Pitch Counts? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Pitch Counts!

Don’t Worry Boss I Got This … One Pitch – Three Outs – One Win

One and done, that was Ken Ash’s day on July 27, 1930 – when he threw just one pitch, but recorded three outs and earned a major league victory.

ASHKen Ash was a journeyman right-hander who spent more time in the minor leagues than in the majors. Between 1924 and 1940, he toiled in the minors for 14 seasons – appearing in 462 games – winning 176, losing 153.  He did make it to the big leagues in four of those seasons (1925, ’28, ’29, ’30), going 6-8, with a 4.96 ERA in 55 games. He also made his way into the record books as the only MLB hurler to record three outs on one pitch.

It happened 87 years ago today and here’s how it went down.

The Cubs were batting against Ash’s Reds in the top of the sixth, down 2-1, when Reds’ starter Larry Benton got into trouble. He started the inning by giving up a triple to Cubs’ 3B Woody English. This was followed by a run-scoring single to RF Kiki Cuyler, a run-scoring double to CF Hack Wilson, a wild pitch (moving Wilson to third) and, ultimately, a walk to LF Danny Taylor.  That was all for Benton and Ash came in from the bullpen to face Cubs’ first sacker Charlie Grimm.

Grimm grounded Ash’s first pitch to Reds’ shortstop Hod Ford.  Wilson moved off the bag at third – expecting the Reds to take the double play, allowing him to score.  Ford, instead, fired the ball to Reds’ third baseman Tony Cuccinello, as Wilson broke for home.  Cuccinello sent the horsehide on to catcher Clyde Sukeforth, who tagged Wilson for the first out of the inning. Seeing the potential for a rundown between third and home,  Grimm rounded first and headed for second.  Oops!  Taylor was still at second.  Grimm reversed toward first, but Sukeforth threw to Reds’ first baseman Joe Stripp, who laid the tag on Grimm for the second out.  Not to be outdone by Grimm’s base running miscue, Taylor broke for third. Stripp threw to Cuccinello who tagged Taylor to complete a 6-5-2-3-5 triple play. Red Lucas pinch hit for Ash in the bottom of the inning – as the Reds took a 6-3 lead.  The lead held and Ash got the win – as well as the distinction of recording three outs on a single pitch. Thanks, in part, to some remarkably aggressive – and inept – Cubs’ baserunning.


Although the Reds’ Ken Ash did record a victory and get three outs on just one pitch (on July 27, 1930) he does not hold the record for the fewest pitches thrown in a major league win.  Although tracking is not complete, there have been at least two instances of pitchers “earning” a victory without throwing a single pitch to the plate. The most recent no-pitch win came on July 7, 2009 – and went to Alan Embree of the Rockies. Embree came into a game against the Nationals in the top of the eighth inning with the contest knotted at four runs apiece, two out and the Nats’ Austin Kearns on first. Embree’s first throw was not to the plate, but rather to Rockies’ first baseman Todd Helton. Kearns was caught off base and broke for second. He was eventually tagged out by Embree in a 1-3-6-1 run down.  Seth Smith pinch-hit for Embree in the bottom of the inning as the Rockies scored (and held on) to give Embree the win – without tossing a single pitch.

The Orioles’ B.J. Ryan also earned a victory without tossing a pitch – in a very similar situation. On May 1, 2003. Ryan came on in the bottom of the seventh with the Tigers up on the Orioles 2-1. There were two outs and the Orioles’ SS Omar Infante was one first. Ryan’s first toss went to 1B Jeff Conine and Infante broke for second – where SS Deivi Cruz took the throw from Conine and applied the tag. The Orioles scored three times in the top of the eighth to take the lead, Buddy Groom pitched the eighth for Detroit and Jorge Julio closed it out in the ninth – giving Ryan a no-pitch victory.

Primary sources:  MLB.com; Baseball-Reference.com; Society for American Baseball Research


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Old Sports Cards’ Ten Favorite Baseball Cards

To most of us, as soon as we started playing or watching baseball, we also started buying. collecting and trading baseball cards.   I fondly recall waiting for each year’s newly released Bowman or Topps cards to make it to the dime store.  As kids, we searched through the packets for our favorite players, bemoaned how quickly we accumulated multiples of seldom-played utility infielders, negotiated trades with the fervor of Frank Lane and even invented games using the statitistics on the backs. (I also remember getting a sore jaw from chewing so much bubble gum, but can’t deny enjoying the sweet scent that stayed on the cards and the sharp crack when you bit into a partiularly dry piece of gum).

OldSportsCardsWith all of this in mind, Baeball Roundtable is pleased to share a guest post from Ross Uitts – founder of the web/blog site Old Sports Cards  (oldsportscards.com).  Uitts is a lifetime sports card collector who shares information and insight about collecting, buying, grading – and enjoying – cards from across the sports spectrum. Among his recent posts: 1952 Topps Baseball Cards: Key Facts, Values And Checklist;  The 60 Most Valuable Baseball Cards – The All Time Dream list; Eleven Stan Musial Baseball Cards You Need to Own; and The Best Sports Card Auctions.  You can visit Uitts’ site by clicking here – and BBRT will be adding a permanent link to Old Sports Cards to the list on the right hand side of this page. 

So, here is Ross Uitts look at his ten favorite baseball cards.  Enjoy.


My Ten Favorite Baseball Cards

by Ross Uitts

For decades, baseball fans young and old have turned to baseball cards as a way to connect more with their favorite teams and players. In my case, growing up as a kid in the late 1980’s, that meant I was chasing cards of Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ken Griffey Jr. just to name a few. They may not have been the most expensive baseball cards, but that didn’t matter to me.

Prior to the internet, card backs offered one of the best ways to keep up with my favorite players’ statistics and development. And trading them amongst friends naturally became a great way to share our passion for the game.

I collected basketball and football cards, too, but I think I speak for most sports card collectors when I say that baseball cards were always the most desirable in general. Baseball is our country’s national pastime after all. And trading cards were almost everywhere when baseball was at its peak in popularity from the early 1900’s through the 1950’s.

During that time period, tobacco and confectionery companies promoted their products by distributing them with cards of baseball’s greatest icons like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. And while there were dozens of baseball card issues from that era, there were very few football, basketball and hockey cards by comparison. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons baseball cards are more popular: they just had a head start in production, creating a larger fan base along the way. Kind of the same reason Superman is more popular than Iron Man: he just had a head start.

Coming back to the 1980’s, we saw collector demand for those old baseball cards became huge. Kids who collected in the 1920’s to 1950’s were bitten by the nostalgia bug and wanted cards they either lost or threw away back then. The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle was one of the cards to lead the way. Prices rose and people famously started to even consider them as investments safer than stocks, real estate or bonds. That pushed their fame into the mainstream media and even into the minds of non-collectors. I think that’s why even non-collectors can probably tell you what the Holy Grail of baseball cards is (the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner), but may not know the Holy Grail of basketball (the 1948 Bowman George Mikan) or football cards (the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski).

Having said all this, what would be my top ten favorite baseball cards of all time? After giving it some hard thought, I’ve narrowed it down to just ten … but it wasn’t easy. If you asked me again in a week, the list may very well change a bit. But here is my list for now:

1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card



The Dodgers have been and always will be my favorite team. And although it’s hard for me to pick a favorite from among the many Dodger legends, Koufax has always narrowly beaten the others out for me. From 1961 to 1966, he turned in one of the most dominant six-year stretches that the game will likely ever see. His legend is forever cemented in baseball history, and as a Dodger pitcher, he holds the top spot for me.

1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson Rookie Card

RossJackieRRobinson comes in at an extremely close second place on my list of Dodger favorites. His impact on the game of baseball and American history as the first to break the MLB color barrier cannot be overstated. His 1948 Leaf rookie card is a key to the set and is instantly recognizable. The set design is fairly basic by hobby standards, but the imagery and eye appeal of Jackie’s card is pretty hard to beat.





1909-11 T206 White Border Honus Wagner

RossWagnerIt’s the Holy Grail of baseball cards, so I’d be crazy to leave this off the list. Some say Wagner demanded compensation from the American Tobacco Company for using his image. Others believe he merely didn’t want his image associated with promoting tobacco to kids. Either way, his card was pulled from production, making it far more scarce than many other cards in the iconic set. So much so, that it’s value has steadily climbed into the seven-figure range and anytime one surfaces for sale or auction, it usually ends up in the news. I can’t imagine making a list without this card on it.



1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311

RossMantleHere’s another card that’s likely on every collector’s top ten favorites list. And for many, it actually sits on top ahead of the T206 Wagner. It’s become highly debated as to whether the 1952 Topps Mantle is actually the face of the hobby. The story of the card and how it became so valuable is amazing. It’s not his rookie card, that would be his 1951 Bowman issue. So that’s not why it’s valuable. It’s valuable because it’s the most iconic card in the most iconic post-War baseball card set. Furthermore, it’s a “high-number” card, meaning it was part of the last run of cards, cards #311 to #407, to be printed during the summer of 1952. Kids were becoming more interested in football cards late that summer, so Topps shortened production of the high-number cards. And on top of all that, Topps famously dumped thousands of high-number cards into the ocean during the 1980’s, resulting in even fewer copies in existence today.

1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Tobacco (Ty Cobb Back)

RossTyCobbI absolutely love this card and it’s a prime example of how subtle nuances within the hobby can skyrocket the value of a baseball card. The T206 set is special for many reasons, but one of them is, without a doubt, the numerous brand advertisements on the backs – 16 different backs in total. Estimates place the number of front/back combinations around 5,500, which led to this set being nicknamed “The Monster.” With approximately 22 or fewer known to exist, all in low grades, the “Ty Cobb back” is the rarest of them all. Even without the “Ty Cobb back,” it’s still an incredibly popular and valuable card. But having that distinct back puts it way over the top of any other Cobb card out there.

1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth

RossBabeRuthAs I mentioned earlier, from the early 1900’s through the 1920’s, many tobacco and confectionery companies distributed their products with baseball cards as a way to boost sales. Baseball was the biggest sport in the country by far and Babe Ruth sat atop as the king of the game. Since he was the game’s most popular player during that era, Ruth appeared on dozens of cards. But it’s actually his 1933 Goudey #53 that was printed later on that’s my personal favorite Ruth card. He appeared on three other cards in the set (#144, #149 and #181), but this is his most iconic. His 1916 M101-5/4 Sporting News rookie card would blow this one out of the water in terms of price. But, in my opinion, the eye appeal of this Ruth card is unmatched by any other.

1910 T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson

RossJoeJacksonJoe Jackson’s 1909-11 American Caramel E90-1 issue is his recognized rookie card and his most valuable overall, but I’ve always found this one to be his most interesting. The set itself is extremely rare and features hundreds of Minor League ball players. On this card, Jackson is shown as a member of the Cleveland Naps’ minor league team, the New Orleans Pelicans. He dominated the minors and the Naps would call him up late in the 1910 season. The rest is history. Few collectors are ever able to see this card in person, making it one of the hobby’s rarest of all.



1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente Rookie Card

RossClementeClemente was an amazing player on the field and an amazing person off the field. Few players are able to exhibit the amount of character that he showed. His rookie card sits atop the Koufax and Killebrew rookies as the keys to the 1955 Topps set. And it’s one of the most iconic cards of the 1950’s in general. It’s a must have for any Clemente fan or any serious vintage collector.

1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays Rookie Card

RossMaysMays and Mantle both appeared in the 1951 Bowman and 1952 Topps sets. But unlike Mantle, Mays’s 1951 Bowman rookie card is actually more valuable than his 1952 Topps issue. Mays was card #261 in the 1952 Topps set, which put him outside the “high-number” series cards (#311 to #407) and therefore his ’52 Topps card isn’t as scarce. Had his been a high-number card in the ’52 Topps set, there’s no doubt that card would be more expensive than his 1951 Bowman issue. Either way, his ’51 Bowman rookie card is instantly recognizable and, in my opinion, features some of the best imagery of any vintage baseball card. Such a great depiction of one of the game’s greatest — if not the greatest.

1948 Leaf #8 Satchel Paige Rookie Card

RossPaigeFew players are more interesting than Satchel Paige. Not only did he bring an amazing skill set to the game, he did it with showmanship and charisma. His 1948 Leaf #8 rookie was a single print, making it even more rare than others in the set. Add the fact that it can be incredibly difficult to find in higher grades (due to poor print quality and focus) and it becomes arguably the toughest post-War card to collect.





So there you have it, my ten favorite baseball cards. It was difficult having to leave cards like the 1954 Topps Hank Aaron, the 1925 Exhibits Lou Gehrig, and the 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams among others off the list. But I had to draw the line somewhere.

If I had to give someone advice on collecting old baseball cards, I think it would be in the same spirit as this list: decide on the cards you like and stick with them.

The number-one thing to remember is that you should always collect what you love. Take my list for example. There are cards out there worth more money than some of those I mention above.  But what most hobby veterans will tell you is that card values will always fluctuate. So if the value of your cards happens to decrease, would you rather hold cards you love or hate?

Don’t chase money. Stick to Hall of Famers or your favorite team players and you’ll enjoy the hobby as it was meant to be.

Baseball Roundtable thanks Ross Uitts and Old Sports Cards for this guest post. Whether you collect baseball cards or are just a fan who remembers them fondly, I suggest you visit oldsportscards.com. Lots of interesting information there. For example, in the “Eleven Stan Musial Baseball Cards You Need to Own” post, I learned that there are fewer Musial cards than those of some other stars of his era because, between 1954 and 1957, Stan the Man just “didn’t want to sign (a contract) for cards.”  

There also are post on topics like the Best Baseball Blogs for Every Team in the Big Leagues and the Best Cities for Baseball Collectors and Enthusiasts.  You’ll also find “Buyers Guides” for the cards of players ranging from Babe Ruth to Satchel Paige  to Tony Gwynn – in which Uitts comments on what makes the cards so special AND what makes the players so special.  I’m sure you’ll find some of your favorites.  (And, of course, there is info on trading cards from other sports – basektball, football, hockey – if you are so inclined.  

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Baseball In Its Purest Form

Just a couple of days ago, this blog looked at a Roseville (MN) Youth Baseall Championship game.  (I love this game at all levels – and this may be its purest.)  For that post click, here.  It was a see-saw contest that ended on a legitimate triple play.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me – just my phone. Fortunately, Douglas and Tamar Saum were shooting the game for the Roseville youth baseball organization. Baseball Roundtable thanks them both for letting BBRT share these great shots that reflect what our national pastime really is all about. I wanted to share them with all BBRT readers because I believe they will rekindle memories of that time when baseball – from pick-up games to Little League to Wiffle Ball (TM) in the backyard to World Series shutouts tossed into a pitchback to games we invented using the statisticas on the back of baseeball cards – first became part of our lives.  All photos by Douglas and Tamar Saum. 

I hope you enjoy this look at baseball being played (as well as coached and umpired) for the love of the game.

Coming soon:  A guest post from Ross Uitts of Old Sports Cards on his ten favorite baseball cards o(f all time. 


Good form, intense concentration, getting that force out at the two bag.

Good form, intense concentration, getting that force out at the two bag.

The crowd rewards a safety as the runer gets to first.

The crowd rewards a safety as the runer gets to first.

Making contact is so satisfying.

Making contact is so satisfying.


The opposition agrees. ... getting the bat on the ball is a tension reliever.

The opposition agrees … getting the bat on the ball is a tension reliever.


The dugout can be a stressful place when you find your team trailing.

The dugout can be a stressful place when you find your team trailing.


A triple play - a victory - a chanmpinship - and a hat toss for the Red Sox.

A triple play – a victory – a championship – and a hat toss for the Red Sox.










Baseball Reliquary 2017 Shrine of the Eternals Induction

reliquaryThe Baseball Reliquary – the national pastimes’ most fan-centric organization – Sunday (July 17) held induction ceremonies for its 2017 Shrine of the Eternals class.  Joining such already enshrined baseball luminaries as Roberto Clemente, Dizzy Dean, the San Diego Chicken, Bill James and Dr. Frank (Tommy John surgery) Jobe were: legendary Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully; player turned self-deprecating broadcaster Bob Uecker; and famously inept – but immensely popular – pitcher (and cartoon icon) Charlie Brown.

Also honored (for fan contributions) were Negro Leagues players advocate Cam Perron and (for contributions to preservation of baseball history) Latino Baseball History Project founder Dr. Richard Santillan.

The ceremonies – already established as a traditionally both raucous and reverent event – were held before a packed house of baseball fans at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena (CA) Central Library. They included musical performances (Take Me Out to the Ball Game) by the Symphomaniax (a musical quartet representing the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra); plenty of cow bell ringing; and a keynote address by award winning writer/journalist and Detroit Tiger/Mark Fidrych fan Dave Mersey.

Before taking a look at this year’s electees, I’d like to provide a brief overview of both the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals. If you are a baseball fan and not a Reliquary member, it’s time you considered joining this free-spirited (if somewhat eccentric) organization dedicated to celebrating the human side of our natinal pastime. (If you’ve been following Baseball Roundtable, you’ve read this pitch before.  Please bear with me.)  The Baseball Reliquary is a fan-focused organization committed to recognizing baseball’s place in American culture and to honoring the character and characters of the national pastime. It pursues that mission through its collection of artifacts, traveling exhibitions, ties to the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies and (perhaps, most visibly) through its own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame – the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary, click here.

The Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals

Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs from the HOF in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. The Baseball Reliquary believes that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability offers the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.  Criteria for “Shrine” election include: the distinctiveness of play (good or bad); the uniqueness of character and personality; and the imprint that the individual has made on the baseball landscape. Each year, the Baseball Reliquary submits a list of candidates to its members and the top three vote-getters are honored.

Now the 2017 honorees:




Vin Scully (1927-  ) – 59.5%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

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

I have never seen an exact count of the number of games Scully “called” during his career, but we do know he was on the broadcast team for 28 World Series, 21 no-hitters and three perfect games.

The fluid sound of Scully’s voice and his often poetic anecdotes, became as much the sound of major league baseball as the crack of the bat, the slap of leather ball into leather glove or the shouts of vendors eager to part with hot dogs or beer.

How impressive are Vin Scully’s credentials?  Here are just of few of the recognitions he has received: Baseball Hall of Fame Ford Frick Award (1982); Lifetime Achievement Emmy and induction into National Radio Hall of Fame (1995); three-time national Sportscaster of the Year (1965, 1978, 1982); American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame (1992) and Sportscaster of the Century (2000) recognitions; MLB Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award (2014); and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Again these are just a few of his recognitions. (Scully, for example, was also named California Sportscaster of the Year 32 times, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more than one street named after him.)  And now, he takes his place in the Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on Scully, try The Vin Scully Story, by Carl Smith (2009).

At times I’ll be listening to him and I’ll think, “Oh, I wish I could call upon that expression the way he does. He paints the picture more beautifully than anyone who’s ever called a baseball game.”

                                                                                        Dick Enberg



Bob Uecker (1934- ) – 37%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Dubbed “Mr. Baseball” by TV talk show host Johnny Carson for his tongue-in-cheek approach to the national pastime, Bob Uecker finally has his seat “in the front row” – as  a Shrine of the Eternals inductee.

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



Bob Uecker has the ability to translate failure into success – particulary if that success is measured in good will and smiles.  His self-deprecating approach to having reached the ultimate level of the national pastime somehow brings us all a little closer to the game. 

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

What separates Uecker from many former players-turned-broadcasters is his dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, of his original signing, he says “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for three-thousand dollars. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scrapped it up.”

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

                                               Bob Uecker, reflecting on his MLB career

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

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


Charlie Brown (1950-    ) – 25.5%

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

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

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

Charlie Brown is all about hope, optimism and perseverance. There is always the next contest or the coming season.  

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

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

                                                                                Charlie Brown

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


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


Additional Awards were presented to:

The Hilda Award – Cam Perron

The Hilda Award – established in memory of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers’ super-fan Hilda Chester – recognizes  distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. The 2017 Hildo went to Cam Perron.

As a middle-schooler, Perron began writing letters seeking the autographs of veteran Negro League players.  Perron’s early interest in the Negro Leagues quickly grew into a true passion for those too often unsung heroes of the Negro Leagues.  By his freshman year in high school, Perron was organizing annual Negro Leagues reunions, bringing together (and celebrating) players who had been out of touch (and, perhaps, out of mind) for decades. In addition to brining new light to the accomplishments of Negro Leagues heroes, Perron also has been a key force in securing pensions for many of the players through a program offered by Major League Baseball. A 2016 graduate of Tulane University, Perron, now 22-years-old, continues his research into – and promotion of – Negro Leagues players and history. In those efforts, he regularly communicates with former players. He was recently spotlighted on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.


Tony Salin Memorial Award – Dr. Richard Santillan

The Tony Salin Award – named in memory of the late baseball author and historian – recognizes individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history. The 2017 recipient, Dr. Richard Santillan, has taught Chicano Studies for the past 45 years in the California State University system. He also is a founding member of the Latino Baseball History Project at California State University, San Bernardino.

Since 2011, Santillan also has been the lead author for a bokseries on Mexican-American baseball (Arcadia Publishing). The series showcases Mexican-American baseball and softball photos (and stories) through the lens of race, class, gender, political and civil rights, the border, prejudice and discrimination. It also reflects on how baseball and softball have served as political tools to advance equality and social justice. This summer will see the release of the eleventh and twelfth books in the series (eleven covering Houston and Southeast Texas and twelve covering El Paso). Three more books will be released in 2018. Dr. Santillan and his wife, Teresa, also recently donated their Los Angeles Dodgers collection, one of the largest private Dodgers collections in the world, to the Baseball Reliquary. It is housed at the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College.


Coming Soon: Announcement of BBRT’s Killebrew and Sano bobblehead giveaway; a special guest post from Ross Uitts Old Sports Cards (oldsportscards.com) on his ten favorite baseball cards of all time.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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


Thanks to Cody Bellinger – A Look at Rookie Cycles

Okay, what do Cody Bellinger and Eric Valent have in common?  Or Dave “King Kong” Kingman and Michael “Pinky” Higgins?   Or  Mox McQuery and Oddibe McDowell?

BellingerThe answer: They all hit for the cycle as major league rookies.  On July 15, as much was made of Cody Bellinger becoming the first Dodger rookie to hit for the cycle, I started  wondering just how many of MLB’s 310 cycles were achieved by rookies. I’ve identified 25 such occurences and we’ll take a look at each of those players in this post, but first a few bits of trivia.

No Cliff Hanger – Getting the Cycle Out of the Way

heatcoteCliff Heathcote (Cardinals, 1918) is the youngest rookie to hit for the cycle (20 years, 171 days), but not the youngest player ever to achieve the feat. On May 16, 1929, the Giants’ Mel Ott hit for the cycle at 20 years, 75 days of age – but he was already in his fourth MLB season.

Heathcote does hold the record for record a cycle earliest in a major league career.  His came in just his sixth MLB appearance – and included his first-ever MLB double, triple and home  run.


A few other “stats”:

  • Of the 25 rookie cycles, six (24 percent) were achieved by center fielders batting lead off;
  • In five of the 25 rookie cycles, the home run was the players’ first major league round tripper.
  • The Giant’s Fred Lewis completed a rookie cycle on May 13, 2007 that included his first MLB triple, first MLB home run and just his second MLB double.
  • Carlos Gomez, still active, is the only player to (thus far) to achieve a second cycle after notching a rookie cycle. Gomez’ rookie cycle came in 2008, his second cycle this April.

Eight is Enough?

We’ve already seen eight cycles this season: Wil Myers (April 10); Trea Turner (April 25); Carlos Gomez (April 29); Nolan Arenado (June 18); Cody Bellinger (July 15). The most cycles achieved in any one season? Eight. Those came in 1933 (Pepper Martin, Chuck Klein, Arky Vaughn, Mickey Cochrane, Pinky Higgins, Jimmie Foxx, Earl Averill, Babe Herman) and 2009 (Orlando Hudson, Ian Kinsler, Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Felix Pie, B.J. Upton).

Now here are the 25 player to hit for the cycle as rookies:

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers … July 7, 2017

The Dodgers’ 22-year-old All Star rookie was in his 72nd MLB game, playing at 1B and batting cleanup when he completed his cycle in a 7-1 LA victory over the Marlins.  Bellinger went four-for-five with two runs scored and three RBI – in a game that included his 16th double, second triple and 26th home run.  As I write this post, Bellinger stands at .268-26-61 on the season and his MLB career.  Note:  I was going to get this out a day earlier, but I took time out to attend a youth baseball game (see more on that here.)

Brandon Barnes … Astros, July 19, 2013

The 27-year-old outfielder hit for the cycle in his 119th MLB game. He went five-for-five in the game with three runs scored and two RBI, as the Astros lost to Seattle 10-7. The triple was his only three-bagger of the season. Barnes finished 2013 at .240-8-41 (11 steals) in 136 games.  In five MLB seasons, he went .242-19-100.

Carlos Gomez, Twins … May 7, 2008

Twenty-two-year-old Gomez remained a rookie in 2008, despite his 127 MLB at bats in 2007.  He hit for the cycle in his 86th career game. Gomez, leading off and playing CF, went four-for-six with two runs scored and three RBI in the game (he struck out in his other two at bats) – as the Twins ripped the White Sox 13-1. Gomez finished the season at .258-7-59 and remains active in MLB (as this is written, his career line is .256-128-485).

Fred Lewis, Giants … May 13, 2007

Lewis was 26-years-old and playing in just his 16th MLB game when he completed his cycle. Lewis was leading off and playing CF in the Giants’ 15-2 thrashing of the Rockies.  Lewis went five-for-six in the game (two singles), with three runs scored and four RBI.  The extra-base hits were the second double, first triple and first home run of his career. Lewis finished the campaign at .287-3-19 in 58 games. He played seven seasons in the majors, with a .266-27-136 line (535 games). Notably, he hit nearly as many triples (21) as home runs (27) in his career.

Luke Scott, Astros … July 28, 2006

The 28-year-old Scott (playing right field) was in his 45th MLB game when he hit for the cycle in perfect reverse order – home run in the fourth inning, triple in the fifth, double in the seventh, single in the eleventh. Scott went four-for-six in the contest, which the Astros lost to the Diamondbacks 8-7 in eleven innings. Scott scored once and drove in five. Scott had his best MLB season in 2006, going .336-10-37 in 65 games. In a nine-year MLB career, he went .258-135-436.

Eric Valent, Mets … July 29, 2004

The 27-year-old rookie had already spent part of three seasons (2001-2003) in the majors, but still qualified as a rookie (he had appeared in just 47 MLB games) when he entered the 2004 season. On July 29, Valent was playing left field and batting seventh for the Mets, who would go on to beat the Expos 10-1. Valent went four-for-four, with three runs scored and three RBI (he also drew a walk). The season was the best of Valent’s MLB career (205 games in five seasons) – and the only campaign in which he played in more than 28 MLB games. In 2004, he went .267-13-34 in 130 contests.  His career line was .234-13-37.

Travis Hafner, Indians … August 14, 2003

The 26-year-old Hafner was in his 81st career MLB game (in the DH spot) when he collected his cycle.  He went four-for-five that day, with three runs scored and two RBI. His Indians topped the Twins 8-3. It was his first triple of the season. He ended  2013 at .254-14-40 and hit .273-213-731 over 12 MLB seasons.

Chris Singleton, White Sox … July 6, 1999

Singleton was a 26-year-old rookie when he hit for the cycle – in his 61st MLB game. Playing center field and batting second, Singleton went five-for-six (an extra single thrown in) with three runs scored and four RBI. Chicago still lost to Kansas City 8-7.  Singleton finished the season at .300-17-72 and hit .273-45-276 in six MLB campaigns. His rookie season saw Singleton achieve career highs in hits (149), doubles (31), triples (6), home runs (17), RBI (72) and batting average (.300).

Alex Ochoa … Mets, July 3, 1996

Alex Ochoa was a 24-year-old Mets’ rookie when he hit for the cycle. Ochao started in right field and went five-for-five (the extra hit was a double) as the Mets beat the Phillies 10-6. Ochoa scored three times and collected three RBI in the game. He finished the 1996 season at .294-4-33 (in 82 games).  Ochoa played in eight MLB campaigns, hitting .279-46-261.

Ray Lankford, Cardinals … September 15, 1991

Lankford, at 24-years-old, hit for the cycle in his 170th career game, as the Cardinals bested the Mets 7-2. Lankford, leading off and playing center field, went four-for-four with four runs scored and one RBI.  Lankford ended 1991 at .251-9-69 – also stealing 44 bases and leading the NL in triples with 15. He had a 14-season MLB career, hitting .272-238-874 and swiping 258 bags. He twiced topped 30 home runs and exceeded 30 steals three times.

Oddibe McDowell, Rangers … July 23, 1985

The 22-year-old McDowell was in his 59th career game when he hit for the cycle – leading off and playing CF as the Ranger topped the Indians 8-4. McDowell went five-for-five that day (an extra single), scoring three times and driving in three. He finished his rookie campaign at .239-18-42 and went .262-74-266 in seven MLB campaigns.

Gary Ward, Twins, September 18, 1980

The 26-year-old Ward achieved the cycle in just his 14th career MLB game.  He went four-for-five, with two runs and two RBI as the Twins lost to the Brewers 9-8. It was Ward’s second double, second triple and first home run of the season and his career. (He was leading off and playing left field.)  Ward finished 1980 at .463-1-10 in 13 games and went on to a 12-season MLB career and a line of .276-130-597.

Dave Kingman, Giants … April 16, 1972

Kingman was 23-years-old and in his 43rd MLB game when he hit for the cycle – scoring three runs and driving in six as his Giants  topped the Astros 10-6. The big guy was at third base for the game, in which he went four-for-five. In what would turn out to be typical Kingman fashion, he hit .225-29-83 for the year (with 140 strikeouts in 135 games). For his 16-season MLB career, Kingman hit .236-442-1,210. He also picked up two home run titles and hit a high of 48 dingers in 1979.

Vic Wertz, Tigers, September 14, 1947

Wertz hit for the cycle in his 88th career game (at age 22) – as his Tigers bested the Senators 16-6  in the first game of a doubleheader.  Wertz went four-for-five, with five runs scored (he also drew a walk) and four RBI. The left fielder finished the season at .288-6-44 and enjoyed a 17-season MLB career (.277-266-1,178), hitting 20 or more home runs in six seasons and topping 100 RBI five times.

Bill Salkeld, Pirates …  August 4, 1945

The 28-year-old rookie was in his 60th MLB game, starting behind the plate for the Pirates, when he completed his cycle.  Salkeld went five-for-five (an extra single), scored once and drove in five.  The RBI are notable, since they were the Pirates entire output in a 6-5 loss to the Cardinals.  He finished the season at .311-15-52 (95 games) and played 356 games over six MLB campaigns (.273-31-132).  Salkeld hit only two triples in his MLB career.

Leon Culberson, Red Sox … July 3, 1943

The 24-year-old Culberson was in just his 31st career game when he hit for the cycle – and did it in natural order with a single in the first inning, a double in the third, a triple in the sixth (the first of his career) and a home run in the eighth (of the inside-the-park variety). Culberson, playing CF and leading off, went four-for-five with three runs scored and two RBI as the Red Sox topped the Indians 12-4. Culberson hit .272-3-34 that season, and .266-14-131 over a six-season MLB career.

Bobby Rosar, Yankees, July 19, 1940

The 26-year-old was in his 72nd career game when he hit for the cycle.  He went four-for-five with four runs scored and four RBI as the Yankees blasted the Indians 15-6. The New York catcher finished the season at .298-4-37 in 73 games. He had a 13-season MLB career and a stat line of .261-18-367. Despite his low batting average, Rosar – a fine defensive catcher – was a five-time All Star and still holds a share of the AL record for consecutive games in a season without an error by a catcher (117).

Moose Solters, Red Sox … August 19, 1934

A 28-year-old rookie, Solters was in his 76th career game when he hit for the cycle as the Red Sox lost to Detsroit 8-6 in the first game of a doubleheader.  The Boston center fielder went four-for-five, with two runs scored and three RBI. (He went zero-for-four in Game Two.) Solters finished the season at .299-7-58 in 101 games.  His line over a nine-season MLB career was .289-83-599.

Roy Carlyle, Red Sox … July 21, 1925

Carlyle was 24-years-old and in his 48th career MLB game when he hit for the cycle in the first game of a doubleheader.  The Boston left fielder went four-for-five  with two runs scored and four RBI as the Red Sox beat the White 6-3. Carlyle finished the season at .325-7-49 in 94 games.  He played only one more MLB campaign (1926) and ended his MLB career at .312-9-76 in 174 games. It was his glove that did him in. Carlyle’s career fielding percentage was just .910.  In 233 career chances in the outfield, he booted nearly one in ten (21 errors).

Pinky Higgins, Athletics … August 6, 1933

The 24-year-old third baseman was in his 115th MLB game when he achieved the rookie cycle.  Higgins went four-for-five in the game, with three runs scored and five RBI as his A’s beat the Senators 12-8. Higgins finished the season at .314-13-99 (34 doubles and 12 triples). In a 14-season MLB career, Higgins hit .292-140-1,075.

Cliff Heathcote, Cardinals … June 13, 1918

The 20-year-old Cardinals’ center fielder hit for the cycle in just his sixth major league game – a feat only slightly diminished by the fact that he had nine at bats in the 19-inning, 8-8 tie with the Phillies. Heathcote went four-for-nine in the game, with two runs scored and three RBI. The extra base hits were the first double, first triple and first home run of his MLB career. Heathcote finished the season at .259-4-32 in 88 games.  In a 15-season MLB career, he hit .275-42-448. Like so many of the rookies on this list, Heathcote was leading off and playing center field.

Bill Collins, Doves (Boston) … October 6, 1910

The 28-year-old rookie outfielder achieved the first natural cycle (single, double, triple and home run in that order) as the Doves (Braves) beat the Phillies 20—7.  I have not tracked the specifics, but I do know it was either the 150th or 151st game of Collins’ MLB career.  That season, Collins finished .241-3-40 in 151 games – and he would play only 77 more MLB games, ending at .224-3-54.  But he will always be the first play to achieve a cycle in natural order.

Pre-1900 things get a bit sketchier (and records less complete), but I have identified three “rookie cyclers” from the era.  Note: I made some subjective judgments (rookie eligibility was not clearly defined back then). Basically, I took  into consideration what is generally considered major league experience.  For example, Fred Carroll hit for the cycle on May 2, 1887 – in his first year with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the National League.  While it was his first year with the NL version of the Alleghenys, he had spent the previous two seasons with the American Association (considered a major league) Alleghenys, which joined the National League in 1887.  With that in mind, I did not include his 1887 cycle as a rookie achievement.

Bill Van Dyke, Toledo Maumees (American Association) … July 5, 1890

The 26-year-old outfielder/third baseman finished the season at .257-2-54.  He went on to play one season each for the National League Saint Louis Browns (1892) and Boston Beaneaters (1893). His final major league stats – .253-2-56 in 136 games.  The home run included in his cycle was his first MLB round tripper. Despite Van Dyke’s game, the Maumees lost to the Syracuse Stars 13-12.

James “Chippy” McGarr, Philadelphia Athletics (American Association) – September 23, 1886

Before joining the Athletics in 1886, McGarr had just 19 games and 70 at bats with the Union Association Chicago/Pittburgh team (also known as the Chicago Browns/Pittsburgh Stogies). That stint came in 1884, the only year of the franchise. In 1886, he joined the Athletics and put together a .266-2-31 season (71 games at shortstop). On the day the 23-year-old hit for the cycle, his Athletics topped the St. Louis Cardinals 15-6.   McGarr put up ten major league seasons, with a line of .269-9-388. The home run included in his cycle was his first major league long ball.

 William “Mox” McQuery, Detroit Wolverines (National League) … September 28, 1885

The 24-year-old first baseman was in his second major league season (first in the NL), but had only 132 at bats with the Union Association’s Cincinnati Outlaw Reds the previous year (so still qualified as a rookie under today’s rules). McQuery hit .273-3-30 in 70 games for Detroit in 1995 and .271-13-160 in five major league seasons (Union Association, National League, American Association). The Wolverines topped the Providence Grays 14-2 on McQuery’s big day.

All in A Days (or two days) Work

The Expos’ Tim Foli is the only player to start a cycle one day and complete it the next. On April 21, 1976, Foli collected a single, double and triple in a contest against the Cubbies that was suspended in the top of the seventh due to darkness. When play resumed the following day, Foli added an eighth-inning home run. (The Expos prevailed 12-6.)

Key sources for this post:  Baseball-Reference.com; The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); Baseball-Almanac.com; The Baseball Encyclopedia.

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

Youth Baseball – A Championship Sunday

The players gave it their all - and so did the coaches, umpires and fans. (Oh yes, and the concessions crew.)

The players gave it their all – and so did the coaches, umpires and fans. (Oh yes, and the concessions crew.)

Okay, I love writing (made a career of it).  Now that I’m retired, I love writing about baseball.  Even more I love watching baseball – at any level.  So, I took a break from a blog post I’m working on – focused on all the MLB rookies who have hit for the cycle – to take in a game between the Red Sox and Angels.  They were playing for all the marbles – the Roseville (MN) Youth Baseball League Championship in their classification. (I have a nearby neighbor who coaches and whose son plays – and made the league All Star Team.  The AS Game, by the way is next week.)

Let me say, this game was all that the national pastime is about.  Those youngsters were intense and competitive, yet still having fun (and enthusiastically encouraged by their coaches and fans).  Not only that, they were on the field – together – playing and supporting each other as a team; no matter what the skill level.  (And, of course, they were out in the sunshine – not on their computers or smartphones.)

LL scoreboardIt was, as the photo of the scoreboard indicates, a see-saw battle, with plenty of tension to go around.  We saw a couple of nice running catches in the outfield, some well-handled grounders, some very well-hit balls, a few walks and strikeouts and, yes, a few misplays.  We also saw a group of youngsters giving 110 percent all the way – with neither side giving in.  The Red Sox (my neighbor’s team) prevailed 16-12.  And, for those who like to know such things, the game ended on a legitimate triple play!  Top of the last inning, Red Sox up 16-12 and the Angels get the first two players on base (first and second).  The next batter hit a hard – HARD – line drive that everyone (myself included) thought was headed for right-center.  Somehow the pitcher leapt and captured the liner in the webbing of his glove.  The runners were moving and a quick toss to first and relay to second and 1-3-4 (maybe 1-3-6) – Triple Play – Game Over – Championship Secured.  If you want to really see the joy of the game, watch a group of grade school youth baseball players celebrate a champinship clinched with a  triple play.


Playing for the love of the game – and these, of course.

Oh yes, admission was (of course) free and the concessions (profits supporting youth baseball) were great.  I managed to get by on a hot dog, chips and two Diet Cokes ($5.00 total).  The Shaved Ice – blueberry, lime and cherry – was (from my observation) the crowd favorite.

All I can say is, if you ever get a chance to take in some youth baseball – TAKE IT. It was a wonderful, uplifting way to spend an afternoon.  And, it will make you feel even better about this great game of ours.  I want to thank all the players, coaches, umpires and fans who made BBRT’s summer Sunday a special one.


The fans took their shade where they couldfind it.

The fans took their shade where they could find it.


Coming up: Posts on MLB rookies who hit for the cycle and The Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals induction ceremonies (which took place today).

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

Julio Franco – The Definition of “Oldest To …”


On July 29, 2006, the Mets’ Julio Franco became the oldest player ever put into an MLB game as a pinch runner (47 years, 340 days).   In that contest, the Mets’ first baseman and cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado was hit by a pitch in the top of the third inning in the New Yorkers’ 11-3 win at Atlanta.  Franco came in as a pinch runner (stayed in at first base, going two-for-three) and promptly stole second base, going to third on an errant throw. 

Four days ago (July 7), my home town Minnesota Twins signed 44-year-old RHP Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract with hopes that he could work his way into the Minnesota rotation.  That is not as “long” a shot as one might think. While Colon was just 2-8 (8.14 ERA) with the Braves this season, from 2013 (his age-40 season) to 2016, the big right-hander was 62-40, 3.59 and twice an All Star (2013 and 2016).

Julio Franco - Old Guys rule and he is their king!

Julio Franco – Old Guys rule and he is their king!

As happens so often (even more now that I am approaching another “landmark” birthday), this piece of current baseball news led me to reflect on a past baseball occurrence.  In this case, it was balloting for the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame class – in which no players were elected – and, in which, Julio Franco (a 23-season major leaguer, with 2,586 hits and a .298 career average) got only six (1.1 percent) votes.  That made Franco a “one-and-done” HOF candidate (at least until his name comes up for Era Committee consideration).

In the meantime, BBRT would like to make a blatant pitch – Julio Franco for the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For those of you not familiar with The Baseball Reliquary – a unique, fan-focused, baseball organization – click here for information on the Reliquary, its Shrine of the Eternals and the upcoming 2017 “enshrinement” ceremonies (2:00 p.m., July 17 at the Pasadena (CA) Central Library).  Note: If you are a baseball fan and not a Baseball Reliquary member, I highly recommend joining.

Now, for that blatant pitch.  Just what is it that makes Julio Franco so special?  For one thing, when he was Bartolo Colon’s age (44), Franco still had five major league seasons left in his bat and glove.  By virtue of that longevity – and his status as a truly professional hitter – Franco holds a host of MLB “oldest to” offensive marks.  For another, Franco’s professional (not just major league) playing career stretches from his teens into his mid-50s. Finally, he took his steady bat around the world – playing in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Korea.  Side thought: If you were an MLB general manager and someone brought you a player guaranteed to deliver a .298 average over 23-seasons, how quickly would you sign him?


Only 25 Major League home runs have been hit by players who have passed their 45th birthday – and Julio Franco hit 20 of them. Cap Anson had three (all in 1897 – the year of his 45th birthday); Jack Quinn had one (in 1930, just shy of his 47th birthday); and Carlton Fisk had one (in 1993 at 45-years, 102-days old).

Consider the long -ball records held by the ageless Franco:

  • The oldest player to homer in a MLB game. Franco went deep at age 48 years, 254 days, hitting a two-run shot off Arizona’s Randy Johnson as Franco’s Mets topped the Diamondbacks 5-3 on April 26, 2006).  In that same game Franco also became the second-oldest MLB player to steal base – and, thus, the oldest player to homer and steal a base in the same game.
  • The oldest player to hit a grand slam (46 years, 308 days) – connecting as a pinch hitter for the Atlanta Braves in a 7-2 win over the Marlins on June 27, 2005.
  • The oldest player to record a multi-homer game, belting a pair of homers on June 18, 2005 (age 46 years, 299 days), as his Atlanta Braves topped the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Franco started at first base and went two-for-four with two homers and three RBI.
  • The oldest player to hit a pinch-hit home run, in the eighth inning of a Mets’ 7-2 win over the Padres at San Diego (April 20, 2006 – 47 years, 240 days).


Cal Ripken Jr. holds one of the “oldest to” records to elude Julio Franco. Ripken is the oldest player to homer in an All Star Game. It came in 2001, -hen Ripken – at 400 years, 320-days of age – not only homered, but also took home the game’s MVP Award. Ripken’s blast came leading off the bottom of the third against the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park.  It was Ripken’s 19th All Star Game and the Iron Man’s final MLB season. 

fRANCO aLL sTARJulio Franco not only holds a host of “oldest” marks for power, he also proved that you can run right past age 40.  On June 16, 2005 – at age 46 years, 297 days – Franco became the oldest player to have a multi-stolen base (2) game, as his Braves topped the Reds 5-2; as well as the oldest player to steal two bases in an inning.  Franco singled to lead off the seventh inning, and stole second and third (around an Andruw Jones groundout) before scoring on a Johnny Estrada double.


Charlie O’Leary of the St. Louis Browns – on September 30, 1934 … at 58-years, 350-days of age – rapped a pinch-hit single and scored a run, as the St. Louis Browns lost to the Detroit Tigers 6-2 in the last game of the regular season. The feat made O’Leary the oldest MLB player to record a hit and the oldest to score a run.  Side note: O’Leary’s last at bat (and last MLB hit) before that day came on October 5, 1913 – a 21-season gap.

In a bit of irony, the oldest major leaguer to record an RBI was a pitcher – the Rockies’ Jamie Moyer, who, on May 16, 2012 – at the age of 49 years, 180 days – drove in two runs in a 6-1 Rockies’ win over the Diamondbacks.  Moyer also went 6 1/3 innings in picking up his second win of the 2012 season.  Moyer is also the oldest pitcher to notch a major league victory – at 49-years, 150-days old). 

Need more convincing as to Franco’s “Shrine-worthiness?”  Let’s look at his career in a bit more depth. Franco (full name Julio Cesar Franco Robles) started his professional career in 1978 at the age of 19 – hitting .305 with the Butte Copper Kings of the Pioneer League (Rookie level).  A Phillies’ farm hand, the young Dominican infielder hit .300 or better each minor league season (A, AA. AAA) until making his major league debut in 1982.


If  you believe “Old Guys Rule” – Julio Franco should be your king. 

fRANCOfBFrom 1982 to 1994, Franco played primarily as a middle infielder and DH for the Phillies, Indians, Rangers and White Sox – making three All Star teams (MVP of the 1990 All Star Game), earning five Silver Slugger Awards and leading the American League in hitting at .341 for the Rangers in 1991. In that 1991 campaign, Franco collected 201 hits, 15 homers, 78 RBI, 108 runs scored and 36 steals in 45 attempts. At season’s end, he had hit .300+ in five of the past six seasons – the lone exception being .296 in 1990.  In that six-year span, Franco hit .313, with 67 home runs and 155 stolen bases.

In 1994, when the remainder of the MLB season was lost to a strike, Franco was in the midst of possibly his best campaign.  After 112 games, he was hitting .319, with 138 hits, 20 home runs, 98 RBI, 72 runs scored, and eight steals.


Jason Giambi is the oldest player to hit a walk-off, game-winning home run (42 years, 202 days), as his Indians topped the White Sox 3-2 on July 29, 2013.

Franco was determined to keep swinging the bat and signed to play in Japan with the Pacific League Chiba Lotte Marines.  In the 1995 Japanese season, Franco hit .306 and won the league’s equivalent of the Gold Glove at first base. Franco returned to MLB in 1996, joining the Cleveland Indians, hitting .322-14-76 in 112 games. In August of the following season, the Indians released Franco – who was hitting .284-3-25 at the time. He finished the 1997 campaign with the Brewers, hitting .241 in 14 games with Milwaukee.

In 1998, at age 39, Franco was back in Japan playing for Chiba Lotte; where he hit .290, with 18 home runs and 77 RBI in 131 games. Then in 1999, he celebrated turning 40 (when most ballplayers are retired or coaching) by hitting for a .423 average in the Mexican League and getting one late season MLB at bat with Tampa Bay.

As he moved into his forties, Franco was far from finished as a player. He played in South Korea in 2000 (age 41), hitting .327-22-110.  In 2001, the well-traveled batsman was back in the Mexican League (Mexico City Tigers), where stellar play (a .437 average in 110 games) earned him a spot on the Atlanta Braves’ roster in September. Franco hit .300, with three home runs and 11 RBI over the final 5 ½ weeks of the MLB season.

From 2001 to 2007, the ageless wonder – professional hitter and pretty darn good first sacker – played for the Braves and Mets.  From 2001 through 2006 – ages 42 to 47 – Franco averaged .290 over 581 games.  He hit .222 in 55 games in his final MLB season – 2007 with the Mets and Braves.

Even at 49, Franco was not done battering baseballs. In 2008, he could be found at first base with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League (where he hit .250 in 36 games). That season, Franco – after 23 Major League seasons and 30 years after his first professional baseball game –  announced his retirement as a player.

Oops? Not so fast. In 2014, at the age of 55, he appeared in seven games for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League – going six for 27.   Then in 2015, Franco was signed as player-manager of the Ishikawa Million Stars of the Japanese independent Baseball Challenge League (identified as a semi-pro league); and he is currently listed as a hitting coach with the KBO (Korea) League Lotte Giants organization.  Note: Franco has also managed in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie level), Venezuelan Winter League and Mexican League.

Need more evidence to support Franco’s candidacy for the Shrine of the Eternals?   In 23 MLB seasons, Franco hit .298, with 2,586 hits, a .298 average, 173 homers, 1,285 runs, 1,194 RBI and 281 stolen bases. He also collected 618 minor league (U.S) hits, 316 in the Mexican League, 286 in Japan, 267 in the Dominican Winter League and 156 in South Korea and six in independent ball (U.S.).

Clearly, Julio Franco is a player whose skills were evident across time and geography and whose contributions and character deserve Baseball Reliquary consideration.


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2017 Home Run Derby Brings out the “BIG” Guns

Giancarlo Stanton defends his 2016 Home Run Derby Crown - and has home field advantage. Photo by Corn Farmer

Giancarlo Stanton defends his 2016 Home Run Derby Crown – and has home field advantage. Photo by Corn Farmer

The 2017 Home Run Derby participants have been announced, and it’s clearly a  “big boys” contest.

The average size of 2017’s All Star Home Run Derby contestants: Just over 6’ 3 ½” tall; and slightly more than 239 pounds.

As we look at this year’s lineup of HR Derby bashers, the Royals’ Mike Moustakas is the “little guy” at a mere 6’, 215 pounds.  At the other end of the spectrum is the Yankees’ Aaron Judge at 6’7”, 282-pounds.

Before we look at each contestant separately, here are a few factoids about the field.  ALL STATS AS OF JULY 3.

  • The average age is 26 years (and one month), with the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon the oldest contestant at 31, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger the youngest at 21.
  • The field averages just over four MLB seasons each, with the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton leading the way (in his eighth MLB season at age 27) and Cody Bellinger in just his first MLB season. (Note: The Yankees’ Aaron Judge also qualifies as a rookie, but he did see some MLB time in 2016.)
  • The eight contestants have 164 home runs this season (as of July 30) – an average of 20.5 each.
  • Aaron Judge leads the field with 27 home runs as of July 3; his Yankee teammate Gary Sanchez has the fewest at 13.
  • The eight players have 633 total career home runs (79.1 average), with Giancarlo Stanton leading the way at 229 and Cody Bellinger with the fewest at 24.
  • The two rookies in the field are also the two MLB league home run leaders – Aaron Judge leading the AL with 27 and Cody Bellinger tied for the NL lead with 24.
  • Perhaps, surprisingly, the participants include the MLB’s 2017 triples leader – the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon with ten (no other MLBer has more than five).
  • Three of the contestants have at least five stolen bases this season – Charlie Blackmon and Aaron Judge with six, Cody Bellinger with five.
  • The field includes the defending HR Derby Champion – Giancarlo Stanton won in 2016.
  • Giancarlo Stanton leads the field with two previous HR Derby appearances – it is the first appearance for all of the other seven contestants.
  • Giancarlo Stanton is the only contestant with a 30-home run season and/or a league HR title on his resume (.289-37-105, capturing the 2015 NL HR crown). He also topped thirty in 2011 and 2012.
  • Charlie Blackmon has more career stolen bases (107) than home runs (92).
  • All eight participants have played with only one MLB team in their careers.
  • All the outfield seats should offer fly ball opportunities – four of the hitters swing from the left side, four from the right.

Now, let take a look at each participants (alphabetical order) – all statistics as of July 3.

If BBRT had to pick the top three finishers, I’d go with: 1) Giancarlo Stanton; 2)Miguel Sano; 3) Aaron Judge.

Cody Bellinger, LH, OF/1B, Dodgers – 2017 stats: .260-24-56

The 6’4”, 210-pound Dodgers’ rookie is tied for the NL lead in home runs (24) at just 21-years-old. He also had five homers in 18 Triple A games before being called up.  The 2017 HR Derby’s youngest participant, Bellinger already has six multi-homer games under his best, as well as a streak of ten home runs in ten games. Showed his power potential in the minors, with 56 home runs in the 2015-16 seasons.

Charlie Blackmon, LH, OF, Rockies – 2017 stats: .313-18-59

The 6’3”, 210-pound Blackmon – in his seventh MLB season – is the oldest competitor in this year’s HR Derby at 31. Blackmon, who has a total of 92 career home runs, seems to be maturing into his power. His best season was 2016, when he hit .324-29-82, his only season with at least 20 round trippers. Blackmon has 107 career stolen bases – with a high of 43 in 2015. The remaining seven Derby competitors have a total of 63 career steals – and 35 of those belong to Giancarlo Stanton.

Justin Bour, LH, OF, Marlins – 2017 stats:  .289-18-54

The 6’3”, 265-pound Bour is in his fourth MLB season. The 29-year-old has 57 career round trippers (329 games) and hit a career-high 23 (.262-23-73) in 2015.  Bour is one of five National League Final Vote candidates for an All Star roster spot. Perhaps the home field advantage will work for him in the voting and the HR Derby,

Aaron Judge, RH, OF, Yankees – 2017 stats: .330-27-62

At 6’7”, 282-pounds, the 25-year-old Judge is the “big” gun of this competition.  He’s still a rookie, despite playing 27 games for the Yankees (four home runs) in 2016. His 27 homers lead the AL – and he launched the longest Statcast™-measured home run of 2017 – 495-feet on June 12.  Judge hit 60 home runs in 372 minor league games.  Playing in New York probably prepares you for the pressure of the Derby. Judge has 31 career MLB home runs.

Mike Moustakas, LH, 3B,  Royals – 2017 stats: .270-23-56

The 6’, 200-pound Moustakas is in his seventh MLB season – and I’m not sure anyone saw those 23 home runs (by July 3) coming. The 28-year-old has 104 career home runs and this is only the third time he has reached 20 in a season.  Only Moustakas and Giancarlo Stanton – among the eight competitors – has at least 100 MLB round trippers.  Moustakas’ previous high was 22 (.284-22-82) in 2015.  He is showing real “pull” power this season, ripping 21 of his 23 homers to right.  (And, there is no shift in the HR Derby.)

Gary Sanchez, RH, C,  Yankees – 2017 stats: .294-13-40

A 6’2”, 240-pounds, Sanchez is in the middle of the Derby field when it comes to size. The 24-year-old only has 13 home runs on the season, but don’t let that number fool you. The Yankee backstop has missed 21 games due to injury. In just 107 MLB games over two seasons, Sanchez has 33 career home runs.  He can go deep.

Miguel Sano, RH, 3B, Twins – 2017 stats: .278-20-60

The 6’4”, 260-pound Sano – at 24-years-old – continues to mature as a hitter. In his third MLB season, Sano has 63 MLB home runs in 272 games.  Last season, he hit .236-25-66 in 116 games and he is sure to pass all those marks this year. Hits them long, high and hard.  In 2012-13, he hit 67 home runs and drove in 217 in 274 minor league games.

Giancarlo Stanton, RH, OF, Marlins – 2017 stats: .262-21-50

The 6’6”, 245-pound Stanton –  at 27-years-old – is already in his eighth MLB season. He has 229 career round trippers and has topped 20 long balls in each of his MLB campaigns. His best season was 2014, when he hit .288-37-105.  He is the defending HR Derby Champion – and also competed in the 2014 HR Derby. He holds the record for the longest home run in the Statcast™  era at 504-feet (August 16, 2016). He also holds the record for home runs in a single Home Run Derby (61 in 2016).  Hitting in his home park, Stanton looks like the favorite to me.

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BBRT June Wrap Up – It’s Raining Dingers

It’s July 1, and that means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s June Wrap Up – all you wanted to know about the month of June in MLB (and probalby more.)  As usual, the monthly wrap will take a look at the stats and stories that captured BBRT’s attention over the previous month – as well as the standings and batting and pitching leader boards.  Full standing at the FAR, FAR end of this post.

On thing for sure about June, it was raining long balls all month. Major League Baseball set a new recrod for home runs in a month, with 1,101 June round trippers.  Just a few highlights:

  • Seven players hit 10 or more home runs in June, led by Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger’s 13 long balls – including four multi-homer games and one streak of ten home runs in ten games;
  • The Reds’ Scooter Gennett may have hit “only” nine long balls in June, but four of them came on June 6 – making him just the 17th player in MLB history with a four-homer game.
  • June ended with eleven players already having at least 20 homers on the season – and rookies leading both leagues in long balls (Yankees’ Aaron Judge at 27; Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger at 24).
  • Albert Pujols hit hjis 600th home run; Adrian Beltre his 450th.
  • Nolan Arenado topped off a cycle with a walk-off home run.
  • On June 3, a single-day record seven MLB Grand Slams left the park(s).

Not all the highlights, however, ended up on the other side of the fence.

  • Royals’ southpaw Jason Vargas started six games – and won them all – giving up just three roundt trippers (1.98 ERA for the month).
  • The Nationals’ Max Scherzer put up a sparkling 0.99 ERA for the month (in five starts) – yet managed to grab just three wins (versus two losses).
  • In contrast to Max Scherzer (see above bullet), Gerrit Cole went 4-2 on the month – despite a 6.17 ERA.
  • Mariners’ catcher Mike Zunino – who came into the month with 139 RBI in 383 MLB games – drove in a MLB June-high 31 runs in 23 games.


The Royals’ Jason Vargas is leading the AL in wins at 12 and Earned Run Average at 2.22.He was also born on 2-2-1983.  

More abut these (and other) stories later – but first the standings and the BBRT Players and Pitchers of the Month.

First, no team was hotter in June than the Dodgers – the only team with 20 or  more wins (21-7, a .750 percentage). Other teams to win more than 15 games during the month were the Diamondback (17-9) and the Astros (16-11).   The Dodgers did a lot of things right in June. Their batters led all of MLB in June home runs and the pitching staff led the NL in strikeouts. Overall, the Dodgers allowed the fewest runs (96, the only MLB team under 100 for the month) and scored the NL’s second-most (157).  They also finished in the NL’s top three for the month  in stloen bases, earned run average and saves.  In the AL, the Astros hit an MLB-high .294 for the month and, offensively, finished in the top three in runs scored and home runs.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Giants continued to fade – and were the only squad not to reach at least ten wins (9-18).  The team had the NL’s highest June batting average (.281) and fourth-most June runes scored, but the second-worst June ERA in the league at 5.71. Over in the AL, the Tigers had the worst June record at 10-15. Like the Giants, the Bengals posted an ERA over five (5.12), but they also suffered on offense (tenth-most runs). A telling stat:  The Tigers blew five of seven save opportunities.

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

AL:  Astros, Red Sox and Indians; Wild Cards: Yankees; Twins or Rays..  Note: In the AL, the Angels, Royals, Mariners and Orioles are all within 1 1/2 games of a Wild Card spot.

NL: Nationals, Brewers, Dodgers; Wild Card: Diamondbacks and Rockies.  No other teams are closer than seven games to a Wild Card spot. 



AL Player of the Month – Mike Zunino, Catcher, Mariners 

Mike Zunino photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Yankees’ rookie phenom Aaron Judge may have gotten a lot of (well-deserved) publicity as he continued bashing baseball into the stratosphere in June, but the Mariners’ 26-year-old catcher Mike Zunino (somewhat quietly) put up fantastic June numbers. In just 79 at bats, Zunino rapped ten home runs and drove in an MLB June-best 31, while  hitting at a .304 clip and scoring 14 times.  (His 32 strikeouts are of some concern, but it’s hard to ignore 31 RBI in a month.) How surprising is Zunino’s June outburst?   Now in his fifth MLB season, the 2012 first-round draft pick (third overall) has a .201 average and just 61 home runs in 406 MLB games. Still, when playing for the University of Florida, Zunino was the 2011 Southeastersn Conference Player of the Year and, in 2012, won the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and Johnny Bench Award. He also put up a .288 average over five minor league seasons. That potential earned Zunino a $4 million signing bonus.  Could he be hitting his stride?

BBRT also gave strong consideration to the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (.324-10-25 in June) and the Astros’ George Springer (.337-11-21).


NL Player of the Month – Cody Bellinger, Outfield/First base, Dodgers

21-year-old Cody Bellinger led MLB with 13 June home runs and tied for the NL RBI lead at 27 – while hitting .288 for the month. Not bad for a rookie.  Bellinger had four multi-homer games in June (and has six multi-home games on the year) – and also became the first rookie to hit ten home runs in a ten-game span.  Drafted right out of high school, Bellinger is already in his fifth professional season.  When called up to the Dodgers in late April, he was hitting .343, with five home runs and 15 RBI, in 18 games at Triple A Oklahoma City.    Bellinger, by the way, was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft and signed for $700,000 – which is looking like quite a bargain. Just think, ten years ago, Bellinger was playing in the Little League World Series. 

Also high on BBRT’s list were: the D-backs Paul Goldschmidt (.347-7-27 for the month); the Braves’ Matt Adams (.314-10-25), who plugged the hole left when Freddie Freeman went down; and the Cubs’ Anthony  Rizzo (.320-6-20), who made a powerful statement when moved into the leadoff spot.


AL Pitcher of the Month – Jason Vargas, Royal

Royals’ southpaw Jason Vargas started six games in June – and won them all.  He was MLB’s only six-game winner in the month.  He also pitched to a nifty 1.98 earned run average.  He started the month (June 2) with a seven-hit, compelte game shutout of division rival Cleveland and ended it (June 30) with a two-hit, one-run victory over another Central rival (the Twins). Vargas now stands at 12-3, 2.22 on the year. His sterling performance in June helped put the Royals back in the Central Division race – and earned Vargas BBRT Pitcher of the month.  Vargas was a second-round pick (our of Long Beach State) of the Marlins in the 2004 MLB Draft and made his MLB debt with Florida in 2005. His career MLB record (12 seasons) is 79-73, 4.03. His best year – until 2017, of course – was 2012 (14-11, 3.85 for Seattle). 

BBRT also took a long hard look at Indians’ power right-hander Corey Kluber, who started six games in June and picked up four wins (no losses), fanned an MLB-high 64 batters and had a June ERA of 1.26. In addition, BBRT considered 22-year-old Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna – who notched eight saves in eight opportunities – with 19 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings and a 0.79 ERA for the month.  But Vargas’ six-pack of wins was just too much to pass on. 


NL Pitcher of the Month – Tie … Max Scherzer & Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw photo

Photo by SD Dirk

Wow, two hurlers with five Cy Young Awards between them.  No surprise , the Dodgers’ Clayton Kersahw and Nationals’ Max Scherzer are BBRT NL Pitcher(s) of the Month.

Kershaw started six games in June and earned an NL-best five wins.  In the process, he fanned 57 batters (another NL-best for the month) in 40 1/3 innings and posted a 2.23 ERA.  Kershaw, by the way, was the seventh overall selection in the 2006 MLB Draft (right out of high school) – signing for an estimated $2.3 million.  He was starting for the Dodgers by age 20 (2008) and a Cy Young Award winner by 2011. 

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

The June BBRT “Co-NL Pitcher of the Month” only went 3-2 over June’s 30 days. The Nationals’ Scherzer, however, got a total of two runs from his teammates in his two losses.  In his five June starts, Scherzer pitched 36 1/3 innings, giving up just four earned runs – for an MLB-best 0.99 June ERA.  He also gave up just 14 hits and six walks over the course of June – fanning 51 batters.  He deserved better than 3-2.

 Scherzer, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, was drafted in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Diamondbacks.  He could not reach agreement with the club and signed instead with the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association (independent league).  After three games with Fort Worth, he signed with the D-backs for $4.3 million. 

BBRT also considered Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen (a league-topping ten saves in ten opportunities, with a 0.00 ERA in 14 innings pitched).



More #WhyIHateTheDH

The month of June started out with another case against the DH. With the Dodgers facing the Cardinals (in St. Louis) on June 1, Adam Wainwright gained his sixth win of the season – shutting out LA over six innings of work (four hits, two walks, six strikeouts).  In addition, Wainwright drove in all the runs in the contest, with a two-run home run in the second inning. It was Wainwright’s second home run of the season – and 10th of his 12-season MLB career. (Oh yes, it was also his sixth win.) Wainwright has a .200 career average and, in 2007, hit .290, with one home run and six RBI in 62 at bats.

Get A Whiff of This

On June 2, the Dodgers took on the Brewers at Miller Park, with Clayton Kershaw starting against Jimmy Nelson. It proved a true pitchers’ duel – a 2-1, 12-inning Dodgers’ win in which 58 percent of all the outs were recorded via the strikeout. Kershaw and Nelson set the tone, with Nelson fanning two in the top of the first and 11 in eight innings of work. Kershaw also recorded two strikeouts in the first and 14 in seven innings.   Brewer’s batters tied an MLB record with 26 strikeouts in the contest and the two teams’ combined 42 K’s set an NL single-game record.

Scooter Joins the Likes of the Iron Horse, Rocky and the Hammerin’ Hoosier

On June 6, the Reds’ Scooter Gennett joined the likes of Lou Gehrig, Rocky Colavito and Chuck Klein – as one of just 17 MLB player to crank four home runs in a single game.   Full story here. 

Veteran Savvy

On June 10, 14-year MLB veteran Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista took “taking the extra base” to a new level. With the score Blue Jays 3, Mariners 2, the bases empty and two out, Bautista drew a walk from Mariners’ reliever Tony Zych.  As he trotted to first base, the veteran noticed that Zych wasn’t paying w whole lot of attention and neither the second baseman or shortstop was anywhere near the two bag. So, Bautista slowed briefly as he reached first base – as if to stop – and then dashed (safely) to second bases. Kendrys Morales, the next hitter, grounded out to end the inning – but still it was a very cool veteran move. The Blue Jays, by the way, won 4-2.

The Young and Restless

Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ 25-year-old rookie RF, ended June at .326-27-62 leading the AL home runs and RBI and second in average – a rookie Triple Crown contender. And, on June 12, he smashed what both Statcast TM and the ESPN Home Run Tracker have measured as the longest home run in MLB baseball this season. Statcast computed the shot off the Orioles’ Logan Verrett at 495 feet, ESPN at 496 feet.  For the game, Judge was four-for-four, with two home runs and a double, four runs scored, three RBI and a walk – as the Yankees tiopped Baltimore 14-3.

Cycle on Outta Here

On June 18, Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado delivered his first-ever cycle (single, double, triple and home run in a single game) – and did it in walk-off (or cycle-away) fashion. Arenado started with a triple in the bottom of the first. He added a single in the fourth and a double in the sixth and a strikeout in the eighth, before coming up in the bottom of the ninth with two on, one out and his Rockies trailing the Giants 5-4.  His three-run homer completed the cycle and gave Colorado a 7-5 victory.  It was, by the way, Arenado’s 15th home run of the 2017 season.




More From the “Baseball Keeps Track of Everything” File

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Nolan Arenado’s cycle-completing home run of June 18 was the first walk-off, cycle-completing home run hit with the batter’s team trailing.

There have been four other cycle-completing, walk-off homers – but all game with the games tied: Cardinals’ Ken Boyer (Sept. 14, 1961); Twins’ Cesar Tovar (Sept. 19, 1972); Red Sox Dwight Evans (June 28, 1984); Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez (July 31, 2010).

Youth Will Be Served

Recently, BBRT unveiled its 2017 Under-25 MLB All Star Lineup – click here for that post.  Now, baseball does track pretty much everything, and on June 20 – as the Dodgers pasted the Mets 12-0 – two youngsters in the lineup combined for four home runs.  Twenty-three-year old SS Corey Seager poled three out of the park, while 21-year-old LF Cody Bellinger added one.  Notably, it was Bellinger’s tenth home over the previous ten games – making him the first MLB rookie (modern era) to hit ten round trippers in a span of ten contests.  It was also his 22nd homer of the year (and career) in just his 52nd career game – giving him the record for the fewest career games to reach the 22-HR mark. Oh yes, the night before, he set the record for the fewest career games to each the 21-HR mark. (As I‘ve said before, in baseball we do track everything.)

One, Two, Three and They Are Out (of the park)

On June 24, The Oakland A’s RF Matt Olson, CF Jaycob Brugman and 2B Franklin Barreto all went deep as Oakland bested the White Sox 10-2.   Now, three home runs by three teammates isn’t all that rare.  However, three home runs in the same game all being the first career round trippers for rookie players on the same squad is.  Olson, Brugman and Barreto are only the second trio of rookies from the same team ever to collect their first MLB home runs in the same game. The only other such group is Duke Kenworth, Art Kruger and John Potts of the Federal League Kansas City Packers back on April 26. 1914.

Rizzo Likes It At The Top


Photo by apardavila

Anthony Rizzo (.292-32-109 in 2016) has all the markings of a middle-of-order guy.  However, the Cubs have struggled form the lead-off spot this season – using Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Jon Jay, Ian Happ and Javier Baez at the top of the order.

On June 13, Manager Joe Maddon decided to think a bit out of the box, moving 1B Anthony Rizzo from the number-three spot in the order to lead off.  Thirteen proved to be a pretty lucky number. Here’s how Rizzo first seven games as the Cubs’ first hitter of the contest went:


  • June 13 – Home Run
  • June 14 – Home Run
  • June 16 – Walk
  • June 17 – Single
  • June 18 – Double
  • June 19 – Single
  • June 20 – Home Run

Finally, on June 21, in his eighth game as the leadoff hitter, Rizzo started the Cubs’ offense with an out – a fly out to right.  In his first seven games in the number-one slot in the order, Rizzo went 12-for-28 (.429), with two doubles, one triple four home runs, seven runs scored, 10 RBI, four walks and five strikeouts.

Number One for Number One

Let me say, as a Twins’ fan, I was as surprised as everyone when they made high schooler Royce Lewis the number-one overall pick in the recent MLB Draft.  (I expected a less risky college-age pick.) Still, scouts say the 18-year-old is a multi-tool player who has also shown leadership skills.  Well, young Mr. Lewis certainly got off to a good start.  In his first at bat, in the first inning of his first professional game (for the Gulf Coast League Twins), the first overall pick rapped his first professional home run (also, of course, collecting his first professional run scored and RBI.) I expect the Twins’ brass were all smiles after that beginning.

Big Bang Theory – Make ‘Em Count

On June 27, Rangers’s third baseman Adrian Beltre continued his march toward the Hall of Fame by banging out his 450th MLB home run – and he made it count. The blast came in the top of the ninth inning, off Indians’ closer Cody Allen, giving the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Tribe. It was the third consecutive game Beltre had done deep, giving him five on the season.   Beltre finished June with a .277-5-22 line on the season – and just 30 hits shy of 3,000 for his 20-year MLB career. One of those true leather and lumber guys, Beltre has four Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Gloves on his resume.

Even More #WhyIHateTheDH

On June 27, Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer picked up his ninth win of the season – as Washington topped the Cubs 2-1 in D.C.   During his six frames, Scherzer gave up two hits and one run – and also collected two hits and one RBI of his own.  (Note: He also fanned six – versus no walks – in his six-inning stint.) Scherzer ended June 9-5, 2.06 on the year.

A Walk Off Strikeout

We’ve all seen or read about walk-off hits, home runs, walks and even balks, but how about a walk-off whiff?  On June 28, the Angels and Dodgers were tied at 2, with the Halos batting in the bottom of the ninth.  Here’s how it went down. Pedro Baez came on in relief for the Dodgers and got Angels’ 2B Danny Espinosa and a grounder to first. LF Ben Revere than reached on an error by LAD SS Chris Taylor – and went to second on a wild pitch to CF Cameron Maybin. Maybin later struck out swinging, but Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal couldn’t handle the pitch (passed ball) – with Revere bolting for third. Grandal then compounded his mistake by throwing wildly to first to try to get Maybin. In the meantime, Revere had advanced to third and then came in with the winning run on the throwing error. Basically, a walk-off (really run-off) strikeout.

A Grand Way to Celebrate 600 – and Other Join In

albert Pujols photo

Photo by Keith Allison

One June 3, as the Angels topped the Twins 7-2, Albert Pujols ripped his 600th career round tripper – becoming just the ninth player to reach that number.  It was an histsoric feat and Pujols did it in grand style.  The home run was a fouth-inning Grand Slam – making Pujols the first player to hit a Grand Slam for number 600 –  off the Twins’ ace Erwin Santana.  It was also one of seven grand Slams hit that day – a new major-league record for four-run blasts in a single day.




On June 3, a single-day record seven Grand Slams were hit in MLB.  The full list of “Grand Slamers:”

Albert Pujols, Angels

Kyle Schwarber, Cubs

Matt Adams, Braves

Ian Desmond, Rockies

Chris Taylor Dodgers

Travis Shaw, Brewers

Mike Zunino, Mariners

A Little Spring(er) at the Top of the Lineup

George Springer Astros photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On June 29, Astros’ RF and leadoff hitter George Springer led off Houston’s first inning wth a home run to deep right field.  It was his 24th dinger of the season and 11th of June. It also was the ninth time in 2017 he has homered as the first Astro to go to the plate. Springer’s nine leadoff home runs lead the majors and are an Astro’s single-season record. Alfonso Soriano’s 13 leadoff long balls in 2003 are the MLB record and Springer has more than a half season left to top that mark.







NL:  Giants .281; Nationals – .280; Rockies – .276

AL: Astros – .294; Mariners – .288; Tigers – .281

Runs Scored

NL: Nationals – 161; Dodgers – 157; D-backs 152

AL: Yankees – 177; Mariners – 160; Astros – 157

Home Runs

NL: Dodgers – 53; Mets – 50; Brewers – 49

AL:  Yankees – 47; Rangers – 47; Astros – 46


The Brewers struck out an MLB-leading 290 times in June – 29.6 percent of their official at bats. The A’s led the AL in whiffs at 285 – also 29.6 percent of their official at bats.

Stolen Bases

NL: Nationals – 32; Brewers – 26; Dodgers & Marlins – 21

AL: Angels- 31; Rangers – 30; Rays – 19


The Orioles swiped the fewest bases in all of MLB last month – just four in five tries. The Braves had the fewest steals in the NL – five in nine tries – for an MLB-low 55.5 percent success rate.  The Royals attempted just seven steals – but were successful all seven times.


NL: Dodgers – 131; Cardinals – 110; Cubs – 100

AL: Yankees – 115; Indians – 102; A’s – 97


Only two teams scored fewer than 100 runs in June:  The Phillies (94) and the Blue Jays (96); Surprisingly, the Rockies tied the Phillies for the fewest home runs for the month (24), but they did play just nine of 27 games at Coors Field.


Earned Run Average (MLB Average – 4.63)

NL: D-backs – 3.04; Dodgers – 3.29; Cubs 3.98

AL: Indians – 3.71; Yankees – 3.85; Red Sox – 3.91


Eight teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for June. Topping the AL – the Orioles at 6.27.  In the NL – the Reds at 5.97.

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB Average – 134)

NL: Dodgers – 96; D-backs – 101; Cubs – 113

AL: Indians – 109; Royals – 114; Red Sox – 116

Strikeouts (MLB Average – 225)

NL: Dodgers – 280; Nationals – 263; D-backs – 244

AL: Astros – 293; Indians – 267; Yankees – 258

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB Average – 86)

NL: Padres – 75; Pirates – 68; – Nationals & Dodgers – 79

AL: Royals – 68; Rays – 71; Red Sox – 73


The Orioles gave up an MLB-high 117 walks in June.  The Brewers’ staff gave up an NL-highest 102 walks during the month.

Saves (MLB average – 6)

NL: Dodgers – 12; Brewers – 11; Padres & Cubs – 8

AL: Rays – 9; four with eight


The Yankees and Marlins each recorded six blown saves in June. However, the worse save percentage went to the Tigers, who had just two saves in seven changes (28.6%).



Average (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  Justin Turner, Dodgers – .415; Andrew McCutcheon, Pirates – .411; Denard Span, Giants – .374

AL: Ben Gamel, Mariners – .393; Josh Reddick, Astros – .389; Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians – .373

Home Runs

NL: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 13; Matt Adams, Braves – 10; two with nine

AL: George Springer, Astros – 11; four with ten


The Rockie’s Nolan Arenado hit an NL-leading four triples in June.


NL: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 27; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 27; Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 27

AL: Mike Zunino, Mariners – 31; Gary Sanchez, Yankees – 27; Justin Upton, Tigers – 27

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 25; three with 23

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 30; Joe Ramirez, Indians – 26; three with 24

Stolen Bases

NL:  Trea Turner, Nationals – 22; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 13; Chris Taylor, Dodgers 9

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels – 11; Delino DeShields, Rangers – 10; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 8


NL:  Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 22; Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 19; five with 18

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 30; Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers – 19; Carlos Santana, Indians – 18


The lowest average (minimum 50 June at bats) for the month went to Padres’ outfielder Allen Cordoba at .148 (8-for-54). In the AL, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo was in the basement at .162 (11-for-68).  

Matt Davidson of the White Sox and Khris Davis of the A’s led all of MLB in June strikeouts with 42. Davidson achieved his whiffs in just 88 at bats (a 47.7 percent K rate. Still, he hit .239-7-13. Remarkably, Davis hit  .299 for the month (.299-5-22), despite the 42 strikeouts. Early-season sensation Eric Thames of the Brewers had a rough June – hitting just .163 and leading the NL in strikeouts (39 in 92 at bats.)



NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 5-0, 2.23; Josh deGrom, Mets – 4-1, 2.75;  Gerrit Cole, Pirates – 4-2, 6.17

AL:  Jason Vargas, Royals – 6-0, 1.98; Jordan Montgomery, Yankees – 4-0, 2.59; Jose Berrios, Twins – 4-1, 3.21; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 4-1. 2.78

ERA (Minimum 25 June innings)

NL:  Max Scherzer, Nationals – 0.99; Chase Anderson, Brewers 1.56; Alex Wood, Dodgers – 2.10

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 1.26; Jose Quintana, White Sox – 1.78; Jason Vargas, Royals, 1.98


The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in June went to the Reds’ Amir Garret, who put up a 12.15 ERA in four June starts (13 1/3 innings).  In the AL. given those parameters, We find th Orioles’ Chris  Tillman at 9.69.  


NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 57 (40 1/3 innings); Max Scherzer – 51 (36 1/3); Jimmy Nelson, Brewers – 50 (40 2/3)

AL: Corey Kluber, Indians – 64 (43 innings); Chris Sale, Red Sox – 45 (35 2/3); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 43 (37 1/3)


The Marlins’ Edison Volquez gave up the most walks in June (20 in 35 2/3 innings). He also gave up just 20 hits – finishing with a 3-1, 3.28 record for the month.


NL:  Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 10; Corey Knebel, Brewers – 10; four with seven

AL: Brandon Kintzer, Twins – 8; Roberto Osuma, Blue Jays – 8; Cragi Kimbrel, Red sox – 8.




Average  (MLB Average – .254)

NL:  Nationals – .277; Rockies – .268; Braves & D-backs  – .264

AL: Astros – .283; Yankees – .270; Red Sox & Mariners – .266

Runs Scored (MLB average – 373)

NL: Nationals – 447; Dodgers – 428; D-backs – 422

AL: Astros – 449; Yankees – 445; Mariners – 398


Only the Padres (291) and the Phillies (299) have plated fewer than 300 runs through June.  San Diego also has the lowest team batting average at just .227. In the AL, the Royals have put up the fewest tallies at 314, while the Rangers are hitting an AL-low .239.

Home Runs (MLB Average – 101)

NL: Brewers – 123; Nationals – 121; Mets – 118

AL:  Astros – 128; Yankees & Rays  – 123


Tampa Bay hitterS have played a lot of air ball this year, as the Rays are the only team to strike out 800 times (802) through June. The Rays are, however, tied for second in home runs at 123.

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 41)

NL: Brewers – 69; Reds – 68; Nationals – 62

AL: Angels- 74; Rangers – 73; Mariners – 50


The Orioles hace MLB’s fewest stolen bases through June and are the only team with under 20 steals (just 16 in 21 tries). From a percentage point of view, the Rockies are the least successful thieves (28 steals in 50 attempts – 56 percent). Compare that to the Royals, with 36 steals in 44 tries (82 percent).


Earned Run Average (MLB average – 4.34)

NL: Dodgers – 3.24; D-backs – 3.41; Cardinals – 4.04

AL: Indians –  3.83; Yankees – 3.83; Red Sox – 3.86


Only two teams have ERA’s over five through June – The Reds at 5.26 and the Orioles at 5.02. NotablY, the Orioles are just one game under .500, while the are 11 games away from break even.

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 373)

NL: Dodgers – 281; D-backs –  317; Cardinals – 351

AL: Indians – 315; Astros & Yankees – 333


The Dodgers’ rotation has the best starters’ ERA in the NL at 3.40; while the Astros’ starters top the AL at 3.83.  The other end of the spectrum? Reds’ starters at 6.18 and Orioles’ starters at 5.57.

Interested in the end game? The Indians’ pen is best at 2.57, while the Dodgers pen has the NL’s lowest ERA at 2.95.  As far as throwing fuel the fire – The Tigers’ and Nationals’ pens are the only relief staffs with ERAs over five (5.15 and 5.07, respectively).

Strikeouts (MLB average – 657)

NL: Dodgers – 783; D-backs – 750; Nationals – 720

AL: Astros – 830; Indians – 771; Red Sox – 742

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB average – 261)

NL: Dodgers & Pirates  – 226; Nationals – 238

AL:  Red Sox – 205; Indians – 220; Yankees – 234

Saves (MLB Average – 19)

NL: Rockies – 28; Brewers – 76; Cardinals & Dodgers – 23

AL: Rays – 26; Red Sox – 24; Astros – 23


The Rangers lead all of MLB in blown saves with 16 – and, in fact, five of the top six teams in blown saves are from the AL. The Nationals lead the NL with 13 miffed save opportunities.  Only the Rangers and Phillies have been successful in fewer than half their save opportunities – Rangers 14-for-29/44.8 percent and Phillies 13-for-24/45.8 percent.



NL:  Buster Posey, Giants – .341; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – 339; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – .336

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .330; Aaron Judge, Yankees – .326; Corey Dickerson, Rays .326

Home Runs

NL: Cody Bellingers, Dodgers – 24; Joey Votto, Reds – 23; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 21

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 27; George Springer, Astros – 24; two with 22


The Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon has ten triples through June – no other player has more than five.


NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 66; Jake Lamb,D-backs – 65; Ryan Zimmeerman, Nati0nals – 62

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 62; Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 59; Robinson Cano, Mariners – 57

Runs Scored

NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 69; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 64; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 60

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 70; George Springer, Astros – 63; Corey Dickerson, Rays – 60

Stolen Bases

NL:  Trea Turner, Nationals – 35; Billy Hamilton, Reds – 33; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 29

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels – 24; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 20; Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 19


NL:  Matt Carpenbter, Cardinals – 56; Joey Votto, Reds – 55; Kris Bryant, Cubs – 53

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 58; Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers 47; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 47.


Only four playes have fanned 100+ times through June: Khris Davis, A’s and Joey Gallo, Rangers – 107 each; Miguel Sano, Twins – 106; Keon Broxton, Brewers – 104.



NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 12-2, 2.32; five with nine

AL:  Jason Vargas, Royals – 12-3, 2.22; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 10-3, 2.77; Ervin Santana, Twins – 10-5, 3.09

ERA (Minimum 25 June innings)

NL:  Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.06; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.32; Gio Gonzalez, Natonals – 2.87

AL:  Jason Vargas, Royals – 2.22; Lance McCullers Jr., Astros – 2.69; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.77


In this year of the home run, five pitchers havce already given up 20 or more long balls: John Lackey, Cubs (24); Bronson Arroyo, Reds (23); Ricky Nolasco, Angels (23); Masahiro Tanaka (21)l Jordan Zimmerman , Tigers (20).


NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 151 (113 2/3 innings); Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 135 (116 1/3); Robbie Ray, D-backs – 128 (100)

AL; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 155 (113  2/3 innings); Chris Archer, Rays – 131 (110 1/3); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 115 (107)


NL:  Greg Holland Rockies – 26; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 20; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 18

AL: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox – 23; Brandon Kintzer, Twins – 23; Alex Colome, Rays 21


Three pitches have accumulated six blown saves (the MLB high); The Tigers’ Francisco Rodriguez; Marlins’ David Phelps; and Pirates’ Tony Watson. Their saves totals? Watson ten, Rodriguez six, Phelps zer0.






Main Sources for stats in this post:  ESPN.com; MLB.com; Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT


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