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Baseball history unpacked, June 1

Big Z and the Rebel celebrate natal anniversaries, and other stories

Deep Z fishing
Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Previously, we related how Frank Chance was ploinked five times, spoke of the last victory for the spitball, wrote of Babe Ruth’s final contest, Dennis Eckersley’s no-no, and other stories. Today we tell of Cub favorites Randy Hundley, Ron Santo, and Carlos Zambrano, and highlight what I think of as one of the faithful’s finest hours — the Twinkiegate episode involving Lance Berkman.

There’s not much to unpack today, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the memories some of these tales will evoke.

Here’s a handy Cubs timeline.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1917 - Hank Gowdy is the first major-league player to enlist during World War I when he signs up in the Ohio National Guard. He will play until he reports for duty July 15. (2)

Gowdy was a pretty good player who batted .270 over a 17-year major-league career and went on to become a major-league manager as well (one year with the Reds). He was not possessed of much power, and he was a catcher/first baseman during his career. The article embedded in his surname tells more of his exploits.

  • 1923 - The Giants pound the Phillies at the Baker Bowl, 22-8. The Philadelphia contest marks the first time this century a team has scored in every inning of a game. (1)

Box score. Two Giants had seven rbi in this contest.

  • 1925 - Lou Gehrig, making the only appearance as a pinch-hitter in his 17-year career, begins his streak of playing in 2,130 straight games when he comes off the Yankee bench to hit for rookie infielder Pee-Wee Wanninger. Ironically, Wanninger is the player who ended a consecutive-game streak of 1,307 consecutive games when he started the May 5th contest in place of Everett Scott, the team’s regular shortstop. (1)

Scott was a really good player, the shortstop for two championship-level teams. “Although he was never seriously considered for baseball’s Hall of Fame, Scott was considered to be the finest shortstop of his time.” — Ray Birch

He was also a terrific bowler and wrote a children’s book.

  • 1966 - Ron Santo, who will go on to establish a modern-day Cubs mark by hitting in 28 consecutive games, goes hitless the day after the streak begins, but his run at the record stays intact. The Cubs’ infielder receives four walks and is hit by a pitch in his five plate appearances, keeping his one-game streak alive in the team’s 4-3 loss to Philadelphia at Connie Mack Stadium. (1)

Box score. Take a look at the names of the participants — all kinds of celebrated players and future coaches and managers were involved in this contest. Ernie Banks started at third and Santo at shortstop, according to the box score. I suspect this is erroneous, but it’s funny nonetheless.

  • 1997 - When Wilton Guerrero scurries to pick up pieces of his shattered bat after grounding out to start the game, home plate ump Steve Ripley becomes suspicious and discovers that the rookie used an altered bat. The Dodgers second baseman is immediately ejected from the game by crew chief Bruce Froemming, and the 21-year-old infielder will also receive an eight-day suspension and a $1,000 fine for his use of a corked bat. (1)

Vlad’s older brother wasn’t quite the talent that his sibling was, but he had a couple of decent years in the majors as a utility infielder and sometime outfielder.

  • 2000 - As owners struggle over realignment, the players’ association suggests a simpler plan which only moves the Astros from the NL Central to the AL West, thus creating two 15-team leagues. The owners’ ideas would have the newest franchises, Devil Rays and Diamondbacks, switching leagues, the elimination of the NL wild-card, and the AL Central consisting of six teams to go along with six divisions with only four teams. (1)

Probably the best way but I wanted to keep the Astros in the NL and send the D-Backs to the AL. Or we could do geographical tweaking.

  • 2003 - After being taunted by Twinkie-waving fans in the left-field bleachers, the not-so-svelte Lance Berkman, during a pitching change in the seventh inning, gestures to his Wrigley Field tormentors to throw him one of the sponge cake snacks, which he promptly chows down, much to the delight of the crowd. The next inning, the Astro outfielder goes deep, hitting a sugar-fueled two-run home run in the team’s 9-3 win over the Cubs. (1)

Box score. Kerry Wood took the loss in this contest. The Cub highlight was Eric Karros’ 2-run jack.


Thanks for reading.