Red Sox Rally

Fatal Attraction

Blame It on Early

Know the Rules!

Shield Your Eyes, Dear

Batting Order Oddities

Historic Day at the Polo Grounds

In LF, What's His Name


Baseball Lore – I

Baseball Lore – II

Baseball Lore – III

Baseball Lore – IV

Baseball Lore – V

Baseball Lore – VII

Baseball Lore – VIII

Baseball Lore – IX

Baseball Lore – X


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Bits of Baseball Lore - VI
Jim Pagliaroni
Red Sox Rally
On June 18, 1961, the Washington Senators score five runs in the top of the ninth to take a commanding 12-5 lead in the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park. In the bottom of the inning, starter Carl Mathias retires 1B Vic Wertz on a groundout. Then things get dicey.
  • SS Don Buddin singles to RF.
  • Billy Harrell, pinch-hitting for P Ted Wills, strikes out. One out to go for the Senators with a 7-run lead.
  • 2B Chuck Schilling singles Buddin to second.
  • LF Carroll Hardy singles to CF, scoring Buddin and sending Schilling to 3B. 12-6
  • CF Gary Geiger walks to load the bases.
  • Washington manager Mickey Vernon replaces Mathias with RHP Dave Sisler.
  • RF Jackie Jensen walks to force in a run. 12-7
  • 3B Frank Malzone walks, forcing in Hardy. 12-8
  • C Jim Pagliaroni hits a grand slam over the Green Monster to tie the game.
  • Vic Wertz, batting for the second time in the inning, walks.
  • Marty Kutyna replaces Sisler.
  • Buddin singles to LF, Wertz stopping at 2nd. Pete Runnels pinch runs for Wertz.
  • Russ Nixon, pinch-hitting for Harrell, singles to RF. Runnels scores the winning run.
The Red Sox score 8 runs with two out to win 13-12.
Russ Nixon
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus

Ruth Ann Steinhagen
Ruth Ann Steinhagen

Fatal Attraction
In 1949, 29-year-old Eddie Waitkus got off to the best start of his baseball career. After 54 games, the left-handed hitter was batting .306 for the Philadelphia Phillies and leading the All Star balloting for 1B. On June 14, the Phillies were in Chicago to start a series with the Cubs, the team that had originally signed Waitkus in 1939. After serving in World War II, Eddie played three full seasons for the Cubs before being traded to Philadelphia in December, 1948.

Unknown to Waitkus, he had caught the eye of a Chicago girl named Ruth Ann Steinhagen. At age 16, she started attending games at Wrigley Field and became obsessed with the home team's first sacker. She collected hundreds of pictures and newspaper clippings and built a shrine to him in her bedroom. Ruth's parents sent her to a psychiatrist to no avail. When Eddie was traded, the 18-year-old girl cried and said she didn't want to live. When the Phillies came to the Windy City the following June, Ruth decided it was time to meet Eddie.

Following the Phillies' 9-2 victory over the Cubs on June 14, Waitkus joined his roomate Russ Meyer and others for supper. When Meyer returned to their room in the Edgewater Beach Hotel about 11:45 pm, he found a note addressed to Waitkus from "Ruth Ann Burns" telling him she wanted to see him in room 1297. When Eddie came in a few minutes later, Meyer gave him the note. Ironically, Eddie had dated a woman named Ruth Ann and assumed the note was from her. So he went to the room. When Ruth Ann Steinhagen answered the door, she told him that the note's writer had stepped out for a moment and invited him in. After Waitkus sat down, Steinhagen went to the closet, pulled out a 22 caliber rifle, and shot him in the chest, stating that if she couldn't have him, no one could. Then she called the front desk, told them what she had done, and left. Without that call, Eddie would undoubtedly have bled to death.

Based on Waitkus's identification from his hospital bed, Steinhagen was charged with the shooting on June 30. She said she "wasn't sure" why she had shot Waitkus, adding "I'm not really sorry. I'm sorry that Eddie had to suffer so, but I had to relieve the tension I have been under the past two weeks." A jury found her legally insane, and she was committed to a mental institution. After receiving shock treatments, she was released in April 1952, less than three years after the shooting.

Waitkus underwent four operations before heading to Clearwater FL for rehab. Amazingly, he returned for the 1950 season, hitting .284 and scoring 102 runs to help the Phillies win their first pennant since 1915. Eddie played with Philadelphia through 1953, then joined Baltimore for a year and a half before finishing his career with the Phillies in the latter part of 1955.

Psychologically, Eddie went from being sociable and easygoing to reclusive and mistrusting after the shooting. Following his retirement, he was treated for alcoholism. He died in 1972 at age 53.

Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio

Yankees Manager Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel
Blame It on Early
Joe DiMaggio retired at age 36 at the end of the 1951 sea­son. Blame it on Early Wynn. Huh?

DiMaggio told Art Rosenbaum for a 1963 article in Baseball Digest:

He [Wynn] found out I was no longer able to hit the high inside fastball. After I broke my left col­larbone, I wasn't able to bring my left arm around high enough to be ready for the tight pitch. ...

I didn't tell anybody, not even our trainer, that I couldn't come all the way around. I just hoped I could keep the secret. ... Well, Wynn threw one and then another and another. I couldn't just stand there, and he saw my grinding swing. I tell you, it didn't take more than a week for the word to get around the American League.

Joe had a history of injuries. In fact, he was damaged goods when he was bought by the Yankees from the San Francisco Seals. He had weakened cartilage in his knee, which he jammed while getting into an automobile.

Doctors didn't operate much on knees in 1935. Our doctor said I was young enough then to heal by myself. To this day the knee hurts when I turn too much.

Indians P Early Wynn
Early Wynn

The Yankee Clipper was especially plagued by physical problems when he returned after World War II. He suffered from bone spurs in his heel, ulcers, arthritis, and a torn muscle. Joe said he almost retired after the 1950 season.

Casey Stengel decided to put Hank Bauer in CF and me at 1B. ... They had to get more hitting strength spread around the team. So I agreed. I worked out for a week at the po­sition, learning the plays and handling hard grounders. Then I was ready. That day I handled 13 chances. ... One day was enough. Then they asked me if I minded playing CF again and I told them I didn't mind. No one could ever convince me first is an old man's haven. ... For me, CF was a must, because that one day at first caved in my knee and ruined an entire season of hitting. I wanted to retire at the end of the year, but I was persuaded to stay on another season.

Here's what happened: I was swinging as well as ever, I thought, but all of a sudden every­thing would pop up ... I finally realized that every time I swung, that left knee would buckle and I'd hit under the pitch. Yes, that one day at first helped start me toward the end of my career.
Know the Rules!

Here are some interesting situations created by the rules of the game – or ignorance of those rules.

  • On July 11, 1919, Bill Rariden, C for the Cincinnati Reds, hit a strange HR in the first inning of a game at Braves Field in Boston. The scoreboard boy had neglected to close one of the inning openings where a number would be placed later. Rariden's hit rolled through that opening. According to the rules in force at the time, the batter could continue to run until the ball was retrieved or he reached home plate. If the same situation happened today, the batter would be awarded only a ground rule double.
Braves Field
Braves Field, Boston
  • In a 1934 game between the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers, a Braves batter singled. When Dodger C Ray Berres received the ball, he tossed it to 1B Johnny McCarthy. "Throw it out, John. It's wet." McCarthy obliged, tossing the ball into the dugout. The only problem was that Berres had forgotten to ask for time. So the umpires advanced the runner two bases because the live ball went into the dugout.
  • When Eddie Stanky managed the White Sox (1966-8), he taught his 3B, Pete Ward, to pull a neat trick. When an opponent attempted to score from second on a hit, Ward would move into the path of the runner, then step aside just before the runner reached him. Even though there was no contact, the runner would break stride just enough to give the Chicago OFs a chance to nail him at home. The umps finally caught on to Ward's ploy and called him for obstruction several times until Stanky pulled the plug on the caper.

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi

Earl Weaver
Earl Weaver

Orioles OF John Lowenstein
John Lowenstein
Shield Your Eyes, Dear

Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles was one of the first managers to rely hea­vily on statistics when making decisions during games. From 1977-82, the team statis­tician, Charles Steinberg, prepared index cards for Earl to refer to during contests.

A particularly effective use of Steinberg's work occurred during the first game of the 1979 ALCS against the Angels. John Montague was warming up in the bullpen in the bottom of the tenth with the scored tied 3-3. Since the right-handed reliever had been acquired from Seattle late in the season, Earl didn't have a card for him. So he called Steinberg in the press box and asked him to look up Montague's stats. Wea­ver sent his daughter, a stadium attendant, to get the card from Steinberg. She hurried downstairs through the Orioles' clubhouse past a naked Jim Palmer (she shielded her eyes) to give the card to her father. Seeing that John Lowenstein owned Montague, Earl sent Lowenstein to pinch hit. John re­sponded with a 3-run walk-off homer.

Steinberg was not your usual statistician. He began working for the Orioles in high school. He earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland dental school in 1984 and served as the Orioles' dentist while continuing to work in the front office. A Renaissance man, he created the club's first video production department and first customer service department. Steinberg won an Emmy Award for his television pro­duction of the story of the 1998 NL champion Padres, and a Telly Award for his video on the 1989 Orioles. He also appeared in "Fever Pitch," a fictional movie that fea­tured the 2004 Red Sox winning their first World Series title in 86 years.

In November 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers hired Steinberg as their chief marke­ting officer, undoubtedly making him the first dentist to ever hold that position for a major league team.
Batting Order Oddities
  • In the 1930s, manager Casey Stengel polled Brooklyn Dodgers fans to come up with his lineup.
  • With the 1972 Detroit Tigers in a slump, Billy Martin pulled names out of a hat to determine his batting order for Game One of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. His random lineup won 3-2. He went back to his usual lineup in the nightcap and lost 9-2.
  • On May 3, 1989, Red Sox manager Joe Morgan filled out his lineup card thinking that the White Sox starter, Shawn Hillegas, was a southpaw. Boston broadcaster Joe Castiglione asked Morgan just before they taped the pregame show why right-handed hitting C Rick Cerone was playing instead of lefty Rich Gedman. Morgan replied that Hillegas was a lefty. When informed that he was indeed a RHP, Joe replied, "Uh oh, I ****ed up." Cerone made Morgan look like a genius by hitting a 3-run HR off Hillegas to win the game.
  • In 2003, Arizona manager Bob Brenly used 140 different lineups in the first 155 games. His tinkering didn't help much as the Diamondbacks finished 16 1/2 games out of first.

Reference: "Between the Lines," Steve Wulf, ESPN the Magazine

Billy Martin
Billy Martin

Joe Morgan
Joe Morgan
Historic Day at the Polo Grounds
Giants 1B Fred Merkle
Fred Merkle
The 12,000 fans who attended the Saturday, May 13, 1911 game between the New York Giants and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals at the Polo Grounds saw their hometown heroes set two records that stand to this day.
  • The Giants tallied a record 10 runs in the bottom of the first before the first out was recorded. New York scored a total of 13 in the inning with six knocked in by 1B Fred Merkle.
  • With the Giants so far in front, manager John McGraw replaced his ace Christy Mathewson in the top of the second with Rube Marquard. Rube proceeded to strike out 14 men in eight innings, which is a record for relievers. Under the scoring rules of the day, Christy still got credit for the win since starters did not have to pitch a minimum of five innings to record the victory.
Reference: Baseball Bits, Dan Schlossberg
Rube Marquard
Rube Marquard
In LF, What's His Name
Mets Manager Casey Stengel on Cover of SI
Casey Stengel was famous for butchering the English language. One of his meandering soliloquies occurred during spring training of 1962, the first year of the expan­sion New York Mets, when Casey was asked about his lineup. After he revealed the names of some of his starters, he continued:

And in LF we have a splendid man, and he knows how to do it. He's been around, and he swings the bat there in LF, and he knows what to do. He's got a big family, and he wants to provide for them, and he's a fine outstanding player, the fella in left field. You can be sure he'll be ready when the bell rings and that's his name, Bell.

It obviously took Casey awhile to remember the name of Gus Bell, who had just finished nine solid years with the Cincinnati Reds. And his "big family" included son Buddy, who played in the majors from 1972-1989, mostly at 3B, and has managed three different clubs. Also Buddy's son David played IF with several teams from 1995-2006, and another son, Mike, played briefly with Cincinnati in 2000.
Mets OF Gus Bell
Gus Bell