Sunday, July 12, 2020

2020-07-06 Players who prompted rules changes

Q.        Who holds the record for the longest span between batting titles in the expansion era?
Hint:     He is the only player to hit three home runs in a postseason game that his team lost.
Hint:     One season he had more RBI than games played.
A.         GEORGE BRETT  [SABR Bio]
-  Won batting titles in 1976 & 1990 for a 14 yr. span (Also won in 1980.)  Tony Gwynn is next w/a 13-yr span.
-  3 HR = G 3 1978 ALCS vs. NYY.  Brett hit lead-off that game and did all of his damage off Catfish Hunter.
-  In an injury-disrupted 1980 season for KCR he tallied 118 RBI in 117 G.  He was voted AL MVP that season and became the only man to win a Most Valuable Player Award for a Kansas City professional team until the Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes took home the NFL’s MVP honors in 2018.
FCR -  Darin Watson, Overland Park, Kansas
Incorrect guesses:  Willie Mays, Tony Gwynn, Johnny Mize, Barry Bonds, Wade Boggs

TUESDAY     07-Jul
Q.        Whose .313 average is the lowest to win a National League batting title?
Hint:     He once fractured his right middle finger by closing it in his Porsche’s door on the way to the bank.
Hint:     According to Baseball Digest, he once sneaked into the Angels Spring Training camp to spy on a Rod Carew bunting clinic.
A.         TONY GWYNN  [SABR Bio]
-  Gwynn hit .313 in 1988 for SDP, the only major league team he ever played for.  4 AL’ers had higher averages that year.
-  Car door accident = 18-May-1992 (Strange because it was probably a trip he made quite often.)  He missed 4 G as a result.
-  Story in Baseball Digest of May 2000.
FCR -  Fred Worth, Arkadelphia Arkansas
Incorrect guesses:  Bill Madlock, Keith Hernandez, Rafael Palmeiro, Wade Boggs, Terry Pendleton

Q.        What Hoosier Hall of Fame hero hurler holds the horrendous mark of 289 baes-on-balls surrendered in a single season?
Hint:     The only trade in his career was when he was swapped straight across for another Hall of Fame pitcher.
Hint:     Unafraid of sticking to his principals, he sat out two seasons over salary disputes and missed another due to a marital dispute.
A.         AMOS RUSIE  [SABR Bio]
-  289 BB in 1890.  (To be fair, he was just 19 years old and threw 548 innings that season.)
-  Was traded 15-Dec-1900 from NYG to CIN in exchange for Christy Mathewson who was only 20 and had never played a single inning for the Reds.  Rusie almost didn’t play for them either, totaling 22 innings and a record of 0-1.
-  Missed 1896 and 1899 over $ disagreements with NYG management and missed the entire 1900 season trying to salvage his marriage with his wife, May.  That effort was successful.
FCR -  Steve Newton, Newcastle, Delaware
Incorrect guesses:  Rube Waddell, John Tudor

Q.        Who hit the first home run in Baltimore Orioles history starting in 1954?
Hint:     He is one of just ten catchers to record two unassisted double plays in their careers.
Hint:     None of even the most diligent researchers have found any evidence that he and Billy Martin ever exchanged holiday cards. 
-  On 15-Apr-1954, in the Orioles’ 3rd game after their relocation from St. Louis, Courtney thrilled 46,354 home opener fans by clouting the first-ever MLB HR in Memorial Stadium.  He hit it off Virgil Trucks.
-  UDPs in 1958 w/WSH & 1960 w/BAL.  Complete list here
-  Both were tough, hard-nosed, even pugnacious personalities.  There was no love lost between Scrap Iron and Billy the Kid.  They clashed bitterly and often.
FCR -  Mark Pattison, Washington, DC
Incorrect guesses:  Gus Triandos, Ray Boone, Jim Gentile, Sherm Lollar, Matt Weiters, Rick Dempsey

THURSDAY    09-Jul
Q.        After Tommy Holmes in 1945, who was the next left-handed batter to compile a 35 game hitting streak?
Hint:     He attended a high school whose alumni include 19 major leaguers and a combine 31 All-Star Game selections.
Hint:     In one game where he didn’t think his team’s pitcher was getting a fair strike zone, he disguised himself as the ball boy, took some new balls out to the home plate ump and pled the case for his pitcher.
Hint:     He has participated in seven no-hitters.  He was on the winning side in four of them.
A.         CHASE UTLEY  [BR Bio]
-  35 G streak in 2006
-  Long Beach Polytechnic in California.  (Dirt-bag adjacent?)
-  It was as a Dodger that Utley asked Blue to give a more just strike zone to his teammate Clayton Kershaw
-  Present in 7 No-Hitters:
29-May-2010:  Roy Halladay’s perfect G against FLA while PHI
06-Oct-2010:  Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter vs. CIN while PHI
25-May 2014:  Josh Beckett no hitter against the PHI while on PHI
01-Sep-2014:  PHI combined no hitter against the ATL while on PHI
25-Jul-2015:  Cole Hamels no hitter against CHC, on DL with ankle injury, but in PHI dugout
21-Aug-2015:  Mike Fiers no hitter against LAD while on LAD
30-Aug-2015: Jake Arrieta no hitter against the LAD while on LAD
Utley was the last out in the Beckett no hitter against LAD (K) and then the last out with the LAD in the Arrieta no hitter (K again)
FCR -  Matt Clairmont, New Minas, Nova Scotia
Incorrect guesses:  Ken Landreaux, Vada Pinson, Lyman Bostock, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Jimmy Rollins, Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew

FRIDAY    10-Jul
Q.        Which player’s career batting average not only leads every active player at his position, but is in the all-time top ten for that position? 
Hint:     A prestigious award once named for a Hall of Famer is now more appropriately awarded in honor of his name.
Hint:     His likeness on the grounds of his home ballpark is made of an entirely different material from the ones his team had had erected for the five statues of its Hall of Famers.
A.         BUSTER POSEY  [BR Bio]
-  Posey is one of just 7 catchers who have caught over 750 games and maintained a .300+ career batting average.  He won the batting title in 2012, his MVP year.
-  In 2019, this prestigious award, given to the year’s top collegiate catcher, became The Buster Posey Award on its 20th anniversary.  Posey, a 2-time All-American at Florida State University, was chosen to be honored because the award’s previous namesake, Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, great as he was, never played college baseball.  Posey was not only a great college player (a shortstop), but he was recognized as Academic All-American of the Year with his 3.8 GPA at Florida State.
-  SFG’s Oracle Park sports 5 bronze player statues: Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Willie Mays and Gaylord Perry.  The life-size “statue” of Posey is made up of Legos!—more than 15,000 of them.  (Trend-setter?)
FCR -  Mark DeLodovico, Rockville, Maryland
Incorrect guesses:  Ty Cobb, Jose Altuve, Charlie Gehringer, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Miguel Cabrera, Joe Morgan

T.G.I.F. BONUS    10-Jul
Q.        Who was the first ETC. for TEC?
Hint:     According to a teammate, he once did much, MUCH more than just merely “calling his shot“.
Hint:     He was one of the few who befriended the young rookie Ty Cobb.
-  Schaefer was the Cubs’ 3B the very first time Tinker - to - Evers - to - Chance manned their famous positions together Saturday, 13-Sep-1902.
-  According to Davy Jones, Schaefer melodramatically predicted his pinch-hit, game-winning walk-off HR on 24-Jun-1906.  Jones immortalized the tale in the seminal baseball book The Glory of Their Times like this:  Germany announced to the crowd: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you are now looking at Herman Schaefer, better known as “Herman the Great”, acknowledged by one and all to be the greatest pinch-hitter in the world.  I am now going to hit the ball into the left field bleachers.  Thank you.’”  Facing Chicago’s ace lefty Doc White, Schaefer proceeded to hit the first pitch into the left field bleachers for a game-winning homer.  As he made his way around the diamond, Germany is said to have slid into every base, announcing his progress as if it were a horse race as he went around:  Schaefer leads at the half!” and so on.  After hook-sliding into home, he popped up, doffed his cap, bowed, and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes this afternoon’s performance.  I thank you for your kind attention.  Newspaper accounts of the game confirm the dramatic baseball details but only some of the fanciful embellishments offered by Jones.
-  Teammates in Detroit in 1905, Cobb hit .238 during his abbreviated rookie campaign while Germany stroked .244.  Cobb didn’t have many close friends on his own team, but the fun-loving and hard-playing Schaefer was one of the few.  In a caption under Schaefer’s photo in Cobb’s 1961 autobiography, Cobb writes, “…He was my teammate and a great pal.”
FCR -  Rich Klein, Plano, Texas
Incorrect guesses:  Sam Crawford, Eddie Collins, Bobby Lowe, Babe Ruth, Hughie Jennings

SATURDAY    11-Jul
Q.        Who was the first American ex-major leaguer to play professional baseball in Italy?
Hint:     He was at bat at Shea Stadium when its power flickered out—and stayed out for two days.
Hint:     He was famous for his speed, but it didn’t translate into base stealing.
A.         LENNY RANDLE  [SABR Bio]
-  Played for the Nettuno team starting in 1983 when he won the league’s batting crown with a .477 mark. Randle later managed and co-owned the Nettunesi – which have captured 17 Italian Baseball League titles and are known as “the Italian Yankees”. 
-  The power failure was part of the scary New York City blackout of 1977.  Lenny claims he had just hit a ball through the infield right when the lights went out, robbing him of a base hit when the game was suspended.  The score book tells a different story.
-  Among players with 250 career SB attempts since 1951, Randle’s “success” rate (58.2%) is the 3rd worst all-time, behind only Dave Parker (57.7%) and Pete Rose (57.1%).
FCR -  David Krassin, Los Angeles
Incorrect guesses:  Mike Piazza, Joe Pepitone, Ron Swoboda

Q.        Who used a glove tailor-made for a previous major leaguer who was BBTB?
Hint:     He has pitched for five different major league team in four seasons.
Hint:     He never failed to strike out as many as he walked in any season in the Bigs.
A.         PAT VENDITTE  [BR Bio]
-  Venditte could pitch with either arm and used the glove design that had originally been made for Greg Harris by Mizuno.
-  Though truly “armbidextrous”, major league batters had little trouble hitting him from either side of the plate.  Career ERA finished at a not-horrendous 5.03.
-  Career SO/BB tally is 53/28.
FCR -  Frank Stephenson, Rome, Georgia
Incorrect guesses:  Jim Abbott, Sammy Stewart

SUNDAY    12-Jul
Q.        Who was made famous partly because he never saw a strike in his debut at-bat in the majors?
Hint:     The day after his debut, he hurled a challenge at Bob Feller, saying, “I don’t think he can pitch to me.”
Hint:     His team’s owner called him “a corker”.
Hint:     He struck out looking in his final public at-bat.
A.         EDDIE GAEDEL  [SABR Bio]
-  Was walked (not intentionally) 19-Aug-1951.  He was promised additional at-bats, but none ever came.  “I still got my contract and Bill Veeck told me they would use me again.”
-  The Browns next faced Feller 07-Sep and got shut out by the future Hall of Famer righty.  Gaedel, however, was not in the lineup that day…or ever again.
- Bill Veeck meant that Gaedel was a gamer.  The dictionary definition of corker is “an excellent or astonishing person or thing”.
-  In a G 2½ later between 2 Sycamore, Illinois amateur teams, Gaedel was brought to bat.  Umpire Paul Lund called him out on 2 pitches delivered by the opponents’ Gene Davis.
FCR -  David Paulson, Columbia, Maryland
Incorrect guesses:  Tommy Byrne

WEEKLY THEME – Players who helped bring about a change in baseball’s rules.

Brett............... Illegal bat use no longer is grounds for declaring batter out, his ejection from the game or for allowing the opposition to protest

Courtney........ Catcher glove size limits

Gaedel............ Player contracts must be ratified by commish before they appear in a game

Gwynn............ Batting average championship can be won by adding enough imaginary hitless games to bring the player into qualification

Posey.............. Catcher home plate positioning/protection

Randle............ Players cannot alter path of ball in any way

Rusie.............. Home plate to pitching rubber distance increased to 60’6”

Schaefer......... Cannot steal a base you have passed

Utley............... New 2B slide rules

Venditte.......... Pitcher must indicate which hand he intends to use to pitch to each batter

First Correct Respondent to Identify ThemeRobert Charkovsky, Ashton, Maryland

Incorrect theme guesses:

Monday  -  First names from the musical “Hamilton”

Tuesday -  Players who won batting titles in multiple decades
               -  Players since 1900 to win a batting title with an average of .390 or higher
               -  Players who have won 3 or more batting titles
               -  The players with the highest single season batting averages since Ted Williams batted .401
               -  Third baseman with the highest lifetime batting average 

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