Baseball’s Most Embarrassing Moments

Welcome to Jenn’s next edition of “Strange Baseball.”  Today we will pull out of the closet Baseball’s Most Embarrassing Moments and discover why some of these players belong in Baseball’s Hall of Shame:

– When I first saw Bob Uecker in the movie “Major League,” I thought he was just some wacky sportscaster/actor.  When I was informed he actually used to play in the Majors, the following did not shock me at all:  On September 7, 1967, “Mr. Baseball” did everything wrong that a catcher could possibly do in one game.  He committed one throwing error, had 2 passed balls and was even called for catcher’s interference.  His manager, Billy Hitchcock, later said that he was afraid to leave Uecker in the game, having pulled him in the 7th inning, because he thought Uecker may actually “invent a few more bad things.”

– “Bo Knows…”  Remember the popular saying coined by athlete, Bo Jackson back in the eighties?  Well, on this day, apparently Bo didn’t know baseball:  On September 17, 1986, Jackson got a lesson on what a “balk” was.  Having already had an awful season for the Royals that year, batting .207 and striking out 34 times in 25 games, what happened next was still a bit surprising.  At the plate with a 1-2 count, on the next pitch, the umpire called the pitcher for a balk.  Jackson dropped his bat and ran down to first base.  He later admitted that he had confused “balk” with “walk.”

– May 26, 1992:  On a Carlos Martinez long fly ball, Jose Canseco’s attempt to field the hit turned into a classic blooper reel.  The ball fell right on top of Canseco’s head and bounced over the fence for a home run.  Embarrassed, Canseco tried to play it off like it hit his glove, but the replay never lies.

July 10, 2001 All-Star Game:  Vladimir Guerrero’s at- bat turned into another blooper that will never get old.  Guerrero swung at a pitch from Mike Stanton and his bat splintered apart; the barrel of the bat flew towards Tommy Lasorda, who was coaching third base and whacked him on the hip.  Lasorda fell heels over head, performing a backwards somersault.  He arose unharmed and Barry Bonds ran out on to the field and tried to put a catcher’s chest protector on him.

Donnell Nixon of the San Francisco Giants had his head hung low after a game against the Cubs in 1988.  Nixon was caught stealing twice in the same inning!  Once, he was nailed at second, and for the finale, he was thrown out trying to steal home.

In 1994 during the ESPN Sunday Night Game of the Week, Larry Walker had the ultimate blonde moment in front of a national audience.  Walker caught a ball with only one out and then, not realizing the inning was not over AND there was a runner on first, he handed the ball to a kid in the stands and started to walk off the field.  When he realized his mistake, he went back to the kid, took the ball back and threw it to the infield.  Too late though; the umpire awarded the runner 2 bases since the ball was technically “out of play.”

– In 1975 during a game in Boston, Milwaukee Brewer Gorman Thomas had possibly the worst day of his career.  Thomas struck-out EIGHT times in a row and even hit into a double play.  The double play earned him a standing ovation from the appreciative Boston fans.  Thomas received an even bigger round of applause and another standing ovation after that as he ran out to centerfield; Thomas  was approached by a free roaming dog who stopped in front of him and proceeded to urinate at his feet.

– During a 1985 Blue Jays game, Jeff Burroughs attempted to slide into second base.  Having some apparent lack of depth perception, his slide stopped short of the base by a full 6 feet and he was tagged out.

– Real-life Wife Swap:  Good friends Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich of the New York Yankees announced during Spring Training of 1973 that they would switch wives, kids and even family dogs.  Peterson remained married to the former Susanne Kekich, but his pitching seemed to suffer and by 1974, he was booed out of New York and traded to the Indians.  Mike Kekich’s union with Marilyn Peterson did not last long; they broke up shortly after the swap.

– On July 27, 1988, Tommy John made THREE errors on ONE play!  The New York veteran pitcher fell apart in a game against the Brewers.  First, he bobbled a slow dribbler to the mound, allowing the runner to take 1st base and another to advance to second; then, he threw the ball to first anyway, which sailed past Don Mattingly’ head; and finally, John cut off the throw from right fielder Dave Winfield that would have nailed an opposing runner at the plate.  And all this happened on 1 play.  John’s explanation for the incident was that there were too many “negative ions in the air” due to an approaching thunderstorm which were interfering with the metal cup he was wearing, thus causing a temporary brain power shortage.

– During a game in 1988, Reds infielder Dave Conception was tossed from the game for blowing kisses at an umpire.

– During batting practice on February 22, 1987, Twins slugger Kirby Puckett was having a great time whacking home runs over the wall at Tinker field, Spring Training home of the Twins.  After a policeman arrived on the scene to demand batting practice stop, it was revealed that the home run balls were landing in a nearby parking lot which was packed due to a tractor pull event.  The balls were smashing windshields and denting cars.  The cop walked over to Puckett and ordered him to stop swinging or he would be arrested.  The Twins were forced to continue practice in a covered cage in the bullpen.

Mike Schmidt was in a slump during his time with the Phillies in 1988.  After flying out to go 0 for 14, he passed Padres 1st baseman, and future Phillie, John Kruk and exclaimed, “Give me a gun.  I am ready to shoot myself in the head.”  Kruk responded with, “Better not.  You’ll probably miss.”  Ouch.

– And one final Phillies moment:  For the ultimate blooper of 2004, Jason Michaels, in an attempt to catch a long fly ball off the bat of Charles Thomas, instead bobbles the ball and tosses it over the wall, giving Thomas a home run.  He and Jose Canseco should get together and compare notes…

The 1994 baseball strike which lasted from 8/12/94 until 4/2/95, wiped out the entire 1994 post-season and World Series and even led to the eventual death of the Montreal Expos.  This was the first professional sport ever to lose an entire post-season due to a labor dispute.  Owners were adamant about a salary cap and the players would not stand for it.  A sad time for baseball.

The Mitchell Report:  The relationship between baseball and steroids was put on display for all to see on December 13, 2007 with the release of the 409-page Mitchell Report.  It disclosed test results and other information on a great number of major league players.  The ramifications of this information have yet to fully play out and may haunt the organization for years to come.

Thank you for reading and as always, please feel free to add your comments below.  What are YOUR favorite “Embarrassing Baseball Moments”? 

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