Bob Watson was a quality hitter for the Astros, but he might be best known for scoring the millionth run in MLB history in 1975. Focus on Sport/Getty Images

May 4 in sports history: How Astro earned a million Tootsie Rolls

Here's a look back at notable sports news on May 4 through the years.

Besides great expanses of green grass, hot dogs and Bryce Harper, what else do we miss most about Major League Baseball? Well, it must be the weirdness — the head-scratching bizarreness like these events on this date:

1975: Eager to go down in the history books, Houston's Bob Watson scored the millionth run in major league history, racing home on a three-run homer by Milt May in an 8-6 loss at San Francisco. Watson scored seconds ahead of the Reds' Dave Concepcion, who, aware he could be the millionth run himself, sprinted around the bases on his homer in Cincinnati. 

The commissioner's office went to elaborate lengths to track runs, and players and teams eagerly kept tabs as MLB neared the magic million mark. A "computer-type center," according to The Associated Press, was set up in New York to pinpoint when the millionth run scored. It was equipped with clocks accurate to the thousandth of a second.  Each time a run scored, the information was relayed instantly to the command center, where an "electrical board put into lights" the dwindling number of runs needed to reach a million.

Asked about the historic run by reporters after the game, Watson said: "I played such a small part in this great game — I'm just glad I could do my part." Concepcion, on the other hand, was bummed: "It broke my heart. Maybe my grandchildren will get the 2 millionth run."

The Tootsie Roll candy company, sponsor of a millionth run promotion, awarded Watson a million Tootsie Rolls, which he gave to the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts. (He did, however, keep a platinum watch awarded by Seiko for the achievement.)

1963: In a game twice interrupted by rain, an umpiring crew led by Al Barlick called seven balks — including a big league record five against Bob Shaw of the Milwaukee Braves. Shaw, who walked six in the 7-5 loss to the Cubs, was so unnerved by the calls that he was thrown out for arguing with Barlick in the fifth inning. 

"Al's eagle eye also enabled him to add Denny Lemaster and Paul Toth to his list of victims," the Chicago Tribune reported about the "balk-happy" start to the season.

Strictly enforcing the balk rule was a big thing early in 1963. The previous day, the same umpiring crew called three balks in a game between the teams.

1980: In spring training, White Sox manager Tony LaRussa said he wouldn't hesitate to use left-handed first baseman Mike Squires at catcher in a pinch.  No left-handed catcher had played in the big leagues since Dale Long with the Cubs in 1958.  "I used to catch in Little League," Squires said then. "I'd really like to try it again." Squires finally got his chance against the Brewers, catching the final inning of an 11-1 loss.

1996: In two days in Detroit, Rangers pitchers were masterful. First, Ken Hill one-hit the Tigers, retiring the last 26 batters he faced in an 11-0 win. Then Roger Pavlik followed on this date with a one-hitter of his own in a 3-1 win. Neither pitcher issued a walk. "It doesn't matter what stadium you're in when you get those kinds of performances," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said, according to The Associated Press. "Good pitching is good pitching wherever you are." It was the eighth time a team had pitched back-to-back one-hitters in the majors.

2018: In the first regular-season MLB game in Mexico since 1996, Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler and three relievers combined for the franchise’s 23rd no-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Padres. In his third start in the majors, Buehler went six innings. Relievers Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore closed it out.  "We're all pretty excited about it," Buehler told the Los Angeles Times after he was doused by Tecate beer in the locker room by teammates.

2018: In a 5-0 win over the Mariners, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols singled to become the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club. After the milestone hit, the Angels congregated around Pujols for hugs and helmet slaps. "It was hard to keep hugging everybody," Pujols told the Los Angeles Times, "so I just told them, 'Let's do a group hug.'"


2009: 24-year-old LeBron James, who averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists for the Cavs, was named MVP over Kobe Bryant.  "It takes a lot of sweat," Cleveland GM Danny Ferry told the Dayton Daily News of the effort to win the award. "I've been fortunate enough to watch him sweat the past four years when no one else was around."

Six years later on this date, the Warriors' Stephen Curry cried when family members told him he was selected NBA MVP. He averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 2.04 steals for the champs, who beat LeBron's Cavaliers in six games in the NBA Finals.  "His spirit," Jay Mariotti of the San Francisco Examiner wrote about Curry, "pervades an organization that, before [his] arrival and during his initial seasons here, was a laughingstock."


2013: In his first fight after a year's absence from boxing, unbeaten welterweight Floyd Mayweather scored a unanimous 12-round decision over Robert Guerrero. He also earned a massive payday: $32 mlllion. "I was looking for the knockout, could've had it, but hurt my right hand," Mayweather said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Mayweather had his dad, Floyd Sr., in his corner for the first time in 13 seasons. "Honestly, Floyd could have danced the whole night," Mayweather's father told reporters. "There wasn't anything he couldn't do in there tonight."

Happy birthday ...

  • Hall of Fame basketball player and coach Dawn Staley, who is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and carried the U.S. flag at the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. (50)
  • Rory McIlroy, current world No. 1 golfer. Born in Northern Ireland, McIlroy is the winner of four majors and two FedEx Cups and was named the 2019 PGA TOUR Player of the Year. (31)
  • The Pacers' Victor Oladipo, picked second overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by Orlando. The two-time All-Star was named the 2017-18 Most Improved Player in a year when he led the league in steals. (28)
  • Golfer Betsy Rawls, winner of eight majors and 55 LPGA Tour events. She is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame. (92)


2010: Veteran baseball announcer Ernie Harwell. Harwell started his broadcast career with the Brooklyn Dodgers then lent his voice to the New York Giants. In 1954, he became the first announcer for the Baltimore Orioles and finished his career in the booth with Detroit. Harwell died of cancer one day before he was to receive the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting. He was 92.

May 3: A great "unknown" goes to Giants

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