15,000 days since a rare Marichal feat

15,000 days ago, Giants ace Juan Marichal achieved a notable milestone, winning his 200th game.

Many pitchers have won 200 games, including Tim Wakefield earlier this month, but Marichal’s 200th win was a bit more interesting than most. His record was rather unusual for a 200-game winner.

You see, Marichal claimed his 200th win before losing his 100th decision. It makes him part of the answer to a great trivia question to stump (and annoy) your friends with: Who are the only four pitchers since 1920 to win 200 games before losing 100? Answers: Marichal, Lefty Grove, Whitey Ford, and Pedro Martinez.

If they’re a baseball fan who knows their history, they can likely name the other three, but I doubt anyone other than the hardiest of Giants fans will peg Marichal as the fourth one. Just look at their career winning percentages for a second. Ford ended his days with a .690 winning percentage, the best of anyone since 1900 with 160 decisions. Right behind him are Martinez (.687) and Grove (.680).

Marichal? His career came to an end with a .631 winning percentage, not even in the top 30 for 20th century pitchers with 160 or more decisions.

On Aug. 28, 1971, Marichal defeated the Pirates 5-1 to give him a record of 200-97, a .673 winning percentage. Then he won three of his remaining four decisions that season, improving to 203-98 (.674) for his career. He kept it up in early 1971, ending May with an 8-2 record and 1.94 ERA. That gave him a career mark of 211-100 (.678). He was still on the Grove-Ford-Martinez track.

Then he got old—quick.

The rest of his career, Marichal was 32-42. That took him of the Ford path.

To be fair, he was a better pitcher than his winning percentage indicates. He just didn’t get the support of his teammates.

Aye, but there lies the rub. While great in his prime, Marichal wasn’t quite as great as his winning percentage indicated. Years ago when I first discovered Retrosheet, I spent far too long figuring out run support for all the prominent pitchers I could. Among other things, I learned that Marichal received the best run support of any Hall of Fame pitcher since Al Spalding.

Adjusted for park and era, Marichal’s run support was about 20 percent above average. Usually, a guy 10 percent above average has outstanding run support. That’s what Catfish Hunter had. Jim Palmer, with all those great Orioles teams, was around “only” seven percent.

It gets a little weirder when you compare him to his teammates. For many years, fellow Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry pitched alongside Marichal in the rotation. Yet when Perry pitched, the Giants didn’t hit that well. In his years in the Bay Area, Perry had slightly below-average run support, while those very same hitters cleared the road for Marichal.

It’s funny, if Perry received Marichal’s run support, he might’ve won 15-20 more games and be considered the greatest pitcher of his generation. If Marichal received Perry’s run support, he’d lose those wins and might not make it into Cooperstown.

If, shmiff—it didn’t happen. Instead, Marichal got the great run support that combined with his magnificent pitching to make him one of only four men to win 200 before losing 100 games, exactly 15,000 days ago.

Aside from that, many other events celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.

May I Have Your Autograph, Please?
The payoff of being polite.


1,000 days since the Giants sign free agent Randy Johnson.

3,000 days since Lou Piniella comes to the ballpark as a blonde, as he said he’d dye his hair if Tampa won three games in a row, which they just did. In today’s game, Carlos Reyes sets a Tampa Bay team record (since tied) with a seven-inning relief outing.

7,000 days since Carlton Fisk, age 44, belts his last triple. Only Nick Altrock, Julio Franco, and Pete Rose have done it at an older age (since 1920, anyway).

7,000 days since a federal judge rules that Fay Vincent exceeded his authority with a realignment plan. The Cubs brought the suit against him.

7,000 days since Kevin Appier pitches 10 innings for the Royals, the last time any of their pitchers did that.

9,000 days since Whitey Herzog manages his 2,000th game. His record: 1,085-914.

10,000 days since Cal Ripken hits for the cycle.

15,000 days since Denny McLain dumps water buckets on two Detroit writers. He’ll later claim it was a joke.

15,000 days since Tony Horton plays his last game. Though young and talented, he’s deeply troubled and will later enter a mental hospital for depression. He’ll find life more fulfilling outside of baseball. (He had one of those nightmare parents associated with tennis that constantly drove Tony into sports, and the pressure wore him down).


1889 Hooks Dauss, pitcher (what else would he be with a nickname like “Hooks”?), is born.

1890 Urban Shocker, great pitcher and an even greater name, is born.

1895 Austin McHenry, very talented player who will die extremely young, is born.

1897 Jim O’Rourke, at age 54, makes a stunt appearance, catching a game. He’s the oldest person ever to catch a big league game.

1911 Cy Young tosses a complete-game shutout for his 511th and final victory. He leads Boston to a 1-0 win over Babe Adams and the Pirates.

1912 Eddie Collins, who stole a half-dozen bases in a game just 11 days ago, does it again today. This not only ties his own personal record, but the major league record. In one inning, he steals second, third, and home.

1914 Ray Collins of the Red Sox tosses two complete-game victories in one day over the Tigers.

1916 Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Tinker plays in his final game.

1920 Bob Lemon, Hall of Fame starting pitcher, is born.

1920 Cook County grand jury hearings on gambling in baseball begins.

1922 Speedy outfielder Clyde Milan plays in his last game.

1924 “Mechanical Man” Charlie Gehringer makes his big league debut.

1924 The aging Walter Johnson wins his 13th straight decision. His numbers in that span: 13-0, 17 G, 17 GS, 9 CG, 124 IP, 105 H, 43 R, 37 ER, 30 BB, 64 K, and a 2.69 ERA. He’ll lose his next start, which will be his final one of the year (well, not including the World Series).

1925 Ben Paschal, Yankee, hits two inside-the-park home runs in one game.

1925 Burleigh Grimes, Hall of Fame pitcher, has a rough day as a hitter. He grounds into two double plays and hits into a triple play, as he and the Dodgers lose 3-2 in 12 innings to the Cubs.

1927 Babe Ruth belts the eighth of his career 12 walk-off home runs. It’s also his 56th home run of the year. Overshadowed on the day, Yankee centerfielder Earle Combs hits three consecutive triples in the same game.

1927 Baby Doll Jacobson, part of a terrific Senators outfield earlier in the decade, plays in his final game.

1927 Tommy Lasorda is born.

1927 Walter Johnson starts his final game. In his last at-bat on the day, he homers off Sad Sam Jones. (It’s not his final career appearance—he’ll come in as a pinch hitter in the same game in which Babe Ruth hits his 60th home run later this month).

1929 Ice Box Chamberlain, 19th century pitcher, dies.

1930 Cy Williams, the second batter to hit 200 homers (stump your friends with that trivia question), plays in his final game.

1930 George Sisler, Hall of Fame first baseman, plays in his last big league game.

1931 Paul Waner walks five times in one game. He also goes 2-for-2 as his Pirates top the Phillies, 3-2, in 13 innings.

1932 Burleigh Grimes loses his 200th decision, giving him a career record of 263-200. He’ll be 7-12 for the rest of his career.

1935 Workhorse pitcher Bobo Newsom has probably his best day ever at the plate: 3-for-4 with a double and a triple. He scores twice and drives in three. He also steals a base, the only one of his career.

1936 George Uhle, workhorse who blew his arm out young, plays his final game.

1936 Bill Terry, Hall of Fame first baseman, plays in his last game. Check that—aside from the World Series, he plays in his final game today.

1936 It’s the most lopsided doubleheader double shutout ever, as the Tigers destroy the Browns, 14-0 and 12-0.

1938 Cub pitcher Bill Lee wins his fourth consecutive complete-game shutout.

1939 Ernie Lombardi belts his 100th career home run.

1940 Slap hitter Elmer Valo makes his big league debut.

1942 It’s the only known time Arky Vaughan ever plays second base.

1942 Stan Musial launches the first of nine career grand slams.

1943 Jimmy Dykes manages his 200th game against Connie Mack. Later, Dykes will be the man to replace Mack as A’s manager.

1946 Larry Dierker is born.

1946 Yogi Berra makes his big league debut and hits his first home run.

1947 The Cubs release pitcher Claude Passeau.

1947 Stan Musial ties a Ty Cobb record by getting his fifth five-hit game of the season.

1948 Arky Vaughan, one of the greatest shortstops of all-time, plays his final game.

1949 For the only time in his big league career, Jackie Robinson scores four runs in one game.

1949 Dixie Walker plays in his final game.

1951 Toothpick Sam Jones, pitcher, makes his big league debut.

1954 Jackie Robinson walks four times in one game for the only time. It’s also his only known time playing shortstop.

1954 Karl Spooner makes his big league debut. You’ve never heard of him, but at the time he looked like he would be an all-time great, as he fans 15 in a 3-0 win. That set a record for a pitcher making his debut. He’ll toss another shutout in his second start, but next year plays only once before June. He does okay, but never pitches again in the majors after 1955.

1956 Jesse Tannehill, talented turn-of-the-century pitcher, dies.

1956 Ted Williams experiences his worst known game according to WPA. He goes 0-for-4 with a walk and a K for a –0.371 WPA. The Yankees top the Red Sox, 2-1.

1958 After striking out, an enraged Ted Williams tosses his bat—and it hits 60-year-old Gladys Heffernan in the face. Incredibly, she’s the housekeeper for Joe Cronin, the Boston GM.

1959 Tommy Davis makes his big league debut.

1959 St. Louis uses nine pinch hitters in one game, but loses, 11-10, to LA.

1959 Wally Backman is born.

1961 Jim Gentile conks his fifth slam of the year, tying Ernie Banks’ single-season record.

1961 Vince Coleman is born.

1962 Ed Kranepool makes his big league debut. He’ll spend an eternity as a Met and still holds many team records.

1963 Joe Morgan, just barely passed his 20th birthday, gets his first big league hit, a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 Houston win over the Phillies. Enraged, Philadelphia manager Gene Mauch goes to the post-game buffet and tosses it to the floor, handful by handful.

1963 Willie McCovey belts three home runs in one game, and for the only time in his career scores four runs.

1964 Harvey Kuenn gets his 2,000th hit in his 1,657 game.

1965 On his 18th birthday, Larry Dierker makes his big league debut.

1966 Yankee Stadium records its all-time low attendance: 413 fans. Long-time announcer Red Barber has the camera pan the empty stands to reflect on the fallen dynasty, despite team orders not to show the seats at all, not even to follow foul balls. The Yankees will fire Barber for this.

1967 Frank Robinson gets his 2,000th his in his 1,783rd game played.

1967 Mickey Lolich tosses his third consecutive complete game shutout. His numbers in that span: 27 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 7 BB, 24 K.

1968 Baltimore signs amateur free agent Enos Cabell.

1968 Cesar Tovar becomes the second player in baseball history (after Bert Campaneris) to play every position in one game.

1969 Willie Mays crunches his 600th home run.

1970 Earl Wilson plays his last big league game.

1970 Mike Matheny is born.

1970 The Yankees release Bobby Cox.

1971 Sabermetric darling Bobby Grich hits his first home run.

1972 Don Sutton enjoys the best Game Score of his career: 98. His line: 11 IP (tying a career high), 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, and 11 K in a complete-game, 1-0 win. This is also his 100th victory, giving him a career record of 100-94 (.515). For the rest of his career, he’ll be 224-162 (.580).

Today’s game ends on a rare walk-off HBP when San Francisco’s Jim Willoughby plunks Wes Parker in the bottom of the 11th. Oh, and if enough didn’t happen in this game, Davey Lopes makes his big league debut. There’s a lot of game in that game.

1972 Bert Blyleven wins his fourth 1-0 complete game shutout. He’ll have 15, the most by any pitcher since Walter Johnson. This one is a Twins victory over the Angels.

1973 Al Bumbry legs out three triples in one game for the Orioles.

1974 St. Louis retires Dizzy Dean’s number.

1975 Frank Tanana has perhaps his greatest game ever: 13 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 13 K. He gets a no-decision, but also a Game Score of 105 and a WPA of 1.145.

1977 Bert Blyleven tosses his only career no-hitter after previously hurling four one-hitters. The Rangers top the Angels 6-0 and Blyleven fans seven and walks one.

1978 The Braves sell Cito Gaston to the Pirates.

1978 Dave Stewart makes his big league debut.

1978 Pedro Guerrero makes his big league debut.

1979 Mike Schmidt has his last career sacrifice hit. He’ll never do it again in his remaining 5,591 PA.

1979 The Padres steal six bases against Charlie Hough in 5.1 IP.

1980 A three-man arbitration panel overturns Bowie Kuhn’s suspension of Fergie Jenkins.

1980 Lou Whitaker plays in his 142nd game without a home run. He has batted .236/.336/.281 in that span. He’ll go deep in his next game.

1986 Tony Perez gets his 500th career double.

1986 The smallest crowd of any baseball game this year (2,419) see a doozy of a contest. The Braves rally back from deficits of 3-0, 5-3, 7-5, and 8-7 to defeat the Padres 9-8 on a walk-off win. They tied the game four times (at 3-3, 5-5, 7-7, and 8-8) before finally taking the lead.

1986 Wally Backman celebrates his 27th birthday by bashing his only home run of the year.

1987 Los Angeles trades Juan Guzman to the Blue Jays.

1990 Andre Dawson steals his 300th base, joining the 300-300 club.

1991 Mike Mussina has a strange day . In the bottom of the fourth, he balks—the only time he’ll ever do that in his career. Five innings later he surrenders a walk-off single to Carlos Baerga for a 2-1 Indians win over Baltimore. This is the only walk-off hit Mussina will ever surrender.

1992 Aurelio Lopez, reliever in the 1970s and 1980s, dies.

1992 Randy Johnson surrenders the only inside-the-park home run of his career. Brian McRae hits it.

1993 Nolan Ryan makes his final appearance in a professional game. He faces three batters before hurting his elbow in a Rangers-Mariners game.

1995 Tim Wallach gets his 2,000th hit in his 2,103rd game.

1996 Robby Thompson plays in his final game.

1996 For the only time in his career, Vladimir Guerrero plays the entire day in center field.

1998 After a surprisingly long career, Danny Darwin appears in his last major league game.

1998 Mike Lansing of the Rockies belts three home runs in one game.

1999 Roberto Alomar connects for his 2,000th hit in his 1,714th game played.

1999 The Diamondbacks all-time cumulative franchise record hits .500 (157-157). They’ll stay over it for six years and then yo-yo around .500 for another four seasons.

2004 Raul Ibanez becomes the first Mariner ever to get six hits in a game. Mariners, 16, Angels 6.

2007 John Smoltz pulls off his first successful pickoff since June 13, 1999.

2007 Mike Lieberthal plays in his final big league game.

2007 Woody Williams plays in his final big league game.

2011 For his 84th birthday, the Dodger have franchise icon Tommy Lasorda coach one game for them.

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