40th anniversary: Steve Carlton homer and shutout

Forty years ago today Steve Carlton had about as dominating a game as a pitcher could have. It was the sort of day that scarcely required any help from his teammates. Carlton threw a complete game shutout and hit a home run, guiding the Phillies to a win seemingly single-handedly.

On July 14, 1973, the Phillies hosted the visiting Houston Astros in Veterans Stadium. The day looked like it would make a nice match-up of former Cardinals left-handers; Carlton faced is fellow former St. Louis hurler Jerry Reuss.

A fine pitcher in his own right, Reuss was enjoying his first really nice season. He began the day with an 11-6 record and an ERA just over 3.00. Carlton was an already established star, having won 27 games for a last-place Phillies team in 1972 with an ERA under 2.00. He was off to a rough start in 1973, though, with an ERA over 4.00 and a record just over .500.

It looked like anything but a pitchers duel early on, as Carlton walked two of the first three batters he faced in the top of the first. However, he got a double play and a strikeout to get out of the inning. Reuss wasn’t as lucky in the bottom of the first; he let two runs score, including one on a balk.

The same pattern held in the second. Carlton let two guys on base early but getting the outs he needed. Reuss then allowed a pair of runs—and this time they scored in a way even more humbling than via a balk. After a one-out single by No. 8 hitter Larry Bowa, Carlton strode to the plate, and made solid contact with a Reuss offering. Gone—home run.

After that, it was all Carlton. In the next four innings, the Astros had just one batter reach base, and he was wiped out by ground ball double play. Meanwhile, Reuss didn’t get another out. After the third began with three straight singles, aging Astros manager Leo Durocher yanked him from the game.

The closest the Astros came to threatening Carlton the rest of the way came in the eighth, when they staged a two-out mini-rally, with a single followed by a walk. Two outs is a tough time to start a rally, especially against a pitcher dialed in like Carlton. He got the next batter out to retire the side, and then had a 1-2-3 ninth for the win.

That gave Carlton a record of 9-9 on the season. But instead of that being the start of something good for Carlton, he soon fell apart. He lost his next two decisions, then won a game, before losing three more, giving him a record of 10-14. Soon a five-game losing streak pushed him back to 11-19 and he ended the year 13-20.

But while the season would be a disappointment, the day was great for Carlton. It was the third time in his career Steve Carlton homered in a shutout. He’d do it once more, several years later. He needed his teammates to play the field for him as he fanned only five batters, but Carlton drove in more runs than he allowed. It was a great day for Carlton—and it was 40 years ago today.


1,000 days since the Mariners hire Eric Wedge as their skipper.

2,000 days since the White Sox sign free agent reliever Octavio Dotel.

3,000 days since Jose Mesa notches his 300th save.

3,000 days since Mark Grudzielanek hits for the cycle.

4,000 days since the Rockies release Jose Guillen.

4,000 days since Vladimir Guerrero hits a walk-of homer against Curt Schilling. It’s the only walk-off Schilling ever allows.

7,000 days since Brett Butler bops his 2,000th hit.

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7,000 days since six Marlins pitchers combine to shut out the Cubs.

7,000 days since Jon Lieber makes his big league debut.

8,000 days since Tim Raines endures his worst game ever according to WPA: -0.330 WPA by going 1-for-5.

15,000 days since the big league debut of Big Daddy Rick Reuschel.

15,000 days since the Supreme Court finds for Major League Baseball in Flood v. Kuhn by a 5-3 vote.

30,000 days since Rogers Hornsby hits his 500th double.

30,000 days since Joe Dugan, a starting infielder on the 1927 Yankees, appears in his last game.

50,000 days since the first forfeit in NL history: The Cubs leave the field to protest an umpire’s call in a game against St. Louis.


1874 Jesse Tannehill, quality turn-of-the-century pitcher, is born.

1887 Directors of the International League ban contracts with black players, but grandfather in the few blacks currently in the league. The race line is descending, though.

1898 Happy Chandler, baseball commissioner after Judge Landis, is born.

1899 Washington trades veteran catcher Deacon McGuire to Brooklyn.

1904 Ed Abbaticchio of the Boston Braves hits into a walk-off triple play versus Cincinnati.

1906 Chicago Tribune writer Charles Dryden dubs the White Sox the “hitless wonder.” The nickname catches on.

1906 Detroit Free Press writer Joe. H. Jackson nicknames young Ty Cobb the Georgia Peach.

1906 Cy Seymour, who won the batting title last year, is purchased by the Giants from the Reds for $12,000.

1908 Johnny Murphy, 1940s Yankees reliever, is born.

1915 Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft hits 32 homers in his 8,244 plate appearances, but today gets a homer for the second straight game.

1915 Ken Williams, left fielder, is born.

1916 In 17 innings the Browns and Red Sox end in a 0-0 tie.

1917 The Boston Braves release Ed Reulbach.

1917 In a Pirates-Giants game, young Casey Stengel spikes the great veteran Honus Wagner. Wagner plays sparingly over the next two months and then retires.

1919 The Cardinals trade starting pitcher Lee Meadows to the Phillies.

1923 George Burns of the Red Sox pulls off an unassisted triple play.

1929 Bob Purkey, pitcher, is born.

1931 For the only time in his Hall of Fame career, Dazzy Vance surrenders a home run to the lead off hitter.

1932 Sad Sam Jones wins his 200th decision. His record is 200-179.

1934 Lou Gehrig plays shortstop for the only time. Or, rather, he “plays” shortstop. He bats leadoff and singles in the top of the first and is immediately taken out of the game. But his consecutive games played streak is intact, at 1,427 games in a row. He also left in the first inning the day before. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but it’s something.

1939 In a 8-3 win over Detroit, the Yankees have just one defensive assist.

1940 Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons wins his 200th game, giving him a record of 200-140.

1941 Rapid Robert Feller wins his 100th decision. The 22-year-old is already 100-45 on his career.

1942 Stan Musial hits his first of 12 career walk-off home run.

1946 On the fourth anniversary of his first walk-off dinger, Stan the Man Musial gets No. 2 in his career.

1946 Lou Boudreau belts four doubles in one game.

1946 Alvin Dark makes his big league debut.

1946 Ted Williams has perhaps the greatest game of his career, he hits three homers, including a grand slam, in an 11-10 Red Sox win over the Indians. He foils the Boudreau Shift against him by just hitting the ball out of the park all day long. Teddy Ballgame drives in eight of Boston’s 11 runs.

1946 Warren Spahn gets his first big league victory. There is plenty more where that came from.

1947 Former Cubs pitcher Orval Overall dies at age 66.

1947 Star Cardinals infielder Red Schoendienst enjoys his 35th straight game without a K. He’s hitting .316 with nine doubles and three triples in one game.

1947 Steve Stone is born.

1948 The Sporting News decries the recent signing of Satchel Paige by the Indians as demeaning and turning the game into a circus.

1950 Weird. In the Colonial League, 12 players are fired when they refuse to board a bus for Kingston, N.Y. Two days later, the league disbands. I assume the players were upset over a lack of paychecks.

1951 The Red Sox top the White Sox 3-2 in 19 innings. In two days, those teams have played 36 innings against each other.

1951 The Browns sign legendary pitcher Satchel Paige.

1955 The Indians sign free agent Ferris Fain.

1956 Red Sox southpaw Mel Parnell throws a no-hitter as Boston beats Chicago, 4-0. It’s the first no-no by a Red Sox pitcher since Howard Ehmke in 1923.

1957 Willie Mays wallops the first of six career walk-off home runs.

1961 Sweet Swinging Billy Williams has the first of 32 career multi-homer games.

1962 Better late than never: In an Old Timers Game, Ralph Branca gets Bobby Thomson to fly out.

1963 Toy Cannon Jimmy Wynn hits his first home run.

1963 Nellie Fox has the best game of his career, according to WPA: 0.821 WPA by going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two RBIs in Chicago’s 3-2 win over Baltimore.

1964 Johnny Temple plays in his last game.

1964 Dick Allen suffers through his worst game ever according to WPA. He’s 0-for-4 with a K and two GIDPs for a –0.430 mark.

1966 Sandy Koufax enjoys his 16th straight quality start. He’s 13-3 with a 1.35 ERA in 140 innings.

1967 Eddie Mathews smacks his 500th double.

1967 Robin Ventura is born.

1968 Houston fireballer Don Wilson fans 18 in a 6-1 win over the Reds. This ties the record for most Ks in a nine-inning game.

1968 Hank Aaron becomes the eighth member of the 500 home run club, joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Eddie Mathews.

1970 It’s one of the most famous moments in the history of the All-Star Game, as Pete Rose rams into Indians catcher Ray Fosse at the plate, badly injuring him.

1970 Pittsburgh signs amateur free agent and defensive whiz infielder Mario Mendoza.

1972 The Indians top the Rangers 2-0 in 14 innings, with Gaylord Perry pitching 13 shutout innings for a Game Score of 95. Texas’ Mike Paul is arguably even better, with a 101 Game Score in “only” 11 innings of work. Paul allows just three hits and zero walks while fanning 10.

1972 For the only time in his career, legendary Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew receives a walk-off walk.

1972 Can you say conflict of interest? Bill Haller serves as home plate umpire when his brother Tom Haller catches for Detroit. Regardless, The Royals top the Tigers, 1-0.

1973 Reliever Bill Campbell makes his big league debut.

1974 In a Rangers-Brewers doubleheader, Texas manager Billy Martin receives two ejections. Before the day, he said he wanted his pitchers to throw at young Brewers infielder Robin Yount.

1975 Star Braves pitcher Tim Hudson is born.

1977 Reds slugger George Foster hits three home runs in one game.

1977 The Yankees release Jimmy Wynn.

1978 Bill Virdon manages his 1,000th game. His record is 520-479.

1978 Second baseman Glenn Hubbard makes his big league debut.

1980 Phil Niekro posts a Game Score of 91, which ties his career high. He fans 11 in a complete game shutout two-hitter. The only hit before the ninth is by opposing pitcher J.R. Richard of he Astros. As it happens, this is the last game of Richard’s career.

1982 Outfielder Jackie Jensen dies at age 55.

1987 The BBWAA decides to rename the Rookie of the Year Award to honor Jackie Robinson.

1988 Ken Griffey Sr. gets his 2,000th hit.

1988 St. Louis signs free agent reliever Dan Quisenberry.

1988 Whitey Witt, 1920s outfielder, dies at age 92.

1989 Bob Welch loses his 100th decision, giving him a record of 141-100.

1990 Kip Gross loses two games 1,100 miles apart. He’s the losing pitcher for the Reds against the Pirates, and then a Triple-A game suspended from May 15 finally ends, with Gross’s old Nashville team losing.

1991 Tony LaRussa wins his 1,000th game as manager. His record is 1,000-845 and counting.

1991 Will Clark has a thrilling day, going 5-for-6 with seven RBIs in a 17-5 Giants destruction of the Phillies.

1991 The Twins retire No. 6 for Tony Oliva.

1992 Baltimore trades Jose Mesa to Cleveland.

1994 All Seattle players turn their caps around before today’s game against the Yankees. The reason? Yankee skipper Buck Showalter recently criticized Ken Griffey Jr. for having his cap backwards.

1994 Former Twins star Cesar Tovar dies at age 54.

1994 Toronto outfielder Joe Carter appears with his uniform misspelled “Torotno.” Oops.

1995 Dodgers pitcher Ramon Martinez no-hits the Marlins. He allows an eighth inning walk to Tommy Gregg for the only base runner.

1996 For the second and last time, Paul Molitor hits a walk-off home run.

1997 Rickey Henderson steals his 1,200th base.

1997 Fernando Valenzuela plays in his last game.

1997 Kevin Millwood makes his big league debut.

1998 The Big Hurt Frank Thomas hits the first of four career walk-off home runs.

1999 Tragedy strikes in Milwaukee, when three workers die when a 480-foot crane collapses during the construction of Miller Park.

1999 In one of the most counterproductive and poorly thought out moves in U.S. labor history, umpires union honcho Richie Phillips announces that all 57 umpires will resign on Sept. 2.

2000 Seattle’s John Olerud has a great at-bat turn into an even greater one. It looks like he hits a game-tying double in the ninth inning against San Diego, but it doesn’t count become umpire Jim Wolf called time before the pitch. Instead, Olerud hits a three-run homer for a 7-5 win.

2000 Baseball owners vote to return to playing an unbalanced schedule.

2001 Bobby Valentine wins his 1,000th game as manager. He’s 1,000-958 so far.

2001 Cal Ripken enjoys the last of his 21 career multi-home run games.

2002 All-time Mexican League home run champion Nelson Barrera electrocutes himself while trying to free some metal roofing from high tension wires. He was just 44 years old.

2003 The Dodgers sign free agent Ricky Henderson.

2003 The Mets trade Jeromy Burnitz to the Dodgers.

2004 Boston signs Pedro Astacio as a free agent.

2004 Houston fires Jimy Williams and names Phil Garner their interim skipper.

2005 The Giants become the first franchise to win 10,000 games.

2005 Tampa By signs reliever Joe Borowski.

2006 Dusty Baker loses his 1,000th game. His record is 1,130-1,000.

2008 In a 13-inning minor league game, both the Springfield Cardinals and Tulsa Drillers use position players on the mound. Tulsa wins, 7-3.

2010 San Francisco signs amateur free agent Dontrelle Willis.

2011 Roger Clemens‘ perjury case ends in mistrial when prosecutors introduce evidence that they’re not supposed to introduce.

2012 The Tigers win 8-6 in 13 innings thanks to two extra-inning comebacks. Taylor Teagarden, playing in his first game of the year, hits a walk-off, two-run homer.

2012 Wow! San Diego pinch runner Evereth Cabrrea steals home plate with two out in the top of the ninth to tie the score 6-6 against San Diego. An error by the pitcher lets the second run in, for a 7-6 Padres victory.

2012 The Astros tie the Giants 2-2 in the top of the ninth in memorable fashion. The tying run scores from second base on a wild pitch and throwing error by the catcher. But the Giants win anyway, 3-2 in 12 frames.

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3 Comments on "40th anniversary: Steve Carlton homer and shutout"

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Chris Jaffe
Chris Jaffe

1923 George Burns of the Red Sox pulls off an unassisted triple play.

NOTE: That’s incorrect.  It happened on Sept. 14, 1923, not July 14, 1923.  My apologies for the error.

David Evans
David Evans
The Orioles beat the Tigers 8-6 last year in 13th inning. Wild game to watch in person. Weird start time at 4:05 PM on a Saturday evening. Statue for Jim Palmer was dedicated per-game, w/ a good crowd in attendance. Chen started for the Birds and left game w/ a lead, but Johnson blew save in top of ninth. Tigers took lead in 11th, Orioles tied in bottom of inning. Tigers took another lead in top of 13th and Taylor Teegarden hit a walk off HR in bottom of inning. He had just been activated off of DL and was… Read more »
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