1996 April

1st At Riverfront Stadium, umpire John McSherry calls time from behind the plate and collapses on the field with a massive heart attack and dies. The popular McSherry, a veteran of 21 seasons, had been suffering from a series of medical problems, aggravated by his weight of 328 pounds. The game, just 7 pitches old between the Reds and Expos, is called, though owner Marge Schott feels otherwise: “Snow this morning and now this. I don’t believe it. I feel cheated. This isn’t supposed to happen to us, not in Cincinnati. This is our history, our tradition, our team. Nobody feels worse than me.” Schott, who will later apologize, says it with flowers instead.  But the Dayton Daily News will report on the 28th that the flowers she sends were given to her by a television station covering the Reds.

The Athletics open the season in Las Vegas since renovations to the Oakland Coliseum are still not finished. The night game with the Blue Jays at Cashman Field, with a seating of 9,553, draws just 7,294 and the Jays take advantage of a 25-mile-an hour wind to hit 3 homers and win, 9–6. It is the first time since September 3, 1957 that major league teams have played in a minor league park.

The New York Mets spot the Cardinals 6 runs, then roar back for a 7–6 win, the biggest Opening Day comeback this century.

Snow postpones the Yankee opener in Cleveland.

2nd At Baltimore, President Clinton tosses out the first ball and then watches Cal Ripken drive in 3 runs to give the Orioles a 4–2 win over the Royals.

The Mets announce that Bill Pulsipher will miss the 1996 season. The 22-year-old lefty experienced arm pain while throwing on March 28th, and results from an MRI indicate torn ligaments in his left arm, necessitating surgery April 17.

Cecil Fielder pulls a belated April fool’s joke on the Twins when, in the 9th inning, he takes off for 2nd base with a 3-2 count on Melvin Nieves and beats the throw from catcher Greg Myers. Fielder’s swipe is his first in 1,096 games in the majors. Tiger rookie RHP Clint Sodowsky allows 7 hits in 5 innings in his debut, and the Tigers win 10–6.

In the opener, Milwaukee has 22 hits including homers by Greg Vaughn and Jose Valentin, to outscore the Twins, 15–9. Valentin and Chuck Carr have 4 hits apiece. Other hitting in the game includes Vaughn getting plunked in the 8th inning, and Brewers Kevin Wickender retaliating in the bottom of the inning by hitting Garret Anderson. Both benches then clear for the traditional scrum in the center of the infield. Seven homers are hit, including a grand slam by Jim Edmonds, in the 37 total hits in the game.

3rd The Padres beat the Cubs, 7–5, with Joey Hamilton picking up his first win of the year (5 IP) and his first hit in 3 years. Hamilton had been 0-for-57 at the plate, one of the worst offensive starts in ML history. Tony Gwynn is 4-for-4, while Caminiti has 4 RBIs, 3 on a HR. Ausmus, Joyner, Servais and Sosa all hit homers. Frank Castillo is the loser.

     The College of St. Francis sets 71 records with a 71-1 four-inning defeat of Robert Morris College. The Fighting Saints score 26 runs in the 1st inning, 22 more in the 2nd, 4 in the 3rd and 19 in the 4th, collecting 44 hits along the way. 1st baseman Brian Mazurek hits for the cycle, while freshman SS Mike Palermo ties an NAIA record with 7 hits. LF Mike Holcomb sets a NCAA mark with 9 runs scored.

5th The Kansas City Royals unveil their new mascot Sluggerrr a crown-wearing lion, who cheers as the Royals edge the Red Sox, 5-4, in 12 innings. Johnny Damon has 3 RBIs and Tom Goodwin scores the winning run after stealing 2B and 3B.

Jim Bullinger allows no runs in 8 innings and is one of four players with 2 RBIs as the Cubs trim the Dodgers, 11-1.

6th Chan Ho Park becomes the first South Korean to win in the majors, pitching 4 scoreless innings in relief of injured starter Ramon Martinez as the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 3–1, at Wrigley.

Padres pitching prospect Matt LaChappa, 20, suffers a massive heart attack while warming up for the Rancho Cucamunga Quakes.

Warming up in the outfield before the Indians’ game with Toronto, Albert Belle heaves a ball at photographer Tony Tomsic, hitting him. Belle contends that it wasn’t deliberate, even though it was his second throw near Tomsic, and even though he warned the photog not to snap his picture. The league will open an investigation in two weeks and Tomsic will file a law suit on December 12th. The Indians win the game, defeating the Blue Jays, 5–3.

Terry Pendleton hits a game-ending homer leading off the 10th to give Florida a 1-0 win over the Giants. Mark Dewey, in relief of starter Mark Leiter who went 9 innings, serves up the gopher.

Tiger CF Melvin Nieves bangs two doubles, a triple and a homer as the Tigers top the A’s, 6–1. Nieves was acquired from the Padres in a spring training trade.

The Twins hand the Orioles their first loss of the year, topping the O’s, 8–3. Cal Ripken fumbles a grounder in the 5th inning stopping his errorless streak at 74 games.

At the Astrodome, Ken Caminiti of the Padres belts a 2-out grand slam in the 13th, off Alvin Morman, and San Diego beats Houston, 8-4.

Paul Sorrento has a grand slam and a 2-run homer, both off Steve Sparks, to pace Seattle to an 8-5 win over Milwaukee. Randy Johnson pitches into the 7thfor the win.

7th Mark Carreon drives home 6 runs on 2 homers, one a grand slam, to lead the Giants to a 14–7 gaffing of the Marlins.  Jeff Conine and Andre Dawson, with his 30th 4-hit game, each have 4 hits for the Fish. The win goes to Steve Bougeois, who wins his first in the majors with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

Aussie Craig Shipley is 5-for-5 to lead the Padres to a 17–2 downing of the Astros. Sean Bergman wins his first in the NL by allowing just 2 hits in 8 innings. Brian Johnson adds 5 RBI for the Pads.

Phillies catcher-turned left fielder Darren Daulton goes on the DL because of pain in his right knee, which was reconstructed during the off-season. Daulton has had the left knee operated on 8 times during his 12-year-career.

8th The NL announces that 325-pound umpire Eric Gregg has been granted a leave of absence so he can enter a weight loss program.

9th Before an estimated crowd of 50,000, the Yankees snowball the Royals, 7–3, behind Andy Pettitte. The final tally is 7 runs, 10 hits, and 2 inches—of snow.

Cecil Fielder clubs a grand slam, one of three Tiger homers, in Detroit’s 10-9 victory over visiting Seattle. Bob Wells serves up the salami.

10th In his major league debut, Cuban defector Osvaldo Fernandez allows just 5 hits and one run in 8 innings as his Giants beat the Marlins, 5–1. Fernandez posted a fat 9.45 ERA in spring training.

11th  The Mariners get 3 homers and 4 RBIs from Dan Wilson and HRs from Russ Davis and Ken Griffey, Jr. to roll over Detroit 9–1. Randy Johnson, who has a no-hitter through six innings, is the winner.

At Camden Yards, the Orioles (6) and the Indians (2) combine for 8 homers, as the Orioles roll to a 14-4 win. Brady Anderson is the only hitter to go deep twice.

The Padres defeat the Braves, 2-1, ending Greg Maddux’s major league record streak of 18 consecutive road victories.

Jimmy Key wins his first of the year as the Yankees down the Royals, 5-3.  Joe Girardi steals home on the front end of a double steal, the first Yankee catcher in 30 years to swipe home. Jake Gibbs was the last in 1966.

12th Tom Urbanski pitches 5+ strong innings to win his 1st game of the year as the Cards top the Phils, 6–1. Dennis Eckersley, with his appearance in the 9th inning, ties Cy Young (8th place) with 906 appearances. The Cards offense is paced by Ray Lankford with two homers.

Reds fans are again able to get out of town scores at Riverfront Stadium.  In a cost-cutting move, owner Marge Schott had canceled the score-reporting service to save the monthly fee of $350.

13th After a lackluster loss in the Opener, Hideo Nomo is back on form as he strikes out 17 Florida batter en route to a 3–1 Dodger win. Billy Ashley and Raul Mondesi homer for the Dodgers.

In Milwaukee, Michael Tucker’s 3-run homer in the 5th inning—the only hit allowed by knuckleballer Steve Sparks—is enough to give the Royals a 3–2 win.

14th John Smoltz loses his no-hit bid when Tony Gwynn hits a one-out fly ball in the 7th that pops out of Ryan Klesko’s mitt just before he hits the fence. The hit is ruled a double. Smoltz K’s 13 and allows the one hit before giving way to Mark Wohlers in the 9th as the Braves top the Padres, 4–0.

Minutes before the start of the 2nd game with the Astros at Cincinnati, Reds’ owner Marge Schott walks on the field to apologize to Larry Vandover and the umpiring crew for her remarks following the death of John McSherry. Crew chief Harry Wendelstedt is mystified, saying, “I had no idea what she was doing out there.”  The Reds take the 2nd game 9–8 after winning the opener, 5–3.

Julio Franco’s homer in the 11th gives the Indians a 7–6 win over the Red Sox.  Boston is 2–8, and off to their worst start since 1945.

15th Despite a 9-1 deficit,Seattle wins an 11-10 squeaker over the Angels, overcoming a grand slam and 5 RBIs by Mike Aldrete.

16th  Cecil Fielder pounds three HRs to lead the Tigers to a 13–8 clipping of the Blue Jays. Fielder has now hit 9 homers for April.

Dan Wilson hits a grand slam and drives in all 5 Seattle runs to give the M’s a 5–3 win over the Angels. Ken Griffey Jr.’s sensational catch of George Arias’ line drive robs him of a 3-run homer.

In Pittsburgh’s 13-3 win over the Cardinals, Jay Bell and Orlando Merced each hit grand slams, tying a ML record.

The Phils first two batters, Lenny Dykstra and Mickey Morandini, hit homeruns, and Shane Andrews adds a 6th-inning grand slam, but the Expos win, 7-6, on Moises Alou’s RBI-single in the 9th.

Andy Ashby is the winning pitcher in San Diego’s 10-6 win over Colorado. Ashby also goes 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs against his old teammates.

17th  The Dodgers roll over the Giants, scoring 7 runs in the 4th inning, to win 11–2. Starter Chan Ho Park strikes out the side in the first two innings, as Dodger pitchers K 14.

18th  Paced by Alex Rodriguez’s first grand slam, off Clint Sodowsky, Seattle scores 6 runs in the 2ndand pummel the Tigers, 11-3.

19th The host Rangers show no mercy in running up the largest score in the A.L. in 41 years and trouncing the league-leading Orioles, 26–7. Sixteen of the runs come in the 56-minute 8th inning, their last at bat, and the largest 8th inning tally in baseball history. The inning is highlighted by Kevin Elster’s grand slam off O’s backup IF Manny Alexander. Manny, no Grover Cleveland Alexander, walks 4 including 3 with the bases loaded, but does manage to get an out. For O’s reliever Jesse Orosco, it’s a bad 2 days as he gives up 12 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings: The 2 outings raise his season ERA from 1.52 to 3.40.  It takes him 47 pitches to record one out. Juan Gonzalez hits two homers and has 6 RBIs, while Dean Palmer (2) and Will Clark also add round-trippers. Darryl Hamilton has 3 at bats in the 8th. O’s manager Johnson fumes when Mickey Tettleton takes 3B with Texas ahead 20–7: “I’ve seen it all, but guys tagging up from second with an 18-run lead, it’s ridiculous.” Texas manager Johnny Oates, who still carries a clipping from a 1983 IL game when Johnson, with a 9-run lead, had his team stealing against Oates’ squad, counters, “Davey didn’t have to use an infielder to pitch in that inning.”

The wind is blowing out in Chicago, and Brian McRae, with a grand slam, Sandberg and Mark Grace hit consecutive homers in the 6th to give the Cubs a 10–6 win over the Giants. Losing lefty Mike Watson serves up 5 Cub homers and shows little respect for venerable Wrigley Field: “I hate this place. They should burn it down.”

At County Stadium, Tom Glavine (3-1) fires a 3-hitter as the Braves down the Padres, 7-1.  Former president Jimmy Carter, sitting with his wife near the Padres dugout, snags a foul ball in the 6thoff the bat of Ken Caminiti after it bounces off the screen. Carter gets a standing ovation from the crowd. “He showed good hands,” said Braves catcher Javy Lopez. “The ricochet slowed it down a bit but you’ve got to admire any 70-year-old man catching a foul bare handed.” Carter attends 8 or 10 games as the guest of Ted Turner, but tonight he was the guest of Padres owner John Moores, a trustee at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Carter is the first president to catch a foul, notes foul-ball historian Zack Hample.  George Bush caught a foul ball at Yankee Stadium when he was a youngster.

The A’s have a delayed home opener in the reconstructed Oakland Coliseum, though there are no bleachers for the time being. The formerly symmetrical stadium now sports six distinct angles in the outfield, much like the old Forbes or Ebbets Field. All the fans tonight are given yellow construction helmets with the A’s logo on them. The A’s, 2–4 in their 6 early games in Las Vegas, lose 4–3 to the White Sox when Frank Thomas cracks a 2-run homer in the 8th to give Chicago reliever Matt Karchner his 3rd win.

At Anaheim, California’s Mark Langston picks up a complete game win, 4–3, over the Tigers. Detroit’s Mark Parent and the Angels’ Tim Wallach both homer, but neither is over the left field fence where actor Charlie Sheen has purchased 2,615 seats for himself and three friends, one of whom is Bret Michaels, the lead singer of Poison. Sheen, an inveterate sports memorabilia collector, was hoping for a home run in his vicinity. “I didn’t want to crawl over the paying public,” said Sheen after shelling out $6,500 for the seats and going home without a ball. “He should have bought tickets when I was pitching,” Chuck Finely said. “I could have served him up a couple.”

20th The Orioles Brady Anderson leads off with a home run, the 3rd straight game he’s socked a lead-off HR, a major league record. No one has done it more than twice. Anderson adds another homer but it is not enough as Texas wins, 8-3.

21st  Dean Palmer’s grand slam and 2-run homer lead Texas (13–4) to a 9–6 win over the Orioles and a sweep of the 3-game series. Brady Anderson socks a leadoff homer for the 4th straight game, a ML record.

Rookie pitcher Tom Thobe makes 2 errors in the 15th inning to allow the Padres to score, then grounds out to end the game, as Atlanta loses 2–1.

Seattle beats the Blue Jays, 9–5 as Ken Griffey, Jr. and Edgar Martinez hit back-to-back homers twice.  All 4 dingers come off starter Erik Hanson.

New York’s expensive free-agent, Kenny Rogers, finally debuts, throwing a no-hitter for 5 1/3 innings. He leaves with a 4–0 lead, and New York holds on for a 9–5 win over the Twins.

22nd  Rheal Cormier allows just 3 hits and Henry Rodriguez slams two homers and drives in 5 runs as host Montreal clips the Cardinals, 8–0. Rodriguez, starting in LF for the injured Moises Alou, homered twice on Saturday and is 9-for-14. Montreal (12–7) leads Atlanta in the N.L. East by 1 1/2 games.

Shawon Dunston makes 4 errors, but participates in 4 of the Giants 5 double plays in an 11–8 loss to the Astros. Dunston is mercifully lifted in the 8th, but his 4 errors is the most by a Giant since Bob Brenly’s 4 in a 1986 game.

In Arlington, Harold Baines, with a 3-run blast, and Robin Ventura hit consecutive homers in the 6th as the Sox halt the Rangers’ five-game win streak, 12–4. Ventura and Danny Tartabull then hit back-to-back homers in the 8th to cinch Alex Fernandez’s 3rd win.

23rd Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez each hit 3-run homers and the Indians hold off the Orioles for an 9–8 win. The Indians win their 10th in 11 games, while the O’s drop their 6th straight.

In Milwaukee, the A’s rack up nine runs off knuckler Steve Sparks, with Scott Brosius banging a 3-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the 4th. Jason Giambi tallies a double in the first off Sparks, a triple in the 2nd, and a two run homer in the 4th. With teammates urging him to stop at first on any hit, Giambi lines out his next two times up. The A’s need all 9 runs as the Brewers battle back to lose, 9–6.

24th  Twins’ manager Tom Kelly apologizes to the fans after his team wallops the host Tigers, 24–11, the highest score rung up on Detroit since their loss in 1912 when the team boycotted over the suspension of Ty Cobb and a sub team was hastily cobbled together. Greg Myers and Paul Molitor each drive in 5 runs, and Molitor scores 5 runs, as Minnesota scores against all 7 Tiger pitchers they face. Eric Bennett is the winning pitcher, though he doesn’t realize it until he hears it on Sports Center. The 35 runs is the most today as major league teams total 195 runs, the most this century. The average game total of 13.9 runs tops the record of 13.6 set on July 12, 1931.

Reggie Jefferson’s 3rd double of the game breaks a 7th-inning tie as Boston edges the Rangers 11–9. Texas is led by unlikely slugger Kevin Elster, who slugs homers in the 2nd and 3rd for 5 RBIs.

Henry Rodriguez clouts his 9th homer and Shane Andrews singles home the winner in the 10th as Montreal beat the Reds, 7–6, for its 6th straight win, to lead the NL East by 2 1/2 games. Rodriguez has now hit 6 homers in his last 13 at bats.

25th  The Mets bang 3 homers in the 7th and score 8 runs to bury the Cardinals, 9–3. Jose Vizcaino leads the way with 4 hits. He sets a team-record of 9 straight hits over 3 games, but strikes out his last at bat.

Jeff Cirillo and Pat Listach hit back-to-back homers to start the game against Seattle, and the Brewer hang on for a 6-5 victory,

26th  Mike Grace (4–0) retires the first 16 batters and pitches 8 innings after scattering 3 singles.  The Phils win 2–0 over the Reds, sending Cincy to their 9th loss in 10 games.

Gary Sheffield cracks a 2-run homer in the first inning off San Francisco starter Osvaldo Fernandez. For Sheffield, it is his 11th homer of April, matching the major league record for the month. Kevin Brown goes the route to win, 3-0.

Los Angeles wins, 1-0, over the Cubs on Delino DeShields solo homerun. Pedro Astacio is the winning pitcher as the Dodgers tie a ML record with 453 consecutive starts by righthanded pitchers.

Former AL pitcher Milt Gaston dies at age 100. Gaston played for 5 teams in the 1920s and 1930s and had 18 Hall of Fame teammates and managers, more than any player in history.

27th  Dodger Tom Candiotti starts against the Cubs, but departs after one inning with a muscle pull. His start breaks a 90-year-old ML record, and is the 454th consecutive start by a righthander for LA. The Dodgers, from October 2, 1902 until April 14, 1906, a string of 453 games, started nothing but righties. After Candiotti’s exit, the Cubs win 4–3 in 10 innings when Sammy Sosa singles home the winner. The win snaps the Cubs’ 7-game loss streak.

Barry Bonds hits two homers, the 300th and 301st of his career, then with the Giants leading 6–1, he is tossed out of the game for disputing a 6th-inning, 3rd-strike call. Bonds is only the 4th major leaguer to hit 300 homers and steal 300 bases, joining his father, his godfather Willie Mays, and Andre Dawson. Bonds Sr. is the first base coach today, filling in for Jim Davenport, while Dawson, playing left field for the Marlins, has the best view of the two homers. Mark Leiter (2–3) allows 6 hits for the 6–3 win, with Rod Beck getting the final out.

New York’s David Cone misses his first start in 9 years when he experiences a numbing in the fingers off his pitching hand. His replacement, Dwight Gooden, fashions a decent outing, allowing one run in 6 innings against the Twins. He has 7 strikeouts using a shorter stride off the mound. But the Yankee bullpen can’t match the Doc and the Twins score 4 runs on 6 hits off Bob Wickman in the 10th to win, 8–6.

Colorado second baseman Eric Young strokes 5 hits as the Rockies defeat the Expos, 6-5, in 13 innings.

28thVisiting Texas scores 4 runs in the 10th and holds on for a 5–4 win over the Orioles. Baltimore’s Brady Anderson cracks his 11th homer of April, joining Gary Sheffield, who hit his 11th of Friday, Willie Stargell (1971), Graig Nettles (1974), and Mike Schmidt (1976) as the only players to hit that many in the month.

Veteran Frank Viola, brought up yesterday from the minors, is rocked for 10 runs in 4 innings by the Indians. who roll to a 17–3 win over the Blue Jays. Sandy Alomar hits a 3-run homer and Albert Belle adds a solo shot and drives in 3 runs.

Darrin Fletcher and David Segui belt grand slams and Montreal sets a team record for scoring by routing Colorado, 21–9. Reserve outfielder F.P. Santangelo knocks in 5 runs, to go along with Segui’s 6 RBI, and Fletcher’s 5. SS Mark Grudzielanek strokes 5 hits for the Expos.

The Yankees top the Twins, 6–3, as reliever Mariano Rivera pitches the last 3 innings for the win.  Rivera has now thrown 9 hitless innings over his last three outings. Paul O’Neill, leading the A.L. in hitting, robs Molitor of a homer in the 7th and then clouts one of his own. The Yankees pull ahead of Baltimore in the A.L. East.

On the 100th anniversary of the opening of Bennett Field at Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, the Tigers lose to the A’s, 6–3. Scott Brosius rings up his 3rd two-homer game of the season, and Mark McGwire adds a homer, estimated at 462 feet, that almost clears the RF roof at Tiger Stadium, to lead the A’s. Oakland collects 4 homers off Greg Gohr, and adds another, while Detroit bangs two, including Cecil Fielder’s 10th of the year.

29th  On a smog-filled rainy evening, John Franco records his 300th save, pitching in relief in the Mets 3–2 win over the division-leading Expos. Franco is the first lefty to reach the 300-save mark. The save comes exactly 12 years to the day after his 1st one, for the Reds, in 1984.

30th  In the longest 9-inning game ever—4 hours and 21 minutes—the Yankees outslug the Orioles, 13–10 to disappoint 43,117 at Camden Yards.  The host O’s score 9 runs off starter Andy Pettitte and take a 9–4 lead in the 2nd. New York ties it at 9–9 in the 5th, then wins it in the 7th on Tino Martinez’s 3-run shot. Jim Leyritz and Paul O’Neill also homer for New York. The previous record for longest game was 4:18, set in a 1962 Dodgers-Giants game.

In Cincinnati, the Pirates send the Reds to their 8th straight loss, 10–7, by scoring 9 runs in the 4th inning. Jeff King hits two home runs in the deluge, including a grand slam off reliever Pugh. He hit two homers in an inning last August 8, and becomes just the 3rd person to accomplish that feat twice.

The host Twins score 10 runs in the 5th inning before making an out, to whip the Royals, 15–7. The highlight is Marty Cordova’s bases-loaded triple.

Led by Barry Bonds’ two homers, one a grand slam, the Giants rally from 4 runs down to top the Padres 9–4. Bonds finishes the first month with 11 home runs, tying mark for most homers in April.

Fred McGriff gets 5 hits to lead Atlanta to a 7-5 victory over Houston, knocking the Astros into a tie for 1st in the NL Central. Every team in the division has a record below .500.