CHICAGO — Among Cubs fans, it is simply known as the Tuffy Rhodes Game. For one afternoon, Rhodes could not miss and his name was forever etched into franchise lore for an Opening Day performance for the ages against Doc Gooden.
"We made him a legend today," Mets manager Dallas Green was quoted as saying in the Chicago Tribune after Rhodes' powerful display to open the 1994 season.
On Thursday, when baseball would have been celebrating Opening Day this season, MLB Network will be airing a series of great lid-lifters from past years. The fifth and final broadcast at 11 p.m. CT will be Rhodes' historic three-homer outburst against Gooden and the Mets at Wrigley Field.
Here is what MLB Network has planned for Thursday:
Yankees at Indians on April 2, 1996. Derek Jeter hits a home run in his first career Opening Day.
3 p.m. CT
Giants at Dodgers, April 1, 2013. Clayton Kershaw pitches a shutout and hits a home run for Los Angeles.
5 p.m. CT
Giants at D-backs, April 2, 2017. Madison Bumgarner duels against Zack Greinke.
8 p.m. CT
Padres at Rockies, April 4, 2005. The teams score a combined 22 runs in a back-and-forth game.
11 p.m. CT
The Tuffy Rhodes Game.
Rhodes launched a home run off Gooden in the first, third and fifth innings, but it was not enough to avoid the Cubs dropping a 12-8 slugfest to New York at the Friendly Confines. Still, Rhodes' performance has stood the test of time more than the game's final score.
Over the course of his career, Gooden — a National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, NL Cy Young Award winner, two-time World Series champion and four-time All-Star — allowed three homers in a game only eight times. Only 13 players belted as many as three homers in their respective careers against the right-hander. Atlanta's Terry Pendleton was the only player with a multihomer game against Gooden (June 20, 1991) before Rhodes met up with the pitcher in '94.
Opening Day 1994 was the only time Rhodes faced Gooden, giving the outfielder a perfect 1.000/1.000/4.000 slash line against the righty. Over the course of Rhodes' six-year Major League career, he only had 13 home runs total (11 with the Cubs), including eight in that '94 campaign.
A Cubs No. 25 Tuffy Rhodes jersey spotted here in Milwaukee. That’s a gem, @BruceMiles2112. pic.twitter.com/Rvx5NTtlib
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 8, 2019
So of course Rhodes belted three homers in one game off Gooden. Of course.
Following the third homer, fans in the Wrigley Field bleachers began tossing hats out of the stands and bleachers, creating a 10-minute delay to clear the field.
"I didn't realize what was going on when I saw all the hats," Rhodes told the Chicago Tribune at the time. "Somebody finally told me it was a 'hat trick' — like they have in hockey. It was great. I loved it."