This Week in Baseball History: August 31 – September 6

These highlights include a special no-hitter and Oh's special hit.

August 31, 2010 – Aroldis Chapman Makes His Debut


The hallmark of an all-time great relieving talent used to be their ability to hit 100 MPH on the radar gun. This is what elevated some talents like Joba Chamberlain and Joel Zumaya to an otherworldly tier in terms of hype. That’s also why Aroldis Chapman’s debut was one of the most anticipated appearances in recent history.

Not only was Chapman a pitcher that touched 100 MPH—he did it pretty much all time. In fact, as you all know now, he regularly approached 102, 103, or even 104 MPH, which was an almost unheard-of feat in 2010. Back then, the average fastball velocity across the league was 91.2 MPH. Now, it’s 93.1 MPH.

Chapman’s professional career began in Cuba as a 17-year-old on the Holguín Sabuesos. Over the next four seasons, he pitched to a 3.74 ERA across 327.2 IP with a 10.0 K/9. He gained even more notoriety as a member of the Cuban National Team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, where Baseball America ranked Chapman as the No. 2 non-MLB prospect behind Yu Darvish.

His exceptional performance at such a young age, combined with his high-profile defection in 2009 and subsequent six-year, $30.25 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds made Chapman’s debut against the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 31, 2010 a must-see event.

The Reds were leading the division with a 76-55 record, ahead of the third-place Brewers by 14 games. Chapman’s addition to the bullpen, whose 4.14 ERA ranked 13th in all of the MLB, was meant to be a huge boost to an already playoff-bound team. The 19,218 fans in Great American Ballpark knew just how important this moment would be, and they all rose to their feet to cheer Chapman on as he jogged to the mound in the top of the eighth.



His first pitch to Jonathan Lucroy clocked in at 98 MPH for a strike. The next pitch, a swing-and-a-miss-inducing 86 MPH slider, set the stage for the 0-2 pitch: a 102 MPH fastball that Lucroy barely fouled off. The crowd celebrated each and every one of those pitches, and they exploded after the very next one—an 87 MPH slider that was good for Chapman’s first strikeout.

Chapman would then get two easy groundouts to finish off a clean 1-2-3 inning. His fastest pitch of the night? 103 MPH.


September 1, 2007 – Clay Buchholz‘ No-Hitter


This may be controversial, but it has to be said: Clay Buchholz is no Bumpus Jones. For those of you unfamiliar with one of the greatest names to ever grace the sport, Jones carved out his spot in baseball history on Oct. 15, 1892 when he became the first (and to this day only) pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first-ever game.

But on Sept. 1, 2007, Buchholz did the next best thing against the Baltimore Orioles.

Buchholz was a top 50 prospect throughout baseball in ’07, pitching to a 2.44 ERA over 125.1 IP spread across AA/AAA that year. He was called up to help the Red Sox on the home stretch, who entered September as the division leaders up five games on the Yankees. The Red Sox had the second-best pitching staff in the league with a 3.78 ERA as of Aug. 31, but there was still room for improvement in the starting rotation. The addition of the highly sought-after Daisuke Matsuzaka that year did not pan out as expected. Rather than providing the team’s “ace in the hole,” Dice-K posted just an average 4.40 ERA/108 ERA+ on the season.

Buchholz made his debut on Aug. 17, getting the win after allowing 3 ER over 6 IP. He then remained unused for over two weeks until his second start against the Orioles. He wasn’t even perfect in the first inning, as Buchholz hit Nick Markakis with his 12th pitch. After that at-bat, Buchholz got in a groove, retiring 10 straight batters until allowing back-to-back walks to lead off the fifth. He then got Scott Moore to strike out on the three pitches, before retiring the next two batters to end the inning with no runs scored.

I was lucky enough to be at this game, and by the sixth inning, it seemed like the entire stadium had begun to realize what was happening. I was at the game with my family, and my brother and I are huge Yankee fans. My brother was trying to will the baseball gods into gifting the Orioles a hit so the Yankees would not fall further back in the division. I, on the other hand, was silently praying for Buchholz to continue dominating so that I could witness my first no-hitter.

The gods must have been on my side that day, as Buchholz was absolutely perfect from the seventh inning onwards. His no-hitter was preserved by a spectacular play from Dustin Pedroia.



In the ninth inning, Buchholz carved apart the All-Star Brian Roberts with a strikeout, before getting the not All-Star Corey Patterson to fly out to center. The last person that stood in Buchholz’ way was Nick Markakis, who struck out looking on a 1-2 curveball to end the game.



The 36,819 fans in the sold-out Fenway Park erupted into a deafening chorus of cheers as Jason Varitek lifted Buchholz off the ground. With this performance, Buchholz became the first Red Sox rookie to throw a no-hitter.


September 3, 1977 – Sadaharu Oh Hits Home Run No. 756


Among the vast, star-studded list of Japanese baseball players, there is one person who has the strongest argument for standing at the top: Sadaharu Oh.

At the end of his 22-year-long career, Oh retired with the most home runs (868), RBIs (2,170), and walks (2,390) of any hitter in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) history. Oh’s career overlapped with that of fellow slugger Hank Aaron, who debuted five years before Oh.

Aaron retired in 1976, hitting his last home run, No. 755, on July 20 of that year. Oh was not far behind, ending the year with 716 career home runs. At 36 years old, and fresh off a season where he hit .325/.479/.725 with 49 home runs, it seemed as though the title of home run king was well within Oh’s grasp.

Oh finally conquered this throne on Sept. 3, 1977, when his Yomiuri Giants faced the Yakult Swallows. In the bottom of the third inning, Oh worked a 2-1 count against Yasumiro Suzuki. Oh missed with a wild hack at the next pitch, doing a 180 and almost falling out of the batter’s box. Suzuki, wanting to avoid a spot on the wrong side of history, threw the fifth pitch way outside for a ball. However, Suzuki couldn’t ignore Oh forever, and he sent the next pitch to the middle of the zone. In response, Oh sent career home run No. 756 to the middle of the right-field bleachers, launching the Korakuen Stadium into a frenzy.



September 6, 1995 – Cal Ripken Jr. Breaks Lou Gehrig’s Consecutive Games Record


Once upon a time, there was a man named Lou Gehrig. And he set a record that was viewed as unbreakable for over half a century: 2,130 consecutive games played.

Gehrig’s streak started in 1925 under the administration of Calvin Coolidge and ended in 1939 with FDR as president. No one really came close to beating Gehrig’s record, with only three players from ’39 to ’95 having a streak of 1,000+ games played in a row. Steve Garvey had the longest such period, but it only reached 1,207 games.

That all began to change on May 30, 1982, when a then-rookie Cal Ripken Jr. started at third base against the Blue Jays. Ripken drew one walk and struck out once as the Orioles were held to one hit. At the time, it was likely a game that every Orioles fan wanted to forget. But it would ultimately represent an important part of Orioles’ fandom as it was the first game in Ripken’s consecutive-games streak that stretched for 16 years.

Ripken would check off numerous accolades along the way to add to his trophy case: multiple MVPs, a World Series championship, Gold Glove awards, Silver Slugger awards, and many, many All-Star selections. But perhaps the most significant moment of Ripken’s legacy happened on Sept. 6, 1995 when the Orioles faced the California Angels.

46,272 fans filled Camden Yards to watch Ripken break Gehrig’s consecutive games streak. It didn’t matter that the Orioles were nine games under .500 and 19.5 GB in the division—people were there to witness history.

The fans had to wait until the fifth inning, when the game would become official, for that moment to arrive. Ripken’s first at-bat was not of much note, a pop out above home plate. But during the fourth inning, with the Orioles winning 2-1, Ripken came up to bat once more against Angels starter Shawn Boskie.

Thousands of camera flashes went off with every pitch. Ripken took three straight balls, successfully checking his swing on the last two, which were both breaking balls below the zone. On the fourth pitch, Boskie delivered a fastball right down broadway. Unfortunately for him, Ripken had the green light on 3-0.



The crowd erupted, with some fans holding up signs that read “CAL THANKS FOR SAVING BASEBALL,” in reference to the significantly decreased interest in the MLB that followed the ’94 strike.

That was the second biggest celebration of the night—the biggest one happened just one inning later when the game became official and the banner on the B&O Warehouse changed to “2,131.”



Ripken’s streak would continue through Sept. 19, 1998, ending at 2,632 games played in a row.


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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