This Day In Baseball May 4
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for May 4
A National Association contest between the Cleveland Forest Citys and Fort Wayne Kekiongas is officially the first Major League game ever played. Fort Wayne is the winner, 2 – 0, behind a four-hit shutout by pitcher Bobby Mathews. Al Pratt is the losing pitcher. Cleveland’s catcher, Deacon White, is 3 for 4, including the first hit (a double) and also is the first to hit into a double play. Bill Lennon becomes the first catcher to throw a runner out trying to steal second base. In the 127 games during the 1871 season, there are a total of four shutouts.
Fred Brown makes his major league debut, his first appearance of a brief nine-game career, all for the Boston Beaneaters over two seasons. The 22 year-old outfielder, who goes 4-for-20 at the plate without making an error in the field, will enjoy a far more extended career as a politician, winning a Senate seat as a Democrat in then-conservative New Hampshire 1932 after serving as the state’s governor.
President William H. Taft leaves Robinson Park, where the Cardinals are routing the Reds, to catch a great pitching duel between the Naps’ Cy Young and the Browns’ Joe Lake at Sportsman’s Park. The chief executive will stay to the last out of the American League contest, which ends in a three-to-three tie after 14 innings of play.
“Clemente’s Brilliant Catch in 9th Kills Rally by Braves.” So reads the New York Times headline but that’s not the whole story. Clemente’s game-ending circus catch not only secures Pittsburgh’s 5 – 4 victory, it also bails out the main protagonist after his errant throw put the tying and go-ahead runs on 2nd and 3rd base. And who should walk to the plate at this moment but George Crowe, Clemente’s teammate and fellow Caribbean Champion with the Santurce Crabbers just three months earlier. As the Milwaukee Journal tells it: “Crowe, who had replaced the slump-ridden Joe Adcock at first base, pasted the ball against the remote grandstand not far from the right field foul line, only to have young Roberto Clemente race over and time his leap perfectly as he scraped the ball off the wall with his gloved hand.”
The first reported use of the familiar refrain “Let’s Go Mets” is heard at the Polo Grounds in the bottom of the ninth inning during a rout by San Francisco. With the Amazins’ trailing by 13 runs and down to their last out with no one on base, the rallying cry begins to be chanted by some of the ‘New Breed,’ the affectionate name given the fans of the National League expansion team.
Roberto’s Revenge: Old Testament Style – Donn Clendenon and Roberto Clemente combine to give Don Drysdale a taste of his own medicine (perhaps taking Orlando Cepeda’s adage – “the trick with Drysdale is to hit him before he hits you” – a tad literally). Dodger beat writer Frank Finch reports: “Before Drysdale retired, he took a physical pounding from the Pirates. Clemente’s third hit almost tore Don’s right hand off, and later in the same inning Donn Clendenon’s drive drilled Drysdale on the shins so hard that it bounced to first base, where Wes Parker made an easy put-out.”
Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Otto Vélez hits four home runs in a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians at Exhibition Stadium. In the first game, he hits a grand slamin the 1st inning, followed by a two-run homer in the 8th, and a game-winning solo shot in the 10th. In the following contest, he clubs a three-run home run in the 1st inning. Overall, he has 10 RBI for the day.
5/4/1980 – The Dodgers were visiting Philadelphia and the top of the first inning was not Dallas Green’s best day on the way to the World Series championship. Davey Lopes singled and Rudy Law reached on an infield error. After Reggie Smith popped out, Law stole second base. Steve Garvey reached on an infield single, scoring the first run of the game. Dusty Baker then hit into a force out leaving runners on first and third but had batted out of turn. Green came out and pointed out the fact that the proper batter had not hit. Thus Ron Cey was called out, the runners restored to their previous bases and Baker batted again. This time he hit a three-run homer to left. Green now was very upset saying that Baker should not have batted believing according to newspaper accounts that Baker’s force out should count and Cey should be ruled out . He was ejected from the game and protested the game. The protest was denied as the rules were followed correctly. The incorrect decision was Green’s when he did not take the out on Baker’s first trip to the plate. The Dodgers eventually won the game 12-10.
Jose Cruz’s three-run home run in the first inning proves to be the difference in the Astros’ 5-4 win over the Chicago. The Houston left fielder’s brother, Hector, homers for the Cubs in the sixth frame of the Wrigley Field contest, making the natives of Arroyo, Puerto Rico the tenth different pair of siblings to go deep in the same game.
Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, en route to baseball’s all-time mark for consecutive games played, breaks Brooks Robinson’s club record when he plays in his 464th consecutive contest. The Orioles shortstop marks the occasion by hitting a double and a home run in the BIrds’ 8-6 loss to Minnesota at the Metrodome.
After 6,136 at bats without a bases-loaded homer, Mark Grace hits his first career grand slam in the Cubs’ 12-11 victory over Colorado at Wrigley Field. The Chicago first baseman’s accomplishment now leaves Reds’ shortstop Barry Larkin as the active player with the longest drought with the bases juiced, a span of 5,817 at-bats.
Doug Glanville collects five hits in a game for the second time in his career in the Phillies’ 14-1 pounding of Cincinnati at Veterans Stadium. The Philadelphia outfielder’s first hit, a lead-off two-bagger, is the first of four consecutive doubles hit in the bottom of the first frame to start the game, tying a major league record.
With the team’s new owners looking on, the groundbreaking ceremony takes place for the new ballpark the Washington Nationals hope to play in at the start of the 2008 season. Theodore Lerner, head of the new ownership group chosen by MLB yesterday to buy the team, has already thought of changes for the $611 million neighborhood ballpark.
The Dodgers defeat Arizona, 7 – 2, for their 11th straight home victory, setting a National League record for most consecutive wins at home to start a season. Manny Ramirez homers and drives in three runs, while Eric Stults picks up the win. Arizona pulls off the second triple play in franchise history in the 2nd, but to no avail.
Ernie Harwell, one of the greatest broadcasters in baseball history, dies at the age of 92 after a year-long bout with cancer. He was the radio and television voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, retiring from the booth in 2002. He received the Ford Frick Award in 1981 and was a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
Philadelphia police use a taser gun to subdue a 17-year-old fan who runs onto the field in the 8th inning of a game between the Phillies and Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. The police justify the use of the controversial weapon by pointing to injuries sustained during previous similar incidents, most notoriously when two fans assaulted Kansas City first base coach Tom Gamboa in Chicago in 2002. Criticized for having used excessive force, the Phillies announce a day later that from now on, they will call for police assistance only if team security is unable to handle a situation by itself. The Phillies win the game, 2 – 1, on a 10th-inning walk-off home run by Carlos Ruiz.
During the seventh-inning stretch in a game against Detroit, the fans honor Ernie Harwell with a standing ovation upon hearing of the broadcasting icon’s death. In September, the 92 year-old Hall of Fame announcer, who started his major league career with Brooklyn in 1948 and spent 42 years broadcasting Tiger games, shared with the public of diagnosis with inoperable cancer of the bile duct.
“He brings out the best in his players and exemplifies what the sport of baseball is supposed to be about — hustle, grit, loyalty and determination.” – U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), praising Braves’ manager Bobby CoxAt the United States Capitol, Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) present Bobby Cox framed copies of their statements submitted into the Congressional Record on April 20 honoring the Braves’ skipper. The 68 year-old skipper has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season, after 51 seasons in professional baseball.
Zack Greinke finally makes his debut with the Brewers after being sidelined by a broken rib sustained in the off-season, but his opponent on the mound, Tim Hudson, steals the show in the Braves’ 8 – 0 win, pitching a one-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader. The Braves also win the first game, 8 – 3, as Nate McLouth reaches bases in all 8 of his plate appearances on the day, going 5 for 5 with three walks and a homer in the two games.
Tim Lincecum has a good night in shutting out the Mets, 2 – 0, at Citi Field. He fans 12 batters in 7 innings for the 29th double-digit strikeout game of his career. That total is the most ever by a Giants pitcher, overtaking Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson who set the previous mark back in the days the franchise played in New York.
Henderson Alvarez throws his first career shutout for the Blue Jays, defeating the Angels, 4 – 0. It comes one day after teammate Brandon Morrow shut out Los Angeles on a three-hitter, the first back-to-back complete game shutouts by Blue Jay pitchers since Jack Morris and Al Leiter in their last World Series-winning season, in 1993. For his part, Ervin Santana falls to 0-6 for the struggling Angels. The Angels have failed to score in Santana’s last five starts, setting a major league record for poor run support.
41-year-old Shinya Miyamoto gets his 2,000th hit in Nippon Pro Baseball, the 40th player to reach that plateau but the second in a week (following Atsunori Inaba by 6 days). Oddly, both Inaba and Miyamoto reach 2,000 in their 1,976th game. Miyamoto passes Hiromitsu Ochiai as the oldest player to reach 2,000, the figure needed to join the meikyukai. Miyamoto’s hit comes off Yuya Fukui and his Yakult Swallows top the Hiroshima Carp, 8 – 4.
An anonymous bidder pays $418,250 for the baseball hit by Mookie Wilson that rolled through the legs of Bill Buckner, allowing the Mets to cap a two-out rally with a 6-5 walk-off victory in the tenth inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The historic horsehide was the centerpiece of memorabilia being offered by Heritage Auctions from the collection of Los Angeles songwriter Seth Swirsky, which also included Reggie Jackson’s third home run ball from Game 6 of the 1977 Fall Classic ($65,725), the Ranger cap that Jose Canseco was wearing in 1993 when a ball bounced off his head over the wall for a homer ($11,950), and a 1965 baseball signed by the Beatles from the Shea Stadium concert ($65,725).
20-year-old Jose Fernandez gives up only a hit and no runs in 7 innings as the Marlins defeat the Phillies, 2 – 0. Marcell Ozuna and Chris Valaika homer in support of the youngster, Ozuna’s being the first long ball of his career, while Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek add a hitless inning each. The combined one-hit shutout is Fernandez’s first win.
En route to his first major league win, Marlin rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez hurls one-hit ball, striking out nine in the team’s 2-0 victory over Philadelphia. Mike Dunn’s perfect eighth and closer Steve Cishek save follows the 20 year-old’s superb seven-inning outing to preserve the one-hitter at Citizens Bank Park.
Four Dodgers pitchers combine to throw the first no-hitter ever pitched outside the United States or Canada. In a game played at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Walker Buehler pitches six no-hit innings and is followed on the mound by Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore who toss a hitless inning each to complete the feat. The Dodgers defeat the Padres, 4 – 0.
2018 – Gerrit Cole spins a 1-hit complete game shutout at Arizona in interleague play, 8-0, while striking out 16. Chris Owings breaks up the no-hit bid with a clean double in the fifth. Yuli Gurriel paces the offense with four hits while Carlos Correa doubles twice and drives in three. The 21-13 squad is tied with Anaheim for the division lead.
The longest game in the history of Miller Park goes 18 innings before Ryan Braun ends it by driving the winning run with his 6th hit of the night. A two-run single with one out in the 18th gives the Brewers and 4 – 3 win over the Mets. Braun outhits all of his teammates, given Milwaukee only tallies 11 safeties as a team; in the winning rally, the Mets’ Chris Flexen walks the bases loaded before facing Braun.
2001 – Craig Biggio collects his 2,000th career hit during an 8-4 victory in Montreal. It’s an infield single off Javier Vasquez. He later singles before Jeff Bagwell belts a disputed three-run shot in the fifth to open the scoring. Wade Miller, named NL Pitcher of the Month for April, picks up his fifth win.
1975 – Bob Watson scores baseball’s millionth run in the first game of a doubleheader split in San Francisco. Despite Milt May’s homer, Watson runs full speed around the bases, edging Cincinnati’s Dave Concepcion for the milestone moment . Watson should have given lessons about finding home plate. A record 41 walks are issued in the twinbill, with an league-record 26 coming in the nightcap which Houston pulls out, 12-8. J.R. Richard walks a club-record eleven batters in the second game.