Hello there. You know a fair amount about baseball. Well, this column, as a public service to those who don’t care if curiosity maimed the cat, presents a bunch of far out baseball circumstances that might convince you to go back and make sure you touched each of the bases as you jogged your way home after hitting one over the fence:
Just dah Facts mam, Just dah Facts: Joe Friday’s badge number 714 (from the great tv show Dragnet) is the same as the number of home runs Babe Ruth hit in his career.
LIghtning Strikes Twice: Richie Ashburn, hall of fame centerfielder with the Philadelphia Phillies, hit a foul ball which sadly plunked Alice Roth and broke her nose. It was August 17, 1957, a day of some notoriety because Richie then hit another foul ball which broke her knee. No I am NOT making this up. And so you know — since saber metrics may interest you: The odds of a fan being hit by a baseball at all are 300,000 to one. As to the same fan being hit two times during the same at bat, let alone fracturing a bone each time, that my good people is beyond calculation.
Money Money Money: The highest salary earned by the legendary Babe Ruth was $80,000. This was in 1930 and 1931. Today that would equal a little more than $11 million. Babe, you was robbed!
Heart Tug: Ok, you ready? There was a kid whose name was Tim Smith. He had a baseball card of Tug McGraw taped to his bedroom wall. Tug played for the Mets, remember? I don’t know quite how this transpired, but the kid, Tim, found his birth certificate and discovered that Tug McGraw was (I should say is) his dad. Naturally the kid changed his last name and became a country music superstar, Tim McGraw. Well pluck my strings!
Winner, Loser!: Bobby Richardson, wow, what a stick of dynamite. Mighty Mouse, some would call him. He was the clear MVP of the 1960 World Series! After all he hit 367 and had 12 RBIs… Except, he played for the losing team. Doh!
To Err is Human: His name is Dick Stuart. He played first base for the Pirates. He managed to lead the lead in errors for seven years in a row, 1958 to 1964. In fact, one night Mr. Stuart claimed to have received a standing ovation from some 30,000 fans just for successfully nabbing a hot dog wrapper on the fly… Not ashamed of his prowess, his license plate was “E3”. To this day Dick’s 29 errors at first base (“accomplished” in 1963) remains the major league record for that position. Oh the 15 minutes of fame!
The Dirty Trooth: Those MLB baseballs we hope to nab at the game… every one is rubbed in Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud. Hey, don’t look at me!? It’s a very fine mud only found in a location near Palmyra, New Jersey, but the location is secret… Indiana Jones where are ye?
One time baby!: Hoyt Wilhelm who got his start at the ripe young age of 29, the notorious and very effective knuckleballer, 20 plus years in the bigs, 493 plate appearances… hit a home run his very time up at bat. And that was the last dinger he ever hit. Knuckleball… not nyuk nyuk nyuk ball… knuckleball.
Boomerang: Giancarlo Stanton is quite the guy. Did you know he was hit by his own home run? It was in Boston. G smashed it over the Green Monster. While Mr. Stanton was triumphantly rounding second, a disgruntled fan threw the ball back onto the field and it hit Giancarlo. Not shocking that thought was given to signing up the fan… Or arresting him, I’m not sure which.
Moonie: Gaylord Perry could pitch, oh yeah, but hitting, well, not so much… Seven seasons, more than 300 at bats, not one homer. Giants’ manager Alvin Dark kidded “They’ll put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run!” On July 20, 1969, just a mere minutes after Neil Armstrong placed his foot on the moon, Gaylord hit his first major league home run.
Brotherly Love: Wait a second… in 1976, Joe Niekro, another well known and excellent knuckleballer, hit his one and only dinger. The guy who was pitching to him? His brother Phil, also a knuckleballer. Hmmm…..
Better than the Average Bear!: So Yogi Bear was inspired by Yogi Berra… But how did Yogi, the ball player, get the name Yogi in the first place? He used to sit cross-legged in the on-deck circle. One of his buddies started referring to him as Yogi, and that’s how it came to be. And so it is… and so it shall be…
Fashion plate: 1849 is the year the first baseball uniforms were worn, by the Knickerbockers. But did you know they included straw hats?
Orbital: Now, for that cocktail party chatter… A curveball thrown on Mars will turn into a screwball. The batter will absolutely love it, because if he connects, the ball will travel almost three times as far as here!
Isn’t it great to know so much?