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On This Date in Sports September 12, 1962; 21 K

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Tom Cheney goes the distance and beyond to earn the win as the Washington Senators beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 in 16 innings at Memorial Stadium. Along the way, Cheney allows one run on ten hits and four walks while striking out a record 21 batters. On a day long before pitch counts, Tom Cheney threw 228 pitches and never felt tired, according to manager Mickey Vernon.

Tom Cheney was a right-handed pitcher born in Morgan, Georgia, on October 14, 1934. He first reached the majors in 1957 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Cheney would see limited action with the Cardinals in 1957 and 1959, as he missed the 1958 season due to military service. In 1960, Tom Cheney made three appearances in the World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates but continued to split time between majors and minors and was traded to the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. Tom Cheney final spent a full season in the majors in 1962 with the Senators. A durable pitcher, he made 37 appearances, with 23 starts and 14 relief appearances.

Making the start in a Beltway Battle between the Washington Senators and Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium, Tom Cheney held a 5-8 record as he opposed Milt Pappas. Before he even threw his first pitch, Cheney was staked to a 1-0 lead as the Senators scratched out a run in the first inning. Pitching in and out of trouble, Cheney seemed to get stronger as the game continued. However, in the seventh inning, the Orioles tied the game when Charlie Lau delivered a pinch-hit single to score Marv Breeding. That would only run, Tom Cheney allowed, as he had 13 strikeouts at the end of nine innings. Instead of going to the bullpen, Senators' manager Mickey Vernon kept Tom Cheney in the game as it went to extra innings. He held the Orioles off balance, requesting to stay in the game despite topping 200 pitches. In the 15th inning, Tom Cheney became the first pitcher to reach 20 strikeouts when he sat down Russ Snyder. Finally, in the 16th inning, the Senators regained the lead on a home run by Bud Zipfel. With a 16-inning complete game, Cheney pitched around a one-out single to finish Baltimore for a 2-1 victory. Tom Cheney struck out pinch hitter Dick Williams to end the game and reach 21 strikeouts.  With the win, Cheney improved to 6-8 the season.

Following the marathon 21-strikeout effort, Tom Cheney was hit by the New York Yankees in his next start, finishing the season with a record of 7-9. His best season would come in 1963, when he had an 8-9 record with a 2.71 ERA before being shut down with an elbow injury in July. The elbow injury would end Cheney’s career; he only saw limited action over the next three seasons. Tom Cheney believed that the record-breaking game played a significant role in his elbow problems that began in 1963. He finished his career with a record of 19-29 with an ERA of 3.77 and 345 strikeouts.