CONTENTS

Phillies Renamed Blue Jays

World Series Leadoff Homers

Teenage Major Leaguers

Most HRs in Game

First Baseball Player on Time Cover

Most DPs in Season

1945 All Star Game Replacements

19K Losers

Top Six-Year Spans

Long-Standing Records

California Yankees

 

Baseball Did You Know – I

Baseball Did You Know – II

Baseball Did You Know – III

Baseball Did You Know – IV

Baseball Did You Know – V

Baseball Did You Know – VI

 

Baseball Magazine

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Baseball Did You Know? – VII
Phillies Owner Gerry Nugent
Gerry Nugent at far right with other Philadelphia pro sports owners Connie Mack and Eddie Gottlieb

Phillies Owner William Cox
William Cox

Robert Carpenter Jr., Phillies Owner
Robert Carpenter, Jr.

William Veeck, Jr.
Bill Veeck

Phillies Renamed Blue Jays
In 1944, one of baseball's worst franchises, the Philadelphia Phillies, attempted to excite the dwindling fan base by announcing a contest to rename the team.
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Crooks, who was given a $100 war bond and a season ticket, submitted the winning entry of "Blue Jays."
  • Her entry, which would later end up on another team's uniform, was chosen over a number of monikers ranging from the Daisies to the Stinkers.
  • The new name was used as the unofficial team title for 1944-45 but abandoned in 1946, though the team was still referred to in newspaper accounts as the "Blue Jays" occasionally through 1949.

How bad does a team have to be to consider changing its nickname? Well, consider these statistics.

Year Record Finish
1933 60-92 7th
1934 56-93 7th
1935 64-189 7th
1936 54-100 8th
1937 61-92 7th
1938 45-105 8th
1939 45-106 8th
1940 50-103 8th
1941 43-111 8th
1942 42-109 8th
1943 64-90 7th
  • As you can see, the Phillies never finished higher than 7th from 1933-1943.
  • Did the new name make a difference? Yes, but the wrong way. The '44 Blue Jays sank back into the cellar and stayed there in '45 as well.

1933 was the year that Gerry Nugent bought the team.

  • Great Depression + pitiful teams = financial disaster. So Nugent was in constant financial need and sold off or traded, in deals that included cash, most of his promising players.
  • In 1943, the National League took the club away from Nugent and sold it to William Cox, who didn't last a year before being barred from baseball for betting on the Phils.
  • The new owner, Robert Carpenter, Jr., conducted the renaming contest. He would finally make the Phils competitive again as evidenced by their 1950 NL pennant.

In his 1962 autobiography, Veeck - As in Wreck, William Veeck Jr. gave another reason why the NL took over the Phillies.

I had tried to buy the Philadelphia Phillies and stock it with Negro players ... Let me make it plain that my Philadelphia adventure was no idle dream. I had made my offer to Gerry Nugent, the president of the fast-sinking club, and he had expressed a willingness to accept it. As far as I knew I was the only bidder. The playes were going to be assembled for me by Abe Saperstein [owner of the Harlem Globetrotters] and Doc Young, the sports editor of the Chicago Defender, two of the most knowledgeable men in the country on the subject on Negro baseball. With Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Luke Easter, Monte Irvin, and countless others in action and available, I had not the slightest doubt that in 1944, a war year, the Phils would have leaped from seventh place to the pennant.

I made one bad mistake. Out of my long respect for Judge Landis [the Commissioner of Baseball] I felt he was entitled to prior notification of what I intended to do. I was aware of the risk I was taking although, to be honest, I could not see how he could stop me. The color line was a "gentleman's agreement" only. The only way the Commissioner could bar me from using Negroes would be to rule, officially and publicly, that they were "detrimental to baseball." With Negroes fighting in the war, such a ruling was unthinkable.

Judge Landis wasn't exactly shocked but he wasn't exactyly overjoyed either. His first reaction, in fact, was that I was kidding him. The next thing I knew I was informed that Nugent, being in bankruptcy, had turned the team back to the league and that I would therefore have to deal with the National League president, Ford Frick. Frick promptly informed me that the club had already been sold to Willliam Cox, a lumber dealer, and that my agreement with Nugent was worthless. The Phillies were sold to Cox by Frick for about half what I had been willing to play. Word reached me soon enough that Frick was bragging all over the baseball world - strictly off the record, of course - about how he had stopped me contaminating the league.

Veeck's story sounds plausible given the known antipathy of Landis and the baseball establishment toward Negro players. However, David M. Jordan, Larry R. Gerlach, and John P. Rossi of the Society for American Baseball Research have written an article disputing Veeck's story.

  • The three men researched press coverage of the 1942-3 off-season and could find no mention of any attempt by Veeck to purchase the Phillies and sign black players.
  • Nor could they find any corroboration by any other party of the claims he made in is autobiography. When the story was repeated countless times following the publication of Veeck - As in Wreck, the source was always the autobiography or an interview with Veeck himself.
  • This SABR member's search of newspaper files for November 1942 uncovered these references.

    November 12, INS article: Latest rumor had Bill Veeck, Jr., president of the Chicago Cubs' Milwaukee American Association league club, interested in purchasing the Phils.
    November 18, John Lardner: There are said to be several syndicates appraising the Phils with an eye to purchase, including one headed by Mr. Bill Veeck, the former Chicago officeholder now operating out of Milwaukee. The National League is a skeptical tong [a secret society] and will believe in this possibility only when it sees the color of somebody's money.

  • One telling article in November 1942 quoted Nugent about the supposed offer from Veeck as follows: During the past year it was published that Bill Veeck, head of the Milwaukee club, had, or would make an offer for the Phils. Veeck stopped in to see me on his way to the World's Series and did not mention buying or even being intrested in the club. When he got back home I saw a clipping from a Milwaukee paper which quoted Veeck as saying he had stopped in to see me because he had read that he was interested in buying the club and he wanted to see what it was all about.
  • Instead, the researchers found ample evidence that the league had been concerned about the Phils' plight since at least 1942 and had lost patience with Nugent's ability to stabilize his team.
  • Particularly telling was the fact that the black papers of the day, including the Philadelphia Tribune, made no mention of Veeck's plan, which surely could not have been kept a secret within the black community.
My conclusion: Veeck may have concocted a plan in his own mind to buy the Phillies and stock it with black players, but he never got the plan off the ground. Twenty years later when he wrote his autobiography, he embellished the story to embarrass the baseball establishment he had battled throughout his life.
World Series Leadoff Homers
World Series Leadoff Homers
Players who have led off a World Series game with a home run
Date  Player, Team  Opponent 
Oct. 25, 2007 Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox Colorado
Oct. 27, 2004 Johnny Damon, Boston Red Sox Cardinals
Oct. 25, 2000  Derek Jeter, N.Y. Yankees  N.Y. Mets 
Oct. 28, 1989  Rickey Henderson, Oakland  San Francisco 
Oct. 21, 1986  Lenny Dykstra, N.Y. Mets  Boston 
Oct. 17, 1978  Davey Lopes, Los Angeles  N.Y. Yankees 
Oct. 16, 1973  Wayne Garrett, N.Y. Mets  Oakland 
Oct. 20, 1972  Pete Rose, Cincinnati  Oakland 
Oct. 14, 1969  Tommie Agee, N.Y. Mets  Baltimore 
Oct. 11, 1969  Don Buford, Baltimore  N.Y. Mets 
Oct. 6, 1968  Lou Brock, St. Louis Cardinals  Detroit 
Oct. 2, 1958  William Bruton, Milwaukee Braves  N.Y. Yankees 
Sept. 30, 1954  Al Smith, Cleveland  N.Y. Giants 
Oct. 4, 1953  Gene Woodling, N.Y. Yankees  Brooklyn 
Oct. 10, 1948  Dale Mitchell, Cleveland  Boston Braves 
Oct. 5, 1942  Phil Rizzuto, N.Y. Yankees  Brooklyn 
Oct. 13, 1909  David Jones, Detroit  Pittsburgh 
Oct. 2, 1903  Patrick Doherty, Boston Red Sox  Pittsburgh 
Lou Brock
Lou Brock

Phil Rizzuto
Phil Rizzuto

Teenage Major Leaguers
P Joe Nuxhall, Reds
Joe Nuxhall

In 1944, with World War II raging, a 15-year-old P, two 16-year-old IF, and four 17-year-olds played for various ML teams. And one of the 17-year-olds was in his second season in the bigs.

  • In the spring of 1944, Joe Nuxhall was a 15-year-old hurler for Hamilton (OH) High School. The Reds, desperate for talent, signed the youngster for their farm system. Then, trailing the defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals 13-0 on June 10, manager Bill McKechnie sent the lefty Nuxhall out to pitch the 9th inning. He walked the first batter, then retired the next two. Admittedly nervous and scared, Joe walked four more, uncorked a wild pitch, and gave up two singles and five runs before being removed. That was Nuxhall's only NL appearance until 1952 when he joined the Reds for good.
  • Tommy Brown was 16 years and 8 months old when he was called up from the minors by the Dodgers and played SS in both games of a doubleheader against the Cubs in August 3, 1944. He doubled and scored in the first game and committed an error. He played regularly with the Dodgers for the rest of the 1944 season. However, having hit only .164 in 46 games, he was optioned to St. Paul the following spring. The 1944 Dodgers roster also included 17-year-old Eddie Miksis and 18-year-old Gene Mauch, as well as 18-year-old P Ralph Branca and Cal McLish.
Tommy Brown, Dodgers
Most HRs in Game

Frank Thomas, White Sox
Frank Thomas
The record for most HRs by both teams in a nine inning game is 12. The feat was accomplished by the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox on May 28, 1995, at Tiger Stadium.

  • The Tigers hit seven dingers while Chicago smashed five.
  • Nevertheless, Gene Lamont's White Sox defeated Sparky Anderson's Tigers 14-12.
  • Detroit's seven round-trippers were hit by only four players: 1B Cecil Fielder (2), DH Kirk Gibson (2), CF Chad Curtis (2), and 2B Lou Whittaker. Sox starter James Baldwin gave up four of the HRs in the first two innings as the Tigers jumped out to a 7-1 lead.
  • Chicago's five HRs came from: C Ron Karkovice (2), 2B Ray Durham, 1B Frank Thomas, and SS Craig Gerbeck. Three came off starter David Wells.
Thomas tied for second in the AL that season with 40 HRs.
Cecil Fielder, Tigers
Cecil Fielder
First Baseball Player on Time Cover

George Sisler on Time Cover
Time, March 30, 1925

St. Louis Browns 1B George Sisler
George Sisler

Time magazine began publication in 1923. Who do you think was the first baseball player to appear on the cover of the magazine? Babe Ruth? Good guess but wrong. It was George Sisler, the great 1B of the St. Louis Browns.

  • After hitting .285 in 81 games with the Browns in 1915 and .305 in his first full season in 1916, Sister went on a tear from 1917-1922. During that time he hit at least .341 and twice hit over .400 ? .407 in 1920 and .420 in 1922 when he won the AL MVP Award and led St. Louis to second place, only one game behind the Yankees.
  • George didn't report to spring training in 1923 because of a serious sinus infection that led to double vision. As a result, he missed the entire season. J. Roy Stockton noted in March 1924 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Sisler's "eye was noticeably crossed" and that George said he "couldn't see one baseball."
  • Sisler returned in 1924 to hit .305. During that season, pitchers picked up something about George that they used against him. Bob Shawkey of the Yankees: "When he was up at the plate, he could watch you for only so long, and then he'd have to look down to get his eyes focused again. So we'd keep him waiting up there until he'd have to look down and then pitch. He was never the same hitter again after that."
  • "Never the same" is true if you mean "never hit .400 again." However, he reached .345 in 1925. The next year, at age 33, he slumped to .290 before rebounding to .327 in 1927.
  • Even his 1925 production did not satisfy Sisler. He said his numbers "never gave me much satisfaction. That isn't what I call real good hitting." He was referring to his loss of power as illustrated by the fact that his slugging percentages in his heyday from 1919-1922 were .530, .632, .560, and .594. After his eye problems, he never slugged more than .479.
  • Before the 1928 season, the Washington Senators purchased Sisler for $25,000. After 51 games in which he hit only .245, he was sold to the Boston Braves, with whom he averaged .340, .326, and .309 before he retired after the 1930 season.
  • Sisler entered the Hall of Fame in 1939 as part of its fourth "class" of inductees. Many rank him the equal of any 1B ever, including Lou Gehrig. If he hadn't gotten that sinus infection, there would be no doubt of his supremacy among first sackers.
Reference: "George Sisler: A Close Look at Vision Problems That Derailed Him,"
Rick Huhn, Jim Provenzale, David A. Goss, The Baseball Research Journal, 2008
Most DPs in Season

The major league record for double plays in one season is 217. It was set by the 1949 Philadelphia Athletics.

  • The infield for most of the 154 A's games that year was 3B Hank Majeski (114 games), SS Eddie Joost (144), 2B Pete Suder (118), and 1B Ferris Fain (150). Future HOFer Nellie Fox, in his first full season in the majors, also appeared in 77 games at 2B.
  • To set a DP record, it helps to have pitchers who put numerous runners on base. The Philly staff had a 1.55 WHIP [(Walks + Hits) IP], which translates to three runners on base every two innings. That figure (which wasn't introduced until decades later but has been retroactively calculated) ranked sixth in the eight-team league.
  • Connie Mack's Athletics finished with an 81-73 record for fifth place, 16 games behind the New York Yankees.
  • Only 12 teams have turned 200 DPs in a season. The last was the 2001 Kansas City Royals with 204.
1949 Philadelphia A's Infield
Philadelphia Athletics' 1949 infield
(L-R) Eddie Joost, Hank Majeski, Ferris Fain, Pete Suder
1945 All Star Game Replacements
NL Commissioner Ford Frick
Ford Frick

Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler
Happy Chandler

 

 

 

Bert Shepard
Bert Shepard

Babe Herman
Babe Herman

The MLB owners, in their meeting on February 3, 1945, confirmed that the All-Star Game would be played at Boston's Fenway Park on July 10, with all proceeds to be donated to war relief.

  • However, on February 21, Monroe Johnson, the Director of the Office of Defense Transportation (ODT), requested a 25% cut in travel by major league baseball during the season.
  • In order to salvage the regular season schedule, the owners agreed to cancel the All-Star Game. NL President Ford Frick estimated that doing so would save 500,000 passenger miles. Not only would player travel to Boston be eliminated but also that of the press and others who would attend. Owners promised to play the 1946 classic at Fenway Park if the war effort would allow it.
  • Doubts were also raised about the World Series. The ODT announced that the Fall Classic would be allowed "only if transportation and war conditions at the time permit."

When Germany surrendered in May, fans got their hopes up that the All-Star Game could be salvaged.

  • Johnson not only didn't relent but complained that even more transportation would be needed due to redeployment of forces from the European Theater to the Pacific.
  • In June, Mike Todd, a New York theatrical producer (who produced Around the World in Eighty Days, the 1956 Academy Award winner, and was one of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands), broached the idea of holding an All-Star Game in Nuremberg Stadium in Germany before a potential crowd of 120,000 GIs. Although newly-elected Commissioner Happy Chandler was intrigued, the idea proved impractical.
  • In place of the usual selection of All-Star players, the Associated Press named two all-star squads after requesting nominations from each of the ML managers. Thirteen of the skippers responded. Yankees manager Joe McCarthy did not participate, and neither did the two managers of the previous season's pennant winners, Luke Sewell of the St. Louis Browns and Billy Southworth of the Cardinals, who would have directed the teams had the All-Star game been played. The AP rosters are not considered official.

To replace the cancelled game, eight interleague games were scheduled during the all-star break, with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross and War Relief Fund. Five of the games paired two teams from the same city. The others pitted teams in fairly close proximity to reduce travel. All were played at night July 9 and 10 to maximize attendance.

  • Boston Braves at Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)
    The Red Sox won 8-1. The attendance was 22,809.
  • New York Yankees at New York Giants (Polo Grounds)
    41,267 watched the Yankees' 7-1 victory. Yankee Stadium was the larger park but as yet had no lights.
  • Philadelphia Phillies at Philadelphia Athletics (Shibe Park)
    Only 4,835 showed up as the Phils (officially the Blue Jays) scored twice in the ninth to take the game, 7-6.
  • Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox (Comiskey Park)
    The White Sox won 5-4 before 47,144.
  • St. Louis Cardinals at St. Louis Browns (Sportsman's Park)
    24,233 saw nine Browns pitchers combine for a 2-0 shutout.
  • Cincinnati Reds at Cleveland Indians (Cleveland Stadium)
    A "disappointing crowd" of 6,066 turned out for the home team's 6-0 triumph.
  • Brooklyn Dodgers at Washington Senators (Griffith Stadium)
    23,791 fans enjoyed the 4-3 Senator victory as Bert Shepard, one-legged war veteran, was the winning pitcher; Ossie Bluege and Leo Durocher, the rival managers, both played a couple of innings, and Babe Herman "put on his old-time fielding and base-running acts."
  • Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates (Forbes Field)
    The Dodgers obtained ODT permission to travel to Washington for their interleague game on their way to Cincinnati for the first series after the break. However, the ODT refused to grant the Tigers similar permission to stop in Pittsburgh on their way to Boston. So that game was cancelled.
19K Losers
Steve Carlton, St. Louis Cardinals
Steve Carlton

Randy Johnson, Seattle Mariners
Randy Johnson

Striking out 19 batters and losing the game would seem to be a rare occurrence. Yet it has happened three times in MLB.

  • Steve Carlton of the St. Louis Cardinals was the first to do so. He fanned 19 New York Mets on September 15, 1969 but lost the game, thanks chiefly to two HRs by Ron Swoboda, 4-3. Carlton's feat set the record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game in the 20th century.
  • Nolan Ryan of the California Angels whiffed 19 Detroit Tigers on August 20, 1974, but lost 1-0 in 11 innings to Mickey Lolich. 16 of Ryan's Ks came in the first nine innings. Just eight days earlier, Nolan had struck out 19 in a 9-inning victory over the Red Sox to tie Carlton's record for a nine-inning performance.
  • Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners lost to the Oakland A's 1-0 on June 24, 1997, despite setting 19 batters down on strikes. On August 18 that season, he repeated his 19K feat in a victory over the White Sox.

Between 1974 and 1997, Roger Clemens set the new record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game (April 29, 1986 vs. the Mariners) and then tied his own record (September 18, 1996, at Detroit). He won both games.

So Carlton, Ryan, and Johnson still share the major league record for most strikeouts in a losing effort.

Nolan Ryan, California Angels
Nolan Ryan

Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox
Roger Clemens

Top Six-Year Spans
Greg Maddux
Greg Maddux
One way of ranking pitchers is to compare their best six-year spans. Here are the top six-year performances (winning percentage .700+) since 1920 when the "Dead Ball Era" ended.
Pitcher
Years
W-L
Pct.
IP
ERA
SHO
SO
Lefty Grove
1928-1933
152-41
.788
1,683.2
2.67
18
1,039
Sandy Koufax
1961-1966
129-47
.733
1,632.2
2.19
35
1,713
Juan Marichal
1963-1968
133-54
.711
1,721.1
2.38
30
1,300
Dwight Gooden
1984-1989
100-39
.719
1,291.0
2.64
19
1,168
Greg Maddux
1992-1997
109-44
.712
1,424.1
2.14
14
1,082
Pedro Martinez
1997-2002
104-32
.765
1,221.1
2.20
11
1,555
Randy Johnson
1997-2002
120-42
.741
1,487.1
2.58
19
2,037
Three of these seven dominant pitchers were southpaws ? Grove, Koufax, Johnson.

Reference: Baseball Digest, Sept/Oct 2009
Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson

 


Rogers Hornsby

Long-Standing Records
The St. Louis Cardinals hold some of the longest standing ML records.

  • Rogers Hornsby of the St. Louis Cardinals set the NL mark for total bases in a single season with 450 in 1922.
  • In 1927, Frankie Frisch of the Cardinals still holds the ML record for most assists in a single season by a 2B with 641.
  • Curt Flood's 178 singles in 1964 remains the ML record by a right-handed batter.
  • The immortal Dizzy Dean retains the distinction of being the last NL hurler to win 30 games in a season. He did so in 1934.
  • The 1908 Cardinals hold the dubious ML record for most times being shut out in a single season -? 33.
Curt Flood
Curt Flood
Dizzy Dean
Dizzy Dean
Frankie Frisch
Frankie Frisch

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Frank Crosetti 1937
Frank Crosetti

Lefty Gomez
Lefty Gomez

California Yankees
Five Californians graced the starting lineup for the New York Yankees as they faced the New York Giants in Game One of the 1937 World Series.

  • The most prominent Golden State native was CF Joe DiMaggio, born in Martinez, a suburb of San Francisco where he grew up.
  • SS Frank Crosetti was born in San Francisco.
  • 2B Tony Lazzeri likewise called the Golden Gate city his birthplace.
  • P Lefty Gomez was born in Rodeo.
  • LF Myril Hoag claimed Davis as his birthplace.

Two other members of the team hailed from California.

  • P Monte Pearson listed Oakland his birthplace.
  • Babe Dahlgren, who played in only one game in '37 (and would take over for Lou Gehrig at 1B two years later) was the fourth Yankee born in San Francisco.
Tony Lazzeri
Tony Lazzeri

Myril Hoag
Myril Hoag