Today in Sports History: May 28th

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(Mackowiak, still wearing the hospital bracelet. Photo by Peter Diana, Post-Gazette)

5/28/1998 - Bonds walked with bases full

With two outs and the bases loaded in bottom of the ninth inning, Barry Bonds stepped to the plate. The Diamondbacks held an 8-6 lead with Gregg Olson on the mound, preparing to face the future home run king. D'backs manager Buck Showalter did the unthinkable and ordered Olson to walk Bonds, even though it would score a run. The strategy barely worked as the next batter, Brent Mayne, subsequently hit a line drive that was just caught by the right fielder.

The walk became part of the lore of how tremendous a player Barry Bonds was, for a manager to sacrifice a run in fear that he would do more damage (and this was before he, allegedly, began using steroids). Bonds became just the fourth player in history to be intentionally passed with the bases loaded. The others were Nap Lajoie (1901), Mel Ott (1929), and Bill Nicholson (1944), and of those four, only Nicholson wasn't a Hall of Famer.

"I know it was a little unorthodox," Showalter would say afterword, "but I just felt it was the best chance for us to win a baseball game. It was a choice between one of the great players in the game or a very good player. It was a tough call but you go with it and you live with it."

5/28/2004 - Mackowiak's big day

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Rob Mackowiak has one hell of a day.

It began at the hospital, where his wife Jennifer gave birth to their first child, Garrett. He then went out and suited up in the first half of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs. With his hospital bracelet still fastened to his wrist, Mackowiak walked to the plate with the game tied, the bases loaded, and two outs. Mackowiak made his already memorable day a little more special, slamming a pitch from Joe Borowski to the fences for a game-winning grand slam.

But he wasn't done. In the second game of the doubleheader, Mackowiak again stepped to the plate in the ninth inning, this time with a man on first and the Pirates trailing 4-2. Mackowiak did the impossible and, once again, drilled a pitch to the stands in right-center field -- the very same spot where he hit his previous homer. In the tenth inning, Pirates third baseman sealed the win by hitting a walk-off home run.

"I'm not thinking home run there, but I just happened to hit it hard enough to get it out of the park," Wilson said. "But what I did pales in comparison to what Mackowiak did."

"It’s just hard to imagine ever having a better day than this," said Mackowiak. "Obviously, having your first child is a big event in itself, then to come back at night and hit a game-winning and a game-tying home run ... well, it's just hard to describe. ... Then I got to home and I got to hold my son. It made my night even better."

Mackowiak's highlight reel was so incredible that ESPN had it lead off that night's SportsCenter, displacing an Eastern Conference Finals game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons.

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