It's my birthday again, guys.
I remember when I was a youngster, watching older people celebrate their birthday and thinking, "that's it? That's all they're going to do?" It seemed like they barely cared.
Now I get it. Today's birthday will be exceedingly simple. A few text wishes. A small number of birthday presents. When the kid has moved away and the parents have passed on, there aren't a lot of people to make a big deal out of things. And that's OK.
It gives me that much more time to do some more baseball birthday research!
I've done a fair amount of that for previous birthday posts. I've mentioned a bunch of people born on my birthday and I've even mentioned some of the players born on my birthday who played for the Dodgers. That's pretty easy to do because it's a grand total of five. Here they are:
Don Ross (1938-46)
Tommy Tatum (1941-47)
Norm Sherry (1959-63)
John Purdin (1964-69)
Eric Surkamp (2011-16)
I have Dodger cards of Tatum, Sherry and Purdin. Ross played in just 10 games for the Dodgers in 1940. I don't know if he has a Dodger card. It's doubtful. Surkamp spent the majority of his time with the Giants and he played in just a single game for the Dodgers in 2015.
There isn't much more to write about that topic and I've addressed most of it before.
Another item I researched for my birthday is how the Dodgers did on the day I was born. It turned out pretty well.
But what about the Dodgers' record on my birthday? How have they done not only on the day I was born but on every July 16th?
Ah, there's a good idea. But it could get very involved.
To cut down on length, I decided to keep the timeline only to the years in which I followed baseball. How have the Dodgers done on my birthday from 1975-2020? That is something I had time to research. So I did.
The Dodgers are 18-16-1 on my birthday since 1975 (that's right, there's one tie, we'll get to that).
You may notice that the record adds up to just 35 games during a period that's 45 years. That's because sometimes there's no Dodger game on my birthday. You think 2020 is unusual with no games? There has been no Dodger game on my birthday in 1975, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1986, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018, too.
Most of those years are related to the All-Star Game, which usually lands near my birthday. In 1985 and 2013 the All-Star Game was played on my birthday (pretty much the highlight of the summer when that happens). In most of the other years in which the Dodgers didn't play, MLB was taking its All-Star break. That would've been the case in 2020, too, if there had been an All-Star Game.
The reason there was no game on my birthday in 1981 is because there was a baseball strike. And, yes, that was the saddest birthday ever.
I decided to put together a timeline of notable games involving the Dodgers on July 16 since 1975. So if you like a little bit of baseball history, here you go:
1976: There was no game for the first year I followed baseball as MLB was in the All-Star break on July 16 in 1975. Don Sutton made up for it the following year. He pitched a five-hit complete game, allowing just one run as the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 4-1.
1977: Tommy John throws a complete-game shutout against the Padres, outdueling Bob Owchinko, and the Dodgers win 1-0. Do you see why I lament modern pitchers' inability to go deep into games. The Dodgers of my childhood absolutely ruled in this area during my formative years.
1978: The only Dodgers doubleheader played on my birthday since I started following baseball. The Dodgers split with the Cubs, losing the first 3-2 and winning the second 5-3. Dusty Baker went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs in the second game. Burt Hooton pitched the win, going 8 1/3 innings.
1980: One of the Dodgers' nemeses of my early rooting days, Rick Reuschel, throws a complete game against L.A. as the Cubs win 4-1. This game is decided in the sixth when Bill Russell makes a key error. I was always down on Russell for doing stuff like this.
1982: The Dodgers come back from a 3-0 first-inning deficit to beat the Mets, 7-6. Pedro Guerrero and Ron Cey hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning. The Mets tie the game in the fourth, but Dusty Baker hits a home run in the 4th to put L.A. ahead again. The 5th inning is my favorite though. Ron Cey hits a single then steal second (The Penguin steals!). He moves to third on a fly out and then scores on a force out. Speedster!
1983: Pedro Guerrero, an absolute wrecking crew at this point, goes 4-for-5 with five RBIs and a triple as the Dodgers knock Fergie Jenkins out of the game in the second inning and beat the Cubs, 7-4.
1984: The Pirates' Bob Walk holds the Dodgers to a single run over 8 1/3 innings as Pittsburgh wins 4-1.
1987: The second Dodgers shutout on my birthday since 1975. Fernando Valenzuela does not allow a run despite allowing seven hits over nine innings and strikes out eight as the Dodgers beat the Pirates, 7-0. Mickey Hatcher and Mariano Duncan hit home runs.
1988: The Dodgers and Cubs finish in a 2-2 tie as the game is called due to rain after nine innings in a daytime meeting at Wrigley Field. This game occurred less than a month before the first night game at Wrigley Field, and scrapped a pitching duel between Orel Hershiser and Jamie Moyer.
1990: The only MLB pitching victory of Terry Wells' career came on my birthday. Wells pitched six innings and allowed four hits and one run for his first big league win in the Dodgers' 5-2 victory over the Cardinals.
1993: The Dodgers beat the Expos 2-1 when Dave Hansen knocks in Tim Wallach with a single in the bottom of the ninth. Expos reliever John Wetteland throws a wild pitch that advances Wallach from second to third.
1994: Ugly game that the Phillies win 10-6. Ramon Martinez allows nine runs in 4 1/3 innings but just five are earned as Martinez commits an error and Eric Karros commits two.
1996: More fielding disasters, I don't know why the Dodgers have had so much trouble fielding for much of my fandom. They've cleaned it up in the last 10, 15 years but before that, brother, Ramon Martinez commits two errors, Karros and Delino DeShields commit one each, and the Padres win 10-1.
1997: The Marlins' Kevin Brown throws a one-hitter against the Dodgers. Raul Mondesi gets the only hit, a fifth inning single, for L.A in a 5-1 loss. This is the beginning of Edgar Renteria plaguing the Dodgers on my birthday. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in this game.
1998: Dodgers bash the Cardinals, 8-2. Raul Mondesi and Gary Sheffield each hit homers and Wilton Guerrero goes 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot.
2001: Eric Gagne starts and wins for the second straight year on my birthday. Wow. He pitches a four-hitter over eight innings as the Dodgers beat the Pirates, 6-4. Adrian Beltre hits a home run and drives in four. In 2000 on July 16, Gagne also beat the Pirates.
2002: Edgar Renteria goes 4-for-4 and drives in two as the Cardinals win 9-2. I did not like that guy.
2005: I am very amused by this game. The Dodgers beat the Giants, 5-4 by walking off in the ninth. Down 4-3 entering the inning, and down to their final out, the Dodgers tie the game on a walk, single and a run-scoring double by Cesar Izturis. Jeff Kent is intentionally walked to get to Jason Phillips. Phillips delivers a single that scores Oscar Robles with the winning run. After the game is over, three Giants are ejected for arguing that Phillips' check swing on a pitch should have been strike three and ended the game.
2009: Astros 3, Dodgers 0. This is the only time the Dodgers have been shut out on my birthday since '75. Why'd we even play this game?
2010: Cardinals 8, Dodgers 4. Manny Ramirez injures his leg and leaves the game. The Dodgers leave 12 runners on base. Bleah. There are a lot more of these games on my birthday than they were when I was younger.
2016: Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 1 (12 innings). The longest game on my birthday since '75. Brandon Drury decides it with a run-scoring single. This is after the Dodgers intentionally walk two straight batters. Oh, and the Dodgers leave 15 runners on base. The Dodgers are 0-5 on my birthday between 2009-2016.
2017: The most recent Dodgers win on my birthday. Dodgers beat the Marlins, 3-2. Rich Hill strikes out nine in five innings to get the win. Justin Turner hits a first-inning home run. Not the most exciting game.
2019: Phillies 9, Dodgers 8. The most recent game on my birthday. The Dodgers rally from a 6-1 deficit after two innings and lead 8-6 in the 9th after Matt Beaty hits a pinch-hit, three-run homer. But Bryce Harper hits a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Phillies manager Gabe Kapeler and reliever Hector Neris are ejected for Neris hitting David Freese.
So those are the highlights.
As a longtime follower of the Dodgers, I know that my team used to do a lot better on my birthday then they have lately. Since '75, they were 8-3-1 on my birthday in 1990 and 14-8-1 on my birthday in 2001. They've been 4-8 since.
I've also noted the rhythm and flow of the schedule and there was a definite pattern before interleague play started. L.A. usually played NL East teams around my birthday in the '70s and '80s and that's why there were so many games against the Cubs, Pirates and Phillies earlier on.
The Dodgers rarely play division rivals on my birthday, although of late the Diamondbacks have snuck in and nothing as annoying as a Diamondbacks game should be happening on my birthday. The Dodgers have played just one interleague game on my birthday. They beat the Angels, 3-1, in 1999.
Here are the individual team records on my birthday since 1975:
As for notable teams missing from this list, the Dodgers haven't played the Braves on my birthday since 1971 and they haven't played the Reds on my birthday since 1968. They've never played the Rockies on my birthday.
There may be a few statistical glitches in the above research but I'm not super focused on accuracy. I just want to get a good idea of what happened on this day. Someday, when I'm retired and have completely run out of tasks and hobbies, I will compile my all-time Dodgers team based on birthday performance. Stats and so forth.
But right now there's cake to eat and presents to open so all of the above will have to do.