Aug. 30, 1987: When Geno Petralli had one of the worst games ever

Throughout its long and celebrated history in baseball, the knuckleball has vexed many hitters.It’s vexed plenty of catchers, too. And on Aug. 30, 1987, Rangers catcher Geno Petralli had one of the toughest days in MLB history.That was the day when Charlie Hough’s knuckleball dipped and dived enoughto allow Petralli to tie adubious record six pa sed balls in one game. MORE: 10 single-season MLB feats we’ll never see againHere’s the breakdown of those pa sed balls: First inning, leading Lou Whitaker to score on a groundout; Third inning, allowing a Whitaker to score from third; Fifth inning, allowing Whitaker to reach first base on a strikeout; Fifth inning, allowing Whitaker, who had stolen second, to reach third, and leading to another run on a groundout; Seventh inning, allowing a runner to score from third and advancing anotherrunner to third; Seventh inning, allowing the other runner to score from thirdSix pa sed balls, leading to seven unearned runs all the runs the Tigers scored that day for a 7-0 lo s.Could you imagine being a Rangers fan and watching this inning unfold on television?He threw the ball great today.We’d still be out there playing if I’d caught the ball,” Petralli said after the game.”I let in all their runs.Up to that point in the season, the Rangers had been charged with 61 pa sed balls; 53 of them came when Hough was on the mound.Before Petralli’s six pa sed balls, the modern record was set way back on Oct. 4, 1902, by Harry Vickers of the Reds. Tom Egan of the the Angels held the previous American League record of five, which he set on July 28, 1970.MORE: Every MLB team’s worst regular-season memory, revisitedThe all-time record of 12 pa sed balls was set by a player named Alex Gardner who played for Washington in the American A sociation back in 1884. And in the all-time leader for pa sed balls is Rudy Kemmler of the Columbus Buckeyes. He was charged with 114 in 1883.Petrallifinished the 1987 season with 35 pa sed balls, which is still the modern record. He finished his playing career with 95 pa sed balls in 574 games. He retired after the 1993 season atage34.Hough, meanwhile, pitched his last game on July 26, 1994. He was nearly 47 years old.While Petralli might’ve dreaded catching the knuckleball after that day in 1987, some catchers seemed to thrive on it.Back in 2006, the Red Sox famously pulled off a trade to bring back Doug Mirabelli just so he could catch Tim Wakefield’s knuckler. Mirabelli, a career .231 hitter, was nearing the end of his not-so-stellar baseball career and only batting .182 with the Padres when the Sox traded for him. But his bat wasn’t what the Sox wanted; they need a catcher to tame Wakefield’s signature pitch.The trade for Mirabelliwas such a big production that it involved a police escort to get him to Fenway in time for a game against the Yankees (for more on that, read this excellent oral history from the Hardball Times).The Rangers could’ve used him in 1987, Jason Castro Jersey had he not been in high schoolat the time.

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