The night the Cubs’ Andre Dawson got intentionally walked a record five times
‘Five? Oh, my God. But the situations warranted it,’ said Reds manager Lou Piniella
When a team doesn’t fix something that ain’t broke, things usually work out great. In the case of the Cincinnati Reds on May 22, 1990, that tactic, which got the team all the way into the 16th inning with the Chicago Cubs, eventually failed them.
Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson came into the matchup leading the National League in home runs and RBIs. Reds manager Lou Piniella’s strategy was to not pitch to the 35-year-old slugger. As Dory from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory would say: Just keep walking him, just keep walking him.
Frankly, to walk Dawson as many times as Cincinnati did — five, a major league record — was the ultimate compliment.
“How many times did we do it?” Piniella asked. “Five? Oh, my God. But the situations warranted it.”
Ultimately, it didn’t pan out in Piniella’s favor. The record-breaking walk loaded the bases for the Cubs in the bottom of the 16th inning, and when Dave Clark succeeded Dawson in the batter’s box, he singled to give Chicago a 2-1 win.
In the first nine innings, Dawson was walked twice: in the bottom of the first with two outs and a man on second, and in the bottom of the eighth with the score tied at 0 and a runner on third.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Piniella decided to walk Dawson again in the 12th, which loaded the bases. The manager was really feeling himself on this night because immediately after walking Dawson, Lloyd McClendon grounded out to close the inning.
Chris Sabo gave Cincinnati a brief 1-0 lead with a home run in the top of the 13th. But that was matched by Chicago’s Luis Salazar in the bottom of the inning, and the game continued.
In the 14th inning, when Dawson stepped up with two outs and a runner on second, Piniella stuck to his game plan and walked the right fielder. And again, Piniella looked like a genius, as Clark struck out.
Two innings later, Piniella walked Dawson to load the bases for the second time in the evening, but Piniella’s luck ran out this time, as Clark ended the game with a single to bring home the runner on third.
Before Dawson took the crown, the record for a player being intentionally walked was four, set by the New York Yankees’ Roger Maris against the Angels on May 22, 1962, and the San Diego Padres’ Garry Templeton against Pittsburgh on July 5, 1985.
In the past 27 years, only two players have gotten close to Dawson: Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez. Bonds was intentionally walked four times in a nine-inning game not once but twice in 2004, on May 1 and Sept. 22. Ramirez was intentionally walked four times in an 18-inning game in 2001.