10th anniversary of Greg Maddux’s greatest game

Ten years ago today, Greg Maddux pitched probably the greatest game of his career. He threw a complete game shutout, allowing only two hits and a walk, while striking out a very un-Maddux-ian 14 batters. I say “un-Maddux-ian” because he’s never thought of as a great strikeout pitcher.

That said, he’s tenth all-time in strikeouts. Sure, it’s largely a result of his durability and most of all the era he pitched in, but in the early-to-mid-1990s he was not only among the league leaders in strikeouts, but also the league leaders in strikeouts-per-inning pitched multiple times. That said, the 14 Ks in this game were a career high.

Let’s take a step back for a second. Who ranks tenth in career achievements in other categories?

Tenth-most wins? Tim Keefe with 342, just ahead of Steve Carlton.

Tenth-most innings? Pete Alexander with 5,190.

Looking at hitters, the tenth-most home runs belongs to Mark McGwire. Eddie Collins is 10th in hits, and Honus Wagner in steals.

Largely thanks to his gaudy strikeout total that day, Maddux also posted his best Game Score ever: 97. It came at a good time, because Atlanta’s offense gave Maddux the slimmest of all possible supports, one run. That was all he needed, though, as Maddux, of course, held the opposing Milwaukee Brewers to no runs.

As if achieving all-time one-game peaks in strikeouts and game scores en route to a 1-0 complete game shutout wasn’t enough, Maddux also banged out a hit of his own at the plate. Plus, he had a sacrifice hit. Neither his hit nor his SH led to Atlanta’s only run (that was courtesy of a B. J. Surhoff solo shot in the second inning), but it was an overall fantastic day for Maddux.

He got better as he went along, retired the last 13 batters of the game, eight of whom Maddux fanned, including six in a row at one point.

Bizarre fact: Maddux walked the game’s leadoff hitter. Not only was that the only walk (and one of only three baserunners) he allowed all day, but Maddux rarely ever walked the leadoff batter. He did that in only 14 of his 740 starts, just once ever 53 starts. He’d only done it once in the previous seven seasons (though, to be fair, it was the year before).

To put it in perspective, if Maddux’s overall control was as good as it was versus the leadoff batter, he’d have fewer than 400 walks in his career. As it was, despite great control, he walked over twice that: 999 in all. Yet here he walked the first batter on only five pitches.

Oh, and the batter he walked? Caught stealing second immediately afterwards. On the day, only one Brewer made it to second, and none went farther.

Another random fact: this was Maddux’s 100th complete game. Since then, only one other pitcher, Randy Johnson, has joined the club. Barring a major change in how pitchers are used, there may not be any more.

That’s one nice event celebrating a nice round anniversary. But plenty of other baseball related events mark their anniversary and “day-versaries” as well. Since I’m the only person that calculates day-versaries (x-thousand number of days since something happened), we’ll start with those:

I’ll put the better ones in bold if you just want to skim this.


3,000 days since the Mets signed David Cone

Learning to Appreciate Isaías Látigo Chávez
A rival pitcher's great game holds a profound lesson for a young boy.

4,000 days since Jason Kendall hit for the cycle

4,000 days since the Mariners signed Rickey Henderson

8,000 days since Tom Glavine tossed a complete-game shutout despite fanning no batters. It’s only happened seven times since then, most recently in 2002 to Scott Erickson.

9,000 days since Eric Davis hit three homers in one game

9,000 days since the Detroit Tigers swatted four homers in the sixth inning

15,000 days since the first Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers

15,000 days since MLB debut of Larry Bowa

30,000 days since Sherry Magee, terrific Deadball slugger, died. He was only age 44.


1876 Ross Barnes hits the first home run in NL history

1881 MLB debut: Jerry Denny, who will later become the last person to field his position without a glove

1881 MLB debut: Jim Whitney, a very good pitcher with rather dismal teammates

1882 the American Association debuts. Not to be confused with the modern minor league, it was a rival to the NL. It’s the first time there have been two rival major leagues.

1882 MLB debut: Hall of Famers Bid McPhee, Charlie Comiskey, and John Clarkson. Also debuting that day is the original Louisville Slugger, Pete Browning

1887 Eddie Collins, arguably the greatest second baseman of all-time, born

1887 MLB debut: Gus Weyhing, a 200-game winner who is still No. 1 all-time with 277 hit batsmen

1901 Cubs purchase Rube Waddell from the Pirates. Doesn’t take.

1901 First AL forfeit: White Sox lose when manager Clark Griffith has his team stall, hoping nightfall will scrub the game from the books.

1901 Red Sox have nine-run second inning and 10-run third inning in 23-12 win

1909 Honus Wagner steals second, third, and home in the first inning versus the Cubs. It’s the fourth time in his career he’s stolen his way around the bases, something only Ty Cobb can claim

1917 The “double-no-hitter.” In arguably the greatest pitchers duel of all-time, Cincinnati’s Fred Toney and Chicago’s Hippo Vaughn hold the opposing squads scoreless through nine innings. The Reds touch Vaughn for two hits and a run in the tenth, which is why I had to put quotation marks around “double no-hitter.”

1920 Eddie Collins’ 2,000th hit. It took him 1,727 games.

1920 First game in the Negro National League played

1921 High Pockets Kelly of the Giants raps out his seventh home run of the year. He won’t keep up the pace, but please note that Babe Ruth hit “only” his sixth homer on the year this same day. Ruth will end the season with 59 homers, while Kelly will lead the NL with 23.

1923 Dazzy Vance fans 15 men in 10 innings but loses, as he also allows 15 hits, four walks, and six runs (all earned). That said, the entire NL averages 2.8 strikeouts per nine innings that year, so Vance was pretty impressive that day.

1923 A notable Senators-Yankees game. First, New York infielder Everett Scott plays his 1,000th consecutive game that day, the first person ever to do so. Second, Walter Johnson threw his 100th complete game shutout that day, and he’s still the only person to do so.

1924 Hall of Fame pitcher Herb Pennock records the only stolen base of his career.

1938 A changing of the guard in New York: Joe DiMaggio given the cleanup slot while Lou Gehrig dropped to sixth in the order

1939 Lou Gehrig rests, ending his streak and with it his career. He walks out to give the umpire the day’s starting lineup for the Yanks, and when the crowd realized he wasn’t going to play, they gave him a standing ovation, which was fairly rare back then. Mind you, this was on the road, too.

1939 Gates Brown, pinch hitter extraordinaire, born

1943 Schoolboy Rowe, pitcher for the Phillies, hits pinch-hit grand slam. Phillies win 6-5 in 12 innings.

1944 Phillies pitcher Charley Schanz has a great day all around. He takes a no-hitter into the seventh. A home run with a man on ends it, and gives the opposing New York Giants the lead. No problem. Schanz hit a bases-loaded triple later, so he and the Phillies won the game.

1944 Ted Williams commissioned as a Second Lt. in the Marine Air Corps and given his wings.

1947 Bob Feller throws his third consecutive complete game shutout. It’s also a one-hitter, his tenth such performance. In those three games, his overall line: 27 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 12 BB, 27 K. Yes, only five hits: a one-hitter, a three-hitter, and then another one-hitter. Not bad.

1948 Duke Snider hits his first career home run, which happens to be an inside-the-park version. He later hits one over the fence that game, making this the first of 34 career multi-home run games.

1949 Don Newcombe’s first start is a complete-game shutout

1952 Ted Williams reports for duty at Camp Willow Grove, PA, for active duty as a marine fighter pilot

1953 Carlos Bernier, Pirates, triples in three straight at-bats. In 11 at-bats, he’ll tally four triples, two doubles, and two singles.

1954 Keith Moreland, current Cub radio color guy, born

1954 Stan Musial has a performance for the ages. He hits three home runs in the first game of a doubleheader, and then two more in the nightcap. Five homers in a day is a record shared with others. In the first game, he also singled, giving him a career-high 13 total bases in one game.

1956 Giants 6, Cubs 5 (17) in record-setting game. The teams combine to use 48 players (25 Giants, 23 Cubs), a record. There are 11 intentional walks, a record. And Cub batter Don Hoak fans six times, also a record. Added bonus: Each time it was against a different pitcher.

1957 Hank Aaron ties personal record with five hits in one game.

1957 Robin Roberts fans 13 batters, his personal best. 9 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K. Phillies beat Cubs, 4-2.

1957 WPA’s least favorite Roy Campanella game: -0.617 WPA. He was 0-for-7 with a K and GIDP as St. Louis topped Brooklyn 3-2 in 16 innings. It’s the third-worst one-game WPA by any Hall of Fame batter.

1959 Frank Robinson hits for the cycle as Reds demolish LA, 16-4

1959 Harmon Killebrew hits two homers in a game for the second day in a row. He’ll do it again exactly one week later, too.

1959 The last time a Phillies’ reliever pitched nine innings in a game: Gene Conley: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K.

1960 Hank Aaron hits bunt single off Mike McCormick in the second inning, raising his career batting average to its all-time peak: .324203 (1,160 hits in 3,578 at bats).

1960 Willie Mays’ best hitting streak maxes at 23 games

1963 Indians trade Jim Perry to Twins

1964 Twins hit four homers in the eleventh inning—all in a row, too.

1967 The only time the defense pulls off a triple play behind Gaylord Perry. Ken Boyer of the Mets hit into it in the second inning

1968 White Sox release Ken Boyer. Boy, May 2nd just wasn’t his day

1968 Gaylord Perry pitches his 17th straight Quality Start. Boy, May 2nd just was his day. His line in that stretch: 9-5 record, 150.2 IP, 98 H, 24 R, 21 ER, 45 BB, 115 K, 1.25 ERA.

1969 Al Lopez resigns as White Sox manager due to health reasons. He’ll live until 2005.

1972 Vida Blue ends his holdout from the A’s, signing for $63,000.

1975 Cubs trade Burt Hooten to the Dodgers

1976 Dan Bankhead, MLB’s first black pitcher, dies

1976 Jose Cardenal gets six hits in a 14-inning game for the Cubs

1984 LaMarr Hoyt faces the minimum 27 batters in complete-game shutout. It’s a one-hitter where Don Mattingly hit a blooper in the seventh, only to be erased by a double play.

1987 Thanks to collusion, this is the first game Tim Raines plays all year. He goes 4-for-4 with a triple, home run, three runs scored, four RBI, a walk, and a stolen base. Expos 11, Mets 7 (11).

1988 MLB debut: Mark Grace

1989 Having pitched exactly 2,101 innings, Bob Welch surrender his first grand slam

1989 Orel Hershiser tosses his 15th straight regular-season Quality Start. His numbers in those start: 11-3, 9 CG, 7 SHO, 127.2 IP, 15 R, 12 ER, 27 BB, 92 K, 0.85 ERA.

1992 Scott Sanderson becomes the 12th pitcher to allow four home runs in one inning.

1995 Red Sox get grand slams in consecutive innings by John Valentin and Mo Vaughn. That’s it in 8-0 win over Yankees

1995 MLB debut: Hideo Nomo

1995 Roberto Alomar hits his only walk-off home run

1995 Royals retire Frank White’s number

1996 Quake of 4.8 on the Richter scale halts Mariners-Indians game in Cleveland. Resumes the next night.

1997 Randy Johnson wins his 16th straight game. His numbers: 177 IP, 118 H, 50 R, 48 ER, 63 BB, 234 K, and 2.44 ERA

1998 Jeff Kent hits his last SH. He has 6,433 more PA in his career

1999 Rafael Palmeiro’s 2,000th hit

2000 Kerry Wood pitches in his first game since elbow surgery. He allows only one run in six innings, and helps his own cause with a home run

2000 Gary Sheffield hits three GIDP in one game

2002 Mike Cameron hits four home runs against White Sox. He and Bret Boone both bash two homers apiece in the first inning. They’re both back-to-back homers, too. All Cameron’s home runs came in his first four times to the plate. In his fifth time up, he had a 3-0 count, but didn’t swing on the next pitch. He didn’t want to press himself, just take it nice and normally.

2002 Sammy Sosa homers twice in a game for the second straight day

2003 Mo Vaughn plays his last game

2005 Giants all-time record peaks at 1,504 games over .500 (9,976-8.472). That’s still their best. Even with last year’s championship, they’ve been a tad under .500 since then.

2005 Cardinals 10, Reds 9. Cards score seven runs in top of the ninth in huge comeback. The key moments were a three-run dinger by Jim Edmonds and a two-run home run by John Mabry.

2006 MLB debut: Andre Either

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Marc Schneider
Marc Schneider

The really amazing thing is he struck out 14 and only threw 109 pitches in 9 innings.  How do you do that?

As good as guys like Clemens and Pedro Martinez were, at his best, Maddux could carve up lineups like no one I’ve ever seen.

Braves Fan
Braves Fan

Maddux was definitely a very efficient pitcher. These days, I think only Halladay can rival that efficiency. Speaking of which, I think Halladay has good shot at reaching that 100 CG milestone.

Scott M
Scott M

Ah, yes.  The good ole days of BJ Surhoff batting clean up and Rico Brogna at first base.  Heady days for us Braves fans.