40th anniversary: San Diego and the Curse of Don Zimmer

There are plenty of moments fans of the San Diego Padres would like to have back in order to do over. But few, if any, of those moments can top the one that happened 40 years ago today, when pitcher Steve Arlin didn’t throw a no-hitter, but should have.

On July 18, 1972, the Padres hosted the Phillies in a battle of the two worst teams in the league. Arlin took the hill that day for San Diego, and though he’d led the league in losses the year before, that had more to do with poor run support than himself. Though not a great pitcher, he was a serviceable one.

In fact, he could be quite good. Just 12 days earlier he threw 10 innings of one-hit ball but got a no-decision. (San Diego eventually won 1-0 over the Mets in 14 innings). Clearly, there was some talent in Arlin’s arm.

Today was one of Arlin’s talented days. Through four innings, he’d allowed just one baserunner on a first-inning walk. He walked another man in the fifth and a third in the sixth, but that’s all the Phillies batters could manage. Through eight innings, they hadn’t gotten a single man to second base and, more importantly, hadn’t gotten a single hit.

The Padres were just in their fourth year of existence, and Arlin now stood on the verge of completing the first no-hitter in franchise history.

Leading off the ninth, pinch hitter Deron Johnson lined out to third. Arlin was now just two outs away.

Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa came up next and hit a floater to second for the 26th out. Steve Arlin was just one man away from a bit of history.

In the dugout, Padres manager Don Zimmer wanted to be sure he could help his man get it. He was afraid that the batter coming up, Denny Doyle, might try to cross San Diego up to break up the no-hitter. Fearing an attempted bunt single, Zimmer ordered third baseman Dave Roberts to play in. This was an odd move, especially given that Doyle had neither much speed nor much bunting prowess. But Zimmer wasn’t leaving it for chance.

Instead, of course, Zimmer left a much bigger possibility to chance, and it promptly backfired on him.

Doyle didn’t lay down a bunt. Instead, he swung and connected. The ball went just over Roberts head, right to where he would have been if he’d been fielding his position normally. It should have been a no-hitter clinching out. Instead, it was the single that broke it up.

Apparently flustered, Arlin then balked and allowed a single that scored a run. But he held on for the complete game win, 5-1. That improved him to 8-10 on the year. Hopefully, he’d hold on to the memory of the win because, pitching in front on San Diego’s anemic offense, he dropped his next 10 decisions and led the league in losses for the second straight year.

It was much worse going forward for the Padres franchise. They had hoped to post their first no-hitter on that day 40 years ago today. Not only did they fail to do so then, but they still haven’t since.

Every single other team has thrown at least one no-hitter, except for the Padres. In nearly 7,000 games, the Padres have thrown 25 one-hitters, but no no-hitters. Even the teams that came along in the 1990s have done that.

Call it the Curse of Don Zimmer. He prevented the Padres from doing it on July 18, 1972, and on July 18, 2012 the club still seeks to break the curse.

Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim over things.


3,000 days since Frank Catalanotto of Toronto gets six hits in one game, the first time that had ever happened in franchise history.

4,000 days since Bobby Cox manages his 3,000th game. His record is 1,679-1,319.

4,000 days since Larry Walker cranks his 300th home run.

4,000 days since the Mariners blow a 12-run lead, losing 15-14 to the Indians in 11 innings.

5,000 days since Catfish Hunter announces he has Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

6,000 days since the A’s trade uber-closer Dennis Eckersley to the Cardinals.

8,000 days since Bo Jackson comes off the DL and homers in his first at-bat. As it happens, he homered in his last three at-bats before his injury, giving him a record-tying four homers in four at-bats. Randy Johnson surrenders this one.

9,000 days since 1930s slugger Babe Herman dies.

15,000 days since Tom Seaver swats an eighth-inning homer to lead the Mets to a 2-1 win over Montreal.

20,000 days since the Cardinals release veterans Murry Dickson and Walker Cooper.


1881 Veteran skippers Harry Wright and Bob Ferguson square off against each other for the 100th time. It’s the first time any two managers have gone against each other 100 times.

1884 Catcher Chief Zimmer makes his big league debut.

1889 Longtime catcher Silver Flint plays in his last game.

1890 Jumbo Davis hits for the cycle.

1906 Cy Falkenberg of Washington becomes the first pitcher of the 20th century to club a grand slam.

1906 Ty Cobb leaves the Tigers on the road and heads back to Detroit. He’s reportedly suffering from stomach trouble, but reports have swirled that he’s going to a sanitarium for mental exhaustion.

1912 Gavvy Cravath steals home in the 11th inning for a Phillies 9-8 win against the Cubs. Chicago sets a record with 21 hits in a loss.

1912 Cy Williams, the second man ever to hit 200 home runs, makes his big league debut.

1916 Cub pitcher Hippo Vaughn refuses to pitch in the 10th inning due to sign stealing by baserunners of the opposing Dodgers club. Umpire Lord Byron forfeits the game to Brooklyn.

1920 Jack Coombs, who won 30 games in a season once, pitches in his last game.

1921 There’s a new home run champion of all time, and his name is Babe Ruth. He swats No. 139 to pass previous leader Roger Connor. The ball reportedly goes over 550 feet against Detroit’s Howard Ehmke.

1921 The Black Sox trial begins in Chicago.

1923 Yankees right fielder Elmer Smith gets the only unassisted double play by an outfielder in franchise history. It’s a shallow liner with the runner on first taking off with the pitch.

1923 Rogers Hornsby enjoys his 13th consecutive multi-hit game. He’s 33-for-56 in the span with seven doubles, two triples, and three homers. His AVG/OBP/SLG line is .589/.610/.946.

1927 Mel Ott hits his first home run, an inside-the-park shot. He’ll end his career with two inside-the-park homers among his 511 dingers.

1928 Babe Ruth smashes the ninth of his 12 career walk-off home runs.

1929 NL President John Heydler orders umpires to rub new balls before each game to remove gloss and help hitters.

1930 Chuck Klein’s hitting streak ends at 26 games.

1931 Jimmie Foxx gets the first of his 17 career grand slams.

1932 In the first game of a Senators-Tigers doubleheader, Washington’s Ossie Bluege walks five times in one game.

1932 A Lou Gehrig line drive hits Babe Ruth, who has to be taken off the field in an ambulance. He’ll miss 10 days. The Yankees lose a tough one, 15-14 to the Indians.

1936 The White Sox’s Rip Radcliff becomes the first man in franchise history to get six hits game. Chicago tops Philadelphia, 21-14, the highest scoring game in AL history to that point. Star White Sox shortstop Luke Appling is hit by a pitch in the contest, something that last happened to him five years and 13 days before.

1939 The Boston Red Sox make a terrible move, selling Pee Wee Reese to Brooklyn for $75,000.

1939 White Sox owner J. Louis Comiskey, son of Charles Comiskey, dies at age 56 in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

1940 Joe Torre, future Hall of Famer, is born.

1944 Rudy May, pitcher who lasts a while, is born.

1947 Ted Williams goes 5-for-5 in his career for the first time. He’ll do it just one more time.

1947 The Yankees lose, ending a 19-game winning streak. Only 28 men even come to the plate as Detroit’s Fred Hutchinson shuts them down, 8-0.

1947 Willard Marshall hits three consecutive homers in one game for the Giants.

1948 Ralph Kiner hits his 100th home run.

1948 Chicago’s Pat Seerey this four home runs in Chicago’s 12-11 win over the A’s in 11 innings.

1948 Young Philadelphia hurler Robin Roberts has a disastrous ending to today’s game, losing it on back-to-back hit-by-pitches. One loads the bases, and the other gives the Cubs a walk-off, 3-2 win.

1949 Jackie Robinson goes to Washington, DC to testify before Congress’ House of Un-American Activities Committee. Robinson says America’s blacks would fight for their nation against the Soviet Union, contradicting what singer Paul Robeson said earlier. After the testimony, Robinson rejoins the team and steals home against the Cubs.

1951 Ralph Kiner hits three homers in one game. It’s the fourth time he’s done it. Pittsburgh needs all three from him today as they narrowly top Brooklyn, 13-12.

1952 The Cardinals rally from a 11-0 deficit after three innings to top the Giants, 14-12.

1953 Warren Hacker of the Cubs becomes the first pitcher to allow three home runs in an outing without recording a single out.

1953 Enos Slaughter joins the 2,000 hit club.

1953 For the third consecutive game, the Dodgers hit a grand slam. Wayne Belardi does it today, whoever the hell he is. Gil Hodges and Billy Cox did it earlier.

1953 Monte Irvin legs out his only inside-the-park home run in the major leagues.

1954 St. Louis forfeits the game to Philadelphia. The Cardinals engage in excessive stalling of the game in the fifth inning, and then a fight broke out.

1955 Joe Adcock and Ruben Gomez have a memorable fight. Gomez hits Adcock on the wrist with a pitch. Adcock charges the mound, and Gomez gets the ball again and hits Adcock in the leg with it. Adcock chases him into the clubhouse, where it ends with Gomez supposedly pulling a gun, knife, or ice pick on Adcock (depending on which version of the story you believe).

1956 Bob Feller fans for the 500th time at the plate. He’s only the third pitcher to do that, joining Pud Galvin and Lefty Grove. Since then, only Milt Pappas has joined the club.

1957 Stan Musial smacks his 600th career double.

1957 Two Cubs hit inside-the-park home runs today at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field: Ernie Banks and Chuck Tanner. Chicago wins, 6-5.

1957 Indians left fielder Gene Woodling throws out two runners in the first inning, but Cleveland loses to Washington anyway, 4-0.

1957 Gil Hodges hits his 12th career grand slam, tying the NL record shared by Rogers Hornsby and Ralph Kiner.

1957 Giants owner Horace Stoneham says the team will depart New York after the season. He says it’s not contingent upon the Brooklyn Dodgers also leaving.

1957 A’s owner Arnold Johnson denies before the Cellar Committee that he has any ties to Yankee ownership or that he favors them in his trades.

1958 Red Sox starting pitcher Bill Monbouquette makes his big league debut.

1959 Orioles catcher Myron Ginsbert allows four passed balls. The pitcher is knuckleballerHoyt Wilhelm, of course.

1960 The NL votes to expand to 10 teams if the Continental League doesn’t join organized baseball.

1960 Terry Turner, star third baseman in the early 20th century, dies.

1961 Bill White of the Cardinals continues a torrid hitting streak. Between today’s doubleheader and another one yesterday against the Cubs, he’s 14-for-18 at the plate.

1961 Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, and Joe Torre perform a triple steal versus Cincinnati. Aaron steals home.

1962 Two Twins hit grand slams in the first inning today, by Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew.

1963 Dale Long, who set a record for most consecutive games with a home run, appears in his last game.

1963 Mike Greenwell, outfielder, is born.

1964 Pete Rose drives in six runs in one game, his all-time most. He’s 4-for-4 with a double and home run. The homer is his only career grand slam, which comes against pitcher Dallas Green.

1964 Warren Spahn logs his 5,000th inning.

1965 Twins manager Sam Mele is fined $500 and suspended five games for an altercation with umpire Bill Valentine in a recent doubleheader with the Angels.

1967 The Pirates fire manager Harry Walker, leading to Danny Murtaugh’s second stint at their skipper.

1969 With Tommy John on the mound, White Sox outfielders record zero putouts in a 6-1 win over the Royals.

1969 Houston takes a 9-0 lead against Cincinnati only to lose, 10-9.

1970 Willie Mays becomes the 10th member of the 3,000-hit club. Already in it are Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Paul Waner, and Hank Aaron.

1970 Harmon Killebrew homers in his fifth straight game. He did the same thing two months earlier, and he also did it in 1964, too.

1971 For the only time in his career, veteran pitcher Milt Pappas steals a base.

1973 Steve Rogers, the all-time winningest pitcher in Expos/Nationals history, makes his big league debut.

1975 Walter Alston wins his 2,000th game as manager. He’s the sixth member of the club, joining Connie Mack, John McGraw, Bucky Harris, Joe McCarthy, and Leo Durocher.

1975 Boston’s Jim Rice hits a home run that team owner Tom Yawkey says is the longest he’s ever seen. It’s just the sixth blast to clear the centerfield wall.

1975 Torii Hunter is born.

1978 Don Sutton wins his 200th game, giving him a record of 200-152.

1978 Highly talented but fragile-armed Ben Sheets is born.

1983 Philadelphia fires manager Pat Corrales. It’s an odd firing because they’re in first place, but then again it’s an odd first place because they are 43-42. Team GM Paul Owens becomes manager, and he’ll guide them to the pennant.

1984 Slick-fielding third baseman Terry Pendleton makes his big league debut.

1985 Rick Reuschel sets a personal best with his 13th straight Quality Start, a feat he’ll later equal but never better. His line in this span: 13 GS, 6-2 W-L, 89.1 IP, 75 H, 22 R, 22 ER, 28 BB, 56 K, and a 2.22 ERA.

1986 Jack Morris posts his third straight complete-game shutout. He’s walked four and allowed a dozen hits while fanning 27 in this span. Today’s game gives him his best-ever Game Score: 92. He walks a pair, allows two hits, and fans 11.

1986 The Royals announce that manager Dick Howser will miss the rest of the season to undergo treatment for a brain tumor. He’ll soon die from it.

1987 Don Mattingly ties Dale Long’s old record by homering in his eighth straight game.

1989 For the 15th and final time in his career, Bert Blyleven wins a 1-0 game with a complete-game shutout. Only Walter Johnson has more such victories.

1989 At age 35, Donnie Moore shoots his wife and then commits suicide.

1989 Roger Clemens walks in a run for the first time in over four years. It last happened to him on April 11, 1985, which is 1,047 innings earlier.

1990 The third collusion decision is handed down and, as was the case the first two times, arbitrator George Nicolau finds on behalf of the players.

1990 After 13 consecutive starts without a win, Greg Maddux finally ends his eight-game losing streak. The day gives him 50 career victories for a 50-47 career record.

1990 One day after the Twins pull off two triple plays against the Red Sox, the Boston defense pulls off six double plays against Minnesota.

1993 Jeff Kent has the first of 20 career multi-home run games.

1993 The Padres trade Fred McGriff to Atlanta for three players.

1994 MLB suspends Albert Belle for 10 games for using a corked bat. His bat had been confiscated by umpires following a July 14 game in Chicago.

1994 The Cardinals take a 11-0 lead against Houston only to see the Astros rally for a 15-12 win.

1994 The Players Association rejects a salary cap proposal.

1994 For the only time in his career, Tim Raines hits a pair of sacrifice bunts in one game.

1995 Umpires eject the Abilene Prairie Dogs public address announcer for reading a commercial for Lens Crafters right after an on-field argument and ejection of a player.

1996 Eddie Murray hits his ninth and final walk-off home run, which is his only pinch-hit walk-off shot.

1997 Roger Clemens has his best start according to WPA: 0.839. It’s a 1-,0 complete-game shutout two-hitter.

1998 Cincinnati retires the number for Ted Kluszewski.

1999 Dusty Baker manages his 1,000th game, giving him a record of 523-477.

1999 David Cone throws a perfect game for a 6-0 Yankee win over the Expos.

2001 Bobby Bonilla gets his 2,000th career hit.

2001 At Tiger Stadium, a fan reaches for a foul ball, only to have his pistol fall out of his holster and onto the field. He picks it up. He’s an off-duty member of the police there.

2001 Jeff Bagwell hits for the cycle.

2001 Randy Johnson fans 16 in relief against the Padres, the most ever. He throws seven innings, technically in relief. It’s a weird one. A game two days earlier had to be postponed after two innings due to an explosion in the left field light tower.

2001 A Rangers-Orioles game is postponed due to a train with toxic chemicals on it derailing. They’ll have to postpone tomorrow’s game, too.

2003 Arizona trades Tony Womack to Colorado.

2003 Texas trades Ryan Ludwick to Cleveland for Ricardo Rodriguez and Shane Spencer.

2003 Ichiro Suzuki hits his first North American grand slam.

2005 The Mets release Benito Santiago, marking the end of his line.

2006 Carlos Beltran hits a grand slam, just two days after he hit another one. He’ll get a third on July 30. Not a bad stretch he’s on.

2006 Andruw Jones has maybe the best game of his career, going 5-for-5 with a double and two homers. His three runs and six RBIs help the Braves trounce the Cardinals, 15-5.

2008 CC Sabathia tosses a complete-game victory for Milwaukee in the Brewers’ first game after the All-Star break. He also had a complete game win for them in their last game before the break. The last pitcher to have complete-game wins in back-to-back games was Wilbur Wood for the White Sox in 1975.

2009 The Marlins break ground on Marlins Park, their new home.

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Chris J.
10 years ago

Michael – that should say a first inning walk. 

That’s a bad error on my part, writing down the wrong word like that.  Sorry about that.

Bob Evans
10 years ago

I think it’s really the Curse of Preston Gomez being perpetuated.  In 1970, Gomez removed Clay Kirby from the game while he was pitching a no-hitter.  The reliever gave up three hits.

Detroit Michael
10 years ago

Looks like the Pitch F/X blog was removed from the Hardball Times home page.  Too bad—the content was great even if the posts were infrequent.

Michael Vickers
10 years ago

“Today was one of Arlin’s talented days. Through four innings, he’d allowed just one baserunner on a first-inning single. He walked another man in the fifth and a third in the sixth, but that’s all the Phillies batters could manage. Through eight innings, they hadn’t gotten a single man to second base and, more importantly, hadn’t gotten a single hit.”

May want to reconcile the first-inning single with not allowing a hit through eight innings?