Cubs hit 'em in order
In a recent game, the Cubs hit home runs in numerically correct order -- solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam.
As long as all you useless infomaniacs want to keep on writing, we'll keep cranking out more editions of our Useless Reader Information Dept. So here it comes:
First Prize: Two loyal readers, Matt Steiner and John Wilheim, didn't need to follow the Tour de France to know a great cycling event when they saw one. Both noticed that on July 22, the Cubs hit four home runs in the perfect, numerically correct order:
So how often, they wondered, has a team homered for the cycle -- in that order? Boy, are we glad they asked.
According to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent, this was only the third time a team had ever done that -- and the first time any National League team had done it. Let's just say if you were watching the last time, it sure wasn't via satellite. The previous two occasions:
Aug. 23, 1938 -- Red Sox vs. Indians
Solo: Jimmie Foxx
Two-run: Joe Cronin
Three-run: Joe Cronin
Grand slam: Jimmie Foxx
June 24, 1936 -- Yankees at White Sox
Solo: Frank Crosetti
Two-run: Joe DiMaggio
Three-run: Joe DiMaggio
Grand slam: Jake Powell
(After doing that, by the way, the Yankees started over -- with a solo homer by Bill Dickey. But alas, they stopped there.)
Second Prize: As those Seattle Mariners careen south, their current pace puts them on track to lose 102 games. As loyal reader Dan Rosenberg points out, losing 100 games just three years after winning 116 is as hard to do as it is hard to believe.
So what, he wondered, is the record for fewest seasons between winning 100 and losing 100?
And the answer is: You could be looking at it.
That is four years, and it has held up for nearly 90 years, since Connie Mack's old Philadelphia A's went 101-50 in 1911 and 43-109 in 1915.
Even more amazing is that nearly half the members of these 2004 Mariners (10 of them) were also part of that 2001 team. The 1915 A's had only seven players left from 1911 -- and one of them (Ira Thomas) appeared in just one game.
Third Prize: Loyal readers John Temple and Dean Draper noticed that Cardinals pitcher Woody Williams literally did it all in his July 21 win over the Brewers.
He threw seven shutout innings. He scored the only run for either team. And he outhit all his teammates combined, 2 to 1.
Well, you don't see that much. So to find some kind of precedent, we sent retrosheet.org's Dave Smith blitzing through his files.
He found only three other pitchers in the past decade who scored the only run in a 1-0 game:
|Useless Names And Numbers|
Useless Crazy Eights: Normally, we like our prize-winning submissions to the Useless Info Dept. to be questions that actually have answers. But we're doling out points to loyal reader Nasser Kashani in this edition for his sheer observatory powers.
On July 31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, he reports, the Cubs fielded a lineup in three straight games that included a player wearing No. 8.
What made this such a Useless Info kind of feat, though, is that a different player wore that number in each of those games: Alex Gonzalez, then Nomar Garciaparra (who was traded for Gonzalez), then Michael Barrett (who swapped numbers with Nomar). Hard to do, folks.
Useless Justin-ology: Feel free to correct us if this is wrong. But loyal reader Julian McCracken nominates the July 20 Oakland-Toronto game as the first in history in which the winning and losing pitcher were both named Justin (Lehr and Speier).
Useless Lineup Trifecta Dept.: Nobody plays the baseball name game better than loyal reader Nathaniel Lee. So you can imagine how excited he was recently when the Orioles rolled out a lineup in which three different players had the same last name (Lopez).
Those three namesakes were Luis, Javy and Rodrigo Lopez. And they were all in the lineup for games on July 6 and 17, plus a July 27 game that got rained out.
So how often do you see three players with the same name start a game for the same team? Just two other times since 1969, Lee reports:
Because Lee used Retrosheet's box-score database, and it's unavailable beyond 1969, he was unable to research whether teammates like Peaches, Spud and Kiddo Davis (1937-38 Reds), or Danny, Harry and Zack Taylor (1932 Cubs) ever started in the same lineup. But you get the idea.
Useless Presidential Namesakes: After our June edition of Useless Information, in which we discussed draft picks named after presidents, loyal reader Jared Wexler got to wondering why the only current player with the same name as the president (Blue Jays pitcher David Bush) plays in Canada. So he looked up this tidbit:
Bush is the third player in history to play for a team in Canada while a man with his name was serving as the president south of the border. The others:
Homer Bush, Blue Jays, 2001-2002 (George W. Bush)
Otis Nixon missed intersecting with the term of his man, Richard M., by 12 years, in case you were ready to look that up.
Meanwhile, Smith turned up 10 other 1-0 games in the division-play era in which a pitcher outhit his teammates. But the only previous pitcher to outhit his teammates and score the only run was another Cardinal, Jose DeLeon, who did it on Sept. 6, 1988. Must be something in that St. Louis water.
Fourth Prize: It sure is selfless of readers to submit prize-winning entries without even giving their names. One loyal (but anonymous) reader had a fascinating question about the Oakland-Seattle game of July 21.
That was a game in which the first pitch of the night was hit for a home run (by Mark Kotsay), and the last pitch of the night was also hit for a home run (a Bucky Jacobsen game-winner). How often do you see that happen?
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in 14 years. Last time: Sept. 13, 1990 (Astros-Reds). First-pitch homer: Eric Yelding. Last-pitch homer: Barry Larkin.
Fifth Prize: It isn't often that the great state of Delaware gets its due. But loyal reader Jonathan Dunkle, operator of the www.delawarebaseball.com Web site, is about to make up for that.
What was the historic significance of John Mabry's July 25 homer off Wayne Franklin in a Cardinals-Giants game? Dunkle reports it was the first homer by a Delaware native off another Delaware native since a pitcher (Bert Cunningham) homered off John (Sadie) McMahon on May 22, 1897. What else?
More Useless Greg Maddux Info
The Greg Maddux 300th-win tidbits keep on coming, thanks to loyal reader Doug Greenwald.
Now here come two more great Maddux notes, from loyal reader Graham Hudson:
Readers Ask The Sultan
Yabut also reminded us that the Phillies were the last team in the league to hit a home run this year -- and wondered how many teams had led their league after taking that long to hit their first homer?
Well, believe it or not, it's not that unusual for a team to be the last to homer and still lead its league. According to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent, it was done just last year (by the Braves).
Only nine teams have led their league in homers without hitting a grand slam. And here they are, according to the Sultan:
American League: 1958 Yankees, 1922 A's
National League: 1920 Phillies, 1939 Giants, 1943 Giants, 1958 Cubs, 1980 Dodgers, 1981 Dodgers, 1994 Braves
It happened May 7, when Karros, Eric Chavez and Eric Byrnes all homered. That inspired the Sultan to research all the games ever played in which three different guys with the same first name -- any first name -- hit a homer.
He found nine previous times that had happened -- but only twice for one team. Here goes:
Sept. 9, 1939 (Red Sox-Yankees) -- Joe: Cronin, DiMaggio, Gordon
Aug. 6, 1941 (Red Sox-Yankees) -- Joe: Cronin, DiMaggio, Gordon
Aug. 23, 1939 (White Sox-Yankees) -- Joe: Kuhel, DiMaggio, Gordon
July 27, 1963 (Tigers-Senators) -- Don: Wert, Lock (two HR), Zimmer
July 23, 1965 (Tigers-Orioles) -- Don: Buford, Demeter, Wert
Sept. 6, 1980 (Yankees-Angels) -- Bobby: Clark, Grich, Brown
Oct. 2, 1985 (Rangers-A's) -- Steve: Henderson, Kiefer, Buechele
Aug. 20, 1995 (Phillies) -- Kevin: Jordan, Flora, Stocker
May 6, 1960 (Giants) -- Willie: Kirkland, Mays, McCovey
Our Latest Reader Challenge
Speaking of names, we know it's been a while since our last reader challenge. But we've had some fabulous research done out there. So here are the answers:
Loyal reader Michael Mavrogiannis, who seems to specialize in this sort of crazed research, then figured out every six-letter matchup since 1876. Fortunately, there weren't 8,000 of them. Here are the eight he came up with:
Howie Fox, CIN vs. Preacher Roe, BRO, 4 times, 1949-1951
Joey Jay, MIL/CIN vs. Vern Law, PIT, 4 times, 1959-1966
Rudy May, CAL vs. Casey Cox, WAS, 1970
Bill Lee, BOS vs. Casey Cox, WAS, 1971
Rudy May, NYA vs. Bill Lee, BOS, 1974
Doug Rau, LAN vs. Bill Lee, MON, 1979
Charlie Lea, MON vs. Danny Cox, STL, 1984
Charlie Lea, MIN vs. Jimmy Key, TOR, 2 times, 1989
We also asked whether the two winning pitchers in a June 10 Expos-Royals doubleheader (Zach Day and Sun-woo Kim) represented the fewest letters in the last names of two winning pitchers in a doubleheader. And Mavrogiannis found four similar combinations since 1920:
9/23/1930 -- Jakie May, CIN at PIT; Ken Ash, CIN at PIT
9/15/1948 -- Howie Fox, CIN at BRO; Preacher Roe, BRO vs. CIN
8/26/1951 -- Vern Law, PIT at BRO; Preacher Roe, BRO vs. PIT
7/4/1966 -- Vern Law, PIT at CHN; Don Lee, CHN vs. PIT
We didn't even ask what the record was for most pitchers with three-letter names winning a game on the same day. But Mavrogiannis looked that up, too (since 1920, anyway). And the answer is ... three (on four different days):
That wasn't all Mavrogiannis looked up, by the way. But it's time to give someone else a chance. And loyal reader Aneel Trivedi took a different approach to this question -- by looking up the fewest letters in opposing pitchers' first and last names combined.
The record, since 1920, is 13. But it hasn't been equaled, for some reason, since 1963 (Jim Kaat vs. Don Lee).
Here are all the 13-letter matchups Trivedi could find:
June 16,1924 Hi Bell vs. Art Nehf
May 31,1926 (and three other times through 1934) Hi Bell vs. Guy Bush
Aug. 23,1928 (and one other time in 1929) Ray Moss vs. Ken Ash
April 27,1929 Ken Ash vs. Hal Haid
Sept. 13,1946 Ed Bahr vs. Bill Lee
Sept. 29,1946 Al Tate vs. Al Libke
July 26,1953 Ed Lopat vs. Al Aber
July 18,1954 Al Aber vs. Bob Grim
June 8,1962 Ed Rakow vs. Don Lee
May 8,1963 Jim Kaat vs. Don Lee
And finally, one more reader (who didn't give his name) looked up two more related developments.
Ken Raffensberger (Phillies) vs. Fritz Ostermueller (Pirates) 9/29/1944.
10 -- Al Hollingsworth vs. Bill Lee, 8/21/1937
10 -- Ken Raffensberger vs. Preacher Roe, many times
10 -- Ken Raffensberger vs. Bill Lee, 4/20/1946 and 8/15/1946
10 -- Ken Raffensberger vs. Vern Law, 4/29/1951
Phew. Fun stuff. But that's enough of that.
This Month's Challenge
Ah, but we will let you bombard us with e-mails on this wrinkle in the Garciaparra trade:
Since Doug Mientkiewicz was in the same four-team deal, loyal reader Dan Frank was wondering if anyone could come up with the two players whose names combined for the most letters in the same trade. Good luck. And send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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