Darren O'Day-Joel Youngblood: What's in a Name
On Wednesday night in Toronto, the side-arming right-hander Darren O'Day made his Rangers' debut in extra innings against the Jays. What's so unusual? To the amusement of his new teammates, O'Day warmed up and pitched to Kevin Millar in the 11th wearing the No. 30 jersey of Kason Gabbard.
The problem was O'Day had been claimed off waivers from the Mets earlier in the day and had reported during the game at the Rogers Centre, meeting and greeting his new mates in the bullpen as the game progressed. His name had been on the lineup card submitted to umpires in the pre-game meeting at home plate, replacing the disabled Kris Benson, so he was eligible to compete. (Millar singled home the winner, scoring Vernon Wells from second base.)
O'Day's night immediately reminded me of Joel Youngblood and the unique day he had with the Mets and Expos back in 1982.
Youngblood became and is still the only player to collect a base hit for two different teams in two different cities in one day. The difference is that on that special day back in '82 he had the name "Youngblood" on the back of his uniform for both hits thanks to some conscientious leg-work by an Expos' equipment manager thinking outside the sewing machine.
On August 4, 1982, Youngblood started his day in centre field for the Mets at Wrigley Field. That was back in the day before lights on the North Side for the Cubs. Facing future Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins, Youngblood singled in the third inning. In the bottom of the fourth (around 3 p.m. EDT) Youngblood was replaced by Mookie Wilson. He had been traded to the Expos for journeyman lefty reliever Tom Gorman. After talking to Expos' GM John McHale, rather than taking a full day to report, Youngblood threw his equipment into a bag, went back to the team hotel, packed his suitcase and caught a flight to Philadelphia, arriving at the start of the Expos game vs. the Phillies.
Even Youngblood was surprised when he reached his locker at Veterans Stadium and found a jersey with his name on it. The Expos' equipment manager, now with the Marlins, the brilliant John Silverman, found out about the trade right after it happened. The path of least resistance would have been to simply hand him a jersey with any number, but Silverman proudly claimed he had never had a player enter a game in a generic uniform without his name on it since teams started putting names on jerseys and he wasn't about to start now. One of the visiting clubhouse guys at the Vet suggested his wife could sew the name on, so the jersey was driven over to the house where the seamstress for a day quickly stitched the name on the back. It was hanging there when Youngblood arrived.
The Expos' newcomer entered the game defensively for Jerry White in the bottom of the sixth and singled off lefty Steve Carlton in his only at-bat of the game in the seventh. His line for the day was 2-for-3 against two future Hall-of-Fame pitchers, Jenkins and Carlton, who combined for 613 career wins.
Plus, he had his name on the jersey in both towns. Take that Darren O'Day.