On May 5, 1988 the Seattle Mariners set a major league record.
Here is what happened.
Billy Swift pitched for the Mariners against Rick Rhoden of the New York Yankees in the Kingdome. Swift had pitched two complete games in a row, including a three hitter against the Yankees eleven days earlier.
Swift struck out two batters; Claudell Washington in the first and Rickey Henderson in the third.
There was only one fly ball hit into the outfield, that by Jack Clark in the second to centerfielder Henry Cotto.
The rest of the outs, 24 in number, came on ground ball outs.
Two batters grounded out to first unassisted; two grounded out pitcher to first; three grounded out third to first; five batters grounded out second to first; and eight grounded out short to first.
For those keeping score that comes to twenty. The other four outs coming on ground balls were two double plays, a 4-6-3 and a 5-4-3.
The record was most assists by one infield in a game at 22.
Most assists by one infield in one game is not a glamour stat, but it is still a record and when you are a Mariner fan it is these eccentric, obscure games that we can say, “I was there.”
And it was beautiful to watch. Swift and his sinker had never been better. Ground ball after ground ball after ground ball.
He pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and the Mariners won 6-1, the lone Yankee run scoring on a ground out-what else!
The win made Swift 5-1 on the season with a 3.48 e.r.a. He finished 8-12, 4.59.
But on that night Swift was the master.