Today in Sports History: September 12th

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9/12/1962 - Cheney strikes out 21

Washington Senators pitcher Tom Cheney has one of the greatest pitching performances of all time. In a 16-inning game against the Baltimore Orioles, Cheney pitched all 16 innings, giving up only ten hits and one run while striking out 21 batters. The marathon only came to an end when Bud Zipfel, who hit only ten home runs in his career, slapped a longball off of Dick Hall in the top of the 16th. Cheney retired the side in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Senators a well-deserved 2-1 victory.

Cheney's 21 K's broke the single game strikeout record, which had been set at 18. But because Cheney accomplished the task in extra innings, his performance is largely an afterthought. It is listed in a separate category from the pitchers who struck out 20 in a nine-inning game, which includes Randy Wood, Roger Clemens, and (in some record books) Randy Johnson.

Cheney, who pitched an astounding 228 pitches in that game, blew out his arm not long after that. He finished his 8-year career in 1966, with a 19-29 record and a 3.77 ERA. To read more about this, there is a very good Washington Post article about it in the further reading section below.

9/12/1979 - Carl Yastrzemski gets 3,000th hit

Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski singles off the Yankees' Jim Beattie to join the 3,000-hit club, one of many things Yastrzemski accomplished in his 23-year career. In 1967, he led the league in batting, homers, and runs batted in, becoming the last player in the 20th century to hit for the triple crown. The year after his MVP campaign, he was the only batter in baseball to hit .300, largely because the pitcher's mound had been severely shortened. Yaz finished his career with 452 home runs, 3,419 hits, 18 All-Star selections and seven Gold Gloves.

9/12/1995 - Globetrotters lose to Kareem

The Harlem Globetrotters lose, 91-85, to a team of touring players led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The 48 year-old Kareem led all scorers with 34 points and snapped the Globetrotters' 8,829-game winning streak that had begun 24 years earlier. The previous team the Globetrotters had lost to was the New Jersey Reds way back in 1971 -- and that was only a 100-99 defeat. Incidently, that loss snapped a 2,495-game winning streak the 'Trotters had going.

In other words, prior to the match against Abdul-Jabbar's team, the Harlem Globetrotters had won 11,324 of their last 11,325 games -- a 99.99% winning percentage. Granted, most if not all of those games were against staged opponents such as the Washington Generals, but still, that's pretty impressive.

9/12/1999 - Welcome back Browns

Three years after the original team moved to Baltimore, Maryland, a new incarnation of the Cleveland Browns returned as an expansion team to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The new Browns picked up right where the old team left off by getting annihilated by the rival Steelers, 41-0. In a way it was like they never left.

The Browns' return to existence was sort of bizarre in that the original Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. The current Browns were unrelated to the old team except that they had the same name and color scheme. However, as a part of an agreement, the NFL considered the Ravens the expansion team and the Browns a regular team that just happened to go on vacation for three years. So when Ravens RB Jamal Lewis rushed for 295 yards against the Browns in 2003, it wasn't considered an achievement for the franchise that existed in Cleveland for 50 years, even though he was on that team.

Further reading:

Which Senators pitcher set the all-time record for strikeouts in a single game? [Washington Post]

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