Major League Baseball hasn’t seen a day of games like Friday since 1974.
Baseball fans anxiously waited months for the Major League season to begin. On Friday, they’re going to be rewarded with more baseball than they could’ve asked for in a slate of games unseen for 46 years.
A combination of weather delays and COVID-19 postponements means that 20 MLB games are on the schedule for Friday, the most in a single day since Aug. 4, 1974. Ten teams will play seven-inning doubleheaders. All 30 clubs are in action for only the second time since July 26.
What was the MLB like the last time there were this many games?
The last time there was such an action-packed day of baseball, the game was much different. There were only 24 teams in the league, meaning there were eight double-headers. The starting pitchers that day included Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry and Catfish Hunter, but also lesser-known names like Herb Hutson (making the second, and last, start of his career).
Padres rookie pitcher Dave Freisleben pitched 13 innings in the second game of the doubleheader against the Reds, shutting out the Big Red Machine of Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Johnny Bench on eight hits. He still didn’t win the game; that honor went to Rusty Gerhardt, who came on to pitch the 14th in a 1-0 Padres victory.
Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt hit two home runs for the Phillies against the Cardinals; Dick Allen, who had his number retired by the Phillies on Thursday, also homered, but for the White Sox. The Brewers Don Money homered in both ends of the doubleheader against Cleveland. Current Astros manager Dusty Baker went 3-7 with a home run in a doubleheader against the Giants at Candlestick Park while playing for the Braves. Batting just behind him in the Braves lineup, Hank Aaron hit two doubles in the second game.
The Dodgers beat the Astros 2-1 for their seventh straight victory to take a 6.5 game lead in the division; they would go on to win 102 games and the NL pennant. The Astros starting pitcher against Los Angeles was Dave Roberts. No, not that one. The headline in newspapers across the country were about whether President Richard Nixon would resign or face impeachment (he would step down five days later).
That’s not the most games played in a single day, however. There were 21 on Sept. 7, 1970, featuring nine doubleheaders in a 24-team league. There were also 20 games played twice in July 1973, and on Sept. 4, 1972.
The 20-game slate exemplifies the weirdness of the 2020 season. The Twins host the Tigers for the first game of the day at 2:10 ET. They’ll play again at 5:10, only this time the Tigers will be the home team. The Athletics are playing for the first time since Saturday after pitcher Daniel Mengden tested positive for COVID-19.
And, of course, there won’t be any fans there to see the games in person. But at least they could watch on television, enjoying any game they want thanks to online streaming and sports packages. That’s something not available to fans back in 1974.
So enjoy today, baseball fans, because days like it don’t come around too often.