Major League Baseball's World Series is upon us, so I thought I'd discuss some baseball trivia. Also, another holiday is fast approaching, so Happy Halloween, everyone!
As before, I'm using some statistical abbreviations. Rbi is runs batted in, the "slash" is a player's batting average/on base percentage/slugging average, and adjusted OPS is their on base plus slugging average adjusted for time period, ball park, etc., with 100 being average, and over that above average, etc.. Similarly, ERA is a pitcher's earned run average, and WHIP is walks and hits per inning pitched, with 1.000 being excellent, about 1.250 to 1.300 average, etc. And adjusted ERA is like OPS adjusted, only for pitchers, with 100 being average, and less than that below average.
Hitting multiple home runs in a game is obviously special. Even more special is doing so in a playoff game. The record is 3, held by 10 players, and accomplished 11 times (1 guy did it twice, clearly). Oddly, it's been done twice so far this year, with at least 2 more World Series games to go.
1) 1926 Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, Game 4 of the World Series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
2) 1928 Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, Game 4 of the World Series, again versus the Cardinals.
3) 1971 Bob Robertson, Pittsburgh Pirates, Game 2 of the NLCS, versus the San Francisco Giants.
4) 1977 Reggie Jackson, New York Yankees, Game 6 of the World Series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.
5) 1978 George Brett, Kansas City Royals, Game 3 of the ALCS, against the New York Yankees.
6) 2002 Adam Kennedy, Anaheim Angels, Game 5 of the ALCS, versus the Minnesota Twins.
7) 2011 Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, Game 4 of the ALDS, against the Tampa Bay Rays.
8) 2011 Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardianals, Game 3 of the World Series, versus the Texas Rangers.
9) 2012 Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants, Game 1 of the World Series, versus the Detroit Tigers.
10) 2017 Jose Altuve, Houston Astros, Game 1 of the ALDS, against the Boston Red Sox.
11) 2017 Enrique (Kike) Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers, Game 5 of the NLCS, versus the Chicago Cubs.
Only one guy has ever hit 6 home runs in a single playoff series--Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers in the 2011 ALCS. He had a record 13 rbi as well.
The youngest player in World Series history was Fred Lindstrom of the New York Giants in 1924--he was only 18 years, 10 months, and 13 days old. Conversely, the oldest World Series participant was Jack Quinn of the Philadelphia Athletics. He was 46 years, 2 months, and 29 days old.
Only one pitcher has appeared in all 7 games his team played in a World Series--Darold Knowles of the 1973 Oakland Athletics. (Update--5 days after I wrote this Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Brandon Morrow tied Knowles by pitching in all 7 games of the 2017 Series.) (There were times in the Series' early days when teams played best out of 9 game Series, but no one pitched in 7 or more games during these occasions.)
Robby Thompson holds the dubious record of being caught stealing the most times in a game, with 4, while a member of the San Francisco Giants vs. the Cincinnati Reds in a game on June 27, 1986. The game did go 12 innings.
Juan Alverez and Ed Olwine hold the record for most games pitched while never getting credit for a win, with 80. Alvarez was 0-5, with a 5.22 ERA in 60.1 innings, a 1.624 WHIP, and a ERA adjusted of 91 in his 4 year career from 1999-2003. Olwine was 0-1, with a 4.52 ERA, a 1.238 WHIP, in 89.2 innings, with a 89 adjusted ERA in his career from 1986-88.
Catcher Russ Nixon holds the record for most at bats without a single stolen base. He finished with a .268/.310/.361 "slash," a 84 OPS adjusted, while playing in 906 games, with 2715 plate appearances, from 1957-68. He was thrown out 7 times attempting to steal.
Richie Ashburn "accomplished" an incredible feat while playing with the Philadelphia Phillies on August 17, 1957, against the New York Giants in Philadelphia. He hit a foul ball into the stands, which unfortunately hit spectator Alice Roth in the face, breaking her nose. The game was paused while Roth was tended to, and was put on a stretcher to be removed to a hospital. However, by this time the game was resumed. On the first pitch, Ashburn again fouled off the ball, and hit Roth while she was lying on the stretcher, breaking a bone in her knee this time. Ashburn visited Roth in the hospital, and they became friends (her husband was a newspaper editor with the local Philadelphia Bulletin). Roth's grandchildren, who also were in attendance, got to visit the Phillies clubhouse, meet the players, and received some autographs. They apparently enjoyed themselves so much that they asked their Grandmother if she'd mind going to a Philadelphia Eagles game and getting hit in the face with a football next!
George Medich's nickname, "Doc," was literal--he was training to be a doctor, and became one in addition to his Major League career. While at a game in Baltimore on July 17th, 1978. the Texas Ranger pitcher treated a fan (Germain Languth) who was having a heart attack, and was credited with saving the man's life. (Sadly, according to the online sources I read, in 2002 Medich plead guilty to 12 counts of intentionally possessing controlled substances using prescriptions written out to nonexistent patients, and had his medical licence suspended by the state of Pennsylvania was expelled from the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons.)
Pitcher Jerry Garvin had a rather mediocre 6 year career with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-82, finishing with a 20-41 won-loss record, a 4.34 ERA, a 1.431 WHIP, and an adjusted ERA of 94. However, he may have been the best ever at picking runners off. He picked off 4 in one game, and either 23 or 26 in a season (1977), which are believed to be all time records. Why all the hedging, you may ask? Because alas, throughout much of MLB history a distinction was not made between pitchers picking off a runner, and runners caught stealing by other means.
Sticking with obscure, not comprehensively-recorded statistics, consider the hidden ball trick. This is when a fielder fools a base runner by confusing them about who's holding the ball. For example, a first baseman may receive an attempted pick off throw, which is unsuccessful, and then fake a throw back to the pitcher. Then when the base runner takes their lead, the first baseman tags them out with the hidden baseball. Anyway, third baseman Bill Coughlin of the Detroit Tigers was considered the master of this, allegedly pulling it off 7 times in his 9 year career, from 1899-1908. He's also the only person to pull this off in a World Series game, against the Chicago Cubs Jimmy Slagle in Game 2 of the 1907 series. (Otherwise Coughlin was less than mediocre, finishing with a slash of .252/.299/.319, with an adjusted OPS of 87.) As with Garvin's supposed record, though, this lifetime record isn't absolute, as lists of successful hidden ball tricks haven't been kept.
The record for most rbi in a World Series game is 6, held by 4 players:
1) 1960 Bobby Richardson, New York Yankees, vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2) 2009 Hideki Matsui, New York Yankees, against the Philadelphia Phillies.
3) 2011 Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals, vs. the Texas Rangers (the same game when he hit 3 home runs).
4) 2016 Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs, vs. the Cleveland Indians.
Surprisingly, the record for hitting into the most double plays in one World Series game is held by Hall of Famer Willie Mays. In Game 4 of the 1951 Series he hit into 3.
The record for most earned runs given up in a World Series game is 8, held by 2 players. St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander gave up his in 2.1 innings in Game 2 of the 1928 Series against the New York Yankees, yielding 6 hits and 4 walks. New York Yankee hurler Jay Witasick pitched even worse, giving up his 8 in only 1.1 innings, giving up 10 hits in the process. This was in Game 6 of the 2001 Series vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Which World Series winning team was the best ever is obviously a subjective argument. However, based on having the most Hall of Famers on the roster, the winner is the 1932 New York Yankees, who boasted 9 members. These were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Red Ruffing, Bill Dickey, Herb Pennock, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Joe Sewell, and Lefty Gomez. (Some of these players were voted in by the Veteran's Committee, and not the regular voters, if you're a Hall of Fame purist.)
Staying on the Hall, every World Series winning team has had at least 1 Hall of Famer on their roster up until 1996, with 2 exceptions. (I'm using 1996 as a kind of arbitrary cutoff, since many players are voted in years or decades after their playing career has finished. Also, some teams, like the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, didn't play their sole Hall of Famer (Don Sutton) in the Series that year.) These two are the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1984 Detroit Tigers (manager Sparky Anderson is in the Hall, though). The 1981 Dodger team had two players who may one day be voted in--Steve Garvey and Ron Cey, in my opinion. On the 1984 team you can make cases for Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and maybe even the underrated Darrell Evans. (Update--remove the Tigers from this category, as both Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, by the Veteran's Committee.)
I'll end by discussing some records set in the 2017 Series, which is still on going as I type this. The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers set a record by hitting 8 home runs in Game 2, 4 by each team. In that same game, the Astros set a record by hitting 3 home runs in extra innings, which hasn't ever been done in any playoff series. Finally, in that exciting Game 2 Astro Marwin Gonzalez was only the 10th guy to hit a game tying home run in the 9th inning of a World Series game. Here's the list. 6 times the team they hit it for went on to win the game, marked with a (W).
1) 1911 Frank (Home Run) Baker, Philadelphia Athletics, vs. the New York Giants, Game 3. (W)
2) 1929 Mule Haas, Philadelphia Athletics, vs. the Chicago Cubs. Game 5. (W)
3) 1953 Carl Furillo, Brooklyn Dodgers, vs. the New York Yankees, Game 6.
4) 1957 Elston Howard, New York Yankees, vs. the Milwaukee Braves, Game 4.
5) 1964 Tom Tresh, New York Yankees, vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, Game 5.
6) 1975 Dwight Evans, Boston Red Sox, vs. the Cincinnati Reds Game 3,.
7) 2001 Tino Martinez, New York Yankees, vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks, Game 4. (W)
8) 2001 Scott Brosius, New York Yankees, vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks, Game 5. (W) (Yes, the Yankees did this in consecutive games, against the same pitcher, no less--Byung-Hyun Kim!)
9) 2015 Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals, vs. the New York Mets, Game 1. (W)
10 2017 Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros, vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, Game 2. (W)
(Update--some more big Series records were tied or broken in the 2017 games. Most notably, Houston Astro George Springer tied the all time record held by Reggie Jackson (1977 Series, vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, while playing with the New York Yankees) and Chase Utley (2009 Series, playing with the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the New York Yankees) by hitting 5 home runs in a single series. Springer also set the record for most total bases in a single series, with 29. The old record was 25, held by Jackson for the 1977 Series, and by Willie Stargell, playing with the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. the Baltimore Orioles in the 1979 World Series.)
Finally, one last bit of trivia, this time of the horror variety. While a teenager, legendary horror movie director George Romero (RIP), worked as a "gofer" (assistant crew member, usually uncredited) on the set of Alfred Hitchcock's classic "North by Northwest" (1959). He reportedly found it a negative experience, as he didn't like Hitchcock's chilly and distant manner, and thought Hitchcock's shooting style was too technical and mechanical.