilber hits his third pinch-homer of the year, this one a 14th-inning solo homer to beat reliever Don Larsen and the Browns, 3 – 2. Former Red Sox player Don Lenhardt takes Hal Browndowntown with a shot to center field just left of the flag pole and the last upright of the screen.
In a game marked by a fight between Mickey McDermott and Jackie Jensen, the Senators top the Red Sox, 1 – 0, in 12 innings. In the 12th, Jensen is trapped off first base but his way back to the bag is obstructed by first baseman Mickey Vernon; it is called by second base umpire Ed Runge, but he makes no gestures and Jensen continues back to first. McDermott, waiting to put the tag on, is knocked over by Jensen, and Hank Soar calls the runner out. Soar is overruled and then the fight starts between Jensen and the pitcher and both are tossed. Pedro Ramos, who succeeds McDermott, draws a walk and scores the winning run.
After defending MVP Willie Mays opens the scoring with a 1st-inning single, his recent pupil, Pittsburgh’s rookie phenom Roberto Clemente, leads off the bottom of the frame by launching homer #3 off Sal Maglie, a rocket to left center that, according to Rud Rennie of the New York Times, touches down some unspecified distance beyond “the ivy-clad left-centerfield wall to the right of the 406-foot mark.” While the Giants untie the game with a two-run 4th, Maglie is busy shutting down the Bucs, allowing only two runners to reach second base until running out of gas in the 9th. He leaves the game with two on, two out and New York ahead, 3 – 2. Clemente then faces reliever Marv Grissom, who saves the win. Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press writes: “Clemente went after Grissom’s first pitch and lined it to Mays, who made the difficult catch seem easy and the fans who had congregated in the aisles left muttering and shaking their heads.”
For his part in the Copacabana incident, Yankee OF Hank Bauer is arraigned. He is eventually cleared and threatens to sue the alleged victim, Edward Jones, who suffered a concussion and a broken jaw. In today’s game, Yogi Berra, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford are benched, while Bauer bats 8th. Mickey Mantle has a single, two walks, and a homer to back Bob Turley’s four-hit, 3 – 0 shutout over the A’s. Turley helps his cause by starting a triple play. The Yanks now trail the White Sox by a half game.
Despite growing pressure to expand, major league owners, at a meeting at John Galbreath’s farm in Ohio, decline the option to add new teams to the existing American and National Leagues. Given there are no plans for expansion, Commissioner Ford Frick will announce at a later date that Major League Baseball will “favorably consider an application for major league status within the present baseball structure by an acceptable group of eight clubs which would qualify under ten specifications.”
At a meeting at John Galbreath’s Ohio farm, in the face of growing pressure to expand, baseball owners decline to add new teams to the major leagues. Given the lack of plans for expansion, Commissioner Ford Frick, at a later date, will announce that MLB will ”favorably consider an application for major league status within the present baseball structure by an acceptable group of eight clubs which would qualify under ten specifications.”
A generous Mel Stottlemyre hands out 11 walks to Washington in 8 1/3 innings, but the Senators are unable to score. Steve Hamilton gets the last two outs to preserve the 2 – 0 win. The 11 walks in a shutout ties Lefty Gomez, who did complete his 1941 shutout. Danny Cater’s two-run homer in the 5th accounts for the scoring off Dick Such, making his first major league start.
In what is billed as the greatest college pitching duel ever, in the first round of the NCAA, Yale’s Ron Darling and St. John’s Frank Viola match zeroes through 11 innings. Darling allows no hits while striking out 16. In the 12th, St. John’s Steve Scafa hits an opposite-field scratch single, then steals second base and third base. The next batter reaches on an error and, when he tries to steal second, Scafa breaks for home, scoring the only run. St. John’s wins, 1 – 0.
In the first round of the Northeast Regional in the NCAA Tournament at New Haven’s Yale Field, future major leaguers Ron Darling and St. John’s Frank Viola hook up in what many believe to be the greatest college baseball game ever played. After being held hitless for eleven innings by the Bulldogs, the visiting Redmen score the lone run of the contest on a double steal in the top of the 12th inning after both hurlers had thrown 11 scoreless innings.
Four members of the California Angels, including manager Buck Rodgers, are hospitalized after the bus carrying the team swerves into a row of trees off the New Jersey Turnpike. Rodgers, the most seriously injured, incurs a broken right rib, left knee and right elbow. John Wathan takes over the team as interim manager.
5/21/1994 – The Reds worked with two different lineups in this game. The official version had Brian Dorsett hitting seventh and Bret Boone eighth. However, the lineup posted in the dugout reversed them. Boone led off the bottom of the second out of order by grounding out. Then Dorsett walked, also out of order. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda talked with umpire Jerry Crawford. Dorsett was told to return to the dugout and pitcher John Roper, the ninth hitter, was ruled out. Reds manager Dave Johnson protested because he did not understand the rules. He thought Dorsett was out and Roper should bat. He did, however, take the blame for the mix-up. Lasorda protested for the same reason: lack of understanding. He thought that Boone should have been the next batter. The umpires ruled this situation correctly and Roper was given a time at bat with an automatic putout for the catcher. Lasorda eventually dropped his protest as the Dodgers won, 6-4.
In San Francisco, the fans and players ignore a light earthquake at 3Com Park – 4.8 on the Richter scale – in the 3rd inning, and the Giants break a 6th-inning tie to win, 8 – 5, over the Expos. Matt Williams hits his 11th home run and drives in three runs for San Francisco, while Henry Rodriguez hits his 17th homer for the Expos. His three ribbies give him 51 to lead the National League.
In a 12 – 10 defeat of the Pirates, Larry Walker sets a Rockies club record with 13 total bases. The right fielder drives in a six runs with a pair of two-run homers, a triple and a double. Colorado tallies 20 hits. The following day, Walker will get a double and consecutive triples to set a new National League record by getting extra-base hits in six straight plate appearances. He will also tie the major league record for most extra-base hits (seven) in two consecutive games.
At Fenway Park, Seattle pounds out 19 hits to beat Boston, 13 – 7. Ken Griffey, Jr. becomes the 7th-youngest player to collect 200 homers when he connects in the M’s six-run 4th inning. Jay Buhner hits a two-run shot in the inning, the 5th game in a row he’s connected, and Edgar Martinez adds four hits in the game.
The Phils’ Terry Mulholland defeats the Padres, 5 – 4. Mulholland, who entered the game with the third-lowest batting average in history of any player with 400 at bats, clouts a 407-foot home run in the 2nd inning off Sean Bergman. As Mulholland explains, “Most great power hitters don’t hit for a high average.”
The Giants score 11 runs in the 6th inning on their way to a 16 – 10 win over the Brewers. OF Terrell Lowery collects five hits for San Francisco, including three doubles. Starter Russ Ortiz is the winner, allowing 10 earned runs, the most earned runs in a win since Bob Friend, in 1954. The last pitcher to notch a win and give up 10 runs (9 earned) was Vida Blue against the Padres on April 19, 1979. The Giants are the second team to score 11 runs in an inning this year. Earlier this season, the White Sox dropped 11 runs against the Mariners in one inning.
The Devil Rays defeat the Mariners, 1 – 0, behind Joe Kennedy’s four-hitter. The contest ends Tampa Bay’s streak of 194 consecutive games without a complete game. Kennedy’s only misplay is an error on a bad throw; Kennedy will make 10 errors on 41 chances this year to lead major league pitchers in miscues.
As Dae-Sung Koo stands in against Randy Johnson, Mike Piazza confides to David Wright in the dugout, “If he gets a hit, I’ll donate a million dollars to charity.” The Korean reliever, batting lefty off the Yankee fire-balling southpaw, was afraid to stand in the batter’s box in a previous game, but promptly hits a 91-mph fastball to the wall in center for a double, causing the Mets catcher to say he will be making a significant donation to a charity over the next 20 years.
Before their interleague game with the Athletics, the Giants pay homage to Juan Marichal by dedicating a nine-foot bronze statue outside SBC Park. The “Dominican Dandy”, who hurled for San Francisco from 1960 to 1973, joins Willie Mays and Willie McCovey as former players to have statues made in their honor in the city.
At the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers establish two team records when the club hits four homers in one inning and goes yard a total of eight times, routing the Astros, 18-3, in a Lone Star interleague game. Rod Barajas, Hank Blalock, Laynce Nix, and Mark Teixeira all go deep in the team’s eight-run second inning, with Kevin Mench, Richard Hidalgo, and David Dellucci, who connects twice, also contributing to the franchise mark.
When Dae-Sung Koo bats against Randy Johnson, Mike Piazza confides to David Wright in the dugout, “If he gets a hit, I’ll donate a million dollars to charity.” The Korean reliever, batting lefty off the Yankee fire-balling southpaw and who was afraid to stand in the batter’s box in a previous game, promptly hits a 91-mph fastball to the wall in center for a double, causing the Mets catcher to remark he’ll be making a significant donation to a charity over the next 20 years.
5/21/2008: For the second time in four days Yankee Stadium was the site of an incorrect HR call by the umpires. After having homered in the third, in the bottom of the sixth Alex Rodriguez hit of line shot to right center off of Lance Cormier that cleared the fence, but bounced back into the field off of a set of stairs above the fence painted yellow. Orioles right field Nick Markakis played the ball and threw to second where Rodriguez was standing. Immediately after the play, Rodriguez pointed to the stairs and said the ball had hit there. After a brief consultation the umpires ruled the ball had bounced back from the top of the fence, so the hit became a double. However, replays showed the ball cleared the fence by a couple of feet.
“It’s been a lot of negative stuff going on around here and I’ve been feeling some of that and I was just expressing how I felt at the time, but it wasn’t anything to do with race. I wasn’t trying to bring race into it. I probably should have thought more about what I was going to say.” – Mets manager Willie Randolph. Willie Randolph apologizes for his negative remarks concerning SNY’s coverage of him as the Mets skipper. The first black major league manager hired in New York had brought up race when asked about the way he is being portrayed by the team’s TV network.
Jeanmar Gomez throws a 3 – 0 perfect game for the Akron Aeros against the Trenton Thunder in Trenton. Damaso Espino is the batterymate for the Eastern League gem. It is the first perfect game in Aeros history and the first that Trenton is ever involved in. It is the first minor league perfecto since Guillermo Moscoso performed the feat in 2007. The game is saved by a diving catch by OF Matt McBride in the 9th inning.
Joba Chamberlain is knocked out of the game in the 1st inning with a bruised right knee after being hit by a line drive off the bat of Adam Jones. The Yankees still defeat the Orioles, 7 – 4, as Robinson Cano drives in three runs. Alfredo Aceves pitches 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Chamberlain to earn the Bronx Bombers’ 9th straight win.
The San Diego Padres acquire outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Jody Gerut. Gwynn, who has struggled to stay on a major league roster since making his debut in 2006, joins the team for which his father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, played his entire career and which retired his uniform number 19. Gerut revived his career with a solid season as the Padres’ centerfielder in 2008.
The letter “I” on the Big Mac Land sign at Busch Stadium is knocked out by Albert Pujols’s first-inning blast off Sean Marshall in the Cardinals’ 3-1 victory over Chicago. During any game, if a Cardinal player hits a home run into Big Mac Land, built in the left field stands (section 272) as a tribute to Mark McGwire, everyone at the game is entitled to redeem their ticket for a free Big Mac at all participating restaurants in the fast food chain.
Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt vents his frustration about pitching in front of the worst offense in the major leagues, saying he is willing to waive his no-trade clause. With the team headed for a third straight losing season, Oswalt has a sparkling 2.66 ERA but is only 2-6 because of the lack of support. In today’s game, Houston scores only two runs, but still tops the major league-leading Tampa Bay Rays, 2 – 1, thanks to a stellar start by Brett Myers. Oswalt will be traded to Philadelphia later this season.
The Blue Jays blast six home runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but they’re all solo shots. They lose, 8 – 6, wasting a three-homer effort by Edwin Encarnacion; Fred Lewis also leads off the contest with a long ball, to no avail. Since 1920, only one other team has scored six runs, all on solo homers, in a game: the Athletics in 1991.
Wearing the uniforms from the 1918 World Series, the Cubs score 8 runs in the 8th inning, taking advantage of three Boston errors, to win, 9 – 3, at Fenway Park. Two of the runs score on a botched rundown of Alfonso Soriano, which acounts for two of the miscues. Losing P Matt Albers gives up 6 runs without retiring a batter. The game is marred by an injury to Cubs CF Marlon Byrd, who suffers multiple fractures when beaned by Alfredo Aceves.
P Mike Leake hits his first career homer, Drew Stubbs hits a pair, and Zack Cozart adds a fourth solo shot off Mike Minor to power the Reds to a 4 – 1 win over the Braves. Juan Francisco also homers against his former teammates to account for the game’s other run, as Leake picks up his first win after starting the year 0-5. One supremely lucky fan, Caleb Lloyd, sitting in the right field bleachers at Great American Ballpark, catches Leake’s home run ball, and then catches Cozart’s as well when he goes yard back-to-back, to become an instant folk hero. Stubbs also follows with a homer, but that ball eludes the great Caleb’s grasp.
Cincinnati fan Caleb Lloyd catches both home run balls hit in consecutive at-bats, just three pitches apart, by starter Mike Leake and shortstop Zack Cozart during the fourth inning of the Reds’ 4-1 victory over Atlanta at Great American Ball Park. The 20 year-old Thomas More College junior keeps neither as he gives the infielder’s ball to Nick Rise, a friend who had helped get the tickets to the game, and, at the request of the Reds, gives the pitcher, who hit his first career round-tripper, the other in exchange for a tour of the Reds’ clubhouse and an autographed bat and ball signed by the grateful hurler.
On the other end of the success scale, Dusty Robinson goes 0 for 8 with 7 strikeouts for the Stockton Ports of the California League in his team’s 11 – 9 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm. Pitcher Wade Kirkland hits a walk-off two-run homer to end the game. Robinson is the first player to strike out seven times in a game since Russ Laribee did so in the longest game in Organized Baseball history on April 18, 1981; Laribee needed 12 plate appearances over 33 innings to accumulate all of those Ks, however.
What does the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija have to do to get a win? Today, the major leagues’ ERA leader pitches 7 scoreless innings, but Hector Rondon blows a 2 – 0 9th-inning lead against the Yankees to send the game into extra innings. In the 13th, Yankees pitcher Preston Claiborne lays down a perfect sacrifice bunt in his first major league plate appearance as part of a two-run rally, Jose Veras throws a wild pitch to let in a first run and back-up catcher John Ryan Murphy drives in another with a single as the Bronx Bombers end up on top, 4 – 2. Samardzija is 0-4 in spite of a 1.46 ERA.
More evidence that good pitching is sometimes not enough: five Rays pitchers give up only a single hit to the A’s, but Oakland still wins, 3 – 2. The A’s score two runs on two walks and two errors in the 2nd, and Brandon Moss goes deep in the 4th for their lone safety. Erik Bedard is the unlucky loser, against Tommy Milone.
The A’s manage only one hit, a fourth-inning solo home run from Brandon Moss, but it is enough to beat Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field, 3-2, for their fifth straight and 11th victory in its past 12 games. Oakland is the first American League team to win with a home run as its only hit since Jim Thome’s solo shot in 2006 gave the White Sox a 1-0 victory over the Cardinals at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Brewers’ Will Smith is ejected for having rosin and sunscreen on his forearm in the 7th inning of Milwaukee’s 10 – 1 loss to the Braves. Smith explains that he simply forgot to wipe off his arm before leaving the bullpen when called into the game. He will receive an eight-game suspension as well. The Braves are only up 2 – 1 when Smith gets thrown out, but the Braves tee up against his successors, Neal Cotts and Michael Blazek, to run away with the game.
Baseball has a new phenom as 19-year-old Juan Soto of the Nationals, making his first start ever in the outfield after striking out as a pinch-hitter in his debut the day before, crushes the first pitch he sees from Robbie Erlin of the Padres for a three-run homer. He goes 2-for-4 in 10 – 2 win by Washington. He is the first teenager to homer since teammate Bryce Harper did so in his rookie year in 2012.
2010 – On the day it’s announced that ace pitcher Roy Oswalt is asking to be traded, the last-place Astros nip the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1, as Brett Myers scatters six hits over seven innings. The Rays have the best record in baseball while the 15-27 Astros have the National League’s worst mark. Oswalt has a 2-6 record despite a 2.66 ERA.
1965 – Two nights after manager Luman Harris had been ejected by umpire John Kibler, Bob Aspromonte is ejected by Kibler after a tag call at third base. Bill Giles, the Dome’s scoreboard operator, splashes the words “KIBLER DID IT AGAIN” on the big board. This led to an apology to the umpires and to Warren Giles, Bill’s father and president of the league. Pitcher Ron Herbel of the Giants also gets the first hit of his career after going oh-for-55 in the 8-1 San Francisco decision. Herbel retired with an .029 batting average in nine seasons.