Last time through the gate, we spoke of Big Z and the Rebel celebrating natal anniversaries, and other stories. There’s not a whole lot to unpack today but there are some items of interest, at least one of which is in recent memory.
Today in baseball history:
- 1940 - The Braves sign South Park High School (Buffalo, NY) standout Warren Spahn, who will make his major league debut in 1942 when he appears in two games as a 20-year-old for Boston before serving three years in the Army during World War II. The Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient will return to the National League in 1946 to win the first game of his career at the age of 25 en route to becoming the all-time winningest southpaw in the history of the game with 363 victories. (1)
First we’ll use Spahn, then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day, followed by rain
Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain
And followed, we hope, by two days of rain. — Gerald V. Hern
Spahn’s name might not be as familiar today as it once was. He’s legendary, one of the best and best-known pitchers of all time. 21 years a Major-Leaguer, 300+ wins, a Cy Young and multiple runner-ups, multiple MVP nominations — look at his BBRef page if you don’t believe me. 92.6 lifetime WAR. The Braves had him and Johnny Sain and prayed for rain for a long time. Both were incredible in their prime — Spahn had a much longer career. I got to meet Sain a few times as he lived in Downers Grove and would occasionally speak at the library there or at Hinsdale’s Community House.
- 1951 - Pirates outfielder Gus Bell hits for the cycle in Philadelphia as the Bucs beat the Phillies, 12-4. In 2004, his grandson David, whose dad Buddy also played in the major leagues, also collects a single, double, triple, and home run in a game, marking the first time a grandfather-grandson combination has accomplished the feat. (1)
- 1953 - Pittsburgh trades outfielder Ralph Kiner, catcher Joe Garagiola Sr., pitcher Howie Pollet, and outfielder Catfish Metkovich to the Cubs for catcher Toby Atwell, pitcher Bob Schultz, first baseman Preston Ward, third baseman George Freese, outfielder Bob Addis, outfielder Gene Hermanski, and $150,000. (2)
Kiner was long past his prime when he got to Chicago, but he still hit a few out. Garagiola likewise was in his twilight years. Pollet was a once-excellent pitcher whose career was derailed by injuries (the embedded article makes it look like he was Bakered). None of the others had long or particularly memorable careers.
- 1964 - At Connie Mack Stadium, Sandy Koufax throws his third no-hitter in three years, blanking the Phillies 3-0. The Dodgers’ southpaw, who will add a perfect game to his resume next season, joins Bob Feller as the only other modern major leaguer to pitch three career hitless games. (1)
- 1996 - Jacksonville Suns’ (Tigers - AA) reliever Pamela Davis throws one scoreless inning of relief and gets the win in a minor league exhibition game against the Australian Olympic team, becoming the first woman to pitch for a major league farm club. (1)
June 05, 1996|Associated Press
Pamela Davis had a lump in her throat when she trotted to the mound to take her place in baseball history. She left with a scoreless fifth inning, a standing ovation--and the victory.
”It was awesome,” she said. “I can’t even explain the feeling.”
Davis entered the game in the fifth inning for the double-A Jacksonville Suns with the Suns leading the Australian Olympic team, 6-0, at Jacksonville, Fla.
She gave up a leadoff double to Peter Vogler. He advanced on Richard Vagg’s grounder to second.
Then Davis struck out Michael Dunn on a fastball down and away after setting him up with two sliders, and finished off the inning by getting Jason Hewitt to hit a weak grounder on a 3-1 pitch.
After the inning, Davis sprinted to the dugout as the crowd of 1,157 rose and the Suns rushed to the steps to give her high-fives.
Davis, a 5-foot-6, 135-pound right-hander with a fastball approaching 80 mph, was playing as part of an agreement between the Southern League and the Colorado Silver Bullets women’s team.
The Southern League had billed it as the first time a woman has pitched for a sanctioned men’s professional team. But according to the Elias Sports Bureau and Howe Sports Service, other women have pitched in the minors.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias comes to mind immediately. Here are a few others.
- 2003 - Although his bat may have contained cork in yesterday’s game, all five of Sammy Sosa’s historic bats housed at the Hall of Fame and the 76 confiscated from his locker by major league baseball revealed no signs of tampering. X-rays and CT scans were used to clear the Cubs slugger’s remaining lumber. (1)
- Cubs birthdays: Orlie Weaver, Lee McGee, Arnold Earley, Rick Wilkins, Scott Servais, Chang-Yong Lim.
Thanks for reading.