This Week in Baseball History: August 24-30

When will baseball first be streamed in VR?

This week contains moments from some of the sport’s most notable personalities, from the flashy Rickey Henderson to the divisive Pete Rose to the larger-than-life Ty Cobb. Let’s take a dive into five legendary events that happened this week in baseball history.


August 24, 1989 – Pete Rose Receives His Lifetime Ban


In 1986, Pete Rose played his last game, retiring with the title of baseball’s all-time “Hit King.” Beginning in 1984, Rose had transitioned into a player-manager role, and after quitting his playing days he became a full-time manager for the Cincinnati Reds. This next chapter of his career came to a screeching halt in Aug. 1989 following reports that Rose had bet on baseball.

An investigation into these allegations, spearheaded by Washington attorney John Dowd, began months earlier in March. Dowd found evidence that Rose had bet on Reds’ games during his tenure as both player-manager and just manager, regularly making wagers of $10,000. The summer of ’89 saw numerous legal proceedings between Dowd and Rose that culminated with an agreement announced on Aug. 24. Rose accepted a lifetime ban and in turn the commissioner, Bart Giamatti, would not make a formal ruling on whether or not Rose had bet on baseball.



The agreement also included the clause that Rose could apply for reinstatement after one year of ineligibility. However, this became unlikely due to an unfortunate series of events. Shortly after announcing the deal, Giamatti publicly said he believed that Rose bet on baseball. This statement, combined with Giamatti passing away suddenly from a heart attack just eight days later, have complicated Rose’s reinstatement efforts.

Years later in ’04, Rose confirmed that he had gambled on the Reds as a manager in ’87 and ’88. Although Rose admitted to some allegations and he has spent the past few decades campaigning for his enshrinement in Cooperstown, Major League Baseball has yet to make an official ruling on the extent of Rose’s gambling .


August 25, 1985 – Dwight Gooden Becomes Youngest 20-Game Winner


How legendary was the start to Dwight Gooden’s career? He debuted in 1984 at just 19 years old, finishing runner-up in the Cy Young voting while leading the NL in strikeouts (276), WHIP (1.073), and FIP (1.69).



He followed this up with one of the best pitching seasons ever.

Besides Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968, a year characterized by absurd pitching dominance and abysmal hitting, Gooden’s 1.53 ERA in 1985 is the lowest in the live-ball era. Gooden also finished the year with a sub 1.0 WHIP, a Triple Crown, and a Cy Young. Gooden finished the year with the most fWAR (17.2), lowest ERA (2.00), and second-most strikeouts (544) of any live-ball pitcher through their age-20 season.

I really can’t emphasize this enough—he was just 20 years old.

One chapter of Gooden’s historic run happened on Aug. 25, 1985 in his start against the San Diego Padres. Gooden entered the game scorching hot. In his previous start, he pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 16 batters. The Mets entered the day just one game back from the division lead, and they were facing off against a Padres lineup headlined by Tony Gwynn, who, as usual, was in the midst of another .300+ season.

This was not an absolutely dominant game from Gooden, as he finished with 3 R (2 ER), 5 hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts over 6 IP. However, this was enough to get the job done as the Mets hammered the Padres for nine runs, four of which were driven in by Gooden’s fellow young superstar, Darryl Strawberry. Roger McDowell came in to close it out for the Mets, picking up a three-inning save to help Gooden score his 20th win of the season.

This made him the youngest 20-game winner ever at 20 years, 9 months, and 9 days, which beat out the previous record holder, Bob Feller, by about one month.


August 26, 1939 – First Televised Baseball Game


Do you remember a time before television? If so, congratulations! You are at least 93 years old. Considering the state of advanced analytics in baseball, it’s weird to think of a time when technology and baseball did not go hand-in-hand. But for more than half a century, baseball became America’s thriving pastime without a single game being broadcast on television.

Philo Farnsworth is generally credited with inventing the first electronic television in 1927, but it took a couple of decades before the television set exploded in commercial popularity and found itself in every home around the world. The ’30s saw numerous experimental broadcasts that explored television’s possibilities. On Aug. 26, 1939, W2XBS, a station that is now known as WNBC-TV, conducted the first-ever broadcast of a major league baseball game. This doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers did not reach many people as there were only about 400 television sets in the New York area at the time. As a result, the main audience for this game was found at the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens.

This game featured legendary announcer Red Barber and a rudimentary broadcasting setup: only two stationary cameras, one positioned next to the visitor’s dugout and the other located up in the second deck.

The two teams split this doubleheader, with the Reds winning the first game 5-2 thanks to a complete game performance by their ace Bucky Walters, who would later win the MVP that season. The Dodgers won the second game 6-1 thanks to first baseman Dolph Camilli’s second-inning two-run homer, which proved to be an insurmountable lead.


August 27, 1982 – Rickey Henderson Sets Single-Season Stolen Base Record


In the 1970s, Lou Brock cemented his title as the best base stealer ever. First, he set the modern-era record for steals in a season with 118 in 1974. Next, in ’78 Brock beat out Billy Hamilton (no, that Billy Hamilton is not capable of time travel… as far as I know) to become the all-time stolen base leader, retiring with 938 career steals. However, just a couple years later in ’82, Rickey Henderson would start chipping away at Brock’s throne.

Henderson carved out quite the impressive reputation for himself quickly. In his age-21 season, Henderson stole 100 bases. Previously, there were only two other people who stole 100+ bases in one season during the 1900s: Brock, who did it at age 35, and Maury Wills, who did it at age 29. Simply put, nobody stole bases like Henderson did, and Rickey would be the first person to tell you that:



Two years after he stole 100 bases for the first time, Henderson tied Brock’s single-season record with his 118th stolen base on Aug. 26, 1982. One day later, Henderson raised the bar even higher.

The Aug. 27, 1982 game between the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers was a lopsided contest on paper. The Brewers led the AL East with a commanding 5.5 game lead, powered by a 1-2 punch of Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount. The Athletics, on the other hand, were 16.5 GB in the AL West, and no one in the starting lineup had an OPS above .787. Henderson wouldn’t let a silly thing like a massive mismatch prevent him from breaking some historic records.

Although in his first at-bat Henderson grounded out to the catcher, he worked a walk on four straight balls in his second plate appearance. Any time Henderson got on, he was a threat to steal. Brewers catcher Ted Simmons failed to throw out Henderson in his previous five attempts, and even though Simmons is a Hall of Famer there was no chance that he could stop a determined Henderson.

Everyone in the stands and the pitcher, Doc Medich, were aware of Henderson’s imminent record. Medich tried four straight pick-offs, failing with each one. As soon as Medich delivered the next pitch, Henderson bolted, swiping second base easily and achieving the single-season record for steals in the modern era. Henderson would walk twice more in the game, stealing three more bases along the way. He finished the season with 130 steals, a record that still stands and will likely remain unbroken for a long time.

Fun fact time: According to Baseball Reference, in 1887 Hugh Nicol and Arlie Latham recorded 138 and 129 steals each, respectively. But that was a different era of baseball with many odd rules. For example, runners received a stolen base if they advanced due to another player’s hit. Baseball history can be pretty weird, but if you’re reading these articles then you should already know that.


August 30, 1905 – Ty Cobb’s First At-Bat


Ty Cobb’s trophy cabinet is stacked unlike few other players. When he retired in 1928, he did so with dozens of major league records. His career average of .366 is the best ever—a feat that appears unbreakable especially given the current, home run-focused state of the game. His 4,189 hits, 2,245 runs, and 5,854 total bases were once the most ever. Since Cobb’s retirement, those marks have been broken by Pete Rose, Rickey Henderson and Stan Musial, respectively. Cobb’s contemporaries revered him, too, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame with 98.23% of the vote in 1936, a record that stood until it was beaten in 1992 by Tom Seaver.



The beginning of Cobb’s illustrious career happened on Aug. 30, 1905 in front of 1,200 fans when he stepped up to the plate for his first-ever major league plate appearance. This game between the New York Highlanders (later known as the Yankees) and Detroit Tigers was a star-studded matchup that featured four future Hall of Famers in Sam Crawford, Willie Keeler, Jack Chesbro, and Ty Cobb. Where the other players lacked in skill, they made up for it with some A+ baseball names: Lew Drill, Kid Elberfeld, and Wid Conroy.

The Highlanders trotted out their star pitcher, Jack Chesbro, who in the previous year had won 41 games with a 1.82 ERA/148 ERA+ over 454.2 IP (classic dead-ball era stats). The Tigers countered this ace with their budding prospect in the 18-year-old Cobb, who made his debut just three weeks after his mother reportedly killed his father.

Cobb caught the Tigers’ eye before this game due to his extremely aggressive performance with the minor-league Augusta Tourists, and this would become a defining characteristic of his overall playing style. Cobb stepped up to the plate in the first inning with two outs and Chris Lindsay on third base. Cobb swung and missed at the first pitch from Chesbro, and then he watched a curveball pass by for strike two. Cobb slapped the next pitch, a fastball in the middle of the plate, into left-center field for an RBI double.

This contributed to the Tigers’s 5-3 win, with Cobb drawing one walk and one strikeout over his next three plate appearances. Cobb’s career started off without much muster in front of just 1,200 people. Those fans did not realize just how lucky they were to have witnessed the first chapter of one of the best players ever.


Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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