WASHINGTON – October 1 is the anniversary of several major events in the history of the Washington Nationals – and Major League Baseball as well.
It was two years ago today here at Nationals Park that young Juan Soto hit a bases-loaded single to right field off Brewers’ lefty Josh Hader that drove in the tying runs, before the go-ahead run scored on an error on the play, as Washington beat Milwaukee in the National League Wild Card contest.
That, of course, propelled the Nationals on the road to their first World Series title.
Hader went to Old Mill High in Millersville, Maryland and was drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles.
A fan on social media on Friday called it the biggest at-bat in the history of the Washington franchise – more so than the grand slam by Howie Kendrick against the Dodgers that would come a few days later. It would be hard to argue that, especially for the fans who were at Nationals Park in 2019.
In 2012, the Nationals clinched their first division title on October 1 when the second-place Braves lost to Pittsburgh. That allowed Washington manager Davey Johnson to guide another playoff team – something he also did with the Mets, who won the World Series in 1986, as well as the Reds and Orioles.
Montreal pitcher Ross Grimsley, on October 1, 1978, nailed down his 20th win of the year on the last day of the season to beat the host Cardinals.
Grimsley also pitched for the Orioles during his career and was later the pitching coach for Double-A Richmond in the Giants’ farm system.
In terms of Major League history, several milestones took place on this date.
On October 1, 1951, the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first game of the National League playoffs.
It was the first game to be televised coast-to-coast. In the third and deciding game of the series a few days later, Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to beat the Dodgers and claim the National League title for the Giants.
A year earlier, legend says Ruth hit his called shot home run for the Yankees at the Cubs in the World Series – on October 1, 1932.
Roger Maris, on October 1, 1961, hit his record 61st homer for the Yankees against the Red Sox to surpass the mark of 60 set by Ruth. The pitcher for Boston was Tracy Stallard, who was born in southwest Virginia in 1937 and died in Kingsport, Tennessee in 2017.
In the first World Series game ever played, Virginia native Deacon Phillippe (Rural Retreat in southwest Virginia) out-pitched Cy Young as Pittsburgh beat Boston in Boston on October 1, 1903. Phillippe won 189 games in the majors and died in 1952 in Pennsylvania.
As for the DMV, Staunton, Virginia native Larry Sheets – the MVP of the Orioles in 1987 – played his last game in the majors on October 1, 1993. He had a pinch-hit for Seattle in a win at the Twins.