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 1986, Don Mattingly became the sixth player ever with three sacrifice flies in a game.

They are fascinating. You don’t have to hit a ball in fair territory to get credit for a sacrifice fly.

The full “On this date …” archive

Kevin Roche

You can get a sacrifice fly while hitting into a double play. You can reach base, and be credited with a sacrifice fly. Sacrifice flies have a long, strange history; they were recognized as an official statistic from 1908 to 1930, then again in 1939, but not continuously until 1954. For today’s installment, we are recognizing sacrifice flies after 1953:

Other baseball notes from May 3

  • In 1904, Hall of Fame pitcher Red Ruffing was born. He is one of the best hitting pitchers of all time: .269 average, 36 homers. More than occasionally, he hit higher than ninth in the order.

  • In 1936, Joe DiMaggio made his major league debut. He would finish his career with 361 homers and 369 strikeouts, never more than 39 in a season.

  • In 1945, second baseman Davey Lopes was born. He, Hank Sauer and Raul Ibanez are the only non-pitchers to hit more homers in their 40s than their 20s.

  • In 1963, catcher Joe Kmak was born. We always wondered whether he could borrow a vowel from pitchers Ed or Nelson Figueroa.

  • In 1977, pitcher Ryan Dempster was born. He is so funny. He has done professional stand-up comedy. In 1986, pitcher Homer Bailey was born. He looks exactly like actor Christian Bale. “My mom told me that,” he said. “He’s a good looking guy, so I’ll take it.” On this date in 2012, Dempster and Bailey started against each other. It is believed to be the only time that two pitchers started a game against each other on their shared birthday.