Aug. 28: Tony Gwynn goes 4 for 5 and raises his average three points, to .406. On this day in 1941, with fewer at bats, Ted Williams was hitting .407. The baseball-watching nation decides that this is now serious. With a 4-3 loss the Braves drop to eight games behind the Montreal Expos in the National League East. The Cubs sweep the Mets and move within a win of .500 but still trail Cincinnati and Houston in the NL Central. Matt Williams, homerless in seven games, snaps off numbers 48 and 49.
Aug. 31: The Yankees' slump continues as the Detroit Tigers wallop New York 15-6. Gotham press is excited: DOES BUCK STOP HERE? the Daily News wonders. Yankee manager Buck Showalter refuses to comment; so does owner George Steinbrenner. However, Yanks Paul O'Neill and Wade Boggs remain contenders in the amazing batting-title chase.
Sept. 1: Major league rosters expand to 40 players, and the White Sox call up Michael Jordan, who homers in his first at bat in Chicago's 3-2 win over Baltimore. In another surprise move, the Cubs work out a deal with the agent of pitcher Sidd Finch; unfortunately, Finch chooses to remain "in a state of calm" in his Kathmandu retreat. The Cubs quickly locate disgraced closer Mitch Williams at his mother's home in Hico, Texas, and sign him for the rest of the season.
Sept. 2: Cub general manager Larry Himes, ripped in the media for signing Mitch Williams, abruptly quits. But in even bigger news for Cub fans, Ryne Sandberg comes out of retirement ("I never liked that Himes guy," he says) and re-signs with his old team. Meanwhile, Boston Red Sox manager Butch Hobson, on the hot seat, accepts a job offer from the University of Alabama. He will be an assistant associate athletic director at his alma mater once the baseball season ends.
Sept. 7: Marge Schott, even though she is disappointed by the lack of support from her tobacco-advantaged friends, enters municipal jail to serve a sentence of five days for her failure to obey the no-smoking ordinance at Riverfront Stadium. She pays her fine 20 minutes later and, as she leaves the hoosegow, tells The Cincinnati Enquirer that she had been under the mistaken impression she could "swap smokes" with other prisoners. Meanwhile, Matt Williams, with 54 homers, gets even more company in his pursuit of Maris's record. Ken Griffey Jr. now has 50, and Frank Thomas has 49. And San Francisco's Barry Bonds, continuing his torrid second half of the season, erupts for a pair and stands at 47. The Cubs' Mitch Williams enters the ninth inning of a game against the Expos, walks the bases loaded and allows the winning run.
Sept. 8: In a televised address from the Oval Office, President Clinton takes credit for new, improved employment figures. Although McDonnell Douglas announced another round of job cuts earlier in the day, Clinton reminds the country that "the jobs of nearly 800 young and undereducated Americans were dramatically rescued" by his intervention in the baseball strike. Their paychecks, which average $1.2 million, have kept the economy "humming," the President says. Labor Secretary Robert Reich displays charts that show "heightened" home run production under the Clinton Administration.
Sept. 9: Odd doings in the AL East. George Steinbrenner orders popular Yankee pitcher Jim Abbott, who has won only three games since May, sent down to Triple A Columbus. Abbott's teammates are outraged. The team continues to slide. Baltimore is unable to gain ground, but Boston's Roger Clemens shuts out the Kansas City Royals as the Red Sox continue to climb.
Sept. 11: Marge Schott sees the light, announces that she has quit smoking and embarks on a personal health regime that wins her plaudits—QUEEN CITY QUEEN—in USA Today. However, her decision to ban the sale of beer and bratwurst at Riverfront Stadium is predicted to have a deleterious effect on attendance. Tony Gwynn won't cool off. He's hitting .409, four points off Ted Williams's average for the same date in '41. The Cubs have lost just once since adding Mitch Williams and Ryne Sandberg. Atlanta ace Greg Maddux has locked up his third Cy Young Award. He is 18-7, and his ERA has dropped to 1.61. Barry Bonds hits his 49th home run in a bid for a record fourth MVP award. However, goodwill remains scarce in these parts as he keeps an SI writer waiting an entire road trip for an interview. He explains to teammate Matt Williams, "This is how Michael Bolton does it."
Sept. 14: Texas is swept by Kansas City but extends its lead in the AL West to eight games. Ken Griffey Jr. slams two dingers against the Oakland A's and moves ahead of Frank Thomas in the American League home run derby 53-51. Thomas's, teammate Michael Jordan remains hitless since hitting his home run, dropping his average to .036. The baseball experiment may be drawing to a close for Jordan, who announces he has a new book coming out—Fair Air: The Story of el Major League Home Run. A snickering Ozzie Guillen tells reporters that he intends to join the tennis circuit. Jack McDowell says to put him down for Lollapalooza.
Sept. 18: Matt Williams, homerless in five games, hits number 56. The Giants have 13 games remaining. Columnists agree that Williams is "virtually on pace." Ken Griffey Jr. rips his 54th and 55th. Records everywhere appear ready to topple. Chuck Knoblauch launches what seems to be his sixth home run of the season. However, he holds at second base. That's his 60th double—seven shy of the mark.