25th anniversary: three-run walk-off error

25 years ago, a team suffered one of the hardest, roughest and worst losses in an otherwise meaningless regular season game. I guess you could flip it around and say a team won a game in an amazing and tremendous manner, but that wouldn’t be appropriate. This was a game decided not because the winning team made a brilliant play, but because the losing team completely screwed up. That’s why it’s such a horrible loss instead of a wonderful win.

It was June 4, 1988 when the Baltimore Orioles hosted the New York Yankees in Memorial Stadium.

The early going was fairly typical. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the first, but Baltimore soon fought back to a 3-1 advantage. That’s how it stood for several innings, until the Yankees scored once in the seventh to make it close, and again in the ninth to tie it up, 3-3. Extra innings beckoned.

In the 10th inning, it looked like the Yankees put it away when Jack Clark smacked a solo home run for a 4-3 lead. However, the Orioles fought back with a single, walk and double to score a run and tie it at four even. The game soldiered on.

Both teams had scoring chances, especially the Orioles. While they tied it in the 10th, they left the game-winning run on third. They also left a runner on third in the 11th and 12th, which the Baltimore fans must’ve found maddening.

Eventually, someone was going to break through—and it turned out to be the Yankees in the top of he 14th. They led off the inning with three singles and a walk to give them a commanding 6-4 lead. It could’ve been even more, but infielder Bob Meacham grounded into a double play, ending the inning. Now all the Yankees had to do was prevent the Orioles from scoring at least two runs before they made three outs. That shouldn’t be too difficult, given that the Orioles had scored just one run in their last 30 outs.

But the Yankees would botch things up but good in the bottom of the 14th.

First Rick Schu hit a routine grounder to third. Unfortunately for New York, third baseman Mike Pagliarulo couldn’t wrangle it, and Schu was safe at first on the error. That’s not the way you want to start the inning.

Making it even worse, up next infielder Rene Gonzalez singled, putting the tying runner on. Yankees reliever Hipolito Pena walked Billy Ripken, the potential winning run. None of this was going according to Yankee hopes. But Pena bore down, and with the bases loaded and none out, took just seven pitches to strike out the next two Baltimore players.

Now things looked great for the Yankees. WPA gave them an 83 percent chance to win. There was one downside, though—coming up next was the hitter New York least wanted to see at the plate, star shortstop Cal Ripken.

He worked the count, fouling a few off, and taking others for balls, to make it a full count. Now the runners would be going and a seeing-eye grounder could tie the game by driving in a pair of runs. A hard-hit ball to the gap could clear the bases and win it for Baltimore. There must have been a tension and energy among the remnants of the 36,000 fans who had stuck through the nearly six hours of game.

How disappointed they must’ve felt on the next pitch. Ripken swung and connected—but he hit an easy grounder to Pagliarulo at third. Ohhhh, rats. That should end the game with a Yankees victory.

But this just wasn’t Pagliarulo’s inning. He’d already muffed a grounder, and now he badly blew a throw. Instead of throwing the runner out, he threw it away. Into the outfield the ball went. The first run scored easily, and the second guy came around without any problem. Again, it helps that runners were going with the bases loaded.

But guess what? Since runners were going and the throw was that bad, even Billy Ripken managed to dash all the way home. When Ripken hit it to Pagliarulo, it looked like it would end the game, and sure enough that was the case. But it was a game-ending walk-off three-run error for a 7-6 Orioles win.

A three-run walk-off error is a rare thing. It happens less than once a decade. But it happened here—in the 14th inning no less—25 years ago today.

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 the Mitchell Report is released, naming 89 players as using or having performance enhancing drugs.

4,000 days since Darryl Kile shockingly and tragically dies. Today’s Cubs-Cardinals game is suspended as a result.

4,000 days since Luis Castillo’s 35 game hitting streak ends, but at least his Marlins teammates win the game, scoring four in the ninth for a 5-4 win over Detroit.

4,000 days since Jake Peavy makes his big league debut.

4,000 days since former reliever Ron Kline dies.

5,000 days since Rickey Henderson has his worst one-game WPA score: -0.571. He is 1-for-5 with a K and a GIDP as his Mets lose 3-2 to the Phillies.

20,000 days since the last time all baseball clubs play a doubleheader. It’s Labor Day, 1958.

20,000 days since Vinegar Bend Mizell walks nine batters in a complete game shutout.

30,000 days since 200-game winner Paul Derringer makes his big league debut.

At some point today it’ll be 1,000,000,000 seconds since NBC’s Buffalo affiliate makes a horrible decision. On NBC’s Game of the Week, Nolan Ryan is one out from completing his fifth no-hitter, when the station shifts to Life Aboard an Aircraft Carrier.


1880 A 16-inning marathon sets a new record for longest game ever. It ends in a 1-1 tie with pitchers John Ward and Larry Corcoran both going the distance.

1885 Baltimore pitcher Hardie Henderson goes 5-for-5 while leading his team to a 12-1 win over the Reds.

1886 Tony Mullane throws a shutout for seven innings, but then completely falls apart, losing 12-7.

1889 Hall of Famer John Clarkson becomes the first pitcher to strike out the side on nine pitches.

1890 Tim Keefe becomes the second man to win 300 games. Only Pud Galvin predates him in the club.

1894 Orioles batter Heinie Reitz hits three triples in one game, two of which come with the bases loaded.

1901 Jimmy Sheckard cusses out an umpire and spits in his face. The cops are called, and he’s removed by the police.

1904 Minor league team Toledo twice hits into a triple play in one game.

1904 Star Giants pitcher Iron Man Joe McGinnity goes for his 14th straight win before a record crowd of 37,223. It ends in a 2-2 tie after 11 innings instead.

1904 The White Sox fire manager Nixey Callahan and replace him with Fielder Jones, who will be one of the most successful managers of the day.

1906 It may not fit his image, but star Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson has an on-field temper tantrum and umpire Bill Klem ejects him. It happens after Mathewson allows four first-inning runs.

1908 Fred Snodgrass makes his big league debut. He’s a defensive star center fielder who, oddly enough, is most famous for making an error in the 1912 World Series.

1910 For the first and only time, Walter Johnson and Cy Young square off against each other in a start. Johnson’s Senators top Young’s Indians, 3-2.

1915 Ty Cobb has a lot of steals of home in his career, but this is the only one that takes place in the ninth inning.

1916 In the Pacific Coast League, Oakland tops San Francisco 1-0 in an 18-inning marathon.

1925 Star outfielder Kiki Cuyler hits for the cycle.

1925 Cleveland’s Harvey Hendrick hits a walk-off bases-loaded triple for an 11-10 win over the Browns.

1929 One-time Red Sox owner Henry Frazee, the man who sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, dies. He isn’t penniless, as will be falsely reported later.

1929 The Yankees score six times in the ninth to squeak by the Browns, 9-8.

1930 The Dodgers make eight errors in one game. That’s pretty bad, especially given that they began the day in first place.

1932 Bill Terry manages his first game for the Giants. The John McGraw era now truly is over.

1933 The New York Giants’ all-time cumulative franchise record hits 1,000 games over .500 (4,088-3,088). It’s always been over that mark ever since.

1935 The Cardinals nearly have a big fight between teammates. Star pitcher Dizzy Dean screams at his teammates in the dugout over poor fielding, and Rip Collins and Joe Medwick don’t take kindly to that.

1936 Hall of Fame skipper Bill McKechnie manages his 2,000th game. His record is 1,023-961.

1936 Mickey Cochrane hits one of the rarest sort of home runs, the inside-the-park grand slam. It’s his fourth inside-the-park home run and his first in nine years.

1938 In the Mexican League, Negro League Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo fans 22, a record in that league.

1940 It’s the first night game in Forbes Field, and the home team Pirates top Boston, 14-2.

1940 The Cardinals play their first night game at home in Sportsman’s Park. They lose 10-1 to the Dodgers.

1940 The Boston Braves sign a young pitcher named Warren Spahn. This will work out well for them.

1942 The Western Association bans Muskogee outfielder Allen McElreath for trying to get his teammates to throw a game.

1943 Mort Cooper tosses the second of back-to-back one-hitters.

1943 Here’s a rare one: a base runner scores from first on a passed ball. Vince DiMaggio makes the 270-foot sprint when catcher Ernie Lombardi gets up slowly and the pitcher forgets to cover home plate.

1944 Playing for the Army, Joe DiMaggio launches a home run that reputedly travels 435 feet in a 6-2 loss against the Navy.

1947 Legendary pitcher Bob Feller enjoys his best game ever at the plate. He’s 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and scores three runs. Normally he’s not much of a hitter, and in fact is among the all-time leaders for strikeouts at the plate for a pitcher.

1947 Dodgers star Pete Reiser crashes into the wall at Ebbets Field while trying to catch a ball. He cracks his skull and dislocates both shoulders. He’s so bad off that a priest delivers the last rites to him. He recovers, though. Oh, and he held on to the ball.

1950 The Kansas City Monarchs debut new young infielder Ernie Banks.

1950 The ninth longest hitting streak in minor league history ends when Herb Chapman goes hitless after 42 straight games reaching safely.

1951 After losing 11 straight and 30 out of 36 to Yankees hurler Eddie Lopat, the Indians hold “Beat Eddie Lopat Night” at Veterans Stadium. There are 15,000 rabbit’s feet handed out and Cleveland does, in fact, beat Lopat and the Yankees, 8-2. In that game, rookie Mickey Mantle suffers through his seventh consecutive game without a hit, something he never goes through again. He’s 0-for-21 with no walks and seven whiffs.

1951 Gus Bell hits for the cycle.

1952 Cubs pitcher Bob Rush sees his scoreless-inning streak end at 32 innings.

1952 Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Doby hits for the cycle.

1953 The Pirates send star left fielder Ralph Kiner and three other players to the Cubs for $150,000 and a half-dozen players.

1953 Philllies pitcher Curt Simmons cuts off part of his left big toe with a power lawn mower. He’ll miss a month but still win 16 games on the year.

1954 In the Arizona-Texas League, Moises Camacho has a game for the ages, going 7-for-7 with three homers, a triple, a double, five runs, and 13 RBIs in 28-5 Mexicali triumph over Cananea.

1956 Padres catcher Terry Kennedy is born.

1957 Hall of Fame third baseman George Kell gets his 2,000th hit. It comes exactly seven years after his 1,000th hit.

1957 Yankees super scout Paul Krichell dies at age 74. He signed Lou Gehrig, Charlie Keller, Tony Lazzeri, Red Rolfe, Phil Rizzuto, Vic Raschi and Mark Koenig.

1957 Star catcher Tony Pena is born.

1958 The White Sox pitching staff’s team-wide scoreless streak ends at 32 innings. It ends in spectacular fashion when Mickey Mantle hits a 478-foot home run to the 19th row of the left-center bleachers against Billy Pierce in Yankee Stadium. It travels 478 feet into the 19th row of the bleachers in left-center.

1958 Warren Spahn is one of the best hitting pitcher in baseball, and he proves it when he gets a chance to pinch-hit in the clutch and drives home the winning run with an 11th-inning single for the Braves. They top the Giants, 10-9.

1959 Whitey Ford sets a personal best batting with six total bases and two extra base hits, a double and a home run.

1959 The White Sox top the Orioles 4-2 in 17 innings on a two-out homer by Earl Torgeson.

1961 The Reds sign amateur free agent Lee May.

1961 Starting pitcher Ned Garver appears in his last game.

1964 Sandy Koufax pitches his third no-hitter. He walks just one, Dick Allen in the fourth. Allen is immediately nailed in a foiled stolen base attempt. Koufax also fans 12 to give him a Game Score of 98.

1967 Curt Flood’s 227-game, 568-chance errorless streak ends when he drops a fly ball.

1967 It’s the longest game in the history of the Baltimore Orioles. They top Washington, 7-5 in 19 innings, fanning 21 Senators along the way.

1968 Don Drysdale pitches his sixth consecutive shutout. He’s now on the verge of breaking Walter Johnson’s scoreless-inning streak.

1968 Fresco Thompson succeeds Buzzie Bavasi as Dodgers GM.

1969 Rod Carew steals home for the fifth time this year for the Twins. It comes at the front of one of the team’s four triple steals on the year. In this same game, Harmon Killebrew steals two bases. One comes in the triple steal and the other as the trailing runner in a double steal.

1970 It’s draft day in big league baseball. Here are the more prominent names taken who will sign this year: Cincinnati gets Ray Knight, Pittsburgh lands Dave Parker, St. Louis claims John Denny, the Giants get Dave Kingman, Milwaukee gets Darrell Porter, the Cubs get Rick Reuschel, and the White Sox get a bunch: Rich Gossage, Bucky Dent and Jerry Hairston Sr.

Among the best players who won’t sign are: the Yankees with Fred Lynn, Montreal with Phil Garner and Roy Smalley, Washington with Jerry Remy and Bruce Sutter, California with Mike Krukow, and Cincinnati with Duane Kuiper.

1971 Gaylord Perry loses his 100th decision, giving him a record of 124-100.

1971 Fergie Jenkins wins his 100th game, giving him a record of 100-73.

1971 Boston recalls Luis Tiant from its minor league club in Louisville. This will work out well.

1971 George Hendrick makes his big league debut.

1971 Catfish Hunter wins his 100th career decision, for a career record of 100-91.

1972 Bob Gibson, for the fifth time in his career has a “Pappas game“—belting a home run in a game in which he throws a complete-game shutout. He’ll do this six times in his career, more than anyone else ever. St. Louis tops the Dodgers, 4-0.

1972 The Dodgers retire numbers for three of their greatest stars: Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Sandy Koufax.

1972 Dick Allen hits his ninth career walk-off home run, a pinch-hit shot in the bottom of the ninth with two on and one out and his team trailing, 4-2. By WPA, it’s his most clutch home run: 0.830.

1972 A single-day record eight major league shutouts occur. The A’s pitch two of them, both 2-0 wins over Baltimore.

1974 It’s the worst promotional idea of all-time, 10-Cent Beer Night in Cleveland. Unsurprisingly, the Indians end up forfeiting as the fans become a drunken mob.

1974 Darin Erstad, Angels outfielder, is born.

1976 Dave Kingman destroys the Dodgers with three homers and eight RBIs in an 11-0 Mets win. (No, this isn’t the game where a reporter famously asked Tommy Lasorda for his opinion on Kingman’s performance.)

1976 Larry Hisle hits for the cycle.

1978 Gaylord Perry posts his 250th career win. His record is 250-202.

1979 Eddie Murray lays down a sacrifice bunt, the second and last time he ever does that. He has 11,229 more plate appearances left to go in his career.

1980 Ralph Garr plays in his final big league game.

1981 The Cubs purchase Bobby Bonds from the Rangers. He plays in his first game only to trip on a seam in the turf at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. He breaks a bone in his right hand. Oops.

1982 The Houston Astros have five hits and five walks yet somehow end the game with zero runners left on base. They score eight runs and the other two are out on the bases in a 8-2 win over Philadelphia.

1984 Time for the annual amateur draft. These teams draft (and will sign) the following players: Atlanta: Tom Glavine and Jeff Blauser; Oakland: Mark McGwire; Cubs: Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer; San Francisco: Terry Mulholland; Yankees: Al Leiter; and Houston: Ken Caminiti. Guys drafted who won’t sign include: Mets: John Wetteland, Angels: Chuck Finley (they get him in a later draft), Red Sox: Jack McDowell; and Milwaukee: Greg Vaughn.

1986 It begins. Barry Bonds belts career home run No. 1. Craig McMurtry becomes a trivia question answer because he’s the pitcher who surrenders it.

1988 St. Louis wins, pushing Whitey Herzog’s career record to 176 games over .500 (1,116-940). It’s his personal best. He’ll tie it four games later but never top 176 games over .500.

1989 The Red Sox blow a 10-0 lead in a 13-11 loss to the Blue Jays.

1989 Mike Krukow pitches in his last game.

1989 Kevin Appier makes his big league debut.

1989 Nolan Ryan becomes the seventh pitcher to beat all 26 teams. The previous ones are Rick Wise, Mike Torrez, Gaylord Perry, Doyle Alexander, Tommy John and Don Sutton.

1989 In the eighth inning against the Padres, Reds reliever Rob Dibble strikes out the side on nine pitches.

1990 Once again, it’s draft day in baseball. These teams draft (and will sign) the following players: Atlanta – Chipper Jones; White Sox – Alex Fernandez, Ray Durham and Bob Wickman; Phillies – Mike Lieberthal, and Mike Williams; Yankees – Carl Everett;Mets – Jeromy Burnitz, Fernando Vina, and Brian Daubach; Orioles – Mike Mussina; Twins – Eddie Guardado, Damian Miller, and Todd Ritchie; Mariners – Bret Boone, and Mike Hampton. The Mets also draft, but fail to sign, Rick Helling and Darren Dreifort.

1990 Detroit trades catcher Matt Nokes to the Yankees.

1990 Ramon Martinez ties Sandy Koufax’s Dodgers franchise record when he fans 18 batters in a three-hit, complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win against the Braves.

1992 Carl Stotz, the creator of Little League baseball, dies at age 82 in Williamsport, Pa.

1992 San Jose voters reject a plan to build a new stadium for the Giants in their city.

1994 Randy Johnson pitches his third consecutive complete-game shutout. His line in that time: 27 IP, 12 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 BB, and 34 K.

1995 In the top of the second inning, Tom Glavine loads the bases with no outs but then escapes the mess by striking out three straight batters. It’s the only time he ever does that.

1995 Tim Wakefield pitches 10 innings for the Red Sox. They haven’t had a pitcher go that long ever since.

1996 Once again, it’s draft day. These teams will sign the guys they draft: Atlanta – Jason Marquis, and Mark DeRosa; Montreal – Milton Bradley; Minnesota – Jacque Jones; Colorado – Shawn Chacon; Yankees – Nick Johnson, and Eric Milton; White Sox – Joe Crede, and Chad Bradford; Arizona – Brad Penny; Boston – Shea Hillenbrand; Dodgers – Ted Lilly; Houston – Roy Oswalt; Cubs – Kyle Lohse; Texas – Travis Hafner; Pittsburgh – Kris Benson; Toronto – Billy Koch; Florida – Mark Kotsay; Oakland – Eric Chavez; and Seattle – Gil Meche. Guys drafted who won’t sign this year include: Boston – Aaron Harang; Toronto – Orlando Hudson (they get him later), and Seattle with both Juan Pierre and Barry Zito.

1996 Frank Thomas walks a personal-best five times in one game. Two walks are intentional. He also singles in his only official at-bat.

1998 The Indians raise $60 million by selling four million shares in initial common stock offerings in one hour.

1998 The Dodgers trade Hideo Nomo to the Mets.

1999 Randy Johnson wins his 150th game, putting him halfway to 300. He’s 150-81 so far.

1999 Pedro Martinez has one of his most dominant performances, fanning 16 in one game. His line: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 16 K.

2000 Esteban Yan homers in his first career at-bat. He’s the first pitcher to do this since 1972.

2002 The Moneyball draft happens. Among the highlights: Tampa takes B.J. Upton, Kansas City claims Zack Greinke, Milwaukee claims Prince Fielder, the Mets have Scott Kazmir, the A’s draft Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton and Mark Teahen, the Marlins draft Scott Olsen and Jimmy Johnson, the Orioles claim John Maine, the Dodgers draft Russell Martin, the Phillies draft Cole Hamels, Atlanta drafts Jeff Franceour and Brian McCann, the Giants claim Matt Cain, the Reds draft Joey Votto and the Tigers draft Curtis Granderson. Also, Tampa drafts but is unable to sign Jacob Ellsbury.

2003 Garret Anderson gets three home runs in one game.

2003 Jeff DaVanon of the Angels becomes the fourth player with three straight multi-homer games. Previously doing it were Gus Zernial in 1951, Frank Thomas in 1962 and Lee Maye in 1969.

2003 Major League Baseball confiscates the 76 bats in Sammy Sosa’s locker and five in Cooperstown to test for corking after his bat split open yesterday, sending cork all over the place.

2003 The Royals purchase pitcher Jose Lima from Newark in the Atlantic League.

2004 Kevin Brown becomes the first pitcher to beat all 30 big league teams multiple times. Though a dozen have beaten all 30 teams at least once, Brown is still the only one to beat them all at least twice.

2006 Ivan Rodriguez plays first base. It’s the first time he’s taken the field at a slot other than backstop.

2006 Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol makes his big league debut. He has since become the all-time franchise leader in relief appearances.

2007 Former Yankees infielder Clete Boyer dies.

2007 Mark Ellis hits for the cycle.

2008 Joe Mauer drives in two runs on one sacrifice fly. Neat trick. He’s the first man to do that since Alex Ochoa in 2001.

2009 Exactly 10 years after winning his 150th game, Randy Johnson joins the exclusive 300-win club by tossing seven innings, allowing only one unearned run for a 5-1 Giants win over the Nationals. His career record is 300-164.

2009 White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham makes his big league debut. The last four years haven’t gone quite according to plan for him.

2010 Baltimore fires manager Dave Trembley, naming Juan Samuel the interim skipper.

2011 Albert Pujols launches his ninth career walk-off home run for a Cardinals win over the Cubs.

2012 Talented but vexing Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro forgets how many outs there are in an inning, blowing a double play chance and costing the team a run. After the game, Chicago manager Dale Sveum is adamant: This cannot happen again.

2012 The Rockies release ageless wonder Jamie Moyer.

2012 Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda suffers a mild heart attack and requires hospitalization in New York City.

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Professor Longnose
Professor Longnose

10-Cent Beer Night gets the nod over Disco Demolition Night? That must have been a tough call.

Chris Jaffe
Chris Jaffe

Both are bad, but one’s idea is “let’s get everyone drunk.”  That’s bad in the stadium and bad on the roads afterwards.

Professor Longnose
Professor Longnose

OK, that’s a persuasive argument.

Of course, it could have been worse. They could have combined 10-Cent Beer Night with Free Parking Night.

Chris Jaffe
Chris Jaffe

A reader has pointed out an error in this piece—Bobby Meachum made the error on Schu’s grounder that led off the last inning, not Pagliarulo.  Oops.

Jim G.
Jim G.

In fairness to that Buffalo TV station, they probably figured there would more coming…

I wonder if they dropped in some “Mets Blue” into Lasorda while they had the chance.

Also, Greg Vaughn eventually did end up with the Brewers, as well.

Chris Jaffe
Chris Jaffe

Jim G. – eventually, but not from this draft (unless I got that wrong altogether).