MLB's 13 Greatest/Most Memorable 4th of July Moments
Nothing says America like baseball and the Fourth of July.
MLB has played a big role in celebrating America's birthday over the years, and it has provided some truly incredible memories.
As we celebrate the 237th anniversary of Independence Day, let's take a look at the best moments from MLB over the years.
13. Jayson Werth's Wacky Trip Around the Bases (2011)
Jayson Werth helped the Washington Nationals walk off against the Chicago Cubs on the Fourth of July in 2011, but that simple sentence doesn't begin to describe the weird way he did it.
After starting the game 1-for-3 with two RBI, a walk and being caught stealing at second, Werth came up in the bottom of the 10th inning with the score knotted at 4-4 to face Marcos Mateo. He drew a walk to reach first, and from there, the theatrics began.
The Nats decided to go for it all, sending a pinch hitter up for pitcher Henry Rodriguez. Surprisingly enough, that pinch hitter was fellow pitcher Livan Hernandez, who, although a solid hitter for a pitcher, did not seem like the best choice.
Hernandez dropped a perfectly executed bunt down the first-base line to move Werth to second. Werth then stole third without a throw, putting his team in a great position to win.
It looked like Ivan Rodriguez would have to beat the Cubs, but the Cubs beat the Cubs, as pitcher Carlos Marmol, who only threw five pitches all game (three balls), threw a wild pitch, and Werth jogged home for the 5-4 victory.
Anyone who saw this walk-off isn't likely to forget it anytime soon.
12. Tim McCarver's Grand Slam Doesn't Count (1976)
You may have heard of Tim McCarver as an announcer for FOX Sports, but before that, he was a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.
McCarver was a solid catcher, but perhaps the most memorable moment of his 21-year career is also the one he'd like to forget.
In a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the bicentennial of America's Independence Day, McCarver launched a home run with the bases loaded, so the Phils should've scored four runs, right?
McCarver actually passed teammate Garry Maddox on the basepath and, by rule, was called out.
This is one of just three "grand slam singles" in history, according to Baseball Reference, and the only reason McCarver isn't still remembered for this is because the Phillies won, 10-5.
11. Boston Red Sox Blast 8 Home Runs (1977)
Exactly one year after Tim McCarver had his home run taken away, the Boston Red Sox would set the all-time record for home runs in a single game.
After trailing throughout the game, the Red Sox found themselves down, 6-3, heading into the bottom of the seventh. The team had three runs on two home runs to that point.
The Red Sox then put on a fireworks display of their own, launching six home runs in the seventh and eighth innings, including four in the eighth to erase a deficit and win the game.
The record has since been broken, but at the time, no team had ever put on a power-hitting clinic like the BoSox did that day.
10. Albert Pujols Hits His 300th Career Home Run (2008)
Albert Pujols is one of the best players in baseball history, and on July 4, 2008, we witnessed him smash the 300th home run of his legendary career.
While 300 home runs isn't exactly a major accomplishment these days, it was still a milestone on the way to his 488 career home runs.
At 33 years old, Pujols still has several years left in the majors, and he could conceivably hit 600 home runs in his career without a problem. This was just one of many homers, but to reach 300 on Independence Day was special.
9. Billy Wagner's 300th Save (2006)
Recording 300 career saves is much more rare than hitting 300 home runs, and in 2006, Billy Wagner reached that milestone.
Billy the Kid is one of the top closers in history, posting a career ERA of 2.31 with 422 saves. He was also elected to seven All-Star Games and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting in 1999.
Wagner became just the 20th pitcher in history to notch 300 saves on July 4, 2006, as he converted his 16th save of the season en route to 40 on the year.
8. Jim Tabor's 4 Home Runs (1939)
Jim Tabor isn't exactly a legend, but he played like one on July 4, 1939.
You may not have heard of Tabor's spectacle because that day belonged to Lou Gehrig, but Tabor put on a show for Red Sox fans.
In the first game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics, Tabor launched a ball into the stands as part of a three-hit, two-RBI performance.
Clearly unsatisfied, Tabor would then come back in the second game and build on his day, smacking three more long balls, including two grand slams, to give himself 11 RBI and 19 total bases on the day.
Tabor simply couldn't be stopped, and he had one of the best days ever in the illustrious history of Major League Baseball.
7. Phil Niekro's 3,000th Strikeout (1984)
Phil Niekro was one of the best strikeout pitchers in history, notching 3,422 career K's.
While pitching for the New York Yankees, Niekro became the ninth man in history to fan 3,000 career batters in 1984, when he struck out Larry Parrish of the Texas Rangers.
Niekro finished the year 16-8 with 136 strikeouts, none bigger than this milestone on America's birthday.
6. Bill Dickey Takes out Carl Reynolds (1932)
Carl Reynolds of the Washington Senators made a bad mistake when he took off for home on a close play, running into New York Yankees catcher Bill Dickey.
Dickey didn't take kindly to Reynolds coming full force at him and responded by punching Reynolds, breaking his jaw in the process.
Dickey was fined $1,000 (which was a lot of money in 1932) and suspended 30 days for sucker-punching Reynolds.
Things can get heated in baseball, but it's rare to see a catcher lose it like Dickey did.
5. Fenway Reunion (2011)
This slide really accounts for all military reunions with family members, but the one at Fenway was special.
To see the emotional reactions of the family members was incredible, as a whirlwind of elation took over.
Being reunited with a loved one who is fighting for a nation on the day its celebrating everything that the United States stands for is truly incredible, and all of these moments deserve to crack the top five on this list.
4. Nolan Ryan Reaches 3,000 K's (1980)
- He was only the fourth player to do it in history at the time.
- He did it faster than Niekro.
- He finished with over 5,000 K's.
Nolan Ryan is one of the best pitchers in MLB history, and July 4, 1980 will go down as a special day for him.
As a member of the Houston Astros, Ryan became just the fourth player in history to reach 3,000 strikeouts in a career when he fanned Cesar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds.
Ryan's 3,000th K ranks higher than Niekro's for three reasons:
3. The Game That Wouldn't End (1985)
The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves played in an NL East rivalry in 1985, but the two sides just couldn't finish the game.
Keith Hernandez was one of the heroes of the game, hitting for the cycle for the Mets. He was a big reason why the team won the game, 16-13, in 19 innings.
The biggest moment came in the bottom of the 18th inning, however, when the Braves ran out of players and sent relief pitcher Rick Camp up to the plate down 11-10 with two outs. The game looked like it was over since Camp was a .060 career hitter, but he hit the only home run of his career to tie the game once more and send it to the 19th.
The game then ended with Camp striking out, as the Mets won at 3:55 a.m., but the festivities weren't over.
The Braves held a fireworks display, as originally planned, leading to a wave of 911 calls from local residents who thought the city was under attack.
2. Dave Righetti's No-No (1983)
Dave Righetti pitched for the Yankees against the rival Red Sox in 1983, his final year as a starting pitcher.
A former Rookie of the Year winner, Righetti was a solid pitcher, but he never turned into a spectacular one. However, on this day, he was spectacular.
The Red Sox never stood a chance against Righetti, as he mowed them down one by one all day. He eventually finished with a no-hitter.
If that's not enough for you, President Richard Nixon was in the crowd as well.
1. Lou Gehrig Says Goodbye (1939)
Lou Gehrig said goodbye to the great game of baseball on the Fourth of July in 1939. His emotional farewell speech remains arguably the greatest moment in baseball history.
After receiving a standing ovation for almost two minutes, Gehrig's No. 4 was retired, becoming the first player to have his jersey honored forever.
Gehrig's career was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and this famous address is one of the greatest moments in all of sports.