Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018-12-17 "Season's Greetings" - From the Hall of Fame Christmas card

Q.        Who was the first (and for a long time, only) American League switch-hitter to win a batting title?
Hint:     He had numerous regrets, but always said his greatest one was that he didn’t hit .300 for his career.
Hint:     Nobody has hit more career World Series home runs.
A.         MICKEY MANTLE  [SABR Bio]
-  Hit .353 in 1956—his Triple Crown year and his only batting title even though he hit .365 the next season.  Since then Willie Wilson (.332 in 1982), Bernie Williams (.339 in 1998) and Bill Mueller (.326 in 2003) are the only others.
-  Ended his brilliant 18-year career at .298.
-  18 WS HR.  Babe Ruth is 2nd w/15; Yogi 3rd w/12.
FCR -  Eugene Schwartz, Weston, Connecticut
Incorrect guesses:  Reggie Jackson

Q.        Who was the third outfielder from an expansion team to win an MVP?
Hint:     His brother played seven years in the majors, but they were never teammates.
Hint:     He had 25-home-run seasons for each of two major league teams in a city with large body parts.
A.         GEORGE BELL
-  AL MVP for TOR in 1987; 1st OF MVP from an expansion team = Jeff Boroughs for TEX in 1974; Don Baylor for CAL in 1979.
-  Brother = Juan Bell played for 5 teams, but none in Toronto or Chicago.  They did play against each other twice in 1993:  15-Jul & 16-Jul.
-  25 HR for CHC in 1991; 25 HR for CHW in 1992.  Chicago is sometimes called the “City with (or ‘of the’) Big Shoulders”, cited in Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago”.
FCR -  Jerry Miller, Liberty Hill, Texas
Incorrect guesses:  Andre Dawson Juan Gonzalez, ,Vladimir Guererro

Q.        Who was the first player to exceed 20 home runs, but bat under .200 in the same season?
Hint:     Not surprisingly, he led the majors in strikeouts, but with a total that would have only been tied for 5th in 2018.
Hint:     He is the all-time TTO leader
A.         ROB DEER
-  In 1991 w/DET, Deer hit .179 while hitting 25 HR
-  His 178 K’s that year seem almost quaint by today’s standards
-  Three True Outcomes explained here=> TTO (Turns out he’s been passed by Adam Dunn as career TTO leader.)
FCR -  Robert Osman, Great Neck, New York
Incorrect guesses:  Gorman Thomas, Willie Kirkland (almost), Mark Reynolds, Mark McGwire, Ryan Howard, Dave Kingman, Adam Dunn, Dave Nicholson, Joey Gallo

Q.        Whose home runs and spontaneous cartwheels in the women’s professional baseball league of the 1940s helped to earn her the nickname “All the Way”?
Hint:     She was the inspiration for the character played by Madonna in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own.
Hint:     She was the first in the league to hit two homers in one game.
Hint:     She stole 108 bases in 1948.
Hint:     Her fiancé died in World War II and she never married.
A.         FAYE DANCER  [Wiki Bio]
-  All six teams of the league shown here.
FCR -  Bill Carle, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Incorrect guesses:  Mae Mirabito, Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis, Penny Marshall, Jim Piersall,
N.B.  We note and mourn the amazing coincidence of the passing of Penny Marshall.  This question was written considerably before we were aware.

Q.        Whose major league record for saves in a season, since saves became an official stat, did the Tigers’ John Hiller break the only year he led the league in that category?
Hint:     For his efforts, he (not Hiller) was named The Sporting News “Fireman of the Year”.
Hint:     Although he moved with his team once, he became an important cog with another outfit.
A.         CLAY CARROLL  [SABR Bio]
-  Carroll had 37 S in 1972.  Hiller had 38 in 1973.  Neither would have even as many as half that many for the rest of their 15-season careers.
-  Hiller won the award in 1973.
-  Moved with the Braves from MLN to ATL in 1966.
-  Was an important piece of the Big Red Machine 1968-75.
FCR -  Mike Caragliano, Flushing, New York
Incorrect guesses:  Mike Marshall, Sparky Lyle, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Page, Ron Perranoski, Wayne Granger, Jack Aker, Willie Hernandez

Q.        What thrice-drafted righty finally signed and was voted Pitcher of the Year in the Texas League?
Hint:     He later became the player who signed the first ten-year major league contract after the advent of free agency.
Hint:     With his new team, though, he promptly led the league in losses.
Hint:     He was release after 5 seasons, and the team still honored the financial terms of his contract.
-  Was drafted by PIT in the 5th round of the 1968 MLB June Amateur Draft out of high school.  Then by STL in the 1st round of the 1969 MLB January Draft-Secondary Phase from community college.  Finally by BAL in the 1st round of the 1969 MLB June Draft-Secondary Phase from the same community college.  Was POY with the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs in 1971.
-  Signed a $2.3 million 10-year contract @ age 25 after his 4th and only winning season w/BAL.
-  13-19 in 1977
-  They paid him $210,000 per year 1982-86.
FCR -  Vince Guerrieri, Elyria, Ohio
Incorrect guesses:  Dave McNally, Andy Messersmith, Ross Grimsley, Chan Ho Park

Q.        What rookie played some promising outfield for the Rockies in 2018?
Hint:     Speed is his specialty, but not quite enough to prevent him from playing for
Hint:     He has been an Isotope, a Quake (not Quaker), a Yard Goat, an Indian and a Shark.
Hint:     He already has stats posted for 2019. [??]
A.         NOEL CUEVAS
-  Had SB totals of 15, 35, 38, 31.  Has shown he could steal.  Only twice were his CS numbers in double figures.
-  Albuquerque Isotopes in 2016-18; the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 201113; the Hartford Yard Goats in 2016; los Indios [Indians] de Mayaguez in 2013-15, 18; y tambien los Tiburones [sharks] de Aguadilla in 2016-17.
-  His winter league stats from the Puerto Rican Winter League are already in baseball-reference.
FCR -  Phillip Ross, Denver
Incorrect guesses:  David Dahl

Q.        What Hall of Fame pitcher holds the career record for fewest bases-on-balls per nine innings pitched?
Hint:     He, according to baseball lore (and his descendants), originated the curveball.
Hint:     He had only six seasons in the majors and receives zero (0!) votes the first time he was on the ballot, but three years later was put in by the Veterans Committee.
-  His amazing total career average of 0.4731 walks per nine inning sits atop the list.
-  Cummings is in the Hall for (IMHO) for no other reason than this putative claim.  Recent research has revealed that  A.) He may not have been the first and B.) Lobbying by his family contributed considerably to his reputation.
-  No votes in 1936; elected and inducted in 1939.
FCR -  Maureen Walsh, Tallahassee
Incorrect guesses:  Greg Maddux, Addie Joss, Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown, Al Spalding

Q.        What player called “Big Daddy” had a season where he led his league in hits, doubles, runs-batted-in, batting average and led the majors in total bases and WAS NOT voted his league’s MVP that year?
Hint:     He made the “Top 100 Highest-Paid Athletes” in Forbes Magazine.
Hint:     Among active players, only Yadier Molina has played more postseason games.
-  Was bested by Jimmie Rollins of PHI for MVP in 2007.
-  Forbes article in 2014, he was #99, but dropped off the list the next year..
-  77 postseason games, tied w/Albert Pujols, both behind Molina’s 89.
FCR -  Mike Rainey, South Jordan, Utah
Incorrect guesses:  David Ortiz, Cecil Fielder, Vlad Guerrero Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Lorenzo Cain, Leon Wagner

Q.        Who was part of the staff of pitchers to led his underdog team to a World Series championship upset, sweeping a powerful opponent in 4 games?
Hint:     They won 2 games apiece in the Series, beating a staff with 3 Hall of Fame pitchers, including one who would win his 300th game shortly thereafter.
Hint:     He tied his teammate moundsman with 26 pitching victories and were the team’s top 2 in WAR that season.
Hint:     A few years later, he sat down on the mound during a game to protest an umpire's call, earning himself an ejection.
Hint:     After his 13-year major league pitching career, he owned a minor league team, was partner in a mortuary, ran the concessions at Yankee Stadium and returned to his college alma mater to coach freshman baseball.
A.         DICK RUDOLPH..[SABR Bio]
-  Rudolph and teammate Bill James each had 26 wins during the regular 1914 season for the Miracle Braves.
-  James’s WAR = 8.6; Rudolph’s 6.4
-  Sit-down ejection 06-Jul-1918
-  Coached at Fordham University in New York
FCR -  Mike Sparks, Sarasota
Incorrect guesses:  Dave McNally, Lefty Tyler. Bill James, Dizzy Dean, Paul Dean, Jim Palmer, Ed Walsh, Rube Marquard, Sal Maglie

Q.        Who was the first first baseman to earn a Gold Glove for two different National League teams?
Hint:     He was the first National League batter to achieve 200 career home runs who ha hit a home run in his first at-bat.
Hint:     He had other, more important firsts too.
Hint:     He wasn’t, however, the first to be replaced at his position by a Hall of Famer when he entered military service.
A.         BILL WHITE  [SABR Bio]
-  GG w/STL 1959-65; w/PHI 1966.  [Vic Power did it for CLE & MIN in the AL.]
-  1st AB T2 vs. his future team: 07-May-1956; 200th HR 17-Jul-1968.  It was his career’s antepenultimate HR.  [Earl Averill was the first AL’er to do it 16‑Apr‑1929 and 22‑Jul‑1937.]
-  White is the first man of color to be president of the NL.  Elected in 1989 to replace Bart Giamatti who had been promoted to MLB commissioner.  White served in the position until 1994.
-  Replaced as the Giants’ 1st baseman by 2nd-ever unanimous ROY, Orlando Cepeda
FCR -  Mike Sparks, Sarasota
Incorrect guesses:  Keith Hernandez, George Scott

Q.        What Pirates’ rookie went 4-for-5 including a triple, two runs and two walks in his first two major league game under manager Clint Hurdle?
Hint:     Although he’s been on the field in games already two major league teams, he still hasn’t used up his rookie eligibility.
Hint:     No one else native to his home continent has ever played in a major league game before.
A.         GIFT NGOEPE
-  First two games:  26 & 28-Apr-2017
-  Career-to-date”  42 G, 82 PA, 72 AB
-  He was born and raised in the Republic of South Africa.
FCR -  Preston Salisbury, Starkville, Mississippi
Incorrect guesses:  Rennie Stennett

Q.        What reliever joined the Braves shortly after they landed in Milwaukee, but was out of the majors just after they won their only World Series championship there?
Hint:     Two eventual Hall-of-Fame teammate and a future World Series MVP were the only players whose WAR topped his in his first full season with the big club.
Hint:     He learned to throw the knuckleball from another Hall of Fame teammate.
A.         DAVE JOLLY  [SABR Bio]
-  His MLB career was played entirely w/MLN 1953-57.
-  Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette were the only players measurably more valuable to the 1954 Braves than he was.
-  He and Hoyt Wilhelm were both professional rookies at Class D Mooresville of the North Carolina State League 1946 & 47.  (I’m guessing the irony of naming the team The Moors was lost on team owners.)
FCR -  Dave Serota, Kalamazoo
Incorrect guesses:  Ernie Johnson, Ray Crone, Warren Hacker, Don McMahon, Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Liddle, Red Murff, Gene Conley

Q.        What BLTR future Dragon was awarded the first annual Harry Agganis Memorial Award?
Hint:     Ted Williams was in agreement with the choice, calling him, “…one of the greatest little competitors I ever played with, in a congratulatory telegram.
Hint:     With slightly less fanfare his little brother made it to the majors as well.
A.         BILLY KLAUS  [SABR Bio]
-  The Boston baseball writers gave him the HAMA in 1956.  Billy Batted Left and Threw Right.
-  Played on the Chunichi Dragons in 1963 w/ Bob Nieman and Jim Marshall.
-  Brother Bobby played in the majors 1964-65.
FCR -  Larry Hayes, San Francisco
Incorrect guesses:  Tony Conigliaro, Johnny Pesky, Denny Doyle, Dom DiMaggio, Don Blasingame, Nellie Fox

Q.        What teammate of Ty Cobb fits in nicely with this week’s theme?
Hint:     The Tigers showed them a tap to get him.
Hint:     Although his major league stay was brief, he racked up more than 160 wins in minor league, finishing with a .500+ record.
-  [I’m sure you’ve caught on to the theme by now.]
-  Born in Faucett, Missouri, the “Show Me” state.
-  Had a record of 166-162, including 8 straight seasons w/10+ wins.
FCR -  Josh Murphy, Cedar Rapids
Incorrect guesses: 

WEEKLY THEME – “Season’s Greetings” inspired by the card I received from the Hall of Fame.  Look carefully  […with apologies to J.T. Snow, Steve Christmas, and any other appropriate soul who didn’t make it into the collage.]

Hang your stockings from the Mantle.
It’s charming to hear Bells at this time of year.
It’s believed by some that a team of Deer pull Santa’s sleigh through the night.
Of all of Santa’ reindeer, it’s clear that Dancer was a team player and possibly the lithest.
You can hear a Christmas Carroll almost anywhere this time of year.
It’s a rare retail establishment sans Garland from about Black Friday on.
Dentists worry about the amount of Candy available to everyone.  Hey!  It’s festive!
You can’t deny it’s a Holliday, no matter which one appeals to you the most.
Former Angels’ owner introduced us to Rudolph, now the most famous reindeer of all.
Many people in the Northern Hemisphere hope for a White Christmas.
It’s rare if one does not receive at least one Gift this time of year.
You always hear Burl Ives wishing us a “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.
No matter how naughty, we still want that visit from Santa Klaus, n’est-ce pas?
Sure there was a snowman named “Frosty”, but isn’t that like naming your dog “Rover”?

First Correct Respondent to Identify ThemeJerry Miller, Liberty Hill, Texas
                                                                        (after Deer)

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