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Interesting Rarely Known Sports Facts/Tidbits Thread

alkeiper

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.
 

alkeiper

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.
 

alkeiper

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.
 

alkeiper

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.
 

HarleyQuinn

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.
 

alkeiper

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.
 

alkeiper

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.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
The 2005-06 San Antonio Spurs had Michael Finley (77 games), Brent Barry (74 games), Nick Van Exel (65 games), and Robert Horry (63 games) on their roster. Then the 2006-07 roster had Jacque Vaughn play 64 games before 2007-08 saw Kurt Thomas appear in 28 games and Damon Stoudamire appearing in 31 games...

Poppovich doing it how I'd sign 32+ year old "veterans" in my NBA 2K games for a last chance at glory
 

alkeiper

Welcoming our new insect overlords
Death threats used to be more common in sports apparently. Lou Brock and Bake McBride received one in the last week of the 1974 pennant race.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
I'm just finishing reading a history of the United States between 1973 and 1976 and Hank Aaron during chase to break the home run record got a level of hatred/death threats unseen by anyone besides Presidents and/or terrorists. It apparently the reception that Barry Bonds during his home run chase in the '00s look like a welcoming committee.
 

alkeiper

Welcoming our new insect overlords
I'm just finishing reading a history of the United States between 1973 and 1976 and Hank Aaron during chase to break the home run record got a level of hatred/death threats unseen by anyone besides Presidents and/or terrorists. It apparently the reception that Barry Bonds during his home run chase in the '00s look like a welcoming committee.
I believe it. The sample displayed in Ken Burns' Baseball is absolutely vile.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
It's worth highlighting that of Brady Anderson's 50 HRs in 1996, 33 were pulled down the line (there's a great YT video where it seems like a good 10-13 of his HRs that year barely cleared the fence). If not for the constant injuries and if he had been more of a serious "pull" hitter ala Kevin Millar as an extreme example, he probably could've challenged 30+ HR in another season.

Note that for his entire career, Anderson hit .426 with an .803 SLG on pulled balls including 123 HR (59% of his HR total)

YearBA PulledSLG PulledHR Pulled
1993.389.7699 (out of 13)
1994.392.7327 (out of 12)
1995.453.8959 (out of 16)
1996.5071.25333 (out of 50)
1997.476.89310 (out of 18)
1998.330.6708 (out of 18)
 

alkeiper

Welcoming our new insect overlords
I mentioned doing a dive on a Sporting News issue. To be honest I'm not really happy with it and it's incomplete. But rather than ditching the whole project I figured I would drop what I have.

Quick synopsis. The Sporting News was a weekly print magazine covering baseball. At its peak it was known as “the Bible of Baseball” and effectively the sport’s house organ. It ceased publishing print issues in 2012 and now exists as a digital only product. The print issues are archived online, accessible through Paper of Record. I thought it would be interesting to peruse an old issue in depth. One hundred years ago. Cover date February 17, 1921.

The New York Giants granted the Yankees use of the Polo Grounds through 1922. The Yankees are building a new ballpark, highly convenient to public transportation. The extension allows the Yankees to buy a bit of extra time building because post-war labor and material shortages have driven up prices. The author of this article, Joe Vila, ends by decrying the lack of official action taken against the indicted White Sox players.

Commissioner Landis is facing impeachment as a federal judge, primarily due to his taking the commissioner position. Some controversy exists from the Judge taking an outside salary. The attorney general has ruled in Landis’ favor. Landis’ term as a federal judge would end the next year after Landis felt he could resign on his own terms.

Joe Jackson and Lefty Williams are walking back their confessions to throwing games in the 1919 World Series. George Weaver swears his innocence.

Boston Red Sox manager Hugh Duffy made a stop in Baltimore to meet with pitcher Allen Russell. The pitcher suffered a nervous breakdown in 1920 but hopes to come back this season. The Red Sox are also hoping to purchase an outfielder, negotiating for the (AAA) Orioles’ center fielder Merwin Jacobson. (The Red Sox would end up trading Harry Hooper to the White Sox for Shano Collins and Nemo Leibold, one outfielder for two).

In St. Louis the schedule is important! The Cardinals only get one Saturday in New York, limiting their gate receipt potential there.

We’ve got a youth movement in Chicago. William Veeck (the father of the well known showman Bill Veeck) has released Fred Merkle, Buck Herzog and now Claude Hendrix).

The Tigers are preparing for Spring Training in San Antonio this year. This is Ty Cobb’s first season managing the club and former teammate Davey Jones is convinced Cobb will make good. A “veteran scribe” checks in with his assessment of Cobb’s theories. He’s in favor of Cobb ignoring precidents, abandoning morning practices and not drawing out plays.

This author launches into his own theories of baseball. The game is all about hitting! Players don’t take enough batting practice. They need to hit on instinct, not guess the pitch. (john B. Sheridan is the author here.)

To show the reach of baseball coverage in these days, page two includes missives sent from the Portsmouth Truckers and the Joplin Miners regarding their upcoming season.

The Philadelphia Athletics are doing their Spring Training in Lake Charles, Louisiana, scheduling exibitions with the Cardinals, Giants and Phillies as well as minor league teams. Few teams are training in Florida this season.

The Black Sox! Natinal League President John Heydler swears they will never return to the leagues. The players are bracing for a legal trial in which their defense largely hinges on what constitutes a “conspiracy.” Several players have been released from teams since the scandal, including Hal Chase, Heinie Zimmerman, Buck Herzog. There’s some suspicion regarding the released Claude Hendrix but nothing substantiated.

Fun note here. The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired a college pitcher named Arthur Riviere, said to be a smart pitcher with “a spectacular record for hitless ball and strikeouts achieved with an independent team in Texas last year. In St. Louis they are talking of Reviere as ‘another Sisler.” Riviere would compile a 6.10 ERA with the Cards and bounce around the minors afterwards.

A note on Frank O’Doul’s release from the Yankees the past season. O’Doul is a pitcher with some hitting prowess, but ran afoul of manager Miller Huggins. O’Doul would end up in the Pacific Coast League for several seasons. When he finally made it back to the majors he developed into a hell of a hitter.

The Yankees need a sun fielder! Literally an outfielder who can stand facing the sun.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
Awesome stuff. Russell (brother of Lefty Russell) actually came back for Boston and pitched through 1925 with Washington but was pretty much a shell of himself by then and was turned into a relief pitcher by the early 1920s.

Riviere ended up going 10-10 with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1922 (AA level), 14-11 with a 3.88 ERA for the Dallas Steers in 1926, and 12-15 with a 4.31 ERA for the San Antonio Bears in 1928.

As for Claude Hendrix, I found this via SABR. Fascinating & also highlights how entrenched gambling was beyond the very well known 1919 World Series probably going much earlier than people suspect and through at least 1920: "He remained out of the spotlight until September 4, 1920, when the Chicago Herald & Examiner reported that the Cubs-Phillies game on August 31 had been fixed in favor of the last-place Phils. The newspaper revealed that Cubs President Bill Veeck Sr. had received six telegrams and two phone calls informing him that gamblers were wagering heavily on the Phillies. Veeck pulled the starting assignment from Hendrix, who had supposedly placed a bet against the Cubs with Kansas City gambler Frog Thompson, and replaced him with star pitcher Pete Alexander, but the Cubs ended up losing anyway, 3-0. A grand jury was convened on September 7 to explore not only the tainted Cubs-Phillies game but the entire issue of baseball gambling, and the focus quickly shifted from Hendrix to the 1919 World Series. The incident involving Hendrix was never resolved, but the Cubs nonetheless released him at the end of the season."
 

alkeiper

Welcoming our new insect overlords
The 1920-21 offseason was really one of the most eventful in baseball history. Landis suspended the Black Sox in March. Their ban became permanent after their acquittal in criminal court. The Black Sox scandal along with some other grievances nearly tore apart the American League, with the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox threatening to leave and the other owners remaining loyal to Ban Johnson. That led to Landis' appointment.
 

alkeiper

Welcoming our new insect overlords
Commented on Twitter about the Phillies history of losing today. They finished with losing seasons in 30 of a stretch of 31 seasons. Their nadir was 1942, finishing 42-109. Digging in for tidbits about that misery:

-Longest winning streak, 3 wins
-Longest losing streak, 13 losses
-Total attendance: 230,183
-Runs Scored: 394 (last)
-Runs Allowed: 706 (last)

Not even entertaining bad like the '62 Mets. Just a brutal slog of a season where nothing interesting happens and nothing of promise exists.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
Worth highlighting guys like 1B Nick Etten, who took advantage of the World War II years to carve out a small MLB career as a lot of focus goes on what Ted Williams, etc. would've done if not for the war.

Etten was a part-time player in 1938 & 1939 before finally getting a full-time chance in 1941. He puts up OPS+ of 147 and 120 before being traded to the Yankees where he puts up OPS+ of 125 (7th in MVP Voting), 144, 135, and 89 before finishing his last year with Philadelphia in 1947. He actually led the AL with 22 HR and 97 BB in 1944 then led the AL with 111 RBI in 1945. At his peak, he was walking between 2-3X the times he was striking out.

In 1939 with Baltimore at AA, he slugged 14 HR in 384 AB while hitting .299 and followed that up with 24 HR in 576 AB hitting .321 in 1940. At 23 years old with Savannah, he hit 21 HR in 514 AB in 1937. It's clear he had some legitimate HR pop and an ability to hit/get on base. If not for World War II, he may never have gotten a real shot at the Major League level except in a part-time role.
 

alkeiper

Welcoming our new insect overlords
I look at someone like Al Glossop, career OPS+ of 66 and not to disparage him, but clearly a large number of negro league players could have cracked this lineup. The movie Fences drew the comparison between the protagonist and George Selkirk but really this was the quality of play in the bottom half of the league. It's not impressive.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
I never heard about a fan getting killed by a lawnmower shaped model airplane at a Jets-Patriots game in 1979 and I've read several books with the subject "LOL! The Patriots sure sucked before Belichick came along!". I feel like fans attending an 1970s Jets-Pats games already suffer enough without having to worry about TBIs.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
Babe Barna was what we'd call today a classic Quad-A player. He struggled in his MLB appearances finishing with a career .232 BA, .346 SLG, and 12 HR in 743 PA but was torching it from 1945-1950 with Minneapolis, Nashville, and Baltimore in the minor leagues from 30-35 years old. These types of players just always fascinate me because they have obvious talent but just could never put it together on the big stage the same way.

PlayerTeamYearPABASLG2BHRBBK
Babe BarnaMinneapolis1945661.309.556212512670
Babe BarnaMinneapolis1946587.298.516212814177
Babe BarnaMinneapolis
1947
440.324
.528
2321105
66
Babe BarnaMinneapolis1948628.288.54917239356
Babe BarnaNashville1949478.341.659
27
4212566
Babe BarnaBaltimore1950438 (AB).295.506111811848
 

Alfdogg

Alfdogg
The Lakers matched an NBA record last season by winning the championship after six straight seasons missing the playoffs. The first team to do this was the 1977 Portland Trailblazers, who were actually in their 7th year of existence, and won the championship in their first-ever appearance in the playoffs, a feat that will likely never be matched.
 
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