A version of this story originally ran in January 2021.
It was Aug. 4, 1982, and it started out as a pretty typical day for Joel Youngblood.
Sure, there were trade rumors swirling around with his impending free agency in 1983, but those had been there for most of the season. Besides, he was an All-Star just the year before -- why would the Mets want to get rid of him?
"The thought was do the best you can, roll with the punches and go forward," Youngblood told me.
That's what the outfielder was thinking as he dug into the box in the third inning during a day game at Wrigley Field against the Cubs' Ferguson Jenkins. (He probably, mostly, should've been thinking about facing future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins).
Maybe Youngblood was going to get traded, maybe he wasn't -- but he had to keep doing his job and play baseball.
He eventually got a hit, a single that dropped in between the left and center fielders. It scored two runs and gave the Mets a 3-1 lead.
And then, well, things got crazy.
"It was kind of interesting, [the trade] happened right in the middle of the game," Youngblood remembers.
In the bottom of the third inning, after giving his team the lead, Youngblood was pulled from the field because he was now a member of a new team: the Montreal Expos. Mets GM Frank Cashen had actually hoped to make the deal before the game started, but there was a phone circuit problem and it couldn't be completed. Montreal, meanwhile, had a giant request for its newest acquisition.
"Montreal was short players for their game in Philadelphia and they said they really wanted me to try and get there," Youngblood says. "And knowing the guy I am, I said, 'Sure I'll do my best.'"
It was a rare request -- only a few players have played for two different teams in one day. But it was a night game in Philly, so it was possible. Youngblood would just have to hustle.
"It was a Saturday, so being on a road trip, you're not packed," Youngblood says. "You gotta go change, take a shower, pay your incidentals, get a cab, go to the hotel, pack your stuff, pay your incidentals, go back and get in a cab, and there was only one flight I could catch. It was a 6:05 p.m. flight, which was 7:05 p.m. Philadelphia time."
The game in Philly would start at 7:41 p.m., so with an hour-and-a-half flight, the best Youngblood could hope for was an appearance in the later innings.
But then, in the taxi on the way to the airport, Youngblood realized he had forgotten something pretty important: His glove.
"I left my glove on the facing in the stairway at Wrigley Field," Youngblood says. "I made the cabbie go get my glove. I used the same glove for 14 years."
Having to go back to get his glove, Youngblood's chances of making the flight further dwindled.
"I was running, trying to get through security, trying to get to my flight, " he says. "I figured if I made it and my luggage didn't, so be it."
Just picture that famous scene from Home Alone.
But Youngblood did somehow catch the flight and his luggage made it on time. After landing at Philadelphia International Airport and hailing a cab to get to Veterans Stadium, he arrived at the ballpark at 9:30 p.m. – where the game was already inching toward the seventh inning.
He slipped on his freshly-created blue Expo uniform, waved hello across the field to his idol Pete Rose and, five minutes later, after already playing in one Major League game earlier that day and tirelessly catching cabs and planes to travel 750 miles across the country, heard manager Jim Fanning bark down the dugout stairs.
"Youngblood, get up here, you're hittin'," Youngblood recalls, laughing.
With no real warmups or time to think, the new Expo took some swings in the on-deck circle and then strolled up to the plate to face yet another future Hall of Famer: Steve Carlton.
Luckily, Youngblood had faced Carlton numerous times -- including a few times in the Minors -- so he felt fairly comfortable hitting off him. (Carlton ended up being the pitcher Youngblood faced most in his career, and he pretty much owned the four-time Cy Young Award winner.)
And wouldn't you know it, one of the eight hits Carlton gave up that day ended up being Youngblood's single up the middle in the seventh inning.
One man. Two hits. Two different teams. Two separate cities. One day.
It never happened before in baseball history and will likely never happen again.
"Yeah, it was a long year that year," Youngblood laughs. "I went to the ballpark at 8 o'clock that morning and didn't leave until 12 o'clock that night. People don't realize the travel -- the demands I had to meet -- to even make it there. Everything had to be in place. It worked out good, statistically the odds were against me, but at that time, you don't think about those things."
Even though he was surprised by all the calls from the media he got the next day, telling them, "Hey, it was only a single!", Youngblood now relishes his moment in the game's lore.
"I'll always be known, I guess my name will never go away," he says from his home in Arizona. "I'll always have that record. It'll be hard for someone to break it."