Good day everyone, and happy October. The baseball season is getting ready to wrap up, with final playoff jockeying taking shape. Powerhouses like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Phillies, and Dodgers are setting their rotations for the playoffs. Meanwhile, disappointments like the Indians, Cubs, Mets, Royals and many other clubs are trying to determine what exactly went wrong in 2009, and how they can get back into contention in 2010. With the playoffs set to begin, and baseball playoff previews sure to follow this weekend, I just wanted to highlight a couple points in baseball history as we wrap up the month of September.
1927 – Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Tom Zachary to lead the New York Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Senators.
1956 – White Sox hurler Jim Derrington becomes the youngest pitcher in modern history to start a game. He loses to Kansas City 7-6 at the age of 16 years and 10 months.
1980 – A’s outfielder Rickey Henderson sets the American League single-season stolen base record with his 98th in a 5-1 win over the White Sox, breaking Ty Cobb’s record of 96 set in 1915. Henderson ended up finishing the season with 100 stolen bases!
1984 – California Angels pitcher Mike Witt hurled a 1-0 perfect game against the Texas Rangers.
1988 – Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers broke Don Drysdale’s record of 58 consecutive scoreless innings by shutting out San Diego for 10 innings. The Padres won in the 16th inning, 2-1.
1992 – George Brett became the 18th player to get 3,000 hits in the Kansas City Royals’ 4-0 win over the California Angels.
1995 – There were many players that I loved on the dynamic ’95 Indians team that went to the World Series, but at the time, nothing was more exciting than a plate appearance by Albert “Joey” Belle. On this day in 1995, Albert became the first player in MLB history to post 50 homers and 50 doubles in the same season. I actually vividly remember that game, as I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Jacobs Field that day (and still have the ticket stub to prove it). It was a tremendous atmosphere as the postseason was about to begin, and Belle’s unique achievement was the icing on the cake. What made the feat all the more impressive was that Belle only played in 143 games that season due to the season being shortended by the previous season’s players’ strike. To this day, no other player has joined Belle in this unique club. Whether by steroids or corked bats, Belle was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball throughout the mid-1990’s. However, it should also be noted that Belle was also the first player in baseball history to chase down and run over a trick-or-treater in his car after a group of vandals were throwing eggs at his house on Halloween.
2009 – The Indians fire manager Eric Wedge after seven seasons at the helm. With only one postseason on his resume, the “Grinder” became the fall guy for a team that spent most of 2009 in the AL Central’s cellar after being in the ALCS only two years prior. A mostly mild-mannered, soft-spoken manager, Wedge was never overly passionate in the dugout and generally let his team’s play on the field speak for him. The early favorites to replace him are former Tribe pitcher and current Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, former Tribe manager Mike Hargrove, former manager Buck Showalter, and current Indians triple-A manager Torey Lovullo.
Here’s hoping that this year’s MLB playoffs are as exciting as some of those in recent memory. There are a lot of great teams ready to do battle, and it should make for an exciting month of October. Also, a quick shout out must be given to Jack Potts for inspiration on this post.