Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012 Answer Notes

Q.         Who was the first player to hit a grand slam in his first home game as a Yankee?
Hint:     He set the Major League record for the most consecutive games played at the start of a career.
Hint:     The streak was ended by an injury sustained in a game that didn’t count in the streak.
Hint:     He was nicknamed after a huge movie star of the 1950s and 1960s.
Hint:     For most of his career he wore a number in honour of professional baseball’s all-time home run king.
Twint:    He announced his retirement just this past weekend.
A.         Hideki Matsui (David’s research notes on all answers will be given at the end of the week, but will also appear during the week on the Horsehide Trivia blog page. They’re extensive and impressive.  We will also retain the order of questions as he submitted them whether or not they follow our typical increasing-difficulty format.)
FCR -    Arieh Siegel, Austin, TX


Matsui was signed by the Yankees in December 2002 after playing ten seasons in Japan.  The Bombers started 2003 with a six-game road trip through Toronto and Tampa before Matsui made his Yankee Stadium debut on 08-Apr.  After a ground out and a walk he batted in the fifth inning.  An intentional walk to Bernie Williams that loaded the bases with one away proved unsuccessful when Matsui homered to right on a 3-2 pitch from Joe Mays for his first Major League home run, a grand slam that gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead.  The second paragraph of this story confirms Matsui as the first Yankee to hit a salami in his home debut: 

He set the Major League record for the most consecutive games played at the start of a career.

Matsui played in 518 straight games to start his major league career.  This set a record, confirmed in the attached report from SABR’s Baseball Records Committee.  It is the 13th item in the list of Regular Season Batting Records Set in 2006:

The streak was ended by an injury sustained in a game that didn’t count in the streak.  The rules for these streaks are listed at this site under “Determining player performance streaks":      “A consecutive-game playing streak shall be extended if the player plays one half-inning on defense or if he completes a time at bat by reaching base or being put out. A pinch-running appearance only shall not extend the streak. If an umpire ejects a player from a game before he can comply with the requirements of this rule [10.23(c)], his streak shall continue.”

On 11-May-2006, after Kevin Youkilis lead off the top of the first by reaching on an error, Mark Loretta blooped a ball to left and Matsui broke his wrist in an unsuccessful attempt to make the catch.  Since Matsui’s injury took him out of the game in the top of the first inning before three outs were recorded and before he came to bat this 519th game didn’t count in the streak.  Here is a recap of the game:

He was nicknamed after a huge movie star of the 1950’s and ‘60’s.  Matsui’s nickname is Godzilla. Godzilla first appeared in the movies in 1954 and he was pretty huge, ranging in stature from 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet). Here is the IMDb listing for Godzilla’s first movie:

Matsui’s player page on confirms his nickname:

As noted in the first paragraph of the following article, the nickname was given to Matsui because of skin problems he suffered as a child and not his own large stature:

The two Godzillas once shared the silver screen. Matsui had a cameo in 2002’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Gojira tai Makegojira).  Open the “Full Cast and Crew” link in this article to find him:

For most of his career he wore a number in honour of professional baseball’s all-time home run king.  “Matsui was given uniform number 55, highly symbolic in that it stood for the single-season home run record held by Sadaharu Oh, a mark that everyone fully expected Matsui to challenge one day.”  Robert Whiting, The Samurai Way of Baseball, (2004), p. 235.

Matsui wore 55 while playing in Japan then with the Yankees, Angels and Athletics.  When he joined Tampa in 2012, 55 was already taken by Matt Moore so he wore 35 instead.

Oh hit 868 regular season home runs in Japan, as confirmed in the second paragraph of this article:

This is generally considered to be the professional record although Josh Gibson is credited with “over 800” in the Negro Leagues.  This is noted in the second to last paragraph of this article:

Barry Bonds (762 regular season home runs, 9 in the post season and another 20 in the minor leagues for a total of 791) and Hank Aaron (755 regular season, 6 post season and 31 minor league for 792 total plus whatever he hit in his 3 months with Indianapolis in the Negro Leagues in 1952) are Oh’s closest competition for the professional record.

Q.         Who hit the second of the Yankees’ record breaking three grand slams 25-Aug-2011?
Hint:     He spent part of his childhood in Paris.
Hint:     He was named after a bebop legend.
Hint:     He honoured his mother on his jersey.
Twint:    He had a custom mouthpiece created to help stop his chewing tobacco habit.
A.         Russell Martin
FCR -    Blake Sherry, Dublin, OH


The Yankees set a record that day, becoming the first major league team to hit three grand slams in one game.  Robinson Cano hit the first one in the fifth inning off the As’ Rich Harden and Fautino de los Santos surrendered Martin’s in the sixth.  Curtis Granderson hit the team’s third in the eighth inning off Bruce Billings in a Yankees’ 22-7 victory.  Here is a recap of the game, with the second paragraph mentioning that this was the first time the feat had occurred:

Russell Martin went 5 for 5 with 2 HR and a double, driving in 6 and scoring 3.  The Yankees had 16 plate appearances with the bases loaded that day.  Besides the 3 home runs they hit 3 singles, had 2 walks and hit a sacrifice fly while making 7 other outs.  In total the Yankees had 21 hits, 13 walks and 1 hit batter. It was only the ninth game in the expansion era in which a team had 35 or more base runners in a nine inning game.  Here is the box score and play-by-play of the game:

The list of other games with 35 base runners can be found on’s Play Index, Team Batting Game Finder, searching for Times on Base without reaching on error and filtering for games with nine innings or less.

Martin lived in Paris from ages 8 to 10.

His full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin Jr., and his fourth name is in honour of saxophonist John Coltrane. His father Russell Sr. is a sax player. This, and his childhood in Paris, are mentioned in this article:

In 2009 he added the letter “J” to his jersey, J. Martin, in honour of his mother’s maiden name, Suzanne Jeanson.

Martin started wearing the mouthpiece at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. More information can be found here:

Q.         Who ended Ichiro Suzuki’s eleven-year streak of leading the Seattle Mariners in stolen bases?
Hint:     He’s known as “The Condor”.
Hint:     He has used a 60-ounce bat in batting practice.
Twint:    He was his team’s right fielder at the Beijing Olympics.
Twint:    This is a position he rarely plays in the majors.
A.         Michael Saunders
FCR -    Alan Work, White Plains, NY


Beginning with his first year in the American League in 2001, Ichiro lead the Mariners in steals outright nine times and tied for the team lead twice: with Mike Cameron in 2002 and Chone Figgins in 2010.  Ichiro had stolen 15 bases and was leading the team when he was traded to the Yankees on July 23, 2012 but Michael Saunders was right behind him with 14.  Saunders caught up by mid-August and ended the year with 21 stolen bases. No other Mariner stole more than 13. 

He’s known as “The Condor”.  Mariners’ play-by-play man Dave Sims gave Saunders the nickname.

Saunders used an extra-heavy bat during 2012 training camp to help speed up his swing. Here is a link to a video showing the bat in action:

Saunders played full games in right field in six of team Canada’s seven games in Beijing. In the other game he split time between right and center fields.  Here is his game-by-game record from Beijing:

Before Ichiro was traded to the Yankees Saunders had never played a major league game in right field.  Through 2012 he has played 173 games in center field, 150 in left and only 5 games in right field.  His first game in right field was on August 31, 2012, the 321st game of his career.  Saunders’ fielding records can be found on his Baseball-Reference player page.

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