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Baseball history unpacked, June 18

Happy birthday Chris Coghlan and Steve Cishek, RIP Eddie Gaedel, and other stories

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1940 - Dodger Ducky Medwick, acquired in a trade less than a week ago, is beaned by former Cardinal teammate Bob Bowman and needs to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Brooklyn president Lee MacPhail accuses the St. Louis pitcher of deliberately hitting Medwick in the head because the two had quarreled in a hotel elevator prior to the game. (1)

Box score. Joe Medwick is best remembered for being banished from a World Series game, but he was a Hall-of-Famer and should probably be remembered for his exploits on the diamond. However, this capsule isn’t about that, so...

“...Bowman had been in a verbal confrontation with Medwick and Dodgers manager Leo Durocher in the hotel the previous morning. The pitcher had shouted, “I’ll take care of you! I’ll take care of both of you.” Bowman said he meant that he would hold them hitless in the game. The Dodgers’ version was that the pitcher had threatened them with beanballs. Acting on this belief, McPhail appealed fruitlessly to National League President Ford Frick to ban Bowman from baseball for life. Further he attempted to have Bowman arrested for assault. The Brooklyn district attorney investigated and found no evidence of criminal intent on the pitcher’s part.” — Charles F. Faber, SABR.

Don’t see anything there about elevators, but clearly there was an incident of some kind.

  • 1953 - Sending twenty-three batters to the plate at Fenway, the Red Sox enjoy a 17-run and 14-hit seventh inning when they pound the Tigers, 23-3. Sammy White sets a modern major league record, scoring three times in the frame, and outfielder Gene Stephens collects three hits in the inning to establish an American League mark. (1)

Box score.

  • 1961 - Eddie Gaedel, the 3’ 7” Illinois native made famous by Bill Veeck (*), who employed him to be the Browns’ lead-off batter for one at-bat in a game played in 1951, is found dead lying in his bed with bruises on the left side of his face, most likely as the result of an assault after being followed home from a Chicago bowling alley. Bob Cain, the opposing Tiger pitcher who issued a base-on-balls in the infamous stunt, is the only person from major league baseball to attend the funeral of the 36-year-old unemployed small person, whose cause of death will be determined by a coroner’s inquest to be the result a heart attack. (1)

Just a sad story (**). Gaedel didn’t have a very nice life. From the excellent article by Brian McKenna :

Gaedel struggled with the way some people treated him, mixed with his perceptions of imaginary slights and offenses. Two weeks after appearing on the diamond for the Browns, he was arrested for disorderly conduct in Cincinnati, where he was performing in a rodeo. He had verbally abused some policemen after they mistakenly asked why “a little boy” was out so late at night.

Gaedel was combative, especially after drinking, which became more and more prevalent. He continually engaged in fights and altercations. One relative described him as having “beer muscles.” It didn’t help that he worked as a bartender at the locally famous Midget Club. He lived at home with his indigent mother and brother in an apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Gaedel stuck close to home and was said to be very fond of his mother. His health was failing due to high blood pressure and an enlarged heart, which was compounded by the drinking.

On June 18, 1961 Gaedel, unemployed, got drunk at a bowling alley. As usual, he became combative with either some fellow patrons or others he came across on his route home. He was followed home and beaten.

*read this one

*read this one too

  • 1996 - Brant Brown hits the first three home runs of his career on the same day. The 25 year-old rookie goes deep as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning off Chan Ho Park in a 9-6 loss to the Dodgers in the opener of a Wrigley Field twin bill, but his two additional round-trippers contribute to Chicago’s 7-4 victory in the nightcap. (1)

Box score. Amaury Telemaco gave up six earned runs and Bob Patterson two, with Rodney Myers finishing the job with one.

Box score. Luis Gonzalez hit a first-inning three-run homer and the Cubs were off to the races behind Mike Campbell and several relievers whose names you probably know, especially if you read the box score.

Brown’s tenure in Chicago was up and down. He had great moments like the above and also an infamous case of dropsies. 1998 and 1999 were his only very good years, with his .291 BA in ‘98 as his high-water mark. He’s now an assistant with the Dodgers.

  • 2002 - In the first major league game to feature four players with 400 career homers, the Cubs beat the Rangers, 4-3, when Alex Gonzalez hits a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sammy Sosa (475), Fred McGriff (459), and Juan Gonzalez (401) watched Rafael Palmeiro add his 460th home run to the total. (1)

Box score. Corey Patterson doubled and homered and Jason Bere pitched well enough for the victory. Alex Gonzalez homered off John Rocker for the game-winner.

  • 2005 - Derek Jeter, who will average 13 home runs during 20-year career, hits his only major league grand slam in his 156th plate appearance with the bases loaded. The 30 year-old All-Star shortstop, who collects two round-trippers in the Bombers’ 8-1 victory over the Cubs at Yankee Stadium, clears the bases in the sixth inning with a blast off Joe Borowski that clears the fence in left-center field. (1)

Box score. I remember turning this one off. That homer was DECISIVE. Jason Dubois homered for the Cubs’ only tally.

  • 2006 - In a game in which veteran hurler Kenny Rogers wins his 200th career victory, the Tigers go yard eight times to set a club record. Cubs starter Mark Prior, who recently returned from the 60-day disabled list, gives up three of the home runs in the 6-run first inning of the 12-3 barrage at Wrigley Field. (1)

Box score. Prior was a shadow of what he had once been. Aramis Ramirez and Henry Blanco homered, but that wasn’t nearly enough to offset the homer binge by Tiger hitters, who looked to be teeing off at will. I’m sure a lot of us remember this game, and are trying to forget.


Thanks for reading.