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This Week in Baseball History: July 19 – 25

Death, taxes and Manny being Manny.

 

July 19, 1910 – Cy Young’s 500th Win

 

Many old-school baseball fans hold the 300 win club to be a gold standard for pitching. Just 24 players have reached that illustrious plateau. With wins growing less and less important in the modern game, it’s unclear if we will see many more additions to that club. Just two active pitchers have more than 200 wins: Justin Verlander (226) and Zack Greinke (216).

An even more exclusive club is the 400 win club, which has just two members: Walter Johnson and Cy Young. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we will never see another 400 game-winner.

But Young did something even more special on July 19, 1910: 500 wins.

It’s really an inconceivable stat. To reach 500 wins, you need to average 20 wins for 25 years. That simply is impossible in the modern game. But back in the late-1800s, early-1900s, that was baseball.

Between 1891 and 1909, Young had fewer than 20 wins just three times. In five seasons, he had more than 30 wins.

Entering the 1910 season, the 43-year-old Young was already baseball’s indisputable wins leader. He began the year at 497 career wins. No. 2 was Pud Galvin with 364 wins.

For the first time since Young’s rookie season, he struggled to rack up the wins. On June 21, Young got his first win of the season in a 12-inning, complete game performance. By that point, he had already thrown three complete game losses and one tie. Win No. 499 came on June 30 as Young blanked the St. Louis Browns across nine innings.

A couple of weeks later on July 19, Young and the Cleveland Naps faced off against the Washington Senators. The bats for both teams fell silent that day. In the bottom of the first inning, the Senators scored one run off of Young. That was the only offense seen for the first eight innings of play as Young held the Senators to one hit during that span.

In the top of the ninth, the Naps came back with a two-run rally to put Young in a position to win No. 500. But the Senators rallied back, scoring the tying run while putting the winning run on third. The veteran Young neutralized that threat, and the game went into extras.

Two innings later, the Naps scored three runs, and Young closed the deal in the bottom of the 11th to reach 500 wins.

It really is a mind-boggling stat. There are just 19 active pitchers with more than 100 wins. The best starters of our generation, like Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, have yet to reach 200 wins. A modern pitcher reaching 250 wins—half of Young’s career total—would earn them admission to the Hall of Very Good. 300 wins, and you are a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Now 500 wins? You are one-of-a-kind.

 

July 20, 2020 – Alyssa Nakken: First Female Coach

 

Tomorrow, we will see history when the first all-female broadcasting crew calls the Orioles vs. Rays game.

As female representation gradually increases throughout the sports industry, it’s important to acknowledge another historic baseball first that happened on July 20, 2020.

That day, Alyssa Nakken trotted out to the first base foul line where she became the first female coach in MLB history.

 

Before Nakken first joined the Giants organization in 2014 as a baseball operations intern, she was a decorated player for the Sacramento State softball team, earning the conference’s 2012 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

After her internship ended, Nakken continued working for the Giants in a capacity suited to health and wellness initiatives. In 2015, Nakken earned a Master’s Degree in Sports Management. The combination of her softball background, professional experience, and a strong education in sports made her an excellent candidate for when Gabe Kapler wanted to diversify the organization.

“I just thought that when I was done playing I just had to find my way into the business side of an organization,” Nakken said. “It never occurred to me that an on-field role would be available. I think it’s honestly because I never saw it.”

Nakken’s journey serves as an inspiration to any woman looking to carve out a career for themselves in such a competitive, male-dominated industry.

“There are so many girls, young girls out there, that they’re now able to see so many other possibilities, that you know when I was 10, 11, 12, 13, I didn’t know this existed all,” Nakken told ABC 7’s With Authority podcast. “I think it just allows people to go down these different paths that they didn’t know existed, but are the perfect paths for them.”

 

July 21, 2004 – Manny Ramírez’s Diving Cutoff

 

Manny being Manny.

 

If you followed baseball at the turn of the millennium, you undoubtedly heard this expression thrown around all the time. Manny Ramírez was, flat out, one of baseball’s most dominant right-handed hitters. In the 2000s, there is only one RHH with a higher wRC+ than Ramirez’s 158: Albert Pujols (169). In fact, Ramírez has the 11th highest career wRC+ (153) of any righty ever.

This excellence at the plate allowed Ramírez to get away with some pretty questionable decisions. Like that time he took a bathroom break in the Green Monster during a mound visit.

 

One of his most infamous Manny-isms happened on July 21, 2004.

With the Red Sox trailing 4 – 6 to the Orioles in the bottom of the seventh, Baltimore’s DH David Newhan stepped up to bat against Pedro Martínez. The 30-year-old Newhan, who had just seven career HR’s up to that point, crushed a ball to the deepest part of Fenway Park. In the 29 other ballparks, that ball should be gone. But in Fenway, it weirdly ricochets after the centerfield wall as Johnny Damon races to grab the ball and throw it in. Then, Manny flies into the scene.

 

A diving cutoff outta nowhere! It’s likely that Newhan scores an inside-the-parker no matter what on that play. But with three relay men already waiting for Damon’s throw, Ramírez’s dive certainly didn’t help.

 

July 21, 1973 & July 23, 1976 – Aaron & Oh: No. 700

 

700 home runs. An incredibly difficult achievement that only three MLB hitters have accomplished. First, there was Babe Ruth. For almost 39 years, he stood alone in that group. But along came Hank Aaron.

Season after season, Aaron gradually climbed his way up the career leaderboards. He never hit 50 HRs in one year, but that didn’t matter when he averaged 40 HRs every year.

In 1966, a 32-year-old Aaron hit No. 400. Two years later, and he got to 500. Three years after that, and he was already at 600. Give him two more years, and he’s knocking on the door of 700.

That moment came on July 21, 1973. Merely 16,236 fans filled the stands of Atlanta Stadium to watch two sub-.500 teams square off: the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Most of those fans were there to watch Aaron, who sat at 699 career dingers, make history against Phillies starter Ken Brett.

Aaron’s first AB was a relative disappointment—a single into LF. But in the third inning, with a runner on second, Aaron had his second opportunity to achieve baseball immortality. And so, he swung.

 

But Aaron wasn’t the only slugger to reach 700 career home runs this week in baseball history. Three years and two days after Aaron’s blast, Sadaharu Oh also wanted to join in on the fun.

Much like Aaron, Oh was a consistent, unrelenting force at the plate. In 1962, a 22-year-old Oh crushed 38 homers in 134 games. He would never hit fewer than 30 HRs in a season again. In fact, from ’62 until the end of his career, Oh averaged 43 HRs a year. Don’t forget that the NPB season is shorter than the MLB: Oh’s Yomiuri Giants regularly played just 130 games a season.

Nonetheless, on July 23, 1976, a 36-year-old Oh joined Aaron and Ruth as the only three sluggers in professional baseball with 700 career dingers.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any videos of Oh’s 700th home run. I hope this video of him practicing his swing with a katana will suffice.

 

 

July 25, 2015 – Cole Hamels‘ No-Hitter

 

In my humble opinion, Cole Hamels is one of the most slept-on pitchers of the 21st century (alongside Roy Oswalt and Brandon Webb).

Since 2000, Hamels has had the 11th highest fWAR of any pitcher (51.6). In his prime, Hamels could easily chuck 200 innings of low-3 ERA ball. But during his best years, Hamels had to share the spotlight with other Phillies greats like Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay.

Come 2015 and Hamels and Phillies look like they are heading down different paths. The Phillies hadn’t made the playoffs since 2011, and they actually finished 2014 in the last place in the NL East with a 73 – 89 record. 2015 was playing out the same way as the previous year.

But Hamels was still an excellent pitcher. In 2014, he had a 2.46 ERA (his career-best) in 204.2 IP. He was a great trade chip on a bad team, and though beloved by Philadelphia, the team would be foolish not to flip him for any sort of value.

So as the 2015 trade deadline approached, it became clear that Hamels would wear another uniform come August.

Hamels’ July 25 start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field looked to be his swan song. And what a parting gift Hamels left behind.

The very first batter he faced, Dexter Fowler, earned a walk. But from that point on, Hamels was almost perfect.

 

His final line: 9 IP, 0 R, 2 BB, and 13 K.

In his final game wearing a Phillies uniform, Hamels has the best start of his career. Six days later, and Hamels was traded to the Rangers for a bundle of prospects.

 

Photo by Icon Sportswire | Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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