Walkoffs, Last Licks and Final Outs: Baseball's Grand (and no-so-grand) Finales is a new book co-authored by Bill Chuck and former Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jim Kaplan that takes a look at the stories behind some of the most memorable and bizarre occurrences in baseball history. To order the book, go to actasports.com.
The following excerpt comes from the book's final chapter, which deals with famous "Lasts" and "Onlys" in the game's rich past. Such as...
...Negro league player to make the major leagues
Ike Brown became the last Negro league player to make it to the major leagues when he joined the Detroit Tigers on June 17, 1969.
...and only New York Yankee to wear the same numbers as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez
The center of this New York Yankees maelstrom was Cliff Mapes. In 1948, the rookie Mapes was the last to wear Babe Ruth's number 3 before it was retired on June 13, 1948. He then became the first Yankee to wear Alex Rodriguez' number 13.
In 1949, 1950 and 1951, Mapes wore Mickey Mantle's number 7. Mantle, who originally wore 6, was sent down to Triple-A in July, 1951, because he was slumping. When he returned in August, he was given number 7, which remained his number for the remainder of his career. The Yankees retired number 7 on Mickey Mantle Day, June 8, 1969.
...and only player to wear his birthday on his uniform
The younger brother of Lee May, Carlos May batted .274 from 1968-77, primarily with the Chicago White Sox. Carlos May wore number 17 most of his career, and his uniform read "May 17." He was born on May 17, 1948.
...American League pitcher to hit before the advent of the designated hitter
Wednesday, October 4, 1972, was the last day of games with American League pitchers coming to the plate. Closing the regular season on the west coast, the first-place Oakland Athletics faced the California Angels and Nolan Ryan, who sought his 20th win of the season. Despite pitching a complete game, striking out 10 and allowing only one earned run, Ryan lost, 2-1. At the plate he was 0-for-3, and when he struck out against Joel Horlen in the bottom of the seventh. He was the last pitcher to hit in the pre-designated hitter American League.
...and longest wait for a last lick
Paul Schreiber pitched briefly for Brooklyn in 1922 and 1923, appearing in 10 games before coming up with a sore arm. He was only twenty years old that last season, and he wanted another shot at the Show so badly he spent the rest of the decade in the minor leagues. After pitching for Allentown in 1931, he gave up. For most players that would be the end of the story, but it wasn't for Schreiber. By 1945, players were returning to action after World War II. The first-place Detroit Tigers came into Yankee Stadium for a seven-game series on September 4 with a record of 72-54-1. The Yanks were 67-58 and had won 11 of their last 14 games. Figuring he needed every available arm and impressed by the knuckler he'd developed, New York manager Joe McCarthy activated his batting-practice pitcher, Paul Schreiber, when the rosters expanded a few days earlier.
By the sixth inning the Tigers, behind homers from Roger Cramer and Hank Greenberg, had a 10-0 lead. This was a perfect time for the forty-two-year-old Schreiber. After nine years as a batting-practice pitcher, fourteen years since his last competitive appearance in a game, and twenty-two years since his last major league game, Schreiber came on to pitch with two outs in the fifth and struck out Paul Richards. In fact, Schreiber went the rest of the way, pitching 4 1/3 innings of hitless ball, walking two in the ninth but escaping without a run. He walked back to the dugout to a rousing cheer from the fans.
No one before or since has ever been out of the majors for as long as Schreiber had and then returned to the game. He didn't have to wait long for his second and final appearance. He pitched one more inning on Sept. 8, 1945, again against the Tigers.
...and only pitcher to throw shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader
On September 26, 1908, the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates were half a game behind the Chicago Cubs for the lead in the National League. Cub pitchers were exhausted as they prepared to face the Brooklyn Superbas (soon to be called the Dodgers) in a critical doubleheader at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.
Chicago's Ed Reulbach took the mound in the first game, played in the morning, and allowed just five Dodger hits to beat Kaiser Wilhelm, 5-0. Reulbach pitched the afternoon game too, and halted the Dodgers on three hits and a walk, shutting down Jim Pastorius, 3-0. The second game took just seventy-two minutes to play. Thanks to Reulbach's 24-7 record (including nine wins against Brooklyn and a 2.03 overall ERA) the Cubs won the pennant after a one-game playoff with the Giants.
...bounce home run
In 1926, Major League Baseball Rule 6.09 stated, "It is a ground-rule double instead of a home run if the ball is hit over the fence in fair territory if the fence is less than 250 feet from home plate."
In 1931, Rule 6.09 said, "A fair ball that bounces through or over a fence or into the stands is considered a ground-rule double instead of a home run."
When the Brooklyn Dodgers' Al Lopez drove one over the head of Cincinnati Reds left fielder Bob Meusel, and the ball bounced into the bleachers at Ebbets Field for a home run on September 12, 1930, he hit the last "bounce" homer in baseball history.
And no, Babe Ruth never hit one.
...and only walk-off, inside-the-park home run
On August 27, 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies played the San Francisco Giants at home. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Bobby Abreu hit a home run to tie the game 1-1. In the bottom of the 10th, Abreu hit a walk-off , inside-the park homer to give the Phils a 2-1 victory the only walk-off inside-the-park homer.
...and only bookend home runs
Many players hit home runs in their first at-bat in the big leagues, many homer in their last at-bat, but the only player to do both was John Miller. On September 11, 1966, the New York Yankees' Miller hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat, against Lee Stange of the Boston Red Sox. After batting .087 for the season, he didn't return to the big leagues until 1969, when he hit .211 in 26 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his last official at-bat (he walked in one additional plate appearance), Miller blasted a pinch-hit home run off the Cincinnati Reds' Jim Merritt on Sept. 23. These were the only home runs of his career.
...Only player to earn a hit with two different teams on the same day
Joel Youngblood was the only major league player to hit with two different teams on the same day -- the New York Mets in the afternoon, the Montreal Expos in the evening. On August 4, 1982, Youngblood started in centerfield for the Mets, who were playing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. In the third inning, Youngblood broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run, bases-loaded single off Cubs starter Ferguson Jenkins. At the completion of that inning, Youngblood was pulled from the game and told that he had been traded to the Montreal Expos for a player to be named later (it turned out to be pitcher Tom Gorman).
"We hoped to make the deal by game time," Mets general manager Frank Cashen told the New York Times. "But there was a phone circuit problem, and we couldn't complete it. [Mets manager George] Bamberger asked me what to do with Youngblood, and I told him to go ahead and start him, we'd take a chance on his getting hurt." Youngblood headed to Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, where his new team, the Expos, was playing the Phillies. He arrived during the third inning. He entered the game in the sixth as a defensive replacement, and in his only at-bat singled off Steve Carlton.
"I heard in the third inning that I was traded," Youngblood said. "I made plane reservations [with] minutes to spare. I had dinner in the plane and caught a cab here. It's funny, I left there in the third and got here in the third."
Not only did Youngblood have two hits for two different teams on the same day...both came off future Hall of Fame pitchers.
...and only tripleheader
The only tripleheader in the modern era took place at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field (there were two tripleheaders in the nineteenth century). The Pirates hosted the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, October 2, 1920, for three very cold games. (The teams already had been scheduled to play a Saturday doubleheader; Sunday games were prohibited in Pittsburgh.)
In 1933, while sitting through a rainout, then-Chicago Cubs manager Charlie Grimm recalled the experience to a New York Times columnist. Grimm played for the Pirates in 1920:
"It was toward the end of the season. And we could gain third place from Cincinnati if we played all our games and we won them, and at that time the first three teams shared in World Series money. The only way we could fit them all in was if we played three in one day in Pittsburgh. Talk about the longest day in the year; that was the longest day of any year if you ask me.
The Reds won the first game 13-4, beating Wilbur Cooper and Whitey Glazner, clinching third place and making the remaining games meaningless. They won the second game 7-3, beating Guy Zinn. The Pirates won the third game, shortened to six innings by darkness, 6-0, behind Jug Handle Johnny Morrison. Five players appeared in all three games -- Clyde Barnhart, Cotton Tierney and Fred Nicholson of the Pirates and Pat Duncan and Morrie Rath of the Reds. Reds catcher Ivey Wingo played the only two games of his career at second base in the nightcaps. Reds pitcher Hod Eller played the only game of his career at second base in Game 2 (he played first in Game 3). Following that afternoon, the National League directors ruled out tripleheaders unless they are necessary to determine a championship.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, without which this book couldn't have been written, the last player alphabetically to play in the major leagues, making his debut on August 14, 1910, for the Chicago White Sox, was outfielder Dutch Zwilling. Finishing his career with a .284 average in 167 games, Zwilling played his final game for the crosstown Chicago Cubs on July 12, 1916.