Just Arrived in the Mail – Blackwing Pencils’ Limited Edition Tribute to Joe DiMaggio

My Blackwing Volume 56 tribute to Joe DIMaggio's hitting streak. (No, the ball didn't come with it. That was off my shefl.

My Blackwing Volume 56 tribute to Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak. (No, the ball didn’t come with it. That was off my shefl.

I seldom write about products in these BBRT posts (except, of course, for baseball book reviews), but every once in a while I see something unique, fun and baseball themed that I’d like to share with readers.   This is one of those times.

I think I’d finally found the perfect pencil for keeping score at the ball park – The Blackwing Volume 56, which pays tribute to the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s record-setting, 56-game hitting streak.   As regular readers may know, BBRT can be old school – and this pencil feels, smells and looks like it belongs tucked into an old-style scorecard.

The pencil features a blue pinstriped barrel to reflect the Yankees’ iconic pinstriped uniforms, and it’s imprinted with a gold “56.”.  While the Yankee Clipper’s baseball legacy includes a spot on 10 American League pennant winners and nine World Series champions, 13 All-Star selections, three American League MVP Awards, two batting titles, two home run crowns, and the Yankees retirement of his number (five) – the number DiMaggio may be best known for is “56”

From May 15, 1941 through July 16, 1941, “Joltin’ Joe” hit safely in an MLB-record 56 consecutive games. During the streak, DiMaggio hit .408, with 91 hits, 15 home runs, 56 runs scored and 55 RBI.  DiMaggio had 34 one-hit games during the streak; 13 two-hit games; five three-hit contests; and four four-hit games. The Yankees went 41-13 (two ties) as DiMaggio scorched AL pitching.

You can see Blackwing Pencils’ video about the streak here.

The DiMaggio streak tribute pencil is selling fast, but if you are interested they may be available here.

The Blackwing Volume 56 is just one of Blackwing’s tribute offerings.  They have also created pencils honoring such individuals and events as Pultizer Prize Winner John Steinbeck; writer, artist and environmentalist John Muir; and the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.  Each of these pencils is designed to reflect the character of the honoree or event. For example, the Blackwing 725 pencil celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Newport Festival with a lacquer finish inspired by the Fender Stratocaster that fueled the Festival – called one of “50 Moments that Changed Rock n’ Roll” by Rolling Stone magazine.

Going forward, I hope Blackwing will honor additional baseball performances or players.

A Brief Look at Blackwing Pencils’ History

Blackwing pencils were favored by award-winning creators throughout the 20th century. Despite a cult following, Blackwing pencils fell victim to a cost-cutting culture in the 1990s and were discontinued. That didn’t stop devotees from paying as much as $40 per pencil for unused stock. In 2010, Palomino Brands (a division of California Cedar Products Company) drew from nearly a century of experience and quality commitments to access the world-class materials and production excellence necessary to bring Blackwing pencils back for a new generation of writers, artists, and others seeking a quality writing instrument and unique writing experience.  For more on Palomino and Blackwing, click here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

 

A Few Seats Left – Time to Get on the Ballpark Tours Bus

 

ballpark toursBallpark Tours, based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota, is offering a trio of trips – that can take you everywhere from Chattanooga to Chicago to Havana – in 2016.  If you are looking for a unique baseball experience, it’s time to sign up for the bus (or plane).

There is really nothing like a Ballpark Tours trek (I’ve been on 27 of them). It is the perfect way to enjoy the national pastime – good times with good friends (old and new) who share a passion for baseball and adventure.  It’s would not be an exaggeration to say that once you get on a Ballpark Tours bus, every mile is a memory.

Here’s a brief rundown (details courtesty of Ballpark Tours) of the 2016 trips, for more info and sign-up, click here.

 

Tennessee Three Step – Ten Games, Seven Cities, Ten Days

Kansas City is the Major League Stop on the Tennesee Three Step - which includes fun times in Nashville and Memphis.

Kansas City is the Major League Stop on the Tennesee Three Step – which includes fun times in Nashville and Memphis.

In mid-August Ballpark Tours is departing on what Baseball Roundtable has dubbed “The Baseball Trip of a Lifetime.”  Ballpark Tours calls it Bleacher Bums XXXIV – The Tennessee Three Step. (Yes, Ballpark Tours has been around that long).

Bleacher Bums XXXIV, leaving out of Saint Paul, Minnesota on August 12, will take you to ten games in seven cities in ten days.  And, if you’ve ever wanted to compare the quality of play at various levels (as well as culture of the game and the towns and cities in which it is played), this trip is for you. It includes professional baseball at almost every level – Independent, A, AA, AAA and Major League.

You’ll also be able to enjoy the culture, cuisine (and beverages), history and arts of the cities along the way, including two nights each in Memphis, Nashville and Kansas City (also on the trip: Peoria, Marion, Chattanooga and Des Moines). You can expect BPT’s usual good hotels, well-located – and all the usual high spirits, hi-jinx and BPT hoopla.

 

September Pennant Run- The Amazing Cubbies

Gotta love Wrigley - and this could be the Cubs' year.

Gotta love Wrigley – and this could be the Cubs’ year.

Want to take in some meaningful September games in an historic ballpark, then Ballpark Tours September Pennant Run (September 22-25) may be just the ticket.  Leaving from Saint Paul, MN, this trip includes a pair of Cubs/Cardinals games in Wrigley and a Brewers/Pirates matchup in Milwaukee – plus three nights at the historic Palmer House in downtown Chicago.  This is a great opportunity to enjoy a weekend of Blues, Brews and (pennant race) Baseball.

 

Cuba – The Diamonds to our South II

December 1 – 11, 2016

CubaAnother great Ballpark Tours trip to Cuba.  You’ll enjoy nine days in Cuba, five cities, three great hotels, Baseball People to People Events – and more.

Enjoy the glory of Cuba and Cuban baseball on a trip that includes:

  • 10 nights accommodations including one night in Miami;
  • Daily Breakfasts, lunches and six Dinners in Cuba;
  • Admissions to ballgames, museums & cultural events;
  • Meetings with ballplayers, sports officials and historians;
  • Professional Tours of Havana, Vinales, Trinidad and Cienfuegos;
  • Rum – Cigars – Music … and, of course BPT HOOPLA!!!!

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs

 

autograph book cover 150 dpiThe 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs

 

By Tom Zappala and Ellen Zappala

 

Peter E. Randall Publisher (2016)

 

$30.00

 

 

 

Whatever your connection to the National Pastime – autograph collector, statistics addict, historian, trivia buff , casual fan or fanatic – “The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs” should capture a spot on your book shelf (or coffee table).

                                                       Baseball Roundtable

While the central focus of The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs is identifying the most desirable and sought after baseball autographs of all time, this is not a book solely for autograph collectors. It is really a book for baseball fans – offering not just an evaluation of each autograph by PSA/DNA experts, but also telling the story of each featured player through statistics, trivia, comments from contemporaries and entertaining on-field and off-field stories.   As with previous baseball books from the Zappalas (The T206 Collection: The Players & Their Stories and The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players), The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs also is well laid out, with plenty of solid graphics and photographs.  Note:  For a review of The Cracker Jack Collection, click here.

Furrther, you don’t have to be a nostalgia buff or student of baseball history to relate to the players whose signatures are featured in this volume. The one hundred players on this list range from pioneers like Hall of Famer Albert Spalding (who played his last MLB game in 1877) to contemporary stars like Albert Pujols (1B/DH for the 2016 Angels). Along the way, the book takes a look at players (and their signatures) like Grover Cleveland Alexander, Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki – and more. Authors Tom Zappala and Ellen Zappala also did not limit the book’s scope to the U.S. major leagues.  You’ll also find Negro League stars like Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston; Cuban great Martin Dihigo; and Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh.  (Is that something for every fan picture starting to emerge?)

As you can tell, I liked the book – and, if you are reading this blog post, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it too.  But, to whet your appetite, let’s take a closer look at just a few examples what you can expect to find on the 200+ pages of The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs.

The Obligatory List

If you going to promise to identify the 100 greatest of anything, you better provide some kind of list.  Well, it’s right up front. In Chapter One, the authors identify the top twenty most desirable baseball autographs.  I don’t want to “give away the whole story,” so here are the top five:

The Top Five Most Desirable Baseball Autographs

                                 #1 Babe Ruth

                                  #2 Christy Mathewson

                                   #3 Josh Gibson

                                  #4 Shoeless Joe Jackson

                                  #5 Lou Gehrig

Evaluation from PSA/DNA Certification Experts

The book provides collectors an evaluation of each autograph by PSA/DNA experts, covering such areas as specific characteristics of each signature, changes over time, rarity and tips on determining authenticity.

Here are just a few tidbits from the evaluations:

  • “Out of respect for Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig very rarely signed his autograph on the sweet spot of a baseball. Gehrig felt that it was Ruth’s place to be on the sweet spot … It was not until Ruth retired as a player that Gehrig’s signature began to appear more frequently on the sweet spot.”
  • Christy Mathewson’s autograph is notable because of its “scarcity, beautiful appearance, and his legendary status.” (Mostly found on documents such as checks and contracts, Mathewson’s signature on a baseball has been known to command more than $100,000.)
  • Jimmie Foxx changed his autograph over time, even altering the spelling of his first name (Jim, Jimmy, Jimmie).
  • Ted Williams’ signature is one of the most forged in baseball – and a large volume of counterfeit Williams items were seized in a late-1990s FBI sting.,

Hall of Famer Pitcher John Clarkson – As Rare As It Gets

Not only did he play in an era when autograph signing wasn’t commonplace, Clarkson spent the last several years of his life in various sanitariums and psychiatric hospitals, making his autograph almost impossible to obtain in that tragic time … As of this writing, PSA has not certified a Clarkson autograph.”

                                          The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs

The Stories a Player’s Signature Can Tell

 You will also find comments on how a player’s performance and popularity can affect their signature – adding to or subtracting from its legibility or prompting the use of ghost signers (relatives, club employees, etc.)

Mickey Mantle – Growing Into Greatness

“If you were to compare a rookie autograph of Mickey Mantle to one penned later in his career and life, you can see the evolution not only of his signature style, but also of his personality. What was once a very simplistic signature early in his career developed into one of the most recognizable and stylish autographs in the entire hobby.  Mantle went from being a small-town phenomenon to the starting center fielder of the most popular team on the planet – the New York Yankees

“If you follow changes in his autograph, you can see Mantle’s rise to stardom. As he blossomed into a superstar on the field, more people asked for his autograph. As more people requested his autograph, Mantle had time to perfect it and his confidence grew as an athlete. You can sense that the confidence in his seasoned signature. It is bold and definitive like those of fellow baseball legends like Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth.”

                                The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs

Ted William came in as the 20th most desirable autograph.

Ted Williams came in as the 20th most desirable autograph.

Statistics – Statistics – Statistics

We count everything in baseball, and The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs honors that tradition. Each player’s on-field performance is well documented – from Walter Johnson’s 12 strikeout titles, 417 wins and 2.17 career ERA to Albert Pujols’ 2001 rookie-season stat line of .329-37-130.  The authors give solid statistical evidence –  career accomplishments and best seasons – for why each of these player’s signatures are among the 100 greatest autographs in the game.

For the Trivia Buff

The Zappala’s also provide a look at some of the unique stats and occurrences that translate into grist for baseball trivia buffs. Here is just a sampling:

  • Stan Musial collected 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road.
  • When the Dodgers met the Twins in the 1965 World Series, the only Dodger boasting a .300 or better batting average was pitcher Don Drysdale. (That season, Drysdale hit .300 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in 130 at bats and was occasionally used as a pinch hitter).
  • Rickey Henderson stole 30 or more bases seven times – after age 35.
  • Cy Young is credited with introducing the changeup to baseball

Chuck Klein – A Home Run Title that was a Walk in the Park

“In 1929, his first full season in the majors, the 24-year-old (Chuck) Klein batted .346 and smacked an amazing 43 homers to win the National League home run crown. Interestingly, Klein’s teammates helped guarantee that home run title. On the last day of the 1929 season, the Phillies played the New York Giants in a doubleheader.  Klein and Giants superstar Mel Ott were tied for the home run lead.  In the first game, Klein homered, which put him one ahead of Ott. In the second game, Ott was walked FIVE times by Phillies pitchers, and one of those walks came with the bases loaded.

                              The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs

Note: Most of the time Klein, who went on to win the HR crown in three of the next four seasons (including the Triple Crown in 1933), signed “Chuck” Klein (with quotes around his first name).

A Look into the Lives of Featured Players

The Zappalas also give readers a look into the lives of the featured players with background as diverse as:

  • How Babe Ruth “dominated the Big Apple’s Roaring Twenties social scene as much as he did opposing pitchers.”
  • The impact on Ty Cobb of his mother’s fatal shooting of his father.
  • Rube Waddell’s zany antics, including wrestling alligators.
  • Journeyman catcher Moe Berg’s ties to the OSS and CIA.

What Peers Had to Say

The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs is also sprinkled with quotes from peers about the players whose signatures are so popular. Just a few examples:

I played with Willie Mays and against Hank Aaron.  They were tremendous players, but they were no josh Gibson.

Monte Irvin, Hall of Famer

————————

His fastball looked about the size of a watermelon seed and it hissed at you as it passed.

Ty Cobb on Walter Johnson

————————

Does Pete Rose hustle? Before the All Star game, he came into the clubhouse and took off his shoes and they ran another mile without him.

Hank Aaron

————————————

(Harmon) Killebrew can knock the ball out any park including Yellowstone.

Paul Richards, Orioles Manager

————————————

When ol’ Diz was out there pitching it was more than just another ballgame. It was a regular three-ring circus and everybody was wide awake and enjoying being alive.

Pepper Martin, Dizzy Dean teammate

————————————–

So there you have it, a taste of what you can expect from The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs – again, a book that offers something for baseball autograph collectors, statistics addicts, historians, trivia buffs, casual fans and true fanatics. It’s entertaining, informative (and well-researched), easy-to-read, and beautifully laid out and illustrated. Baseball Roundtable recommends it as a worthy addition to any baseball library.

The authors:

Tom Zappala: A Boston area businessman and talk show host who is passionate about our national pastime and collects vintage baseball memorabilia.

Ellen Zappala: President of ATS Communications (a marketing and consulting company) and a former newspaper publisher, who enjoys bringing the stories of Deadball Era and Golden Age players to life.

Also contributing:

  • Joe Orlando: President of Professional Sports Authenticators and PSA/DNA Authentication Services; Editor of Sports Market Report.
  • John Molori: Columnist for Boston Baseball Magazine.
  • Steve Grad: principal authenticator for PSA/DNA Authentication Services
  • Arthur K. Miller: award-winning portrait artist specializing in historic sports figures and pop culture icons.
  • Tony Dube: President of White Point Imaging.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Yesterday’s MLB Off-Day Trivia Answer

dirty baseball photo

Photo by kelly.sikkema

Yesterday, BBRT focused on Mike Trout’s exceptional All Star Game performance(s) – including the fact that he is one of only ten players to hit for the (career) cycle in the All Star Game.  To see that post, click here. Your MLB off-day (All Star break) trivia question was, “Who are the other nine players to hit a single, double, triple and home run during their All Star Game appearances?”

Here’s the list – and it puts Mike Trout in some pretty good company.

 

Ernie Banks

George Brett

Roberto Clemente

Prince Fielder

Steve Garvey

Willie Mays

Mike Schmidt

Lou Whitaker

Ted Williams

Tomorrow – baseball’s back!

Coming soon to BBRT: A Review of the newest book from Tom Zappala and Ellen Zappala – The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs.

 

For more baseball trivia – if you haven’t already tried BBRT’s two (99 questions) quizzes, click here for Quiz One and here for Quiz Two. 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary;

Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Photo by ColumbusCameraOp

All Star Game Haiku – and an Off-Day Trivia Question

All Star Game Haiku

 

It is clear, no doubt

The Major League All Star Game

Belongs to Mike Trout

 

As we face the darkest day of summer – no MLB games scheduled – here is a little All Star Game trivia and a question to think about on this day without baseball. (Answer posted tomorrow).

Mike Trout photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Mike Trout was apparently born to own the All Star Game. In his first five full MLB seasons, Trout has made the All Star team five times.  In those five games, The “Millville Meteor” has hit .461 (six-for-thirteen), with two singles,  two doubles, a triple, a home run, three runs scored, three RBI and a stolen base.  Add in his two walks and Trout’s All Star on-base percentage is .533.

Trout has also proven to be a fast starter.  He’s managed a hit in his first at bat in each of his five All Star Games (more on that in just a bit).

Trout also has two All Star Game MVP awards to his credit (2014 and 2015), one of only five players to accomplish that feat and the only one to achieve it in consecutive seasons.  The other two-time ASG MVP’s are: Willlie Mays (1963, 1968); Steve Garvey (1974, 1978), Gary Carter (1981, 1984); Cal Ripken Jr. (1991 and 2001).

Trout is also one of only ten players to hit for the career cycle (single, double, triple and home run) in the All Star Game.  Trout accomplished the cycle in his first four All Star contests – and he did it in his first at bat in each game, and in order.

Now, for the trivia question. Name the other nine players to hit for the All Star Game cycle. I’ll give you their initials – and post the answer tomorrow. Note: Bold Face = Hall of Famer.

EB

WM

TW

GB

RC

SG

MS

LW

PF

For some All Star Game firsts,click here.

Comments on some All Star Game bests,click here. 

A look at the All Star Game in Minnesota, click here.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Special Event – A Fun Night with Mike Veeck in Saint Paul

 

Baseball and Business – A Book and a Bar.  What more could you ask for?

Saint Paul Saints owner Mike Veeck presents his latest book:

“Another Boring, Derivative, Piece of Crap Business Book: Make the First Basic Leap in Work in 100 Years, Laughing All the Way.”

            Time:      5-7 p.m.

            Date:      Wednesday, July 13, 2016

            Place:      Saint Paul Athletic Club

                             340 Cedar Street, Saint Paul, MN

Co-sponsored by Sub Text Books, 6 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, MN – 651-493-2791.

Cash bar will be available.

BoringMike Veeck – nationally renowned speaker, entrepreneur, college professor, marketing and advertising expert, and owner of six successful minor league baseball teams (including the Saint Paul Saints) – will present his latest book Another Boring, Derivative, Piece of Crap Business Book: Make the First Basic Leap in Work in 100 Years, Laughing All the Way  at the Saint Paul Athletic Club; 5-7 p.m.; Wednesday, July 13.

Like Mike Veeck’s approach to business and baseball, this book (co-authored by Allen Fahden) is unconventional and fun.  What else would you expect from an individual wh0 has built success in baseball by having a pig deliver baseballs to the umpires, promoted “ballet” parking, staffed the ball park with “usher-tainers;” and had mimes perform instant replays. Veeck comes by this penchant for baseball, fun and even tweaking the establishment naturally.

The Veeck family has a strong (and stubborn) baseball heritage that can be traced back to Mike Veeck’s grandfather, Bill Veeck, Sr., who was president of the Chicago Cubs from 1919 to 1933 and is credited with the idea for planting ivy on Wrigley Field’s outfield walls.  Mike’s father Bill Veeck, Jr. – a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame – was the owner of the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. Bill Veeck, Jr. is remembered for such initiatives as signing Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League; sending 3-foot, 6-inch Eddie Gaedel to bat in a major league game; Grandstand Managers’ Day; the first exploding scoreboard;  a World Series win (Indians 1948); and an AL pennant (White Sox, 1959).  His Hall of Fame plaque  reads, in part, “created heightened fan interest at every stop” and the Hall of Fame gives him the title “A Champion of the Little Guy.”

Mike Veeck - A Champion for Fun and Fans.

Mike Veeck – A Champion for Fun and Fans.

Mike Veeck – practically raised in a ball park –  has brought the Veeck dedication to baseball and to success built on fun and fans to his career in the national  pastime.  Veeck is known for creating a culture of fun and innovation, encouraging creative risk-taking, embracing the unconventional and delivering outstanding customer care and service.  This business philosophy has earned him national attention – and appearances on such media outlets as the NBC Nightly News, 60 Minutes, HBO Real Sports, ESPN Sports Center, The Late Show with David Letterman;  as well as speaking and training engagements with such organizations as 3M, The NBA, Deluxe Corporation, General Mills and NASCAR. Always entertaining, you can expect Veeck not only to share  what he has learned about fun (and business success) over the years – but also some “sure-to-bring-a-grin” stories that affirm those learnings.

A couple of concepts from Another Boring, Derivative, Piece of Crap Business Book: Make the First Basic Leap in Work in 100 Years, Laughing All the Way.

  • Instead of coming up with a good idea and asking what could go wrong, come up with a bad idea and ask what could go right.
  • A sincere apology can go a long way. If that doesn’t work, tell people you’re going to rehab.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

Book Review – Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder

PerfectPerfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One Game Wonder

by Steven K. Wagner

Breakaway Books, 2015

$12.95

 

Can you imagine a baseball book that examines an entire big league career – pitch by pitch?  Well, you don’t have to.  Steven K. Wagner has done just that in his book Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder.

 Wagner’s book focuses on the one-game MLB career of John Paciorek (September 29, 1963 – the last day of the 1963 season).  In that contest, the 18-year-old Houston Colt .45’s outfielder was truly perfect: five trips to the plate – five times on base (three hits and two walks); four runs scored, three runs driven in; four errorless plays in the outfield.

A perfect start to what Paciorek – and many others – expected to be a long and successful major league career. Yet, as Wagner tells it, after his fifth trip to the plate in that day’s 13-4 Houston win over the Mets:  “Paciorek knew he would not bat again that day, or that season. He had no way of knowing, however, that he would never again swing at a major league pitch. He would never catch another ball, or have the opportunity to prevent a runner from scoring with a dazzling throw. Other than a few practice tosses he would receive from center fielder (Ivan) Murrell as the players warmed up for the last half inning of play, he would not touch a baseball again in the major leagues.”

 He had so much talent. It’s hard to believe he didn’t succeed in baseball. No one was a better athlete than he was.  He showed power … he was certainly a star in the making.

                                               Rusty Staub teammate of John Paciorek,

                                                22-year MLB career, six-time All Star

Paciorek also had no way of knowing that, more than 50 years later, he would still be recognized as having the greatest one-game career in MLB history (the only player with more than one MLB at bat and a 1.000 batting average).

John Paciorek’s is the finest example of a perfect one-game career, neatly packaged, the quotient of his own perfect afternoon of hitting,  fielding and base running that baseball has ever seen. Indeed, John’s perfect day is one for the ages … and a baseball story worth telling.

                           Albie Pearson, Major League outfielder (1958-66);                                            1958 AL Rookie of the Year

John Paciorek’s story is, indeed, a baseball tale worth telling and, in this case, the fact that it is being told by a true baseball fan also makes it one worth reading.

BBRT asked author Steven K. Wagner what motivated him to take on the project.

In the early 1980s, I picked up a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia, which listed the stats for everyone who ever played major league baseball. I leafed through all 1,200 pages and quickly noticed there were many players who participated in only one game. Most went 0 for 1 or pitched an inning. Paciorek’s numbers were the best of anyone. I was intrigued and a decade later wrote a feature on him for the Los Angeles Times. I remained intrigued. Twenty years later I decided to write the book, however that was easier said than done. I wondered, how do you write a book about one game? I did some research and managed to track down the play-by-play of the game in the Library of Congress. Once I figured out how to couch the game around the play-by-play I got the project to work.

 In Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder, Wagner not only gives readers a look at how Paciorek made his way to the big league stage, but also why he was unable to stay there and where life took him after that one big game.   And, Wagner goes even further, putting it all in context with a look at other players who enjoyed one-game MLB careers; players who also played their final  big league games on September 29th 1963; and teammates, coaches, fans, relatives and even umpires who passed through or had an impact on Paciorek’s life and career.  The cast of characters includes (but, as they say, is not limited to) personalities ranging from Hall of Fame player and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ralph Kiner … to Little League legend Pinky Deras … … to Rusty Staub and Joe Morgan (who took the field with Paciorek in that September 29 contest) … to Aubrey “Yo Yo” Epps (considered to have the greatest one-game MLB career until Paciorek came along).

It is those stories, woven around a detailed account of Paciorek’s big game, that make this book a deserving tribute to Paciorek and his love of the game, as well as a treat for baseball fans.

For example, Wagner gives the readers a look at the final game, careers and lives of a handful of players who also made their last MLB appearances on September 29 1963.

  • Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who retired that day, after 22 years in the major leagues – with a .331 lifetime average and a mere 3,015 more games and 3,627 more hits than Paciorek.
  • Cubs’ second baseman Ken Hubbs, 1962 NL Rookie of the Year – the first rookie to win a Gold Glove. Like Paciorek and Musial, Hubbs played his final game on September 29, 1963 – dying in a plane crash on February 15, 1964, at age 22.
  • Jim Umbricht, one of the Houston Colt .45’s top relief pitchers in 1963. Umbricht, who got the victory in Paciorek’s one MLB game, succumbed to cancer (metastic melanoma) on April 8, 1964 (at age 33) and was the first Houston player to have their number retired.

Wagner’s well-researched book provides insight into Paciorek’s life before and after the big game.

  • His natural talent (in high school he was all-state in football, basketball and baseball);
  • His family heritage (Paciorek’s brothers Tom and Jim also played in the major leagues);
  • His absolute dedication to excelling at his chosen sport, and how it may have contributed to the brevity of his career;
  • The unique circumstances – surprising even to Paciorek himself – that pushed him onto the major league stage at age 18;
  • The back injury that cut short his baseball career; and
  • The satisfaction he found as a teacher and author after leaving professional baseball.

Books by John Paciorek

Plato and Socrates – Baseball’s Wisest Fans

The Principles of  Baseball And All There Is To Know About Hitting.

 

BBRT asked author Steven Wagner what most surprised or impressed him about about John Paciorek.

I was most surprised by John’s own lack of awe about his sterling performance. At least early on, he genuinely didn’t see what all the fuss has been about. After the book was published, I think he changed his tune a little. He now seems to regard it as a fairly significant accomplishment. I consider it a record that will never be broken. Nowadays, teams never call a player up for the final game of a season.  They usually promote them for September and give them as many at bats as they can. Someone would have to go 4 for 4 in his only big-league game, and that will simply never happen.

BBRT recommends Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Fame Wonder.  It’s more than the story of one-game – albeit an historic one. It’s the story of one man’s life and passion for the national pastime, with a host of relevant “side trips” that make the journey all the more enjoyable for the baseball fan.

Steven K. Wagner

Steven K. Wagner has worked as a freelance journalist since 1989. He began his career with the Monmouth Sun-Enterprise in Oregon and worked for the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier and Portland Daily Journal of Commerce before joining United Press International. He has also worked for the Portland Oregonian and has freelanced extensively for the Los Angeles Times, Oklahoma City Oklahoman, Seattle Times, Baseball America and numerous other newspaper and magazines. He is also a baseball fan.

“I have always loved baseball … In fact, my next book, due out this summer, is about a player from the 1960s Dodgers’ organization. It is titled: “Seinsoth: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Dodger.” Baseball was less of a business then, and I loved the fact that the players got their uniforms dirty, played with injuries and even had to take jobs in the off season in order to make ends meet. Their lives were very much like the lives of ordinary citizens, except for the high-profile nature of what they did.”

Note:  BBRT shares Wagner’s fascination with players who enjoyed short – but, in some way, significant – major league careers. In fact, three years ago BBRT launched an annual award recognizing such players  – appropriately titled “The John Paciorek Award.”  For a look at that recognition, click here.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

Teixeira Moves Up Switch Hitter Heirarchy – Mantle Still King

Mark Teixeira photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Yesterday (July 3, 2016), Yankees’ 1B Mark Teixeira got an early start on his Independence Day fireworks – clubbing a pair of home runs as the Bombers topped the Padres 6-3 in San Diego. It was an all-or-nothing kind of day for the New York slugger, who struck out in his first three at bats and homered in his final two.  (Teixeira is hitting just .192 on the season, with seven round trippers and 58 strike outs in 198 at bats.)

Teixeira’s round trippers not only helped the Yankees to a victory, they also had notable historic significance. They were Teixeira’s 400th and 401st  career home runs, making Teixeira just the fifth switch hitter to reach the 400 home run mark.  (Teixeira’s fellow Yankee Carlos Beltran reached 400 home runs on May 15 of this season.)

SWITCH HITTERS WITH AT LEAST 400 CAREER HOME RUNS

         Mickey Mantle            536

         Eddie Murray              504

         Chipper Jones              468

         Carlos Beltran             412 (still active)

         Mark Teixeira              401 (still active)

mantle

Mickey Mantle – King of the Switch Hitters

BBRT would like to use Teixeira’s accomplishment as a springboard to a look at some switch-hitting power records – which, by the way, provide evidence that, while Beltran and Teixeira moved up the switch-hitting hierarchy this season, Mickey Mantle is still the king.

  • The record for home runs in a season by a switch-hitter is 54, by Yankee great Mickey Mantle in 1961. Mantle is, in fact, the only switch-hitter ever to reach 50 homers in a campaign; and he did it twice, with 52 in 1956 and 54 in 1961. (Ironically, the year Mantle set the record, he did not win the HR crown. It went to teammate Roger Maris with 61.)
  • The NL record for home runs by a switch hitter belongs to the Braves’ Chipper Jones, with 45 in 1999. Like Mantle, Jones did not win the HR title in his record-setting season. Mark McGwire, then with the Cardinals, swatted 65.
  • Mickey Mantle is the only switch-hitter to ever win the Triple Crown (.353-52-130 for the Yankees in 1956).

Mickey Mantle won more HR crowns than any other switch-hitter.  Here are the switching hitting HR champs:

  • Walt Wilmot, Cubs, 1890 – 13 HRs
  • Ripper Collins, Cardinals, 1934 – 35 HRs
  • Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1955 – 37 HRs
  • Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1956 – 52 HRs
  • Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1958 – 42 HRs
  • Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1960 – 4 0HRs
  • Eddie Murray, Orioles, 1981 – 21 HRs (strike shortened)
  • Howard Johnson, Mets, 1991 – 38 HRs
  • Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 2009 – 39 HRs

Both of Teixeira’s home runs in yesterday’s game came as a left-handed batter – but I’d like to take a look at a more unique accomplishment, players who have hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game.  It’s not as rare a feat as you might think.  It’s been accomplished  291 times (174 in the American League, 117 in the National League).

  • The first player to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game was Wally Schange of the Philadelphia Athletics on September 8, 1916.
  • The most recent player to homer from both sides of the pate in the same game was Nick Swisher (for the Braves on August 22, 2015).
  • The career record for homering from both sides of the plate in the same games is 14 – shared by Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. Leaders among players homering from both side of the plate in the same game:
    • Mark Teixeira – 14 times
    • Nick Swisher – 14
    • Carlos Beltran – 12
    • Chili Davis – 11
    • Eddie Murray – 11
    • Tony Clark- 10
    • Ken Caminiti – 10
    • Mickey Mantle – 10
  • In 1996, the Padres’ Ken Caminiti hit a home run for both sides of the plate in the same game a record four times in a single season – three times in the month of August alone. Note: Caminiti also achieved the feat three times in a single month in September of 1995.

From 1955-1965, a game in which a player homered from both sides of the plate occurred in the AL 14 times, with 13 of those being Yankees (Mickey Mantle 10, Tom Tresh 3). 

The only non-Yankee to achieve the feat in the AL during that time span was the Red Sox’ Pumpsie Green (August 15, 1961). Green hit a total of just 13 home runs in his five-season MLB career.  BBRT Note: Green achieved historic significance as the first African-American player for the Boston Red Sox – the last MLB team to break the color line (1959). In the 1955-65 time span, there were only three NL games which saw a player homer from both sides of the plate – two by the Cubs’ Ellis Burton, one by the Dodgers’ Maury Wills.

  • Only three players have hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same inning: Carlos Baerga, Indians (April 9, 1993); Mark Bellhorn, Cubs (August 29, 2002); Kendrys Morales, Angels (July 30, 2012).
  • In the post season, a game with a home run from both sides of the plate has been achieved just four times: Twice by the Yankees’ Bernie Williams (Game Three of the 1995 ALDS and Game Four of the 1996 ALDS); the Braves Chipper Jones (Game Four of the 2003 NLDS); and the A’s Milton Bradley  (Game Two of the 2006 ALCS).

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Photo by Keith Allison

 

June Wrap Up – It Was A Scorcher

JuneWrapJuly is upon us, and that means it’s time for BBRT’s look at the previous month. Clearly, things heated up a bit in June:

  • The Orioles set a new MLB record for June HR’s and fell just two long balls shy of the record for any month.
  • Jose Altuve of the Astros hit a scorching .420, and the Orioles hit .300 as a team.
  • The White Sox hit seven home runs in a game – and lost.
  • The Rockies and Marlins played a game (which ended in a 5-3 Rockies’ win) in which every run scored on a solo home run.
  • The Braves’ Freddie Freeman hit for 2016’s first cycle.
  • The Giants chose to NOT use a DH in a game at Oakland, letting pitcher Madison Bumgarner bat for himself. Madbum doubled in his first at bat – leading off the third inning.

We’ll look at all of this and more in this post – as well as the usual statistics, leader boards and off-the-wall BBRT observations. (This post can get a bit long – a month of stats, after all.  If you prefer a look at other recent posts, there are links in the sidebar to the right.)

BBRT Note:  Apologies for being a day late on this post.  Our Golden Retriever

Windsor

Windsor

“Windsor” passed away a few weeks ago (cancer) and we decided to honor him by adopting a rescue dog.  Had a long drive/day on May 30th picking her (Wendy) up.  She was rescued from Turkey – and, while she needs lots of TLC, she is very sweet.

Wendy

Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

INDIANS HEAT UP – MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE

Cleveland Progressive field photo

Home to the hottest team in baseball. Photo by Ken Lund

No team was hotter in June than the Cleveland Indians, who went an MLB-best 22-6 and ended the month on an active 13-game win streak – although the Orioles challenged with a 19-9 record, driven by 56 home runs (a new June MLB team record). The Giants posted the NL’s top record for the month at 17-10.  BBRT Note: The Rangers also had a big month, 20-8, the only team other than Cleveland to reach 20 victories.

On the opposite end of the scorecard were the Angels, Pirates and Phillies, who suffered June swoons. The Angels’ 8-19 was the worst June mark in MLB, while the Pirates and Phillies each posted NL-worst 9-19 records. The biggest stumble probably belongs to the Red Sox, who went 10-16 – dropping from the top of the AL East (with a three-game lead) to second-place (five games behind the Orioles).

If the season ended June 30, your playoff teams would be:

AL Division Leaders: Orioles, Indians, Rangers.  Wild Cards: Red Sox, Royals.

NL Division Leaders: Nationals, Cubs, Giants.  Wild Cards: Dodgers Mets.

The full standings – with June won-lost records included – can be found at the end of this post.

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE MONTHLY HONORS

 NL Player of the Month:  Wil Myers, 1B, Padres.

The 25-year-old Myers hit .327, with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and 25 runs scored for the Padres in June – and tossed in five steals in six attempts. Clearly, 2016 marks a comeback season for the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year (Rays), whose past two seasons have been hampered by wrist injuries. (In 2014-2015, Myers played in a total of 147 games, hitting .235 with 14 home runs.)

NL Pitcher of the Month – LHP Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies

Rockies’ veteran southpaw Jorge De La Rosa (35-years-old in his 13th MLB season) came into June with a 1-4 record and a 10.52 earned run average – and then turned things around big time.  In five appearances, three starts, De La Rosa went 4-0, with a 1.96 ERA – and four of those outings were in hitter-friendly Colorado.

AL Player of the Month – Jose Altuve, 2B,  Astros

It was tempting to go with Edwin Encarnacion – who hit .308, tied for the MLB June HR lead with 11 and was one of only two players to drive in 30 or more runs for the month.  However, BBRT could not ignore Altuve’s .420 June average (highest among MLB qualifiers) and his MLB-leading 42 base hits and .492 on-base percentage.  Altuve’s June line: .420, four home runs, 15 RBI, 19 runs scored, six steals.

AL Pitcher of the Month – Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians

Salazar won all five of his June starts, putting up a 1.91 ERA and fanning 35 batters in 33 innings. On the season, he is 10-3, with a 2.22 ERA and 107 whiffs in 93 1/3 innings.

AL Team of the Month – Orioles and Indians (tie)

BBRT’s first-ever tie for team of the month goes to the Orioles (on the basis of their power bats) and the Indians (on the basis of their power arms). The Orioles went 19-9 for the month, moving into first place in the AL East. They did it with offense, setting a new MLB record for home runs in June with 56 and leading MLB in average (.300), runs scored (185), hits (294); doubles (58); HR’s (56); and  total bases (520). Among the key June surge contributors: CF Adam Jones (.314-11-27); 1B Chris Davis (.284-9-24); and RF Mark Trumbo (.281-8-23).

The Indians actually outperformed the Orioles, going 22-6 (the best June record in MLB) and ended the month on a 13-game winning streak – behind a pitching staff that led MLB (in June) in ERA (2.42); complete games (four – no other team had more than one); shutouts (four); and batting average against (.213). Among the key contributors: Danny Salazar (5-0, 1.91 in June); Trevor Bauer (3-0, 2.01); Corey Kluber (4-1, 2.19); closer Cody Allen (1 win, six saves, 2.38).

NL Team of the Month – Giants

The Giants led the NL in wins (17-10) and did it with a balanced approach – giving up the fifth-fewest runs in the NL and scoring the third most (while also recording the NL’s highest June team batting average at .277). Among the team’s leading June performers: 1B Brandon Belt (.320-5-17); C Buster Posey (.319-2-15); SS Brandon Crawford (.315-1-23); P Johnny Cueto (3-0, 2.67); P Madison Bumgarner (3-2, 2.34).

Now, Let’s take a look at some unique events from June – and then (for those inclined to continue) go on to look at the month’s statistical leaders and losers.

I Remember this from Little League – But It Worked in the Show

On June 28, as the Cubs topped the Reds 7-2 in 15 innings, Cubbies’ manager Joe Maddon pulled out all the stops (or “Strops”) using six left fielders, including three called in from the bullpen.

All 24 position players (both teams) got into the game, and Maddon even used a trio of pitchers in left field. Reliever Spencer Patton started the 14th inning (scored tied 2-2) on the mound, retiring Reds’ SS Brandon Phillips on a fly out to center.  Then Maddon moved Patton to left field (in place of Chris Coghlan) and brought reliever Travis Wood to the mound to face Reds’ RF Jay Bruce. Wood retired Bruce on a grounder to first base. Maddon then pulled another switch – a one-for-one – with Patton coming back to the mound and Wood going to left field. Patton retired jhot-hitting Reds’ LF Adam Duvall on a grounder to second.  The Cubs scored five runs in the top of the fifteenth – and, as part of the rally, pitcher Jason Hammel had pinch hit for pitcher Spencer Patton. So, to start the inning, Wood moved back to the mound and reliever Pedro Strop came in to play left field in place of pinch hitter Hammel. (Patton, but the way, got the win.)

Lots of Offense – Even at “Pitcher Perfect Petco”

Petco Park photo

Petco Park – Site of a baseball hurricane. Photo by SD Dirk

The Mariners and the Padres faced off early in the month at San Diego’s notoriously “pitcher friendly” Petco Park – and seemingly set the tone for an offense-dominated month of June across MLB. The Padres started the month off with a 14-6 win over the Mariners. On the second day of the month, the outburst continued, as Seattle came back from a 12-2 deficit after five innings, to pound their way to a 16-13 win. The comeback from a ten-run deficit was the largest comeback in Mariners’ history – and the ten-run lead was the largest lead ever coughed up by the Padres. BBRT Note: The June 2 game was the highest-scoring contest (29 total runs) ever at Petco Park. 

Long Gone

The Orioles smashed 56 home runs in June, setting a new June record for round trippers.  (The 1996 Oakland A’s had 55 June homers).

BBRT Note:  The record for home runs in any single month is 58: Orioles – May 1987; Mariners – May 1999.

White Sox Blast Their Way Into the Loss Column

On June 25, the White Sox tied an MLB record by hitting seven home runs IN A LOSS. Despite out-homering the Blue Jays 7-1, the ChiSox dropped the game by a 10-8 score.  All of the White Sox home runs were solo shots and, despite the outburst, the Sox never had the lead.

Rockies Blast Their Way Into the Win Column

On June 20, the Rockies topped the Marlins 5-3 in Miami, not an unusual outcome.  However, the fact that all eight runs scored on solo home runs made MLB history. It marked the highest score of any game in which every run scored on a solo homer – literally crushing the previous record of five (Mariners 3 -Angels 2; May 4, 2015).

Keeping It Clean

The Miami Marlin’s went a record (since 1913) 28 consecutive games without committing an infield error – the team’s first and only June infield error came on the last day of the month. The streak, which began on May 30, ended on June 30, with an error by third baseman Martin Prado.

Top Ten List. A Ticket to the Hall?

Albert Pujols photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Angels’ DH Albert Pujols moved one notch closer to MLB’s top-ten career home run list on June 25, when he hit his 14th home run of the season and the 574th of his career.  The blast moved him past Harmon Killebrew into 11th place all time.  Next target?  Mark McGwire at 583.  Pujols next homer will put him on another list.  It will make him just the fifth player to hit at least 15 round trippers in each of his first 16 seasons.  The others are: Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Barry Bonds. All but Bonds are in the Hall of Fame.

First Cycle of 2015

On June 15, Braves’ 1B Freddie Freeman notched the first cycle (single, double, triple, homer in a game) of 2016 – although he had to work overtime (13-innings) to get it. For more on Freeman’s cycle, click here.

Touch ‘Em All,  Miggy

When the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera homered against Miami’s Adam Conley in the fifth inning of the Tigers’ June 28 7-5 victory, it not only gave Detroit the lead – it completed Cabrera’s dance card, giving him a home run against all 30 MLB teams.

Keeping Control of Yourself

In the seventh inning of the Angels 4-3 win over the Indians on June 11, Indians’ DH Carlos Santana drew a four-pitch walk from Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker. No big deal, right? Not so fast.  It was Shoemaker’s first walk since May 13 – a period during which he pitched 39 2/3 walk-free innings, faced 155 batters and notched 49 strikeouts.  That total of 49 whiffs between free passes ties Pedro Martinez for the third-longest in MLB history (one and two go to Curt Schilling and Greg Maddux at 56 and 53, respectively).

Youth Will Be Served

On June 27, 24-year-old Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant lit up the Great American Ball Park, going five-for-five with three home runs and two doubles as the Cubs prevailed over a stubborn Reds’ squad by a score of 11-8. In the process, Bryant set a new Cubs’ record for total bases in a game and became just the second player in Cubs’ history to collect five extra base hits in a game (George Gore notched three doubles and two triples back in 1885).  A few notes:

  • Each of Bryant’s home runs exceeded 400-feet (410-444-403).
  • Bryant’s game helped break a 13-game slump in which he had hit just .167. The five-hit day raised his season average from .265 to .278.
  • Bryant played three positions in the contest (3B/RF/LF)
  • The HR’s brought Bryant’s season total to 21.
  • Bryant had four runs scored and six RBI for the game.

Age Will Be Served

Forty-year-old Boston DH David Ortiz continued to celebrate his “farewell tour” around MLB.  In June, Big Papi hit .337, with four home runs and 16 RBI. Another old-timer, 39-year-old Yankee RF Carlos Beltran did even better. In 82 June at bats, Beltran hit .366, with 7 homers and 22 RBI.

More Why I Hate the DH

On June 30, with the Giants playing at Oakland, SF manager Bruce Bochy opted to not use the DH – instead batting pitcher Madison Bumgarner in the number nine spot (the first time a team had voluntarily declined to use the DH since 1976). In his first at bat – leading off the Giants’ third – Bumgarner laced a double (he ended the night one-for-four in 12-6 Giants’ win).

_____________________________________________________

Now let’s look at the team and individual stats, first for the month of June and then year-to-date.

— TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

BATTING AVERAGE

AL

Orioles – .300; Tigers – .288; Royals – .284

NL

Giants – .277; Nationals – .276; Padres – .275

The other side of the coin:

The Pirates hit an MLB low .230 for the month, while the Rays’ .250 average was the lowest in the AL.  The six lowest June averages belong to NL teams.

RUNS

AL

Orioles – 185; Blue Jays – 158; Tigers – 154

NL

Rockies – 155; Nationals – 149; Padres – 145; Giants – 145

The other side of the coin:

The Met tallied the fewest runs in June with 86 (only the Mets and Brewers scored less than 100), while the Royals’ 108 was the lowest AL total.

HOME RUNS

AL

Orioles – 56; Blue Jays – 47; Rangers – 45

NL

Cubs – 46; Rockies – 39; Nationals – 38

The other side of the coin:

Atlanta hit the fewest June round trippers with 18. The Royals were at the bottom of the AL with 25.

STOLEN BASES

AL

Indians – 26; Astros – 21;  Twins – 18

NL

Reds – 29; Padres – 27; Brewers -23

The other side of the coin:

Nobody stole fewer bags than the Cardinals in June – just three steals in ten attempts. The Orioles, Rays and Mets were close, with just four steals each.

— TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

ERA

AL

Indians – 2.42; Astros – 3.11; Rangers – 4.04

NL

Cubs – 3.12; Cardinals – 3.46; Dodgers – 3.60

The other side of the coin:

The Twins’ 5.50 ERA was June’s worst, followed by the  Phillies 5.34.

STRIKEOUTS

AL

Mariners – 248; Rays – 248; Yankees – 245

NL

Nationals – 273; Dodgers – 261; Cubs – 251

The other side of the coin:

The Rangers logged the fewest strikeouts in June (170), while the Cardinals had the fewest in the NL (175).

Royals’ pitchers gave up an MLB-worst 51 home runs in June, while the Cardinals allowed only 17 round trippers.

FEWEST FREE PASSES

AL

Astros – 60; Yankees – 64; Twins – 64

NL

Cardinals – 67; Nationals – 71; Giants – 73

The other side of the coin:

The White Sox gave an AL-leading 120 batters a free pass to first base, while the Reds walked an NL-worst 110.

SAVES

AL

Rangers -12; Orioles – 10; White Sox 10

NL

Brewers – 10; Mets – 10; Marlins – 9

The other side of the coin:

The D-backs led MLB with 8 blown saves in June, while the Mariners led the AL with six.

____________________________________________

Now, let’s switch to individual player stats for the month of June.

— INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

BATTING AVERAGE – minimum 75 plate appearances

AL

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros – .420; Kendry Morales, DH, Royals – .402; Manny Machado, SS, Orioles – .370

NL

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs – .378; Ichiro Suzuki, CF, Marlins – .368; Carlos Gonzalez, RF, Rockies – .364

The other side of the coin:

MLB’s  lowest averages in June (75 or more plate appearances) go to Twins’ DH/1B Byung Ho Park (.136)  in the AL and Phillies’ SS Freddy Galvis (.178) in the NL. Others hitting under the Mendoza line (less than .200) for the month: White Sox 3B Todd Frazier (.167); A’s CF Billy Burns (194); Nationals’ 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.188); Pirates’ 1B John Jaso (19’7); Pirates’ 2B Josh Harrison (.198).

HOME RUNS

AL

Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 11; Adam Jones, CF, Orioles – 11; Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners – 10

NL

Wil Myers, 1B, Padres – 11; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 11; three with nine

RBI

AL

Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 30; Adam Jones, CF, Orioles – 27; Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles – 24

NL

Wil Myers, 1B, Padres – 33; Carlos Gonzalez, RF, Rockies – 29; Jake Lamb, 3B, D-backs – 27

RUNS

AL

Adam Jones, CF, Orioles – 30; Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 29; two with 26

NL

Wil Myers, 1B, Padres – 25; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 25; Charlie Blackmon, CF, Rockies – 24;

STOLEN BASES

AL

Raja Davis, CF, Indians – 10;  Eduardo Nunez, SS, Twins – 9; three with six

NL

Billy Hamilton, CF, Reds – 9; Melvin Upton, Jr., LF, Padres – 8; Ben Revere, CF, Nationals – 8

WALKS

AL

Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 23; Robbie Grossman, LF, Twins -23; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays – 22

NL

Joey Votto, 1B, Reds – 24; Matt Carpenter, 3B. Cardinals – 23; two with 1

The other side of the coin:

No one fanned more often in June than White Sox’ 3B Todd Frazier (38 times). In the NL, the whiff leader for the month was Braves’ 1B Freddie Freeman (34).

— INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

ERA – minimum 30 innings

AL

Cole Hamels, Rangers – 1.51 (six starts); Steven Wright, Red Sox – 1.62 (five starts)

Danny Salazar, Indians – 1.91 (five starts)

NL

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals – 1.31 (five starts); Jon Lester, Cubs – 1.41 (six starts);

Zack Greinke, D-backs – 1.63 (six starts)

The other side of the coin:

Among pitchers with at least four games started, the Rockies’ Eddie Butler had the highest ERA – 11.22.  In the AL, that distinction went to the White Sox’ James Sheilds (11.07). 

WINS

AL

Danny Salazar, Indians – 5-0, 1.91; seven with four wins (Cole Hamels, Rangers; J.A. Happ, Blue Jays; Doug Fister, Astros; Chris Sale, White Sox; Corey Kluber, Indians; Martin Perez, Rangers; Aaron Sanchez Blue Jays

NL

Zack Grienke, D-backs – 4-0, 1.63; Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies – 4-0, 1.96; Jon Lester, Cubs – 4-0, 1.41; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 4-1, 2.36; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 4-1, 1.96

The other side of the coin:

The Rays’ Chris Archer started six games in June and led all MLB hurlers in losses (1-5, 4.97). 

Work Horses

Jon Lester of the Cubs and Trevor Bauer of the Indians led their league’s in innings pitched for June – both at 44 2/3.  No one topped Corey Kluber’s (Indians) two complete games in the month, and five hurlers threw a complete game shutout: Kluber; Jered Weaver, Angels; Carlos Carrasco, Indians; Zack Greinke, D-backs; Julio Teheran, Braves.

STRIKEOUTS

AL

Micheal Pineda, Yankees – 49 (36 innings pitched); Chris Archer, Rays – 45 (38 IP); Danny Duffy, Royals – 45 (36 innings pitched); Matt Shoemaker, Angels – 45 (42 IP)

NL

Max Scherzer, Nationals – 58 (41 1/3 innings pitched);  Jon Lester, Cubs – 44 (44 2/3 IP)

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 44 (33 2/3 IP)

SAVES

AL

Sam Dyson, Rangers – 10;  Zach Britton, Baltimore – 9; three with 8

NL

Juerys Familia, Mets – 10; Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers – 9; two with 8

Losing Control

No one issued more free passes in June than the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano (20 walks in 24 1/3 innings), which contributed to his 0-4, 7.03 record for the month. Over in the AL, Seattle’s Nate Karns walked a league leading 18 batters (25 1/3 innings) on the way to a 1-1, 6.75 June.

________________________________________

Now, a look at team leaders season-to-date (through June 30).

 — TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH JUNE —

ERA

AL

Indians – 3.42; Mariners – 3.89; Astros – 3.91

NL

Cubs – 2.86; Nationals – 3.33; Mets – 3.35

The other side of the coin:

Only three teams have recorded earned run averages over 5.00 through June, led (and not in a good way) by the Reds (5.52) and Twins (5.18).  The other, as might be expected, was the mile-high Rockies at 5.13.

STRIKEOUTS

NL

Nationals – 765; Dodgers – 744;  Cubs – 695

AL

Yankees – 689; Mariners – 678; Red Sox – 677

The other side of coin:

The Rangers’ and Pirates’ staffs  have fanned the fewest hitters at  530 and 559, respectively.

The Giants, despite playing in the NL, lead MLB in complete games with six – while the Phillies, despite only one complete game, lead MLB in shutouts with 9.

COMPLETE GAMES

AL

Indians – 5; Red Sox – 4; White Sox – 3

NL

Giants – 6; Cubs – 3; Dodgers 3

Ten of the thirty MLB teams have yet to record a complete game in 2016.

 FEWEST FREE PASSES

AL

Yankees – 179; Astros – 208; Twins – 211

NL

Mets – 197; Giants – 208; Nationals – 217

The other side of the coin:

The Reds lead all of baseball with 349 walks.  The AL leader is the White Sox with 276. (The top five teams in free passes are NL squads.)

The Yankees’ pitching staff leads the AL in strikeouts, while also allowing the fewest walks – a pitching double play.

SAVES

AL

Rangers – 30; Orioles – 27; White Sox 24

NL

Marlins – 29; Mets – 28; Brewers – 26

Throuugh June, the Mets and Yankees are the league leaders in save percentage (saves versus save opportunities): the Mets with 28 saves in 34 opportunities (82.4%); the Yankees with 23 saves in 28 opportunities (82.1%).  The Reds have the most blown saves (16 in 29 opportunities).

 — TEAM BATTING LEADERS THROUGH JUNE —

BATTING AVERAGE

AL

Red Sox – .286; Royals – .276; Orioles – .272

NL

Rockies – .276; Marlins – .271; D-backs – .269

HOME RUNS

AL

Orioles – 125; Blue Jays – 116; Mariners – 114

NL

Nationals – 107; Cardinals – 106; Cubs – 104; Rockies – 104.

The other side of the coin:

The Braves have shown the least power in MLB, with only 39 homers through June (the next lowest total is 66 by the Giants).  At the bottom of the HR race in the AL – the Royals (69).

RUNS SCORED

AL

Red Sox – 434; Orioles – 403; Rangers – 395

NL

Rockies – 418; Cubs – 415; Cardinals – 406

The other side of the coin:

Atlanta has scored the fewest runs through June at 264. The Twins are at the bottom of the AL, with 317.

STOLEN BASES

AL

Indians – 63; Astros – 63; Red Sox 51

NL 

Brewers – 67; Padres – 60; Reds – 56; D-backs – 56.

The other side of the coin:

Baltimore has the fewest steals with just 12 (in 25 attempts), the Mets trail all NL clubs with just 17 pilfered bags (32 attempts).

The Cardinals are the least efficient base stealers – with 18 steals in 33 attempts (55% success rate) – as compared to the Red Sox (51 steals in 60 attempts – 85%) at the top of the heap.

 

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BBRT will pass on individual pitching and batting leaders, since there are listed on line and in the print media daily.

Coming Soon: A review of Steven K. Wagner’s “Perfect – The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder.”

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Standings as of end of play June 30 (June record in parentheses)

AL EAST

                        W-L              Pct.    GB       June

Orioles             47-31           .603     …        (19-9)

Red Sox           42-36           .538     5.0       (10-16)

Blue Jays         43-38           .531     5.5       (15-12)

Yankees           39-39           .500     8.0       (15-12)

Rays                33-45           .423    14.0      (11-17)

AL CENTRAL

Indians           48-30             .615     …      (22-6)

Royals            42-36            .538     6.0      (13-14)

Tigers             41-38            .519     7.5       (17-11)

White Sox       40-39            .506     8.5       (12-14)

Twins              25-53            .321     23.0     (10-17)

AL WEST

Rangers          51-29           .638     …        (20-8)

Astros             42-37           .532     8.5       (18-8)

Mariners          40-39           .506     10.5      (10-18)

A’s                  35-44            .443     15.5     (11-15)

Angels            32-47            .405     18.5     (8-19)

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NL EAST

Nationals         48-32           .600     …         (16-11)

Mets               41-37            .526     6.0       (12-15)

Marlins            41-38            .519     6.5       (14-13)

Phillies            35-45            .438     13.0     (9-19)

Braves            27-52            .342     20.5     (12-16)

NL CENTRAL

Cubs               51-27           .654     …        (16-12)

Cardinals         40-38           .519     11.0     (12-13)

Pirates            38-41            .481     13.5     (9-19)

Brewers           35-43            .449     16.0     (12-14)

Reds                29-51           .363     23.0     (12-16)

NL WEST

Giants            50-31            .617     …        (17-10)

Dodgers          44-37            .543     6.0       (16-12)

Rockies           37-41           .474     11.5      (13-14)

D-backs           36-45           .444     14.0      (13-14)

Padres             33-46           .418     16.0      (13-13)

19 Innings, 19 Pitchers – How the Game has Changed

baseball photo

Photo by theseanster93

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians won their 14th straight game in spectacular fashion – 2-1 over the Blue Jays in 19 innings (on a Carlos Santana home run). The contest took six hours and 13 minutes and the two teams sent 19 pitchers (well, there were a couple of position players in that mix) to the mound.

All of that brought to mind just HOW MUCH THE GAME HAS CHANGED … and the fact that, back on May 1, 1920, Boston (NL) and Brooklyn  played 26 innings to a 1-1 tie (called on account of darkness) … and BOTH STARTERS WENT THE DISTANCE.

 

May 1, 1920

Brooklyn              000 010 000 000 000 000 000 000 00           1   9   2

Boston                  000 001 000 000 000 000 000 000 00           1 15  2

Starting pitchers Leon Cadore of Brooklyn and Joe Oeschger of Boston (NL) 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 7; while Oeschger allowed only nine hit 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.

For BBRT’s look at what has happened to the complete game in MLB, click here. 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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