Michael Troelstrup is a sports fan, commentator, and contributor to online publications within the professional sports industry. In the following article, Mike Troelstrup discusses some of the most special, historic moments captured in the outfield that bring a sense of joy to America’s favorite game even today.
There’s something inherently democratic about baseball.
Whether it is played in a backyard, playground, or huge stadium, baseball can be enjoyed by anyone. The sport may take skill, but it doesn’t rely on that. Fans of all ages, from all backgrounds, are united in the thrill of witnessing a stolen base or a grand slam.
Since its invention in the U.S. during the mid-19th century, the sport of baseball has had an immeasurable number of iconic moments. Here are five that are arguably the most unforgettable.
Michael Troelstrup on Breaking Baseball Barriers
On April 15, 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, making him Major League Baseball’s first Black player. Of the over 26,000 fans to see Robinson’s first game, 14,000 of them were Black.
Michael Troelstrup reports that baseball’s integration on this day did not reflect society at the time. It would be nearly a decade before the Civil Rights Movement finally took shape. Robinson faced unrelenting racism, both on and off the field. Some teams spoke out against Robinson and others reportedly planned protests if the Dodgers came to their town.
However, Robinson’s stoicism eventually won out, inspiring fans of all races and helping to fuel overdue societal change. Just eight years after he joined the Dodgers, Robinson helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series win.
The record lasted nearly 40 years and seemed unbreakable. That is, until Hank Aaron clobbered his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, besting Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs, which were set during one of his last games on May 25, 1935.
Michael Troelstrup explains that Aaron then went on to hit 40 more over his final two seasons, and Aaron’s record was later smashed by Barry Bonds in 2007.
Still, notching 700 home runs remains an exclusive club. Just four players are members: Ruth, Aaron, Bonds and Albert Pujols, who joined in 2022.
The Cubs and the Red Sox Finally Win the World Series
It was a long-running joke that certainly wasn’t funny to millions of Chicagoans. Ever since the World Series in 1908, the Chicago Cubs had yet to reclaim the championships.
Michael Troelstrup says that this so-called “curse” was rather bizarre, attributed to the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern in 1945 after he and his pet goat were not admitted to the Cubs’ World Series appearance that year. That curse was shattered on Nov. 2, 2016.
Just two years earlier, the long-suffering Boston Red Sox overcame a curse of its own, taking home the team’s first title since 1918 and (somewhat) erasing the memory of Bill Buckner’s devastating error during the World Series in 1986, as well as the “Curse of the Bambino” which stemmed from Babe Ruth being sold from the Red Sox to the New York Yankees in 1920.
Round the World
Michael Troelstrup notes that baseball’s 1951 season was arguably its most memorable, thanks to the intense rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. By the end of the regular season, both teams had the same exact record of 96-58. They had to play a three-game series for the National League pennant.
The teams reached the third game of the series, tied 1-1. The third game itself was also tied 1-1 in the seventh inning before the Dodgers pulled ahead. Finally, at the bottom of the ninth, down 4-2, the Giants fought back. Bobby Thomson hit a three-run home run to score the victory — in the bottom of the ninth during a quasi-playoff game.
No wonder Thomson’s feat is known as “the shot heard ‘round the world.”
Michael Troelstrup explains that the 62,000 fans who showed up for Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day on July 4, 1939, are a testament to the power of this game and those who play it. Just two months after playing his final game with the New York Yankees, Gehrig was honored with several gits, plaques, and having his No. 4 jersey retired, the first number to ever be retired in baseball.
However, it was ultimately his heart-wrenching speech that became unforgettable, with Gehrig noting how he considers himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Just two years later, Gehrig died from complications related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the condition that today is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
- 1932: Babe Ruth makes his iconic called shot during the 1932 World Series, gesturing to the outfield and seemingly predicting a home run.
- 1943: During the height of World War II, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is formed in response to the absence of 340 MLB players in active military service.
- 1991: Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan notches the seventh no-hitter in his career, setting a record that still stands today.
- 1995: Baltimore Orioles legendary shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, surpassing Gehrig’s record. He ultimately went on to play in 2,632 consecutive games before finally retiring in 1998.