Interesting Rarely Known Sports Facts/Tidbits Thread


Welcoming our new insect overlords
We don't have bullpen data prior to 1901. For the most part this doesn't matter. No team in the 19th century carried a bullpen. Your spare pitchers were your other starters. A spare relief pitcher might also be a spare outfielder. In the 1870s you either were not allowed substitutions or you didn't even bother with carrying substitutes. If you wanted to take the pitcher out you sent him to the outfield and brought in the outfielder. You would almost NEVER take out a pitcher carrying a lead. So bullpens/relief pitchers were practically non-factors.

I thought of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders though. They were five tool bad. Bad hitting, bad pitching, bad fielding. They had bad relief pitching, right? They were third in the league in complete games. 138 complete games in 154 games total. This team where the "ace" went 4-30 constantly left their starting pitchers out to dry. The Spiders finished their season with 36 road games and I'm imaging a scenario where they tried to carry as few players as possible to save money.


Welcoming our new insect overlords
Baseball-Reference's Stathead (formerly the Play Index) added a Pivotal Play Finder. Essentially it uses Win Probability Added and takes it a step further to create Championship Win Probability Added. How much a play turned the tide towards a World Series championship. It's a fun little toy. The most important play in baseball history by this measure was Hal Smith's home run in game 7 of the 1960 World Series. That home run in the bottom of the 8th turned a Pirate deficit into a 9-7 lead. The most important regular season play, Bobby Thomson's home run. Take away tiebreaker games and the biggest regular season event was a bases loaded single by Carl Yastrzemski on the last day of the 1967 season. Gabby Hartnett's Homer In the Gloamin' was second, which is a great outcome.

A couple years ago I thought about a list of biggest strikeouts in baseball history. I'm curious what list this stat creates:
1. Bryan Shaw K's Javier Baez 2016 World Series, Game 7, 9th inning.
A successful squeeze bunt would've given the Cubs the lead. Baez missed.
2. Walter Johnson K's George "Highpockets" Kelly 1924 World Series, Game 7, 9th inning.
First and third one out, tie game. Walter Johnson struck him out.
3. Grover Cleveland Alexander K's Tony Lazzeri 1926 World Series.
They teach about this one in history class
4. Alejandro Pena K's Paul Sorrento, Game 7, 1991 World Series.
First and third with two outs. Sent Game 7 to extra innings.
5. Tug McGraw K's Jose Cardenal, Game 5, 1980 World Series.
A forgotten classic. After coughing up the lead in the top of the ninth, the Royals loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning.
6. George Mullin K's Ed Abbaticchio, Game 6, 1909 World Series.
A strikeout/caught stealing double play lead to the first Game 7 in World Series history between the Pirates and Tigers.
7. Bill Donovan K's Del Howard, Game 1, 1907 World Series.
Odd one here. Tigers lead Cubs 3-2 with two outs, runners 2nd/3rd. Howard strikes out but reaches on an E2 and the runner scores to tie the game. Game ends in a tie after 12 innings.
8. Ralph Terry K's Felipe Alou, Game 7, 1962 World Series.
Yankees lead 1-0 in the ninth. Matty Alou reaches on a bunt. Felipe strikes out, failing to move the runner. Willie Mays' double later in the inning put the Giants on the verge of victory before Willie McCovey hit that hard line drive. So ultimately not even one of the two most memorable at bats of the inning.
9. Jose Mesa K's Bobby Bonilla, Game 7, 1997 World Series.
Indians up a run in the ninth. Moises Alou singled. Mesa following by striking out Bonilla. The Indians never got closer to the win.
10. Johnson K's Kelly, Game 7, 1924 World Series, 11th inning.
This time first and second with two outs.


Welcoming our new insect overlords
I think Alexander's is the greatest since he was at least half dead when he struck out Lazzeri.
I think there's a good argument that it's the most famous strikeout of all time. Unless you're a Mets fan.

Also notable, the Baez at bat also featured the most consequential stolen base ever, since an error allowed Jason Heyward to take third base as well.


Welcoming our new insect overlords
I had started to put together a list of biggest hits for each franchise. I don't know where I placed it, but I remember it was fun to see that the biggest hit in Cardinals history was indeed the double that resulted in Enos' Slaughter's "mad dash" in the 1946 World Series.

Some fun in the opposite direction. On April 17, 1964, Don Zimmer hit a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Senators a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. It improved the Senators' record to 2-2 and was the biggest hit in franchise history until the franchise moved to Arlington, Texas.


Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
I always find Norm Charlton's acquisition one of the more unknown keys to that miracle Seattle Mariners 1995 run. Philadelphia had released him on 7/10 after he was sporting a horrendous 7.36 ERA, ERA+ of 58, and -0.9 WAR at $525,000. Seattle picks him up on July 14th for just $109,000 and Charlton proceeds to put up a sterling 1.51 ERA, 318 ERA+, and 2.2 WAR for them in their run to the playoffs.

He'd be league average for them in 1996 and then bottom out hard in 1997 (-2.5 WAR) but it's still an amazing story.


Welcoming our new insect overlords
Since it's a slow day. Biggest event from each franchise's history.

Baltimore Orioles: Dave Johnson's 1B. Game six, 1971 World Series.
Not a particularly memorable one. Johnson's seventh single tied the game for the Orioles, who went on to tie the series. The Pirates won game seven.

Boston Red Sox: Tris Speaker's single. Game eight (3-3-1), 1912 World Series.
Fred Snodgrass's famous error started this inning. Tris Speaker's single tied it and moved the winning run to third base. A sac fly won the series.

New York Yankees: Yogi Berra's home run. Game seven, 1960 World Series.
Yogi's three run home run put the Yankees up 5-4 in the 6th.

Tampa Bay Rays: Brett Phillips' single. Game four, 2020 World Series

Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter

Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko's Grand Slam, 2005 World Series

Cleveland Indians: Rajai Davis' Home Run, Game 7, 2016 World Series

Detroit Tigers: Jim Northrup's 3B. Game 7, 1968 World Series.
Northrup's triple scored three runs off Bob Gibson.

Kansas City Royals: Dane Iorg's 1B. Game 6, 1985 World Series
The end of the Don Denkinger game. The tying and winning runs scored on the same hit.

Minnesota Twins: Sid Bream grounds into double play. Game 7, 1991 World Series.
The only defensive play on this list. The Braves had the bases loaded with one out. Jack Morris escaped.

Washington Senators: Bucky Harris' 1B. Game 7, 1924 World Series.
Technically Twins history. Harris tied the game with a two run single. The Senators went on to win their only title in the 12th.

Houston Astros: Alex Bregman's 1B. Game 5, 2017 World Series.
The end of that 13-12 slugfest.

Los Angeles Angels: Garret Anderson's 1B. Game 6, 2002 World Series.
This all runs together for me so a quick recap. It's the eighth inning and the Angels trail 5-3. Darin Erstad leads off with a home run, 5-4. Tim Salmon singles, Chone Figgins comes in to pinch run. Garret Anderson singles to left, Barry Bonds kicks the ball around and we end up with Figgins at third and Anderson at second. Troy Glaus' 2B puts the Angels in front. But that Anderson hit rates the highest.

Oakland Athletics: Don Mincher's 1B. Game 4, 1972 World Series.
Nine world championships between Philadelphia and Oakland and the best we can do is the time Don Mincher tied game four with a single?!

Ok. The crowd liked it and we get Charlie Finley in there. I'll allow it.

Seattle Mariners: Jay Buhner's HR. Game 3, 1995 ALCS.
The Yankees/Mariners classic was a divisional series game. Here, Jay Buhner hit a home run to put the Mariners up 5-2 in extra innings and take a series lead over Cleveland. Still the closest the Mariners have ever come to a World Series.

Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton's HR. Game 6, 2011 World Series.
One out away. Twice.

I'll do the National League in a separate post.


Welcoming our new insect overlords
Atlanta Braves: Francisco Cabrera's 1B. Game 7, 1992 NLCS.
Bases loaded, two outs. Do or die.

Miami Marlins: Edgar Renteria's 1B. Game 7, 1997 World Series.
The series winner.

New York Mets: Keith Hernandez's 1B. Game 7, 1986 World Series.
The Red Sox led game seven 3-0 in the 6th. With the bases loaded and one out Hernandez hit a single that scored two runs and cut the Red Sox lead to one. A footnote on Hernandez, he had a bigger hit in 1982 for the Cardinals driving in the tying runs in game seven against the Brewers.

Mookie Wilson's single and the preceding wild pitch are listed separately. If you take Wilson's at bat as a whole it rates fourth all time in MLB history.

Philadelphia Phillies: Manny Trillo's 3B. Game 5, 1980 NLCS.
Phillies take the lead in the deciding game! The Astros tied it, the game took two more innings to decide.

Washington Nationals: Howie Kendrick's Home Run. Game 7, 2019 World Series.

Chicago Cubs: Ben Zobrist's 2B. Game 7, 2016 World Series.
This one put the Cubs ahead in the 10th.

Cincinnati Reds: Joe Morgan's 1B. Game 7, 1975 World Series.
Two outs, top of the ninth, tie game. Morgan's single put the Reds ahead.

Milwaukee Brewers: Cecil Cooper's 1B. Game 5, 1982 ALCS.
When people bitch about multipurpose stadiums, remember they made those crowds GREAT.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Hal Smith's HR. Game 7, 1960 World Series.
Mazeroski got the headlines. Hal Smith was the most clutch.

St. Louis Cardinals: Harry Walker's 2B. Game 7, 1946 World Series
Enos Slaughter's mad dash.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Tony Womack's 2B. Game 7, 2001 World Series.
Two biggest sighs of relief in my life. Donald Trump losing re-election, and Tony Womack tying this game.

Colorado Rockies: Matt Holliday's 3B. Game 163, 2007.
The play before Holliday may or may not have touch home plate while giving himself a concussion.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Cookie Lavagetto's 2B. Game 4, 1947 World Series.
I'm really glad this one came up. Bill Bevens has thrown 8 2/3rds innings of hitless baseball, but he's walked ten. It's the bottom of the ninth, Yankees lead 2-1, the Dodgers have two runners on base. With two outs Lavagetto breaks up the no-hitter and wins the game.

For purely Los Angeles Kirk Gibson's home run is number one.

San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn's 2B. Game five, 1984 NLCS.
A stake in the heart of the Cubs.

San Francisco Giants: Bobby Thomson. Game 157, 1951.

The Giants solely in San Francisco have Jim Davenport drawing a walk to tie the deciding game in 1962. A walk! It barely beats Sal Perez popping up to end the 2014 World Series.