Tuesday, January 04, 2005

January 4th, 1931

Roger Connor Dies

Roger Connor was one of the game's early stars and a one-man source of various records, firsts and trivia. Although it was not determined until well after his death, Connor--who hit more than ten home runs seven times in the 1800s, itself a record--held the for career record for home runs, 138, until Babe Ruth broke it in 1921. Of course, thanks to the shoddy record keeping at the time, no one (least of all Connor himself) had any idea what the record was or who held it.

Connor was a large man even by modern standards, 6'3", 220 pounds, but for the 1800s he was huge and it was because of Connor and others that the "New York Giants" were so-named. Connor used his size to not just establish the home-run record but also to establish some home run firsts. According to the Hall of Fame, Connor was the first man to hit a HR over the fence at the Polo Grounds in
New York. The Hall of Fame also credits Connor, on September 10, 1881 as hitting the first grand slam in history, a walk-off grand slam no less.

January 4th, 2002

Ron Gardenhire hired to manage Minnesota Twins

Ron Gardenhire has since proven himself to be a wise hiring, winning at least ninety games and a division title in each of his first three seasons with the Twins, plus a trip to the ALCS his first year. The interesting trivia of his hiring however was that he was being hired to manage a team that if Bud Selig and Twins' owner Carl Pohlad had gotten their way, would not have existed for him to manage. At the time of Gardenhire's hiring, Selig and Pohlad (who is, incidentally, said to be the model for The Simpsons' C. Montgomery Burns) were attempting to eliminate both the Twins and Montreal Expos. Gardenhire had been a Twins' coach for eleven years and was hired in part because fellow Twins' coach Paul Molitor withdrew his name from consideration, not wanting to be hired as manage of a team that would never exist. At his hiring press conference, GM Terry Ryan admitted he had not announced a manager sooner because Pohlad (who, incidentally, got his start handing out foreclosure notices during the depression) had not given him permission but went ahead when Major League Baseball realized they were unlikely to escape the Twins' lease with the Metrodome.

Gardenhire escaped being the first manage to be hired but never manage a game, something which had never happened until the four day tenure of Wally Backman (who had been a teammate of Gardenhire on the 1984 Mets) as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2004 off-season.

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