This Week in Baseball History: Sept. 6-12

Campaneris was baseball's first mega, ultra, super utility player.

Sept. 8, 1916 – Wally Schang: First Player to Homer From Both Sides of the Plate


Remember 1916? Neither do I.

That was over a century ago. So you probably won’t remember anything about it unless you’re one of the roughly 570,000 centenarians living around the world.

Let me give you a refresher on what happened.

WWI entered its third year of operation. While the U.S. still remained neutral in the war, they decided to open to lovely National Park Service. Also, that guy Albert Einstein published his final form of general relativity.

But what special thing happened that in the baseball world? Well, Wally Schang made history.

Yes folks, at just 27 years old, Schang became the first player to homer from both sides of the plate in one game. This is back when home runs weren’t that common. 1916 saw just 383 dingers across the entire league. And Schang hit 0.5% of that figure on Sept. 8.

Schang had already earned a reputation as one of the game’s best catchers. He debuted in 1913 and earned MVP-8 and MVP-10 finishes in his first two seasons. Going into 1916, Schang averaged .266/.382/.381 (OPS+ 0f 131), 2 HR, 40 RBI, 47 R, 10 SB, 44 BB, 41 K and 3.4 bWAR in 101 games.

But despite this success, Schang could not single-handedly support his Philadelphia Athletics. Although they had won the World Series in Schang’s rookie year and lost in four games in his sophomore year, from 1915 and on the team became perpetual cellar dwellers.

In 1915, they finished 43-109. 1916 was even worse — entering that Sept. 8 game against the Yankees, the Athletics were 29 – 101.

That is one reason why many people did not attend that game. A long rain delay and confusion as to whether or not the game was cancelled contributed to the poor attendance. The final tally? About 25 paying fans.

In the first inning, Schang hit a grand slam while batting lefty again Allen Russell. Then, an inning later, Schang faced off against Slim Love, which is an absolute 10/10 baseball name. And with Schang batting from the right side this time, he clobbered a solo shot to etch his name into the history books.

Thanks to Schang’s five-RBI slugging bonanza, the Athletics easily trounce the Yankees 8-2 to earn their 30th win on the year.

Unfortunately the Athletics would quickly return to their losing ways. They immediately went on a seven-game losing streak, ultimately finishing the season with a 36-117 record. That .235 winning percentage is the worst in the entire modern era.


Sept. 8, 1965 – Campaneris Plays All 9 Positions


Modern baseball is all about positional flexibility (aka Swiss Army Men, as I like to describe it). One reason why Shohei Ohtani is super valuable is because he essentially frees up a roster spot. Players like Ben Zobrist and DJ LeMahieu are so useful because they can play all over the field and allow you plug up any holes that may arise.

But have you heard of Bert Campaneris? He was an extremely talented athlete. Campaneris regularly led the league in steals, while respectably hitting around .270. Although he didn’t have much power, he did have one Jacoby Ellsbury-esque season, slugging 22 dingers in 1970. He also was a solid defender at short, his primary position throughout his 19-season long career.


If you open up his Baseball Reference page and look at the positions listed each year, you will notice something funny. In almost every season, he only played shortstop. Sometimes he would mix in a few innings at second, third or left field.

Did you notice 1965? That year, Campaneris played every single position. And he did it all in one game on Sept. 8 against the California Angels.

Campaneris played for the Athletics and their owner Charlie Finley, who had a tendency to embrace unique promotions. These range from Mustache Day (you get in free if you have a mustache), sheep grazing behind the outfield fence, and a mule mascot named Charlie-O after himself.

At their best, the Athletics under Finley were a powerhouse, winning three-straight World Series from 1972 to 1974. But during their darkest days, the Athletics sat in a dark and dreary basement.

Finley first bought a share in the team for the 1961 season, and they finished in second-to-last place with a 61-100 record. In his first seven seasons as owner, the Athletics’ best record was 74-86, but they usually came in last.

So in 1965, Finley had a unique idea to draw in more fans: Have fan-favorite Campy Campaneris play all nine positions. Campaneris said yes to the idea after earning a big payday from Finley, who also took out multiple insurance policies on his star shortstop.

Thanks to a lot of hype, the promotion was a success. Despite the Athletics not having any hope of making the playoffs that season, 21,576 fans tuned out to watch the spectacle, their fourth highest single-game attendance in the year.

Each inning saw Campaneris at a new spot. The positional switches went as follows: 6-4-5-7-8-9-3-1-2.

For the first five innings, things went smoothly for Campaneris. He recorded a few assists and put outs, and he even proved productive at the plate. As the leadoff batter, he walked in his first PA and then stole second. A couple batters later, and Ed Charles clobbered a double to drive in Campaneris for the game’s first run.

But with two outs in the sixth and the score tied 1-1, Campaneris made an error and dropped a fly ball in right, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

His time on the mound finally came to be in the eighth as the Athletics were still trailing 2-1. He even pitched ambidextrously, throwing righty to righties and lefty to lefties. Campaneris was shaky, getting a quick fly out to start the inning, but then throwing 10 straight balls. An RBI single from Joe Adcock gave the Angels a 3-1 lead. Campaneris followed that up with a strike-em out, throw-em out double play to get out of trouble.

In the ninth, Campaneris went to catcher, and the Angels really tested him. They tried stealing multiple times, succeeding once. But with runners on the corners and one out, they attempted a double steal. Campaneris gunned the ball to second, getting one out. They then fired the ball back to Campaneris, who held onto the ball despite an intense collision at the plate to retire the side. That would be all of Campaneris for the day as he injured his shoulder and neck in that play.

Just like that, Campaneris had played one inning at every position. But the game wasn’t done there.

The Athletics rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and force it into extras. Three more frustrating innings went by as both teams had chances to score and win the game, but neither could plate a run until the 13th, when the Angels managed to score the two winning runs. The Athletics went by quietly in the bottom half of the inning.

Since Campaneris’ spectacle, four other hitters have played all nine positions in one game, with Andrew Romine most recently accomplishing this in 2017.


Sept. 11, 2009 – Jeter Becomes Yankees Hit King


For 72 years, Lou Gehrig was the Yankees all-time hit king at 2,721. Formidable challengers came and went, from Babe Ruth (2,518) to Mickey Mantle (2,415) to Joe DiMaggio (2,214). But nobody had quite the longevity and durability of the Iron Horse.

That is, until the Yankees drafted a young righty out of Kalamazoo, Mich.

From his rookie year and on, Derek Jeter was as consistent as they come. Only twice did he play in fewer than 100 games in a season. From ’96 to ’08, Jeter averaged 194 hits a season. In baseball’s last full season (2019), just three hitters had more hits than that. In 2018, no batter did so.

Following that ’08 season, Jeter sat at 2,535 for his career. He was already in second place on the all-time Yankees hit list, but he had his eye on No. 1. And he needed just 186 hits to get there.

In 2009, in his age-35 season, Jeter showed that he had not slowed down at all. He recorded the third most steals in his career (30), his fourth best average (.334) and fifth most home runs (18). Not only that, but he came roaring up on Gehrig’s hits record with rapid fury.

During the month of August, Jeter hit a scorching .377/.403/.574 with 46 hits. And entering the Yankees’ Sept. 11 game against the Orioles, Jeter had already tied Gehrig thanks to a three-hit performance the day prior.

A sold-out crowd of 46,771 filled Yankee Stadium on the eighth anniversary of 9/11 to witness this record-breaking moment.

In his first at-bat, Jeter struck out swinging against Chris Tillman. The fans would have to wait a bit longer.

But not too long! Jeter came up again to lead off the third inning. And on a 2 – 0 pitch, Jeter did his classic Jeterian swing, sending the ball through a hole on the right side of the infield to notch No. 2,722.


It seems like Jeter has slapped off that exact hit a thousand times before. And the funny thing is that Jeter would threaten to get another 1,000 hits before he hung up his cleats. From that point on, Jeter would record another 790 hits in the regular season and postseason.

He would ultimately retire with 3,465 in the regular season (sixth most of all time) and another 200 hits in the playoffs (the most ever).


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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