July 11th in baseball history: Ruth's first game

The Babe's debut

Babe RuthBOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS | JULY 11, 1914 - A 19-year old kid by the name of George Herman Ruth made his major league debut on this date in 1914. Babe Ruth was the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Naps (current Indians). He won the game 4-3.

The Red Sox purchased the Babe from the Baltimore Orioles of the International League two days before.

Ruth didn't astonish the fans that first season. He made 4 appearances as a pitcher, three as a starter, finishing with a record of 2-1 and ERA of 5.67. He came to bat ten times, had two hits for a .200 batting average, 2 RBI, 1 run scored and struck out 4 times.

It didn't take long for Ruth to show star quality, though. He won 78 games as a pitcher the next four seasons. His hitting was even more impressive, forcing the Red Sox to put him in the outfield just about every game in 1919 and Ruth didn't disappoint, hitting 29 home runs and driving in 114 runs in 130 games.

Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, its owner needed money to finance a Broadway play. Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season. And the rest is history.

Babe Ruth Stats 

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July 8th in baseball history: an unassisted triple play

Don't blink, you'll miss it

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS | JULY 8, 1994 - One of the most spectacular, and rare, events in baseball occurs so quickly that if you're not paying attention you'll miss it - the unassisted triple play. Boston Red Sox shortstop John Valentin turned one on this date in 1994. It was just the 10th unassisted triple in major league baseball history (there have since been 5 more).

Here's how it happened... in the top of the sixth inning at Fenway Park, Seattle Mariner Mike Blowers singles. Keith Mitchell walks. It looks like the start of a big inning for the Mariners. Mark Newfield is at bat. Red Sox pitcher Dave Fleming fires, the runners go. Newfield hits a line shot right to shortstop Valentin, who steps on second to double off Blowers who was almost to third, and tags Mitchell who's almost at second.

Three outs, just like that with the ball never leaving Valentin's hands. Guess who leads off the bottom of the 6th, hero John Valentin. He homers, and the Red Sox come from behind to win 4-3.

Unassisted triple plays almost always unfold the same way; all fifteen started with runners on first and second, and the batter hitting a line drive with the runners going.

  • Eight were hit to the shortstop
  • Five were hit to the second baseman
  • Two were hit to the first baseman

When it's hit to the shortstop or 2nd baseman he usually grabs the line drive, steps on second and tags the runner coming from first. Once, the 2nd baseman first tagged the runner coming from 1st before stepping on second.

When it's hit to the first baseman - they're probably playing well off the line - they tag the runner leaving first, then step on second.

Twice triple plays ended games.

If you want to see an unassisted triple play, wait for there to be runners on first and second, no outs and if the batter hits a line drive, don't blink.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
July 8, 1994 box score/play-by-play
Unassisted triple plays

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July 4th in baseball history: The "Luckiest man" says goodbye

The Luckiest Man

NEW YORK, NEW YORK
- A tired, frail, shadow of his former self told 61,808 people in Yankee stadium on the Fourth of July in 1939, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Always humble, Lou Gehrig was known as ‘The Iron Horse,' but he was getting weaker by the day and would be gone in less than two years.

The suddenness of Gehrig's decline was shocking. He went from playing every single game for 14 years to never playing again. When Gehrig took himself out of the lineup on May 2nd 1939 he never got back in. Gehrig had 29 home runs, 114 runs batted in and 115 runs scored in his last full season - 1938, not his best year, but still quite good. The only stat that appeared to show decline was batting average. He hit .295. He hadn't hit under .300 in twelve seasons and hit .351 in 1937, .354 the year before that.

Clearly, Gehrig had lost a step, but he was 35 years old, so not unexpected. Gehrig's decline was clear in spring training 1939. His power had faded. He was hitting just .143 with no extra base hits when he took himself out of the lineup after eight games of the regular season.

A few weeks after asking out of the lineup Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with a rare, crippling, fatal disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The sickness would become known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

  • When Babe Ruth set the single season home run record in 1927 with 60 home runs, Gehrig hit 47, more than anyone, other than Ruth, had ever hit up to that time.

Contributing sources:
Lou Gehrig web site
Baseball-Almanac (Gehrig)

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Between Innings

 

 

Undergoing routine maintenance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



June 29, 1905: Moonlight Graham's day

The real story of "Moonlight" Graham

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - It's the stuff of legend, except it's true. In the late innings of a game played today in baseball history (June 29, 1905), Archibald "Moonlight" Graham made his major league debut in right field for the New York Giants. They were playing the Brooklyn Superbas (today's Los Angeles Dodgers). The game ended a couple innings later with the Giants winning 11-1. Graham did not come to bat. He never got another chance.

"Moonlight" Graham was sent down to the minors after the game. Hze decided that at the age of 28 he had spent enough time in the minors. Rather than report to the Giants farm team, again, he called it a career. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham came oh so close to batting in a major league game, but it was not to be, until Hollywood came calling long after his death.

"Moonlight" Graham was a key character in the movie, Field of Dreams. The film was fiction, but the "Moonlight" Graham part, played by Burt Lancaster, was real. Well, most of it was real. Graham really did become a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota, but the part about a young Archie Graham, played by Frank Whaley, living out his dream by coming to bat against the re-incarnated Black Sox remains a dream.

"Moonlight" Graham had a distinctly short, and let's be honest, insignificant, stint in the major leagues, until author W. P. Kinsella came across his statistics: 

Archibald Moonlight Graham: Batting record
Year team G AB R H RBI BB AVE OBP
1905  NY n 1  0  0  0   0    0    .000 .000

Kinsella was intrigued about a man who came so close to living out his dream that he put the character in his book of fiction, Shoeless Joe, which the movie, "Field of Dreams" is based on. Unfortunately, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham never found out how well known he became. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native died in Chisholm in 1965.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Archibald Moonlight Graham statistics
USA Today, June 25, 2005

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