Combined No-Hitters – Some Unique Moments

Cole Hamels - started MLB's most recent combined no-hitter.

Cole Hamels – started MLB’s most recent combined no-hitter.

On September 1, the Phillies used four pitchers to no-hit the Braves 7-0 in Atlanta.  It was the fourth no-hitter of the season, 2014’s first combined no-hitter and the eleventh combined no-hitter in MLB history. The pitchers involved were Cole Hamels, who started and went six innings (issuing five walks versus seven strikeouts); Jake Diekman (one inning, two strikeouts); Ken Giles (one inning, three strikeouts); and Jonathan Papelbon (one inning, no strikeouts).  The news of the combined no-hitter gave BBRT cause to reflect on past no-hitters involving more than one pitcher.  Here’s a look at those games and what made some of them unique.

The first-ever combine no-hitter took place on June 23, 1917 – with the Red Sox topping the Senators 4-0 in Boston. This game is special for several reasons: it was the first MLB combined no-hitter; Babe Ruth was involved;  it involved the most meager contribution by the starting pitcher (zero innings pitched); and, finally, it is arguably the most “perfect” combined no-hitter ever.

Babe Ruth, at that time plying his trade as a left-handed starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, opened the game by walking Washington’s lead-off hitter Roy Morgan.  Ruth, and his catcher Pinch Thomas, took issue with umpire Brick Owens’ strike zone and, during the argument, Ruth made contact with the umpire (a glancing blow, it was reported).  The ultimate result of the confrontation was the ejection of both Ruth and Thomas (with Ruth earning a $100 fine and ten-game suspension).  Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore was called in to replace Ruth and Slam Agnew to take Thomas’ spot behind the plate (Pinch Thomas replacing Slam Agnew – weren’t those old nicknames great?).  Morgan decided to test Agnew’s arm and was thrown out stealing, after which Shore retired the next 26 hitters in order – completing the first combined no-hitter and facing the minimum 27 batters.

Given the past propensity for pitchers finishing what they started, MLB’s second combined no-hitter came 50 seasons and 70 no-hitters later – on April 30, 1967, with the Tigers defeating the Orioles 2-1 in Baltimore.  This combined no-hitter is unique because it was not a “no- no” (no hits – no runs), the team that threw the no-hitter lost (the only combined no-hitter loss) and it involved the briefest contribution by the relief staff (one pitcher/one-third inning pitched).

Orioles’ starter Steve Barber and was effectively wild, walking ten hitters and hitting two in 8 2/3 innings. The opposing hurler was Detroit’s Earl Wilson – who matched goose eggs with Barber for seven innings. In the eighth, Baltimore pushed across a run on three walks and a sacrifice fly (Wilson gave up only two hits and four walks in his eight innings of work) and victory was there if Barber could take it. He didn’t.  Barber walked Tiger 1B Norm Cash to start the ninth. He then walked SS Ray Oyler. Earl Wilson, a good-hitting pitcher, bunted the runners to second and third, before Barber got the second out of the inning, inducing PH Willie Horton to pop up to the catcher.  Now, just one out away from a 1-0, no-hit win, Barber uncorked a wild pitch that brought the tying run home. He then walked CF Mickey Stanley, ending his day on the mound. Stu Miller came in to get the final out, but not until an error allowed the go-ahead run to score.

Combined no-hitter number three came on September 28, 1975, with the A’s topping the Angels 5-0 in Oakland.  This game was unique in that it is one of only three no-hitters thrown on the final day of an MLB season – and it made starting pitcher Vida Blue the first hurler to take part in both a solo and combined no-hitter. (Blue had thrown a solo no-hitter on September 21, 1970.) Blue went five innings and was followed by Glenn Abbott (one inning), Paul Lindblad (one inning) and Rollie Fingers (2 innings). This was also the first time more than two pitchers were involved in a combined no-hitter.  Note: Blue has been joined by Kevin Millwood, Kent Mercker and Mike Witt as pitchers with both solo and combined no-hitters.)

The next combined no-hitter went back to the two-pitcher formula, as Blue Moon Odom (5 innings) and Francisco Barrios (4 innings) of the White Sox topped the A’s 2-1 in Oakland.  In the July 28, 1976 game, Blue walked five and gave up one run in his five frames, and Barrios added two walks in his four.

Combined no-hitter number-five came on April 11, 1990 (again just two pitchers), with the Angels topping the Mariners 1-0 in Anaheim.  Mark Langston started the game and went seven, and Mike Witt (the only pitcher to throw a perfect game – September 30, 1984 – and take part in a combined no-hitter ) threw the final two.

1991 saw seven MLB no-hitters including two combined no-nos. On July 13, the Orioles no-hit the A’s 2-0 in Oakland behind Bob Milacki (five innings), Mike Flanagan (one IP), Mark Williamson (one IP) and Gregg Olson (one IP). Then, on September 11, the Braves no-hit the Padres 1-0 in Atlanta, led by Kent Mercker (six innings), Mark Wohlers (two innings) and Alejandro Pena (one inning).

Combined no-hitter number eight came on July 12, 1997 – with the Pirates topping the Astros 3-0 in Pittsburgh.  It was unique in that it was the only extra-inning combined “no-no.” Francisco Cordova started and went nine hitless frames (two walks, ten whiffs) and Ricardo Rincon threw one hitless inning in relief (for the win).

The next combined no hitter was a record breaker – as the Astros used a record six pitchers (since tied) to no-hit the Yankees 8-0 in an inter-league game at Yankee Stadium (the last no-hitter at Old Yankee Stadium). Roy Oswalt started, but succumbed to a groin injury after just one completed inning. Joining in the no-hitter were: Pete Munro (2 2/3 IP); Kirk Saarlos (1 1/3 IP); Brad Lidge (2 IP); Octavio Dotel (1 IP); and Billy Wagner (1 IP). Notably, the no-hitter also broke up the Yankee’s record streak of 6,980 games without being held hitless. They had not been held without a safety since September 20, 1958.

The very next combined no-hitter – another interleague game – saw the six-pitcher record tied, as the Mariners topped the Dodgers 1-0 in Seattle. Kevin Millwood started that one (six innings), followed by Charlie Furbush (2/3 IP), Stephen Pryor (1/3 IP), Lucas Luetge (1/3 IP), Brandon League (2/3 IP) and TomWilhemson (one IP).

And that bring us up to the Phillies’ four-hurler, Labor Day 2014 gem.


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Longest Winning Streak – 29 Games to Celebrate Independence

Cooperstown - home to 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers memorabilia.

Cooperstown – home to 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers memorabilia.

When the Single A (Rookie) Pioneer League Salt Lake City Trappers topped the Pocatello Giants 12-6 on June 25, 1987, no one – including the Trappers themselves – could have predicted it would be more than a month before they would taste defeat.  The Trappers would, in fact, go on to win a total of 29 consecutive games – in a winning streak that ran from June 25 through July 26 and remains the longest unbeaten streak in professional baseball.

The Trappers – an independent team in a rookie league that featured teams affiliated with the Reds, Dodgers, Brewers, Blue Jays, Braves and Giants – were made up of players who went undrafted or unsigned by baseball’s major league franchises.  Despite the fact that major league franchises had the inside track on signing the best players (deeper pockets, advanced scouting, more opportunity) and in spite of the support from their major league parent clubs enjoyed by most of the Trappers’ competition, the Salt Lake City team enjoyed considerable  success and, in 1987,  were on their way to a third consecutive Pioneer League championship.

The team stocked its roster through relatively open tryouts, but there seemed to be an emphasis on former college players who felt they had something to prove to the MLB franchises that had “rejected” them in the draft or during the signing period.  (Some argued that the Trappers, despite going unsigned, were older and more experienced than many of their developing competitors.  However, the team’s average age was only about eight months older than the overall Pioneer League average.) While 13 members of the 1987 Trappers’ squad eventually signed with major league organizations, none made it to the major leagues.

During the 29-game winning streak, the Trappers outscored the opposition 255-122.  The streak included 15 road and 14 home games, three extra-inning contests, four one-run victories and a doubleheader sweep.  Notably, the Trappers went on to record a 49-21 season, finish first in their division and beat the Helena Brewers in the League Championship Series.

The Trappers relied on their bats to carry the day, scoring the most runs in the eight-team league (543, with their nearest rival – the Helena Brewers – trailing by 92), while giving up the fifth-most runs.  The Trappers’ .320 team batting average led the Pioneer League, while their 4.65 team ERA was fourth (the Great Falls Dodgers had the league’s lowest ERA at 3.48).

Here’s a bit of background on some of the 1987 Trappers’ key players:

Adam Casillas (OF) … Casillas played in 60 of the Trappers’ 70 games in 1987, putting up a .385-1-44 (avg.-HR-RBI) line. Signed by Reds after playing with the Trappers (also later played in Royals’ system and the Mexican League), Casillas had the longest professional career among the 1987 Trappers. In nine minor league seasons, he got as high as AAA. He hit over .300 in five seasons, including .307 for the AAA Omaha Royals (89 games) in 1992.  Notably, his minor-league resume includes three batting titles:  1989, Midwest League – .327 for the Cedar Rapids Reds; 1990, Southern League – .336 for the Chattanooga Lookouts; 1994, Mexican League – .367 for Monterrey Industriales.  In 4,109 minor league at bats, Casillas struck out only 190 times.

Frank Colston (1B) … Hit .397-1-46 in 52 games for the 1987 Trappers. Signed by the Mariners, Colston lasted two seasons, never playing above Class A. He hit .209 in 67 games for the Wausau Timbers (Mariners’ affiliate) in the Midwest League in 1988. He finished his pro playing career in 1989 with the unaffiliated Miami Miracle.  Colston played college ball (1985-86) for Louisiana Tech, where he was an All Southland Conference player both seasons and was later selected to the 1980’s Southland Conference All Decade Team.  He went .352-20-98 in 105 games for Louisiana Tech.

Jim Ferguson (SS) … Hit .327-3-40, while holding down SS position in 65 games for the 1987 Trappers. Ferguson then signed with the Cardinals, where he reached High A, hitting .251, with one homer and 30 RBIs in 126 games (1989) for A-Level Savannah Cardinals. His  last professional season was 1990.  Ferguson was an All New England player for University of New Haven (1983-86).

Eddie Citronelli (OF-C) … Citronelli hit .303-10-57 in 67 games for 1987 Trappers, in what was his only professional season.

Mike Malinak (OF) … Malinak played 69 games for the 1987 Trappers, hitting .321-12-57 (the 12 home runs led the league). Signed by the Reds, Malinak hit .232-17-66 in two seasons in their system, both for the Class A Cedar Rapids Reds (Midwest League).His last pro season was 1989.  Before joining the Trappers, Malinak had been a star for Baylor University and his career record for hits was broken in 1996.

Mathis Huff (OF) … Huff hit a Pioneer League-leading .417 (48 games) for the 1987 Trappers, with 7 home runs and 37 RBI. The six-foot-seven, Samoan-born Huff played one more season – for the unaffiliated Miami Miracle (A level), hitting .239-4-31.

Kent Hetrick (RHP) … Hetrick went 9-2, 4.84 for 1987 Trappers (26 walks/63 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings). Signed by the Reds, Hetrick played two seasons in their system, getting as high as the AA El Paso Diablos of the Texas League.   Hetrick went 11-14, 3.71 in those two seasons in the Reds’ system.

Tim Peters (RHP) … Reliever Peters appeared in 38 of the 1987 Trappers’ 70 games, going 9-3, 2.10 with 11 saves (29 walks/83 strikeouts in 87 innings). Signed by the Expos (also played in Indians’ system), Peters went 11-9, 2.15 with 37 saves in three seasons with MLB affiliates.  1990 was his final professional season.

Michael Humphrey (RHP) … In 1987, went 5-2, 3.29 for the Trappers (after a 5-3, 4.17, Trapper season in 1986).  1987 was his last pro season. Humphrey played his college ball at Indiana University, leading the team in victories (10) in 1985 and still holding the IU career record for complete games (22 …1982-85).

While the players from the 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers may not have made it all the way to the show, they did make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame – which includes memorabilia from that 1987 29-game winning streak.


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30-30 Club … Bobby and Barry “Bonding” at the Top

With approximately 30 games left in the 2014 season (give or take a game or two depending on the team), it appears 2014 will not see any new members of the 30-30 (HRs-SBs) Club.  At this point, the player with the best chance at 30-30 is the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez (.286, with 21 home runs and 28 steals). Only one other player is even at the 20-20 mark – Twins’ second baseman Brian Dozier (.236, with 20 homers and 20 steals).  MLB’s last 30-30 seasons were achieved in 2012 by Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun and Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout.

Here are few facts about the 30-30 club.

Bobby Bonds notched an MLB-record five 30-30 seasons - matched only by his son Barry.

Bobby Bonds notched an MLB-record five 30-30 seasons – matched only by his son Barry.

In MLB history, there have been sixty 30-30 seasons – achieved by 38 players (13 players have recorded multiple 30-30 seasons).  Of those 38 Club members, 26 have been outfielders, four have been shortstops, three second baseman, three third baseman, two first baseman and zero catchers.  This count is not precise, as Alfonso Soriano is counted among the second baseman, although he achieved 30-30 as both a second baseman (three times) and as an outfielder (once). In addition, Joe Carter is listed among first baseman – having played the majority of his 1987 30-30 season at that position (84 games), while also logging 62 games in the outfield.

The 30-30 Club includes 26 right-handed hitters, eight who hit from the left side and four switch hitters.  

Saint Louis Browns’ left-handed hitting outfielder Ken Williams became the first-ever member of the 30-30 Club in 1922 (at age 32, in his seventh MLB season), when he hit .332 with 39 home runs and 37 steals – while also leading the AL in RBI with 155 (still the most RBI ever in a 30-30 campaign). Williams struck out only 31 times that season, which remains the lowest strikeout total ever in a 30-30 season.

In 1956, New York Giants’ center fielder Willie Mays became the second member of the 30-30 Club (.296, with 36 homers and 40 steals) and the first right-handed hitter to have a 30-30 season.  Mays also became the first player to log consecutive 30-30 seasons – with a .333, 35-home run, 38-steal campaign in 1957.  The current record for consecutive 30-30 seasons is three (Barry Bonds, 1995, 1996, 1997).  Other players with two consecutive 30-30 seasons are: Ron Gant (1990, 1991), Vladimir Guerrero (2001, 2002), Alfonso Soriano (2002, 2003 and 2005, 2006) and Ryan Braun (2011, 2012).

Bobby Bonds broke into the 30-30 Club in 1969, his first full major league season (he had been called up by the Giants in late June of 1968). In 1969, Bonds put up 32 homers, 45 steals and a .259 average.  Bonds went on to set the record of five 30-30 seasons (1969, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978).  The record was later tied by his son, Barry Bonds, who notched 30-30 seasons in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Currently active, Alfonso Soriano has four 30-30 campaigns (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006).  Next on the list with three 30-30 seasons is Howard Johnson (1987, 1989 and 1991).

Bobby Bonds also achieved 30-30 seasons with more different teams than any other player: The Giants (1969 & 1973), the Yankees (1975), the Angels (1977) and the White Sox/Rangers (1978). In the process, he became the first player to log a 30-30 season in both the NL and the AL (later to be joined by his son Barry and Alfonso Soriano with that distinction), as well as the first player to log a 30-30 campaign while playing with two teams. In 2004, Carlos Beltran became the first player to log a 30-30 season while playing in both leagues (69 games with the Royals and 90 with the Astros).

In 1970, Tommy Harper recorded MLB’s sixth 30-30 season and the first by a non-outfielder (Harper played 128 games at third base, 22 at second and 13 in the outfield).

The first season to see more than one 30-30 player was 1987, when Joe Carter, Eric Davis, Howard Johnson and Daryl Strawberry all reached the milestone. Johnson and Strawberry, both with the Mets, also became the first teammates to achieve 30-30 status in the same season.  Ellis Burks and Dante Bichette of the 1996 Colorado Rockies are the only other teammates to put together 30-30 seasons in the same campaign.  Four remains the single-season high for 30-30 players, accomplished in: 1996 (Dante Bichette, Ellis Burks, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin); 1997 (Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Raul Mondesi, Larry Walker) and 2011 (Ryan Braun, Jacob Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler).

Jose Canseco - first member of the 40-40 Club.

Jose Canseco – first member of the 40-40 Club.

In 1988, Oakland A’s outfielder Jose Canseco started a new, even more exclusive, club – the 40-40 Club – when he hit .307, with 42 homers and 40 steals.  Giants’ outfielder Barry Bonds joined Canseco at 40-40 in 1996, with a .306 season, featuring 42 home runs and 40 steals. Alex Rodriguez (then handling shortstop for the Seattle Mariners) went 40-40 in 1998 (.310, with 42 homers and 46 stolen bases).  The most recent member of the 40-40 club is Alfonso Soriano (Washington Nationals, outfielder), who hit .277, with 46 home runs and 41 steals in 2006. Notably, Soriano earlier joined the 30-30 club as a second baseman (2002, 2003, 2005).  Note: In 2011, Dodgers’ outfield Matt Kemp made a run at the 40-40 club, finishing with 40 steals and 39 home runs.

In 1996, Barry Larkin become the first shortstop to log a 30-30 season, with a .298, 33-home run, 36-steal year.  (Note:  Howard Johnson, primarily a third baseman, did play 30+ games at shortstop in both his 1987 and 1989 30-30 seasons.)

Before we get to a list of 30-30 seasons, here are a few more factoids:

  •  Fewest at bats in a 30-30 season:  437 – Barry Bonds (1992)
  •  Highest average in a 30-30 season: .366 – Larry Walker (1997)
  • Lowest average in a 30-30 season: .251 – Ron Gant (1991)
  • Most HRs in a 30-30 season: 49 – Larry Walker (1997)
  • Most steals in a 30-30 season: 52 – Barry Bonds (1990)
  • Most RBI in a 30-30 season: 155 – Ken Williams (1922)
  • Fewest RBI in a 30-30 season: 67 – Hanley Ramirez (2008)
  • Most runs scored in a 30-30 season: 143 – Larry Walker (1997), Jeff Bagwell (1999)
  • Fewest runs scored in a 30-30 season: 83 – Joe Carter (1987)
  • Most strikeouts in a 30-30 season: 187 – Bobby Bonds 1969), Preston Wilson (2000)
  • Fewest strikeouts in a 30-30 season: 31 – Ken Williams (1922)


The 30–30 Club – 40-40 seasons in red

Year                 Name                                       HR       SB

1922                Ken Williams,   Browns             39        37

1956                Willie Mays, Giants                   36        40

1957                Willie Mays, Giants                   35        38

1963                Hank Aaron, Braves                 44        31

1969                Bobby Bonds, Giants               32        45

1970                Tommy Harper, Brewers          31        38

1973                Bobby Bonds, Giants               39        43

1975                Bobby Bonds, Yankees            32        30

1977                Bobby Bonds, Angels               37        41

1978                Bobby Bonds, CWS/Texas        31        43

1983                Dale Murphy, Braves                36        30

1987                Joe Carter, Indians                   32        31

1987                Eric Davis, Reds                       37        50

1987                Howard Johnson, Mets             36        32

1987                Darryl Strawberry, Mets           39        36

1988                José Canseco, A’s                    42        40

1989                Howard Johnson, Mets             36        41

1990                Barry Bonds, Pirates                 33        52

1990                Ron Gant, Braves                     32        33

1991                Ron Gant, Braves                     32        34

1991                Howard Johnson, Mets             38        30

1992                Barry Bonds, Pirates                 34        39

1993                Sammy Sosa, Cubs                  33        36

1995                Barry Bonds, Giants                 33        31

1995                Sammy Sosa, Cubs                  36        34

1996                Dante Bichette, Rockies           31        31

1996                Barry Bonds, Giants                 42        40

1996                Ellis Burks, Rockies                  40        32

1996                Barry Larkin, Reds                   33        36

1997                Jeff Bagwell, Astros                  43        31

1997                Barry Bonds, Giants                 40        37

1997                Raúl Mondesí,  Dodgers           30        32

1997                Larry Walker, Rockies              49        33

1998                Shawn Green, Blue Jays           35        35

1998                Alex Rodriguez, Mariners         42        46

1999                Jeff Bagwell, Astros                  42        30

1999                Raúl Mondesí, Dodgers            33        36

2000                Preston Wilson, Marlins            31        36

2001                Bobby Abreu, Phillies               31        36

2001                José Cruz, Jr., Blue Jays          34        32

2001                Vladimir Guerrero, Expos         34        37

2002                Vladimir Guerrero, Expos         39        40

2002                Alfonso Soriano, Yankees        39        41

2003                Alfonso Soriano, Yankees        38        35

2004                Bobby Abreu, Phillies               30        40

2004                Carlos Beltrán, KC/Hous          38        42

2005                Alfonso Soriano, Rangers         36        30

2006                Alfonso Soriano, Nationals       46        41

2007                David Wright, Mets                  30        34

2007                Jimmy Rollins, Phillies              30        41

2007                Brandon Phillips, Reds             30        32

2008                Grady Sizemore, Indians           33        38

2008                Hanley Ramírez, Marlins           33        35

2009                Ian Kinsler, Rangers                 31        30

2011                Matt Kemp, Dodgers                 39        40

2011                Ryan Braun, Brewers                33        33

2011                Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox         32        39

2011                Ian Kinsler, Rangers                 32        30

2012                Ryan Braun, Brewers                41        30

2012                Mike Trout, Angels                   30        49


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MLB’s Most Oddly “Even” Game

On this date (August 13) in 1910, major league baseball saw one of its most “oddly even” games ever.  It was part of a double header played in Brooklyn between the Superbas (Dodgers) and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The first game of the double tilt had been a close contest, with the Pirates emerging with a 13-inning, 3-2 victory.   The last half of the double header, however, would prove an even tighter contest – and the time used in completing game one’s 13 innings would come into play.

First, here is the line score of Game 2, August 13, 1910

Pittsburgh         0 1 1    0 5 1   0 0 0      8   13   2

Brooklyn           0 0 0   3 3 0   0 2 0      8   13   2

The two-hour and five-minute game ended in an 8-8 tie, called due to darkness.  As you look at the line score, you’ll notice it was pretty even.  Each team scored eight runs on 13 hits and each squad made two errors.  But, when it came to an “evenly” played game, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Each team recorded 27 putouts (that’s, of course, pretty much a given for a complete nine innings).  Each team, however, also recorded: 13 assists; three walks; five strikeouts; one hit batsman; and one passed ball.  Further, the hitters collected their 13 safeties apiece on an identical 38 at bats and were awarded an identical five RBI per team. In addition, the pitchers on each team not only gave up eight runs for the game, each set of hurlers gave up seven earned runs over the nine innings.   So, we end up with two teams with identical totals for: runs scored; earned runs; putouts, assists; errors; at bats; hits; runs batted in; walks; strikeouts; hit batsmen; and passed balls.

Pirates' right fielder John Owen "Chief" Wilson hit the only home run in, arguably, MLB's most evenly contested game. Wilson hold the MLB record for triples in a season (36 in 1912).

Pirates’ right fielder John Owen “Chief” Wilson hit the only home run in, arguably, MLB’s most evenly contested game. Wilson holds the MLB record for triples in a season (36 in 1912).

Each team also collected one double – and each started a future Hall of Famer in LF (Fred Clarke for the Pirates and Zack Wheat for the Superbas).  Pittsburgh, however, had three additional extra base hits (two triples and a home run), while Brooklyn’s only additional extra base hit was a triple. In addition, the Pirates had a second future HOFer in the lineup (Honus Wagner at SS). As an aside, Nap Rucker, the starting pitcher for Brooklyn ended his career with 134 wins and, of course, 134 losses.


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Joel Youngblood – A Tale of Two Cities MLB-Style

Joel Youngblood - two hits, two teams, two cities, two Hall of Fame pitchers - all in a day's work.

Joel Youngblood – two hits, two teams, two cities, two Hall of Fame pitchers – all in a day’s work.

On this day (August 4) in 1982, outfielder Joel Youngblood made MLB history by becoming the only player to collect a base hit for two different major league teams in two different cities – on the same day.

He started the day with the Mets, playing an afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Youngblood opened the game in center field, batting third in the order.  After striking out in the first inning, Youngblood drove in two runs with a single in the top of the third.

Youngblood was then replaced in centerfield by Mookie Wilson in the bottom of the fourth – told by Mets’ manager George Bamberger that he had been traded to the Expos (for a player to be named later), who were scheduled to play in Philadelphia in Philadelphia that night.  Youngblood set off for Philadelphia, where the Expos were playing that night.

Youngblood immediately set out to join his own team – catching a 6:05 flight to Philadelphia – eventually arriving at Veterans Stadium with the game in progress. To his surprise, there was an Expos uniform, with his name already sewn on the back, waiting for him.  And, the Expos wasted no time getting there newest player into the game. Manager Jim Fanning sent Youngblood into right field and the number-two spot in the batting order (replacing Jerry White) in the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, Youngblood singled in his first Expos’ at bat.

Two hits, for two different teams in two different cities in one day – an historic accomplishment.  Youngblood’s day was even more amazing when you consider the pitchers he touched for his two safeties. In Chicago, it was future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, while in Philadelphia, it was future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

Youngblood, by the way, was a true utility player, manning every position except pitcher over his 14-season MLB career (right field – 455 games; left field – 237; third base – 218, second base – 173; center field 107; first base – 7; shortstop – 3, catcher – 1). In 1,408 games, he hit .265, with 80 home runs, 422 RBI and 60 stolen bases.  He made one All Star team (in an injury-plagued and strike-shortened 1981 season, when he hit .350 in 43 games for the Mets).  He best season was 1983, when he hit .292, with 17 homers and 53 RBI in 124 games (at four positions) for the San Francisco Giants.)

Coming soon, the monthly BBRT MLB review for July.  (Been a little busy here.)

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One final note, for BBRT’s Minnesota followers; Current Twins manager Ron Gardenhire played in the August 4 game for the Mets – coming in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning – after Youngblood head already “left the building.”

Ed Linke – Getting a Head Start on his Best Season

April 15, 2006: BaseballWhen Ed “Babe” Linke took the mound for the Washington Senators on this day (July 26) in 1935, he had no idea he was soon to start a unique double play – with his head.  In the bottom of the second, with one out, Yankee lead-off hitter and left fielder Jesse Hill smashed a line drive off Linke’s forehead.  The ball hit the right-handed hurler with such force it ricocheted back to Senators’ catcher Jack Redmond, who caught it on the fly and fired to Senators’ shortstop Red Kress, catching a surprised Ben Chapman (Yankee center fielder) off the bag for a 1-2-6 double play – completed as Linke lay semi-conscious on the mound.  Linke was carried off the field on a stretcher and spent two days in the hospital before returning to the Senators – to begin the most successful pitching streak of his six-year MLB career.

At the time of the beaning – including that game – Linke’s record on the season was 3-6, with a 7.52 ERA. (He would complete his MLB career at 22-22, 5.61.) However, for the remainder of 1935, after being felled by the Hill liner, Linke went 8-1, 3.03 in 11 starts and three relief appearances.  During that time, he also threw seven of his 13 career complete games – including a ten-inning, two-run (one earned) performance against the Indians on August 18 and a twelve-inning, three-run (two earned) outing against the Tigers on September 11.

The 23-year-old Linke finished up the season 11-7, 5.01. (The following year he would go 1-5, 7.10; and would be out of the major leagues by age 27.) The knock on the noggin’ didn’t seem to hurt Linke’s batting eye either, Hitting .259 at the time of the injury, Linke finished the season at .294, with one home run and nine RBI.  Clearly, Linke got a head start on his best season on this date 79 years ago.


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T-Mobile All Star FunFest – My Volunteer Stint

Yesterday, I completed my first five-hour shift as a volunteer at the T-Mobile® All Star FanFest – a 400,000+ square foot “playground” for baseball fans; part of the Twin Cities All Star Game activities. Today, I can hardly wait to get back for my Monday and Tuesday shifts. Billed (accurately) as “the world’s largest interactive baseball them park, FanFest is open July 11-15 (9 a.m.-8 p.m.) at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  (Tickets: $30-$35.)

Plenty of shopping opportunities - but lots of give-aways and free activities.

Plenty of shopping opportunities – but lots of give-aways and free activities.

FanFest features more than three dozen attractions – and offers something for baseball fans of all ages.  There are numerous historic displays (National Baseball Hall of Fame, Negro Leagues, Women in Baseball, World Baseball Classic, Hometown (Minnesota) Heroes and more.  There are also plenty of interactive displays. Attendees can take part in clinics and test their skills at fielding, hitting, pitching and base-running. For more sedentary activity, there are trivia competitions and you can “picture” yourself on your own Topps baseball card or behind the MLB Network news desk (both for free). You can collect free autographs from past, current and future baseball stars (in my first hour, I garnered Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Fergie Jenkins and Louis Tiant).  Giveaways abound, ranging from souvenir baseballs to foam fingers to balloon hats. In addition, attendees can purchase official All Star Game souvenirs (MLB Clubhouse Store) and visit a host of dealers offering baseball memorabilia from all eras and baseball-related products of all kinds.

I’d like to share a little bit about my first day as a volunteer at FanFest.  I’ll also include a link at the end of this post that will take you (if you are interested) to the story of how I came to be an on-the-floor volunteer for this All Star event.

July 11 – My First Actual Work (fun) Day

With my Friday shift starting at noon, I decided to arrive at FanFest early (about 9:30) and take in some of the activities.  It was a wise choice.  Before I had even worked my first shift, I:

  • Had a great conversation with Jim “Mudcat” Grant (we discussed his excitement not only over winning game six of the 1965 World Series for the Twins, but hitting a home run in that game);
  • Collected autographs from Grant, Fergie Jenkins and  Louis Tiant;
  • Purchased a trio of pins from the Pin Man, who offers one of the most complete selections of baseball-themed pins I have ever seen – and at reasonable prices. (I collect pins from ball parks or baseball events I attend and was able to fill in a couple of pins from events I attended before I started the collection).
  • Visited displays focused on the Negro Leagues, Women in Baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Minnesota Baseball Heroes.

I also had one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever tasted  – a Kansas City Royal Dog (pulled pork at the bottom, a layer of spicy relish, an all-beef hot dog, three pickle slices – all topped with coleslaw – messy, but delicious).

My assignment was at the MLB Network booth.

My assignment was at the MLB Network booth.

Then it was off to my assignment (led there by self-announced Yankee fan and Zone Supervisor Jim Barletto).  My first duties were at the MLB Network exhibit, where fans (for free) could get a photo of themselves at the MLB Network news desk (by themselves or with the MLB Network’s Harold Baines or Twins’ Mascot TC the Bear.) My job was pretty simple, moving chairs behind the news desk (to accommodate different size groups – from one to four) and ensuring people exited on the correct side of the “set.”

Other volunteers at my attraction worked to bring people into the exhibit or help them into one of the many different-sized MLB Network blue blazers for their picture.  In my five- hour session, we had fans of all ages (from as young as eight days to more than 80 years) – but they all seem to have one thing in common, smiles.  Everyone was having fun.

The people watching was pretty good.  While the majority of attendees were sporting some type of baseball apparel (with just about every major league city represented), there were also those in suits and ties, dresses and heels, and even a Goth look or two. There were also lots a freshly painted faces – everything from butterflies to baseballs – foam fingers and balloon hats. Again, the visitors to  our activity still had plenty in common – baseball, a spirit of fun and anticipation over how their photo souvenirs would turn out.

I scored a few top-notch autographs

I scored a few top-notch autographs

After finishing my shift, I took another hour to tour the FanFest floor (you really need to devote several hours to truly take it all in.  I had a personal Topps baseball card made (free), as well as a Greetings from Minnesota photo (in an American League All Star Jersey with Target Field as the backdrop – also free).  That, by the way, is one of the great things about FanFest, once you get in, there are a host of free activities and giveaways.

As I said, I have two more shifts to work and plenty more to see, so I’m anxious to get back.

Now, if you are interested, here is a link to the story of how I came to be a FanFest volunteer.


Mike Lansing – Holds Yellow Jersey of MLB Cycles

On this date (June 18), 14 years ago, Colorado Rockies’ second baseman Mike Lansing earned the “Yellow Jersey” of MLB “cycles,” – complete the cycle in just four innings.

LansingLansing, hitting second in the order, hit an RBI triple to right in the first inning (getting the most difficult leg of the cycle out of the way), added a two-run home run in the bottom of the second, hit a two-run double in the bottom of the third (as the Rockies scored nine times to take a 14-1 lead), and then completed the cycle with a single to right in the fourth. Lansing then struck out in the sixth, before being pinch hit for in the eighth.  Lansing’s day?  Four-for-five, three runs, five RBI and MLB’s quickest-ever cycle, as the Rockies topper Arizona 19-2.

Drafted (in the sixth round of the MLB draft) out of Wichita State, where he was a 1989 All American, the  6’/175 lb. right-hander was primarily a second baseman in his nine- season major league career – although he also saw considerable time at third base and shortstop. He hit .275 with 14 home runs, 120 RBI and 90 stolen bases in three minor league seasons (193 games) before making the Montreal Expos roster in 1993.  In his rookie season, Lansing appeared in 141 games, going .287-3-45, with 23 steals.

Never an All Star, Lansing proved a valuable, reliable and versatile roster addition during his career (1993-2001 -Expos/Rockies/Red Sox) –finishing with a .271 average, 84 home runs, 440 RBI and 119 steals in 1,110 games. Lansing reached 20 home runs once (1997), topped 20 steals three times (1993-95-96), and hit 40 or more doubles twice (1996-97). Injuries took their toll late in his career and in his final two MLB seasons, he hit just .243.

In addition to his fastest-ever cycle, Lansing shares (with 54 others) the record for the most home runs in an inning (two). On May 7, 1997, Lansing hit a two-run and three-run homer in a 13-run sixth inning as the Expos topped the Giants 19-3 in San Francisco.

For the game, Lansing was four-for-five, with three runs and five RBI.

Joe Wilhoit – Greatest Comeback Ever?

WilhoitWichita Jobbers’ outfielder Joe Wilhoit’s professional baseball career truly appeared to be “down and out” when he beat out an infield single in the first inning of a game played on this date (June 14) in 1919.  Wilhoit, a former major leaguer who had appeared in the World Series just two years before, found himself playing in the low minor leagues (Class A) and struggling to hit his weight (the 6’ 2”, 175-pounder was hitting just .198 at the time).   Little did Wilhoit realize that his scratch hit would start a comeback that stretched all the way to the Boston Red Sox and the baseball record books.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let’s take a look at Joe Wilhoit’s baseball journey.

Wilhoit, a “plus” outfield defender got a late start on his professional career (after attending DePaul University), but seemed destined to make the most of it.  In 1916, at age 30, he was signed by the National League Boston Braves after hitting a combined .323 in three minor league seasons (394 games).

Note: Wilhoit did play semipro ball while at DePaul and “late start” may be a misnomer, as Wilhoit’s year of birth – listed as 1885 in the Baseball Encyclopedia – has been noted as being as late as 1891 in other sources.

On Opening Day 1916, Wilhoit found himself batting third and playing RF for the Boston Club – going 0-for-3, but driving in a run on a sacrifice fly as the Braves won 5-1 over Brooklyn. Major League pitching proved tough to handle for Wilhoit, who managed just four hits in 31 at bats in his first month in the big leagues.  He finished his rookie season hitting .230, with two homers, 28 RBI and 18 steals in 116 games.

The following year, Wilhoit truly “hit the road.”  He started the season with the Braves, hitting .274 in 54 games.  Then in late July, the Braves let him go (for the waiver price) to the Pirates, where he played in just nine games (getting two hits in 10 at bats), before moving on again (on August 5) in another waiver move, this time to the contending New York Giants.  Wilhoit seemed to finally find his stroke, finishing up the season by hitting .340 in 34 games (17-for-50) with the Giants.   He even got into two games in the World Series (as a pinch hitter) – lining into a double play in the eighth inning of game two and drawing a walk in the fifth inning of game six. In 1918, however, his struggles at the plate resurfaced and he got into just 64 games for the Giants, hitting .274, with no home runs and 15 RBI.

In 1919, the downward slide became steeper, as Wilhoit started the year with the Seattle Raniers of the Pacific Coast League, where he was hitting just .164 after 17 games. Next stop on the slide was Wichita of the Class A Western League, where (as noted earlier in this post) Joe’s hitting woes continued – until that June 14, 1919, infield single.

From that moment forward, Joe Wilhoit embarked on an unbelievable – and still unmatched – hitting streak.  From June 14 to August 19, Wilhoit hit in a professional baseball record 69 consecutive games.   During the streak, Wilhoit had 50 multi-hit games, compiled a .515 batting average (153 for 297), and collected 37 extra base hits (four home runs, nine triples and 24 doubles).  Wilhoit ultimately led the Western League in batting average at .422 – collecting 222 hits in 128 games.

The biggest mid-streak threat came in game 62 (the first game of an August 14 double header) at Omaha. Wilhoit was hitless after nine innings – and with the score tied 3-3 in the Omaha half of the ninth, the potential winning (and streak-ending) run was thrown out at the plate. Wilhoit, given new life, continued the streak in style, with a game-winning two-run home run in the 11th inning.

The streak finally ended (at 69 games) on August 19, with Wichita playing Tulsa in Wichita.  Wilhoit came to the plate four times and and recorded a strikeout, fly out and ground out, before drawing an unpopular walk in his final trip to the plate.  The home town fans reportedly gave Joe a long ovation and passed hats through the stands – collecting more than $600 for the popular outfielder (the average monthly pay in Class A at the time was around $200).

Wilhoit’s comeback earned him a return ticket  to the major leagues, where he went 6-for-18 (.333) with five walks in six games with the Boston Red Sox.  Despite the late season look, Wilhoit was back in the minors in 1920, hitting .300 at AA Toledo.  From there, it was three seasons at Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League – where he hit .339, .317 and .360, before retiring from baseball.  Wilhoit died of lung cancer in 1930.

To this day, the longest hitting streak  in baseball history belongs to a guy named Joe – and it’s not DiMaggio.

Five Home Runs In One Inning Has Hitters Seeing “Reds”

On this date (June 9) 48 years ago (1966), the Minnesota Twins became the first – and still only – American League team to hit five home runs in a single inning.  The fact that the Twins remain the only AL team to go deep five times in a single frame could be connected to the fact that the Cincinnati Reds play in the National League.  NL clubs have enjoyed a five-homer inning on four different occasions – and, in every instance, the Reds were the victims.  We’ll take a look at the historic innings in detail, but here are a few facts from the five-homer outbursts.

  • The Cincinnati Reds have been the victims of four of the five five-homer innings.
  • The home team has put on the power display four of the five times.
  • Fourteen of the 25 home runs have come with two outs.
  • Pitchers have contributed (as hitters) HRs in two of the five five-homer innings.
  • Twice the victimized team (Reds both times) has been in first place.
  • One of the five-homer innings was kept alive by three fielding errors.
  • One of the five-homer innings included two home runs by one player in the inning.
  • Two of the five power outbursts included an inside the park home run.
  • The five-homer innings have featured the scoring of 43 runs – the fewest at six, the most at 12.

Now, let’s take a closer look at those five-homer innings.



June 9, 1966 … Minnesota Twins versus Kansas City Athletics

Harmon Killibrew's second homer of the day helped Twins tie the record.

Harmon Killibrew’s second homer of the day helped Twins tie the record.

Things did not start out well for the Twins on the day of their historic power display.  With the game being played at Metropolitan Stadium (Bloomington, MN), the Athletics got off to a fast start, knocking out Twins’ ace Camilo Pascual in the top of the first. (Pascual lasted 2/3 of an inning, giving up four runs on three hits and a walk.) With Catfish Hunter on the mound, the Twins’ chances looked slim.  The Twins scored one in the fifth and two in the sixth (on a Harmon Killebrew home run) and then, trailing 4-3, broke the game open with five home runs in the seventh.

It started innocently enough with a Catfish Hunter walk to C Early Battey, followed by an infield fly out for 2B Bernie Allen. That brought pinch hitter (for the pitcher) Rich Rollins to the plate, and he hit the inning’s first homer (just the second of ten HRs Rollins would hit in 1966). Lead-off hitter SS Zoilo Versalles followed with his fifth homer of the year – and Paul Lindblad replaced Hunter on the mound. Lindblad got Twins’ LF Sandy Valdespino on a grounder to short, but then gave up consecutive round trippers to RF Tony Oliva (his 14th) and 1B Don Mincher (his 6th). That brought John Wyatt in from the bullpen and he quickly gave up a home run to 3B Harmon Killebrew (his second of the day and 11th of the year). Wyatt then gave up a double to RF Jimmie Hall and Battey reached on an error before Bernie Allen ended the inning on a ground ball (catcher to first).

The Inning’s HR Hitters:  Rich Rollins, Zoilo Versallers, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher, Harmon Killebrew 

Final Score:  Twins 9 – Athletics 4



June 6, 1939 … NY Giants versus Cincinnati Reds

Pitcher Manny Salvo  hit an inside-the-park home run in Giants five-homer inning.

Pitcher Manny Salvo hit an inside-the-park home run in Giants five-homer inning.

The first-ever five-home run MLB inning took place in New York on June 6, 1930, as the sixth-place Giants (20-24 record) surprised the league-leading Reds (29-15) by a 17-3 score, plating all 17 runs in the first five innings.

The record-setting power display came in the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Giants already up 6-0.  Peaches Davis, who had relieved Johnny Vander Meer in the first inning (Vander Meer had given up six hits and three runs in 2/3 of an inning), retired Giants’ LF Jo Jo Moore and SS Billy Jurgess to start the inning. Then the wheels came off.  C Harry Danning laced a home run to center (his sixth). Then clean-up hitter Mel Ott drew a walk, 1B Zeke Bonura singled and CF Frank Demaree hit the second home run of the inning (his second of the season).  That ended Davis’ day and brought Wesley Livengood (whose MLB career would consist of five appearances and a 9.53 ERA) to the hill. Livengood was not so good, he walked Tony Lazzeri and then gave up a home run to 2B Burgess Whitehead (the first of only two he would it in 1939).  Giants’ pitcher Manny Salvo was up next. A weak hitter (at best), Salvo surprised everyone in the ball park with the only home run of his five-season MLB career – an inside-the-park round tripper off the right field fence.  Next up was lead-off hitter Moore, who hit the fifth and final homer of the inning (and his second of the day).  And, all of this with two out. Livengood’s line for the day:  1/3 inning pitched, three hits, two walks, four earned runs (3 HRs).

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters: Harry Danning, Frank Demaree, Burgess Whitehead, Manny Salvo, Jo Jo Moore

Final Score:  Giants 17 – Reds 3


June 2, 1949… Philadelphia Phillies versus Cincinnati Reds

Andy Seminick hit two round trippers in the Phillies' five-homer inning.

Andy Seminick hit two round trippers in the Phillies’ five-homer inning.

Ten seasons passed before the next five-homer inning – and the victims were again the Reds.  This time the bashing came off the bats of the Phillies (in Philadelphia).  It started out as a close game, with the Reds actually leading 3-2 after seven innings behind a strong performance by starting pitcher Ken Raffensberger (who would win 18 games that season). Things, however, went awry in the bottom of the eighth.

CF Del Ennis (the Phillies’ clean-up hitter) led off the inning with a home run (his 7th of the season), which was followed by C Andy Seminick’s second home run of the game – marking Raffensberger’s exit. Jess Dobernic came on in relief and retired RF Stan Hollmig on a liner to short before giving up a home run to 3B Willie Jones (his third of the year). Dobrenic then induced a soft fly ball out to second base by 2B Eddie Miller, bringing up P Schoolboy Rowe, who had relieved Philadelphia starter Curt Simmons in the top of the eighth  (Stan Lopata had pinch hit for Simmons in the bottom of the seventh.) Rowe promptly rapped a home run to left (the only home run of the year for the 39-year-old veteran, in his last MLB season). Kent Petersen came on in relief of Dobernic and added fuel to the fire in this order:  walk to CF Richie Ashburn, double to SS Granny Hamner, 1B Eddie Waitkus safe on an error (Ashburn scores), an Ennis single to right (Hamner scores), and Seminick’s second home run of the inning (third of the game and seventh of the season). That was the end of the home runs, but the inning continued with the Phillies adding another run on a hit batsman and a triple.  Suddenly a 3-2 Reds lead was a 12-3 deficit.

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters; Del Ennis, Andy Seminick (2),  Willie Jones, Schoolboy Rowe

Final Score:  Phillies 12 – Reds 3


August 23, 1961 … San Francisco Giants versus Cincinnati Reds

Jim Davenport contributed a three-run inside-the-park homer to the Giants record-tying inning.

Jim Davenport contributed a three-run inside-the-park homer to the Giants record-tying inning.

Twelve seasons after five-home inning number two, it happened again – and for the third straight time, the Reds were the victims – and this time they were are home.  On August 23, 1961, another close game became a late inning route.  The Reds trailed the San Francisco Giants 2-0 after 8 innings with both starters (Juan Marichal for the Giants and Joey Jay for the Reds) still in the game.  A low-scoring game was expected, Marichal game into the contest with a 12-7 record for the third-place Giants, while Jay was 18-7 for the first-place Reds.

In the top of the ninth, however, the Giants broke the contest wide open.  1B Willie McCovey opened with a double off Jay and then scored on an error by Reds’ 2B Don Blasingame after a Willie Mays pop out. LF Orlando Cepeda and RF Felipe Alou followed with a pair of deep home runs (to center and left, respectively). It was Cepeda’s 36th of the year and Alou’s 15th.  That brought Jim Brosnan in from the bullpen – and led to a fly ball out by C John Orsino, singles to SS Jose Pagan and Marichal, 2B Joey Amalfitano reaching on an error by Reds’ third baseman Gene Freese (Pagan scoring), a three-run inside-the-park home run by 3B Jim Davenport (his 8th homer of the year) and a single to McCovey.  Next in the line of fire (relieving Brosnan) was Bill Henry, who gave up a two-run homer to Willie Mays (his 34th of the season), a single to Cepeda, and had Alou reach on Freese’s second error of the inning (and the Reds’ third miscue of the frame). Orsino then took Henry deep (just his second of the year) before Pagan struck out to mercifully end the 12-run, ninth-inning uprising.

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters:  Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Jim Davenport, Willie Mays, John Orsino

Final Score:  Giants 14 – Reds  0


April 22, 2006 … Milwaukee Brewers versus Cincinnati Reds

Prince Fielder put the frosting on the cake for the Brewers.

Prince Fielder put the frosting on the cake for the Brewers.

The Brewers were less than hospitable hosts to the Reds on April 22, 2006 – when they pounded the visitors 11-0, racking up the fourth five-homer inning against the Reds’ franchise along the way.   The outburst came in the bottom of the fourth inning with starter Brandon Claussen still on the mound and the Reds trailing 3-0.

Milwaukee 3B Bill Hall (the number-six hitter) started it with a home run (his third of the young season). Then 2B Richie Weeks singled to left, scoring on C Damian Miller’s home run (his 1st of the year). That seemed to establish a (brief) HR-1B-HR pattern, as Brewers’ pitcher Dave Bush followed the Miller home run with a single and CF Brady Clark backed up the Bush single with his first home run of 2006. SS J.J. Hardy broke the pattern with a home run (his 3rd of the year).  At this point, Claussen had faced six batters in the inning, giving up four home runs and two singles – and his day was done.  Chris Hammond came on in relief and provided just that, striking out the first two batters he faced (RF Geoff Jenkins and LF Carlos Lee).  Then Prince Fielder gave the Brewers a piece of the five-homer in one inning record, hitting his third of the year. The carnage ended on a fly out to center by Hall.

The Inning;s Home Run  Hitters: Bill Hall, Damian Miller, Brady Clark, J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder

Final Score:  Brewers 11 – Reds 0

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