Today in baseball history:
- 1896 - Phillies outfielder Ed Delahanty hits four home runs in one game in a 9-8 loss to the hometown Colts. All of the future Hall-of-Famer’s quartet of round-trippers at Chicago’s West Side Grounds are of the inside-the-park variety. (1)
There’s no box score... but there were some stars. The Colts boasted Cap Anson, Adonis Terry, and Clark Griffith, and were a fifth-place club at 71-57. The Phillies had Ed Delahanty and were an eighth-place club (62-68).
- 1956 - At Wrigley Field, Ernie Banks plays in his 394th consecutive contest to tie Al Simmons’ mark for straight games played after breaking in as a rookie. Mr. Cub’s single drives in the decisive run in the Cubs’ 7-6 victory over Pittsburgh. (1)
Box score. Bob Friend took the loss, with Turk Lown winning in relief. The Pirates had some big stars — Roberto Clemente, Frank Thomas, Dick Groat, while the Cubs hadn’t yet assembled a winning group. Moose Moryn was the only other well-known player.
- 1962 - Rookie right-hander Cal Koonce one-hits the Reds, yielding only a fourth-inning single to Don Blasingame in the Cubs’ 1-0 victory at Wrigley Field. The hit by the Cincinnati second baseman marks the first of four times, one shy of the major league record shared by Cesar Tovar and Eddie Milner, that he will collect his teams’ only hit in a game. (1)
Box score. Bob Purkey took the loss, en route to a 14-win season. Koonce was not terrible, played for ten years, but didn’t play much. Ron Santo drove in Ernie Banks with a sacrifice fly for the game’s only run. The ill-fated Ken Hubbs was on that team, and center-fielder Lou Brock was still in Chicago.
- 1966 - After being released by Houston earlier in the month, 39-year-old Robin Roberts signs as a free agent with the Cubs. The right-hander will finish the season 2-3 for his new team, ending his 19-year Hall-of-Fame career with 286 victories. (1)
The Cubs at the time were 26-57 and hadn’t yet gelled into the contending unit they were to become. This is the squad I grew up watching, and their futility illustrates why 1969 was so heartbreaking. Springfield native Roberts was awful, far removed from his 1950s heyday, when he finished as high as second in MVP voting (1952).
- 1977 - With New York third baseman Lenny Randle at the plate in the sixth inning, Shea Stadium goes dark when the Big Apple suddenly experiences a blackout. Before the game against the Cubs is suspended due to the power shortage, the Mets’ players drive their cars onto the field and amuse the crowd by performing a variety of antics in front of the headlights. (1)
- Cubs birthdays: George Bradley, John O’Brien, Gene Packard, Footsie Blair, Frank Hiller, Jack Aker, Don Bryant, Bill Caudill, DJ LeMahieu. Also notable: Stan Coveleski (HoF).
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
Thanks for playing along.