10th anniversary: Paul Wilson’s start from hell

Question: Of all the times a starting pitcher has gotten the hook before recording a single out, what is the most runs he’s allowed before marching to the showers? Answer: eight runs.

Five times a starter has faced eight batters, seen them all get on base and score, and left the game with nary an out to his credit. Incredibly, two of five games happened to the same starter—one-time Mets prospect Paul Wilson. And today is the 10th anniversary of the first time for Wilson.

It wasn’t the first time it happened to anyone. In 1984, A’s hurler Bill Krueger created the club, and Bobby Jones of the Mets joined it in 1997, followed by KC’s Blake Stein in 1998.

On July 10, 2003, Reds starter Paul Wilson had a day from hell.

Facing off against a talented Houston Astros club, Wilson didn’t begin the day too badly, given what was in store. Leadoff hitter Craig Biggio grounded a routine one to shortstop Ray Olmedo. However, Olmedo botched it, and Biggio was safe on an error. It would be the only error committed behind Wilson, but he would continue to be snake-bit in this outing.

Up next was Geoff Blum. On a 2-1 count, he singled to left, sending Biggio scurrying to third. Now came the really dangerous part of the Astros batting order—Jeff Bagwell followed by Lance Berkman, Richard Hidalgo and Morgan Ensberg. Bagwell and Berkman were two of the best sluggers in the game. Hidalgo, three years removed from a 44-homer campaign, would hit .309 with 28 homers in 2003. Ensberg, in his first full season, would hit .291 with 25 homers. That was the fun part of the order.

Wilson didn’t want to give Bagwell anything too good to hit, but also didn’t want to concede the at-bat. He threw a first pitch ball, then got a called strike. After another ball, Bagwell swung and miss to even the count, 2-2. After another ball for a full count, Bagwell swung on Wilson’s best offering—and laced an RBI single to right.

Berkman now came up with runners on first and second. Wilson either was willing to pitch around him or didn’t have any control. The first three pitches were all balls. Wilson rallied, and got a called strike and foul to bring it to a full count, but then issued ball four to load the bases. Four batters, 18 pitches—and it was 1-0 with three on and no outs.

Hidalgo came up next and in a change of pace, Wilson got ahead of the hitter;Hidalgo fouled off each of the first three pitches. Then Wilson tried to get cute, aiming for the corners, and Hidalgo evened the count, 2-2. Then he swung again and made good contact. His sharply hit liner down the left field line went for a double that brought everyone home. The game was now 4-0 and rapidly getting out of hand.

Please note Wilson really wasn’t pitching terribly here. He just wasn’t quite able to close anyone out. He’d gotten two strikes on three straight hitters, but they all reached base.

Now came Ensberg in what had to be the most frustrating at bat of the inning for Wilson. He really needed an out here. He got a called strike followed by a ball to make it a 1-1 count. When Ensberg fouled off the next offering, Wilson was just one strike from finally, mercifully getting his first out and then facing the weaker bottom of the order.

But Ensberg fouled off the next pitch. And the next one. And the next one. He took the next pitch to even the count, 2-2, and then fouled off yet another. The ninth pitch of the at bat went for a ball to bring things to a full count, and then, once again, Wilson couldn’t seal the deal. Ensberg singled to right, with Hidalgo holding up at third. Six batters up, six batters on, 34 pitches, and Wilson was still looking for his first out.

Up next was catcher Brad Ausmus, who owed his career to his work behind the plate, not at the plate. He was hitting barely over .200 on the year; maybe Wilson could get him for the first out. Or not. Ausmus singled to center, scoring Hidalgo. By now the Reds had pitcher John Riedling warming up as fast as he could in the bullpen.

Defensive stud shortstop Adam Everett came up next. Again Wilson got two strikes. Again it made no difference. First Wilson threw a wild pitch that sent Ensberg from second to third, and then Everett hit a liner to left for yet another single.

That was it. Wilson was done. For a 43-pitch, out-less outing, it wasn’t so bad. Wilson got to two strikes several times, but that doesn’t mean anything. There was an error and they were singles he allowed, not homers. But almost all the singles were line drives, and everyone reached base.

The fun continued when Riedling came in. Though he struck out opposing pitcher Ron Villone, the next two batters hit seeing-eye grounders, letting the inherited runners score, giving Wilson his eight runs allowed. (Riedling walked in another run moments later for good measure).

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Wilson allowed eight runs, seven earned, on six hits and a walk. Others have had worse starts, but no one can top eight runs and no outs (though Wilson later tied this feat two years later). Thus 10 years ago today was one of the most unfortunate starts ever.

Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.


2,000 days since Seattle signs free agent Arthur Rhodes.

3,000 days since former pitcher Earl Wilson dies at age 70.

3,000 days since Mark Mulder throws a 10-inning complete game shutout for a 1-0 win over Houston. The opposing pitcher is Rogers Clemens, and it’s the third straight time his team has lost 1-0 when he starts.

4,000 days since the White Sox trade center fielder Kenny Lofton to the Giants.

4,000 days since Jim Thome hits a walk-off grand slam for a 9-6 Cleveland win over Detroit.

5,000 days since the Cubs hire Don Baylor as their new manager. He’ll do a terrible job.

5,000 days since the Indians hire manager Charlie Manuel.

7,000 days since Expos reliever Mel Rojas strikes out the side on the bare minimum nine pitches in the ninth inning against the Mets.

7,000 days since Jeff Cirillo makes his big league debut.

8,000 days since Alan Trammell bops out his 2,000th career hit.

8,000 days since life imitates art: The Yankees bench Don Mattingly and fine him $250 for not getting a haircut, paralleling a storyline from an episode of The Simpsons he appeared on.

15,000 days since Andy Pettitte is born.


1864 Jimmy McAleer, the winningest manager in the history of the St. Louis Browns, is born.

1865 Bobby Lowe, long-lasting infielder, is born.

1884 Major league debut: Tommy McCarthy, one of the least deserving Hall of Famers.

1894 It’s the end of an era as Jerry Denny, the last man to play without a glove, plays his final game.

1901 Harry Davis hits the first cycle in the AL.

1901 The Pirates top the Braves 1-0 despite Boston getting 15 hits.

1903 The New York Giants have a rowdy day. They play the Cardinals and get into a fight in the 10th. Players, fan, and cops are on the field before order is restored. After the game, the Giants attack their driver on the way back to the hotel, beat him up and toss him off because they think he is driving too slowly.

1907 Tommy Corcoran, a long-lasting no-hit/good-glove infielder, plays his last game.

1910 Franklin P. Adams publishes his famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance poem.

1911 Sherry Magee punches umpire Bill Finneran, breaking his jaw. Magee will be suspended for 36 games as a result.

1914 The Tigers nab A’s star Cocky Eddie Collins on a hidden ball trick.

1917 Yankees pitcher Ray Caldwell comes out of the bullpen and throws 9.2 innings of hitless ball before the Yankees win in the 17th inning.

1919 Indians manager Lee Fohl loses his job in spectacular fashion. Babe Ruth hits a ninth inning grand slam for an 8-7 Red Sox win over the Indians. Fohl had just put the wrong reliever in. He normally let star center fielder Tris Speaker make pitching decisions for him, and when Speaker signaled to bring in Pitcher A, Fohl misread and put in Pitcher B.

1920 Tris Speaker sets a record (since broken) by getting hits in 11 straight at bats.

1925 The A’s select veteran spitballer Jack Quinn on waivers from the Red Sox.

1925 Hack Wilson hits two home runs in one inning versus the Pirates.

1926 Hack Wilson hits a walk-off home run just nine days after a previous walk-off shot. That’s rather impressive, especially given that he has just three walk-off home runs in his entire career.

1927 Yankees skipper Miller Huggins loses his 1,000th game as a big league manager. His record is 1,176-1,000.

1928 Washington pitcher Milt Gaston allows 14 hits in a complete game shutout.

1929 The Pirates and Phillies combine for nine home runs in one game, one in each inning. Pirates win, 15-9.

1932 Lefty Gomez ties career worsts for hits allowed (15) and runs (9).

1932 Perhaps the wildest game in baseball history happens, as the A’s top the Indians 18-17 in 18 innings. The A’s had only two pitchers available that day, and the starter got knocked out early, causing reliever Eddie Rommell to have one of the most unlikely relief lines in history: 17 IP, 29 H, 14 R, 13 ER, 9 BB, 7 K— and the win.

1934 Carl Hubbell has the most famous pitching performance in All-Star Game history. He fans Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx and Joe Cronin in a rowmdash;but the AL wins, 9-7.

1935 The Tigers hit 10 doubles, but lose to the Senators anyway, 12-11.

1935 One of the best pitching duels in minor league history: Galveston 1, Tulsa 0. Galveston pitches a perfect game and scores the only run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on an inside the park home run.

1935 Paul Hines, star from the earliest days of the NL, dies at age 80.

1935 Brooklyn’s Babe Herman becomes the first person to homer in a night game when he does it against the Reds, but Cincinnati wins, 15-2.

1936 Lou Gehrig hits his 400th home run. He’s the second man in the club, behind Babe Ruth (of course).

1936 Bobo Newsom, who never pitched a no-hitter in his career, has one of five one-hitters.

1936 Chuck Klein hits four home runs in one game.

1936 Star Yankees catcher Bill Dickey owns George Blaeholder and today hits his ninth career homer off of him. He has no more than six against any other hurler.

1943 Brooklyn protests a three-game suspension of Bobo Newsom by Leo Durocher. Arky Vaughan and Joe Medwick turn in their uniforms. The Dodgers then destroy the Pirates, 23-6. Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman has the best game of his career, going 3-for-4 with seven RBIs and a walk.

1945 Royals hitter Hal McRae is born.

1945 The All-Star Game scheduled to take place at Fenway Park is cancelled as a wartime measure.

1947 Don Black throws a no-hitter: Indians 3, A’s 0.

1948 Jackie Robinson hits his only big league inside-the-park home run.

1948 Satchel Paige records his first major league victory, after who knows how many Negro League victories.

1951 It takes long enough but the NL finally records back-to-back wins in the All-Star Game.

1953 AL outfielder Al Smith makes his big league debut.

1954 Andre Dawson, Hall of Fame outfielder and 1987 NL MVP, is born.

1954 Red Schoendienst’s longest career hitting streak ends at 28 games.

1958 Milwaukee pitcher Lew Burdette homers twice, including his only grand slam.

1958 Major league debut: Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart.

1960 Whitey Ford surrenders his only grand slam. Vic Wertz hits it.

1962 John F. Kennedy becomes the first sitting president to throw out the first pitch in an All-Star Game.

1963 Major league debut: Toy Cannon Jimmy Wynn.

1964 Jesus Alou gets six hits in one game, leading the Giants to a 10-3 win over the cubs.

1965 Joe Morgan hits two home runs in a game, something he did two days ago. He won’t do it again for more than seven years.

1965 The Phillies sell veteran slugger Frank Thomas to Houston. Just a few days earlier, Thomas got into an on-field fight versus teammate Dick Allen.

1965 Roberto Clemente sees his longest hitting streak max at 20 games. He’s 33-for-87 with six doubles, four triples, and one home run.

1966 Roger Craig pitches in his last game.

1968 AL and NL agree on next year’s expansion format.

1968 The Orioles fire manager Hank Bauer. His replacement will be Earl Weaver.

1970 In career game No. 684, Reds shortstop Woody Woodward hits home run No. 1. He’ll never get No. 2.

1971 Major league debut: Rennie Stennett.

1971 The Dodgers sign free agent Hoyt Wilhelm.

1972 Hoyt Wilhelm plays his last game.

1973 California’s Leroy Stanton gets three home runs in one game.

1974 Dave Winfield has the first of 30 multi-home run games. No. 2 will be exactly three years later.

1974 37-year-old Brooks Robinson steals two bases in one game. It’s the only time he does in his career.

1974 Major league debut: Art Howe.

1977 The Red Sox leave 20 on base in 11 innings, but win 8-5 over the Brewers.

1979 For the third consecutive time in a pinch-hit attempt, Del Unser hits a home run.

1979 Right fielder Ellis Valentine throws out Darrell Evans at first base for the rare 9-3 ground out.

1979 Star third baseman Mike Schmidt homers in his fifth straight game.

1980 Fergie Jenkins has his worst game; 0.1 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 0 K for a Game Score of 6.

1980 The Pirates sign amateur free agent Rafael Belliard.

1983 Atlanta signs amateur free agent relief pitcher Paul Assenmacher.

1985 Houston trades longtime first baseman Enos Cabell to the Dodgers.

1986 It’s one of the wildest game endings in history. The Angels and Red Sox enter the 10th inning tied 4-4, but California scores three times in the top of the 10th to seemingly ice the game. However, the Red Sox score four times in the bottom of the frame for an 8-7 win. The final run scores on the rare walk-off balk. Pitcher Todd Fischer, who is responsible for the game-ending balk, will never pitch in the majors again. Thus his game-ending balk is also a career-ending balk.

1987 Major league debut: Lance Johnson.

1988 Mike Aldrete hits the 10,000th home run in Giants franchise history.

1990 AL 2, NL 0 as six AL pitchers combine for a two-hitter at Wrigley Field.

1992 The Pirates trade veteran third baseman Steve Buechele to the Cubs for starting pitcher Danny Jackson.

1993 Cal Ripken gets his 2,000th hit. It takes him 1,887 games.

1999 Carlton Fisk’s Game Six home run ball sells for $112,273 in auction.

1999 Randy Johnson suffers through his fourth and final game in his Summer of Hell. He pitches great but loses when Arizona is shut out for the fourth consecutive time he starts. In all, the Diamondbacks got six hits in those four games. That’s a total, not an average. What did Johnson do in those games? His combined numbers: 32 IP, 19 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 10 BB, 54 K for a 1.41 ERAmdash;and an 0-4 record.

1999 Tim Raines smacks his 16th and final leadoff home run.

2002 Ted Williams’ daughter writes to President George W. Bush and Sen. John Glenn asking for their help to prevent her father from being cryogenetically frozen.

2003 Craig Biggio hits his 500th double.

2003 Slugging Greg Vaughn appears in his final game.

2007 Ichiro Suzuki hits the first ever All-Star Game inside the park home run. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on, the NL has a single, home run and three consecutive walks to put the tying run 90 feet from home plate and the winning run 180 feet. NL manger Tony LaRussa opts to not use Albert Pujols (who is available) as a pinch hitter. Instead, Aaron Rowand flies out, ending the game.

2008 Seattle releases slugging first baseman Richie Sexson.

2008 Cleveland releases former closer Joe Borowski.

2008 Steve Mingori, 1970s reliever, dies at age 64.

2008 Twins star Justin Morneau goes 5-for-5 with a game-winning homer in the 11th inning.

2009 Jonathan Sanchez throws a no-hitter. It would’ve been a perfect game but there was an error in the eighth inning. Oops.

2009 The Mets make a rather regrettable trade, sending Ryan Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur.

2010 Travis Wood of Cincinnati takes a perfect game into the ninth inning, but doesn’t even get the win. Phillies 1, Reds 0 (11). It’s one of the best pitchers duels of the year as Wood ends with a Game Score of 93 versus Roy Halladay, who posts a Game Score of 85 in it.

2010 On the anniversary of his only triple of 2009, Albert Pujols uncorks his only triple of 2010. To date, he hasn’t had another triple since then.

2012 A news story says a man finds 700 baseball cards in his grandfather’s attic. They are worth an estimated $3 million.

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2 Comments on "10th anniversary: Paul Wilson’s start from hell"

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Joe Pilla
Joe Pilla
Chris, four matters amidst this incredible list are causing my antennae to twitch: “…Wilson later tied this feat two years later…” Just what ARE the chances that one hapless pitcher could endure such a nightmare TWICE? They must be hilariously astronomical. Unless, that is, you’re going to tell us now who ELSE withstood such double humiliation… “After the game, the Giants attack their driver on the way back to the hotel, beat him up and toss him off because they think he is driving too slowly.” 1903 New York Giants!!! Slugging sociopaths or just a little irritable?!? “37-year-old Brooks Robinson… Read more »
Paul G.
Paul G.

I don’t know if the Church/Francoeur swap was really regrettable, at least not for the Mets.  Church had suffered concussions, the Mets had handled it poorly, and he was struggling.  He would be out of baseball in a couple of years.  In exchange Francoeur ended up giving them a pretty good half season, a mediocre full season, and then unloaded him for a (minor, failed) prospect.  It wasn’t a home run of a trade, but it was an infield single at least.