Monday, August 10, 2009

Just a Day: June 10, 1989

Aaaaand we're back! In the last seven days I've been able to follow no baseball at all save watching parts of most of the Nats games with my Beltway-centric extended family (and what were the odds that they'd turn out to be the team of the week?) and checking Twins scores. So while I get caught up, let's talk about stuff that happened 20 years ago.
Oddly enough, the randomizer came up with the same month and day it did the last time we did this, which happened to be one month ago today. That is to say: the two posts were written for July 10th and August 10th, and both times it came up with June 10th. Coincidence? (Yes.)

At the end of play on Saturday, June 10, 1989, your division leaders were Baltimore, Oakland, the Cubs, and the Reds (in a virtual tie with the Astros). The Cubs and A's (the eventual world champs) would hang on; the Orioles and Redlegs, not so much.
  • Once upon a time, the Yankees and Red Sox sometimes played games without completely dominating all sports coverage everywhere, and this was, presumably, one of those games. The Red Sox visit The Stadium and win 14-8, behind a 4-single performance by Wade Boggs and a 3-for-4-with-a-homer by #8 hitter(??!) Nick Esasky. Esasky's HR was his ninth of an eventual 30, good for fifth in what was kind of a sixties-esque American League. Roger Clemens starts for the Sox and picks up the win despite surrendering four earned in seven innings. Kind of a down year for Roger, actually, and in the heart of his otherwise eye-popping prime...though he still finishes fifth in ERA+.

  • There are five shutouts, though only a couple of them are complete games, which is a little surprising to me. In fact, pitchers were pulled early all over the place, many well before 100 pitches. In this game, Storm Davis is pulled after five innings, having permitted a run on two hits and a walk with six strikeouts, having thrown only 72 pitches, and having struck out the last two batters he faced. Injury, maybe (or maybe they just figured it was Storm Davis and they wouldn't push their luck), but Davis certainly wasn't the only one.

  • It's quite a day for future Hall of Fame pitchers. Not a particularly good day, just a voluminous one:
    - Clemens, as mentioned, goes 7 and picks up a cheap win;
    - Bert Blyleven goes six, giving up 4 runs (3 earned)...and being pulled after only 79 pitches (he was 38, but was also having one of his best seasons);
    - Greg Maddux gets knocked around by the Cards for five and a third, and his Cubs can do nothing against Joe Magrane. Maddux, 23, already has an All-Star appearance under his belt and will finish third in the Cy Young voting (Magrane will finish fourth), but I think there's a strong argument that Magrane, 24, looks like the better pitcher, both on this date and at the end of the season;
    - Randy Johnson shines for 7.2 innings (and a more back-in-the-good-old-days-like 122 pitches): 3 hits, 4 walks, 7 Ks, 1 ER in helping the Mariners beat Cleveland, 3-1. It's just his third start for the M's, and he hadn't given up more than 2 earned, struck out fewer than six, or walked fewer than three in any of 'em; and
    - John Smoltz is even better but draws the "loss" because he pitches for a woeful Atlanta team that's headed for 97 of them. Smoltz, having a brilliant season at 22, goes 7 (and again, just 89 pitches! ...He's pinch hit for, but with one out and no one on), strikes out 8 against 0 walks, and surrenders one earned run on just four hits. He and his horrible squad are bested by fearsome Jim Clancy and the Astros, 1-0.

  • It's even a bad day just to be a very good pitcher; David Cone and Jimmy Key combine to give up 8 runs in 7 2/3.

  • It's also bad day for the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev (can't find a full and free article online) defends claims that he's become a despot, denounces rumors of assassination and coup attempts, et cetera. The flailing superpower continues to hang on, if only to provide ready ominous enemy fodder for Tom Clancy novels, for two more years.

  • Tom Browning throws one of those shutouts, beating the Dodgers and another pretty good pitcher, Tim Belcher, 5-0. Browning pitches a nice game, and the Reds keep pace with the Astros in their lingering tie for first place.

    From that point on, the Reds are the second-worst team in baseball (ahead of only the Tigers, who lose 103 on the season), finishing a depressing 17 games back of the eventual NL champion Giants. Some might speculate that there were distractions. Regardless, the Reds' abject failure (after foundering under Pete, they went a much-improved 16-21 under former Red All Star Tommy Helms) ushers in the Lou Piniella era and some pretty hefty housecleaning, which pays off in a pretty big way pretty quickly.

  • No one notable debuted, ended his career, or died on this date (though Alex Sanchez--no, not that one--did make his fourth and final appearance), and no one we know about yet was born (though Freddy Garcia blew out fourteen candles on this day).

  • Not a whole lot else worth noting happens in baseball (or elsewhere) either, though it's worth noting that the Tiananmen Square Massacre had taken place just six days earlier. Also, I found this from just two days earlier (it's from Wikipedia, and I like the story so much I don't have the heart to fact-check it):
    June 8 - At Veterans Stadium, the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates score 10 runs in the top of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies, three of which come on a Barry Bonds home run. As the Phillies come to bat in the bottom of the first, Pirate broadcaster Jim Rooker says on the air, "If we lose this game, I'll walk home." Both Von Hayes and Steve Jeltz hit two home runs to trigger the comeback for the Phillies, who finally tie the game in the 8th on a wild pitch, then take the lead on Darren Daulton's two-run single and go on to win 15-11. After the season, Rooker conducts a 300-plus-mile charity walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
  • Hitter of the day: probably Esasky for his 3 hits and a homer. Pitcher of the day: probably Browning for his complete-game, five-hit, one-walk shutout. I sure wish that Rob Deer had hit three homers or something, but alas.


  1. rejoice!! Baseball reference corroborates the Rooker tale!!

  2. Welcome back. Good stuff, as always, Bill. I wasn't sure I believed you, so I went and checked the random number generator you used. It seems legit. You're off the hook for that one.

    1989 was an odd season, huh? I mean, just seeing the O's in first place in June has to point that out, especially considering just how bad they were in 1988 (0-21?). But Gregg Olson, Mickey Tettleton, and Frank Robinson made that happen. That was about the time that I started rooting for the Orioles, btu I don't think I was old enough to fully understand either their utter ineptitude in '88 or the apparent resurgence in '89. What I do remember most from that year was the baseball cards... buying pack after pack of '89 Topps and finding about 50 copies of the Gregg Jefferies Future Stars card, and dreaming wistfully of buying an Upper Deck pack and finding Griffey. I remember hearing from someone that the 4th pack down in the bottom left corner of a freshly opened box always had a Griffey in it. I don't think i was ever able to test that theory, though.