Today in Sports History: September 13th


(Frank Francisco throws the chair. Photo by D. Ross Cameron, AP Photos)

9/13/1965 - Mays knocks 500th home run

The "Say Hey Kid" hits career home run #500 off the Astros' Don Nottebart. Willie Mays was the first player in history to collect both 3000 hits and 500 home runs. Adding that with his stellar defense, and its no wonder why many consider the Giants outfielder the greatest baseball player of all time. Mays reached the milestone in a year where he won the MVP by leading the NL in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases. From 1957 to 1966, Mays finished in the top six in MVP voting and won a gold glove in all ten years.

9/13/1971 - Robinson (also) gets to 500

Sitting on 498 career home runs, Orioles slugger Frank Robinson made the most of a double-header with the Detroit Tigers. In the first game of the double-dip, Robinson knocked out homer run #499, and in game two, he hit #500 -- becoming the first player to reach the milestone in such a fashion. It was Robinson's last year with Baltimore; he would spend his final five years with the Dodgers, Angels, and Indians.

Unlike Willie Mays, who largely disappeared when he retired, Robinson took over the Cleveland Indians as a player/coach in 1975. Robinson was the first black manager in baseball and continued to manage all the way until 2006, when the Washington Nationals ended their term with him.

9/13/2004 - Francisco hurls chair at crowd

In a baseball game in Oakland, a group of hecklers, led by 41-year old chef Craig Bueno, gathered around the Texas Rangers' bullpen and taunted them throughout the game. The heckling eventually struck a nerve with the Rangers pitchers. Bueno contended that the posse never used racial slurs or anything insulting; pitcher Doug Brocail disagreed, claiming the hecklers made fun of his wife and unborn child.

Whatever was said, Brocail and the others were upset enough to finally confront the hecklers in the top of the ninth. As "a sea of blue" Rangers followed Brocail to the edge of the wall, Bueno stepped in front of his wife, fearing that the Texas players had violent intentions. The game was briefly halted as security tried to keep between the fans and the players.

That was when Rangers reliever Frank Francisco took things a little too far. He picked up a foldout chair that the bat boy had been using and threw it into the crowd. The chair came flying at Bueno, whose intention to protect his wife got sidetracked in a moment of panic. He ducked, allowing his wife to receive the full force of the chair. Bueno's wife suffered a broken nose and was helped out of the stadium; the game was delayed for 15 minutes as Francisco and others were ejected.

Francisco was arrested the following day and was later sentenced to 500 hours of community service, three years of probation, and anger management courses. He suffered a season-ending injury only a few days later, nullifying his suspension from baseball, which was for the remaining 15 games of the year. Francisco's actions were bad, though they were completely forgotten two months later when Ron Artest ran into the stands.

9/13/2008 - K-Rod breaks Thigpen's mark

Francisco Rodriguez records his 58th save of the 2008 regular season, breaking a single season record that Bobby Thigpen had held for 18 years. ''It's been an amazing year,'' he said. ''Without them [the other Angels relievers] I couldn't have done this.''

Rodriguez would finish the year with 62 saves. Fortunately for him, his stellar season came in a contract year, and he would be awarded a three-year $37 million contract by the New York Mets in the offseason.

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