With great fanfare, Mike Hessman of the Toledo Mud Hens hit his 433rd career minor league home run on August 3, 2015, a towering grand slam that moved him past Pacific Coast League (PCL) legend Buzz Arlett on the all-time leaderboard of Minor League Baseball.
“Charlie Hustle” was back in the news recently, making his case for reinstatement. Pete Rose’s banishment from baseball is a saga that’s well known to most fans—the then-Cincinnati Reds manager agreed to a lifetime ban from Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989 after an investigation revealed that he had bet on his own team for years. His actions cast doubt on the integrity of those games and violated baseball’s cardinal rule against gambling, enacted after the 1919 World Series was tarnished by the Black Sox Scandal.
It’s hard for a perfect game to get overshadowed. For many years, newspaper editors have been known to rip up their front pages and make room for a no-hitter on the other side of the country. But on October 2, 1908, in the midst of a thrilling pennant race that captivated the country like never before, Addie Joss’s historic performance against the Chicago White Sox wasn’t the most important baseball story of the afternoon. You could even make a case that he wasn’t the most dominant pitcher that day at Cleveland’s League Park.
I can tell you so much about the baseball games I’ve attended in my life.
As a big Braves fan who spent most of my formative years growing up near Atlanta, I can tell you that I saw Chipper Jones hit 12 home runs in person, including his first and 45th of his MVP season in 1999. I can tell you that I saw John Smoltz’s first shutout, his 100th save, and the final win of his career (No. 213) in 2009.
When Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out against Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara to end the 2013 World Series, it marked the 19th time that a Fall Classic ended on a strikeout—by far, the most common ending to a World Series.
Late in the evening on Sunday, April 22, 1923, just days before the Chicago White Sox’s home opener, a violent explosion rocked Comiskey Park at 35th Street and Shields Avenue. The blast could be heard more than a mile away, but no injuries were reported—only the destruction of a hot dog concession stand on the sidewalk and shattered office windows above the ballpark’s main entrance.
As soon as Pete Rose lowered his shoulder and crashed into catcher Ray Fosse in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game, baseball fans and writers began celebrating his hard-nosed play that won the game for the National League.
“That’s why Pete Rose earns $100,000 a year for playing baseball,” David Condon wrote in the Chicago Tribune. “It was the type of block that would have made a Kansas City Chiefs tackle blush.”
After Cal Ripken Jr. tied Lou Gehrig’s “unbreakable” record of 2,130 consecutive games played on September 5, 1995, he told reporters, “I’m not in the business of script-writing, but if I were, this would’ve been a pretty good one."
On that Tuesday night in Baltimore, the Baltimore Orioles’ future Hall of Fame shortstop punctuated his record-tying appearance with a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, one of his three hits against the California Angels at Camden Yards.
As if they didn’t have enough on their minds, Chicago White Sox pitchers must have been dismayed to read this banner headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune a few weeks after the 1919 World Series ended:
“COMMY HAS SCHEME TO HINDER FREAK HURLERS”