First-Pitch-Ever Home Runs – A Few Fun Facts

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Yesterday, (June 19, 2016), Wilson Contreras got his first major league at bat, pinch-hitting in the sixth inning of the Cubs 10-5 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Contreras hit the first pitch from Pirates’ righty A.J. Schugel for a two-run home home run – becoming the thirtieth player in MLB history to home on the first pitch they ever saw.

BBRT would like to use Contreras’ accomplishment as an opportunity to take an updated look at those first-pitch dingers.  (A little teaser to begin with. Depending on how you count, either 23 percent or 27 percent of the members of the first-pitch-ever HR club are pitchers … one  was a pitcher, but being used as a pinch-hitter. Just another reason BBRT hates the DH.)

  • Homering on the first-ever MLB pitch has been accomplished 15 times in each league, with the feat accomplished by players from 18 of the 30 MLB franchises. Contributing to that balance is Washington D.C., which has seen the first-ever-pitch home runs accomplished by both an American Leaguer (Brant Alyea, Senators) and a National Leaguer (Tommy Malone, Nationals).
  • The Cardinals have the most first-ever-pitch home run hitters with four. The AL leader is the Blue Jays with three.
  • Of the 30 first-pitch-ever HRs, 19 were solo shots, six were two-run homers, three were three-run home runs and two were grand slams.
  • The two MLB players who have launched a Grand Slam on the first major league pitch they ever saw are Kevin Kouzmanoff for the Indians on September 2, 2006 and Daniel Nava for the Red Sox on June 12, 2010.
  • The first-ever first-pitch home run was hit on May 7, 1922, by Pirates’ RF Walter Mueller (a three-run shot). Mueller went two-for-five that day, with two runs and five RBI. He hit only two home runs in a four-year MLB career (121 games).
  • The first American Leaguer to homer on the first pitch he ever saw was Red Sox’ LHP Bill LeFevbre (June 10, 1938). While it was LeFebvre’s only MLB home run, he was a respectable hitter over his four-season MLB career (.276 average in 87 at bats). Unfortunately, on the mound, he posted a 5.03 ERA.

Gene Stechschulte – a 6’ 5”, 210-pound right-handed pitcher –  is the only MLB pitcher to homer on the first pitch he ever saw, while being used as a pinch-hitter.  Stechschulte’s homer (a two-run shot) came in the sixth inning of a Cardinals’ 17-4 loss to the Diamondbacks (April 17, 2001). It was only Stechschulte’s second professional at bat – and his second extra base hit.  He had one minor league at bat (in 204 games) collecting a double. In his MLB career, three seasons, 116 games (all in relief), Stechschulte came to bat just five times – collecting two hits (the initial home run and a single).

  • The most career home runs by a player who homered on the first MLB pitch he ever saw is 195 by Jay Bell (first-pitch HR at 2B for the Indians on September 29, 1986 – 18-season MLB career). Bell also has the mark for the most home runs hit in any subsequent season by a member of the first-pitch HR club at 38 (for the Diamondbacks in 1999).
  • The most home runs hit the season the player hit his first-pitch HR is 14 by outfielder Chris Richard (first-pitch homer for the Cardinals on July 17, 2000). Richard hit 34 home runs in five MLB seasons,with a high of 15 for the Orioles in 2001.)
  • Seven of the 29 players to hit first-pitch-ever dingers were pitchers (eight if you count pitcher Gene Stechschulte, who was being used as a pinch hitter when he accomplished the feat for the Cardinals on April 17, 2001). The other hurlers: Bill LeFebvre (Red Sox); Don Rose (Angels); Esteban Yan (Rays); Clise Dudley (Brooklyn Robins); Jim Bullinger (Cubs); Adam Wainwright (Cardinals); Tommy Milone (Nationals).
  • By the position they were playing, here is the first-pitch home run hitter count: pinch hitters (8); pitchers (7); left fielders (4); right fielders (3); first baseman (2); shortstops (2); designated hitters (2); second baseman (1); catchers (1).
  • Only two players hit a second round tripper in the same game in which they achieved their first-pitch HR. On July 23, 1964, A’s shortstop Bert Campaneris went three-for-four, with two homers, two runs and three RBI as his Kansas City Athletics topped the Twins 4-3 in eleven innings. On August 2, 2010, Blue Jays’ catcher J.P. Arencibia went four-for-five with two homers, a double, three runs and three RBI as the Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay 17-11. Arencibia is the only member of the first-pitch-ever HR club to also collect four hits in the same game.
  • Rays RHP Esteban Yan hit a long ball on the first pitch he ever saw in the big leagues (June 4, 2000). He went on to hit 1.000 for his career – although he had only two at bats in 11 seasons (a single and that initial HR).

Finally, the list:

Walter Mueller, RF, Pirates … May 7, 1922

Clise Dudley, P, Robins (Dodgers) … April 27, 1929

Eddie Morgan, PH, Cardinals … April 14, 1936

Bill LeFevbre, P, Red Sox … June 10, 1938

Clyde Vollmer, LF, Reds … May 31, 1942

George (Sam) Vico, 1B, Tigers … April 20, 1948

Chuck Tanner, PH, Braves … April 12, 1955

Bert Campaneris, SS, Athletics (KC) … July 23, 1964

Brant Alyea, PH, Senators … September 12, 1965

Don Rose, P, Angels … May 24, 1972

Al Woods, PH, Blue Jays … April 7, 1977

Jay Bell, 2B, Indians … September 29, 1986

Junior Felix, DH, Blue Jays … May 4, 1989

Jim Bullinger, P, Cubs … June 8 1992

Jay Gainer, 1B, Rockies … May 14, 1993

Esteban Yan, P, Rays … June 4, 2000

Chris Richard, LF, Cardinals … July 17, 2000

Gene Stechschulte, PH, Cardinals … April 17, 2001

Marcus Thames, RF, Yankees … June 10, 2002

Kaz Matsui, SS, Mets … April 6, 2004

Andy Phillips, PH, Yankees … September 26, 2004

Adam Wainwright, P, Cardinals … May 24, 2006

Kevin Kouzmanoff, DH, Indians …September 2, 2006

Mark Saccomanno, PH, Astros … September 8, 2008

Daniel Nava, LF, Red Sox … June 12, 2010

J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays … August 7, 2010

Tommy Milone, P, Nationals … September 3, 2011

Starling Marte, LF, Pirates … July 26, 2012

Eddie Rosario, RF, Twins … May 6, 2015

Wilson Contreras, PH, Cubs … June 19, 2016


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

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Third Annual BBRT John Paciorek Award

JPA2In 2014, BRT launched its own baseball award – The John Paciorek Award (JPA). The JPA recognizes players who have had short, maybe very short, major league careers, but whose accomplishments, nonetheless, deserve recognition.  Just as the emergence of these players on the MLB scene was often unexpected, the annual JPA is awarded on no specific timetable.  BBRT, in fact, most often uncovers these brief, but bright, stars when researching some unrelated baseball topic.

(Note: Information on John Paciorek’s career – the inspiration for the JPA – can be found at the end of this post. Paciorek’s day in the sun constitutes arguably the best one-game MLB career ever.)

 ________________ 2016 JPA Winner – John Allen Miller _______________

This year, BBRT honors John Allen Miller with the JPA – for crashing just two homers in his MLB career, but making them both historic.

John Miller (center) made his two MLB home runs historic.

John Miller (center) made his two MLB home runs historic.

John Allen Miller played parts of two seasons in the major leagues (1966 and 1969, with the Yankees and Dodgers, respectively).  An outfielder/first baseman, Miller played in a total of just 32 major league games, getting 61 at bats and just ten hits (.164 career average), two home runs and three RBI.  With that output, however, Miller earned a special place in the MLB record books.  Miller’s two round trippers came in his very first and very last MLB at bats – making him just one of two players in MLB history to homer in their first and final official appearances in a major league batter’s box. The other is Paul Gillespie – whose MLB career spanned three seasons during World War II (1942, 1944, 1945), all with the Cubs. Gillespie, a catcher, appeared in 89 games – hitting .283, with six home runs and 31 RBI; and went zero-for-six in the 1945 World Series.

Miller made his MLB debut with the Yankees on September 11, 1966. The 22-year-old was in his fifth professional season and had hit a promising .294, with 16 home runs and 59 RBI in 113 games at AA and AAA that season. Miller started that debut game (against the Red Sox at Fenway) in LF, batting seventh. In his very first big league at bat, he hit a two-out, two-run (Yankee starting CF Joe Pepitone was on base) home run off of Red Sox starter Lee Stange.  Despite the Yankees’ long heritage of home run hitters, Miller’s long ball made him the first Yankee to homer in his first MLB at bat. (Little did Miller know he would not get another home run or RBI until the final at bat of his MLB career.) Miller came to the plate four more times, notching a single and three strikeouts. Miller got in five more games in 1966, going zero-for-18.

The following April, Miller was traded (along with pitcher Jack Cullen and $25,000) to the LA Dodgers for utility infielder John Kennedy. Miller spent 1967 and 1968 at Triple A Spokane – putting up respectable numbers.  In 1969, he made it back to the big leagues, getting in 26 games (just 38 at bats) for the Dodgers. In the first 37 of those at bats, Miller collected seven hits (one double and six singles), scored twice, but did not collect an RBI.   Miller’s last at bat of the season (and what turn out to be the last at bat of his MLB career) came as a pinch hitter (September 23) in the eighth inning of a game at Cincinnati.  The Dodgers, trailing 6-2 sent Miller to the plate for pitcher Al McBean.  In that final MLB at bat, Miller stroked a solo home run off Reds’ starting pitcher Jim Merritt.  (Thus, not only did Miller homer in his first and final MLB at bats, all of his MLB RBI came in those two plate appearances as well.)

What further makes Miller’s case for the JPA is how close he came to not homering in his final at bat.   Miller almost came to the plate one more time – on September 27, as the Dodgers and Giants faced off at Dodger Stadium.  That game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eleventh inning. Southpaw Ron Bryant was on the mound for the Giants and, after getting Dodger SS Maury Wills to pop out, he gave up singles to LF Manny Mota and CF Willie Davis. Dodgers’ manager Walt Alston sent the right-handed hitting Miller up to hit for LA pitcher Jim Brewer.  Giants’ skipper Clyde King –playing the percentages – brought in veteran righty Don McMahon to pitch.  Alston countered by calling Miller back and sending up left-handed swinging Len Gabrielson (who singled in the winning tally.)  Without the switch, that final at bat home run could have become just an obscure next-to-last at bat dinger. Note: Miller did go on to play three seasons (1970-72) in Japan, hitting .249 with 72 home runs and 222 RBI in 382 games for the Chunichi Dragons.



2014 – Brian Scott Dallimore – In his first start (not his first game) for the 2004 Giants, Dallimore had two singles, a Grand Slam (his first MLB hit and only MLB home run), a walk and a hit by pitch.  For the full JPA take on Dallimore’s 27- game MLB career, click here.

2015 – Roy Gleason – Gleason played in just eight MLB games, had a double in his only MLB at bat – but also earned a World Series ring (1963) and a Purple Heart. Ultimately, he was the only ballplayer with MLB experience to serve on the front lines in Vietnam. For the full JPA take on Gleason, click here. Note: Gleason’s life is detailed in the book “Lost in the Sun – Roy Gleason’s Odyssey from the Outfield to the Battlefield.”  


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

Playing right field and batting seventh in a 13-4 win over the NY Mets, Paciorek ended up with three hits and two walks in five plate appearances, with four runs scored and three runs batted in.  Perhaps equally surprising is that it was not only Paciorek’s first major league appearance, it was to be his only MLB appearance.  Back pain the following spring, followed by surgery (he played 49 minor league games in 1964 and missed all of the 1965 season) put an end to his MLB playing days. (Paciorek did play in four more minor league seasons.)  Still, you will find John Paciorek in the Baseball Encyclopedia and his is arguably the greatest one-game MLB career ever.  Among one-gamers, he holds the record for times on base and runs scored, and shares the record for batting average, on base percentage and RBIs. 

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

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


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

May MLB Wrap – David Ortiz, Daniel Murphy, Clayton Kershaw and More

MayCalThe MLB season has now moved into June, which means it’s time for BBRT’s traditional lengthy (Cut me come slack here, we are reviewing an entire month.) monthly wrap up.

There is plenty to write about in MLB for May.  It was a month in which the Giants (after a sub-.500 April) caught fire and were the only team to win twenty games (21-8); the Red Sox hit .305 as a team; three players with a minimum of 75 plate appearances hit .400 or better for the month (led by the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy at .416); reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper had a game in which he reached based seven times in seven plate appearances, without ever putting the ball in play; Clayton Kershaw went “old school,” going 5-0, with a 0.91 ERA and three complete games; and 40-year-old David Ortiz proved “old school” can be a good thing, hitting .347, for the month, with nine home runs and an MLB-leading 28 RBI.  And, there was plenty more that caught my attention over the past month. You can read the details in the Caught My Eye section of this post (in blue), but here’s a few more teasers from May’s play:

  • During the month, two pitchers – both with last-place teams – recorded four strikeouts in an inning.
  • On May 29, the Yankees topped the Rays 2-1, despite getting only one hit in the game – becoming the second team this season to win a game in which they collected only one safety.
  • Aroldis Chapman didn’t take the mound until May 9 (suspension) – and still recorded the 21 fastest pitches thrown in 2016 – with a high of 103.1 MPH.
  • The Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez rapped a two-run home run on May 6, which wouldn’t be unusual except that it was his 26th career round tripper – and the first 25 were solo shots.
  • On May 11, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer became just the fourth pitcher in MLB history to fan 20 batters in nine innings – and, like all those before him, didn’t walk a single hitter.
  • The White Sox turned their second triple play of the season – the record for a full campaign is three.
  • First basemen named Chris  proved to be May’s freest swingers – the Brewers’ 1B Chris Carter led the NL with 43 strikeouts in the month, while  Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis led the AL with 42.
  • And much, much more.

BBRT Players of the Month

AL:  David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) — hit .347, with nine home runs and 28 RBI (tops in MLB)  in 98 May at bats.  Maybe life does begin at 40.

NL: Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) — hit .416 (tops among players with at least 75 plate appearances), with seven home runs, 23 RBI and 17 runs scored in 113 at bats.

BBRT Pitchers of the Month

AL: Zach Britton (Closer, Orioles) — had eight saves and one win in ten appearances, struck out 13 in 11 innings and gave up zero runs.

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Starter, Dodgers) — went 5-0 in six starts, struck out 65 in 49 2/3 innings, threw three complete games, had an ERA of 0.91 for the month.

BBRT Teams of the Month

AL: Boston Red Sox — went 18-10 (AL’s best May record) and led all of MLB in runs scored, home runs and batting average.

NL: San Francisco Giants — had MLB’s best May record (21-8), driven by the month’s lowest team ERA.

Before we get into the specific events that caught BBRT’s eye, let’s take a look (statistically) at who was hot and who was not for May – starting from a team perspective.


At&T Park was a happy place in May. Photo by Saul Mora.

At&T Park was a happy place in May.
Photo by Saul Mora.

Wins and Losses – San Francisco and Boston Lead the Way

No team was hotter in in May than the San Francisco Giants, who took control of the NL West by winning 21 of 29 games during the month (MLB’s best May 2016 record).  The Giants did it with pitching – logging the month’s lowest ERA (2.66), while finishing 23rd among the 30 MLB teams in runs scored. Leading the way for the Giants were starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner (4-0, 1.05 in May), Johnny Cueto (4-0. 2.03) and Jeff Samardzija (4-2, 2.08).  Closer Santiago Casilla also racked up eight saves with a 1.38 ERA.

Over in the AL, the best record went to the Boston Red Sox at 18-10.  The Red Sox rolled to their 18 wins on the strength of a potent offense – leading all of MLB for the month in batting average (.305), runs scored (182) and home runs (46) – while posting the 17th best ERA.  Boston got particularly strong performances at the plate from SS Xander Bogaerts (.395-5-20); CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.381-8-24);  and DH David Ortiz (.347-9-28).

The worst record for May: Only two teams won fewer than ten games in May: The Reds in the NL (8-20) and the Twins in the AL (8-19). Both finished with the worst May ERA in their respective leagues (Twins at 5.96; Reds at 6.17). The Twins were second-t0-last in the AL in runs scored for the month (111, Baltimore scored one fewer), while the Reds finished near the middle (ninth) in the NL.



NL: Giants … 21-8; Cubs … 18-10; Dodgers … 16-12

AL: Red Sox … 18-10; five teams with 17 wins

Offensive Leaders for May

Runs Scored

AL: Red Sox (182); Mariners (156); Indians (147)

NL: Cardinals (150); Cubs (139); Rockies (137)

Batting Average

AL: Red Sox (.305); Royals (.288); Mariners (.283); Angels (.283)

NL: Rockies (.276);  Pirates (.273); Diamondbacks (.273); Marlins (.273)

Home Runs

AL: Red Sox (46); Mariners (45); Rays (44)

NL: Nationals (43); Mets (40); Reds (39)

Stolen Bases

NL: Brewers (31); Giants (26); Pirates (22)

AL: Rangers (23); Astros (23); Royals (20)

On the other side of the offense coin:

Fewest Runs Scored

NL: Phillies (84); Braves (86)

AL: Orioles (110); Twins (111)

Fewest Home Runs

NL:  Braves (16); Phillies (18)

AL:  Royals (24); White Sox (24)

Lowest Team Batting Average

NL:  Mets (.211); Padres (.215)

AL:  Yankees (.232);  Astros (.236)

Pitching Leaders for May


NL: Giants (2.66); Cubs (2.81); Dodgers (3.18)

AL: Blue Jays (3.44); Mariners (3.64); Yankees (3.72)


NL:  Nationals (287); Dodgers (285); Cubs (245)

AL:  Astros (267); Indians (249); Yankees (243)

Fewest Walks Allowed

AL: Yankees (64); Twins (72); Mariners (74)

NL: Mets (66); Giants (67); Cardinals (72)

The other side of the pitching coin:

Worst May ERA

NL: Reds (6.17); Diamondbacks (4.83)

AL: Twins (5.96); A’s (5.70)



Now that we’ve had a look at May’s team statistics, like look at the year-to-date (through May 31).  As we move into June, only one team is playing .700 ball (Cubs at 35-15, .700, and holding a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL Central). Other teams with at least 30 wins include division leaders Washington (32-21, .604), San Francisco (33-21, .611), Boston (32-20, .615). Conversely, only two teams are playing under.300 ball; the Twins and Braves both stand at 15-36, .294.


If the season ended at the close of play on May 31, your playoff teams would have been:

AL … Division Champions: Red Sox, Royals, Rangers.  Wild Cards: Orioles Mariners.

NL … Division Champions: Nationals, Cubs, Giants. Wild Cards: Mets, Pirates.

Now, let’s look at some of the stats behind the standings. (Note: You can find the full May 31 standings at the end of this post.)



Runs Scored

AL: Red Sox (308); Mariners (256); Rangers (246)

NL: Cardinals (292); Cubs (275); Rockies (262)

BBRT Note: Despite the impact of the DH, NL teams make up four of the top five in runs scored.

Batting Average

AL: Red Sox (.294); Royals (.272); Rangers (.262)

NL: Pirates (.283); Rockies (.277); Marlins (.272)

Home Runs

AL: Mariners (77); Rays (71); Orioles (69)

NL: Mets (73); Cardinals (71); Nationals (69)

Stolen Bases

NL: Brewers (44); Pirates (38); Diamondbacks (36)

AL: Astros (42); Royals (38); Indians (37)

On the other side of the offensive coin:

Fewest Runs Scored

AL: Twins (191); Yankees (193)

NL: Braves (161); Phillies (164)

Fewest Home Runs

NL; Braves (21); Phillies (39)

AL: Royals (44); Angels (47)

Lowest Team Batting Average

NL: Padres (.226); Braves (.228)

AL: Yankees (.232); Astros (.236)

Fewest Stolen Bases

AL:  Orioles (8); Mariners, Tigers, Angels (16 each)

NL: Mets (10); Marlins (13)



NL: Cubs (2.65); Nationals (2.95); Mets (3.25)

AL: Mariners (3.37); White Sox (3.47); Blue Jays (3.64)


NL: Nationals (492); Dodgers (483); Phillies (457)

AL: Red Sox (463); Yankees (444); Astros (444)


NL: Marlins (20); Phillies (19); Mets (18); Pirates (18)

AL: Rangers (18); Orioles (17); three teams with 16

Fewest Walks Allowed

AL: Yankees (115); Rays (137)

NL: Mets (122); Giants (135)

On the other side of the pitching coin:

Worst ERA

NL: Reds (5.83); Rockies (5.13)

AL: Twins (5.01); A’s (4.70)

Highest Batting Avg. Against

AL: Twins (.284); Tigers (.275)

NL: Rockies (.279); Reds (.277)

Most Walks Given Up

NL: Reds (239); Padres (220)

AL: Red Sox (178); Royals (178)



Now, let’s give the statistics a rest – and look at some unusual on-the-field  occurrences over the month of May.

Patience can be a virtue. Photo by Richard Martin.

Patience can be a virtue.
Photo by Richard Martin.


The Nationals’ Bryce Harper was treated with an unusual amount of respect (even for a reigning MVP) on May 8. In a game that saw the Cubs top Harper’s Nationals 4-3 in 13 innings, Harper came to the plate seven times and reached base seven times – without ever putting the ball in play. Harper drew six walks (tying the MLB single-game record) and was hit by a pitch. (Harper’s reaching base seven times in a game without an official at bat is also a record.) Three of the walks to Harper were intentional – one shy of Barry Bonds’ single-game record. (BBRT Note: Harper scored just one run in the game.)


Here’s something else you don’t often see –a two-run home run by the Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez.  On May 6, as the Astros topped the Mariners 6-3, Gonzalez (starting at first base) hit a two-run shot in the second inning.  Why did this catch BBRT’s eye?   It was Gonzalez’ 26th home run in five MLB seasons – and his first home run with a man on base. That’s right, Marwin started his career with an MLB-record 25 solo home runs. (By the way, second place on this “list” is 11 solo shots before connecting with a man on base.)

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Stay Whiff Me on This

On May 11, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer tied an MLB record by fanning twenty batters in nine innings – joining Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.  Like all those before him, Scherzer notched his twenty K’s without issuing a single walk.  Scherzer, by the way,  gave up the most hits (6), most runs (2) and most home runs (2) ever in a nine-inning, 20-strikeout performance.  Scherzer did get the victory, as the Nationals topped the Tiger 3-2 in Washington.  For more on Scherzer’s gem and other 20-strikeout performances, click here.


Triple Your Pleasure – Doubly

On May 18, the White Sox turned their second triple play of 2016 (the record for a season is three), while losing to the Astros 5-3. This one went in the “classic” 5-4-3 style (third base to second base to first) – as compared to their first triple killing of the year (April 22), which was scored 9-3-2-6-2-5. 

Triple Play Trivia

The Minnesota Twins are the only team to turn two triple plays in a single game – a July, 17, 1990, contest that they lost to the Red Sox by a 1-0 score.

Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson hit into an MLB-record four triple plays in his career.

On May 16, 1913 the Philadelphia Athletics turned a triple play against the Cleveland  Naps in which the ball changed hands an MLB-record nine times:  6-2-5-1-5-4-5-6-5-7.

The Whiffing-Poof Song

Depending on how you look at it, the Astros/Orioles Series of May 24-26 resulted in either fame or infamy.  In the Series, Astros’ pitchers became the first staff ever to record 15 or more strikeouts in three consecutive games.  The Astros swept the O’s by scores of 3-2 (13 innings), 4-3 and 4-2 and struck out 19, 18, and 15 batters in each game, respectively. The 52 whiffs – 56 percent of all the Orioles’ outs –  were also a record for a three-game series.  The most frequent whiff victim was Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis, who fanned eight times in 14 at bats (he also had two walks).  Houston hitters struck out a total of 31 times in the three games – which means that 47 percent of all the outs  in the three-game set came via the strikeout. 

Boston – Streak City

May 26 marked the first Red Sox game in the month of May that didn’t feature a base hit by CF Jackie Bradley. Jr.  Bradley’s 29-game hitting streak stretched just over a month (April 24 to May 25).  During the streak, the 26-year-old OF hit .423 (44-for-104), with eight home runs, 30 RBI and 19 runs scored (and Boston went 21-8). When Bradley started his streak he was hitting just .233, with no home runs – at the end of the streak his average was up to .350.  Bradley had 19 one-hit games in keeping his streak alive – and also had six consecutive multi-hit games (May 8-13), when he went 15-for-25.

Bradley wasn’t the only Red Sox “streaker” in May.  May 5 marked the last game in the month that didn’t feature a hit by Boston SS Xander Bogaerts.  The 23-year-old Bogaerts ran off a 24-game hitting streak (still alive) – that began on May 6.  During his streak, Bogaerts has hit .394 (42-for-107), with five home runs, 16 RBI and 22 runs scored. When he began his streak he was hitting .309, with one home run.   At the end of May, he was hitting .350.

King of the Hill – Another Streak

When Jake Arrieta picked up the win (in a 9-8 Cubs victory over the Cardinals) on May 24, it not only marked a 9-0 start to the season for the Cubs’ ace, it also marked the 23rd consecutive Arietta start in which the Cubs earned a victory (tying a record set in 2012 by Kris Medlen). The last time the Cubs had lost a game that Arietta started was on July 25, 2015.  The streak, however, was broken on the last day of May, when the Dodgers topped the Cubs 5-0 at Wrigley – despite Arrieta’s seven shutout innings.  Arrieta left the game with the scored tied at 0-0, but the Cubs went on to take the loss (breaking the Arrieta streak).  In his last 24 starts, Arrieta has picked up up 20 wins and four no-decisions.

Won One – With One

On May 29, the Yankees topped the Rays 2-1 in Tampa Bay, despite collecting only one hit (Tampa had six).  Ray’s starter Jake Ordozzi actually carried a no-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the top of the seventh, when a one-out walk to Yankee LF Brett Gardner and a home run by Starlin Castro resulted in two Yankee runs. For the game, the Yankees had only three base runners – Gardner, Castro and 1B Dustin Ackley (safe on an error in the sixth).  It was the second game won by a team with just one hit this season. The Rangers also won their April 4 Opener (in Texas) by a score of 3-2 over Seattle – despite collecting only one hit. 

By the way, a win on just one hit is not a record.  Five teams have managed victories without collecting a single safety.  You can find details on those in the box at the end of the April Wrap Up – click here  to go to that post. 

Who’s On First?

MLB’s longest home run (thus far) of the 2016 season was hit in May.  Who hit it and when?  Ah, that’s is, indeed, the question(s).  According to Statcast™  that honor  goes to Rangers’ rookie Nomar Mazara – with a 491-foot shot on May 25 off the Angels’ Hector Santiago.  But, not so fast!  ESPN Home Run Tracker gives the honor to the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, with a 490-footer on May 6 off the Phillies’ Hector Neris.  (Note: Statcast lists Stanton’s shot at 475 feet, while ESPN’s Home Run Tracker has Mazara’s blast at just 453 feet. Hopefully, someone will hit a 500-foot shot and put this discrepancy behind us.)

Four Whiffs in One Inning

The month of May saw two pitchers – one from each league – join the group of (now 74) pitchers who have struck out four batters in a single inning.

On May 8, the Minnesota Twins’ Tyler Duffy went into the  bottom of the seventh trailing the White Sox 2-1. Tuffy got Sox’ 2B Brett Lawrie on a swinging strikeout to open the frame, then whiffed DH Avasail Garica, who reached first base as the final strike came on a wild pitch that got by Twins’ catcher Juan Centeno. After a run-scoring double by Sox’ C Dioner Navarro, Duffey fanned CF Austin Jackson, walked RF Adam Eaton intentionally and struck out SS Jimmy Rollins for the final out. Duffey took the loss in a game in which he gave up three runs on six hits and two walks (while fanning nine) in seven innings.

On May 24, Atlanta Braves’  Julio Teheran took the mound against the Brewers in the top of the second of a scoreless game.  Teheran fanned Brewers’ C Jonathan Lucroy and 1B Chris Carter (both swinging) to start the inning, CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis then swung at a third-strike wild pitch (reaching first base on the strikeout). After giving up a single to 3B Aaron Hill, Teheran fanned RF Ramon Flores to end the inning. Teheran got a no decision (the Braves lost 2-1), going seven innings – giving up just one run on three hits, walking none and striking out  a dozen.

For those interested in such things, Chuck Finley holds the record for four-strikeout innings at three. The only other pitchers to accomplish the feat more than once are A.J. Burnett and Zack Greinke (twice each).


Now, let’s get back to May’s statistical leaders.

It was quite a month, with three NL hitters topping the .400 mark (Daniel Murphy, Marcell Ozuna and Ben Zobrist); 40-year-old David Ortiz leading MLB in RBI with 28; Clayton Kershaw (no surprise there) dominating the NL pitching statistics (5-0, 0.91 ERA, 65 strikeouts); the A’s Rich Hill (some surprise here) turning in five wins and the AL’s lowest ERA; and the Reds’ Adam Duvall and A’s Khris Davis leading the NL and AL, respectively, in home runs.


Batting Average (75 minimum plate appearances)

NL: Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) – .416; Marcell Ozuna (CF, Marlins) – .411; Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – .406

AL: Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox) – .395; Jackie Bradley, Jr. (CF, Red Sox) – .381; Ryan Bruan (LF, Brewers) – .364

Home Runs

AL: Khris Davis (LF, A’s) – 11; David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) – 9; Mark Trumbo (RF, Orioles) – 9; Todd Frazier (3B, White Sox) – 9

NL: Adam Duvall (LF, Reds) – 11; Jonathan Lucroy (C, Brewers) – 9; Chris Carter (1B, Brewers) – 8; Yoenis Cespedes (CF, Mets) – 8


AL:  David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) – 28; Mike Trout (CF, Angels) – 27; Eric Hosmer (1B, Royals – 27)

NL: Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – 25; Adam Duvall (LF, Reds) – 24; Brandon Crawford (SS, Giants) – 23; Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) – 23

Stolen Bases

AL: Danny Santana (CF, Twins) – 8; five players with six

NL: Jonathan Villar (SS, Brewers) – 14; Starling Marte (LF, Pirates) – 10: Matt Duffy (3B, Giants) – 7

Walks Drawn

AL:  Carlos Santana (DH, Indians) – 23; Mike Trout (CF, Angels) – 21; Jose Bautista (RF-Blue Jays) – 19; George Springer (RF Astros) – 19

NL: Bryce Harper (RF, Nationals) – 31; Paul Goldschnidt (1B, Diamondbacks) – 24; Jonathan Villar (SS-Brewers) – 20

On the other side of the coin:

There were nearly two dozen players with at least 75 May plate appearances who hit under.200 – including Ryan Howard (Phillies), who went 7-for-69, averaging .101 for the month.  A couple of first baseman named Chris  finished  atop of the strikeout list. Milwaukee 1B Chris Carter led the NL with 43 whiffs in May (to go with a .198 average, eight home runs and 16 RBI); while Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis fanned an AL-leading 42 times in May (.210-3-11).


ERA (minimum 30 innings pitched)

AL: Rich Hill (A’s) – 2.13; Marco Estrada (Blue Jays) – 2.14; Martin Perez (Rangers) – 2.23

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 0.91; Madison Bumgarner (Giants) – 1.05; Steven Matz (Mets) – 1.26


AL: Joe Quintana (White Sox) … 5-0; Nathan Eovaldis (Yankees) … 5-0; Rich Hill (A’s) …  5-1

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) and Jose Fernandez (Marlins) … all at 5-0.


AL: Danny Salazar (Indians) – 46 (in 37 1/3 IP);  Justin Verlander (Tigers) – 46 (in 42 2/3 IP)

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 65 (in 49 2/3 IP); Max Scherzer (Nationals) – 60 in 42 1/3 IP);


AL: Francisco Rodriguez (Tigers), Luke Gregorson (Astros) and Zach Brzitton (Orioles) – 8 each

NL: Jake McGee (Rockies); Mark Melancon (Pirates); Jeanmar Gomez (Phillies); and Jeurys Familia (Mets) – all with 9

The other side of the coin:

Three pitchers took five losses in May: Michael Wacha of the Cardinals went 0-5, 6.75; Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals went 1-5, 5.18; and Taijuan Walker of the Mariners went 0-5, with a 4.91 ERA. Ubaldo Jimenez had an 8.28 ERA in six starts (one win and four losses) and tied for the AL lead in walks allowed (with the Orioles’ Chris Tillman) at 19. Alfredo Simon (Reds) had an ERA of 7.67 in five May starts (one win and two losses). Tom Koehler led MLB in walks allowed for the month, with 24 in 34 IP (six starts).



Now let’s look at the statistical leaders on the season as a whole. A few observations: Nationals’ 2B Daniel Murphy continues to flirt with a .400 average (.397); the Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado, who led the NL in HR’s and RBI last season, is again atop the league in both categories; David Ortiz (.335-14-47) is proving that life may begin at 40; Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.56) and Jake Arrieta (9-0, 1.56), tied for MLB’s lowest ERA, are performing as advertised; the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez (8-2, 2.53. 96K in 67 2/3 innings) and A’s Rich Hill (8-3, 2.25) are catching a few people by surprise; and Robinson Cano (.291-15-45) is back.


Batting Average (150 plate appearances)

NL: Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) – .397; Ryan Braun (LF, Brewers) – .348; Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – .345

AL: Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox) – .350; Victor Martinez (DH, Tigers) – .343; Eduarado Nunez (SS, Twins) – .340

Home Runs

AL; Todd Frazier (3B, White Sox) – 16; Robinson Cano (2B, Mariners) – 15; Mark Trumbo (RF, Orioles) – 15

NL: Nolan Artenado (3B, Rockies) – 16; Yeonis Cespedes (CF, Mets) – 15; Trevor Story (SS, Rockies) – 14


AL: David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) – 47; Robinson Cano (2B, Mariners) – 45; three with 40

NL: Nolan Arenado (3B, Rockies) – 43;  Anthony Rizzo (1B, Cubs) – 37; Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs) – 37; Yoenis Cespedes (CF, Mets) – 37

Runs Scored

AL: Mookie Betts (RF, Red Sox) – 49; Ian Kinsler (2B, Tigers) – 44; Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox) – 42

NL: Gregory Polanco (RF, Pirates) – 38; Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – 37; Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs) – 37; Nolan Arenado (3B, Rockies) – 37

Stolen Bases

NL: Jonathon Villar (SS, Brewers) – 19; Starling Marte (LF Pirates) – 17; Melvin Upton, Jr. (LF, Padres) – 10; Billy Hamilton (CF, Reds) – 10

AL: Jose Altuve (2B, Astros) – 15; Billy Burns (CF, A’s) – 12; Rajai Davis (CF, Indians) – 11; Jacob Ellsbury (CF, Yankees) – 11

Walks Drawn

NL: Paul Goldschmidt (1B-Diamondbacks) – 49; Bryce Harper (RF, Nationals) – 48; ; Brandon Belt (1B, Giants) – 36

AL: Jose Bautista (RF, Blue Jays) – 40; Mike Trout (CF, Angels) – 35; Joe Mauer (1B, Twins) – 31; Carlos Santana (DH, Indians) – 31

On the other side of the coin:

The following players with at least 150 plate appearances are all hitting below the “Mendoza Line”  (under .200): Ryan Howard (Phillies) – .154; Chris Coghlan (A’s) – .157; Yan Gomes (Indians) – .171; Derek Norris (Padres) – .179; Erik Aybar (Braves) – .182; Mark Teixeira (Yankees) – .190; Kendrys Morales (Royals) – .193; Prince Fielder (Rangers) – .194; Russell Martin (Blue Jays) – .197); Peter Bourjos (Phillies) – .199; Danny Espinoza (Nationals) – .199

In the strikeout race, only four players have whiffed 70 or more times: Trevor Story (Rockies) – 76K in 204 at bats; Justin Upton (Tigers) – 72 K in 184 at bats; Miguel Sano (Twins) – 71K in 179 at bats); Chris Davis (Orioles) – 70K in 185 at bats


ERA (at least 50 innings pitched)

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 1.56; Jake Arrieta (Cubs) – 1.56; Noah Syndergaard (Mets) – 1.84

AL: Jose Quintana (White Sox) – 2.13; Rich Hill (A’s) – 2.25; Chris Sale (White Sox) – 2.29


NL: Jakes Arrieta (Cubs) – 9-0; Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) – 9-0; Johnny Cueto (Giants) – 8-1; Jose Fernandez (Marlins) – 8-2

AL: Chris Sale (White Sox) – 9-1; Rich Hill (A’s) – 8-3; five with seven wins


NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 105; Jose Fernandez (Marlins) – 96; Max Scherzer (Nationals) – 90; Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) – 90

AL: David Price (Red Sox) – 79; Justin Verlander (Tigers) – 77; Chris Sale (White Sox) – 76


NL: Jeanmar Gomez (Phillies) – 17; Jeurys Familia (Mets) – 17; Mark Melancon (Pirates) – 16; A.J. Ramos (Marlins) – 16

AL: Wade Davis (Royals) – 15; Francisco Rodriguez (Tigers) – 14; ; Zach Britton (Orioles) – 14

On the other side of the coin:

The leaders in losses are: Phil Hughes (Twins) 1-7; Jared Eickhoff (Phillies) 2-7; James Shields (Padres) 2-7; Drew Smyly (Rays) 2-7; Matt Harvey (Mets) 4-7.  Six pitchers with at least fifty innings pitched have ERA’s over 6.00: Micheal Pineda (Yankees) – 6.92; Anibel Sanchez (Tigers) – 6.67; Wily Peralta (Brewers) – 6.51; Ubaldo Jiminez (Orioles) – 6.36; Jake Peavy (Giants) – 6.34; Clay Bucholz (Red Sox) – 6.24


Now the Standings


MAY 31, 2016 STANDINGS  (May W-L in parenthesis)


Red Sox          32-20     .615     …    (18-10)

Orioles             28-22    .560     3.0    (14-13)

Blue Jays         28-26   .519      5.0    (17-12)

Yankees           24-27    .471     7.5    (16-13)

Rays                22-28     .440     9.0   (11-16)


Royals              29-22     .569     …     (17-11)

White Sox         28-25     .528     2.0     (11-17)

Indians             26-24      .520     2.5    (16-13)

Tigers                24-27     .471     5.0     (11-17)

Twins                15-36     .294     14.0    (8-19)


Rangers             31-21     .596     …     (17-11)

Mariners             30-21     .588     0.5     (17-11)

Angels                24-28    .462     7.0      (13-15)

Astros                 24-29    .431     7.5     (17-12)

A’s                      24-29    .453     7.5     (11-17)



Nationals         32-21     .604     …     (16-14)

Mets               29-22     .569     2.0     (14-15)

Marlins            27-25    .519     4.5     (15-14)

Phillies             26-26   .500     5.5     (12-16)

Braves            15-36   .294     16.0     (10-18)

NL CENTRAL          

Cubs                35-15     .700     …     (18-10)

Pirates             29-22     .569     2.0    (14-13)

Cardinals          28-25    .528     8.5     (16-13)

Brewers            23-29   .442     13.0     (15-14)

Reds                 17-35    .327   19.0     (8-20)

Giants            33-21   .611     …     (21-8)

Dodgers         28-25   .528     4.5     (16-12)

Rockies          24-27   .471    7.5     (13-15)

D-backs          23-31   .426    10.0     (11-17)

Padres             20-33    .377  12.5     (11-18)



Let’s wrap up the May Wrap Up with a musical interlude.  May 24 happened to be Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday – and Dylan once immortalized A’s pitcher Catfish Hunter in song (a tune appropriately titled “Catfish,” recorded by Dylan and covered by Joe Cocker.  And, here it is.

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

Dotel, Bautista, Youngblood – Kings of MLB “Journey-men”

Trades, Free Agency, Waiver Wire – There are lots of ways to move from team to team on a player’s major league journey.  In this post, BBRT will take a look at a handful of players who could be considered the kings of that journey.  I’m talking about the MLB record holders for teams played for in a career, a season and a single day.

Octavio Dotel – 13 MLB Teams Played For in His MLB Career

Photo by" Jon Dawson

Photo by: Jon Dawson

Dominican-born Octavio Dotel traveled a long way to get to the major leagues.  And, after spending four of his first five MLB seasons with the Houston Astros, his travels were just beginning. The 6-foot, 230-pound right-handed pitcher would take the mound for 11 more teams over the next ten seasons – and holds the record for the most MLB franchises played for in a career at 13. Dotel, who retired at the age of 40, appeared in 758 games; put up a 59-50 record, with 109 saves; and struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings (1,143 whiffs in 951 innings pitched).

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at the career of major league baseball’s “King of the Road.”

Dotel signed with the Mets in 1995 (at the age of 21). Between 1995 and 1999, he worked his way through the Mets’ minor league system, pitching in 102 games (92 starts), with a 44-23 record, a 3.27 ERA and 613 strikeouts in 560 2/3 innings.

Dotel’s work earned him a promotion to the Mets in June of 1999 and he appeared in 19 games for New York (14 starts). He managed an 8-3 record, despite a 5.38 ERA – helped no doubt by his 85 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings pitched. In December of 1999, Dotel was traded (along with minor league pitcher Kyle Kessel) to the Astros for OF Roger Cedeno and LHP Mike Hampton. It would be the first of many moves for Dotel. It was also probably the most fortuitous, because it ultimately led to another  move – from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

In 2000, Dotel began the season in the Astros’ rotation and, in 16 starts, went 1-5 with a 5.84 ERA. An injury to Astros’ closer Billy Wagner, however, sent Dotel to the bullpen, where he notched two wins and 16 saves in 34 appearances (4.24 ERA). Dotel’s days as a starter were basically over.  (During the next 13 seasons, Dotel would make only four starts in 689 appearances.) Over the next three-and-a-half seasons, Dotel was a fixture in a solid Astros’ pen – going 19-17, with 26 saves, a 2.42 ERA and 410 strikeouts in 324 innings.

Then, on June 24, 2004, Dotel began his “MLB Journey” in earnest. On that day, as part of a three-team trade, Dotel moved from the Astros to the A’s (where he added six wins and  22 more saves in 45 appearances)  Over the next eight seasons, Dotel (as a result of four trades and six signings as a free agent) would pitch for the Yankees, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Tigers. In 2010 alone, he would take the mound for three MLB teams – the Pirates, Dodgers and Rockies.

Dotel also pitched in the post season for the Mets (1999), Astros (2001), White Sox (2008), Cardinals (2011) and Tigers (2012). In 26 post-season appearances, he went 3-1, with a 3.86 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. Dotel – traveling MLB’s “Long and Winding Road” was a valuable addition to a dozen bullpens – as he racked up innings and strikeouts for a record 13 MLB teams.


Octavio Dotel (RHP) – 13 franchises in 15 seasons (1999-2013)

Mike Morgan (RHP) – 12 franchises in 22 seasons (1978-2002)

Matt Stairs (OF/1B) – 12 franchises in 19 seasons (1992-2011)

Ron Villone (LHP) – 12 franchises in 15 seasons (1995-2009)


Jose Bautista – Four MLB Teams Played for in a Single Season

Photo by: Keith Allison

Photo by: Keith Allison


While Octavio Dotel currently holds sole possession of the record for most franchise played for in a career, the record for MLB teams played for in a season (four) is shared by thirteen players. I’ll provide the whole list, but let’s look in more detail at the most recent (and, arguably, best known) player to accomplish this feat. In 2000, 19-year-old Jose Baustista was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round of the MLB draft. He played in the Pirates’ minor league system until 2003. In those three seasons, Bautista took the field in 349 games, hitting .287, with 24 home runs and 100 RBI – never rising above High A ball. The Pirates left Bautista unprotected in the 2003 Rule Five Draft – and thus began his record-tying odyssey.

Picked up by the Orioles, Bautista started the 2003 season on the Baltimore roster, but seldom left the bench. In fact, by early June, he had only 11 at bats – and the Orioles placed him on waivers.  Bautista was claimed by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 3, but got only 12 at bats with the Rays between then and June 28, when his contract was purchased by the Kansas City Royals. Within a month (and 25 at bats), the Royals traded Bautista to the Mets, who put him on their major league roster and then (on the same day) included him in a trade with the Pirates (Remember them – Bautista’s original team).  The Pirates kept him on the major league roster for the remainder of the season (40 more at bats). So, Bautista took the field that season for the Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals and Pirates.

Remember that brief stint with the Mets (no games played, traded on the same day he was acquired)?  While he didn’t play for the Mets, his brief time on the Mets’ roster means Bautista was on a record five different major league rosters in one season. (There may be a second player to appear on five MLB rosters in a season; although he only played on three teams.  BBRT is working to confirm this. See the statistical note at the end of this post. )

How did Joey Bats do in his four-team/five-roster season?  He played in 64 games, had 88 at bats, a .205 average, zero home runs and two RBI.  From that highly traveled and inauspicious start, Bautista HAS gone on to make a name for himself as a Toronto Blue Jay and one of the AL’s most feared power hitters.


Jose Bautista (OF/3B) – 2004 (Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals, Pirates)

Dan Miceli (RHP) – 2003 (Rockies, Indians, Yankees, Astros)

Dave Martinez (OF/1B)  – 2000 (Devil Rays, Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays)

Dave Kingman (1B/OF/3B) – 1977 (Mets, Padres, Angels, Yankees)

Mike Kilkenny (LHP) – 1972 (Tigers, A’s, Padres, Indians)

Wes Covington (OF) – 1961 (Braves, White Sox, Athletics, Phillies)

Ted Gray (LHP) – 1955 (White Sox, Indians, Yankees, Orioles)

Paul Lehner (OF/1B) – 1951 (Athletics, White Sox, Browns, Indians)

Willis Hudlin (RHP) – 1940 (Indians, Senators, Browns, Giants)

Frank Huelsman (OF) – 1904 (White Sox, Tigers, Browns, Senators)

Tom Dowse (C) – 1892 (Louisville Colonels, Senators, Reds, Phillies)

Harry Wheeler (OF/RHP) – 1884 (Browns, Kansas City Cowboys, Chicago/Pittsburgh, Baltimore Monumentals)

George Strief (2B/SS/3B/OF) – 1884 (Browns, Chicago/Pittsburgh, Cleveland Blues, Athletics)


A Triple Play – Taking the Field for Two Teams in a Single Day

YoungbloodThree players share the record for the most franchises played for in a single day at two. The first two to accomplish this feat were Max Flack and Cliff Heathcote, who were traded for each other between games of a Memorial Day 1922 Cubs/Cardinals doubleheader. The two outfielders each suited up against their previous team for Game Two. Both went hitless in game one of the doubleheader and both collected hits for their new teams in the second game (Flack a single in four at bats, Heathcote a pair of singles in four trips to the plate).

Joel Youngblood tied the record for teams played for in a single day in 1982, adding a twist – he played for and recorded hits for two different teams in two different cities on the same day.  Let’s look at Youngblood’s unique achievement.

On August 4, 1982, Youngblood started his day as a member of the New York Mets, who were playing an afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Youngblood opened the game in center field, batting third.   After striking out in the first inning, Youngblood drove in two runs with a single in the top of the third. Youngblood was unexpectedly replaced in center field by Mookie Wilson in the bottom of the fourth – and told by Mets’ manager George Bamberger that he had been traded to the Expos (for a player to be named later).

The Expos were scheduled to play in Philadelphia in Philadelphia that night, and Youngblood immediately set out to join his new team. He managed to catch a 6:05 p.m. 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.  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.  Thus, Youngblood collected base hits for two different teams in two different cities in one day.

Youngblood’s feat is even more startling 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.


Max Flack – May 30, 1922: Cubs (RF); Cardinals (RF).

Cliff Heathcote – May 30, 1922: Cardinals (CF); Cubs (RF).

Joel Youngblood – August 4, 1982: Mets (CF); Expos (RF).

BBRT STATISTICAL NOTE: There may be a second player (besides Jose Bautista) to appear on a record five MLB rosters in a single season (although he played for just three teams).  I am still working to confirm this one.  Casper Wells finished the 2012 season with the Mariners. Wells was designated for assignment on March 31, 2013 by the Mariners. He was picked up by the Blue Jays (off waivers) on August 10. On August 22, the A’s purchased his contract from the Blue Jays.  Then, on August 29, the White Sox purchased Wells from the A’s. Finally, on August 8, the Phillies picked him up (off waivers from the White Sox.). During the season, Well actually played for only three teams – the A’s, White Sox and Phillies.  But depending on timing, he could have been on a record-tying five MLB rosters during the course of the season. When a player is designated to assignment, they are dropped from the team‘s 40-man MLB roster.  Now, the Mariners designate Wells for assignment on March 31 (opening day of the 2013 season). The question is:  Was he dropped from the roster before the season officially opened? I have a query into the Mariners to find out the specifics and determine if Wells matches Bautista’s five-roster, single-season record.

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

If you like baseball trivia and haven’t tried a BBRT trivia quiz (each is 99 questions), click here for Quiz One and here for Quiz Two. 


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Twenty Strikeouts in an Outing – and Then Some

Max Scherzer photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On May 11, 2016 Max Scherzer tied an MLB record by fanning twenty batters in nine innings – joining Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.  The topic has been “trending “ all over the traditional and social media.  BBRT would like to add what is, hopefully, a little unique perspective to that “conversation” – followed by a brief look at each 20-strikeout outing, as well as a couple of hurlers who have done that accomplishment at least one better.  A few factoids.

  • Roger Clemens is the only pitcher to reach 20 strikeouts in nine-innings twice – and he did it ten seasons apart.
  • Despite the ten-year span between Roger Clemens’ nine-inning 20-whiff performances, he is neither the oldest, nor the youngest, pitcher to accomplish the feat. The youngest is the Cubs’ Kerry Wood (who did it in his rookie season at age 20). The oldest is the Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson, who fanned 20 in nine-innings at age 37.
  • The most pitches in a 20-strikeout performance is 151 (by Clemens in 1996), the fewest is 119 by Scherzer.
  • Scherzer is the first pitcher to fan 20 hitters in nine innings without fanning every member of the opposing starting lineup at least once.
  • Randy Johnson is the only pitcher to notch 20 strikeouts in an MLB game – and not throw a complete game.
  • No pitcher to notch twenty strikeouts in nine-innings has ever given up a walk in the contest. That’s right: 45 innings, 100 strikeouts, zero walks.
  • Scherzer gave up the most hits (6), most runs (2) and most home runs (2) ever in a nine-inning, 20-strikeout performance.

Here’s a bit of detail on MLB’s nine-inning, twenty-strikeout performances.

April 29, 1986 – Roger Clemens, Red Sox, topped the Mariners 3-1 in Boston.  Clemens gave up three, hits, zero walks, while fanning twenty.  The only run for Seattle scored on a home run by Mariners’ DH Gorman Thomas in the seventh inning.  Clemens threw 138 pitches, 97 for strikes. He struck out all nine members of the Mariners’ starting lineup at least once; LF Phil Bradley four times.  Clemens was 23-years-old at the time.  He went on to win 24 games (leading the AL), the AL Cy Young Award and the AL MVP.  Clemens finished the season second in the AL in strikeouts with 238 in 254 innings.

September 18, 1996, Roger Clemens, Red Sox, topped the Tigers 4-0 in Detroit. He gave up five hits, zero walks, no runs. Clemens struck out all the members of the Tigers’ starting lineup at least once; SS Travis Fryman four times. Clemens threw 151 pitches, 101 strikes. That season, Clemens finished 10-13, 3.63, but led the AL in strikeouts with 257 in 242 2/3 innings. Clemens was 34-years-old.

May 6, 1998, Kerry Wood, Cubs, beat the Astros 2-0 in Chicago. Wood gave up just one hit, zero walks. He threw 122 pitches, 84 strikes. Wood struck out every member of the starting lineup at least once; 1B Jeff Bagwell, 3B Jake Howell and CF Moises Alou three times each. Wood was a 20-year-old rookie at the time.  He went on to a 13-6 season, with 233 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings. Wood was the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year.

May 6, 2001. Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks, whiffed 20 in nine innings as the D-backs topped the Reds 4-3 in eleven innings (in Arizona). Johnson was relieved in the 10th (by Byung-Hyun-Kim) with the score tied 1-1.  Johnson gave up three hits, one run, zero walks. The lone run off Johnson scored in the fifth inning on a single by 3B Aaron Boone, a stolen base and a single by CF Ruben Rivera. Johnson threw 124 pitches, 92 for strikes, in his nine innings. Johnson struck out every member of the starting lineup at least once; SS Barry Larkin and RF Alex Ochoa three times each. He went on to a 21-6 season, leading the league with 372 strikeouts in 249 2/3 innings and won the NL Cy Young Award. He was 37-years-old at the time.

May 11, 2016, Max Scherzer of the Nationals topped the Tigers 3-2 in Washington. He gave up six hits and two runs, with zero walks.  Both runs scored on home runs – by SS Jose Iglesias in the third inning and RF J.D. Martinez in the ninth. Scherzer struck out everyone in the Detroit starting line up at least once EXCEPT DH Victor Martinez, who collected three hits (all singles) in four at bats. Scherzer threw 119 pitches, 96 strikes. Scherzer is 31-years-old.



Tom Cheney struck out a record 21 hitters in a single (extra inning) major league game – a 16-inning contest between the Washington Senators and Baltimore Orioles (in Baltimore) on September 12, 1962.  For the full story, click here.


The record for strikeouts in a professional game at any level stands at 27  – Ron Necciai (netch-eye). For that story, click here. 


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Old Guys Rule – Bartolo Colon, with a Nod to Julio Franco

Yesterday (May  7), 42-year-old Bartolo Colon picked up his third win of the season – going 6 2/3 innings (three earned runs, six hits, one walk, five strikeouts), as his Mets topped the Padres 6-3 in San Diego.   Colon also made a bit of history – at age 42 and 348 days, in his 19th MLB season, Colon connected for his first MLB home run. It came in the top of the second inning (off Padres’ starter James Shields) and made Colon the oldest major leaguer ever to collect his first round tripper – breaking Hall of Famer Hurler Randy Johnson’s record (40 years and nine days).

BBRT would note. however, that when it comes to age-related home run records – Julio Franco remains the king.  Franco is the oldest player to homer in an MLB game, the oldest to hit a Grand Slam, the oldest to hit a pinch-hit home run and the oldest to record a multi-home game.  For details on these – and more of Franco’s career accomplishments, click here.

Haven’t tried BBRT’s Trivia Quizzes yet?  Quiz One, click here.  Quiz Two, click here.


Looking for a great summer baseball tour – Independent, A, AA, AAA and major league stops, click here. 

I tweet baseball@DavidBBRT

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

Baseball Reliquary – 2016 Shrine of the Eternals Electees Announced

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

Stumped?  These diverse individuals are all past electees to The Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals – an honor intended to recognize individuals who have had impact on our national pastime that goes beyond statistics and touches upon the culture and character of the game – with a particular focus on the fans’ point of view.

The Baseball Reliquary this week announced its 2016 Shrine of the Eternals electees:

  • a former Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award Winner, MVP and first African American 20-game winner;
  • an MLB All Star outfielder, NFL Pro Bowl running back and media/marketing icon;
  • a sportswriter who “wrote the book” on first-person accounting of baseball games, penned hundreds of articles and more than two dozen books, and was named Magazine Sportswriter of the Year.

Before we take a detailed look at this year’s electees (and BBRT’s ballot), I’d like to provide readers with a brief overview of both the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals.

The Baseball Reliquary (BBRT is a proud member) is a free-spirited organization dedicated to celebrating the human side of baseball’s history and heritage.  The Reliquary is truly a fan-focused organization, committed to recognizing baseball’s place in American culture and to honoring the character and characters of the national pastime. The Reliquary pursues that mission through its collection of artifacts, traveling exhibitions, ties to the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies and (perhaps, most visibly) through its own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame – the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary, and why you should become a member, click here.

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

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

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

Each year, the Baseball Reliquary submits a list of candidates to its members and the top three vote-getters are honored.  Note: The induction ceremony for this 18th Shrine “class” will take place Sunday, July 17, 2016 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena (California) Central Library.

So, let’s take a look the 2016 electees – Don Newcombe, Bo Jackson and Arnold Hano. Voting percentage for all the candidates can be found at the end of this post.


Photo: Courtesy of Baseball Reliquary.

Photo: Courtesy of Baseball Reliquary.

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his first year on the ballot, Don Newcombe began his baseball career in 1944, as an 18-year-old pitcher with the Negro National League Newark Eagles. By 1946, he was a Brooklyn Dodger farmhand (Thank you, Mr. Rickey) and, by 1949, he was a starting pitcher for the Dodgers – going 17-8, 3.12 and winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award.  Remember, this was 1949 and “Newk” was facing many of the same racial pressures and prejudices as Jackie Robinson. Newcombe answered those considerable challenges with his arm and his competitiveness – becoming one of those most feared and respected pitchers in the game. His success helped pave the way for future Black major leaguers – particularly pitchers. Newcombe won 19 games (11 losses) in 1950 and, in 1951, became MLB’s first African American 20-game winner (20-9, 3.28). Then, after losing two prime years to military service, Newcombe returned for seven more MLB seasons.  Ultimately, he was a 20-game winner three times – including 1956, when he went 27-7, 3.06, won the first-ever Cy Young Award and was selected the NL MVP.  Notably, Newcombe was also no slouch at the plate. He hit .271, with 15 homers in his MLB career, and was, at times, used as a pinch hitter.  (After his MLB career ended, Newcombe played one year in Japan – as an outfielder/first baseman). Note: Newcombe is credited as the first former major leaguer to play in the Japanese League.

Newcombe not only found himself facing off against opponents in the batter’s box, he also faced (an admitted) fight with alcohol.  He eventually won that battle – and is credited with using his success to help others meet the challenge of substance abuse.  Newcombe ended his career a four-time All Star – with a 149-90, 3.56 record. In 1970, Newcombe was picked by the Dodgers to run baseball’s first Community Relations program. Newcombe also has received the “Beacon of Hope” award, presented at the Annual MLB Civil Rights Game. He remains in baseball and with the Dodgers as a Special Advisor to the Chairman. Congrats to this deserving new member of the Shrine of the Eternals.


Photo" Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Photo” Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson remains one of the most recognizable names in American sport – more than 20 years after he left the playing field, or more accurately playing fields.  Jackson was a multi-sport star – an MLB All Star outfielder (1989) and an NFL Pro Bowl Selection (1990) at running back (an injury kept him out of the game). He was also a Heisman Trophy winner (recognizing the year’s most outstanding collegiate football player) for Auburn University in 1985.  At Auburn, Jackson lettered in football, baseball and track.

After college, Jackson would go on to play four seasons at running back with the Los Angeles Raiders (1987-90), averaging 5.6 yards per carry and scoring 16 rushing and two receiving touchdowns.  Jackson’s football and baseball careers overlapped – as Jackson patrolled the outfield (and DH-ed) for the  Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels from 1986-94 – becoming known for spectacular outfield play, long home runs and speed on the bases. It was Jackson’s versatile athleticism, in fact, that led to his gaining status as a marketing icon.

In 1989, the Nike athletic shoe company began one of the most successful ad campaigns in history with a series of “Bo Knows” television spots. These featured Jackson being lauded for his athletic versatility by stars from other sports – “Bo Knows Baseball,” “Bo Knows Tennis,” “Bo Knows Cycling,” etc.  Jackson was acknowledged as knowing a range of sports including (but not limited to) baseball, football, basketball, tennis, running, cycling, weight lifting. There was even a shot of Jackson playing guitar – and doing it rather badly – with Bo Diddley commenting ”Bo, you don’t know Diddley!”  The spots proved extremely popular – and made Jackson one of the most recognized individuals in all of sports.

It clearly appeared that “Bo Knew” the sky was the limit.   He was a MLB All-Star, NFL All Pro, college football legend, and a media and advertising icon.  In 1991, however, things (including Jackson’s hip) took a turn for the worse. In a 1991 playoff game between the NFL Bengals and the LA Raiders, Jackson sustained a career-threatening (eventually career-ending) hip injury on what appeared to be a routine tackle at the end of a 34-yard run.  After surgery and rehab, Jackson made a baseball comeback with the White Sox.   In his first at bat back in the majors (1993), he belted a home run against the Yankees. He would go on to hit 16 home runs in 85 games and win the 1993 Comeback Player of the Year Award.  However, the hip injury has blunted a couple of key weapon in his arsenal – his electrifying speed and spring. Before his injury, Jackson had stolen 81 bases in 534 games. In 160 games after his return to MLB, he stole just one. Jackson retired as a member of the Angels during the 1994 baseball strike.  Is final season, Jackson his .273, with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 75 games. In his eight MLB season (694) games, Jackson hit .250 with 141 home runs 416 RBI and 82 steals – and a penchant for the dramatic. Now, Bo Knows The Shrine of the Eternals. And, we still don’t know what might have been.

For more on Bo Jackson, you might try the book “Bo Knows Bo” by Bo Jackson.


Photo: Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Photo: Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Perhaps no individual play has been more “immortalized” in baseball history than Willie Mays’ over the shoulder catch of a deep drive off the bat of the Indians’ Vic Wertz in Game One of the 1954 World Series.  And, one of the best – actually the description most often credited as being “the” best – accountings came from the pen of Arnold Hano. It’s included in Hano’s book A Day in the Bleachers – an eyewitness report of that game that is said to have changed the face of first-person sports writing/reporting. Hano’s prose is as classic as the play itself. If you haven’t already read this one, you might want to give it a try.

And, there was no one better to undertake that task than Arnold Hano – a nearly life-long Giants fan (after a brief affection for the Yankees), whose infatuation with writing and editing came almost as early as  his love of the national pastime.  Hano’s literary career began as an eight-year-old, when he and his older brother began a mimeographed neighborhood newspaper. Hano followed that passion for wordsmithing into an early career as an editor in the book publishing world –  a career path that changed after that September 29, 1954 World Series contest. (Much to the benefit of baseball fans.)

BleachersIn fact, the critical success of Hano’s A Day In the Bleachers – with new editions published in 1982, 2004, 2006 – catapulted Hano to the top echelon of sport writers. Over the years, Hano’s work has appeared in the likes of Sport, Sports Illustrated, True’s Baseball Yearbook, the Saturday Evening Post and major news media like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He’s written more than 500 articles and more than two dozen books (more than one million copies sold) – including biographies of such stars as Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente. He was also a regular contributor to the annual Baseball Stars series of biographies and, in 1967, published his own volume of baseball bios – The Greatest Giants of Them All. In 1964, Hano was named the Magazine Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Hano’s career is documented in the recently released film – Hano! A Century in the Bleachers.

Notably, Hano was more than a sportswriter. He was instrumental in civil rights and environmental protection efforts and, in 1953, he won the Sidney Hillman prize for a piece on the plight of California’s immigrant population. A writer who changed the face of sports writing – and worked to change our culture as well – Hano got my vote.


So there’s the 2015 Shrine of the Eternals inductees.  Now here’s a look in alphabetical order) at those who got BBRT’s vote, but didn’t make the final three. (I did cast a vote for Hano.)


Reuben Berman (1890-1977)

On May 16, 1921, during a game between the Giants and Reds played at New York City’s Polo Grounds, Reuben Berman captured a foul ball that was hit into the stands. The custom at the time was to return the ball to the playing field. In fact, some teams even employed security guards to retrieve balls if the fans declined to return them. In some extreme cases, arrests were made and charges (larceny) filed.  On that day in May of 1921, Berman, refused to return a foul ball – and, when confronted, tossed the ball deeper into the stands. After what some reported as an exchange of profanities and a minor scuffle, Berman was ejected from the Polo Grounds.  Berman, however, was not done with the Giants.  He filed a lawsuit against the club asserting he was illegally detained and had suffered mental anguish and a loss of reputation because of the incident.  The case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court, which found in Berman’s favor, granting him the sum of $100 (he had asked for $20,000). The $100 victory is not what got Berman my vote for the Shrine of the Eternals, it was the impact on fans of his stubbornness – and what became known as “Reuben’s Rule” or “Berman’s Law.” Berman’s case was the most important step in establishing the fans’ right to that precious souvenir – an official, game-used baseball. Every time we see a scrum (for a baseball) in the stands, or a one-handed (beer or baby in the other hand) catch of a foul ball, or a smiling youngster showing off his white, red-stitched prize, we can than Reuben Berman.

Ted Kluszewski (1924-1988)

I love to recognize players who do something we are not likely to see again (last year, I cast a ballot for Denny McLain, MLB’s last 30-game winner).  This year, I voted for Ted “Big Klu” Kluszewski – perhaps the last of the true power hitters who also practiced exceptional plate discipline.  In 1954, for example, Big Klu hit .326, with 49 home runs and 141 RBI – a season made even more remarkable by the fact the Kluszewski struck out only 35 times (versus 78 walks). I doubt if we’ll ever see another player top 40 home runs, without reaching 40 whiffs.  Kluszewski, in fact, had a streak of four seasons (1953-56) when he hit over .300, drove in 100+ runs, bashed 35+ home runs – and struck out no more than 40 times in any season.  In those four season, Kluszewski hit 171 home runs – and fanned 140 times (average 43 HR’s and 35 whiffs a season). It should also be noted that Kluszewski led NL first baseman in fielding percentage every year from 1951 through 1955. Unfortunately, a back injury in 1956 hampered his performance (he played until 1961).

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

Kluszewski only appeared in one post-season – hitting  .391, with three homers and ten RBI in the 1958 World Series (for the White Sox).  True to his form – Big Klu did not strike out even once (25 plate appearance) in the Series.  For trivia buffs, left unprotected in the  1960 expansion draft, Kluszewski hit the first-ever home run for the expansion Angels (a two-run shot in the first inning of the Angels’ first game –  April 11 versus the Orioles). He added a punctuation mark, by hitting the Angels second–ever home run (a three-run shot) the very next inning. The Angels won 7-2, and Kluszewski did not strikeout. It was the first game of his last MLB season. Ultimately, however, what we all remember is those sleeveless jerseys and muscular arms.  This four-time All Star – whose last name also ends with “ski” – got my vote for the Shrine.

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1935 – *)

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

Effa Manley (1900-81)

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

David Mullany (1908-90)

David Mullany was the inventor of the Wiffle® Ball (1953), which ultimately changed backyard baseball for millions of young (and old) players and fans. I know I loved my white perforated plastic ball and yellow plastic bat – and played more than one backyard World Series opener with them (without shattering a single window).  Today, there are Wiffle Ball fields, leagues and tournaments.  The company is still operated by the Mullany family and you can learn more by visiting their website (  You might also be interested in Wiffle Ball: The Ultimate Guide by Michael Herman.

Pete Reiser (1919-81)

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

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


Rube Waddell (1876-1914)

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

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

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

John Young (1949-*)

A 6’3”, 210-pound, left-handed first baseman, John Young hit .325, with four home runs, 60 RBI and 26 stolen bases (in 29 attempts) in 99 games at Single A Lakeland (Tigers’ farm team) as a twenty-year-old (in 1969). The first-round draft choice (16th overall in the 1969 draft)  truly looked like a player with promise – and, in fact, enjoyed a big league cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1971 (two games, four at bats, two hits, one run, one RBI, one double). A wrist injury derailed his playing career, but didn’t dampen his love for the game and he went on to a long career as a scout. It was during his scouting days that Young developed a concern for the decline of baseball among young people – particularly in the inner cities.  In response, Young came up with the concept for the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. Officially launched in 1989, the RBI program is now supported by all thirty MLB clubs and is active in approximately 200 communities – with more than 250,000 participants annually.  Overall, MLB teams have donated more than $30 million to the program. (The program also includes educational and life skills components.) A few RBI alumni in the major leagues include: Carl Crawford, Justin Upton, CC Sabathia, James Loney, Manny Machado and Yovani Gallardo.



Don Newcombe – 42.0%

Bo Jackson – 38.0%

Arnold Hano – 26.0%

Chet Brewer – 25.3%

Charlie Brown – 24.7%

Charlie Finley – 24.7%

Bob Costas – 24.0%

Rocky Colavito – 23.3%

Luke Easter – 22.7%

Charles M. Conlon – 21.3%

J.R. Richard – 21.3%

Effa Manley – 20.7%

Nancy Faust – 19.3%

Ernie Harwell – 19.3%

Hideo Nomo – 19.3%

Pete Reiser – 19.3%

Jose Canseco – 18.7%

Lisa Fernandez – 18.7%

Mamie Johnson – 18.7%

Dr. Mike Marshall – 18.7%

Bert Campaneris – 18.0%

Denny McLain – 17.3%

Rube Foster – 16.0%

Fred Merkle – 16.0%

Annie Savoy – 16.0%

Ted Kluszewski – 15.3%

Tug McGraw – 14.7%

Bing Russell – 14.7%

Rube Waddell – 14.7%

Reuben Berman – 14.0%

Joe Pepitone – 14.0%

Rusty Staub – 14.0%

Margaret Donahue – 13.3%

Phil Pote – 13.3%

Vic Power – 13.3%

Charley Pride – 13.3%

John Young – 13.3%

Octavius V. Catto – 12.0%

Daniel Okrent – 12.0%

Steve Wilstein – 12.0%

Dave Parker – 11.3%

Chris Von der Ahe – 11.3%

Mike Hessman – 10.7%

Dan Quisenberry – 10.7%

John Montgomery Ward – 10.0%

Wayne Doba – 7.3%

Isabel Alvarez – 6.7%

Emilio Cordova – 6.7%

Billy Scripture – 4.0%

Dr. David Tracy – 0.7%


For a full list of past Shrine of Eternals honorees, click here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

MLB Expansion Drafts – Each Team’s First and Most Interesting Picks

More then you’ll ever need (want?) to know about MLB’s Expansion Drafts – and the first and most interesting players taken by baseball’s 14 “new” franchises.

Eli Grba - first player taken in MLB's first expansion draft.

Eli Grba – first player taken in MLB’s first expansion draft.

Expansion drafts have fascinated BBRT since I was just a kid – drafting Strat-O-Matic teams with my baseball buddies. That interest was reenergized recently when I picked up an expansion team in a fantasy league – having to choose from players left unprotected by established teams. In this post, BBRT would like to take a look at MLB’s real expansion drafts – particularly the first player drafted by each expansion team and how those selections worked out.  In addition, I’ll (totally subjectively) comment on the players I think were the most interesting selections by each team in each draft.

Notably, first-pick selections in MLB’s seven Expansion Drafts ranged from a utility player with only 13 MLB at bats (Bob Bailor) to a former AL MVP (Bobby Shantz). And, when you further examine Expansion Draft first picks, you also find a pitcher who had started Game Four of the previous season’s World Series (Tony Saunders) and a veteran outfielder with a .292 career average (over seven seasons) who would go on to a 20-season MLB career (Manny Mota). But enough teasers, let’s take a look at each expansion team’s first and most interesting Expansion Draft picks.

1960 EXPANSION DRAFT – For 1961 Season ———————-

Eli Grba – RHP – First pick of the Angels, taken from the Yankees.

Eli Grba was the first-ever Expansion Draft selection (the Angels had first pick). The 26-year-old Grba had appeared in a total of 43 games (15 starts) and 131 major league innings for the Yankees in the 1959-60 seasons – going 8-9 with a 4.74 ERA and one save. He was considered a solid prospect (who already had some seasoning), coming off a 1960 season in which he went 7-1, 1.80 at Triple A before putting up a 6-4, 3.68 line for the Yankees.  Grba had a good season for the Angels in 1961 – winning 11 and losing 13, with a 4.25 ERA in 211 2/3 innings pitched.  Grba, however, was out of the major leagues by 1964, finishing with a 28-33, 4.67 (4 saves) record over five seasons.

Angels’ most interesting pick – 20-year-old RHP Dean Chance, taken from the Orioles. 

The Angels grabbed Chance from the Baltimore Orioles’ organization with the 51st pick in the draft.  Chance was clearly a “prospect pick.” Just 20, he already had two minor league seasons behind him (in which he had gone 22-12, with a 3.06 ERA). Chance spent most of 1961 at Triple A, getting into just five games with the Angels at the end of the season (0-2, 6.87 in 18 1/3 innings). In 1962, he was a 14-game winner for the Angels and, by 1964, he was an All Star and AL Cy Young Award winner (20-9, 1.65 with 11 complete-game shutouts).  A nice pick who had an 11-year MLB career, six seasons with the Angels.


Bobby Shantz – LHP – First pick of the Senators, taken from the Yankees.

As much as the Angels went for potential, the expansion Senators appeared to go for experience – using their first pick on 35-year-old lefthander Bobby Shantz; a 12-year MLB veteran, three-time All Star and 1952 AL MVP.  Shantz, however, never played for the Senators. He was quickly traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Bennie Daniels, 3B Harry Bright and 1B R.C. Stevens. The players the Senators received for Shantz did provide some value. Daniels led the Senators in wins in 1961, going 12-11, 3.44. He stayed with the team four more seasons, picking up 25 more victories. Harry Bright hit .240-4-21 in 72 games for Washington in 1961, then set career highs at .273-17-67 for the team the following year (after which he was traded to the Reds). R.C. Stevens played in only 33 games for the Senators – hitting .129 in his last of four MLB season.

Senators’ most interesting pick – LHP Bobby Shantz (see the full Shantz story below).

Bobby Shantz – The Most Interesting Player in TWO MLB Expansion Drafts

Bobby Shantz - Boyhood Hero.

Bobby Shantz – Boyhood Hero.

Like the Dos Equis beer campaign’s “most interesting man in the world,”  Bobby Shantz was the most interesting player in not one, but two, MLB Expansion drafts – at least in BBRT’s estimation.

First, a disclaimer. As a youngster, I had a personal interest in the 5’ 6 “ Shantz.  My Dad was just 5’ 1” and it looked like I might follow in his (short stride and) footsteps.  Luckily, a growth spurt in my teens got me past my Dad’s mark to an average 5′ 9″. Before that growth spurt, however, Shantz was my assurance that the vertically challenged could succeed in the national pastime.

Let’s take a look at this most interesting of Expansion Draft picks (actually one of the more interesting MLB players period). Shantz – who was still under five-feet tall when he graduated from high school – was a natural athlete, excelling in everything from baseball to diving to gymnastics to ping pong. Still, when it came to professional opportunities, he was considered too small. Fortunately, a late growth spurt (some of which occurred during his military service) pushed Shantz up to 5’ 6″ and just shy of 140 pounds. After his discharge, some excellent results in sandlot ball earned Shantz a contract with the Philadelphia Athletics (most teams passed on Shantz due to his size).  In his first season of pro-ball (1948 … for the Class A Lincoln A’s), Shantz went 18-7, with a 2.82 ERA and 212 strikeouts in 214 innings – showing great control and a baffling curve ball. Shantz was on his way. By 1951, he was an All Star for the Athletics, finishing the season 18-10, with a 3.94 ERA. The following season, he reached his peak. While the Athletics finished barely above .500 (79-75, fourth place), Shantz went 24-7, 2.48 – leading the league in wins and winning percentage and throwing 27 complete games in 33 starts.  The campaign was topped off when Shantz was named the AL MVP.

The following season, however, Shantz fell victim to a shoulder injury that would create problems for him on-and-off for the remainder of his career. In 1957, Shantz was included in a 13-player trade (Athletics and Yankees). He proved a valuable addition to the Bronx Bombers, going 11-5, with a league-low 2.45 ERA (30 games, 21 starts). That year, he made his third and final All Star squad. He also started Game Two of the 1957 World Series, taking the loss in a 4-2 Braves victory.

In addition to making it to the World Series, Shantz also started an enviable streak in 1957.  Remember the earlier note that Shantz was a natural athlete? Well, in 1957, the first Gold Gloves were awarded. In that initial year, one Gold Glove was awarded for each position (not one for each position in each league) and Shantz was the first pitcher to earn a Gold Glove. The following season, Gold Gloves were awarded by league and Shantz won the AL Gold Glove for pitchers in each of the next three seasons. He moved to the NL in 1961, and won four more consecutive Gold Gloves (1961-64).

So, as we look to the 1960 Expansion Draft, we find Shantz – at the time a former MVP, three-time All Star and four-time Gold Glover unprotected by the Yankees. Shantz was the first pick of the Senators, who – two days later – traded him to the Pirates. As a reliever and spot starter for Pittsburgh, Shantz went 6-3, 3.32, with two saves (43 games, six starts).

Then came the 1961 draft. The Pirates did not protect Shantz and the former MVP was again a “draftee,”  selected by the Houston Colt .45’s with the number-21 pick.  Shantz started the first-ever game for Houston (April 10, 1962), beating the Cubs 11-2 on a complete game five-hitter.  He got three starts for Houston (1-1, 1.31) before a May 7 trade to the Cardinals (for OF Carl Warwick and P John Anderson). Shantz had a solid season as a reliever for Saint Louis – 5-3, 2.18 with four saves, and finished out his career as a reliever with the Cardinals, Cubs and Phillies He retired after the 1964 season with a 119-99, 3.38 record (48 saves) in 16 seasons – and BBRT’s vote as the most interesting player in the first – and second – Expansion Drafts.


1961 MLB EXPANSION DRAFT ——————————–

Eddie  Bressoud – SS/2B/3B – First pick of the Colt. .45s, taken from the Giants.

The 29-year-old Bressoud had been utility infielder with the Giants (1956-61) – versatile and capable in the field, with a .239 career batting average. Like Bobby Shantz (see above), Bressoud was not to play a single game for the team that made him their first draft pick.  He was traded to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Don Buddin – which proved an unproductive move.  Buddin played in 40 games for the 1962 Colt .45s, hitting just .163 n 80 at bats before being moved to the Detroit Tigers for cash in mid-season. The slick-fielding Bressoud remained in the major leagues for six more seasons, making the AL All Star team in 1964, when he hit .293 in 158 games as the regular shortstop for the Red Sox. Bressoud closed out his MLB career as a member of the 1967 World Champion Cardinals.

Colt .45’s most interesting pick – Bobby Shantz, taken from the Pirates (see full story in box above).


Hobie Landrith – C – First pick of the Mets, taken from the Giants.

Hobie Landrith had a dozen MLB seasons under his belt (primarily as a backup catcher, although he did play in 100+ games in 1956 and 1959) when the Mets made him their first Expansion Draft pick.  When asked about the reasoning behind this first pick, Met’s manager Casey Stengel is famously said to have replied, “You have to have catchers or you’re going to have a lot of passed balls.”  Like so many of these first expansion picks, Landrith was not long for his new team.  He played in just 23 games for the Mets (.289-1-7) before being traded to the Orioles for future Mets’ “legend” Marvelous Marv Throneberry. Landrith only played one more season in the big leagues. Throneberry was with the Mets in 1962 and 1963 (his last MLB season) – hitting .240 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI in 130 games. Marvelous Marv later gained fame as a spokesperson for Miller Lite beer.

Mets’ most interesting pick – 1B Gil Hodges, taken from the Dodgers. 

The Mets took 37-year-old veteran 1B Gil Hodges from the Dodgers with the 14th pick of the 1961 draft – bringing a Brooklyn Dodgers fan favorite back to New York. Hodges was an eight-time All Star, all with Brooklyn. He was also a three-time Gold Glover – one with Brooklyn, two with Los Angeles.  At the time he was drafted, Hodges had a .276 career average, 361 home runs and 1,254 RBI.  Hodges got in just 65 games in two seasons with the Mets, hitting .248, with nine homers and 20 RBI.  Hodges, appropriately, did hit the first home run in Mets’ history – on April 11, 1962. He was traded to the Washington Senators (for OF Jimmy Piersall) on May 23, 1963 – immediately retiring as a player to take over as the Senators’ manager (the purpose of the trade.)

1968 EXPANSION DRAFT ————————————–

Ollie Brown – RF – First pick of the Padres, taken from the Giants.

Ollie “Downtown” Brown, a plus defender with a strong arm, was the first pick of the expansion Padres – and it worked out well for Brown and the team.  A part-timer with the Giants (181 games from 1965-68), Brown became a staple in the outfield for the Padres.  In 1969, he played in 151 games for San Diego, hitting .264, with 20 HR’s and 61 RBI.  He did even better the following season – .292-23-89 in 139 games. He was a regular in the Padres’ OF until he was traded to Oakland in 1972. Brown stayed in the majors through 1977 (13 seasons), putting up a career average of .265, with 102 home runs and 454 RBI.

Padres’ most interesting pick – 1B Nate Colbert, taken from the Houston Astros.

The Padres took Nate Colbert with the 18th pick of the 1968 Expansion Draft and, while he had a .133 average in 39 games with the Astros (1966 & 1968), he immediately began living up to his potential with the Padres. (In 1967-1968, Colbert had hit 42 home runs at Double A and Triple A). The 23-year-old hit .255 with 24 home runs and 66 RBI in his first season in San Diego and went on to earn three All Star berths and hit 163 home runs in six seasons for the team. His best season was 1972, when he went .250-38-111 for the Padres. Colbert gained further fame on August 1, 1972, when he hit a record-tying five home runs in a double header.  Adding to the “interest factor” for BBRT is the fact the only other time that feat was accomplished (by Stan Musial on May 2, 1954), Colbert (then 8-years-old) was in the stands.


Manny Mota – LF – First pick of the  Expos, taken from the Pirates.

Manny Mota, the Expos’ first-pick in the 1968 draft, played only 31 games for the team before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mota and Expos’ SS Maury Wills were traded to the Dodgers for OF/1B Ron Fairly and IF Paul Popovich in mid-June of the 1969 season. Mota was with the Dodgers until 1982 (an All Star in 1973), becoming one MLB’s most adept pinch hitters; while Wills (who started his career with the Dodgers) stayed with LA through the 1972 season. Fairly was a Montreal regular (and a 1973 All Star). In six seasons with the Expos, he hit .276, with 86 home runs and 331 RBI. Popovich was immediately traded to the Cubs for OF Adolfe Phillips and RHP Jack Lamabe. (Phillips hit .216 in 58 games for the Expos that season, Lamabe spent the season in the minors and never pitched in the major again.)

Expos’ most interesting pick – Maury Wills, taken from the Pirates.

The Expos selected Dodger SS Maury Wills with the 21st pick of the NL Expansion Draft.  The 36-year-old Wills was a five-time All Star, two-time Gold Glover, 1962 NL MVP and had led the NL in stolen bases six times. He’d spent most of his career with the Dodgers, but in the year preceding the Expansion Draft, he had hit .278, with 52 steals for the Pirates – who did not protect him in the draft. (Wills was traded by the Dodgers to the Pirates after the 1966 season, reportedly over a disagreement over payment for a team post-season tour of Japan.)  The 36-year-old Wills got into 47 games for the Expos (.222, 15 steals), before being traded back to his original team (the Dodgers), where he hit .297 with 25 more steals. Wills retired as a Dodger in 1972, with a .281 average and 586 stolen bases.


Roger Nelson – RHP – First pick of the Royals, taken from the Orioles.

Roger Nelson had gone 4-3, 2.41 in 19 games (six starts) for the Royals in 1968 – after starting the season 3-0, 1.29 at AAA Rochester. At 24-years-old, he already had 6 years of professional experience when the Mariners made him their first choice.  Nelson started 29 games for the Royals, going 7-13, 3.31. He was with the team for three more seasons, his best being 1972, when he went 11-6, 2.08 at a starter and reliever. After the 1972 season, he was traded (along with OF Richie Scheinblum) to the Reds for Of Hal McCrae and RHP Wayne Simpson. McCrae would spend 15 seasons with Kansas City, compiling a .293 average for the team, earning three All Star selections and leading the  AL in doubles twice (54 in 1977 and 46 in 1982) and RBI once (133 in 1982).

Royals’ most interesting pick – RHP Hoyt Wilhelm from the Chicago White Sox.

Future Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm was already 46-years-old, a four-time All Star and had appeared in more than 900 games when the Royals made him the 49th pick in the AL Expansion Draft. Who would have thought the ageless knuckleballer still had four seasons (including one All Star campaign) left in his arm. Apparently not the Royals, who quickly traded Wilhelm to the California Angels for a pair of catchers – Ed Kirkpatrick and Dennis Paepke. Kirkpatrick hit .248 with 56 home runs in six seasons with the Royals, while Paepke got in just 80 games (.183 average) in four Royals’ seasons. Wilhelm split the 1969 season with the Angels and Cubs, going 7-7, 2.19 (14 saves) in 52 appearances. In 1970, he split time with the Braves and Cubs, going 6-5, 3.40 with 13 saves and making his final All Star game. Wilhelm retired after the 1972 season (his 21st MLB campaign) having appeared in 1,070 games (none for the Royals), with a 143-122 record, 228 saves and a 2.52 career ERA.


Don Mincher – 1B – First pick of the Pilots, taken from the Angels.

Don Mincher had established himself as a steady source of power when the Seattle Pilots made him their first choice in the 1968 Expansion Draft. In nine MLB seasons (Washington/Minnesota/California), Mincher had hit .248, with 130 home runs (despite averaging just 98 games per season), topping 20 homers in a season three times. The 31-year-old played in 140 games for Seattle in 1969, hitting .246, with a team-leading 25 home runs and 78 RBI (second on the Pilots to Tommy Davis’ 80). The Pilots, of course, moved to Milwaukee (to become the Brewers) in 1970 – but Mincher did not make the trip. The Pilots’ leading source of power was traded (along with infielder Ron Clark) to the Oakland A’s for pitchers Lew Krausse and Ken sanders, OF Mike Hershberger and C Phil Roof.

Pilots’ most interesting pick –OF Lou Piniella taken from the Indians. 

Wow, the Pilots had several interesting picks – Mike Marshall, who would go on to set records for relief appearances in a season in both the NL and AL; two-time batting champ Tommy Davis; and a 28-year-old outfielder named Tommy Harper, who would lead the AL in stolen bases for the Pilots with 73 in 1969 and join the 30-30 (HR/SB) club in 1970.

For BBRT, their most interesting pick was a 25-year-old outfielder named Lou Piniella, taken from the Indians with the 28th pick. The Pilots traded Piniella to the Royals (appropriately on April Fool’s Day) before the season opened (for RHP John Gelnar and OF Steve Whitaker).  The Pilots looked a bit foolish when Piniella went on to earn Rookie of the Year honors with the Royals – and then enjoyed an 18-season MLB career (.291 average, 102 home runs, 766 RBI), as well as a long career as an MLB manager.

1976 EXPANSION DRAFT —————————–

Ruppert Jones – CF –  First pick of Mariners, taken from the Royals.

Ruppert Jones began his professional career at age 18 (1973), hitting .301 in 61 games for the Royals’ rookie-level Billings (Montana) Mustangs. The next season – at Class A – he hit .320 with 21 home runs and 24 stolen bases.  In 1975 and 1976, he held his own at AAA (.243-13-54, with 12 steals; .262-19-73, with 16 steals). In 1976, he was called up to the Royals and made his MLB debut in August, but hit just .216 in 28 games.  The Mariners, however, recognized Jones’ potential and made him their first choice.  In his initial season with Seattle, Jones got in 160 games, hitting .263, with 24 home runs, 76 RBI and 13 steals – earning his first of two All Star selections (he was also an All Star with the 1982 Padres). Jones was with the Mariners for three seasons, before being traded to the Yankees in a six-player deal in November of 1979. Jones hit.250 with 147 home runs and stole 143 bases in a 12-year MLB career.

Mariners’ most interesting pick – Outfielder Dave Collins, taken from the Angels.  

The Mariners used their number-14 pick in the 1976 Expansion Draft to add some speed to their roster – in the form of 24-year-old, switch-hitting outfielder Dave Collins. Collins had spent a good portion of the 1975-76 seasons with the Angels, getting into 192 games and hitting .265 with 56 stolen bases. In 1977, he hit .239 (120 games) for the Mariners, and swiped 25 bags.  After the season, the Mariners traded Collins to the Reds for LHP Shane Rawley. Collins went on to a 16-year MLB career in which he hit .272, with 395 steals (a high of 79 for the Red in 1980.)  Collins hit over .300 thee times, with 1980 his best overall season – .303 average, 79 steals, 94 runs scored.) What makes Collins most “interesting” to BBRT is that he is one of a handful of players who played in the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association (for retired and released players over age 35) and made it back to the major leagues.  (For the story on the SPBA, click here.)


Bob Bailor – Utility – First pick of the Blue Jays, taken from the Orioles.

In 1975 and 1976, Bob Bailor got the proverbial ”cup of coffee” in the big leagues – 14 games and 13 at bats with the Orioles. The versatile player had put up some pretty good minor league numbers – with a solid average and plenty of speed.  (In 1975, he hit .293 and swiped 21 bases at AAA.) Toronto made Bailor their first choice in the 1976 Expansion Draft and he responded with arguably his best MLB season, In 1977, Bailor put up a .310 average, with 5 home runs and 15 steals in 122 games; while playing all three OF spots and shortstop. Bailor hit.264 over an 11-year MLB career (four seasons with the Blue Jays) in which he spent time at every position except pitcher, catcher and first base.

Blue Jays’ most interesting pick – DH Rico Carty, taken from the Indians.  

While the Blue Jays went with diversity (of positions) with their first pick, their most interesting pick might have been a more limited player taken at number ten – Designated Hitter and former batting champ (.366 for the Braves in 1970) Rico Carty. Now here’s where (and why), it gets interesting – and yo-yo like.  The 37-year-old Carty was traded by the Blue Jays TO the Indians (for OF John Lowenstein and C Rick Cerone). Carty went on to a .280-15-80 season as the Indians’ primary DH. Then, during Spring Training 1978, the Blue Jays traded LHP Dennis DeBarr to the Indians FOR Carty.  The DH hit .284-20-68 for Toronto in 104 games before being traded TO the Oakland A’s (for DH Willie Horton and RHP Phil Huffman) in August.  In 41 games for Oakland, Carty hit .277 and added another 11 round trippers. That gave the DH a respectable .282-31-99 season. Then, in October 1978, the Blue Jays again ACQUIRED Carty (for cash this time). In 1979, with Toronto – his last MLB season –  Carty hit .256-12-55.  Carty probably should have retired one year earlier. In his 15-season MLB career, Carty hit .299 (204 home runs, 890 RBI). a .300 average would have been nice.

1992 EXPANSION DRAFT ———————————–

David Nied – RHP – First pick of the Rockies, taken from the Braves.

By the time of the 1992 draft, David Nied looked like a true prospect. In 1992, he had gone 14-9, 2.84 at Triple A and then 3-0, 1.17 in a call up to the Braves.  (In five minor league seasons, Nied had a 57-36 record, with a 3.26 ERA). The Rockies couldn’t resist and made Nied their number-one choice in the Expansion Draft. That first season, the 24-year-old Nied went 5-9, 5.17.He did start the first-ever Rockies’ game and pitch Colorado’s first-ever complete game and shutout.  The following year, he improved to 9-7, 4.80. Then in 1995, an elbow injury proved the first step in shortening his career (he was out of baseball by age 28).  In parts of four seasons with the high-air Rockies, Nied went 14-18, 5.47.

Rockies’ most interesting pick –  Vinny Castilla, taken from the Braves.

The Rockies used the number-forty pick to take a promising young (25-year-old) shortstop with just 21 games MLB experience from the Braves. His name was Vinny Castilla and in 105 games at SS for the Rockies in 1992, he hit .255, with nine home runs and 30 RBI – but there was much, much more to come. Castilla was moved to 3B and, in nine seasons with the Rockies, hit .294 with 239 home runs and 745 RBI – topping 40 HR’s three times and 100 RBI five times. Castilla had a 16-season MLB career, hitting .276, with 320 home runs and 1,105 RBI.


Nigel Wilson – OF – First pick of the  Marlins, taken from the Blue Jays.

Being the Mariners’ first choice in the 1992 Expansion Draft was one of the highlights of Nigel Wilson’s MLB career – which was comprised of 22 games and 36 plate appearances, over three seasons (1993-95-96) with three teams (Marlins, Reds, Indians). That’s not to say Wilson had not shown promise.  In 1992, he hit .274, with 26 home runs and 13 stolen bases at Double A Knoxville.  This after a .301 season (12 homers, 27 steals) at High A Dunedin in 1991.  In 1993, Wilson got in only seven games for the Marlins, going zero-for-sixteen – although he did hit .293 with 17 home runs and eight steals for the Marlins’ AAA farm club.  Somehow, that minor league success never translated to the majors. Wilson’s final MLB line shows a .086 average (3-for-35) with two home runs and five RBI. Wilson did go on to have three seasons of 30+ home runs in Japan.

Marlins’ most interesting pick – RHP Trevor Hoffman, taken from the Reds.

Yes indeed, the Reds left Trevor Hoffman (who would go on  log 601 MLB saves) unprotected in the 1992 draft – and the Marlins grabbed him with the number-eight pick. Hoffman had not yet pitched in the major leagues and, in 1992, he had gone 7-6, 3.41 as a starter and reliever at Double A and Triple A. While the Reds didn’t protect him, the Marlins didn’t keep him. (Two wrongs don’t make a right.) Hoffman got in 28 games for the Marlins (2-2, 3.28, 2 saves) before being traded to the Padres (along with two minor league pitchers) for Gary Sheffield and relief pitcher Rich Rodriguez. The rest is history, 601 career saves (552 with San Diego), seven All Star selections, 14 seasons of over 30 saves, with a high of 53 in 1998.  I don’t think Hoffman will be wearing a Marlins’ hat when the HOF finally calls.

1997 EXPANSION DRAFT ——————————————–

Tony Saunders – LHP – First Pick of the Devil Rays, taken from the Marlins.

Signed by the Marlins in 1992, Tony Saunders made it t0 the major leagues in 1997 – after several strong minor league seasons. Between 199 and 1996, Saunders went 34-15, with a 2.85 ERA in nearly 400 minor league innings.  In 1997, he went 4-6, 4.61 in 22 games (21 starts) for the Marlins – and got a start in both the National League Championship Series and World Series. In his first season with the Devil Rays, Saunders went 6-15, 4.12 in 31 starts. The following year, his last in the major leagues, he went 3-3, 6.43 – before a broken arm (May 26) cut his season (and eventually his career) short. (In 2000, he broke the arm again during a rehab assignment.)

Devil Rays’ most interesting pick – Brooks Kieschnick, taken from the Cubs.

Okay, I thought of going with Saunders – based on his pitching in the World Series shortly before being given up in the draft. However, I was afraid you’d think I was getting lazy (this is a pretty long post), so I went with Kieschnick.  You’d be right to ask why, particularly since Kieschnick spent all his time with the Devil Rays in their minor league system. Kieschnick piqued my interest because he was a bit of a jack of all trades.  In 2003, while with the Brewers, Kieschnick became the first player to hit home runs as a pitcher, designated hitter and pinch hitter in the same season. For his MLB career, Kieschnick played 784 games at pitcher, 50 in the outfield, four at DH and two at 1B – and none for the Devil Rays.


Brian Anderson – LHP – First pick of the Diamondbacks, taken  from the Indians.

Twenty-five-year-old southpaw Brian Anderson already had 58 major league appearances (20-16, 5.25 ERA) under his belt when the Diamondbacks made him their first choice in the 1997 draft. Like Devil Rays’ first pick Tony Saunders, Anderson pitched in the 1997 post season – making a combined six appearances in relief in the American League Championship Series and World Series. He pitched well in both, going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in ten innings. Still, like Saunders, he was left unprotected. The southpaw had a solid season for the expansion team in 1998, going 12-13, 4.33 in 32 starts. He stayed with Arizona for four more seasons ending his Diamondbacks’ tenure with a 41-32 record and 4.52 ERA. Anderson pitched for four teams in 13-season MLB career, going 82-83, 4.74.

Diamondback’s most interesting pick –  LHP Brian Anderson.

This is based on his World Series’ performance (see above) – just weeks before he was left unprotected in the draft.  Kind of a cop out, but I did need to recognize that the 1997 draft included two pitchers who, just weeks before, had been on the mound in the World Series.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Why We Watch Baseball – Always Something to See


clev2seatsThere are plenty of reasons to watch baseball.  You know what I’m talking about: The powerful bats of Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson; the glove work of Andrelton  Simmons and Kevin Kiermaier;  the speed of Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon; the mound work of Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arietta.  There are also the unfolding “stories” of rookies like Kevin Story and Jeremy Hazelbaker or veterans like Bartolo Colon and David Ortiz.

Yesterday, April 22, we saw examples of another group of reason we watch baseball –and should never leave early. I’m talking about those unique events and plays that make so many games memorable.

  • Fans in Chicago saw their White Sox complete a unique 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play. For those of you who don’t keep score, that means the ball went from the right fielder to the first baseman to the catcher to the shortstop back to the catcher and, finally, to the third baseman. It all started with the Texas Rangers having the bases loaded with no outs. The hitter (Mitch Moreland) lashed what looked to be base hit to right, only White Sox’ right fielder Adam Eaton ran it down. The runners were moving (assuming the safety), so Eaton fired to first baseman Jose Abreu, who put the tag on Texas’ returning base runner Ian Desmond (who overran the bag and was tagged out in foul territory). Abreu then threw to White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro (to prevent the runner on third from scoring). Navarro saw a Rangers’ base runner Adrian Beltre (who started the play on second base) stranded between second and third and fired to White Sox shortstop Tyler Saladino. At that point, Prince Fielder, the Texas runner at third, broke for home. So, Saladino threw back to Navarro, who threw to third baseman Todd Frazier to get the retreating Fielder for the final out of the triple play.  Great play, cast of thousands. THAT was worth the price of admission. (The White Sox, by the way, won the game 5-0.)

Any triple play news reminds BBRT of the time (July 17, 1990) that the Twins completed two traditional 5-4-3 triple plays in a game (the only time a team has achieved two triple play in  a single game) – and still lost 1-0. For the price of one admission, Boston fans got to enjoy the Fenway atmosphere, witness a home team victory and see history made.

  • Yesterday, fans in New York saw a little better base running than those in Chicago, as Yankees’ CF Jacob Ellsbury completed a clean steal of home in New York’s 6-3 win over the Rays. The steal came in the fifth inning off Rays’ starter Matt Moore.  With two out, Ellsbury and NY SS Didi Gregorius singled – and then were moved up to second and third on a balk. With LF Brett Gardner at the plate, the infield playing back and Moore pitching out of a full windup, Ellsbury saw an opportunity.  On a 3-1 count,  he broke for the plate as Moore went into his lineup.  Ellsbury was safe on a diving slide, and the pitch was ball four.  Again, that one play well worth the cost of a ticket.

Straight steals of home take BBRT back to 1969 when I was privileged to see Rod Carew steal home at old Met Stadium. (He swiped home seven times that season – one short of Ty Cobb’s AL and MLB record.) It also reminds me of the ironic (or iconic) fact that Babe Ruth stole home more times than Willie Mays or Maury Wills.

  • While fans in New York were treated to Ellsbury’s speed, Pittsburgh put on a power display last night. The Pirates 8-7 win over the Diamondback in Arizona featured home runs by SS Jordy Mercer, RF Gregory Polanco and 3B Sean Rodriguez. The special treat? They were three of the six longest home runs hit so far this season (as measured by Statcast). Mercer’s was the year’s longest at 466.1 feet; Polanco took over the number-five spot at 460.7 feet; and Rodriguez  powered in at number six at 458.5 feet. How likely was this? It was the first homer of the year for Mercer and Polanco and just the second for Rodriguez. Worth the price of admission? Maybe not in Arizona, but still a sight to see.

Back on September 14, 1987 – in an 18-3 win over the Orioles (in Toronto) – the Blue Jays hit a single-game record 10 home runs. The hitters:   C Ernie Whitt – 3 HR’s; 3B Rance Mulliniks – 2 HR’s; LF George Bell – 2 HRs; CF Lloyd Moseby; CF (replacement) Rob Ducey; DH Fred McGriff.  Love to have had that ticket.

Even as I write this post – while watching the Twins on TV – a unique point of interest is emerging. National’s starter Tanner Roark is pitching a two-hit shutout.  No so unusual, but he’s also fanned a dozen in just five innings.  And, he has already fanned every Twin in the starting lineup at least once.  History being made? Who knows.  Clearly a performance worth watching.

Interested is some baseball trivia and haven’t taken the BBRT quizzes yet?  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.

Rookies with 35 or More Home Runs – Could this be a Trevor Story?

StoryOne of the top “stories” (pun intended) of the 2016 MLB season has been Colorado Rockies’ rookie shortstop Trevor Story – just 14 games into the season, Story has an MLB-leading eight home runs. That got BBRT to thinking: How many long balls would Story need to put himself into a top-ten spot on the all-time rookie leader board?  It appears a season of 35 home runs would do it – and that reaching the mark can portend a pretty long and successful career.  Let’s take a look at the past rookies who have reached 35 home runs.






49 HR … Mark McGwire, 1B,  A’s, 1987 – Age at start of rookie season: 23

Mark McGwire, who played in just 18 games for the A’s in 1986 (three home runs, nine RBI), retained his rookie status for 1987 – and he made the most of it.  McGwire played in 151 games, hitting .289 with an MLB (and AL) rookie-record 49 home runs and 118 RBI.  His performance was good for an All Star berth and the AL Rookie of the Year award.  Note: In 1985 and 1986, McGwire had hit 47 home runs and driven in 218 at A-AA-AAA.

McGwire went on to hit 583 home runs and collect 1,414 RBI in 16 MLB seasons – leading his league in HR’s four times (high of 70 HR’s in 1991) and RBI once (high of 147 in 1998 and 1999). McGwire was a 12-time All Star.  Nickname: Big Mac.

A little known fact about Mark McGwire – he was an AL Gold glove winner in 1990.

38 HR … Wally Berger, LF, Braves, 1930 – Age at start of rookie season: 24

Although he moved to CF in 1931, Wally Berger started out in LF with the Braves. He made the team in 1930 – after hitting .355 with 40 round trippers in the Pacific Coast League (then AA) the year before.  In his MLB rookie season, Berger hit .310, with 38 home runs (tied for the NL Rookie record) and 119 RBI. The 38 home runs was Berger’s career high. Berger was a four-time All Star in his 11-season MLB career – during which he hit .300, with 242 HR’s and 898 RBI. In 1935, he led the NL with 34 HR and 130 RBI.

Berger was the starting CF for the NL in the first MLB All Star game (1933).

38 HR …. Frank Robinson, OF, Reds, 1956 – Age at start of season: 20

Frank Robinson broke onto the MLB scene as a 20-year-old in 1956 by hitting .290, with 38 home runs (tied for the NL rookie record) and 83 RBI.  (In three minor league seasons, Robinson hit .320, with 54 home runs.) Robinson was an All Star and NL Rookie of the Year in 1956 – and he never looked back, earning his way into the Hall of Fame.  He ended his career in 1976 with a .294 average, 586 home runs and 1,812 RBI. He was an All Star in 12 seasons and won just about every award possible: NL Rookie of the Year (1956); NL Most Valuable Player (1961); AL MVP (1966); World Series MVP (1966); All Star Game MVP (1971); AL Triple Crown (1966); Gold Glover (1958). Nickname(s): The Judge; Pencils.

Robinson was the first African-American manager in both the AL (Indians 1975) and NL (Giants 1981).

37 HR … Al Rosen, 3B, Indians, 1950 – Age at start of rookie season: 26

Rosen’s strong minor league numbers, .328 average and 86 homers in five minor league seasons, earned him a call up to the Indians in 1947-48-49.  His service was brief, however, 54 at bats in 35 games – and he retained his rookie status when he opened the 1950 campaign with Cleveland. Rosen clearly delivered on his promise in that rookie season – .327-37-116; and he scored 100 runs and drew 100 walks. Rosen played ten MLB seasons, hitting .285, with 192 HR’s and 717 RBI. His best season was 1953, when he hit .336, with 43 HR’s and 145 RBI – all career highs. Rosen was an All Star in four seasons and the 1953 AL MVP. He led the AL in runs scored once, home runs twice and RBI twice.  Nickname(s): Flip; The Hebrew Hammer.

How the (All Star) game has changed. In the 1954 All Star contest, Al Rosen played 1B and 3B, had three hits and a walk in five plate appearances, scored twice, drove in five runs and hit two homers – all while playing with a broken finger. Rosen is one of only five players to hit two home runs in an All Star Game (Arky Vaughn -1941; Ted Williams – 1946; Rosen- 1954; Willie McCovey – 1969; Gary Carter – 1981) and one of only two players to drive in five runs in an All Star Game (Ted Williams – 1946; Rosen – 1954).

37 HR … Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals, 2001 – Age at start of rookie season: 21

Albert Pujols started the 2001 season with the Cardinals – following just one minor league campaign (A – High A – AAA) in which he hit .314 with 19 homers and 98 RBI. The 21-year-old rookie did even better at the major league level, hitting .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI – earning a spot on the All Star team and the NL Rookie of the Year award. That began a string of ten consecutive seasons of a batting average of .300+, 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. He almost has an eleventh. In 2011, the string was broken when he went .299-37-99. As this post is being prepared, Pujols is still active (16th season), has been an All Star in ten seasons, NL MVP three times (2005, 2008, 2009) and a Gold Glover twice.  He has led his league in runs scored five times, hits once, doubles once, HR’s twice, RBI once and batting average once.  He has a career average of .311, 562 home runs and 1,708 RBI (all those may change by the time you read this.)  Nickname(s); Prince Albert; The Machine.

In 2002, Albert Pujols played first base, third base, shortstop, left field, right field and designated hitter for the Cardinals.

36 HR … Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox, 2014 – Age at start of rookie season: 27

Jose Abreu joined the White Sox in 2014 after ten seasons as a star in Cuba (640 games, .341 average, 178 home runs, 583 RBI). The White Sox’ investment paid immediate dividends, as the 27-year-old MLB rookie hit .317, with 36 home runs and 107 RBI – making the All Star team and earning AL Rookie of Year honors. Abreu, still active, followed that up with a .290-30-101 campaign in 2015.

In 2010, playing for Elefantes de Cienfuegos, Abreu hit .453 (66 games), with 33 homers and 93 RBI.  His batting average and home run totals for 2009-10-11 were, respectively: .399-30 in 89 games; .453-33 in 66 games; and .394-35 in 87 games.

35 HR … Hal Trosky, 1B, 1934 – Age at start of rookie season: 21

In 1933, Hal Trosky blossomed at AA Toledo, hitting .323 with 33 home runs in 132 games – earning a call up to the Indians during which he hit.295 in 11 games.  Still a rookie in 1934, Trosky got into 154 games and hit .330,with 35 home runs and 142 RBI. He went on to an 11-season MLB career, hitting .302, with 228 homers and driving in 1,012 runs.  His career-best season was 1936, when he hit.343, with 42 HR’s and 162 RBI.

Hal Trosky never made an All Star team – blame the likes of Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

35 HR … Rudy York, C/1B/3B, Tigers, 1937 – Age at start of rookie season: 23

Rudy York showed his power potential early.  As a 21-year-old he hit .301, with 32 home runs at A-level Beaumont; then, at 22, he hit .334 with 37 home runs at Milwaukee (AA). In 1937, he was in the big leagues to stay – and he responded with a .307 average, accompanied by 35 home runs and 101 RBI – all in just 104 games. York went on to a 13-year MLB career in which he was an All Star in seven seasons and hit .275 with 277 home runs and 1,149 RBI. In 1943, he led the AL in home runs (34) and RBI (118), while compiling a .271 average.

Rudy York has the distinction of being the only hitter ever struck out by Ted Williams. On August 24, 1940, Williams came in from the outfield and pitched the final two innings of a 12-1 Red Sox loss to the Tigers (in Boston). It was Williams’ only career pitching appearance (he gave up one run on three hits) and was historic for Rudy York because he became the only player ever struck out by Ted Williams (on three pitches). Ironically, York went 4-5 with a double, two singles, a home run, three runs scored and five RBI off the regular members of the Red Sox’ mound staff before facing Williams.

35 HR … Ron Kittle, OF, White Sox, 1983 – Age at start of rookie season: 25

In 1983, White Sox rookie OF Ron Kittle started off his MLB career with a bang – a .254-35-100 season and the AL Rookie of the Year award. Despite a steady show of power over 10 MLB seasons, Kittle would never again reach 35 homers or 100 RBI. He wrapped up his career in 1991, with a .239 average, 176 home runs and 460 RBI.

The year before Ron Kittle made the major leagues to stay, he destroyed Triple A pitching,  In 127 games for the Pacific Coast League Edmonton Trappers, he hit .345, with 50 home runs and 144 RBI.

35 HR … Mike Piazza, C, Dodgers, 1993 – Age at start of rookie season: 24

In 1992, Mike Piazza earned the proverbial cup of coffee in the major leagues by hitting .350, with 23 home runs and 90 RBI at AA and AAA.  In 21 games with the Dodgers, he hit .232 with just one home run. 1993 would be a different story.  Piazza hit .318, with 35 homers and 112 RBI for the Dodgers – earning All Star recognition and NL Rookie of the Year honors. The ride continued for 14 more seasons – all the way to the Hall Of Fame.  While he never led his league in any category, Piazza was an exceptional offensive performer – an All Star in 12 seasons and nine-times a Silver Slugger Award winner. He retired after  the 2007 season with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI. Piazza topped 30 HR’s nine times, 100 RBI six times and a .300 average ten times. He holds the record for home runs as a catcher at 396.

Mike Piazza is lowest MLB Draft pick to make the Hall of Fame. He was chosen in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft – which means 1,389 played were chosen ahead of him.


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