- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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One thing we've learned in our careers is that all you folks out there in Reader Land definitely know Useless Information when you run across it. So we salute you now, with the best recent submissions we've run across in our overstuffed inbox.
There's nothing we love more, here at Useless Info Central, than the latest, greatest Brooks Kieschnick note. And loyal reader Jeff Kissel caught a classic last month, when the Reds intentionally walked this guy -- in a game he'd entered as a pitcher.
OK, so maybe Kieschnick isn't quite your typical pitcher. But the facts are the facts. And Kissel couldn't help but wonder about the last time any pitcher was intentionally walked.
Well, it's sure been a while. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it hadn't happened in 20 years -- since the Phillies intentionally walked Don Robinson to force a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the 13th inning, on June 22, 1984.
What's in a name? Very often, it's a tremendous Useless Info kind of note. And when Frank Menechino was traded to a Blue Jays team that already employed Frank Catalanotto, it definitely caused some brains out there to start smoking.
Loyal reader Michael Mavrogiannis, a longtime useless-info assembly line, began researching all the Franks in modern history who have played together. And, quite frankly, it's more rare than you think. In fact, if you throw out teams currently playing in the AL or NL Central, it hadn't happened in 30 years. And that's the Frank truth.
2004 Blue Jays: Catalanotto and Menechino
1998 Tigers: Castillo and Catalanotto
1989 Tigers: Tanana and Williams
1986 Twins: Pastore and Viola
1985 Twins: Eufemia and Viola
1983-84 Royals: White and Wills
1982-83 Astros: DiPino and LaCorte
1974-76 Indians: Duffy and Robinson
1973-74 Angels: Robinson and Tanana
In case you're wondering, the last time two Franks were postseason teammates, it was a mere eight decades ago, when Frankie Frisch and Frank Snyder played in the 1921-22-23-24 World Series. And in the '21 World Series, they even combined on a Snyder-to-Frisch caught-stealing of Babe Ruth.
More on this Catalanotto-Menechino pairing later in Useless Info.
For the Seattle Mariners, apparently, there's nothing more inspirational than working overtime. As loyal reader Matt Badley points out, they have the best record in the American League in extra-inning games (6-2, .750 win pct.). That's the good news.
The bad news is, when they're forced to play just the standard nine innings, they have the worst record in the league (15-32, .319 win pct.).
So you may be wondering, as Badley was, the last team to win that high a percentage of its extra-inning games and still have an overall winning percentage as lousy as the Mariners' (.382 through Sunday).
Correct answer, according to Elias: It was those 1981 Mets of Pat Zachry and Neil Allen's heyday. They were 6-1 (.857) in extra-inning games, 35-61 (.365) in regular-length games and 41-62 (.398) overall.
We never realized Jose Macias had such a big fan club until May 14, the day of the most historic Jose Macias achievement of all time. In the eighth and ninth innings that day, he accomplished every switch-hitter's dream:
He tripled from both sides of the plate in back-to-back innings. And three different loyal readers -- Rory Peck, Chris Venvertloh and Patrick Ashbrook wrote in to ask the ultimate Useless Info question: When's the last time that happened?
So Dave Smith, founder of the sensational retrosheet.org, went back through every game in the 36-season division-play era -- and found just one other instance of switch-hit triples from each side of the plate in back-to-back innings.
Macias' only other partner in this trifecta: Minnesota triple addict Cristian Guzman, on April 8, 2001. And useless information just doesn't get much more indispensable than that.
Loyal reader Anthony Agrella must have been a big Zorro fan sometime in his past, because he noticed recently that the Giants started an entire infield of guys with the letter Z in their name. Here goes:
Before all these Zzzzzs put you to sleep, we'll ask the question we're sure is on everybody's mind: What's the all-time record for most Z names in one lineup? Send your replies to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The readers caught us
In the most recent edition of the Useless Information Department, we proudly announced that Baltimore's Luis Lopez was the winner of this year's prestigious Last Guy To Get A Hit Award.
Except that, as it turned out, he wasn't.
We had no idea that real, live readers were actually chronicling this at home. But the first to inform us that we'd overlooked the true winner (if he ever gets a hit, that is) was loyal reader Joel Gluskin.
The real winner is one of our favorite people, Angels catcher Josh Paul -- who was incorrectly left off our list of players on Opening-Day rosters. But he did, in fact, make the Angels out of spring training, even though he's a catcher and neglected to change his last name to Molina. And he is, in fact, still 0 for the season (0 for 9).
So Paul remains a mere one hit away from joining the glittering list of LGTGAH winners. Stay tuned. And thanks for the correction.
Readers ask the Sultan
When a man has every home run every hit on his trusty computer, he gets a lot of questions. And not just from us. Here are the best recent inquiries from readers for the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent:
Oh, baby. Has anybody ever had a day like Rob Mackowiak?
We couldn't ask the Sultan to look up guys whose wives had babies before they hit homers in both ends of a doubleheader, as Mackowiak did May 28. But loyal reader Kevin Jacobsen did wonder how many players have hit walkoff homers in one game of a doubleheader and game-tying homers in the ninth inning in the second game.
It doesn't take long to list the answer: none.
In fact, only two teams have ever done that:
Aug. 24, 1988 (Orioles)
Larry Sheets (game-winning pinch homer in 9th, Game 1)
Eddie Murray (game-tying homer in 9th, Game 2)
Neither of those two teams then won Game 2 on a walkoff homer. But the Pirates did that night (Craig Wilson bopping the Game 2 winner). Amazin'.
Matt LeCroy, the only healthy extra man on the Twins' entire bench, hit a game-winning pinch grand slam on May 19. When loyal reader Rich Bade then read a list of all the Twins' pinch slams in history and saw that Rich Reese once hit three in four years, he wondered who the all-time pinch-slam leader was. The Sultan, of course, has the answer:
3 Ron Northey
3 Willie McCovey
3 Rich Reese
There are 22 players with two -- none of them active. That group includes Reggie Jackson, Jimmie Foxx and Dave Parker, not to mention Kurt Bevacqua, Champ Summers and Joe Orsulak.
MR. INSIDE-MR. OUTSIDE
As loyal reader Jeff Kabacinski has noticed, two different players this year (Pokey Reese and Carlos Guillen) have had games in which they hit inside-the-park and outside-the-park homers in the same game. According to the Sultan, this is the fourth season since 1994 in which at least two players have pulled that off. The others:
Our last reader challenge
Last month, we asked (and not a moment too soon) all you Useless Infomaniacs if Randy Johnson (6-10) and Richie Sexson (6-8) were the tallest pitcher-first baseman combination of all time. And thanks to the hundreds of you who informed us of the answer: yes.
But the big question was: What's the second-biggest combo?
We regret that our computer was nasty enough to eat up and spit out some of your research before we had a chance to publish it. Sorry about that. Nevertheless, we got some fun entries that didn't disappear on us.
Russ Shelly contributed the Big Unit's previous biggest regular first baseman -- 6-foot-3 Andres Galarraga (1989 Expos). There were also four at 6-2: Tino Martinez (1993-95 Mariners), Paul Sorrento (1996-97 M's), Mark Grace (2001-03 Diamondbacks) and Lyle Overbay (last year).
And Aneel Trivedi checked into Sexson's tallest pitching cohort -- 6-foot-7 Jeff Juden. They played together in two September games for the 1997 Indians.
But nobody thought about this more creatively than loyal reader Jason Barber. He determined that the old record was held by Johnson and a guy who apparently played first base with him just twice -- 6-foot-5 Greg Pirkl (once in 1993, once in 1995).
But Barber also researched the shortest combo of all-time -- 5-6½ Ed Kent and 5-4 Trick McSorley, of the 1884 Toledo Blue Stockings. They were a combined 130½ inches tall, or about the same size as the Big Unit (give or take a couple of yards).
Barber also determined the shortest pair since World War II -- 5-8 Roy Face and 5-8 Paul Smith (136 inches), of the 1953 Pirates. They were matched by 5-9 Ramon Hernandez and 5-7 Vic Davalillo of the 1973 Pirates.
Barber's biggest height differential between a tall pitcher and a short first baseman was 12 inches, by 6-9 Johnny Gee and 5-9 Ripper Collins, of the 1941 Pirates. They were equaled by 6-7 Jim McKee and Davalillo, of the 1973 Pirates, and 6-7 Rick Sutcliffe and Davalillo, of the 1980 Dodgers.
And Barber still wasn't done. One last category: The biggest differential between a tall first baseman and a diminutive pitcher was 13 inches, by 5-4 Frank Morrissey and 6-5 Larry McLean of the 1901 Boston Americans.
So that's the long and short of one of the most thoroughly useless topics we've ever gotten you mixed up in. Thanks.
This week's challenge
Finally, we return to the most riveting topic of the week -- the pairing of Frank Catalanotto and Frank Menechino in Toronto. Before Catalanotto headed for the disabled list, he did drive in Menechino one day. Which caused loyal reader Daniel MacKinnon to start wondering (which is always dangerous):
What's the most letters of any RBI/run-scored twosome in history?
Well, with the help of his friend, Ryan Lind, MacKinnon determined that Catalanotto and Menechino (who take up 20 letters) didn't even comprise the most letters for an RBI/run duo of the last two years. A.J. Pierzynski and Doug Mientkiewicz (22 letters) passed them as Twins.
So the rest is up to you. Can anybody beat 22 letters? We shudder to ask. But send those nominees to email@example.com. And we'll do our best to piece through the alphabet soup for the next edition of Useless Reader Information.
11hFernando Lopez | ESPNDeportes.com
8hESPN Stats & Information