Well, this first one occurred on two different fields, in two different cities. Joel Youngblood was a typical serviceable player. Joel made his MLB debut on April 13, 1976 and finished his MLB career on September 29, 1989 both in uniform for the Cincinnati Reds, this is not all that strange of course. During his career he played for the Reds (1976), the St. Louis Cardinals (1977), the New York Mets (1977-1982), Montreal Expos (1982), the San Francisco Giants (1983-1988) and again the Reds (1989). This 6-foot-tall, 180lbs, righted handed thrower and batter was predominantly an outfield, but also provided service at third base and handled pinch hitting duties. He had a career batting average of .265, hit 80 home runs and 422 runs batted in. He appeared in one All-Star Game in 1981 as the Mets only representative. After retiring, he served as a coach for several organizations and managed the Kane County Cougars, a Baltimore Orioles farm system team in the Midwest League in 1992. A nice baseball life.
Back to the strange occurrence, on August 4, 1982, Joel was playing for the Mets. He was playing centerfield and in the third inning, he hit a single driving in two runs against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in an afternoon game (this being prior to Wrigley having lights). The next inning, Mookie Wilson replaced him in centerfield, because Youngblood had been traded to the Montreal Expos. He quickly boarded a flight to Philadelphia to join the Expos who were playing the Phillies. He ended up hitting a seventh inning single. He is the only player in major league history to hit safely for two different teams, in two different cities. Not to mention, both pitchers he got his hits against were future Hall of Famers, Fergie Jenkins of the Cubs and Steve “Lefty” Carlton of the Phillies. Not a bad day.
Ritchie Ashburn was a 5’10, 170lbs center fielder who threw right-handed and batted left-handed. Richie’s MLB debut was on April 20, 1948 and his last game was on September 30, 1962. His best years were the 12 seasons he spent with the Philadelphia Phillies, he played two years with the Chicago Cubs and endured the disastrous first season of the New York Mets and then retired. He was inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. In his career he had a .308 batting average, 2,574 hits, 29 home runs and 586 runs batted in. Ritchie was a six-time All-Star, two-time National League Batting Champ, and led the National League in stolen bases in 1948. After retiring, he broadcasted for the Phillies until his death in 1997.
Side note: Ritchie was known for his dry humor. He said to Harry Kalas, his broadcasting partner, that one of his superstitions while playing was keeping his bats with him while he was hitting successfully; taking them home or to the hotel and sleeping with them as he didn’t trust the clubhouse guys to give him the same bat each game. Ashburn put it to Kalas that he had “slept with a lot of old bats” in his playing days. Classic line; but sorry, I digress.
On August 17, 1957, playing for the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in a day game against the New York Giants, Ritchie, always a contact hitter fouled a ball into the stands that struck a spectator, Alice Roth, breaking her nose. She was the wife of the Philadelphia Bulletin’s sports editor, Earl Roth. Play was stopped as she was treated; when play resumed, Ashburn fouled off another ball and you guessed it, hit Alice while she was being carried off on a stretcher. The second foul did more damage, it broke a bone in poor Alice’s leg. What are the odds? Richie and Alice formed a friendship through this incident, though she began sitting in the outfield seats from then on. Eventually the Roth’s grandson became a Phillies bat boy. By the way, the Phillies beat the Giants 3-1 as Ashburn went 2-4 with a double.
More strange occurrences at a later date. What are some of the things you remember?
~ Coach Mike