Friday, August 31, 2007

Put me in coach, I'm ready to play...

Thanks to John Fogerty for the lyric.

Saturday is my husband's 36th birthday. To celebrate, and because I'm feeling lazy, I had him write this week's Friday Five. My husband is the world's biggest baseball nerd, and that's okay. I'd much rather have him out at the ball park chasing pop flies than down at the bar chasing tail. He has an incredible head for baseball stats and facts. So I thought, why not give him a forum? For those of you who hate baseball, well, that's just tough. This one is for my husband. I've added Wiki links, just in case you need to check something.

Five Random and Somewhat Obscure Baseball Facts

1. The first baseball player to hit more than 20 home runs in a season. Babe Ruth? Nope. Ned Williamson. Yes, THE Ned Williamson. Who?

Ned Williamson, Chicago White Stockings, 1884, hit 27 home runs, which is a ton for the dead-ball era (when baseballs weren't wound as tightly as they were starting in 1920, and when one baseball was generally used for an entire game). So why so many homers? Perhaps because the Stockings played in a virtual Little League park...the distance to the fences were between 185 and 190 feet to the foul lines and 300 feet to center field. The MINIMUM allowable distance down the foul lines these days is roughly 315 feet.

Also, a teeny little rules change helped Ned. Prior to 1884, any ball hit over the fence was counted as a double. The rule was changed to make it a home run because 1884 was also the year that pitchers were allowed to throw overhand for the first time.

2. The oldest player in Major League Baseball history....Satchell Paige, pitcher, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. His best years were spent in the Negro Leagues, when black players were banned from Major League Baseball. He made his Major League debut in 1948 at the age of 41....maybe. You see, Satchell doesn't actually know when he was born, and there is good evidence he was 46 or 47 in 1948. So while he was officially 58 when he made his final big league start in 1965, he may very well have been in his early 60's.

Even more amazing, in that last game, Paige pitched three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics against the Boston Red Sox. The last player ever to get a hit off Satchell was another Hall-of-Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, who four years earlier made his Major League debut....against the Kansas City Athletics.

3. Only one player played for my team, the Braves, in all three cities in which they have been located; Boston (1876-1952), Milwaukee (1953-1965), and Atlanta (1966-present). That player was Hall-of-Fame third baseman Eddie Mathews (yes, only one 't'). Best known as Hank Aaron's teammate now, but was probably a better hitter than Hank in the 1950's, and he played a tougher defensive position (third base vs. left field for The Hammer). Unlike Hank, Eddie only had a couple decent seasons after he turned 30 years old, whereas Hank was either great, or at least very good, until he turned 40.

(yes, I know this is too dang long, sorry... not a blog pro like the Mrs.)

4. The first player since 1900 to lead each league in home runs, as in he led the American League one season then led the National League later in his career. Not even the biggest baseball fan usually gets this one.....nope, not McGwire (AKA Muscles Marinara)...

Fred McGriff, who led the American League with 36 homers while playing for Jen's Toronto Blue Jays in 1989, then led the National League in 1992, hitting 35 homers for the San Diego Padres. Muscles first led the AL in his rookie year of 1987 with Oakland, then after discovering chemistry, led the NL with his then-record 70 dingers in 1998 with the Cardinals.

5. The last legal spitball thrown in Major League Baseball was sometime in September of 1934. The spitter and other doctored pitches were banned in 1920, but baseball allowed 17 pitchers to continue using it via a grandfather clause. MLB allowed teams to designate pitchers who threw mostly spitters and, theoretically, who would have been useless had they not been allowed to throw spitters. The last legal spitball was thrown by Burleigh Grimes, a Hall-of-Famer who (I think) really shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame...he was good, not great. Not sure of the exact date of his last game, but Grimes' last win came as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sept. 10, 1934, against the New York Giants.

Okay, y'all. That's the Friday Five. It's not particularly user friendly, but feel free to share equally random facts about your favourite sport in the comment section. Don't have a favourite sport? Use your favourite hobby. No hobbies? Get a life.


Gurnal said...

Hey Dude..

I won't try to do any facts off the top of my head. I'll simply throw down some stupud sports quotes I saw in a book called "The Lexicon of Stupidity"

"Better teams win more often than the teams that are not so good."
--Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Tom Watt

"Defensively, it's important for us to tackle"
--former Denver Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg

"You have to have a catcher because, if you don't, the pitch will roll all the way back to the screen."
--Yankees grest Casey Stengel

"When it's going, it just kind of goes, and when it's not going, it kind of stops."
--Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren

And finally one from golf..

Reporter: "What do you think about Tiger Woods?"

Golfer Sandy Lyle: "I don't know. I've never played there."

(Must have been long before the 13 majors)

Oh well...

Dumdad said...

Baseball? That's just not cricket, Mr. Jen!

So here's some cricket facts:

There are 10 ways a batsman can be declared "out" in cricket:

1. Caught
2. Bowled
3. Leg Before Wicket
4. Hit Wicket
5. Timed Out
6. Handling the ball
7. Obstructing the field
8. Hit the ball twice
9. Run Out
10. Stumped

Howzat? said...

Your Friday Five was great. Of course, being from Boston I am a bit of basball (read:Red Sox) fantatic also.

Here's one for you. Last week, Mariano RIvera saved his 49th game for Andy Petite. The only other reliever/starting pitcher with more is Dennis Eckersley and Bob Welch when they were both with the Oakland A's. Eck had 55 saves for Welch and the A's.

Happy Birthday to you.

bellevelma said...

My favorite sports to watch, lacrosse and football. Favorite sport to do, running and power napping.

Happy Birthday!

my two cents said...

I am trying to get my husband to read your husband's blog since he, too, is an incurable baseball fanatic. I worked as an usher for the Phillies during the 1986 season--they came in second place, 24 games behind the Mets that year. It was fun.

My husband and I took in quite a few baseball games before kids. A few highlights include the second game of the 1988 World Series; seeing Don Sutton and Steve Carlton pitch against each other when they were both 300-game winners; watching Dwight Gooden pitch in the early days; and hearing Carl Erskine play the Star Spangled Banner on the Harmonica before a Dodgers game--best rendition I've ever heard. We've taken in some minor league games that were a lot of fun, too. Nothing compares to the Little League and Pony League games our son has played, though!

Code word: blkhk--hope this isn't the way Jen is feeling today!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I like the husband aspect of this post a lot. Is this the plan now? Every time he gets you pregnant you let him write something? Or is this our little code for the fact that you're praying to the Porcelain Buddha?

I used to love baseball and was a huge Detroit Tigers fan. Have a Mark "The Bird" Fidrych (sp??) autograph somewhere to prove it. Went to quite a lot of Dodger games but they were always the wrong league, no matter how you looked at it. (sorry, my two cents!)

This was fun. Thanks Ray!

what the hell is this - pqqeerkx? Are they running out of codes?

auntie barbie said...

It's good to hear from the hubby. I enjoyed the post, as will the uncle. I don't have any interesting sports facts, but I do have some stories about the spring I shared the same hotel with the 79 Yankees team. Ask me next time I see ya.
Happy Birthday!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Hmmm, I've never seen a baseball match, so I'm going with a funny cricket quote that made me giggle.

Commentator, Brian Jonstone: "The batsman's Holding, the bowlers Willy."


Happy Birthday Ray.

Mya said...

Happy Birthday Ray!

You're not a nerd, you're an enthusiast!
I played softball as a child in Oz - I suppose that's a bit like baseball. In Britain they play rounders (smaller bat and no mitts.) British people tend to get incredibly nerdy about cricket (not me, personally) - there's a book published every year called Wisden's Almanac (or something) that lists all the stats of the previous season. I'm sure they have a baseball equivalent - and if not, perhaps you should write one!

Mya x

Diana said...

I've not a damn thing to add as I can't remember trivia to save my life, but I loved reading this.

Hope you're feeling OK, Jen.

my two cents said...

Hi Jen,

Hope you are feeling ok.


Willowtree said...

What's the difference between Obstruction and Interference?

Jen said...

Hey guys, thanks for the nice birthday greetings for my husband!

I really am feeling okay, I've got a cold to add to my morning sickness on which I'll write a little treatise about on Monday.

Willowtree My husband wants to know which kind of interference you're talking about. Here he is:

I'm guessing you're referring to baserunners and infielders, though there is also catcher's interference, where a batter is awarded first base if his/her bat comes in contact with the catcher's mitt during their swing.

Okay, Ray off! I'll be back Monday guys, really.

Sam said...

I forgot to tell you when I saw you today that you should have seen his face light up when he was talking to Lou Brisee on Friday. It was like Jesus on the mount when he talked to him and when Lou mentioned that he played against Babe Ruth, Ray almost swooned!

Willowtree said...

Ah ha! Good point! Catcher's interference is the exception (and I didn't intend it to be included because it's always called catcher's interference rather than just interference).

But in all other cases obstruction is called against the defence, and interference is called against the offence.

Speaking of offence and defence, baseball, softball and cricket are possible the only games where the defense has charge of the ball.

Ok, here's one, how do you get two outs without a double play

Jen said...

This is hilarious. My husband gets more comments than I do. Sweet.

Peter, why don't you just e-mail the man and continue your converstation? LOL Shoot me an e-mail and I'll give you his.

Ray said...

Hi Peter. Very perceptive on the obstruction rule. Obstruction is mainly only called on infielders who are not in possession of the ball and get in the way of baserunners. Drives me crazy when baseball broadcasters call that interference.

Interference is one of those great rules that can be called on just about anyone...catchers, umpires, fans, the beer man (or beer woman).

Two outs on one play without a double play. First thing that comes to the top of my head is when a batter strikes out (with fewer than two outs in an inning) and a runner is then immediately thrown out trying to steal a base. Some announcers call that a double play, but it isn't.

My turn: true or false, a pitcher can strike out only three batters in one inning.

my two cents said...

Hi Ray,

False. If first base is unoccupied and a batter strikes out and the catcher drops the ball, the batter can run to first base. If the batter reaches first before being tagged out by the catcher or thrown out at first the batter is safe, but the strike-out is recorded for the picther, and then the pitcher can go on to strike out the rest of the side, or as many batters as there are outs left, or as many batters as the catcher can't hang on to the ball for. In that case, I'd be changing catchers pretty quickly though. Fun question! On an aside, the league my son played Pony in always had the fall ball teams named after minor league teams. I don't remember them all, but the Sand Gnats and Lookouts were among them!

my two cents said...

p.s. I love the song Centerfield and we once sat behind John Fogarty at a Dodgers game.

jillian said...

I'm a day late, but Happy Birthday, Ray! Hope you got all the stuff you wanted on your special day... us end of August/early September birthday people rock. Even IF their posts on their wives' blog pages are a little nerdy - but nerdy in a good way! :)

I don't have so many things as interesting facts... but here are a few "words" that are used in every-day conversation that infuriate the bejeepers out of me. (And no - bejeepers isn't one of them... I can't write the actual word I wanted to write on Jen's blog!)

1) orientated (or dis-orientated). ORIENTATED IS NOT A WORD PEOPLE! Look it up. Seriously. Oriented, sure. Dis-oriented, absolutely. Not disorientated. I was so frustrated when I read it in Harry Potter. Shame on you, J.K. Rowling!

2) irregardless. Hm.. Doesn't regardless mean without regard? Doesn't putting the pre-fix IR in front of a word turn that word into a negative? So - in essence, the word irregardless (despite it NOT being in the dictionary) would mean regard, since two negatives cancel each other out to make a positive.

3) axe. As in... Let me AXE you a question. It's not AXE, people - it's ASK. What would you DO with that axe... where would you put it?

Well, I've vented sufficiently for the day I think. I'm sure that I'll be able to find more words that are in every day english that make me nuts (er) than I already am.

BTW all - 27 days to Jen's b-day!

willowtree said...

Some announcer may call it a double play, I'd calling misreading the sign.

Anyway, I was think of a runner being hit by an infield fly.