Happy Independence Day, America!
On this day 46 years ago (July 4, 1969), centerfielder Bob Oliver of the Kansas City Royals came up to bat in the eighth inning with the bases loaded against Jim Bouton of the Seattle Pilots. It was a battle of expansion clubs, neither of which were faring well in their first season.
On this day, however, Oliver and the Royals had the baseball Gods on their side. Oliver rolled a 3-6 and hit the split number (17) to club the first Grand Slam in KC Royals history. The Royals went on to beat the Pilots 13-2 that day.
In his book Ball Four, Bouton writes:
It was a terrible day to work. With one pitch I undid all the good work I’ve been doing for weeks. I gave up five earned runs in a big one and one-third innings. I couldn’t get my knuckleball over. I felt uncoordinated on the mound, and I threw one to Gene Oliver [sic] with the bases loaded that spun, and he knocked it over the center-field wall. On the bus some son of a bitch asked me if it was the longest home run I ever gave up.”
I’ve already had an order for a Custom Scorebook for the 1969 Kansas City Royals – who among you will be the first to order a 1969 Seattle Pilots Custom Scorebook and take on a replay of Bouton’s infamous Ball Four year?