Did you know many major leaguers also played college football (and, of course, some even played in the majors and the NFL including Bo Jackson and Brian Jordan to name just two).
Here are a few men who played college ball and major league baseball: Mike Hargrove, Mickey Hatcher, Mike Cubbage, Darin Erstad, Lee Elia, Todd Helton, Art Howe, Rick Helling, Quinton McCracken, Herbert Perry, Merv Rettenmund, Chris Singleton, Bill Spiers, John Stearns, Eric Young, Ron Villone, and Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. As a nostalgia test, how many of those men do you remember playing either (or both) sports?
Did you know that in 1927 when Babe Ruth set the record for the most homers in a single season with 60, the entire output of the American League was 439. Therefore, Ruth accounted for 12% of all the league’s homers that season. Author Lee Allen made the amazing point that in 1953, when the N.L. hit a total of 1,197 HR, for a player to account for 12% of those blasts, he would have needed to belt an astonishing, impossible 145 home runs.
Here’s an item from June 19, 1927, which seems like a misprint given the way the game is played today: Jack Scott of the Phillies went the distance in both games of a double header, giving up only four runs but splitting two decisions. He is the last pitcher in the majors to complete two games on the same day.
Apparently, many years later Wilbur Wood, a knuckleball pitcher, started both ends of a double header, but apparently he never managed two complete games. Nowadays, of course, many pitchers don’t record two C.G. all year long and the amount of C.G. that league leaders put up today is, by contrast, absurdly low.
Fights among teammates are neither common, everyday events nor rare occurrences, but did you ever hear about two TV baseball announcers who got into it? One such skirmish took place on September 4th of 2018 when Detroit’s Mario Impemba and Rod Allen fought in the broadcast booth prior to a game in Chicago. The two had worked together for 17 years before the fight. Fox Sports Detroit suspended both men for the rest of the season.
I never understood why the Reds signed Homer Bailey to a big contract a few years ago. I thought he was way over valued. Well, in September of 2018, the Reds dropped him from their starting rotation when his record tumbled to 1-14 and his ERA soared to 6.09. On day’s he pitched his Reds went 1-19 for a “winning” percentage of .050!
Here’s a quick quiz item (below) taken from my book Name That Ballplayer 2nd edition which is coming out in April. If interested, you can pre-order it now for $12.99 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Name-That-Ballplayer-Ultimate-Whodunnit/dp/151074908X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=name+that+ballplayer&qid=1572880419&sr=8-1
The book is divided into sections with each subsequent section containing more and more difficult questions. The reader’s job is to guess the identity of the player in question using as few clues as possible. There’s more to it, but for now, try your skill with one sample item.
Question from an easy section:
Clue #1: A member of the Hall of Fame, Class of 2005, this popular Cubs infielder retired from the game part way through the 1994 season, upset with his performance and too proud to take what he felt would be an undeserved paycheck. He couldn’t stay away from the game he loved too long, though, and was back in 1996.
#2: In his first big league season, 1981, he played just 13 games for the Phillies. Traded the following season to Chicago along with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus, he would spend 15 years with the Cubs. His most memorable day of that tenure may well have been his two-homer performance on national television in June of 1984, with both smashes coming off the nearly untouchable Bruce Sutter.
#3: A real gimme clue—he was named after former big league pitcher Ryne Duren. Answer below, after next item.
Last point about Bailey: When he was removed from the starting rotation, he let it be known that a) he was making (not exactly earning) $21 million in the fifth year of a six-year deal which paid him $105 million in all. b) Bailey had the nerve to notify the Reds that he did not feel capable of working out of the pen–to which unsympathetic Reds fans probably muttered sarcastically, “Oh, poor Homer.” Or maybe, “Well then, where in the world CAN you pitch?” The Reds, however, must have listened to his lament as he did not work another game after his last start for them on 9/5/18.
They shipped him to the Royals who swapped him to Oakland and his 2019 split season resulted in his best record of his career at 13-9 but his ERA was 4.57, exactly what his lifetime ERA was going into ’19.
The Who Am I answer is Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. If you’d like a few more samples, perhaps more challenging ones, just let me know by making a comment.