Odd Baseball Facts Archive – IX

Babe Lost a HR, Forfeited Game, and One Replayed Twice
Until 1920, major league rules decreed that the home team could not win by more than one run when it won in the bottom of the 9th or an extra inning.
  • If the batter hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game, he was credited with only a single since that was all that was needed to send the winning run home. In other words, the game ended as soon as the winning run scored.
  • One of the 38 players who lost HRs under this rule was Babe Ruth. On July 8, 1918, he homered for the Red Sox with a teammate on 1st base in the bottom of the 10th of a scoreless game. Since the runner had to traverse three bases to reach the plate, Babe was credited with a triple.
  • In 1968, the Special Baseball Records Committee, formed to settle historical disparities or errors, voted to credit all the players who had hit "walkoff" HRs before 1920 with an additional four-bagger. So Ruth's HR total went from 714 to 715.
  • But a year later, the committee reversed its decision and return the total to 714.

Rule 7.03 states in part: A game may be forfeited to the opposing team when a team ... employs tactics palpably designed to delay or shorten the game.

  • The last time this rule was invoked was July 18, 1954, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.
  • The Cardinals trailed the Phillies 8-1 in the second game of a rain-delayed doubleheader with one out in the top of the 5th, and darkness fast approaching. Since the rules did not permit turning on the stadium lights to continue play, Cards manager Eddie Stanky starting delaying to keep the game from going the required five full innings to be official.
  • When he changed pitchers twice in the top of the 5th, the umpires warned Eddie that they would invoke the stalling rule. When he went to his bullpen a third time, crew chief Babe Pinelli picked up the field microphone and announced that the game was forfeited to the Phils.
  • Because the game didn't go the required five innings, the official scorer didn't send in a box score. Philly starter Bob Greenwood was denied an almost certain victory in his first major league start.

A 1932 game between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers was replayed not once but twice.

  • The story begins in the 2nd inning of the original game when Tony Lazzeri stepped to the plate as the 5th hitter in the Yankee order. Plate umpire Dick Nallin told Tony that he was the 6th batter on the lineup card. NY skipper Joe McCarthy, admitting he made a mistake on his card, asked Nallin to make an exception and allow Lazzeri to hit in his usual 5th spot. The ump agreed.
  • When Tony singled, Detroit manager Bucky Harris appealed to Nallin that Laz had hit out of order. When Nallin explained that Tony had hit fifth with his permission, Harris played the game under protest on the grounds that the umpire had no authority to change the batting order after the game began.
  • After the Yanks won 6-3, AL president Will Harridge upheld the protest and ordered the game replayed in its entirety.
  • The two clubs met again a month later. But the replay ended in a 7-7 tie because of darkness.
  • So the following day, the second replay took place. Detroit won 4-1.
  • Postscript: At the end of the season, Harridge terminated Nallin after he completed his 18th year as an AL umpire.

Babe Ruth


Eddie Stanky


Tony Lazzeri

Player-Managers Rule!
Player-managers won the National League pennant every season from 1932-38.
  1. 1932: Charlie Grimm, Chicago Cubs
  2. 1933: Bill Terry, New York Giants
  3. 1934: Frankie Frisch, St. Louis Cardinals
  4. 1935: Charlie Grimm, Chicago Cubs
  5. 1936: Bill Terry, New York Giants
  6. 1937: Bill Terry, New York Giants
  7. 1938: Gabby Hartnett, Chicago Cubs

Only two of the managers won the World Series - Terry in 1933 and Frisch in 1934.

The winning managers played these positions.

  • Grimm and Terry manned 1B.
  • Frisch patrolled 2B.
  • Hartnett caught.

During this National League streak, a player-manager won the AL title three times - SS Joe Cronin of the Washington Senators in 1933 and C Mickey Cochrane of the Tigers in 1934 and 1935.

It is no coincidence that this plethora of playing-managers occurred during the Great Depression when owners intent on skimping on costs were getting a two-for-one by paying a player extra to manage but still not as much as hiring a bench manager.

The NL pattern ended in 1939 when Bill McKechnie piloted the Cincinnati Reds to the crown.

Other player-managers who have led their teams to the league championship are listed below. * indicates he also won the World Series.

  1. 1903: 3B Jimmy Collins, Boston Americans*
  2. 1903: OF Fred Clarke, Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. 1906: OF Fielder Jones, Chicago White Sox*
  4. 1906: 1B Frank Chance, Chicago Cubs
  5. 1907: 1B Frank Chance, Chicago Cubs*
  6. 1908: 1B Frank Chance, Chicago Cubs*
  7. 1909: OF Fred Clarke, Pittsburgh Pirates*
  8. 1910: 1B Frank Chance, Chicago Cubs
  9. 1912: 1B Jake Stahl, Boston Red Sox*
  10. 1915: C Bill Carrigan, Boston Red Sox*
  11. 1916: C Bill Carrigan, Boston Red Sox*
  12. 1920: OF Tris Speaker, Cleveland Indians*
  13. 1924: 2B Bucky Harris, Washington Senators*
  14. 1926: 2B Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals*
  15. 1941: SS Leo Durocher, Brooklyn Dodgers
  16. 1948: SS Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians*

Two of the skippers listed above were part-time players during the pennant year.

  • In 1916, 32-year-old Carrigan took the field in just 33 contests, with six of those just as a pinch-hitter.
  • Durocher appeared in only 18 games for the Dodgers in 1941.

Charlie Grimm

Bill Terry

Frankie Frisch

Gabby Hartnett
38 Starts, 27 Passed Balls
Atlanta C Bob Uecker
Bob Uecker

In 1967, C Bob Uecker of the Atlanta Braves started just 38 games but led the league in passed balls with 27. How do you suppose that happened?

If you guessed a knuckleballer was involved, you're right.

  • Uecker was the personal C of Phil Niekro because, says Bob, Joe Torre wouldn't do it.
  • Bob didn't mind. Least I got to play.

Ueck adjusted his mitt to handle Phil's wobbler.

When I played, they had real big catcher's mitts that al­ways handicapped me. Like an oversized first baseman's glove, it was heavy. It hindered me trying to catch the knuckler, so I went to a smaller mitt.

He removed the padding from the mitt until it was like a piece of skin. Still, it didn't help.

Always thought that was my greatest record be­cause I didn't play every game. Had I played every game, I would have set a record that would have been unapproachable.

In his second career as a broadcaster and comedian, Bob offered this advice on catching the knuckler:

The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.

Atlanta P Phil Niekro
Phil Niekro
Strange Winning Pitcher Decisions
By 1903, official scorers had begun placing a "W" or "L" alongside pitchers' names on score sheets to in­dicate the hurlers credited with the win or loss for their teams.
  • However, neither the NL nor the AL had clear guidelines for deciding the winning and losing Ps. For the most part, this was not a big problem in an era when pitchers completed most of the games they started and those who didn't were usually on the losing team.
  • Young John Heydler, assistant to NL presi­dent Harry Pulliam, attempted to rectify the deficiency by issuing periodic bulletins to his scorers with instructions on handling certain scoring situations.
  • The AL, however, had no counterpart to Heydler, resulting in a Wild Wild West ap­proach to determining winning/losing hurlers. Stung by public outrage following scoring de­cisions that continued Walter Johnson's 16- game winning streak in 1912, AL President Ban Johnson removed pitchers' wins and losses from league statistics for six years.
  • In particular, there was no rule requiring the starting P to complete five innings in order to be eligible for the victory. That requirement didn't take effect until 1950 when the leagues agreed on a rule book that included mandatory scoring regulations.

So scorers during the first half of the 20th century made a number of odd decisions concerning winning pitchers.

  • The oddest scoring decision occurred in a Federal League game on September 7, 1914 when a hurler who did not make a single pitch to the plate became the winning P. However, that circumstance would be han­dled the same way today. James Bluejacket, pitching for the Brooklyn Tip Tops, entered in relief with two outs in the top of the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Rebels with his team behind 11-7. Jim immediately picked Steve Yerkes off 1B by 2' to retire the side. Then the "Brookfeds" (as they were called) plated 5 to take a 12-11 lead. Another P threw a scoreless 9th to get what today would be called a save.
  • Until 1969 when both leagues splilt into di­visions, teams that clinched the pennant be­fore the last weekend would give one or more of their top twirlers a "World Series Warm-up" start. The P would go a few inn­ings, then be relieved. As long as the starter left the game with a lead that his team never relinquished, scorers would award the victo­ry. On the last day of the 1934 seson, Tiger teammates Alvin Crowder and Tommy Brid­ges profited from this largesse to win both games of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. Crowder went 4 innings, giv­ing up 8 hits and 4 runs but was credited with the 10-6 victory that took only 1:45. In the nightcap, Bridges pitched four hitless inn­ings before another starter, Elden Auker, took over for three as Detroit won 6-2 in in seven fewer minutes than the opener.
  • Two years later, Brooklyn manager Casey Stengel announced that his ace Van Lingle Mungo would pitch only the first two innings in the final game of the season against the New York Giants. The Dodgers belted one of New York's starters, Freddie Fitzsimmons, for 6 runs in those two innings on their way to an 8-3 win that pushed Mungo's season total to 18. The strange aspect of this con­test? It was the Giants who were going to the World Series against the Yankees, not the 7th place Dodgers!
  • Ewell Blackwell won 82 games in his 10-year ML career. One of them came July 18, 1949, in a game he started but lasted only four innings. His Reds scored 5 in the top of the third against the Boston Braves. After pitching four hitless frames, Ewell gave up a leadoff HR to Tommy Holmes in the 5th followed by a single by Alvin Dark. At that point, "The Whip" left the game complaining of a stomach ache and left the game. Reliever Eddie Erautt came to the rescue, pitching one-hit, no-run ball the rest of the way to complete the 6-1 victory. The official scorer, using his discretion, credited the win to Erautt but was overruled by the NL office, which changed it to Blackwell. If that situation had occurred the following year, the scoring guidelines would have handed Erautt the win without question. Blackwell's gift was the last case of a starter winning a game that was not shortened by rain in which he pitched less than five full innings.
Reference: "Origin of the Modern Pitching Win," Frank Vaccaro,
The Baseball Research Journal (Spring 2013)

John Heydler, future National League President
John Heydler

P James Bluejacket, Brooklyn Tip Tops
James Bluejacket

Tommy Bridges & Alvin Crowder, Detroit Tigers
Tommy Bridges & Alvin Crowder

Brooklyn Manager Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel

Brooklyn P Van Lingle Mungo
Van Lingle Mungo

Cincinnati P Ewell Blackwell
Ewell Blackwell

Miscellaneous Odd Facts
In 1954, the Cleveland Indians won 21 of their 22 meetings with the Boston Red Sox.
  • The Indians celebrated victory 111 times that season to end the Yankees' string of five straight AL pennants by eight games.
  • The Red Sox took fourth place despite finishing 16 games under .500 at 69-85. When the top two teams in the standings suck up 214 victories, there's not many for the other six clubs to share.
  • Included in Cleveland's dominance over the Bosox was a five-game sweep at Fenway Park June 11-14. Every member of the Tribe's "Big Four" got a victory: Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Mike Garcia, and Bob Lemon. The fifth starter, Art Houtteman, also joined the fun.
  • The only victory for Boston over Cleveland came the following Saturday in Cleveland 6-3. Ellis Kinder gained the win with 2 2/3 innings of relief from Sid Hudson. Lemon took the loss to drop his record to 8-4.
Cleveland's Big Four of 1954
Cleveland's Big Four of 1954 with Manager Al Lopez

Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds

Orioles P Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer

After the 2010 season, Mark Reynolds held the dubious distinction of holding the top three spots in the record book for whiffs in a season with 223 in 2009, 211 in 2010, and 204 in 2008. But since then, three interlopers have horned in on Mark's monopoly.
  • 2011 - Drew Stubbs, 205 Ks
  • 2012 - Adam Dunn, 222 Ks
  • 2013 - Chris Carter, 212 Ks

Mark's 223 in 2009 still stands at the top by one over Dunn, but his other two totals have fallen to 4th and 6th. He's also 12th with 196 in 2011. To show how baseball has changed over the decades, the Brewers signed Reynolds to a $2M contract with a possible $500,000 more in incentives for the 2014 season.

The top 15 on the current list of top strikeout "performances" in a season are all from the 21st century. Bobby Bonds is tied for 16th with 189 Ks in 1970 and is also 20th with 187 in 1969. If you're wondering about Rob Deer, he's a piker compared to today's players. His best (worst?) K year was 1987 when he fanned 186 times, which is now tied for 23rd after being 3rd when he first "accomplished" it.


Hall of Famer Jim Palmer pitched in 575 games for the Baltimore Orioles (his only ML team, 1965-84), including 17 in the post-season.

  • He faced 16,114 batters, striking out 2,212 of them.
  • Hitters knocked 303 HRs off him, but not a single one of them was a grand slam.
Quick Quiz

What was Jim Palmer's nickname?

(A) Crab (B) Yankee Killer (C) Stringbean (D) Cakes

A Collection of Odd Facts
In 1905, the Pacific Coast League scheduled called for each team to play 230 games from March 30 to December 3. On November 8, only one man watched the Oakland Oaks host the Portland Beavers.

In a Class AA American Association game in 1912 , the Columbus Senators and Kansas City Blues banged out 28 hits and 15 runs. Yet only one baseball was used the entire game.

The first two times P Burleigh Grimes was traded happened on January 9.

  • In 1918, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Grimes, SS Charles Ward, and P Al Mamaux to the Brooklyn Dodgers for OF Casey Stengel, 2B George Cut­shaw and $20,000.
  • Nine years later to the day, Grimes went to the New York Giants in a three-way deal also involving the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • All told during his 18-year major league career, Grimes was traded, waived, or sold nine times, a high number in that era long before free agency.
  • You might think spitballer Burleigh wasn't all that good, but he actually won 270 games and won election to the Hall of Fame in 1964.

April 16, 1946, the Boston Braves opened the season against the Brooklyn Dod­gers.

  • Newly applied paint in some sections of the grandstand had not dried, and 5,000 or more fans left the game with soiled clothing. 330 patrons appear­ed at the club's offices with their smeared apparel right after the game.
  • The Braves took out an ad in the local newspapers the next day apologi­zing to the fans and promising to "reimburse any of its patrons for any ex­pense to which they may be put for necessary cleaning of clothing as a re­sult of paint damage."
  • More than 13,000 claims were filed, some from as far away as California and Florida.
  • Eventually, about 5,000 claims were honored ranging from $1.50 to $50 for a total cost to the Braves of $6,000.

March 28, 1977: Texas Rangers 2B Lenny Randle assaulted his manager Frank Lucchesi.

  • Randle was upset about being benched in favor of Bump Wills. When Len­ny complained publicly, Lucchesi responded, "I'm sick and tired of punks making $80,000 a year moaning and groaning about their situation."
  • Before an exhibition game a few days later, Lenny punched the 49-year-old Lucchesi in the face three or four times as well as landing other blows to the body before being pulled away by teammate Bert Campaneris.
  • Lucchesi required facial surgery to repair the damage, including several bone chips.
  • The Rangers suspended Randle for 30 days, costing him $9,000 in salary, and levied a $10,000 fine before trading him to the New York Mets. He also faced charges for aggravated battery.
  • In addition, Lucchesi sued Randle for $200,000 after being fired by the Rangers June 21, claiming consequences from the assault was the reason he was let go. The case was settled out of court.

Reference: A Stitch in Time: A Baseball Chronology 1845-2002, Gene Elston (2001)


Burleigh Grimes


Lenny Randle


Frank Lucchesi


Andrelton Simmons


Taylor Featherston


Jordan Pacheco


Bob Turley


Donnie Kessinger

More Odd Facts
May 2, 2015, saw three baserunners called out because they were struck by a batted ball in major league play that day. Two of the outs were the last of their games.
  • Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons was on 2nd with a double in the bottom of the 7th against the Reds when he was hit by a sizzling grounder off the bat of Jace Peterson. Watch video.
  • At Anaheim that same day, the Angels trailed the Giants 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th with Santiago Casilla on 3B and Taylor Featherston pinch-running for David Freese on 1st. Matt Joyce cracked a sharp grounder that hit Featherston between 1st and 2nd to end the game. Watch video.
  • That evening, up the road at Dodger Stadium, the Diamondbacks trailed the Dodgers 6-4 in the top of the 9th with two outs and Jordan Pacheco on 1st. With Pacheco running with the pitch, PH David Peralta hit a grounder to the right of 2B that hit the foot of Pacheco, who never looked toward home plate to see where the ball was going. Watch video.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two ML games the last 13 years had ended with a runner struck by a batted ball. This points up the rarity of the event. Yet it happened twice on the same day!

Other oddities.

  • The Yankees played 308 consecutive games without being shut out - the long­est streak in ML history. They went from August 3, 1931 through August 2, 1933 without being held scoreless. The 1932 Yankees were never shut out during the entire season in which they won the World Series.
    The only other ML team to go an entire season without being shut out is the 2000 Cincinnati Reds. The club went a total of 207 games - April 3, 2000 through May 23, 2001 - without being blanked to set the National League mark for longest consecutive games streak without being shut out.

  • Until 2003 when Commissioner Bud Selig made the winning league in the All- Star game the host of Game One of the World Series, the American and National Leagues alternated hosting the Fall Classic. So the 2001 World Series ended in the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium while the '02 post-season ended in Ana­heim. But if you look at the records of the World Series, you'll notice that both the 1934 and 1935 World Series started in Detroit. What gives?
    On September 17, 1935, Commissioner Landis called a meeting of representa­tives of the five teams which still had a mathematical chance of victory in the pennant races: the Cubs, Cardinals, and Giants in the NL and the Tigers and Yankees in the AL. The Tigers seemed to be a shoo-in as they led the Yankees by 9.5 games with only 15 to play. But the picture in the Senior Circuit was not so clear. The Cubs led the Redbirds by only 2 and the Giants by 4.5. St. Louis representatives pointed to a large convention scheduled for their city on the date the Series was to start. Also, hosting the middle games of the Classic would give the NL champ more time to sell tickets since the pennant race might go down to the last day. So the National League gave up its hosting to the American League that year.
    As it turned out, the Cubs won the NL pennant by 4 games and could easily have hosted the opening of the World Series.

  • Fireballing righthander Bob Turley was a strikeout ace in 1948 during his senior year at East St. Louis (IL) High School. The Yankees asked me to report to a tryout camp at Maryville IL, recalled Turley. My uncle, Ralph Turley, who also was a pitcher, went along too. The Yankees liked both of us and they suggested we re­port to an advanced camp in Missouri for another look. I didn't go, because I wanted to play professional ball right away. New York listed an "R. Turley" among its prospects. So they signed Ralph to a Class D contract with Marion IL, apparently thinking they were getting Robert. When the right Robert Turley graduated from high school, he put his signature on a contract with the St. Louis Browns, who sent him to Belleville IL in the same Illinois State league where his uncle Ralph pitched briefly before quitting baseball.
    Eventually the Yankees acquired the right Turley from the Baltimore Orioles, who had inherited the Browns franchise in 1953. On November 17, 1954, the Orioles traded Turley, IF Billy Hunter, and P Don Larsen to the Yankees for six players. Bullet Bob went on to win 82 regular season games and four World Series contests for the Bronx Bombers.

  • Donnie Kessinger enjoyed a 16-year ML career as a SS for the Cubs, Cardinals, and White Sox. He hit. 252 for his career. The average would have been slightly higher except for the fact that Kessinger went 0-for-37 as a pinch hitter with four walks.
More Odd Baseball Facts
There is a player in ML history whose batting average for one season increased 21 points without playing another game.
  • Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie, the Hall of Fame second baseman of the Philadelphia Athletics, had one of the greatest seasons in baseball history in 1901.
  • He hit .401 to lead the American League by 61 points over Mike Donlin of the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Nap also led the first-year circuit in runs, hits, doubles, and home runs as well as in statistics computed a century later: on-base %, slugging %, and on-base+slugging.
  • But fifty years later, Cliff Kachline of the Baseball Hall of Fame examined the daily official scorers' reports for 1901 and discovered numerous errors.
  • He determined that Lajoie had been shortchanged by nine hits. Adding those increased his batting average by 21 points to .422. That now ranks as the highest average for one season in American League history, just edging out Ty Cobb's .420 in 1911 and George Sisler's .420 in 1922.
  • The nine extra hits also raised Nap's lifetime average from .338 to .339.

The "Dead Ball Era" was well-named.

  • 1902 - the Philadelphia Phillies hit only five home runs for the entire 154-game season. OF Shad Barry clouted three of them. The Brooklyn Dodgers led the league with a grand total of 19 round-trippers. Tommy Leach of Pittsburgh topped all batters with six circuit clouts.
  • 1906 - the Chicago White Sox, known as the "Hitless Wonders,"won the AL pennant despite hitting a puny .230. They went on to defeat the Cubs in the World Series, during which they "outslugged" their crosstown rivals .198 to .196 with, of course, no home runs for either team.
  • 1908 - the White Sox slugged only three home runs, the fewest ever in a season by a major league team. The National League record is 9 by the 1917 Pirates.
Cesar Cedeno of the Houston Astros hit what may be the shortest grand slam ever.
  • Facing the Los Angeles Dodgers September 2, 1971, with two outs in the bottom of the 5th in the Astrodome, Cedeno hit a 200' fly. 2B Jim Lefebvre and RF Bill Buckner collided as they converged on the ball.
  • The ball fell safely. By the time the Dodgers retrieved the ball, Cedeno had followed the three runners across the plate.

The 1989 Astros were involved in a strange situation in which a player was charged with an official at-bat without actually stepping into the batter's box.

  • Houston manager Art Howe switched the places of Rafael Ramirez and Alex Trevino in the batting order right before a 1989 game against the Cardinals in the Astrodome. However, the two players were unaware of the change.
  • So with one out in the bottom of the 1st, Trevino came to the plate in the second spot occupied by Ramirez in the official lineup given to the umpires. Alex rapped a single.
  • Before the first pitch to the next batter, Kevin Bass, St. Louis skipper Whitey Herzog protested that Trevino had hit out of order.
  • At first, the umpires correctly called Trevino out but incorrectly allowed Ramirez to bat next. He flied out, apparently ending the inning. But, knowing the rules better than the umpiring crew, Herzog convinced them that Bass should have hit instead of Ramirez. After a few minutes of discussion, the umps put the Cards back on the field and sent Bass to the plate. He struck out to end the inning for a second time.
  • So with his illegal at-bat wiped away, poor Rafael was charged with an at-bat without stepping to the plate.
  • The Astros had lost five in a row but beat the Redbirds that day, 6-3. 3B Ken Caminiti recalled, "Everyone in the dugout was laughing. We knew we had hit rock bottom when we couldn't even bat in the right order."


Napoleon Lajoie


Shad Barry

 

 

 


Rafael Ramirez