Odd Baseball Facts Archive – I
Fours Are Wild
Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career HR record April 8, 1974. Hammerin' Hank did it on the fourth pitch of the fourth inning in the fourth game of the fourth month in a year divisible by four. Furthermore, Aaron wore uniform #44 as did Al Downing, the Dodgers P who served up the historic clout. Hank won the HR title in four seasons and four times hit 44 HRs. One season he tied for the league lead with Willie McCovey. Willie’s uniform number? You got it. 44.
Non-K King

Joe Sewell fanned twice in the same game in 1930. He struck out once the rest of the season. Altogether, he batted 353 times that year.

  • Sewell fanned only 114 times in 14 seasons and 7,132 at bats. That's an average of only one whiff for every 63 plate trips.
  • During his peak years in the mid-1920s, he was also the best fielding SS in the game.
  • He played for the Cleveland Indians from 1920-30 and the New York Yankees from 1931-3.
Joe Sewell
Joe Sewell
Ross Youngs
Ross Youngs

Four Inside-the-Parkers

On April 29, 1922, the New York Giants hit four inside-the-park HRs in windswept Braves Field in a 15-4 win over Boston. George Kelly hit two of the homers while Ross Youngs and Dave Bancroft had one each.
  • NY smacked 20 hits in support of P Phil Douglas.
  • 7,500 attended on a Saturday afternoon.
  • The dimensions at Braves Field at the time were 402 ft. (left), 550 ft. (center), and 402 ft. (right).
  • The Giants won the World Series that year over the New York Yankees for the second straight year.

George Kelly, New York Giants
George Kelly

Cleveland 1B Luke Easter
Luke Easter

Braves1B Joe Adcock
Joe Adcock

CF HRs at Polo Grounds

The fourth and last incarnation of the Polo Grounds was the home of the New York Giants (1911-57), the New York Yankees (1913-1922), and the New York Mets (1962-3). The park was famous for its gargantuan distance to CF, which ranged from 433' when it first opened, to 475'–505' at various times in its long existence.

Polo Grounds 1940
Polo Grounds

Only four HRs were ever hit over the CF wall in the Polo Grounds. And two of those occurred on back to back dates in 1962! The culprits were two future Hall-of-Fame OFs.

  • June 17, 1962: Lou Brock of the Chicago Cubs
  • June 18, 1962: Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves

The other two clouts were hit by first basemen: Luke Easter in a Negro League game in 1948 and Joe Adcock of the Milwaukee Braves in 1953.

Cubs OF Lou Brock

Hank Aaron 1962
Hank Aaron

Bob Lemon
Bob Lemon

Clyde King

Yankees' Chaotic '82

1982 was a tumultuous year for the New York Yankees. George Steinbrenner's team used five pitching coaches, four hitting coaches, and three managers that season.


  • Bob Lemon, who finished the strike-shortened 1981 season by leading the Yanks to the AL pennant, went 6-8.
  • Gene Michael went 44-42.
  • Clyde King, who had been one of the pitching coaches, finished 29-33.
The combined 79-83 record put New York fifth in the AL East.

Pitching coaches

  • Jeff Torborg and Jerry Walker began as co-pitching coaches.
  • Following them (one at a time) were Stan Williams, King, and Sammy Ellis.

Hitting coaches

  • Mickey Vernon
  • Joe Pepitone
  • Yogi Berra
  • Lou Piniella

George Steinbrenner
George Steinbrenner

Yankees GM Gene MichaelGene Michael

Braves C Joe Torre
Joe Torre

Atlanta Bookends

Two players were involved in both the opening and closing games at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.

  • P Tony Cloninger and C Joe Torre were the Atlanta battery when the Braves, newly moved from Milwaukee, opened the 1966 season in Fulton County Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12 before 50,671. Cloninger pitched all nine innings but lost 3-2. Torre was 2-4 and accounted for both Braves runs with a two-run HR.
  • The final game in Fulton County was Game 5 of the 1996 World Series. Torre was the manager of the Yankees with Cloninger was his bullpen coach. New York won 1-0 to take a 3-2 lead in the Series, which they clinched in six. The following season the Braves moved to Turner Field.

Tony Cloninger
Tony Cloninger

Snuffy Stirnweiss
Snuffy Stirnweiss

WWII Slugger

George (Snuffy) Stirnweiss of the Yankees hit 10 HRs in 1945 against the depleted pitching staffs of the AL during that last year of World War II. It then took Snuffy seven years to get 10 more round-trippers.

  • Stirnweiss hit .319 in 1944 and .309 in 1945. The latter figure topped the league. He also led the AL in runs, hits, and triples both seasons.
  • In 1945, the 175-pound 2B also led the league in slugging percentage and on-base percentage, the latter figure having been calculated retroactively since it was not yet invented for many years.
  • Snuffy never hit more than .261 in any subsequent year. He retired after the 1953 season.

Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio

Salary Comparison

Joe DiMaggio's salary for his entire 13-year Hall of Fame career was $704,769. This was less than Mike Piazza earned for any 100 of his at-bats for the New York Mets in 1999.

  • DiMaggio played his rookie season of 1936 for $8,500. His last three seasons (1949-51) he earned $100,000 each year.
  • Piazza made a little over $7 million in 1999.

Mets C Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza

Leader on All Inside-the-Park HRs

Ty Cobb won the 1909 American League home run crown with nine round-trippers. All nine were inside-the-park.

In 24 seasons, most of them in the "Dead Ball Era" (pre-1920), the Georgia Peach hit 117 HR. The most he hit in any one season was 12 in both 1921 and 1925.

Ty Cobb, Tigers
Ty Cobb

Standing O for Dr. Strangeglove

Dick Stuart was called "Dr. Strangeglove" during his major league career. He was so famous for his poor fielding that once, in a game at Pittsburgh, he was given a standing ovation when a hot dog wrapper blew toward him at 1B, and he grabbed it out of the air.

Known as a power hitter who struck out almost as many times (957) and he got hits (1,055), Stuart committed 169 errors in his ten seasons in the bigs for an average of 17 per year, an extraordinary number for a 1B. In 1963-4, he committed 43 errors for the Red Sox.

He stuck around because of his bat. In 1961, he drove in 117 for Pittsburgh. Then he led the AL with 118 RBI and 319 total bases in 1963. (He also led in grounding into DPs with 24.) He hit 75 HRs in his two seasons with Boston and retired with 228 four-baggers.

Still it's his poor fielding that is remembered most. When the public-address announcer told the spectators before a spring training game, "Anyone who interferes with the ball in play will be ejected from the ballpark," Danny Murtaugh, the Pirates' manager, said, "I hope Stuart doesn't think it means him."

Pirates 1B Dick Stuart