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This Day in Baseball History
April 8th

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50 Fact(s) Found
1934 At Shibe Park, 15,000 fans witness the first legal baseball game between major league teams played on a Sunday in the city of Philadelphia. In a hometown exhibition game, the Phillies beat the A's, 8-1.
1947 In an exhibition game against the Indians in Sheffield (AL), second-year player Whitey Lockman breaks his leg while sliding into the second base attempting to break up a double play. Except for two September appearances as a pinch-hitter, including getting a hit in his first at-bat, the Giants' sophomore outfielder will miss the rest of the season.
1953 Bernice Lombardi finds her husband Ernie lying on the bed after the former major league catcher slit his throat from ear to ear with a razor he found in a relative's bathroom. The former Reds' backstop, battling a similar bout of depression that caused his teammate Willard Hershberger to commit suicide in 1940, is given little hope to live at the time but manages to survive his horrific self-inflicted wound.
1963 The Tigers claim Denny McLain on first-year waivers from the White Sox. The right-hander, the game's last 30-game winner, will win the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award in 1968, helping Detroit to win its first World Series in 23 years.
1963 In his first major league plate appearance, Pete Rose works out a walk-off Earl Francis in the Reds' 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh at Crosley Field. The eventual all-time hit leader will be held hitless, going 0-for-3, but does score his first major league run when Frank Robinson homers in the bottom of the first inning.
1963 After being promised the Secretary of Labor would intervene to mediate their dispute, the striking vendors do not appear at the ballpark resulting in President Kennedy not having to cross a picket line before tossing out the ceremonial first pitch. The Senators lose the game 3-1, and JFK's suggestion of playing Tom Brown doesn't pan out as the rookie first baseman fans three times.
1964 Five days before the start of the season, right-hander Jim Umbricht, the only pitcher to post a winning record in Houston's first two seasons, loses his well-publicized battle with cancer when he succumbs to malignant melanoma. The popular 33 year-old Colt .45's relief pitcher, whose uniform number 32 will be retired by Houston, underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his leg before the 1963 season, returning to the club to post a 4-3 record along with a 2.61 ERA in 35 games.

Amazon 1963 Jim Umbricht Baseball Card (Topps # 99)

1966 Thanks to the Monsanto chemical company's experimental nylon playing surface, the Astros and Dodgers play baseball's first game on synthetic grass. The original plan to play all-dirt field, necessitated by the need to paint the Astrodome's glass panes to reduce the glare, which prevented natural grass from growing, is alleviated by the use of 'AstroTurf.'
1969 Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro, playing his first game since being severely injured, makes a dramatic comeback, connecting for a two-run homer in the tenth inning and scoring the eventual winning run in the top of the 12th in Boston's Opening Day's 5-4 victory. The 24-year-old Revere, Massachusetts native, known as the Pope of Kenmore Square, will experience moderate success during the next two seasons but will never fully recover from the damage sustained in his left retina after being hit by a pitch thrown by Jack Hamilton on August 18, 1967.

1969 The Pilots make their major league debut, defeating the Angels at Anaheim Stadium, 4-3. Scoring all of their runs in the top of the first inning, Seattle's leadoff hitter Tommy Harper starts the game with the franchise's first hit and then crosses the plate with its first run, when Mike Hegan, the next batter, hits the first homer in team history.

Amazon The Seattle Pilots: Short Flight Into History DVD

1969 The Royals play their first game in franchise history and join the winner circle along with the other three new clubs making their debuts today. Reliever Moe Drabowsky picks up the win when Kansas City beats the Twins in 12 innings, 4-3.
1970 As partial compensation for the loss of Curt Flood, who refuses to report to Philadelphia, the Cardinals send minor league prospect Willie Montanez to the Phillies. The former St. Louis outfielder had taken exception to the trade without his consent, ultimately leading to his unsuccessful challenge of the reserve clause to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1974 Braves outfielder Hank Aaron passes Babe Ruth as the all-time home run leader with his 715th, going deep in the fourth inning off Dodger hurler Al Downing in Atlanta's home opener. 'Hammerin' Hank' equaled the Bambino's mark on Opening Day in Cincinnati.

1975 In the season opener at Fenway Park, Tony Conigliaro, who retired four years ago after being traded to the Angels in 1970, plays in the first game of his attempted comeback with the Red Sox. As a designated hitter, the 30-year-old Pope of Kenmore Square will collect only seven hits in 21 games, singles in his first at-bat in Boston's 5-2 victory over the Brewers.
1975 Frank Robinson becomes the first black manager in major league history as his Indians defeat the Yankees 5-3. The Tribe's new player-manager hits a home run in his first at-bat as the designated hitter.

Amazon My Life Is Baseball by Frank Robinson

1984 In the Mets' 3-1 victory over Houston at the Astrodome, Mike Torrez's pitch smashes Dickie Thon's face, compromising the promising 25-year-old Houston shortstop's career. The remorseful right-hander's fastball breaks the orbital bone around the left eye, ending the infielder's season and impacting his future as a major leaguer due to problems with depth perception as a result of the injury.
1986 Will Clark homers in his first major league at-bat, facing future Hall of Fame right-hander Nolan Ryan. The 22 year-old Giants rookie first baseman's first-inning solo round-tripper contributes to the team's Opening Day 8-3 victory at the Astrodome.
1986 Jim Presley hits two home runs, helping the Mariners beat the Angels, 8-4, in a dramatic extra-inning comeback Opening Day victory. The Seattle third baseman's two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth off Donnie Moore knots the game at four runs apiece, and his two-out grand slam off Ken Forsch in the following frame ends the Kingdome contest.
1988 Gary Carter, celebrating his 34th birthday with a 3-for-3 day including a home run, is doubled off second base after Howard Johnson lines out to right field to end the game on a bizarre play. Shortstop Juan Samuel, who had started to throw the relay from outfielder Chris James back to the mound, tags the Mets' catcher straying off the bag for the final out in the Phillies' 5-1 victory at Veterans Stadium.
1989 In Anaheim, Olympic hero Jim Abbott makes his major league debut, losing to his childhood hero Mark Langston and the Mariners in an eventual 6-2 Angels defeat to Seattle. The 21 year-old southpaw, who never played in the minor leagues after being drafted in the first round by California in the amateur draft last year, pitches without the use of a right hand.
1991 The Reds establish the record for consecutive Opening Day wins when the team beats the Astros at Riverfront Stadium, 6-2, their ninth straight, thanks to a solid outing from Tom Browning, who gives up five hits in 8.1 innings. Cincinnati surpasses the winning streak of eight consecutive lid lifters the Mets put together from 1971 through 1978.
1991 In a 5-4 Opening Day loss to the Brewers at Arlington Stadium, future Hall of Famer Goose Gossage (2008) relieves in a game started by Rangers hurler Nolan Ryan (1999), also an eventual member of Hall of Fame. The matchup marks the first time in major league history that a 300-game winner appears in the same contest with a teammate who has 300 saves.
1993 Contributing to the Indians' 15-5 rout of New York at Cleveland Stadium, Carlos Baerga becomes the first major leaguer to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning. In the seventh, the Tribe's second baseman, batting right-handed, goes deep off Steve Howe and, later in the frame, connects with a pitch thrown by Steve Farr from the left side of the plate.
1994 Kent Mercker, throwing his first major league complete game, no-hits the Dodgers, 6-0 at Chavez Ravine. The Braves left-hander was one of the three Atlanta pitchers, along with Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena, to throw a combined no-no against the Padres in 1991.
1994 🇰🇷Chan Ho Park becomes the first Korean to play in the major leagues when he makes his pitching debut at Chavez Ravine. In one inning of work, the 21 year-old Kongju City native gives up two runs on one hit, walking two and striking out two batters in the Dodgers' 6-0 loss to Atlanta.
1997 In a 14-8 Mariners victory over the Indians at the Kingdome, M's pitcher Josias Manzanillo, who doesn't wear a protective cup, is hit the groin by a Manny Ramirez 107 mph line drive. Now a firm believer in using protective gear, the 29-year-old reliever goes on the 15-day disabled list for surgery needed to repair a tear in his testicles.
1999 After participating in 243 major league games, Jim Abbott finally gets his first at-bat, grounding out to third base in the Brewers' 9-4 loss to St. Louis at Busch Stadium. The 31-year-old southpaw, born without a right hand, signed with Milwaukee in the offseason after spending the first nine years of his career in the American League, where the designated hitter replaces the pitcher in the batter's box.
2000 Blue Jay southpaw David Wells' nine-hit complete game 4-0 shutout against Texas at The Ballpark in Arlington snaps Kenny Rogers' 19-game home winning streak. The Gambler's accomplishment, compiled while hurling for the Yankees, A's, Mets, and Rangers, is the third-longest in major league history.
2003 At the home opener at PNC Park, Pittsburgh unveils a sculpture of Ralph Kiner. The Hall of Fame home run hitter, depicted in the bronze artwork gripping a Kiner-model Louisville Slugger bat, joins Willie Stargell, Honus Wagner, and Roberto Clemente as other former Pirates honored with a ballpark statue.

Pittsburgh - PNC Park: Bronze Casting of Ralph Kiner's hands

2003 At Wrigley Field, a few of the 29,138 patrons at the Cubs opener show their displeasure when the Canadian national anthem, "O' Canada," is performed before the game against the Expos. Their reaction comes from the "The Star-Spangled Banner" getting booed at the Islanders-Canadiens hockey match in Montreal by fans in opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq.
2003 By going went 4-for-4 along with three walks, Rockies' first baseman Todd Helton sets a club record by reaching base in all seven plate appearances in Colorado's 15-12 loss at Coors Field. Chris Stynes also set a franchise mark for most plate appearances in a game with eight.

Amazon McFarlane Todd Helton (Series #9: #17)

2003 In a frigid 35-degree home opener, with the fans chanting his name, Hideki Matsui hit his first major league home run, a grand slam into the right-field bleachers. After being greeted with a warm reception in the pregame ceremonies and a standing ovation after making a great defensive play, Godzilla receives a thunderous applause and curtain call from the sold-out Yankee Stadium crowd after his fifth-inning bases-full poke against the Twins.
2004 After showing a video tribute for him on the scoreboard, Jimmy Carter, a close friend of Padres owners John and Becky Moores, throws the ceremonial first pitch before the first major league game at Petco Field. During his one term in office, the 39th Chief Executive became the first president not to throw a ball on an Opening Day since the tradition started in 1910 with William Taft, but does the honors before Game 7 of the 1979 World Series at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

2004 In the first game at their new downtown ballpark, the Padres come from behind twice to beat the Giants in 10 innings at Petco Park, 4-3. After Trevor Hoffman blows the save in the ninth, San Diego scores in the bottom of the frame, knotting the score at 2-2 and then scores more two runs in the tenth after falling behind again in overtime.

2005 Jimmy Carter, who was not invited by the current administration to be part of the American delegation for today's funeral of Pope John Paul, attends the home opener at Turner Field. The former president and his wife Roslyn, who both stayed for the entire game, enjoy watching the Braves beat the Mets, 3-1.
2008 An emotional Bill Buckner returns to Fenway Park for the first time in more than a decade to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Red Sox home opener. The beleaguered former Boston first baseman, best known for letting Mookie Wilson's grounder roll between his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, receives a heartfelt standing ovation from the stunned crowd as he slowly walks from left field to the pitcher's mound.

2008 The Mets are beaten by a pitcher who is older than Shea Stadium when 46 year-old southpaw Jamie Moyer pitches six strong innings, getting the win in the Phillies' 5-2 victory at the team's 45 year-old ballpark. With their loss, the Amazins' finish with an excellent 29-16 (.644) won-loss record in home openers in the aging Queen's venue.
2008 At the Play Ball, Chicago! Event in the Windy City, the U.S. Postal Service unveils a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The tune was written on a New York City train a century ago when songwriter Jack Norworth, who claimed never to have seen a major league game, wrote the lyrics after seeing a sign about a contest at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants.

2008 On the last Opening Day in the Queens' ballpark, the Mets unveil a disc with William Shea's name, honoring the namesake of their stadium. The New York attorney is credited for bringing the National League back to the Big Apple following the Giants and Dodgers' departure after the 1957 season.

2009 Striking out twice in his first two at-bats against the Marlins at Land Shark Stadium, Daniel Cabrera establishes a dubious batting record when he strikes out 16 times in 16 consecutive at-bats. The Nationals right-handed starter had shared the mark of 15 with Juan Eichelberger (Padres, 1980) and Mike Thurman (Expos, 1998).
2010 In a deal that covers one season beyond his arbitration-eligible years, Yovani Gallardo (13-12, 3.73) agrees to sign a five-year $30.1 contract to stay with Milwaukee. The 24-year-old Brewer right-hander, considered the ace of the staff, was the team's second-round pick in 2004.
2011 After being informed by MLB that he faces a 100-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy for the second time, Rays' outfielder/DH Manny Ramirez announces his retirement as an active player. The 12-time All-Star, best known for helping the Red Sox win two World Championships, ends his 19-year big league career with a .312 batting average and 555 home runs.
2013 On a controversial game-ending strike call by plate umpire Marty Foster, Joe Nathan retires second baseman Ben Zobrist on a pitch that is clearly out of the strike zone to earn his 300th career save when the Rangers beat Tampa Bay in Arlington, 6-5. The Texas right-handed reliever becomes the 24th major-leaguer to reach the milestone.
2014 Yankee third baseman Yangervis Solarte becomes the first player in major league history to double six times in the first seven games of his career when he collects a pair of two-baggers in the team's 14-5 loss to Baltimore in the Bronx. The 26 year-old rookie, who will be traded to the Padres in July, along with minor leaguer Rafael De Paula, for Chase Headley and cash, ends the day with a .429 batting average, going 12-for-28 since the start of the season.
2015 Adrian Gonzalez becomes the first major league player to hit five home runs in the first three games of the season when he goes deep three times in the Dodgers' 7-4 victory over San Diego at Chavez Ravine. The Los Angeles first baseman joins Carl Furillo (1955) and Jimmy Wynn (1974) as the only players in franchise history to have homered in the first three games of a campaign.
2016 Trevor Story becomes the first player in major league history to homer six times in the first four games of a season when he goes deep twice in the Rockies' 13-6 loss to San Diego at Coors Field. The 23 year-old Colorado rookie shortstop is the fifth player to homer in four consecutive contests to start a season, and a feat also accomplished Chris Davis (Orioles, 2013), Nelson Cruz (Rangers, 2011), Mark McGwire (Cardinals, 1998), and Willie Mays (Giants, 1971).
2016 The Cardinals establish a major league record with three pinch-hit home runs when the team rallies from a four-run deficit to beat the Braves at Turner Field, 7-4. Jeremy Hazelbaker, Aledmys Diaz, and Greg Garcia each come off the bench to hit solo shots in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, respectively, contributing to the 0-3 Redbirds' first victory of the season.
2017 Tommy Hansen, who did not hit a home run as a member of the freshman team last season, becomes the first high schooler in history to hit three consecutive grand slams in one game when he goes deep three times in Roncalli’s 12-1 win over Metamora Township (IL). Five other players in a high school game have also hit a trio of bases-full round-trippers in a high school contest, but none accomplished the feat in consecutive at-bats.
2017 The Phillies, using nine hits, none of which is a homer, and four walks, score 12 first-frame runs en route to a 17-3 rout of the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The dozen tallies mark the biggest first inning in franchise history.
2019 Chris Davis breaks the record for the longest hitless streak in major league history at 0 for 47, surpassing dubious mark Eugenio Velez set with the Giants and Dodgers in 2010-11. The Baltimore fans, who had begun regularly booing the Orioles outfielder with the $161 million fully guaranteed contract, were very supportive when he lined out to deep left field in the fifth inning in the game against the A’s to take his place in baseball infamy.


50 Fact(s) Found