Posts By Bob Toth
In a promotional event gone awry, the Cleveland Indians are forced to forfeit their game against the Texas Rangers as the “10-cent beer night” promotion leads to fan unruliness and a violent playing environment at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
Baseball was once known as the perfect game, a religion unto itself, lived and breathed and romanticized by those willing to follow along with the most cerebral of games played. Though full of its own perfections, it is not without flaws that come to the surface. Ten years ago this week, the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers played out a game marred by one such umpire ruling that drastically and directly altered a historic event in the making.
On June 2, 2010, Comerica Park was set to play host to the second of three games in a series between the visiting Cleveland Indians and the home Detroit Tigers. It was the third meeting of the clubs that season and the second time the Tribe had headed north to play their division rivals. Armando Galarraga drew the starting nod for the Tigers, looking to fend off the Tribe and its rebounding right-hander Fausto Carmona.
The Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga is robbed of his perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a blown call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce, as Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald is ruled safe on the infield single that wasn’t in a 3-0 one-hit shutout.
Dennis Eckersley’s stay in Cleveland was curiously short, but in his three seasons with the Indians, he gave the club glimpses of what ultimately became a Hall of Fame career.
Eckersley entered the pro game in 1972 when the Indians drafted the Washington Union High School (Fremont, California) in the third round of the June amateur draft. The 17-year-old stayed fairly close to home early on, reporting to the team’s Reno, Nevada, affiliate in the California League. He made 12 appearances there in 1972 and 31 more in 1973, including a 15-strikeout performance in eight innings in a particularly dominant outing. Between seasons, he married his high school sweetheart, Denise, whom he had met during their freshmen year of high school at Washington High.
At the age of 19, Eckersley moved on to San Antonio, pitching in the Double-A Texas League while showing steady improvement in his numbers. He was the top vote getter for the Texas League All-Star Game after a 13-3 start and was named the league’s pitcher of the year. It was enough to catch the eye of the Indians’ front office, which brought him to spring camp in 1975 with a chance to win a job.
It’s the kind of event that almost 30 years later seems improbable and remains one of the more bizarre home runs hit in the storied history of Major League Baseball.
Players have crashed into walls and over walls attempting to reel in deep flies, but the list of persons which can claim Jose Canseco’s experience with this particular memory and claim to fame has to be limited (although it has been, unfortunately, duplicated in recent years). Canseco, who mashed 462 homers in the big leagues over the course of a 17-year career (tarnished by performance enhancing allegations), never hit a home run that was quite as memorable to the one in question popped over the outfield fence in Cleveland in 1993.