In 1994, PBS aired the documentary Baseball by Ken Burns. Right at the start, it offered one of the best introductions that anyone could give about the sport. It opened by saying the following:
It is played everywhere: in parks and playgrounds, prison yards, in back alleys and farmers’ fields; by small boys and old men, raw amateurs and millionaire professionals. It is a leisurely game that demands blinding speed; the only game in which the defense has the ball. It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn.
Major League Baseball dates almost as far back as the Civil War and has had so many incredible moments and characters that it's nearly impossible to keep track of them all.
Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of games have been played over the years, you can still go to the ballpark and expect to see something that has never been accomplished before.
This slideshow attempts to rank the 200 events that shaped the game into what it is today. It's topics include on-field events, immortal players, baseball in popular culture, legendary managers, umpires, announcers and events that transcended the sport and impacted society.
Events range from the tragic to the absurd, from the historically significant to the sublime.
Perhaps the best thing about this list is that there are hundreds of other players and incidents that were left off and are open for debate. That's another thing great about this sport.
Here's the list of the 200 events that defined, shaped and changed Major League Baseball, starting right at the top.
When looking for the one event that changed the face of Major League Baseball more than any other, look no further than Jackie Robinson.
Integration in baseball was one of the rare instances in which the game not only transcended sports, but had a huge impact on society itself.
Robinson's debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers came in 1947, a full eight years before the recognized beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.
The class displayed by Robinson while facing horrendous racism by many in and out of the game went a long way in helping to shape public perception of blacks in America.
When Robinson debuted with the Dodgers, 26,623 fans showed up to Ebbets Field, an estimated 14,000 of which were black baseball fans.
Robinson faced some doubts about the situation on his own team at first, but manager Leo Durocher put an end to that. Teammate Pee Wee Reese also stood up for Robinson as he became accepted by his own club.
Other teams around the Major Leagues were a different story.
In fact, it was said that the Phillies were so over-the-top with their racial slurs that it actually united the Dodgers' roster even more, as every player on the team now accepted Robinson as one of their own.
Not long after Robinson's debut, other black players like Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe broke into the majors, and racial tensions began to ease.
Robinson was a key cog in the Brooklyn Dodgers' World Series championship team of 1955, and he went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Robinson's impact on the game and on American society as a whole was so profound that it is hard to quantify.
While the other events on this list all shaped the game of baseball, Jackie Robinson's debut in the Major Leagues helped change society in America.
Of all the events that changed the course of baseball, the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees has to rank at or near the top.
Imagine a world in which Babe Ruth was the face of the Red Sox franchise instead of the Yankees?
Without the sale, the Yankees don't have Murderer's Row, the "called shot," four World Series titles between 1923 to 1932, the Lou Gehrig-Babe Ruth combination and so many other historical events.
Sure, Ruth would have had his accomplishments in Boston, and who knows what he could have done there. But baseball wouldn't be the same if Ruth never made it to the Yankees.
From 1914-1919 Ruth was one of the top pitchers in the game for the Red Sox. He led the league with a 1.75 ERA in 1916 and won 20 games in 1916 and 1917. However, he was also emerging as a valuable power hitter.
Ruth led the league with 11 home runs in 1918, and with an increased role in 1919, he hit a Major-League record 29. It was after that season that the infamous sale took place.
While there were many stories surrounding the reasons behind the sale of Ruth, it basically came down to money. Ruth wanted to double his salary to $20,000 but Red Sox owner Harry Frazee refused.
Frazee saw no solution except to part ways with Ruth, but because so few teams could afford a player like that, he was limited in his trade partners.
The White Sox made an offer of Shoeless Joe Jackson plus $60,000 for Ruth, but the Yankees topped it with a $125,000 straight cash offer. Frazee, who was known to have financial problems, went for the higher cash amount, and the rest was history.
Hank Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's career home run record ran in stark contrast to Barry Bonds' pursuit of Aaron's 33 years later.
While Aaron and Bonds were each chasing legendary figures and revered magic numbers, Aaron was celebrated for the class in which he pursued the mark while Bonds was vilified for his alleged cheating and surly personality.
Aaron came close to breaking Ruth's mark at the end of the 1973 season, but he fell just two home runs short.
He belted a home run to tie Ruth on Opening Day of the 1974 season, and when the Braves returned to Atlanta for their home opener against the Dodgers, Aaron was just one homer short of the record.
Aaron faced threats and racism as he chased Ruth's record, but he never wavered in his stoicism.
Aaron wouldn't make his fans wait long as he faced Al Downing in the fourth inning. Aaron blasted a shot to left field and despite the best efforts of Dodgers' left fielder Bill Buckner, Aaron's shot cleared the fence for home run No. 715.
The home run set off a celebration that many never thought would happen. Ruth's 714 was one of the first magic numbers in baseball history and was one of the first "unbreakable" records.
Any short list of the greatest home runs in Major League history has to include the "Shot Heard 'Round the World."
The rivalries between the New York Giants, Dodgers and Yankees during the Golden Age of baseball were unlike anything seen in sports today. The clubs weren't just professional baseball teams; they represented the communities and neighborhoods of New York.
It was an era when players mostly stayed with the teams they came up with. They lived in the neighborhoods around the ballparks, and many of them even held second jobs in the surrounding communities.
So when the Dodgers took on the Giants, it was basically a war between the communities. Because there were no divisional playoff games at the time, the biggest games were meaningful regular season games at the end of the year.
However, at the conclusion of the 1951 season, things were ramped up even further.
The Dodgers and Giants ended up with identical 96-58 records, thus forcing a best-of-three series to determine the National League pennant.
The teams split the first two games, necessitating one final game to determine the champion.
The game reached tremendous intensity levels and was tied 1-1 after seven innings. The Dodgers broke through for three runs in the top of the eight inning and with runs hard to come by, that looked like it would be it for the Giants, especially after they didn't score in the bottom of the inning.
However, the Giants mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth, and they were able to push across a run to make it 4-2.
With two runners on base, Dodgers ace Don Newcombe was pulled as Bobby Thomson was due to bat. Ralph Branca was called on in relief, and from that moment on, he would be tied to Thomson for baseball eternity.
Thomson drilled the second pitch of the at bat down the left field line over the fence, which was a meager 279 feet from home plate.
So to review, Thomson hit three-run homer with his team down two runs in the bottom of the ninth in the deciding game of a mini-playoff to win the National League pennant over the Dodgers in one of the greatest rivalries professional sports has ever seen.
Yeah, that should be near the top of this list.
In the annals of monumental baseball home runs, Bill Mazeroski's shot in the bottom of the ninth inning of the 1960 World Series is firmly entrenched among the best.
The Yankees and the Pirates were in the midst of an epic game seven of a nail-biting series. The Yankees blew out the Pirates in all three of their wins while the Pirates won three close games in their victories.
The Yanks took a commanding 7-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth of game seven, but the Pirates rallied for five runs to take a 9-7 lead. Like a heavyweight fight, the Yanks answered back with two runs in the top of the ninth to tie it.
Mazeroski was the first batter in the bottom of the ninth and didn't wait long for his heroics. He blasted the second pitch he saw off Ralph Terry over the left-center field fence, setting off a wild celebration at Forbes Field.
To this day, Mazeroski's blast remains the only walk-off home run in game seven to win a World Series championship.
While Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech may be the most enduring item from Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, the true spectrum of the entire day is sometimes lost in history.
The New York Times described the day in their paper's late edition:
"In perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field, 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell to Henry Lou Gehrig at the Yankee Stadium today."
Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day took place on July 4th, 1939, two months after his final game, between games of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators. Members of Gehrig's current team were obviously all on hand, and most of his teammates from the 1927 Murderer's Row Yankees joined in as well.
Gehrig was awarded with numerous plaques and gifts, and it was announced that his number four would be retired immediately. Gehrig became the first baseball player to have his number retired.
After receiving his gifts, Gehrig gave his famous speech. It was short, succinct and highly emotional.
After the speech, Babe Ruth ambled over to Gehrig and joined him in an embrace as the fans gave Gehrig a standing ovation.
Two years later, Gehrig died from the effects of the disease that now bears his name.
In 1973 Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick composed a list of ten records that would never be broken.
It's been nearly four decades since Frick wrote it, but his list already isn't doing so well. Four records have been broken and one other (100 RBIs for 13 straight seasons) has been matched.
One record on the list that hasn't been and may never be seriously challenged is Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.
From May 15 to June 16 in 1941, DiMaggio was nearly flawless. He batted .408 during the streak, and he didn't do it by simply slapping singles into the outfield. DiMaggio slugged .717 and hit 15 homers and 16 doubles during that span.
DiMaggio averaged one run and one RBI per game during the streak, and he struck out only 13 times all season.
Since 1941, no player has gotten to within single digits of his streak. Pete Rose came the closest in 1978 when he broke the modern National League record by hitting in 44 games in the row, but even then, he was still two weeks away from DiMaggio.
One of the incredible stats about DiMaggio's 1941 season is that after his 56-game streak was snapped (thanks to two great plays by third baseman Ken Keltner), DiMaggio went on to hit in 17 more games safely, meaning that he hit safely in 73 of 74 games played.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber, who was in baseball from 1934-1966 and remained active after his retirement, once called Marvin Miller one of the three most important people in baseball history along with Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth.
Miller was a labor economist who worked his way to the top of the United Steelworkers Union, United Auto Workers Union and the Machinist Union before taking his power to the Major League Baseball Players' Union.
You can just imagine how powerful Miller was.
It's hard to believe based on the riches thrown around MLB these days, but there was a time when players were seriously taken advantage of by owners.
When Miller negotiated baseball's first collective bargaining agreement in 1968, MLB increased the minimum salary from $6,000 a year to $10,000. It was the first increase in the minimum salary in two decades.
Miller brought arbitration to the game of baseball and successfully challenged the reserve clause, ushering in the era of free agency.
He led the union through three work stoppages and completely restructured the way the game operated financially.
Baseball's average salary is a good measuring stick to use when trying to understand the impact Miller had on the game. During his 16-year tenure, the average salary increased from $19,000 to $241,000.
The number 61 stood for nearly four decades along side other mythical numbers like 714, 56 and 511.
Even though that number has been passed six times since 1998, Roger Maris' 61 home runs in 1961 still stands as one of the sport's most-revered accomplishments.
The race to top Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs was an epic battle between Maris and Mickey Mantle that captivated the baseball world in the summer of '61.
They went back and forth like heavyweight fighters, and even though they played for the same team, they had a decidedly different experience.
Mantle was the home-grown Yankee, the next superstar in line with Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
Maris was a young slugger already on his third team in five years.
Because of this, the press and fans were all squarely in Mantle's corner as they both pursued Ruth's record.
Also adding pressure to Maris was that midway through the season, Commissioner Ford Frick announced that because Ruth played a 154 game schedule compared to Maris' 162, Maris would have to break the record in 154 games in order to be the single-season home run champion.
With both in hot pursuit of Ruth late in the season, Mantle went down with an infection in his hip, leaving Maris to chase Ruth on his own.
After the 154th game of the season, Maris stood at 59 home runs, two short of passing Ruth in the time frame put forth by the commissioner.
He went into the last game of the season with 60 homers and the idea that if he hit one more, he at least would be listed in the record book as the 162-game home run champion.
Maris belted a fourth-inning home run off Red Sox starter Tracy Stallard to reach number 61 and reserve a place in Major League Baseball history.
Maris' record stood for 37 years until the steroid-enhanced exploits of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds of the late-90's.
Ruth's record had stood for 34 years before being bested by Maris'.
In 1974 Tommy John was an above-average pitcher who was enjoying a fine run with the Dodgers after being traded from the White Sox in 1971 for Dick Allen.
He was 13-3 when he came out of a game against the Expos on July 17th after pitching just two innings. The pain he felt in his elbow turned out to be a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and many thought John's career would end right there.
However, Dr. Frank Jobe performed a radical surgery in which he replaced the ligament in the elbow of John's pitching arm with a tendon from his right forearm.
While John wasn't expected to pitch again, he would most likely be able to lead a relatively normal and pain free life.
Tommy John had different plans, though.
He worked with former All-Star pitcher Mike Marshall and rehabbed with an eye on returning to the majors.
Incredibly, John not only returned, but pitched effectively in 1976, going 10-10 with a 3.09 ERA. Even more miraculously, John went on to pitch until he was 46, and he won a total of 288 games as a Major Leaguer.
At this point, "Tommy John Surgery" has close to a 90 percent success rate, and over 150 Major League players have had the surgery.
Among the top arguments fans like to have are discussing which records in sports are truly unbreakable. For a better part of the 20th century, Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games was often at the top of the list.
Even as Cal Ripken was playing every day throughout the 1980s, he was still hundreds of games away from Gehrig. On top of that, Ripken was playing one of the more physically-demanding positions on the field and started to approach the wrong side of 30.
As the 1990s moved on, however, Ripken reported for work everyday, and it began to appear that passing Gehrig was a real possibility. As the 1995 season progressed, the Orioles draped large numbers on the B&O Warehouse in right field to keep track of Ripken's streak.
He finally surpassed Gehrig on September 6 in a game against the California Angels. The game remains one of the most-watched baseball games of all time and the celebration will remain etched in the lore of the national pastime.
When the game became official, the stadium erupted in a standing ovation, calling for Ripken to come out of the dugout to be recognized. The reluctant Ripken was pushed out of the dugout by Bobby Bonilla and Rafael Palmeiro to embark on a celebratory lap around Oriole Park.
The ovation lasted 22 minutes and is considered one of the longest standing ovations ever given to an athlete.
Amazingly, Ripken continued his streak for another 501 games to bring his record to 2,632 consecutive games. The streak ended when he voluntarily removed himself from the lineup during the Orioles' last home game of the 1998 season.
If you had told fans in New York in 1950 that by the end of the decade, the Dodgers and the Giants would be playing their home games in California, you'd have been committed.
Not only were the teams entering the throes of the Golden Age of baseball in New York, but there were no teams further west than the St Louis Cardinals.
As far-fetched as it may have seemed, by 1958, the Dodgers and Giants were indeed playing in California.
The move got its traction when the Giants and Dodgers had simultaneous problems with their ballparks. The Dodgers wanted a new stadium to be built in Brooklyn while the Giants were debating what to do about the dilapidated condition of the Polo Grounds.
The Giants were exploring a move to Minneapolis, which was the home of their top farm team, while the Dodgers were more focused on trying to make a solution work in New York.
Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley threatened to move the Dodgers, but City Planner Robert Moses and fellow New York politicians refused to believe that would happen.
During the 1956 World Series, scouts from Los Angeles were vying for a Major League Baseball team to move to their city. They figured their best target was the Washington Senators.
They hadn't even considered the Dodgers, who were fresh off a 1955 World Series title and were a team stacked with Hall of Famers. In addition, they were such a part of New York that nobody could conceive that they would ever leave.
However, when O'Malley heard that Los Angeles was offering enough land for a team to build their own stadium, maintain ownership of the stadium and rake in all the profits, he had to explore his options.
The deal was too good to turn down, and O'Malley agreed to move to Los Angeles and helped convince the Giants to move to San Francisco to keep their rivalry going.
Fans in New York were devastated. Unlike today's game where players bounce from team to team every year, during the 1950s players and teams became parts of the fabric of their neighborhoods.
Players lived and even worked in the offseason in the vicinity of the stadium, and they were a part of everyday life.
Even for a city as big as New York, to have two teams taken away from them in the same year left scars that still haven't healed for some people.
When talking about major accomplishments in the World Series, Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game has to be near the top of the list.
Larsen was a journeyman righty who pitched for seven different teams over a 14-year career. To be honest, he wouldn't have been the top candidate to throw a perfect game, let alone in a World Series game.
Larsen started game two of the 1956 World Series, and he was anything but perfect. In 1 2/3 innings he walked four batters, gave up a hit and played a major role in blowing a 6-0 Yankee lead.
However, Larsen would bounce back in game five to say the least.
Facing a Brooklyn Dodger lineup that featured Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and Duke Snider, Larsen needed only 97 pitches to negotiate his historic game.
The perfect game was the sixth in Major League history at the time and to this day remains the only postseason perfecto.
Game six of the 1975 World Series is not just one of the greatest games in baseball history, but also provided one of the most iconic images ever captured in the game.
The Red Sox were trying to break a 57-year World Series drought when they took on the Big Red Machine in the 1975 World Series. The Reds held a 3-2 series lead as the teams went back to Fenway Park for the final two games.
Fred Lynn, the Red Sox dynamic rookie who was fresh off a season in which he won the Rookie of the Year and AL MVP, blasted a three-run homer in the first inning to give the Red Sox a lead.
Luis Tiant made it stand until the fifth when the Reds rallied to tie the game at three.
George Foster would put the Reds ahead with a two-run double in the seventh and a Cesar Geronimo home run extended the Reds lead to 6-3 in the top of the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Reds manager Sparky Anderson called on ace reliever Rawley Eastwick to pitch out of a two-on, no-out jam. He retired Dwight Evans and Rick Burleson and the only person standing between Eastwick and an amazing escape was Bernie Carbo.
Carbo worked the count to 2-2 and was nearly retired on one of the ugliest swings you could see a Major Leaguer take. However, Carbo somehow got a piece of the pitch to foul it off and live to see one more pitch.
He made the most of that opportunity, blasting it over the center field fence to tie the game at six.
The Sox almost won the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Foster threw Denny Doyle out at home trying to tag up on a short fly ball to left.
The game stayed tied at six going into the 12th, thanks largely in part to an improbable catch by Evans in the top of the 11th.
In the bottom of the 12th, Carlton Fisk would end the madness. On the second pitch he saw from reliever Pat Darcy, Fisk lifted a long fly ball down the left field line.
Fisk jumped wildly immediately after contact, doing his best to wave the ball fair. The ball caromed off the foul pole, sending the Sox and Reds to game seven.
Reggie Jackson was brought to New York in 1977 to end a 15-year drought between World Series titles. Even though the road was bumpy, Jackson delivered in grand fashion.
Jackson got off to a rough start with his infamous "straw that stirs the drink" comment in SPORT Magazine during spring training and thus started a season of insanity.
Call it the "Bronx Zoo" or the "Bronx is Burning" season or whatever you come up with, but between Jackson, Billy Martin, Thurman Munson, Mickey Rivers and Graig Nettles, it was one wild ride.
The Yankees went 100-62 in 1977 and found themselves in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Yankees were up three games to two on October 18th when the teams returned to Yankee Stadium for game six.
Jackson had already been enjoying a great series, but what he did in game six was truly epic. So much so that it earned him one of the most recognizable nicknames in baseball history: Mr. October.
Jackson had three official at bats (he also had a four-pitch walk in the second inning) and took just one swing in each at bat, blasting a home run on each swing.
Jackson also homered on his final at bat of game five, making that four straight home runs, on four straight swings, off of four different pitchers.
The Yankees went on to win the game 8-4 to win the World Series. Jackson was named MVP and the legend of Mr. October was born.
There's a reason that people should never label a specific record as "unbreakable" and if Lou Gehrig or Ty Cobb were alive today they'd certainly agree.
Cobb's career hit record of 4,192 stood for 57 years and was never seriously challenged during that time. While the game Cobb played during his career had basically the same rules of today, playing in the Deadball Era was completely different than playing in the Modern Era.
Because of the fundamental change in the game and the fact that nobody even sniffed Cobb's record for decades, many deemed his record unbreakable.
That is, until Pete Rose came along.
Rose was a throwback player who scratched and clawed for every single hit he got. He played the game at top speed for every second he was out there and seemed like a player plucked out of the 1910's.
During an era of expanded power and sluggers, Rose still valued making contact, putting the ball in play and getting himself on base. As a result, he recorded an incredible 3,215 singles during his career.
But on the night of September 11, 1985, Rose did what many thought was impossible: he passed up Cobb.
Rose singled to left-center field off Padres' pitcher Eric Show for hit No. 4,192.
Rose tacked on 64 more hits to his ledger and ended his career with 4,256 hits.
Sounds unbreakable, doesn't it?
Only two players in Major League Baseball history have lived the sport's ultimate dream: to hit a walk-off home run to win a World Series.
However, unlike Bill Mazeroski's walk-off in the 1960 World Series, Joe Carter's came while his team was losing.
It had been 33 years since Mazeroski belted a bottom-of-the-ninth home run against the Yankees to break a 9-9 tie and capture a World Series title for the Pirates.
There had been dramatic World Series home runs since then, like Reggie Jackson's shots against the Dodgers and Kirk Gibson's blast against the A's.
But none of the homers won a World Series.
Joe Carter's Blue Jays were leading the Phillies three games to two, but the Phillies held a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Phillies closer Mitch Williams usually gave fans a roller coaster ride every time he came into a game, but after recording 43 saves in 1993, he proved to be a trustworthy reliever.
Carter came to the plate after Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor, two of the three Hall of Famers in the Blue Jays lineup, got themselves on base.
Williams had the count at 2-2 when catcher Darren Daulton put his target up for a high-outside fastball. The pitch went low and inside and Carter jerked it down the line.
There was that brief moment where you wondered if it would stay fair, but the ball had no hook on it and stayed straight, landing over the fence, setting off a wild celebration.
The home run still remains the only come-from-behind, walk-off, World Series-winning home run.
Although nearly 100 years have passed since it happened, the Black Sox Scandal of 1919 still remains one of the great black eyes on the sport.
The events of the scandal are well-known among baseball fans and anyone who has seen the movie Eight Men Out.
Eight players from the Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life for fixing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Details of the scandal range from full-blown admissions of guilt to conflicting stories of who exactly was involved and to what degree.
The plot was conceived both as a way to make some extra money and as a way to stick it to owner Chalres Comiskey, who was hated equally by all his players.
The best-known player involved in the scandal was Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Jackson was one of the top players in the game at the time and was destined to become an immortal. He admitted to being guilty and was banned.
However, Jackson actually had a tremendous World Series both on offense and defense and the other seven players involved all denied Jackson was a part of the scheme.
At this point, the truth may never be known.
When Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward pitched the idea of a Major League Baseball All Star Game to coincide with the 1933 World's Fair, he expected it to be a one-time deal.
However, the game was so popular that it became an annual event that at one time was just about as big as the World Series.
The 1933 All Star Game featured some of the true immortals of the game, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Carl Hubbell and Jimmie Foxx. In total, 20 of the 36 players who played in the game went on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The teams were managed by Connie Mack and John McGraw, both Hall of Famers themselves and three of the four coaches were also Hall of Famers.
Even two of the four umpires ended up in Cooperstown.
As they still are today, players were voted into the game by fans and the team managers also had a hand in filling out the roster.
The game itself was held on July 6, 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago and was attended by 49,200 fans.
Babe Ruth belted a third-inning home run for the first round-tripper in All Star Game history to lead the AL to a 4-2 win.
On the last day of the 2011 baseball season, Jose Reyes needed one hit to secure his first National League batting title. Leading off the bottom of the first inning in what would be his last game as a Met, Reyes dropped down a bunt, beat it out and promptly walked off the field for a pinch runner.
He won the batting title sitting on the bench.
Seventy years earlier, in a season-ending doubleheader, Ted Williams took a predictably more gutsy approach.
Williams entered the final game of the season with a .3996 batting average, which manager Joe Cronin pointed out to Williams would be rounded up to .400.
Williams was said to reply, "If I can't hit .400 all the way, I don't deserve it."
He promptly went out and went 6-8 in the doubleheader to finish at .406. No player has hit .400 in a season since.
Even in failing health, Babe Ruth was a showman.
His 53-year-old body ravaged by cancer, Ruth attended a celebration at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948 that marked the 15th anniversary of the 1923 Yankee team.
Ruth posed for pictures with his former teammates and received numerous ovations from the Yankee Stadium crowd.
The most enduring image from this day was a photo snapped of Ruth from behind, leaning on his bat. Ruth was slightly hunched over, but with the number three clearly visible on his jersey. The photo on this slide is a rarer version taken at a different angle and in color.
While this was Ruth's final appearance in uniform, he did make one subsequent public appearance at the premiere of The Babe Ruth Story on July 26.
Less than three weeks later (and two months after his Yankee Stadium appearance) Ruth died in the hospital at age 53.
The 1986 Major League Baseball postseason was one of the most dramatic ever and Game 6 of the World Series was the topper.
Everyone knows the plot by now. The Mets were down 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth inning with two outs, nobody on base and the Red Sox ready to win their first World Series in 68 years.
Calvin Schraldi was on the mound and with two outs, gave up a seemingly innocuous single to Gary Carter. Kevin Mitchell, who may or may not have been pantsless and on the phone with his travel agent when the rally started, then came through with a single of his own.
Ray Knight was down to his final strike when he followed with a single to get the Mets to within one and move Mitchell to third base.
At that time, John McNamara called on Bob Stanley to face Mookie Wilson in what would become one of the most famous at bats in baseball history.
Stanley's seventh pitch of the at bat got by catcher Rich Gedman, allowing Mitchell to amble home with the tying run.
Wilson then bounced a grounder towards Buckner on the 10th pitch of the at bat and the rest is history.
Buckner was vilified in Boston for years, but fans lightened up when they finally broke the curse in 2004.
Buckner finally returned home to Fenway to a massive standing ovation on Opening Day in 2008 to throw out the first pitch after the ceremony to receive their 2007 World Series rings.
He also gained a measure of redemption when he displayed sure hands on a 2011 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Just as baseball is filled with incredible stories of triumph, there are many stories of extreme tragedy.
The death of Roberto Clemente ranks as one of the most crushing tragedies the sport has ever experienced.
Clemente wasn't just beloved in Pittsburgh, where he spent his entire 17-year career, but he was a national hero in Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, it was his stature in Puerto Rico that had a hand in setting off the string of events that led to his death.
Clemente was one of the game's great humanitarians during his time in the big leagues, which led to his involvement in a relief effort in Nicaragua.
On December 23, 1972, the city of Mangua was stricken with a massive earthquake. Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua and densely populated, so the devastation was extreme.
Not surprisingly, Clemente went into action immediately to help the people of Managua.
He appeared on Puerto Rican television to urge citizens to bring relief supplies to Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The supplies would then be shipped off to help the victims of the quake.
Needless to say, Clemente's pledge to the people drew overwhelming support.
Items were packed and shipped to Managua but instead of going to victims, members of the corrupt Nicaraguan government were intercepting the supplies and keeping them for themselves.
Word got back to Clemente that his supplies weren't getting to the right people, so he decided to accompany the next flight. Clemente had such an influence as a humanitarian that his mere presence would assure that the supplies got where they needed.
Clemente boarded a flight on New Years Eve that had engine troubles and was overweight by 4,200 pounds. Less than two minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed into the ocean.
Clemente's remains were never found.
When the Dodgers signed free agent Kirk Gibson after the 1987 season, it not only provided the Dodgers with the leader they needed, but also set in motion a string of some of the most improbable events of the 1980s.
Gibson's Dodgers did well in 1988, winning the NL West with a 94-67 record. They found themselves considerable underdogs to the Mets in the NLCS though as the Mets still had a majority of their legendary 1986 team intact.
The Mets went 100-60 in 1988, including a 10-1 mark against the Dodgers. However, that didn't mean much to Gibson and the Dodgers who took care of the Mets in seven games. Gibson struck two pivotal home runs in the series and made a remarkable catch falling on the wet turf at Shea Stadium in left field.
The Dodgers were bigger underdogs against the A's, who had a fearsome offense behind Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco and a pitching staff led by Dave Stewart, Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley.
Gibson was hurt in the NLCS and his status for the World Series was greatly in doubt.
In game one, the A's had a one-run lead on the Dodgers in the ninth inning with two outs and nobody on base. Mike Davis was up at the plate as the last hope while Tommy Lasorda kept Gibson stashed away in the clubhouse.
Davis had power potential to tie the game and when the weak-hitting Dave Anderson was sent into the on deck circle, Eckersley pitched around Davis.
Lasorda then recalled Anderson and sent in Gibson, who had spent the entire game in the clubhouse.
He worked the count to 2-2 and after Davis stole second, Gibson reached out and awkwardly poked a backdoor slider over the right field fence for one of the great home runs in World Series history.
Spurred on by Gibson's heroics, the Dodgers went on to an improbable 4-1 win over the A's to capture their first World Series title since 1981.
Gibson's home run and subsequent gimpy home run trot around the bases remains one of the most iconic moments in Major League Baseball history.
People like to point to the Mitchell Report or Jose Canseco's book Jucied as major exposes of Major League Baseball's Steroid Era, but the first step may have actually come from Sports Illustrated.
In 2002, SI wrote a piece on the rampant use of steroids in the game, using first-hand admissions of use from Ken Caminiti to support their claims. They also had candid insight from Curt Schilling and Kenny Rogers, who didn't name names, but who told vivid stories.
The SI piece pre-dated Juiced by three years and the Mitchell Report by five years.
In the article, Caminiti spoke vividly about using steroids at first to help recover from a shoulder injury, but eventually continued to abuse them so bad it did some pretty graphic things to some sensitive body parts.
The article is interesting to read knowing what we know now about steroid abuse during the time. It mentions Canseco specifically, and said the slugger estimated that 85 percent of all Major Leaguers were using steroids. The article goes on to say that Canseco is planning on writing a tell-all book on the subject, which would later become Juiced.
The Mitchell Report, Juiced and Game of Shadows are landmark pieces that helped expose some of the abusers during the Steroid Era. They separate themselves from the SI article because they named names, and big names at that.
However, one can only wonder how fast all that information would have come out if Sports Illustrated hadn't taken the first step and wrote the first major piece exposing just how rampant steroid use had become in Major League Baseball.
Enos Slaughter's "Mad Dash" in game seven of the 1946 World Series was one of the key moments that kept the Curse of the Bambino alive for 86 years.
With the Red Sox and Cardinals tied at three games apiece and knotted at three in the eight inning of game seven, things could not get any tighter than they were in the 1946 World Series.
Slaughter led off the inning with a single, but after the next two batters made outs, Slaughter was still left standing at first.
The next batter was Harry Walker and after he worked the count to 2-1, the hit-and-run was on.
Slaughter took off from first and Walker drilled a shot to left-center field. The ball didn't reach the wall, but that didn't stop Slaughter from trying to round the bases.
The throw came in to Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky, who should have turned and fired the ball towards home. However, Pesky hesitated for a brief second, making his throw late to home.
Slaughter's run ended up being the winning run of the 1946 World Series and another chapter in the Red Sox long history of postseason debacles.
The Red Sox organization might have more heart breaking moments than any other franchise and the 1978 American League East tie-breaker game is right near the top of the list.
The Red Sox had opened a ten-game lead at one point in the American League East and seemed to be on the way to the postseason again.
However, a collapse by the Red Sox and a red-hot 39-14 finish by the Yankees forced a one-game tie breaker at the end of the season.
The Red Sox carried a 2-0 lead into the seventh behind a solo home run from Carl Yastrzemski and an RBI single by Jim Rice.
The Yankees had two baserunners with two outs in the seventh, but with their ninth place hitter up, fans couldn't expect too much, especially since Red Sox starter Mike Torrez had been dominant to that point.
However, the person up to bat was Bucky Dent and anyone familiar with the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry knows how that at bat played out.
Dent lifted a fly ball deep to left and over the green monster for one of the most improbable heroic home runs of all time.
Dent played for 12 years in the Major Leagues and had a grand total of 40 home runs. Only twice in his big league career did he even top five home runs in a single season.
But Dent came through when it counted.
Thurman Munson drove home an insurance run and Reggie Jackson came through with a clutch home run to make it 5-2.
It was a good thing that Yankees tacked on those insurance runs because the Red Sox touched Goose Gossage for two runs in the bottom of the eighth.
But after a scoreless ninth, the Yankees won the playoff and went on to beat the Royals in the ALCS and ultimately won the World Series over the Dodgers.
And it all might not have been possible if they didn't get a home run from their most unlikely source in one of the most exciting games the sport has seen.
Of all the great pitching performances by all the Hall of Fame pitchers in huge spots, perhaps the best game ever pitched was done so early in the 1959 season by Harvey Haddix.
Haddix was a three-time All Star and had a career record of 136-113. He was an above-average pitcher on decent teams during his career, but what he did on May 29, 1959 could not be expected of even the best pitchers in the game.
Haddix's Pirates were taking on Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and the Milwaukee Braves, the team that represented the National League in the previous two World Series.
Haddix ripped through the Braves lineup with such efficient control that Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski said it was the easiest game in which he ever played. Haddix retired all 27 Braves he faced through nine innings.
However, Braves ace Lew Burdette had kept the Pirates off the scoreboard as well, so the game stood at 0-0 through nine.
Haddix returned to the mound for the next three innings and retired all nine Braves he faced over that time, making it 36 up and 36 down.
The Braves Felix Mantilla led off the 13th against Haddix and hit an easy grounder to third. However, the throw pulled the first baseman off the base and the perfect game was over. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Aaron, Joe Adcock came to bat.
Adcock cranked what appeared to be the game-winning home run, but Aaron left the basepaths and was passed by Adcock. The National League ruled that Mantilla's run counted, but the other runs didn't, giving the Braves a 1-0 win.
Of all the hard-luck losers in the history of baseball, Haddix may have had it the worst. No pitcher has come close to matching his feat of retiring 36 straight batters in one game.
It's hard to say that the best-pitched game in Major League history resulted in a loss, but it's also hard to say that any game topped 12 perfect innings in a 1-0 loss on an unearned run.
Say what you will about the steroid-tainted home run race of 1998, but when it was happening, it was the most riveting season-long saga the game had seen in quite some time.
Between Babe Ruth's 60-homer season on 1927 and the race of 1998, only Roger Maris was able to top 60 home runs during that 71-year stretch.
While Maris faced tremendous pressure as most fans were rooting for Mantle to top the record, McGwire was cheered wildly everywhere he went.
While whispers of steroid use did follow McGwire at the time, the stigma around the drug and those who used it was not what it is today.
McGwire blasted home runs at a record pace and at incredible distances all season and stayed ahead of Maris' pace for all but two games during the season.
Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr, provided competition for the record, but Griffey faded in August and Sosa just could not catch up.
McGwire reached 60 home runs in early September, just when Sosa's Cubs were due to come into St. Louis for a two-game set. In the first game, he blasted a Mike Morgan pitch to become just the second Major Leaguer to ever hit 61 home runs in a season.
The next night, with the Maris family in the stands and Sosa standing in right field, McGwire hit a laser beam off Steve Trachsel down the left field line, just clearing the fence for his historic home run.
McGwire embraced his son and shared a moment with the Maris family as he celebrated the accomplishment.
McGwire would go on to hit an incomprehensible 70 home runs while Sosa ended up at 66. They would both be passed by Barry Bonds three years later.
For close to three decades, Pete Rose was one of the most revered players in Major League Baseball history.
He was a champion who played the game with passion and hustle rarely seen by anyone. Even as a 45-year-old, he sprinted to first base on walks as if he was a 20-year-old rookie.
At the time of his retirement in 1986, Rose was the all-time leader in games played, at bats, plate appearances and, of course hits.
His downfall was one of the most dramatic the sport has seen.
Allegations surfaced in February of 1989 that Rose had gambled on baseball. Outgoing Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and Bart Giamatti did a small investigation and after Rose's denied any involvement, the investigation was dropped.
However, three days after Giamatti officially became Commissioner, he reopened the case.
What he found was the biggest scandal to hit the sport since the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
Giamatti retained lawyer Jim Dowd to investigate the allegations and what he found was shocking. He found that Rose bet on baseball, including Reds games in which he was the manager, between 1985-1987.
Although he never found evidence that Rose bet against the Reds betting on his own team meant that he compromised the integrity of the game.
Despite solid evidence against him, Rose vehemently denied the allegations. He did however accept a voluntary banishment from the game with the possibility to apply for reinstatement after one year.
Rose stuck with his denial for 15 years despite the fact that very few people actually believed him. He eventually admitted to betting on baseball in his 2004 book My Prison Without Bars.
Babe Ruth's "called shot" is one of the most celebrated and debated moments in baseball history. The evidence in the case is so contradictory that there is no way to ever know for sure exactly what happened.
What is known is that during the 1932 World Series, Ruth's final World Series appearance, Ruth made some kind of gesture and then hit a home run off of Charlie Root in the fifth inning of game three. What was said and where he was pointing are all up for debate.
By all accounts, Cubs players and fans were really giving it to Ruth during the series. As Ruth took two strikes from Root, the catcalls became louder and more vulgar, according to newspaper reports.
Ruth then made his gesture, which was caught on film that still survives today. Then according to the existing radio broadcast, the ball sailed over the centerfield fence where no ball had traveled before.
So what was the gesture all about?
Some contend that he was holding up two fingers after he took the second strike, as if to say "that's only strike two."
Ruth himself changed his story multiple times, but in a later newsreel footage, Ruth said the following:
"Well, I looked out at center field and I pointed. I said, 'I'm gonna hit the next pitched ball right past the flagpole!' Well, the good Lord must have been with me."
Even in Root's 1970 obituary, the play was discussed.
Root always vehemently contended that there never was a "called shot" and that Ruth was just gesturing towards the Cubs dugout. Root always claimed that if Ruth was calling a home run or gesturing out to him personally, he would have drilled Ruth with the next pitch.
The person closest to the play, Cubs' catcher Gabby Hartnett had the following account of the play:
“I don’t want to take anything from the Babe, because he’s the reason we made good money, but he didn’t call the shot. He held up the index finger of his left hand … and said, ‘It only takes one to hit.’ ”
While those two accounts seem to stack the deck against Ruth, Cubs public address announcer Pat Pieper, who was situated on the field that day and newspaper reporter Joe Williams each claim that Ruth did, in fact, call his shot.
The truth may never be known about Babe Ruth's "called shot" in the 1932 World Series, but it's lofty place in baseball lore is not up for debate.
Baseball tends to have an ebb and flow between the dominance of hitters and pitchers. However, when pitchers dominated like never before in 1968, Major League Baseball took action.
That season is noted as the point when baseball lowered the pitcher's mound to ten inches, down from 15 inches. However, what really should be noted is that 1969 became the year when they actually enforced the height of the pitcher's mound.
While the rule book always said the pitcher's mound should be no higher than 15 inches, nobody ever checked from stadium to stadium.
In fact, in a 1969 Sports Illustrated article, Stan Musial claimed that some teams built their mounds up to 25 inches!
Some of the greatest pitching feats of the second half of the 20th century happened during the 1968 season.
Bob Gibson set a modern record with a 1.12 ERA, Denny McLain won 31 games and Luis Tiant held batters to a .168 batting average against, a Major League record.
Juan Marichal went 26-9 and threw an incredible 328 innings. He threw 30 complete games during 1968.
Don Drysdale threw 58 consecutive scoreless innings and six straight shutouts.
The pitching was so dominant that Carl Yastrzemski led the American League with just a .301 batting average and team slugging percentages and batting averages approached levels seen during the Deadball Era.
Whether it was the lowering of the mound or the addition of four expansion teams, batting averages soared in 1969 as the tide of dominance started to turn back to the hitters.
One of the great arguments in sports is which Major League Baseball record is the toughest to break.
It's highly doubtful anyone will top Cy Young's 511 wins or Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, but Johnny Vander Meer has a record that would be just as tough to top.
For someone to top what Vander Meer did in 1938, a pitcher would have to throw three consecutive no hitters.
It's pretty safe to say that's probably not going to happen.
On June 11, 1938 Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. He followed that up by twirling a no-no against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first night game ever played at Ebbets Field.
Despite the famous picture associated with this slide, there were only five players in the inaugural class of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1936, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America were given the chance to vote for the best players of the 20th century. 226 ballots were cast and 170 votes were required to become an official member of the inaugural class of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Almost unbelievably, Babe Ruth wasn't the top vote-getter when all were added up. That honor belonged to Ty Cobb, who garnered 222 of the 226 votes. Ruth and Honus Wagner tied with 215 votes, Christy Mathewson had 205 and Walter Johnson rounded out the class with 189.
Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker and Cy Young were next in line, but fell short of the 70 percent needed.
There was confusion about Young though, as players from the 1800's were considered in a different ballot. Because Young's career spanned the turn of the century, there was some confusion by voters on whether he was eligible for the BBWA vote.
So from the first vote forward, controversy has surrounded the MLB Hall of Fame vote.
Debates have raged for years and fans have campaigned (both successfully and unsuccessfully) for players to be inducted.
If Kirby Puckett is in, why not Don Mattingly? If elite defense counts for Bill Mazeroski and Ozzie Smith, why doesn't it count for Keith Hernandez? Bruce Sutter is in but Lee Smith isn't?
The debates are fervent, they are passionate and they are part of what makes the Baseball Hall of Fame great.
And it all started with the BBWA vote of 1936.
"I won't be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all."
That quote from George Steinbrenner was among the first he uttered upon announcing his purchase of the New York Yankees and of course nothing could have been further from the truth.
The once-proud franchise of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle had fallen on hard times in the late 1960s and early '70s and after a failed ownership by CBS, Steinbrenner purchased the team for $10 million.
Professional sports hasn't been the same since.
Steinbrenner was extremely meddlesome and demanding during the early part of his ownership, but he restored the Yankees to their glory quickly.
Steinbrenner's accomplishments, blunders, felonies and personality are all too big to include in one small Bleacher Report slide, but most people reading this know of them all anyway.
Steinbrenner turned the Yankees into a global brand and was at the forefront of the business world even very late into his life.
Steinbrenner was one of the first to take advantage of free agency in its infancy and was among the first to spend unabashedly to accrue star power.
He was also one of the first owners to have his team develop its own network. The YES network launched in 2002 and gave the team greater leverage (and more profit) when dealing with television rights.
It gave the Yankees further ability to basically print their own money.
The bottom line is that when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, the sports world changed forever. He also turned his $10 million investment into a dynasty estimated to be worth close to $2 billion.
Baseball purists grumble every time a major change is made to the game and when the wild card was added to the mix in 1994, they grumbled loudly.
People who were still angry about things like divisional play, the designated hitter and expansion talked about the watering down of the MLB playoffs and the fact that a team that didn't even win its own division could win the World Series.
Bud Selig argued that too many teams were eliminated from contention by the Fourth of July and played meaningless ball all summer.
Selig envisioned more teams staying alive, more fans staying interested and subsequently, an increase in attendance.
For once, Selig was right.
The wild card created much more excitement towards the end of seasons and gave teams and their fans hope when all hope would have been lost. It helped the game progress towards the 21st Century and allowed for some of the greatest moments in baseball history to happen.
It took three years before the Florida Marlins became the first team to win the World Series as a wild card team and since then it has happened four other times. In fact, the Marlins have won two World Series titles, but have never even won an NL East title!
They have Bud Selig and the wild card to thanks for that.
"The Catch" may have not been the best play that Willie Mays ever made, but it is certainly the most memorable.
The play has been shown thousands of times since Mays made the catch in the 1954 World Series, but it was the timing of the catch and also the throw that made it truly remarkable.
The play came in the eighth inning of game one of the 1954 World Series. The Giants and Indians were tied 1-1 and the Indians had a rally going.
With runners on first and second, Vic Wertz smashed a shot directly over Mays' head in centerfield. The ball was estimated to travel 420 feet, but because of the spacious outfield at the Polo Grounds, it stayed in the park.
With his back turned to the infield and in a full sprint, Mays ran down the shot, making an over-the-shoulder catch. He wheeled and threw immediately to the infield. Larry Doby was able to tag from second to third, but Al Rosen, who was on first, stayed put.
The Giants got out of the inning, went on to win the game in ten innings and swept the Indians to take home the World Series title.
Unless you lived through it, it's tough to understand the relationship Major League Baseball had with the American public during World War II.
The game lifted the spirits of the public and was essential in raising funds through war bond campaigns and fund raising exhibitions.
However, baseball's place during World War II was not always certain. In fact, even Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis didn't know quite how to proceed.
Landis eventually reached out to President Franklin Roosevelt for guidance in January as planning for the 1942 season was about to begin. Landis wasn't sure if they should cancel baseball until the end of the war or to proceed with the sport as planned.
Roosevelt responded to Landis with an emphatic vote to continue the sport as planned.
In what came to be known as the "Green Light Letter," Roosevelt made his case for the continuation of baseball by emphasizing that the country needed the recreation, jobs and overall distraction from the horrors of war.
With Roosevelt's blessing, Landis declared the 1942 baseball season open for business and it ended up playing a bigger part in the war than most anticipated.
The effects of the terror attack of 9/11 were felt across the country, but obviously ran deep in New York. Aside from the grief, horror and anger, there was just a sense around New York of not knowing what to do.
Life as everyone knew it was different from that point on.
The Major League Baseball season was reaching the home stretch when the attacks took place, but the game was understandably shut down once the attacks happened.
When games resumed in New York on September 21, the Mets were home to take on the Atlanta Braves. It would be the first major sporting event in New York since the attacks.
After a moving ceremony to start the game, the Mets and Braves met on the field and embraced each other in a show of compassion. The teams had been bitter rivals for the past decade, but that night was about more than baseball.
The game itself was a tense, 1-1 affair through seven innings, but Mets reliever and native New Yorker John Franco gave up a run in the top of the eight as the Braves nudged ahead.
In the bottom of the inning, Edgardo Alfonzo drew a one-out walk to bring up Mike Piazza, the face of the franchise. Piazza already was enjoying a good night with two doubles, but as he often did, rose to the occasion at hand.
With the count 0-1, Piazza drove a pitch deep over the centerfield fence to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. The hit touched off a massive celebration at Shea Stadium and many point to that moment as the first sense of normalcy that many New Yorkers had since the attacks.
New Yorkers finally had something to cheer for.
On October 7, 1969 Curt Flood was part of a seven-player trade between the Cardinals and the Phillies.
Turns out, that didn't sit too well with Curt Flood.
Flood didn't want to go to the Phillies for a number of reasons and decided to fight the trade...all the way to the Supreme Court.
The MLBPA, led by Marvin Miller, advised Flood that they would take on the full financial responsibility of the case and thus one of the major milestones in baseball labor was set into motion.
Flood contended that after playing twelve years in Major League Baseball, he should have some kind of rights to determine where he would play. He penned a letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in which he said, in part:
After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.
Flood's case was backed by the MLBPA as a whole, but divided the rank and file as some players felt the owners were within their right to trade a player as they wished.
The case went to the Supreme Court and featured testimony from Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg among others.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Major League Baseball by a 5-3 decision.
However, the loss of Flood's case ended up solidifying the players union even further and laid the groundwork to help institute free agency in Major League Baseball.
The case also led to the clause in which players who have played ten years in the majors and the last five with the same team have the right to veto any trade.
Larry Doby never got near the recognition as Jackie Robinson for his efforts in Civil Rights and that's a shame.
Less than three months after Robinson broke the Major League color barrier, Doby became the first black player to play in the American League when he was signed to the Cleveland Indians by Bill Veeck.
While Veeck is more known for concocting some of the crazier stunts the game has seen, he was not only responsible for bringing Doby to the Majors, but Satchel Paige as well.
Doby suffered many of the same indignities as Jackie Robinson and handled them with class that matched the pioneer.
Doby appeared in seven straight All Star games in the 1950s and received MVP votes in four different seasons.
While Robinson gets a ton of credit for being the first black ballplayer, Doby and Veeck integrated the American League less than three months later.
Hank Greenberg played during an era with some of the most revered players in Major League history. His career started when Babe Ruth was still active and his contemporaries included Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott and Joe DiMaggio.
While his on-field accomplishments were on par with those immortals, it was what Greenberg stood for off the field that set him apart from that group.
Greenberg burst onto the scene as a 23-year-old slugger in 1934 for the Tigers and when he won the MVP in 1935 after driving in 170 runs, Greenberg became the first true Jewish superstar in American sports.
While Greenberg was a trailblazer in that sense, it was what he did in 1941 that really made him a pioneer.
Greenberg was the first American League player drafted in 1940 and served through most of 1941. He was honorably discharged on December 5, 1941 and was set to continue his baseball career the following spring.
However, two days later, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Almost immediately, Greenberg re-enlisted in the Army, putting his career on hold for four years. This time he was the first Major Leaguer to enlist after Pearl Harbor.
Stars like DiMaggio, Williams and Bob Feller soon followed and eventually, a majority of big leaguers put their careers on hold to fight in World War II.
The journey taken by Satchel Paige from his first game in the Negro League in 1926 until he was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1971 is probably the most incredible in baseball history.
He started playing when Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were still active and when he wrapped up his career with a three-inning stint for the Kansas City A's in 1965. He was on the same staff as Catfish Hunter. and one of the final batters he faced in his career was a young Carl Yastrzemski.
What happened between Cobb and Yastrzemski is the stuff of legend.
Because cities only wanted to host his barnstorming teams if he was pitching, Paige developed the ability to pitch nearly every day. He claimed in his Hall of Fame speech that he once pitched in 165 games in a row.
What makes Paige's induction in the baseball Hall of Fame so important though is because it marked the end of a journey that started with segregation and racism, and ended with the most revered honor in the sport.
Paige's Negro League career spanned 22 years of being held out of the Major Leagues and the racism he faced along the way was unspeakable.
He finally got the chance to pitch in the majors in 1948 and despite the fact that he was 42 years old when he broke in, he put together a five-year career in which he was two-time all star.
Paige's induction into the Hall of Fame was important as it marked another barrier broken in the sport.
Although the Hall of Fame's first class was elected in 1936, it took 35 years before the league recognized the accomplishments of Negro League players for induction.
When Ted Williams gave his induction speech in 1966, he urged the committee to consider Negro League players, which they finally did with Paige's induction in 1971.
Incidentally, if you have some free time, give Satchel Paige's Hall of Fame induction speech a read.
The 1994 Major League Baseball strike was one of the worst work-stoppages in major sports history.
It was the fourth work stoppage in 22 years and the eight overall in baseball history. The strike caused the cancellation of nearly 1000 games and the entire post season, including the World Series.
It was the first time a major American sport lost their entire postseason due to a work stoppage.
The strike lasted 232 days and reached the height of animosity when owners approved the use of replacement players as spring training rolled around in 1995.
There were a number of notable on-field ramifications of the cancellations of the remainder of the 1994 season.
The strike cut short what was the best season the Montreal Expos had ever had. They sat with the best record in baseball at 74-40 and had a six-game lead in the NL East.
The strike also cost Don Mattingly his first chance at postseason play as the Yankees also had a commanding lead in the AL East.
Tony Gwynn was flirting with a .400 average as he was hitting .394 with less than 50 games to play and Matt Williams was on pace to tie Roger Maris' home run record.
The strike ended during spring training of 1995 and teams returned to play a shortened 144-game schedule in mid-April to great animosity from the fans.
The sport was said to have suffered the consequences of the strike for four years until the home run race of 1998 rejuvenated interest in the game nation-wide.
The 2012 New York Yankees have 17 players on their 25-man roster who will make at least $1 million this season. Even the Oakland A's, who have the lowest payroll in the majors, have 12 players who will make at least $1 million.
If you turn back the clock 32 years to 1980, only one player in the Major Leagues made over $1 million: Nolan Ryan.
Everyone is familiar with the trade that sent Ryan from the Mets to the Angels. He stayed in California for eight seasons where he developed into one of the top strikeout pitchers in the game.
The only real knock on Ryan was that when you got past all the strikeouts, he lost nearly as much as he won. Ryan had a record of 138-121 while in California, which worked out to an average season of 17-15.
Ryan declared free agency after the 1979 season and made it known that he was seeking to become baseball's first million dollar player. Angels' general manager Buzzie Bavasi cited his less-than-spectacular won-loss record and refused to meet Ryan's demands.
The Astros though were a different story. Ryan was a native Texan and the Astros had been in existence less than two decades. They hadn't made much of an impact on the game during their time, and in Ryan they saw the chance to make a big splash.
Ryan's tenure in Houston was nearly the same as it was in California.
He racked up strikeouts at a tremendous rate, trotted out to the mound for over 200 innings a year and he lost just about as much as he won.
Ryan had a ton of spectacular moments over his career and even if he didn't have a staggering winning percentage, he still was worth the price of his million dollar contract.
Bud Selig may not go down as the most popular baseball commissioner of all time, but he can't be criticized for allowing the game to become stagnant.
Selig has generated many progressive ideas that have allowed the game to rapidly evolve in the two decades he has been in power.
Among the ideas that he pushed forward (against the will of baseball purists) was interleague play.
Interleague play had been seriously discussed by Major League Baseball since the 1950's but it wasn't until 1997 when it finally became a reality.
As baseball looked to become more fan-friendly in the years after the 1994 player's strike, one of the major changes they made was the approval of interleague play.
The biggest attraction was the idea of geographical rivals finally playing against each other in games that count. The top draws were the Mets vs. Yankees "Subway Series," the Cubs vs. the White Sox and the Dodgers vs. Angels.
To give an idea just how big interleague play was in New York, the first Subway Series game between the Mets and Yankees in 1997 drew just about as many fans as the Yankees 1998 World Series home games against the Padres.
Some detractors of interleague play point out the meaningless matchups like the Mariners vs. the Marlins that occur every so often or the unfair draw of the schedule, but overall, the idea of interleague play has been a hit with the fans.
Attendance still shows an increase during interleague play and as long as teams are making money on it, interleague play will be here to stay.
Aside from the 1930 season, the Yankees were managed by Hall of Famers Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy for every year from 1918-1946.
After Bill Dickey spent the 1946 season as a player-manager, the Yankees seemed like they made a smart hire for 1947 when Bucky Harris led the team to a World Series title.
However, after the 1948 season, the Yankees were looking for a manager again.
The Yankees were still an elite team and needed a good leader to continue their success. So when they hired a quirky manager with a career record of 581-742, fans and the media were understandably skeptical.
It would be Casey Stengel who had the last laugh though. Despite the fact that he never led a team to a finish higher than fifth place and finished above .500 just one time in nine years, Stengel led the Yankees to incredible success for the next decade.
The Yankees won the World Series in each of Stengel's first five seasons and seven times in his 12-year managerial stint.
Stengel managed the Yankees from 1949-1960 and only missed the World Series twice. They finished second in 1954 despite winning 103 games and had a disappointing third-place finish in 1959.
The New York Mets have been in existence for 50 years and the best player who ever suited up for the franchise continues to be Tom Seaver. It's hard to imagine that someone who was so talented and so immensely popular could have an exit the way he did.
In 1977, the era of free agency had begun in Major League Baseball and players were seeing riches like never before. Seaver was a big part of that as the Mets player rep in the negotiations that brought free agency to baseball.
Seaver was unable to cash in immediately on the new rules though because he had signed a big contract just before salaries skyrocketed.
The animosity that eventually got Seaver jettisoned out of New York was essentially a rift between he and Mets Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant. Grant held a grudge against Seaver for his role as a player rep and when Seaver criticized Grant for not participating in free agency, the war was on.
Making matters worse, influential Daily News columnist Dick Young sided with Grant on the issue and made that very well known in the press.
The situation deteriorated through the early part of the season and finally Seaver had enough.
The final nail in the coffin was a column by Young in which he mentioned Seaver's wife, along with Nolarn Ryan and his wife.
"That Young column was the straw that broke the back," Seaver said. "Bringing your family into it with no truth whatsoever to what he wrote. I could not abide that. I had to go."
In a move dubbed "The Midnight Massacre," Seaver was dealt on June 15th to the Reds for a collection of mediocre players who filled the gaps on some of the worse Mets since the 1962 season.
The haul for the one Hall of Fame pitcher to play a chunk of his career with the Mets? Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Pat Zachary and Dan Norman.
The current version of the Braves have one of the longest and most celebrated histories in all of American sports.
The team's roots date all the way back to 1871 when they were the Boston Red Stockings. At different times before World War I, they were known as the Red Caps, Doves, Rustlers and Beaneaters.
They were named the Boston Braves from 1912-1952 with a short four-year period mixed in when they were the Boston Bees.
The Boston Braves were basically famous for three things: the place where Babe Ruth ended his career, the 1914 World Series miracle win, and the "Spahn, Sain and pray for rain" years.
With attendance dwindling in the 1950s, reaction in Boston was tepid when they decided to uproot the franchise and move to Milwaukee.
What happened next though helped shape the landscape of baseball and set in motion events that would make baseball what it was today.
Their first year in Milwaukee, fans went wild over the Braves. They drew an NL-record 1.8 million fans and immediately rejuvenated the moribund franchise.
Sluggers Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews led the Braves to a World Series title in 1957 and things were going swimmingly in Milwaukee.
In fact, things went so well for the Braves that other teams began to relocate.
Not coincidentally, after the success of the Braves' relocation, the Philadelphia A's, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and St. Louis Browns all relocated to new cities.
The Braves' stay in Milwaukee was a short one as they moved to Atlanta after the 1965 season.
However, their short stay in Milwaukee was more successful and influential than anybody could have imagined in 1952 when they were basically the laughing-stock of the league.
Looking back on it, who thought building Veterans Stadium, Riverfront Stadium or Three Rivers Stadium were good ideas?
While it's true the stadiums were able to accommodate the cities' football and baseball teams, the stadium designs themselves had no imagination and no creativity.
Thus the term, "cookie cutter."
Thankfully, when Oriole Park at Camden Yards came around in 1992, it totally broke that mold.
Camden Yards was unlike anything built since the days of the Polo Grounds, Forbes Field or Shibe Park and fans went crazy for it.
Camden Yards replaced Memorial Stadium, which was the Orioles home from 1954 until it closed in 1991. Known as "The Old Gray Lady," the stadium was usually half-empty during Orioles games as they averaged less than 25,000 fans a game over the stadium's final ten years.
The opening of Camden Yards renewed the interest of baseball fans in Baltimore and also landed the city on the map of "must-see" stadiums like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.
While the park itself was beautiful and unique, it's real impact on the game was that an outbreak of copycat stadiums opened up around the Major Leagues.
Although the stadiums themselves didn't mimic Camden Yards, just about every new stadium built went for the same "retro" feel.
In the 20 years since Camden yards was built, stadiums like PNC Bank Park in Pittsburgh, PETCO Park in San Diego and Minute Maid Park in Houston have followed suit along with over a dozen other new stadiums.
Because of the ground Camden Yards broke, baseball is now played largely in stadiums that have creative designs, interesting dimensions and their own unique personalities, as opposed to staid, multi-purpose stadiums that populated the game in the 1970s and '80s.
What should have been a historic chase of one of the most hallowed records in all of sports, turned into a spectacle of animosity and controversy as accused cheater Barry Bonds chased down the revered Hank Aaron in 2007.
With Bonds closing in on Aaron's career home run mark of 755, one of the sport's "magic numbers," it seemed the only people supporting him were the fans in San Francisco.
Bonds was heckled and booed mercilessly and creative signs about Bonds' steroid abuse dotted the stands in opposing ballparks.
On August 4, 2007 Bonds hit home run No. 755 to tie Aaron and creating even more of a circus atmosphere at Giants' games for a few days.
It took Bonds three days before he connected for home run No. 756 against the Nationals' Mike Basick. Coincidentally, Basick's father actually pitched to Aaron in a game in 1976 after he had hit No. 755 and held him without a home run.
The home run touched off a short celebration in which Bonds thanked the crowd for their support. Conspicuously absent from the game were baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Aaron himself.
The classy Aaron did record a congratulatory message to be played on the scoreboard despite the fact that rumors have it that he was less than pleased with the steroid-enhanced home run record pursuit.
It's hard to imagine now in this day where an athlete's every move, whether public or private, seems to be broadcast across social media, but not too long ago that wasn't the case.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, any carousing, partying, infidelity or otherwise abhorrent behavior by professional athletes stayed secret among the team.
Even the newspaper reporters were part of the club. They reported on the games and other happenings surrounding the teams, but nothing personal.
The code of clubhouse secrecy was broken by a mediocre pitcher named Jim Bouton when he penned the highly influential book Ball Four in 1969.
The idea of Ball Four started innocently enough as a diary penned by Bouton as he went through the 1969 season as a pitcher on the Seattle Pilots, who were in their first and only year of existence in the Major Leagues.
What it turned into was a tell-all about the season and the previous six seasons he spent with the Yankees.
Bouton's peek behind the curtain talked of rampant drug use, heavy drinking and partying, bickering about roles on the team and any subject that had been taboo to publication up to that point.
Needless to say, not many people were happy.
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn degraded the book and tried to force Bouton into admitting that the stories were fabricated. Players and journalists alike were appalled at the lines Bouton crossed and he was just about blackballed from the game.
Perhaps his most infamous passages were ones about Mickey Mantle. While he did compliment Mantle extensively in the book, he did tell stories that painted the Yankee hero in a negative light as well.
It was perhaps the first time anyone acknowledged in print the dark side of Mantle, and it resulted in a long feud between the two former friends.
Although Ball Four was not well-received by the baseball community, the literary community heralded the book as groundbreaking. It is considered one of the most influential sports books ever written as it blew the cover off of the secrecy of the baseball clubhouse.
Ball Four even landed on Time Magazine's list of the 100 greatest non-fiction books of all time.
Despite having a lineup stacked with Hall of Famers and winning the National League by 13.5 games, one can understand why fans didn't exactly expect the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the 1955 World Series.
You see, the Dodgers had won the National League pennant five times between 1941 and 1953 and each time came up empty in the World Series.
And each time they lost to the New York Yankees.
In 1955 it was more of the same as the Dodgers and Yankees faced off once again for the World Series title.
After the Yankees won the first two games, things looked bleak for the Dodgers. But once they swept the next three games at Ebbets Field, they sent a message that this was a different Dodgers team.
The Yankees took game six, setting up game seven, one of the biggest games in New York World Series history.
Behind a shutout performance by Johnny Podres and two RBIs from Duke Snider, the Dodgers won 2-0 and captured their first, and only, World Series in Brooklyn.
Rickey Henderson is a player whose stats will be looked at by future generations with wonderment of how it all happened.
Henderson dominated the stolen base the way Babe Ruth dominated the home run in the 1920s. When he stole 130 bases in 1982 it was more than 11 entire team's totals for the season. It was even triple the total of the Red Sox and Twins.
Henderson broke Lou Brock's career record on May 1, 1991 when he stole third against the Yankees. Henderson broke the record in his 11th season while it took Brock 19 years to record 938 steals.
The lasting moment from Henderson's record was his declaration that he was "the greatest of all-time." The bold statement, which was said during an on-field address immediately following his steal, rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the years.
What seems to have been lost over the three decades since the record was broken was that Henderson spent nearly his entire speech talking about other people. He thanked the fans, his mother and friends and took the time to speak about the late Billy Martin.
Henderson played for another 12 years after breaking the record and ended his career with 1,406 steals.
His record will stand for a long time as the current career-leaders in stolen bases, Juan Pierre, Ichiro Suzuki and Carl Crawford have 1,414 steals combined.
Carl Hubbell had a 16-year Major League career filled with amazing accomplishments.
Considered one of the great pitchers of all time, Hubbell set a record for most consecutive wins with 24, was a nine-time All Star, two-time MVP and was the first National League player to have his number retired.
However, he is best known for his accomplishment in the 1934 All Star Game.
The game was played at the Polo Grounds, Hubbell's home park, and he didn't disappoint the hometown fans.
In the game, Hubbell used his famous screwball to strike out five of the game's greatest hitters in a row.
The future Hall of Famers Hubbell fanned consecutively were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.
In a great coincidence, an 81-year-old Hubbell was on hand for the 1984 All Star Game to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his accomplishment by throwing out the first pitch. Hubbell threw a screwball for his first pitch and then took his seat to watch the game.
National League pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and rookie Dwight Gooden then proceeded to strike out six batters in a row. Valenzuela, a screwball pitcher himself, struck out three Hall of Famers--George Brett, Dave Winfield and Reggie Jackson.
Usually numbers can be manipulated to tell any kind of story you want them to. Some players may have numbers that look good by traditional standards, but when using some of the advanced metrics to further analyze a season, some flaws may arise.
One of the exceptions to the rule is the season Pedro Martinez had in 2000.
Throw whatever statistic you want out there, traditional or Bill James-related, and Martinez easily had one of the most dominant seasons in Major League Baseball history.
In statistics that will pop out even to the casual fan, Martinez ended the season with a 1.74 ERA and 284 strikeouts in 217 innings. In those 217 innings, he walked just 32 batters. His ERA was never over 1.81 at any point during the season and was standing at 0.99 through 12 starts.
During the months of April, May and July, Martinez made 15 starts and allowed a measly 13 earned runs total.
For those who are interested in advanced sabermetrics, Martinez dominated there just the same.
Martinez's WHIP of 0.74 was the lowest of all-time, topping the record Walter Johnson held for 87 years. His average game score of 73 was second only to Bob Gibson's historic 1968 season, but the league averaged a full two-runs fewer during Gibson's year.
To put things in perspective, the league ERA for 2000 was 4.91, which meant that Martinez's mark of 1.74 was 64.5 percent lower than the league average. If someone were to hit 64.5 percent higher than the league's batting average, he would have hit .454 in 2000.
The statistics can be analyzed any way you want, but it's always the same result: Pedro dominated in an unbelievable way.
To make things even more remarkable, Martinez did this during one of the peak seasons for offensive outbursts during the Steroid Era.
Nolan Ryan didn't always have dominant stuff, but when he did, nobody was touching him.
Ryan hurled 37 games during his career in which he allowed two hits or less, including an incredible seven no-hitters. The seven no-hitters is a record and is three more than Sandy Koufax, who is in second place with four.
Of all the dominant performances he had during his amazing 27-year career, Ryan's seventh no-hitter on May 1, 1991, was clearly his best.
Ryan was 44 years old at the time and by his own account, did not feel his best that day. In fact, Ryan sounded like he wasn't even going to be able to pitch that night.
"I don't know how you feel at 44, but I feel old today. My back hurts. My ankle hurts. I've been pounding Advil all day, and it isn't helping," Ryan said to pitching coach Tom House. "You'd better watch me good out there tonight. I didn't think I'd be out there very long."
Aside from the fact that he was 44, Ryan threw 131 pitches in his previous start.
Ryan was set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays and a lineup featuring All Stars like Joe Carter, Devon White, John Olerud and Roberto Alomar.
He may have been hurting, but once he started pitching, everything clicked. Ryan ripped through the Blue Jays in the first two innings, striking out four batters along the way. When he struck out the side in the second inning, it was clear he had his best stuff.
By mid-game, Ryan was reaching 96 mph on the radar gun and blowing through the Jays like a man among boys. Not only did he not allow a hit, but he was striking batters out at an alarming rate.
Through seven innings, he had 13 strikeouts and only a Manny Lee blooper to center even had the looks of a hit.
In the ninth, Ryan was due to face Lee, White and Alomar. One side note to this was that Roberto Alomar's father Sandy was actually Ryan's second basemen for two of the no hitters he threw for the California Angels.
After retiring Lee and White easily, Ryan fanned Alomar for the final out.
The strikeout was Ryan's 16th of the game, the most he had in any of his no-hitters. The win was the 305th of his career and 60th shutout.
Amazingly, the Blue Jays hit just 8 balls in fair territory all night and only four out of the infield.
Ryan went on to pitch for two more seasons and won 19 more games after his May 1st no-hitter.
Had Barry Bonds hit home run number 71 before the great home run race of 1998 and without the assistance of steroids, it would probably be looked at as one of the top ten achievements in baseball history.
Maybe even top five.
Instead, what we have is a tainted home run record that is probably untouchable.
Bonds broke McGwire's record of 70 with a home run off Chan Ho Park on October 5, 2001 and added another homer later that game.
He hit home run No. 73 on October 7.
Bob Gibson was one of the fiercest competitors to ever take the mound and he was at his most dominant in 1968, the "Year of the Pitcher."
Pitching dominated in 1968 more than any year after World War II and Gibson led the way.
Gibson finished the year with an incredible 1.12 ERA, the lowest ERA since the end of the Deadball Era and completed 28 of his 34 starts. In five instances, Gibson pitched beyond the ninth inning, including a 12-inning win against the Astros in which he allowed just one run.
Since 1968, nobody has matched Gibson's 1.12 era and nobody has even come close to intimidating hitters the way Gibson did in his prime.
How important was Bill Klem to Major League Baseball?
His nickname was "the father of baseball umpires."
Klem started umpiring in 1905 and some of the things he pioneered, umpires are still using over 100 years later.
Klem was the first umpire to use arm signals and also the first to stand to the side of the catcher, rather than directly behind him.
The start of Klem's carer pre-dated Babe Ruth by a decade and he continued to work until players like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were getting their start. He called balls and strikes strikes for Christy Mathewson and worked the World Series in 1908, the last time the Cubs won it.
He finally retired after 37 years in 1941.
On top of his innovations, Klem is credited with bringing dignity and respect to the profession. Umpires were not always viewed as fair and objective officiants when the game was in its infancy.
However, nobody questioned Klem's honor.
In 1953, along with Ton Connolly (who umpired from 1898-1931) Klem became the first umpire inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ken Burns Baseball could appear on a list like this involving the history of baseball and the history of documentaries.
The documentary is an epic accomplishment and is the most exhaustive visual representation of the history of the sport.
It shows images, video and commentary never seen before and brings players like Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Cy Young to life.
The documentary is 18 1/2 hours long and is appropriately divided into nine "innings."
The film starts with an introduction to the game and the series and talks about the origins of the game. It then goes into the formation of the American League and how it integrated with the National League.
Some of the most important moments of the documentary involve extensive information on the Negro Leagues and the barnstorming days of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and other Negro League stars.
It also focuses on the rise and fall of Babe Ruth, baseball's important role during World War II, the New York "Boys of Summer" of the 1950s and labor strife of the 1970s and 80s.
The documentary drew 45 million viewers and is the most-watched program in Public Television history.
Ichiro Suzuki came to America in 2001 with hype that many thought would be impossible to match.
While he was an accomplished player in Japan, this was Major League Baseball--the highest level of play in the world. The pitchers were better, the season was longer and his style of play was unconventional by American standards.
Not only did Ichiro exceed those expectations, he thoroughly blazed past them.
Ichiro dominated the game on offense, defense and on the basepaths in a way that was not expected one bit.
He set a rookie record with 242 hits and led the league with a .350 batting average and 56 stolen bases. He was the first player to lead in both categories since Jackie Robinson did it in 1949.
Ichiro had the highest vote total of anyone in the All Star Game and won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards at the end of the year. He led the Mariners to 116 regular season wins, tied for the most all-time.
While Ichiro dominated statistically in 2001, just the fact that he was in the Major Leagues is what gets him on this list.
In 2001 Ichiro became the first everyday player to make the jump from the Japanese League to the Major League. His success showed that Japanese players were capable of playing successfully in America.
Since Ichiro debuted, ten additional position players have come over from Japan to play in the Major Leagues.
The 1969 Mets were only in their eighth year of existence and based on the team's first seven years, it seemed like they'd never win a World Series.
The Mets of the early-1960's fielded some of the worst teams the game has seen, but had a swift turnaround behind the development of young pitching.
The Mets had never finished higher than ninth place in their existence, but because of expansion, the league was now divided into two divisions and an extra round of playoffs were added.
The Mets hung around the middle of the pack for most of the season, but a mid-season collapse by the Cubs coupled with a Mets' hot streak catapulted the Mets to the top of the NL East.
The Mets made easy work of the Braves in the first-ever NLCS, sweeping them in three games and then took on the Orioles in the World Series.
The heavily-favored Orioles featured Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer along with strong supporting players in Mike Cuellar, Boog Powell, Davey Johnson and Paul Blair.
The Orioles won 109 games during the regular season, but that didn't phase the Mets, even after they lost game one.
The Mets bounced back and won game two, 2-1 on a ninth-inning rally and didn't look back from there. They won game three easily and then a pivotal game four in ten innings.
Game four featured an incredible ninth-inning catch by Ron Swoboda to preserve the tie.
The Mets fell behind 3-0 in game five, but scored five runs over the final three innings to capture the title.
From start to finish, the Miracle Mets' World Series title was one of the most improbable championships in baseball history.
With the speed at which the baseball is pitched, batted and thrown it's actually a miracle Ray Chapman was the last Major Leaguer to die as a result from injuries sustained by a baseball.
The tragedy happened in 1920 when New York Yankees submarine pitcher Carl Mays drilled Chapman in the temple, causing the scrappy Indians shortstop to collapse in an ugly scene at the Polo Grounds.
Mays was a well-known spitball pitcher and, as many pitchers did during the era, intentionally scuffed and dirtied the baseball, making it difficult to see. Throw in the fact that game was being played in the twilight and that Mays pitched with a low, submarine delivery and it had to be nearly impossible for Chapman to dodge the pitch.
After Chapman was hit, he crumpled to his knees not far from the batters box. The ball caromed off his head so hard that Mays actually fielded the ball and threw it to first, thinking it hit the bat.
He was helped off the field, barely coherent, and died 12 hours later in a New York City hospital.
When the best pitching seasons in Majoe League history are discussed, Steve Carlton's 1972 season is usually near the top of the list.
People are quick to point out that Carlton won 27 games while his team won just 59 total games, but even without that fact, his season was beyond remarkable.
The numbers simply speak for themselves.
For those who are big on WAR as a statistic, Carlton's '72 season was the second best WAR season for a pitcher, beat out only by Walter Johnson's 1913 season.
In 19 of his starts he went nine innings or more and allowed one run or less.
Carlton had six more wins, 57 more innings pitched, 61 more strikeouts and seven more complete games than any other NL pitcher in 1972.
He started 41 games in 1972 and 32 of them were on three days rest.
Any way you break down the stats, they are incredible.
It is a season the likes of which won't be seen in the Majors again unless the game undergoes some kind of sweeping changes.
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes a player will come from out of nowhere to take over the game and sweep fans off their feet.
One of the greatest stories that falls into this category was "Fernandomania" in Los Angeles during the 1981 season.
Fernando Valezuela was a 20-year-old Dodger prospect in 1981 when Tommy Lasorda tabbed him to be the Opening Day starter after veteran Jerry Reuss was injured.
With his round face and protruding belly, Valenzuela looked nothing like a professional athlete. His windup was unconventional and at its apex, he glanced towards the sky.
He was like nothing anybody had ever seen and he was wildly successful to start his career.
On top of everything, Valenzuela was Mexican, which played hugely with the large Mexican community of Southern California.
Valenzuela shutout the Astros on Opening Day of the 1981 season and continued his dominance throughout the season.
Fernandomania escalated quickly as he started the season 8-0 with five shutouts. His starts gained national attention, huge crowds and a throng of media coverage as Valenzuela and the Dodgers made their way around the country.
He finished the season with a 13-7 record, won the NL Cy Young Award, NL Rookie of the Year and helped the Dodgers to a World Series title.
George Brett's actions in the "Pinetar Game" were the result of one of the great meltdowns in Major League history.
Brett had just hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth inning off Goose Gossage at Yankee Stadium.
Earlier in the season, Graig Nettles remembered an obscure rule about how far pine tar could be applied up onto a bat. He noticed Brett's pine tar exceeded 18 inches and informed Billy Martin about it. Martin was waiting for an opportune time to use it and this was it.
Umpire Tim McLelland measured the pine tar against home plate and determined it was illegal. He took a few steps to the Royals dugout, pointed at Brett and signaled that he was out.
Brett exploded from the dugout and set off a wild melee at home plate.
While Brett was being restrained by multiple people, Gaylord Perry grabbed Brett's bat and handed it off to a bat boy and told him to make for the clubhouse. Security chased him and confiscated the bat.
The Royals protested the game to American League President Lee McPhail and McLelland's decision was reversed. McPhail cited that the spirit of the rule was insignificant as it was inserted into the rule book for financial reasons.
When the game resumed, there were some quirks to deal with. The Yankees' original second baseman, Bert Campaneris was on the disabled list and centerfielder Jerry Mumphrey had been traded, so they were unavailable.
Martin used pitcher Ron Guidry in centerfield and first baseman Don Mattingly at second.
Martin then also appealed that Brett and U.L Washington didn't touch the bases after Brett's homer. The umpires were not the same ones as the original date, so Martin was going to contend they had no way of knowing.
However, the league anticipated Martin might do that and had a sworn affidavit from the previous umpires that all bases were touched. Martin didn't want to hear any of that, so he protested the game himself.
The game was played to its completion and the Royals went on to win 5-4.
In 2005 Jose Canseco wrote the book Juiced in which he claimed to run a 3.9 second 40-yard dash and talked about his relationship with Madonna.
Oh, and he may have mentioned a slight steroid problem in baseball.
When Sports Illustrated wrote a damning piece about steroids in the game, using admissions from Ken Caminiti and insight from Curt Schilling, there was a throwaway line about Canseco claiming he was going to write a tell-all book.
Well wouldn't you know it, three years later he did.
The thing that separated Juiced from Tom Verducci's SI article, was that Canseco named names.
Specifically, he called out Jason Giambi, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Pudge Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez among others.
While there had always been claims about McGwre, Giambi and Sosa, some of those mentioned in Juiced were formally linked to steroids for the first time.
Canseco didn't have much credibility at the time due to a lifetime of outrages claims and insane antics, but just about everything he claimed about steroids in baseball turned out to be true.
Juiced isn't the first time someone claimed there was a steroid problem in baseball and there are dozens of journalists who have written about the issue over the past two decades.
However, Canseco was the first person within the baseball community to name specific players who used steroids. It helped set in motion the events that led to the Mitchell investigation and subsequent changes in MLB's steroid policy.
Say what you will about Canseco the man, but his book was highly influential.
Before the era of 24-hour national baseball programming, the only way you saw highlights from games around the country was on the outside chance that your local nightly news showed some of yesterday's highlights.
When This Week in Baseball debuted in 1977, it provided fans with a weekly rundown of highlights from around the league that most had only read about in the papers.
Hosted by legendary announcer Mel Allen, "TWIB" ran down the most important games, plays and accomplishments of the week and also included features and blooper reel as well.
One of the most enduring things about TWIB was the fantastic musical score that accompanied the opening and closing of the show.
Allen hosted TWIB from 1977 until his death in 1996.
The series continued on in some incarnation until 2012 when it was cancelled by Fox.
As far as the Mets were concerned in 1971, Nolan Ryan was a one-dimensional pitcher whose bad control was getting worse and was considering giving up the game before the age of 30.
At the time, they were probably happy to get a player of Jim Fregosi's caliber in return.
Of course history has taught us that the Ryan-Fregosi trade (which also included three other throw-in players by the Mets) was one of the most lopsided trades in Major League history.
Ryan was a 22-year-old promising reliever on the 1969 World Champion Mets with a strong arm. Through his first three seasons, he averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings, but also averaged over five walks per nine innings.
As his workload increased in 1970 and 1971, Ryan's record worsened, his strikeout numbers declined and his walk totals increased. He did not seem to be on the path to anything except an early start on his non-baseball career.
Fregosi on the other hand was a six-time All Star by 1971 and at just 29 years old, seemed to have plenty of good years ahead.
When Ryan was shipped to the Angels, something clicked for him and he immediately became a dominant hurler. He led the AL with 329 strikeouts and was named to the All Star team. He was eight in the Cy Young voting and received MVP votes.
Fregosi on the other hand played 145 games for the Mets, accumulating a .232 batting average along the way. He was sold to the Texas Rangers midway through the 1973 season.
If fans in Pittsburgh realized what a historic day September 30, 1972 would be, maybe more of them would have showed up to the game.
In front of just 13,117 fans in Pittsburgh, the legendary Roberto Clemente recorded his 3,000th career hit. It would be the final hit of his career as Clemente died in a plane crash the subsequent New Year's Eve.
Clemente was 37 years old at the time and although he still had a very good season, was starting to break down physically. He only played in 102 games in 1972, but still produced a .312 batting average and finished 13th in the MVP voting.
Clemente recorded the historic hit against 22-year-old rookie Jon Matlack who admitted he had no idea Clemente was going for his 3,000th hit.
Perhaps the most shocking fact surrounding Roy Halladay's 2010 NLDS no-hitter was that it was the first game he had ever pitched in the postseason.
Halladay had enjoyed 12 years of near-dominance as he racked up 148 career wins but was on a Blue Jays team that was always stuck behind the Yankees and Red Sox.
Halladay's dominance in his no-hitter can be seen in multiple ways when the game is examined closer. He threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of the 28 batters he faced, he faced just one batter over the minimum and the only thing that stood in the way of a perfect game was a 5th-inning walk by Jay Bruce.
Halladay's game score of 94 was only surpassed in 2010 by his own regular-season perfect game and Brandon Morrow's 17-strikeout, one-hit complete game shutout.
Reds' All-Star second baseman summed it up perfectly when he said, "If he was pitching against the Phillies today, they probably would have done the same thing we did."
The no-hitter was only the second postseason no-hitter and first since Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game.
As baseball moved into the new millennium, there remained three stadiums where fans could be transported back decades in their baseball experience just by walking through the gates.
Those stadiums were Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.
While Yankee Stadium underwent major renovations over the years, it was still largely the same place that saw Babe Ruth crack home runs in the 1920s, host Lou Gehrig Day in 1939 and had Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle patrol centerfield during the middle of the 20th Century.
However, on August 16, 2006 the Yankees broke ground on a new stadium located right across the street, giving the the old stadium a veritable death sentence.
The Yankees gave their old home a grand sendoff on the final day of the 2008 season and demolition began in March of 2009.
As demolition commenced and continued for over a year, fans streamed by the stadium to witness history slowly dying in the Bronx.
The demolition was deemed complete in May of 2010, leaving just Fenway and Wrigley as pre-Depression dinosaurs from the past.
The Twins and Braves played one of the greatest World Series of all-time in 1991 and it was capped by one of the greatest pitching duels in World Series history.
Before the World Series even started, it was historic as the Braves and Twins each finished in last place the year before. No team had ever gone from last place to the World Series, but in 1991 both teams did.
The series had been incredibly dramatic as five games were decided by one run, four games were won in the final at-bat and three games went to extra innings.
But game seven would top them all.
Jack Morris faced off against John Smoltz and both went toe-to-toe like heavyweight champions.
Morris came out on top as he pitched ten shutout innings to lead the Twins to the World Series win.
The game was the first 1-0 game seven since 1962 and the first game seven since 1924 to be won by the home team in the bottom of an extra inning.
Smokey Joe Wood just might be the best pitcher you never heard of.
In 1908 he debuted as an 18-year-old pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, pitching successfully in six games. The next season he continued to pitch well, going 11-7 with a 2.18 ERA.
However it was in 1912 when he made the jump to a truly elite level with one of the greatest pitching seasons of all-time. That year, Wood went 34-5 with an ERA of 1.91. He led the league with 35 complete games and ten shutouts.
In 1912 he also faced off against Walter Johnson in a matchup that was billed as a heavyweight fight. The game drew over 29,000 fans to Fenway Park, spilling over into standing-room sections. Wood out-dueled Johnson by spinning a two-hitter in a 1-0 win.
One look at the WAR leaders in the American League for 1912 shows Wood with a higher WAR than players like Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Collins.
His career record at that time was 81-43 with an ERA of 1.95.
So why isn't Wood listed along side Johnson as the greatest pitcher of the Deadball Era?
He broke his thumb fielding a bunt.
Wood's fateful injury came on July 18, 1913 when he fell trying to field a bunt or a slow roller in the infield. The injury knocked him out for the season (with the exception of a one-inning relief appearance) and began a string of injuries and misfortunes that ended his greatness.
Wood played until 1922, but missed the 1916 season and spent many of the years between 1918-1922 as a position player.
He still compiled a 117-57 record and on the 1915 Red Sox pitching staff that featured Babe Ruth and Herb Pennock, Wood led the team with a 1.49 ERA.
Nobody knows what could have become of Wood had he not broke his thumb in 1913, although it is clear to say he was on a path that would have led him towards immortality.
Prior to 1967, Major League Baseball Triple Crowns were achieved with some regularity. Between 1900 and 1967, a Triple Crown was accomplished 13 times including one in both leagues in 1933.
In 1966, Frank Robinson won the American League Triple Crown with the Baltimore Orioles, ending a ten-year drought from when Mickey Mantle won it in 1956.
The following year, Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat with the Boston Red Sox.
The Triple Crown has not been accomplished since and rarely is the feat ever threatened.
Yastrezemski led the AL in RBI and batting average by a comfortable distance, but was in a tight race with Harmon Killebrew for the home run title.
Yaz took a brief 44-43 lead over Killebrew when he hit a home run in the next-to-last game of the season. However, in the same game Killebrew homered in the ninth to tie him for the AL home run lead at 44.
Going into the final game of the season, Yaz had the RBI title wrapped up (121-113 over Killebrew) and was going to be the AL batting champion with a comfortable lead over Robinson.
Neither Yastrzemski or Killebrew homered, so they finished tied at 44 homers each.
Although it was a tie, Yastrzemski was still considered the AL home run champion and secured the last Triple Crown the game as seen through the 2011 season.
When Roger Clemens took the mound on April 29, 1986 most people in Boston couldn't care less.
It was just the 18th game of the season and it was against the lowly Seattle Mariners. On top of that, the Celtics were playing in game two of a playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks and the NFL Draft was held earlier in the day.
By the end of the night, a legend had been born.
Clemens was a highly-rated prospect when he made it to the majors in 1984, having been a first-round draft choice just the year before. He started 35 games over the 1984 and 1985 seasons and did well for a 22 year old. He came into the 1986 season with a 16-9 career record.
Clemens began his evening by striking out the side in the first inning. He struck out two batters in the second but then just one in the third. His six strikeouts through three innings was impressive, but nothing historic.
It was from the fourth through sixth innings that Clemens really picked up the pace. He recorded eight consecutive outs via the strikeout, one coming after Don Baylor dropped a foul pop.
He struck out two in the seventh and eight innings and stood two away from the record at 18 going into the ninth. The Mariners had the top of their lineup due up, but to Clemens that night, it didn't matter who was up.
He mowed through Spike Owen and Phil Bradley to break the record with one out to spare. He got Ken Phelps to ground out to end the game, which incidentally was a 3-1 Red Sox win.
Usually when a pitcher throws a one-hitter and allows just two baserunners, they aren't reduced to a side note.
But unlucky for the Cubs Bob Hendley, he faced Sandy Koufax, who threw the first Modern-Era perfect game by a lefty that day.
The game remains the only game to date in which there was just one total hit combined by both teams.
For Koufax, the perfect game was his fourth career no-hitter, a record that would stand until Nolan Ryan nearly doubled his total.
For the first six decades of the 20th Century, there were just sixteen teams total in Major League Baseball.
Things were simple; the best team in the eight-team American League played the best team in the eight-team National League in the World Series. There was no need for any playoffs.
In 1962 Major League Baseball added four teams and things started to get a little crowded.
When they added four more teams in 1969, there was a need for a major reshaping of the game
The National League added the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres while the American League welcomed the Kansas City Royals and infamous Seattle Pilots.
With 24 teams now in Major League Baseball, the league needed to realign to compensate for the fact that it had doubled in size over the course of the decade.
The league divided into four, six-team divisions and the League Championship Series playoff round was added before the World Series.
The idea of the designated hitter in baseball stretches all the way back to the early 1900's and even had a supporter in the legendary Connie Mack.
However, it was not seriously considered until the late 1960s when it became clear that the league was lacking in offense and being totally dominated by pitchers.
The "Year of the Pitcher" season of 1968 finally pushed things over the top and it became evident that measures had to be taken to increase offense.
While leagues didn't instantly approve the designated hitter, they did begin trial runs in spring training.
Finally, the designated hitter was approved for the American League beginning in 1973.
The honor of being the first designated hitter in Major League history fell to Ron Blomberg of the Yankees. In his first at bat as a DH, he walked against Boston's Luis Tiant.
The implementation of the DH changed the course of history in the game. It extended the careers of legends like Carl Yastrzemski and Paul Molitor and became the primary position of stars like Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas and Harold Baines.
Don Denkinger is one of the most accomplished umpires in MLB history. Over the course of his 30-year career, he umpired four World Series, six American League Championship Series, three All Star Games and two Divisional Series.
He was even one of only seven umpires to be on a crew for multiple perfect games.
However, he will always be best-known for a blown call in the 1985 World Series.
With the Cardinals holding a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning and up three games to two in the series, Denkinger called Royals leadoff batter Jorge Orta safe on a slow-roller despite clearly being out by a full step.
The call spurred a two-run rally and allowed the Royals to force a game seven, in which Denkinger would be the home plate umpire.
Game seven was an unmitigated disaster for the Cardinals as manager Whitey Herzog jawed with Denkinger from the start of the game until he was finally ejected along with pitcher Joaquin Andujar.
Cardinals ace John Tudor, a pitcher who relied on pinpoint control and nipping at the corners (and the umpires giving him those calls) allowed four walks and five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings.
The Royals went on to win 11-0 to capture their only World Series title to date.
In the aftermath of the call, Denkinger received death treats and hate mail for years. A St. Louis radio station even went so far as to broadcast his phone number and home address.
The good news is that Denkinger was a stand-up man about the call. He fully admits to missing the call and takes responsibility for his mistake.
He keeps a painting of the call in his home and willingly autographs the famous picture of Todd Worrell holding the base with the ball clearly in his glove and Orta still a step away.
There are two interesting notes about Denkinger and his life after the call. First, he eventually reconciled with Herzog and even appeared as a guest speaker at a Whitey Herzog Youth Foundation event.
Also, Denkinger served on the same crew later in his career with Jim Joyce, another great umpire whose career will be defined by blowing an eerily similar play in another huge spot.
It's hard to fully blame Steve Bartman for the Cubs loss to the Marlins in the 2003 NLCS, but he surely played a major role.
The Cubs were ahead of the Marlins 3-0 with just five outs away from a trip to the World Series when Bartman interfered with a potential catch by Moises Alou.
Bartman apologists (non-Cubs fans) point out that despite the interference, the Cubs still had plenty of opportunities to get out of the inning.
Luis Castillo, who hit the Bartman ball, eventually walked. Pudge Rodriguez singled to make the score 3-1, bringing up the dangerous Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera hit a perfect double play ball to Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who bobbled the grounder.
After the Gonzalez error, the floodgates opened and by the time the inning was over, the Cubs were down 8-3.
The Marlins would go on to win game seven and eventually the World Series, leaving the Cubs still in search of their first World Series title since 1908.
From the instant Alou jumped up and down in protest, Bartman was vilified in Chicago. Clips show people berating Bartman and even throwing a slice of pizza at him. He was escorted out of Wrigley Field and basically never heard from again.
Bartman's father came to his defense and the Cubs and Bud Selig issued statements absolving Bartman of effecting the outcome of the game.
Bartman himself has refused all interview requests, doesn't participate in any social media and has even reportedly turned down a six-figure offer to appear in a Super Bowl commercial.
Whether Bartman ever returns to Wrigley or makes some kind of appearance is anyone's guess.
If Bill Buckner can be forgiven in Boston, anything is possible.
At the time 2012 started, most people recognized that Miguel Cabrera was the best right-handed hitter in the game.
By the time the season ended, there was no question he was the best overall hitter in the game.
Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski pulled the feat in 1967 and became just the 15th player in the modern era to lead his league in home runs, RBI and batting average.
There had been a number of close calls over the years, including last season when Matt Kemp was a real candidate going into the stretch run of the season, but Cabrera finished on an incredible hot streak to accomplish the feat.
From Sept. 1 through the end of the season, Cabrera batted .333 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI and batted .400 over the final week of the season to top Mike Trout by .004 for the batting title.
Cabrera ended the season with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI to lead the Tigers to the American League Central title.
With the advent of around-the-clock media coverage and instant social media feedback, if a player makes a major mistake that leads to a loss, word is going to spread quickly.
Obviously that wasn't the case in 1908, but the name Fred Merkle lives on in infamy anyway.
Merkle was a first basemen for the New York Giants and in 1908 was the youngest player in the National League at 19 years old. On the morning of September of 23rd, Fred Tenney, the Giants regular first basemen, woke up with a sore back.
Giants Hall of Fame manager John McGraw decided to pencil Merkle in the lineup for his first Major League start in a crucial game against the Cubs.
The Cubs, Giants and Pirates were the top three teams in the league at the time and were in a battle for the National League pennant.
The game was a tightly contested, 1-1 affair as the legendary Christy Mathewson allowed just an inside-the-park home run that was matched by an RBI single by Mike Donlin.
Giants' shortstop Al Bridwell came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on third and Merkle on first. Bridwell lined a first-pitch single to center, setting off a wild celebration in which fans stormed the field.
Merkle, either because he joined the celebration or was scared off by the charging fans, never made it to second base.
Cubs' Hall of Fame second baseman Johnny Evers realized what happened and called for the ball.
What happened next is anybody's guess as you can imagine the story would change over the 100 years since it happened.
Some claim that Giants first base coach Joe McGinnity got the ball before Merkle did and threw it into the crowd. Others say Evers found a ball and tagged second, but it wasn't the actual ball from the game. Mathewson, who may have been the most trustworthy person on the field that day, including the umpires, claimed he saw Merkle touch second.
Either way, the game was ruled a tie and appeals by the Giants were overruled. At the end of the season, the Giants and Cubs were in a dead tie for first place with identical 98-55 records. They were forced to play a one-game playoff in which the Cubs won.
The Cubs would go on to win the 1908 World Series, but haven't won another one since.
And in the age before Twitter, Facebook and television, Fred Merkle became one of the first nationally recognized goats of a professional sporting event.
When Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color barrier in 1947, it opened up the opportunity for a whole new pool of players to join the Major Leagues.
Players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Larry Doby, Roy Campanella, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson and Monte Irvin all debuted in the league during the subsequent decade as teams took advantage of the supreme talent that had been playing in the Negro Leagues.
To say the Red Sox were a little late to that party is an understatement.
Team owner Tom Yawkey and manager/general manager Mike Higgins were not known to be at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement to say the least and they resisted the urges to integrate, even if it was at the expense of their own ballclub.
Stories abound about how Jackie Robinson was run out of Fenway Park during a tryout before he landed with Brooklyn. They had opportunities at Mays and Aaron and passed on them too.
It took the Red Sox until 1959 before they finally decided to integrate their ballclub, the last to do so in the Major Leagues.
Finally on July 21, 1959 a black ballplayer took the field for the Red Sox when Pumpsie Green pinch ran during a 2-1 loss.
Even though the Sox had finally integrated, Yawkey and Higgins continued to face tremendous scrutiny for their actions. It was argued that they intentionally chose Green, a marginal player at best, to be the one who integrated the club.
The organization had faced backlash by fans for years about integration and rumor was that they chose a player of Green's ability because if their first black player turned out to be a star, fans would be even more angry that they hadn't done it sooner.
Watching the Red Sox suffer heartbreak after heartbreak so many times as they tried to break "The Curse of the Bambino," fans got the feeling that they had to do something extraordinary to finally reach the promised land.
In 2004, that extraordinary feat happened.
The Sox entered the postseason as the wild card and made quick work of the Angels in the Division Series.
Up next was their hated rivals, the New York Yankees.
The Sox fell behind three games to none and most had them written off by that point. No team had ever come from down 3-0 in a postseason series and the Red Sox didn't seem like they would either, especially after losing game three 19-8.
Things looked even more glum as the Sox were down 4-3 and had to face Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth of game four. However, they mounted a game-tying rally and sealed the win when David Ortiz hit a walk-off, two-run homer in the 12th inning.
From that point, Rivera and the Yankees didn't seem so invincible.
Ortiz delivered another extra-inning win in game five when he hit singled home Johnny Damon for a 5-4, 14-inning win.
The Sox won game six in Curt Schilling's famous "Bloody Sock Game" and the Red Sox rode a second-inning grand slam from Damon to a 10-3 win and a berth in the World Series against the Cardinals.
After the Yankees series, it was clear that nothing would stop the Red Sox as they trounced the Cardinals in a four-game sweep to give the Sox their first World Series title since 1918.
One of the most vicious baseball fights of all time happened between Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro during a 1965 game between the Dodgers and Giants.
In each of Maury Wills first two at bats, Marchial threw pitches near Wills' head. When Marichal came to bat in the third inning, it wasn't Dodgers starter Sandy Koufax who sought redemption, it was Roseboro.
Roseboro's return throws to Koufax grazed Marchial's head, causing him to snap.
When Roseboro removed his mask to escalate the argument, Marchial shockingly clubbed him in the head with his bat multiple times.
Roseboro required 14 stitches to close the wound and Marchial received a surprisingly light suspension. he was fined $1,750 and missed two starts.
The story has a happy ending though as Marichal and Roseboro reconciled their differences and remained very good friends until Roseboro's death in 2002.
Opening Day of the baseball season is a day of promise and hope. It's a sign that the long winter is over, spring is here and summer is right around the corner. Every team is on even ground and fans all dream of best-case-scenarios for their teams.
Opening Day in Cincinnati is even more special, as tradition there runs deep. For years, the Reds were the first team to start play every season and the city and ballpark just about treat it as a holiday.
On Opening Day of the 1996 season, all good feelings quickly turned to horror as home plate umpire John McSherry collapsed just seven pitches into the season when he was stricken with a heart attack. He died on the way to the hospital.
The tragedy marked the first death of on-field personnel during a game since 1920 when Ray Chapman was hit in the head with a pitch. Neither Chapman or McSherry actually died on the field, but they each were stricken during live action in a game.
McSherry was a popular and respected umpire who was good enough to work 12 postseason series and three All Star games. He was the home plate umpire for Reggie Jackson's historic three-home run night in the 1977 World Series.
McSherry weighed well over 300 pounds at the time of his death and had actually put off a doctor's visit about an irregular heartbeat to work home plate on Opening Day in Cincinnati, something he considered a great honor.
As a result of the tragedy, Major League Baseball made an effort together with umpires to stress physical fitness among the crew.
When a batter is standing up at the plate knowing it's going to be the final at bat of his career, it's only natural to think he would like to go out with a home run.
It's fitting that the greatest hitter of all time did just that.
Ted Williams was 42 years old in 1960 and even at his advanced age, still enjoyed a great season.
The Red Sox were taking on the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park in the penultimate series of the season, but everybody knew Williams was going to make the trip to New York for the final series of the year.
In the eighth inning on September 28, Williams strode up to the plate for the final time as a big leaguer. He took ball one from Jack Fisher and swung at the second pitch for a strike.
It was on the third pitch that Williams provided one final exclamation point to one of the greatest careers anyone ever had.
Williams blasted the third pitch over the right field fence for a dramatic farewell.
But the story doesn't end there.
As Williams trotted around the bases, the sparse Fenway crowd gave Williams a standing ovation. Despite his accomplishments, Williams had a famously frosty relationship with the fans. Because of this, Williams did't tip his hat or acknowledge the fans in any way.
He didn't even come out for a curtain call despite being goaded by his teammates.
Williams did go out for the ninth inning and was pulled for a defensive replacement in order to get one final standing ovation. With the Fenway crowd standing again, Williams simply jogged off the field, put on his jacket and called it a career.
The emergence of Babe Ruth ushered out the Deadball Era and brought about an entirely new game of explosive power numbers in Major League Baseball.
While the new era produced some big offensive numbers over the subsequent decades, no slugger could maintain their power the way Ruth did.
That is, until Willie Mays came along.
On September 22, 1969 Willie Mays entered a 2-2 game in the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres as a pinch hitter for a young George Foster.
Manager Clyde King was looking for a power boost to give the Giants the lead. Mays was lookig for the 600th home run of his career.
Unfortunately for Padres pitcher Mike Corkins, Mays satisfied both.
He cranked a long home run to give the Giants a 4-2 lead they would hold on to for a crucial win in a close pennant race.
When Mays reached the 600 home run mark, he joined Ruth as the only players in the exclusive club. Ruth reached 600 homers in 1931, so it took 38 years (with a big interruption by World War II) before someone joined him.
Hank Aaron reached 600 homers in 1971 and then it took 31 more years before Barry Bonds hit No. 600 in 2002.
As of 2012, there are now eight members of the 600 home run club.
As Babe Ruth was making history in the American League, Hack Wilson wasn't far behind in the NL.
Wilson's 1930 season still remains as one of the great offensive seasons in Major League history and he put up one of the most recognizable numbers in the baseball record book: 191.
Wilson's 191 RBIs still stands as the Major League record over eight decades after it was accomplished.
In fact, despite all of the legendary sluggers who have played the game, the record was never really threatened seriously.
Wilson's record is also one of the few power records that has endured through the Steroid Era.
Wilson was in his prime during the 1930 season and should have gone on to a storied career along with contemporary sluggers of his time like Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mel Ott.
However, Wilson was a heavy drinker and didn't do much to keep in shape and he was out of the game by 1934.
Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig have nothing on Wrigley Field.
While Ripken and Gehrig are known for their historical streaks, they don't come close to the streak that Wrigley Field held until August 9, 1988.
That was the day when a streak of 5,687 home day games was snapped at Wrigley Field.
It's hard to imagine now, but as late as 1987 Wrigley Field had never hosted a night Major League Baseball game.
Due in part to a threat from Major League Baseball that Wrigley Field could not host any postseason games until they installed lights, the Cubs decided to relent and install lights for the 1988 season.
They still play an extended day baseball schedule, but Wrigley Field is less of a time capsule than it was prior to 1988.
The first night game was slated for August 8, 1988, and the Cubs made a huge deal of it. The announcers (besides Harry Caray) wore tuxedos, Ernie Banks threw out the first pitch and a 91-year-old fan who had been going to games at Wrigley since it opened threw the switch to turn on the lights.
Everything seemed to be perfect but a rainout canceled the event in the fourth inning. The Cubs played the Mets the following night and when the game became official after five innings, the streak of 5,687 home day games had been broken.
When Houston was awarded an expansion baseball franchise in 1960, part of the deal was that they had to provide an indoor stadium to cope with the unbearable weather conditions during the Texas summers.
The concept of the Astrodome was born in the early 1950s and by the start of the 1965 season, the Astrodome was ready to open.
The original surface of the Astrodome was actually grass rather than AstroTurf. Some panels in the ceiling were left clear to allow enough sunlight in to keep the grass alive. However, when the glare caused fielders to drop too many fly balls, the panels were painted white.
This caused the grass to die and forced the Astros to play on painted dirt and dead grass for the remainder of the season.
Eventually the field was converted fully to AstroTurf and while they didn't have to worry about the AstroTurf dying, other problems arose.
When the Astrodome opened in 1965 it was the first multi-purpose indoor sports stadium and considered an architectural marvel. It was even nicknamed the "Eight Wonder of the World."
The first home run hit in the stadium was in an exhibition game by Mickey Mantle and the first regular season homer was hit by Dick Allen.
The Yankee teams of the mid-to-late 1970's may have been the most colorful team during an era of great characters. There was the Big Red Machine, Charlie Finley's Swingin' A's, the "We are Family" Pirates and Bill Veeck's antics with the White Sox.
And of course there was "The Bronx Zoo."
From the owner's box to the manger's seat to the starting nine, just about everyone on the team had some kind of extreme personality. The names read off like a casting call of a baseball sitcom.
The cast of characters included Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Sparky Lyle, Lou Piniella, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner.
But the heart of the team was Thurman Munson.
Munson was the hard-nosed catcher who was respected by everyone. He may have been the only person willing to speak his mind to anyone, including Steinbrenner, Martin or Jackson.
The grit and desire Munson played with took its toll on his body and as the 1979 season dragged on, he was seeing less time behind the plate. It was apparent that Munson would maybe just play another year or two and be ready to call it a career.
He never got that chance though.
On August 2, 1979 Munson died in a plane crash on a Yankee off-day as he practiced take-offs and landings at an airport outside of Canton, Ohio.
Munson's plane clipped the top of trees and fell apart as it careened across the ground, settling at an exposed tree stump near the runway. His two passengers survived the crash and tried to rescue Munson, who is believed to have suffered a broken neck in the crash.
Munson's legs were pinned in the wreckage and his door was jammed shut. He died of smoke inhalation not long after.
At the insistence of Munson's widow Diana, who still remains a part of the Yankee family, the Yankees played the following day, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Orioles.
In a stirring tribute, the Yankees took the field with the catcher's position empty throughout a pregame ceremony that included an eight-minute standing ovation.
The Yankees flew to Munson's funeral in Ohio on the morning of August 6 and then returned home to take on the Orioles on Monday Night Baseball. After giving his best friend's eulogy earlier in the day, Bobby Murcer drove in all five runs in a dramatic, come-from-behind 5-4 win.
Munson's number was immediately retired and his plaque sits in the same company as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.
When the Dodgers signed Hideo Nomo after he got into a contract dispute with his Japanese team, they knew they were getting a unique pitcher who had the chance to baffle hitters with a style few of them had ever seen.
What they didn't know was the grand scope of his arrival and the subsequent media crush that followed him everywhere he went.
Nomo was a popular pitcher in Japan and when he made his trek to America, he became the first Japanese-born player to move from the Japanese League to the Major League since 1965.
The Dodgers had to process dozens of additional media credentials for games Nomo pitched and Dodger games were broadcast back to Japan.
The more success he had, the bigger the circus got.
Nomo was tremendously successful in 1995 as he won the NL Rookie of the Year, made the All Star team and led the NL in strikeouts.
Perhaps his most telling stat was that he broke a franchise record by averaged 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings. The previous record belonged to someone named Sandy Koufax.
Nomo's success blazed the trail for other Japanese players to come to the majors. Since Nomo debuted, 35 other pitchers from Japan have followed in his footsteps.
Want to put Connie Mack's managerial career into perspective? Just consider that it started 20 years before World War I began and ended five years after World War II was over.
Mack was born during the Civil War and managed long enough to see Jackie Robinson integrate baseball.
His managerial career lasted from 1894 to 1950 and predictably, he holds any managerial record that has to do with longevity.
His 3,731 wins, 3,948 and 7,679 games managed are all records by a long shot.
Mack took over as manager of the Philadelphia A's in 1901 and stayed at the helm until 1950. During that time he won five World Series titles.
Mack enjoyed his best run from 1928-1931. His team was as stacked with more immortal players than just about any team in history. His roster in 1928 included Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove and Tris Speaker.
An aging Mack was persuaded in his later years to step aside from managing by his sons. Mack relented and retired at the age of 88.
Upon his retirement, Mack said, "I'm not quitting because I'm getting old, I'm quitting because I think people want me to."
The A's fell apart without Mack at the helm and he eventually sold his ownership stake in 1954. Mack died two years later at the age of 93.
When Orel Hershiser was on his game, he was practically the exact same pitcher as Greg Maddux. The only thing that separated the two was that Hershiser did it for two seasons while Maddux did it for two decades.
Like Maddux, Hershiser didn't possess a dominating fastball, but had impeccable control and swift, late movement. When Hershiser was on, batters typically pounded pitch after pitch into the ground or mishit popups to the infield.
Hershiser's greatest stretch of work came in September of 1988 which is arguably the best month of play any pitcher has ever had.
During the month, Hershiser started six games, threw five shutouts, threw 55 innings and did not allow a single run.
Coupled with the four shutout innings he hurled in his final August start, Hershiser reeled off 59 consecutive scoreless innings. The mark broke Don Drysdale's record of 58 straight scoreless innings, and is considered one of the toughest pitching records to break.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the record was that coming into the final game of the year, Hershiser needed nine scoreless innings to tie the record and ten to break it.
That meant the only way he could break the record was if the game was tied 0-0 and Tommy Lasorda would have no qualms about letting his ace pitch ten innings in a meaningless game at the end of the year.
That's exactly what happened.
Of all the things Bill Veeck said and did, there was one statement he made that nobody could argue with.
In his autobiography Veeck -- as in Wreck, he wrote, "(Gaedel) was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball. He was also the only one."
The player he referenced was Eddie Gaedel, a 3'7" midget he sent up to bat as a pinch hitter in a game on August 15, 1951.
Veeck kept the stunt quiet as the St. Louis Browns played in a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.
In between games of the doubleheader, Gaedel jumped out of a papier-mache cake in a celebration honoring the 50th anniversary of the American League. However, that was just the start of the theatrics.
In game two, Frank Saucier was due to lead off for the Browns in the first inning. However, Browns manager Zack Taylor sent in Gaedel as a pinch hitter.
Wearing uniform number 1/8, Gaedel looked at four straight balls from Bob Cain and trotted down to first base, taking time to bow to the crowd on the way.
After making it to first, Gaedel was lifted for pinch-runner Jim Delsing, who played the remainder of the game.
When word got around to the league office, American League President Will Harridge voided Gaedel''s contract saying that Veeck was making a mockery of the game.
While Gaedel never stepped foot on the field again, Veeck employed him multiple times over the next decade in other capacities.
Gaedel was a known drinker and had a combative personality. Both played a part in Gaedel's death just ten years after his pinch hitting appearance for the Browns.
Roy Campanella got his start in baseball playing in the Negro League for the Washington Elite Giants in 1937 as a 16-year-old.
When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, Campanella was in the Dodgers Minor League system biding is time with an eye on how the Robinson move went.
Larry Doby soon followed Robinson and full-out integration was underway.
Campanella was called up to the big club in 1948 and soon after became one of the top catchers in the game. He played in every MLB All Star game from 1949-1956 and was named MVP of the National League three times.
Campanella made one final pinch hitting appearance in the Dodgers' final game in Brooklyn in 1957 and was set to move to Los Angeles with the team in 1958.
He would never make it there as a player though.
On a cold January night, Campanella was driving home from a liquor store he owned and worked at in the offseason when his car hit a patch of ice and slid off the road.
Campanella was originally paralyzed fully from the neck down, but did gain use of his arms eventually. He was however confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
One of the great underrated baseball stories of the past few decades is the remarkable story behind Phil Niekro's 300th career win.
Niekro, the famous knuckleball pitcher, was able to linger in the majors until the age of 48 because of how little stress he put on his arm and body throwing his signature pitch.
Niekro got a late start in the majors, and had registered just 31 wins by the age of 30. However, Niekro began to truly master the pitch his father taught him and from 1969 on, he became more consistent.
By the time the 1984 season was over, Niekro was 45 years old and still 16 wins shy of 300. Statistically, he was still effective, but at 45, the future wasn't certain.
Niekro pitched effectively in 1985 and on July 8 was 7-8, just about half way to the 16 wins he needed 79 games into the season.
Niekro then reeled off an 8-1 stretch over the summer and needed just one win over his last five starts for his 300th.
Adding to the pressure was the personal grief Niekro was going through. His father was gravely ill and had slipped into a coma in the hospital.
Neikro rushed back and forth between the hospital and the team as the season wore down, and maybe it was all the extra travel and personal strife, but he failed to win in his first four tries at No. 300.
For whatever reason, Niekro's knuckleball wasn't working over those starts, so he did the unthinkable. He abandoned the pitch.
In what could have been the final start of his career, the 46-year-old decided he would try to get through the Blue Jays with fastballs, curves, sliders and anything else he could think of that wasn't a knuckleball.
It was a crazy idea...and it worked.
The Yankees gave Niekro a 3-0 lead in the first inning and continued to tack on runs throughout. All the while, Niekro was more masterful than anyone could have imagined.
Niekro carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning and by the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around, the Yankees were ahead 8-0 and Niekro was still on the mound, having allowed just three hits.
With two outs, Niekro allowed a double to pinch hitter Tony Fernandez and then faced Jeff Burroughs. Niekro got two strikes on him and had just one strike left for win No. 300.
The only thing missing from this movie-script masterpiece was the knuckler. He didn't throw the pitch once all game, but what would be a Niekro moment without the knuckler?
The final pitch was a knuckleball, it fluttered in for strike three, setting off a celebration for one of the most respected players in the game.
The celebration didn't last long though as Niekro rushed back to the hospital. From what Niekro knew, they were going to put the game on the radio in the hospital room for his comatose father.
When Niekro arrived to the hospital, he found his father sitting up in the bed, awake and aware for the first time in weeks. As Niekro tells it, his father leaned over to his mother in the seventh inning and said "Phil's pitchin' a heckuva game, ain't he?'"
Niekro delivered the game ball to the man who taught him the pitch.
He went on to pitch a few more seasons and ended his Hall of Fame career with 318 wins.
Niekro's story of his 300th win is incredible and one small slide in a lengthy article does not do it justice. Follow this link to hear Niekro tell this story in his own words.
When Ty Cobb retired from Major League Baseball, he held over 90 individual records. Some, like his .367 career batting average, are among the most impressive ever while others, like his 271 outfield errors are more dubious.
One record that has stood the test of time without being a product of the era in which he played is that Cobb is the youngest and fastest to 3,000 career hits.
Cobb reached the milestone on August 19, 1921 with a single off of Boston's Elmer Myers. At the time, he was just 34 years old and playing in his 2,135th game, both still records today.
Cobb was the fourth member of the 3,000 hit club (joining Cap Anson, Nap Lajoie and Honus Wagner) and was obviously the first player to reach 4,000 hits.
By comparison, take a look at the most recent member of the 3,000 hit club, Derek Jeter. He reached the milestone relatively quickly (the 8th fastest of all time) but was still 218 games behind Cobb. Jeter also reached the mark at the relatively young age of 37, but that was still three years older than Cobb.
Believe it or not, over 90 years later there might be a threat to Cobb's mark of fastest to 3,000 hits. Ichiro Suzuki came into the 2012 season with 2428 hits in 1772 games. By that count, he would need 572 hits in 363 games to beat Cobb.
If Ichiro racked up hits at the rate he did between 2009 and 2010, he would come dangerously close to the mark. However, he would need to pick up the pace considerably after falling off in 2011.
Either way, Cobb's record of fastest and youngest to 3,000 hits has stood for nearly a century, surviving through the offensive boom of the 1930's, the Golden Era and the Steroid Era.
Mickey Mantle had a number of immortal seasons, but picking out his best is a no-brainer.
In 1956 Mantle didn't just win the American League Triple Crown, he won the Major League Triple Crown, a feat that has been accomplished only four other times. Mantle was the only one to do it during the post-World War II Era.
He was the unanimous choice for the American League MVP in 1956.
Mantle set a career high with 130 RBIs and his 52 homers and .353 average were the second-highest of his career.
In addition to leading the majors in the Triple Crown categories, Mantle also led with 132 runs (a career high) and OPS with 1.169.
He also walked 112 times that year.
On top of his ridiculous regular season statistics, Mantle belted three World Series home runs to help the Yanks to a 4-3 World Series win over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Talk about your all-time season for an all-time player.
With the explosion of power in Major League Baseball after the Deadeall Era, Joe Sewell's incredible accomplishments sometimes go unnoticed.
Simply put, he is the undisputed greatest contact hitter in the history of baseball.
Not Ted Williams, not Joe DiMaggio, not Ichiro.
While Sewell's .312 career average is considerably lower than the elite hitters of all-time, one thing separates him from the others: his ability to put the ball in play.
When it came to avoiding the strikeout, nobody is even close to Sewell.
For his career, he averaged one strikeout per every 63 at bats. That works out to about once every 15 games.
Sewell played from 1920-1933 and from 1924 on, he never struck out as much as ten times in an entire season.
Just to put things in perspective, DiMaggio struck out an incredible 13 times during 1941, his best contact season and the year he hit in 56 straight games..
Sewell struck out a combined 14 times over the 1930, '31 and '32 seasons combined..
Sewell's best contact season came in 1932 when he struck out a grand total of three times all season.
Sewell was not some kind of slap-hitting, part-timer either. In 1932, he was the full-time third baseman for the New York Yankees and logged 576 plate appearances. He had 11 homers and three triples as well.
Earlier in his career, he was a prolific doubles hitter, leading the league with 45 doubles in 1925 and topping the 40-double mark five times.
But the trademark season for Sewell was 1932, when he averaged 167.7 at bats per strikeout.
The nickname "Murderers' Row" was first used about the pre-Babe Ruth 1918 Yankees, but it most closely associated with the 1927 team.
The 1927 team is considered one of the most talented teams to ever take the field and backed it up with their accomplishments. They went 110-44 in the regular season, winning the pennant by 19 games. They then went on to sweep the Pirates in the World Series.
As a team, they batted .307, slugged .489, scored 975 runs, and outscored their opponents by a record 376 runs.
The term "Murderers' Row" specifically referred to the top six batters in the Yankee lineup, four of whom went on to make the Hall of Fame.
Murderer's Row consisted of Earlel Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri. Combs, Ruth, Gehrig and Lazzeri are the Hall of Famers.
This year was the season that Ruth established the home-run record when he belted 60 round-trippers. Gehrig added 47 of his own, batted .373 and drove in 175 runs. Combs had a great year and led the team with 231 hits while batting .356 on the year.
Opening Day is always special, but the historical significance of the 1939 Yankees vs. Red Sox Opening Day game wouldn't be appreciated until decades later.
On April 20, 1939 the Yankees took on the Red Sox as both teams opened their season at Yankee Stadium. Although it was just a regular season contest, the names in the starting lineup make it seem as if it was an All Star game.
The most amazing thing about this game was that it was the one time that Ted Williams stood on the same field as Lou Gehrig.
Williams was a 20-year old rookie making his Major League debut as the Red Sox fifth hitter. Gehrig had suffered through a rough spring training in which whispers arose that he looked like a different person.
Besides Williams and Gehrig, the lineup read like a roll call at a Hall of Fame banquet. For the Yankees, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey and Joe Gordon were in the starting lineup while Red Ruffing was on the mound.
The Red Sox featured Jimmie Foxx, still in his prime, along with Williams, Bobby Doerr and Joe Cronin. Pitching that day for the Sox was 39-year-old Lefty Grove.
Despite all the star power in each lineup, the game was a 2-0 pitchers' duel won by the Yanks, who were incidentally managed by another Hall of Famer, Joe McCarthy.
If there was one game that symbolized the evolution of Major League Baseball out of the early years into the Golden Era, this was it.
Gehrig would play just seven more games in his career before being forced away from the game due to the disease that bears his name.
With the modern boom in home runs, it seems that Mel Ott's incredible accomplishments get lost in the shuffle.
Ott made his Major League debut with the Giants as a 17-year-old and at 5'9", 170 pounds, he looked even younger than that.
On top of his youth, Ott's now-famous batting style was so unorthodox that teammates and coaches questioned whether he could be successful. However, manager John McGraw was staunch in his belief that Ott would be dominant, and he sure was right.
On Opening Day of the 1946 season, Ott connected for his 511th career home run. By then he was a player-manager for the Giants, but was concentrating more on the managing part.
While he played in 34 more games over the next two seasons, he never hit another home run.
Ott's 511 was one of baseball's early "magic numbers." While Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx were dominating the American League, Ott was putting up numbers in the National League that weren't approached by anyone of his era.
Ott's 511 stood the test of time as the National League home run record for 29 years, until Willie Mays surpassed him in 1966. At the time of his retirement, he stood third on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list, behind just Ruth and Foxx.
While 20 players have now surpassed Ott's 511 on the all-time home run list, his number still holds significance in the annals of Major League Baseball.
Despite having a solid 18-year career as a player and hitting a deciding home run in the 1981 NLCS, Rick Monday might best be known for a play that didn't involve any live game action at all.
In 1976 the American spirit was strong. The Vietnam War was in our rearview mirrors and the country was proudly celebrating its bicentennial.
Despite the rampant patriotism, a protester and his 11-year-old son ran out onto the Dodger Stadium outfield and tried to set fire to an American flag.
Monday, a veteran himself who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, realized what was happening and made a dash to save the flag as the protesters fumbled to light their matches after dousing the flag with lighter fluid.
Monday, then a member of the Chicago Cubs, handed the flag off to Dodgers' pitcher Doug Rau after the incident, but the flag was eventually given to Monday as a memento.
Monday is still in possession of the flag and frequently brings to to appearances to support causes in support of American patriotism.
The 1989 World Series was called the Battle of the Bay as it pitted cross-bay rivals the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's.
As game three was about to start, fans in the area were preparing themselves for what they figured was one of the most important sporting events they'd see in their lifetime.
What they learned just minutes before the game started was that no matter how big a game is, there are much more important things in life.
As Al Michaels and Tim McCarver got into their introduction to the game, the broadcast went fuzzy and Michaels interrupted McCarver. He managed to say "I tell you what, were' having an earth..." before power was lost in the stadium.
The stadium shook for less than 15 seconds, but to anyone there it felt like an eternity.
What would become known as the Loma Prieto earthquake struck Southern California, killing 63 people and injuring over 3,000.
Thee World Series was delayed for ten days and when it finally resumed, the A's would continue on to sweep the Giants.
At the age of 22, most players are still scrapping just to get a chance in the Major Leagues.
Tony Conigliaro had 100 career home runs by that time.
Conigliaro made his debut when he was 19 and was enjoying a tremendous season, before breaking his arm and toes in August of 1964. In '65, he bounced back and led the American League with 32 homers, becoming the youngest AL home run champion in the process.
On August 18, 1967 Conigliaro and the Red Sox were in the midst of a remarkable season when they were set to take on the California Angels at Fenway Park.
Conigliaro's life changed that day.
Batting against starter Jack Hamilton, Conigliaro was unable to get away from a high and inside fastball and it caught him just below his left eye. He fractured his cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and damaged the eye itself.
He missed the remainder of that season and the entire 1968 season, but tried for a comeback in 1969. Amazingly, he bounced back to hit 20 home runs that year and was able to hang around until 1971.
Conigliaro never was the same after the beaning and suffered a heart attack in 1982. He also suffered a stroke and as a result lapsed into a coma. He remained comatose until 1990, when he finally succumed to his condition.
Without question, Conigliaro was one of the great young hitters in the game in the mid-1960's and seemed set on a path towards superstardom. Unfortunately, nobody will ever know what would have become of Conigliaro if he hadn't been hit on that day in 1967.
Jackie Robinson's steal of home in the 1955 World Series played no significant role in the Brooklyn Dodgers winning their only World Series, but it sure did provide one of the all-time iconic plays the game has seen.
The steal happened in game one and featured three Hall of Famers in the play. With lefty Whitey Ford on the mound, Robinson was able to get a good jump down the line.
The pitch clearly beat him by a few steps, and Yogi Berra got the tag down pretty quick. In a 1955 Sports Illustrated article, they claimed that photographs taken at the time showed Robinson was out.
However, umpire Bill Summers was the only person whose opinion counted and he ruled Robinson safe.
To this day, Berra still contends that Robinson was out.
The Yankees went on to win game one anyway, but the Dodgers had the last laugh when they won the World Series in seven games.
With many Major Leaguers fighting overseas during World War II, teams had to reach far and wide to find players to fill their rosters. With most able-bodied men overseas fighting, rosters consisted of players who were too old or ineligible for the war.
In 1944 the Reds decided to go the other way and find someone who was too young for the war: Joe Nuxhall.
The Reds were actually scouting Nuxhall's father, but when the elder Nuxhall said that he had no interest in playing professionally, they turned their attention to Joe.
AT the age of 15, Joe Nuxhall signed his pro contract in February of 1944 and was in uniform on Opening Day.
Nuxhall made his debut on June 10, in a game the Reds were losing 13-0 to Stan Musial and the Cardinals.
Nuxhall retired the first batter he faced, but subsequently gave up two hits, five walks and five runs.
Nuxhall played the rest of the season in the minors and would return to the Reds in 1952, following a more traditional path.
Nuxhall pitched for 15 seasons after returning in 1952 and won 135 games over his career.
He still remains the youngest player to ever play in the Major Leagues.
When talking about the greatest players in Major League history, there's no question that Mickey Mantle belongs near the top of the list.
Mantle should also be considered in any discussion wondering "what could have been."
Mantle was supremely talented, possessing incredible speed and power from both sides of the plate never seen before. He was one of the most naturally gifted players to ever step on a field.
However, some say he didn't play a single game after his rookie season in full health.
Mantle's first major injury came as a 19-year-old rookie playing along side Joe DiMaggio in the 1951 World Series.
According to Mantle himself, he was instructed by manager Casey Stengel to cover as much ground as he could because DiMaggio, playing centerfield, had lost a step.
Willie Mays lofted a fly ball into right-center field and as instructed, Mantle sped over to nab it.
DiMaggio however settled under the ball and as Mantle tried to pull up, his cleat caught on drainage cover, sending Mantle to the ground in a heap.
Mantle said himself that he went down so abruptly, that many actually thought he was shot.
Mantle's knee was badly sprained and he watched the remainder of the World Series from the hospital.
There are plenty of stories about how Mantle played a majority of his career with both legs taped from ankle to hip. Considering the physical disrepair in which Mantle played his career, it makes it even more remarkable that he became a baseball immortal.
But it is left to wonder, what could have been if Mantle didn't tear up his knee in the 1951 World Series and have all of the subsequent injuries.
The Yankees of the late 1960s and early 1970s played second-fiddle in New York to the Mets.
The team never recovered from the breakdown and retirement of Mickey Mantle and they endured one of the darkest periods in their franchise's storied history during that time.
Things started to change when George Steinbrenner bought the team and Billy Martin became manager.
In 1976, the Yankees won their first division title since 1964 and took on the Royals in the American League Championship Series.
The series was a fierce battle and was the start of what would be a tremendous rivalry that would last into the 1980s.
The series went to game five and with the Yankees leading 6-3 in the eighth inning, it looked like they were on their way to the World Series.
However, a Royals rally tied the game in the eighth behind a George Brett homer.
But as dramatic as Brett's homer was, he would be one-upped by Chris Chambliss one inning later.
With the game tied at six in the bottom of the ninth, Chambliss belted a first-pitch home run off Royals reliever Mark Littell to send the Yankees to the World Series.
The homer set off a wild celebration in which thousands of fans stormed the field and swarmed Chambliss as he made his way around the bases.
In 2010 when President Barack Obama trotted out to the mound to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day for the Washington Nationals, most fans realized this was a common tradition.
What fans might not know is that is a tradition that dates back 100 years.
On Opening Day of the 1910 season, President William Howard Taft started the tradition by throwing out the first pitch from his front row seat at National Park in Washington.
Since then, every president has thrown out a first pitch at either Opening Day, the All Star Game or the World Series.
Billy Martin getting in a fight was never really news at all. Whether his confrontations turned physical or just consisted of screaming profanities at whoever was in his path, it was a pretty common sight for anyone who spent any time around the man.
But in 1977 when that argument involved Reggie Jackson, the Boston Red Sox and a national television audience, it became the symbol of a caustic bunch.
The 1977 and 1978 Yankees were legendary for their characters and always operated like a pot of water about to boil over.
In a game against the Red Sox, Martin didn't think Jackson charged a ball hard enough in right field. He decided the best way to send a message to the star was to embarrass him by pulling him in the middle of the inning.
Jackson incredulously made his way to the dugout and by the time he hit the top step, he was ready to brawl with Martin.
The two got into a heated argument and had to be separated by coaches.
Jackson was eventually escorted into the clubhouse by Jimmy Wynn and the fight became a lasting symbol of the "Bronx Zoo" days of the late 1970s.
The Baltimore Orioles won the 1970 World Series, but it would be the 1971 Orioles who actually were remembered better by history.
While the 1971 Orioles did return to the World Series, only to lose to the Pirates, they did something that has only been done one other time in the Modern Era of baseball: have four pitchers win at least 20 games in a season.
The 1920 White Sox were the first to accomplish that feat and it took 51 years for it to be matched.
Dave McNally led the way with 21 wins while Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson won 20 games each.
The feat has gone unmatched for 40 years now and with the advent of the five-man rotation and specialized bullpens, it's not likely that any team will accomplish this feat anytime soon.
Long before 2011, Mariano Rivera had established himself as the greatest closer of all time. His save on September 19, 2011 just made it official.
Rivera closed out a 6-4 win over the Twins that day for career save No. 602. The save allowed him to pass Trevor Hoffman to become the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball history.
Although the role of the closer is relatively young when looking at the history of baseball, Rivera's spot among the best who have ever played the game at any position is firmly cemented.
Steroids or not, the numbers Barry Bonds put up between 2000-2004 were beyond comprehension. Everyone remembers the 73 home runs, record-setting on base and slugging percentages and his cartoonish OPS.
However, the most incomprehensible numbers Bonds put up had nothing to do with him swinging the bat. These are numbers he generated just standing there.
It's the number of intentional walks he received. 668 times in his career, Bonds strode up to the plate only to have the other team concede first base to the slugger.
By comparison, the next two players on the career intentional walk list are Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey with 553 combined.
The 2004 season was the height of the Bonds walk-a-thon when he registered 232 free passes. The next highest total of someone not named Barry Bonds is 170 by Babe Ruth.
The second highest total in the National League in 2004 was put up by Todd Helton, who had 127. Just to put that into perspective, Bonds was intentionally walked an incredible 120 times.
Bonds was so feared in 2004 that he broke his own record of 68 intentional walks in a season by the All Star break. He also set a Major League record when he was intentionally passed four times in one nine-inning game.
With all of that intentional and unintentional walking, it's incredible that Bonds even found the time to swing the bat. But swing the bat he did, as he still registered 45 home runs and 101 RBIs while leading the league with a .362 average.
The Honus Wagner T206 baseball card is considered the most expensive card on the market and the "Gretzky/McNall Wagner" is the card that has received the highest appraisal grade of all that remain in existence.
The card itself became rare when Wagner protested his appearance on the card, which was included in packs of cigarettes. It is rumored that Wagner either did not want his image to be used to promote tobacco or he wanted to be compensated financially.
Either way, only 60 to 100 cards were ever released to the public and few have survived to see 2012.
The Gretzky/McNall card was part of an original deal in 1985 in which the card changed hands for $25,000. It eventually ended up with Jim Copeland, who paid $110,000 for it in 1987.
In 1991 the card was part of the Copeland Memorabilia Auction in which Jim Copeland auctioned off his collection of rare baseball memorabilia and cards.
The Wagner card was estimated to fetch $114,000, but three aggressive bidders pushed the price up to $300,000 quickly.
The bidders were Mike Gidwitz, Mark Friedland and an anonymous phone bidder. Gidwitz dropped out first and the anonymous phone bidder remained aggressive enough to scare off Friedland at a price of $451,000.
It was later revealed that the anonymous bidders were Wayne Gretzky and Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall.
They bought the card as an investment and hung on to it until 1995 when they sold the card to Wal-Mart for $500,000 as part of a nation-wide promotion.
While there have been many songs and other pieces of literature written about the sport, Terry Cashman's "Talkin' Baseball" strikes a chord with fans the way few other baseball works have.
The timing of the song's release could not have been more perfect as the ode to the glory years of baseball was released in 1981 at the height of labor strife and the players' strike.
During a time when fans were grumbling about greedy owners and players bickering over millions of dollars, Cashman's tune celebrated the herocis of the Whiz Kids, Bobby Thompson, and of course, Willie, Mickey and The Duke.
The chorus recalled they heyday of baseball in New York where the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants were neighborhood teams and fans across the city debated which club had the best centerfielder.
The song is a perfect jaunt from the 1950s through the 1980s and has even gained Cashman recognition by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1985 Kirk Gibson was coming into his own as one of the top power and speed threats in the game. He missed becoming just the fourth player in American League history to join the 30-30 club by one home run and was a proven leader on a winning team.
He hit the free agent market after the season and expected a big payday. The era of free agency was in its tenth year and players salaries were escalating dramatically. But it all stopped in 1985.
It didn't only happen to Kirk Gibson. Tommy John and Phil Niekro, veteran pitchers who were past their prime but still effective, didn't receive any offers either.
Of the 35 free agents on the market, only four of them changed teams and they were players not wanted back by their old teams.
The same thing happened in 1986 when only four players changed teams again. One of them was Andre Dawson, who went to the Cubs with a blank contract and told them to fill it out.
Something clearly was up and the MLBPA knew it.
After an investigation, it was found that the owners intentionally colluded to show no interest in free agents in an effort to keep player salaries down and quell the burgeoning free-agent market.
As part of the penalty for colluding in 1985 and 1986, the owners had to pay nearly $50 million to the MLBPA. Also, a number of players were put back out on the free agent market.
One of them was Kirk Gibson, who would sign on with the Dodgers and provide them with one of the great moments in baseball history.
The legend of Satchel Paige is one of the great tales in baseball history. The winding path he took through the game led him all over the world over forty years of organized baseball.
Paige is nearly a mythical character whose accomplishments were limited to the Negro Leagues while he waited for a chance at the majors that most assumed would never come.
It wasn't that Major League Baseball wasn't heading towards integration, it was more of a fact that Paige was in his late 30's and had more innings on his arm than anyone could count.
When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, Paige was 41 years old.
In 1948, Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck decided his team needed more pitching help and brought in the legendary Paige for a tryout. He was signed to a three-month contract, becoming the first African-American pitcher in the American League and seventh player to integrate the majors.
Critics blasted the eccentric Veeck for making a mockery of the game and running a publicity stunt, but he knew Paige still had something left.
Paige went on to a 6-1 record, 2.48 ERA and even threw two shutouts.
Incredibly, Paige's tenure in the majors wasn't a one-year experiment. He played the following year in 1949, was out of baseball for the 1950 season and then returned for a stint with the St. Louis Browns from 1951-1953 that included two All Star game appearances.
There is no greater measuring stick to determine an athlete's greatness than how many championships they won.
Using that principle, it's no wonder Yogi Berra is considered among the greatest of all time.
Berra played for the Yankees from 1946-1963 and during that 17-year span, he won an incredible ten World Series titles.
The Yankees also lost four World Series during that time, meaning that there were only three years in Berra's Yankee career in which he didn't play in the Fall Classic.
His ten World Series wins and 14 World Series appearances are still Major League records, not matched by any other player.
Not since the Astrodome opened in 1965 was there a greater spectacle of a stadium opening as when the SkyDome opened in Toronto.
It was 24 years since the Astrodome represented the apex in stadium technology and the SkyDome took that technology to the next level.
The SkyDome was the first stadium built with a retractable roof and was s overwhelmingly modern compared to a majority of other Major League stadiums.
The stadium not only featured the retractable roof, but also had a hotel inside, premium skyboxes and restaurants with views of the game.
It was the precursor to the new-stadium boom of the 1990s and 2000s.
The opening of the SkyDome provided the Blue Jays with a renewed interest in their club and a tremendous boost in attendance. The team parlayed their new-found popularity into the most successful period during the team's existence.
Currently there are seven retractable-roof stadiums in the Major Leagues, including the SkyDome, which is now called the Rogers Center.
Simply put, for nearly 50 years, Jack Buck was baseball in St. Louis.
He began his broadcasting career calling games on the radio in 1954 and lasted well into the 1990s.
He called many of the game's greatest moments in the post-World War II Era, and they are a huge part of his legacy.
However, the image he left baseball fans with was his reading of his poem "For America" prior to the first MLB games to be played after the 9/11 attacks.
Buck was 77 years old at the time and was visibly frail. He had been battling lung cancer and baseball fans knew he probably didn't have much time left.
However, Buck's voice was strong as he read his stirring poem. Along with Mike Piazza's game-winning home run in baseball's return to New York, Buck's recital endures as a lasting image of the return of baseball after 9/11.
It also was one of the last public appearances for Buck who sadly died less than a year later.
Night baseball was originally a novelty instituted by the Cincinnati Reds.
On May 24, 1935 the Red beat the Phillies 2-1 under the lights at Crosley Field in Major League Baseball's first night game.
After positive reviews from fans and players, the Reds had the idea to play seven night games a year, one against each team in the National League.
However, the night games caught on better than expected and teams around the majors took after the Reds' lead.
It wasn't long before night games became the norm and day games took a back seat.
The whispers of steroid use in baseball had been around the game for decades, but it wasn't until hard evidence started becoming public that Major League Baseball decided to act.
After the BALCO scandal, Ken Caminiti's claims in Tom Verducci's Sports Illustrated article, Jose Canseco's finger-pointing in Juiced and the publication of the book Game of Shadows, Bud Selig had to do something.
In December of 2006, he commissioned former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to do a sweeping investigation on steroid use in Major League Baseball.
21 months later, Mitchell released his report, which included the names of 89 players implicated in steroid use and/or distribution.
Because the Major League Baseball Players Association discouraged all players from participating, Mitchell got the majority of his information from former Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski, who spilled his guts as part of a plea deal to avoid drug charges of his own.
Mitchell's report only exposed the tip of the iceberg of steroid use in Major League Baseball, but it helped put in place the drug guidelines that help regulate the game.
Over the past three decades, perfect games have become a little more commonplace in Major League Baseball.
Which means they have been happening a few times a decade rather than practically never.
When Jim Bunning hurled his perfect game on Father's Day in 1964, it was the first NL perfecto in 84 years. The previous NL perfect game came in 1880, when it was basically a different game.
Before Bunning's gem, the last regular season major league perfect game came from Charlie Robertson in 1922. Of course there was Don Larsen's World Series perfect game in between those.
Bunning's stellar performance came against the sad-sack New York Mets who won just 53 games that year. Interestingly enough, his mound opponent for the day was Tracy Stallard, the pitcher who surrendered Roger Maris' 61st home run just three years before.
Bunning was stunningly efficient in his game, throwing just 90 pitches, 79 of which were strikes.
Bart Giamatti had a short 154 tenure as Commissioner of Major League Baseball, but his impact is still felt today.
For nearly the entirety of his tenure, Giamatti presided over the Pete Rose betting scandal, one of the darkest incidents of the controversy-filled 1980's.
Giamatti handled the situation with class and integrity as his love and respect for the sport were evident throughout the process.
The sordid scandal seemed to reach an amicable ending when Rose voluntarily withdrew himself from the game without having to confirm or deny that he bet on baseball.
In a stunning development just eight days after the conclusion of the investigation, Giamatti suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 51.
As the 20th century came to a close, the country basked in nostalgic reflection of the past 100 years.
Major League Baseball was no different and their ceremony at the 1999 All Star Game was the highlight.
Fenway Park hosted the game for the first time since 1961 and everyone knew they had something special planned.
Before the game, Major League Baseball announced the candidates for their All-Century Team. As part of the ceremony, legends like Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Warren Spahn, Willie Mays and Bob Feller came out to rousing ovations as current All Stars stood by awestruck.
There was one person conspicuously missing from the fray though: Ted Williams.
Williams was 80 years old at the time and in failing health, so his appearance at the game was never guaranteed, although it was rumored.
After the All-Century nominees and current All Stars were announced, it was time for the first pitch to be thrown.
At that time, the centerfield gate opened and in came Ted Williams on a golf cart.
Legends, All Stars and fans alike teared up as Williams received an ovation fit for the greatest hitter of all-time.
Williams sat in his cart as current players respectfully jockeyed for position to say hello. Williams, not caring one bit about any kind of time schedule, wanted to talk baseball.
Eventually Williams was helped from the cart by Tony Gwynn and lobbed a first pitch to Carlton Fisk.
Williams returned to his cart and got the proper sendoff that he didn't get when he refused to acknowledge the crowd after hitting a home run in his final at bat.
Coming into the 1983 season, Walter Johnson's 55-year-old record of 3508 career strikeouts still stood.
The record that many thought was unbreakable--including former Commissioner Ford Frick--wasn't just being threatened by one pitcher, but three pitchers simultaneously.
At the start of the 1983 season, Nolan Ryan (3,494), Steve Carlton (3,434) and Gaylord Perry (3,452) were separated by just 60 strikeouts and all trailed Johnson by less then 100 strikeouts.
Ryan, predictably was the first to pass Johnson when he struck out three Phillies in his second start of the season. However, a stint on the disabled list allowed Carlton to gain ground and ultimately pass Ryan on June 7.
Ryan and Carlton traded the lead 14 times during the course of the season and although Perry ultimately passed Johnson too, the 44-year-old was never a real threat to Carlton or Ryan.
Perry retired after the 1983 season, but Carlton and Ryan continued on.
There were five more lead changes and a tie during the 1984 season before Carlton started to fade.
Carlton hung on for a few more ineffective seasons before retiring in 1988 at the age of 43.
Ryan continued his incredible career until retiring in 1993 as a 46-year-old legend.
The Pittsburgh drug trials were an ugly, wide-ranging scandal that implicated some of the biggest names in the sport at the time.
Players like Tim Raines, Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez, Vida Blue, Lee Mazzilli and Dale Berra were either suspended or testified about rampant cocaine use across the sport.
Even the Pirates parrot mascot was found to be involved in the ring.
The trials resulted suspensions for numerous players and a black eye for the sport.
Although they did not have the impact of the steroid scandal of the 1990's, the trials exposed just how broad of a problem cocaine use was in Major League Baseball and ultimately led to a suspected decrease in use as the game moved forward.
The 2001 World Series pitted the most storied franchise in Major League history against a team that had been in existence for just four years.
But with Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez on the Diamondbacks, it was far from a mismatch.
Although the Yankees won the previous three World Series, the Diamondbacks were far from intimidated. Arizona won the first two games, taking a 2-0 lead back to New York.
The Yankees won the next three games, with two off the wins coming in dramatic fashion against Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim. The Diamondbacks bounced back to win game six to force a game seven.
The Yankees took a 2-1 lead to the eight inning when Joe Torre turned the series over to Mariano Rivera. Rivera breezed through the eighth inning by striking out the side.
However, the Diamondbacks would rally in the ninth.
Mark Grace got the rally started with a single up the middle. Tony Womack would eventually double to tie the score. The Diamondbacks would eventually load the bases to bring up Gonzalez, their best hitter.
With the Yankees' infield and outfield drawn in, Gonzalez fisted a blooped over a drawn-in Derek Jeter to deliver the World Series title to Arizona.
Major League Baseball has provided some of the great moments in sports television history and has been an evolving medium since its debut in 1939.
The first Major League game was broadcast on August 6, 1939 when the Brooklyn Dodgers took on the Cincinnati Reds in a doubleheader.
The game was called by Red Barber, who operated with no monitors and just one camera on the action.
Lyman Bostock was one of the first big-money free agents and one of the most promising young hitters of the mid-1970's.
Unfortunately, he is also one of the more tragic "what could have been" stories over the past few decades.
Bostock joined the Twins permanently in April of 1975 and showed great promise, batting .282 in 98 games. The next season, Bostock took a jump forward and batted .323 to finish fourth in the American League batting race behind George Brett, Hal McRae and Rod Carew.
Bostock improved again on his accomplishments in his third season when he finished second to Carew again in the batting race with a .336 average.
In the offseason, Bostock became a free agent and signed with the California Angels.
Bostock got off to a slow start in California and after he hit just .150 in April, he tried to return his full April salary to Angels owner Gene Autry, saying he had done nothing to earn it.
He eventually turned things around and was the Angels' leading hitter as the season was drawing to a close.
During the final week of the season, the Angels were in Chicago to take on the White Sox. After a Sunday game, Bostock took a trip to his hometown of Gary, Indiana to visit family.
After eating dinner with a group of people, Bostock was a passenger in the backseat of a car with his uncle and two female passengers. While the car was stopped at a light, Leonard Smith, a passenger's husband, approached the vehicle with a shotgun and fired it into the backseat, hitting Bostock in the head.
In a subsequent trial, Smith claimed the shot was intended for his wife, who he thought he had caught in the act of cheating on him.
The tragedy robbed the game of one of its top young hitters who seemed destined to continue his career and become one of the top hitters of the 1980s.
You may not know the poem "Baseball's Sad Lexicon" by it's official title, but one look at the poem's refrain and it becomes instantly familiar.
Also known as "Tinker to Evers to Chance," the poem was a short stanza about the double play combination of the Chicago Cubs of the early 1900s.
The poem centers around a Giants fan's lament about hitting into another double play against the Cubs and was written in 1910 by Franklin Pierce Adams.
The poem helped the Cubs' trio gain popularity and perhaps even had a hand in all three of them gaining election into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.
One interesting aspect of the poem was that all three players initially came up playing other positions. Joe Tinker originally was a third baseman, but switched to shortstop, causing Johnny Evers to move over to second base. Frank Chance was originally a catcher before moving to first base.
These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
The 1962 Mets were beyond awful.
Their historic ineptness has only been approached by one team (the 2003 Tigers who went 43-119) in the 50 years since that fateful season.
The Mets finished the season with a record of 40-120 and were an incredible 60.5 games out of first place when the season ended.
1962 was the first year for the franchise and marked a return to baseball in New York, five years after the Giants and Dodgers left.
In an effort to drum up nostalgia, the Mets constructed their roster with familiar faces from New York baseball past. They featured old Dodgers Gil Hodges, Roger Craig and Don Zimmer along with 72-year-old former Yankees manager Casey Stengel, who began his managerial career while Babe Ruth was still active.
The collection of has-beens and never-weres predictably didn't amount to much when it was all put together.
In addition to their anemic win-loss record, the Mets featured four 17-game losers, including their "ace" Roger Craig who went 10-24.
They batted .240 as a team and were abysmal on defense.
In this era of profit-sharing and free agency, it's hard to imagine a current team doing worse than the 1962 Mets anytime soon.
By comparison, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been the model of awfulness during the past two decades and even in their worst season, they still had 17 more wins than the 1962 Mets.
In 2012, the Mets played the 8,000th game in their franchise's history and still haven't thrown a no hitter. It took the Oakland A's 25 games to record their first, and it was a perfect game to boot.
Catfish Hunter was 22 years old in 1968 but had already spent two seasons pitching in the majors.
The 1968 season would go down as "The Year of the Pitcher" but people didn't realize that yet on May 8th.
Hunter and the A's were set to take on the Minnesota Twins, who had a stout lineup including Cesar Tovar, Tony Oliva and Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew.
On that day, it didn't matter who they had in their lineup, nobody was hitting Hunter.
Hunter twirled the ninth perfect game in Major League history on that day and the first in the American League since 1922.
If that wasn't enough, Hunter went 3-4 at the plate and drove in three runs in the A's 4-0 win.
Brooks Robinson summed up his play in the 1970 World Series in one short sentence.
"I played almost 23 years professionally and I never had five games in a row like I had in that World Series," the Hall of Fame third basemen said years after leading the Orioles to a World Series championship over the Big Red Machine.
Robinson batted .429 with two home runs in the series, but it wasn't his bat everyone was talking about.
Robinson made one incredible play after another, each one topping the next as it seemed he covered the entire left side of the infield on his own.
Robinson dove for balls to his left, threw runners out from foul territory after fielding grounders down the line and just generally caught everything imaginable.
His performance delivered the only World Series title in Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver's career and remains the gold-standard for defensive excellence in the postseason.
Cy Young accomplished so much over his 22-year career that some of his accomplishments sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
One such feat that isn't talked about as much as you'd think is that Cy Young threw the first perfect game of the Modern Era.
The perfecto came on May 5, 1904 and was the first recorded perfect game since 1880.
Young was 37 years old at the time and was in his fourth season with the Boston Red Sox.
On that afternoon, the Sox took on the Philadelphia A's and Hall of Fame starter Rube Waddell.
Young burned through the A's with ease, even striking out eight batters along the way. While Young was known for his impeccable control, he only averaged 3.4 strikeouts per nine innings over his career.
Young's perfect game came as part of a streak in which he threw 25.1 consecutive hitless innings over three games, a Major League record.
The 1991 World Series is considered to be one of the best ever played. Five games were decided by one run, four games were won in the final at-bat and three games went to extra innings.
Kirby Puckett's performance in game six ranks as one of the great single-game performances in World Series history.
With the Twins down three games to two, Puckett put the team on his back and just about single-handedly forced a game seven.
Puckett gave the Twins a first-inning lead when he tripled to drive home Chuck Knoblauch.
The Twins held a 2-0 lead in the third when Scott Erickson faced Ron Gant with a runner on first. Gant blasted what looked like a sure-fire extra base hit to left-center, but Puckett made an incredible, leaping catch to save what would have been a run-scoring extra base hit.
The saved run would be crucial as the game went to the bottom of the 11th inning tied at three. Puckett was up with nobody on base and on a 2-1 count, cracked a solo home run into the left-center field seats for the win.
Puckett's homer sent the series to game seven, which would go down as one of the great World Series pitching duels of all-time.
As part of the 1990 collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the sides agreed to add two teams to the National League to create a balance between the leagues.
In June of 1991, Major League Baseball announced that it had accepted bids from Miami and Colorado and awarded the cities their own MLB franchises.
The teams had two years to build their roster in advance of their 1993 debut seasons and they did so mostly through free agency and the MLB expansion draft.
While the draft didn't add a large number of superstars to the ball clubs, notable players like Trevor Hoffman, Bryan Harvey and Carl Everett were selected by the Marlins while the Rockies landed Vinny Castilla, Joe Girardi and Eric Young.
When the teams began play in 1993, it marked the first new franchises since the Mariners and Blue Jays were added to the American League in 1977.
The 16-year gap between '93 and '77 marks the longest the game had gone without expansion since the initial expansion of 1962.
As the 1920s came to an end and players like Max Carey, Eddie Collins and George Sisler retired, it seemed like the art of the stolen base retired with them.
Aside from a few instances in the American League during that time span, the league leaders in stolen bases usually had less than 40 steals.
In fact, for a ten-year stretch between 1934 and 1944, the National League leader in steals had less than 25 stolen bases each year.
The game was evolving into more of a power game and for a better part of the next three decades, the stolen base became an afterthought.
That is, until Maury Wills and Luis Aparicio came around.
Aparicio led the AL in steals for nine straight seasons while Wills topped the NL six straight years. They routinely stole around 50 bases and Wills had years of 104 and 94 stolen bases.
Numbers like that hadn't been seen since the Deadball Era.
Wills and Aparicio set the stage for stars like Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines and proved that a tactic from past eras can still be effective during modern times.
Baseball announcers sometimes provide just as many memories in the game as the players.
Announcers like Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, Vin Scully and Jack Buck are voices that link generations and have called some of the most iconic moments in the history of the game.
It's surprising the Hall of Fame took until 1978 to recognize them.
The Ford C. Frick Award is named for the former Commissioner of Baseball and is presented annually to an announcer for significant contributions to the game.
Although the announcers aren't considered "enshrined" in Cooperstown, they do get their name on a plaque in the Hall of Fame and participate in ceremonies by giving a Hall of Fame speech on inauguration day.
Few players in baseball history broke into the league the way Mark Fidrych did in 1976.
Not only did the then-21-year-old dominate the competition right from the start, but he was also the most eccentric on-field character anyone had seen in quite some time.
Fidrych threw a two-hit shutout in his first Major League start and after he was a hard-luck loser in a 2-0 complete game loss against the Red Sox, Fidrych twirled back-to-back complete game, 11-inning wins.
Word was not only racing around the nation about the righty's talents, but also his behavior on the mound.
Fidrych manicured the mound on his hands and knees in the middle of the game, talked to the baseball, shook hands with umpires during the game and generally played the game with the enthusiasm of a puppy let out of the house for the first time to play in the yard.
Fidrych won his next four starts to move to 7-1 as his legend grew exponentially. He already had wins over Bert Blyleven and Nolan Ryan and attendance in his starts was increasing each time out.
By the time July 28 rolled around, the Tigers were slated to take on the Yankees in a Monday Night Baseball game on ABC.
In an era before ESPN and MLB Network, fans from around the country only had the chance to see superstars from around the league on the nightly news, in the All Star Game and postseason and on Monday Night Baseball.
This was America's first real look at Fidrych.
Fidrych continued to dominate and put on quite a show in his coming-out party. He threw another complete game and ripped through the Yankees lineup in a tidy game that was done in under two hours.
After the final out, Fidrych hugged and shook the hand of anyone he could find, including the umpires. He retreated to the Tigers clubhouse but the fans hadn't had enough.
They rocked Tigers Stadium and refused to leave until Fidrych returned for a curtain call.
It was a spectacle beyond the wild expectations fans had set before the game.
Fidrych went on to a 19-9 record and led the AL with a 2.34 ERA. He won the Rookie of the Year in near-unanimous fashion, was second in the Cy Young voting and 11th in the MVP voting.
Unfortunately, as fast as Fidrych burst onto the scene, he fizzled out.
He threw 24 complete games and 250 innings as a 21-year-old and not surprisingly, his arm gave out not to long after.
Although he never duplicated the success of his rookie year, Fidrych's performance on July 28, 1976 against the Yankees remains one of the great theatrical performances in baseball history.
In 1998 Major League Baseball added two more teams to bring the number of ballclubs to 30.
With the addition of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks, along with the shift of the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League, the league took the shape in which it remains through the 2012 season.
Both teams have had some great success during their young, 14-year lives.
The Rays have become a stalwart in the rugged AL East Division and have made three playoff appearances between 2008 and 2011and the Diamondbacks have won five NL West titles.
The greatest accomplishment of either team came in 2001 when the Diamondbacks shocked the defending champion New York Yankees to win the World Series in seven games.
The Expos and Twins have had a rich history considering that they didn't come into existence until the 1960's.
Hall of Famers like Gary Carter, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew and Andre Dawson were faces of those franchises and saw their clubs to some great success, especially in the 1980s.
However, as the 1990s ended, interest and attendance dwindled for both franchises and it was becoming evident that neither franchise could remain competitive the way the sport was structured in its current state.
While other teams were getting rich and increasing payroll, the small-market Expos and Twins were losing money and trading off their top stars regularly .
For example, the 1994 Expos were littered with young stars like Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd and John Wetteland, but could do nothing to keep them wrapped up long-term.
On November 6, 2001, Major League Baseball owners voted 28-2 to contract two teams out of baseball. The only two teams to vote against the movement were the Expos and Twins, who knew they would be the teams.
It was an overwhelming first step towards eliminating the two franchises.
The movement went to the courts and with the rulings actually going in favor of the Twins and Expos, thus keeping the franchises active in the majors.
After being saved from contraction, the Twins franchise was rejuvenated and won four AL Central Division titles between 2002 and 2006.
The Expos continued to struggle though in Montreal and after the 2004 season, the franchise relocated to become the Washington Nationals.
In the 71 years since Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games, only once has the baseball world seen even a minimal threat to the record.
And even then, Pete Rose still fell two weeks short.
Of all the players who have played over the past seven decades, it seems Rose would be the ideal candidate to break the streak.
Rose was a great contact hitter, hustled out every ball he put in play, had the ability to beat out infield hits and played on a fast infield surface in Cincinnati.
Rose's streak in 1978 stalled at 44 games, but was good enough for the third-longest streak in Major League history.
The only other National Leaguers who hit in at least 40 straight games both did so in the 1800s.
Rose's streak topped the modern National League record of 37 set by Tommy Holmes in 1945.
When it came to star-power and top players coming through in a big way, it doesn't get much bigger than the 1971 MLB All-Star Game.
The rosters of both squads were stacked with Hall of Famers as a total of 21 players from the game would eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Ten of the 16 position players who started the game went on to the Hall of Fame.
What made the game even more dramatic was the performance of those Hall of Famers. The American League won the game by a score of 6-4 with all ten runs scoring on home runs from Cooperstown-bound players.
The home runs were hit by Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew.
The homers by Clemente and Aaron were particularly meaningful as it was Aaron's first All Star Game home run and the final appearance Clemente would make in an All Star Game.
It might be hard to imagine now, but it took teams over three decades before they decided to put numbers on the backs of jerseys.
At one point in the early 1900s, the Cleveland Indians tried out small numbered patches on their uniform sleeves to help players keep track of their own jerseys, but that did nothing for fans. The idea was scrapped and uniforms remained numberless until 1929.
In January of 1929 the Yankees announced that they would put large, bold numbers on the backs of their uniforms based on the players' typical position in the batting order.
The Indians soon followed suit and when the season started, both clubs were the first to wear jerseys with numbers on their backs.
The idea was wildly popular and by 1931, all American League teams had numbers on their backs. The National League was a little behind the times and took until the 1933 season until players were numbered.
It's hard to believe that it took close to eight decades of foul tips and broken fingers before a catcher decided it would be safer to catch pitches with one hand.
In 1966, Cubs catcher Randy Hundley needed a way to help protect an injured thumb on his throwing hand. The way catcher's gloves were designed at the time, there was no break or hinge and the pocket had no depth.
Hundley spearheaded a new design with a deeper pocket and hinged break similar to a first basemen's glove. The glove allowed Hundley to catch with one hand while putting his throwing hand behind his back.
The glove was considered a novelty and didn't catch on with anybody else, until Johnny Bench came along.
Bench adopted the hinged glove in 1968 and became the game's most dominant defensive catcher. He showed an athleticism not usually seen at the position and his quick hands and feet made him the preeminent catcher of his time.
As with anyone who shows great success the way Bench did, players started copying his methods and the hinged catcher's glove caught on with the rest of the league and stayed for good.
A number of ballparks that had been built around the turn of the century met their fate in the 1960s and 70s.
The Polo Grounds, Crosley Field, Sportsman's Park and Forbes Field were all demolished as teams started to move into more spacious modern ballparks.
However, the destruction of Ebbets Field seemed to be the symbol that the game's Golden Age was coming to an end.
Ebbets Field opened in 1913 and was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, the stadium took up one city block and was the site of an incredible amount of historic events.
However, the stadium became dilapidated in its later years and when the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1958, there was no use for the old, broken down stadium anymore.
New York City was the capital of the baseball world for the better part of the 1950s and it was hard for people to believe that just five years after the 1955 World Series was played in Ebbets Field, the stadium was reduced to a pile of rubble to make way for an apartment complex.
From start to finish, the 1986 postseason was one of the most dramatic postseasons in baseball history.
The Mets and Astros had an epic battle in the NLCS with four games decided by two runs, including two extra-inning affairs that totaled 28 innings over the final two games.
The Mets then took on the Red Sox in a World Series for the ages, complete with one of the most iconic games in World Series history, the "Buckner Game."
That series would not have been possible however without the ALCS heroics of Dave Henderson.
The Angels had a 5-2 lead going to the bottom of the ninth inning and were up three games to one in the series. However, Don Baylor belted a two-run homer to cut the lead to 5-4.
Angels reliever Donnie Moore plunked Rich Gedman after the Baylor home run to bring up Henderson as the go-ahead run.
Moore got the count to 2-2 and just as the Red Sox were down to their final strike, Henderson blasted a pitch deep to over the left field fence to rescue the Red Sox World Series dream.
As dramatic as the homer was, the Angels were still up three games to two and had to win just once as the series went back to Boston.
However, the home run had a devastating effect on the Angels, who were non-competitive as the Red Sox swept the next two games to set up one of the great World Series of the modern era.
The Congressional Steroid Hearing of 2005 was one of the great farces of the Steroid Era.
The most memorable testimony included Mark McGwire refusing to talk about the past, Rafael Palmeiro wagging his finger at Congress and saying he has never taken steroids, Sammy Sosa forgetting how to speak English, but denying steroid use anyway.
Then of course Jose Canseco chimed in and said that steroids in Major League clubhouses were as prevalent as cups of coffee.
Not many people believed McGwire or Sosa to begin with and when Palmeiro was suspended for steroid use five months later, it was pretty clear that any denials would have to be taken with a grain of salt.
The hearings were just one step in uncovering the depth of steroid use in Major League Baseball.
Their lasting legacy though was that baseball players were willing to lie directly to anyone's face about steroid use, even when under oath.
During the peak of the Golden Age of baseball in New York, not many players were more popular than Gil Hodges. As the slugging first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Hodges was a key player in the franchise's first World Series title in 1955.
While his statistics were dwarfed by the sluggers who emerged in the game from the 1960's forward, Hodges at one time was considered one of the great power hitters to ever play the game.
After moving to Los Angeles with the Dodgers for a few seasons, Hodges returned to New York as a player on the original Mets team of 1962.
He hit the first home run in franchise history and at the end of the 1962 season, he ranked tenth on the all-time home runs list. He had the second-most home runs of any right-handed hitter, behind only Jimmie Foxx.
After his playing days were done, Hodges turned to managing and was at the helm when the Miracle Mets won the 1969 World Series.
Hodges is often credited with help developing young pitchers like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack and got the most out of his team by instituting a platoon system based on matchup strengths.
After the World Series, the Mets had two third-place finishes but harbored high hopes for the 1972 season. Hodges would never get to follow through though as the course of baseball history in New York changed on April 2, 1972.
On a day off during spring training, Hodges was golfing with his assistant coaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was stricken with a heart attack and died two days short of his 47th birthday.
If Hodges could have stuck around, there's no telling what type of managerial success he could have had. He was still a very young manager when he died and could have easily remained a staple of the baseball world for another two decades.
Simply put, Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin' " was one of the biggest walk-off home runs ever hit in the regular season.
As the 1938 season wore down, the Cubs and Pirates were locked in a fierce battle for the National League championship.
The Pirates came to Wrigley Field for a three-game set starting on September 27. The Cubs won the first game 2-1 and were locked in a 5-5 battle in game two.
However, game two ran into one major problem---the sun was setting.
Lights at Wrigley Field were still 50 years away, so the umpires had to make a decision. They declared that the game would be over one way or another in the bottom of the ninth. If it ended in a tie, the whole game would have to be replayed from the start the next day.
Hartnett, the player-manager for the Cubs and one of the game's greatest catchers, was due to bat third in the inning.
The first two Cubs went down quickly, leaving Hartnett as the last hope.
Pirates pitcher Mace Brown, one of the game's first full-time relievers, got two quick strikes on Hartnett. On the next pitch though, Hartnett launched a home run into the darkness in left field for an improbable 6-5 win.
The win allowed the Cubs to leapfrog the Pirates into first place and when they won 10-1 the next day to complete the sweep, the Cubs solidified their standing atop the National League.
The Cubs however would go on to lose to the Yankees in what would be Lou Gehrig's final World Series.
Of all the great home run heroes who delivered clutch round-trippers in postseason, perhaps none was more unlikely than Ozzie Smith.
It wasn't that Smith his just 13 career home runs to that date, but not a single one of them came as a lefty batter.
Smith's big moment came in the 1985 National League Championship Series against Tom Neidenfuer of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With the series tied at two and the pivotal game five tied at two in the bottom of the ninth, Smith came up to bat with the bases empty.
He launched a pitch down the right-field line for his first career left-handed home run and a 3-2 win.
The Cardinals went on to win game six with a three-run rally in the ninth to advance to the 1985 World Series.
I can imagine that when Mike Veeck pitched the idea of Disco Demolition Night to his father, White Sox owner Bill Veeck, the conversation went something like this:
Mike: Hey dad, let's get a bunch of non-baseball fans, tell them to bring records to the ballpark, sell them beer and look the other way as they smoke weed all night and then make a huge explosion on the field in between games of a doubleheader. Oh, and we'll get some yahoo radio DJ to host the whole thing.
Dad: I can't see that ending badly at all. Go for it!
Just one look at the photo on this slide sums up how the experiment went. Approximately 40,000 angry, drunk and stoned fans were turned away when the games sold out and that was just the start of things.
During game one, fans were flinging records around the stadium like frisbees and not many people were paying too much attention to the game.
Chicago DJ Steve Dahl ushered a crate of records out to centerfield between games of the doubleheader and subsequently blew it up. The explosives blew a hole in the outfield and started a fire.
Dahl high-tailed it out of there on a cart just as fast as the unruly fans stormed the field. Basically, a riot ensued.
As a result, the White Sox forfeited the second game of the doubleheader to the Tigers and Mike Veeck "disappeared for a while."
The incident might be laughed at these days, but at the time it was quite a dangerous scene. Either way, it's one of the biggest black marks on baseball promotions and will live on as one of the most infamous moments in baseball history.
Umpires blow calls all the time. Sometimes they go unnoticed, sometimes they don't effect anything and sometimes they are quickly rectified by another event in the game.
Sometimes they can be the exact opposite.
One such call happened to Jim Joyce, who by all accounts is one of the best umpires in the game.
Armando Galaraga, a below-average pitcher for the Detroit Tigers was having the game of his life and had set down 26 consecutive Cleveland Indians and was set to face Jason Donald for the final out.
The game would have been the third perfect game of the season as Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden each had thrown their own less than a month prior.
Donald hit a slow roller on the right side, causing Miguel Cabrera to stray far to his right to field the ball. He turned and flipped the ball to Galarraga who was covering first. Donald was clearly out by a step, and everyone seemed to think so except for Joyce.
Initially, Galaraga's teammates and manager were furious and almost immediately, people were asking Bud Selig to step in and reverse the call.
The fury only began to die down when both Galaraga and Joyce handled the situation with extreme class. Galaraga refused to blame Joyce and Joyce fully admitted his mistake.
Galaraga said afterwards, "(Joyce) probably feels more bad than me. Nobody's perfect. Everybody's human. I understand. I give the guy a lot of credit for saying, 'I need to talk to you.' You don't see an umpire tell you that after a game. I gave him a hug."
Joyce countered with remorse saying that "I did not get the call correct, I took a perfect game away from that kid over there that worked his ass off all night."
Joyce was slated to work the next game behind home plate and in a show of sportsmanship, Galaraga presented the Tigers' lineup card for that game. A tearful Joyce accepted the card and a handshake from Galaraga and went back to being one of the best umpires in the game.
Ever since Bud Selig decreed that the All Star game would determine home-field advantage in the World Series, players and managers have taken the game a little more seriously.
However, don't expect the game to ever reach the levels of competition that is saw decades ago.
Before free agency and the era of aggressive trades, player movement from team to team was minimal. There was a tremendous amount of pride between the leagues and the game was seen as one of the more important events of the year.
The enduring image of All Star game intensity from the post-World War II Era though has to be Pete Rose barreling through Ray Fosse.
The play is etched in All Star game lore. Jim Hickman singled to center and Amos Otis came up throwing. The legendary Leo Durocher waved home Rose and about half way down the line, it looked like Rose was going to break into one of his patented head-first slides.
Instead, he lowered his shoulders and blasted through Fosse as if he was made out of paper.
Fosse and Rose flipped to the ground and Rose immediately popped up to make sure Fosse was ok.
Fosse, who at 23 years of age was a young rising star for the Indians, severely injured his shoulder and despite winning two World Series titles with the A's, was never really the same.
Was the Rose collision the reason Fosse was never the same? Fosse seems to think so.
Fosse and Rose have spoken a grand total of three times in the 40 years since the incident. Fosse claims to harbor more ill feelings about Rose's reactions after the play than the play itself, while Rose has his own take on the matter.
If you aren't familiar with Lee Elia's tirade against the Chicago Cubs fans, you need to watch this video immediately.
Also, make sure you aren't at work or around small children.
The diatribe seems to contain more curses than non-curses and is the sort of stream of consciousness usually reserved for highly trained actors portraying an angry manager in the movies.
About the only quotable line from the rant that's printable on a family website like Bleacher Report is, "85 percent of the world is working, the other 15 percent come out here!"
Elia harbored a grudge for years against Les Grobstein, the Cubs reporter who recorded and released the rant, but has since cooled down.
In fact, Elia has turned his famous rant into a charitable cause, selling autographed baseballs with the words "print it" written under his signature.
If you're familiar with the rant, you know what it means.
In the early days of baseball, during the Deadball Era, players batted over .400 with regularity.
Players were happy to slash and bunt their way to singles without so much as a thought of cracking home runs over the fence.
However, as baseball moved from the Deadball Era, power numbers increased while averages dropped.
While immortals like Babe Ruth and Mel Ott maintained a high average in addition to their power, nobody combined the two the way Rogers Hornsby did in 1922.
During that season, Hornsby became the first and only player to hit .400 and hit 40 homers in the same season.
Hornsby's season was the perfect segue from the Deadball Era to the Live-ball Era.
Lou Gehrig had so many accomplishments in his baseball career that his four-homer game sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
While his consecutive-games streak and gaudy RBI totals often are the main talking points of Gehrig, his four-homer accomplishment in 1932 was eye-popping.
Because of the Deadball Era, no player in the modern era had ever hit four homers in a game, although two players had done it in the 1800s.
Gehrig actually almost hit a fifth home run, but his long drive was caught at the fence by Hall of Famer Al Simmons.
During the first part of the 1900s, pitching duels didn't get much bigger than Christy Mathewson vs. Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown.
The two Hall of Famers matched up 25 times over the course of their careers with Brown winning 13 of the matchups.
The two tangled in some great pitching duels, but none was better than their showdown on June 13, 1905. Both pitchers took no-hitters into the ninth inning before the Giants finally broke through for two hits and a run against Brown.
Mathewson finished the deal and set the Cubs down in order to complete the second no-hitter of his career.
Seven years to the day, Mathewson won his 300th career game.
Of all the great leadoff hitters who played in the modern era of baseball, it was Rennie Stennett who set the record for most hits in a nine-inning game.
Not Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Ichiro, Pete Rose or George Sisler.
Stennett was a decent hitter for the Pirates in the 1970s, finishing his career with a .274 average, but he really made his mark in a game against the Cubs on September 16, 1975.
Stennett had two hits in a nine-run first inning and was 3-3 by the third inning. He tripled to right field in the top of the eighth for his seventh hit in seven at bats and was lifted for pinch runner Willie Randolph.
On the day, Stennett had two doubles, a triple and four singles to help the Pirates to a 22-0 win.
Say what you will about the steroid-enhanced sluggers of the late 1990s and 2000s, but it was one spectacular show to watch.
One of the more remarkable feats of the juiced-up era was accomplished by Sammy Sosa, who set a Major League record by blasting 20 home runs in a single month.
Coming into June of 1998, Sosa had 13 home runs in 52 games, but most people were talking about his .343 batting average. By the end of the month, Sosa stood firmly next to Mark McGwire, ready to fill the summer months with a hotly-contested pursuit of the Major League home run record.
Sosa started the month with a two-homer game against the Marlins and after being held homerless the next day, he belted home runs in five straight games and was on his way towards history.
After a three-homer game on June 15, Sosa had 11 home runs with half the month still left to play. He hit five homers over three games against the Phillies and reached 19 homers for the month against the Tigers' Brian Moehler.
Sosa went homerless for three games, leaving him stuck on 19 home runs on June 30 as they faced the Diamondbacks on the final game of the season. After starting the day 0-3, Sosa connected for home run No. 20 on his final at bat of the month off reliever Alan Embree.
To this day he still remains the only player to ever hit 20 home runs in a single month.
Dennis Eckerlsey might not have been the first one-inning closer, but his sheer dominance in the role led to a major shift in the philosophy in how to use a bullpen.
Tony LaRussa put Eckersley in the role after trading for him prior to the 1987 season. He did well in 1987, but it was the years between 1988 and 1992 that landed Eckersley in the Hall of Fame.
Eckersley had some incredible stats over that time, but it was his impeccable control that seprated him from other closers. In 1989 he walked just three batters all season and walked 16 batters over a three-year span.
Eckersley's presence shortened the game for the A's and helped them to three-straight World Series appearances in the late 1980s.
Before Eckersley, closers were asked to come into a game whenever the game seemed to be at a turning point.
All Star closers like Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Lee Smith or Bruce Sutter were often asked to pitch multiple innings to close games.
LaRussa felt that by limiting Eckersley to only one inning, he could have an impact on more games over the course of a season.
During Stan Musial's first full season in the majors in 1942, he provided to be a nice surprise as a 21-year-old rookie.
However after what he did during his second year, it should have been evident to anyone that he was going to be an all-time great.
Musial led the league with a .357 batting average, .425 on base percentage, .562 slugging percentage, 220 hits, 48 doubles and 20 triples.
The 1943 Cardinals had the best record in baseball over the Yankees by seven games, but ultimately fell to the Yanks in the World Series.
For his efforts, the 22-year-old Musial won the National League MVP in a landslide vote.
Musial would go on to win three MVP awards and also finished second in the voting four times over his career.
If you mention the phrase "home run derby" to someone under the age of 50, they will probably associate it with the MLB All Star Game.
However, if you mention it to someone who was a baseball fan as a kid in 1960, they will think of the old television show that ran for 26 episodes in 1960.
The show pitted the game's top players in a one-on-one weekly battle to see who could hit the most home runs. The game was played in a nine-inning style, with each player allowed three outs in his half inning.
The winner advanced to the next week while the loser went home with a $1000 consolation prize.
Some of the biggest names in baseball history participated in the show, including Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews.
As in real life, Aaron was the home run king, having won six consecutive shows before being ousted by Wally Post.
The show's run met an untimely end when host Mark Scott died of a heart attack just 11 days after the series finale aired. The shows producers decided to cancel the show rather than replace Scott as host.
Everybody knows that Jackie Robinson was the first Negro League player to play in the majors, but not many know who was the last.
It was the ageless Minnie Minoso.
Minoso made his debut on April 19, 1949 for the Cleveland Indians and his stellar career ran through 1964.
However, the ever-inventive Bill Veeck, the same Veeck who kept bringing back Satchel Paige at an advanced age, had a plan to bring Minoso back too.
Veeck singed Minoso to play three games for the White Sox in 1976 at age 50. He registered one single in eight at bats, to become the fourth-oldest player to ever record a hit.
In 1980 Minoso was brought back again, this time at the age of 54. In doing so, he became the only player to appear in a Major League game in five different decades and the final Negro League player to appear in the major leagues.
Minoso actually made appearances in minor league independent for the St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003 to become the first player to play professionally in seven decades.
This mayhem of the brawl between the Braves and Padres on August 12, 1984 cannot be described in words. It's best just to watch the video summary of the brawl from mlb.com.
The melee started when eccentric Braves starter Pascual Perez drilled Padres leadoff man Alan Wiggins with a pitch to start the game. Wiggins took exception and exchanged words with Perez.
When Perez came to the plate for his first at bat, he knew he was a sitting duck. Padres pitcher Ed Whitson threw inside and Perez, who was dodging the pitch before it even left Whitson's hand, jumped out of the way.
Perez began waving his bat threateningly, causing both benches to empty for the first time.
All told, the benches cleared in the second, fifth, eighth and ninth innings. Thirteen players and coaches were ejected and five fans were ejected for running onto the field to take part in the brawl.
At one point, the Padres' Champ Summers sprinted towards Perez who was in the Braves dugout. Bob Horner, who was on the disabled list at the time, cut Summers off before he could get to Perez. At that point, Braves fans jumped from the stands and wrestled Summers to the ground.
After the game, four players were suspended and both managers (Hall of Famer Dick Williams and future Hall of Famer Joe Torre) were also suspended.
The game also spurred this insane quote from Torre, who if he said this in today's society, would have been fired on the spot:
Dick Williams is an idiot. It was obvious he was the cause of the whole thing. Precipitating a thing like that was inexcusable. It was stupid of them, period, to take four shots at Perez. It was gutless. It stinks. It was Hitler-like action. I think he (Williams) should be suspended for the rest of the year.
If you have never seen this brawl or haven't seen it in years, do yourself a favor and watch it.
As the 20th century came to a close, many outfits published "All-Century" lists.
Major League Baseball was in on the mix as they decided they would celebrate the past 100 years of baseball by honoring the best players to play the game during the 1900s with the election of their All Century Team.
As they do with All Star balloting, MLB turned to the fans to vote for the best of the best.
A panel of experts first generated a list of the 100 best players to play the game. Fans were then asked to cast their ballot, and with over two million votes cast, a consensus was reached. The top two vote-getters at each position were a part of the team, along with nine outfielders and six pitchers.
A select panel of baseball experts then added five overlooked players to the team to round out the roster. It's a good thing they did because the fan vote left off immortals like Warren Spahn, Christy Mathewson, Stan Musial, Honus Wagner and Lefty Grove.
Fans generally did a good job with the vote as over a decade later the team seems to stand up pretty well. About the only controversy now is the inclusion of Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire as fans weren't fully aware of their steroid use at the time.
If the Braves got to pick one player to be on second base representing the run that would send them to the World Series, Sid Bream would be the last person they'd choose.
But there he was, standing there on second with the Braves down 2-1 in the ninth inning of game seven of the 1992 National League Championship Series.
Dave Justice was the tying run on third and the fate of the season fell on the shoulders of Braves third-string catcher Francisco Cabrera.
Cabrera lined a single to left field, bringing home Justice. With the game already tied, Bream was waved home with the potential winning run.
Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds came up throwing, but his throw sailed up the first-base line a bit.
Catcher Mike LaValliere came out for it and then lunged back for Bream, who appeared to be running in slow motion, through mud with bricks on his feet.
Bream slid directly into home, a split-second ahead of LaValliere's tag to send the Braves to their second-straight World Series.
During his 12-year career in Major League Baseball, Darryl Kile established himself as a solid veteran pitcher, but more importantly a great teammate and tremendous family man.
He pitched six seasons for the Houston Astros, where he even threw a no-hitter against the Mets, made a brief stop off in Colorado and then made it over to the St. Louis Cardinals as he reached his 30's.
During his first two years in St. Louis, he helped the Cardinals to the post season as a reliable pitcher, capable of having dominating stuff on any night. He went 20-9 in 2000 and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting.
The 2002 season was still young on June 22, 2002 and Kile was pitching well at the time. During his start on June 18, Kile pitched eight innings and left the game to a standing ovation as the Cardinals moved into first place. That same day, Cardinals legendary announcer Jack Buck died.
Unfortunately, less than a week later the Cardinals' family suffered another tragic event.
Kile didn't show up to the ballpark on June 22 and after calls were made back to the team hotel, workers found Kile unresponsive in his bed. He suffered a heart attack during the night and passed away in his sleep.
The Cardinals game that day against the Cubs was canceled. Cubs catcher Joe Girardi addressed the Cubs crowd about the cancellation and asked that fans say a prayer for the Cardinals family.
It had been 23 years since the Thurman Munson tragedy, the last time an active Major Leaguer died during the season.
The Cardinals went on to win the NL Central that year, carrying Kile's jersey on a hanger for the remainder of the season and even during the division-clinching celebration.
Jim Abbott burst into the sports universe in 1987 when word started circulating about a dominant pitcher for the University of Michigan who had just one hand.
After the season he won the James E. Sullvan Award (the same award previously won by Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz and Bill Walton) as the nation's top amateur athlete and the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's best college baseball player.
Abbott pitched in the 1988 Olympics and was a first-round draft pick of the California Angels later that year.
Basically, he accomplished more with one hand than just about any able-bodied athlete in the country his age.
He made it to the majors where he enjoyed success, even if he wasn't dominant.
His crowning achievement came on September 4, 1993 when he pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.
While no-hitters are generally inspirational athletic accomplishments, Abbott's was even more so.
Abbott was a player of impeccable desire and character and a player everyone had to root for, whether you were on his team or not.
Just the fact that he made it to the majors was a great-feel good story, but his no-hitter in 1993 may just have been the biggest highlight of the era in the 1980s and early '90s when the Yankees were in the midst of an 18-year World Series title drought.
The Home Run Derby has grown quite a bit from its early days in the 1980s.
It started in 1985 as a one-round matchup between the American League and National League and they simply totaled up the amount of homers hit by each player to determine a winner.
It has since evolved in format and popularity.
While it is sometimes lamented as a simple exhibition that many sluggers avoid because of the perceived negative effects it can have on a player's highly-trained swing, it remains a highly popular event among fans.
In 1985, five players from each league teamed up and the American League out-homered the National League 17-16. The 1985 derby featured five Hall of Famers, four of whom were on the AL squad. The Hall of Famers were Jim Rice, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Carlton Fisk and Ryan Sandberg.
Despite the fact that half of the field was made up of players enshrined in Cooperstown, it was Dave Parker who led the field with six home runs.
The Home Run Derby has continued every year since then with the exception of 1988 when it was rained out.
Current record-holders are Bobby Abreu, whose 41 homers were the most in a single derby, Josh Hamilton who hit 28 dramatic home runs in a single round and David Ortiz who has 77 career home runs in the derby.
To say Billy Martin did things unconventionally might be the understatement of the century.
Near the top of the list of his unorthodox antics is signing a prison inmate who was doing well in a league organized for prisoners.
The craziest thing about it is the move actually worked.
In 1973 Martin was tipped off about a tremendous athlete in Michigan State Prison by a friend of his who was also incarcerated. Martin made a trip to the jail and witnessed the pure athleticism of Ron LeFlore.
LeFlore grew up in one of the worst parts of Detroit and was in trouble with the law before even becoming a teenager. While he was in jail for armed robbery, he was able to get himself clean off drugs and he began to flourish physically.
Martin was able to secure a one-day leave for LeFlore in which he could try out for the Tigers and when they signed him to a minor league contract, LeFlore was able to leave prison on parole.
After bouncing around in the minor leagues for a few seasons, LeFlore made the Major League club out of spring training in 1974. Martin was long gone by then, but LeFlore stuck around and had an incredible career for someone who didn't play organized baseball until he was in jail.
LeFlore played in the majors for eight seasons and registered over 1,200 career hits. He was also one of the top stolen-base threats in the majors during that time.
LeFlore's remarkable story was made into a made-for-tv movie called One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story.
The Baseball Bunch was the prefect fodder for young baseball fans who had outgrown their Saturday morning cartoons.
Having aired from 1980-1984, The Baseball Bunch starred Johnny Bench (then in the twilight of his career), Tommy Lasorda and the San Diego Chicken.
The premise was simple, every week Bench and another Major Leaguer taught fundamentals to a group of eight youngsters while the San Diego Chicken goofed around. Tommy Lasorda would then show up as "The Dugout Wizard" and show a clip of bloopers and great plays from around the Majors.
The show was a huge hit as television was bereft of baseball-only shows, with the exception of This Week in Baseball.
With the lack of national baseball programming, The Baseball Bunch provided many kids their first glance at players interacting with each other and seeing them doing something besides playing baseball.
To young baseball fans, it was downright odd to see rivals like Bench and Mike Schmidt working together and acting amicable towards each other.
Many Hall of Famers made their way to The Baseball Bunch to lend Bench a hand during its five-year run. In addition to Bench and Schmidt, other Hall of Famers who appeared on the show included Willie Stargell, Gary Carter, Ted Williams, Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, Tom Seaver and George Brett among others.
All told, 17 Hall of Fame players appeared on the show.
The Baseball Bunch was widely acclaimed and even won Emmy Awards during its five-year run.
Before Jose Canseco was busy spending his time cyber-hugging Al Gore, who he mistakenly thought was dead, he was a heck of a baseball player.
During the first few seasons of his career, Canseco possessed a combination of power and speed that had rarely been seen in Major League Baseball history.
One of the measuring sticks of the power/speed combination was membership in the 30/30 club. To get there, a player had to steal 30 bases and hit 30 home runs in the same season.
By the time Canseco was a rookie in 1986, only six players had accomplished that feat in Major League history.
An even more exclusive club was the 40/40 club which had no members.
In 1987 there was an outbreak of 30/30 players as Eric Davis, Joe Carter, Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry all reached the milestone. Before 1987, there was never a season in which more than one person went for 30/30.
1987 was Canseco's second full season and the second year in which he topped 30 home runs. In each of those seasons, he had 15 stolen bases.
With the rejuvenated interest in the 30/30 club in 1987, discussions again turned to the fact that nobody had reached 40/40.
Canseco changed all that though.
He was on a tear throughout the 1988 season in both categories and finally hit his 40th home run in the 150th game of the season. At the time, he needed just three more steals to reach 40. It took him four more games to get them.
Since Canseco broke the 40/40 barrier, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano have also joined the club.
For the first half of the 2011 season, Yankee fans eagerly followed Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 career hits as he plodded through game after game.
Jeter did not seem himself as it looked like age was finally catching up to him.
There was no question he would reach the mark, but it used to be a foregone conclusion that he would blast through the wall, not sputter up to it.
For weeks people wondered why Jeter was unable to drive the ball anymore.
He answered those critics on July 9, 2011 when he not only got his 3,000th hit, but did so by driving a long home run to left field in a five-for-five game.
The hit seemed like it lifted a huge weight off Jeter as he went on a long hot streak that lasted the remainder of the 2011 season and carried over into 2012.
At the time, Jeter became the 28th player to record 3,000 hits in a season.
From that point up through the first six weeks of the 2012 season, he has passed 11 players on the list as it doesn't look like he's ready to slow down just yet.
How bad were the St. Louis Browns? It took a world war to finally help them get to the World Series.
The Browns were a moribund franchise who for the first 50 years of the 1900s enjoyed no success whatsoever.
However, as the 1940s went on and more and more players went off to fight in World War II, the Browns actually benefited on the field.
Because Browns rosters typically consisted of miscreants and over-the-hill players nobody else wanted, they didn't lose as many players to the war as other teams.
So as America picked off superstars from around the league, the Browns roster remained largely untouched.
The Browns finished the 1944 season with a record of 89-65, but because of the overall mediocrity of the American League, that total was good enough to capture the pennant. They won 11 of their final 12 games to take the pennant by one game.
They took on the St. Louis Cardinals in what was to be known as the "Streetcar Series."
The Browns went on to lose to the far-superior Cardinals in six games, but if there was ever a time where a team was just happy to be there, it was the 1944 Browns.
During the first 50 years of baseball in the Modern Era, if you were a switch hitter it meant you were able to poke singles into the outfield from both sides of the plate.
Mickey Mantle changed that perception with a resounding boom.
Mantle was a player like the game had never seen. His combination of speed and power was rarely seen in the game and his power as a switch hitter was completely unheard of.
Before Mantle arrived on the scene, only two players in the American League had ever hit switch hit homers in the same game, and none had done it since 1940.
Mantle didn't just join their club, he made a habit of accomplishing the feat.
1964 was Mantle's last dominant season as the then-33 year old's body began to break down further. He still managed to hit 35 home runs and drive in 111 runs. He also accomplished his switch hitting home run feat one final time.
On August 12, 1964, Mantle belted homers from both sides of the plate to lead the Yankees to a 7-3 win over the White Sox.
It was the tenth time in his career he had accomplished the feat. By that date in 1964, only four other AL players had even accomplished the feat once.
As of 2012, Mantle had been out of the game for 44 years and his record of ten game with a switch hit home run has only been passed in the American League by Eddie Murray, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher.
There are certain things today's baseball fans were wondering if they'd ever see in their lifetime.
Things like another .400 hitter, a triple crown and 57-game hitting streak usually top the list.
One accomplishment many thought was nearly as impossible was a no-hitter thrown by a Mets pitcher.
The franchise had been around for 50 years and played 8,020 games before it finally happened.
Facing the World Champion Cardinals, who have one of the best hitting lineups in the majors, Santana got 134 pitches out of his surgically repaired shoulder to make history.
It was probably only a matter of time before someone stepped up for this franchise, but that doesn't make the event any less historical.
Frustration had built as Mets pitchers have thrown 35 one-hitters and players like Nolan Ryan, David Cone, Ton Seaver and Dwight Gooden hurled no-no's after leaving the Mets.
For a franchise that has a rich tradition of great starting pitching, the fact that they hadn't thrown a no-hitter in 50 years was a true anomaly.
Santana changed all that in what has already been a feel-good season for the Amazins'.
As baseball left the Deadball Era, the game underwent a fundamental change in the way it was played. The idea of manufacturing runs through bunts, steals and hit-and-runs took a back seat to the three-run homer.
One of the side effects in that shift was the idea that nobody would ever break Ty Cobb's career stolen base record.
From the time Ty Cobb retired in 1928 until players like Maury Wills and Luis Aparicio came along decades later, players just flat out didn't steal bases.
Wills and Aparicio may have brought back the art form, but Lou Brock perfected it.
Brock topped the 50 steal mark 12 times in the 16 full seasons he played and at the end of his 19-year career he stood with 938 stolen bases.
Brock was a base-stealer like the game had never seen, but the same year he retired from the game as a 40-year-old future Hall of Famer, a 20-year-old Rickey Henderson made his debut in Oakland.
Collecting baseball cards is a rite of passage for any young boy who grows up a baseball fan. It's a way to learn about the players, the teams and their stats.
And there is just something special about opening up a new pack of cards looking for your favorite players.
Before World War II, bubble gum and tobacco companies produced cards as a way to help their promote their products. During the war, card production fell off, but when Bowman began production in 1948, the hobby started to pick back up again.
Topps came into the fray in 1951 and issued two sets of 52 cards each to mimic playing cards. The next few years Topps increased production and when they bought out Bowman in 1956, they basically gained a monopoly on the industry that lasted until 1981.
Topps produced cards through the careers of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and beyond.
As the industry became over-saturated in the 1980s and beyond, Topps still remained relevant and continued to evolve.
Today, there are many variations, sets, companies and styles, but Topps still remains at the forefront.
Generations of kids have come and gone over the past 50 years and Topps was always there.
From 1982 through 1987, Dave Dravecky was an above-average lefty pitcher for the Padres. Although he was 31 years old by the start of the 1987 season, he was beginning to emerge as a very reliable veteran pitcher.
He was acquired midway through the 1987 season by the Giants and pitched well down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Dravecky was a good guy whose career path followed the same trajectory as hundreds who pitched before him.
The following season, Dravecky's life changed and what ensued was a roller coaster of emotions the likes of which have rarely been matched in the game.
First the sad news came out in 1988 that doctors found a cancerous tumor in his pitching arm. Doctors would remove half of his deltoid muscle and freeze the humerus bone. Most thought that such extensive surgery on his pitching arm would surely end his career.
However, Dravecky would have none of that and against all odds returned to pitching by July of 1989. Improbably, Dravecky worked himself all the way back to the majors and on August 10, made his triumphant return to the big leagues.
It was nothing short of a miracle that Dravecky made it back, but to top it off, he pitched eight innings in a 4-3 win over the Reds. It was one of the great feel-good stories baseball had seen in years.
The good feeling didn't last though.
In his next start against the Expos, Dravecky tried to pitch through a tingling sensation in his arm, leading to one of the more gruesome scenes anyone has ever seen in a game.
In the fifth inning, Dravecky threw a pitch to Tim Raines and immediately crumpled to the ground. A loud pop was heard throughout the stadium and it was clear to everyone that Dravecky had broke his arm.
While celebrating the Giants NLCS victory over the Cubs, Dravecky broke his arm again and this time it was discovered that the cancer had returned. At that point, he had no other option but to have his pitching arm amputated.
Dravecky would not be held back though. He went on to become a motivational speaker and also wrote two books.
Up until 1996, Roberto Alomar was known as a one of the top young superstars in the game. He was a player who quietly went about his business and was a respectful son of a former big leaguer.
One incident changed all of that and left a stain on his Hall of Fame career.
On September 27, 1996 Alomar was called out on a third strike by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. He got into a heated argument with the umpire but when manager Davey Johnson began to separate Alomar from Hirschbeck, Alomar spit inn his face.
If that wasn't bad enough, Alomar contended that Hirschbeck called him a racial slur and was bitter because one of his sons had died of ALD.
Hirschbeck had to be physically restrained from attacking Alomar under the stadium when he heard about the comments and was forced to sit out the following game as an umpire.
To his credit, Alomar eventually apologized and made a $50,000 donation to ALD research and has had numerous charitable ventures together with Hirschbeck.
Ogden Nash was an American poet who write light-hearted verse that was popular for four decades during the middle part of the 20th century.
Nash was also a big baseball fan and penned one of the most popular poems written about the sport. The poem Lineup for Yesterday was written for SPORT Magazine in 1949 and recalled the greatest baseball players of the early part of the 20th century.
At the time of publication, 18 of the players listed were already enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Currently, the only player mentioned in the poem who isn't a Hall of Famer is Bobo Newsome.
The poem's style is simple and enjoyable and conjures up a time when the game was just starting to spread in popularity.
Line-Up for Yesterday by Ogden Nash
A is for Alex
The great Alexander;
More Goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander.
B is for Bresnahan
Back of the plate;
The Cubs were his love,
and McGraw his hate.
C is for Cobb,
Who grew spikes and not corn,
And made all the basemen
Wish they weren't born.
D is for Dean,
The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who's the tops?
Said correctly, I is.
E is for Evers,
His jaw in advance;
To Tinker with Chance.
F is for Fordham
And Frankie and Frisch;
I wish he were back
With the Giants, I wish.
G is for Gehrig,
The Pride of the Stadium;
His record pure gold,
His courage, pure radium.
H is for Hornsby;
When pitching to Rog,
The pitcher would pitch,
Then the pitcher would dodge.
I is for Me,
Not a hard-hitting man,
But an outstanding all-time
J is for Johnson
The Big Train in his prime
Was so fast he could throw
Three strikes at a time.
K is for Keeler,
As fresh as green paint,
The fastest and mostest
To hit where they ain't.
L is for Lajoie
Whom Clevelanders love,
With glue in his glove.
M is for Matty,
Who carried a charm
In the form of an extra
brain in his arm.
N is for Newsom,
Bobo's favorite kin.
You ask how he's here,
He talked himself in.
O is for Ott
Of the restless right foot.
When he leaned on the pellet,
The pellet stayed put.
P is for Plank,
The arm of the A's;
When he tangled with Matty
Games lasted for days.
Q is for Don Quixote
Neither Yankees nor years
Can halt his attack.
R is for Ruth.
To tell you the truth,
There's just no more to be said,
Just R is for Ruth.
S is for Speaker,
Swift center-field tender,
When the ball saw him coming,
It yelled, "I surrender."
T is for Terry
The Giant from Memphis
Whose .400 average
You can't overemphis.
U would be 'Ubell
if Carl were a cockney;
We say Hubbell and Baseball
Like Football and Rockne.
V is for Vance
The Dodger's very own Dazzy;
None of his rivals
Could throw as fast as he.
W is for Wagner,
The bowlegged beauty;
Short was closed to all traffic
With Honus on duty.
X is the first
of two x's in Foxx
Who was right behind Ruth
with his powerful soxx.
Y is for Young
The magnificent Cy;
People battled against him,
But I never knew why.
Z is for Zenith
The summit of fame.
These men are up there.
These men are the game.
Part of the charm of Major League Baseball is that there are enduring images and symbols that link generations together through timeless memories. One of the great symbols of the game today is Fenway Park's Green Monster.
While the monster has been there as long as Fenway Park itself, it actually wasn't always green.
In fact, from the park's opening in 1912 until 1947, the wall featured advertisements instead.
The original wall was made of wood, but in the Fenway fire of 1934, the wall was greatly damaged. It was rebuilt using tin this time and covered again with advertisements.
Finally, in 1947 the ads were painted over and the wall itself has gone largely unchanged (aside from a renovation in 1976) for the past 65 years.
When scores of Major League ballplayers left the game temporarily to fight in World War II, it opened up opportunities for those who never would have had a shot at the big leagues.
One of those players was Pete Gray.
Gray lost his right arm in a childhood accident, but loved the game of baseball as a child.
He trained to play the game despite his handicap and developed incredible bat control using just his left arm. Gray also practiced a bunting method in which he planted the knob of the bat into his side and guided the bat towards the pitch.
While Gray was seen as a curiosity, his presence in the professional game was far from a charity case.
Gray batted .333 in the Southern League in 1944 and stole 63 bases on his way to earning league MVP honors.
The St. Louis Browns purchased Gray's contract in 1945 and he would go on to play one season in the Majors.
Gray was a huge attraction and drew big crowds to Browns games. He batted .218 while playing in 77 games while playing strong defense in the outfield.
The league eventually figured out that Gray had trouble with breaking pitches and when many big leaguers returned the following season, Gray was out of a job.
Gray's one season in the majors remains one of the more remarkable stories of the 20th century.
In 1996 the Yankees were looking to break an 18-year World Series drought and Derek Jeter was a rookie shortstop batting ninth in the lineup.
The Yankees faced off against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1996 ALCS and game one was an exciting back-and-forth affair.
The game featured three ties and two lead changes and when the eight inning rolled around, the Orioles found themselves ahead 4-3.
Jeter lofted a fly ball to right field and as Orioles' right fielder Tony Tarasco leaped at the ball for the wall, 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and pulled the ball into the stands.
Despite the fact that umpire Richie Garcia was in great position out in right field, he signaled for a home run. Tarasco argued vehemently as did Orioles' manager Davey Johnson, but to no avail.
The call remains one of the biggest blown calls in postseason history.
The game went into extra innings and was ultimately won by Bernie Williams home run in the bottom of the 11th.
The Yankees went on to win the series and beat the Braves four games to two in the World Series.
Believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago when the Yankees desperately wanted to be as successful as the Mets.
The era was the late 1980's and while the Mets roster was filled with exciting players like Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez, the Yankees trotted out Ken Phelps, Steve Balboni and Mike Pagliarulo.
In fact, the 1990 Yankees were so bad that they sewed up the top pick in 1991's Major League Baseball draft.
Lucky for them, the alleged best pitching prospect since Gooden was sitting there and he was lefty to boot. Brien Taylor threw in the high-90's consistently, struck out a ton of batters and didn't walk many while pitching high school in North Carolina.
The Yankees picked him first overall in a no-brainer move and gave him a $1.55 million signing bonus, the biggest signing bonus for a draftee at the time.
Taylor showed signs of dominance in the low minors during 1992 and 1993, but he was far from Major-League ready. Still though, Baseball America named him the best prospect in baseball after the 1992 season and the second-best prospect behind Chipper Jones in 1993.
However, 1993 would not be a good year for Taylor. He got in a fight in December of 1993 and injured his shoulder so bad that he needed capsule and labrum surgery.
For all intents and purposes, Taylor was done.
When the Yankees finally rose to prominence and took the 1996 World Series title, Taylor was 25 years old. He was one year older than Andy Pettitte and had he developed, Taylor could have been a key cog in the rotation for the Yankees as they returned to dominance.
Instead, while the Yankees were playing in the '96 World Series, Taylor was still trying to come back, toiling in Single A with an 0-5 record and 18.73 ERA.
With the advent of HDTV, super-slow motion replays and nightly national coverage of every game, umpires are under more scrutiny than ever before.
After a number of obvious blown calls in big spots, the debate of using instant replay in baseball had gained momentum as the game moved to the 21st century.
Finally, in 2008 MLB approved the use of instant replay on home run calls.
Umpires are allowed to use replay to determine whether a ball made it out of the park, was fair or foul or if fan interference was involved.
This step might be looked at as even more significant later on if instant replay is expanded to even more plays.
There were a handful of crafty, veteran pitchers in the 1980s who were accused of doctoring baseballs at some point in their careers.
Whispers were always abound about Mike Scott, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton and of course Gaylord Perry but only one was caught red-handed in the middle of a game: Joe Niekro.
In a scene that still shows up on blooper reels, Niekro is asked by umpire Tim Tschida to empty his pockets while the other umpires examined his glove.
Niekro flipped his pockets inside out, flinging a small emery board to the ground in the process.
It looked like Niekro was almost slick enough to get away with it, but one of the umpires saw the flying nail file land at the feet of Kent Hrbek.
Niekro was immediately ejected and suspended ten days.
The priceless part of the whole incident was in the moments after being found out, Niekro could be seen in the video with a "caught with his hand in the cookie jar" smile right after being caught.
While Niekro first claimed he used the file to keep his nails in shape for throwing the knuckleball, he ultimately admitted to the deed and had a sense of humor about it.
Umpires, like officials in every sport, make bad calls. As long as there is a human element involved in officiating games, there will always be blown calls, some calls even egregiously wrong.
As much as we hate it as fans, it's understandable.
However, Eric Gregg's game as the home plate umpire in game five of the 1997 NLCS was so consistently bad it remains one of the most ridiculed games an umpire has ever had.
Gregg was an affable guy who was generally considered a decent umpire. He didn't have any incidents like this before, and had to be graded well enough to be working in the post season.
The game in question was a contest between the Marlins and Braves in the 1997 NLCS. The series was tied at two and after Marlins starter Kevin Brown came down with an illness the morning of the game, Livan Hernandez was pushed into the starting role.
He was set to face off against Greg Maddux who was in the prime of his dominant career.
Both pitchers were good enough to shut down anyone's lineup, but the help they got from Gregg was hard to believe.
Gregg consistently called pitches "strikes" that were over a foot outside, and that's no exaggeration.
What resulted was a 15-strikeout performance by Hernandez (six strikeouts were looking) in a 2-1 Marlins win. The Marlins would go on to win the series and take the World Series 4-3 over the Cleveland Indians.
The game was so poorly called by Gregg that allegations of game-fixing or favoritism were even cited by fans as reasons.
Whatever the case, Gregg's game in game five of the NLCS is the most poorly umpired game in recent memory.
Throughout the course of baseball history, pitchers showed they would try anything to get hitters out. They threw pitches that contorted their arms, they defaced the baseball with spit, rosin or vaseline and they intimidated batters by buzzing fastballs past their eyes.
Rip Sewell took things to a new level by coming up with the idea of throwing a pitch 25 feet into the air and having it cross the plate.
The pitch was named the "Eephus pitch" and it helped Sewell have his greatest success in his career.
The pitch allowed Sewell to be chosen for the 1946 All Star Game which gave him the chance to showcase his pitch to a national audience.
Sewell finally got into the game in the eighth inning and was set to face Ted Williams in his home ballpark. Sewell gave a nod to Williams to let him know the popular pitch was coming, but Williams took it for a ball. He then threw a second Eephus to Williams who blasted it for a home run.
The homer was the only one ever hit off of Sewell's Eephus.
Williams and Sewell exchanged some good-natured ribbing as Williams circled the bases and Sewell received a nice hand from the Fenway crowd for being such a good sport.
When Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss had Forbes Field built in 1909, he wanted a ballpark that would challenge hitters to hit home runs. With foul poles at 360 and 375 feet with the deepest corner 442 feet away from home plate, he got just that.
The result was that Forbes Field played like a huge stadium with a high number of triples and inside-the-park home runs, but over-the-fence home runs were hard to come by.
In 1947, long after Dreyfuss' death, the Pirates acquired Hank Greenberg and decided to move the left field fence in to accommodate the aging slugger. Greenberg played just one season for the Pirates though and retired at the age of 36.
While the fences didn't have any long-term benefits for Greenberg, the Pirates had a young slugger named Ralph Kiner who was happy to take advantage.
The left field line was known as "Kiner's Korner" and helped Kiner lead the National League in home runs for each of his first seven seasons.
The shortened dimensions helped Kiner to a Hall of Fame career he may not have had without them.
On a side note, when Kiner was traded in 1953, Forbes Field returned to its original dimensions. The shortened fences thus played no part in Bill Mazeroski's home run to win the 1960 World Series.
If you encountered Earl Weaver anywhere outside of a baseball stadium, you'd think he was nothing but a kindly grandfather ambling his way through life.
Put him on a baseball field and make him mad, and you'll see and hear a rugged curmudgeon, spewing four-letter words faster than you can keep track.
The essential Weaver tirade came on September 17, 1980 when he took on longtime American League umpire Bill Haller.
Haller at the time was a 19-year veteran and Weaver was in his 12th year managing the Orioles.
Haller was wearing a microphone for a documentary about umpires, and that is very fortunate for anyone interested in comedy. Haller called a balk on Orioles' pitcher Mike Flanagan and that set Weaver off.
The video attached to this slide explains it all and is most definitely not safe for work.
Most of the exchange isn't able to be transcribed on a family website like this, but one brief exchange shows Haller was up to the challenge with Weaver.
Weaver declared that he eventually was going to be in the Hall of Fame while Haller would be nowhere. Weaver turned out to be right, but Haller had a great comeback.
The exchange went like this:
Haller: Oh you're gonna be in the Hall of Fame?
Weaver: You know it.
Haller: Why? For (messing) up World Series?
Throughout the course of Major League Baseball history, there have been a number of incidents in which players and coaches on the field were put in danger by the actions of fans.
Some of the more visible incidents included fans throwing items onto the field of play or storming the field after a big win.
There however are some incidents in which fans have come in contact with on-field personnel in a harmful way.
One of the most visible and horrific incidents came when a man and his son stormed out of the stands and attacked Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa without warning.
The incident happened in 2002 in a game at Comiskey Park. The 54-year-old Gamboa was standing in his first-base coaching box when with one out in the ninth inning, the pair jumped out of the stands and attacked Gamboa from behind.
They tackled Gamboa to the ground and began to pound on him before members of both teams could come to his aid.
Gamboa was left bloodied and stunned as he left the field for medical attention.
The attack was a reminder that no matter how much security is out there and how many eyes are on the crowd, on-field personnel are in a very vulnerable position. They are focused on the game in front of them, and can't be expected to monitor what is going on with the thousands of people in the stands.
Luckily, incidents like this are few and far between, but one day a player, umpire or coach may not be so lucky.
During an era full of colorful characters, Dock Ellis had one of the more unique personalities out there.
Ellis was abrasive, outlandish and spoke his mind freely.
He was a talented pitcher who ultimately won 19 games for the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971.
On June 12, 1970 Ellis threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. He issued eight walks on the game and pitched himself in and out of trouble all afternoon.
The game was a part of baseball history, but as more pitchers threw their own no-hitters over time, Ellis' performance got pushed to the back of people's minds.
That is until 1984 when he claimed that he was high on LSD when he threw his no-hitter.
While there is no way of verifying Ellis' story, and some reputable people have questioned the story's authenticity, Ellis stuck by it until he died of liver disease in 2008.
Ellis claimed that he thought the Pirates had a day off that day and ingested some LSD around noon. He said that soon after, his girlfriend noticed in that day's paper that the Pirates actually had a doubleheader and Ellis was slated to start one of the games.
According to Ellis, he was still tripping when he arrived at the ballpark and took the mound under the influence of LSD and amphetamines.
Ellis recounted the game in his own words:
"I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters, and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate."
Whether the story was true or false, Ellis' no-hitter in 1970 will never be lost in the shuffle, no matter how many pitchers throw no-hitters.
Cy Young wins No. 511 (1911): Young wins four games in 1911 to bring his total for 511. Doubt we'll ever see that again.
Ty Cobb beats up a handicapped fan (1912): The quintessential story surrounding Cobb's legendary temper.
Babe Ruth converted to batter (1919): Before selling Ruth to the Yankees, the Red Sox shifted him from pitcher to right field and put him in the lineup full-time. Smart move.
Bill Terry bats .401 (1930): Terry batted .401 in 1930 and to this day is still the last National League player to hit .400.
Hiram Bithorn makes the majors (1942): Bithorn became the first Puerto Rican-born player to make the majors, opening a door for some of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Herb Score injury (1957): Score was one of the great young pitchers in the game before being struck in the face with a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald. He was never the same.
Warren Spahn wins No. 363 (1965): On September 12, 1965, a 44-year-old Spahn walked off the mound for the final time as a winning pitcher after throwing a complete game in a 7-2 win over the Cubs.
Spahn's 363 wins is the most by any MLB lefty and since he recorded his final win in 1965, no lefty has come close to him.
Mets draft Steve Chilcott over Reggie Jackson (1966): Imagine Reggie Jackson as a Mets icon instead of a Yankees legend. It should have happened.
Ron Santo Day (1971): Santo struggled with diabetes in secrecy for his entire adult life. He didn't disclose his debilitating condition for his entire career and finally acknowledged it publicly at Ron Santo Day in 1971. His struggles were great, but he was an icon of Chicago baseball for 50 years.
Steve Blass loses his control (1973): Blass was a top pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates for nearly a decade, until one day he just lost it. When Blass went out to pitch in the 1973 season, he simply couldn't throw a strike. He suffered from a mysterious mental block that came to be known as "Steve Blass Disease."
Goose Gossage converted to closer (1977): In 1976 White Sox manager gave Rich Gossage a shot at the starting rotation. He went 9-17 and was shipped to the Pirates where he was converted to a closer. Thus began the Hall of Fame career of one of the position's pioneers.
1981 Baseball Strike (1981): The strike caused the cancellation of 713 games and caused the season to be split into two halves.
Sidd Finch (1985): Sports Illustrated decided to play an April Fool's joke by putting mysterious Mets prospect named Sidd Finch on their April 1st cover. Fans and reporters fell for the joke hard after reading George Plimpton's article that said he threw 168 mph among other things.
Pete Rose vs. Dave Pallone (1988): Well at least one good thing that came out of Pete Rose's gambling scandal was that a lot of people forgot this ugly incident. Pallone made slight contact with Rose during an argument and Rose retaliated by shoving the umpire multiple times.
Bo Jackson's All Star game home run (1989): For a stretch of time, it would be hard to argue that Bo Jackson wasn't the best athlete on the planet. His home run leading off the 1989 All Star game was one of the top moments of his career.
Dave Stieb finally throws no hitter (1990): Steib was perhaps the biggest hard-luck pitcher when it came to potential no-hitters. He threw five one-hitters over a 15-month span and even took no-hitters into the ninth on consecutive starts. He lost a perfect game in the ninth as well. Steib finally broke through on September 2, 1990 and completed a no-hitter.
Deion Sanders reaches World Series (1992): As a member of the Braves, Sanders participated in the 1992 World Series. He later would play in a Super Bowl, becoming the only person to accomplish that feat.
Nolan Ryan pummels Robin Ventura (1993): Ryan may have been an old man, but he was a tough old man. Ventura found out the hard way when he charged the mound, was instantly put in a headlock and beaten about his head.
Dwight Gooden throws no hitter (1996): Not many people have squandered as much talent as Gooden. During the mid-1980s, he was capable of throwing a no-hitter at any time. He never did. It was good to see Gooden finally have a crowning achievement when he finally threw a no-hitter in 1996.
Marlins win World Series in walk-off game seven (1997): Edgar Renteria delivers Craig Counsell to give the Marlins a 3-2 win in the 11th inning to capture the World Series in walk-off fashion.
Umpire walk out (1999): In 1999 more than 50 MLB umpires resigned as part of a labor negotiating ploy. It ended up being a major strategical blunder as MLB accepted the resignations of 22 umpires and didn't let them back.
John Rocker (2000): Rocker set off a firestorm with comments in a Sports Illustrated article that attacked and offended just about everybody.
Mike Piazza vs. Roger Clemens (2000): When Clemens fired the barrel of Piazza's broken bat at the slugger as he ran towards first base, many fans wondered why he would do such a thing. It was probably because he was a steroid-filled, angry psychopath.
Amphetamines banned in baseball (2005): Although steroids got most of the headlines, the banishment "greenies" probably had a more wide-ranging effect on the game. The use of amphetamines dated back decades and was a common way for players to get through the season.
Game 162 (2011): Coming into the final game of the season, the Rays needed to beat the Yankees and have the Red Sox lose to the Orioles to clinch a spot in the playoffs. The Rays were down 7-0 in the eight inning and the Red Sox had a late, 3-2 lead on the Orioles. Things looked bleak for Rays fans until they rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eight and tied the game on a two-out solo homer in the ninth.
In events that happened nearly simultaneously, The Orioles scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win over the Red Sox and Evan Longoria hit a 12th inning homer to send the Rays to the postseason.