Welcome to Whiff City – 35 Punch Outs in Scherzer No-Hitter

Max Scherzer - Fans 17 in second no-hitter, 18 Nationals also go down on strikes.

Max Scherzer – Fans 17 in second no-hitter, 18 Nationals also go down on strikes.

Yesterday (October 3, 2015), Nationals’ right-hander Max Scherzer (the 2013 Cy Young Award winner – while with the Tigers) threw his second no-hitter of the 2015 season – beating the Mets 2-0 (second game of a double header) in New York. Which game it was doesn’t matter, but I seldom get a chance to use the phrase “double header” these days.  Scherzer is on one of just five pitchers to throw two no-hitters in the same regular season, joining Johnny Vander Meer (Reds-1938), Allie Reynolds (Yankees-1951), Virgil Trucks (Tigers-1952), and Nolan Ryan (Angels-1973), In addition, Roy Halladay threw a regular-season and post-season (NL Division Series) no-hitter for the Phillies in 2010. BBRT Note: Vander Meer’s no-hitters came in consecutive starts, the only consecutive no-hitters by a pitcher in MLB history.

In both of his 2015 no-hitters, Scherzer was just one mistake away from a perfect game. On June 20, Scherzer had a 6-0 lead and a perfect game with two outs in the ninth against the Pirates. He got within one strike of perfection, running up a 2-2 count on pinch hitter Jose Tabata. Tabata then fouled off three pitches before Scherzer hit him on the elbow with a breaking ball. Mad Max retired the next hitter (2B Josh Harrison) to preserve the no-hitter, but that perfect game was oh, so close. There wasn’t as much tension in yesterday’s missed “perfecto.”  The only base runner came on a throwing error by National’s 3B Yunel Escobar in the sixth inning. For more from BBRT on near perfect games, click here. 

Here are a few other stats from Scherzer’s no-hitter against the Mets.

  • Scherzer fanned 17 batters in the game, tying Nolan Ryan for the most strikeouts in a no-no. Ryan walked four in his 17-strikeout no-hitter on July 15, 1973; which also happened to be Ryan’s second no-hitter of the season.
  • Scherzer’s 17 strikeouts were the most ever in a no-hitter without a walk. The record had been held by the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who fanned 15 in a June 18, 2014, no-hitter. The only opposition base runner to reach in Kershaw’s game came on an error by Dodgers’ SS Hanley Ramirez.
  • Strikeouts were the name of the game in Scherzer’s no-no. In addition to Scherzer’s 17 punch outs, four Mets’ hurlers combined to whiff 18 Nationals’ batters – setting a new combined MLB record of 35 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
  • Scherzer went one-for-three at the plate (just more on why I hate the DH).
  • Scherzer struck out every member of the Mets’ starting nine at least once – except for pitcher Matt Harvey (who only batted once).
  • Scherzer struck out at least one hitter every inning, and appeared to get stronger as the game went on. He fanned nine over the first six innings – and eight over the final three. (Scherzer threw 109 pitches, 80 for strikes.)

Scherzer’s masterpiece was the seventh no-hitter of 2015, one short of the MLB record of eight, set in in 1884 (four in the American Association, two in the Union Association, two in the National League). This season’s seven no-hitters ties the modern era (post-1900) record – reached in 1990, 1991 and 2012.

No Hitters in Both Leagues

Five pitchers have thrown no-hitters in both the NL and AL – and five catchers have caught no-hitters in both leagues.

The Pitchers:

Nolan Ryan: Seven total no-hitters: AL … California Angels (4) and Texas Rangers (2); NL …  Houston Astros (1)

Cy Young: Three total no-hitters; AL …  Boston Americans/Red Sox (2); NL … Cleveland Spiders (NL).

Jim Bunning: NL … Philadelphia Phillies; AL … Detroit Tigers.

Hideo Nomo: NL … Los Angeles Dodgers; AL … Boston Red Sox.

Randy Johnson:  AL … Seattle Mariners; NL … Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Catchers

Gus Triandos:  AL … Baltimore Orioles (Hoyt Wilhelm, 1958); NL … Philadelphia Phillies (Jim Bunning, 1964).

Jeff Torborg: NL … Los Angeles Dodgers (Sandy Koufax, 1965); AL … California Angels (Nolan Ryan, 1973).

Darrell Porter: AL … Kansas City Royals (Jim Colborn, 1977); NL … St. Louis Cardinals (Bob Forsch, 1983).

Ron Hassey: AL … Cleveland Indians (Len Barker, 1981); NL … Montreal Expos (Dennis Martinez, 1991). BBRT Note: Both of these were perfect games, making Hassey the only player to catch two MLB perfect games.

Drew Butera: AL  …Minnesota Twins (Francisco Liriano, 2011); NL … Los Angeles Dodgers (Josh Beckett 2014).


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Rliquary; Baseball Bloggers Allliance.

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September – Inside the Park Grand Slams … Inside the Park Births … and More

The September stretch run is complete – but there is still meaningful baseball to be played in the first few days of October – particularly in the AL, where Houston is within striking distance of the Rangers (2 ½ games behind) for the West Division title and the Angels and Twins are hot on the heels of the Astros for the final Wild Card spot.

Cubs won more than any other team in September.

Cubs won more than any other team in September.

Baseball’s hottest team in September was the surging Cubs, who went an MLB-best 19-9 (.657). The Cubs did it with pitching – sporting MLB’s lowest ERA (2.73 for the month), led by Jake Arrieta, who went 4-0, with a minuscule 0.45 September ERA.  The Cubs gave up the fewest runs in baseball in September (92), while scoring the fifth-most (141). Other teams with strong Septembers were the Angels and Blue Jays (each at 18-9), and the Rangers (18-10). The worst September won-lost marks went to the Oakland A’s in the AL (8-19) and the San Diego Padres in the NL (9-18). The Padres did, however, record the highest number of in-stadium births (more to come on that).  BBRT will look a bit deeper into September team performance later in this monthly update, but first let’s consider where things stood as of “the end of business” on September 30 – and touch on a few September events that caught BBRT’s eye.

If the Season Ended September 30 …

There are still a few post season spots to be determined, but if the end of September marked the end of the regular season, here’s how the playoffs would look:

  • AL … Division Champions: Blue Jays; Royals; Rangers. Wild Cards: Yankees, Astros. Note: The Angels are just ½ game behind the Astros in the race for the final Wild Card spot – with the Twins 1 ½ games back of Houston.
  • NL … Division Champions: Mets; Cardinals; Dodgers. Wild Cards: Pirates, Cubs.

You will find full end-of-September standings at the end of this post.

 A Few September “Events” That Caught BBRT’s Attention

 The Three R’s – Reds’ Rookie Rotation

On September 11, when Reds’ rookie pitcher Michel Lorenzen took the mound against the Cardinals in Cincinnati, it marked the 42nd consecutive game in which the Reds started a rookie hurler (an MLB record). The previous high of 41 was set by the 1902 Cardinals.  Lorenzen, by the way, went just five innings, giving up two runs on ten hits – but got the win.

The Reds have boasted (if that’s the right word) an all-rookie rotation since trading veteran starters Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake before the July 31 trading deadline.  The last non-rookie to start for the Reds was Leake on July 28.  At the close of September, the Reds had expanded their record to 60 consecutive rookie starts (19 wins, 41 losses over that time), and should reach 64 by season’s end.

David Ortiz Joins 500 Club

Newest member of the 500 Home Run Club.

Newest member of the 500 Home Run Club.

On September 12, as the Red Sox pasted the Tampa Bay Rays 10-4, David Ortiz bashed a pair of round trippers – the 499th and 500th of his career (33rd and 34th of 2015).

Ortiz is 27th player to reach the 500-home run mark and the fourth player to collect number 500 in a multi-homer game – joining Harmon Killebrew, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols.  For more on Ortiz and the other 500 Club members click here.

 Send the Lefty to Right

We’ve read a lot about position players taking the mound this season. In the September 15th Rockies/Dodgers contest (won by the Rockies 5-4 in 16-innings), we learned that “turnabout is fair play,” as Rockies’ southpaw hurler Jason Gurka was called on to finish the game in right field after a Carlos Gonzalez injury. The real story here, however, is the “everyone gets to play” records that were tied or broken.

  • The Rockies’ used 30 players in the game (only in September), tying the MLB single-game record.
  • The Rockies’ set an MLB single-game record using 13 pitchers;
  • The teams used a combined 58 players and 24 pitchers – both MLB single-game records.

The five-hour and 23-minute game also featured 11 pinch-hitters and three pinch-runners, 24 hits, nine walks and four errors.

I’m just thankful I wasn’t keeping score.

Making an Entrance

Young Levi Stiles knows how to make a grand entrance. Levi was born on Thursday, September 24, during the Padres/Giants game at Petco Park.  Key words here AT PETCO PARK. For those of you who track such things (and we do track everything in baseball), Levi came into the world:

  • At 6-pounds-14-ounces, 20.5 inches;
  • In the bottom of the third inning, with the Padres leading 3-2;
  • On a gurney near the team store in Petco’s Palm Court Plaza.

San Diego eventually won the game 5-4 on a pinch-hit RBI single by Alexi Amarista in the bottom of the ninth (Levi had left early.).  The announced attendance of 31,137 was reported to be off by one – paid attendance could be on the money.  Levi Stiles is now the youngest fan ever to attend a MLB game, a record that could be tied, but will never be broken.

A-Rod Continues His “Comeback” Season

A-Rod ... another step up the stat ladder.

A-Rod … another step up the stat ladder.

On the same night (September 24) that Levi Stiles was born at Petco Park, Yankee DH Alex Rodriguez walked in the third inning and came around to score on a Carlos Beltran home run. The run – part of a 3-2 Yankee home win over the White Sox – made A-Rod  just the eighth MLB player to reach 2,000 runs, as well as just the second player (Hank Aaron was the first) to reach 3,000 hits, 2,000 RBIs and 2,000 runs scored in their career.

Notably, Rodriguez reached all three landmarks … 2,000-runs, 2,000-RBI and 3,000-hits … this season – his 21st MLB campaign.

KC Grabs First Division Title Since 1985

When the Royals topped the Mariners 10-4 on September 24th, they clinched their first division title since 1985.  Why does BBRT put that here?  So I can add the fact that the Royals were the first expansion team to capture a Division Title (1976); League Pennant (1980); and World Series Championship (1985) – all in different seasons.

The “In’s” and “Out’s” of the Power Game

On September 25, Phillies’ rookie LF Aaron Altherr had quite a game – going 4-for-5, with two runs scored and five driven in. He added to the excitement with a pair of home runs – one of the traditional “it’s outta here” mode and one (a Grand Slam) of the “run-like the wind” inside-the-park variety.  The Phillies rode Altherr’s big game to an 8-2 win over the Nationals in Washington.  Altherr’s 11 total bases in the game, incidentally, matched the Nationals’ team total. 

Home Cookin’

Dallas Keuchel - unbeatable at home this year.

Dallas Keuchel – unbeatable at home this year.

Here’s a couple of examples of sweet home cooking. Astros’ ace southpaw Dallas Keuchel topped the Rangers (in Houston) 4-2 on September 27, going seven innings and giving  up just two hits and one run, while fanning ten Texas hitters. In the process, Keuchel set a record for the most home victories without a loss in an MLB season.  Keuchel, 19-8 on the season, is 15-0 at home this year.  Through September, the Cy Young Award candidate’s home record is 15-0, with a 1.46 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings pitched. Away from Minute Maid Park, Keuchel is 4-8, 3.82, with 74 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings. If Houston makes the post-season, look for Keuchel to start at home.

Jose Fernandez - The King of Marlins Park

Jose Fernandez – The King of Marlins Park

On September 25, the Marlins topped the Braves (at Marlins Park) by a score of 12-11. Miami starting pitcher Jose Fernandez gave up six runs on nine hits in just five innings – but still made a bit of pitching history. Fernandez got the victory (running his record to 6-0 on the season). On a more historic note, the 22-year-old right-hander earned his 17th  career home victory – without a home loss – becoming the first MLB pitcher to win his first 17 home decisions.  Fernandez has made 26 career starts at Marlins Park, where he has a 1.40 ERA.  In 21 road starts, Fernandez is 5-9, 3.78.

STATS TIME (or time to stop reading if stats don’t grab you)  

A Few Team Observations

As of the end of play on September 30, the Cardinals (.629) and Pirates (.604) were the only teams playing .600 or better ball – and only the Cardinals had 100 victories (100-59). The best record in the AL belonged to the Blue Jays (92-66, .582). Only two teams played under .400 ball through September: The Phillies (61-97, .386) and the Reds (63-95, .399). The worst winning percentage in the AL belonged to the A’s (66-93, .415).

A sampling of team stats through- and in-September:

  • The Blue Jays continued to lead all of MLB in runs scored with 873 – 122 ahead of the closest challenger (the Yankees at 751). The Jays were also September’s top scoring team with 153 runs in the month, two ahead of the Red Sox and Rangers. The top scoring team in the NL through September was the Cubs (713 runs), while the Mets led the NL in September tallies with 148. The Braves were MLB’s lowest-scoring team through September (561 runs), as well as in September (just 85 runs, the only team under 100). In the AL, The White Sox scored the fewest runs through September at 612, while Detroit scored the fewest in September at 112.
  • The Cardinals gave up the fewest runs through September (513), and had MLB’s lowest ERA (2.91, the only team under 3.00). In the AL, the Astros had the lowest total runs allowed and best ERA at 606 and 3.57, respectively. The leaders for the month of September were a bit surprising. The Cubs at 2.73 and the Mariners at 3.47 had the NL’s and AL’s lowest September ERAs.
  • Through September, only the Rockies carried an ERA above 5.00 (5.05). The Tigers had the AL’s worst ERA at 4.69.
  • Toronto led all of MLB in home runs through September at 227.  Notably (thanks DH), all four teams with 200+ homers through September were in the AL (Blue Jays, Astros, Orioles, Yankees). The Dodgers led the NL with 183 round trippers. Least power?  The Braves were the only team with less than 100 long balls, 96. The White Sox trailed in the AL with 136 homers.  The Astros topped all teams in September HRs with 44, while the Mets led the NL with 42. The Braves (13) and the Tigers (18) were the only teams with less than 20 September dingers.

Now, here are your month-of-September and through-September batting and pitching leaders:

Month-of-September Batting Leaders

In September, only the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo topped .400 (.404 for the month), and he turned those hits into tallies, tying for the MLB lead in September runs scored.  If I had to pick my hitters of the month. I’d go for a two-way tie in each league.  In the NL, the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (.341-10-19) and Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (.339-11-32). In the AL, the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (.327-4-29) and the surprising Chris Davis (for his average) of the Orioles (.295-10-20). Harper, Arenado and Davis were the only players with double-digit home runs in September; Arenado and Beltre were 1&2 in RBI for the month; and Harper led the NL in runs scored.

There were some unexpected names on the September leader board: Martin Prado (.395 average); Greg Bird (8 HR); Justin Bour (25 RBI).

Here’s the list of in-September batting leaders.

AVERAGE (minimum 75 plate appearances)


Shin-Soo Choo, RF ,  Rangers – .404

Mookie Betts, CF, Red Sox – .389

Adam Eaton, CF, White Sox – .373


Martin Prado, 3B, Marlins – .395

Yunel Escobar, 3B, Nationals – .365

Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins – .343



Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 11

Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals – 10

Four with nine


Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles – 10

Joe Bautista, RF, Blue Jays – 9

Mike Trout, CF, Angels – 8

Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees – 8



Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers – 29

David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox – 25

Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays – 25

Prince Fielder, DH, Rangers – 25


Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 32

Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins – 25

Carlos Gonzalez, RF, Rockies – 24



Sin-Soo Choo, RF, Rangers – 26

Mookie Betts, CF, Red Sox – 26

Xander Bogaerts,SS, Red Sox – 23


Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals – 25

Matt Carpenter, 3B, Cardinals – 22

Christian Yelich, LF, Marlins – 22



Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins – 11

Ender Inciarte, RF, D-backs – 8

Angel Pagan, CF, Giants – 6

Charlie Blackmon, CF, Rockies – 6


Kevin Pillar, CF, Blue Jays – 8

Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers – 7

Ben Revere, LF, Blue Jays – 6

Month-of-September Pitching Leaders

We saw three five-game winners in September: David Price (Blue Jays) and Cody Anderson (Indians) in the AL and, of course, Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) in the senior circuit.  Still the mound star of the month had to be the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, who became the first pitcher to 20 wins this season and went 4-0 for September with a 0.45 ERA, giving up just 2 earned runs in 40 innings and notching 39 strikeouts versus just four walks.  Arrieta is just continuing on from his sterling August, when he went 6-0 with a 0.43 ERA.  He has, in fact, given up just four runs in 82 1/3 innings over his last 11 starts.



Cody Anderson, Indians – 5-0, 1.38 ERA

David Price, Blue Jays – 5-0, 2.32

Five with four victories


Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 5-1, 1.84 ERA

Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 4-0, 0.45

Zack Grienke, Dodgers – 4-0, 2.04

Gerrit Cole, Pirates – 4-1, 3.29

ERA (minimum 20 innings pitched in the month)


Rich Hill, Red Sox – 1.17

Cody Anderson, Indians – 1.38

Jose Quintana, White Sox – 1.50


Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 0.45

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – 1.48

John Lackey, Cardinals – 1.78



Rick Porcello, Red Sox – 45 (43 1/3 IP)

Drew Smyly, Rays – 45 (36 IP)

Carlos Carrasco, Indian – 43 (25 2/3)


Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 58 (44 IP)

Max Scherzer, Nationals – 50 (41 2/3)

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – 50 (30 1/3)



Houston Street, Angels – 9

Andrew Miller, Yankees – 8

Brad Boxberger, Rays – 7


Mark Melancon, Pirates – 8

Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers – 7

Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 7

John Axford, Rockies – 7

A.J. Ramos, Marlins – 7


And now the MLB Leaders Through September



Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals – .331

Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins – .331

Buster Posey, C, Giants – .321


Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers – .334

Xander Bogaerts, SS. Red Sox – .323

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros – .310



Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles – 45

Nelson Cruz  RF, Mariners – 44

Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays – 41

Mike Trout, CF, Angels – 41


Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 41

Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals – 41

Carlos Gonzalez RF, Rockies – 40



Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 127

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-backs – 106

Matt Kemp, RF, Padres – 100


Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays – 123

Jose Bautista, RF. Blue Jays – 113

Chris Davis, 1B. Orioles – 112 



Josh Donaldson, 3B. Blue Jays – 122

Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays – 107

Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins – 101

Mike Trout, CF, Angels – 101


Bryce Harper, CF, Nationals – 117

A.J. Pollock, CF, D-backs – 107

Matt Carpenter, 3B, Cardinals – 101



Billy Hamilton, CF, Reds  – 57

Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins – 56

Charlie Blackmon, CF, Rockies – 42


Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros – 38

Lorenzo Cain, CF, Royals – 28

Billy Burns, CF, A’s – 26

Jarrod Dyson, RF, Royals – 26

Through September Pitching Leaders



Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 21-6 (1.83 ERA)

Gerrit Cole, Pirates – 19-8 (2.60)

Zack Greinke, Dodgers – 18-3 (1.68)

Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 18-9 (2.93)


Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 19-8 (2.47)

Felix Hernandez, Mariners – 18-9 (3.53)

David Price, Tigers/Blue Jays – 18-5 (2.45)

Collin McHugh, Astros – 18-7 (3.98)



Zack Greinke, Dodgers – 1.68

Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 1.82

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.16


David Price, Tigers/Blue Jays – 2.45

Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 2.47

Sonny Gray, A’s – 2.73



Chris Sale, White Sox – 267 (201 2/3 IP)

Chris Archer, Rays – 248 (207 IP)

Corey Kluber, Indians – 236 (214 IP)


Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 294 (229 IP)

Max Scherzer, Nationals – 259 (219 2/3 IP)

Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 234 (218 1/3 IP)



Brad Boxberger, Rays – 40

Huston Street, Angels – 40

Andrew Miller, Yankees – 36


Mark Melancon, Pirates – 51

Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals – 48

Jeurys Familia, Mets – 42




To close, here are the MLB standing as of September 30



Blue Jays         92-66   .582

Yankees           86-72   .544     6.0

Red Sox           78-80   .494     14.0

Orioles             77-81   .487     15.0

Rays                77-81   .487     15.0


Royals             91-67   .576

Twins              82-76   .519     9.0

Indians            78-79   .497     12.5

White Sox       74-84   .468     17.0

Tigers               73-85   .471     18.0


Rangers           86-72   .544

Astros              84-75   .528     2.5

Angels             83-75   .525     3.0

Mariners          75-84   .472     11.5

A’s                  66-93   .415     20.5


Mets                89-69   .563

Nationals         80-78   .506    9.0

Marlins            69-89   .437    20.0

Braves             64-94   .405     25.0

Phillies            61-97   .386     28.0


Cardinals         100-59 .629

Pirates             93-63   .604     4.0

Cubs                93-65   .589     6.5

Brewers            68-90   .430     31.5

Reds                63-95   .399     36.5


Dodgers            88-70   .557

Giants              83-75   .525     5.0

D-backs           77-81   .487     11.0

Padres             73-85   .462     15.0

Rockies             66-92   .418     22.0


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

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Satchel Paige – His Last MLB Innings – Fifty Years Ago Today



Fifty years ago today (September 25, 1965), a true baseball legend did something truly legendary. Leroy “Satchel” Paige took the mound in a regular season major league game for the last time – at the (conservatively reported) age of 59.

It was the final day of the season and the Kansas City Athletics and Boston Red Sox were playing a relatively meaningless game in Kansas City.  A’s owner Charles Finley decided that Paige – who had not pitched in the majors since 1953 – might be just the “ticket” to boost attendance for the final contest.  (Finley had contacted Paige a few days earlier and Satchel had agreed to make an appearance – which would earn the popular Paige the title of the oldest player ever to appear in an MLB game.)

Paige had, of course made a name for himself, long before he ever made it to the big leagues.  (Paige became baseball’s oldest-ever rookie in 1948 – the year after Jackie Robinson broke through MLB’s color line – signing with the Cleveland Indians and going 6-1, with a 2.47 ERA at the age of 42.)

He started his professional career with the Chattanooga Black Lookouts in the Negro Southern League in 1926 and went on to pitch for the Birmingham Black Barons, Baltimore Black Sox, Nashville Elite Giants , Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords and Kansas City Monarchs – as well as in Mexico, Cuba and the Dominica Republic and with a mixed-race team in Bismarck, North Dakota. When he wasn’t pitching for those teams, he caught on with or led “barnstorming” teams – often playing against, and defeating, teams boasting some of major league baseball’s best players.

How good was Satchel Paige?  Here’s what a few major league Hall of Famers had to say about him.

Joe DiMaggio called him “the best and fastest pitcher I ever faced” … and said that once he got a hit off Paige he knew he was ready for the major leagues.

Casey Stengel said “He threw the ball as far from the bat and as close to the plate as possible”

Dizzy Dean was pretty impressed as well  … “My fastball looks like a change of pace alongside that little pistol bullet Satchel shoots up to the plate.”

Hack Wilson agreed with Dean’s assessment of the Paige heater, saying “It starts out like a baseball and, when it gets to the plate, it looks like a marble.”

And HOFers like Bob Feller and Ted Williams simply labeled Paige one of, if not the, greatest pitchers in the game.

How popular was Paige? He had been one of the greatest draws in the Negro Leagues and on the barnstorming circuit and his first start in Cleveland drew 72,434 fans (more than double the Indians’ average attendance of 33,598 for the season).

Between 1948 and 1953 Paige played in five MLB seasons – for the Indians and Saint Louis Browns – primarily as a relief pitcher, making the All Star team in 1952 and 1953. Although he played professionally (Negro Leagues and Minor Leagues) and returned to barnstorming after 1953, Paige did not play in another MLB game until his start for the Athletics in 1965.

And just how did that historic appearance go?   Off the diamond, comically, with Paige (always the showman) spending the pre-game time in a rocking chair being attended to by a nurse.  On the field, he may not have thrown as hard, but witnesses say the pinpoint control was still there.  Paige pitched three scoreless innings, just 28 pitches, and gave up just one hit – a double to Carl Yastrzemski. For you trivia buffs, Yaz got the final hit off of Paige and the opposing pitcher Bill Monboquette was Paige’s final MLB strikeout victim (in the third inning).

You could fill books with Paige’s  philosophical quotes.  One of my favorites is “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”  Well, fifty years ago today, age didn’t matter to Satchel Paige.

Paige took the mound – fifty-nine years young.

Then he limbered his arm – and got the job done.

Yaz may have doubled, but no one else did much.

As Ol’ Satch proved to them all that he still had the touch.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT.

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

Seaver and Cone – Good Timing in the Big Apple

Timing may not be everything, but it can really “be something special.” In this post, BBRT looks at a couple of very well timed pitching performances – Tom Seaver’s 19-strikeout effort in 1970 and David Cone’s 1999 perfect game.

April 22, 1970 – Shea Stadium – Tom Terrific for the Record


On April 22, 1970, before an Astros/Padres game at Shea Stadium, Mets’ starting pitcher (and future Hall of Famer) Tom Seaver was officially presented with his 1969 Cy Young Award (his first of three CYAs).  In 1969, Seaver’s third major league season, he had gone 25-7, with a 2.21 ERA and 208 strikeout in 273 1/3 innings pitched. BBRT note: Seaver would go on to win 311 MLB games (20 seasons) versus 205 losses, win twenty or more in a season five times, post a career 2.86 ERA and strike out 3,640 batters in 4,783 innings pitched. He would lead his league in wins three times, winning percentage once, ERA three times, strikeouts five times, complete games once and shutouts three times – while being selected to a dozen All Star squads (as well as 1967 NL Rookie of the Year).

On April 22, 1970, however, the timing was right for the 25-year-old right-hander not only to receive his 1969 Cy Young Award, but to prove the previous campaign was no fluke – and he did just that, in style.

It was Seaver’s fourth start of the young season and he came into the game with a 2-0 record, a 2.55 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings pitched. Opposing Seaver on the mound was Padres’ righty Mike Corkins – 0-1, with a 6.23 ERA.

The contest proved to be a true pitchers’ duel.  After five innings, the Met’s held a 2-1 lead (the eventual final score). Seaver had given up just two hits and one run (on a second-inning home run by Padres’ LF Al Ferrara). Seaver had fanned nine hitters in just five innings – but the best was yet to come.  Corkins, by the way, was also pitching a solid game – working his way into and out of trouble.  Through five innings, he had given up two runs on four hits and three walks (one intentional), while fanning two. (He would end up going seven innings and giving up just two runs.)

In the bottom of the sixth, Seaver got the first hitter on a foul pop up and the second (CF Cito Gaston) on a fly out to right.  That would be the last Padres’ hitter to put a ball in play.  Seaver recorded the third out in the sixth by fanning Al Ferrara (he of the second inning homer) on a called third strike. Seaver then went on to strike out the side in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth – with the final out and strikeout of the game being, appropriately, Ferrara.

So, on the day he was presented his Cy Young Award, Seaver got a win, threw a complete game two-hitter, tied the MLB nine-inning game strikeout record at 19 (later surpassed by Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood) and set the single-game consecutive strikeout record (which still stands) at ten.  Good timing, Tom Terrific.

July 18, 1999 – Yankee Stadium – David Cone’s “Perfect” Timing


On July 18, 1999, the New York Yankees held Yogi Berra Day.  As part of the pre-game festivities, the fans were treated to former Yankee Don Larsen throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Berra – reuniting the battery for the most famous (and only World Series) perfect game ever pitched (October 8, 1956).  The 41,390 fans in attendance had no idea of the treat that was yet to come.

On the mound for the Yankees that day was right-hander David Cone, who came into the contest with a  9-4 record and a 2.86 ERA.  Opposing Cone was the Montreal Expos’ Javier Vazquez (2-4, 6.63).

The game started out routinely enough.  The Expos went down in order in the top of the first inning (strikeout, fly out, fly out). The Yankees went scoreless in the bottom of the inning (leadoff hitter Chuck Knoblauch hit by pitch, followed by a fly out and two infield ground outs). The Expos went quietly again in the second (strikeout, groundout, groundout), but the Yankees exploded for five runs in the bottom of the inning  – a frame which included home runs by LF Rickey Ledee and SS Derek Jeter.  After that it was clearly “game on” for Cone, as he struck out the side (in order) on 12 pitches in the top of the third.

The rest, as they say, is history.  The Yankees won 6-0 and Cone pitched a perfect game (still the only one in  an interleague contest) – on the day when Don Larsen (who tossed the only World Series perfecto) tossed out the first pitch.  Cone used just 88 pitches to record his 27 outs, throwing 68 for strikes (he fanned ten Expos).  Cone’s 88 pitches are the second-fewest ever in a perfect game (Addie Joss had a 74-pitch perfect outing in 1908.)

BBRT note:  Cone’s perfecto almost didn’t make it into the books – the game was delayed for 33 minutes by rain in the bottom of the third inning.

Cone ended the 1999 season – the 36-year-old’s 14th MLB campaign – 12-9, with a 3.44 ERA. His career stats were 194-126, 3.46, with 2,668 strikeouts in 2,898 2/3 innings pitched. In his career, he was a two-time 20-game winner, won the 1994 Cy Young Award (while with the Royals), led his league in wins once, winning percentage once and strikeouts twice. In 1992, he led MLB in strikeouts with 261, without leading either league (214 for the Mets, 47 for the Blue Jays). Cone was a five-time All Star.

Clearly, in 1999, he picked a “perfect” day to put it all together – with Berra and Larsen “in the building.”

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

The 500-HR Club – Fun Facts & Stats

David Ortiz - newest member of 500-HR Club

David Ortiz – newest member of 500-HR Club

On September 3, Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz became just the 27th MLB player to collect 500 home runs – leading off the fifth inning of a game at Tampa Bay with a 432-foot solo shot to right-center off the Rays’ Matt Moore. It was the 39-year-old Ortiz’ second home run of the game, making him one of just four players to collect number 500 in a multi-homer effort (joining Harmon Killebrew, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols). Ortiz also had a three-run homer and a single in the game (before being lifted for a pinch runner in the seventh), and is one of just three players to collect three hits in their 500th home run game (joining Harmon Killebrew and Alex Rodriguez).  Ortiz’ landmark long ball got BBRT thinking about (and researching) the 500-HR Club and its elite membership.  Here’s are the highlights of what I found – followed by a brief look at each of the 500-HR Club’s 27 members – the day they hit number 500, their career stats and a few facts that make each of them unique.

  • Among the 500-HR Club’s 27 members, 15 hit right-handed, ten hit left handed and two were switch-hitters.
  • The Club had only one member (Babe Ruth, who hit his 500th in 1929) until the 1940s. By decade here’s how many players reached the 500 mark: 1940s – 2; 1960s – 5; 1970s – 4; 1980s – 2; 1990s – 2; 2000s – 9; 2010-15 – 2.
  • The 500-HR Club members captured a total of 87 league HR titles, with Babe Ruth leading the way with twelve.
  • Rafael Palmeiro, Frank Thomas and Gary Sheffield are the only members to never lead their league in homers.
  • The 27 Club members were selected as All Stars in a cumulative 292 seasons. (Hank Aaron is at the top with 21 All Star seasons – Babe Ruth had the fewest at two, but the All Star Game wasn’t established until 1933, in the 20th of Ruth’s 22 MLB seasons).
  • Two-thirds (18) of the Club members won at least one league MVP Award, and they won a cumulative 39 MVP recognitions. (Barry Bonds is on top with seven, withthree each for Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols.)
  • Ted Williams was the oldest upon reaching 500 HRs, at age 41 years, 291 days. (Remember, Williams lost nearly four full seasons to military service – WW II and Korea).
  • The youngest player to reach 500 HRs is Alex Rodriguez (32 years, 8 days)
  • Mark McGwire reached 500 home runs in the fewest at bats of any player – 5,487. The only other player to reach that mark in less than 6,000 at bats is Babe Ruth (5,801).
  • Eddie Murray took the most at bats to reach 500 dingers – 11,095.
  • Eddie Murray is the only member of the 500-HR Club to never hit 40 homers in a season (career-high of 33 in 1983).


Basics for Baseball The 500-HR Club is not only about power hitting. Twenty-four of the 27 members of the 500-HR Club were active after the Rawlings Gold Glove Award was established – and more than half (13) were honored with a Gold Glove for their fielding.  Those 13 player earned a combined 57 Gold Gloves – led by Willie Mays with 12.  Here’s a list of players with 500 or more homers and at least three Gold Gloves.

                        Willie Mays … 12 GG

                        Mike Schmidt … 10

                        Ken Griffey, Jr. … 10

                        Barry Bonds … 8

                        Hank Aaron … 3

                        Eddie Murray … 3

                        Rafael Palmeiro … 3


  • First base was the most popular position at the time of the 500th – with nine players starting the landmark game at first. (Some, like Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks made their reputations at other spots – CF, 3B, SS.)
  • While no player has hit number 500 while at the second base or shortstop position, Mike Schmidt did move from 3B to shortstop in his 500th home run game. He started the game at 3B, hit number 500 in the top of the ninth and moved to shortstop in the bottom of the inning.
  • Five players hit their 500th from the Designated Hitter position.
  • Gary Sheffield is the only player to hit number 500 as a pinch-hitter.
  • Jim Thome is the only player whose 500th home run was a game-winning, walk-off blast.
  • Only four players nailed number 500 in a multi-homer game (Harmon Killebrew, Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz.)
  • No one has ever hit a Grand Slam for HR number 500. Fifteen of the 27 historic dingers were solo shots; five were two-run homers; seven were worth three tallies.
  • Fourteen number 500s were hit in home games, 13 on the road.
  • The team that boasted the newest 500-HR Club member won the game 18 times (nine losses).
  • The season count at the time of the 500th HR achievement ranges from the 14th season (four players) to the 22cnd (One). The 16th season seemed to be the charm, with the most players (eight) reaching 500 in their sixteenth campaign.
  • Ten of the 27 club members were either 34- or 35-years-old when they hit number 500.
  • Barry Bonds hit the most home runs in the season he reached 500 with 73 (.328-73-137). The fewest HRs in the season when a player reached 500 is tenGary Sheffield (.276-10-43) and Eddie Murray. (.357-10-34).
  • Barry Bonds is the only player to belong to the 500-HR Club and the 500-Stolen Base Club.
  • Babe Ruth is the only member of the 500-HR Club who is also a twenty-game winner as a pitcher – 23-12 in 1916, 24-13 in 1917.
  • Nine members of the 500-HR Club have career average of .300 or better: Ted Williams (.344); Babe Ruth (.342); Jimmie Foxx (.325); Manny Ramirez (.312); Hank Aaron (.305); Mel Ott (.304); Willie Mays (.302); Frank Thomas (.301).

Now, here’s a closer look at the 500-HR Club members, in the order they joined.


Babe Ruth, New York Yankees – August 11, 1929

Babe Ruth hit his 500th long ball as his Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians (in Cleveland). The 34-year-old Ruth started in RF that day, batting fourth.  He went two-for-four scoring twice – hitting a single and a solo home run.  Ruth was in his 16th MLB season.  He would play six more years in the majors.

Babe Ruth’s  stats in 1929:  .345-46-154 (the 46 HRs led the AL). Career stats: 342-714-2,214.  Ruth was a twelve-time league leader in HRs, who led AL with as few as 11 (1918) and as many as his career-high 60 (1927). He was a two-time All Star (the first AS game was in 1933) and one-time MVP.

Babe Ruth factoid: Babe Ruth is the only member of the 500-HR club who was also a twenty-game winner as a pitcher (23-12 in 1916 and 24-13 in 1917, both for the Red Sox).


Jimmie Foxx,   Boston Red Sox, September 24, 1940

Foxx, who spent most of his 20-year major league career with the Athletics and Red Sox, was in his 16th season when he hit number 500. It came in a 16-8 Boston win at Philadelphia (first game of a doubleheader). The 32-year-old Foxx started at 1B (batting fourth). He went two-for-five in the game, lacing a single and a solo homer.  He ended the contest with two runs scored and one RBI. Foxx was a four-time league HR leader, with a high of 58 in 1932.

Jimmie Foxx’ 1950 stats: .297-36-119.  Career stats: .325-534-1,922. Fox was an All Star in nine seasons and a league MVP three times.

Jimmie Foxx factoid: Foxx won the Triple Crown as a Philadelphia Athletic in 1933 – going .356-48-163.  It was the only year that featured a Triple Crown  winner in both leagues – and both players played in Philadelphia.  The Phillies’ Chuck Klein won the NL Triple Crown at .368-28-120.

Mel Ott, New York Giants, August 1, 1945

Mel Ott, starting in RF and batting third, went two-for-four with a single and his 500th career home run (two runs scored, two RBI) – a solo shot – as the Giants topped the Braves 9-2 in New York. Ott, 36-years-old at the time, was in the 20th of 22 MLB seasons.  Ott was a six-time league HR leader, with a high of 42 in 1929.

Mel Ott’s 1945 stats: .308-21-79. Career stats: .304-511-1,860. Ott was an All Star in 11 of 22 seasons.

Mel Ott factoid:  Ott was the first NL player to reach 500 home runs.


Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox – June 17, 1960

Teddy Ballgame would have gotten to 500 a lot sooner if he hadn’t lost three seasons to military service (1943-45). As it was, he popped number 500 in his last (and 19th season) at age 41.  Williams hit his landmark shot against the Cleveland Indians (in Cleveland). The third-inning, two –run blast gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead, and was the final scoring of the game.  Williams, who started in LF and batted third, went one-for-three with one run scored and two RBI. Williams was lifted for a pinch runner in the seventh.  Williams was a four-time league leader in HRs, and hit his career-high of 43 in 1949.

Ted Williams’ 1960 stats: .316-29-72.  Career stats: .344-521-1,839.  He was an All Star in 17 of his 19 seasons and a two-time AL MVP.

Ted Williams factoid: Ted Williams is one of only 45 player to homer in their final MLB at bat – and the only member of the 500 club to do so.

Willie Mays, SF Giants – September 13, 1965

The Say Hey Kid rapped home run number 500 against the Houston Astros (in Houston), as the Giants topped the Texas team 5-1. The solo shot was Mays’ 47th of the season, and he went one-for-four before being lifted in the bottom of the ninth. Mays started the game in CF, batting third.  The 500th dinger came in the 35-year-old Mays’ 14th season and he went onto play 22 years in the majors. Mays was a four-time league leader in HRs, and hit a high of 52 in 1965.

Willie Mays’ 1965 stats: 317-52-112 (the 52 HRs lead the league). Career stats: 302-660-1,903.   Mays was an All Star in 20 seasons, and NL MVP twice.

Willie Mays factoid: Willie Mays flashed leather as well as lumber, winning 12 consecutive Gold Gloves (1957-68).

Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees – May 14. 1967

The 35-year-old Mantle was in his 17th  (and second to last) MLB season when he cracked his 500th home run (hitting left-handed) – as his Yankees topped the Orioles 6-5 in New York. Mantle started at 1B and batted third. His home run was a seventh inning solo shot and he finished the game two-for-four (he also had a single), with two runs scored and one RBI.  Mantle was a four-time league HR leader, with a high of 54 HRs in 1961 (when Roger Maris led the AL with 61 HRs).

Mickey Mantle’s 1967 stats: .245-22-55.  Career stats: .298-536-1,509. Mantle was an All Star in 16 seasons and a three-time AL MVP.

Mickey Mantle factoid: Mantle hit 372 regular season home runs left-handed and 164 right-handed. 

Eddie Mathews, Houston Astros – July 14, 1967

35-year-old Eddie Mathews, who built a reputation as the Braves’ 3B, was starting at 1B for the Houston Astros (batting fifth) when he hit his 500th career long ball. It was a three-run shot in the Astros’ 8-6 victory over the Giants in San Francisco. Mathews also had a single in the game – gong two-for-four with one run scored and three RBI. Number 500 came in Mathews’ 16th of 17 MLB seasons.  Mathews was a two-time league HR leader, and hit a career-high 47 dingers in 1953.

Eddie Mathews’ 1967 stats: .236-16-57. Career stats: .271-512-1,453. Mathews was an All Star in nine of his 17 seasons.

Eddie Mathews factoid:  Mathews was the only player to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

Hank Aaron, Atlanta Braves – July 14, 1968

“The Hammer” hit his 500th as the Braves topped the Giants 4-2 in Atlanta.  Aaron started the game in RF, batting third and went two-for-three (three-run home run and single) in four at bats, scoring once and driving in three. Aaron’s was 34-years-old and in his 15th MLB season when he hit number 500. He played eight more seasons, finishing his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976.  Aaron was a four-time league HR leader, and hit a career high 45 HRs in 1962.

Hank Aaron’s 1968 stats: 287-29-86.  Career stats: 305-755-2,297. Aaron was an All Star in 21 of his 23 seasons and the NL MVP in 1957.

Hank Aaron factoid: Hank Aaron and Braves’ 3B Eddie Mathews (another member of the 500-HR Club) hit more home runs while teammate (863) than any other pair of MLB teammates – edging the Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig combination by four round trippers.


Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs – May 12, 1970

Ernie Banks rapped his 500th home run, fittingly, in a Cubs victory (4-3 over the Braves) at Wrigley Field. Banks, the prototype power-hitting shortstop for most of his career was 39-years-old and playing 1B (batting sixth). His home run was a two-run shot and his only hit in the game (one-for-three, one run, two RBI). Banks led the NL in home runs twice, and hit a high of 47 in 1958. He was in his 18th of 19 MLB seasons when he hit number 500.

Ernie Banks’ 1970 stats: .252-12-44.  Career Stats: .275-512-1,636.  Banks was an All Star in 11 of 19 seasons and a two-time NL MVP.

Ernie Banks factoid(s): Banks was the first NL player to win back-to-back MVP Awards (1958-59) – despite playing for a losing Cubs’ team in both seasons. Despite earning his reputation as a shortstop, Banks played more games at 1B (1,259) than short (1,125).

Harmon Killebrew, Twins – August 10, 1971

Harmon Killebrew drove in all the Twins’ runs in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles in Minnesota – banging out his 500th and 501st round trippers.  Batting third and playing first base, Killebrew hit number 500 (a solo shot) in the bottom of the first. He added a two-run shot in the sixth and a single in the eighth – finishing the game three-for-four with two runs scored and three RBI. The 35-year-old Killebrew was in his 18th (of 22) MLB seasons. Killebrew was a six-time league HR leader, and hit a career-high 49 round trippers in 1964.

Harmon Killebrew’s 1971 stats: .254-28-119. Career stats: .256-573-1,584.  Killebrew was an All Star in 11 seasons and the 1969 AL MVP.

Harmon Killebrew factoid: In 1968, Killebrew became the first player to be named an MLB All Star at three different positions in his career – 1B, 3B, LF.  (Pete Rose later surpassed “Killer,” playing 1B, 2B, 3B, LF and RF in All Star competition.)

Frank Robinson, Orioles – September 13, 1971

Frank Robinson started in RF (batting fourth) for the Orioles in the game that saw his 500th round tripper – a 9-1 win over the Tigers in Baltimore. The 36-year-old Robinson went two-for-four in the game (a three-run homer and a single), scoring twice and collecting three RBI.  Robinson was in his 16th of 21 MLB seasons.  Robinson won one league HR title, when he hit his career-high 49 HRs in 1966. That same season he won the AL Triple Crown and MVP Award.

Frank Robinson’s 1971 stats: 281-28-99.  Career stats: .294-586-1,812.  Robinson was an All Star in 12 seasons and a two –time MVP (once in each league).

Frank Robinson factoid: Frank Robinson captured just about every MLB award possible: NL Rookie of the Year (1956); NL MVP (1961): AL MVP (1966); World Series MVP (1966); All Star Game MVP (1971); AL Manager of the Year (1989). He was also a Triple Crown (Average-HRs-RBI) winner (1966) and Gold Glover (1958).

 Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants – June 30, 1978

The forty-year-old McCovey hit number 500 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves in Atlanta.  McCovey went two-for-two (a double and a solo homer) before being lifted for a pinch runner in the fourth inning.  He started the game at 1B, batting cleanup. The Braves eventually won the game 10-9. McCovey scored once and drove in one.  Big Mac was a three-time league HR leader, and hit a high of 45 in 1969.  McCovey’s 500th came in his 20th of 22 MLB seasons.

Willie McCovey’s 1978 stats: .228-12-64.  Career stats: .270-521-1,555. McCovey was an All Star in six seasons and the 1969 NL MVP.

Willie McCovey factoid:  Despite playing only 52 games in his  rookie season (1959), McCovey won the Rookie of the Year Award (hitting .354 with 13 homers and 38 RBI in just 192 at bats).


Reggie Jackson, California Angels – September 17, 1984

Reggie Jackson hit his 500th HR in a 10-1 loss to the Royals in Anaheim. Jackson started at DH and batted sixth – going one for three with a solo home run, his 22nd round tripper of the season. The 38-year old Jackson was in his 18th season when he hit number 500. He played three more campaigns. Jackson was a four-time league HR leader, and hit a high of 47 in 1969.

Reggie Jackson’s 1984 stats: .223-25-81. Career stats: .263-563-1,702. Jackson was an All Star in 14 seasons and the 1973 AL MVP

Reggie Jackson factoid. Jackson holds the MLB record for strikeouts, 2,597..

Mike Schmidt, Phillies – April 18, 1987

Mike Schmidt notched his 500th round tripper in an 8-6 Phillies’ win over the Pirates (in Pittsburgh). The 37-year-old Schmidt started the game at 3B (batting cleanup) and finished at shortstop. His three-run home run in the top of the ninth gave the Phillies (who were trailing 6-5) their eventual two-run victory. Schmidt went one-for-four in the game, scoring twice and driving in three.  2008 was Schmidt’s 16th MLB season, and he went on to play two more years.  Schmidt was an eight-time league leader in home runs, and hit a high of 48 in 1980.

Mike Schmidt’s 1987 stats: .293-35-113. Career stats: .267-548-1,595. Schmidt was an All Star in 12 seasons and a three-time NL MVP.

Mike Schmidt factoid:  An eight-time NL home run leader, Mike Schmidt also won ten Gold Gloves – and won a Gold Glove in six of his HR-leading campaigns.


Eddie Murray, Baltimore Orioles – September 6, 1996

Switch-hitting Eddie Murray was DH-ing and batting second for the Orioles when he hit number 500 – a solo shot (in a one-for-four day) against the Tigers in a 5-4 home loss. It was fitting that Murray, who spent the best seasons of his 21-year MLB career with the Orioles hit it as an “O” in Baltimore – but that was not a sure thing.  The forty-year-old Murray has started the season with the Indians, but was traded to Baltimore on July 21 (for pitcher Kent Mercker).  Murray was in his 20th MLB season when he stroked number 500. Murray led league in home runs once (22 in the strike-shortened 1981 season), and hit career high 33 home runs in 1983.

Eddie Murray’s 1996 stats: .257-10-34.  Career stats: .287-504-1,917.  Murray was an All Star in eight seasons.

Eddie Murray factoid:  Murray is the only member of the 500-HR Club to never reach 40 homers in a season (high of 33).

Mark McGwire, Cardinals – August 5, 1999

On August 5, 1999, the Saint Louis Cardinals lost to Padres 10-3 in Saint Louis, but the home town fans did get to see Mark McGwire’s 500th (and 501st) MLB home run(s). Both were solo shots, number 500 in the third inning and 501 in the eighth. The 35-year-old McGwire started at 1B, batting third.  The two homers were his only hits in four at bats.  They were his 43rd and 44th of a season in which he would hit 65 round trippers – after pounding 70 in 1998.  HR number 500 came in McGwire’s 14th (of 16) MLB seasons. McGwire was a four-time league HR leader, with a high of 70 in 1998.

Mark McGwire’s 1999 stats: .278-65-147 (leading the league in home runs and RBI).  Career stats: .263-583-1,414. McGwire was an All Star in 12 seasons.

Mark McGwire factoid; No one reached 500 home runs in fewer at bats than McGwire (5,487).


Barry Bonds. SF Giants – April 17, 2001

Bonds hit number 500 (a two-run shot) in a 3-2 win over the Dodgers in San Francisco.  Bonds started in LF, batting third. He went 1-for-4 that day, with one run and two RBI. It was the 36-year-old Bonds’ 16th MLB season – and he went on to play six more campaigns. His 500th was Bonds’ sixth home run in a season when he would hit an MLB-record 73 round trippers. Bonds was a two-time league HR leader, with a high of 73 (MLB single-season record) in 2001.

Barry Bonds’ 2001 stats: .328-73-137. Career stats: .298-762-1,996.  Bonds was an All Star in 13 seasons and the NL MVP a record seven times.

Barry Bonds factoid: Barry Bonds is the only player with 500+ home runs (762) and 500+ steals (514).

Sammy Sosa, Cubs – April 4, 2003

Sammy Sosa hit his 500th on the road, as his Cubs lost to the Reds 10-9.The solo shot was his only hit in four at bats (one run, one RBI). The 500th HR came in the 34-year-old Sosa’s 15th season and he played three more campaigns. Sosa played RF and batted third in the contest. Sosa twice led his league in HRs, and hit a career-high 66 in 1998.

Sammy Sosa’s 2003 stats: .279-40-103. Career stats: .273-609-1,667. Sosa was an All Star in seven seasons and the 1998 NL MVP.

Sammy Sosa factoid: Sosa twice topped 60 home runs in a season – but did not lead his league in either year – 66 in 1998 (Mark McGwire hit 70) and 63 in 1999 (McGwire hit 65).

Rafael Palmeiro, Texas Rangers, May 11, 2003

The Rangers scored big at home on the day Rafael Palmeiro hit number 500 – topping the Indians 17-10. Palmeiro’s home run was a a three-run shot. Palmeiro, playing first base and hitting fourth, also had a double in his five at bats (two runs scored, three RBI).  Palmeiro was 38-years-old and in his 18th of 20 MLB seasons when he connected for number 500. He never led his league in HRs, and hit a high of 47 in 1999 and 2001.

Rafael Palmeiro’s 2003 stats: .260-38-112.  Career stats:  .288-569-1,835. Palmeiro was a four-time All Star.

Rafael Palmeiro factoid: Rafeal Palmeiro has the most career home runs of any player without a HR title to his credit.

Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle Mariners – June 20, 2004

Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 500th home run against the Cardinals – as his Reds topped the Redbirds 6-0 in Saint Louis. The 34-year-old Griffey started the game in CF, batting clean-up. He went one-for-three (solo home run), scoring one and driving in two. The 500th HR came in Griffey’s 16th MLB season, and he played a total of 22 years in the major leagues. Griffey was a four-time league HR leader, and hit a high of 56 in 1997 and 1998.

Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 2004 stats:.253-20-60. Career stats:  .284-630-1,836.  Griffey was an All Star in 13 seasons and the 1997 AL MVP.

Ken Griffey, Jr. factoid.  On September 14, 1990, the Seattle Mariners faced off against the Angels in Anaheim, with the Mariners’ Ken Griffey in LF and Ken Griffey, Jr, in RF.  The father-son combination was batting two and three in the order.  In the first inning, they made history, becoming the only father-son combination to his back-to-back home runs in an MLB game.  A “by the way” piece of trivia.  The Griffey’s shared first name is George – George Kenneth Griffey, Sr. & Jr.

Frank Thomas, Toronto Blue Jays, June 28, 2007

The Big Hurt, who gained fame with the White Sox (winning consecutive AL MVP Awards in 1993-94), hit home run number 500 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.  It came in an 8-5 Toronto loss to the Twins in Minnesota. Thomas was the Jays’ DH in the game (batting fifth). The 39-year-old slugger (in his 18th of 19 MLB seasons) went two-for-four (double and three-run homer). Thomas never led his league in HRs, and hit a career-high 43 in 2000.

Frank Thomas’ 2007 stats: .277-26-95. Career stats: .301-521-1,704. Frank Thomas was an All Star in five seasons and a two-time AL MVP.

Frank Thomas factoid: Thomas is one of only three players with 500+ homers  to never lead his league in round trippers. Rafeal Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield are the others.

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees – August 4, 2007

Alex Rodriguez hit number 500 as the Yankees topped the Kansas City Royals 16-2 in New York.  The 32-year-old A-Rod started at 3B, hitting fourth.  He was three-for-four (two singles and a three-run homer) when he was replaced in the top of the eighth inning. His scored three and drove in three in the game.  The landmark round tripper came in Rodriguez’ 14th MLB season. He is still active in 2015. A-Rod has led his league in home runs five times, and hit a career-high 57 in 2002.

Alex Rodriguez’ 2007 stats: .314-54-156. Career stats (through September 16, 2015):  .297-686-2,052.  Rodriguez has been an All Star in 14 seasons and is a three-time AL MVP.

Alex Rodriguez factoid:  August 4 is a good day for A-Rod. On August 4, 2007, he became the youngest player to reach 500 home runs (32 years, 8 days). On August 4, 2010, he became the youngest to reach 600 home runs. (35 years 8 days).  

Jim Thome, White Sox – September 16, 2007

Jim Thome, starting at DH for the White Sox (in Chicago), hit number 500 in a 9-7 win over the Angels.  The 37-year-old Thome was in his 17th  season of a 22-year MLB career. Thome went one-for-five in the game (a two-run homer).  His 500th long ball may have been the most dramatic on this list – a walk-off two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth that capped a White Sox comeback from a 6-0 deficit. Thome won one league HR crown, and hit a high of 52 HRs in 2002.

Jim Thome’s 2007 stats: 275-35-96.  Career stats:  .276-612-1,699. Thome was an All Star in five seasons.

Jim Thome factoid; Jim Thome is one of only two players with two post-season Grand Slam homers (Shane Victorino is the other).

Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox  – May 31, 2008

The Red Sox were on the road (at Baltimore) when Manny Ramirez hit number 500 (in a 6-3 Red Sox victory). The 36-year-old Ramirez (he celebrated his birthday the day before) started in LF and went one for five (solo home run) with one run scored and one RBI. Ramirez was in his 16th of 19 MLB seasons at the time. Ramirez won one HR title, and had a high of 45 round trippers in 1998.

Manny Ramirez’ 2008 stats: .332-37-121. Career stats: .312-555-1,831. Ramirez was a 12-time All Star.

Manny Ramirez Factoid:  Ramirez is one of only two players to be traded in the same season he joined the 500-HR club  – going to the Dodgers in a three-way deal on July 31, 2008. (The other is Eddie Murray.) 

Gary Sheffield, New York Mets, April 17, 2009

Like Ted Williams, Sheffield launched home run number 500 in his final (22nd) MLB season. Sheffield was 40-years-old at the time and playing for the Mets (his eighth MLB team). Sheffield’s home run came as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning in a Mets’ home game against the Brewers.  His solo shot tied the game (eventually won by the Mets) at four.  It was Sheffield’s first home run for the Mets. Sheffield never led his league in home runs. He hit a career high 43 in 2000.

Gary Sheffield’s 2009 stats: .276-10-43. Career stats: .292-509-1,676. Sheffield was an All Star in nine seasons.

Gary Sheffield factoid:  Sheffield is the only player to hit home run number 500 as a pinch hitter. A “by the way” piece of trivia.  Sheffield was release by the Tigers in March of 2009 – while sitting on 499 career homers – and signed by the Mets.  


Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels – April 22, 2014

At age 34, Albert Pujols – playing 1B and batting third – hit his 499th and 500th home runs as his Angels beat the Nationals 7-2 in Washington. He got started early, with a three-run shot in the first inning for number 499 and added a two-run homer in the fifth for the historic number 500. He ended the day two-for-four with two runs scored and five RBI.  Pujols has twice led his league in HRs, and hit a high of 49 in 2006.

Albert Pujols’ 2014 stats: .272-28-105. Career stats (through September 16, 2015): .312-555-1,686. Pujols has been an All Star ten times and is a three-time NL MVP.

Pujols’ factoid:  In his second season with the Cardinals (2002), Pujols played first base, third base, shortstop, left field, right field and DH.

David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox – September 12, 2015

Boston’s “Big Papi” David Ortiz hit his 500th career long ball against the Tampa Bay Rays – as his Red Sox topped the Rays 10-4 in Tampa. The 39-year-old (in his 19th MLB season) started at DH, batting sixth – and collected two home runs in the game (his 499th and 500th). Number 499 was a three-run shot in the first inning, while number 500 was a solo shot in the fifth.  Ortiz is a one-time league HR leader, and hit a career high 54 in 2006.

David Ortiz’ 2015 stats (through September 16): .273-35-97. Career stats (through September 16): .284-501-1,630. Ortiz has been an All Star in nine seasons.

David Ortiz’ factoid: David Ortiz (as of September 16, 2015) has 443 homers as a DH (the most all-time at the position),


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Homer Hitting Hurlers or More of Why I Hate the DH

Bumgarner - Batting Practice Pays Off

Bumgarner – Batting Practice Pays Off

This past Sunday (August 16), San Francisco Giants’ lefthander Madison Bumgarner picked up his 14th win (against six losses) of the season, throwing a three-hit, complete-game shutout in a 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals. In the sterling effort, Bumgarner walked just one and struck out fourteen.  Of even more interest to BBRT was the fact that Bumgarner also collected a home run (his fourth of the season) and an RBI double in three at bats. The round tripper was Bumgarner’s tenth in seven major league seasons – his eighth since the start of the 2014 campaign.   Note: Bumgarner seems to have found his stroke in the past two seasons.  In 2009-13, he hit .138, with two home runs and 16 RBI.  In 2014-15, he is .258-8-22, and has even been used as a pinch hitter.)

On the same day that Bumgarner homered against the Nationals, another pitching “ace” proved his worth on the mound and in the batter’s box.  The Dodgers’ Zack Greinke picked up his 13th win of 2015, throwing seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball (one walk, eight whiffs) against the Reds – and  drove in the winning run (in a 2-1 game) with a home run ( his second of the season and sixth in his 12 MLB seasons) in the bottom of the fifth.

Daniel Norris – Livin’ in a Van Pays Off

Yesterday, as I was putting the final touches on this post, a new break came across my IPad. Tigers’s starting pitcher (former Blue Jays’ prospect) Daniel Norris had done two amazing things with the bat.  He had damaged one of Wrigley Field’s new outfield video boards in batting practice – and he had hit a two-run home run in his first major league plate appearance. By the way, this is the same Daniel Norris who lived in a van behind a Wal-Mart in Spring Training. (To read more about Norris – and his van –  in the pre-season BBRT 2015 MLB Rookie Watch List, click here.)  The Tigers, by the way, beat the Cubs 15-8, but Norris left after 4 1/3 innings pitched (four hits, one walk, three earned runs and six strikeouts) with an oblique strain. 

This display of punch at the plate by two ace pitchers (and a rookie) not only added further to BBRT’s often-voiced opposition to the Designated Hitter, but also got me thinking about the home run leaders among pitchers.

Here’s the list – and a little bit about the career leaders – followed by single season leaders and some special moments for pitchers as hitters.  The first number in the career leader list is each pitcher’s home runs, while in the pitcher position; it does not include home runs hit as a pinch hitter or while playing another position). In parenthesis, you will find their career total HRs.  BBRT Note: Primary sources for the career and single seasons lists: Baseball-Reference.com and Pitchers Dig the Long Ball (At Least When They Are Hitting), David Vincent, Spring 2012 Baseball Research Journal.


King of the HR-Hitting Hurlers

King of the HR-Hitting Hurlers

Career Home Runs by Pitchers – All Those with 30 or More

Note: Bold face indicates Hall of Fame member.

Wes Farrell                  37    (38)

Bob Lemon                 35    (37)

Warren Spahn             35

Red Ruffing                 34     (36)

Earl Wilson                   33     (35)


Wes Farrell

Farrell – a 6’ 1”, 195-pound right hander is the king of home run hitters among pitchers (while playing in the pitcher position). Farrell holds the career record at 37 and the MLB single season record for a pitcher at nine. Farrell’s MLB career spanned 15 seasons (1927-41), during which time he pitched for the Indians, Red Sox, Senators, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves.   His biggest year at the plate came for the 1931 Indians, when he hit .273 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 48 games. That same season, he went 22-12, 3.75 on the mound. For his career, Farrell went 198-128 (a .601 winning percentage), with a 4.04 ERA, winning 20 or more games six times and leading his league in complete games four times.  As a hitter, he recorded a .280 average, with 38 home runs and 208 RBI. He hit nine home runs in a season once, seven in a season twice, collected 25 or more RBI in a season four times (with a high a 32 RBI with the 1935 Red Sox, when he went .347-7-32).

Wes Farrell Tidbit:  In 1931, the year Farrell hit his single-season record (for a pitcher) nine home runs, he also tossed a no-hitter (beating the St. Louis Browns 9-0, walking three and fanning eight). In that game, Farrell drove in four runs with a double and a home run in four at bats.

Bob Lemon

Tied Number-two in career home runs as a pitcher is another Cleveland Indian – Hall of Fame hurler Bob Lemon, who racked up 35 career round trippers as a pitcher and two more as a pinch-hitter. Lemon was a 6-foot, 180-pounder right hander (threw right, batted left).  Lemon played his entire career (1941-42; 1946-58) with Cleveland.  As a pitcher, he went 207-128, with a 3.23 ERA.  Lemon won 20 or more games seven times, topping the AL in victories in three seasons. His big year at the plate came in 1949, when he went .269-7-18 in 46 games. During his career, he achieved a season-high batting average of .321 (in 47 games in 1947) and 26 RBI (in 72 games in 1950). His career offensive numbers were .232-37-147 (13 seasons).

Bob Lemon Tidbit:  Although he never hit a home run as a position player, Lemon originally came up to the big leagues as a utility player – and was converted to a pitcher.  (He played 13 MLB games in CF, two at third base and one in right field.) Lemon was, in fact, the starting center fielder for the Indians on Opening Day in 1946 – as well as in Bob Feller’s April 30, 1946 no-hitter again the Yankees. (Makes a great trivia question – “What HOFer both threw a no-hitter and played center field in a no-hitter?”)


The Babe started as a pitcher - and a darn good one.

The Babe started as a pitcher – and a darn good one.  Twice topping twenty wins in a season.

Who Says Pitchers Can’t Hit – This Guy Started as a Pitcher

Warren Spahn

The winningest left-hander in MLB history (363 victories), Spahn is tied for the second most home runs as a pitcher with 35.  The six-foot, 172-pound southpaw pitched in the major leagues for 21 seasons (1941, 1946-65) primarily for the Braves (for the Mets and Giants in his final season). Spahn won twenty or more games 13 times, leading the NL in wins eight times, strikeouts four times and ERA three times.  He finished his career at 363-245, 3.09. As a hitter, he batted .194, with 35 home runs and 189 RBI.  His best year at the plate was 1958 when – at the age of 37 – he hit .333, with two homers and 15 RBI in 42 games. He also led the NL that season with 22 pitching victories, as his Braves made a second consecutive trip to the World Series.  Still Spahn never hit more than four home runs in a season and his spot near the of the career home run list is as much due to his longevity as hit batting prowess.

Warren Spahn Tidbit:   Spahn, as a pitcher, hit at least one home run in a record (for pitchers) 17 consecutive seasons.

Red Ruffing

Like most of the hurlers on this list, Ruffing enjoyed a long MLB career – 22 seasons (1924-37) with the Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox. Although he never topped four home runs in a season, his total of 34 as a pitcher earns a spot on the leader list.  As a pitcher, the 6’ 1”, 205-pound righty won 273 games (225 losses) with a 3.80 career ERA. He logged four consecutive 20-win seasons with the Yankees (totaling 82 wins and 33 losses) from 1936-39. Ruffing hit for average as well as a little power. He was a .269 career hitter (topping .300 eight times), with those 36 home runs and 273 RBI.

Red Ruffing Tidbit:  Ruffing was a post-season master, going 7-2, 2.68 in ten World Series starts (all with the Yankees) – tossing eight complete games in the process.

Earl Wilson

Earl Wilson pitched in 11 MLB seasons (Red Sox, Tigers, Padres), hitting 33 home runs from the pitcher’s position. On the mound, the 6’3”, 216-pound right hander won 121 games (versus 109 losses), with a 3.69 ERA.  His best season was for the Tiger in 1967, when he went 22-11, 3.27 – leading the AL in wins in his only twenty-victory campaign. At the plate, his best campaign was 1966, when he pitched for Boston and Detroit and hit .240, with seven home runs and 22 RBI.

Earl Wilson Tidbit:  On June 278, 1962, Wilson – starting for the Red Sox at home – no-hit the Angels 2-0. He was the first black pitcher to complete a no-hitter in the American League.  Wilson also hit a home run in that game and is one of only four pitchers to hit a home run while pitching a no-hitter.  (The others are Wes Farrell, Jim Tobin and Rick Wise).

A few other pitchers’ long ball moments.

Single Season Home Run Records by Pitcher – All with seven or more

Wes Farrell, Indians                9          1931

Jack Stivetts, Browns             7          1890

Wes Farrell, Indians                7          1933

Bob Lemon, Indians               7          1949

Don Newcombe, Dodgers       7          1955

Don Drysdale, Dodgers          7          1958, 1965

Earl Wilson, Red Sox/Tigers   7          1968

Mike Hampton, Rockies         7          2001

Pitcher with Two Grand Slams in a Single Game

Braves’ RHP Tony Cloninger started the Independence Day fireworks early in 1966.  On July 3 of that season, facing the Giants in San Francisco, Cloninger went the distance, holding the Giants to three runs for his ninth win of the year.  More significantly, he also went three-for-five, hit TWO Grand Slam homers and drove in nine runs (still the single-game record for a pitcher). (The Braves won 17-3.) Cloninger not only became the first- still only – pitcher to hit two grand slams in a game, he was also the first National League player to hit two grand slams in a game. Cloninger had a 12-year MB career, going 113-97, 4.07 on the mound (24-11 in 1965) and .192-11-67 at the plate – hitting five of his career 11 home runs in that 1966 season.

A No-Hitter and Two Home Runs

On June 23, 1971, the Phillies’ Rick Wise took the mound against the Reds in Cincinnati – and he had the right stuff, shutting down the Cincy 4-0, throwing a no-hitter (one walk, three strikeouts) for his eighth win of the season.  He also had the right stuff at the plate – hitting a pair of homers and driving in three runs.  He’s still the only MLB pitcher to hit two round trippers while tossing a no-hit game. In that 1971 season, Wise went 17-14, 2.88 on the mound (arguably his best season ever) and .237-6-15 at the plate.  He spent 18 season in the big leagues, going 188-181, 3.69 and .195-15-66. And, he was, of course, spectacular on June 23, 1971.

Three HRs in a Game – By the Pitcher

On May 13, 1942, the Boston Braves (then managed by Casey Stengel) took on the Chicago Cubs in Boston – with the Braves starting pitcher Jim Tobin taking the mound. The Braves won 6-5, with Tobin fashioning a complete game – five hits, three walks, three earned runs. More important historically, Tobin came to the plate four times and lashed three home runs (driving in four). Tobin is the only pitcher since 1900 to tally three long balls in a game. (Guy Hecker is credited with three HRs  in August 15, 1886 game for the Louisville Colonels of the then major league American Association.   Hecker started 48 games on the mound that season – and also played first base or outfield in another 39.) Tobin played in nine big league seasons (Pirates, Braves, Tigers) and put up a 105-112, 3.44 pitching line.  At the plate, he went .230-17-102. In that 1942 season, he hit a career high six homers – three on May 13. (He also lead NL pitchers in losses with 21 and complete games with 28, as Boston finished 30 games under .500.)

Ken Brett’s Streak

In June of 1973, Phillies’ pitcher Ken Brett hit a home run in four consecutive pitching starts (his only hit in each game and his only home runs of the season). Brett won all four games – giving up 11 earned runs in 34 1/3 innings and tossing three complete games. Brett’s MLB career lasted 14 seasons and his mound record was 85-85, 3.93.  At the plate, the brother of x time batting champion George Brett, went .262-10-44. The four r


What does all of this add up to?  More of “Why I hate the DH.”


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70th Anniversary of Jimmie Foxx’ Pitching Victory

Today’s post is spurred the recent spate of position players taking the mound – plus today’s 70th anniversary of, perhaps, one of the most surprising pitching appearances ever by a position player (Hall of Fame slugger Jimmie “The Beast” Foxx).

A lot already has been written this year about position players taking the mound.  The appearance that grabbed BBRT’s attention took place on Sunday August 16, when we saw a position player (Oakland 1B Ike Davis) pitching to a pitcher (Baltimore reliever Jason Garcia) – and walking him. What made this especially unique is that it took place in the DH-embracing American League, in which pitchers seldom bat. It was, by the way, Davis’ second pitching appearance of the season (totaling two scoreless innings). Davis, of course, may come by his penchant for taking the mound naturally.  He is the son of former MLB reliever Ron Davis – who notched 130 saves in 11 big league seasons.  Still, this has been a big year for position players on the mound.

On June 16th and 17th alone , six position players took the mound – and two teams brought multiple position players on in relief.  The players: June 16 – Rays’ 2B Jake Elmore, Rays’ utility infielder Nick Franklin and Phillies’ 1B Jeff Francoeur; June 17 – Indians’ utility player Ryan Raburn, Indians’ OF David Murphy and Padres’ SS Alexi Amarista.

Still, position players taking a turn on the hill is nothing new (except maybe in this year’s numbers). Such renowned hitters as Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Stan Musial all recorded brief stints on the mound (1, 1, and 2 career pitching appearances, respectively).  This brings me, finally, to today’s topic – a more unusual position player pitching appearance – by one of MLB’s most prolific sluggers.


On August 16, 1945, Philadelphia Phillies’ 37-year-old first baseman Jimmie Foxx – who had led his league in HRs four times, RBI three times, batting average twice and won a Triple Crown (1933) –  not only took the mound for the Phillies, he started the game.   It was the second game of a double header against the Reds) and Foxx went 6 2/3 innings for the win, giving up just four hits and two earned runs, while walking four and striking out five. Foxx, in his final MLB season, took the mound nine times (starting twice) that year – going 1-0, with a 1.59 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.  Add in a previous (1939) one-inning pitching appearance for the Red Sox and the Hall of Fame slugger retired with a 1.52 ERA.  Foxx, known as “Double X” or “The Beast,” for his hitting prowess, apparently could be a bit of a beast on the mound as well. Foxx earned his weay into the BB HOF with a career .325 average (20 seasons), 534 home runs, 1,922 RBI and, of course, that flashy 1.52 ERA.

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Ballpark Tours 2015 – Every Mile a Memory

This morning I departed on my annual Ballpark Tours’ (BPT) baseball trek, my 27th such journey.  Ballpark tours has taken me to major and minor league ball parks from Colorado to New York and pretty much all parts in between.  (Thank you, “tour master” Julian Loscalzo.) On this year’s trek, I’m joining 35 other baseball fans and fanatics for a week-long bus tour that is taking us to a minor league game in Schaumburg, IL (just outside of Chicago), as well as major league contests in Chicago (Cubs hosting Giants), Cleveland (Indians hosting our Twins), Detroit (Tigers hosting Red Sox), back to Chicago (White Sox entertaining the Angels) and then back to our home base of Saint Paul, MN (with a stop at a craft brewery in Wisconsin on the way home).

Before I begin my series of “reports from the road,” let me put in an unabashed plug.  For BBRT, there is no better baseball touring group than Ballpark Tours – just the right amount of chaos and discipline; comfortable transportation; great hotels; time in most cities to take in local culture, arts, food and nightlife (I’m planning on the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on this trip); and, most important, the comradery – every year, without fail – of a great group of fun-loving baseball fans/friends.  How do others feel about Ballpark Tours?  On this trip, 35 of our 36 trekkers are repeat participants. How do I feel about BPT?  Hey, every morning for the next week I can get up knowing the most important item on my agenda is going to a ball game.  How can you beat that? For more on Ballpark Tours (and the upcoming Cuban trip), click here. 

I probably won’t post every day (we do have a busy schedule), but here’s first report from the tour.


Scnuamburg tsnirtWe met our bus in Saint Paul’s Midway area at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 5, and the parking lot was filled not just with our luggage, but also with hugs and handshakes, as old baseball- and tour-based friendships were renewed.   We loaded up quickly, with the rowdier trekkers heading for their seats at the back of the bus, and the less animated at the front (there is always a friendly competition between “the front of the bus” and the “back of the bus”).  The departure was toasted with coffee, juice, energy drinks (we’ll need them in the days ahead) – as well as an assortment of adult beverages.

The theme for this trip is Rock N’Roll Adventure (commemorative and complimentary T-shirts were handed out before we boarded the bus) and our theme would prove prophetic sooner than even I expected (but I don’t want to get ahead of myself).

As is Ballpark Tours’ tradition, early in the day, the K-Kwiz – a baseball trivia contest – was distributed and each trekker took the microphone and introduced themselves – usually with a baseball-related story. (Oh, and I shouldn’t forget, participants also described the books they each brought for the on-board baseball book exchange). It was during this phase that I began feeling like the Minnie Minoso of BPT – having been on BPT trips in four consecutive decades, beginning in the 1980s.  I should note here that Day One would feature other handouts – including a schedule of our games, hotels and arrival/departure times; a Ports-O-Call guide to restaurants, “watering holes,” museums, music, public transit, etc. in the cities we will visit; and entry forms for a contest based on predicting the total runs scored in MLB over the weekend. We will leave a paper trail.

You never know who'll show up on a Ballpark Tours trip.

You never know who’ll show up on a Ballpark Tours trip.

Around lunch time, we also had a visit from the “Assistant Pope” (aka Tom Smith) – who regaled the group with a laugh-provoking monologue worthy of a comedy club and then distributed assorted crackers, deli meats, cheeses and “sacred” eel pout (actually pickled herring) throughout the bus.  We lunched, pack your own, at a rest stop along the highway – with trekkers unveiling everything from deli sandwiches and beer to an elaborate picnic table buffet of baguettes, lox, assorted cheeses, stuffed olives and Napa Valley wine.

Then, it was back on the bus, when the Rock N’Roll Adventure began to rock.  Thanks to modern technology, the back of the bus began a long-lasting sing-along to 70’s rock – which included plenty of air guitar and dancing in the aisle of the bus. The moves being thrown down were a bit subdued given the limited space, but the singing was spirited (especially on Rolling Stones and Beatles numbers).

Great seats!

Great seats!

Of course, this is a baseball trip, and – we arrived in Schaumburg – for the Schaumburg Boomers/Southern Illinois Miners games.  The Boomers play in the independent Frontier League, so the names won’t be recognizable, but here are a few observations:

  • A nice park – I always like the old-style Red Brick – but it was empty (the over and under on fans was about 300 in a stadium that holds 7,365). It was almost like the tour group had a private showing.
  • The lighting, as in a number of minor league parks, was terrible (although only one fly ball – a foul pop-up was “lost” in the dark).
  • We had great seats, at the edge of the first base dugout – row six. (However, you could sit pretty much anywhere you wanted.)
  • The ball park was not kind to dead pull hitters – 355-feet down the left field line and 353-feet to the right field corner. One team representative informed me that the dimensions matched Wrigley Field because the mayor of Schaumburg “has a thing for the Cubs.”  Further digging showed deeper Cubs’ ties.  The stadium, which opened in 1999, is built on land purchased in the 1980s – reportedly as a potential site of a new home for the Cubs (the New Wrigley Field) if the team and the city of Chicago could not come to an agreement on night baseball.
  • Several small planes from the nearby Schaumberg Airport flew over the stadium during the game, seeming to clear the third-base-side light towers by about fifty-feet.
  • The team’s signature sandwich, the Schaumburger (a hamburger, topped with pulled pork and cole slaw for eight dollars) was both juicy and tasty. BBRT would recommend it.
  • There will be no Bloody Mary review for Schaumburg Boomers Stadium – the only adult beverage was beer.
  • There was general agreement among those of us keeping score sheets that the official scorekeeper had lost his or her red “error” pen – two or three errors were scored as base hits.

As for the game itself, Southern Illinois topped Schaumburg 4-1 in a fairly “quiet” contest – that’s what happens when you have 300 fans in the stands.  But there were a few highlights, at least from the BBRT point of view. Southern Illinois’ leadoff hitter CF Aaron Gates showed great speed, going three-for-four with a pair of well-placed bunt singles down the third base line. Schaumburg’s leadoff hitter 2B Mike Schulze also got on base three times – via three walks.  The stadium organ player was right on top of things, playing Fitz and the Tantrum’s song “The Walker” after Schulze’s last plate appearance. Schaumburg did turn a nifty third-second-first double play (TJ Bennett to Mike Schulze to Willi Martin) in the middle of Southern Illinois’ three-run third inning. (BBRT loves a good double play.) Southern Illinois’ starting pitcher Adam Lopez (who came into the game with a 1.88 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings) showed good stuff – giving up one run in six innings, with three hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

IndigoPost-game, we checked in to the Hotel Indigo, in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.  Another quality Ballpark Tours lodging choice. All in all, a great first day.


More on the tour in the days to come, including BBRT’s take on the changes to Wrigley Field – video screens, expanded bleachers, concourse/concession upgrades, etc.

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All Star Game “Firsts” and “First and Only(s)”

With the 2015 MLB All Star Game just ahead, BBRT would like to devote another post to All Star game history.  This time, taking a look at the very first All Star Game – played at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on July 6, 1933 – and some of the “firsts” from that game.  In that initial All Star match-up – won  by the American League 4-2 – the starting lineups included eleven Hall of Famers (seven for the AL and four for the NL). There were another nine future HOFers on the bench (four for the NL, five for the AL). Both managers – John McGraw (NL) and Connie Mack (AL) were headed for the Hall, as were three of the four coaches. The stage was clearly set for some memorable, big-name All Star Game “firsts” – like Babe Ruth hitting the first AS Game round tripper.

Babe Ruth, appropriately, smacked the first-ever All Star Game home run. 

We’ll take a look at all the firsts from that first All Star gathering, but let me lead off with a curve ball, and take a look at some AS Game “first and only(s)” that did not take place in 1933.   Here are three baseball happenings that, to date, have happened just once in All Star competition.

  • Steal of Home: 1934 AS game, fifth inning, two out, two on, NL trailing 8-6 – NL 3B Pie Traynor (Pirates)  notches the first (and still only) AS Game steal of home. (AL won game 9-7.)
  • Grand Slam: 1983 All Star Game, third inning, bases loaded, two outs, AL leading 5-1, AL CF Fred Lynn hits first – and still only – AS Game Grand Slam. (AL wins 13-3).

Fred Lynn – Only ASG Grand Slam

  • Inside-the-Park Home Run: 2007 All Star Game, fifth inning, one on, one out, AL CF Ichiro Suzuki hits first – and still only – AS Game inside-the-park home run.


Now, here’s a dozen AS Game firsts from 1933.

  • First batter/pitcher matchup: NL 3B Pepper Martin (Cardinals) versus Lefty Gomez (Yankees). Gomez retired Martin on a grounder to shortstop.
  • First starting pitchers: AL, Lefty Gomez (Yankees) – NL, Bill Hallahan (Cardinals). Gomez got the first All Star win, Hallahan the first loss.
  • First hit: Cardinals’ Chick Hafey (leading off second inning – off the Yankees’ Lefty Gomez). Hafey was starting in LF and batting fourth for the NL.
  • First run scored: AL starting 3B Jimmy Dykes (White Sox).
  • First RBI: AL starting pitcher Lefty Gomez (Yankees) – drove home Jimmy Dykes (White Sox), who had walked, with a single to center field. Take that, DH Rule.
  • First double: Pie Traynor (Pirates), NL pinch hitter – top of seventh off Lefty Grove (Yankees).
  • First triple: NL pitcher Lon Warneke (Cubs) – top of the sixth inning off Alvin Crowder (Senators). Take that again, DH Rule.
  • First home run: AL RF Babe Ruth (Yankees), two-run home run, bottom of the third, off Bill Hallahan (Cardinals).
  • First walk: Bottom of first. Hitter – AL 2B Charlie Gehringer (Tigers). Pitcher – Bill Hallahan (Cardinals).
  • First stolen base: Bottom of first, AL 2B Charlie Gehringer (Tigers).
  • First strikeout: Final out, top of second. Pitcher – Lefty Gomez (Yankees). Hitter – NL SS Dick Bartell (Phillies).
  • First fielding error: Top of the fifth, AL 1B Lou Gehrig (Yankees).

Here’s hoping we see a record-setting performance at the 2015 All Star Game. From this viewpoint, the best All Star competition in any sport.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Best All Star Game Performances Ever – From the Batter’s Box and the Mound

With all the recent commentary surrounding the recent MLB All Star team voting and selections, BBRT thought it might be time to focus on a topic more likely to generate consensus – the best hitting and pitching performances ever in an All Star game, and some of the targets the players who take the field at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park on Tuesday July 14 can shoot for.  For a look at BBRT’s 2015 All Star ballot, click   here.

Now, I’s sure there are those that would maintain the selecting the greatest-ever All Star Game performances form the batter’s box and the pitching mound might be a matter for considerable debate. But, hear (read) me out and I believe we’ll be able to agree.

Best All Star Game Performance – from the Batter’s Box

Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox, 1946


When home-town hero Ted Williams trotted out to left field at Fenway Park on July 9, 1946, Boston fans could not have imagined what kind of day The Splendid Splinter had in store for them – and for the four National League pitchers he would face that day.  Expectations, however, were pretty high.  Williams came into the game hitting .347, with 23 home runs, 82 runs scored and 71 RBI in 79 regular season games.  Compared to the day he was about to have that would look like a slump. Here’s how Williams’ day went.

In the first inning, batting third and facing the Cubs’ Claude Passeau, Williams drew a walk and then scored on a home run by the Yankees’ Charlie Keller.

In the bottom of the fourth, leading off against new NL hurler Kirby Higbe of the Dodgers, Williams homered to give the AL a 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, with Higbe still in the game, Teddy Ballgame came up again – this time with one out  the Senators’ Stan Spence on third and the Browns’ Vern Stephens on second.   This time, Williams delivered a run-scoring single.

In the bottom of the seventh, this time facing the Reds’ Ewell Blackwell with none on and two out, Williams singled again.

Finally, in the bottom of the eighth – facing the Pirates’ Rip Sewell and his Ephus pitch – with Stephens and the Browns’ Jack Kramer on base, William capped of his day with a three-run homer.

The AL won 12-0 that’s day – and Williams’ final tally was:  four-for-four, plus a walk, two home runs, four runs scored and five runs driven in.   In the process, Williams set or tied the following All Star Game single-game records: runs scored (four – Williams still stands alone); total bases (ten – Williams stands alone); runs batted in (five – later, 1954, tied by the Indians’ Al Rosen); base hits (four – tying the Cardinals’ Ducky Medwick, 1937, and later matched by the Red Sox’ Carl Yastrzemski, 1970); home runs (two – tied, in 1954, by the Indians Al Rosen).

Want a topper to clinch this as the best-ever All Star Game hitting performance?  Williams was coming off three years away from big league pitching (1943-45), serving in the Marine Corps.


Best All Star Game Performance Ever – On the Mound

Carl Hubbell, New York Giants, 1934


In just the second-ever All Star Game, Giants’ southpaw Carl Hubbell turned in a pitching performance for the ages – arguably the best ever in All Star competition.  Hubbell, on his way to a 21-win season (the second of five straight 20+ win campaigns) , came into the game with a 12-5, 2.76 ERA regular-season stat line. Hubell had struck out 58 hitters in 156 1/3 innings pitched to that point, but he was about to make the strikeout a much bigger part of his game.

The game was played on July 10, 1934 at New York’s Polo Grounds – with screwball-specialist Hubbell starting for the NL and Yankee Lefty Gomez starting for the AL.  Facing an AL line up stacked with some of the game’s greatest hitters, Hubbell got off to a rocky start, giving up a lead-off single to Detroit’s Charlie Gehringer, followed by a walk to the Senators Heinie Manusch. Then the fun began, as Hubbell set down five straight future Hall of Famers – all on strikeouts – the Yankees’ Babe Ruth, Yankees’ Lou Gehrig, and Atheletic’ Jimmie Foxx to close out the first. Then the White Sox’ Al Simmons and  Senators’ Joe Cronin to open the second.  Hubbell then gave up a single to Yankees’ Bill Dickey, before whiffing Lefty Gomez (who also made the Hall of Fame) to end the inning. After an uneventful third inning – two fly outs, a ground out and walk – Hubbell left the game credited with three scoreless innings, two hits, two walks and six strikeouts – all six future Hall of Famers (although Gomez made it as a pitcher).

Hubbell’s six strikeouts remain the All Star Game single-game record – tied in 1943 by the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer (2 2/3 innings pitched); 1950 by the Giants’ Larry Jansen (5 innings pitched); and 1967 by the Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins (3 innings pitched). Given the place in history of Hubbell’s six victims, BBRT considers this top (or at least most memorable All Star Game mound performance.  Oh yes, the AL won the game 9-7, and how did those strike out victims fare When not facing Hubbell?  Against the rest of the NL All Star staff, they went seven-for-sixteen, with four doubles, five runs scored and three RBI.


Now here, with a much appreciated assist from the stat-packed baseballreference.com, are a few All Star targets for today’s stars to shoot for:

  • Innings pitched in a single AS Game: Yankees’ Lefty Gomez – 6 (1935)
  • At bats in a single AS Game: Willie Jones, Phillies – 7 (1950)
  • Doubles in a single AS Game: two, nine players (Most recently, the Brewers’ Jonathan LeCroy in 2014.  No surprise, LeCroy had a league-leading 53 doubles that season.)
  • Triples in a single AS Game: Rod Carew, Twins – 2 (1978) – leading off the first and third innings, both off the Giants’ Vida Blue.
  • Stolen Bases in a single AS game: Two by five players. (Most recently, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro, 2011.)

How about a few career records:

  • AS games played, career: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial – 24.   Note: There is some confusion here since, in some years, there were two All Star games.  Aaron holds the record for seasons on an All Star game team (21), and total All Star Game rosters made (25). Mays and Musial each played in 24 AS Games in 20 All Star seasons.
  • AS Game hits, career: Willie Mays – 23
  • AS Game doubles, career: Dave Winfield – 7
  • AS Game triples, career: Willie Mays and Brooks Robinson – 3
  • AS Game home runs, career: Stan Musial – 6
  • AS Game RBI, career: Ted Williams – 12
  • AS Game walks, career: Ted Williams – 11
  • AS Game stolen bases, career: Willie Mays – 6
  • All Star Game runs scored, career: Willie Mays – 20.
  • AS Game wins  – Lefty Gomez – 3
  • AS Game appearances: Roger Clemens – 10
  • AS Games started: Lefty Gomez, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale – 5
  • AS Game saves: Mariano Rivera – 4
  • AS Games innings pitched: Don Drysdale – 19 1/3
  • As Game strikeouts: Don Drysdale – 19

Note: It’s hard to pick AS Game career leaders in such areas as ERA and batting average. (How many at bats or innings pitched do you use to qualify?) However, here are two BBRT nominations. If you use 20 at bats as a standard, your batting average leader is Charlie Gehringer at .500 (ten-for-twenty in six AS games, plus nine walks). If you use ten innings pitched as a qualifier, only Mel Harder can  boast a 0.00 ERA (13 innings).

So, there a look at the All Star Game record book – hope you enjoy the game.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT