Harvey Haddix – and Others Who Lost Perfect Games with Two Outs in the Ninth (or later)

HaddixOn this day (May 26) in 1959, Pirates’ southpaw Harvey Haddix found out just how unlucky “13” can be.  Haddix was ”perfect” against the powerhouse Braves (defending NL champions) for 12 innings – still the longest string of retired batters from the start of an MLB game.  The perfect game was lost on an error to open the 13th inning – and Haddix eventually lost the no-hitter, the shutout and the game.  On a side note, the Braves managed to turn a Joe Adcock three-run home run into a run-scoring double to claim 1-0 win.

In this post, Baseball Roundtable will look at Haddix’ gem, as well as all the other (near) perfect games that were lost with two outs in the ninth inning or later.

 

UNLUCKY 13th

12 PERFECT INNINGS – FOR THE LOSS

For a real hard luck story, consider the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Harvey Haddix, who took a perfect game into the 13th inning – AND LOST.

On May 26, 1959, Haddix took the mound against the power-laden Milwaukee Braves (who had won the National League pennant the previous two seasons and came into the game again leading the league).  Haddix retired the first 36 hitters in order – fanning eight, carrying a perfect game into the bottom of the 13th. A 20-game winner in 1953, the 33-year-old Haddix had come into the game 4-2, with a 2.67 ERA in seven starts – and had thrown complete games in his two previous outings. (He would end up 12-12, 3.13 on the year.)

Unfortunately, the Braves’ Lew Burdette, despite giving up 12 hits and fanning only two, had held the Pirates scoreless. (Like Haddix, Burdette had not issued a single free pass.) Milwaukee 2B Felix Mantilla led off the 13th by reaching on error by Pirates’ third baseman Don Hoak. Slugging 3B Eddie Mathews bunted Mantilla over to second, which led to an intentional walk to RF Hank Aaron, bringing up 1B Joe Adcock.

Adcock rapped a 1-0 pitch over the right field fence for what appeared to be a three-run home run.  However, the Braves, in celebrating the tension-filled victory, forgot how to run the bases. Adcock passed Aaron between second and third and, after some deliberation, Adcock was called out – ultimately changing his three-run homer to a one-run double. So, despite 12 perfect innings, Haddix lost the no-hitter, the shutout and the game itself.  But he did etch his name forever into baseball lore; and countless trivia quizzes.

Haddix spent 14 seasons (1952-65) in the major leagues (Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, Pirates, Orioles), going 136-113, 3.48.  His best seasons were with the Cardinals in 1953-54. In those two campaigns, Haddix put up lines of 20-9, 3.06 and 18-13, 3.57.  The 5’9”, 170-pounder was a three-time All Star and led the NL in shutouts (six) in 1953.

Now, let’s look at other games in which perfection was lost with two outs in the ninth or later – in reverse order.

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals … June 20, 2015

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Nationals’ right-hander and 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer came within one out – within one strike actually – of a perfect outing on June 20, 2015. He entered the top of the ninth with a 6-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates – having retired the first 24 batters, striking out ten.  In the ninth, Scherzer retired the first two batters (RF Gregory Polanco on a pop out to the catcher and SS Jordy Mercer on a liner to center) and then worked the 27th hitter (pinch hitter Jose Tabata) to a 2-2 count.  Tabata fouled off three 2-2 pitches before Scherzer lost the perfect game in perhaps the most painful way (in more ways than one) possible – by hitting Tabata with a pitch (a breaking ball to the elbow).  Scherzer then got Pirates’ second baseman Josh Harrison on a fly ball to left, completing the no-hitter – and earning a 6-0 victory.  Scherzer, by the way, was not the first pitcher to lose a perfect game by hitting the 27th batter (see the George Wiltse description below).

TWO NO HITTERS IN A SEASON

In 2015, Max Scherzer became just the fifth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a regular season.  The list includes:

Johnny Vander Meer, Reds (June 11 and June 15, 1938) … the only pitcher with no-hitters in consecutive starts.

Allie Reynolds, Yankees (July 12 and September 28, 1951).

Virgil Trucks, Tigers (May 15 and August 25, 1949) … in a season in which Trucks won only five games (versus 19 losses). 

Nolan Ryan, Angels (May 15 and July 15, 1973) … two of his record career seven no-hitters.

Max Scherzer, Nationals (June 20 and October 3, 2015.)

An honorable mention to the Phillies’ Roy Halladay who threw a perfect game on May 29, 2010 and added a 2010 post-season no-hitter (October 6, 2010).

Scherzer, still active, is in his tenth major league season (Diamondbacks, Tigers, Nationals).  He is a four-time All Star, two-time twenty-game winner and two-time Cy Young Award winner (2013-2016). In 2015, he went 14-12, 2.79, but led the NL with four complete games and three shutouts.  His best season was with the Tigers in 2013, 21-3, 2.90.  As this post is written his career record is 129-72, 3.38 – with six complete games and four shutouts.

YU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

In 2013, two pitchers named Yu – Yu Darvish and Yu Petit lost perfect games with two outs in the ninth.

Yu Darvish, Rangers … April 2, 2013

Rangers’ Ace Yu Darvish, in his first start of the 2013 season (April 2), stifled the Houston Astros without a base runner for 8 2/3 innings – fanning 14. All he had to do to gain perfection was retire the Rangers’ number-nine hitter, light-hitting shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez hit Darvish’s first pitch up the middle – through Darvish’s legs – for a single. It was Darvish’s 111th pitch and he was relieved by Michael Kirkman, who finished off the 7-0 win. So, despite a sterling effort, Darvish was denied a perfect game, a no-hitter, a complete game and even a personal shutout.  He did get the win.  Darvish, still active, finished the 2003 season 13-9, 2.83. As this post is written, his career record is 51-32, 3.25 and he has two complete games and one shutout in 110 starts (2012-14, 2016-17).

Yusmeiro Petit, Giants … September 6, 2013

Yu can’t make this up.  On September 6, 2013, the San Francisco Giants’ Yusmeiro (Yu) Petit joined the unlucky “almost perfect” rotation. With two out in the ninth, Petit – with a 3-0 lead over the Diamondbacks – had retired all 26 batters he had faced, fanning seven.  The Diamondbacks sent up pinch hitter Eric Chavez, who worked the count full. Then, just one strike away from perfection, Petit gave up a single to right field.  Petit retired the next hitter CF A.J. Pollock on a grounder to third – settling for a one-hit shutout.  This made Petit the second pitcher name “Yu” to get within one out of a “perfecto” during the 2013 season.  Petit finished the season a 4-1, 3.86 (eight games, seven starts). Still active (2006-17), his MLB record as this post is written is 24-32, 4.47.

Armando Galarraga, Tigers … June 2, 2010.

Armando Galarraga photo

Armando Galarrago – bad time for a bad call. Photo by Kevin.Ward

Perhaps the most heartbreaking “no-hitter breakup” took place on June 2, 2010, when Detroit Tigers’ righty Armando Galarraga found himself on the mound in the top of the ninth 26 outs into a perfect game (three strikeouts).  The Tigers had a 3-0 lead and Galarraga was facing Indians’ second baseman Jason Donald. Galarraga induced Donald to ground to right side of the infield and first-sacker Miguel Cabrera moved to his right to make a fine play, spinning and throwing to Galarraga covering first (who clearly beat Donald to the bag). Umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe, a mistake he admitted and apologized for after the game. (Talk about a bad time for a bad call.) The official scorekeeper gave Donald and infield single, ending both the perfect game and the no-hitter. Galarraga retired the next batter – CF Trevor Crowe – on a groundout. Joyce’s call, despite the post-game mea culpa, stood, and Galarraga joined the list of pitchers losing a perfect game with two outs in the ninth.

Galarraga had a five-season MLB career (2007-2012), going 26-34, 4.78 for the Rangers, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Astros. His near-perfect game was one of only two complete games in 91 career starts.

Mike Mussina, Yankees … September 2, 2001

Mike Mussina photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On September 2, 2001, the Yankees’ Mike Mussina squared off against the rival Red Sox at Fenway Park. After eight innings, Mussina and Red Sox starter David Cone were locked in a 0-0 duel. Mussina hadn’t allowed a base runner, striking out twelve. Cone had given up just four hits and three walks (fanning eight), while holding New York scoreless.  The Yankees pushed across a run in the top of the ninth on a single, an error and a double by 3B Enrique Wilson. Mussina, looking for his 14th victory of the campaign, went to work on his perfect game – notching a ground out (pinch hitter Troy O’Leary) and a strikeout (2B Lou Merloni) and taking pinch hitter Carl Everett to a 1-2 count before Everett singled to left. Mussina retired Trot Nixon for the final out, in a 1-0 one-hit win.

Mussina finished the season 17-11, 3.15. In an 18-season MLB career (1991-2008), Mussina went 270-153, 3.68 with 57 complete games and 23 shutouts. The five-time All Star won 17 or more games eight times and, ironically, had only one 20-win season – his last. As a 39-year-old, Mussina went 20-9, 3.37 for the Yankees in 2008. In the major leagues from 1991 to 2008, Mussina pitched for the Orioles and Yankees.

Brian Holman, Mariners … April 20, 1990

On April 20, 1990, the Mariners’ Brian Holman retired the first 26 hitters (six strikeouts), shutting down the defending World Champion Oakland A’s. Holman had a perfecto and a comfortable 6-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, before giving up a first-pitch home run to pinch hitter Ken Phelps. It was, notably, Phelps only home run of the 1990 season and the last of his 123 career round trippers. Holman then struck out Rickey Henderson for the final out in a 6-1 Mariners’ win.  It was one of only two complete games in Holman’s four MLB seasons (37-45, 3.71). Holman finished the 1990 season 11-11, 4.03 – the only season he finished at .500 or better. He played for the Expos and Mariners (1988-91).

Dave Stieb, Blue Jays … August 4, 1989

On August 4, 1989, Blue Jays’ right-hander Dave Stieb took a 2-0 lead and a perfect game into the top of the ninth inning against the Yankees. Stieb started the inning as though ready to make history, fanning pinch hitters Hal Morris and Ken Phelps on nine pitches (his tenth and eleventh strikeouts of the game).  Then the number-nine hitter, center fielder Roberto Kelly, broke up the “perfecto” and the no-hitter with a double to left.  Second baseman Steve Sax followed with a run-scoring single, before left fielder Luis Polonia grounded out to end the game.  So, Stieb lost the perfect game, the no-hitter and the shutout – but did get the win. Stieb ended the season 17-8, 3.35 – one of six seasons in which the seven-time All Star logged 16 or more wins.  In a 16-season MLB career (1979-1992, 1998), Stieb went 176-137, 4.83 for the Blue Jays and (for one season) White Sox.

DAVE STIEB – SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

In 1988, Dave Stieb – who lost a perfect game with two outs in the ninth on August 4, 1989 – twice came within one strike of a no-hitter – and in consecutive starts. On September 24 (against the Indians) and September 30 (versus the Orioles), he lost no-hitters with two outs in the ninth inning and two strikes on the hitter (2 and 2 counts both times).  Stieb did get two complete-game shutouts, 1-0 over the Indians and 4-0 over the Orioles. The games were his final two starts of the 1988 season, so he had the entire off-season to contemplate his bad luck. Stieb did finally get his no-hitter – the first in Toronto Blue Jays’ history – a 3-0 win (four walks/nine strikeouts) over the Indians in Cleveland on September 2, 1990.

Ron Robinson, Reds … May 2, 1988

Reds’ right-hander Ron Robinson was one strike away from a perfect game on May 2, 1988. He had a 3-0 lead, two outs in the ninth, nary a base runner allowed (three strikeouts) and a 2-2 count on Expos’ pinch hitter Wallace Johnson – and then hung a curveball that Johnson hit for a single. Tim Raines followed with a two-run home run, and Red’s closer John Franco was brought in to get the final out.  So, on the verge of a perfect game (with two out and two strikes in the ninth), Robinson lost the no-hitter, the shutout and the complete game. (He did get the win.)

In his nine MLB seasons (1984-92 – Reds and Brewers), Robinson recorded eight complete games and two shutouts – and had a respectable 48-39 record, with a 3.63 ERA and 19 saves. His best season was 1990, split between the Reds and Brewers, when he went 14-7, 3.26 and notched three seven of his complete games and both of his career shutouts.

Milt Wilcox, Tigers … April 15, 1983

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth – in an early-season game (April 15, 1983) –  Tigers’ right-hander Milt Wilcox had yet to allow a White Sox hitter to reach base (and had struck out eight). Pinch hitter Jerry Hairston ended that with his first hit of the season – a clean single. Wilcox retired the next batter (CF Rudy Law) for a 6-0 (one-hitter) win. Wilcox finished the season 11-10, 3.97. He won 119 games (113 losses) in 18 MLB seasons (1970-75, 1977-86) with the Reds, Cubs, Tigers, Mariners. His career ERA was 4.07, with 73 complete games and 10 shutouts. Wilcox’ best season was 1984, when he went 17-8, 4.00.

Milt Pappas, Cubs … September 2, 1972

On September 2, 1972, the Cubs’ Milt Pappas held an 8-0 lead over the San Diego Padres – and had a perfect game going (with six strikeouts) as the Padres batted in the ninth.  After retiring the first two batters in the final frame, Pappas walked pinch hitter Larry Stahl on a very close 3-2 pitch.  Pappas then retired pinch hitter Garry Jestadt on a pop out to second base. So, while he lost the perfect game, he did save the no-hitter. Pappas – who went 209-164, 3.40 in 17 MLB seasons (1957-73) – had his best year in 1972, going 17-7, 2.77. It was the 33-year-old’s 16th MLB campaign (he retired after the 1973 season). The two-time All Star (1962 and 1965) spent time with the Orioles, Reds, Braves, and Cubs.

Billy Pierce, White Sox … June 27, 1958

White Sox’ lefty Billy Pierce was on a roll when he faced the Senators on June 27, 1958.  Despite a slow start to the season (his record was 6-5 on the year), Pierce was coming off back-to-back complete-game shutouts of the Red Sox and Orioles.  Pierce retired the first 26 hitters he faced (eight strikeouts) and then gave up a double to Senators’ pinch hitter Ed Fitz Gerald before striking out AL 1958 Rookie of the Year Albie Pearson to gain a 3-0 win. Pierce finished the season 17-11, 2.68.  He was a seven-time All Star and two-time twenty-game winner and won 211 games (versus 169 losses) with a 3.27 in 18 MLB seasons (1945, 1948-64). He threw 193 complete games and 38 shutouts.

Tommy Bridges, Tigers … August 5, 1932

On August 5, 1932, the Tigers’ Tommy Bridges was coasting along with a 13-0 lead, seven strikeouts and a perfect game with two outs in the ninth, when he gave up a single to Washington Senators’ pinch-hitter Dave Harris.  Bridges then got the final out for a 13-0 win. Bridges went 14-12, 3.36 that season, but hit his stride two years later – winning 20+ games in 1934, 1935 and 1936. The six-time All Star finished a 16-season MLB career (1930-43, 1945-46) with a 194-138, 3.57 record. He pitched 200 complete games and recorded 33 shutouts.

George Wiltse, New York Giants … July 4, 1908

It looked, for the longest time, like George Wiltse was going to have plenty to celebrate on Independence Day 1908. The Giants’ southpaw retired the first 26 Phillies before hitting Philadelphia pitcher George McQuillan with a pitch on a 2-2 count (after not getting the call on a very close pitch on his previous delivery – a call umpire Cy Rigler later admitted he missed).  Wilste retired the next batter. However, despite nine no-hit/no-run innings, he wasn’t done yet.  He and McQuillan were embroiled in a 0-0 duel.  Wiltse went on to pitch-a 1-2-3 tenth (preserving the no-hitter) and the Giants managed to push across a run to give Wiltse a 1-0, no-hit victory. Wilste is one of only three pitchers to date to complete a no-hitter of more than nine innings. Wilste finished the 1908 season 23-14, with a 2.34 ERA. He was also a twenty-game winner in 1909 (20-11, 2.00) and went 139-90, 2.47 in twelve MLB seasons.

NO-NO-NO

Three pitchers have completed an MLB record ten-inning no-hitter: George Wiltse, Giants (July 4, 1908); Fred Toney, Reds (May 2, 1917); and Jim Maloney, Reds (August 19, 1965).

 

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Nineteen Total Bases – Makes Other Hitters “Green” with Envy.

SGreenOn this date, 15 years ago (May 23, 2002), the Dodgers’ RF and number-three batter Shawn Green belted four home runs, a double and a single in six at bats – as LA topped the Brewers 16-3 in Milwaukee. Green’s offensive outburst gave him the major league record for total bases in a game (19) and made him just the 14th player to hit four home runs in an MLB contest (that number is now up to 16). A summary of Green’s record-setting day:

First inning – RBI double off Brewers’ starter Glendon Rusch (who would go on to give up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched).

Second Inning – Three-run home run off Rusch (as Dodgers end the half-frame up 8-1).

Fourth inning – Solo home run off reliever Brian Mallette,

Fifth inning – Solo home run, again off Mallette.

Eighth inning – Single off Jose Cabrera.

Ninth inning – Solo home run off Cabrera (Dodgers’ Adrian Beltre, Green and Dave Hansen hit back-to-back-to-back HRs with two outs.

AdcockGreen ended the day six-for-six, with six runs scored and seven RBI.  He came into the game with .238-5-23 line on the season, left at .265-9-31.  Green’s 19 total bases broke the record of 18 – set by Milwaukee Braves’ 1B Joe Adcock on July 31, 1954, as the Braves topped the Dodgers 15-7 in Brooklyn. Adcock ended his day five-for-five (four home runs and a double) with five runs scored and seven RBI.  The only other player to collect 18 total bases in a game was Rangers’ CF Josh Hamilton, who holds the AL record. Like Adcock, Hamilton had four home runs and a double.  His output came on May 8, 2012 – as the Rangers topped the Orioles 10-3 in Baltimore. His line for the day was five-for-five, with four runs scored and eight RBI.

The 6’4”, 190-pound Green finished the 2002 season at .285-42-114 one of three seasons in a 15-season MLB career (Blue Jays, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Mets) in which he topped 40 homers. His career line was .283-328-1,070. His best season was 2001, when he hit .297 with 49 home runs and 125 RBi for Dodgers.

MLB PLAYERS WITH FOUR HOME RUNS IN A GAME

Bobby Lowe, 2B, Boston (NL) … May 30, 1894

Ed Delahanty, 1B, Philadelphia (NL) … July 13, 1896

Lou Gehrig, 1B, New York (AL) … June 3, 1932

Chuck Klein, RF, Philadelphia (NL) … July 10, 1936

Pat Seerey, LF, Chicago (AL) … July 18, 1948

Gil Hodges, 1B, Brooklyn (NL) … August 31, 1950

Joe Adcock, 1B, Milwaukee (NL) … July 31, 1954

Rocky Colavito, RF, Cleveland (AL) … June 10, 1959

Willie Mays, CF, San Francisco (NL) … April 30, 1961

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Philadelphia (NL) … April 17, 1976

Bob Horner, 1B, Atlanta (NL) … July 6, 1986

Mark Whiten, RF, St. Louis (NL) … September 7, 1993

Mike Cameron, CF, Seattle (AL) … May 2, 2002

Shawn Green, RF, Los Angeles (NL) … May 23, 2002

Carlos Delgado, 1B, Toronto (AL) … September 25, 2003

Josh Hamilton, CF, Rangers (AL) … May 8, 2012

Some four home run game factoids:

  • Four-homer games have been accomplished ten times in the NL, six in the AL.
  • Shawn Green’s four-homer game (May 23, 2002) included an MLB-record 19 total bases.
  • Mark Whitens four-homer contest (Sept,. 7, 1993) included an MLB-record tying 12 RBI.
  • Two players have hit four home runs in a game in a losing cause: Ed Delahnaty (July 13, 1896) in a 9-8 Phillies loss to the Chicago Colts (Cubs) and Bob Horner (July 6, 1986) in a Braves’ 11-8 loss to the Expos.
  • Five left-handers, 10 right-handers and one switch hitter (Mark Whiten) have hit four homers in a game.
  • By position, four-homer games have been accomplished by six first baseman; four right fielders; three center fielders; one left fielder; one second baseman; and one third baseman.
  • Ten of the sixteen four-homer gamers never won a home run title. Mike Schmidt won the most with eight.
  • The most home runs hit in a season by a player with a four-HR game that campaign is 43 by Josh Hamilton (2012). The fewest home runs hit in a season in which the player had a four-homer game is 13 by Ed Delahanty (1896). The fewest in a post-1900 season in which a player hit four homers in a game goes to Joe Adcock with 23 (1954).
  • The fewest career home runs for a player with a four-homer game is 71 for Bobby Lowe; post-1900, it’s 105 for Mark Whiten.
  • The most career homers for a player with a four-homer game are 660 for Willie Mays.
  • Chuck Klein, Pat Seerey and Mike Schmidt’s four-homer games came in extra inning contests.

 

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The Most Produtive Strikeout Ever – Killer Fans, Twins Scamper

It was May 18, 1969 and the Twins were taking on the Tigers in Minnesota. In the third inning of that game, Twins’ slugger – and future Hall of Famer – Harmon Killebrew had what BBRT considers the most productive MLB strikeout ever. The Minnesota’s first baseman came to the plate with the Twins trailing 2-0 and runners on first and third with no one out.  The Killer struck out, yet during his at bat (without the aid of a passed ball, wild pitch, error, interference or balk), both runners scored, tying the game.   But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Starting for the Tigers was 1968 World Series MVP Mickey Lolich. Lolich had gone 17-9, 3.19 in 1968 and then 3-0, 1.67 with three complete games in the World Series.  For the 1969 season, he was 3-1, 4.41, Opposing him on the mound that day was the Twins’ Dave Boswell (10-13, 3.32 in 1968 and 4-3, 2.68 on the 1969 season.)  These two are only bit players, however, in the story of the most productive strikeout ever.

Boswell had given up two runs on six hits over the first three innings, while the Twins had gone scoreless, despite three hits and a walk in their first two innings on offense.  Then came the historic bottom of the third.

TovarTwins LF and leadoff hitter Cesar Tovar started the inning with a single. Then, with 2B (and future Hall of Famer) Rod Carew at the plate, Lolich balked on an attempted pickoff – sending Tovar to second. As Carew worked a base on balls, Tovar stole third.  That brought up the Twins’ big RBI man, Killebrew.  Lolich did bear down and fan “The Killer,” but in the course of the at bat:

  • The Twins pulled a double steal, Tovar swiping home and Carew taking second;
  • Carew stole third;
  • Carew stole home, tying the game.

So, during Killebrew’s strikeout, the Twins advanced four bases and scored two runs – without the aid of a passed ball, wild pitch, balk (that occurred in Carew’s at bat), interference or error.  In the process, they also tied the record for steals of                                                            home in an inning.

CArewI’d like to say it was surprising to see that bat taken out of the hands of the Twins most vaunted run producer as Tovar and Carew scampered around the bases.  This, however, was the era of Billy (Martin) Ball in Twinsville. That season, Tovar stole 45 bases; Rod Carew stole 19 bases, included home seven times; and even Killebrew had a career-high eight steals (as well as leading the league with 49 home runs and 140 RBI).

I’d also like to say the Twins won this contest, but they fell to the Tigers by a score of 8-2. Lolich picked up his fifth win (a complete game), lowering his ERA to 3.30; while Boswell dropped to 4-4, 3.42.

In 1969, The Twins won the AL West (lost to the Orioles in the ALCS) with a 97-65 record. They led the AL in runs scored with 790 – and were fourth in both home runs (163) and stolen bases (115). On the mound, they had the third-best team ERA at 3.24.

And, of course, they had the most productive strikeout ever.

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A Look at Players with Two Extra-Inning HRs in a Game

Chris Davis Orioles photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Yesterday (May 16, 2017), Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis belted a pair of extra inning home runs (a solo shot in the 12th and a two-run blast in the 13th) – as the Orioles topped Detroit 13-11 in 13 innings. (Note: The Orioles tied the game at 8 with a run in the top of the ninth, both teams scored three times in the 12th and the O’s won it on Davis’ 13th inning shot.

In belting a pair of extra inning home runs, Davis joined an elite group of just nine players (whom we’ll take a look at later in this post) to accomplish this feat.  It takes some skill, but also a bit of luck – the opposing team has to match your team’s score in the first extra frame in which you go deep.  BBRT’s digging indicates only nine players have hit two extra-inning homers in a single game. Davis, by the way, finished the game three-for-five with three runs scored, four RBI, two home runs, a double and two walks.   Resources for this post included: Baseball-Reference.com; MLB.com; Nationalpastime.com.

Davis’ feat should not be a great surprise.  The blasts were his seven and eighth round trippers of the year and the 246th and 247th of his career (he is in his tenth season). He’s a proven long ball threat with two home run titles and a season-high of 53 home runs (2013.) Yesterday’s dingers, however, were only the fourth and fifth extra-inning home runs of his career.

We’ll take a look at all the players to homer twice in a game in extra innings, but first a bit of trivia:

  • The youngest player to hit two home runs in extra innings was also the first: 22-year-old Saint Louis Browns’ SS Vern Stephens – in his second full MLB season, on September 29, 1943,
  • The oldest to accomplish the feat was 35-year-old Mets’ CF Curtis Granderson, in his 13th MLB season, on September 17, 2016.
  • Only two players on the list can claim a home run championship in their careers: Vern Stephens and Chris Davis.
  • Only one player hit more than two home runs in the game in which they had two extra-inning long balls – the Reds’ Art Shamsky hit three home runs (August 12, 1966).
  • The latest (in innings) second extra-inning home in a game came in the 19th inning – the Indians’ Willie Kirkland homered in the 11th and 19th innings on June 14, 1963.
  • Five of the nine two extra-inning homer games ended with walk-off blasts.
  • Only one of the games saw the batter with two extra-inning homers end up on the losing side.
  • Four of the nine players to hit two extra-inning home runs in a single game did not start in that game – Matt Adams, John Mayberry Jr., Mike Young and Art Shamsky.

EXTRA INNING HOMERS – NOT THAT EASY TO COME BY.

Career home run leader Barry Bonds never hit two extra inning home runs in a game and, of his 762 regular season homers, only 11 came in extra innings. In 2001, only two of his single-season record 73 round trippers came in extra frames.

If you are more of a Hank Aaron fan, 14 of Aaron’s 755 home runs came in extra innings and – like Bonds – he did not have a game in which he hit two extra-inning long balls.

Finally, going back to the Sultan of Swat, sixteen of Babe Ruth 714 home runs came in overtime – and he also did not have a game in which he hit two long balls after the ninth inning. 

Now, let’s look at the other players who hit two long-balls in extra innings in a single game – in reverse order.

Curtis Granderson – New York Mets – September 17, 2016

Curtis Granderson Mets photo

Photo by slgckgc

Mets’ CF and cleanup hitter Curtis Granderson homered in the 11th and 12th innings (both solo shots, the second a walk-off), as the Mets topped the Twins 3-2 in New York. They were his 27th and 28th round trippers in a season in which he would hit 30 long balls. Granderson, still active, has four seasons of thirty or more homers under his belt (a high of 43 in 2012) and (as this is written) five of his 295 career home runs have come in extra innings.

 

 

Matt Adams – Cardinals – September 4 – 2013

Cardinals’ 1B Matt Adams, who didn’t start the game (entered in the fourth inning), hit solo home runs in the 14th and 16th innings as Cardinals topped the Reds 5-4 in Cincinnati. Adams went two-for-five with two runs scored and two RBI in the game. The home runs were his 10th and 11th of the year. (He would hit a career-high 17 that season).   Still active, as this is written, three of Adams’ 56 career home runs have come in extra innings.

John Mayberry, Jr. – Phillies – June 4, 2013

The Phillies’ John Mayberry Jr. entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning (striking out) and stayed in to play RF.  He later tied the game at three apiece with a solo home run in the bottom of the tenth and hit a walk-off Grand Slam (the only Grand Slam of his career) in the bottom of the 11th,  giving the Phillies a 7-3 victory over the Marlins. The home runs were the third and fourth of the season for Mayberry, who would hit 11 round trippers that season.  He would finish the game two-for-three with two runs scored and five RBI. Mayberry hit just 56 home runs in a seven-season MLB career (574 games). He hit just three extra-inning round trippers.

MikeYoung – Orioles – May 28, 1987

The Orioles’ Mike Young entered this game a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth (striking out) and stayed in at DH. He later hit a solo home run in the bottom of 10th and two-run shot in the 12th (the final homer a walk-off) as the Orioles topped the Angels 8-7 (the Angels had scored in the top of the 12th.).  They were Young’s first two round trippers of 16 that season. He finished the game three-for-four with two runs scored and three RBI.  Young hit a total of 72 home runs in eight MLB seasons (635 games), with a high of 28 in 1985. He hit a total of three extra inning homers.

Ralph Garr – Braves – May 17, 1971

Braves’ LF Ralph Garr went yard in the 10th and 12th innings (both solo shorts, the second a walk-off ) as the Braves topped the Mets 4-3 in Atlanta.  Garr went three-for-six in the game, with two runs scored and two RBI. The homers were his third and fourth of a season in which he would hit nine long balls. Garr hit 75 home runs, with a high of 12 in 1972, in 13 MLB seasons. He was also the 1974 NL batting champion (.353). His two extra-inning blasts on May 17, 1972 were the only two extra-inning home runs in his career.

Art Shamsky – Reds – August 12, 1966

ShamskyReds’ LF Art Shamsky, who came in to play LF in a double switch (top of the eighth inning) hit a solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th inning and a two-run shot to tie the game again in the bottom of the 12th.  It was a big day for Shamsky, who also hit a two-run shot in the eighth. Despite his heroics, the Reds lost to the Pirates 14-11 in Cincinnati. The extra-inning homers were Shamsky’s 14th and 15th home runs of a season in which he would hit a career-high 21. Shamsky finished the day three-for-three, with three runs and five RBI. Shamky would hit 68 home runs in eight MLB seasons (665 games) and three of those would come in extra innings.

Willie Kirkland – Indians – June 14, 1963

Cleveland RF Willie Kirkland tied the Indians/Senators contest (in Cleveland) at two apiece with an 11th inning solo homer (the game had been tied 1-1 since the sixth, and the Senators scored once in the top of the 11th).  Kirkland then won the contest with walk-off homer leading off the 19th – as the Indians beat the Senators 3-2 in the second game of a doubleheader. The home runs were the fourth and fifth of the season for Kirkland, who would hit 15 that year.  For the game, he went three-for-eight, with two runs and three RBI. Kirkland hit 148 home runs in nine MLB seasons (four seasons over 20, with a high of 27 in 1961). He had five career extra inning home runs.

Vern Stephens – Browns – September 29, 1943

StephensThe AL St. Louis Browns shortstop Vern Stephens became the first MLB player to hit two extra-inning homers in the game –  rapping solo homers in the 11th and 13th innings, as the Browns beat the Red Sox 4-3 at Fenwa.  They were the 21st and 22nd home runs of the season for the power-hitting (for the time) shortstop, who finished year with 22 round trippers and had six seasons of at least 20 dingers, with a high of 39 in 1949. He also led the AL in home runs in 1945 with 24. Stephens hit 247 career regular season homers, of which seven came in extra innings.

 

 

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Baseball Roundtable Bobble Head Giveaways

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE
JETER/RIVERA
BOBBLEHEAD GIVE AWAY
 
With the Yankees recently retiring Derek Jeter’s number, it seems a good time to launch Baseball Roundtable’s bobblehead giveaways – an effort designed to:
1) Reward those who follow Baseball Roundtable;
2) Build the audience for Baseball Roundtable’s new Facebook Page;
3) Clear out/downsize my bobblehead collection.
 
JeterMOThe first two bobblers to be given away are the pictured Yankees’ bobbleheads – Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter – promotions sponsored by Hormel and Land O Lakes.
On May 30, BBRT will randomly draw from among those who Like/Follow the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page. (Click here to go to the BBRT FB, but read on first.) Those who continue to Like/Follow will stay in the running for future bobble head giveaways.
 
Giveaway Round Two, slated for four-to-six weeks after the first giveaway, will feature the old and new of Minnesota Twins’ power – Harmon Killebrew and Miguel Sano bobble heads.
 
Not only will you be in the running for ongoing giveaways, you will enjoy (I sincerely hope) the baseball news and views presented both on this page and on the Baseball Roundtable blog – baseballroundtable.com     Note: I do not sell items or ad space on by blog site; it is a labor of love (for the national pastime).
 
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. If you win, you understand that you will be providing your information to the owner of this Facebook page and not to Facebook.
 Winner must authorize announcing the win. No personal info, just a statement like “Baseball Roundtable follower NAME/OR FB HANDLE is the winner of the Jeter/Rivera Bobbleheads giveaway.
 
Now, for a bit of BASEBALL TRIVIA to accompany this announcement – perhaps you can fool your friends.
  • In 2008, C.C. Sabathia became the only MLB pitcher to lead both leagues (and all of MLB) in shutouts in the same season. He started the season with the Cleveland Indians of the AL, and was traded to the then Milwaukee Brewers on July 7. His two complete game shutouts with Cleveland tied (with seven others) for the AL lead, while his three CG shutouts tied Milwaukee teammate Ben Sheets for the top spot in the NL.
  • A little how the game has changed. In 1963,the Braves’ Warren Spahn went 23-7, threw 22 complete games in 33 starts, averaged 7.86 innings pitched per start and had a game-high pitch count of 201. Oh yes, he was 42-years-old.
  • The last pitcher to top 300 innings pitched in a season was Steve Carlton of the Phillies in 1980 (304 innings pitched). From 1950 through 1959, another Phillie, Robin Roberts, AVERAGED 301 innings pitched per season.

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

2017 John Paciorek Award to Chris Saenz

JPA2In 2014, BRT launched its own baseball recognition – The John Paciorek Award (JPA). The JPA recognizes players who have had short, most often very short, major league careers, but whose accomplishments, nonetheless, deserve recognition.  (Note: Information on John Paciorek’s career – the inspiration for the JPA – can be found at the end of this post. Paciorek’s day in the sun constitutes arguably the best one-game MLB career ever.)

________________ 2017 JPA Winner – Chris Saenz _______________

SaenzThis year, BBRT honors right-handed pitcher Chris Saenz with the JPA – for making his one-game stint on the MLB pitcher’s mound truly memorable. Saenz’ big day came on April 24, 2004 and was made possible by a combination of an injury to Brewers’ starting pitcher Chris Capauno, an overworked Brewers’ bullpen and the fact that Saenz had started at Double A five days earlier, so a spot start for the Brewers would keep him on his pitching schedule. It was, in a way, the perfect storm for an unexpected MLB debut.

Saenz – a Brewers top-30 prospect in his fourth pro season – was called up from Double A Huntsville (where he was 1-1, 3.86) to make a spot start against the Saint Louis Cardinals, whose powerful lineup included the likes of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders.  (The Cardinals would lead the NL in runs scored, batting average and finish second in home runs that season, while making it to the World Series.) Let’s look at how things went for Saenz, before we examine how the 6’3”, 200-pound righty worked his way to the mound that day – and the factors that made it his only MLB appearance.  

The first MLB batter Saenz faced was Cardinal second baseman Bo Hart and the Milwaukee pitcher got his MLB career of to a good start, fanning Hart (swinging) on three pitches. (No surprise there, Saenz consistently struck out more than a batter per inning in the minors.) Saenz then seemed to pick up a minor case of MLB-debut jitters, sandwiching a single and a pair of walks around a foul pop out, before getting Redbirds’ SS Edgar Renteria to fly out – ending a shaky, but scoreless, first big league inning.

When he came out for the second, Saenz seemed to have settled down and found his proverbial groove. He recorded a 1-2-3 second, with two strikeouts.  In the third, the only batter to reach was Pujols (hit by pitch) and Saenz picked up a fourth strikeout. The Cardinals went down in order in the fourth and fifth innings, with  Saenz notching two more strikeouts.  Pujols managed a single off Saenz in the sixth, but was the only base runner in the inning. Saenz walked Renteria (on a 3-2 pitch) to open the seventh – and his first day (and career) in the majors was done.

Not a bad day’s work (yes, it was a day game) for a raw rookie: six innings pitched, two hits, three walks, no runs and seven strikeouts.  For those who track such things, Bo Hart faced Saenz three times that day (first, third and fifth innings) and struck out swinging all three times.  Two was a lucky number for Saenz, as the Brewers scored two times (on two hits) in the first inning to ensure Saenz the win (Milwaukee 3 – St, Louis 1); Hart, Saenz’ most frequent strikeout victim was playing at the two-bag for the Cardinals; and the game was played in front of an announced attendance of 22,222 fans.

A ONE-OF-A-KIND …  SINGLE-GAME CAREER …  PERFORMANCE

While statistics before 1900 can be sketchy, baseball-reference.com shows that Saenz is the only pitcher to complete a one-game MLB career of at least five innings pitched, without giving up a single run (earned or unearned). Five pitchers before 1900 had one-game careers of at least five innings that resulted in a 0.00 ERA, but they all (Jack Keenan, Frank Kreeger, Clay Fauver, George Snyder and George Stultz) gave up unearned tallies in those efforts.

There was some speculation (primarily among sportswriter and fans) that Saenz’ performance might earn him another start or two, but two days after his debut, he was on his way back to Huntsville.  For the year at Huntsville, he went 5-5, 4.15 with 84 strikeouts in 84 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, his season included a September elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery and set his career back (eventually ending it.)

So, how did Saenz earn his day in the major leagues? He was signed by the Brewers (28th round of the 2001 Major League Draft) out of Pima Community College in Tucson Arizona.

Saenz started his pro career (at age 19) with the Pioneer (rookie) League Ogden Raptors.  He showed solid potential, appearing in 21 games (four starts) and going 3-1, 4.24 with 14 walks and 48 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings.  His ability to fan at least a batter an inning would be a trademark of his professional career. In 2003, Saenz moved up to the Low A Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League – where he pitched 37 games (all in relief) and went 3-5, with eight saves and a respectable 3.51 ERA. He did walk 32 batters in 74 1/3 innings, but his 99 strikeouts (12 per nine innings) were impressive. The following season (2003) saw Saenz work primarily as a starter (26 starts in 27 appearances) mostly with the High A High Desert Mavericks of the California League – although he did get in one game with the Double A Huntsville Stars of the Southern League. Saenz went 9-9, 5.04, working on command issues (59 walks in 134 innings), but maintained his bat-missing stuff (142 strikeouts).

Then came 2004, his early season call up to the Brewers, his return to Huntsville and his Tommy John surgery.  After missing the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Saenz attempted a comeback,  signing with the Angels in 2007 and playing with the  Arkansas Travelers of the Double A Texas League – where things did not go well (1-7, with an 8.41 ERA and 31 walks versus 24 strikeouts in 46 innings). The Angels released Saenz and he finished the season with the Reno Silver Sox of the Independent Golden Baseball League, where he found more frustration – 0-4, 8.10 with 16 walks and 22 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.  Saenz gave it one last try in 2008, with the independent Northern League Schaumburg Flyers, where he went 1-1, 8.42, with 15 walks and 18 whiffs in 25 2/3 innings.  He retired from professional baseball at the age of 26.  Still, Saenz is one of the fortunate few to have their day in the major league sun – and to have proven on that day that he truly belonged.

________________________________________________________

PAST JOHN PACIOREK AWARD WINNERS:

2014 – Brian Scott Dallimore

In his first start (not his first game) for the 2004 Giants, Dallimore had two singles, a Grand Slam (his first MLB hit and only MLB home run), a walk and a hit by pitch.  For the full JPA take on Dallimore’s 27- game MLB career, click here.

2015 – Roy Gleason

Gleason played in just eight MLB games, had a double in his only MLB at bat – but also earned a World Series ring (1963) and a Purple Heart. Ultimately, he was the only ballplayer with MLB experience to serve on the front lines in Vietnam. For the full JPA take on Gleason, click here. Note: Gleason’s life is detailed in the book “Lost in the Sun – Roy Gleason’s Odyssey from the Outfield to the Battlefield.”

2016 – John Allen Miller

Miller played just 32 MLB games (during the 1966 and 1969), taking the field (at 1B/LF/3B/2B) for the Yankees and Dodgers. Miller collected ten hits in 61 MLB at bats (.164 average) and hit just two home runs – but he made those long balls count.  Miller made his MLB debut with the Yankees on September 11, 1966 and hit a two-run homer in his first big league at bat –  making him (surprisingly) the first Yankee ever to homer in his first MLB at bat. (Little did Miller know he would not get another home run or RBI until the final at bat of his MLB career.)  Miller’s final at bat came as a Dodger (September 23, 1969) and he stroked a solo home run.  That narrow “body of work” made Miller one of just two players in MLB history to homer in their first and final official appearances in a major league batter’s box. For more on Miller, click here.

 

INSPIRATION FOR THE JPA

pACIOREKJohn Paciorek – signed out of Saint Ladislaus High School in Hamtramck, Michigan (where he had starred in football, basketball and baseball) – appeared in his first major league game on the final day of the 1963 season (September 29) at the age of 18.  The 6’ 1”, 200-pound outfielder had spent the 1963 season with Class A Modesto Colts. The Colts’ parent club, the Houston Colt .45s (that was the current Astros’ franchise name back then), was suffering through a difficult season. The team was 65-96 going into that final game.  Looking to the future, Houston had, in fact, fielded an all-rookie lineup (average age 19) on September 27. Youth was still being served two days later when John Paciorek started his first MLB game. The results were surprising – and worthy of recognition.

 

paciorekPaciorek, by the way, went on to become a high school teacher and multi-sport coach and is the author of two books (Plato and Socrates – Baseball’s Wisest Fans and The Principles of Baseball: And All There Is To Know About Hitting.) You also can enjoy Paciorek’s prose (and expertise) directly at his blog “Paciorek’s Principles of Perfect Practice” by clicking here. You can find out even more about Paciorek in Steven Wagner’s 2015 book Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder.”  (See the review of “Perfect” by clicking here.)

A final note. John Paciorek’s insight into the national pastime should come as no surprise. Paciorek comes from a true “baseball family.”  He was the first born of eight siblings and was followed to the big leagues by younger brothers Jim and Tom Paciorek.  (Like John, Jim’s MLB career was short – 48 games for the Brewers in 1987. Brother Tom, however, achieved a .282 average over an 18-season MLB career.)

 

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Six Home Runs in One Game – A Good Day at the Ball Yard

McDougallOn this date (May 9) 1999, Florida State University second baseman Marshall McDougall had what is arguably the best day ever by college (Division I) baseball player.  We’re talking seven-for-seven, with six runs scored, 16 RBI and six home runs – setting a host of NCAA Division I single-game records.

The day started out routinely enough, as McDougall, batting in the number-two spot, singled to left in the top of the first (against Atlantic Coast Conference rival Maryland) and the inning ended with the scored tied at 2-2.  After that, it was all Florida State and nearly all Marshall McDougall.  The Seminoles won the contest 26-2, and McDougall’s remaining at bats went:

 

  • Second Inning – solo home run to left.
  • Fourth inning – three-run home run to center.
  • Sixth inning – two-run home run to left.
  • Seventh inning – three-run home run to center.
  • Eighth inning – Grand Slam home run to left.
  • Ninth inning – three-run home run to center.

McDougall, a junior in his first year with Florida State University (he played two years at Santa Fee Community College in Gainesville, FL), declined to take all the credit.  After the game he commented, “Luckily, we had people on base, so they couldn’t walk me. My teammates came through for me.”

In that game, McDougall not only hit for the “home run cycle” (solo, two-run, three-run and Grand Slame), he also set National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) single-game records – which still stand – for home runs (6); RBI (16); and total bases in (25).  Not a bad day at the ball yard.

The fact is, McDougall didn’t have many bad days at the ball park in 1999. That season, McDougall was held hitless only eight times, while recording 20 games with three or more safeties.  His final line for the year – 71 games, with a .419 average, 28 home runs, 106 RBI, 104 runs scored and 22 stolen bases (in 25 attempts).  He also drew 39 walks and was hit by a pitch ten times, while striking out 46 times.  McDougall won the ACC Triple Crown and led all college players in RBI and base hits (126).

As you might expect, McDougall was an NCAA consensus All American – and made virtually every publication and organization’s All America squad. He was also the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, was a first–team selection to the NCAA All Tournament Team and voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 1999 College World Series (the Seminoles lost in the finals).

After his 1999 season at FSU, McDougall was selected by the Red Sox in the 26th round of the 1999 MLB Draft, but decided to play his final season at FSU.  This was already the third time McDougall had been an MLB draft selection.  (More on that later.) McDougall “slumped” a bit in his final college season –  .346-15-67, 82 runs and 14 steals in 72 games.  The Seminoles finished second in the ACC (15-9), 53-19 overall and third in Division I College World Series. The Oakland A’s took McDougall in the ninth round of the 2000 MLB draftand his professional career got underway.

Now, for those who are interested, let’s take a look at Marshall McDougall’s path to (and from) the major leagues – and reflect on just how challenging playing ball at the major league level can be; no matter what your past performance and future potential may look like.  

In high school (Valrico, FL), McDougall had already shown his promise as a second-team All-State player (selected by the White Sox in the 41st round of the 1996 MLB Draft). He chose instead to attend Santa Fe Community College, where again he was a second-team All-State selection (picked by the Yankees in 37th round of the 1997 draft). And once again, he declined to sign, instead moving on to Division I ball at Florida State University;  where, as you’ve already read, he carved out a spot in college baseball history.

After signing with the A’s, McDougall worked his way up to the AA Midland Rockhounds – where, in 2002,  he hit .303-9-56 in 84 games, before being traded to the Indians for Ricardo Rincon during the season. He suffered an injury after the trade and played only nine games in the Indians’ system (Double A and Low A). In December 2002, he was taken by the Rangers in the Rule 5 Minor League draft.

The 6′ 1″, 200-lb. McDougall showed solid potential in the Rangers’ system (at Double A and Triple A). In 2003, he hit .261-15-78 in 140 games; in 2004, .288-21-83 in 112 games; and, in 2005, he was hitting .341-11-64 (75 games) when he got the “call to the show.”   He joined the Rangers as a utility player and manned five positions for Texas (2B/3B/SS/RF/DH). Still, he got only 18 MLB  at bats in 18 games (three hits, three runs, one double, and ten strikeouts.)   Hampered by injury (wrist), McDougall later played in both the Dodgers’ and Padres’ systems, but never made it back to the major leagues.  Other stops along the way for McDougall have included both the Mexican and Chinese Leagues.  McDougall’s story clearly reflects how hard it is to get to the big leagues (he made it) and how challenging it is to stay there.  Still, he played the game at the highest level – and still holds a place (several places) in the college record books.

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Helpful sources for this post included MiLB.com; Baseball-Reference.com; and Nolefan.org

I tweet baseball @ David BBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball bloggers Alliance.

MLB Games – the Long(est) and Short(est) of It

Chasen Shreve Yankees photo

Chasen Shreve went the final three innings fanning five –  for the win as the Yankees topped the Cubs in 18 innings.  Photo by Keith Allison

It’s kind of appropriate that today (May 8, 2017), BBRT is looking back at yesterday’s Cubs/Yankees tilt – an 18-inning, six-hour and five-minute battle that will, ultimately, be most noted for the fact that the 15 pitchers who took the mound fanned an MLB single-game record 48 batters.  (FYI- The Yankees won it 5-4.)  The game fell well short of MLB’s longest in terms of time (which began on this date in 1984) or innings.  Later in this post, we’ll look at MLB’s longest and shortest games.  First, however, a few “factoids” from yesterday’s tilt.

 

  • Yankee pitchers fanned 26 hitters, Cubs’ hurlers whiffed 22. Strikeouts accounted for 44 percent of the total outs.
  • Two hitters accounted for 36 percent of the Yankee batters’ strikeouts – outfielder Aaron Hicks and third basemen Chase Headley each fanned a game-high four times (no other Yankee whiffed more than twice, while the Cubs had five players with three strikeouts).
  • A lot of bats were missed; there were 38 swinging strikeouts versus ten called.
  • The Cubs went into the bottom of the ninth down by three, but tied it up against Yankees’ star closer Aroldis Chapman on three singles, two walks, and a hit batter. There was no more scoring until the 18th.
  • The first ten batters in extra innings went down on strikes.
  • Both starting pitchers (Yankees’ Luis Severino and Cubs’ Jon Lester) went seven innings and notched nine strikeouts.
  • Three strikeout innings were notched by the Cubs’ Wade Davis (10th); Yankees’ Tyler Clippard (10th); Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr. (11th); and Yankees’ Jonathan Holder (14th).
  • The Yankees left 22 runners on base, the Cubs stranded 30.

______________________________________________________

Now for the long and short of MLB games. 

LONGEST GAME (BY TIME)

May 8, 1984 – Brewers/White Sox – 8 hours and 6 minutes – with an asterisk*

Tom Seaver's only win in relief came in MLB longest-ever game (time-wise).

Tom Seaver’s only win in relief came in MLB longest-ever game (time-wise).

MLB’s longest-ever (time-wise) game started on May 8, 1984 and, like yesterday’s Yankees and Cubs contest, it was played in Chicago.  This time it was at (old) Comiskey and the home town White Sox prevailed 7-6 in 25-innings, taking a record-long eight hours and six minutes.  I do give and asterisk to this one – since it was not continuous play.  The game started at 7:30 p.m. and was suspended after seven innings (at 1:05 a.m.) due to the MLB curfew rule then in force.  It finished up the next day.

There were plenty of chances for this one to end earlier. The game was tied 1-1 going into the ninth, when the Brewers scored twice to take the lead. The White Sox came back with two of their own in the bottom of the inning – and the teams played on.  No one scored again until the top of the 21st, when the Brewers put up a three-spot.  The White Sox, however, scored three of their own in the bottom of the inning – and the teams played on. Finally, with one out in the bottom of the 25th White Sox’ RF Harold Baines hit a walk off home run (making it, of course, the latest walk-off long ball ever) against Chuck Porter (starting his eighth inning of relief) to win it for the ChiSox.  A few tidbits:

  • White Sox’ CF Rudy Law, C Carlton Fisk and 2B Julio Cruz, as well as Milwaukee DH Cecil Cooper each had 11 at bats in the game.
  • Chicago’s Dave Stegman, who came on as a pinch runner for DH Greg Luzinski in the 8th and stayed in to play LF, struck out a game-high five times in eight at bats.
  • The teams used a combined 14 pitchers (six for the Brewers, eight for the White Sox).
  • Two relievers went seven or more innings: losing pitcher Chuck Porter of the Brewers (7 1/3); Juan Agosta of the White Sox (7 innings).
  • The winning pitcher was future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who pitched the 25th inning for the ChiSox. It was Seaver’s only relief appearance of the season (one of just nine in his career) and his only career win in relief (he also had one save and two losses in that role).
  • Five future Hall of Famers played in the game: for the White Sox – catcher Carlton Fisk and winning pitcher Tom Seaver; for the Brewers – starting pitcher Don Sutton, SS Robin Yount and closer Rollie Fingers (who blew the save in the ninth).
  • Outside of Harold Baines’ walk-off home run, White Sox’ LF Tom Paciorek was (arguably) the hitting star of the game, going five-for-nine, with one run and three RBI (no one else had five safeties). LF Ben Ogilvie went two-for-ten for the Brewers, but added a home run and four RBI.

LONGEST GAME BY INNINGS – AND HOW THE GAME HAS CHANGED

On May 1, 1920, the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) and Boston Braves locked up in the longest MLB duel ever – by innings – playing to a 1-1 ties over 26 innings.  This one gets a special nod, since it is also the longest game in which both starting pitchers were on the mound for the entire game. (My, how the game has changed.)

Starting pitchers Leon Cadore of Brooklyn and Joe Oeschger of Boston each threw more than 300 pitches (analysts estimate Cardore at 345 and Oeschger at 319) in completing their 26-inning, record-setting starts. Cadore gave up 15 hits and five walks, while fanning seven; while Oeschger allowed only nine hits and four walks, while also striking out seven batters.   Oh, and here’s another sign of how the game has changed, the time of the 26-inning contest was only 3 hours and 50 minutes.  The Robins scored their lone tally in the fifth, the Braves in the sixth – followed by 20 innings of scoreless ball.

LONGEST CONTINUOUSLY PLAYED GAME (BY TIME)

Perry

BBRT give special recognition to the second-longest MLB game ever – and the longest in terms of continually play – The San Francisco Giants 8-6 win over the New York Mets on May 31, 1964.  This one took seven hours and 23 minutes – and was the second game of a doubleheader.

  • Each team used six pitchers in the contest.
  • Tom Sturdivant and Larry Bearnath of the Mets pitched in both games of the doubleheader – with Bearnath throwing seven scoreless innings after giving up one run in two innings in Game One of the Twin bill.
  • Galen Cisco, who took the loss for the Mets, pitched nine innings in relief (giving up two runs on five hits).
  • Gaylord Perry got the win for the Giants, tossing ten scorlesss innings in relief (seven hits, one walk, nine strikeouts). Bob Hendley got the save.
  • Five Mets and three Giants notched ten at bats in the game.
  • Gil Garrido, Jim Davenport and Willie Mays also spent some time at SS for the Giants during the game.
  • The list of pinch hitters used by the Giants was pretty impressive: Duke Snider; Willie McCovey; Matty Alou; Del Crandall; Cap Peterson. Mets’ pinch hitters were not as well known: rJesse Gonder; George Altman; Dick Smith; Hawk Taylor; John Stephenson.
  • Four hitters collected four hits: Giants – RF Jesus Alou (four-for-ten, one run, two RBI) and C Tom Haller (four-for-ten, one run, one RBI); Mets- RF Joe Christopher (four-for-ten, two runs, three RBI and the game’s only homer) and 3B Charley Smith (four-for-nine, one RBI).
  • The Giants led 6-1 after three innings, but the Mets tied it with two in the sixth and three in the seventh. Then there was no scoring until the top of the 23rd.
  • Five future Hall of Famers played in the game for the Giants – Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Duke Snider.
  • The first game went just nine innings and two hours and 29 minutes. It does mean fans got nine hours and 52 minutes of baseball for the price of one ticket – which, by the way, is the longest MLB double header ever in terms of game time. (Note: The longest double header ever in terms to total time came on July 2, 1993.  The Padres and Phillies split a pair of games in Philadelphia. Game One: SD 5-2 over Philadelphia. Game Two: Philadelphia 6-5 over the Padres.  It took a total of 12 hours and five minutes, including two rain delays totalling 4 four hours and 44 minutes and a 25-minute break between games).

 

SHORTEST GAME EVER – NINE INNINGS IN 51 MINUTES

LIKE SPEED DATING

On September 28, 1919, the Phillies took on the Giants in New York, with Philadelphia’s Lee Meadows (12 wins and 19 losses) taking on New York’s Jesse Barnes (24-9).  The outcome was as expected, Giants 6 – Phillies 1. The game featured a total of 18 hits and three walks.  None of this is surprising.  What is surprising, however, is that it took just 51 minutes to play the entire nine innings.  Now, THAT is pace of game.

SHORTEST DOUBLEHEADER

The shortest doubleheader (game time) ever was completed in two hours and seven minutes of game time.  It was September 26, 1926 in Saint Louis – but did not involve the Cardinals.   In Game One, the Saint Louis Browns topped the Yankees 6-1 in 1 hours and 12 minutes.  The Browns also won Game Two, this time by a 6-2 score, in just 55 minutes.

Baseball-almanac.com, baseball-reference.com and the Society for American Baseball Research proved valuable resources for this post.

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Relilquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Baseball Reliquary 2017 Honorees – Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, Charlie Brown

I’ve asked this before, but it’s clearly the best way to introduce the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals.

What do the following have in common – a one-armed major league outfielder, a pitcher who once threw a no-hitter while high on LSD, a team owner who sent a midget to the plate, a man in a chicken suit, a member of Major League Baseball’s 3,000-hit club, an MLB manager who won eight World Championships, a baseball card designer, a surgeon, a labor leader, a statistical wizard and more than one best-selling author?

ReliquaryNewThese diverse individuals are all past electees to The Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals – an honor that recognizes individuals who have had impact on our national pastime that goes beyond statistics and touches upon the culture and character of the game.  In essence, the Shrine of the Eternals is our national pastime’s fan-focused hall of fame. (And this year, you can add a broadcasting legend, a pop-culture icon and a cartoon character to the list. More on that in a bit.)

The Baseball Reliquary this week announced its latest (2017) Shrine of the Eternals electees, who will be enshrined during ceremonies slated for 2:00 p.m., Sunday July 16th, at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. (For more information, call 626-791-7647.)  The honorees for this Shrine of the Eternals 19th indusction ceremony include:

  • Vin Scully, who spent 67 years as a Dodgers’ broadcaster and whose voice became as much a sound of the game as the crack of the bat meeting the ball, the slap of the horsehide sphere into a leather mitt, the unique whirr of a good curveball and the shouts of beer and hot dog vendors.
  • Bob Uecker, former MLB player who translated his knowledge of the game, .200 career batting average and self-deprecrating sense of humor into an off-the-field career as a broadcaster, actor, comedian and (pun intended) pitchman.
  • Charlie Brown, a cartoon character whose love the game and enduring sense of optimism taught us some important life lessons from atop the pitcher’s mound.

Before taking a closer look at this year’s electees (and BBRT’s ballot), I’d like to provide a brief overview of both the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals. Let me begin by saying, if you are a baseball fan, I would highly recommend you consider membership in the Baseball Reliquary – a truly free-spirited (if somewhat eccentric) organization dedicated to celebrating the human side of baseball’s history and heritage.  The Baseball Reliquary is an open and fan-focused organization, committed to recognizing baseball’s place in American culture and to honoring the character and characters of the national pastime. It pursues that mission through its collection of artifacts, traveling exhibitions, ties to the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies and (perhaps, most visibly) through its own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame – the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary, and why you should become a member, click here.

Now, to the Shrine of the Eternals. Here’s what the Reliquary has to say about this honor.

The Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals

Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. The Baseball Reliquary believes that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability will offer the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has heretofore been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.

Criteria for election shall be: the distinctiveness of play (good or bad); the uniqueness of character and personality; and the imprint that the individual has made on the baseball landscape. Electees, both on and off the diamond, shall have been responsible for developing baseball in one or more of the following ways: through athletic and/or business achievements; in terms of its larger cultural and sociological impact as a mass entertainment; and as an arena for the human imagination.

Each year, the Baseball Reliquary submits a list of candidates to its members and the top three vote-getters are honored.  With that background behind us, let’s take a look at the 2017 honorees.   Note: voting percentages for all the candidates can be found at the end of this post.  For more on the Shrine of the Eternals, click here

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2017 SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS HONOREES

Vin Scully (1927-  ) – 59.5%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

If anyone’s career is appropriate to a spot in the Shrine of the Eternals, its Vincent Edward “Vin” Scully – whose career as a baseball broadcaster was a close to eternal as anyone has ever come – 67 years behind the microphone. (Note: Scully’s total of 59.5 percent of the vote is the highest figure since the annual Shrine of the Eternals election process was inaugurated in 1999, topping the 53 percent totals of Bill “Spaceman” Lee in 2000 and Buck O’Neil in 2008.)  Scully was the voice of the Dodgers from 1950 until his retirement after the 2016 season, as well as NBC’s lead television broadcaster for much of the 1980s and the voice of the World Series for CBS radio in the 1990s.

“Let’s all take a deep breath as we go to the most dramatic ninth inning in the history of baseball. I’m going to sit back, light up, and hope I don’t chew the cigarette to pieces.”

               Vin Scully calling the final inning of Don Larsen’s 1956                   World Series perfect game.

I have never seen an exact count of the number of games Scully “called” during his career, but we do know he was on the broadcast team for 28 World Series, 21 no-hitters and three perfect games.  The fact is, the fluid sound of Scully’s voice and his often poetic anecdotes, became as much the sound of major league baseball as the crack of the bat, the slap of leather ball into leather glove or the shouts of vendors eager to part with hot dogs or beer.

It may sound corny, but I enjoyed listening to Vin call a game almost more than playing in them.

                                                          Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax

How impressive are Vin Scully’s credentials?  Here are just of few of the recognitions he has received: Baseball Hall of Fame Ford Frick Award (1982); Lifetime Achievement Emmy and induction into National Radio Hall of Fame (1995); three-time national Sportscaster of the Year (1965, 1978, 1982); American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame (1992) and Sportscaster of the Century (2000) recognitions; MLB Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award (2014); and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Again these are just a few of his recognitions. (Scully, for example, was also named California Sportscaster of the Year 32 times, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more than one street named after him.)  And now, he will take his place in the Shrine of the Eternals.  Can’t wait for the speech.  For more on Scully, you might try The Vin Scully Story, by Carl Smith (2009).

Bob Uecker (1934- ) – 37%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Dubbed “Mr. Baseball” by TV talk show host Johnny Carson for his tongue-in-cheek approach to the national pastime, Bob Uecker will finally get his seat “in the front row” – at this year’s Shrine of the Eternals induction ceremony.

Uecker has clearly made baseball his life and Milwaukee his hardball home.  Born and raised in Milwaukee, Uecker grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers and signed his first professional contract with the major-league Milwaukee Braves (1956). Uecker – a catcher by trade – made his big league debut with the Braves in 1962 (after six minor league seasons, during which he played 557 games and hit .274, with 78 home runs and 254 RBI). In six major league seaons (Braves, Cardinals, Phillies), Uecker played in 297 games and hit an even .200, with 14 home runs and 74 RBI.

Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit.

                                               Bob Uecker, reflecting on his MLB career

Uecker retired as a player after the 1967 season and began a full-time career as play-by-play announcer for Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 – a position he still holds. Over the years, he has also served as a baseball color commentator for ABC (1970s) and NBC (1990s); hosted a pair of syndicated sports television shows; appeared as broadcaster Harry Doyle in the “Major League” movies; and played a key character in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. Uecker received the National Baseball Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award for his work as a baseball broadcaster in 2003.

What separates Uecker from many former players-turned-broadcasters is his dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, of his original signing, he says “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for three-thousand dollars. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scrapped it up.”   Or there’s his comment on catching the knuckleball, “I found the easy way to catch a knuckleball, just wait until it stopped rolling and then pick it up.”

Uecker’s wit (and knowledge of and love for the game) not only earned him a spot in the broadcast booth, but also pop-culture stardom through dozens of appearances on the Tonight Show and a starring role in a series of Miller Lite commercials (as well as his movie and TV roles).

In addition the Ford Frick Award, Uecker was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame (2001); the Braves Wall of Honor (2009); and  on August 31, 2012, the Brewers erected the Uecker Monument outside Miller Park – alongside the statues of  such heroes as Hank Aaron and Robin Yount. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Uecker as Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year five times and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2011.  For more on Uecker, try his book “Catcher in the Wry.”

Charlie Brown (1950-    ) – 25.5%

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Charlie Brown – created ty the late Charles M. Schulz – takes the field (the mound actually) for the love of the game – and in the process teaches us a lot about humanity and grace (under pressure and in the face of disappointment).

Brown is both the manager of the Peanuts baseball team and, almost always, its pitcher. While he imagines himself as possessing a blazing fastball, sharp-breaking curve and devastating change up, he usually ends up literally being upended and undressed by line drives up the middle.  Still, he shows up and takes his turn on the mound – with optimism – game after game, loss after loss, come rain or shine.   Despite decades of disappointment, Charlie has never lost hope – nor waned in his love of the game.  There is always the next contest or the coming season.

Brown is truly the underdog’s underdog – even his favorite player reflects his approach to the game (and life).  It’s not Mantle, nor Mays, nor Trout, but rather little-known Joe Shlabotnik.  Yet, in his enduring passion for the game and his unbreakable spirit (in the face of what some say is close to 1,000 losses versus single-figure wins), we can all learn a lesson about the importance of optimism, perspective and  perseverance in the face adversity. Note:  At their peak, Charlie Brown and his team’s exploits appeared in more than 2,500 newpapers in 75 countries.

There’s somethng lonely about a ball field when it’s raining.

                                                                                Charlie Brown

As is noted in the final line of Charlie Brown’s Shrine of the Eternals nomination “Yes, Charlie Brown may be a blockhead, but in his unshakeable belief in himself and his imagination, he will always be a winner.”  He clearly won enough hearts to take a place in the Shrine of the Eternals.

Scully, Ueker and Brown join 54 previous inductees to the Shrine of the Eternals. For the full list, click here.

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BBRT’S BALLOT

Now, here’s a look at the candidates BBRT voted for who didn’t make the final three.  Let me add here that one of my favorites – who garnered my vote in past elections – is (sadly) no longer on the ballot.  That would be David Mullany (1908), inventor of the Wiffle® Ball (1953). The basis for my support is that Mullany’s Wiffle Ball changed backyard baseball for millions of young (and old) players and fans – including me. Here are the 2017 nominees that got my vote, but did not receive enough support for 2017 election.

Ted Kluszewski (1924-1988)

I love to recognize players who do something we are not likely to see again. Therefore, I again cast a ballot for Ted “Big Klu” Kluszewski – perhaps the last of the true power hitters who also practiced exceptional plate discipline.  In 1954, for example, Big Klu hit .326, with 49 home runs and 141 RBI – a season made even more remarkable by the fact the Kluszewski struck out only 35 times (versus 78 walks). I doubt if we’ll ever see another player top 40 home runs without reaching 40 whiffs.  Kluszewski, in fact, had a streak of four seasons (1953-56) when he hit over .300, drove in 100+ runs, bashed 35+ home runs – and struck out no more than 40 times in any season.  In those four seasons, Kluszewski hit 171 home runs – and fanned 140 times (average 43 HR’s and 35 whiffs a season). It should also be noted that Kluszewski led NL first baseman in fielding percentage every year from 1951 through 1955.  Unfortunately, a back injury in 1956 hampered his performance in th later years of his career (he played until 1961).

Kluszewski is also noted for adding a bit of flair to the game, making his own intimidating fashion statement. Klu complained that his uniform jersey was too tight for his large and powerful biceps. He went on to have the sleeves cut from his jersey – exposing his bare arms from the shoulder.  (This was considered a bold move at that very conforming time in the game’s history.)

Kluszewski only appeared in one post-season – hitting .391, with three homers and ten RBI in the 1958 World Series (for the White Sox).  True to his form – Big Klu did not strike out even once (25 plate appearance) in the Series.  For trivia buffs, left unprotected in the 1960 expansion draft, Kluszewski hit the first-ever home run for the expansion Angels (a two-run shot in the first inning of the Angels’ first game – April 11 versus the Orioles). He added a punctuation mark, by hitting the Angels’ second–ever home run (a three-run shot) the very next inning. The Angels won 7-2, and (of course) Kluszewski did not strikeout.

Ultimately, however, Big Klu is best remembered for those sleeveless jerseys and muscular arms.  This four-time All Star – whose last name,like mine, ends with “ski” – got my vote for the Shrine.

Mike Marshall (1943-  ) 

I should probably say Doctor Mike Marshall, since this former major league reliever (14 seasons … 1967, 1969-81) earned three college degrees, including a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. Kinesiology is the study of muscle movement and Marshall used his knowledge to develop his own exercise program focused on minimizing stress, reducing injury and accelerating recovery time.  While his unorthodox methods, advanced education and outspoken approach often had him at odds with baseball’s traditionalists (and may be part of the reason he pitched for nine teams in 14 seasons), they did get the job done.

The fact is, we never saw a closer quite like Mike Marshall before he came along – and we’re not likely to see one like him again. In 1974, as a Dodger, he put up the grand-daddy of all relief seasons – setting the record for appearances with 106 and innings pitched in a season in relief at 208 1/3. He finished the campaign 15-12, with a league-topping 21 saves and a 2.42 ERA.  That season, Marshall was called on to go more than one inning in 74 games (68.5 percent of the time); and he toiled three or more innings 22 times. He also relieved in 13 consecutive regular season games – an MLB record later tied (1986) by the Rangers’ Dale Mohorcic. His efforts won him the 1974 Cy Young Award and Sporting News NL pitcher of the year.

Marshall holds the MLB and NL record for games pitched in relief in a season (106 – Dodgers, 1974), as well as the AL record (89 in relief – Twins, 1979 – he also had one start that year).  The Blue Jays’ Mark Eichhorn tied Marshall’s AL record in 1987. Marshall led his league in games pitched four times and saves three times – finishing 97-112, 3.14 with 188 saves.

Marshall currently teaches exercise physiology and operates pitching clinics in Florida. A true “fireman” from an era when closers came in to put out fires and stayed on the mound to ensure they were no flare ups, Marshall got my vote for the Shrine.

Rube Waddell (1876-1914)

Rube Waddell is almost universally recognized as the zaniest player in MLB history – but he also was one of the best (at least when he was focused on the game). Waddell was known t0: leave a ball game to chase fire engines; miss a game he was scheduled to start because he was fishing or playing marbles with neighborhood kids; bring his outfielders in to sit on the grass and then proceed to fan the side; wrestle alligators in the off-season; and (frequently) do battle with owners and managers.  Waddell simply was more interested in the freedom to enjoy life and do things his way than in money or professional stability.  But, when Waddell was on his game, he was arguably the best pitcher of his time. The 6’1”, 195-lb. lefty led the AL in strikeouts six consecutive seasons (1902-1907) – by a wide margin.

How good was Waddell?  In 1902, he joined the Philadelphia Athletics in June – making his first start on June 26 (with just 86 games left in the season). Waddell proceeded to win 24 games (the league’s second-highest total) against seven losses, with a 2.05 ERA.  Despite his shortened season, he led the AL with 210 strikeouts, fifty more than the runner-up (none other than Cy Young).

In 1904, Waddell set a modern (post-1900) MLB record with 349 strikeouts that stood until 1965.  Waddell, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, finished with a 193-143, 2.16 stat line – leading the AL in strikeouts six times, ERA twice, wins once and complete games once. For more on Waddell, BBRT suggests: Rube Waddell: The Zany, Brilliant Life of a Strikeout Artist, by Allan Howard Levy and Just a Big Kid: The Life and Times of Rube Waddell, by Paul Proia.

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1935 –  )

Mamie Johnson was one of three females to play for the Indianapolis Clowns during the declining days of the Negro Leagues (and the only woman ever to pitch in the Negro Leagues).  Johnson took the mound to the Clowns for three seasons (1953-55), running up a 33-8 record.  Her exploits are chronicled in the children’s book A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, by Michelle Y. Green.

Effa Manley (1900-81)

The first woman enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Effa Manley – during the 1930s and 1940s –  ran the day-to-day operations of the Negro National League Newark Eagles (owned by her husband Abe Manley).  She took the reins at a time when baseball, on the field and in the executive offices, was considered a “man’s domain.”  Effa, often thought of as a light-skinned black, was actually white.  She, however, grew up with a black stepfather and mixed-race siblings and was active in the New Jersey branch of the NAACP and Citizen’s League for Fair Play.  Effa Manley deserves recognition for overcoming both racial and sexual barriers as she exercised leadership in the national pastime. Multiple books have been written about Manley’s accomplishments. BBRT recommends: Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles, by James Overmyer

Pete Reiser (1919-81)

Combine Willie Mays’ skill set (younger folks, think Mike Trout) with Pete Rose’s hustle and Yasiel Puig’s on-field abandon and you have Pete Reiser. In his first full MLB season (CF, Dodgers), a 22-year-old Reiser dazzled defensively and led the NL in runs scored (117), doubles (39), triples (17), batting average (.343), total bases (299) and hit by pitch (11) – tossing in 14 home runs and 76 RBI for good measure. Unfortunately, unpadded outfield walls, helmet-less at bats (the fiery Reiser was a frequent beanball target) and aggressiveness on the base paths (Reiser twice led the NL in stolen bases and holds the NL record for steals of home in a season at seven) took their toll.

In his ten-season career, the switch-hitting Reiser endured five skull fractures, a brain injury, a dislocated shoulder and a damaged knee.  He was carted off the field 11 times during his career (six times unconscious) and once actually given last rites at the stadium – and he played on. The three-time All Star retired as a player with a .295 career average, playing in 861 games over ten seasons. No telling what he might have done with padded outfield walls and batting helmets.  Pete Reiser was a true – and talented – gamer. For more on Reiser, try Pete Reiser: The Rough and Tumble Career of the Perfect Ballplayer, by Sidney Jacobson.

Reuben Berman (1890-1977)

On May 16, 1921, during a game between the Giants and Reds at New York City’s Polo Grounds, Reuben Berman captured a foul ball that was hit into the stands. The custom at the time was to return the ball to the playing field.  Some teams even employed security guards to retrieve balls if the fans declined to return them. In extreme cases, arrests were made and charges (larceny) filed.  On that day in May of 1921, Berman, refused to return a foul ball – and, when confronted, tossed the ball deeper into the stands. After what some reported as an exchange of profanities and a minor scuffle, Berman was ejected from the Polo Grounds.  Berman, however, was not done with the Giants.  He filed a lawsuit against the club asserting he was illegally detained and had suffered mental anguish and a loss of reputation because of the incident.  The case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court, which found in Berman’s favor, granting him the sum of $100 (he had asked for $20,000).

The $100 victory is not what got Berman my vote for the Shrine of the Eternals, it was the impact on fans of his stubbornness – and what became known as “Reuben’s Rule” or “Berman’s Law.” Berman’s case was the most important step in establishing the fans’ right to that precious souvenir – an official, game-used baseball. Every time we see a scrum (for a baseball) in the stands, or a one-handed (beer or baby in the other hand) catch of a foul ball, or a smiling youngster showing off his white, red-stitched prize, we can thank Reuben Berman.

John Young (1949-2016)

A 6’3”, 210-pound, left-handed first baseman, John Young hit .325, with four home runs, 60 RBI and 26 stolen bases (in 29 attempts) in 99 games at Single A Lakeland (Tigers’ farm team) as a twenty-year-old (in 1969). The first-round draft choice (16th overall in the 1969 draft) looked like a player with great promise – and, in fact, enjoyed a big league cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1971 (two games, four at bats, two hits, one run, one RBI, one double). A wrist injury derailed his playing career, but didn’t dampen his love for the game and he went on to a long career as a scout.

It was during his scouting days that Young developed a concern for the decline of baseball among young people – particularly in the inner cities.  In response, Young came up with the concept for the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. Officially launched in 1989, the RBI program is now supported by all thirty MLB clubs and is active in approximately 200 communities – with more than 250,000 participants annually.  Overall, MLB teams have donated more than $30 million to the program. (The program also includes educational and life skills components.) A few RBI alumni in the major leagues include: Carl Crawford, Justin Upton, CC Sabathia, James Loney, Manny Machado and Yovani Gallardo.  His good works on behalf of baseball’s future earned my vote.

Bing Russell (1926-2003)

Okay, you are probably more aware of Bing Russell for his role as Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza, as Robert in the original Magnificent Seven movie or for his volume of work on the big and small screen (including more than two dozen movies and even more television roles.) Or, maybe you are aware that his is actor Kurt Russell’s father.

Bing Russell, however is here because his passion for acting was equaled (perhaps even surpassed) by his passion for our national pastime. He’s also here because, as a baseball fan, he got to “live the dream” – owning his own baseball team. Russell’s infatuation with baseball began as a young boy growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida – spring training home of the Yankees. He became the team’s unofficial Florida mascot and errand runner – becoming friends with the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Gomez and Lou Gehrig.  With that friendship came a life-long passion for the national pastime.

Later in life – the early 1970s – Russell translated his acting success into ownership of the independent (Class A) Portland Mavericks – a team whose roster emerged from tryouts involving (as his Shrine of the Eternals nomination points out) “a collection of misfits, reprobates, hangers-on and washouts.”

This collection of last-chance or only-chance players turned professional baseball on its ear, having fun while also taking the measure of its major league-affiliated Northwest League opponents.  The team lasted from 1973-77; never had a losing season; won their Division in 1973, 75, 76 and 77; developed a rabid, involved and fun-loving fan base; and set a short-season minor-league attendance record in 1977 (3,787 per game). Russell also is credited with hiring the first female General Manager – Lanny Moss – in professional baseball; which also turned some heads among baseball’s conservative owners.

Side note: Russell’s players with Portland included Jim Bouton and Russell’s son Kurt Russell – who followed Bing’s passion for baseball and acting.

MLB baseball regained its interest in the Portland area (the Mavericks were born after the Pacific Coast League Portland Beavers moved to Spokane in 1972) and worked to reclaim the territory – an effort that ultimately went to arbitration and earned Russell the highest payout ever (at the time) for minor league territorial rights.

For a great look at this remarkable and entertaining story – check out the 2014 documentary film The Battered Bastards of Baseball.

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THE SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS:  2016 VOTING PERCENTAGES

Vin Scully … 59.5%

Bob  Uecker … 37.0

Charlie Brown … 25.5

Leo Durocher … 24.8

Bob Costas … 23.5

Octavius V. Cato … 23.o

Effa Manley … 23.0

Chet Brewer … 22.0

Charles M. Conlon … 22.0

Charlie Finley … 22.0

J.R. Richard … 22.0

John Young … 20.0

Rocky Colavito … 18.0

Luke Easter … 18.0

Lisa Fernandez … 18.0

Ernie Harwell … 18.0

Mamie Johnson … 18.0

Denny McLain … 18.0

Hideo Nomo … 18.0

Rube Foster … 17.0

Mike Marshall … 17.0

Fred Merkle … 17.0

Pete Reiser … 17.0

Bert Campaneris … 16.0

Ted Kluszewski … 16.0

Bing Russell … 15.0

Annie Savoy … 15.0

Rusty Staub … 15.0

Chris Von der Ahe … 15.0

Tug McGraw … 14.0

Phil Pote … 14.0

John Thorn … 14.0

Dave Parker … 13.0

Nancy Faust … 12.0

Oscar Gamble … 12.0

Dave Okrent .l. 12.0

Joe Pepitone … 12.0

Vic Power … 12.0

Charley Pride … 12.0

Rube Waddell … 12.0

Reuben Berman … 11.0

Jose Canseco … 10.0

Mo’ne Davis … 10.0

Mike Hessman … 10.0

Manuel Perez … 10.0

Margarets Donahue … 8.0

Manny Ramirez … 8.0

Sam Nahem … 7.0

Steve Wilstein … 7.0

Babe Dahlgren … 6.0

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

April 2017 Wrap – April Showers of Long Balls

April17Well, April is behind us and, while April didn’t necessarily provide the kind of showers that will bring May flowers, it did bring showers of home runs – including three-homer games by Yoenis CespedesMatt Kemp and Anthony Rendon; home runs as part of three cycles (Wil Myers, Trea Turner, Carlos Gomez); double figures in home runs for the month by Eric Thames, Ryan Zimmerman, Khris Davis and Aaron Judge; and even a home run hit by a pitcher being used as a pinch hitter (Michael Lorenzen).

So, let’s get on to BBRT’s traditional review of the previous month of the MLB season. I hope you enjoy this look back at April – and come across a highlight or two you may have missed.  (Note:  April is always the easiest month to “wrap,” since monthly and year-to-date leaders are the same. Future wrap ups will look at month and year-to-date stats.) Before we get into detailed highlights and statistics, here are a few quick observations – events or stats that particularly caught BBRT’s eye. (Appreciation to great sources: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com, ESPN.com, Statcast and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)

  • The Washington Nationals scored more runs in April (170) than the Kansas City Royals had base hits (161).
  • Despite the DH, only one American League team (Yankees) finished among MLB’s top five teams in runs scored.
  • Washington RF Bryce Harper set a new MLB record for runs scored in April (32) – and was arguably not even the best hitter on the Nationals.  In addition to scoring 32 runs, Bryce hit .391, with nine home runs and 26 RBI. Nats’ 1B Ryan Zimmerman, however, put up a .420-11-29 line for the month (topping MLB in average, home runs and RBI, as well as hits and slugging percentage).
  • Run support counts: The Red Sox’ Chris Sale finished April with MLB’s highest strikeout total (52) and second-lowest ERA (1.19) – but won only one game (against two losses).  The Twins’ Phil Hughes and Brewers’ Wily Peralta both went 4-1 for the month – despite ERA’s north of five (5.06 and 5.19, respectively).
  • On the final day of the month, the Nationals’ 3B Anthony Rendon not only had a three-homer day, but also became just the 13th MLB player to drive in ten or more runs in a game – going six-for-six, with three home runs, a double, two singles, five runs scored and ten RBI.  It was a bit of a surprise; Rendon came into the game hitting .226, with no home runs, just five RBI and five runs scored.  In one game, he doubled his runs, tripled his RBI, raised his batting average 52 points – and how do you put a percentage on going from zero home runs to three?  Oh yes, the Nationals pulled out a squeaker over the Mets 23-5.
  • Home cookn’ was good in April. Home teams went 205-165 (.553). More important: Only seven of 30 teams finished the month below .500 at home, while 19 teams finished below .500 on the road.  The Royals were the best example of this – going 5-5 at home and 2-11 on the road.
  • A pair of 32-year-old veterans were the only two batters to finish April with averages north of .400 – the National’s Ryan Zimmerman (.420) and the Dodgers’ Justin Turner (.404).
  • The Twins Erwin Santana was the only qualifying pitcher to record an ERA under 1.00 for the month.  Santana gave up just three runs in five starts, going 4-0, 0.77.  In 35 innings pitched, he gave up just 13 hits.
  • The Rockies have been outscored by six runs this season – but stand six games over .500 (16-10); while the Rangers have outscored their opponents by eight runs, but are three games under .500 (11-14).
  • Only four players reached 25 RBI in April (good start toward that century mark) and three of them hit back-to-back-to-back in the middle of the Nationals’ order. Your 25-RBI guys: Nationals’ 1B Ryan Zimmerman (29 RBI), RF Bryce Harper (26); 2B Daniel Murphy (26).  The outlier on the list? The Twins’ Miguel San0 (25 RBI to go with a .316 aveage and seven homers.)
  • The Astros’ Dallas Keuchel got six starts in April and made the most of them, going 5-0 (April’s only five-game winner) with a 1.21 ERA.
  • Mets’ reliever Hansel Robles finished April tied for second in victories (four), going 4-0, 1.84, while pitching a total of 14 2/3 innings in 13 appearances.

—-LET’S LOOK AT TEAMWORK—-

No team won more games in April than the Nationals – 17-10, .680 – and they literally bludgeoned their opponents into submission. The Nats led MLB in runs scored with 170 (29 more than the second-most productive D-backs); batting average .295 (the Astros were second at .272); hits (265); doubles (58);  on base percentage (.369); and slugging percentage (.510).  The Nationals were  second  in home runs with 43 (two behind the Brewers). Meanwhile, their ERA (4.40) was 24th among MLB’s 30 teams.  Three teams came in with 16 wins on the month: the Astros (16-9);  Rockies (16-10); and D-backs (16-11).

At the othe end of the spectrum, the Royals had April’s worst record 7-16, .304 – with middle-of-the-pack pitching (4.18 ERA, 18th) and a woeful offense.  The Kansas squad was last in MLB in runs scored (63), batting average (.210), hits (161), on base percentage (.270) and slugging percentage (.336). They finished the month on a nine-game losing streak, with a lineup that featured  five hitters batting under .230. Two other teams finished April with less than ten wins: the Giants (9-17) and the Blue Jays (8-17).  Full standings are in a chart at the end of the post.

Nationals RUNning Away from Opponents in April

The Nationals put up the strongest run differential in April, outscoring opponents by 48 tallies.  The only other team to reach even top a plus-30 differential was the Yankees (+43). At the other end of the standings, the Royals had MLB’s worst April run differential at minus-37.  Two other teams came in at minus-30 or worse: the Padres (-31) and Giants (-33). 

IF THE SEASON ENDED APRIL 30, THE PLAYOFF TEAMS WOULD BE:

NL: Nationals, Cubs, Rockies. Wild Cards: D-backs, Dodgers.

AL:  Astros, Orioles or Yankees, Indians. Wild Cards: White Sox, Orioles or Yankees.

Surprises Thus Far

The injury-strapped Mets and undeerperforming Giants and Blue Jays (29th and 28th in runs scored), all in last place in their respective divisions – and the NL West Division Rockies; fifth in rus scored, but 26th in ERA, somehow getting the job done (16-10), despite being outscored 125-119 through April).

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BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE PLAYERS AND PITCHERS OF THE MONTH

Ryan Zimmerman photo

Photo by Keith Allison

National League Player of the Month – Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals …  Hard to go against MLB’s top hitter on the season (.420). The 32-year-old Zimmerman – coming off a series of injury-hampered seasons  – has been healthy and scorching hot for the Nationals. Through April he was .420-11-29 – leadinG  MLB in all three Triple Crown categories.  (It’s a great start for the Comeback Player of the Year Award.)  For the 2014-15-16 seasons, Zimmerman averaged 90 games, .242 average, 12 home runs and 53 RBI.  Others in the running  were: Nationals’ Bryce Harper (.391-9-26, with an MLB-best 32 runs scored) and Nationals’ 2B Daniel Murphy (.343-5-26). 

American League Player of the Month – Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees … This big rookie (6’7″, 280-pounds) is playing big for the surprising Yankees.  His April numbers were .303-10-20.  His ten April roundtrippers tied for the AL lead and matched  the MLB rookie record for the month.  Judge also led the AL in runs scored with 23. Others in the running: White Sox RF Avisail Garcia (AL-leading .368 average, five home runs, 20 RBI) and Twins’ 3B Miguel Sano (.316, seven home runs, league-leading 25 RBI).  

National League Pitcher of the Month – Greg Holland, Closer, Rockies … Holland is one of the main reasons the Rockies stand atop the NL West with a 16-10 record. Holland saved 11 of the Rockies’ April victories (in 11 save opportunities) – leading all of MLB in saves.  He pitched in 12 games, with a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. Also in the running: Phillies’ Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 1.80) and Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.29, with 39 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings). 

American League Pitcher of the Month – Erwin Santana, Starter, Twins ... Santana went 4-0 in five April starts, averaging seven innings per outing, with an MLB-low 0.77 ERA and .116 batting average against  In 35 innings pitched, Santana has given up just 13 hits and three earned runs, while walking ten and fanning 26.  Also in the running: Rockies’ Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.21) and Mariners’ James Paxton (3-0. 1.39).

—-TEAM STATISTICS – APRIL 2017 —-

MOST RUNS SCORED (MLB Average – 109)

NL: Nationals – 170; D-backs – 141; Brewers 135

AL: Yankees – 128; Mariners – 119; Tigers 118

FEWEST RUNS ALLOWED (MLB Average – 109)

NL: Dodgers – 92; Phillies – 100; Marlins – 103

AL: White Sox – 83; Yankees – 85; Astros – 89

BATTING AVERAGE (MLB Average – .247)

NL: Nationals – .295; D-backs – .269; Braves – .263

AL: Astros – .272; Red Sox – .270; Yankees – .266

HOME RUNS (MLB Average – 29)

NL: Brewers – 45; Nationals – 43; Mets – 37

AL: Yankees – 37; Rangers – 34; A’s – 31; Rays – 31

STOLEN BASES (MLB Average – 13)

NL: D-backs – 32; Brewers – 25; Reds -23

AL: Rangers – 22;  Mariners – 21; Yankees – 18

The Need for Speed

The Rockies swiped an MLB low four bases (eight attempts) in April. 

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

No team has put fewer runners across the plate then the Royals (63). The second-lowest tally belongs to the Giants (87 runs.) As you might expect the Royals were also at the bottom in April batting average (.210).  Their 24 home runs, however, topped seven other teams – with the Big Papi-less Red Sox hitting the fewest April round trippers (15). The Red Sox lack of power led to the sixth-fewest runs among the 30 MLB teams. .

TEAM EARNED RUN AVERAGE (MLB Average – 4.09)

NL: Dodgers – 3.50; Cubs – 3.77; D-backs – 3.81

AL: White Sox – 3.11; Yankees – 3.35; Astros – 3.38

BEST STARTING STAFF ERA FOR APRIL – Cardinals (3.32)

WORST STARTING STAFF ERA – Red (5.96)

BEST BULLPEN ERA FOR APRIL – White Sox (1.94)

WORST BULLPEN ERA – TIGERS (6.43)

STRIKEOUTS (MLB Average – 202)

NL: D-backs – 252; Dodgers – 242; Mets – 239

AL:  Astros – 238; Indians – 236; Angels – 236

FEWEST WALKS ALLOWED (MLB Average – 81)

NL: Phillies – 65; Nationals – 67; Dodgers – 73

AL: Yankees – 65; Indians – 66; Twins – 69

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COING

The worst team Earned Run Average in April  belonged to the Tigers at 5.19 – the only team over 5.00. The Padres and Angels gave up the most April home runs (38). The fewest pitchers’ strikeouts: Twins (153) and Braves (158). In terms of control, no team has walked more batters than the Orioles (99), although the Reds can see their tail feathers (98 walks allowed). 

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INDIVIDUAL PLAYER PERFORMANCE

Now, let’s take a look at some individual player highlights for April, followed by the statistical leaders.

Here Comes the Judge

Aaron Judge YANKEES photo

Photo by apardavila

On April 29, Yankees’ rookie outfielder Aaron Judge bashed his tenth homer of the month, tying the April record for MLB rookies (Jose Abreu, 2014 and Trevor Story, 2016). The 6’7”, 280-pound Judge finished the month  at .303-10-20.

Here Comes the Vet

Angels’ 1B/DH Albert Pujols – in his 17th MLB season – put up a .24o average, with three home runs and 22 RBI in April.  The three home runs put him at 594 for his career – six shy of 600 and 13 behind Sammy Sosa for the number-eight spot all time.  The 22 RBI gave him 1,839 for his career and moved him past Al Simmons, Manny Ramirez, Dave Winfield, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Griffey Jr. and into a tie with Ted Williams for number-fourteen all time.  Side note: Pujols started his career with ten consecutive seasons of a 300+ average – 30+ home runs – 100+ RBI.

OUCH!  OUCH! OUCH!  REALLY?

On April 4, Cardinals’ RF Stephen Piscotty had a tough – if somewhat shortened – day at the office.  It all started with one out in the fifth inning of the Cardinals 2-1 loss to Cubs. First, Piscotty was hit by a pitch (right elbow) by Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta.  Piscotty then took second base on a wild pitch, but was hit on the left elbow by catcher Wilson Contreras’ throw to the bag.  Cardinals’ 2B Kolten Wong followed with a slow grounder to Cubs’ second sacker Javier Baez, who bobbled the ball – leading Piscotty to round third and scoot for home. Piscotty did  score, but was hit in the head by Baez’ throw the plate. The three “hits” left the Cardinals’ outfielder stunned, shaken up and lying face down near home  plate (and, ultimately, helped from the field and out of the game).

THINGS ARE HOPPING IN SEATTLE

The Mariners 2017 home opener took place on April 10 – and, like most teams, they had some new concession offerings.  One of the most popular new concession was the Chapulines ($4) – grasshoppers roasted and tossed in chili-lime salt. How popular were they?  They sold out – 312 orders per game (reportedly in honor of Edgar Martinez’ career batting average) – at all three games of the opening home stand (roughly 18,000 grasshoppers).

Cycles Built For Three

April saw three players hit for the cycle: the Padres’ 1B Wil Myers (April 10), Nationals’ SS Trea Turner (April 25) and Rangers’ CF Carlos Gomez just under the wire (April 29).

Myers, in the Padres April 10th 5-3 victory over the Rockies (in Colorado), singled to right field  in the first, hit an RBI double to left  in the second, homered to right in the sixth and tripled to left center in the eighth.   He finished the game four-for-four with two runs scored and two RBI.

Turner’s cycle came on April 25 – fueling the Nationals 15-12 win over the Rockies (also at Coors). Turner singled to right in the first inning, hit a two-run double to left in the second inning, smacked a two-run homer to right in the sixth and drove in three more  with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.  For the day, Turner was four-for-six, with four runs scored and seven RBI.  The very next night, Turner almost became the first player to hit for the cycle two games in a row.  Again facing the Rockies – after striking out in the first and grounding out to third in the second – Turner hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, singled in the seventh and doubled in the eighth.

Carlos Gomez baseball photo

Carlos Gomez – Two cycles to his name.  Photo by Keith Allison

Gomez’ April 29th cycle – in a 6-3 win over the Angels in Texas – was the second of his career. Gomez doubled to left in the first inning; lined a single to the right side in the third; hit an RBI triple to right-center in the fifth (later scoring on a Rougned Odor’s home run); and hit a two-run homer to center in the seventh.  Gomez finished the game four-for-four, with two runs scored and three RBI. Gomez’ first cycle came nine seasons ago – May 7, 2008 – when he was with the Twins.

 

Four-For-Three

Only four players have hit for the cycle three times in a career: the Reds’ John Reilly (1890 and twice in 1893); the Yankees’ Bob Meusel (1921, 1922, 1928); Babe Herman (Brooklyn Robins twice in 1931 and Cubs in 1933); Adrian Beltre (Mariners in 2008 & Rangers in 2012 and 2015).

An Immaculate Inning

On April 18, Reds’ reliever Drew Storen became the 78th MLB pitcher to throw whats is referred to as an immaculate inning – striking out the side on nine consecutive pitches. Storen came on in the top of the ninth (with the Reds leading the Orioles 9-3) and fanned Jonathon Schoop, J.J. Hardy and Hyun Soo Kim.  For more on immaculate innings and those who have thrown them, click here.

Tough to Fan

Mookie Betts photo

Mookie Betts – Doesn’t miss much,  Photo by Dennis Heller

On April 19, Boston RF Mookie Betts did something he hadn’t done in 129 regular-season plate appearances (dating back 29 games to September 12, 2016) – strikeout. It came in the top of the fourth inning of the Red Sox’ 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays – on a 2-2 slider from Francisco Liriano. It was the longest “strikeout-free” MLB streak since the Marlins’ Juan Pierre went 147 plate appearances without a K in the scorebook in 2004.

 

 

PUTTING THE BAT ON THE BALL

The longest “strikeout-free” stretch in MLB history belongs to outfielder Joe Sewell. Sewell went from May 19 to September 19, 1929 – a streak of 115 games – without striking out. During his 115-game streak, Sewell racked up 516 plate appearances and  436 at bats without making the post-K “walk of shame” to the bench. The 5’6”, 155-pound Indians’ third baseman also collected 143 hits (.328), with 27 doubles, two triples, seven HR and 56 RBI during the whiff-less streak.   On the season, Sewell fanned just four times in 578 at bats – and it wasn’t even his best campaign in terms of at bats/per whiff.   That would be 1932, when Sewell struck out just three times in 503 at bats – or once each 167.7 at bats (the post-1900 MLB record). For his career (14 seasons/Indians and Yankees), Sewell fanned 114 times in 7,132 at bats – or once each 62.6 at bats.

Side note: In 1927, Sewell had a tough year on the base paths.  He was caught stealing in a league-leading 16 times (in 19 attempts).  Notably, he was successful in 17 of 24 attempts the season before and seven of eight attempts the season after.

YA GOTTA SEE THIS!  HOW ABOUT AN UNASSISTED DOUBLE PLAY BY A PITCHER?

More #WhyIHateThe DH

On April 6, Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzon was sent to bat for fellow pitcher Cody Reed with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the sixth inning of a 4-4 game (Philadelphia at Cincinnati). Lorenzon delivered a go-ahead home run to right center (the Reds eventually won 7-4). Through April 2017, Lorenzen is a .244 MLB hitter (11-for-45, with two home runs and eight RBI.)  Ironically, the Reds did not have a single pinch hit homer in 2016 – and it took a pitcher to break the hex.

On April 21, Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright blasted a 96-mph fastball from the Brewers’ Wily Peralta into the second deck in left field for a third-inning, two-run home run. The very next inning, he added a two-run single, giving him four RBI in the Cardinals 6-3 win in Milwaukee.  (Wainwright got the win, giving up two runs on six hits in five innings – while fanning nine.) Side note: Wainwright is one of only thirty MLB players to hit a home run on the first MLB pitch they ever saw (May 24, 2006). Notably, eight of those 30 were pitchers.

Run Don’t Walk

Must we track everything?  On April 22,  Oakland A’s 33-year-old SS Adam Rosales  led off the first inning with a home run off the Mariners’ Ariel Miranda.  Miranda’s embarrassment didn’t last long as Rosales rounded the bases – according to Statcast – in just 15.90 seconds.  Statcast notes that this is the fastest over-the-wall home run trot (gallop?) ever.  How fast? Well, Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies hit an inside-the-park home run the night before – and Blackmon’s dash around the bags was less than four-tenths of a second (0.36 seconds to be exact) slower than Rosales’ “leisurely” trot.  Note:  The A’s topped the Mariners 4-3, while the Rockies bested the Giants 6-5.

Walk Don’t Run

Pirates’ starter Ivan Nova hadn’t given up a walk since last September 13 (146 batters faced without a free pass), when he started against the Yankees on April 23. And, he continued his streak – striking out the side in order in the first inning, retiring the side in order (one strikeout) in the second and getting the first two batters in the third (streak now at 154  consecutive batters faced without a walk).  That brought Yankees’ starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery to the plate for his for his first-ever MLB at bat (in fact, his first professional plate appearance at any level).  What happened?  Nova walked him on a 3-2 count.  Nova went seven innings in the contest, giving up four hits and one runs, striking out seven and walking only Montgomery.  As of April 30, Nova has pitched 36 innings in 2017, with just the one walk and 22 strikeouts.

Run or Walk … Just Don’t Ride

On April 20, San Francisco Giants staff “ace” Madison Bumgarner went down (possibly until the All Star break) with rib and shoulder injuries- sustained in a dirt-bike accident.  Ouch!

Just Like Little League

Remember in Little League, when the coach would move pitchers on and off the mound  in a close game – maybe bringing the shortstop in to pitch to a hitter and then moving him back to shortstop? On April 30, the Yankees did something similar. Yankee reliever Bryan Mitchell had come on to pitch a scoreless top of the ninth, with the Yanks down to the Orioles 4-2. The Bombers came back to tie it in the bottom of the inning.  In the top of the tenth, New York went to closer Aroldis Chapman, but instead of sending Mitchell to the bench, they moved him to first base. Chapman pitched a scoreless tenth.  Then, protecting the closer’s arm (I assume), in the top of tjhe eleventh, Greg Bird came in to play first base and Mitchell went back to the mound. (Unfortunately, this  story does not have a Cinderella ending, Mitchell gave up three runs and took the loss.)

Surprise Player of the Season (So Far)

Brewers’ 1B/OF/DH Eric Thames – a 30-year-old outfielder returning the MLB after three seasons in Korea – is one of the first surprises of the 2017 season. (We can expect plenty of surprises … good and bad … between now and October. That’ why we love the game, isn’t it?).  In reality, Thames’ power stroke should not come as a total surprise.  (Although, he did hit just .263, with one home runs and five RBI in 22 Spring Training games.)

Thames – who played college ball in California for West Valley Community College and Pepperdine University (where, in 2008, he hit .407 with 13 round trippers) – was a seventh-round draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2008.  Thames showed his power potential in the Blue Jays’ minor league system. In 2010, for example, he played in 130 games for Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats and hit .288, with 27 home runs and 104 RBI.  He started the 2011 season with the Triple A Las Vegas 51s, hitting .342-6-30 in 32 games before a callup to Toronto.  He was up and down between Toronto and Las Vegas, finishing his first MLB season with a .262-12-37 line in 95 games. In 2012, he spent time with the Blue Jays and Mariners (he was traded to the Mariners in July), hitting .232, with nine roundtrippers and 25 RBI in 86 MLB games.  He then spent the entire 2013 season in the minors (the Mariners had acquired outfielders Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay in the off season) and was traded by Seattle to the Orioles on June 30, 2013.  The O’s designated Thames for assignment in September and he was picked up by the Astros (who assigned him to Triple A Oklahoma City).

Thames then played in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he was scouted and signed by the NC Dinos of the Korean League.  Thames played in Korea for three season – hitting .348, with 147 homers and 382 RBI.  Oh yes, and tossed in 64 stolen bases.  He was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2015 – when he hit  .481-47-140, and swiped 40 bags.

In November of 2016, the Brewers signed Thames to a three-year 16 million dollar deal – which has been a bargain thus far – through April, his stat line was .345-11-19 – with 28 runs scored.

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Now the Stats

BATTING AVERAGE (among qualifiers)

NL:  Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – .420; Justin Turner, Dodgers – .404; Bryce Harper, Nationals – .391.

AL: Avisail Garcia, White Sox – .368; Mike Trout, Angels – .364; Starlin Castro, Yankees – .352

The lowest April average, among players with at least 50 plate appearances, goes to the Yankee’s Greg Bird at .107 (6-for-66). Another New Yorker, the Mets’ Curtis Granderson has the lowest average (at least 50 plate appearances) for April in the NL at .128 (11-for-86).

HOME RUNS

NL: Eric Thames, Brewers – 11; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – 11; Bryce Harper, Nationals and Freddie Freeman, Braves – 9

AL: Khris Davis, A’s – 10; Aaron Judge, Yankees – 10; seven with 7.

RBI

NL: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – 29; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 26; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – 26

AL:  Miguel Sano, Twins – 25; Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 23; Albert Pujols, Angels – 22

RUNS SCORED

NL: Bryce Harper, Nationals – 32; Eric Thames, Brewers – 28; Adam Eaton, Nationals – 24.

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 23; Mitch Haniger, Mariners – 20; Francisco Lindor, Indians – 20

STOLEN BASES

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds – 10; A.J. Pollock, D-backs – 10; five with seven

AL: Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 8; Jose Altuve, Astros – 7; Lorenzo Cain, Royals and Jacob Ellsbury, Yankees – 6

WALKS DRAWN

NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 22; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 22; Brandon Belt, Giants and Eric Thames, Brewers – 18

AL: Brad Miller, Mariners – 18; Miguel Sano, Twins – 18; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 17

STRIKEOUTS

NL: Trevor Story, Rockies – 39 (90 AB’s); Jonathan Villar, Brewers – 37 (107 AB’s); Kyle Schwarber, Cubs – 35 (93 AB’s)

AL: Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 35 (85 AB’s); Danny Espisosa, Angels – 34 (88 AB’s); Chris Davis, Orioles -33 (80 AB’s);

—-PITCHING—-

ERA (qualifiers)

NL: Mike Leake, Cardinals – 1.35; Ivan Nova, Pirates – 1.50; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 1.62

AL: Erwin Santana, Twins – 0.77; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 1.19; Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 1.21

WINS

NL: Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies – 4-0; Hansel Robles, Mets – 4-0; Clayton Kershaw Dodgers (4-1); Wily Peralta, Brewers – 4-1

AL: Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 5-0; Erwin Santana, Twins – 4-0;  Phil Hughes, Twins – 4-1; Andrew Triggs, A’s – 4-1

STRIKEOUTS

NL: Jacob deGrom, Mets- 44 (31 2/3 IP); Zack Greinke, D-backs – 40 (36 2/3 IP); Max Scherzer, Nationals – 40 (33 2/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 52 (37 2/3 IP); Danny Salazar, Indian – 42 (29 IP); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 41 (38 2/3 IP)

OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

WALKS ALLOWED: Wade Miley, Orioles  – 19 (31 IP) and Marty Perez, Rangers – 19 (31 2/3 IP).

HOME RUNS ALLOWED: Jered Weaver, Padres – 10 (28 2/3 IP).

ERA (minimum 20 innings): Josh Tomlin, Indians – 8.87  (23 1/3 innings). 

SAVES

NL: Greg Holland, Rockies – 11 (11 ops); Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 7 (7 ops) Tony Watson, Pirates – 7 (7 ops)

AL: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox – 8 (9 ops.); Brandon Kintzler, Twins – 7 (7 ops); three with six

STANDINGS – CLOSE OF PLAY APRIL 30

Standing

 

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