You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.
ON THIS DATE IN 1996, we said hello to The Brady Bunch
Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson hit a leadoff home run for a fourth consecutive game, a major league record. He would finish that season with 50 homers, more than any Oriole had ever hit, and 26 more than he would hit in any season of his 15-year career. During his leadoff home run barrage, I talked to him pregame at the bat rack at Oriole Park.
The full “On this date …” archive
“The corked bats are in the bag over there,” he said, laughing.
Anderson was fun to cover because you never knew what he might say — or do.
In 1989, I told him that he was leading all leadoff hitters in slugging. He responded, “I floss more than any leadoff hitter.” When he met O.J. Simpson for the first time (pre-O.J. trials), Anderson approached him on the running track at USC and said, “O.J., loved you in ‘Towering Inferno.”’
When a radio talk show host in Baltimore said that he could throw better than Orioles outfielder Mike Devereaux, Anderson demanded that the radio guy go out to shallow to medium right field and make a throw to the plate. When the ball stopped rolling, it wasn’t even close to reaching the plate.
“Don’t you ever say you can throw better than a big league outfielder!” Anderson said.
In July 1992, Anderson was having a tremendous season. He was seated at an outdoor restaurant in Baltimore after a game when he was approached during dinner by some young guy.
“He tells me while I am eating that he was a high school sprint champ in Pennsylvania, and he could blow my doors off whenever he wanted,” Anderson said.
So, Anderson, in the middle of a season in which he was in the hunt for the American League MVP award, went into the restaurant parking lot, took off his shirt and raced this young guy three times, crushing him three times.
Brady Anderson was not a one-year wonder; he was a good player for most his career. He was wildly athletic, he had great power and great speed, and he was in unbelievable shape — and he still is at age 56. But one season, he was hitting .178 in May, the worst start to a season in his career. He went out after a game with teammate Rene Gonzales. It was 1:30 a.m. They were driving way too fast on one-lane roads. It was raining, and Anderson finally looked at his friend and said, “Gonz, if I wasn’t hitting .179, I’d ask you to slow down.”
Other baseball notes from April 21
In 2012, the White Sox’s Philip Humber pitched a perfect game. It was the only complete game of his career. The last pitcher before Humber to throw a perfect game was Dallas Braden in 2010. It was the first complete game of Braden’s career.
In 2016, Jake Arrieta pitched a no-hitter, beating the Reds 16-0. A few years earlier, Brady Anderson, at the Orioles’ spring training facility, asked Arrieta to walk on his hands. So, Arrieta walked across the room on his hands.
In 2019, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo hit the first sacrifice fly of his career. It came in his 1,337th plate appearance. He hit 96 homers in the major leagues before he hit a sacrifice fly. The previous record for most homers before hitting a sacrifice fly was 50 by Wily Mo Pena.
In 1937, Gary Peters was born. In 2,080 ⅔ innings, he never gave up a grand slam. But he hit one. In 1988, I was in the press box during spring training in Miami. A local writer asked no one in particular who the next-day pitcher was for the White Sox. I jokingly said, “Gary Peters and Joel Horlen.” Both guys played 50 years ago, and they hadn’t pitched in years. The next day in the Miami Herald, in the upper, right-hand corner of the sports page, were the probable pitchers for the White Sox that day: Gary Peters and Joel Horlen. Yikes.