With all that will be available to you as we mark as important an anniversary as there is in our nation’s history, I imagine this will be one of the last places you will look for perspective.
And that’s appropriate. We don’t do politics here, and you certainly don’t need a comment from me about what it all means. On the other hand, there is something very red, white and blue about baseball, only some of it contrived for American consumption. And there was baseball on that particular day for 125 seasons before September 11, 2001, and on ten occasions since, much of it involving the Dodgers.
That is something we can talk about, and in most cases, with the possible exception of 1951, celebrate.
So here are a few of the things which occurred on the other 135 September 11s in baseball history:
1912: Philadelphia Athletics’ second baseman Eddie Collins steals six bases in 9-7 win over the Detroit Tigers.
1915: 40-year-old St. Louis Terriers’ lefthander Eddie Plank wins his 300th game.
1927: At 96-41, New York’s Yankees lead the A’s by 17 games, go on to win 14 of their final 17 and finish 110-44. A four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series is next.
1938: Consecutive losing seasons for Pennsylvania baseball teams is a thing of the past as well the present. Only in 1938 it’s the Philadelphia Phillies who clinch a sub-.500 mark, doing so for the 16th straight year.
1951: With the Giants splitting a double-header in St. Louis, the Dodgers and Clem Labine defeat the Cincinnati Reds 7-0, to lead the National League by six games. Comfortable? I think not.
1955: Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres are the losing pitchers as the Dodgers are swept a twin-bill by Cincinnati, 5-3 and 9-0. Brooklyn leads the NL and the Milwaukee Braves by 14 games. Comfortable? Thankfully, yes.
1955: Ted Williams records hit number 2000.
1956: Reds’ Frank Robinson hits his 38th home run, tying him with Wally Berger for the National League rookie record.
1959: Wally Moon hits three homers in a Dodgers double-header sweep of the Bucs. In game one, Los Angeles beats Elroy Face to snap his consecutive game win streak going back to 1958 at 22. He would finish the season 18-1. Roberto Clemente is hitless in eight at bats. Meanwhile, Robin Roberts pitches a three-hit shutout, besting the Giants’ Mike McCormick 1-0, and the Dodgers move to within half a game of San Francisco.
1962: Maury Wills steals his 90th base of the season.
1963: Wills goes 4-5 as the Dodgers beat Pittsburgh 9-4, and L.A. holds a three-game lead over the Cardinals.
1966: Nolan Ryan fans Pat Jarvis for the first strikeout of his career.
1969: Gary Gentry shuts out the Montreal Expos 4-0, as the team to be known later as the Miracle Mets take a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs.
1974: Andy Messersmith improves to 17-6 as the Dodgers beat the Giants 5-4, and lead the NL West and the Reds by four.
1985: Hit number 4192 for Pete Rose. No word on the odds.
1986: There are no pennant races in baseball as the Red Sox, Angels and Astros lead their respective divisions by nine games. The Mets have already clinched the NL East and lead the Phils by 22.
1987: With his 30th stolen base Mets’ third baseman Howard Johnson becomes the sixth National Leaguer with 30 steals and 30 home runs in the same season. The others to date are Henry Aaron, Bobby Bonds, Eric Davis, Willie Mays and Dale Murphy.
1988: Kirk Gibson goes 3-4, with a homer off Tom Browning, as the Dodgers beat the Reds 5-3, and hold a five-game lead over Houston. In his next start five days later, Browning throws a perfect game against Los Angeles. The 1-0 losing pitcher and eventual World Series hero Tim Belcher records a complete game three-hitter.
1996: Soon-to-be NL Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti homers from both sides of the plate, for the fourth time that season. It is believed that he was on steroids at the time. Exactly eight years and one month to the day later, he was dead.
1998: Kevin Malone becomes general manager of the Dodgers.
2004: Barry Bonds homers twice and stands at 700 lifetime. Some say he was on steroids at the time.
2008: The Dodgers rest after having won 10 of 11, to go from four games behind Arizona to three and half up, on their way to a division crown.
2009: With 2722 hits, Derek Jeter passes Lou Gehrig to become the all-time Yankee leader in the category.
2010: Albert Pujols records 100 RBIs for the tenth consecutive season.
2010: With his 587th homer, Jim Thome passes Frank Robinson for eighth place on the career list.
The Seattle Mariners lead the majors as play was suspended on September 11th 2001 with a stirring 104-40 record, and would finish 116-46, only to lose to the Yanks in the American League Championship Series.
The day before, Darryl Kile pitched six scoreless innings to win his 14th game for the Cards, beating the Davey Lopes-managed Brewers, 8-0. Rookie Pujols went 2-4 in the game, his batting average standing at .333. And the A’s Barry Zito pitched a complete game seven-hitter to defeat the Alex Rodriguez-lead Texas Rangers 7-1 at Oakland.
The Dodgers were actually in a pennant race at the time, but would finish third at 86-76, behind San Francisco and the eventual World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Paul Lo Duca and Shawn Green were in the stretch run of career years. Chan Ho Park anchored a rotation which included Terry Adams, Kevin Brown, Eric Gagne and Luke Prokopec. Darren Dreifort was there too, kind of.
And remember, glove conquers all.