20th anniversary: Rockies and Marlins debut

20 years ago today, baseball entered a new era—the era of 28 teams.

1993 marked the emerged of the first round of expansion in 16 years—the longest gap between expansions in the last half-century (though soon we’ll pass it, as it’s been 15 years the Rays and D-backs first played).

On April 5, 1993, the pair of foundling teams—the Florida Marlins (as they were then known) and Colorado Rockies—each played their first game. As it happened, the games weren’t against each other. They’d have to wait a few months for that.

The Rockies got to begin life on the road, playing in Shea Stadium against the Mets. Colorado had some prominent veterans in the lineup—Eric Young, Andres Galarraga and Joe Girardi were the best-known at the time—but the day didn’t go the Rockies’ way. In the Big Apple, the Rockies managed just four hits—two by Galarraga—and no runs.

Their starting pitcher was David Nied, a man who would make just 41 starts in his career, but this one got him in the history books as the first pitcher in franchise history. He pitched decently, but with an offense unable to score it made no difference, as the Mets triumphed 3-0. The star of the day was Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden. At 28, it was his 22nd career shutout and 143rd win. Alas, his arm would soon blow out.

Things went better for the Marlins. Playing at home in Joe Robbie Stadium, their first starter was Charlie Hough, who had first been drafted when there were only 20 teams. Today Hough would face off against the team that drafted him all those years ago, the Dodgers.

Hough had a decent day, allowing just three runs in six innings. His bullpen had an even better day, shutting down the Dodgers for the last third of the game. The Marlins hitters had the best day of all. They connected for 14 hits for a 6-3 win.

Things went their way right from the very beginning. The first batter in Marlins history, Scott Pose, reached base on a Dodger error. He was unable to score, but it began a routine of Marlins base. An inning later, Walt Weiss drove in the first runs in franchise history, a two-run triple. He scored a little later on a single by Pose.

Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser was unable to retire the side in order until the fourth, by which time the Marlins already had a commanding 4-0 advantage. Not only were the Marlins able to get a runner on in six of the eight frames they batted, but they got someone into scoring position all six times. Little wonder that they won.

It was a great start for the Marlins, better than Colorado’s debut. By the end of the year Colorado would have a slight advantage, a 67-95 record versus the Marlins’ mark of 64-98. But no one expects much of new franchise teams, and that all lay in the future anyway. April 5, 1993 was just about getting things establishedOrel Hershiserand so they were, 20 years ago today.

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


1,000 days since the best pitchers’ duel of the 21st century. Reds rookie Travis Wood takes a perfect game into the ninth inning in his third big league start, and he ends up not even getting the win. He allows one hit while fanning eight in nine innings, but matching him inning for inning is Phillies starter Roy Halladay, who fans nine while allowing five hits and a walk over nine shutout innings. The Phillies win in 11 innings, 1-0. Wood’s Game Score of 93 tops Halladay’s 85.

1,000 days since Albert Pujols hits his only triple of 2010, off Orel Hershiser on the one-year anniversary of his only triple of 2009.

3,000 days since Cleveland signs what’s left of Juan Gonzalez.

4,000 days since the Angels’ all-time franchise record bottoms out at 232 games under .500 (3,150-3,382).

5,000 days since Tom Kelly manages his 2,000th game. His record: 965-1,035.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

5,000 days since B.J. Ryan makes his big league debut.

15,000 days since Hall of Famer Zack Wheat dies at age 83.

30,000 days since the Yankees’ spring training site in St. Petersburg is renamed Miller Huggins Field after the manager who died the previous year.


1876 Bill Bill Dineen, pitcher, is born. He’ll become the losing pitcher in the first World Series game. He’ll have four 20-win seasons, including a 21-21 campaign in 1902.

1877 Wid Conroy, third baseman, is born. He’ll start for various teams for 11 years in the early 20th century.

1913 It’s the first game ever at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn when the Dodgers top the Yankees 3-2 in an exhibition match. Casey Stengel beats out an inside the park home run. There is no American flag on hand, though, and at first fans couldn’t get into the bleachers because the team forgot to bring the key that opens the gate to that part of the park.

1925 Babe Ruth collapses at a railroad station in North Carolina. He’ll wind up in a New York City hospital and have to undergo an ulcer operation. He’ll be sidelined in bed until May 26.

1934 The Reds hire a new broadcaster to call their games: Red Barber.

1934 Quaker Oats hires Babe Ruth to do three 15-minute broadcasts over a week on NBC. This easy gig will pay him more money on the year than the Yankees will.

1938 Ron Hansen, a two-time All-Star infielder, is born. He’ll be the 1960 AL Rookie of the Year.

1946 The St. Louis Browns release former great Cardinals outfielder Joe Medwick.

1951 Rennie Stennett is born. As a Pirates infielder, he’s most famous for getting seven hits in a nine-inning game.

1953 Pacific Coast League outfielder Herb Gorman suffers a heart attack during a game and dies on the way to the hospital.

1965 Washington acquires slugger Roy Sievers as a free agent.

1971 Houston debuts new, largely orange, uniforms.

1971 St. Louis returns Cecil Cooper to Boston.

1972 Today is supposed to be Opening Day, but it isn’t due to the first players’ strike of the 20th century.

1972 It’s a rare thing—a four-player trade in which everyone involved went on to have long, productive careers. The Expos sent their biggest star, Le Gran Orange Rusty Staub, to the Mets for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton. As noted here, the traded didn’t work out very well for either team.

1974 Fred Snodgrass, outfielder who made a famous error in the 1912 World Series and later became one of the men interviewed for The Glory of Their Times, dies at age 86.

1974 Robin Yount, only 18 years old, makes his big league debut.

1974 On Opening Day, Nolan Ryan ties a personal high by walking 10 batters in one game. He has only one other 10-walk game in his career, and that came over 13 innings.

1974 Opening Day at Comiskey Park is marred by numerous streakers, who shed their clothing despite 37-degree weather in Chicago.

1975 The Cardinals release Claude Osteen.

1976 The White Sox release Claude Osteen.

1977 The White Sox make a big trade, sending Bucky Dent to the Yankees for Oscar Gamble, La Marr Hoyt, $200,000 and a prospect. Dent will hit one of the most famous homers in Yankee history, while Hoyt will win a Cy Young Award for the White Sox in 1983, and Gamble will lead the Sox to a surprising run at the division title in 1977.

1978 Brandon Backe is born. As an Astros pitcher, he’ll lead the NL in earned runs and home runs allowed in 2008.

1979 Boston wins its season opener, giving skipper Don Zimmer a career record of 353-352. He’ll be over .500 for the rest of his managerial career.

1979 Then-young pitcher Jesse Orosco makes his big league debut.

1981 The Pirates trade Dave Dravecky to the Padres.

1983 The Padres top the Giants 16-13 in the highest-scoring Opening Day game in decades.

1984 Jose Rijo makes his big league debut.

1985 Lastings Milledge, failed Mets prospect, is born.

1985 Ian Stewart, third baseman for Rockies and Cubs, is born.

1988 Baltimore signs free agent Mickey Tettleton.

1989 The longest hitting streak of Barry Larkin’s career peaks at 23 games.

1990 Former minor league umpire Pam Postema files a sex discrimination suit against the AL and NL in federal court.

1993 Bob Welch wins his 200th game. His career record at this moment is 200-129.

1993 The Marlins retire No. 5 for Carl Barger, the team president who died last December. (They pick five because it was the number for his favorite player, Joe DiMaggio).

1993 Dennis Martinez pitches his 11th consecutive career Quality Start, his all-time high. In that span, he’s 6-2 with a 1.58 ERA over 85.2 innings.

1995 Cleveland signs free agent Dave Winfield.

1995 Montreal trades John Wetteland to the Yankees.

1995 The Royals trade Brian McRae to the Cubs.

1997 Larry Walker belts three homers in one game for Colorado.

1997 Former Mets pitcher Sid Fernandez appears in his final game.

1998 Curt Schilling has one the best strikeout performances of his career, fanning 15 in a five-hit complete game.

1998 Eric Milton makes his big league debut with the Twins.

1999 It’s the best known one-game WPA score by a Dodgers batter, as Raul Mondesi gets a 1.055 WPA. He’s 4-for-6 with a walk, two homers, and six RBIs as the Dodgers top the Diamondbacks, 8-6.

1999 The Yankees sign free agent Wily Mo Pena.

2000 Atlanta releases veteran shortstop Ozzie Guillen.

2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki makes his North American major leagues debut.

2001 High-profile prospect Ben Sheets makes his big league debut as a pitcher for the Brewers.

2002 Barry Bonds belts the sixth of his 10 career walk-off home runs.

2003 The Mets win, giving new manager Art Howe a career record 42 games over .500 (995-953), which is his highest water mark.

2003 Greg Maddux has arguably the worst start of his career. His line: 2 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. His Game Score of eight ties his lowest ever during his Atlanta tenure.

2004 Joe Mauer makes his big league debut as Twins catcher.

2004 Ozzie Guillen manages his first game.

2005 Derek Jeter hits is his first (and still only) regular season walk-off home run. (He also has a walk-off homer in the 2001 World Series.

2006 Ivan Rodriguez has possibly the best game of his career. He enjoys his only 5-for-5 game with three doubles and a homer.

2007 Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his North American debut with the Red Sox.

2008 Walt Masterson, 1940s/50s pitcher, dies at age 87. He represented the Senators in the All-Star game in 1947 and 1948.

2009 The Mets sign free agent Gary Sheffield.

2010 Atlanta’s Jason Heyward hits a three-run homer in his first big league at-bat. It comes off Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano in a 16-5 Braves thrashing of the Cubs.

2010 Mark Buehrle makes the most amazing defensive play by a pitcher you’ll ever see..

2010 Matt Stairs sets a major league record for a position player by appearing in a game with his 12th team when he makes his Padres debut. He previously played with the Expos, Red Sox, A’s, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays and Phillies.

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1,000 days since Albert Pujols hits his only triple of 2010, off Orel Hershiser

That would have been a neat trick for Orel to pull off, given that he retired in 2000.


Yeah, I’m detecting a few excess instances of Orel Hershiser in this column. For instance: “April 5, 1993 was just about getting things establishedOrel Hershiserand so they were, 20 years ago today.”