As 2 million runs approach, it all started with the Atlanta Braves

Bob Watson #27 of the Houston Astros bats against the Phillies in 1978. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Bob Watson #27 of the Houston Astros bats against the Phillies in 1978. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Atlanta Braves
Dave Concepcion of the Cincinnati Reds scored run #1,000,001 against the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Run one million… Atlanta was involved here, too

Baseball’s millionth run came on May 4, 1975 — 99 years and 12 days after run #1.  I suppose it says a lot that the second million will be completed just 46 years later, but having grown the sport to 30 teams, that’s the obvious reason for the accelerated pace.

In 1975, though, MLB heard about this million mark and immediately went into Marketing Mode.  They got sponsors (Tootsie Roll and Seiko).  They installed “countdown clocks” in every stadium.  They promoted the heck out of it.  The players actually bought into the fun, too.

MLB even set up a phone system by which “spotters” would be reporting live run-scoring details… just in case there might be an issue with determining who scored run 1,000,000.

That phone system turned out to be a vital necessity on May 4th.

You may already have known that Houston’s Bob Watson is credited with run 1,000,000.  What you may not know is just how many other players were oh-so-close to the distinction.

According to various reports…

  • In their 6th inning, the Indians had John Lowenstein on second base.  A pickoff attempt failed (E1) to move him to third base with 1 out and (reportedly) 999,999 runs on the board.  Two groundouts later, he was left stranded.
  • The Yankees had the bases loaded with 1 out in their 4th inning.  Future Brave Chris Chambliss was on third.  A bouncer to first base resulted in a forceout at the plate.  A strikeout then ended the inning, which stranded Thurman Munson at third.
  • Here’s the play I wanted to see:  in the second inning of the Twins/Royals game, speedy Rod Carew was on third with nobody out.  A fly out to right field resulted in a double play — somehow, Carew was thrown out at the plate.

But it came down to a Houston/Giants game vs. a Reds/Braves game… yep, the Braves were involved (kinda).